Steps reverberated off the walls of the various houses lined up throughout the city. To any casual passerby, it would seem like the sound of a normal individual walking calmly through the city at night. But if one listened closer, they would realize something rather odd about the sound of the steps they heard: each one was exactly the same length, as was the spacing in between them. It sounded rather like an eerie metronome ticking in the silence.
"Isn't this fantastic?" mused the owner of the footsteps. "Everything is so precise and perfect. I should train everyone at Shibusen to walk like this. The clutter of sound in the hallways would disappear, bringing the world closer to ultimate perfection!"
A sigh could be heard, and then a female voice, despite that there was only set of footsteps. "You're being ridiculous again, Kid…"
The obsessive-compulsive boy who measured his footsteps was Death the Kid, the son of Shinigami, the guardian of Death City. Kid was a shinigami himself, and a skilled weapon meister who wielded twin guns due to the perfect symmetry having one gun in each hand provided. However, while they were weapons at first glance, these guns were actually two shape-shifting girls called the Thompson sisters, Liz and Patty, who assisted Kid and were his loyal partners in combat. They also had to put up with Kid's neurotic tendencies, much to Liz's dismay and Patty's amusement.
"Of course you would say that," Kid responded, "but there is no greater perfection in this world than symmetry, both in appearance and in sound. Return to your human shapes, you two, and I will give you a lesson in the art of walking perfectly."
"Goody! " giggled Patty, while Liz just sighed once again. With a flash of light, the two guns in Kid's hands morphed into the shape of two slender girls, one with a goofy grin plastered to her face, the other with a rather pained expression.
"Now," Kid lectured, "I'm going to begin walking once again, and I want you to mirror my steps and rhythms exactly. If I hear one step out of place, there will be problems. Understand?"
Liz groaned. "Why can't you just let us stay transformed and save us the trouble?"
Patty twirled lopsidedly on one foot. "Oh, come on, sis, it'll be fun!"
With a dangerous expression, Kid turned on Patty. "Your pirouette – it was all wrong! When you do it, you need to keep your hands above your head bent at the exact same angle, and make sure they are exactly the same distance from each other, too! Let me demonstrate." Kid mimicked Patty's dance-like spin, executing it far more precisely than Patty herself had done.
The girl merely grinned. "Look, Liz, Kid's a ballerina!"
Kid opened his mouth to reply to this, but closed it again when he suddenly was overcome with a very strange sensation. A seemingly unregistered and unwelcome presence other than his own was roaming Death City, but he couldn't sense any evil intention in the soul. "Liz, Patty," he commanded sharply, "forget the lessons for now. We can resume them later."
"Oh, joy," Liz muttered.
The shinigami ignored the comment. "I sensed something just then, and I want to investigate. It seems to be coming from above us. Revert back to your weapon forms, and we can go after it." He stretched out his palm, and from it emerged a skateboard patterned with skulls. This was Kid's main form of aerial transportation, and one that he could call on at any time.
"In the dark?" Liz wailed. "But it's creepy out here! I thought we were going home."
Kid ignored her. "Transform already. I don't have all night. I can't be out fighting while the moon is positioned slightly to the left of Shibusen; it has to be right in the center."
Liz moaned and transformed. Patty, who had already morphed into her weapon form, laughed. "I can't wait to see who the intruder is! Maybe it'll be someone friendly!"
Hopping onto his skateboard, Kid gazed into the sky. Where was the being he had sensed? Then he saw it – a faintly-glowing streak moving across the sky. With a smug nod, he took off from the ground, grasping both guns firmly in his palms. "I can't take that chance," he finally responded to Patty. "Fire at the intruder in eight… seven… six…"
"You just had to start with eight, didn't you…" Liz whispered to herself.
"Five, four, three…." He raised the guns to target the streak. "…Two, one, zero." A slight smile appeared on Kid's face as he savored the perfect symmetry of the number zero. With this promising thought in mind, he pulled the triggers of both guns at once. Bullets composed of his soul wavelength shot out and spiraled towards his target. One passed by, but the other hit the flying figure square-on, and a loud shout could be heard from far away. Then the intruder began to fall.
"Liz!" Kid snapped. "Why did you miss?"
"I can't help it," Liz said, mentally shuddering. "I'm so creeped out."
For a moment, it seemed like Kid would respond, but he merely stated, "Let's go pick up our target," and dropped the subject. He sliced through the night sky on his skateboard, wind whipping his asymmetrically-striped hair backwards. Around the spot where he had seen the intruder drop from the sky, he circled for a moment before spotting the silhouette of a figure lying facedown in one of the alleyways. "There," he said, as he lowered himself to the ground and leapt off neatly.
The first thing he noticed was that the intruder was a boy, and almost human-seeming. His spiky hair was unnaturally white and swept dramatically to one side, which disgusted Kid. His body was also still steaming slightly due to the shot from Patty's gun that had hit him, but Kid disregarded that. Also. Kid had to admit, however grudgingly, that the boy's jumpsuit was rather symmetrical. It was all black save for white boots, a white belt, and a white collar, but everything matched up on both sides. Kid nodded his approval.
The boy groaned as he tried to lift his head and turn it to face Kid. His bright green eyes, unnatural as well, widened when he saw Kid leaning over him. "Are… are you the one who shot me?"
"Huh?" For a moment, Kid was confused, forgetting why he had come. "Oh, yes, you're not registered here in Death City, and it's my duty to protect the city from intruders. However, it seems like you are a rather harmless ghost, and –"
There was a shrill scream. "A ghost? A ghost? I knew this excursion could only lead to trouble! PATTY!" Liz yelped as she jumped into her sister's arms.
Patty was merely amused, and set her sister down gently. "Aw, come on, sis, he's so innocent and squishy! See?" To prove her point, Patty leaned down next to the ghost boy and began prodding him in the face.
"…I rather wish you wouldn't," the boy responded in a slightly strained voice.
"Patty!" Kid ordered. "Get away from him. I still have some unfinished business to attend to."
An expression of anxiety plastered itself on the ghost's face, and Patty laughed. "'Kay! Are you going to punish him really bad?"
Kid smirked when he saw the boy swallow nervously. "As I was saying," he continued, pointedly avoiding the question as he began to pace back and forth.
Step. Pause. Step. Pause. The ghost couldn't help noticing how measured his attacker's footsteps were. Concentrating on the rhythm seemed to help calm his nerves. What would this black-haired boy with the strange yellow eyes and his quirky female posse do to him in his downed state? He could only wonder, and pray that they would hear reason. "Um, listen, my name's Danny Phantom, and I'm afraid there's been a misunderst–"
"I am Death the Kid," the shinigami interrupted, much to the boy's dismay. "I am a shinigami and I devote myself to protecting this city from intruders possessing malicious intentions. However, as I can see, you are merely a misguided ghost, and your outfit is extremely symmetrical. Therefore, I am almost ready to forgive you."
Danny couldn't believe what he was hearing. This boy – this "Death the Kid" – was willing to forgive him based on his jumpsuit? "…Uh, not to be rude, but what does symmetry have to do with anything…?"
There was a sharp intake of breath as Liz gasped. "Now he's done it!"
Kid wheeled around to face Danny, golden eyes blazing. "What does symmetry have to do with anything? What does symmetry have to do with anything? Symmetry has to do with everything! Nothing in this world can exist to its full potential of perfection if it does not possess perfect symmetry. Let me show you." He proceeded to take a small notepad out of his pocket and a ruler.
Danny was speechless.
With a flourish, Kid opened the notepad, which had the number eight printed on the first page. "You see, my friend, the number eight is a beautiful and wonderful specimen. Not only can it be symmetrically divided this way," – he positioned the ruler, after some measuring, vertically through the exact center of the eight – "but it can also be divided horizontally and still maintain its natural perfection. Not like the numbers seven or nine, you see, which have no symmetry no matter how you draw the lines." He proceeded to illustrate both of these numbers with pictures and rulers, as if he were teaching a kindergartener.
"Perfection is what will eventually bring peace and an ultimately better world upon us. My dream as a perfect being, as a shinigami, is to bring perfection and symmetry to the entire world. Only in this way can everyone exist as flawless, exact entities, and only in this way can excellence be fully reached.
"I noted when I first saw your uniform that it demonstrated symmetry to a simple but effective degree, which I commend. You, my friend, could assist me in creating a better, flawless world. So now I hope you see why symmetry is important; without it, ultimate perfection and peace in the world could never exist!"
There was a painfully long silence, and then Danny spoke up hesitantly. "That's… that's all very well and all… but… you're not even quite symmetrical yourself," he said apologetically. "Your… your hair…the stripes…"
For a moment it seemed like Kid would attack Danny, and he braced himself against the ground. Then, the shinigami began to wail, and his expression became pathetic. "You're right, I'm a worthless individual! I agonize about this horrific truth every waking moment. Damn it, please, please just kill me…I just want to die!" Kid suddenly looked like he was about to burst into hysterical tears, and Danny, dreadfully wishing that he hadn't said a word, was flabbergasted.
"Kid!" Liz warned, hoping she could snap her meister out of it before he completely lost sight of the point of the excursion. "Remember what you're here for!"
To her relief, Kid straightened up and attempted to get himself together. "Ah… you're right, I need to calm myself down. Anyway, I apologize for any inconvenience the bullet might have caused to you, and I am willing to let you leave and roam the city freely if you wish… on one condition."
Feeling hopeless, Danny asked, "What condition?"
Another silence, then: "I would like you to let me brush your hair."
"…what?" Had he heard correctly?
Kid nodded. "Yes, you would be very symmetrical but for the fact that your hair swoops horribly to one side. It sickens me to the highest degree. I would like to brush it out so that every hair is in place and symmetrical."
Hardly daring to believe his luck despite how awkward that luck may be, Danny replied, "…that's all? Really? You just want to fix my hair? It's rather stubborn, you know…"
"I'm extremely patient," Kid countered, his face emotionless. "I once plucked Liz's eyebrows for a month so they would line up perfectly on her face. However, this looks like a more agreeable and manageable case. This should only take an hour or so at the most, and then I will let you go. Is this a deal?"
"Yes, definitely," Danny sighed, thankful. Despite being shot from the sky by what appeared to be a psychologically-warped individual, he had the distinct sense that he was getting off rather easy. Feeling slightly disturbed though overall mostly just relieved, Danny flipped over onto his back and struggled to his feet, wincing at the minor injury he had sustained by falling from the sky. "All right, go for it." When he got no response, he repeated, "I said, you can go ahead." Still nothing. Danny began to realize something was not right, and he turned to face Kid.
The shinigami was staring at Danny blankly, hairbrush in one hand and his other pointing accusingly at Danny. "No…" he whispered hoarsely.
"What?" The ghost boy was beginning to feel a sense of impending doom once again, and he did not like it. "What is it?"
"I was wrong," Kid hissed. "You are a sickening individual, a repulsive intruder, and an appalling person. I was wrong to not exterminate you from Death City at once. But now you will pay for what you've done!"
"Whoa, whoa!" Danny took a step back. "I didn't do anything, I'm sorry! What's the matter with you all of a sudden?"
Kid's eyes blazed. "You stand there looking at me with those pitifully glowing green eyes and you do not realize what's wrong? Do you not realize what an inexcusable crime you have committed?"
Danny felt like he was in high school all over again – taking tests and having no idea what the answers were. It made him feel helpless and definitely not in control of the situation. "No… I don't…I'm sorry, Death the Kid, if I've done anything wrong that I'm not aware of, but I really don't know."
"Look at yourself!" Kid nearly screeched. "That horrendous logo definitely cannot be divided equally in anyway. How dare you hide it from me, as if I would not notice eventually?" The shinigami's voice was rising to dangerous levels, and his eyes sparked with a manic energy. "I cannot stand the sight of you any longer. Not even fixing your disgusting mop of hair could get you out of your sentence for this crime. To think I almost let you go unpunished…! You are going to pay for this blasphemy! LIZ! PATTY! TRANSFORM! NOW!"
Now he's done it, thought Liz as she and her sister morphed once again into the set of twin guns.
He's out of his mind, thought Danny. I've finally met someone in life who's not right in the head, and now he's after mine. I'm so dead.