There's a Method to This Madness

Ten short stories about friends and family, written for 42_souls.

Part 10: Never Ending

Prompt: December/The End ((troika+students))

The call came in the middle of the school day, which was good, because that gave Kid a legitimate excuse to skip out of the European History class that he was failing anyway. Less good, however, was Liz's reaction when she heard the news.

"Not again," Liz moaned. She would have crossed her arms over her chest protectively and started shivering uncontrollably if she hadn't already been in her gun form. "Why does it have to be us again? We should be in class right now, not bailing out some underclassman idiots just because—"

"It's a poltergeist, Liz," Kid said impatiently. Beelzebub was moving fast and they had less than a minute before they were about to arrive at the student dorms in the middle of D-block. "This isn't about bailing anybody out. As a shinigami it's my duty to deal with poltergeists."

"But it's going to be some stupid kid's fault again!" Liz wailed. Her words made it sound as though she was angry, but the only emotion being conveyed in her voice was increasingly hysterical terror. "Poltergeists don't just happen, Kid! They have to be some dumb asshole underclassman idiot's fault! And I don't see why we have to-"

"Oh, great." Kid had finally caught sight of the student dorms – or what was left of them. He quickly slowed down Beelzebub and then hovered for a moment, trying to size up the situation. One two-story apartment complex with an entirely collapsed wall. Asymmetrical. Kid's stomach churned queasily at the sight of it. There were dozens of students milling around on the street outside, looking confused and useless, but not too terribly panicked – yet. There were still human and weapon souls inside the building. Kid stretched his soul perception abilities, trying to sense if any of them were injured enough to be near death. None were. There had been no death recently in this place, either. Somehow the collapsed wall had managed not to crush anyone. But that didn't mean that anybody in or near the building was safe yet. Kid could sense the rotten souls of the poltergeists oozing all around the area. They were likely preventing the people inside the building from getting out and likely about to do something much worse to the structural integrity of the building at any moment.

"We're out of time," Kid said.

"So?" Patti asked.

"We have to move fast," Kid said, talking his partners through the plan that he was making up even as he lowered his center of gravity and sent Beelzebub screaming straight toward the collapsed wall and an opening into the second story of the building. "We're not here to get anybody out of the building. We're can't waste time trying to help any of the students until the 'geists are subdued." Kid hopped off his skateboard and onto the carpet in what was left of some poor students' living room. He pulled Liz and Patti out of their holsters and began gingerly making his way across the room. He noticed immediately that there was a television set lying on its side in one corner of the room, having apparently been knocked off its perch on top of a media cabinet. That was a bad sign. "Don't trust what you see with your eyes in here," Kid cautioned Liz and Patti. "Try to connect with my soul perception so that you can use it to aim if it comes to that."

"Roger wilcox!" Patti said. Liz made a terrified whining sound in the back of her throat that Kid took as affirmation that she had heard him.

"Good," Kid said. He stood still for a moment, turning his body in a complete circle, trying to focus his senses. "We need to- Argh!"

Of course Kid had seen the cheesy Joaquín Sorolla posters mounted on the undamaged wall of the room out of the corner of his eye when he had entered the room, but he stupidly hadn't expected the blue and red brushstrokes in the paining to suddenly leap out of the page and start strangling him. Kid dropped his guns and started scrambling with his fingers ineffectually at his neck, trying to get the impossible noose off him. Not that shinigami technically needed to breathe, but Kid suspected that he might not actually be able to survive a snapped neck, god's body or not. Thankfully the lack of air wasn't weakening him, but he was making choking sounds nonetheless and struggling so hard that he lost his balance and fell to the ground.

Kid's vision was completely filled with a panoramic view of the carpet for a moment. When he lifted his head enough to lift his gaze again, Kid realized that all of the furniture within the ruined living room had been instantly re-arranged. The posters were now on the ceiling, the couch was now on the wall, and a lampstand that had previously been on the far side of the room was now flying right toward Kid's head.

This is going to hurt.


Kid had scrunched his eyes shut in order to brace himself for the impact to his face, so he didn't see the tiny blonde girl jump over his head and karate-chop the lampstand in half. Or not so much karate-chop as bow-chop.

Elsie transformed her arm back into flesh and then turned toward Kid, grinning triumphantly. "Okay so like I saved you so does that mean that you have to grant me three wishes now?"

"Shinigami don't grant wishes," Kid said testily, pleased to discover that the Sorolla-inspired noose was gone from his neck. He stood up and dusted his pant legs off. "That's just an urban legend and Elsie what are you doing here?"

"This is my place," Elsie said. "That was Marty's poster that tried to kill you, though. I don't like Sorolla."

"So it's your fault that there are poltergeists all over this building!" Liz snapped, batting aside a flying vase as she stomped toward Elsie, momentarily too angry to forget that she was supposed to be scared. "Elsie, what did you do?"

Kid wasn't sure when exactly Liz or Patti had switched out of their gun forms, but he didn't think that it was a very good idea. "Liz, Patti, get back here! I need you to-"

But Elsie had already run to Patti and grabbed her in a terrified hug. "I didn't mean to!" Elsie wailed. "You have to help us! It's not my fault! I told Marty not to do it! But then the things started moving around and the bad thing with the lights came and then the whole wall went boom and then-"

"Duck," Patti said, managing to wrestle Elsie to the ground just in time for what surely had to have been nearly every utensil from the kitchen to go flying over their heads. Kid barely saw this happening, however, as Liz tackled him to the ground at the same instant, knocking the breath out of him. Kid heard a whistle of wind and then something enormous smashed right through one of the last undamaged walls in the room, hurtling to the street below.

"Duck!" Patti said, pointing across the ground and laughing at Liz and Kid.

"Ohmygod ohmygod that was our couch did you see that that was our COUCH!" Elsie squealed.

That was when the TV in the corner of the room suddenly popped itself upright, and turned on.

"Uh-oh," Patti said. "Goose."

"Liz, Patti, gun forms NOW!" They were back in his hands even before Kid had finished standing up. "Elsie, you have five seconds to answer me: Do you think you might know the source that's generating the poltergeists?"

"Yes!" Elsie responded, miserably.

"Then come with me. Show me the source." Kid wasted another moment glancing at the static starting to fill the television screen, then added: "And run fast."

Kid turned to run out of the room, then realized that Elsie wasn't following him. "Wait!" Elsie's voice called after him.

So Kid swallowed an obscenity and turned around, back toward the living room. "The TV's back on!" Elsie said, her eyes wide with a mix of excitement and terror.

"I know, that's why we need to run!"

"But I can't leave the TV! Marty's in there!"

"Oh, for the love of!" Kid smacked himself in the forehead with one of his guns. "Elsie, did Marty get sucked into the television?"

"Yes but now you're here and you can save him so we have to—"

"He'll be fine, Elsie," Kid said, a bit testily. There were far worse things that could happen to a Shibusen student than being sucked into a television by a poltergeist. Kid was beginning to suspect that Marty had probably done something to deserve it, too. Serves him right, Kid thought. "Elsie, listen to me. You and I are going to run out of this room right now and you are going to show me the source of these poltergeists right away. If you stay here any longer you're going to end up inside that television too!"

Elsie dithered for an infuriating moment longer. Kid was just about to holster Liz and Patti so that he could free up his hands to reach out and bodily drag her away from the ominously humming television, when the television screen suddenly lit up with an intense flash of white light. That seemed to goose Elsie enough to send her running toward Kid. "To the kitchen!" Elsie shouted. "It's right down the hall on your left!"

Kid turned around and suddenly he was on the opposite end of the living room again, back at the collapsed wall. "Dammit!" he hissed. The poltergeists had already managed to warp the space around Kid as easily as Kid could warp the space inside of his cloak. Kid tried to run across the living room again, toward the short hallway where Elsie was standing and waiting for him, when suddenly his legs were whipped out from underneath him. He fell, got up, and was right back where he had started again. This time, however, the television was on the ground in front of him, static-filled screen facing directly at him, blocking him from crossing the room again.

"Get away from the TV!" Elsie screamed.

"I have a better idea," Kid said. He squared his aim with Patti and shot out the television screen.

"Yay, I killed the evil TV!" Patti laughed.

Kid didn't feel very triumphant, however, because a second later he was suddenly standing in the center of Elsie and Marty's bathroom.

"Now where are we?" Liz asked, terror momentarily causing her voice to sound as high-pitched as Elsie's usually was.

"Now we're in a bathroom, that is an incredibly tacky shower curtain, and the 'geists clearly don't want us to get to the kitchen. Which means that we need to get to the kitchen." Kid bit his lip and forced himself to think hard, trying to come up with a plan. The poltergeists were controlling the space around him. He needed to find a way to make them stop controlling the space around him. Those really were some criminally ugly shower curtains. Kid shook his head and blinked, trying to regain his focus. And then the thought that he'd briefly had moments ago suddenly flashed back into his consciousness like a ray of light illuminating the darkness: The poltergeists had already managed to warp the space around him as easily as he could warp the space inside of his cloak.

Of course. That was it. Kid couldn't believe that he was being so stupid! He was a god, after all. If some bastard poltergeists wanted to mess around with the fabric of space, then two could play at that game. If Kid could control the space around his body when he was wearing his cloak, then why couldn't he also control the space around his body when he wasn't wearing his cloak? If Kid's father could control the curvature of space enough to create the Death Room, after all, then surely Kid would at least be able to—

"Kid, watch out!"

Kid managed to shoot the bath towels and the hideous shower curtain at the same time, right before they were about to wrap around him, whether to attempt to smother him or tighten enough to crush him, he didn't know and didn't care. The shower curtain rod came crashing down to the floor at the same moment that everything in the bathroom began to rumble ominously: the toothbrushes, the handsoap, a bottle of lotion, a small forest of shampoo bottles on a shower caddy, a pair of razors jittering beside the sink. Kid realized that every loose item in the bathroom was seconds away from launching right at his head. Kid fumbled at the bathroom door, only to find that it was locked. "Shoot it out!" Patti was yelling at him, but Kid knew that he didn't have time. The poltergeists had completely seized control of the warp and weft of time and space surrounding Kid. He knew that if he couldn't take back control of the space around him, he was likely about to get his eyes skewered by a pair of flying toothbrushes.

Liz, Patti, help me! I need a wavelength boost NOW! Kid holstered his guns and reached out to press the palms of his hands evenly on both sides of the bathroom door.

"What are you doing?" Liz asked. Their souls were just beginning to resonate and Kid could feel her confusion at being suddenly holstered, and the way that her fear for the danger that he was in was internally struggling against her desire to believe that Kid already had a trick up his sleeve to protect himself with. Kid closed his eyes and concentrated on the rhythmic flow of the wavelengths of Liz and Patti's souls. Good. He felt the cool white paint on the bathroom door beneath the palms of his hands, and remembered touching the smooth red paint on the wretchedly asymmetrical gates that his father had warped the entrance to his Death Room with.

Gate, Kid thought.

Then he felt the poltergeists' souls immediately retreating, been forcibly pushed out of a space in which they were no longer welcome. Kid slowly opened his eyes and took a deep, hitching breath.

Nothing in the bathroom itself had physically changed, but the poltergeists were gone, and nothing was threatening to immediately launch itself at Kid's head anymore. Kid fumbled for the doorknob and opened the bathroom door, trying not to betray his exhaustion by trembling. On the surface there was nothing extraordinary going on in the bathroom, but anybody who could see souls would have seen Kid's wavelength expanded as far as he could push it, straining to function not just as a colorful indicator of his strength but also as a physical barrier protecting the space around him from the poltergeists. Kid could feel them hissing and slithering around the edges of his wavelength, and he didn't know how much longer he could keep using his wavelength this way. Nevertheless, Kid stepped out of the bathroom and into the small hallway that connected the living room area of Elsie and Marty's apartment to what Kid hoped would be the kitchen. He cupped his hands and shouted, "Elsie, are you still out here?"

"I'm in the kitchen!" Elsie's voice called back to him. "Hurry!"

Kid couldn't hurry. He moved down the hallway slowly, breathing heavily, straining with the effort of expanding the boundaries of his soul wavelength around him. At least he could feel the poltergeists fleeing away from him now. The cursed things were unable to enter the solid but invisible barrier around Kid and thus were unable to stop Kid's slow advance toward the kitchen.

Finally, he made it. Kid stepped into the kitchen and saw Elsie backed against the large refrigerator in the far corner of the room, wielding her half-transformed arm to defend herself from an attacking blender. Kid immediately pulled his guns out of their holsters and used Liz to shoot the blender. Elsie turned her head and saw Kid, then began screaming "IN HERE IN HERE IN HERE!" as if Kid weren't already in the kitchen with her. Elsie jumped up and down in front of the refrigerator and waved her arms frantically. "Marty put them in here!"

"What, exactly, did Marty put in your refrigerator?" Kid asked testily.

Elsie pulled open the refrigerator door and scrambled to grab at a large blue tupperware container, her tiny body trembling with panic. "Here here here!" she said, nearly throwing the tupperware at Kid. Kid wouldn't have caught it if he hadn't had the foresight to re-holster his guns a moment before.

Kid didn't have to open the container to know what was inside of it. Liz and Patti, connected directly to his soul and borrowing both his eyes and his perception abilities as they always did whenever they resonated with him, knew in an instant, too. "Ew. Gross," Liz said.

"Yyyyyyyyuck!" Patti added.

Kid sighed. "Elsie, what are you doing with these?" he asked. "Why did Marty keep them?"

"It's my fault!" Elsie sniffled, her normally high-pitched voice hitching even higher due to her tears. "We didn't know that there were going to be so many bad guys but there were so many bad guys and even though we killed them all there were so many bad souls and I couldn't eat them all at once 'cause my stomach hurt but Marty wanted them to count for my total so we took them home and Marty said they were gonna be okay as long as we kept them in the refrigerator and so we put them in the refrigerator but then it was Carly's birthday and a Trig had a party too and we just ate out a couple of days in a row and then we forgot about the souls in the refrigerator and we didn't know that souls were gonna go bad but I guess they went bad so ummmmm that's what happened."

Kid grit his teeth, reaching deep inside of his soul to summon the very last shreds of his patience. "Yes, Elsie," he said. "Damned souls are going to spoil after a few days even if you keep them in a refrigerator. That's why it's against dormitory housing codes for any of you students to keep souls after the end of a mission. Any souls that you are unable to consume at the scene you are mandated to bring immediately back to me or to my father. Elsie, I know that you know that!"

Elsie's lower lip trembled miserably. "I'm sorry," she sniffled. "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry! But it was a hard mission and it was really scary and Marty said that it wasn't fair that we got all those souls but I couldn't eat them all so he just wanted to take them home so that I could eat them later!"

"But when souls spoil they start growing poltergeists like mold," Kid said. "If it weren't for you and Marty, this building would still be in one piece."

"I know," Elsie said. She stared down at her feet as tears dripped off her face and splattered onto the kitchen floor. "I know. I know!"

"I'm taking these souls to Father so that he can properly dispose of them," Kid said. "As soon as these souls are gone, the poltergeists should start fading. They may be able to linger for a few hours after I'm gone, though. I suggest that you and the other two souls that I still sense inside this building get out of here immediately. Wait until after sundown before you return. It should be safe then. We'll send work crews to start doing repairs in the morning."

"Wait. Wait!" Elsie trembled. "You can't do anything to make the poltergeists go away now?"

"I can't afford to spend hours wrestling poltergeists right now," Kid said. "I'm supposed to be in class." He glowered at her. "Elsie, you're a weapon. Stop panicking and start remembering your training. There are two more students inside this building and they probably need your help. So go help them, and then get out of here. Those are officially your orders, Elsie. Don't disobey me."

"But what about Marty?"

"He'll be back soon," Kid said, as he turned away from Elsie and began making his way back toward the ruined living room. Kid paused at the edge of the collapsed wall, summoned Beelzebub with a thought, and then took to the skies as fast as he could.

"Okay, so," Liz said as they flew, "I know that Elsie and Marty are idiots and they probably deserved what happened, but you were still an asshole about it."

"Kid is dicksauce!" Patti declared, frowning at Kid as hard as she could.

Kid could sense Patti's disapproving glare through their resonance even if he couldn't see it, with the girls still in their holsters. "Patti, I don't even know what that means," Kid said.

"It means that you don't always have to play the role of Monsieur Hard-Ass when you're talking to the underclassmen," Liz said. "And that speech that you gave Elsie at the end didn't need to be so harsh. You can be a little bit inspirational the next time that you have to tell a student to calm the hell down and start acting like a competent weapon again. It'll work better."

Kid bristled. Liz and Patti were never nice to him whenever he started crying and had to be reminded to start acting like a competent meister again.

"I heard that thought," Liz said. "And with you it's different. You never break down or start crying unless it's about something stupid like symmetry or whatever. Elsie had just had her partner sucked into a TV and her home destroyed and you basically told her that as soon as we left the poltergeists were going to start attacking her again. Look, I agree with you that Elsie's at that level where she has to learn to keep her chin up and start dealing with that crap. But you don't have to be so mean to her about it."

"It worked, though," Kid said defensively. "I sensed her running downstairs with the intent to rescue the others right before we left."

Kid sensed that Liz was tired of arguing, so she let the subject drop. Patti started humming to herself happily, having forgotten all about the reason that she had been angry at Kid a moment before. Kid took a deep breath and enjoyed the brief moment of quiet, flying with Beelzebub high above Death City, both hands still clutching the tupperware container that contained Elsie and Marty's spoiled leftover souls.

When Kid returned to Shibusen he handed the spoiled souls over to Father. By the time that was taken care of, classes were already over for the day, and Kid could tell that Liz and Patti were tired and drained from the strain of what the three of them had managed to pull off their resonance-shield earlier in Elsie's house. So Kid turned to Liz and said, "Do you want to go for a coffee?"

"That sounds like an excellent idea."

The three of them walked together to the nearest Deathbucks and took over a table in the exact center of the store, just where Kid wanted to sit. Once they had their drinks in their hands and Patti was already hard at work blowing bubbles in her hot chocolate, Liz asked Kid, "Do you think they got out of that building all right?"


"Elsie and those two other kids that you told her to rescue."

"I'm sure they're fine," Kid said. "If they hadn't managed to escape that building safely by now, I would have gotten a call about it."

Liz stared at him for a moment, then frowned. "Kid, don't take this wrong way, but you're starting to become as callous as your dad is when it comes to the lives of the other students. I'm not sure if that's a good thing."

Patti abruptly stopped blowing her bubbles.

Kid took a sip of his coffee, then said, "I'm not trying to be callous. But sometimes I have to be a god. That's all."

"I know, baby. I know. But I think that, god or not, you still could have handled Elsie better than you did today."

"She was all…" Patti frowned, thinking. Then she said, "She was all tight. Like when Patti's shoelaces are too tight. And that made her dumb. Like keeping those souls and forgettin' about them. Dumb."

"That's stress, Patti. Elsie and her partner are both under a lot of stress." Kid kept his face carefully neutral as he spoke. "I don't know what Elsie's total soul count was after her most recent mission, but before her previous mission she was up to eighty-seven."

"Oh," Patti said. She needed no further explanation. She knew what that meant.

Kid kept his face an unreadable mask. But inside, he worried. Two other weapons in Elsie's homeroom had accumulated ninety-nine souls that year. Neither of them had survived their attempts to take a witch's soul. And that was bad on several levels – bad for the school's reputation, bad for Father'sreputation, and bad for the morale in that entire classroom. If either Marty or Elsie were killed by a witch, that would be a nearly unfathomable disaster. Kid and his father badly needed somebody in that class to have a successful witch hunt, in order to balance out the failures. Actually, Kid wanted two successes in order to properly balance out the recent deaths. Two successes would have been ideal. Other than Elsie, however, there was nobody else in that classroom even remotely qualified to go after a witch yet. Kid wondered if he could ask Maka or Black Star to go after an extra witch soon, just to get the students to stop feeling so miserable about things.

"If Elsie becomes a Death Scythe, will you work with her, Kid?" Patti suddenly asked.

"No," Kid answered quickly. "But I'll send her and Marty to South America where the chupacabras will keep them busy and Elsie's hyperactive energy level will actually be of use."

Liz rested her head on her hand, asymmetrically, and smiled at him. "You've thought about this."

"It's been clear to both me and Father for a while that Elsie is probably going to make Death Scythe status soon, yes. If I didn't have faith in her then I wouldn't have left her alone with the poltergeists today."

"Blech, poltergeists," Patti said. There were some things that apparently even she found disgusting enough to be unfunny.

"What a way to end, though," Liz said thoughtfully. "Those poor souls in the refrigerator."

Kid laughed. "You think that spoiling in the back of some idiot's refrigerator is a worse fate than being eaten by a weapon?"

"Actually, yes. I do." Liz sniffed. "If I were evil I would much rather be killed and eaten by a gorgeous weapon like me than have my soul end up rotting and going to waste in the back of a refrigerator."

"Duly noted," Kid said. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind if you ever go insane on me."

Liz stared at him for a moment, then Patti leaned over and whispered loudly to her, "I don't think he's joking."

"I am not joking," Kid said. "It's important to have a contingency plan for these sorts of things."

"Wow. You really are being an asshole today," Liz said.

"Nuh-uh. He's not bein' an asshole," Patti said. "He's bein' a god."

"Thank you Patti," Kid said, pleased at the defense.

"All right. So." Liz took another sip of her coffee, then put it down on the table in front of her, eyed Kid carefully, and asked, "You have a plan in case we get a bad ending. But what's your plan for a good ending?"

"A what?"

"How are we going to end, Kid?" Liz asked him. "If you have it all planned out, then tell me – how are Patti and I going to end?"

Kid opened and closed his mouth, unsure how to answer this. Fortunately, however, Patti immediately came to his rescue again. "I know how we end," Patti said.

Kid and Liz were quiet, listening to her.

"Liz and I are gonna die," Patti said. "Someday. Maybe in a really awesome way. Maybe not. But we're gonna die. Kid won't. So Kid keeps going without us. And he's gonna be real sad when we die. And he's gonna miss us. But that's okay. Because he'll keep going. And because he knows how to make friends now so he'll make new friends. And they'll die. And then he'll be sad again. But then he'll make new friends. Because he knows how to be a good person now, so people will like him a lot, and he'll never be alone, because he'll always have more friends. And more girlfriends, too. Kid's gonna have a lot of girlfriends always because he's such a mess that he can't keep going without a girlfriend. Because Kid needs a girlfriend to throw him at a wall if he starts freaking out because he has to turn left too many times or whatever. And he won't ever forget any of the friends or girlfriends or Death Scythes that he has, not even when they die, and not even when he makes new ones, he still won't ever forget. And maybe he won't die but at least he won't ever, ever be alone. Just like his dad. Mr. Reaper has friends like Mr. Sid and Professor Stein and Mr. Albarn and Miss Azusa and Justin and Miss Marie right now, but he had different friends before, and he'll have different friends in the future. And Kid's gonna be like that, too. Always making new friends. And that's what not-dying means. It means a lot of sadness because you lose a lot of friends. But it means a lot of happiness too, because you're always making new friends, more friends than anybody who has to die could ever make, and because you'll never lose the good memories of your old friends either."

Patti stopped speaking, and fell silent.

And then, slowly, Kid began to shake his head. "That's not entirely true," he said. "I may have other weapons in the future, but there won't ever be anybody like either of you two."

"We know," Patti said quickly, and surprisingly nonchalantly. "Liz knows. Patti knows. But just because your other weapons aren't like us doesn't mean that you won't really really like them. Nobody is really like anybody else and nobody can ever replace anybody else, but that's okay, it's not about replacement. It's like Patti said. It's about making new friends. You don't forget your old friends just because you make new friends, and it's okay if your new friends aren't anything like your old friends. But you're always gonna need friends," she added, "Because you're just like your dad. Because you're smart in some ways and stupid in other way and just a really, really silly person. And you're so weird and silly that maybe you can't ever do things all by yourself, you can't be the next Mr. Reaper all alone, you have to have someone there with you to keep you balanced. That's why Mr. Reaper always has a weapon with him and that's why you have me and Liz now. Because you're too dumb to do things alone."

Kid took a long, slow sip of his coffee, contemplating this. Then, finally, he smiled. "That sounds like a good ending," he said.

Liz actually raised her coffee cup. "To a good ending," she said.

Patti raised her mug of hot chocolate. "To a good ending!" she echoed.

Kid refused to raise his cup. "Liz, no," he said. "You can't make a toast with these drinks or these glasses. This is completely inappropriate!"

Liz set down her coffee cup and glared at him. "You always ruin the moment," she huffed.

"I am not—"

"Do you hear that?" Patti interrupted him.

Kid strained his ears, trying to hear what Patti was talking about. He could hear the normal sounds inside the Deathbucks store, the sounds of people talking and glasses clinking and a few hands typing on laptops. And suddenly he could hear screaming, too. A faint, otherworldly screaming getting louder, and louder, and louder.


Marty managed to fall exactly in the center of the store, crashing down on top of the table that Kid and Liz and Patti were sitting at, splashing coffee and hot chocolate and pink ectoplasmic goo everywhere.

The entire store was silent, staring. Kid tried very, very hard to ignore the coffee splattered asymmetrically all over his clothes long enough to summon up a small iota of concern for the goo-covered student lying draped across the table in front of him. "Well," Kid said. "You're back already."

"Oh my god – oh my god!" Marty gasped, flailing around on top of the table, flinging goo everywhere. "P-P-Poltergeists! I think we have poltergeists!" He seemed to finally notice Kid standing there, which only made his eyes widen and his frantic gestures to become even more panicked. "You have to help Elsie! We've got poltergeists in the house!"

"It's been taken care of," Kid said, disdainfully flicking a fleck of goo from one of his previously-impeccable lapels. "Clean up and go home, Marty. Your detention will start next week."

The other patrons in the store were already returning to their business by the time that Kid finished his statement. The Deathbucks store in Death City had seen stranger things before. Marty blinked goo out of his eyes, staring at Kid, utterly confused. "Wait, what?"

"Go home, Marty," Kid repeated. Then he gestured to Liz and Patti, neither of whom looked too happy about the coffee all over their clothes. "Come on. We've got laundry to do."

The three of them walked home together, hand in hand. "So was that a good ending?" Liz asked, contemplatively. "I mean for Elsie and Marty."

"It was a good enough ending," Kid said. "Their apartment is ruined and I'm going to give Marty detention for a week. But they deserve those consequences. That's how the world balances."

"But Marty's back so now they got each other again," Patti pointed out. "So it's a good ending."

Kid squeezed Liz and Patti's hands and silently agreed with this. Whether his shirt was ruined or not – and it likely was – at least they'd all still gotten a good ending.

More or less.

Well, that's the end of this batch of fics (no seriously you guys, there's no more need to keep adding story alerts at this point!) and I hope that you enjoyed them. :) C&C is much appreciated. Thank you for reading!