"That'll be four dollars and ninety-five cents."

"Do you have change for a fifty?"

There were many things that Squidward Tentacles did not like about his job. He didn't like customers who tried to pay using large bills. He didn't like the way the drawer shot violently out of the cash register, forcing him to leap backwards every time. He didn't like counting change. But most of all, he didn't like -


He cringed, the voice reverberating in his eardrums like nails on a chalkboard. Oh, that voice! Even the customer seemed alarmed as Squidward handed him his Krusty Combo.

"Sorry about that," he drawled. Despite his aversion to public interaction, Squidward frequently felt the need to make this apology; The Voice spared no-one. They were all victims of it's piercing nasality.

"Hey! Gratingbob Shrillpants!" Squidward leaned angrily through the serving hatch, temper wearing thin. He toppled backwards in surprise, clonking his head on the cash register as his co-worker popped into view, the usual overly toothy grin fixed in place.

"Yeee-eeees?" replied Spongebob in a falsetto sing-song voice, which only frustrated Squidward further. His patience snapped and before he could stop himself, a series of words tumbled out of his mouth that would prove to cause nothing but trouble.

"Either you hit puberty, or I hit you!"


Squidward stopped rubbing his sore head and did a double-take. He hadn't expected that answer; he'd pulled the puberty card as a cheap insult, a quick dig at Spongebob's distinctive, emasculate tone.

"You're kidding."

The sponge just smiled, wide-eyed and innocent as ever, still leaning eagerly through the serving window as though it were an ordinary, everyday conversation about ketchup sachets or grill maintenance. Squidward wondered if he was deliberately playing dumb. How could he not know what puberty was? After all, he was - … well, Squidward didn't know how old he was, but he was definitely an adult. Mature. In the physical sense. Wasn't he?

"No!" he got up, briskly dusting himself down and turning back toward the register, "I am NOT having this conversation with you!"

For the first time in his career, Squidward wished there was a customer. Or an earthquake. Anything to provide a distraction.

"Did she hurt you, Squidward?"


"You know I'm always on your side, buddy, but I'm really not comfortable with hitting anyone. Violence never solves anything. Maybe you should just talk to her?"

"Who?" Squidward had lost his train of thought. In fact, it had careered off the tracks and into a gaping ravine; he had no idea what Spongebob was chattering on about.


Squidward clapped a tentacle over Spongebob's mouth, uncomfortably aware that every single patron in the restaurant had heard that last outburst and were now looking in his direction.

"Will you shut up!" he hissed, heat rising in his face, "Nobody wants to hear you screeching about … that … whilst they eat!"

"About what?"

"PUB -" This time, he clapped a tentacle over his own mouth.

"You still haven't told me who she is."

"It's not a she. It's an it. And I already told you, I'm not having this conversation with you!" Squidward was beyond uncomfortable. He rubbed his upper arms awkwardly, trying to focus on something other than the sexual maturity, or possible immaturity, of the poriferan behind him. It was difficult with Spongebob breathing down his neck.

"ALRIGHT! Fine!"

As Squidward whispered in his ear, Spongebob's expression turned from excitement to disgust, and finally, scepticism.

"I don't think sponges have that, Squidward."

"Of course sponges have it!" he spluttered, casting around for some evidence, "I've seen you grow a beard! Remember that time we went clam fishing?"

Spongebob chuckled. "Squidward, the growing of a beard is often used in animation as a humourous visual representation of the passing of time."

The scene faded to a nondescript shade of grey, the topic under discussion now irrelevant as the characters acknowledged their own non-existence.

"Way to break the fourth wall, Squarepants."