An exercise in rhetoric.

***

Love Stinks
By RubyD
Part 4: Eat Smart, Food Kills

***

He hoped 003 was okay. Probably. She was a fiery little owl.

This was worse than he thought. Sure, he had always liked a little attention, but this was ridiculous. And *Bon* had put the moves on *him.* As funny as it was going to be later, a riot really, it was presently a trauma to the system. And Hisoka was absolutely going to go homicidal when this was all over.

When it was? Try if. He had to return to the lab later if there was a chance to fix things.

The gray halls were as deserted as a graveyard, being late, thank God. Watari was allowed to flee full speed through the building like a mad Gushoshin without fear of spreading his pheromones to every single damned bystander having a bagel. Left, right, right, up the stairs. He randomly turned corners and debated if he could actually escape an empath. Did Hisoka have a sensory range? How far? Should have done more tests on him. This was a bad day to find out, and the kid was already enough of a bloodhound.

So, back to running. Though heavily panting and out of breath, he wondered if he should have joined a marathon when he was alive. Go, Speed Watari, go!

Someplace to hide. Look around, look around, breathe, back up. Here? Here. Breathe.

He nearly ran into the door. Watari had ended up in the cafeteria. Quickly slipping in, he noisily barricaded the entrance with tables and chairs. The scientist looked around, seeing if there were anything else to throw together. There were several more tables on the other side of the large and dark room, and with only a small pause he leapt under one and surrounded himself with chairs. He gripped the wood and stared into the gloom, wide-eyed and paranoid. Maybe no one would find him until morning.

He wondered where Tsuzuki and Tatsumi were. Perhaps they had recognized their irrational thinking and feelings and were trying to leave him alone? Possibly Hisoka's smaller body had allowed the potion to give a greater impact on the teen's system. Would metabolism eventually have the formula wear out? In that case, he should stay away from them as long as he could.

Glancing around, Watari felt more relaxed. The back windows were shut to the midnight air, the serving port was closed and kitchen dark, and the main entrance fortified like Hell. A small sanctuary for the time.

Tomorrow Tsuzuki and Hisoka would be gone on their mission, and he'd only have Tatsumi to deal with before working in the lab. Not too bad. Really good. Watari sighed and closed his eyes. Now to rest a bit.

***

Cue the irrelevant dream sequence.

In this dream Watari was wearing a frilly little burgundy dress all mocked up with girlish lace and ribbons. He sat smiling on top of an emerald hill in the middle of an endless forest of cherry trees in bloom. The sea of pink melted into the sparkling blue sky in little blobs of color like a Monet painting. Idly spinning an umbrella that matched his costume he watched as petals flew a little too beautifully through the air. In reality they would simply flutter to the ground, but these things were sakura on speed by the way they waltzed and danced with the wind.

There was an apple in his hand. Just as everything else it was Technicolor bright and perfectly smooth. Yummy looking. And it smelled fantastic. Drawing it slowly into his mouth, he took a salacious bite.

Chew, chew, chew.

Spit.

Damn, was it awful! Why was it so bitter? Watari gagged and wiped his lips on a sleeve. Mother nature was horribly unfair. He stared at the white "o" he had created, marveling at the lack of sugary goodness - and then screamed like a girly uke as three worms popped out. It would have been fine if they were ordinary worms, but, oh no, these worms had the miniature heads of Hisoka, Tsuzuki, and Tatsumi attached to them.

"hi watari!" they chirped in their tiny voices. CHIRPED. Not this again.

"you look lovely," added Tatsumi.

"Thanks . . . wait, what happened to you guys?!" he shouted, horrified. He held the apple with both hands. His friends smiled happily up at him.

"what do you mean?" Hisoka asked.

"You're worms!"

"oh, yeah," Tsuzuki said, noticing for the first time. "it had to happen eventually. want to join? this apple is delicious."

"That's a no." He blanched. "Come on, I need to turn you three back!" The dress rustled as he stood, running towards his lab. The door appeared in thin air several yards away, unconnected to anything.

"that's all right," Tatsumi called. "this doesn't bother us."

"But it bothers ME. How'd this happen?"

Tsuzuki burped. "I may have eaten something bad . . . "

"maybe it was just your cooking," Hisoka offered with a smirk.

"oh yeah?"

"yeah!" They bickered, tinny shrill annoying voices squeaking like rusted hinges.

"silence!" ordered Tatsumi, ducking back into the apple. "any damage to my eardrums will be taken out of your salary!"

"it's just going to heal right away," Tsuzuki said.

"heal this!" Hisoka cried as he tackled the Tsuzuki-worm. They bumped into Tatsumi, and all three rolled into a squirming ball, falling to the ground.

Watari didn't notice as he stepped through the door. What's this? The other side was definitely not his lab, and instead of a dress, he was wearing heavy gold armor and riding a white stallion. 003 swooped low, leading his gaze to the immense palace before him. It was grown over in rose vines and weeds, and the stone had darkened into a muddy brown. Towers jutted like rotted teeth, and at the top of the tallest spiral was a little window where a head of silver hair and a handkerchief waved to him.

He took a moment to add everything together. Knight in shining armor? Terribly undertaken castle and garden? Maiden in distress? This looks like a job for Super Watari!

"I'll save you!" he cried, galloping through the open gates, long white cape beating in the breeze.

Suddenly three figures in green, purple, and blue stopped him at the base of the tower. They were his pages, again played by Hisoka, Tsuzuki, and Tatsumi.

"No, sire, you must not!" Hisoka begged, hand outstretched to block him.

Tsuzuki had sprouted furry ears, paws, and a tail. "You could get hurt!"

"I agree, it's much too dangerous!" Tatsumi said harshly.

"But I'm a knight!" Watari protested, leaping off his mount. "I must do what I have to do. Out of my way! Bonzai!"

"But what about the guardian of the tower?" Hisoka protested.

"What guardian?

Then a black lion pounced from the shadows and roared, scattering the screaming three pages. They ducked into the shrubbery, staring timidly at the feline, as if waiting for it to attack. But instead, it bounded away without a pause, allowing Watari the right to march in. Well, that was convenient.

Inside, the stairs loomed into the dark, looking as if they went on forever. With a sigh he ascended, following the striking war murals on the walls until the colors faded gray into each other. Up, and up. He ran for the devil knows how long, yet wasn't even out of breath when he finally touched the top step. A pair of doors eased open, beckoning him in.

The knight entered cautiously.

"Hello? Is anyone home?" No one. Except for a lonely window, the room was empty. Ah, what a waste of time.

There was a flash of pale hair at the corner of his vision, shooting past and into the staircase. The doors slammed shut and locked.

"Hey!" Watari yelled, leaving dents in the wood with his fist. "Let me out!"

Everything began to feel warm. Smoke seeped through the frame in ghostly wisps. Fire!

"Hell," he muttered, dashing to the window. On the ground the three had gathered again and were waving. "Help!"

"I'm coming!" Tatsumi cried in answer.

Tsuzuki stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "No, I will! I have more strength."

"Shut up you blockheads, I'll do it!" Hisoka tried to pass them but they pulled him back. They jabbed and slapped and hit each other, fighting to be the one to rescue their knight. It quickly turned into a messy brawl, hair and blood flying all over. The black lion reappeared and joined merrily in.

"Great, I get the Three Stooges to save me," he coughed. There was smoke everywhere, filling the room, filling his lungs. He could feel the heat coming closer, the fire probably right outside the door, probably burning and creeping into the too small room with the too small window. He couldn't breathe it was suffocating and there was no air oh God oh God. He wanted air his eyes were watering crying the armor was too tight squeezing and he needed air RIGHT NOW -

***

Coughing and gasping, the blonde awoke to someone frantically fanning his face.

"Watari! Watari!" the man was shouting. The cafeteria was blurry from smoke.

"Tsuzuki!" he choked, seeing the Shinigami's face waver into his teary vision.

"Come on, this way - " Tsuzuki declared, dragging the scientist up and out of the room. The entrance had been miraculously cleared of the former chairs and tables. They both stumbled into the hall, wheezing.

"What hell happened in there?" Watari finally managed to utter, leaning heavily against the opposite wall. An enveloping pair of arms suddenly attacked him and affixed themselves steadfastly to his chest.

"I'm sorry!" he wailed, tears streaming in large gushes. "I found you, and I was feeling so bad about your dinner since you didn't eat anything and I know if I was hungry I'd be really unhappy too so I-got-Byakko-to-help-me-open-the-door-youweresotiredyoudidn'tnoticeandIsnuckintothekitchenandthenandthenandthen - "

"Hold on!" Watari felt the beginnings of a massive headache approaching. Also, his shirt was wet. Not the most enjoyable of combinations. "What exactly did you do?"

He blushed. "I cooked. It sort of caught fire."

"Oh dear God."

"But I put it out! And disabled the alarm so it wouldn't wake anyone - it's late, you know? The sun's not up - but the food turned out all right . . . " Tsuzuki smacked himself, dismayed. "The food! I LEFT IT BEHIND!!" The man dashed back in, leaving a slightly startled scientist staring after him.

" . . . "

He returned seconds later, proudly holding a steaming plate of . . . something. A deflated dessert. Bowing, he presented it and a fork. It certainly didn't look bad - but Watari knew better.

"What is it?" he asked suspiciously.

"Apple pie - Wa-Watari??" Tsuzuki looked around, feeling a gust of wind, and finding no one.

The only trace left of the man were a few blonde hairs floating to the ground.


TBC


***

Notes: These things are getting fairly more and more pointless as time goes on. *sweatdrops*
Any questions? I feel like I left something out . . . (Like a plot?) Hush, brain.