Two. One. Four. Five. Three. The hour was uncertain, but Sweets was sure it was followed by AM – and that it was a time too early for human beings to wake up at. He glanced at his alarm clock with bleary eyes; it read 3:09. 3:09 sounded like a good time to be sleeping, not a good time to be awoken by a repetitive clanging noise. Or the scream that jarred him into alertness. A kid's scream. Parker!
He flung the covers off his bed, stumbled to his door, and threw it open. After a desperate rush to the guest room, he was greeted by an open window and an empty bed. Oh, God. Where was Parker? The window wasn't broken – there were no obvious signs of abduction – but he couldn't deny that the kid was gone, or that a scream had ripped through the house. Oh, God.
What was he going to do? His next-door neighbor was a policeman, and so were his sons; he could run over there and ask them to start looking. The first twenty-four hours were the most important, right? Or maybe he should just call 911 and –
"Stop it! Stop!" Parker's voice – it was far-off, but unmistakeable. It sounded like he was in the kitchen, so he was still in the house. But who was he talking to? "No! Please! Don't do that! AAAAHHHHHH!"
Sweets sprinted down the stairs. Was he screaming at a kidnapper? Someone trying to hurt him?
He skidded to a stop in the kitchen, spotting Parker crouching behind the counter. The blender was making a terrible noise and producing smoke; pink blobs coated the walls, and, as he watched, more were continually flung from the blender.
He yelped in pain as something hit his cheek, then ducked near Parker. He removed the object; it was a shard of glass. The blender was made of glass, wasn't it?
Parker looked at him, terrified. "Lance," he begged. "Make it stop. It won't stop."
"I – you – this – I – what's going on?" he stumbled through his words.
"I tried to make a smoothie," he said, looking guilty. "I put in the ice cream, and then I turned on the blender, but I forgot the lid, so I got splashed, so I slipped and dropped the spoon in, and then it got spun around and started hitting the blender, and I guess the blender is glass, 'cause it broke, and then the smoothie flew out through the holes, and then the spoon kept spinning and hitting the glass and making bits go flying, and then, and then, and then, and then sometimes it gets stuck and the blender makes a bad noise, and then, and then it moves again and more glass flies out. It hit me," he whimpered, holding out his arm; there were a few pieces in it, and another in his hand.
Sweets took a deep breath. He could scold him later. Right now, it was important that he was okay. "Are you alright?" he asked.
Parker nodded. "But it's not stopping," he mumbled. "And I can't reach it and hit the off button because it keeps throwing glass at me and I don't want it to hurt me."
As a particularly large glob of strawberry ice cream hurtled over their heads and splattered on the walls, Sweets tried to formulate a plan; it didn't take long to concoct. "I'll be right back," he assured Parker, army-crawling out of the room. Once he was out of the kitchen, he righted himself and ran headlong up the stairs into the guest room. A quick dig through the Batman duffel bag yielded the red foam-and-plastic sword and shield set Parker had mentioned; he grabbed the shield and rushed back downstairs.
Parker looked up at him hopefully as he held the shield in front of his face. His pajamas and slippers were thick enough to keep his body and feet safe, and the shield protected the rest of him. Creeping towards the blender, he picked up the metal strainer he'd used for the macaroni and cheese soup earlier; with a heroic lunge, he shoved it on top of the blender. Flecks of ice cream were still flying out, but the glass was stopped by the strainer. In a somewhat anticlimactic finish to his battle with the kitchen appliance, he flicked the power switch into the 'off' position; the terrible sound and the ice cream flinging stopped.
"You did it!" Parker yelled, ecstatic.
Sweets didn't respond – he was too busy gazing at his kitchen in horror. The floor was covered in bits of glass, and, as ice cream was dripping onto it from the walls, a steadily increasing amount of pink liquid. The walls, the cabinets, the fridge, the windows... everything was splattered with strawberry chocolate chip ice cream.
"Lance?" Parker spoke up, sounding a little uncertain.
"What?" Sweets asked, expecting an apology.
"There's ice cream on my shield," he said. "And some glass stuck in the soft part."
A brief examination revealed that it was true; pink flecks and blobs were all over it, and a few shards were embedded in the foam.
"I mean, I'm glad that you stopped the blender and everything," Parker said, "but you kinda messed up my shield."
Sweets stared, incredulous. "You kinda messed up my kitchen," he pointed out.
"It was an accident," he protested.
"I'm sure it was, but that doesn't make everything okay," Sweets said. He couldn't just let the kid do whatever he wanted, could he? "You're going to have to clean this up once I get that glass out of your arm."
Parker's eyes widened. "But there's so much! It'll take, like, forever!"
"It won't be that bad. I'll help you."
"If it's not that bad, why can't you just do all of it?"
He sighed. "Because you can't do things like this without any consequences. Wouldn't your mom make you help clean it up?"
"No," he said, clearly seeing an opportunity. "Actually, when I mess stuff up, she buys me video games. Actually, she just buys me video games all the time. And candy. I bet she'd be mad if you found out you weren't buying me a ton of stuff."
"Nice try," he smiled wryly. "But I've met your mother. Come on – it won't take that long."
"I don't want to."
"Your mother left me in charge, Parker. And I say you have to." Sweets regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. Directly asserting authority like that tended to cause resentment.
Parker glowered. "Fine," he muttered. "But I don't like you anymore."
The cleaning hadn't taken forever, but it had taken about four hours. Unfortunately, that meant that neither of them had been able to go back to sleep; even more unfortunately, Sweets had a full day of work ahead of him.
"So... what are you going to do in school today?" Sweets tried to start a conversation.
Parker glowered at his Lucky Charms, unresponsive.
"Aren't you going to talk to me?"
"Because I still don't like you." Parker looked up briefly, shooting a baleful glare at Sweets.
That stung. Sweets knew it was just a little kid acting up, but still – he'd done everything he could to make him happy, and all he got in return was sullen loathing. "You wouldn't have had to clean if you hadn't crawled out of bed in the middle of the night, broken the blender, and made a giant mess in my kitchen."
"I don't care about your retarded kitchen."
"You know you can't say that word." Rebecca had mentioned that in the instructions.
"Why not? Everyone else can. And they're all gonna call me that when I fail my spelling test because you made me stay up all night." Oh, no.
"You have a spelling test?"
"Yeah. And I'm gonna fail it," he repeated.
Sweets took a deep breath. "Why didn't you tell me that before?"
"Because then you wouldn't have let me stay up late watching Superman."
He fell silent for a moment. The kid's logic was pretty sound. "School is more important than Superman," he finally said.
"Is not," Parker insisted.
Sweets knew there was no point in replying is too, so he tried a different tack. "Even Superman went to school before he started saving people."
"Do you have your spelling words? Maybe I could quiz you on them."
"Nope. They're at school."
"Alright," Sweets said, trying not to let his frustration show. "Then we can drive over there right now and I can quiz you then."
Parker crossed his arms defiantly, careful to keep the bandaged one from banging into the other. "I'm not going to school today."
"You're going to school."
"Am not!" he yelled, kicking his Green Lantern backpack.
"Parker. Get in the car." Sweets wasn't sure he'd ever been this frustrated.
"No. I'm not getting in your retarded car, you retard."
With that, Sweets strode around the table, grabbed Parker, and tossed him over his shoulder. As Parker yelled and hit him, he calmly picked up the backpack and walked towards the door.
The plan was to put Parker in the car, lock it, and then run back in for his briefcase. Unfortunately, Parker's vigorous resistance and repeated cries of 'kidnap! Help, help – kidnap!", when combined with his neighbor's police badge and watchful eye, put a damper on that.
"What are you doing with that boy?" Mr. O'Malley demanded furiously, grey mustache bristling.
"Taking him to school," Sweets responded truthfully.
"Kidnapping me so that he can take me to his secret lair and murder me," Parker corrected, somewhat less truthfully.
O'Malley rounded on Sweets. "I've never seen you with a kid before. Look a bit young for one of your own. How'd you get one?"
"He stole me from my dad. My dad loves me – he's probably trying to find me right now. He's probably really worried." Parker paused, then started bawling. "Don't let the kidnapper take me. Please, please, Officer. I don't wanna die. I don't wanna diiiiiiieeeeeeeee!"
"You're not going to die," Sweets said impatiently. "We're just going to get you ready for your test."
"Test? What sort of test?" O'Malley inquired.
"It's a spelling test."
"It's an evil psychology test. And he couldn't get anyone to volunteer, 'cause it hurts a lot and makes you go crazy and it's illegal and stuff, so he stole me. And now he's going to do an evil psychology test on me and kill me!" Parker was sobbing, and the words were barely coherent. Dang, the kid could act.
"You are a psychologist, aren't you?" the cop looked at Sweets suspiciously.
"Yes, but – I work for the FBI," he explained hurriedly. "I don't – I wouldn't kidnap a kid and torture him – I mean – really, Officer. I've been your neighbor for almost a year. Don't you know me well en –"
"If you're so good and all, why's the kid got bandages all over his arm?"
"He hurt me," Parker sniffled. "I said that I wanted to go home, I didn't want to do the test, and, and... he hurt me so bad!"
"Actually," Sweets cut in nervously, "he made a smoothie with a spoon that, ah, made the blender explode, and it attacked him – I mean, glass flew at him, and, ah – well, then I came down, and I used this shield to protect myself, and I charged at it and turned it off. I saved him."
"So the kid's story is that you hurt him to make him do what you wanted, and your story is that the kid made a smoothie but unfortunately used a magical exploding spoon that made the blender attack him, and then you used a conveniently available shield to vanquish the evil blender monster."
Sweets paled. "His story is that I'm evil and want to do some sort of twisted psychological experiment on him, and my story is that I'm babysitting and want to take him to school."
"He's lying," Parker sobbed miserably. "He's lying. Please, please don't let him take me. Please. I want to see my daddy again. I don't want to go crazy."
O'Malley glowered at Sweets. "I'll take you down to the station. See if your story checks out."
"No buts!" he roared.
Sweets walked numbly to O'Malley's car. His first full day with Parker and he was already getting arrested. How was Booth going to react when he heard about this?
AN: Sorry; I know it's been a while. I've been busy planning for my party (I'm turning sixteen today~ c:).
Anyway, thanks so much to my reviewers! You're very nice; I love getting reviews, so thank you. ^^