The wall was white. Not cream, not off-white, but pure white. Perhaps it could be called snow-white. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about the wall. A door was set into the wall, exactly at the halfway mark. The door was rather unremarkable as well. Altogether, the wall, even with the door, was boring to look at.
So why was Death the Kid staring at the wall like it held the answers to all the questions in the universe?
The young reaper was sitting cross-legged on his large bed, facing the wall. Kid's yellow eyes were glazed. He was so lost in thought that he didn't even see the wall, his focus turned inward as it was. He was still as a statue but for the slight rise and fall of his chest as he breathed.
Liz and Patty had gone out shopping for the entire day and Kid had taken advantage of the peace and quiet. He had retreated to his room and sat down on his bed. He hadn't moved an inch since then and it had been two hours.
While his body had not budged, his mind had not stopped moving. It flitted from subject to subject like a starving hummingbird. Kid didn't let his thoughts dwell on any one subject for very long lest his mind wander back to the one thing he was trying to avoid at all costs.
Why did the multitude of floating clouds in the Death Room always seem to slip behind the windows? Did the pathway of guillotines that led to the Death Room actually work or were they just there for show? Did his father know that Class Crescent Moon spent half of its lessons dissecting animals? Did Maka develop her book-chopping technique from watching his father use his Reaper Chop on her father so often? When was the next eclipse? He had always wanted to see one... The sun and moon, two opposites, coming together briefly in a truly spectacular show of lunar balance!
...was one of the frames on his left tilted slightly?
Kid forced himself not to look. Beads of sweat began appearing on his brow and his glazed eyes held a distinct gleam of anxiousness. His hands, clasped loosely on his lap, tensed until his knuckles turned white.
Why were the walls of Gallows Mansion white? Even the slightest bit of dirt showed up on white...though it did make it easier for him to identify dirty spots and clean them up quickly before anyone else noticed the filth he had carelessly let intrude upon his domain...
...it was tilted, surely. It wouldn't hurt to check, right? He could go straight back to his mental exercise after checking.
His breathing hitched as he fought to stay still. No, he couldn't check the frame. That would defeat the entire purpose of the exercise. He was determined not to move until it was time for lunch. After lunch, he would return and resume until Liz and Patty came home.
Liz had looked so embarrassed and disappointed yesterday and he had been the cause of her discomfort. He never wanted her to look at him that way again.
All because he had one of his symmetry freak-outs. In Kid's defence, it had been a rather bad episode, a little more extreme than most. But Liz had been mortified. They had been in a very public place with many people gawking at them, whispering and tittering behind their hands. None of them had said anything impolite aloud, though the whispers had been loud enough and Kid, with slightly enhanced senses, had heard every word.
At the time his mind had been too caught up with obsession to take note or care, but after he had eventually calmed down all the whispers had floated to the front of his mind to haunt him.
"Who's that weirdo?"
"That kid looks funny!"
"Is that Lord Death's son? How embarrassing..."
"Those poor girls, forced to hang around that strange boy!"
He gritted his teeth and screwed his eyes shut, trying to block out the whispers and mocking looks. Liz had hauled him back to the mansion yesterday – Patty laughing all the while – and had not really spoken to him since. She had stiffly told him this morning that she was going shopping all day and had left with Patty bouncing at her heels.
Kid suspected that she had done it to get away from him for a while. He couldn't blame her. Patty seemed to find his neurotic tendencies funny and was never bothered by his episodes. Liz on the other hand... She was trying to understand but didn't have the patience. The older sister became embarrassed easily, especially if there were other people around, and lost her temper with him more often than not.
So Kid was trying to suppress his obsessive-compulsive disorder. For Liz.
His shoulders began to shudder as the urge to move and check the frame was becoming unbearable. He fought it, casting his mind around for a different topic. Was Liz having fun shopping? Would she speak to him when she returned? Would she accept his apology if he gave it to her?
Kid's knuckles were still white from the pressure his hands gripped each other with and were starting to hurt. Good, the pain was something he could focus on.
Liz hadn't been able to look him in the eye since it happened. Was she that disgusted with him?
He really should slacken his death-grip; his two skull rings were starting to bite into his fingers. With his eyes still shut, Kid slipped the rings off his fingers and put them in front of his still-crossed legs. He pressed the tips of his fingers together to spare his knuckles further abuse. The sweat was starting to trickle down his face.
What should he have for lunch? Something fancy or simple? He could cook something of course, but he would take a while doing it. Right, something simple then. Perhaps a sandwich. What type of sandwich though?
A symmetrical sandwich.
"No, no, no!" he muttered vehemently. Kid shook his head, trying to dispel the image of a perfectly cut sandwich with the exact same amount of filling between the bread.
He couldn't break now; he had been going so well!
His hands began to shake and he gripped the sheets near his knees to stop them. His breathing quickened and a couple of drops of sweat fell on his lap. The young reaper hunched over as if the action would contain his compulsions. He could almost hear the frame on his left calling out to him mockingly...
Kid clamped his clenched hands over his ears. If he had lunch at twelve noon then it was only half an hour away. Surely he could last a measly half hour...
The seconds ticked by, each one taking an eternity by itself to Kid's stressed mind. He thought of counting the seconds to give him something else to focus on but discarded the idea almost immediately. If he started counting then he would fixate on the numbers. With the current state his mind was in he probably wouldn't make it past eight without freaking out further until he reached eighty-eight.
But, since there are only sixty seconds in a minute, he would never reach eighty-eight. Sure, he'd hit eight again every minute, but he'd also have to keep a tally of how many sets of sixty he'd counted. Once he'd hit eight sets, he would have to wait until he reached eighty-eight sets before his mind would slacken its nervous grip. Though the respite would only last sixty seconds, then he'd be on his eighty-ninth set and would continue to grow ever more anxious until he reached eight hundred and eighty-eight sets.
It would be time for lunch long before that and his brain would be left unsatisfied, probably stuck on some horribly unsymmetrical number!
Kid's fingernails dug into his scalp lightly as he started to scratch. He tried to stop. The scratching was more automatic than anything by now and Kid, starting to get desperate, thought about sitting on his hands. Of course, if he couldn't stop scratching then how was he supposed to move his hands to sit on them?
"ARGH!" he yelled out in frustration.
In one smooth move he bounded off the bed to stand in front of his left wall. His anxious yellow-gold eyes assessed the lone frame on the wall critically. There were two dressers in his room, one on either side of the bed, and he opened the top drawer of the one nearest him. He hastily snatched the tape measure within and returned to the frame.
After just over five painstaking minutes of careful measuring, Kid took a deep breath and let it out in a huge sigh. The frame hadn't been tilting at all. He was relieved, frustrated, upset and incredibly disappointed. He hadn't even lasted the extra half hour until lunch...
Kid placed the tape measure back in the drawer and slowly made his way downstairs. He shuffled along more than anything, his feet dragging on the carpet.
He had failed.
How could he hope to face Liz now? He didn't deserve her forgiveness if she was generous enough to grant it. He almost tripped down the stairs and made a frantic grab at the railing to prevent a crash. Now he couldn't even walk around his own house properly!
Kid wandered around listlessly until his feet brought him to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and scanned the contents before shutting it. There was a small wooden table in the kitchen with four chairs around it, one of which Kid pulled out and slumped into. The hard wooden chair wasn't exactly comfortable, particularly for slumping in, though Kid didn't care.
He managed to muster up enough energy to look up at the clock. 11:39.
Kid let his head fall over the back of the chair so he was gazing at the ceiling. It was plain white. He closed his eyes and sighed, letting his hands dangle either side of the chair. The back of the chair dug into his shoulders and neck but he felt no inclination to move. The only sounds he could hear were his own light breathing, the low hum of the fridge and the tick-tock of the clock.
Time dragged on. Kid winced as he sat up straighter, rolled his neck to ease the stiffening pain that had settled there and glanced at the clock again. 11:52. May as well get started on lunch. He stood up and rolled his shoulders. With the pain from his bad posture on the chair now gone, Kid smoothed the front of his slightly dull red t-shirt, erasing a few tiny wrinkles.
He opened the fridge once more and took his time looking through its contents. He made a disgruntled little snort as he shut it again and wandered over to one of the cupboards. Kid went through the cupboards one by one, shutting the last cupboard's door with a bit more force than strictly necessary.
He couldn't seem to find something he felt like eating. He put his hands into the pockets of his black casual pants and walked out of the kitchen with an unsatisfied huff, heading back to his room. Once there, he shut the door behind him and regained his spot on the bed from before. His two skull rings clinked softly against his bare foot and, instead of slipping them back on, he put one on each bedside dresser.
He knew the frames were perfectly aligned and that his furniture was too. With nothing in his room to distract him at least, Kid closed his eyes to pick up where he left off.
Liz ushered Patty inside the foyer as she gently shut the door so as not to alert Kid of their presence. The elder Thompson had been feeling guilty ever since she stepped out of the mansion earlier. Kid couldn't exactly help it and she supposed she could have handled the whole thing better. Still, she could apologise to him now that she had cooled down after some retail therapy.
"I'm hungry!" Patty announced cheerfully, bounding off in the general direction of the kitchen.
The mansion was quiet apart from Patty's loud footsteps though that in itself was nothing odd. The mansion was rarely noisy unless Patty was playing something or there was a party being hosted here. Liz left Patty to her own devices and headed upstairs to drop off the three shopping bags she was carrying.
After dropping the bags on her bed she stretched. She could sort out her stuff from Patty's later as her stomach gave a light rumble, enticing her to join her younger sibling in the kitchen. When Liz stepped out of her room she stopped, a frown marring her features. She should apologise to Kid first. With that decided, she headed for his room, only to stop in front of his door.
What would she say? "I'm sorry"? That just didn't seem to cut it. Kid was a very sensitive individual and took things that managed to sneak past his armoured wall pretty hard. Well, she had to try, so no use staring at the door.
She knocked softly a couple of times and waited for a response. Was he even home? She put her hand on the door handle and slowly swung it open. It moved with a faint creak and Liz peeked inside, her body behind the door as though shielding herself. Her eyes widened as she took in the sight before her.
Kid was curled up on top of the covers in the middle of the bed. His knees were drawn up close to his chest, with one arm snaked under his pillow and the other sprawled carelessly in front of him. He looked like a small child.
"Kid?" Liz whispered tentatively to see if he was awake. Her meister gave no indication that he heard her so she swung the door open further and tip-toed inside, stopping at the side of the bed that Kid was facing.
Now that Liz could see him properly she immediately felt the guilt crash down upon her, sadness and regret bubbling up inside her, threatening to spill hot tears from her eyes.
Kid's face was creased with pain and worry and the arm not under the pillow was gripping the sheets so hard that his knuckles were white with strain. She guessed that the other hand was gripping the underside of the pillow with the same fervour. He shifted slightly, curling a little further into himself, and Liz wondered whether or not to wake him.
She bit her lip and reached out, her hand ghosting over his forehead, brushing his raven black and white striped hair out of his eyes. "Kid," she murmured softly, letting her fingers gently rake through his hair.
"'M sorry...Liz..." Kid whispered, his fingers loosening their stranglehold on the sheets.
"No, I'm the one who's sorry... It wasn't your fault. How can you ever forgive me...?" she said, her quivering voice barely above a whisper itself.
Kid frowned, turning his head slightly to lean into her touch like a child seeking the comfort of a parent. "Huh?" he muttered.
Liz frowned too, now confused. "Kid, are you awake?"
The young reaper shifted again but stayed silent. Liz's frown disappeared as she giggled sadly. "Wow, I really hurt you, didn't I? You're apologising to me in your sleep... Ah, I'm so stupid! I'm really, really sorry Kid. I hope you can hear that. I'll tell you again when you're awake anyway."
Feeling worse than when she walked in, Liz left, shutting the door with a tiny click. She had better check on Patty to see if the kitchen was still in one piece. You could never tell with that girl, she was always so...enthusiastic.
Patty had displaced a few things in her search for lunch. Half an hour later, after Liz made both of them some lunch and was putting everything back where it belonged, light footsteps prompted her to turn around. Patty walked rather noisily and was now busy trying on the new clothes Liz had bought for her, so the footsteps had to belong to Kid.
Kid cleared his throat and Liz hesitantly turned to face him. "You're back earlier than I expected," he said awkwardly.
"Yeah, Patty and I got hungry and didn't feel like eating out," Liz replied with equal awkwardness.
"Liz, I would like to apologise for my behaviour yesterday. It was unseemly and caused you a great deal of embarrassment," he said formally. His hands were clasped behind his back with his fingers interlocked and his whole body was tense, waiting for an angry reaction. He closed his eyes, unable to face her any longer.
Instead of a stinging slap or a punch aimed to break his nose, Kid felt two arms encircle him and a head bury itself in the crook of his neck. His eyes flew open in surprise, widening even further as he felt his t-shirt become damp with tears. Kid had never been one for such familiar physical contact, but he shyly returned the hug.
"Oh, Kid, I'm so sorry! I'm a terrible person, how can you ever forgive me?" Liz wailed, her voice somewhat muffled as she hadn't moved her head from its spot.
"Liz..." Kid said softly, momentarily at a loss for words. "There's nothing to forgive. Do you forgive me?"
"Of course I do! I know you can't help it and it wasn't fair of me," she sniffled.
Kid smiled and hugged her a little tighter before slowly pulling back. Liz let him go somewhat reluctantly and hastily wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, though a small smile now lingered on her face.
"Well, since we've both apologised and been forgiven, how about we move on?" he suggested, keeping his tone light.
"Yeah, sounds good. I'm gonna go check on Patty and put my new clothes away, okay?" Liz said. Kid simply nodded and Liz walked off, a slight spring in her step.
Kid's smile never wavered as he watched her. He would keep trying, for both of them.
A/N: What do you think?
I wanted to try something a little different and more psychological than anything, similar to my fic Cleansing Rain. People have dug into Kid's mind before, but usually for a reason behind his obsessive-compulsive disorder. I wanted to show him trying to deal with it. Without medication.
I also wanted to show that it IS possible to write a one-shot with these three and NOT have any romance.
Feedback is desired and I really appreciate constructive criticism. If there's something you think I can improve upon, I'd like to hear your thoughts about it.