Title - Trouble in Paradise
Characters – Death the Kid, Liz and Patti
Summary - It should have been a much better trip than it was.
Notes- This is written for se_ladyfest for the prompt WhenSpartoiwenttorescueKidfromtheBookofEibon,LizandPattywererobbedoftheirmomentofawesomebyBlack*Star.Itwouldbewickedtoseethemgettingtheirmomenttoshine,readytokicksomebuttandsavetheirKid. This idea sounded like a lot of fun so I gave them a separate kishin soul hunting assignment back in my old stomping grounds for something different. I lost my computer and never got a chance to post this until now.
It should have been a great assignment, a little slice of paradise. Daytona Beach, Florida, land of sun and fun. Bars she could fake her way into, at least until Patti got them kicked out, surf, lying on the beach working on their tans, hot, suntan-oiled guys, it should have been perfect. Of course, in her enthusiasm for the assignment, Liz hadn't considered Kid. Really, in hind sight, she wasn't sure how she could have forgotten him.
In Kid's eyes, the ocean smelled, the waves weren't symmetrical, the sun was out to get them and worse, it was an overnight assignment at the very least: that meant a hotel stay. Liz had been more than delighted with the suite the Academy had rented for them, a big room for her and Patti, a smaller room for Kid – which was a problem in and of itself, since apparently bedrooms should be the same size – a hot tub and a view of the ocean.
After he spend forty-five minutes arranging the pillows on his bed so they were perfectly even, Patti pointed out the slightly eschew picture hanging over the couch. Liz could have kicked her sister, not that Kid wouldn't have spotted it himself. There was no way in hell she was going to spend all day helping Kid straighten the picture, not with a perfect beach-going day just outside their room. She finally threatened to go to the Cabbage Patch and wrestle in cole slaw for money and come home and lay on his bed, covered in her glory and stinking cabbage. Kid reluctantly put away his ruler and hustled them outside, not to go to the beach, but to hunt down the Kishin soul they'd been sent to find.
It wasn't as if Liz could picture Kid in a swimsuit, let alone lounging on a towel on the beach. He had to be pale as milk under his suit. They had to meet a guy named Roberts, who seemed to be one of Lord Death's eyes and ears in this area. Liz wished she and Patti could get a job in a place like this. Not every 'death scythe' stayed with Lord Death, after all, though, heaven help her, she would actually miss Kid if she and Patti were sent off on their own.
It could happen. Lord Death might not need another Death Scythe outside of Maka's old man, but he probably wouldn't want to send his son away. As far as she knew, Kid was Lord Death's only child and she had never really heard anything about his mother. Fair enough, it wasn't like she and Patti were open about their home life either, such as it was. On the other hand, she couldn't even imagine Lord Death fathering Kid the normal way. It was simply ludicrous. As far as Liz was concerned, it was possible that Kid was more a distillation of all of Lord Death's worries and anxieties than an actual son. Thoughts about how something likethat would have happened – maybe with Dr. Stein's help -messed with her head the whole time she and Patti followed Kid to meet Roberts.
It wasn't until Roberts said something to wreck her beach after work plans that the disturbing thought train was derailed. He looked like a perfectly normal, kinda cute actually, guy working a hot dog cart on the beach. No one would know he was one of Lord Death's agents, which was probably the point.
"Wait a minute? What do you mean we're in the wrong spot?" Liz whined. "I am not giving up that hotel room."
"Especially since Kid has all the pictures all lined up right now," Patti chimed in.
Kid shushed them. "We were told to come here," he said.
Roberts shrugged. "A misunderstanding. People are talking about it here, but the disappearances are to the west, in Dark Entry and Tiger Bay."
"Okay, that doesn't sound good." Liz didn't want to think about why a place would be called Dark Entry.
"Tiger Bay is about twenty-eight thousand areas of state forest, seven miles from here," Roberts said. "All the people who've gone missing are campers and horseback riders. It doesn't look like gator or bear attacks. Hang on." Roberts turned from them to make a 'Coney Island' dog for a young boy waving cash in front of the man's hot dog stand.
"Gators?" Patti's eyebrows rose.
"Hardly a concern," Kid sniffed.
"Until you realize its teeth are snarly and uneven," Liz replied. Kishin souls she could handle. The only place she wanted to see a gator was as a handbag.
"They are out there," Roberts confirmed. "Almost half the forest is swamp. You can stay at the hotel unless you want to get out in the middle of the action. You could always camp."
"That would make more sense." Kid rubbed his chin, contemplating it.
"No way!" Liz wagged a finger at him. "Don't you even consider it, Kid."
"The people aren't disappearing from the beach," he argued.
"And how are you going to put up a tent on a lot surrounded by trees? In case you haven't noticed, Kid, nature isn't symmetrical," Liz replied, hoping that would put an end to it. The way his lips flipped down said she probably won.
"We'll go look around," he conceded.
Liz took her victories where she could.
"Roberts, what do they say is making these people disappear? It had to be something for you to put in the call," Kid said.
Roberts grinned. "The Florida Skunk Ape."
Liz grimaced. "Skunk Ape?"
"Skunks are kinda pretty," Patti said.
"I think you're missing the picture here, Patti," Liz replied, thinking of all the ways a Skunk Ape was probably worse than an alligator. Roberts's description of it did nothing to change her mind. This wasn't going to go well. She just knew it.
After a half hour of listening to Patti complain about the mosquitos – Liz doing complaining of her own. She was going to end up on the beach covered in red bumps – and Kid freaking out about damned near everything from the arrangement of the pine islands in regards to the swampy bits to the way a banana spider wove its web, Liz was ready to just lie in the swamp and wait for the gators.
"Did you hear that?" Patti cocked her head to the side.
"No, but I smell something." Kid's nose wrinkled.
"Yeah, it's called swamp," Liz grumbled.
"No, worse than that, more like…" Kid tested the wind. "There's something here. Feel that?"
"Skunk Ape." Patti said.
"I'm not sure a Skunk Ape exists any more than Bigfoot does," Kid replied.
"No! Skunk Ape!" Patti flailed to a point behind him.
Kid whipped around then his jaw dropped. Liz wasn't sure if it was a Skunk Ape or not, but the sight and smell of him gave her hind brain a kick. She almost transformed on the spo,t but Kid hadn't called for her and Patti yet. Looking at this thing, she could guess why. It had to be the Kishin soul. Skunk Apes probably didn't wear khaki cargo pants, but this man did, dirty ones, stained and torn. Long greasy hair spilled down over his shoulders and obscured his face. His beard reached his chest, which was every bit as furry, and he was huge. Skunk Ape, Bigfoot, Kishin, whatever he was, Kid was stunned.
His hand flailed at the thing. "You…you're disgusting. One of your knees is torn out but the other isn't. Tear it out!"
"Kid, that's not the important thing here," Liz reminded him. "Don't look at it."
"I can't stop!"
"Yes, you can. Have Patti and me deal with him for you," Liz said.
Kid bobbed his head, holding out his hands. She and Patti had their pistol butts in them instantly. She saw the Skunk Ape Dude cock his head then smile at them. Kid's arms wavered.
"Are you looking at his pants again?" She asked. "Just shoot."
"I can't. I can't stop looking at it. He's so…" Kid started sinking down and the Skunk Ape Dude charged.
"Better use us fast," Patti cried.
Liz prepared for the attack that came a little too late. Kid was used to fighting people with technique. He sidestepped, but Skunk Ape Dude wasn't trying to catch, flip or punch. He flattened the much smaller young man under his bulk. They all landed in the muck. Liz felt herself slip from Kid's grasp and she began to sink into the swamp.
Confused, blinded, Liz transformed, feeling the panic, rising in her. She broke the surface of the scummy water, gasping. Wiping her eyes, she cried, "Patti!"
"Here," her sister coughed and spat. "Ew, this sucks."
"Yeah." Liz looked for Kid. She didn't see him. The only thing left was a path of broken branches that ended up in a mass of saw grass. "Dammit."
"Did he get Kid?" Patti glanced at her. "What are we going to do about it?"
"We have to get him back," Liz held out her hand and her sister transformed.
It almost felt like the old days, before Kid found them, only then they had all the best kicks and they ruled the city. Here, she was covered in swamp slime and what she knew about being out in the woods could dance on the tip of a pin. Liz didn't let it stop her. Skunk Ape Dude had to be the Kishin they were looking for and come hell or swamp water, she and Patti weren't going to let him just run off with Kid.
It only took a moment to realize why the underbrush was called saw grass. It ripped and sliced at her skin, burning as she pushed her way through it, trying to follow Skunk Ape Dude. For a big man, he sure as heck moved fast, but Liz was sure she was going in the right direction. He left a trail even a city girl like her could follow.
"We do this fast when we find him," Liz mumbled to her sister.
"Right!" Patti replied, far too brightly for the situation, but that was her sister. Liz never wanted to see a day where Patti wasn't happy.
Liz wondered just how hard the rangers had looked for the missing people, or did they somehow pick up on the evil feel of the Kishin and kept away from the clearing the trail led up to? Several people were tied to pine trees, or what was left of the people, at any rate. A pile of bones was at the outskirts of the clearing. Were those gnaw marks on the bones? Liz shuddered and determined she didn't really want an answer to that.
Kid hung limply in Skunk Ape Dude's hammy arm. He coughed a little, drooling out something brown and thin. He must have breathed in the swamp water when he got squashed.
"Kid!" Patti hollered before Liz could shush her.
Skunk Ape Dude wheeled around and grinned at them. "You look even tastier than him." He tossed Kid against a pine tree with a bone rattling crack.
"Just try it, buddy," Liz said. "Ready Patti."
"Ready to rock," her sister replied.
"Girls don't scare me," Skunk Ape Dude said. "You're all so sweet, especially over a wood fire." Peering out from under all the hair, his piggy eyes swept over her. "Maybe I'll play with my food first."
Liz's lips skinned back. She didn't bother with any quirky come backs. She had seen the predators in the city, the ones that would rape and kill just for fun. Skunk Ape Dude had that look and she didn't doubt he'd make her, Patti and Kid into dinner. She pulled Patti's trigger, catching him right between the eyes.
Skunk Ape Dude hit the pine island's loam with a soft thud, his fingers still twitching. Someone screamed, nearly startling Liz into dropping her sister. She suddenly realized some of Skunk Ape Dude's victims weren't dead yet. Liz shot him until Patti tired, just for good measure. Liz let Patti transform back and Patti gobbled down his soul. They both knelt down next to Kid. His face was skinned on one side, pine bark embedded in the wound. His golden eyes were dulled.
"You okay, Kid?" Liz asked, sitting him up.
He put a hand to his head as if trying to squeeze out the headache he surely had. "What happened?" He sniffed his hand then his arm. "I reek."
"Skunk Ape Dude crushed you into a swamp. You smell like marsh and Skunk Ape Dude b.o.," Liz replied and he shuddered violently.
"We took care of him for you." Patti rubbed her belly.
"Good. He was an abomination. Thank you." Kid glanced around. "So is this place. How did we get here?"
"We ran. He carried you. Luckily, the trail is big enough we can get back the way we came," Liz said, getting up. "I'm going to check his other victims."
Patti helped her free the others, three women in all. By the time they had rescued them, Kid was steady on his feet again. The left buttock of his trousers had been torn out while the right was still intact. Liz hissed to Patti to keep quiet about it. Kid didn't seem to notice and she was not about to have him strip naked or collapse in a sobbing heap that they would have to drag out. Let him freak out once they were back in the hotel.
As they helped the other victims back toward civilization, half-ignoring their chorus of thank yous, Liz asked, "We can spend another day here, right?"
"We are done. We can return tonight," Kid replied.
"Let me rephrase. Patti and I just went running through snake, spider and alligator infested swamp to keep some Kishin from slinging you over his camp fire for dinner. We're going to spend one day at the beach tomorrow, got it?" Liz poked his shoulder.
A ghost of a smile moved over his face. "Do I have to lie in the sand?"
"Only if you want to."
He shot her a look.
"You can stay inside and rearrange the artwork and furniture to your heart's content," Liz replied and he nodded.
"A day's rest might feel good after all," Kid conceded.
"Yay!" Patti pumped her fists skywards.
Yay, indeed. Liz grinned. They had saved Kid, rescued some people from a terrible fate, and now they had a day all to themselves. She was going to get her little slice of paradise, after all.