She had once found Smile beating a girl to death.

Or not really 'found'. He had called her there, to the basement—a whispered "meet me after school" and a secretive look of amusement—and by the time the school's-out bell had rung he was already done with his victim. Sabitsuki had recognized her. Not by her face—there was none of it left—but by her hair, pigtails dyed blonde.

When Sabitsuki descended the basement stairs she saw Smile standing over the body. The head was smashed like a fruit, splattering its contents, blood and bone and brains, all over the concrete floor. Sabitsuki saw white teeth like seeds. Smile had a hammer. He grinned at her when she came in.

"Glad you came. I think I'm already done here."

"You killed a girl," Sabitsuki squeaked. Her voice was shaking as much as her legs.

"I had to. And I'm glad I did." He shook the hammer and bits of brain flew off. "I never killed a person before. It wasn't so bad as I thought."

"You're a psycho." The body of the girl was splayed haphazardly, like she'd been pushed down and overpowered before she could get up. Sabitsuki couldn't tear her eyes away. That had been a student. That had been someone they'd known, for years, and Smile had killed her, and he was glad about it.

"Careful, you're looking a little green there," Smile said amiably, but it was too late; Sabitsuki vomited, all over her only pair of nice shoes and her school socks. "I know it's not a nice smell. But you get used to it." He put his arm around her shoulders to lead her up the stairs; his hand was bloodstained and left smears on her sleeve.

"Don't touch me!" Sabitsuki pushed him away. "You've got…you've got her on you."

Smile grinned wider. "It's not the blood you need to worry about. Ol' BDD is a disease you get through air. So, Whitey, we better leave this den of contagion." He put a bloodstained hand on her back and gently pushed her up the stairs.

He washed his hands and the hammer and came out of the bathroom whistling. Sabitsuki couldn't look at him. He'd painted marks over his eyes with the blood. He was playing make-up, like a kid.

"Now, let's talk about this," he said. "And take off your shoes. I'll clean them back at my place. Socks too."

Sabitsuki gingerly removed her shoes and socks and he took them. They sat on the school's front steps in the afternoon sun, casual as could be for a murderer and, Sabitsuki supposed, an accomplice.

She couldn't stop glancing behind her, as if the police would burst out of the school doors. "What happens when someone finds her? You know someone's going to find her, Smile. People are going to wonder where she went."

"Don't worry about that. See, she's got a bad reputation, so no one will think it's strange that she snuck down into the basement. And then, as for her head—well, she had BDD. And that's what happens to they who gets BDD—their heads explode. I read about it."

"No, that's not what happens at all," Sabitsuki murmured.

"You sure do know a lot about the Rust disease, Whitey." He leered at her.

She shook her head.

"Well, I might not know everything, Whitey," he said, "but I know that Kiki Margrave didn't dye her hair 'cause she was feeling rebellious, no matter what kind of gang she hanged out with. She had to do something to hide her color. That's one of the symptoms of the Rust disease, you know—hair falls out. Comes back all white. She wanted to cover it up, so she aped fashion—so I heard."

"How do you know she didn't just dye it because she wanted to?"

"I checked," he said, and his awful leer widened.

Sabitsuki pulled her skirt over her knees.

"But the thing is, Whitey, I know you know we can't just let someone with BDD walk around our school. It's con-tag-ious, you know Whitey, and it spreads like wildfire in our children. Everybody we know would be a horde of melty-face whitey lunatics in just days."

"No they wouldn't…not all at once…" Sabitsuki understood what he was saying, though. And objections were useless: Smile's face was unchanging, his eyes impassive under their bloody war-paint.

"I know you get it. You've got no one outside of this school, no parents, no friends, nuthin'. Me too. Chelsea's the only family I've got left. I can't let her get that lunatic disease. No way."

"I know what you mean…Why show me that, though?"

"Glad you asked." He smiled ever wider. "To ask if you want to help me take 'em out…"

She began to shake her head, but he kept talking.

"And also to show you what happens to melty-face whitey lunatics who spread disease around my school and my sister." His grin was like a gash in his face, red and deep. "You don't want it to take over, do you? Do you want our school to be a horde of dying, festering, melty-faced friends of you and me?"

"No!" she said, and she meant it.

"Then do you want to do something about it?" His eyes glinted.


"Then next time someone thinks they can go and walk around our school with some festering disease rotting their insides, you want to do something about it?" He stood up.

Sabitsuki stood up as well. "Yes."

She knew he was talking about a gang. That was always his way of solving problems, wasn't it? Gathering people to him, making them do things.

But she knew that he knew that that same disease festered deep in her, and she would kill anyone to make sure that he would never tell.