"But it wasn't meeeeee-"
Slick looked up as the whine approached the door. He flipped the switchblade between his fingers and then slid the card into his boot, but didn't bother moving his feet from where they rested on the top of the desk.
The door swung open too fast, slamming against the painted cinderblock wall with a bang. The teacher jumped but recovered fast. He caught the door on the rebound and shoved the still-whining Dersite inside with his free hand. Then he moved the door back and forth, frowning at the lack of resistance.
"Hi!" said the Dersite.
"No talking," snapped the teacher, still staring at the door. "I thought I set this to stay open."
"Musta broke," Slick said.
The teacher looked up. The metal hinge of the door closer had separated. He looked down. Two pieces of a broken screw was by his shoe.
"I heard something snap," Droog volunteered levelly. "Old building. Stuff breaks."
He glared at all of them. "I'll be back with the janitor. Don't think you can try anything while I'm gone."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Slick promised, earning a second, more personal glare.
The door shut with a bang. The new Dersite said, "I'm-"
"No talking!" came through the door. He jumped. The other three exchanged disapproving looks as they heard the footsteps head down the hall.
Droog spoke. "You're Deuce, right?"
"Yeah!" The Dersite looked back at the door suddenly.
"He can't hear ya now," said the biggest Dersite from his corner seat near the window.
"So what are you in for, kid?"
"Hey, you're not any older than I am!" Deuce said indignantly.
"Who asked you?!" Slick snarled, pulling his feet off the desk and sitting up like he was about to lunge, fury radiating off him.
Droog made an unimpressed sound to his left. Slick spun and glared at him. "You got something you wanna say?"
The taller Dersite shrugged, not rising to the bait. "I'm surprised you're not taking the opportunity to try to pry something else out of the door with him gone. It was just a screw. The janitor will be able to fix that easily."
Slick sat back in his seat again, throwing his legs up onto the desk. "Nah," he said with lazy confidence. He looked back to Deuce again. "Jeez, sit down. And take off that stupid hat."
"I like my hat," said Deuce as he climbed into one of the chairs, unperturbed by the criticism.
"No one could like that hat," Droog said flatly. "It's an abomination."
Slick glanced at him approvingly. "You got that right. I wouldn't wear that thing if you held a knife to my throat."
"I don't think it's so bad," said Boxcars.
Droog very deliberately looked him over, making it clear he didn't approve of anything he saw. "I suppose you would," he said blackly. "You look like you got lost a fight with a tiedye machine."
"Hey, what would-"
Slick held up a hand suddenly, then swiped it in a cutting motion. He jerked his head toward the door. Boxcars stopped talking and they all listened to hear footsteps on tile getting louder.
The teacher opened the door more carefully but still overestimated the force, causing it to smack into the wall again. He ignored that, pointing up. "See? It's broken."
The janitor looked it over coolly, then took in the rest of the room. Slick smirked. "I see."
"How long will it take you to fix it?"
She shrugged laconically. "Tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" he repeated.
"Probably longer," she said. "Since we're busy fixing the pipes. It needs a particular part, has to be special ordered, no helping it. I'll have to fill out a requisition form, get it approved by my boss, drive out to get it..." She shrugged again, as if to say What can you do? "You know how these things are."
"Well there's no helping it. I'll go look for the form." She headed off languidly. The teacher glared after her, then at them again.
"Well then," he muttered. He grabbed one of the desks and dragged it forward to prop the door open. Instead of holding it in place, the desk's metal legs slid over the tile. He grunted in irritation and pulled it further in, managing to trap the desk between door and doorway. "There."
"Hey, y'can't do that," said Boxcars. "That's the only exit to th' room. Y'can't block it, 's illegal."
Deuce nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, what if there was a fire?"
"Oh, you'd know about that, wouldn't you?" he snapped.
Deuce sank back in his seat. "It wasn't me," he whined again. "Circumstantial evidence, that's all."
"They're right though," Droog interjected over the smaller Dersite's complaints. "Sir."
The teacher scowled and shoved the desk out again. "I'll be back again," he promised.
Slick waited until the door shut again before sneering derisively. Then he sent a triumphant look at Droog. "See?"
"Could fix that with a paper clip," Droog said in disgust.
"Maybe you could," Slick said smugly, "but he can't and the janitor's not about to do it, so unless you're volunteering to help him out with your handy little skills, that door's staying broke." He tilted his chair further back and rested his arms behind his head.
"So what did ya do?" Boxcars asked Deuce.
"Cherry bombs in the bathroom," he said.
Slick whistled approvingly. "That was you?"
"You can't do that much damage with cherry bombs," Droog said.
"Not with the joke kind they sell," Deuce explained, "but I made these ones. Plus I had a bunch. They do more damage together."
Slick said, "Lemme guess, you got caught trying to set off another batch."
"I did not! What do you think, that I'm stupid?"
"Yes." Droog gestured with a vague motion that might have been to his hat or simply all of him.
"Well I'm not! I know how to sneak around. But they did a search and found some left in my locker."
"You kept them in your locker?" Slick raised his eyebrows. "Ballsy."
"Well what would you have done?" Deuce demanded of Droog peevishly. "I had to keep them somewhere."
"The hedges," he replied instantly. "The ones right up against the building. It's not the first place they'll look and even if they do find something they can't prove whose it was."
"Yeah, well, least he did something," said Boxcars.
Droog crossed his arms. "So? Why didn't he blow up the teacher's lounge or some place useful like that? All he managed was to make a mess that inconvenienced us at least as much as them. I had classes in that wing."
"Boxcars' got it right, fuck did you do?" Slick demanded. "You keep acting like you're better'n all of us but you're stuck here too."
"I'm 'stuck here' for beating up Trace. Fucker tripped me yesterday. He'll think twice about trying anything like that next time."
"Yesterday? What took ya so long, I'd've just clocked him one," Boxcars said, smacking one fist into his palm for emphasis. "And I'd've done it out of sight, wouldn't've got caught."
"Wanted to be sure which one of them it was. Figured it was either him or Fin." Droog shrugged. "Now I know, and he knows I know and what I'll do if he tries anything again. And that having to sit around for a day or two in detention doesn't matter to me, so he can forget any smart ideas about sticking near teachers to avoid me." He looked over at Boxcars. "And if you're so careful about where you have your fights, how'd you end up here?"
"Wasn't a fight is how. Got me for inappropriate literature."
Slick made a face. "Ugh, what were you leaving smut around for?"
"What were they doin' looking around for it? They don't like it they shouldn't be poking their noses in."
"What about you?" Droog said. "We've all said why we're here. You?"
"In-sub-or-di-na-tion," he said with relish. "They've been on my back trying to catch me selling anise cuz some fucker tipped them off or somethin', but they haven't got a clue what they're doing." He reached up, pulled a card from his hat, flipped it and held out his hand.
"Ooh," said Deuce, staring at the pile of black gummy bears sitting in Slick's palm.
Slick flipped it again and slid the card out of sight into his hat. "Makes for a good bargaining piece. Offer people a nice deal and they're happy to look the other way about the rest of it, you know?" He smirked. "Told ya the door wasn't going to get fixed."
"Not bad," said Boxcars, and Droog nodded approvingly, then said, "Surprised, you don't seem like..."
"Hey, I didn't say I was doing the stuff, did I?" Slick said defensively. "Got to stay sharp to deal without getting caught. They're dumb but they're not that dumb ya know." He shrugged. "If some idiot wants to use it to make school a bit more interesting, well that's not my problem."
"They don't approve."
"Well that fucking bitch isn't around right now!" Slick snarled. "The both of them are off doing their stupid bullshit and I don't give a flying fuck what they approve of me doing."
Boxcars and Deuce looked horrified. "You can't talk about them like that," said Boxcars. "They'll...
"Well I just fucking did," Slick said. "What can they do about it?"
But Droog nodded slowly and noncommittally. "They keep things running smoothly, though. And keep teachers off our backs."
"Fuck them," Slick sneered. "If I was in charge...None of this bullshit about rules, and -" He gestured around the room. "This. Or all this fucking - it's like some fucking cold war, neither of them are willing to just fucking end it, all out winner takes all, they're just fucking skirmishing and won't commit to anything, if I was in charge it'd be different."
"Really," Droog said slowly. He sounded interested. "What did you have in mind?"
seriously guys suggest names please!
"...bright future and we all want you to be on top of your game like you were last year Snowman."
Snowman tapped the tips of her fingers on the desk, the unhurried clicking of carapace on polished hardwood underscoring her response. "And you think I'm not this year?" she asked.
"Of course I don't mean anything like that," he said immediately. "I just want to say we're all hoping for you to continue your winning streak and we're here for you if you need anything-"
"You have nothing to worry about there," she interrupted. "If that's all, I have to get going, the meeting's going to start shortly and I'd hate for them to think I wouldn't be there today." She smiled slightly as he went pale. "Especially with her out too."
"Right, yes, don't let me keep you."
A bigger Dersite was waiting for her at the door. "What was that about?" he asked as she kissed him on the cheek.
"Oh, nothing important," she said, waving a hand. "Let's go by the board. There should be time."
"We'll be late."
"I know," she said, amused. "It's always so much fun when he gets his hopes up."
Slick stared at the school clock on the wall with something more than his general hate. "Droog, let me see your watch."
"What?" Slick spun to glare at the taller Dersite. "Fuck you, let me see it."
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...not happening."
"Are you still mad about that? If it was any good it wouldn't have broken so easily now would it?" He was met with a cold stare. Fuck it, "Deuce, lemme see your watch!"
The short Dersite ran over obediently. Slick looked at it, comparing it with the one on the wall. It was the same. Still, Deuce was better at making clocks than keeping them on the right time. "Droog, is-"
Droog was already looking at his wrist. "Yeah, it's 4:13," he said. "Same as it says up there on the school clock." He saw Slick's expression and covered his face with one hand. "Don't. Don't say it."
"But she's -"
"She's probably just stopped off at the board."
Slick grimaced at the mention, then said, "No, she does that all the time and she's not this late over it. I think-"
"But you're not here to think," Snowman interrupted, stepping through the door. "You're here to take notes about what other, smarter people think." She smiled, mouthful of white fangs glittering in the light and headed to the table. She sat, crossing her legs, and regarded the rest of them. "No need to wait, the vice-president's out again."
"If she's out then someone else is the acting vice-president," said Slick. "Me."
"That's what you said last time. And what did I say last time?"
"You said look it up," Slick spat. In the massive book on school rules and regulations lurking in one corner like a squat, dusty frog, the one with the endless thin pages with every inch filled with dense bureaucratic text in tiny font Slick would rather stab himself in the eye than read. "So I did."
She raised an eyebrow.
Okay, it hadn't been him exactly, it was that young idiot of a freshman he'd grabbed, who actually liked reading through that sort of shit, but that wasn't the point. The point was - "If someone's out they get a replacement."
"Really," she said slowly. "How interesting."
"Yeah it's fascinating," Slick said flatly. "Rules. I could read about them all day. You never know what fun fact you'll learn next. Like this fact about that if the vice-president is out they get a temporary replacement."
She was smiling again, white eyes narrow. "Why don't you show me where it says that?"
Fuck. "What do you mean?"
"Well I need to see what it says, don't I?"
"You already fucking know what it says!" Slick seethed, his fists clenching into tight balls.
"Why, Slick, I'm not the one who looked it up, you are. What's the problem, surely you remember where you found it? When you looked it up?"
He was grinding his teeth so hard he imagined he could hear them cracking under the strain. He could just back down for now, find the stupid kid later and get him to show where the page was for next time. But she was sitting there so fucking confident, kicking one foot idly the way she did and smirking like she knew just what he was going to do. "Fine," he snapped, slamming his chair back so hard he almost went toppling onto the floor.
She didn't even have the decency to look shocked or even disappointed at his response. She kept smirking instead and he turned and stalked over to the book, trying to remember how the pages had looked with it open to the right entry. It had been more than halfway through, he was sure of that, but he couldn't risk overshooting his guess. He opened the book to the middle, glowering at the pages.
"I'm sure it won't take too long," Snowman said, pronouncing each word clearly enough that she might have been standing right by his ear, "but while Slick is occupied we'll need someone to fill in taking minutes. How about you, Deuce?"
"Sure!" the tiny Dersite chirped, pulling out one of the digital watches he carried and setting it on the table.
Slick ground his teeth harder and flipped to the next page.
"Yes, but there's a difference between offering some buses to people who sign up and transporting the whole school," Snowman said.
"Not if you tell them to. Send 'em all, we're going to win," Boxcars said. He nudged Droog. "Tell her."
"Probably," Droog agreed. "Though we still -"
"Ha!" Slick shouted. "There, there it is!" He looked up to glare at Snowman, who glanced back at Droog, shrugged, hopped off the table and walked toward him in her usual confident, self-important stride, moving across the floor like she owned the fucking place, probably figured he'd made a mistake but there it was in black and - well, gray, the book was so old the pages has discolored. Not for the first time, he thought they should really get a replacement, and one with a table of contents, and as before, promptly forgot again as she arrived to stand next to him. "Right here," he said triumphantly, stabbing at the bottom of the page with his finger hard enough to crumple it. "'If a member of the student council is unable to fulfill their duties during a meeting or in any other situation where they are required, by absence or for any other reason, a replacement must be appointed'."
She pushed his hand out of the way and flipped the page for him.
"Dear," she called.
"I'm appointing you Vice President. Slick, go find the forms and then fill them out."
"Adjourned," Snowman said. As Deuce scribbled furiously on the paper she called over her shoulder, "Done with the forms yet, Slick?"
"Why the fuck do we have forms for this?"
"To make sure it's done properly," Snowman said carelessly. She took the offered minutes from Deuce, looking over them with satisfaction. "You're a fast writer," she complimented, adding sweetly, "If Slick could write this fast he'd probably be done with those forms by now."
"If you think he's doing such a great job why don't you have him be secretary!"
"Don't be ridiculous Slick, he can't be secretary, we already have a secretary." As Deuce left, following after the rest of the crew, she walked over and abruptly sat down on the side of the desk, half on top of the form he was in the middle of filling out. She held the pages of notes in front of his face. Slick scowled and leaned back to avoid the paper blowing into his face. When you're done, type these up."
Slick stared at the densely packed scrawl filling the pages. It was like Deuce had tried to write down every word said during the whole meeting. "What?"
"It's hard to read."
"No one ever would read this shit!" He pointed at one of the file cabinets. "That thing is stuffed full of minutes, all of which only see the light of day when I go over and stick a new one in. And what do you mean hard to read, it isn't that worse than the ones I write."
"Yes, I agree we should have switched over to electronic copies a long time ago," Snowman said blithely, dropping the paper on top of the desk and getting up again. "I think from now on we should have a typed copy of every meeting's minutes."
"Bye Slick! Have fun!" She waved at him from the doorway, pulling the door shut after her.
"Hey," Droog hissed. Slick paused, and instead of swinging the horse hitcher again he flipped it in his hand and then slid the card up one sleeve. He kicked the larger Prospitian again, making a satisfying thump against gray carapace, before climbing through the window after the rest of them. He was just in time to drop down to the ground outside and safely out of sight before the door opened.
Slick was grinning from ear to ear. It wasn't a particularly nice expression but there was no mistaking his improved mood. He always felt better after beating on someone else. "You'd think they'd've learned," he muttered, mostly to himself, as they walked off at a good clip. "No one's selling on my fucking turf but me."
"Wasn't the same stuff though," said Deuce, who'd been mulling this over for some time.
"Doesn't fucking matter!"
"It's the principle of the thing Deuce," Boxcars said. "'s matter of respect. That guy didn't respect us, an' now he does."
"Exactly." Slick's grin widened.
"We should get some practice in," Droog said.
"You still on about that? We got this in the bag."
"But we don't have -" Boxcars started to say.
Slick glared at him. "I am not in a fucking choir," he snarled, jabbing his finger at Boxcar's stomach for emphasis. "I am not going to be in the fucking choir. We play good, that's what matters."
"Yeah!" Deuce agreed. "We're better players than anybody around. That last time, everybody but else were all amateurs, nobody was even nearly as good a band as we were!"
"That's not the point," Boxcars said.
"No, that is the point," Slick insisted, in a tone that said the argument was over if everyone else wanted to keep their carapaces unbroken.
Droog's breath hissed out.
"Don't fucking start," he said. "We've got another gig coming up and I haven't heard any complaints except from you two."
"Doesn't mean there aren't," Droog said. "I'm not saying we aren't good, but no matter how good we are it's all instrumental stuff."
"You got a problem with what we're playing?" Slick snarled, rounding on him.
"No, Slick," Droog said tiredly.
"But it's not about being the best at what we do if other bands have something we don't have," Boxcars insisted. "If we want to really take off we need a singer."
"And I've told you what I think about your fucking choir, so fuck off Boxcars," Slick snapped.
seriously guys I don't know what I'm doing shout out suggestions plz
also what should AR and WV's names and roles be?
"...hate for you to have to concern yourself with unwanted complications when you're doing so many important things," the teacher rambled.
"I wasn't intending to." Snowman's voice was sharp. "What's gotten everyone so concerned all of a sudden? He's been my boyfriend for years."
"No, no." The woman waved her arms dismissively. "I - the two of you are obviously doing very well together, very, uh, supportive," she fumbled. "It's - well sometimes when - " She bit her lower lip, like she was trying to think of how to put it.
Snowman stared, comprehension and irritation dawning. "That. That's what you're worried about," she said flatly. She made an annoyed sound in the back of her throat and turned on her heel without another word.
Slick was feeling smug when he walked into the room. He wasn't expecting to see Snowman already there. She had pulled out a chess set and was arranging the pieces on the board with practiced speed.
"You've given up any pretense of actually running this thing then?" he asked, glowering as the pieces were dropped into their places.
"Mm?" She looked up as if she hadn't noticed him and then smiled. "Oh, Slick, did you hear? Some delinquent got in and started a fire."
"I did," Slick said. "The regulations book. It was burned to ashes. I heard. Terrible shame. And the file cabinet too. I was so sad to hear about it. I don't know what we'll do without rules and old minutes."
She shrugged. "I already know the regulations."
Slick clenched his teeth. "No you don't," he lied. "Because if you did I wouldn't have had to look up that rule last meeting."
"Oh," she lied back, "I forgot that one. So I flipped through it later to refresh my memory, of course."
"No you fucking didn't!"
She pursed her lips mock-thoughtfully. "What do you mean?"
"You couldn't have, I was here and you left!"
"Yes, I had something to do." She was smiling far too widely. "I came back later that day."
"But the book was-" He stopped. He'd walked right into that.
"It's a good thing I did," she continued. "Who knows when the arsonist decided to light it on fire. But it certainly couldn't have been after the meeting that day, because the door was locked for the evening and the only people who have a key are our little student council group, and of course none of us would ever be involved in something like that. Isn't that right Slick? Luckily I reread the book that day and refreshed my memory before it was so tragically destroyed. Such an expensive book too, I wonder who could have done it."
"You're just going to say whatever the fuck you feel like and say it's a rule now aren't you," Slick said.
"Of course not!" Snowman said.
Slick eyed the chess board with trepidation. "Did you talk Qing into playing chess with you? I thought you two had compromised over that massive eyesore you've got blocking the front doors."
"She and I are enjoying our game," Snowman said.
"Does that mean she's winning?"
Her smile got distinctly more predatory. "She might say that."
The door opened and Slick turned to see Droog, Boxcars and Deuce enter, only to stop in their tracks at the sight of the chess pieces.
Droog was quickest on the uptake: "Snowman, none of us are going to win at that. There wouldn't be any point in making an attempt."
"It doesn't matter who wins," she said in the blithe tones of someone who wins. "For the most part. I'll explain when everyone gets here." She reached down to pull out a second board.
"Slick, just move a piece," Boxcars hissed impatiently.
"Shut up." He glared at the board, as if its existence was a personal affront.
Droog pushed a pawn a square forward at the other board and argued, "Standard rate."
Snowman flicked the pawn over with a knight. "Consider continuing to go here payment."
He moved the rook midway through the board. "They wouldn't expel us," he countered.
A bishop took another pawn. "We do have rules."
"Fuck you he was breaking both your fucking rules!" Slick exploded.
"Slick, we've been over this, you can't speak until you move a piece."
He moved a pawn. Without looking she slid the bishop out. Slick growled then spat, "That fucker got what deserved."
"Yes, he's been expelled as he deserved, in accordance with the school's policy on drug possession."
Qing leaned over Droog before he could make a move and took the knight with the queen. "A fourth the rate," she said.
Snowman considered the board and moved her remaining knight.
Droog looked at her, considering if that was meant as support or not. "That's practically nothing."
She gave him a black look.. "And?"
He fought the urge to edge away from her. Droog considered continuing Slick's argument and decided that regardless of what the Prospitian had been dealing, she wasn't going to be happy with what had happened or who had done it. He moved the rook again, taking a pawn. Snowman was definitely the safer of the two to be arguing with right now. "Students here already know us, it's not like it'll do anything to promote us."
"Checkmate," she said.
Droog sighed and started to replace the pieces.
"They may know you," Snowman continued, "but only a song or two, you're playing in clubs most of the students can't go to, after all."
"We've fucking seen you at them!" Slick shouted.
She gave him a patient look. He growled, grinding his teeth together harder and looked back at the board. After a minute's hesitation he moved another pawn forward. "We've fucking seen you at them," he repeated.
The bishop picked the pawn off. He clenched his fists in frustration.
"I said most," she said.
Droog had finished setting the pieces into their proper places. He slid a pawn forward. "Half rate and the catering involves actual food."
"No fucking way!"
"If you want take part in bargaining try moving the pieces more than once every hour," Droog said, irritated.
"I'm not letting her win!"
Droog opened his mouth, thought, and shut it again. He turned back to Snowman, moved a second pawn. "Can one person move for another?"
"And you stop letting her win!"
Snowman hopped the knight over her own line of pawns. "It doesn't matter to me." She moved the other one out. "A third rate and decent food."
Boxcars reached over the table to shove one of the pawns on the far edge. "That'll actually last the night."
She moved its opposite number. "Of course."
Deuce was scribbling furiously. Boxcars poked him in the shoulder. "Deuce, anything you want to ask for?"
"Huh?" He paused, tapping the now blunt pencil under his chin. "I liked the drinks last time."
"That's because the punch was spiked Deuce," Droog said tiredly, resisting the urge to glance at Slick.
He needn't have bothered. "I told you I didn't do it," Slick muttered automatically, not taking his eyes off the board.
I just realized I need to figure out what the Felt's role is, besides that they're also students. fuck.
"...have no intention of trying to tell you what to do of course," the principal continued. "And of course you have a long record of being able to decide what's a good idea and we support any decision you choose -"
"I am not sleeping with him," Snowman said.
It was entirely possible for Snowman, in theory, to be distracted and not watch where she was going. But Slick was certain this was not the case, because as she strode out of the room a second before she'd walked into him, she'd raised one arm so it struck him in his neck and sent him reeling back into some unlucky student behind him while she continued along without breaking her stride.
He punched the asshole in the face. It was a Dersite, and when Slick noticed this midway through the second punch he decided that this made him all the more deserving of getting punched. A second later he'd had the gall to punch back instead of holding still, knocking Slick into the wall of lockers with a nasty clang, so naturally Slick had flipped out his horse hitcher from one sleeve and raised it over his head.
His arm didn't want to move. He realized a second later this was because someone was holding onto it and was in the process of lifting him into the air. Fuck.
"If you're looking for that fucking bitch she went off that way," Slick told Kaiser, pointing with his other arm down the hall as he dangled. "Don't know why you want to get anywhere near her but you're the fucking nutjob going out with her."
The hand squeezed. Slick let out an involuntary yelp as his carapace broke under the pressure. The horse hitcher dropped from his fingers and Kaiser caught the card in his free hand. Then he let go.
Slick dropped in a heap, cradling his arm. "Fuck fuck fuck," he hissed.
"Don't let me catch you fighting again, Slick," the larger Dersite said flatly. He dropped the card to flutter down onto the tiles between them.
"Oh you won't," he snarled. Because the next time I'll put it through your skull, bastard.
Not that being sure not to say the second half did much, because the other Dersite's eyes narrowed as if he'd heard every word aloud and glared at him for another thirty seconds before finally turning and heading off in the same direction as Snowman.
"Fuck," Slick hissed again, getting to his feet shakily. He could feel a wetness in his sleeve where the cracks were oozing blood. He flexed his fingers experimentally and then let his arm fall back to his side. It wasn't that bad, but it'd still be better bandaged.
He poked his head into the art class on his way. "Hey Droog. That fucker busted my arm, I'm going."
Droog looked up from painting some small sculpture Slick couldn't see properly. "Fine. What did you do, they going to be pissed off over something I should know about?"
"Huge bastard bluh bluh usual shit. Hey, what the fuck are - " Slick craned his neck. " - Droog, what the fuck why are you painting those fucking things?"
"For the same reason we were painting them last time," Droog said. He resisted the urge to rub his forehead, he didn't want to risk getting any more paint on him than was absolutely unavoidable.
"Yeah I thought you idiots were done with that," Slick said, glaring at the class at large. They were mostly Prospitians, with the occasional Dersite like Droog mixed in. "They're all a nice shiny black or white pile of expensive antique shit I hope gets smashed into a million pieces and then lit on fire now."
"That was the base coat. This is detailing. It's a big set so we're doing the work in pieces."
"Why the fuck are you doing this."
"Does it really matter what we're painting on?"
"It does when you're painting their fucking game pieces!"
"Slick you're getting blood all over the floor. And that shirt is going to be ruined."
Slick looked down at his soaked sleeve. "Fuck if I care."
"Well I do, go get cleaned up."
"Do you really want to stand here and watch people paint these things? Maybe you could give advice? Or you could model for us, I'm sure you could do a good roaring dog face."
"Fuck off and die," Slick said. "Fine, have fun painting dolls for girls."
"Thank you, I intend to."
Slick made an enraged wordless sound in his throat and stalked off toward the nurse's office. The nurse at the counter rolled his eyes and dug out a roll of gauze without a word. Slick sat down and pulled off his shirt, trying to get the sleeve off without doing any more damage to his arm despite the tacky blood sticking the cloth to his carapace.
"Here," the nurse said, passing him a brandy bottle.
Slick uncapped it and swallowed a mouthful. "Thanks," he said. He pulled a card from his pocket and handed it across. The nurse nodded and slid it into his own pocket as Slick took another swig.
He was part way through wrapping his arm up when Snowman appeared in the doorway. She immediately headed over to where he was sitting. "You forgot last meeting's minutes," she said in a satisfied sing-song voice. "So I thought I should bring you them. Remember they need to be typed up Slick. Promptly."
She dropped the sheets - fucking Deuce - of paper in his lap, on top of the bloody shirt.
"I'm going to kill you," Slick said dully.
"That's nice, Slick."
"Oh, Snowman," the nurse said. "That reminds me, I need to ta...lk...k never mind." He cowered back under her sudden glare.
She looked back to Slick and smiled cheerfully. "I know you'll be missing today's, so I'll be sure to have Deuce bring the next set to you. Get it done before next meeting."
"All of you."
"That's nice, Slick." She left.
Slick upended the bottle.
Slick was reminded of why, despite everything, he didn't mind being stuck late at school when something tackled his side, with him narrowly managing to get his injured arm out of the way in time. Before he could shake it loose its grip turned vicelike.
"Get the fuck off me," he snarled, prying at the elementary schooler's fingers. It was bad enough dealing with this in the mornings. And at least then he was usually out of it enough that the endless fucking noise the kid spewed was slightly less than enraging.
"Hi Slick what happened to your arm how are you," Karkat said.
"I punched stupid kids in the face so much it broke. OFF." There wasn't any point in stabbing the kid, gods of the furthest ring knew he'd tried it enough times and it just meant the kid made more noise. He focused on shoving until Karkat finally let go. He pushed the kid backward hard but Karkat had practice and managed to keep his feet under him, just trotting back a second later.
"So what happened?" the kid said, eyes wide. "You get in a fight did you get in a fight Slick did -"
"YES! Why the hell are you here? Go home!"
"Aradia said you'd be by here if I waited a few minutes!" the kid said happily and Slick tried to remember which one that was so he could stab it next time they met. "Let's walk together!"
"No." The kid latched back onto his side anyway. "Let go! I fucking hate you kid."
"You're my best hatefriend too!" The kid's claws had dug into the cloth of his shirt and Slick gave up trying to get them loose. He'd have better luck just tearing the shirt. Let the kid keep the scraps as souvenirs or whatever the hell. The kid was still talking. "Did you get into a fight at school did they kick you out for fighting is that why you're here earlier than usual I thought you said you don't get caught by teachers because they know what's good for them-"
"I didn't get caught by any teachers," he growled. "Fucking bastard Kaiser crushed my arm while I wasn't paying attention and I didn't want to deal with any more bullshit today."
"You should beat him up!"
"Yeah kid." Slick gave up and started walking. "Gonna beat his head in next chance I get."
"Are you going to challenge him?" The kid's eyes were fucking saucers with excitement, Slick noted. His face looked more punchable by the second.
"The fuck are you going on about now?"
"You know, after school! You say to meet you behind the school or somewhere at a certain time!"
"You kids actually do that shit?"
"Of course!" Karkat looked affronted by the idea. "We're not a bunch of wussy babies."
"Kid," Slick said. "Kid. Babies are stupid people who challenge each other to - to fucking duels of honor or whatever the fuck the stupid shit you just said is. You don't tell people their head has a date with your fist, you just fucking do it. Preferably while the idiot's got their back to you and his stupid fucking girlfriend finally takes her fucking eyes off him long enough to get a good hit or two without her snapping your fingers as soon as you get within ten feet even though you didn't even have a fucking weapon out yet."
"Oooh," said Karkat in awed tones, like he'd just imparted some brilliant wisdom. Slick would say that much for the kid, he knew when to fucking listen. "But isn't it more badass to show you can win even though the other person knows you're planning on fighting them?"
"No it's fucking retarded. And anyway if you tried to pull that shit Snowman would just show up herself and beat the shit out of you for threatening her precious pet pack mule. Don't know why, it's not like the whole fucking rest of the fucking school wouldn't line up for the chance to cart her books around or whatever the fuck she's using him for."
"But you'd win if you got the chance, right?"
"Maybe," Slick said. He wasn't really sure how a fight would go down. "I dunno, it'd depend on who got the jump on who I guess. He's not really that smart but I'd need the rest of the crew and they wouldn't want to go along with it because they'd be too scared of what Snowman would do when she found out. Fucking spineless fuckers. It's not like she's actually killed anyone we know of."
"I heard she was why there was that ambulance earlier this year. We heard it drive by!"
That got a smile. "Ha, yeah that was pretty fucking cool actually," Slick admitted. "Someone doing the painting tried to walk off with one of the stupid game pieces from the stupid game she and the other bitch were playing. She got interrupted though, would have done a lot more but Qing got pissy because the dumb bastard was Prospitian and she wasn't okay with Snowman breaking more than a single measly limb even though it was her game the fucker was messing with too, and the two of them got into a fight over it. Fuck, if Qing was in charge she'd probably have broken both his legs too, she's such a fucking hypocrite."
Karkat was just confused. "Why would someone steal a game piece?"
"Not like a regular one, one of the ones for their stupid game. It's some fucking piece of antique bullshit, that shit's probably expensive as fuck," Slick said. "I don't know, I figure anyway. The whole thing definitely was so it follows the bits are too right? And it was fucking stupid to try to take one of the pieces but it'd be fucking insane to have tried it unless the dumb bastard was sure it was worth a lot, right? Probably. He didn't really get a chance to explain much once she'd jumped him." Slick laughed.
"Girls are scary," Karkat said.
"She's not scary she's just a fucking bitch. Anyway what would a kid like you know about it?"
"Nepeta's been leaving squirrel parts in my locker," Karkat said. "I think she's planning to kill me or something. It was bad enough when Terezi was leaving scalemate heads and at least those are just toys."
"Sucks to be you, kid." Slick wasn't entirely unsympathetic. "Either figure out some way to get the drop on them or find some friendlier girl to hide behind. Or get a bunch of your friends together or something. Isn't one of them some freakish strong kid? Or is that one of the ones you're already scared of?"
"That's Equius, but he's Nepeta's friend."
Slick considered. "Yeah, you're pretty much fucked kid. Find some poor bastard to frame for some shit that'll get their attention and hope you can get them to fixate on whoever it is instead."
Karkat said hopefully, "You think that'd work?"
"If you don't get caught sure. Course if you do get fucked they'll probably kill you over it but you said you figure they're already gonna, so what've you got to lose?"
"Hmmmmmmmmm..." Karkat was thinking hard. "What do you think I should frame somebody over?"
"How the fuck would I know?" Slick did his best to avoid elementary schoolers, they didn't have anything worth taking and they weren't useful for anything either, and barring the annoyance currently welded to his side he did a pretty good job of it. He wouldn't have recognized any of the other ones if he tripped over their corpse. "Do something you figure will really piss them the fuck off, then get someone else to take the fall and hope when they're done with mauling the poor bastard they'll have forgotten about you. Just make sure it's something you won't get caught doing while you're trying to pull it off."
"But I dunno what would make Nepeta mad, she's really cheerful all the time."
"Well what'd you do to make her wanna kill you?"
"I don't know!" Karkat wailed. "She keeps stalking me like I'm some wild hoofbeast and showing off her claw gloves and telling me she wants me to play with her and nothing I say gets her to leave me alone!"
Slick could relate to that. He idly shoved at the kid again. Nope, the hand still locked on his shirt was not letting go. "Well then frame her for something and hope she's too distracted dealing with that bullshit to bother you. Maybe get her expelled, that would solve your problem."
"Would that work?"
"If you can pull it off."
"Qing's still mad, you know," Boxcars muttered. "And ya know how she is, she waits. It's bad enough with that hanging over our heads, you piss off the two of them too and she'll be able to do anything she likes."
"Fuck them all," Slick said. His arm was still sore but it had almost healed, and it was too early in the morning to care about shit. He gulped another mouthful of black coffee from the cup and scowled at the universe in general.
"Yeah, that's not gonna help anything. Ya could stand to be more subtle in general, if Kaiser finds..." Boxcars continued, but Slick tuned out the grousing. What the fuck was up with him anyway, it wasn't even noon yet, it was like how did you even get that energetic, even fucking Deuce had the decency to be subdued at ungodly hours like this.
He finally tuned back in at "...he's prolly the only one in the whole damn school that doesn't know, Slick, an' - "
Too damn early. He scowled up at Boxcars. "The fuck are you going on about now?"
"Damn it Slick you aren't even paying attention."
"You're talking about some stupid shit, why would I?" Slick slouched further down at he walked. He tried to drink another mouthful of coffee, only to find the cup empty. "Fuck this, I'm getting more. Save me a seat or whatever."
Slick lounged by the vending machine instead of walking back toward class, finishing off the cup at his own pace and then refilling it again before finally leaving. The teacher didn't even look up as he slid into a seat in the back. With the extra coffee in his system he was feeling a bit better.
That feeling lasted roughly a minute after he left. He and Boxcars split up, heading in separate directions. He was making his way through the halls when an arm wrapped around his neck. "There you are."
He clawed at it. "I have class!" he objected desperately as she started to drag him along.
"No you don't," Snowman said. As usual she just ignored his struggles and kept walking at her normal pace as if he was following along willingly. "And we're doing design planning for the dance now."
"Study hall is a class! We had a whole fucking argument about it!"
"It's an obligation and like all obligations is superseded by more important ones, such as this. Deciding when that's true is a judgment I can make and you can't."
"Fuck you, go find Droog or Boxcars or some other idiot who cares about making stuff fucking clashing or whatever."
"Clashing is what you want to avoid," Snowman said patiently.
"Whatever, find someone who cares! Has your fucking boyfriend run off and hid so he doesn't have to deal with this?"
Instead of any sort of sensible response to this, Snowman started talking about decorations as if he hadn't said anything at all.
Slick seethed silently in his seat, glaring at the rest of the group assembled around the table, all of whom looked disgustingly alert and interested in whatever bullshit was being planned.
Snowman was looking through her bag. She frowned suddenly and pulled out a condom package. "I wish they'd stop slipping these into the pockets every time I let it out of my sight."
"Do you know why?" one of the miscellaneous girls Slick didn't care enough about to know her name who he hoped died in some horrible accident said.
"Somehow they've all gotten terrified I'll get pregnant." She dropped the box and kicked them across the cafeteria irritably. "Three conversations about it this week already." She made a face and in a near perfect replica of the principal's voice said, "We wouldn't dream of telling you what to do, of course we wouldn't, but we'd just hate for you to have to deal with something like that when you're so busy and have so much on your mind already." In her normal voice she continued, "He looked like he was about to start crying over just the thought."
Gears were audibly grinding inside Slick's head. "Wait, so if you did you'd get - "
"People don't get expelled for being pregnant, Slick," she said. "Why are you such a disappointment, Slick."
"Why do they care, anyway?"
She shrugged. "The same reason they care about anything, they're worried it'll do something to throw me off and I'll start losing matches. It's like they think winning is some sort of magic trick and everything has to remain just so or it'll stop working, or some superstitious nonsense like that." She lounged back in her chair, half her weight against her boyfriend. "Not how it works at all, but I guess I shouldn't expect any of them to understand that." She nodded toward the Prospitian sitting on the other side of the table. "I suppose that's something to be said in favor of your position, Whist. Not having to deal with this sort of nonsense."
The gray girl across her nodded back coolly. "I suppose it is," Qing replied.
The two regarded each other silently for a minute.
"But you're not actually pregnant," Slick said.
"There wouldn't be any point in handing me condoms now if I was, Slick. Did you sleep through sex ed?" She leaned forward again. "The main issue at the moment is how complex the decorations can be."
"A strict theme might be nice to try," Qing said, nodding. "As long as it's something everyone can reliably follow."
"And even if you did you'd abort it right?" Slick burst out.
Snowman stared at him for a second. Then she said, "You know, I'm hungry. Slick, go get us something to eat."
"Fuck you I'm not your slave."
"Really? Care to check where it says that?"
"Fuck you!" Slick snarled, flipping his knife out and lunging for her.
She sat up sharply, catching his wrist and smacking his hand against the table hard enough to knock it out of his grasp. Before he could pull away she'd scooped the knife up and stabbed it into the table right in the narrow gap between two of his fingers.
She let go. They stared at each other. "Now, Slick," she said.
He growled, pulling the knife out and walking away from the table.
He returned with several bags of hamburgers, dropping them unceremoniously on the table in front of her. "I hope that's to your satisfaction, your majesty," he ground out.
"It'll do." She pulled a burger out and unwrapped it. The rest of the table followed, divying them up and returning to the conversation smoothly.
still working on the rest, I'll post that later, sorry
"But what if she did get pregnant?" Slick said suddenly.
Droog and Boxcars facepalmed. "Slick. Stop. Just stop," Droog said.
"But - " Slick shuddered. "Can you imagine a smaller version of her?"
"Slick, we went to school with a smaller version of her," Boxcars said.
"But more than one of her!"
"You mean like Qing?" Deuce asked.
"No, of her." He shuddered again.
"Yes, Slick. You've explained your thoughts on the matter," Droog said. "Can we get back to practice?"
"Huh? Yeah." Slick looked back to the piano keys.
"But what if she did?"
i have no idea what i'm doing!!!!!!!!
Die wasn't happy. This was nothing new, of course, Die was rarely satisfied with the way the world was, but he was more upset than usual.
"What. Did. You. Do. With. My. Hat?!" he shrieked, shaking Itchy back and forth.
"Wasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tme!" Itchy wailed, eyes rolling around in his head from the shaking. It was hard for Die to keep a grip as Itchy almost vibrated in an attempt to escape.
"Yes it was you it's always you always!" Die yelled back.
"Wasn'tmewasn'tmewasn'tmeIwasframedIswearIwas!" Itchy shrieked.
"Yeah, it wasn't him," Trace said.
"Huh?" Die's grip slackened and Itchy made another desperate attempt at freedom. Die tripped him.
"Someone else walked off with all of them. I know what Itchy's handiwork looks like and this isn't it."
"Well why didn't you say anything earlier?" Die said.
Trace shrugged. "Because he was the one who messed with them all the other times."
Die nodded. That was reasonable. "So who then?"
"Who else would mess with us?" Trace said.
"I'llgofindCans," Itchy volunteered, shooting off.
"Deuce and Droog are around but Boxcars is gone and I haven't seen Slick, he's probably taken off," Die said. "Who was the one?"
"Fuck if I care," Trace said.
"Yeah, good point."
"So most the team is injured, I hear," Snowman said, hopping up to sit on the bed. The nurse had made himself scarce.
Slick gritted his teeth, trying not to yelp as her weight pressed down on his cracked leg. "Fuckers started it," he managed, voice tight.
"And now most of the team is injured," she repeated patiently.
"Bastard's still fine," he muttered.
That got a blank look. "Of course Kaiser's fine."
"So what do you care then?"
"The rest of the team, Slick. Remember teams? Games requiring more than one person have them."
"You mean like that fucking game you've dragged the whole school into?" Slick said. She bounced once on the bed. "Fuck!"
"Like the fucking game scheduled for next week," Snowman said levelly. "When's your band playing?"
Slick jerked his hands as far away from her as he could and glared at her. "Are you just here to gloat? Or what, do you think it'll reflect badly on your supreme majesty when the team loses? It's not my fault you're lazy! Should be fucking thanking me, now they've got an excuse. Fuck do you care?"
"It reflects badly on the school." She was talking to him in a kindergarten teacher voice now. "The administration - "
"Fuck them too!"
She put one hand on his knee and shifted her weight so she was propped on her palm. Slick ground his teeth together. "Slick. I do not want the team in the hospital. When they are in the hospital they stop doing the thing they are supposed to do, which is winning games. This means..." She shifted her weight further. There was an unpleasant creak as his weakened carapace threatened to give way. "...I do not want you trying to break their knees."
"Didn't break anyone's fucking knee. Yet."
"And no one's broken yours. Yet."
He glared at her silently. After a minute, she smiled like a particularly smug cat. "I'm glad we had this talk." She bounced off the bed, Slick choking back a curse, and sauntered out of the room.
"Sliiiiick!" The kid tackled his side. Slick stumbled and fell.
"Off," he said.
"Where were you?" There was damp red welling in the corners of the kid's eyes. "You look terrible!"
Slick glared. "OFF."
The kid reluctantly slid off his chest long enough for Slick to stand, then latched onto his shirt. "You weren't anywhere for days and Aradia said-"
"It wasn't anything, okay?" Slick snapped. "A stupid fucking fight."
"But you get in fights all the time," the kid whined. Was he seriously going to start crying?
"It was fucking Kane," he snarled. With his leg injured, most of his normal afterschool activities had been out of the question, and he'd barely even stayed up until midnight the night before. If Karkat thought anything of how oddly alert he was, he hadn't mentioned it. "I was teaching some fucking green torsos a lesson about jumping my crew and apparently Kane had slipped his fucking leash so he happens across us and sticks his dumb head in, and right before I can cave it in Qing catches up with her fucking pet and goes ballistic! If she wanted him to stay in once piece the bitch should have kept a better eye on him. It's like, if you don't want your toddler to get run over, you keep it out of the street! It's not my job to avoid running the little fucker over just because you didn't tie him down properly before you left to get your nails buffed or whatever stupid shit she was doing. Fuck, I don't keep an eye on him because I don't give a fuck, and I can't imagine why she does, but if that's her fucking defect then she should own the fuck up to it and keep him away from sharp objects and shit instead of blaming me! It's not my fault if some fucker gets stabbed! And then that bitch shows up while she's trying to tear my head off and breaks my fucking knee because she said no more violence in the hallway-" Slick pulled out of his rant to realize he'd turned off the street toward the high school and the fucking troll kid was still attached to his side. "Kid, don't you have stupid baby school to be going to?"
"It's teacher development day," he said.
"What the fuck is that?"
"I don't know. It means we don't have school."
Slick stared down at him. "Then why are you here."
"I like walking with you!"
"There's something fucking wrong with you," Slick said. "It's the goddamn morning why would you get up this early if you didn't have to."
"Your school is really big. Do people get lost a lot?"
Slick pried absently at the kid's fingers. "Constantly. Dumbass kids are always losing their way and wandering around until they die of starvation."
Instead of taking the hint and maybe letting fucking go the little monster said, "Cool."
"Intercom still broken?" Pikes asked, heading into the office and dropping off the letters.
"Fixed and broken again," Whist said. "Someone came in to repair it yesterday afternoon. Something must have happened last night. Or this morning," she added, her tone making it clear that the statement was just reflexive inclusion for politeness' sake and it had obviously happened last night. "Announcements are being photocopied right now." She nodded her head toward the copier spitting out another page onto the stack. Beyond, Snowman was talking quietly to the red-faced principal. She looked serene.
To be honest, Pikes wasn't sure why anyone felt it was that important morning announcements had to be by intercom. She liked these days. A newsletter seemed so much more convenient, especially when a third of the students weren't around for homeroom. But she didn't say anything, since it didn't concern Whist and the Prospitians and it seemed Snowman was happy with the current cycle of breaking and fixing. This had happened on and off before, of course, but it had been going on for three weeks now without a day missed. Pikes knew better than to stick her head into that kind of a mess by suggesting they just stop trying to fix the thing.
She picked one of the sheets up and skimmed while the remaining sheets printed. There were all the usual things - a note about the dance, and debate club was canceling this week's meeting, she noticed with some disappointment, and... "Oh, so the school trip's gone through?" she said. "Nice."
"It's convenient. There's the chess match nearby so we might as well spend the weekend there," Qing said neutrally.
"Well, now it is, anyway," Whist said. "Remind everyone about the dress code for the dance if you would? It's nothing too strict but it will be enforced."
Pikes nodded, gathering up the sheets and heading out.
Pikes could hear a kid's voice in the hallway. "...but why would winning the chess game prove who was right about a rule?" It was a little elementary school kid.
Pikes quickly turned on her heel and headed the other way, mourning the end of what had been such a pleasant, quiet week.
"That's what I said!" Slick exploded. "I said someone must have stomped on her head before her carapace had hardened if she thought that was a good idea. And she said that if I disagreed with the ruling we could settle it with a game. And I said that was what I disagreed with and she offered to settle that with a game, and I said that was insane and she said we could settle that with a game, in that fucking smug voice of hers. She's even more insufferable now that she's gotten rid of the book, at least she didn't just make shit up then!"
"But I thought you were the-"
"It was her fucking fault!"
She entered the first classroom and kicked the door closed behind her, muffling the increasingly incoherent ramble, and handed over the first stack of sheets. "The dance's dress code is in here," she said, raising her voice a bit to be heard over the rambling outside.
"I can't believe he's back already."
"He's limping," Pikes said disapprovingly. "I suppose he felt we missed his inspiring presence and he needed to get back as soon as possible." He still seemed to be moving fast enough to get through the halls, at least, and the announcements weren't going to deliver themselves, so she opened the door and headed to the next classroom.
"Someone's presence anyway," someone else muttered.
"Slick, you really need to stop skipping lunch so much."
"'Mnot skipping. Coffee's a food." He waved the cup around as evidence, sloshing a few drops of black over the side, then gulped it down. He reached up and shoved the cup into place, then smacked the machine once again. He didn't bother getting up from the floor. Maybe if he held still she'd get bored and wander away.
"The teachers are very concerned about your budding eating disorder," she said companionably, settling down next to him against the coffee vending machine. "You know, they've worked out how much more weight you'll have to lose before they can get you committed to a hospital."
Slick considered this. "How much?"
"Just around thirty pounds is their best guess." Snowman poked him in the stomach. "They said you were showing the same work ethic at your anorexia as in your schoolwork. Amphetamines help with both, I'm told, but mostly the part where you're fat and ugly."
"Not everyone sold their soul to the devil in order to convert fat directly into bitchness," Slick said. The words were somewhat undercut by how extremely pleased he sounded saying it.
"That was almost clever." She patted him on the head, earning a hiss and a grimace. "I'm sure it was a bit wittier when whoever you stole it from said it, but any progress is still progress."
"Fuck ooooooffffffff," Slick groaned. He pulled the cup out of the machine. "Ca - lo - ries," he said, holding it up. "See? So many calories. Eating disorder cured. Now leave me the fuck alone." He slid a card from his sleeve and reached to unscrew the cap.
Snowman grabbed the whiskey out of his hand.
"Slick," Snowman said solemnly, "underage drunkenness on school premises is wrong."
"I'm not drunk you fucking bitch!" He lunged for the bottle. Snowman yanked it further away, holding it over her head. "Give it! That's -"
Someone made a noise.
"Slick found a bottle of contraband alcohol some terrible delinquent smuggled into school but as much as he wants to bring this to the principal personally as is his student duty it's almost time for class so I thought it would be better to have someone else deliver it like for example a teacher," Snowman said. She wiggled the bottle. "Single malt scotch. Twelve years. Would you mind taking it down to the office for Slick?"
The math teacher snatched it. "Of course. Have fun kids. Snowman do you have-"
"I wonder if I'll remember to mention this to the principal later," she snapped. The teacher bolted.
"What was that about?" Slick asked as Snowman shoved him off her lap.
"Just because doing anise is even worse doesn't mean alcohol use is acceptable."
"Fuck you I don't. And I mean why are you threatening teachers. They finally realize what a huge bitch you are?"
Snowman sighed dramatically and patted him again, overflowing with mock sympathy. "If you weren't so dumb, you wouldn't have to worry about being compared to stupid, ugly dogs all the time."
"They're not -" Slick's brain caught up with the fact that wasn't the part he should object to. "Uh, what...I'm...compared with."
"This is why you shouldn't get drunk during school hours," Snowman said, getting up.
"Fuck you I'm not drunk. Hey! Let go!"
"Time for class!" Snowman started walking.
No matter how he clawed, her fingers remained locked around his wrist. "I can get to class on my own!"
"Slick I wouldn't dream of expecting you to manage that when you're so confused from your first brush with alcohol."
"Fuck you fuck you fuck you!"
"I don't hold it against you, of course." Snowman slapped his hand away when he tried to tear her sleeve. "I know that you only sampled such a terrible illicit substance while on school property in a hallway Slick because, having never drunk alcohol like all good, unexpelled students, you had no idea what it was."
"I wouldn't have gotten caught with it out if you hadn't stolen it! And it's not like it's even-"
"But it's so important not to miss class," Snowman continued, as if she couldn't hear him, "so I'm happy to help out a fellow student."
"Half the school!" Slick howled.
"And that's why it's so important no ones skips additional classes."
Slick tried to bite her hand.
Boxcars smacked himself in the face when he saw them arrive. "You could have at least stood up."
"An' fuck you too." Slick made another attempt to wrench free. Snowman let go and he fell backward, smashing his head into the tiles. "Fuck!"
"You're so clumsy, Slick," Snowman cooed. "I hope you're better by next class or I'll have to escort you there too to make sure you don't hurt yourself." He hissed and tried to kick her. "If you can't stand up you'll have to go to the nurse!" she added cheerfully.
"Bluh bluh!" Slick said from the floor. "And you owe me, that stuff wasn't cheap!"
"You didn't pay for it."
"That's not the point!"
"Slick, don't try to have an argument lying down. Yer blocking the doorway."
A bottleneck of students had already begun to pile up.
"Oh, just step over him," Snowman said, "he's fine."
"If any of you -" She stomped on an ankle. Slick yelped and pulled his legs in. The students started edging past.
"You fucking psycho bitch!" he shrieked.
"Remember, attendance is important!" Snowman said, walking off.
Slick shot to his feet, flinching slightly as he put weight on his leg. Boxcars grabbed the back of his shirt, earning himself a kick that narrowly missed one knee. "Come on, Slick, let's just sit down and we'll do something later."
"Fucking kill her!" he snarled, seething.
"Yeah but right now we have class."
"But she wants me to have class!"
"If she really cared about you attending she wouldn't've said that and you know it. C'mon."
"It's fucking oppression of free speech," Slick ranted.
"Slick, you wrote self-insert fanfic about killing other students. Be glad all that happened was getting an F for completely ignoring the assignment."
"It's because that fucker was sucking up to you."
"And not even good self-insert fanfic," Snowman continued, looking the paper over again. "Why would Kaiser and I be trying to kill each other?"
"That's what you think."
"Yes, Slick, that's what I think," she repeated patiently. "To say nothing of how much more confusing it is after replacing every instance of the word 'president' for 'bitch'. It really hurts the plotline when you've removed any reference to her position. Maybe if you'd tried harder the teacher would have pretended to take this seriously long enough to report your implied suicide threat."
"What im-" Slick shot out of the chair and bolted across the room, leaving it to clatter to the floor.
Snowman ignored this. "It's so lazy. This is word for word the same thing as the book except you changed bow to knife and added in a few more bad lines."
"And I said you're a bitch!" Slick said, judging it was a safe distance.
"I know, it's not even imaginative with its insults. Did you stab your elementary school friend too many times? Your homework was so much better when he was doing it."
"Fuck you. It's your fault I read the piece of shit."
"I told you it wasn't any good."
"Yeah but then it actually wasn't!" He pointed a finger accusingly. "You tricked me!"
"What are you yelling about now?"
"Gah!" Slick jumped sideways. Qing glanced at him with mild disapproval and continued in to sit at the table.
"You've got to see this, it's Slick's English homework."
"I heard he was screaming at the teacher earlier..."
"What? No! Give that to -" Slick jumped for the paper. Snowman passed it to Qing over his head. "That's my-"
"Dear, if you would."
Kane pulled Slick off and Qing sat down, glancing over it. She laughed. "Oh this is incredible. Dear, listen to this:
...As directed, I turn so they see me in profile, and wait. When they march Kaiser out the door, the audience goes insane shouting my name to kill him. They secure his hands behind a post, which is unnecessary. He’s not going anywhere. There’s nowhere to go. This is not the roomy stage before the Training Center but the narrow terrace in front of the bastard’s mansion. Even if there was I'd still kill him! No wonder no one bothered to have me practice. He’s ten yards away. Not that I'd have ever needed practice no matter where they put him since I never miss ever.
I feel the knife purring in my hand. Reach back and grasp the hilt. Position it, aim at the rose, but watch his face. He coughs and a bloody dribble runs down his chin. My earlier stabbings must have been too much for the pansy. His tongue flicks over his puffy lips. I search his eyes for the slightest sign of anything, fear, remorse, anger. But there’s only the same look of amusement that ended our last conversation. It’s as if he’s speaking the words again.“Oh, my dear Mr. Spades. I thought we had agreed not to lie to each other.”
He’s right. We did.
The point of my blade shifts upward. I release the hilt. And that bitch Snowman collapses over the side of the balcony screaming as the long blade penetrates her body right between her breasts and plunges to the ground. She's still twisting on the ground so I chuck another couple knives deeply into her squirming body until she's Dead. - He actually left dead capitalized, can you believe it? Like it wasn't obvious enough he'd just copied the whole thing. -
In the stunned reaction that follows, I’m aware of one sound. Kaiser’s laughter. Another few blades puts an end to that! The crowd goes wild, cheering me.
"Your aim is terrible, actually," Kane told him as the girls snickered.
"Shut the fuck up and let go of me!"
He glanced at Qing. She shrugged and he let go of Slick's jacket. Scowling, he stomped over to the table and grabbed the paper.
"He really didn't read the book, did he?"
"Well, he says he did," Snowman replied. "Comprehension, on the other hand..."
"She's the best character. I'm jealous."
"I'm sure it was just because she's killed," Snowman said modestly. "He doesn't really think things any further than that."
"She's an incompetent fascist bitch and she got what she deserved," Slick grumbled.
"Is that going to be the topic for your makeup assignment?"
"The one you're doing because you want to pass English, Slick."
"I'm passing English."
"No, you were passing English. You can return to that wonderful state by doing another assignment to replace this one." She smiled. "I look forward to reading your essay on why she's an evil oppressor because she gives people orders."
"But she does!"
For some reason the two just laughed again.
In which there are a series of overreactions.
"Stop." Thunk. "Doing. Stupid. Things."
"Is there a knife in the vending machine?"
Snowman didn't look up. "It was like that when we got here." Slick wiggled loose and tried to make a break for it. She spun and pounced, sending the two skidding across the ground. Slick's already bloody forehead hit the tile and he snarled, twisting to bite her wrist. "By the way, apparently it's out of coffee." She punched him with her free hand.
"It's not out it just wouldn't fucking work!"
The vice principal stepped around them. "It's not showing that it's out."
"I told you," Slick hissed angrily, trying to get her fingers off his neck.
"Make sure the out of order sign reminds people of the location of the other one," Snowman said. "Some students -" She jammed a knee into his stomach. "- might be too stupid to remember there's more than one."
"I shouldn't have to! It's not out it just won't give me any! Hey, that's my knife, don't - OW!"
Slick dove to the floor in front of Itchy's path. "Think fast!" he crowed as Itchy tripped over his side, flailed, and then smacked face-first into the corner wall before he could regain his balance.
Laughing hysterically, Slick climbed to his feet. "Oh man did you see-" he started, turning toward the person next to him.
Cans punched him into a locker.
One of the nearer teachers poked a head out.
"They...ran into each other?" Cans suggested, heading for Itchy.
"Sure. Take him to see the nurse, he's bleeding pretty bad. Slick?"
"I'm fine you fucking vulture."
"I'm glad to hear that," the teacher said in a monotone. "Try not to drip blood all over the floor again, it's a health hazard."
"I'll get blood where I want," Slick muttered darkly, cautiously touching the scab on his forehead and finding it had reopened. He made sure to wipe his hand off on the wall, leaving a long red smear.
"Dear, you need to let go, I can't yell at him when he's unconscious. It's not satisfying."
The pressure on his neck let go. Slick blinked woozily as blood rushed back to his brain.
Snowman bent over him, one hand holding her shirt together. "I liked this shirt," she said coldly.
"It's not even a real shirt," Slick said, as the parts in charge of speech flickered uncertainly back to life. "If it had - shoulders - stuff - wouldn't be falling apart just cuz it got cut on the side. S'not my fault you don't - sleeves like real clothing."
"I'm not basing my wardrobe based on where you plan to stab."
"Well you should because picking it by what's the least amount of cloth you can call a shirt's not working so well is it? Don't we have a dress code."
"Not since middle school," she said, her voice dropping another few dozen degrees.
He started chuckling. "Hey remember how-" She stomped on his stomach. "Ow! Fuck-" She stomped again, this time making a gash as his carapace cracked open. Slick squirmed away.
"Yes," she said flatly. "I'm going to go change. You're going to go buy me a replacement."
"What? How would I know where to get your stupid shirt?"
"You've been staring at it all day. Go find it." When he didn't move immediately, she took a step toward him. Slick scrambled up and bolted from the room.
"You should have just let me strangle him," Kaiser said.
"Wait for him to come back with the wrong shirt."
"Slick, you can't just wave the phone's camera around, all I see is a blur."
"I found something pink, is this it?"
"Her shirt was red."
"Oh. But it's the same thing, right?"
"If you want her to strangle you with it so badly, just grab whatever's closest and stop bothering me."
"But it is!"
"They're different colors. She doesn't even wear pink."
"She has lots of pink shit."
"Because you hate the color. Remember those dog candies she always had back in middle school? The ones she never actually ate?"
"And she doesn't wear pink. Most of them wouldn't even fit-"
"Hey, is this it?"
Slick stared at the cloth. "And that's red, right?"
"No. It's mauve."
"That's not even a real color. You made it up."
"Just find the red one. Or you could find someone and ask them to find the shirt."
"And how am I supposed to steal it if I invite one of the staff over to watch me?"
"Just pay for it."
"She probably shops here because it's the only place that would charge this much for a third of a shirt."
"Think of it as buying the privilege of finding it before my phone dies."
"Would she really be able to tell the difference between red and whatever?"
"This is such bullshit, I didn't even draw blood."
"And now you're skipping class to buy clothes."
"Hey, I asked if you wanted to come! Is this it?"
"I get clothes wrecked in fights all the time and I don't complain."
"That's because you wear rags if I let you."
"Sure you complain but you complain about everything. I don't know why she's complaining. Her clothes are terrible anyway."
"Yes, you've already covered what a tragedy your life is that she wears clothes."
"Fuck you Droog I never said that!"
"You've spent -" He checked the clock. "-twenty minutes on it."
"It was a stupid shirt!"
"You didn't even notice anything beyond how didn't cover her shoulders!"
"I did so," Slick said indignantly. "It was really short too."
"Do you even hear yourself when you talk?"
"What about this, is this it?"
"You stared at her chest all morning, do you remember a giant ugly rabbit on it?"
"There wasn't a rabbit on it."
"Then just say that. Dick."
"What made this seem like a good idea," Crowbar said.
"Well, when Slick gets blamed, he'll be expelled!" Matchsticks said.
"No, when you get caught, you'll be expelled."
"But why would anyone think we'd burn down-" Itchy said.
Crowbar closed the door behind him and then locked it.
"What's going on?" Snowman asked.
"Nothing's being lit on fire!" Crowbar said.
She stared at him for a moment. "…Good."
"Or going to be lit on fire. No fire at any time."
"Snowman!" a Dersite called, and as Snowman turned to glare at the new arrival Crowbar took the chance to sidle away. "Snowman I want to ask about the school budget with the constant repairs. The Pros-"
"Which constant repairs?"
"The PA system."
"The issue of the PA system will be dealt with as soon as the school staff stop distracting me by constantly trying to chat with me about trivial things that don't concern them."
"But the cost of -"
"The culprits will naturally pay for all of it once I catch them."
"But you haven't found the culprit yet."
"Yes, and I'll be too distracted to do that until the school staff stop bothering me about trivial things that don't concern them."
"Speaking of trivial things," Snowman continued, "why don't you go discuss this with members of the administration?"
"Remember to refer to it as 'pointless distraction' and 'doesn't concern them', I find repetition is the best way to get things across." She grabbed him, spun him to face in the opposite direction, and shoved. "Off you go."
Slick slunk into English class and slid into a seat next to Boxcars. "What's with the face? Something good happen while I was gone?"
"One of the freshmen's causing trouble."
"The dumb one, the other dumb one, the stupid one, or the crazy dumb one, or..."
"Crazy one. Decided now of all days was the best time to bug Kaiser about steroid use by the team, transparency bluh bluh. He'd even gotten a bunch of other poor dumb fucks to agree with him. He's lucky Kaiser didn't just squash him on the spot."
"I didn't know they were all using steroids," Slick said. "I was just shoving Die's head in a toilet, he didn't seem that strong."
"No one knows, he's just complaining we don't do drug tests."
"So they'd do better if they were taking steroids?"
"I know you don't keep up with this but they're actually doing pretty well this year. Maybe it's the coach, or that Crowbar's around instead of being hospitalized like last year."
"Remember how pissed off she was over that?" Slick said fondly.
"Remember how she almost took your eye out over that?"
"Killjoy. You know, it might be fun if the crazy one was in charge."
"You mean, after you stab him to death and take over?"
"I bet I wouldn't have to stab him all the way to death."
"If he doesn't have the sense to shut up around the two of them he won't have the sense to do what you want either."
"But she hasn't stabbed him or anything. She's stupid like that."
Boxcars sighed. "Ya know, they say a crescent moon always brings out the crazies."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"There's a crescent moon Slick. You should pay more attention to the natural world. It's a glorious gift."
"But it's not night."
Boxcars stared at him. "Slick. Look out the window right now."
He turned. "Well I don't see any green torsos or the bitch or-"
"Look up at the sky."
"Oh, yeah, moon's out during the day. Forgot about that." The bell rang and the rest of the class quickly filed out.
"You've only seen it thousands of times."
"Fuck you! No one cares about the moon or whatever bullshit, it's dumb. And your superstitions are dumb."
"Ya know, maybe if you paid more attention to things, you wouldn't have so much trouble-"
"Shut the fuck up!" Slick paused. There was the particular smashing sound the windows of the school made upon defenestration coming from not too far away. "Haven't had that happen in a while."
Droog turned the water on and watched blood swirl around the white sink. Next to him, Slick was shifting from foot to foot in excitement, looking exactly like one of those yappy dogs he liked so much. Droog considered saying this aloud, but decided to hold off until Slick's comments made him decide he'd rather be getting punched.
"-don't know what you're so down about, it was just a dumb shirt. Considering you got caught between the bitch and the other bitch that's not bad at all."
"Some of us think more than five seconds into the future. It's never good when those two fight. What do you think is going to happen next?"
"Snowman wins and we're fine. So what if Qing's still mad, she can't do anything."
"Once they're done fighting, Snowman's going to blame me for causing the fight."
"They enjoy it."
"No, you enjoy it. They try to murder each other. And that's on a good day, and this hasn't been one. I'm leaving while the school's still standing."
"If you're so scared of Qing why don't you just avoid the Prospitians instead of fucking with them all the time?"
"And why don't you-" Droog shook his head. "I'm going. If you have any sense you'll leave too."
The janitor opened the supply closet. "Oh. Hey Slick."
"You know," the janitor said, cutting the tape from his hands, "she'd have more trouble doing this if you'd stay out of these closets."
Slick pulled the tape from his mouth. "Ha ha ha," he spat. "She said I must not be getting enough sleep if I was so irritable. What time is it?"
"Fuck." He finished cutting the tape from his legs. "Don't know what her problem is, it's not like she ever sleeps in the first place. 'Irritable.' She's the one who's fucking psycho."
"Try to get tied up in the one by the art room, that's the first one I go to," the janitor suggested helpfully, collecting the mop and getting back to work.