"Aah, it's payday," a teacher –he was one of the science teachers, wasn't he?- sighed, a wide grin on his face. He looked up and saw M-21 standing at the door of the staff lounge. "What're you going to spend your money on?"
He blinked, surprised at the question. They were getting paid today? He hadn't known there was a specific day for that – and, what was he going to spend his money on? "I…don't know."
"Heh," the other man chuckled. "Really? You-" He cut himself short when he noticed the time. "Damn, have to go."
So did M-21; he had only gone there on his rounds. He left the teacher –shouldn't he have memorised all their names and be able to place them to faces by now?- to go wherever he was supposed to go and continued on with his work.
But the question settled in his mind, not leaving him alone. He had an income that wasn't tied to the dealings of the union - what was he going to do with it?
Maybe he shouldn't have tried to find out, M-21 thought later as he weaved his way through the morass of people who seemed to have the same goal as him, if his ears were to be believed.
He had spent the day wondering what exactly he could buy, and nothing had come to mind. He'd… never had to think about this. The union paid for everything: his clothes, his lodgings, his food, and his communications. If there was any money left after a mission, they were sometimes allowed to keep it, but the money was usually calculated precisely to not leave that much change. What else did he need?
But before he got ahead of himself, he should probably find out just how much he actually had to spend.
When he checked the amount of money that was sitting in his newly created account he froze and quickly scanned for anyone who was close enough to see. There wasn't anyone near him – he'd made sure of it out of habit.
But… This was too much. He'd never – he'd never owned this much in the time that he could remember. There had to be a mistake; this couldn't be what he was going to be paid on a regular basis.
He would inform Frankenstein as soon as he arrived home, and if he did spend more than he actually had, he'd have it taken out of his next payment.
He hadn't thought it would be this hard. There was so much choice, so many different varieties of everything, yet… he wanted none of them. He didn't need any of them – he didn't buy food for home, he had no need nor want to buy alcohol or cigarettes, and he definitely didn't need the latest PC or laptop. His current mobile was good enough; he had two numbers saved, and he only used it to call, nothing else. Even clothes were disinteresting to him. The designs were too flashy, too loud, too attention grabbing.
In the end, he bought what he was most comfortable with: shirts and smart trousers.
The house was quiet when M-21 returned home. Frankenstein was sitting on the couch, a sheaf of papers in his hand. He looked up at him as soon as he entered the room and smiled warmly at him.
"Did you have fun?"
He looked away before approaching him. "I need to talk to you about that." He sat down, his whole body stiff.
"Oh?" Frankenstein put the papers down, and removed his glasses.
"I think I was paid too much."
Frankenstein frowned, his glasses moving in little circles. "I was sure it was correct – may I see your payslip?"
M-21 stared blankly at him.
"It was in your pigeonhole."
"Ah." Frankenstein raised a hand to his forehead as he closed his eyes and sighed. "My apologies for my oversight; I'll show you it next time."
At that point, Rai came back with his school friends – M-21 was surprised he hadn't heard them approach with the amount of noise they were making but one thing was certain: he didn't want to be in the room with Frankenstein concealing his twitches the way he was.
"This is your pigeonhole."
M-21 studied it. It was a small box surrounded by other boxes, each with a name under it, mostly papers stuffed inside them. The box that Frankenstein had indicated was labelled with the name he was registered as at the bank.
"And this is your payslip," Frankenstein added with a flourish, handing something to him.
He opened it carefully, not sure what to expect.
"Oh." Frankenstein's face had fallen as he peered at the numbers on the paper.
Ha. He knew it. He'd been paid-
"I left out a zero."