Rosso the Crimson had witnessed many odd and disturbing things in Deepground, but the sight of her commander and Emperor, Weiss the Immaculate, giggling in front of a computer monitor nearly broke her nerve. Still, she had been summoned, and Rosso the Crimson, scourge of Deepground, was not one to disobey a direct order. She cleared her throat, straightened her spine, and strode forward, ignoring the way her hackles twitched as Weiss snorted with laughter.
"You called for me, my lord?"
Weiss wiped a hand across his eyes and nodded. "Yes, I need you to help settle a dispute."
Rosso tilted her head a little, not yet able to put his words and his actions together in anything approaching a meaningful manner. "What sort of dispute?"
"Shelke found a very…interesting site on the internet," Weiss stated, trying hard not to chuckle. "And after much careful study, Azul and I are at an impasse. Shelke refuses to be the tiebreaker, and Nero thinks we're nuts for even bothering. Can't get anything useful out of Argento, so that leaves you."
Rosso scowled at him. "If Nero thinks it's crazy…"
Weiss smirked, tried to disguise the following laugh as a cough, failed. "Just humor me? Please?" His amber-and-turquoise eyes sparkled like sunbeams in summer.
When Weiss the Immaculate gave you that look, you didn't say no, even if you were the sort to drown children or steal candy from kittens. Rosso heaved a sigh and waved a hand in gracious defeat. "Very well, my lord. What is this dispute, and must I agree with you on principle?"
"No, no, I want your honest opinion," Weiss replied happily as he picked up a sheet of paper and handed it to her. "Here, just read this. Out loud, if you please."
Rosso skimmed the words dubiously; this was starting to sound more like a point of curiosity than any real issue, but if it was important to Weiss… Slowly she began to read, stumbling a little over the odd spellings. "Hello , how are ve goink to steal car vrom mooose ent sqvirrel?" Rosso glared over the top of the page. "Veiss, vat in ze hell iz dis – what in the hell is this all about?"
For his part, Weiss had slid out of his chair to flop bonelessly to the floor, which he pounded with one fist while he laughed himself silly.
Rosso's eyes narrowed to the I-WILL-kill-you-now setting and flashed. "Weiss…"
"There was this movie," Weiss gasped, crawling back into his seat, "based on this cartoon show. The movie was awful, from everything I could find, but this one character…" He paused to wipe his eyes again, then his nose as yet more mirth bubbled out. "She was played by an actress named Russo, and Azul thought they may have mistyped it. I tried to tell him that this was in the ancient past, there's no way it could have been you, but then we listened to her voice, and…"
"I do not haff an akcent!" Rosso snarled, but the angrier she got, the more her tone degraded. "Azool – asshole more like eet! Ent you, meester high ent mighty –"
Weiss howled with laughter.
"Shtopp laffink at me!"
"Okay, okay, I'm stopping, see?" Weiss made a placating gesture with his hands, though it would have been more effective if he hadn't still been giggling. "Damn, Rosso, if I'd known how easy it was to get you going like that, I would have tried sooner!"
Rosso gathered her dignity, rolled up the paper, and whacked Weiss across the chops with it.
Faster than she could follow, Weiss reached up and grabbed her wrist. He stood slowly, rising to tower above her, and for a moment Rosso wondered if she'd gone too far.
Then he smiled. Not the warm, encouraging smile, but something a tad bit creepy. "This can be our little secret," he told her. "I actually like the way you sound when you're furious. It's kind of sexy."
Rosso blinked, nonplussed. "Vhat?"
"Just do me a favor," Weiss purred, his tone dripping with innuendo. "When we're alone, call me Fearless Leader."
Weiss came to about five minutes later to find Rosso gone and Nero sitting at his computer console. "What…?"
Nero shook his head. "We've got to work on that poker face of yours, brother. She'd have bought it if you hadn't been laughing with your eyes."
"You saw that?"
Nero turned a half-pitying look on his brother – that, or a look of absolute hilarity. Hard to tell with the mask. "Of course I saw it. I had a wager on the outcome – I really didn't believe she'd deck you, though."
Weiss stared at his brother and tried to think of something to say. Finally he blurted out, "I thought you thought this whole thing was stupid!"
Nero's eyes sparkled with mischief. "Really, Weiss, who did you think showed Shelke the movie in the first place?"