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Nine in the Afternoon

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It was that disconcerting hour at four in the morning, where only the degenerates and the red-eyed workers were about, passing by each other like distant shadows in the burnt out street lamps. The night wasn't chilly but in the wake of blazing afternoon heat still felt cool, and the humid weight lay comfortably close like a lover.

The grocery store was one of the many open twenty-four hours a day and the workers were clearly paying the price, slow and movements deliberate, the odd few strangely energetic. Allen selected a cart from a uniform line of them and pulled it out.

Behind him Kanda folded his arms and tried for his worst scowl. "Why the fuck are we here?"

"Because," Allen said patiently, righting the cart on it's squeaky wheels to face forward. Before he could even push it an inch forward Kanda yanked it from his hands and shoved it back in place, moving a line over to grab another cart. This one wasn't squeaky, and Allen wondered if he knew somehow or if it was plain luck. "Because," he began again, grasping the side of the cart. "You said we ran out of coffee creamer last night and I just now remembered and I need it for work-"

"First of all, what the hell are you doing?" Kanda demanded, steadying the cart as Allen hoisted himself over its side. 

"What does it look like, idiot? I'm getting in the cart."

Kanda had the look of man who wished he'd never been born and made all the life decisions that had somehow led him to be standing in an empty creepy supermarket at four in the morning with an idiot climbing into a cart clearly waiting to be pushed by Kanda.

"Get out."

"No!" Allen whined, settling comfortably. "I'm tired. You can go back to sleep for five more hours but after this I have to go to work. Let me sit. Anyways, you're strong enough to push me, aren't you?"

"Tch. Second of all, why couldn't you just go buy a goddamn cup of coffee at Starbucks or McDonald's like any other normal person?" Allen was right. It was easy for Kanda to push the cart around with him in it. He made it past the registers, sending a death glare to anyone who looked even close to protesting the abuse of their shopping carts, and pushed Allen towards the aisles. 

"Because," Allen sniffed. "I have standards. Well, admittedly McDonald's isn't that bad, but Starbucks is death. Their teas, on the other hand, are delicious."

"Just shut up," Kanda said, squinting to see through the pale glare of the overhead lights. Shit, why was this place so damn creepy? The floor was cement and the aisles stood rickety and dangerously, loaded to the brim with foodstuffs. At the top of them were sealed crates of food waiting to be opened and stocked on the lower shelves. "Where the hell is the coffee aisle?"

Allen hummed. "There! Go down three more aisles."

Kanda was barely past the second one when Allen coo-ed excitedly. "Ooh wait wait! Stop, go down that aisle! We need cereal!"

"No, we don't," Kanda said bluntly and Allen thrashed against the side of the cart, forcing it to turn. "Hey, stop that!"

"Don't you need granola bars, too? Look! They have your favorite brand!" Allen pointed down the aisle and Kanda followed it to see that, well, they did have them. And those were so hard to find, too....

He groaned and turned the cart down the aisle, grabbing the cereal Allen eagerly demanded for as he passed. Allen hugged it to his chest and Kanda snorted. "You're just small enough to fit inside the cart like a little kid, huh?" He poked at Allen's head, pushing it forward lightly.

Allen scowled and rubbed at the back of his head, tilting it backwards to glare properly at Kanda. He sat on his bottom with his legs pulled up, knees almost to his chest to fit in the cart properly. 

"You're just jealous you can't sit in here and be pushed around," Allen said snidely, and Kanda leveled the cart with a look. He probably could fit in there, but it'd hurt like a bitch and leave his knees cramping, so, no,

"I don't want to be pushed around like some three year old," Kanda said, pulling the cart to a stop and surveying the selection of granola bars. So many choices... He moved to the side of the cart to look closer at some of the boxes, squinting. Why was it so bright in this store? Or maybe he was just that sleep deprived.

"Oh my God, you take forever," Allen whined, and Kanda retaliated by shoving his hip hard against the cart, knocking Allen sideways. He banged his head on the top of the cart and groaned, and Kanda snorted in amusement. "You ass."

"I don't care," he announced, grabbing a box and tossing it to Allen, who caught it easily.

"Might as well get two, you'll get through these in a week."

"Hmm," Kanda deliberated a moment on that before grabbing another and tossing that one to Allen too. He pushed the cart forward again as Allen rearranged their food around him, still holding the cereal to his chest. There were goosebumps on the back of his neck, and Kanda rubbed at it roughly with his knuckles.

"Ow, ow, ow!"

"Shut up," Kanda said, turning out of the aisle and down the next one. "Go find your coffee."

"God, you're so unreasonable this early in the morning," Allen complained, rubbing his nape ruefully. Still, he obediently searched for it, craning his neck around. "Ah! There! Hmm do they have the exact one though... and by the way, it was coffee creamer."

"Shut up," Kanda groaned, rubbing his temple. "Just pick the goddamn creamer."

Allen tutted before pointing at a brand of creamer, a tall plastic bottle. Kanda reached for it only to have his head unceremoniously yanked back by his hair. "No, no! The one next to it! Fat-free!"

Kanda grabbed it and whirled around, slamming it into Allen's forehead. "Pull my goddamn hair again and I'll make you regret it," he hissed.

Allen whimpered lightly and then managed a leering grin. "You've never complained before."

"Shut up. You're unbearable."

Allen hummed an affirmative, tucking the creamer in next to his cereal. "Onwards, my steed!"

Kanda had just started pushing the cart. He stopped short, pulled back roughly, and then shoved forward hard, the momentum sending Allen forward and crashing into the front of the cart, bruising his face in the caging. "Say that shit again!"

"Oh, goddamn," Allen groaned, settling back and covering his face with his hands. "Let's just go, shit, I've gotten hurt more times this hour alone than I have all week!"

Kanda huffed a dry laugh before steering the cart towards the front of the store.