This is that piece I hastily wrote the night it was due which got terrible critiques (by which I mean people in my class are mostly idiots). Anyway the time limit is why the ending is so abrupt and weird, so I apologize in advance. I don't know what I'd have done with three additional pages given the time. not sure if I should simply add on to it or simply forget about it and revise the whole thing since I need 20 for another assignment. At Sai-chan's request, this excerpt is left exactly as I submitted it, but it's definitely getting edited quite a bit in the future. AND YES that title is unimaginative. ORZ
! “What’s wrong with your wings?”
The girl looked up from the ground and found herself looking into the big curious eyes of a teenager whose eyebrows furrowed slightly. His messy hair fluffed up rather like a bird’s might. Is he a cockatoo? She’d been walking along absentmindedly counting the cracks in the sidewalk, and even though someone had called out, “Wait!” she had assumed it was for someone else. Nobody could possibly want to talk to her. From behind she heard the sound of running and several hasty apologies. Then the slap of sandals; she saw briefly that they were brown sandals before they skidded and spun to plant themselves right in her path.
! “What are you talking about?” she said with a slight scowl.
“Your, um, wings?” he said, gesturing behind her vaguely. He took a breath and gave what he hoped was a winning smile. “Are they okay? I mean you ought to, well, not that I’m telling you how to live your life, but that looks painful, unless it’s just a really, really clever fashion statement. Did you do that, or did someone else, because I might be able to look into—”
“I don’t have wings.”
He stopped talking. He stared at her with wide eyes. “But—”
! “Look, I don’t know if this is your idea of a joke, but it’s not particularly funny, alright? I’m going to go to school, and I’d appreciate it if you moved.” He opened his mouth, but then changed his mind. He glanced down. To her chagrin, he didn’t give up and move like she had briefly hoped. Instead he slowly lifted his head and stuck his lower lip out and tilted his head. Oh my god, is he trying to give me puppy eyes? Seriously?
! She stared at him in his lime-green polo shirt with its two silly, dark blue stripes running across the front, sleeves and collar matching, plain blue jeans and all. She didn’t fully know why, but his bright shirt and goofy brown sandals made her want to push him into the nearest bushes. She was unimpressed by whatever it was he was trying to accomplish. He scrunched up his face more as if in great concentration. After half a minute of his weird pouting, she inched slowly around him, unnerved by the way he pivoted to follow her movement yet did nothing else as she started to back away and then turn and go as fast as possible without actually running.
! “Okay cool!” he called after her, half-lifting his arm up to wave. “I’ll see you around!”
“Not likely, weirdo,” she muttered under her breath. She resisted the urge to look back, though she could feel his gaze on her back.Clink! Clink! The boy’s smile vanished. For as she turned to go, he caught a glimpse of something he had hoped not to see. His hair flattened back as though by a breeze of wind.
! When she thought she was far enough away from him, she sped up and ran all the way to school, arriving to class out of breath.
“Hey Sam,” her friend said. “Whoa, what’s up with you?”
“Nothing much,” she replied, dropping her backpack down with a loud thud. “I’ve just got a bad headache.”
“Hmm, you always seem to have headaches. Maybe you should try taking it easy.”
“I can’t take it easy… not with all this stupid homework piling up on me all the time.” Sam started to say more but yawned a few times instead. She rubbed her eyes and started to stare off into space, shoulders hunched over. Her friend thought it best not to say anything more on the matter.
! For the rest of class, Sam ignored the teacher’s lecture, opting instead to stare out the window and scowl. My head freaking hurts. This is all because of that weird guy. What’s his problem anyway? What was that bullshit about wings, anyway? Sam irritably rubbed her aching shoulders. She already wished she could go home. The ticking of the clock at the front of the room seemed to echo loudly in her ears. Before long it drove her mad, like always. It was even worse when she looked around the room and nobody else was distracted by it, as though she were the only one who could hear how loud it was. Sometimes she wondered why she didn’t just get up and walk out the door. Who was going to stop her? ‘Denmark’s a prison’ huh? Yeah, no kidding there, Hamlet. This whole damn school is Denmark. God, this is all so stupid. I just want to go home and sleep. At least maybe my headache might go away.
! Sam tapped her foot silently against the floor while trying her best to massage her shoulders without drawing too much attention to herself. The only somewhat good thing about class was that the teacher never seemed to call on her for anything. She barely pretended to take notes. When at last the class ended, she exhaled and stood up. As she stretched and happened to glance out of the window, she flinched.
The campus had neat strips of grass and hedges. It also so happened that there was a little forest adjacent to the main building. The shrubbery there was more unkempt, but it wasn’t the shrubbery that caught her attention. Even from this distance, she had a clear view to the clumps of bushes. Ignoring her friend she hurried out of the room.
! When she got outside, she stomped on over to the bushes where a highly noticeable tuft of brown was sticking up from behind them. Scowling she grabbed hold of it and mercilessly yanked up.
! “Ow, ow, ow, ow!”
“I knew it was you!” Sam hissed at him. “What the hell are you doing?!”
“Hey, hey, go easy on the hair!” he said with his hands out in protest. She merely tightened her grip and shook him a little.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you stalking me?”
“No, no! Nothing like that, I swear. I’m sorry!”
! “Well, then what is it?!”
“Can I invite you to lunch by chance?” he wheezed, a few tears welling up by now.
Her anger faded momentarily. Whatever she’d been expecting, it wasn’t that. She still didn’t let go of his hair.
“Why would I do that?”
! “I-It’s not like a date or anything weird, I just need to talk to you. W-Would coffee be more appropriate? I should have said ‘coffee,’ shouldn’t I? My friend Karak always said you never want to lead with that, I mean not that I’m leading anything, certainly not you, but I mean coffee is nicer, isn’t it? Or are you more of a smoothie person? I think you could be. I know I am. Actually I don’t even like coffee, so I’m hoping you’re a smoothie person. If not, I’m sure there’s something. Geez, why did I suggest coffee? Sounds silly, eh? I mean why offer something if I don’t even like it myself, aha ha.”
! Sam wasn’t sure how to respond. He evidently took it as a bad sign, so he cleared his throat and said, “Uh, sorry, I should have introduced myself. My name’s Teddy.” He forced a smile through his obvious discomfort and looked at her expectantly.
“Oh, Sam, that’s a lovely name. Sam, do you think, maybe, you could let go of my hair? I always take really good care of it, and I think you’re damaging the roots— ouch.” Sam had suddenly let go. Teddy nearly fell back into the bushes. He straightened up and shook his head. He carefully reached up and began to gently comb through his hair. He repeated the motions a few times, seeming to have forgotten her existence.
! “There, that’s better,” Teddy said after a few moments. Sam couldn’t help staring at the way his hair seemed to fluff up naturally. She could have sworn his hair was moving on its own, but that was impossible. It was just the breeze. Teddy smiled at her, although she noticed he couldn’t stop reaching up with a curled finger to attempt straightening it out.
! “Oh, uh, I know you still have class. Once your math class is over, would you like to join me somewhere? You can pick where. I can wait.”
“Right,” Sam said slowly. “Okay, I’ll think about it. See you.” She turned away and called over her shoulder, “Just don’t lurk in the bushes, idiot.”
“Roger that! I actually prefer trees, as a matter of fact. They’re more comfortable!”
! Sam almost said something back but decided it was probably a waste of breath, and she headed off to class on the second floor. Halfway through class, she suddenly sat up a little and thought, Wait, how did he know I have math class? I never told him that! I wonder if meeting with him is a good idea. He’s a little strange, but maybe he’s not as crazy as he seems. I mean, he seemed pretty earnest.
! It was at this particular moment that she happened to look out the window again. It was fortunate that class had just ended, due to an unscheduled teacher conference, because she leapt up furiously. There were a number of trees that loomed up above the others, and in one of them she could see Teddy hanging upside down on a branch. He waved cheerfully.
! “That idiot!” Sam muttered. “Maybe he’s not crazy? I take that back! He’s nuts!” She nearly fell down the flight of stairs in her haste. She ran out to the line of trees where he was still hanging upside down. “What the hell is the matter with you?!” Sam called out. “Get down from there! What if you fall?”
“Aw, I won’t fall! I’m great at trees.”
“You’ve got five seconds to get your butt down here, or I’m definitely not going to talk with you.”
! “Alright, alright, I’m coming!” Teddy said hastily, and he unhooked his feet, and then let go of the branch. Sam’s eyes widened in alarm, but just as he was about to slam into the ground, he seemed for a moment to slow down, and he floated gently before touching grass. He grinned and trotted over to her.
“Okay! Ready to go?” he asked.
Sam recovered and promptly smacked him on the back of the head.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
“You really are crazy!” Sam yelled. “You could have broken your legs! Don’t surprise me like that, idiot!”
“But I’m fine!”
! “That’s just— I mean, how did you do that? You should have broken your legs.”
Teddy blinked at her. “Are you saying you wish my legs had been broken?”
! “No, of course not, but that wasn’t natural. What you did was inhuman.” Sam crossed her arms and scowled.
Teddy’s gaze softened. “Inhuman?” He scratched his jaw with a finger. “People have told me as much. Well, they’re not wrong, I suppose.” He bowed his head. “I apologize for alarming you, Sam. I forgot myself. I know I’m not supposed to act like this when I’m around hu—most people. It was rude of me. I won’t do it again, I promise.”
Sam continued to frown. His stutter hadn’t escaped her attention. She tapped her foot, and then sighed. “You and I are going to have a conversation about this over lunch. I know a decent place.”
Teddy straightened up. “Really?! That’s great!”
! Sam walked with him a couple blocks to a diner that served hamburgers and shakes. After they had settled at a table near the back, Sam looked him over once again. There were so many questions she wanted to ask. Sam sipped from her glass of soda while she considered how best to proceed.
“So,” Sam said at last. “First of all I want to know what the hell happened back there. Don’t try to hide it from me. You actually floated somehow. Are you a magician?”
! Teddy smiled. “No, not exactly. Hmm, where to start… I don’t think you’re going to like my answer, though. It deals with the intangible aspects of this world. Judging by the way you’ve been reacting, I suppose you don’t see things the way I do. But then again most people don’t either. Actually, it was reckless of me to reveal what I can do when anyone could have witnessed it. In my experience people generally fear what they can’t see…”
“Would you stop beating around the bush?”
“Ah, sorry. Long story short, there are otherworldly dimensions at work here, and I’m able to see the extraplanar aspects of, well, just about anything.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “You really expect me to believe that?”
Teddy smiled brightly. “No.”
! “You still haven’t bothered to try and explain how you were able to float.”
“First, look at that man sitting at the bar. What do you see?”
Sam glanced over. “That guy with the grey beard?”
“Well, he looks like a trucker, and he’s got torn clothes, big muddy boots… a faded hat.”
“Yeah, that’s what you see, and technically you’re correct. You know what I can see? That guy has bull horns and tail. I suspect his boots are big so that he can make room for his hoof feet.”
! “You do see the problem here, right?” Sam said impatiently. “You’re already aware I can’t see that at all. You could be making it up. I need hard proof.”
Teddy sighed. “I guess I can do something, even in this public place. But first let’s talk about you. I know we’ve been skirting that topic, but it’s actually the reason why I noticed you. It’s very troubling to me.”
“What are you, a psychic now?” Sam said.
“Well… yes, actually I am a bit of one.” Ted chuckled. “How did your math class go?”
“Why don’t you tell me, Mr. Psychic,” she fired back.
“Oh, but that’s easy,” Teddy said. “It was awful, just like English class. You do love it, in fact it’s one of the few things you do like, but it feels so exhausting. You’re troubled, Sam. That is why we’re both here. This is why I want to help you, but let’s eat first. I’m famished. Hello, Clara!” He waved at the blond who had served them their drinks earlier.
! “What can I get for you two?” Clara got her notepad ready as Teddy stared in great concentration at the menu. At least he seemed to do so before he suddenly flipped the menu down on the table dramatically.
“Yes, I would like… a pineapple.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Actually make it two pineapples. Sliced, please, but bring the whole pineapple.”
“You want… a whole pineapple?”
“Yes, I’m very fond of pineapples. It’s full of delicious flavor, and it’s good for your immune system. Oh, also eyes. It’s good for your eyes. Good eyesight is important! It helps me see cool stuff, if you know what I mean,” Teddy said, waggling his eyebrows at her. Clara just exchanged a look with Sam as if expecting her to have the answers, but Sam gave a slight shake of the head and made a face.
! “Uh, well, I’m sorry, but we don’t serve pineapples here.”
“What?! No pineapples? That’s crazy! How can you not serve pineapples?!”
“We do have pineapple, but…”
“Well, then what’s the problem?” Teddy cried.
“I can’t just give you a pineapple. It’s not a menu item.”
“Oh man, but why limit yourself to what’s listed on a laminated piece of paper?” Teddy said waving the menu. Sam kicked him under the table. “Ow!”
“He’ll have the pineapple smoothie,” Sam said with a smile. “It’s good that you added that fruit smoothie selection, huh?”
“Okay,” Clara said slowly. “What will you have, miss?”
“I’ll have a cheeseburger, no lettuce, no mayo, and a slice of cheddar cheese.”
“Will that be all?” Clara said, pretending not to see Sam kicking the strange kid under the table or the pained expression on his face with each kick. “It’ll be out in just a bit,” she said, gathering up the menus and walking away quickly.
! “Teddy!” Sam folded her arms. “You have to stop doing this shit. It’s driving me absolutely nuts! Who the fuck orders a goddamn pineapple at a burger diner? Wait, that’s not even the point. Knock it off.”
“But don’t you like delicious flavor?”
“What the hell does this even have to do with that crap you were spouting earlier?”
“I just thought it’d be nice to have lunch before we got down to serious talk. I don’t really like that sort of thing.”
“You have one minute to start liking it, or I’m out of here.”
“Okay, I get it. Listen, you’ve got a dark cloud hanging over you. I don’t mean a metaphorical dark cloud; I mean you actually have one. Well, it’s not technically a cloud, in all fairness to clouds. It’s more like a shadowy sort of mass but not really pitch-black. Even I can barely see it. I’m guessing it has to do with your wings. Listen, I know you have no reason to trust me. But you have to believe me now. I saw a marking. If that’s what I think it is, you’re in some kind of danger, and I need you to let me help you. It’s what I do.”
! Sam pressed her lips together and said, “You know, if you really wanted me to buy the nonsense about dimensions and invisible shit, if it was me, I wouldn’t try to convince someone after acting like a freak. It was nice talking to you, but I really should go.” Sam started to slide out of the booth.
! “Your headaches have gotten worse, haven’t they?” Sam paused. Teddy tilted his head to one side. “Hmm, trapped in a struggle to make it through each second, isn’t that right? Feeling a bit weighed down are we? You sense it, don’t you? Most people would attribute that sensation as just a normal side effect of being tired or unhappy. Well, I suppose that isn’t untrue, but it depends on circumstance. I do know some people who had a different set of symptoms entirely. The bottom line is that it’s not just your imagination. You cannot see what plagues you, but you know I’m right. You’re currently trying to deny everything fantastical on a subconscious level. I would argue it’s not really all that fantastical, but then I suppose I have seen things for a long time now. Although in all honesty your problem looks more serious. I don’t mean to alarm you. I’m surprised because one doesn’t usually come across high-caliber binding spells. Usually the most powerful type of binding magic is an imprisonment spell, which confines an entity to a certain area. If it’s done right, the seals hold together indefinitely. What you have is more of a subduing spell since you’re generally able to move freely on this particular plane. If you allow me to examine the magical properties surrounding your person, I’m sure I will find the locks. And if there is a lock, then must also be a key. Would you like to find the key?”
! Sam slowly sat back down. “What exactly are you proposing?” The playful sparkle in Teddy’s eyes has vanished. Clink! Clink! Teddy ignored her question. He was staring intently behind her. Frowning, he moved his lips silently. Sam suddenly felt a chill. She’d been kicking this guy around without thinking about it, but unease crept over her unbidden. He said he wanted to help, but he could very well be lying about everything. What if there was something else he wanted?
“What are you really after?”
“I’m not after anything, Sam. I can help you, but you have to let me. I know a guy, too. I think I mentioned him to you earlier. His name’s Karak. He’s pretty smart. When I need extra help solving cases, he gives me backup.”
“Cases? I thought… I didn’t realize you had a job. What are you, a detective? A cop?”
! “Aha ha, mmm, maybe that’s not the right word. I don’t solve crime. I’m not talking about that kind of case. Of course, sometimes it does involve criminals, but it’s not really something the police would thank me for doing. I actually prefer to keep my work low key. Clients don’t exactly flock to me. Granted, you find more cases when you travel. I’ve settled here for a little while, and it hasn’t really been very interesting for the most part. It’s always minor stuff. I noticed strange energy patterns in this city awhile back. We’re talking years ago. Then suddenly traces of it vanished. I’m not sure what happened, so I figured why not stay here for a bit and look for clues about the cause. I’ve been slipping in and out of the city, though. After all, when work calls me, I have to leave. Maybe that’s why I never noticed you until now. Your, uh, problem is very weird because even though I’m sitting right across from you, it’s hard to sense anything at all. Someone’s used a type of concealment charm on those chains.”
! “Is this really the place to be talking about this?” Sam said, glancing around.
“Oh, nobody is listening to us. I checked for that already. See?” Teddy said proudly flourishing with a hand. Sam looked at his empty palm. She squinted and leaned forward making a loud, “Hmm,” noise.
Teddy didn’t seem to have picked up on her sarcasm. He had the stupidest grin of pride.
“How many times are we going to go over this shit?” Sam snapped in spite of herself. “What are you holding? If you’re even actually holding anything.”
! “But I thought you’d at least be able to see this fellow! He’s low-level stuff! It doesn’t take a great deal of sight. Did you know cats are able to see these guys? Non-human animals have varying levels of vision. Cats don’t just have crazy night vision. They can also see three planes at once! Neat, huh?”
“Are you saying I’m stupider than a freaking cat?” Sam muttered. Teddy blushed and hastily waved his free hand back and forth. “Oh no, dear Sam, that’s not what I meant! I’m sorry if I’ve upset you. Really, I am! You shouldn’t feel bad if you can’t see much. Here, I can give you goggles to make this easier. I know I put a pair somewhere…” Teddy trailed off as he began to pat his pockets. “Fizzer, no, god, do I still have this? Oh dear, it’s spoiled hasn’t it? Karak is not going to like that. He’s always telling me to clean out my pockets. But you never know what’s going to come in handy, right? Oh, that’s a mouse bomb.”
! Upon seeing the color drain from Sam’s face, he quickly added, “No, it’s not dangerous. I mean, it’s not dangerous to humans or generally anything on this plane. Besides these babies don’t go off until they’re programmed to detonate, and this one is still deactivated. It was actually funny because I was working this case, and this guy says to me, ‘Hey, have I got a deal for you!’ and so of course I had to hear him out. Karak is no fun ‘cause he tried to drag me away. Said I didn’t need any more crap. What a spoilsport! Do me a favor and don’t tell him I still have these, okay? He told me to get rid of them. Like, can you believe he really thought I was going to accidentally set ‘em off while they’re still in my pockets? Please, Karak, that’s what amateurs do! As if I would ever! Sure, there was that one time at the Firefly Festival right in the middle of the ceremony, but come on, it’s not like he’s never used defective merchandise before! He was only mad because his eyebrows got singed off. They didn’t grow back for a few weeks.”
! “You’re not really reassuring!” Sam hissed. “Put… whatever it is away, and if I get third degree burns, I’m suing you!”
“Sam, come on, third degree burns? I mean, at most you’d get a first degree burn, if that. More like… one fourth degree burn. At most it’s a half degree. I guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you.”
“Too late for that, seeing as I’ve met you,” Sam said without thinking. As the words escaped her lips, Sam couldn’t help feel a sting of guilt. Teddy became still. He glanced down at the table. That really wasn’t necessary, was it? I’m definitely being rude. Sam, you should watch what you say. This guy still seems shifty, but if you make him mad, maybe he really will set off a bomb. I should apologize, anyway.
“I’m sorry, that was a bit much,” Sam managed to say. “Okay, so just don’t give me that sad puppy look. Alright?”
! “I really do mean it,” Ted whispered. “I want to keep you safe if I can.”
“Why do that for some you’ve only just met?”
“I told you I solve cases. It’s part of my job to care for people. I don’t know if I would have been able to solve half these cases if I didn’t. But even though I’ve been doing this for years, people make mistakes. I make mistakes. I haven’t always been the best. I mean, that’s not to say I am the best at anything, but I don’t always get it right. You know there are cases that don’t get solved, too. And there are… complications when things don’t go as one would hope. Even though I help clients, they get mad sometimes because I don’t do things the way they expect me to, and then sometimes the price is too great.”
“Price? You mean like money? You charge your clients? Well I guess that makes sense though if it’s your job…”
Teddy looked up at Sam and shook his head. He opened his mouth, but he was interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps. The two of them glanced up as Clara arrived with their food.
! “One cheddar burger, no mayo, no lettuce,” Clara said, sliding the platter in front of Sam. She paused and said with extra politeness, “And two pineapple smoothies, which I can only hope is to your liking. Enjoy it.”
“I will!” Ted said. “Thanks Clara. Now are you sure that you used 100% of—”
“Yes,” Clara said. “That is the entire pineapple.” Before he could say anything more, Clara turned on her heel and swiftly walked away, her high heels clicking loudly on the worn wooden floorboards.
“Teddy, what is the deal with you and pineapples? Do you do this at every restaurant you go to? How do you function?”
“But pineapples are full of so much delicious flavor!” Ted barely got the words out before he was slurping away at the slush drink in front of him. “Mm, mm,” Teddy grinned. “Mmph, mm! Mm—”
“Why don’t you finish that smoothie before trying to talk?”
! “Geez, I’m starting to wonder if you live off of anything else. It’s all you ever talk about at any rate.”
Sam turned her attention to the burger in front of her. Why do they always put this many pickles on the plate? Who eats this many pickles in a burger? Sam thought. She glanced at Teddy who had his eyes closed blissfully. Whoa, that glass is half empty! Sam thought. What in the hell is he? She was about halfway done with her burger when Teddy reached the bottom of his first glass. Sam’s eye twitched as he began slurping loudly on the dregs of pineapple. Glancing out of the corner of her eye, Sam realized everyone else in the diner was turning around to stare. Whispers and giggles rippled through the diner, and a few people got up to leave, shooting dirty looks their way. Sam sighed. She was beginning to realize that there was probably nowhere on earth she could go with Teddy in public where he wouldn’t draw attention to himself. The real mystery here is how I never noticed him before. A strange guy like this ought to stand out like the fourth Indiana Jones movie. God, that was a terrible movie.
I wonder if Teddy likes pickles. Maybe he’d stop with the damn slurping at least!
! “Ahem! Uh ,Teddy?” Sam said tentatively. The slurping continued. “TEDDY!” Sam raised her voice, balled up a napkin, and threw it at his head. She missed, but it was enough to get his attention.
“Teddy. Put down the glass please.”
“Put down the glass. Now.”
Teddy pulled his nose out of the glass, slowly set it down on the table and slid it forward.
“Clean your face, Teddy.” Sam yanked out of a sheaf of napkins and chucked them in his direction. Startled, Teddy frantically tried to grab all of the napkins. In his haste to grab the napkins, however, he cracked his knuckles on the edge of the table as he lifted his hand. Half-swearing under his breath, he still attempted to snatch all of them as they fluttered everywhere like a maelstrom. He leaned and caught one that fell off the table. He scrubbed at his face.
“That’s a bit better,” Sam said, surveying the mountain of used napkins. “I guess.”
“You like pickles, Teddy?”
“I said, do you like pickles?”
“I’m not really sure. Isn’t it salty? I don’t like salty foods in large quantities. Karak said they’re not good for us, either. I never bothered to try one.”
“Well, now I don’t know what to do with these pickles. They always give me too much.”
! “I see you’re done with your food. Would you like to leave? I want to show you to Karak. He’ll probably be thrilled to meet you.”
“I don’t know if I want to meet him just yet, but I would like to leave this restaurant. You have been embarrassing since you walked in here. I don’t mean to be rude, but do you ever actually go out in public and behave normally?”
“Of course I do!” At this, Sam raised an eyebrow. “Oi, I know what you’re thinking! How can a guy like me walk around in public? I can totally be a ninja!”
“Let’s just take a walk somewhere as far away from the public eye as soon as possible. People are going to think I’m crazy too.”
Some minutes later after Teddy had paid the bill with his oddly blue-stained cash, the two of them wandered down the sidewalk in the direction of a park. Sam ran her hands through her short black hair. Although she couldn’t explain it, being with Teddy made her feel as though someone was watching her.
“So Teddy, what was that you mentioned earlier about clients paying a price?”
! “Ah, that. It’s true that I make a living off of my cases, but it’s not exactly like I get paid with money. Heck, sometimes I don’t get any payment. I tend to work for free. People giving me stuff for services rendered is usually their own choice. Some of the trickier cases require payment in advance, but that’s not the same as being given currency.”
“Wait, then how’d you pay for the bill at the restaurant?”
“I may have borrowed from Karak’s wallet when he wasn’t looking.”
“What?! You stole your own friend’s money?”
“Hey, hey, hey, ‘stole’ is such a strong word. I like to think of it as unwitting donations of money for a friend in need.”
“Huh. If that’s the case, then you won’t mind, surely, if I just tell your friend.”
“I’ll buy you a pineapple!”
“Oookay. Forget it for now. About my case… Are you… I mean, will I have to… pay?”
“I’m perfectly willing to work for free. In your case it shouldn’t cost anything. If I may be honest I don’t know quite what we’re working with here. It’s going to be hell though.”
! “Fine. Then I’ll commission you to solve my case.” Sam smiled at him. “If you mess up, I’m going to kick your ass.”