Adjust glasses. A glance at Goody. She’s shooting at something. Anything. Well, he is unsure at what or why, above all, since there has not been a single crime committed in this town for the past three, and a hundred, years.
Many were attempted, perhaps… The King just tried to smoke the other day, but thankfully Goody was nearby and intervened in time. Then, once, a few years ago, the Princess pulled the Prince’s hair. (And he screamed.) Thankfully, even then, Goody was closeby again, and prevented the chaos, before it could even be unleashed. Hair pulling is illegal around here. And for a good reason!
Jacket in order. Another glance at Goody. She’s doing squats now, one, two, three, four, five. Even though nobody, ever, at the Police Department does, because there is no need to be strong, because crime is illegal … and, of course, in this town, nothing illegal has happened in the past three, and a hundred, years. Real crime. The sort he could not even begin to imagine. Rifles, and raids, and demise.
Trousers straightened. One last glance at Goody.
“Oh, Goody, not again!”
She’s doing push-ups now, even though she has no reason for it. Nobody, ever, at the Police Department does it because there is no need to be strong, because crime is, once again, illegal. They are supposed to be fighting crime alright, but why would anyone on Earth do anything that was illegal? They were not raised that way…
Pocky, too, was told from early childhood to eat his vegetables and to make his bed every morning and he turned out just fine…! Better than fine: Good. Which is all thanks to his best friend, Goody, who, having not had enough of being a good kid, wanted to continue on being the best adult. The bestest police officer. Pocky really did not know what exactly he wanted to be, but he surely wanted to be something Goody would finally take notice of.
Little did he understand when they applied to the police academy, that he could follow in Goody’s footsteps as much as he likes, she will never look behind her shoulder for a second… And what she cannot see, she will not notice. Even so, the only thing a little annoying about following Goody was the mere fact that Pocky knew he was of absolutely no use. He was painfully useless, so to say. Completely, vehemently irrelevant. At all times!
If the world was somehow about to plunge into a great darkness, and villains would be swarming the streets of their town, all Pocky could do was root for the goods from the side, and watch Goody beat the rascals up one by one. He cannot even speak a foreign language. To ask them what they want. (Provided that all their actions wouldn’t speak for themselves.)
So… he is useless. But at least he is useless in a situation where he does not even have a purpose. And if Goody ever really thought of a moment of rest, or of giving him a job, anything, literally anything… Pocky would be here to do it. Really. Even if this was about the world ending, and he would need to be brave and strong at the same time. Although both, even separately, give him a hard time, normally.
He is a good kid, and so he is not really mad that Goody does not notice him at all. Sad? Perhaps. But sad is illegal, anger too, and we don’t talk about the Moon.
A look at the sky: what horrors could hide behind that blue and the white of the clouds? We still don’t talk about it. About the bad people, who were sent there. Villains, scoundrels, rascals … Doing all sort of illegal things. (Like crime!)
They are probably very ugly, too. Wearing rough leather and dark colours… No pastels. They surely smell bad. Smoking is prohibited on Earth, but in exchange, the Moon must be a collection of stinky terrors, including cigarettes, and who knows what else! Pocky was always told not to think about it too much, so he tries to comply with that order. Every now and then, he slips for a moment.
But, he never thinks of those villains for too long, and so, when it is finally time, and the moment comes with Baddy's arrival, he has no idea how to respond. Apart from, of course, parroting Goody.
“That’s right! Smoking is prohibited here! If you smoke, you won’t go to heaven!”
“Heaven? Stop fucking around.”
Stop w… Swearing is prohibited on Earth. Pocky’s jaw drops straight to the ground. But he has no time to collect it!
His jaw remains on the ground for the rest of the day, finding him in different stages of mortification. Thankfully, the Earth is a clean planet, otherwise, it would be trouble, dragging his jaw behind him in the filth all the time.
A small velvet something smokes him straight in the eye. (Ah… it’s a person. Looks alarmingly a lot like a person, at least.) Pocky cannot see properly from his tears. He’s not crying, but the smoke is difficult. Also, he has never seen anyone blonder or sweeter than Goody before until now…
Wait a minute.
“Smoking is prohibited on Earth…” he tries to say, but only the first part of the sentence comes out of his mouth intelligibly. The rest is swallowed by another poof of smoke. He takes a deep breath – not a good idea – and attempts to continue. “If you carry on this way, I will have to arrest you.”
“Oh, arrest me then. Go on.”
The someone hops out of his vicinity even before Pocky could find his handcuffs or grab his arm. He laughs at the rather pathetic attempt at making an arrest, beckoning Pocky to come at him one more time. Then, he does it again, and again, and again.
“What did you say? What was your name?”
He plays with his glasses before he would snatch them off his nose and blow some more smoke into his eyes. God. No! Prohibited. Not good. Bad. Illegal.
“So will you tell me, or?”
Right. Rip the glasses out of the stranger’s hands. Put them right back in place. Adjust glasses. Cough. Cough. Deep breath.
“Police Officer Pocky. And if you carry on this way…”
“I know, I know. I heard you the first time. You will arrest me,” the stranger finishes, stifling a yawn. What was his name again? Oh, he said something when he got off that spaceship… Pocky should have paid more attention to it.
“Maybe I won’t, but Goody will. And Goody is a force to be reckoned with. She is not as forgiving as I am.”
The villain continues pestering him without much consideration as if his words would have no effect on him at all.
“Do you speak this language?!” Pocky does not speak any other, so he is in trouble … “I said she is not half as forgiving as I am.”
“Forgiving, forgiving. I’m also not really… ah!” Something is in the making between Goody and Baddy, and none of them seems to like the outcome too much. At least they can agree on this. “Get out of the way.”
He shoves Pocky away, and dashes towards the odd pair of villain and hero. Quite desperately.
Pocky adjusts his glasses again.
And thank God he adjusted his glasses! Or, well, it’s a curse that he did. He has never seen two men kiss before in public. In fact, he does not think he saw anyone kiss anyone before in public. It’s not illegal, per se, but it is so close to it, it might as well be. It’s also rude, unnecessary, and obscene.
Pocky stares for a while until his glasses get steamy, and he comes to himself. (And also, he cannot really see anymore.) Just what are these people thinking… What on earth. What on earth! Not just in public, not just two men, but two villains from the Moon all the same… His head gets dizzy. The next thing he knows is that he does not, in fact, know.
“Undercover investigation,” Goody says.
They’ve never done that before. They barely investigated anything at all. And to do all that undercover on top of it! Well, that is just way too much for him. Goody repeats herself.
“Undercover investigation. Baddy and his assorted rascals were spotted in the Blue Lagoon, having fun.” She cocks her gun, then gives a pointed look to Pocky. “And no fun is allowed.”
“I thought Earth was a fun pl…”
“No fun is allowed.” Pocky nods rapidly in agreement because he is unsure what else to do. No fun. No fun, just pastels. “You, Police Officer Pocky, will be a lobster. Undercover.”
“But I don’t want to be a lobster.”
“You will be a lobster alright!”
She screams. He shakes and adjusts his glasses a little. It has been decided already, then. A lobster.
At the end of the day, he never thought princes could freely dress up as lobsters as well, to clown around at expensive restaurants, pretending to be a meal to eat in. Or take away. (The Prince is incredibly bored, however. He could probably kill for some entertainment if only murder was not illegal!) He also did not know that lobsters were special targets of villains, for the purposes of abduction.
And if it was the Prince, Pocky would surely understand. Even barbarians from the Moon are supposed to understand the value of royalty. Clearly, they do not, because the one they take is Pocky, his massive lobster hat and wide-framed glasses.
“They” he says, although it is Baddy’s choice and Baddy’s choice only. (It might have to do something with Pocky trying to prevent a certain kiss from happening, whatsoever, but he could not say it for sure… It can be anything else. Pocky does not understand what goes on in the heads of cool people of Baddy’s calibre.)
It takes a while until he can make any other sound than screaming and useless whimpering, but they get there, slowly. Once Pocky accepts that now he is a villain’s hostage, and in none other but itchy red tights, as well. Thankfully, Baddy does not really try to hurt him, or kill him. He only talks.
“You’re Goody’s man, yeah?”
He makes a proud lobster face. Seeing that, Baddy quickly corrects himself.
“Well, not her man, but you do whatever she tells you, right.”
He makes a sad lobster face.
“That’s right,” he answers, keeping his eyes on the ground. (The lobster headdress is really heavy, so there is a chance he will fall straight on his face any time now.)
“You like her?” A sheepish shrug. An innocent, and quick adjustment to his glasses. Baddy understands. Or, he thinks he understands. “I guess I can’t blame you.”
“Goody only cares about doing good, so don’t even think about it.”
“Think about what?” After a second, Baddy laughs, knowingly. Then, he brings Pocky closer to himself by the shoulder. “I think Goody likes naughty, sleazy men just a little more than she would like to admit. Which is why she won’t look in your way, yeah?”
Pocky puckers his lips up. She doesn’t look his way because he always follows after her, and she has no time to look behind. It’s nothing personal. Maybe a little personal.
“But worry not. I’ll do you a favour. You seem like a lovely lobster. My Sweetheart can give you a lesson or two on how to be just a tiny bit more …”
“More…?” Eyes pop, teeth showing in a hopeful grin.
He doesn’t even say cool, or charming, or, dare Pocky think, attractive. Just acceptable. That’s it. He ducks his head, defeated. It feels quite pathetic, almost like a rejection.
“Oi Sweetheart! I have something for you…”
Pocky goes from Baddy’s hands into another like he was some sort of a gift to exchange. His lobster hat feels incredibly heavy, but for a moment he even forgets about it. Sweetheart doesn’t.
“Is this the something?” He tries to avoid looking at him, even and bares his teeth in a disgusted grimace. “I don’t want it.”
“But it is. A sad lobster, in love. Needs your help.”
Pocky stands in his way, one, two, three times. Smiles. Hello, Sweetheart. Sweetheart tries to find an escape route on both of his sides, and probably considers fleeing between his legs, too.
“God that’s none of my business.”
“It should be,” Baddy thinks.
“Teach me the method of Cool,” Pocky adds, adjusting his glasses as he pleads.
Sweetheart smiles, finally, but it seems like he is in pain. He drops his shoulders and takes a deep breath before finally giving in – presumably because Baddy wants him to give in, after all.
“Okay, very well. Be it. First. Drop the lobster act.”
“This is not a lobster act…” He takes the headdress off anyway, and tries to fix his hair. “It’s just me.”
“Whichever it is, don’t do it anymore.”
Even though he is supposed to teach Pocky, he has already strayed away from him by the time Pocky's hair is in a nice slope again, clearly occupied with other, more interesting people. Pocky adjusts his glasses.
“Should I take these off?” he asks. Then, he adds when Sweetheart does not seem to be looking. “The glasses.”
“Why would you. Glasses are not uncool.” A look behind his shoulder. “Maybe in this specific colour they are but … Do you need them to see?”
Sweetheart tilts his head.
“I find it very attractive in a man when he can actually see.”
Ah… that’s good to know. Pocky ducks his head between his shoulders and clasps his hands in front of himself. Great. Glasses are attractive, after all. He always knew. He always suspected. But he couldn't be entirely, a hundred percent sure about it until now.
“Now stop doing that,” Sweetheart scolds him. “Let’s dance.”
He already opens his arms to receive Sweetheart, but the man simply turns away and shoves someone else in his arms, to pursue his own interests. An old lady… A resident. They knew each other from before. At least Pocky knows her, from patrol.
“My, have you not done this before,” she complains about three seconds into the act, and arranges his arms around her, paying no mind to the fact that Pocky is looking everywhere but at her.
Where did Sweetheart go? What is he doing? How will he become a cool, charming, attractive man if there is nobody to instruct him at all? The lady does instruct him, quite enthusiastically, but it is unwanted. What does she know about being attractive, after all. Sweetheart, on the other hand…
Maybe he should get a velvet suit. Do they make pastel blue in velvet? Is pastel blue a charming colour, at all? He doesn’t want to change it, but he should ask about this later. If he is about to be acceptable, cool, and possibly bad too, he should go all the way.
That whole bit about the villains from the Moon wearing leather and smelling bad was a huge miss on his part, was it not. When Sweetheart is not in his pink velvet, Baddy wears bold pink with floral patterns. It is hardly savage-like, Pocky has to note. Quite outlandish, for sure, but isn’t the Moon just a little far out anyway?
The lesson ends with Pocky being abruptly smacked in the face, then being called a pervert. Which he is most definitely not. Is he? He was not, the last time he checked. God, when was the last time he checked… Was it before Baddy and Sweetheart started to kiss, or was it after?
Then the feat continues.
“Armed robbery!” Baddy exclaims.
He stands there as he watches the rest of the villains pick their weapons of choice and adjusts his glasses. That definitely looks illegal.
“Have you even held any weapons before?” Sweetheart asks as he pulls up next to him, his voice dripping with doubt.
Pocky imitates a gun with his fingers on the right hand.
“Well, I am a police officer, after all.” Then, he looks at their shotguns and makes a face. “Not those, no. I don’t think I can even…”
“Well, you must.” He nods towards the rest of the baddies. “Watch us first.”
“Is that alright?” Pocky asks in a thin voice. “I really don’t need to take a part in this.”
“Do you want to be cool, or do you not?”
Well, he does want to be cool. And he does want to do something, at least a tiny little thing that will make him more useful for Goody. Even if it seems like an impossible wall to climb for now. Baby steps, right. Maybe he needs to learn how to be bad, in order to understand how to fight bad...
So, his takeaway from half a day is that Sweetheart looks the sweetest he has ever seen (he is still unsure if this is where he got the name, or if it all comes from the fact that he is … well … Baddy’s sweetheart, apparently); smells the loveliest he has ever smelled even if his scent is clearly mixed with cigarette smoke; has no trouble swooning the ladies, or the gentlemen for that matter; and can and will work a gun whenever he needs. And that’s only half a day spent as a villain. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. On this once Peaceful Planet Earth.
The afternoon ends with Pocky being seized and if it was not for Baddy, he would have probably never been set free again either. It seems like he really was the only useless addition to the town’s police department.
“This is going horribly,” he confesses with a cry, dropping his shoulders, as they walk away. “I am a useless police officer, and I am no better when it comes to being cool.”
Baddy nods, which already indicates nothing good. Even without a cigarette between his lips, or the dark sunglasses on his nose, there is something effortlessly cool about him, and he cannot quite put his finger on it. But he must copy it. Perhaps it is not really about what he is wearing, after all. If Pocky wore floral print, he would look like some decadent wallpaper at an old family home.
“Maybe we should have started with something simpler…” Baddy thinks for a while. “Like counterfeit passports.”
Then, he changes his mind about it two hours into the lesson, when half of his followers are either already asleep, or struggling to keep their eyes open as they make a futile attempt to imitate a real passport. Sweetheart, sitting right next to Pocky is clearly a lot more occupied with filing his nails than with the actual task at hand. Finally, something he is possibly not perfect at. Or perhaps he has already finished ten years ago.
“Alright, this was a boring idea wasn’t it. Over!” Baddy decides, and his followers jump up immediately, in celebration, eager to do something a lot worse, and a lot more fun.
Pocky only has time to blink. Done already?
“Wait a minute,” Sweetheart says, and picks his passport up, to look at it from closer. His voice comes out thin, almost startled. “This is just like the real thing.”
He did something … not entirely useless? Sweetheart holds his hand. No, he means, Sweetheart shakes his hand! After, well, after he offers his hand to him. (It is very, unexpectedly, soft. Villains don’t have soft hands.) Baddy gives him a high five and laps his back a few times.
“See, you could make a career out of that,” he thinks, and somehow, even though he cannot really tell the exact reason, it feels good.
He did well in something. For one time, he was not following in anyone’s footsteps, and even so, he succeeded. In being bad, and cool, above all.
“Have a drag,” Sweetheart later tells him, offering his own cigarette. Baddy is off somewhere – God knows where. “Counterfeit passports, hm?”
Pocky shrugs. Then, he ends up coughing his lungs out after having tasted the cigarette, eyes welling up with tears. Can he feel menthol, perhaps?
“Baddy thinks I could make a career out of it.” He stares at Sweetheart’s face, who does not seem to be entirely amused. “Boring, is it?”
“It certainly isn’t armed robbery.” He smiles and takes the cigarette back from Pocky, once he realizes that this won’t go well. Maybe he's afraid the man would spit on him, during his next coughing fit. “Let’s practice this, too.”
“Smoking is illegal.”
“You didn’t seem to be caring about it just a few seconds ago.”
Pocky casts his eyes on the ground, but he smiles, transparently.
Sweetheart sticks a new one in his mouth, and he is not met with any resistance, then offers his own cigarette to light it with. “It looks cooler, this way,” he explains.
It does feel cooler that way too, and Pocky thinks for a minute that he should shed his glasses and carry on without them – should he ever do this again, he would not want to accidentally poke Sweetheart in the eye. Just for safety’s sake.
And if he’s here already, it is finally time to be moderately useful and to ask questions. Like a real police officer would. Or at least, this is how he imagines it. (After all, perhaps, he is not so hopeless, in the case of an alien invasion.)
“What sort of a man this Baddy is?” he asks, coughing all the way through the question.
Sweetheart chuckles. It is not a giggle, it is definitely a chuckle. Sweet, and melodic.
“What sort of a man, or what sort of a lover?”
“Mmm… is there a difference? Then, I suppose both.”
Both? That is definitely not what he was meant to say, but there is no way to take his words back now. Sweetheart clicks his tongue and gives him a cheeky look. Then, his expression turns dark.
“Normally, he is dynamic and dangerous. Now, that woman… what’s her face, that Goody of yours, made him go crazy. I don’t like that… He’s running after her like a dog when he should never be the one who is doing the running part. Hm, but if you ask what the real Baddy is like, then surely, dynamic, dangerous, generous, fun.”
Pocky cries his way through the cigarette (it tastes like menthol, which is definitely a shock. He never thought cigarettes could have any other taste than eating an entire fireplace full of ashes) then immediately asks to light a next one. For practice. Not to have Sweetheart’s face up in his.
“Generous, yes, why?”
“I thought he was evil.”
Now, this definitely is a chuckle, then it becomes a little more violent, as Sweetheart’s shoulders are shaking with laughter. He points his finger towards Pocky’s nose but does not poke it.
“He is bad, not evil. There is a difference. Learn it.”
“What is the difference? Isn’t armed robbery evil?”
“Breaking a puppy’s legs is evil. Armed robbery is at worst, bad.” Sweetheart tucks a stray golden lock behind his ear and continues. “We would never hurt a cute animal, just who do you think we are? And besides? How many people did our men shoot of yours? And how many did you shoot of ours?”
Pocky tilts his head. Surely, he remembers one accident clearly: it was something about another robbery, and the villains running with an armful of handbags. One of Goody’s police officers shot a retreating bad, although they never had the chance to catch him.
“We shot at least one.”
“And we shot exactly zero. So much for Peaceful Planet Earth.”
Pocky furrows his brows, but when he tries to scold the man, it ends up sounding ridiculous, given that he is still heavily coughing, and crying, from the cigarette smoke. “Well, for one, Sweetheart, you were the ones who came down to Earth to create a ruckus. You were asking for it, with that behaviour.”
“We just want to have some fun. The bad sort. It’s easy here because everything is illegal. Even tiny things like smoking.”
“Well, cigarette fumes are bad for the environment,” Pocky claims, making the tiniest smoke clouds as he speaks.
“Factories are also bad for the environment, but I can’t see any of those being illegal. I think you just ruled out anything that could be even partially entertaining.” That reminds him of something Goody once said. “Is drinking okay?”
“In moderation. Wait… drinking what exactly? Tea?”
Sweetheart stomps on his cigarette to put it out, annoyed.
“God! Can you tell me again? Were the bad people banished to the Moon, or did the normal ones just decide to bail out in time, when everything went tits up here?”
Pocky makes a face as his cheeks turn redder and redder but he refuses to answer. Thank you very much, he is rather normal, over here. He does not even know what could Sweetheart be possibly talking about. Before he would leave, offended, he throws his cigarette in the bin. Sweetheart tries to stop him, gesturing wildly, but he does not make it in time.
“I will go, make some counterfeit passports,” Pocky announces.
The garbage bin bursts up in flames behind him, once he turned on his heels. It is too embarrassing to look back. Sweetheart, despite expectations, makes a small sound of approval.
Baddy is gone for days but he rarely notices, since he is too busy with the passports. It’s a form of craftsmanship, after all. Or, he likes to think of it as such. Some of Baddy’s men are exquisite at pickpocketing, others can work a gun perfectly and he got forging… It is not the most attractive trade he can think of, but there is no space to pick and choose. At least he finally has something.
He is surprised at first, how many good, law-abiding citizens do want counterfeit goods just because they can get them. Pocky is quite sure that some of these people have real, perfectly functioning passports of their own, and yet, they buy.
Perhaps Sweetheart is right, and people do, genuinely, just enjoy being bad. He surely feels somewhat important, ever since he left the service of Goody, and put his talents to good use. Well. To bad use…
“It’s killing me,” Sweetheart moans. “I’m bored to death. Where is Baddy?”
“He went out.”
Sweetheart flicks through the newly finished passports, one by one. “… last week! And he never came back. I’m telling you, that Goody of yours is making him go all crazy, and I don’t like it one bit.”
As he sits up, he slams the little booklet on the table. He stopped wearing pink a while ago, and now only amuses himself with grey and its several shades. The hairband in his hair is still embellished with many sparkly stones, Pocky assumes they must be diamonds. Perhaps he stole them from somewhere, back on the Moon.
“He used to be bad for the sake of it and didn’t just do it to impress someone else.”
“Is that the problem? That he is trying to be bad for Goody’s sake? Or that he is not bad to entertain you anymore?” Pocky asks, with an innocent blink.
Sweetheart gives him a look, equally murderous and mournful. It’s just a flash of his eyes, and yet Pocky can feel it piercing through his chest and pinning him to the closest wall like he was some poor dead butterfly on display.
“In any case, I’m bored. I want something bigger than this. Something more violent.”
That sounds illegal. Violence. “What do you mean?”
Then he reminds himself that he is making counterfeit goods, after all. That’s also illegal. In fact, the other time when he was caught in the act, Goody gave him a good chase. It almost felt good. No. It definitely felt good. It has never happened before that she would have her eyes on him for so long. Even if he wanted to spit his lungs out halfway through trying to run away from her.
He fiddles with his cigarette case, and answers, words pressed through his teeth. “Something your Goody hasn’t seen yet.”
Pocky opens his mouth, then closes it. There are several things this town, including the Police Department, has not seen. And thus, he cannot even imagine the evils (pardon, the bads) Sweetheart is thinking of right now.
“Like… something with big guns and huge piles of money?” he asks. “More money than we get for my passports? We already had armed robbery, and it didn’t go well.”
Sweetheart’s eyes light up the same time as his cigarette does.
“Have a drag,” he says.
He watches Sweetheart rolling his stocking on from behind the doorframe, half hidden. It's embarrassing. Even though he should be doing the same, it feels like peeking. It’s not often that he would play dress up with anyone. Especially not in preparation of robbing a bank.
They already let Baddy know about it. Well, the robbing a bank part. He did not feel the need to disclose anything about clothes, apart from the dress code being white tie. "Hey, hey, we are going to take over the bank while I am wearing stockings!" seemed like way too much information to give. The whole disguise idea wasn’t his, either, but once again, just like with the lobster, people smarter than him thought that going undercover was for the best.
He is still holding the skirt in one hand, so it wipes the floor and resting the other on the wall next to him. Perhaps if he hugged the wall, it would hide him properly.
He turns his head and looks over his shoulder and buckles his shoes without looking. “What?”
“You’re not a woman, yes?”
Sweetheart laughs. “So?”
He swings a little without realizing, bending his knees, then straightening them up again.
“You’re not a woman, I’m not a woman…” Even if he says that suddenly his voice becomes high and unstable by the end of that sentence.
“Is there something you are trying to say with that, or are you just stating the obvious.”
Pocky hesitates for a while. “I don’t know,” he admits and starts swaying in a different direction. Then quickly changes the subject, before the conversation would become too weird. “What are you planning to do, after this?”
“We take the money, leave, and use it all up as we please. If Baddy finally changes his mind and comes with us, he can join us again. If he still wants to chase that girl, good riddance.”
“We?” Pocky repeats, to prompt a clarification.
“Help me with my dress, will you.” Sweetheart turns his back to him and waits until he comes out from behind the wall, to zip the dress up on him before he would continue. “You, me, the girls, the rest of the baddies… You think they will want to listen to Baddy’s lamentation about that woman any longer? I doubt it. If he ceased to be the most dynamic, and most dangerous man altogether, sooner or later we will all leave him behind for someone better.”
He allows himself to be squeezed into the blue nightmare dress. Blue nightmare dress, he says, as if he did not choose it himself, and insisted on sewing colourful pompoms on it as well. Sweetheart clips a bow on his head, to hide the extensions properly from the eye.
“Is that love?” Pocky asks him. “I thought you and Baddy…”
“Hm? What? You want me to stay and beg for his attention on my hands and knees? Love is not some sort of a game. I’d rather allow myself to be forgotten than to be in the way. If he plans on acting so pathetic then thanks, but no thanks.”
He already knew that Sweetheart hated it when anyone dared to be in his way, but he never thought he would have the same feelings about being underfoot himself. Pocky, on the other hand, was used to being useless, and a bother, so such things did not shock him, or unsettle him at all. On the other hand, the experience of Goody chasing after him just the other day did have its effect on him, so he cannot say he does not understand.
When he looks at Sweetheart, though, he really would not think that the man would need to be afraid of being a bother to anyone. Well. Not in the bad way. (Now, for a moment, he is unsure what he means by being bothersome in a good way, but he just lets it pass by.) There is a charm about him as he applies the last of his lipstick, and peeks at Pocky in the mirror. He even steps behind, startled, as their eyes meet.
“Should I keep this on?” he quickly asks, trying to find a reason why he was looking. He is pointing at his glasses.
“Why not? You still cannot see without them, no?”
“But what sort of a femme fatale has glasses…”
Sweetheart chokes some tears back as he laughs, then goes on to adjust the ribbon on the man’s dress, probably to find a distraction, and to prevent another wave of oncoming laughter.
“You look like a cupcake,” he says, as a matter of fact. “If you want to be a femme fatale, maybe drop the pompoms. And this entire dress. And…”
“Okay. Okay. Understood.”
Adjust glasses. Cough. Hands clasped in front of himself. He misses the curly slope from his bangs.
Sweetheart forces his fingers apart and tries to arrange his posture, so he would not look only half as miserable as he normally does.
“At least you’re not a lobster, this time,” he finally says, as some sort of a consolation.
“It is not like I wanted to be a lobster, you know.”
They take too long with getting ready, because, by the time they arrive at the venue, Baddy and the rest of them are already there. Pocky catches a glimpse of Baddy’s white tie form. His mouth falls open.
“Handsome!” he breathes and hopes it is quiet enough for nobody would overhear him.
Sweetheart snorts in response, and it is very unladylike. He gestures towards Pocky and sticks a cigarette between his lips.
“Come. You too need to be a handsome girl tonight. You can wave bye-bye to all those bank notes if anyone recognizes the former police officer in you.”
That is fine, Pocky thinks. Then, adjusts his glasses. Even Goody did not look at him for long enough at all, to remember how the lines of his face would exactly go. They are safe. The money, and the baddies, too. He leans closer to Sweetheart, wanting to light his cigarette, but soon enough, the man’s hand is right in his face, stopping him. Something knocks against the window of his glasses.
“Have my lighter.”
Pocky pretends he does not feel a little disappointed. He sucks the smoke in.
“Sometimes I inhale too deeply, and I get very dizzy,” he confesses, as they walk into the room. "I think I might even pass out. Then it's alright again."
Sweetheart gives him a look that is not unlike tender, the way you would watch a puppy who is learning how to walk for the first time.
“Let’s dance,” he offers. Then, he adds, as Pocky’s hand draws closer to his waist. “Separately.”
They end up dancing with the same man anyway because Pocky cannot seem to find anyone else to partner him – until the Prince comes out of the blue and steals him from Sweetheart. At first, he is afraid that the boy would recognize him, but after a few minutes of empty looks and giggles, he allows himself to relax. Nobody in this town ever looked at him for long enough to recognize him now, in his colours, in the perfect disguise. As sad that thought was, as promising it felt. Tonight, he may do whatever he likes without consequences. Tomorrow, he might change the world, and nobody would know it was him.
He glances at Sweetheart a few times and catches him dancing with Baddy. So, they found each other again, after all, he thinks. Suddenly, he has an urge to adjust his glasses, but it gets in the way of dancing. He should be happy. If Baddy is back in the bank robbing business with all his heart, it means that perhaps he has given up on Goody for once and all.
Once the money is secured, and they flee the scene, Baddy’s hand around Sweetheart’s waist, who nuzzles up to him like a pet, Pocky knows that this villain business must end. It must end, the way it started, abruptly, and without explanation. His throat starts itching. It's the smoke. It has to be the smoke.
Sweetheart draws up to him later, while they are still wearing their dresses. He looks close to tired, perhaps something else. When he shakes his head, his locks almost fall completely loose to his shoulders.
“He expects Goody to learn about where we stashed the money by the latest tomorrow evening,” he sighs, defeated. A bitter smile. “We did a great job, assisting to bring this love affair to fruition. He made a rendezvous out of it.”
“But the bank robbing was your idea…”
“It was also yours. I heard he has had a suit order-made for you as a sign of appreciation." His voice is completely devoid of all feelings. "And also so you won’t have to wear that pathetic blue thing anymore. It’s a shade of purple. Velvet.”
Pocky turns towards him and examines his small frame: fragile, almost. The pointy shoulders and chin, his plump lips, his huge black eyes, eyelids now heavy from exhaustion, and perhaps surrender. A cool breeze makes all his bones shiver. Sweetheart, too, gets goosebumps all over his arms at the same time, exposed from shoulder to wrist. With shaky hands, he lights another cigarette but does not offer any to Pocky. His lipstick stains the foot of it. Pocky watches. Then coughs. Then adjusts his glasses. Then coughs again. Then clasps his hands in front of himself.
“You’re not a woman, yes?” he repeats himself, to get his attention.
“Right,” Sweetheart answers, shrugging him off.
Pocky ducks his head. “I am also not a woman,” he continues, almost out of breath.
Sweetheart tilts his head, annoyed. Perhaps he has had enough of games for today. For this week. For this life. He holds his hand out, offering the cigarette. His voice is tired, and his golden hair is everywhere.
“Take a drag. Have a taste.”
To have a taste, Pocky presses his lips to his.
Sweetheart does not refuse. He accepts. Welcomes even, perhaps. He doesn’t turn away, but he also doesn’t turn towards him, his body frozen into motion. But he returns the kiss. Slowly at first, then he finally turns, the freshly lit cigarette dropping from between his fingers, onto the ground, and he presses his body as close as the poofy blue skirt allows, and those massive glasses are really, really in the way but there aren’t enough hands, or perhaps he does not have enough working brain cells to remove them anymore, and then a moment later the magic is broken anyway.
Sweetheart separates from him.
If Baddy’s lips have not rubbed off all the lipstick of him, now it is all gone. Pocky imagines half of it is on his face. Brilliant. He must look lovely. Sweetheart licks his lips but has nothing to say. Somehow nothing is worse.
“As expected…” Pocky finally says, in a small voice and adjusts his glasses. “I might be able to see but I am far from being dynamic, or dangerous.”
There is more silence. “Well, you are not Baddy,” Sweetheart ends up saying.
That is rather clear and plain. Cough. Cough. Press a bitter smile dead in the corner of his mouth, before it would come to full bloom.
“Do I have to be?”
“No. No. That is not the requirement.”
He suddenly wants to light another cigarette, even though he never himself felt the need before. They say it is addictive and bad for the environment. It is not illegal for no reason.
“Tomorrow everything might change.” His voice does not sound like his, although he does not know how it sounds like anymore. “Goody might find us in the evening and arrest us all. Or worse. I am sure none of us will go to heaven.”
“God, stop fooling around. It’s not that I want to go to heaven anyway. Even if it ends with this tomorrow, I don’t have much to regret. I did the most one could here, as a villain from the Moon.”
He passes by Pocky and leaves him behind. For a moment he stops, turning his head back to have a last look.
He leaves because he knows that there is no answer to that question. Goodnight, Pocky thinks after him. He does not say it out loud.
An order-made suit. Is that so? Pocky takes off his glasses.
He really, really cannot see anything without them.