Chapter 1: Hold the Onions
Riddle stared very hard at the grease-covered grill in front of him, spatula clenched tightly in his fist. His antennae were pinned down firmly, though some of that was due to the ill-fitting hat that went horribly with his hair. He was doing everything in his power to keep the internal countdown timer for when he should flip the patties in the center of his mind lest the overwhelming rage take hold and cause him to smash his tree-branch saber through the shoddy grill. He clenched his teeth as he finally hit zero and gave the three patties a flip, executing his actions with ease and grace despite his disdain, and firmly pressed each one down onto the grill to ensure an even coverage.
The boys had done their time paying off the damages from the sword, but the cheesemonger had one last insult up his sleeve; if the boys wanted to claim their original reward, they would have to do one small favor for him, and so here they were at the fast-food joint a few blocks away, covering for the guy’s kids while they got caught up with their studies. It was infuriating to be reduced to this position, especially when they should be out there adventuring to their hearts content and making a name for themselves across the galaxy, but the cheesemonger said he would throw in a few cheese wheels along with their full reward if they took the job. That was one of the saving graces of this whole ordeal, along with knowing that it would be done and over with after today…assuming the boys could actually make it through the day without incident.
Riddle looked up from the grill to scope out how Rhyme was doing, listening in on his exchange with the customer with that usual smile on his face.
“-and I want the number 3, large, with an apple pie…”
Rhyme simply lowered his head to quickly peck at the cash register, then brought it back up to continue taking the person’s order.
“...uhhh…the number 6, medium-, no make that a large, too. And throw in the cobbler with that one…”
Rhyme lowered his head and pecked a few times, then brought it back up.
“And uhhhh…the number 2, medium, hold the onions.”
Rhyme lowered his head and pecked, but held his head down there for a moment instead of bringing it back up. He stared at the register…then continued pecking. The customer was craning their neck to try and see what the avian was doing. Riddle also tried leaning to the side to get a better look, but the sound of the meat sizzling a little too loudly drew him away from his boyfriend’s pecking and back to tending to the meat.
He transferred the patties over to the buns, then grabbed all the necessary toppings from the bins sat next to the grill. He kept glancing up at the screen above him to make sure he was getting the order right, then shuffled everything into their respective boxes before setting the fries into the oil. He tried very hard to keep himself from any thoughts of taking pride in how well he was doing, as the last thing he wanted from this whole ordeal was anything resembling a fond memory. He’d be perfectly happy to walk out of this place having scrubbed the whole thing from his mind, carrying on merrily with their reward (and some bonus cheese).
As he slid the various desserts into the small countertop oven, he realized he had lost track of the exchange going on between Rhyme and the customer, which he regretted when he heard the escalating tone from the latter. He sighed dramatically and went to see what was going on, only to be met with the customer getting in Rhyme’s face.
“-don’t want any damn onions! My own kid could work this job and you’re tellin’ me you don’t know how to work a damn register?”
“Beep!” Rhyme beeped, head bobbing slightly.
“I am TALKING to you!” the customer said, their voice getting louder as some of the other customers in the restaurant were beginning to look on. “When someone is SPEAKING to you they expect an ANSWER! What the hell kind of moron can’t even answer a simple question?!”
“Beep!” Rhyme beeped, head bobbing harder. Riddle was scrambling to get out from the kitchen to make it to the front counter. Rhyme’s expression almost never changed, but Riddle knew how to read his boyfriend better than anyone, and he knew what was about to happen if he didn’t get to Rhyme right now.
“And quit smiling like such a dumbass, kid!” the customer yelled. “Anyone ever teach you how to RESPECT your elders, punk? Or you really THAT much of a- GUH-”
Just as Riddle burst out of the kitchen, he heard a loud THWACK ring out through the restaurant as Rhyme slammed his beak smack dab in the middle of the customer’s forehead. The moth winced as he watched the customer collapse to the floor unconscious, followed by the various oofs and ooohs coming from the patrons who had been watching the confrontation unfold.
“Rhyme!” Riddle said as he ran up to his partner, “I know the guy was a jerk but you can’t just DO that-”
“He deserved it!” Rhyme said in his usual cheerful tone. He resumed pecking at the register as Riddle grasped for words and pulled at his own antenna, then perked back up when he was done. “Also I figured it out!”
“Figured WHAT out?”
“How to take things off!” Rhyme then leaned over the counter to address the passed out customer on the floor. “$15.89 please!”
Riddle groaned as he put his face in his hands and slowly slid down to the ground on his knees. Well, if nothing else then maybe they would get to keep the cheese wheels after all was said and done. Maybe.
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