Rating: G (for shame)
Pairing/Characters: William, (/) Grell
Word count: 1180
Written for kuroshi_contest Week #4 theme: Haven.
He didn't look up. That singsong couldn't be anyone else. "No, Grell."
He could hear Sutcliffe's pout. "I haven't even told you what it is."
"I'm saving myself time." The tip of his quill snapped. Damn. Opening his desk to hunt a spare, he pretended Sutcliffe wasn't actually entering the office.
Grell sat his trousered rump upon the desk's corner, obscuring half the scroll with a coy drape of a leg. William sighed. "What is it."
"William, dearest." Grell leaned his shark's grin in with a simpering duck of his head. "You must let me have my scythe back. I can't be a proper shinigami with these." He punctuated his protest with twin snips of his probation scythes, right in front of William's face.
William drew back to avoid the danger of having his eyelashes trimmed, gave Grell his usual unsmiling gaze. "No."
Grell, never much for negotiations, clasped his hands beneath his chin (nearly puncturing his palms with the scissors) and burst into tears. "Please?" he wailed, tears plopping onto the scroll and making the ink run.
"I'll take those away too if you keep this up."
Grell leapt off the desk, contorting in horror. "No! Oh, William, how you treat me. When is it a crime to bring a little flair to one's duties?"
"You'll receive a full-sized regulation scythe again when I say." The scroll would still be salvageable, he thought. "So try to act as if you deserve an end to your probation."
An unhappy sigh. "Yes, William. Here," Grell was extending a hand, placed something slender and shiny-slick upon the desk. "I picked this up for you on my last assignment."
With a sweep of hair he left the office. William picked up the object. The end depressed with a click; the tip which emerged on the other end was not sharp enough to be a weapon, but left black dots on his fingers. After a moment of experimentation, he understood its function.
It did work more efficiently than a quill.
"William I heard some of the others talking they say I shouldn't wear this they say I need to be dressed in a suit but this is a suit and the rules don't say anything about the jacket length and I love red, William, tell me you won't make me change it oh tell me tell me please please please?"
It still was not worth looking up. "There is a dress code."
Grell squeaked. "But, William--"
"And no, it does not specify jacket length." Now he did look up. "Nor does it specify that the jacket should be wide enough for one's shoulders, because that was thought to be a given. Could you at least have the thing tailored, Sutcliffe?"
Grell lifted a hand to his lips in another horrified cringe. "But it's cut for a lady. I can't destroy my lovely coat with dreadful blocky fabric. I'd look ridiculous."
He wouldn't even waste an eyeroll on that one. "Have I said anything about your jacket to date?"
"Then don't pay attention to others. Your censures come from me." He returned his gaze to his work. "It counts as a suit. Barely. Try not to push your wardrobe further, Sutcliffe."
Grell leapt like an overjoyed jack-in-the-box. "Thank you, William!" Almost before he had touched down, he set another item on William's desk, a tiny ceramic pot with something growing in it. "This is for you."
As Grell scampered away, William wondered why Grell didn't try to bribe him before he made his requests. The plant had stems and spiky pink-green ovoids that bit closed when stroked. William set it on the shelves behind his desk.
The cry was anguished enough to make a weaker god weep. William was not such a god.
But he did look up. "What."
"I did what you said, I didn't listen to gossip," sniffled Grell. "But I saw, oh, it's written right there in the latest memo, William, oh, how could you, you signed it yourself--hair length, William, don't make me, you heartless beast!"
William would have liked to have pointed out that a limit of waist-length hair should be generous enough for any organization's dress policy, and that it would only have cost Grell an inch or two to comply. But he didn't. Gesturing with his ballpoint (everyone wanted to know where he'd got it), at the memorandum's header, he read aloud: "'For New Hires,' Grell. It's not an informational handout for the division. New hires have stricter guidelines, you...fool." He rejected a stronger insult.
He wouldn't watch the play of emotions over Grell's face, it was too naked. By the time Grell was shedding tears of relief William had crumpled the memorandum and tossed it into the bin. "Go...comb your hair or whatever it is you do. Don't," he warned as Grell was clearly about to clasp his hand, probably to kiss.
Grell's heels danced a patter on the floor as he headed out of the office. Then he turned. "Oh! I almost forgot."
This time it was an absurd little poppet, some kind of totem, no doubt, made of something that looked like rubber but smelled strange, and had a topknot of bright pink hair above a ridiculous squashed-in face.
The pink hair didn't look anything at all like Grell. Not at all.
It occurred to William that he hadn't had any deskside intrusions in over a week. Grell was off on a private assignment; the ninny had even filled out the proper forms before. How refreshing.
He adjusted the tiny discs in his ears. Grell had called this an eyepod, and the music on it dixieland jazz. William still wasn't sure if he liked it, but it was different.
An error on the scroll before him made him grimace. Opening his desk, he rummaged for a moment, but failed to find what he was looking for. He turned to the shelves behind him, found them a good deal more occupied than they'd once been. A Chinese fan sat next to a a glass globe with a scorpion incased within; a Roman strigil lay upon a cube of yellow notepaper inscribed along one edge with the words What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas. Shells, wire puzzles, and wishbones from long-extinct birds littered the covers of his books, and the flytrap on the corner of his desk was looking healthily fat.
It wasn't neat, but it was interesting.
There--right between the music box and a wooden egg that opened to reveal a wooden chick, there was the tiny bottle of quick-drying white paint, liquid paper, clever name. William dabbed a bit onto the error and blew on it.
Capping the bottle, he looked again at the collection. Such a lot of clutter. Perhaps he should try to organize things a bit.
He squelched the thought. No, it looked all right like this. Even...cozy.
When the singsonged Oh Will-i-am floated through his door ten minutes later, William didn't even think it incongruous how quickly he looked up.