Pins and Egos

"Well I'm sure your points are valid, but the theory behind them is probably irrational and misguided. Technically you don't suck when whistling." Gus told me over the phone. We were still in deep discussion over Lars' newfound relationship with Elliot.

They'd been 'hanging out', as Lars had described it, for an entire week without a frown in sight. I was worried that Elliot would blow a fuse at any moment due to the amount of events he was being forced to, but Lars was keeping mum about just how many. I didn't actually want to know what it was they were up to in gory detail.

Elliot still hadn't returned any of my phone calls about any of it, but I was pretty sure he would be whistling the next day when I went in to work. I'd never been fond of other people whistling, and I had suspicion that since Elliot was usually a grumpy son of a monkey's uncle his whistling would suck. Thus I'd phoned Gus to lament my future predicament and explain just why Elliot's whistling would suck. Gus, of course, had answered with something that made rational sense.

I rolled onto my stomach, just barely catching myself from falling off of my bed. "Are you saying I'm irrational and misguided?" Gus had such an intelligent way of insulting people that sometimes they hardly caught on. Clever girl.

Gus sighed. "Lindy, in my experience with you, everything you do is irrational and misguided."

"Thanks, friend," I grinned and pulled out a pinwheel.

"Um, you're welcome…" she trailed and seemed slightly distracted for a moment. "Lindy, I have to get off the phone. My parents are expecting a call."

"Righto, my good woman. We'll chat more tomorrow at school." I chomped a massive bite out of the pinwheel and savored the flavor.

"Tomorrow is Saturday, Lindy." She mentioned as if I were stupid. "Call me when you get off work, okay?"

"Shmure! Bwye!" I called around the mouthful of sugary goodness.

After consuming said goodness I toddled over to the living room where Gramps was already watching the Turner Classic Movie channel. It was a usual Friday night ritual for Gramps, and sometimes for me. Surprisingly it was the one night during the month that Lars hadn't dragged me to some floozy event that involved party favors and cranky snobs. I attributed this to the fact she was probably with Elliot and perhaps had dragged him to said floozy event instead. Ah, sweet revenge.

Being that it was Friday I had an event of my own planned, but I couldn't leave until everyone had gone to sleep. I figured Gramps would konk about one quarter through the next movie, and by the drooping of his eyes, I had a slight chance it would be at the end of the one we were currently watching. Boom baby.

The door buzzer buzzed suddenly, jolting Gramps out of his blissful half-sleep and into reality. Shucks. Frou Frou barked with the second obnoxious buzz and with a grudging sigh I stood. Sam must've left his keys in his room again.

Another buzz.

"Alright, alright already, gee whiz, Sam. Look, I realize the weight of your keys probably tips the scale of balance holding up your pants, but we gotta work something –" There stood my nightmare on Elm street with one of those cute apologetic smirks and a look that said 'invite me in, I'm charming'. This pog warrior was unlike any other, using my friends as bait, toying with my schedule and well-laid plans, smirking like he was British. Why it was outrighteous pretension on his part to think he could waltz onto my front step and – and –

"What are you doing here? This is where I live. A smeegle cannot smuggle in an open grave you know." I folded my arms crossly.

The smirk stuck in place. "I don't know what you said, but I'm sure it's true."

I sighed and continued my disgruntled harrumphing. "That's the problem with you – always so quick to judge."

Frou Frou, ever the one for timing, decided at that moment to poke her pert nose into my business and flirt with the enemy. It would figure she would become a furry puddle at the hands of him.

"This must be Frou Frou. Come here, girl," he bent down and rubbed the willing traitor, whose body now moved in time with her tail. Beguiling canine. If only I could've spray painted her pink without being an obvious suspect. "Lovely dog. She's not so bad." She jumped up and began licking his face with gusto. Whore. "No, you're not bad at all."

I glared. "If you love her so much, you can –"

"Lindy, can you close the door. It's getting drafty in here." Gramps called from the living room.

Boy took it as an invitation to enter my house and closed the door behind him.

Not on the lives of my three favorite hamsters was this weasel going to go nosing through my house. What if he found out what I'd done to him, and then he would plot revenge? Glancing down I caught sight of my bag, just lying in the open next to the coat closet. My precious book of ingenious missions sat tucked away and vulnerable. There were two particular ones that I had recently created based on the twitterpated psychos I called my friends. One of them was planned for the night. If that boy touched that book…

I frowned, not liking the idea one bit. "You don't get to just sneak attack your way into my house. This is a deliberate sabotage and I need you to leave. Now."

He tilted his head in confusion. "Why are you using war terminology? I was only popping by to say hello. Augustina mentioned you lived a few blocks away from me."

"You live a few blocks from me?" The thought of him being able to afford a place around here astounded me. That, and the fact he could so easily spy on my execution of plans.

He nodded. "I thought I told you the other night. It's my aunt's place. I just rent out the upstairs suite."

I stood there and regarded him carefully. He seemed too genuine to be lying, but one could never tell with the cunning mind of a pog warrior.

"Oh, and I brought you these," he dug through his bag and pulled out a box, "Rose makes them, but I haven't a taste for it I'm afraid." Inside were Japanese candy delights – a jelly-like substance that kind of just tasted like overly sweet dough blobs. It was the way to an emangsters heart.

"Gee whiz! How could you not like these?! I need soy sauce." I spun around and headed straight for the kitchen.

"I don't think you're supposed to –"

"And ketchup! No, maybe some horseradish! Gramps, do we have horseradish?" I completely forgot about the foreigner on the landing and got to work. My stomach was a dictator, and I was but the obedient servant.

"You ate the last of the jar with those lemon tarts last week." Gramps piped up. "I'll put it on the grocery list."

No horseradish. Egad! My Japanese sugar rush would be nowhere near as sweet and satisfying. I stood, looking blankly at my fridge for a few minutes before snapping my fingers. "By Grover – Dijon would do it!"

By the time I'd concocted the perfect dipping sauce I remembered the guest – rather, the intruding spy – who'd delivered the treats and paused. Where had he gone?

Immediately I imagined him, dressed in black, climbing about on my bedroom walls in the dark and ransacking every drawer. My room would be a mess, Frou Frou would begin chewing on said mess – chaos would ensue! Jimminy Crackers, he would find my secret stash of Wassabi Peas and Pickled Onions! Frou Frou would choke and die, which was no real loss, at least to me. However her death would ultimately send Gramps into a grief-induced trance until he became a serial killer and…

Voices brought me out of my paranoid panic and I slowly wandered into the living room. There he sat, happy as a clam, parked in my favorite spot on the couch, with my grandfather's annoying dog, and talking to my grandparent as if they were old pals. What presumptuous nerve. If it had been up to me, the prince of pogs would've had to go through gang initiation before ever setting foot near my house.

"…I'd be honored for you to take a look one of these days. It's not near as impressive as what you've got here, but I've got a few good ones from my grandfather. This collection is really amazing – really, really amazing." Boy was saying as I entered the cone of conversation. I couldn't see the expression on his face because he was facing Gramps, but I was pretty sure he was feigning humility – and drooling. Ugh, Elliot had every right to hate musicians.

"Oh," Gramps waved it away and folded his hands comfortably over his chest. He only got that way when he was given compliments. "When you've been collecting as long as I have I'm sure it'll be just as hip-hoppinin'."

Oh, snap. Gramps had pulled out his vocabulary lesson from MTV! He was so brilliant, that man. I was sure the tart on the couch was blinking with a little dumbfounded befuddlement. Served him right for letting a fluffy rat sit in his lap and talking about vinyl.

Besides, eating five large chocolate-y chocolate fudge caramel pistachio cream pie sundaes in the space of about two hours – that was 'hip-hoppinin'. Vinyl? It had been a part of my life for so long it didn't seem all that 'impressive'. Gramps had started my collection probably while the dinos still roamed. He'd told me each album reminded him of me in some way. Clockwork Orange, for example definitely had defined me to the person I was today. Elliot had recently mentioned that vinyl was the new mp3 and pretentious fools were making it a fashion statement. I'd wondered briefly if I should've pulled out my old bellbottoms, but thought better of the groovy gear. Lars would have made me throw them out.

The only reason I was noticed was because Frou Frou must've caught wind of my snack and glanced up with a low growl. Boy heard and turned 'round to smile at me.

"Hello. I thought you'd been lost to the kitchen. Was just chatting with your grandfather about his vinyl collection." He looked so brimming full of innocence and cheese whiz when he smiled that sugary smile. It made me want to throw paint balls at his face.

Gramps moved in before I had a chance to go and grab the paint balls. "Oliver here has been collecting since he was eight – quite young for that sort of thing." He smiled as if he were pleased as punch. Great. He was thinking of adopting Oliver now too. As if Frou Frou hadn't been enough of a mangy animal.

I nodded, trying to play it cool like Cool Hand Luke. If I acted too tense and twitchy Boy would definitely be invited to stay. A new movie, Rafter Romance, starring Ginger Rogers was just coming on, which meant –

"Well, Oliver, if you're planning on visiting awhile, why don't you stay for the movie? Lindy and I usually like to watch the oldies together, but I'm sure she'd be down diggity with the company."

They both turned to look at me, Gramps expectantly, Boy with more of a questioning look, like I could sell him crack. I shrugged, remembering that Lars had once said, 'It's better to stalk your enemies than freak out your friends.' "Yeah, whatevs." I plunked down next to Boy and offered some of my snack. "Maybe you might like them now that they have condimentary compliments."

Gramps chuckled. "I wouldn't if you want to keep your dinner." My grandpa may have understood me just a little, but he understood normal people enough to know they didn't want to eat my odd food. Sad. Their taste buds had no idea what they were missing.

Boy scrunched his nose a little. "I'll pass this time, but thanks."

Perhaps he'd given up on finding threads and was now just trying to weave into my life and discover my destructive tendencies. Neither idea appealed to me, but I hid the brainwave with a shrug. "No probs."

The movie went along as expected, eating away minutes of the time I could have spent preparing for my newest deconstructive idea. Gramps, despite the guest, fell asleep promptly at about the midway mark, while Boy, being the most oblivious creature to my silent countdown of the clock, continued watching and snuggling with the enemy. How completely obnoxious. He seemed quite at home in my spot on the couch, all hunkered in like a hibernating bear. He even had his arm around the back of my part of the couch, as comfortable as pie.

I was completely and utterly flabbergasted. How in the world did I rid myself of the Brit, short of spraying Raid? Lars would've known – she'd seen 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'. Or maybe Gus had read something about it in one of her psychology books. Alas, sneaking away and calling a friend would only mean my guest might snoop unobserved. Shucks. Then, it hit me.

My eyes drooped about three quarters of the way into the movie, just when things were getting good. By the time ten minutes had gone by I was pretending to be in Snoozleland while Boy glanced around awkwardly, unsure of what to do. The most obvious idea would have been to leave. Slowly but surely he maneuvered Frou Frou off of his lap and stood, gently shaking me awake.

"Hey, I'm going to go."

I blinked in 'sleepiness'. "Oh…Oh, okay. I'll…walk you to the door." And veer you away from my bag of precious plans, I added silently.

"Sure."

I made sure to rub my eyes in sleep and act all dopey. Snow White wouldn't have even noticed the difference had she been present. "So, um, thanks for coming – and the treats."

He shrugged. "Not at all." I saw him turn the handle, slowly open it, step out into the night… Then he paused. Augh! "Hey, are you free next Wednesday night?"

I blinked, realizing I'd been too eagerly anticipating his departed movements. "Uh…not that I can think of, unless Lars has some dumb function up her sleeve that I don't know about. She's taken to ambushing me suddenly as of late."

He nodded. "I'd like to take you somewhere – it's a surprise. You in?"

I was hoping it was an invitation to the Secret Society of Pog Warriors Elite. This was my chance to prove my skillz – and get enough secret intel to write a telling biography. "Is it another concert your band is playing?" I tried not to sound negative about it, but I was pretty sure I'd failed.

A smirk quirked his face instead of annoyance. "I get the subtle feeling you don't particularly like my band."

I didn't want to lie. "Well…I don't hate them per se. They're nice boys – I mean, you're nice too and all, it's just… I see leprechauns when you play, and I've never really been fond of little green midgets. You know?"

He chuckled a little and shook his head. "It's not a concert, I promise."

That meant there was a fifty-fifty chance that it really was an invitation to the Secret Society of Pog Warriors Elite. Woot dizzle! "I'm there like a fat kid on candy."

For a second his eyes clouded with confusion before he understood and smiled that stupidly charming smile again. "Good. I'll pick you up at eight thirty, Wednesday."

"Peace." I smiled back and closed the door, rolling my eyes and muttering "Finally" to no one in particular.

It was almost midnight and I hadn't even prepped anything. My list of steps for the night lay written in the pages of my book and I had no time to waste. Quickly I grabbed my bag and dug around, coming across a handful of strange items, none of them matching with the description of my book. Frantically I dumped the entire thing out. No book. I went and checked my backpack. No book. Then my room, under every shelf, bed, rug – everything. My heart began yammering in my ears and swearing in Yiddish. The book was nowhere to be found.

I'd been robbed! I'd been robbed and the only person who could have done it had just walked out the door, no doubt with a smug smile on that smarmy mouth of his.

Oh, he was so going down for this.

A/N: Boy is a devious little pog warrior. Or has someone more cunning contrived this little heist...? Hmm.

Sorry for the psyche update. I posted. reread. and cringed. Hopefully there's more flow...*swish*!