Riku ignored the proclamation and the steady thump of bony little feet against the wood of the chair and kept rooting through the cupboards for something resembling food. The closest he'd found was a large bottle of absinthe and for some reason he didn't think Jack and Sally would be overly thrilled with the baby sitters getting roaring drunk.
Behind him, Sora tried to work the problem. "Well Danny, what do you want to do? We could play with the xylophones some more or play hide and seek -"
"I wanna play outside." The little skeleton replied in a petulant little voice.
For once his sister, normally the calm voice of reason, decided to agree with him. "Yeah! I wanna play in the snow! Is it almost Christmas? Santa always brings us snow for Christmas!"
"It's July. Christmas isn't for another six months," Riku replied, shifting a large jar of nightshade to see what was behind it. Hen's teeth. Lovely.
"Well I still wanna go play outside!"
Riku turned to find Danny with his arms crossed firmly over his thin little chest, scowling at Sora, while Catherine was practically dancing, her skirt forming a hypnotist's pinwheel. He shook his head and looked over to where Kairi was playing with the baby. "There's nothing to eat, unless you want to try a maggot frittata."
"They're surprisingly good, once you get used to them," Sora offered. "But they really need mushrooms."
The horrible part was that Riku couldn't tell whether Sora was being serious or not, so he didn't know how justified he was in feeling queasy. Torn between laughing it off as a joke and retching, he decided to play it safe and simply replied, "There are no mushrooms."
Danny bounced off his chair, suddenly excited. "I know where to find mushrooms! We could go mushroom hunting!"
"Yeah! Mom would love some truffles!"
Riku looked at Sora.
Sora looked at Riku.
They both looked at Kairi.
Kairi shrugged. "Sure, why not? You two can take Danny and Catherine out and I'll stay here and look after Chris. We should be fine." Given that Chris was cheerfully mashing a pumpkin rind to mush with his little toothless mouth, there was no reason to doubt the statement.
"Alright then!" Sora stood. "Let's go get some mushrooms!"
"YAY!" In unison the two little skeletons jumped in excitement then went tearing across the floor and down the stairs faster than Riku would have thought possible. "C'mon Zero!"
The ghostly little dog looked up from his bed, woofed sleepily, then floated in a series of bounds out of the bed and after the two children.
The pale-haired boy looked at Sora and arched an eyebrow. "You realize we're going to be chasing two children around in the dark, yes?"
"Yeah, well," Sora grinned at him. "Do you want that frittata with mushrooms or maggots?"
"What's it doing?" Catherine cocked her head to the side and watched the little white mushroom spinning around in front of them.
It was Sora who answered, as Riku had never seen a mushroom actually move before. "It wants to play! Here, watch this!" He summoned his Keyblade and leveled it at the little spinning fungus. "Wind!"
From nowhere the wind picked up, lifting the mushroom off of the ground and tossing it head over heels. Or cap over stem. Or whatever. For some reason, Riku got the feeling the mushroom would actually be laughing if it made any sound.
Catherine made up for the silence, giggling her pig-tailed head off. "It's so cute! I don't think I could eat it."
"White mushrooms are icky anyway." Danny crossed his arms and frowned up at the mushroom. "We need to find truffles."
Not lowering the mushroom, Sora arched an eyebrow at the little skeleton. "Truffles? Do you know how hard it is to find those things?"
"We can do it, if you'll just stop playing with those silly white things!"
"I don't think they're silly!" Catherine started spinning, just like the mushroom had. "I think they're cute! Lift me, Sora! Lift me!"
"Eh, I don't think that would work with you." Sora smiled, lowering the mushroom gently to the ground. The mushroom landed, then did a couple of little hops and started spinning again. Zero barked at it.
"Oh look! It wants to play some more!" Bony little hands clapped, sending reverberations down the entire length of the girl's arms. "Do it again, Sora!"
Riku sighed as Sora sent the little mushroom flying again. Catherine might be enjoying herself, but he was bored. Although at least Danny had stopped his whining, so that was a bonus. He dropped his eyes to see what the other little skeleton was up to -
- then swung his head around in a panicked arc. "Danny? Oh no. Danny! Where are you?"
"Huh?" Sora's attention jerked away from the mushroom and he accidentally dropped it. It wriggled and hopped about in an unhappy manner, then vanished.
"Awww! It's gone!"
"So's Danny." Riku scowled. When he found that kid, he was going to tattoo the definition of "obedience" into his bony butt. Then again, maybe not. Jack and Sally would object, he was sure, but it was so very, very tempting. "Where on earth would the little monster have gotten off to?"
"He can't have gotten far. It hasn't even been five minutes, has it?" Sora frowned. "Although, if he was looking for truffles, I had the best luck finding them by Oogie Boogie's old place. By the bridge."
"Even Danny wouldn't be that dense, would -"
Both boys jumped in unison, instinctively summoning their Keyblades. The scream had come from the hill in the middle of the graveyard.
With a somewhat relieved look, Sora started running toward the sound. "See, I told you he couldn't have gone far!"
Riku took off after him. "Oh, no, just far enough to get himself eaten by something."
"Sora! Riku! Wait!" Cathrine was running along behind them as fast as she could, but her little legs couldn't move fast enough to catch up.
"I'll stay with Catherine, you go get Danny." Without waiting for a response, Sora stopped.
"I- wha - why me?"
"'Cause you, uh, do better with dark things." Sora called back. He sounded apologetic, but Riku still glowered and mentally promised him death by tickle torture when this was over with. Or maybe death by noogie. That would work too.
He was almost to the hill, Zero tearing ahead of him barking wildly, when Danny came tearing around it from the other side, still screaming. There was something chasing him, but Riku couldn't quite see what.
"HELP! HELP! IT SPIT STUFF AT ME AND NOW IT'S CHASING ME AND MAKE IT STOP RIIIIIIIIKUUUUUUUU!"
As Danny reached him, he reached out and grabbed the little skeleton by the shoulder, thrusting himself between him and -
- a little black mushroom.
"That's it? You're running from a -"
The mushroom hunched down, then spat a ring of purple, foul smelling spores into the air. They coated the inside of Riku's nose and mouth, making the world spin alarmingly.
So maybe the mushroom was a bit dangerous after all. Giving his head a quick shake, he lashed out with Way to the Dawn, only to have it glance off the mushroom's cap without so much as a scratch.
"What the - ?" Riku blinked, backing away from the fungus, holding his arm up to his face in case it spat poison again. He couldn't tell if it was just an after-effect of the spores, but the mushroom seemed to have turned grey. It was slowly fading back to black.
Danny continued to cower behind him with a fiercely growling Zero. "Bad truffle! Bad, bad truffle!"
Riku wanted to tell the skeleton boy to run to Sora. As it was, between boy and dog, he was in danger of tripping if he backed up too fast, but the mushroom was in front of him, so if he was careful with his attacks and if he could actually land a blow, he should be able to deal with the situation fairly quickly.
He lunged again and the mushroom wriggled out of the way. He spun, bringing the blade around in an arching slash, which he reversed into a thrust. This time the mushroom didn't manage to dodge. The blade went right through it. Riku twisted it, bringing it up through the cap.
The mushroom fell, split nearly in two. To be on the safe side, Riku brought the flat of his blade down on it, mashing the remains into a smear of goo.
Behind him, Danny sat sniffling with Zero licking at his bony little cheeks. "I don't like mushrooms! I wanna go home!"
"It's okay, Danny." Sora walked up and patted the little skeleton on the head. Catherine trailed behind him, keeping plenty of distance between herself and the ex-mushroom. "You're safe now."
"No thanks to you!" Riku scowled and put the Keyblade away. "I could've used some help, you know."
"Oh come on, Riku!" Sora laughed. "It was just a fungus. I've taken on lots of the things, I knew you could do it."
"I still wanna go home!"
"I wanna go home too." Catherine looked up at them both with big, pleading eye sockets. "I'm getting hungry."
"Okay, we'll go home. But now we're stuck with plain old maggot frittatas." Sora bent over and scooped up some of the mysterious looking mushroom goo. "Maybe if we add this it'll be tasty?"
This time Riku could tell Sora wasn't joking. He stared at his friend for a second, then shuddered and started herding the children out of the graveyard. "We are never babysitting on this world again."
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