A week into their relationship, and Tsukiko and Redcloak had already found their argument. As anyone who has had to spend more than thirty seconds around a couple will tell you, every single pair of romantically linked people on the planet has an argument that is exclusively theirs, that they will rehash over the next fifty years, that they will never grow tired of, while everyone else around them covers their ears and screams for mercy.
It takes most couples a few years to figure out the pointless argument they will be having the rest of their lives. Not Tsukiko and Redcloak. They’re far too efficient to postpone anything as important as senseless bickering.
“I want to, but I can’t.”
“Well, I don’t see why not!”
Redcloak sighed. “It may have escaped your notice, Kiko, but some of us have actual work to do around here.”
“Are you saying I don’t do anything?” she demanded.
“No, what I’m saying is that your job involves a lot less day-to-day work than mine.”
“That’s another way of saying I don’t do anything! My job is important, Reddy!”
“Well, so’s mine! And don’t call me Reddy!”
“Your job’s not so important you can’t take the occasional break.” The hobgoblin guard standing nearby sighed melodramatically, attracting glares from Tsukiko and Redcloak. The guard shifted, checked his watch, and groaned inwardly. Another 37 minutes to go until his shift ended. And they’d probably circle back to the same three points three or four times. This wasn’t what he had signed up for.
All those army recruitment posters had lied.
Desperate to escape Tsukiko and Redcloak’s arguing, Xykon and Jirix were sitting in Xykon’s office. “…I couldn’t find enough cherries for that to work, and as far as I know, Skating Shoes has been out of print for a good twenty years. Quite frankly, finding the components necessary would be so difficult, and it’s such a stretch any way, it would never work.”
“Dammit! Have they even noticed anything we’ve done to them?”
Jirix paused and flipped through a legal pad covered in cross-outs, scribbles, and notes-to-self. “Well, I think Redcloak noticed when we transmuted every personal hygiene product he owned into garlic paste, but both of them seem to be making an obscene amount of saves, so yeah.”
“This isn’t worth it anymore. Sure, it’s loads of fun to knock minions around, but this is way too much effort for me to go through so you can get in Tsukiko’s pants. Unless there’s a real reason for me to care, I don’t.”
“But if something happens… And you have a… a personal stake in it..?”
If Xykon had lungs, he would have sighed. “Didn’t I just say that? Now get out of my office.”
A month passed.
“Please Reddy, just this once, relax and do something fun. It’s a picnic, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen in an hour-long absence?”
“I’d prefer not to think about it. And don’t call me Reddy.”
“Please?” she wheedled. “We never do anything together anymore.”
“That’s because I’m working on getting the Hobgoblins to the point where they can hold the city on their own.”
“Are you saying I don’t do any work?” she demanded.
"SHUT UP!" cried Jirix. He was torn between sheer annoyance at their constant arguing and intense jealousy that it wasn’t him who was having the repetitive, circular arguments with Tsukiko.
“This isn’t any of your business, Jirix,” growled Tsukiko. “This is about someone who is neglecting his loving girlfriend. Reddy.” She coughed the last word.
“If I agree to go on a picnic with you, will you shut up and let me get some work done? And don’t call me Reddy.”
She clapped delightedly. “Of course! Let’s go right now!”
“Kiko, it’s three in the afternoon! I meant maybe tomorrow, or sometime next week.”
“You’re not putting this off. We’re. Going. On. A. Picnic. NOW.” She didn’t wait for a response, just dragged Redcloak out by his arm. Jirix waited a few seconds, and followed them a few steps out of the door, not wanting to act before he was certain they were gone.
Recalling Xykon’s words about having a personal stake in Tsukiko and Redcloak’s relationship, he pulled an allegedly still-lost medallion and sending scroll from his bags, a deranged grin spreading across his face.