Tootsie-Pop Thieves

(NOTES: All good thieves have to start somewhere, right? This fun little story was inspired by my addiction to tootsie-pops. Emil, Remy and Genard belong to Marvel. The shop-keeper and the lady belong to me. Enjoy!)

This story was entered in the X-Day 2003 competition. 12 people voted for it in the competition. Its final rating was 6.8333.

"Are you sure we ain' gon' get in trouble?"

Eleven-year-old Emil Lapin stopped in his tracks and faced his cousin, hands on his slim hips. "Remy, where have you been for de pas' year, huh? Weren' you payin' 'tention when Jean-Luc tol' you 'bout de fam'ly business?"

Remy LeBeau sighed. He hated to admit it, but his red-haired imp of a cousin had a point. "So we jus' consider dis a trainin' job?"

Emil's sparkly blue eyes twinkled and he grinned. "A trainin' job wit' benefits. C'mon!"

Five minutes later, the two boys were outside the store they had chosen to carry out their training job. The small store was owned and operated by a middle aged man who didn't have the good sense to keep a close eye on everyone who walked in the door. He was too trusting, and as Emil had pointed out to Remy the day before when they checked the place out, that was his downfall. Sure, it made their job fairly easy, but there was still the risk of getting caught.

"Okay." Emil peeked in the window and reported back to Remy. "Owner dude is behind de counter, readin' a magazine. He really should know better. Dere's one other person in de store, we'll have to be careful not to alert her to what we're doin' b'cause we don' wan' her tellin' de owner, compris?"

"Right." Remy nodded. "One more time jus' b'cause we can...what's our target?"

"Tootsie-Pops!" Emil exclaimed.

"An' why are we goin' after dem?" Remy continued.

"B'cause we want a sugar-high!" Emil replied.

The two boys broke into a fit of giggles that gave passersby reason to stare at them like they were already on the sugar-high they desired. After a few hilarious minutes, they looked at each other.

"Okay okay...we gotta do dis b'fore someone figures somethin' out." Emil said. "Poker faces" He and Remy grew serious instantly and Remy nodded. They were ready. "Let's go."

They walked into the store and noted mentally that the shop-keeper didn't even look up from his magazine when the bell above the door jingled. The lady in the store was busy at the ice cream freezer, trying to decide which kind of treats she wanted to bring home to her family, or so the boys guessed.

Careful not to draw attention to themselves, the boys made their way to the candy counter and their coveted Tootsie-Pops. They didn't waste any time, because they remembered what their elders always said. "If you spend too much time in de store, dey'll get suspicious even if dey weren' payin' attention so it's best to move quickly an' efficiently. Go in, get what you came for an' get out wit'out drawin' attention to yourself."

Within two minutes, the boys were silently picking up the treasured suckers and putting them in all the pockets they had. Remy looked up at one point and saw the lady moving over to the cash counter. He poked Emil in the ribs, and his cousin froze. They watched, breath held, as the lady paid for her ice cream and left. The owner, who probably forgot the boys were even in the store, wished her a good day and promptly returned to his magazine without even looking around his store. Once they were safe, the boys grabbed a couple more suckers each and then, after quickly checking to make sure nothing was bulging anywhere, they walked out of the store. The owner never even noticed them.

Once they were safely outside and around the corner, the cousins broke into a sprint and ducked down an alley several blocks away. Only then did they stop. They looked at each other and broke into a fit of laughter.

"Dat was so easy!" Remy giggled. "I can' b'lieve he never even noticed us!"

"I can...Genard tol' me dat guy is a complete space-cadet." Emil laughed. "But dey won' always be dat easy."

"Of course not. I wonder how many suckers we got?"

"I don' know, but we better wait until we get back into de tunnels b'fore we haul 'em out an' count 'em."

"Good idea."

With that, they went to the back of the alley and pulled up a manhole cover. Still laughing, they climbed down and hauled the cover over them, then jumped down the ladder steps and started walking. They were deep into the tunnels before they decided to stop and count their loot.

They sat on the floor of the tunnel they were in and pulled multi-colored Tootsie-Pops out of all their pockets. It was a seemingly endless supply and just when they thought they'd found them all, one of them found more. In the end, a small mountain of suckers was positioned between them.

"Y'know...if we'd brought Et along, we'd have even more." Remy commented.

Emil shook his head. "Yah...but Et's only nine. He hasn't figured everythin' out yet. He woulda dropped somethin' or said somethin' an' we woulda got caught. Dis way, we didn' get caught an' we have enough of dese t'ings to last us a week! Or at least a couple of days..."

The boys counted their suckers and decided they'd done pretty well for themselves. There were sixty-one suckers in all. When the count was official, Remy raised an eyebrow, his red-on-black eyes glowing. "Thirty for each of us an' one for Et."

Emil giggled and then sighed. "Y'know, it'd be easier now if we had a bag to carry 'em all in..."

"Where are we gon' get a bag? We can' jus' leave dem here to go get one from Tante Mattie or somethin'..." Remy pouted. "An' I do not wan' put dem back in my pockets, do you?"

"Non. But I don' see what other choice we have." Emil said.

"I do. You want a bag, you got a bag. But dere is a condition to my offer." A voice said from the nearby shadows.

The cousins jumped in shock and looked to where the voice came from. The owner of the voice, a blond-haired, brown-eyed, glasses-wearing eighteen-year-old named Genard Alouette, stepped into view. In his hands was a plastic bag. "Nice stash you got dere, boys. I'm impressed."

"How did you...?" Emil demanded. They hadn't told anyone what their plans were.

"Oh...I didn'." Genard admitted, absently poking his glasses up on his nose. "I jus' got back from a meetin' wit' a potential buyer wit' Papa. Dat's where de bag came from. De guy bought what we brought him. I kept de bag. Papa went to talk to Jean-Luc an'' I d'cided to take de round-a-bout way home. Dat's when I saw you two."

"So...can we have de bag?" Remy asked.

"Oui, but like I said dere's a condition..." Genard's brown eyes twinkled mischievously.

"An' what would dat condition be?" Emil prodded.

Genard nodded. "Well you see, I have a rather large likin' for Tootsie-Pops myself, an' I don' know if I wan' jus' give you dis here bag, compris? So de way I figure it, if you each give me five of dose Tootsie-Pops, one of each color, I'll give you dis bag an' we'll call it even. Sound fair?"

The younger boys looked at each other and sighed. "Non." Emil replied. "It don' sound fair, since we're de ones who did all de work stealin' em an' stuff, an' you didn' do anythin'...but..."

"But we really want dat bag." Remy finished. He and Emil each handed Genard five suckers, and in return he gave them the bag. "Y'know, Genard, you're gon' make a really good Harvest Disseminator..."

Genard chuckled. "It's all in de negotiation skills." He said, tucking the suckers into his pockets and smiling at them, before walking away into the tunnels, whisling. "Later, boys!"

Emil looked at Remy. "Why do I get de feelin' we jus' got swindled?"

"B'cause we did, Emil. But at least we still have twenty-five Tootsie-Pops each, an' we have a bag to carry 'em in! We weren' dat lucky b'fore he showed up." Remy reminded his cousin.

"I know." Emil nodded. "C'mon, let's go. We gotta get dese t'ings hidden b'fore Tante Mattie an' our fathers see 'em an' confiscate 'em. You know how dey don' like us to have too much candy."

They put the suckers into the bag and took turns carrying it back to the section of the tunnels used by Emil's family. They sneaked into the bedroom and Emil counted out twenty-five of the suckers, hiding them under his mattress. Then they went to the central section of rooms in the tunnels, where Remy's family lived, and hid twenty-five of the suckers in Remy's room. They looked at the last sucker.

"We can' give dis to Etienne." Emil suddenly stated. "He'll never b'lieve dat we don' have a whole bunch of dem an' are only givin' him one. Especially if he finds out we gave Genard ten of dem jus' for a bag."

"But if we can' give it to Et...what do we do wit' it?" Remy questioned. "We can' let anyone else know or dey'll all want some. Or worse, dey'll take dem away from us. You said so yourself. We could always give it to Genard..."

"No way! We already gave him ten! Dat's more'n enough." Emil retored. "I say we flip for it an' whoever wins de flip gets to keep it."

"Dat's fair, but I don' have a coin, do you?" Remy replied.

"Nope. Drat. Any other ideas?"

Remy thought for a moment and grinned. "Rock Paper Scissors? One go, no best two out of three or anythin'. Jus' whoever wins it, gets de sucker."

"Dat'll work." Emil laughed.

The two boys stood facing each other, hands held out in front of them in fists. They chanted in unison as they pumped their fists and on the word go the game was won and lost.

"Rock Paper Scissors Go!"

Emil's hand showed paper. Remy's was scissors. Emil sighed. "Darn you an' your scissors!" He laughed and handed Remy the last Tootsie-Pop. "You win. I should get back home. Papa's prob'ly wonderin' where I'm at by now..."

"Yeah..." Remy agreed. "An' maybe we should figure out a way to make Et less of a klutz so he can come wit' us next time, huh?"

"We'll see." Emil grinned as he headed out of the room and into the tunnels again. "Talk to ya later, Rem."