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The Density Of Overworked Toppats

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For being a criminal boss, he had far too much paperwork.

Henry gently set his top hat aside so he could press his head to the desk. There seemed to be paperwork for everything, and for a person who became a criminal to avoid that, it was hell.

He hadn’t been able to sleep for three days, a new record for him. First there was helping to troubleshoot the new engine modifications, then he had to supervise a heist, and then he had to do the damn paperwork for the heist. His head felt like a top that was spinning in a ball of steel wool.

And Ellie couldn’t even help because she was out directing and planning an important heist herself. He couldn’t ask her to split herself in two directions at once.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t tempted to.

There was a soft click from outside the door and Henry reached without looking for his hat. He gave up halfway and just set it awkwardly on top of his still slumped form. Whatever. Still good hat etiquette.

“What are you doing.” Reginald said. Oh. Yeah. He and RHM were coming down to discuss another raid. Because Henry had meetings now.

”Paperwork. Why.” Henry signed without looking up. It probably wasn’t too garbled to read.

“You’re not doing paperwork.” RHM said. Henry dragged himself up so he could glare at him.

It had been six months since the jungle base launch. Reginald and Right had slowly warmed up to Henry being the leader when he proved he actually did care for his new gang. But he couldn’t exactly say he was close to them, even with them being one of the higher ups of the hierarchy.

That didn’t mean they didn’t like to mess with him. Constantly.

”Why does it exist.” He signed slowly. They were starting to get better at his slapdash version of signing, but he still had to slow down for them.

“To torture people who ran unfair coups.” Reginald said promptly because he was a jerk who enjoyed Henry’s pain. “Let me guess, that military job?”

Henry nodded, then immediately regretted it when the room started to spin a little bit. He set his head on the table again.

There was a short laugh, and a gloved hand pressed on his forehead, moving him so they could slide the sheaf of paperwork out. Henry groaned, making grabby hands for it back.

Reginald clicked a pen, sitting on top of his desk like the jerk he was. “I’m declaring myself your deputy. Go get some sleep, you look like hell.”

”You can’t do that.” Henry said. Could he? He couldn’t quite remember right now.

“It’s called delegation and I’ve done it before. You’re just too bullheaded to think of it.” Reginald said with a sniff. “If the government showed up right now, you’ll be useless. Right, can you take him?”

Henry made a grumbling noise as strong arms hefted him up and out of the chair. “Ya liar. Ya used to do the exact same thing. Drag ya out every weekend.”

“Well, I don’t have to anymore.” Reginald said primly. “So now I’m the one who gets to be insufferable about it.”

Henry gave up, passing out before he could hear anymore.

He was in a far better mood when he woke up. That mood went downhill as soon as he opened his eyes to Ellie’s face inches from his own.

“Looks like sleeping beauty finally started to wake up.” She said, tilting her hat up. “You’ve been asleep for a day now.”

“What did I miss?” Henry said, his voice scratchy from disuse. He sat up, rubbing at his head. The worn feeling was almost gone now, replaced by the grogginess of sleeping for too long.

“Nothing much. Crew’s apparently used to their leaders overworking themselves. Reginald had it pretty well in hand by the time I got back.” She said. “Why’d you make him deputy? Could have just called me.”

“He made himself deputy.” Henry said. He reached for his hat that was lying on the nightstand. “You were busy.”

Ellie rolled her eyes. “I can delegate a heist. I’m supposed to be there for you.” She said. Henry waved a hand. “I’m going to get Right to tell me how he kept Reginald in line.”

“You wouldn’t.” Henry said. “He hates talking to you.”

“He suggested it.” Ellie said smugly. “Said if the new leader was going to be a moron, the new right hand moron should be prepared for it.”

“Traitor.” Henry said.

“You love me. Don’t lie.”

“I’ll think about that.” Henry said, sliding out of bed. Time to catch up on work again.

The rest did do wonders for his mood. Reginald had kept everything running without trying for a coup, which made Henry so cheery he gave them the all clear on the heist the pair had been pitching.

He felt far less cheery towards them a month later when Reginald and Right invaded his office once again.

”Babysitters.” Henry signed slowly. They even had a little permission note from Ellie. It had a smiley face on it.

He knew that she had been far too happy about heading out again for another topside raid. He turned away from them, grabbing the paperwork pile he was working on. ”Go away.”

“Fine.” Right said. There was the click of the door opening and shutting. Henry closed his eyes as Reginald settled himself into the chair across from him.

“Don’t be so glum.” Reginald said conversationally. “I had to have a babysitter too. It was Sven.”

Henry gave up on his ability to make Reginald leave. Authority what? He was just a guy with a fancy hat and too much paperwork.

”Don’t you have anything better to do?” Henry signed. Laughter was his only reply. Fine. Henry went back to his paperwork, ignoring Reginald. The man didn’t seem to care though, pulling out his own series of reports and setting to work on them.

It was oddly nice. Henry usually preferred to work alone, but working in silence together was… okay. Good. No pressure to talk. He almost missed Reginald when the man finally had to leave.

But he was right there in his office again the next day. They went through it for almost a week before Henry finally gave up on ignoring the man and pointed out a small mistake in Reginald’s plans.

”Vent’s too easy.” Henry signed. Reginald glanced up at him.

“What is that supposed to mean?” He said. “Explain it to someone who doesn’t make it an extracurricular habit to hang around in vents.”

Henry had no shame. Those were the best places to hang out in.

”Large enough for a normal person. But no marked blockages. Too easy. It’s a trap. They got security.” Henry signed. He had run into one of those before. It was a good assumption that for a room housing a museum’s most prized artwork, it would be the same.

“I’ll make a note of that.” Reginald said. “Don’t forget the forms for weaponry requisition, those are due next week.”

And that was the new routine. Collaboration on the occasional plan or paperwork. It was comfortable. Maybe that’s how Henry managed to mess it up.

It was at their quarterly meetings where everyone gave their proposals and plans, as well as their results. Henry had created it because it was far easier for others to explain what was wrong with a plan than for him to do it alone for everyone’s plan.

“I will be gone for a week.” Ellie said. “Running our new recruits through the ropes. Sven will be coming with me.”

Looking back at it, Henry can say what came next was probably caused by accumulated bad luck from every heist that should have failed or killed him.

He looked at Reginald and signed, ”So I can expect you in my room again then?”

Ellie shrieked with laughter and fell off her chair. Right’s glass cracked from how hard he was holding it. Reginald’s shoulders were shaking with laughter as he nodded. And everyone was staring at him.

Henry gave up on the day and went to lock himself in his office.

The next time Reginald walked in, Right followed him. The man practically threw himself down in the chair next to Reginald’s, glaring at Henry.

Henry looked at his paperwork and debated the merits of escaping into the vents. Not good. He was pretty sure Right could follow him into there.

“Hey sweetheart.” Reginald purred because Reginald did not care if Henry died today.

“I-“ Henry cleared his throat. “I’m sorry about bringing it up.”

Silence. Henry glanced up. Even Right had briefly dropped the murderous stare.

“Never heard you talk before.” Reginald said. Henry felt his cheeks warm. He didn’t like to talk much but it seemed appropriate to do so here. “It’s fine really. Most of the higher ups know that leaders get a new person assigned to them when the right hand is out.”

Henry nodded, his cheeks still flushed in embarrassment. “I know, I just know you have that thing with Right-“

“What thing?” Right interrupted.

”You’re together?” Henry signed awkwardly. The two stared at him and now it was their turn to go red.

“We’re not together!” Right snapped, bright red. Reginald tipped his hat low over his face, trying to hide his own redness.

Henry glanced back and forth between them. “I’m gonna call Sven.” He said slowly. “You guys go on a mission. Together. Good luck.”

He was immensely smug when the two came back from their mission with rumors already swirling about their relationship. Finally. How could they not notice?

And it even made things easier now that the two had better talking skills! Right hung around in their sessions more, but seemed more relaxed the entire time. Eventually discussions became more and more off topic. They were easier to hang around so Henry didn’t even think twice about occasionally accepting their invitations to do things.

Until one day when Reginald leaned over his desk and said: “We’ve been trying to flirt with you for two months.”

“What?” Henry said, flustered. “When?”

“And ya said we were dense.” Right said. “Reg’s been giving you dancing practice, me and you have weapons practice so often everyone knows where ta find ya when they happen. And-“

“I’ve been wearing my good cravat! The flirty one!”

“Reg’s been wearing the flirty cravat.” Right finished. “Ya want ta do this or not?”

Henry glanced in between them. More time with them had exposed him to some of their good points and qualities. And they were very handsome people. “Fine by me.” Henry said.

The ensuing kisses were almost worth Ellie teasing him so hard, he fled into the vents.

Okay. Maybe they were worth it. And the heists were worth it too.