A Fine Line is the thirteenth chapter of Lissa's Game High fanfic, Pixels and Polygons. It can be read below.
A Fine Line Edit
Takashi awoke to blurry thoughts, vague intuition, and the thick smell of Prisoner’s Honey stuck to his nostrils. That...Probably wasn’t a good sign. He sat up slowly, wiping at his nose, then yawned and stretched. His wings extended, his tail slipped into a more comfortable position, and Takashi felt…
Wait a moment.
Takashi looked down at his hands, then gasped, falling out of bed in a disgraceful heap. Wh-what the--!? His hands quickly worked to prod around his body, feeling horns, a tail, w-wings--
Oh no, oh L.O.G. no, this couldn’t be happening.
Oh, Weber made that bat stop screaming, alright. He’d done a lot more then that, too. How could he be so stupid!? Swallowing back the initial rush of panic and fear, his mind went off in search of the appropriate spell (what was the issue, one corner of his mind crooned, everything was just fine, you’re just fine...What was up with that?), and with a slight nervous laugh he flicked his wrist. An illusion of his former self cloaked over his newfound Darkling body, though it flickered and stuttered like it was but a mere shaky hologram. Takashi made some coaxing hand gestures, the illusion following suit, and the illusion seemed to harden and solidify. He stopped moving. Well, he at least looked like himself now--That was something. As long as nobody ran into his wings and tail--They may be covered, but they were still there. Just had to find Weber and…
The room divider scraped against the floor. Honey popped into view, her pajamas still horribly rumpled (consisting of an oversized t-shirt and shorts) and her bright red hair still in a sloppy bun. She rubbed crust out of her eyes, squinting at Takashi. The wizard was still on the floor in a clumsy sort of heap, holding his hands in a vaguely magical way. Honey blinked. “...’Zis some kinda wizard thing?”
“Um...Yes. It...Is.” Takashi quickly scrambled to his feet. “I, um, if you don’t mind, I need to go see Mr. Weber--Right now--So--” He shot her something of an apologetic smile before pushing her off to the side and dashing out of the door, leaving a rather baffled and still half-asleep Honey in his wake.
Down the hall, through the dorm commons, pass a few students up earlier than him, turn left, left again, count the doors, one two three--What’s the rush? Don’t you feel better this way, better, better, stronger?--Four five!
The Advanced Magic Use classroom was dark. Takashi blinked once or twice, then leaned into the window at the top of the door, cupping his hands around his eyes to try and take a look around. This proved fruitless, so he struggled with the doorknob, but it was locked. He frowned with a loud huff, his fingers twitching involuntarily, and there was a click. Blink, blink. Takashi tried the doorknob again, and it was open this time.
Oh, good. Darkling magic could unlock doors.
Didn’t take away from everything wrong with it at this exact moment, but still.
The door was thrown open, and Takashi stepped into the classroom. The secret closet was sealed up once more, the little door on Weber’s desk. The classroom itself was deserted. “Weber!” He hissed loudly, eyes darting around, but the trickster wasn’t keen on coming when called. Unless…
Takashi’s eyes went wide, and his body tensed up slightly.
Unless he wasn’t coming at all.
“...Voltar didn’t even sound mad. More...Disappointed. It was actually worse than if he were really angry. He asked about the bug, and I assured him...He said he believed me, that nobody really thought that I was the perp, but I don’t know if that was just some white lie.”
Sofia nodded sympathetically, wrapping up her other hand with bandages. She had been punching things a lot recently, and she didn’t exactly want to injure herself in one of her sparring bouts to get out some anxiety. “Suena horrible. They didn’t call your papa, did they?”
Vanessa shook her head, shifting her position on Sofia’s bed. “No, no. Thank L.O.G., right? I was worried he would. Add insult to injury.”
“They call papa, I may as well gut myself! I couldn’t let him down like that!”
“Same here, Flamenco. Same here.”
There was a slight pause, Sofia finishing the wrappings on her right hand. Then she glanced back up at Vanessa. “You hear about GG?”
“I know of her, I don’t know what happened recently, kinda preoccupied.”
“You didn’t hear?” Sofa blinked, seeming pretty surprised by this development. Vanessa shook her head, shifting once more. “She was delivered to Mirania in a jar. Got all...Um...Torn up. Nobody’s really sure how, still tryin’ to patch her all up, text box still isn’t working.”
The spy’s mouth fell into a frown, a sound between a sigh and a groan being emitted. “Ugh, last thing we need is something else making people disappear.” She noted Sofia’s awkward shift as she said such a thing, and Vanessa quickly looked away. “I mean...Sorry. But...You don’t think, y’know, they’re connected or something, right? The events?”
Sofia didn’t get the time to reply. The door to her room suddenly burst open, and standing in the doorway was a rather frazzled-looking Takashi. Both girls blinked at him, horribly confused, but the wizard had to take a few moments to catch his breath and collect his bearings. “You--” Despite the time he took to regroup himself, his voice was still a little breathy. “You haven’t--Maybe--Seen Mr. Weber around, have ‘ya? It’s, um, it’s really, it’s kind of--It’s important.”
“No recientemente.” Sofia said with a little shrug, brushing some hair off of her shoulder. “Triste.”
“What d’ya need him for?” Vanessa perked up slightly, eager for the distraction, feeling around her sleeves until she pulled out a notepad and stubby pencil from her shoulder. She flipped through to a new page. She didn’t have much time to continue her psychological profile on the villain as of late, but now was as good of a time as any. “Don’t just say ‘magic stuff’, I see that answer coming.”
Takashi’s throat went dry. His hands began to go to their usual place where they’d fiddle with his cape, but then he abruptly pulled them away, flinching. “Um…” A swallow, and he took a few nervous glances around the room. “L-last night, he, um. He and I...Ran into...Each other, and, um, and I think he might have...Taken something. Of mine.”
“I--Um, I can’t be--Sure. It’s, um, it’s a magic thing. A spell or something. I just...I feel like something’s...Missing. And...I want it back. Whatever it is.”
This answer was incredibly noncommitting and Vanessa didn’t look all too satisfied with it. She wrote it down anyhow, glancing up at Takashi with lowered eyelids. “Of course, of course, likely story. Now--You know anything about the GG thing?”
Vanessa exhaled and pointed her pencil at Sofia. The Spaniard quickly recapped what she told Vanessa only moments before, punctuating this with a quick nod. The spy’s eyes swiveled back towards Takashi, tapping her pencil on the notepad with an expectant look. “Standard investigation, you see. I can’t pull answers out of a hat here. So spill, you know what made this glitch’s game lock up?”
He paused, blinking, backing up one or two steps. “Really?” Takashi murmured in shock, glancing away momentarily, rubbing the back of his neck. That sounded--He didn’t want to say ‘familiar’, but it was, it really was. That corner of his mind, the one that kept insisting everything was lovely and that he deserved this, began to speak again. She won’t bother you. Isn’t that nice? You were so happy doing it, too, you were smiling. You should smile more. Smile for yourself. She’s gone. Doesn’t that make you happy? No wonder Darklings were usually so bent for destruction, Takashi found it was a little too easy to listen to this mental crooning and buy into it’s words. “That’s--That’s horrible.” He eventually said, Vanessa noting his sudden hesitant shift. “But...I--I haven’t heard anything about it ‘till now. It’s horrible! It’s...L.O.G., I’m sorry. I should...I need to find Mr. Weber, right now, I’ll say hello to her and…” Vanessa cocked an eyebrow at his eagerness to leave, tutting under her breath. Takashi swallowed hard, creeping towards the doorway. “Sorry. I should go now.”
“Bueno, él está actuando raro.” Sofia eventually piped in, and Vanessa nodded slightly, writing this down. If the fox actually understood the Spaniard, however, was a little more up in the air. “You’re okay, right, Takashi?” She looked at the magician earnestly, brown eyes glinting. “I mean, heh, I don’t have any good pep talks for you, but…”
“I’m fine.” He answered quickly, shuffling another frantic pace back. Vanessa’s eyes rolled up to look at his face, and he swore if she stared any harder the illusion would have shattered then and there. “Fine. Look, I’m just gonna--See you!” He waved, then quickly turned around and scampered out of the doorway, shutting the door for a moment.
There was a moment of silence, then Sofia looked to Vanessa, worry crossing the former’s features. “Are you sure he’s fine?”
Vanessa shook her head, eyes skimming her notes once more. “He was definitely lying about something. Problem is,” Here she slumped a bit, tapping the eraser of her pencil against the corner of her mouth. “I don’t know what.”
The sound of a cutlass hitting brass knuckles is not ‘ting’. But it was a sound sort of like ‘ting’. It might have been ‘ting’ if the brass knuckles weren’t currently being worn by a Spaniard. The point being, Honey and Sofia were in one of their sparring matches, as usual. Despite the bandages Sofia had wrapped around her hands for protection, the pirate still refused to get into a ‘proper and fair’ fistfight (“Pirates ain’t proper or fair, that’sa fact.”) and had opted to try and slice Sofia up with the cutlass. Sofia, of course, didn’t want to lose fingers from just a friendly little fight, so on went the brass knuckles and the fight commenced. Hence, ‘ting’. ‘Ting’. ‘Ting’.
“Hey,” Sofia finally piped in, stepping to the side and clapping twice before throwing a punch, “Y’know what’s up with Takashi?”
Honey held the cutlass so that the face of it protected her stomach, like a shield. The brass knuckles clanged against the sword. “Y’gotta stop telegraphin’ your attacks.” She snickered, shaking her head. “Anyway, Takashi? Yeah, I dunno. Wake up and he’s on the floor, what’s up with that?”
Sofia pulled her fist back, shaking her hand out. “C’mon, c’mon. Venga, ven a por me. Did he ever find Weber?”
The sword playfully swung to the left, and Sofia hopped out of the way. Of course she did. Honey had Sofia’s fighting style pretty much down pat, but she wouldn’t tell the Spaniard that to her face. “Didn’t ‘ya hear the announcement? Gone. No evidence or nothin’ this time, up-and-left. But, between you and me?” She grinned wide, a cheeky sort of smile. “I think he just ditched to save his own skin. Coward.”
“Toro!” A punch thrown, a punch blocked. Sofia bounced back a bit, hopping in place to keep herself pumped up. “Y’think Weber would just leave like that? Magic makin’ people disappear--Sounds like his sort of thing.”
“Yeah, but you heard Layton--It ain’t Weber doin’ it. So he doesn’t wanna vanish ‘cause he ain’t in control’a that situation. So it’s all cowardice.” She stuck the cutlass into the gym mat below them, leaning on the hilt in a surprisingly casual manner. “Takashi--Aw, he’s just a numbnut, forgetta ‘bout him. Ain’t ‘cha more concerned with Simon?”
This question made Sofia’s bouncing stop. She scratched the back of her neck, looking away sheepishly, refusing to meet Honey’s gaze even when the pirate tilted her head to get a better look at her. “Por supuesto que estoy muy preocupada por él,” She muttered in a surprisingly timid fashion for Sofia, “Pero, qué podemos hacer? But what can we do?”
Honey frowned. She may not have been able to understand the specifics of Sofia’s lapse into Spanish, but she understood the feeling loud and clear. She got off from leaning on her sword and walked over to Sofia, putting her hand on her bare shoulder. “Hey,” She grinned a toothy sort of grin, pulling her hair down from her scrunchie. “If there’s one thing I know about pretty boy? He ain’t gonna be gone for long. Pretty boy is still a pirate.”
She looked up at Honey tentatively, blinking. But sometimes, Honey’s smiles could be contagious. The Spaniard smiled back widely at the pirate, who laughed a bit before teasingly pulling one black rose out of her hair. Sofia yelped with a slight giggle, swiping for it, shouting “Olé!” before throwing a punch. Honey scampered back, twirling the flower between her fingers. “Told ‘ya callin’ your punches gets ‘ya nowhere! So what, these roses magic or somethin’, what do they do ‘zactly?”
“They just changed color! Give mi rosa back!”
“I will once you perk up, goofball!”
“Consider myself perked! Now, return it immediately, before I toss you a rose flurry! Uno, dos, tres…”
Honey returned to her dorm, raking her fingers through her hair, only to hear Takashi muttering anxiously from behind the room divider. “Hey, Takashi, you doin’ okay?”
He gave a small yelp before poking his head around the divider. “Uh, of course! Why? I’m fine, heh.”
She didn’t believe him. But she also had other things to worry about. So she waved a dismissive hand, the wizard went back around the room divider, and she went back to her homework.
And to her plans to find Simon.
First Chapter: We Begin by Entering
Previous Chapter: The Powers that Be
Next Chapter: The Possible Perpetrators