Thunderstorm yawned as she crawled under her bedsheets, her tank top and shorts letting cold breezes from the open window blast onto her.
The warm sheets and quilt feel great, she thought to herself. And Pineapple finally ate more food, and—
Thunderstorm froze mid-thought and looked around her room. It was dark, and empty. No other people were in there, the only large shadow being her bookcase-desk hybrid.
“TS. Wake up.”
“SWAMPY?!” Thunderstorm practically shrieked, launching into a sitting position and snapping a light on. “How are you—why are you—what?!”
Swampy sat down on Thunderstorm’s bed, smiling. Her pastel blouse had been swapped out for a heavy black jacket and a dark purple shirt, her black skirt now a pair of black jeans and combat boots. “Long story, but I got a tip on where some action may be tonight.”
Thunderstorm wrapped a sweater around her shoulders and looked over at Swampy as she swung her legs over the side of her bed. “Why would I care, exactly?”
Swampy flinched slightly at the harshness of Thunderstorm’s remark. “…TS, dontcha remember?”
Thunderstorm sighed. “Remember what, Swampy? I just wanna go to bed.”
“Exploring buddies? From when we were younger?”
Thunderstorm’s eye twitched a little bit at the mention of it. “Swampy, that was years ago. We’re older now. We’re more mature.”
Swampy sighed. “I know, it’s just that I heard there might be a big fight.”
“And WHY would I want to get involved?!” Thunderstorm burst, crossing her arms defensively. “I don’t want to fight this late at night. My coordination is wonky.”
The two sat side-by-side the dimly lit room in silence for minutes. Swampy reached over and grasped Thunderstorm’s hand softly, her complexion worried.
“…TS, I don’t want to lose what we used to have. Please. Just one night.”
Thunderstorm knitted her brows together, leaning onto Swampy’s shoulder.
“…okay. Where are we going?”
“A place called the Happy Hardcore club. And you’ll NEVER guess where I got the tip from.”
Toffee stretched as she inhaled a bit, looking fairly tired as she trekked down the road.
Natalie held her head high as she speed-walked throughout the streets, a determined look expressed upon her face. Her jaw set tight, she clenched her fists as she marched down.
“Nats?” Eureka questioned, leaning forwards as she walked. “You okay?”
Natalie jumped in shock from the sudden question. “Y-yes, Miss!” she exclaimed, spinning around as she continued to walk. “I’m perfectly fine. Uh..uh, uh! We’re here!”
Eureka nodded, her gray-blue hair falling into her eyes. “Yep, this is the place.”
Ishmael rose his eyebrows in shock, taking a small step back. “Uh, are you sure you wanna go in here?” he said, voice raising in the end with uncertainty. As if he was…afraid of the building?
Ishmael had no reason to be afraid of the building, after all. It was a stuffed animal store, of all places. It was a neat little shop, the exterior done in pastel colors. The sign read in looping print: “The Enchanted Plush Shop”, giving a very aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Toffee shot him a cold look as she continued to braid her brown locks nervously, her expression countering her actions. “Of course we want to go in. This is where we’ll get information.”
Natalie nodded, pushing her purple hair out of the way as she straightened the collar on her flannel shirt. “Let’s go, then.”
Rebel groaned softly as she leaned around the corner, Snowfall leaning below her. The two had their gazes fixated on the quartet entering the building.
“I just hope Chan doesn’t go out of her workshop,” Snowfall whispered. Blonde strands of her hair fell into her cold gaze as she murmured, “Wait, why would she? She doesn’t leave it. Ever.”
Rebel sighed as she leaned down a bit, flipping her red hair over her shoulder. “This situation is worse than the pomegranate juice commercial with the dolphin impaling that guy.”
Snowfall puffed out a breath with annoyance, sweeping her hair out of her face and standing up properly. “Whatever. Let’s just follow them, okay?”
Upon entering the plushie store, the smell of fabric and cotton candy was pungent in the air. Plushies, looking as if they were asleep on the walls, toppled on top of each other as the group proceeded through the store.
Ishmael seemed more apprehensive, more nervous than usual. His hands were clenched tight into his palms and he looked fairly freaked out, maned wolf ears alert and snapping around at every little noise. His expression could be seen to be a false, strained calmness (evident, albeit his mask covering his mouth). Nyx had switched from clinging to Eureka’s leg to his, which could be an added part of the stress.
Speaking of Nyx, the eleven-year-old was clinging tightly to the denim fabric of Ishmael’s jeans, not letting go. Her bat wings were sticking straight out and she didn’t bother to pull them back in, carelessly knocking over displays of stuffed bears with missing eye buttons. Her mouth was twisted into a small pout as she continued to rise up and down with each thunk! of a step that Ishmael took.
Toffee, however, couldn’t be more calm. She continued to let out her signature shriek of joy as she bounded around, fangirling over each and every stuffed animal. Her cat ears bobbed up and down as she beamed, whipping her hoodie off and tying it around her waist. Her freckled shoulders gleamed in the harsh light with a slight sweat (the room wasn’t exactly cold, you know.)
“Ah~!” Toffee squealed, clutching a narwhal close to her chest. “Look at it’s cute widdle eyes! And the horn, and…ahhh!!”
Eureka chuckled. “Made by the ringleader herself.
“Keep it down, willya?” Nyx groaned as she rubbed her ear. “You’re louder than a foghorn.”
Natalie bobbed her head. “We’re in.” Sweeping a rose-colored curtain aside, she motioned for the three to duck under.
Mere seconds later, the group was in a stark, white hallway with a single white door. Natalie looked around before banging on the right wall, the left wall, and the right again, the door magically sliding open.
“Follow me,” she sing-songed, her voice sounding melodious and entrancing. The trio complied immediately but shook out of the short spell to enter what…seemed like a completely different world.
Hot pink and cyan blue spotlights illuminated the dark wood room, with pictures askew on the walls and massive stuffed animals everywhere. A fighting stage was nearby, minuscule and compact: definitely not made for Rhythm Access fighters. A small, circular counter held a tiny menu with neon-colored concoctions upon each counter. Teenage girls were the main occupants of this…area, each clutching a plushie of some sort or another. The music blaring out of the speakers only brought the world to life, the song being “Twinkle Wink” by Sanaas & Hurce.
Toffee’s expression looked as if she was in sensory overload, a big, goofy grin lighting up her face. She clutched her hands tightly together, squealing softly as she walked in. Ishmael didn’t lose the tension in his body as he walked through, eerily on edge. And Nyx…Nyx just continued to cling onto Ishmael’s leg, eyebrows raising up every now and then at a familiar face.
Eureka and Natalie, however, couldn’t be more calm as they walked through. Natalie drew her hair into a messy bun as she called over her shoulder, “So, it’s info y’all need?”
Ishmael elbowed Toffee sharply and Toffee burst to attention. “Y-yes!”
Natalie nodded sharply. “I see. Hey, Violet!” she called out, pointing to a reasonably short girl who had blonde hair and purple streaks: the girl who fought Fairy in the arena earlier.
Violet looked up from her stuffed rabbit and pink ice cream float to stare at Natalie. “Yes? Oh, hello, Nyx.”
Nyx waved in a short manner, finally letting go of Ishmael’s leg and crawling over to a nearby chair, dragging it over and plopping down in it as she brushed her hair out of her face
Natalie stretched and yawned as she walked over, sitting down across from her in a casual manner. “Any new info?”
Violet shook her head, dyed locks bobbing as she signaled disagreement. “Firework’s been doing the majority of reporting. Talk to her. I don’t wanna get involved with anything like this. Hey, did you hear about the woman in Beat who attacked an 8-12 worker with nacho cheese? It was in the newspaper.”
Natalie grimaced. “…do you really think I read the newspaper, Violet? The only time I ever read it was when Nyx told me that she got an article in the paper dedicated to her. Turns out, it was about her getting her hand stuck in the locked tips box attached to the wall at the Lofi club—"
Nyx laughed in a sharp, abrasive manner. “Yeaaaaaah. Can we not bring that up again?”
Violet shook her head. “I will never, ever, ever, let that go.”
“Great,” Nyx frowned. “Peachy. Whoop-de-do perfect. Diddly darn dandy. Overwhelmingly—”
“How many synonyms for great do you even have?” Natalie asked, her voice all over the place.
Nyx snapped her head to stare directly at Natalie. “Too many for a mere mortal to comprehend.”
Ishmael turned away from the conversation between the smaller girls. “I’m not gonna bother with…whatever this is.”
Eureka shrugged, responding with, “Have fun looking for clues. Just watch out. Chan might send out an animal or something. You never know. I mean, uh, you don’t know for sure.” Eureka ran her hands through her short hair as she continued to contemplate. “Or maybe ‘Be careful’ is better?”
Ishmael sighed. “…whatever. I’ll be back. Toffee, you coming?”
Toffee rocketed over. “Definetely.”
The duo paced around the neon-lit room, magenta lights shining dimly. Teenage girls of all shapes and sizes, ranging from wintertime fairies fluttering beneath stools to giraffe-human hybrids, brushing the ceiling. Each clutched a small stuffed animal near them and talked quietly with one another. Almost as if the entire room was a scene from a lucid dream.
Toffee seemed to tense up yet again, focusing on the dark corner of the room. Poking Ishmael’s loose, plaid sleeve, she hissed, “Ishmael. Look.”
The maned-wolf hybrid turned around, ears shooting up in surprise. His eyebrows raised as a fluffy blue blur darted out from the corner, zipping from underneath each table. The blur quickly progressed forward and leapt onto Ishmael’s leg without a sound, latching on and climbing up. It could be seen as…a stuffed bunny?!
“What the—?!” Ishmael exclaimed, slapping at the small stuffed animal who immediately lunged for his pocket. The bunny had found what it wanted, so it flipped off with a large rectangle of leather.
“Your wallet!” Toffee exclaimed in surprise, her cat ears flicking up in surprise. Her tail waved back and forth as she lunged after the bunny, a grin upon her face (revealing tiny canines). She leapt like a feline from table to table, not hesitating to knock them over as she chased them.
The bunny immediately flew through a small, dog door lodged into the wall, no visible door in sight. The dog door seemed to lead nowhere, which Toffee crashed into the wall and sighed in disappointment.
Ishmael cursed under his breath as he looked inside of the small dog door, crawling to his feet once again. “Why a dog door in the wall?”
Out of nowhere, a portion in the wall slid back and revealed a secret door, creaking open and coated in presumably fake cobwebs.
The entire club didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact Toffee had smashed into tables and ran into a wall, or the fact that Ishmael was robbed by a stuffed animal, or the fact that there was a secret door in the wall. In fact, it all felt normal.
Toffee looked at Ishmael, eyes brimming with excitement. “You comin’?”
Ishmael shook his head, ears pressing down. “I’m done with adventuring. Scream if you need anything, kiddo.”
Toffee grimaced. “…Ishmael, I’m fifteen.”
“Like I said, have fun, kiddo."
Toffee frowned and exhaled. “Okay, I’m off.” Slipping into the dark, Toffee’s tail was the last thing seen before she slid in.
//this took me forever to write
//i've been so busy
//ahh i hope you guys like it
//i am so sorry this took forever