Little Trouble in the Big Library
rating: +9+x

The alleyway was dim, obscuring the finer details of life. Telltale forms and figures were resigned to blurred amalgams of shadow, alleviated only by the few lights that clung to the brick walls, shining golden clarity.

The storm overhead roiled, lightning briefly flashing, overpowering faint yellow light. Standing under a rainsoaked eave, Laylaree Krissy leaned against the apartment complex behind her, the cigarillo in her mouth unlit. Her hands were tucked into the pockets of her trench coat, eyes hidden under a khaki fedora.

It's times like these that you start to wish "no smoking" signs didn't exist, she thought, her inner monologue gruff and cold.

When the rain falls and the dredges of the city come to life. They bloom under the moonlight, glowing like Casa Blanca lilies, their red droopings the blood spilled through misdeeds. Misdeeds committed by rats slinking in dark shadows and maligned morality. They hang in mid-air, suspended forever in the moment of passion which brought forth its spillage.

Krissy twisted her head, looking down the alleyway as a shadowy figure approached. She maintained her hard-boiled aura, all four of her eyes half-open in faux disinterest.

The sound of scuttling, chitin clacking, echoing off the cold pavement and stoic walls, is an omen heralding the beginning of something strange. My adrenal gland twitches, drip feeding me the urge to draw the cold steel resting quietly inside my coat, next to my brave, steady heart. That, or, sprint down the opposite way, duck into a corner, and pray the eternal judge of moonlight doesn't strike down my alibi of shadow with her luminescent gavel.

The figure approaches swiftly, their strange silhouette muddled by a fog rising from a grate, hazy and unintelligible, but they're rapidly drawing closer, the curtain soon to be pulled back on the act coming to stage.

Breaking through the fog illuminated to a snow-white, a Page quickly scuttled over to Krissy, its head tilted into the air slightly as a snuffling sound broke out, a book titled Tracer Bullet — The Orange and White Stripes grasped reverently in its front hands.

+ah. here we are,- it spoke into the psychic ether, its "voice" soft and unintrusive, smelling of lilac, as it stopped next to Krissy. +please excuse me, Wanderer.-

Krissy scooted over a couple feet and the Page reached out toward the wall, the brick facade falling away in a vapor to reveal a bookshelf. The Page traced its finger across a shelf until it found the gap, sniffed the spines to double check, then slotted the book it held back into place.

+please be sure to return the complimentary fedora before you leave,- it reminded her before scuttling back the way it came.

Krissy scooted back into position, the brick wall already reformed, ready to get back to brooding, when a sequence of digital chirps sounded out from her hip. Krissy reached down and plucked her pager from her waistband, pushing a little rubber button to silence it. On the thin screen, LCD letters spelled out "AML SRVC - NOT PCN," fully throwing her from her fantasy as she excitedly bounced in place.

Quickly running down the alleyway, she turned the first corner she saw and was suddenly fully dry and warm, bathed in the gentle yellow-gold light of the Library. The white noise of the storm was replaced by a general murmur of patrons whispering. She quickly plucked the khaki fedora off of her head and laid it on a nearby desk before speed walking away. The Librarian attending the desk grinned at her as she left, revealing rows of bristles, and called out to her as she departed, "Thank you for returning your materials, please visit the noir stacks again soon!"

For the past few hundred or so years, Krissy had been in charge of the Animal Services sect of the Library, though "in charge" was something of a misnomer as it implied that there were other employees. Not that the lack of coworkers impacted her work, the Animal Service was rarely utilized as most non-sentient animals tended to be quite obedient and kind. The ones lacking manners typically had their caretakers sternly chastised by a staff member. On the opposite end, true nuisances were swiftly given the boot by a Docent. The only thing she dealt with on a regular basis was Parcoon, but, frankly, he was nothing but a minor annoyance. All he did was beg people for their food and make the occasional mess.

It had been a good decade or so since Krissy had been called to duty for something that wasn't caused by Parcoon, so she'd taken to exploring the Library more and more, taking in the sights and reading new things outside of her usual genre tastes. Recently, she'd fallen in love with noir, reading about sulking, gritty detectives who closed cases and saved dames. Some had been so bold as to critique out her, as they put it, obsession with it as she bought a specially made trench coat that accommodated her carapace and seemingly took up smoking as she bought cigarillos and cigars from Wanderers. She'd never actually smoked one, smoking like that wasn't allowed in the Library, but she found that they could still offer pleasant experiences while normal cigarettes were in a constant state of being nasty.

Krissy sped through the Main Hall, dodging patrons and staff alike, garnering multiple cries of annoyance, before she finally reached her office, a Docent and a patron standing outside her door. Seeing her arrive, the Docent slowly turned and slinked away, off to whatever duty it was compelled to.

Turning his head to follow the Docent, the patron jumped a bit when he saw her standing right next to him. He let out a sigh of relief, his fight or flight waning as the surprise melted away. He was a portly man, his stomach displacing denim overalls that sat over a faded red t-shirt, the legs tucked into worn boots covered in pale dried mud. Greasy black hair poked out from underneath a stained camo trucker baseball cap that read "Mossy Oak," complimenting his five o'clock shadow nicely.

"Aw, thank ya for gettin' here so quickly ma'am! That there Docent took 'count of my sit'ation and drug me on over here, had to charade me on pressing that intercom button. Thought I'd have ta talk to ya through it, get buzzed in or somethin', but then he jus' stood there all silent like. If I tried to walk away or somethin', he'd jus' nab my shoulder strap an' hold me still!"

Krissy made a quick mental note that the man was quite the talker, showing off his tobacco stained teeth as he grinned kindly all the while, his thumbs tucked into the pockets of his overalls.

"Oh, but where're my manners?" he said, pulling his left hand out and reaching out to Krissy. "The name's Jed, Jed Hargrove. Jed ain't short for nothin', jus' Jed."

Krissy grasped his palm, feeling the callouses, being sure to squeeze tight— but not too tight— as she drew from her knowledge of his people, remembering that they calibrated their opinions of strangers based on the firmness of their handshake. "My name is Laylaree Krissy, it is nice to meet you Mr. Hargrove. Most simply use 'Krissy' in reference to myself."

"Real nice to meet you, ma'am. Mighty fine handshake ya got there, too!"

Krissy performed a facsimile of his smile, both to return cultural pleasantries and because she was pleased with herself and her application of knowledge. "As do you, Mr. Hargrove."

"Aw, please miss, jus' call me Jed. Mr. Hargrove's too uptight for people'll be pals in the near future."

"As you wish, Jed."

Krissy opened the door to her officer, the displaced air kicking up a cloud of dust that drifted through the space. She hadn't realized just how long it'd been since she'd last used it until then, gazing inside and seeing that every inch of the place had been tinted gray. Krissy took her seat behind the desk sitting in the middle of the room, beckoning Jed to sit down on the chair in front of it. When he sat down, the seat blew out a thick cloud of dust from the cushion, causing Jed's eyes to water as he coughed and waved his hand to try to clear the air.

"I do apologize for the dust, Jed," Krissy offered, sliding a glass of water across the desk to him.

"No need miss, I get that e'ry creature's got different hospitable environments an' all'a that," he got out between coughs, gladly taking the offered drink before looking down to find that the water was also filled with dust. Krissy didn't have the requisite reservoir of pride to tell him that she just hadn't been in the office for around a decade so she decided to roll with the punches. She was now officially a dust-breather until Jed was gone.

Krissy leaned onto the desk, clasping her hands together. "Now, let us, as your people say, 'get down to eating these brass tacks.'"

Jed eyed her briefly before getting to his story. "Right, right. Well, a couple'a years ago I came to the Library for the first time— too long a story, involved a bathtub in my backyard, a Johnny Cash CD, an' my own bruised ego— an' when I was wanderin' 'round I stumbled on this weird dragon lookin' fella who's offerin' to sell me 'n egg a little bigger 'n my fist for a decent price." Jed held up a fist for comparison, Krissy nodding to show that she could see that his fist was, in fact, large.

"Seemed real eager to get rid'a it, all nervous an' shakin'. 'Course I had plans to make some sunny side the comin' Sunday mornin' 'fore service an' Ma always said I was 'exploritus' 'bout food, so I paid 'im and went on my way. I get home an' set the thing on my dinin' room table, step 'way for maybe ten minutes to go take a piss an' pack a lip, an' wouldn't you know it but I come back to find that there's a lil snout pokin' through the egg!

"Turns out, the bastard'd pawned off his offspring to me or somethin.' 'Course, now I couldn't cook the lil thing, so I jus' let her get out at her own pace as she ate some'a the shell, like a chick. She's a cute lil thing, all slimy an' blinkin' in the sunlight. Now, I had no idea how to care for a baby dragon, so I scooped her up, went back through my Way, an' got to learnin' myself how to be a good papa."

Krissy nodded some more, furrowing her brow as best she could to show that she was concerned. "So you are here for advice on raising an infantile dragon? Or looking for the one who sold the egg to you?"

"Oh, no ma'am! Like I said, that was a couple'a years ago now. She's all grown up, I think. Still real tiny, like a small dog. Naw, I'm here 'cause a few hours ago I got to readin' 'bout trout an' when I looked up she had up an' gone to God knows where! She's always been a bit of a wanderer, but ain't sure she can navigate this place. I'm real worried 'bout her, she's 'n anxious lil thing."

"I see. Well then, let us get to work so we can find… what is her name?"

"Well, she's had this weird brandin' on her neck since she hatched that said somethin' like 'Praenuntia Damnationis Aeternae,' but I jus' call her Pork 'n' Beans 'cause she loves Pork 'n' Beans," Jed declared with a smile.

Krissy's four eyes blinked out of sync. "Alright. Well then, let us get to finding Pork 'n' Beans."

Jed reached into the pocket on the chest of his overalls and procured multiple photos of Pork 'n' Beans, showing them to Krissy as she drafted up a missing poster. She was a small dragon, her scales a strange tortoiseshell pattern Krissy had never seen on a dragon before, the blending of browns, oranges, and some blacks and whites, especially around her snout, gave her the air of a mutt. Her eyes were the size of golf balls, big and beady, and her irises were a dark brown, giving the illusion of having one big pupil in most photos. Rich brown horns curved backwards from her forehead, down to her back where tan wings stretched to grey appendages.

As Krissy put the missing poster together, using two photos of Jed's choice, she began to feel a twinge of excitement. She hadn't realized it at first, but she was working a missing persons case, just like in some of her most recent noir novels. Not only was she back on the job in a real capacity, she was fulfilling her fantasy of being a detective in a mass market paperback.

Soon, they were clearing dust off Krissy's printer, blowing it out from crevices, and printing out posters.

MissingPosterYuleTide.png

Krissy wasn't going to tell Jed about how dismal the odds were— all she would have been able to promise was that she'd try her best— but when she looked at him she could swear that she briefly saw through a warbling façade, momentarily revealing a man who was well aware of the odds. He maintained the air of an easy-going man, but he truly was worried about Pork 'n' Beans' wellbeing.



Six hours into their campaign, Krissy and Jed sat in a small café, taking a break. Krissy silently imbibed a lemon vapor inhalant while Jed sipped sweet tea. Both felt discouragement radiating off the other as the true weight of the task had finally settled on them.

Jed looked down at his drink and grunted. "You'd think a drink place in one'a the smartest locales in existence would know that sweet tea an' cold tea with sugar in it are two very different things."

Krissy tilted her head at Jed. "What do you mean? Are they not the same?"

"Eh, I'm being egregious. More so in the prep of it, y'know?"

"No."

"Well, when you make sweet tea you mix the sugar in while it's warm, dissolves better like that 'n the water holds it better, then you chill it or add ice. It's basic chemistry."

"Interesting. I did not take you for a chemist."

"I ain't. Wanted to be one at some point but me an' my folks couldn't 'ford college, so I went to trade school an' became 'n electrician."

"I see."

"All good though, I enjoy my job, plus—"

Krissy's head suddenly shot straight up, taking Jed by surprise. She held it aloft, her neck completely stiff, as her eyes widened. A soft breeze of music wafted through her mind, whispering information in the form of sheetmusic and scripts to her.

"It is time to go, Jed."

"What happened?"

"I have just recieved a report, it seems that someone has spotted something in the audio/visual section."

"Alright, let's get goin' then!" Jed declared, jumping up with a new vigor.

The two ran off, Jed following Krissy as she expertly weaved through the stacks, suddenly grateful for all the time she'd had to properly explore the Library and learn some more intricate tactics for navigating it. She took little shortcuts she'd been shown or discovered, crawling through gaps in shelves, climbing Escher stairs, and compacting long stretches of distance. Soon, they came to the audio/visual section, quickly moving towards the music as she consulted the neural-mâché of information that had been relayed to her.

The scene was immediately apparent: a human Wanderer stood next to a massive shelf of destroyed vinyl records, nervously shifting around as a Docent leered over him, somehow giving off an aura of fury despite its placid expression. Seeing Krissy arrive on the scene, the Docent went on its way back to patrolling, but not before turning to the anxious Wanderer and looking him in the eyes without blinking for a few moment, nearly causing the poor human's knees to buckle.

"I don't think I'll ever experience mute fury like that again in my life," he said as Krissy approached, watching the Docent turn the corner with relief.

"Yes, Docents can be intimidating. Now, what is your name, sir?" Krissy asked, taking a notepad out from her trench coat pocket, Jed taking notice of a revolver grip that poked out of the same pocket.

"Linus. Linus Daglen." Krissy briefly wondered if this is how all humans introduced themselves, first name, then first name and last name, but quickly threw the thought away. It was a question for a later date.

"And what happened here?"

The human took a deep breath, regathering his composure. "Well, I was doing some research and I decided to listen to some music…"

Linus picked out a chair next to a shelf of records, setting his armful of notes and books on the table in front of it. After perusing the shelves in the area and choosing two records, he sat down and put the first one on deck, sliding headphones over his ears before carefully placing the needle. The music was a nice distraction from his woes and let him do research for a story he was writing in peace, even if only for a moment.

Around twenty minutes into his task, he felt something nudge against his leg. Taking the headphones off, he leaned over to find a small dragon inspecting his pantleg. Her scales were a strange tortoiseshell color and when she looked up at him it was with big eyes that seemed on the verge of tears despite her lack of tear ducts. Her head twitched a bit as her nostrils flared, smelling him, her whole body lightly shaking as he looked directly at her.

Linus gently set his headphones down on the table and began cooing at her, slowly lowering his hand down to her, letting her sniff it. Seemingly determining that Linus wasn't a threat, the dragon hopped up on the table, inspecting his books and notes, taking great interest in his headphones. Leaning down, she stuck one ear by a speaker, taking in the sound, before laying down and shoving her head in between the speakers, her tail lightly slapping against the table to the rhythm. Content to let his new friend enjoy herself, Linus let her keep listening to the music. She would occasionally look at him out the corner of her eyes, but whenever he'd look back she'd quickly pretend that she wasn't looking, stealing glances every now and then so she'd know when he wasn't looking again.

When this first album ended, the dragon got up from the table and walked off to one of the many shelves of records, using her teeth to pull one off after silently inspecting them. Walking back, she presented the record and Linus laughed, taking it in hand. She quickly nestled back into place with her head in the headphones as Linus put the record on.

Eventually, the B side came to an end and the music fell into silence with occasional popping. Linus picked the record up off the table, sliding it back into its sleeve and grabbed the other one he'd picked out earlier. The dragon watched all of this with wide eyes, not moving her body save for her tail and eyes. Even though he knew she wouldn't understand it at all, Linus decided to give her an introduction to the album he was about to put on, showing her the jacket, telling her about it, the story it told, that it was one of his recent favorites. She seemed interested in the album art, gazing at it and sniffing it momentarily before laying her head back down.

Linus started playing the album, so familiar with it that he could practically hear the metal guitar riffs sounding out, bringing her into a gasoline apocalypse. The little dragon, however, was not as enthused as Linus was about the music, jumping slightly, her eyes growing somehow even wider. Yet she didn't move away from the headphones, only shivered and whimpered a bit, like she was caught in a net of discomfort. Quickly, Linus reached over to turn it off, seeing that she wasn't enjoying it, but accidentally bumped the volume knob and shot the volume up, causing her to yelp and run off towards the shelf that was immediately in front of her. Ignoring her own wings entirely, hellbent of escaping the scary music, she tore through the levels, panting fire as she tried to climb, breaking shelves and records alike. Finally, she made it to the top and, seemingly remembering her capabilities, leaped off and glided away out of Linus' sight.

It was around then that the Docent showed up, ready to make Linus a staff member for a few centuries, before he began to stutter over an explanation.

"… and then he just stared off into the distance for a hot second, guess he was calling you up, huh?"

Krissy nodded, scribbling down a few notes. "Yes, that would be correct Mr. Daglen."

Jed broke into the conversation, harboring a few questions of his own. "What was it that you were listenin' to when Pork 'n' Beans first came over?"

"Who?"

"The little dragon."

"Her name's Pork 'n' Beans?"

"Yes, he named her Pork 'n' Beans, there is nothing strange about that, now please answer his question," Krissy threw in.

"Uh, In the Wake of Poseidon, why?"

"Ah, explains a lot. She's a real big fan'a prog. Got her her own library card here so she could check out some vinyls. Real picky."

Krissy stopped writing notes. "Prog?"

Jed looked at her, "Y'know, prog rock."

Krissy just stared back blankly.

"Progressive rock. Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes. Got synths that go like 'bvrewewewewewyaayeeoooowawawaaazweowmmm.'"

"I am sorry, I am not familiar with this 'progressive rock.'"

"Whatever, 'sides the point. It's one'a the only genres she likes. She's a real snob 'bout music, honestly."

"So she's a prog fan? Explains the record she brought me," Linus piped up.

"Which was?"

"Asia's self-titled album. Y'know the one with the—"

"The big dragon on it, yeah!" Jed interjected.

"I think it's a wyvern."

"Naw, it's a dragon I'm pretty sure. Anyways, yeah, that's one'a her favorite things to listen to. I think she jus' really likes the dragon on it. Loves to look at the art."

"She did seem interested in the other album's art, it has a big lizard on it," Linus added, pointing to a jacket that sat on a nearby table. "PetroDraconic Apocalypse, real good one."

"You said it was a metal album?"

"Yes sir."

"Ah, she hates metal. Makes her all nervous. Well, most things make her nervous, but metal 'specially."

Krissy butted back into the conversation, trying to move on with the investigation. "As fascinating as your strange culture can be, we must, as your people say, 'strike the iron while it is molten—'"

"Hot," Jed interrupted.

"Excuse me?"

"Phrase is 'while the iron is hot,' not 'molten.'"

"Well, regardless of what terminology is proper in the phrasing of the saying, we must be swift in our progression if we are to catch Pork 'n' Beans—"

Krissy was mercilessly interrupted again, this time by a faint, shrill scream coming from a few yards away. Leaving Linus to deal with the mess, Krissy and Jed sprinted off towards where it had come from. The scream would ring out again and again, as if on a timer, helping them to locate it as it got louder and louder.

They soon came upon the scene: a beetle-like man stood next to a pile of ash and was wailing incessantly, his top arms grasping his head in anguish.

"THEY'RE HERE! THEY'RE HERE! IT'S HAPPENING AGAAAIIINNN!"

Krissy walked up to the beetle-man, trying to calm him down. "Who, sir? Who is here? Who did this?"

"BOOKBURNERS! BOOKBURNERS! CAN YOU NOT SEE?!" he continued to shout, pointing at the ashes, the wood floor around the pile scorched.

The screaming was beginning to get to Jed, cutting into his nerves. "The hell's he on 'bout? Bookburners?"

Krissy gave a quick answer, more focused on calming the panicking patron down. "'Bookburners' is a derogatory nickname for the Global Occult Coalition."

"SOMEONE PLEASE GET A DOCENT!"

"Good Lord, the GOC's here?!"

Krissy turned to Jed with mild surprise. "You are aware of the Global Occult Coalition?"

"AN ARMY OF DOCENTS!"

"Yes ma'am, they been tryin' to get their hands on Pork 'n' Beans for a while now. Seems to be low on their list right now seein' as they only send errand boys with somethin' to lose an' I live in'a stand-your-ground state."

"THEY'RE GONNA KILL ME! I SHOULDA NEVER PROTESTED THEIR BOOK! OH MERCY, MERC—!"

Krissy smashed her hand past the beetle-man's mandibles, covering his mouth. The mandibles lightly gnawed at her hand as he tried to keep screaming, but the chitin on the back of her hand blocked any potential damage.

"Miss, I hope you know how to use that there pistol in your pocket, 'cause I ain't got no firearm on me."

"Excuse me?"

"I saw the grip pokin' out your pocket when ya fetched your notebook, that not a revolver?"

Krissy used her other hand to draw the gun from her coat pocket, pulling the hammer back before squeezing the trigger, eliciting a loud POP!, no projectile firing from the orange tip. "It is a toy."

Jed started at the toy gun in her hand, the body blatantly made of plastic painted chrome. Krissy seemed confused, "Surely you know that you are not allowed to carry a firearm in the Library as you are not wielding one yourself, as you stated before."

"'Course I know, jus' thought you maybe had, like, special privileges or somethin'. Mean, you get to smoke, 'parently," he retorted, pointing to the cigarillo in her mouth. Krissy responded by using her tongue to draw it in, chew it up, and swallow it. "They have a very lovely texture and flavor."

"Why carry 'round a toy gun?!"

"I have taken a liking to noir novels in recent years, which has bled into my boredom. I like to pretend that I am a noir detective."

"So you jus' really like human noir?"

"No, all noir is like this."

"Didn't realize it was such'a universal genre."

"A fascinating wrinkle, is it not?"

At this point, the beetle-man had calmed down and was tapping on Krissy's arm, trying to get her attention. Krissy, so engrossed in the conversation, didn't notice his attempts until he was practically slamming his fists down onto her forearm. Krissy withdrew her hand, letting the beetle-man speak freely. "Are you calm now, sir?"

"Not really, no! There's still some four-legged GOC cretin running around!"

"What do you mean?"

"Yeah, the cowards didn't even send in a bipedal grunt. They just brought some poor trained animal to do their dirty work!"

"Sir, please be specific," Krissy sternly demanded, trying to ignore the multitude of non-bipedal Patrons she'd seen just on the way over.

"It- it was this little dragon thing! Came over here and drug over and stacked up a bunch of books, set fire to them!"

"Now hold on, did the dragon happen'a be somethin' of a brownish color?"

"Yeah, yeah. Why?"

Jed sighed. "Yup, that was her. She likes to burn things when she gets all anxious, 's like a stress reliever or somethin'. Bad habit I been tryin' to break."

"So… it wasn't the GOC?" the beetle-man asked, his voice still slightly wavering.

"No, it wasn't. Bless your heart, you must see the GOC in e'ry shadow, huh?"

"No, that'd be stupid. I just know that if I see a fire, it's likely to be Bookburner shenanigans."

"Well, sir, we can now say with complete confidence that the Global Occult Coalition is not present."

"This was a waste'a time," Jed grumbled as the beetle-man walked away.

"I would not agree," Krissy said. "I believe I have something of a plan formulated now that we know she is potentially close to our present location."

"Oh? That so?"

"Yes, and we must be swift while she is still likely nearby."

"Alrighty. But it's kinda weird…"

"What?"

"That fella was hollerin' all the while an' there ain't a single Docent that come runnin'."

"You would be surprised how often a patron accesses something they were not mentally prepared for."

"Yeesh."



"I'm beginnin' to feel like a real moron," Jed grumbled, laying on his belly.

"'The best made plans of men and rats,'" was Krissy's response, laying on the floor next to him, a string in her hand.

Jed groaned and repeatedly hit his head against his forearms, trying to cope with the ridiculousness of the whole situation.

The pair were behind a shelf, peering to the other side through gaps between the books. Krissy's string ran through one of these gaps, leading to a scene straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon in Jed's eyes. Sitting in the middle of the aisle was an open can of pork 'n' beans and a record player that was playing Asia, "Sole Survivor" filling in the silence. Looming over it all was a large box, propped up by a ruler, which Krissy's string was attached to.

"This works, I'll eat my hat."

"You doubt my tactics?"

"Yes. We've been sittin' here for somethin' like an hour now seein' as I flipped the record over an' back already."

"Is patience not one of the Fruits of the Spirit?"

"Your continued half-right know-how of human culture is strange, ma'am. 'Sides, why even use a record, the flippin's kinda a disruption to the clandestine nature'a this whole shebang, ain't it?"

"By my estimations, Pork 'n' Beans is a veritable music sommelier. She appreciates the soundscape and warmth the vinyl record provides, qualities not found in compact discs and cassettes."

"Always 'spected she was a prick 'bout this kinda thing—"

Krissy interrupted Jed's sarcastic remark. "Look, look!" she hissed, pointing with her free hand.

Peering through the books, Jed could hardly believe his eyes. A few feet away from their ridiculous trap, Pork 'n' Beans had appeared and was inching towards the bait. Her head was down as she slinked forward, sniffing the area as she went.

"Well I'll be damned," Jed whispered.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, Pork 'n' Beans approached the trap, cautious as ever, twitching and backing away at the slightest sound no matter how far away it was. She was standing nearly in front of Jed and Krissy when she suddenly stopped. Her head, which had been lowered to the ground in a mixture of caution and the need to inspect everything, now pointed in the air, sniffing wildly.

Quickly, Pork 'n' Beans turned heel and dove through the books, a hardback smacking Jed in the face as she barreled through in excitement. She ran to Jed's back and placed her front two feet on it, licking his hat as she whimpered and chirped with delight at having found him.

"Alright, alright, calm down baby girl!" Jed gently cried out, poorly feigning annoyance. He lifted himself up, Pork 'n' Beans twisting around his legs as he brushed himself off. She looked up at him, her big eyes pleading, so he leaned down and picked her up. She let out a little hmp! has he lifted her, before licking his face as he cradled her and cooed, calling her Sweet Pea, baby, and other little nicknames.

Krissy stood up too, watching the two with a smile on her face, well pleased with her work. "It is good to see that she is alright."

"Yeah, it is. She seems just as happy to see me as I am to see her," Jed laughed as Pork 'n' Beans continued to lick his face and nuzzle his hand as he pet her, her wings partially unfurling and flapping slightly, tail rapidly swishing back and forth.

"And my brilliant trap worked, did it not?"

"I s'pose. Certainly got her o'er here."

"Then I believe I am owed a debt."

"Oh, like payment? Sure, sure. What do I owe ya?"

Krissy plucked the trucker cap from Jed's head and held it in front of him, wiggling it slightly as she looked at him expectantly.

"Oh c'mon, it was a turn'a phra—"

Jed didn't get to finish his thought as Krissy shoved the hat into his mouth, Pork 'n' Beans watching with some apprehension, very confused by the whole affair.

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