(The readers can see the authoress, dressed all in black, attempting to sneak out a window while Duke and Wildwing are angrily searching for her in the background. However, the silly girl has a cassette player on her hip that's playing the Pink Panther's song on repeat. It's only a matter of time…………)
Tanya: (Steps into view) Um, hi, uh, as you can see, it's kinda hectic around here right now. But at least she's got something out right? (No response, only grumpy and waiting glares) Well, let's move on now…….
Mallory: It can't already be my turn for this!
Siege: Oh boo hoo, just do it already!
Disclaimer: TinySprite owns nothing of the Mighty Ducks what so ever. Still doesn't stop Phil from trying to find something he can sue her for though and we wish him luck!
Duke parked the duck-cycle next to an 'employees only' exit to the building. He was still surprised that Wildwing had agreed to any of this, but then again, Nosedive proved to be the one controlling the strings with her little 'sad puppy' act.
Wildwing shook his head, "No Duke, no way."
The ex-thief sighed, just barely stopping himself from rubbing his forehead, "Wildwing, c'mon. It's the only way Nosedive will agree to do the interview. Besides, it's only this once."
The leader shook his head again, "Duke, I said no and that's exactly what I mean. Dragaunus has been too quiet recently and something about this doesn't feel right. I'll let her go if Grin and Mallory come with you."
Duke crossed his arms, trying to keep from snapping at the younger avian. His patience was already wearing thin from having to deal with Nosedive earlier.
"Wildwing, we both know Nosedive won't agree to that and it's just to Captain Comics! We'll be back to the Pond before nightfall!"
The white feathered mallard was about to continue on when a pair of peach feathered arms hugged him around the neck from behind. Both males were surprised to find that it was actually Nosedive who was doing that, Wildwing more so.
The teen smiled up at her older brother, "Hey, Wing. Just wanted to say 'thank you' in advance! I mean, I haven't been out to the mall in so long and that you're letting me go with just Duke is an improvement!"
Blue eyes blinked before looking back up into Wildwing's dark ones, slightly hesitant.
"You did agree to it, didn't you?"
Stuck for words, the older avian could only nod. Dive brightly smiled again, only for it to fall when Wildwing found his voice and said,
"But Grin and Mallory are going too."
The teen let go of her brother and stepped back, head tilted down and slightly to the side as her left hand came up to somewhat rub at her right elbow. Disappointment was badly concealed in her next words,
"Oh, okay. I see…."
Wildwing seemed to immediately regret his words.
"Dive, it's not like that. I mean-"
Nosedive cut him off softly,
"No, no. It's alright, Wing, honest. I mean, I am a teenager so it's to be expected that you wouldn't trust me…."
The taller drake was quick to respond,
"Listen to me Dive, it's not like that at all! I do trust you, it's just that with the absence of attacks from the saurians, I don't feel safe letting you go out without adequate protection."
"But in the end, doesn't that still mean that you don't trust me?" She seemed ready to go on only to stop herself and shake her head. "You know what Wing? Just forget it, it doesn't matter….."
Nosedive turned to walk away, looking more dejected than ever. Duke, who'd caught on to what Dive was doing, wisely kept his beak shut when Wildwing sighed and stepped forward to place a hand on his sister's shoulder.
"Nosedive, I do trust you alright? Please believe me on that."
Dive turned to look at him over her shoulder,
"Then you'll let me go alone with Duke? It's just a couple hours, not like we're going on tour across the city."
Wildwing gnawed on the inside of his cheek, still unsure about this. Dive saw her chance to push a little further and took it,
"I promise to check in with you after the interview's done and at least once an hour after that until we get back."
It wasn't really that, though it did go a bit of a way to soothing Wing's nerves, as much as the hopeful look in her eyes that made Wildwing cave in. He sighed, not liking it even as he said,
"Alright, you can go with just Duke." He turned her around and pulled her into a light hug, for reassurance. "But make sure to call me."
Nosedive returned the hug happily,
"Don't worry, bro, I will!"
Duke shuddered at the thought of how that conversation could have gone had Wildwing walked into Nosedive's room and found the two of them in the nest together. Thankfully, Duke had been out of her room way before anything like that could happen. He quickly gave the ally a once over, making sure it was clear before returning to the duck-cycle.
The dark-feathered mallard sighed as he got comfortable on the vehicle's seat. They had agreed to use this exit as a way to get a bit more privacy. The paparazzi had been going rabid lately since pictures had been popping up of him holding Nosedive in the park.
Not to mention the loads of fan mail the team had received in response to either the photos themselves or the attached articles for the pictures speculating on a possible romance. Mostly just questions trying to verify if it was true and if it was, then how long had it been going on, blah blah blah, there had been some threatening ones in there.
Those mainly dealt with Duke, calling him a 'pedophile' and other, less flattering things. Nosedive herself had received some letters as well, condemning her for going out with an older man………..except for one letter that shall never be mentioned again that had asked not only if she was really hooked up with Duke, but continued on by asking questions about how avians did romance, even going so far as to include thought up details that made even Duke blink and had prompted Wildwing to burn it in Phil's office trashcan before throwing the ashes away in a garbage bag.
Shaking his head to clear it, Duke checked his watch. Nosedive should be out any minute now, if the interviewer kept to the schedule. If not, he had a good ten to twenty minutes to wait out. Eh, why chance it? Besides, it wasn't like he had anything pressing to do right then and Wildwing would have his feathers for pillow stuffing if Nosedive was left alone in an ally for any length of time.
He let out another sigh, wondering what they should do for lunch. Hopefully not tacos, he hadn't been able to even look at them lately thanks to a video he'd seen on the internet. It still shocked the avians how disturbing and/or disgusting some parts of human humor was…………..though some of the videos of people falling off random objects were good for a chuckle or two…….
A noise from behind him made Duke turn to look. He'd probably should have better checked this place out when he first got here. Well, he hadn't then so had to now. Stars, he was getting lazy. Time was he would have done a more thorough job, despite the obvious lack of hiding spots. Carefully climbing off the duck-cycle, Duke patted his bicep to make sure his saber was there while disguising the motion as a move to smooth out a few wrinkles from his coat.
He carefully walked over to the location of the sound; a few trash cans placed against the garbage dumpster. He made sure to keep one eye on the ally's entrance and exit points at all times. Coming up to his destination, Duke briefly risked an ambush by focusing his full attention on the trash cans, giving them a quick once over with his experienced gaze. Nope, nothing here beyond a nasty stench and rotting pizza leftovers.
A different sound came up, this time behind the dumpster. Duke looked at the container, trying to gauge its distance from the brick wall behind it. Yep, it was about big enough for someone to hide in if they didn't mind a slight squeeze. He glanced back behind him to make sure the ally was still clear before making his next move.
Holding his breath, the ex-thief carefully sidestepped the trash cans to get closer before ducking down to look into the possible hiding space. A thin ally cat glared up at him, the remains of an ally rat before it. The duck relaxed his stance a bit, feeling slightly disappointed with himself for getting so worked up over nothing. He conveniently ignored the part of his mind that argued it could have been something more as he made to step back to return to the duck-cycle.
Only, he never got that far. The ally cat came up after him, meowing once before launching itself at his chest and latching on with its sharp claws. Duke swore and tried to swat it off, only now noticing the odd discoloration spots on the feline's paws, almost like…………..
Something smashed him in the back of the head before Duke could complete that thought. He gave out a small groan before dropping to the ground, unconscious. The cat leapt away before it could receive any damage itself, already shifting in midair to land on the ground again as the saurian Chameleon.
Siege snorted as he gave his fingers a quick flex before reaching down and grabbing the fallen avian. Chameleon held up a hand to stop him for a few quick seconds before nodding and shifting to look like Duke as he was right then, in his street clothes.
The larger orange saurian rolled his eyes before dragging Duke back to the dumpster and shoving him none too gently into the space there. Chameleon sighed to himself before going to the duck-cycle to wait while Siege disappeared back into another ally. They'd transport the other avian later; right now they had to focus on the girl.
Honestly, did the ducks think that they didn't have internet? The news of Nosedive's 'exclusive' interview was all over several sites and it'd only been a matter of some quick plan changing to do this instead of Wraith's spell.
It wasn't the shape shifter's fault that the drones hadn't been able to find that last piece for his spell in time. This in itself had been a lucky break. All Chameleon had to do was act his part and the rest should be easy enough. Siege was only there to help out if things went sour.
He'd just gotten to the vehicle when the door opened up to admit the very teenager they'd been waiting for. He shivered a little at the thought of what could have happened if she'd been just about ten seconds earlier. They'd all seen the damage done to Wraith's arm and he didn't even want to think about what that deity could do now, since it should be more used to its current container.
She walked up to him with a smile, which he returned, a little unsure of how to continue on from here. Maybe he could play it cool…………
"So, where to first Duke?"
He was so screwed. Quick think of something………..
'Duke' shrugged, replying,
"Not sure, you got anywhere in mind right now?"
Nosedive frowned a bit as she reached for the extra helmet in its side compartment.
"Hmm, I really want to go to Captain Comics…but my stomach is practically about to eat itself……….tacos sound good?"
The shape shifter shrugged, glad it seemed to be working so far.
"Yeah, they do. Hop on and let's go."
Dive rolled her eyes before getting on behind him, her hands holding onto his sides for support. Chameleon gulped but kept on going, remembering a place he'd eaten at once in the Anaheim mall that served some great tacos. Moe's, he was pretty sure that was the name of the place.
Theo sighed happily to herself as she walked into the restaurant. It turned out that Sam was a little understaffed at the moment and after seeing how comfortable she was with the reptiles and their reactions to her handling of them, had hired her on the spot at the end of the day.
He'd been quite nice the whole time, joking with her and taking on any customers that didn't want a pet with a forked tongue and scaly flesh. Sam had even gone so far as to pay her for what she'd done that day, saying that it'd still be taken from her paycheck but to think of it as an advance on it. It wasn't like she'd needed the money, what with her savings account and all, but it was still quite nice of him to do that.
She went to the counter, glad that she'd apparently gotten here before the late afternoon rush or at the start of it anyway. Five in the afternoon was kind of an iffy eating time for most people; generally six to seven was the busiest.
The teen placed her order and, after paying for it and taking the tray from the smiling Moe's worker, went to find a seat. She found a place next to a potted plant that was quiet and started in on her meal.
Because Theo's back was to the door, she didn't at first understand why people perked up and started whispering / talking to each other excitedly or pull out their cameras or camera phones when it dinged as someone opened it. As far as the teen knew it was just another customer.
That is, until she saw a reflection in the dark-tinted windows that made her blink and turn around to see if what she'd seen was actually true.
Yep, right there in the line were two ducks, probably from the local hockey team. Theo blinked, using the back of one hand to rub at her eyes before looking at them again. They were still there, ordering their food.
It wasn't like she hadn't heard of them; far from it given that they were practically one of Anaheim's main selling points to tourists. It was more like when one had to see something to truly believe it. Strange though, she thought that the teenager only came out with more than one of her fellow companions….
With a slight sigh, Theo turned to go back to her meal when something tingled in the back of her neck. She placed a hand there only to find the hairs standing up, which made her frown and glance around the restaurant. Something didn't feel right and she didn't like it.
Whenever she had that feeling, bad stuff always happened and not 'broken bone' bad stuff (though that was sometimes included), but 'major bank heist with several hostages and the robbers have no qualms about killing them' bad stuff. Considering the circumstances that had made it so she even had that feeling in the first place, her slight 'overreaction' could be excused. The blonde teen glanced around in an almost paranoid way, trying to pinpoint where the feeling came from. Strange, it seemed to be both inside and outside, with the outside one coming closer.
The girl turned back to her food, trying to act normal and finish it. If what she thought was going to happen did, then she'd need all of her strength. A sort of nervous energy began to build up inside her, making her feel queasy yet still Theo made herself eat.
Something soft bumped her shoulder, prompting her to look up. Blue eyes met blue and locked on. Theo had the sudden urge to swallow a thick, sticky lump in her throat, but couldn't as she barely felt like she could even breathe at the moment. The avian teen looked the same, even as she and her companion (a dark feathered male) continued on past her to a different table.
As soon as their eyes broke contact, Theo found she was able to act normal again and strangely, felt sort of…calmer in a way. Trying to appear nonchalant, she finished her meal and stood to put the tray away. Not knowing why, the teen glanced over at the pair of ducks, seeing the other girl had glanced back at her as well. Theo at first gave a half smile, not understanding what had happened before, only for it to fall as her eyes seemed to suddenly focus in more on the avian male.
It was like a demented form of 3-d vision. While Theo could clearly see the drake there, it was like she could see into him as well (which was creepy in itself) and that she somehow knew that 'inside' form was actually his real one. She made eye contact with the teenage duck again and gave her head the slightest shake of 'no'.
Strangely, it was like the other understood and glanced back at her companion only to seem to visibly start. They spoke briefly before the teen herself stood up with a shaky smile, making her way to the bathroom. Theo didn't know why she did it, but the human girl went, dumped her trash and put away her tray before going to the bathroom herself.
The avian girl was waiting just inside the entrance, right out of view of the camera. She moved just enough so that Theo could step into the same blind spot, which she did. They stared at each other for barely a few seconds before the avian brought her hand up to slap her.
Nosedive thought Duke was acting a little weird, but ignored it for now. He was probably still adjusting to the actual idea of being a 'dad' and some of their fan mail wasn't helping a bit.
As they reached Moe's, it was admittedly strange that he didn't park the bike or get off of it with his usual grace but Nosedive ignored it once again. She was hungry, they were here and besides, Duke did seem nervous.
When they entered the restaurant, there were the typical people who immediately began taking pictures but it'd happened before. They couldn't go through the drive-through on the duck-cycle so they had to eat inside and put up with it.
If she had to name a point where this all felt a little off, then it was in the line when Duke didn't get his typical order. Duke never really ordered that much hot sauce before, not to the point where the employee asked if he was sure about it.
Then, when they were on their way to a table towards the back with some decent amount of privacy given by half walls and plastic plants, Nosedive's hand had accidentally hit a teen's shoulder. She glanced down to apologize, half hoping the person wouldn't ask for an autograph or a picture or anything else.
Her eyes had locked with the human's and the world seemed to just…stop. Something deep in her brain felt like it clicked with something else and strangely, Nosedive felt she could….well, 'sense' her surroundings better was the only way she could describe it and that barely came close.
When Duke had lightly urged her on pass the other blonde teen, it was like….all the colors were just a little brighter, she could smell just a few more scents in the air, and noises were just a little louder and clearer. That was just outside her body.
Inside, it felt like her lungs could take in just a bit more air, her heart was beating just a bit stronger and faster and her mind was working a bit quicker, making just a few more connections and observations than normal.
That was barely scratching the surface of what felt different. The two ducks sat down, Nosedive giving Duke a partial smile and a slightly hurried affirmative mutter when he asked her if everything was okay.
Something was wrong with her….or maybe she was just now becoming aware of something that had been there all along before…Dive didn't know and it was starting to frustrate her. She glanced over at the other girl, only to find her looking back at her.
Dive returned her half-smile with one of her own, only to drop it when the human seemed to pale a little at the sight of Duke. Confused when the human female shook her head 'No', Nosedive looked at her companion, wondering what had made the human girl almost appear freaked out.
Her eyes felt kind of tingly, almost like how they would before tears began to leak out. Nosedive blinked once to get rid of the feeling, only to look at Duke and wish she hadn't.
Before she did that, Dive had only seen Duke. Now, she still saw Duke….with Chameleon sitting right there as well, as if he was inside a half decent hologram.
'Duke' frowned at her and Nosedive wondered if he knew she knew what he was.
"Hey, Nosedive, you okay?"
Dive blinked at him, confused and trying to find an excuse to get away from here. The imposter went on slowly, beginning to look around almost like he was kind of nervous,
"You just jumped like something startled you."
Realizing her right hand was below the table top, Dive quickly came up with an excuse,
"Oh, it's nothing. I think I just touched someone's gum or something under the table. I'm going to go wash my hands, okay?"
'Duke' nodded back at her, only partially believing the small lie. Nosedive gave him a quick smile and left the table for the women's restroom before the shape shifter had a chance to pick holes in it or attempt to stop her.
Once inside, something made her wait in that little space between the door and the majority of the rest of the bathroom where the camera's blind spot was, which she did.
Within a moment, that human girl she'd bumped into earlier came in. Nosedive moved a bit to give her room, which the other took quietly.
They stared at each other for just a few seconds before the human raised her hand as if to hit Dive.
Their hands met with a very painful sounding slap that hurt as much as it sounded like it would.
Both teens gave a grimace at the ache, before making eye contact again. If anyone had happened to see them right then, it would have looked like they were about to perform an arm wrestling contest right then and there.
They kept up the pressure, staring straight into each others eyes as they both waited for the other to break and pull her hand away. A sudden surge of energy from their abdomens is what finally made them break apart.
The human girl turned a unique shade of green and dashed into the nearest bathroom stall, where sounds of gagging and eventual vomiting soon drifted out of. The avian girl let herself fall back against the bathroom wall, eyes closing as one hand slid to place itself over her lower abdomen. She groaned as her stomach threatened to empty itself of what little remained from her quick lunch of a croissant and a peach that she'd gotten during her interview.
The sounds the other girl was making weren't really helping, but Nosedive felt she could handle herself better. A sudden thought made her open her eyes, push away from the wall and slowly make her way to the stall the human was in.
The teen inside gave a funny sounding hack noise before spitting, breathing shallowly as she waited to see if her stomach would kick anything else out. Dive leaned her shoulder against the open doorframe, just waiting. Her eyes glanced at the arm the other teen had against the stall wall to brace herself and focused in on the bicep muscle, noting how it didn't seem exactly like what you'd find on a normal teen girl.
Of course, neither were most of Nosedive's own. Thankfully that cursed spring had only robbed her of her correct gender, not her hard earned muscles from years of playing hockey and all that time spent in the camps during the Saurian invasion. Shoving away those nasty memories before she lost herself in them again, Dive took a chance,
"First time huh?"
The human spat into the toilet again before a dry laugh escaped her throat.
"Never felt anything like that before….."
Her voice, which Dive found had an accent to it she hadn't really heard before, almost a kind of drawl, (the 'thing' in 'anything' came out like 'thang') trailed off towards the end, her body shifting slowly so as to look at Dive with confused and measuring eyes. The human glanced up and down her frame once then twice, taking in the muscles, stance, and several other little things.
Blue eyes met blue again. There was a brief silence before the human girl broke the silence this time,
Dive just nodded, feeling relieved as her stomach finally began to settle. The human nodded back slowly, turning back to the toilet to flush it. The avian girl stepped back to get out of her way as the other teen left the stall and headed towards the sink to wash her hands.
After just a second, Nosedive moved to do so as well. That way her story to 'Duke' would only be half false. They were quiet for just a minute before Dive hesitantly asked a question,
"When did you…?"
She cut herself off, not sure how to phrase the rest. To her surprise, the other answered anyway.
"Roughly two months ago, give or take a few days to a week. Really couldn't keep track of time too well at the beginning. (She glanced over at Dive and offered a weak smile that Dive returned with one of her own) I guess you could say I was working through the shock."
Finishing up, the human girl dried her hands off under an air dryer before offering one out to Dive. Recognizing it by now as a common gesture among humans, Dive quickly finished drying her own hands before gripping the other teen's hand. Using reasonable force now, the two girls shook hands.
When they let go of each other's hands this time, they both let out small laughs to help dispel any lasting tension. Dive smiled at Theo before dropping it to take on a worried expression instead.
Theo frowned at her before seeming to get the problem,
"Worried about your friend out there?"
"He's not my friend, far from it. In fact, one of his 'friends' is the reason I'm like this!"
At the last word, Nosedive motioned sharply at her body with a slight growl. Theo nodded, frowning as she thought.
Dive smiled at her, mischief on her features.
"What else am I going to do?"
Worry came right back though, making the avian girl bit the inside of her cheek.
"But I've got to get back to that building. I need to find the real Duke and make sure he's okay…"
Theo gave a slow nod, not exactly sure what was going on but it still felt like the right thing to do.
"Anything I can do to help?"
Dive shook her head,
"Not unless you know how to fight Saurians."
"Is that what that lizard thing's called?"
Nosedive just nodded, making her way out of the bathroom. Just her luck something like this would happen today, the one day she was basically trusted outside of the Pond without the whole team around her. The human followed her, keeping a look out for the other girl as well as herself. That feeling was still there and it only served to make her increasingly nervous.
Roughly ten minutes and a lot of luck later, both teens were walking rather quickly down the street. Nosedive would have taken the duck-cycle only 'Duke' had the keys and asking for them would have risen suspicion from the imposter as she'd left nothing on the bike or in one of its compartments to retrieve.
Theo was trying to keep her shoulders from jerking up to hide her neck, glancing behind them occasionally to make sure the way was clear. She hadn't told Dive about the feelings yet nor was she going to unless it was necessary and since both feelings were back at the restaurant, the human girl deemed it unnecessary to tell her new acquaintance.
She glanced back at Dive, just now noticing her weird watch. Nosedive saw her staring at something before looking herself. With a groan, the avian teen slapped herself in the forehead.
"I am so stupid at times."
Letting Theo stand there mystified, Dive hid behind a building corner and activated her comm unit.
"Wildwing, are you there?"
Nosedive had barely finished speaking when her brother's face popped up on the little screen.
"Wildwing here, everything alright Dive?"
"Saurian trouble big bro, Chameleon impersonated Duke and I don't know where the real one is."
Her brother growled not too lightly.
"Where are you?"
Dive looked at Theo, who just shrugged and pointed at a street sign. The avian girl relayed the information to her brother.
"Alright, stay there Dive. I'll come and get you soon."
He cut the link before Nosedive had a chance to protest. With a light growl, she closed her unit and looked back at Theo. Strangely enough, the human had a slightly sad smile on her face.
"That was your brother? I'm guessing older."
Nosedive nodded, wondering what had brought that up. Theo just nodded back and looked away, seeming to get twitchier by the second.
Finally, the other teen had enough, but before she could really ask, Theo blinked at something down the street.
"These Saurians of yours, any of 'em orange?"
Fighting down a giggle at how Theo's accent made 'Saurians' sound like 'Sorry-ians', Dive nodded, hiding herself even more behind the building.
"Siege, next to Dragaunus, he's one of the nastiest."
Theo nodded, moving further down the street, one hand reaching out to grab Dive's arm just above the elbow.
"Uh huh and we're out of here. You can call your brother back from my hotel room."
Nosedive began to protest, only to stop herself and think this somewhat through. Surely Wildwing wouldn't want her anywhere near Siege and if they happened to pass by the magazine building where her interview had taken place, well, hopefully Theo wouldn't mind a little detour…
Tiny: (Hidden in some random, dark place) Okay, I'm cutting it off here. Um, check my profile for real life updates, if you want to know what's been going on lately….
Reviews are appreciated.
Mallory: (Opening the kitchen cabinet that is currently TinySprite's refuge) I thought you weren't going to ask for reviews anymore.
Tiny: I'm not asking! I'm just letting the readers know that reviews are appreciated, which they very much are! (Yanks the cabinet door shut before Duke and Wildwing find out about her new hiding spot)