Holy Goddess, I've actually updated this story? Finally? No, you're eyes are not deceiving you! Chapter twelve is up and functioning! Thank you for the continuous reviews and alerts and favorites that I've gotten for this over the course of the past two months! I'm ecstatic that you all are enjoying this story so much, and I hope that you continue to do so. As usual, feedback and critique is always appreciated :D!
I want to dedicate this chapter to Lollipopdiego, as she reviewed this story 10 times while I was away, which is positively amazing. She's always been a very loyal reviewer, and has never hesitated to give any of my stories a try! Also, she writes some pretty darn good stories herself, so I'd check them out if you get the chance :).
Enjoy chapter 12!
Chapter Twelve: Technical Difficulties
The feeling of sunlight on my eyelids told me it was morning. My eyes fluttered open, and fell upon a digital clock that read 6:03. I smiled triumphantly to myself: the internal body clock never fails!
And that was when all normalcy ended.
It took me a few seconds of staring sleepily at the clock to realize that something was off. Huh? The numbers aren't green like usual…and the clock isn't black…and…wait! Wait a second!
It wasn't my clock.
Feeling slightly panicked, I sat up in bed and began looking around the room. It wasn't my room.
I blinked a few times…Nope, still not my room.
The unfamiliar surroundings were starting to get to me; I began to panic. That clock isn't mine, the room isn't mine, this bed isn't mine, these sheets aren't mine, th—" My thoughts stopped short as my eyes fell upon a pair of, uh, bouncy balls. Now, I like bouncy balls as much as the next guy, but when the bouncy balls are attached to you? And you're absolutely sure you didn't have them a few days ago? And you can't remember how in dear Goddess' name they got there?
…Well, can be a bit startling. A lot startling. So startling, in fact, that it can reduce one to screaming a girly scream shrill enough to wake up all of Castanet.
"Eeeeeeeeeeek!" I shrieked, causing Finn's eyes to snap open and become wide as platters.
"C-Clarissa?" he shouted. The name brought memories rushing back of what had happened over the course of the past two days. I guess I might've thought that the whole thing was a bad dream, and that if I went to sleep and woke up again, then everything would be back to normal. Unfortunately, seeing as I was in Clarissa's bed in Clarissa's house with no Clarissa in sight, 'back to normal' was out of the question.
At first, Finn's face was the picture of worry. "Are you alright? Did you get hurt? Is everything—" his rambling ceased, and the look on his face right then told me that reality must've sunken in for him too.
"Luke, what was that screaming all about?" he asked. His mouth was creased in a small, disdainful frown. Geez, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed…
"Sorry about that, Finn! Guess I was a bit shocked; I didn't remember who I was right away." I explained.
Finn, ignoring my explanation, rolled his eyes and grimaced. "Please, Luke, try not to make it a habit? I'd really rather not have to babysit you all day long."
"Oh, don't worry about me," I said, waving him off, "waking up as someone else was just a minor setback. Now that I'm officially awake, I'm ready to go!" And, with those words, I hopped up from the bed and began walking towards the door that led to Clarissa's bathroom. Then I stopped.
"Umm, Finn?" I asked carefully.
"Yes, Luke? What is it? How may I be of service?" Finn said with a clear bite in his tone, reminding me a bit of Chase. He seemed to be losing patience with me rather fast.
"…How am I supposed to get undressed?" Finn's only reply was a groan and a facepalm.
"What? Would you rather I not ask you? I'm just trying to be gentlemanly…" I grumbled in annoyance at the sprite's attitude towards me. I wasn't doing anything wrong! Wouldn't he have questions if he was trapped in a body unfamiliar to him?
He totally would.
After a few more moments of Finn trying to ignore me and me staring at him stubbornly, he gave in and responded. "Why don't you just close your eyes while you undress?" Ding! A metaphorical lightbulb flashed over my head.
"That's brilliant, Finny boy! Why didn't I think of that before? You're the greatest!" I exclaimed, easily scooping up the irritated sprite into my hands, and giving him a big hug.
"Choking…Luke…can't…breathe…" I heard him complaining hoarsely. After a few seconds, I released my grip on him, smiling mischievously to myself as I did so. I always gave big hugs, (they were often described as bone-crushing by the other villagers; I wasn't sure whether or not I was supposed to take it as a compliment), but one could definitely say that there was a bit of revenge behind that particular squeeze.
Satisfied, I grabbed a random pair of Clarissa's clothes from her dresser and headed into the bathroom.
I went into the bathroom the previous night, but it had been late and I'd turned the lights off pretty quickly. Now that it was bright and I was awake, I was able to take a full look around.
The room was very small, with a tiled floor and rose colored walls. It featured the expected bathroom necessities; a toilet, a sink, a mirror, and a shower. However, there were a few other things in the bathroom that I hadn't expected to see; a makeup bag on the sink counter, a pink shag carpet covering a good portion of the floor, and a package of white things that looked kind of like diapers…except not.
Like with the main room of Clarissa's house, the unfamiliarity of the room and the stuff in it began to get a bit unnerving after a few moments. Regardless, I did my best to shrug it off, quickly changed out of Clarissa's pajamas (with my eyes closed, as Finn-the-wise had suggested), turned the temperature dial in her shower to my usual spot, and stepped in.
The hot water hit me square in the back immediately after I got into the small shower.
"Owowowow!" I cried, my hands grabbing the dial to change the temperature before I spontaneously burst into flames. Or something like that.
"Ahhhh…" a sigh escaped me as I was instantly relieved by the cooler and more pleasant water that was beginning to flow from the showerhead. That's funny. EXTREMELY HOT water has never hurt like that before…
"Luke, you okay in there?" I heard Finn calling me from the other side of the bathroom door. This time, though, he didn't sound annoyed or frustrated with me; he sounded worried. And, based on the cry that I'd let out once I felt the hot water against me, I couldn't really blame him.
"S'all good in here, Finnalicious! Just some, uh, minor technical difficulties." I assured him, secretly pleased that he was actually concerned this time.
There was a brief pause before the harvest sprite spoke again, "Alright. Just be careful; I don't want Clarissa's body to suffer just because you're the one in charge of it." His words were followed by the sound of tiny wings flapping as he headed away from the door, and returned to whatever it is Finn does when he isn't following Clarissa around Castanet.
Thankful that I'd gotten the temperature of the shower worked out (albeit still confused as to why I had to 'work out' the temperature in the first place), I moved onto the next order of business; actually showering.
I turned to a raised platform built into the shower wall. It held several multi colored bottles, each one sporting its own multi colored label. I had to squint to read the curly letters used on most of them. Soothing violet gel…Sweet Pea Revitalize…Seabreeze Volumizer with Cocoa Extract…Oh Goddess, where's the normal shampoo? I groaned loudly in frustration at the complexity of the labels, but it did nothing to help my situation. The colorful bottles continued to sit there, mocking me with their fancy squiggles. First there was waking up, then the shower temperature problem, and now these taunting bottles of who-knows-what? This morning just wasn't my morning.
After a few moments, I decided that reading the labels again and again wouldn't get me any closer to my goal of finding the actual shampoo. I randomly selected one of the bottles, poured out a glob of smelly goop, and rubbed it into short brown hair. It doesn't really matter, I thought, they're all for hair anyway, right?
After rubbing the goop through my hair and rinsing it out with care, I looked to the platform again, wondering what bottle to randomly designate as the body wash. Luckily, I didn't have to think too hard about this one; there was a pink soap bar in a little holder that'd work just fine.
Alright, here's where the challenging part starts. I thought, as I picked up the soap bar. I had managed to look straight ahead while washing Clarissa's hair, but washing a body without looking at it would be difficult. The fact that it was Clarissa made it all the worse. It made it tempting. She's so pretty…and I've never seen a—No! I admonished myself for even thinking of it. You'd be invading her privacy! She's your friend, and she trusts you!
But Luke…Another voice chimed in. This is be a golden opportunity for you that might never come again! Besides, nobody would have to know if you just took a peek…
"Argh! Shut up!" I shouted, but the voices continued to argue.
Don't do it, Luke! She's your friend.
Give in to it, Luke! You're only human…
How will you be able to look at her after this?
But haven't you always wondered…?
"Luke?"someone called, this time from outside my head. The other voices ceased as I honed in on the new voice. It was masculine, and it sounded awfully familiar…
"Clarissa?" I yelled, trying my best to be heard over the shower. "Is that you?"
"Yeah! I'm here to help with the farming." she answered. Oh, I'd forgotten that she was coming over to help me out!
"Hold on, I'm just cleaning up. I'll be out in a few minutes." I told her, grateful of her timely arrival. There was no longer any decision to be made; I couldn't look at anything, because I knew that Clarissa was out there and that she was waiting for me to finish. Phew, thank Goddess.
Determined not to do any more thinking, I quickly gave myself a once over with the soap bar and rinsed off before twisting the dial so the water stopped running. I then got out of the shower, and hurriedly dried myself off.
Looking at the clothing I grabbed, I found that it was an outfit I'd seen Clarissa wear before. I glanced over the items I'd laid out, just to make sure I hadn't forgotten to grab anything, when I found my eyes stopping on something in particular. It was a bra. Clarissa's bra. My bra.
"How the heck am I supposed to put this on?" I asked aloud as I picked it up and considered it. Sure, it'd been easy enough getting it off before the shower, but I had no idea how to put it back on. Which was probably a good thing, considering that most guys don't know how to put on bras…Well, maybe Julius does.
I twisted and turned the thing every which way before figuring out how exactly it was supposed to be put on. Yes, I've got it on! Now I need to find out how to make it stay on…
I felt around a bit, and found that, much to my dismay, the clasp was in the back.
"What the…? What the farm is up with this thing?" I shouted, as I fiddled blindly with the fastener with no success.
"Are you having bra trouble in there?" Clarissa asked, the amusement evident in her voice.
"N-no! I am perfectly capable of putting on a bra all by myself!" I told her defiantly. "Now if I could only get this darn clasp…"
"Would you like me to help you?" she laughed after a few more moments of struggle.
I sighed; there really was no other way to handle the situation. She and I both knew that, if I was left to put the bra on alone, then I'd probably be in the bathroom for the rest of the day.
"…Fine. Just let me get decent first." I said, pulling on everything but the bra and shirt. I opened the door to find myself, arms crossed and looking smug.
"So I hear you're having some bra issues…" Clarissa chuckled, reddening the cheeks of yours truly.
"HA HA HA, very funny. I'm laughing sooooo haaaard." I told her, adding an exaggerated eye roll to top it off. "Can you just help me already? And don't you go looking!" I warned, as calloused hands made their way to the impossibly complicated bra straps.
Clarissa quirked a blue eyebrow, "You're telling me not to go looking? I know what my own body looks like. I should be more concerned about you having looked during that long shower of yours." she said as she worked carefully away.
"Hey! I'll have you know that I was very gentlemanly during that shower. Didn't even look once." I told her, smiling proudly, and inwardly sighing in relief that I could say that truthfully. "And the only reason that the shower took so long was because of all of those bottles! I mean, Seabreeze Volumizer with Cocoa Extract? What the heck is that? It sounds more like a chemical cleaning product than a hair product…" as my ramblings came to an end, my ears were met with a satisfied clicking noise.
"Aha! There we go!" Clarissa said, taking a step back and admiring her work on me. Suddenly, I found that the bra stayed on whether I was holding it there or not; it was perfectly fitted and latched.
"How in Goddess' name did you do that?" I asked, looking at her with wide eyes.
"I'm used to it, I s'pose," she shrugged. "Although, it is rather weird putting one on from the outside."
"Whoever designed bras didn't do a very good job." I decided. "Was it necessary for them to put the clasp in the back? Are they trying to make it frustrating for you?"
She laughed. "I don't know about that. But I do know that I'm happy I don't have to deal with them for the time being. I still can't get over how flat my chest is now! It's...freeing." She said, almost sounding wistful.
"And while you're busy feeling freed, I'm subjected to torture harnesses and oddly titled hair goop. I don't think this is a fair trade…" I pouted.
"We've both got some adjusting to do." She said with certainty. "Now, onto more important things! Are you ready to start your first day of farming?"
"Do I have to?" I groaned.
"What's with you today, Luke? You're usually so enthusiastic about trying new stuff!" Clarissa said, leaning on my axe, as I would so often do.
"I think I'm suffering from axe withdrawal." I said seriously. I haven't parted with my axe for more than a day since I got it on my seventh birthday! "Do you think after you do my work for the day that I can borrow it, just for a bit?" I looked at her pleadingly.
"Okay, fine. I can't resist the puppy dog eyes." she conceded with a smile, causing me to whoop and jump up and down.
"Awwight! The promise of some axe swinging has me reenergized! Now let's get FARMING!" I shouted, unable to contain my happiness. I knew that, once my axe was back in my hands, everything would feel right again, if only for a little while. I began to run for the door, when a Clarissa held me back.
"Are you sure you're ready?" she asked, smirking a bit. I was about to reply, when I noticed that she was pointing at my chest. I then realized; I still hadn't put on a shirt.
"…Just give me one more sec." I told her, this time running towards the bathroom door, Clarissa laughing behind me.