Roughly 40,000 words [scrapped], seven revisions, three whiteboards, two notebooks, almost one year later... we have roughly five thousand words for the first half of a MUCH longer piece [that I'll probably rewrite when this version makes me cringe too much]. But I'm not sure anyone WANTS to read a 14,000 word chapter, so I had to break it up. Again. Bleh.
Hullo, everyone! Apologizes for taking so long, but happy New Year and all that jazz. I hope you had a wonderful 2016. ^^
For starters, I really hate how this is written. I really, REALLY hate it. Writing chaotic scenes where the characters don't know what's going on [but the readers do] really grinds my gears because of how delicate some scenes need to be narrated - and I think I did a horrible job with this. Feel free to nitpick everything, because it might be something that I haven't thought of yet. Second of all, this chapter has had so many names that I can't keep up with them all. Its current name probably won't stay for very long; and I'm open to suggestions! Third of all, this is the first part of a reeeaaalllyy long piece that's supposed to go together cohesively. Ergo, the next "chapter" is actually the second half, so bear with me on the awkward ending being awkward.
And last but certainly not least, thank you for all of your continued support over the years. You guys have really brightened my day with all of your encourage, subtle and bold alike. I'm glad that you've come and gone, witnessing my growth, and I hope that you'll stay with me until the end. Thanks again!
WildfireDreams: I'm afraid that I can promise nothing, because... spoilers! (I feel like even saying this is a spoiler, but oh well. I'll just peg it as suspenseful silence.)
Innieminnie: Welcome to the joy that is middle-school writing. XD This is why I am rewriting the entire piece; I'm trying to remain true to the style of narration, but I've grown so much as an author that I find it hard. Even the smallest of inconsistencies drive me crazy, so I can imagine how you feel trying to read through some of them.
Guest: Thank you! As for the versions, I'm writing them simultaneously so that when I get frustrated with one, I can switch to the other. (But I also write things out of order, which can be a serious cause for delay.) I, too, really like the character development of B! Hopefully it remains true to his character. I've just read so many fanfics that portray him as either a bloodthirsty killer or a manic-depressive pityparty in the making. I tried to give him the credit he deserves without glamorizing it all. He's pretty messed up, and he isn't sure how to make it better or IF he wants to make it better. My vision of him is that he's so hopelessly lost than isn't all that sure of anything, especially moving forward.
cami0512: Really? That's so cool! I took the mandatory three years of Spanish in high school that I don't remember, so if you see any errors in my work, please let me know! :)
Prince Charming Never Rode a Dragon
(for good reason)
It was a freehanded cutout of the letter L. Old English, cloister black font. It had been cut from lined paper, like those in a notebook, and a mix of kanji and phonetic alphabet had been scribbled on the lines. At a glance, it resembled a strange work of art, or perhaps butchered origami, but L knew better.
The L was framed in thick, red ink—the color of blood—and just inside the perimeter of the outline was microscopic writing.
"'If gods of death who like apples have red hands, how would one determine a god of death from a human caught red-handed?'" Light read aloud, squinting at the print.
Chief Yagami approached the desk, still eyeing L, who had ignored the man's outburst. "Is it a message from Kira?" he asked gravely.
"No," L replied in a bored tone. "It's nothing to be concerned about, Mr. Yagami. Please return to your observations."
Light stared quizzically at the detective as L minimized the photograph. The moments dragged on until the Soichiro finally heaved a sigh and returned to the twin couches in the center of the room. Even afterwords, when L did not pull up the picture again, Light dared to lean over and murmur, "Ryuzaki, was that...?" L ignored him and resumed idly skimming over the details of the case so far. Eyes narrowed, Light tugged lightly on the chain.
"Yes," L said simply.
"It's a challenge," Light pointed out.
L watched out of the corner of his eye as Light fixed his sharp gaze on the detective. He could feel Light's frustration as though it were his own, but L knew that he couldn't respond. Though he had an obligation to protect the public from Backup's plot of revenge, L knew better than to answer this challenge, but blatantly ignoring it wouldn't do too well either. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and his main suspect wasn't helping.
"I've never seen you this shaken."
L met Light's eyes.
"I am not shaken, Light-kun."
Light's exasperated look of disbelief wasn't helping either.
"Don't be difficult, Ryuzaki."
"I am not being difficult."
Though he was well aware that he was being ridiculous and childish, L couldn't help himself. More importantly, it was better to seem ridiculous and childish than an emotional wreck. If there was a pang of guilt sending shivers up and down L's spine, the detective refused to acknowledge it.
L was justice. Justice had no need for such pointless emotions as guilt. Or fear. Or regret.
He didn't notice what Light was doing until the chain tinkled like a bell collar and drew the man's eyes to the floor. Even then, all L could do was stare as Light used his own napkin to collect the split sugar-coffee and ceramic shards.
"Watari is more than capable of cleaning up. Light-kun needn't burden himself with such a task."
"You're a grown man who can't even clean up after himself." It was spoken softly, though it was more sigh than speech. When Light glanced up to meet L's emotionless gaze, he added, "I had the urge to punch you twice already, Ryuzaki, but there's nothing to gain from adding physical pain to your emotional agony."
This time, L couldn't help his spike of annoyance. "My suspicions have been raised by two point three percent."
"Snap out of it!" Light said. Harshly dumping the napkin and its load back on the ground, the teenager clambered to his feet, fury burning in his eyes. For a moment, L readied himself to riposte Light's incoming fist, but when the blow never came, the detective found himself being dragged by the back of his rolling chair into the elevator. Light stabbed at the control panel, but the tension in his body nor the stubborn way he clamped his eyes shut escaped L's attention. L anticipated Light's next move before the boy himself might have even guessed it.
The elevator ground to a halt at the closest floor and deposited the two with a shrill ring. Light ignored the alarm and dragged L down the hallway and into a room at random. Only when the door was slammed behind them, deadbolted, and barred with a chair did Light take a deep breath and face L once more.
"How could he have gotten his hands on the suicide notes?" Light asked in a much softer tone than before.
"At the time, I was still working with the police, so I suspect a breach in their security," answered L honestly. "But how he could have accessed our new fax number... is perplexing and will require a thorough investigation, and possibly the destruction of our current communications array. Furthermore, the publishing company must also be investigated. I require all of their security tapes from the past few weeks to the very moment we put forth the request-"
Cutting himself off, L realized that the alarm that he had heard earlier hadn't been from the elevator at all; he and Light were nowhere near the elevator, and the shrill ringing could still be heard.
Light blinked and looking around, as though having just realized this himself.
On a table to Light's side, a landline telephone rang.
Both men moved at the same time, but Light reached the phone first. Turning on speaker phone, Light returned the phone to its base.
"Ryuzaki, an outbreak of hysteria has claimed Nishimachi International School," Watari informed, his tone grave. "There have been reports of a prop machine blowing fake snow from the rooftops and an... unsightly creature prowling the grounds. The whereabouts of Satou Kyona are currently unknown."
"Currently unknown?" L said sharply. "What do you mean, Watari? Is the child not in this very building?"
"No." The older man sounded puzzled. "Satou Kyona left for school approximately three hours ago."
The last time L had felt this much dread had been when the Second Kira mentioned gods of death.
"Timeskips," L realized aloud.
Satou had been telling the truth. If timeskips were indeed muddling time, then who was to say that time hadn't already passed while he and Light were off by themselves?
Light shot him a bemused glance. "Timeski-"
But L was already dashing out of the room, jerking the boy after him via handcuff chain.
After consoling Autumn, I had wandered off to take a nap. I hadn't expected to be awoken by a very frantic detective kicking in my bedroom door and peering around with enormous eyes.
"Where is Kyona?" L asked in a surprisingly level voice, foregoing formalities.
I glanced at the clock on the nearby nightstand. "She should be in school right about-"
Holy crap. I had been asleep for almost twenty hours.
"Ryuzaki, what's going on?" demanded Light, panting a little as he came into view just beyond the doorway. "What timeskips?"
A shudder rippled down my spine. I locked eyes with L.
And I knew.
Bolting to my feet, I sharply questioned, "What's the date?" but L was already power-walking down the hall.
"It should be August... August..." Light's brow furrowed, confusion passing across his countenance.
Well that was convincing.
Dashing past L, I ignored the elevator and smashed through the door to the stairs. I hopped atop the railing and slid down to the intermediate landing, taking just enough time to switch railings before exploding through the door and onto the main stairwell in the center room. I wasted no time acknowledging Chief Yagami's startled jump, instead throwing myself at the nearest computer and hammering away on the keyboard.
I had the news pulled up long before Light and L emerged from the elevator.
"-unlike anything we've ever seen before. Students and teachers alike are fleeing the school, claiming that a grotesque creature is haunting the building," exclaimed the overly cheerful reporter. She kept glancing over her shoulder at the school where, true to her word, people were stampeding away from the building. On the roof sat some sort of water sprinkler system that spat white fuzz all over its immediate surroundings. The fuzz covered the ground like snow, dusting everything in a layer of white—people, grass, even the odd sculpture dotting the grounds. Some of the people broke off from the herd and thundered towards the reporter, who screamed and threw herself to the side—but not quickly enough. The man with the boom mic dropped his equipment to run to her aid. Brushing the power from her dress, the reporter took one flustered look around before her mouth fell open.
She let out a bloodcurdling scream.
"Ryuzaki, what are we looking at?" came the voice of Chief Yagami from somewhere behind me.
"Oh my god! These aren't hallucinations! I see it too!" wailed the reporter, cowering in the arms of the boom-mic-guy. She pointed a trembling figure somewhere over the school. "Camera, are you getting this?"
"It's right there! It's hideous! Somebody, help!"
L ambled over to my side, peering up at the screen without emotion. But I could see the turmoil raging in his eyes.
"If gods of death who like apples have red hands, how would one determine a god of death from a human caught red-handed?" murmured Light, coming up on L's other side. The teenager's eyes wide equally wide, but the determination blazing in those light brown depths caught me off guard as he trained the look on L. "Ryuzaki, this isn't the work of Kira."
"No, it isn't," agreed L quietly.
Chief Yagami brushed up against my left side as he too fell into line. The four of us watched the chaos while L stabbed a few buttons on the desktop communicator.
"Watari, has the location of Satou Kyona been recovered?" L asked.
The was a significant delay in the reply. "No."
I bit my lip so hard that I tasted blood. Here I went, promising the kid that I would keep her safe, that it was me and her until the very end, and then this shit goes and throws one hell of a wrench in my plans.
Not that I had any real plans to begin with, if I was being perfectly honest with myself. But now I would likely have to pull something out of my ass.
Mass hallucinations? My first assumption was poisoning, or a disease, especially if it seemed to effect the reporter as quickly as it did. Air-born, perhaps; from the snow-sprinklers? Bio-terrorism?
Then the light bulb clicked on.
I like to pretend that my life isn't defined by single moments. You know what I'm talking about: those soul-shattering, all-encompassing, mindfucking moments where your life gets turned upside-down and inside-out. The slap to the face moments. No, I like to pretend that my life is more like a snowball—starting out small and rolling to collect more memories, bit by bit, until a gigantic snowball is thundering its merry way down the hill of life.
I've never claimed to be good at analogies.
But sometimes, I just really want to slap my own self in the face and say, "There's your moment, moron!"
This was one of those times.
If I hadn't been standing already, I would have bolted to my feet. Luckily for everyone around me, the only change occurred when I jerked away from the keyboard so quickly that I might as well have been electrocuted.
"L," I began slowly, still battling uncertainty in the back of my mind, "do you have access to an x-ray machine?"
"Yes," the detective replied with hesitation, eyes still glued to the screen. The reporter was now rambling hysterically, describing what sounded like a 1950s horror villain with wings. Her coworkers all looked incredibly uneasy, but their exchanged murmurs were easily drowned out by the screaming of the people still trying to free themselves from the school.
Why did this not occur to me before?
"I need three varying angles of my body from the shoulders up," I said. Carefully stepping around the ceramic shards on the ground, I began backing away from the console.
I suppose that in the future, you are already wearing your collar, thus enabling our current situation. That was what Beyond had told me back when I was chained to a hand truck in L's metaphorical dungeon. At the time, what with time-skips not being my cup of tea, it seemed plausible, but I had completely forgotten that the collar wasn't the only mind-altering device poking around inside of my head.
Lucifer's memory chip.
When I wore the collar, Trey automatically intercepted all incoming and outgoing signals regarding the chip. After burning Lucifer's house to the ground, it had been one of the graphire's main functions, always running in the background. It had been so long since I'd thought about it, because it was something that never needed to be addressed.
The first time I took off the collar after coming to this world, it had been when I had first broken Beyond out of the mental institute. It had been raining, I was frustrated about being outsmarted and in pain from the rain. I hadn't even noticed that the graphire was still logging my actions. And then when stupid B had gone poking around in my head, I had removed myself from the picture to preserve my privacy. Both times, the graphire had had no way to suppress any signals about the chip. Both times, my actions were being recorded.
And there had been no timeskip to allow for any collar-wearing overlap then.
I knew that the chip scrambled my eggs pretty efficiently, and that it had a bit of control in regulating blood flow to prevent me from getting concussions, but what if the chip could also maintain contact with the graphire?
Could it be possible?
I headed for my room without another word. I could feel eyes—most likely Light's—on my back, but I ignored them. Justice be damned, I was going to find out if my mentor was still screwing with my head twenty years later—and if he had just cost Autumn her life.
Upon reaching my room, I dug through my clothes until I found the sack. Drawing the graphire from its worn sheathe, I ran my hands along the smooth surface as I pondered.
If I reset the graphire, would the chip also reboot?
My eyes fell to the cracks along the iPad's surface. One cleaved it diagonally from one corner to the other; another spawned from the first crack and went to an untouched corner. Three corners cracked, and one to go.
Trey referred to three: the graphire, the loctopus, and the collar. Only three pieces could be active at one time. Then I added Beyond's collar, and when he and I wore our collars simultaneously, Trey went offline. But if I added Lucifer's chip into the mix, that made four. The graphire wouldn't work with four—it never would—so how...?
"You'll understand someday, I promise."
I put my thumb to my lips, only briefly remembering that L shared a similar quirk, and began to gnaw on the nail.
Lucifer frequently dyed his hair and tied it back in a low ponytail. He almost always wore sunglasses, and the few times I could see around the dark rims, colored contacts still masked his eyes from view. For a man who had never been in the military, he sure did have a lot of army memorabilia. Then there was the diamond daggers. The weird-ass neurological condition. The full-body scars. The red diary that he used to keep track of the people he killed. The way he always knew when I was lying, where I had been, or how I truly felt. His tendency to look through me instead of looking me in the eye.
"What would you like for me to call you?"
Quirky, but respectful. Like L, he had a knack for pushing my buttons, but Lucifer did so in a way that was far less infuriating and more constructive.
Or, at least, I think he did. My so-called "memories" could be nothing more than illusions. The dreams that had plagued me when L had been in solitary confinement could be nothing more than dreams.
This is why I don't like to dwell on the past for too long. Ninety percent of it is probably completely bullshit anyways.
...Oh, God. Am I starting to spit out percentages like L?
Grinding my teeth, I reset the graphire and waited.
A pregnant pause swallowed each precious minute without regard to the fact that my apprentice was missing.
I am not a patient woman in stressful situations.
Beyond? I called out, somewhat bitterly. If you can answer, you better do so right now. You have a hell of a lot of explaining to do—starting with whether or not this little prank at Autumn's school was your doing.
But my mind stayed quiet. The graphire's screen remained dark.
I was alone.
Thoroughly fed up with everything, I returned the graphire to its not-so-secret hiding place with a shove and stormed back to the main room. If the chip didn't work like I suspected, the least I could do was get a nice x-ray of the darned thing and see what I was working with.
Right after I busted my ass out of L's glass building and went to find my apprentice.
Whatever nervousness Autumn had felt about returning to school the next day soon evaporated—especially when her classmates' whispers grew to a deafening volume.
Takahashi-sensei turned, a frown etched on his wrinkled face, only to freeze when he caught sight of the white power trickled down past the windows.
"Snow!" somebody cried out.
Almost simultaneously, the entire school exploded from their classrooms and made for the exits. The stampede shook the very foundation of the building.
Autumn was not among them.
"Snow in August?" she wondered aloud. Getting to her feet, the girl made her way over to the window and watched as her classmates spilled from the various doors and out into the courtyard. Each one raised their head in turn, confusion flashing across their faces as they exchanged glances.
Takahashi-sensei sighed. "Thank you for remaining in class, Kyona-san. Please stay here while I retrieve your classmates."
Autumn barely noticed her teacher's departure.
Thirty minutes later, students were beginning to trickle back inside, with extreme reluctance. It took almost a full hour to reinstate order in Autumn's classroom alone.
But roughly an hour after that, a scream shattered the stillness of quiz time.
Every head in the classroom shot up.
Another cry rang out.
"Takahashi-sensei?" asked one of the students, nervousness causing his voice to shake.
The girl sitting next to the student who had spoken suddenly leaped to her feet. Horror painted across her face, the girl raised an arm and pointed to the corner. "Wh-wh-what is that?"
Autumn turned, frowning. The corner was empty.
Shrieks nearly deafened the girl as every single person in the room suddenly bolted to their feet and scrambled away from the corner.
"What is that thing?"
"Somebody help us!"
Autumn looked around, bewildered. What's wrong with them?
"Kyona-chan, look out!"
The girl flinched and glanced over her shoulder.
Yelping at the scream, the girl slipped from her seat and tumbled onto the floor.
This time, when everyone screamed, Autumn recognized Takahashi-sensei's voice among them. Then someone threw open the classroom door and everyone began to cram their way outside, each shoving the others. Autumn watched in astonishment from her position on the floor. Only when the classroom was empty did she stand, brush herself off, and sweep a scrupulous gaze about the room.
Still nothing. No monster, beasts, or demons.
Has everybody gone crazy? Autumn fretted, tugging on the hem of her skirt.
When she heard writing on the chalkboard, Autumn whipped around in shock. A piece of chalk was scribbling against the board.
No one was holding the chalk.
Horror froze Autumn where she stood. She couldn't even cry for help. Icy fear crawled through her veins, freezing her very being, rooting her to the floor. She was forced to watch as the lone chalk swept across the board, leaving behind a single line of chicken-scratch English:
'We are here to save you.'
"Save me?" Autumn whispered, her voice trembling as badly as her legs.
Without further ado, Autumn bolted from the classroom in blind terror.
"L!" I roared, exploding back into the main room. "You have a helicopter, right?"
"I do, but no one is to leave this building," L replied tonelessly. "The necessary parties have already reached the scene."
Returning to the the duo, I abruptly realized that Chief Yagami was nowhere to be seen. I took in the scene—Light typing at incredible speeds into a laptop, L watching the news with unblinking eyes with a headset in hand, the chaos that was the new itself—and felt my agitation level rising.
"What day should it be for you?" I asked L.
"Yesterday," was the only reply offered.
"Ryuzaki, they're on scene-" Before Light could even finish his train of thought, L was leaning over his shoulder to examine the other's work.
"Route this to the main screen."
Moments later, the various screen flickered to portray different camera from what looked to be the helmet cams of an advanced SWAT team. I could only stare as the bobbing video provided me with the audio of the Task Force's voices paired with the dimming chaos. It looked as though most of the school had been evacuated by now. Police cars lined the perimeter, the previous occupants of Nishimachi International hovering just beyond them.
I didn't even question the gear—where L had gotten it from, how he had managed to get the Task Force to suit up so quickly, why Light just accepted this. I didn't even question how they had managed to arrive on the scene so soon.
Instead, I watched at the heavily-armored men thundering into the primary school. I watched, useless and helpless and fuming, as they entered the school grounds and methodically prowled along. It wasn't until the doors were swung open and the school entered that Chief Yagami's muffled gasp could be heard.
I was surprised that my own gasp wasn't audible.
The floor of the lobby and hallway beyond were coating in a thick layer of scarlet.
"What the hell?" I whispered.
"Ryuzaki," came the shaky voice of Aizawa, "this... doesn't have the consistency of blood. It's... squishy?"
One of the cameras showed a boot treading upon the red sea and an awful squelching sound echoed through the speakers.
"Strawberries?" muttered Matsuda.
"It could be poisonous gas."
"Chief, should we-"
At that moment, Matsuda's voice was drowned out by what could only be described as a roar. It shook the very building, from foundation to roof. The cameras blurred as the members of the Task Force began to whirl around, trying to find the source of the noise. But it was Mogi who had ventured back outside and made the mistake of glancing up.
One video screen was filled entirely with the face of a deep maroon dragon.
Silent, Mogi fell backwards, the screen shifting just enough to reveal the enormous wyvern crouched at the edge of the building, leering over the side. Its underbelly was lined with thin, onyx scales that glistened with the reflection of light bouncing off of the white fuzz in the early morning light. The maroon scales that coated most of its body was pointed and spiked away from its body like the pricks of a porcupine. Four horns lined its cheeks, a startling ivory, with translucent webbing connecting them in high arches. The clawed thumbs on its wings sank into the building's wall, piercing through as though the structure was made of mere butter. A long tail lashed behind it, barbed on the end.
L let out a quiet hum. "Mogi, please return to the safety of the school building and shut the doors behind you."
Mogi didn't need to be told twice.
Autumn wasn't sure when someone had slammed into her so hard that it had rendered her unconscious, but when she became more aware of her surroundings, she realized that she couldn't have been out for long.
She could still hear the distant screams.
Scrambling to her feet, Autumn nervously looked around at the empty hallway. Pictures hung crooked on the walls; posters ripped out of place, their semi-shredded remains littering the sea of red liquid on the floor. The pungent scent of strawberry preserves washed over Autumn, the severity of it making her gag a little; she hated the way the substance clung to her skin and clothing.
The smashing of glass startled Autumn so badly that she almost slipped on the preserves.
Whirling around with one hand bracing her against the wall, the seven-year-old felt her breath catch as a familiar figure strolled down the hallway towards her. Hands shoved in the pocket of an oversized white hoodie, L sauntered towards Autumn in that odd, shuffling gait of his. Strawberry preserves splattered against his jeans to give them an odd purple-ish look. His bare feet, skin almost as pale as the hoodie, were entirely red; a smudge of the stuff even added a hint of pink to one side of his neck.
L's come for me-! Relief washed over Autumn, who felt her feet moving before she had even decided to run straight for him. Reaching the man, the girl threw her arms around him with a quiet sob, clutching tight at the hoodie as the tears began to spill out.
She barely noticed the loud roar that made the earth tremble.
"Panda M-" The words died in her throat when Autumn pulled back to look him in the face... and noticed that something was off. His skin was pale, too pale, and powdery-looking. The bags under his dark eyes had a hint of color of them. And the eyes themselves—not black, but a shade of very dark brown.
They were eyes currently burning with a fierce determination that L would never have permitted in his apathetic expression.
Autumn released the impostor, not daring to breathe.
Slowly, as though trying not to startle her, Beyond Birthday withdrew one hand from the hoodie pocket and shamelessly offered Autumn a lollipop.
"Time to leave," he said in L's smooth tongue, only a hint of his own gruffness remaining. "The police will be distracted by the dragon and won't notice us slipping away—and we have a helicopter to catch at noon."
"D-dragon?" was all Autumn trusted herself to say.
A twitch of one corner of his mouth was all that alluded to the potential smirk, but the smugness in those brown eyes gave him away. "Your mentor left a rather efficient hologram projector in my care. Remind me to thank her for it when we pick her up in two hours."
Autumn didn't understand the intricacies of the plan, but the words 'pick her up' was all she needed to hear to realize what Beyond was doing.
"You're saving us," she said aloud, shocked.
"Happy late birthday," replied Beyond, twisting the lollipop between his fingers.
Without hesitation, Autumn took it and used it to poke Beyond in the eye. "Meanie! You didn't have to scare everybody!"
But to Autumn's surprise, Beyond merely grabbed at his face and glared at something just behind her. Without preamble, he drew the other hand from the pocket of the hoodie and lofted a bright red apple over Autumn's head. Turning in confusion, Autumn watched in astonishment as the apple stopped mid-air, caught by an invisible grip. She stiffened when a piece of the apple suddenly went missing.
This day was getting too crazy for Autumn. Snow in August, invisible monsters, not-so-inanimate objects, dragons, and Beyond. There was only so much crazy she could deal with, and Autumn Virginia Hall had officially reached her limit.
As her vision swam before her, Autumn felt a flash of gratitude when she felt warm arms catch her before her head collided painfully with the floor.
Long author's note at the beginning AND end? Why not?
This half-chapter was sixty percent chaos, twenty percent symbolism, thirteen percent plot, and seven percent subtle character development. And I hated writing it. The second half will be a lot more coherent in the writing and should come out sometime this month since it's actually going to be fun to write. It really ties in everything and fills in a lot of gaping plot-holes that haven't been revisited in some time.
Hopefully the first half wasn't too cringe-worthy, but I'll admit that it's terrible. I just needed to get it over and done with so that the story can progress. After all, this is what it means to be a writer: long, grueling scenes that make you want to pull out your own hair, especially when you know that you'll come back and pave over it with something beautiful.
Until the next update, everyone. Stormy, out!