(Another chapter because, I don’t know, Chinese New Year, probably. This chapter feels like filler to me for some reason)
Looking through the set of photographs he’d been given, Shark was only becoming increasingly more perplexed.
“Dad, I’m…Not sure what I’m looking at here.” On his left, Dennis held a few more pictures. On his right, he could feel Sagebear’s tail smacking against his side.
All he saw thus far were family photos. Nothing out of the ordinary. He did cringe at seeing himself being a completely different body type.
“Well, I didn’t get to see you come into the world.” Dennis crossed his arms, ashamed at having to even confess that bit. “Part of me figured that I’d try to make up for it by taking as many pictures as possible.”
Shark was certainly impressed at the quantity of pictures. It was still surreal to see him practically grow up in a visual form. Given the way she was sniffing the pictures, Sagebear was also quite impressed.
“I still don’t get why this is so important. It’s just me as I was growing up-”
“That’s right. It is you.” Dennis flipped through his stack, pulling out a picture of the two of them from many years ago. “And even at that age, I still knew how important you were to me.”
Dennis in the photo looked to be in his early twenties, at best. A glimpse on the back revealed the photo to be from March of 1996.
“Nineteen-Ninety-six. So you were…”
“Yep. I was twenty-three at the time this was taken. And I think it was your first birthday, if I remember right.” His guess was absolutely correct, if the party hat on little Shark’s head was any indication.
Annette stood awkwardly in front of Harwood now. All her glee and excitement at seeing her old friend again had now just vanished. She’d remembered this probably wasn’t the same Harwood she’d known long ago.
“Eh?” Harwood took a few steps forward in her direction, now holding his cane and draping it across the back of his shoulders. “What is it? Have you traded your voice in exchange for immortality? Or are you merely a quiet little yaoguai come to haunt an old man in his last years?”
Annette then felt Harwood take a hold of her face, squeezing her cheeks to make her expression reminiscent of a fish.
Harwood looked a bit amused, before slowly tilting her head to the left. “Or…” He adjusted his finger to tap her on the nose. “Or perhaps you aren’t here to haunt me. Are you here to grant me a share of your immortal gifts? See how I look with blue skin myself?”
“I don’t think I’m following you.” Annette said through pursed lips. She was conflicted on whether or not to hug him or punch him.
Harwood’s face took on an expression of fabricated awe. “You talk! Well, that certainly will make things far easier for me, then.”
He then let go of her face, and tapped his own nose in contemplation. “Eh, but this isn’t a proper place to chat in. Come with me and maybe I’ll make you some tea.”
Being taken by the hand, Annette was led out of his room into another, this one being far more familiar to her
Stumbling with his legs exposed, Horse-Face felt his way back down into the kitchen. Having not been present for Moony’s earlier meltdown, he was startled by the mess in front of him.
‘What happened?’ Was the question he wanted to ask. Instead, it came out as a strangled, “Uhhh…?” When Sunny realized he was standing there, he tapped Moony on the shoulder to look over behind them.
The streaks of blood on his lower half caused Moony to jump up in alarm. Now apparently disregarding the mess around them, he approached and took hold of the knife Horse-Face still had.
“Aw, what happened to you? And where’d you find my serrated knife?” Horse-Face didn’t answer. He only lifted a hand up to his neck, and coughed twice.
He then abruptly fell to the floor with a thud. Moony could only stand there, dumbfounded and trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
Sunny, at the same time, strode over and picked him up gently. Making sure he wasn’t jostled too much, he turned to move back to the table, and carefully lay him on top.
“Um…So should we clean him up, or something?”
No one was around by the time Ox-Head left his room. Happy that he wasn’t going to be interrogated for anything, he dashed out for a different room he thought was interesting.
“Is there a ring in here?” He poked his head through a bunch of materials, causing a mess when he pulled it back out. Nothing stood out to him there.
“No ring in there!” He ran out to a different room. Sniffing about that one yielded the same result.
When he reached one particular room, Ox-Head could vaguely recall The Builder having spent an immense amount of time in it lately. He knew he’d get in immense trouble or even stung for trespassing. Still, wanting to help Annette was important to him.
“Maybe there’s a ring in here!” He rooted about the tools and chemicals, knocking over at least half of them onto the floor. Finally, his eyes came upon a sparkly item nearby.
The amethyst stone glittered beautifully in its setting. Something about it just drew him to it, almost as if it were calling to him.
“Oh! Hi there! I think you’re Andromeda’s! She said something about you being purple.” He went to take it, only to then see it was already attached to someone’s finger.
“Hm?” When he looked up, Ox-Head was surprised to see a girl sitting before him. It was hard to understand how he didn’t see her until now. “Oh, hi! Um…Hi?”
She didn’t answer him, even after the second time he greeted her.
“Thanks for helping me bring these in,” Marc said with a tone of relief as he grabbed a box of fireworks. “I forgot how quickly these things come in after they’re ordered.”
“Yeah, don’t mention it.” Sinbad held the other box, marveling at the various types that promised huge bursts of color. “What, you got these to celebrate something?”
Marc nodded, as he tucked the box under his arm. “Apparently, it’s for something for the next few days. It’s for his version of New Year’s, I think.”
Smiling, he raised his free arm, and slapped Sinbad on the shoulder. “But I’m glad for the help, so…we can leave these in your truck until a later day, right?”
His smile faded when Sinbad didn’t respond. Sinbad himself froze in place, and yet began shaking.
“Uh…Hey, you okay?” He then waved his hand in front of Sinbad’s face. The box he’d been holding dropped to the ground, before Sinbad leaned downward as if to pick them back up.
Stepping back, Marc could only swallow in fear as he waited for a sign of life. This sign of life came as Sinbad began snarling, and sprang up and ran toward the door.
Marc could only look on in shock as the sliding door was yanked open, and Sinbad ran in without warning.