it’s a fact that I get overwhelmed by the amount of upd8 posts that turn up on my dash when homestuck is active, but I am still looking forward to seeing the fandom rise once again from hiatus and explode with beautiful art and theories!
(Author’s prelude: Well, here it is. This is the first piece of fan-fiction I’ve written in well over a decade, so I hope it turned out okay. Plus, I do hope I got the squid-kids involved at least mostly right. And I wish I could have actually thought of a title. But anyhow, please enjoy!)
Whinter and Logan slowly trudged back to their team’s Spawn Point at the end of the still under-construction Hammerhead Bridge, using the grated walkway that ran above the main deck.
The Turf War battle against their rivals, Team Vitamin INK, had not gone their way. Judd, the ever-present and all-seeing cat, had ruled in Vitamin INK’s favour by 51.4% of total turf inked, compared to Team Splat Jam’s measly 36.9%. There had been two major contributing factors to Splat Jam’s loss, and their names were Whinter and Logan.
Whinter’s main weakness in their battles against Team Vitamin INK was his girlfriend - the Splat Charger-wielding captain of the squad, Clementine. Neither of them had been in a particularly battling mood that match, unless your definition of ‘battling’ was the same as Marie’s during one of the Squid Sisters’ introductions for Walleye Warehouse.
Logan’s problem, however, was different. He had been as sick as a dogfish all morning, and his sniping game was way off. His usual, chocolate-brown skin was a shade paler, and his matching brown eyes were dulled.
He tried to suck in deep breaths of the salty sea air that blew through the bridge, occasionally pausing to swallow hard, both actions a valiant attempt to stop himself from throwing up. Unfortunately, the sea air really wasn’t helping his cause.
As the boys stepped around the last box on the ramp up to their Spawn Point, they saw the Inkling girl who was about to make their lives miserable for the next few minutes: Marian.
She stood with her Slosher on the bridge’s deck next to her feet, her arms crossed and her bright yellow eyes narrowed in a furious glare that, were it weaponised, would have sent the boys hurtling into oblivion.
Behind and to the left of her, Vadelma stood with her Luna Blaster in her hands, her eyes closed and smiling as serenely as she always did. If she were mad at Whinter and Logan, she certainly wasn’t showing it, and that was probably because Marian had more than enough rage to dish out without her piling on.
“Well, nice knowing you, man,” Whinter whispered to Logan, rubbing his neck to try and get rid of - or at the very least, hide - the orange-tinted hickey his girlfriend’s tentacle had marked him with.
They came to a halt a few feet away from their captain, who unfolded her arms and began rubbing her hands together. She licked her lips, and looked down at the deck, as if she were contemplating where to begin.
She cleared her throat. “Okay,” she began in a disturbingly cheerful manner, “I’d just like to say by way of… ah, introductory remarks, that I’m extremely put out by the performances from the pair of you in this match.” She started pacing back and forth slightly as she continued, “And in my… er, quest to make you both try to realise the level of my, uh, unhappiness, I’m likely to use an awful lot of what, er…"
She stopped pacing and looked to the sky, milking her theatrical consideration for all it was worth. ”…What the media outlets of our society would describe as ‘imagery of a violent and graphic nature’.“ She turned back to face the boys and clapped her hands together with a painfully forced smile. “So I just wanted to check that neither of you would have a problem with that?”
Whinter opened his mouth to try and speak, but Marian cut him off by pointing at him and growling, “Do. Not. EVEN.” Her beak twisted into a snarl that made it look like she was about to open wide and bite his head off. The Krak-On Splat Roller boy quickly shut his mouth and shrank back from his captain’s outburst.
“Now,” Marian said after a brief, deathly silence, “Explain yourself. Would you care to tell me exactly why you and Clementine were at the same point of the map for the majority of the match? And don’t say you weren’t, because remember, I can pick you up on my map. But do, please, choose your words carefully.”
Whinter held his free hand up, whilst still rubbing the hickey on his neck with the other, and tried to give his captain a goofy smile. “Look, she’s pretty good, y'know? She had me pinned down the whole time.”
Marian kept her glare fixed on Whinter, even though she heard Vadelma snort with amusement at his phrasing.
Whinter shrugged. “I mean, I did try to get one over her-” Vadelma snorted again, “-But, y'know, with her it’s hard to take charge and be on top of the situation…”
Vadelma spluttered and covered her mouth with a hand. Marian turned her head to look back at her and simply said, “Vadelma. No.” in the same way one would speak to a misbehaving child.
Knowing she was getting nowhere with Whinter - and trying to keep her ink from boiling - Marian closed her eyes, took a deep breath, held it, and then exhaled. “Logan,” she said, addressing her E-Litre 3K-using team-mate calmly with her eyes still closed. “You’re normally a lot better than that. What was the problem today?”
When she opened her eyes, however, she got a very good idea as to what was wrong very quickly. The colour from Logan’s face had drained even more, giving him an almost deathly pallor, and his cheeks bugled. The Charger weapon he carried clattered to the deck as his hands flew to his mouth.
He dashed to the open area to the Spawn Point’s right, and gripped onto the handrail for dear life as he bowed his head over the side. Even as the wind picked up and howled through the girders of the bridge, his violent and disturbing vomiting was all too plain to hear.
The three members of Team Splat Jam who weren’t currently throwing their guts up into the ocean below looked at each other uncomfortably. “I think maybe we should be going,” Vadelma finally offered.
After some hasty apologies to the jellyfish foreman had been made, the team retreated to Café Caldamari, the coffee shop just outside of Inkopolis Plaza that was owned by Vadelma’s family. Whinter had picked up an orange juice, Vadelma a frappe latte, and Marian a coffee so black she may as well just have gotten a cup full of raw beans.
Logan, however, was taking small sips of a large glass of Inkling-friendly water with added ice cubes. The colour had returned to his face and, though still a little wobbly, it was almost as if he hadn’t been sick at all. The glass of water was merely a courtesy - though he didn’t want to risk consuming anything stronger just yet.
“Dude,” Whinter grinned. “You so nearly hit one of those workers.”
Logan groaned and blushed in embarrassment at the spectacle he had caused. “I so did not! Shut up.”
“What was that all about?” Marian asked, after a sip of coffee.
Logan shifted uncomfortably and glanced at Vadelma as he answered. “Well, uh, Tanrine caught me before we went into the Lobby and handed me a box of cookies…”
The serene smile on Vadelma’s face wavered ever so slightly. “Ah,” was all she said, quietly.
Tanrine, the energetic Inkbrush-using member of Team Vitamin INK, had been swinging by Vadelma’s place frequently and been getting tutelage in baking. To call her ‘a work in progress’ would have been really very generous indeed.
“…Aaaand I had kinda skipped breakfast, so I figured having a few wouldn’t… well, hurt,” Logan continued, shrinking in his seat in fear of repercussion from either Marian or Vadelma.
There was a long, awkward silence.
“…She is actually getting better,” Vadelma finally said, scratching her cheek. “She only burned about… er, four batches before those ones.”
“That girl’s a menace,” Marian said abruptly. “I should contact the league and have her barred for attempting to poison fellow competitors.”
Whinter and Logan stared at their captain in horror, whilst Vadelma frowned. “That’s really not very nice of you to say that, Marian,” she said firmly. Though she respected Marian’s position as team captain and quietly harboured an affection for her, neither of those facts would ever stop her from showing her displeasure when she felt it was needed.
Marian rolled her eyes. “I was joking. I wouldn’t do such a thing,” she said flatly, though her statement was only half-true. She looked at her watch, downed the rest of her coffee and stood up. “Okay, next practice is the day after tomorrow, 10:30 sharp. See you all then.”
As she walked out, Vadelma finished her drink and also stood up. “I’d ought to go, too. I need to get freshened up for the afternoon shift. Are you okay now, Logan?”
Logan smiled a little. Vadelma always acted like a big sister to the boys and, after a day he’d had so far, he appreciated it greatly. “Yeah, thanks. Catch you later!”
Whinter nodded and smiled too. “Yeah, see ya!”
As Vadelma left them to their drinks, Logan fished his iSquid from his pocket. “Oh hey, I forgot to yell ya. I got those tickets to the Rainmaker quarter-finals on Wednesday night. You still down?”
“Oh, heck yeah!” Whinter grinned. The grin melted into a frown, however, when Logan cleared his throat loudly. “Oh, dude, you’re not gonna spew again, are ya?”
Logan shook his head and took a long sip of water. “Nah, I’m good. Just… that really rotten taste in your mouth afterwards. Y'know?”
He sighed and rotated the glass on the tabletop with his fingertips. The whole thing with the cookies had left him feeling rotten emotionally as well as physically. Though the results of her baking could legally be defined as chemical weaponry, deep down he genuinely appreciated Tanrine making the effort and thinking of him as she learned the craft.
The incident earlier, however, had spooked him. Most of the time, the cookies were just plain awful, but he always forced a smile and pretended to enjoy them. Until today, however, they had never made him violently ill.
A small part of him felt like he should say something to her about it. But that small part was drowned by the overwhelming worry of upsetting her, and of possibly even ruining their friendship.
The massive crush he had on her didn’t help matters at all.
Tanrine was the kind of squid-kid who always wore her heart on her sleeve. He remembered the time when she had broken her Inkbrush and he happened to be passing by. She was crying as if a close relative had passed away, she watched in awe as he diligently tinkered away in repairing it, and she celebrated like it was her birthday when he presented it, as good as new, back to her.
Then she had kissed him on the cheek and ran off in delight, not realising in the process that she had marked his heart as a target for Cupid’s arrow.
The long, strained groaning sound he made clued his team-mate into his dilemma. “Couldn’t you think of something to say to her to, I dunno, just get her to ease off giving you cookies for a little while?” Whinter asked.
Logan pulled the Camo Mesh Cap off in frustration, and scratched his head with the peak. Whinter’s suggestion seemed like one of the least-worst options, but he still didn’t like it. “I… maybe? I-I dunno. What could I say?”
Whinter spotted a flash of olive green outside the café’s window. As the bell above the door jingled, he leaned towards Logan with a gritted beak. “Dunno, but you might wanna think of something quick,” he whispered. “We got incoming.”
Logan’s brow furrowed as he put his cap back into place. “What do you mean, inco-”
“HEEEEEEEEEEY, LOGAN!” Tanrine’s voice called out over the general bustle of the coffee shop, as she skipped towards them with a big smile on her face. “Oh, hiya Whinter! What’s up?”
“Nothin’ much, Tanrine!” Whinter grinned. “You?”
“Nah, just havin’ a wander around,” she replied, and then added with complete innocence in her voice, “The cap'n told me she’s expectin’ a rematch with you tonight.”
Whinter laughed nervously and scratched his cheek. When it came to shipping and relationships, Tanrine was the yang to her cousin Daisy's yin. Luckily, she then decided to spare him any further embarrassment and turned to Logan.
“So, how were the cookies? Did you eat them all?” she asked, expectantly.
“Uh, y-yeah, thanks for those!” Logan smiled, trying to keep the panic out his voice as it cracked like it always did in her presence. “I-I, uh, uh, didn’t eat them all, though. Um…”
Tanrine’s smile disappeared and she tilted her head quizzically. “Oh… did… did you not like them? W-were they… not…”
Logan’s brain screamed with panic as his worst fears seemed to become reality. His friendship, his crush on her were about to be ruined for the rest of time, and he wished that someone or something would reach down and pull him out of the proverbial hole he was in. “Oh! Oh, n-no, they, they, they were great! I-It’s just… I, uh… I, uh…”
“He’s on a diet,” Whinter said casually, and the proverbial hole dropped another six feet.
Tanrine blinked in surprise. “Oh! Really?”
Seeing no way out other than to just roll with it, Logan nodded nervously. “Uh, y-yeah. I-I didn’t want t-to say, y'know, since you’d, y'know, gone to all that trouble to, y'know, make them and stuff…”
The big smile reappeared on Tanrine’s face. “Aw, that’s okay!” she giggled. “Thanks for letting me know! And I guess it makes sense, you sniper guys are always hanging around places instead of running around the battlefields and stuff. You mustn’t get a lot of exercise, huh?”
“…Um, y-yeah, something like that,” Logan replied. He knew he was a bit of a lazy squid-kid by nature, but to have it pointed out so casually by another person made him uncomfortable - almost to the point of beginning to wonder whether or not he really should go on a diet.
“Though, I dunno,” Tanrine thought to herself. “I kinda like how cuddly you look right now.”
It was only when she saw Whinter’s exaggerated blink, and Logan pulling his cap down over his eyes while his cheeks flushed cobalt blue, did she realise that she hadn’t so much thought that as said it out loud for all to hear.
Her eyes widened in shock, whilst her jaw dropped and her cheeks flushed with heat and embarrassment. “Uhhhhhhh…” she croaked. “Anyway! Gotta go! I need to, uh… I need to… iron… my… my… uhhhh… grandmother… and things!”
With that, she took off out of the shop like she had been launched from an Inkzooka. Once she was most definitely out of sight, Logan punched his team-mate in the arm. “Jerk,” he grumbled.
“Ow!” Whinter protested. “What was that for?!”
“Dude!” Logan retorted. “Why the heck did you blurt out that I was on a diet?!”
“Oh! Oh, yeah, right! You seriously telling me you had something better in mind?”
“No, but that’s not the point! What if she sees me one day when I’m, like, cramming a burger in my face?!”
Whinter looked up to the ceiling, his eyes slowly narrowing as he thought. As he did so, Logan could almost hear horrible grinding noises as his brain ticked over. After a few moments he said, “Protein.”
Incredulity and confusion met in a head-on collision on Logan’s face. “'Protein’? W-Wha…?”
“Yeah, protein!” Whinter grinned winningly. “You could tell her you’re gaining weight so you can bulk up! Chicks dig swole guys, don'tcha know!”
The only response Logan felt he could make to that was to take off his cap again and head-butt the table in exasperation.
Daisy read back over the last few sentences she had typed and wondered if she had over-exaggerated the length and girth of Taloupe’s eleventh tentacle. She was forced to go off of guesswork since her unhelpful gamer nerd of a team-mate, Cosmo, had dodged her questions about his boyfriend’s endowment by using a cunning tactic of completely ignoring them.
After a few minutes of re-reading, Daisy decided to leave that segment in. Given the Taloupe of her current story was an über-muscled barbarian with a penchant for loincloths that were skimpy even by loincloth standards, dangerously rushing at Charger users head-on and tossing Cosmo around like a rag-doll when they were in the sack, she figured that her little touch of artistic licence wouldn’t take her legion of faithful readers out of the story too much.
She was sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar in Vadelma’s kitchen, swinging her legs as she tapped away at the keyboard on her phone’s touchscreen. Since she had finally remembered to get the new software update, she was now able to store her fan-fiction works in progress in The Reef, allowing her to work on them either at home or on the go.
She found it made her creative juices flow freer than ever, a sentence she was trying (and mostly failing) not to snicker at as it ran through her head.
Her cousin Tanrine, meanwhile, sighed and scooted herself back on the marble worktop next to the oven again, since both it and her shorts didn’t provide much grip against one another.
“So, Logan’s on a diet, huh?” Vadelma asked as she squatted in front of the glass window of the oven, checking on the strawberry cake that baked inside. Her usual smile was pulling double duty as a poker face, as she made a mental note to give Whinter and Logan a piece of her mind tomorrow for misleading the poor girl.
“Yeah,” Tanrine sighed again. “I guess that’s a good thing, though. I suck at baking, anyway.”
“Oh, now that’s not true,” Vadelma replied as she stood up.
Tanrine looked at her with a frown. “No, I do suck! I mean, I’ve nearly set fire to your kitchen, like, sixteen times!”
The number was more like twenty-three, but Vadelma didn’t want to correct her. “Oh… well, surely there must be something else you could turn your hand to?”
Tanrine mumbled something noncommittal and unzipped the breast pocket of her Olive Ski Jacket. She rummaged around inside the pocket, and then pulled out a square-stitched keychain of two different colours.
“What’s that?” Vadelma asked.
Tanrine looked up at her. “Huh? This?” She looked back down at the keychain with a fond smile. “Oh, it’s a boondoggle I made when I was a counsellor at Camp Triggerfish that one summer. I found it in the bottom of my wardrobe when I was having a clear-out.”
She offered it to Vadelma, who took it and turned it over in her hands. “Wow, Tanrine, this is lovely! The colours are really fetching!”
“Y'know,” Daisy said absently whilst still pecking away at her phone’s screen, “If you wanna give Logan stuff, maybe you should try making something like that for him instead of baking cookies. It’d last longer.”
Her cousin’s eyes lit up as an idea popped into her head. She hopped down from the kitchen counter and headed for the door. “Thanks, Daisy!” she called over her shoulder.
Daisy looked up from her phone and grinned. “Go get him, Tannie!”
As she heard the door shut, Vadelma looked at Daisy. “Wow, that was a very good idea, Daisy! I never imagined you could be so…”
“So what? Sentimental?” Daisy replied, and then dramatically raised her arm to press the back of her hand against her forehead. “Oh Vadelma, you wound me! Just 'cos I’m all about the booty, that doesn’t mean I can’t be romantic?”
Vadelma laughed. “I stand corrected. How’s the story coming along?”
Daisy leaned over the table to hand Vadelma her phone. “Just finished the best part!”
Vadelma read the paragraph on the screen, frowned, and read it again. After a few moments, she tilted her head. “Ah, I can’t claim to be an expert on boys, but… are they able to do that?”
Daisy’s grin doubled in width and quadrupled in perversion. “Does it matter?”
It was the day after tomorrow, and outside of Inkopolis Tower, the two large speakers either side of the ramp leading up to the Lobby pumped out their usual music loop. Leaning against the mailbox on the opposite side of the concrete wall, Logan could feel the vibrations in the metal from the loud bass behind him. At the opposite side of the wall’s opening, Judd snored away atop his velvet cushion.
Logan shook his head. He could never wrap his head around how that critter could just sleep through the music that filled the plaza. Then again, he’d read about these strange 'cats’ and their reputation of laziness. You could probably either drop an Inkstrike next to Judd, or even fire off a Killer Wail point-blank at him, and he still wouldn’t stir. (Splatfests, however, were another matter.)
He felt a smaller vibration against his body. He had received a message on his iSquid, but the speakers had drowned out the chime. Picking up his E-Litre, he moved away from the wall to the space between the entrances of Cooler Heads and Ammo Knights, and with his other hand pulled out his smartphone.
The lock screen showed that the message had come from Marian. He swiped on the screen to jump straight into the app, and he sighed at what he had been sent. Man, he thought, and I actually got here on time for once…
“PRACTICE CANCELLED,” it read. “WHINTER UNABLE TO ATTEND DUE TO HIS MOTHER BEING ILL. WILL RE-SCHEDULE FOR ANOTHER TIME.”
Switching apps from Messages to Phone, Logan wished Marian would learn that the caps lock on the keyboard could be toggled on and off. But then again, he figured, it was Marian - she had to make her point somehow.
As he started walking towards the other end of the plaza so he could hear the call better, he brought up Whinter’s home number from his contacts and dialled him.
After a few rings, the receiver on the other end picked up. For a short while, there was the sound of fumbling and the muffled voice of a young girl muttering as she struggled with the device.
Logan chuckled quietly to himself. It was Whinter’s little sister, Cloud, who was trying to answer the phone. She was in that age in an Inkling’s life where her body hovered awkwardly between 'kid’ and 'squid’, but not with enough 'kid’ attributes - like fingers and thumbs - to be able to hold onto things with any sort of ease.
“Hel-” the girl started, and then came more sounds of the phone being fumbled. The little voice came back on the line after a few seconds, sounding even more frustrated. “Hello?”
“Hey, Cloud! It’s Logan! Is your brother there?”
“Oh! Hiya, Logan! Yeah, he’s here. Let me get him for ya.”
He heard her take a deep breath before she hollered at the top of her voice, “BIG BROTHEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!” He flinched and pulled the phone away from his ear - Cloud had yelled down the receiver just as much as she had for her sibling.
“Dang,” Logan muttered to himself. When he put the phone back to his ear, he could hear Whinter approaching.
“Oops! Sorry!” Cloud replied, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Logan wants to talk to you.”
“…Why are you whispering?”
“Because Momma’s sleeping! You said so yourself!”
“Yeah, but you don’t have to whisp- aw, forget it. Thanks, sis.” There was a rattle as he took the receiver from Cloud. “Hey, man.”
“Hey there,” Logan said. “Sorry to hear about your mom, she all right?”
“Yeah, nothing too serious. She’s just having one of her off days, y'know?” He then sighed. “Sorry, I gotta bail on you tonight. Mom said she’d be fine enough to look after Cloud later, but with my brothers out of town and all that junk… I dunno, just don’t wanna risk it, y'know?”
Logan nodded. “Dude, it’s cool. I can cancel the tickets easy enough.”
“What? No! Why the heck shouldn’t you go just 'cos I can’t? Couldn’t you get someone to go with you in my place?”
Logan took off his cap and scratched his head. “Yeah, I guess, but who am I gonna ask?”
Whinter snickered. “You could always ask Tanrine, see if she’s game…”
Logan blushed. “Wha-? Dude!”
Whinter’s snickering turned into a full-blown giggle. “Yo, you could totally make a date of it and take her out to dinner, too!”
“Aw, come on, man!” Logan protested. “I can’t ask Tanrine! I don’t think she’d-”
“Can’t ask me what?” Tanrine asked from behind him.
“GAAAH!” Logan shrieked, practically Super Jumping from fright. For someone as energetic and boisterous as she was, she was disturbingly capable of sneaking up on people sometimes.
Trying to compose himself, Logan turned his attention back to his team-mate. “Uh, gotta go! Tell your mom I hope she’s better soon!”
Whinter was now cackling like a madman on the other end of the line. “Yeah, will do! Catch ya later!” He then whispered, “Good luck to ya, buddy,” and hung up.
“Hey, I made you something!” Tanrine smiled, her braces shining brightly on her broad beak, as she dug her hand into the pocket of her ski jacket. Putting his phone away, Logan began to get even more nervous until Tanrine produced her gift for him.
It was a keychain, but instead of the boondoggles she had made at Camp Triggerfish, it was a small Inkling plushie made from felt. Looking closer at its dark colouring, Logan quickly made out that the plushie was of himself.
“I think I made him a little too small to get all the camouflage on,” she explained, starting to blush slightly. “But I thought he’d be handy for your Charger, so everyone would know it was yours.”
She reached forward and clipped the plushie Logan keychain onto the hook underneath the E-Litre’s trigger guard. Her smile became a little more shy as she continued, “I… I was kinda hoping that… y'know, he might be a good luck charm for you…”
Logan looked down at his tiny, arts-and-crafts avatar and then up at Tanrine, who was looking away from him and blushing a little more. After she had done that for him, the best he could do was to swallow his pride, take a deep breath, cross all of his free fingers and ask her a question.
“Um… hey, T-Tanrine, I was wondering… do… do you have any plans for tonight?”
The orange Inkling girl’s eyes slowly rolled to look back at him. “…Uh, no…?”
“Oh, i-it’s just I have some tickets… uh, me and Whinter were going to go to the Major League Inking’s Rainmaker quarter-finals at Nautilus Stadium, b-but he had to drop out 'cos his mom’s ill…”
“Oh my gosh!” Tanrine interrupted, her hands flying to her mouth. “I should call him, I hope she’s okay…”
“…So I, uh, was wondering if… if y-you’d like to come with me?”
In the studio overlooking the plaza, Callie and Marie were sitting at their table away from the cameras, like they always did between Inkopolis News broadcasts. Marie was leaning back in her chair, her hand cupped around her chin and cheek as she tried her best to look interested in the story her cousin was telling her.
“So… so I told Moe,” Callie giggled, tapping her index finger on the table to punctuate her words, “I told him, 'Yo, ya little shrimp, you can’t go mouthing off when you’re small enough to fit between two slices of bread’!” She paused as she snorted in amusement. “And then, and then, you know what that small fry said? He said -”
“HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHH?!” Tanrine’s cry roared throughout Inkopolis Plaza, its volume almost rattling the large pane of glass that ran the length of the studio.
The Squid Sisters looked at each other in confusion, and then shifted in their chairs to look out of the window, hoping to see who had decided to show off their imitation of Godzilla. After a few moments, Marie sat back in her chair and asked Callie in a flat tone of voice, “I’m guessing that’s not what he said?”
With his eyes shut tight - a reflex action to Tanrine’s outburst - Logan stuck his finger in his ear and waggled it around briefly, trying to restore his hearing.
“…I-if you weren’t busy, that’s all,” he smiled awkwardly. He opened his eyes to see her wide-eyed and even wider-mouthed in shock at the question he had put to her.
She wasn’t moving, and didn’t even blink. “…Um. Tanrine?” he asked, waving his hand in front of her eyes, with no response. Oh, Great Zapfish, he thought to himself, I think I’ve broken her.
Her cheeks were now almost burning orange, and he was a little scared that she was about to explode into ink at any second. Finally, her jaw retracted back into place and slowly she tried to form words. ”…Y-you… you want…“
Her brain then took a moment to reboot properly, and she blinked a few times. “I-I’d love to!” she said, with a massive smile on her face. “That sounds great, Logan!”
Logan’s smile widened too, although it wouldn’t be until much later when he would realise that the nervous stammer that usually came with talking to her had all but disappeared with what he said next.
"Great! The event doesn’t start 'til about 7:30, but I thought… if we met at the station at around about five… it doesn’t take all that long to get to the stadium by train, so I thought maybe we could… we could grab a bite to eat beforehand? I know of a burger place nearby that’s really legit.”
“Okay, yeah! That sounds great!” she beamed, before something clicked in her brain. “Wait a sec. I thought you were on a diet?”
Logan fought hard not to cringe at his little screw-up, but luckily his newfound (yet still unnoticed) confidence helped him cover his mistake. “Oh, well, kinda. I’m doing a bit of protein intake,” he said, flexing his arms a little. “Thought I might try building my body up a touch, y'know?”
Tanrine’s eyes glazed over again as her imagination offered up a little mental picture. Had Daisy been there (and had the power to read minds), she would have been proud of her cousin for being so quick on the draw.
Realising she was spacing out, Tanrine’s brain quickly filed the image away for a closer and more detailed study later. “Oh!” she said, her voice squeaking. She cleared her throat quickly and added, “Okay, then! Um, well, see you at five, then!”
With that, she started to skip off towards home. As he watched her go, reality began to sink in for Logan, and his head spun with realisation. That just happened. He’d done it. He’d asked the girl he had such a crush on out for the evening.
He had asked. Tanrine. Out. His mind began to race with possibility.
Within moments, he was imagining himself working alongside Sheldon in Ammo Knights. But just as his wife and three children were entering the store, reality decided to rudely butt in - and it used the very girl he was fantasising about to do so.
“Just a moment there, mister!” Tanrine said, snapping him out of his reverie. He hadn’t even noticed her standing right in front of him again until she had spoken. “Is… is what we’re doing tonight… a-are we going out on a date?!”
It was now the turn of Logan’s brain to crash and reboot itself. After a few moments of stammering incoherently, he finally said, “Uh… I… I guess we are…?” He then nodded as he got to grasps with the concept. “Y-yeah! I guess we are! I-if, y'know, that’s okay with you…”
“Oh, HECK YEAH!” Tanrine whooped, leaping into Logan’s arms. Her arms flew around his head so quick as to knock his hat clean off, and her legs wrapped around his waist. He reflexively caught her, his left hand pressing gently into the small of her back, whilst his right arm scooped up under her thighs.
He panicked for a second, thinking his right hand had brushed against her rear as his arm moved to support her - but if it did, she hadn’t noticed. Time seemed to slow to a crawl for him. He wanted to stay in this moment with Tanrine forever.
Just as soon as she had leapt into his arms, though, she jumped back down. “Snap!” she cried. “I’d better get going!” She took off at speed, waving furiously and shouting back to him, “I’ll see you later! Station o'clock at the train five!”
After a few seconds, she was nowhere to be seen in the plaza, but her giggling still carried in the air. It made Logan feel all warm inside hearing it. After bending down to pick up his cap, he slung the E-Litre over his shoulder, its new plushie keychain swinging, and made his way out of the plaza.
As he walked home, his imagination continued showing him his beautiful wife Tanrine kissing him in Ammo Knights, whilst the children played at their feet.