Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Insert Halycon Days Here

Adrian tore the last strip of duct tape free of the roll and stepped back to admire his handiwork, smirking a little to himself. "There. That should do it."

Duct-tapped to the wall by her arms, legs, waist and mouth, Aster struggled to free herself. "Mmmmm… mmmmmph!"

Her words would have been unintelligible to anyone with the duct tape on her mouth, but Adrian had spent a long time reading up on languages and was able to get the gist of what she was saying. "Oh no, you're not getting down. You'll wreck my Library by breaching the fourth wall."


"Yes, it is you! You're the only one who besides me who's not a self-insert and is willing it risk it!"

Her eyes widened slightly. "MMmmmm! MMMM!"

"How do I know that? I'm the Librarian!" He gestured to the towering shelves around them, each filled to bursting with books and tomes of all shapes and sizes. "Do you think all these books are just for show?"


"Why ask me what you are? I won't tell you either way and you should already know what you are. You're not as thick-headed as you act all the time, Aster."

"Mmmmmm… kyaa~?"

He waggled a finger at her, smirking. "Of course the duct tape will hold. First law of the universe: You can never have too much duct tape."

"Mmmm. MMm-mmm-hmmm."

"Okay, first law of my universe." Adrian amended. "And yes, I know you have a huge amount of dark power from your universe, but this is still my Library and I'm stronger than you, no matter where we are. So… until you learn to behave, I'm not letting you down."

"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" Aster struggled hard against her bonds.

"Oh, don't worry. I'll hold the latest manga just for you, so you can read them… much later. Like a day or two." Satisfied that is work was done, Adrian stowed the duct tape in his trenchcoat and dusted himself off.
Aster had been surprising tough to subdue, but after drawing her attention away with some yo-yo tricks, he'd managed it.


"Huh" He glanced at her. "What is it?"

"Mmmm… mmm!" She jerked her head at him.

"What about my ears?" The Librarian frowned a little and brushed some hair away from his ears… only to pause in mid-motion when felt nothing but smooth skin where his ears had been. "Oh no…"

He hustled over to a mirror mounted on the wall and a deep sigh escaped him at what he saw. "Wonderful… just wonderful…" A pair of pointed cat ears sat near the top of his head, twitching and flicking now and again and colored a snow-white to match his hair. "You know, things like this never bode well for me at all…"


"What now?" Adrian turned to see Aster, eyes-wide and staring at him… or actually the space just behind him…

Adrian twisted his head over his shoulder to figure out what she was staring at… and saw a white-furred tail extending behind him. "What the…"

The tip of the tail twitched.

For the first time in a long time, the Librarian did something he hadn't done before.

He fainted.


"Man… Adrian should really have a map of this place or something…" Blake rubbed the back of his head and glanced around the hallway he was in, which had doors running down either side of it. "With all the time we spend in this place, you'd think we know the layout by now, but everything keeps changing the moment I turn my back…"

He looked to the end of the hallway. Lots of doors, all of them looking exactly the same.

He glanced in direction he'd come from.

Still more doors.

"Well, I'm not going to find the kitchen just by standing around and Adrian did say any of the dangerous doors were locked, so it shouldn't be that hard to find one that will get me back to somewhere I recognize…" Blake walked up to the nearest door and grabbed the handle. Finding it unlocked, he pulled it open… and his jaw dropped.

"We're the ants who steal your picnic, we're the ants who ruin your fun…" Marching across a grassy plain was and carrying a picnic basket, a baked ham, a turkey, several cans of soda and a loaf of bread, among other things was a group of cartoonish ants. "We'll take it all while you're away…"

"…the hell!"

"We're the ants who steal your picnic…"


"Gulstaff, you have entered the door to the north," Sumire said, DM-ing for Emma, Doyle and Thought Marcus seated at the card table with her. The lights were turned out and the table was lit by two they had found stashed in the kitchen had brought from his dorm room. "You are now by yourself, standing in a dark room. The pungent stench of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls..."

"WHERE ARE THE CHEETOS!" Emotion Marcus called from the kitchen.

Sumire broke off her narration and sighed. "They're right next to you!" she shouted.

"I cast a spell," Doyle said, holding a finger in the air.

"WHERE'S THE MOUTNAIN DEW?" Emotion Marcus called out again.

"In the fridge! Duh!" the DM returned.

"I want to cast a spell," Doyle repeated in annoyance.


"Yes, you can have a Mountain Dew! Just go get it!" Sumire shouted.

Doyle flipped through the Dungeons and Dragons handbook. "I can cast any of these spells on the list, correct?"

"Yes, any of the first level ones," Sumire told him.

"I'M GONNA GET A SODA!" Emotion Marcus called from the fridge. "ANYONE WANT ONE? HEY, SUMIRE, I'M NOT IN THE ROOM, RIGHT?"

"What room?" Sumire screamed back.

"I want to cast 'Magic Missile,'" Doyle announced, ignoring the byplay.


"He hasn't cast anything yet!" Sumire shouted back.

Sitting next to her, Thought Marcus rubbed his temples.

"I am, if you would listen." Doyle said calmly. "I'm casting 'Magic Missile.'"

"Why would you cast Magic Missile?" Sumire asked. "There's nothing to attack here!"

"HEY!" Emotion Marcus cried out again from the fridge. "WHERE AM I?"

"You're at the tavern!" Sumire shouted back.


As one, Thought Marcus and Sumire sighed.

"Okay! Enough!" Sumire cried, turning to Doyle. "Gulstaff, You still carry the beating monkey's heart of Gatsu Gibi in your hand. Suddenly, a luminous being in the shape of a woman appears before you..."

"Is she pretty?"

"What?" Sumire asked, thrown off by the question.

"Is she pretty?" Doyle asked again.

"Um... Yeah, sure, I guess so..." the DM replied.

"Can I ask her to go on a date with me?"

Sumire rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine! Roll a charisma check."

Doyle rolled the dice and grinned. "Two! At last, I finally get a date."

The DM grinned. "The woman turns out to be a succubus and consumes your soul!"

"What? That's nonsense!"

Sumire turned to Thought Marcus. "Thought Marcus of Highland, you..."

"ANYONE ELSE WANT A SODA?" Emotion Marcus asked.

Sumire slammed her head into the table repeatedly. "Why me…?"

"That will cause brain damage…" Doyle noted calmly.


Blake bolted out the door and back into the hallway, slamming it closed behind and breathing heavily. "How the hell did Adrian get a kraken in here!"

Wiping some panicked sweat off a brow, he walked down the hallway about a dozen feet and opened another door. "Please be the right one…"

The scent of cigar smoke hit his nostrils and Blake stared at the four dogs seated around a circular poker table, all of them with cards in their paws and stacks of chips in front of them, all dressed to look Victorian English gentleman.

One of the dogs nudged a stack of chips toward the center of the table. "I'll raise you fifty pounds."

Blake stared.

Another dog, this one with a top hat and monocle woofed sadly and set his hand on the table face-down. "Too rich for my blood, my good fellows. I'll have to sit this hand out…"

Blake continued to stare.

The third dog glanced at his hand and then the pot and blinked he caught sight of Blake. "Ah… are you the young man with our pizza?"



Adrian scowled and stalked towards the Hospital Room. After waking up from his fainting spell, he knew that he had only a few books on human/animal transformation available to the public, with the rest in his private wing and he also knew that while several of the Society's members were magically inclined to one degree or another, only one had managed to read and use the 'Furry Transformations' book of spells.

Tash Marquand.

She had only used it once before, but flubbed the spell up and actually turned him into a white-furred cat for a week. That had been an interesting experience… Tash had refused to let him out her sight for more than minute and managed to convince the rest of the Society that his name was 'Whiskers'. Though, she had taken very good care of him and even done all his paperwork and Librarian duties as best she could until the spell wore off.

But Adrian drew the line at people altering his anatomy without his permission. Full transformations, he could deal with. But a pair of kitty ears and a tail? No way. Bad enough that he did it to himself on accident, (he still got queasy at the memory of that squid-mix he'd become for an hour while trying to use a spell that made instant sushi), but on purpose?

She was going to get a piece of his mind, maybe two.

The Librarian pushed open the door to the Hospital Room and stepped inside. "Tash, you and I really need to talk. What's the big idea-"

He paused in mid-sentence and one foot inside the door. Tash, sitting on the edge of her bed (broken leg fully-healed) was surrounded by a group that consisted of most of the Society's women. They had been talking and giggling when Adrian had arrived, but stopped and looked up when he opened the door.

"Ummm…" Adrian frowned. "Could give Tash and I a minute? We need to talk…"

They didn't seem to hear him, their eyes glazing over slightly and fixing on his pointed ears and tail as they twitched, tracking their movements like a surface-to-air missile on a slow-moving plane.

Adrian paled considerably.

For a moment they stayed like that… and then the girls lunged at him en masse.




He ran for his life, the crowd of girls hot on his heels.


"Captain, there are Klingons off the starboard bow!" The speaker was a man red shirt and a badge on his chest. "Shall I opening a hailing channel?

"Hold on. We're Starfleet. We come in peace." Captain James T. Kirk sat back in his chair and made a swift gesture. "Shoot to kill."

"Aye, sir!"

Blake stared around, confused. "I don't even remember opening a door to get here!"


Michael and Claire sat in one of the reading rooms, seated across from one another and playing a game of checkers. It had taken some coaxing, but Claire had managed to convince Michael to come out the his room after repeated assurances that she and the others forgave him and the darkness wouldn't be able to take control of him the Library, considering how well-lit Adrian kept it, along with the fact the Library's natural magic suppressed all foreign magic within its walls.

Michael smirked and jumped a couple of Claire's red checkers. "Got you…" He added her two the moderately-sized stack he had next his side of the board.

His girlfriend pouted cutely at him. "No fair. Just because you're possessed doesn't mean you have to win every game like that… why not let me win for a change?"

The Gary-Stu Gutter chuckled and started to reset the playing board. "I've only won a few games, Claire…"

"Twenty out of twenty-one we've played!"

"Well, then this is your chance to start evening the score, now isn't it?"

She scowled and then leaned over the board, pecking him on the cheek. "If I wasn't in love with you, I'd say you were being sarcastic…"

He chuckled and smiled at her. "Now, why would you think that…?

"No! No! Get away from me! I don't want collar or ribbons!" Adrian dashed past the back of Michael's chair, the crowd of girls seconds behind, all of them waving kitty collars, ribbons, bows and lace as they chased him, still squealing 'BISHIE!', 'KITTY!', and 'SO CUTE!'

"Ummmm…" Claire blinked and stared, lifting her finger to half-point in confusion at the space behind Michael. "Did I just see…?"

"Adrian turned into a cat being chased by most of the Society's girls?" Michael continued to set up the checkers. "Yep."

"But how… why…"

"Eh. You get used to it…" Michael reached over and started setting up his girlfriend's pieces, she was still busy staring.

"For the love of God, stop chasing me! And get away from me with that glitter!" Adrian ran screaming past them in the opposite direction, girls still hot his heels and now waving jars of glitter, sheets of stickers and hair gel.

Claire stared after them as the strange procession vanished out the door, Adrian's shouts growing fainter and fainter. "Shouldn't we… like… do something?"

"I've learned it's best not to interfere." Michael shuddered a little at the memory of the last time he'd gotten between the girls and their target. "I didn't even know you could do that with a spork…"


A red-haired, red-armored fighter drew a sword, while a man in a red cap and feathered had drew a dagger while a woman in white muttered under her breath and a man in blue, face hidden by his hat, gestured with his hands, fire dancing around his fingertips.

"So you are the Light Warriors?" A tall, armored knight with a rich velvet cape and horns on his helm stood proud and clanked his fist against his chest plate. "I, Garland, will knock you all down!"

Blake stared at the scene in front from and then down at his hands. "I've gone 8-bit…."


"Where could he be?" Harriet frowned as she and the other girls looked around the massive room they were in, checking between bookshelves and behind the chairs. "We saw him come in here and this room only has the one door!"

"Hmmmm…" Kate checked behind a pillar, shaking a jar of glitter in her hand. "Do you think the red or the blue glitter would look good in his hair?"

Tash walked out from between some bookshelves, twirling a kitty collar on one finger. "Personally, I just want to put a collar and leash on him and get some pictures…"

"Dirty-minded, aren't we?" Camille asked, dropping to the ground. "And he's not on the tops of the shelves, either."

"Are you kidding?" Tash snickered and rubbed her hands together with a satisfied look on her face. "I sell some of those photos to the tabloids, and I'll be able to pay off my university debt!"

"Well, none of that will happen if we don't find him!" Harriet harrumphed, hands on her hips as she looked around. "Where could he have gotten to?"

"He's on the ceiling, kyaa~…" Aster poked her head from around a bookshelf and everyone jumped a little. She pointed upwards. "See?"

All of the girls craned their necks and indeed, Adrian was on the ceiling, hugging it bodily and for dear life.

Tash's jaw dropped. "How the hell did he manage that! And how are we supposed to get him down!"

"No problem…" Aster walked out from behind the shelf, pulling a little red wagon stacked high with various manga volumes with a grunt. "His claws aren't long enough for him to do that…"

Up on the ceiling, Adrian blinked once. "They aren't?" Then gravity kicked in and he fell with a yelp to the floor and a smash. "…ow…"

The Librarian lifted his head and glared at Aster, who smiled sweetly at him. "How much manga do you have on that wagon?"

"Half of the Library's total."

He raised an eyebrow. "And is it going to wind up back on the shelves when you're done with it?"


"You wanna re-phrase that? Or do I get to lock you into the fourth Uglies book again?"

She flinched at the mention and then sighed. "Okay, it will…"

"Good." He jumped to his feet and dusting off his trenchcoat. Then he frowned at her. "How'd you get free of the duct-tape!"

Several floors below, Kyle scratched his head as the ruins of the wall in front of him. "I don't understand…who could such a thing?" He nudged a bit of the debris a foot. "But at least the duct-tape held…"

Aster scratched her head, looking confused. "Kyaa… I don't remember… was it the explosives? Or did I use that last time and this time I used the acid…?"

"WHAT!" Adrian twitched. "You have explosives? In my Library?" Before his irritation could reach its peak, he suddenly remembered he was being chased and ran away screaming bloody murder as the girls clamored after him.

Aster watched them go and then turned to her wagon, scratching her head. "So many manga, so little time…"


"What! This is madness!" The Persian messenger stammered, suddenly fearful of his life as he glanced around wildly for help and found none.

"Madness?" King Leonidas took a step towards the messenger, a sneer on his face as he kicked the messenger in the gut and sent him tumbling back into the Pit of Death. "THIS… IS… SPARTA!"

Seconds passed, and then Blake fell out the sky and into the pit, screaming, "I… AM… SO… LOST!"


The Librarian skidded into his office and slammed the door behind him, yanking out a key ring with about two dozen keys on it and slipped one into the door, locking it tight with a 'click!' and breathing out a sigh of relief.

Running a hand through his hair and frowning as he felt his new cat ears twitch as his fingers brushed them. "Man… I thought I'd never lose those girls…."

He walked around to his desk and flopped down in the chair with a deep sigh, rubbing his face. "I haven't had this much trouble since I tried to teach them 'Boot to the Head'." Another sigh escaped him and he closed his eyes, losing himself in the memory that had happened shortly after the Society had moved into the Library. "But then, that went much better than this…"


Adrian sat cross-legged on a mat, with the others sitting in rows facing him, also sitting on mats. They were in the Library's training room, but right now, all of the equipment had been pushed aside to clear the center. "Learning 'Boot to the Head' requires not only a fit body, but a fit mind. To learn how to do it, you must learn the ways on your own soul. Meditate with me on this now... aaahhh-ooohmmmm..."

The rest of the Society's members joined in.

A hand shot up as they meditated. "Ummm… hey… Adrian…!"

The Librarian cocked his head. "Who disturbs our meditation like a ripple disturbs the pond?"

A girl with blue eyes and waist-length blonde hair stood up. "Me, Tash. You know, the Chief Agent?"

He blinked. "Tash? What kind of name is that?"

Tash ignored him and continued speaking. "I don't mean to be rude, but since I've had kickboxing training, can you teach me it right now, 'cause I've got a presentation back home that I need get done or it will kill my grades.."

Adrian shook his head. "Tash, you can't learn 'Boot to the Head' so easily. It takes time and effort and patience."

"Okay." She nodded sagely. "How long are we talking about? An hour, two hours… a day…?"

He clasped his hands in his lap. "To one who is mastering the 'Boot to the Head', time has no meaning. A year as is a day."

"A year!" Tash frowned at him. "But I've got a presentation due soon! I need to learn it now!"

The Librarian frowned at her. "Maybe you should schedule your work in the Library at a different time, then so you can get your schoolwork done!"

"I'm doing paperwork when I'm here or going out on missions! I don't have any spare time to learn this!"

"That's not my problem, now is it?"

Tash stomped her foot. "Now listen here! I need to learn this and I need to get my presentation done, so why don't you teach it to me right now and then I'll be done with it?"

Adrian sighed. "Alright then… step forwards…"

"Finally…" Tash walked up to Adrian, standing about two feet away from him. "Now… what do I do?"

"First, get into a combat stance…" He waited as Tash slid into a kickboxing stance. "Boot to the Head!" SCHWOOSH-FWUMP!

No one saw what happened, but after the noise, Tash was suddenly on the ground, a shoeprint on her face, twitching in pain. "OW! YOU BOOTED ME IN THE HEAD!

Adrian looked down at her, hands on his hips. "You're lucky, Tash. So few learn 'Boot to the Head' so fast…"

"Yeah, yeah… well, I wasn't ready!" Tash got back to her feet, and slid into another kickboxing stance, a determined look on her face. "Okay, Library-boy, try that again!"

"Boot to the Head!" SCHWOOSH-FWUMP!

"Ackies!" Tash collapsed again, a second shoeprint on her face. Scowling, she clambered back to her feet and shot a kick at Adrian's head. "Now try it!"

"Boot to the Head!" SCHWOOSH-FWUMP!

"Ow…" Tash groaned and lolled about on the floor. "Oh… mind if I just lie here and let my bones knit for a minute…?"

Adrian turned back to the rest of the Agents, many of whom were looking somewhat impressed and a tad surprised at the moaning Tash on the floor. "Now then, class, we shall…" He frowned he noticed Blake, who had been sitting in the front row, was now standing up. "Yes, what is it?"

"I would like to show you what I've learned, Adrian." Blake said respectfully. "First, anger is a weapon only to one's opponent…"

The Librarian nodded. "Good, good, you were paying attention…"

A small smirk appeared on Blake's face. "Second, get in the first shot! Boot to the Head!" SCHWOOSH-FWUMP!

Adrian blinked and turned his head to the left, where Blake's foot was extended over his shoulder. "You missed…"

"Um… ah… well…" Blake paled a little and retracted his foot.

"You, too, shall learn a lesson."

"No… really, I don't need…" He waved nervously and shuffled step back. "I think I've learned all I need-"

"Boot to the Head!" SCHWOOSH-FWUMP!

"Awww… ohhhh…" Blake twitched a little on the floor, shoeprint on his face. "…ow…"

Hands on hips, Adrian surveyed the remaining Society Agents. "Can anyone tell me what has been learned here today?"

Michael stood up. "We've learned that not a single one of us could defeat you."


"So we have to gang up you! Get him, guys!" The Society Agents leapt to their feet and charged.


Seconds later, Adrian was sitting cross-legged on the floor again, surrounding by moaning and groaning Society Agents with shoeprints on their faces. "Now let us meditate… ahhh—oohh…"

-End Flashback-

The Librarian stretched his arms above his head. "Then again, the girls certainly weren't as determined as they are now…" He pulled out a desk drawer. "I wonder if I've got any candy left…"

Just then, a bookcase swung inwards and girls stood in the passageway behind it, Tash clapping her hands. "Ha! I told you there was a secret corridor between our offices!"

Adrian's eyes widened and he scrambled for the doorway, leaping over his desk in one motion and scrabbling for the lock even as the girl's descended on him…


Red and green light flashed and sparked as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader fought across the Emperor's private room aboard the Death Star II, while the withered old Sith Lord sat on his throne and watched the two fight, laughing and cackling.

"Join us, my son…" Vader shoved Luke backwards with his blade and brought it up in a guard position. "It is your destiny…"

"No! Never!" Luke yelled and charged, a whirl of limbs and lightsaber and sparks flew as the two clashed again.

Up on a catwalk, Blake watched the fight a moment longer and then started jogging down towards a door. "I knew I should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque…"


In the Library's basement, the Sues and Stus were all locked away in individual, barred cells.

Harrison cracked his knuckles, glaring at his opponent. "This for the championship…"

Silver tucked a strand of his hair behind of his ears, looking incredibly smug. "It has already been decided. I will win, for I am perfect."

"Right…" The Dragonball Z Stu cracked his neck and flexed, muscles bulging. "I'll squash you like a bug!"

"You may try…" Silver narrowed his eyes. "But you will fail!"

They glared murderously at one another, sparks flashing midway between their eyes and the tension so thick you could cut if with a knife…

Then they clasped their hands together and said in unison: "One, two, three, four! I declare thumb war!"

Across the way, Mary-Ann moaned and rubbed her temples, trying to relieve her massive headache. "At least they aren't playing Bloody Knuckles anymore… but still… best one-fifty-one out of two hundred! Are those two really that competitive or just that dumb!"

Silver's voice floated over. "Snake in the grass is cheating, you spiky-haired twit!"

"Ha! I thought a perfect being like you was ready for anything!"

The female Sue moaned again and banged her on the wall. "Why me…?"


Blake emerged into a hallway and glanced around, looking greatly relieved that he was back in the Library. "Finally!" Shutting the door behind him, he took a moment to get a stock of his surroundings… only to see Adrian running towards him, the crowd of girls hot on his heels.

His eyes widened. "Oh… no…"

"Hi, Blake! Bye, Blake!" Adrian vaulted over his friend, not slowing down in the slightest, shouting over his shoulder. "I'm sorry about this!"

Blake didn't have time to respond as the crowd of girls ran over him, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. When it cleared, Blake lay on the ground, limbs twitching and covered in dust and shoeprints. "…this… isn't… my day…"

A few seconds later, Michael and Claire, arm-in-arm, came walking by and glanced down at him with concern on their faces. "Hey, Blake. Are you okay?"

"Snake… Snake!... Snake!" Blake murmured, his eyes little cartoon swirls.

"He's delirious…" Claire said as she and her boyfriend bent down and picked Blake up by the arms.

"Back to normal, eh?" Michael and Claire gripped their friend's arms and guided him down the hallway. "C'mon, buddy, let's get you to the Med Bay and have you checked out."

"I'm sorry, officer… the boulder didn't signal for a turn…"


It was late at night as Adrian sat in the computer chair, the only light in the room being the one from the screen and finally managed having to escape the girls due to the fact they tired themselves out. Though the Library didn't have any windows or doors out, as there was only trans-dimensional space outside and most sentient minds would implode trying to comprehend it, it operated on a twenty-four hour cycle, with twelve hours of 'day' and twelve of 'night'.

The Librarian frowned and rubbed his chin as he leaned back in the chair. "What on earth could the Sues and Stus want with these items…" He clicked a few buttons and the screen split into seven different segments, each one having the picture of a rare, magical item that rotated slowly on their vertical axis.

The Holy Grail Copy Runoa had stolen from the Librarian... after the battle in Fate/Stay Night; she'd vanished off the radar and taken the Grail with her, much to Adrian's irritation. (What does she need it for? Why doesn't she use it for something?)

Next to the Grail was a European broadsword, with an elegantly-decorated blue-and-gold hilt and razor-sharp edge. It was an Excalibur, stolen from one of the many Arthurian fandoms a few days ago. With some many versions of the King Arthur legend out there, Adrian knew it was only a matter of time before a Sue or Stu tried to grab one. But what worried him was that they had stolen this Excalibur from a particularly realistic fandom, where Excalibur had most of the powers attributed to it, but not the belt, which would have been a boon to anyone, as it kept the wearing from dying from injuries, no matter how fatal. (Why take the sword and not the belt? Such an item would be invaluable to any Sue or Stu...)

In the third box was a long-handled lance, with a silver tip that had some dried blood on it. It was the Spear of Destiny, said to have pierced the side of Jesus Christ as he hung on the cross and let blood and water flow from his side. While Adrian didn't know if that really true or not (the Library possessed hundreds of copies of the four Gospels and for the life of him, he couldn't tell which ones were the originals.), the Spear was quite powerful in its own right and this one had been taken from the Constantine fandom, where it had pierced the side of Jesus. (It's a holy artifact, no matter how you look at it. Still, the Sues aren't particularly religious and such items can only be used by the faithful… so what would they need it for? Unless they want a fancy shish-ki-bob?)

Next to the Spear was a chunk of stone, roughly three wide and four feet tall. The bottom half was missing, looking like it was broken away. It was a copy of the famous Rosetta Stone, which held the same announcement written in Greek and Egyptian on it. It was the missing link that had allowed scholars to finally crack the language of hieroglyphs and tie many of the Mediterranean dialects together with the root language of Latin. (It's a hunk of rock. An important hunk of rock, but still… it's useless today. We can translate any language into any other and Sues and Stus automatically pick them up… so why this stone?)

Fifth in line was a medium-sized vial, filled with crystal clear water that sparkled a little. Despite its plain looks, Adrian knew it to be vial water from the Fountain of Youth. (In real life, the fountain was never found, but there have been plenty of stories that involved it… and just like the other items, the Sues and Stus don't need it, because they don't age at all after a point. It's part of their nature.)

Next was a book bound in black leather, with blood-red writing on the cover in some strange, runic language, with about a dozen bookmarks sticking out of it at various intervals. It was the Necrominicon, a legendary and infamous book said to reveal hundreds of dark and terrible secrets of black magic and elder gods… but merely reading it wore on the reader's sanity until they snapped. Adrian posses several copies of the Necrominicon, locked away in a private room attached to his office only he could get into. (Such an evil and dangerous item might draw a Sue's attention. They aren't exactly pure evil, only power-hungry and arrogant, and the Necrominicon would give access to great power, but I doubt even Sue's would risk be taken over by it… so why want it?)

He glanced at the seventh item and a frown crossed his face. It was a white marble tablet, roughly two feet tall and a foot wide. It was the Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate), and legends said that you could write any question on it and get an answer to it. It was the greatest encyclopedia in the universe and Adrian's Codex of Index, which let him access any book in the Library, no matter where he was, was based off it. In fact, the Tabula Rasa had been under Adrian's guardianship. He'd locked in an off-limits hall of the Library and set all the traps and wards he could think of around it. But he'd been suspicious when the Society learned that Willowe had freed the Elementals. There wasn't any gain for her in the move and he'd quickly taken an inventory and found that she's use the Elementals as a distraction, swiping Tabula Rasa from right under his nose like the Sue she was. After that, he'd quickly upped the security on the Library. (While I'm upset she managed to steal it, I'm not too worried. No one can get it to work. Some say that you need a legendary writing instrument, but if there is one, I've never found it. So why would she want it…?)

The Librarian stared at the seven items on the screen, lost in thought. He knew that if the Sues and Stus wanted them, the items must be important. But why? He couldn't think of anything that linked the seven or why a Sue or Stu would want one… (I know there's a connection to these seven somewhere, but what is it!)

"Mmm… neh? What's with all the light?"

"MROWR!" Startled, Adrian jumped, jerked out of his thoughts by the sudden intrusion. He spun his chair around and blinked in surprised at the pajama-wearing form in the doorway. "Tash? What are you doing up so late?"

Dressed in sky-blue PJs and her hair a bit of a mess, the Society's Chief Agent rubbed at an eye sleepily. "Had a nightmare, couldn't get back to sleep." She stifled a yawn. "Wanted to get something to snack on, but got couldn't find the kitchen in the dark. Saw the light, thought someone was up, too."

The Librarian smiled and got up, heading for the door. "I'm just doing some research, but now that you mention it, I could use a snack, too. C'mon, let's go see what we can scrounge up..."


Ten minutes later, the pair was seated in one of the reading rooms, a plate of cookies and a teapot on the coffee table between them. Tash was sprawled out one of the couches while Adrian had thrown his trenchcoat over the back of a cushy armchair and sat down, sipping at his tea.

The blonde-haired girl grabbed a cookie off the plate and munched on it. "So the Sues want these seven items for a reason?"

"Yes, though I can't imagine what for…" Adrian sipped at his tea, looking thoughtful. "Seven is the most powerful magical number and if you can gather items that strong enough individually, you can multiply their combined power greatly. But none of the seven items have anything in common, so they're magic would cancel one another out."

"What about the Spear and Excalibur? Tash asked, taking another bite of cookie. "They're both weapons, aren't they?"

He shook his head. "Not really. The Spear is a holy artifact and Excalibur is a weapon of war. They're cross-purposes and while they do connect somewhat, what about the other five items?" A scowl crossed his face as he took another drink of tea. "None of what has happened recently makes any sense and it's beginning to bug me. We're doing well against the Sues and Stus, but right now we're fighting in the dark. I don't like it."

Tash nodded her agreement as she picked her tea cup up, blowing on it to cool it. "I know, but right now we have to do the best we can. Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself…" She sipped her tea and then looked a little surprised and pleased after swallowing. "This is really good…. what is it?"

The white-haired teen chuckled a little at the expression on her face, cat ears twitching in amusement. "It's an herbal blend of my own make. It helps me relax and focus. I have a lot of late nights."

She frowned a little at him over her cup. "I've noticed that, too. You're always up whenever I get up and I've never even seen you sleep at all." She nibbled on a cookie. "Do you sleep?"

"Not that often…"

"What! Everyone needs sleep!"

He looked a little uncomfortable as he re-filled his teacup. "I try not to sleep when I can help it. Too many nightmares." He waved bits of steam away from his drink. "Luckily, a monk taught me a type of mediation that helps. One or two hours of that every night is just as good as eight hours of sleep."

Tash's frown became concerned. "Nightmares? What are they about?"

"Oh, this and that." He said airily, busying himself by taking a drink of tea. "Demons, boring teachers, Michael Jackson, delivering speeches with my pants down... you know, typical nightmare stuff."

"Don't lie to me, Adrian. It doesn't become you." The British girl told him with a quiet firmness. "They aren't typical nightmares if they make the powerful Librarian want to skip sleeping entirely for god-knows-how long. Now… tell me about them?"

He sipped his tea, but she continued to look at him levelly until he finally sighed and set his cup down the table. "You know… I never told you guys how I became the Librarian…"

"What's that got do to with-"

Adrian held up a hand and cut her off. "Just listen. Please?" After she nodded, he continued. "A long, long time ago, there was a little boy who wanted to be a hero of justice and save everyone. So he trained very hard and never gave up on his beliefs. Eventually, he started doing just that, saving people who needed it.

"But the chasm between ideals and reality is huge, larger than the boy could imagine. To his shock and horror, he found himself killing those who tried to harm or destroy others. He continued to fight and try to save everyone, but more often then not, he was forced to sacrifice the few to save the many…"

"…The choice all heroes have to face eventually…" Tash murmured quietly, face solemn.

He nodded. "Yes… but the boy refused to give up on his ideals and did whatever he could to save everyone, only to have to kill more and more to protect people. Betrayed by the blood on his hands and unable to accept the fact his ideals were worthless, the boy continued to fight and save, desperately trying to convince himself that he wasn't wrong, that everyone could be saved. But time wore on and the eventually, the boy was forced to make a sacrifice - the powers that be would save this group of people he trying to protect and in exchange, he would serve them.

"So the deal was made and the people saved, but a short while later, a horrible, horrible thing happened. One of the people the boy had saved that day was a viscous and cruel man, corrupt with power and he quickly became a tyrant, cruelly ruling the people and when the boy tried to stop him, the tyrant captured and turned the boy into a scapegoat." A note of bitterness crept into the Librarian's voice. "The boy was beheaded in front of a cheering, screaming that shouted for his death."

Tash, pale and upset, set her teacup down, not trusting herself to keep from spilling it. "You were that boy…"

"Yes…" Adrian looked down at his cup. "And soon after that, I found myself as the Librarian, a Counter Guardian…"

"Counter Guardian?"

"When a threat rises up that is a danger to the whole of existence, Counter Guardians are sent to stop it." The bitterness in his voice grew. "So, to save thousands, I kill hundreds and to save millions, I kill thousands…"

"That's horrible…" Tash looked at him, concern all over her features. "…hug?"

He smiled weakly. "Thank you, but I don't deserve one…"

The Chief Agent quickly stood up and stepped over the table, practically falling over herself as she wrapped her arms tightly around him. "You're getting one anyway and you're going to like it!"

Adrian was stiff for a few moments and then returned the hug, a small smile on his face. "…Thank you…"

"Do you regret it?" Tash murmured, head on his shoulder as she continued to hug him. "Making that choice? To save those people?"

"No… and yes…" He sighed and released her, stepping away from the embrace and turning away, running a hand through his hair. "Sorry… I'm a complete mess…"

"You're not a mess!" Tash said fiercely from behind him. "You've done so much for us! Given us the Library, help fight the Sues and Stus, keep things organized, help out when we need it."

"So?" Adrian muttered, staring bitterly at the bookshelf in front of him. "It's only temporary. Eventually, the war will be over and you guys will leave and move on…"

The British girl looked confused. "Well, yes, but what's that matter now? It's a long time from right now…"

"Not to me it isn't!" He spun around, emotion flashing on his face and Tash took a step back, startled. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a damn immortal! I don't age! I can't die like that!"

"Immortal…" Tash, surprise, confusion and a little fear flashing across her face, murmured. "What are you talking about!"

"Do you know what it's like, being the Librarian!" Adrian snapped, but he seemed to be talking aloud rather than to Tash. "I have to sit in this goddamned building and watch countless innocents and suffer, because that's 'part of the plan'! Billions of people… entire civilizations… whole worlds… I watched them all die…all this power and I had to watch them die…"

"Adrian…?" Tash asked softly, concerning growing on her face at the faraway look that had appeared in Adrian's eyes.

"I've lived so long… and I've watched them go… family… friends…" He whispered so quietly that she had to strain to hear him, hands shaking slightly. "They're killed in front of me… and all I can do is pick up the pieces… and late at night, when it gets real quiet, I can hear them…"

"Adrian?" She touched his shoulder gently, her concern growing when he didn't react. "Hear who…?"

"Them… the people I've killed… they're screaming at me…" Face suddenly pale, Adrian continued to speak. "They're always screaming…"

His legs bucked and Tash moved to catch him, barely managing to catch him and keep them both upright "Adrian!"

"They scream, begging not die and I kill them anyway and they scream for my soul and I'm afraid and they scream and ask me why and I don't know… I don't know!" He moaned in pain and clutched his head, shaking badly. "Hundreds… thousands… more…. I've killed them all and they won't stop screaming at me! Every night, I hear them!"

He shuddered and shook his head, as if he were trying to rid himself of the voices. "I can't take it… why am I even alive anymore?" Another moan of pain. "Why aren't I dead?"

"Stop it!" A hand clamped over his mouth and Tash pulled him close to her, wrapping an arm around him, tears filling up in her eyes. "Just stop it!"

The Librarian shuddered and blinked, looking up at her as if it had just registered she was there. "Wha… Tash…?"

She cuddled him close. "Please, don't say that you want to die… I don't want you to die." The hand that had been on his mouth stroked his head softly, tears dripping into his hair. "Please…"

Adrian didn't know why, but he cuddled closer to her, hugging her tightly. "I'm… so alone, Tash…" Tears filled his eyes and he buried his face into her pajama top, crying. "It hurts so much… and I'm so… alone… I don't… want to be alone anymore…"

"Shhh, it's okay… it's okay.." She stroked his cheek softly and kissed the top of his head. "You don't have to be alone anymore…"

He sniffled. "It hurts… so much… and I can't… I can't take it…"

"It doesn't have to hurt anymore…" Tash tilted his chin up to look at her with a pair of fingers, smiling at him. "I promise…" She kissed his forehead. "You won't be alone… and it'll stop hurting…" Then she leaned down and kissed him gently on the lips once, twice, three times.

For a moment, Adrian didn't know what to do and then he found himself returning her kisses hesitatingly. "Tash…"

"Shhh…" She pressed her fingers to her lips and then pushed him over so that he landed on back-first onto the couch, pulling herself on top of him, planting a soft, loving kiss on his lips again. "It's okay…"

He wrapped his arms around her instinctively, confusion written on his face. "What's… why… I…?" He was silenced as she placed a hand over his mouth.

Her hands reached up and she gently petted the kitty ears atop his head, smiling when they twitched at her touch and a low purr built up from Adrian. "My kitty…" She kissed him again. "My Adrian… my Librarian…" Another kiss. "…all mine…"

"Yours?" He blinked up at her, still looking confused.

She sat up on his chest, stroking his cheek. "I was so frightened when you were impaled by all those swords and you didn't move when I cried your name…" Her hand brushed his bangs out from his eyes. "I was so happy when you survived and woke up… .it was then I decided I wasn't going to let you do that again… ever…"

Adrian shifted and frowned. "You've… been attracted to me…?"

"Of course, silly…" Her hand tugged gently at his ear and she let out a giggle when it flicked at her while she traced a pattern across his chest with a finger slowly. "I've always thought you were cute since I've met you… but it was when you fought Runoa that I realized how much you meant to me… that I loved you…"

"Love me?" He pulled her hand away from his head, blushing. "Tash, you can't fall in… you can't. I'm immortal, there's no way it'll…"

He was cut off as she cupped his cheek and kissed him again softly, smiling after she pulled away after several moments. "It'll be okay… I promise…."

"You can't promise that…" He blushed again and turned his head away. "I'm not even human…."

She lay down and rested her head on his chest. "I hear a heartbeat. You're human, Adrian. In fact, you're the most human person I know…" She lifted her head and pulled his around to look at her. "You try to hide your pain away and you do so much for us… for me… you suffer so much without complaining, without asking for anything in return. If that's not human, I don't know what is…"

He frowned again and looked somewhat upset, but didn't say anything, but she simply leaned forwards and kissed him again. This time, he couldn't help but smile and blush and she smiled warmly back him. "Now… sleep for me?"

"I told you, I don't sleep." Adrian shuddered slightly. "The nightmares…"

"Hush.." Tash put a finger to his lips and pulled the blanket from the back of the couch on top of them. "Trust me, my love. I promise that you will have no nightmares tonight…"

He looked long and deep into her eyes and then nodded slowly, his own eyes sliding closed. "I trust you…"

Tash curled up and cuddled herself on top of him and reaching over his head to turn off the lamp that had been illuminating the room. Darkness reigned and after a few minutes, she felt his breathing change and knew he was asleep. Smiling to herself, she pulled the blanket further over them.

But Tash Marquand did not sleep. She cuddled her love and kept watch for the things that might take her love's peace away.


Somewhere else in the Library, Blake rubbed his eyes and scooped the cards in front of him into a pile. "There…" He shuffled the stack and set it face-down in front of him. "My deck's as ready it'll ever be."
After recovering from his somewhat painful and very odd experiences of the day, he'd retired to his room and spent several hours reworking his deck, trying to make use of the new card Adrian and the others had given him.

Flicking off his desk lamp, Blake clambered into bed and was asleep almost instantly, knowing that when he dueled Flare, he was ready….


Elsewhere, Michael and Claire, snuggled together in his bed, blanket pulled up over top of them.
Claire stirred and Michael opened eyes, smiling at her sleeping face and kissing her forehead gently before closing his eyes and going back to sleep himself, confident that the darkness inside of him would not take control anymore…


All over the Library, the Society's members slept quietly and unworried in their beds. Though the war would still be there tomorrow and it would be long and hard, tonight peace reigned and right now, it was enough…

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