Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TAOM: Tash - Night of the Neverending Beep

Adrian's kitty ears twitched as they registered the sounds of footsteps approaching the reading room. He slid a bookmark into his book to mark his place and looked up as the Society's de-facto leader appeared in the doorway. She looked rather peculiar, wrapped up in a blanket with only her head and feet showing as she shuffled over the threshold.

"Are you alright, Tash?" Adrian asked, setting his book to one side. He was quite alarmed to see her eyes were red, and she was several shades paler than usual.

"I could use a hug," came the mumbled response, and she was immediately cuddled by the Librarian. "Thank you... don't suppose you've got any water?"

He sighed and shook his head. "In the kitchen. Sit down, don't go anywhere."

He kissed her gently on the forehead and left at a fast walk.





"...Michael, are you still awake?"

"Unfortunately. Why are you still up?"

Claire sat up and flicked the light on. "The microwave is beeping again. Can't you hear it?"

Squinting in the sudden light, Michael scowled. "I can't hear anything, that's my problem. My freeloader has started singing..."

He winced as his rudeness earned him a particularly loud chorus of "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts". For the millionth time, Michael wondered if brain damage would be enough to shut the Darkness up permanently. Claire's face fell and she hugged her boyfriend.

"Is that why you haven't fixed the microwave?" she asked. Michael shook his head, knowing that during the weekly briefing, Tash had delegated the task of repairing the kitchen appliance to him.

"I traded it to Adrian in exchange for taking one of his monitor shifts," he explained. "He said he had paperwork to catch up with, but I think he wanted to spend time with Tash."

Claire giggled, before checking the clock. It was four am, British time, but she knew she wouldn't be sleeping now.

"I could murder a cup of tea," she declared, searching the floor for her slippers.

"Yeah, me too," Michael admitted, throwing back the covers and picking his dressing gown off the floor where he had last thrown it. He grinned as he realised what he had just agreed to. "You're turning me British."

Claire smirked. "Then I'm doing my job," she declared.

Why so British? The Darkness asked in a hiss.

Quiet you Michael replied, and immediately, the voice picked up again.

Big ones. Small ones. Some as big as your head...


Marcus slipped quietly down the corridor of the Library, heading for one of the empty reading rooms. As soon as he was sure no one was around to watch, he darted inside and locked the door. Zapping a tiny portal into existence, he fingered the Sheep Talisman.

"Here I go again," he muttered, before his body went entirely limp and he slumped against the sofa, his astral form slipping through the coin sized portal and into the Storm Hawks fandom.


Aster hummed as she strolled into the kitchen, completely ignoring the continuously beeping microwave. She was not surprised to see Adrian there – after all, the Librarian rarely slept. Though he must have been in a hurry to do whatever it was he was doing, as he'd abandoned his trenchcoat in the rush.

"Why so late?" she asked, immediately raiding the cupboards for something sweet. Adrian looked up from the sink, where he was filling a glass with water.

"Things to do," the Librarian replied vaguely. The blue haired agent shrugged and pouted as she realised the cupboards were badly stocked.

"There's no sugar," she complained.

"What do you expect me to do about it?" Adrian asked, distractedly.

"Tell me where I can get some?" Aster suggested.

"Aster, it's ten in the evening," Adrian retorted. "I'm not getting you sweets at this time of night."

"But I'm on Japanese time," the fae protested. "It's just after lunch in my mind."

Adrian groaned. While the Library ran on its own time schedule, it didn't mean that the Society Agents biological clocks ran parallel. This was not normally a problem except when it came to scheduling jobs for the week, as the British agents were always up before the American agents. It also meant he had to run the nightshift alone, as he was the only leader who wasn't on British time.

"Why is the microwave beeping?" Aster asked, sitting beside the aforementioned appliance, as Adrian finished with the water.

"It's broken," he said briefly, and exiting the room at a hasty pace.

"...bye then," Aster muttered, pulling open the drawer of cutlery and spying a box underneath the rack. She tugged it out and opened it, completely ignoring the sign on the front that said "for British Agents only". With a cheer of success, she tipped the blocks of chocolate out onto her lap and began to eat.


It took fifteen minutes of patient coaxing and a dose of beta blockers to get Tash to calm down and tell the Librarian about her nightmare and subsequent panic attack. Adrian had returned to find her curled up on one end of the sofa, the blanket wrapped around her as tightly as it would go, and humming the theme song from Elfen Lied under her breath in an attempt to calm down. Though the panic attack had ended now, she was still shaking.

"Feel better?" Adrian asked, watching her finish the last of the water and lean against him.

"Yeah.. .thanks Adrian," she muttered, reaching up to pet his ears. The Librarian immediately snuggled against her chest, a deep purr echoing from his throat. Tash giggled, already feeling better.

"You take good care of me," she whispered, kissing his head and rubbing the back of his neck. The purring increased, and a fluffy tail found its way around her thigh, causing Adrian's cheeks to flame.

"Stupid tail," he muttered. Tash burst out laughing. She knew he had no fine control over that particular limb's actions, a fact which irritated and embarrassed him greatly. She went back to stroking his ears in reassurance.

"He's so adorable," she thought. "What did I do to deserve him?"

"Erm... not interrupting are we?" came a giggle from the doorway. Tash looked up and grinned at the sight of Michael and Claire, both looking very amused by the purring Librarian in her lap.

"Not at all," Tash assured them, keeping up the treatment of Adrian's ears. "Did you know that kitty purrs are soothing to humans?"

"I hate you..." Adrian muttered, his cheeks turning red again. Relaxed as he was, he lacked the willpower to move and regain any of his dignity.

"Oh how the mighty have fallen," Michael snickered.

"Oh shut up..." Adrian complained, and he received a poke in the side for his rudeness. Claire pulled out her mobile phone and began taking pictures, wincing slightly as a headache made itself known.

"You alright Clairey?" Tash asked, in concern.

"Just a headache from the microwave," Claire waved it off. "The stupid thing is beeping again."

Tash's ear rubbing ceased, and Adrian mewled in displeasure.

"Michael, I thought you said you'd fix the microwave?"

"I say a lot of things," Michael shrugged, rubbing his temples, as his freeloader started to sing again (On the good ship, lollipop, it's a sweet trip to the candy shop...). "I seem to recall saying I'd still respect you after Volt gave you that ridiculous haircut."

Tash rolled her eyes. "Very funny little brother."

"Anyway, the kitten in your lap said he'd do it," Michael brushed off. Adrian glared at the nicknaming.

"In that case, why haven't you done it?" Tash asked him.

"I traded the job to Blake," Adrian said. "In exchange for doing a stack of his paperwork."

" doing, you mean-" Tash began.

"-I shoved it in Aster's room and left it to breed," Adrian nodded. Tash shook her head before getting to her feet.

"I'm getting some food."

"I'll come too," Claire declared. "You want anything baby?"

"A cup of tea and a working flashlight?" Michael muttered, causing the Darkness to hiss angrily.

"Your host causing problems?" Adrian asked, watching Michael nod in confirmation. "Fancy a duel to take your mind off it?

"Yeah why not?" Michael shrugged, sitting down and retrieving one of his decks from his pocket. "Best two of three?"

Claire gave her boyfriend a wry look, before turning to Tash. "Do you think they love dueling more than us?"

"I think we shouldn't ask," Tash nodded, before announcing. "I play winner!"


Blake stifled a yawn as he headed down the corridor and towards the reading rooms that were frequented by the Society. He was glad to be free of the monitor room – while watching the activity in his favourite fandoms was fun for the first hour of his shift, after six hours it started to get boring. And there were only so many rounds of Duel Monsters or Pokemon he could squeeze out of his DS.

A light was shining through the crack between the door and the floor of one of the offices, which Blake knew to be Hati's. Wondering what she was doing awake at this time of night, the blonde agent knocked on the door sharply.


What sounded like a low growling noise, emitted from the office. Growing slightly alarmed now, Blake pushed the door open a crack – and was immediately blasted backwards off his feet by the primal roar of anger that ripped through the quiet of the library.


In the reading room, Michael and Adrian were halfway through their first duel, when the roar blasted its way through the peace and obligatory duelist trash talking. The cards were blown clean off the table, and several books were dislodged from the shelves, one of them landing on Adrian's tail, causing him to yowl in pain.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Michael demanded. Adrian soothed his tail, looking just as confused.

"Either Valerie managed to sneak a dragon into the library," he said. "Or someone is depriving Tash of sugar."

Both young men exchanged looks.

"It's Tash," they summarized simultaneously, before gathering up their decks and setting the table again.


Tash and Claire peeked cautiously around the wall of the corridor, their hair windswept from the sudden blast that had echoed throughout the building. On the floor of the corridor sat Blake, looking completely dishevelled and incredibly frightened by what he had just lived through. Neither girl had seen him look this bad since the time Michael had attacked him in a duel with Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8 and the hologram had randomly chewed him up and spat him back out again.

"Bloody hell," Tash summed up simply. Blake's cheeks turned pink as he realised he had an audience.
"I think there's a wild beast in Harriet's room!" he told them.

"No, Hati is the wild beast," Tash corrected kindly. When the agent on the floor continued to look confused, Tash explained. "She's PMSing."

Blake's eyes widened in comprehension, and Claire made a sympathetic noise.

"Poor baby. Should we bring her some tea?"

"Yeah, some chocolate would be a good idea too," Tash agreed. "You want tea Blake?"

"A Dr Pepper would be better for my nerves right now," the American admitted, getting to his feet.

"Honestly, what is it with Americans and their sugar filled drinks?" Tash asked, rolling her eyes.

"Oh like you can talk, Miss I-drink-hot-chocolate-on-a-summers-day," Blake muttered.

Tash had no time for a reasonable reply to that, as the door to the kitchen burst open, and Aster came leaping into view, a crazy grin on her face. The two agents and leader backed away in fear – rightly so.

"WEEEEEEEEEE!" Aster bounced down the corridor, and seized Claire in a bone-crushing hug. For such a small girl she had one hell of a grip when sugar high –which it was apparent she was, given the bar of chocolate she was still clutching. Claire recognised it and plucked it from her grasp, causing the fae to release her immediately.

"Mine!" she protested, but Claire had already thrown it to Tash, who held it high in the air. At five foot ten, and with an impressive arm span to boot, there was no way Aster would be able to reach. Claire suddenly looked mutinous.

"Is that my good Galaxy?" she demanded. Tash checked it and gasped.

"Aster, have you been in the box of British chocolate?" she asked. Aster's only response was to attempt to climb up the body of her superior to reach the chocolate, all the while chanting "Its mine! Its mine!"

"We have a box of British chocolate?" Blake asked curiously.

"Yes," Claire nodded. "Because British chocolate has a higher sugar content than American chocolate, we thought we should stash it away so no one would get hyper off it."

"Which obviously she has," Tash muttered, prising Aster off her, one limb at a time. "I'm going to put her to bed. Blake would you give me a hand with her door?"

"Sure thing boss," Blake nodded. Claire sighed and took the Galaxy off Tash, once she was sure that Aster would not be escaping from her grasp any time soon.

"I'll keep this for Hati, and go put the tea on," she offered, hurrying off to the kitchen and dreading the kind of mess Aster might have made.

"C'mon Aster. Walkies," Tash urged in a cheery voice. Blake snickered and unlocked the correct office door. Tash was unsurprised to see that the floor was blanketed with paperwork, in the process of breeding quite dramatically.

"At least she's not drunk," Blake consoled, as Tash released the hyperactive girl and they both slammed the door shut before she could escape. "Then we'd have to deal with her hungover."

Tash shuddered. "Oh you haven't seen Hati drunk. Its really scary. I still haven't forgotten the time she put the carton of smoothie in the cutlery drawer..."


Now Claire was normally a sweet girl, but after five minutes of standing in the kitchen with the source of her headache and insomnia, she was just about ready to put a fork through the infernal device – never mind that it would probably electrocute her in the process. With the kettle boiling and the five mugs all set, save for the hot water, she was left with nothing to do but glare at the microwave and wish she had some pinecones on hand to throw at it – they might not do any damage, but at least she would feel better.

"Blake!" she snapped, as soon as the two entered the kitchen. "Adrian said he traded you the job of fixing the microwave."

"Oh yeah," Blake said, looking at the beeping appliance as though he had only just realised it was there. "I asked Marcus if he'd do it...I don't know anything about mechanics!" he added in his defence, as Claire's gaze hardened.

"I am tetchy!" she announced. "It is quarter past four in the morning..."

"No its not," Blake objected. "Its ten fifteen at night."

Tash trod on his foot to indicate that this was not the time to argue with her. Claire twitched.

"Whatever," she said sharply. "It is late. I'm tired. And I want this microwave fixed!"

"...I'll go find Marcus," Blake squeaked very quickly, before bolting out of the room, eager to be away from the scary look on Claire's face. The aforementioned girl shook her head and shot the microwave another glare.

"Don't worry hon," Tash soothed. "As soon as its fixed you can go to bed."

"And if it doesn't get fixed?" Claire asked in a voice of dread.

"Then we shove it in the Room of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know," Tash said firmly. "I'm sure I can distract Adrian long enough to swipe the keys."

Claire giggled. "Who knew kitty ears could be useful for subduing him?"

"And if all else fails, catnip fixes everything," Tash nodded wisely, as Blake re-entered the room.

"Umm... Marcus is sleeping in one of the reading rooms. I've tried, but I can't wake him up."
"Bollocks," Tash muttered, as Claire's mutinous look returned suddenly. "Have you tried tempting him with a hot naked anime character?"

"I wouldn't do that," Claire said thoughtfully. "Given what he's been through with Junko lately it would probably just bum him out..."

Tash sighed, sensing a finger of accusation being pointed. "I know it was harsh," she said. "But what else could I do? If I had let him continue, then I would have to extend the same allowance to everyone, and we'd have so many continuity issues in the fandoms..."

"We know Tash," Blake sighed. "We don't need to hear you defend yourself every time we bring it up."

"Just saying it's sad," Claire nodded, before looking towards the door. "I suppose we should go put him to bed."

"Yeah," Tash sighed. "Then we'd better go deal with the wild PMSing beast."

"I hope Harriet hasn't left her room and eaten Michael and Adrian," Blake muttered, snagging a can of Dr Pepper from the fridge.

"No, that's more my style when I'm moody," Tash corrected.


Said agents had thankfully not been eaten by their leader. Instead they were on their third duel of the match. Michael had lost the first round due to a bad hand, and dead draws. It didn't help also that the Darkness had started singing again ("I know a song that gets on your nerves"). Adrian however had lost the second round, after a serious miscalculation had left him defenceless and at Michael's very limited mercy.

Adrian was just ending his turn, when Claire reappeared with the drinks. Michael's face lit up immediately at the sight of his girlfriend, whereas Adrian's lit up at the sight of the tea.

"What kept you?" Michael asked. Claire waved a hand.

"Hati, Blake, Aster, Marcus... long story," she said, taking her own mug and sitting down. "Who's winning?"
"So far we're at a stalemate," Michael admitted. Claire smiled and kissed him on the cheek.

"You'll break it," she told him confidently. Michael grinned.

"Yeah, I will," he nodded. Adrian looked right and left, as though expecting his own girlfriend to appear and cheer him on. Michael noticed his distraction and guessed why.

"Where's Aneki?" he asked.

"She's feeding Hati," Claire explained, as right on cue, another roar ripped through the building with ear shattering force, sending the cards scattering again.


"Blake!" Tash yelled, over the roar, holding onto the door for dear life. "You throw like a girl!"

She seized the chocolate, which had barely made it over the threshold of the door, and chucked it as hard as she could into the apparent lion's den. Blake couldn't help but smirk at her attempt.

"Looks like I'm not the only one!" he called back.

"I am a girl!" Tash shrieked. "I have an excuse!"

She need not have shouted the last line, for the roaring suddenly subsided, and the chocolate was pounced upon by a vicious and downright feral looking Harriet, who was doing a very eerie impression of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

"Here Hati..." Tash cooed, stepping just over threshold. Harriet growled at her, but kept munching through the chocolate. Blake took a cautious step after his leader, only to be repelled by Harriet, snarling at him and leaping for his throat. Tash swiftly intercepted her with a mug of tea, which had miraculously remained in the mug throughout all the drama (well, it was British).

"My precioussss..." Hati hissed, crouching over the cup, possessively. Tash backed away and gently shut the door behind her, leaving her cranky friend to her tea.

"...that," Blake said slowly, his face pale. "Was one of the most surreal and horrifying experiences of my life."

Tash shook her head. "And you all thought my PMS was bad..."





"...Claire are you still awake?"

"Of course," the younger Brit grumbled. "Its getting louder."

"Yeah, I can hear it now too," Tash admitted, sitting up a little on the sofa. It was now five thirty in the morning, British time, and all four Society members had curled up on various sofas (Blake had gone to bed quite some time ago, saying he needed to recover from the surreal experience of dealing with Hati). Adrian was curled up next to Tash, his cat ears twitching as he slept. Sensing her movement, his arms tightened around her waist so she couldn't go any further, and he gave a meow of displeasure. Tash blushed, and Claire couldn't help but giggle.

"Possessive isn't he?" she said, causing Tash to blush worse. Next to Claire, Michael shifted slightly so that he was lying more comfortably against the arm of the sofa. Claire grinned and stroked his hair.

"They're adorable aren't they?" Tash giggled. Claire nodded, before a mischievous look appeared in her eye, and she produced a black marker out of nowhere, and scrawled "Ass" on her boyfriend's forehead in large capital letters. Tash doubled over in silent laughter.

"Do you ever do that thing where you try and wake them up with a feather?" she asked. Claire shook her head.

"Nah, I poke him until he squeaks," she admitted, throwing the marker to Tash. Giggling madly, Tash quickly drew kitty whiskers on her boyfriend's cheeks, and marked a little black circle on his nose. Claire started laughing, before a frown suddenly appeared on her face.

"Hey... do you hear that?"

Tash listened, and grinned. "The microwave isn't beeping!" she whispered in glee.

"Shh!" Claire waved her silent. "Let's check..."

There was silence for a very long time...before a sharp crack filled the air and the beeping continued – this time, continuously. Tash buried her face into a cushion in despair, and Claire growled.

"That is it!" she yelled, causing Adrian to stir slightly.

"Hmm...what's the noise?" he asked.

"The microwave," Tash groaned. The Librarian's eyes adjusted to the dim light, and immediately recoiled at the sight of Claire, who was looking thoroughly fed up and as though she would love nothing more than to beat people around the head with the offending microwave. Briefly he wondered whether all British girls were this formidable... and then he remembered how Tash could behave when she was moody.

"Bloody hell..." Michael muttered. "Did it get louder?"

Claire gave him a look. "Fix. It. NOW!" she demanded.

"We don't know how," Michael moaned, his eyes begging for his girlfriend's forgiveness. Claire softened a little at the pleading look. She couldn't be too mad when he gave her those eyes... and the fact he had "Ass" written on his forehead and had not noticed was just funny.

"Well go blow it up...or throw it in a room or something," Tash suggested, trying to smother her face in the cushion. Adrian took it before she could harm herself, and got off the sofa.

"Alright... come on Michael, it won't take long."

Stretching and sighing, Michael pulled himself off the sofa and followed him out of the door, grimacing as the singing in his head began again spitefully ("There were ten in the bed, and the little one said, roll over, roll over..."). Tash watched them both go, grinning as Adrian's tail swished with his movements.

"I will never regret that spell," she declared, flopping back onto the sofa. Claire too curled back up and put her fingers in her ears.

"How long before Michael finds out about the marker?" Tash asked, pulling her blanket over her shoulders.

"I dunno..." Claire shrugged. "If it's still there in the morning at least I'll get a laugh out of it."


"...okay, I know why I'm laughing at you..." Michael spluttered to the semi-hysterical Librarian. "Why are you laughing at me?"

They had barely made it down two corridors, when both of them had suddenly taken a good long look at each other's faces and had doubled over laughing.

"Claire got you with the marker," Adrian informed him. Michael's face paled.

"Umm...Tash got you too," he informed him. The humour immediately vanished from the Librarian's face, and both of them hurried into the kitchen and examined themselves in the nearest shiny surface (the refrigerator door).

"Hmm... I think yours is worse than mine," Michael grinned. Adrian's ears twitched.

"Thanks. Thanks a lot. When I get hold of Tash..."

"You don't wanna get hold of her," Michael advised. "My sister can be evil when she wishes." He took one side of the beeping device (Claire had unplugged it earlier, and yet for some reason, this had not helped matters) and lifted it. "Come on, let's go shove this in the basement with the Sues or something."

"This'll drive them crazy," Adrian pointed out, taking the other side and helping him over to the door.

"I am past the point of caring," Michael said frankly. "You got the keys?"

Of course what neither of them had banked on until they entered the basement, was that the Sues would be awake... and find their marked faces hilarious. Five minutes of arguing with their prisoners and storing the microwave, and both agents were thoroughly ticked off as they stomped back towards the reading room.

So they all rolled over and one fell out...

"Be quiet!" Michael yelled aloud, his temper snapping. Adrian jumped.

"What did I do?" he asked. Michael groaned.

"Not you. The Darkness is singing again!"

Splat on the floor with his guts hanging out...

"One second," the Librarian said, hurrying into the kitchen. He returned a minute later with a flashlight. The Darkness immediately hissed and spat at its host.

You wouldn't dare!

Michael's only response was to close his eyes and flash the light into his face several times. The dark creature shrieked before falling silent.

"Thank you," the host grinned. Adrian shrugged.

"No problem at all."

They found Tash and Claire sleeping on their respective sofas.

"About time they slept..." Michael said, finding it very hard to be annoyed at Claire any longer. He tucked the flashlight into his pocket and perched on the arm beside his girlfriend. Adrian sat on the end of the sofa occupied by the Society leader.

"...they're great girls aren't they?" he admitted.

"Yeah," Michael nodded. He glanced around Claire, and found the black marker from earlier, pocketing it with a grin.

"What are you planning with that?" Adrian asked, curiously. Michael smirked.

"You'll see... or you will in the morning if she doesn't notice..."
There was silence in the room for five seconds, before...

"'re not asleep are you Tash?" Adrian asked suddenly.

"No," came the immediate response from the de-facto leader.

"Brilliant," Michael said, stooping to pick his girlfriend up. "I'm going to bed before the Darkness starts singing , Ten in the Bed again..."

Tash sat up slowly and waved to her brother as he carried his girlfriend off. The Librarian was giving her a stern look, and she blinked innocently.


"Don't you 'what' me," Adrian said firmly, pointing to his face. "What's the idea?"

Tash tilted her head to one side and got up from the sofa. "I thought you'd look good in whiskers."

She stretched and walked over to her boyfriend, leaning sleepily on him. "Now hold still so I can use you as my pillow… "

"Hey!" He protested, but couldn't stop himself from toppling over onto the couch as she leaned into him more. Sighing, he just gave up resisting and cuddled her. "I can't win, can't I…?"

"Nope…" The British girl smirked sleepily and pulled her blanket over them, nestling against his chest and sighing softly as she drifted off to dreamland…


Michael was about to flick off the light, before he remembered the marker pen in his dressing gown pocket. Tugging it out, he leaned over the sleeping Claire, and hastily scribbled on her forehead. When he was done, he sat back and observed his masterpiece. The word "Brat" was now clearly visible in black ink.

Grinning, he recapped the pen, before curling up beside her, and nodding off, the Darkness seething quietly in the corner of his mind.


Early the next morning, Miriku was the first person to be seen walking the corridors. She was one of the few people who never did the night shifts, as she had too many responsibilities in the real world to station herself permanently at the Library.

Miriku was a very early riser, and thus it was a surprise to find Harriet wandering the corridor as she headed for the monitor room. The founder looked incredibly perky and was humming under her breath, a silly sparkle in her eyes.

"Umm... Hati?" Miriku asked in concern. Up close she noticed the leader was dangling an empty mug loosely in her left hand. As soon as Miriku got near to her, she looked up and beamed widely.

"Hello Miri! Lovely day isn't it?"

And she skipped off in the direction of the kitchen, leaving Miriku to blink several times.


"...I don't wanna know..." the small American decided finally, turning on her heel and heading off to the monitor room, humming "Sunday Clothes" under her breath.

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