Spitballs and Shortbread is a Pixels and Polygons interlude. It can be read below.
WARNING for mentions of minor self harm (involving half a plastic spoon), mentions of violence, and a few nasty things from Nat. If these are not your cup of tea I'd advise not reading on, and apologies from Lissa.
Spitballs and Shortbread Edit
Good morning, Scaredy!
Scaredy stared at the cracks in the dorm room ceiling for a very long while. There were many cracks to stare at, so it wasn't so bad. She could even count them. One. Two. Three...Four, five six seven eight...
It's time to begin another wonderful day at this marvelous school! Won't it be fun?
She picked up her comforter and pulled it over her eyes.
Now, come on, Scaredy. You have gym first hour! Mr. Haggar is a very awful man, yes, but he has lots of very lovely equipment.
She curled up into a little ball, closing her eyes. She'd go back to sleep. Right now. Nat didn't talk while she was asleep, so it'd be okay, it'd be okay...
"Oh--Oh dear. You're not, you're okay, yes? Not ill?"
That was a different voice. She peeked her head out from under her comforter, looking at the automaton in front of her. TED sighed, smiling as he saw her face. "Ah! Good! I thought, er, perhaps you were sick. Or dead. That's, that's a fear I have sometimes. You're not sick, are you?" Scaredy shook her head. "Oh! Oh, yes, brilliant! That's good, that's good, yeah. So, um, I left you breakfast on my desk! It's a doughnut. That's--That's sweet enough for you, yes? I don't know about your weird...Bear...Diet. So! Have a good day, I have to--To get to class. See you, yes?" She blinked slowly at him. "Ah! Well. Um. Yes? Good. Good. Well, goodbye, Scaredy!" TED smiled and waved goodbye, turning around and disappearing behind the room divider.
The teddy bear sighed lightly as she pushed the comforter off of her. She stood up, smoothing down her hair and pulling off her pajamas, putting on her standard little dress and high socks and pink shoes. A neat, cute ensemble. She liked it. She picked up her bag and slunk around the room divider, pausing to see the little doughnut on TED's desk. Chocolate. With pink icing. That was sweet of him. Her mouth went into a small smile as she picked it up.
I wouldn't. What if it's poisoned, Scaredy? He could be out there waiting for you to drop dead. That wouldn't be very nice, would it?
Her smile vanished as she set it back down. Nat would be on her case if she took it. So she walked out of the door.
Today marks the start of gym's tennis unit! Won't that be lovely, Scaredy? Tennis is such a relaxing sport. I think you'll like it a whole lot. Certainly it'll distract you from TED's nastiness.
TED hadn't been all that nasty. He'd been nice. She was hungry and wished she took that doughnut. But Nat liked making things mean different things then what they actually meant. She walked down the hall, moving around other students on their trek to classes. She ran into one or two, squeaking quietly as she moved along, observing her shoes as though they were the most interesting thing in the world.
Well, that was dreadfully rude of him! He didn't even see you there. They really should look out for you, Scaredy. Don't they know who you are? You're very important. People like you; well, at least I do. You're going to do very interesting things, Scaredy, they should take the time to say hello and stop being mean.
But when they did, Nat would shoot them down. Scaredy didn't have the heart to think that, though. She just walked on, slipping down the stairs then going into the girl's locker room. She locked her backpack in her locker and went into the gym, pressing her back to the wall and waiting for the bell to sound. She was still hungry, and a little tired too, but she watched the other students converse as her mind slipped into daydreams of beautiful, peaceful lands, like the little town Dr. Shrunk would say he's from in Quoteology. With the fortune teller and the little cafe and...And the shops and...All those nice things. She wished she could live there. Not here. She also wished Nat would go away. Nat talked too much. Nat was talking now but Scaredy was pretty good at not listening.
Then the bell rang and her daydreams were over.
Mr. Haggar announced that they'd be pairing up and playing singles tennis today. That was nice. The only problem being that everyone had already paired up and left Scaredy as a party of one. That wasn't so nice. She walked up and got a tennis racket from the bucket and followed everyone else outside, getting a tennis ball from the floor.
They all walked into the courtyard and then onto the tennis courts, the pairs going off to begin their singles matches. Scaredy stood with her back to the chain-link fence, taking the ball she had and dribbling it against the ground with her racket. She counted how many times she could dribble it. One, two, three, four...
Oh, poor Scaredy. You're alone again, aren't you? That's a shame. Well, I'm always here for you.
Five, six, seven, eight.
I'm not like the others. I won't push you. Why don't you listen to me, Scaredy?
Nine, ten, eleven.
Is it because you're scared of me? Is that why?
I'd never, ever hurt you. You know that, don't you? We're a team, you and I.
Then something hit her in the face.
She reeled back a little, holding the spot where she was hit. She hit the fence then sunk to the ground, finding her knees and then huddling into a little, safe ball. All the while, footsteps rushed up to her, a voice breathing hard, the breaths getting closer and closer...
"O-oh geez, didn't mean to hurt 'ya! 'Ya doin' okay there?"
Scaredy peeked out from between her fingers. It was a tall girl, sitting on her haunches to get more on Scaredy's level. She had green eyes and a pinkish nose and freckles all over her face, probably from being in the sun all the time. Her hair was brown and sloppily cut short, covered by a baseball cap (purple and white, with a logo that looked like a 'W' with a weird sort of pinkish nose, pointed ears, and purple cap poking out). She frowned at Scaredy, looking quite concerned.
The teddy bear nodded slowly.
"Heh, got me worried there. Guess my backhand's pretty good!" She broke out into a cheeky grin. She had a scratchy sort of voice, which sounded almost sort of like somebody rubbing sandpaper on a plastic block. Except feminine. She stood up, showing her full height (very tall) as well as her clothes--A baseball jersey (purple and white again) and a denim jumper, with tall white socks and worn white sneakers. More freckles covered her arms. "Good thing I didn't bloody 'ya up too bad, then, girl! That's good. I won't hit 'ya again, an' 'ya got that one from my mouth, m'kay?" Scaredy lowered her hands, nodding again. "Great! So then, gotta go--'Monia can get a bit testy, y'know what I'm sayin'?"
"Shas, what's keeping you?" As though on cue, this tall girl's tennis partner (a skeleton in a tattered black gown with an apron around the waist) called for her. "Come on, Haggar's going to get on our case if we don't play. And do stop calling me 'Monia. It's Anne."
'Shas' made the 'blah blah' gesture with her hand, making Scaredy giggle a little. She smiled down at the bear. "Alright! Be seein' 'ya, then." She gave a salute and a wink before tossing the tennis ball up and shooting it to Anne, who was in very close proximity and didn't take kindly to the gesture. Scaredy smiled as she watched 'Shas' go. She was nice...
Oh, dear! Are you alright?
A little late for sympathies, but Scaredy gave a small nod.
Well, wasn't that naughty! That awful girl should really look where she's aiming her ball. That was a very mean thing for her to do and I don't like it one bit.
And then Nat just had to say...
You really should punish her.
Scaredy's hand tensed around the racket's handle. And then she dropped the racket like it was on fire. She didn't like it when Nat said those words because then Nat would get all pushy and mean and--
Look. You already have a means. Pick up the racket, Scaredy.
See this is what happened when Nat decided punishment was in order. It was always bad and Scaredy became nervous and--
I said pick up the racket.
Very good, Scaredy. You see, it wouldn't be so bad if you were this compliant. Now. Get the ball. Knock her over the head. And then beat the stuffing out of her.
Scaredy made the grave mistake of visualizing this image and then dropped the tennis racket and curled into her safe little ball again.
Come on! It's nothing new! Just another Furious Forward Defensive. But with tennis, not cricket. She's even wearing a hat. The ones you have to punish always wear hats, that's how you can identify them. Go on Scaredy, get the ball and hit her.
She opened her eyes and looked at the racket again.
That's it, go on.
She couldn't do it. Her nails sunk into her palm and she couldn't do it. She curled up tighter and listened to the balls bouncing back and forth as games of tennis went on, but then Nat got upset with her.
What's the matter, Scaredy? You should defluff her. It'll be alright, you won't get in trouble. They'll be happy. Who'll really miss her? She's pathetic and I bet nobody really likes her anyway. Just like nobody really likes you. That's why you should defluff her. Because she reminds you of yourself and you're pathetic and awful and can't even do anything right, and you don't want to be reminded of your shortcomings, do you, Scaredy? So go punish her! She hurt you! You should punish her for hurting you that was very mean and she deserves punishment!
Mr. Haggar blew the whistle. Scaredy looked up to see all the tennis teams going inside. She stood up, getting her ball and racket, dribbling the ball as she walked. She knew she'd get chewed out by Mr. Haggar for not playing tennis, but she couldn't help it, really. Nat had stopped her angry rant so it was safe for Scaredy to bounce her ball and just ignore her surroundings...
The ball missed the racket. It bounced too high and went too curved, and it clocked 'Shas' right at the base of the back of her skull.
Scaredy froze. And then she ran. She ran in front of the group and went inside and didn't stop running until her hands were wrapped around the combination lock and she was getting her backpack from her locker. No no. Now she'd know it was her that accidentally hit her and she'd never speak with her again and she'd lose another friend...
You should have hit it harder if you were going for it. I appreciate you doing it in front of witnesses, Scaredy, but it was still sloppily done. For shame!
Nat, per usual, wasn't helping.
At lunch, Scaredy was sitting with a little pack of shortbread cookies and a chocolate pudding cup. Before she ate, though, she took the plastic spoon for her pudding and snapped it in half. She took the end that looked sharper and begun digging it into her wrist.
S-scaredy! What are you doing, Scaredy!? Stop!
It hurt. It hurt a lot. But she drove the half-spoon yet deeper, making another small hole she'd have to sew up again.
Is this because of what happened, Scaredy? I'm sorry. You know I only want what's best for you! You don't have to do this. You know I mean well.
The spoon was almost in her arm entirely.
Okay. Okay, eat your lunch. Stop being horrible, Scaredy. You won't last a second back on Perfection Island.
She waited for a very long moment. Then, assuring herself Nat made good on her word, she took the spoon out of her arm and took a cookie out of the bag, eating it slowly. She was sitting alone. Again. Scaredy was very used to being alone by now so she ate her cookies, quite content with her position, since Nat wasn't there to chatter on and on because Nat liked hearing the sound of her own voice.
"Hey! This spot reserved or somethin'?"
The sound of sandpaper on a plastic block filled her ears again. She looked up from her cookies to see 'Shas', holding her own small lunch. She shook her head 'no', and 'Shas' made no haste in sitting down and busting out her banana chips. "So!" She smiled. "Sorry again 'bout the gym thing. 'Ya rushed off pretty quick at the end there--Hope that wasn't my fault." Scaredy shook her head, and she sighed in relief. "Ah, good, good. Y'know, for a while, they began usin' me as the scapegoat 'round here. Me! Well, I sure showed 'em." She stuffed another banana chip in her mouth before smirking at the teddy bear. "Oh, hey, never gave 'ya my name, did I? It's Shasta. No surname or nothin'. Jus' Shasta." She stuck out her hand. "And y'are?"
A pause. Scaredy gently shook Shasta's hand, then reached down and fumbled in her backpack for a notebook and pen. She took it out then opened to a blank page, uncapping the pen and gently writing 'Scaredy' on it in small, compact penmanship. She picked it up and showed the page to Shasta.
"Scaredy?" The bear nodded. "Aw, that's pretty cute. Where 'ya from, Scare?"
"...Never heard 'a it."
'PS3 / XBOX exclusive. It's like. Hitman. But with bears.'
"Oh, huh, sounds fun! S'pose 'ya already know me." Shasta smirked, biting another banana chip in half, when she saw Scaredy timidly shake her head. "No? Really? Huh. Well, I'm from Mario, 'course! Waluigi's lil' girl!" Scaredy blinked, retreating back in her seat a bit. "Oh, oh, yeah, sorry. Prob'ly not used to the more popular franchises talkin' to 'ya, do 'ya?" A nod. "Well, don't 'cha worry, I'll hook 'ya up with my buddies. Who couldn't like Hitman with bears?"
"Don't 'cha worry 'bout that. 'Ya weren't Plumbers Don't Wear Ties or somethin'. Y'ain't on lists 'a worst games. You'll be fine." Shasta was out of banana chips. She frowned at this, but soon fumbled for her slice of pizza. "So, 'ya got hobbies or anythin'? Lemme get to know 'ya a bit, Scare."
'I like baking. And helping teachers after school. Like Mr. Bonaparte and Dr. Shrunk and Mr. Birdland.'
Shasta chewed her pizza, looking over Scaredy's little line of text. "'Ya don't do much, do 'ya?"
Scaredy paused, looking away, half expecting Nat to intervene. Nat, however, did not. So Scaredy felt confident in nodding gently.
"Aw, that ain't so bad, though. 'Ya get time to yerself, right? Ain't bad at all." She stuck out her tongue. Even if this was a nice boarding school, the pizza was awfully greasy. She set down the slice and took out a napkin, blotting off grease. "Me, I like sports. Don't matter the type. Baseball's a particular favorite, though. Obvs." She flicked the baseball cap slightly, to draw attention to it. "Truss' me, people don't pick on 'ya so quick when 'ya got a baseball bat an' know how 'ta use it." Scaredy shrunk down a little, but Shasta didn't quite notice. "And psychics! Aw, wouldn't that be cool, havin' psychic powers. I'd kill for that." Scaredy shrunk yet farther, and this time, Shasta did notice. "Oh. Er. You ain't a fan 'a the..."
She shook her head with a meek little squeaking noise. This is when Nat found it appropriate to begin speaking again.
Who's this, Scaredy? Why, it's the mean girl who hit you with the tennis ball! Is she here to make fun of you, Scaredy?
"Yeah, sorry, then." Shasta evaluated the grease level on her pizza and then began munching on it again. "Dunno how the more violent games work, y'know? Some 'a them oughta be a lil' bit overwhelmed an' reluctant, I get that. Most I get is E10+, y'know? So guess I don't have that problem."
What's this? Is she being nice to you, Scaredy? Are you two friends?
Scaredy nodded slightly. This served the dual purpose of answering Nat and showing Shasta she heard what she said and agreed, so that worked out nicely.
She swallowed her bite of pizza. "So, if I say anythin' else insensitive, I want 'ya to know I don't mean it seriously, 'kay? I dunno what it's like where you're from, dunno what you'd be triggered by or whatnot. 'Ya wanna make me a list?"
The teddy bear went for her notebook, putting another shortbread cookie lightly into her moth before beginning to write.
Poor, poor Scaredy. I wouldn't tell her that information, if I were you. She could use it against you, couldn't she? Like that awful Dr. Juggles. That's why daddy had to punish him, because he knew to much and wanted to change papa. You don't want this lady to be like Dr. Juggles, do you?
Scaredy didn't think Dr. Juggles really meant any harm. Nat was just embellishing things again. Nevertheless Scaredy kept writing, not stopping until she had a nice list. She slid it across the table to Shasta.
You're not listening to me. I don't like that, Scaredy.
Shasta picked up the notebook, looking the list over once or twice. "Okay, okay, so lemme see if I got this. Nothin' involvin'...'Defluffication'? Uh. M'kay. Ohhh wait that's death ain't it. Okay, got this. No death, no weapons...Nothin' violent. Got it. That ain't too hard. And, uh. 'Please don't upset Nat.' Who's Nat?"
The teddy bear jumped a little, grabbing her half-spoon as though it could be of any use.
You know you're not supposed to mention me! Now she's going to think you're crazy! I told you that you should have punished her when you had the chance! And now you're going to get betrayed and she'll shove cake in your face and you'll be made fun of and it's all your fault, Scaredy! Why are you so disagreeable all the time!? CAN'T YOU STOP BEING USELESS FOR ONE SECOND AND DO AS YOU'RE TOLD!? WOULD YOU KINDLY LISTEN TO ME, SCAREDY!?
Her eyes got wide. Nat was never this loud. Never ever. She was scared now and she wished Nat wouldn't shout like that. She didn't know what she did to upset her like this. She began embedding the half-spoon into her palm, closing her eyes and shivering. Be quiet, Nat, be quiet...
"...Are 'ya okay?"
Her eyes peeped open again. Shasta was still there, across from her, looking concerned and worried and scared. Oh no. Oh no, she scared her only friend. She wasn't supposed to do that. The spoon dropped, and Scaredy hugged herself, squeaking lightly.
She felt a hand go on her shoulder. "'Ya really got me worried there. I won't talk about...Er, y'know-who, okay? Not again. 'Ya got that one from my mouth." Shasta smiled a toothy grin. "Y'want to go see Voltar? Talk it out, calm yerself a bit? S'pose he'd be better at this then me."
Scaredy nodded. Shasta got up, then Scaredy did too, and Shasta quietly began escorting the teddy bear through the lunchroom. Scaredy smiled a bit, fumbling to grab Shasta's hand, and Shasta smirked down at her. "Juss' sayin', if 'ya ever wanna stick with me--Well, the Waluigi Spitballs always got a spot open, y'know what I mean?" She adjusted her baseball cap, drawing attention to it once more.
She'll just betray you, you know. It'll make punishing her that much more difficult.
A little bit of pink laced Scaredy's cheeks as she grabbed Shasta's hand tighter and nodded. A friend. An actual, real, nice friend. Maybe a bit violent and insensitive sometimes, but still, a very lovely friend.
I'm sorry for being loud, Scaredy. Do listen to me again. Did I scare you? I didn't mean to. We're very best friends, you and I. I won't leave you.
Scaredy paused to pull away from Shasta and write something on her scrap of paper. 'You can have my pudding cup.' Then she showed Shasta the message and latched on tightly onto her hand again.
"Really?" Shasta's eyes lit up and she ruffled Scaredy's hair with her free hand. "You're pretty nice, Scare. Spitballs will be proud to have 'ya."
I'm so, so very sorry. Do you forgive me, Scaredy?
Shasta opened the door to Voltar's office, and they walked in together.