Line of Duty
No one lives a perfect life, but it’s up to us to make what we can with it.
My mom went all out to make a lunch for everyone. I mean, it looked like Thanksgiving. The only thing missing was the turkey centerpiece.
“Wow, you cooked all of this, Mrs. Lawrence,” I heard Tyrone wow behind Brandy.
“Guess I was just in a cooking mood,” she laughed, “It’s not that much is it?”
“You’ve really outdone yourself, Cathy,” Ms. Kay was the first at the table.
“Come on Tyrone,” Karen tugged on his arm to sit by her.
“I really shouldn’t,” Tyrone groaned, “I need to call my parents first.”
“We’ll handle that a little later. Right now, let’s get some food in you,” Mom said handing him a plate.
“Oh, no really I…,” Tyrone flinched, tied his jacket around his waist tighter, and took the plate, “Thank you I’m starving.”
I couldn’t read Tyrone’s emotions at all. He didn’t look like he was starving, but he sat down quickly. He took a while to settle down. He kept squirming in his chair and he was blushing… I mean a lot. He reminded me of a kid who just got a spanking. What was he sitting on? Tacks? Broken glass? A scorpion?
“I also have enough for your Yokai if you would…,” Mom smiled again.
“Lunch time, Kiki!”
“Phineas, Time to eat!”
That Kitsune and an Ammit emerged from their respective seals.
“(Boy am I famished!),” Kiki said as she walked up next to Leo, “(are you done spazzing out, now?)”
“(Whatever do you mean, Fatty?)”
“(I am Not Fat! You old geezer!)”
The Ammit shot off a watergun at the bickering couple.
“Phineas, I thought we talked about this.”
“(Sorry Pops!),” Phineas laughed as Leo and Kiki shook off the water, “(They looked like they needed to cool off.)”
“(Great… now I smell like wet you.),” Kiki stuck out her tongue at Leo.
“(Put that back in your mouth or I’ll bite it off.),” Leo growled.
“(Make me snaggletooth!)”
“(Knock it off you two!),” the Ammit warned while grinning “(Or I’ll bite both your tongues off.)”
Both of them stopped pitching insults and shrugged up their noses at each other instead. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to convince Mom that were ready to get along. (If only a little while.)
“Well, here you all go,” Mom placed four bowls of food on the ground for us to have.
“(Ow, it hurts to sit down.),” Kiki moaned, reluctantly Kiki had to bend over to eat.
“(Well then, yo-ooh…),” Leo gulped at Phineas’s glare, “(…um, best not sit while you eat.)”
Leo then quickly scarfed down his share of food, more so out of fear if anything else. Kiki shortly followed Leo’s example.
“(Much better both of you.),” Phineas was satisfied, nodding his head as he plopped himself down in front of his own bowl.
It smelled as good as I remembered it. It also tasted a bit better too. I only wish that I didn’t have to share my bowl with the Jinmenju. They were a greedy little bunch. I barely got one or two bites before they finished half our share.
“(This stuff is great! Even better than my normal food.),” Phineas turned to me, plopping a pellet in his mouth, “(So you’re that…)”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A fireman in a burning forest. He’s not alone. The department’s water Yokai and a few other firemen were with him. Several Sukios and a strong Dorotabou were leading the group. Our man in particular was carrying someone very small in his arms. Through the thick smoke, he could hear voices.
“This way to safety!”
The smoke was getting thicker by the second.
The heat was unbearable. Getting hotter…
A distinct cracking sound could be heard over the yelling of the others.
The fireman hit the ground hard, never to get back up again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I woke up just as the Ammit coughed up what used to be mom’s cooking in my face. He stuggled to point at me, “(What the hell was that!?)”
“(What’s with you?),” Leo asked, “(He’s just a Phoenix.)”
“(Who’s covered in our dinner.),” I wiped away the barely eaten food from my face feathers, which was a worthless effort since it only got stuck in my wings, “(or at least it used to be before you spat it back out.)”
“(Does that woman’s cooking cause some sort of outer body experience?),” Phineas shook, his icy breath seeping through his teeth, “(I can’t believe what I just saw… So cold…)”
“(Great another nut job.),” Kiki sighed, “(I’m surrounded by Weirdos.)”
“(Like you’re one to speak.),” Leo snickered.
“(I’m not kidding here… What was that!),” Phineas huffed out a clean mist, “(I’ve never seen something like this before.)”
“(Well, what did you see?),” Leo asked.
“(I can’t explain it… I saw a boy take a gun to his head and then he just… then I saw Pops, he… I’ve never imagined he could get so angry.)”
“(You mean John?),” Leo asked.
“(That’s the human that Ma told me about!)”
“(I’m surprised she tells you anything except for how pretty you are.),” Leo teased.
“(Well, I’m surprised that your trainer baths you.)”
“(Could you two not insult each other for more that two seconds.),” I sighed, “(It’s getting old fast and… um, what are you doing?)”
Phineas was watching me very closely, “(You know something don’t you?)”
“(You know something about what I saw, don’t you?)”
“(What makes you say that? Ehehehe…)”
“(Well, for one… You seem to be more scared than I am.),” Phineas stood up, “(And two… the wounds match up.)”
“(Wounds? What wounds? With what?)”
“(There!),” Phineas poked me in the head, “(It’s in the exact same spot.)”
“(Ow! Don’t go poking other people’s birthmarks!)”
“(You’re like me aren’t you?),” Phineas turned around and rubbed the back of his head.
He clearly did so for a reason. There, just below where he was rubbing, was a slight discoloring. There was a large line on the back of his neck with another line going slightly onto the back of his head. You wouldn’t be able to tell it was there unless the Ammit was willing to bend his neck and stay still long enough to show you. It reminded me of a tree branch or something.
“(Except, I am proud to bare this mark.)”
“(I don’t know what you’re talking about…),” I lied, “(I’m going to go play somewhere else now.)”
“Don’t be shy everyone. Dig in,” Ms. Kay said, as she took the first bite, her eyes widened.
“Ms. Kay is it…?”
“… delicious…,” she almost cried, as she took the fork from her mouth.
“Amazing,” Lou bounced as he ate.
“Really, let me try,” I said next, my first bite was amazing. My new sense of smell must have had something to do with how great it tasted. Even my tail (that I was sitting on) stopped moving completely. It tasted so good, that I slowly watched as everyone else took their first bites of Mrs. Lawrence’s cooking.
They all paused too…
But not in a good way.
“So what do you all think?”
"I Love It,” I said before stuffing my face as if I hadn’t eaten anything in weeks. I almost forgot to use my utensils it was soo GOOD!
“Glad to see you’ve got your appetite,” Mrs. Lawrence laughed happily, “To think I was worried that no one would like it. Weird huh?”
“Yeah weird,” Karen groaned, not chewing her food.
“Diffidently…,” Brandy laughed nervously, “what would have given you that idea.”
“I couldn’t begin to understand,” I mumbled with my mouth still stuffed, the doorbell rang.
“Who could that be,” Mrs. Lawrence left the room.
“Are those mashed potatoes,” I asked attempting to get myself a serving. ′Attempt′ being the key word here. The potatoes didn’t want to let go of the spoon and I wound up picking up the whole bowl with it.
“No. It’s glue in a bowl,” Karen spat into her napkin, “I’m sorry, but this stuff is awful.”
“How can you say that,” I reached for another roll or two.
“I’m going to have to agree with Karen about this,” Brandy said trying to wash down his share of bread, “Even the rolls taste like Canine Crunchies.”
“I don’t know what’s scarier,” Karen groaned, “the fact that Mrs. Lawrence’s cooking tastes like dog food or that you know what Canine Cruchies tastes like.”
“There you are,” Mr. Bisha burst his way into the room, “I’ve been calling you all morning.”
…Eek! Mr. Bisha’s here! I’ve got to hide… I screamed in my head as I got under the table.
That lie about my amnesia may work for everyone else, but it wouldn’t on Mr. Bisha. It’s one thing if my friends see me because Jade wouldn’t find out so quickly. Plus, if I have to hide my tail by hiding myself at Jade’s place, then they’ll just think that my parents kept me at home for the next few days. If someone like Mr. Bisha found out then… they’d call my parents for sure. It wouldn’t be long before they’d find out about my tail and then Tyrone the human will have to disappear forever.
“Really? I didn’t notice,” Brandy sighed.
“Disrespectful little,” Principal Bisha stopped mid-sentence before taking a deep breath, “I’m sorry, I’ve had a rough weekend.”
“(Did Principal Bisha just apologize?),” Tyler chirped next to me.
“I think he did…,” I answered without thinking. It took me half a second to realize who I was talking to. I turned around to find that Tyler was just staring at me. He was staring at me so hard that he looked like a marble statue, “Oh, shit…”
“(You can understa-),” he was shouting for a second, but I grabbed him and kept his beak shut.
“Please don’t say anything,” I pleaded quietly, hoping that he wouldn’t notice that I answered him, “No one’s supposed to know. Please, I’m begging you. Please don’t tell.”
“(I don’t…),” I let him speak for only a second.
“Promise me that you won't tell.”
The chick just rolled his eyes and slightly nodded.
“Thank you,” I sighed, “I can’t have them finding me.”
“It took me all night, but I finally have it ready,” Mr. Bisha yawned, rubbing his eyes.
“What? You finished it,” Brandy shouted, “in just two days?”
“Finished what,” Karen stood up from the table.
“You’ll see at school tomorrow, after the announcement,” Mr. Bisha smiled, well for him this was an amazing achievement.
“Hold on, Mr. Bisha,” Brandy tried to object, “I never said that he agreed to it.”
“How can he refuse after he sees it,” Mr. Bisha put his right fist over his heart, “after all the blood and sweat that I put into it, he should at least see it.”
“He didn’t seem like he was interested, but I agree with you,” Brandy sighed a little, “Tyler should at least see it.”
“Tyler,” Mr. Bisha paused, his scent changed, and his eyes widened for a second. Seriously, don’t ask me how I noticed all of this at once.
“That’s his name now,” Brandy said looking around the room, “Speaking of which, where is he?”
“Okay,” I looked at Tyler, “I’m gonna let you go now. Go straight to Brandy. Don’t let them know I’m down here and I’ll get you a treat later.”
“(You honestly think that I care about treats?)”
“Just go,” I hushed. Tyler slowly walked away. He must still be suspicious of me.
“There you are Tyler,” Brandy found him.
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Bisha looked as if he was having heartburn for another minute, “But I thought that he had a different name.”
“He did, but he didn’t like the name at all.”
“Then why of all the name’s…”
“Excuse me, but do you have a problem with the name Tyler,” Mrs. Lawrence became stern all the sudden.
“No, it just caught me off guard, is all,” Mr. Bisha curled up a little on himself, “I figured that he’d still be called ‘Milkshake’. What a waste…”
“What is this thing that you’re so excited about,” Karen needed an excuse to get away from the food, “I want to see it.”
“And you will… come Monday. I would like to keep it a surprise for the rest of the students.”
“I’m someone who you wouldn’t want to make upset.”
“Oh yes… your father called me earlier as well,” Mr. Bisha grinned a little, “Told me to confiscate your Yokai for some reason or another.”
“He can’t do that,” Mrs. Lawrence snapped.
“He is her father, so I doubt that he doesn’t have that type of authority,” Mr. Bisha shrugged, “However, I don’t have the authority to take your Yokai myself unless you’re on school property.”
“Is that a threat?”
“I never threaten, Mrs. Mackenzie,” Mr. Bisha glared at her, “However, I only give one warning.”