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Demencia pouted as the door clicked shut, Black Hat leaving for some meeting or business deal. (She hadn't bothered paying attention to what it was, only that he was leaving for a few hours.) The house fell quiet, a rare occurrence, and she stood there looking at the dark wood for another few moments.

“Bored now,” she suddenly announced to the empty hall, spinning on her heel and starting down the hallway. Now then, what could she do?

...Well there was always the obvious.

A toothy grin pulled across her face as she made for the Lab, hopping up onto the wall as she got close. The sounds of Flug working was unmistakable and created the perfect cover for her to slip by the partially open door, skittering up to the ceiling. Which was strange actually. Flug usually had the door shut and locked to keep her out. (Not that it stopped her at all.)

Mismatched eyes took in the scientist’s upside down form, hunched over one of the many tables. She scuttled over until he was right below her, still oblivious to her presence. He seemed totally engrossed in soldering pieces onto the small circuit board he had. He wouldn’t be expecting her at all.

Perfect.

Demencia waited until he was just about to put another piece of metal in place before dropping, flipping to land on her feet with cat-like grace. She hit the metal floor with a loud crash, “FLUG!”

He actually squealed, flinching so badly the welding torch went flying out of his hand, getting caught by the end of its hose and clattering to the floor. He went scrambling after it, fumbling to turn off the flame.

D-Demencia-! You can’t-you have to stop doing that!”

It sounded like he was trying to be forceful, but the way his voice trembled from the surprise ruined it. She shrugged and stuck her tongue out at him. “I don’t see why I should. I mean, it still gets you everytime!”

Flug made a strangled sound of frustration, jerkily placing the torch back on the table, inspecting the circuit to see if anything had broken. “I don’t want you to-You could get hurt. I’ve t-told you, I’m not playing with t-toys. Some of what I make is dangerous, even-even for you.”

“And what, it’s not for you?”

T-That’s not the point!

The reptilian hybrid blew a raspberry at him.

“Soooo, what are you making anyway?”

He swatted at her hand when she reached to pick up the board, sliding it out of her reach. “Nothing for you t-to mess with. I don’t need you breaking anything else!”

The girl tilted her head, pouting, “When I have I broken anything?” The glare she got had her amending, “I mean, recently.”

Flug’s stare intensified, his hands clenching into fists at his sides. Demencia grinned.

After a moment, his shoulders slumped, defeated, and he turned away. “I just don’t need-I don’t want anything else to go wrong right now.”

The tone of his voice made her pause. He sounded anxious, though that was nothing unusual. But instead of a general tired, there was an undertone of sheer exhaustion. Demencia pursed her lips, giving the scientist a once-over. All of his clothes, even the paper bag was deeply wrinkled, like he hadn’t changed in a week. He might have possibly even slept in them several times.

She knew he was prone to being a workaholic, but he at least kept up with some semblance of taking care of himself. Come to think of it, had she seen him out of the lab in the past few days? She didn’t think so.

Her nose wrinkled before she did a dramatic turn on her toes, sighing in exasperation. “Ugh, fiiiiine. I’ll go find 5.0.5 instead. He’s more fun than you anyway.”

The noise of relief she got was more than enough for her smile to soften. Demencia skipped back to the lab door, kicking it open and moving to push it shut.

She gave one last glance inside...and stopped.

The hybrid had assumed Flug would have gone straight back to work. Instead he had silently sunk to his knees, clutching at his arms, head resting on the edge of the table. She opened her mouth to call out, but his voice caught her first, barely there even to her advanced hearing.

“...please...not now not now...too close...j-just finish-just finish this part and...ah...it hurts…” He let out a soft whimper, before clumsily getting to his feet again, whole body seeming to tremble with the effort. He reached for the welding torch with one shaking hand and started working again.

Demencia frowned.

That was...odd. Even as dedicated as he was, Flug generally didn’t push his limits. (Black Hat didn’t either, for that matter. He could be callous and demanding, but at least he understood that production was higher when Flug wasn’t entirely strung out.)

But whatever. If he was going to push himself like that, it was his problem. She turned and walked away.

The next few hours were dreadfully uneventful. She had found and bothered 5.0.5 several times, doing such things that included, but was not limited to: getting soapsuds from the dishes everywhere, tilting pictures in an entire hallway and laughing as the bear frantically tried to reach the highest ones, startling him no less than 5 times, and actually having a nice time sitting down and drawing with him. (She was getting better! Her people sort of resembled people now.)

She had also hooked up her guitar to the biggest speakers they had and played until things on the upper floors had started rattling. (She stopped when she heard crashing and 5.0.5’s wails of despair.)

But now, Demencia was bored again. And since it had been hours, it was high-time she messed with Flug again. It was entirely possible he was still working from before, but he could have just as easily have gone to get a snack or fallen asleep. (She grinned widely at that last thought, starting to formulate all the ways she could mess with him.)

The hybrid didn’t get the chance however, turning a corner and catching the scientist’s back as he strode down the hall. Weird, he normally wasn’t in this part of the house, unless he was sent out on an errand or something. And, unless she had suddenly gone deaf, he really wasn’t making much noise.

Demencia wrinkled her nose before scaling up the wall and following.

Flug stiffened and turned, glancing over his shoulder but upon not seeing anything, hurried on. Turning into another hall, he stopped and leaned on a wall, letting out a soft and pained breath. He didn’t seem to be paying attention to his surroundings.

Perfect.

She dropped to the floor, like she had earlier, though with much less of a crash this time. “FLUG!”

He didn’t scream this time. He actually didn’t do much of anything except freeze in place. She grinned and skipped over, “Where you going, Flugbug~? You trying to sneak out?”

The doctor seemed to jump then. She gasped, hands coming up to her face in glee. “You are! You totally are! Oooh, you naughty boy!!”

Demen...cia…

She almost didn’t catch his voice. It was so quiet and strained, like he was in pain and trying to hide it. Her smile slipped a little, “Whaaaat?”

...go away…

A snort, “As if! You’re trying to sneak out! You have somewhere to be, huh?” She stepped in front of him as he pushed off the wall, blocking his way. “Oooh, are you going to a secret meeting? Does Black Hat know~?”

Flug suddenly moved, and Demencia found herself stumbling to the side a few steps. She blinked before realizing that the scientist had just shoved her. “Hey! What was that for!?”

He didn’t answer, instead trying to lurch past with a rather unsteady gait. The hybrid grabbed his shoulder, spinning him around to face her, “What’s up with you? You were acting weird earlier and now you’re trying to leave the house?”

The low growl she received didn’t register at first, and had her turning to see when 5.0.5 had showed up. In the next moment, she was smacking into the wall, her cheek stinging, blood on her tongue. Dazedly, the hybrid lifted a hand to her cheek, mismatched eyes lifting to the other, taking in his still outstretched arm.

“...Did you…just...?”

Flug recoiled, clutching his hand to his chest, “I-I! I didn’t-”

She just stared at him, unable to comprehend that the scientist had just punched her. Hard enough to send her into a wall even.

Demencia bared her teeth, launching herself at the other. Her fingers caught his shoulders again, and he hit the wall behind him. “What was that for!?” she cried out, indignant. “All I asked was what you were doing!”

He didn’t answer, and she could feel his body shiver.

The next few moments were a blur. There was a snarl, her vision suddenly obscured by a gloved hand as she was thrown to the floor. Pain jolted up her spine from the awkward way she landed, a pained gasp escaping her. There was the muffled crinkling of paper and a hand slamming down on her chest, making the breath catch in her throat.

Demencia's vision swam, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes as she tried to look up at the form above her. The only things she could make out was a mess of brown and the flash of white teeth.

Pain bloomed from the side of her neck.

She screamed. Fingers scrabbled at the arm holding her down, her nails trying to find purchase in white fabric. One leg found a body and she kicked with all of her might, the form suddenly disappearing. There was a loud crash, like someone flinging open a door a little too hard.

The hybrid clutched at her throbbing neck, struggling into a sitting position before pulling her hand away. It was covered in blood. Footsteps caused her to look up with a small whimper. A small part of her mind was trying to deny that the figure above her was Flug, the fading voice insisting that the scientist couldn’t do this, that this was some imposter in his clothes.

A single eye stared down at her, opened wide, pupil slitted and burning yellow. The rest of his face was shadowed, but there was blood on his shirt.

The throbbing in her neck was started to dull, and she found that it was getting harder to breathe, to move. Her heart seemed to beat in her mouth, terror and adrenaline making her pulse race.

Flug reached down and hauled her up by her arm, his grip like iron. Pain bloomed again and Demencia struggled weakly, limbs feeling like deadweight. It felt like time had slowed down. All she could feel was hot breath on her skin, blood dripping down her chest. She couldn’t think, couldn’t move-

She was flying again, hitting the ground and feeling something, somewhere in her body crack. Sounds of animal snarling and things being slammed around reached her as if from far away.

Her eyes opened, vision blurred but just able to make out a huge, furred shape. A pained screech. A roar.

A bloodied blue paw suddenly obscuring her view. More snarling from somewhere above. Flug’s voice, distant and terrified.

“Dem...cia…? Oh god. I...I didn’t mean to-”

Red sneakers appearing momentarily only to stumble back at another snarl. The blurred image of a man’s face, wide gold eyes finding her own, anguished.

“I’m sorry-!”

Fading footsteps.

Soft fur on her cheek.

A low whine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darkness.