Hazardous harmonics

It was one of these days... er, nights, where Harmonizer really needed to relax.

Probably the nightmares didn't help. It seemed that, every moment she spent here made things worse for her mental capabilities. She was currently lying across the musty sofa of her hideout, her eyes clenched shut tightly like she was bracing for something, her whole torso tensing up. She needed to land a good, solid punch on someone... but she was a good guy. Good guys do not use defenceless citizens for punching bags. Same goes with villains... but it was getting harder to remember that.

Speaking of punching bags... she'd probably have to get one, before it was too late. She'd refrained from patrolling tonight, as she was a little too unstable... she didn't want to hurt criminals too much.

She started to relax a bit... only for those horrible images to swim into her head again. Since she'd seen them as a kid, the memories were distorted... a lot more disturbing. A cry escaping her, she sat up, clutching her head a little in pain and frustration. She was going to go crazy if there was nothing to let it all out... and she hated crying.

Though, there was this... Harmonizer hesitated a little, before reaching behind her cape, pulling out a shiny metallic harmonica with a smooth maple wooden base, fingering it gently as she turned it about in her hands. She hated it... all it did was cause her trouble, and hurt people every time it was played... but she couldn't live without it. It was bound to a part of her soul. She couldn't even go for too long without playing it... like what she was trying to do now. If only it didn't hurt anyone, like it used to...

Technically, it was more of the fact that something was wrong with her, ever since she lost it and unleashed all she had on those murderers years ago... but she wasn't very good and blaming herself. Which was partly why she still had such a huge grudge on S.H.U.S.H.

This was the last thing she wanted to do, but she was getting desperate. It was this, or reawakening her madness. She was a hero... she didn't want to hurt people. Just a few tunes... she'd listen for anyone coming by, just in case. This was a pretty deserted street, though. People rarely came by.

Gently, she blew on her harmonica, letting the music flow through her soul, getting lost in it as it took over. She'd rather die than admit it, but she loved this feeling. She really missed it. It was just her and the music, alone.

Alone...

Or so she thought.

    • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
      Dr. Reginald Bushroot

      And evening like no other. The setting sun bathed the city of St. Canard in tones of orange and lilac… oddly. In a city with skyscrapers that reach up to ninety floors and more, it was an interesting time to not be drenched in shadow.

      Although that didn’t make life easy for some of the city’s more permanent residents.

      Namely one mutant, Dr. Reginald Bushroot, who on this very evening was rummaging through a back alley near the abandoned opera district. He did not have any kind of cover this time, no coat, no hat, no nothing. Merely a quick pace to get him behind this bit of rubbish and that bit, out of the sunlight’s setting rays.

      Trying his best not to be seen, he heard a noise echoing from not too far away. It was a city so even at that hour there was the hustle and bustle of usual noise going on, but this one seemed to ‘ping’ at his head. A small jolt unlike one of Megavolt’s pranks.

      He turned around and walked deeper into the alley, letting the noise get louder and discernible.

      Oh no, it’s not that depressive Mallard Man again, that instrument sure sounds like his, but… those notes are nothing like the usual Blues fare.

      As Bushroot walked closer, he tripped over an empty tin. While regaining his balance, the thing made quite a racket in the confined echo chamber the alley resembled.

      Keeping himself quite still, he noticed that the harmonica had stopped.

      • Harmonizer
        Harmonizer

        Harmonizer nearly dropped her harmonica. She had been so caught up in her playing she hadn't heard anyone coming...

        Had she hurt anyone? She'd been playing for far too long, until that someone made quite the racket. She felt herself panic a little. Too close to the hearing range. Too damn close!!! Who was...

        She tried to listen for a bit more, frozen on the sofa... if that guy out there got himself hurt because of her, she'd never forgive herself.

        • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
          Dr. Reginald Bushroot

          Bushroot moved forth, trying to tiptoe around the muck the alley had been left with; his talons made this slightly noisier than he would have hoped.

          Almost missing an opening, a couple of scratchy curtains blew around letting him see a small pathway, he entered, not quite able to see what was in front of him yet.

          • Harmonizer
            Harmonizer

            Why was this guy not running off? Why???

            Harmonizer felt herself panic a little. Who was even coming here? He didn't seem hurt, at least... but now, he could be a threat. Her hand tightened around the harmonica briefly, before she ducked into the shadows.

            Prepare for lunge when whoever this was showed up. She was too caught up in that to even realise the talon-like footsteps were familiar. And the guy was definitely friendly.

            • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
              Dr. Reginald Bushroot

              As Bushroot's eyes adjusted to the dim light flooding the path, he saw several abandoned storage rooms; props and plans strewn about, he felt a little uneasy wading through the waste.

              One room had quite a bit of light coming from within, he slowly made his way to the entrance; it was strange that he almost missed it.

              Amazing... for an old storage room, it looked quite home-y. Makeshift sofas and bannisters, chairs and candlelight. It definitely kept in tune with the abandoned Opera house, most of the items coming from it he surmised.

              Little did Bushy know, as he entered the room, a figure was looming towards.

              • Harmonizer
                Harmonizer

                Harmonizer attacked immediately, jumping on him and pinning him down with a feral snarl before realising who it was. Her eyes widened a little.

                "Reggie?"

                She quickly got off him, helping him up with a nervous grin. "Apologies... thought you were someone else." There were more worrying thoughts now, however... had he heard her playing? Was he hurt?

                • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                  Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                  "Oof, forgot you were a tackler."

                  Bushroot fluffed up his hair as the Harmonizer helped him up; stumbling over to the largest of the sofas he sat down and smiled at the hideout she had made for herself.

                  "Nice place... If this area wasn't out of business I'd think you were setting up for a new play, heh."

                  • Harmonizer
                    Harmonizer

                    Harmonizer was still glancing at him apprehensively, like she was afraid he was hurt or something, that she barely heard his next remark. "Uh... thanks... so what brings you 'ere?"

                    Realising she probably looked like an idiot standing there, she quickly turned to get something for her visitor. There was a tea set from an old Monte Carlo play she'd found in an old box, which she liked using for tea. She wasn't British, but she had a liking for it.

                    After she got them done, with water too, just in case Bushroot preferred it, with biscuits on the side, she brought it towards the table where the sofa was, pushing a few unfinished playscripts she'd found in one of the underground rooms and had been reading aside and placing the tray down and sitting next to him. He didn't look injured, as far as she could tell... not that she was complaining. But he was in hearing range...

                    "Are... are you okay?" she blurted out in worry, before she realised it.

                    • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                      Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                      Bushroot shrugged in a way that could only mean ‘not much.’

                      "Of course I'm okay..."

                      He dabbed a leafy hand in the water and smiled softly. Simply absorbing nutrients felt more comfortable than drinking "normally”; Bushroot normally wouldn't do it in front of anyone but on this occasion he felt at ease.

                      "...those poor leaves you're supping on aren't. But I won't fuss, I've had a run in with that tea factory recently and... let's just say I'm not going back."

                      • Harmonizer
                        Harmonizer

                        Harmonizer cringed a bit. Tea... leaves... she'd forgotten. She glanced at him, liking the way he drank. It was really unusual, but nice.

                        She lifted a brow at the tea factory, but didn't press. She was still stunned over how he heard her playing... without being hurt.

                        Or maybe he didn't. Maybe plants had a shorter hearing range. Come to think of it... plants weren't affected by her playing...

                        "So... you 'aven't 'eard anything?" she asked slowly. That's about as far as she'd go... if Reggie didn't, she'd drop the whole awkwardness and start some real conversation.

                        • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                          Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                          "Oh no, I've heard plenty, there's a new Whiffle ad campaign Quacjerjack won't stop going on about ending, Megsy's collected his two-thousand-and-first bulb and..."

                          He paused, letting the question sink in.

                          "...and you're referring to that music... heh... Haven't heard a harmonica since the Mallard Man stalked the bridge. But that guy sticks to loose Blues tunes, whoever he is."

                          Bushroot noticed the Harmonizer blush at the mention of the instrument.

                          "I take it... that was you, earlier?"

                          • Harmonizer
                            Harmonizer

                            Harmonizer barely registered what Reggie said about the Mallard Man, continuing to stare at him. So... he really heard it... she snapped out of her thoughts when he asked if it was her playing earlier.

                            She suddenly looked extremely nervous, and backed off a bit. "Um... n-no, I-"

                            Only for her harmonica to slide out of her cape, onto the sofa, in plain view. In her hurry earlier, she hadn't kept it in properly. She quickly picked it up and held it back, like she was afraid it would go off or something.

                            "W-why are you still alive- I... I mean..." she looked at him, wide-eyed and still nervous. "Y-you're... not 'urt..."

                            Reggie probably didn't understand a thing.

                            • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                              Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                              Confused but intrigued, Bushroot noticed the nervous tension building on her face. It's just a harmonica.

                              "Alive? Those things can get loud but- It's not a trick harmonica? Cause Quackerjack has one of those in his catalog, I think... I've never bothered to ask what it does though..."

                              No use, the look on the Harmonizer's face was stuck; Bushy stopped and stared, wondering what could possibly be so harmful about the metal wind instrument that dropped onto the couch for a brief moment.

                              • Harmonizer
                                Harmonizer

                                By all laws of nature, Reggie should have been a mangled form of a corpse right now... not that she was complaining... her friend got a full blast with the musical instrument, but he was still alive and unhurt. She just didn't know how.

                                "You're part plant..." she muttered in realisation. "My music doesn't 'urt plants..." she was so relieved she looked like she wanted to cry. "You 'ave n-no idea what a relief zis ees..."

                                More confusion for Bushroot. Harmonizer cringed slightly. She hadn't told anyone since she came here about this... but she could let him know. He might understand.

                                "Can I trust you with a secret?" Not like she was trusting him with her hideout's location already.

                                • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                  Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                  Bushroot sat there, a perplexed half-grin splashed across his face.

                                  "I-I... however bad you think you play, I'm sure there's no reason to feel like it'll harm anyone..."

                                  A relief?

                                  "...well, my head feels kinda funny, but that always happens when I hear sharp music."
                                  Bushroot gestured with his hands into a 'lightning' like motion.

                                  "Secret... Um, sure." Odd she had to ask... Bushy put on another half-grin, now feeling nervous himself.

                                  • Harmonizer
                                    Harmonizer

                                    Harmonizer glanced at the harmonica, then at Reggie, then let out a sigh.

                                    "You won't believe zis... but I possess ze ability to control people's dance movements through music," she fingered the instrument gently, trying to calm down. "Everyone with ze Octave bloodline does. My family kept eet a secret, so I never told you zis, even as kids..." she glanced up at Reggie, then went on. "At least, I used to... I had really good control over them..." her hands trembled a little. "I never told you why I left een ze first place... my mother was murdered."

                                    She turned away so he wouldn't have to see her tears. "I lost eet... a monster was unleashed... I tr-tried to kill those murderers with everything I'd got... eef eet w-wasn't for my father, I would 'ave done eet..."

                                    She'd never forget what that felt like. One moment of anger and pain, and she nearly did it... she enjoyed the fear on the men's faces, the increase in her powers coursing through her, nearly turning her insane... maybe she was insane. She couldn't even control her emotions anymore.

                                    "I lost control of my powers since then... now all that'll 'appen when I play eet..." she glanced back at Reggie, wondering how he was taking it. "Anyone who 'ears my music will twist up 'orribly... breaking them... sometimes even killing them..."

                                    "Even eef I wanted to, I can't let zis out of my sight," she held up the harmonica. "Eet's my soul instrument... anything 'appens to eet, part of my soul gets ripped out. And sometimes... eet's ze only thing that could calm me down, as much as I 'ate eet. I... I'm just glad eet didn't 'urt you..."

                                    She braced herself for his response. He probably thought her a monster now...

                                    • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                      Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                      Bushroot pulled her in, wrapping his vine arms around he responded in the only way he thought good enough, a hug. There were too many questions; in his years of being a mutant, nothing unsettled him much anymore, so he kept on hugging until he felt his message was clear.

                                      "You don't have to worry around me."

                                      Bushy let go, smiling and waiting for her to turn around.

                                      "You've got a power Taz, you oughta learn how to use it again."

                                      • Harmonizer
                                        Harmonizer

                                        Harmonizer was startled when he hugged her... so... did that mean he didn't hate her?

                                        But... all her powers did was cause her trouble... he didn't mind that?

                                        She felt herself relax a little in his embrace, and when he let go, she lifted up a green-gloved hand and brushed off her tears, turning back shyly at him to smile.

                                        That was so sweet of him... but she knew very well it was already too late. She smiled a little sadly. "Eet's gone. I can't get eet back... I've tried... people gets 'urt. All I 'ave left ees my 'earing... well, I... I'm just glad you're not 'urt..."

                                        In fact, it made her... happy. One look at him, and she knew she could play her music around him without causing him harm, or fear, other than her family... something she'd longed for for a while.

                                        So, erhm... something about hating her harmonica? Perhaps... she only did hate it for being unable to play for anyone without causing them harm...

                                        • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                          Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                          Bushroot sat back down, taking in more water and smiling from cheek to cheek, he stared into the Hamonizer's eyes. She still looked so uneasy, he knew that feeling all too well. All he wanted at that moment was to cheer her up, something he wished had been done for him many a time.

                                          "I interrupted you earlier, why don't you go on playing that."

                                          He turned to the water and grabbed a biscuit sitting beside it.

                                          "I have all night to hear it."

                                          • Harmonizer
                                            Harmonizer

                                            Harmonizer hesitated a moment, then she glanced around, straining to hear if anyone was in harmonica hearing range. Didn't seem like it...

                                            She smiled at Reggie, feeling gratified that he wanted to cheer her up. "I... I think you'd like zis..." she slowly put the harmonica to her bill, and after a long pause, she started on 'Sunshine in the meadows'. While her music had no effect on plants, she could tell they liked it. Made sense... plants always liked music.

                                            Just don't ask her to sing... fingernails over chalkboard sounds nicer than it. She'd gotten kicked out of music class back in elementary school. Reggie back then didn't think it was so bad, but she knew how it was. It was funny, though.

                                            • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                              Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                              Strange, harmonicas aren't know to be... harmonic, but it depends on the player Bushroot guessed.

                                              Leaning back on the couch, nibbling on a biscuit, he relaxed to the Harmonizer's music, happy that she was finally smiling as wide as he was.

                                              • Harmonizer
                                                Harmonizer

                                                He liked it... he really liked it.

                                                Harmonizer really brightened up... she was like her old self again. She hugged him halfway through the playing on impulse. "Thank you... I really needed zat."

                                                Then she pulled away shyly. It was still strange to her... getting a supervillain for a friend. Albeit a very nice one, though. There must be something she could do for him...

                                                • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                                  Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                                  Crunching thru a larger section, Bushroot looked back and muffled out "You're welcome!" while chewing.

                                                  She seemed to be paused though... staring into Taz's eyes, they seemed slightly off. The urge to 'boop' her on the bill seemed like the appropriately funny thing to do, but he wasn't sure if 'funny' was appropriate, so he held back.

                                                  Gulping down the chunk of biscuit, the silence was beginning to get to him.

                                                  "...are you alright?"

                                                  • Harmonizer
                                                    Harmonizer

                                                    Harmonizer glanced at him, slightly confused, then smiled. "I'm fine... zis just means a lot to me. Ees there anything I could do for you een return?"

                                                    • Dr. Reginald Bushroot
                                                      Dr. Reginald Bushroot

                                                      "Oh no, I'm fine... I heard you play and nothing bad happened... this is some nice water, I-I... for once I... I don't want any more... This is nice, really nice."

                                                      Bushroot choked at the mushy words leaving his beak, he grasped the glass of water and for the first time that night drank from it "normally."

                                                      "It's nice to not have to start from scratch..."

                                                      "You know me better than I do!" he chuckled, sipping on the last of the water.