Broken music

((OOC: This is after the events of Harmonizer Wanted.))

The rain had been coming down in torrents for a while now, beating down on the rooftops of the city of St Canard. Lightning would occasionally flash across the sky, followed by the crashing sound of thunder. Anyone who got caught in the rain would be soaked through, and many people had already rushed for shelter, leaving the entire city seem like it was deserted. 

Well, except for the vehicles moving by on the road slowly, caught in traffic jams that always seemed to occur during rains. Everyone had the same goal in mind: to get out of the heavy rain and get to their destination as soon as possible. But, other than that, no one else was out and about. 

Except for a small figure, too hard to make out in the storm, that seemed to be walking along the streets, ignoring the rain showering down on her back and water dripping from her hair into her eyes as she trudged on, her mind seemingly elsewhere. 

Half an hour later... 

If Bushroot was in the greenhouse, he'd hear a noise at the door above the sound of the rain pelting down on his greenhouse roof. Knocking. 

Even if he asked who was there, there would be no answer. Just knocking. Over and over, and it wasn't getting louder or softer. 

Now who could that be...?

    • Launchpad McQuack
      Launchpad McQuack

      Bushroot was settled in for the night, munching homemade veggie chips (from plants that lived independently from their fruit, like pumpkins, squash, apples, etc), soaking his roots in a bucket, and watching a movie on his computer monitor (an old boxy monitor.  He hadn't been brave enough to upgrade to a flatscreen).  He had his petals wrapped in a hair turban and was wearing a comfy bath robe.  Spike was curled up beside him, drooling a little and twitching in a dream.  All was well in theur section of St. Canard until-- Boom! A clap of thunder and a flash of lightning made the power flicker.  Spike scrambled to his roots and hugged Bushroot in fright.  

      "Phew. That was a close one. Aw, don't worry, Spike. The thunder and lightning will be gone before we know it, and the rain is filling up the bay and streams so all our friends can have a nice drink later. When they aren't clinging for dear life in sloppy mud with loose footing..."  Bushroot frowned. "I sure am glad I'm not a tree." 

      He looked back at the computer to see a black screen with computer code running across it. The movie was prematurely cut off and the computer was running a system scan and reboot. 

      "Aw come in! Couldn't you have waited fifteen minutes? I want to see the ending!" Bushroot bemoaned.  "Ah well. I guess I can DuckTube it later."

      He tossed Spike a chip and was about to put another chip in his bill when Spike suddenly whimpered eagerly and ran off. 

      "What, Boy, what is it? Oh! Someone's knocking." Bushroot got up to answer. "Who would be out on a night like this?" 

      Spike opened the door and about got honked on the head by another knock, but that wasn't enough to slow the happy Venus Flytrap. He bounced around in greeting, offering happy slurps. As if their visitor wasn't wet enough already.  

      • Harmonizer
        Harmonizer

        Harmonizer barely flinched as Spike rushed up to give her a doggy welcome. Instead of crouching down to ruffle his hair and hug him and give him a cheerful greeting in return like she always did whenever she came by, she just walked right in with the same pace she walked earlier. 

        Once she was in, and safely out of the rain, she just stood there, a small puddle forming around her as the rain dripped off her soaked self and down onto the ground. Her head was bowed slightly, but if Bushroot looked closely at her, he'd notice that her face was empty and blank... just like her downcast eyes. She also seemed to be shaking a little... though, it wasn't from the cold. She was too resistant to that. 

        • Launchpad McQuack
          Launchpad McQuack

          Spike paused in his greeting to take note of Harmonizer's lack of emotion and trembling. Oh! She was cold! He could help.  He scurried off to get towels for her.

           

          Bushroot was initially happy to see his friend, but he was taken aback at how small and defeated she looked. He almost wondered if someone else had swapped clothes with Harmonizer and had come here to trick him. But who would play a nasty trick like that, and on a supervillian no less?

          "Taz...? Are...you okay?" He closed the door and came over to stand near Harmonizer.  His hand lingered a few inches over her shoulder, wanting to offer a comforting hug but unsure of how she'd react.  

          Spike returned with the towels and helpfully wrapped one around Harmonizer's shoulders. He held the other for her to take. 

          "Thanks, Spike. Here..." Bushroot took off his bathrobe to drape on top of the towel. "You're sopping wet. I should start keeping clothes for you to change into here. I know water on a duck's back is no problem, but soaked feathers are just asking to catch a chill." 

          • Harmonizer
            Harmonizer

            Harmonizer made no response as Reggie spoke to her, concerned. She just stood there like a statue. The only evidence that she was still alive was the soft, tense breathing coming from her, and that she was still shaking. 

            As Spike draped a towel around her, Reggie adding his bathrobe over it, speaking to her all the while, she looked up slowly and blinked water out of her eyes, but other than that, she made no move to do or say anything else. Though, thankfully, it seemed that she was starting to come back to Earth again. 

            However... she now looked terribly upset. 

            • Launchpad McQuack
              Launchpad McQuack

              Reggie took the second towel Spike was holding and reached out to dab Harmonizer's face with it. 

              "Aw. I'm sorry about whatever happened." He offered a hug. 

              Spike ran off to get Harmonizer a drink. 

              • Harmonizer
                Harmonizer

                Harmonizer moved away a little when Reggie used the other towel to wipe her face, feeling slightly uncomfortable. 

                On the bright side... at least he won't be able to tell if she'd been crying or not.

                Because she had. 

                She didn't even know what had posessed her to come here. She'd been upset after that fight, and had hidden away for a while. It really hurt... pretending to be a villain and then fighting one of her friends. 

                But she couldn't deny she'd enjoyed it somewhat, fighting a hero, her friend, no less, after she made him angry... it'd been fun!

                Was she going mad? Was she good enough to be a hero? Or was she truly just a villain, deep down? She'd always wanted to do good... to be a hero to others, to save the day, and to have fun while she was at it. But after that fight... she just didn't know anymore. She used to be so sure of herself and what she wanted to do, but now, she was losing her confidence. 

                Between her twisted powers, her rouge tendencies, how she acted earlier, and Negaduck's words cutting into her more than ever, she had never felt so lost. And scared. Though, she'd never admit that. 

                It was only when it had started raining that it pulled her out of hiding. Reggie's kind words had stuck to her... telling her she was always welcome to his greenhouse anytime she wanted. She didn't want to trouble him, but then, she found herself walking there, brooding the whole way. 

                She stared at Reggie for a while when he offered her a hug, and then she slowly moved into it, heaving a little. She figured if he tried to go into unwanted territory, she could just pull away. 

                • Launchpad McQuack
                  Launchpad McQuack

                  Reggie didn't try to force Harmonizer to dry off. After a moment of waiting to see what she would do, he hugged her and just held her, not moving his hands away from her shoulders.  She could very easily move out of his embrace without resistance. 

                  "I guess you don't want to talk about it."

                  At the moment, but he was going to snoop around to try to figure it out himself.  There was probably something about it on the news if she was that shaken up.

                  "Is there anything I can do? Fix you a bowl of soup or ice cream? Tea?" 

                  Spike arrived with a cup of tea on a tray, panting hopefully. 

                  "Good job, Spike." Bushroot took the tea to keep it from falling. 

                  "I was watching a movie. I can restart it and watch it all over with you if you'd like that? The storm knocked out my power for a moment and the computer restarted, but it should be done rebooting by now." 

                  • Harmonizer
                    Harmonizer

                    Even if Harmonizer wanted to talk about it... she couldn't speak at the moment. She couldn't trust herself to not cry when she opened her bill. 

                    And, frankly, she didn't want him to catch her being a crybaby again. 

                    Closing her eyes, she slowly relaxed in Reggie's embrace, now clutching the towel and bathrobe around her, even though she didn't feel cold. He seemed to know what would bug her and what wouldn't, and she was grateful for that. 

                    She shrugged slightly when Bushroot asked if he could do anything for her. She didn't need him to. Being here with him already made her feel better.

                    Though... she wouldn't say no to a cup of tea. 

                    Gradually, she became more alive as he spoke to her more, and she even looked up into his eyes, though they still looked hurt and... sad. 

                    She still didn't speak, but she gave him a small nod when he asked her if she wanted to watch a movie with him. The storm was still going on, so it looked like they won't be doing anything else for the next few hours. 

                    • Launchpad McQuack
                      Launchpad McQuack

                      "Okay."  Reggie smiled and gestured toward his office, having a flower form a second chair next to his so that they could watch the movie.  

                      "We can watch a different one if you'd like.  This one is about some kids and their estranged uncle going on an adventure and dodging a bad guy. There's another one I'd like to watch that's about this robot that has human feelings."

                      He fixed up Harmonizer's tea the way she liked and pressed the warm cup into her hands.  Drink. Sit. Relax. Please?

                      • Harmonizer
                        Harmonizer

                        Normally, Harmonizer would jump at the chance to choose a movie, but now, she just shrugged. Anything was fine... 

                        It took her a while to grab hold of the mug, literally forcing her numb fingers to curl around it as she took it from him. She managed a small, barely noticeable smile as thanks, but other than that, she still didn't speak. 

                        She leaned back on the flower sofa, sipping on the hot tea slowly, letting it quench her dry throat as she slowly enjoyed the aroma and flavour. Was that... apple? 

                        Once she had enough, she moved it down to her lap, holding it with both hands as she gazed into her own reflection in the dark waters, seeing a sad face stare back. She didn't look crazy or insane...

                        Without knowing it, she muttered something quietly to herself. 

                        • Launchpad McQuack
                          Launchpad McQuack

                          "Did you say something?" Reggie prodded, pausing the movie to look curiously at Harmonizer. He'd been paying closer attention to her than the screen but he'd pretended to watch the screen.

                          Spike hopped up on the couch next to Harmonizer and laid his head on her lap. 

                          • Harmonizer
                            Harmonizer

                            Harmonizer jumped a little, nearly upsetting the cup when Reggie spoke to her, even pausing the movie. Steadying it, she turned to look at him shakily, then stroked Spike's orange tuft of hair as he moved his head on her lap. 

                            "I... I..." she bit her lip and averted her eyes, turning down to look at Spike instead. "I'm not a villain... am I?" 

                            Okay, that question was completely out of the blue. 

                            • Launchpad McQuack
                              Launchpad McQuack

                              "A villain? No way! You're too nice for starters, and you don't rob people of all of their life savings and possessions. Plus you would never kill anyone. Would you? At least...not intentionally." Reggie replied awkwardly. "Sorry... I may not be the best person to ask on that matter..." 

                              Spike panted appreciatively and kicked one of his roots like a dog kicking the air. 

                               

                               

                              • Harmonizer
                                Harmonizer

                                Those words only served to make the heroine more upset. Her grip tightened on the mug, and she was trembling a little. 

                                Before she knew it, everything poured out. 

                                Meeting a new friend, only for her to find out she was working for a selfish cause. That whole fight at the hospital. Negaduck's words. That agent hurt in friendly fire because of her. Being a wanted criminal. How she acted towards a friend who suspected her... then fighting and hurting him. 

                                By the time she was done, she was nearly in tears. 

                                "I think I'm losing my mind. I... I liked eet... fighting zat 'ero. Eet just f-felt so good..." she stuttered, not trusting herself to be able to look at Reggie. "I can't keep any friends. I'd always let them down, or-or 'urt them... a-and look at my powers!" she stared at her trembling hands, which were now itching for her harmonica. "All they do ees 'urt or kill people... w-what eef zat's all I'm good for...?" 

                                She'd been under a lot of stress ever since that hospital incident, and that fight had been the only chance to let it all out. She just never realised it.

                                The only reason she was even staying was Reggie. She couldn't afford to hurt him ever again. Even if it killed her, she'd stay right by him. 

                                • Launchpad McQuack
                                  Launchpad McQuack

                                  Concerned by Harmonizer's distress, Spike sat up to lick her cheek and hug her.

                                  Reggie formed and listened while Harmonizer poured everything out. When she finished, he patted her hand comfortingly.

                                  "You're good at lots of stuff, Taz. You make me smile and laugh, and help me take my beak out of my projects when I'm too engrossed to take care of myself. And music doesn't harm plants, so you know you can play around me whenever you want to."

                                  "I don't think you're going crazy, either. If it makes you feel better, I--... I know how it feels, being in my element...using my powers to their extent. It does feel good, getting your way for once and not having anyone or anything holding you back. Living in the moment and feeling better than you ever have before! Making someone who once laughed at you or yelled at you Fear you..." His own eyes took on a slightly manic gleam for a moment as he remembered his past before sadness tinged his expression. He looked away.

                                  "My powers can hurt and kill, too. I've hurt a lot of people. Some more than others..." He didn't want to lose his only friend but he couldn't stop opening up to her.

                                  "M-m-my powers were supposed to do good. I wanted to solve world hunger, and reduce deforestation and make people respect me. I never wanted to become...this." He looked at his hands. "Now I'm one of St. Canard's most wanted criminals, and I can't even go to the nursery or grocery store to buy food or a vase for my daisies."

                                  • Harmonizer
                                    Harmonizer

                                    When Spike licked Harmonizer, she looked surprised at first, not expecting that, then she chuckled weakly as he hugged her. "Thanks, Spike," she said, putting an arm around him.

                                    Reggie earned himself a small, grateful smile, as well, when he spoke to her, reminding her of all the good she'd done. It meant a lot to her, considering she was still harbouring the guilt of leaving him and forgetting about him in the first place. 

                                    And one of the main reasons she really liked about Reggie... she could play her music without harming him. It always made her so happy, knowing someone was enjoying her music without killing or hurting himself. She'd worked so hard to keep her powers under control as a child, just so she could play it in public without raising suspicion, only for it all to be thrown away when she lost it all that night... 

                                    Hearing him speak from experience about how he'd felt using his own powers to their full extent; being able to get his way, living in the moment, and making people pay for what they'd done to him... she cringed a little at her own past. 

                                    Yes, she could certainly relate to that. 

                                    She hardly knew anything about his past, since Reggie had been pretty vague about it, strangely, but she'd caught on that he'd been bullied almost his whole life when she'd disappeared, even after his mutation. She wondered what he had to hide. 

                                    "Reggie, listen to me," she took his hand, intertwining it with hers, and gave him a comforting smile, gazing up at his blue eyes as she leaned in closer to him. "Your powers can do amazing things. You can make plants grow een a matter of seconds. You can create beautiful plantlife. And they can move when you're around... you give them ze freedom most of them only dreamed of." Gently, she petted Spike, while continuing to smile at her friend. "Most importantly, you can speak to them. You understand them ze most, and you know exactly what makes them comfortable, what they don't like, what they do like, and you 'elp them. You... you 'elped me appreciate plantlife more. I never cared so much about them before.

                                    "And... you know what?" she went on, her smile turning warm. "You may 'ave changed some, but you're still kind, and caring, and compassionate, even after all you've been through." Briefly, her eyes seemed to flash in anger as she recalled that incident at the supermarket. "Not everyone can be zat way. You 'ave my respect."

                                    Then she chuckled a little and mussed his fluffy hair. "Besides, you don't look so bad. Een fact, you look great! Eef only people would see zat... you won't 'ave to be a criminal anymore."

                                    • Launchpad McQuack
                                      Launchpad McQuack

                                      Spike panted happily and snuggled against Harmonizer for a little while. He curled up on the flower petal beside her and yawned, glad that both of his two legged companions seemed to be lightening up and talking happily again.

                                       

                                      Reggie blushed as Harmonizer took his hand.  He grinned while she talked about how he helped plant life.  He was pretty proud of the rare, delicate orchids he was able to grow, thanks to his powers.   Most gardeners could only dream of having such delicate, temperature, moisture, chemical, and photo-sensitive plants in their greenhouses.  

                                      "Thanks." He smiled shyly from her praise, giggling when she rumpled his hair petals. "There definitely some perks to having this body, heehee. At least I don't have to worry about going permanently bald anymore."  

                                      • Harmonizer
                                        Harmonizer

                                        Harmonizer nodded and smiled at him when he thanked her. "Anytime, Reg."

                                        Yes, his powers were pretty amazing. And strange but true, she really liked the way he looked. She thought it was so cool the way he could elong his arms out to any length, and how he could regenerate so easily. He still had those pale blue eyes she remembered from as a child. And she really, really liked how he was completely unaffected by her powers, allowing her to play for him to her heart's content, without any fear of hurting him. 

                                        Her smile faded a little when she remembered her powers, and turned away to the side. Unlike his, she could not ever use them for good. 

                                        She missed how her powers used to work... but there was no getting it back now. 

                                        "Eet's funny... I'm actually jealous of you," she muttered, tugging at her own cape absent-mindedly as a wistful smile played on her bill. "You can still do so much with your powers. I can't." 

                                        Though, thanks to him, she was starting to act like her old self again... and feel a strange but peaceful sort of happiness only being around him could bring out. 

                                        • Launchpad McQuack
                                          Launchpad McQuack

                                          Reggie was surprised for a moment. How could anyone be jealous of him? All he'd wanted was to fit in and he was more of an outcast now than he'd been as Dr. Bushroot. Although he could see her point... It was pretty nice being able to use the sun, earth, and water to grow, and being able to summon plants to do his will just about anywhere. He smiled sympathetically. 

                                          "You could..play for us? I'm sure Spike, Red, Oak, Daisy, Violet, Lily, Cana, Iris, and the rest would not mind a melody? It might even help Peony grow. She's been pretty grouchy lately. Must be in seed." 

                                          • Harmonizer
                                            Harmonizer

                                            Harmonizer's eyes lit up happily at that suggestion. He didn't even need to tell her twice. Her hand was already reaching back into the folds of her cloak, pulling out her harmonica. 

                                            Taking a moment to feel the instrument, its fine steel and maple wooden base, she then slowly placed it against her bill and started playing, softly at first, then at a normal volume. It was a funky French tune, one of her favourites. 

                                            She felt her worries slip away the longer she played, just letting the music take over. She'd even started improvising, just for fun, adding parts into the music and mixing some of them up, allowing the peaceful atmosphere around her to unconsciously be her inspiration. 

                                            • Launchpad McQuack
                                              Launchpad McQuack

                                              The plants swayed gently to the music.  Some grew taller, or unfurled their leaves. Some spread their branches to nestle more snuggly in their plot of soil.  Even the aforementioned grouchy peony that was well past its flowering season, seemed to be charmed. 

                                               

                                              Reggie smiled and petted Spike as he listened.  It was good seeing Taz unwind and act genuinely happy.  Sometimes he feared that her cheerfulness was a mask, and that her constant need for adrenaline was an excuse to escape his boring, quiet little world outside St. Canard. 

                                              • Harmonizer
                                                Harmonizer

                                                Only the music could make her feel whole again, and she felt the insanity, darkness and fear ebb away, leaving behind a peaceful calmness, as she played on and on. She'd almost forgotten how that felt like. She really should have played it more often to help herself. 

                                                However, due to her constant fear of hurting anyone with her powers, and rightfully so, she would go cold turkey for months, holding out for as long as she could, and then, and only then, when she couldn't take it anymore, she'd take the instrument out to play. She saw it as some sort of drug, and she hated being dependant on it. 

                                                Thanks to Reggie, though, she felt free to play her harmonica again, and she'd been playing it quite often now, when she was alone with him, sometimes with his plants, and Spike. She'd almost forget, in those short moments of joy, how much pain her powers had brought her and people around her. She could sense how happy Reggie and the plants were, and she felt bursting with joy too. 

                                                Joy that flowed into her playing, making her music sound beautiful and uplifting. It was so overwhelming, she eventually had to stop, out of breath, but happy. 

                                                Anyone else who heard her music would have been killed in seconds... but the unaffected present would find their moods elevated and body energised. 

                                                "Any song requests?" she asked Reggie with a chuckle, not bothering to hide her look of gratitude. He always knew how to cheer her up... she really liked that about him. 

                                                • Launchpad McQuack
                                                  Launchpad McQuack

                                                  Reggie and the plants clapped their leaves when Harmonizer finished her song.

                                                  "The Rose?" Reggie asked, turning suddenly shy. "Anything you'd like is fine."

                                                  • Harmonizer
                                                    Harmonizer

                                                    Harmonizer flushed a little when her audience applauded, standing up from the flower chair to bow before sitting down again. 

                                                    It felt so good seeing them enjoying her music... 

                                                    She nodded with a grin when Reggie requested 'The Rose', though not fully understanding his shyness. "Ze Rose eet ees."

                                                    Placing the instrument on her bill once more, she played the romantic tune, letting the music flow through her once more. 

                                                    A few minutes, and it was over. She was slightly out of breath, but genuinely happy. She felt like she could do anything now. She'd try to set things right again. Apologise to her friend. Maybe even do more good deeds to clear her name. All she had to do was keep away from S.H.U.S.H.. Easy! 

                                                    Her friend really helped her figure it all out, and he even made her happy again. She could never thank him enough. 

                                                    She suddenly flung herself in a hug around Reggie. "Thank you," she whispered, before starting to pull away. Just then, a voice in the back of her mind told her to give him a little peck on the cheek. 

                                                    And that's exactly what she did. 

                                                    • Launchpad McQuack
                                                      Launchpad McQuack

                                                      Reggie clasped his hands as he enjoyed the short but beautiful melody, and the equally beautiful expression of pure happiness on his friend's face.  Happiness like that was rare and fragile like a flower, but just as bright and lovely.   He applauded again and thanked Harmonizer for playing for him when suddenly she was latched onto his neck. He gasped softly in surprise but he did not mind one bit.  He beamed and briefly returned the hug. 

                                                      "I'm happy you're happy." 

                                                      Cheesy, but true. 

                                                      The peck didn't register at first. Then his jaw fell slack. Did she-? Was that-? Did he really feel her beak on his cheek? That was- that was... Just incredible! His expression turned goofy and he practically sagged in her arms. 

                                                      Fortunately the awkward moment was broken, courtesy of one big, happy, slobbery flytrap.  Spike squeezed between the pair for some hugs and kisses of his own.  

                                                      Reggie came out of his reverie to wipe the acidic slobber off his cheek. "Eww, Spike. What a way to ruin the moment." 

                                                      Wiggle wiggle wiggle went the flytrap. His feelings weren't hurt. More hugs!