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CHAPTER ONE

Birm might have been the King of Assholery, but SirBookington wouldn't have him any other way. The sturdy teenager stood off to the side as his apprentice hacked, kicked, and pretty much annihilated the bots attacking him. While cursing up a storm the entire time.

"You're doing great!" SirBookington called out approvingly, cupping his gloved hands over his mouth so that Birm could hear him over the sounds of the frustration being released and vines snapping. Despite the fact he was blind, Book's acute connection with the string of energy painted a clear picture in his brain. In his mind, the world was a grid for him to manipulate as he pleased. Bookington couldn't see physical things, but he could feel with the probing strands of energy that were wrapped around every thing, living or not.

Take now for example. Book's blank gaze was covered with a simple blindfold, but the world around him was illuminated in an unearthly light of all colours, and yet no colour at all. There was Birm - the brightest of all objects, moving quickly about the stadium. Vines were following his every move, strangling the androids - also glowing, albeit at a lesser intensity. And if Book concentrated, the light would only intensify until the object moved as he commanded.

SirBookington was a telekinetic, you see. He was connected to the physical plane in a way few were, able to manipulate it as he pleased. For the most part, at least. As discovered latest week, grand pianos still proved to be a challenge.

"You think I don't know that?" Birm growled, stretching a hand out towards one of the approaching bots. The vines followed his move, shooting out from the seeds on the floor and impaling the android straight through it's metal skin. "Asshole."

Birm's powers were much simpler. He aligned with one of the many elements, plants. He only needed to think, and any nearby plant-life would go berserk. As a precaution, the thirteen year old carried around a pack of seeds at all times, in the chance the two were stranded in an area void of plant life.

Drawn back into the present at the sound of an insistent beeping, Sirbookington glanced down at the blaring alarm on his wristwatch. His lips pursed into a frown, and he blindly tapped at the screen until the damned machine shut down. "Hurry up, alright?" He called out to Birm, "We've got patrol in twenty."

Birm grunted. Which was about as much communication SirBook figured he would get out of the pale-skinned Roblohero at that moment in time. Not that Birm could be blamed - no one really liked patrol duty.

In RPF [Robloxian Protective Force] Tower, being saddled with Patrol was considered the worst of the duties. It consisted of boring hour after hour, walking the streets (You weren't even allowed to fly!) assisting the civilians with the needs. Many of which were dumb. And on the off hand that an something did happened - say a Roblovillain attempted to rob a bank - the off-duty heroes would be sent in. Patrol-ees were supposed to continue fetch cats from trees, unless a Code Red was flashed.

And in the five years since he had been taken in by RPF, SirBook couldn't dredge of a single memory Code Red. But since both SirBook and Birm were still rather young (Not to mention, Birm was still an apprentice) Patrol went to them. Whoop-dee-do.

With a sigh, Book left his apprentice in the simulation stadium, and trooped up the stairs in search of a shower.

-

On his long list of complaints [and trust me, there were quite a few] the one that topped the list every time was the uniform. You'd think that as a Roblohero, one would be able to choose their own name and wardrobe. But nope! Instead, Birm was labeled outright as The Grape King, and handed a wimpy, tight-ass suit that clung to his ribs. He had always considered his mentor lucky in that aspect. SirBookington was The Mad Hatter, and never left the tower without his personalized top hat, dapper kevlar-lined suit, and walking stick.

Birm, meanwhile, was stuck with a monstrosity. It was no easy ask, pulling on the diagonally striped skintight suit of violet and mulberry. Paired with the maroon overcoat, the stupidity only increased; who wore coats to their ankles?! But the worst part would have to be the crown. A legitimate artifact, the fucking thing was prone to falling off in the heat of battle. When Birm returned home empty-handed, the little shits up in records complained and it was HE who would have to scour the streets looking for the dingy gold prop. But at least the mask was a consolation - simple and purple. No design, no stupid stripes. Just purple. And with the gel-tech embedded within, it was also his most comfortable accessory.

The thirteen year old scowled at his reflection, and the gaunt boy in the mirror glared right back at him. Unlike SirBook, who was a good six inches taller, Birm was a measly five foot two, and had the muscle mass of lazy cat. Vivid green irises peeked out beneath shaggy bags, abnormal even by Roblohero standards.

The teenager absently fingered a strand of his red-purple hair. "It's getting too long," Birm told his reflection. "I should have buzzed it months ago." Complaining to his mirror was a standard routine in the life of Birm. After all, the mirror couldn't say anything back. The male's green orbs fell on the clippers resting off to the side of the sink. And even though he knew he didn't have the time for a haircut, Birm's pale hands reached for the tool on their own accord.

Chapter Text

SirBookington sat on the couch, his posture radiating nervousness. His blank gazed was focused intently on the door, just waiting for the entryway to slide open and reveal Birm. He chewed the bottom of his lip, nearly jumping out of his skin when someone came into the room. Joy overtook his features, thinking it was Birm.

"Er, Hey Book. Are you.. okay?”

Oh, not [i]Birm[/i]. It was Pruz, who stood before him, a ginger shapeshifter ranked highest among his type. Adept with mimicking the forms of both animals and humanoids, his base appearance was somewhat.. odd to say the least. The technical term given to Pruz was 'Masher - he could take a bit of horse, a pinch of komodo dragon - and wallah - you have.. something? Mashers could manipulate their forms as they pleased, unlike many shifters, who only had one or two forms. JeopardizedJake fell in this category, along with Gingerdeer.

Pruz himself looked like a bit of everything. If one’s eyes were drawn immediately to the bright [and I mean bright] orange hair, they might find themselves eyeing the yellow cat-like orbs, or wolf canines. Or the green webs attached to his cheeks. Others found themselves staring at the silver deer horns protruding from the boy’s forehead, or the shaggy fox tail attached to his tailbone. [Personally, Book liked Pruz’ wings the best - massive and feathery.] Regardless Pruz kicked ass in battle.

Or at least, he used to.

Bookington fell back onto the couch with a defeated sigh, crossing his arms over his chest. His face abruptly shut down, the goofy smile disappearing instantly. "Hey Pruz," he said, resisting the urge to face palm. "I'm fine - just waiting for Birm. He's been in his room for a while - we were supposed to leave for patrol ten minutes ago. You seen him?"

"Can't say I have," the orange-haired being shrugged. "It was just about to go.. out."

"Were you assigned a mission?" Book inquired, arching a dubious eyebrow. There was something about Pruz's tone that didn't sit well with him.

"No, actually.." Pruz laughed lamely, "I was going to look for... y'know. Her."

/Oh./ The dark-haired teenager bit his lip. "Pruz..-" he ventured forth hesitantly.

"I know! I know! It's just-" The sixteen year old's voice cracked. "I was just hoping, y'know?"

Book said, "It's been three months. You won't find Purring. You.. need to face the fact she just might be gone.”

Pruz turned away from the telekinetic, his felinistic gaze falling on the window. “You know I can’t do that,” he said quietly. “We were partners. If Birm suddenly disappeared, you would feel the same.”

PurringThunder and Pruz had been two peas in a pod, best friends to the very end. She was of the magic class - skilled with spellcast and creation. Her familiar was a grey cat dubbed Ego, who could grow and shrink at will.

But that changed when the Roblovillain, HelixCore attacked. A nefarious reader of minds, it had been Helixcore’s intention to bring down RPF, and everything it stood for. He infiltrated their ranks, masking himself as an energy elemental all the while collecting data on the members. His intention had been to expose the member’s true identity, thus marking them as targets for RPF’s opposition, OT, a Roblovillain terror cell.

The battle was Helixcore was chaos. He unleashed his power to the full extent, feeding off the negative energy in the city into order to overload his systems and implode - a desperate attempt to take the tower down in one fell swoop. The battle was one, but not without a price. PurringThunder and four others - two pairs of partners, Timpookie and Duck14, and Hwen4 and TaiWolf1234 perished that night. Four bodies were recovered - corpses that matched the records of the two pairs, but Purring was never found.

And even now Pruz hoped, holding onto the torch, the hope that Purring might someday return home. At least once a week he was caught sneaking out, and even though he never mentioned where he disappeared too, everyone in the tower had the same assumption.

Book hesitated. Pruz was right, and he knew it. If it had been Birm in Purring’s place, the brunet had no doubt he would be in Pruz’s place now, forever sneaking out in search of his partner. “Fine, you win this one,” he sighed, irritably carding his fingers through his spiky coffee-colored locks. “Just remembered we’re worried about you — RPF is. You should’t keep sneaking out..” An idea came to mind then. Birm wouldn’t like it, but then again Birm wasn’t here. If his thirteen-year old apprentice wanted to play hooky, then this was how SirBookington would repay him. “You know what, why don’t you come on patrol with us? You can look for her then.”

Pruz brightened up instantly, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out he was smiling. “Really?” He asked, traces of hope leaking into his tone. “Thanks, I might just take you up on that.”

“What?!” came the outraged cry from the doorway. SirBook’s head snapped towards the door, where his field of view was suddenly filled with a new figure glowing brightly. “Asshole, what the hell? Why did you invite him along without asking me?” Birm grumbled, before folding his arms over his chest. Mumbling something under his breath about his ‘dipshit’ mentor, he made it very clear he was displeased at this current moment in time.

But SirBookington wasn’t thinking about that. “You’re alright!” He exclaimed, as he jumped up from the couch. The brunet’s expression had turned to one of absolute glee. Birm didn’t have any time to react before he was tackled, pinned into a breath-stealing hug by the fifteen year old. Oblivious to the distress of his apprentice, Book went to rumple up Birm’s shaggy hair when he froze. “Your hair- you cut it?”

Where there was normally long wavy follicles was a buzz cut, short and bristly to the touch. Enamored, Book ran his fingers over Birm’s nearly bald plate, only to have his hand smacked away. “Dickbag, don’t touch me.” Birm grunted as he stalked out the door.

Nerves settled, and feeling much better now, Sirbookington chuckled quietly before following the thirteen year old, with Pruz close on his heels.

Chapter Text

And as predicted, patrol was rather boring. Birm sulked the entire way, while his mentor hummed and hawed, and Pruz chatted up a storm, reveling in his knowledge of what he liked to say were 'Purring's whereabouts'. Pruz was oblivious, but Birm sure wasn't. The ginger fool had misinterpreted Book's concern for a friend as interest in joining his cause, and so filled every moment of silence with a sentence of what he knew. /I wish he'd shut his big, fat mouth./ Birm growled silently, glaring at the animal humanoid with slits for eyes.

"Last month, there were sightings of her, Book. Sightings! I had three sources who said they say a thin brunette being dragged from the wreckage of the implosion."

"Mhm," came SirBookington's reply, as he pretended to be interested for the sake of Pruz. From Birm's perspective, his mentor looked off in his own world -- doing whatever in his big head.

But there was only so much talk he could take. It wasn't long before Birm felt his eyes grow heavy-lidded with boredom, and so with the senior RPF Robloheroes distracted, he wandered away, to escape the headache Pruz was providing him. "Shithead talks to much," he cursed, meandering around a small shop that sold small candies and energy drinks. The guy manning the counter - a dude in his late teams with spiky red hair, an equally bright shirt, and - were those scythes on his..? - headphones gave him a disapproving look as he did so. Ignoring him, Birm placed the candybar on the counter, and reached into the pocket of his overcoat for his wallet.

Which he had forgotten.

The day was just getting worse and worse. His lip curled in disgust as he replaced the contents of his basket back on the shelf, with the teen's chastising gaze burrowing into the back of his neck. Throughly pissed off, Birm's only wish was to break something - anything, and he might have thrown a right hook at the red-haired cashier if his eyes were drawn to the television behind him.

There was a figure on the screen, laughing maniacally. Around her, chaos reigned, as heavy objects appeared in the sky, falling down upon the street. The woman jumped from her perch, changing forms as she did so. When her feet touched the ground, she was human no more, but cat. Kinda. The grey creature certainly didn't look too much like a cat, which was all elegant muscle and grace. This.. thing was a monster, with bulging muscles, and a shaggy pelt that hung loosely on its - her - frame. Sabretooth teeth protruded from the creature's upper lip, and it's eyes glowed a brilliant yellow.

Birm could only watched as the cat-creature pounced on any nearby civilians, ripping them apart within the glint of an eye. He nearly lunged across the counter, throwing his small frame towards the remote. When the clueless cashier blocked his back, Birm spit out five words, his green eyes vivid with fury. "The sound! Turn it on!"

The Cashier - named Craxian, as his nametag demonstrated - finally caught his drift. Removing his headphones from his ears, the teen jabbed his thumb into the mute bottom. On-screen, the news reported rattled on.

"-there are reports of a new Roblovillain, dubbed Catstrophe, rampaging through the lower half of Robloxcity. But RPF has assured us there's no need to panic, as hero pair Lupus and Freefall have arrived on the scene." Birm was already running at this point, dashing for the last place he had spotted Sirbookington and Pruz. His brain was a mantra of confusion, as three words repeated themselves, over and over again. /It can't be./ She looked exactly like Purring.

Chapter Text

The trio headed for the Centre of the City. Ever since Birm had returned, uttering those impossible words, SirBookington had felt a numb sensation growing within his chest. "She's dead!" He had protested originally, as his apprentice glared at him with undisguised contempt while Pruz looked on, the mirror image of a brainless undead.

"Is that so?" Birm had sneered, getting right up in Sirbook's space. "Then, why the fuck. Is Purring. Terrorizing downtown?"

"It's not her," Sirbook continued to protest stubbornly. "It can't be! That's impossible!"

"Robloheroes are impossible, fuckhead, and yet here we are," had been Birm's rebuttal.

"We're almost there!" Pruz cried out, pointing ahead. The landscape had changed rapidly, sliding from middle-sized residential holmes to ruined storefronts and other businesses. Many of which were on fire.

"Wait, Pruz!" Book called out after his friend, as the masher had suddenly shifted and took to the air. The brunet was tempted to follow, had he had not heard the nearby cry of an injured citizen. Following the sound, he stumbled upon a girl of twelve, half-buried beneath a chunk of rubble. Focusing his powers, the male glared at the chunk of concrete, before slowly raising his hands in the air. The slab shuddered once, twice, but made no move to rise. Gritting his teeth, he tried again, with the same result. "Birm.. help me here!" Book gasped out, already tiring from the strain being inflicted on him.

Following his command silently - Oh, so they weren't talking now? - Birm ripped open one of the packages of seeds, and tossed them to the ground. Vines burst from the pavement, growing thick as they mimicked Birm's arm movements. Together, with his apprentice creating a faux hand of sorts, and Bookington acting as support, the duo managed to move the piece of concrete enough so that the girl could drag herself out.

Her legs were in bad shape, crushed beyond repair. Book turned away upon spotting the gleaming shards of bone dotting the crimson landscape. His stomach was in turmoil, and the fifteen year old had to fight with himself in order to keep his lunch down. The girl was obviously in a lot of pain, and without help, Book doubted much could be done. Regardless, he picked her up by her waist, and carried her - as carefully as he could manage - towards the relief clinic that was a few blocks away, with Birm following sullenly. In the opposite direction.

The entire ordeal took nearly fifteen minutes, precious moments Book knew he didn't have time to waste. Far ahead, the teenager could hear the sounds of battle - minuscule explosions, some screaming. "RPF will take her down," the brunet vowed aloud, more to reassure himself than anything. Birm still wasn't talking to him, as much as Book wished otherwise.

Chapter Text

But it seemed as if things were not going to plan. At last - and far too late - the duo arrived on the scene of the battlefield, the very centre of Robloxcity. Book's first reaction was to retch - and he did, heaving his guts into the dirt - at the sight stretched out before him. Birm was soon to follow, collapsing in the rubble besides his mentor.

In front of them was a corpse. And one they knew quite well. The massive wolf laid on it's side, brown furred matted with blood. But the worst part was the beast's skull - bashed in, repeadtedly, with a hunk of rock. Red eyes stared sightlessly into the sky, flies already crawling across their ocular surfaces. It was the sight of the brains that had sent Book over the edge, splattered over the grown like a canvas of pink and grey. /Lupus, no JeopardizedJake is no more./ Book thought somberly, as he wiped the spittle off the sides of his lips.

Pawzkat had been killed just a few feet from her partner, her neck twisted at an unnatural angle. The flyer's last moments were clearly spent in agony, if the grimace on her features was any indication. The brunet's hand was outstretched, reaching for the partner who had her back so many times before.

Other bodies were strewn across the smoking expanse of times square, a few he recognized, many disfigured beyond recognition. His comrades, his friends.. they were all here. Marc1227, Perambulation.. they were all here. Lain atop the landscape without honour, or feeling, many ripped senselessly to shreds. There was Benzo's sword, snapped in two as if it was no more than a toothpick. But what stung the worst was the bloodied wing that lay upon the ground, as if ripped from the very back of the Bird Queen.

Sirbook would have slumped to the ground if he didn't find an arm suddenly slung around his waist. His hollow eyes found Birm - who looked about the same, and yet somehow had the strength to hold him up. "Get off your ass, Shithead. We have a villain to defeat." He growled.

"R-right!" replied the telekinetic, on the verge of hysterics. Together, the two dove into the smoky, Book still leaning on the shoulder of his apprentice. The made their way through the chaos of dust and grime, drawn towards the horrific growls ahead. Bursting out into the open, the first thing Sirbookington's weary eyes found was Pruz, standing defiant and tall not twenty feet for him. He was injured - blood was gushing from a scrape over his eyebrow, but he was fine otherwise.

And his opponent, there was no doubting who she was. No matter how skeletal, how gaunt she looked, there was no mistaking the fact of PurringThunder. But she lacked the essence of the girl he knew - her pupils were dead, soulless things. They weren't her own. With an animalistic growl, Purring launched herself at the ginger 'masher, her fists crackling with energy.

 

-

Pruz's first instinct was to take to the sky. And so he did, slipping into the skin of a dragon as if it was second nature. The orange-scaled creature circled the skies, his expression unreadable. Frustrated, the magic-user launched a white fireball at the winged creature, "Coward!" She bellowed out, in a voice that was so like her own, and yet lacked depth.

On the defense, Pruz wasn't about to attack without a plan. Here was the person he had desperately spent his months searching for - the other half he knew without doubt was alive. And she was trying to kill him. /It's not Purring!/ His soul insisted. But as every moment passed he only had more and more time to compare this raging brunet to his friend. Brown eyes that shimmered with intensity, a pale face, broken by spite and yet so familiar.

/The good days, where have they gone?/ His heart ached for the friendship that was clearly no more, for the hero that had since become a monster. And he couldn't do it, couldn't raise a claw to attack in reply.

On the ground beneath him, Pruz caught sight of his friends going on the offense. Birm ripped open multiple packets and tossed them to the barren ground, vines bursting up in their wake. Smaller blocks of cemet and pavement were flying above Book and one at a time he directed them towards the villain with an outstretched hand.

Not that it did much as Purringthunder - no, Catastrophe, would simply flick her fingers and the blocks would be spent spinning back towards the brunet. Eyes shimmering with energy, she directed her attention towards Pruz, and he suddenly found that he couldn't move - frozen in place by the strange the magic-user wielded.

Time slowed down in the next instant. It occurred then, to Pruz, for the first time that morning that he would die today. He had been able to ignore the nagging feeling in the heat of battle, in the exhilaration of finding what was once lost. But Purring was no longer who she once was. Her power had tripled, the veterans of RPF were gone - probably killed, and he was alone in the sky, unable to even beat his wings to stay aloft.

Book and Birm were struggling, meanwhile Catastrophe looked as if she was taking a morning soul. Her hair was immaculate, not a string out of place, and there wasn't a bead of sweat on her. And Pruz couldn't even lift a finger to help. Part of his brain begged him to fight, to move! To intercept, fly the mentor and his apprentice to safety. Anything. But his body failed him.

He couldn't even cry as he began to fall.

Chapter Text

The battle wasn't going great, but it could have been worse. Through the dust, Book could see the glowing figure of Benzo in his enchanted armour. The man was leading a small crowd of civilians through the ruin, slicing through any projectiles that threatened to stray too close. Besides him was his partner, LNG. The Roblohero was using his heat vision to take pot shots at the villainness, read beams of energy flying from his bat-like glasses.

Pick was flying high above the city, flanked by two forms who Book guessed to be her clones. The brunet not only had the ability to fly, and speak with birds, but she could duplicate herself. They were really nice woman, TheDeadDemon and Budgiekin. And then there was Gingerdeer - Pick's deer-shifting partner on the ground, carrying any injured civilians the two pair happened to stumble across.

A couple of Robloxheroes were attacking the villainess, Catstrophe directly. There was Timpookie, landing blows directly. His partner as a distraction, snow blasting from Coriandr's open palms in an attempt to blind her. Pawzkat and JeopardizedJake were also on the offense, as Pawz repeatedly bowled into Catstrophe while Jake faced her in his wolf form.

All of RPF's members were contributing. Well, almost all of them, that is. As SirBook rushed towards the battle, he caught sight of one particular pair hashing it out on the best way to save the civilians. Rock and Mega were infamous for never getting anything done, so he let them be. The battle was critical, and the spiky-haired boy didn't have time to waste on setting them straight. That was Lego's job.

Raising his palms, he focused his attention on a nearby cinder block. The rectangular object glowed brightly as he sent it whirling towards Catstrophe, the girl had shifted back to her feline form, in a valiant attempt to defend herself from the onslaught happening on all sides. She changed forms constantly, moving from magic-using Robloxian to sabretooth tigre to human again. And as she did so, Book noticed something unusual.

"Birm, did you see that!" He hissed excitingly, after throwing another cinderblock with his mind. His apprentice was using his vine abilities to keep a nearby building from crumblings.

"Dipshit, I'm focused on this building," he grunted, seemingly return to communicating through insults.

"Catstrophe - watch when she changes her form!" Book replied, his voice the epitome of excitement. Grudgingly, Birm turned towards the battle, a skeptical eyebrow raised.

His green ocular organs zeroed in on Catstrophe, as she turned towards the large wolf, hissing and spitting. She looked up as a figure sped by - a flying Pawz - and threw herself out of the way, landing on top of a pile of crushed storefront.

But what intrigued Birm the most was what happened in the midsts of the transformation. As Catstrophe's figure stretched, there was a moment in which her body stretched two different ways. He couldn't be sure, but it looked as if something was attempting to escape - a woman lurching one way, and a cat another.

"Oh my god," Book whispered as the realization dawned. His harried gaze fell on Birm, who seemed to be arriving at a similar conclusion. ".. someone forcibly mashed Purring, and Ego together." Ego, her familiar. The image Sirbook dredged of was of a cute grey kitten who Purring had summoned early on. The feline could suppress and boost magic. Someone had done this.. to Purring, forcibly mashing her together with her cat. They were stuck together. But the connection was visible, and therefore it could be severed. At least, that was what Book reasoned.

He'd heard of similar things in the past, of a shady scientist whose intent was discovering the source of the empowered, a year back. A former employee of RPF, he worked among the others within the tower to further their technology. But this man had also worked underground, performing experiments of a horrific caliber. Mainly, pouring research into Mashers and their abilities, in an attempt to find a way to mash together two living things. But unlike a Masher's innate gifts, the results weren't natural. Almost always, those involved with the deal died, or went insane. The brain couldn't handle the pressure and overloaded, their bodies deteriorating.

Eventually his little experiments were discovered, and the scientist, Soardlo, was forced onto the run. He escaped with his research, and despite the tower's best attempts, he was never caught by the Veterans. Mentioning his name was destined to launch the older Robloheroes into a tizzy of whispers. Book had been around the age of Soardlo, and though he didn't know the smooth-talking Robloxian on a personal level, the teenager was aware of his experiments.

And this seemed exactly like something he would do.

"If we could somehow.. pull them apart, do you think this hell would be over?" He asked hesitantly, turning towards Birm.

Birm sneered. "How the hell should I know?"

"It's better than nothing."

It was, truly. But at what cost? Birm looked torn - he clearly didn't want to approach the monstrous stranger he had formerly labeled a friend. But no other solution was supplying itself at this moment in time, so he folded. "Alright, jackass. What do you want me to do?"

"You'll need more vines.. lots more."

-

The thirteen year old crept closer to the waging battle, his green eyes focused on their target. Ripping open a pouch of tomatoes, he tossed the seeds to the ground in front of him. The tan kernels took their sweet time with burying into the soil before Birm activated his connection and vines grew from this. Throwing his arms out in front of him, the vines shot out in front of him, snaking for the villain. Book had gone to drop his investigation clues to the others, namely the pairs battling Catstrophe on the front lines. The foursome renewed their attacks, not focusing more on distraction then actually hitting her.

And it was working rather successfully, if Birm did say so himself. The fucktards attacking her were actually coordinated for once.

Catstrophe lobbed a crackling ball of white energy at Pawz, who barreled rolled to the side in order to avoid the attack. As she did so, the large form of Jake ran into her, crashing into her side. Shifting into a tigre to combat this, the villainess suddenly found herself blasted in the fast by Coriandr, twin jets of snow shooting from his palms. Momentarily blinded, she didn't notice the shadowy form of Tim take shape behind her, not until his blessed blade sunk into her hindquarters.

Hissing in pain, Catstrophe began to change forms, and as she did so, Birm lunged forward. It was time to do his part. Purring's molecules began to break apart, a young woman emerging from the shell of a cat. His vines wrapped around her shoulders. On the other side, his green eyes caught sight of Book - whose irises were burning into the girl. They only had seconds, moments to latch onto the blip in her shapeshifting and pull apart the two forms. Failure was not an option, for no doubt the Catstrophe - or whoever was in her head, Soard - would likely catch on an order a retreat.

With a grunt, Birm made a fist with his right arm, before pulling his clenched hand back as if he was readying to throw a baseball. The apprentice put his might into the move, the task of pulling Purring and her warped familiar tight. Time seemed to slow down as the agonizing moments passed with no give.

And then he felt it, a sudden release of pressure. A loud 'POP' sounded in it's wake, and in the next moment the purple-haired Roblohero found himself starting up at the sky, the world swimming around him. He closed his eyes in an attempt to drive out the sudden noise filling his head, smashing his hands over his ears. It wasn't until gentle hands guided him to a sitting position that Birm cracked open his encrusted eyelids. There was Sirbookington kneeling in front of him, excitement leaking from his pores.

"We did it, Birm!" His mentor was shouting, encroaching far too much personal space for Birm's likely. "Purring - she's.. she's alive!"

"Will she be-" he started to say, only to discover his lips were suddenly occupied by something else. Or rather, someone else.

Chapter Text

A week later, and the RPF tower sill hadn't regained a sense of normality. There was work to be done, of course, namely paperwork. While no information had been officially divulged from Purring, whose memories were a foggy mess, she was able to confirm that her transformation was the work of Soardlo. Pruz refused to leave Purring's side for the duration of that time, and Birm couldn't blame him. He, on the other hand, made every attempt he could to avoid Sirbook's forlorn face.

Training sessions? Skip.

Time to eat? Meals in room, please.

The Excitement - for that was what Birm had decided to label that moment as, one of excitement and goodwill, had continued to confuse him. His nights were spent sleepless, as the thirteen year old laid in bed with one question in mind; why?

He didn't even have the muse to utter a singular insult. When his bumped shoulders with Tim in the hallway, the thirteen year had only been able to mutter a defeated "Sorry" before hurrying on. His entire world felt as if it all was unraveling, all because he had been shaken up at the roots.

And after a week of avoiding his problems, Birm went to Purring. She was still laid up in the hospital, spending her days in bed while Pruz fretted over her almost every waking moment.

Arriving in the medical bay awkwardly holding a bouquet of posies, the purple-haired teenager knocked lightly on the door to Purring's room. "Come in!" She called out, voice hoarse. Pushing back the gurgling feeling in his gut, Birm stepped into the room.

"Hey.. Purring," he greeted the girl, setting the flowers on the plastic table set up besides her bed. The top was decorated with cards - mostly from RPF, and even a few hasty drawings, courtesy of the more artistic members of the towers. Birm nearly smiled when he saw the card from Book, which probably hosted a long, apologetic note for pretty much ripping her in two back when she had been Catstrophe. His eyes cut towards Pruz, who was sitting in the rickety plastic chair in one of the corners. "I was hoping we could talk."

Purring, catching his drift, nodded at Pruz. "Hey, you should go down to the cafeteria."

"But Purring, I-"

"You need a break, Pruz. Don't worry about me."

Defeated, the masher got up from his seat, and after nodding at his partner, left the room, pulling the door shut tight behind him. Shutting the novel she was reading, Purring marked the page, and set the book down on the night stand behind her hospital bed. "Soo, what did you want to chat about?"

"Er, it's about Book," Birm said.

Purring quirked an eyebrow. "What about him?"

"The little shit.." Birm looked away, his gaze falling to the ground. "Might of kissed me?" He didn't need to look up to hear her gasp, sheets falling away as the girl straightened her spine.

"And?" Purring inquired, a cat-like smile lighting up her lips. He had a feeling her prodding was of the curious kind, and went on the defensive.

"And what? That's all!" He protested, his face instantly heating up. What did she expect him to say - one kiss and suddenly he was having hot, passionate sex under the stars?! He was only thirteen, after all.

She chuckled, "What happened next?"

"Nothing did. I've been avoiding him all week." It suddenly occurred to Birm that perhaps seeking advice from Purring wasn't the best option after all.

"Whaaaaat?" came the brunet's outraged cry. "You can't do that. You have to tell him how you feel!"

The purple-haired vine-wielder was absolutely mortified. He threw an arm over his face to hide his blushing features, but to no avail. "I-I don't feel anything for him," Birm protested, clearly flustered.

Purring smiled, between sinking back into the sheets. "If that were the case, you wouldn't be blushing. You look like a smitten kitten to me."

"That is not true.. you.. you asscat!" With a huff, Birm stood up, before stalking out the door.

"I ship it!" was the Robloxheroe's response.

"I regret bringing you flowers!" He called snidely over his shoulder, nearly knocking into Pruz in the process of escaping. First the kiss, and now Purring approved of a relationship? This was so not turning out to be a good day.

-

SirBook laid back on the roof, sighing dramatically as the sun sank lower on the horizon. For the past week, watching the ball of fire do so had become almost daily routine. Despite his best attempts to intercept Birm - and he did try - his apprentice continued to evade him. Birm couldn't avoid him forever, they were partners, after all, but he was doing a damn good job currently.

Turning his head towards the roof when the door suddenly swung open, Book opened his mouth to greet the figure glowing softly within his peripherals when the humanoid suddenly backed out the door with a sound. Book jumped up from his spot, hand desperately reaching out to grab onto the tail of the figure's coat. Only one person would act like this, and there was no doubt who was standing here before him right now. Birm.

"Let go of me, asshole!" Birm cried out, swatting at the hand buried within the folds of his coat. He scowled down at Sirbookington, only to have the expression wiped from his features as he noted the desperation filling the face of his elder.

"Please, we need to talk," Book said quietly.

Birm was silent. The atmosphere grew painfully awkward as he struggled to form the words with his lips. "..alright."

Gesturing to the flat space, Bookington inched back over to the space he had previously occupied, and patted the spot right next to him for Birm to sit down upon. He smiled to himself, hearing his apprentice sigh in a defeated manner before plopping down right next to him. Birm held his tongue, clearly waiting for Book to talk.

The brunet stalled, clearly not ready to get on with it. But he had too, it was a nasty. "Look.. I like you, alright? Always have, ever since you were assigned to me as an apprentice. I thought.. I thought.." he broke off, before shrugging. "That I could push back the feelings, maybe even hide them."

"That's stupid," Birm cut in, his voice devoid of emotion. "Dipshit. You realize that I was first going to be your apprentice, and then your partner? Shit doesn't work like that."

Book nodded - clearly, it had occurred to him. He looked miserably, with his hallow cheeks and chapped lips. "I know.. I thought I would get over it. And then, turning the battle I was so relieved that I just uh, y'know, decided to throw away my inhibitions and go for the kill. You were alive, you were safe. I was relieved, and just so, so overjoyed that you weren't injured or dead." After practically pouring his heart out, the Roblohero sat back, waiting for the impending rejection.

"That was the most lameass kiss I've ever experienced," Birm retorted. "Our comrades were literally dying around us and you just decided to fuck all and go for it? There's better times, you know."

"Like when?" replied the fifteen year old, generally curious at how this conversation would turn out. It was certainly headed an unexpected direction. Here he had expected Birm to run away in terror, to scream insults, and to ultimately reject his tender heart.

"Like now."

And that was how, on the roof of the RPF tower bathed in the sun's fading light, SirBookinton received his second kiss.