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Protocol

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"Guys," Ansi said. "I think I've got skinned knees."

Olly craned his arm around at an awkward angle to give him a thumbs up. "Congrats. I think I've got a bruised belly button. Your turn, Saraline."

"I've got a bruised ego," Saraline said, with no inflection. "Also, I think I hurt my chin."

The trio continued onwards through the vent shaft. Ansi let his mind wander, though it wasn't really going all that far when every shift ultimately reminded him of the dull ache he was living with at the moment. Neither of the Timbers kids seemed inclined to complain of their own ouchies, so he decided against making too much of a fuss. Being pressed in like they were made him more than a little anxious, but it wasn't so bad with other people nearby- he could hear their breathing, and that kept him focused and decently put together.

Even still. Ansi couldn't help but wish they'd taken the easy route and gone on the elevator.

They tumbled out one by one, rolling in an attempt to preserve what little dignity they still had, and found themselves in the youngest member's room. Saraline stood and wiped herself free of dust. "Alright. That's done. And there's still a little time before we have to get up."

"Ugh," Olly said. "It's Saturday."

"Sunday," she corrected.

"Irrelevant. Why can't they just let us sleep in?"

Saraline shrugged. "It's not like they're aware of the fact that we've been out hunting mysteries all night." The young girl crawled onto her bed and sprawled out. "Alright, gentlemen. You know the protocol surrounding late nights."

"Protocol?" Ansi asked.

"I do?" Olly hmmed, then seemed to light up. "Oh, I do!" He took a running start and landed squarely on Saraline's legs, prompting her to grunt. "You really do have weird words for sib cuddles, sis."

"It's protocol, not cuddles," she said sourly. Saraline patted the space next to her. "Your turn, Ansi. Please don't crush my feet."

"Are you sure?"

"It's Team Timbers protocol, Ansi," Saraline replied. "We have a team sleepover after night missions."

"Yeah, Ansi," Olly added, smiling just a bit too wide to be perfectly safe. "Wouldn't wanna break protocol. Saraline might bewitch you."

"Don't be ridiculous, Olly. I would never waste my precious time bewitching someone."

Ansi squished himself onto the admittedly too small bed, his scrawny legs resting on the table at the end. Saraline curled closer to Olly, stuck her thumb in her mouth, and fell asleep almost instantly. Olly followed soonafter. Ansi, unused to such cramped quarters, shuffled a bit before ultimately finding himself pinned. But that wasn't bad either, just like the vent hadn't been bad. Olly's hand was in his face and Saraline's perpetually frizzy hair was sticking to his chin, and he thought everything might be okay for now.

For a brief moment, he forgot about his skinned knees, and that's when he slipped into slumber.