None of the four had expected Poppy Valley to be overrun with the faceless monsters as quickly as it was--though, to be fair, none of them expected it to happen in the first place. They were just lucky that they didn’t need to actually fight these things, that shining a flashlight would practically burn a (albeit temporary) hole through wherever the light hit, and eventually the creatures would retreat.
They didn’t know the strength of these things--hand-to-hand combat (which only Jaime and Luna were capable of) was risky, using shovels or crowbars as weapons was a hassle, but at least they could ward them away with the light. Well, ward them away long enough to get back to their clubrooms in the school, at least. Batteries didn’t last forever, after all.
“Patricia?” Katya had barely opened the door--the salt traps had been disabled for now, allowing the Conspiracy Research Club easy-access to Patricia’s room. “It’s me, just me.” She slid herself in, standing by the door with her hands clasped in front of her.
“Just you? That’s a surprise.”
“Jaime and Luna are still trying to break into the vending machine. With your shovel.”
“Yeah, makes sense.” She laid her head back against the wall--she had been sitting on the floor, on her makeshift bed, surrounded by various books. Books on the occult, on Poppy Valley’s history, notebooks--more notebooks (though, mostly small pocket ones) than Katya would have expected.
“You can always come spend time with us? Maybe we can help!”
“I’ve been studying them for a little longer than you guys.” Patricia raised her head to look at Katya again. Her gaze was focused--tired, devoid of real energy--but still focused. After watching her for a moment, she lowered her head back to her books. Her hair was a disheveled disaster, her eyes had dark circles under them, and it looked like she didn’t sleep properly for days, let alone last night.
Well, how could she sleep? Katya thought. It was a miracle that Katya and Luna slept as heavily as they did.
“Still, don’t you think it’s time for a break?” Katya inched closer; she tried to press any anxiety within her heart down, but stopped short of the edge of Patricia’s blankets. “Even if it’s just a little nap, or a few minutes with Midnight On--”
“We don’t have the luxury of taking breaks right now.” Her voice came out flat--be it from exhaustion, her own hyperfocused state of mind, or stress, her voice was… Cold. Distant. Emotionless. It made Katya uneasy.
Not uneasy enough to leave, though--not with Patricia about to run herself into the ground. Not with Patricia about to overwork herself, past the point of exhaustion--what if the school became compromised, what if they needed to run again? Jaime could carry her, maybe, depending on how far and how fast--no, that wouldn’t be good enough, that wouldn’t be safe enough. If someone--or some thing --got in their way--Jaime wouldn’t be able to fight them while carrying someone else.
Katya nudged the books aside on the blanket, to the edge, earning a sharp “Hey!” of protest from Patricia.
“Nope…!” She sat down next to her, taking the place of one composition book, and one book detailing the history of their bizarre town. “You’re taking a break, and I’m going to make sure of it.”
Patricia’s eyes narrowed at the other--she stared, long, and intensely, before sighing and letting her shoulders slowly drop. “You know what, fine.” She closed her eyes, and slowly leaned back against the wall she had been sleeping in front of. “I guess… I could use a small break.”
“Great! Midnight Online, or do you want to just rest?” Katya was relieved--she expected to be met with more retaliation, more aggression, than this. She slowly leaned against the wall next to her as she scooted just a bit closer.
Before Patricia could answer, though, Katya felt something warm brush the underside of her hand--she glanced down, and--
She had accidentally put her hand over Patricia’s.
Her face turned blood red, and she hesitated--uncertain if she should move it or not.
Unfortunately, impulse got the better of her, and she quickly moved her hand to her lap, pulling some of the fabric of her cape to clutch as tightly as possible.
“Are you okay?” Patricia raised an eyebrow at the other. She paused, averting her gaze, before she continued. “We can hold hands if you want.”
If Katya’s face could go a deeper shade of red, it would have. “Huh?” She clenched and unclenched the fabric of her cape--accidentally causing a few wrinkles in the process. “Wait, what--are you s--”
Before Katya could finish, Patricia--still avoiding looking directly at her, had put her hand back over Katya’s. “M-hm.” She slowly leaned over, laying her head against her shoulder; it was the easiest way to avoid looking at her, after all.
She slowly, almost hesitantly laced their fingers together--Katya’s head had slowly leaned against the top of Patricia’s--and she slowly, fully relaxed. She didn’t bother giving the books on the corner of her blanket pile even a courtesy glance.
It didn’t take long for Patricia to fall asleep--when she did, Katya reached over, finding the edge of the top blanket, and she pulled it over the two of them (with no regard for the books that slid off of it and into the floor… Patricia could always find her place in them later).