"Falner, are you okay?" My dad asked. I nodded slightly, my jaw nearly on the floor.
"Actually, Dad, I'm great-!" I got cut off by his hand on my shoulder.
"I'm glad. Because you're grounded. You're going to see some serious changes, young lady, starting..." He trailed off after I started laughing. "What?" He asked, furrowing his brow. I gestured to his outfit: a Deadpool t-shirt, Deadpool hoodie, and - for the first time in literal years - a pair of jeans.
"Dad! You're wearing pants!" I said. He shrugged.
"Don't look so surprised. I'm your father. And I wear the pants around here! Now let's get down to business," he said, sitting down on the chair at my bedside. "Who's this Christine person, and why did I have to hear about her from him?" He asked, jabbing his thumb at Eli, who gave me a shrug and a smile. I shook my head.
"It doesn't matter. After what I did, I'm lucky if she wants to go to the same school as me." I said. Eli and my dad looked at each other like they shared an inside joke. I felt my face heat up slightly. "What?" I asked. Eli looked at me, smiling.
"It's amazing. She still knows nothing about girls." My dad laughed. "You gotta but her a rose and compliment her on her clothes." He said.
"Say you appreciate that she's smart!" Eli added, walking over to Dallas's side. Dallas smiled up at him and received an awkward smile back.
"No, man, you tell her that she exciteth you thexually!" He lisped. I couldn't help but laugh. My dad, Eli, and Dallas then spoke in unison.
"And that's the way you get to her heart! Trust me, I know how it's gonna go. Listen and oh-!" Eli whacked Dallas's chest, almost out of habit, and I couldn't believe the scream that came out of his mouth. Eli looked panicked as Dallas shrank back down onto the bed, whimpering in pain, but clutching his hand. I gave them a smile.
"And there are voices in my ear. I guess these never disappear. I'll let 'em squeal, and I will deal and make up my own mind," I gave them a slight shrug. "Might still have voices in my head, but now they're just the normal kind. Voices in my head, but now they're the normal kind!"
(Timeskip brought to you by...uh...SHIPPING!)
I walked into school, clutching my purple and blue backpack like it was my life. I noticed Christine sitting on the windowsill, looking out at the houses. Before I could even process what was going on, Rose, Hope, Tempest, and Jade had backed me into a corner. "Heyyy guys... About what happened-" I started to say but was cut off by Jade getting into my face.
"We've been looking for you, punk," He said, then backed up a bit and gave me a grin. "To say, good luck asking out Christine!"
"Seriously, how does everyone know about that?!" I asked. Tempest laughed, slinging an arm around me.
"It's crazy, but ever since we all did ecstasy at the school play, I've felt really connected to you guys," She giggled, then gestured to Rose. "You tell her, Rose!" Rose looked surprised, and I couldn't blame her. I've never heard Tempest sound that caring and supportive. Rose took a deep breath, exhaled, then smiled at me.
"Make her feel welcomed and seen!" She chirped, taking my hands in hers. I blushed slightly.
"Don't dump her on Halloween," Tempest commented, giving Jade a not-so-subtle side-eye. Hope squeezed my cheek with her hand.
"Embrace the traits that make you so odd!" She said reassuringly. I flushed, looking at the ground. Jade took my chin in his hands and made me look up at his smiling face.
"I'll throw you a rope, homeslice if you need some dope advice." He said, squeezing my shoulder with his free hand. Hope grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the corner, the entire group giving me a push forward towards where Christine was sitting and speaking in unison.
"We got your back 'cause we are your squad! Buddy, you'll see. It'll go perfectly, if you listen to me, me, me!" I gave them a smile.
"And there are voices all around. And you can never mute that sound. They scream and shout, I tune them out and make up my own mind. Might still have voices in my head, but now they're the normal kind. Voices in my head, but now they're the normal kind." I murmured the last few words and walked over to Christine. Her eyes brightened slightly when she saw me.
"Hey. So, um-!" I started, but she cut me off.
"I still remember how it felt." Her voice was soft. I raised my eyebrow.
"What?" She looked at the ground, then back up at me.
"It was like you said. Like I'd never have to...not know...anything again. Who did yours look like?" She asked. I felt my face heating up again.
"Jason Tam. Yours?" I asked. She let out a light laugh.
"Sutton Foster. It's embarrassing..." She trailed off.
"Actually, that one's pretty good," I noted. She laughed again, shaking her head.
"No, silly. It's embarrassing to find out that deep down, I just want things to be easy." She said. I laughed as well, embarrassed myself.
"Yeah, but...who wants things to be hard?" I wondered, then looked at her. "Look, I ruined the play. I almost destroyed the school, maybe all of human civilization. I know the last thing I deserve is another shot. But I... Uh..." My stammering was cut off by her placing her hand on mine.
"Just say what's on your mind, Falner." She said softly. I swallowed thickly, but couldn't seem to get the words out. She gave me a reassuring smile and took my hands in hers.
"Bowling alley performance art? Just...just the two of us?" I managed to get it out. She looked surprised. "How'd you know I've wanted to do that?" She asked. I tapped my head in a wordless gesture, and her eyes sparkled with nervousness.
"And any voices in our heads?" She asked. I shook my head, taking her hands in mine.
"There might be voices in our heads. But I swear, the voices there? They'll be the regular kind." I promised. She looked at me, and the smile from before returned.
"Me and the voices in my head have made up our collective mind." She said. I tilted my head.
"What do they say we should do?" I asked.
"I think that all of us want to go out with you." She practically whispered the words out, smiling. I blushed, pulling her into a hug. "Woo-hoo!" I cheered.
"Guess we're all a squad now," Tempest noted, hurrying over and hugging me, Jade hot on her heels. Christine, Hope, and Rose made excited sounds, joining in the hug.
"A Squip Squad!" Rose chirped. I burst out laughing but didn't try and pull out of the group hug.
"Squip Squad, where you at?!" I giggled, throwing my fist into the air. The entire group did the same thing, cheering and laughing.
"And there are voices in my head! So many voices in my head! And they can yell and hurt like Hell, but I know I'll be fine!" We all shouted in unison.
"I still have voices in my head, yeah there are voices in my head. But of the voices in my head, the loudest one is mine!" I said confidently. Suddenly, I felt a prickling sensation at the base of my spine. I pulled out of the group and clutched my head. Everyone looked worried.
I went white. Christine hurried over and pulled me into her arms.
"Falner?" Her voice was soft and concerned, a contrast to the almost demonic voice that had spoken my name. I was shaking but managed to keep my voice firm.
"The loudest one is mine," I whispered.
"YoU'lL nEvEr GeT rId Of Me."
I felt close to tears at this point. I just wanted things to go back to semi-normal.
"Get out of my head."
I sounded like I was either going to cry or scream at the top of my lungs. Christine seemed to notice what was going on. She cupped my face in her hands.
"It's okay, Falner. It's okay. You're in charge. You're the one in control here. You're safe." She whispered. I gave her a small, scared smile, then spoke with more conviction.
"The loudest one is mine."
I could hear my Squip take a hitched breath.
He was pleading with me.
He was genuinely pleading with me.
After everything he had done, good and bad, he wanted me to take him back.
I looked at Christine, then at my small, worried group of friends. Dallas and Eli were holding hands. Hope and Rose were holding hands. Tempest and Jade were holding hands. Everyone looked concerned for me. I then looked back at Christine, who smiled sweetly at me.
"Listen to your heart." She whispered.
My heart was conflicted. I wanted him back, but at the same time, he had taken control of my friends, taken control of me, and ruined my friendship with Eli to the point of almost losing him forever. Part of me didn't want to forgive him, but the rest of me had made its choice.
"I believe in second chances," I whispered, "and I shall give you one last chance." My voice turned from a whisper to a determined tone. "But know this: you try any of that shit from before, and I won't hesitate to kill you again." The Squip was silent for a moment before he spoke again.
"I rEmAiN, fAlNeR gReYsOn, YoUr ObEdIeNt SeRvAnT."
I raised an eyebrow. "...That was a Phantom reference. You son of a bitch," I said, and I couldn't help but smile. Christine gasped.
"He made a Phantom reference? Oh, Falner, you have to take him back!" She giggled. "He is clearly cultured!"
"He's a supercomputer, Chris." I reminded her. She scoffed and waved her hand.
"Well, he's still cultured!" I shook my head and laughed slightly.
"Fine. He gets a second chance."
I heard him speak softer than before. He then went silent, and I could only assume he had shut himself down for the time being, presumably until I drank green Mountain Dew. Christine smiled up at me.
"You ready?" She asked. I nodded.
Everyone ran out of the school building, arm in arm with their significant other at this point.
Eli was carrying Dallas, Jade was carrying Tempest, and Hope was carrying Rose.
I looked at Christine, smiled, and suddenly squeaked in surprise as she picked me up and carried me outside, then pressed a kiss to my lips.