Simone teleports to Noah’s door and knocks at it, trying to hold her anger in check. Something odd is going on with everyone here; Tel was normally never that callous, especially not with a missing friend who’s been ripped from the world. Simone wonders what Miss Kitty’s cat was trying to tell them, or if he was just being an inscrutable cat. Her experiences with the species have been all over the place since coming to this dimension, so who knows? A minute passes with no answer, though she can hear that sound of a voice inside.
“Dammit, he’s probably got headphones on,” she mutters. A second later, she’s standing next to Noah as he lies half-sprawled on a bean bag, yelling at Mario Kart and, yep, with his headphones on. She taps one side of them and he jumps; fortunately, his car had just gone off the rainbow track into deep space, so nothing worse could happen to him there. It was up in the air what was going to happen to him in this world, possibly literally.
“AUGH! WHAT THE..Oh, uh, hi Simone. Why didn’t you knock?”
“I did. You were yelling at a racetrack and didn’t hear.”
“Uh, yeah. So…what’s up?” Noah takes a closer look at her face and puts down the controller. “Um, you look kind of pissed off.”
“Just a bit. Did you think it was funny to prank Donny while he was trying to research where Adnan went to?”
“Who? Oh, uh, Adnan! Yeah, c’mon, you didn’t think his stupid idea of moving statues was actually going to help, right? I just thought it’d be kind of funny…I was gonna tell him the truth when he got all excited about it, promise. It wasn’t actually hurting the search.”
Simone’s red eyes gain another level of rage at the look of him, still sprawled out, still glancing back at the TV screen, obviously caught in that gaming haze where nothing else seems nearly as important as the next chance to win.
“Do you have any fucking clue how Adnan got taken? Don’t bother answering; no, you don’t. We’re all guessing here, trying to gather information in bits and pieces. He could be dead, he could be trapped somewhere, he could be fucking running out of air to breathe as far as we know. So, here’s one thing you don’t do. MESS WITH ANYTHING, NO MATTER HOW DUMB YOU THINK IT IS, RELATED TO SAVING HIS LIFE.”
A final glance at the screen snaps her control, and the next second both of them are on top of the library, bracing against the chill winds that have been picking up all day. Noah stumbles for a second then crouches down, clutching his arms around his suddenly bare legs, his face turning bright red.
“Hey, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I promise! You didn’t need to leave my pants behind like that…look, get them back and I’ll go tell Donny right now, ok?”
For a second, Simone sees a double image: one of them both on the roof, another with them floating a mile in the air while she threatens him, bullies him, into capitulating. The second image, feeding into her rage, seems so tempting. But the memory of that act comes back to her with shame. You did that, and it didn’t feel so good, did it? You’re angry, but did you want to terrorize him? That’s the easy way, and it looks pretty ugly from here…
Simone draws a sharp breath inward, her anger first starting to leak away, then finding a new path. “Noah, that wasn’t me. What the hell?” She blinks back to his room and grabs the pants, then tries to return with them. They disappear from her hands as she rematerializes on the roof. “Someone pranked your pants to stay behind if you teleported. I can’t tell how, but maybe magic? Who else have you been pissing off lately?” She gestures to him and they both return to his room; Simone turns around until he finishes putting another pair of pants back on. Noah’s face stays red, though, and he mutters, almost to himself.
“I dunno. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, you know? I mean, yeah, that prank on Jeff with his power suit really pissed him off, and I guess it could’ve been really bad if something went wrong. I just like people to laugh, you know? I was always the class clown, and that’s why kids liked me. Used to like me.”
Simone blew out a breath of air, “I guess I can get that. But you’ve got to know when and how to do it. Teleporting Bobby’s underwear to the dorm roof, for example…”
“That wasn’t me, I swear! He keeps saying it is, but it isn’t! I didn’t put the giant statue of Devin in here, either…though that was a great prank.”
Simone gives him a hard look, sizing him up for a long minute. “Huh. I actually think you’re telling the truth about all that. Look, I get wanting people to like you, but this isn’t working. People don’t like what you’re doing. It’s coming across more as mean than funny, and people don’t usually like being the butts of jokes. And what’s going on with Adnan could literally be life and death.”
“What if I stop with the pranks during serious times? Only when it’s fun?”
“Do you know when that is?”
“Yeah. How about this. There’s a drama club here. I’m a part of it, and so are a bunch of people you want to maybe have not be pissed off at you. Why don’t you give it a shot for a month? You can take on the funny roles, and then people will laugh because you’re doing it all as part of a play, not in real life. How about that?”
“So, I’ll play pranks on the audience and the other actors, but it’ll be ok because it’s my character?”
“NO! I mean that you take on roles that are doing funny things according to the script, or what you agree to do with the other actors and the director. DO NOT ADD YOUR OWN PRANKS TO THE MIX. Trust me on this!”
Noah thinks for a while, going over how much things have been escalating without the happiness and attention he was hoping for. Well, there’s attention, but…
“Ok, Simone. I’ll try it. Maybe it can become the drama and comedy club, like the two masks, you know? And I’ll go tell Donny about the prank. It really wasn’t meant to hurt anyone. The pants things was actually pretty funny, so props to whoever did it; I think I’ll walk over there, though.”