Jackie had just gotten out of her last period for the day and was heading over to the music room to hopefully find the dweeb who has been messing with her desk. It wasn't too far away, but not too close that she didn't have time to call someone. She browsed through her phone to find juuust the person she was looking for: Aranea, or as she was saved on the phone, 'Fuzzball'.
"Heyyy Fuzzball! Guess what, I just sniffed out a rave that's happening tonight over in the beach. You heard that right. They've set up a cool little underwater dome for this one. You interested?"
She had started thinking about that academy she'd stumbled into, in the woods, and she started to remember things. Things that contradicted what she used to remember, about her childhood and her high school years. People she had forgotten entirely for a dozen years, who had been wiped off the face of reality. It was all coming back now. It was surreal.
Then her phone rang. She knew this voice. It took her a while to react.
How was she able to call her? Aranea had the same number as she did in 2007, true, but...
"That party hap - listen, where are you?"
Aranea's voice would sound different to Jackie. It was still definitely hers, but... different. Older.
"Me? Well I'm still in school, just slithering through the hall on the way to the music room. Someone's been messing with my stuff and Claire said I'd catch them today around this time. At least I think so. Oracles can be so vague. Why do you sound so surprised by the way, Fuzzball? And your voice... you sound like you could pass for a mother now. Been working on that, I see."
Oh no. Oh fuck. Her friends had been frozen in the Dork Crystal for 12 years. And she'd just forgotten about them. And lived her life.
Aranea was going to get really emotional about this later, but now wasn't the time.
After a few moments of silence, Aranea figured out what to say. "Jackie. I know this is going to sound crazy, but. Stop and look around you for a second. Is the building still all together? The last time I was there the academy looked like it was falling apart. I don't want the ceiling falling down on you."
Jackie was a little bit confused on what Aranea was talking about, and took a moment to look around.
"Yeah, it's still..."
She was still for a moment. Then a chuckle.
"Oh boy, I wonder whose going to get in trouble for this. Looks like the whole school's getting ready for Halloween. What the heck, it looks like one of the tree huggers lost control of their magic too... Wait a minute, did you drop by and didn't give me a call? "
"Ha, good one, Fuzzball."
The creak of the music room's door could be heard through the phone as Jackie reached her destination, followed by a shriek and the sound of claws scampering on the floor.
"Holy shit! Either I interrupted some shifters or some raccoons just... Oh wow this room is messed up," she deadpanned in surprise.
"They broke my desk!"
Jackie was so dense sometimes. It was one of the reasons why Aranea's flirting with her ultimately never went anywhere. "I'm not joking around. I went to that rave 12 years ago and it sucked because nobody fun was there. I never made jokes about stuff like this. Why would I joke about this?"
"Just... go look outside. There should still be people at DCA trying to sort this out."
"Alright, alright..." There was now a trace of worry on Jackie's voice. Aranea sounded a little too serious, and the room she was in did look tarnished beyond what frisky shifters could have done even if they had the whole day.
She went back to the hall to look outside and sure enough there was a ruckus. "So... 12 years, huh?"
"Yeah... I actually got a job as a scout like mama bear," she said. Her friends would have known the bear shifter Desna was one of her adoptive moms.
Aranea remembered it now - she used to wonder how many of her friends believed in her, when she said she wanted to be a scout for the island. Because she could kick ass, sure, but could she really make the grades? With her history of bad behavior, would anyone be willing put her out in the narrow unsupervised? It was hard to believe she could become responsible - or at least, that was how Aranea imagined her 12-years-younger self feeling about it.