"It's not working!" he shouted at Pinkie.
"Well, don't look at me! It's your book."
"Can YOU see anything?" He asked, holding the open book up to her.
She looked at it, and he thought he saw something flash in her eyes, but then it was gone almost as soon as he'd spied it. "No," she said.
"Well, maybe if I turn some pages -" but he stopped. Words were forming on the page. He'd never seen The book print anything actually readable before! He watched with intense curiosity as they swirled slowly across the page. When they had finished, Pepper read aloud, "The Will of the Princess."
He looked up at Pinkie. "Any idea what THAT means?"
"Not really," she said. "Sounds like the name of a story or something, but I've never heard of it."
Pepper shoved The book in her hands. "Here, you find your part," he said.
"It doesn't work that way," Pinkie protested. "Every time you've read the book with someone, you've been holding it when they read their part."
"Okay," Pepper said reluctantly, taking The book back from her. "Tell me when you see something." He propped The book up on his knee so she could see it, and began turning pages.
Flip. Flip. Flip.
More flipping. Ten or so more pages.
He sighed and continued turning pages, occasionally stopping to ask if she saw anything. When they'd made it through the entire book and failed to find anything Pinkie could read from it, Pepper closed it and set it on the floor next to him. He couldn't think of a time he'd been more disappointed.
"What a waste of time," he sighed.
"I'm telling you," Pinkie said in her favorite bossy tone of voice, "You probably can't read anything new when you're still working on the last thing you read."
"Then how come I could see my part?" Pepper asked.
"Maybe you're not supposed to read it with me," said Pinkie.
"Tell me how your mother got lost," Pepper said.
"What?" Pinkie said, alarmed.
He hadn't meant to just blurt it out like that, but he'd finally figured out what he'd most like to know about Pinkie, and if The book wasn't going to tell him, he thought he'd at least try getting some information out of her.
"I want to know. What happened to your mother?"
Pinkie sat silently. It was a silence Pepper had grown accustomed to. As the minutes ticked by, he figured he would yet again learn nothing from Pinkie whatsoever. He began to get up, intending to go back to the elevator. But then, without warning, Pinkie opened her mouth and began to speak.
"She was very sick," she said.
Pepper slowly sat back down, listening intently, fascinated.
"My father and I... we did everything we could. But it was one of those classic cases of 'I'm sorry, Mr. so and so, there's nothing we can do.' We were supposed to just watch her die." Her face was completely blank. She was telling the story with absolutely no emotion. Pepper wondered if she had to drain herself of emotion to be able to tell it at all.
"So I brought her here... it was a last ditch effort. There are... there's a group of healers, they don't come cheap. But it was my last hope. Medicine had failed her, therapy had failed her, even my father failed her. I didn't want to.
"I left her over night with the healers, of course I didn't get a wink of sleep. When I came back... she was gone. Missing. They didn't know what happened to her. I couldn't get a straight answer out of any of them. They said that the healing process had gone smoothly, as far as they could tell, they just had no idea where she was.
"Everyone helped me look for her. Huge search parties scoured every square inch of the Dune, but it was no good. She had completely disappeared. That was a little over a year ago, and I still haven't found her. I come back here as much as I can, looking, hoping to find one place we forgot to check, some nook or cranny we missed. But in the end, I just end up disappointed, and broken hearted."
Pepper sat silently, not daring to move, or even breathe. He'd never heard Pinkie say so much about herself before.
"So now you know," she finished. Not a moment later, her face crumpled and she let out a horrible sob, collapsing into tears. It was as if all of her emotions came flooding back at the same time and hit her all at once.
Being in the same room with such misery, it almost made Pepper cry himself. He wanted to do something for her, offer to help, even though he had no idea where to look. He just hated this useless feeling that had suddenly overtaken him. Without thinking, without analyzing whether Pinkie was a girl or whether she was a murffle, he reached out and wrapped his arms around her. He felt her hands clutch at him, pulling him closer to her, and she buried her head into his shoulder and wept.
He couldn't have said later how long they stayed like that. After a time, he felt her calm down. Her shaking slowed to practically nothing, her sobbing quieted to slow breathing. And now, he started feeling a bit awkward about the position they were in, this hugging and all, and he wasn't quite sure how to proceed. What should he say? How should he act?
Luckily, he didn't have to say anything. Pinkie let him go and said, "We should probably go back and meet up with Vanessa."
That seemed to settle things. Pepper nodded, and without another word exchanged between them, they boarded the elevator to the undergrounds.
Chapter 1: Pepper
Chapter 2: Pinkie
Chapter 3: Dune
Chapter 4: Mugget
Chapter 5: Deltiology
Chapter 6: Umbrella
Chapter 7: The
Chapter 8: Exsanguination
Chapter 9: Oubliette
Chapter 10: Ferret
Chapter 11: Defenestrate
Chapter 12: Pound
Chapter 13: Aerodynamics
Chapter 14: Callipygian
Chapter 15: Cosmonaut
Chapter 16: Ensue
Chapter 17: Translucent
Chapter 18: Shindig
Chapter 19: Pseudocyesis
Chapter 20: Plantation
Chapter 21: Filch
Chapter 22: Detumescence
Chapter 23: Gelid
Full Story at pepperadventure