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Mumble sat at the table with his friends, each of which with a drink in his or her hand.

Johnny stood on his chair and raised his glass. "To Mumble and me," he toasted, before adding, "and Chrysta, when she gets here."

Just then, the doors flew open and Chrysta ran in, wearing sunglasses made of dark coloured ice. When she sat down, despite being in quite a dark room, she did not remove these sunglasses.

"Hi, everybody" she said as she sat next to Mumble. "Sorry I'm late, I was just having a little chat with brother."

"Oh, yeah, how was he?" Mumble asked curiously.

"Oh, you know, fine, really. He just wanted to talk about the little, you know, thing I did before I went on."

"What, kissing me?" Mumble said. "He realised that was just a wish-me-luck kiss between friends, right?"

"Oh, yeah. He was fine, honestly" Chrysta stuttered unconvincingly.

"You wanna take off those sunglasses Chrysta?" Fantine asked. "You probably can't see, can you?"

"I'm fine, I swear" Chrysta insisted, before Johnny just happened to push into her by accident, knocking them off of her ears, exposing her eyes to the group, the right of which being so black and bruised that she could not even open it, no doubt thanks to Cliff.

"Oh my Guin!" was Barry's reaction to seeing Chrysta in this state. "What has that brother of yours been doing to you?"

"It wasn't Cliff, it was my own fault."

"There's nothing you can do that could give your brother to beat you senseless like that."

"I'm telling you I just...I-I-I-I wa-wa-walked into a door."

"Well it must have been a door made of solid ice if that's what you got away with" Johnny protested.

"IT WAS! I-I-I-I mean it was. really solid ice" Chrysta said, but Mumble could read her like a book, he knew she was lying, and he knew Cliff was responsible.

When Johnny had given Chrysta a piece of ice to put on her eye, there was a knock at the door. Johnny opened it, saying in a Vincent Price-like voice "Who dares be so bold as to come to the house of the Legion of Fr- ah, just kiddin', what can I do for you, one-eye?"

"Hello. Barnes. Winter Barnes. I would like to join your group."

Winter had come here as mission given to him by the plotting sociopath Cliff Wolfsworth, in order to gain Mumble's trust and kill him, as well as keep his one good eye on Chrysta. When they were gathered, Barry said "Okay, as president of the LOFAO, I would like to welcome Mr Barnes over here to our team. Winter, is there anything you would like to tell us about yourself?"

"Well, okay, if you must insist" Winter said. "My name is Winter Stanley Barnes. I was born in King penguin land. I am blind in one eye and I am mentally unstable. This has made me an outcast from my people and that is why I have joined you."

"Well, we welcome you, Winter."

"Thank you very much."

That night, at their room, Mumble said "Chrysta, you want me to take a look at that eye for you?"

Chrysta responded "oh, no thanks. It's nothing serious, honest."

"Chrysta" Mumble said with a more serious tone in his voice. "Do you really expect me to believe that you walked into a door made of solid ice?"

"Okay" Chrysta sighed, knowing that Mumble could see right through the ruse. She sat down on a chair, Mumble holding a small piece of freezing cold ice that he put over her injury. It stung like a knife piercing her skin, but she knew Mumble was trying to help her, so she let him.

"You know, Chrysta, if I was you, and if I were related to that bully of a brother that you have, I'd just give it straight back to him. I wouldn't just sit there and take it."

"Yeah" Chrysta responded, thinking of all the terrible things that had happened to Mumble in his life, all the names he'd been called, all the kids that had laughed at him just because of his feet, summing up all of her thoughts with the question "so why do you?"

Mumble sighed and thought for a moment. His answer to her question was simply "because everything they say about me is true. I am just a twitchy footed freak and it's all I'll ever be."

"Mumble, you are not a freak" Chrysta protested. "If anyone is a freak here it's me. An ugly, useless freak, that's what my brother calls me."

"Your brother is WRONG!" Mumble said, his voice louder than usual, before quickly going back to calm and gentle. "Chrysta, you are not ugly or useless. I should know, you're my best friend."

"Really" Chrysta asked.

"Yes. You're the most considerate, beautiful creature I have ever met" Mumble said before noticing that Chrysta had her eyes closed and was slowly leaning towards him, with her lips in a kissing position. Mumble did not really know how to respond to this. Yes Chrysta was his friend and he liked her, but he didn't like her like this. Panicking, he grabbed the first thing he could, which just happened to be a fish, and put it in front of his face, leaving Chrysta's lips to collide with the fish's.

When Chrysta opened her eyes and, believing it was Mumble that she had just kissed, said "wow, you are a really good kisser, Mumble."

"Oh, yeah, yeah, ha ha" Mumble said, relieved that she didn't realise about the fish. However, outside of the window, there was a small masked figure that was looking at a picture they had just made of Chrysta kissing the fish that Mumble was holding, removing her mask to admire her handiwork.

"Oh, Mumble, you sly dog" Gloria said to herself before running back to her room. "At least now I have a plan B."


Next chapter: The recital

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