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"And what can I do?" Barrel asked.

"Play the drums," Shock said, sweetly. "Perfectly. Won't Lock be just delighted to hear he missed it? And just to make sure he can't claim we're lying just to fuck with him..."

She left the room for a moment to go to one of the storage closets in Oogie's lair. She came back with an old-fashioned tape recorder.

"...Here's our proof. When I feel like giving it to him, anyway."

Barrel grinned when he saw what his sister came back with.

"A perfect band session--" he started.

"--And perfect vengeance--" Shock contiuned.

"--To start with," they finished together.

Shock would think of something more creative to really stick it to him later. Right now, this would be fitting. Taking Lock's place for the moment, she started the warm-ups, and then began to direct the band.

~~~

It took a while to get to the Serpent's Tongue - for those without wings, anyway. There was a bit of cutting through the sewers, then climbing up to the hidden place to get there. Lock figured Lillith would beat him there. He'd long since abandoned any thoughts of mercy from his older sister, and decided to just focus on what Lillith wanted from him. Worrying about what was coming later wouldn't do him any good.

"All right," he said, once he got inside. "I'm here. No tricks, as promised."
Shock glowered as she watched the little devil scurry up the rope ladder and through the lair's window. Barrel downed another handful of popcorn as he looked over at Shock and Carmilla, obviously in anticipation of an inevitable mushroom cloud. To his legitimate surprise, Shock turned to Carmilla and gave the vampiress her sweetest smile.

"I think we can work something out," she said, in a syrupy-sweet voice that made Barrel freeze mid-swallow and nearly choke on his popcorn.

Oh, bones, was Lock in for it later! Barrel quickly tried to clear his throat and not spew popcorn sludge all over his drums. Shock ignored him and simply flipped through her sheet music until she found "Siren Song."

"There's a few notes that I'll need to warm up on first, but I'm sure I can handle Lillith's part for the moment."

Barrel actually looked nervous at the sudden camaraderie. It was as if the Pumpkin King suddenly re-grew his flesh!

~~~

Lock kept Lillith in sight as he followed her to the hidden hideout.

This better be worth it, he thought.

Shock wasn't going to let him off with just getting a few more forget-me-lots. Hell, he was probably going to be the one powdering them, mixing the bonding agent, and prepping the fog juice - and that was on the lower end of the scale of not only ditching the practice he set up, but forcing her to deal with Carmilla.

Carver and Barrel were going to have a damn field day, too, because they wouldn't be at the top of Shock's vengeance list for a good, long while. Lock groaned at the thought.

Well, too late now. Hopefully, Lillith would make it quick, and they'd be back soon.
Barrel happily accepted the offer. Carver seemed to have a sixth sense for when something was about to go down. He grabbed a handful and shoved it in his mouth.

Shock noticed Carmilla glaring at her. She glared right back and crossed her arms, then made a subtle nod of her head towards Lock. She then moved a hand to her throat and slid a finger across it. In a rare moment of truce, she seemed to agree, especially since she hadn't started anything, yet, either.

Lock looked decidedly uncomfortable as he ran a hand over Lillith's hip. He briefly cursed his "no tricks" promise, because if he faltered now, he'd never get away with it again. Knowing better than delay any further, Lock gently took her hand and kissed it.

"Fine," he said, "but if we come back and this place is a crater, don't say I didn't warn you."

That got Barrel to laugh, though if it was due to the thought of Shock and Carmilla destroying the place, or if it was because Lock gave into his girlfriend, and thus delayed band practice, it was hard to tell. Shock, on the other hand, gave Lock a stone-cold glare. Lock just stuck his tongue out at the her.
Shock and Barrel glanced over at the love-bats, Barrel out of curiosity, Shock because she sensed something about to go down.

Lock smirked at the "where", gave her a devious grin at the "how"...and instantly looked like a vampire caught at sunrise at the "when".

"Now?"

He briefly noticed Shock's amused smirk in the corner of his eye. Great. If he gave in and went with Lillith, he wouldn't hear the end of it for at least a week, but if he chose the band...was this an actual test, or was Lillith willfully fucking with him?

Lock quickly gestured to both of their sisters.

"And leave them alone unsupervised in the same room for half an hour?" he asked, as he tried to worm his way out of answering either way. "Talk about living dangerously!"

Shock's amusement quickly faded.

"Hey!"
Lock glanced up at Lillith - one the few benefits of his short stature - and then subtly pointed his tail towards Shock, who was currently going over song notes and mentally reviewing the practice sessions with her brothers over the last few days.

"If you mean working on what we discussed, then yeah, I've been busy."

The fact that Shock and Carmilla hadn't started their usual sniping at each other yet said enough. Of course, Lock wasn't about to spill that it was due to the efforts of their upcoming prank going smoothly, which always made his sister a lot more pleasant to deal with. He gently placed his hands over Lillith's waist, then stood on his tiptoes to better face her.

"But I'll make it up to you," he said, and made sure she could feel where his fingers were so she knew he wasn't crossing them. "No tricks. Just say where, when, and how."
That set the brothers off again. Barrel nearly joined her on the floor, he was laughing so hard. Once he composed himself, Lock turned to Carver.

"Sure thing," he said. "In celebration of you invoking Shock's wrath for once."

~~~

Over the next few days, the trio took turns gathering the forget-me-lots, with Shock helping Barrel study between practice sessions. By the time the next practice day came around, all three of them were in good moods as their plan clearly began to come together.

Shock helped Lock set up while they waited for the vampire twins to arrive. With her focus on the prank, and aside from Carver's slip-up from visiting the Finkelstein home, she was pleasant enough that Lock was confident there would be minimal issues with Carmilla. She even halfway decently greeted the vampires when they arrived. Barrel practiced a set properly for once while he waited, which said all it needed to.

Lock smiled when he saw the bats fly in. Hopefully, Lillith had a chat with her sister.
That got both boys to laugh. Barrel recalled the sound of pipes running, and wondered what sort of sciencey goop Shock might have gotten caught up in. It only made him laugh harder.

"Sprung a trap too early, then?" he asked.

"In other words, you fucked up big time," Lock said with a grin. "Go big or go home, right, Carver?"

He flicked some ash and took another drag as he got a hold of himself. Barrel shrugged.

"Hey, I'm up for a field trip," he said. "Just got to buy a box of bone biscuits to get past Igor, and the frogs are basically free for the picking!"

"Later," Lock said as he blew out some smoke. He snuffed the now-dead cigarette in an ashtray on the coffee table, then lit up another one. "If Shock's pissed at Carver, we should probably get on her good side. We've still got forget-me-lots to collect."

"But that's no fun!" Barrel whined.

"We either do that, or we study potions," Lock said.

"...Where do we find them, again?" Barrel asked.

Lock smirked.

"We don't have to do it right this moment," he said, "but we should probably head out soon."
Barrel tried to think of what could fit those specifications.

"...Proper drum work?"

He may or may not have been joking. Barrel scurried through the window and down the second rope ladder.

"Sure thing," he said, as he headed for the living area. "Oh, did you get the frog?"

Lock was already in the main room and halfway through a cigarette when Barrel brought Carver in. He glanced at the pumpkin creature when his little brother set her down on the couch.

"Guessing things didn't quite go as planned?" he asked with a smirk.
It only took a moment, as Lock was fed up with the drum lesson and went to the living areas to smoke. Barrel scurried out of the lair and up the rope ladder. He snorted as he tried to hold back his laughter.

"What'd you do to piss her off?"

Of the three of them, Carver took the least abuse from Shock, so whenever she crossed a line with the tricksters' leader, it was almost always spectacular. Barrel also doubted the doctor tied her vines into knots...and particularly of the kind she couldn't easily pull herself free from.

But he obliged and pulled her over his shoulder so he could bring her down into the lair. While he couldn't make out exactly what she was saying, he briefly heard Shock cursing from the tree house before the water from the bathtub drowned it out. It was probably best to stay down in the lair for a few hours. Maybe he'd warn Lock.

Maybe.
It took a few tries to walk without shaking, but Shock managed. Once more, she took extra care to pass the doctor's bedroom, but the second she was home free, she picked up her pace and all but ran down the ramp. She needed to get out of here, and fast.

She didn't even realize they'd forgotten the glue remover and the frog, but those could wait another day. Right now, they needed to get back to the tree house.

And as soon as they were in the clear, Shock noticed Carver's resigned posture.

Good, she knew her place.

The oldest trickster grabbed several of the pumpkin creature's vines in fury and tied then into tight knots. She was frustrated. Carver could be frustrated for a while too. Shock made sure to yank tightly and tie knots upon knots. Once satisfied, she started back for the tree house in a huff. She was going to need some time alone.

The sound of drums could be heard as they got closer. It sounded like her brothers had decided to put off collecting forget-me-lots. Whatever. So long as they did it. Shock headed up to the tree house proper. She needed a bath and to clear her head, along with other things.

She heard the drums stop as Lock berated Barrel for the latest set.

"Damn it!" he cried. "You were doing so well! Why do you do this?"

"Because it's fun!" came Barrel's reply.

"If you'd just do the damn set the first time..."

Shock rolled her eyes as she climbed into the tree house proper.
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