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Lunaria Nishant

"There's more to life than this... there has to be."

0 · 479 views · located in Tartarus

a character in “White Asphodel”, as played by Nemeseia

Description

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xxImageImageImagexxxxxxLunariaNishant
xxxxxxxxx◙◙◙◙* Female xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 23 xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 5'7 xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 133 lbs. xxxxx◙◙◙◙* Nephaelem

AASTR x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌ AAACON x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AASPD x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌ AAAPWR x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAINT x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌ AAACNG x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAWPN x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌ AAACHA x ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌


--Image- CRYOKINESIS [locked]
AETHER [locked]
NEPHAELEM slightly more resilient than humans
SIXTH SENSE able to detect divinity/demons; partial



Image You're just a soul that blends into the crowd
- - - - - - - and I'm just a stranger who could be a friend .


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Growing up on the streets has a way of shaping a person—especially if they were a young child growing up on said streets. Luna counts herself lucky that she had someone to look out for her, otherwise she might have had a very different disposition.

On the outside, Luna appears aloof and reserved. Her expression gives little way of anything other than being as guarded and distrusting as her sister is, however; she's not entirely like that. It's a defense mechanism that was created from the time she lived on the streets, and it's a bit harder to shake off than it seems. It's made her extremely observant of people, though, noticing the smaller details that someone might usually miss. This includes anything from a person's posture, a small change of appearance, or how they're actually feeling. By nature, people speak louder with their actions than actual words, and Luna's learned to read that in order to adjust accordingly.

As cruel as the world is, however; Luna has always had something of an empathetic heart. She's always given to the less fortunate—food, clothes, or what little money she may have for herself—because she knows how it feels to have nothing but the clothes on your back to keep you safe. And it's a shitty feeling, honestly. Life is hard enough as it is, and if she can provide even just a modicum of comfort, she'd gladly do it in a heartbeat. She's a bit of a bleeding heart that way, but she's not entirely naïve. Soleil made sure of that, intentionally or not—you don't escape living in poverty and poor conditions without something of a wary, cynical look to the world.

The way she's learned to cope with it is with a rather dark sense of humor. It's a strange contrast to her otherwise quiet self, but it's usually buried beneath a thick layer of sarcasm. There are a few things she picked up from her sister, and a few things she's learned from attending school. Neither have been easy for her, but despite the hardships she's been through, Luna likes to think of herself as a decent person—compared to most people, at least. She's a bit thick-skinned, and perhaps a little strange, but she's more compassionate than she realizes. It just takes the right amount of coaxing, and perhaps a little more determination, to bring it out.

Still, she's fairly intelligent, perhaps a little more-so than most people. Things have always been easier for her to understand, she's slightly faster and more agile, but she's never really questioned why she's capable of these things. She's accepted it, and learned to incorporate it into different ways. She still manages to stay beneath the radar, but there are times when she wishes she could do more. She has to satisfy herself with her volunteer work and helping out around the shop, for now.


Image You could have been so great
- - - - - - - but you let them into your head.


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Luna doesn't remember much about her childhood, save for the fact that it was difficult. It was always just her and her older sister, Soleil, and Luna doesn't recall much about her parents—only that she knew she had them at some point in her life. What happened to them, who they were, or what they were like, is all lost to her. Their life wasn't easy, and certainly not one a child could endure alone, but Soleil and Luna somehow managed. With a lot of personal sacrifice on Soleil's side, Luna was mostly sheltered from the more grittier aspects of homelessness.

She didn't escape entirely unscathed, but Luna knows it could have been much worse. In order to pay her sister back, Luna did well in school—about as well as she could, anyway. It wasn't a secret that you excelled if you had the money, or if you were planning on selling your soul to a demon at the end of High School. She didn't have the former, and she didn't even entertain the notion of the latter. It would be an insult to all of her sister's hard work, and that was the last thing Luna wanted to do. Soleil had been a pillar of strength for Luna for most of her life, and she'd sacrificed too much for Luna to just throw it away like that. When Luna finally graduated, she spent her first few months searching for a job. She couldn't afford a college tuition—there were multiple reasons for that—and she wanted to help out with the monetary situation.

During the days she was free, Luna filled her free time in one of two ways: volunteering at the homeless shelters, or helping Soleil out in the garage. She wasn't quite as gifted as her sister with the mechanic aspect of the job, but she helped out in any way she could: helping with oil changes, tending to the customers that waited, and even helping out with organizing the invoices and ledger.

There wasn't much else she could offer. When she volunteered at the shelters, Luna helped with dispensing food and gathering whatever donations she could. She remembers the catalyst to her volunteer work being a man who had no gloves during a particular bad winter. She was a teenager then, and wasn't in need of the pair she owned. The cold had never bothered her as much as it did most people, so she gave him her gloves. It was the first time she'd felt like she'd made a difference—small as it may have been, it was something.

When she finally managed to land her first job, though, it was as a waitress at a local restaurant. She worked mainly the lunch shifts, since they were always the busiest, but it was a viable source of income that didn't require much of her. She still had the free time to volunteer, and to help out at the garage. It only lasted about a year before the restaurant had to close. The owner couldn't keep up with his dues to the local boss, and was forced to close his establishment. Luna was lucky enough to find a job two weeks after her layoff through a reference from one of Soleil's clients. Because she was talented at keeping things organized, a local firm hired her to be a secretary. The pay wasn't that good, but it was enough that Luna has worked there for three years. She knows she's being taken advantage of, there just isn't much she can do about it. She does what she can, for now, as a secretary, as a volunteer, and helping Soleil out in the garage.

It's all she can ask for, even though she wishes she could somehow do more.


Image I see in your eyes a reflection of hurt
- - - - - - - I won't let you slip away .


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Mick
AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
I think we're getting somewhere, but...

Mick is a strange one, but she likes him. He's been really helpful around the shelter on the days that she sees him, and well... he's been helpful in other ways, too. It's nice to have someone to talk to who isn't Sol. Not that she wouldn't talk to her sister, but sometimes having someone else to talk to can put things in a different perspective. She wonders how old he really is, though. He says things that confuse her sometimes, but, well, she's just glad he actually talks to her.

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Soleil
AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
She is my life, and I am hers.

Life for the Nishant sister's has never been easy. Soleil has made a lot of personal sacrifices for Luna, and she hopes to repay that in kind one day. Luna knows it must be hard on Sol, so she does her best to help out where she can. Whether it's with the shop, running errands, or some other task, she hopes she's alleviating some of the burden from Soleil. Luna hopes Soleil knows that she can count on her, too.

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Samael
AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
I don't get him, really.

Why is he so invested in helping her and Soleil out? It's obvious that Luna and Sol can't offer him anything, however; Sam just confuses Luna. Sure, he seems nice enough, and the way he interacts with Sol is hilarious, but still. What does he actually want from them? Why is he going out of his way to help two people he barely knows? She just... doesn't get him, really. He's been too good to them, and Luna is afraid that it might bite her and Sol in the ass, later.

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Coding by Aethiya, inspired by maccotango's guide to the same.



So begins...

Lunaria Nishant's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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#, as written by Aethyia


Image


1 Asmodeus
Nishant Residence - Early Morning - Cool
Soleil Nishant


Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage I am still just a—


WHAM.

The ancient alarm clock met its end in a staticky hiss, one matched by Soleil as its crushed glass face embedded shards into the side of her fist.

"Fucking—ugh." Heaving a sigh, she turned onto her back, staring listlessly at the rickety ceiling fan overhead, stirring the cool air of early Asmodeus around her room. She wouldn't need it if she didn't prefer to sleep under blankets; autumn had begun with its usual prompt regularity a few days ago, and the heat of summer already felt like a distant memory.

Blinking blearily, she forced herself to roll out of bed, bare feet hitting the threadbare rug next to her mattress, and shoved herself into a stand. Flexing the injured hand, she grumbled her way to the sink, yanking out shards as she went and tossing them all into the trash can with little tinking sounds. When she was sure they were out, she ran her hand under the water a moment, locking her jaw as the wounds closed up, leaving faint pink marks behind. Minor discomfort at best, but she shouldn't have broken the damn thing. She couldn't exactly afford another.

Splashing water on her face, Soleil stripped off her thin white tank and black shorts while the shower inched towards not-icewater, tossing both back onto the unmade heap of blankets and pulling the elastics out of her hair.

One very cold wake-up shower later, she'd outfitted herself in the durable all-blacks of her work clothes: long sleeved shirt, leather vest, fitted denim pants, heavy steel-toed boots. Her hair was pulled into subtle tails that hit below her shoulders, and she trudged down the stairs, wondering what her sister had managed to pull together for breakfast.

The stairs creaked, so no doubt it would be easy to hear her coming.

“Mornin' sis," Luna called out, the faint smell of something coming from her direction. “Managed to steal some eggs from next door," she stated, flipping over the omelete she seemed to be cooking. She said it as if she'd actually stolen them from next door, but they both knew better than to do that. Still, Luna smiled and motioned for Soleil to take a seat at their shabby table.

"Just steal the fucking chicken next time," Soleil replied, fatigue making her voice come out scratchy and low. Combined with her coarse language, most people would probably assume she was angry, but Luna would know she wasn't. It was just normal morning shit. "Eggs for a while and then something to roast. We could keep it in the attic or some shit." Not like they were using that for anything—they didn't have enough stuff to need storage.

She dropped into the chair with a view of the door, wincing when it protested under her weight. She wasn't even that heavy.

The table itself was a two-seater at best, old and crickety. One of the legs had to be supported by a piece of cardboard, otherwise it would fall. “Do you want ketchup with your omelete?" she asked, pulling it from the pan and sliding it onto a plate.

"Nah, save it," she said, waving a hand vaguely. "I can't taste anything this early anyway." She swore half her diet was eggs, just because they were cheap. The other half was whatever produce they scraped from the Rogenmart dumpster a couple blocks down. Usually kind of wilted, but it was harder to notice if it was cooked. Soleil was in charge of dinner, and had gotten good at cooking things so they almost didn't notice anymore. Condiments helped.

Luna was still laughing by the time she'd set Soleil's plate down, shaking her head faintly and disturbing the platinum blonde tail over her shoulder. She wasn't dressed in her work attire, though. She was in a simple white shirt that was off the shoulder, and a pair of torn capri jeans. She took a seat across from Soleil after plating her own food, and poked at it with her fork.

“Maybe next time I'll steal the chicken, too. It's kinda hard, though, 'cause they keep it locked up. Do you have any tools that can open a lock?" she asked, grinning in Soleil's direction.

"Well there's always the blowtorch. Just make sure it doesn't explode." Soleil did in point of fact have actual lockpicks, but Luna knew that and it wasn't as in keeping with the stupidity of the joke to mention them, so she didn't. "I kind of need it. Even if it's only to threaten Jeremy."

Ugh, right. That asshat was going to be by again soon. It was the first of the month.

Luna's lips pursed together as she rolled her eyes. “If that doesn't work, just punch him in the throat. I swear, if they make one more pass at us..." she started, stabbing at her omelete in a rough manner before shoving a piece into her mouth. She chewed it in an angry manner before she swallowed it.

“We barely make enough as it is," she muttered, stabbing at her omelete once more. “What's on the agenda for today? Oil change, tire rotation?" she asked, arching a brow.

Soleil frowned. "Dunno," she replied, slicing through one side of the omelet with he side of her fork. It had a slightly-bent tine; it was stupid, but since she could tell the difference between it and the others she always used it when it was clean. "Nothing on the books; hopefully someone drives in." It sucked, being reliant on something so random, but her clientele was small. Not too many people this far out had cars, or bikes, over or otherwise.

"Otherwise I'm going to have to see if Mrs. Hamby still needs her fridge fixed." Stingy bitch.

“Yeah, good luck with that one. Just make sure you collect before you do the job. You know how she is," Luna replied as she took another bite of her food. “I'll go around the other apartment buildings to see if anyone else needs something looked at. I think Mr. Henderson might have a printer that's not acting like it should be. Something about paper jams and shit like that," she offered, sitting back in her chair a bit. There was a soft creak to it, but Luna didn't seem too worried about it.

"A printer? Talk about ancient tech. Who prints anything?" Soleil didn't know how to fix a printer, but she could figure it out if she had to. Pulling solutions to problems out of her ass was pretty much how she survived.

“I have to make a run to the convenience store, anyway. We're almost out of toliet paper," she added, frowning somewhat. Basic necessities were hard to come by, not only because work was hard to come by, but most of it was outrageously over priced.

"Might want to wait til tomorrow for that," she advised. "Danny was saying one of the western supply chains is down. Someone blew up some of the tracks, apparently. They've had to move what's left over to hovertruck; whoever it was stole the rest." In Soleil's opinion, you had to be stupid to risk your life like that. Easier to filch a few cans at a time from the local grocer than take out a whole train for a month's score. Way less likely to bring demons down on your ass.

Luna frowned slightly, but nodded her head. “I'll just pick some up after work tomorrow, since it'll be on the way home," she replied. “We'll be fine for now, I guess," she added with a light shrug of her shoulders.

“It's almost Sunday," she stated suddenly, grinning lightly. “Did you figure out what it is you want as a dessert for that day?" she asked in an amused fashion.

"Tiramisu," Soleil deadpanned, naming a fancy dessert she'd only ever heard of. She didn't even know what it looked like, much less how it tasted. Snorting, she shook her head and picked something that might actually be possible. "I think there might be a sale on cinnamon at the bodega still. You want to see if we can get the stuff for cinnamon rolls?"

“Sure, I'll just check to see what our budget is and go from there," Luna replied as she leaned a little back in her chair. If she kept leaning back like that, she was going to fall. She didn't seem too concerned though. “Oh, and remind me to make sure I get the stuff for cream cheese icing. Regular icing is fine and all, but cream cheese just tastes better."

It also cost more, but Soleil didn't mention that.

"Sure." Finishing the last bite of her omelet, she collected both of their plates and washed them down quickly in this sink, fitting them into the handmade metal drying rack next to the sink.

"Guess it's time to go mind the shop. You working this afternoon?"

“Nope. I'm off today so I have the day to myself," Luna replied, tilting her head backwards to glance at Soleil. “Why? Were you going to miss me if I did? I know you do every time I leave, but I'm all yours today!" she added, grinning brightly. “Oh, and—ack!" Luna's chair tipped backwards, causing her to fall to the floor. She groaned slightly before sighing.

“Serves me right for doing that on this old thing," she stated from her spot on the floor. “Anyway, uh, do you need me today to help you with the shop? If not, I was going to try and organize the house a bit. Maybe put in some more caulk around the places that really need it," she asked, glancing up at Soleil. Caulk wasn't easy to come by, either, which is probably why she put emphasis on the word.

Soleil rolled her eyes, bending down and grabbing the back bar of the chair, sister and all, and setting it back on its feet again. "I'll manage somehow," she drawled. "Just don't fall off a ladder or something." Not that Luna would likely suffer any real damage from that, but they were careful not to make that obvious.

Luna chuckled softly. “Alright, fine, have it your way," she said, standing from her spot at the table, and pushing the chair back in. “If you need me, you'll know where to find me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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4 Asmodeus
Nishant Residence - Evening - Light Drizzle
Lunaria Nishant


Luna sighed, pulling the elastic band out of her hair, and letting it spill over her shoulders. She swore that it gave her a headache with how tightly pulled back it was, but there wasn't much she could do. She was a secretary, after all, and no matter how lenient the Bailey's were about the dress code, she still had to present herself nicely to the clientele. It was why she was wearing a black pencil skirt with a white blouse tucked into it and a fitted blazer. It was one of two suits that she owned that were even remotely nice.

They also didn't have holes in them like most of her other clothing choices. She made her way to her room to change so that she didn't ruin her suit. A pair of worn black shorts and white tank top later, she made her way towards the garage where Sol would be. It was drizzling outside, so no doubt Sol had the garage door closed. That didn't mean, of course, that she stopped taking potential customers, only that they had to come inside if they wanted something done.

“Sol, are you around?" she called out, looking for her sister.

"Down here." The garage was meticulously-clean, even if everything in it was old and worn like... well pretty much everything else around here. There were only two vehicles in it; one was the junky old hoverbike Sol was fixing up whenever she could skim the parts. It was a way they sometimes made a little extra money; her sister kept old parts that needed a little fixing, and eventually there were enough of them to fit to an old frame and get something functional. Then they'd save until she could afford to do a paint and detailing job, and try to find someone to sell the thing to.

The other vehicle, though, was a wheeled truck, currently settled flat on the ground. Upon closer inspection, Luna could see Sol's long black coat thrown over the workbench, her denim-clad legs and boots sticking partway out from beneath the truck. She must be working on the undercarriage. "Can you grab me the phillips head? Red toolbox."

The red toolbox, distinct from the green and black toolboxes, sat open on the same worktable.

“Sure thing," she replied as she made her way towards the toolbox. She rummaged through it before she found the tool in question, and handed it towards Sol. “Have you had dinner, yet, or would you like me to start on it?" she asked, making her way towards one of the old iron chairs nearby. Luna was the morning person of the two, and she always made sure to have some form of breakfast for Sol, however; dinner alternated sometimes.

It was easier for them to work it that way since Sol could spend hours in the garage fixing a car, or tinkering with something else. There were times where Luna had to remind Sol that she needed a break, otherwise she was going to work herself to the bone.

"It's fine. I was planning to start it after I finish here. shouldn't be more than another twenty minutes—" Her words abruptly cut off as she seemed to focus on what she was doing, either forgetting or not bothering to finish the sentence.

About thirty seconds later, she spoke again. "You were stomping. Shitty day?"

Luna felt herself frown. “Yeah, you could say that," she replied, leaning forward so she could rest her elbow on her knees, and rest her chin in her hand. “Stupid shit head thought he could get fresh with me while Mr. Bailey was in the back trying to locate his file," she murmured softly. It wasn't something that happened often, but there were times when potential buyers and clients came to the Baileys' and tried to push their luck. Luna wasn't stupid; she knew that Sol and herself were rather attractive, but she wasn't eye candy!

“Ugh, Mr. Bailey managed to keep it from escalating, though, when I refused," because why wouldn't she refuse? The man was an asshole. “Last week it was that demoness lady who the Baileys outright refused to work with." It was mostly because the Baileys tried their best to help the human population of Tartarus. Luna knew that not all of the demons were especially bad, but they weren't exactly helpful, either. With the Baileys, they were still a religious sort, and were good people.

"Gross." Sol certainly got her own share of annoying customers, Luna knew, but she had a more forbidding demeanor in general, the kind of deadpan expression that looked like a scowl even when she wasn't particularly upset about anything, and a job that at least suggested she knew a few things about how to look out for herself. So while it wasn't that she never had to deal with jerks, it was a little... different, in her case. Still, even in her flat tone there was detectable sympathy.

"I don't know why people fucking do that. If you want an easy lay go buy one. It's not like there aren't any around. I'm just here to fix fucking cars, and you're there to file paperwork and answer phones."

“Exactly!" Luna agreed. “But what I think they're looking for is a free lay. They can't necessarily afford even the cheap ones," she murmured before shaking her head. “Especially if they're going to a place like the one Alastor owns," she shivered at that. “He's an asshole who charges way too much because he knows he'll get it one way or another."

"Mm." Sol didn't seem to have much to say on the topic of Alastor at the moment, but certainly they'd both spent plenty of breath on him already. "Motherfucker." That about summed it up, actually.

There was some activity under the truck; a soft grunt and the sound of metal giving way, and then Sol tossed something aside, a hunk of steel that clattered to the ground clear of the vehicle's radius. She must have already had the replacement part ready, because she didn't ask for anything else, and there were more metal contact noises. "They say anything about upping your hours?"

“No, they can't afford more than what they're already giving me," she replied, straightening herself out on the chair. A couple of humans in the real estate business wasn't exactly profitable. If they had sold their souls, they might have been able to afford more, and be some of the wealthier humans, however; Luna knew it had never crossed their minds.

“I'm surprised they're even giving me what they have been," she added. She'd worked with the Baileys for about three years, now. They were generous in their hours, but three hours for two or three days just wasn't enough to help Sol with the bills. Rent, electricity, and the dues they had to pay Alastor... she might have to go look for a second part-time job.

Sol sighed, and after installing whatever part she was working on, rolled out from under the truck. She'd pulled both tails into buns on either side of her head, presumably to keep her ink-black hair from dragging on the concrete slab that served as the garage floor. Her face was dirty, streaked in places with grease; her clothes probably were too, but her habit of wearing nothing but black tended to make that harder to tell.

"We'll figure it out," she said, brows knit.

Leveraging herself off the rolling board, Sol dusted off her pants and wiped the screwdriver down, as well as the wrenches attached to her belt, before stowing all of them and collecting the discarded part from earlier. She made a quick inspection of it, then sighed. "Scrap," she mumbled, tossing it into a large bin in the corner with a loud metal clang. It was only about half-full; it'd be a while before it was worth hauling to the scrapyard.

Luna smiled ruefully and nodded her head. “We always do," even if it meant they couldn't buy groceries for awhile, or went without water or electricity. At this point in her life, Luna considered those luxuries, ones that were nice to have, but it wasn't like it would be difficult to not have them. Sol and Luna had come a long way from being homeless children to having a shab of a home to live in. It wasn't much, but to Luna, it was more than she could ask for. More than what most people could ask for.

“So, what's for dinner?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


7 Asmodeus
Nishant Garage - Evening - Overcast
Soleil Nishant


Fuck.

It wasn't exactly surprising that more money hadn't magically appeared in the shop's tiller than had already been there the last time she counted, but it was shitty anyway. Lots of things were like that.

Zinoviev's fucking 'protection fees' had been due on the first, which typically meant there was a five-day 'grace period' in which they could try to scrape together the funds, but it was the seventh, and she knew from experience that this was about when Jeremy and his goon squad came knocking. She wasn't going to enjoy this a single damn bit, especially not because she would not, in fact, be able to hand him the requisite few hundred dollars. Maybe if she had another couple of weeks and didn't pay the power bill. Maybe. But business had been fucking slow, and there was that emergency last month where she'd had to shell out to patch the roof before the autumn rains. It had barely survived last Leviathanus, and while the fall wasn't as rainy as the spring, it'd still bring the rest of the roof down on their heads if they didn't at least get the patch job.

She'd done it herself, but junk hadn't cut it that time, and she'd had to pay out the nose for proper shingles and a tarp. Fuck everything.

At least Luna wasn't home. Maybe she'd get lucky and Jeremy would come and go before her sister had to see his slimy fucking face.

“Sol, I'm home," Luna called out, the sound of the door closing following her voice. “I think I'm gonna puke; a client came in today smelling like rotting fish," she stated, frowning in Soleil's direction when she appeared. “I mean, I volunteer at the shelters and everything, but man, that guy was something else," she continued, furrowing her brows and pursing her lips together as if she was recalling that particular smell. She sighed, though and shook her head.

“They couldn't afford to give me an advance this week," she stated, pulling the tie from her hair. “They're having trouble collecting on payments from their customers. Mr. Bailey says that he can try next time, but it's not a guarantee."

Double fuck.

Soleil gathered up all the cash in the tiller and rubber banded it, save for one twenty, which she slid into her back pocket, under her coat. They had to eat something, after all, and they were going to be late and incur an exploitative amount of interest regardless. Well, honestly the whole thing was plain-out extortion, but it was funny how you could get used to a certain amount of it and still think any more was crossing a different line.

"Sounds like he dove the wrong dumpster," she said offhandedly. You had to be really careful with meat. Lots of people were tempted to it, but Soleil knew to stick to produce and packaged items. You could cut away bad spots on vegetables or cheese. If meat was bad it was all bad. Amateurs.

Slamming the tiller shut with more force than intended, she cursed under her breath and tossed the stack of cash onto the table. Three hundred and eighty-four dollars. A hundred and sixteen short. She scrubbed her hands up and down her face.

Luna sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “Possibly," she replied, grabbing one of the chairs from the table and turning it around. She sat in it with the back of the chair, in front of her, and leaned her chin on it. “You think they'll try to collect collateral this time?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.

They tried before, using the excuse that they were hiring for their establishments. “Do you want me to go get the blowtorch just in case?" Luna sounded almost as if she were half-joking about it.

Soleil shook her head. "Shotgun's under the counter." It was loaded with pellets of rock salt, because she didn't believe in killing people for doing their jobs, even if their jobs were acting as muscle for a scummy wannabe crime lord, and also because actual cartridges were expensive, but Jeremy and his boys didn't need to know that. "You can hold the blowtorch if it makes you feel better, though."

“Only if I get to use it," Luna replied casually as she stood from her spot. She went towards the counter and ducked to grab said shotgun, and pulled it out. “Recoil is still a bitch on this thing, though," she stated as she glanced over it and handed it to Soleil. “It's kind of late already, do you think he'll still show?"

Soleil wasn't worried about the recoil, and she knew Luna really wasn't either. "Of course he's going to show," she replied drolly, leaning the shotgun against the counter in front of her. She was still perched on the stool behind the tiller, so it wouldn't be visible to Jeremy unless she picked it up. "He exists to annoy us."

Sure enough, the bell on the shop's normal entrance—as opposed to the garage door—jangled an alarm as a man in a red velvet jacket and acid wash jeans stepped through. His fedora was black, with a slightly frayed satin ribbon and a king of hearts playing card stuck into it at a crooked angle. She supposed he was going for jaunty. Snakeskin shoes were quiet over the floor as he approached the counter, a pair of other guys filing in behind him an taking up spots near the door, arms crossed.

“Ah, my little sun and moon. Feels like just yesterday we talked last, and yet here you are, prettier than ever." She smiled at them, his line of teeth pristine save for the left eyetooth, which was silver. Soleil had punched the other one out the first time they met. He hadn't touched either of them since then, but he still liked to play at this bullshit.

Her face remained stony, expression dull, eyes half lidded. "Let's just get this over with, Jeremy."

He placed a hand over his black shirt, near where his heart would be if the fucker had one. “So cold to me," he murmured, flicking a glance at Luna. “You should probably teach your sister some of that hospitality the Baileys use you for. She might get more business if she smiled pretty for it."

Luna didn't smile at all, and flicked her gaze towards Soleil. “Didn't you know? That is her smile. I thought it was already pretty to begin with," she replied, taking a step closer in Soleil's direction. She crossed her arms over her chest and held her gaze with Jeremy's. Her expression wasn't as steely as Soleil's was, but it was dull and unamused.

He sighed. “I don't know why you have to be so hostile," he said, still feigning friendliness himself. “Mr. Zinoviev and the rest of us do a fine service for this neighborhood, you know. He's crated more jobs than any other businessman has brought to this area in years, and his employees are well-compensated. We do have to tax for our services, but we're much more reliable than the police, you know."

Soleil just kept staring flatly at him.

Another sigh, and then: “You haven't paid your dues, my dears. It's two-fifty per person, same as always. Unless—"

"No."

Jeremy shrugged, diffident. “If you say so."

"There's Luna's two-fifty and a hundred and thirty four of mine on the table. You'll get the rest of mine when I have it."

He clicked his tongue against his teeth. “Short, are we? That's going to mean compound interest, my dear. Are you sure you can afford that?"

“We'll have it," Luna responded, her eyes narrowing slightly in Jeremy's direction. “He has more than seventy percent of it, there. That's more than what most people pay even if they are on time."

“You can tell Zinoviev he can be expect the rest of it, soon," she stated as she unfolded her arms and placed one on her hip.

“I'm not sure how you think you know that, little miss," Jeremy replied, snatching up the money and handing it to one of the others to count. “Mr. Zinoviev's finances are a very private matter, and I'm quite certain you're not keeping his books."

Knowing they needed to placate him so he'd go away, Soleil sighed under her breath. "Business has been slow," she said. "If Mr. Zinoviev would like me to do some maintenance on one of his cars, or something like that, I'm sure we could work out some kind of deal."

That was a new offer, and she could tell that it had thrown Jeremy off a bit. He usually knew how to speak for his boss, but honestly didn't seem sure what the gang lord would make of that. On the one hand, it wasn't money and it wasn't exactly the alternative he was always trying to foist on them. On the other, it would bring them closer into the gangster's circle, which was something he seemed to want for some reason.

When the other man nodded to confirm the amount was what she'd said it was, Jeremy hummed. “Well, I can ask ladies, just because I like you so much. But I wouldn't expect that to work. Mr. Zinoviev really should get what he's owed, you know?"

“He's owed a punch in the face," Luna murmured softly so that only Soleil could hear her. She turned her attention towards Jeremy, though. “Just let him know; that's all we are asking. We'll have the rest of his dues, soon." She didn't seem particularly happy, but Luna was hardly ever happy when Jeremy and his squad came to collect.

“If our business is concluded, I kindly ask that you leave."

Jeremy shrugged a little, gesturing his guys out ahead of him.

When the bell jangled again as it shut behind them, Soleil sighed quietly. She supposed she'd bought them a week or two, but the last thing she wanted was to be any part of that asshole's organization, down to the janitor who cleaned his floors.

Triple fuck.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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12 Asmodeus
Shelter #301 - Afternoon - Haze
Lunaria Nishant


The lower slums of the city weren't exactly any better than where Luna lived. The buildings were all structurally unsafe, and any one of the beams could give way at any moment. The result would be multiple people crushed, and possibly killed if they were human. Most of Tartarus's homeless people were human, but there were a handful of cambions as well. It wasn't like the media would care, though. Why would they? These people were nobodies, and that meant that no one cared.

“Hey, Lu, you doin' alright over there?" Kasey called out as Luna turned in her direction. At least some people cared about these nobodies. Luna would be damned if she didn't help out where she could. She knew how these people felt, not having a home or a place to hide for shelter of the elements. It was depressing, however; she shook her head.

“I'm fine, Kase. Just getting lost in my thoughts," she replied as Kasey huffed slightly. She pushed the red fringe in front of her face, away, and continued stirring the pot. They would occasionally take turns cooking, but it came down to whoever could find the most ingredients for the week.

“Luna, do you think you can help find a few hands to help move this beam out of the way? I'm gonna need at least three more hands," Kato called out, sighing softly as he pointed to a fallen beam. His brows were furrowed, and he tucked back a black strand of hair that had become loose from his tie. The beam was in the way of a door, though, and if it could be cleared, they'd have more space to put things out. It'd even give someone a nice place to sleep if they couldn't find other places.

“Sure thing, Kato!" Luna replied as she glanced in Kasey's direction. “I'm going to go see if any of the guys can help Kato with the beam. I'll be right back," she stated, dusting off her hands. She smoothed out her torn black shirt, and glanced in the direction of the people they were helping. Some of them always lended an extra hand when they needed help, maybe a few of them would like to help out, now?

“Hey, guys," she called out, waving towards a small group. “Do any of you think you can help Kato and Ravi with the beam?"

A few of them looked at the beam in question; one of them winced outright. “I dunno 'f it's gonna budge," he said. He was an older man, grey and grizzled, wearing a misshapen hat. She knew his name to be Carlos. “Terry, you seen Mick around today? Maybe he could help."

Terry blinked pale blue eyes, tugging at his dense, wiry brown beard. “Yeah, I bet he's round. Saw 'im near the bridge. Always goin' on about what a shame it is the water's dirty. If you can wait a bit, Lu, I can see about goin' to get him?"

“Sure thing, Terry, I can wait," she replied, offering him a smile. She knew who Mick was, at least how he looked. She had seen him a couple of times, burly red-head who was probably one of the tallest people she'd seen, and he wasn't even a demon, or a cambion. Of that she was fairly certain. She turned her attention back to Carlos, though, and offered a smile.

“Thanks Carlos, do you want me to see if Sofia has your jacket today? I think she was finished with repairing it so it should be a little sturdier for winter," she stated. Sofia was, perhaps, a gifted seamstress which was a little on the rare side of things. No one really had things tailored unless they could afford it, but Sofia was charitable, and did what she could for those who needed it.

Terry nodded and disappeared out the door, while Carlos nodded, smiling broadly enough that she could see the gaps in his yellowed teeth. “Would appreciate that, Lu."

By the time Luna had returned with the jacket and Carlos folded it to stow in his grimy backpack, the door had opened again, and Terry stepped through, an absolute bear of a man in his shadow. Mick was as big as she remembered, easily six and a half feet tall. He wasn't thin like a lot of the others, either, but it was hard to tell what kind of broadness he had, because he like most of them wore what seemed like three changes of clothes at once. Necessary, when you had to carry everything you owned.

He was layered in dark colors, with the occasional touch of something brighter, like a hunter green or burnt orange. His hair was an obvious shade of red, thick and shaggy to his shoulders, the fringe heavy over eyes of an uncommon amber color, almost gold. He had whiskery stubble along his tanned jawline, but nothing approaching the beards of the others, suggesting he shaved at least every now and then.

"Heard someone needed something heavy moved?" His voice was a bass suited to his dimensions, a little rough around its edges but without any of the bitten ends or elision of most of them. He talked like someone who'd been educated well, though it was hard to imagine it, looking at him now.

Luna smiled up at the man, and nodded her head. “Kato and Ravi need help moving the beam that's blocking the way," she replied, tilting her head in their direction. “Carlos said that you might be able to help?" it was more of a statement than a question, but she was still asking him. She was giving him that option to help if he wanted to; if it was too much for him, he wasn't obligated to say yes. She pursed her lips together, though, trying to think of a way to word it better. She couldn't just say if you can't, it's fine. She didn't want to sound like she was guilt tripping him, which she wasn't.

It really would be fine if he couldn't help. How did you say that, though, without sounding condescending?

“If you can help, that would be great, but don't... think of it as something you have to do. I'm not forcing you or anything like that."

Because that sounds so much better, Lu. She inwardly rolled her eyes at her self.

He snorted, an inelegant gust of air. "I'd be interested to see you try to force me to do anything," he said, arching a wry brow and looking pointedly down at her from his lofty height. A couple of the others laughed.

“Don't underestimate our Lu, now, Mick. She's spunky." Carlos tipped her a cheeky wink.

The man named Mick shook his head faintly, but there didn't seem to be anything mean-spirited in it. "You just want it out of here, or set back in the ceiling?"

Carlos wasn't entirely wrong, though. Luna and her sister were always stronger than most people, but she had stopped questioning that a long time ago. She could have helped Kato and Ravi move that beam, but she'd promised Sol that she wasn't going to do anything unneccesary that would expose that. Instead, she focused on Mick's question.

“Well, I don't know if all of you would be able to set it back, but..." she trailed off, glancing in Ravi and Kato's direction. It would give the building a more stable foundation. “You guys can try to set it back, but if it starts getting too dangerous, I want you to stop, alright? I don't need you all getting hurt."

“Are you questioning my manliness, Lu?" Ravi called out from behind her, his lips twisting into an amused smile. Ravi had what Luna liked to call a pretty boy complexion. His skin was near flawless, darker than Mick's, with shoulder length jet black hair. The only thing that stood out more was his eyes. They were a deep blue color.

“Wait, you've been a man all this time?" Kato joked, causing Luna to chuckle and shake her head. Ravi just sighed dramatically and pursed his lips together.

"Don't worry about it," Mick said, shaking his head at the two. "I'm not this big for no reason." He shrugged a little and made his way over to the beam. Bending at the knees into a squat, he fitted both hands—heavily-callused, she could see, even if most of them were covered by fingerless gloves—under the beam, and slowly rose back to his feet. The metal creaked in protest as he shifted it, but a look at his face revealed little strain.

Kato moved to clear some of the debris from the fall out of the area, making it possible for Mick to tilt the beam back into place where it had fallen down, walking his hands further down the thing to get it close to vertical. Once it was set up against the wall, he and Kato took hold of either side and hefted it carefully into place while Ravi scrambled to get the ladder so he could make sure it braced back in the right spot, and weld it in.

“It's always fun t' watch Mick do stuff," Terry said, chuckling to himself.

“Always seems to be right where ya need him, right?" Carlos added.

Luna could understand why they thought it was fun to watch Mick. The man was doing most of the lifting, it seemed, and barely showing any sort of strain. She wondered if he did some kind of construction back in the day. He had to be at least in his late twenties, maybe early thirties. She was bad when it came to telling people's ages, mostly because some people didn't age quite the same way. Shoving the thought away, Ravi chuckled at something Kato said, and by the time they were finished, it looked like the beam was fixed into its proper spot.

“You know, I have a cousin who works in construction," Kato started, grinning in Mick's direction. “He's always looking for people to help out. If you want, I could put in a good word for you."

Kato seemed genuine in his offer, which Luna knew was true. “I think what he meant to say was, thank you, Mick," Luna spoke, shaking her head in Kato's direction.

“You know him, though, Lu. He's always trying to scout people," Ravi chuckled.

Mick smiled a little. Not enough to show teeth, and it was a little wry, but he nodded anyway. "Wouldn't say no to some honest work," he said gruffly, and a couple of the others nodded. They knew what he meant—honest work was pretty much anything that didn't involve selling a soul or working directly for a demon. Considering just how much of things they were in charge of, it was hard to come by, and employees willing to trade in their souls were usually given priority.

It meant that people like these, the ones unwilling to make that sacrifice for whatever reason, were dwindling in number. And usually, well, homeless or pretty close.

Dusting off his hands, Mick settled his eyes on Luna. "Anything else need to be done around here? I'm not bad at odd jobs."

Luna smiled a little at that. “There's always things to be done," she started, frowning a bit. “I just... don't know if we'd be able to pay you for it." She would feel bad if he did work and wasn't paid for it. She didn't get much for an allowance, but maybe she could give it to him the next time she saw him? That was a huge maybe. It felt like their paths crossed only a couple of times; Luna would have remembered someone as large and burly as Mick.

“Oh, maybe I can see if Sol will let me cook you a dinner as payment," she suggested, earning a light snicker from Ravi.

“You make it sound like you're asking him out, Lu. Careful how you word things," he stated, earning a flat look from her.

“Don't be jealous, Rav, that I'm not asking you," she retorted.

“Oh, burn, Rav. Burn," Kato stated as he pat Ravi's back.

Mick didn't seem inclined to misinterpret though, the expression on his face remaining much the same as he slid his hands into the pockets of his large brown overcoat. "No need," he said, shaking his head. "I've eaten here enough times that I'm pretty sure you have made me dinner. Feels good to help out, all that considered."

Luna pursed her lips together, but nodded. She didn't think it was quite the same, but she wasn't going to push the issue. He was right about one thing, though. It did feel good to help out, but maybe she was just being selfish about it.

“If that's the case," she began, glancing back up in Mick's direction, “would you mind helping us move a few of the flat stones over?" They weren't particularly heavy, but they would provide some comfort as a makeshift bed. Kato had been kind enough to bring them from his cousin's construction site since they weren't needed. Even if stone wasn't particularly comfortable, they could lay down some blankets to soften it for the others, especially the older homeless people who needed softer places to lay.

"I can do that," he said simply. "Just show me where you want them."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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#, as written by Aethyia


15 Asmodeus
Nishant Residence - Evening - Rainy
Soleil Nishant


Soleil moved the pot off the burner, setting the lid askew on top and draining the remaining water out. Rice was cheap, thank the rules of economy, and she and Luna tended to buy huge bags of it whenever they had a little leftover money to last them through times like this, when they really didn't. The grocery store dumpster had furnished them with a few serviceable veggies, and some cheap spices came together with the rest for a vegetable curry. It didn't even taste half bad—the spice tended to cover up any slight decay in the rest, and rice never went off. Their place was always clean, so weevils and shit weren't a concern, fortunately.

"Luna, dinner's done." She didn't have to call loudly; the walls were pretty thin. Even if her sister was napping or something, she'd hear just fine.

Setting the pot back down, she took the lid off and rinsed it before setting it in the dish drain and serving them both half the rice. The curry went on top, and she grabbed two forks—the dinged one for her and another for Luna, setting it all down at the rickety folding table and dropping into her chair.

“Coming!" Luna shouted from wherever she was. It was a moment later when she appeared, her hair wrapped in a towel. It looked like she'd just finished her shower. She grinned in Solei's direction, though, and took a seat in the other chair.

“Oh, curry! My favorite," she stated, taking a bite out of it. It was a known fact that Luna's favorite wasn't curry, but blueberry waffles. It wasn't something they could regularly afford, though. “Ugh, I'm actually kind of sore," she continued, rolling out her shoulder a bit before taking another bite of the curry.

“Pretending not to be as stupidly strong as we are has, uh, downsides," she murmured. “Anyway, what about you? How does it look on your side of things?" She had to be referring to the rest of the fees that needed to be paid, soon.

Soleil almost winced. "Dunno," she said flatly. She'd foregone paying several bills this month in an attempt to scrape together the rest, but she didn't want to deal with the water getting shut off—they both needed to shower, and it was their main source of drinking water, too. It'd be more expensive to have to compensate with the bottled kind. "Hardly anyone's been by, but..." She shrugged.

The most important part was that Luna's fee was paid. The fucker couldn't touch her. Soleil would... figure something out for herself.

"Anyway, why are you having to pretend? The Baileys doing some manual work or something?" It didn't seem likely, but the other place Luna spent her time was a soup kitchen, so... maybe they just had to move ingredient boxes or something?

Luna grimaced a little. “We've been trying to clear space for a few of the people to have better sleeping and resting areas in some of the more rundown areas of town," she began. “Kato, Ravi, and the other guys aren't always around, so it falls to Kasey, myself and at least one other hand to move some of the heavier things to the side. It's not too much heavier that three people can lift it without seeming too odd, but it's still a little odd when two of those three people aren't exactly... well, made for manual labor like that."

Luna sighed softly and took another bite of her curry, chewing it quietly before she continued, “and it might get like that with the Baileys, too. They're not as spry as they used to be, and some of the things Mrs. Bailey tries to do aren't exactly good for her health, especially at her age. They're thinking about hiring some muscle, but they're just not too sure if they can afford it."

It was obvious that something was bothering her, because she was stabbing at her food again.

Soleil hummed a noncommittal note. It was pretty much just like her sister to get involved in extra shit for people she didn't even know. It wasn't exactly surprising that doing loads of free manual labor when they specifically had to keep things about themselves hidden was causing her pain. And of course she was doing it for free. It was by turns admirable and annoying, how much of a shit Luna could manage to give about people who weren't related to her in any way. Soleil thought it was kind of foolish, but then... she'd also done everything she'd done that that Luna wouldn't be a cold bitch like she was. Wouldn't have to be.

"Don't you go volunteering," she groused. "If they Baileys need you to do extra work, they can pay you extra for it. They may be in straits but so are all of us. We need to make rent too."

Well, rent wasn't quite the right word. They owned this garbage pile of a house outright—Soleil had made sure of that. Mostly so some asshole couldn't decide to arbitrarily jack up the rent. If they could just get clear of this protection bullshit, their monthly expenses might even become both predictable and manageable.

Then she wouldn't care so much if Luna spent all her time doing work for free for people.

Luna sighed softly, taking a bite of her curry and chewing it. She stayed quiet for a moment longer before she shook her head, and set her spoon down. “I know you're right, Sol," she began, keeping her gaze on the curry in front of her. “I know we need the money to make ends meet, but..." she paused to lift her gaze.

“The supermarket down the street is hiring for part time work. I'm thinking about applying there as something extra to do," she stated, changing the subject. “They said I could come by for an interview tomorrow evening, so I won't be home until late."

Soleil just barely avoided sighing. Even if she couldn't and wouldn't, she knew Luna really valued her ability to volunteer, and putting more hours toward paying work would mean less of that. Still... it was hard to see another way out, at least not until—

The sound of the fridge whirring behind them cut off suddenly, at the same moment as the lights shut off, plunging the house into complete darkness. Soleil reached over towards one of the kitchen drawers, pulling out a stubby tea light candle and a lighter. She didn't light it yet, though—it was just in case they needed it. Fortunately, she could navigate food to her face just fine in the dark.

"Yeah, all right," she said, knowing full well that the chance of Luna landing that job was tiny. They went quickly, in a place like this, and all the advantage her sister might get for being pretty would disappear when they figured out she had no grocery experience and spent her free time feeding homeless people. For all the food that ended up in the dumpster, it was apparently not okay to hand out the extra.

"Something else bugging you?"

Luna chuckled softly. “Nothing other than the usual," she replied, which meant that the only things that were bugging her were the people who often cat-called her on her way home from work. “I take it we're behind on the light?" she stated, some form of amusement lacing her voice. She didn't sound too surprised. They were used to things like this happening.

“I'll see if the Baileys can do an advance this week. They weren't able to last time, but they might be able to, this time. If they do, where should we put it?" she asked.

"Protection fees," Soleil replied immediately. "The electric company doesn't charge fucking compound interest. We fall into that trap, we might never get out." She sighed. "Fuck him, honestly. Can't he just crawl back into whatever hole he crawled out of? Or slithered. Like a fucking snake."

Luna barked a short laugh. “He'd probably like it if we did," she joked, making a dissatisfied noise in the back of her throat. Almost sounded like she was gagging on something. “Unfortunately if it were that easy, we wouldn't have to worry about paying those stupid fees," she sighed softly, though.

“I think we're actually morbidly lucky when it comes to him. He could be a lot worse and a lot more pushy about certain things. Even if it ends up costing us more, at least he lets us pay late fees."

Soleil loved her sister, but sometimes she was painfully naïve. "That's how he gets you, Luna," she said, expelling a harsh breath through her nose. "He waits until you're desperate, and then pushes the other shit on you when it looks like your only way out. And unfortunately there's nothing easy about it when it happens that way." She has nothing against sex workers, in fact she wished they were treated better by society at large. At least as much as she thought about it.

But the conditions were shit for them, and consequently Soleil had never even considered becoming one, even if there was a certain amount of money in it. Most went back to the pimps anyway, and lots of times the 'high quality' girls had their movements restricted. The walkers were in some ways worse off still.

Luna sighed heavily. “I guess you're right," she spoke softly, returning to her food. She ate the rest of it in silence, and once she was done, she just sat in her chair. It was another few minutes before she spoke again. “I'll ask Mr. Bailey first thing in the morning about the advance. It probably won't be much, but it'll be something. After that, I'll go see about the interview. Hopefully," she paused, taking a deep breath, “it will end well and I can get that second job. Wish me luck?"

Soleil huffed softly. She wished she could say her sister didn't need luck; honestly Luna was woefully overqualified for any of the sort of work either of them could get, but this protection racket had made it impossible to continue saving for her college expenses. Maybe someday, she could get her there.

For now, though, they both needed a little luck.

"Yeah," she replied. "Good luck, Luna."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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23 Asmodeus
Nishant Residence - Evening - Raining
Lunaria Nishant


Luna stabbed at the cut fruit in front of her, pursing her lips into a fine line. Her interview at the supermarket didn't go quite as she had hoped. The manager decided he wanted to go in a different direction. Apparently the person who had interviewed before her was more qualified. Luna couldn't be angry about that part. She knew she didn't have the experience for that kind of work, but she would have taken anything. Anything that would have helped put more money on the table.

What the manager didn't say was that the person who came in before her was also his niece, or something like that. Luna couldn't remember, exactly, but she did overhear the young woman talking about her position and her uncle. Nepotism at its finest, but she couldn't be upset about it. Well, she could be, but she wasn't going to be. Sighing softly, she ran a hand down her face and grabbed her fruit plate.

“Sol, you in the garage?" she called out. She didn't want to eat all of the fruit, even if it was mostly just a few slices of pineapple and oranges. “Got some of your favorites," she continued. The only good thing that this week was providing, besides the rain, was that Mr. Bailey was able to give her an advance. It wasn't quite what they needed to cover Soleil's costs, but it was something.

"Yeah I'm here. But stop spending your advance." Her voice came out a little gruff, but that was probably just the intervening wall probably.

Entering the garage found Sol at the tiller, counting out the day's profits and cursing under her breath. There'd been whole days without business this month, more than usual, and the days where she did get something it usually turned out to be not much.

“You wound me, sis, thinking I spent my advance on this," Luna stated, feigning a hurt look on her face and placing her free hand over her heart. “I would never," she continued, offering her sister a lopsided grin. “I happened to find these in a Rogenmart shopping basket," which loosely translated to she picked them off of someone. Well, the oranges at least. Those were always easy to filch, especially if they were the smaller mandarins. The pineapple she actually paid for, but if she could procure some lemon juice, she'd be able to save the pineapple for at least a few weeks.

Lemon juice was always a good preservative, but they couldn't always afford it. “Mr. Bailey was able to give me a fifty dollar advance," she stated once she entered the garage. “How much more do we need?"

"After the hundred I paid to keep the water on?" Sol shook her head, her expression slightly pinched. It was only a subtle difference from her usual stoniness, but Luna could detect it easily. "We're still a good sixty short. Or rather, I am. Yours is paid."

“Still?" Luna asked, shaking her head. She shouldn't be surprised, really. They really had to scrape whatever they could just to get by. Who knew when Jeremy would come back to collect? They were nearing the end of the month, and they still weren't able to get enough to cover Soleil's fees. It made Luna feel a little like shit because she couldn't help her sister in the same way Soleil helped her.

“I don't think they'll give us any more time," she spoke softly, taking a seat in one of the empty chairs. “Do... you think we should try pawning or selling something?" she asked. They didn't have much to begin with, and everything they owned wasn't worth a dime, let alone the sixty dollars they were short. Anything of real value belonged to Soleil's toolkit, and she needed that.

Sol expelled a heavy breath—a sigh, though she'd probably deny it. "Don't have anything worth that much," she said, echoing Luna's thoughts. "I don't know what I'm going to do here. Maybe tomorrow I can start... calling regulars. Offer big discounts if they'll get a service done early or something. It'll hurt in the future, but it might get us through this."

It wouldn't make much of a difference either way, Luna thought. What they would be able to pay now, they wouldn't be able to pay then. Fees always crept up, and it was becoming increasingly harder to pay them. Even if Luna's part of it was paid, Soleil's wasn't, and it wasn't fair for her sister to have to shoulder that burden. She didn't blame the Baileys for not being able to provide her with hours or work, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't cutting it, and she needed to do something else.

But at the same time, the Baileys were a reliable source of income. They might not always be able to give Luna an advance, but they always did their best to pay her what she was owed for the work she did. “I'm going to start looking around town for other part time jobs. Maybe... I can find something across town, too." Going that far would be dangerous, she knew, but what else could she do?

They needed money, and they weren't making enough. Before she could say anything further, though, the bell chimed at the front door, and Luna almost let herself think it was a customer. But life wasn't fair to the Nishant sisters. He walked with a sort of arrogant grace, dressed in a black suit worth more than Luna could ever make in a single lifetime. It would likely take her four or five lifetimes if she didn't sell her soul, to be able to afford something like that.

The deep red tie contrasted with his golden hair, and his steely blue eyes narrowed in on Soleil and Luna. The smile that crossed his lips made Luna sick, and she glanced in Soleil's direction. Alastor hardly ever came to collect on something himself. He always sent Jeremy, or one of the others to do his collecting.

“Soleil and Lunaria Nishant," he began, his voice oddly smooth and gentle. It was a farce, Luna knew, and it only made her tense. “Pictures really do not do you justice, for even they cannot properly express the beauty that you exude," he stated, walking a little closer towards them. “Such a rare thing it is to see in humans, nowadays," he added as Luna stepped closer in Soleil's direction.

She could tell that her sister was stiff, wary, alert, but the anxiousness she was probably feeling didn't show an iota on her face. "That's funny," she said flatly, blinking slowly. "Jeremy was just telling me the other day that I needed to smile more. Guess you have weird taste."

Luna didn't like the way he smiled. It was almost predatory, and the amused glint in his eyes didn't seem to be a good thing for them. “Jeremy wouldn't know true beauty if it hit him in the face," he replied smoothly, shrugging his shoulders lightly. Even that looked vaguely elegant, but Luna merely kept her gaze on him.

“To what do we owe the pleasure of you personally showing up," Luna asked, though she probably shouldn't have. The way his gaze turned to her made her stomach flip, and not in a good way. He had that same smile on his face as he lifted a hand and waved in a vague, dismissive manner.

“I came to offer a solution, one that I think you might find very useful for your situation," he stated.

It was pretty easy to tell that Sol already had some idea what this solution might be. She shifted slightly, putting herself a little in front of Luna, and crossed her arms beneath her chest. "My fees are the unpaid ones, so you're talking to me. What is it?"

“It pertains to the both of you, actually," he stated, leaning back against the counter, and mirroring Soleil's stance. His arms crossed over his chest, and his grin turned into a smirk. “Like a white dove and a black raven, it would be a sort of beautiful painting if I could lock you up in a cage," he stated, the smirk on his face turning wicked.

“I promise you'll only be birds locked in a cage for all eyes to see, but you'll belong to me," he continued, and Luna felt like she'd thrown up a little in her mouth. She knew that wouldn't be all they were required to do.

“And if we refuse?" she asked, narrowing her eyes in his direction.

“Both of your fees will increase by an extra fifty dollars. This is, what, the third time you haven't been able to pay? Your fees will increase regardless, but if you accept, they'll increase by only ten dollars, instead of fifty."

Soleil's expression and posture did not change; she made no outward expressions of revulsion, but she didn't exactly look pleased, either. It was as if he'd just made a comment on the weather, except for how stiff she still was. "You have to admit that would be a big change for us," she said dully. "We'd need some time to think about it."

Alastor arched a brow at that, and pushed himself off of the counter. “You have till the end of the month to decide. If you agree, I will waive the remainder of your payment for this month, including your late fees, however; if you do not, full payment will be required, and your fees will increase," he stated. Luna felt her throat tighten at that statement.

“Don't disappoint me my little raven and dove. You'll be the most exquisite sights in the area, I can assure you, you wouldn't want for anything," he stated, winking in their direction before he left. Luna expelled a breath she didn't even know she was holding.

“That's not a lot of time, Sol," Luna stated as she turned towards her sister. They had, at best, five or six days to come up with the remaining balance of what they owed. On top of that, Alastor was going to up their fees. They could barely afford to pay their current fees; how the hell were they supposed to pay an increased fee protection?

When Alastor was gone, the tension finally bled out of Sol's frame; she gripped the counter in front of her and frowned deeply. "One day at a time, Luna. We can't do anything else. Worst case... we'll see what we can do about getting a loan using the house. There's no way in Hell you're ending up doing whatever that slimeball wants. No fucking way."

It didn't matter, though, because in the end, they needed the money. Luna could swallow whatever pride she had to do what she had to. She could. Forcing the thought from her mind, she shook her head, and placed a hand on Soleil's shoulder.

“Same goes to you; you're not working for him, either. We'll... take it one day at a time," because that's all they could do.

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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3 Be'elza
Nishant Residence - Evening - Hard Rain
Lunaria Nishant


Usually, Luna loved the rain.

There was just something about how calming it was, and she enjoyed it more than most people did. Most people didn't like the rainy days because it was always gloomy and depressing, but Luna found that she enjoyed them. They made her smile, however; today wasn't one of those days. A frown marred her lips as she closed the front door, locking the deadbolt and the other two locks before walking to the nearby chair and taking a seat into it.

They had paid Alastor the fees he was due, however; he'd decided to make another surprise visit to hear their answer. It had been a flat no from Soleil. The fucker decided that it wasn't the right answer, though, and only tsked. He'd made it quite clear last time that if they refused his offer, he was going to up their protection fees. And he did. The pay that Sol received from that demon guy had been enough to pay the late fees, and the fees for this month, however; who was to say what next month would look like? Luna didn't consider themselves especially lucky, but they had been with Sol's contract.

She still hadn't finished the job, because something or another was wrong with the car she was working on, so she hadn't been paid for that. Luna could only speculate that it might be enough to pay the fees they would need for next month, but that didn't mean much in the face of the future. She sighed heavily, shaking her head. It was so damn hard trying to find a second job. If she could, then maybe it would help. Maybe it would be enough to pay more than her measly check from the Baileys could provide. She appreciated them; she couldn't fault them for her pay.

But it was getting so damn hard. Maybe... maybe if she agreed to Alastor's proposal, it would help.

No. No, Luna, don't you dare. Sol worked too damn hard to get you here; don't you dare do that to her.

She mentally slapped herself and slid further down her chair. She could find something. She would find something. For now, they could only do their best.

“Any luck with that demon guy, what's his name, Samuel's car?" she asked, glancing in Soleil's direction.

"Samael," her sister corrected, voice distant in a way that suggested distraction. She was using their scuffed old tablet, something she'd bought off a pawn shop lady for a few bucks because it was broken. Things being broken wasn't usually much of a challenge for Sol, though. She'd had to spend a couple months accumulating the right materials, but then she'd gutted the whole thing and rebuilt it; it ran faster extranet than the sleek newer ones the Baileys had. "You know these people never have human names—why would he be called Samuel?"

She flicked a finger along the screen, eyes narrowing at what appeared to be a complicated diagram for some kind of engine part. Luna knew more than most people about those, because of her sister, but Soleil could build most parts from a pile of wires and metal, which was a different level of understanding. The picture looked like an exploded sensor array of some kind.

"And I know what the problem is. Working on fixing it. But if he wants it done right, I'm going to need to build him an entire fuel injection system, and I dunno if he'll go for that. It's expensive." She zoomed in on the schematic and clicked her tongue against her teeth, apparently finding it unsatisfactory for some reason. Dinner—red beans and rice—was already done, still warm on the stove, but Soleil didn't appear to be eating.

“Eh, sounds about the same," she replied in reference to Samael's name. It didn't sound the same at all, but Luna didn't much care. They were pretty much the same as far as she was concerned. “I mean, you can tell him how much it'll actually cost," she suggested. The guy gave them—well, Sol anyway—two credits like it was nothing. She stood from her chair and made her way towards the stove. Sol might not have been hungry, but Luna was. She grabbed one of the bowls and filled it before making her way back towards Sol.

“You saw all of his cars and where he lived, right?" it was a rhetorical question. Sol made a house call for this Samael guy, after all. “Just let him know that if he wants his car to be fixed right, it's going to be expensive." Luna knew, though, that telling a demon that wasn't exactly a smart move, but Sol had managed to make it back in one piece. Which meant that Sol had actually managed not to snark the guy, or... well, she wasn't sure.

"It's not telling him I'm worried about," she replied, brow still furrowed as she flicked through a few more schematics. "It's whether he'll believe me or think I'm trying to gouge him." She flipped the tablet around so Luna could see more of it, then pointed at a specific spot on a diagram. "This is a factory standard fuel injection system for the fucking 2442 Yrden Phaser. It's also shit. They cut a ton of corners in the construction of the sensor array—if you want to do this shit right, your microchips need medical-grade abyssium. But some corporate dickbag decided to use an abyssium-silver alloy, which means the sensors aren't sensing right and the fuel's getting mixed all wrong. I can't just order a part for another kind of hovercar, because the whole engine on these was completely redesigned. None of them will fit. So I have to build him a custom one from the ground up, and as far as he knows I'm a two-bit mechanic from the Pits."

She raised an eyebrow. "Plus it's so early for these models that this is probably the first observed case of this problem. It's not even going to be in trade mags for another couple months at the soonest. Maybe if he says no I can still write an article and send it in..."

Luna supposed Sol had a point, though she couldn't help the smile that formed on her face. Soleil was always easily excited about things like this. If these kinds of problems weren't even known yet, then it would be difficult to convince the guy that what was broken, was actually broken, though. “Why don't you show, him, then?" Luna suggested, taking a bite of her dinner.

“These guys aren't dumb by any means, so if you take the time to explain it, maybe even show him what you're talking about, maybe he'll agree to let you fix it. I can't say for sure, though, because unlike you, I haven't met the guy," and she really didn't know what his personality was like. It was unlikely that he was any different than the other demons who were all high and mighty.

"He's weird," Sol said, shrugging a little and putting the device back into a sleep state before flipping the cover closed. She seemed only then to remember that dinner was there, and served herself a small bowl, sitting back down across from Luna with a soft thud.

Luna arched a brow in Sol's direction. “Weird? Weird, how?" she asked, slightly curious as to what Sol had meant by that. It wasn't like the sisters weren't weird themselves, but for a demon to be labeled weird by Sol meant something different. Luna wasn't sure how it was different, but it was.

Sol shrugged, swallowing before she elaborated. "I dunno, just... weird. He feels kind of like a demon, but says he isn't one. When I sassed him, he uh... seemed to find it funny? Weird." She cleared her throat, eyes returning to her food.

Luna had all but stopped eating as she gave Sol a quizzical look. He found it funny when Sol sassed him? Sol sassed him and she's still alive? Luna was certain her eyes were wide with shock. How was that even possible? Most demons wouldn't have hesitated to either remind Sol who they were, or would have killed her just for doing that. But then Sol said that he felt like a demon, but claimed he wasn't one.

“So what is he, some kind of mutant worm?" she stated without really thinking about it. If he wasn't a demon, then maybe he was a cambion like Alastor was. “I mean, he has to be something if he felt like a demon, right?"

"I don't think a mutant worm would have had opinions about my ass," Sol replied bluntly, choosing that moment to take another bite of red beans. She shrugged again, though, and spoke once she'd finished chewing. "It wasn't a cambion thing, either, but like... a demon but not all the way there yet? Somehow... I dunno, like incomplete or something. Maybe he hasn't eaten any souls yet, or whatever the fuck they do. Vegetarian demon, like the vegetarian vampires in those stupid books you used to bring home from the school library and tell me about." The slight quirk of her brow was the only thing that gave away her snark for what it was.

“Don't pretend you didn't like them, either," Luna retorted easily enough, taking a large spoonful of her food into her mouth. “And you found those stupid books just as entertaining as I did," she continued once she'd swallowed her food. She loved the Dusk series; it had been one of her favorite series growing up.

"Not the vegetarians," Sol replied dryly.

“Still, I'm not entirely sure that's how being a demon works," but what did she know? They were human, or at least weird humans. “Maybe you should ask him the next time you see him since he likes your sass and ass so much," she stated, smirking lightly in her sister's direction.

"Oh yeah I see that going over real well," Soleil drawled. "'S'cuse me, Sam, but my sister and I were kind of wondering how that whole soul-eating thing works. Do you have to do it to become a demon, or is it just part of the whole deluxe world domination package? What do they taste like, anyway? Chicken?'" She rolled her eyes.

"He'd probably just flip all that hair really dramatically and tell me I got to find out by being dinner or some shit. He's extra enough to do it."

She couldn't help herself. Luna laughed at how casually she referred to Samael as Sam. Almost like they were old friends, somehow. It was just too funny. Once she caught her breath, though, she pushed a soft gust of air through her nose, and shook her head.

“Hm, well, seems more and more like something you could ask him if the most dramatic thing he's going to do is flip his hair," she stated, leaning back in her chair a bit. “You could just ask him what he meant when he said he wasn't a demon. Very innocent like, and maybe shake your ass a bit, like this," Luna stated, doing her best to shake her own, but failed in her chair.

"Wow Luna, I think if you used those seduction skills on Zinoviev he might actually leave us alone forever."

“You think I should try it the next time he comes over?"

"No. If I have to see it again I might die from proxy embarrassment."

“Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad."

"You didn't even see it; how would you know?"

“I felt it."

"I'm so sorry. That must have been traumatic."

“Yeah, well you had to see it so that might actually be worse."

"I'm glad you understand. Now you know why you shouldn't do it again."

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Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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10 Be'elza
Baileys' Office - Afternoon - Cloudy
Lunaria Nishant


Luna tapped the pen against her chin, resisting the urge to let out a sigh. Being responsible for doing most of the filing wasn't an egregious thing, but sometimes she wondered if the Baileys ever read their files and invoices. The one she was currently looking at was an invoice for some minor cosmetic restoration on one of their buildings, however; there were charges on it that weren't even part of the work the company was supposed to do.

The charges weren't exactly a small amount, either.

They were charging nearly a demon's credit worth of things. All they were supposed to do was paint the walls, fix a few of the concrete cracks, and be done. Instead, it looked like they had done a major rehaul of the flooring, tore down a wall only to rebuild it, and replaced a few of the windows that had been brand new. She knew they were because she had ordered those personally. There had been nothing wrong with them. This was just taking advantage of someone while not even bothering to hide the fact that they were taking advantage.

If that's what they wanted to do, they could have just called the Baileys, claimed that something was wrong, and say that they needed it fixed immediately or their building wouldn't pass inspection. Hell, all they had to say was that it wouldn't pass inspection and they would have had it fixed without questioning it. The sale and renting of the buildings they owned was their lifesource. It was the only way they made any kind of money. The only way they could afford to pay Luna what they did.

And even then it wasn't much. Robert and Ida were incredibly nice people, and they always undercharged for their rent. If Luna recalled correctly, there was one family of five living in a one bedroom that paid only twenty five dollars a week. If they couldn't pay for whatever reason, the Baileys wouldn't charge them late fees, and only told them to pay what they could, and try to make the amount next time.

Luna couldn't hold back the sigh this time, and placed the invoice to the side. She would worry about it later since the payment wasn't due until next month.

“Mrs. Bailey, do you know if any of the buildings are going to require any inspections this month? I'll need to schedule the contractor if so," she called out, lifting her head towards the older woman. Robert was currently out of the office, getting lunch for both Ida and Luna from the hot dog cart down the street. It wasn't often that he did, but something about making a potential sell meant that he could splurge just a little bit.

Ida poked her head out from her squashed little office, squinting a little before she remembered to put her half-circle spectacles back on her face. They were usually left dangling from her neck by a beaded chain, as she didn't need them for close-up things, which was most of what they did. “What was that, dear? Oh, inspections. Hm, let me see..."

She disappeared, then reappeared a few long moments later, shuffling around to Luna's desk with a file folder clutched in her wrinkled hands. “Let's see... inspections, Be'elza 2441... yes it looks like we have two properties scheduled for inspection this month, though... oh." Her mouth turned down a little. “One of them is the West Street office building. Hm." This seemed to be an unhappy circumstance, just based on her tone.

Luna arched a confused brow in Ida's direction. “Isn't the West Street office abandoned?" she asked. If that was the case, it shouldn't be a problem to get someone scheduled to inspect it. They could probably get someone to do it either today or tomorrow since they wouldn't have to give any notices to residents to vacate for a couple of hours.

Ida pursed her lips, looking far more concerned than the situation warranted. “Well, yes, but... that's just the thing. Robert and I tried developing that one a while ago, but it was just too expensive to be worth it, and we wouldn't get much for selling it either, so we've just..." She made a faintly-distressed noise. “Well to put it directly, if the inspector went now, they'd find a reasonable number of transient folk occupying it, and that would be trouble for everyone involved, I think."

Ah, so that was the problem.

Luna offered Ida a small smile and nodded her head in understanding. While technically the building belonged to the Baileys, the city mostly had control of who should and shouldn't be inside of it. It was a stupid law meant to keep people who had no place to call home, out on the streets. If she didn't know any better, Luna would have suspected that it was the demons' way of weeding out those who were too stubborn to sell their souls. Why would they want to keep people like that alive if they weren't going to be useful in some way or another?

“I can do it for you and Robert if you'd like," the words were out of her mouth before she realized what she'd said. She could almost hear Sol sighing heavily at her, and Luna couldn't honestly blame her. She could blame her damn heart, though, and why it cared so much about people.

“If you give me a list of the things I need to look for specifically, I can inspect the building and send the report to the proper sources," she continued.

Ida's expression softened a bit. “Well you don't have an inspection license, dear, so we'd only be putting the real thing off for a few months, but... I suppose for now that is the best option. When you go, can you let them know that the official inspection will be next Belphegora? I hate putting anyone out, but it's better if they don't encounter the inspectors, I think. Not to mention the fines..." She grimaced.

Luna grimaced alongside her. The fees would be way worse if the inspectors found the homeless there rather than if there was some zoning law they weren't following. And it wasn't like they were getting kicked out, permanently. It was only a temporary solution.

“I'd be more than happy to do it, regardless. I'll see about scheduling the actual inspection for next month after I assure the current occupants that they don't have to worry about leaving. At least not permanently and only for a couple of hours at most," she stated. It warmed her heart a little to do small things like this for people. Maybe she should file for a temporary inspection license? She could learn what was needed and borrow a few books from the library so she could do things like this when it was required.

“No need to make it so soon as next month," Ida said, nodding a little. “As I said, we can push the official one back to Belphegora, as long as we know there aren't any major hazards in the building. You might want to ask the residents; I'm sure they have a better idea what needs fixing than we would."

“Assuming they'd even talk to me to begin with," Luna stated with a wry smile. It wasn't that she couldn't get them to talk to her, but getting them to trust her enough to actually tell her what was wrong and what needed to be fixed was another matter. People weren't naturally trusting, and Luna couldn't fault them for that. After all, who would trust someone who says they aren't there to kick them out? For all they know, Luna could just be a pretty face to lure them into a false sense of security before dragging the rug from underneath them.

Not that she actually would; she wasn't a monster.

“I'll do what I can, though, to make sure that if there at least visible signs of distress, I'll let you and Mr. Bailey know."

“Ah, thank you, dear. That's much appreciated. Robert and I will have to try to find a little something extra to put in your check. Maybe we can get you the inspection fee we would have paid this month..." Already trailing off into thought, Ida shuffled back in the direction of her office.

“Thanks, Mrs. Bailey," she stated. She really didn't do it for the extra money, but if she said no to it, Sol would likely strangle her. They needed the money, and if Mrs. Bailey was going to pay her a little extra for the extra work she was going to do... she could take it this once.

“When should I do it? Today? Tomorrow?"

“Yes, please." Clearly Ida was already halfway somewhere else. She tended to get distracted easily; according to Robert she'd always been like that.

Luna sighed heavily and pursed her lips together. “That wasn't exactly a clear answer," she muttered beneath her breath. “I'll get to it, then," she called after Ida. If she did it today, it would save her some time. Plus, it was still nice outside and she'd be able to get a good look at everything without having to worry about getting rained on or something.

“Once I'm done, I'll compile all of the information for you and Mr. Bailey tomorrow. Have a good afternoon, Mrs. Bailey!" she called out, grabbing her brown tattered coat, and slipping it on. Now, to see about this building and its occupants.

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Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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#, as written by Aethyia


10 Be'elza
West Street Office Park - Late Afternoon - Drizzle
Michael Asmund


Mick sat back on the bench, one leg crossed over the other, arms splayed over the backrest, face turned up towards the sky. It was raining, but only barely, tiny spots of drizzle occasionally flicking the parts of his face not insulated by scruff.

Have you heard what the humans call it when it rains lightly like this? Angel tears. Isn't that quaint?

He snorted softly, cracking his eyes open and studying the grey slate overhead. His back itched; he shifted it slightly against the back of the bench, figuring he probably looked like a bear in the woods. But that was all right. No one bothered him, that way. The people he cared to help knew he would if they asked, insofar as he was able, and everyone else left him the Hell alone. That was about as good as life was going to get from here on out, and he was okay with that.

At least nobody depended on him this way.

He felt the corners of his mouth pull down as a new presence entered his awareness. A very memorable one, but not anything he wanted to remember. A nephilim was like... a flame held to the fingers. Or a fragment of the song of the spheres, when you knew you'd forgotten the whole song. She in particular was... well, it was a light strain of the melody, to be sure, in the major key, and the fire wasn't really the burning kind. That didn't make it any better.

He closed his eyes again. Maybe she'd just pass him by without saying anything. That would be nice.

“I really wish Mrs. Bailey would have at least made the address a little more legible," she muttered lowly as she did, indeed, begin to pass him. There was a slight ruffling sound as if she were moving a piece of paper around, however; her footsteps came to a stop.

“Mick?" she sounded almost unsure if it was him or not until the raindrops were no longer falling on his face. “It's going to start raining more; you shouldn't be outside like this unless you wanted to catch a cold or something," she stated, seemingly recognizing him.

When he opened his eyes, there was a dotted black and white umbrella blocking the sky. He suppressed the urge to sigh, shifting his eyes slightly over to look her in the face. "Looking for someplace?" he asked, making no comment on her remark about the weather. He was out in the rain plenty, considering he didn't have any permanent place to live. He had a shelter inside that derelict office building, but more often than not someone else was in it, because everyone knew that Mick's stuff was free for other people to use as long as you were polite about it.

Plus he couldn't get sick.

Her brows knit together, but she nodded her head. “I'm looking for the West Street office building. Do you happen to know where it is?" she asked, leaning back a bit. “I'm supposed to let the occupants know that there will be a formal inspection in Belphegora. There was also a concern that it might need some work just in case something isn't safe for those currently using it," she added, smiling just a bit.

"Well, this is the West Street Office Park, so you're heading the right way." Mick straightened a little, sitting up properly and regarding her a little more keenly. Honestly the place hardly deserved the name 'park,' being more of a plaza with a couple stunted trees, but they were trying hard. He liked them.

More to the point, the building she wanted was currently very illegally occupied. He didn't think she was here to make trouble about it, but there were only so many reasons to be looking for a place like that. He had to be sure. "You know who the residents are, right?" It wasn't quite an accusatory question, but there was a little wariness there, beneath his unruffled demeanor.

“I'm quite aware that the people living there are doing so illegally, but the Baileys do not mind. They just want to let the people know that they shouldn't be there when the actual inspection happens so that they don't get in trouble, and that they are welcome to return once it's over. It's also my job to make sure everything is working properly so that the people here are comfortable. If something needs to be repaired, we'd like to know so it can be."

He bought that the Baileys wanted to make sure the building wouldn't collapse, but repairing things in a derelict building so the homeless inside could use them? He doubted it. She might have read tat into whatever they said, but Mick had been around the block enough times to know that it wasn't going to happen. The Baileys weren't bad people, but they were pretty well-off for humans. And humans didn't get anything other than dirt-poor unless they strictly limited their generosity.

Mick considered just pointing out the right building and letting her have at it, but that was mean-spirited even for him. Pretty face and clean clothes like that wouldn't get two feet into that place without someone either trying to chase her out or take her shit. Running a hand down his face, he suppressed a sigh and stood. Sometimes he wished his body creaked, that he felt sore or physically tired, instead of just this constant state of mental exhaustion and apathy that never translated. But he was as fluid and able as ever. Well, almost.

Sometimes it made him think he'd just imagined it all, and in those moments between sleep and full wakefulness he'd have to remember all over again that it was real.

"Follow me." He stepped out from under her umbrella—it'd be pointless for her to try and use it to protect them both from the rain, even if she were inclined to such kindnesses, so he precluded the issue beforehand. "It's this one over here."

“Oh, thanks," she stated, clearly surprised that he was going to show her where it was. “I haven't seen you since the last time at the kitchen," she began, glancing up towards him as if to make small talk. She furrowed her brows as if what she was going to say next might not be quite what she was looking for.

“I'd ask if you're doing alright but... well, it might be kind of moot all things considered," she stated, a wry smile forming on her face. “I guess I should ask something along the lines of is there anything you might need, or some of the others might? I think Sol has an old coat that might fit you, but if it doesn't, it might fit someone else?"

Mick blinked, glancing at her sideways before shaking his head. "Actually it's not moot for most people," he said, shrugging his massive shoulders. "We're still people even if we don't have much of a place to live. A lot of us work, or have hobbies, or take care of pets, or all kinds of stuff like that. You don't have to keep asking us if we need things."

He understood that it wasn't ill-meant, but sometimes it rubbed him the wrong way a little. What didn't? But what all of these people needed was money, or a permanent address, and she couldn't give them that shit. Not her fault, but after a while he wondered how much anyone really saw them. He'd been wearing the same big coat he was wearing today when she saw him last, after all—why would he need another one?

He stepped inside the office building first, holding the door for her to come in after. It smelled a lot like wet dog—Jim had probably brought the strays in again. He didn't like leaving them out in bad weather. Arrayed before them was a vista of blanket tents, some of them made of little more than chicken wire and newspaper, irregular shapes and colors giving the place an air of disorder. Margie was sitting out in front of one of them near the front, using two sharpened wooden dowels to knit a scraggly ball of pink yarn. Her eyes narrowed at the woman behind Mick, but she offered him a gap-toothed smile.

"Didn't think I'd be seein' you again for a week or two, Mick. Need a mat?"

Mick shook his head. "I'm all right, Margie. Just here to escort her." He tipped his head towards Lunaria. She could explain herself—that wasn't his job.

Lunaria cleared her throat a bit awkwardly, perhaps having caught the way Margie's eyes narrowed in her direction. “I'm Lunaria Nishant," she introduced herself first, stepping to the right side of Mick. “I work for Mr. Robert and Mrs. Ida Bailey. They own this building," she continued, offering Margie a small smile.

“I'm just here to inspect it to make sure it's up to code and that nothing is in danger of falling apart. The Baileys also wanted me to let you all know that there will be a formal inspection happening in mid-Belphegora, and that you might not want to be here when it does happen. You're more than welcome to come back once the inspection is over, though. The Baileys are not trying to make you leave. They just don't want you all to get in trouble if the inspector catches you all here."

“Since you know this place better than I do, is there anything you can tell me about it? Anything that's out of the ordinary or might be in danger of falling down or apart?" she asked, keeping her gaze on Margie.

Margie blinked at her, then shifted her eyes to Mick, the expression on her face conveying her skepticism perfectly well. He nodded slightly, and she snorted.

"Girlie, the building's called derelict for a reason. It's standing, but that's about it. The elevator's broken, so a lot of us can't go upstairs. You head up that way, be careful." She shrugged and went back to her knitting.

"Anyone who lives further up does it because they want to be left alone," Mick explained. "Only thing that makes climbing loads of rickety stairs worth it, if anything does." He shrugged. "There anything you need to see to do this? Bathroom or what-have-you?"

She glanced up at him, brows slightly knitted as if she were thinking about something. “Well I have to inspect the entire building," she stated softly. “I'll have to see everything to make sure things are at least up to code. If they aren't, chances are the city will try to make this a condemned building and make it so that the Baileys have no choice but to tear it down. We don't want it to come to that."

“It shouldn't take me too long if it is up to code. I'll try to be as quick as I can so I don't disturb you any more than I have to," she continued, glancing towards the left side of her. “If that's the case with the top, though, I'd rather not disturb those who don't want to be," she pursed her lips together as if she were thinking out loud. “I can just check the general foundation and make sure that it's at least stable and that anything that needs to be fixed will at least get looked at."

The question had been asked mostly to get her to pick a starting point. In the absence of that, Mick sighed under his breath. "Well if you want to check the foundations, let's head back outside first. Margie, if you can get everyone to move their stuff far enough away from the walls that Ms. Nishant can walk the perimeter, I'd appreciate it."

She didn't look entirely pleased; that was a lot of moving. But he knew it was necessary for the structural assessment the girl wanted to make, and Margie probably sensed it. He could just tell her that the building wasn't currently in any danger of falling down, but then she'd want to know how he knew that, and it wasn't something Mick could just explain.

Heading back out, he held the door behind him again and paused for her to figure out the umbrella again before beginning a counterclockwise circle around the building. It was big enough that it'd probably take a while, but Mick kept quiet. To let her do her work, but mostly because he just didn't have anything to say.

She didn't seem to mind regardless, and held her notepad closer to her to shield it from the light rain. She would occasionally mark something down on it, hum some satsified note, before moving to another section of the building. In total, it took twenty minutes for her to assess the building, perhaps because she had wanted to be thorough.

“Nothing seems to be wrong at the moment," she murmured more to herself than to Mick. “But there is a slight crack that might become a problem if it's not dealt with properly. I can ask the Baileys to get that fixed, but..." she pursed her lips in confusion before shaking her head.

“Thanks for the escort?" she seemed unsure of the word. “I'm mostly done with this, but... I have a question for you," she started, glancing up in Mick's direction. “It's not much, and I can probably get the funds to do it myself, but... do you think they might benefit from rainwater barrels? That way they could at least collect the rainwater for themselves and use it? I know it can't be used for drinking, but they could use it as a means to clean, or even if they had a small garden to attend to, they could..." she paused and shook her head.

“Sorry," she apologized. “I'll write this report up and be out of the way, soon."

Part of him wanted to tell her to go ask them what they needed, but he did understand that to her, he was one of them. And there were certain ways in which he was. He slept rough as anybody, when he slept, had nothing but the clothes on his back and a small satchel of possessions to his name, and a few local stray animals who followed him around sometimes.

But the truth was, he wasn't in any danger of starvation, of disease or death. He didn't feel discomforts the same way. He felt them, to be sure, but not the fear they could put in people. He didn't have to live with that, and it meant, in some important sense, he didn't suffer the same way they did.

He'd listened, over the years. Really listened, to what people were worried about and wanted. And he knew because of that that her ideas weren't bad—it was just that they wouldn't work.

"Anything like that has to be installed," he pointed out. A proper rain barrel wasn't just a barrel; it was a feature of a building. And without the heavy filtering that even the most basic home plumbing system had, even bathing had a certain risk of making people sick. Not as high as ingestion, but enough that it was better to bathe at a shelter. Of course... he could and did occasionally make sure some other source of water was clean, but he couldn't make that obvious. "Especially a garden. And that's not something you can just tear out when the real inspector comes by, you know?"

Mick paused, suppressing a sigh. He shouldn't be bothering, but... "But if there was something like that at the shelter, and you let people take food away with them, some of that would eventually reach the people who don't come for meals. And the ones who take it wouldn't feel as guilty if they could contribute to the garden. Assuming you can find decent seeds and soil for less than an arm and a leg." That alone was doubtful.

Her eyes widened a bit at the suggestion with a bit of warmth to them. “I can see what I can do about getting something like that set up. I can save what little I can, and maybe I can have Sol build me a decent garden box," she stated, turning over the notepad and writing something down. “She can probably make one that's a little more self-sufficient if I can find her the right parts. Oh, there's a junkyard not too far from here that if I'm careful, I can..." she seemed to be talking mostly to herself at this point, writing a few more things down before turning back to Mick with a smile on her face.

“Thanks, Mick," she stated, “I'd... uh, I'd give you a hug as thanks for the suggestions but I'm not sure you'd want me to, so," she continued, holding out her hand in a clenched manner. “Sol says fist bumps are easier to do."

This girl could not read a room for the life of her, could she? He knew that everything he'd done thus far carried the weight of somewhat-disgruntled reluctance, because that was pretty much how he felt about it. Or, well, he felt a little more than that, but he was still polite enough not to be outright rude. But here she was, acting like this had been the friendly guided tour. Was she just oblivious or what? How on earth had she survived this long if she was?

It came to mind to refuse her gesture, and he did leave his hands in his pockets for several beats too long, staring with faint incredulity at her extended fist.

They're perfect, don't you think? I never imagined this, but—maybe in some way it was all worth it, after all.

With a heavy sigh, he pulled one hand out of his pocket and knocked a heavy, callused fist gently against hers.

She smiled nonetheless, and pulled her fist away, seemingly satisfied with the gesture. “I'll see about getting that garden started at the shelter, and with any luck, we can have a decent one by Leviathanus. Hopefully sooner than that, but I'm not going to push my luck," she stated, shifting so that she was holding the umbrella properly.

“I'll see you around the shelter, Mick. Thanks again for the help," she stated, shifting the notepad back under her arm.

"Sure, kid. Whatever you say."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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18 Be'elza
Nishant Residence - Early Evening - Thunderstorm
Lunaria Nishant


Thunderstorms were usually a hit or miss for Luna. Not because she had anything against the weather itself, rain pouring down harshly was always a good way to just relax. It was moreso the fact that sometimes the lightning struck at just the right angle that it caused the power to go out. Luckily, it hadn't reached that point, yet, and she was able to throw something together for dinner. Sol was in the garage, playing with her new materials that Samael had gotten for her. Or rather, the materials Sol needed to fix his car.

“Sol, dinner's ready," she called out into the garage, poking her head inside to see if she could spot Soleil. “It's rice balls stuffed with pickled plums," she added. It was called umeboshi, if she remembered, having seen it passing by the Neo Tokyo restaurant. With the extra money Soleil was able to get from her employer, Luna thought it might have been something to try. It couldn't be worse than most of the things they've eaten before, after all.

Though she could definitely hear her sister moving around in the garage, there was no answer. Perhaps she hadn't heard? Soleil could sometimes get so absorbed in her work that she kind of forgot to pay attention to her surroundings.

“And this is why I made dinner today," Luna mumured to herself, shaking her head and ducking back into the kitchen. She placed the rice balls on a large plate, enough for both her and Sol, before making her way back to the garage. “Soleil Nishant, where the hell are you," she stated rather loudly as she kicked the door open. It wasn't enough to break the thing; that wasn't her intention, and she wasn't necessarily yelling.

“If you don't come eat this, I swear I'm going to find you and shove it down your face hole," she continued. It wasn't exactly a threat, but Sol needed to eat, too. She'd been working almost nonstop all day.

"Go away," her sister mumbled, shaking her head. She was looking down at a pile of components, sorting them rather efficiently, it seemed. Before Luna had issued her threat of sorts, she could have sworn her sister was... smiling? Just the slightest bit. "I'm not hungry."

“Sometimes I wonder which one of us is actually the older sibling," Luna mumbled, shaking her head softly before grabbing a chair and making her way back towards Sol. “Hungry or not, you should at least take a little break. We're not indestructible, you know. Even you need to eat and your toys aren't going anywhere. These are so you can eat and work at the same time, see?" she stated, grabbing one of the triangular shaped rice balls, and shoving it in Sol's direction.

“And you can tell me all about your newest project. I'm all ears," she added.

With a distinctly-exasperated ugh, Soleil broke one of the rice balls into thirds, jamming the first one into her mouth and turning her back on Luna to keep at... whatever she was doing while she chewed. "You're a fucking nag; I can take care of myself," she grumbled around the food. "And my project is what I told you it is—I'm building Samael a fuel injection system for his Phaser."

“You're damn right I'm a fucking nag," Luna replied as she grinned in Sol's direction, even though Sol's back was towards her. “And I know you're building Sam a new system for his Phaser," she added, rolling her eyes a bit. “What I meant is, how is it going? Is it going to be much longer before you're finished?" Luna might not be quite the whiz when it came to cars like Sol was, but that didn't mean she didn't find the things her sister did somewhat interesting.

"It'd be less long if someone didn't keep making me eat," she replied, taking another bite of the food and returning to her work. She had several thin lengths of wire that she was trimming to be of equal sizes; it looked like her soldering iron was warming up on the bench, too. "It's going well though. I finished the prototype yesterday and did a bunch of tests overnight, so now I'm starting the final build. Gotta get this perfectly." The last part, she murmurs to herself more than to Luna; it's easy to tell from her soft volume.

Luna rolled her eyes lightly at Sol's first statement. Sure, they could go a few days without eating if they had to, however; at the current moment, they didn't. Sol's job was more laborious than Luna's was, and despite whatever strange humans they were, they still needed to eat to keep themselves from passing out from lack of ratio of food and work.

“Yeah, alright," she stated. She wasn't going to distract Sol from working any longer, but that didn't mean she was going to leave, either. Sol could work perfectly fine with Luna in the garage, and with that in mind, she took a bite of her own rice ball. Immediately Luna wrinkled her nose. She hadn't expected it to be that sour. Maybe it was the pickled plum that did it? She shook her head slightly, though, and glanced in Sol's direction. She'd eaten it like it was just another dish for the night. Well... she made the damn thing, might as well keep eating it.

“Once you get that perfectly," she began, taking another bite of her food, “are you going to make sure it runs right in the actual car?" Sol had told her about the 2441 Yrden test drive that Samael let her do. She could only surmise that Samael was going to let her do it again with the newer version.

The corner of Soleil's mouth turned up a little. "Yeah," she said, the single syllable somehow not nearly as flat as her sister's tone of voice usually was. "Yeah I am. I get to drive a brand-new Phaser, Luna. With a part I designed and built from scratch." She looked like she was fighting to keep the smile from growing any bigger.

Luna was a little more expressive than her sister, and allowed the grin on her face to widen. “And I bet it's going to be awesome," she stated, nodding her head sagely before taking another bite of her food. “You're lucky, you know that. This Samael guy seems to be giving you exactly what you need in order for you to do your shit, right the first time. I'm surprised he wasn't a little more... difficult about it." Most demons were either too proud to admit that something was wrong with something they owned, or were too proud to have a human service their things.

“It seems like you'll actually be able to charge him what your work is worth, too, which will be nice, right?"

Soleil nodded. "Yeah. He's—" she paused, eyes narrowing faintly as she searched for a word, probably. "I really don't know what to think of him. He really didn't need to let me do that test drive. Or come with, which he did. I guess I could understand if he didn't trust me not to steal it or something, but... I don't think that was it. He was acting even weirder than usual by the end. Like he was kind of drunk or something." She shook her head, then shrugged before looking back down at her work.

"Anyway, I'm pretty sure he'd pay me whatever I told him to."

“And you're sure he wasn't drinking anything before you showed up?" Luna asked. It was weird, for sure. A demon, or whatever the Hell he was, who just let a human test drive a very fancy car without rhyme or reason was a very strange thing, indeed. If Sol was confident that he'd pay her whatever she told him to, then there had to be something. There had to be a catch for him letting Sol do basically whatever she thought would fix his problem without at least wanting her soul or something.

“I know you will be, but still... be careful around him. It might be that he's trying to get your soul by being exceedingly nice," she stated. Soleil and Luna weren't cynical without good reason. Anything that was good for them was bound to turn upside down one way or another.

“Speaking of," she added, as something came to mind. “Do you remember Jax? I heard he's gone missing." He had been a long-time volunteer for the shelter, and occasionally passed by the shop to have something fixed. “Do you remember the last time he was here?" she asked. The last time Luna had seen him at the shelters was about a week ago. That didn't mean he might have stopped here when she wasn't around.

The shift in topic brought about a shift in Sol as well; her sister's face dropped back into its neutral, stony cast, with a faint knit to her brow. "I think I last saw him... three weeks ago. He wanted me to fix his mom's sink. He's missing?"

Luna nodded her head and sighed. “Yeah. No one at the shelter has heard from him, and his mom came by asking if we'd seen him about three days ago." It wasn't a common occurrence when someone disappeared. It was either one of two things: they were dead, or they reneged on their contract. The latter was very rare, and the former happened occasionally. People either were murdered, starved to death, or there was an accident of some kind.

“I just thought maybe he'd have passed by here and would have said something to you."

Sol shook her head. "Sorry Luna. I haven't heard of or seen him since then." Soleil didn't tend to really get attached to people; honestly as far as Luna could tell she didn't even like most of them. But she never berated Luna for caring more than she did, or trying to make friends, or anything like that. "Has his mom filed a report?"

Those were damn near useless and they both well knew it, but at least if they found his body or something they'd say so to his mother. Better than not knowing.

“Probably," she answered. “If he hasn't been seen in nearly a week, I think she can file for a missing persons report right about now. It just depends on how high a priority they make it. You know those in Tartarus PD don't usually care if some human disappears," she felt herself frown at the statement. It was a fact that no one really cared about a missing human. There were so many open cases, after all.

“I just hope nothing bad happened to him." He was a good guy insofar as Luna could tell.

"Hm." Evidently, Sol was skeptical of that possibility, but she said nothing further on the matter.

“Thanks for the reassurance, Sol," Luna stated, but she didn't mean anything by it. She knew how Sol was, and she couldn't fault her sister for it. Life was hard; that was a fact. Still, one of these days, Sol was going to care about someone who wasn't Luna or herself, and Luna would be damned if she missed it.

“So... how was dinner? Should I put it in the line up or scratch it?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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#, as written by Aethyia


24 Be'elza
Nishant Residence - Evening - Rainy
Soleil Nishant


The garage was mercifully quiet at this time of night. It was past usual business hours, not quite into the full swing of nightlife, not that there was much of that right around here to begin with. Luna had come and gone with dinner a while ago, meaning that Soleil was free to work to her heart's content on her project.

She knew, abstractly, that she was more than a little strange for deriving so much satisfaction from things like this, but... she'd always liked to tinker. To break things down and rebuild them, and then, when she knew how they worked and why, to do it again, but build them better this time. It was maybe the one thing in all the world that didn't make her feel stupid or inadequate. And when she was working like this, she didn't have to think about anything but the work itself, and the work made sense to her, in a way the rest of the world never quite had. She'd learned the rules—never show weakness, keep your back to the wall, trust no one—but that didn't mean she'd ever quite felt that she fit, because frankly she didn't.

But machine parts were logical, and when she was working with them, she could be, too.

The rain was a quiet background soundtrack to her work, white noise that helped her concentrate while she moved delicate parts into their places. She'd have used Samael's equipment for this, but he hadn't requested her back, and she didn't want to go uninvited before she was done, no matter what he said about using his things. Trust no one, after all, even weird fallen angels who let you drive their fancy cars for no reason.

Maybe especially them.

Moving the gooseneck with the large magnifying glass so she could see better, Soleil adjusted the overhead light, which was just a torch that she'd attached to another gooseneck, and picked her tweezers back up. There were more specialized tools, for sure, but these were what she had to work with. She knew she could do it, if she was careful.

The sound of something clattering on the floor filled the noise, and Luna cursed loud enough that Soleil could hear it. Some shuffling around, and a squeaky door opening led to a rather irate-looking Luna re-entering the garage.

“Why is he here right now? The fees have been paid for this month, and it's way too early for him to be here to collect for next month's." It was obvious enough who the he Luna was referring to. Alastor was nearby and headed towards the shop.

God fucking dammit.

That was another of the rules: the world would never, ever leave her alone. Not for a few hours to work on her project, not for a few weeks to not have to worry about Zinoviev and his weird obsession. Closing her eyes for a moment, she released a long, slow breath before cracking them open again.

"I don't know," she said flatly, moving to put the more delicate pieces of her work away in the nearest drawer. She didn't need that fucker's goons breaking anything to make a point. She'd fucking go at them if they tried, and she really didn't want it to come to that. "But I suppose we're about to find out."

Luna pushed a deep sigh through her nose and slumped her shoulders a bit. “Why is he being so persistent? We've already given him our answer," she murmured softly before glancing in the direction of the shop door. The handle turned and the door opened to reveal Alastor, dressed as he always was in a fine black suit with a charcoal grey tie. He was the only one to enter the garage, though.

“My lovely Nishants, how good it is to see you again," he stated, cracking a large smile as if he were trying to seem benign. Luna stepped closer in Soleil's direction as Alastor held up his fingers in a frame like gesture. “Always such a sight when the two of you stand next to each other. It's like night and day in physical form," he continued, dropping his hands to his sides.

"What do you want, Zinoviev?" Soleil asked it flatly. She generally had a policy of trying to be reasonably well-mannered around people who could kill her, but honestly she was pretty sure that would be his last resort. He wanted something else from them, obviously, and he'd come because he thought he had some way to get it. If she had to guess, fee hike. She was already tired of his shit and he hadn't even said what it was yet.

Plus, he made her skin crawl. And not the same way Samael did.

Alastor didn't bother to hide the way his eyes roamed over both Luna and Soleil at the statement, and arched a brow. “What I've always wanted," he stated, crossing his arms over his chest. “Both of you in my employ. From the way you were able to pay both your over-due fees and next month's fees," he began, eyes landing just below Luna's face before he turned back to Soleil, “I'd say you have access to some advanced funds."

“Starting on the first of Victorianus, your fees will be increased to four hundred, each. The month after that will increase again another fifty dollars. Every month after that, will be another fifty dollars. If, however, you decide that you don't want to keep paying an increase..." he drawled out, making it quite obvious as to what he meant. Work for him, and the fees won't increase, but if they didn't, the fees would keep increasing every month.

“You can't be serious," Luna stated, huffing in a manner of disbelief. “We can't afford that and you know it! Now you're just trying to force our hand," she continued as Alastor narrowed his eyes slightly.

“I am a business man, first and foremost, Lunaria. I am an acquirer of fine art, second."

Part of her just wanted to clock him in the jaw. It was an increasingly-large part, as he unraveled the new 'terms' in front of them. It'd be so easy; cambion or not, she knew the first couple would take him by surprise. No one expected Soleil to be a brawler, maybe because of her face.

But she set her jaw instead. Satisfying as it might be to make him feel a touch of the fear and panic he induced in them, it wouldn't last. He was a cambion, and she just a human. She didn't need him fighting back, or more to the point, setting his goons or the cops on them. They'd never manage to scrape it together if one of them was in jail.

Next to that, the fact that his eyes were a palpable, slimy weight barely even registered. She'd never much cared that people looked, because there was no stopping it. She felt like they could just sense that she was some kind of freak of nature, and that had more to do with it than any supposed nice feature, however they talked about it. Luna was pretty. Soleil was just... well, whatever. It didn't matter. It was apparently not enough to stop him wanting her in his sick little birdcage, too, for the set as it were.

Even if he'd only been after her sister, she'd have fought it just as hard.

"Get out of our house," she said dully. "It's after dark and you're trespassing with no witnesses. I might be willing to take a chance on a stand my ground defense. You don't look too much like a demon at first glance, so how would I know any better?"

Alastor made a tsking sound, and shook his head. “Resorting to violence, now? Is that any way to treat a friend?" he stated, unfolding his arms and leveling his gaze with Soleil. “Unfortunately I do not carry my father's, ah, charms, but surely even you aren't that dense," he continued, shaking his head. “It pains me to hear your answer is so set, but it will change. Soon, you will see that what I offer is far more than you will ever get, and you and your sister will live much more fulfilled lives."

With a light wave of his hand, he turned towards the door and exited. Luna expelled a breath and slumped in her spot towards the ground.

“He's never going to give up, is he?" it sounded more like a statement than an actual question. “What are we going to do, Sol? We... we can't afford those increases."

"I don't know, Luna," she admits, crossing her arms and shaking her head. "But he's giving us no choice. We're going to have to do something, and keeping quiet and paying the guy isn't an option anymore." He himself had taken it away, what with the extortionate increases that made it simply impossible.

But now he's really pissed her off, and she's not just going to go quietly to his fucking brothel. She doesn't know what she can do yet, but she has to do something. She didn't spend most of her life scraping and working her ass off for Luna to end up in a situation like that.

This means war, now, even if she doesn't know how to fight one yet.

Luna nodded dejectedly before glancing in Soleil's direction. “In the mean time, I'll see if the Baileys can give me more hours, and... take the train to the other side of town to see about another job," she murmured before standing up from her spot. “Until... something better comes along, we'll just have to figure out what to do about Alastor. It would be convenient if someone could just make him disappear. No one would care if he did."

"You meet anyone who might not mind taking out a cambion, let me know," Soleil replied. "I might be willing to go into debt for that." She was only kind of joking.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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26 Be'elza
The Pits - Mid Afternoon - Rain
Samael Lennox


The things that Samael did for talent were not many. He didn't chase after it; didn't horde it, either, but this. Coming to the Pits just to hire a mechanic? This was a whole new level of wanting something and coming to get it himself. And it wasn't necessarily something that he wanted. It was a person with considerable skill for all things mechanical; he would admit that much. That was only a small reason he wanted Soleil to be his mechanic, though. The other reason was those emotions. Specifically those happy ones. Even though she hadn't shown it on her face, she was definitely feeling it.

He wondered if she would feel those things so freely when he showed up at her doorstep to hire her? He certainly hoped so. He pat down his breast pocket to make sure he was still carrying the two cards he needed, and shifted the gear to park. It would be out of place, the Phaser, but it's not like he cared. It's not like it would be in his possession much longer, anyway. Not with what he had planned. He stepped out of it, not bothering to hit the lock button on it, and made his way towards the building that Soleil lived in.

It looked like a piece of shit, honestly.

Like someone had just smashed two shacks together and considered it livable. He supposed it was enough for Soleil to work out of, but he felt his brows furrow together and shook his head. He was almost afraid to knock on the door. It might fall off even if he was gentle with it. Still, he lifted his hand up and knocked as gently as he could on the door. He blinked mildly when the door opened, and it was not Soleil that he was looking at.

“Who the fuck are you?" he asked, tilting his head slightly at the woman. She had some facial features that resembled Soleil's, but other than that, her coloring was completely different. Where Soleil was dark-haired, fair and deep violet blue eyes, the woman before him seemed to have platinum blonde hair and glacier blue eyes.

“Uh, I should be asking you that," the woman replied, but he could sense that she was tense, and perhaps somewhat wary of him.

“I'm looking for Soleil Nishant. This was her given address," he simply replied. People didn't usually talk to him like that, and the first person who had was Soleil. Given the similarities, Samael could only surmise they were related somehow. Cousins? Sisters? He didn't fucking know. Didn't really care. She raised a brow at him, though.

“She's in the garage," she finally replied, opening the door wider to let him through, and pointed towards another. He stepped through, and made his way towards the other door, hearing the other woman muttering something like, “stupid demons." She wasn't entirely wrong; demons weren't exactly Samael's favorite, either. He had, maybe, two at most that he actually liked, and probably another one that he tolerated. Crowley, though... he was a different story altogether.

“Nishant," he called out as he stepped through the door, glancing over the shitshow of a garage. Maybe she'd move in to his place and be his live-in mechanic? It wouldn't hurt to ask, he supposed.

Shitshow though it was, it was at least neat. Everything had its place on a wall or shelf, and at the moment Soleil was perched on a stool, long black jacket thrown over the far side of the workbench and her sleeves rolled to her elbows. She was leaning over some makeshift apparatus apparently designed to magnify her view of what was underneath it; it had the distinct air of the homemade. She was, at the moment, radiating a sort of contentment as she worked on the small parts under her fingers. It wasn't the fierce sort of happiness from last time, being something much less visceral, but it was oddly powerful nevertheless.

At the sound of her surname, she blinked, though it seemed to take her a moment to register that she was being addressed. Only then did she lift her head, blinking a second time before her eyes rounded. "S-Samael? What are you doing in my garage?" Minus the slight stutter on his name, her voice sounded as collected as ever, but her emotions surged, a strange mix of them: confusion, mostly, some worry, and a distinct spike of... interest? Something between the happiness from last time and the content from just now, edged in a way it was hard to identify.

“Isn't it obvious?" he stated, arching a brow in her direction. He could hear a soft snort coming from behind him, and a quick glance over his shoulder confirmed that it was the woman from earlier, leaning on the door frame. She didn't say anything, though, and merely glanced at the two of them. “I'm here to see if a certain someone would like a more stable job," he stated, turning his attention back towards Soleil. Of course, there were other things he was going to offer her, however; she had to accept the damn thing, first.

Something told him that she wasn't going to turn him down, though. Strangely, he felt the corners of his lips turn up somewhat in a small smile. Her emotions were just so easy to read, and even if she was confused, he knew exactly what it was that she was feeling. She was happy to see him, although he wasn't going to question why. No one was ever that happy to see him; not even Leraje. Then again, he wasn't even sure if Leraje could feel happy about something.

It seemed to take her a moment to realize his meaning; her hands froze and she set down the parts she was working on. "Wait, but—I haven't even finished this yet. How could you possibly know you want to hire me full-time on just a—a prototype and some guesses about your other car?" That giddy happiness spiked, but she seemed almost to clamp down on it that time, a lurking suspicion mixing deep blue into the vivid red-violet of the other feeling.

Oddly enough it didn't even feel directed at him, exactly.

Even if it wasn't directed at him, he could understand the suspicion. Why would a Fallen come all the way out to the Pits to hire some mechanic? He shrugged his shoulders, though, as if he were simply making a decision on the whim. He wasn't.

“Because guesses or not," he began, taking a step in her direction, “prototype or not, you've identified a problem by simply looking at the car for less than an hour. The fact that you built a prototype by scratch isn't a feat most mechanics can do. You're talented, and it's quite obvious."

“Talent like yours shouldn't be wasted, and from what I can see," he paused to do a quickover of the place, “you are wasting away without a chance to actually shine. It would be a waste. There are a couple of things you will need to do if you accept the offer, though. They are nothing to worry about, though. Just signing some papers, and you'll be issued a few things as well."

Her brow knit just faintly; she turned around on the stool and hooked her toes over the bottom bar, regarding him thoughtfully. The confusion was back, though in a more general form now. Confusion about him, no doubt, not merely his presence here or the offer itself. But there was something else underneath it, something as yet so small and subtle she probably hadn't even noticed it herself. Curiosity, yes, but also a wanting of a strange kind. Exactly what kind of wanting it was, she made clear when she spoke next.

"I don't get you," she said bluntly. "You don't make any sense to me at all." She shook her head. "What's on the paperwork? I don't know if you deal in souls or not but mine isn't on the table." There was no accusation in her words, just a flat—though perhaps some would read it as defiant—statement of fact, underwritten by a firm resolution he could feel.

Samael scoffed slightly, rolling his eyes a bit and feigning a slightly hurt look. He could hear the other woman snort softly but he kept his attention on Soleil. “I don't want your soul; I want your skill. I'm not quite in the soul-dealing business. Nothing I could gain from it, really," he replied in a nonchalant fashion. Sure, he was supposed to gather souls for Bael, but if he took her soul, then he wouldn't have a talented mechanic. He needed his mechanic to make sure his cars were running as they should be.

“The only thing on the paper work of note is," he began, pulling out two cards. He'd had them made a couple of days ago with her name on it so she could use them. Of course, his signature was at the bottom so they wouldn't give her shit about it. And it would also let whoever she was buying from know that they were getting his money. People wanted that regardless of where it came from.

“You are to return these at the end of the contract whenever you decide to terminate. Think of it as a month-to-month contract. This first card," he pushed the red colored one towards her first, “is for materials only and for the cars. You can buy whatever you need to build or fix whatever is wrong with the cars that you'll be in charge of."

“The second one," he pushed the black one towards her, “is for personal use. Buy whatever the fuck you want with it, I don't care. Think of it as your payment, however; it's not your actual payment. You'll get paid a set credit amount each month, and thensome if something needs to be fixed."

“You're kidding, right?" the other woman stated, and there was a faint hint of incredulous disbelief emanating from her. “There has got to be a catch because shit like this doesn't just happen to us."

“I'm sorry, but who the fuck are you? Are you two related?" Sam asked, genuinely interested. She didn't look like Soleil's secretary, though she could have been for all he knew.

“I'm her little sister, Luna."

Ah, that made sense.

“Oh," he stated, shrugging his shoulders. “Well, Luna, no, there isn't a catch. I'm offering your sister a well-paid job, as... disbelieving as that may be."

"You're seriously just... trusting me not to clean out your bank account?" Soleil blinked at him dully, then exchanged a glance with her sister. "I mean I get that there's probably more in there than I could dream of spending or whatever, but still. For all you know I could just go on a huge bender and take all of my nonexistent friends."

There was a touch of embarrassment in the last part, but she didn't show it much, only offering a slight shrug. She seemed to readily believe him about the soul thing.

That actually pulled a light chuckle from him.

“Trust me... you wouldn't be able to spend it all in one go. Even if your nonexistent friends joined you on your bender. You can take your sister with you on your spending spree, but still... the two of you really couldn't clean out my account. You could try, but..." he trailed off with a light shrug of his shoulders. It was partially the reason he gave his mechanic a personal card. He had so much money it wasn't even funny. He was quite certain they wouldn't be able to spend it all in their lifetime. Maybe if they had at least eight or ten, but by then he'd just continue to accumulate more.

“Oh, and one more thing," he began, pulling the keys out to the Phaser out in the street, “that's yours for as long as you're employeed with me." He tossed the keys in Soleil's direction. “You're allowed to customize it to however you want. It'll only get tossed once you terminate your employement." He wouldn't have a use for it if she did decide to quit for some reason, and it wasn't like he didn't have a spare Phaser around. It was last years' model, after all.

"You—I—you absolute idiot." It would seem he'd finally put a crack in that stoic facade of hers. "I can't just take—that's—that car is worth like ten of my house." She gestures around her to the garage, which, tidiness and good upkeep aside is very clearly in The Pits. "Also twenty bucks says the first wise guy to see it breaks the window trying to steal it. He'll fail because the wiring in these is complicated as hell, but he'll still have busted the window."

And yet for all that, she clearly wasn't unhappy with the gesture.

Samael took a step back, clearly surprised. Even if she wasn't unhappy with the gesture, it kind of caught him off guard. Luna stifled a laugh, it seemed, as a hand was brought up to her hand to cover her mouth. Samael, however, blinked and tilted his head in confusion.

“Can't you just... keep it in here or something?" he stated, glancing around the garage. It looked big enough to at least house it.

“We only have enough room for one car, and it usually isn't something like that Phaser. Plus, Sol is right, that thing sticks out like a sore thumb in this kind of neighborhood. As... grateful as we are about the gesture, maybe you should just keep it at your place," it sounded like a suggestion all the same.

“Fine. I'll keep it at my place, and you can stop by whenever you want to use it or tinker with it or whatever it is you do," he replied, waving his hand in a nonchalant fashion. “You also still have that key card so you still have access to the house," he added. It would be nice if she would tell him when she was there. He enjoyed her company. Perhaps a little too much. He glanced in Luna's direction, arched a brow, and turned back towards Soleil.

“She can come too if she wants. I don't give a fuck."

Soleil looked back up at him, then, the corner of her lip ticked up just the tiniest bit. The flavor of the happiness was different this time. Rather than a giddy spike on the senses, hard and sharp, it was a warmer thing, almost... soft? It made her eyes look warmer, too, the violet more prominent than the blue.

"In that case... I accept."

That was new.

He felt the corners of his lips tilt upwards as well as he placed one arm behind his back, and the other across his chest with a closed fist. He bent forward in an old bow, almost reminicent to when butlers bowed in their greetings, even if he was no butler.

“Then Soleil Nishant, you are hereby under my employ. If anyone gives you shit, just say my name, show them one of those cards, and they'll back off," though he knew a certain someone wouldn't necessarily do it. He just hoped they didn't have to deal with that guy.

"Uh..." She cleared her throat, and he was hit rather suddenly by a wave of embarrassment, that same warm feeling, a touch of panic, and—there it was. A little subtle needle of attraction. There was even a tiny hint of color on her cheeks. "Sure. Whatever you say, Samael."

His grin widened.

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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4 Abaddonus
Nishant Residence - Mid Afternoon - Rain
Luna Nishant


Luna sighed heavily, kicking off her boots once she'd entered through the front door and set down her umbrella. The shelter had been lively today despite the weather. Someone had finally located Jax, however; it wasn't exactly happy news. Jax was dead. No one knew how or why, only that he was, and there was nothing else to it. She took the band from her hair, letting it fall loosely around her shoulders before shaking it out. Making her way towards the garage, she glanced around looking for her sister.

“Sol, you in here?" she called out. It wasn't like she went anywhere. The only places Sol ever went were to her garage, sometimes grocery shopping, and other times she went to find spare parts or things like that. Sol was like a homebody in that sense, but Luna supposed there was one other place she could have gone. She hadn't missed the way her sister had smiled when Samael showed up to hire her. Luna couldn't recall the last time Soleil actually smiled like that.

It gave her conflicted feelings, for sure. On one hand, she thought it was absolutely hilarious that Soleil might have a little crush on Samael, however; on the other, Luna wasn't so sure about that. Demon or not, they both knew they couldn't trust him. He might have given them a chance at a better life, a more decent life, but Luna was a little more skeptical about it. Good things didn't happen to the Nishants without there being some sort of catch. There had to be one, but for now, Luna was going to wait it out.

“Soleil, I got your favorites," she called out again. “I got pineapples!"

"Of course I'm in here," Sol called back, her tone distant in that familiar distracted way. "Where else would I be?"

Luna chuckled before making her way towards the garage. Once she was inside, she found Soleil right where she always was, tinkering with her toys. “I don't know," she finally stated when she was close enough to Soleil. She didn't want to get too close since Sol was working, after all. Luna didn't like interrupting her completely. “Maybe you'd be at your new friend's place. You know, your knight in shining armour," she stated, smirking lightly at Sol.

The words put a slight furrow in her sister's brow, but Soleil said nothing at first, continuing to take apart the rusty engine she must have hauled in from the junkyard today. Her hair was pulled into her subtle twin-tails, the ones that rested close to her head and fanned, so they didn't look like the childish kind, suggesting she'd not yet taken a break today. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she said flatly.

“Hm, you sure about that?" Luna replied, pulling one of the metal folding chairs and setting it up backwards so she could sit on it and rest her chin on the back part of it. “Because I could have sworn I saw something there. I don't know, maybe a little smile and a little blush when he bowed," she continued, her smirk turning into a grin.

"Clearly you're hallucinating," Sol deadpanned, lifting a large piece of metal casing off the engine to expose the parts beneath. She set it aside with an effortlessness they could only show each other, and went to inspect the guts of the thing. "I was surprised he came by here of all places, that's all."

“And someone is in denial," Luna retorted, huffing a short laugh. “You know, he was pretty handsome, I'll give you that," she started, rubbing the bottom of her chin. She wouldn't deny that at all. Samael was attractive, with the long silver hair and the teal colored eyes. There was something about the way his facial structure was, smooth and defined in a way Luna couldn't really describe.

“I really can't blame you for being attracted to him," she continued, smiling at Soleil. “It's fine, though, if you want to deny it, but you shouldn't be surprised that he came all this way just for you. You're damn good at what you do and obviously he knows it. Everyone comes to you for their shit to get fixed and you always do it right."

Her sister was damn talented when it came to things like that. Her work should be noticed, and it was obvious that Samael had noticed it. That, or he was probably trying to get in Soleil's pants. Not that he could, Sol wouldn't let him. Luna knew her sister wasn't stupid by any means, and they both knew better than to trust people. But... part of her was curious as to whether or not Sol actually would let him. She snorted at the thought.

Soleil snorted. "And here I thought you preferred guys that look like lumberjacks." She shook her head, though, clearly not inclined to remain on the topic for any longer than she had to. "As for the quality of my work, sure I guess, but that doesn't quite explain why a rich guy comes out to the Pits and gives me a fucking car on top of an employment deal that was already so good I'd have taken it regardless." Her brows knit and she expelled a breath.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it is, but... I can't find the catch."

Luna sighed deeply and shook her head. “Yeah, neither can I. It is too good. I'm almost worried a piano is going to fall on our heads the moment we walk out that door because it's too good," she replied. That deal Samael offered to Soleil was a very good one. They had every right to be suspicious of it.

“Do you think he might just be biding his time before changing the terms? You know, so that he could get your soul, instead? I know he said he wasn't in the soul business, but that might have been just a ruse. Just a way to get you to lower your guard or something," because demons have tried trickier shit with them before.

"I don't know," Soleil admitted quietly. Her hands paused in their work, she expelled a soft breath through her nose. "I wish I could say I did, but..." Her lips pursed. "I don't sense any deception from him, and I've only gotten this far trusting my instincts, but still." It seemed to genuinely trouble her, the not knowing.

“I know," Luna replied gently. “It's just... it's almost like we're living in a dream. He basically gave us something we've always struggled to get. We're able to actually buy food now, and not just scavenge it from the dumpster here or there. We don't have to worry too much about whether or not the lights will be turned off, or the water, or the gas. We don't have to worry too much about Alastor's fucking fee increase."

There were so many things they didn't have to necessarily worry about. And that, in itself, worried Luna. It wouldn't last long. Nothing lasted long that was good. It was just a rule of life, one she and Sol had grown accustomed to. This luxury, or whatever it was, wouldn't last. Sol would probably quit if something turned out to not be okay. Or Samael might grow bored with Sol's work and fire her. He didn't seem the type to just do it on a whim, though, and Luna could understand why her sister was troubled by him. He was giving them things simply because he wanted to.

There was no ulterior motive from him.

“I would still just... be careful with him. I know you're smart enough to take care of yourself, but... don't fall for any of his charms, alright?"

She snorted. "He's not that charming, don't worry." There was a faint bit of humor in the way she said it, though, something that was kind of hard to pin to a source.

Shaking her head, she went back to work, though she didn't abandon the conversation entirely. This seemed to be hunting for scrap parts, rather than a more concerted project. "Any news from work today?"

Luna frowned at the question. “They found Jax," she stated, glancing towards the floor. “He's dead," she added before shaking her head. He was a decent guy, as far as people went. Always great with the people he worked with, and always seemed to smile. He looked like life never really beat him down, but she supposed everyone had their own fair share of shit luck.

Maybe it wasn't even luck?

Maybe it was just a cruel fate, one that would catch up to the rest of them? “Didn't say how or anything like that. His mom doesn't even have enough money to give him a small funeral or anything. She wanted to get him cremated but if she doesn't have enough money for a small funeral, she won't have enough for that," she continued.

“Do you think Samael would mind if we helped her with that?" Luna asked suddenly, glancing in Sol's direction. “I mean, he did give you a card to do, and I quote, 'whatever the fuck you want with it'."

Soleil blinked. "I suppose it'd be a good enough way to find out if that's true," she said slowly, "but are you sure we should risk it on this of all things? I get that you knew the guy but a corpse is a corpse, Luna. It doesn't care what you do with it."

Luna furrowed her brows a bit. “A corpse might not care, but his mother still does. Cremations are a lot cheaper than an actual funeral, and it's what his mother wanted to do." Still, Sol had a point. If they were going to risk finding out if what Samael said was true on a cremation, is that really what she should do? It could be that Samael was just testing them, and that the moment they used the card he gave them, he could easily take Sol's job away. Luna sighed softly.

“I... don't want you to risk your job just because I'm sentimental," she stated, shaking her head. Sometimes she really did hate that she cared so much about other people. People who weren't Soleil, and people whom she hadn't known for very long. She just... she had a bleeding heart, and she knew it.

“We probably shouldn't risk it," even if she wanted to help out Mrs. Alby, she couldn't risk Sol's job.

Soleil sighed. "I'm sorry, Luna," she said. "Part of me thinks it wouldn't matter. That he really does mean what he says. But if we do this, and word gets out, we're going to be the new targets of every sob story in town, and I'm pretty sure somewhere in there, we'd hit a limit. Even if he meant what he said. Money's not infinite, but problems are, around here."

“Yeah, I know," Luna replied softly. She just hated that it had to be like that; that people couldn't even afford to do something so... she didn't even know the right word for it. Mrs. Alby couldn't give her son a proper funeral, or even a cremation, and it shouldn't have to be that way. She should be able to give her son a proper send off, a proper burial.

But life was shit to everyone who didn't sell their soul.

To everyone who couldn't pay protection fees.

Or even buy food to feed their families or themselves.

“You know I appreciate you, right?" Luna stated, feeling the statement come out softer than it meant to. “Everything that you've done for us, for me? You're the best big sister I have."

Soleil snorted softly. "Sorry to report, but I'm the only big sister you have." Her eyes were a little softer, though, and she nodded. "I appreciate you, too, Luna."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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14 Abaddonus
The Pits - Afternoon - Mild
Vesper Kovacs


Vesper pulled the cruiser into the only available parking spot. It was a few meters away from where her actual destination was, but it wasn't like a small walk was going to make her tired. She could feign fatigue very well; she had to in order to keep up her semi-human appearance, and for the sake of her job, after all. She glanced at the small computer near the middle of the car, and typed a few words into it. Tartarus PD had dispatched both her and Wren to question a couple of sisters about a human who had been killed. Normally, a human's death wouldn't even warrant that kind of thing. Humans died all the time, a fact Vesper was quite aware of.

But this particular death was an exception. The human who had died had sold their soul to a demon, however; that soul had been stolen. Vesper wasn't entirely sure how questioning these human sisters was going to help them find who had stolen the soul, but it wasn't any of her business. She had a job to do, and she was going to do it. She glanced in Wren's direction, checking momentarily that she had her badge and cap before stepping out of the cruiser.

“Is there anything on file for these Nishants?" she asked, glancing towards Wren. Vesper knew there wasn't beyond the typical registration information. The oldest, Soleil Nishant, was a mechanic who worked from home. The youngest, Lunaria Nishant, was employed by Bailey Residential as a part-time secretary. They didn't have any records of any kind, and if anything, Vesper would have guessed that they'd lived mostly incognito. The two were a handful of humans who still had souls that were intact, and in their case, very ripe for most demons to take.

“The business is registered. There are also records of high school attendance for the younger sister, and a driver's license for the elder." Wren, more officially known as Officer #3284 of the new AI Division, pushed sun-blonde hair back from her face, tucking the strand behind her ear, where it remained. Her voice was only barely not toneless, certainly flat; she observed her surroundings with apparent disinterest.

“Beyond that, S. Nishant has recently opened a bank account, where she receives biweekly direct deposit checks from Lennox Enterprises." Demons always had fancy-sounding businesses, even if all they really did was let their money sit in interest-gathering accounts. It was one thing they'd taken from humans and run with.

“Lennox Enterprises?" she questioned. She knew who owned it; Samael wasn't a demon, exactly, but it was slightly interesting that he had a new employee. His last one, Nikolai Ziegler, had been the only one, however; apparently he'd disappeared. His body hadn't turned up, but Vesper wasn't going to make any kinds of probabilities as to whether he was still alive or not. She placed the cap on her head, though, making sure that the dark strands of her hair were tucked underneath it properly.

This was going to be a short visit, if anything. The sisters wouldn't likely be able to give them the information they were seeking, and Vesper was checking all of the data networks almost every ten seconds. “I guess there isn't anything too out of the ordinary with them," she stated, shrugging her shoulders lightly as they pressed on towards the Nishant's residence. It only took them fifteen minutes to reach the home, and Vesper pushed a small sigh through her nose. Glancing in Wren's direction, she lifted her hand and knocked on the door.

It took almost a full minute for the door to open, in which time Wren did... not much at all, actually. Like all of the AI officers, she was hooked into Central's information relay, and was probably using the time to peruse something there. The AI officers seemed to be bereft of feelings like boredom or impatience, in any case.

The door stuck slightly in its frame as it opened; a sharp tug un-stuck it, revealing a visage almost as blank as Wren's, this one framed by hair an even deeper black than Vesper's, and eyes such a blue they were almost violet. They flicked from one woman to the other, and their owner spoke in a dry tone.

"Officers. What could I possibly do for the wonderful TPD?" The blunt sarcasm was obvious.

Vesper knew enough of human emotions to know the sarcasm for what it was. Most, if not all, humans didn't trust the police. She had seen enough through files and current happenings to know why. Still, she had a job to do, and formed a soft smile on her lips to try and put the human at ease. It worked some of the time, but not always.

“I'm officer Kovacs, and this is my partner, officer Donahue. We are here to ask you a few questions about Jax Alby. We were informed that you and your sister knew him to some degree," she stated as formally as she knew how. “Do you and your sister have a few minutes?"

The smile seemed only to sour the woman further, but she sighed and stepped back from the door. As much invitation as they were going to get, clearly. "Luna! It's the cops. They're here about Jax."

“Wait, really?" there was a response from somewhere deeper in the home before another woman appeared. She was the complete opposite of the dark-haired woman. Her eyes were more pale, almost icy blue, and her hair was such a platinum blonde that Vesper would have mistaken it for almost ash blonde. She blinked in Vesper and Wren's direction, though, and arched a brow. Vesper recognized who they were, of course. Soleil and Lunaria's photo IDs had been uploaded into the system when Soleil registered her business, and when Lunaria became employed with the Baileys.

“We will only take a moment of your time," Vesper stated. Humans were such strange creatures, however; there was something faintly different about these two. Vesper had been around enough demons and cambions to be able to detect it in them, but the two women before her were different. She couldn't exactly say why, and it was rare that something like that happened. Perhaps she could get a blood sample from one of them and get it to Éva? It wouldn't work, though. Humans didn't just volunteer things like that.

“Why are you talking to us, though? We barely knew him," Lunaria asked.

“That's why we want to ask you a few questions. Even if you barely knew him, it is possible that you might have seen someone acting strangely around him. He might have also been close enough to you that he might have confided that his soul had been sold to a demon. Perhaps even the name of the demon he'd sold it to," she stated, watching as Lunaria's brows furrowed. Her eyes were slightly wide, though, which meant that they didn't know about that part.

“What do you mean sold his soul? Jax... he didn't mention anything like that to us," Lunaria spoke, glancing towards Soleil.

The other sister shook her head, too. "News to me," she said dully, though she didn't look at all surprised.

“Do you know if he associated with any demons at all?" Wren asked, folding her arms loosely beneath her chest where she stood.

Soleil shrugged. "No clue. Like Luna said, we barely knew the guy. Last thing we heard is that he was found—nothing about any of this soul business, and the only demon that shows his face around here is only half of one."

“Who is that?"

The woman's eyes narrowed. "Alastor Zinoviev. If you people gave a damn about stopping actual crime, he wouldn't be around here either."

Alastor was a cambion Vesper knew all too well. His father, Crowley, owned half of Tartarus PD. Most of the other officers were on his payroll, accepted his bribes, and often were at the head of the department. They didn't have much choice but to leave Alastor alone unless the PD wanted to face Crowley's wrath. Whatever that actually meant, Vesper didn't really know. She knew human emotions well, but there were still some things that she was still learning.

“Alastor Zinoviev has committed no crimes so to speak of. If you have proof of any crime he committed, you can submit it to the department for investigation," Vesper stated, momentarily leaving her voice as blank and void as Wren's.

“Is there anything else you want to ask? We already told you what we know about Jax. We hardly knew him to begin with, so what you're saying is news to us, as well. Sorry we can't be much more help than this," Lunaria stated as she glanced in Wren's direction before returning her gaze to Vesper. The most they could do was look into Alastor, however; if she did, she would have to keep it from almost everyone back at the department. If anyone knew Vesper was looking into him, they would likely tell Crowley. Vesper didn't need that kind of attention, not when she had other things to do.

“If something comes to mind," Vesper began, reaching into her back pocket and pulling one of her cards from it, “you can reach me at this number. It's my direct line so you won't have to ask them to send you to me." Vesper knew enough that they wouldn't call her. None of the humans she gave her card to, did. She offered the card to Soleil.

"Sure. Whatever you say, officer." Likely any chance they might take her even a bit seriously had gone out the window when she'd defended Zinoviev to their faces, but Soleil took the card anyway, setting it down on the counter behind her. "If there's nothing else, I'd like you to leave."

“There is not," Wren replied, literal in the way Vesper was coming to expect from her. “Good day."

“Have a good day," was the only response Vesper could give. She might not have found any useful information about Jax Alby, but she did have something new to relay to Éva.

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Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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20 Abaddonus
Shelter #309 - Afternoon - Sunny
Lunaria Nishant


Luna sighed softly, glancing at the wooden boards that lay off to the side. It wasn't easy coming up with the money to buy them, nor was it easy coming up with the money to buy the soil and seeds, but damn it if she hadn't been persistent. With Soleil's new job, Luna had been able to save a little more of her own check. It wasn't a lot, but it had been enough with some help with Ravi and Kato donating what they could. Kasey wasn't able to do much at all since her child came down with a fever. Without access to a proper doctor, her child required what little money Kasey made and her time.

It was partially the reason why Luna was currently at the shelter alone. Kato had something to do with his cousin's construction company, and Ravi had to pull extra hours at his job. Hours he wasn't going to be paid for. There weren't a lot of people around, maybe four at most, and part of Luna wondered if it was because something had happened to them. It wasn't unusual for someone to disappear, especially if that person was homeless. It made her insides feel like they were tied in knots. Sighing softly, she pushed the thoughts out of her mind and made her way towards the boards. She'd borrowed one of Soleil's hammers and a few of her other tools with the promise that she would be very careful with them.

Luna had worked with them a couple of times to know how to handle them, and it wasn't like she'd borrowed any of Soleil's advanced stuff. Luna knew she couldn't handle that stuff, and she really didn't want to bring out the more expensive kind. As much as she wanted to believe that people were decent and good, the area she was in wouldn't provide that comfort. Still... she needed to build these planter boxes. Pushing a sigh through her nose, she made her way towards the pile.

“Alright, Luna, you can do this. It's just a large square, right? How hard can that be?" she stated to herself.

Turns out it was a little more difficult than she'd thought it was going to be.

She was in the middle of trying to figure out where she went wrong nailing two boards together at the corners when a throat cleared behind her. "Far be it from me to assume, but... need a hand?"

The rolling bass could only belong to one person she knew, and indeed Mick was behind her, bereft of his usual long, heavy coat. In its place he wore a thinner jacket of wool or something similar that fell a little short of his knees, over a thick oatmeal-colored sweater and a reddish scarf. "I'm all for letting people do things themselves, but... you might ruin the lumber if you try too many ways is all."

She blinked slowly in his direction. “No, no," she began, lifting the hammer in his direction, “please help. I'm not the builder in the family and I have no idea what the Hell I'm actually doing. I don't want to ruin the lumber if that's all I'm going to do. I tried looking up a schematic for something like this that was simple, but I couldn't find anything."

Luna wasn't skilled in building things like Soleil was. She tried, but in the end she left it to Soleil. She also didn't want to ruin the wood since it wasn't guaranteed that she'd be able to afford more. She wanted to get this planter box finished as quickly as possible so that they could start planting the seeds before next Mammona.

Mick nodded, accepting this readily enough, it seemed. "Trying to make planter boxes?" He moved to the wood pile, withdrawing his hands from his pockets and beginning to sort the timbers into three piles, by length it seemed. "How many do you want?"

“Trying is the keyword there," she replied, frowning slightly before nodding her head. “I don't think we have quite enough to make three," she began. Three would have been ideal. She had at least four different vegetable seeds: carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and tomatoes. She wasn't entirely sure how they would all fare together, but she knew it could be feasible.

“How many do you think we can get? I don't have a saw or anything, but we could probably figure out a way to cut the boards, and then sand down the edges so that they'll work," she stated. She only had two sheets of sandpaper, though, so it would have to be precise. Otherwise they'd just waste the wood.

Mick finished sorting and rose back to his full height, considering the piles in front of him. "It's not number that's the problem so much as area," he said. "We could make five with this; they'd just be small. So how big did you want each to be? What are you planting? That'll tell us how deep they need to be, too—some stuff needs a lot more room."

“Well..." she began, trailing off slightly. “I only have four types of vegetable seeds right now. I have carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, and potatoes. I know tomatoes are vine fruits, and they'll need some room to grow." She just wasn't so sure about the other seeds. Carrots might require some room, too, but she wasn't sure.

“I do plan on getting more seeds, though. I want there to be a variety of food for everyone to get. They might be able to do with potatoes for awhile, but the other three won't last as long. Cabbage will rot fairly quickly, and tomatoes bruise very easily." Potatoes, at least, were a little more sturdy. Carrots were another thing, though. It was a hit or miss with them.

Mick clicked his tongue against this teeth. "They're going to need more than room," he said, referring to the tomatoes. "The vines are going to need stakes or a lattice to grow up, and that means more wood." He crosses his arms over his chest, contemplating the pile. "Since you don't have a saw, I think we're going to have to limit it to two boxes. The vegetables should be mixed in each, anyway—they all take different mounts of different stuff from the soil so that's the smart way to do it in any case."

"All right. We're going to split each of these piles in half. Do you have a drill or screwdriver, or just the hammer?"

“I brought just the basics," Luna replied, glancing towards the table where the food pot was. “There's the screwdriver, the flat head, pliers, extra nails and screws, the hammer," she listed off the things she'd brought with her. “I couldn't take the drill, so I have to make do with the screwdriver and hammer."

She didn't trust herself with the drill, even if she'd be fine if she messed up. It was more a concern that she'd end up breaking it, and she really didn't want to do that. “Which ones do we need?" She honestly wasn't sure if she'd actually need all of those, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

Mick considered this a moment longer. "All right, uh... pull the screwdriver, the sturdiest screws you have, the hammer and nails, and I think that'll probably do for now. A saw would have been nice, but at least the boards are pretty evenly-sized."

The two of them got to work. Mick mostly asked Luna to hold things in place for him while he worked; he shed his coat and rolled up the sleeves of his sweater to do it, pulling his hair back into a low tail with a rubber band. His hands were steady, and it seemed like he must have done this before, or something similar, because aside from a few pauses here and there to assess their progress, he didn't seem to have any difficulty working without plans or blueprints or anything like that.

A couple hours later, they had two large planter boxes, both of them solid and sturdy, as well as enough leftover wood to build something to support the growing tomatoes.

"You'll want to plant those in the back," he said. "Honestly, the weather and climate aren't idea for growing things, around here, but if you're careful about soil and sunlight you'll be able to get some of everything, at least."

He wasn't wrong; growing things without the proper conditions wasn't easy. Most of the food that was grown nowadays was done so in controlled environments. Ones that were owned by demons and controlled by the humans they employed. She smiled, though, and nodded her head.

“Thanks for the help, Mick," she stated. “And for the suggestion. I wouldn't have been able to do this without either." She wouldn't have been able to think of something like this, at least not in the way that they would have needed to help them. Now... hopefully more people could be fed, and wouldn't have to go hungry for too long. If they could mange this well, keep the produce from being destroyed, there could be a real chance that most of the malnourished people would be able to get healthy. To have enough food in their stomach that they wouldn't have to go hungry at night.

“I owe you for this, really. This will help a lot of people as long as we can maintain it."

He shifted, then shrugged, rolling his sleeves back down. "You don't owe me," he said bluntly. "I did it because I felt like it, is all." Picking up his jacket, he shook it off a few times. Oddly the scent it wafter towards her was fresh, like a summer afternoon—clean air, sunlight, something a little woodsy and something a little citrus.

Donning it, he left the buttons undone. "Anyway, guess I'll be off then."

He really was a hard one to make conversation with, wasn't he? She'd noticed it when she'd went to the building the Baileys wanted her to inspect. He'd been... a little reluctant but the fact that he still helped her not once, but twice was enough to at least earn Luna's respect. She just didn't want to let it bother her, even if he did seem a little peeved. Crabby he might have been, but Luna supposed that she and Soleil might have been the same way if they'd still lived on the streets.

“You don't have to go, you know," she stated. She wasn't entirely sure what he did or who he might spend time with, but Luna knew that most people were often solitary. They didn't like being in the company of others. “I might not be the best company, but... well, sometimes it's nice to not have to be alone."

If it wasn't for Soleil, Luna wasn't entirely sure what she would have done. She would be the first to admit that she didn't want to be alone, and she was fairly lucky she had Sol. These people, though... they didn't have anyone like Sol. They had each other, sure, but... well, Luna wasn't sure if it was the same. Mick didn't have to stay if he didn't want to. It's not like she could force him to, and she wouldn't. If he wanted to leave, that was his decision, but she just wanted him to know he didn't have to.

He gave her a look she couldn't immediately read. His face tended to always have a certain kind of... irritated look to it, and with his hair still tied back it seemed somehow more obvious than usual, the rough, sharp planes of his face even more prominent. His eyes were... hard. It wasn't an unfamiliar look, out here, but somehow he wore it differently than just about anyone else.

"It's not you," he said after a long moment, shrugging those massive shoulders again. "I'm no good at being company anymore, is all."

She wasn't entirely sure why she smiled, but she did. “I don't think that's true, but that might just be my own opinion," she stated. “It might have been awhile since you last had a chance to be good company, but no one ever really forgets. It might just take a little longer than people might want to put the effort into."

“But if you ever feel like you want company or just need another presence, I'll do what I can to be there. I'd say you know where to find me, but that's kind of obvious already." Luna couldn't explain why she felt like she wanted to be someone he could trust. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, or maybe it was something else. Luna didn't know because she knew that trusting people was hard. Soleil was the only person she trusted, but... for some reason Mick seemed like someone she could trust too.

Or maybe it was because her bleeding heart wanted to trust other people, even if she knew it wasn't a good idea.

"Yeah," he said, and there was something thoughtful in the tone, almost assessing, but it was something else, too, harder to pin down. "I guess I do."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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#, as written by Aethyia


16 Victorianus
Shelter #309 - Evening - Cold
Soleil Nishant


Soleil frowned at the carrot under her hand. It was turning the fingers of her latex gloves orange, but that wasn't the cause of the frown. Rather... did there have to be so many people here?

She understood, of course, that it was cold and a holiday and people needed to eat. And if people were going to eat, someone needed to make the food. But none of that explained why the someone had to include her, or why she had to be basically shoulder-to-shoulder with the closest two people. It was just... really uncomfortable.

Making her best attempt to ignore it, she diced the carrot, mindful that it was going in the next batch of soup and they were already behind. So small bits for quick cooking, so the carrots didn't delay the whole thing or come out still mostly raw.

Luna was going to owe her for this.

Luna was helping set up small tables around the area. They didn't have a long table for everyone to sit at, and likely it was going to be about four people per table. She didn't seem to mind, though, occasionally fixing a chair that was crooked or setting down a paper plate. She glanced up and smiled in Soleil's direction, making her way to stand in front of her.

“You're a big help, you know that, right?" she stated, grinning slightly as she tilted her head at Soleil. “I'm actually kind of glad you're helping out. I don't think we had enough people and the extra pair of hands was much needed," she continued, glancing slightly to her right and furrowing her brows. “I see a few new faces, but..." she trailed off and shrugged her shoulders.

Soleil resisted the urge to sigh. Charity wasn't exactly her wheelhouse. It wasn't that she thought anyone here deserved their situation, just that she'd always been too busy keeping her head down and trying to keep herself and her sister alive to ever really do much for anyone else. More than that, she hated that there were this many people so close to her. It just... felt uncomfortable. Itchy.

"Yeah, whatever," she said, shaking her head and trying to keep the grumpiness to a minimum, for everyone else's sake. "What else do you need me to do? I'm done with enough carrots to last the rest of the night, probably."

Luna blinked in a thoughtful manner as she glanced around the area. “Well..." she trailed off, perhaps looking for something. “Food is prepped, the tables are mostly set," she listed a few things, seemingly talking to herself. “If you want to take a rest, you're more than welcome to. I think everything is pretty much set up already. All we have to do is wait for the food to finish cooking, and then we can pass it out to everyone."

She leaned a little closer towards Soleil, and held up a hand near her mouth as if she were trying to tell Soleil a secret. “I know how much this is bothering you. You were never one for large crowds," she stated in a sympathetic manner before folding both of her hands in front of her. “I promise I will make this up to you. Whatever you want, your favorite dish, a night to yourself in the house... I really will make this up to you."

This time, Soleil did sigh. If Luna knew how much this bothered her, she wouldn't have asked her to do it in the first place, but she wasn't going to say that.

Resigned to her fate of later playing waitress, she nodded slightly and stepped out into the main room, picking one of the last empty tables and making a beeline for it. Unfortunately she wasn't the only one who'd noticed it, and she arrived at about the same time as two people.

Ordinarily, the woman might have been more noticeable, what with the bright pink hair and all, but Soleil's demon-sense was smacking her in the face, and the source of the sensation was definitely the tall guy lurking in her shadow. Never socially adept, Soleil wasn't exactly sure what to do with this situation, and ended up blinking wordlessly at the odd pair in front of her for several beats too long, without anyone taking a seat.

"Uh." The diminutive woman was the one to break the silence, though it wasn't exactly gracefully either. "If you don't mind sharing, we can just take this side? There's only two of us; looks like the table seats five in a pinch." She smiled, a slightly-crooked expression that seemed genuine to Soleil at least.

She cleared her throat. "Sure, I guess. I just need somewhere to be until the food comes out anyway." They didn't exactly look homeless to her, but apparently the kitchen served poor people of all types, not just the ones actually living on the street. They didn't look like they were made of money, either—the repairs on their clothes were definitely done by hand.

The demon didn't seem to know what to say or do. He just took a seat next to the pink-haired woman, and glanced in Soleil's direction before glancing down at the table as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. There was a slight furrow in his brows, though, as if he'd sensed or seen something he hadn't in a while. It took him another minute before he glanced back in Soleil's direction.

“I'm Vinny," he stated, clearing his throat in an awkward manner.

For some reason, this made the woman smile, a soft thing that somehow made Soleil want to turn away, as if to give them privacy. But it wasn't like it was a particularly intimate thing—it was just a facial expression, and a benign one at that. Only somehow it made Soleil sure there was something between them, and she'd been sitting here for all of thirty seconds. Maybe because she'd never seen anything quite like it before? Smiles like that existed as descriptions in books to her, and nothing real at all.

"Soleil," she said, concealing her awkwardness by talking, or trying to, in as normal a fashion as she could. It was a little easier, now that she knew they were awkward too.

"Nice to meet you, Soleil. I'm Éva." The woman extended her had across the table and Sol took it, holding carefully so as not to hurt her. She wasn't getting any suggestion that Éva was anything sturdier than a normal human.

"So, uh, stop me if this is rude but... what brings you guys out here?" She didn't say it, but a demon was about the last kind of person she'd expected to walk through those doors today. Next thing she knew, there'd be a whole damn angel, never mind that the non-Fallen ones were all dead or locked into some other dimension or whatever it was.

Vinny stared at Soleil for a moment, almost as if he were trying to think of an answer, but in the end, merely shrugged his shoulders. He didn't seem the type to be talkative, and perhaps wasn't unless he had to be. Still, he glanced towards Éva before turning his attention back to Soleil.

“A friend of ours mentioned that they were in need of extra hands today. It was the most logical thing to do," he finally stated as he glanced over Soleil's shoulder. His brows furrowed further, though, when Luna appeared, blinking mildly in Soleil's direction and then towards Éva and Vinny.

“Oh, uh, hi?" she stated, unsure of what was going on, it seemed. Vinny nodded his head in her direction, but didn't say anything immediately. “The food will be done in about another ten or fifteen minutes," she continued, taking a seat on the left side of Soleil. “And I hope you don't mind, but I invited someone else to sit with us," Luna said as she directed it towards Soleil.

“Oh, also, I'm Luna," she introduced herself to Éva and Vinny.

“Vincent, or Vinny. Whichever is your preference," was his reply.

Éva repeated her name as well, offering Luna a handshake also, before glancing around. "Who'd you invite? There's loads of people h—ah." She seemed to come to some kind of realization, and Soleil turned her eyes in the same direction.

If Vinny's demon-ness had hit her like a punch, whatever this guy had going on was more like being bathed in sunlight. Summer was, if rumor was to be believed, a joke now compared to what it had once been, but somehow the guy gave the impression of summer, and she knew it was the real kind, without knowing what the real kind was like.

It was sort of a weird impression to get from a bum the approximate size of a bear, with shaggy red hair and scruff stubbling his chin. She didn't doubt he could get a full-on mountain man beard going if he wanted to, but he was well short of that now. He took the seat at the end of the table, clearing his throat softly. Soleil wasn't sure if she imagined it, but she thought he threw a wary look at Vinny, too. Was that a coincidence, or...

Could he tell?

"Sorry to intrude," he said, voice rumbling lower than Soleil had known voices could go. Any louder and she might be able to feel it through her feet. "Mick. Nice to meet you all."

"Éva, Vinny, Soleil," Éva replied. "Just to cover the bases." When she stuck her hand out towards Mick, he accepted it with a vaguely-perplexed look, clearly taking care not to shake too hard. His hands were probably over double the size of Éva's.

“Soleil is my older sister, the one I told you about," Luna stated in Mick's direction, offering a short smile before turning towards the others. Vinny cleared his throat softly as well, trying not to keep eye contact with Mick for some reason.

“What brings you out here?" Vinny asked, directing Soleil's question towards Luna and herself. Luna grinned lightly as she sat back in her chair.

“I volunteer here," she stated, sighing softly. “On a regular basis, that is, or as regular as I can," she continued, clearing it up a bit, it seemed. Vinny made a vague 'oh' before returning his attention towards the table.

“What about you two? I've never seen you around here before?" Luna asked, tilting her head. “Not that you aren't welcome to be here; everyone who wants or needs something is free to do what they'd like," she said.

"We just dropped by for a visit," Éva said vaguely, lifting her shoulders in a shrug. "You don't have to feed us or anything. We're just kind of new to this part of town and wanted to know what was around, as resources went. We're okay, but we know some people who aren't, so we figured we'd check the place out for them. They're a little shy."

Mick seemed to accept this, nodding slightly. "I know some people like that," he said simply. "If it helps, I can say that the staff here are well-meant, even if some of them are a little nosy." He glanced askance at Luna as he said it, but Soleil interpreted some amount of humor in the implication.

How well did her sister know this guy, exactly?

Luna gave him a flat look, though, that suggested she wasn't amused. “I am not that nosy, alright?" she murmured, pursing her lips together and folding her hands over her chest. Vinny looked like he wanted to roll his eyes slightly, but seemed to refrain from doing so. “But... he's not entirely wrong. Mean well, but sometimes I do get a little in over my head," she added as she rolled her eyes somewhat before smiling a little.

Vinny pushed out a soft gust of air and turned towards Éva. “She gets like that, too," he stated as he laid a hand on her head before dropping it.

She stuck her tongue out at him. Soleil rolled her eyes a bit, but Mick was watching the interaction with something akin to curiosity. For just a moment, something like comprehension flashed across his face, only to be quickly replaced by something more neutral, and a little... sad? She didn't really get it, and wasn't good with feelings in the first place.

"I don't," she said bluntly, her best effort to contribute to the conversation. "No offense, because you seem like cool people, but if you never tell me anything about yourselves, I'll be okay with that."

Éva laughed, apparently genuinely delighted. "Oh but now it seems like you must be great at keeping secrets. No one would think to ask you for them!"

“Even if they did ask her for them, Sol wouldn't say anything. She's very tightlipped," Luna stated in a nonchalant fashion, grinning in Soleil's direction for some reason. “But it's not every day we see a pair like you," she continued, tilting her head slightly in their direction. “Well, not one so open with their affection for each other," she clarified. Vinny blinked slowly at her before turning towards Eva.

“We're not..." he trailed off, still keeping his gaze on Eva. He furrowed his brows softly before shaking his head. “It's not like that, I don't... think," he murmured.

“Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to assume it's just that... well," Luna stated nervously as she rubbed her forearm. “You just seem really close is all." That prompted a small quirk of Vinny's lips as he nodded his head.

“I've known her for a long time," he replied.

Éva cleared her throat, shrugging in what Soleil almost thought was a casual manner. She was fidgeting with her hands, though, and decidedly not looking in Vinny's direction. Her hair fell forward enough to kind of hide it, but her cheeks looked to be turning pink. "He, um—yeah. What he said." She chuckled again, but it was strained.

Mick, perhaps deciding to have mercy, changed the subject, though not before lifting an eyebrow at Luna as if to point out that he was right to call her a little nosy. Soleil couldn't decide if she liked him or not, but she thought with a little time, she might.

"Looks like they're getting ready to serve the food," he noted, before turning to Vinny and Éva. "I appreciate that you don't want to take what you don't absolutely need, but I'm pretty sure there's more than enough to feed everyone here, so I wouldn't feel too bad about it if I were you."

Vinny nodded his head. “It is appreciated," he simply stated as he glanced back towards Éva. Luna, however, glanced at Mick and furrowed her brows. She didn't say anything though, perhaps because the look he gave her might have been a little true.

“A bowl would be... nice."

"Then we'll get you one," Soleil said, surprised at the fact that she'd said it. It wasn't an outrageous thing to say, of course, but... it wasn't really like her, either.

Standing, she gestured to Luna. Maybe if she actually did the thing she wouldn't feel weird about it.

Or maybe she was just always doomed to feel weird around people. That seemed more likely.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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18 Victorianus
Samael's Mannor - Mid Morning - Cold
Samael Lennox


Samael stared at the arrangement on the table. He didn't know what Soleil liked as far as her preferences for food went, and he'd hired a chef to make the best breakfast foods he could think of. There were blueberry pancakes, strawberry and cream cheese filled crêpes, cinnamon rolls, french toast with bananas and blueberries, milk toast, and something called a youtiao. He wasn't entirely sure if any of these options would be something that Soleil and her sister would like.

He'd invited the both of them to his manor today to discuss a sort of plan he had. He, of course, still hadn't told Soleil about what he'd had to do, but... well, he was hoping this plan would soften the blow a bit. He didn't know if she would be upset, or something of that sort. And he didn't want her to be upset with him. He'd tried his best, really. He tried to get Crowley to reel in his idiot son, but Alastor was persistent, and Crowley... well, Crowley was Crowley.

Sighing softly, he ran a hand through his hair before checking the time. They should be arriving in a few minutes. Was everything set up properly? Did everything look okay? Why the Hell was he so worried about it, either way? It shouldn't be his problem, but...

“Stop being so fussy, you idiot," he stated to himself as he made his way towards the door Soleil usually used. She'd be using that one today, hopefully. Otherwise he'd be standing at the wrong door like an idiot when she arrived.

As he drew closer, he caught a snatch of conversation. "—through here. I have a card key, hang on." She must have kept it in an easily-accessible pocket, because not a few seconds later, the electronic lock beeped to indicate someone had been admitted and the door swung open carefully, bringing him face to face with Soleil herself.

She drew up short, steps hitching to a stop, eyes a little wide. "Oh, uh... hey." she cleared her throat, stowing her key back in the pocket of her long black coat. "Didn't expect you to be right, uh, right here. Am I late or something?" She pushed a strand of black hair behind her, remembering to shift aside to let her sister step in as well.

Sam felt the corner of his lip twitch slightly, but he shook his head. “No, you're not late," he stated as he stepped to the side to give the both of them a little more room. “I figured it was your sister's first time here and..." he wasn't entirely sure what to say to that. Why was he just hanging out by the door?

“Oh, so you thought it was a good idea to meet us," Luna stated as she arched a brow in his direction.

“I suppose so, yes." Soleil could have easily directed her sister around the manor. She'd been there enough times to know it, Sam thought, but he wanted to be here to greet them personally. It wasn't often that he had people visit, but he didn't want to get ahead of himself. There were things that he still needed to discuss with them.

“Are either of you hungry? There's a breakfast table in the dining area that has a few dishes if you are," he stated as Luna glanced in Soleil's direction with an arched brow.

“I won't say no to free food," she replied.

"She won't," Soleil agreed flatly, but there was a hint of amusement in her expression, and he could feel it coming through in the less mundane way as well. The strength of her love for her sister, an omnipresent protectiveness at the moment ceded to the urge to gently mock. "I haven't eaten yet, so thanks." She nodded before heading towards the kitchen, though not before pausing long enough for him to get the idea that she was waiting for him to walk with them.

He followed perhaps a little too willingly, making sure that he wasn't too far ahead of them as he led them towards the dining area. Once they did, he grinned a little to himself as he gestured towards the table.

“I wasn't too sure what it was the both of you ate, so the chef prepped an assortment of shit," he stated, frowning slightly. What if they didn't like anything on the table? What was he going to do? He couldn't make anything unless he wanted to accidentally kill them. And that wasn't what he wanted to do.

“Oh.... Sol... Sol there's blueberry pancakes," Luna stated as her eyes widened a little. She made a beeline for them before pausing and glancing at Sam and Soleil.

“Help yourself," Samael replied, shrugging his shoulders lightly, feeling just a little bit proud that he got one right so far. Now, to gauge Soleil's reaction because he needed to pacify her, first.

Her face was almost no help. Fortunately for him, he seemed to be able to read her emotions even more easily then most people's. She was surprised, and woven into it was a distinct thread of appreciation, and a faint bit of guilt, too, for some reason.

It took her a while to decide, but eventually she approached the crepes, something about her motion suggesting she wasn't exactly familiar but wanted to try. After placing a couple of them on a plate she took a seat and returned her attention to him expectantly, though what exactly she was expecting wasn't clear.

He wasn't sure he knew how to say this in a delicate manner. Part of him wanted to just say what needed to be said, and maybe wait for it to settle in, however; part of him was also kind of regretting asking Soleil to bring her sister along. Mostly because he didn't know how she'd take the news, either. He wasn't familiar with the younger woman like he was with Soleil. Even though he'd said Soleil could bring her when she visited, this was Luna's first time at his residence. He wondered if it was by choice or if maybe Soleil didn't trust him enough yet.

He could understand that, he supposed. Trust wasn't easily given, and he speared a hand through his hair once more. There really was no easy way to say this, was there?

“I spoke with Crowley and Alastor," he began, picking up a plate of the french toast for himself. He wasn't hungry, though. Not with this guilt eating at him. “I've managed a deal with him but..." he trailed off, glancing up to meet Soleil's gaze.

The response he got was mostly muddled, some faint resentment and annoyance and even a vague hint of fear—not for herself, he sensed. But a needle of concern lanced through all the rest, and that was easiest to identify because it was aimed at him. "Are you all right?" Soleil asked. "If he demanded something unreasonable, you don't have to..." she trailed off, shaking her head faintly and tilting her head at him. "I'm getting ahead of myself. What happened, exactly?"

“It has nothing to do with me," he clarified. If she was concerned for him, as much as he appreciated it, he shouldn't be the one she was concerned about. “Alastor will no longer bother you," he put an emphasis on the word and kept his eye contact with Soleil, “but he is still entitled to her." He shifted his gaze towards Luna who was midway into taking a bite of her pancake when she frowned at him.

“Like Hell he is," she murmured before shoving the piece into her mouth.

“Unfortunately he is. He can still request fees to be paid for you, but he will no longer be increasing them every month. He has a set amount that I'm sure he told you about," he continued, turning back towards Soleil. Alastor had upped the fee to nearly four credits, but to Sam, that was more reasonable than letting it get to over ten.

“I'll be paying those for you, however; there might be a way to stall it, albeit temporarily."

Soleil, who still hadn't touched her crepes, studied him over her plate. She'd looked about to protest when he said he'd be paying the fees; she apparently decided to put a lid on it after he continued though, her eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "Motherfuckers," she muttered, sighing through her nose. "Okay... what's the plan then? We're pretty used to temporary fixes. Even just more time to figure out how we're going to handle this would help."

Her words betrayed of sense of resentment, anger, or upset with him, and neither did the rest. She was feeling plenty of anger, but it was firmly directed elsewhere, and left enough room for... gratitude. She was grateful to him.

Sam felt something in his chest. Pride? Happiness? No, it couldn't be either of those, but it didn't stop the small smile on his face that he hid behind his hand as he placed it on his chin in a thoughtful manner.

“There's a charity ball or something like that that is being held in about a week or so," he began, sighing softly. “Usually, we hire people to help attend those kinds of things. If she were in my employ, then Alastor wouldn't be able to lay claim on her as he has. She'd be in my employ which would temporarily extend what protection I can offer to her as well. Since it will only be for that one event, though, it'll only be for the rest of this month and the first week of next month."

“That means you won't have to pay fees for next month until I can figure something else out. Something more permanent." He did have something in mind, but he wasn't so sure how they would take it. This was much easier than the other option he had.

“What would I have to do at this event?" Luna asked a little suspiciously.

“Usually the people we hire are hired as hostesses. That means you'd be serving whichever demon or cambion who required your assistance."

Soleil furrowed her brows, then cleared her throat. "Uh... not to be the spanner in the works here but... we've met, right? I'm pretty sure I don't give off 'accommodating hostess' vibes."

He smiled a little ruefully at her statement. “You wouldn't have to do it," he began. “You're already in my employ which means you're already under my protection. Luna, however, would be the one who would have to do it if she wants to be in my employ," and his protection. Soleil was his mechanic; she didn't have to be hired for this event.

“He has a point, sis," Luna stated, sighing a bit heavily. “Like you said, you're not exactly an accommodating hostess, but I can do this. I work in a more people-oriented place, and we both know I can handle people a lot better than you can," Luna continued as she gave Soleil a sympathetic smile.

“They're not just people, though," Sam interjected. “These are demons, and in order to show that you are in fact in my employ, that means I have to invite Crowley and Alastor to show them. That means either one of them could buy your assistance and you would still have to deal with them for the rest of the night."

If Soleil wanted to go to keep an eye on her sister, though, Sam could invite her as his escort.

Soleil shook her head immediately. "I don't want to leave you on your own for something like this," she said to her sister, then amended. "It's not that I think you'd let anything happen, Sam, just—you'll probably have a million things to do at an event like that, right? Zinoviev's a sneaky bastard. I don't trust him as far as I could throw him."

She grimaced. "Actually I could probably throw him pretty far. Bad example."

Luna snorted into her drink before she set it down at the same time Sam snorted. A little grin appeared on his lips as he leaned over and placed his chin in his hand, resting his elbow on the table to support it.

“If you want to go and have a little more freedom than a hostess," he began, glancing in Soleil's direction, “you can accompany me as my date. That way if you really wanted to keep an eye on her, you could use that card I gave you and buy your sister for the night."

"Are you sure that's okay? Won't people flip their shit if you show up with a human as your—" Soleil's stream of words halted suddenly, eyes widening as it seemed to hit her exactly what he'd proposed. "D-uh." She flushed, her skin turning from porcelain-white to rose-pink and then red in real time. The color extended all the way down to the high collar of her shirt and presumably past, and there was no mistaking the cause, even without Samael's empathic abilities.

“So is that a yes or a no?" he asked, clearly amused and feeling slightly overwhelmed by her emotions. They hit him just a bit harder than that happiness had, and he found he enjoyed this as well. “As for people flipping their shit, who cares? They'll just be jealous once they see you and your sister dressed appropriately," he continued. He had plans for that, actually. He might not have been the best cook, but he knew how to put people together, especially beautiful people.

Her embarrassment was a strange thing, shot through with bits of irritation—probably at his amusement at her expense—and something else. A fluttery feeling that was akin to the glimmer of attraction he'd felt from her before, but not exactly the same. "Nobody likes a smug bastard, Sam," she grumbled, harrumphing and biting into one of the crepes at last. For a brief moment, her face shifted into pleased surprise, but it smoothed out again quickly, and she wiped a bit of cream away from the corner of her mouth with her thumb.

Clearing her throat, she glanced up towards him. "But uh—yeah. I'll go. I have to keep an eye on her somehow, so..." Her eyes dropped again.

He only grinned further. “Should I just take my breakfast into the other room?" Luna stated as she cleared her throat lightly. Samael chuckled lightly but waved a hand in front of his face in a nonchalant fashion.

“Alright, then we have a contract," Sam stated as he glanced in Luna's direction for a brief moment. She made a face but nodded her head. “You'll be going as my date, and Luna will be in my employ. I think this works out sufficiently until a more permanent solution can be found."

He knew Bael wasn't going to like the fact that he had a human as his date, and another human in his employ, but Bael was an asshole.

“The event will be on the twenty ninth of this month. It's best if the both of you stay the night on the twenty eighth so that we will have plenty of time the morning before to get the both of you ready," he stated as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It would be strange to have them at his home for a night, but... well, for some reason he wanted them to say yes. They didn't have to, of course, but...

Soleil nodded a little, her embarrassment fading as she reasserted control over her own emotions. It was in a much more typical, pragmatic tone of voice that she answered. "All right; we can make sure our schedules are clear." She paused, then with a sideward glance at her sister, pursed her lips.

When she turned back to him, though, she was almost smiling, and the gratitude was back. "Thanks. For going so far to help us out. I'll figure out some way to make it up to you someday, I swear."

Samael smiled, the first one that felt genuine in years.

“Of course. I'll look forward to it," he replied.

“Ugh, seriously guys, get a room."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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#, as written by Aethyia


20 Victorianus
Shelter #309 - Afternoon - Snow
Michael Asmund


The snow was coming down in thick flakes this afternoon, the light of day already fleeing, ceding its position to the deep grey of a long pre-twilight. Not uncommon here, especially not in winter. And fittingly enough, the month the demons had named for their victory over heaven was very much a winter month, when sunshine and warmth were scarce.

Still, this had some small benefits. For example, Mick had been able to secure the four large bags of potting soil over his shoulders for the price of a few hours' work at a construction site. It wasn't the right time of year to plant anything, and the bags were dusty, leftovers from a landscaping project in some warmer month. But it'd last just fine until the spring, provided the shelter could find somewhere to put it.

He caught himself wondering if she'd be there. He'd not run into Luna for a good week and a half, which was not at all unusual. The last time had been... interesting. Admittedly he'd been a little wary, considering he'd run into bloody Abaddon of all people at the same time, but it seemed that he, too, was going by a different name these days. Living a different life. It was something he'd have figured for impossible, once. Now all it did was stir the old memories, of the only other person he'd known who'd really managed to adapt to the new world they were in, instead of trying to assert himself over it like the demons did or opting out of it as much as possible like Mick did.

They weren't exactly welcome recollections, but he didn't hate them. The side effect, of making him think about Luna and her sister, was less nice. But he'd live. He'd see her eventually, confirm she was all right, and... that would be that. There was no need for anything else.

He approached the shelter, opening the door only slightly awkwardly given that he was carrying over two hundred pounds of soil over his shoulders. It wasn't the weight that made it difficult, just the volume. Stepping through, he was hit with a wave of warmth, and nodded to a couple of the regulars seated at a table.

"Who's in?" he asked, elevating his volume only slightly. The nice thing about having a bass like his was that it carried. "I've got a, uh, donation, I suppose."

“Lu's in today," Louis replied, jabbing his finger in the direction she was presumably in. “Been muttering to herself all day like she lost it or something," he continued with a light shrug of his shoulders. Louis was sitting with Marianna, and she offered Mick a short smile.

“You say that as if she doesn't talk to herself often," she stated, shaking her head at Louis before turning back towards Mick. “I'm sure she'll be grateful for the donation, though. She's been in a weird mood lately. Looks mostly good, but who knows," she continued as she mimicked Louis and shrugged her shoulders. It was only a moment later that Luna arrived, though, and she blinked in Mick's direction.

“Thought I heard someone," she stated as she glanced towards the bags. She had a smear of dirt on her cheek, but her hair was pulled into a ponytail, probably to keep it out of her face with whatever she was doing.

“What can I do for you, Mick?" she asked, smiling somewhat in his direction.

He arched an eyebrow at her, a soft whuff escaping him. He'd have thought that'd be fairly obvious. "Well, uh, if you can find me somewhere to put all this down, that'd be appreciated," he said simply, his voice taking on its usual gruff edge. He didn't try to put it there, it was just... how he talked most of the time.

It didn't seem to bother her, though since she smiled and nodded her head. “Oh, yeah, sure," she stated as she motioned for him to follow her. “You can set it down in this corner over here if you don't mind," she continued as she pointed to a corner near a couple of broken tables.

“Thanks Mick, but, uh... what is it?" she asked, tilting her head slightly.

He full-out snorted at that, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Soil," he explained. "For your garden boxes. You don't want to use the normal dirt around here—almost nothing will grow. This is the lab-made stuff. Simulates old-Earth dirt."

Carefully, he eased the bags off his shoulders and onto the ground, stacking them neatly so they wouldn't be too difficult to pick up for the next person that did so. She could probably handle a few no problem, but the others around here were mostly just humans, and not all of them especially strong.

He eyed the broken tables. One of them was in fact out and out busted, but another looked to just have a badly-bent metal leg, and the third seemed workable. "I can fix these?" he offered, pointing to the two in question. "They won't look pretty, but they'll work."

“Really?" she asked, arching a brow in his direction. “I mean, that would be great because they'd be usable again. They don't need to look pretty; I think everyone would appreciate just to have more places to sit. Also, that would mean more people could come if they wanted to," she stated as she moved towards the broken tables.

“Oh, but... I don't have any tools with me right now, and it might be awhile before I can get them, especially at the end of this month," she said as she pursed her lips together and furrowed her brows. “Do you think you'll need tools to fix them?"

Should he need tools? Yeah, definitely.

Did he?

Not even slightly.

Of course, this itself was a conundrum. He got by because he never made the fact that he was something other than human obvious. His supposed humanity was the foundation of these people's trust in him. And yet... it had never been what helped them. What he had to give anymore was relatively little, but even he was capable of this.

"I think I can manage without," he said, choosing not to make a big deal of it. With a little luck, they'd just believe him unusually handy and creative. "I've got a little wood glue leftover from my job today anyhow." That was true enough, at least; he tended to take the last little bits of things, what would otherwise be thrown out, from any job he worked, and in so doing had accumulated a modest stockpile of useful supplies. He'd used to carry them around in the pockets of his big coat, which due to a trick of magic were always just roomy enough to accommodate whatever the wearer thought would fit. Now he had to stash them, because the coat he had left wasn't really large enough to make that look plausible to the human eye.

"Why don't you go clear out whatever spot you want them to be at?" he suggested. He couldn't do this with an audience, after all.

She arched a brow at him and stared for a moment longer before she pursed her lips together. “Well... if you don't need the help," she began, glancing over her shoulder for a moment before turning back to face him, “I can go do that. Shouldn't take long, I don't think." She gave him a thumbs up before turning on her heel and making her way towards whatever spot she'd choose.

He rolled his eyes at the gesture, turning back to face the tables and reaching for the one with the bad leg first. That, he just bent back into shape, making sure not to get it perfectly straight because that would be unusual, and likely impossible for even a cambion to do, unless they were particularly physically gifted. Setting that one aside, he withdrew the tube of wood glue from his pocket.

There wasn't nearly enough, but abundance wasn't a particularly-difficult trick for him, not in small measures, anyway. He'd never be able to feed a crowd on a few fish and loaves, but he could at least manage enough to fix a crack in a tabletop. Once the tube was full again, there was no real need for secrecy, so he took that one a little more meticulously, applying the glue and pressing the sides of the crack together as well as he could.

It was, as he'd suggested, an ugly fix, but a fix nonetheless.

“You were not wrong," Luna stated with a mild hint of amusement in her voice. “It really is an ugly fix," she continued, huffing slightly. “Thanks for fixing it, though. There will be more places for people to sit; they'll also be able to sleep on it if they need to," she stated as she folded her arms over her chest.

“The shelter doesn't have many beds to begin with, but even if it's not exactly ideal to sleep on a table where so many people eat..." she trailed off as she scratched her cheek in a thoughtful manner. She shook her head, though, as if thinking against it.

“You've been a big help, you know that? And I'm not just saying that because you're so tall. You... well, thanks," she murmured softly, smiling a little awkwardly.

"Was that a pun?" Mick asked, almost incredulous. If so it might well be one of the worst he'd heard, but for that exact reason he huffed a soft chuckle. "You're a strange girl," he said, shaking his head with a vaguely mystified expression. "Ah, though, perhaps I should say woman. Girl's a little rude for an adult, I suppose. Pardon me."

Luna snorted and lifted her hands when she shrugged. “It's not like I'd be offended if you called me a girl. I am one after all, no matter what age the word is tied to," she replied, rolling her eyes seemingly at herself and smiling.

“Do... you mind if I ask your opinion on something?" she asked suddenly, her smile fading as she wore a somewhat serious expression.

Mick adjusted one of the tables so it was in the spot she'd left for it, then took a seat, gesturing for her to do the same across from him. "Sure," he said, wondering if this had to do with the 'weird mood' the others figured she was in. "Something eating you?"

“Kind of wish something was eating me, then I wouldn't have to feel so awkward about this," she said softly as she took a seat across from him. “There's this event thing going on at the end of the month and... well, I was hired to be a hostess for it. But the thing is..." she paused, furrowing her brows lightly as she stared at Mick.

“The reason I was hired was so that my sister wouldn't have to pay some asshole, protection fees. She works as a mechanic to a demon, or whatever he is, named Samael so she's protected from the asshole whom we pay the fees to. I'm... not, but Sam suggested that if I wanted to be in his employ, that I could work as one of the hostesses at the charity event." She grimaced slightly before leaning back a little and folded her hands in front of her.

“I just... well, there's going to be a lot of demons there, and I just thought that maybe you might have some advice or something like that. I mean, I don't know what your experience with demons has been, but..." she trailed off slightly.

Samael.

The name slammed into his thoughts with all the finesse of an eighteen-wheeler sans brakes, and for a moment, he was sure some of his shock must have registered on his face. Mick struggled to get it under control, but at the same time he knew there just... was no hiding it.

So he dragged his hands down his face, giving himself a moment of reprieve, then ran them back through his hair, blessedly free of tangles or he'd have snagged them for sure. "Uh..."

It wasn't a matter of whether he needed to explain his reaction. It was a matter of how. "Look—" He grimaced. "Do me a favor and don't mention me to the guy, but... I'm familiar with him."

Only then did he start to put together the rest of what she'd said, only it didn't make any sense. "Can you... back up and give me a little more context on... all of that? Who's asking for protection fees, and how did Samael get involved, exactly?" Maybe that would help him make sense of this.

“Alright. I won't mention you to him," she stated first before furrowing her brows deeper. “Soleil and I live in the Pits, which is part of the territory Alastor owns. He's a wanna be cambion crime lord who only gets away with the shit that he does because of his father, Crowley. Unfortunately if we want to keep Alastor off of our backs, we have to pay him protection fees."

“Of late, though, he's been a little more persistent. He wants Sol and I to be his caged pets," she made a face of disgust at the word before shaking her head, “but we turned him down. He didn't like that so he increased our protection fees. Originally, it was five hundred, two hundred and fifty each, but he increased it and put an increase for each month after. Soleil was hired by Samael to be his mechanic and... well they must have become close somehow because he pays her really well. Well enough that we could afford the protection fee increase, but... Alastor found out about it."

“He made an outrageous demand that we pay him even more money because of who Sol works for. She must have told Sam about it because the next thing I know is he's inviting us to his manor and telling us that Sol is safe from Alastor, but that he couldn't do anything for me. I don't... hate or blame him for it, really. He's been very nice to us that it's kind of hard to believe that he has an ill-intentions. And the way Sol smiles with him, and he with her, it's..." she paused and shook her head.

“Anyway, he invited us to his manor the other day to tell us of a plan that would help me if only temporarily."

"Well shit."

Mick wasn't oblivious to the organized crime element in Tartarus, of course. It was just one of those things that he had never been able to do much about, aside from chasing the occasional enforcer off when he happened to know someone being harassed. He could offer the same here, he supposed, but it was kind of a different thing when the crime lord himself was personally involved. A cambion, as she said, backed by a powerful demon father. Both of those things were rarer, and complicated the situation a great deal.

And then there was Samael.

Mick didn't know what to make of his involvement. It didn't sound like him. Or at least, didn't sound like who he'd become. If anything, it sounded like... like the way he'd used to be, before everything had gone to shit. He sighed heavily, forming one hand into a fist and resting his jaw on it. "I... don't know what to tell you, honestly," he said, choosing his words carefully and speaking slowly as a result. "There's... there's good in Samael. But last I knew of him it was buried pretty deep."

His lips pursed. "I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you to be careful around him. But... there's a chance that he's genuine in his desire to help." If so, it was something Mick hadn't imagined he'd ever see again. And, well, he wouldn't. All the more reason for them not to ever mention him—it might sour things, and he didn't want that.

"As for your larger problem..." He hesitated. He shouldn't be getting involved. It was none of his business. Sure, he'd said he'd look out for them, but that was a long time ago, and then he'd lost them. What right did he have to play knight in shining armor now? That wasn't the kind of thing he could be anymore.

Maybe he could just let her decide. "If there's anything I can do, just ask. I've scared off a few idiots in my day." He tried for a smile, knowing she'd probably decline because she figured him for a human. Fragile, and unlikely to be able to do much.

Part of that was even true.

"But the plan, uh... that's this job you were talking about?"

She nodded her head, but seemed occupied with something else. “You'd... really be willing to put yourself in that kind of danger for us?" she asked softly, almost as if she didn't quite believe him. “I appreciate it, really, but... I wouldn't want anything to happen to you because of some idiot," she said, smiling ruefully.

“I mean, you might be able to scare him off; you've got the grumpy bear look going for you, and I'm sure you could pull it off very well in the end," she rolled her eyes in a joking manner before shaking her head.

“But yes, that's what this job is that I'm talking about. It would put me in Sam's employ temporarily which would mean that Alastor could effectively shove off for a month or so, but... well, it's only a temporary fix."

Alastor. Crowley. At the very least they were names he'd heard of once or twice. Names he could begin to dig into a little bit. Mick knew people, and those people knew things. Maybe he'd be able to unearth something useful.

Tucking that thought away at the back of his mind, he focused on the more immediate part of things. "Hostessing for a charity event, you said?" He knit his brows. "Demons' idea of charity uh... really isn't. Most likely it's a pretext for all of them getting together to party, make backroom deals, that kind of thing. A couple private schools will get whatever money they claim to make for 'charity.'"

Mick shook his head. Off-topic. "Uh, anyway. Be... careful with that kind of thing. Samael might be different, but... most of them don't see humans as worth anything. Even if strictly speaking it's against the rules you might be asked to, uh..." He realized a bit belatedly that he next part wasn't necessarily comfortable to talk about. It wasn't that Mick was ignorant about how the world worked, but he got the sense that Luna had been protected from a lot of this stuff, and he wasn't exactly happy to be the one breaking the news.

"Well, sometimes 'hostess' isn't that far removed from 'prostitute,' at these things." Mick knew plenty of sex workers. They weren't, in general, any better or worse than anyone else. But it wasn't the kind of work everyone wanted to do or could handle, and he definitely didn't want her to be blindsided by such a demand.

“Kind of figured as much when Sam threw around the whole buying bit," she replied dryly and sighed heavily. She rolled her eyes a bit but offered him a smile. “I'm not four years old, you know. You don't have to be gentle with me. I know the world isn't rainbows and butterflies, or however that idiom goes," she continued before her smile stretched a little wider.

“But thanks for the headsup, Mick. It's just going to suck so much," she said with an exaggerated sigh.

She may well not be, but that didn't quite quash the instinct to be gentle. "If I'm not, I squish things," he said, trying for a bit of humor and drumming his fingertips on the table top. "And yeah, it probably will." He wished he could offer some kind of help, but if he got within a block of an event like that, someone was bound to sense him, even diminished as he was, and then all bets were off.

"I'm uh... around if you want to talk about it, though," he said, feeling a little irony in echoing an offer she'd made him once.

She chuckled at his first statement it seemed before she nodded her head. “I suppose that would be a bad thing if you just squished things all the time," she stated, clearly amused. “Thanks, Mick. The event is on the twenty ninth so... if you don't hear from me or see me a week after that, well... I suppose it was nice having what little freedom there was," she seemed to be joking in her statement, but there was something in the way her shoulders slumped that suggested a sort of defeat.

“But if all goes well, I'll tell you all about it. Who knows, something interesting and funny might happen. Alastor might somehow find himself falling down the long flight of stairs demons seem so fond of having."

Mick resisted the urge to frown; honestly he wasn't sure how successfully. If she did end up captive somewhere, he at least would know where to start looking. His word might not be worth a damn anymore, but he wouldn't just ignore it if she vanished.

He didn't say that, though, instead nodding slightly at her joke, though given her previous statement he couldn't find it funny. "Try not to draw too much attention to yourself," he drawled. "He'll get what's coming to him even if no stairs are involved."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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29 Victorianus
Samael's Manor - Early Evening - Overcast
Lunaria Nishant


Luna stared at herself in the mirror. There was apparently a uniform that the hostesses had to wear, however; the one in question had been altered slightly. Luna wasn't entirely sure why, but it was too late to back out of the contract. The dress itself was black and very pretty, she had to admit. It fell in layers around her legs, filtering out slightly in the back with what looked to be synthetic crow feathers. The dress itself was sleeveless, but the jacket that accompanied it was high collared and looked like it was attached to the dress itself.

That wasn't the strange part, really. What was really strange was that Samael, of all people, was currently running a brush through her hair, combing out the tangles that would have been there, otherwise.

“You have a lot of tangles. Don't you work as a secretary? You should take better care of your hair," he murmured as he continued running the brush through the strands. Luna resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

“What's it to you? It's not your hair," she retorted, causing Samael to snort softly.

“You and your sister both have beautiful hair. It should be showcased more often," was his reply as he began braiding part of her hair. Before she knew it, he had her hair mostly up with a braid on the side of her head connecting to the loose bun. “Close your eyes, now. Your makeup needs to be done," he stated as Luna rolled her eyes this time. She didn't immediately comply, though, and glanced around the room.

“Where's Sol?" she decided to ask. They had stayed the night at Samael's, which was just strange to begin with.

“She's getting dressed in the next room over. She'll be over once she's done so I can do the same thing," he replied.

It wasn't much longer before Soleil in fact shuffled in, looking distinctly uncomfortable and batting at some of the sheer material that comprised her gown.

The thing itself was a work of art, in a way, a gradual fade of colors in varying shades of purple and blue, but it only took one glance to know that it suited her sister exceptionally well, Sol's tall, slender frame carrying it well. It had one shoulder, almost no back and a long slit up the leg, but the fabric was floaty and gauzy enough that the exposed skin was nothing more than a tease, really. Tasteful, was the word for that kind of thing.

Sol, however, just looked uncomfortable. She was carrying the shoes that went with it in one hand—tall heels that were as barely-there as the thinnest parts of the gown. "This is too weird," she grumbled. "I'm going to stick out like a badly-driven nail."

Samael looked pleased, if anything, and Luna just snorted at Sol. “Is it because you're human, or because you look like you'd basically shame all the demonesses there?" Luna retorted as Samael snorted softly.

“It's not weird," he stated, moving Luna's head a bit so that she was staring forward. “It looks great on you, and if anything, you'll blend right in once I'm done with you," he continued as he placed his forefinger and index finger on Luna's eyelids, forcing them closed. “This one needs her makeup done, first."

“Fine, fine," Luna stated as she could feel him starting to apply eyeshadow, maybe. It took him almost half an hour to finish, and Luna wasn't entirely sure why it had taken that long to begin with. He turned her so that she was facing the mirror and Luna almost blinked in surprise. Is that what she looked like if she actually applied makeup? Her eyes were painted a light pink fading into a darker red. The eyeliner was done in a soft smoke kind of way, almost as if to give her the smokey eye set-up.

Her lips were a glossy pinkish red, and had just enough blush on her cheeks so as to not look so pale.

“I look like a fucking doll," was the only thing she could say.

“Well... yes, that's the point. Anyway, Sol, your turn." Samael pat the chair Luna was currently in, causing her to roll her eyes. She stood, nonetheless, so that Sol could take the chair. She was interested to see what Sam was going to do.

Soleil grimaced. "Not a lot, please," she said, yanking the ties out of her hair with little ceremony. It was even longer than Luna's when let down, hitting the small of her back. "I really don't like makeup in the first place."

She sat on the chair anyway, though, making sure the skirt of her dress didn't fall apart at the slit and expose her leg.

Sam sighed almost dramatically, and Luna had to admit that he complimented Sol very well. It wasn't even that their coloration was the complete opposite; she was Sol's complete opposite too, but it was moreso that they just seemed comfortable with each other. In a way that Luna's not entirely sure she'd ever seen Sol that comfortable. A demon, fallen, whatever the hell he was, was combing Sol's hair, and she was letting him.

Once he was done with her hair, he'd mostly left it loose, however; it wasn't obvious at first that it was actually braided. He'd put a few ornaments in the braids, ones that looked more like flower buds. He turned Sol's chair around, though, and did the same thing he'd done to Luna: closed her eyes with his fingers before applying Sol's makeup. He was being extremely meticulous, and Luna was almost in awe at how skilled he was with this. If someone had told her that someone like him was a makeup artist... she might have believed it, actually, with the way he dressed and carried himself.

“You sure that's my sister under all that?" Luna stated, causing Sam to give her a flat look as he turned Sol's chair back towards the mirror so she could see what he'd done.

Her eyeshadow was an electric blue color that turned a bit darker towards Sol's temples. There was some white in there near her tearducts, but the eyeliner was winged. It really made the violet of Sol's eyes pop, and it looked really beautiful in Luna's opinion.

Sol, for her part, blinked several times, scrunching her brows and then relaxing them before she turned her eyes up towards Samael. "Wizard," she accused. "You did something to my actual face. Moved the bones around or something." She sounded a very Sol-like mixture of grumpy and vaguely surprised with the results. But, also in a very Sol-like fashion, she didn't like to make a fuss, or have one made about her, so it was only a beat later that she went about the business of slipping on her shoes and standing.

In the heels, she was actually just about the same height as Samael, maybe just a touch taller, though the difference was impossible to tell for sure. Slight, either way. "At least Zinoviev won't recognize us. Should make our lives easier." She shook out the fabric of her skirt so it lay properly. "What am I supposed to do for this, anyway? I get that Luna's waitressing or whatever, but am I just supposed to follow you around?" She tilted her head at Sam.

“He won't recognize you at first," Sam stated in a matter-of-fact tone, giving Sol a flat look. He smirked, though, and shook his head. “No, not if you don't want to," he replied to her question. “You'll be accompanying me as my date, but you're free to roam around if you want. I figured it was something you'd like to do to keep an eye on the little one," he stated, pointing in Luna's direction.

“I'm not little," Luna retorted, furrowing her brows as Sam gave her a flat look.

“You're the youngest and shortest one, here. That makes you little," he deadpanned. Luna just rolled her eyes. “Anyway, as I was saying," he began, huffing lightly, “you can follow that one around and even buy her time if you want to keep things cordial. That's entirely up to you. If you want, I can also follow you around; it doesn't matter either way, but if I do, you'll likely be in the company of more people than you'd like to be."

"Popular, huh?" Sol lifted an eyebrow at Samael—it almost looked like she was teasing him, except Sol didn't really do that. Not with anyone but Luna, anyway. After giving it a moment of serious consideration, she pursed her lips. "I guess I'll buy her time, since that's probably the only way to stop Zinoviev from doing it. What kinds of stuff is going to be at this venue? If I have the chance, I'm going to make him regret his bullshit, but I need to know what I'm working with."

Sam snorted softly and rolled his eyes a bit. “Yeah, well the thing about buying time is that you'll need to make sure you request it for the entire event. Otherwise Zinoviev can still swoop in and say he'd like to claim an hour or so. It's a... tricky business, I suppose," he shrugged his shoulders as Luna furrowed her brows. She really didn't want that to happen. Any time spent in Zinoviev's company for longer than a minute was likely to get her or Sol in trouble. Well... likely her since she'd be the one stuck with him.

“As for what kinds of stuff are at this venue, hm," he frowned as he seemed to contemplate her statement. “Well, the charity event is just a front. Most of the demons will be doing other shit, mostly moving territory around, negotiating souls, and things like that. As for what's actually going to be at the charity, well..." he trailed off, causing Luna to furrow her brows.

“Well what?" she asked, watching as he slumped his shoulders a bit.

“At the end of the night they auction people off, mostly people who still have their souls and whathaveyou. There's a chance they might try to do that to you," he explained as he turned towards Luna.

“Don't you think you should have mentioned that before I agreed to this shit?" Luna stated. She really didn't want to be treated as a piece of property for people to buy. It was disgusting, and even if Sam had the money to buy her, or whatever it was, it still felt gross. She could feel her skin crawling.

“Don't worry about it, too much. I've arranged it so that you won't be on the list, given your inexperience. No offense, but demons want those with souls to have some kind of experience and, well... you don't peg me as the type of person who does." Well now Luna felt a little offended.

“You don't know. Maybe I do," she retorted, causing Sam to snort.

“Sure, whatever you say."

"You're sure she's not going to be on the list?" Sol said, clearly not willing to let it go at a 'most likely' kind of thing.

Luna could understand, honestly. She didn't like the look on Sam's face, though, as he furrowed his brows. “Honestly, even my word doesn't have much sway when it comes to things like this. I've done what I can to keep her name off the list, but there's no telling whether or not they will put it on, anyway."

Well, that wasn't exactly promising. Luna resisted the urge to run a hand through her hair, not wanting to mess up Sam's work, however; she really wanted to do something.

“It's fine, she can just bid for me, right?" she asked Sam as he nodded his head.

“Even so, depending on who's bidding at the time, even she might get outbid. They'll keep going just to make it entertaining, but it's up to the auctioneer to decide, ultimately, whose bid wins."

“Great."

"That makes the second part of this even more important," Soleil said, voice firm and expression hard. "Do they gamble at these events? Poker maybe? If I can win enough, it won't matter, and I can borrow against the card to get myself a spot at the table."

It was something she'd done once or twice on a much smaller scale, Luna knew. Staked a check for a job on a poker game with some idiot who thought they could beat a big-eyed little girl at a game of bluffing and calculation. But still... those weren't exactly upper-class demons.

“Of course they do," Sam replied almost immediately. “The only thing, it's not just money they gamble with. They gamble with souls, too, depending on who is actually playing. You don't get many humans here, but those that can afford it, and still have their souls, do show up from time to time." He furrowed his brows at that as he glanced at Sol, and Luna could have sworn she'd seen something flash in his eyes.

“Don't. Don't gamble your soul no matter what, alright?" he seemed almost concerned, but Luna thought it might just be a farce. Why would he be concerned about Sol? Why was he so concerned about them in general? It made no sense, but...

“You shouldn't underestimate my sister, Samael," Luna stated as she glanced back at Sol. “But he's also right. I don't care what ends up happening; it's just for a night and I don't want you risking your soul for me. No. Matter. What." Luna was adamant about that. She didn't want Sol to risk her soul just for her sake. If on the off chance Luna's name was on the list, she could handle a night, but a soul wasn't so easy to get back. She believed in her sister's abilities, but at the same time, she couldn't help but feel a little doubtful.

Soleil frowned at the both of them. "Do I look like an idiot to you?" she asked, a little irritation sharpening her otherwise flat tone. "Besides, I'm not going to need to." She sniffed. "Bastards aren't going to know what hit them."

“You look like a beautiful idiot," Luna drawled, earning a soft snort from Sam.

“We should get going," he stated, moving so that he was standing a couple of feet away from Sol. “She needs to get prepped for her job, and we need to make an entrance," he stated, holding out both of his elbows in their direction.

“You look like a chicken doing that, Sam," but Luna took his right arm, anyway.

"Don't steal this one," Sol said wryly, taking his left a little hesitantly. "He's much more useful in his coop."

“Wouldn't dream of it. He's your chicken, after all," Luna retorted. Sam just looked vaguely confused.

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Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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3 Satanus
West Area Park - Early Afternoon - Light Snow
Lunaria Nishant


Luna wondered when this good luck streak her and her sister were on, was going to turn around and bite them in the ass. It had to be soon, right? When had life ever been so easy for them? Since when was there ever a time when they actually had food in their fridge and not have to worry if they'd have it tomorrow, or the next day, or even next week? Sometimes Luna wondered if it scared Sol as much as it scared her because this was just too much to believe.

What was Samael really after? What were his true intentions? He had to have them, right?

Sighing heavily, she pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind. She had prior plans for today, and those thoughts didn't need to ruin it. She had something she wanted to do, but first, she needed to find a certain someone. The information she collected, well traded for, said that Mick was somewhere in the nearby park. She wasn't sure why she was seeking him out, of all the people she had readily available to her. Some part of it just... maybe enjoyed his company.

The other part of it definitely thought he was the best person to ask because he always seemed to have good ideas. The garden, fixing the tables, and this was one thing she definitely wanted his advice for. Plus, she just really liked listening to him talk. She wasn't sure why, but she liked the way the bass of his voice just rumbled. It sent shivers down her spine, but not necessarily the kind that were uncomfortable.

And she could feel her cheeks burning slightly.

“Get a grip, Luna, you fucking psycho. He'd think you were crazy if you told him that," she muttered to herself, tapping her cheeks just lightly enough to feel the sting. It wasn't the cold, though, that stung. She could never explain why she wasn't bothered by it as much as most people, and it was perhaps that reason alone that she was only wearing a charcoal grey puffer vest over a thin white long sleeved turtle neck. The shirt itself had a hole near her elbow, but she didn't mind so much. She'd had it for several years, and it was one of her favorites. The same thing could be said about the jacket. It was clearly worn, but remained mostly intact.

Her pants, however, were littered with random holes and tears, all near her knees and some near her calves. Those were covered by the dark grey long boots she wore, though. Still, none of the exposed skin from the holes were bothered much even with the light snowfall.

“Alright, let's see. Levi said he was around here somewhere," she murmured to herself, pursing her lips together. Maybe he'd left already? If he did, finding him was going to be a lot harder. She could ask someone else to accompany her, but...

Fortunately, he didn't seem to be going to any particular effort to keep himself hidden or anything. She hadn't been traversing the park for long before she spotted him, sitting on some brown grass with his legs crossed. He wasn't wearing a coat, either, just a cardigan and some fingerless gloves over a normal long-sleeved shirt. Even the scarf was missing, an omission that made a lot more sense when she spotted what he was doing.

In front of him, tucked into the space underneath a couple of bushes, was a battered cardboard box, filled with newspaper scraps and the scarf, and, it seemed, a mother cat and some juvenile kittens. Mick was slowly breaking apart a stick of jerky in his hand, feeding the mother cat by hand, it seemed.

It was enough to make her smile, though, because it was just too adorable. Here he was, this grump-bear of a man, hunched over a cat and her kittens and tending to them. She moved a little slower so as to not startle the animals, keeping a respectable distance from them. Luna didn't want them to scatter away from the warmth they were no doubt enjoying.

“Hey, Mick?" she called out in a tentative manner. “You have a minute?" she asked.

He didn't startle at the sound of her voice, so maybe he'd already known she was there. He usually seemed to, somehow, like he was ever really surprised by anything. He did turn his head towards her though. When he was no longer in profile it was easier to see the tiniest of smiles curling one side of his lips. "Sure," he said simply, gesturing to the spot next to him as he continued to break apart the jerky stick. "Have a seat."

She took it obligingly, situating herself next to him to stare at the animals. “As you can see, I made it back in one piece," she began in a light tone. After all, the last conversation they had was before the hostess job, and that had been something she'd said offhandedly in a slightly joking manner. She pushed a soft sigh through her nose, though, and inched her smile a little higher.

“And I need your help with something since you said you'd be around if I needed to talk about something." Maybe she could even get something for the kittens, something a little warmer than the scarf and box they were in. If she could, she would take them home and give them a nicer place to stay, but they were probably better off here. At least Mick was tending to them, right? Pushing the thoughts from her mind, she glanced in Mick's direction.

“Do you..." she pursed her lips together, frowning a little at herself. “Do you want to go shopping with me for the shelter?" she asked once the words formed properly in her mind. She might have had more experience than Sol when it came to talking to people, but that didn't mean she wasn't just as awkward about it, sometimes.

As the mother cat took a chunk of meat from his fingers and started to chew on it, Mick turned towards Luna and blinked. The request had evidently not been what he was expecting, if he'd been expecting anything in particular. "I don't mind," he said after a moment, laying the rest of the jerky pieces down in front of the cat and crinkling the wrapper up in one hand. "Where are you going to do this, exactly?"

He didn't ask the more obvious question—where did you get the money?—perhaps because he deemed it too rude or something of the kind. He could be a very blunt person, even rough in his mannerisms sometimes, but he did seem to have a sense of manners.

Either way, Luna was used to those kinds of mannerisms. Sol could be like that sometimes, even if there were miniscule differences, but Luna figured that's just how some people were. She furrowed her brows a little deeper, though, when Mick's question caught up with her.

“I don't know," she replied, sighing softly. “I want to get things that the people will need and can use, but at the same time..." she trailed off, chewing her bottom lip for a second. If she went overboard, that could attract unwanted attention. Demons and cambions of all sorts might show up at the shelter and cause unnecessary trouble for the people there. Luna didn't want that.

But she also didn't want them to be without. “That's why I need your help," she admitted, glancing up to meet his gaze. Even when they were sitting down, she was still much shorter than him. “I don't want to get things that will draw attention to the shelter, but I also don't want anyone to go without something they need. Food, clothes, those are all priorities, but if a demon or cambion sees someone who isn't usually dressed nice... they might get the wrong idea."

She really didn't know how else to explain it.

Mick blinked. "You've really thought about this," he said, sounding pleased, of all things. Expelling a heavy breath, he unfolded his legs and stood, oddly smoothly for a man of such bulk. "I think your best bets are disposables, like food, but stuff that'll last a while, so you can store it. And also secondhand things. For clothes and all that. Cheaper to get a lot of, for one. Also perfectly functional but not likely to seem out of place." He ticked the points off on his fingers, then belatedly offered a hand down to help her to her feet.

"I know a couple places for that, if you've got the time today."

“Of course I thought about it," Luna said, not bothering to hide the smile on her face as she took his hand. It was rough and calloused, but Luna supposed it must have been from the years he spent on the streets and the odd jobs he picked up. Once she was standing, she realized a little belatedly that she hadn't released Mick's hand yet, and pulled hers gently, setting it to her side.

“I, uh, I'm off today so I have all the time," she stated, coughing lightly before rolling her eyes. Mostly at herself because she sounded like she couldn't form a proper sentence with what she just said. “I have time is what I meant to say," she grumbled.

“Why don't we start with the closest place?" she suggested.

Nodding, Mick started out of the park, pausing long enough for Luna to catch up and walk next to him instead of behind. "It's not far. Maybe a mile or two. There used to be a bus that ran this way, but..." He shrugged. The end of the sentence was obvious enough. Some demon had decided it wasn't worth the expense to have a line of transport for the area.

"You... how did you find the other night, then? You'd mentioned a job. Seems it went all right at least?" He narrowed his eyes, as if searching her for any sign it hadn't been.

Luna snorted softly. “It actually wasn't half as bad as I thought it was going to be," she admitted, rolling her eyes at one particular memory. “One demon tried to get a little fresh but..." she shrugged her shoulders. It was kind of funny when Sol intervened during that. All she did was look at the demon and they backed off. Sol could be really intimidating when she wanted to be, but Luna had a feeling it might have had something to do with a particular Fallen who had been there as well.

“It went well enough that I was actually able to get," she paused as she glanced up towards the sky, trying to remember the exact amount she'd received in tips, “at least four credits in tips. I think it was a little more than that, but I'm not really keeping count because it's not entirely mine."

That wasn't true, exactly. Sure, it was her money, but Luna didn't want to keep it all for herself. The shelter and its people meant a lot to her and she wanted to do something for them. She wasn't entirely sure why it was especially so for him. It wasn't like they'd known each other for very long, but... well, maybe they were on the cusp of actually being friends? That'd be nice.

“What about you? How are you doing? I see you're missing your trademark coat," she noted.

Mick whistled, low and soft, at the number, but made no further comment about it.

"Good to hear it went all right, then," he noted mildly, hanging a left. "As for me, yeah I guess. I traded the coat away a while back, and the cats need the scarf. I'm all right though; the cold doesn't bother me much. The coat was mostly just for the pockets, and I can do okay without it."

He didn't seem much smaller without it, either, even ambling casually down the street with a slightly-hunched posture and his hands in his pockets.

In time, they arrived at what seemed to be a large consignment store, once-cheerful blue exterior paint faded and chipped. Someone clearly took the time to wash the building, though, and when Mick opened the door for her to enter, she was met with long rows of... well, a lot of things. Clothes, dishware, toiletry items and other disposables, and so on. It had a faintly-stale smell, and one of the overhead lights was flickering with a soft buzzing noise.

Her immediate thought was that Soleil could probably fix that, however; she wasn't here for that. She was here to find things that could be used at the shelter. Mostly things that wouldn't draw too much attention, though. She furrowed her brows and chewed the bottom of her lip for a moment. If she grabbed too much at once, that would definitely be suspicious.

She might be able to afford those things, now, but it would have defeated the purpose of remaining incognito. “Well, since we're in the beginnings of Satanus," she began, glancing towards the area where the clothes were located, “maybe we should start with that? I'd rather the people be warm enough to survive the winter, first."

It was one thing to die of hunger, but they would likely die from the cold, first, if they weren't properly clothed. Food would be the next thing to get, but she wanted to choose blankets and coats, first.

“We should probably get a variety of sizes, too. Nothing to big, although..." she trailed off, glancing in Mick's direction and snorting softly. He was really tall, and she doubted there would be anything here that would fit him. Sure, he had a coat before that looked like it fit okay, but he'd said he traded it.

“I guess we'll have to find something for you, last."

He offered her a small smile at that. "Don't worry about me today," he said simply. "I can usually get what I need. Someone always needs help lifting something, or with construction or whatever. It's better to worry about the folks who are already sick or disabled or have a hard time finding temporary work."

He did nod, though, after a moment. "Stuff for warmth sounds like a good idea. I recommend things that can be layered. Lots of us end up sharing, and clothes are useful currency, too. Having a bunch of layers gives us the freedom to prioritize, and means that giving up one or two of them isn't as bad. Blankets are good for the same reason." He started back towards that section, slowing his pace enough to keep next to her.

They drew a few eyes, mostly because of him, probably, though in a way Luna might be more unusual to see in a place like this. Mick did sort of fit the surroundings, in the sense that this was very clearly a part of town in which he was comfortable.

Luna supposed she could understand that. She might have lived in the poorer parts of the Pits, but she wasn't exactly dressed like someone who was. Sure, her own clothes might not be as worn down and beat up, but she was used to the eyes, regardless. It didn't bother her as much as she knew it bothered Soleil. She was just better accustomed to it, she supposed. She shoved the thoughts away and glanced at one of the racks that held a few jackets.

“Even so, I would at least like to get you something for today. You might have said you had time today to help me with this, but you could have spent that time doing something else. Let me treat you to lunch or dessert or something," she stated, pursing her lips slightly as she pulled a jacket from the rack. He really didn't have to help her, but the more time she spent with him, the more she learned how much he actually cared. It wasn't quite the same as the way Luna might have cared about Soleil, or anything like that. It was more pure than that. She couldn't describe it any other way even if she wanted to.

He didn't owe anything to anyone, but he worked very hard to help the people in any way he could. She admired that about him, really.

"Mm. I'll think about it."