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Soleil Nishant

"...look, if it's not about engine parts or the plumbing, I've got nothing."

0 · 509 views · located in Tartarus

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










xxxxxxxxx◙◙◙◙* Female xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 29 xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 5'10" xxxxx◙◙◙◙* 140 lbs. xxxxx◙◙◙◙* Nephaelem

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

--Image- PYROKINESIS [Locked]
NETHER [Locked]
NEPHAELEM Somewhat more capable than a human.
SIXTH SENSE Able to detect divinity/demons; partial.

Image I won't forget / the Hell on Earth you put me through
- - - - - - - I'll save myself in spite of you .


Soleil is a thick, chilly shell around a burning ember of resentment and anger, and that's on a good day. On a bad day the ember is stoked, and she all but seethes just under the surface. Fortunately, bad days of this sort are rather few.

For just about as long as she can remember, her world has been composed of herself and her little sister, Luna. Their parents both died when they were very young—young enough that Soleil doesn't actually have any memories of them. They live and have always lived in one of the grimiest, poorest areas of the city, and for the first few years, their survival was touch and go. Soleil developed the personality traits required to cope with this, including a certain hardness of demeanor and cynical way of viewing other people. Her trust is almost impossible to win, her civility default but limited. She isn't cruel or mean-spirited in the main, but her patience for people and wastes of time is limited, and will eventually run out.

She doesn't usually talk much, seeing most conversation as pointless. When she does talk, it's clipped, quiet, and usually in a deadpan voice. Her tone is slightly raspy at the edges, and well into the lower register for a woman. Most of her exchanges with people, be they customers, neighbors, or servicepeople, are perfunctory and as free of the trappings of small talk as possible. There's a certain kind of honesty to her, but she's not dumb enough to say exactly what she thinks all the time. She can and does check herself around people with power over her, and in her position, that's a lot of people. Still, her concealed bitterness means she can't bring herself to flatter or be obsequious, so the best she can manage is "acerbic, but only mildly so."

Soleil is very observant, and good at getting a quick read on people. Threat assessment was a vital skill in her formative years, and it hasn't left her. Wary by default, she rarely lapses in her tendency to track others through rooms, scan them for likely weapons, and so on. One could say she almost never relaxes or loosens up and they'd be right. She's as tightly-wound as piano wire most of the time, though she does a pretty good job affecting a sort of listless lassitude instead.

Indeed, most people who would care to observe her in turn would think her much less sharp than she is; slightly slow even, or at least extremely apathetic. Her face doesn't emote any more than her tone of voice does, and she has a deliberate way of moving that looks efficient and somewhat graceful but also harmless. The truth is, she's had to train herself to do this, as normally her reaction speeds are unusually fast, to the point of perhaps being alarming. She does a lot of work to make herself seem insignificant and unimportant; the one area in which she could even remotely be said to allow her potential to shine is in her job, where she has a well-deserved reputation as a whiz with all things mechanical.

Image Oh, I won't go down slow
- - - - - - - I'd rather die / than give up the fight.

Large chunks of time are missing from Soleil's childhood; she has no memories before the age of ten, actually, which is much later than most people typically start to remember things. What she does recall is that she once had a father and a mother, but that something happened to them. She can't recall what, or their names and faces or anything—just that one day, she knew she was alone and had a very young sister to look after.

For those initial years, they survived on what she could scrounge from dumpsters, pitying restaurant owners, or what neighbors would give them in exchange for chores of various kinds. It wasn't always enough, and Soleil made sure that on the days when only one of them could eat, it was Luna. She'd make up excuses, of course—say she'd already eaten or had managed to get the nice lunch-lady at middle school who wouldn't charge her for school lunch, or whatever made the most sense at the time.

Over this period, she discovered that she had a real knack for mechanics, after helping a local repairman with a few basic chores. She was cheap labor, and so he didn't mind employing her, and in a short time, she was capable of everything he could do and more. He took advantage of this for a few years, outsourcing the hard work to Soleil and taking the majority share of the profits, but by this point, Sol and Luna were eating almost steadily even from the slim cut he gave her, and she was slowly building herself a reputation. People were noticing her talent, and eventually bringing their jobs directly to her.

And therein lay their salvation. Soleil moved into independent business, buying herself a basic toolkit with what she'd managed to save and doing housecalls to fix plumbing or faulty wiring, or patch up a muffler someone couldn't afford to replace. This enabled her and Luna to get off the street, and when Sol finished middle school, she elected to drop out entirely. Even if they were eating regularly now, they couldn't afford two high school tuitions; it was Soleil's firm opinion that Luna was the one who should go. In the meantime, Sol converted the garage of their crummy rental into a proper shop, her business now mostly cars and other complex machinery. At night, she'd study Luna's books and do the same homework assignments, comparing answers when Luna got hers back from whatever teacher. It wasn't real school, but it was something, and though she definitely lacks a conventional education, Soleil is nevertheless extremely intelligent.

And that's pretty much been her life. Right now, she's saving up so that Luna can go to college. It might take a while to get the funds, but the two of them are both working in the meantime. The shop business earns more money by a significant margin than Luna's work as a secretary, but it's also much less stable, and has unpredictable fluctuations which mean that some periods are still very lean for the two young women.

Soleil likes to act as though she's never questioned why she just understands things so much easier than other people do, or why she can lift as much as men twice her size. In fact, she prefers to forget that she can do these things at all, and prefers to keep her head down and go beneath notice. She's perfectly happy to stay buried in the sand, because that's the way she and her sister stay the safest. To most people, their life isn't much at all, but considering how far they've come from two starving, homeless urchins, she'll do anything it takes to protect what they have now.

Image Smoke, fire, it's all going up
- - - - - - - Don't you know I ain't afraid to shed a little blood? .

AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
I can't decide if I hate this, or...

If wishes were poppy, Soleil would be high as a kite lately, and it has everything to do with Samael. Something about him just makes her… feel. Makes her want things for herself that she's long accepted she doesn't get to have. It's dangerous, and she's wary of it at the same time as she can't quite seem to make herself stop wishing. Ordinarily she'd run from something like that and never look back, but she just… can't.


AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
I love her, but sometimes I wish she just wouldn't.

She'd almost managed to forget how dangerous Luna's tendency to want to help people can be. This time around it nearly got both of them killed, and Soleil's still rattled by that, even if she goes out of her way not to demonstrate as much. She's having a hard time dealing with it right now, but keeps up the pretense of being fine. One thing is clear though: if Luna's going to keep doing this, the biggest danger—Zinoviev—has to go.


AAFondnessxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARivalry xxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AAAttractionx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
AARespectxxxx ▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌▌
This line is here to take space.
What the actual fuck?

It turns out that watching someone beat the ever loving shit out of an android to save your life can kind of change your view on them. Soleil isn't exactly sure what to make of Mick, especially because she can't seem to figure out what the Hell he is. It seems to be something between what she is and what Samael is, but that's not quite right either. She wants to believe in his good intentions, but…



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

So begins...

Soleil Nishant's Story


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


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—


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 omelet 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 omelet?" 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 omelet 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 omelet 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 the 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 toilet 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."


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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 Baileys 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?"


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

7 Asmodeus
Nishant Garage - Evening - Overcast
Soleil Nishant


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 and 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." He 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—"


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.


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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 so that Luna wouldn't be a cold bitch like she was. Wouldn't have to be.

"Don't you go volunteering," she groused. "If the 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 had 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."


Characters Present

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.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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#, as written by Aethyia

26 Asmodeus
Lux District - Afternoon - Rain
Soleil Nishant

Soleil would be the first person to admit she'd had some pretty bad ideas in her life.

Fish from a grocery store dumpster? Bad idea.

Pummeling Tommy Marquette in elementary school because he'd made fun of her for not having parents? Bad idea.

Stealing Motor Pete's favorite wrench because he wasn't using it anyway? Bad idea.

Taking the subway most of the way across town to the Lux District because one of her clients had mentioned offhand that his boss had a very expensive car in need of repairs? Possibly the worst in a long history of very bad calls.

And yet here she was, hand shoved deep in her coat pocket, banged up black toolbox hanging from her other, her grip white-knuckled beneath her gloves. There was a chill in the air today, and even though the rain was mostly repelled by her coat, she could swear something was weighing down her shoulders anyway.

But that was just paranoia, right?

Not that paranoia was hard to understand. She was in Demon Central here. This part of the city was almost entirely populated by them, and Friday had sidewardly alluded to the fact that his boss was one. Soleil didn't know what it was about them, but demons made her skin crawl. She could just tell when someone was one, just by being near them. It was how she knew what most people only speculated: that Zinoviev was half of one himself.

Zinoviev. She was here because of that rat bastard. Maybe if she could fix some rich fucker's car and make it out with her life intact, she'd be able to pay the protection fees. One job, for another month of freedom. Hell, if she had the guts she might be able to get enough for next month out of the thing, too, depending on how complicated it was. She didn't overcharge—but honestly she never got to charge what her work was worth either. If she did, no one would come to an uncertified young woman mechanic out in the Pits. But since this was a house call... maybe.

The house itself was not helping her impression. It was a black mansion, of all things. It was large, two-story at least, and had a lot of large glass windows. On the left side of it, Soleil could see what looked to be a fish tank in the style of a pond, and a lot of koi fish swimming about. The black tile siding accented the white, marble floors that led to a set of metal doors with a large round knocker. There was, of course, a door bell, but it didn't seem functional. There was no light to it, and the owner probably didn't care to have it fixed.

The front lawn was meticulously kept, the lush green highlighting against the floors. Soleil had to take a stair case just to get up to the front door, and even that was black with silver railings. To the left, there was a large carport, probably which led to the garage where the cars were kept.

Taking a deep breath, Soleil squeezed the handle of her toolbox and stepped up to the front door. There was a knocker, but she thought those sounded annoying as hell, so she just knocked on the thing with her gloved knuckles instead. Friday said he'd told the guy she'd be by, which she honestly took to mean someone had informed his secretary or something. Yeah. She probably wouldn't have to actually deal with the demon, right? If he was big-shot enough to live in a place like this, there's no way he'd personally meet the one-time mechanic he was using because his regular was... she wasn't even sure. Busy? Recently fired?


Well whatever. She'd almost died in dumber ways before.

The door opened to reveal an impeccably dressed man, not much taller than Soleil. The black suit he wore looked even more expensive than the ones Alastor wore, and appeared almost flawless. There was no wrinkle, no out of place thread. It was smooth down to the silver cuff links at his wrist. His hair had a silver sheen to it, and turquoise eyes narrowed in her direction.

“You're late," he stated, a sort of gruffness to his voice. He opened the door a bit wider as if letting Soleil pass through.

"No I'm not," she replied automatically, brows knitting faintly. She was in fact fifteen minutes early, but her brain caught up to her mouth before she could say that, and she realized belatedly that she'd just backtalked a demon.

Or... no, he was definitely a demon, but something seemed off about it. She couldn't put her finger on it, though. Maybe if she'd been a little less sure she was about to be... whatever the unholy equivalent of smited was. Blighted?

Oh well. Might as well play it cool so she didn't go down a blubbering mess. She nodded politely, as if this was all business as usual, and stepped past him into his foyer, passing close enough to disturb that silver hair slightly with the wake of her movement—he wasn't exactly leaving a lot of room—but very pointedly not touching him.

"You want that doorbell fixed while I'm here? My main job is cars, but I'm good with pretty much anything in a house, too." She lifted her free hand from her pocket, using it to push down her hood. Her hair was in a single tail today, and spilled down her back free of the confinement.

Oddly, he looked a little on the surprised side, as if her first response had caught him off guard. A slow smirk formed on his face, though, when she mentioned the doorbell. “First, we'll see how you do with the cars," he responded, stepping in front of her as if he were leading her towards the garage.

“If you do well with that, I'll see about letting you fix that stupid fucking thing," he stated as he pushed open a pair of french doors. Even the floor inside the mansion was white marble, which reflected off of the greys of the interior. There were a couple of pieces of furniture, white in color, strewn to the side as if they had just been delivered, however; everything else was either in a shade of grey, or black.

“The car you'll be working on is this one," he stated once he stepped through another door, automatic this time, and gestured to a car on the right. The garage was full of them, each one seemingly from a different time, and there were a couple of bikes as well. The car he'd pointed to, however, seemed to be of a newer model. One that was likely released within the last few weeks. It was, not surprisingly, also black.

God, did all demons lean this hard into the stereotypical color scheme or was it just him? Frankly she was surprised there weren't a bunch of blood-red accents all over the place just to complete the look, but apparently this guy had never heard of color in his life.

His garage, though... damn. If she weren't still seventy percent sure she'd be mincemeat by the end of the day, she might have even gasped. They were gorgeous. Some of them were models she'd only seen on the extranet, things with brand names like Porsche and Maserati and old-earth things like that. Even the newer ones, though, the Yrdens and the Galattis and the Tsukishimas, were the top of the line stuff, with motors she knew would purr with even just a few simple tweaks.

Factory standard for any of them was good, but not as good as what she could do.

Soleil took a few steps towards the Yrden Phaser, the sleek black lines of the hovercar all but calling to her. She hadn't picked cars just because they were practical—she kind of loved the damn things. Still, she kept her customary reserve.

"That can't be more than a month old," she said, arching a speculative brow at its owner. "What's wrong with it that soon?"

“I don't fucking know," he replied, crossing his arms over his chest. “That's what I'm paying you to find out." He didn't sound especially upset or anything. It sounded more like he was talking casually, and he leaned on one of the poles, arching a brow in her direction.

"No shit," she replied, rolling her eyes. "But usually people say things like 'it's making a funny whining sound' or 'it won't start.' Just so I don't waste hours they're paying me for testing for that."

“You have your own toolkit, but if you need anything else," he stated, pushing himself away from the pole, and walking towards a large, metal box that was yellow in color. Perhaps the only color in the place. “This has just about every tool you'll need. Anything else can be found in the garage over there," he continued, pointing towards a large room-like area. He pulled something from his breast pocket, a card from the looks of it.

“You'll need this to get in and out of that room, and the conveyor belt and lift are over there if you need them," he continued, pointing in the direction of said items.

Conveyor belt? And a lift in his house? What kind of weird bourgeoisie bullshit had she suddenly found herself smack in the middle of? Soleil tried not to let any of her incredulity show on her face, reaching forward to accept the card instead. "Sure. You want like... an invoice sent to this address after I'm done or...?" Maybe he'd prefer to pay on the spot. She'd prefer that too, honestly, but for as much as she was hoping to be able to charge for this job, she'd deal with paperwork crap if she had to.

The demon scoffed, rolling his eyes as if he'd somehow found her statement beneath him. Instead, he pulled what looked to be a wallet from his pocket, and arched a brow at her. “I might not look it," he began, keeping his gaze with hers, “but I honor all previous and future contracts. The previous mechanic had a pay upfront policy, which I'm surprised you don't, but... since you haven't said that," he drawled, making it obvious that he was in no way in a hurry to find whatever it was he was looking for.

“I'll pay you two credits up front as a deposit, and you'll get the rest once your work is completed depending on what is actually wrong with it."

Credits were demon currency, which meant that it was worth more than the bills Soleil managed to scrape up with her business. One credit could roughly translate to a few hundred dollars. That he was giving her two meant that he was likely paying her anywhere from five hundred to a thousand dollars. He didn't seem at all concerned about it, though.

Soleil honored her contracts too, and for her part of what that meant was not overcharging. That said, if the guy was loaded—and he had to be, with a collection like this—she would charge exactly what her work was worth. Which she'd have to actually find the problem to know.

"All right," she said with a shrug. "I'll let you know what that comes out to when it's done. Is there anything else?" She was very successfully containing her excitement—even the down payment was enough to tell Zinoviev to go fuck himself, and then for another month on top of that.

Shit, they might even be able to buy some food from the grocery instead of scavenging it.

He glanced around, as if he were trying to see if there was anything else, but merely shook his head. “For now, you'll work on this. If the work is sufficient, maybe I'll have you look at another car or two. And also that fucking doorbell," he stated, turning around facing the door.

“I'll leave it to you. You've access to this part of the home and only this part. When you come to work on the car, you'll enter from the side door outside," he motioned towards a door down the path of the driveway, “I'm sure you saw it on your way up the stairs. It's the door to your left. That key I gave you will let you in from there, as well. If you need anything else, leave a note or something and someone will get it for you."

Okay, asshole. Wasn't like I was planning to snoop around in the rest of your tryhard gothic mansion anyway. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, though. She'd already slipped a couple of times and used more snark than she'd meant to. He'd seemed to ignore it or find it amusing, maybe, but that was probably only the case until she managed to offend him. Better not.

So instead what she said was: "got it, thanks." He seemed to want to leave, and she sure as hell wasn't interested in keeping him around.

“From what Friday says, you're the best in your field. I'm looking forward to seeing your work. Don't disappoint me, Miss Nishant."

"I won't. I'd say your name all dramatic like too, but I don't know it." It was actually a little weird that he knew hers. Sure, Friday could have told him, but why would he have bothered to remember? She was a temp mechanic, best in her field or not.

“There are other ways to say my name, my dear, if you'd like, but I suppose you need to know it, first." He turned to glance over his shoulder with a strange smirk on his face.


"Sorry. I always sound like this," she said flatly. "No two ways about it, Samael." She wasn't sure why he'd given her what sounded like a first name, but it wasn't any skin off her teeth.

Setting her toolbox down, she flipped the latches open and cracked the lid, expecting that this was the part where he'd just leave. Assuming she hadn't mortally offended him or something.

He barked a short laugh, shaking his head faintly and disturbing the silver tail down his back. “Maybe I should just hire you on as a live-in mechanic. You have a personality I could get used to."

If pressed, Soleil wouldn't have been able to explain it, but it felt like there was the faintest twitch at the corner of her mouth. What a fucking weird day. What a fucking weird demon.

"Anyone ever told you you have bizarre taste?" She picked a few tools out of the box, then shed her outer coat, giving it a toss over the workbench and moving over to the vehicle itself. Her bootheels clicked over the pristine floor—this place was so opulent it was ridiculous. Popping the hood, she braced it open with the rod designed for the purpose and tilted her head at the engine.

“Anyone ever tell you, you have an amazing ass?" he retorted, snorting softly. “But yes, I've been told that my tastes are a bit, ah... acquired," he stated, having made his way back towards her, and leaning slightly in her peripheral vision. There was a light smirk on his face, almost as if he were almost egging her on, somehow.

She rolled her eyes then shot him a narrow look from their periphery. "You must be easily impressed; I haven't even bent over this thing yet." Soleil wasn't sure if people making passes was a thing she'd gotten used to, exactly, but she had her methods of dealing with it. Honestly as long as people didn't touch her she didn't really care what they said. A thick skin was pretty much a necessity in life, and frankly this was, while blunt as hell, not someone trying to get her to agree to work in a cathouse. She'd take it for the moment.

She did lean over the engine, then, not because she was trying to give him reason to look, but because she'd noticed something unusual in the fuel injection system and in fact needed a better angle. "I'm not sure I should be flattered, if someone with 'acquired' tastes is saying so."

“I'm taking that as an invitation, then, to look, since you haven't bent over this thing yet," he stated, a form of amusement in his voice. His arms crossed over his chest as he arched a brow, the smirk slowly moving into an amused smile. It was brief, though, before it returned to a smirk.

“You should be flattered all the same whether or not someone who has acquired tastes is saying so. It really is a nice ass. A shame, though, that it's mostly kind of hidden beneath those pants. You should wear ones that are a little more fitting," he stated in a nonchalant fashion.

"Weird," she said, already making a more detailed examination of the fuel injectors. "It's like I dressed to fix cars instead of be looked at. Life's full of strange circumstances." Years of talking to Luna while she worked had given her a pretty flawless ability to do both at the same time, though she did shoot him a somewhat curious glance over her shoulder. Yep, looking. Not the reason she'd glanced over, though.

"Not to tell you where to be, but doesn't a demon in his big fancy house have something better to do than hang around his temp?" It wasn't an accusatory question; surprisingly she detected a faint hint of curiosity in her own tone. But really, what was he still doing here?

There was a flicker of something across his face, as if he were being reminded of something unpleasant before it disappeared. “Nope," was his simple reply.

“Besides, I'm not a demon... yet," he stated it almost as if it were something sour in his mouth. “Don't lump me in with those fucking idiots," he stated, pushing himself away from the car.

“I see when I'm not wanted, though. When you're finished, you can leave. Like I said before, you've access to the garage so come by whenever you can if it's going to take you a couple of days."

Really? Nothing better? Soleil felt her brows knit, just a fraction, but it only got deeper at the way he said that last part. I see when I'm not wanted. It could have just been a joke—she'd have thought it was a joke, except...

But what did she care? It wasn't like it had anything to do with her. People as rich as this guy could pay for company, if they really wanted it, and it wasn't like his personality was so bad he shouldn't have people around anyway. She'd dealt with way worse.

Feeling strangely uncomfortable, she called after him. "Where did you get this thing, anyway? If I know that kind of stuff I should be able to figure the problem out easier."

“Where else?" he retorted, but he kept walking towards the door. “Ordered it on the extranet and had it delivered. The manual is somewhere in one of those files in that office if you need it," he stated, waving in a lackadaisical manner before he left. His posture had been somewhat slumped, though.

"Sure," she mumbled.

Well, that was weird. People were weird.

Cars were so much easier to figure out. Now, about these fuel injectors...


Characters Present

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."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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#, as written by Aethyia

5 Be'elza
Samael's Manor - Afternoon - Overcast
Soleil Nishant

Soleil made her way to the side door without hesitation, using the keycard thing to admit herself. She knew how systems like that worked, obviously, she just didn't bother to pay much attention. Her mind was elsewhere, and even she could sort of forgive herself for it.

After his awkward exit last time, she hadn't seen Samael again. She'd stayed another couple hours to finish her assessment of the Phaser, and then gone home to do her research and begin building the first version of what she hoped would eventually be a brand new fuel injection system, complete with a custom sensor array. Of course... it remained to actually see how he felt about that, if he was even home. She didn't want to just install it without permission, so she was sort of half-expecting to just slip in and leave a note today, inefficient as that was.

She wasn't sure how she felt about the alternative, though. The guy was kind of...

Weird was correct, if not particularly precise. She wasn't as sure he'd kill her for looking at him wrong as she had been the first day, but beyond that she didn't know what to make of him.

Not your problem, Soleil. You're here to fix the car and maybe build something you can file with the patent office. Then you're done and as long as you're alive none of the rest will matter.

Set to rights by her own reminder, she stepped into the garage, setting down her collection of parts, toolbox, and a spiral bound notebook. She'd even brought the tablet with her today, though she was loath to take it out of the house. It would be expensive and difficult to replace if something happened to it.

She crossed to the car, popping the hood again and setting it in place before rolling back the sleeves of her black shirt. "All right, P. Time for a re-check, and then we're going to cut out the dumb shit and give you some better sensors, how's that sound?"

Was it eccentric to talk to cars? Sure, but it wasn't like Soleil got much company. Luna worked and volunteered a lot and other than her, Soleil had no one really worth mention in her life. Certainly no one to talk to. So if she talked to her projects sometimes, well... who was going to care?

“That would sound as if you plan on gutting my car and turning it into something of your own personal play thing," his voice sounded as if he were right near her ear, however; Samael was leaning against the door frame near the entrance to his manor. “Did you figure out what was wrong with it?" he asked, pushing himself from the frame and making his way towards her.

He wasn't in his suit this time, and was dressed in a white button up shirt and a pair of black slacks. They still looked rather expensive for how plain they looked. The shirt was rolled up to his sleeves, though. When he approached her, he was a few feet away, almost as if he didn't want to get too close to her, though it wasn't apparent why.

It didn't matter, in a way—the hair on the back of her neck had been standing on end since his voice reached her. It was only by dint of a lot of practice that she managed to maintain her stoic visage; it felt like the was a flush half-burning under her skin already. Of course he'd show up when she was being a huge idiot.

Soleil cleared her throat, assuming a businesslike tone. "I don't," she said, then elaborated. "Intend on gutting it, I mean. Most of the parts are pretty much what you'd expect of Yrden. Good quality stuff, for anything off a factory line. But the fuel injection system is fucked." There was a beat of silence, and then she registered her own language, her eyes rounding fractionally.

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck. Why did I say that? God motherfucking dammit I'm such a fucking idiot!

His brow arched slightly, and there was the barest hint of amusement that flickered across his face before it disappeared. “How so?" he asked, tilting his head in an inquisitive manner.

“This model has just been released; how is the fuel injection system fucked if it's new?" he continued. If he'd been at all bothered by her language, he didn't show it. He didn't even seem to mind if the curious gaze he was giving her was anything to go by.

"Sensors," she said quickly, not inclined to question it. If he didn't get offended when she swore, she'd probably survive all this. Maybe. Why did it feel like something was crawling up her spine? Was this a demon thing? A not-quite-a-demon thing? She'd never been around anyone like that for very long so she had no idea what the Hell was wrong with her.

"That is, the sensors are inadequate. When that happens, the fuel is mixed in the wrong ratios, which wears on the engine and impedes the car's performance." She walked over to the car, pointing at the offending injectors. "These use an inferior-grade abyssium alloy, which doesn't help, but the sensor design is also bad. And because they refit basically everything for the Phaser's redesign this model year, you can't even just replace it with a better system from some other existing model. So you need a completely redesigned, ground-up system that will fit in that spot and work for that engine."

She straightened further, a little frisson of excitement and dread shooting over her skin. This was the tricky part, but it was also the awesome part. "I'm building one, actually. I'm out of materials, but if you can supply the rest, I can promise you this will be fixed on your Phaser before anyone else has even understood that its an issue for theirs."

He pushed a sigh from his nose, as if he'd already suspected that was the case, or perhaps because he'd found her explanation inadequate. It seemed to be the former when he replied, “Nikolai said something similar before he disappeared." That must have been his regular mechanic, though the way he said the name sounded a little dejected.

“I told you when you were hired that you have access to everything here, and that if you needed something, to leave a note. Someone would have retrieved them for you, or had them bought. What materials do you need?" he asked, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning on the car a bit. “I can have them here within the hour if you tell me exactly what you need." His eyes narrowed slightly in Soleil's direction in an amused fashion.

"Well, since you asked." Soleil didn't exactly smile. She almost never did, with her mouth. But she did with her eyes, even if most of the time she didn't realize she was. And she was now, though she hadn't the faintest clue, too occupied moving back to the bench and tearing a page neatly out of the spiral notebook. It was a list, in tiny, neat handwriting, of exactly what she was going to need, and how much of everything, down to the gram or centimeter, just in case she had to buy it herself and needed to scrape any change she could get from the purchases.

"This will do it." She stopped so as to preserve the distance he'd initially chosen, not wanting to invade his personal space, and extended her arm forwards into the gap between them.

There was a fraction of a smile on his face before he took the page and pulled out a tablet from the drawer in the large, yellow tool kit. He tapped on it and seemed to plug in the information she'd given him, before he placed the tablet down.

“Should be here in," he paused to glance at the watch on his wrist, “an hour or less." The subtle smirk reappeared on his face as he arched a brow in her direction.

“How long will it take you?"

She hoped there wasn't a wrong answer to this question. "Uh... hm. I've got part of the thing already made, and my designs are done, but there's still the rest of the build, installation and testing, so... maybe eighteen hours?" Belatedly, she added. "That... doesn't have to be consecutive. I can leave and come back during normal business hours. But I also can do it consecutively, if you prefer."

The truth was she'd be about equally happy either way. This project was easily the most interesting thing she had going on in her life right now, and she tended to like a good all-nighter. But that'd be weird, right? To be here in this guy's workshop overnight?

“Would you rather be paid by the hour, or by the quality of your work?" he asked, tilting his head at her. “If you choose hourly, you can stay as long as you want," he continued as if to explain. “I don't care either way," he added with a light shrug of his shoulders.

“Just don't over work yourself if it's too much. Last thing I need to do is explain why there's a dead human in the garage," he murmured the last part with a light scowl on his face, as if he'd had to do it before.

Soleil snorted. "You'd have to explain that to someone? I sorta figured you could just make a phone call and the problem would disappear, no questions asked."

“It's more of a hassle to do it that way," he shrugged. “Gotta make calls to so-and-so, arrange for a time and pick up, and then the proper disposal. It's a very complicated and delicate situation."

"Bet it leaves a mess on the floor, too," she said with a small nod. "And the smell. I'll make you a deal: you pay me whatever you think my work is worth at the end of all this, and I promise not to stink up the place."

“Stains are hard to get out, but the stench is easier to deal with," he wrinkled his nose in an exaggerated fashion. “You'll get paid whatever you think your work is worth. That's how it was done before, and that's how it'll continue to be done. Trust me," he stated, taking a step closer in Soleil's direction.

“You wouldn't be able to stink up the place at all," he smirked in her direction before leaning back. “I'm assuming that once you've built the part, that you'll want to test drive it to make sure it's running smoothly, yes?"

She might have asked him what the Hell he meant by that—she kind of expected someone demon-adjacent to complain about the faint metallic scent she carried around, actually. But that didn't matter half a second later, because he was asking her if she would want to test drive his fucking Yrden Phaser.

"Yes please," she said, surprised and a little awkward at her own obvious enthusiasm. It wasn't like her. Clearing her throat, she shuttered her expression and tried to act like she wasn't flipping a lid on the inside. "That is, uh. It would be prudent to make sure things are working so I don't leave you with another faulty part."

Test driving a Phaser, though. Wait until Luna heard about this.

The corner of his lip twitched faintly before he shook his head. “Hm, I get the feeling you don't get to do it often," he stated, walking to the office area of his garage. He entered it, rummaged for something, and came back out.

“Since it's going to be a while before the necessary materials will arrive, do you want to take last year's model for a test run? Nikolai said it was fine, but if what you're saying about this year's model is true, perhaps you'd like to take a second look at last years' model." He arched an amused brow in her direction as he held out what looked to be the key to the car he was talking about.

Motherfucker. What was she supposed to say to that? Soleil tried to contain herself, she really did, but she was staring a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity down the barrel here, and she wasn't stupid enough to suppose that it'd come around again if she refused. But...

But people didn't just do nice things for Soleil Nishant. Not without some kind of catch, and she was immediately suspicious, too, wary of the offer. These things were worth tens of thousands of credits, never mind regular people dollars. And he was just... going to let her drive it? For no reason? She didn't buy the thing about comparison for a moment, and didn't think he really thought that, since she'd just told him the engine was a complete redesign from the last one.

Her eyes moved from the key in his hand up to his eyes, and she tilted her head to the side, trying to wrangle her emotions under control. "You're really just going to let me drive your hovercar? No catch?" Her voice was flat again, betraying nothing of the heady cocktail of giddiness and wariness washing around in her head.

“The only catch is that I tag a long," he replied, still holding out the key in her direction. “If there's something wrong with it, I want you to tell me about it. That is the only catch. On whatever dignity I have left as a former archangel, that is it," he stated it as if he were making a promise, but there was a strange glint in his eyes. They seemed slightly hazed over.

“If your work with the current project is satisfactory, and if there happens to be a problem with the one you're about to test drive, I might consider hiring you to fix that problem as well."

Former archangel? She couldn't tell if he was joking or not, but she didn't think so. He seemed too serious for that. Honestly, though—somehow that made her more sure. It wasn't that he was a former archangel, presumably fallen now. She didn't know how to make heads or tales of that. It was the fact that he'd been so... frank? Was that the word? He'd just come right out and said something like that, as part of some kind of weird promise to her about his intentions here.

Soleil blinked slowly, then nodded and reached out to take the key in his hand. She was careful not to touch him, still wary and unsure exactly what he wanted out of all this. She didn't understand why, even if he'd gone some way to assuaging her about the fact that it wasn't some kind of trap. Why let her do this? Why come with?

"You're really weird," she said flatly, but it wasn't an insult. Just the only way she had of expressing her confusion at... pretty much everything about him. At her own reactions to him. He still had her on edge, in a way she didn't get.

But still... she was about to drive one of the best hovercars on the market. It was hard to care about her own hangups when that was in the picture. Already familiar with the garage, she hit the automatic opener, trying not to let her step get too springy on the way to the older Phaser, where she clicked the lock open with a musical trill of beeping sounds. The doors, both vertical, popped open like a pair of wings lifting, nothing more than a hydraulic whisper to give them away.

Oh this was so cool. The interior was all buttery white leather, though the outside was a gunmetal grey. She couldn't suppress the tiny twitch to her lips.

"You might want to strap in, Samael. I drive cars like they were built to be driven. Accurate testing, and all that."

And this one was just begging for speed.

“Don't worry your pretty little head about me, I'm built to be durable," he stated, already walking towards the other side of the car. “Accurate testing or not," he began, glancing over the car in her direction, “you won't be pulled over for how fast you're going. Feel free to let it fly." There was a faint flicker of amusement on his face before it disappeared, and he ducked inside.

He didn't even bother to buckle his seatbelt, and instead, leaned the seat back a bit so that he was all but laying down in his spot. “A promise is a promise, though. If something feels the slightest bit off, tell me about it. I don't need my eyes open for that," he stated, pulling on a pair of shades.

Was he seriously taking a nap right now? What a fucking weirdo.

With a small shake of her head, Soleil buckled herself in—unusually hardy for a human or not, she didn't want to risk damage from a sudden stop or something. She didn't want to risk damaging her employer, either, but that was his business, she supposed.

She started the engine, head cocked and eyes closed to get the best sense she could of the sound, and hummed. It was hard to tell if that was a little hitch in the turnover or she was just imagining things. Better to do the whole road test and see for sure.

Guiding the car out of the garage, she suppressed a grin. Driving hover was just an odd experience; she'd only done it a few times before, back when she'd used to work for Motor Pete. As in, did all his work for him and got paid a tenth if she was lucky. That'd been the only way to do it, though, as a teenager and before she had her own garage. That tenth of his business had put Luna through high school, and bought them most of the house.

Traffic was slow at this time of day, but she waited until they were out of Lux and onto the Outer Ring freeway regardless before she really let go, easing the Phaser to its top speed smoothly, careful to evaluate for any difficulty. It was a manual, and the gearshift seemed a little sticky, something she noted but didn't mind for now.

Glancing down once at Samael to confirm that he did indeed not seem to be paying attention, she let the slow smile spread across her face, biting her lip to suppress—she wasn't sure what. Giddy laughter, maybe. Soleil didn't do giddy, but then she took a turn at a hundred fifty in a hovercar on an empty freeway and reconsidered.

It was blowing past the parked police vehicle that did it. A soft ha escaped her, and she was half ready to be chased, but just like Samael had said, they didn't follow. "Not that they could catch us anyway," she murmured under her breath, still biting down on the smile.

There was a slight huffing sound coming from Samael. “They really couldn't even if they tried. It's one of the reasons why they won't chase us because the cruisers they use will only go so fast. A bit of a tip if you're ever on the run from them," he stated lightly, shifting in his spot with a large grin on his face for some reason.

“If you really want them to chase us, just to have that feeling, I can give them a call and see," he almost sounded serious. “But how is it driving so far?"

Soleil didn't quite jump, but it was a near thing. "I thought you were asleep," she said, the tone of it vaguely accusatory, though exactly what she was accusing him of even she didn't know. Still, it was embarrassing to be acting like an excitable child with someone else around.

The latter question was at least an opportunity to reorient herself, though some part of her wanted to ask about the earlier one. "Uh, yeah, actually. It's pretty minor, but your gearshift is sticky. I kind of want to check the gearbox. When I'm not shifting, it drives like a—uh. It drives really well." Thank fuck she had a good excuse to keep her eyes on the road, because otherwise she might have got herself even more tangled up.

He snorted softly and lifted the shades off of his face for a second. “You assumed I was asleep because I was relaxed?" he stated first, seemingly amused by it. “You've a lot to learn if you assume people are sleeping just because they put on glasses and lean their chairs back," he added, but he didn't seem to be chastising her or anything. He pursed his lips together, though, when she'd mentioned wanting to check the gearbox.

“We'll see about that after you finish the first project. If everything is good, I'll consider rehiring you in a few weeks," he stated, pulling the glasses back down on his face, though he was still grinning.

"I didn't mean right this second," she mumbled, feeling a little lurch of awkwardness. She hadn't meant to presume anything, just... well, she saw a problem with something mechanical and wanted to fix it.

She took the next turn a little sharper, shooting him a sidelong glance before flicking her eyes back to the road. He didn't have to be so smug about things, after all.

“Of course you didn't; we're in a car. You couldn't check the gearbox while we're moving," he replied in a facetious manner. The grin on his face had not disappeared, but it did smooth a little.

“I'll give you a credit to look at the fucking doorbell, though," he added, muttering something beneath his breath about someone mentioning it needed to be fixed.

She snorted. Was it weird to think a fallen/demon/whatever he was was mostly just a smarmy fucker? Still, it wasn't like she minded. Smarmy was a personality type she could deal with.

Maybe this would work out okay, after all.


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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 murmured to herself more than to Luna; it was 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?"


Characters Present

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 admitted, 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'd really pissed her off, and she wasn't just going to go quietly to his fucking brothel. She didn't know what she could do yet, but she had 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 meant war, now, even if she didn'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.


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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.


Characters Present

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."


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

6 Abaddonus
Samael's Manor - Early Afternoon - Clear
Soleil Nishant

"Samael?" Soleil didn't often raise her voice beyond a dull monotone, but it felt weird entering someone else's home without at least announcing her presence. "I'm here." Well... and maybe some small part of her that she didn't want to acknowledge was... looking forward to seeing him?

No, that was too much. It wasn't like they were friends or anything. She was just doing her due diligence so she wasn't skulking around in someone's garage without telling him. It wasn't like she thought herself welcome in the rest of the house or anything.

When there was no immediate response, she shrugged and shed her coat, throwing it over the hook that had appeared in the wall sometime after her third visit. He hadn't mentioned it, and neither would she, but she appreciated not having to put the coat on a workbench. It gave her more room for parts.

The fuel injection build was still where she'd left it; she'd finally be able to put the finishing touches on and install today, if she was lucky. She wasn't, so it might be another day yet, but she was getting close enough to taste it. She knew it was going to work, in part because it had to. She had to make sure hiring her was a worthwhile decision for him. That he wouldn't have a single good reason to take it back. Or even a single bad reason, if she could prevent it.

She needed this job. It was her buffer, between her sister and Zinoviev, until they figured out some way to get him off their backs more permanently. Right now she could absorb the extra costs on her salary alone. She didn't want to have to use the card, but if it came down to that or letting Luna end up with that fucker, there wouldn't be a choice. Hopefully, they'd have a more permanent solution before that became necessary. They had a cushion of several months at the current rate of increase, but she knew better than to bet on things staying as they were if they still didn't fold to that asshole cambion's will.

So this was going to be the best damn fuel injection system there was, and that Phaser was going to run like a dream, or her name wasn't Soleil Nishant.

Rolling up the black sleeves of her shirt, Soleil settled them at her elbows. Her clothes had taken a step up the ladder—well, several, in that she'd actually bought them off the rack this time. Black shirt, pants, vest, even a black silk tie. She figured she shouldn't give anyone an unprofessionalism excuse to fire her, either. It was all still easy enough to move in, and if she got grease on it, well... that was why everything was black. Harder to see, easier to wash. The black half-palm gloves were new, too, but those had an obvious practical purpose.

Frowning a little when Samael did not appear, she caught herself thinking he must be out before she scoffed and shook her head. Or maybe you're not half as interesting as you think you are, stupid. He's got better things to do.

Inwardly chiding herself for even thinking about it, Soleil lifted the hood of the Phaser and got to work.

“I thought I heard something roaming around," a voice called out from the left side of Soleil. It sounded almost as if the person was right next to Soleil, though that might have been an affect of Samael's garage. The person who had spoken was a short woman with dual toned blue hair. The top portion of it was a dark blue, but as it fell, it turned into an almost cyan color. Her skin was bronze in tone, and her eyes were a pale blue.

She was dressed in a crisp black suit with a white dress shirt underneath it finished with a pair of black slacks. The tie she was wearing, though, was a gold color, strangely enough. “Who are you, and why are you in Sammy's garage?" she asked, arching a brow in Soleil's direction. She didn't seem accusatory in her question, but moreso curious. Her eyes widend a bit, though when she took a closer look at Soleil.

“Oh, are you his new pet?"

Demon. If the sense she had for such things gave her a muddy, weird reading around Samael and a subtle twinge around the likes of Zinoviev, it was blaring now. This woman was a demon, and Soleil knew that if she knew anything.

Somehow, it didn't throw off her equilibrium. Instead she only found herself... suspicious? No, not quite. Not quite curious, either, though. Maybe just wary. Was this his girlfriend or something? Did fallen angels even have those? He seemed like he would. People that pretty weren't single, generally speaking, unless they—

Annoyed with herself, she snapped the line of thought short and blinked slightly at the demon. "I'm his mechanic," she said dully, not letting herself feel or show anything at the insulting characterization of pet. Demons didn't think of humans as people. Pretty much everyone knew that, more or less. No point getting wound up about it.

“Huh, I thought he had one of those already," she replied in a nonchalant manner. “Well, mechanic, how'd you come to be his new one? Did Ziegler disappear after screwing up one of his cars?" she asked, making her way closer towards Soleil, stopping only a good three feet away.

“I guess it really doesn't matter if though. What qualifications do you have?" she started. It almost sounded like she was interrogating Soleil, or perhaps interviewing her. “What trade school did you go to to earn your qualifications? And..." she paused glancing almost intensely at Soleil before she continued, “I'd ask who you sold your soul to, but it seems it's still intact. Interesting."

Irritation surged—who was this woman that she thought she had the right to ask all these questions?—but Soleil quashed it. Pulling in a deep, quiet breath, she let the emotion drain out of her, the better to face this with nothing but reason and the kind of obedient response that was probably required of her.

"I don't see how that's any of your business."

Or she could backsass. Goddammit. She really wasn't good at the meekness thing.

The woman only grinned, tilting her head in Soleil's direction as if she'd just witnessed something interesting. “Oh? Is that so?" she stated, the grin stretching on her face. “Where are my manners," she began, standing a little straighter, “I'm Lilith. Samael is my charge, so it's my business to know who he hires for what purposes."

“Not just anyone can be employed by Samael, and he knows this. So, I'll ask again: what are your qualifications, and what trade school did you go to in order to get them?"

My qualifications are: go fuck yourself, I need to keep this job, Sol thought, a touch of bitterness infusing the mental rejoinder.

"Sorry, Lilith, but if you want to know his business, you can ask him. I'm just here to fix the car." Turning away, she picked up the sensor array. This needed to be installed first, so...

“You've never had a job before, have you?" Lilith inquired. “It shows because then you would know this is an interview," she trailed off a bit, peering in Soleil's direction as if she were trying to see what Soleil was doing.

“It's easy to see that you haven't had any experience in trade schools, either. If I had to guess," she continued, glancing so that she was staring at Soleil, now, “you haven't been to a proper school at all." She didn't sound upset or angry about the fact, only slightly more intrigued.

“I guess that's fine, though, considering that you built that fuel injection system from the ground up. Not only is it custom built, it'll completely fix the problem with his Phaser. I see why Sammy was so taken with your ability that he just had to hire you. Hm... alright, then Soleil, you can stay employed with Sammy on one condition." Samael was probably responsible for Lilith knowing Soleil's name, because she hadn't introduced herself to the demon.

“You cannot, by any means, be his friend or lover or close to him in anyway. It's not allowed. Your job is, as you put it, to fix his car. Nothing else. If that seems fair to you, then you can enjoy being employed by him and we can be good friends."

Soleil lifted her head from her work to fix her eyes on the other woman. She neither confirmed nor denied anything Lilith said, because it didn't really matter. She could tell she was convinced by her own logic, even if she'd arrived at the right conclusion for the wrong reason. She wasn't treating this like an 'interview' not because she didn't know what one looked like or because she'd never had a job, but because she didn't recognize Lilith's authority to be giving one. She wasn't her employer, so she got no information about employment terms. That was just business sense.

"Do I look like I'm here to make friends?" she said, rolling her eyes to emphasize the point. "And what are you, his mother? I'm pretty sure the guy can make his own hiring decisions, but thanks for the advice." She'd said Samael was her charge, but that made no fucking sense.

Soleil's statement earned a smirk from Lilith. “You humans are all the same. You say you're not here to make friends, but really, why wouldn't you? Buddy up with some handsome, rich Fallen or Demon who doesn't want your soul in order to take his money. Make him think that you actually like him and want to be his friend so that he'll give you favors and more money. Humans are greedy, greedy creatures. Some are even disgusting."

“As I've said before, Samael is my charge. He is under my watch, so no, he's not allowed to make his own hiring decisions without first answering to me. We do things differently, Soleil, but it seems I don't have to be overly concerned about you. You aren't his type," she replied in a nonchalant fashion. The smirk was still on her face, though.

"Good," Soleil replied, voice utterly devoid of feeling. She left it ambiguous exactly which part of that was supposed to be good, knowing that Lilith was likely to take it as referring to the last bit.

Truthfully, though, she was feeling a little... stung. And maybe a little sad? It was hard to pin down. But the woman's words had made her wonder. They were awfully specific, suggesting that maybe that was something that had happened to Samael before, and that was...

Well she could understand, on some level. People needed to survive, and some of them were driven to desperate measures by it. Sometimes even she felt the temptation to give up, to take the easier road, even if it conflicted with her own sense of who she should be. But she wasn't here to take advantage of anyone's generosity, not that she'd have the faintest clue how to do something like Lilith seemed to be implying. Seduction or anything similar was so far outside her skillset it was laughable to even think of herself trying. She didn't know how to be anyone else. She barely knew how to be herself, whoever or whatever that turned out to be.

But still. If it had happened, that was just... sad.

Lilith, however, just smiled regardless.

“Good. Glad we have that understanding." She didn't seem inclined to say anything more. She was just watching Soleil work.

Well, whatever. Soleil had learned a long time ago how to tune people out when she was working. And the project was way more interesting than talking to some random demon chick anyway. Shaking her head slightly, she got back to work.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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#, as written by Aethyia

11 Abaddonus
Samael's House - Evening - Overcast
Soleil Nishant


Soleil took a step back from the engine, feeling a sense of immediate satisfaction swell in her chest. Her fuel injection system was finally done, fitted, and the only thing left was the test drive. Dusting her hands off, she settled them on her hips, just where her vest landed, and expelled a breath. It was good work. She was confident in it, especially since she'd run a few preliminary tests already. All that remained was to make sure it drove like it was supposed to, and she'd lay good money down that it would.

In a way, she was laying good money down. She didn't know what Samael would do if her custom system didn't work, but she was willing to bet it would involve the removal of her from his payroll, not to mention that card she'd never used.

The thought of her employer brought a small frown to her face. She hadn't seen him since he hired her. It shouldn't be surprising, really. That associate of his had made amply clear that this was an employment contract, and not really the amiable kind even, but... then why had he gone to all the trouble of coming out to her house to hire her? He'd done that after letting her test drive a car that she now kind of almost owned, and yet he was never around. She'd stopped announcing herself on arrival after a while, feeling too pathetic calling out to an empty house, or one whose occupant didn't care to respond. She wasn't sure which.

It didn't matter, right?

Well anyway, she should at least leave him a note or something. She had the keys and ostensibly permission to test drive, but really he should be the one to do it. She didn't feel comfortable taking the car out without him knowing about it anyway. If he wrote back and told her to specifically, she would, but she wasn't going to take that kind of chance.

Suddenly feeling a lot less pleased at her accomplishment, she crossed to the tablet on the wall and started typing out the message.

I'm done with the install. Did some tests, everything looks good. I didn't want to test drive until you'd had the chance, but if you'd prefer I do, let me know. I'll be back tomorrow and check the messages first thing.


She sent it, then turned to start gathering her things to leave.

“Leaving so soon?" Samael called out, his voice laced with curiosity. “And here I thought you wanted to test drive it when you were finished," he continued, moving into Soleil's field of vision. He wasn't dressed as crisp as he usually was, just donning a white button up with sleeves rolled to his elbows. His grey pants were more in the style of jogging pants, and he was wearing sandals, of all things. His hair had been tied back, but he was wearing a pair of square-rimmed glasses.

“Is it completed, though?" he asked, arching a brow in her direction.

Soleil paused in the act of donning her coat, glad her back was to him so the surprise on her face would remain unseen. It was weird, how he could just sneak up on her like that. Sometimes he was a giant flare on her sense for the unusual, and sometimes she didn't notice him at all. She wasn't sure if her instincts were buggy or what, but it was really jarring when there was nothing and then suddenly he all but slapped her in the face with his presence.

"I just messaged you," she said flatly, resuming her movement and lifting her hair away from beneath her jacket so it would fall over the outside instead of being trapped between layers. She needed to cut it; it was far too long, even if the style she kept it in made it look shorter.

Ensuring her expression was normal, she slowly turned around to face him. It was a weird mix of relief at no longer showing him her back and... something else she couldn't identify. Some weird little feeling that had all kinds of odd edges. And at least one distinct jab of annoyance at herself. She shouldn't be thinking that he looked really good in glasses. She shouldn't be thinking about how he looked or acted at all. Lilith's warning echoed across her head. He didn't want to be friends. He didn't have any reason to want anything from her but her skills. And that was how it should be.

So all this extra stuff had to stop.

"I'm confident it'll work. Besides, shouldn't you test drive it? It'll be the first 2442 Phaser on the road that works like it's supposed to."

Samael huffed slightly and shook his head. “It's fine if I'm the passenger. It's easier to tell how smoothly it'll go if someone else is driving it," he stated, waving a hand in a nonchalant fashion in front of his face. “You're the one who fixed it, after all. If you test drive it first, then you'll be able to find out if there's something else wrong, or if it's driving how it's supposed to be. I don't typically drive it, anyway," he murmured softly, furrowing his brows slightly as he did.

“Plus," he stated as if he'd suddenly remembered something. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a phone, one of the newer models from the looks of it. “This will be yours if all goes well. That way if something happens or is needed, I can call you or message you. It appears you haven't bought a phone for yourself yet, and you're going to need one."

Her eyes flicked briefly down to the device, and then back up to him. "Why are you doing this?" she asked, bluntly but not harshly. "I get that you want people who have the skills working on your stuff. But you've seen my house. You know I'd have jumped at this job if you'd offered me half as much, or had some goon drive out there and do it for you." She tilted her head at him, scouring his face for any hint as to his thoughts.

"People aren't kind. Not to me. But you—" She cut herself off, shaking her head. Why was she asking him this, anyway? She shouldn't be looking a gift horse in a mouth. She should be grabbing as much as she could while it was on offer, and not for a moment trusting that it would be on offer tomorrow.

Soleil dropped her eyes away, the murmur that followed at once involuntary and something she needed to say. "You're weird." It was the only way she could put the point she really wanted to get at.

You're kind, and I don't understand why. It scares me because I want to believe in it.

“Weird?" Samael stated, arching a brow in her direction and folding his arms over his chest. “I've been called many, many things, weird among them," he continued, shrugging his shoulders before dropping his arms. “And you're right about one thing," he stated, shaking his head.

“To answer your question, though, think of it this way. I've seen your place, and I've seen the lifestyle you and your sister are living. As your employer, it is my responsiblity to keep you employed and alive. I've told you before, you're skilled, perhaps moreso than the common people who would have no qualms with taking what I would have offered to them. I intend to keep that skill for as long as possible. In order to do that, I need to be able to get ahold of you if something goes wrong, and I need you to come fix it."

“Correct me if I'm wrong, but I did not see a phone at your place, and it doesn't even look like you own a car. Well, you do now, but still, that's beside the point. If you don't want what I've given you, just say the word and we can come up with a different contract, but I mostly do these things because..." he paused, something locking in his jaw before he narrowed his eyes slightly.

“That's something you don't need to concern yourself with. Any other questions or comments?"

"Right," she said softly, unable to quite clamp down on a wave of... was that disappointment? What reason did she have to be disappointed? It was like that Lilith woman had said, after all. She was here to do a job, and honestly that didn't require her to understand his reasons or know anything about him at all. Maybe he had weirdly-kind tendencies in there somewhere, but aside from the occasional random expression of them, she shouldn't expect—

Well she shouldn't have expectations. He didn't want to be her fucking friend, and she needed to get a goddamn grip on herself before she did something stupid, like show her idiotic human emotions on her face. She needed to remember her place, or whatever those stupid billboards in the Pits reminded everyone to do.

"I guess not. You said you wanted to be a passenger for this?" She jerked her chin towards the car, trying to force her feelings down and out. Empty shell, Soleil. That was the way to handle things in the moment. Just. Stop. Feeling.

He regarded her with an even stare, as if he were trying to figure something out. “Yes," he replied simply, moving towards the other side of the Phaser. “You know the drill, they won't stop you if you push past the speed limit. Don't even know why they make those things," he muttered the last part almost to himself.

“Alright, Soleil, she's all yours," he stated, patting the hood of the car before getting in.

"Sure," she said, trying to summon up some of her former enthusiasm. It was still cool, getting to drive the thing, and with her own system fully installed, no less. If she worked at it, maybe she could just... think about that. It wasn't like any of the rest mattered anyway. This was a project she'd poured dozens of work hours into in total, a brand-new thing she could probably apply to patent. Maybe if she could corner that niche market, she could—

Shaking her head, Soleil slid into the driver's seat, closing the vertical door with a click. The car started smoothly, lifting into the air smooth and easy. The garage door opened to accommodate their exit, and she guided it back towards the Outer Ring.

"Have you..." she cut herself off, then shook her head. "Never mind."

“No, no, what were you going to ask? Have I what?" he asked, glancing in Soleil's direction.

Soleil pursed her lips. It could be useful information, but it was also kind of a window into something personal, and she wasn't sure she was comfortable with that. Still... she needed to do something, and getting what dirt she could get was the first step. It wasn't like she was swimming in potential sources of it, either.

"I was going to ask if you'd heard of a guy named Zinoviev. A cambion. It's not like I think you all know each other, but..." She shrugged. "He's a nuisance and I need intel if I'm ever going to do anything about him." Maybe she could just leave it at that. He had no reason to care about her life, after all, so why would he ask anything further?

“Zinoviev? Oh, you mean Crowley's boy," Samael replied, his brows furrowing slightly. He made a slightly disgruntled noise before shaking his head. “He's all bark and no bite, that one," he continued, sighing softly, “but he's working his father's business. Which means he's likely extorting people who don't have the money to pay his ridiculous fees. Even I know that isn't the best way to acquire souls."

“Wait, how do you know Alastor? You said he's a nuisance, is he in charge of your neighborhood?" he asked, almost as if he were slightly curious and... there was something else there in his tone of voice, but it was hard to know what it was, exactly.

"I wish he was after our souls," she muttered, picking up speed on the on-ramp. So far the engine was handling everything smooth as butter, purring softly and shifting as easily as she could ask for. It really was a top-of-the-line car. Flicking the indicator, she made a flowing lane-change in front of a wheeled vehicle and accelerated further. "He's a piece of shit and I have to figure out how to handle it, is all."

Samael's brows knit together, and he pursed his lips together. It almost looked like he was pouting, but perhaps that wasn't the case? Our? What is he after, exactly?" Samael asked, seemingly intrigued, now.

“And you're not wrong; he's a little fucker who wouldn't know two shits if they slapped him in the face," he added.

Soleil was quiet for a minute. She'd almost told him right there—because he was asking. She couldn't remember the last time anyone but Luna had asked her anything of importance about herself, or her life. But—

That's something you don't need to concern yourself with.

She shook her head instead. "It doesn't matter. You have enough sense of what he's like, anyway." With a shrug, she eased her foot down on the gas, kicking the engine well up past the speed limit and shifting lanes to weave between the other cars on the road. She left plenty of room, but there was no point testing this thing unless she really put it to work.

“Fine, be that way. Keep your secrets to yourself," he muttered before reclining his seat back. “In any case, you should stay clear of him. He's extremely pushy about things, as I'm sure you know. I told you before, if anyone gave you problems, you could tell them who you worked for. Alastor would get the hint if you told him I was your employer. Crowley might have a few words to say about that, and so might Alastor, but they can both fuck off."

"They might give you problems?" She honestly wasn't sure what to do with that, or any of this. She was not going to do anything that would inconvenience him, because she understood debt as well as anyone did, and even if he'd never collect, she was in his. The salary was one thing, but everything else was tipping the ledger much too far in his direction. She'd have to find ways of making up for it, not making it worse than it already was.

Soleil wasn't quite sure what to do with... any of this. Including his demeanor.

“Problems?" Samael replied and barked a short laugh. “They could try to give me problems. The most they could do is give me a headache. They're a nagging bunch if anything, but no, they couldn't give me problems even if they tried," he almost sounded confident. He rolled his eyes, though, and huffed another short laugh.

“Why, are you worried they'd give me problems? How sweet."

"Not the word I'd use," Soleil replied, shrugging a little sullenly. Must be nice, for people like that to be nothing more than minor annoyances. She stepped wrong or too soon, even the half-demon could ruin her entire life. Or end it, for that matter.

Lights flew by overhead as the car accelerated, well past the speed limit and up into triple digits; it was made to do it, though—the speedometer went all the way to a hundred and fifty, and the engine could push a little further still. Tilting them into a curve, she tipped her head and noted no irregularities in sound; at this speed the thing would have been starting to wheeze if the old system had been left in.

“Hm, concerned and worried are basically the same word, so I don't know what other word you'd use for it," he replied in a nonchalant fashion. “Still, if you are worried about Alastor, I've given you a way to deal with him. It's just up to you whether or not you want to," he shrugged his shoulders lightly.

“How's the car driving?" he asked, apparently changing the subject.

She shook her head faintly. "Well I'm going one thirty five and you can feel yourself—smooth as silk. This is pretty much what these cars were designed to do." She felt a flicker of satisfaction at that; it ran as it should, up to its specs and even a little better, and she'd made that happen. It was good—a thing she'd be able to always have under her belt as a mechanic, and a distinction from a lot of them, especially all the ones who weren't also engineers or builders.

“Feeling it and having someone who knows what to look for telling me that it's alright are two different things. I'm not the expert here; you are," he replied, smiling a little bit before shaking his head. “But if that's the case, then I suppose you've done your job. This is yours," he stated, pulling the phone from his pocket and putting it in one of the cup holders.

“For the next two weeks, I want you to drive this Phaser to make sure that it's still running smoothly as it's intended to. Doesn't have to be every day, you're free to drive it at your leisure, but I want you to text me or call me with the updates. The key will be where the other keys are. Deal?"

He really was a weirdo. Decelerating only slightly, Soleil took an interchange to get them turned around and headed back the right way. "I can do that," she said simply. It was understandable he'd want her to be totally sure the refit had gone how it was supposed to, and that he wouldn't really want to waste his own time going along for all of that. Obviously.

"Uh. Question, though. Can I write this up? I was thinking maybe I could do a paper about the defect and the solution for one of the trade journals, but they'd want a specific serial number for proof's sake, and that means someone could, in theory, look it up and realize the car I'm writing about is yours. I don't know if you care or not, but.. I figured I'd ask. I was thinking about patenting the system, too, if it works well."

Sam blinked and arched a brow at Soleil. “I don't see why not? I'm not the one who built the system, after all. If some idiot tries to take your credit, though," he narrowed his eyes slightly before shaking his head, “just make sure that it is my car that is referenced so that that won't happen. Otherwise I don't really give a shit what you do. If you need to write the paper, you can take the computer tablet in the garage with you to do it. It has most of the stuff stored on it, anyway, right?"

"It does, yeah." She wasn't entirely sure she wanted to bring it back to her place, though. For one, it was impossible to be sure that Zinoviev's goons wouldn't break it when she dropped the latest piece of news on them. She wasn't stupid enough to think there was going to be no retaliation for it.

Shifting her hands on the wheel so they were closer to the three and nine positions, she pursed her lips, darting an aside glance at him. "If you don't mind though... I might leave it and write the thing in the workshop? I wouldn't charge for the hours, obviously, just—" Soleil shrugged.

“Not at all," he responded, perhaps, a little too quickly. He furrowed his brows and glanced out the window for a moment before continuing, “you can write it in the work shop if you'd like. You have access to it. If..."

There was a slight pause, as if he didn't quite know what to say. “If you're in the workshop for a while, you can go into the house and the kitchen to make you something to eat or just... to get out of the garage for awhile. The garage is basically part of the home so you're free to wander if you want." He hadn't quite looked back in her direction, though.

He would... let her in his house? Soleil studied his profile for a moment longer than was wise before turning her attention back to the road. There was something warm in her chest, and at the same time it felt like a lump had formed in her throat. She didn't know where the feeling had come from, or have the first lick of a clue what it meant, but she cleared her throat past it, trying and not totally succeeding to suppress the little uptick at the side of her mouth.

"Okay," she said, trying not to sound happy about it. Why should she be? "It's a deal."

There was a small smile on his face that Soleil could easily see from his side profile. “Okay, then."


Characters Present

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.


Characters Present

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

26 Abbadonus
Nishants' House - Afternoon - Light Snow
Soleil Nishant

Soleil hummed quietly to herself. There was something about snow that made the world seem quieter; she didn't really mind it, but she also just... well, she wasn't sure. She thought she might be in a good mood, but she wasn't exactly in-tune with her own emotions, and she knew this about herself. So she didn't spend too long trying to figure it all out or anything.

At the moment, she was actually working on a small speaker system she'd bought from the pawn shop. They was cheap because they weren't working right, but the quality of them wasn't bad. Normally, she'd never have bought something so extraneous, but she had a salary, now, and liked the idea of being able to pipe music into the workshop while she was working on something else. Soleil had never really been able to listen to much music, and consequently, she knew nothing about it.

But she had a phone now, capable of reaching radio stations or streaming services, so... maybe she could learn a bit more. Most likely she'd forget it was on if she got really into something, but she didn't always do that.

Popping the rear panel off one of the speakers, she tilted her head down at the mess of wires inside. "All right, little guy, what's your malfunction?"

It wasn't long before the faint chime of the doorbell could be heard. It wasn't Luna; she was at one of the places she volunteered at, and wouldn't be home until later on in the evening. Whoever it was, didn't announce themselves until they'd entered the garage where Soleil was working. Alastor was dressed a little differently today. His suit was a dark red, dark enough that it could easily have been mistaken for black. His pants were the same color, however; the dress shoes he wore were white. His hair had been tied back into a low tail, but the tie around his neck was the same color as the suit.

“Ah, it seems my little moon is missing. Shame," he stated, his eyes wandering around the garage. “I would have liked for the both of you to be here," he added, smirking slightly when his eyes landed back on Soleil. “I suppose I can settle for the little sun, today. There is something that needs to be addressed since my little sun seems to have acquired a rather affluent benefactor."

Settle for, huh? Well, he wasn't wrong. She wasn't exactly her sister, and she never had been. It was obvious just looking at them—honestly Soleil thought that whatever they were named, the sun and moon thing was just... off. Not on Luna's end, but her own. She wasn't sunlike in any sense, even metaphorical, that she could name. She really didn't understand his compulsion to 'employ' her as well as Luna, but whatever. At least it kept them both in the same boat and didn't give her sister any ideas about sacrificing herself for Soleil's sake.

She blinked at him, putting on her best blank pokerface. "You know you're supposed to wait for someone to answer the door before letting yourself in, right?"

Luna's current absence meant she didn't feel quite as much need to be careful how she spoke, not that she was any good at that in the first place.

Alastor arched a brow in her direction. “Did you forget that I owned this neighborhood?" he retorted, his face smoothing out to something a little more flat than amused. “Technically I do not have to wait for someone to answer the door to a building that belongs to me." He waved a hand in a nonchalant fashion in front of himself, though, before pushing out a small sigh.

“Regardless of the fact, starting next month, your base fee is going up," he stated, perhaps to remind Soleil of the price increase next month. Fifty dollars would put their protection fees at three hundred per person, however; there was a subtle smirk on Alastor's face. “The new price will be five hundred per person. Every month after next will be an added one hundred dollars per person and will continue to increase."

She wanted to remind him that he did not in fact own her house; she'd purchased it from the city herself, and it was her name on the paperwork, regardless of how entitled he felt to it. But she had more pressing issues—namely, the fact that he was clearly extorting her.

"Did it occur to you that perhaps my 'affluent benefactor' might not much care for the fact that you seem to think you own me?" Her voice was still flat, as bored as ever, save the way her eyes narrowed. She didn't want to do this—didn't want to invoke Samael's name. It felt too much like leaning on him for protection, and Soleil Nishant had always, always protected herself. No one had wanted to do it before, even when she was just a child, and so she'd learned to do it herself, and for her sister, too.

But what other choice did she have? She had plenty of pride, maybe. But this situation was just... beyond her ability to handle. Zinoviev was backing her into a corner. And like any animal in the same situation, she was going to use whatever she had at her disposal to get out of it.

“Oh, but I do own you," he stated, a sly smirk appearing on his face. “The fact that you pay me protection fees is proof of that. I might not employ you, but I do own you. The things I could do with the both of you, though, regardless," he trailed off a bit to let the implication sink in.

Prove it, you sick son of a bitch. It wasn't a sense of self-preservation that stopped Soleil from actually speaking the words. She had little enough of that left, apparently. But despite the fact that everything he said disgusted her, she couldn't let her emotions control her reaction. She had to stay coolheaded and rational. So while her jaw tightened and one of her hands curled into a fist under the table, she used the other to remove the plastic card from her pocket.

A deft toss landed it on his side of the table, right side up. "I don't know him very well, but I suspect he'd disagree. Like I do."

His eyes followed the card as she tossed it at him, eyes narrowing slightly as he seemed to read the name on it. There was something momentarily unreadable on his face, something that looked like anger and confusion all in one go, however; he simply glanced back to her.

“And what do you think this is supposed to do?" he asked, picking up the card between his forefinger and thumb. “You think Samael can protect you, is that it?" he continued, the arch in his brow smoothing out.

“Or are you threatening me, Soleil Nishant?" he asked, tossing the card back in her direction. “If that's the case, need I remind you of who I am and what I am capable of? Samael might be protecting you, but that's as far as his protection goes. I know him well enough," he began, his lips pursing into a fine line. “Your sister is at that pathetic excuse of a shelter, is she not? I need only to make a phone call..." he trailed off, his eyes narrowing in Soleil's direction.

"You lay one finger on her and I'll rip off your dick and feed it to you."

Apparently, she had a limit to what she could tolerate. It occurred to Soleil that Luna was probably a moderating influence when she was present, but otherwise just the opposite. "I'm not afraid of you, Zinoviev. I put up with you for her sake. You hurt her even one tiny bit and I won't have a reason to. And I won't need Samael's help. That's a threat."

“Oh, she does have a weakness," Alastor stated, smirking somewhat. “And it also seems she has emotions. Albeit explosive ones, but they are there regardless." If he was at all fazed by her statement, he didn't show it. Instead, he clicked his tongue behind his teeth and shook his head.

“We'll see about that," he stated, narrowing his eyes at Soleil. “You should take my offer, Nishant. For now, enjoy your freedom because you won't have it for very long. Of that, you can be assured."

"And yet I still have it," she replied, still nearly toneless. "Kindly leave my house before I'm too much more tempted to retrieve my shotgun. I wouldn't trust much to my patience. As you can see, I'm a little emotional right now, and we humans are ever so inclined to poor judgement when we get like that."

Get out, get out, get out! She wanted him gone—now.

The smirk grew into a broad grin. “It's what makes humans so interesting," was the only reply he gave. “I will leave, but not because you are so adamant about it. I have things to discuss with a certain someone. In the mean time, do take care of yourself, Nishant. You and your sister are far from done dealing with me." With that, he made his way back towards the front of the building, the chime of the door signaling that he'd left.

As soon as the door closed behind him, Soleil slumped into the stool, picking up the card and staring sightlessly at the front of it. It had been the last resort she didn't even want to use, and it... it hadn't even done anything. She hadn't missed the look that crossed Zinoviev's face—he wasn't any more fond of Samael than Samael seemed to be of him. And yet...

What was she supposed to do now? They'd had time, before. Time to think of something and money to buy that time. But somehow, that fucker had gotten wind of her new job, and now she was back to square one, with no plan for dealing with him. How was she supposed to? She was one human, and even if he was a young, pretty terrible crime boss, he was still a crime boss, and had plenty of people protecting him. Not that she'd actually kill him—Soleil wasn't a good person, but she wasn't a murderer, either. The shotgun was loaded with rock salt, for fucksake.

Leaning down, she pressed her forehead to her workbench. The pressure on her nose helped her hold back the stinging sensation that threatened. She did not cry. Soleil hadn't cried since the day she woke up alone with her sister and no memory of the days before. She'd been nine, maybe ten. She wasn't going to spill her first tears in twenty years over Alastor fucking Zinoviev, even if he was a creep and an asshole. Even if everything in her life that even started to look like it might be going right crashed and burned.

Before she knew it, she'd reached for her phone, pulling up the only number registered in it.

Hey do you

What the hell was she doing? He didn't care about her problems, and she couldn't rely on him to solve them. She was his fucking mechanic, for God's sake.

Soleil went to delete the message, but, unfamiliar with the device's layout, accidentally hit 'send' instead. Shit. Hurriedly, she typed out another.

Never mind.

There was a ding from her phone, not more than a few seconds later, which was enough to alert her that she had a message. Do I what? it read.

It felt, suddenly, like her heart had jumped up into her throat. Dread? No, it didn't seem to be that, but she had no idea what it was instead. Only that it felt a little like the moment before she made a jump she wasn't sure she could clear, something she'd done a lot as a kid, making an escape over rooftops instead of on street level.

Sometimes, she'd almost thought she could fly.

It's nothing.

She paused a moment. He... deserved a better answer than that, right? It was almost a flat out lie, and she didn't lie to people. Just

Now what? She didn't want to complain or seem to be asking for his help. What was he supposed to do anyway? He was already too generous. But some part of her did want to tell him anyway. Maybe if she just... said that?

Don't interpret this as me asking for anything, okay?

She waited after that, hoping maybe for some kind of agreement before she had to figure out how to put it.

You could if you wanted the first message read. What is it that's bothering you? the second message read, coming through five seconds later.

She could if she wanted? The knot in her throat was suddenly hard to swallow past; she sniffed. Idiot. Whether the bigger one was him or her was up for debate.

I was having a good day, fixing this sound system she started, pausing to take a picture of the opened speaker with her phone in case he was interested. Once she'd sent it, she continued. And then Zinoviev showed up. He found out somehow. That I had a new job, that was paying me well. Now he's demanding a credit a month, increasing.

She hesitated. That really did sound like she was asking for something. Shaking her head, she continued. It's so stupid. Like what kind of petty asshole bothers two people in particular this much, you know? I tried what you suggested, but... it didn't change anything.

It was a couple of minutes before he actually responded back. She could see the little dialogue bubble appear, meaning he'd been typing for those couple of minutes, but the first message he sent her was short. He's a prick who doesn't know how to take no for an answer.

Don't pay his fees next month. I'm going to have a talk with Crowley and Alastor.

There was a third message a couple of seconds later.

Oh, and I'm not doing it because you're asking me. I'm doing it of my own volition.

Soleil pulled in a breath—sharp enough to be a gasp, she realized distantly. I don't Deciding that was the wrong way to start that sentence, she went to backspace, but accidentally hit enter again.

Ugh, stupid send button. Hoping that would explain it, she added quickly. I don't know a lot about this, but doesn't Crowley run the police? Please don't stick your neck out because of me.

She paused for a full thirty seconds before scraping together the courage to send the message she'd originally meant to.

I don't want you to get hurt.

Her breath hissed between her teeth as she forced it out. "God, I'm a fucking idiot."

He owns the police, yes. The first message read.

But the police don't answer to just him. I'm not going to get hurt because of some stupid little fucking half-demon and his dad who think they can just... the message seemed like it cut off before he'd finished, but the next message didn't suggest so.

It'll be fine. Don't worry your pretty little head about dear ol' Sam. There was a small image that looked like a smiley face that followed the message.

Absurdly, the weird yellow smiley caused the same expression on her own face; she huffed softly. I mean, I wasn't going to mention the old part, but since you said it, make sure not to pull a muscle or have a stroke or something, okay?

Just for you.

Thanks for thinking of me, Sam.

She figured that served just as well as a bit of banter as an expression of her true sentiments. The fact that it could be the first let her say it, but she found herself hoping he'd understand the real meaning of it, too.


That one managed to catch her a little off-guard, and she felt, of all things, heat rising to her cheeks. Always like... always thinking of her? No—no, that was stupid. Completely stupid and obviously not what he meant.

"Get a grip, Soleil," she said aloud.

Fine. This was fine. And it seemed like a perfectly good end to the conversation, even if it left her somehow wanting to say something more. Maybe enough to push that message up far enough that she wouldn't be able to read it and remember her embarrassing momentary misinterpretation and the massive ego necessary to have made it. Shit, she was Soleil Nishant. The only people who thought about her with any regularity were her sister and apparently Zinoviev, gross as that was.

Grimacing, she hit the button to darken her phone screen. Maybe she could salvage this speaker system and her day at the same time.


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 hand 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.


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." Che 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 no 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."


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 with aplomb. 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 forefingers 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 will 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."


"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.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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#, as written by Aethyia

29 Victorianus
Lux Hotel and Casino - Night - Overcast
Soleil Nishant

This place had so many lights she felt like it was going to burn her eyes out.

Soleil had decided she hated it as soon as they were inside. The lights, the eyes. All these demons had probably sussed out that she was a human immediately, and they must be offended, because it felt like they were all glaring at her. She was doing her best to act like she didn't notice it, but even she had her limits, and she'd never liked crowds to begin with.

Still... so far, the plan was working. She'd bought her sister's "time" for the night, which basically just meant Luna was free to wait on tables and try to earn some tips without anyone trying to demand more than that. Well they might anyway, but they at least had to pretend to be reasonably classy about it, and they had to let her go when she informed them she was already under contract for the whole time.

The amount she'd had to pay was ridiculous, but she was about to make it look like peanuts.

Approaching the counter, she nodded to the woman behind it, another dressed in the staff uniform, then handed her the sleek black card in her hand. "I'd like a thousand credits in chips, please." Her tongue nearly tripped over the number—that was literally a million dollars. If she lost it, she didn't have a hope in the world of repaying Samael. She was staking a lot on her brain and her poker face here, but it was like she'd told Luna a while ago. If they didn't start playing offense, they were just going to get crushed in the long game.

She tried not to think about the consequences if her very literal high-stakes gamble didn't pay off.

The woman gave her half a skeptical look before she spotted the name on the bottom of the card and her eyes went a fraction wider.

“You know Mr. Lennox?" she asked, her tone... was that hopefulness?

Sol blinked. "Uh... kind of. He's my employer."

The woman sighed and smiled, almost as if she'd—Soleil had read about this in books. Did this lady have a thing for Sam?

Handing over a velvet satchel with the chips, she also handed back the card. “They might be literal demons, but some of them are really nice to look at, right?"


“I'm just saying. Girl'd sell her soul for a night with that one."

Soleil assumed that must be a joke, because she could not imagine selling her soul, much less for one night of anything. She stowed the card and wrapped the bag's drawstrings around her wrist.

"If you say so," she said flatly, then turned to take her leave before she could be subject to anything like a request for more information.

She did need to find him, though—she suspected he was the only one that would be able to help her get into a high-stakes game. There were people playing on the floor, of course, but the kind of thing she needed was more likely to happen in the back rooms.

She found him in a small circle of demons, mostly women and two men. He seemed to be talking with them, but the expression on his face was easy to read as boredom. He was bored talking to them for some reason, however; it might have been a trick of the eyes, but his own eyes lit up when he spotted her. Excusing himself from the group, which was basically just walking away mid conversation, he made his way towards her.

“There you are, I thought you got whisked away," he stated, clearly amused by something.

Soleil snorted, fighting down a smile. "By whom?" she asked dryly. "If anyone here tried to whisk me anywhere, there'd be a fight about it." She wasn't delusional enough to count herself the winner of any such fight, but she'd give them Hell anyway, as the saying went.

Holding up the velvet bag, she shrugged. "I went to borrow more money than my life's worth so I could play with the high rollers. Any idea where that's happening?"

“Ah, so you want Crowley's table," he replied as he glanced over Soleil's shoulder. He sighed a little softly, though, before turning his attention back towards Soleil. “It's a demon-only table, but I might be able to squeeze you in. Depends on how cranky Crowley's feeling today, and from the looks of it," he paused to glance over her shoulder again, presumably at the person in question, “he looks to be in a good mood. About as good as it can be, anyway."

“Are you sure you want to go to that table, though? We can start you somewhere else if you want," he stated, pursing his lips together.

She shook her head. "I actually have a backup plan if it's no humans allowed. Sort of. It'd require your cooperation, though." She tilted her head to the side. She sort of figured he wouldn't mind, and that by itself was weird—it was very akin to trusting him, and she wasn't sure how to feel about that. It wasn't like she trusted people normally. But, well, he had helped her this far.

"But I need to turn this into enough to pay you back, plus enough to guarantee I can out-bid everyone else for Luna if it comes to that. That means big money tables from the get-go." She paused, putting two things together. "Besides, if Crowley's Zinoviev's dad, I'm gonna make him sorry he has him for a kid."

Samael barked a short laugh, earning a few eyes on him before he shook his head. “It's not like he had any other kids to choose from. Alastor is an anomaly, really," he stated as he held out his hand towards her. “And even if it is all demons, I can still get you a seat at the table. There are some things that demons can't refuse, and a good challenge is one of them. Crowley might make an exception if we word this right," he continued, rolling his eyes a little.

“You don't have to pay me back," he stated suddenly, a hint of seriousness in his tone. “You know that, right?"

Soleil had been reaching for his hand, more on an instinct she didn't understand than any conscious decision on her part. It was strange, how relative things could be. Before when she'd felt his... well, his otherness, the way he wasn't human, it had made her uncomfortable. But here, surrounded on all sides by demons, there was something almost reassuring about it. About the way he wasn't quite that either.

The words, though, halted her, and the stayed like that, suspended in mid-motion, as her brows furrowed and she frowned. "Sam, it's... it's a million dollars." She couldn't imagine it being nothing, even to him, and to her it was... well it was hardly the kind of thing she could even conceptualize properly. It might as well have been infinite, for as far as it was from anything she'd ever thought to be in her ballpark. "I can't just..."

His generosity, he'd demonstrated so many times by this point that she didn't bother to ask herself if he had some ulterior motive anymore. He was just like this. Whether she could accept a gift of this magnitude, however, was a different matter. Because she was a certain way too.

He just shrugged his shoulders, though, reaching the rest of the way to take her hand. “So?" he began, arching a brow at her. “If I wanted you to pay me back for this, I would have said so in our contract," he continued, shaking his head lightly. “Look, if you really want to pay me back, just... I don't know. Beat Crowley at poker."

“I'll consider all debts paid if you do that. If you lose... well, you can figure out a different way to pay me back if that's what you really want."

She couldn't help the uncomfortable tingling at the back of her neck when he took her hand; it was distracting enough that she almost missed what he said. Forcing herself to focus, Soleil sighed quietly through her nose. "Well... beating him's the plan anyway, so I guess we'll see what happens." She wasn't about to let it go at just that, but now was hardly the time to be hashing out the disagreement.

She wasn't sure how a table full of very rich demons was going to react to this plan, but she knew she needed to wear her game face. So Soleil straightened her back, rolling her shoulders and tilting her chin so she looked confident, even if she didn't feel it, especially not in this dress.

"Let's do it, then," she said firmly.

He only smiled and nodded his head, leading her towards the table where the demons seemed to be finishing up their game. Sam rolled his eyes, but cleared his throat. One of the demons sitting at the table glanced up, her two-toned eyes, one hazel the other a dark green, meeting Samael's before glancing in Soleil's direction.

“What have you brought here, Sam? A bargaining chip?" she asked, arching a brow back in Samael's direction. She didn't seem entirely pleased that Soleil was there, but she didn't seem to be immediately put off by it. Another demon merely scoffed at the woman's statement.

“Sam hasn't played a game of poker since you wiped the floor with him almost a millennia ago, Caim," he stated. The woman, Caim, merely rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, well things change," Samael retorted with a light shrug of his shoulders. “Besides, there are more interesting things happening nowadays then playing a game of poker with old shits like yourselves," he added. Caim just gave Samael a flat look.

“And yet you still disrespect your elders. Aren't you so thoughtful," she drawled before turning her attention back towards Soleil. “What of you, girl? Are you here to play a game?" she asked.

"If there's an open spot, yes," Soleil's voice was flat as she could make it, with no discernible emotion, and her face matched it.

Something, whether what she'd said or how she said it, finally drew the attention of the third person at the table. It was hard to tell at first, what with the fall of snowy hair and the jet-black horns jutting up from his head, but his facial features bore a strong enough resemblance to Zinoviev's that she knew who he had to be.

“There are any number of tables at which you might attempt such a thing," he said, just as toneless as Soleil himself. His eyes locked on hers, the kind of burning gold that was actually slightly luminous. Apparently Crowley didn't play at humanity like a lot of these others did. The aura rolling off him was a lot stronger than either of the other two were giving her, but Soleil locked her knees and refused to back down from it.

"None with the stakes I want," she replied, giving the bag of chips a little toss so it landed in front of the empty seat directly across from Crowley. "I'm not here to play for peanuts."

His eyes narrowed; she knew she was walking a fine line between boldness and disrespect, and she watched him try to decide which it was, heart in her throat.

After a moment, though, he nodded the faintest bit, which she interpreted as her cue to sit down.

Samael merely stood behind the chair Soleil was sitting at, however; Caim seemed rather pleased with the outcome. “I like her already," she stated as she glanced towards Crowley and then back towards the other demon at the table. “It's your turn, Malphas, pass the cards out," she stated, causing the man to furrow his brows.

“Shut your face, Caim. I know how this shit works," he replied as he reached for the deck of cards, however; Samael took them, instead.

“Since I'm not playing, I'll be the dealer," he simply stated, glancing in Crowley's direction as if looking for permission. He didn't wait, though, and took a seat on the other side of Crowley, shuffling the cards with ease and began passing them around the table.

Crowley didn't seem to care. At least knowing no one was stacking the deck would be helpful—one less thing she had to watch for. The cards were dealt, and Soleil took a brief look at her cards before laying her hand over them. It was a decent hand to start, nothing spectacular, and when the three were laid out for everyone, she felt about the same. Still, she needed to make this a statement. Win or lose, she had to be interesting enough that the demons would let her stick around.

Fortunately, she was the first to go. Once her chips were neatly stacked in front of her—the pile only about half the size of the next smallest one and maybe a quarter the size of Crowley's, she pushed a small tower of them forward.

Caim and Malphas simply matched it, though they remained quiet for the most part. No one seemed too eager to speak at the table. Samael merely sighed, but pulled three cards from the deck. One was a nine of diamonds, a three of spades, and a Jack of hearts. Both Caim and Malphas seemed to study the cards drawn before glancing at their own hands.

“Raise," Malphas stated as he pushed two gold colored chips to the center. Caim rolled her eyes, but pushed two of the same colored ones forward.

Crowley simply folded, seemingly more interested in watching what Soleil would do than in playing the round himself. Even that was a useful bit of information—he knew when to fold. Soleil wordlessly matched the upped ante, and the bidding went around again.

Samael flipped over another card, this one a two of clubs. “Raise," Malphas stated, pushing a black chip forward this time.

“Call," Caim stated, narrowing her eyes slightly at Malphas.

Soleil called as well, though she was beginning to suspect both demons were fairly confident in their chances.

Samael flipped over the last card: an ace of spades. Malphas didn't bother to hide the grin on his face at that. Caim, however, subtly arched a brow, glancing at the cards in her hand momentarily before glancing at the five cards on the table. She blinked slowly before she glanced in Malphas' direction. Her eyes narrowed again.

“Player's last bet," Samael stated, glancing towards Soleil, first.

Soleil didn't let her face waver even the tiniest bit. Malphas had to have something really good—if she was going to win this round, she had to convince him it wasn't as good as what she had. Caim's eyes suggested she was double-checking suits, which most likely meant she was looking for something matchy rather than sequential—a flush rather than a straight. Not a royal one, with what was on the table, but still better than Soleil's pairs.

Well, it was bold or nothing. Taking a tall stack of golden chips from her pile, Soleil pushed them all forward without the faintest bit of hesitation.

Caim didn't seem to want to take a chance, placing her cards face down and folding. Malphas, however, narrowed his eyes at Soleil, almost as if he were trying to read her. Samael arched his brow in Soleil's direction as well, seemingly curious as to what she was doing.

“Ah, whatever. I ain't ever lost to a stinking human before, ain't gonna start now," he stated, reaching for a stack of gold chips as well.

“I don't know, Mal. This one has a look in her eye. You sure you want to risk it?" Caim stated, smirking slightly in Malphas' direction. He openly glared at Caim before turning it on Soleil.

“Fuck it," he stated, throwing his cards on the table. Samael snorted softly and shook his head.

“First round goes to the winner," he stated, smirking in Soleil's direction and pushing the chips towards her.

She nodded, scooping them all towards herself and rearranging them in stacks. She had a sense, now, that it might be possible to play those two off each other—no doubt that was at least part of the reason Crowley currently commanded such a lead. But he had the information advantage over her now, too, having folded from the start and not had to acquaint her with his style yet.

Still, the faint smile he was wearing suggested that he was, at the very least, entertained by her, so that was probably enough to keep her at the table if she could handle it.

The next several rounds passed quickly; the demons played fast, and didn't hesitate to speed up once it became clear she could keep pace. Everyone won sometimes, but Soleil made sure to play boldly enough that she won big when she did, and folded early when she needed to. Crowley was far and away the hardest to read, Malphas being the easiest, but she thought they were having trouble getting a fix on her, too, which was what she'd counted on.

An hour in, Malphas was out, and Sol's pile was triple its original size, while Caim's dwindled. The female demon had already folded, though, and it was just her and Crowley facing off across the table.

“I believe I understand, now," the demon remarked offhandedly, pushing forward several more chips.

The comment seemed almost to be directed more at Samael than herself, though she couldn't shake the sense that it was about her, somehow.

Samael smirked, seemingly pleased with this. “Good. You understand why, now, I was so adamant about keeping Zinoviev away," he replied, confirming that it was, indeed, linked to Soleil. Samael placed another card down, this one another ace. There were two of them on the table, one the hearts suit, and the other was spades. The other two cards were a queen of hearts, and a king of hearts.

“Player's last bet," he stated, glancing back in Soleil's direction and arching a brow.

She didn't need to glance down at her cards to confirm, and suppressed the sliver of excitement that threatened to appear on her face. Now her goal was to bet high enough that Crowley would match, and not so high he'd catch wind of the fact that she had an unbeatable hand.

Tilting her head at the table, she mentally calculated the amount of chips he had compared to hers, and then divided her pile exactly in half, nudging one forward. It was literally a million and a half dollars.

Crowley considered it for a moment, then matched.

They both threw down their cards, and Soleil scooped the entire pile towards herself.

“Well, well," the demon murmured. “I do believe you are the best poker player at this table, Miss Nishant." He inclined his head in something almost respectful, then collected the rest of his chips. “As such, I believe I shall curb my losses here, before I end up as my associate." He arched an eyebrow at Malphas.

Malphas merely glared at Crowley before crossing his arms over his chest, almost like a child would if they were mad they couldn't play with their toys any longer. Caim chuckled softly, however; Samael was laughing a bit loudly. It was enough to draw a few pairs of eyes in their direction, but it subsided a moment longer.

“A royal flush of hearts, how funny," he stated, glancing in Crowley's direction.

“Yeah, well it won't be so funny when I rip yours out," Malphas murmured softly, glancing in Samael's direction who merely rolled his eyes.

“Come now, Mal, accept the fact that you lost to Lady Nishant. She's not so bad," Caim stated, leaning forward and catching her chin in her palm. “Perhaps she'd even be willing to come back for another few rounds, or perhaps for something a little more. I've never had human before," she continued, almost as if she were flirting with Soleil.

“And you won't be having human, especially this one," Samael replied, narrowing his eyes slightly in Caim's direction as she just chuckled.

At one point, Soleil would have been ticked off by the suggestion, but at this juncture, she suspected it was more something Caim was doing as a... well, not a joke, exactly. But it was also different from the purely objectifying thing Zinviev did when he made similar implications, so she let it slide with a little shrug. "The way you say that makes me unsure if you mean for sex or for food," she said bluntly, but the slight quirk to her brow gave it away for at least mostly a joke.

Crowley snorted softly.

“That would depend entirely on you, my dear. Either way works for me, though I do have to say, you'd enjoy the former a lot more than the latter," she replied, causing Samael's frown to deepen. It almost looked as if he were pouting.

Soleil huffed. "Yes well... low bar, I think. Being eaten isn't on my bucket list, shocking as you may find it." She wasn't sure what Sam's deal was; maybe there was history here she didn't know?

“Hm, indeed, although there are various ways to be eaten. Just name the time and place if you ever change your mind," Caim replied as she winked at Soleil. Samael's brows just furrowed deeper before he sighed in a dramatic way.

“You're an ass, Caim. I hope you know that," he simply stated.

“Why thank you, Sam. I know I have an ass."

“Not what I said."

“Ugh, shut the Hell up, you two," Malphas looked vaguely sick at the banter.

Soleil suppressed a flare of embarrassment at the demon's rather blunt suggestion, clearing her throat. "I'll... keep that in mind?" It came out sort of like a question, because she wasn't entirely sure how to deal with that, but in the end she just offered a shrug, stashing her chips back in the bag. "I should go; thanks for the game."

She made eye contact with Samael and tilted her head. With any luck, she should have plenty of money to protect Luna tonight, and if she managed to keep any of her winnings, well... it was a lot of money, even after she paid the original sum back. With interest, because that was the kind of person she was.


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Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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5 Satanus
Sam's Manor - Early Evening - Light Rain
Samael Lennox

For what felt like the umpteenth time, Samael smoothed out his shirt. It was one of his dark blue button up shirts, the kind he could wear with a suit, or by itself. He made sure his hair was pulled back into a loose tail so it would stay out of his face because today felt important. He'd invited Soleil over to his home under the pretext that something had short circuted and needed to be fixed. It was a lie, of course, but he wasn't too certain if she would just come over if he asked. They were... something, though he wasn't sure if the word friends could be applied to it.

Maybe they were and he was just in denial? Whatever it was, Soleil would be arriving soon, and he needed to make sure he had everything ready. He wanted to take her somewhere, a place she'd be comfortable at and also buy something she might want. She and her sister still hadn't used the personal card he'd given Soleil at the beginning of their contract, but he supposed she really didn't need to with the amount of money he'd been paying her. Still... it made him feel inadequate. Like he wasn't quite reliable, for some reason.

He pushed the unsettling feeling, aside, and took in a slow breath. Get your shit together, Sam. It's not like you've exactly proven yourself trustworthy. You basically lied to get her to come over, after all. She'll probably be mad at you for that.

Anger was a rather delectable emotion on people, but for some reason, he didn't want her to be angry. He enjoyed it when she was happy and bright. He didn't have a right to enjoy her happiness, but he was a selfish bastard. Rolling his eyes at himself, he made his way towards the front door, and pushed down the strange excited feeling that threatened him.

A few minutes later, the electronic lock on the door clicked, and it swung open to admit Soleil, who kicked her shoes as free of water as she could on the small step up into the house, stepping up onto the map before she noticed he was already standing there and turned her eyes up towards him. "That much of an emergency?" The question was wry, but he could sense a little flicker of pleasantness accompanying her surprise at his presence.

She dried her boots on the mat and slid her long coat off, shaking the water off out the door before putting it on the hook and letting the portal close behind her. When she looked back at him, he detected another flicker of surprise, and then something almost like intrigue.

"Your right eye," she said, pointing to her own. "It's red today? Is that like a fallen angel thing or did you just forget to take out a contact lens?" A small pause. "Also, hi."


He forgot to put his contact in to hide that, and almost immediately his hand went to cover the offensive eye. “It's not a contact," he stated, turning away from her and walking towards one of his desks. He kept spares of his contacts all over his place, just so he wouldn't have to worry about incidents like this. He retrieved the small case, popping it open and dipping his forefinger in, delicately.

“Give me a moment, I need to put these in," he stated. At this point in his life, he could put the contacts in without a mirror, however; he knew some people didn't quite enjoy the sight of him poking his own eye. Once he had it set, he blinked a few times to ensure it was in place before he turned back towards Soleil.

“Alright, that's settled," he grinned lightly before it disappeared. “I have a small confession to make. I might have lied about the short circuit. I... just didn't know if you'd come over if I asked without any context."

Of all the things he'd felt in his life, shy wasn't one of them, however; he felt strangely bashful about his statement. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, he didn't think. It was just strange.

There was a lot of confusion: first about the contacts and then about the other part, but he didn't sense any anger, at least not yet. She did fold her arms beneath her chest, though; she'd donned a crisp black shirt and a pinstriped vest with black denim pants tucked into her boots. "I guess I have two questions, but both of them are why," she said dryly, narrowing dark blue eyes at him. "Why hide the eye, if you don't mind my curiosity, and why call me here if you don't need anything fixed?"

It wasn't that he minded her curiosity, but he wasn't entirely sure how to sate it. Because someone I once loved told me they loved them, but ended up causing me to fall? wasn't the kind of response he could give her. It wasn't something he wanted to talk about, or bring up for that matter, but... he didn't want it to be the cause of her terminating her contract and leaving him. She had every right to, of course. He wouldn't stop her if that's what she wanted to do, even someone like him knew courtesy and when not to push things.

“I don't like it," he settled on saying that, instead. “It reminds me of a time I'd like to forget." More accurately, it reminded him of a love he wanted to forget. A love he wished he'd never known. “As for why I called you here," he glanced towards the floor, again, the strange feeling taking hold of him.

“I wanted to take you somewhere. To one of the shopping districts you might like for some new clothes. Be it work or otherwise."

The confusion changed tenor; it was that one she got whenever he did something she thought was nice. Like it confused her that anyone would bother. Soleil's dark brows furrowed. She clearly decided to push no further about the eye thing, but the other part of what he'd said made her tilt her head, regarding him with little expression but enough emotion that he could tell she was trying to figure something out. Figure him out, possibly.

"You... want to take me shopping. For clothes." A hint of suspicion. "Is this for another job like that one from the end of the month? Because I don't think I really want to do that again, if I'm being honest." A stab of apprehension, like she wasn't sure how he'd take that.

“I don't blame you," he replied almost instantly. He had seen how uncomfortable she had been during the time she'd spent, however; he wasn't planning on subjecting her to that again. There would have to be a different approach to how they would handle Zinoviev and his ridiculous protection fee in the future.

“It's not for another job or anything like that, I just," he paused, pursing his lips together. Why was it so much harder to say the things he wanted to without sounding like a creep, or weird? “I just wanted to do something for you. Something that wasn't giving you a job to do, or making it seem like it. You don't have to if it's not something you don't want to do. I wouldn't force it on you."

He knew many demons who would have been offended if she'd turn them down on something like that.

Uncertainty. More confusion. Maybe even something akin to embarrassment. He could tell she didn't hate the idea, but that fact itself was not the most comfortable for her, somehow. "I just... I don't get it. You say 'do something for me,' but I'm the one sitting here with now clue how I can ever repay you for all the things you've already done."

Soleil's brows furrowed; she regarded him with an otherwise-smooth pokerface, but he could see where her frame was carrying some tension. The sense of indebtedness was absolutely real—he could feel how keenly she felt it.

“Just stay and be my friend."

The words were out quicker than Sam could process them. He hadn't intended to say that; it was a momentary thought that slipped through, but he meant it, regardless. He sighed softly, resisting the urge to run his hand through his hair.

“I'm... I don't do these things with the intention of having you pay me back, Soleil," he began, furrowing his brows slightly. “You don't owe me anything, and you don't have to feel like I'm doing this with the ulterior motive of making you indebted to me. If it makes you uncomfortable with the things I do, you can tell me."

“I know I look like one, but I assure you, I'm not a complete asshole." To be sure, Sam knew he could be, but when he looked at her, and her sister... he knew he couldn't be to them, especially Soleil.

Surprise, and then, almost as quickly, understanding, and a wave of what felt something like sympathy. Not pity. More like... the understanding coupled with acceptance. Her expression doesn't change much, but she does fold her arms beneath her chest. Her lips purse.

"The... woman. With the blue hair." Annoyance, uncertainty. "Never mind. I'm not... uncomfortable with anything except money being spent on me. If you can agree not to do that, then..." Soleil swallowed. She was nervous, for some reason. "Well I guess I wouldn't mind the trip, at least."

Sam sighed softly. It would defeat the purpose if they went shopping and he couldn't spend money on her. Perhaps... he could ask her sister when Soleil's birthday was. He could use this trip as an opportunity to see what kinds of styles and clothes she liked, and then buy something similar and gift it, later.

“I did give you your own card, did I not?" he stated, instead. “You can use it to purchase whatever you'd like, and you don't have to treat it as me spending money on you. Think of it as treating yourself out. The card has your name on it, after all."

He shrugged his shoulders in a nonchalant fashion so as to seem indifferent about the matter, but Sam was strangely happy. He motioned for her to follow him towards the garage, and chanced a glance towards her.

“Do you want to drive?" It always seemed to make her happy, and the way he stated it gave her free reign to choose any of the cars if she wanted to drive.

There was a spark of it there, too, at the question. That happiness, and this time undiluted with suspicion. It would seem the fact that he hadn't insisted had eased some of her apprehension. "You mean—any of them?"

Sam nodded his head. Any of them."

Immediately, she gravitated towards one of the old ones; the bright yellow Porsche 718 Spyder. She'd done a little work on it, when she'd checked all of them for anything amiss. Apparently it hadn't been anything urgent, just performance enhancements of some description. "I have no idea what your thing is about yellow, but even if just about any color would be better, it's a gorgeous car."

She made a pleased little humming noise, brushing the fingertips of one hand along the front on the drivers' side as she headed towards the door. "You don't mind not hovering? It's a really different feel."

She really was easy to please, wasn't she? Sam chuckled softly and rolled his eyes. “I wouldn't have given you the option to choose one if I was going to be upset being on the pavement," he responded, making his way towards the car. “And for your information, yellow happens to be my favorite color. It's my... thing."

He smirked before opening the passenger door and slipped into the seat. “You know, if you'd rather forgo the shopping bit and just take this for a spin..." he trailed off. He had the slightest inclination that he might not exactly be fit to go anywhere. If this was going to be anything like the first time she took the Yrden out, he was going to need to stay seated.

She frowned a little, but it didn't match her emotions very well. "I'd feel kind of bad, if you invited me here for something we didn't even do," she admitted, popping the door open and slipping into the driver's seat with another burst of happiness.

Soleil fit the key into the ignition and sighed quietly with the thing roared to life, then settled back into a purr. Leaning forward, she set her forehead against the wheel. "Ugh, I'm so uncool right now," she muttered.

“I wouldn't say that," he drawled, trying to keep the grin on his face, spreading. She was adorable, if anything. “I think it's rather cute."

“And you don't have to feel bad about it. It's not often you get to drive these things," he started, waving his hand in a nonchalant fashion, “so just think of it as taking a cruise around town. Plus you can familiarize yourself with the neighborhood a little better."

For once, Soleil didn't seem to have much of a poker face at all. At least not what of it he could see. The wave of sheepish embarrassment, followed by the strangely-fluttery feeling that was being genuinely flattered, followed by crushing shame, apparently at the latter.

She was also, he could see, turning bright red, starting at the tips of her ears.

"For fuck's sake, Sam, you can't just say that shit to people." She drew herself back up, still scarlet, and hit the button to open the garage. "You're lucky I'd die from carbon monoxide poisoning way before you would, or I might have risked it."

She pulled them out onto the street, throwing him a waspish glare.

This time, Sam didn't bother hiding the grin on his face. He arched a brow in her direction, giving her a somewhat challenging stare. “Why can't I say it if it's true?" he questioned, feigning a somewhat hurt tone to his voice. He was pleasantly surprised to hear her call him Sam, for once. It sounded nice coming from her.

“Although cute might be putting it mildly," he added. There were cute aspects to her, to be sure, but that didn't truly define her. There was a repressed beauty to her, something that was subtle, but also quite obvious if one knew how to look. He killed the sudden instinct he had to reach over towards her, and turned his attention towards the scenery.

“I'd say it was more..." he tapped his chin to give her a thoughtful expression, enchanting."

"You dick," she accused, a fresh wave of crimson darkening her cheeks, though she kept her eyes on the road. "I hate you so much."

It might have been convincing, were she not projecting a particularly thick cocktail of emotions, none of which involved hatred—though there might have been a little resentment in there. Perhaps she was annoyed by the ease with which he'd thrown her off her rhythm? Otherwise, though, there was a lot of confusion, some suspicion, a tiny misplaced kernel of hurt, and a lot of strange, foreign giddiness and her own perplexed reaction to it.

“You call me a dick like you didn't already know that about me," he replied casually, feeling a little lightheaded. Her emotions, mixed as they were, were potent to him. “And you don't hate me," he added, smiling a little to himself.

“If you hated me, you would have done everything in your abilities to get rid of me. Admit it, you like me." It probably wouldn't do him any favors if he kept teasing her, but it was so easy. He enjoyed it far too much even if the small voice in the back of his head told him he shouldn't.

"I do not," Soleil groused, turning with a little too much torque onto a different thoroughfare. Not the Outer Ring; rather it was a slightly more scenic trip through some of the nicer parts of the city. "Also if we crash and I die, it's your fault."

“We won't die so it's alright if we do." Well, suffice it to say that Sam wouldn't die if they crashed, but some strange little part of him thought the same of her. He couldn't explain it really, but he wasn't going to try and figure it out. It was too much work and he didn't want to put in the effort to figure it out.

“And you do, too. It's alright to admit it, Soleil, everyone likes me. I'm used to it." He really shouldn't keep teasing her like this, but she was too damn adorable to leave alone. Was he already getting high off of her emotions?

"Then it's a mystery why you hang out with me," she replied, still evidently grouchy. She was enjoying herself though; he could tell. The banter seemed fairly natural to her with the one glaring exception, and when she shifted into third gear, really letting the engine out a bit, she actually smiled.

“It really isn't a mystery. It's because I like you a lot more than everyone else," he replied almost immediately. “Everyone else sucks, and they're always just trying to get something from me," he continued, furrowing his brows slightly and pursing his lips. He seemed almost childish, he knew, but he was currently feeling a euphoric high, something he couldn't experience with any of Leraje's drugs.

“You, though," he glanced towards her, “you're not. You don't want anything from me." If she did, she certainly hadn't said as such.

"I mean..." Soleil pursed her lips; he could feel a sympathetic drop in her mood. "You're practically inviting me to rip you off here, Sam. I just... don't feel like I need to do that." She shrugged. "I don't know if it's me being different from anyone else though. You've just already given me the only thing I need. A steady job."

Guilt, a stab of anxiety.

"So don't go thinking I'm special or anything. I'm just as bad as everyone else, honestly. Selfish to the core."

He hummed.

“But that's where you're wrong, Sol. You are special. Maybe not in the way you think you are, but to me..." he paused, trying to get his thoughts in order. It was difficult when everything was getting muddled together, but he tried. “I don't think it's in your nature to rip someone off, or try and take advantage of them. I mean, for fuck's sake, you played poker with Crowley and the two stooges just to make money for yourself. You paid me back, so... yeah."

“There's nothing wrong with being selfish, either, you know. I think... those stupid demons twisted it to make it seem like it is, but... it's really not. Ah, fuck, sorry, I'm trying to get my thoughts and words right, but it's not working for me. I think I'm drunk."

He should have known better than to try and be sentimental. It didn't work for him the first time. Why would this time be any different?

There was a clear, sharp spike of concern. "How drunk?" she asked. "Do we need to stop so you can get some air?" Even before he could answer, she was pulling over, into a gravel parking lot for one of the 'environment domes' a half-park, half-museum of old-earth plant life and stuff. They were accessible only to authorized persons, but she obviously expected that he was one, and released her seatbelt, hopping out and moving around to his side of the car to open that door as well.

"If you can get us into this dome it might help. I hear fresh air was good for this kind of thing."

Sam couldn't help himself, and laughed. “I'm not drunk, drunk. It just feels like I am," he stated, staring at her from his spot. He hadn't attempted to move, because if he did, chances were he'd fall over. He didn't want to accidentally hurt her in the fall, because he knew himself well-enough.

“I'll just sit right here for a moment, but..." he paused to lean forward towards the glove box. “Here, take this and see if there is one of those, what do you call them, vending machines. Maybe some caffeine or water will help." He held out one of the key cards he had. She could just wave it in front of the machine and it would pay for whatever she wanted to get.

“Get yourself something, too, if you want. We have a town to see!" He couldn't exactly explain why he felt so damn happy. Maybe it was her happiness, or maybe it was her? Sam couldn't be too sure.

She sighed. "All right. I'll get you something to drink then. Wait here, and do me a favor and don't wander off, okay? I'll be annoyed if I have to track you down."

Sam snorted. “I don't think I'd get very far even if I did."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Samael Lennox
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#, as written by Aethyia

12 Satanus
Samael's Manor - Evening - Snow
Soleil Nishant

By the time Soleil looked up from her work, it was already evening. Her stomach insistently informed her that she hadn't eaten today, and so it was with some reluctance that she made her way to Samael's kitchen.

She'd been feeling a little... awkward around him, since the incident last time. Not that he'd been a badly-behaved drunk or anything, just that it had felt... she didn't know. He confused her. A lot. And she'd been so happy when he said they were friends. Too happy. And she didn't care that that other woman with the blue hair had warned her off just that, except she kind of did. If it had been just herself, she'd have risked it, no question. But with Luna's safety to consider, too, she just...

She didn't know if she could be a friend, even if she thought he deserved one.

It left her cranky, and so she'd sunk her time and energy into Samael's newest acquisition, which needed a lot more work than his others. Some part of her was wondering if maybe he'd bought it specifically because he knew she'd be able to fix it. It was a... nice thought, that someone might have that kind of faith in her skills.

Then, of course, she'd told herself to can it with the stupid ideas and gone to work.

And ten hours later, her body had finally seen fit to remind her that she was not a demon and probably needed to eat something, as her last meal had been... more than twenty four hours ago.

The kitchen was catalogue-perfect, something out of a particularly fancy, minimalist home design e-mag or something. There was absolutely nothing personal about it, and she didn't think it was really designed with actual occupancy in mind, either. She had to climb up onto the counter to reach the higher shelves even being pretty tall, and while she took care to keep her feet off them, it was still something she hated doing. She'd just have to wipe them down, later.

“You know there's a small ladder kept in the closet just down the hallway, right?" Samael's voice echoed, the amusement clear in his tone. “Or if you needed to reach something, you could have just asked. I wouldn't have minded retrieving it for you," he added, chuckling softly.

“What are you trying to get, anyway?"

She'd felt his presence before he spoke, a chill little tingle that raced down her spine.

Something wicked this way comes.

That had always sort of been how she'd thought of it, anyway. Soleil steadied herself and reached for the stash of granola she kept in the top shelf. The first time she'd bought some to keep here, someone had eaten half of it by the time she'd come back. If it was Sam that was one thing, but she'd bought it herself, and while it wasn't as expensive as the kind he kept here, it tasted better and she was not, unlike him, made of money.

"The good granola," she admitted, ignoring the part about the ladder and the rest with as much dignity as she was able. She had not known that, but she didn't want to look like an idiot, and she could do things just fine for herself. "You have very questionable taste in groceries, so I'm not surprised someone else ate mine."

She turned around and hopped off the counter, to find herself face to face with a fallen angel in what was probably his pajamas. Basic shirt, sweatpants. It was a lot different from how he'd been dressed when she met him, anyhow.

Was that a trust thing, or just because she was obviously totally harmless to someone of his sort? Her head said the latter, but her heart, stupid bastard that it was, kind of wanted it to be the former instead.

She needed to get a grip.

“Ah," he made the sound as he ran a hand through his hair to give it a shake. It was loose, so he ended up moving the entire length of it with that gesture. “Leraje said the same thing," he stated, moving from the spot he was currently in, and made his way closer towards Soleil.

“He ate some of it the other day, and has been since. I have questionable taste buds, as he has so eloquently put it," he continued, sounding the vaguest bit grumpy, but the smirk on his face said otherwise.

“I can replace it if you'd like, or just keep a stash of it somewhere and give him his own. I don't think he'll stop eating it any time soon. I can also just..." he paused, clearing his throat softly and glancing away for a moment. “I can stock your favorite things for you to have when you're here."

Soleil considered this for a moment, assessing that the granola bag was indeed only half-full. This Leraje person was apparently the opposite of courteous. She shouldn't be surprised—Samael was probably the exception rather than the rule on this kind of thing.

And there he went again, being all considerate of her. It really left her on the back foot.

"What about you?" she asked flatly. "I don't mean to be judgey, but your groceries look like they're what you order from the most expensive grocery store because you think if it costs more it tastes better. What do you actually like to eat?" She poured some of the granola into a bowl, setting it down on the counter and adding several large dollops of yogurt, and because it was all his stuff and super fancy, she decided to indulge in some honey and berries, too, stirring it all together with a spoon and taking a large bite.

“Souls," was his immediate answer, and for a moment, his expression had turned serious. The grin, however, reappeared as he rolled his eyes. He had been joking, it seemed. “I actually don't need to eat anything, really," he began, making his way so that he was on the other side of the counter.

“But if I had to choose, things like fruits. The sour kind like pineapples and kumquats," he shrugged. “But I also like savory and salty things. Spicy things that pack a punch, or at least try to. And for your information, I shop at Wholesome Foods because it's the only grocery store around these parts. Do you think they would have a Hughes Totter around?"

Soleil leveled him with a look, then rolled her eyes, licking a bit of honey off her spoon with a hum. "No, of course not. But you can go other places, you know. There's a whole garage full of functional cars you can drive." And one not-yet-functional car, but it had only been a couple of days. She'd get it functioning, or her name wasn't Soleil Nishant.

"Do you cook?"

“Do I look like I can cook?" he answered dryly. “I can't cook worth shit. Last time I tried, Leraje laughed at me for putting the egg into the frying pan. He might not have actually laughed, but he did sigh very heavily. And no, that wasn't a euphemism or anything. I literally put the egg into the pan."

Soleil smiled. It was actually kind of funny, to run across something Samael couldn't do. Not that she was going to leave it like that if he didn't want to. "Well," she said, "do you want to? If you'd like, we could make a late trip to the grocery store, and I can teach you how to pick ingredients, and then we can make eggs."

It was such an inane thing, and she tried to keep her tone casual. Not too embarrassed. Like asking a fucking fallen angel whether he wanted to go to the grocery store and learn how to cook eggs made sense. Like it wasn't laughably beneath him.

She took another large bite of her parfait to try and stifle the feeling.

He didn't answer her immediately, and seemed to be thinking of something. “You know, I don't think I've actually seen you smile like that. It's pretty," he finally said as he leaned away from the counter. “But I won't say no to learning how to cook eggs. Next time I can show that little bastard that I can actually do something simple."

“Eggs are simple, right?"

The expression disappeared as soon as it showed, too fragile to survive its own mention, and Soleil felt a wash of embarrassment. He hadn't seen her smile because she didn't, as a rule. There was nothing to smile about, and even if there had been, she was not an expressive person.

And pretty?

No, he was mocking her. Or maybe just being facetious, as she oddly didn't think he had any truly ill intent. Maybe she'd been around him long enough without the other shoe dropping that she was willing to believe it might not. Might not. Nothing was guaranteed, such tenuous attempts at trust the least so.

So Soleil cleared her throat and pretended it hadn't happened. "Well it depends on how you make them, but I was planning on teacing you how to scramble. That's as simple as you want to make it." She finished her parfait, careful to wash both it and the sppon in the sink, despite the presence of a fancy dishwasher. She left them on the drying rack.

"If you want to drive this time, I can navigate. Unless you're drunk again somehow." He didn't seem so, but if the last time was anything to go by he could apparently hide it for a while.

“It's fine," he said, waving a hand in a nonchalant fashion in front of his face. “I like being taken for a ride," the grin on his face was a little wicked before it disappeared. “The passenger seat has my name on it. Besides, it'll be easier for you to drive, and we won't risk me missing an exit or making a wrong turn. I'm not very good with directions, you see," he seemed to explain, though it wasn't likely true at all.

“Are you in the mood for porsche again? Or do you want to drive something different, this time? Can't take any of the bikes if we're going grocery shopping, but we can probably take any of the hovers or ground ones." The grin on his face was more akin to just being happy about something rather than the expression he had on a moment ago.

“The inventory is open for your choosing."

"Fine, but I swear if I have to haul you around Rogenmart..." She narrowed her eyes, making the displeasure this would cause her evident, she hoped, and grabbed one of the keys off the wall as they headed into the garage. The Tsukishima, this time, a sleek, gunmental grey hover vehicle. It wasn't as fast as the Yrden with her mods, but it was quiet, and the smoothest ride in the garage, with an antigrav system to die for.

She hopped into the driver's seat, pulling the vertical door closed behind her, and waited for him to settle before opening the garage and turning on the car.

"Why did you even decide to collect cars, anyway? You don't seem to like driving very much."

“Had to find something to collect that wasn't a human soul," he answered. “Plus it pisses Bael off that I've collected more cars than souls, and that I don't really plan on changing that. Besides..." he paused for a moment to ensure his seat belt was secure, before sighing softly. “I had to do something to pass the time, and try and preserve a little history, so to speak."

“Some of the cars from Old Earth are too beautiful to let waste, and other demons would just sell them for scrap or try and use them as a way to entice humans. Like yourself, there are humans who probably live for things like that." His brows furrowed before he glanced out the window.

“Not that any of it matters."

Soleil pulled out into the road, her brow furrowing a little at the words. They occupied her for a while; she wasn't the sort of person to throw out thoughtless platitudes or shallow attempts at optimism. Honestly, he was probably right. She didn't know that anything anyone did mattered much anymore, right up to and including the demons. If heaven and hell were closed for business anyway, and there was nothing anymore past whatever short mortal life humans got, well... sometimes she figured that was the lesser punishment.

Who would want to live here forever, after all?

"It matters a little bit," she said at last. "Like you said, it's history. Maybe it doesn't really matter much if anyone remembers it, but it's one small piece of humanity that's not dust. That's something." She shrugged a little.

"And, well, your weird collecting habit keeps me and my sister fed. I wouldn't have that otherwise. I don't know if that means anything in any cosmic sense, but it matters to me at least." She fell silent, feeling that she'd said too much. Talking wasn't really her strong suit.

“I suppose you're right," he stated, huffing softly before shaking his head. “I don't think I'd have met you and your sister, otherwise. I'm actually kind of glad, then, that I got to meet you. I'm not sure if it's fate or what, because fate was an asshole. Actually, I can't really say that, though. Az was a good guy, and a good friend..." he paused as if he'd said a little too much, but shook his head.

“You kind of remind me of him, honestly. I don't know if it's because of the way you are or what, but," he shrugged his shoulders as if to pass it off as nothing.

Soleil huffed, caught between disbelief and being flattered. "There's no way I remind you of an angel," she said, lifting an eyebrow and skeptical to her very core. "Not even the Angel of Death. I know I wear a lot of black, but I think it'd take a little more than that."

“Az actually was very bright, believe it or not," he stated with a light chuckle. “And I'm not saying it's because of the way you dress that you remind me of him. There's a lot of his mannerisms in you. It's in both of you, actually, but predominantly you." He snickered softly before shaking his head.

“And believe it or not, not all angels are considered beautiful. Take Remiel for example. Before he died, he wasn't the most pleasant thing to look at, but... well, he had heart. Besides," there was a hint of mischief in his smile, again.

“You're too wickedly divine to be an angel. You'd probably be in the higher realms of a seraphim like Lucifer and Michael... were," the smile faltered on his face at the mention of the last name.

She rolled her eyes at the last part, now certain he was exaggerating. The knowledge didn't totally stop the fluttering in her guts, but did blunt it a lot, and it died quickly, considering he seemed...

Well she was never any good at this sort of thing, but he seemed a bit sad to her. She didn't really know how to broach the topic, but it felt like he'd opened a door, and she didn't want to just ignore that.

"The Michael, huh?" she said, sounding rather unimpressed. She knew a few stories, but if he was the reason Samael was sad she was somehow predisposed to dislike him on principle. "Not a nice guy?"

Samael took a deep breath, and pursed his lips into a fine line. “He's actually a pretty nice guy, but he's also the guy that threw me out of Heaven. I Fell because of him, and... because of someone else." He didn't seem inclined to mention who the other person was, but it was apparent from the way his expression hardened that it was someone important to him some time ago.

“I'm... not entirely sure if I'm still even mad at him. It was a long time ago, and I don't really remember what we fought about. Contrary to popular belief, just because we lived through history and for a long time doesn't mean we remember everything."

“Not that any of it matters since I'll never see him again. He's probably sitting high and mighty as God's right hand, proud to have absconded with the few that they did." He seemed a bit angry at that, but his expression smoothed over a moment later.

"Dick," Soleil said immediately, then shrugged. She meant it, though. Those angels, and their so-called God, just took the precious mortals they thought were good enough, and left the sinners and the children of sinners, themselves innocent, to squirm under the heavy hand of Bael and his cronies for the rest of time.

She couldn't believe anyone had ever been stupid enough to worship beings capable of shit like that.

Annoyed, she pulled into the Rogenmart parking lot, taking a spot in the back so there was less chance of someone leaving a scrape on the car. "Anyway, we're here. Have you ever actually been inside a grocery store before, or do you get shit delivered?"

“I'm practically a hermit, Sol," he stated with a flat look. “I don't go anywhere unless I'm being summoned by Bael, or if I'm going to visit you and your sister," he continued, arching a brow in her direction.

“Usually I just order it through Goliath and they deliver it."

"Well, hermit, welcome to public excursions. They're not that fun honestly; I'd stay at home if I could, too, but once in a while isn't so bad." She had to fight not to smile again, but managed it, if only barely.

Still, there was a chance this could actually be fun.

Only one way to find out.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Soleil Nishant Character Portrait: Michael Asmund Character Portrait: Lunaria Nishant
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26 Satanus
Location - Mid Afternoon - Light Snow
Lunaria Nishant

The good thing about Rogenmart was that it wasn't too far from where Luna and her sister lived. It wasn't easy being without proper transportation, but they never really bought much to begin with. They'd always purchased what they could, and filched what they couldn't. Today, however, they were going to actually purchase things. Soleil and Luna had spent a good chunk of their lives on the street that neither of them even remembered when their birthday was.

As a rule, they didn't celebrate it, but they'd both agreed to share the same date so if the day came that they wanted to, they had a date to plan for. Plus, they needed something for the official records and things like that.

Today was the day before their birthday, and Luna actually wanted to make something for Sol and herself. She'd settled on cupcakes mostly because they were the easiest things to make. Luna could cook, but she was a shit baker, and she knew it. Even with things that came premade or packed, Luna would somehow manage to ruin it.

“So, what kind of frosting do you want for your red velvet cupcakes?" Luna asked, glancing in Soleil's direction. “You have a choice between cream cheese, butter, or vanilla."

"Butter? Do you mean buttercream?" Soleil considered her sister out of the corner of her eye before pressing her lips together and considering the options on the shelf. She eyed the price tags speculatively, then sighed quietly. "I don't know what any of these taste like. I don't think cream cheese would be very good on a cupcake, so let's try the cream one. Or maybe vanilla? It's cheaper."

“Cream one it is," Luna stated as she reached for the container. “We're not going with vanilla because it's cheaper. We're going for one that'll taste better because it's a semi-special day tomorrow. We're not sparing any expense for this shit, especially not with the year we've been having," though to be honest, Luna still wasn't too sure about it. She still had some reservations about Samael. He was too good to be true. He liked Soleil, that much Luna could tell, and he paid Sol very well.

So well that they really didn't have to worry about much like they used to. Alastor was another thing, but even he hadn't been around in a while. He'd sent some of the lesser demons in his employ to retrieve the monthly bill, but that was it. Luna was grateful for that.

“Speaking of which, how's Samuel treating you?" she asked, knowing full well that wasn't his name.

"Samael," Soleil corrected automatically, though chances were good she knew Luna was doing it on purpose. "And fine. I tried to teach him how to cook eggs the other day. I think they came out all right, but I'll be surprised if he can replicate them on his own. I'm not sure he absorbed much of what I said."

She shrugged, as if this was not a concern, and looked back down at their list. "We need coconut for your weird recipe, right?

“It's not weird," Luna grumbled, rolling her eyes slightly. “And you tried to teach Sam how to cook eggs? Eggs?" She emphasized the word she repeated mostly because she was a little shocked. “They're like... the simplest things to cook. How do you not know how to cook eggs?"

"Not needing to cook things for yourself, I assume," Soleil replied. "You've seen his house, right? At least he seemed reasonably interested in learning." She grabbed a large bag of rice from a bottom shelf, putting it into the cart.

"Pretty sure he'd never been to a grocery store before either. He wanted me to push him around in a shopping cart like a kid he saw on the way in."

He wanted her to...

“Somehow, that really doesn't surprise me," Luna retorted, blinking slowly. “I don't think he's been anywhere other than those fancy parties and his own home," she added, grabbing a bag of shredded coconut and placed it inside the basket. She supposed that there had been a sort of childness to him, but she didn't think it was anything like that. Luna felt a grin tugging at her lips, though.

“So... did you do it? Push him around in a basket?"

"For a while, yeah. Wasn't like I cared if he looked like a weirdo. He grabbed stuff off the shelves so it was actually a pretty efficient system." Deleting the two items from the list on the tablet, she pursed her lips. "Well except all those times when he didn't know what stuff was."

Luna chuckled lightly. “He really does bring out your inner child, doesn't he?" she stated. “Sounds like you had fun, yourself," she added, moving so that they were headed towards the dairy products.

Soleil seemed to contemplate this for a long moment, then lifted her shoulders. "Well, he's not an asshole to me, so I guess I don't feel like I have to be one to him either."

Luna feigned a shocked gasp. “Does that mean Soleil Nishant actually likes someone?" she asked, widening her eyes to give off the shocked impression. It was a little surprising, she wouldn't lie. Luna couldn't remember a time where Soleil actually liked someone, at least in the sense that she wasn't coarse with them. That she would actually indulge someone and push them around in a cart... well, Luna couldn't say it was a bad thing.

“Wait... so does that mean that you were both on a date at the grocery store? Of all the places he could have taken you..." she trailed off, shaking her head in feigned disappointment.

Soleil sighed. "I like him, but it's not the kind of like you're talking about, if you think a trip to the grocery store was a date." She sounded slightly annoyed, but as she turned away, Luna could see that the tips of her ears were turning red. "I was just appalled by the state of his kitchen or whatever, and it turned into a conversation about making food, and how he didn't know anything about it."

She shrugged. "And that was the impetus of the shopping trip. He normally has shit delivered from Wholesome Foods—remember when we lifted pasta from there and it tasted like cardboard? I felt bad for him."

“Ew," Luna drawled, giving Soleil a flat look. “Why would anyone want to shop there?" she stated. It was obvious that Wholesome Foods was just an overpriced grocery chain. Most of the things they sold there weren't even pristine goods. But she supposed since demons didn't really have to eat, it was considered good. It took her a moment to realize what Soleil said at the end, and Luna arched a brow at him.

The Soleil Nishant felt bad for someone? Are the pearly white gates going to be opening soon? Because that is a miracle in itself." She was only slightly teasing Soleil, but it was rare that Soleil felt bad for anyone, at least like that. To the point she'd take him grocery shopping? It might mean nothing, but then again, it might mean something.

Luna was an ass, she knew that, but she was only going to tease her sister so much.

Soleil rolled her eyes, but didn't seem too interested in continuing the argument, if it even really was one, as such. Instead, she moved their cart to the next isle—canned food— only to pause. "Hey isn't that Mick?"

The man at the other end of the aisle, brows furrowed as though something important rested on the difference between the two brands of beans he was holding, was indeed Mick. His sheer size was almost funny in the context; he had to be taller than the aisle proper. His face was whiskery in a way that suggested it'd been longer than usual since he shaved, and of all things his hair was tied back into a knot on the back of his head, a few strands falling free near his ears, but the profile couldn't have belonged to anyone else.

“Indeed, it seems to be my handsome friend," Luna stated, grinning just slightly. He really did look handsome, and she wasn't going to deny that fact. Sure, she'd met plenty of people who were aesthetically pleasing, but there was just something about him that stood out. It was weird considering that most people who were that pretty were usually demons, but Mick didn't even seem to be half of one. It was weird how pretty he was, and how his physique...

Luna, stop thinking about your friend that way. Sounds almost like you want to jump him, she visibly shuddered before clearing her throat. She didn't immediately move to greet him, though. She was unsure how to, for some reason. She could easily say hey, or even hi, but that didn't seem quite right to her. She rolled her eyes at herself before pushing forward.

“Hey, Mick," she'd have to settle for that. “You doing alright?" she asked, arching a brow at him, and fighting down a strange tingling sensation on her cheeks.

Next to her, Sol scoffed quietly, but she offered no comment, because Mick had turned towards them, blinking slowly and smiling a bit.

"Hello, Luna. And Soleil." He gave her sister a polite nod as well, which Sol returned with the slight arch of a brow.

"Didn't realize you shopped the legitimate way," she said. It could probably be interpreted as rude, but Luna knew Sol, as someone who hadn't often shopped the legitimate way either, didn't mean it as anything but an observation.

Mick certainly didn't seem to take offense, just smiling a bit more brightly. "I don't, usually. But I was lucky enough to find some work the other day. So I asked for a list of what some folks needed, and here I am. I uh... don't really know what the difference is between one brand and another, but I'm not sure 'cheapest' is the best decision criteria either."

Luna snorted softly. “It depends, really," she began, shrugging her shoulders lightly. “Here, all you're really paying for is the brand. Most of these taste about the same," she would know. She had eaten at least half of them, but that might just be her own tastebuds. It wasn't as if one brand was superior to the other one. Except for the brands at Wholesome Foods. Those sucked and tasted like cardboard.

“What it comes down to is the sugar and salt content. The more sugar and salt, the better it tastes."

"So I should just get the cheapest one?" Mick frowns slightly, but seems to find this agreeable enough for the moment, setting one of the cans back and withdrawing an entire flat of the other from the shelf, balancing it easily on one outstretched hand before he put it in the cart.

“Yup," Luna replied with a light grin. “Cheaper products usually taste better mostly because they're substituting something with something they really shouldn't. In this case, more sugar and salt. Not a bad thing when you're trying to put on weight or fluff for the winter," she added, inwardly cursing herself for the last statement.

“Uh, anyway," she paused for a moment to glance in Soleil's direction. They didn't celebrate their birthdays often with other people, but... maybe asking Mick would be fine? Sol could ask Sam, too, but some part of Luna thought that maybe Sol didn't want him to know? Maybe she did, Luna couldn't claim to know.

“What else are you looking for?" this was a safe option. She could ask Mick if he wanted to celebrate with them, however; this was a more private thing. Plus, she wasn't sure if Sol would be comfortable with it since Luna hadn't really asked ahead of time. It wasn't that she needed permission for things like that, but this was their birthday. That meant that decisions on things like that should be discussed prior to the event, together.

He hummed, adding another flat of cans to the cart. "Uh, well, the list says nonperishables and water, so I'm taking recommendations if you have any."

"Rice," Soleil said immediately. "It's probably the cheapest grain there is, can go with a lot of stuff and lasts practically forever."

Mick nodded appreciatively. "Rice, water... hm. Some protein would probably be good, though I guess there's plenty of that in beans. Other vitamins? What's a canned vegetable that's not expensive..." He cleared his throat, waving a hand. "Not that you have to keep helping; you two seem to be on a mission of your own. What's the occasion?"

“Hm, we're almost done," Luna smiled. “And if you're looking for canned veggies, best ones to go with are probably green beans and carrots. Canned corn is more expensive than the others," she added, glancing in Soleil's direction for a moment.

“It's not really an occasion. We're just getting cake supplies," she answered his question. It was a little vague, but it wasn't a lie, either. She pursed her lips towards Soleil and arched a brow before leaning towards her sister. They were still a bit far from Mick, so she whispered, “should we tell him?"

Soleil rolled her eyes. "Why are you being so weird about this?" She turned to Mick and shrugged. "It's our birthday. We're shopping for cake supplies. First time we've really been able to get whatever we want, so I'm having red velvet and Luna's doing some weird chocolate thing with coconut."

"Ah." Mick grabbed two large bags of rice and put them in his cart, offering them a small smile. "Happy birthday to you both then. And many happy returns."

Luna had pressed her lips together as she gave Sol a flat look. She wasn't being weird about this; she was trying to be considerate of Sol. She wasn't sure if Soleil would want anyone to know, or if she would feel comfortable about it. Despite her nature to tease her sister, she was trying to keep her sister's quirks in mind.

“Thanks, Mick," she replied, resisting the urge to sigh. “And it's not some weird chocolate thing. German chocolate happens to be my favourite," she added, sticking her tongue out at Sol. It was childish, she knew, but Luna didn't care at the moment. “We only need a couple of more items. Mainly the coconut for the frosting and," she paused, furrowing her brows a bit. “Oh, and pecans."

"Well, maybe you know where all that stuff is, but if you don't, I'm pretty sure I saw nuts ad stuff two aisles down. Came in from the opposite side." Mick points in a direction they have yet to go. "Don't let me hold up your celebration, ladies. And thanks for the help."

“Ah, thanks," Luna stated, nodding her head in thanks. Before she could say anything else, she was distracted by a commotion from the nearby registers. Rogemart wasn't that big of a store, being located near the Pits, but it wasn't exactly small. Luna could see the registers from where she was, and what she saw caused her to purse her lips. It looked like someone called the cops, though Luna couldn't exactly tell why.

It was just one android, though, but from the looks on the cashier's face, and the person standing in front of the android cop, it might have had something to do with theft.

Poor bastard.

Theft might not be an extreme crime, but sometimes 'droids could be worse than human cops. Androids were programmed to uphold the law in the upmost way. Humans could at least give the person a bit of leniency if it was their first offense.

“Anyway, see you around, Mick," she stated, deciding to ignore it. It wasn't her problem, and she didn't need to draw any attention to herself or Soleil. Not today.

Mick, though, had narrowed his eyes at the confrontation, and she could see in her periphery as they walked away. He was adjusting his cart to move in that direction.

"Something bugs me about those robots," Soleil said on a sigh, shaking her head slightly as they moved on. "Can't quite put my finger on it, though."

Luna furrowed her brows in agreement. She was about to reply to Soleil's comment when another, alarmed voice intervened.

“Officer, are you alright?" one of the cashiers asked. Luna, against better judgement, glanced towards them. The android was still, almost as if its programming had been shut off and did not budge. Its gaze was fixed on the person in front of them, but the usual light behind its eyes was gone. It was almost eerie the way it stared, and Luna felt a chill down her spine.

It made a sudden movement, then, bringing its hands up to its face as if to study them. Luna thought she saw it tremble, but that couldn't be right. Androids didn't shiver or shake like humans or non-humans did. They weren't supposed to because it was a sign synonymous with fear, maybe even excitement. Androids didn't feel. They weren't capable of it.

“P-please," it started, its head snapping from side to side, almost as if it were confused. The metal sheen glistened with each movement before it seemed to lock eyes on the person in front of it. The sound that came out of its mouth was ear-shattering, and Luna immediately brought her hands up to cover her ears. A few of the people did the same, however; there was a human scream that followed.

The android had surged forward, grabbing the young man by his forearms. There was a sudden cracking sound, one that signaled something in the man's arm had broken. “Please!" the android seemed frantic as it yelled at the young man. It tried to shake him, but it stilled again.

“Someone get this thing off of me!" the young man used the brief silence to try and get loose from the android, but he couldn't. Luna didn't think she would be of any help, either, but her legs were already moving. Eerie eyes snapped at her, and Luna felt her breath catch in her throat.

“I--I can't. I--I--c-can't. C-c-con," it didn't get the chance to finish before it seemed to release the same piercing sound, and tossed the man as if he were nothing into the nearby register. The screams that followed were haunting as people began running in fear.

"Luna, stop!" Sol's hand was on her shoulder in an instant, her grip firm where her fingers dug into Luna's shoulder. "That's not a human—you can't just outslug something like that." Concern edged the normally flat tone of her voice, and her lips pursed.

"Come on, we're getting out of here. Leave the stuff."

Soleil's voice snapped Luna out of her stupor. Her brows furrowed, though, as she shook her sister's hand off of her shoulder. “I wasn't going to fight it," she stated, lips pursing into a fine line. “But at least I can weather a beating a little more than they can. If someone gets caught by it, they wouldn't stand a chance and you know it." It wasn't like Luna was trying to play hero, either. She just... she didn't want anyone to get hurt.

Luna knew Soleil was only thinking about their well-being, it was always them before anyone else, but...

“Maybe we can distract it so everyone can at least get out safely?" she suggested. There wasn't much time, though, as the android moved towards another person, screaming the same horrific sound as they approached the young woman. It looked like the woman was trying to shield something. Luna didn't think. She moved, running towards the android and the young woman, placing herself between them as the android reached out.

It's hands clenched around her shoulders, and the pressure with which it squeezed was excruciating. Luna felt her mouth open, but no sound came out. She couldn't scream.

"Luna!" Soleil's voice came from behind the android, and then suddenly her sister's arms and legs were around it, as she jumped on its back, trying to force it away from her. But even as strong as Sol was, it didn't move much, and its grip on her shoulder tightened, the thumb digging into her collarbone until, with a sharp spike of pain, her clavicle snapped.

"Let go you piece of shit—" Soleil slammed her fist into its head several times. This seemed to have a bit more of an effect, at least enough that it turned its attention to her, tossing Luna into one of the aisles with an unthinking strength.

Before she hit the floor, though, she hit something else with a whump of fabric, and the person, not in the least knocked back by her weight, steadied her.

"Easy," rumbled a familiar bass. Mick. "You all right?"

“I'm fine," she replied, taking in a sharp gasp of air. The pain in her shoulders and collar bone were saying otherwise, but she couldn't focus on that. “I need..." she paused, taking in another breath, “I need to help Sol." She started towards her sister, intent on keeping the android from hurting her.

Mick clicked his tongue against his teeth. "I'll make you a deal," he said, moving to follow her. "I was trying to get everyone else out. If you do that job for me, I'll help your sister." He smiled, a little strained and a little urgent, still heading towards the front. "I can handle it, I promise. She'll be safe, if you can trust me with that."

This was her sister, though. If neither of them could hold off an android, what made Mick think he could? That wasn't important. Helping her sister and the people still in the store, was. Could Luna trust Mick with the person who meant the most to her? Maybe it was just the pain in her shoulder, or maybe it was the adrenaline in her veins; Luna didn't know, but she nodded her head and swallowed thickly.

“Okay," she stated softly. “Just... be careful, too," she added, pausing for a moment with a serious look on her face. Mick was human which meant he was just as capable of being hurt, if not worse than either Luna or her sister. He was her friend, and she didn't want him to get hurt, either. Taking a deep breath, she turned a different direction to ensure everyone else could get out safely.

Her trajectory took her past several aisles, all abandoned, in many cases half-full shopping carts left in the middle or crashed against shelves. One unit seemed to have fallen over.

“Help! Please!” A weak voice called out—seemingly from beneath the shelves and fallen boxes that has spilled from them. “Someone, please!”

“Hey, hey, I'm here," Luna stated as she approached the person. The shelves didn't look too heavy, but Luna's collar bone was still broken. Her arms were still throbbing from where the android grabbed her, as well. It meant that lifting the shelf off of the person was going to be difficult rather than easy. She moved some of the boxes out of the way, wincing when a slight pain shot through her arm. She did her best to ignore it, but she wasn't exactly tolerant to pain. She might have healed slightly faster than most people did, but even a broken collar bone needed some time to mend itself back together. Luna was almost certain she'd broken a bone in her arm, as well.

“I'm going to lift the shelf and once I do, I'm going to need you to crawl out, alright?" she stated once she'd cleared some room. She took in a deep breath and placed her hands underneath the shelf. “Ready?" she asked, lifting the shelf slightly.

There was a struggle; several more boxes emerged from beneath the unit, as if pushed. A grunt of pain and effort followed, and slowly, a person emerged. A close-cropped head of brown hair with a mohawk, a shabby brown jacket. The young man couldn't be more than a teenager, and his face distorted in pain.

“Leg,” he gasped. “Hard to… move. S-sorry.”

Luna cursed beneath her breath and shifted the shelf slightly. “Is it broken?" she asked. If his leg was broken, she would have to be careful. She couldn't risk making it worse.

“I dunno,” he said, tone hard with pain and frustration. He continued to pull himself out with his hands as well as he could. “Can't exactly see it. It just hurts.”

“Alright," she stated, taking in a deep breath. This was going to hurt her like a bitch, but she needed to get him out from underneath. “Not going to lie, this is going to hurt a bit," she stated, preparing him as best as she could. She lifted the shelf as high as she could with one hand, shifting her other one so that she could grab him, and pulled.

“Ah, fuck, that hurts," she grit between her teeth, dropping the shelf once the young man was free. She turned to him to examine his leg, sighing softly as she noted the torn jeans. Luckily, there wasn't a bone protruding, but that didn't mean his leg wasn't broken.

“Can you stand?" she asked, offering her hand to him. She could at least help him out if he couldn't.

He yelled as she wrenched him out from beneath the shelves, biting down on it once he was clear and no longer moving. Breathing heavily through clenched teeth, he took several moments before answering her question, long enough for the sound of shattering glass to reach their ears, followed by an emphatic, but not loud, ”holy shit.” It was unmistakably Soleil.

The kid nodded slightly, gripping her by the arm and leveraging himself to his feet, or rather one of them. The other, he held gingerly off the ground, still breathing forcefully slowly. “Thanks.”

“No worries," she replied, sighing as softly as she could. “Let's get you out of here, first," she continued, moving so that she could securely hold him and help him leverage his leg better. She didn't like the way the sound of glass shattered near Soleil, but she had to trust that Mick would keep his word to keep her safe.

It was a slow trudge, but eventually, they made it to where Soleil and Mick were. “What... happened?" Luna asked, staring slightly wide-eyed at a shattered window. The android wasn't in sight.

Soleil seemed uninjured save for a heavy scrape across one side of her face. The was also holding one arm slightly away from her body, but though it was hard to tell for sure under the sleeve, it didn't seem to be broken. She had been regarding Mick with furrowed brows, but flicked her eyes to Luna when she approached.

”Looks like the cop shut down or something.” She threw another glance at Mick and shook her head.

For his part, Mick smiled mildly. ”The idea was to go through the loading exit out back,” he noted with a small huff, ”but I suppose this way's just as good, now. You'll want to get clear soon, I'm guessing; it probably won't be long before TPD shows up to collect their officer.”

“Good call," Luna stated, glancing towards Mick. They should get out of here while they could so that she and Soleil could take care of their wounds, and so the young man could get his foot looked at.

Today sucked.


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


3 Luciferus
Nishants' House - Noon - Clear
Soleil Nishant

New year, same shit.

It was a refrain that Soleil had been able to count on for most of her life. The thing was… she couldn't say how true it really was this time. There was… actually kind of a lot different this time, and she was still trying to decide what she thought all of it meant.

Pulling the ancient pot off the stove, she stirred around the soup a bit, serving her sister a bowl and setting it at her usual spot, then repeating the process for herself. She needed to talk to Luna about something, but she wasn't exactly sure how to approach the topic. She hated when that happened.

Easing into her chair, Soleil lifted her soup bowl, drinking down some of the broth to start with. It was the absolute dead of winter right now, and their ancient HVAC just didn't stand a chance against the chill. She'd take any warmth she could get.

Luna merely stared at her bowl, occasionally pushing some of the ingredients inside with her spoon. She seemed to rub at her collar bone where it had broken a few days ago. It was healed, now, but she still rubbed at it on occasion. Taking a deep breath, she glanced up at Sol.

“So, I'd say last year has been... fun." She didn't elaborate on what she meant, but she'd said it in a bit of a sarcastic tone.

Soleil dipped her spoon in her soup. Her own injuries had amounted to a dislocation where the droid had grabbed her and thrown her over its shoulder, and some cuts and bruises. She'd popped the arm back into its socket on the spot, and the rest had healed over within a day. She didn't want to think about the condition she'd have been in if not for the help.

Honestly… she was kind of annoyed still that Luna got involved at all. What if one of them had been so injured they couldn't work? Money was… not as much of an issue now as it used to be, but she didn't want to count on their circumstances remaining the same. This was once in a lifetime luck, or better, and luck was exactly what it was, too.

"Yeah I guess." Honestly she couldn't say it'd been all bad. The Alastor stuff was shit, obviously, but—she didn't view it with the same scorn as her sister's sarcasm implied. Weird feeling, to be the one who felt better about something, overall.

"Mick's not human." She didn't know how to approach the topic, so she just said it, straight out. "I know he's not."

Luna just stared at Solelil for a moment. It wasn't incredulous or anything like that, but simply as if she was regarding Soleil. “It's because of what happened with the droid, right?" she stated, almost as if she already knew.

“I mean, I had something of an inkling that he wasn't human, but..." she pursed her lips and shook her head. “It just seemed like he was. He didn't seem like a cambion, either, and we would have known if he was a demon. It's... kind of hard not to know, after all," she smiled wrly.

“He's not a bad person, though, Sol," she seemed almost defensive, now. “If he was, he wouldn't have helped us out the way he has."

"I don't think he's like us either though." Soleil frowns slightly. "I'm not saying he's a bad person. I'm saying I don't know what he is. It feels… different. Sometimes a little more like Sam than anyone, but I don't think he's a fallen angel either."

Her tone darkens slightly. "He broke the android, Luna. Not on purpose I don't think; it was trying to kill him, after all. But he just broke its back over his knee and threw it out the front window, like it was nothing. Whatever he is… he's stronger than you or me. By a lot."

“What the fuck?" Luna seemed surprised by the statement. “Like... just broke it?" It was more of a statement than a question, and Luna's eyes remained wide. She mouthed a wow before sliding back into her seat.

“It'd be nice if we were that strong," she muttered. “Wouldn't have to put up with Zinoviev or his shit."

Soleil hadn't exactly been thinking about it in those terms, but now that her sister mentioned it. "And twenty bucks says he's not tied up in demon politics." She tapped her spoon gently against the side of her bowl. It was only common sense. The guy was genuine-article homeless. Demons barely paid attention to the existence of such people, and she figured Mick had to be pretty good at staying under the radar before, or else that kind of strength would have been noticed.

Why had he chosen to give himself away now, then? He could have just left, and been completely fine. But he'd helped her instead, then shut the droid down in the most efficient series of moves Soleil had ever seen. He wasn't just strong, he was trained to use that strength. Maybe some kind of government project? She wouldn't be surprised if the demons had experimented with people.

"You think he'd stick his neck out far enough to help with the Zinoviev problem?"

Luna had been in the middle of taking a bite when Soleil asked the question. She swallowed a little too quickly and tapped her chest a couple of times before glancing in Soleil's direction. “Honest answer?" she asked, furrowing her brows lightly.

“I don't know. I could ask him the next time I see him, but... I don't think he'd say no, exactly," her lips were pursed slightly as a light tinge of pink ran across the bridge of her nose. “He did say he was useful in a pinch, and that I could ask him for help if I needed it." She sighed softly and pushed the food around in her bowl.

Soleil hummed. "Sounds like he would, then. I'm not suggesting you make him do it for free. We could easily pay the guy, even if it was just with what fucking Alastor would bleed out of us this month, you know?"

Help if she needed it, huh? Soleil narrowed her eyes slightly. An interesting offer, and more interesting still was the look on Luna's face when she mentioned it.

“So... like pay him as a bodyguard?" Luna stated, arching her brow slightly. “I mean, he probably would do it for free," she murmured before shoving the spoon into her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully before she glanced back at Soleil.

“I guess I can go find him after this," she pointed to her bowl. “He's usually around the park by now," she added, taking another bite of her food. “Unless there's something else that needs to be done today?"

Soleil shook her head. "No, I'm mostly just working on that Carino that came in yesterday. Might head up to Sam's around three, but all the chores are in order. Go see him, if you want to."

“Alright," she stated, pursing her lips slightly before pointing the spoon in Soleil's direction. “Just make sure you take some pajamas just in case you stay the night."

"Oh my god Luna shut up." Sol grumbled it. As if she'd ever do something like—like stay over at his house. Even if she did, she'd just sleep in the workshop or whatever. It wasn't like that.

The back of her neck was burning.

“I'm being serious," Luna stated, furrowing her brows. “If you stay the night, you need pajamas. I'm sure Sam would be more than happy to provide you with some, but we both know how comfy your pajamas are. I stole your pants last week." She stated it matter-of-fact.

"Yeah, yeah, okay mom," she grumped in reply, rolling her eyes and taking another bite of soup. "I can take care of myself, thanks. You just worry about finding your super tall lumberjack not-a-demon."

“He's not that hard to find, and you're not wrong. He is super tall," she grinned at Soleil. “He'd be pretty useful for reaching the stuff on the tall shelves that neither you nor myself can reach. Can't say the same about Sam, though."

Soleil shrugged. "I just climb on his counters, it's fine." She frowned a little across at her sister. The comparison was a little odd, but then she supposed as far as 'weird but surprisingly nice people' in their lives those were the two that stuck out. So maybe it was only natural.

“And I'm sure he'd like that," she stated, her grin growing wider, “you climbing on him."

"That is not what I said, Luna." She grimaced, narrowing her eyes. "What is it with you and not letting this go? It's not—it's not like that."

“Because he makes you happy," she replied almost immediately, a sort of seriousness on her face. “When was the last time you were ever really happy, Sol? Like... actually happy to have someone you could count on? We're family so all we have is each other, but..." she paused, almost as if she were uncertain of her next words.

“Maybe it wouldn't hurt to just see if it could be like that? I'm just saying that... maybe for once, things really are looking up for us." She sounded almost hopeful.

And now they were back to the usual way of things, with Luna being the optimist and Soleil the realist. "Nothing lasts," she murmured, shaking her head and taking a bite of her soup. "I can't risk that much when nothing lasts." Her sister, she could count on. They were family. They'd grown up together, always been there. She could believe that bond was unseverable.

But everything else, no matter how good it had ever seemed, went away. The hungry kids exhausted goodwill, the apprentice became too much more skilled, the interest in the strange girl with the sharp tongue dwindled into annoyance. Sam, too, would reach a point where she was no longer novel or interesting. It was just the way of the world.

She didn't hold it against him, but she knew it to be true nonetheless. And Soleil? Her stupid heart couldn't accept the reality her head knew for fact. It needed something that would last, and she couldn't open it up to hope for that. That was the surest route to destruction.

Luna sighed heavily and shook her head. “So what?" she stated, narrowing her eyes slightly. “So what if nothing lasts? Why can't we just enjoy it while it does? I know it's how we've lived for so long, but..." she paused and shook her head.

“I'm tired of living like that, Sol. I know you are, too. This life... maybe we should just try and enjoy it for once? At least if we do, we already know it won't last and can just... soften the blow when it does end."

"If you can do that, then you should," Soleil said quietly, and she meant it. "But I'm not… I'm not built that way, Luna. Sometimes I already feel like I… depend on it too much. This assumption of 'it'll still be there for me tomorrow.' And on the day it isn't, I—" She shook her head, and fell silent.

Luna smiled ruefully. “How can I if my sister can't?" she stated, reaching over to grab Soleil's hand. “We promised to always be there for each other. Your life is my life, and my life is yours, remember? We'll always have each other until the end, but..." she sighed heavily and shook her head.

“I'll let you know what Mick says," seemingly dropping the topic.

Soleil accepted it. She didn't really want to talk about this, to be honest, so the dropping of the topic was a relief.