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White Asphodel

Tartarus

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a part of White Asphodel, by Aethyia.

Last major bastion of civilization on the material plane

Aethyia holds sovereignty over Tartarus, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

1,268 readers have been here.

Setting

Last major bastion of civilization on the material plane
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Tartarus

Last major bastion of civilization on the material plane

Minimap

Tartarus is a part of White Asphodel.

5 Characters Here

Soleil Nishant [20] "...look, if it's not about engine parts or the plumbing, I've got nothing."
Lunaria Nishant [20] "There's more to life than this... there has to be."
The Nine Circles [12] [ Codex of Information ]
Samael Lennox [12] "Everyone has a price... everyone."
Michael Asmund [7] "Don't suppose you could spare some change?"

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samael Lennox Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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9 Victorianus
Bael's Office - Late Afternoon - Heavy Snow
Samael Lennox


It wasn't often that Bael summoned Sam.

It wasn't often that Sam had to see Bael.

Sam tried his best to avoid Bael as if he were the second plague, mostly because he really didn't feel like being yelled at for something. Because that's what Bael mostly did. He'd disapprove of something Sam did, yell at him, threaten him, and then Sam would go back home and pretend like nothing ever happened. He wasn't sure what he did, this time at least, to be summoned, but he supposed it might just be the montly visit. Or it would have been if they were in Sam's house and not Bael's office.

“Yes, your evilness?" he stated as he arched a brow in Bael's direction.

Bael, historically devoid of a sense of humor and no different now, scowled at him. “Don't be cute, Samael," he replied, running a tanned hand back through his medium-length white curls. Red eyes narrowed at the Fallen across from him. “What the Hell were you thinking, getting involved in Crowley's business? I have neither the time nor the patience to be hearing about petty disputes between my people."

Ah.

So that's what this was about.

“For starters, it wasn't Crowley's business I was getting involved in," he started, giving Bael a flat look. “It was his idiot son, Alastor. I was simply trying to bargain with Crowley to see if he could see reason. Alastor isn't your people, but he is Crowley's," he expelled a harsh sigh. Why Crowley even bothered to tell Bael about that was beyond Sam.

“As for what I was thinking, I was thinking about my potential employee not being harassed and quiting on me. It's hard to find a decent mechanic, and this one in particular is damn good. Talent is very hard to come by, nowadays." He intentionally didn't give Bael any names. Sam didn't need the demon interogating her, or scaring her off.

“So it was over a human. Of all the idiocy..." Bael's hands formed into fists on the desktop, probably more to do with the fact that Samael was talking back to him than anything. “You couldn't have picked some human from the refuse piles of them not currently someone else's business?" He rolled his eyes. “You should know better than getting attached to any of the pathetic creatures anyway—they're as fickle as anything, and you of all people would know how it feels to be on the wrong end of a fickle woman, wouldn't you?"

Sam felt a little spike of anger in his chest, but he gave Bael a flat look, reaching up with his pinky to scratch the inside of his ear. Sam's history wasn't exactly a secret to Bael, nor anyone else, really. He'd been a fool in love with someone who'd damn near killed him. Both figuratively and literally.

“At least she wasn't human," Sam retorted. Fickle or not, woman or not, Sariel had been an angel. Soleil was just human. “And at least humans are more predictable," he continued, his eyes narrowing slightly in Bael's direction. “It's not like I knew she was Alastor's business," he really hated the way that was phrased, but it was likely the only way to get through to Bael.

“My previous mechanic disappeared; I needed a new one and someone recommended her. Now she's my business, and the little shit knows it," Sam felt his body tense.

It's fine, he only knows a gender, and not a name.

He hadn't meant to slip up like that.

Bael's eyes flashed, a faint brimstone scent flavoring the air. “That little shit is at least half a demon," he said sharply. “Do I need to remind you again where you stand in the hierarchy? Because you are not above him." His eyes narrowed to slits. “You live on my largesse, and you do so because you were, at one point, useful to me, something you have not been for a while. If you are going to be completely pointless, the least you could do is not cause me problems. If Crowley were any less even-keeled, this could have been a full-on legal battle about who has rights to your human. I do not have time for that right now."

Sam would admit that Bael's words did sting a little. “I suppose you've a point, however," Sam started, not bothering to hide the expression on his face. Because I still live on your largesse, any human in my employ is, technically, mine. If you've a problem with that, then I suggest you amend the clauses in which state that a human employed by a demon or other of a higher status is considered theirs until employment is revoked or other. Even if they are someone else's business. In this case, I am a higher status than Alastor. Maybe not Crowley," he didn't really care, “but that little shit is still beneath me."

“That makes her mine, and I can do whatever I see fit with that." In this case it meant keeping Alastor off of her ass, at least. Might not be the younger one, but... well, he was trying.

The twisted expression on Bael's face somehow conveyed triumph, of all things, a glint in his eye that said Sam had stepped into some kind of trap.

“You're putting up an awful lot of fight, for you," he observed, leaning back in his chair. The anger was still there, seething under the surface, but the surface itself was looking quite smug. “Don't tell me she actually means something to you."

Sam sighed in a dramatic manner. Really? That's what Bael got from all of that? That she means something to him?

“Do you just not hear anything that I say?" he asked, not bothering to dignify that question with an answer. Mostly because Sam was almost certain it was true. It'd been a long time since he could say that he found someone's company... enjoyable. She talked to him, and fixed his cars and sometimes explained the process to him. It was the company that meant something to him.

“I'm putting up an awful lot of fight because talent like hers is rare. She fixed a fucking 2442 Yrden with a part that she built from the ground up, and was able to identify the problem by simply taking a look at it. I value skill. Told the same fucking thing to Crowley." Demons valued nothing in a person other than their fighting skills and skills in general. It wasn't an apt thing to compare Soleil's skill to, but it was the only thing demons understood.

“Watch your tongue," Bael snarled, but it didn't quite crack the mood he was in, whatever weird thing it was. Instead he heaved a sigh and gestured at his office door. “Fine, whatever. But leave Crowley's spawn's business alone from now on. You obviously know where and who it is now, so I'd better not hear about any of this again. Get out."

Too fucking bad, because Sam was almost certain Bael would be hearing about it again. Sam smirked a little, though, and gave Bael a mock salute.

“Sure thing, your evilness," he replied as he left Bael's office. The demon hadn't responded to making an amendment about employment. Perhaps he could temporarily use that to his benefit? Something would be coming up this month; it was the last month of the year, after all. Didn't they have those charity things or some shit like that? The smirk on Sam's face widened slightly into a plotting smile.

“This is on you, Bael."

Setting

Characters Present

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


16 Victorianus
Shelter #309 - Evening - Cold
Soleil Nishant


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

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

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

Luna was going to owe her for this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could he tell?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How well did her sister know this guy, exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A bowl would be... nice."

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ugh, seriously guys, get a room."

Setting

Characters Present

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


20 Victorianus
Shelter #309 - Afternoon - Snow
Michael Asmund


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should he need tools? Yeah, definitely.

Did he?

Not even slightly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samael.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well shit."

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

And then there was Samael.

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

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

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

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

Part of that was even true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure, whatever you say."

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

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

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

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

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

“Great."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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?"

"Erm—"

“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 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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samael Lennox Character Portrait: The Nine Circles
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1 Satanus
Manor - Afternoon - Snow
Samael Lennox


Sometimes Sam wondered if he was finally going crazy.

His home felt strangely empty, which was strange in itself because it was always empty. The only people who visited were Lilith, Leraje, and Soleil when she was working on one of the cars. Today was not one of those days, but he thought that it might have to do with the fact that Soleil and her sister had stayed the night a few days ago.

Even though it was for the purpose of getting them ready for the event, they had stayed.

The night.

At his house.

Now that the event was over, Sam found himself wondering if maybe he should just ask if they wanted to live with him. It would make them both his wards, in a way, and it would mean that they were no longer in Alastor's territory. Which meant that he wouldn't be able to extort them or try and make them sell their souls to him. Or worse, make them his toys. Sam visibly shuddered at the thought before shaking his head.

Even if he did ask, he almost knew Soleil's answer. After all, why should she trust him to not try anything? He wouldn't, of course, unless she wanted him to, but he wasn't that kind of person. He'd just... well, he was beginning to think that he'd made a genuine friend.

“Sam! We're home!" a familiar voice called out, causing Samael to frown slightly.

“No need to yell, Lily," he replied, glancing in the direction of Lilith and Leraje, the former smiling broadly.

Leraje, on the other hand, wore the same emotionless expression he always did, even as he politely removed his coat and shoes in the entryway. There was a small paper bag tucked under one arm, which was probably the obvious, but he'd get to it when he got to it. Pretty much nothing ever bothered that guy, and it meant nothing could make him rush.

"Samael," he greeted mildly, at a much more indoors-appropriate volume than his companion.

It was one of the few things that Sam respected about Leraje, actually. Even if the guy moved at his own pace, did things on his own accord, he was still mindful of where he was. Lilith, on the other hand, walked across the floor, shoes still on and coat still clinging to her. She didn't seem to care much about dragging the snow that was already melting, across the floor.

“To what do I owe the honors of this visit? It's not my monthly's, yet, is it?" Sam asked, clearly joking, however; Lilith rolled her eyes.

“Why can't we just visit? Are you hiding someone in your closet?" Lilith asked, arching a brow at Sam.

“I'm not twelve, Lil."

“Sometimes I wonder about that."

Leraje looked once between them, then pushed his glasses up his nose. "Can we continue this in the kitchen? I'm hungry."

Without waiting for an answer, he headed that way, setting the bag down on the island and making himself a bowl of yogurt and granola. "You have a different brand this time," he noted, reading the ingredients list on the back of Soleil's bag of granola. She'd brought her own at first, insistent that the kind he had bought 'tasted like cardboard.'

"It's better, but cheaper. Unexpected for you." With this observation made, he shook some out into his bowl, stirring it around in the vanilla yogurt and taking a seat at the island.

Sam felt rather pleased with that for some reason. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he nodded anyway. Lilith made a bowl of cereal for herself, though, and took a seat on the opposite side of Leraje. If he hadn't known any better, he'd have thought those two made a strange pair. He'd seen stranger demons coupled together, but... well, these two were just strange in a way he couldn't describe.

“Thought I would try something new," he finally replied as he made his way towards the only open spot near the island. He wasn't hungry like the two of them were, and crossed his arms over his chest.

“So... besides the obvious, why are you here?" he decided to ask again. It wasn't that he wanted them to leave. Quite the opposite, but they did come a little unannounced. Not that they ever announced themselves to begin with when they visited him.

Leraje shrugged. "The bag has a new formula in it. No name yet. Careful with it—it's got a pretty sharp kick. Take too much and even you'll overdose." He lifted his shoulders. "I'm working on developing a waking dream that the dreamer has some control over. Like a version of virtual reality, but infinitely variable based on individual desires. This is the first step in that process."

“I'm not going to start sleep walking, am I?" Sam replied as he arched a brow.

“Oh, you should probably call it something like that. Sleepwalker or maybe dreamcatcher," Lilith interjected before taking a bite from her bowl of cereal.

“You're usually a little more creative in your names."

“Hm, yes, well I've been busy with lock boxes and other things."

"And collecting seedy tabloid publications, today," Leraje remarked, crunching through another bite of granola with utter nonchalance. "She has something to ask you about that. Not sure why she's beating around the bush."

She pointed to her bowl of cereal as if it were answer enough. Samael rolled his eyes, but was confused about the seedy tabloid publications that Leraje was refering to. “Who is she?" Lilith asked, taking another bite of her cereal before reaching into her coat pocket. She produced a photo, tossing it on the table as she took another bite. Sam glanced at it and nearly snorted.

It was obviously Soleil in that picture, but it looked like Lilith didn't recognize her. “She was my date for the event. Why, Lil, jealous that I didn't ask you to be my date?" he stated as she gave him a flat look.

“In your dreams. You're not my type," she replied easily enough.

“Hm, yes, you like the quiet loner types," Sam drawled before rolling his eyes again.

“Who is she, though? I've never seen her before, and I've been just about every where." She seemed a little adamant, now, about knowing who it was.

“I told you, she was my hired date for the night. Lost the contact information, though, so I can't give it to you. Would if I had it."

"Apparently she cleaned out Crowley, Caim, and Malphus at Gehennan hold 'em," Leraje said, tilting his head down at the photo. "You have good taste at least." It was unclear whether this statement followed on the previous one or was made simply because of Soleil's appearance, but to Samael's knowledge, Leraje had never really been swayed by anyone's looks.

"Bael was very displeased, but Crowley seemed rather more circumspect about the matter. According to him, your date didn't quite seem as human as she appeared."

“Wouldn't know anything about that," Sam replied honestly. As far as he knew, Soleil was human. She didn't seem like a demon to him, and he didn't exactly get cambion vibes from her, either. Granted, there was something about the Nishant sisters that he couldn't put his finger on, but it wasn't like it bothered him. If they weren't human, then they weren't human.

But what were they, if not human? Bael, however, could kiss his ass. The demon deserved that display of disrespect, as he would no doubt call it. If he hadn't been such an ass about the whole thing, he might have kept it to a minimum.

“Crowley is more reasonable than Bael to begin with. If he thinks she wasn't quite human, that's on him. Don't really care either way," he added with a light shrug of his shoulders.

“You shouldn't be like that, Sam. Bael's only trying to look out for you, you know," Lilith replied before finishing off the rest of her cereal.

“Like Hell he is," Sam muttered beneath his breath. Bael was likely to have Sam's head on a silver platter, first, rather than look out for him.

Leraje's only response to any of that was a slight upwards quirk of his brow. "Whatever you say." It was sort of ambiguous which one of them he was speaking to, and he didn't clarify. He scooped a bit of yogurt from the bottom of the bowl. "How were the last doses of A—" he darted a brief look at Lilith and sighed quietly. "Oblivion?"

Lilith smiled brightly at the name as Sam rolled his eyes.

“Didn't you receive my update?" he asked, quirking a brow at him. It was obvious enough that he hadn't, and Sam sighed softly. “It's not strong enough," he simply stated. “Still had a bit of memory, and the baseline mood was completely off. I went from really erratic to almost... what did the humans call it, zombie? Brainless, essentially, but not completely. It did, however, convince me I was a fly for a moment. Tried hanging on the side of the wall."

Lilith snorted. “Maybe you just had too many different types of drugs in your system."

"I meant the doses I sent after the last update," Leraje replied mildly. "Did you not get around to trying them yet? That's unusual." He didn't seem to care, as such, but knowing him he was inferring plenty from the fact that Samael's drug habits had changed even a little. He could be wickedly sharp when he wanted to, Leraje. Fortunately, his lack of concern prevented him from doing much with his observations, on the off-chance he even bothered to share them.

“Ah, those," Sam stated as he glanced back towards Leraje. “Haven't had the time to do those, yet," he continued, shrugging his shoulders lightly. Lilith raised an inquisitive brow in his direction.

“Since when has Sam ever not had the time to do drugs?" she asked, causing Samael to frown slightly.

“Since Sam's been too busy," he retorted, aware that he was referring to himself in third person. She huffed slightly, and Sam knew she didn't buy it for a second, however; it wasn't her concern. She wasn't his mother; he didn't have to tell her shit if he didn't want to.

“Well, make sure you take them, eventually. The data on those will help with the pricing and also whether or not they're worth putting on the market."

“Why do you care?" Sam shot back, raising a curious brow. She blinked at him, glanced at Leraje, and shrugged her shoulders.

“I don't. It just makes things easier."

“Whatever you say, Lil."

Setting

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


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

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

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

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

And she could feel her cheeks burning slightly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you..." she pursed her lips together, frowning a little at herself. “Do you want to go shopping with me for the shelter?" she asked once the words formed properly in her mind. She might have had more experience than Sol when it came to talking to people, but that didn't mean she wasn't just as awkward about it, sometimes.

As the mother cat took a chunk of meat from his fingers and started to chew on it, Mick turned towards Luna and blinked. The request had evidently not been what he was expecting, if he'd been expecting anything in particular. "I don't mind," he said after a moment, laying the rest of the jerky pieces down in front of the cat and crinkling the wrapper up in one hand. "Where are you going to do this, exactly?"

He didn't ask the more obvious question—where did you get the money?—perhaps because he deemed it too rude or something of the kind. He could be a very blunt person, even rough in his mannerisms sometimes, but he did seem to have a sense of manners.

Either way, Luna was used to those kinds of mannerisms. Sol could be like that sometimes, even if there were miniscule differences, but Luna figured that's just how some people were. She furrowed her brows a little deeper, though, when Mick's question caught up with her.

“I don't know," she replied, sighing softly. “I want to get things that the people will need and can use, but at the same time..." she trailed off, chewing her bottom lip for a second. If she went overboard, that could attract unwanted attention. Demons and cambions of all sorts might show up at the shelter and cause unnecessary trouble for the people there. Luna didn't want that.

But she also didn't want them to be without. “That's why I need your help," she admitted, glancing up to meet his gaze. Even when they were sitting down, she was still much shorter than him. “I don't want to get things that will draw attention to the shelter, but I also don't want anyone to go without something they need. Food, clothes, those are all priorities, but if a demon or cambion sees someone who isn't usually dressed nice... they might get the wrong idea."

She really didn't know how else to explain it.

Mick blinked. "You've really thought about this," he said, sounding pleased, of all things. Expelling a heavy breath, he unfolded his legs and stood, oddly smoothly for a man of such bulk. "I think your best bets are disposables, like food, but stuff that'll last a while, so you can store it. And also secondhand things. For clothes and all that. Cheaper to get a lot of, for one. Also perfectly functional but not likely to seem out of place." He ticked the points off on his fingers, then belatedly offered a hand down to help her to her feet.

"I know a couple places for that, if you've got the time today."

“Of course I thought about it," Luna said, not bothering to hide the smile on her face as she took his hand. It was rough and calloused, but Luna supposed it must have been from the years he spent on the streets and the odd jobs he picked up. Once she was standing, she realized a little belatedly that she hadn't released Mick's hand yet, and pulled hers gently, setting it to her side.

“I, uh, I'm off today so I have all the time," she stated, coughing lightly before rolling her eyes. Mostly at herself because she sounded like she couldn't form a proper sentence with what she just said. “I have time is what I meant to say," she grumbled.

“Why don't we start with the closest place?" she suggested.

Nodding, Mick started out of the park, pausing long enough for Luna to catch up and walk next to him instead of behind. "It's not far. Maybe a mile or two. There used to be a bus that ran this way, but..." He shrugged. The end of the sentence was obvious enough. Some demon had decided it wasn't worth the expense to have a line of transport for the area.

"You... how did you find the other night, then? You'd mentioned a job. Seems it went all right at least?" He narrowed his eyes, as if searching her for any sign it hadn't been.

Luna snorted softly. “It actually wasn't half as bad as I thought it was going to be," she admitted, rolling her eyes at one particular memory. “One demon tried to get a little fresh but..." she shrugged her shoulders. It was kind of funny when Sol intervened during that. All she did was look at the demon and they backed off. Sol could be really intimidating when she wanted to be, but Luna had a feeling it might have had something to do with a particular Fallen who had been there as well.

“It went well enough that I was actually able to get," she paused as she glanced up towards the sky, trying to remember the exact amount she'd received in tips, “at least four credits in tips. I think it was a little more than that, but I'm not really keeping count because it's not entirely mine."

That wasn't true, exactly. Sure, it was her money, but Luna didn't want to keep it all for herself. The shelter and its people meant a lot to her and she wanted to do something for them. She wasn't entirely sure why it was especially so for him. It wasn't like they'd known each other for very long, but... well, maybe they were on the cusp of actually being friends? That'd be nice.

“What about you? How are you doing? I see you're missing your trademark coat," she noted.

Mick whistled, low and soft, at the number, but made no further comment about it.

"Good to hear it went all right, then," he noted mildly, hanging a left. "As for me, yeah I guess. I traded the coat away a while back, and the cats need the scarf. I'm all right though; the cold doesn't bother me much. The coat was mostly just for the pockets, and I can do okay without it."

He didn't seem much smaller without it, either, even ambling casually down the street with a slightly-hunched posture and his hands in his pockets.

In time, they arrived at what seemed to be a large consignment store, once-cheerful blue exterior paint faded and chipped. Someone clearly took the time to wash the building, though, and when Mick opened the door for her to enter, she was met with long rows of... well, a lot of things. Clothes, dishware, toiletry items and other disposables, and so on. It had a faintly-stale smell, and one of the overhead lights was flickering with a soft buzzing noise.

Her immediate thought was that Soleil could probably fix that, however; she wasn't here for that. She was here to find things that could be used at the shelter. Mostly things that wouldn't draw too much attention, though. She furrowed her brows and chewed the bottom of her lip for a moment. If she grabbed too much at once, that would definitely be suspicious.

She might be able to afford those things, now, but it would have defeated the purpose of remaining incognito. “Well, since we're in the beginnings of Satanus," she began, glancing towards the area where the clothes were located, “maybe we should start with that? I'd rather the people be warm enough to survive the winter, first."

It was one thing to die of hunger, but they would likely die from the cold, first, if they weren't properly clothed. Food would be the next thing to get, but she wanted to choose blankets and coats, first.

“We should probably get a variety of sizes, too. Nothing to big, although..." she trailed off, glancing in Mick's direction and snorting softly. He was really tall, and she doubted there would be anything here that would fit him. Sure, he had a coat before that looked like it fit okay, but he'd said he traded it.

“I guess we'll have to find something for you, last."

He offered her a small smile at that. "Don't worry about me today," he said simply. "I can usually get what I need. Someone always needs help lifting something, or with construction or whatever. It's better to worry about the folks who are already sick or disabled or have a hard time finding temporary work."

He did nod, though, after a moment. "Stuff for warmth sounds like a good idea. I recommend things that can be layered. Lots of us end up sharing, and clothes are useful currency, too. Having a bunch of layers gives us the freedom to prioritize, and means that giving up one or two of them isn't as bad. Blankets are good for the same reason." He started back towards that section, slowing his pace enough to keep next to her.

They drew a few eyes, mostly because of him, probably, though in a way Luna might be more unusual to see in a place like this. Mick did sort of fit the surroundings, in the sense that this was very clearly a part of town in which he was comfortable.

Luna supposed she could understand that. She might have lived in the poorer parts of the Pits, but she wasn't exactly dressed like someone who was. Sure, her own clothes might not be as worn down and beat up, but she was used to the eyes, regardless. It didn't bother her as much as she knew it bothered Soleil. She was just better accustomed to it, she supposed. She shoved the thoughts away and glanced at one of the racks that held a few jackets.

“Even so, I would at least like to get you something for today. You might have said you had time today to help me with this, but you could have spent that time doing something else. Let me treat you to lunch or dessert or something," she stated, pursing her lips slightly as she pulled a jacket from the rack. He really didn't have to help her, but the more time she spent with him, the more she learned how much he actually cared. It wasn't quite the same as the way Luna might have cared about Soleil, or anything like that. It was more pure than that. She couldn't describe it any other way even if she wanted to.

He didn't owe anything to anyone, but he worked very hard to help the people in any way he could. She admired that about him, really.

"Mm. I'll think about it."