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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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900557 No. 900557 ID: 11b5c9

Expand all images
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No. 900558 ID: 11b5c9
File 153618561471.gif - (126.72KB , 700x600 , lad1.gif )
900558

You wake up.



You must have passed out watching TV again.
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No. 900559 ID: 11b5c9
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900559

It takes you a few moments to figure out where you are and what’s going on. Blue light from the screen a few feet away burns your eye. You’ve just got the one left, but if years of chronic inability to turn a overhead light on haven’t taken it out yet, you don’t know what will.

You try for a second to try and figure out what’s happening on TV. It’s a show you’re familiar with, but all you can make out is someone trying to mix up a vinaigrette with only thirty seconds left on the on-screen clock. This narrows it down to just about every episode of the show.

Even if you wanted to focus more than one brain cell on figuring out what you’re watching, you wouldn’t be able to. Your upstairs neighbors appear to be up to their usual shenanigans. You met them once-- two guys, kind of an unlikely couple. They complimented your dog, so you wish them only the best in life. Still, you wonder if you should invest in a broom to hit the ceiling with when they get going at…

What time was it, anyway?
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No. 900560 ID: 11b5c9
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900560

You haul your ass up from the indent it’s made in the couch and stand wobbly in the middle of the room. As your phone makes its own valiant effort to render you completely blind, you consider investing in a working lamp.

The screen reads 10:20 PM. You have no messages. ...You scroll through the message app anyway, just in case.

Unfortunately, still nothing.

...

You realize you’re thirsty.
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No. 900561 ID: 11b5c9
File 153618569831.png - (234.77KB , 700x600 , lad4.png )
900561

...You have nothing to drink.

You probably shouldn’t have put any faith in your own ability to realize when the fridge was empty. The blast of cold air that accompanies your fruitless staring is nice, at least.

It’s probably not too late to get to the store. You can’t remember if there’s anything else you should do first, though.
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No. 900562 ID: c1eaac

make a grocery list before you head out?
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No. 900563 ID: d887c0

Check your food/drink budget, then make sure you have a way to get to the store. You may want to wait until the morning to go out as the streets can be dangerous after dark.
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No. 900564 ID: f0088f

that's very nutritious pickle juice in there. nevertheless, you might want a drink, and a popsickle. first, though, is there anyone you want to shoot a text to? someone you know who might be up at this hour?
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No. 900565 ID: 3456fa

find your wallet and the store that's open the latest
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No. 900566 ID: 19916a

pet dog, obviously
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No. 900568 ID: 70df1e

go to the store but take your dog with you!
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No. 900569 ID: bb3392

go buy a soda,take your phone with you.
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No. 900570 ID: 094652

That is an apple. Do horrible things to the apple to get its sweet juices and tender fibers.

Then eat it.
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No. 900572 ID: 2a7417

Pick up vodka to go with those olives. Mama needs her medicine.
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No. 900574 ID: 7861a3

Water just doesn’t cut it huh? Well to be fare your place does look kinda shitty. Did you get water turned off? If that’s the case must not be long before you lose electricity and heating too huh.

Well grab coat and wallet and make for the door. Is there anything you are specifically craving for a drink?
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No. 900575 ID: ddf699

absolutely bring your wonderful dog with you to the store. also, feeling like it's unfortunate that you have no messages means you were hoping to hear from someone - you might as well just go ahead and text them first
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No. 900590 ID: 194b7a

take your dog with you when you go to the store! consider getting some food while you're there, the fridge is pretty bare.. if there was anyone specific you were wanting to hear from, mb just text them first?? also if the store has it, do get a small lamp.. don't wanna get a headache from the bright lights w no contrast
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No. 900599 ID: bd5c42

1. ABSOLUTELY pet dog. This is of the utmost priority.
2. Maybe run to a corner store if you don't have the energy for the supermarket?
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No. 900600 ID: 11b5c9
File 153619869191.png - (234.00KB , 700x600 , lad5.png )
900600

You probably could drink out of the tap, but sometimes when you turn it on it’s kinda green. Your self-preservation instincts aren’t what they used to be, but you like to think you at least have a little common sense.

Your electricity and heating should be fine, though. Your job’s lucrative enough that you can pay your bills on time, so long as you remember. Most of the bulbs in here have just blown out, and you keep forgetting to buy more. ...Maybe you should make a list.

After some thought-- you don’t know how long it’s been in there-- you grab the lone apple out of the fridge in case you get hungry later. You hope it’ll be a fast trip, but shit has a tendency to occur around here. Then you head over to get your coat off the TV, where you find it adds some nice ambiance to the room.

Helpfully, in the pockets you find:

YOUR NOTEBOOK AND PEN
YOUR WALLET AND KEYS
YOUR SWITCHBLADE

Also, less vitally, some bottlecaps, a packet of tomato seeds and an uneaten granola bar. Sweet, it’s like a whole dinner.
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No. 900602 ID: 11b5c9
File 153619874269.png - (156.66KB , 700x600 , lad6.png )
900602

You quickly open the notebook and scribble down the beginnings of a grocery list, reading as follows:

Vodka
Popsicles
Bottled Water
Easy Mac
Lightbulbs

As you wrack your brain to think of something else a human could possibly need to survive, you hear a snort from your feet.

Of course! Your wonderful and perfect dog! Whatever vital notetaking you’d been getting into is interrupted as you coo and reach down to give him a good pat on the belly. This turns into at least ten more pats. Chunks, in your opinion, is the most handsome and talented dog ever to exist, even if all he does is sleep and fart on you. Your horny neighbors agree.

After some thought, you add “dog snacks” to your list. Chunks deserves to be rewarded for his general existence. He seems pleased with this and goes back to sleep.
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No. 900603 ID: 11b5c9
File 153619877064.png - (206.18KB , 700x600 , lad7.png )
900603

Feeling prepared to show your face for five minutes at the convenience store across the street and also armed enough to face whatever is skulking out there in the night, you wrench open the window and clamber out. This way is faster than going out the front.

As you make your way down the fire escape, you pull out your phone again and squint at it. You weren’t really expecting much in the way of texts, but the concept of “Messaging First” is foreign to you. It’s just a habit to check, in case someone has a job for you.

...You do have friends, though. Really. You sort of chronically leave them on read, but you swear you have them. Look. Here’s a ton right here that you could definitely text if you had the social initiative.
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No. 900604 ID: 3456fa

what are you waiting for? send dog pics! also, don't forget to lock the door.
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No. 900605 ID: 56a05b

GOOD DOG!! BEST FRIEND

send requested dog pic to eyes emoji. check what the other two want from you. then send them dog pics too. just cause
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No. 900606 ID: c1eaac

send that dog pic!! let more people appreciate chunks.
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No. 900607 ID: 270774

reply to all of them, you absolute disaster woman. also send SEVERAL dog pics to the last one to make up for leaving them dog-pic-less for two weeks
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No. 900609 ID: 094652

Send pic of Chunks lying on your boobs. And eyeing something else. #suchdiscipline
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No. 900614 ID: af1e1e

send pics of chunks to everyone in your contact list. even if they didn't ask for them. maybe you can't talk to them with words, but chunks pics say everything that could ever need to be said.
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No. 900615 ID: 69c5a4

send! those! dog pics! but also stay alert as you walk out.
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No. 900617 ID: bd5c42

Definitely send that dog pic, and probably reply to ghost emoji too. They seem worried!
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No. 900619 ID: bb3392

dog pics and apologies! maybe u can meet up with one of r friends soon?
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No. 900620 ID: 70df1e

send dog pic!
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No. 900622 ID: 5ab80e

>>900607
absolutely this.
also send dog pics to all 3 of them, because in my experience that often makes up for leaving people on read.
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No. 900642 ID: d887c0

>>900603
Descend safely, then respond. Send dog pics liberally. The world must know of Chunks' greatness.
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No. 900691 ID: 11b5c9
File 153626086573.png - (220.83KB , 700x600 , lad8.png )
900691

You make sure to lock the window behind you-- last time you accidentally left it open you returned home to find an entire six-pack of beer missing, which you consider one of the most tragic losses of all time. Not wanting to fall and break your neck, you carefully make your way down the fire escape.

A couple short hops from the ladder to the dumpster to the ground later, you pull your phone back out and address the issue at hand. As far as you can tell, sending pictures of your dog is as good a way as any to start a conversation after ignoring someone for a week or more.

Good thing Chunks has so many good angles. You select some of the best shots, sending one to flower emoji, one to ghost emoji and two to eye emoji, even though you know this is just going to exponentially increase how annoying his reply will be.

Then you head out of the alley onto the main road.
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No. 900692 ID: 11b5c9
File 153626101245.png - (126.18KB , 700x600 , lad9.png )
900692

The convenience store is only a few blocks away from your apartment. This late at night the streets are basically empty, which is nice. The cool air makes you feel a little fresher than usual. You wonder why you don’t go out more often.

Your musing is interrupted by the chime of your phone as your many, many friends realize you aren’t dead and reply to your messages.

From: flower emoji
omgggggggg he is so handsome omgggg
i want to pet him omgggg bring him next time u visit
speaking of when are u coming to visit next i miss uuuuu

You don’t know when you’ll visit next. Depends on what kind of jobs you can pick up. Unrelated, the corner of your mouth quirks up one degree.

From: ghost emoji
YOU’RE ALIVE! :D I DIDN’T KN0w if I SHOULD BE W0RRIedDddddddd dd̶҉̦̥d͚̟̫̞d̴̺̖̰̭͉ḑ͉̳͈ ̡̢̦̣d̫̲͙͎̩͓͕̳͘ͅ ͎͚̘̥̝̺̻̹͚͝d̞̹̥͕̲̯̲́ͅ ͇͓dd̵̙̟̗̹̞͠ͅ ̫͖̤͈͟dḑ̛͎͔̭͙̹̞͕͎0҉̞͖͎0̟̞̼̠1͙̘̰ͅ0̡̞̣̮̩̦ ̰̺͍1͎̼̘̕0̟̭̘̟1̰0̦͉̯ ̶͉̖1̵0̩̙͔͈͖̕1̮͕̫́

You figure they’re going to be on that for a while, and leave them to it.

From: eyes emoji
MY KING THE LIGHT OF MY LIFE MY SWEET BABY ANGEL
I WOULD GLADLY LET MYSELF BE EATEN FOR THE ILLUSION OF YOU
also fuck you for taking two months to send me this

That’s basically what you expected.
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No. 900693 ID: 11b5c9
File 153626104153.png - (151.08KB , 700x600 , lad10.png )
900693

You arrive in front of the convenience store while you’re trying to think of how to respond to any of these. Before you can head in, though, you hear a noise from the alley across the street. It’s enough to make you pause and glance over-- the angle and lighting aren’t good enough that you’re able to see what cause the sound.

It could just be a cat. You don’t know if it’s worth checking.
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No. 900694 ID: 56a05b

well....as you said, shit has a tendency to occur. better check. if it's just a cat then no skin off your back and you can get back to groceries; if it's something more you might end up saving someone's life.
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No. 900695 ID: f0088f

does your phone flashlight offer any help? maybe it's a cat, maybe it's MURDER. either way, sounds like something you need to have a popsicle in your mouth for. you're all by yourself so checking it out immediately seems like a bad course; could you try to see something from halfway across the street using your phone, so you could run back into the store if it was something freaky? still firmly on the popsicle though. maybe get one first
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No. 900696 ID: c0641d

I dunno. Are random noises in alleyways ever worth checking out? A cautious look to make sure it's not something you should call the cops on is... fine, I guess; however, beyond that, I don't see how this potential encounter could be beneficial for you.
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No. 900697 ID: bb3392

go check the sound. maybe shine your phone light into the alley as you go
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No. 900698 ID: 6153e1

Let's not. Gotta get them doggy treats.
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No. 900700 ID: d887c0

>>900693
It's the city at night. It could be anything from a cat to a mugging to an Elder God rising from the sewers to prey on the dreaming minds of the people. None of those are your responsibility, and you are not obligated in any way to act. Buy your shit and get home.
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No. 900701 ID: bf3eb9

say something like "i know youre there", the outcome will make you seem either extremely cool if theres actually some person there or extremely silly if its a trash goblin raccoon or something scavenging for scraps
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No. 900724 ID: c1eaac

>>900693

check to see if it's anything worth getting involved in, but tell one of your friends (flower emoji?) what's up before you do, in case you get kidnapped or murdered!
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No. 900750 ID: 270774

>>900701
also, what if it's a DOG. don't you wanna see another dog
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No. 900753 ID: 70df1e

might as well check it out! tells eyes emoji that youre checking out a mysterious noise in an alley and to come take care of chunks if you dont text back by tomorrow.
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No. 900757 ID: bd5c42

Check it out, but try to stay hidden so that if it's something you really don't want to be involved in, you see it before it sees you.
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No. 900762 ID: 094652

You didn't hear anyone screaming. As far as you know, it's just a trash can falling over.

Head in, tell the manager about the crash, and buy some Ho-Hos. And some snack cakes. And a flashlight. Maybe some pepper spray.
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No. 900765 ID: 0167d7

WHAT IF ITS A POSSUM
DONT U WANNA SEE A CUTE POSSUM
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No. 900768 ID: 11b5c9
File 153629453701.png - (123.01KB , 700x600 , lad11.png )
900768

Though you really want nothing more than to just go get yourself a drink and a popsicle and leave, some sense of obligation holds you there, staring at the alley, waiting for another noise. A detective was the one who solved crimes after they happened and all, but it wasn’t like you were out here waiting with baited breath for people to get knifed.

...Plus, it could have been a dog.

Still, you’re not a complete selfless idiot, and don’t exactly want to die on some other schmuck’s behalf. Unfortunately, the two friends who are probably the most competent and thus capable of saving your ass-- flower emoji and eyes emoji-- aren’t viable choices, on account of the whole “living in a different realm” thing. You figure you might as well fire off a couple texts to them just in case.

To: eyes emoji
If I die you can have Chunks

To: flower emoji
If I die you can have Chunks

It’ll be fun to have them duke it out for a little bit. It takes you a couple seconds to formulate the most straightforward, difficult to misinterpret way to word your next message.

To: ghost emoji
May have a case. May also just be a stray cat. In alley near home. If I die come pick me up

Their reply appears instantaneously.

From: ghost emoji
WHAT? DIE? CAT? A CAT W1LL k!ll you? Sh0OULD I COME gET Y O0ooooouU? ?

Somehow they manage to fuck it up anyway, but you don’t really have the time or energy to correct them. They’ll figure out where you are and come over no matter what you respond.

You turn your phone light on before stepping away from the store and into the middle of the street, shining it into the darkness of the alley and squinting. Hopefully you’d be able to tell what it was from here. ...You can’t tell from this distance what with the one eye, but you swear something shines for a split second as you sweep your light over it.

What was a cool thing to say in a situation like this? Something that would strike fear into the heart of whatever was lurking in the dark?

“Uh… I know you’re there, asshole. Better watch out.”

Yep, that was it.
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No. 900769 ID: 11b5c9
File 153629456829.png - (197.39KB , 700x600 , lad12.png )
900769

Much to the surprise of everyone involved, as soon as you finish your incredibly good threat, what sounds like footsteps echo faintly through the alley for a moment before stopping. In that time you’re already moving, dashing to the entryway of the alley, hand reaching into your pocket to grasp your switchblade as you go.

It’s a bit easier to see from over here. There’s a lot of junk blocking your view, but as you look around you don’t see anyone the footsteps could have belonged to. This alley is a dead end, you know. You take a few more cautious steps forward, slowly starting to pull your knife out, just in case.

You stop. Something shines reflective on the ground a few feet in front of you, unmistakably bright red.

You take a few more steps forward, peering around the next trashcan.
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No. 900770 ID: 11b5c9
File 153629459647.png - (178.63KB , 700x600 , lad13.png )
900770

Oh.
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No. 900771 ID: 3456fa

oh fuck. investigate his. face-area? pretty sure flesh isn't supposed to melt
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No. 900772 ID: c1eaac

SEEMS. UH. BAD. poke him with the knife to see if he's dead or just unconscious?
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No. 900774 ID: 0167d7

OH SHIT

do................do you know what that is?
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No. 900775 ID: bd5c42

UH.

I guess...I mean, dude doesn't SEEM very alive, but it can't hurt to make sure...?
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No. 900776 ID: 194b7a

must be a nap gone wrong.......... investigate?? make sure w/e did that isn't still there.. mb give another threat, your first one was good!

also what other realms are there? which one r u in currently?? will they b able 2 come get chunks if u rlly die????
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No. 900780 ID: 270774

poke him with your boot
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No. 900781 ID: 8aef06

OH NO UH. try not to disturb him as much as possible, in case it’s like... a crime scene? but maybe definitely ask him if he’s okay, in case his face just. looks like that.
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No. 900784 ID: 56a05b

show him pics of chunks to resuscitate him
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No. 900785 ID: af1e1e

GRAB SOME FACE GOOP
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No. 900787 ID: 91ee5f

>>900770
You know what? This is now officially you getting into something that’s over you’re head.

Just call the cops and tell them you found a dead body and where it is.
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No. 900788 ID: 91ee5f

>>900787
over your head.

Stupid autocorrect.....
>>
No. 900794 ID: dbf422

Yeah, this is pretty normal probably. You still need food though so just get some people here and buy some mac and cheese.
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No. 900795 ID: 1851b6

>>900770
nudge it with your foot? If it moves, try to figure out if it's hostile or just needs help if not...I guess call the cops?
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No. 900796 ID: 094652

Take a video with your phone. Then run like hell while you're still recording.
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No. 900797 ID: bf3eb9

take a selfie and send it to ghost emoji. chillen
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No. 900798 ID: b1b4f3

What did you mean by "case"?
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No. 900800 ID: 575ec0

fascinating. Continue searching the ally for whatever did this before dropping everything to be distracted by the melting man.
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No. 900801 ID: 70df1e

looks bad man. stay vigilant so that whatever melted this guy doesnt also melt you
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No. 900814 ID: f0088f

seems like a nice person so better ask them if they're okay! see if, if they don't answer, you can find any form of ID.
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No. 900824 ID: c0641d

Can you call the police? We need this cordoned off ASAP before more people have a chance to stumble onto this. Don't touch anything, lest you end up contaminating the crime scene and making yourself a suspect.
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No. 900834 ID: 11b5c9
File 153634312084.png - (203.08KB , 700x600 , lad14.png )
900834

>do you know what that is?

In your expert and professional opinion, this appears to be what you in the business call “a dead body”. You’ve never seen one quite like this before.

The business is, of course, that of being a detective. A private eye, to be more exact. One that specializes in solving murders or unexplained deaths. You haven’t exactly been hired to solve this one, but since you’re the first on the scene it’s free game.

>what did you mean by case?

A murder case, duh. You’re an expert on these specifically for a reason that, you realize, will probably become clear as soon as you finish at this crime scene.

Before you actually do anything, though, you probably should at least let the actual police know that there’s a dead guy here so they can come pick it up. You raise your phone to take a picture of it, and then pause… and then turn on the front camera and angle yourself into the frame too, just for the hell of it. You even throw up deuces. Sweet.

To: ghost emoji
[photo attached]
It was a case. Investigating now. Can you call it in

From: ghost emoji
OH! YOU LOOK NICE TODAY! WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FACE?? YES I CAN BUT I DON’T TH1NK THEY WiiLL BE HAPPY YOUuu FOUND IT F1RST

To: ghost emoji
I don’t know that’s why I’m investigating. They never are

From: ghost emoji
LAUGH OUT LOUD

To: ghost emoji
Just write lol

Now that the cops are on the way to do their official business, you figure you should bring some competency before they show up.

...Like, you know, making sure the guy with no face is actually dead. He looks dead, but you can never really be sure…

After glancing up and down the alley to make sure no one is around, you reach forward with your knife and poke it in the shoulder a little. Maybe one more time for good measure. Yep, he seems to be pretty gone. You amaze even yourself with your investigative prowess sometimes.
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No. 900835 ID: 11b5c9
File 153634314635.png - (136.64KB , 700x600 , lad15.png )
900835

It’s time to put that prowess to good use and sniff out some clues! You fish into your shorts pocket for a pair of gloves so you don’t accidentally leave a fingerprint-- the cops should know you’re already on it when they get here, but just in case-- and get to work.
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No. 900836 ID: 11b5c9
File 153634317999.png - (183.44KB , 700x600 , lad16.png )
900836

>search the alley for whoever did this

You first cautiously inch your way further into the back of the alley, in case whatever did this is lurking watching you poke its victim with a knife. Unfortunately, you hit the wall and don’t see anyone hiding. They must have escaped somehow. The police can deal with that stuff, you have a better way to find out what happened.

Back to the body.

>investigate his face-area

Hm. This is certainly strange. You’ve seen a lot of bodies before, but never one with the face just… gone like this.

Well, there was that one with the face cut off, but that’s not quite the same.

You reach forward with a sort of horrified curiosity to poke at the melted flesh. It feels… not quite liquid, but not quite solid.

>look for ID

You fish into the pocket of the corpse’s suit to see if you can find where he might have kept his ID. Eventually you strike gold in the inner breast pocket, coming up with a leather wallet. When you open it, you find a driver’s license, a couple of credit cards, some cash… but no Life. Huh.

Another quick patdown of the guy’s pockets reveals no Life there, either. Strange.

The license names the guy as ‘Nicolas Stokes’, age 32. The picture seems off, somehow, in the face… you can’t put your finger on why.

>what other realms are there? which are you in currently? will they be able to come get chunks if you die?

There’s only two you’re currently aware of-- this one and the afterlife. Also called the underworld, also called hell, etcetera. You can pick which name you prefer. You’re obviously not dead, so you’re hanging out in the realm of the Living.

Travel between the realms is possible, but much more difficult for people who haven’t, you know, died. Lucky for you, you’re one of the few living people who’s found a way to travel back and forth. Your friends in the underworld could do the same, but it’s a bit more difficult for them. Chunks is important enough you think they’d endure it.

Things shouldn’t come to that, though.
>>
No. 900837 ID: fa31a8

what's a Life? if he's dead, how come it matters that he doesn't have one?
>>
No. 900838 ID: 270774

can we have a closer look at the id photo? also, does he have any defensive wounds or any other marks? any signs of a struggle? also, what's Life? is it like another form of ID or certification or something?
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No. 900840 ID: 70df1e

do you think the killer stole this mans Life and that's why he's all melty like this?
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No. 900843 ID: e0c854

Clearly the thing that's off with the picture on his ID is that it looks kinda okay, who the hell gets a decent picture from the DMV?
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No. 900855 ID: 5d7496

The off-feeling on the victim's ID card shouldn't be forgotten, but maybe it's better to ascertain first what kind of wounds he sustained besides the obvious ones. Speaking of, the wound at the chest - does it look like as if it was caused by a blade? Because obviously, who the fuck can even tell what happened to his face, so let's start nice and easy.
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No. 900885 ID: ded7a1

wait, what's a Life? if it's something you can keep in your pockets, what does it look/feel/smell like?
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No. 900889 ID: 11b5c9
File 153636424437.png - (227.98KB , 700x600 , lad17.png )
900889

Squinting a little closer at the ID, you realize what’s strange about it. The picture has a face. Obviously. So this man had a face before, and now it’s not on there anymore. Interesting.

...Also, you’ve never seen such a not-terrible ID photo in your life. This guy must have bribed the DMV agent.

> what caused the wound on the chest?

You set the ID aside for the moment and push the guy’s jacket out of the way to get a better look at the bloodstain on his chest. It definitely appears to have been made by a sharp, flat object, like a knife. A stab to the heart probably killed him.

> any other wounds?

You pat down his arms and the rest of his torso as well, but don’t feel any other blood or injuries. He’s slumped against the wall sort of like he stumbled and fell. You wish you could see his expression, but…
>>
No. 900891 ID: 11b5c9
File 153636431262.png - (219.53KB , 700x600 , lad18.png )
900891

> what the heck is Life?

Oh, right. Life is… a sort of currency, you suppose? It’s not for buying simple stuff like beer, though. In fact, it’s rarely used for buying anything in this world at all-- Life, basically, consists of big special coins that store parts of someone’s soul.

See, around here, people value their afterlives as much as the lives they’re living in the moment. So when you die, so long as you have your Life on your body somewhere, it’ll be used to determine how long your life will be after your death. Your afterlife, as it were. Without it, you can't even get in.

The strange thing here is it’s not usually stolen. To use Life, you need to have both the full name of the person whose soul is stored in it and their face. For that reason, a lot of people around here go by aliases (like you), wear a mask, or both. It’s not like people are going around wearing other people’s faces to try and hack the afterlife, but it probably gives some sense of security.

Life won’t work for anyone except the person whose soul is in it, and you need those two things (the name and the face) to transfer it to someone else at a special bank, so it’s really difficult to steal.

...All that said, giving up some or all of your Life shouldn’t melt your face off like this.

Something else you should look at? You know where you need to go after this, but it can’t hurt to be thorough. You’re a detective, after all.
>>
No. 900897 ID: 6e3292

face missing, LIFE missing... maybe they stole his face
>>
No. 900908 ID: 70df1e

you've got his full name, and you know his face, but no life. whoever did this has his face (literally) and his life, but no name. do you think you interrupted the killer? if so, could you be next?
>>
No. 900912 ID: ded7a1

is there anything around the body/in the alley that sticks out as weird?
>>
No. 900914 ID: d887c0

The weird thing is that his face wasn't taken; it was melted. If someone was trying to steal this guy's afterlife, then that's not going to work out for them. Yet they took the Life. You said that Lives have souls in them, yes? Maybe you have a soul thief on your hands. Hell, could be a soul eater for all you know.
>>
No. 900915 ID: bd5c42

>>900897
You might be onto something. I definitely think the missing life must have something to do with the state of this guy's face, although I can't imagine what removal method would do THAT to it.
>>
No. 900928 ID: a44ac6

Oh shit, they stole his Life and tried to steal his face ... is someone just making sure theyre gonna have a real, REAL long afterlife once they get there? ......oh shit, oh shit, can you contact the banks? anyone trying to trade life under the name and face of nicolas stokes is our culprit!
>>
No. 900958 ID: dbf422

>>900915
Magic or science indistinguishable to it
>>
No. 901008 ID: 11b5c9
File 153644635702.png - (140.94KB , 700x600 , lad19.png )
901008

> is there anything around the body or alley that sticks out?

You look around a bit more after digging through the guy’s wallet, but don’t find anything of particular interest. It’s a little weird that the guy’s wearing a suit, though. People around here don’t usually dress up like that.

> do you think you interrupted the killer?

There’s certainly a chance they were planning to do something else with the body that you interrupted with your very good threat. That said, it’s just as likely that they checked the guy’s ID or knew his name already, and just didn’t take his wallet. ...It would kind of suck if you were next, but oh well.

Now that you think about it, it does make sense that the face was stolen so that the guy’s Life could be stolen as well. You’ve never heard of anything in this world that can remove a face that, though-- then again, magic is pretty much concentrated in the other realm. Maybe you can ask about it while you’re down there.

Asking the banks is a good idea. That’s the only place you know of that Life can be transferred. You don’t have any contacts who work there, so you’ll have to send someone to do that for you.

Very faintly in the distance you can hear sirens approaching, so you figure the police your contact called in are on their way. Your knees pop as you straighten up, returning the wallet to the corpse’s pocket before heading back out of the alley.

As you walk down the road further into the city, you pull out your phone and fire off another text.

To: ghost emoji
Just finished at the crime scene. Life was stolen. Can you contact banks to see if a Nicolas Stokes made a transfer

From: ghost emoji
OH! HOW STRANGE! I DIDN’T KN00oooow LIFE COULD BE STOLEN.
I WILL ASK AROUND. ARE YOU G0ING TO SE3eee if YOU CAN FIND HI11iim?

To: ghost emoji
Yeah. Let me know about the banks when I get back

From: ghost emoji
THUMBS-UP!

After some thought, you send one more message.

To: flower emoji
Visiting sooner than I thought

Now it’s time for you to head downtown.
>>
No. 901009 ID: 11b5c9
File 153644639031.png - (163.51KB , 700x600 , lad20.png )
901009

It’s about a ten minute walk to the bar. It looks like it’s busy tonight, which is unfortunate. You don’t really like spending time around big groups of people. Hopefully you can get in without anyone really noticing you and then you can make it to the basement without having to, God forbid, try to hold a conversation.

Looking as nonchalant as possible, you start navigating past people dancing, only shooting a slightly mournful glance at the bar as you go. You never did get your drink, did you? Damn murders.
>>
No. 901010 ID: 11b5c9
File 153644641578.png - (219.44KB , 700x600 , lad21.png )
901010

“Hey, A!”

Before you can make it to the back door, you hear someone calling you from the bar. Not for the first time you consider that maybe you should start wearing a hat or something. Or get a second eye.

You shoot a tight smile over to the bartender, who’s waving at you. Hopefully she can somehow read in your face that you’re busy…?

“It’s been a while! What, just gonna leave me hanging?”

Or not.
>>
No. 901011 ID: 6e3292

leave her hanging,
>>
No. 901012 ID: 5d7496

At least greet her! And if it looks like as if she's gonna talk your ear off, just tell her that you're kinda busy, so you can't really hold that much of a small talk.
>>
No. 901013 ID: 15c5c3

Deploy strategic fingerguns.

Actually, since you're in a rush but not in a "every second counts" rush, you can just walk over, tell her "hey! listen im going somewhere right now but ill catch up when i get back?" ?
That way you don't upset your ..friend? acquaintance? but you get your objective completed. Plus, since she's the bartender in this place that you're going to for clues, it would be unwise to cut her off for no reason. She might be a friend, but she's also a possible informant.
>>
No. 901016 ID: d887c0

>>901010
Tell her that you're working a case, and it's sorta time sensitive, so you can't really chat right now. Maybe ask for a raincheck.
>>
No. 901017 ID: bd5c42

Yeah, I'll second all of this. Wave, but in a very distracted way. It's probably not a good idea to get drawn into a conversation right now.
>>
No. 901020 ID: dbf422

Say "yes", THEN fingerguns, THEN leave.
>>
No. 901021 ID: 094652

Tip your eyepatch and leave.
>>
No. 901042 ID: 235ba5

>>901020
it's the only correct answer
>>
No. 901048 ID: 70df1e

>>901017

yeah we dont have the time to meet up and honestly it doesn't seem like you want to so lets book it
>>
No. 901107 ID: 3456fa

go! get! drinks!
>>
No. 901108 ID: c1eaac

>>901012

seconding this! at least say hi.
>>
No. 901261 ID: 11b5c9
File 153663578771.png - (211.51KB , 700x600 , lad22.png )
901261

Alright. You figure that getting June on your bad side won’t really help you in the long run-- she lets you skulk around her bar asking weird questions, after all, and she’s nice enough. Still, she has a tendency to talk your ear off, so you need to approach strategically.

You sort of scoot back through the crowd until you’re close to the bar, but not leaning on it, since that would probably make it look like you’re in here for the long haul.

“Uh, hey.”

You really feel that you killed it with that conversation starter. Luckily, June is an expert on picking up slack.

“How have you been? That one guy who always sits at the end of the bar and tries to talk to you was asking how you are, so I just told him you died. That’s fine, right? It’s ironic! He’ll never guess-- well, hopefully he’s not here tonight. How’s your dog? You know, we’ve been thinking of getting a dog--”

As soon as you spot the opening in June’s rambling you leap for it frantically, knowing otherwise you’ll be stuck here for at least ten minutes forgetting what questions she’s asked you.

“Hey, uh, speaking of-- is your girlfriend in, or…”

If there’s one thing June likes more than rambling it’s rambling about Iris. Her face brightens up instantly.

“Oh, yep! She’s working downstairs. Are you on a case right now? That’s so exciting! Who died this time? Are you allowed to tell me?”

You start trying to slowly and casually back away from the bar without looking like you’re just walking away mid-conversation, which is the truth of the matter. You’re not really sure what your hands are doing, though. Some sort of weird gesture at the door.

“Uh… yeah, I am, so I gotta-- uh…”

Somehow June seems to decipher what you’re trying to say.

“Oh, right! Totally, just tell me about it later, okay? Your cases are always so exciting! Like, remember the one with the guy that got his hands chopped off and--”

You’ve been gradually scooting further and further from the bar this whole time, June’s voice slowly getting lost in the ambient Bar Sounds. To be honest, you can’t really tell what she’s saying anymore. What was the best way to gracefully end this conversation?

You raise your hands and perform the act known as “finger guns”.
>>
No. 901262 ID: 11b5c9
File 153663581099.png - (212.08KB , 700x600 , lad23.png )
901262

That was terrible. God. You don’t know why you did that. Thankfully, you’re obscured from view of the bar by the crowd you’ve just uncomfortably backed into, and can turn and start shoving through it again.

Eventually, feeling like you’ve just run a marathon and with at least one fruity drink splashed on you, you make it to the back door. One hand squeezes out your hair while you open the door with the other, finally making it into the darkness and incredible disorganization of the bar’s storeroom.

Someone’s moved around the dang shelves again since you’ve been here, so you have to shove one out of the way to get to the basement entrance. You’re pretty sure June knows the only people who come in here are trying to get to the basement, so she might just be fucking with you.

A purple-ish glow illuminates the long set of stairs down. To be honest, it’s a bit of a comfort. The stifling atmosphere of the bar is exchanged for the near-silence of this room-- “limbo”, or the entrance to it, if you will.

The loudest noise here is the strange, off-beat music playing from the back of the room. It’s almost a song you know, but like if someone had slowed it way down and put it in a minor key and then also overlaid the sound of a grinding trash compactor and some human screams over it. It’s not bad.
>>
No. 901263 ID: 11b5c9
File 153663585518.png - (192.18KB , 700x600 , lad24.png )
901263

You head for the back of the room where the music is coming from. Once you get past the general haze that tends to just sort of be in this room, you can see the person on door duty is playing it from her phone.

Casually you shove your hands in your pockets and come to a stop in front of her, making sure to slouch in a really nonchalant way. This always got ten times harder if you acted like you had places to be.

“Hey, Iris,” you drawl, looking back and forth across her face for a minute before just settling on staring at the middle of her forehead. You’re not sure how many eyes Iris has or where they are, so eye contact is a little difficult. That’s fine. Cool, hard-boiled detectives only made eye contact when they needed to.

Iris pretends not to notice you for a moment-- or maybe she’s staring directly at you, you can’t tell-- and then turns, smiling. “Oh, A. I didn’t see you come in.”

That is almost certainly a lie. It’s really hard to tell, because Iris was apparently not gifted the ability to talk in anything but a monotone, but you’re like 86% sure.

“Yeah, just got here. Listen, I gotta head down pretty urgently, so can you…” You make a motion like a key unlocking.

Iris’s smirk grows, though her voice is still devoid of any inflection. “Of course.”

For a single, foolish moment, you think you might get through without any trouble for the first time in your life. You also tend to be a little bit of an idiot sometimes, despite your impressive portfolio of solved crimes. Feeling like you really just nailed this conversation, you take a tiny step forwards towards the door, only for Iris to scoot over in front of it.

“Oh? And what do I get out of this?” She holds out a hand, still smiling.

Ugh.

Your inventory is currently:
Your phone and its contents
Your wallet (holding ID and cash) and keys
A notebook and a pen
A switchblade
An apple
Several bottlecaps
A packet of tomato seeds
A granola bar
A pack of Camels
A lighter

Though you’re not sure what, if any of this, will interest her today.
>>
No. 901264 ID: 11b5c9

as a bonus with this update, i now have a disthread! https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/125380.html
due to my schedule, updates may slow down, but i'll post other art i do there.
>>
No. 901265 ID: a24b1b

offer her a single tomato seed
>>
No. 901266 ID: 3456fa

give her the bottlecaps. bottlecaps look kind of like money, right?
>>
No. 901268 ID: 8aef06

please please please give her an apple and make a comment abt keeping the doctor away
>>
No. 901269 ID: 70df1e

say that you have a packet of seeds but not what kind of seeds they are. say that she can have the whole packet for letting you through, but at the cost of the seeds being a mystery. a fake magic bean situation but with tomato seeds?
>>
No. 901271 ID: 270774

offer a switchblade haircut. (offer apple. peel it all in one spiral with your switchblade to make it special. make clever joke about hellish symbolism)
>>
No. 901272 ID: 270774

>>901271
if this doesn't work: offer dog pictures
>>
No. 901274 ID: 7c0194

first off the fingerguns were an excellent choice
second off.....offer pictures of chunks!

(if that fails, bottlecaps are kinda like coins?)
>>
No. 901275 ID: c1eaac

half a pack of cigarettes, a granola bar, and some dog photos seems fair!
>>
No. 901276 ID: 7e9c89

dog pics or the cigs
>>
No. 901277 ID: b1b4f3

>>901263
How about some cool bottlecaps?
>>
No. 901315 ID: dbf422

Draw her with fingerguns and give her the drawing
>>
No. 901364 ID: 8aef06

KISS HER PALM
>>
No. 901368 ID: 575ec0

Pull out to sigs, hand her one, light both, lean against wall, shoot the shit for a minute.
You made it past the bartend in record time. you got a bit.
>>
No. 901429 ID: c0641d

Doggo pics - make sure you explain that you’re not giving the doggo itself, just the pics, and the concept of only being able to admire something from afar, naught to actually touch it. Underworld denizens love cryptic shit and “conceptual” goods, right? Try >>901269’s secret seeds trick if that doesn’t work.
>>
No. 901754 ID: 11b5c9
File 153698508980.png - (254.09KB , 700x600 , lad25.png )
901754

God, every idea that flashes through your mind is so fucking good. You can’t decide which to pick.

Might as well keep it casual, though-- you reach into your pocket to pull out your pack of cigarettes, tipping two out into your hand. One you stick in your own mouth, and the other you offer to Iris. She takes it without changing her weird, eerie smile, and continues to smile as you light both of you up.

“You know this isn’t enough, but I do appreciate your generosity,” she deadpans.

You didn’t know that. “Uh-- yeah, totally. Just thought we could, y’know. Chill out.”

You fumble for a backup idea, eventually pulling out your phone. Maybe you should have led with this one. Iris loves technology-- that music she’s playing is probably her own creation, now that you think about it.

“Hey, uh… like, I’ve got some new pictures of my dog, too. If you want to see them.”

Iris’s smirk grows a bit, and she holds a hand out over your phone. “Oh? You’re giving them to me?” Her fingers curl slowly.

“Not--” God, you forget to clarify every time. “Just the pictures. Not the dog. It’ll never be the dog.”

“Aww.” The way she says this doesn’t make her sound disappointed at all, coupled with her eternal smirk. You wish it wasn’t such a production getting past her, but some of the others who took door shifts were even worse. If Iris was too mean to you, June would be Disappointed in her, after all. “In that case…”
>>
No. 901755 ID: 11b5c9
File 153698512757.png - (208.41KB , 700x600 , lad26.png )
901755

Iris pulls her fingers away from your phone, taking with them your photos. You hope she didn’t steal any of the good ones. A soft giggle escapes her as she flips through them, which, with her voice, is about as ominous as you would imagine.

“Ah… how sweet. I hope these weren’t memories you were hoping to keep, A?”

The look on her face makes it obvious she couldn’t give less of a shit. You try to match it with your own scowl.

Still tittering, Iris twirls the photos between her fingers-- yeah, you’re not sure about how that works either-- and then taps them into her own phone. “That’ll be enough for now, though, I suppose... you’re taking up too much of my time as is.”

She takes a long drag of her cigarette and then opens her mouth. Her tongue curls out, and you try not to make too much of a disgusted face as she reaches towards the back of her throat for the key. You wish she didn’t have to be so theatrical about everything.

Still, she’s unlocking the door for you. “Are we ready…?”
>>
No. 901756 ID: 11b5c9
File 153698515713.png - (171.09KB , 700x600 , lad27.png )
901756

You shrug, following her down the staircase. The two of you walk in silence for a bit, Iris occasionally blowing a cloud of smoke that you have to pass through.

Eventually she breaks the silence. “So, what’s the case this time?”

“A murder.”

“Well, obviously. But is it an interesting one?”

“Mm. Face melted off.”

“Wow.” Iris sounds one degree closer to impressed. “A demon, then?”

“Dunno. Seems magical. Gonna ask, though.”

“Hm. I don’t know why a demon would kill a human.”

“Maybe the magic was stolen.”

“I don’t know how that would work either.”

You roll your eyes. “Well, I’m gonna figure it out.”
>>
No. 901757 ID: 11b5c9
File 153698521121.png - (140.85KB , 700x600 , lad28.png )
901757

You walk in silence a little further. Thankfully, you’ve gotten used to keeping your lunch down while you do this.

“How’s June?” You ask.

“She’s fine.”

“Just fine?”

“What should I say? Every time she speaks birds sing, sun shines on her hair even in that dingy basement, her eyes are as blue as sapphires, her hands are as delicate as little spiders, she brought me flowers the other day…”

“Did she really?”

“What?” Iris seems to have assumed you were just tuning her out-- not a bad assumption, but you’re a detective and all. You’re technically supposed to be listening. Demons tend to say more interesting things than humans, at least. You’d tuned out your upstairs neighbors when they’d started gushing about each other, but this could get you some good material to make fun of Iris with later. She’s silent for at least ten more steps. “...Maybe. Why does it matter?”

“Aw, that’s sweet. She said y’all were thinking of getting a cat.”

“Whatever. That’s all her idea.” Iris’s ears are glowing blue.

“You should name it after me.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Whose idea?”

Iris comes to a half in front of the exit door with a bit more of a forceful stomp than necessary. You cackle.

“I hope you have something better to pay me with next time, A, if you’re going to force me to listen to your inane chattering.” She uses the same key as before to unlock this door, and then turns to head back up the stairs. Your hand is on the door handle before you hear her pause.

“Oh, yes. Amaranth wanted me to tell you to go talk to her. Allegedly it’s important.”

Ah. You texted her earlier, didn’t you?
>>
No. 901759 ID: 270774

iris. is sexy.

anyway, with that being the case, we might as well go see amaranth first! don't text her first, though. let's make it a surprise visit.
>>
No. 901782 ID: dbf422

Can't take what she dishes out, huh? Congratulate Iris on the eventual new member of their family.

Then acknowledge the request.
>>
No. 901787 ID: 8af1e3

is amaranth flower emoji? let's go see her!
>>
No. 901835 ID: 9131e5

do u even have a choice i mean
>>
No. 901893 ID: 70df1e

tell her that if she gets a cat you want to see pictures. offer to trade pictures of your dog (BUT ONLY PICTURES)

also go see amaranth! sounds like you could use some help with this case and its probably safer to use the buddy system seeing as you don't exactly belong in this new realm youre headed to
>>
No. 901904 ID: 11b5c9
File 153707670319.png - (254.25KB , 700x600 , lad29.png )
901904

“Congrats on your new family member!” You say this in your smuggest voice and feel strengthened by Iris’s scoff as she leaves. “Send me pictures!”

It’s time to get to business, though. Relatively. You feel like you should probably stop by Amaranth’s before you get too deep in investigating, or she’ll get on your ass about visiting again.

You kind of dread what important thing she needs to tell you, though. It’s always something with Amaranth.

Well, you’ll figure it out when you get there. You shoulder open the door, stepping out into the alley this exit was inconveniently placed on. A quick look reveals no one present, so you take the chance to pull off your eyepatch, switching it to the other side.

This eye works a little better in the odd lighting of the afterlife. The other is fine, but everything’s kind of off, like you’re wearing 3D glasses. This coupled with your existing lack of depth perception has sent you into at least one doorway and a couple unfortunate potted plants on the times you haven’t been able to switch over. You’ve heard from other people who travel down here that they experience similar effects in the light, so you’re glad you’ve got this thing.
>>
No. 901906 ID: 11b5c9
File 153707673732.png - (237.21KB , 700x600 , lad30.png )
901906

Welcome to Hell, then!
>>
No. 901907 ID: 11b5c9
File 153707676264.png - (332.69KB , 700x600 , lad31.png )
901907

First things first, you need to head to Amaranth’s. She’s a little ways down the road, so it’s thankfully not too much of a detour. You figure you probably shouldn’t dilly-dally too much-- time passes a little differently here, so you don’t want to return topside to find someone’s solved your murder for you.

A little bell rings as you push open the door to Amaranth’s store. It sounds like a shrill scream, which you suppose is atmospheric. She’s nowhere to be seen, which means she’s probably in the back fussing over her plants.

“Amaranth?” You call, wandering the rows of shelves idly. She always keeps it hot in here, claiming that the plants need the light from the greenhouse-style windows. You’re not sure what the lighting in Hell does to plants, but it definitely seems more… lush than it was last time you were here.

Which, granted, was a while ago. Maybe you feel a little bad about that. You muse on your failings as a friend as you idly push through a hanging curtain into the back room. You didn’t really come back here often-- Amaranth usually met you by the front, since she said it was unfair if she let you in the back but not other customers.

Still, if you remember correctly, last time you were in the back there was nothing too concerning. She’s probably just busy watering plants or something. You’ll just go find her.
>>
No. 901908 ID: 11b5c9
File 153707678640.png - (326.65KB , 700x600 , lad32.png )
901908

God, it’s even more muggy in here. You don’t see Amaranth yet, either, but it’s kind of hard to see anything at all. You’d encourage her to whack some of this shit back, but she’d probably get upset with you.

Even though you haven’t seen her in a while, she’s constantly texting you about her “babies” and her “sweeties”, and you think you remember her eagerly introducing you to something last time you visited. You can’t quite recall what it looked like, though.

As you push through even denser foliage towards the back of the room, there’s a slithering noise that makes you pause. In your moment of hesitation, something lashes to whack you in the ankle. You stumble, banging into one of the shelves in a way that will certainly leave a nice bruise on your elbow.

As you pull yourself up, your gaze settles squarely on the scene in front of you-- mainly, a gaping maw.

In hindsight, you should have known not to trust your own memory.
>>
No. 901909 ID: 270774

now seems like a really good time to yell for amaranth while scooting backwards as fast as you can
>>
No. 901910 ID: 9131e5

def call for amaranth and then apologize profusely
>>
No. 901912 ID: dbf422

>>901909
Alternate between this and trying to tell the plant you'll tell on them for eating one of "mommy's" friends.
I mean you never know.
>>
No. 901918 ID: d887c0

>>901909
This.
>>
No. 901922 ID: 70df1e

call amaranth on your phone and start hollering for help

alternatively, call upon all of your super mario skills and start jumping around trying not to get bit.
>>
No. 901923 ID: 95c190

>>901909

oh yeah

.........dont be afraid to punch the plant though
>>
No. 901930 ID: a94e23

... who’s a good plant monster?
Is it you?
I think it’s you!
>>
No. 901931 ID: 33cbe7

Point behind it and say you saw Seymour go thataway.
>>
No. 903959 ID: 11b5c9
File 153818137487.png - (215.64KB , 700x600 , lad33.png )
903959

Maybe you should have made a note of this last time you were here. “Amaranth is growing giant man-eating plants.” Maybe you did make a note of this, and just totally forgot about it. Maybe you’ve also gotten a little lazy and haven’t been checking your notes as much as you should be.

Either way, you scramble backwards on your ass like an idiot, holding your hand out placatingly to the plant. It doesn’t even have eyes, so you’re not sure how it’s supposed to see you doing that, but it seems like the right move in the moment. Can it understand speech? Wasn’t there some scientific proof that plants liked music? Maybe they could understand speech, then. You mournfully wish you could recall your elementary school science fair experience.

“AMARANTH!” You shout towards the back of the room. “AMARANTH, YOUR PLANT--”

Before you have a chance to continue your directionless yelling, the plant leans forward, tongue lolling. Oh, god. Maybe it didn’t like you yelling? Are you supposed to talk in a baby voice with plants like they’re dogs? You’re really glad not even God is down here to witness this.

“H-Hey, uh… hey, who’s a nice plant monster? Who’s a nice little planty-wanty?” You start to wish it would maybe just chomp you up right here. “...You know, your mommy’s gonna be, uh-- real steamed if you eat me! Real mad, uh… I’ll tell on you! To her. If you eat me.”

You cannot fucking believe this, but it seems to halt a little bit. Just a bit. We’ve all learned something here today.
>>
No. 903960 ID: 11b5c9
File 153818139775.png - (266.10KB , 700x600 , lad34.png )
903960

Thankfully, the tiny bit of time your pleas earn you is enough for you to stew in your mortification and to herald the sound of claws clicking on the stone floor.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear. This won’t do at all!”

An airy voice echoes from the shelves to your left in a tone that makes you feel like maybe your embarrassment was pointless and there’s nothing to stress about at all, actually. A lanky figure slides in front of the plant, two of her arms wrapping around its… neck. Stalk. In a soothing way, you suppose.

“Darling~!” The demon coos. “What have I told you about eating Mommy’s friends? We can’t have another incident, you know~! Dinner isn’t for another hour, so let’s not be greedy, mhm…?”

As you watch, the monstrous plant slumps a bit, tongue flopping around in a more… dog-like panting sort of way rather than an I’m-going-to-eat-you-right-now sort of way. It rests its head? Mouth? On the demon’s shoulder as she pats it soothingly.

Hell, you’re not even a plant and you feel like you could take a nap right here on the floor. You’re glad Amaranth is your friend. She can get a little creepy with all… this.
>>
No. 903961 ID: 11b5c9
File 153818141633.png - (281.03KB , 700x600 , lad35.png )
903961

You struggle to keep your eye open as she continues murmuring to the plant, lowering its enormous head to rest on the table next to it before she turns to you. Her face splits into an enormous smile, and she clasps two of her hands to her cheeks while the other pair gesture excitedly.

“A, darling!” You barely have a moment to respond before she’s bustling over to you, lifting you to your feet-- and then off your feet-- and dusting off your coat for you. “It’s so wonderful to see you~! I got your message, but I thought I would tell Iris to make double sure you actually came. I have something exciting set up for you!”

Between the almost getting eaten and Amaranth’s tendency to be a little overbearing, you don’t really know what to respond. As far as you can recall, her “setups” always seem to be a pain in your ass, but she also gets upset when you refuse them. She’s really well-meaning, honest. Her priorities are just a little different than yours, given that she’s not alive and all.

“Uh, yeah.”

You respond as eloquently as possible as she herds you out of the back room into the front of the shop once more. She continues to ramble in her serene voice as you go.

“I’ve told you before that you shouldn’t go back there, haven’t I…? At least it just wanted to play... Did you forget? How fractured is your memory now? Last time you were here you were only down a few years, I thought… has it gotten worse? Really, I keep telling you that you need to write things down more…! If you didn’t insist on living up there and being so flaky with your texts I wouldn’t have to worry about you so much, you know!”

“...Uh, yeah.”

“But besides that, are you on a case? Is it a really important one…? Do you need my help? I know you’re the hard-boiled work-alone sort of type, but I just think that’s so silly, don’t you~? Oh, right, speaking of working alone-- I’ve arranged something for you! I said that already, right~? You have time, don’t you? After all, murders aren’t that important, are they? After all, once you’re dead you’re dead~! Romance is much more pertinent, don’t you think…?”

God. You love Amaranth, but there’s so much to unpack. You manage to latch onto a few points-- she can provide a little help with your case. Her roommate works down at the Gates, if you recall, and besides that she knows basically everyone in town (and has tried to set you up with most of them) and can probably send you wherever you need to go.

You’re not sure if you share her sentiments on how important this murder is or not. Like you mentioned, she gets upset when you turn down her setups, and you could maybe spare an hour or two, but it’s a toss-up on how long these things are going to take.

All that said, she’s also a huge gossip, and if you tell her about your case everyone in town will know about it by the end of the day. That could be good or bad. You tend to be close-lipped, like she mentioned. but this is kind of a weird one. You know, what with the face-melting.

Where should you start with this?
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No. 903968 ID: ded7a1

ask about the Romance first to let her get it out of the way
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No. 903972 ID: d887c0

>>903961
Romantically speaking, you are in no place, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, to sustain a stable, healthy relationship. Your dog is more than enough support for you at this time.
As for the murder, it's more serious and complicated than that. After examining the crime scene, you have reason to believe that the victim's soul and face have been stolen.
Murder is one thing, but identity theft is an entirely different matter. That, and it isn't right for someone to be denied the afterlife they deserve.
>>
No. 903975 ID: 270774

ask about the romance! we can ease into work later. amaranth seems so.... well, all over the place, that trying to tackle more than one thing at a time is probably just going to be biting off more than we can chew.

also, thank her for saving you. also also, don’t look at her ass.
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No. 904044 ID: dbf422

What, romance? I mean, there's definitely a murder case that's really weird, so depending on the romance it's probably more interesting.
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No. 904046 ID: f05896

Oh gosh she's wonderful

Tell her you'd rather go out with her
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No. 904049 ID: 70df1e

tell her that its true you only die once, but that someone is out there stealing life AND faces/identities so it might be good to get on that. ask if her set up date would be into investigating with you?

after all if youre gonna last any period of time dating someone they might as well get to know the real you right off the bat and get involved in the detective biz
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No. 904050 ID: 36183c

>>904049
oh my god. investigating date. investidating. PLEASE
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No. 904067 ID: 96f47d

what’s the point of trying to set me up with other people when i only ever come down here to see you?
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No. 904315 ID: c0641d

"I'd be all for it if this were a regular murder, but it's not a regular murder; the victim's Life and probably face were stolen. Time might actually be of the essence here. If your setup is cool with helping out an investigation without bogging things down and holding me back, then sure, they can come with, but no time-wasting restaurant dates. Actually, can you keep that in mind when you decide to set up the next one, too? I know I don't have many standards, but being cool with the real me and what she does might be one of them. I need to contact the bank about the victim ASAP, in the meantime."
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No. 907086 ID: 11b5c9
File 153965735842.png - (364.49KB , 700x600 , lad36.png )
907086

You think it’s probably best to let Amaranth run herself out of steam on the romance, but this case is so weird that putting it completely aside probably would also be a bad move. You decide to use your vast social ability to come up with a compromise.

Still, you can’t help an exasperated murmur. “Really, I dunno why you keep trying to match me up with people down here when the only reason I ever visit is to see you.” It’s the truth. Even if you’ve been slacking as of late, Amaranth is your best friend. She’s always excited to hear from you, whether it’s been days or months. Her plants are nice, too-- you reach out to stroke the leaf of one, watching it curl delicately under your finger.

You don’t know what she’s doing across the room-- checking the cashbox or something. Her soft voice floats over your shoulder as you push the leaf of the plant back open. She sounds as if she’s midway through clearing her throat. “...Aha~! Darling, you’re so flattering. You know I just want the best for you, mhm… you work so hard, you know, and I just think if you had someone who appreciated you…”

“That’s what I got you for,” you laugh. There’s a strange choking noise across the room, and you whirl, half-expecting to see Amaranth being strangled by her own vines. She’s just turned away, digging through the box of assorted Stuff on her counter, though. Maybe a plant made the sound.
>>
No. 907087 ID: 11b5c9
File 153965737660.png - (350.35KB , 700x600 , lad37.png )
907087

Amaranth has been trying to set you up with other demons as long as you’ve known her. She thinks it’s better for you to stay down here in the afterlife, rather than continually returning to your world.

The problem is, as good as her intentions are, demons and humans are pretty different. There was the one time where your date went for your eye, and the other time one went for your teeth. Separate demons, of course. And who could forget the classic where she just went for the gold and tried to eat you.

...Not in a nice way.

It’s not like you’re wildly interesting to other demons either, except on virtue of being a human. Your job isn’t a big draw-- demons don’t care about human crimes. It makes sense, you suppose. Why would dying matter to a being that’s not alive to begin with?

It’s a little bit of a roadblock, though.
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No. 907089 ID: 11b5c9
File 153965792950.png - (321.17KB , 700x600 , lad38.png )
907089

“Here’s the thing,” you say, leaning on the counter. “This case I’m on is, uh, a little weird. Like, stealing Life and stuff--”

“Ooh, what?” Amaranth whirls around to face you, two hands still holding her box while the other two press to her cheeks. “Is that even possible? How exciting~!”

“I dunno. The face was all melted--” You make an approximate ‘melting’ gesture, “So I’m wondering if it wasn’t stolen. Sounds magic, right?”

A comb, a cracked photo and a discarded snakeskin all come out of the box before Amaranth settles on what looks like pre-packaged beef jerky. She turns back around and bends down the plant she’d been carrying earlier. It looks like a pitcher plant, sort of, but if they also had teeth. You studiously do not stare at her.

“Mm… that’s probably magic, yes. I don’t know anyone with that kind of power, though… isn’t that a pretty dangerous one? I can see why someone’d keep it secret, mm…” You’re definitely not looking as her tail curls in thought. “You could ask around, I suppose~! Deimos might know. Ooh, or maybe your date will know! She’s got connections.”

You glance up again. ...Is her plant giving you the evil eye? It doesn’t even have eyes.

“Right, right. Speaking of the date, though. I really gotta get investigating, and like-- you know, like you said, I really only wanna be with someone if they appreciate my career and stuff, so. If they’d be willing to come along, I guess…” You pull your phone out for a second, checking for any messages. None. “I got time before my contact gets back to me on something, so.”

Amaranth is already pulling out her phone with one hand-- at least she’s turned back around to face you. “Oh, don’t worry! Don’t worry! I’ll let her know-- I’m sure she’ll be interested, though~! She thinks humans are so interesting and all, you know~?”

Great. Another one like this.

“Right. Uh-- is your roommate around? I wanted to talk to her, too. She still works at the Gates, right?”

“Right~!” Two hands gesture vaguely. “She got off earlier. Said it was a strange shift, mhm! Were you going to go find the victim? I always think that’s so exciting… oh, but when you figure out where you’re going, let me know! I’ll tell your date to meet you there~!”

That was the question, huh? Amaranth’s roommate could help you out, as could Deimos. He’s going to gripe if you don’t visit him at some point anyway, but you can always pass it off as working on a case if you do end up blowing him off. For efficiency’s sake, you could always just head down to the Gates directly, if you don’t want to deal with dragging your date to talk to the roommate, too.

Hell, there could be something more useful besides all this. With a victim lacking both Life and a face, your usual approach might not pan out. You’ve gotta wait for your contact to get back to you about the banks, anyway, so you’d better make the most of your time down here.
>>
No. 907095 ID: d887c0

>>907089
Tell Amaranth to invite the date over, wait with Amaranth until the date arrives, scope them out and get a feel for them while you wait for your contact to get back to you, then head over to Deimos before visiting the gate.
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No. 907096 ID: 70df1e

date amaranth instead. all the plants are your children now
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No. 907138 ID: 1872dc

You two are incredibly talented at accidentally flirting with each other. That's super impressive.

Well, I'd say that taking your date all over is probably a faux pas so maybe just to one of the locations. So ask her to meet you at like, a cafe?, after you've talked to the roommate, and then head to Deimos. Surprising Deimos with her is better than surprising someone you don't know as well.
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No. 907157 ID: 270774

>>907138
this sounds reasonable.

also, A, you’re dumber than a sack of bricks. she’s right under your nose. but that doesn’t mean we can’t meet the people she sets up as a pleasantry!
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No. 907193 ID: 602e4b

a you useless lesbian
amaranth you also useless lesbian
please......please......................have you thought about.....dating amaranth?

anyway, deimos first and date later because dragging her all around town seems like a social faux pas and also could bore her
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No. 907415 ID: 69c5a4

lets go talk to the roommate and meet your date afterwards, where you can assess whether or not itd be cool to take her with to Deimos. also, notice how cute Amaranth is when she takes care of her plants
>>
No. 907418 ID: 10c408

>>907138
>>907157
>>907193
Way to assume that neither of the following are true

A: past history
B: Amaranth isn't already in a relationship.
>>
No. 910161 ID: 11b5c9
File 154183237961.png - (208.89KB , 700x600 , lad39.png )
910161

>have you ever thought about dating amaranth?
???????????????? ???????????? ?????????????????????????

That is to say no, you haven’t. Why would you? Amaranth’s been your best friend as long as you can remember. Granted, that’s not very long, but the sentiment still stands……………………………… haha. Nope! Never! Haha.
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No. 910162 ID: 11b5c9
File 154183242187.png - (308.36KB , 700x600 , lad40.png )
910162

Speaking of Amaranth, though. You watch idly as she dangles the beef jerky over the plant’s mouth, cooing as it snaps for the snack. “Just tell her I’ll meet her at Deimos’s, I guess.” You sound as nonchalant as possible. This isn’t really hard, given your natural vaguely-dead tone-- it’s more a matter of keeping concern out of your voice regarding what body part could conceivably be eaten on this date. The possibilities really are endless. “A bar’s probably as good a place as any for a date anyway. I’ll just talk to your roommate while she comes over here.”

“Oh, darling~!” With a titter, Amaranth drops the beef jerky into the plant’s mouth and then turns to you. “You know he hates it when you call it a bar!”

“It’s a bar. I’m not gonna call it a fucking cocktail lounge or whatever he’s going for today.”

Two of Amaranth’s hands fly up to cover her mouth, but it’s not enough to conceal the wholly ungraceful snort she lets out. “It’s tavern now, actually.”

“Whatever. Call me when he gets to beer garden.” You make a vague gesture, trying not to feel too smug at getting Amaranth to break her elegant demeanor for a split-second. “Either way, I don’t really want to bring a date on my whole investigation. That’s, uh… what do you call it…”

“Gauche, darling.”

Amaranth is way better at all of this dating lingo than you. You wonder how she hasn’t found anyone herself yet. ...Or maybe she has, and you just haven’t asked. She doesn’t talk about herself much-- she’s always more interested in what you’re up to.

You’re thinking about your mediocre attempts at friendship a bit too intensely to notice Amaranth trying to herd you towards the door. At least she’s used to your occasional bouts of disconnection. You tune back into things once you feel the light pressure of a hand on your lower back and glance up at Amaranth. She isn’t looking at you, too busy texting, but smiles serenely anyway.

“I let her know to meet you there, then. Oh, how exciting~! She really is very eager to talk to you, you know. And I do promise I didn’t exaggerate too much this time!”
>>
No. 910164 ID: 11b5c9
File 154183253176.png - (252.87KB , 700x600 , lad41.png )
910164

The bell above the door dings as you and Amaranth exit. The sun never sets, but somehow the shadows feel longer than before as the pair of you stand outside the store. It’s always eerie out here. Despite the number of beings that live in the afterlife, there’s never any noise on the streets. The only sound, after a moment, is the sound of Amaranth’s key turning as she locks up.

“I’ll come talk to Candor with you, if you don’t mind. You know how she can get.” She straightens up and folds two arms behind her back, hooking a third into the crook of your elbow. You allow her to guide you with gentle pressure up the road.

You suppose you’re not doing much for the ominous silence of the city by being unable to think of a conversation topic. Amaranth towers over you, not even needing the help of the constant, slightly-defensive hunch of your posture. You feel overshadowed not only in height, but in presence. If you could exude the sort of graceful, easy confidence Amaranth did, you would most certainly be a different person than you are now.

As if to demonstrate your own internal narration, she easily picks up your conversational slack. “How have you been? It’s been so long, you know.”

“Has it.” You manage not to wince. “...I mean, yeah.”

“Yes. I worry about you when you don’t get in touch for so long!”

The tone of Amaranth’s voice is nonchalant, but you still feel terrible. She’s mentioned that she worries before, but-- it’s just difficult. The most you can do is make sure you sound as genuine as you can manage as you apologize. It’s not the first time you’ve had to. “...Sorry. I just get busy, you know.”

“Mhm… busy, of course. I understand! You have such an interesting job, after all. I’m so impressed every time you tell me about it!”

You feel like your insides are drying out and turning into a shitty raisin. You haven’t had a case in weeks. You haven’t talked to Amaranth in weeks. Busy doing what? Your mouth feels dry.

“Yeah. I’ll, uh. Keep you more updated from now on. Sorry.”

A hand waves gently in your peripheral. “Really, I don’t mind! As I said, I understand. No matter how much we talk, I always value time we spend together, A.”

You don’t know what to respond to that.

Your walk falls into silence. A block turns into two-- you know you should start talking again. The only sound is your footsteps; Amaranth’s much lighter and more graceful than the stomping of your clunky boots. Even that’s depressing to hear.

You know you’re just proving Amaranth’s own point about not being in touch by walking silently, but starting conversation is hard over text, let alone in person. What is there to say?
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No. 910165 ID: 270774

well, since it’s been a long time since you’ve talked, ask her how she’s been, and if there’s been anything new and exciting happening! it’s polite, she probably has a ton of stuff to tell you, and it has the added bonus of putting you pretty firmly in the position of Listener, which is probably more comfortable for you in general.
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No. 910167 ID: 1872dc

Well you mentioned it earlier but what about her love life? She's so nice, if pushy, trying to help yours, but you don't know anything about hers. Hopefully she'll appreciate the concern? (interest? attempt at friendship?)

Or you could spill the beans about how hard it is to socialize because honesty is important. Whichever is less painful.
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No. 910168 ID: d887c0

>>910164
Just be honest with your friends, you big dork. Don't be so afraid. If Amaranth is really your friend, then she'll understand that you've been having a hard time.
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No. 910169 ID: 270774

>>910167
>>910168
these are both so much better than my super generic “ask how she’s doing” post. i change my suggestion to “be honest with amaranth abt how hard socializing is”
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No. 910170 ID: 7e9c89

amaranth is so sweet im sure she will understand if you explain;; that more than anything will. be making an effort!
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No. 910171 ID: 91ee5f

>>910161
>Never thought about dating Amaranth
Come on, you were staring at her ass. You’re into her at least a little bit.

But it’s too late to ask her out now, since you’ve already agreed to meet with her friend. Maybe if things don’t work out with the person you’re meet, you could try dating Amaranth? Unless she’s already dating someone else, then you’re outta luck.

>>910164
>What do?
Just be honest with her and let her know that you’re having a hard time.

She’s your friend, she’ll understand.
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No. 910251 ID: ee3259

Maybe something like "To be honest, I have trouble being social. I love you, [ghost emoji], and [eyes emoji] but most of the time I have no idea how to talk to you. I appreciate you so much, though."
And/or
"Is there anybody you've been talking to lately? Made more friends, been on any dates?"
>>
No. 910269 ID: 986b2d

>>910167
I second asking about the love life! I know we feel bad about not keeping in touch, but I don't know that there's anything we can say right now to make that right. We just have to try to turn things around in the future. Set a reminder on your phone, maybe?
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No. 910309 ID: 11b5c9
File 154196787690.png - (195.96KB , 700x600 , lad42.png )
910309

“I really am sorry.”

You speak up before the silence can grow so long it’s unable to be broken. You could have walked for another five, ten blocks stewing over what to say, but there would be no point. One person can only feel so terrible, after all. It’s unfortunate that your voice is so raspy, but there’s not anything you can do at this point.

“It’s just… hard. For me to talk to you-- or to Deimos, or to anyone else. It sucks, right?”

Your loud, unfortunate footsteps come to a sudden halt as you stop walking. There’s a big scuff on one of the toes. You notice it, see, because you can’t look up from your feet. Amaranth keeps walking for a moment, not realizing your angst was going to get so overwhelming you had to stop, and her grip on your arm tugs you off-balance for a split-second.

It’s not like you can quit now, though. You’re committed to apologizing, so you’ll just finish it out. This is one area of your life you’d prefer not to flake out on.

“I don’t know how… to talk to you. You know-- like, I see a text, and I can’t think of what to say, so I just think I’ll respond later, and then I forget-- you know, my memory, it’s-- and then by the time I remember it’s too late to pick up the conversation again, and then it’s been two months, and. And you all wait for me that whole time, and act like it’s fine whenever I finally get off my ass and come down here, and.”

Probably the only living person in the afterlife at the moment, and you somehow feel closer to death than any of the corpses hanging around. Everything you say sounds like some sort of excuse-- Amaranth is nice, but she’s not that nice. Your heart feels huge in your chest, and not in a soft, tender way. Maybe you should have appreciated the silence of the streets while you had a chance, too, because it’s drowned out by a static hum that bounces off your brain.

You’re practically spitting down at your own feet by the time you can continue.

“And I’m really a sh--”

You’re cut off by the feeling of something warm wrapping around you.
>>
No. 910310 ID: 11b5c9
File 154196790818.png - (258.96KB , 700x600 , lad43.png )
910310

Being hugged by someone with four arms is something you really have to experience for yourself. Do the math-- with two more arms than usual, it’s two times better than a normal hug. The hug being delivered by Amaranth probably adds some exponential value to it. Listen, you’re a detective, not a nerd. You’re too busy trying to keep your ribs from caving in and crushing your heart like a trash compactor to figure that stuff out, anyway.

Or at least that’s what it feels like, until Amaranth is suddenly leaning over and into you, two arms curling around your shoulders and two around your back. Thanks to the height difference, your face is pressed into her shoulder and the soft hair draping over it. It smells floral, and a little like meat. It’s… nice.

It’s nice.

You don’t think Amaranth is using her magic on you-- as far as you know, it only works on plants-- but as she speaks, you feel like your head is cooling down from the near-boiling point it had been at seconds ago.

“A, really,” she murmurs. She sounds fond, and you can’t for the life of you tell why she would be. “It’s a good thing I have all of eternity to keep repeating myself, because I hope you can understand one day… I don’t care about how long it takes for us to speak. I value any time spent with you whether it’s a day or a year apart.”

The sky really is beautiful down here. Your eye fixes on what small part of it you can see over Amaranth’s shoulder. When you finally muster the energy to speak, your voice is muffled, pitiful even to your own ears.

“You’re being too nice. Be angry at me.”

Of course she laughs at that.

“Let’s not get too absurd, darling. I’d be alive before I’d be angry at with you for anything.”

Somehow, you feel like nothing you could possibly say to her would change her mind on this, as much as you want to insist she’s wrong.

Is that comforting?

“If it helps,” she murmurs, sounding amused, “I’m sure Deimos will have some stern words for you. Would that make you happy?”

“Ugh.”

She laughs again, delicate and featherlight. “As for myself, though… ah, you worry too much about how I’ll think about things. You’ve always been like that, haven’t you? Trying to predict how others will feel. Is it easier if I just tell you? You could insist over and over how terrible you are, and I’d simply look forward to our next meeting~!”

The warmth leaves your shoulders as Amaranth steps back, folding two of her arms behind her again. There’s a note of amusement in her voice. “I’m a demon, after all. Aren’t we supposed to be the greatest judges of what’s evil and what isn’t? So just trust me, mhm~?”

With that said, she hooks her arm back through yours, leading you up the road and leaving you to muse on what she’s said. You still feel like you were just making excuses, as well as Amaranth took them, but maybe… even if she’s satisfied with that, you can try and do better on your own time. Set a reminder for yourself or something.

...You think maybe you feel a bit better. Who would have thought talking about your feelings could be good?
>>
No. 910311 ID: 11b5c9
File 154196794973.png - (277.93KB , 700x600 , lad44.png )
910311

The two of you turn onto a side road lined in scraggly, towering apartment buildings.
Doing better, right. Time to test that out.

“How--” You cough, clearing your scratchy throat. “How have you been?”

“Oh, wonderful!” Despite what you were told in your emotionally-charged talk moments ago, Amaranth’s immediate enthusiasm makes you feel terrible for not having asked earlier. “My babies have been coming along so well, you know. I do apologize for the one who tried to eat you, of course, but isn’t she just the cutest~? No one would take her in because she was so tiny, and now look at her! Such a darling, such a darling… ahh, and I’ve been working on commission as well! Someone offered me some beautiful ceramics and a mouth’s worth of teeth for a plant that smells like burnt sugar. Isn’t that sweet?”

She saves you from another underwhelming ‘yeah’ by continuing to chatter as she holds the door to her building open for you.

“Deimos took another sweet little cactus, too. He’s asked after you, you know. And your little friend, ah, what was it…”

“My dog?” That would be just like him.

“No, no, the other one. The oddball one!”

You feel like you’re legally allowed to roll your eyes for that one. It’s also just like him. “I’ve told him that it’s not gonna go anywhere with them. Why does he keep wasting his time asking? What a pain…”

“Oh, darling.” Amaranth’s tone is a bit off-- you can’t exactly place how. “Love does make people do the silliest things.”

God damn, you forgot how many stairs are in this building. You try not to wheeze unflatteringly as you haul yourself up to the seventh floor. How is Amaranth not winded? It’s hard to think too deeply about what she’s saying when you’re focused on not taking a knee because of a flight of stairs.

“And how’s the love going?”

Maybe you’re mishearing, but she sounds a startled. “Aha… what? The love?”

“Yeah, like.” You wish they made elevators in the afterlife. “You met anyone? You’re always setting me up, but what about you?”

“Ah...” She’s behind you, so you can’t see her face. “Well, you know. There have been a few people, but… you know how it is. It’s fun for a bit, but that’s all. Just some fun~! There was one-- eyes like a spider, very pretty, you know… the big old pincers, those are always exciting, but… ah, I suppose we’re just better off as friends?” There’s a soft exhale that might be a laugh. “I suppose I’m just waiting for the right person~?”

You bark out a laugh despite your imminent demise. “Oh, come on. Everyone says that, don’t they?”

“Aha… I suppose they do. It’s the truth, though-- even demons can use your human cliches, you know~! I’m perfectly content keeping things casual for now.”

As far as you know, a lot of demons are like that. They’ve got all of eternity, after all, so that’s plenty of time to find that ‘right person’ Amaranth is talking about and plenty of fun to be had in the meantime. As for you, you’re not really sure if you buy into that whole deal. Predestination really isn’t your thing.

“As long as you’re happy.”

“Of course I am, darling!” She titters, and that seems to be the end of it. You’ve survived the walk to the seventh floor. You use the last of your strength to haul open the apartment door for Amaranth.
>>
No. 910313 ID: 11b5c9
File 154196799554.png - (109.59KB , 700x600 , lad45.png )
910313

If you were asked to summarize Amaranth’s vibe in just a few words, the apartment would fit every single one of them. You don’t know how she and Candor live together, but they’ve been roommates since you’ve known her. You try not to trip over a vine or what seems to be a femur as Amaranth heads further in, calling out softly.

“Candor? You’ve got a visitor, dear.”

For a minute, you think maybe Candor isn’t home, but then a low moaning becomes audible from a room in the back.

“Nooooooooooooo…”

There’s a shuffling noise-- Amaranth sighs indulgently, stepping further out into the living room. You follow her silently. Somehow your impeccable social ability doesn’t seem like it’s going to provide a big assist in such a delicate situation as wrangling Candor.

She reaches forward to knock against a closed door to the side of the room with a delicate touch. “It’s very important, so I must insist… it’ll take only a couple of minutes, don’t worry!” The look she gives you makes it very clear that you should get this done as fast as possible. The shuffling grows louder, and there’s the sound of several latches sliding open from behind the door. Amaranth smiles, pleased. “I’ll go and get us all something to drink, alright? You two have a nice chat~!”

Off she goes towards the small kitchen. You steel yourself and try to look as casual as possible while standing in front of the door. Should you lean on the couch? There’s something that looks like raw meat on it, so maybe not. It’s been a while since you’ve talked to Candor, so you don’t really remember, but you think you got along--

“Nooooooo… nnnNOOOOOO…”

The door swings open, but no one emerges. It doesn’t matter either way, though-- you can still see huge yellow eyes staring at you from the pitch-darkness of the room.

“I don’t want to answer questions from yyyYOOOOU… EVEEEERY time it makes my life sssSOOOO much more difficult… I don’t WANT to… it’s going to be something ANNOYing...”

Okay, so maybe you didn’t get along. Surely you can handle this situation, though. It’d be embarrassing to have to call Amaranth back out to save you for the second time in a day… right? Demons were easy to communicate with.

“I, uh-- hi, Candor-- I promise it won’t be annoying. I just have a few questions--”

There’s a wail from the doorway, accompanied by a gnashing sound.

“NNNNNnnnNNNOOOOO… every time you ask me aaaAAANYTHING I always get pestered about it at woooOOOOORK… “Caaaaandor, why are you talking to humans so much? They’re not supposed to knooooow how the Gates work until they diiiiiie.” And it’s too much woooOOOORK to explain your whole stupid DEAAAAAAL. But you don’t even caaaAAAARE, you only care about yourSELF and your stupid jooooOOOOB and not ANYONE else. You’re just the wooooOOOORST.”

Well, that feels a little pointed. You’re not sure what you did to piss her off so badly with your mere presence.

“Watch, you’re going to ask me something annoying riiiiIIIIGHT NOOOOW. You AAAALWAYS do the SAME THING.”

...This is definitely pointed.
>>
No. 910321 ID: d887c0

>>910313
SUrprise her by doing something different. Even if it seems nonsensical, do it anyway. Sometimes you have to throw them off if you want to get anywhere.
>>
No. 910332 ID: 3674e7

>>910313
A question that will probably throw them off is probably something like “would I be able to come to work with you”.
>>
No. 910339 ID: 1872dc

You could commiserate? Talk about how much getting pestered sucks, and maybe talk about how she's getting trouble at work? And I know you did a bunch really recently but an apology couldn't hurt before you actually question her about the case.

Ooh maybe you could give her your number so she has a way to complain to you. Instead of just using her for info and leaving her with the problems.
>>
No. 910358 ID: 10c408

"Candor, how about a fair trade. Every time I ask a question, you get to rant about anyone and whatever you say doesn't leave the room."

"And since you've got a lot going on, you get to go first."
>>
No. 910360 ID: b7505e

do we definitely need to talk to her? as much as i would love to meet another cute demon she seems.. very clearly to want to be left alone.. i feel a lil bad for buggin her
>>
No. 910361 ID: 270774

we could gamble on whether or not sincerely asking her how she’s been doing lately counts as “an annoying question,” or if it would contradict her accusations of not caring about anyone enough to throw her off
>>
No. 910362 ID: 70df1e

ask candor how theyre doing! keep this talking about feelings thing going
>>
No. 910417 ID: c0641d

"Your coworkers must be pretty dense if they need to have my 'deal' explained to them over and over again. How are they finding out about this anyway? Wanna just shoot the shit for a bit first?"
Candor is the one who works at the bank, right?
"So my latest job involves a guy who I think got his face and LIFE stolen. Is that possible, and on a 1 to 10 scale, how bad would that be?"
>>
No. 910463 ID: 719d94

Maybe if questions are a problem, you could just not ask anything. Make statements instead. For example, rather than asking "Could anybody steal somebody's life and face?" just say you found a guy with his face melted off and his life missing. If Candor wants to respond, that's fine, and if not, that's fine too.
>>
No. 910547 ID: f0fb6b

Whatever. She's got us pegged. Let's ask some annoying questions.
>>
No. 914325 ID: 3443bd
File 154509047441.png - (177.57KB , 700x600 , lad46.png )
914325

“...How are you doing today, Candor?”

You really hope that isn’t an annoying question. It’s annoying to you, but you don’t really like talking to people in general, which is inconvenient for a detective anyway, and maybe this’ll throw her off, if she thinks that you don’t care enough about other people, but also maybe it’s just annoying and you’re gonna become another femur on the couch--

“Huh?”

Candor sounds like she just got punched directly in the lung.

“You’re REALly going to… ask me thaaAAAT?”

Oh god. Maybe this was the wrong choice. Why did Amaranth choose to go get drinks now? She was going to return to see your mauled corpse--

“Did you knnnooooowww… in three years… yyyou’ve never ONCE asked me that. Not ooOOOONCE.”

Is the clattering, slurping sound that follows a good one or a bad one? You don’t know. You don’t know Candor well enough… huh. Well, that might be your problem. Three years of her being Amaranth’s roommate, and you’ve never really bothered to talk with her unless you needed to know something about the Gates.

Alright. Your hands are out. You’re ready to catch the… pass. For the touchdown. The social touchdown. You don’t want to… fumble it. You’re not sure why you picked football for this metaphor.

“Yeah, uh-- sorry about that. Kinda dickish of me, right.”

“................rrRRIGHT.”

You suppose Candor sounding confused is better than Candor sounding murderous.

A memory itches at you that says you really don’t want to hear a murderous Candor any more than is necessary.

“So, uh. How are you doing? Today. How are you today?”
>>
No. 914326 ID: 3443bd
File 154509054044.png - (289.36KB , 700x600 , lad47.png )
914326

There’s a shuffling sound. You can see the glowing eyes dart around, and then a silhouette becomes clear, and then Candor finally emerges from the darkness of her room. A quick examination reveals no blood on any of her mouths, so that’s a plus. She also looks like she just woke up, so that’s a minus.

“I’mmm… I’ve been better… I had a sssSSTRANGE day at work. And… I accidentally gnawed off ppppaaaart of my hair… but, errrr… I’ve gggGGOTTEN better about chewing up the couch… since we last tttalked…”

You glance aside to the couch. It’s a little hard to tell beyond the stains, but as far as you can see there are only a few unpatched holes remaining.

...You give Candor a thumbs-up.

“And, err… um… I ggguess I’ve been… gggetting into, um, poetry… jjjJUST in my spare time, um…”

She seems to be faltering, but the fact that only one of her mouths is actually slavering is a good sign. You decide to forge ahead.

“That’s great, uh-- so, I’m sorry I have to bother you again. It must be really annoying. Er… to be pestered by me, that is.

“It’s rrreally annoying.”

“...Thanks, Candor.”

“Yyyou’re welcome.”

She certainly takes after her namesake.

You take a seat on the couch, dodging as many bloodstains as you can. You pat the spot next to you. Candor looks cautious.

“Listen, so… do you really get in trouble at work for this?”

She seems very hesitant to sit next to you, and at your question, two of her mouths grimace. “Yyyyes. You know… ssssomeone sees everything that hHHAPPENS in this town. What else… do demons hhhaAAVE to do except gossip? Especially when there’s a jjjuicy hhhUMAN walking around, going to the GATES when humans aren’t aallowWWED…”

You’re not sure how you feel about being described as ‘juicy’.

“That must be, uh. Pretty annoying. Hey, I’ve got an idea. To make things fair, you know. If I ask you a question, you can gripe about one of your coworkers. It’s not like I’m gonna tell anyone, I’ve got like… two friends.”

“Tttthat’s true. Yyyyou’re not very gGGOOOD at making friends.”

“Thanks again, Candor.”

“You’re wwwWELCOME.
...I think that idea sounds. FfffFFUN. I ggguess. Whatever.”

You definitely caught that touchdown pass.
>>
No. 914327 ID: 3443bd
File 154509059423.png - (310.53KB , 700x600 , lad48.png )
914327

“You can go first, since you seem to have, er… a lot going on?”

“Ugh!” She immediately scurries around the couch, flopping down into the spot that you’d patted and tossing what looks like a tooth out of the way. “Ssssstupid Mandragora won’t sssSSTOP eating my leftovers that I bbbbBRING in for lunch EVEN though I tell it hhHHOW excited I am to eat them. I say, ‘Mandy, I caught this ccccow FRESH and I am just ssSSO excited to enjoy some RIBS’ and it says ‘of course, Candor, that sounds great’ and then I gggGGET to the fridge and all that’s left is a couple bone splinters.”

“Damn,” you say, leaning away from the gnashing of the mouth on the hand Candor is gesturing very violently with. “That sucks.”

“It’s like, I kknnnNOW it must be hard to have mmMORE than one head and all but it’s not like yyYOU need to eat MY lunch, I have WAY more mouths than IT does and it isn’t ffFFFAIR!”

You nod thoughtfully. Sometimes Chunks eats your lunch. You can relate.

“I’ve been ccconsidering biting its hand off as a threat bbBUT I’m not sure if it regenerates and that might be an HR violation.”

“...I worked at Starbucks once and I’m pretty sure that would have gotten me fired.” You got fired because you accidentally spilled a hot caramel latte on a coworker’s hand. Big difference. “Maybe if your HR guy is lenient, though?”

“UGh!” Candor’s voice seems to be growing more multilayered as she goes. “Don’t get me ssSSTARTED on him--”

You make a motion like you’re about to put a hand over her mouth and then can’t figure out which one to aim for, so just end up gesturing vaguely in midair. At least it catches her attention, and though the mouth on her throat continues growling.

“I get to ask a question now, right?”

“Oh.” All of her lips curl, but she at least doesn’t seem to be close to lunging at you. You brace anyway, on an instinct you assume is inherent. “Alright, I ggguess…”
>>
No. 914328 ID: 3443bd
File 154509063948.png - (311.11KB , 700x600 , lad49.png )
914328

“So I found a guy on this job I’m on-- face and LIFE completely gone. And dead, of course. Since you work at the Gates, you know, I thought you might know--”

“AaaaaAAAUGGGH!”

There’s a growling shriek from Candor. Oh God. Why don’t they have any pillows on this couch that you can use to defend yourself?

“TttttTHAT-- THERE WAaaaas a person with no ffFFACE who kept BOTHERING me and sssSAYING that they HAD to let him iiiIIN, he was RICH and he had SO much LIFE but I sssSSWEAR he didn’t have ANY…”

That sounds like more of a coincidence than someone who doesn’t believe in coincidence is willing to let slide.

“Right, right! What was this guy’s name?”

“I dddDDON’T KNOW, some stupid human one… Nickle... Nickle something?”

That’s... close enough to Nicolas. You think. Eagerly, you lean in closer to Candor, dodging the mouth on a lashing tail. “Yeah, that’s the guy. You said he was missing his face? Did he say anything else?”

“I ddddDDDON’T KNOW, he kept YELLING at me, and like, he dddidn’t have eyes, but I bbbBBET he was crying, and I think it is SO gross when humans cccCCRY, and he just kept saying ‘PLEASE ma’am a DARK MONSTER ATTACKED me and I’m ssSSSO whiny and distressed’ and I think that is just SSSUCH a rude way to word it. I had to get security to come ggGGET him.”

Well, that’s at least one thing you didn’t know before. You’re not sure what, exactly, this ‘dark monster’ would be, but you’re also not really sure how much else a soulless dead would be able to tell you.

Candor seems riled up. Her tail is gnawing on the couch cushions. “IS ttthhAAAAT it or do I get to complain mmMMORE?”
>>
No. 914343 ID: 270774

fair is fair — let her complain some more before you ask any more questions. once she’s gotten a little more of it out of her system, ask if she knows what security did with him, or who you can talk to to find out where he is now.
>>
No. 914344 ID: 23dc9d

I don't remember if there is anything else to ask her but I think offering to let her vent a bit with no strings attached would be nice! At least until Amaranth comes back with drinks.
>>
No. 914350 ID: e4db83

tell her you have at least one more question, but let her complain before asking if she wants!! ask if she knows where security would have taken him, & if not, ask who in security took him, so we can go talk to them! after that let her complain a bit more so she can get it out of her system, she seems pent up :'(
(also i love her)
>>
No. 914354 ID: 930d12

>>914343
Yeah, of course, keep the deal rolling.
>>
No. 914453 ID: 7e9c89

yes let her complain more!!! we have some years to make up for. also please ask her about her poetry she is so pretty and i wanna see her smile w all of her mouths if that is an option
>>
No. 914462 ID: 23dc9d

>>914453
Ohh yeah seconding this too actually!! That sounds like a great idea to help improve things between you two.
>>
No. 914467 ID: 930d12

>>914453
Oh wait, yes, I also wanted to talk about the poetry
>>
No. 914495 ID: 91ee5f

>>914328
Let her complain more!
>>
No. 915491 ID: 3443bd
File 154611787839.png - (259.90KB , 700x600 , lad50.png )
915491

“No, no. Go ahead and complain more. I’ve got a couple more questions.” You feel… surprisingly good about this endeavor. As far as you can remember-- which admittedly isn’t much-- you’ve never talked this extensively with Candor, nor has there ever been so little property damage or injury while talking to Candor.

“UGH!” She seems annoyed about the fact that you’re going to ask more, but… less violently than before. Performatively annoyed, maybe. After all, she certainly likes to complain. “SsssSSSo my STUPID HR guy. I go down there, ttTTTO tell him about how Mandy kkkeeps eating my llLLLUNCH, and he’s just like, man, Candor, I’m sssSSOOOO upset, you know, and I’m like, uhhHHH, okaaAAAY? Because we’ve talked like ooOONCE OR something, and then he’s like, I’m sssSSOOO MAD because my ROOMMATE just tTOTALLY skipped out on rent and disappeared and I’m lllLLIKE--”

Here she pauses, clearing her throat, and the mouth on her chest picks up the slack in a much raspier voice.

“OKAY, I don’t know why yyYYYOU’re telling ME this and it’s like, ttTTOTALLY easy to cover rent just go KILL A COW or something and leaVVE ITS BLOOD on the DOORSTEP it’s not like it’s a llLLLOT OF WORK, and then just kill him wheEEN he comes back, or something, and he’s like, no no, I LIKE my roommate, and I’m like, yeah I llllLLIKE my roommate too but if she skipped rrRRENT and then came back like nnNNOTHING happened I’d kill her too! She’d uuuUNDERSTAND! I’ve kkKKILLED a couple of her ffRRIENDS before and-- uh.”

The mouth on her chest clamps shut, and she starts talking with the normal one again. ...Maybe it’s good Amaranth is taking so long to get drinks?

“YEAH, so ANYWAY, like, he totally ddDDIDN’T even help. And my lunch got eaten!!!!”

You nod thoughtfully, scratching underneath your eyepatch. This all makes you really glad you work with dead people exclusively. She hasn’t even started talking about her actual customers yet.

“I probably shouldn’t advocate killing Mandy, but you know--”

“YyyYYEAH, I’m THINKing about it.” She slumps lower into the couch, chewing on one of her fingers. “WwwWWHATEVER. What did you want to ask NOW.”
>>
No. 915492 ID: 3443bd
File 154611791445.png - (317.77KB , 700x600 , lad51.png )
915492

You’ve never run into a case before where the person who’d died that you were trying to talk to wasn’t actually in the normal Afterlife. It’s strange-- you wonder how common it is.

“The guy with no face, yeah?” Candor nods cautiously. “Do you, like, know where he was taken? You said security dragged him away.”

“OH.” She frowns, one of her tongues sticking out in thought. “UhhhHHHH… like, I don’t really knnNNOW, because I had to keep wwWWORKING, but I think security takes people to the MMmmMMOTEL 666? The one outssside the Gates. It’s, llLLLIKE, intended for people who forgot their Life and stuff, I ttTTHINK. But even more wwwwWWEIRDOS hang out there than at Deimos’s place. They pppPPROBABLY didn’t know what to do with him so I bbbBET he’s stuck there.”

You’ve honestly never heard of it, but you can appreciate whatever jokester was going around the Afterlife naming stuff. It seems like it could be useful to check out, though you also have that date that you conveniently forgot about until now, and said you’d stop by Deimos’s, and also have your contact up top checking out the banks…

Jeez. Being a detective isn’t usually this hard. You miss the good old days of just interrogating some dead loser about how they weren’t actually murdered, just fell down the stairs, and leaving.

“Okay, one more question--” Candor immediately opens all of her mouths, probably to argue, but you plow ahead in the hopes that this question won’t be so annoying that she bites your hand off. “You said you were getting into poetry. You got, uh… you got any I can hear?”

“IT’S MMMYYY TURN TO COMPLAIN-- huh?” Candor looks floored. “Yyyyou want to hear my poetry?”
>>
No. 915493 ID: 3443bd
File 154611797870.png - (311.57KB , 700x600 , lad52.png )
915493

You don’t know how you feel about poetry. Do you like poetry? Probably not. Still, this seems like the nicest thing you could ask her. “Yeah, sure.”

“OooooOOOOOOHHH!! WWWHAT a SSURPRISE! Okay! I’ll pppPPICK SOMETHING GOOD-- wait, you’re not just mmmMMAKING fFFFUN of me, are you?” Her eyes narrow suspiciously.

“No, no. I really seriously want to hear it.” You’re being as genuine as you possibly can. If it’ll cheer her up…

“OH… OKAY! WwwwWWOW, I wasn’t expecting this, uhhhHHH…” She looks surprisingly nervous, but you suppose having some weirdo just ask you about your personal poetry is a little nerve-wracking. You wouldn’t know. You’re not really into… art stuff. You think.

Candor sits up a little straighter, fiddling with her hair-- and then subtly yanking her hair out of her mouth-- and then stands up and darts around the couch, back into the darkness of her room again. You sit quietly and wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Also why Amaranth is taking so long to get drinks. Eventually the sound of clattering claws nears again, and Candor sits back down and shoves a tattered piece of paper into your hand. Even if it’s stained with… something, at least her handwriting is neat.

“Sometimes when I am
Feeling very sad
Or angry
I open my mouth and
Crunch on some bones
The crunching reminds me of
When you walk through dry leaves
And there are bones under the leaves
And the bones crunch.”

...Huh.

Well, it’s certainly evocative.

You realize Candor is staring at you expectantly and fumble to hold up a thumbs-up. “That was really great. Like, I totally felt… the bones crunching. And stuff. Really saw your, uh… spirit in it.”

There’s a pause... and then all of Candor’s mouths twist up into crooked smiles. “RRRREALLY?”

Nice! Nice! Nice! Nice! Nice! Nice!

“Yeah, totally. You’re pretty good.”

Candor looks like she doesn’t know what to do with herself, and her tail seems to be edging closer and closer to you in excitement that you hope is unconscious. “I HHHhhHHAVE SOME MMMmmMORE IF YOU WANT TO hhhHHEAR IT, uh--”

It’s at that moment that Amaranth finally finishes whatever the heck she was doing in the kitchen-- now that you think about it, she might have just been waiting to see how you handled the conversation, because she’s Like That-- and pokes her head back into the room.
>>
No. 915494 ID: 3443bd
File 154611801123.png - (354.33KB , 700x600 , lad53.png )
915494

“Oh, I’m so glad to see you two getting along~! I was worried for a second there, you know!”

You’re really glad she has so much faith in you.

“I brought you both drinks-- A, darling, you never drink enough water, I know, so make sure to finish all of this before you head out for your date, alright~? And Candor, I’m sure your mouth is dry after that couch cushion.”

...Yeah, there’s a pretty big hole in the couch now. Amaranth holds out a glass of water for you and a glass of… red liquid for Candor, and now you’re definitely sure she was just waiting to see if you fucked up casual conversation. You’re pretty sure Underworld water doesn’t take any more effort to procure than normal water. Maybe.

Amaranth smiles brightly, one hand holding a glass of colorful something that’s presumably her drink of choice. All three of the other hands press to her chest or cheeks in varying degrees of ‘awwww’.
“I’m just so happy you two are talking so nicely now~! After last time, you know, I was worried-- I was prepared to step in if something happened! But you’re both getting so much better at being friendly!”

...You frown for a second, a memory nudging at the back of your brain, but then decide it’s better to just feel a little warm and fuzzy about Amaranth complimenting you. She compliments you a lot, but it’s still nice. She’s very genuine.

Though now she’s squinting at you, taking a long sip of her drink. You take a long sip of your water in return. Candor shoves her tail in her glass.

“What? Is there something on my face?”

“No, no! I was just wondering…” Amaranth titters behind her hand, and then makes a sweeping gesture. “Is that what you’re wearing for your date?”

“Huh?” You look down at your clothes, which are identical to about 90% of the other clothes you own. “What’s wrong with it?”

“Oh, nothing~! It’s just a little…”

“BBbbBBAD.” Candor pulls her tail out of her glass and takes a long, dragging sip with her normal mouth. “GgggGGRUNGY.”

“...Well, perhaps not in those words, but yes! Something like that.”

You like your coat. It’s fine. It’s a little stained, but that happens.

...Amaranth is kind of more fashionable than you, though.

You cross your arms, trying not to look pouty and instead resolute. “It’s not like I have anything else to wear. I’d have to go all the way back up--”

“Oh, well, you can borrow something of mine or Candor’s~!”

You hear something being spat out behind you on the couch. “HhHHUH?”

“Just for a little bit, dear!” Amaranth smiles placatingly, and Candor mumbles something about poetry behind you. Looking satisfied, Amaranth turns back to you. “She’s probably closer to your size, but I-- ahaha, I have a few things that might fit you as well!”

That’s weird, because Amaranth is at least a foot and a half taller than you. Your confusion must show on your face, because she waves her hands around again vaguely.

“Just in case you were to decide to stay longer than you usually did, I’ve been, ah… soliciting pieces as payment on occasion~! Humans need plants too, you know! It’s just a convenient opportunity!”

...Huh.

“Either way, you don’t have to change! This’ll show her your genuine self, after all~! Just, if you’d like to, it’s no problem.” She smiles again, gaze darting to the side for a moment, and then down to her phone. “Oh, yes! Were you going to go meet her at the, er… cocktail lounge right away after this? You were just asking about the Motel 666, I know, so…?”

Oh, right. You’re not really sure what the best plan of action is now. Lots to do.
>>
No. 915495 ID: 3443bd
File 154611803511.png - (170.04KB , 700x600 , lad54.png )
915495

If you think A should dress up for her date, feel free to pick an outfit! You can draw on the doll if you like or just offer suggestions. Like Amaranth said, she has some things that are A’s size, but a lot of it will be slightly oversized because demons… are big.

Of course, if you think she should just keep her usual look or only modify it slightly, that’s just as valid!

>>
No. 915509 ID: 7e9c89

how about a jacket and dress? if you belt a dress it’ll work even if oversized, and jacket gives you floppy sleeeeves <: some leggings / tights too, unless amaranth or candor have any rly cute ideas or wanna play dress up the human
>>
No. 915553 ID: 930d12

Something with a vest and slacks, because I know a fashion.
>>
No. 915554 ID: 930d12

>>915553
And the plan is still the cocktail lounge and the date and Deimos because if we start mixing things up we'll never get everything done.
>>
No. 915569 ID: 235ba5
File 154614795752.png - (156.03KB , 700x600 , yeet.png )
915569

>>915495
i mean, there's no point in dressing up as someone you aren't.
you're a hard-boiled detective who takes a bite out of crime.

maybe put on a more fashionable and less grungy coat, mix up your eyepatch game- you might not be in vogue or whatever but the way you dress certainly suits you.

leaving your comfort zone might be a good idea though- look how well its gone for you so far!
>>
No. 915586 ID: 930d12

>>915553
Oh, sorry, but make sure to pose in whatever you choose. For Amaranth.
>>
No. 915632 ID: df855e
File 154620783243.png - (158.57KB , 700x600 , style.png )
915632

get nice and dressed up...get a bedazzle gun to spice up your eyepatch! and stay on brand w the coat but..play it up!
>>
No. 916642 ID: ee3259

>>915632
This is nice! And it's not far off from your current outfit, so hopefully it doesn't feel weird.

I present the idea of an eyepatch with a closed eye drawn on- a permanent flirty wink! Rawr
>>
No. 918002 ID: 270774
File 154769064563.png - (183.46KB , 700x600 , a.png )
918002

if they have anything that's already supposed to be kind of drape-y and flowy, you won't be able to tell that it's too big on you (and green would look cute with your hair). hang on to your own shorts since at least you know they fit. and the idea of embellishing the eyepatch somehow is cute!!
>>
No. 918739 ID: 11b5c9
File 154830848778.png - (167.30KB , 700x600 , lad55.png )
918739

You suppose it couldn’t hurt to get dressed up. Looking down at yourself, you’re not sure how many days in a row you’ve worn these pants, so maybe you’re due for a change. A date once described you as looking ‘rugged’, and you’re still not actually sure if that was a compliment or because of the lingering stains on your trenchcoat.

“I guess… I could change.”

As soon as the words leave your mouth, Amaranth is practically bouncing in excitement. She reaches forward with two arms to nudge you off the couch and towards her room, leaving Candor still loudly slurping water behind you. “Oh, wonderful, darling~! I think you’ll definitely impress her-- she’s very into fashion and so on and so forth, you know.”

Great. That’s one conversation topic you won’t be able to contribute on.

As if sensing your discomfort, Amaranth continues on in a soothing voice. “Not just fashion, of course~! She has other interests. Mysteries and crime and so on! What else… art, I believe? You’ll be able to find something to talk to her about, don’t worry.”

Even holding conversation about your actual interests is hard sometimes, so you’re not quite as optimistic as Amaranth is. Still, her positivity is a little helpful. You just nod and start peering into her closet.

“Alright, I’ll leave you to it! Just shout if you need my help with anything, darling~!” With a pat on the back, Amaranth turns to head back into the living room, leaving you to get dressed. Your favorite hobby.

It takes a few ill-fitting shirts and being unable to tell which holes your arms are meant to go through before you find something at least wearable. It takes another few minutes for you to decide if it’s date-worthy or something that you’d pull on to go to the store really fast.

Remember when you were just intending to go buy food? ...Damn, you’re actually pretty hungry.

Either way, Amaranth owns these clothes, so they’re automatically 300 times more date-worthy than anything you would usually wear. You hope you don’t look too Christmas-y. After a moment of thought, you pull off your eyepatch and scrutinize it. People wore jewelry on dates, right? You didn’t really own much, but maybe…

This is a little more DIY than you were intending to get, but here you are, hunched over Amaranth’s neat vanity, a bottle of clear nail polish in hand and a pile of small fake jewels furtively pulled off a bedazzled dress on the table next to you. You summon all of your dexterity to press each one into the nail polish you’ve painted onto your poor eyepatch.

...It actually looks pretty good when you’re done. You’re a regular artist. Feeling quite proud of your fashion prowess, you straighten your new accessory over your human eye and then step out into the living room again-- should you pose? You feel like you should pose.

Your attempt at a pose is weak. It’s at least accompanied by the sound of two sets of hands clapping together, and when you look over both belong to Amaranth, who’s beaming at you. Her face looks slightly more blue than usual, but maybe it’s just the lighting.

“A, darling! You look…”

“Much beTTER.” Candor isn’t clapping, and doesn’t change from looking rather exasperated with the whole proceeding, but at least she could manage such a kind compliment.

“Well, I wouldn’t say it like that! But you look lovely, dear. I love what you did with your eyepatch! I’m not sure where you got the gemstones from, though--” You feel some sweat on your neck. “Oh, never mind! And the shirt fits you so well! Eury will definitely be impressed~!” At your blank look, she laughs and waves a hand. “Your date! Well, her full name is Euryale, I think, but she said to call her that.”

“Oh.” You wonder if you shouldn’t have asked what your date’s name actually was earlier than this, instead of internally narrating her as ‘Your Date’. “...Thanks.”
>>
No. 918740 ID: 11b5c9
File 154830850544.png - (312.66KB , 700x600 , lad56.png )
918740

Speaking of, you should probably get on your way. You figure that as useful as Candor’s information might be, it’s better to just stick with your original plan so you don’t confuse yourself.

“I really, uh. Appreciate your help with the,” a vague gesture to your entire self, “but I should probably get going to meet, uh. Eury.”

“Oh, of course!” One of Amaranth’s arms plucks the empty glass from Candor’s hands absentmindedly (probably to prevent her from chewing on it) as she pulls out her phone with another. “I told her to meet you at Deimos’s, so you should be all set~! Just call me if anything goes wrong, alright?”

“Sure.”

“And call me afterwards, too! I want to know how it goes~!”

“Sure.”

“...AaaAAAND cccome over aAGAIN if you want to hear mmmMORE poetry.” Amaranth looks as surprised by this interjection from Candor as you are, her gaze darting back and forth between the two of you. Candor seems to be resolutely staring at a discarded bone across the room.

“...Sure.”

“...bbBBYE.”

“Bye, Candor.” You give a small, awkward wave that looks more like you weren’t sure what to do with your hand for a split-second. She probably doesn’t even notice, too fixated on not looking at you.

Amaranth, ever a hero, cuts through the stiff mood with a laugh, stepping forward to usher you towards the door. “Good luck, darling~! I know you’ll be just fine. Be yourself and she’ll be head over heels in no time!” You’re not sure if that’s the result you’d personally expect from Being Yourself. “And good luck on your case, too~! If you need anything else from either of us, just let me know, alright?”

“Yeah, sure. Thanks for your help so far. And, uh. Thanks for… earlier.” You gesture vaguely and hope she can extrapolate the uncomfortable conversation you’re referring to.

Her smile softens slightly, and she reaches forward to pat you on the cheek. “Of course. I have hundreds of years to continue insisting that you’re not the nuisance you make yourself out to be, you know.” The hand on your cheek stills, holding there for a moment longer. “...I’m glad you and Candor are getting along now. I was worried… well, I was a bit worried. You did well with her. I know she can be… er, abrasive?”

You actually bark out a laugh at that. A finger twirls through your hair idly. “Yeah, so can I. There wasn’t anything to worry about, really.”

A hesitant look crosses Amaranth’s face, though you’re not sure why. She doesn’t respond for another moment. “How has your memory been, A?”

“...Fine, I guess.” As bad as ever, but she probably knows that’s what you mean. “I haven’t been writing things down as much as I should. Probably. It’s fine, though. I’m used to it.”

“...Of course. Well, let me know if anything changes with that, too.” Amaranth’s hand finally drops from your cheek, and she moves to open the front door. “How silly of me~! I’ve been keeping you standing here. It was as wonderful to see you as ever, darling. Have fun! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do~!”

You’re pretty sure all of your dating skills are things Amaranth wouldn’t do. “When have I ever messed a date up?”

She laughs, closer to an inelegant snort than her usual giggling. “Of course. I’d never doubt you~!”

A smile crosses your face without you even having to force it as you step out into the hall, one hand raised in farewell. Then you’re off to brave the many, many stairs once more.
>>
No. 918741 ID: 11b5c9
File 154830852629.png - (249.75KB , 700x600 , lad57.png )
918741

Deimos’s bar/cocktail lounge/beer garden is a few blocks away, though blocks are rather amorphous when a lot of the streets in the Afterlife start slowly bending or turning upside-down as you walk on them. You’ve got time to kill, though, and you can’t spend all of it feeling pleased about how hard you crushed that social interaction back there.

You pull out your phone and fire off a quick text.

To: ghost emoji
How’s checking the banks going

The reply back is almost instant.

From: ghost emoji
OH! HE3LLO A
IT’S GO00ING ALRIGHT. I HIT A SMALL SNaG WHICH WAS THAT the B@ANK TELLERS DO N00T PARTICULARLY WANT TO TALK TO M3 BECAUSE I HAVE NO LIFE
AND BECAUSE I AM MEee JUST IN GENERAL
SO I HAD TO CaaaaLL A CONTACT

Oh no.

To: ghost emoji
What contact

From: ghost emoji
DON’T WORRY HE’S VERY NICE AND HELlllpFUL :D

You don’t doubt that he’s helpful, but if the contact is another detective, this could be a pain in your ass. Most of the other private detectives in your area are pretty… annoying. Especially the more upstart-y ones who would be more eager to help on a case that you’re already working. The more established folks are more like you-- that is, they avoid interacting with other people if they can help it.

To: ghost emoji
Did you tell him about the case

From: ghost emoji
ONLY WHAT HE COULL7D EXTRAPOLATE FROM WHAT HE NEED3eeed TO FIND AT THE BANK
DON’T WOO000RRY A IF THERE IS ANOTHER MURDER I’LL ST111LL TELL YOU FIRST

To: ghost emoji
Thanks

From: ghost emoji
THUMBS-UP

To: ghost emoji
Just use the emoji

Despite the quick replies, this conversation coupled with brooding about who else might now be involved in your case has brought you to the outside of Deimos’s bar. You sigh, make sure you haven’t managed to get a stain on your shirt in the short walk, and swing open the door.
>>
No. 918742 ID: 11b5c9
File 154830854997.png - (199.28KB , 700x600 , lad58.png )
918742

Instead of the scream that had sounded as a doorbell in Amaranth’s shop, this one makes the sound of a hundred screeching harpies. It’s pitched to be barely audible over the music playing inside and ambient conversation, but it still makes you flinch.

Alright. You’re ready. Strange minor-key (and maybe backwards) versions of a couple of songs you’ve heard on the radio are playing in the background, and you’re ready for your date. You stand up straight, and…

Realize that along with your negligence in learning your date’s name, you know absolutely nothing about how she looks. Fuck.

Your short burst of confidence immediately leaves you as you dig out your phone, fumbling to text Amaranth.

To: flower emoji
Hey what does Eury look like

You wait for a response. Someone opens the door behind you and grumbles when they find you standing directly in the entryway, and you wince and shuffle to the side. Checking your phone again is fruitless. Amaranth probably didn’t expect a cry for help quite this quickly. She must be busy. Shit. Why the hell would she have so much faith in you.

Well, on the upside, you’re pretty much the only human in this place, so you shouldn’t be difficult to locate when she shows up. Or maybe she’s already here. You just need to wait and act casual until she notices you and comes over to initiate conversation. An excellent start to your date, in which you establish yourself as too much of a mess to take any sort of initiative.

It’s fine. It’s just a matter of killing time.

Which you’re not great at.

Squinting through the low light of the room, you can see Deimos is tending the bar. He seems to be preoccupied arguing with a patron, as usual. The bar itself is about half-occupied, and various other couples and groups of demons are seated at small tables around the room, talking amongst themselves. Some are nursing drinks and plates of raw meat. There’s an area towards the back of the room with no tables and a small stage. For the moment, it seems unoccupied, though a lonely mic stands on it. As far as you can tell, music is coming from a nearby jukebox. Apparently demons are into vintage-- though knowing Deimos, it’s probably just something he found trashed and thought would make a good Aesthetic, whatever that means. The table-less area is otherwise occupied by a small mass of demons, all dancing or gyrating or sort of awkwardly shuffling side-to-side along with the music.

You’re just kind of hovering by the door like a sentient coatrack. You think it might be an even worse first impression if your date finds you here.
>>
No. 918743 ID: c1eaac

go talk to deimos! that way eury can come find you instead of the other way around, and you won't be standing around doing nothing.
>>
No. 918744 ID: f59046

u should check the jukebox in advance and see if there’s any songs to use for either atmosphere or emergency distraction!!
>>
No. 918746 ID: 9fcd43

Yeah, talk to Deimos - didn't we have some things to ask him about the case?
>>
No. 918830 ID: 158da5

>>918743
Yup do this
>>
No. 923486 ID: 11b5c9
File 155123677402.png - (202.09KB , 700x600 , lad59.png )
923486

After 24 years of approximately knowing yourself, your faith in your own ability to maintain over five minutes of steady conversation is: zero. Thank god there’s a jukebox for easy date-activity distraction… not that you really know how to dance, either, but you can cross that bridge when you get there. For the moment, you try to furtively make your way through the throng of extra limbs and spikes to cross the dancefloor without your date spotting you and asking why you look like you’re reenacting an undercover scene from Mission Impossible. Your endeavor is moderately successful. At one point, a pretty demon with a gaping maw in her chest starts suggestively wiggling in your direction and you have to perform a fast series of hand motions that you hope get across ‘sorry, you’re hot but I’m busy, really sorry, maybe another time.’

Finally you push through the crowd and resist the urge to take a huge gasping breath. The jukebox is in sight… mostly. A rather amorous couple seems to have taken up residence on it and are… amour-ing. You peek around them as best as you can to see the screen. It’d probably be impolite to ask them to move, after all.

You’re not sure what junkyard Deimos hauled this thing out of, but it’s certainly vintage. The songs are recognizable to you by name, at least, though you’re not sure if that’ll hold true when they actually start playing. The current music seemed to be Johnny Cash-adjacent, if Mr. Cash was being tortured at the time and also couldn’t play guitar very well.

Just when you’ve decided that it’ll at least be a good conversation topic to get the entire bar yelling ‘TEQUILA’ every minute or so, one half of the couple on the jukebox leans over to fix you with a simpering smile. “Oops! Guess you didn’t know that I’m in charge of the music for tonight and also, like, ever, so payment has to go through me, okaaaay?”

Figuring out payment with demons is always an entire production, and this guy’s surly date is glaring at you even as he himself continues to smile and wiggle an open-palmed hand in your direction. You don’t think you have enough time to determine exactly how many used bottlecaps or teeth this particular customer wants in exchange for playing some early 2000s hits.

You raise your voice to be heard over Johnny Cash’s pained groans. “I’ll be back later.”

“What? Did you call me a traitor?” The jukebox guard’s voice is so faux-distressed even you can tell it’s fake.

The grumpy boyfriend apparently can’t, though, as he leans over even further into your business. “Did you call him a traitor?”

“Huh? No-- never mind.” Talking to demons is the worst ever. What would they even be traitors to? You wave a hand dismissively and turn to endure the crowd again. At least you know what songs are available now, should you need them.
>>
No. 923487 ID: 11b5c9
File 155123679947.png - (262.70KB , 700x600 , lad60.png )
923487

Your attempt at date-prep a moderate bust, you retreat to the bar. At least it’ll be easier for Euryale to find you over here. Deimos is still preoccupied arguing with a patron, but you’re sure he sees you-- ha, just a little joke-- and take a seat with your back facing the dancefloor to wait. There’s a little dish filled with beef tips set out, which is nice.

There’s the sound of something slamming into the bar over where Deimos is. At a glance, it seems he’s managed to spear it with a wooden skewer intimidatingly enough that the large-horned demon he’s arguing with stops trying to get free shots or free teeth or whatever it is that demons argue about. As Deimos finally whirls around to head in your direction, you’re met with a full-body eye roll, so it must have been a particularly annoying one.

“Hey, it’s my creation day and my friend is buying me shots-- you know my friend, right? He’s got the big hair and the multiple tongues, you know--” He’s already off like a shot in his usual rapid-fire voice, banging a glass down in front of you. You’re surprised it doesn’t break. “I know, like, eighty different demons with big hair and multiple tongues! Big hair and multiple tongues are practically default traits! If you consider a forked tongue to be multiple tongues, that’s even more vague! I get around, you know! But nooooo-- I must not be very observant, ‘cause he’s here all the time and he says he’s introduced himself to me and he’s apparently so memorable, so-- I have thirty-three eyes! And his friend must not be that memorable, because I’ll tell you, I know everyone worth knowing around here!”

He starts pouring something lime-green into your glass. You just let him go for it. Deimos’s taste in drinks is pretty good, which is hard to guess based off his taste in decor. As he pauses to take a breath, you finally take your chance to chime in-- “So how are you doing, Deimos.”

“And YOU!” Whoops. Maybe that wasn’t the best conversation starter. “How long has it been? What, are we not worth visiting unless some dumbass upstairs tripped and fell trying to climb up his fire escape drunk or something? I bet you’re here on a case now, huh? Huh? Didn’t even come and visit me just because we’re friends!” He jabs the neck of the bottle in your direction, and you wince.

“Yeah, uh… I mean, sort of. I’ve got a date--”

“Ugh, is she still doing that?” The bottle is, thankfully, returned to whatever bottomless void bottles are kept in. “I told her it’s no fucking use, but no one listens to me, even though my advice is great like, at least eighty-five percent of the time-- but anyway, like I said, you’re not even here to see me so I don’t know why I even bother--”
>>
No. 923488 ID: 11b5c9
File 155123683248.png - (232.21KB , 700x600 , lad61.png )
923488

Thankfully, the scolding that would have invariably gone on for another five minutes is interrupted by Deimos narrowing all of his eyes, and then yelling sharply.

“HEY! I’ve told you before, if you take the whole dish I’m gonna take your hand off with a drink stirrer!”

Though he continues to face you, one hand tapping the bar impatiently, the other raises over his shoulder so that the eye centered on the back can glare at someone across from you, behind him. When you peer up on your stool a little bit, you can see it’s the taller demon from the jukebox holding the little dish of raw meat snacks. Despite the virtual daggers Deimos is hitting him with, he’s grinning and wiggling his fingers in a coy little wave.

“Aww, oh nooooo!” From your position, the jukebox demon doesn’t seem particularly upset at all. “How did you see me? I totally thought I was sooooo sneaky!”

Half of Deimos’s eyes roll while the other half just close, like he’s trying to keep it together. “I’ll assume you’re trying to make a joke. You should get someone other than Sol to screen those before you try them out.” This whole situation is a little awkward, what with Deimos still mostly facing towards you as he yells. You try to subtly move to the next barstool so you’re not in the line of fire.

“Aw, don’t be so hard on him! He gave up his sense of humor for big muscles!” Given what you know about demons, this could be completely literal or another joke. Before the chatty jukebox demon can keep going, though-- and he certainly seems like he wants to-- he finally seems to notice you’re there and perks up. “Oh, hey! I totally wasn’t paying attention before, but are you a human?”

He must be asking for formality’s sake, since you look about as human as one can get in here. Not that you can imagine someone who just admitted that he hadn’t paid any attention to you on your first meeting being ‘formal’. You shout across the bar back at him. “Uh… yeah. Why?”

His face splits into a smirk before he holds up a finger-- not like you were going to go anywhere-- and then turns to talk to someone next to him. You can’t see very well with the lighting, but he seems to be gesturing over at you.

After a moment, he turns back to you, still smirking. “Little rude to not even tell your date you showed up, isn’t it? Off to a bad start, ahahaha! Anyway, byeeeee!” And off he goes back into the mess of people dancing.

Well, at least the entire afterlife knew about how terrible your love life was going.
>>
No. 923489 ID: 11b5c9
File 155123685278.png - (242.43KB , 700x600 , lad62.png )
923489

You pick up your drink and take a big, pensive swig just in time for someone to cough politely next to you. Great! Crushing it with the timing today. After doing that weird thing where you kind of crane your neck forward while finishing your sip to indicate that you were caught off-guard, you turn to face the source of the voice and find…

You’re not sure what league Amaranth thinks you’re dating in, but it’s apparently a high one. A tall demon with what seems to be a mass of snakes for hair smiles shyly down at you, wearing clothes that are absolutely much fancier than anything you own. Before you can bumble you way into a greeting, she’s already holding out her hand, proving that you’re outmatched in social competence as well.

“You must be A, right?” You nod, reaching forward to… oh, God. Should you shake her hand? Should you, like… kiss it? Would that be weird? You just shake it. Too much of a risk. “Amaranth told me to look for a human, but she didn’t tell me how cute you were, ehehe! I’ve really been looking forward to meeting you!”

Of course she’s smooth, too. You gather yourself and lean your elbow on the bar casually, shooting a quick glance Deimos’s way. He’s not standing right next to you anymore, but it’s obvious he’s watching with at least three eyes. ...He looks surprised, but you don’t have enough time to mull that one over. You turn back with as warm a smile as your stiff face can manage. “Yeah, that’s me. She didn’t, uh. Tell me anything about how… you look, either. So, you know. Nice surprise.” You have no idea if these are good lines you’re dropping, and her perpetual smile isn’t giving you much of a clue. “It’s Euryale, right?”

“Ehehe… right.” Euryale continues smiling and takes a seat on the barstool next to you, folding her hands neatly on her lap. “But ‘Eury’ is just fine. The full thing makes me sound so stuffy, don’t you think? Eheh.”

...Are you supposed to agree with that? It seems rude. “Eury, then. Looks like we both have nicknames, huh?”
>>
No. 923490 ID: 11b5c9
File 155123686894.png - (254.33KB , 700x600 , lad63.png )
923490

Eury’s eyes light up and she leans in a bit. “Oh, yes! I’ve heard about that thing humans do… to stop people from stealing your Life, right? What fun! I think it would be so exciting to have a little codename like that, eheh. Is it wholly practical, though? After all, it’s basically impossible to steal Life, isn’t it? Do you all just do it for formality’s sake, then?”

This isn’t really a tangent you were expecting to go on (and an ironic one, too, given the case you were supposed to be working right now). Eury looks excited, though, and this is at least something you can talk about. “Yeah, pretty much. People find it comforting, I guess. It’s a little more logical than wearing a mask, though… at least if you don’t carry ID with you. Wearing a mask is just like-- uh. Well, you know, who’s gonna go around stealing faces?” Who indeed.

“Oh! How interesting! I wonder if face-stealing was common at some point? Perhaps that’s where the masks came from! Can you imagine? It must be quite a lot of work to get a face off!” She holds her hands up in playful claws.

“...Right. I’d imagine-- well. You never know.” You take a sip of your drink before you start just unintentionally dishing about your weird case. Amaranth did mention that she might have ‘connections’, but it seemed a little… what was the word? Gauche. To just start talking about murders right here. You rifle through your rolodex of conversation starters, which has exactly two cards in it. “Uh-- so what is it you do?”

Eury’s eyes widen for a moment. You’d like to say you’re at least halfway decent at identifying emotions, and she seems surprised-- had she really thought you were going to be that bad at conversation or something? Either way, her smile remains constant as she waves a hand in the air with a flourish. “Oh! I’m a fashion designer. Just because we’re dead down here doesn’t mean we have to look the part, eheheh, don’t you think?”

“That’s pretty cool. ...Your outfit’s nice. Did you, uh, make it?” You’re really glad there’s so much to relate on here, you think, wearing clothes stolen from a much more fashionable friend.

Eury beams, nodding. “I did! Can you tell? I only like wearing original designs, eheh. Why trust someone else to do what you can do yourself?”

“Yeah. Good to be… self-assured like that.” It’s a perfectly fine sentiment, you figure. “...It looks pretty fancy. The dress.” The agreeable nodding continues.

...You’re not sure what to do next. The silence drags on for just a second too long, in your opinion, though at least your date doesn’t seem to care quite yet. Fumbling, you glance over at Deimos, who’s been weirdly hovering this whole time-- however, someone takes that moment to holler across the bar at him, and he immediately bristles and whirls around. It sounds like the guy who was arguing with him before you showed up is back. Silently, you curse this oblivious bar patron for indirectly leaving you abandoned.

At least their shouting is some nice ambient background noise... that makes it even more obvious that you don’t know what to say.
>>
No. 923492 ID: 270774

it can’t hurt to talk about Life a little more. she’s interested in it! and you just asked about her job, so now you can talk about yours, too. it’s something you at least know HOW to talk about
>>
No. 923495 ID: 23dc9d

You gotta indulge the stuff she seems really excited about! Life is a good thing to talk about more with her. Also ask to see more of her fashion designs whenever you two get the chance.
>>
No. 923496 ID: 158da5

You could admit that you've always had trouble keeping up with fashion and that you'd like to hear more about what she knows and is interested in when it comes to that.

Life might be a good choice to catch yourself if you run out of topics, though all that irony feels suspicious.
>>
No. 923497 ID: 60f677

maybe ask her for advice on fashion? tips to make your wardrobe cuter (with little effort)? tell her that her stole (shawl? w/e it's called) is cute, and it makes her markings stand out in a.. uh.. striking way! :D
>>
No. 923505 ID: 235ba5

ask her if shes interested in other parts of human culture too.
you're a human, so you should be knowledgeable about that, right?

...right?
>>
No. 923510 ID: 483287

oh my gosh she is so pretty. talk more about life and maybe your job! and ask what her favorite fashion trends are!
>>
No. 923785 ID: 6cf958

definitely talk about Life some more. She's interested in that and she wanted to date a human--maybe ask if she's dated humans before?
>>
No. 928128 ID: 235ba5

>>928127
i literally cannot believe somebody is trying to advertise here
>>
No. 928141 ID: 9876c4

>>928127
Whisper this in her ear, verbatim.


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