*communist bugs bunny meme* OUR space heater
Local Alastor secretly jailbreaks out of Hell and visits his qp partner’s other qp partner, funky fresh alien fish autocrat Valera (@autokrates) ! They ought to get to know each other better if they’re sharing an emotional support space heater, right? Time to chat it up, whine about their brainrot, and try to figure out the mutual partner situation.
Plot twist, they get along really well! Valera is very forthcoming and understanding. This is probably the most levelheaded and honest that local Alastor has been on this entire blog, as he has no choice but to be.
Alexa had made a point to tell Valera at that ~crab rave bbq~ that he ought to chat with her, when there were less people around, and by less, he meant none.
Does he consider making an entrance with the Trina Vega version of Chicago he has already psychically damaged Valera with? Yes. Does he also consider that psychological warfare is probably not the best way to start? Yes, yes he does. And thus, Valera is spared.
So! Cue one (1) sentient radio demon yeeting himself through the portal and onto Okkylk. Yes, he brought food. (He remembered that bit about Valera needing to eat more spinach or something and made spanakopita. It’s good if you don’t mind that it’s not authentic.)
The promised chat with her dear space heater's other cooling unit, gone from a nebulous Eventually to a Now. Good! Part of her had worried it was going to be one of those situations where people say they should get coffee when they meet at a party, and then studiously avoid each other until the next social get together forces them into the same vicinity... She's getting off track. Alexa is coming over!!
One (1) Radio Demon has been yeeted into Valera's home. With some weird food? What is that? What IS that??? Is that allowed? Well he brought it, so it's probably good, don't mind the curious sniffing. Sniff sniff. No. Go for the.. Handshake? Yeah. Manners. Those would be a good idea. Acing this social thing already.
Do you think he's fazed that the sniffing came first? No. He's far more invested in the reception of the food than the social pleasantries. The intrigue is appreciated! Shaking hands is so /routine/, okay, we're doing this. He is, shockingly, in a calm mood -- well, calm for a Radio Demon.
He's just going to set the tray down in offering, and take one for himself. "I won't be offended if you dislike it. Ideally you won't, but I imagine cooking food palatable to Veci will involve a learning curve." What was it that she couldn’t taste again? He couldn’t remember.
Handshake completed, social obligations met. Time to pick up a piece of this.. Pie? Is this a plant pie? She holds it between two fingers, pinkie stuck way out as she sniffs her slice more intently. “Is this.. This is spinach, right?” Or was this lettuce. She had a hard time remembering her Earth plants. Either way, it was a plant and thus the enemy. But she had to eat it. For manners, and for Elizabeth.
A cautious nibble… Oh, it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. It wasn’t meat by any means, but it had some kind of filling that she could enjoy around the bitter plant taste, and the crust was a nice texture. “What is this called? It’s weird. Good weird, I like it.”
He’d found Seapup’s behavior to be a bit catlike, and with Valera sniffing for information, he was registering that as catlike behavior as well. Thusly, with a sample size of n=2, our amateur scientist has decided that Veci have some sort of feline ancestry, or are cats in fish body, or something like that. Makes sense.
Oh good, it’s well-received! “Spinach indeed. The least offensive of the leaves, in my humble, expert opinion." The trolling itch is peeking through with a line like that, isn't it. "Glad you like it! It's called spanakopita; it's Greek cuisine." Which he is very much not, but Marina partially is, and he's been trying his hand at a vegan version for her. (That’s personal growth!) Valera's food is respectable and has feta cheese with it, though.
Veci are just fish cats. He is feeding spinach to a 7'2" interdimensional fish cat.
"Spanakopita.. Gods, that sounds almost EXACTLY like some old Vafatalion slang." She just says this, and offers zero elaboration. Maybe Alexa would like to HEAR what this slang is? Perhaps? No of course not, time to move on. Starting with sitting down and cursing her guest with the sight of her excitedly wiggling in place. A fish doing a whole little hip wiggle on the couch.
"Before I start into anything, should I call you Alastor since it's just us two, or do you prefer Alexa? Maybe not the best question, but!" A shrug. “It’s right to start with the basics, I think? Since we’ve barely spoken?”
He just kind of, blinks, and figures he can ask later. He is going to hear a lot of words he doesn’t understand, he presumes -- he’ll pick those battles to avoid consistently derailing conversation. It is time to sit down and share the snack! Wiggles are good! That’s feedback, babey! He has no real frame of reference for what ‘normal’ Veci behavior is, Valera can go apeshit and he wouldn’t think twice.
“Alastor, if you don’t mind, though I'm not strongly opposed to the nickname. A fine question -- I thank you for checking.” Had they really only barely spoken? He'd just made it a habit of showing up to her place to spend time with his space heater, huh. Incredible. "We can start wherever you like, Valera. Actually, do you prefer Val?"
"I don't mind at all! And..." She hums. "I say you can just call me Valera, Val is just a nickname. Though I guess while we're on the subject? I also accept Era, with a bit less enthusiasm. Some people associate "Val" with Valentino of porn studio fame." Look at that face scrunch. Either she wasn't a fan of the man himself, or the association. Maybe both.
"Do you want anything to drink, before I eat all of this? Tea? Coffee? I promise we have more than my terrible decafs and herbal drinks." Alastors usually hated tea, but who is she to assume? Maybe Alexa liked the hot leaf water.
“Sure! Valera it is." That face scrunch is returned right back. "Yes, that's, that's my husband's employer." And he gives a thin-lipped smile at that. He is also not a fan, but going straight into shit-talk feels like a strong way to start a conversation. So he will just. Sit there.
“If it’s not too much trouble, I’ll take coffee, black. Would you like a hand?” It felt like an asshole move to shoot down her hospitality, but it also felt like an asshole move to have an eggnant person bother herself with coffee for him, oh geez, he’s starting to overthink this and get in his head. Stop that!
Her fins twitch, face blanking for a moment as she processes the question. A hand... Not literally, surely, so... Oh, he's offering to help make the drink, right!!! She grins, eyes scrunching up into half moons as she purrs. "How sweet of you to offer, Alastor, but there's no need!" Nothing beat coffee made by hand, but when you're too lazy to get up yourself? Magic.
There's a few shuffles and clinks from a few rooms away, and two mugs drift into the room. None of that delicate fine china, just good sturdy ceramic, though they had slogans printed on them. Hers was a tasteful "I ❤️ murder", his was "I stole this mug". Fantastic.
Veci are large cats, confirmed.
Okay, alright, hello, fellow magic user! The clinking catches him off-guard until he quickly understands. Minor hospitality crisis, averted! (Besides what is the point of magic if you can't use it to make food and drinks when you don't feel like getting up?)
He loves the mug. He loves her mug. He thinks Valera is hilarious. He will try the Veci coffee now.
“It’s good. Thank you kindly~” He’s decided to be extra as fuck, and holds his mug out to clink like they’re doing ‘cheers!’. He hasn’t made a toast to anything. He’s really just like this.
Hello indeed. Did he not know Valera used magic? Maybe he didn’t. But that hardly mattered now, there was a social opportunity at hand! Her mug clinks against his, tea and coffee getting dangerously close to meeting before she pulls away to blow on her beverage. No teafee today, thank you.
“I’m glad you like it, my good fellow! Coffee isn’t something we’re particularly known for, but I’ve found if you blend a little of the Earth stuff into our equivalent, the tastes blend pretty well. Really helps cut down on how much of the stuff I have to buy to keep up with all the coffee drinkers in the estate. I’d never thought humans would be so attached to the stuff!” Sip……. Ugh. Chamomile, the la croix of teas. But she drinks, and takes another bite of her food. Infinitely better flavor on the latter, thank you Alexa for her life.
“So! You’re married to an Angel Dust, and in a.. Thing with Leal! That sounds both fun and hectic. How did you wind up married to Hell’s number one porn star AND cuddling up with our dearly beloved furnace?”
He probably did know, but it hadn’t stored in his memory this long. Many things did not store in his memory, probably because brains weren’t meant to hold all the memories of a lifetime and after-lifetime, and he'd run out of space. That, or he’d coke-fried it to the point he held memories like swiss cheese. (This is going to be a pattern.)
Clink! "Coffee is nearly necessary for many humans to function -- I don't know how I'd go without it." He'd do more coke, but he's not going to say that.
"I see my reputation as a Casanova precedes me!" Alastor, please. "Oh, Angel is a gem. I wish I had an elaborate story to tell you, Valera -- a tale of great passion! intrigue! desire! -- but I don't. It's simple, really -- we became acquainted at the hotel, he charmed me enough that I wanted to put a ring on it, and I allegedly won him over enough that he accepted. And now, we're thwarting the Infernal Revenue Service." Which was a nicer way of saying I offered him a ring impulsively to troll a mutual friend, and commit tax evasion.
"As for Leal," Oh, give him a second. That Thing has left his chest cavity thrumming with more static than usual. He's a private person, and being forthcoming about something this personal feels weird, but trolling Valera on this feels a bit out of the question. "I'm not quite sure! It simply happened. That’s how it is, sometimes. But say, you're also my comrade in being-married-and-having-a-Thing arms. Tell me about that."
Alastor certainly had a way of speaking about things that made it sound like he was telling you more than he was. Or maybe just left itself open to very generous interpretations.. No, she was overthinking it. Not everyone was a politician. Valera nods along, taking tiny sips of too hot tea to wash down her plant pie. "Thwarting the Infernal Revenue Service is a worthy cause in and of itself, Alastor. If I had to worry about taxes I'd just grab whichever friend was closest and marry them... Or, would have, if I didn't have Penny."
Which is a good way to lead into answering his question, how nice. The mug is taken into both hands, fins drooping slightly as she looks into the depths of her tea. Embarrassed? Perhaps a little flustered. "Ah, well. My husband didn't exactly sweep me off my feet. I met him briefly on the dashboard. No surprise, he'd been causing problems and making enemies pretty freely. But..." A sigh. Ugh, being GENUINE was HARD. "I was curious."
She shifts in place, the hand not gripping the mug's handle moving to rub her stomach. Eelizzy wishes to be included, apparently. Wait for your TURN child. "So I invited him over for tea, and he turned out to be... Ugh. *Endearing*. He's always moving, always making noise. He's like a living stim toy. Before I even *realized* it, I'd decided I wanted to keep him around. Gods and kings have tried to court me! But the one that actually caught my eye was the crumpled tissue of a man with no inside voice who calls my friends whores and accused me of seducing him to steal his traits!!!" HUFF!!
“... Anyway he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Life is more interesting with him around. And Leal just. Decided to move into my house one day when he learned I was carrying. We were friends before then, but nothing like we are now.. Such things happen, I guess!”
Wasn’t she the cutest! (He has decided the alien fish autocrat, who stands taller than him, is full of neurotoxins, and could kick his ass behind a Voxmart, is the cutest. Oh right, there’s a pattern here). Look at her, all embarrassed and huffy and flustered about love. It’s sweet! It’s got a refreshing degree of self-awareness that the brainrotted romantics don’t have, and it’s adorable, she’s the cutest we are keeping this!!
“Valera, that’s sweet. That’s a lovely story. You’ll have to explain that bit about stealing traits and all. I’ve only spoken to your husband a handful of times, but he seems charming.” That was a way of saying well, he got me to drink gasoline from a champagne glass, he seems alright.
Valera’s own open-ness was making Alexa feel a bit more forthcoming. “My situation is admittedly very different from yours -- but I relate, in that my husband didn’t sweep me off my feet, either! In no part due to any lack of qualifications on his end! I simply have too much inertia to be swept, or spun, or swung, or what-have-you, very far -- but he’s a good friend, and a strong competitor in psychological warfare.” He raised his mug as cheers, I’ll drink to that, bro, and took a sip. “I’m just here for the ride, as long as it lasts.”
“Leal is... very thoughtful. He certainly has a way of... showing up and happen-stance-ing his way in.” Into your physical space, into your chest cavity. And now it was Alastor’s turn to look down and cover his lightly flushing face. The brainrot of it all! It was hard to talk about in a genuine manner! He felt insane!
Alexa's response is met with an embarrassed chuckle, but her eyes flick back up to him at the positive reception. It was always risky, talking about feelings to a new person, especially one she cared about the opinion of. She wanted him to like her! She wanted to be friends SO badly. The positive feedback warms her innards as much as the tea.
She grins as Alexa elaborates on his own relationship with his spouse, returning the unspoken cheers and taking a gulp of her own drink. It sounded remarkably.. Well, believable. Apt, perhaps. Just the kind of thing she could have imagined. Not half bad an arrangement, really. Friends, joined in tax benefits and causing problems for everyone else. "That's a bit less schmoopy than my nonsense, but it sounds like you've got a good friend in him! I'm glad for you. I hope that your marriage, and Leal, make things as fun and interesting for you they have for me."
Oh, what a sigh she just made. Long, wistful, a sigh of yearning. Now she wants their space heater there with them so she can give him a squeeze. Alas.... "Ugh, just talking about Leal makes me want to kiss him. It's so nice but at the same time!! I hate it!! Love is evil in every form! Alastor we’re cursed!!!"
“Thank you -- I sure do! I’m fortunate in both regards. They keep it lively, albeit in very different ways.” He laughs warmly, and takes another sip of his coffee, before setting it down. Oh man, he’s not used to anyone wanting to be friends with him, so any visible sentiment is lost on him. But hey! He wants to be friends with Valera, too.
Valera is really out here, putting words to the feelings, huh. She's really doing that. It's not like Alastor can just lie and disagree for cover, and he can’t go off-air to avoid the subject, as he’s physically present. (He contemplates making a break for it and hauling ass through the portal.)
He opts to sigh dramatically, extend himself dramatically on the couch, and gesture even more dramatically. “Mhmm. Mhmm. Mhmm. Mhmm.” Look at him, talking about his feelings. He also wants to be in the warm, calming embrace of his beloved. He also wants to kiss his beloved (but that is their inconsequential secret, so he won’t say it, even if Valera probably already knows).
“Valera, my brain hasn’t threatened to leak out of my ears like this in decades. What is this madness? And I’m expected to function? Hel-lo! Can no one see that I am afflicted with an ailment?”
Alastor’s internal anguish is lost on Valera even as she appreciates his theatrics. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Veci are, as a culture, incredibly straightforward and unashamed of their feelings. It barely ever occurs to her that other people may not be so comfortable expressing themselves, and when it does she thinks its stupid and tells them as much. A bit of an acquired taste to this fish, a few little flaws to work around for the emotionally withdrawn.
That said, she is deeply sympathetic to his anguish. A beacon of limitless empathy, just look at the way she’s grinning into her drink. Or don’t, you might see her mischief face. “An ailment is right! I can’t believe he had the audacity to waltz into our lives and just! Curse us! I was suffering enough feeling soft for my husband and then…” A dramatic toss of her hair, voice lowering an octave as she does her best Leal Impression. Which is both quite easy and rather hard, considering they share the same trans-atlantic accent. “Hell-o! I see you have an opening available in your brain for me to move into! Oh, you don’t? Well I can fix that! Just a little touch of brain rot will do the trick! Beautiful, my bags will be in the lobby by morning, sweetheart!”
She is VERY offended and VERY huffy. The PICTURE of an inconvenienced dame. But she ruins it almost immediately by giggling and covering her face. “Oh, that was embarrassing, ignore me.”
“You poor thing! Still reeling from the emotional affliction your husband caused, and he saunters in to do more! Unbelievable!”
He’s wheezing at the impression. It’s got an uncannily accurate quality to it. She’s hilarious, she’s adorable, it takes everything he has not to toss an arm around her. (He is naturally a very tactile person, but he is behaving!) “Oh, you’re an absolute darling.”
“I understand, a bit! Like I wasn’t dealing with my own marriage brainrot when he carved a space out where my frontal lobe should be.” There we go, one of those DIY lobotomies he ran his mouth about. Granted, that aforementioned brainrot was more just, straight up psychic damage from Angel, -- in combination with figurative blood rushing back to dormant limbs when it came to learning how to make a friend again. It freaked him out, and Leal had gone that’s free real estate!
Oh! A darling, is she? Well, that’s positive feedback if she’s ever heard it, and her fingers spread so she can peek over at Alexa with a grin before pulling her hands away to clasp under her chin. Turns out alien fish can have dimples in their cheeks, who knew! Purr purr, is her tail wiggling a little? Why yes it is. She’ll just curl that around herself a little tighter, lest she accidentally wind up flopping the thing far enough to reach him.
“He could smell it on us, I swear.” Time to pick the tea back up from where she abandoned it, leaning towards him a little. That’s friendly body language, right? Leaning in? Or was that a threat for humans… No. It was fine, probably. “Still, I can’t say I mind it. Not only is he a delight, but he’s the reason I met you! And so far, I have to say, if I’m a darling? So are you!. I’d love to hang out with you more often, you seem very fun. Maybe I’ll see about causing chaos in your neck of the woods sometime, eh? With permission, of course. My jokey jokes are meant to be entertaining.”
Alastor has diagnosed Valera as babey. Unbelievable. He’s grinning like an idiot, but he’s normally grinning, it makes him kind of hard to read, probably? Friendly body language is good! He’s been a bit resocialized at this point, he’s fine!
“And now, I have to wonder what I’m giving off that made him sniff me out!” He is still lying dramatically on the couch. Look at those manners! Not resocialized enough, apparently. He blinks. He is still not used to any of those sentiments. Someone please tell all of Hell that he’s a darling, because they clearly missed the memo. Give him a second, he needs to process!
“Oh, you’re too kind! I’d be thrilled to frequent your company, Valera, whether here or home -- consider yourself welcome to my neck of the woods for shenanigans anytime! Well, anytime I’m not engrossed in work. Which is a fine segue into the subject of jailbreak -- you’re welcome to my neighborhood, but under no circumstances can anyone from my Hell know I’m visiting yours.”
Who needs to be socialized when you can just be a fool on a couch, pining for your missing beloved with said beloved’s other beloved? Perfectly normal set of circumstances here, an extremely appropriate time to be swooning. Valera’s tail even lifts to fan him gently, his dramatic display finally complete.
“Oh, mums the word on that front, I completely understand. Does that include Marina? I assume so, but I want to be sure before I go casually inviting you over through her blog.” Which makes inviting him over a little more challenging, but she can figure it out. Code words, or just. Using a radio like she was taught to. Shouldn’t be too hard. And if all else fails, the trusty pen and paper letter should suffice.
The beloveds are VIBING! Alexa BASKS in that fanning! They are on the same dramatic, pining wavelength and it’s lovely. He swoons exaggeratedly, sighing in Valera’s direction. Sometimes you just need someone you can broadcast your abject brainrot to!
“Oh, yes, it does. Thank you for understanding. This goes for Angel as well. I don’t believe you’ve met him, but he makes the occasional appearance on the voxblr.” And causes Alexa to live in fear of being cyberbullied every day. “I’m adamant that there be no electronic trail -- it’s too dangerous. Letters, a shout through the radio, or correspondence via our beloved, should all be fine.”
The Beloveds are vibing over being GAY and WISTFUL and OVERLY DRAMATIC. Theatrical clowns that they are, no wonder Leal snagged them both. “I should thank you for the heads up, my deer fellow!” She laughs, curling up on the couch as much as her stomach allows. “I completely understand the avoidance. I know in many Hells, Vox is still a major problem. Or, I assume that’s your reasoning. Which, related, have you SEEN Ruddy’s Hell? The sheer lack of Vox advertising is so weird...”
He’s laughing too, and pointedly sits up a bit, he wants to get back to his coffee before it cools down. Oh, Vox, he makes a face at that. “He’s quite the pest -- don’t get me started on the state of entertainment these days!” He will go on a full anticapitalist rant if you let him. He will. “I have not been to Ruddy’s Hell yet, though I’d be happy to if he invites me over. I’m also inclined to meet my alternate there. He seems a bit more off his rocker than the rest of us.”
Her tail flumps down with a weighty thud, dragging back to Valera’s little area to curl on the floor beneath her. Very polite, no tripping hazards here. “Maybe I WANT to get you started, Alastor! From what I’ve seen, you’ve got a lot of very clever words stored in that noggin of yours, and I’d like to hear them from the man himself.” A snort, and then she shakes her head.
“I’ve met your alternate from Ruddy’s universe. I went over with Leal to visit the big old snake man and he was just there. But..” It feels weird talking about someone behind their back, even though all the information seemed like public knowledge, locally. “Apparently he went on a second rampage. And fairly recently at that. I think he killed his Vaggie, but he says he doesn’t remember doing it.”
“I’m flattered you think my anticapitalist raving is worth an audience. It is, of course,” and he sips his coffee. And he’d pop off if the lore Valera just dropped didn’t grab his attention with full force.
“A second rampage. How recently? What prompted it? One could only dream!” To knock the existing overlords out of power, get rid of VVV and the other asinine band of fools who’d risen amidst the power vacuum! Not with this lower back pain, babey!
“What do you mean, he killed her? The only way to get rid of us is through extermination, or holy weapons.” He didn’t particularly like the Vaggie of his universe, but he had no pressing desire to erase her. What had happened? The more he learned about his alternate, the more concerned he became.
“Oh, uh. Why? I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that? But then again, I heard it from Leal, so he’d tell you too..” She shrugs. “Apparently, after a few months of ignoring the destruction of Cannibal Colony, he just lost it? Or something like that. According to Leal anyway. He wanted to talk to Rosie about something, realized he couldn’t, and then that was it.”
Valera taps her lips, face screwing up. “Admittedly, I don’t know much. This is secondhand, or. Third hand? Third hand knowledge. Maybe he has an angelic weapon? Maybe he just maimed her so horribly she never went back to the hotel? I don’t really know. But nobody will talk to him anymore, so he just fixates on Ruddy since he’s the only person around willing to call him a pain in the ass and not flinch. That last part is my assumption, he didn’t say that.”
“Ah. Pentious had mentioned that the Cannibal Colony had been destroyed.” Now Alexa was leaning forward, elbows propped up on his knees and his face in his hands. “It adds up. Grief." He didn’t want to think about his local neighborhood being destroyed. It was one of the few places in Hell he could be where his existence wasn’t overtly unwanted.
The uprooting, the social trauma of infamy all over again -- no wonder his alt was behaving as if detached from reality. And Alastor suddenly felt very, very uncomfortable about having found any of his alternate’s ‘buffoonery’ worthy of mockery.
“I’m worried about him, Valera.”
Valera frowns, shoulders hunching in as her fins droop. You’ll never see a sadder fish than this, ladies and gentleman, at least not one so upset on someone else’s behalf. “I am too. I’ve never gone through anything like that, but.. That sounds so lonely.”
Was it weird to discuss an alternate’s emotional state with someone who shared his face? Maybe. But Alastor seemed to agree with her, and if they were both concerned.. “Leal feels the same way we do. He offered to get the man in touch with some alternates. He probably meant you. Do you.. Think you could talk to him? That might be a big ask, but I think having other people to talk to might be good.”
“Mm.” The Radio Demon existence is a lonely one, but he won’t outright say it right now. Alexa, at least, is able to sit on a couch with his beloved’s beloved, chatting like they’re old friends -- he has said beloved, the rest of his alternates, his husband, his alternate’s local Angel he keeps doing hot girl shit with, Neri, the radio kids, his new friend Ruddy --
He’s not very lonely these days, is he? He has all this, and his alt has nothing.
And it’s not every day that someone who doesn’t share his face is expressing concern over an alternate. “Of course I will. Talking with him is the least I could do. I can’t predict how that will go, but I’m willing to try.”
"Thank you, Alastor. I would talk to him myself, but Leal wants me to keep a little distance until he knows how his alternate will react around me." She gestures at her stomach, huffing softly. "And as much as I dislike the whole 'you're in a delicate state' argument, I can't deny he has a point. I'd hate to put my baby at risk just because I didn't let the alternates who’d know his mindset better than I would try to talk to the man. As of now, he’s an unknown, even if I want to believe the best."
A moment of hesitation, a biting of the lip. And she leans in again, like she's about to share a secret. "There's.. Something else, though. He stopped smiling. Only for a second, but I saw it. So did Leal. This man isn't okay. I don’t think Ruddy even realizes how not okay he is. But I don’t know if anyone should tell him? Would it be wrong to ask him to have a little patience, try to be kinder to his Alastor?" Help her, Alexa, this is a judgement call way above her non-radio-demon paygrade.
“Leal is right.” Alastor’s tone leaves little room for argument. “We don’t know enough about him, and we can be an unpredictable lot. You’re kind, Valera. You ought to keep your distance for now.”
And for a moment, Alastor needs to think again.
“I don’t know Pentious well, nor am I interested in testing the limits of his empathy.” Another pause. Talking about his alternates without disclosing information about himself he doesn’t want disclosed is tricky. “... revealing how ‘not okay’ someone is, opens them up to exploitation on that front. Moreover, he isn’t Pentious’s responsibility. I want to test the water more before unintentionally causing my alternate more harm than good.”
Ugh, being spoken to with sense. By two different Alastors, at that! Both a relief and an irritant. But he’s right, she’s got no business acting reckless when it’s more than just herself at risk. She accepts his almost-scold with a nod and a sigh, smoothing her hands over her stomach. Happy, Eelizzy? This is for you, kiddo!
And then he has to go and talk sense again. Yes, that was a risk.. She hadn’t even considered that. “Good call, come to think of it. I know Ruddy is kind of soft towards any girl asking him to do something, that’s how I got him to get along with Penny. But his Alastor may be a little bit beyond that kind of indulgence. And I don’t want to risk Alastor-- Ruddy’s local Alastor, getting hurt. Ruddy is lovely, but he’s an opportunist to the core.”
“I noticed as much, he’s been pleasant towards Marina from the beginning. I gathered that he had daughters in life. Unfortunately for our lot, none of us pass as cute girls -- getting into his good graces is a bit more challenging. One doesn’t achieve what he has without being an opportunist.”
Alexa had somehow managed to be on good terms with Ruddy. Either he was that charming, or he exuded cute girl energy. “I ought to ask, by the way, and I realize this may be intrusive -- is it fair to refer to you as a girl? I don’t know much about Veci gender.” Not even in the slightest. He couldn’t even tell you if Veci were sexually dimorphic, much less get into the nebulousness of gender.
Oh, this was a good change of subject! Much better than fretting over an Alastor that neither of them knew past, at best, a passing interaction. She perks right up, chirruping as her fins flick back to their upright position. “Not invasive at all, don’t worry! It’s fair to refer to me as a girl, if that’s what makes sense to you. I know that by human standards my aesthetic preferences lean towards feminine, but the concept of a hardset gender doesn’t exist in our society.”
She flicks her tail, gesturing towards her whole self. Behold, Alastor, none gender left fish. “We don’t even really have set… Uh. Sexes? We just kind of wiggle around in the ‘whatever is convenient and works for our partner’ territory if we have any reproductive system going at all. Some of us have preferences, but that’s pretty much as far as it goes. It’s all aesthetics, otherwise.”
“Hm, alright.” Give him a second to get the bit about no fixed gender. It’s an unusual concept, but hey, he’s talking to an alien. He’s in the mindset to just accept things without entirely understanding them.
That is a big tail. That tail could probably crush him. He thinks it’s a neat tail.
He’s not going to ask about Veci reproductive systems, that’s invasive, he doesn’t really care all that much, and he’s not going to open himself up to questions on the topic. Still, how intriguing! “Are Veci naturally shapeshifters, then? Humans aren’t, not without the use of magic. Or, surgery, I suppose.” Surgery is the human compensation for our inability to shapeshift,confirmed.
It IS a neat tail, she’d surely preen if she knew what he thought. As it stands though, she just nods along and curls her tail back under herself as she listens to Alastor speak and ask his questions. Hmmhmm~
“We are! The levels of talent vary, but we all have some ability to change our shapes and travel between realities.” And now to remember her manners and turn it around on him. “What about you? Should I assume that you’re a man, or is there a nuance to your identity?”
“How fascinating!” Oh, to be a shapeshifting alien who could hop around realities!
And he blinks at that, because he can’t remember the last time someone asked him something like that. “Thank you for your consideration on the matter! I say the audience ought to consider me a gentleman, and let the backstage crew concern itself with backstage matters.” As with the details of his sexual and romantic (dis)affinities, his personal relationship to gender fell under the category of no one’s business.
About as cagey an answer as she expected, but fair enough. She nods and reaches down for her mug, refilling it with a quick gesture of her free hand. Very good then!
“I get that. My apologies, that was invasive to ask.” A quick little handwave to dismiss the whole affair, and she forcefully jumps to another topic. “Anyway! Let me ask something ELSE wildly invasive. Is there anything we need to discuss about our mutual beloved? Boundaries you need to set for your own comfort? I ask for your boundaries because.. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I tend to be pretty lax about people knowing most things about me.”
“Nothing to apologize for; it’s a thoughtful question and I asked first.” A handwave of his own. Maybe he’d come off more curt than he had intended.
“I’d been meaning to discuss our beloved as well!” At least someone here is re-railing his train of thought. Well! Is he being called out for being a private person? Might as well tackle that head-on. “Let me ask how much you care to know about my end of it. Don’t misunderstand, it’s nothing personal against you, you’re a delight -- such things are more private for me. But, who knows! I might feel the need to commiserate over mutual brain rot.”
“Oh! Hmm..” She taps her fingers on her chin, looking up towards the ceiling as she mulls the question over. How much did she care to know, really? Well… “I don’t mind if you want to keep things private between you and Leal, but if you ever want to chatter about any nonsense, I am more than happy to sit with you like this and commiserate our brain rot or whatever!”
Back to grinning, then! “I trust you and Leal, and I want you to be comfortable. I won’t take it personally if that means you need to keep boundaries up! Promise.”
Oh. Good. That was easy. He didn’t expect the sense of relief that hit him, but the matter had been weighing on him a bit. “Thank you for understanding, Valera. Of course, if it involves or affects you, it’s fair game. Aside from that, it’s up to whatever our mutual wants to share -- I’ll talk to him.” Leal was, after all, the one in the middle of this.
And now it’s Alastor’s turn! “Of course, consider the same courtesy extended to you. I don’t need to know anything that doesn’t affect me. Conversely, if you want a confidante to gush to, I’m here. And no apologies! Don’t think I don’t see you apologizing on the voxblr -- there are worse things in life than finding good love.”
Oh gods, she’s been called out in her OWN HOME. The snort he startles out of her is one of both amusement and surprise, the hand not clutching her mug covering her face as she giggles. Oh no.
“Eheh… I guess I do, yeah.” Ahem. Cough. “I’m afraid most of my.. Associates? Friends? Former friends? Who even knows anymore. Have some feelings about romance. Or just think I’m being kind of ridiculous. Too much? I suppose I’ve gotten into the habit of trying to minimize the chance of anyone getting annoyed at me.” Look at the way she ducks her head down, fingers twining together nervously. Embarrassed fish…. “But! I appreciate it. Thank you.”
“I see.” And he doesn’t say more beyond that -- he's a romantically disinclined person who does tire out, eventually, at that sort of talk. Valera hasn’t even begun to wear him out yet, and it seems a bit cruel to shut a happy friend down, but to each their own. And he’s definitely not going to tell her how to handle her friends. They’re her friends. He doesn’t know anything about them or Veci culture on the matter.
“Well then! You carry yourself however you see fit -- as long as you know you don’t need to do that with me.” Oh, she’s babey. “Is there anything else you’d like to discuss regarding our mutual beloved?”
Valera’s fins flutter, eyes snapping back to Alastor. Yes! Better subject, that gives her something else to focus on before she starts getting too caught up thinking about her own friendships. She’ll worry about it later. “I don’t think so? But I’ll be honest, I’ve never been in a.. Relationship? Like this? I’m still trying to figure out what NEEDS to be discussed! I barely even know how to be married right, having a mutual platonic partner with another person is even more out there.”
She chuckles. “Like, Penny and I having a child has already gotten complicated! Leal’s decided he’s a third caretaker, what does that make you? Nothing? A bizarre uncle in the wings? I don’t know! That’s for us to figure out!”
Look at those fins! Very expressive, very entertaining to watch. “I don’t know, either! It’ll figure itself out on its own. If it reassures you at all, this wouldn’t be my first rodeo as an honorary wacky uncle.”
“If I’m being honest--” and this isn’t news, this is something he’s been fine broadcasting, “-- I’ve been going stag for the past nine decades! -- Up until I decided to get hitched--” in a sham marriage composed of mutual psychic damage, “-- and acquire a ‘secret lover’ not much later.” Secret lover sounds much more dramatic than platonic partner. He probably hasn’t even heard the term ‘platonic partner’ in this context yet, but it makes enough sense that he doesn’t have any questions about it.
The point stands. He has no idea what he’s doing, either.
“We’re in very similar circumstances, my good fellow. I’m glad I’m stuck on this boat with you, at least. Imagine trying to share with someone you couldn’t stand at all!” Tik tik tik, she clicks her claws on her mug. Very satisfying, very good stim. “If you want to be a wacky uncle, you’re more than welcome to take up the role. I’ve every confidence that you can handle a baby without burning Hell down around their fins. Or at least making it entertaining.”
A finger lifts. “Though! If that is going to happen, I should probably tell you in advance that Veci babies are very prone to biting. And clinging. You’ve seen Pelagios, he’s a very typical pup. You’d basically be stuck with a weird fish cat latched onto your side demanding meat by making noises at you.”
“The sentiment is mutual.” He lifts his mug again as a toast to that, and takes another sip of coffee. “I say we cross that bridge when we get there, though I’m honored to be considered for the position -- and in your confidence! You have my word I’ll make the chaos entertaining.” Right now he’s chatting casually, but once he’s back home, it’ll hit that he hasn’t been an honorary wacky uncle in a very, very long time, and he’s missed it.
“Mhmm, I’ve spent time with that little darling, he’s often clinging to my alternate.” Is that Seapup’s name? Right, he wouldn’t actually be named Seapup. What a lovely name for the little orange menace. “Not an ideal scenario if I’m in Hell working, but if I’m visiting here, it’s more than tolerable. Is the biting venomous?”
A toast in turn! “He adores Leal almost as much as Leal adores him, yes. I fear that they’re completely inseparable.” She snickers. It’s cute! And it was even cuter watching it happen in real time, Leal going from cautiously handling the carrot boy to deciding hey, this is his now, bye.
“The biting isn’t venomous, no! Our toxins don’t really kick in until our teens, during the first bout of… Uh. The equivalent of puberty? Fish puberty. Where all the magic and biology goes absolutely haywire all at once and you might shoot up two feet and suddenly cast fireballs because you’re in a bad mood.” She looks away…. Fish puberty was rough for everyone. Sip.
"I’ve noticed he’s good with children. It’s quite endearing, I don’t think I’ve seen another one of my alternates with that affinity.” Maybe he just hadn’t been around them in the right context?
“Fish puberty.” Give him a second. Sure, all animals probably(?) hit puberty? right? but casting fireball isn’t something he remembers learning about in biology class. “I see! Well! Sounds eventful!” More than human puberty, but he’s not going to bring that up lest Valera starts asking questions, and then he’s got to dance around the subject of dicks. “Well, as long as the kids aren’t venomous, I can handle biting. Not to worry.”
“I know… Don’task? I don’t have a nickname for him, he hates nicknames, wants to be included in Eelizzy’s life in some capacity. Though I’ve got no idea how involved he intends to be, it’s the child of his best friend, not a partner or anything.” Not to mention the tension between her and him, but that wasn’t worth mentioning here. She shrugs.
“”Not venomous! And I don’t think Pelagios will get any venom later in life. Despite being a relative of mine, he’s a very distant one, and his parents weren’t anything special. Eelizzy on the other hand… Well. I have antivenoms I can offer you for when the time is upon us.”
Oh!! Oh dang how had she forgotten??? She snaps her fingers with a dramatic gasp. “Oh! Speaking of!! I should ask how you feel about physical contact, huh? I mean, no matter what you say I’ll still need to give you some antitoxins just in case. Being in any kind of close quarters to me could get you accidentally poked by my fins, and I am quite deadly.”
“Sure, sure.” He just registers all of that -- that Alastor Dontask is best friends with Penny (maybe he knew that and had forgotten? it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t feel any type of way about it), that Pelagios is a distant relative, and that Valera is fatally venomous, he’s at risk of that, and now he has to disclose something about his relationship to physical contact, something that took months to tell Angel,
This is the part where Alexa realizes he's in deep.
Sure, this has been fun, but none of this is normal, even by his standards. Up until this point, he’s been game to go along with whatever he needs to for his alternate, but this really is getting to be a lot. He’s in the middle of an infernally banned jailbreak, to chat with an alien fish about a slew of topics he’d never have a forthcoming conversation about otherwise, and now they’re discussing antivenom like this is a casual EpiPen situation. Yeah.This is a lot.
(This is the part where he should leap off of the couch and hurtle through the portal back to hell -- where he should thank Valera for her time, kiss Leal goodbye, and pull off a disappearing act. Thank every single person involved in his resocialization at this point, or he would, point-blank, attempt this in the next five seconds.)
And thank goodness he has a poker face and that smile up. “Can’t say I’m a fan!” Look at that chipper, upbeat, very Alastor response. “No, no, with the exception of alternates, I can not say I’m a fan of physical contact. Not a fan of toxins, either -- no offense.”
On some level, deep down, Valera is pretty certain that she’s pushing the limits on what she can get away with asking about. Alastor had already stated his desire for privacy, she’d learned things from him that she knew he didn’t want people knowing. But! Unfortunately, such things must be asked. Or that’s how she justified it, anyway. But when he finally speaks, she simply nods, smiles, and gives what is meant to be a reassuring fin waggle.
“I’m not either! No worries there. I have my two or three people that can touch me without my soul feeling like it's withering, and the rest I try to tolerate. Though gods only know the rhyme or reason behind who is okay or not.” A shrug, and she empties her mug. “You probably shouldn’t be a fan of toxins, so that’s good to hear! No offense taken. Leal should have some leftover antitoxin pills he can offer you, if the situation ever arises, and I carry some around for emergencies. You should be alright.”
And then she moves on, frilly little finger waves as she sends her drained mug back to the kitchen to swap out for something else. Oh, a finger sandwich. Of course. “Are there any questions you wanted to ask me? I realize I’m dominating the conversation here.”
It’s reassuring enough. Leal hadn’t been kidding when he’d said Valera was like them. Maybe the touch-aversion curse was part of the asexual or aromantic package. That’s some helpful information, actually!
“Sure, good to know! I’ll want my own stash, of course -- once again, I appreciate your consideration. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” (He is not sure it will be fine.) If she forgot hers one day, he wasn’t going through a surprise Venom Bottoming 2: Electric Boogaloo.
He’s just going to munch on the spanakopita before it all goes cold. “I don’t have any questions at the moment, you’ve answered everything -- though I’m sure more will come up later! I will bug you with them, mark my words.”
The urge to run is really kicking in. Shit, he really just, let himself get in this deep. “I will say, I may have to leave momentarily -- I can’t remember how long I set my station’s music queue up for! Can’t have dead air, now!” (He knows exactly how long he set the music queue up for.) “But-- I did want to thank you, again, for offering your home, and your company, to me and my alternates. Your planet is a delight.”
Nibble nibble… She is studiously giving him a few seconds of time to himself as she eats this tiny, fishy sandwich, and a few seconds more as she finishes it off and swallows. It’s the most subtle form of privacy she can offer right now, and then it’s back to business (and spinach). “Of course! I’ll send Leal over with some next time he visits, and you can keep them wherever works best for you.”
She hums, placing her cheek in her palm, and offers a slow blink. “I can’t think of anything else we need to discuss urgently, so if you must run and deal with pressing matters, by all means! We’ll see each other again, I’m sure. It’s been lovely getting to speak to you one on one.” Purr purr. Be reassured, damn you.
“Sounds fine and well!” That’s promising and he’s a teeny bit less flighty now. Maybe the purring and slowblink don’t register the same way they would with a fellow cat-fish, but it’s cute and disarming.
He smooths his coat down and tidies his cutlery up. “Mmhmm, I’m glad we were able to meet, it ought to happen again, and I imagine it will. We’ll have plenty to chat about.” And he means that! “Are you sure you don’t want a hand with the dishes before I go?”
She snorts, waving a hand. “No no, it’s alright. There are two men in this house who will fuss me if I even try to do basic chores when they could them instead. I guarantee you, the second I even reach for a sponge one of them will materialize and pluck it away.” Her eyes are rolling, but her voice is fond. “They care. Maybe a little overzealous, but I understand.”
Alright, and now to get up and see the poor deer off before he vibrates out of his skin, no? Up she goes. “Thank you for visiting, my good man! I’m glad we talked, you’re a wonderful guest. And I know I don’t need to apologize, but I am sorry for the circumstances making us take a crash course in knowing each other. I.. Well, no, I really am always this direct, but I’d have at least tried to get a few visits in first before I started going right for the point.” Snrk. “Thank you for humoring me, I appreciate you being honest. It means a lot.”
He’d just been doing his duty as a guest, really, walking away and leaving used dishes? Absolutely not. But it was nice to see she was being taken care of!
“And thank you for having me, my dear! You’re a charming host. This was a lovely little encounter. Really, it’s fine, --” it was weird having his comfort being fretted over, “-- such is the nature of the beast. I keep saying it, but I do appreciate your forthcomingness and consideration, on all fronts.”
And it’s time to bid Valera adieu and YEET back through the portal and into Hell! Back to good ol’ home. He has some decompressing to do.
A last farewell, a sendoff, and Valera gets to sit down, plow through the remains of this bizarre food, and ruminate on what knowledge she’d gained. Overall, he seemed like.. Someone she could be friends with, though maybe someone she should try not to be so to the point with, for the sake of not startling him if nothing else.
2 notes · View notes