Closed RP Afterparty

This RP is currently closed.

Reyn

Sleepyhead
Staff member
CICADA RECORDING STUDIOS⠀
The band had learned, over the many years working with him, that Kosuke was a fucking liar.

Oh, yeah, I'll be out by half-eight, just need to finish up this track- yeah fucking right. The rest of them had finished their stuff at eight, wrapping up the recordings and sending the files off to Kosuke for mastering. He had been at Cicada all day, but he still wasn't finished. Just a few more takes, I want to get this right- that was what he said this time. That was what he said every time. If it was anyone else, they'd stage an intervention about his debilitating workaholism, but- fuck, it was Vanity. And the trouble with Vanity was- he got results. He made it worth the wait, every single time.

So, once again, they had resigned themselves to the lobby, lounging on the chairs and waiting for- shit, what was her name again? Kosuke's friend- Sam, or something? Waiting for her to show up. Then, at least, they'd have a reason to pull him away from the mic- a reason he couldn't dismiss, like he did when he was the only one affected. After all, it wouldn't just be his day he was holding up this time. It would be hers.

Still, it was nice to see him in the studio again, after what happened- and it was nice to do something as a band as well, even if it would be released under Vanity Project. He said it would be a fun, ironic little title- 'Fortune (feat. PREMORTEM)', as if he wasn't the driving force behind the band in the first place. This new Project record, Ace of Hearts, had a lot of similar quirks- little personal touches, references to his life, that sort of thing. It seemed almost autobiographical, from what little they were able to hear of it- odd for Kosuke, very odd for Vanity. Oh, yeah, and he was being a lot more secretive about this one than most of the others. Fortune was the only one they had been able to preview; everything else remained locked down in a drive on his computer, to be released when he was ready to release them.

At the rate he was going, that would mean decades.

CICADA RECORDING STUDIOS⠀
The band had learned, over the many years working with him, that Kosuke was a fucking liar.

Oh, yeah, I'll be out by half-eight, just need to finish up this track- yeah fucking right. The rest of them had finished their stuff at eight, wrapping up the recordings and sending the files off to Kosuke for mastering. He had been at Cicada all day, but he still wasn't finished. Just a few more takes, I want to get this right- that was what he said this time. That was what he said every time. If it was anyone else, they'd stage an intervention about his debilitating workaholism, but- fuck, it was Vanity. And the trouble with Vanity was- he got results. He made it worth the wait, every single time.

So, once again, they had resigned themselves to the lobby, lounging on the chairs and waiting for- shit, what was her name again? Kosuke's friend- Sam, or something? Waiting for her to show up. Then, at least, they'd have a reason to pull him away from the mic- a reason he couldn't dismiss, like he did when he was the only one affected. After all, it wouldn't just be his day he was holding up this time. It would be hers.

Still, it was nice to see him in the studio again, after what happened- and it was nice to do something as a band as well, even if it would be released under Vanity Project. He said it would be a fun, ironic little title- 'Fortune (feat. PREMORTEM)', as if he wasn't the driving force behind the band in the first place. This new Project record, Ace of Hearts, had a lot of similar quirks- little personal touches, references to his life, that sort of thing. It seemed almost autobiographical, from what little they were able to hear of it- odd for Kosuke, very odd for Vanity. Oh, yeah, and he was being a lot more secretive about this one than most of the others. Fortune was the only one they had been able to preview; everything else remained locked down in a drive on his computer, to be released when he was ready to release them.

At the rate he was going, that would mean decades.
 
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Sam was trying her hardest to not be absolutely pissed when she walked into Cicada. The previous seventy-two hours had been absolute hell. Between her newly broken ribs from Spork, the meeting with Nahual, and the fucking recording from Lament, Sam felt she had every right to be as angry as she felt. It had been a long time since she had felt quite such undirected rage. Probably since the last kill in Kansas City. The one where she had broken down afterward, and completely destroyed the scene. The one where she had felt, for the first time since Connor Wheldon, horror at her own actions.

The amount of anger she felt couldn’t be expressed, not by words. Only through action, through violence. It was the kind of rage where everything around you was tinged in red, where your vision tunneled. It was the kind of rage that made you tremble, that couldn’t be contained.

It was a good thing Sam had practice at containing that kind of rage.

So it was with barely shaking hands that she opened the door to the recording studio. She was actually running late– she was supposed to be there almost half an hour ago. Closing the gym had taken longer than it was supposed to when she had broken the barre bar off the glass-plated wall. Thankfully, nothing had shattered, but she’d had to spend time fixing it. It had only been then that she realized how much anger had been building inside her.

Upon entering the recording studio, Sam noticed several things. The first was that the studio was nice. Like, really nice. It wasn’t the kind of nice that screamed “I’m wealthy”, but it was the kind of nice that hinted at it. Chrome-plated accents, clean and shiny. A wood-paneled lobby, complete with oversized armchairs and a matching couch. Low-hanging light fixtures, just barely high enough that someone like Todd wouldn’t hit his head on them.

The second thing was that Kosuke was not sitting in the lobby. Instead, what looked to be his band was sitting there. There were three of them, and to be honest, they weren’t exactly what she had been expecting. Well, the woman with the deep, blood-red hair that faded gradually into black, with the sharp face and the clear, pale eyes was pretty close to what she was expecting. Even the almost gaunt man with the dark hair was honestly closer to what she thought they would look like than the third member of the band.

But the thickly built blonde guy, with the soft features, but who looked like he could maybe throw her through a wall? That was unexpected. He looked far softer than she would have expected from someone who worked with Vanity. She knew he had a reputation, one that was so unlike the Kosuke she now knew. She gave a smile to them, hiding her rage as smoothly as if it didn’t exist.

“Hi! Are you guys Premortem? I heard you’d be joining us today. Where’s Kosuke? I know I’m late, I hope I didn’t hold any of you up.”
 
There she was. Beck wasn't quite sure what he was expecting, when it came to Kosuke's friends outside of the band. All he had to go off were the staff at VULTURE, who seemed like fairly stuck-up, hipster types, and Hazel, who seemed like... exactly not that. Sam seemed nice. A little tense--nerves, perhaps--but nice. He smiled at her from his perch on the back of the couch, debating whether or not a polite wave would be appropriate, or just uncool.

"Yep." He settled on a nod, "Hope you don't mind- it's just we had fuck all to do today aside from this recording."

Carmilla bit her lip, somewhat displeased at the implication that they didn't have anywhere better to be. She was leaning against the wall, the only member of the three who wasn't sitting down, and her posture seemed to suggest that- yes, actually, she did have something to do today, but this recording had taken up too fucking much of it. Still, she swallowed her bitterness and smiled as politely as she could.

"Still waiting on him to finish up." The bitterness returned immediately, "You might want to sit down, maybe get something from the vending machine. He's... probably going to be a while."

Axel looked up, his attention drawn from whatever void had captured it. His posture was reserved and closed-in, almost hunched over on the couch at the back, sitting as far away from Beck's dangling legs as he could- just to make the guy more comfortable, y'know? He spoke last- a good few seconds after Carmilla had finished. Like Kosuke, his voice was also marked by an accent- something European, Sam could probably gather. Icelandic, if she was particularly astute.

"You didn't hold us up, it's fine." He shrugged, "Wouldn't have minded, even if you did- it's, ah... it's nice to meet Kosuke's buddies, when he lets them near us."

That last part was meant to be a joke- something about fame, about crazy fans, that sort of thing. The way Axel said it made the band sound like a pack of rabid dogs.

There she was. Beck wasn't quite sure what he was expecting, when it came to Kosuke's friends outside of the band. All he had to go off were the staff at VULTURE, who seemed like fairly stuck-up, hipster types, and Hazel, who seemed like... exactly not that. Sam seemed nice. A little tense--nerves, perhaps--but nice. He smiled at her from his perch on the back of the couch, debating whether or not a polite wave would be appropriate, or just uncool.

"Yep." He settled on a nod, "Hope you don't mind- it's just we had fuck all to do today aside from this recording."

Carmilla bit her lip, somewhat displeased at the implication that they didn't have anywhere better to be. She was leaning against the wall, the only member of the three who wasn't sitting down, and her posture seemed to suggest that- yes, actually, she did have something to do today, but this recording had taken up too fucking much of it. Still, she swallowed her bitterness and smiled as politely as she could.

"Still waiting on him to finish up." The bitterness returned immediately, "You might want to sit down, maybe get something from the vending machine. He's... probably going to be a while."

Axel looked up, his attention drawn from whatever void had captured it. His posture was reserved and closed-in, almost hunched over on the couch at the back, sitting as far away from Beck's dangling legs as he could- just to make the guy more comfortable, y'know? He spoke last- a good few seconds after Carmilla had finished. Like Kosuke, his voice was also marked by an accent- something European, Sam could probably gather. Icelandic, if she was particularly astute.

"You didn't hold us up, it's fine." He shrugged, "Wouldn't have minded, even if you did- it's, ah... it's nice to meet Kosuke's buddies, when he lets them near us."

That last part was meant to be a joke- something about fame, about crazy fans, that sort of thing. The way Axel said it made the band sound like a pack of rabid dogs.
 
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Sam breathed in. She breathed out. She released some of the anger, at a distance from them, as heat. It breezed away from her in a small wave of warmth, hopefully, one that would go unnoticed. It happened in the blink of an eye, and she allowed herself to feel better. Just a bit. Then, she refocused on the group in front of her and gave her best dazzling smile. There were very very people who she couldn’t decieve with it. If anyone noticed how angry she was under the happy exterior, well, credit to them.

She moved further into the building until she was standing near the cluster of seats. “Oh! That’s fine with me. I’m just glad I didn’t hold all of you up. I had to do some repairs at the gym, and, well. Anyway, I’m Sam Walsh. It’s great to meet you guys.”

She took a seat in the unoccupied armchair that faced the couch, setting her bag down on the ground. It was a small thing, just big enough for her phone, her wallet, and her keys. But she didn’t need anything else. She didn’t bring her kit with her when she went out with friends, and Kosuke was like her. Between the two of them, they could probably handle anything that came their way, should anything happen.

“So, I’m really sorry, but I know names but don’t have references for your faces. Carmilla, I presume?” She looked in the direction of the woman who could have been mistaken for a fantasy vampire in the right outfit. She was honestly stunning, in the way that predators like lions and wolves were. She was all sharpness, unlike Sam’s own softness.​
 
"How could you tell?"

Her tone was odd; a mixture between light humour and genuine offense, though it was likely she intended the former. Carmilla always seemed a bit dour compared to the others. It had been a long day, and she was tired, and she was sick of waiting in the lobby again, but there wasn't much that could be done. There never was.

Axel opened his mouth to speak, but Carmilla was the one to make the introductions.

"The one on the back of the couch is Beck, viking-lookin' dude is Axel." She said, "You're... Sam, right? You know Kosuke from VULTURE, or something?"

It was a guess, but most likely an accurate one, given her general... vibe. Wild red hair--natural, unlike Carmilla's own--that tumbled down her back, intentionally untidy in a way that made it look more perfect than if she had tried. Her outfit, as well. A faded Sleep Token shirt tied up over fishnet sleeves, black jeans that flared over heavy black boots- if she didn't know any better, she'd say Sam had raided Kosuke's closet for half this stuff. Of course, she did know better. She probably still had one of his Opeth shirts herself, the bastard. Sam didn't seem the type- and, fortunately, neither did Kosuke. It was just the VULTURE patron uniform, then.

A door opened just down the hall. Then it closed. Then it opened again, and the silence returned. Perhaps he had left something behind.

"How could you tell?"

Her tone was odd; a mixture between light humour and genuine offense, though it was likely she intended the former. Carmilla always seemed a bit dour compared to the others. It had been a long day, and she was tired, and she was sick of waiting in the lobby again, but there wasn't much that could be done. There never was.

Axel opened his mouth to speak, but Carmilla was the one to make the introductions.

"The one on the back of the couch is Beck, viking-lookin' dude is Axel." She said, "You're... Sam, right? You know Kosuke from VULTURE, or something?"

It was a guess, but most likely an accurate one, given her general... vibe. Wild red hair--natural, unlike Carmilla's own--that tumbled down her back, intentionally untidy in a way that made it look more perfect than if she had tried. Her outfit, as well. A faded Sleep Token shirt tied up over fishnet sleeves, black jeans that flared over heavy black boots- if she didn't know any better, she'd say Sam had raided Kosuke's closet for half this stuff. Of course, she did know better. She probably still had one of his Opeth shirts herself, the bastard. Sam didn't seem the type- and, fortunately, neither did Kosuke. It was just the VULTURE patron uniform, then.

A door opened just down the hall. Then it closed. Then it opened again, and the silence returned. Perhaps he had left something behind.
 
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“Axel and Beck, got–” Sam paused at the sound of the door opening and closing and then reopening. She stared off in the direction of the hall for a moment before returning her glance to Carmilla, who had asked her a question. “Oh, uh, yeah. We met outside VULTURE one night and well, I kept going back after that. He can find you just about anything, it’s insane.”

Sam casually didn’t mention that she was aware he was a metahuman. After all, she had no idea if they all knew or not. And there was no way she was going to accidentally reveal that she knew what Kosuke was if they didn’t know what Kosuke was. Instead, she simply smiled and looked around the group for a moment. She wasn’t lying, so there was no tension for her to monitor in her body.

“How did you guys all meet? Kosuke never really said. To be honest, he hasn’t said much about you at all, but that felt like a ‘I keep my work life and my private life separate’ sort of thing.”
 
Sam seemed distracted, for a moment. Carmilla accepted this without comment; she, like them, was probably getting quite impatient for Kosuke's return. She just shrugged when Sam resumed speaking, smiling faintly at the remark.

"Fuck, tell me about it." She said, "Like, he not only sources these insanely rare releases, but he manages to find the only people in the world willing to part with them. It's... scary, almost, how lucky he gets."

She let out a laugh- short, loud, almost sudden.

"I ain't complaining. Only thing he's scammed me out of was that old splatter film collection, but they were all bootlegged anyway."

He liked watching horror, even the more extreme and unpalatable stuff- which was great for Carmilla, because everyone else refused to watch it with her. Although, of course, the DVDs weren't the only thing he had scammed her out of. She just didn't want to talk about the rest with this near-stranger, not when they were meant to be enjoying themselves for the evening. She also knew it wasn't luck that did it for him, but she figured that Sam probably wouldn't know about that. Why would she? Kosuke only told people who had to know; the three in PREMORTEM, their ex-drummer Paxton, and that one chick who used to work at VULTURE. The one faced with that accident.

And, after the far worse accident at MYTHOMANE, Carmilla assumed the list was closed.

"Oh," Beck piped up, "I met him at a show my old band did, actually."

It was a fairly public story, if you followed the right circles- he knew Hazel had published quite a bit about it, much to his fake embarrassment. The drummer from a shitty local band being picked up by the city's most prominent. It sounded like the plot of some shitty teen movie.

"We were, uh, Smoke Point, at the time. Just three of us guys who used to work at this kitchen- we played some shitty bar, he happened to be in the audience, and he asked us to open for PREMORTEM- this was when, uh, Paxton was still in Pittsburgh. Before he left for- fuck, somewhere in Australia, I think?"

It had been a mutual split, despite what the gossip forums might claim. Paxton's day job was in neuroscience, and he found a research vacancy down in Perth for some firm or something. A private venture, which did bother him a little, but the pay was good and the work was interesting, so he decided to take the offer, making sure to give the band enough notice before his departure. Apparently, Beck was the first replacement drummer Kosuke had come across- though, Carmilla assured him, this was probably because he left the task of finding a new one until the very last minute. As usual.

"Anyway, we opened for them through the RESONANCE tour, I filled in a couple times when Paxton had to take an evening off, and- yeah. Once it was over, I was offered a place in the band. 's how I met these guys."

Carmilla laughed again, warmer than before.

"Hey, I also met him at a shitty bar. Resident, actually- the club bit, not the karaoke. I was... drunk, so I- y'know, it was a Friday night, I was out with the girls- wanted to impress this random guy, yeah?"

She shrugged.

"I mean, he was- he stood out. He was something else, everyone knew that. And it was magnetic, almost- like you couldn't look away from him. Managed to catch him alone, stumbled my way through introductions, ended up telling him I played bass- and, yeah. That was the right thing to say, I guess. Landed me a band, a job, and a bunch of fucking record deals."

They wouldn't start dating for a while after that. At the time, Kosuke was seeing someone- a bouncer at Resident, some guy named Dallas. Carmilla always thought he was a bit of a shithead, but... well, she could sympathise now, at least, knowing what might have happened. Poor bastard seemed to drop off the face of the earth after the break-up. Apparently he was still around, still being spotted at other bars, but he didn't go anywhere near Resident again.

There was a brief silence before Axel spoke. He wanted to make sure they were all finished.

"Oh, I just... I met him in a music store." He shrugged, "The owner was a friend of mine- he helped me a lot when I first moved to Pittsburgh."

Top Picks had been operating in Pittsburgh since the '80s, changing ownership a few times along the way to land in the hands of Roscoe "Bolt" Irving; an ex-guitarist for an old punk band who ended up splitting after getting banned from too many venues for starting fistfights with the audience. The nickname came from the scar down his left cheek, from when someone had tried to drive a nail into his face. Aside from that, he was a remarkably nice guy- though he didn't suffer fools gladly, cutting contact with everyone related to his old band except for their tech guy, Nash, who ran some shitty garage downtown.

Axel moved to the States when he was in his early twenties, after graduating from university back in Iceland. He took up a job in teaching, but it fell through, and he was struggling to make ends meet by the time he met Roscoe- minimum wage job after minimum wage job was starting to wear him down, and his relative lack of fluency in English at the time made it harder for him to find anything better. Though Roscoe didn't offer him a formal job at the store, he did slide him cash under the table for the odd task here and there.

"Then- well, I was playing one of the new guitars they had in, as usual, when Kosuke showed up and- I don't know, he asked me about pedals, I think. Told me I sounded like I knew my stuff."

The door opened again, and footsteps could be heard coming down the corridor.

"He showed up a few more times after that, we got talking, and then-"

"Ah, fuck, that took way longer than I thought..."

Kosuke yawned as he shuffled towards the group, waving sleepily at his band before snapping to alertness as soon as he saw Sam. There was an empty iced coffee in his hand- a cup of vaguely coffee-tinted water, and a bunch of half-melted ice cubes. He must've finished it quickly. He must've needed to. He smiled at Sam, turning to place the empty cup in the trash before continuing to speak.

"Sorry about that, Sam. Were you guys waiting long?"

Sam seemed distracted, for a moment. Carmilla accepted this without comment; she, like them, was probably getting quite impatient for Kosuke's return. She just shrugged when Sam resumed speaking, smiling faintly at the remark.

"Fuck, tell me about it." She said, "Like, he not only sources these insanely rare releases, but he manages to find the only people in the world willing to part with them. It's... scary, almost, how lucky he gets."

She let out a laugh- short, loud, almost sudden.

"I ain't complaining. Only thing he's scammed me out of was that old splatter film collection, but they were all bootlegged anyway."

He liked watching horror, even the more extreme and unpalatable stuff- which was great for Carmilla, because everyone else refused to watch it with her. Although, of course, the DVDs weren't the only thing he had scammed her out of. She just didn't want to talk about the rest with this near-stranger, not when they were meant to be enjoying themselves for the evening. She also knew it wasn't luck that did it for him, but she figured that Sam probably wouldn't know about that. Why would she? Kosuke only told people who had to know; the three in PREMORTEM, their ex-drummer Paxton, and that one chick who used to work at VULTURE. The one faced with that accident.

And, after the far worse accident at MYTHOMANE, Carmilla assumed the list was closed.

"Oh," Beck piped up, "I met him at a show my old band did, actually."

It was a fairly public story, if you followed the right circles- he knew Hazel had published quite a bit about it, much to his fake embarrassment. The drummer from a shitty local band being picked up by the city's most prominent. It sounded like the plot of some shitty teen movie.

"We were, uh, Smoke Point, at the time. Just three of us guys who used to work at this kitchen- we played some shitty bar, he happened to be in the audience, and he asked us to open for PREMORTEM- this was when, uh, Paxton was still in Pittsburgh. Before he left for- fuck, somewhere in Australia, I think?"

It had been a mutual split, despite what the gossip forums might claim. Paxton's day job was in neuroscience, and he found a research vacancy down in Perth for some firm or something. A private venture, which did bother him a little, but the pay was good and the work was interesting, so he decided to take the offer, making sure to give the band enough notice before his departure. Apparently, Beck was the first replacement drummer Kosuke had come across- though, Carmilla assured him, this was probably because he left the task of finding a new one until the very last minute. As usual.

"Anyway, we opened for them through the RESONANCE tour, I filled in a couple times when Paxton had to take an evening off, and- yeah. Once it was over, I was offered a place in the band. 's how I met these guys."

Carmilla laughed again, warmer than before.

"Hey, I also met him at a shitty bar. Resident, actually- the club bit, not the karaoke. I was... drunk, so I- y'know, it was a Friday night, I was out with the girls- wanted to impress this random guy, yeah?"

She shrugged.

"I mean, he was- he stood out. He was something else, everyone knew that. And it was magnetic, almost- like you couldn't look away from him. Managed to catch him alone, stumbled my way through introductions, ended up telling him I played bass- and, yeah. That was the right thing to say, I guess. Landed me a band, a job, and a bunch of fucking record deals."

They wouldn't start dating for a while after that. At the time, Kosuke was seeing someone- a bouncer at Resident, some guy named Dallas. Carmilla always thought he was a bit of a shithead, but... well, she could sympathise now, at least, knowing what might have happened. Poor bastard seemed to drop off the face of the earth after the break-up. Apparently he was still around, still being spotted at other bars, but he didn't go anywhere near Resident again.

There was a brief silence before Axel spoke. He wanted to make sure they were all finished.

"Oh, I just... I met him in a music store." He shrugged, "The owner was a friend of mine- he helped me a lot when I first moved to Pittsburgh."

Top Picks had been operating in Pittsburgh since the '80s, changing ownership a few times along the way to land in the hands of Roscoe "Bolt" Irving; an ex-guitarist for an old punk band who ended up splitting after getting banned from too many venues for starting fistfights with the audience. The nickname came from the scar down his left cheek, from when someone had tried to drive a nail into his face. Aside from that, he was a remarkably nice guy- though he didn't suffer fools gladly, cutting contact with everyone related to his old band except for their tech guy, Nash, who ran some shitty garage downtown.

Axel moved to the States when he was in his early twenties, after graduating from university back in Iceland. He took up a job in teaching, but it fell through, and he was struggling to make ends meet by the time he met Roscoe- minimum wage job after minimum wage job was starting to wear him down, and his relative lack of fluency in English at the time made it harder for him to find anything better. Though Roscoe didn't offer him a formal job at the store, he did slide him cash under the table for the odd task here and there.

"Then- well, I was playing one of the new guitars they had in, as usual, when Kosuke showed up and- I don't know, he asked me about pedals, I think. Told me I sounded like I knew my stuff."

The door opened again, and footsteps could be heard coming down the corridor.

"He showed up a few more times after that, we got talking, and then-"

"Ah, fuck, that took way longer than I thought..."

Kosuke yawned as he shuffled towards the group, waving sleepily at his band before snapping to alertness as soon as he saw Sam. There was an empty iced coffee in his hand- a cup of vaguely coffee-tinted water, and a bunch of half-melted ice cubes. He must've finished it quickly. He must've needed to. He smiled at Sam, turning to place the empty cup in the trash before continuing to speak.

"Sorry about that, Sam. Were you guys waiting long?"
 

Sam kept a polite smile on her face as the others talked that gradually grew into a more confident one. Her shoulders relaxed as they talked. She enjoyed listening to their stories. It gave her a sense of comfort to hear them talk about how they all met Kosuke. It eased some of her anger, and by the time Kosuke walked out, her smile was a little more genuine. And then she felt the footsteps coming down the hall and looked up, right before Kosuke spoke.

She smiled at him in return and stood up. Kosuke still made her slightly uneasy. She wasn’t sure why it was, but she was determined to get past it. Hence this entire thing. Maybe seeing Kosuke in a more relaxed situation would help her to be less weirded out by him. If that’s what the feeling was, anyway.

Then, she quickly moved in and hugged Kosuke, wrapping her arms around him for just a brief moment. Just long enough to make it clear that this was a genuine hug. After all, Kosuke was her friend. She might have weird feelings about the man, an unease she didn’t know what to do with, but Kosuke was still her friend.

“Kosuke! I only just got here. It’s good to see you, man.”

She pulled back and smiled, then walked back over to where she had set her bag down and swiped it up. Slinging it over her shoulder, she looked between the rest of the group and gave one last flash of a grin, this time flashing her best disarming smile. “Well we should really get going then, shouldn’t we?”
 
CICADA-CRY
Captured Echoes
i know what you heard last night


The band looked up at him as he arrived- all three, almost in unison. Axel silenced himself, resolving into a wave. Beck nodded with a grin. Carmilla stood there, and she stared, and she forced away the thinness in her smile.

"And what time do you call th-"

"Woah-"

Their voices cut out at the same time, once Sam had made contact, pulling him into a hug he clearly wasnt expecting. Once the initial surprise wore off, he awkwardly reciprocated, though his motion seemed a lot less genuine- less of a friendly embrace, and more... hesitantly wrapping his arms around her until his hands touched her back. He wasnt good at hugging. He wasnt good to hug, either; he was a fair bit thinner than his clothing let on, and what little was there felt more like long bundles of sinew than anything else. Muscular, maybe- or just tense. Like hugging a wax figure covered in fabric.

He let go and faced her, allowing his smile to dispel his prior uncanniness- mirroring Sam in his intention to disarm.

"Youve got it." He nodded, "Residents not too far to walk, thank god. Im not gonna keep you guys waiting any longer, dont worry."

Kosuke pointed towards the exit and began to walk, allowing the group to follow.

Carmilla hesitated, stared daggers at Sam, and was the last to oblige.

----

There wasnt a party on at Resident, but that didnt mean it was empty. The club, as usual, was full of people; dressed in some incomprehensible mishmash of styles so gaudy it circled back round into blandness. Hipsters. VULTUREs carrion. If they went inside, PREMORTEM, they wouldnt be able to reach the basement at all- stopped at every turn by drunk strangers who like, totally met you guys before at that one party, so were, like, totally friends, right?

Kosuke walked up to the bouncer at the door, who understood his request without saying a word.

They were directed towards the fire exit for downstairs- a winding concrete staircase that descended into the karaoke bar downstairs. It was out of the way, at least. Though there were a few stares from the line outside, nobody wanted to talk to them badly enough to lose their spot. The door was opened, and they were allowed through- taking the short walk in single-file down to the charmingly tacky lobby downstairs.

Hasegawa, having heard the door unlatched, actually looked up from his crossword. Only one group was really allowed to use the fire exit like that, and that one group included Kosuke. He smiled warmly, waving at the group- including Sam, the stranger, who he greeted with a polite nod. He opened his mouth to speak, no doubt ready to flood Kosuke with whatever gossip he had heard that week, but Kosuke silenced him with a raised hand.

"Ill let us get settled first, yeah?" He winked, "Sams first time here- gotta show her the ropes."

"Of course, of course." The older man nodded, "Ill stay here, if you need help."

He turned to Sam, retaining his smile.

"Welcome to Resident. You know him- youll be here a lot."

Kosuke pointed down the hall.

"I reserved Booth 9 again- its just down the end."
 
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Sam happily followed Kosuke and his band to Resident, chatting amicably along the way with Kosuke, Axel, and Beck. For some reason, Carmilla didn’t seem to want to engage much with her. She wondered what she had done to change the other woman’s initially rather accepting behavior. She didn’t really have time to address it with her, however, as they reached the karaoke bar.

Sam gave a polite smile to the man at the door, nodding in return. She waited until the exchange between the two men was finished before giving a warm smile, her eyes closing briefly as she did so. When they reopened, the round golden irises glittered with mischief. “Looking forward to it, honestly. I suppose that means I’ll be seeing you around!”

With that, she took off down the hall with the band, giving a little wave as she passed the older Asian man. The hall down to Booth Nine was, in a way, dilapidated. It looked abandoned, and if it weren’t for the thrum of the music overhead, she would have assumed it was. The floors were linoleum, peeling at the edges. The lights were neon, in bright colors that almost hurt her eyes to look at. And when they got to the room, it had benches in it made of that plastic cushioning that stuck to your skin if you let any of it touch.

She smiled a wide grin. The place was a fucking dive, and that made Sam feel a bit better about her attire. She’d been worried for a moment that she was underdressed, but now she almost felt overdressed, but in the best way possible. She looked back to the band, her eyes glittering as the rage began to rest back in its hole. “So how does this work, exactly?”
 
Sam seemed to be enjoying her time here already, and they hadn't even reached the booth. This was... refreshing. Most people were turned away by the venue's state of semi-ironic disrepair, by the tacky cheapness compared to the chic dilapidation of Resident above. Kosuke had gone on record to say he valued authenticity- and, though he may have been lying that time, he certainly valued here.

The band settled down in the booth, each member slouching against the bench like punk-rock ragdolls; except Kosuke, who was loitering by the door. The booth itself was spacious, clearly one of the more premium options the venue offered. If Sam looked closely, she could probably see the faded "V.I.P" sign on the front of the door- but it was faded faded. Barely visible at all.

"Right, so- we're booked for a couple hours, so it's not like a pay-by-song situation."

Kosuke gestured to the machine.

"Remote's by the screen, mics are in that stand there. I pestered the old man to keep the song choice up to date so, despite how the machine looks, it's not all shit from '83."
 
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