Location VULTURE Record Store and Vinyl Cafe

This is an in-universe location thread.


Staff member

Tucked away in an avenue in Pittsburgh is a small, yet lively record store and vinyl cafe named VULTURE (all caps); a regular haunt for art students, creatives, and especially music snobs. It has gained a bit of a reputation as a place only cool people go to, like it's a part of some semi-serious 'Pittsburgh Hipster Checklist'. The coffee is good, the music is better, and the staff will offer recommendations for both that are almost guaranteed to satisfy.

The cafe is located in the left side of the building, just off from the shop floor. Here, they serve a variety of ethically-sourced coffee (at not-so-ethical prices), as well as sandwiches and pastries from a local bakery. Once 7PM hits, they also serve a variety of craft beers and cocktails. Every drink comes with a song request; customers can choose from a range of songs to be played on the cafe's sound system which, when nothing is queued, cycles through whatever albums the working baristas wanted to listen to. The staff are also known for giving people with particularly good music taste (or, at least, taste similar to their own) free coffees. As such, it has become somewhat of a challenge for the more pretentious cafe-goer to try and get themselves a free coffee by wowing the staff with their incredible knowledge of obscure bands. Unfortunately, they tend to pick up on this fairly quickly.

The main draw of VULTURE is the record store itself. They stock almost every genre known to man, with new releases, deep cuts, and second-hand classics available for all, as well as decent-spec equipment to play them on. The second-hand section is located near the back, with the more recent records near the front- and, yes, they also sell CDs. At the front desk is a basket full of records wrapped in opaque black paper with a handwritten silver scrawl on the front; a mystery album, with only the cryptic description written on the cover to offer any clue as to what's inside. Whether or not this is a successful sales gimmick is up for debate, but the manager enjoys writing those descriptions too much to pull the plug.

Ah, the manager- a man going by the name Kosuke, who sits at the main desk, making friendly conversation with anyone who comes in. Some may recognise him as Vanity, the frontman of garage rock band PREMORTEM, but that seldom casts as much of a shadow as people might think. Though his staff are hardly aloof, he seems to be the most approachable by far- or, at least, he's certainly the least judgemental.

The most judgemental would be Carrion (Carrie, for short); a black cat who has made her home inside the record store. Often seen lounging on top of the stacks of records, she is known for her unpredictable temper, and very predictable cuteness. Kosuke claims she was a stray who wandered in one night when he was closing up and refused to leave, and her affinity for the place seems to back him up. She is considered VULTURE's unofficial mascot.

And, yes, they do sell t-shirts.

{OOC (+)}Open location it's a cafe and a record store and it's very hip and cool

dont blow it up/ask me if you want to start shit here, otherwise its open to hang out and converse or what have you
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[googlefont="Sarpanch"][div][attr="style","position:relative;overflowx:hidden;max-width:1200px;margin:auto;font-size:13px;"][div style="background-color:#0A0715;font-family:monospace;color:white;padding:40px;max-width:1200px;margin:auto;"][div][attr="style","font-family:Sarpanch;font-size:45px;font-weight:700;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 2px;line-height:80%;padding-bottom:20px;transform: scale(1.4, 1);transform-origin:left;width:60%"]VULTURE'S ROOST[/div][div][attr="style","height:2px;background-color:white;position:absolute;z-index:420;top:58px;width:calc(100% + 0.5px); left:0px"][/div]
Cold brew, black, unsweetened. That was his usual order, and working at a place like this meant he could get as much as he wanted, as often as he wanted, for as little as he wanted. Right now, he had a large, sitting in a clear plastic cup on the desk in front of him, sweating condensation onto the wood as he languished across the surface like a sleeping cat. God, he was tired. Putting up those [font face="monospace"][font color="ff0000"]flyers[/font][/font] had seemingly knocked the last scrap of energy right out of his system- though, of course, as soon as someone showed up, he'd be right back to his usual self. It was quite the common sight in here, really; Kosuke sitting there, arms sprawled across the desk, with his tinted glasses and lazy smile both hinting to the possibility that he was more than a little hungover.

He wasn't hungover, of course, but he was tired. It was all too easy to have a sleepless night in Pittsburgh; that's what he always said. PREMORTEM had a show coming up, so most people assumed he had been spending his time practicing for that.

He didn't much care to correct them.[/div][/div]
Mari pulled her jacket a little tighter, making a mental note to put a better liner into her next iteration. The day was windy with just enough of a drizzle to make walking through the city annoying and the slightest bit miserable. She’d needed to get out though, if she spent one more minute near her workbench she might’ve destroyed the thing. Another puzzle that had decided it was going to hide its last remaining pieces somewhere she couldn’t find them. Not for lack of effort, she’d been working on the thing for almost 20 hours straight. Not that Spork knew that, or needed to. Last time she’d done this with a project they’d picked her up, thrown her into bed, and sat outside her door until she’d slept.

Speaking of which, Mari had originally just planned on hopping down to this new place she’d wanted to check, grab some coffee, reset, maybe get some new music to work to, then head back. It was not destined to be. No sooner had she said she was heading out then Spork was grabbing their own jacket ready to follow. So now Mari was holding the door, letting her friend go first into VULTURE. The music hit her ears, something she couldn’t name but sounded decent, but the scent of coffee dragged her towards the cafe. She stood off to the side, perusing the menu with the various drinks offered.

“What are you in the mood for? They’ve got pastries, sandwiches, the nectar of the gods. I can give you a quick summary.” She muttered to Spork. She'd tried to integrate reading into the devices, but with so many different angles and fonts, it was practically impossible. A puzzle for another time.
There’s an easy kind of monotony to the days they don’t have work. Laze around listening to audiobooks or podcasts or the kind of music that plays on Dad Rock Radio. Work out. Bother Mari in her workshop. Fiddle with whatever prototype she throws their way until lightly electrocuted or bored.

Suffice to say, Spork is absolutely ready to do something else, anything else, and they jump at the chance to get out of the apartment for a while. They loop their arm through their friend’s and let her lead the way to wherever they’re going, not paying too much attention to anything aside from the promise of something new. They wouldn’t admit it aloud, but it’s a relief to get away from the constant information feed that Miku gives them. It’s useful, but they can navigate the world just fine without it too.

With their cane tucked up under their arm and their sunglasses snug on their nose, they aren’t jostled too much out on the sidewalks. This is good, because they don’t want to have to spend any longer in the mist than they have to. They feel like a plant, and their hair has gone all curly at the ends. Terrible conditions to start a fight.

They are thoroughly damp by the time they reach the coffee shop, so they take a moment to shake the water off their hair once they’re inside. The popped collar of their jacket is fashionable, so they’re told, but it did jack shit to keep them dry.

The shop smells like coffee and baked bread, which they expected, and plastic, which they didn’t. They follow Mari’s footsteps and nudge her into reading the menu. “Do they have chocolate croissants? Get that and like, iced coffee with whatever flavor syrup sounds funnest.”

If it’s bad they’ll just steal half of her drink.
[div style="font-size:13px;background-color:rgb(10, 7, 21);font-family:monospace;padding:40px;max-width:1200px;margin:auto;color:white;"]Kosuke's ears perked up as he heard the door open and close, though his posture remained half-asleep. He watched them in silence as they made a beeline for the cafe; two newcomers, both [i style="color:white;"]fun[/i]-looking, both wet from the outside rain, both likely to be quite relieved to finally be in the dry. Curiously, one of them was carrying a cane and sunglasses. They were blind, most likely; hopefully the layout of the place wasn't too [i style="color:white;"]labyrinthine[/i] for it to be an inconvenience to them.

The barista was looking a bit impatient, her smile growing slightly more tense with every passing second.  Perhaps she was just used to the regulars, or to people who knew what they wanted to order as soon as they walked in... though, in truth, these two weren't even taking that long.  Regardless, Kosuke kept an eye on her from across the store, making sure she didn't say anything bad for business; or, worse still, bad for its image.  

After a few seconds, however, he changed his mind.  He slowly rose from the chair, picking up the coffee cup by his fingertips as he made his way towards the cafe.  His journey ended next to them, not in front of them; standing as if he, too, were a customer at his own establishment.

[font color="#ff0000"]"If you want fun, we've got this black forest cake syrup in."[/font] He took a sip from his own decidedly unsweetened coffee, [font color="ff0000"]"Black cherry and chocolate, I believe. Can't say I've had it myself, but I've heard it makes for a killer latte."[/font]

He turned to the shorter woman and winked.

[font color="ff0000"]"Fifty cents cheaper than a mocha, as well. Who knows; maybe it's one of those- hey, Cass, what do they call them? Those, like... life tips. Hints? No, it's a stronger word than-"[/font]

[font color="ff0000"]"Life hacks?"[/font]

Kosuke snapped his fingers. Cass, the barista, rolled her eyes.

[font color="ff0000"]"Life hacks! Maybe it's a life hack. Hey, if you do get it, let me know how it is, alright?"[/font]

He paused.

[font color="ff0000"]"Oh, uh... welcome to VULTURE! Probably should've opened with that, eh?"[/font] He smiled, pointing to himself, the barista, then somewhere off behind him, [font color="ff0000"]"I'm Kosuke, this is Cass, Carrie is... somewhere. I'm sure she'll let us know when it's time for her second breakfast."[/font][/div]
She should have expected that. Anything Spork ate or drank usually required copious amounts of sugar in order to be properly enjoyed. She’d offered to equip Miku with something to help properly measure things, but Spork had simply told her that they knew exactly how much sugar they were putting in things. Mari was about to respond to their query about chocolate croissants when a tall, thin figure practically appeared next to them, sipping from a clear cup of what looked like unsweetened coffee. She could respect that. He began rambling about syrups, life hacks, and money saving. The way he talked and moved seemed indicative of substances, either past, meaning a hangover, or present, which meant he was high as a kite talking to them about coffee. It didn’t quite seem like either though, just a personality thing.

“Mari,” she responded. “Who’s Carrie?” She didn’t really feel like another person needed to be added to this conversation, as there were already too many. And that included the barista. Speaking of whom, Mari went up and ordered a chocolate croissant, an iced coffee with black forest cake syrup, and another with just mocha. She paid and went back to stand with Spork, waiting for the drinks.

“So, this is your place then? Neat. Music and coffee, the two essentials.” Mari let out an awkward chuckle. She hated small talk.
[googlefont=VT323][div align="center"][div style="max-width:1250px;"][div style="border:1px black solid;overflow:hidden;"][div style="border-left:4px #ff6700 solid;border-right:4px #ff6700 solid;background-color:#050505;"]
[div style="font-size:170%;color:#fadfad;font-family:VT323;text-align:left;padding:8px;"][font color=#ff8f00][/font]Declan didn't come to record stores often. Most of the vinyls he bought were available online, nowadays. The internet was convenient-- in more ways than just music-- and so he never had a use for buying in-person; maybe when he was younger, sure, but the times had changed. Anything available in a secondhand record store would be available during a limited merch drop from the bands he liked. It was just a matter of being aware and early enough, most times. He enjoyed beating out other people to buy them.

Savviness helped him out when he was too late for a drop, though, and it helped to be aware of potential avenues for buying. He was particular about his records-- the condition they were in, the edition they came in. Most vinyl outlets fell behind his standard by a considerable amount. Especially those... gigantic entertainment chains that only had the latest garbage Top 100s and other similar shitheaps for the ears. People loved FYE, for some reason-- his experience was that most folks wouldn't understand what real music was. Even if it blasted out their eardrums.

And so that brought him to VULTURE. A real hole-in-the-wall type place, as far as he was aware, though its reputation was well-garnered on most of the boards he frequented. Some Pittsburgh anons on /mu/ said the store was legit, if you avoided the obnoxious craft-beer shitheads that showed up in the evening. Basskicker found it stupid that they'd even serve drinks at a record store. He would be there to talk about music, not meaningless horseshit like beard braiding and whatever yuppie culture pushed to the forefront of its putrid zeitgeist. People like that didn't deserve their hearing to begin with, in his experience. One less Neutral Milk Hotel fan in the mix-- not exactly a grave loss.

And so he pushed into the record store with his hands in his jacket, notably different from the garb he usually wore when out as his secondary persona. Leading a double life was taxing, he'd found. Hard to remember not to wear his favorite jacket out, or bring his helmet anywhere someone would be able to see him unmasked. No, as far as anyone was concerned, Declan Bell was in a different world than Basskicker. Only when the time was right-- if that time ever came-- would the two identities collide. For now, he was just a regular music snob enjoying his day out at the store. Declan purposefully kept t himself, walking along the isles in the ever-broad EDM category to check their selection. The staff seemed busy with a bunch of posers, at the moment, and he didn't want to waste any more of his time than he had to. Part of him was almost paranoid about being recognized out-of-costume-- irrational, surely, but present nonetheless.

Focus, man. He'd missed the limited-edition vinyl drop they'd done for Wlfgrl. Orange Milk Records were a bunch of stingy fucks, and he couldn't find one on eBay for anything near MSRP. That was where VULTURE came in. Hopefully.

If they were a record store worth their salt, they'd have it.
Spork startles a little when an unfamiliar voice speaks up from behind them. They shift subtly, instinct telling them to put themself between the stranger and Mari, but after a tense second they force themself to relax. It’s just some guy giving them unsolicited coffee advice. They need to get out more, clearly, if they’re getting this jumpy.

Still, their hand finds Mari’s sleeve, slick with rainwater except for a dry patch where they were holding onto her, and they smooth their fingers over a wrinkle in her jacket without ‘looking’ her way. They don’t look at the new guy, either, though their ear is tilted in his direction. They always found it a bit trite to try to make fakey-fake eye contact with someone when both parties know it’s impossible.

The stranger’s life hack suggestion earns a dry chuckle from them. Finding their grin again, they throw him a casual salute, just a tap of their pointer and middle finger to their forehead and then a careless flick away. “Will do. You sound like a real coffee connoisseur, and I would hate to miss out on a good hack.”

A little snide. Reel it in. His suggestion does sound good, even if they’re a little unhappy with the assumed reason for him rolling out the red carpet for them. They’ve had to endure way too many years of being pampered, and yet it still grates on them.

Mari introduces herself, and they tag on with, “Spork.”

They don’t clarify whether it’s their name or a request, straight-facing it in the hopes he’ll make a fool of himself.

It’s the little things.

They don’t follow Mari to the counter, though it’s a close thing. Spork would find a table, but, well. They can wait. The music nearly drowns out the sound of her footsteps, which they are distinctly not okay with, but they can be chill. She’s back soon enough, and they can brush their knuckles against hers in silent reassurance. Even if they aren’t quite sure which of them needs reassuring.

“Don’t forget pastries. Food is an essential, too.”
[div style="font-size:13px;background-color:rgb(10, 7, 21);font-family:monospace;padding:40px;max-width:1200px;margin:auto;color:white;"]The pair didn't look too enthused. Kosuke' mirrored Spork's salute regardless, as if that would mean anything to them.

[font color="ff0000"]"Damn right, they are."[/font] He smiled, [font color="ff0000"]"Most places have you choose between both- you can't get good coffee and good music anywhere these days- except here, of course. Oh, speaking of-"[/font]

He gave a nod to the barista.

[font color="ff0000"]"If you've got any song requests, let her know, and she'll put them through the system."[/font]

The system which, at the moment, was playing one of Kosuke's [a href="[MEDIA=youtube]zReAAGD4ddo[/MEDIA]"][font color="ff0000"][font face="monospace"]personal choices[/font][/font][/a]. He had heard the album all before, of course- and he could always re-listen to it on his ride home, if they questioned him about interruptions. It was fine. He didn't mind. It was a tradition of the place, to let customers choose their own music- he wouldn't judge them for their choice, what kind of shopkeep would he be if he did that?

At that point, he heard the door open. Another customer had entered the building, and seemed to be drifting towards the record store. Kosuke watched him from the corner of his eye, though he kept his body turned towards his two immediate companions.

[font color="ff0000"]"Anyway, nice to meet ya, Mari- and... Spork, I assume."[/font]

They didn't carry sporks (the utensil), just their constituent parts (spoons and forks). That must be their name- or, at least, what they wanted to go by. That was fine, Kosuke had heard weirder. Kosuke had been weirder. Aside from the hesitation, he didn't seem all that judgemental. A customer was a customer, after all.

[font color="ff0000"]"Right, right, I'll get out of your hair."[/font] He said, [font color="ff0000"]"Give me a shout if you need anything, yeah? Oh- and Carrie?"[/font]

He pointed his thumb over his shoulder towards a large, black cat, lying down on some of the records.

[font color="ff0000"]"She's the little one. Over there."[/font]

With that, he dramatically spun on his heel, and walked across the store, giving the pair one last wave as he made his way out of the cafe. To the shifting beat of the song's latter half, he deftly waltzed his way through the maze of shelves and storage; gait casual, movements heavily exaggerated. It was a wonder how he hadn't spilled his coffee yet. Or... maybe it wasn't. This seemed like the type of thing he did fairly often. Perhaps it was just the way he walked.

Kosuke came to a stop before the shelves at the back- the EDM section, jokingly positioned as far away from sunlight as the building allowed. The customer looked young, wearing a jacket and a neutral frown. Though he was clearly a newcomer, Kosuke could hazard a guess as to what type this guy was. He leaned his hand against the wall and took another sip of coffee, squinting a little to read the letter 'M' on the divider.

[font color="ff0000"]"Machine Girl, I assume?"[/font]

A safe bet. He didn't seem the Marshmello type- which was good, because they didn't stock him, which was good, because he was shit.

[font color="ff0000"]"After anything in particular?"[/font][/div]
Kosuke rambled on about how this was the place for good coffee and good music. Although if the former was anything like the latter, Mari probably wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon. To be fair, that was an empty threat. She wasn’t exactly what one would call a “coffee connoisseur”. Coffee was just a caffeine-delivering mechanism that kept her going. The only reason she’d stopped drinking energy drinks was because Spork had gotten into them at one point. They'd taken the last half of her can of Redbull and downed it like they did with any other drink. For the next few hours their apartment was in disarray, and Mari decided it was easier to just drink coffee than to keep the energy drinks under lock and key.

When he motioned towards Carrie however, Mari’s attention shifted entirely to focus on the cat. She loved them, and immediately wanted to go and pet her. Part of her knew that she shouldn’t leave Spork behind while the coffee was being made, it could result in her precious caffeine being spilled all over the place. So she led them along, their hand gripping its familiar location on her sleeve. It wasn’t really leading so much as they always preferred to have her in range. She didn’t complain, it was good to have someone close in case of emergency.

Mari guided Spork to a table and tapped the back of the seat, trusting them to figure where it was. She tapped on the back of their hand twice, a signal they’d developed for ‘Be right back’. She strode over to the counter, grabbed her order with a brief nod to the barista, and returned to the seats. She placed Spork’s coffee and croissant in front of them before taking her place opposite. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t see, she sat across from everyone she talked to.

“Let me know how the coffee is, since he made such a big fuss about it.” Mari took a long sip from hers, relishing the sweetness. She swore she could feel the caffeine already coursing through her, revitalizing her tired limbs.

“He seems a bit off, he moves like he’s always about to fall over. Maybe we’ve found someone more tired than me.”
At the mention of song requests, Spork stands a little straighter and nudges Mari. “Hey, hey, when you go get the drinks you gotta request Never Gonna Give You Up. It’s what any law-abiding citizen would do.”

This is blatantly untrue, but delivered with a convincing smile that’s just a shade too eager. As though anyone would call them on it.

They’ve already dismissed coffee-guy as harmless, so they give him an imaginary tip of an imaginary hat and let him leave without too much more heckling. Once his footsteps fade away and Mari guides them over to the table, they allow a moment of confusion to twist their smile down. Carrie is either a child or an animal, but one of those makes more sense than the other and it isn’t the kid.

Spork grips the back of the seat firmly as they take a seat and lean their cane against the table. There are plenty of little tricks to get around shaky depth perception once you know how to look for them.

If Carrie was a dog, they’d hear the barks or the click-clack of nails on the floor. Unless it’s asleep, maybe, but dogs are obvious. Messy, too, for a store like this. They settle on a tentative no, in time for Mari to take a seat across from them in a rustle of fabric and the tap of two cups set down on the table. Immediately, they kick one of their legs out and find hers. It’s not a hard kick, it’s got no momentum behind it.

“Why would you be tired if you owned a coffee shop?” Spork has to ask, sliding their hand along the wooden table until it bumps their own cup and they snatch it up. “Actually, maybe he’s reached the high-caffeine-tolerance level of coffee consumption. You’ll hit it too, someday. Like your elders.”

They’re only a few months older, but they like to remind her of that sometimes. They also don’t consume much caffeine, because sleep is great and unsweetened coffee is the devil’s beverage. And also because Mari banned them from energy drinks, which are delightfully sweet and guaranteed to make them bounce around the apartment like a pinball.

As though to prove their point, Spork takes an enthusiastic sip of coffee. It is nicely sweet, and the syrup does a good job of hiding the fact that they’re drinking coffee. “Nine out of ten, still not as good as hot chocolate. Remember that peppermint hot chocolate from last Christmas? Now that would be a good addition, maybe without the black cherry though. Then again, that would just be chocolate-chocolate. Actually, I see no downsides to that.”
[googlefont=VT323][div align="center"][div style="max-width:1250px;"][div style="border:1px black solid;overflow:hidden;"][div style="border-left:4px #ff6700 solid;border-right:4px #ff6700 solid;background-color:#050505;"]
[div style="font-size:170%;color:#fadfad;font-family:VT323;text-align:left;padding:8px;"][font color=#ff8f00][/font]An attendant came up to help him. He couldn't help but feel a bit insulted that he'd been approached first-- did he look that lost?-- but chalked it up to a very small and interpersonal store. Declan offered a glance in return, then nodded as he stared back at the sleeves he was fingering through.

[font color=#ff8f00]"Wlfgrl."[/font] It was a direct statement more than it was a question. [font color=#ff8f00]"Need the limited-edition vinyl. I'll pay at most a 20% markup for it."[/font] With that, he stopped sorting the Machine Girl records and turned to face the man-- a man he now recognized as someone he knew decently well. The guy was a frontman for an indie band around here. Declan had listened to some of his stuff. It was good. Not his genre, but good.

[font color=#ff8f00]"You have any in stock? I got a new setup in my studio and wanted to test them. That's the excuse I'm giving myself, anyway."[/font] He offered a smile, at that. Smalltalk. [font color=#ff8f00]"Have some shit I need to get done, and this is a distraction."[/font]
[div style="font-size:13px;background-color:rgb(10, 7, 21);font-family:monospace;padding:40px;max-width:1200px;margin:auto;color:white;"][font color="ff0000"]"Wlfgrl..."[/font] He muttered, [font color="ff0000"]"Good question."[/font]

He pondered the thought for a moment, then resolved with a shrug.

[font color="ff0000"]"We don't have any sealed copies at the moment- hell, I don't think we have any copies with sleeves at all."[/font]

Kosuke snapped his fingers and pointed towards the front- towards that gimmicky little mystery basket by the desk.

[font color="ff0000"]"There might still be a copy in there, though."[/font] He smiled, [font color="ff0000"]"I remember getting a good deal on a loose disc- still in working order, don't worry, but I'm not about to track down an empty sleeve."[/font]

There was something decidedly off about the way he said 'deal'- though maybe it was just a quirk of his accent. Too much emphasis. The smile didn't much help, either.

[font color="ff0000"]"I think I- yep, I remember now. It's got '404' written on the front, if you can read my scrawl. Hopefully nobody's taken it..."[/font]

It was almost like he didn't know the value of these things.

[font color="ff0000"]"If it's not there, let me know."[/font] He shrugged, [font color="ff0000"]"I might be able to find someone else willing to part with a copy."[/font]

That 'might' seemed to carry VULTURE pretty far as a business. Kosuke had a good eye for this sort of thing- he knew where to look when it came to limited releases. Industry ties tend to help a lot, after all.

[font color="ff0000"]"So,"[/font] He said, taking another sip of coffee, [font color="ff0000"]"You working on anything in particular? What sort of thing do you do, hm?"[/font][/div]
“Spork, neither of us are law-abiding citizens.”

As if her partner needed to be reminded of that. They’d probably beat Kosuke within an inch of his incredibly tired life if she’d asked. Or if they wanted to. It took a lot to keep Spork from doing anything they wanted to. Mari could, though, on occasion. She let out a sigh and rolled her eyes at Spork’s ‘elders’ comment, a sight and sound so correlated that she had no doubt that Spork could see it in their mind’s eye.

“The elders can request their own song, then.” She said, deadpan, filling herself with more caffeinated liquid. “Since they’re blind, not inept.”

Spork rambled on about hot chocolate for a bit, which was pretty much par for the course. Mari got up quietly, although they could probably hear her, and walked over to the counter, politely requesting Marina’s Bubblegum Bitch, dropping a dollar in the tip jar. She killed people, she wasn’t heartless. She sat back down across from Spork, plopping into the chair.

“See? If a weakling like me can do it, surely the elder can.”
Someone’s contrary today. Spork tilts their head back against the backrest of their chair as Mari walks away. When she returns they smirk from behind their coffee cup, sticking their tongue out at her and setting their drink back down. With a careless flick, they set it wobbling around in a rough circle, the liquid inside threatening mutiny before it settles. “You’re no fun, Mari-oh-contrari.”

They affect the same sigh, put-upon, and slump in their chair, pressing the back of their hand against their forehead. “I guess if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. Don’t you worry, my sweet summer child, I’ll show you how it’s done.”

They shove their chair back with a sharp squeak and trace the same route Mari used back to the counter. Once there, they lean one elbow against the counter and put on their best innocent smile. “Drink comes with a song, right? Can you play Cbat by Hudson Mohawke?”

It’s a real struggle to keep the glee out of their voice, but somehow they manage. Maybe because they kill people and they’re heartless. Request delivered, they give the barista a thumbs up and return to their seat, grin turning wicked as soon as their back is turned.

“We might get kicked out,” they mention to Mari, tone casual. They slide into their seat and pick up their cup once more. “Bone appe-tit.”

They chug the rest of their coffee and settle in to listen to the chaos.
Mari instantly became worried. She knew that look. She had been friends with Spork for years, and nothing good ever came from that look. She instinctively began looking around, hoping that nobody was looking at the blind person who had just requested a song.

“What did you do?” she hissed, still glancing around.

As soon as the song began, she knew what they had done. She stifled a groan as red began to creep into her face. Mari sank lower in her seat, drinking more of her coffee to combat the warmth that had suddenly filled her cheeks.

“Spork, why?” she whined, once again looking around to make sure nobody was staring at them. Of course Spork had to pick the song known on the internet for that one weird guy using it for sex.
Spork just smiles, white teeth and sharp canines on display. They had almost forgotten about their croissant, but the paper bag crinkles under their wrist when they put their now-empty coffee cup down.

They tear a piece off the pastry and pop it in their mouth as deceptively normal orchestral strings fade out and the first notes of nightmare clown music begin to spill out of the speakers. They chew contemplatively, but they can’t quite keep the smirk off their face.

“It really doesn’t get better, does it?” they muse after a minute. “Also, this is totally your fault. We could be listening to Rick Astley right now if you’d’ve listened to the wisdom of those who came before you.”

They shake their head in mock-disapproval. “Young people these days. Croissant?”

They turn the bag around as though to offer Mari a bite, but snatch it back and tear off another piece for themself instead. “Too slow.”

Of course, they still offer it to her again, because they aren’t that cruel. To her, at least. “Did you have breakfast? Should we do that next?”
Mari sighed, taking a long drag off her coffee. She had to admit, it was decent enough, certainly better than the few times she’d tried making it at home. How was she supposed to keep track of something that had to sit that long? It was easier to just go out and buy it.

“How is this my fault? You’re the chaos goblin here.” She whispered harshly. “Now you’re probably going to set a new record for getting us kicked out of a place.” Mari once again glanced around, shoulders hunched as she sank lower in her seat. The song’s grating notes seemed to drag on forever, which was undoubtedly part of Spork’s plan.

“Yes, of course I had breakfast. Cereal and milk, tale as old as time.” Mari had not, in fact, eaten breakfast. One usually had breakfast when they first woke up, and she’d ushered in at least one sunrise swearing at her workbench this week.

“If you want to go get breakfast, I’ll tag along. Honestly I’d still probably smash the project if we went back.”
“Mhm,” Spork hums, absolutely unconvinced by her claims. They continue to shred the croissant, talking while chewing because who’s gonna stop them? “Did you forget we live in the same apartment? Just cause you do your little hermit thing doesn’t mean you can skip out on the dishes.”

They’d done the dishes without a word of complaint, of course, but it’s the principle of the thing. “Think I’d remember an extra bowl, unless you’ve moved past such childish things as dishware.”

They lean forward and wave the last piece of their croissant in front of Mari’s face, dropping it without a second’s consideration for whether it lands on the table or in her hands. She’ll probably catch it, unless those hours in the lab really have fried her brain.

Their work here is done. They push their trash in her direction and hop to their feet. “C’mon, I literally cannot listen to this song anymore. Let’s get you something hot.”
Mari let out a sigh, letting Spork ramble while she sucked down her coffee, leaving only melting ice and the brown-tinted water it created. She scoffed at their insinuation, rolling her eyes despite them not being able to see it. Of course she hadn’t moved past dishware. Any projects in that area kept getting pushed back due to mercenary requirements or repairing/upgrading Spork’s enhancements. God knows they wanted Miku to be changed often enough that she could probably do it in her sleep.

Mari’s hand moved as Spork dropped their croissant, mumbling a quiet thanks as she stuffed it into her mouth. The louder thanks came in the form of her stomach, growling in gratitude for its owner finally receiving sustenance. Betrayed by her body once again, a problem she couldn’t solve. She let out a sigh as she scooped together Spork’s trash.

“Alright you got me. Just some odd hours working on the latest project is all.” She bundled all the trash together in a bag, throwing it away before returning to Spork. “Let’s get out of here. This song sucks and I could use something more filling than your scraps.”