Story:The Kibble Cave

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The Kibble Cave
Written by IllaRouge and TriangleDelta

A breather. That was what anyone needed after a tough game.

A taxi rolled up to a small brick house on the outskirts of Anchorage. The single-floor ranch home was mostly unassuming, in a not-so-ritzy neighborhood. The house itself was dark, with a single, orange light at the side of a house hanging above a staircase that led to the basement.

The taxi driver turned to his passenger. "$28.93."

Desdemona tore her gaze away from the mountains out the window. She'd never spent much time anywhere with real mountains, so seeing them just there, visible all over town, was a bit of an experience for her.

She blinked as she eyed the house and cleared her throat. "You, uh... You sure this is the place?" She fished her phone out, trying to scroll back to that text from Simon to double-check the name he'd given her. Sure, he'd sent it over a year ago when she'd first signed with the league. A list of good venues in all the FBA cities. There was no way this neighborhood had ever housed a club, though.

"If what's you're looking for is 124 Baker, yep." He tapped the wheel of his car. "Card or cash?"

Desdemona glanced down at her phone one more time, re-reading that text. She sighed and pulled a couple bills out of her pocket. She passed them over to the cab driver, and she stepped out of the car.

She shoved her hands into the pockets of her sequined leather jacket as the car pulled away. If she wound up having to walk back to the hotel, at least she'd layered up in one of her Tides hoodies under the jacket. But the least she could do was knock. The tall fish made her way over to the staircase and started her way down. There were chunks missing from the concrete every couple steps. It wasn't quite the sketchiest thing she'd ever done, but it wasn't far off.

At the bottom, a single kodiak bear sat in a plastic lawn chair. The arm was missing from one of the sides of the chair. He looked up at the approaching fish and held his hand out. He stood up. "What you hear for?" he asked gruffly.

Desdemona eyed the bear for a long moment. He was probably used to people being intimidated by his bulk. He was also probably used to dealing with clientele that weren't pro basketball players. She was easily at eye level with him.

She kept her hands in the pockets of her jacket, and then gave an exaggerated shrug. "Place called something like... The Kibble Cave?" She raised an eyebrow questioningly.

The bear snorted. "Simple question: You a cop?" He didn't really care who she was. She wasn't a regular.

Desdemona just stared at the bear for a few seconds. Then she burst out laughing, shaking her head. "Oh, fuck no. Look, I almost got busted for tagging shipping carriers way too many times for the cops to ever want me." She let her laughter peter out as she saw the straight look on the bear's face, unflinching. She rolled her eyes. "I'm here from out of town. I want to see a show."

The bear smirked from one side of his mouth. "Fine. Cover's fifty."

She blinked. "Fifty? Who the hell's playing tonight, fucking Osbo..." She trailed off, then sighed. "I'm guessing locals pay, like, half as much?" She fished out her wallet and flipped through a couple bills before handing a small crumple to the bear.

The bear shoved the money in his pocket. "Locals don't ask questions." He stepped aside and opened the screen door but not the main door. From outside, one could hear the dull rumble of voices.

Desi tried to think of something to say to that - something smug or clever. After a few moments, though, she just stuck her tongue out at him, walked by, and pushed her way through the door.

The cool air of the spring Anchorage evening fell away into cramped, muggy heat. The noise of dozens of voices washed over her, and the door let out a small but audible thump as it closed behind her. Everyone in the cramped basement turned to see who had entered. The silence that washed over felt like a riptide, pulling the fish in.

Well. She might still get shanked in a basement, but at least Simon's tip hadn't been bullshit.

But those stares.

A few folks stepped out of the way, but many kept in place. Slowly, a small path formed to the makeshift bar along one side of the room, kittycorner to the performance area, which was drenched in a black curtain.

The bar consisted of some folding card tables and a few repurposed display counters from a department store. The liquor sat in the displays, while plastic cups and mixers were on the tables. One cup was set out, "Kits for Kits" written on the front and crammed full of money.

Desi kept her eyes on the cup, fully aware that everybody in the bar was looking at her back. She did some mental math and guesses, and then took out her wallet again. At this pace, she was going to need to use a card to get home. She stuffed a few bills into the Kits for Kits cup and grabbed one of her own.

Most nights she would have gone for a beer, but tonight she just wanted to chill out a bit. She poured herself a couple fingers of rye into the cup and sized up the mixers. She picked out the bottle of ginger ale that looked the least flat and poured it in as well.

As she finished, she turned to look at the assembled crowd. A decent number were still staring. She took a long sip of her drink and gave a curt nod.

They all nodded back, the crowd returning to their chatter.

"You want a better drink than that, toots?" From behind Desi, a peahen with a lisp grinned at her. She rested her elbows on the counter, seemingly the one watching the booze and making the cocktails, should one desire.

"Toots?" The perch glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow at the bird. Now that the chatter in the rest of the space was getting back to normal, she was letting herself relax. "I think that's a first." She took another sip of her rye and ginger ale, swishing the drink around in her cup a bit. "Uh, sure. Something for sipping, if you don't mind. Name's Desi."

"Sadie." She bent down and pulled out a few nicer bottles from under the display, some vermouth and orange liqueur, cognac and bitters. She mixed them in two other plastic cups. Once done, she slid it across to Desi. "Called a Vieux Carré."

Desdemona nodded. She slid a couple more bills into the Kits for Kits cup, and then took the new drink. She gave it a sniff and raised an eyebrow at the peahen. She took a tentative sip. Her eyes widened, and she gulped it down. "Well damn. That's good. And, uh, strong."

She put a hand into the pocket of her leather jacket and held onto her drink with the other. Her eyes scanned the space, and she took another tentative sip. "So uh, Sadie. How often do you guys hold shows here? A friend told me about the place, but he didn't say all that much about it."

"They happen when they happen. We don't really plan these. And there ain't much to say. You know about this place, or you don't." She snickered. "But you picked a hell of a night to show up. Got our best local coming up soon. Hope you like metal."

Desdemona grinned at that. "Please. I was in the absolute best shitty glam metal band when I was in high school. I mean, my buddy who told me about this place went on to actually have a good band. I, uh, kinda went a different path." She took another long sip before asking, "So who's this band?"

"The Underdead." Sadie patted Desi on the shoulder. "Finish your drink before you go too close. We mosh hard." She pointed to the wall. There were holes where various body parts had impacted the concrete walls hard enough to leave marks. Dates were written above each.

Desi glanced over at the marks. It took her a moment to realize what she was looking at, and she blinked. For a few seconds, she felt the undeniable urge to toss back her drink and hop into the middle of the crowd for the melee to follow.

That lasted about as long as it took her to think of what her trainers would say if she showed up for her flight home tomorrow with busted knuckles from punching a concrete wall. She groaned internally, then nodded to Sadie. "Thanks for the tip."

She started making her way towards the back of the space, where she would be able to avoid the worst of it.

The abysmal lighting meant that Desi would not be easily recognized. A few patrons bumped into her, and she into them, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. From behind the curtain, the shuffling of bodies melded with the instrument tests. The crowd barely reacted. A few harsh but metered drum beats came, followed by the bass, then a few guitars.

Sound test done, a wharf roach, with his many limbs, emerged from the curtain, which finally got the crowd going. He held a mic up to his mandibles. "Everyone drunk yet?!"

Desdemona raised her plastic cup in response, as a ragged cheer went up from the crowd. By now, she was leaning against the back wall, her eyes scanning the crowd while the roach kept speaking. There was a couple a few feet to her left already making out in the dim light, but she tried to ignore them and focus on the stage.

The MC of sorts shouted a few more things, but the words were drowned out by the cheering. As it subsided a little, she could hear him saying, "--dy in Black on drums, welcome back to the Kibble Cave, The Underdead!"

The perch finally pushed herself off from the wall as the couple's affections grew more animated. As such, she had an obstructed view of the stage as the curtain fell. From what bits she could see, though, it was almost as if a full Scandinavian death metal troop had been teleported to Alaska.

She stopped dead as the opening notes started.

The lead singer looked to be a chickadee, yellow feathers painted in black and white designs, who let out a guttural note, dragging it out and getting the crowd into the music. The bass and guitar entered into a frantic beat, and mere seconds later, the deep boom of bass drums filled what little air was left. The bassist, a halibut with red contact lenses, and the guitarist, a leech with fake blood streaming from their round mouth, were the perfect parenthetical to the singer.

Then there was the drummer, sticks striking with furious abandon, changing time signatures with each movement in the song. From the crowd, the canine looked larger than she was, fur painted to look like a popular video game monster, absurdly long tongue hanging out.

Desi just stood rooted to the ground as the noise washed over her. Moments later, she realized that the mass of people in front of her, between her and the stage, had all started writhing and roiling as one enormous mosh pit. It was only the few people on the edges like her that were spared from being pulled into the mass of bodies.

She was able to just catch sight of the band - small flashes here and there - through the flailing limbs of the crowd. She actually laughed out loud in delight when she saw the fake blood dripping from the leach's mouth. Soon, she backed up flush against the rear wall again and rose to her tiptoes to peer above the crowd.

Her eyes focused on the drummer in the back. She couldn't help but stare - the canine was a flurry of nonstop movement. Desdemona couldn't keep up with her and found herself gulping a bit with each abrupt shift in time signature.

The band entered into a bridge of noise, controlled, effectual noise, but noise nonetheless. The strings were held to the speakers, expert fingers plucking them, while the drummer kept a beat that sounded like nonsense. She kept smiling, both part of the act and an expression of pure joy.

It was while watching that joyful expression that something finally clicked for Desi. She blinked, staring at the dog for a few more moments, and her rapid, bouncy movement. It was familiar, it was so fucking familiar...

Then she let out a surprised yelp that was fully lost in the noise. Desi turned, and made her way along the walls, occasionally slipping into the moshing for a bit and using her bulk to push through, until she reached the makeshift bar again. Once she was there, she leaned over closer to Sadie, the fish yelling to be heard.

"That- That's Lady Black!"

"Yeah! The Lady in Black! She's a regular!" The revelation was nothing to the rocking bartender, nor to anyone else there. The drummer didn't have a name, just knew how to blast her beats.

"No, I mean that's actually..." The perch trailed off, staring at the peahen as Sadie kept watching the stage. It slowly dawned on her. Desi was an over six and a half foot tall fish, and she was wearing a Tides hoodie quite visibly under her leather jacket. Nobody since she'd walked in here had recognized her. Of course, that was often the draw of such crowds for her - it was a place where nobody would know her.

She turned back to look up at the stage. 'The Lady in Black' had one hand raised in the air, and was twirling a drumstick around her fingers while she kept playing with the other hand and her feet. Her tongue was hanging out, panting for air past a mad grin. The crowd roared as she brought that twirling drumstick back down and launched into another incredible drum line.

Desdemona watched for a bit longer, not saying anything. She shrugged. She put her empty plastic cup down by the bar and stretched her sore muscles. With that, she waded into the mosh pit, letting the mass of bodies push her to and fro.

The hum of chatter after a show always sobered the corgi. Lady and the band retreated to the backroom, grinning at each other for a successful show. Lady flopped onto the decrepit couch beneath the wall of performers, their names scribbled in every ink imaginable. An old, ratty cat padded up and uttered a raspy mew for attention. "Heya, Kibble." The little feral cat hopped up and purred.

A moment later, a harried-looking hare poked her head through the door. There was a pair of padded headphones sitting around her neck, and sweat was matting her t-shirt from managing most of the technical side of things throughout the show. She looked at a loss for a moment, before inclining her head.

"Uh, Lady?" It was a title, not a name to her. "Sorry, there's somebody who wants to talk to you. Says she's a friend from out of town or something. Like, weirdly tall fish, sorta buff?"

Lady raised an eyebrow. She sat up, having removed nothing of her costume. "Tall buff fish lady?" She mused for a moment. She was having slight difficulty placing who could possibly know her. "Hmm. Ask her what position she plays."

The hare blinked. "Wait, is that a sex thi..." She trailed off, sighed, and pulled her head back out of the door. With the door ajar, it was possible to hear her say, "Okay, The Lady asked what position you pl- Actually, fuck it. I'm a sound tech, not a courier." Her footsteps receded.

A moment or two later, Desdemona poked her head in the door. "Uuuuh... hey?"

Lady winced to get a better view of the perch in the low light. "Whoa, Desi?!" She hopped up, and Kibble went skittering away. She bounced over to the tall fish and gave her a hug. "What are you doing here?!"

Desi let out a small 'wuff!' as the corgi's arms wrapped around her. She laughed. "A friend told me about this place, and I needed some stress relief after the game. I wasn't expecting, uh..." She trailed off and laughed again and gestured down at Lady.

"Who would?!" She chuckled, her tail going a mile a minute. She let go of Desi and stepped back. "Well, you win the prize for being the first to catch me!" She snickered.

"What, you mean nobody else has figured it out yet? That's..." The fish glanced around the venue. "...right. I guess you did a good job hiding it. I probably wouldn't have found it without some serious help." She hesitated for another second, then asked, "Wait, so...nobody else knows? Like, none of them?"

"Well, Naima knows I drum, but no one's found out about this. Not until you!" Lady smiled. She didn't seem bothered by this little secret of hers, her tail still flitting quickly. "Did you have fun?!"

"I mean, yeah! You're, uh... fuck, dude." She laughed, glancing around at the rest of the band. "You guys kinda kick ass, if I'm being honest." The perch looked back to Lady, leaned in, and spoke more softly. "So uh... do the rest of these guys know about your day job?"

Lady shrugged. "Maybe, but it hasn't come up." She kept smiling. "And thank you for the compliment. It's a pretty nice group." She looked to the others, all of them getting their makeup off. "Hey, come meet my coworker!" She didn't know if Desi wanted to be outed or not.

Desdemona greeted Lady's bandmates and was able to fall in quite easily with them. They chatted back and forth about various bands, and eventually they got onto the subject of some of the more ridiculous shows all of them had played.

Before long, Desi was leaning back in one of the seats in the green room. Lady's bandmates had just left to go and grab drinks, leaving the pair alone. The perch let out a breath, then glanced over at the corgi.

"So like... aren't you on a one-year contract? What happens if you wind up running off somewhere else this summer?"

The question caught Lady off guard, but a moment of thought led her to a simple gesture: a shrug, followed by a smile. "I'm no stranger to being the part-timer. I told them I might not be here past May or June, and they understand."

Desi snorted. "These guys are good, but something tells me they'd have trouble filling the hole you would leave in their sound." She considered for a long moment, then asked, "So what is this, then? Just stress relief?"

Lady nodded. "Yep. It's a thing just for me. Makes me happy, gets the energy out." The flounder came back in and handed a drink to each of them. Lady held a rather impressive 40 ounce. She waved as they were left to themselves, everyone outside breaking things down. "So, how is it playing with the champions?"

Desi groaned, and reached up to knead at her forehead. She took a sip from her beer before she responded. "I mean, I can't wait for us to stop being champions and for people to stop acting like that means anything, for starters." She blinked, glancing up at Lady again. "Er... sorry. That may have been a bit sharper than I meant."

Lady shook her head, a smile still splayed from ear to ear. "No, please. I asked."

The perch shrugged. "I don't know. It's all anybody can talk about. It's like half of our team and half of the people we play against have a chip on their shoulder because, oh no, the champions!" She leaned back in her seat again, letting her impressive height slouch. "I'm just here because I want to play basketball and then hang out with some cool people afterwards. Like, y'know." She gestured vaguely towards herself and then over at Lady with her drink.

The corgi's tail revved up again. "I'm cool?!" She showed some teeth with this grin. She leaned forward and held her enormous beer out for a cheer.

Desdemona grinned and tapped her glass against the corgi's. "Anybody who can play ball like that, then go right into putting on a show like that, and then drink a glass that's, like, half her size? Sounds pretty cool to me."

She snickered. "I'm a hick, so this is my bread and butter." She took a big swig, then burped. "You're pretty cool, too, and a way better player than me."

"Let's not be too hasty on that one." She took a draw on her own beer. "You've got some serious moves. I just know how to not fall over when somebody pushes."

"And I don't know how not to get up when I'm knocked over!" Lady was known for running into a few too many hips and getting day-to-days.

"So, uh... hick?"

"Yep. Middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, where everyone thinks they're southern."

Desdemona snorted into her drink. "That sounds like a whole story right there. How does that lead to the basketball drumming metalhead? The Lady in Black?"

"Well, basketball was easy. I would just run all the time when I was little on my parents' ranch. They got annoyed when I kept doing it inside, so they put me in basketball. Just kinda snowballed from there. Varsity, scholarship. Nothing super special." She cleared her throat and took another swig. "Drumming? I don't know. I did band in high school on percussion, and over the years, I just kept collecting new set pieces."

Desi nodded. She stood up as Lady spoke and wandered around the green room. When she reached the wall covered in signatures, she stopped and stared at it. It was almost more black ink than paint by that point. Her eyes scanned over it, widening. "Well fuck," she laughed, and fished out her phone. She held it up and steadied the camera, before snapping a pic of a messily scrawled word. 'Dredless.'

"This is wild. This is my friend's band." She glanced down at her phone and started writing a text. For a few moments, all was quiet but for the tapping of her finger against the screen. Her voice was hesitant when she next spoke. "So, uh... you aren't nervous for the off-season, then?"

"Hmm?" Lady swung her feet on the edge of the couch. She tilted her head back and took a much longer drink. She sighed. "A bit, yeah. Alaska gambled on me. I haven't exactly made a name for myself." She wiggled so she was closer to standing. "What about you?"

The perch snorted. "Fucking terrified." She finished her text and sent it off with the picture. She watched it go and briefly wondered if this would finally get her a response from Simon.

She shook her head, and glanced over to Lady. "I dunno. So many of the people I got drafted with are amazing. I'm just... sorta keeping my gills wet, so to speak. If I wanted I could try to go to a team that's banking on another ring, but that just seems boring. Or maybe I stay in Bangor where everything's good and easy, and I get bored anyways. I do dumb shit when I'm bored."

"Like what?" She tapped her claws against the bottle.

"Mostly find stuff to get me un-bored. Like get into fights. Or double down on training and push people away. Or, y'know, wander up on land and try to play some weird game with a ball I've never tried before." She grimaced a bit as that one went on.

Lady chuckled. "Or go to an underground metal show?" She sipped a little more beer, most of it gone in a short time. "Well, wanna go be bored somewhere cool?"

Desi gave her a wry grin back, then shrugged. "Oh hell yeah, let's go."

"Yay!" Lady tilted the beer back and finished the remaining twenty ounces in one straight act. Desdemona just stared as the corgi gulped it down. Once done, Lady sighed loudly. "Just, uh, let me get cleaned up a bit."

Desi was still staring. "Uh... yeah, sure." She tipped back the rest of her own beer and stepped out of the green room to give the corgi some privacy. After three drinks, she was beginning to get a bit tipsy. Somehow, she had the feeling that Lady was just getting started.

After a few minutes, Lady emerged with her fur scrubbed. Her silly grin suggested the alcohol was beginning to hit her. "I ordered a Shrewft!" She held up a finger and marched over to her bandmates. They chuckled at her. A quick chat, and she wobble-bounded to the perch. "Let's stop at a liquor store first, then I've got something to show you."

Desi put an arm around the corgi's shoulders, and started walking back towards the door. She was rubbing at her temples but laughing as she spoke. "Wait, we're stopping at a liquor store? I've already had, like, one shitty drink, one fancy drink I can't pronounce, and a beer! I know people like to talk about drinking like a fish, but uh..." As they strode out the door, the perch turned, then blew a kiss to the kodiak bouncer. She turned back forward again, stumbling a bit against Lady as they started up the steps and into the cooler air outside.

The bear shook his head, albeit with a smile. "Night, ladies. Be safe."

Lady waved a bit. The corgi didn't seem the type for any of this, and yet she just went with the flow of the evening.

A short ride in the car, a quick stop in the store, and they were on their way somewhere with a small bottle of bourbon. Lady wiggled the whole time. "Heh, this wasn't how I was planning tonight to go. I wasn't sure if you'd want to hang out."

Desi was a bit more sprawled out in the backseat than she would normally be. She had been watching the dark streets and streetlights of Anchorage roll by, all of them unrecognizable to her. She was vaguely aware that they were approaching the harbor, but beyond that she was lost. She glanced over as the corgi spoke, then shrugged. "Well I mean... I don't know. The Tides are great, but you spend enough time alone with a group and sometimes you need a break. And like, obviously this is a huge surprise, but I'm having fun. Are you?"

"Yeah!" She smiled. "I like making people happy, so as long as I'm doing that, I'm good."

After a short drive, the lights of the taxi cast a linking shadow. A chain link fence sat in front of them. "This where you wanted?" the gannet driver asked.

Lady nodded. She held up a fifty to him. "Nice tip if you don't tell the cops anyone's here."

He took the money. With a grin, "You got it, ma'am. Need me to swing by again?"

"Sure! In an hour or two." She pulled the handle on the door and hopped out of the car.

Desdemona stepped out into the late night air, then pulled the blue hood of her sweatshirt up over her head. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket, then stepped over closer to the fence. "Okay, so now you've got my curiosity piqued. What are we about to go do that the cops might be interested in?"

By the time Desi had finished her question, Lady was halfway up the fence. "Breaking and entering!" She reached the top and threw her leg over, careful not to drop the bourbon. It was then that Desi noticed a "NO TRESPASSING" sign every fifteen feet or so along the fence.

The fish blinked once. As the corgi landed on the other side of the fence, she blinked again. She grinned and started up the fence herself. She was holding back a laugh as she spoke. "Swear to god, Lady, if a pack of attack dogs come after us, we are going to have words!"

"You just have to run fast!" coming from the fastest of the 2019-20 class. She trotted along. Desdemona snorted at the corgi's response and jogged to catch up. Once the perch caught up with her, Lady hummed a little of one of the songs she had played that night.

Out of the darkness, a large, structural figure emerged. From the outside, it looked like a factory. The two criminals appeared to be heading for one of the loading docks.

Desdemona followed along in silence as the figure ahead of them started to come into view. The fish blinked when she finally realized what she was looking at and laughed. "Oh you've got to be kidding." To the corgi's look, Desi nodded ahead. "I played my first 'show' on land in an abandoned grain elevator. In, like, the middle of winter. It's like being back home, just with, uh... less frostbite and a lot more salt in the air."

Lady paused. She inhaled a long, very vocal gasp. "Show?! What do you play?!" Her voice echoed against the dark backdrop of trees and hills.

Desi kept walking forward, her hands still in her pockets. Now that she could see where they were headed, she wasn't trailing behind quite as much. "Oh, lord. Piano. I, uh, am not as good as you. It sorta fell to the wayside after I got into basketball. But Simon, my buddy who told me about the Kibble Cave? We had a band in high school. We were, uh... a bit of a trainwreck." She laughed.

"But those are the best! And piano is cool!" She laughed. "The most fun I've had playing music is with bad instruments in garages." She picked up the pace. "Do you always compare yourself to other people?"

Desdemona snorted. "I mean, to be fair, my points of reference for music are my mom, who has stories about meeting celebrities and touring Europe and shit, and my best friend, who's apparently crashing the punk world. Which is fine - I enjoy what I can do, and I love what Simon and I did in high school. Half of the fun was just how trash it was. Nothing wrong with keeping things in perspective, though."

"Only if that perspective slows you down." Lady bounded ahead. The door to the bay was open just slightly, enough for them to slide underneath the tanker-sized shutter.

Inside, the air was damp with the coming spring thaw. There were machines and conveyor belts everywhere. "Welcome to the old Manatell Brothers factory!"

Desdemona brushed off her jacket as she stood back up. She glanced around the enormous space, and sniffed once or twice at the musty air. She stepped over to one of those conveyor belts, and raised an eyebrow at it.

"Alright, this is rad, but you'll have to forgive me. I still have massive surface culture blind spots. Uh... who are the Manatell Brothers?"

"They're a big toy company. I read online that this factory shut down a while ago. I've been wanting to explore it." Lady padded into the midst of the abandoned machines and bins. They hadn't been the only ones ever there, with graffiti and smashed bottles of booze littered about.

Desdemona nodded and prodded at the conveyor she was standing by. "So I've gone from wandering into a random basement, to hopping a fence to break and enter and make plans for attack dogs, to wandering through what is definitely a haunted factory." She turned and walked deeper into the factory, following that wiggling red bob of headfur ahead of her.

They descended farther into the factory. Lady took out her phone to use the flashlight. The first thing she pointed at was one of the belts. She snickered. Setting down the whiskey on the ground, her feet moved excitedly. She made a running start and jumped for the line, speeding down the short conveyor belt. Her giggling echoed, but as soon as the belt turned, she promptly returned to the floor. "Fuck!" She disappeared over the line, resuming laughing after hitting the floor.

Desdemona was laughing, too. She grabbed up the bottle of whiskey, then hopped onto the belt. She strolled down its length, until she reached the point where the corgi had dropped off. She looked down at the canine and grinned. "Still in once piece?"

The flashlight cast deep shadows on Lady, her grin almost maniacal. "Ye-heh-heah." She pushed herself up, and she noticed one of the nearby bins. "No fucking way." She rushed to it, and inside, there were old, discarded toys and parts.

Desi hopped down, jogging to try to keep up with the corgi. "Lady, I swear, if this is the part where you put together a bunch of different toy parts into some sort of horrifying monstrosity…"

The suggestion made Lady laugh with a deeper tone. It seemed the corgi was more mischievous when drunk. She reached her hand in, just tall enough to dangle over the edge of the bin.

Desdemona walked over to the struggling canine, eying her as she went to her tiptoes and strained to get her hand over the edge of the bin. After a few moments of watching the dog struggling, the perch rolled her eyes. "Okay, we're going uppies."

She leaned over, and hooked her arms under the corgi's armpits, before lifting her up with a small grunt. She held Lady up at that height while she rooted through the bin, waiting.

"Maybe next time we'll make the monstrosity. This time…" At the confirmation from the corgi, Desdemona put her down, and then backed up. "This time, you get a present!" She opened her hand, and inside was an old, plastic yoyo, a deep, clear blue in color.

It was a good five or so seconds before Desdemona rubbed at her brow and laughed again. "What in the hell is that?"

"It's a yoyo!" She snickered. "You didn't play with anything like this when you were a kid?"

Desdemona kept eying it, and then raised an eyebrow. "I have no idea what it is. What does it... do?"

Lady let out another Ladyesque gasp. She put her phone away. She fashioned a little loop at the end of the string. She slid it on her middle finger, and with a flick of the wrist, the yoyo went down then back up.

Desi blinked as she watched all of this, including the bounce down and then up. She reached up and scratched at the side of her head. "Yeah, I mean, that would do it. Gravity-based toys don't necessarily, uh, cut it underwater. How the hell does that work, though? Are you supposed to, like, bounce it off the ground or something before it goes up, or..."

Lady shook her head. "Nope! The string unwraps, and at the bottom, it switches and wraps back up!" She undid the loop, handing it to Desi. "Try."

The fish grabbed it. After a few attempts, she managed to get the string tight around her finger. She held her hand out, gripping the thing awkwardly, and let go.

The yoyo unwound, wobbling as it dropped. Desdemona watched, tense. As it hit the bottom and started to tug back up, she tried to give her arm a yank upwards, mimicking what she'd seen the corgi do.

The yoyo rebounded up, and Desi let out a yelp and covered her face as it rocketed by. It bounced a bit at the end of its string, before coming to a stop at the base. She glared at the yoyo for a bit, and then muttered, "Oh, so that's how it is. Okay, give me a few minutes."

Lady nodded. She watched as the fish practiced. She interjected at small moments to give little pieces of advice, wrist movements and such. It was like she was watching someone be a kid for the first time in a while, or at least share in a part of her childhood. Lady backed up and sat on one of the belts. "I used to play with these in middle school. I had a Buncan Moth this color."

It was probably about ten minutes later, with more than a bit of sweat beaded on Desi's forehead, that she finally got the yoyo to come back up most of the way. She dipped her hand down and grabbed it out of the air. "Hah, fuck yeah! Take that!"

She stood there for a few moments, panting, before she glanced over at Lady and blinked. "Oh, uh. Sorry. I guess I, uh, kinda got into that a bit. Uh... gravity stuff is still super weird and tricky for me. You'd think after living mostly on land for a few years I would get it, but, well..." She shrugged. She wandered on over and took a seat on that belt next to Lady. "Uh... by the way, thank you for this. I mean, like, tonight. The yoyo too, but the whole night."

Lady was distracted herself trying to finagle the whiskey bottle open. Her teeth were bared as she tried pulling out the cork, which eventually gave out with a resounding pop. She chuckled, removing it from her mouth and sliding it in her pocket. "You wanted some fun, so I wanted to make sure you had it." She took a quick swig before holding it out to Desi.

The perch took the bottle and took a good swig herself. She passed the bottle back, and then laid back on the belt. "I appreciate it." She lay there for a few more moments in silence, then muttered, "And good luck with everything this off-season. I hope for your band's sake that Alaska offers enough to keep you."

Lady didn't say anything for a moment. "Yeah. I hope you find your place, too."

Featured Characters

Lady Black
Desdemona Iverson