“The restaurant still had cds, dozens and dozens of them in this dusty pile by the register. No aux cable as far as the eye could see.” Nico flinched. “Can you not, with your bare feet?”
Anzu kicked defiantly, digging in against the couch cushions with their back to continue their chilly assault. “So it was cool?” They asked, from around their gameboy screen. “You’re telling me she took you to a cool place.”
Nico’s ears drooped. “Mostly it was a bunch of weird zither tunes. And the food was like…”
“Challenging.” Nico slumped deeper into the couch. “Don’t get me wrong I appreciate when she takes initiative… it’s just… kind of disappointing for our…y’know…”
Anzu’s ears crossed, they perked up. “Go on, say it.”
“Familiarversary!” Anzu chorused, hands waving, arms high.
A throw pillow careened past Anzu’s head. “No.”
Anzu giggled back. “If she’s so bad at feeling your vibe or whatever you can break up you know. It’s not 50 years ago you don’t have to be”—shuffling the gameboy to one hand for scare quotes—“bonded,” or whatever, Grandma.”
“Dude I’m nine months older than you.”
“That’s besides the point.” Anzu wafted the gameboy emphatically with both hands. “I asked Oers’s friend, who is a medium. And she said breaking that stuff up—poof—” Nico winced, tracking the precarious wobble of the gameboy as Anzu’s arms went wide in elaboration. “Simple as…” The gameboy shot up into the air and Anzu threw out a lightning quick pair of finger-guns at the now-paralyzed-by-oncoming-electronic-grief Nico. “Pah-pah! ….Goin’ to the courthouse.“—The gameboy fell!
…with a whumpf, onto the couch cushions between Anzu’s legs.
Anzu grinned. “Anyway, it’s like thirty bucks. You don’t have thirty bucks?”
“I got thirty.” Nico slumped back onto the couch, tabbed around with the remote to try and find the Spacecraft tournament they’d originally intended to watch, though Anzu kept calling it the Spacewars tournament without a hint of irony, which did cause Nico to suspect Anzu’s commitment to the sport. “It’s the lingering twelve hundred from my EOOL violation that’s gonna kill me.”
“Oooh, ghost stuff!”
Nico squinted. “What the hell do you know about Exorcism law?”
“Enough to know somebody’s been”—Anzu’s eyebrows waggled— “Exorcising. Out. Of. License.”
Nico huffed. “They make reality tv about ghosts now?”
“Oers’s internet has been pretty”—Anzu wiggled a hand in the air and clicked their tongue a few times—“since that flood a while back? So that friend of hers has a whole office with a bunch of law books, that kind of thing, and since I’m always hanging around with nothing to do while they’re—”
Nico’s Anzu-sense pinged. “Anzu….. are you sure this friend…. Isn’t her wife?”
“Huh?” Anzu went blank faced, ears tilting from left to right and back again. Then they burst into a wild chortle, reaching for the half-killed sake bottle beside them on the floor. “Ahaha, nothing like that. Oh!” FWUNK! The plastic cork popped free and skittered across the floor. “They’re co-workers! Like you and Marigold!” Trailing off, Anzu took a long chug. There was so much left because Anzu bought the sweet stuff—i.e.: the cheap stuff—which is what will happen, if you let Anzu buy alcohol. Which gave Nico, comparatively sober, plenty of time to puzzle out….
“If she’s a medium, and you’re calling them co-workers…” Nico assessed the corners of the room for 3rd party observers. “Cripes. You’re dating a demon?”
Anzu’s nose wrinkled up, their eyes went to slits. A dribble of sake spilled over their chin. “Ehe! Cool, yeah?”
Nico paused for a good long time. Words had left them. Biting their lip, they raised their hands.
Outlining a box in the air.
No…. A larger one.
M-maybe a bit larger.
“Nico!” Anzu, aghast. Eyes gigantic beneath that shaggy fringe of hair. Just long enough to make Nico squirm. Then, they put both hands in front of them in quiet praise, bowed, and began to jitter. “Ffffffucking extremely!!” They cackled.
Nico paused for a sec, to let the mental image really firm up. They slouched on the couch, and smiled. “Damn, a demon. That’s like a super LDR.”
“Not really.” Anzu chugged the last of the sake. “She’s on the same subway line.”
“Yea, but she’s gotta traverse three planes before she can walk to the station…” Nico blinked. “Hey…”
Before Nico could respond, Anzu burst into a sudden motion, ice-cold feet kicked out, seeking vulnerable spots in the Nico-couch symbiote to burrow between for precious warmth.
Nico yelped, instinctually flinching away, but no matter how Nico contorted, the freezing arches of Anzu’s feet were never far behind.
“Give in!” Anzu squealed. “It’s freezing! I’m drunk!”
“Will you be quiet? You’ll wake up Marigold.” With a hand against Anzu’s face for leverage, Nico managed to wrestle them, laughing, to the couch. “I’ll get you a blanket!”
Anzu relented in an instant, slumping dead-limbed across the couch.
The streams of “Thank you, cousin!” and “Love you, miss you!” and various other obnoxiously affectionate bon-mots trailed Nico all the way down the hallway to the office.
A frizzy sensation rifled through Nico’s neck hair as they creaked the office door open, which probably narrowly saved them a (meta?)physical encounter with Marigold’s astral projection, hovering like a glittering blue constellation of her shape, somewhere between the door and the little linen closet in the side wall.
Marigold, the physical one, was slumped over the desk, steepled hat slumped over her face and… maybe (no, definitely) drooling a little, but it didn’t look like over anything important. Just those parody tarot cards Nico had gotten her one year in an unfortunately passive-aggressive plea to tune The Readings down a notch…
Nico skirted around the little celestial nymphs that flitted back and forth to outline Marigold’s form as she chatted emphatically gesturing with her hands towards unseen partners in muted conversations.
It was probably work. Nico hoped it was work. Astral bandwidth was really expensive this time of year and—
The nymphs twisted and flurried around one another as Marigold swayed with laughter.
It was probably work…. Related?
A little “snurrgurrgle” of a snort escaped Marigold, the physical one, as Nico tucked a blanket around her and said goodnight.
When Nico got back, Anzu was fully asleep fully sprawled out with fully one of the couch cushions on top of them for insulation. So Nico just chucked the blanket on top of the whole thing and hit un-mute on the TV.
Nico watched the TV for a while, til Anzu had to come up for air. Sneaking their head out from under the blanket, red-faced from booze and trapped body heat, and smiling cozily. “So what year is this, for y’all two?”
“Did she get you a gift?”
A startle-tremor ran through Nico. They scruffed their nails through the back of their hair. “Yeah.”
Anzu’s smeared wingliner accentuated to stiletto points. “Was it a good one?”
Nico reddened. Scratched at her collar bone like worrying up an old secret. “She’s… done worse.”
A satisfied little giggle, from the other side of the couch. “Bet she has.”
The little cartoon space man living and dying in 15 second intervals on the TV screen became very interesting, for a while. Long enough that all the thoughts in Nico’s head began to parse themselves out… one by one…
“So.” Anzu’s spine arched, sliding up the arm of the couch, their hands rooted blindly behind them, coming back with a fistful of red vines, morst of which ended up in their mouth on the first go. “How’s your mom?”