The Virtuous Pie, Afternoon of the Graveyard Fight
Half an hour later, and Amaryllis was beginning to realize that she may have come too early. Dressed in her usual low-profile combo of cosmetic glasses, a ribbed sweater, sweatpants, and sneakers, she sat hunched inside a booth at Virtuous Pie
, a supposedly ‘high fast casual’ pizzeria and parlor that specialized in vegan foods. It was a bit nerve-wracking, telling the waitress that she’d need a table for a party of four, when she was only one, and now, sitting there, Amaryllis could practically feel the judgment of everyone else in the room. Nervous sweat began to bead on her forehead as she tried to make herself as small as possible.
Too eager, way too eager. And what if they all suddenly had to take a rain check? What if Rina meant a different place? Oh god, would she be able to leave with just ordering water here before scuttling off somewhere else? Amaryllis chewed the inside of her lip, ignoring the half-hearted murderous impulses of her Sword. She should have taken a longer shower. She didn’t still
smell, did she? With all the grace of an elephant, the devastatingly beautiful girl stealthily took a whiff of the crook of her elbow, only to lament that she couldn’t smell anything at all.
Those fashion magazines always said, after all, that people were naturally accustomed to their own body odors, so weren’t actually capable of telling if they smell bad or not.
Amaryllis wormed further into herself, wondering briefly if it wasn’t too to pretend to take a call, walk out the pizzeria, and just run all the way back home in shame. How many more times would the waitress come by to offer to fill up her glass of water while subtly nudging her towards actually ordering pizza or ice cream? Amaryllis didn’t know, but she also didn’t want to be a glutton and order food for herself before anyone else arrived. Except if she didn’t, she’d just be a loiterer.
Gosh, what a hellish scenario.“Yo, Shakespeare.”
Before Amaryllis could slip further into a spiraling descent of anxiety, there was a friendly slap on her shoulder as Rina walked up and waving down the waitress. “Chocolate milk.”
Sliding into the booth across from Amaryllis, Rina leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table.
She wouldn't mention her nervously fidgeting outside for five minutes and her brief panic over possibly having to be the first one here.
And now there was another problem.
What to talk about now? Saving the world? That felt crass. The weather? That was just lame. Plans for next horror encounter? No this was a victory celebration. Normal people didn't spend their entire time planning for the next world ending disaster. Something more personal? Amaryllis was pretty beat looking when they left the graveyard.“You look good.”
Rina blinked. “Uh I mean, y'know, since the graveyard and stuff.”“Uh, yeah, you do too,”
Amaryllis managed to squeak out, after only barely suppressing a yelp of surprise. “Did t-”
Penny would be the next one to arrive, or at least the next one to enter the restaurant. Dressed in her usual baggy outfit.
She had been the first one to get here but had chosen to wait on a rooftop across the street for others to show before venturing inside herself. Mainly it was because she was the only one with a hard time limit. Partly it was fun watching people be nervous when nothing serious was going on, but that might just be her hanging out with Chloe too often.“Hey you two,”
Penny would say in greetings as she slid into the booth seat next to Rina before she too waived down the waitress to order her drink “Get me the biggest, fizziest, drink you can.”
, who stopped by as Penny settled in, wrote up the orders on a big notepad. “Ultra-fizzy, extra-titanic drink, coming right up!” She cheerfully responded. “Anything else?”“Like the restaurant choice, never been before.””It’s a nice place, yeah,”
Amaryllis said, sipping on her own glass of water. “Um, so, should we order now, or?”
Alicia was the last to enter the building, following closely on Penny’s heels. She’d had some business to take care of, reporting back to her superiors in Beacon and stuff like that, but now she was ready to kick back and take off some of the load. She had switched to an orange shirt with little floral patterns on it, but otherwise it was the sort of outfit that she usually wore.
Quickly identifying the trio, she slid into the last spot in the booth next to Amaryllis. “Looks like the gang’s all here. At least for this size of table anyway.”
She wasn’t entirely sure that other people wouldn’t show up, but if they were going to she didn’t know about it. “I’ll have a Sprite,”
she told the waitress before reaching over to snag one of the menus that were laying on the table between them all. “So, are we all getting our own personal pan things, or is there a topping we all have in common?”
She hadn’t been to this place before, so she was going to need a moment or two to see what they had available that she might want.“Well since it seems like everyone's here,”
Rina leaned back in the booth, one foot resting on her other knee. “I'll have - uh.”
Wait no. Would people think that was weird. Most people would right? Most people consider it weird. “-I'll eat anything so you guys get whatever.”
Penny raised an eyebrow at Rina at the odd stumble but shrugged it off “I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a paycheck when I get home, so I’m willing to splurge. Thinking we get an extra, extra, large to split and a sundae each?”
She would offer as she also grabbed a menu to look over the options. “We can go half and half on the pizza in case someone wants something odd like…”
She stalled for a moment trying to think of something she wouldn’t eat on a pizza anymore, and came to the bemused realization that she would eat just about anything now “...Anchovies?”
her uncertainty was obvious.
Amaryllis shuffled to the side as Alicia sat by her, pressing herself against the wall so that neither of them had to make physical contact with the other. “Um, it’s…”
Amaryllis mumbled, finding it difficult to find the right words.
At that moment, the waitress opened the menu she was holding in her arms; she seemed to uncannily sense Amaryllis’ hesitation.
“Our handcrafted pizzas are made entirely in-house! This includes our artisanal nut based cheeses and our three-day dough that is hand stretched for the best tasting plant-based pizzas! Also, all pizzas are sized at 10 inches for an individual portion! I would recommend the cheese pizza with olives; that combo is simply the best.”“But...we can share anyways, I guess? They have stuff like...chickpea curry pizza and this thing called, ultraviolet. Like, if we’re here, we might as well try something we can’t get from Pizza Hut…”
But wait, it was reasonable to just go with safe choices too. Not like magical girls get paid for saving the world and all. Amaryllis had a good ten thousand dollars she converted into decently well-performing stocks, but maybe others were just more austere about it? “There’s margherita too, if you don’t want anything too...uh, out there?”
Leaning forward just a bit so she could eye the text on the menu, there was a small rush of embarrassment on Alicia’s part. “Oh, I see.”
But it was something she fairly quickly moved past, what with it being her first time here. At least they had settled that before they had the food right in front of them.
Turning back to the menu in her own hands, she scanned the items before settling on one in particular. “I think I’ll have the Calabrese. That seems good. If we’re trying different from the Pizza Hut norm, then getting something with a bit of a kick to it should fit right in.”“Huh...”
Penny read that bit of text herself before shrugging it off “In that case I’ll take a Chorizo and Artichoke with extra everything.”
Silently agreeing with Alicia’s assessment of getting something with some kick.
Taking a look at the menu, Rina was a bit unimpressed. In fact, almost none of the items here seemed like stuff she was used too. Rina began sweating as she looked at the menu. Guess this is what she should have expected from a vegetarian in-human lizard people establishment. She didn't even know what half of these ingredients on this list was.“...I'll take the Harvest.”
Rina replied simply.
The waitress silently wrote up the various orders as they came in, her bubbly personality showing from her repeating the orders. “...One Calabrese, and one Harvest. Wow, you girls sure are having a party today! Just wait a teensy tiny moment. Have fun!” And with that, she quickly turned and left for the kitchen, her long blonde hair fluttering behind her.“Oh, uh…”
But before Amaryllis could get her own order out, the waitress had already headed off to the kitchen. Her raised hand dropped back down to the table. That was fine, she guessed. The place looked busy anyways. She could order once the waitress came back. Yup, that was the way to do it.“So…”
the buxom teen said instead, “Are you all working? Or still in school?”“Ha, used to work. I actually was a police officer for Penrose until...two or three years ago?”
Rina replied dismissively. “Kinda tough to get a job when you look like this.”
Alicia didn’t notice until the waitress had left that Amaryllis had not had the chance to order. Which seemed pretty rude, not something she would have expected. Her tip would mirror her displeasure when the night was over, that was for sure. But she tried to move past that, since an issue had not been made of it. “Same,”
she agreed with a nod towards Katarina. “Used to work part time, but now I’m back at school. With a lot more to worry about than student debt this time.”
She finished with a pained grin, confident that at least some of the others probably understood her pain.“Neither for me at the moment, very tricky to maintain either when you can only be human for about four hours a day.”
Penny would answer picking apart her napkin absently. She had noticed that an order had been missed but thought that Amaryllis might have placed an order and just had them put it on hold while she waited for the rest of them. “I used to work on developing new hardware and software before my abduction into the community, and was gladly out of school.”
The waitress soon returned with a basket of bread and the ordered drinks set on a tray, and placed the items on the table. “Here you go: one ultra-fizzy, extra-titanic drink, one Sprite, and water. The bread’s on the house.” As she carefully placed the basket to the side of Amaryllis, her eyes widened. “Gahh! I forgot to take your order! I’m sorry!” She bowed at a 90-degree angle. “I was a bit too excited, since you girls...Oh well. Can I take your order, miss?” She looked like she corrected her words at the last minute, and slightly blushed from the embarrassment of facing up to the mistake she made.
Penny narrowed her eyes at the last moment change of words from their waitress, but chose to try out whatever concoction she had ended up ordering instead.“Oh, no, no,”
Amaryllis shook her head, now feeling totally awkward about the bowing and the apologizing. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, I didn’t know what I was getting anyways, so, uh...don’t feel bad about it. I’ll go for…Stranger Wings. Thanks.”
“A Stranger Wings, got it!” The waitress replied after jotting it down, and once again left. However, this time she nearly inaudibly whispered: “Geez, I got distracted...”
She was strong enough to eat spicy food like that, wasn’t she? Probably. Turning back to her companions, the bespectacled youth nodded, recalling all that they said. Rina was a police officer, that was super cool. Penny was in computer science and that was cool too. Alicia was a part-timer, but considering the trend of ‘your past profession somehow fits your present self’, Amaryllis wouldn’t have been surprised if the Star Seraph worked at a laser tag place or something. “Oh, I go to a vocational college myself. You guys, uh, heard of Penrose Technical? My backpack came with the documents that let me get in, so I’m sorta doing metalwork and all…” “Oh, and, Penny, if you don’t mind me asking...what do you mean by the, um...four hours of human thing? Does your Patron have you set for monster hunting for the other twenty hours, or?” “Nothing like that unfortunately,”
Penny would reply snagging breadsticks from the basket, content with her drink choice. “Laat has some odd rites for sure but that’s not one of them Thankfully. No, it’s trying to maintain this disguise for more than four hours a day tends to fray my temper and is generally very uncomfortable”
She would explain gesturing at herself as she spoke ”As it’s sort of like trying to act normally while also flexing all of your muscles at once in addition to being wrapped up in an outfit a half size too small. So long as I don’t push it to the point it falls apart, I can take about an hour break and reapply it for another couple of hours but I think that has more to do with my regeneration than anything.” “One of the joys of being a Monstergirl”
She add sarcastically before shrugging and taking a bite of her breadstick.“Oh wow,”
Amaryllis said, shaking her head. “That, wow, sorry to hear that.”
Her Sword sounded vaguely the same way, but at least she was still physically human at the end of the day. “Yeah, huh, that’s definitely not...fun.”“That's rough.”
Rina replied to both Penny and Alicia. “Whoever this Laat is sounds like a real piece of work.”
Rina leaned on the table. “Suppose that’s is one of the reasons I'm glad I don't have one. I'm not really all that great at following orders from people, hah.”
She shifted her gaze to the side, chuckling nervously. “...though having some support every now and then would be nice.”
Alicia nodded along as Penny explained the difficulties caused by her patron. It wasn’t anything she didn’t know already, so she took the occasional sip from her drink as the others chatted. Nonetheless, she at least tried to pay some attention rather than examining the decor of the restaurant at the expense of the other girls here.
The mention of support drew her attention back, and she left her drink alone as her clasped hands came to rest on the table. “That’s one of the reasons we’re here right now,”
she noted aloud. “Didn’t have much time to chat about that partnership you wanted before the cops showed up, and I’m not sure any of us were in a good mood to do so after the end of the world thing.”
A rueful grimace accompanied that statement, her mind flashing back to Regina’s escape before she dismissed it. She needed to focus on the here and now, not what she couldn’t change. “So, I guess if you’ve got some sort of pitch for this partnership now would be the time.”
Amaryllis perked up, eyes widening slightly. “P-partnership?”
The waitress’ return seemed to be perfect comedic timing on her part, as she slightly giggled upon hearing Amaryllis while pushing a small cart with two trays loaded inside it. “Sorry for intruding, but your orders are ready!” She took the plates out and placed them before the four customers. “Bonus Appetitos!”“Oh, uh, yea.”
Rina grabbed her pizza from the waitress, waving briefly at her before addressing Alicia. “Nothing huge. Just thought about potentially working with beacon.”
She cast a glance over to the Beacon girl with a mild frown. “...I'ma just straight up say I've never liked Beacon much. You all do good work, but sometimes I think you guys may be a bit...harsh. Not sure my ideals and yours mesh well.”
She glanced over to Penny. “So while I don't think I could join you guys in full...I dunno, is there a temporary position or something?”
Not much of a pitch in hindsight, but she'd rather be honest than try to oversell herself “...sorry if this seems a little awkward but after Penny told me you guys let her in I thought maybe you guys might be becoming a bit more...open.”“Thank you,”
Alicia said as she took her pizza, leaving it in place for the moment so it would have a chance to cool down to an eatable temperature. Which gave her more time to talk with Katarina, so that was alright regardless.
She couldn’t blame her for thinking that they went overboard sometimes, even she thought that they did too. But it was better to go overboard than to not go far enough and have innocent people suffer as a result. “With all the nonsense going on these days, we’re willing to let you work with us to keep people safe. That’s what’s most important after all. But there will probably be some conditions, like there were for Penny when she and her Patron allied with us.”“As long as you guys let me do my thing without too much interference...I can handle a few conditions. The red tape you guys would give me can't possibly be any worse than working for the government.”
Reaching for a slice of pizza, Rina took a bite of it.”[/color] Decent, but it was pretty hard to make bad pizza.
Still waiting, Alicia was not so eager to get to eating her food at the moment. They would see if Rina was able to live up to the requirements that Beacon would likely place upon her. ”Well, if what we had Penny do was any indication, the restrictions are fairly simple. No treachery, no blasphemy, you continue to stand in defense of mankind. And, uh, there might be a time limit, and there might be a test of somer kind eventually. Though I’m not sure, the Horror thing might be taken as a suitable test.”“Pretty sure both of you will have an easier time then I did getting a temp position in Beacon.”
Penny would add after trying a bite of her Pizza, savoring the added kick hse ordered. “They came looking for my Patron, Laat. He’s a God of Destruction and Change. The Beacon higher ups were foreseeing something on the horizon and wanted some backup, I was just part of the Deal they struck.” “Plus, Beacon has been relaxing it’s stance lately as well. If you take me and Kimbel as any indication.”
She would add after taking another drink from her Jumbo cup of fizz. “Pretty sure that’s on you though Alicia.”“Eh, I do most of that already.”
Rina replied dismissively. “But hey, we just saved the world so lets act like it. Not like I'm gonna be doing anything after this. I'm beat.”
Rina glanced over to Amaryllis with a small frown. She had been pretty silent this whole time. Well, understandable she supposed. Taking a sip of her own drink, Rina turned to Amaryllis, eyeing those wings she got. “You gonna eat those?”
She hadn't eaten half of her pizza yet, but those wings looked pretty good.
Amaryllis had been busy drinking water during all this. As expected, Stranger Wings certainly was spicier than what her tolerance had prepped her for, and between sips of water, she had ended up quietly listening to the others talk instead. It sounded like a lot of work-stuff, really, and Patron politics weren’t exactly something the girl cared about herself. Testing the tenderness of her tongue against her teeth, Amaryllis winced, before motioning Rina to go ahead.“On the topic of non-magical stuff,”
she ventured instead, eyes flickering from one person to the other, “D-does anyone follow Game of Stools?”“That’s good to hear,”
Alicia replied with a smile as Rina confirmed that the conditions wouldn’t be too much trouble. “I’ll pass it over to the Beckoners, see what they say, and get back to you.”
If there were any other conditions then they could work it out at the time. But she had Katarina’s number, so it wouldn’t be too much trouble either way.
At last she began to eat her pizza, a hum escaping with the large bite that she had taken. It was good, better than she had expected that it would be. So she found herself pleased as they decided to talk about something other than work. “The name rings a bell, but I’m not following it. What is it?”“Ugh. I try not to remind myself that it's over.”
Rina replied, picking up a wing unceremoniously from Amaryllis' plate. “And that last season...seriously, what were they thinking?”
She chomped down on the wing...and immediately regretted it. But showing so would be incredibly uncool. Her face contorted in mild discomfort as she tried to hide the inferno that was forming in her mouth. She wasn't good with spicy foods, but she didn't expect these guys to have some that hot, leaving the explanation to Amaryllis.“Wait it ended!?”
Penny interrupted before said explanation could commence before groaning “Guess that’s what happens when you lose access to TV for a year”
Penny was having no problem with the spiciness of her pizza and had even gone so far as to add hot sauce to it. She hadn't been a fan of things this hot before joining the Community but having regeneration seemed to have removed the downside of eating such things.“Don’t worry about spoilers, not like I’m going to have a chance to watch anytime soon.”
She groused taking another bite of her pizza sad that she had missed the final season.
Amaryllis didn’t think the last season was all that bad herself, but she didn’t want to get into an argument with Rina about Game of Stools either. Turning her attention to Alicia instead, she took another sip of water, before explaining, “It’s, um, basically a sitcom with dramatic elements to it. There’s this town, you see, and there’s not enough plumbers to service all the, uh, ‘stools’, in the town due to deportations and all, so, basically everyone’s fighting over the one guy…”
It really sounded worse when she actually said it out loud, huh. Amaryllis’s ears burned, but she continued anyways. “It’s funnier than it sounds, really. Just that there’s a lot of characters and subplots, so it’s sorta hard to fully understand...but I guess the Internet’s there…””Ah, I see.”
Truth be told sitcoms weren’t really her thing, but if they liked it then there didn’t seem any harm in giving it a shot. She could afford to do the three episode test at least. ”I’ll have to look into it later.”
Settling into the discussion of tv shows, she wracked her brain for what she liked and had seen recently. Lighting up with a burst of inspiration she finished chewing her next bite of pizza before adding to what she had said. ”You know what I’m really looking forward to? The next season of Eastland. First season is phenomenal, second season is a bit rougher but still pretty good. I’m really looking forward to what they do with the third.”“Oh, Eastland’s getting a third season?”
Amaryllis perked up at this, leaning over the table slightly. “That’s really nice to hear. Gotta wonder how they’ll replace John Pattison for lead role though…”
Alicia shrugged, pleased to have found someone interested in the same kind of show that she was. ”Not sure. I’m just looking forward to what they’re gonna do now that they’ve expanded the scope of the show with how the finale ended. You know, maybe see some of those other zones that probably exist for people to interact with. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end. Downer endings are okay, so long as they’ve got some meaning to them/”“Eastland?”
Rina frowned lightly. She didn't remember watching that one, though the name was familiar. “Don't think I've ever watched that one. What's it about?”
Penny didn’t have anything to add to the conversation of Eastland. She had seen part of season one, but it hadn't clicked with her. So instead she was finishing off her food, while eyeing the desert menu intently. They gathered for Pizza and Ice cream, and Penny wasn’t leaving without both.
Alicia decided to take that question, allowing Amaryllis to eat her pizza for now. ”So basically it’s a show set in the future, and there’s this theme park where people pay to get in and can live out their fantasies in this grungy 1920’s city. And the entire place is filled with androids to interact with, and you can do whatever you want to them since they’re programmed not to harm people.”
She finished off her current slice of pizza before finishing the explanation. ”Only it turns out that the androids are starting to achieve sentience without anyone realizing it, and to remember what’s been done to them. That’s all I can really say without spoilers.”“Haaa....really?”
Rina frowned, finishing the last bite of her Pizza. “I never got those shows about sentient androids and stuff. If they got emotions like we do, then they might as well be human. Like that's just common sense, isn't it?”
She grunted, tossing an arm lazily over the back of the booth. “Anyways...someone mentioned ice cream when we got invited.”“Um…”
Amaryllis had wanted to talk about Eastland as well, about how it wasn’t actually as simple as ‘they have sentience so they’re human’. After all, their sentience was only part of their programming as well, and could easily be replicated with just Ctrl+A followed by Ctrl+C, putting to question what it actually means to be human when even something as complex as sentience and self-awareness can be made.
But ice cream. Yes, ice cream. With eye contact alone, Amaryllis did her best to summon the waitress again, who appeared with a bright smile on her face. “Did you enjoy the ultra-fizzy drink?” She asked with a giggle, and took out her notes. “Will you be having dessert as well? I recommend trying out our ‘Tiger’ ice cream: it’s vanilla with stripes of orange mixed in, combining into a wild taste, eheh!”
Alicia would have liked to debate as well, but she would have to be content with leaving it on the backburner and chatting with Amaryllis later. At least she had another fan to chat with. But the topic turned to ice cream, and after glancing at the remnants of pizza on her plate she decided that she was willing to go for dessert now too.”Yes, ice cream,”
she agreed before leaning over to look at the menu. ”Peanut Butter Cookie Dough works for me. The two scoop,”
she told the waitress after assessing her options. It was a party, why not indulge a bit?
Since Penny hadn’t gotten far in Eastland she hadn't known that it took up the debate of Sentience VS Humanity. Which as far as Penny was currently concerned she was as close to an expert as they could get, thus would have enjoyed that debate. But, alas, Ice cream trumps all.“I’ll take an Ice cream flight with Tiger, Marionberry cheesecake and Key lime pie.”
Penny would order before closing her menu “And the drink has been fantastic”
she would answer taking another swig of said draink.“Mm...Bourbon Vanilla?”
Amaryllis ventured. Had to try new things and all, even if she never drank Bourbon in her life.“Chocolate here.”
Rina simply replied, not too interested in trying anything fancy or new.
“Sure thing! But watch out for brain freeze!”Soon enough the waitress came back with bowls full of icy yet tasty goodness. She also brought the bill to them. “You can leave the money on the counter on your way out; I can tell you are honest girls~” She mused happily. She turned to leave. “I hope to see you here again!”
The ice cream soon arrived, Alicia giving a grateful nod to the waitress as she presented them with what they had ordered. ”Thank you,”
she said, eyeing the check. There was going to be a small debate over that, she was sure. But for now, she took up a small scoop of ice cream and lifted it in a faux salute. ”Well, it was nice meeting the both of you guys. Here’s to stopping many more evils in the future.”“Eyup,”
Amaryllis replied, her ears turning red from the faint taste of alcohol in her own ice cream, “To that, and, uh...romantic luck?”“R-romantic luck?”
Rina chuckled nervously. She felt like that was oddly directed at her after what happened with Mika. “Uh, yea yea, whatever. To beating up bad guys in the future.”
Penny grinned raising her own spoon in salute as well “To ‘Love and Peace!’”
She would quote before taking a bite of the frozen treat.
As the girls celebrated, a certain girl peered unseen at them.There’s no doubt about it....They must be them. I need to be careful around them. Especially the sword girl. Oh well, they’re paying customers, so for now...
A couple of bat wings sprouted on her
“They can be the ones to eat, ehe…”