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Scenes of the Nineball Crew

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 “You look like you took a bath in barbecue sauce. Really old, chunky barbecue sauce.”


 "Gee, thanks," Kuiper huffed, shrugging off their blood-soaked jacket and tossing it into the washer. "I wasn't expecting that much blood to explode out of that thing."


 "Makes it better how?," Yori hummed, the blue Hylotl throwing her own thoroughly-filthy clothes into the same washer, pushing down the lid and click-clicking in a couple of pixels into a slot on the side. She pressed a button and the washer hummed to life, and Yori lifted herself to sit on it as it churned away, dressed in a halter top and capris in place of her usual, more traditionally-aligned bright-red ensemble, and started scrubbing at one of her bloodied boots with a package-worth of baby wipes she had gotten from a bathroom dispenser. "At least I remembered to bring some extra clothes. Oh, I hope this doesn't stain..."


 "Excepting the boots." The Novakid knew she had a point, though; Yori was already mostly clean and in fresh clothes, while Kuiper could feel the blood drying and flaking on their skin where it seeped through their turtleneck, making them uncomfortably itchy, and they had only washed their face and hands in the (very tiny and definitely not up to code) restroom. Their monochrome corona felt obnoxiously heavy and stiff with dried monster blood, and they were quickly coming to the conclusion that that entire monster hunt was not worth it.

 The laundromat was unoccupied, besides an elderly-looking Apex asleep in a chair by a long-finished dryer and the laundromat manager reading a paper behind his desk. The yellowed ceiling lights flickered and the ceiling fans rattled, giving the bona fide atmosphere of a crappy laundromat at two in the morning, complete with rat-chewed (or whatever rodent-based pest that inhabited this corner of the universe) baseboards and corners in the wood of the walls, a plaster roof, and rusty metal chairs by the window by an end table with a large stack of out-of-date magazines. Kuiper could swear they saw an Interspacial Astolographic from twenty years ago in there. After a few moments of peaceful silence, the washer gave an audible beep, and Yori absentmindedly scooted over to sit on top of another washer and continue scrubbing dried blood off the white vinyl, and Kuiper loaded the laundry into the dryer.


 "You aren't a team player, are you?" Kuiper turned to Yori, giving a confused grunt, prompting her to elaborate. "Earlier, when you ran off on your own instead of waiting and making a plan. That's something I feel like Nine would do, not you. Gave the great Yori quite the runaround!"


 "Oh. That. I had a plan."


 "What was it then?," Yori asked, finally looking away from her boot (which had little more than a faded pink stain left) and up at Kuiper with an expression of someone who knew they've already won the incoming argument and was prepared to gloat about it. Kuiper floundered for a moment, stuttering, and then sighed, covering their mouth (or where it would have been, had they not been a literal star child) with their hand in a gesture to veil embarrassment.


 "...Find it fast, kill it fast."

 "That was your full master plan?"


 "Don't judge me."


 Yori sighed, throwing her giant wad of used pink-stained baby wipes in the trash (from halfway across the room, like some kind of basketball player-- the wad clipped the corner and flopped onto the ground. It seemed sad, in a vague way.) and hopping down from her seat, pulling the dryer open as it dinged. She handed Kuiper their jacket (which they took with a quiet thanks), and tied on her obi before tossing her remaining clothes into her subspace bag. Just as she turned to head for the exit, Kuiper grasped her shoulder.


 "Yori..." Kuiper trailed off, giving a frustrated grunt, before continuing, "I've done nothing but work alone, and I've been alone since forever. I know it's annoying and it hurts when I don't... participate or whatever, I just... don't get teamwork. It doesn't come naturally."




 "I know it annoys you and I know Nine gets, ah, sad about it sometimes--"


 "--and I know Goulash- actually I don't think Goulash really cares--"



 "What?! I was monologuing!!" Yori distantly heard a clatter and a groan as the sleeping apex jumped awake at Kuiper's volume and consequently slammed his head into the wall behind him. Yori gave a grin.


 "That was the most I've ever heard you talk in one go." Kuiper made a strangled sound, letting go of Yori's shoulder and beelining for the door, and Yori gave another laugh, and as the other got halfway out the door, Yori caught up with them, and calling their name.




 "I get it. Don't worry about, y'know, all of that. At least, for now. Let's go wait for Nine to come get us, and go home."


 Kuiper gave Yori what she assumed was a long look, before looking back out the door with a huff.


 "Yeah... Thanks."


 "No worries, Kipes. The great Yori Koizumi accepts your thanks!"


 "Don't call me that."


 "Alright, cool, Kipes is out. And Kuiper?"




 "All of us at Casa Del Nineball have a... tendency to run into things without thinking. It's not too weird, and it's not too unmanageable. It's like you're one of us, you fit in just right. Like a glove. Me and Goulash are the socks. Nine's the other glove and you're different but you're matched in a theoretical, romantic way-"






 "Thanks. But stop talking now."


 "Sorry, sorry."

 And they walked in step with each other in a comfortable silence to the pickup spot.