"I've come to sort some shit out. Settle some scores, maybe.”
Jet's surprised to see Ghoul standing outside the diner.
Actually, that's an understatement.
It's him, no doubt - same spiky, scruffy ink black hair, torn up jeans and carefree expression as just a few days ago - it's absolutely him.
But he's back. After all that bullshit, after all the bitterness and the momentary chaos, he's back.
Jet nods slowly, scraping a hand through his unkempt curls - he's still not quite able to comprehend what's happening, but he wants the guy to feel welcome. He feels like he owes him that at the very least... on behalf of the whole gang.
"I... I'm assuming by, uh, 'sort shit out' you mean..."
"Sort shit out with a certain shitbag y'all call a leader, yeah," Ghoul comes to his rescue, finishing the sentence for him.
"Yeah..." Jet purses his lips uncomfortably and clears his throat a couple of times, looking around, "Uh, I'd really advise you n-"
"Who the hell is that?" A gravelly voice from inside the diner cuts in - a voice that's far from unfamiliar now, and Ghoul grits his teeth to push down the anger which starts simmering under the surface of his skin in automatic response.
"Maybe you should find out for yourself," Ghoul calls out confidently as Jet fidgets and chews on his lip in the doorway, before stumbling aside as Poison makes his way over.
Storms his way over, more like - it seems he's recognised Ghoul's voice just as fast, and it's evoked a very similar response in him.
For a second, there's silence.
Not a peaceful one by any means - no, this kind of silence is a side effect of tension so thick you could carve right into it.
Jet looks like he wants to leave, but he also doesn't want anyone to get brutally maimed the second he turns his back. He keeps glancing back and forth between the two, practically wincing.
Poison's got a look in his cold eyes like the edge of a sword a centimetre from flesh, and the fire under Ghoul's skin is on the verge of breaking loose. If it hadn't been for Jet acting as a human barrier, it may well have done just that.
Ghoul's the first to speak, voice bold and clear, but void of any specific feeling.
Don't let the anger show, he'd told himself, save that for when shit really goes down.
"I think it's time you and I talked."
Poison lifts his chin indignantly and folds his arms across his chest, raising a brow.
"I explained why I'm here. I dunno what else you're expecting,"
It seems Poison's considering for a moment, before he sighs between gritted teeth.
"Make it quick," He demands, swatting a hand at Ghoul, "I don't need my time wasted."
Jet throws Poison a look - the warning sort - and Poison sends a different one back.
Whatever the two have communicated through subtle changes in facial expression causes Jet to exhale sharply and nod before walking away, brow furrowed.
Watching him leave, Ghoul swallows, a sudden sensation of hot dread creeping round the back of his neck. If he's made the wrong decision in coming here, there's absolutely nothing he can do about it now.
Poison clears his throat firmly to grab Ghoul's attention, narrowing his eyes.
"What did I say about wastin’ my time?"
"I couldn't give less of a fuck about you or your time," Ghoul says. “I need some things settled. Here and now,”
He pauses, but Poison has nothing to say yet.
“If you care so little about my existence,” Ghoul continues, “Then why are you always so desperate for a fight?"
Poison leans against the doorway with a small, scornful smile, but Ghoul refuses to let it get to him.
Stepping forward, he looks Poison square in the eye,
"Why do you go to the effort of throwing in all those glares, those little snide remarks, those empty threats every time we meet, when you could just as easily stay out of my way? Why do you cling onto grudges like a fucking infection?"
Poison replies, much to Ghoul's growing frustration, with a question of his own.
"If you, as ya claim, couldn't give less of a fuck about me, why are you back here?"
"I asked you a question, asshole," Ghoul reminds him, his patience starting to dry, "and I want an answer,"
"Don't you dare speak to me like that." Poison's voice drops to a menacing hiss. Then he rolls his eyes.
"Alright then. We'll have a compromise, and let's see if it goes better than our last one: I'll give ya your answer, but first, you give me one."
"I asked first."
"Yeah, and you'll be answerin’ first, too," Poison replies bluntly.
Ghoul grits his teeth harder, grinding his molars as he repeats the same phrase over and over in his mind:
Save the anger. Save the anger. Save the anger.
"If y'know I got a problem with ya, and you’ve clearly got one with me, why bother comin' over here and askin' pointless questions?" Poison taps his boot on the threshold expectantly, and the reminder on repeat in Ghoul's head is rapidly losing its power.
"Answer me, and I'll leave," Ghoul spits, taking another step forward, far bigger than the last, "You'll never have to see my face again, and I'll never have to see yours. Just answer this one, simple question -"
Ghoul stops speaking as a mop of shaggy, bleached hair appears behind Poison, seemingly out of nowhere.
"Kobra, my man!" The fury in Ghoul's face melts away as he points a finger at him, grinning wide.
"Kobra," Poison warns, "Now is not the time."
"No," Kobra replies, "Now's exactly the time, 'cause I'm sick of 'earing this shit from the both'a ya. Come in, Ghoul,"
As Ghoul tries to enter, Poison shifts swiftly to the center of the doorway, blocking him.
"Outta my way, you," Ghoul growls, shoving him with his elbow, then winces as Poison's jagged nails sink into his arm.
"No. You ain't comin’ in here, and that's final,"
He shoves Ghoul out, lip curled in a spiteful sneer.
"I think you'll find 'e damn well is," Kobra replies smoothly, arms folded.
"And I think you'll find you ain't the leader here," Poison retorts.
Kobra turns to Ghoul once again,
"Come in, Ghoul.”
Ghoul shakes his head.
"On second thoughts, I'd rather not," He glares at Poison as he speaks, and Kobra heaves a sigh.
"I can do this all day, y'know. I don't give a shit 'ow long it takes t'get you two t'cooperate,”
Luckily, though, it doesn't take all day.
What it does take is roughly four minutes, alongside the effort of physically dragging both of them into a booth, but Kobra succeeds.
And Jet's there to greet them already, lounging in the very same booth with his feet up on the table.
"Circle time, lads!" Kobra announces, shutting the door of the diner for good measure.
Poison stands up immediately, but Kobra tugs him back down by his jacket sleeve.
"Circle time, alright? Don't kill it,"
Ghoul sinks lower into his seat, narrowing his eyes.
"Ok. I feel like it's time for a formal introduction,” Kobra says “and I also feel like I gotta be the one t'do that shit, because otherwise it ain't gonna happen. So here: Ghoul, meet Poison. Poison, meet Ghoul,"
"Oh, don't worry," Poison snarls, "I already have,"
"Fuck you," Ghoul shoots back, rising from his seat a little with his fists balled up.
"Circle. Time!" Kobra repeats, clapping with each word.
"Is it worth pointing out that this ain't actually a circle?" Jet pipes up, "It's an irregular quadrilateral,"
"Yeah, yeah, quadrilateral, circle, multiplication, all the same shit ain't they? Maths shapes or wha'ever," Kobra replies, "Bu' anyway, we got bigger matters on our 'ands right now. So, Ghoul, uh... right. Right. So, if I'm honest, I didn't actually plan this ‘ole thing out, but..."
"Fuckin' look at me again," Poison spits. He too starts to rise from his seat now, "I dare ya,"
"Alright, alright," Jet stands, holding up his palms. Kobra lets out a long sigh of relief.
"Time to cut this shit out for real. Now, I ain't about to tell you two to be all friendly, I ain't gonna make either a'ya apologise or any of that shit. We're realistic here. But from this point onwards, you're both civil. Ok? Just civil,” He eyes the two in turn, “Dislike eachother as strongly as you wish, just keep that shit t'your damn selves. No one gets punched, no one gets sworn at, no one gets murdered. Simple as,"
"Fuck yeah! Round of applause for Jet Star, folks!" Kobra high fives him across the table.
Scraping a hand through his greasy fringe, Ghoul looks at Poison; the resentment in his eyes remains, but there's tiredness mixed in now, too. "You stay the fuck out of my way, I stay the fuck out of yours. And that's it, final. I don't give a shit about anything you - “
Poison's eyes flicker over him and he scowls, before turning swiftly on his heel and heading out of the room with his head high.
Kobra sinks hopelessly back into his seat.
Jet looks like he’s about to follow Poison, but Ghoul shakes his head.
"Don't worry about it, dude. I'm handling this one," He says as the door slams.
"Ya sure about that, Ghoul?" Kobra doesn't try to hide his concern, but Ghoul nods.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, man,” Jet cautions, but Ghoul’s made his choice.
"I'm handling this."
And, without waiting for another word, he strolls over and pushes open the door Poison's just slammed in their faces.