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Safe in My Garden

Chapter Text

You sat yourself comfortably on your knees. The buzz in the air from the insects rang high and the occasional jangling of metal tags could be heard from behind you. It was a nice day out in your backyard. You were about to pull out some weeds that have started to grow in patches where you were planing to place a flowerbed in.

It has been a month since you you’ve moved into your new home. It was an old thing; just outside of Midnight City. It was a simple two-story house made of wood and brick. From what the realtor told you the house was built in the 1920s and changed very little just before it was placed on the market. You probably only got a good price on it because unlike the urban and suburban homes inside the nearby city. The placement of the house was uncomfortably isolating.

It was nestled deep within the surrounding forest--off to the side of the highway. Not a very ideal place to call home for a start-up couple, aging retirees, or a family. But your fine with that. You’ve always been fine with being alone. Even at a young age, you started to learn how to take care of yourself surprisingly very well. Especially when there were no adults around to look after you.

But enough about the past. Your living in the present and your future is looking pretty good. Especially that your living the life you always wanted. You’ve just got a decent paying job at one of the high-class jewelry stores in Midnight City. And all you have to do is sell gems and stones to paying customers! Well…that’s not all you do per-say. You’re a geologist who specializes in a career of gemology. You test, observe, and verify of how much a gem or stone costs and most importantly, if the gem or stone is real. It takes a good eye, years of training, and apprenticeship to be a certified gemologist.

“Yip! Yip! Yip!”

You stop to look up from your thoughts work and look behind you. It’s your dog Silas, his rolling his tiny little body in the overgrown grass trying to get your attention. You smile to this, you got Silas ever since you started college. And from there on you two have been inseparable. He’s gotten really old since then and it shows with the silver flakes that have spread over his snout and down his back. Which makes you laugh a bit because it looks kinda funny on a tiny fluffy black dog. He looks like he just swallowed a comically large amount of milk and splattered it all over himself.

You imagine if your little dog could have opposable thumbs, he would try to do that. With all of the many ways he tries to get your attention. You turn you head back to the task at hand and start to tug away at those pesky weeds. What should you put in this flower bed? Periwinkle? Maybe…or maybe not. They come in so many types. And all of them looks so beautiful. You swear that every time you go into a garden house to shop. You can’t help but just stare at all of the types of flowers and plants shown on display.

Oh what about Touch-me-Nots? Mhm…but aren’t they a very sensitive type of plant? What if Silas tries to run through them? Maybe you should look for something small and sweet for now.

You sigh in defeat as your indecisiveness stumps you at the moment. You turn around, now facing Silas, to start stretching your back and arms. “Well, what do you think Silas? What kind of flowers do you think we should put in our flowerbed? So far what I’ve got in mind left are Marigolds and Red Geraniums. If we can’t place them together in here. I’m planning on either extending the flowerbed in the backyard. Or to plant one group of flowers here and the other out in the front yard.” 

Silas sits back upright and starts to pant at you.

You hear your spine popping into place as you start to lean-and-pose onto your right and left sides.

“Yeah, your right, having both sounds pretty good. Plus expanding the flower bed in the backyard here doesn’t sound to shabby either. Maybe I’ll make a small greenhouse someday? Thanks for helping me out old ma-"

Someone started to laugh at this. At first you thought that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that the laughter was coming from you. Because you always found it entertaining just keeping up a conversation with your dog knowing full well, he couldn’t really respond back. But what made it so terrifying was, in that very moment, the origin of the laughter was coming from behind you.

You turn around quickly to see who it was. But all you could see was your empty flowerbed and the cobblestone wall that lay behind it. Your heart started to beat very fast. Could it be coming from the woods? Your backyard was just at the cusp of the surrounding forest. Only a small clearing and the cobblestone walls that wrapped around from the front to the back of your house were all that separated the wilderness from approaching any further.

Silas noticing your uncomfortable body language and quickly got up, he trotted over to your side and started to sniff at the air and flicked his ears side-to-side. The laughter was quickly gone--just as it announced itself. Could it be that you were just hearing things? No…you were positive that you heard someone.

But how? So far as you know you’re the only person living in this area.

You knew it was a stupid idea. You should have just picked up your dog, walked back inside the house, and lock the doors. But before you knew it, the words just fumbled right out of your mouth.

“Hello? Is there anybody out there?” you call out in a shaky voice.

You waited for a minute. No answer. Another minute passes by. Still no answer.

Okay then…its time to go. If there was a person out there, they had their chance.

You were leaning down onto your left to pick up Silas until he started to bark loudly and do his alert dance. This startled you for the moment, but quickly you thought little of it. “Silas calm down little buddy there is no one out there. You’re probably smelling a bird or a wild animal. Wild animals can make sounds of all kinds". You try to 'shoosh' him, "Calm down sweetie lets get back inside and—”

But Silas refused to hear you out as he began to run off towards the backyard’s gate. That lead to the outside of the cobblestone walls towards the woods.

Hah dumb dog the power of man-made inventions will stop your madness!

Wait.

OH NO.

It was a metal open spaced gate. And with the power of pure will and his tiny body frame. You were helpless in the fact that Silas slipped right through the metal bars like butter and rushed behind the cobblestone walls.

“SILAS NO! COME BACK!!” you yell out in worry. You took a couple steps towards the gate in haste hoping to catch your little companion in time. However, what stopped you in your tracks was a trill-like voice that came from behind the cobblestone wall. The wall that lay just behind where you were weeding out your flowerbed.

AAAAAAHH HELP I’M BEING ATTA—Oh wait your just a little doggy. Well hello there puppy-dog!”

At first you could hear Silas grunting and growling. A sound he usually made when he wanted to play tug-of-war with you. But knowing Silas he was trying to look intimidating to whoever was beyond the wall.

“Now hold on boy-o! I’m not here to harm yer miss! I’m just curious about the new neighbor! See nothin’ in my hands—friends?” responded the cheery voice to your dog.

You started to cautiously move towards the wall where the sound came from. The wall itself reached just below your shoulders. So, when you finally reached the wall and looked over it. You were not expecting to see a…man? He was splayed out on the ground with your dog on his chest. Silas seems to have forgiven the stranger as he kept licking furiously at his face. Which in turn made the man giggle.

“Ohoho stop that you! Your too cute for yer own good! What a deadly guard dog you are!” the strange man said as he slowly pushed himself into a seated position. He carefully moving his arms to wrap around Silas and cradled him close to his chest. The stranger turned his attention back to you when he finally noticed that someone was watching this unfold.

He lifted up Silas into the air towards you with a cheeky grin on his face. “I believe that this lil' monkey is yours ma’m?”

“Yes, he is indeed sir and I would greatly appreciate it if you would return him to me.” You replied back curtly.

The man nodded and got up from his spot and walked towards you. As you observed him you took notice of his short stature. You thought he could have reached the height of your waist.

“Here you go ma’m! One adorably cute puppy dog!” the stranger proclaimed as he handed back your dog to you. You give him a quick 'thank you' as you reached out and plucked Silas from his hands. And before you knew it your little black dog was back in your arms. Silas panted and looked up to you seeming to ask with his eyes, ‘What are you looking at? I just found a new friend. Don’t you think he is neat?’

You look back at the stranger no…your neighbor. You remembered him saying just that a few minutes ago; telling your dog that he was your neighbor. Specifically, that YOU were the new neighbor and not the other way around.

He seemed to take the cue that you were going to start asking questions. The little man quickly turned around and picked up something off the ground. It was a purple hat. He placed it on top his head. He turned back around again to face you with a tip of his hat which was shortly then accompanied with a wink.

“I think we started off on the wrong foot here neighbor. So, I’ll introduce myself to ya! I’m Clover and I’m your next-door neighbor from across this here forest!” He pointed in a exaggerated motion. Towards of course...the woods. 

“I apologize for scaring you miss”, he said casting his green eyes down to the ground—bowler hat now between his fingers. “I was just strolling around and I heard some voices carry on through the wind. At first, I thought my ears were playing a joke on me. Cause we haven’t had a neighbor in such a long time. But low and behold what do my eyes see as I round the corner? I saw you lass! Chattering away with your little dog, gardening and such. You were in such high spirits I didn’t want to bother you.”

You raise a brow to this suspiciously and shift your body stance so that your left shoulder was facing him. “And you in turn thought it was a good idea to not respond back to me when I called out? Do you know how terrified I was knowing that someone could be watching me? And…did you say we? Are there more of you?”

You see him give out a nervous laugh under his breath before speaking up. “Like I said ma’m its been a real long time since I’ve seen anybody out here. So, I got very interested! I guess I just froze when you caught me laughing hard at your act with your doggy. As for the “we” part, there are a couple more of us. We live in the same house.”

“Hmm…and you say that you live in a house on the other side of these woods?” You nodded towards the forest behind the man.

“Yep!” Clover said with a chirp.

“And you live together? Like in a…commune?” you ask him wearily.

“Oh no ma’m were not a cult or nothing. We’re just a group of friends who live in the same house. We work together at the same job.”

“Oh, okay then, I suppose that I get it now. Do they know that I live here?”

Clover hums thinking about your question and shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so. So far, I think I’m the only one who knows about you being out here. Maybe that is a good thing.”

“What?” you said, “What’s that last part? I don’t think I heard you correctly. I think you were mumbling something a little bit back there.”

“Oh?”, Clover perks up to this and waves your question off, “Its nothing! I was just thinking about how the others would be so delighted to hear the good news about a new neighbor! By the way—”

Clover tugs back on his left sleeve of his suit. He wanted to check the current time.

Wait.

A suit? Why is he wearing such a nice suit. Before you could even ask why. Clover jumped slightly into the air in surprise as he looked down at his watch. “Holy mother of Mary! Well you look at that?! It almost five minutes till dinner! And you know what they say about dinner miss?”

“Its just (Y/N) Mr. Clover. No need for miss or misses. Just they and them.” You ask him politely before he could finish.

Clover nodded to this “Ah my deepest apologies (Y/N) I don’t mean to offend.”

“None taken please continue sir.”

“Thank you (Y/N). Now, where was I?” Clover says rubbing his chin in thought.

You lean forward on the cobblestone wall eyeing Clover with a small smile. “I believe you were going to tell me about what others say about dinner mister Clover?”

Clover snaps his fingers and beams up at you with finger guns. “Yes of course! They say…What’s cookin good lookin?”

You pause for a moment to bask in the warm glow of that god-awful pun. Was he seriously trying to make a pass at you? After everything that just happened. How lucky did this guy think he was?

But you kept that small smile on your face as you decided to place your dog back on the ground near you. You leaned forward on the cobblestone fence, hands gripping the top of the weathered wall. And used the tips of your toes to give you just enough traction and leverage; you were almost nose to nose with Clover.

He seemed pretty proud of himself as he looked expectantly towards you. Smile wide, freckled cheeks warming up to nice shade of pink. He was even giving you a really nice love-struck look. What a predictable dork.

You reached one of your hands down to the side of his face and gently cusp it before tilting his chin upward towards you. “Mister Clover?” you politely asked him.

Clover sighed and looked at you with dopey eyes. “Yes dear (Y/N)?”

“Your going to be late for dinner.” You whisper back to him with a smirk on your face.

Clover’s eyes went wide, and his lopsided smile stretched out into a thin line. “Oh no…"

“Oh no indeed sir. You better hurry before your friends start to wonder where you’ve wondered off to.” You said as you now slide back up-and-over to the inside of the garden wall. But not before gently patting Clover’s face in pity. You turned around and started to head back towards your back porch.

“Come on Silas its about time we get back inside. I’m thinking of making us some chicken tonight. What do you think?”

“Yip! Yip! Yip!”

“Yeah me too.”

You didn’t really care to look back behind you. To see if your neighbor Clover left in hurry. No, you were pretty sure by the sound he made just by scurrying away. But what you did miss from him as he stumbled away...was the way he held the side of his cheek. All rosy and pink where you placed your hand on him. And oh how he smiled ear to ear just thinking about how long it would take for him to have you swooning over him.

Not that he didn’t mind the idea of him swooning over you. Its been quite some time since its been the other way around and at this point, he’s starting to like the thought of it. In the end, Clover knows that he isn’t going to be late for dinner somehow. He’ll always end up there right on time. He’s just lucky like that.

And how lucky was he to meet such a charming neighbor? He just couldn’t wait to tell everyone at Felt Manor about them!

Chapter Text

The clinking of plates and utensils were made as dinner was being prepared that night in Felt Manor. Matchsticks decided to make some wild pheasant with sautéed mushrooms and onions. But knowing the crazy amount of food certain members could engorge on. He made sure to make other options for his dear fellows to choose from. During his spare time-of course. From deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika, Red Mullet with sweet chili sauce, tomato soup with some freshly toasted bread, and finally for dessert (with the help of Eggs and Biscuits) he also made some old-fashioned crumbly coffee cake.

He was seated on the left side of the long dinner table. Usually his team members would sit lined up to their corresponding numbers. But as of today, things seemed to little bit out of place. Which is not to say that this didn’t always happen. What may seem unnatural or "not normal" to some, was quite "normal" to them. That is...depending on how many weird things decided to happened every day.

The table line up as followed…

On the left-side there was Crowbar, Stitch, Eggs, Biscuits, Sawbuck, Clover, Matchsticks (himself) and Die.

And on the right-side of the dinner table was Doze, Itchy, Quarters, Cans, Trace, and Fin.

Oh yes and Snowman liked to place herself at the end of the table. Enough space between the left and right sides to do as she pleased. Die and Fin tonight, much like everyone else, made sure to respect her needed space.

Snowman was a very classy lady and always liked taking that seat for her own since she joined the Felt. No one ever tries to sit in her seat but that’s not to say at at least one of them hasn’t at least tried too in the past. It would seem that she might have taken the chair to a skilled carpenter and got it furnished waaay back in the day. Because for a dinner chair it looked pretty comfy. Not that Matchsticks would ever know…he’s just heard it from the other guys about how plush and relaxing it was to sit on. He wouldn’t really know because of well…you know. He was a pretty big “unit” of a lad as the cool kids would say.

God, he hoped that’s what the cool kids say these days. He feels old…he isn’t good with technology and lingo that’s hip with the next generation or any generation really. But on god does he try hard to learn how to get with the times.

Minutes passed by as the members of the Felt started to settle down into their seats and dig into their dinner. Some of them making small chit-chat here and there. And the occasional snicker from an inappropriate joke. Matchsticks was also enjoying the fruits of his labor—if he could have made a life outside of the Felt, he thought that he would have made a real damn good chef. 

He looked up from his plate and eyed his small friend on his left flank. Clover was just smiling and idly swinging his feet under the table. Sure, he was taking small bites out of his food here and there. But it was clearly shown that something was distracting the luckiest member in the Felt. He was blushing and humming a childish tune.

Matchsticks should know better than to ask what was going on. Because knowing Clover the little mink probably just did something or someone. He didn’t even want to know…

But as another minute passed by Matchsticks couldn’t help but crack a little. Clover looked so happy; it was a different kind of happy than he was used to seeing from him.

“So…” he asked nonchalantly; quickly eyeing Clover and returning back to his plate. “What has you trilling like a baby bird in spring?”

Clover looked over to Matchsticks and beamed up to him. “Oh, it’s nothing! I just went on a lovely afternoon walk today.”

“Hmm…a walk you say.” Matchsticks says before chewing on a mouthful of pheasant.

‘Could a walk really be that good?’ he thought. ‘Maybe…I do like to stroll around in the City’s park once in a while to just look at the birds.’

Sawbuck a round sort of fellow turned to look over at Clover. But before doing so he wiped his mouth from any crumbs or left-over tomato soup that might have left itself on his face. Despite being known for his enormous appetite it isn’t wildly known about how out of all of the Felt members; Sawbuck had the best table manners.

“What did you see on your walk today Clover?” Sawbuck curiously asks.

“Well…If you really want to know”, Clover said with a small smirk on his face. The way he said it made Matchsticks raise a brow to this. Clover was making sure to raise his voice in such a way that he only does when he’s going to share some “important” gossip.

And from the looks of it, it seems that Sawbuck, and a good portion of the left side table were taking the same cue as he was because he started to lean a bit closer to hear Clover out.

Clover was never the one to shy away from being the center of attention. But he knew damn well how to play the drama card. Because now he was sitting upright, one hand touching his chest, and with the other just swishing his fork this way and that like a wand to exaggerate the importance of his tale.

“The air was crisp, and the sunlight was gently blanketing the path I took with a warm glow. And as I journeyed further through the forest, I spied a small herd of deer, a small lagoon with a waterfall pouring into it, the new neighbor, and get this! There is this spooky looking well that—”

Itchy drops his soup spoon into his bowl. A splash of tomato soup nearly smattering itself onto Quarter's side of the dinning table. Whom of which, took quick notice of and snarled at him. He pulled his right arm back as fast as he could to avoid any incoming impact from the soup.

"HEY! Watch it you little punk!"

Itchy didn't really care why Quarters was shouting at him because he was far more engrossed into what Clover just said.

“Wait, wait, wait—” 

Itchy jumps up from his seat and points at Clover with a mixture of surprise and elation on his face. “Did you just say that there was a new neighbor?”

'Oh, dear lord, this won’t end well' thought Matchsticks. 'When Itchy gets all riled up. His dumbassery starts to spread like wildfire to the other members of the Felt'.

Die scrunches up his face and looks down at his plate of food and starts whispering underneath his breath. Only Matchsticks could hear what he was saying at the moment just before the wave of silence washed over the dinner table. Die was calling Clover’s claim ‘Bullshit’ and that ‘we never had any neighbors since we first moved here’

“Clover I’m pretty sure we don’t have any neighbors.” Crowbar said starkly, farther down the table. “If we did have one, then Doc Scratch would know and then I would know.”

“Nuh—uh!” Clover shouted placing his hands on his hips, “I met them just before I came in for dinner! They told me that they didn’t even knew that we lived around here! Not only that—but! They. Were. Wonderful!” Clover made these words important by pointing at Crowbar every time with his fork. Before deciding to just toss the fork back down onto his plate. Safety comes first, of course!

Lucky number four started up again, “They’re going to be a very good neighbor I just know it. Sooo—no need to make a mountain over a molehill boss.”

Crowbar responded back with an “ehh” that sounded like a cross between a ‘Yeah sure whatever you say’ and a ‘I don’t think you know what your saying but I don’t know enough to dispute it’ kind of “ehh”.

Itchy zipped over to Clover’s side of the table and sat down on the arm of his chair. “SOOoo THEN! Spill the beans! What are they like?”

“Well, they were surprisingly very sweet~! They like to work in their garden and have a little black dog named Silas. They were shy at first, but they sure do have a really funny side to them! Hehe—they got me good just before I left. I almost got me a goodbye kiss too!” Clover giggled out with a creeping blush spreading over his face.

Stitch shook his head at this, “Leave it to the imp to start falling head over heels for a stranger he just met in one afternoon.”

Quarters grunted in agreement with the old man. “Stitch is right Clover; you just met this person. You shouldn’t get so attached to them so soon. It’ll make the disappointment and pain you’re going to leave them with hurt less.”

“Ah! To the hell with all of you prudes! Unlike the rest of ya’h shmucks it seems like Clover here is the only one getting some tail now and days!” Itchy whined out.

Clover looked up to him after this and gently shook his head at number one. “No, no, no! Itchy it’s nothing like that! I enjoy playing around with them. And not the saucy kind! I…I don’t have any intention of moving any further than starting a possible friendship with (Y/N).”

Itchy gave a quick laugh to this before swooping in to snatch up a piece of toast from Sawbuck’s hand. Poor Sawbuck didn’t see this coming because as soon as he lost the feeling of the bread crust between his fingers. He looked shocked…. but then knew immediately who the culprit was.

Sawbuck looked straight ahead with a deadpanned look and then immediately snapped his head towards his right and glared at him.

“Itchy….” He said in grating voice. Sawbuck will remember that.

Itchy however, did not care to look at Sawbuck and just lazily leaned back as comfortably as he could into Clover’s chair. All the why’ll munching and spitting out chunks of toast every time he spoke out.

“Sorry little buddy but *munch* I call…*munch*…bullshit on that. I know you. You’re a fast talking, love making, jig dancing *CRUNCH*, son-of-a-bitch! Like me?”

Clover, having to share the same seat as Itchy, tries his best now to lean back every time his friend talks towards him. He quickly grabs the napkin from his own neck and tries to semi-hide his face for cover.

Trace makes a face as he is forced to watch Itchy like this. He couldn’t even enjoy his fish in peace. “Ew! Itchy that’s fucking gross”.

Fin pulls back his lips to reveal his serrated teeth and sticks out his tongue in disgust. “Yeah man, close your fucking mouth when you eat. It’s bad enough I gotta’h see Eggs and Biscuits chow down on their food. But you? At least they have the decency to use a napkin once in a while!”

Eggs smiles to this absent-minded mistaking Fin’s statement to be a complement, “Aww thank you Fin! You’re so nice!”

“Wha???” Biscuits says out loud as he waterfalls a bowl of tomato soup and a whole chunk of Red Mullet down his throat.

Itchy chewed harder on the left-over toast in his mouth and stuck out his tongue to Trace and Fin. A lumpy chunk of bread sitting in the middle of it. Fin and Trace groaned further in disgust to this and shook their heads in disappointment.

Sawbuck made a face, his underbite digging upwards into his lip. What has it been? A hundred years?? And Itchy still hadn’t learned the decency to present himself as a good dinner guest? “Very mature Itchy” he said gruffly. “Do you kiss your mother with that kind of mouth?”

Itchy flips the finger at Sawbuck as he swallowed the rest of the toast down his throat. “No, but that’s not what your mother said to me when I came over to visit yesterday.”

“AH!” Sawbuck’s eyes bulged out in shock and then his face shifted into a dark flush of seething rage.

Crowbar grumbled to this and narrowed his eyes at the two. He then lowered his arm underneath the table unto his right. “Is there going to be any trouble here tonight boys?”

Sawbuck growled deeply at Itchy and Itchy blew the smuggest raspberry at his crew mate in return. Matchsticks looked over to Sawbuck and gave him a worried look. The kind that conveyed ‘Please just let this one go. It’s not worth the fight’. Sawbuck takes notice of Matchsticks silent plea and huffed out a single puff of air through his nose. And he made sure to at least try to unclench all of the pent-up tension that was forming around his shoulders. “No Crowbar…” Sawbuck said, “there isn’t going to be any trouble.”

Crowbar nodded in acknowledgement, then he looked towards the speedy bastard himself. “And you?” he asked. Crowbar made sure to give the best damn intimidating look he could give just to sell how serious he was feeling tonight.

“Yeah, yeah don’t worry your big head over it” Itchy replied back; not caring to look at Crowbar. But from the way his face subtly tensed up; despite his smug smile. Because in the split-second Crowbar was finished asking him to stop, Itchy made sure to heed his boss's words just this once. Cause it was just plain out bonkers how good Crowbar has become in tossing his well…crowbar.

But Itchy continued on, “I’ll stop only for the sake that I want to hear Clover out. Specifically, his little crush on the new neighbor. Clover?” he addressed to the tiny man.

“Well…” Clover started off looking to his right, “I’m not going to deny what you said Itchy. Because I—myself and a good lot of you know that to be true about me.” Clover still hid behind his napkin covering up the blush spreading across his face. “But I would also like to say that people can change over time. And maybe it’s good for me…to at least try a different approach in meeting someone new.”

Itchy licked his lips clean from crumbs and seemed like he was going to say something else till Doze spoke up. Which was surprising cause knowing Doze and his ability, hearing him speak out at the table is “spaced out” to say the least.

“I think it’s very mature of Clover to want to see a change in his life” said Doze. Who was currently putting down his cup of wine. He was a soft looking kind of man. With a doughy appearance to himself--like a tiny under cooked bagel.

Clover lowered the napkin from his face to reveal a smile of gratitude to his other friend.  “Thank you for believing in me Doze.”

“No problem Clover. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been eyeing that slice of cake for some time.”

Clover decided to leave Doze to his snacking and turned back to face the rest of the Felt. “Now gentlemen—AND lady of the house!”

Snowman nodded in acknowledgment as she silently smoked in the corner.

“I can only imagine what all of you may be thinking of me at this moment. ‘Is Clover messing around with us? Is he really just going to make friends with the next-door neighbor? Or is he going to instead making moons and stars with them'?"

“Yes” said 8 out of 14 Felt members (excluding Clover).

Clover sighed and dramatically fell backwards into Matchsticks’ arms and lap. Whom of which, jolted in his seat to this, but regained his usual neutral appearance. Matchsticks had to reluctantly let go of his fork and knife to make sure Clover wouldn’t slip out of his arms.

“OH, YEE OF LITTLE FAITH! How could you all say such cruel things to me?" Clover cries out. "Am I not a living creature of blood and muscle? Do I not yearn? Do I not dream? Do I not have the capacity to open myself to love and all its forms? I’ll admit gentleman! I have had thoughts in the beginning about the probability of seducing the dear (Y/N)! And how could I not? They’re beauty has entranced me! An example? Their eyes!”

Clover leans up forward so that he was facing Matchsticks. His hands were now latched onto the poor man's face.

Matchsticks frowns to this, but only because he was secretly nervous about where this speech was going.

Clover looked deeply into Matchsticks’ hazel eyes like a lover would do. “Dear god man! Their eyes! Their big beautiful (C/E) eyes! I just wanted to get lost in them!” he crooned out.

Die sneered not in disgust but more of confusion. ‘What the hell was Clover talking about? This really isn't helping to defend his previous statements’.

Stitch almost cared to do the same but decided not to. Deciding that in the moment he really didn’t care for Clover and his shenanigans. So, he just shook his head, mumbled out a “oh brother…”, and cut himself a nice slice of cake for dessert.

Matchsticks wondered himself too if he could do the same soon. But unfortunately, he was stuck in awkward—stiff position as Clover rambled on and on to him (and to anyone else still paying attention), about how their neighbor deserved a better first impression. And that he was going to try really hard next time to treat them right. Matchsticks would have focused more and maybe appreciated his friend's speech if he wasn’t stuck in literally the middle of all of it.

Cans on the other hand, pulled out a handkerchief from the inside of his suit's breast pocket and wiped a few emerging tears from his eyes. He was very moved by Clover’s speech…what a sensitive guy.

Quarters just rolled his eyes to all of this hullabaloo and went back to finishing his dinner. He was intensively making it his mission to eat all of the deviled eggs that Matchsticks prepared for dinner. All 45 slices of them. 

Snowman seemed to have tuned out a long time ago but from the way her brows furrowed slightly. She appeared to be thinking hard about something. Perhaps all of this talk about love and blooming friendship has reminded her of something from her past? Snowman has a bad habit of reminiscing on old times. Not that she would ever tell anyone about that though. 

Itchy however pretended to dry heave to convey how sickeningly sweet he thought Clover’s speech-rant was. Then he finally spoke up, looking up to Clover, he was laying on his back—legs spread out like a child king on a throne—one foot on Matchstick’s chair. And the other foot, haphazardly on the lace-covered dining table.

Matchsticks didn’t like it how close Itchy’s shoe was edging towards the food he worked so hard to make. Along with his own dish with a dinner he never got to finish.

“Clover, clover, clover—ALRIGHT! We hear ya! And…I believe you.” Itchy called out to number #4.

Clover suddenly let go of Matchsticks’ face and turned to look at Itchy.

“Really?” his said with two fists near his face and eyes sparkling wide.

“Ehh I’m kinda still on the edge about all of this; but sure, why not?” Itchy said as he reached out onto the table and patted around for Clover’s wine. His hand scattered around the forks and spoons and was edging dangerously close to Clover’s left behind plate of mashed deviled eggs and pheasant smothered in sauce.

Crowbar face palmed, probably wondering how his life came down to all of this. From England, to New York, to here. No matter how much time passed, things never seem to change with some members of the felt.

Sawbuck eyed Itchy’s stupid move and grumbled. He reached over to pick up Clover’s goblet of wine and tapped the bottom of it against the top of Itchy’s hand. Itchy gladly wrapped his hand around the base of it and gave a quick “Thanks”. Before bringing the goblet back to himself and taking a good hard sip.

“Mhm…I still think you’re going to finding yourself sharing your charms in the end with ehh…what’s their name?”

“Its (Y/N)” Clover said.

Itchy snapped his fingers to this and took another sip before talking again. “Yeah, (Y/N)! I’ve heard you gripe and groan about falling in love before. But never like this—so what if you’ll end up being friends with (Y/N)? Or lovers or both? Hell, you’ve even somehow gotten me to become interested in this new neighbor of ours. Besides like the people of France say—”

Itchy zipped back to his seat and back into Clover’s chair in his previous position. With another glass of wine in his right hand. He lifted it up to his friend.

Clover grinned to this and takes it, preparing the clink it against the goblet in Itchy’s left hand.

“C'est la vie!” they both said at the same time. Intentionally pronouncing each word in gravelly horrible French accent. Followed by a howling of laughter between the two.

Matchstick’s exhaled deeply to this and lifts Clover up from his lap and gently plops him back onto Itchy. Finally, he could finish his dinner. His sweet, sweet, now cold, dinner.

Why must dinner time be such a dramatic part of the day?

Chapter Text

It’s been at least one week since Mr. Clover, your neighbor, came over to greet you.

It was…a new experience for you to say the least. To be honest, you weren't expecting to see anyone anytime soon at your new home. And with the peaceful, yet suffocating silence, that you once believed would be your new normal would soon become something different.

Looking back on that late afternoon…

After you wished Clover goodbye and walked into your house to prepare dinner you felt a sudden wave of regret and anxiety sucker punch you in the stomach. The kind of feeling one would get when you know that you just did something stupid in front of somebody you just met. And now, you feel like that you just royally messed it up BAD.

Because of those anxiety riddled thoughts running marathons through your brain. It distracted you from preparing your chicken just right. You forgot to season it and add some flavor to it in the process. In the end, your chicken dinner came out bland and dry as fuck. Like cardboard.

You should be thankful that you bought a chicken that was on the smaller size. Cause Silas didn’t mind eating the baked chicken you wouldn’t eat for later.

So, after your failed dinner attempt and a belly still partially empty. You decided to make yourself an emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And here you were. In your kitchen, just sitting there in silence, with your little black dog laying on the floor by your feet. You felt very pathetic in this moment. Even though the kitchen lights were on. The way the house was structured made the whole atmosphere look cold and uninviting.

This is everything that you everything you wished and dreamed for right?

Well, finishing up your PB&J and sipping on that milk. You started to think hard about how you left off with your first encounter with him. The silly man with the purple hat.

You chew faster and frown just thinking about what you did.

‘Why did I play around with him like that?’ You talked to yourself out loud.

Well not “out-loud”, more of like an out loud in your mind really. But getting back to the point, you really hated yourself for doing something so stupid and so, SO, SO immature as to play around with Clover like that.

He was your neighbor for crying out loud! Your trying to start a new life! A blank new slate! You’re a grown up—and you should know better than to think that talking to anyone like that was a good idea!

What if he thinks that you were flirting with him?

What you did was not normal! You don’t introduce yourself to new people like that!

Why don’t you think things through before acting on them?

You slowly close your eyes and scrunched up your nose; disgusted in yourself. And it didn’t help either that you also made a grumbling sound in the back of your throat when you decided to just scarf down the rest of your PB&J in frustration. Once you knew that you were finally finished with your makeshift dinner, you made sure to clean up any remaining mess that you left behind at the small table.

Then, you walked around to lock up the rest your house for the night and went straight up stairs to bed.

You were going to have a long week ahead of you at Mr. Keyes’s Jewelry & Antique shop. And you didn’t want the old man to take one look at you and ask you that dreaded question. You’ve always hated that question in particular and you were not in the mood to hear it any time soon.

“Are you okay?”

God. Just thinking about those three little words made you feel more down on your luck. So much that when you were brushing your teeth, you didn’t want to look at yourself in the mirror. On the, very unlikely, chance that your reflection will stop copying your movements and ask you that stupid question itself.

You also remember sighing out loudly and covering up your face in shame once in bed. And that Silas, ever observant, waddled his way over to you. He made his way from his favorite spot from the foot of the bed, and onto your lap. Just to poke at the back of your hands with his cold wet nose.

This act of kindness made your frown twitch a little and then turn into a smile; only a small one. You removed your hands away from your face to reveal a tiny old dog panting comfortably in your lap.

Silas in all his pint-sized glory looked fairly happy about just being with you. But his little brown eyes seem to show off a little bit more on how he was really feeling at the moment. He looked a bit worried, but also looked like he had something on his mind.

Like he wanted to tell you to not to be so hard on yourself and that you’ll do better next time.

Or that’s what you hoped that's what he was thinking about…

You remembered just before conking out for that night, smiling hopefully at your dog. Silas started to pant harder to this--eyeing your face. You gave him a goodnight kiss on the forehead. It was a regular bedtime ritual you always did with him.

As you slowly retreated back to your sleeping position you told him in a soft-hushed voice. The one only meant for best friends who would keep secrets between each other.

“Your right Silas, the next time I see Mr. Clover I’ll set everything straight. No messing around this time. No mistakes.”

Silas seems to agree with you, because once you snuggled yourself back into bed and turned off your lamp light. He found his way closer to you, near your chest, and leaned his head near your own. He was always there to comfort you during the darkest of times. And god did you have a lot of those ever since the incident…

But now

Your sitting back in your garden preparing certain plots on where to place your Marigolds and Red Geraniums. You decided that you would plant the Marigolds in the backyard (here) and the Red Geraniums out in the front yard.

Thankfully your boss let you out early this Friday on the account that you successfully sold a few of the shop’s most high-priced items to couple of new and old customers alike earlier on in the week. Besides, Mr. Keyes told you that he was going to have a meeting with a special client of his inside the shop soon. Apparently, a Mr. Droog has been a long-time consultant of the family and has even dealt business with Mr. Keyes's father back in the day. You didn’t find any reason to complain about this. Your week was looking pretty good from your last one. And your boss seemed to be impressed with your work ethic as his apprentice. Although, it was a shame that he didn’t trust you enough to see Mr. Droog or any of the shop’s older clientele yet. But hey, don’t bite the hand that feeds you right? Its been little over a month since you’ve came into the city for work. You’re a patient person and you can respect the fact that it takes time to earn someone’s trust. You yourself are partial to trusting anyone. So, you’ll wait. If that’s all you have to do. You’re a very patient person.

And seeing that you have some free time to spare…

You decided to check out Midnight City’s top rated local nursery. No dumb-dumb! Not the nursery where you watch over babies for a day! The one where people raise and grow plants and trees in greenhouses for sale!

 Once you got there, the owner of the flower shop introduced herself to you the second you stepped in. Her name was Ms. Paint, and she was a very kindly—colorful looking lady. Wearing pastel pinks, blues, greens, and yellow. After you introduced yourself to her as well. You told her that you liked her hijab, and that you found the pink color and the tiny flower patterns on it to be very cute.

Ms. Paint looked momentarily surprised by your compliment. But soon enough she smiled brightly at you and gave a quick thanks. From there on she helped you find the flowers that you needed to start up your garden.

She was very nice and always very formal when interacting with you. Like a teacher to a student. She had a very strange last name though.

But not really that strange at all. Considering that you’ve interacted with individuals in the gemology world with far more complex names. Who are you to judge another with a name that they chose or was born with?

But continuing on down memory lane…

  • For the Marigolds

Ms. Paint helped you pick out three Tagetes patula or the French marigolds as they were called. They were tiny but she assured you that they would bloom soon enough! Long as you took very good care of them and kept an eye on their growth.

You promised to her that you would, and that you’ve been preparing for weeks now on planting them in your garden. It would be a great shame if you would let your flowers just die so suddenly after going this far to get them. Hearing you say this made Ms. Paint smile more. She seemed to be very amused by your interest in planting. Like a mother would be knowing their child was serious about doing something on their own for the first time.

  • And finally, three Red Geraniums.

Ms. Paint warned you to place these flowers in areas where there would be little frost; should you still keep them outside when wintertime comes around. As well as a good position for sun and drainage. Again, you made sure to promise that you would take good care of these flowers.

As you left the nursery, with six flowers in tow, you accidentally let it slip out that you would, “make her proud!”. This ended up making you blush profusely and try to cover up your face with the flowers in your hands.

Seeing you do this made Ms. Paint chuckle a bit. She stopped herself soon enough to help lead you back to your car. After you securely packed the flowers into your car and got into the driver seat, you leaned out your window and thanked her more than once for how thankful you were for her guidance.

She nodded back to you and said that “it was no problem at all”, and waved you goodbye.

As you drove away from the nursery, the rainbow form of Ms. Paint growed ever so smaller in your rear-view mirror. You found out that you still had a smile on your face. This was different. You’ve grown to know yourself to usually not be smiling type. And yet…

Here you were driving down Midnight City’s streets and out onto the lone highway. Smiling like you’ve just won the lottery. You don’t know why, but just interacting with that nice lady made you feel really, really happy inside.

She kind of reminded you of your old co-worker Joanne before you moved to Midnight City.

...

Your smile started to slowly slipped away.

The warm glow that found its way into your eyes-reverted back to their usual state.

Dull. Cold. Sharp.

Those where bad times.

-----

“YARP! YARP! YARP!”

Silas’s barking, thankfully, snapped you out of your dark thoughts. You didn’t notice, but some time must have slipped past you as you were still on your knees in front of the future 'flowerbed to-be' spot where you last de-weeded.

You exhaled a deep sigh and rubbed your eyes with your left wrist. This was because both of your hands where covered with gardening gloves that were covered in dirt. You didn't mind getting dirty. But there is a fine line between getting dirty and getting god knows what into your eyes. 

You turned around, you caught a glimpse of a fuzzy black blur running past you and through the right side of your house towards the front yard. You gave a silent thank-you to whomever would be listening in to your prayers that the entirety of your house’s property was fenced in with cobblestone.

“Well that was his alert bark.” You tsk out to yourself. “Might as well check out what Silas wants you to see.” you mumble out to no one in particular but yourself.

You drop the trowel in your right hand and push yourself up from the ground. Your knees popped and creaked from the sudden change in pressure. You tried also stretch out that small part of your back when Silas started to bark again. This time much louder.

Whatever he was seeing, it really has him all riled up. And a part of you is hoping that it’s just another squirrel.

“All right—All right! I’m coming Silas! Calm down!” you shout out.

You decided to take the left side down, from your back yard, to the front. It wasn’t long till you waded through the semi-tall grass and weeds. When you made it to the front yard, what could it be that your little dog was jumping up and down at by the (thankfully) wooden front gate?

You stopped in your tracks.

It wasn’t a squirrel.

But two men.

One of them you recognized as Clover. Whom of which, was gleefully reaching his arm over the top of your front gate to pet Silas’s head every time he jumped up.  

And the other man…well. Despite dressing up almost as sharp as Clover was. His sleeves where rolled up to his elbows, and he wore a bright yellow construction hat with noticeable number “1” on it. That gave you another pause for thought. Why would anyone wear a construction hat with a number “1” on it? Did he work for a construction crew? But…didn’t clover tell you that he and his friends all worked at the same job as one another?

Clover didn’t look like the kind of man who would be found working long hard hours at a construction site. Speaking of which…

Now that you’ve noticed…Mr. Clover also had a number on his hat too! It was a number “4”. Did he always have a number on his hat? You don’t remember that being there when he last visited you.

Why’ll you were deep in thought once again. You didn’t notice that the taller of the two taking notice of your sudden appearance in the front yard.

The man in the yellow hat nudges his smaller companion in shoulder to get his attention. Clover stops petting Silas, much to your dogs dismay, and looks over to see what his friend wanted his attention for. The yellow hatted man quickly pointed over to where you were and nudges his little friend once again. But this time with a cheeky smirk and whispered something to Clover.

Oh god they’re staring at you now.

‘Okay’, you tell yourself, ‘just keep calm and cool. Don’t forget to tell Clover how you feel’.

“Good afternoon to ya’ (Y/N)! It’s me! Clover! And I brought one of my friend’s over to visit ya!”

You straightened up your back and reminded yourself to keep a neutral outlook on your face. You walk over to the front gate to meet the both of them face to face. “Yes, I see Mr. Clover.” You told the well-dressed man hanging on the other side of your gate.

You began to notice how Clover’s friend was starting to grin ear-to-ear now that you were closer. It also didn’t escape your eyes that you noticed how he was also looking you up and down.

‘Dear lord—’ you thought to yourself, ‘please don’t let him be another fuckboi’.

You chose to ignore his observation and continued.

“And you may be?” you asked the stranger in the yellow hat. You made sure to look him directly in the eye and spoke to him in calm, serious voice, hoping that would potentially deter him from acting out like a fool in front of you.

The man, however, seems to be undeterred by your tone of voice and smiles at you before lifting up his hat in one hand. Just enough to slick back his short dark hair and puff’s up his chest.

Your thankful that you have learned the art of self-discipline because you really wanted to laugh at the amount of macho-ness this guy was trying to pull off in these precious passing seconds.

The stranger now leans against the cobblestone wall, one arm sling on top of the wall and the other on the his hip.  “The name’s Itchy.” He starts off all cool like.

“As in “itchi”. As in number one!” Itchy made sure to make his point come across by making a “number 1” hand sign before continuing his introduction.

“Clover’s been telling everybody around the manor about you ya’ know? And I got to say I do not regret coming over to see who has my best friend all wrapped up in knot. It’s a pleasure to meet you good-lookin.” Itchy reaches a hand out towards you with a winning smile and bright green-yellow eyes.

You, however, are not that easy to trust. Albeit not with everyone you meet. But to make sure to keep your word on wanting to start off things normal with your neighbors. You slip off the gardening glove on your right hand and shook Itchy’s awaiting one.

This is where things start to get complicated.

Very quickly.

It should be noted that you tend to find yourself to be very hesitant when touching people. At one point in your childhood you remember just not being able to accept the idea of anyone touching you. Even for a simple hug or holding your hand. And you would do the same for others. Its not that you were afraid of germs. No.

Its just that it filled you with immense fear to just be so close to someone.

In your hesitation to reach out for his hand. You decided in the moment to just gingerly wrap around the tip of Itchy’s fingers before slipping your hand right back into your space.

You gave a quick cough and avert your eyes away from the two. This wouldn’t be the first time you faltered in shaking someone’s hand. And it wouldn’t be your last. You were anticipating their stares and expecting the looks of confusion their faces.

“It…it is nice to meet you too Mr. Itchy. I’m (Y/N) (L/N). But you can just call me (Y/N) for now.” You tell him in a monotone voice.

Clover’s grip on the top of the front gate became tighter when he saw you retreat ever so slightly away from them after your awkward greeting to Itchy. The littlest felt member eyed his friend with a worried but piercing gaze: ‘Did you do something wrong?’ his tried to convey.

For once, something made Itchy slow down and think about what he did.

Itchy had uncurl from his previous position and was looking down at the hand that you touched. He furrowed his brows. Questions started to swirl around in his mind:

‘Did you find him gross?’

‘Did his hand look dirty to you?’

 No.

Itchy made sure not to say anything insulting or gross in front of you like he promised to Clover along the way. He did everything perfect. Quick, precise, and onto the point.

So why did (Y/N) look so scared to him?

This strangely enough troubled Itchy. He didn’t like this feeling that was starting forming in his gut. It felt bad.

It made him feel bad.

And that in itself was inherently bad.

Itchy didn’t like wallowing in his emotions. Especially the ones that made him feel regretful.

Itchy finally looked up to Clover and gave him a straight face with a shrug. ‘I don’t know?’ he tried to tell Clover with his body language.

Itchy clenched his hand and decided to just shoved it into the pocket on his pants.

Clover nodded and returned back to look at you.

You were holding your dog in your arms now. And had unknowingly put your back partially turned towards them.

Itchy might not know what you were thinking. But Clover knew a defensive stance when he saw one. Hanging out with Quarters, Matchsticks, and Cans taught him that much on how to interpret people’s potential emotions. Even when they didn’t want to tell you out right on how they were really feeling on the inside.

Clover slowly slipped off his hat and held it in place over his chest. He gazes up at you, the twinkle in his eye shining differently now. “You’ve been probably wondering why I’m here again (Y/N).”

You turn to face him now. Clover noticed; something was different this time. Your eyes looked a bit duller now. And the expression you held on your face didn’t help either. It was cold and distant, and Clover could only imagine that you had a lot on your mind.

You licked you lips, trying to get the dry feeling off of them. “You’re here because you wanted to introduce me to your friend?” you responded back.

Clover sighed and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Ahh yes, that is true (Y/N). But also, I’m here to apologize to you.”

This surprises (Y/N) if only just a little bit. On the account that you raised both of your brows in mild shock. But you returned to petting Silas who was lounging in your arms.

“Is that so?” you told him in your soft voice.

Clover seemed to be growing more nervous now. From the pink dust that found its way over his cheeks and face. Seeing Clover, the luckiest man in the world, stumble over his words just by responding to someone. Made Itchy very interested. So much that again for once he decided it was best to shut-up and listen in to the conversation at hand.

“Y…yes, that is so (Y/N). I uhhh (cough) wanted to…to apologize for frightening you last week. That was very unbecoming of a gentleman like me. And…and I should have known better! Along with my sorry excuse of a pickup. A food-based pun?” Clover tried to give a quick chuckle at this. But it was evident enough that his previous bravado was starting to slip away from him. 

(Y/N) suddenly stops petting their dog. Their steely appearance revealing itself to be one of surprise at the revelation given to them. They turn around to face a guilty-but-blushing Clover. His tiny purple hat still gripped tightly over his heart. This somehow gives way to a tiny laugh from you.

Clover reminds you of those dandy looking gentlemen in your childhood books. Either fawning over their loved ones or expressing their woes in ever dramatic fashions.

Hearing the sound of your laughter makes Clover smile in return. As well as his outstanding bold personality that radiated off of him like a never ending energy generator.

“You have nothing to worry about Mr. Clover.” You told him kindly enough. “I am perfectly fine from our last encounter. However, I believe that it is I who is in the wrong here.” You say in distaste. It is not easy to admit that one is wrong even when you commit to the decision to say it out loud. It left a bad taste in your mouth. But you resigned to it. Accepting whatever consequence that should follow from it.

Clover looks at you with shock in his eyes. He scratches his head at your words and tilts his head to the side. Did he really hear you say that to him? Did you apologize to him?

“Really?” he quizzically asked. “What do you have to feel so bad for (Y/N)? You did nothing wrong!” he said with a shake of his head.  “In fact! I left quite enjoyed with our last conversation.”

You grew silent to this and avoided locking your eyes with him. “I wondered that too if you did Mr. Clover.”

“That is why I must confess, that I did not mean to convey any feelings of personal interest towards you. I don’t want you to think in the end that I was trying to flirt with you. I just…”

You breathed in deeply and exhaled out before finding the right words to say.

“At the heat of the moment. I saw how happy you were in telling me such a silly pickup line that I wanted to play along as well. But I’ll admit. I could have done something more…no. LESS flirtatious than narrowly kissing you on the lips as a goodbye.”

Clover was going to say something in return before Itchy decided to lean closer to him and whisper into his ear. “Daaammn! You almost made it to 1st base? And on the first day no less??”

Clover pursed his lips and pushed Itchy’s stupid face away from his. Clover, with his hat still in hand, tried his best to lift himself up from your front gate. To close in the great height difference between you and him.

“(Y/N)…” he starts off looking at you with wide eyes.

“You don’t have to apologize to me about that! I know you didn’t mean it that way. I’m a pretty good prankster myself, but sure enough, you got me on that fateful day!”

‘In more ways than that one’ he silently thought to himself in that moment.

“what I mean to say is…we both feel like we messed up on our first hello, huh?”

(Y/N) nodded solemnly to this.

Clover smiles up at them, “How about we start over?”

“Right now? Are you sure?” You asked.

“Sure? Sure, I’m sure! Time is irrelevant and people have their flaws. But I always believe in the luck of second chances!” Clover chirps at you.

“Well are you two finally gonna kiss and make up now?” Itchy says offhandedly.

You and Clover chose not to acknowledge Itchy’s comment.

You walked over to the front gate and urge Clover to step off from his hanging position so you could open door for him. You also put Silas down knowing how angsty he’ll be once you open the gate that separates him from his new best friend.

Clover did as he was told and hopped off with a crinch-crunch of the gravel walkway under his feet.

The front gate creaked as the rusted metal hinges that held it in place moved from its previous station. The gate was open, and nothing separated you from the two men. You’ll admit it…a part of you was scared. About letting anyone in. Not for safety that is. But the fact that you’ve never really invited anyone over to your house before. Even before you moved to Midnight City.

The only time you shared your place with another living being was with your roommates back in collage.

Clover twirled his little purple hat around on his fingers and placed it back on his head.

‘What a cool little trick’ you thought to yourself.

“Afternoon to ya!” Clover said gleefully. “I’m Clover, I’m your next-door neighbor!”

You nodded your head to him in acknowledgment. “Good afternoon Mr. Clover. I’m (Y/N) (L/N). I just recently moved here, and I hope that I can get to know you on better terms.”

You look over to Itchy waiting ever (un)patiently in the corner of your eye. You give him a small smile. Itchy seems to like this and smiles back at you too.

“I also hope to see more of your friends too.” You share the two men. “Now, as my guests, would you two gentlemen like to join me for some snacks inside my house?”

Itchy perks up to this and his pleasant smile turns into a wild grin that spreads across his face.

“Snacks? Did they just say snacks?”

Clover happiness seems to glow brighter as he looked up towards you, “If it would not bother you (Y/N). My companion and I would gladly accept your offer for snacks.”

You smile back at him, the light in your eyes slowly growing ever so brightly once more. “Then please…” You step off to the side and wave the two men into your front yard.

“Come inside.”

Clover skips right in “Don’t mind if we do my dear (Y/N)!”

Itchy strolls in right after his friend and swoops in low to pet your dog. Whom of which currently finds Itchy’s pants interesting from the way he excessively sniffs it. “So—” Itchy says. “What do you have in store for us?”

“Well…” You responded back without looking at him. “You should be thankful that you stopped by at this time. Because I was just planning to make some chocolate chip cookies.”

Itchy slows down just a bit to fist pump into the air and whispered a silent-but-strong “Hell yeah!” to himself.

Clover however, found himself following on your left-flank with a dopey look on his face. He really couldn’t believe his luck. It has been more than a hundred years since he got his powers, and he was starting to really worried that he wouldn’t be so lucky on this particular day.

Clover was just happy that you trusted him enough to start over and let him and Itchy inside your house. The place looks a tad-bit old looking. It’s white paint graying and chipping away and the wood looks very weathered. He wonders as he watches you open the front door for them with a pleasant smile on your face. You look very content—a drastic change from the events that led up to this moment.

‘It must take someone to be very brave to live alone in these woods’ the littlest member of the Felt thought. ‘I wonder if they’ll let me be their friend?’ he thought once more to himself before stepping through the threshold. ‘I hope they’ll come over to visit the Felt manor soon too’ he thought again to himself as he looked around their spacious house.

He observed seeing a layered glass case with various colorful rocks and gems in it, placed in the corner of the open living room. He noticed how simple and modest everything was. From the slightly worn-out grey couch with the quilt blanket hanging on its back. To the tiny coffee table next to it with a book that had a marker placed inside of it. As well as a hand-sized photo of a younger more smiley (Y/N) holding an even smaller Silas in their arms. But as Clover and Itchy were led into the dining room which was adjacent from the living room. Mister 4 didn’t see any photos of other people inside the house. Just a few photos of past Silas and one scenery painting hanging on a wall.

‘Did you not have photos or paintings of other people? What about your family?’ Clover tapped his chin in thought.

‘Were you trying to hide something?’

Chapter Text

“Okay so like this?” Clover asks as he stirs in the cookie batter as hard as he could. His right arm was starting to ache a little bit, but he made damn well sure, that all of the ingredients were blended in together just right.

“Umm—let me look.” (Y/N) leans into Clover’s space and takes a look inside the mixing bowl. “Mhm! Looks pretty good to me. Good job Mister Clover!”

Hearing your positive compliment towards him made Clover smile. When you retreated back to looking at the instructions; Clover also did a little happy dance on the step-up stool you provided for him.

Itchy taps you on your left shoulder, “Hey (Y/N)?”

You look up from the instructions and face him. “Yes, Mister Itchy?”

“How many chocolate chips can I dunk in here?” Itchy points down at the small-but-hefty yellow bag on the counter.

“Well…the instructions did say just to put at least 1 cup full of chocolate chips into the batter.”

Itchy rolls his eyes to this and leans back his head to make a strange guttural sound. It was a mixture of sounding gurgling with mouthwash and also, what a child would make when they are told that they can’t do something by a parent.

Clover puts his hands on his hips and frowns at number 1. “Itchy…” he says in mild disappointment.

(Y/N) also exhales a quick puff of air before replying back to their guest.

“Mister Itchy if you put in any more chocolate chips into the batch. Too many chips could sink to the bottom of the cookies. Do you want cookies that are stuc—”

“Yeeeeaaaah—” Itchy interrupts them with a pat on their back (which makes (Y/N) shiver) and does a sweeping gesture to the yellow bag containing the chocolate chips, then at himself. “BUT think about it? More chocolate chip in a cookie. The more chocolaty and sweet!”

Clover gives out a quiet ‘tsk’ and rolls his eyes at Itchy before returning to stirring in the cookie batter. He halfheartedly whispers under his breath. “More of like an excuse for you to get a sugar high…” he says with great distaste.

Itchy glances over at Clover and with the help of his powers. He quickly leans backwards, behind (Y/N)’s back, to quickly stick-out his tongue at Clover. “I heard that you little munchkin” he hisses out.

(Y/N) meanwhile tries their best to remain calm and cool-like. Because standing in the middle between your two neighbors were starting to slowly get on your nerves bit-by-bit. But at last, you reminded yourself to be on your best behavior and try to lower your expectations of them. Not everyone you meet is going to be perfect. And sure enough, no matter how well dressed someone appears to be. The suits do not hide the fact that they hold the possibility of housing a man-child in the making.

So, you proposed an idea to Itchy that if he sticks to the baking instructions. Then you would let him snack away at the chocolate chip bag. That you knew from the start, he was eying when you pulled out the yellow bag from your food cabinet.

Itchy, as expected, said yes to this and currently has this look on his face that showed that he was very satisfied with this deal. A part of you wondered if you fell into his trap of ‘mildly annoying you so much that in the end…’ he got what he wanted. The bag of chocolate chips as a bargaining tool to stop him from constantly stopping everyone from baking these cookies.

How do you know this technique so well? Well you see…this was a skill most found in children. And like a child, Itchy was all about that sweet life. You caught from the edge of your eye that you noticed how fast Itchy could be. It left you dumbfounded on how insistent he was to satisfy his sweet tooth. Itchy dove in-and-out of the yellow bag. Hands like a seagull at a pile of scattered fries dropped at a fast food restaurant’s parking lot.

‘And a stomach like a seagull too’ you thought.

You let him have his fun as well as let him pour in the cup of chocolate chips he promised into the mixing bowl Clover was in charge of. As Clover took up to stirring the bowl again, he glanced over to you and gave a small smile of contentment. He was enjoying spending his day with you and he wanted to tell you personally how he was felt. But alas, couldn’t find the right words to tell you in the moment. Just telling you how much he appreciated being allowed in your house and helping you made his heart feel kind-of heavy and stained his cheeks pink with blush.

You however did not notice his staring as you were currently preparing the tray. You were measured out the size of the baking sheet to place it on top of the tray.

Clover decided that maybe now was the perfect time to make his move. He hoped that with the impromptu of an introduction and the process of baking. You felt comfortable enough in their presence.

Clover slow-downed his stirring and cocked his head towards your direction. “Excuse me (Y/N)?”

You didn’t look up from your work as you were carefully spreading out the baking sheet and made sure that it was secured in place on the tray. But you did give an indication that you heard him talking to you by giving out an audible “Hm?”

Clover inhaled from his nose before speaking out again. “Is it okay if I ask you some questions?” he asks hesitantly.

You abruptly stopped working on the tray, head unmoving from its downward position, and stared down at it.

Itchy took little notice of this as he was busy shoving his mouth full of chocolate chips.

Clover, however, took notice of this and gave a worried look to you. And as a second passed by; he began to feel bad about even asking you about that. Clover was going to apologize for over-stepping his boundaries as a guest in your home and as your neighbor; until you responded back in that very second.

“You may ask me some questions.” You said swiftly before returning back to making sure the baking sheet was secure and unwrinkled. “So long as I get to also ask some questions of my own. And that we both keep in mind to not cross through certain lines of questioning. I’m sure there are some things you two prefer to be kept to yourselves, right?”

“Hm?” Itchy looks back at the two of them now. Both cheeks full of chocolate chips and brows raised in the line of questioning that came from (Y/N).

Clover, ignoring the image in his mind of what Itchy would look like as a chipmunk, nodding up to you in agreement. “Sure (Y/N)! Totally understandable! If you don’t feel like answering a certain question. Then you just tell us that you feel uncomfortable and we’ll just drop it.”

You nod to Clover’s response. “Good. I will also do the same for you two as well. So…go ahead ask your questions.” They said as they now stopped working on the tray and commandeered Clover’s power on the mixing bowl.  

They also gestured to the two men that they could take a seat at their small dining table behind them. The dining table was held in the room that wasn’t far from the kitchen. It held a clear view of the kitchen in fact. Say what you will about old homes. It feels strangely natural to have the dining table near the kitchen. It makes Clover think about what it would be like if the Manor didn’t have so many rooms for so many things.

Clover hopped off the stool he was on and walked over to the table and took a seat. But not before dragging Itchy away with him by tugging at the tail-end of his suit. Itchy decided to take the whole bag of chocolate chips with him as well before deciding to sit down in his own seat; opposite of Clover.

“Well?” You said patiently waiting as you were rolling up tiny balls of cookie dough in your hands. Your back still faced the two of them.

Clover sat there in his seat thinking about which of the many questions he should ask you.

‘Should I go with something simple and non-invasive like: what’s your favorite color?’ He thought. ‘No…that’s a silly thing to ask. Maybe I should ask where they got their dog?

Oh, that sounded pretty good. It isn’t too personal of a question and he knew how much easier it was to talk about a pet then one’s own past. But before Clover could ask….

Itchy decided to speak up first.

“Alrighty! First question!” The snarky sounding man barked off. Clover’s right eye twitched he silently prayed to whatever god was looking down at him to please don’t let Itchy fuck this up. Clover really hoped that maybe just MAYBE. His luck could rub a little bit off on his friend and that the question that would fall out of his chocolate covered mouth would be something innocent, sweet, or non-personal.

‘Yeah, maybe Itchy will be a good gentleman like he promised? Go on Itchy, say what you gotta say!’ Clover thought to himself. He began to unknowingly tap his fingertips against his knees now.

“I understand that you go by like neutral-pronouns. But what do you identify as? If so, how would you like me, my buddy, and the rest of the gang refer to you from here on out?”

Clover forced himself to keep that small smile on his face. He swung his feet back and forth eyeing you and then Itchy. And then back to you and then Itchy. Trying to get a read on the emotion in the room. He wanted to scream inside because he was really worried that you might get mad at Itchy for asking you about your gender-identity. He knew that depending on the person, it was a serious question in on itself to ask. And not everyone was open to discuss about that part of themselves to someone they down know.

(Y/N) cut through the silence, “Yes. It is true that I go by they or them pronouns. But it’s time that you two both know that I identify as genderfluid. Genderfluid just means that I’m not fixated on remaining as one gender over time. I identify as both a male, female, and non-binary. I would greatly prefer it, if you and the rest of my neighbors could refer to me by, they or them pronouns. But I would also like you two to know that I am fine if any of you end up referring to me by either male or female pronouns. Just…” (Y/N) sighs. “Just please keep in mind about my preference to they and them. It gets frustrating some days when people call me a guy or girl for long-long periods of time.”

Itchy leans back in his chair with a hand underneath his chin in thought. He nodded in silence, content with your answer. “I can deal with that and I’m pretty sure that the other guys back at home can understand something as simple as talking to person with the correct pronouns. Right Clover?”

Clover was quick to agree with Itchy’s statement, “You have nothing to fear from us (Y/N)! We respect your choices and your identity!”

You place down the fourth ball of cookie dough on the tray and gave them a curt nod in acknowledgment. You didn’t know if you could trust in Clover or Itchy’s word. It’s been some time since you’ve trusted in someone’s promise to you…

A part of you wants to believe in them, that you’ll be accepted. That maybe for once, you wouldn’t have to hide or explain to someone for just existing.

Just telling them about that part of yourself scared you. Scared you enough that you began to notice that your hands were starting to visibly shake. Such movement made it hard for you to roll the next cookie dough into a smooth ball. You tried your best to steel yourself and closed your eyes. You didn’t want any of them to think that you were having another breakdown. You slowly breathed in-and-out before deciding to ask your question. Better to distract the two boys and yourself soon than to have one of them point out the possibility that something was wrong with you.

You didn’t like how vulnerable and soft you could around others. Maybe that’s why you don’t let people in? Because you’re afraid to be seen for what you really are.

What were you? A coward? A fool? A self-absorbed prick? You decided that now wasn’t the time to be thinking about things like that. Not with people around. When they leave, then you’ll think about. Until then…you’re going to ask some questions.

“I have a question for the both of you.” You stated out loud to the of both of them.  

“Sure, shoot.” Itchy replies back, now dangerously leaning the wooden chair he is in backwards. Trying to toss a couple chocolate chips into the air and catch them in his mouth. Even though you didn’t witness any of this. He was surprisingly very good at it.

“Of course (Y/N)! What do you want to ask us?” Clover says as he takes off his hat and places it on your table.

You eye the tray on the counter bellow you. You’ve placed about five cookie dough balls on it. You wanted to put at least fifteen before putting it in the oven.

“The first question I have is, why do you refer to your house as a manor? Is it really a manor? Or is it just a nickname you give it because its big?”

Clover leans forward resting his elbows on his knees and placing his face between his awaiting palms. “Oh? Well your right about it being manor (Y/N). We do live in a big house with a lot of rooms. In fact, Felt Manor even has a game room, a lounge, a really big kitchen!”

You mold the seventh cookie dough into a ball and place it down on the tray.

‘Did he say that they have a lounge?’ You thought.

Are you secretly living next door to a bunch of rich folks? But then again…a lot of buildings you’ve notice inside or near Midnight City looked pretty old. Some of them going far back as to the 1920’s. Maybe your neighbors got their house similar to what you did to pay for yours? I mean from what Clover says, they live in a manor of all places! But it must be very old and crumbling. Your house doesn’t look the best when you bought it. And with the size of a manor it must have seen better days…right?

You engage in this conversation further. “So how are you and the rest of your friends paying for all of that? I remember you telling me on the first day that you and your roommates all work at the same job. I can only imagine the number on your house’s bills and taxes.”

-CLUNK-

Itchy leans forward now, the chair’s front legs back on the ground. He was crunching down on the last of the chocolate chips in his mouth. He raised his pointer finger at Clover to tell him to stop talking.

Itchy is looking straight back at you now. “Well you see (Y/N). We happen to work both at home AND in the City. We have a long history here and we worked really hard to get where we came from. Started from the bottom and up on top! We practically own Midnight City~! From some if its restaurants, bars, and stores. Were very successful businessmen!” he said with pride.

Ah here we go. The B-word. No chuckle-heads not THAT B word. Businessmen. You were partial to those kinds of people seeing that you-yourself worked hand-in-hand with one in the jewelry sales corner of the world. But it always depended on which kind of work they ran. From what Itchy told you, your suspicions of them being high-class folks weren’t a personal silly joke to you anymore. With both Itchy and Clover dressed in such attire. It explained everything about their professional background.

Clean iron-pressed suits. Strange yet fitting hats; probably because they were eccentric. People who have a stake in the business world always had something to flaunt off to others.

You paused for a moment to glance over your left shoulder to look at Itchy. Whom of which was staring right back at you with legs spread out and hands interlaced behind his head. He was smiling. No. Grinning, expecting you to be in some form of shock or perhaps amazed by what he said. And maybe you would have given him an ounce of a false look of amazement. If it weren’t for the dark smudges of chocolate at the corners of his upturned lips.

‘Why is it with the most prideful have most trouble taking care of themselves? Doesn’t he know how to clean-up after himself?’ You thought with a straight face.

You don’t return a smile back to Itchy and turn around to grab a clean cloth that was hanging on the oven’s handle. (Y/N) gave the rag a little rinse from the sink before striding over to Itchy’s corner of the dining room. They give him the moist rag with an unimpressed look on their face.

Clover covers his mouth with one hand and tries to hold back some snickering that slips past his lips.

Itchy’s big grin twitched and nearly faltered. He was little bit confused to say the least. Usually when he told people that he and the rest of the Felt were pretty well off. They would congratulate them on their hard work or fall head over heels trying to get on their good sides to see if they could get a piece of their fortune.

“You have something on your face Mister Itchy” (Y/N) said to him.

“Uhhh—thanks” Itchy replied back before taking the wet cloth and wiping the entirety of his mouth clean. He watched in silence as (Y/N) side-stepped past him to snatch up the empty bag of chocolate chips. He could hear them whispering underneath their breath. ‘How the hell did you even eat all of the chocolate chips in one sitting? Its dark chocolate…’

And with a quick shake of their head they walked back over to their part of the kitchen. Tossed away the empty bag into the trash can and continued working on the rest of the cookie dough.

Clover eyed Itchy and gave him a smug face. As well as mouthing to him “Itchy-is-a-baby-man”.

Itchy rolled his eyes to this and mouthed back “shut-the-fuck-up” before gently tossing up the wet rag onto the wooden table with a soft plop!

Clover looked back over to you and asked another question. “So (Y/N) what brought you over to little ol’ Midnight City? Oh, all the places you could live in, you had to choose here. Why?”

“Why?” you replied quizzically back. “I grew tired of living in the old town I came from. Nowhere to go, nothing exciting to see, besides, I needed to get away and find a better perspective on things.”

“Things?” Clover asks. He’s scooting at the edge of his seat; engrossed in (Y/N)’s choice of words. Maybe he’ll learn something about (Y/N)’s past?

Things. Being work related Mister Clover.” You responded back to him, placing down the fourteenth ball on the tray. “I work as an assistant and apprentice for a jewelry shop inside the City.”

Itchy picked at his nails and gave a quick up-looking glace at you. “What’s the shop’s name?”

You place down the final cookie on the tray. That makes fifteen moderately sized balls of cookie dough. You still had enough in the mixing bowl for another batch. But seeing that you only had one baking tray you thought it was best to just place that sucker in the oven for now. And just bake the rest later after the first batch was done.

“Huh?” you said. You opened the oven up, the warm air stirring around your face as you slid the tray of cookie dough inside of it. “Why do you want to know?” you finished up your sentence.

Itchy shrugged and placed his right leg over his left one, “I’m just asking cause maybe you’re working in one of our backed stores? Definity not mine or Clovers though. Jewelry shops seem more of a Sawbuck, Fin, Snowman, hell maybe even Crowbar’s thing. I’d bet a dollar if it’s a store owned by Snowman!”

You give Itchy a confused look and shook your head at him in disagreement. “I’m sorry Mister Itchy but I don’t think so. I work for a Mr. Keyes. His store is a long-time mom & pop shop. But he’s an honest man and people with a good eye for jewelry seem to keep his business afloat just fine. From what I was told, nobody has ever owned his family’s store but himself and his father and mother before him.”

Itchy scratches underneath his chin and scrunches up his face in thought. Although in your opinion it looked like a face someone would make when they smelt something nasty in the air. “Keyes? Keeeeyes? Why have I heard that name before?” he muttered out.

Clover too put a finger on his chin and thought alongside his friend. Itchy was right to be thinking hard about that name. The Felt knew this city like the back of their hand. And that name: Keyes sounded pretty familiar. Like they’ve met a Keyes before, maybe back in the day during the Felt’s height of their power and infamy in the City.

And then it came to him like a lightbulb turning on.

Clover pipped up to (Y/N) in a soft tone “The store that you work for wouldn’t be named Keyes’s Jewelry & Antique shop. Would it?”

(Y/N) nodded back to Clover and walked over to the sink to clean up their hands. “Yeah that’s the store alright. You guys know Mr. Keyes?”

Itchy hissed out something that sounded like a deflating balloon. Unknowing to you, he was trying to concealed a laugh that nearly let itself loose. “Ooooh yeah (Y/N)! We definitely know Mr. Keyes. Hell, we even knew his old man and his old man’s man before they kicked the bucket!”

You dry off your hands and genuinely looked shocked to hear this.

How old were Itchy and the rest of his friends when they went into business in Midnight City?

Clover took a hint that he should step in on the conversation and speak up on the behalf of Itchy and his loose trap of a mouth.

“We used to be close friends with the Keyes family (Y/N). Until another group of businessmen stepped in on their behalf and told us that we would no longer be needed as future sponsors. And from there those same men still fund that store and many others in Midnight City.” The littlest felt member said.

You give a small laugh to this and crouch down a little bit to see how the cookies were going in the oven. Not yet, they were still flat but not yet golden-brown. “You make it sound like you boys are in the mafia are something. But I guess the real estate and commerce business is pretty cutthroat around here, huh?” You say in a playful tone.

Clover and Itchy both look over at each other at the same time. They both gave out a few chuckles at your statement. Clover’s was more nervous sounding that Itchy’s. Probably because Itchy was more used to lying to people than he was on a daily basis.

Clover knew you were just playing around again. Maybe if you met them in a different timeline, he would have admitted to you outright from the beginning that they were a bunch of mobsters. But times are different and admitting that you commit fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and cold-blooded murder isn’t what it used to be. Ever since Lord English went quiet during the depression years. Steadily overtime The Felt along with the Midnight Crew have silently decided among themselves to collectively slow down on crime in the City. And year after year, they have changed their techniques to be stealthier and more adjusted to the current times.

Did you know white collared crimes are one of the most overlooked type of crimes in society? The amount of wealth that they have hoarded over the years. They could buy a billion lawyers just to defend them in court and could probably get a slap on the wrist for jail time if they wanted too. But most importantly if they wanted to take a run at Midnight City again? What’s to stop them? It’s not like Midnight City was that important in America. It started out as a little town in the middle of the desert. And now it was sprawling city where desert, mountain, and forest meet as one.

How is this possible you may ask? Well when it comes down to time alteration and being able to reach out behind time and space itself. It’s just plain out strange and bizarre what Doc Scratch and the items he finds can do to the environment and people around here.

Clover eyes dilate when he notices that your walking back over to the dining table now.

And you’re heading straight towards him.

‘Ooooooh boy. Okay Clover. Act cool. Act REAL cool. You’ve done this a million times. Remember don’t flirt unless your reading and hearing them out right. Wait. Did you put on that new perfume? The one that had roses in it. Your pretty sure you did. You borrowed it from Snowman just yesterday when you planned out your small trip over to (Y/N)’s house. Do you think they’ll notice? Do you think (Y/N) likes the smell of roses? What are you saying??? They have a garden outside of their house! You were there on the day when they planning on making it just a week ago!? Why do you feel suddenly hot? Is the house hot? Is it because of the oven? Why are you talking so much to yourself right now? OH, DEAR LORD THEY’RE INFRONT OF YOU NOW!’ ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—'

Clover adjusts in his seat so that he had one leg over the other. And leans back in dramatic-yet-relaxed pose, he looks at you with his winning smile and gives a sharp nod.

“Hey.” He says trying to deepen the tone his naturally high-pitched and airy voice. He’s trying to look and sound cool right now. It’s not working though, because the next thing he hears is Itchy laughing his ass off at him. This makes Clover begin to blush in embarrassment and quickly reels himself back into a normal sitting position in the chair.

(Y/N) doesn’t seem to care nor look over to see what was making Itchy laughing so hard that it was making him slamming his fists on their table. They knew why, and they didn’t care. (Y/N) just smiled down at Clover with that gentle look in their eye and crouched down to lucky four’s eye level.

“You’re a pretty funny guy Mister Clover. I really want to like you as my neighbor. You promise to me that you’ll make sure that your none of your wise guys rob any jewelry store’s anytime soon? Alright?” You playfully say this to him in that soft tone of yours. God does your voice make him feel weak in the knees. Thank goodness that he was sitting in a chair! But what made this oh-so-much sweeter was when you stuck your hand out at him; pinky finger extended.

Clover looked like he had stars in his eyes when he saw this. He started to squeal for joy and tried his best not to overtly jump up and down out of his chair.

‘Omg…they want me to pinkie promise. Only best friend’s pinky promise!! I’ve made it! You lucky son-of-a-bitch you did it! You really fucking did it! You mad lad!

Clover slowly reaches over and interlocked his right pinky around yours. “I promise on me lovin' father’s grave that’ll l watch over de boys for yer (y/n)!” he replied back to you, his accent showing off more.

(Y/N) chuckles at how excited Clover looked. Something about him made you feel happy inside. He appeared to be a very genuine appearing man. Kind, childish at times, but kind nevertheless and very professional when around you.

Which is to say the least, is very unlike his friend: Itchy. You give Itchy a side-glace from your position to see him slowly recovering from his sudden outburst of laughter at your table. He was wiping his red strained eyes with a stray finger that was also accompanied by a long wide smile.

Something about Itchy just rubbed you the wrong way. ‘Could it be because of his prideful nature?’ No, you thought. You’ve worked with others in your field who held tightly to their pride like it was a commandment from god. And you knew well enough over the years, that you would find yourself being very prideful from time to time as well.

No…it was like as if every time Itchy talked to you. Or held your attention in whichever way he had. It was as if Itchy was just playing another the part in some sort of game with you. Itchy just seems like the kind of person who enjoys having everyone in his life play secondary-character and become the butt of his jokes. But a part of you wondered if that maybe Itchy was just as good at hiding his true emotions.

-DING-DING-DING-

Itchy and Clover visibly jumped in their seats. They looked momentarily surprised and very alert all of a sudden. Like they were expecting something to happen after hearing your timer go off. You would have asked them what was up with them.

But you quickly moved that thought from your mind as you got up from our position in front of Clover and made you way back to your oven.

“Ah! The cookies are done!” you said in a merry voice. You opened the oven.

Itchy and Clover scoot back into their seats…just a little bit. Mister One eyeing your open oven suspiciously. He knew that Biscuits wouldn’t be popping out of it any time soon. Nor Eggs seeing that your timer was attached to your oven. And not in the hands of a time-warping-multiplying brick-headed of an oaf.

(Y/N) pulls out the tray of fifteen perfectly golden chocolate chip cookies and places it on a nearby counter to cool down. You pull out your phone to look at the time and hum in contentment. It would seem that your neighbors have visited you for nearly three hours now. It doesn’t feel that long since they stopped by. But like all good things, it would have to come to an end.

You lean up on your tippy toes as you open up a cabinet above you on your right; next to the sink. You pull out a decorative frog-themed plate and grab a spatula to place the cookies onto it. You also take the time to pull out the box of saran wrap hiding where you keep your zip bags.

Clover perks up to this. "What ye doin' dare (y/n)?"

“I’m just wrapping up the cookies for you guys to take back home. I think it’s about time I start preparing dinner for me and Silas. Speaking of which…” You stop mid-sentence from wrapping to look around the kitchen and tiny dining room. No Silas to be seen.

You put your hands over your hips and give out and exhale a sigh. “Now where is my little boy?” you ask out loud in a curious tone. “I want to see my little boy!” you mildly say out loud once more, this time with more vigor.

Clover started to giggle at this finding you to be very funny in the moment. Even Itchy who was already up on his feet gave a small smile at your display of love for your dog.

It was in this moment a small high-pitched yip came from underneath the sink. Which was covered by a yellow checkered cloth held by rings on a rod. Everyone looked towards where the sound came from. You slowly put a finger up to your mouth in a silent gesture for the two men to remain quiet.

“OOoooh! Where could my little man be? I’m so lonely without my best friend in the world! Who will I share my leftover sausages when I can’t finish them? Who will share my bed in lonely times? Who will keep me warm in the soft glow of an early dawn!?” you dramatically say one hand on your forehead and the other sweeping off to your side. All the why’ll looking away from where the sink was.

Itchy laughed and replied back to your question.

“You know if all you want is some companionship, I could be your guAAYAAACK!”

Itchy didn’t finish his sentence because Clover was there to elbow him right in the gut. You wanted to call Itchy out on his horrible pass at you. But you were secretly in awe by how swift Clover was from diving from his seat and jumped just right to hit Itchy. It was strangely graceful looking. Has he done this before?

But before anyone else could say something. Just after Itchy was dunked on by the littlest Felt member. An even smaller creature came out of his hole. He was made-up from the darkness between the night sky and speckled in white hairs that fixated on him like stars. He had just emerged from his slumber from underneath the sink. He grunted as his tiny fluffy head peered out from the yellow checkered cloth. He looked like a wise fortune teller who was on their 5-minute smoking break peeking outside to tell you ‘what the fuck is up my dude? what do you want?’

But from the way Silas was looking at Itchy he didn’t seem to like what the man said earlier about the possibility of him taking his place. As your number one. Number one-bedroom companion and ultimate best friend in the universe that is!

“Eyyy! There’s my little man!” You said to your dog as he slowly stumbled out from underneath the sink. Silas pants harder looking at you now and is wagging his tiny fluffy tail. ‘I have emerged from my slumber mother’ you would imagine him saying.

You swoop down forward to give Silas a good pat on the head for being an extra good boy. He did very great in not bothering your guests. And he was the best gentleman overall. Silas wags his tail faster happy to be acknowledged by you.

Clover “aws” at this smooshing his cheeks in-between his hands. Itchy however rolls his eyes at Clover and begins to walk over to you and stops halfway.

Itchy scratches his face before speaking up to you. “Thanks, f’ah letting us inside your house and talking with you. We had fun. Also, can I have a cookie now?”

You lean up from petting Silas and give Itchy a quick “No problem” before turning back around and finished wrapping up the cookies on your frog-themed plate. You were about to hand over the plate of cookies into Itchy’s awaiting hands until a very stealthy Clover popped up and ‘yonked’ the plate away from him.

“Hey!” Itchy frowns at his friend.

He looks betrayed. Itchy stares down at Clover like he has lasers in his eyes.

‘How could you do this to me’? He thought. ‘You are my friend and my on-and-off again lover. How could you take the cookies away from me?’ His eyes pleaded.

But Clover knew what he did. And he did it because it was the most necessary thing to do. If Itchy got hold of those cookies, chances are he would be out of this house in a split-second and eating all of the cookies for himself. And if Clover counted right, when he observed (Y/N) placing the cookies on this adorable froggy plate. There were fifteen wonderfully, scrumptious, looking chocolate chip cookies for one of every member in the Felt!

He smiled up at (Y/N). "Don't worry my dearest (y/n). I'll make sure that everyone back at felt manor gets a taste of your cookies! I'll even return your cute plate right back to ya all shiny and clean!”

You return a comforting smile back to Clover. “Thank you, Mister Clover. That’s very kind of you.”

“Uughh! Do we have to share ALL of the cookies with those bozos?” Itchy whines.

Clover gives Itchy a stare “Of course we are Itchy! Besides. You. Promised. Riiight?”

Itchy folds his arms into his chest and squints at Clover.

Clover looks at him straight in the eyes.

You look down at Silas.

Silas looks up at you confused. Not because he knows what’s going on but because Silas is a dog.

Clover’s stare starts to look darker now as he continues to stare Itchy down. “Right Itchy?” Clover said to him in a much more serious tone than you have ever heard coming out from the bubbly looking man. He even stopped smiling now...

Itchy looked away from Clover for a second and gave out a small “tsk” and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Whatever! just make sure that I get my cookie the first second we step back inside the house okay? Come on, let’s make a move on it. I hate walking through that forest...gives me the creeps.”

“Goodbye Mister Itchy! Have a goodnight!” (Y/N) said.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah don’t tell me what to do. See ya next time or whatever (Y/N)!” Itchy replies back as he rounded the corner that led into your living room. And soon enough, as he left the kitchen, you heard your front door open and close.

You turn back to see a still smiling Clover and you couldn’t help but smile back down at him as well. He looks a bit nervous now. From the way he was tightly gripping the sides of your frog plate and the slight movement of his polished shoes. Does he have something to say? You fold your hands behind your back and patiently wait for him to speak up.

When he does decide to talk. He does it very tentatively.

“(Y/N)?” Clover asks finally finding the courage to speak up to them.

“Yes, Mister Clover?” you reply back.

A small blush started to form on Clover’s cheeks. Leaving a nice dusty pink color over his freckled face. “(Y/N) I don’t know if I am asking this too soon. But, would you like to have dinner with me and my friends next week? At…at the Felt Manor that is. On a Saturday if that’ll be the easiest for you?”

You raise a brow to this and the loose grip on your hands behind your back became suddenly tighter. Was he asking you to come over to his home? His manor? This fabled multi-roomed ‘Felt Manor’. With all of his rich, well-dressed, fancy, business co-workers? Just the thought of mingling with them made a knot form in your stomach. What if they don’t like you? What if all of those promises that Clover made were just a bunch of lies?

You keep your face as neutral looking as you could but feigned to looking disappointed. “Oh, I don’t know Mister Clover. I don’t think I’ll be able to show up for that. I’ve been rather busy as of lately settling into my home and making sure that I’m doing absolutely right by Mr. Keyes at his store.”

Clover gave out a disappointed “Oh…” It was so soft that you had lean forward just enough to strain your ears to just hear it. He cast his eyes down to the floor. He looked very sadden by your decision.

You felt that knot in your stomach disappear and replace itself with a pang of guilt inside your heart. You were lying to Clover. Your neighbor and possibly someone you could’ve call a friend someday.

You try to remind yourself to not let your emotions get the best of you. That you should know better. That you don’t want it to end up like last time. You don’t want to disappoint yourself or anyone else in the near future. You didn’t need friends right now. All you needed were just yourself, your dog, and some peace and quiet.

Oh, but look at his face. All freckled and he was blushing so hard just trying to talk to you. What kind of monster would you be to say no to a face like that?

NO.

You would not be tricked into falling for this.

Not to another sad sap’s excuse for a get together.

Clover is cute and genuinely kind.

But you’ve been around enough people to know that even the most unsuspecting people could be the cruelest.

Your eyes strained against your face a little bit. You were trying not to cry now. The flood of memories and past mistakes trickling through you like a dam ready to burst.

You don’t know if you’re ready yet to trust again.

Clover slowly looks up back up to you about to say something else. Something to maybe change your mind. But as he did, he noticed how your eyes were starting to look shinier and your face looked more solemn than before. The sad look on his face quickly changes into one of worry.

“(Y/N)…are you okay?”

‘Dear fucking god. No.’ You thought. He said it. He said the goddamn word. You’re a mess. You better finish this up right now.

You force yourself to control your emotions and give a forced cough. Then hesitantly you place a hand over Clover’s shoulder. You take a deep breath and give him the best smile you could muster. You even showed more teeth this time to show how much you mean it.

“I’m fine Mister Clover. I’m just…very tired from today. I didn’t get that much sleep from this whole week. Besides…” You tell Clover as you lead him over to your front door now. “The cookies are going to get cold. You should get back to your home now, you don’t want Mister Itchy to wait for you any longer!”

You opened up your door for him and pause for a moment. “Oh! Your hat!”

“My hat?” Clover asks.

“Your little hat! You left it back on my table—I’ll go get it for you!” (Y/N) says as they quickly leave Clover at the front door.

Clover could be considered a “dream child” being able to lose himself in thought. But he very keen on taking hints from his surroundings and interpreting them through his brain. Because now, he was biting on his bottom of his lip looking at your approaching form and then at Itchy who was impatiently tapping his foot outside the fence’s front gate for him.

Clover finally steps out of your house; taking his hat from (Y/N) when given to him. He looked outside the porch to Itchy before turning back around again to ask you one final question.

“(Y/N) do you want me to come back over soon?”

He gestures to the frog-themed plate in his hands. You shake your head at him slowly. You were starting to closing the front door now.

“No, it’s quite alright Mister Clover. You can just drop that old thing off back at my house any other day. If you want to keep it, you can. Think of it as a ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ gift from me to you.” You say.

“Oh…well then goodbye (Y/N). I really enjoyed spending time with you. Honest really.” Clover said as quickly as he could. He hoped that you believed in what he said to be true. Because he really did enjoy spending his time with you. As short as it may have been. He had a lot of fun talking and baking these cookies. You even gave him a pinky-swear promise! But before he could find even a single word to describe his further thankfulness. You finished this conversation soon enough.

“Goodbye Mr. Clover” you said before briskly closing the door with a sharp click!

--

Clover made his way through the forest with Itchy by his side. Clover somberly stared down at his feet and the plate of cookies in his hands. Itchy was just whistling a tune in the air as they took the old path around the great oak and past the picnic rock. He eyed his littlest companion and took notice of the unhappy look on his usually cherry face.

Itchy placed both hands behind his head and took longer steps with his legs. “Sooo—did things go out find between you and (Y/N)?”

Clover gives out a tiny sigh. Uh-oh that’s not good.

Itchy makes a face, “Eh…I’ll take that’s a big no-no on the whole dinner get together on Saturday?”

Clover nods as he quickly jumps over an overlapping tree root in his path. All without looking ahead. “(Y/N) said that they couldn’t come over because they were going to be too busy next week. With working and fixing up their house.”

“So? Just show up next week with that hella sick frog plate of theirs and maybe help them out in their garden. Bitches love gardening, right? Help plant roses for them or some shit. I’m sure Sawbuck will ya snatch some of his prized roses for (Y/N). You know how sentimental that fat fucker can be about romance.” Itchy says nonchalantly.

Clover looks at Itchy with anger in his eyes “First off, don’t ever call (Y/N) a bitch Itchy. I will fight you. Second of all I don’t think (Y/N) wants to see me any time soon.”

“Huh? What you mean by that lover boy? They can’t see you cause their busy with work and stuff, right?” Itchy asks him.

“No Itchy. I think…I think.” Clover slows down to a stop and gives out a deep sigh. He looks up at Itchy with worried look on his face.

A kind of face that even made the infallible Itchy feel worried enough to stop moving too.

“What? What is it Clover?”

Clover grip tights on the edge of the plate, “I think (Y/N) is hurt.”

Itchy scratches on the top of his head. “Like ‘hurt’ as in like broken bones kind of hurt?”

Clover’s eyebrows furrowed to this. “No! Itchy! I think (Y/N) is hurt on the inside. I think…” He takes a deep exhale and sucks in some air through his nose before continuing. “I think I even made them cry.”

Itchy looks at Clover with pursed lips and shakes his head at him. “OOooh—buddy, pal, friend, amigo, my bastard of a brother from another mother. You made (Y/N) cry?” Itchy gives out a low whistle and shakes his head even more at Clover. “What did you say to make them cry?”

Clover looks flabbergasted and rolls his shoulders up-and-down in confusion. He made sure to be careful not to swing the plate full of cookies around too hard in the process.

“I don’t know!” he started out, “All I remember is that I asked them if they were free next Saturday for dinner at Felt Manor. And then they said they were busy. Then they paused, and I think that maybe my mentioning of a meet and greet made them remember something?”

Clover was trying to control his breathing now due to how fast he was talking to Itchy. “I feel really worried about them! I understand that people naturally need their space. And I get it that they are serious about settling into their new home. But…why does (Y/N) want to be alone? Why do they look so scared to just even accept an invitation for dinner?”  

Itchy strolls over to a nearby tree to lean his back on and messages his face with his right hand. He sucks in some air through his teeth and finally speaks his mind.

“Okay Clover, first off breath for me okay?” he says pointing at Clover.

Clover does as he is told and takes in deep-shallow breaths. In-and-out. Itchy continues on.

“Look if you’re asking for my opinion. I would just say that maybe it’s time that you drop this whole thing.”

Clover closes his mouth and gives Itchy a confused look. He doesn’t understand in that moment about what his friend just told him. All he could find to say, “…what?”, before falling silent again.

Itchy folds his arms into his chest and locks his eyes with Clover’s. He was starting to get defensive and he knew that Clover was going to get into that mood too. By the time he said his peace.

“(Y/N) is a good neighbor Clover. But do they have the qualities of a good friend? Probably not.”

Clover’s face changes from a look of confusion, to doubt, to sadness, and then finally anger. He was sneering at Itchy and his tight hold on the cookie plate shoot in anger alongside him.

“How can you tell me that? You told me that you believed in me just a week ago! I…I…I thought you supported me! Besides you don’t know yet—(Y/N) might be just going through some personal things. And as their neighbors we should I don’t know? Check up on them from time to time? sooner or later they’ll trust us enough to be our friends I—"

Itchy cuts Clover’s rambling short, “Clover cut this shit out man! You just met (Y/N) for the SECOND time in your LIFE! They are a nice person, they bake cookies, and they made me smile a few times. But let’s get real here Clover, they’re an emotional time bomb just waiting to happen! And you know what? I’m not going to spend my time playing ‘buddy-buddy’ and ‘hey neighbor mind if I borrow some sugar’? For someone I don’t really care for in the end!  If they are going through some personal problems right now? That’s TOTALLY fine with me! That’s for them to figure out Clover!”

Itchy walks over to his friend and places a hand on the littlest member’s shoulder and broke down the news to him.

“They’re not worth going through all of this trouble.”

Clover just stares at Itchy for a moment. The soft wind rustling through the tree limbs and the occasional crunching of the forest floor, made by woodland creatures, were all the noise that was made. Clover stopped shaking with anger and then slowly with a calm look settling into his features. Mister 4 looks away from Mister 1, he slide’s the taller man’s hand off his shoulder, and begins to walk away from him in silence.

Itchy doesn’t take this very well and just rolls his eyes at him. He barely had to use his special power to catch up to Clover. “Come on man!”

Clover refuses to look at him or even to acknowledge his presence.

Itchy continues whining to him “Don’t shut down on me like that! You know I’m just looking out for you? Right? I’m your best friend, I’m just trying to make sure you don’t make a mistake! Clover?!”

Clover still refuses to look at him and tries to walk faster up the path. The looming green of Felt Manor came into view now.

Clover could see that Cans, Matchsticks, and Quarters were outside at the front of the Manor talking with each other. Probably talking about god knows what. They were covered in some sort of grey dust though…

All Clover wanted to do right now was just to go pass out everyone’s cookies and go to his room.

Clover slows down to a halt at the three behemoths. He pulls off the edge of the plastic wrap surrounding the cookies.

Cans takes notice of Clover approaching them and started to pat himself down. He smiled at his little friend. “Hey Clover!” he boomed out.

“Afternoon Clover.” Matchsticks nonchalantly says as he also tries patting some dust away from his hands and pants.

“Hey little man…” Quarters hisses out as he sets down his trademark gatling gun down with a huff. The strange grey dust that settled on the ground bellow puffed back up into the air in the process. Thankfully enough none of it landed on top of the plate of cookies Clover was holding.

“…what’s up?” Quarters finishes his question.

Clover chirps up to the skyscraper-sized men with his playful smile and a twinkle in his eye. “Hey boys! Me and Itchy here just visited our neighbor (Y/N). They made some chocolate chip cookies for everyone. So, I’m here to just pass them out to all of us!”

“Aww that’s so sweet of them!” Can’s says as he gingerly picked up his cookie between his huge fingers. He was trying his best as to not break it in half. “Ooo! They’re still warm!” he comments before taking a small bite out of it.

Matchsticks took in a deep breath and smiles taking his own cookie as well. “They smell great! Next time you visit them, tell them I said thank you Clover.”

“Will do!” Clover replies back.

Quarters picked up his own cookie and inspects in with a critical gaze in one second. He however spent that other second shoving the whole thing down his mouth. He munched in silence and eyes the frog-themed plate again. He points down to it, “…. can I get another one?” he asks in a gruff voice.

“Nope!” Clover quickly says. “One cookie per each member of the Felt! That’s what I promised! And I intended to keep my word too (Y/N)!” Clover turned around and marched away. Waving one hand in the air in goodbye. “See you lads!”

“See yeah Clover!” Cans shouted once more, waving to him with great ferocity.

Matchsticks nibbles more on his cookie and mumbles out a “G’bye Clover”. But also trying to make sure no cookie bits fell out of his mouth.

“See ya around runt.” Is all Quarters said as he puffed out his chest and rolled his shoulders back. His back made a series of popping sounds. “Alright you mooks! Let’s do a final quick round-about and make sure none of those ugly fuckers are still lingering around the manor!”

Meanwhile Itchy was stewing in his own negative bubble because he knew that Clover was giving him the cold shoulder. “Hey, don’t I get to have my cookie? I wasted three hours of my precious time. Don’t I get something out of it?” he says in a snarky voice.

Before Clover got any closer to the front steps of the Manor. Lucky 4 made sure to toss Itchy his cookie over his shoulder. That cookie went flying in the air and it landed perfectly in Itchy’s awaiting hands. Not a single part of it fell apart.

Number 1 watched as Clover opened the door to their home and walked inside without another word.

Cans eyes Itchy as he munches on the rest of his cookie. “Mm…what do to make him so pissed off?”

Itchy glares at him and shoved his own cookie into his mouth. He chews and munches down hard on it. It was really good and still warm. Despite Clover taking his sweet time chatting up with (Y/N). But with all of its sweetness, it could never cover up the taste of bitter guilt that found its way into his mouth.

Itchy swallows his cookie down and wipes his mouth with a wipe of his sleeve. “None of your bees wax! You big…big lug head!” he shouted in anger.

“HA!” Quarters cackles out loud, he was lifting up his gatling gun now. “Big lug head? What? Are you running out of insults now you little fucker?” he said with a hearty shout. He leans, mean, green fighting machine laughs again at his words. “Get it? Running out? That’s fucking funny!”

Cans looks like he was processing what Quarters said before laughing along side him. “Haha! I get it! Because Itchy is fast and he was slow to insult me?”

Even Matchsticks started to snicker under his breath now.

Itchy shake and his face started to turn red in embarrassment. He flips number 14 off with both hands. “Fuck you Quarters!” Itchy shouted. “Why don’t you go play with your stupid coin collection you nut?!” Itchy mumbles out a string of insults under his breath and stalks off towards the manor.

Both Cans, Matchsticks, and Quarters just looked at each other before shaking off Itchy’s lame comeback. Usually the bastard had a very colorful imagination when insulting others. But hey? Why should it matter if Itchy was trying to piss off everyone else? They had to back to cleaning out the manor’s perimeter from the walking dead.

Itchy shoves the manor’s doors open and slams it shut with a huff.

He didn’t have to take this! He didn’t have to feel guilty! He didn’t have to apologize or explain himself to anyone!

Not Clover, not his teammates and definite not to (Y/N)! He did nothing wrong! He was the prefect house guest! He didn’t even call (Y/N) a mean name (in person)! If anyone was to blame it was (Y/N) for being so damn awkward around Clover and him! Can’t Clover see that Itchy was just trying to warn him? What does his friend even see in their neighbor anyway? If they are so content about being alone then Clover should just drop his whole quest for friendship and get on with life!

Itchy looks around the spacious grand hallway and the large staircase leading up to the second floor. He turns around and faces himself in the mirror that was placed on the wall just above the house’s telephone. He looked at his face. He looks angry. He looks upset.

He looks pathetic.

He sucked in some air through his teeth and shoved his hands into his pants pockets.

Forget about it… he thought. He looked at his left wrist and checked the time. It was starting to get into the later part of the afternoon. Maybe I’ll just take a drive in my car? He thought to himself once more.

Maybe go bar crawling with some of the boys later on in the night will do me good?

Yeah…YEAH. A long night filled with booze and sexy people? Now THAT would make him feel better! How long has it been since he and some of the other members decided to drink at one of the old bars in the City? A really looooooong time. Probably old enough that maybe even Trace could barely even see their past trails.

Speaking of Trace…maybe he should start there? And where Trace will be Fin would be there also.

Itchy ran through the house with terrifying speed and a devilish look in his eyes.

OFF TO THE GAME ROOM!

Chapter Text

Fin steady's his hand around the pool cue and focuses on the ball in front of him. When he feels confident enough in himself, he pulls the stick as far back as he wanted it to go—the number 6 ball shoots across the table and ricochets against the number 8 ball. Which then moves to hit against the number 2 ball; which in turn in a chain of reaction, ends up having all three of the spheres roll themselves straight into a hole on the left corner of the pool table.

Fin gives a hearty laugh to this and proudly shows off his pearly white—sharp teeth. “Hey, did you see that Trace?! I just hit all three of those balls into a hole! And I didn’t even use my powers to cheat!”

Trace laughs along beside him and places a hand on the middle of Fin’s back. “That’s great Fin!” Trace says. He then walks closer to his boyfriend so that he was now hugging him from behind. Trace snakes his arms over Fin’s broad shoulders and leans his face closer to his lover head; to whisper softly into his ear.

“I’m so proud of you~! Maybe someday you’ll beat me and my high score?” He teases out before leaving a kiss on Fin’s right cheek.

Fin’s face grew a darker shade of red, and his grip on the pool cue becomes loose enough that it ends up clattering against the table. The man in the orange hat gives his lover a silly look, followed by another round of laughter. He reaches out with both of his hand to hold onto Trace's. He brings Trace's hands closer to his mouth and kisses them. He started off with Trace’s right hand, “You’re such a tease…” he says. Fin turns his head and kisses Trace’s left hand now, “…do you know what you do to me?” he finishes.

Trace blushes harder and snuggles his face closer into the crook of Fin’s neck. Fin could feel Trace’s smile against his skin, it tickles. Trace starts to mumble out something, “I’m sorry! I just can’t help it Finny! You look so gosh darn cute when you smile!”

Fin starts to sputter like a lawn mower that won’t work. He tries to quickly cover his mouth with one hand. “HaAHA—Trace stop! Stop mumblin’! I’m ticklish there!” his voice starts to crack and fluctuate into a higher volume. “S—stop HAHA! Someone could hear us!”

Fin grips onto Trace's hands tightly now, as he begins to lean from side to side. As if he was performing some sort of silly dance routine with his partner. But Trace continues his relentless attack on Fin’s neck…by blowing raspberries onto it. This only makes Fin laugh harder, “HAHAHA TRACE! GROSS! AAAH—”

Trace giggles as he pull’s himself out of Fin’s grip and hops off his back. Only to twirl the shorter man around, face-to-face, and holds his boyfriend’s face in his hands.

Fin smiles up at Trace with pinpricks of tears at the edge of his eyes. “What are you looking at Trace?” he asks in a curious manner.

“I just want to take a good—long look at that beautiful face of yours!” Trace responds back with a smoldering look in his eyes.

Trace notices a stray tear that has found its way down from Fin’s left eye and was currently trying to roll down his cheek. Trace makes sure to wipe it way with his right thumb. Which then leads to Fin leaning in more into Trace’s right hand.

“I love you so much” Fin utters out in a hushed voice.

Trace steers Fin’s face closer to his. A dazed look sparkling in his eyes, he was smiling and holding on tight to the other.

They both stare longingly into each other's eyes.

“I love you too” Trace passionately says.

They were only inches apart from locking their lips against each other in a heated passion.

But unfortunately, time is a cruel mistress where in that very passing second, someone decided it was a great time to slam the Game Room’s door wide open with a loud BANG!

“EYYYYY! WHATS UP FUCKERS?! I’M BAAAAAAACK!!”

Both Trace and Fin snap their heads towards the door. They pull their lips back in disgust; revealing a series of serrated teeth. Followed by a loud groan of displeasure from the two of them.

There, standing proudly at the door, the light from the Game Room basking him in a soft glow. He’s grinning at them with all of his bastardous glory. It was…

ITCHY.

Fin looks up to Itchy and scoffs at him. “What the fuck Itchy!” he screeches out in anger.

“Me and Trace are in the middle of somethin’ here!!” He shows emphasis to this by throwing a hand signal towards himself. Who was currently trapped in the arms of a now protective, and also upset, Trace.

Itchy just rolls his eyes at the two men and proceeds to stride further into the Game Room like he owned the place. Not caring over the fact that he just interrupted an intimate moment between the two.

“I just wanted to come in and tell you smooching shmucks that I’m gonna' be planning a bar crawl tonight. You two interested?”

Trace frowns at Itchy and shakes his head at him. “Why would we want to do that Itchy? We already have a wide selection of liquor in the manor’s basement!”

Itchy pulls Trace closer to him, which in turn, makes Fin nearly trip and fall on himself. Due to the sudden movement and lack of support from Trace.

Trace makes an “Oohf” sound as he was tug away and tries his best to hold on to Fin. In hopes that he could pull him back up with him in the process.

Itchy quickly let go of Trace’s trench coat and groans in protest to number 3's words. He whines out to him like a child would, “UUUuuhh—because drinking with your teammates is fun? Plus, the ‘Drinkin’ Twinks’ haven’t gone on a bar crawl together in a LONG TIME!”

Fin squints at Itchy and, very reluctantly, decides to let go of Trace’s hands. The man with the shark-like overbite starts off with a huff. “Wait—hold on. Who the hell are the ‘Drinkin’ Twinks’?” he asks Itchy with a confused look on his face.

Itchy looks surprised by this and moves his mouth like a fish out of water. He looks at Fin and Trace and then sweeps his hands towards them and himself. “Excuse me? Who? Who are the Drinkin’ Twinks’?? It’s us chucklenuts! Me, you, Trace, Doze, Die, and Clover!”

Trace gives a deadpanned look to Itchy. He’s so done with him, and at this point in his life he doesn’t ever want to know what could be going on through his mind.

Fin looks even more confused than before, “When did we EVER agree to that name?! If anything, I think I’m a cub! And Trace is an otter!” he screeches out in objection.

Trace looks at Fin. He just can’t believe what he was hearing coming out of his partner’s mouth.

You might know what kind of look Trace would be making. It’s the kind that you make when you hear something you can’t or won’t believe. And you just stare at someone intensely and feel a good portion of your face pull back into itself in shock. Cause you legit don’t know what they are saying—and at this point your too scared to ask.

Itchy takes a moment to quickly pause and think hard about something. He starts to tap his chin in rapid succession, “Although...I think we might need to cut Clover out of this one for tonight boys. He’s just doesn’t seem to be in the right mood as of today.”

Trace looks back over to Itchy and fold’s his arms against his chest.

''Oooh-uoh. He fuckin' knows'.   Itchy thought to himself. He tries to smile harder at Trace, to see if that alone could stop the man from saying those words. But in the end, he knew it was only a matter of time before people started asking questions.

“What did you say to Clover?” Trace inquired from the yellow hatted bastard, with a tense look in his eyes. It was strange how every time Mister Three asked a question from another person. No matter how simple the question itself was, he always sounded like some sort of private eye, trying to get someone to squeal on how things went down during a crime scene.

Fortunately Trace had the maturity to understand that he wasn't playing a games with Itchy right now. However, unfortunately for him...Itchy always thought every second of his life with others was a game onto itself. 

Itchy places a hand over his chest where his heart was. He faked a deep gasp, “Moi? Say something BAD to SOMEONE? And to sweet, innocent, little Clover of all people? I would NEVER!” he dramatically tells the man in front of him. 

Fin puffs out an exhale of air from his nose, unlike his boyfriend, the shark-like man had little patience for little shits who purposely avoid answering questions.

“Bullshit!" he exclaimed. "Clover came in here just ten minutes ago handing out cookies to us! He didn’t have to say it—but it was clear on the way he kept the conversation real short with us; that something went down! So, I’m not going to ask you again Itchy. What. Did. YOU. DO?

Itchy grumbles to this sudden accusatory behavior from Mister Five. What right did this orange looking fucker had in demanding these kinds of questions out of him? All he was asking for was if they wanted to go out drinking for the night with him. Why do they gotta bring up shit that doesn't even matter? Especially with what he does with other people?

“Look all you need to know is that Clover is just a little bit butthurt! It’ll be alright! It’ll all blow over soon and he’ll be his usual bubbly self in no time flat!” Itchy says trying to downplay what really happened between him and Mister Four. Hoping that short explanation alone would ease the minds of the two very nosy-pool sharks.

Trace and Fin looked over to each other in a quick side-glance. They silently agreed to the fact that they don’t believe a single word that came out of the mouth of the slimy, yellow-bellied, snake named Itchy. 

Explain. Or were not going to join you in your bar crawl tonight.” Trace says outright in a very blunt manner.

“REALLY?!” Itchy flings his hands towards him in exasperation. “You’re really gonna make me tell you guys? Come on?! When did you both suddenly start caring about what goes down in Clover’s life?”

Trace and Fin just stare at him in silence. Their looks were starting to grow darker now…more unnerving like. The kind of look that a cat would give, just seconds away from swatting an annoying bug from bothering their peaceful respite.

When they noticed that Itchy refused to budge from his spot. Probably trying to wait them out on their bluff. They decided to start activating their powers to get the answers they were seeking. 

Trails of orange and red swirled around them—Its origin unknown, then the fog started to seep out of their eyes and spread further down their faces and onto the scuffed floor. And the lights in the Game Room started to flicker on and off. As if something was causing it to short circuit.

Itchy slowly starts to back away from the two, his usually calm disposition soon-after slipped into one of great worry. He looks wildly at how significantly the small Game Room yielded to the effects of the two hunter’s powers. Itchy takes in a sharp intake and talks through gritted teeth. “God, I hate it when you two start doing that…”

As the lights start to turn off in much longer second-periods. Itchy notices how Trace’s normally sea green eyes started to bleed and change into a glowing pair of swirling crimson red. And Fin’s moss-colored eyes, so mesmerizing, were now glowing a toxic—florescent orange.

The speedster knew well enough, that when his team-mates started to shift into this part of their powers; things tend to get real nasty. From the dark colored stains that he remembered of either Trace or Fin, or both of the men, would come back to the Felt after encountering a run-in. Itchy made a noise in the back of his throat. The kind one would make when noticing an encroaching danger, something you know will hurt you, was heading your way. 

He starts to backup away from the two men. FASTER. Towards the only doorway to the Game Room. He's afraid.

But for every step taken back by Itchy, the two men proceed to take a couple steps forward towards him. He's very afraid.

When Itchy feels the hard wood of the door pushed up against his back. He immediately turns himself around and tries to swing to the door open. But the door refuses to unlock itself for him. It keeps making a clinking noise, over and over again, every time he tries to tug it open.

“Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck. WHY WONT THIS STUPID DOOR OPEN?!” Itchy shrieks out in terror. He can feel Trace and Fin’s shadow’s start to loom over him. A chill runs down Itchy’s spine, he quickly snaps himself back around, and pulls his hands up in front of him. Trying desperately, anything really, to make a barrier between himself and them.

“ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!” he shouted, “I’ll spill the beans! Just PLEASE cut the creepy shit out already!!”

Trace and Fin refuse to relent and up the ante on their intimidation over Itchy. They drop the illusion spell that was cast upon them. And in the flickering light, it revealed their green tinted skin and animalistic features. Gills like living gashes on their necks-sucked the air around them in shallow intakes, their fingers were tipped with sharp claws that could tear easily into flesh. And their height changed to where Trace was revealed to be far more lankier and hallow looking than he was before. And Fin, he looked like a terrifying, human-sized JAWS that could walk on two legs. Mouth opened far to wide, something a human could never be able to do, showing off rows and rows of sharp teeth.

They both growled and hissed, bearing their fangs and stretching out their sharp-webbed hands at him like creatures that have emerged from the darkest depths of the ocean.

Itchy shouts closing his eyes in fear. “OKAY! OKAY! I TOLD CLOVER THAT I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT THE NEIGHBOR!”

“I TOLD HIM THAT IT WAS JUST A WASTE OF TIME TRYING TO BEFRIEND THEM! AND COULD YOU REALLY BLAME ME FOR JUST TELLING HIM THE TRUTH?! (Y/N) DOESN’T EVEN LIKE TO BE TOUCHED AND THEY HAVE SOME KIND OF SERIOUS EMOTIONAL ISSUES! CLOVER IS JUST TOO LOVESTRUCK TO SEE THAT HE’S GOING NOWHERE WITH THIS! NOW HE’S JUST GIVING ME THE COLD-SHOULDER! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED ME TO TELL YOU GUYS?! HUH?! THAT I’M THE ASSHOLE?! THEN YEAH! I’M THE ASS IN THIS STORY! JUST STOP ALREADY!!”

A minute passed by and no noise was made between the three men. 

Itchy slowly opens one of his eyes, the lights are back on in the Game Room. Fin and Trace have reverted back in their human forms, and they were looking at him in great disappointment. Itchy frowns at this, he just got bamboozled by the two men and he fell for it like the sucker he is. He was also starting to have a sudden suspicion that it could have been a collaborative effort between the two, to somehow have the door to the Game Room be purposely stuck at this convenient time. Whether it was Trace or Fin messing with the timeline by getting involved in his trail or just by sheer circumstances.

Itchy has been definitely duped into telling how much of a shitty person he was to his friend. Which was not even an hour ago.

“Geez Itchy you told Clover all that?” Fin says deciding to cut through the silence.

Trace sighs and rubs his chin. He sneers in disgust at Itchy, “That’s just stone-cold man…”

Itchy glares at the two and adjusts his hard hat on his head and smooths out his wrinkled suit. “Yeah and? What about it? I’m always rude to people and always tossin’ in my own two cents on nearly everything this group does! So, what makes this any different, huh?”

“Because Clover is legitimately happy about meeting someone new in his life? Someone not us. And that maybe, as his friend you should give him some proper pointers on how to approach a person like (Y/N)?” Trace says.

Fin agrees with Trace, “Yeah dude, Clover is like freakin’ close to you. Besides, you’ve just met (Y/N) right? You were so pumped about seeing them just last week! You even got Clover all excited too when you told him that you believed in him an’ all. What’s going on with all that?”

Itchy starts to get more defensive, and snarls at Fin as well as wagging a finger at him, “Heyeheyhey! Now hold on second there shark-week! I didn’t promise anything to Clover. I just said that I believed in him, but I was ALSO ify about the whole thing from the start! SO—technically I didn’t lie to Clover. I just—”

Trace interrupts Itchy’s raving with great distaste laced in his voice, “—told him what he wanted to hear?”

Itchy shrugs to Trace’s choice of words and makes an “eeeeehh?” sound. Followed by a “so-so” gesture with his right hand.

Fin shakes his head at Itchy and grimaces at him, “You disgust me’h”.

Itchy tsks at Fin and crosses his arms against his chest. He looks away, only to give a side-glance at the man in the orange hat. “Oh yeah? You and the rest of this stinking pile of garbage that calls itself a “self-made” group of mobsters! What the hell you expecting from me? Tell Clover that he’ll do great next time?”

The ass in the yellow hat proceeds to do a solo act with himself where he imitates that he is talking to an imaginary Clover. He does this by half-way crouching down and talking to the open air in front of him. Except when he talks to the space in front of him, it’s in a mocking baby-voice.

“Aww it oh’kay wittle Cwover! I’m sowwy that I insulted (Y/N) in frownt of you!” He started off before suddenly breaking out in a loud angry shout. “I JUST COULDN’T STOP LOOKING PAST THEIR OBNOXIOUSLY NORMAL NATURE TO SEE THEIR INNER “SPARKLING” PERSONALITY THAT YOU SEE IN THEM EVERY TIME THEY MOVE PAST YOU!”

Trace, although concerned about Itchy’s need to express his hidden rage, becomes confused. “Waaaaait—" he says his voice becoming slightly high-pitched. He puts two of his hands together into a prayer like motion and points it over to Number 1. “You don’t like (Y/N) because of their potential emotional issues? AND because you think that they are too “normal” for you??”

Itchy responds back quickly to Trace’s question “Uhh yeah? No duh! They are so “normal” and bland they even give grocery sliced bread a run for its money! If you walked into their home, made some small talk, and baked cookies with them for nearly three hours like I did. THEN, you would understand why I feel so strongly about my position towards “perfect-little-broken” (Y/N).”

Fin becomes legitimately further confused by Itchy’s explanation. How could someone be so pretentious as to just not like someone because they don’t find them interesting? “I…dude…what??” he says whispering to himself.

Trace begins to rub his face harder now, clearly done with Itchy’s antics. “Okay, were gonna discuss more of this when were out on the pub crawl. I am just not in the right mood nor in the right state of mind to discuss about the concept of “normal” and the idea of “perfection” with you. Just, get out of here. And go find the others Itchy…me and Fin are gonna go change out into something more comfortable for the night.”

Itchy gives a mock salute to him and twirls around to open the NOW  unlocked doorway “I don’t know how likely of a chance I’ll ever explain on what goes on through the inner machinations of my mind. Especially, to a psycho-loser like you of all people! But, you don’t gotta’ tell me twice about leavin’! See ya suckin’-suckers later!” He says before leaving the Game Room in a flash.

-The room is empty except with a now stressed out Trace and a disgruntled-and-silently fuming Fin-

Fin turns his head to look over at Trace and walks closer to him. He places a comforting hand on his lovers’ shoulder.

Trace looks up to Fin with love in his eyes and reaches up with his other hand to hold onto Fin’s.

Fin happily gives a small but reassuring smile to Trace, “You know we don’t have to join Itchy to his stupid bar crawl, right?”

The taller of the two smiles at Fin’s comment, but gives out an exhausted sigh. He rubs the back of Fin’s soft hand between his fingers for comfort. “Yeah, I know. But…I also know how Itchy can get when he’s drunk. Not to mention that he’s also in a really bad mood. Having a drunk Itchy is one thing to handle and having an upset Itchy is a whole other thing onto itself. But to have both kinds of Itchy’s in multiple places? On one night? That’s just a disaster waiting to happen!” he confesses to Fin.

Fin understands Trace’s situation, and he finishes his boyfriend’s train-of-thought. “And if Crowbar finds out that Itchy has started a domino effect of mayhem in the City. You don’t want to end up being the guy who has to explain to him on how these events lead up to that point, huh?”

Trace rubs the side of his own cheek nervously and nods in agreement. “Yep…bingo.”

Fin finds himself sighing once more, mildly annoyed by the recently past events, before deciding to speak up again. “I’ll come with you too. But not for Itchy’s sake, but for yours. Plus, maybe we’ll get to find some answers as to why Itchy has such a sudden vendetta towards Clover an’ our mystery neighbor.”

Trace picks up the Fin’s hand from his shoulder, and gently kisses the top of it. “Thanks, Fin, for always having my back.”

The shark-like man gives a toothy grin. That only grew wider and wider, every time his boyfriend lay a kiss upon the back of his hand. “No problem Trace. Anytime—anywhere. You know I’d go through hell and back for ya’.”

Trace lovingly looks into Fin’s eyes and rubs the back of Fin’s hand onto the side of his face. “I love you.” He says softly to him.

“I love you too.” Fin responds back with just as much love to him.

--

Meanwhile earlier back in (Y/N)’s House

After an hour worth of just laying on your couch with your dog in your lap, you were trying to desperately shed at least one tear for all of the emotions that were building up inside of you. You found it becoming increasingly hard to cry. Which frustrates you even more. You suspect that it could be that your body is so stressed out that maybe, that alone could be the reason why your body refuses to let you experience the full force of sadness. So, you decided that taking a long hot shower would do you good for the night, along with some dinner.

So, (Y/N) decided to go upstairs to their bedroom and took a hot shower for the incoming cold night.

But as they went through the process of stepping in and soaking up in the hot water as it pouring down on them. With all of the comfort of the stress that slowly disappeared from their muscles, the much-needed tears just wouldn’t come out. This makes (Y/N) upset and disappointed in themselves.

You didn’t like to acknowledge the elephant in the room. But now, potentially, two of your neighbors were probably starting to have suspicions that something could be wrong with you. Especially Clover.

Just seeing his eyes filled with worry, makes you feel…horrible. But at the same time, deep down, a tiny part of you was strangely angry at him. Was it because you felt like his reaction was only given out of pity or sympathy? You knew it was wrong to just assume those kinds of things about others. Even your therapist, from before your long-awaited departure from home, they told you that you shouldn’t self-isolate yourself from others. And that not everyone was out to get you.

Especially those who genuinely care about your well being. As little as they come and go in your life, it’s those kinds of people who you remember fondly on lonely days. Experiencing life with them, from small chats, to long nights out at regular hang-outs, always gave you a little hope in the present.

(Y/N) exhales a shaky breath and starts to rub in some shampoo into their hair.

Your current actions onto yourself were self-destructive and toxic to potential relationships. And no matter how much you try to wake up the next day, over and over again, with your winning smile, formal attire and ever so professional behavior. It could not cover up the fact that your starting to feel trapped in a prison of your own making.

You knew in the end, that Clover’s insistent and curious nature towards you was not to blame. He was kind, and jovial, and always willing to lend a hand to help you. His personality was very different from the one’s your normally used to dealing with on a daily basis. Which is demanding, overconfident, and sometimes demeaning. Or perhaps, it’s just that your so caught up in being in the professional world of sales and business. That you’ve forgotten what it’s like to slow down and take notice of people living in the moment?

You wash away any stray shampoo suds that were left running down your hair and face. And decide to put on some hair conditioner afterwards.

But continuing with your thoughts on the matter, you found it ironic, seeing that Clover was man of wealth and power. What did he find so interesting to just stop, and find the time out of his busy day to greet you? You remember him telling you that it was by chance that he came upon your house. That he was taking a stroll through the forest and should luck come upon him. He found you, sitting in your garden, talking to no one but yourself and your dog.

You were thankful that the smaller man wasn’t immediately repelled by your strange behavior on the first day you’ve met. If fact, you remember how happy and how silly he was when he made his first appearance in front of you. His well-dressed self, slightly covered in dirt and grass stains when pushing himself up from the ground after being tackled by your well trained “guard-dog”.

You turn your head and wipe your eyes away from any conditioner suds, to take a peek through your shower curtains. There, waiting at the slightly ajar door that entered into your bathroom was very watchful Silas. He always did this with you every time you took a bath or a shower. Your little dog always followed wherever you went and from his tiny face he always looked concerned that something might go wrong every time you go into the bathroom. ESPECIALLY, when you step into a tub or a shower. You remember those past times when a puppy-sized Silas would whimper and scratch at your bathroom door every time you needed a little bit of privacy to clean yourself up.

So, to spare the future paint on your bathroom door’s, you always made sure to leave enough space so that Silas could stick his head through and check up on your current situation. It was awkward at first but seeing that he was just your dog. You quickly got over the feeling of being watched in the bathroom soon enough.

Content with knowing that your dog was just watching you. You decided to go back to finishing your shower and started to wipe yourself down with soap. You silently thanked your past self for going out to market and stocking up on some basic necessities. You were using a nice brand of soap with something you’ve never tried before in it: cucumber. It had this "soft" kind of scent to it and so far, since you’ve used it on your skin this week—it’s been doing wonders.

Thinking about scents reminded you about something else…

It was embarrassing to say the least, but you found yourself taking in the occasional scent from the two of your guests as they stayed over to bake cookies with you. And to be honest, how could you not stop yourself? You were placed right in the middle, between them. Itchy on your left and Clover on your right; they were both also not afraid to enter into your personal bubble space.

Clover, always charming, smelt fondly of roses and strangely of vanilla. It took you some time to figure out what the second smell that came from him was. At first you thought the smell of vanilla could have came from the cookie ingredients. But soon enough after you leaned towards Clover to check up on his work, stirring in the cookie mixture. The sweet smell of vanilla was wafting from him. Usually men that you meet at your job as a jewelry consultant, always wore some kind of strong musky-like cologne. So, it was a bit of surprise to smell something so gentle and non-powering to come off from him. You didn’t find the time to bring that up to Clover, but maybe if you found the courage to finally come over to his house. You could ask him where did he find such a sweet-scented perfume?

Why’ll Clover smelt like the sweetest flower you’ve ever came across. Itchy was another thing. You don’t think he even wore any cologne or perfume. But he did smell faintly of rich-coffee grounds and tobacco smoke from cigarettes. You didn’t like the smell of nicotine, for obvious reasons, the smell of cigarettes in the air always made it hard for you to breathe. Not only that, but just the smell of tobacco itself brought up memories of your father. Whom of which, you remembered liked to smoke the occasional cigar when he was stressed out about something. Always about work that man was. 

Again, you didn’t find the time to mention any of your sensory observations to your guests. But it was certainly something different from than what you were expecting to come from the two men.

When (Y/N) was finally done wiping themselves down and rinsing their whole body off of soap. They turned their shower off and stepped out onto their tub mat, to dry themselves with a fluffy white towel.

Silas, hearing the water turned off, he shoves whole head into the bathroom and pushes the cracked door open a little bit farther. Just enough for his front-half to be able to fit, and for some of the steam from your bathroom to escape into your bedroom. He peers up to you and makes a soft kind of “boof” sound. He’s probably telling you to hurry up so he can have some dinner, but he refuses to take any step further. This is because the longer he stays in your bathroom the harder he tends to pant from the heat.

And for an old dog like him, he’s trying his best not to kick the bucket anytime soon; for (Y/N)’s sake that is.

“Alright-alright! I’m hurrying up!” you tell him in a mumbling grunt. You wrap the towel around your body and step out into your bedroom to find some clothes to change into. You shiver slightly at the change in temperature as you made your way over to your dresser. Your house was old, and although insulation was added into the walls. It still couldn't stop the cold air from outside from making its presence known.

As you approached your dresser, that was when you noticed a multi-colored pamphlet, laying just on top of the dresser at face-level towards of you. With your left hand keeping your towel wrapped around you in one place, and wiping the other hand down first, you picked up the pamphlet with your right hand. You started to read what was on it. It contained many popular places to visit in Midnight City, from many bars, to a couple casinos, to the city’s park, to many restaurants of different kinds.

Hm…

Maybe that’s what you needed as of tonight? Just some personal time to yourself and no one else. You scan the rest of the small pamphlet and eye at a karaoke bar being mentioned at the end of it. It didn’t have a picture associated with it, like the other popular places mentioned on the beginning of piece of paper. And you thought that maybe that was good thing. You weren't looking to hang out somewhere with too much people. All that was provided about the place was a brief summery about coming in with friends, or just yourself, to sing and have fun at the local business. It was then followed by a telephone number and the address to find it.

Its been a long time since you’ve been to karaoke bar. More or less deciding to sing out loud too. You were pretty sure that you didn’t have that good of a singing voice. But you always had the passion to sing to the occasional tune that came on your car's radio when driving. In the end, you’ve always had a special kind of spot in your heart for music. You loved all kind of genres and your dad taught you from a young age to always appreciate music in all its different forms. From old orchestral pieces to the funkiest jams from the 70’s and 80s. To the party like pop beats of the current time period.

Huh. That was the second time, in a long time, since you’ve thought about your dad. And that last memory was one of the good ones. You glanced down at your little dog who was patiently waiting for you to start moving back downstairs and make some dinner. You give him a small nod in acknowledgement, and turned back to the pamphlet in your hand. You were thankful that your realtor gave this to you, before they left in a hurry after selling the house.

“Silas…” you uttered out in a soft manner as you placed the pamphlet back down on your dresser. “I think I’m going to go out tonight. I’ll go make you some dinner before I leave. You mind manning down the house for me why’ll I’m gone?” you ask him why’ll trying to find something comfortable to go out in.

Silas cocked his head to the side, curious as to what you just asked him. But he happily barked and wagged his tail to you nevertheless, always cheerful to respond back. Because he knew you were the most happiest when he responded back. 

--

Currently back at Felt Manor

“WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA—” Clover wails loudly into his arms and tries to wipe the tears from covering his ruddy red cheeks. “I joehst dahn't get it! Why wooehld Itchy say soehch a mean din to me? About (y/n) no less? Doesn't 'e see dat i'm tryin to make a friend? Dat (y/n) is joehst a persahn wit cahmplicated past!?”

Sawbuck, who is sitting on Clover’s left-side of the table, gently pats the smaller man’s back and pulls out a handkerchief from his right sleeve. He hands it over to his friend. Clover, without looking, quickly takes it from him with stuttering “thank you” and wipes his eyes. Why’ll Can’s, who is sitting on Clover’s right, slides the frog-themed plate over to him. Trying to urge his friend to take the final cookie that was meant for him. But Clover shook his head to this as he blew his nose into Sawbuck’s handkerchief. Clover didn’t feel like eating the last cookie. Because he was still mad at Itchy and was rightfully worried about his friend (y/n).

He crumpled up the hanky in his hands into a ball and tried to hold in his constant assault of sniffling.

Sawbuck, although slightly grossed out by the amount of snot that tears that Clover had placed onto his handkerchief. Gently plucks the ball of fabric from Mister Four’s hands, folds it back up, and placed it into the pocket of his front suit. He decided that he would just clean it up in the laundry room when he was done comforting his friend.

“Well…” Sawbuck says looking up from his chest, “What were you expect to hear from Itchy, Clover? Itchy is a pompous man with a callous covered heart—who cares for no one but himself! He’s belligerent and unnecessarily cruel to others, because he doesn’t want anyone to even think that maybe, just MAYBE, he might be weak.”

Cans nods in agreement to number 10 and puts in his own opinion about what Clover confided to them in private. “Itchy is just use to getting away with things; as well as being emotionally stunted for a grown man. Which is the least of the things I can say about him, because he comes from a very wealthy background and was always been a spoiled little rich boy, even before joining the Felt.”

Sawbuck nods to Can’s commentary and lets Mister Fifteen finish his string of words.

“I don’t understand why you still keep hanging out with him. I get it, that you guys are close, and you two liked to play pranks on the rest of us back in the day—”

Stitch looks up from his knitting to interrupt Cans to momentarily say, “And they still do!”

Can’s rubs the back of his neck and agrees with Stitch “Aaand you still do. BUT that doesn’t mean that you haven’t changed over the years Clover. I and a couple of us have noticed you slowly maturing over the years and I like seeing this kind of growth in you. You run your own couple of businesses, you have different hobbies other than thinking up and writing riddles, hell your even making friends with someone outside of the Felt! And that’s great! Better than any of us ever could have done in a hundred years!”

Clover looks up to Cans and wipes his stuffy nose. “You think I’m doing pretty good for myself?” he asks his tank of a friend softly.

Cans cheerfully brings up his fist and proudly looks down at his best friend. “Absolutely! Most of us in the Felt try to avoid starting relationships with anyone outside of the gang. Or were just end up having a momentary fling with some stranger in Midnight City. But you? I’m proud of you little guy! Your really proud of your friend (y/n). And from what you’ve shared with us, you really do care about them! I just can’t wait for the day when they feel confident and safe enough, that they feel ready to show up at Felt Manor!”

“OOo!” Sawbuck says happily clapping at the thought, “-and maybe they can teach me how to make those delicious cookies they made! They were absolutely scrumptious! I hope dearly that they can come over soon to visit us. Please be sure to tell (y/n) that they have nothing to fear Clover” Sawbuck said. “If anyone is going to have a problem with our neighbor (y/n) visiting, then they’re gonna have to deal with me and Cans!”

Clover gives out a small chuckle at Can’s and Sawbuck’s comforting words. He looks over at Sawbuck and smiles at him, and the rotund man gives a comforting smile right back to Clover. Which is kind of silly looking, seeing that his underbite is comically bigger and sharper than the rest of his teeth.

“Thank you, guys, for taking the time out of your day to listen to me. I feel a little better now that I got all of that off my chest” Clover says to them. He leans forward in his seat to slide (y/n)’s frog-themed plate closer to himself now. Can’s chuckles to this and gentle pat’s Clover’s tiny back with his tips of fingertips.

“It’s no problem at all little buddy! You know me and Sawbuck are always here to lend a shoulder for you to cry on.”

And with that Clover tug’s away at the remaining saran-wrap surrounding the plate and pulls out the remaining cookie. He stops himself half-way before he could take a single bite out from his cookie. Clover looks down at the cookie in his hands silently.

Can’s and Sawbuck look over at Clover expectantly. “Hm…something wrong Clover?” Sawbuck asks him in his deep but nasal-like voice.

Clover shook his head in response and started to rip his chocolate chip cookie into four pieces. Noticing Clover do this to a sweet treat surprises Cans. “Hey, hey! What are you doing Clover? I thought you wanted to eat the cookie. Not destroy it!”

“Who says I’m destroying the cookie?” Clover responds back in a perky manner. “I’m going to share it with the rest of you!”

“Huh?” said the both men. Even Stitch looked up from his knitting to raise a brow to Clover’s sudden generous behavior. Clover gave the biggest piece to Sawbuck, who still looked very shocked. He knew that it was just a piece of a tiny cookie. But he felt like he was going to start balling all over Clover’s act of consideration towards them. But thankfully, Sawbuck controlled himself and just tilted his head backwards to keep the tears from falling. He was sniffling now, “T..thank-you Clover that is very sweet of you!” He says before plopping the cookie into his mouth.

When Clover leaned over to where Can’s was to plop the second bigger piece into his friend's awaiting hands. Cans looked genuinely surprised and shook his head at Clover. He gently shoved his large hands back towards Clover with small pinpricks of tears forming at the edge of his eyes. “I…I can’t accept this Clover. This is your cookie. You’ve been passing out the rest of these to all of the gang for an entire hour! All I ever did was just listen to you. Besides, I already had my own cookie! Its just not right!”

Clover looks up to Can’s with love in his eyes and fold’s Mister Fifteen’s hands into a cupped grip. So that they were now gently concealing his piece of cookie within it.

“I’m happy that you listened to me Cans. So, hear me out again, right now. I want you to have my piece of the cookie. No more complaining from you big lug! Your too modest for yer' own good. So, eat up!”

Can’s nods to this, and brings his hands up to slide the cookie into his mouth. It was very small in size compared to him. But then again, nearly everything was small to a giant like him. There was just something about that tiny cookie that just made him feel happy inside. It was in these rare private moments with Clover that he liked most. Because why’ll a good portion of the Felt were used to seeing Clover for the child-like punk he was. He knew deep down that Clover was incredibly charming and was a very good spirited person to others around him.

Clover was going to get off of his seat to walk over to were Stitch was. But the old man made sure of it to stop the smaller man from leaving his position. As well as, making any further movements towards him.

“Ah-ah-ah! No, you don’t you little smut munchkin!” Number nine said huff. “I don’t want you to be trailing in anymore cookie crumbs into my boutique! I already had to deal with you crying yer’ face off in here and endured enough yabering from the three of ya’! So just sit right there, and silently eat the rest of yer’ cookie.”

And with that Stitch turned back to his knitting and grumbled out something else underneath his breath. Clover couldn’t hear all of it, but he thinks that Stitch was saying how: (y/n) worked hard to make those cookies for them and that he should appreciate their hard work. Cause they were good cookies.

This made Clover smile even more than before. Stitch didn’t show it very often, but the crotchy looking man had a real soft spot for others. And just like him Stitch had a enormous sweet tooth.

Clover sat himself back into a comfortable position in his cushioned seat and munched down on the two remaining pieces of cookie in his hands. It wasn’t as warm as it was a awhile ago, but it was still sweet and chewy tasting. He could also taste the richness from the butter too. He liked it when chocolate chip cookies came out right. Maybe he should think of making something as special and sweet like this; to surprise (y/n)?

--

When (y/n) finally made it to the karaoke bar they weren’t surprised when they were greeted to the sight of it. Which wasn’t much to say the least from an outside perspective. Its placement was underground, underneath some nameless office building. In the middle-south part of Midnight City. And the only sign that gave off the name of the establishment. Was an old flickering pink and purple fluorescent sign that was stuck on the wall just out above were the stairs lead down into the bar.

“Smoochies”

The name flashed out into the dark of night.

You took in a deep breath and looked to your left and right. No one else seems to be around and despite this establishment being on the pamphlet for places to see in Midnight City. It looks very barren for a Friday night out in the City. Where were all the people?

‘Maybe it’s just a slow business day?’ you thought to yourself. You look down at your attire and seemed satisfied that you did the best that you could for an impromptu decision to go out.

You were wearing a thin but comfortably loose salmon-pink blouse with white stripes. It also had two semi-long strips of cloth near the middle of it, that when knotted into a cute bow, it hugged the side of your waist nicely so as to not let it slip any further up your chest. You were also wearing skinny jeans and your favorite pair of brown boots, that were a bit scuffed up over time, but you found that it helped with achieving the look you wanted. Not too formal, not too lazy, just perfect enough to go out to get a single drink and something to eat in for the night.

You took out a long exhale of air before steadying your breath. 1…2….3….4 you silently told yourself. You were just going to go in, get a drink, eat something small, and go home.

Being brave wasn’t an easy thing, especially when your too afraid of socially interact with other people outside of work.

But (y/n) sticks up for themselves in that very moment and decides to walk towards the stairs in a confident stride. 'It's your night out and your going to do this' you chant in your mind.

As (Y/N) made their way, they slowed down, due to also noticing a group of four men. Who were dressed in suits and hats, and were also making their way towards the bar as well. They seemed to have come from one of the many street corners ahead of you. 'Probably trying to find a good place to park before making their sudden appearance' you thought to yourself.

They didn’t seem to notice you either, as they were the first ones to go down the stairs and past “Smoochies” front door. The much larger one out of all of them, had to lean his head downward slightly, as he’s height and possibly also his girth alone nearly filled up the whole space between were the entrance started and where the stairs ended. You heard one of the men, who had a particular grating-like screech to his voice, call out the larger fellow for blocking up the whole place. And that he’ll have to be the last one to go through the door because of it.

You silently waited at the top of the stairs and gave a pitiful frown to the larger man. It wasn’t his fault that he was just naturally huge. But thankfully you noticed that the giant didn’t seem to be too bothered by his compatriot’s off-handed comment. He just let the three of them go through as he opened the door for them.

You again, patiently waited on top of the stairs to let the lofty fellow go through the door. Believing that it was the best you could do for him in the moment. 

And he nearly did step on through, before he suddenly stopped in his tracks…and to turned his head to look up towards you. You saw his face a little better now, with the fluorescent lights from the sign overhead washing over you. He had round, scruffy, kind of appearance and had very thick eyebrows. He also had some serious sideburns that styled and met the side of his face nicely.

He was just silently looking up to you in amazement, and although you kept your composure, and looked down at him with a curious look in your eye. You didn’t think much of it other than maybe he must have been slightly in shock to notice that there was “suddenly” someone waiting for him at the top of the stairs.

You would have understood his need to be surprise, that kind of stuff alone in horror movies, scared you enough to pause and take a moment to breathe.

The large man decides to be the one to break the silence between the two of you. “Uuhh—would you like to come inside?” he says softening his baritone voice, as if being careful not to scare you.

(Y/N) nodded and walked down the stair’s steps gingerly, careful not to make too much of a sound. It was a particular thing you always did. You didn't like the loud echoing noise that came from footsteps down stairs. But now that you were standing in front of the man, you were presented with the knowledge that you were incredibly small when compared to him. You slowly look up to him in astonishment, eyes wide, and mouth slightly open, he must have been nearly seven feet tall!

The giant continues to look down at you with wide brown eyes and stepped back as far as his body would let him to give you space. He gestures towards the open door. “Would you like to go in first?” he asked.

You nod back to him and give out a soft “thank you” before stepping into the light. He follows soon after, and you both make your way down the hall and into the bar’s front desk room.

The group of men from before, were already standing there, back faced towards you. But as the sound of you and the tombstone of a man approached. A lanky man in the group with an…eyepatch, closer to your height, turns around quickly and glares at the giant behind you. He doesn’t seem to take notice of your presence as he places his hands on his hips and starts talk down to the behemoth. The two other men, behind the grating-voiced one, do the same as well, and take greater notice of the mountain behind you.

“Boxcars! What the hell were you doing back there?” the man with eyepatch says. “Me and the boys just got our room for the night, what could you be so busy as to take your sweet fucaaaaa…oh.”

He finally takes notice of you and so do the other two men beside him.

You, however, choose to remain calm and interlocked your hands together in front of you. You liked to see yourself as a patient person, and unfortunately for all of that patience alone, it ended up biting back at you in the rear. Where you would sometimes choke-up and remain silent in front of others. Because you just couldn't find the right words to say to them in moment.

Thankfully the man behind you, named “Boxcars”, decides to speak up. He starts off with a loud-but-covered up cough and followed it with a nervous chuckle towards the eyepatch man.

“Hehe…sorry Slick. I just got caught up in opening the door for this pretty lady here.”

Hearing this makes you blink rapidly three times and you try to disregard the light blush that was trying to form on your cheeks. You let Boxcar’s continue with his explanation.

“I didn’t notice that they were there up on the stairs, just patiently wait for us bumbling boobs to get into Smoochies. I didn’t notice them until the very last minute when I caught them hanging out at the edge of my eye. Nearly missed them I did. Sorry if I got distracted you guys.”

The one named “Slick” looked over to you with all slack jawed and curious. He was a skinny—hairy looking man to say the least. But you spared a glance over to him, which earned yourself a toothy grin in return. A small puff of air came from your nose and you ultimately decided that it was about time that you stopped being a nameless bystander. In someone's story and you walked past him without another word.

After all, seeing as this was your first night out in Midnight City. You wanted to make most of your time tonight. So, you made your way up to the front desk to make your reservation at the bar.

The two other men, a smaller-chubby looking one and a taller sharp-but-intimidating looking one, both silently stepped out of your way.

The older man at the front desk greets you and asks how he can help you. You ask if you could make a reservation at…you sigh. “Smoochies” you say softly—which earned a few snickers from behind you. You refused to look back and see who did that, and continued on with your quest for a little bit of “me-time”.

“Certainty sir, would you like me find you a seat in our public karaoke room? Or would you like to have me find you a private room for you?” the front desk man asked.

“I would like to have a private room to myself please.” You asked him kindly. The front desk man nodded to this and typed away at the screen in front of him. He clicks his tongue in response and looks back over to you, “You are very lucky mister, we only have four private rooms and almost all of them were booked for tonight. But I just found out, one of them has recently opened up due to a customer not showing up to bar on time.”

He gives you a laminated card with the room’s number in the top middle of it. It also has a small riddle underneath the number too. Strange.

4

You might get to me by airplane
Or if you will by boat
As I am surrounded by water
But I am most certainly not a castle with a moat

What am I?

“That’ll be twenty dollars for the first hour sir. Also, one of our waiters and/or waitresses will get to you soon enough.” Says the man. You hum in response looking at the card in your hand and twirl it around before reaching for your wallet in your left pocket to pay for the fee.

The man gladly takes your money and gestures to his right. “Thank you, sir! The rooms will be on your left hall here. If you need to use the bathrooms, they’ll be on your right side, down the down this hall here! Enjoy your time as Smoochies!” he cheerfully tells you.

Before you could make your way over to the where the private rooms were, the shortest man in the group surprised you by suddenly appearing in your way. He looked very giddy and smiles brightly up at you, “Hey! Were in room number 3! Right across from number 4! How lucky is that? Maybe you can join us to sing some karaoke later on huh?”

You pause for a moment to comprehend at the portly fellow’s question. “Ah, I’m sorry sir…I’m just planning to spend the night to myself. Thank you for the offer though.” You say as you steered around him and walked away in silence.

As you walked away, Deuce makes a sad “aww” sound and looks down at his feet. And as Slick just watches you as you go with wide eyes.

 He says finally says out loud, to the group, “Who the hell is that dame?”

“I don’t know, but whoever she is…they’re really pretty Slick. I got lost in their eyes when they were starin’ at me from top of the stairs. Those florescent lights made them look like some sort of angel.” Boxcars said.

“I think he’s just a really handsome looking guy." says Deuce nonchalantly. "Plus, I wanna sing ABBA with someone tonight” .

“Let’s not assume anyone’s gender yet.” Said Droog, before walking over to the hallway where the rooms were held in. “If I learned anything from my daughter Aradia, you gotta be respectful and use they and them pronouns on someone before they tell you personally about how they want to be referred to as.”

Deuce responds back with a quick “Okie dokie!” and quickly trots over to follow behind Droog.

Slick just shrugs his shoulders but silently agrees to what Droog said. He still doesn’t quite understand the concept of nonbinary gender yet. But he accepted it nevertheless and was trying to learn how to get with the times. He takes off his hat and pulls back his dark hair and follows the other two down the hall as well.

Boxcar’s follows as well, but strays behind slightly, lost in thought and couldn’t help thinking about the stranger he just met. In the end, if he ever got the chance to speak to them again. He would happily change the pronouns he once thought of them as if they asked him too.

Which also led to him to reflect on other things as well…

He noticed that he changed significantly from many, many years ago. He was very closeted about himself being possibly interested in people of the same gender. And could never bring himself to tell the rest of the Midnight Crew this part of himself that he was so ashamed of. He tried covering up his frustrations with his already aggressive and angry behavior. And took up randomly, on certain nights to hang out in secret gay speakeasy’s scattered across Midnight City

He felt like he was going to always be hiding in the dark from his friends. Till Deuce finally came out as bisexual to the group during the height of the 40s. And needless to say, from there on out, it was a wild ride seeing all of them stumble over each other and admit that they all were hiding their sexuality from one other. So far Droog seem to be still questioning about his sexuality. And despite himself appearing as the straightest man in the world. He was no stranger to inviting the company of other men into his home. Because the last time he visited Droog, boxcars remembered seeing him going out on a date with an equally sharp dressed man. Apparently, they both met each other at a charity gala were Droog was invited to look over at some jewelry that was for auction.

But Boxcars was pretty sure that Droog’s relationship with the handsome man was over for some time now. Because like with every relationship with Diamond Droog, it never lasts long with that guy. As for Slick however…Boxcars could never put a finger on where Slick stood with his sexuality.

Cause back in the day he was a real womanizer and although it took him time to accept that nearly all of his teammates had an interest in men. Boxcars believed that after Slick started accept that part of his life and tried his best to understand his friends more. Slick seemed to cut back more on exerting his overly "manly" personality. As years went by, Boxcars took notice that Slick wasn’t cat calling girls like he used too. And every time a good-looking guy walked past them; he took note on how embarrassed Slick would look when he was caught staring. A lot of silent thinking washed over Slick over those passing years. It was strange to see a guy who was known to run his mouth become so silent at times.

Maybe this sudden change in Slick’s perception of his own sexuality and personality could have also been from his long-time relationship with Ms. Paint? Whom of which Boxcars knew was a trans women. Who was also at the time when they first met Slick, was very interested in the leader of the Midnight Crew. And when Slick finally found out about Ms. Paint, his love for her didn’t change one bit.

So, when Ms. Paint finally made the decision for herself to go on with their next stage in their transition in the late 1980’s. Slick was happy enough to pay for her surgery and any other medical treatments needed for her to live the life she always wanted to have.

In the end, like with a lot of relationships, the love seemed to burn out between the two. And one day, Slick and Ms. Paint both silently agreed to break up with each other and go their separate ways. Boxcar’s knew that break up hurt Slick very personally, but he also knew that Slick understood why he and Ms. Paint had to made that decision in the end.

Thankfully they still kept in contact with each other afterwards. And were still close friends and co-parents to Slick’s adoptive son Karkat.

Boxcars finally made it at the door with the number 3 on it, and through the window peering in. He saw the “Pink-Circus” themed room and how Slick was grumpily slumped down in the couch’s fluffy cushions. Why’ll Deuce danced around him lifting up the obnoxiously large karaoke book that contained the many numeral listings of all the songs they had in their system. Boxcars turned around to stare at the door behind him. The door with the number 4 on it. And through its window he saw the sitting form of the stranger comfortably laying down on the couch in the “Island-beach” themed room. Karaoke book in hand.

Boxcars smiled to this and turned back to open the door to his room.

Whoever that person was, that he fatefully locked eyes with, up on Smoochies’ stairs. He thought they were the most beautiful person he ever saw. And as cheesy as it sounds, he thought their eyes sparkled like polished jewels when the light hit them just right.

This thought made him chuckle to himself.

Droog to rub at his favorite ruby ring and eyed his friend from the right-end of the couch. “What do you find so funny chuckle-head?” he says to him in his notable Russian accent.

Boxcars waves him off with a smile and walks over to the couch to plop himself down in the middle of it. “I’m just thinking about how corny I can get with it comes to romance.” He tells his friend.

Droog hums in agreement to him and eyes how Deuce is trying to set up the karaoke machine now.

“You are as silly as they come giant. Both in sense style and in romantic taste. But like my father used to tell me; Lyubof' - kak veter: eyo nel'zya uvidet', no ty eyo chustvuyesh.”

Boxcars turns to look at him with a confused look on his face. “And what does that mean?”

Droog just shrugs at him and gets up to help Deuce before his constant messing around with the karaoke machine ends up falling on him. Or worse, somehow blowing up.

But before he got to Deuce, Droog turned around to face Boxcars and replied back to him. “Love is like the wind, you can't see it, but you can feel it.”

Slick just pursed his lips up to this and squints at the both of them and sinks further into the couch. “Can ya two just quit it with the love talk please? I didn’t round you jokers up so we could be talking about what Boxcars’s potential love life is like! Come on! Put the karaoke machine! Once a waiter comes in, I’m buying all of you fuckers a round of drinks!”

This earns a round of wild laughter from everyone in the room. Followed by a pumped Deuce who picks up one of the mics from the table and points it to the now working Tv screen. “ITS TIME TO SING SOME ABBA BOYS! WHO’S UP FOR SOME SINGING?”

Slick gets up from his seat and snatches up his own mic and turns it on. “What the hell, I’m in! Droog—Boxcars get your mic’s too. Don’t leave me and Deuce hanging here!”

With that, Droog and Boxcar’s did as they were asked too and happily made their way over to the table and picked up there mics. And sang their hearts out to one another—because that’s what friends do for each other.

Chapter Text

Trace looks at Itchy with serious gaze, trying to process the information that was given to him. “Okay, okay, so let me run through this ridiculous-list of yours that you have presented to us. ONE more time.”

“UUuaaagh! Are you freakin’ serious man? Can’t you just hop off my dick already and drop this interrogation of yours? I’ve explained it to you all more than a BAZILLION times already!”

Doze takes a slow but steady gulp from his beer. He’s holding onto it with two hands as if worried that it might slip from his grip. After he was done and placed it back down in front of him. He wiped his mouth clean with the back of his hand. “Itchy your first explanation…. was pretty bad. And I can’t help…. but think that your…. hiding something from us.”

Itchy gives an accusatory glare at Doze. “I am NOT hiding anything! I told you guys how it leads up to that point. Start to finish. Everything I talked about, everything I’d seen, and EVERYTHING I said! What more do you want for me?!”

Die didn’t care to look up to Itchy when he decided to toss in his own thoughts on the matter. He was picking at his voodoo doll underneath the table. “Itchy’s right…” he started off in his tiny-whispery voice.

Itchy sits upright in his seat now and snatches at his bottle of beer and points it towards the man in the green turtleneck. “DIE! MY MAN!” Itchy takes a good hard swig from his drink and slams it down on their table. Which makes everyone jump a little in surprised by the force that was made. “See? Someone here believes in me!” Itchy finishes with a cheerful look in his eyes.

“But…” Die says trying to finish what he was going to say.

“NNNNnnnoooooooooo!!” Itchy groans out in disappointment. He sinks farther into his seat and drags his hands down his face and pulled at his eyelids. What did he do to deserve all of this?

Die continues on, eyeing Itchy, “You were leaving out some specific details as to WHY you dislike (Y/N). From what you explained to us so far. Our neighbor just sounds like a person who just prefers their solitude. I can fully understand why they would act so uncomfortable, when being suddenly surrounded by new people…”

Itchy retorted back to Die with a snark. “Pfft—oh course you could emphasize with them. You know, you look like some sort of dark reflection of (Y/N). Where if they did a 180 on their simplistic lifestyle and jumped headfirst into creepy death magic and live in a filthy chicken coop.”

Die snaps his head up and glares deeply at Itchy. He muttered out something to him, but because it was so soft, his words were drowned out by the cheering and the chattering from the bar they were in. In the end Itchy didn’t care to ask him what he said. Because he had a sneaking suspicion that the man in green was most likely telling him that “he would eat his words”.

Die having realized that Itchy and most likely the others did not hear him. Just huffed to himself and decided that he would remain silent for now. Die will make sure to remember this.

Doze looked back at Itchy and then at Die. And then back at Itchy and looked hurt by him. “Itchy, that’s not nice. Please…tell Die that your sorry.”

Itchy takes a sip at his beer and just stares Doze down as he did. Not breaking even a glance after tilting the glass up to his face. “No.” is all he said in a firm reply.

Fin shrugs his shoulders to Itchy’s half-assed response and tosses a fry into his mouth. “It’s not an apology. But at least you got him to say something other than “fuck off” this time.”

Itchy sighed deeply in his seat and leans his head back as far as he could, so that he was looking up at the clean-white ceiling. He really didn’t like how his bar crawl was going. Instead of getting drunk, having fun, and possibly causing a ruckus in the City. All Itchy was doing right now was being berated by his co-worker’s slash friends and sipping on a nearly twenty-five dollars’ worth of a “micro-brew” beer.

Apparently, when Itchy rounded up all of his drinking buddies and promised them a night out into town filled with booze and beautiful people. He wasn’t expecting to end up…here.

In the high-middle class, suburban, part of Midnight City—in a sports-bar no less. Semi-drunk dads, creepy uncles, and college fraternity of brothers as the eye can see. Everything was so…so sportsy. Not that Itchy wasn’t into that, but there was a fine line between being a sports-fan and being a sports-fan.

He and his buddies stood out like a sore thumb covered in an old pink Hello Kitty band aid.

From Trace wearing a bright red and green checkered vest with dark red button-up underneath it. Followed by polished brown leather boots that reached his shins. Then a black bow, and his black rectangular glasses that always slipped to just at the tip of his nose. A little bit too formal for his tastes; and pretty freaking nerdy. But Itchy knew even if he tried, Trace wouldn’t give up looking professional for the occasion. He had a reputation to keep up in Midnight City after all.

Itchy knew that Trace worked as a part-time professor in social philosophy. As well as, a consultant for Midnight City’s police finest detectives. God…could the man who looked like the human version of a sucked out dry Capri-Sun pack get any lamer?

OH, how could Itchy forget?

Fin’s attire?? It was…different to say the least. He decided to come along in “casual wear”. Itchy will give him points for trying to achieve what he was expecting to see; but goodness it was beyond too casual. Cringe worthy to be next to you casual. Because Fin decided to just show up wearing some grey sweatpants, rainbow flip-flops, and a black tank-top with a graphic on it. What appears to be a very badly drawn shark jumping out of the water with wings and a halo. All the why’ll it was holding onto, and shooting, a sub-machine gun at an equally badly drawn surfer. This was just lazy and Itchy knew that Fin was just wearing that to get back at him. But he’ll give him this…that a was a pretty dope looking t-shit.

Then there was Doze. The slowest of them all. The king of Snooze Town. The prince of naps. The pinnacle of proof that mankind was always destined to take a nap. And suddenly awake not knowing what time it is, because they overslept, and found out he had slept for nearly half a year.

Doze was just wearing his usual outfit which consisted of his clean-cut green suit, with a white button-up undershirt. It was formal, classic, but what made it any different than from last time was that apparently the man somehow found the time to put on some rainbow suspenders and a cute little frog-themed bow to add to his undershirt. How did he put that on why’ll he was tugged by him through the Felt’s many hallways and towards the garage? Itchy will never know.

Then there was Die.

God, fucking Die. The dude was strange enough with his constant whispering and muttering to himself. But that strange smell of death wafting from his room into the Manor’s hallways on most nights. Have put a good majority of the Felt on high alert.

But thankfully as of tonight, THIS ONE NIGHT, the stinky-lanky man took a shower and got himself clean. Which was a surprise seeing how greasy looking Die could get being holed up in his room and doing god knows what late in the night.

And not soon after Die walked into his room to dry up and change into some sleeping clothes. Itchy decided that it was a good time to bust into his room, and demanded the screaming, half-naked man, to join the group for drinks.

At first, Die just screamed out “HELL NO!” and swung his ornate dressing closet open. And tried hiding behind one of its doors for some modesty. But with a little bit of classic Itchy harassment charm, he convinced Mister Six soon enough to join on the drinking train and find something more “modern” looking to wear for the night.

So, here he was, Die wearing tight-green turtleneck, along with his trademark long green coat and top hat. He still had his creepy doll with him, always looking away from the group to just focus on it intensely. Some days Itchy wonders why Die is so attached to that thing. But then again, he didn’t like to dwell on those kinds of thoughts knowing the kind of freaky-shit the lanky man does when he’s alone.

Then there was Itchy (himself), he was wearing a simple dusty-yellow hoodie, with blue jeans, and a good pair of sneakers. So why the hell was it so hard for the rest of the crew just find something to wear??

Especially something that wasn’t part of their old attire from the 1900s? Couldn’t they just find something decent to wear once in a while? He swears…despite himself being the oldest of the Felt. He seemed like the only one trying to blend in with the populace.

Now, describing the fashion choices of this band of boobs was pretty interesting. But you’re probably wondering how the hell did Itchy found himself in a place like this. Getting grilled harder than a prime ribeye steak on the 4th of July. Well, I’m about to explain it to your shmucks right now, so calm down.

Before all of this, Itchy tried his best driving around the City. Mainly to check out on any of the old hangout spots the Felt use to go to back in the day. But sadly, with every drive-by and stop he made around countless blocks. All that met him were either a dilapidated building long foreclosed, an empty lot, or a gentrified business or a neighborhood being made in progress. Mister One remembers Mister Six making a backseat comment about how many things have changed since their arrival to Midnight City.

That perhaps, maybe because of the Felt’s ruthless business practices and their subjugation over a good portion of the local economy. Had not only grew Midnight City into a slowly growing metropolis via tourism and entertainment. But also, in the process, had also destroyed the “charm” that made Midnight City…well…Midnight City.

This in turn made everyone in the car grow silent for a good five minutes. Doze was just staring intensely at his shoes. Fin looking outside the window like he has come to a sudden realization. And Trace, who was in shotgun seat, looked like he was seconds away from sweating a stream and having an internal crisis by the look in his eyes.

Itchy was starting to get that bad feeling in his stomach, so he decided to slow down his car to a stop and park somewhere safe. When he did so, he slowly turned around in his seat to look Die straight in the eyes and pointed at him harshly. Itchy told him shut up for the rest of the ride until they get to a decent bar. Because he was killing the vibes, and nobody wants to drink thinking about whatever just came out of his stupid mouth just a few minutes ago. Die made an upset face at him and looked away whispering an “Okay…”.

“Okay then!” Itchy remembers replying back and starting up the car. He looked back at the others in his rear-view mirror, as promised Die kept his mouth shut and was looking out through his window why’ll griping his doll tightly between his hands. As for Fin and Doze were looking more awkward, than nervous like before. So that was a good thing. He only gave a quick side glace to his right, Trace seemed to also keep himself calm too. But Itchy took notice of how Trace was just staring down hard at his hands. Which were laced together and visibly shaking. What Die just shared with the group really shook Trace up…

Back to the present

Mister One just grumbles out loud now and tries to “turtle” himself into his hoodie. He just stares at the group that he called his “friends” with a dead look in his eyes.

Trace takes this as a moment to continue on with what he stated before. And went down the list of explanations that Itchy had provided to them about his fated encountered with their neighbor (Y/N).

“So, first things first. You show up at (Y/N)’s house early-to-mid afternoon say 2pm; give or take. You show up to their front gate, Clover by your side. Your greeted by (Y/N)’s little dog Silas. You don’t see (Y/N) yet and you just take your sweet time in telling Clover how much of a…”.

He takes in a sharp breath to sigh out in disappointment. “And I quote, “A shabby-as-shit looking shack house” the neighbor lives in. Really? Itchy? You just hand too start off your first introduction to meeting our neighbor by insulting the person’s home? They’ve only just moved here less than a month ago—right?”

Itchy just makes an “Ehhh”. He was too lazy and disinterested to give a real reply to Trace. When was everyone going to stop asking him all of these questions about (Y/N)? What happened to the times when they would go out to drink and play poker like there was no tomorrow? They’ve changed, not himself though, Itchy was pretty sure in himself that unlike the others. He was just the same as he was when he first joined the gang.

Trace cut in to finish what he was trying to say, “Look all I’m saying for that one is that (Y/N) just doesn’t have the power to just suddenly change how their house appears to you. They’re just trying to acclimate into their new life, and they are probably making plans to fix up their house and property in the coming year or so. So, just learn to be a bit more understand of their situation, alright? Lower your expectations of others will help you in the long run in creating meaningful relationships Itchy.”

Itchy just makes a noise with his lips at the man in red.

“Very mature Itchy” says Fin, in great distaste.

Itchy sticks his tongue out at him and takes a sip from his own beer.

Trace leans over to give a comforting pat to Fin. Just to remind him to keep his nerves to himself. Fin nods back to him and gets back to finishing his fried catfish with fries.

Trace continues on, “The second thing is, when (Y/N) finally shows up, emerging from the side of their house. They’re slightly dirty and covered in sweat. Only cause they were working on something in their backyard. Probably in their garden, the one that Clover mentioned to us days before your meeting. But getting back to the point, (Y/N) heads over to where you and Clover are, slow but cautious-like, which is a reasonable reaction for a person to do, especially when strangers have shown up unexpectedly at their door.”

The man in the crimson red drums his fingernails against the table. Staring at Itchy’s way too relaxed form from across the table before resuming. “Now if I’m remembering this correctly, did you tell me and these fine gentlemen at our table. That you “looked” (Y/N) down and noticed how much you liked their legs.”

Itchy at first makes a disapproving face to the four men who were looking at him for an answer. That look ends up giving way to a knowing smirk, followed by a visible lick to his teeth. Seeing that alone makes Fin go “Eeeee” and show off his teeth in disgust.

And Doze just goes “Oh my…Itchy. That’s…no.”

Itchy just chuckles to himself and responds back to them soon enough. “What can I say?” he says in confidence, “I’m a man who loves to check out a nice pair of gams once in a while. Their personality was too bleak for me. But OOOOobaby got back! If you boys know what I mean?” he tells them all with a lecherous grin growing across his face; with a beer bottle in his hand.

Doze starts to blush in second-hand embarrassment after hearing Itchy’s descriptive choice of words, again, for the THIRD TIME. “Itchy that was very uncalled for!” he said in urgency. “It is very ungentlemanly like to be thinking such vulgar things at another’s expense! You should know better than to be looking down there!”

Itchy gives a “pfft” out to Doze and waves him off with his free hand. “Oh shut it you! I know what you like in your cup of tea. Now, if you just seen the way that sexy minx walked here and there. You would have gotten your rocks off at first too. Hell, if Stitch was there, the second he saw that doe trot their way over to me and Clover. You bet your bottom dollar, that silver fox would be jumping through ideas in his mind like marathons. Imagining what kind of little numbers, he would put those sexy pins of theirs in.”

Doze, Fin, and Trace all make disapproving faces at Itchy. Perhaps in an older time, they would have just laughed at Itchy’s raunchy tale and they would be done for the night. But this is now, and Doze, Trace, and Fin weren’t really the one’s to appreciate, more or less, approve of these such talks. Especially with Doze, because was raised by a single mother in late 1800’s Spain, and he was always taught to be a good boy. Just mentioning anything remotely flirtatious or scandalous, always sent Doze into a blushing mess. He didn’t know what to do with himself when that topic is brought up.

As for Die, unlike the three other men, he didn’t look too shocked by Itchy’s dirty mouth. Because, although he was making a worried face too, he also had a dark blush creep across his face. And was staring intensely at his doll under the table.

Seems like he’s trying to imagine what does their mystery neighbor look like to cause such a deplorable yet descriptive response from Itchy. A man who claims to hate their neighbor and disagrees with their future friendship with Clover.

Trace frowns at the man in the yellow hat, “Itchy never in my life have I ever felt so violated for someone else who isn’t even here. I can’t believe what just came from your mouth. Do you…do you see (Y/N) as some sort of entertainment for you? Like, what possesses you to just think or even say these kinds of things about others? Does it ever cross your mind that maybe that (Y/N) is a real human being? An equal?”

Itchy takes offense to Trace’s comment, although he thought it was best to not respond back to that last remark about (Y/N), “You make it sound like I was hurting them! What I just said wasn’t even an insult! It’s a compliment! I think they’re sexy lookin’. That’s all. I don’t got to LIKE someone! If in the end, all end up doing is just fantasize about them. ESPECIALLY, what I would want to do with em’ a one-night stand.”

Fin releases a sharp “EeeK!” noise from his mouth and tosses a French fry at him in disgust. “Shut yer’ trap you horndog! I don’t wanna hear a single word come out of your mouth about any of our neighbor’s body parts! You’re a filthy Son-of-a-bitch you know that? Filthy I tell you! FILTHY!”

Itchy just smirks wildly to this, snatches up the fry that lands against his chest and proudly eats it. OPENED MOUTHED. “Ha! Guilty as charged! I know I am. I’m sad to say it, but I got that special charm from my old man. Terrible person, horrible father, but BOY. Did he know how to find the right taste in women, which I guess, via through observation, I used to find interest in all spectrums, from the secret gay scenes to the lady lanes by the high-end shopping district in London. MMmmm—good times.”

Deep frown settles on Die’s face as his shoulders start to square into his body tightly. He was tensed as ever and was squishing his doll between his hands for comfort. “My god.” He whispers out to himself. Believing no one was paying attention to him in that moment. “How many people have you fucked Itchy…” he muttered in silence once again.

However. Someone did hear him and unfortunately…it was Itchy.

Where after hearing Die say this, he leaned in closer to number 6, and gets a bit too close for Die’s liking. And (not-really) whispers in his ear, “Die. What you should be really asking yourself is…who haven’t I fucked yet?

Doze nearly chokes on his pint of beer why’ll listening in to this. Along with a flabbergasted looking Trace, a furrow-browed Fin, and a sputtering Die. Whom of which, looked very close to just stabbing a yellow pin into his doll. Were it not for what happened next soon after…

Itchy starts to laugh his ass off at all of this and collapses back into his chair with a thud. He slaps his knee and takes a full swig from his beer and finishes it all in one big gulp before slamming the empty bottle down. “WOOOO! I really got you boys on that one huh? A bunch of sensitive prudes a lot of you are. Now, where were we Trace? Oh, right! The awkward as hell handshake of (Y/N)’s…”

Trace trying to recover from the previous conversation nodded wordlessly to this and takes a quick sip from his pint of beer before speaking. “R..right of course. The ha…handshake incident.” He forces himself to give a deep cough and a roll of his shoulders and back to settle his nerves. He continues on, “So after introducing yourself to our neighbor (Y/N) you stuck out your hand to them in greeting. However. As you waited, you mentioned that you noticed that you were being met with great disfavor from (Y/N). They hesitated half-way and gave you this “look” as you told us. From there, they just gave quick grip around the tip of your fingers and immediately pulled back into themselves. Is that right?”

Itchy responds back with a drawn out “Yeeeeeeep.” He says this with great importance by making sure to pop his mouth on the letter “p” at the end. He’s also leaning more into his chair with one arm behind his head. “I have never met a person who didn’t know how to give a good-honest handshake. Like who the hell doesn’t?? If I ever learned ANYTHING from my father!” Itchy whispers half-hearted underneath is breath, “That stupid-smug piece of shit”. Followed by the continuation of his first half of the conversation, “When he was hiring new recruits for the medical institution he ran. He always said…”

Mister One attempts to imitating a deep fatherly voice. Giving sagely advice.

“Archibald! You always can tell the character of a good, hard, working man based on their choice of a handshake. Too loose, means they are too relaxed! They have forgotten their place as the subordinate and you the superior! Too strong, means that they’ll soon be too confident! We Hanson folk like to find a good fight within our future compatriots. But ah-ah my boy! Too much confidence can lead to future mistakes! And we Hanson’s don’t make mistakes!

Fin leans over closer to Trace and half-whispers into his ear “I think I get where Itchy gets a good portion of his insufferable personality from now. If his pops was that high on his white horse, just to sell this kind of bull to his kids. No wonder Itchy has a problem with trying to understand others. People who deal with trying to hold up a family name like that, always have some sort of messed up baggage.”

Trace remains silent but nods and affirms to Fin’s comment.

Number 3 responds back, “Alright…I don’t understand the social or ethical judgment of someone’s character and personality. Based off solely on a handshake they give you. But I can assure you Itchy, if it’ll crank down your fragile ego; if only by a millimeter. There is nothing wrong with messing up with a handshake of all things. Everyone gets nervous around others, and much as you don’t like to admit it yourself. We all are guilty of not being able to present the best, most confident, of ourselves to those we want to get to know better in the future.”

Itchy just rolls his eyes to this and gave a sharp whistle to the bartender. The bartender looks up from cleaning out some glasses and looks toward him. Mister One points at his empty bottle of beer. The bartender nodded to this and grabbed another drink for Itchy and sends a waiter to hand it over to the Felt member’s table. “Thanks” is all Itchy said to the guy after taking his fresh cold bottle of beer.

Mister 3 continues on. “My point about that one combines with the other two things that you said that you’ve done why’ll in (Y/N)’s house. As their guest.”

Itchy grumbles in reply to this.

Trace ignores this, and lifts up his pointer finger, “One, you ate all of their chocolate chips during the time you baked cookies with them and Clover. And two, you somehow got offended by the fact that (Y/N) just gave you a rag to clean yourself up with. And knowing you’re previous eating practices; you are not the cleanest person I know.”

Itchy gives a lopsided leer to him and opens his beer with a sharp crack. “That’s valid, I can’t deny that. My only explanation for why, is that (Y/N) probably has something out for me. Like, they legit don’t like me and I don’t think they like anyone else for that matter. So why should I, Clover, or anyone for that matter have to deal with someone like that? If the looser so much as wants to be alone. And is instant that they don’t like to be played around with. I.e. by me alone. Then so be it! I’m just looking out for Clover in the end is all!”

 “Wow. An honest Itchy! Finally showing his colors for what he really is. A malicious, stuck-up, rich kid that gets upset when he isn’t being immediately accommodated or praised by someone he meets.” Fin says in a sarcastic tone.

Itchy looks at Fin with a scoff, and soon after a sneer, and uses his powers to snatch up a fry from the shark-man’s plate. However, as he attempts to do this his hand is quickly smacked away. The smack itself was harsh and stung the back of Itchy’s right hand. “OW! Whatthefuck?!” he whined out loudly. Cradling his hand—along with his pride.

Surprisingly the smack came from Doze. This astonishes everyone at the table who promptly realize who intercepted the speedster. Doze with his soft appearance looked very displeased at Itchy. And did not relent on how severely he felt about the man at the moment.

Archibald Alexander Hanson! How can you say such cruel things about a person like that? To our neighbor no less! You are a lowly scoundrel of a man and is lacking greatly in having no moral center. You should not be sitting here, drinking in pride, basking in the glory for your behavior towards others. You should be ashamed of yourself! A man of your disposition and background, should know better than to hang such unjustifiable expectations and harsh interpretations on a person’s character.”

Itchy has settled his bottle of beer down on the table below him and lean a bit farther back into his seat. He bit his lower lip in nervousness, he looked around, he was taking great notice of his peers and a few other people in the bar were starting to stare him. He tries to cover-up his moment of weakness and gives a panicky laugh to his friends. Stares wildly at Mister Two and reached out to give a comforting pat to his old friend. “Haha…oh Doze I don’t know where this sudden amount of bravery is coming from you. But ahh you can stop shouting at me now. Maybe even lower your voice??” he hisses out through his teeth.

Doze, knowing full well, that Itchy was trying to avoid being confronted. And becomes more visibly upset and starts to shake in anger. He balls up his hands into first and ends up pushing Itchy hand off of his shoulder. “No! I will not stop!” He shouts in anger. “Itchy I have endured through this meaningless conversation of yours. I have just about here with your empty words and find myself more than disappointed in you! How DARE you tell everyone at this table that your just “looking out” for Clover and his needs? The only person you’re looking out for—Is yourself! You always use everyone for your own purpose! What in the devil is wrong with you? Do you think that everyone you meet is in on some sort of twisted game of yours?!”

“I don’t understand—”

Doze continues on, straining to control the tone of his voice, and slams his hand on the table, “Do you see (Y/N) as some sort of toy? Are you jealous of them for capturing the attention of Clover? Is that it? Is that why you feel so threatened by (Y/N) getting close to Clover? There is no shame in just admitting that your jealous of someone! We’ll understand!”

Itchy becomes defensive and crosses his arms at Mister Three. “Wait what—WHAT? N..NO! That’s not it at all! I’m NOT THREATENED BY ANYBODY! Your looking into this too deeply Doze! I don’t like (Y/N), but they seem like a decent enough person. I just—”

Doze Interrupts Itchy again, “Then what is it Itchy? What do you have against (Y/N)? You have been spinning this tale of yours like a broken record. You keep saying that you don’t like our neighbor and at the same time you tell us how you enjoyed baking cookies and having good rapport with them! So, what is it? Do you hate (Y/N)? Or do you like (Y/N)? There is so much that I can deal with here…I can’t just sit idly by for hours-upon-hours, as you keep telling us this story! Your interpretation alone is faulty and riddled with your secret agendas. I cannot in good faith spend this whole night listening to you any further as you callously describe our neighbor in such detail! You make it seem like that they’re some kind of crazy, bitter, person intent on ruining everyone’s lives! But the only person I’m seeing, fitting that very description, is you!”

Itchy sits there in his seat, silently grinding his teeth against themselves, and takes a big chug from his beer. He’s narrowing his eyes at Doze. Sharp and cold.

Die looks over to Fin and Trace who are just slowly sipping on their beers next to one another. Die mouths out to them: “Should we stop this? Should be get involved?”

Trace senses Die’s attention and slowly shakes his head in response. His eyes become wide and try to tell the man in green: ‘Don’t. I want to see where this goes.’ 

Doze having talked at a faster pace and longer than he has ever had with his teammates around. He places one finger up, takes his pint of beer, drinks it to clear his throat, and continues on his argument with Mister One. This time returning his voice to room level and controlling it so that it wasn’t as angry as before.

“If you don’t like (Y/N) Itchy FINE. You don’t have to like them. But by god man, let Clover decide for himself what he wants. Not everyone you meet is going to shower you with praise and compliments. That’s just common knowledge everyone has to deal with when growing up. I bet (Y/N) probably wasn’t even thinking much of anything from you or Clover! Thinking you two where just neighbors coming over to visit them. And yet, instead of greeting you and send you two back home, they gave you permission to enter the sanctity of their home. They let you eat all of their chocolate chips with little complaint other than to just asking you to take better care of yourself. And they finally took the time out of their day to bake cookies for everyone in the Felt! That, in itself, is very thoughtful thing for them to do. They didn't have to do that! BUT! They did.”

Itchy mumbles out mockingly as he takes another large gulp from his beer. “Oh, real thoughtful…”

Doze finishes up on what he wants to say, “Actions speak louder than words Itchy. The actions from our neighbor shows to me that despite their socially inept nature. They are willing to make best out of a stressful situation of having to deal with next-door neighbors suddenly showing up to their house. By not only being a decent host, but by also leaving with us a wonderful gift of sweets in response to being welcomed into their new home! Ever since meeting them, have you ever just thought for ONCE Itchy! That maybe (Y/N) might have been so distant with approaching you at first because you scare them?

Although sneering harshly than ever, Itchy gives a soft chuckle to Doze’s words, before speaking in a guttural tone. “Scary? Me? Scary? HA! I’m a fucking delight to be around with! I crack jokes and play pranks nearly all day. What the hell does (Y/N) (L/N) the jewelry consultant have to be afraid from me?” he says in an accusatory fashion.

Trace, Fin, and Doze: All give Itchy a deadpanned look. As if that sentence that just fell out of his mouth didn’t sound frightening at all.

Die becomes slightly more nervous and starts to rub and squeeze at his doll in comfort. He just stares down at his doll intensely before softly speaking up for himself in a squeaky voice.

“Maybe you remind (Y/N) of someone who has hurt them in the past…”

This quickly prompts Itchy to snap his head towards Die. “What the hell you just say?”

Die refuses to talk or look away from the doll in his hands. He also tries to lean away from Itchy’s harsh glare.

Itchy quickly gets up from his chair and dives down to Die and grabs him by the collar of his green coat. Die looks increasingly uncomfortable as he is being suddenly manhandled up from his seat and being shook around like a muppet. Despite being the tallest between all of the men at the table; he was the least heavyset out of them. So, it was pretty much easy for anyone to lift him off from his feet.

However, that idea would be so much better in a romantic scene than the one occurring right now. In which a partially drunk Itchy is throttling Die around by his coat and is making nearby bar patrons more nervous at the situation going on at the Felt’s table. It was starting to escalate into higher tensions as time rolls on.

“I want to hear what you just said to me you pile of chicken shit!” Itchy screams out.

Trace and Fin get up from their seats and start to stalk over to Itchy and Die’s side of the table.

Fin puts up his hands in front of himself and reaches out towards Mister One. “Woah—woah—woah! Itchy calm down man! Die wasn’t insulting yah. Your starting to scare the other customers man!”

Trace agrees, “Yeah Die was just mumbling to himself that’s all! Just let go of him, sit down, and hold back on that drinking of yours’s okay?”

Itchy just glares at the two men approaching him and starts to back away from them with a struggling Die in his grip. “Nononono! I heard this scared sack of say shit clear as day! You don’t think I don’t hear your little side comments about me from time to time Die? I hear you all the time! Calling me a worthless, good for nothing, ratbag. All night! Since I’ve drove you fuckers out here for some drinks, in search of a good time. You and all the others have been nothing but ungrateful to me! Telling me how much a shitty person I am, insulting me, and defending a complete stranger you haven’t even met! How can you stand by the side of a complete stranger over a full-bloodied Felt member?!”

Doze knowing Itchy long enough to know where this was leading up to, slowly gets up from his seat and reaches out his hand out towards Itchy. “The keys…” he said in his soft-slow voice.

Itchy looks away from the quivering Die. Whom, is desperately rummaging through his many, many coat pockets trying to find where he placed that one pin in.

“What?” Itchy replied back to the man in blue.

Doze responds back “I want your car keys Itchy. Your starting to get tipsy and if it weren’t for your death grip on Die’s collar. You would have noticed by now how your starting to lean from side to side. I don’t want you to be running out of here and driving in your car.”

Itchy frowns at this and releases Die from his hands. Die collapses onto the floor front of Trace and Fin, and quickly opens up one of his pockets and pulls out a yellow pin. He angerly looks up at a distracted Itchy and yells at him that he’s “a real fucking prick”. Before sticking the yellow pin into his voodoo doll and disappearing in a sharp pop.

This ends up freaking out a couple of the folks that remained in the bar now. As they started talking loudly among themselves about where did the sweaty looking guy in green go. And what the hell was going on at their table.

Trace and Fin look at each other and then at the chattering bar patrons.

“Uuuuuh…” Trace starts off, “I think Doze is right about you handing the keys over to him Itchy. I think it’s about time we head on back home to the Manor.”

Fin agrees, “Definitely what Trace said. Seems like our little outing has caught some unwanted attention. Best head off for the night. Nice try at reviving an old-time tradition of the Felt’s though. Props to you man.”

Itchy leans onto his right side and just shakes his head at the three men and shove’s his right hand into his hoodie’s single pocket and lazily tosses his car’s keys over to Doze.

Doze doesn’t catch it on time, and it falls between his fingers and onto the floor in front of him. Doze gives out a frustrated sigh and crouches to pick them up but as he does so he feels his hat slipping off from his head. He would have at first thought that it could have been caused by the angle he was in trying to pick up Itchy’s keys.

But no.

It was Itchy who decided to just smack Doze’s blue hat from off his head and onto the bar’s floor.

“Whatever, I don’t give a shit what you fuckers do. I’m taking this beer of mine and walking out these doors. Have fun at home don’t boring shit for the weekend.” Is all Itchy said before snatching up his nearly empty bottle of beer and walking towards the bar’s door.

The bartender tries to step out from behind the counter along with some people who are manning the front desk. The bartender shouts at Itchy, “Hey! Sir! You can’t leave the bar without paying!”

And to reply back with, Itchy just digs into his left pocket, flips out his leather wallet, slides out two 100-dollar bills and tosses them into the air behind him. Followed by flipping the guy off with his middle finger raised high, before shoving the door open, and stumbling away down the street onto his right.

Trace grumbles something to himself and smacks his forehead really hard. This was his worst nightmare he could ever ask for. He tells Doze to give Fin the car keys, so that he can start up the car, and that he would join the both of them on the journey to find an inebriated Itchy.

Doze nodded but pointed at the empty space where Die was. “What about him?” he asks curiously, as he dusts off his blue hat from the bar’s floor.

Fin shrugs to this and waves his hand off to Doze. “Don’t worry about it Doze. Die has one hell of grudge towards Itchy. But he’ll get over it, and he’ll pop up back soon in our timeline. He always does. Keys?”

Doze nods his head again and slips Itchy’s keys into Fin’s awaiting hand.

All three of them speed walked their way out of the sports bar. With hasty “sorry” and “we won’t ever show up here again. Deeply sorry for making a scene at your establishment.” Before slipping out through the doors and looking both left and right trying to see if they can get a glimpse of where the notorious Felt member in yellow went.

Itchy was nowhere to be seen.

Were they a normal band of mildly buzzed friends. They would have gotten lost on where to start their search for the notorious bastard. But thankfully they aren’t like most men. And one of them has the ability to see people’s past trails.

Trace did as expected and activated his powers. Although, he did have trouble at first trying to focus a little bit more to shift through hundreds of other past trails. But the most recent one hanging around in the air was one of a slightly staggering and upset looking Itchy.

Fin pulls up in Itchy’s car and honks the horn at the two men. “Get in” he says patting the driver’s door in urgency. “Trace you’ve got Itchy’s trail?”

Trace nods, “Yep!” The man in red hops into the car, and buckles up in the front seat next to Fin. “I got his trail alright, seems like he’s trying to use his powers to get some distance from us. But because of his hard drinking back in the bar. He’s starting to stumble all over himself. Which is a good, cause we might get a chance to catch up to him real soon. The only bad thing is that, Itchy, despite being a horrible drunk, has the ability to metabolize through the alcohol in his system quickly when he’s on the move.”

Doze meanwhile gets into the back seat and straps himself in and finishes Trace’s train of thought. “Which means that Itchy will be soon thinking clear about what he did. Which in turn, he’ll even be more upset at us and try to hide farther away.”

Fin steps on the gas and starts driving the car, following Trace’s and his own trails. “Not if I got any say in it. Last thing we want is Itchy stumbling into the Midnight Crew and starting another gang war.”

Trace looks at Fin puzzlingly, “We haven’t interacted with Midnight Crew in years Fin! Ever since they’ve started to become working, single fathers. They have officially disbanded their gang and officially retired from crime now. What are the chances that Itchy will come across them?”

Fin stares intensely at the road in front of him as he makes sure keep in an eye out for the speed limit and secret traffic cameras around certain streets. He really doesn’t like that invention. Makes driving even more nerve racking.

Fin comes clean to the others. “Would you believe me if I told you that just last week. Why’ll in the city, I took notice of a familiar trail around a street corner. I ended up following it and it lead me straight to the old part of Midnight City. And do you know what I saw? I saw Itchy, lying on the ground, on top the stairs of an underground bar. The front of his head was bleeding, his face looked all cut up and bruised. And do you know who I saw next to him?”

All three said the same word string of words together as if being part of some kind of hive mind:

“The Midnight Crew”

Fin adjusts the rear view mirror before taking another turn based off of Trace’s suggestion to do so. “Exactly! I also saw someone else there as well, someone dressed up nice but looked a bit ruffled up. They were looking really close to balling out their eyes staring down at Itchy’s prone body. An’ a hunch of mine is pickin’ at me like a trapped rat in a cage. Telling me that person could be our very own mystery neighbor (Y/N).”

Trace groans, “Oh dear lord.” He rubs his face with the circle of his palms, “How can this night get any worse!”

Doze is looking outside his window at the passing buildings and streetlights. “It can get worse. Fin…what was the name of that bar?”

Mister Five drums his fingernails against the steering wheel as he racks through his brain why’ll trying to focus on driving. “Uuugh. Gosh I don’t remember at the moment. Something cute sounding. Like—like the thing you give to someone when you love them a lot. It was definitely a karaoke bar. Aaaaa I think it’s owned by Clover? I think it was named Smores?”

Trace makes a face thinking hard on Fin’s choice of descriptions. He taps against his chin and quickly snaps his fingers in revelation. “Smoochies!”

“Smoochies?” Doze says in a confused manner.

The man in orange nods to this and takes another sharp turn when Trace tells him to. “Yeah! That’s it! That’s the place! If we can get there on time! We can stop Itchy from making a mistake he’ll soon regret.”

Trace grimly agrees with Fin’s statement and looks at the street ahead of him. Nothing but closed shops, old apartment buildings, and a bunch of parking lots on both sides. They were getting close to Itchy’s destination. He knew how risky it was to change someone’s future trail. You could end up starting a chain reaction of events because someone messed with the natural order of things.

But then again…good thing that it wasn’t the first time The Felt have trespassed and desecrated through the natural order of space and time. If there was an omniscient being greater than Doc Scratch himself and more powerful that Lord English. Then whoever they may be, they must be rightfully pissed off at the semi-immortals with billiard numbers on their heads.

Because in the end, if it means saving an upset Itchy from dying. Then Mister Three, Mister Five, and Mister Two are going to have to kick some ass for the night; if it means doing so will ensure the longevity of their friend.  

He just hopes that nothing bad will come out of it in the end.