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Vote of Confidence

Retconned Feb 16th, 2019 (edited) 235 Never
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  1. <This is a collaborative piece done with Sham! Major thanks to my good friend for all his help.>
  2. <https://pastebin.com/u/Sham_>
  3.  
  4. Chapter 1: Welcome to the Team
  5.  
  6. >You grumble as you step outside and see yet another campaign sign driven up across the street.
  7. >God, you hate this time of year. It's one of the most divisive times and you, quite frankly, just want to go back to bed.
  8. >Empty promises, grandeur, mudslinging on every side… it's just such a pain. You know it's your “civil duty to vote” and all that jazz, but does campaign season HAVE to be a headache every year?
  9. >Whatever.
  10. >You stretch, yawn, and set out for another morning on the town. Fog’s thin today… that's rare for old Placid Knoll.
  11. >With a deep inhale, you take in the crisp morning air.  Ahhh… creepy as this town can be sometimes, it beats the heck out of living in a bigger city. So refreshing.
  12. >Looking up and down the street, you see election posters and signs everywhere.
  13. >Vote for him! Vote for her!
  14. >Last time you voted, your older brother got shipped straight into Kuwait.
  15. >For all you know, your vote will fuck something up AGAIN.
  16. >It shouldn't be this big of a problem…  But it is.
  17. >It looks like this current election is for the local district court judge.
  18. >Eh, you couldn't give less of a fuck about whoever gets THAT job. You're a law abiding citizen, and Placid Knoll isn't exactly crime-ridden anyway.
  19. >You probably won't even bother voting, if you're honest with yourself. No real reason to.
  20. >You need to get away from all this election crap. All these promotional posters and flyers are sure to make you sick.
  21. >Fortunately there's one place that you know is safe from all this political bullshit: The Tipsy Vixen.
  22. >Bit too early to drink, but eh. They have a decent enough menu. Maybe you can grab something for “breakfast”.
  23. >You quickly make your way down the main streets and down a few back alleys until you find that oh-so-indistinguishable hole in the wall.
  24. >You pass by a feline anthro couple swapping spit at the bar's entrance and step down into the recessed hallway. Smoke fills the stagnant air as you also pull a cigarette out from your jacket.
  25. >A smooth jazz tune plays from the back of the open bar area.
  26. >You love this place. It never changes.
  27. >After lighting up, you grab a seat at the bar. The usual bartender wanders over.
  28. >As the black-furred dog sways her hips with every step, you vaguely wonder if her boss cares at all about her wearing such short shorts and such a tight t-shirt to work. Eh. Probably not.
  29. >She grins, hazel eyes glinting with mischief, and leans on the counter.
  30. >”Mornin’ Mikey! You're here awful early.”
  31. >”Heya, Marris. Yeah, just figured I'd swing by and grab a bite.”
  32. >”Phew. And here I thought I was gonna have to mix up your usual. The thought of that was more than I can… BEER! Nyeheheheh!”
  33. >God. Marris and her stupid puns.
  34. >You groan and knock your head against the bar, hiding an involuntary grin.
  35. >”Just some fries, Marris. But keep those jokes up and I'll be asking for an Old Fashioned.”
  36. >The patron next to you snorts, dark smoke coming out of her nose.
  37. >”That actually sounds pretty good right about now. I need something for my nerves. Hey bartender! An Old Fashioned, please.”
  38. >”Look what ya did, Mikey! Now I gotta WORK for a living.”
  39. >She grins and gets to mixing up the drink. She complains, sure, but you can tell she loves this job.
  40. >You know you shouldn't pry, but it's only nine in the morning and this lady's already drinking whiskey. Maybe some company would be better than booze.
  41. >You turn to her and take a long drag before snuffing out your first cigarette.
  42. >”Don't you think it's a little early? I love my drinks as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure if going straight from bed to booze is such a great idea.”
  43. >The anthro woman turns and faces you.
  44. >”Well, when your career is on the line, I think you'd drink too. And who says I slept last night?”
  45. >Taking a look at her face, you can definitely tell that she's not your typical Hallow. And considering how weird they can get, that's saying something.
  46. >Her blood-red irises contrast greatly with the whites of her eyes. A short coat of dark chocolate fur covers the majority of her body, with a lighter shade of brown on her muzzle. Two large horns curve backwards, starting from the top of her head, just behind her pointed ears.
  47. >She's wearing a fairly wrinkled, ill-fitting black suit. Judging by that, and her earlier comment, you'd hazard a guess someone’s about to have her last day in the office.
  48. >”Why is your career on the line? Couldn't win over the boss?”
  49. >She lets out a long sigh and downs her drink quickly.
  50. >”More like can't win over the people…”
  51. >”What are you talki-”
  52. >The canine woman shushes you quickly.
  53. >”I'm talking about the election. I've been busting my ass all season trying to get my name out there, and it's not looking good. Early polls ain't looking good.”
  54. >Great. Just great. Come here to get away from campaigns and end up sitting next to one of the politicians.
  55. >”...well, I'm sorry to hear that, Miss…”
  56. >”Brimstone. Emmas Brimstone.”
  57. >She extends a clawed hand, and you shake it.
  58. >”Err, Michael .”
  59. >”Good to meet you… so, have you seen my name around, Michael?”
  60. >”Well, yeah. It IS election season.”
  61. >”Good, good….”
  62. >Her grip tightens noticeably as she grins, showing off very sharp fangs.
  63. >”Have you decided who you're voting for yet…?”
  64. >”...uh, I don't think you can ask me that, if you're running.”
  65. >Her ears droop slightly, and she sighs and nods.
  66. >”Yeah, yeah… forget I asked.”
  67. >She looks at you with… dread? Fear?
  68. >Some sort of unmistakable worry that this could be her last shot.
  69. >She sighs and adjusts her tie.
  70. >”...Say, can I bum a smoke off you?”
  71. >Eh, she seems okay enough. Even if she is a politician.
  72. >”Yea sure. I don't mind sharing. I just, you know, came here to avoid the whole “campaign” thing, so.”
  73. >”Oh. Well then.”
  74. >”Sorry, it's just a headache for me. Heck, I don't even plan to VOTE this time.”
  75. >The moment you finish the sentence, her eyes instantly widen. Her pupils narrow to slits. A couple of wisps of black smoke billow from her nostrils.
  76. >”...you don't WHAT?”
  77. >”Look. Miss Brimstone. I just don't know who to vote for. And right now? I honestly don't care either. I don't have to vote when election day comes.”
  78. >She bares her teeth slightly at this point.
  79. >”You're just going to throw away a right and freedom you have just because you're too lazy to do a little bit of basic research!?”
  80. >This lady is really miffed…
  81. >She slams a fist down on the bar, still ranting.
  82. >”Do you have ANY idea how important your vote is?! People have won and lost everything by one single vote! And then there's Mike, not contributing a FUCKING thing to the election because he's a layabout!”
  83. >”Hey, there's no need for all that!”
  84. >”Oh no? You don't think so? That's because you clearly don't respect your duty as a voter!”
  85. >This wacko is actually making you pretty mad.
  86. >”Hey! As a law-abiding citizen I can exercise my right to NOT VOTE. Jeez, lady! What's your deal?”
  87. >Are those literal flames in her eyes? What the hell is her PROBLEM?
  88. >”My DEAL, buddy, is that you're not performing your civic duty to the FULL EXTENT.”
  89. >She stands up and leans over you.
  90. >”You need to be properly educated on the potential candidates. You have a temp job on my election committee and you'll even get to be paid to learn who to vote for.”
  91. >”...what. You can't just say I work for you now, lady. That's not how this works.”
  92. >She pulls out her wallet and hands you a wad of cash. You count it out...
  93. >...holy fuck.
  94. >”...you start tomorrow, and there's more where that came from.”
  95. >”...fine. If this means THAT much to you, I'll do it.”
  96. >You hand back a portion of the bills.
  97. >”You don't even have to go this overboard.”
  98. >You hear her sigh… In relief?
  99. >”Thank God. I've been looking for someone to help my electing committee. It's you and me now!”
  100. >Wait a minute…
  101. >””Have you been trying to get yourself elected as a local judge… all by yourself?”
  102. >”Well… yes.”
  103. >”Why? How?”
  104. >”I haven't been in this town long, so I haven't exactly been able to get together a committee… it's been tough, but I've managed to get the word out. A-A little, anyway.”
  105. >”A little?”
  106. >”Yes, a little. Placid Knoll isn't exactly a small town, h-ha. Plus, I don't really know the people that well…”
  107. >”...then, uh, if I may ask, why run for public office here?”
  108. >She darts her eyes back and forth conspiratorially, then leans in and whispers.
  109. >”I’ll be honest with you: I'm fresh out of Hell’s greatest law school, and I figured a demon would look less out of place in a town like this.”
  110. >...d-demon?
  111. >Apparently your shock is evident, as she cringes a little.
  112. >”Now, now, don't get all panicky. Just because I'm a Hellhound doesn't mean I'm gonna hurt you or anything.”
  113. >”I didn't just sign away my soul or anything… r-right?”
  114. >Emmas rolls her eyes.
  115. >”Please. That's just a stereotype. Your soul is safe.”
  116. >You breathe a sigh of relief, and she chuckles a little.
  117. >”I'm surprised you thought of that right off the bat. Most people’s minds don't go to the soul contract stuff until later.”
  118. >She leans in really close, grinning toothily.
  119. >”If you play your cards right, though, you could steal my heart~. I always did have a thing for humies.”
  120. >You're pretty sure it's the alcohol talking. But you're totally uninterested in some dumb… lean… very fit… determined… anthro Underworlder.
  121. >You never noticed the toned muscles that present themselves to you with her sleeves rolled up.
  122. >...you tear your eyes away from her biceps and manage to speak.
  123. >”Uh, I guess I'll see you later then? Tomorrow, I guess? Here's my landline. If I don't pick up just leave something on the voice machine.”
  124. >You scribble down your phone number on a napkin and take your leave.
  125. >Emmas grabs your arm before you leave. Her grip is remarkably strong.
  126. >”I never got that smoke I asked for.”
  127. >Whoops.
  128. >”Crap. My bad. Here you go.”
  129. >The Hellhound spits a small flame out of her mouth and lights the end up before taking a long drag.
  130. >”Thanks Mikey. I'll see you later.”
  131. >With that, she stretches and walks out of the bar, puffing away on the cigarette.
  132. >...what the heck just happened? You come down here to get some breakfast and escape election season, and now you're some a lackey for a politician from Hell?
  133. >...wait a minute.
  134. >Marris never even brought your food!
  135.  
  136.  
  137. Chapter 2: Campaign-ful Questions
  138.  
  139. >You can't believe you're actually going through with this.
  140. >You look back down to the address you transcribed from the message she left you. Yup. This is it.
  141. >The small house is in the suburbs on the outskirts of Placid Knoll. I-is this where she lives, too?
  142. >You let out a sigh and knock on the door a few times.
  143. >”Miss Brimstone? It's Michael. From yesterday….”
  144. >The door is opened almost immediately. Emmas is in another wrinkled-up suit, and looks relieved to see you.
  145. >”Oh, I'm so glad you actually came. Come in, come in; we've got a lot of work to do.”
  146. >You follow her inside and one thing quickly becomes apparent.
  147. >”Wait, you were serious about trying to campaign for the district judge position all by yourself?”
  148. >The Hellhound nervously looks over her shoulder at you.
  149. >”Uhhh….. m-maybe?”
  150. >.....
  151. >”Hey! Hiring an entire campaign team is expensive! And it's not like I have an actual office space to coordinate my efforts for this…”
  152. >Her living room and dining room are filled with scattered posters, papers, and other notes for her campaign along with books about civil and criminal cases.
  153. >There are several burnt patches and holes in the wall, as if she's been spitting fire and punching them in frustration.
  154. >To put it bluntly, it's a fucking mess.
  155. >”Listen, Miss Emmas. I thi-”
  156. >”Please, Michael. Just call me Emmas.”
  157. >”Okay. Listen, Emmas. Your place is a wreck, and it looks like you slept in that suit. How about you go iron that out while I re-organize this place and see what we're dealing with?”
  158. >She frowns a little, but nods.
  159. >”Okay… give me just a few minutes.”
  160. >She vanishes into the depths of the house, leaving you to the mess.
  161. >God, it's an absolute clusterfuck in here…
  162. >You sort out the posters first. These actually aren't bad… at least that means you won't have to redo them.
  163. >She's got tons of notes scattered around haphazardly. You try to consolidate them into one big, empty binder.
  164. >Let's see what she's got written…
  165. >”Placid Knoll: large town. Citizens: Hallows? Find out what a Hallow is without looking stupid. Also try to make sure you don't accidentally say something discriminatory about them.”
  166. >”Hallows are monsters? Okay to call them that?”
  167. >”No, it's not okay”
  168. >”Town meeting 10/31/94, town square. DON’T FORGET”
  169. >...hm, that's today... Wonder if she actually remembered?
  170. >Right on cue, the Hellhound walks back in, looking more presentable. She smiles nervously, twiddling her fingers.
  171. >”So, uh, how does it look?”
  172. >”Well, your posters seem fine. I got your notes all sorted out… I also found one talking about a town meeting today?”
  173. >”SHIT, I forgot about that! That's probably gonna be crucial, too.”
  174. >Jesus Christ.
  175. >”Well then I guess we better book it to the town square. Let's get going.”
  176. >You both pile into your car and get to the meeting as fast as you can.
  177. >As you park in the lot, you read a sign out front. Looks like you've got eight or ten minutes to spare.
  178. >Unfortunately, you have no clue what she'll be asked, so you'll need a quick hot take on her view of issues.
  179. >”Okay, Emmas. You need to be very to-the-point on your answers to the questions these folks ask you. No skirting around the issues because that's a sign of weakness. The people of Placid Knoll want to hear things told like they are.”
  180. >She nods sagely.
  181. >”Got it.”
  182. >”Alright, let's run through a few public issues real quick.”
  183. >………………..
  184. >As soon as she finishes answering your questions, a gentleman walks up to your companion.
  185. >”Miss Brimstone, are you ready? It's time. You will be answering questions asked by the people of Placid Knoll. Your opponent will also answer the same questions. There will be no mud-slinging of any kind, and the time limit for your answers is three minutes.”
  186. >She nods, adjusting her tie and straightening up. She stands a fair bit taller than the gentleman, a fact that seems to have him slightly intimidated.
  187. >”I'm all set, sir.”
  188. >”R-right. Follow me then, ma’am…”
  189. >She looks back at you with a nervous expression as he leads her away. You don't really care about the election either way, but you do hope she does okay here.
  190. >She really seems to want this.
  191. >You watch from behind the scenes as she takes the first question from the audience.
  192. >”Miss Brimstone. You're new in town and clearly haven't had much of a public image yet. How do you plan on changing that?”
  193. >”Well, I am planning to make many more public appearances over the remainder of the campaign season, now that I've become more familiar with this fair city. I want to get to know you all as friends, neighbors. And I hope that, soon enough, you can see me the same way.”
  194. >Another hand shoots up.
  195. >”Miss Emmas: what is your opinion on recreational drug users? Is the law too soft on them? Too harsh?”
  196. >Oh boy. Two questions in and they're already playing hardball.
  197. >She takes a deep, somewhat shaky breath, then responds.
  198. >”I myself do not partake of that sort of thing, nor do I endorse it. That being said, I am certain that most of the populace who DO indulge in these drugs are not performing any other criminal acts. Because of that, the laws could be seen as too harsh.”
  199. >As if unsure of herself, she clears her throat and continues. You feel your blood run cold. The crowd probably won't like it if she keeps talking too long.
  200. >”BUT! Uh… it also cannot be ignored that certain criminal activities can be traced directly back to the abuse of recreational drugs. So, while they can be a problem for the more responsible user, the laws are a necessary evil.”
  201. >Shit. She's already wavering on issues.
  202. >The crowd murmur amongst themselves, and it doesn't sound positive.
  203. >You just hope she holds out until the end of this thing…
  204. >.........
  205. >An hour passes, and it's nearing the end of the Q&A session.
  206. >Emmas and her opponent, Mrs. Salem, stare directly into each other’s, erm, eyes?
  207. >This Salem woman has a jack-o-lantern head, so you guess you can't really call those eyes. C-can you..?
  208. >The tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
  209. >”Mrs. Salem. Did you have a closing question for Miss Emmas?”
  210. >The pumpkinhead puts a gloved hand to her chin thoughtfully, then nods.
  211. >”Yes, actually. Miss Brimstone… do you think that someone could find their true love, even after trying and failing to find it multiple times, so long as they poured their heart and soul into it?”
  212. >What.
  213. >The crowd falls silent, confused. Emmas looks just as baffled, and the off-the-wall question seems to have thrown her off enough to shake up her already-frazzled nerves.
  214. >”I-I, uh….. I-I-I… uh, feel…”
  215. >Oh crap, she's breaking up.
  216. >...was that Salem’s intent? Or is she actually serious?
  217. >”YES! I do! Love comes in all shapes and sizes. A-as a matter of fact, I'm going out on a date with a human man tonight…!”
  218. >Oof.
  219. >Salem’s candlelit eyes and mouth glow brighter as she somehow grins wider.
  220. >”Wonderful! Can you tell us who he is~?”
  221. >”Erm, y-yes, actually! I-it’s, uh, my good friend Michael, who's right backstage!”
  222. >...
  223. >Emmas peeks backstage to you with an incredibly nervous smile. The crowd cheers modestly.
  224. >”Alright, Miss Brimstone, do you have any questions for your opponent?”
  225. >”Uhh… n-none that come to mind, thank you.”
  226. >”Very well. Thank you all for coming, and enjoy your evening.”
  227. >The crowd disperses loudly. Salem and Emmas shake hands politely.
  228. >The red-clad, vegetable-headed fox leans in close, her face taking on a cat-like smile.
  229. >”I hope you and Michael enjoy yourselves~! I need to get myself a man one day…”
  230. >”O-oh, uh, thank you. I'm sure we'll have a great time.”
  231. >Well, it looks like you've got a dinner date lined up tonight...
  232.  
  233.  
  234. Chapter 3: One Hell of a Dinner Date
  235.  
  236. >As Emmas comes back stage, her grin fades away quickly. She wipes her brow with a loud PHEW.
  237. >”I'm glad that's over with…”
  238. >”Me too, but why the hell did you say we're dating?”
  239. >”I panicked! What else was I supposed to say? I had no answer for that!”
  240. >”You coulda just said yes?”
  241. >”Well, whatever. It's not like we have to actually go out. Who's gonna ask if we-”
  242. >A loud whistle cuts her off. You look over to see Salem prancing up to you. It's only now that you really get a clear look at Emmas’ opponent.
  243. >The most striking feature, of course, is her head, a jack-o-lantern with actual moving features. A blue flame glows from within, dancing playfully.
  244. >Atop the pumpkin, she wears a wide-brimmed red hat that goes exceptionally well with her red suit. She wears no undershirt beneath the jacket, showing off a visible ribcage that somehow gives way to pale silver fur when it hits her generous bustline.
  245. >She wears black leather gloves that completely hide her hands, as well as high-heeled boots. She looks more suited to be performing a concert than running for office...
  246. >A long, fluffy silver tail wags behind her, a tiny wisp of blue fire at the tip.
  247. >Salem smiles and shakes your hand.
  248. >”You must be Michael! I'm so happy to hear you and Emmas have found love together! In fact, I'm so happy, I wanna recommend a really nice restaurant for you guys to have your date at. I even have a coupon!”
  249. >Sure enough, she produces a little slip for a free dinner for two at some restaurant in downtown Placid Knoll. The fox bows dramatically, sweeping her hat from her head and revealing comically huge, fluffy ears.
  250. >”Enjoy! Who knows, maybe I'll see you guys there~”
  251. >You and your new boss try to hide your dropped jaws as she skips away merrily.
  252. >You're not sure whether she gave these coupons out of generosity or jest….
  253. >But fuck, you aren't going to pass on a free dinner.
  254. >You and your hellhound friend shake a few hands and quickly get back into your car.
  255. >”Okay. Let's see where we're going to tonight…”
  256. >You unfold the crumpled paper coupon and feel your face heat up a little bit.
  257. >It's a coupon for a local dive called Schlittz and Giggles…
  258. >It's definitely NOT a place you'd see a politician in a full suit be seen eating at…
  259. >She must have been playing a joke on you.
  260. >...right? Even if the food there is super good, surely she's not serious about it being a “really nice” restaurant…
  261. >Emmas looks at you with confusion.
  262. >”What? Did she give us a fake coupon..?”
  263. >”Uh, no, it's not that. It's just that this place isn't really uh… a very fancy place to eat at…”
  264. >”What do you mean?”
  265. >You nervously glance her way.
  266. >”W-well, let's just say it mostly serves blue-collar folk. Hell, right now we're awfully overdressed to go eat there. We would stick out like some thumbs.”
  267. >Emmas huffs in frustration and rolls up a sleeve, exposing her arm.
  268. >”That bitch. I'm gonna give her a piece of my min-”
  269. >Wait. This is actually a good thing.
  270. >”Hold on a minute.”
  271. >”I'm venting over here!”
  272. >”No, Emmy, listen. If we go out to eat at Shlittz and Giggles, it'll show that you're embracing the local life of PK. I'm no special guy. I've eaten there a million times… But you haven't! This shows that you're not all ‘pish-posh’ and are willing to try out little special places that Placid Knoll has to offer.”
  273. >”.....”
  274. >”D-did you call me Emmy..?”
  275. >You can feel a blush coming on as she stares at you with an inscrutable expression.
  276. >”Uhhhhhh… I-I guess it slipped… I, uh, didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable...”
  277. >”Oh no. It's okay, Mike. It's just been a while since I've been called that… It's always ‘Ms. Brimstone’ or ‘Miss Emmas’....”
  278. >...is your big, tough Hellhound boss…. blushing?
  279. >”...I, uh… I like it.  Ahem.”
  280. >”Well, okay? If that's what you want me to call you, I will.”
  281. >She puts a clawed hand to her chin.
  282. >”...yeah. I'd like that.”
  283. >”Okay, Emmy. Let's stop by your place and find you something appropriate to wear for tonight. Then we'll swing by my place.”
  284. >”Okay, Mikey. Sounds good!”
  285. >It doesn't take long to get back to her place. Once there, she heads off into the depths of the house, eventually poking her head out of a door sheepishly.
  286. >”Hey, uh. Stop me if this is too much, alright? I don't have much casual wear.”
  287. >”What do you mean too mu-”
  288. >She steps out in a short, dark blue top that shows off her finely sculpted abs incredibly well; over that is a badass leather jacket. In addition, a pair of leather shorts advertise her equally toned legs.
  289. >D-damn…
  290. >”Well?”
  291. >”U-uhhhh….”
  292. >”Uhhh, what?”
  293. >”Nothing! Nothing. It's, uh… nice.”
  294. >She looks relieved that you didn't shoot her down or make her change.
  295. >”I can change if you really want me too… it's okay.”
  296. >You interrupt her.
  297. >”No! No… you look damn good…’
  298. >Smoke puffs out of her ears as she blushes again.
  299. >”Th-thanks.”
  300. >With her outfit taken care of you both pile into your car and hit the road to your place.
  301. >It's not exactly in the nicest part of town, but it's where you've called home for a while now.
  302. >Emmas takes in your crappy apartment with a measured tone. You can tell she doesn't want to offend you, but you know your living situation for what it is.
  303. >The peeling wallpaper and numerous half-filled ash trays pretty much tell the story of your home life.
  304. >”It's… uh, homey…”
  305. >”It's okay, Emmy. This place is pretty ratty, to say the least. But I've lived in PK my whole life. And despite this place being a dump, it IS my home. And I'm proud to call it my own.”
  306. >She frowns for a moment, then smiles a bit.
  307. >”Well, so long as you're proud, who am I to judge?”
  308. >You chuckle and head off to grab a good casual outfit. When you return, you find Emmas sitting on your battered old couch, holding one of the pillows close to her face.
  309. >Her eyes are wide, almost as if in shock.
  310. >”Something wrong?”
  311. >”N-no, of course not! Not like I was sniffing your pillows or anything; that'd be weird, h-haha!”
  312. >...
  313. >”Okay then….”
  314. >You watch as Emmas’ eyes wander over you from head to toe.
  315. >You had decided to go with a button-down shirt with the top few buttons un-clasped and a pair of skinny jeans (Hey! They're super comfy!).
  316. >It's nothing special, but you dig the laid-back look.
  317. >”We still have a little while before dinner, so, uh, did you want to watch a movie or something?”
  318. >Emmas nods in affirmation as you crouch down in front of the television.
  319. >”I got this VHS player a few weeks ago from…. A ‘friend’, and I've got a few tapes for us to watch…
  320. >Emmas’ face lights up when she sees a tape cover with a border collie woman on it.
  321. >”Ooh! What's that movie?”
  322. >”Oh, that old thing? It's a re-release of an old movie called Silver Lining. Pretty damn good if you ask me. I've always been a sucker for the classics.”
  323. >”Let’s watch that.”
  324. >”Alrighty then. Give me one sec…”
  325. >You pop the tape in and finagle the shitty VHS player and TV until they finally, begrudgingly agree to work together.
  326. >Emmas sits right next to you as the old black-and-white movie begins to play. You really forgot how good this movie was.
  327. >”You know, Emmy, this was one of the first movies to give an Otherworlder a leading role in a major motion picture.”
  328. >”No shit! Really?”
  329. >”Yup. A lot of folks didn't like the idea of having her on-screen.”
  330. >You point to the love interest of the story, “Whitney”.
  331. >”But she did such a bang-up job during the casting that they almost immediately signed her up.”
  332. >”Huh. That's pretty cool.”
  333. >Before you know it, the movie is over and the credits are rolling. Emmas claps and hums along with the ending theme, stopping with a little chuckle when you look at her.
  334. >After looking at your watch, you decide it's been long enough, and that it's time to go out to eat.
  335. >”Alright, Emmy, let's get a move on. Wouldn't wanna be too late.”
  336. >The Hellhound leaps from your couch, stretching.
  337. >”Mmmmf~! I sat still too long… I'm stiff.”
  338. >She stretches more vigorously, finally stopping with a satisfied sigh after you hear her back crack. Thank goodness… it was getting hard not to stare at her with all that stretching…
  339. >Once she's settled, it's back to your car once again, this time with the pizzeria as your destination.
  340.  
  341. >Once you set foot inside, your eyes immediately fall on an unwelcome sight:
  342. >Salem, in her own casual wear, sitting at a table and heartily scarfing down a pineapple pizza. The pumpkinhead thankfully hasn't spotted you yet.
  343. >”C’mon, Emmy… let's try to find a seat away from that loon.”
  344. >”Yeah, I don't wanna talk to her right now.”
  345. >You quietly sneak over to a booth that's hidden from Salem’s line of sight. Emmas follows suit, sliding in opposite you.
  346. >The moment you're seated, a waitress dashes up, one who looks kinda familiar…
  347. >”Oh hi, Mike!”
  348. >”W- Marris? What are you doing here?”
  349. >The black dog snickers and shrugs.
  350. >”Hey, what can I say? I needed the extra cash, yeah? Figured this was a good a job as any.”
  351. >”Fair enough.”
  352. >”And who's THIS? Hang on, don't tell me… ‘s on the tip of my tongue, yeah? You're, uh… that Brimstone gal, right?”
  353. >”Ha, I'm impressed you remembered me!”
  354. >”I'll have you know Marris Femur NEVER forgets a face! ...especially when there's a poster right outside the window with your name and mug right on it, nyeheheh!”
  355. >You crack up. You can't help it; her laughter’s always been contagious. Emmas joins in soon, pounding a fist on the table as she cackles.
  356. >Marris continues to snicker while trying to take your orders.
  357. >”O-okay! Nyehehe! What do you guys want to eat?”
  358. >You already know what you want. But you're not sure if Emmas is ready.
  359. >”I'll, uh, take a Bud Light and a large Barbecue Pizza. How about you, Emmy?”
  360. >Once again, a little bit of smoke comes out of her ears as she embarrassingly orders.
  361. >”I-i'll j-just have a large cheese pizza… B-but load it up with LOTS of hot sauce please.”  
  362. >”Oohoohoo! We got someone that likes the spice, yeah? You're in good company, lady. I get the exact same thing!”
  363. >With your orders jotted down, Marris wanders off. You certainly hope she's a better waitress than she is a bartender…
  364. >She returns with your drinks fairly quickly, then vanishes into the restaurant once more.
  365. >You wonder if she thought you wouldn't notice there's a sip missing from your beer… then again, with Marris being… well, Marris, she probably counted on you noticing, the goofy bitch.
  366. >As you sip your drink, you notice Emmas occasionally craning her neck to look around you.
  367. >”...what's the matter?”
  368. >”...hm? Oh, nothing. Just making sure I don't see Salem coming around…”
  369. >You turn around and see what she's staring at immediately.
  370. >Two people are sitting at a table, talking amongst themselves happily. Nothing seems out of the ordinary until you notice their t-shirts.
  371. >”VOTE SALEM SAMHAIN FOR DISTRICT JUDGE!”
  372. >...damn, you hadn't considered shirts. Apparently neither had Emmas. She looks crestfallen at the sight of the two lost voters.
  373. >”H-here. Take a cigarette to keep your mind off of things. As for us, this is just… a, uh, friendly date… and an opportunity for you to enjoy what Placid Knoll has to offer.”
  374. >The Hellhound takes both your and her cancer-sticks and spits a small flame to light them up. You feel a little better after taking a long drag and feeling the menthol roll over your tongue and throat.
  375. >”We, uh, may need to invest in t-shirts though… that's pretty good campaigning.”
  376. >”Yeah…”
  377. >Emmas snorts a little smoke and grins.
  378. >”I'd look better on a shirt than that squash-headed bimbo, right?”
  379. >You put a hand to your chin. You know, with her horns and grin, she DOES have a pretty distinctive look.
  380. >”...yeah, you really would, actually.”
  381. >As the alcohol starts taking its toll (and you continue to wait for the food), you keep each other entertained with silly gestures.
  382. >Playing footsies under the table, seeing Emmy blow fire and smoke rings from her nose, and even getting to know a little more about where she came from.
  383. >”...so lemme see if I got it straight. The Underworld is more than just Hell?”
  384. >”Yep. It's actually pretty damn huge.”
  385. >”Huh. Where exactly are you from then?”
  386. >”Well, uh, Hell. Heheheh.”
  387. >”Pff. That was a stupid question, huh. Where else would a HELLhound be from?”
  388. >She snickers just as Marris finally brings your pizzas. The grinning canine places each of the pies down with a nod.
  389. >”There! You two enjoy, yeah?”
  390. >”Thanks, Marris. ...oh shit, I almost forgot! We have a coupon.”
  391. >You fish out the slip of paper and hand it over. The waitress takes it, looking almost disappointed.
  392. >Emmas sees her frown and leans in closer.
  393. >”Don't think that means we're not gonna tip you.”
  394. >Marris’s frown immediately flips back to a grin as she runs off to redeem the coupon for you.
  395. >You look over to your date.
  396. >”I know this place isn't impressive by any means, but the food here is really freaking good. Let's dig in!”
  397. >You and Emmas ravenously attack your pizzas.
  398. >Every time you come here, you feel as if they somehow make their food better than you remember it being.
  399. >Emmas looks over at your plate.
  400. >”Barbecue pizza? That just sounds weird. Haha!”
  401. >”Don't knock it until you try it, sweetheart.”
  402. >”Alright~”
  403. >You're caught off-guard when she aggressively leans over the table and snatches the slice right of your hand with her teeth. Smirking, Emmas devours the piece of barbecue pizza, then licks her lips.
  404. >”Hey! I didn't mean right now!”
  405. >”Heheh, don't be such a baby~!”
  406. >...maybe it's the beer giving you ideas, but you feel the need to lean over the table and playfully flick her on the nose like she's a regular, misbehaving dog.
  407. >”Bad girl!”
  408. >To your utter shock, Emmas IMMEDIATELY blushes bright red, with smoke rising from her ears. She just giggles sheepishly, even though you expected snark or, at worst, a drunken swing.
  409. >”D-don't do that, Mikey! ...P-people might see… Wait until later.”
  410. >”...l-later?”
  411. >She winks mysteriously.
  412. >...did this somehow become a real date when you weren't looking? The hell happened?
  413. >”...w-well we might as well keep eating…”
  414. >You both sneak glances at each other while you continue to silently eat. Occasionally, you'll see her poke at a piece of your meal.
  415. >You don't stop her…
  416. >Actually, you eventually just start feeding each other your own food.
  417. >By the time you two are finished, you both are a cheesy, giggling mess.
  418. >”Hey, Marris, mind if we get a dessert to go?”
  419. >Your old friend nods and runs back into the kitchen for your bill and a small little treat for the both of you.
  420. >After paying for the dessert and leaving Marris a nice tip, the two of you leave the restaurant, arm in arm.
  421. >”See? Told ya this place was good.”
  422. >”Heheh, yeah… you weren't kidding! Thanks, Mikey.”
  423. >You both hop in your car and you begin to drive.
  424. >”So, uh, did you want to have dessert at your place or mine?”
  425. >A little wicked smile comes across your companion's face.
  426. >”Ooh! Tiger’s already on the prowl for a cute little pussycat?”
  427. >”N-no, we bought dessert, remember?”
  428. >Emmas huffs and pouts.
  429. >”Fine. Get me all excited for nothing…”
  430. >You want to just take the bait and run with it…
  431. >Just like cats, you know hounds love a little playtime too.
  432. >Fuck, please don't spill your spaghetti everywhere. Especially not on your first fucking day on the job.
  433. >”M-maybe if Emmy plays her cards right, she’ll get to play with another bone in the near future…”
  434. >You hear a few huffs as her pupils dilate and her tongue lolls out of her mouth a little.
  435. >As you pull into her driveway, you walk her back into her house and open the little cake Marris packed for the both of you.
  436. >It's devil's food cake, of course. Marris and her puns, you swear...
  437. >You take a small spoonful and bring it up to Emmas’ mouth, to which she daintily accepts.
  438. You take turns feeding both yourself and her. You soon find yourself laying on her plush couch, with her on top of you.
  439. >You keep giving her little bites of the cake until it’s completely gone.
  440. >”Aww. Looks like I'm out…”
  441. >A glint in your date's eyes hints that she's up so some shenanigan as she shifts herself, sitting on top of your pelvis.
  442. >”There's one more bite I'm willing to take.”
  443. >Without warning, the Hellhound plants her lips on yours. You can taste the hot sauce from her pizza as well as the cake from just a few minutes ago…
  444. >Her strong arms hold you down as you moan into her mouth. She gently bites your lower lip and pulls herself away from the saucy kiss.
  445. >”There! All done!”
  446. >You reel back, dazed from the kiss.
  447. >W-wasn't this just supposed to be a friendly thing? Not an actual date?
  448. >...
  449. >Fuck it. She's a damn good kisser, why question how you got here so fast.
  450. >Emmas lets your hands graze her washboard abs as she slides off of you and lets you up from the couch.
  451. >”Tonight was… a lot of fun. I hope we can do something like this again soon.”
  452. >You give her a quick kiss on the corner of her mouth.
  453. >”I'm sure I can pencil something in on your schedule.”
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