forum Bury Me Face Down - (O/O) STALKERS WELCOME
Started by @Exis

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Isla barely stepped into the basement, fighting with the bottle top, when she heard the sound of something knock into something else. Normally that wouldn't bother her down here. Plenty of things did that, but this was too quick to be just something falling, and it didn't have enough noise with it.

Church of Reapers, was there someone down here with her?

She sighed loudly, pausing in her fight as she spun in a slow circle. Years of training for situations like this left her with various guesses as to what the noise could be. But first, she had to rule out the possibility of someone being down here. "Is someone here?" Isla called out calmly, once again rubbing her eye with the palm of her hand, "Come out and I won't kill you right away. I'll at least hear you through. Hiding from me will just seal your fate as is."

There was no way she wanted to kill anyone else right now. If anyone answered her that was. If she ended up finding them…she couldn't make the same promise. They would get exactly what they deserved then. Plus some, for interrupting her only time of peace and quiet.


Dante shut his eyes for a moment, cursing himself for his stupidity. He briefly considered staying in his hiding place, but he had a feeling her threat was no empty promise. At least if he showed himself, he might be able to buy enough time to figure out a plan.

The teen slowly shuffled out from underneath the relative safety of the desk. He stood just as slowly, holding his hands out to the side in an effort to show he wasn't armed.

"Won't kill me right away, huh? Do Reapers target the homeless now, too?" he asked, forcing his voice to remain steady. If he played it right, if he was lucky, he might be able to escape before she fully realized what he was. Of course, that depended on whether or not she had been sent specifically for him, but he was fairly confident she hadn't been. At the very least, she didn't seem to expect company.


Hiding the pride that shone in her for guessing that someone was in here, she watched the young man crawl out from under the desk. She watched him with a cool, blank look, making no effort to move from where she stood. He looked young. Probably around her age, or somewhere close. If she killed him, it would chalk her up to three murders in two days.

Sighing, she shook her head, then waved her bottle, "I don't target the homeless unless they're marked. I'm here for a break, not to murder someone else."

Isla glanced at his covered wrist, searching for any sign that he was someone she would have to kill. He didn't flinch away from her gaze, and he had come out when she said, both things that a marked usually wouldn't do. Maybe she was going to get lucky. Maybe he was clear and she would either be able to scare him off or offer for him to join her for a drink. From the look of him, he could use one just as much as she could.

With her hair out of its bun and her normally crisp uniform stained with blood, it was hard to tell if she looked thoroughly exhausted, or if she looked like she was going to stab him. Isla turned back to trying to open the bottle as she asked, "Why are you down here? The homeless normally take to the streets during the day. It's easier to make money that way."


Dante noticed the flicker of her eyes, but kept his stare fixed on her, letting his arms fall as if he believed he was no longer in danger.

"Then we have no quarrel," he replied, feigning a tone of relief and forcing his stance to relax. "I'm here to hide from a band of looters that I made the mistake of stealing from," he explained. He was being truthful there—he had made a mistake in stealing from some looters, and he had the bruises to prove it. He was lucky most of them were Marked, too and took pity, or Dante probably wouldn't be alive.

"I found this place a month ago," he continued, looking around the room for emphasis before his eyes eventually settled back on the Reaper, specifically the bottle of alcohol in her hand. "I didn't think anyone else knew about it, but then, I don't stay here often."

He hoped admitting he'd been stealing hadn't been too incriminating, since looters were an enemy to the Church. Probably something to with the fact that most of them were Marked ones working together in an effort to survive. An insult to the Church, really.


She wrinkled her nose at the mention of looters, sparing him a glance. They irritated her, always getting in the way and never just accepting their fate. Plus, they were one of the groups that opposed the Church, and in turn, her. Isla was actually glad they had been stolen from. "They're nasty lowlives, probably won't stick around here much longer if they know what's best for them. If that is a relief at all."

Finally, the top of the bottle came off with a little more prying and she continued to speak as she tucked the cap into one of her many pockets. "Well, I'm the only one that uses this place. And I really only come here when I need a break. So, I suppose you can stay here if you need it, and if you don't make a mess."

Isla took a sip of her drink as she finished, the burning sensation left in her throat being a comforting feeling. It was a sign that she actually had the time to drink, even if she did have company.

She nodded to the door, then at the desk as she pulled at her few buttons at the top of her shirt. Popping one, her collar became looser and she was instantly more relieved, though she was careful to leave the rest closed. "Well, I suppose now is the time to ask you to scram for the time being, or join me for a drink."


The seventeen year old nodded at her halfhearted attempt to console him, suppressing a shudder at the tone of her voice. She wasn’t wrong, exactly, but she did appear to overestimate their ability to survive—everyone in the group that had been giving him trouble had been killed off by a pair of Reapers the day prior. Betrayed by one of their own, according to the rumor.

He refocused on the Reaper’s hands as she finally managed to open the bottle of alcohol, listening to her proposal. Dante smiled a little sheepishly in response, giving as sincere of a thanks as he could muster while knowing full well he’d never return to the place. Except maybe to try and gather his things, when he was absolutely sure no one was there. After all, he couldn’t very well leave with a bundle of blankets tucked under his arm after basically agreeing to share the space. He’d already pushed his luck enough with this encounter—he didn’t need to raise anymore red flags.

“I appreciate the offer, but I wouldn’t want to…intrude…any more than I have,” he answered, unable to conceal the nervous flicker of his eyes as he glanced at the door. He didn’t even have time to appreciate the irony of what he said (really, he was there first), before he was nodding his goodbye and ducking past the Reaper, eyes fixed on freedom.


Isla simply shrugged in response, calmly adding, "Suit yourself. Don't worry, I won't rat you out for being down here if this whole…situation…isn't brought up." She motioned to the bottle in her hands and cracked a tiny smile, watching him leave. The flicker of nerves in his eyes made her frown as she watched him leave, but she still didn't stop him.

People being nervous around her wasn't uncommon. And she chalked his quick exit to just that. A marked normally would've scattered the moment she got close after all, and he hadn't done that. He had talked to her, and that at least made her think he was safe.

Instead of overthinking it though, she just shrugged and walked over to the desk, unbothered by its creaking as she sat down on top of it. She didn't have a lot of time to drink, and she planned on using every moment she could. By the end, it was her goal to be drunk enough not to remember killing a child today.

She flicked her eyes closed while tipping the bottle to her mouth again, this time not hesitating to drink as much as she could. This was going to be a calming night.


(Sorry for the long response lmao, don't worry about matching the length or anything)

Dante paused briefly on the stairs. "Thanks," he said, shifting his weight as his brain screamed at him to leave. "Even if I had anyone to tell, I wouldn't." And that was true enough, he thought as he left, moving at a normal pace until he'd left the building. He had nothing to gain by reporting her except an enemy with a grudge.

About a week later…

Dante shivered a little at the cold air, pulling his coat tighter around himself as he watched the streets below. It wasn’t exactly easy sticking to the rooftops, but ever since his spot at the warehouse had been compromised, this had been his safest option for avoiding people during the day.

He’d had ample time to reflect on his encounter with the Reaper from last week, and all of his thinking had brought him to one conclusion: She’d let him go. Any other Reaper would’ve immediately checked to see if he was Marked, but she let herself believe his half-truth—and Dante didn’t even realize until he was three blocks away.

Which begged the question—why? The teen supposed it had something to do with the bottle of alcohol in her hand. If he tried to see from the perspective of a Reaper, he imagined not all of them were happy with murdering people all day. Surely that kind of a life would weigh on your conscience? At least to the point that killing someone you weren't assigned to was too much of a hassle. That's what he liked to think, at least.

He sighed, letting his thoughts be interrupted as he followed the movement of someone on the streets beneath him. He gazed emptily for a moment at the figure, before his brain decided to catch up and let him know what he was seeing.

“Speak of the devil,” he muttered to himself in disbelief as he recognized the Reaper plaguing his thoughts. He sank lower to the rooftop, making himself a harder target to spot if she decided to look up, and watched with a mix of fear and curiosity. Is she looking for me? was his first thought, but he dismissed it quickly. He’d been very careful to avoid everyone these past few days, sticking to the shadows and keeping his face and wrist carefully covered.

“Coincidence, then,” he mused quietly, his eyes tracking every movement of the young woman.

He was about to return from the edge of the roof and leave rather than risk being seen when another movement down the street caught his eye. He turned and squinted to see what it was, the small flurry of snow that had begun to fall making it quite difficult.

More out of caution than anything else, Dante began to channel the smallest amount of magic, focusing on sharpening his eyes. He quickly determined that, whoever the person that had begun to trail the Reaper, they weren’t good news.

Dante must have used more magic than he anticipated, because from where he was he could even make out the mark on the man’s wrist. It was bright red—recent. Why the person wasn’t trying to cover it was beyond the teen, but he watched with quiet anticipation as the person edged closer and closer to the Reaper. Then the person drew a blade, and Dante stiffened.

This kind of attack was more common than one might think, where newly marked people will try and take down a Reaper with them. Some called it the 'Kamikaze Mentality.' Dante didn’t really understand the point—they just get themselves killed faster that way—but regardless, it was none of his business. On the off chance the guy did manage to get the drop a trained assassin, it was one less Reaper he had to worry about. Even if he didn’t like it, interfering would only risk exposing himself.

Hell, the Reaper probably already knew she was being followed, anyway. Almost certainly, if she was trained with magic. There was absolutely no reason for him to get involved—the guy was going to get himself killed either way.

And yet, the Reaper had spared him, however unknowingly. He couldn’t very well go about his life feeling this irrational sense of debt towards someone who would almost certainly kill him if given the chance.

He sighed again, then glanced at the blankets he’d retrieved from the warehouse. Losing one wouldn’t hurt. Probably.

He grabbed one and waited for the to-be attacker to reach the spot beneath him, then, sucking in a breath, shouted, “Hey!” and tossed the blanket over the side.

The man flinched in surprise and almost slipped on the frozen ground, looking up in time to see the blanket fluttering down towards him. Dante hoped his panicked brain wouldn’t have time to identify what it was before the Reaper could act.


(Gotta say now, before I forget, I love your writing style, also I hope this wasn't too gruesome…I actually had quite a lot of motivation to write)

It had been an entire week since she had been at the warehouse, and yet the encounter from that day was still plaguing her brain. She had let the kid live, that much Isla didn't regret at all, but it surprised her that he actually hadn't ratted her out. Most people would tattle in an instant to try to get her position as a Reaper taken away. But he hadn't.

Isla gritted her teeth, watching fluffy snow fall harder, landing on her coat, shoes, hair, just settling anywhere it could.

Those thoughts were the least of her worry though as she pulled her black coat further around herself. She had just finished another killing, though this one was much less quick than a quick slit of the throat. Just thinking of death made her shudder. It had been a girl no older than she was, a mark on her wrist blacker than night. With a mark that dark she had been ordered to make it drawn out and painful. She had begged the entire time to let her go, that or just make it quick. And as much as Isla wanted to, she couldn't. She shuddered again, this time at the memory of the warm, sticky blood coating her hands and the silence when she had finished. Days like these were the worst.

With her head lost in her thoughts, she hadn't noticed the figure following her. Much less the blade in his hand. It would've been the perfect opportunity to stab her if, at that moment a voice hadn't jolted her out of her thoughts.

She jumped at the voice, whirling around in one smooth motion to meet eyes with the man behind her. It didn't take her more than a moment longer to glance at his wrist, then at his knife and it took her even less time to piece the facts together.

Isla drew her favorite weapon out of the case at her side, a slightly curved silver blade, not even marred with a speckle of blood. She didn't want to kill this man. In fact, she was looking for every opportunity not to, but he had put himself in a position even she couldn't ignore it. At least she could tell herself that his death was going to be quick and painless. And as her body took over control, it clearly was.

She took two silent steps towards him using his panic to swipe his feet out from under him with a well-placed kick, eyes blank and cold as the air around. Still, she didn't strike until she made eye contact when he fell, quickly and efficiently swiping her blade across his neck. He didn't do more than try to gasp when her blade made contact. Then he dropped back to the ground, red blood already spilling onto the ground.

It was enough to make her sigh once her mind took back the reigns from her body. His blood was already mixing with the light snowfall on the ground, melting the snowflakes whenever it made contact. Another dead to add to her list.

She shook her head, then glanced up when she remembered just why she hadn't ended up dead. Someone had shouted. Isla scanned the top of the roofs as she looked for someone, only tapping into her powers when she couldn't easily see someone. Who in the world would help a Reaper kill?


(Thank you so much! I've actually been really out of practice lately, so it's nice to hear some feedback. I'm honestly impressed by your level of writing, too. It's not often I see someone write with such attention to detail! And don't worry about it—there's honestly probably going to be some worse gore in the future at some point.)

Dante turned away the moment he saw the Reaper jump into action. As much death as he had seen over the course of his life, watching never got any easier. And there was another feeling wrestling with his repulsion, one that took him several long moments to recognize—guilt. Of course he felt guilty, he'd just condemned a man to death to save someone who'd go on to kill dozens more. Still, he wasn't expecting the emotion to be so…visceral.

He winced at the brief sound of a struggle, and again at the faint squelching sound that signified the deed was done. His eyes automatically darted to his concealed wrist, and he quickly blinked away the tears he hadn't realized had begun to accumulate. He'd made his decision—he wouldn't let himself regret it now. After all, the man was doomed the moment he was Marked, same as him. The only difference was his time came sooner.

He took a deep breath, then peered over the edge of the roof again, freezing when he made eye contact with the Reaper. Stupid! he scolded himself. Of course she's looking for whoever shouted, and the blanket didn't come from nowhere! He shut his eyes for a brief second, attempting to recollect himself before engaging in yet another life-threatening encounter with the Reaper. After a moment, he opened them and offered a sheepish wave, pointedly ignoring the red stain in his peripheral vision.

"Funny seeing you here," he called. "Sorry if I, uh…startled you," he added, unsure of what to say or how to react to what he'd done.


(Aw thank you, I really try. It's much easier to do more detail the longer the responses are, but i feel weird replying with super long snippets unless the other person starts it off)

Isla locked eyes with him the moment she could make out his figure on the roof. "I suppose I owe you a thank you, even though you did startle me," She called back calmly, "As long as you're not planning on killing me yourself that is."

She wiped off her blade as she talked, thankful that the dark material of her pants didn't let the blood show much. At least that was a perk. The sharp blade then quickly was put back into its case at her side. She glanced over at the body of the male, sighing, then calmly stepping over him and nudging the discarded blanket with her foot. There was nothing she could do about his death now.

"Do you need this back?" She called, tipping her head up to look at him again.

Isla waited patiently for his answer, an odd mix of being too hot and freezing settling into her. At least this feeling was usual. She hated killing more people than she was assigned, and any time she did so, this same feeling washed over her. And so she just chalked it up to being frustrated with her job. She wasn't exactly allowed to mourn the death of the ones she killed after all, so saying it was that was out of the question. Even if deep inside she knew that it was it.


Maybe it was the distance between them giving him a false sense of security, or maybe it was the lack of sleep he'd been getting recently. Either way, he couldn't help the way he rolled his eyes at her response. "If I wanted you dead, I wouldn't have done anything about…" he trailed off suddenly, eyes flickering to the horizon as he gestured vaguely towards the body. To look directly was another level of admittance that he was the reason for it. One he wasn't quite ready for. He breathed in deeply, the cold burning his lungs, before looking at the Reaper again.

Noticing the blanket at her feet and the question that hung in the air, Dante quietly shook his head. The memory associated with it now wasn't worth the extra layer of protection from the weather. "Nah, I'm good," he said instead of what he was thinking, a small, false smile on his lips. Realizing he'd never severed his flow of magic, he quickly stopped drawing upon it, blinking a few times as his eyes readjusted to the fuzziness of normal human vision.

God, this is awkward. What do you say to someone who'd kill you if she saw your mark? he thought, shifting his weight uncomfortably on the roof. It's not like he could just leave after that… could he? She'd have questions, and it'd be suspicious of him to try and dodge them. Plus, he had questions—risky ones, but questions nevertheless.

"So," he started awkwardly, playing with his hands in his lap. "Nice weather we're having." Ah yes, dry humor. Everyone's favorite, thought, rolling his eyes inwardly this time.


"I suppose, though I know people who would kill someone just to stop them from murdering a Reaper they want the pleasure of killing themselves," She called up, relying on her enhanced vision to see him. What she said was true too, and she had the joyous pleasure of seeing exactly that happen.

Isla didn't allow that new train of thought to sweep her away though, instead turning her attention to the blanket. If the mystery man didn't want his blanket back, then she was going to put it to better use. She picked it up, shaking off the light layer of snow before respectfully laying it over the body, covering his face especially. If she was the cause of his death, she was now in charge of making sure his body was respected after death. And that meant covering him as best she could.

She glanced up at him as the deed was finished, cracking her own fake smile and a matching laugh as she replied, "I suppose it's not horrible." That was a flat out lie. Isla hated the snow, especially the inconsistent flurries that currently fell from the sky. "How did your looters problem end up turning out? I suppose they didn't find you in the warehouse?"


Dante watched in mild surprise at the Reaper covered the Marked man's body, but he elected not to comment. It wasn't often he saw such a display of respect from a Reaper, but as he realized earlier, that kind of lifestyle couldn't be easy on the conscience. The few deaths he'd played a part in were enough to keep him awake at night as it was, although he'd never had a choice in the matter until today.

Pushing that line of thought to the back of his mind, he refocused on the situation at hand in time to hear her laugh. A wry smile slipped onto his face at the sound, although it quickly faded at her question. He sighed in exasperation. "Those looters didn't find me. There were a couple more that followed me back the next day, but I managed to get away. They did take my food, though," he replied, his tone sour at the end. He never liked encounters with looters, but being forced to give up his food to them simply because they outnumbered him and one had stronger magic, really sucked. He supposed it could've been worse—Reaper's could have followed him back, instead. Still, finding food as a Marked was difficult. He couldn't exactly enter shops, and begging was both humiliating and just as dangerous, as the homeless were always searched because of the percentage of Marked that were on the streets. He only ever managed to get food through stealing or rooting through trash.

Realizing he'd been quiet for a few seconds longer than socially acceptable, he quickly added, "Just a heads up, since they might go back to the warehouse at some point. It's why I moved." Just not the only why, he added mentally.

"How have you been since…ya know," he asked, tilting a cupped hand back to represent drinking.


Isla frowned as he spoke. Maybe it wasn't the same group of looters, but some had tormented him anyway. Normally she wouldn't feel a shred of remorse for the homeless male, but he had just saved her life in a sense, and he hadn't tattled on her drinking. She nodded to show that she acknowledged him speaking, then, after sighing, motioned for him to come down from the roof.

"Here, let's go. I'm getting you something to eat. Think of it as a thank you for saving me from being stabbed."

She couldn't help but crack an actual tiny smile at his next question, blinking away the enhanced magic vision and squinting up at him while she replied with a shrug, "Eh, I suppose I'm slightly better. Though tonight calls for another drink."

Two kills in a night weren't anywhere near the most she had killed at once, but it was two more than she really wanted to kill at the moment. Especially the death of the girl earlier. The man at her feet had deserved everything coming to him, but the girl had been ratted out by who Isla assumed was her girlfriend or a close friend. That death was brutal and bloody, deserving of another drink.


The teen's blood seem to freeze at the statement. "Wh-What? You don't need to—that's not necessary," he said, stumbling over his words as his mind struggled to come up with an excuse. There was no sensible reason to turn her down. Any other homeless person would jump at the offer. But for him? To willingly walk into a place that sold anything was suicide. They always checked customers for marks except—well…except for Reapers. Would walking in with a Reaper exempt him?

It was too stupid of an idea for him to properly consider it. Even if it did, there was no guarantee he would be able to hide his mark the entire time from the one offering. He should turn her down by all means necessary—but that would be suspicious. What homeless person would refuse a free meal, let alone one who'd just confessed that his food had been stolen? Only one who had something to hide. Something to hide from a Reaper. It wouldn't take much to connect the dots.

He could try to run, but that would almost certainly get him killed. If she was trained in magic—doubtful considering how she hadn't acted before him in regards to her would-be attacker—it would be a laughing matter to catch him before he escaped. Even if she wasn't able to catch him, she'd be on the look out. She'd tell the other Reapers, and he wouldn't last a day with all of them looking for someone with his description.

He grappled with his fear for too long—he almost missed her response to his earlier question. What did he ask her again? Dante offered a weak smile in response, trying to cover up his anxiety and hoping she couldn't read all the telltale signs from her place on the ground. He didn't have any more time to mull his options over. There was only one route he could take that wouldn't instantly get him killed or found out, and besides—she wasn't asking.

He reluctantly left his perch on the roof, latching onto a pipe and sliding down. He landed a littler harder than he'd intended, aggravating a few of his bruises, but he ignored the mild throbbing and walked around the side of the building to meet the Reaper face-to-face. He left his blankets there—if he was still alive after tonight, he could come back for them. He doubted anyone would find them on top of a roof, anyways.

"I don't even know your name," he said to her, shifting his weight awkwardly and adjusting his coat against the cold.


Isla had pulled her hood up as she waited patiently, oblivious to the battle going on in his head. She couldn't care less about that, and her mind was already on the subject of food. Where could they go to eat? Somewhere relatively nice was most likely going to make him nervous, but she didn't exactly want to stop at a convenience store to get something either. She supposed the only viable option was going to be somewhere in between. Maybe a little bit less fancy restaurant. Somewhere that he could get a hot meal but it wouldn't cost her an arm and a leg to pay for.

"Isla. Isla Smyth. Do you always get this personal with Reapers?" She calmly replied once he was at least near her. Glancing over at him, she pulled a faint smile onto her face, then nodded to him, "And you?"

Stuffing her hands into her pocket, she bounced on her toes to keep warm, face slipping back to the neutral calm every Reaper wore. They would have to hurry if they wanted to get to any restaurant before they closed, or at least to get there a polite time before close.


Dante barked out a laugh at that—he couldn't help it. He blamed his nerves. "Never, actually. You guys are pretty terrifying," he replied honestly. He was a little surprised that she actually introduced himself, but then, he realized, she didn't have anyone to hide from. The thought made him a little envious, but he brushed it off and met her eyes as he deliberated. He'd already put himself in this much danger—he might as well go all out.

"…I'm Dante. Vitali," he added, a hint of something sad in his voice. It'd been a while since he'd said his last name. It reminded him of his family. "I'd shake your hand, but…" He glanced to her hands in her coat pockets and then to his in a similar state, then shrugged. "It's nice to meet you—properly, this time."

He paused, then cleared his throat a little uncomfortably. "You know, you don't need to get me food. It's been a couple days since the looters thing, and I've managed to find some here and there," he lied. Please decide against it, he chanted inwardly.


“I suppose we are now that I think about it. Might have something to do with our jobs,” She replied, actually getting out a tiny laugh, “Anyway, it’s nice to formally meet you too, Dante.” It wasn’t hard for her to hear the sadness in his voice, but she didn’t bring it up. He had things on his mind, and she wasn’t going to pry.

Isla nodded him to walk beside her as she stepped over the body of the male and shook her head, “It’s not a big deal, I’m going to pay you back some way for helping me and this is how I’m going to do so.”

She walked down the sidewalk calmly, seemingly unbothered by leaving a dead body laying in the middle of the sidewalk. One of the carts would come by and pick him up when they came by, but she wasn’t in charge of that, so she left it. And after all, they had to get to a restaurant before they all closed.

“Now, are you allergic to anything? Does pasta sound good?”


Dante stared after her for a moment before remembering he was supposed to be walking with her. He took a silent breath and followed until he was next to her, being sure to stay on her left side so she couldn't easily grab ahold of his Marked wrist if she decided she wanted to. Not that she'd showed any indication of it, but it was better to be at least somewhat safe in a situation like this.

He shook his head at her question, staring at the ground as they moved. He ignored the pleading twisting of his stomach at the thought of an actual warm meal, trying not to let his hunger outweigh his logic. "I'm not allergic to anything, and pasta sounds great," he added out loud. Thank God, or surviving out here would be ten times harder, he thought to himself.

"But you know just offering to let me stay in the warehouse was enough, right? Rather than spending money on some homeless dude? Not that I don't appreciate it," he rambled, halfway hoping she'd tire of his talking and call the whole thing off.


Isla paused for a minute as she made the decision of where to eat, deciding on a family-run Italian restaurant a few blocks away. She regularly visited there, and they wouldn't give her trouble about checking her wrist like some of the larger places would. One of the only upsides of being a Reaper. She didn't normally have to go through the hassle of having her wrist checked when she went anywhere.

"Dante, shh," She finally said, shaking her head, "I'm buying you food. Whether you like it or not. You saved me, and so I'm repaying you in the simplest way I can. Don't tell me you're going to turn down a good warm meal in this weather?"

Yes, she had only known Dante for a combined total of no more than an hour, but she felt obligated to help. It wasn't every day that she actually got to help someone instead of killing them. After all, most homeless avoided her, for obvious reasons of course. Plus, shelling out a few dollars wasn't going to hurt her financially. And as her mind wandered further into the topic, she realized that it was going to be the first time she would eat all day. Which was a bonus.

All they had to do now was get to the restaurant. Without freezing their fingers off from the cold and without being buried in the flurries of snow.


"No, I… I suppose not," he finally relented, seeing no other way to get out of it. It'd be stupid for him to continue pushing—arguably more stupid than just going along with it. Best case scenario he'd finally get some food in his belly. He didn't really want to think about worst case any more than he already had.

"About…saving you," he started hesitantly, sneaking a glance at the Reaper before fixing it on the street again. "Did I really? I thought you would've seen him already," he admitted. "He wasn't exactly subtle. Although that could've just been 'cause I was on the roof."

Dante briefly retrieved his hands, blowing warm air on them and rubbing them together before stuffing them back into his pockets. He'd only had to live through this kind of weather once on the streets before—and that had been spent living in someone's attic without them knowing. I'll have to find somewhere else this year, he mused. If I survive the night, that is.


"It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I wasn't exactly paying attention to who was by me," She replied, shrugging, "I had other things on my mind. And I suppose maybe you would've just saved me the hassle of being stabbed if he was slow enough. Though yes, you did save my life."

Isla didn't like to admit that she wasn't paying attention, but it wasn't a huge secret. Most of the time she was paying perfect attention to her surroundings, using her magic, even just watching people. But recently, she had been sucked into her thoughts more often than not. And she couldn't exactly pinpoint why. Reapers weren't supposed to feel remorse for the deaths they caused, they weren't supposed to mourn their victims, and yet she was doing both. And she had almost been killed because of it.

Realizing that she had been silent for a little too long, she spoke up again, sparing a glance at her new acquaintance, "It's not much farther. Just around the corner and up the block. Any ideas on what you want to get? They have a lot to choose from."


Dante hummed in acknowledgement that she spoke, his thoughts already running wild at the information. Sure, he'd acted with the intention to help, but to know he'd actually made a difference made him feel the slightest bit better about the man's death. He wondered if his family would approve or if they would fail to understand because it'd been a Reaper he saved. "I'm glad, then," he replied softly, so softly he wasn't sure if she'd heard.

He suddenly wondered what she thought of him. This random homeless boy she'd found hiding in her drinking spot, one she hadn't bothered checking for reasons unconfirmed. The random homeless boy she'd willingly let slip through the cracks, only to have him show up a week later and distract her would-be murderer with the intent of keeping her alive, for reasons even Dante didn't know how to put into words.

He quietly sighed, reminding himself it didn't matter what she thought of him as long as it wasn't anything to do with a mark.

He looked back at Isla in time to make eye contact, which he quickly broke. He breathed out a laugh and shook his head at her question. "Literally anything sounds good, and I don't even know where we're going," he responded, focusing on his shoes as they crunched through the thin layer of snow starting to accumulate on the ground. "You learn not to be a picky eater when you've been on the streets this long."


Isla nodded, his response bringing up questions she had, even though they were a little prying. "How long have you lived on the streets?" She asked, glancing at him again. The question wasn't terribly out of place, considering it was just going further on his response, but she knew it was personal. Most people wouldn't answer it and she was going to be surprised if Dante did.

The sign for the restaurant was in view as they rounded the corner, as well as a signature red awning outside of the building, keeping snow from piling too close to the door. It didn't look anywhere near fancy, but Isla knew from experience that they served the best Italian food in the city. Which she was currently craving more than anything. And best of all, they respected her position as a Reaper while treating her like a human. They didn't ask to see her wrist, but talked to her, made small talk that most others wouldn't even consider. It was one of the only places that she had found that would also let her sneak a glass of wine if the place was empty.

She nodded to it as she flexed her hands in her pocket. Hopefully he would like it. She frowned a little at the thought of worrying what her companion thought. Why did she even care? He was simply a homeless person whom happened to help her, and in return she was buying him food. He was nothing more to her. Nothing less to her.