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Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

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"We went out the other night," Ghoul says, "And we talked,"

He squeezes the sponge out into the bucket, turning the water a murky brown, before getting to work on the car's nearest window.

"And it was chill, I guess," He continues, brow furrowed as he scrubs hard at a particularly stubborn dried-up stain of Witch-knows-what, "Don't think he wants to ghost me all that much anymore."

He stops to observe his work, then drops the damp sponge in the sand and sits back.

"And hey," Fingers tracing vague patterns over the hot, dusty ground, Ghoul's lips tip up at the corner just enough for Kobra to notice,
"I don't think I wanna ghost him all that much, either,"

"Awww," Kobra jabs Ghoul in the cheek, "Look at you two not wantin' to disembowel eachother with ya bare 'ands anymore!"

Grinning fully now, Ghoul shoves Kobra hard enough to actually make him topple over a bit,

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. But anyway, what I was saying was, he hasn't spoken to me since. And I ain't saying I'm suprised or anything - like, whether or not he wants to rip out my throat like an angry coyote, he's Poison, and I wouldn't expect Poison to come and sit down for a nice chat at his own will,"

"As Jet an' I 'ave said, it takes a while for 'im to warm up to people," Kobra replies. He sits back on his elbows, stretching his legs out in front, his expression pensive.
"But also," He says quietly, "I think he's got a lot on 'is mind righ' now,"

He says it like it's something particular, and naturally, Ghoul's intrigued.

"Like what?"

"Stuff," Is Kobra's enigmatic reply.

"Stuff?" Ghoul repeats blankly.

"Yeah. Can't say much," He stands up, brushing his jeans down as if to mark the end of the conversation, "Wish I could - y'know that. You'll find out soon, fingers crossed, bu' until then, I can't tell. Sorry, dude,"

Ghoul's face screws up as Kobra gives his hair a rough tousle before heading inside. And, curiousity still nipping at his mind, Ghoul follows.

"C'mon, man! You can drop a hint, right?"

"No can do," Kobra unscrews a large bottle of water and takes a quick swig, before dumping some on his head. The redness instantly seeps out of his cheeks,
"Ah, fuck," He murmurs, "That's good."

"Dude," Ghoul whines, placing his hands on the edge of the counter and sliding himself up onto it.

"Can't do it,"

"Dude," Ghoul draws out the word as he reclines on the counter, pulling puppy eyes on Kobra, but all he's given is a snort and a shake of the head.

"You can make all the ridiculous faces," Kobra retorts, "It don't change nothin',"

Ghoul sticks out his bottom lip as if to test that statement out, and Kobra shakes his head again, before he sighs and smooths over his soaked hair, darkened a shade or so by the water.

"A'ight, I'll tell ya one thing," He says, and Ghoul sits up with a face like a kid in a candy shop, "The reason I can't tell ya right now because if I do that b'fore the decision's been made, ya might be disappointed,"

"Fuck," Ghoul groans, "That just makes it worse!"

At that moment Jet walks in, wiping sweat off his forehead with a grey rag that was likely white at some point and dropping a screwdriver on the counter beside Ghoul's leg.

"Oh, great," He remarks, looking between the boys in amusement, "Kobra, what've you done to him?"

"Nothin'!" Kobra throws his hands up defensively, "All I said was that I can't tell 'im what decision's bein' made righ' now, 'cause 'e might get his hopes up too fast,"

Jet sighs as he turns to Kobra, "Did ya really have to tell him that much?"

"Oh, come on," Ghoul slides off the counter, his tone serious now, "You guys genuinely think you can go around being all secretive and shit for a week and I won't pick up on it? I know y'all well enough by now to detect that something's up,"

He folds his arms, eyeing the two Killjoys with his mouth drawn into a tight line.

"Ghoul..." Jet trails off as soon as he starts, rubbing his neck with guilt in his eyes.

They both want to tell him, and Ghoul knows it. But if they can't, then he'll have to get his answers from another source.

"It's fine," He mumbles, scratching his hair, "Don't worry,"

He leaves the room quickly, keeping his eyes ahead.

There aren't too many rooms in the diner, so his search isn't a long one. In fact, it's only after he pushes open the second door he comes to - a makeshift lounge, it looks like - that he finds the guy he's looking for.

It seems Poison's lost in thought, sitting on the sofa with the end of a biro between his teeth. The pen doesn't work - hasn't held a drop of ink since the day he found it, it seems its sole purpose is for him to chew on whilst he's thinking.

He doesn't notice Ghoul at first, or perhaps he just chooses to pretend that. Ghoul coughs in the hope of grabbing his attention, and it works, for a second. Poison glances at Ghoul, then back at the window. He draws the pen away from his lips just long enough to speak.

"What is it?"

Although he hadn't been expecting much, Ghoul's heart sinks just a little at the brusque greeting. He tries not to show it, clearing his throat and leaning coolly against the doorframe.

"You've either been ignoring me or outright avoiding me all week," Ghoul retorts, "That's what it is,"

He continues in a half mumble when Poison turns back around, lowering the pen again,

"I thought we'd sorted shit out that night, that's all,"
He looks at the floor, so he misses the fleeting look on Poison's face. It's something sad - regretful, perhaps.

"Come sit," Poison breathes, resting his forehead on the heel of his hand. Ghoul obliges, taking up the other half of the sofa but leaving a space between them which could easily fit another person.

"You look like shit."
The words sounded very different in Ghoul's head and he only realises that when Poison raises a brow.

"Damn, thanks," He mutters.

"No, no," Ghoul curses himself internally, "I just mean you look  exhausted."

"That's 'cause I am fuckin' exhausted," Poison runs his fingers through his hair, then looks at Ghoul apologetically. Only quickly, though - not gonna risk injuring his ego, Ghoul thinks, but then he feels bad.

"I've just... I've had a lot on my mind recently, I guess," Poison confesses after a while.

As Kobra's told me - or hasn't, Ghoul grimaces at the thought.

"You've found time to talk to Kobra and Jet, though," Ghoul replies, maybe slightly bitterly, picking at a loose thread in his jeans.

"Missed talkin' to me, did ya?" Poison manages a smirk, and Ghoul laughs.

"Pfft, nah,"

But deep down, he knows he did.
For whatever reason, he did.

"It was nice," He admits finally, "I got a glimpse of another side to you. And y'know, much as it kills me to say it, I don't think I completely hate that side,"

Poison smiles - for real now, and it seems it's contagious.

"I don't think that side of me hates you, either," He replies quietly.

"In that case," Ghoul leans back, the backrest sinking under his weight,
"How about we go for another walk?"


Ghoul shrugs,
"It ain't so much about where we're going... it's about what we're doing. On that note,"

He stands up, waiting for Poison to do the same,

"You got any spray paint?"


Tommy Chow Mein's been in the desert for a number of years - in his time, he's never fired a ray gun or sped down Route Guano listening to obnoxiously loud music and wearing obnoxiously bright clothing, but a lot of his customers have.

And a lot of his customers mean trouble.

The sight of a couple of boys approaching - one easily recognisable as the leader of that damn Killjoys gang, and the other that scruffy-haired rascal who came into his store a month ago and tried to strike up a friendly conversation with him whilst not-so-discreetly sneaking items off the shelf behind him - is enough to get Tommy cursing under his breath.

Customers are customers, though - he'll just have to keep a close eye on these two scoundrels.

"Hey there, old man!" The guy with the messy black hair chirps, beaming broadly.

Tommy responds with a formal, tight-lipped and very reluctant smile. Party Poison follows close behind, head held high as ever, barely acknowledging Tommy as he passes the counter.
Tommy scowls,

I've never liked that boy.

His eyes follow the pair over to the toilet door.

"I dread to think," He mutters to himself, shaking his head and turning to the money in the cash register as a distraction.

On the other side of the door, Ghoul shakes the can of neon green paint and pops the cap off. He's forgotten to lock the door, but he's too filled with excitement to care.
Lifting the lid of the toilet, he grins.

"Man, this is gonna be so sick,"

Then he swiftly proceeds to spray a large symbol on the inside of the lid: a smiley face with a stitched up mouth and an X over one eye.

"Fuck yeah!" He punches the air as he tosses the can, (Poison, standing conveniently behind, catches it just in time)
"I own this toilet!"

"Oh no you don't, young man!"

The pair freeze as the door clicks open.

Tommy's seething, his stern face barely a shade duller than Poison's hair and the vein on his temple protruding.

The boys catch eachothers' eye, and, with a short, simultaneous nod, Ghoul scrambles to his feet and they take off.

They're out of the shop as fast as their legs can carry them, with Tommy still shouting from the door,

"I don't want to see either of you in here again for the next four months!"

Eventually, Ghoul collapses behind the ruins of an old building, panting like a dog as sweat drips from his fringe and trickles off the tip of his nose.

Poison sinks down slowly. He presses a hand to his chest under the lapel of his jacket,
"Fuck," He whispers, "I never thought I'd get such an adrenaline rush from watchin' someone else graffiti a toilet,"

Ghoul nods eagerly, "Told you it'd be sick,"

Poison's hand drops into his lap and he relaxes against what remains of the wall, closing his eyes.

"Hey, Ghoul?" He asks eventually.


A quiet moment follows before Poison opens his eyes and turns to face the still flushed and breathless guy beside him.

“Still can’t believe I’m about to do this, but...”

There's anticipation in Ghoul's eyes, and there’s decisiveness in Poison's.

"Wanna be a Killjoy?"