"Lutey, maybe we should try again? Maybe music will calm her down--"
"For the fifteen-thousandth time, Lukas, my name is Hugo, NOT Lutey, and it's not a lute, it's a mandola!"
"My apologies, Hugo."
The honey-blonde boy growled at the auburn-haired prince, raking a hand through his curly locks in frustration and knocking his green hat right off his head. "Really, you'd think over 200 years and a guy would get the point..."
"Well, back to my point." Lukas nudged the gold crown perched on his head a bit absentmindedly, blinking at his friend. "Do you think music will calm her down? It can't hurt, right?"
Hugo scowled a bit, but let the matter of the nickname drop. "Lukas, for all we know, she'll make the toilets explode again, and I am not risking the safety of my mandola to play her a song in an attempt to calm her down."
Lukas frowned at that. "You don't think it will work?"
"Knowing her? Probably not. She's completely crazy."
"I do hope you're not talking about me," and a young woman with wavy, long chocolatey hair floated in.
No, she literally floated in. Her long, green gown drifted through the air as she lazily floated in like a balloon, dangling upside down and regarding the two boys with bright gray eyes. Her body issued the pale blue glow that the other two were giving off as well, filling the darkened hallway with an eerie blue light.
"Of course not, Charlotte," and Lukas leaned forward, offering the ballgown-clad woman a warm smile. "We were talking about... well, you know."
Charlotte grinned, a single curl of her hair defying gravity and floating through the air. "Ah yes, Miss Temperamental, destroyer of plumbing and screamer of obscenities. What did she call you last time, Lutey?"
Hugo dissolved into a series of mutters that neither of the other two caught.
"How are you all doing today?"
Immediately, all three turned to see the tall, thin figure walk into the room.
Unlike the other three, they were not giving off a strange blue glow. Their black hair drooped lazily in front of their left eye, before tapering neatly in the back, revealing a slightly droopy gray eye that was much more bland than Charlotte's bright one. Their dark gray suit, complete with a lighter gray sweater-vest and a white tie, was at odds with their black combat boots and scarily pale skin.
The picture of what seemed to be a freakishly tall college student was ruined by the scythe that was as tall as they were strapped to their back with a (guess the color? You got it) gray belt.
"Oh-- Gray, hello." Lukas turned and offered them a deep bow. "You look nice today."
"I am wearing the exact same outfit I have worn since I first met you, Lukas," was the gray figure's response. Had it come from anyone else, this might've sounded dry or sarcastic, but from Gray it was simply matter-of-fact.
"And you still look nice. Am I not allowed to compliment you on your choice of dress-- Ow!" and Lukas shot Charlotte a glare, the girl still bobbing upside down but now floating away from Lukas with the force of the punch she'd just delivered to his shoulder.
"Quit it with the formality, Prince Lukas," she said cheerfully, ignoring the hazel-eyed glare he was now sending her. "We're doing pretty good, Gray, how are you?"
Gray inclined their head slightly, the corners of their lips turning up into the faintest smile. "Busy as usual. No development with...?"
Even though they merely trailed off, the other three immediately picked up on what she was asking on, shaking their heads in near-perfect unison. "None at all. Still acts batsh--"
"My name is Hugo!"
"Y'all, I think Gideon might need-- oh, howdy, Gray!" and the strawberry-blonde girl that had just strolled through the wall tipped her hat in Gray's direction, giving the reaper a sunny smile.
Yes, of course Gray was a reaper. Did the scythe not make it obvious?
"Checkin' in like usual?" the cowgirl finished, flicking her braid over her shoulder. (Knowing the almost anthropomorphic quality of this girl's hair, though, it was just going to end up back in front of her shoulder again in ten minutes.)
"Yes. What were you saying about Gideon?"
Well, Gray wasn't exactly what one would call subtle...
"Oh, he attempted to go talk to her. He... ah, he might need some backup."
"Darn it, Spinach," Lukas growled immediately, "we told you to wait until we'd decided..."
"I mean, he ain't doin' too bad. Just kinda..." Belle paused, scrunching up her nose a little bit and rolling her clear blue eyes to the ceiling. "Wet."
Gray pinched the bridge of their nose a bit, letting their gray eye drift shut. "Ahhhh, Mr. Phantasmagoria will not be pleased about that."
"Or Walden. I think he's getting annoyed by having to call the plumber every other week." Hugo paused at that, lips twisting up and squinting into thin air for a moment as he considered it. "Actually, it's kinda hard to tell with him."
"I think you are right to say he is annoyed."
All four of the ghosts jumped-- even Charlotte managed it, although it was a bit weird that she managed to jump while she was still in midair. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" Belle exclaimed, turning to glare at the much-shorter Asian now standing behind her, "don't do that, Kaida!!"
"I am ninja. I am sneaky nature." Kaida paused, dark eyes narrowing even more as she tried to think through what she'd just said. "I am also not good at English."
"Aw, you're doing better. Right, Hugo?" Charlotte asked cheerfully, swiveling her head to beam at the 19th century musician.
Hugo blinked. "I mean, it's still not--"
He then proceeded to go flying through the wall with a grunt as Charlotte elbowed him in the ribs with a little more force than intended. "Ignore him, Kaida, you're doing great! Right, Belle?" Charlotte chirped, a huge grin still on her face.
On second thought, knocking him through the wall might not have been an accident.
Belle blinked a bit at what had just happened. "Uh... yeah. She ain't doin' that bad."
"Better than Akio," Lukas offered, keeping an eye on Charlotte's elbow.
Kaida smirked a bit, the first hint of expression except for the narrowed eyes she'd shown so far. "Of course am better than Akio. He's an idiot."
"I heard that." A tall, thin man dressed in dark robes walked in, resting a hand on his katana as he narrowed his eyes at Kaida in a scowl.
"You were supposed to."
"You suck..." Akio struggled to come up with the correct English term, at last coming up with a slightly feeble "foot."
I mean, it was slightly off, but he was trying.
"Don't be potato Akio."
"I hate you."
"I hate you more."
Lukas shook his head at Akio and Kaida in mock-disgust, the tall samurai and the petite ninja glaring at one another. "Would you just admit that you two like each other?"
Akio turned to Lukas with a blank expression, saying something in Ancient Japanese that none of the others quite understood, except for Gray and Kaida. (If you were wondering, he'd just said "I do not know what you are saying. I don't know English."
"Don't play the 'I don't know English card'," Belle, Lukas, and Charlotte chorused, shooting the two Ancient Japanese people deadpan looks.
Automatically, Kaida and Akio turned to Gray for backup, but the dark-haired reaper was simply now looking up at the ceiling. If they had been more expressive, there was no way they would've been able to disguise the amusement they were feeling. As it was, they were barely able to keep a small smile from sneaking onto their face. "Sorry, can't help you here," they told the duo in Ancient Japanese.
Akio muttered something that sounded suspiciously like the ruder version of 'screw you' in Ancient Japanese, but it was too quiet for Gray to catch.
Gray shrugged it off philosophically and turned to look at the other three, ignoring the way the two of them were now scowling at the taller reaper. "In any case, were there any ideas to try to...?"
"Well, we thought we could serenade her?" Lukas suggested, tentatively.
"No, you thought Alfred and I could serenade her," Hugo replied, stepping back through the wall and making sure to keep a good distance away from Charlotte, shooting the dark-haired young woman a glare, "I'm not willing to risk my mandola for that."
"Awww," and Hugo blinked as a blonde teenage boy sidled in, his face slightly delicate for a boy. His bright blue eyes glowed with interest as he stepped in, his lush red jacket clashing slightly with the bright orange tie he was wearing. "It might work though, don'tcha think, Hugo?" His voice was a light, serene sort of singsong as he tilted his head at the two-inch-shorter male.
Hugo gave the new guy a slight pout. "But Alfred, the mandola might get ruined if she blows up the pipes again..." he whined a little, his cheeks a slightly darker shade of rosy pink than they'd been before.
"But duets are fun! Besides, you have a nice singing voice, I have a nice singing voice, unlike Tobias--"
"I heard that!" A deeper voice yelled from somewhere below them. It was a wonder that nobody was hearing them, actually.
Alfred decided to ignore the shout, giving Hugo a cheerful smile. "It might work!"
"Might," Hugo pointed out, but it was clear that his resolve was wavering.
Alfred tilted his head, blinking innocently at Hugo. "But Hugo, we can sing that song we've been practicing for weeks."
That made Hugo's head snap around to stare at Alfred hopefully. "You mean that old song from Moon Over Mississippi?"
"Yeah! It's a nice song."
It's also a romantic song that ends in a kiss, but we don't have to point that out right now.
Hugo's scowl had completely faded by now, and he reached up and rubbed his hand through his honey-blonde locks as Alfred patted back some of his own golden ones. "Well... if you think it's a good idea..."
Charlotte, Lukas, Belle and the two Ancient Japanese people exchanged victorious smirks at that.
Gray finally cleared their throat, drawing all eyes to them. "Well, you all try that out. If nothing else has changed..."
"Yeah, nothing's changed."
"Then keep me posted. I've got a different job I've got to go work on," Gray sighed, absentmindedly fingering a few locks of the hair that drifted in front of their eyes. "Teenager. Drunk driving. Couple hundred miles away." Gray's visible eye suddenly tightened a bit. "Ah. One's going to survive. Other won't."
That brought down the mood a little bit. "Oh," Charlotte said, floating back down to Earth a little bit. Then, "doesn't this job get... depressing?"
"Depressing how?" Gray's usual impassive mask was back.
"Well... you have to deal with people who are dying, don't you?"
"That's a reaper's job, yes."
"... don't you ever feel bad for the people who are... y'know..." Charlotte trailed off, turning herself to a more right-side-up position. From the right-side-up position she was in, you could see the worried expression on her face.
"... reapers aren't supposed to get emotionally attached." Gray gave a sort of nonchalant shrug and walked around the corner.
"... that didn't answer my question..."