Destiny was cold. The Nexxis was only growing with time, and the other night’s meeting with Karma hadn’t helped. She had to rest more often than usual, her Abbaxa grew tired easily. Last night she had gone to bed cold and woke up freezing, her short body curled into a ball under all the blankets Felix had given her.
“Hey Red, you almost ready? Ladybug is leaving to Old Stuff in ten minutes.” Felix knocked on the basement door and called down.
Was it really that time already? She was so late; she was supposed to meet the other Infinities at the shop ages ago. She groaned and stood up, slowly making her way upstairs. She had things to do and Infinities to see, the clothes she fell asleep in last night would have to work. “Yeah, I’m on my way up.”
Five figures were waiting around on the roof when they showed up to work. As soon as the door was unlocked they traveled downstairs, the Concepts landing on different sides of the shop. Though Destiny had told the humans all about her world and had even traveled with them, Liliana still stared at them with her mouth agape.
“Des, where have you been? We agreed to meet here ages ago. And I don’t think your sisters are particularly fond of us.” Chance whispered loudly as he walked over to her, waving a greeting to the humans.
Demise seemed normal, if a bit tenser than usual. It was a bit hard to tell with her hair in her face though. At least she seemed to be kind of keeping up on personal hygiene, a plastic brush stuck out of her jacket pocket with clumps of hair to show she had recently brushed. Fortune was glaring at the boys with crossed arms. In her mind these were the Infinities who were hurting her sister, she wasn’t going to warm up to them easily. Luck looked a little lost, looking at everything with wonder and swaying on his feet slightly.
“This is so exciting!” Liliana clapped her hands together excitedly and jumped up and down with glee. She seemed to be the only one in the room who wasn’t affected by the tense atmosphere. “I always knew there was something exciting to look forward to.”
Karma jumped on the youngest Fate, enveloping her in a giant bear hug. This time she hugged back, far more prepared than the first time. Karma pointed over at Liliana. “Dessie! I missed my favorite little ginger. I like that one, she still believes in fairy tales.”
They were all here, all three Fates, all three Coincidences, and both humans. The six Infinities that shared the strange feeling of the pull of the pipe all in one room, and so far nobody had ripped each other’s throats out. It was better than Destiny had expected. It was stupid, but Destiny kind of didn’t want the Taveras’ involved with this. The humans would be better off staying home when they went on their adventure though, for their own safety of course.
“Well then, this is fun. Nice weather, I love the snow.” Luck bit the inside of his cheek, looking from each face to the next. He apparently wasn’t the best with small talk.
Demise smirked and shook her head, replying sarcastically, “Yes, weather is the most interesting topic at the moment. Dying sister, crazy Creator, pipe weapon, but it’s all about the pretty little snowflakes Jack Frost made.”
“Wait, is Jack Frost real? Like, is he based off one of you guys?” Felix asked before noticing all the bewildered looks from the Infinities. “Okay, never mind then. Just curious.”
“Curiosity killed the cat.” Demise warned, though there was a smile in her voice.
“And satisfaction brought it back.” Felix felt the need to point out.
“I haven’t heard the last part of that before. I like it. No cat deserves to be dead.” Luck’s attention came back to the group for brief moment before went over to inspect the nearest knic-knack.
“And this is why you are re single, nobody loves an old cat lady.” Karma laughed when Luck started pouting.
“Right, so now that everyone is here, time for formal introductions.” Chance jumped in before his brothers could start bickering anymore.
Karma took it upon himself to put on a show of literally waltzing over to the elder two Fates, arms in the air around an invisible partner and everything, what a theatre nerd. Once he had reached them, he bowed deeply. “Apologies lovely ladies. How do you do? It’s wonderful to meet you, we have heard so many things about you from our good friend Destiny here.”
Fortune didn’t look impressed. “Which one are you?”
“Karma, the one and only, at your service. I must say your eyes are the most remarkable ultramarine that I have ever seen.”
“Sorry, Karma tends to be a bit of a flirt, and Luck tends to be rather blunt. I’m Chance.” Chance pointed to each of them in turn as he rolled his eyes and pulled his brother back, very much aware of the look Fortune was shooting him.
“You say it like you are the only sane member of your concept.” Destiny raised an eyebrow at him, remembering how they had met. He had even gone so far as to kiss her hand. But there was no way he had been intending to flirt.
Karma skipped around the youngest Fate, showering her with glitter that he pulled from a tube in his pocket. He glanced over to Luck and introduced them. “This is our beautiful perfect sugar-coated gumdrop.”
Luck rolled his eyes and glared at his brother. “Yes, I remember her. I wasn’t that wasted when we met.”
Considering he was a complete mess, both physically and mentally, Destiny shuddered to think what he would consider bad. Karma apparently agreed. “I might not be able to convince Sloth to get us another TV, you go through them so fast he thinks it’s a waste of time.”
Luck shrugged, not seeming all that sorry. He staggered up to the Fates, looking them over. He cleaned up nice, or at least the Rouhk he was created with was in a good state. His neatly trimmed blonde hair was gelled into place and his green silk shirt and black slacks seemed to be freshly washed and ironed. Destiny remembered how he was when she first saw him and couldn’t help but think how long it had been since he had switched to essence form and put his default body back on. “Well then you must be Fortune, your reputation precedes you. So by process of elimination that makes you Demise. I do admit I’m surprised by that.”
Demise glared at the Coincidence fiercely through a gap in her hair. “What’s that supposed to mean? Did you expect me to be surrounded by lava everywhere I go? That’s just a rumor ya know.”
Luck seemed taken aback, he hadn’t expected such a defensive tone. “No, I just meant that based on what I heard all the other Infinities say you are ugly. I don’t see you that way.”
Demise shook her head, maybe she had heard him wrong? Surely no one in their right mind, other than her sisters, would be complimenting her. Rather than raspy and harsh like usual, her answer came out unsure. “You haven’t even seen my face; you don’t know the first thing about me.”
Luck gave her a bashful apologetic smile. Suddenly he looked far less hungover than he had only a few moments prior. And then he did something so shocking, something no other Infinity had ever dared do. He reached out a hand and gently pushed her hair behind her ears, fully revealing her face for the first time. Destiny had spent her entire existence around her sisters, but even she had never seen more than a glimpse of Demise’s features. She wasn’t sure what she had expected: a crooked nose, a hairy wart, maybe even yellowed decaying teeth. Destiny had been so very wrong.
Her normally greasy tangled black hair was apparently not the only thing Ziarre had done punished her with after the failed Test of Classification. Her skin, as pale and perfect as porcelain, had a few acne scars that were only noticeable if you looked closely. Thick dark eyebrows that desperately needed plucking were raised in shock. Big doe-like eyes that were so dark it was impossible to tell where the pupil ended and the iris began. Her face wasn’t thin and long like Liliana’s, but rather round, matching her curvy physique. She was flawed, not perfect like Fortune, but she was beautiful like how demise should be. Her face had a sense of grace and elegance, like how even a tragic death could be peaceful.
Luck pulled back his long bony fingers slowly, a small smile forming at the corners of his mouth. “Like I said, not ugly. Everyone expects the worst from you, so you hide away. We are alike, you and I, both of us disappointments of the Concept. We aren’t all that bad, just a bit misunderstood.”
Karma let out a low whistle, breaking through the deafening silence and reminding the two they were being watched. “Well that is the most meaningful thing I have ever heard you say. Look at you, getting all deep and profound.”
Chance shook his head and gently nudged Karma in the ribs, shaking his head as Demise and Luck took a step away from each other. Would his brother ever learn to shut up? “And you just ruined their moment. Good job.”
Fortune kept a stony expression, much unlike her usual bubbly self. She glared at the pair of misfits, obviously not happy that they had bonded so quickly. “I’m still not thrilled we have to work together, but it is what it is. Just so you know, I’m only in this for my sisters. Our Creator is going to pay for what she did, you boys better not mess this job up.”
Liliana spoke up then, noticing the tension rise. She had been so quiet that Destiny had almost forgotten she was there. But alas she seemed to be getting over her shock. “Well you all have very important Infinity things to discuss. Destiny, take the day off work, my brother and I can handle the shop. Feel free to use my house as a headquarters.”
“Thank you.” Destiny reached for Chance, prepared to take him along. She mentally sent an address to her sisters so they would know where to go. Demise grouped with Luck seeing as they were still kind of close to each other.
Karma turned and winked at Fortune, reaching for her hand. “What a coinkydink, would you look at that. Suppose that leaves us sweetheart.”
They all appeared in Liliana’s brightly colored kitchen. Destiny frowned as she glanced again at the watermelon colors. She knew the house had belonged to Liliana’s grandmother before she died, but the old lady colors would have to go soon. The house needed a makeover, and judging by the others faces as they showed up, everyone else agreed.
Karma was the last to appear in Rouhk form, rubbing his face where an angry red handprint was already beginning to form.
“Don’t call me sweetheart.” Fortune glared daggers at him as she pulled out a barstool with a bright green cushion and took a seat. Working with the Coincidence’s was one thing, but apparently having one of them flirt with her was another.
Karma moved to the fridge and grabbed an ice cube, sitting as far away from the eldest Fate as possible. He grumbled to himself, knowing everyone could hear him. “Abuse is not okay, no matter who delivers it. Hitting me doesn’t make you empowering.”
Destiny stared at her sister, slightly terrified. She had never seen Fortune hit anyone before. “Let’s just get to work, and try and act civil.”
Fortune at least had the grace to look ashamed. “Sorry. I’m stressed is all. Ziarre thinks she can get away with cursing both of my baby sisters, and that’s not okay. Who does she think she is? What gives her that right? How dare she? She used Nexxis on you for crying out loud, that can’t be cured. She has to pay for what she has done.”
Chance nodded slowly, understanding the loyalty to her Concept. He gritted his teeth, as if he hated saying his next words. “And that’s why we have the pipe. we will use it on The Divine Provenance if we must.”
“As much as Karma probably deserved that slap, save that vengeance for her, don’t take it out on your helpers.” Luck suggested simply.
“Way to make us sound like elves.” Demise shot back sarcastically as she tied her once again messy hair out of her face.
Luck shrugged. “Tis the season Demise. Holiday cheer and all.”
Karma jumped up and browsed around the kitchen, searching through the fridge and pantry to distract himself from the reality of the situation. “Soup will cure what ills you, and I make a great soup! You’re eating good tonight Dessie!”
Luck rolled his eyes and rubbed his temples, trying to ease away his growing headache from listening to Karma’s voice. “Were you not listening you dimwit? Fortune said Nexxis, that doesn’t just go away. Not unless the Creator who used it says so.”
“Oh balderdash, my soup is the best soup in all of Òrìsà and Ineôcâ.” Karma was stubborn when he wanted something, and right now he wanted to feel useful. There was no harm done and they got a free meal out of the deal, so the other Infinities let him test out his kitchen skills.
While Karma was busying himself the group made sure they were all up to date with what was going on with the pipe and the plan. After a while Karma set out bowls and dished out his soup. “There ya’ll are, ancient Concept recipe.”
“And by that he probably means it came out of a can.” Chance chuckled and sent his brother a playful smile while Karma stuck out his tongue and pouted about how his own brother would rat him out so easily.
By the end of the night they had all loosened up around each other, except Fortune of course. She still seemed hesitant to enjoy the boys company. They had moved to the other room, the one with all the couches and the television. Karma and Chance were enthusiastically telling a story. Destiny was laughing, Demise had even cracked a smile, and Fortune tried hard to seem like she couldn’t care less.
“So then Sloth was all like, you haven’t done anything worthwhile in your existence. Now keep in mind this was after Pride just helped design the Great Pyramids, so he was feeling all high and mighty. And then Pride was all like, that’s rich coming from you.”
Chance chimed in, “And anybody who knows Sloth knows he is the complete opposite of lazy. So he got all butt hurt and offended.”
Karma laughed at the memory and finished the story. “So I helped Sloth come up with ways to use all his inventions on Pride for pranks. And Pride being Pride, before he got his name of course, took it the wrong way. He got so sick of his Concept ganging up on him. You will never believe what he did next.”
The two Coincidences looked to Luck, waiting for him to deliver the ending. He sighed in defeat, knowing he was overpowered. “He left the castle and moved in with some penguins for forty some odd years and started a cult with some eskimos.”
Fortune laughed with the others, finally giving in. Pride’s pride was wounded. That poor baby. So far everyone seemed to be getting along, save the mishaps at the beginning, but now Destiny could actually see this happening. If they could keep this up, then there was hope for them to be able to work together. This team could get this job done.