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Now if You're Looking for a Saviour, Well, That's Not Me

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"D.H.O.R.K.S?"

Peering out from behind the side of a building, Connie read the company name aloud, cocking an eyebrow at her findings. The rest of her coworkers followed suit, exchanging confused glances with each other. Not a single one of them knew what was behind each of those letters, but judging by the fact that Vortex had traced Blitzo and Heather's scents back to the place, it was more than safe to assume that they couldn't mean anything good.

"Of all the acronyms they could've gone with," Moxxie rolled his eyes, facepalming, "they chose...that. I swear to Satan, the human race just keeps finding new ways to disappoint me."

"I know, right?" Ember agreed, "You'd think they'd come up with something cooler. I mean, they're a government agency. Why would they call themselves dorks?"

"Well, I guess we're about to find out," Vortex remarked, "because this is definitely where Blitz and Heather ended up. Their scent's all over the yard."

"Fuck, this looks intense," Loona noted, eyeing the pair of armed guards at the entrance, "how are we gonna get in?"

"Wish I knew..." Millie sighed, peering at the locked door from her place in Vortex's bookbag.

She trailed off as soon as her gaze settled on a ventilation chamber just above where the group was standing. The sight of it instantaneously flipped a switch in the imp's brain, conjuring an idea in seconds. As it turned out, luck was on her side after all.

"Wait a minute...the vent," Millie gasped, handing off her axe to Ember before addressing her carrier, "that's it! Tex, gimme a boost! I've got an idea!"

Vortex gave a curt nod, obeying without question to her implications. He stretched his arm as high above him as he could, which Millie proceeded to scale in a swift spiral, not unlike a a squirrel would a tree. She yanked the metal cover from its bearings, tossing it behind her before clambering inside the air duct and making a break for the nearest opening.

Thankfully for the rest of the rescue team, Moxxie's instincts were in top form, driving him to catch the panel and tuck it back inside the tunnel before it could clatter against the ground, and quite possibly blow their cover. By then, Millie had already successfully broken into the building, swinging open the door whilst standing on the interior handlebar, one hand effortlessly planted on her hip.

"Good thinking, honey," Moxxie complimented with a smile, turning to Ember, "that's my wife~"

"I think I've been working here long enough to know that, Mox," the silver hellhound teased, sparing him a playful eyeroll.

"Alright, people," Vortex plucked Millie from the door, placing her on his right shoulder, "let's get this show on the road. Operation Save-Our-Bosses'-Asses is ago."

"More like Operation Save-Tweedledee-And-Tweedledumbass," Loona whispered to Connie, entering alongside her.

"You're terrible!" the now-human hellcat whispered, smothering an impending laugh with her hands, "Tweedle-what?"

Connie's resulting half-snort earned an amused snicker from Loona as she shut the door behind them, and the pair rushed off to join the infiltration with subconsciously-conjoined hands. As expected, tuxedoed Edo-armed guards were around every corner, the I.M.P's only saving grace being that their backs were conveniently turned. Knowing this, they managed to carefully slink past the first few government agents, rounding several extended hallways unseen.

That is, until they entered the longest corridor in the building.

There, they were promptly ambushed by dozens of weaponized humans. And by the looks of them, it seemed like they had been anticipating this encounter before the assassins had even stepped foot in their headquarters.

A uniformed man with a kama aimed a blow at Loona, who just barely managed to duck out of the way in time. To the agent's surprise, his sickle did find a target, but definitely not in the way that he was expecting. Connie had intercepted the attack with her weapon of choice: a pair of black gloves similar to Loona's. However, they were no ordinary gloves. They had thick, curved daggers where the finger holes would typically be; makeshift claws known as nekote, ironically also from the Edo period.

"You stay the fuck away from her!" Connie snarled, slapping her opponent's weapon away as Loona paused to admire her, flattered.

Before the man could even begin to process what was happening, a swift swipe from the disguised hellcat tore his throat to shreds. She left him to bleed out as she turned to take out another agent who'd approached her from behind, and sure enough, the unfortunate human quickly met the same fate.

Meanwhile, just ahead of Connie, Ember swung Millie's axe above her head with a grunt, slicing her and Moxxie's pursuer's legs clean off. Moxxie took the opportunity to spring from her shoulder, one pistol in each hand, spraying bullets in mid-air with a well-choreographed barrel roll. He managed to slaughter four agents at the same time, landing two bullets in each, and landing on Vortex's other shoulder, adjacent to his wife, while Vortex tore his victims apart with his bare hands. Even in human form, his still had the strength of a bear, much to Moxxie's shock.

Millie flashed him a sadistic grin, avidly observing Ember as she hurled her axe across the room, where it lodged directly between another agent's eyes. Millie excitedly scampered over the bloodstained tiles to retrieve it, slinging Moxxie over her shoulder. Even in his new position, the weapons specialist's aim was none the lesser, felling several more employees along the way as his wife snatched her axe with her free hand, using it to slice a nearby woman clean in half.

Loona tore past the others with the agility of a fearless alpha wolf, bounding over a brunette's head and landing in a split, completely unphased despite his attempts to assault her with a pair of twirling nunchucks. He swung them at Loona over and over, missing each time. She was just too fast for him, and even faster when a second agent chucked a kusarigama in her direction. The blade went right over Loona's head, and its failure to hit her would prove fatal for the assailant's coworker; he was instantly decapitated by the impact.

While the accidental murderer stood in stunned silence, Connie approached from behind, jabbing right through him. Her right set of steel claws penetrated his chest, and she ruthlessly tore the blades upwards, completely mangling her victim's torso and tossing his corpse aside without a second thought. At this point, blood, limbs, and shredded organs littered the entire hallway, rendering it a sickening scene fit for a horror movie, but the assassins hardly batted an eye at the carnage. They stampeded towards the remaining guards on the other side, lead by the imps and backed by the tallest hellhounds of the group.

By now, the government employees were fully aware of their impending gory demise, and had devised a plan that they deemed foolproof. Two of them pelted the I.M.P with shurikens while the other pressed a button on the wall, causing a massive door to begin lowering in front of them. Clearly, the thick sheet of steel was their last line of defense.

"Quick, somebody throw me!" Millie ordered, brandishing her axe.

Loona nodded, whirling around on the balls of her heels to give the imp enough momentum to reach her targets. Millie somersaulted beneath the barrier just before it closed, giving the rest of her coworkers a moment to breathe as she continued the fight from the inside.

Moxxie, Loona, Connie, Vortex, and Ember blinked wordlessly as they heard what little remained of the slaughter unfold, thoroughly impressed with the valor involved. Sure enough, Millie had come out on top, pressing the button a second time to unlock the room once she'd finished. Dismembered bodies were scattered on the floor behind her, but she flitted her long eyelashes regardless, feigning innocence.

"Whoa."

"Holy shit—"

"Sweet Lucifer."

"That was incredible!"

"Damn!" Loona smirked, casually passing the imp into the new corridor, "You're pretty agile for an old lady."

"I'm like, five years older than you," Millie corrected, "but I gotta give you credit, you've been surprisingly cooperative today. Connie must finally be rubbin' off on you."

"That's what she—"

"Don't even think about it."

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

Back in the interrogation chamber, Agents One and Two were still preoccupied attempting to crack Blitzo and Heather. Of course, their efforts continued to prove to be entirely fruitless, yielding only one notable result: a very pissed-off Agent One.

"Stop insultin' my motter with your Australian bullshit!" he snapped at the Goetic hellcat, tears of frustration seeping past his sunglasses, "She's dead!"

"Hey, hey," Agent Two advised, "let's just leave them here until they feel like talkin'..."

She tugged her indignant partner towards the double doors on Heather's side of the room, shooting her a disapproving glare over her shoulder.

"This ain't over, pussycat."

"First Miss Kitty," Blitzo retorted, "and now pussycat? Satan, I thought someone with your thighs would have way more room in their body for originality."

He somewhat doubted that Agent Two had heard his parting quip, judging by how fast she'd slammed the door behind her. With both humans gone, Blitzo frowned in discontentment, struggling against his ropes in an attempt to break free. Finally caving to the realization that his restraints wouldn't budge, he released a pent-up sigh, suddenly finding the tiles under his boots to be extremely interesting.

Here he was, finally alone with Heather for the first time in months, and what were they doing with it? Being held hostage in some musty government basement, forcibly tied in uncomfortable chairs with their backs to each other.

Even worse, judging by the way things were going, it occurred to Blitzo that there was an undeniable possibility that he and Heather might actually die here, at the hands of the same species that they killed for a living. And Satan forbid this catastrophe escalate into the mortal dilemma of his lifetime: dying with a clean conscience, or taking his affections to the grave.

No. Blitzo wasn't going to let that happen. Not when there were so many things he had yet to do in this life. Not when he had a daughter back at home. And especially not when one of his biggest reasons to live was on the cusp of slipping from his grasp; for good, this time.

"Don't worry, Heather," he assured her, "this isn't my first time getting caught; I know all the loopholes for this kinda thing. If we keep being obnoxious, they'll eventually slip up, and we'll get a chance to get out. Let's just keep fucking with them until they get so frustrated, they stop thinking clearly. It usually works."

"It's not just us I'm worried about..." the tabby admitted, "it's everyone else. Knowing them, they're probably on their way right now, putting themselves in harm's way to save us. I mean...what if they get hurt out there?"

"I'm sure they'll be fine, Heather," Blitzo insisted, "Moxxie can be a wet noodle, but he knows how to be coldblooded when he needs to. Millie? It would take a roided-up hippo to take down that woman when she's upset. And speaking of roided-up hippos, if they're bringing your hellhound with them, then at least they'll have a human shield."

"Human shield?" Heather eyed him sarcastically, "Wow, that's assuring."

"Wasn't it?"

"No, especially since this is the human government we're talking about!" she frowned at nothing in particular, "We've never had to deal with this kind of danger before. And what happens if none of us make it home? Think about our friends...our families..."

Blitzo paused, suddenly finding the floor to be much easier to look at as the gravity of the situation finally penetrated his thoughts. Unbeknownst to him and Heather, an ominous green smog was beginning to seep into the room from the air ducts, swirling around their ankles as the latter continued with a sharp sigh.

"And there's still so much I haven't done. I haven't learned how to be a Goetia, or had the chance to be the Maid of Honor at my siblings' weddings, or...or had my own relationship. Maybe I shouldn't have taken a break from the dating scene so soon, or maybe my soulmate was ready for me the whole time but I missed my chance. I don't know...I just...I thought I had more time—"

And for whatever reason, for Blitzo, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

"Ugh, do you ever honestly shut up about dating?!" the imp's unfiltered thoughts spilled from his tongue so effortlessly that he barely registered himself speaking them, "It's always 'Oh, I wonder if I should join this dating site?' 'I can't tonight, I'm going out with someone!' 'Blah blah blah soulmates!'"

Heather watched him with wide eyes, ears tilted in disbelief as Blitzo continued his rant. While what he was saying would easily set her off if said by anyone else, the uncharacteristically raw honesty in the air immediately set off red flags in her conscious. Clearly, this was something that Blitzo had had on his mind for a very long time, and by extension, something that he would never have said otherwise.

"And the same thing happens every time! You end up falling for some douchebag-in-disguise who ditches you for some other woman, or doesn't wanna settle down, or just doesn't give a shit. And then I have to sit back and watch you duct-tape your heart back together only to have it ripped apart over and over again! It's fucking...it's fucking torture, Heather. Why...how do you keep putting yourself out there like that?"

The Goetic hellcat silently mulled it over, almost as touched by the extent to which her boss really cared about her as she was offput by his words. No, normal Blitzo wouldn't let himself go like that. He was infamous for keeping his deepest, most uncomfortable opinions to himself, and Heather knew this first hand. Only when he was hopelessly inebriated or under the influence of strong pain medications did he allow himself to be this openly vulnerable.

That being said, something definitely wasn't right here.

"That was..." Heather remarked at what first came to mind, "unusually honest of you."

"Yeah, you know what?" Blitzo agreed, somewhat relieved that she hadn't opted to dwell on his outburst, "You're right. I don't know why the fuck I just let my guts spill like that!"

Heather nodded in agreement, scanning the room for answers, starting from the ceiling downwards. She did a double-take once her eyes reached the ground, ears pinning back worriedly once she caught wind of the mysterious quality in the air.

Oh no.

"...I think I might know."

"Wait, what?"

"Blitz, look!" Heather gasped, kicking up a cloud of the gas with her right foot, "They're filling this room with something!"

"Fuck!" the imp sniffed, craning his neck as high as possible in an attempt to get fresh air, "What the hell is this?"

"I-I don't know!" Heather admitted, "But whatever it is, I think those two human drongos are trying to use it to get information out of us!"

"Oh, you think?" Blitzo rolled his eyes, "Well how do you know that's what made me slip?"

"Ugh, I can't believe I'm saying this, but..." the horned hellcat sighed, resorting to facepalming into her tail after remembering that her hands were bound to her chair, "just ask me something. Something I probably wouldn't tell you otherwise."

Truthfully, there was one thing in particular that Blitzo had always wanted to know about Heather more than anything, but prying it out of her when she had reluctantly consented felt...wrong? Even worse than what he'd said to her beforehand. So he opted for a different approach, one that was just as revealing but not quite as personal.

"O-okay, what's your idea of the sexiest evening ever?"

"I wanna be wined and dined," Heather giggled lewdly, "and 69ed~"

Blitzo promptly burst out laughing, leaning forward in his chair so far that his head was almost tucked between his knees. His unfortunate co-kidnappee, however, was far from amused.

"Oh, fucking...seriously?!" Heather sputtered in embarrassment, "Bloody hell, Blitz! Why that?!"

"Why do you think~?"

"Ooohoohoo, I'll tell you what I think!" Heather spat in frustration, "I think it makes you sound like a total dickbrain!"

Blitzo emitted an over-dramatic gasp, rotating his head as far as possible to gape at her.

"Fuck..." Heather recoiled as she realized her mistake, her tail swishing to cover her mouth "I'm so sorry, Blitz, I didn't—"

"How fucking dare you!" the imp fired back, "Well, you know what?! I think your Australian slang is some of the dumbest shit I've ever heard, and I just pretend to understand it—ah! I'm sorry!"

"W-what...?" Heather stammered, sinking deeper into her seat, "This whole time...you thought it was...dumb? But you said you liked my Aussie lingo!"

"I lied!" Blitzo confessed, "It doesn't make any sense!"

"You...you said it was hilarious!" Heather choked out, her vision swimming with dejection.

"I had to, Heather!" the imp tried, and failed, to look her in the eye, "You just looked so happy and I didn't have the heart to tell youuu!"

"Australian slang is part of who I am, Blitz!" Heather snapped, "So if you think that's weird, then—ugh, why the fuck do you still hang around me if you think I'm weird?! Were you just...pretending to like me, too?"

"No! No, Heather, of course not! I don't think you're weird, just the slang! I never thought you were weird!"

"Then what do you think of me, Blitz? Do I even wanna know?"

Blitzo had to physically bite his tongue to stop himself from saying everything he wanted to. In truth, he knew exactly what words he would use to describe her—the problem was, not one of them would pass as platonic. Unfortunately, Heather seemed to take his silence as an answer, turning her back to him. Blitzo couldn't see her face, but the quiet, broken sobs that reached him were proof enough of the damage done.

He really was going to take his affections to the grave. And judging by the drastic increase of the green smog in the room, the soul-crushing thought wasn't too far off.

You fucking idiot! Even if you both make it out of this shithole alive, she'll never wanna see your sorry ass again, and it's your own damn fault! Well...if this really is the end, then at least go out with a bang. Maybe you can't get up and storm off or steal her car or take her fancy gun...but at least you can still break her heart. Her big, stupid, romantically naïve, sweet, sexy heart...

Blitzo sniffled, regretting it almost immediately as the potent green smog filled his lungs. He wasn't crying for Heather. No. Absolutely not. It was just the airborne drugs that made his eyes water and his heart throb in vexation with every pulse. He wasn't crying over this. He wasn't crying. He didn't cry when he retired from comedy. He didn't cry when he drove off in Verosika's Porsche. And he definitely didn't cry when the smooth-talking redneck at the Harvest Moon Festival turned out to be a total dick.

So why was letting Heather go this painful?

Do it already! Cut her off!

Blitzo hesitated, coughing up a storm as his conscience continued to relentlessly thunder at him.

What the fuck are you waiting for?!

He didn't know. No, that was a lie. He did know, and he was dangerously close to screaming it for the whole room to hear. To Hell with the government lunatics who were presumably watching his every move. They were going to kill him, anyway, so what did it matter?

END IT!

"No, NO! I CAN'T FUCKING DO IT!" Blitzo allowed the truth serum to take him, his eyeliner running like crazy as he surrendered to the ugliest ugly cry he'd ever experienced.

"I—*hic*—I don't get it! I can be a piece of shit to literally anyone else! I can steal a celebrity's car and max out their credit card; I can blow people's paychecks on purpose; I can even fuck a married man just to get my hands on his stupid portal magic! But you...you make it damn near impossible for me to hate you. And I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing..."

He slumped against his chair with a heavy sigh, tiredly staring at the ceiling.

"You wanna know why I still hang around you? I stayed because you stayed. I stayed..."

His voice was almost a whisper as he drifted out of consciousness, the last few tears escaping his eyes as they fluttered shut.

"...Because I love you, Heather."

Unbeknownst to Blitzo and his freshly-spilled guts, for better or worse, Heather hadn't heard a word he said, having passed out in the silence beforehand.

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

In a matter of seconds, the interrogation room had blurred out of Heather's view, and she now found herself standing behind the counter of a quaint little coffee shop. The scenery was enchantingly dream-like, every soft color and furniture detail fit for a Disney movie.

"Heather! There you are!"

The Goetic hellcat wheeled around to find Millie dressed in a white button-up shirt, black skirt, and red apron—a uniform that she immediately recognized. The imp's hair, styled with a matching headband, flowed over her shoulders in the same voluminous length it had been several years ago, when the pair had actually worked together in this coffee shop. Sallie May tagged along behind her with a similar hairstyle, although her bangs were long and untamed when compared to her younger sister's.

Most notably of all, the imps themselves looked like they came straight out of a Disney movie. Glancing at her reflection in a nearby mug, much to her surprise, Heather discovered that she was the same. The truth gas from the interrogation room must've been making her hallucinate, made even more clear by the approach of a second Heather, this one sporting a uniform as well, lacking her present-day Goetia appendages.

"Oh! G'day Mills, Sallie," dream-Heather flashed Millie a smile as the present-day hellcat observed, "what's new, mates?"

"The boss said we could go on break!" Millie chirped, grabbing her arm excitedly.

"Yeah, we got 10 minutes," Sallie May added, "an' I ain't wastin' any more time in this shitty fuck-dump unless I'm gettin' paid."

"Aw, c'mon, sis!" Millie shouldered her, "All things considered, I think we got it pretty good! At least we get free drinks."

"This ain't about that," Sallie May smirked, revealing a large iced coffee and taking a sip.

"Anywayyy..." Millie beamed, nudging her towards the exit, "we just wanted to let you know that your boyfriend's waitin' for you outside~"

"Oh, stop!" dream-Heather rolled her eyes in amusement, "He's not my boyfriend! He's just a guy I met at the Harvest Moon Festival."

"The same mystery guy you've been runnin' 'round with ever since?" Sallie May teased, "Hun, we may be rednecks, but we ain't stupid."

"I'm telling you two," dream-Heather insisted, strutting towards the exit, "we're just friends. Nothing more, nothing less."

"If you say so," Millie shrugged naïvely, "either way, have fun!"

"Yeah, give 'im a big 'ol smooch for me!" Sallie May snickered, earning a disapproving frown from her sister.

The imp women turned and walked right through Heather, unphased by her presence at all. Clearly, she was on the outside looking in, witnessing a distant memory that she once thought was long since forgotten. After all, throughout the playful exchange, Heather had remembered when exactly this moment had happened. She needed to see how it ended one last time.

Following the hallucination of herself through the doors leading to the terrace of the coffee shop, she paused when she made it outside, met with a light pink backdrop, the ground beneath her an infinite white surface. She managed a faint smile as she watched past Heather run over to greet a mustache-less, gold tooth-less Striker, her ears dipping in lieu of her nostalgia.

It all made sense now. This was the moment that had started it all: when Striker had finally asked her out, after months of seeing each other privately.

Past-Heather allowed Striker to help her onto Bombproof's back, and with both lovers in the saddle, the Hell horse departed, fading away in a flash of light a few feet ahead of the Goetic hellcat. Heather sighed, shaking her head at the memory. Unbeknownst to her, the coffee shop behind her had disappeared as well, leaving her alone in the midst of the misty pink void.

"Just wait for the two-year mark, younger me," Heather muttered, folding her arms, "it only goes downhill from there. And then you fall in love again...and again...aaand again...like you never learned anything."

She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration.

"But not this Heather. Oooh no. I'm gonna keep my guard up, because starting now, I'm never letting myself fall that hard again. There's a new fallen angel rising!"

Heather donned a confident smile, brushing her bangs out of her face and striding forward with a flick of her long, fluffy tail. Maybe it was just the airborne drugs in the interrogation room talking, but she could feel a song coming on. No, not just a song. Her anthem.

When He Sees Me

♫ I stick with real things
Usually facts and figures
When information's in its place
I minimize the guessing game ♫

"Guess what?" Heather deadpanned briefly, continuing in song while addressing no one in particular, her animated stance fit for a Broadway production.

♫ I don't like guessing games or when I feel things
Before I know the feelings
How am I supposed to operate if I'm just tossed around by fate?
Like on an unexpected date? ♫

A translucent magenta table for two appeared in front of her, forcing her into a chair across from a ghostlike figure resembling her owl demon ex-boyfriend, Thomas. Heather glared at him from her seat, singing over his nonsensical silent chatter.

♫ With a stranger who might talk too fast
Or ask me questions about myself
Before I've decided that
He can ask me questions about myself ♫

In an instant, Heather was no longer at a dinner table with Thomas, but in a restaurant booth next to Verosika Mayday, the bench across from them empty. The succubus leaned in uncomfortably close to her "date," flitting her long lashes down at her seductively.

♫ She might sit too close
Or call the waiter by his first name
Or eat Oreos
But eat the cookie before the cream ♫

Sure enough, every single one of those actions happened in that order, much to Heather's dismay. Eventually, she'd had enough, abandoning her place with Verosika and leaving it to fade away, just as with the previous hallucinations.

"♫ But what scares me the most... ♫" she sang, staring at the floor self-consciously, "what scares me the most... ♫"

♫ Is what if when he sees me
What if he doesn't like it?
What if he runs the other way and I can't hide from it?
What happens then? ♫

A hallucination of Heather's previous love interest, a barista imp named Connor, appeared. He took one look at her, peered over her shoulder at a sexier female of his species, and ran off with the woman, ditching Heather just as he had done during their date all those months ago.

♫ If when he knows me
He's only disappointed?
What if I give myself away to only get it given back? ♫

A present-day rendering of Striker took Connor's place, narrowing his eyes down at Heather disapprovingly. The red tabby reached out to him mid-verse, only for her ex-fiancé to fade away in front of her, fragments of his translucent magenta form slipping through her fingers as a ghost would through walls.

"♫ I couldn't live with that... ♫" Heather concluded dejectedly, standing alone once again with self-consciously folded arms. 

♫ So I'm just fine inside my shell-shaped mind
This way, I get the best view
So when they see me... ♫

She slipped on a brave face, belting out her feelings with a strong conviction.

♫ I want them to! ♫

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

Blitzo's "tripping" experience, on the other hand, was nothing short of nightmare fuel.

He came to his senses in a glitchy, barren terrain, dripping with mountains of thick sepia ink and blindingly-white lights. Embarrassingly enough, while the chair he initially arrived in appeared to be the same one in which he'd lost consciousness, Blitzo was horrified to find what he'd been reduced to: a 1930s-esque cartoon, dressed in a depressing clown suit. He was now a splitting image of that same tasteless laughing stock working at Loo Loo Land; the version of himself he hated the most. 

Massive blobs of muted color three times bigger than Blitzo's own body swirled around him aimlessly, their masses dripping like freshly-melted candle wax. The carmine slime shot across the bleak patch of sky above the imp's head, splattering its sticky red substance all over him. Disgusted yet intrigued, Blitzo sniffed at his hand, lapping at a clump of the liquid. Before he could decipher his thoughts on the taste, the same slime monster bowled him over, materializing into pencil sketches of everyone in the office, drawn in Blitzo's messy art style. Everyone except for one red tabby hellcat.

"We simply follow your orders," doodle Moxxie droned on as his boss lugged himself up from the ink-laden ground, "it isn't our fault that your orders are as nonsensical as a sun-tanning bed left out on the cold rainy porch of a fresh April shower."

"Why are you talking like that?" Blitzo snapped, "What the fuck does that even mean?"

"Mi deludi, Blitz," Connie chided him in Italian, her appearance flickering from her true form to her doodle appearance, "anche in un viaggio con l'acido, sei ancora delirante come sempre! Forse se il tuo buon senso fosse prevalente quanto la tua stupidità, potresti capire quanto tempo e denaro sprechi giorno dopo giorno—"

As the rest of Blitzo's hallucinations of his employees continued to talk his ear off, the other slimy blobs of color began to close in on him, circling above him like vultures preparing to strike.

"Shut up!"

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

"♫ I'm not defensive! ♫" Heather insisted, huffing in annoyance, "♫ I'm simply being cautious! I can't risk reckless dating due to my miscalculating why... ♫

♫ A certain suitor stands in line, I've seen in movies
Most made for television
You cannot be too careful when it comes to sharing your life ♫

She brushed past illusions of all of her past love interests, not bothering to spare any of them a passing glance. That is, until a shimmering diamond ring appeared on Heather's right hand, prompting its wearer to stop dead in her tracks to cautiously examine it. While she was distracted, Striker's rattlesnake-esque tail snaked around her waist, yanking her into his arms with a sinister grin. Heather fearfully stared back into his hypnotic gaze, peering right through them and gaping at her wide-eyed reflection.

♫ I could end up a miserable wife! ♫

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

"Admit it, dickhead," doodle Loona addressed her adoptive father, "you don't know what the fuck you're doing most of the time!"

"Frankly, my dear boss," Moxxie chimed in, "she is correct. You depend on me and the others to manage your foolish flights of fancy. Without us, your poor entrepreneurship would leave the entire company in shambles!"

"I don't need you guys," Blitzo growled, "I can do this shit on my own so easily—!"

A nearby sepia-toned mass of sludge coiled a tentacle around his neck, cutting him off and hurling him across the clearing. The imp skidded through the muck on the ground, clasping at his neck and gasping for air. His attacker loomed over him with an all-too-familiar tail rattle, and before he even spoke, Blitzo was keenly aware of his identity: Striker.

"But you don't wanna do things alone, Blitzo!" Striker boomed with a flick of his serpentine tongue, eyes piercing his target with their sickening lime green glow.

Blitzo hardly had time to process what was happening before two black sludge fists had him in a death grip, tossing him in the air with disorienting speed, paired with the distorted voice of his Loo Loo Land nemesis.

"You tried the solo act," the black-and-white cartoon Fizzarolli heckled, pressing himself flesh to Blitzo's face, "it didn't work out so well!"

The deranged imp unwound his twisted limbs, sending Blitzo flying back into the dirt, reeling from the impact. A third magenta blob of slime touched down in front of him, from which a dripping Verosika Mayday emerged in a very revealing purple dress, crawling towards her ex-boyfriend menacingly.

"And you still shove away anyone who gets too close until they resent you for being a selfish shitty shitfuck!"

Ironically, that's exactly how Blitzo reacted to Verosika's approach, physically shoving her away from him and clambering as far away from her as possible, frantically glancing around the nightmarish hellhole he'd been thrust into. It was then that he ran headfirst into a very regally-dressed Stolas, tumbling backwards and sinking back into the inky-black mud below. After a moment, he peeled himself off the ground, glaring up at the prince.

"Yet you consented to pleasuring me," the owl demon scolded, "dancing with fire with one of Hell's elite, all for a silly little book to keep your company from going under. But in the end, it wasn't the company that held your best interest, was it?"

"Of fucking course I did it for I.M.P!" Blitzo protested, "Why else would I have showed up on every full moon to see yours?!"

"Perhaps you were physically present during our impish little ruts under the sheets," Stolas commentated, "quipping and moaning and taking charge...but in reality, your mind was a galaxy away. Set on a certain former secretary of mine whom you've had eyes for ever since."

The prince strode out of Blitzo's line of view, revealing a lush, sunset-showered field in the space beyond. In the very center stood Heather, her back turned to him with unfurled wings. She peered over her shoulder at Blitzo, flitting her pale green eyes in a seductively slow motion and beckoning him in a singsong voice.

"Are you afraid to love people, Blitz~?"

Awestruck by the sight of her, Blitzo absentmindedly pursued her, edging closer and closer to the field. As soon as he stepped foot in the grass, his sludge-covered clown outfit transformed in a blinding flash of light, revealing that the imp was now dressed in his I.M.P uniform. He was finally free from the chains of his consciousness, if only for a minute, before Stolas continued to berate him from the sidelines.

"I believe it's safe to say, given your history of disappointing amorous affairs, that you simply cannot fathom someone with whom you can share a deep and meaningful love.  Consequently, you've held yourself back for years at a time, treading so unbelievably close to the brink of intimacy, and yet so hopelessly far...even from the one person in your life who can give you the affection you so desperately crave. "

Dream-Heather gracefully whirled around to greet Blitzo as he approached, offering her right hand to hold. He hesitated, glancing from his own to the one extended to him, unsure as to whether or not he should accept the gesture.

"It's quite a shame, Blitzy," Stolas observed as the doodle and sludge hallucinations of Blitzo's friends and family began to fade from view behind him, "considering this is often how you treat those who stand by you, especially those nearest and dearest to you...and important colleagues such as myself."

Unfortunately, by the time that Blitzo finally made up his mind, Heather had begun to dematerialize into a flurry of pink primrose petals, swirling about in the air around him, fluttering out of his reach. All the while, Stolas's words drove an icy pick into the imp's heart, spurring a slew of confusing and horrifying emotions to attack him from the inside out.

"Are you worried that one day, we may grow impatient with your impulsive recklessness as well? "

"Stop fucking talking!" Blitzo snapped, his voice cracking, "All of you! You don't know what the hell you're saying!"

"On the contrary, Blitzy," Stolas countered, vanishing in the growing curtain of petals, "I'm certain the only one here who doesn't is you."

Blitzo gaped after him in shock, unaware of the rush of primrose essence swarming around him until it was too late, leaving him entrapped in their merciless tornado, which quickly began to close in on him. Heather's voice, once gentle and sweet, had lost all its warmth, resonating with the stone-cold edge of a sharpened knife.

"You're going to die alone..."

The voices of everyone Blitzo knew thundered in his skull as his entire body was coated with stray petals, starting with his face and gradually reaching his tail and hands, binding them together. His erratic breathing left him gasping for air that didn't exist, and screaming for a way out that was nowhere in sight. Maybe he really was going to die here.

"You're gonna die alone, Blitzo."

"You're gonna die alone, Blitzo!"

"You're gonna die alone, Blitzo—"

And for a split second, he was almost positive that he did.