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The day had started off horribly and while she'd tried to convince herself it would only get better, it hadn't. It had only gotten worse. She'd overslept and hadn't been at Albatraoz to meet the man who was delivering and setting up the new oven in the kitchen. It had been out of commission for two weeks now and that meant no hot food could be served - something that was sorely missed. The customers were missing it and the club was missing the money that came from it. It wasn't lost upon her that perhaps Bartholomew, the actual owner of Albatraoz, should be the one to meet the oven, but he was hard to track down on a regular basis - let alone when he was absolutely needed.
She'd spent an hour on the phone trying to convince them to return with the oven later that day and she'd had to pay extra to get it done, but they'd showed up around two and the oven was now safely secure and working in the kitchen for tonight's performances. Just when Kizzy had thought she could take a breath, the two main spotlights went out. It had taken everything in her to not scream out in frustration, to not lose her cool, especially when their handy man decided it wasn't in his job description to climb up onto the catwalk and work his burly self over to the lights to replace the bulbs. Which meant she had to do it.
Which was where she currently was. Kneeling down on the too narrow and perhaps too thin board that hung hundreds of feet above the tables and seating below. Kizzy forced herself to not look down as she switched out the last light bulb, keeping her balance with some kind of practiced ease. Her heart beat rapidly as she pushed herself up, swaying slightly with the structure, and started the gentle walk back to the rafters so she could take the much safer stairs back to the main floor. To say her patience was nonexistent would be an understatement. Kizzy's feet landed firmly on the floor and she tossed the burnt out bulbs at Ralph without a word or a backward glance to see if he caught them. She was tired of having to fix everything, to manage everything.
Her phone buzzed in her back pocket as she made her way through the winding corridors of the backstage area toward the dressing rooms and the main office. Tate's name was on the screen and she unlocked it to read his message. Kizzy let out a slow breath. It would be good to see him, to talk to him. He was the only other person in their group who really remembered. Jack had bits and pieces of his memory and Kizzy tried desperately to keep those other bits and pieces from slamming into him, making him go a bit crazy as it had done her. There wasn't anyone else she could truly talk to about it all at first. Then there was Tate and it was as if this heavy burden left her chest enough for her to breathe again. She never let anyone in on how twisted up she was, but she came the closest whenever she and Tate talked about home.
Kizzy passed the back entrance and flipped the lock open as she went, heading toward the main dressing room and into the closet where she could pick out her costume for later that night. It was mere moments later when Tate's voice reached her ears. She took a second to peruse a couple of dresses, unsure of which she preferred, and then opted to just go with both before leaving the closet and spotting Tate sitting on the edge of a table, a slushie in hand. Her face, which hadn't lit up at all that day, broke into a bright smile and she draped the dresses over the back of a chair before practically hopping to where Tate sat. She picked up the second slushie and hummed in delight, her eyes landing on the pumpkin seeds and then her gaze narrowing as she lifted it to look her friend in the eyes. "Are you buttering me up for something?" She arched an eyebrow and sipped the glorious drink of pure sugar and ice, waiting for his answer. It was possible he'd just thought of her, wanted to talk to her, but Kizzy could spot a possible bribe from a mile away. After all, she was the queen of them.
Kizzy sighed in understanding at Tate's question. That was what this was going to be about. The pumpkin seeds were a way to get her buttered. There wasn't a sense of disappointment in her chest, because she figured where this conversation was going would only be in the best interest of someone they both cared about. Even if Kizzy wasn't a fan of what she was pretty certain Tate's stance on the entire situation would be. She said nothing as she sat on the concrete floor, her legs crossed and tucked underneath her. She balanced her slushie on her knee and opened the bag of pumpkin seeds, not looking up at Tate. "14," was the only thing she said in response to his first question. There was no pride in her tone, just fact. She wasn't proud that she kept pushing away whatever chance of happiness Jack might have. It just had to be that way because there were bigger things that he didn't know about.
She got the bag of seeds open and picked through them as she listened to Tate talk, leveling at her the same thoughts she had in her head all the time - on a loop. What if Sally didn't show up? Was she really going to continue to do this for the rest of their lives? No. The answer was no. She wouldn't. If Jackson found someone who truly made him happy - someone he would actively fight to see - then Kizzy would back off. As it was... he hadn't put up much of a fight yet and so Kizzy firmly believed that there wasn't someone else out there yet and until that time happened... she'd continue to run the not-Sallys off. There weren't many people she could talk to about this with. Actually, Tate was the only one. Yet he couldn't ever fully understand her motives, either, and she knew that.
Kizzy popped a few seeds into her mouth and chewed them up, letting a silence settle around them and still refusing to look at Tate. It wasn't that she was ignoring or avoiding the question. She was just trying to figure out how to respond without seeming... desperate about the entire situation. After a sip of her slushie, Kizzy looked up at her friend. They weren't close like she and Jack were, but they were friends and while she probably couldn't tell someone one simple fact about Tate - like his favorite color - she could probably root somewhere in her memories of Halloween Town and find a good memory that had him in it. It was a strange world they lived in, a strange ordeal they went through, and the two of them were the only ones amongst their group that remembered most if not all of it.
"I've never been in love, you know," Kizzy finally started to answer, knowing that the way she would answer would serve to confuse him, but hoping he'd just sit there and wait for her to get to the meat of her response. "I mean... I'm pretty certain the closest I've ever gotten to love is how I felt about my ball back home. But there's a part of me that thinks that real love, true love, is meant for only one person in your life. That person for Jack is Sally. Which means she's going to show up one day." There was a bit of a hopeless romantic deep in her bones and Kizzy both loved and hated it. Loved it because it was a beautiful thing to be so optimistic. Hated it because it made her so unbearably lonely sometimes. She popped a few more seeds in her mouth and chewed, thinking for another second or so. "Jack deserves the best kind of happiness. And if he finds that happiness - really, truly, finds it... then he'll fight for it. He'll do more than shake his head at me and give me that 'really, Kizz?' look. Because when he finds that true love... it'll be worth the fight. And when he actually starts that fight with me, I'll back off. Even if she's Not Sally." Kizzy looked up at Tate, her light gaze almost translucent as she studied him. "It makes me a crummy best friend, I know. Please don't remind me." It was a battle she had with herself constantly. Jack deserved better as a friend and she knew it. She just never expressed it.
Tate sat beside her and she didn't look up at him as he spoke. She did nod, however, when he admitted he couldn't argue with her point. She knew it was a solid argument on her end. It was how she justified her actions and it was less of a justification and more of an understanding of why she did what she did. If Jack ever truly told her to back off, Kizzy would do it in a heartbeat. She loved Jackson. He was her best friend through everything. She didn't want him hurt or truly unhappy. If he found someone who made his heart sing, she'd leave it alone. But he hadn't yet and so she kept holding out hope for Sally and if she did show up after Jackson found that heart filled love... then they'd have to worry about a messy love triangle that Kizzy would likely try to resolve. She couldn't help trying to fix things.
At least one of her friends didn't think she was crummy, even if she told herself that she was continuously. It was more of a battle in her own head than anything else. After a while it was starting to wear her down, too. Kizzy slipped a pumpkin seed into her mouth and munched on it as Tate continued talking. It was a nice affirmation that he didn't think she was a bad friend and that he understood what she did was out of love for Jack. If only she could make herself truly see it that way. Part of her could, but she was still working on the other half. Kizzy sipped the slushie and finally glanced up at him when he asked his next question. She raised her eyebrows because if anyone were to be a possible Not Sally for Jack from Mister Unlucky's it was Ivy. But she doubted that was something that could be confirmed.
"Then he's gonna have to clean up his own mess when it becomes a problem. Dating someone from work never ends well." She didn't really speak from experience as Kizzy hadn't ever truly dated someone, but she'd known enough people who had. Hell, she had to fire two performers because they'd started dating and then it became a problem between the two of them when they broke up. It had broken her heart because they were so good, but... she hadn't any choice. It was making things awkward and tense around the place. If Jackson wanted to have a relationship with someone he employed, that was his prerogative and Kizzy would let it happen with the best hope in her heart that it worked out. If it didn't, though... she knew it would be bad.
Kizzy let out a slow breath, making sure not to blow weird bubbles into her slushie, not wanting the sticky substance to go everywhere. "Think I should stop? Leave him be? I don't know if I can, but I could sure try. I just know it'll be a mess if he falls for someone else and then Sally shows up. I can't even handle one of my friends being truly heart broken. Two of them? That would be..." She shook her head. She couldn't even find a word that adequately describe how it would feel to watch both Jack and Sally be miserable over each other. There'd been enough misery in their lives already.
Faith in Jack, however. That was something that Kizzy could have. She believed in Jack more than she believed in anyone else in her life. Even herself. It was her unending loyalty that seemed to transfer over from Halloween Town that made this a thing. She believed in Jack because he was her best friend, he was... Kizzy wasn't sure how to explain Jack. Or explain how she would do anything for him. Perhaps she needed to put space between herself and her best friend. Stop letting their lives be so intwined with the other. Actually, it wasn't like his life was intwined with hers, but she was rather wound up in his. It was keeping her from living her own, being her own person, finding her own love. Kizzy thought about it often enough and she hated how it made her feel. So she never spoke of it.
Except Tate seemed to be thinking the exact same thing because his next statement focused on precisely that. Kizzy closed her eyes and took a deep breath before sifting through the pumpkin seeds to find the 'perfect one' and prolong answering Tate's question. She didn't know how to go about responding to that. It made her chest tighten at the mere thought of it because she wasn't quite sure where the conversation would lead or if it could lead anywhere. She brushed a long strand of hair out of her eyes and then glanced up at her friend. "In order for me to be able to focus on anything, there has to be something worth focusing on and there's not. No interest in Kizzy from anyone. Even if I have interest in them. Not that I do because, well, I don't really get out and do much around here anymore. Work, mostly." She'd have to go out to meet someone and she didn't do that.
Tate brought up Tinder and booty calls and Kizzy let out a laugh, trying desperately to keep the slushie inside of her mouth instead of spraying it everywhere. "Mm, no. I don't think I'll go that route. Or speed dating for that matter. My already hyperactive personality might just make that worse." She knew she answered the last part first, because she wasn't sure how to tackle the first part. The question should be simple: was she not looking at all or right now? But the fact of the matter was that she wasn't not looking, it was that someone wasn't looking for her and unless someone came out of nowhere… it wasn't likely that she'd find a reason to focus on something other than Albatraoz. It was a pathetic excuse for an existence and she knew it, but she just didn't know how to go about doing something such as dating.
Exhaling slowly, Kizzy looked up at her friend and tried to mask the somewhat sadness in her grey eyes. She was always so happy, sadness didn't exist in Kizzy. Or, at least, that's what she made sure everyone thought. "I'm a ghost of a girl, Tate. Actually, if you want to be technical, I'm a ghost of a dog – which doesn't really make things much better. Relationships are weird for me. Dating is weird. I wouldn't even know where to start. Am I looking? Not actively. Am I not looking? Again, not actively. But who – in their right mind – is going to go after me when I'm…" Always hiding in the shadows, she thought. But that wasn't necessarily true. She was in the spotlight a lot. Her job depended on it. But… she felt like she was in the shadows. The background when it came to life.
Deciding she no longer wanted her lack of a love life to be the topic of conversation, Kizzy took a long drink of her slushie and then turned it around on her friend: "How about you? Any love on the horizon?" Her eyebrow arched at him and she gave him a smile, genuinely interested. And if it took them away from the topic of her – the better.