Free Food for the Starving Artist

Echo Echo 
open + outfit!

It had been a good night. Indra had premiered a couple of his new songs, and the crowd had responded really well to them. It was important to him that they were well received, since he was working on putting together an album that could also help him bring in a little more money. He'd resigned to the fact that he was never going to be a star- his bear made sure of that. But it didn't mean that music wasn't his calling or that he had to give it up.

Luckily, playing at Echo Echo had other perks as well. In addition to getting a small check, he was also given free food and drink. The burger, cooked rare as he liked it, was finally placed in front of him, and both he and his bear grunted approvingly. The one burger would've been plenty of food once upon a time, but Indra had to sustain more than just himself these days. Luckily it would hold him over until he could leave and hit up the McDonalds back home.

He bit into the burger greedily, and while the bear pushed for him to devour it quickly, Indra was still taking his time.

Outfit = this but with plain black cap

Echo Echo was on Robin's list of venues to drop into whenever she had a night free. It was exactly the kind of cozy, informal atmosphere she loved for listening to live music, and their beers on tap were no small draw on their own. She had stopped by for a drink after work, and had ended up staying to listen to the musician's set; he was good, and she was actually pretty sure she'd seen him perform somewhere before.

He came up to the bar to dig into a burger, and she leaned toward him across a pair of empty seats, taking the opportunity to start an ill-timed conversation right as he bit down. "Hey, great job tonight!"

Indra typically liked to chew his food slowly, taking the time to savor it and actually taste each component. The first bite was nearly always the best, and he'd been prepared to ignore his bear, as he often did, and take his time. Unfortunately, life had another decision for him in the form of a woman deciding to talk to him as soon as the first bite was in his mouth. If it wasn't because she was complimenting him, he might've been a little annoyed, but since it was such a thing, he quickly chewed his food, swallowed, and looked to the woman with a smile.

Even though it was a struggle to put down the burger and talk to the woman, he did just that. "Hey thanks!" he said enthusiastically, always enjoying when people liked his music. He took in her appearance and grinned. "Great job to you too!" His grin turned into his common mischievous smirk as he added on, "You know, on looking that damn good."

Out of some innate instinct to appear small and cute, she grinned and picked up her beer stein two-handed, taking a swig as he thanked her. She was mid-swallow when he unleashed a completely unexpected pickup line, with inevitable results: she choked on her beer, spluttering and spilling as she managed to set the thing back down. Coughing ferociously, she squinted at him with a look that was either resentful or mortified; it was hard to tell. She kicked the bar and choked out something that sounded like "Oh my god!"

Indra held the same mischievous smirk as he watched the woman sputter and cough. One day, he knew, the people of Mountainside were going to be used to his antics, and then he didn't know what he was going to do to make things awkward with new people. But for now, he was content in watching the woman try to process what had just been said.

After she finally managed to get words out, Indra's smirk changed back to a pleasant smile. "I'm Indra," he said, holding out his hand for a handshake.

She was laughing while choking, but also could see his fucking smirk and did not appreciate it, thank you very much. She reached for a paper napkin and dabbed at her eyes and her shirt while she caught her breath. "And I'm dead. Hi, Indra." She grabbed his hand for a fatigued sort of handshake, still dealing with the fact that her life had just flashed before her eyes. "Robin. You get that reception everywhere you go?"

"Hmm. Dead Robin. You look very much alive." He thought about throwing in a vampire joke, but decided not to at the last minute simply because a lot of people tended to be weirded out by the entire vampire situation. "Can't say many people nearly choke when they first meet me." There was more he could say on that topic, but again, he decided to keep it to himself.

He stood up from his seat and moved down the few that separated him and Robin, dragging his plate with him. "So, do you come here often?" It was a cliche question, but he figured he'd give the woman a moment to ease back into the conversation.

"Only on the outside," she replied with a smile and a wink, leaning an elbow on the bar. The plate slid near, and without thinking about it she reached forward to grab a fry. Choke tax. She popped it into her mouth and chewed as the next pickup line rolled toward her.

"Yeah, a couple times a month maybe? I actually think I've seen you play before." She squinted speculatively at him, nodding. "I think you were better this time." Apparently something had been decided: if he was going to pitch lowball come-ons left and right, she was going to sling shit right back.

The bear inside gruffed at the french fry being stolen from his plate, but Indra kept his reins on the bear and merely arched a brow at the stolen fry. The food was free, and he could handle one less fry than before, so he said nothing about it. In fact, while she took her time eating his fry, he took another bite from his burger; another quick chew because he didn't want to keep Robin waiting too long.

He grinned as she said she'd seen him before, but that he played better this time around. He didn't mind someone being a little feisty with him. "I must've been better if you felt the need to only talk to me now," he said easily. "I guess I'm gonna have to eventually become the world's greatest musician if I have to keep playing better each time for you to talk to me."

He gave a small chuckle and leaned closer to the woman. "So, Robin," he paused, as though he was about to say something really seductive- "do you hear more jokes about Batman or birds?"

She let out a short laugh, hardly charmed but encouraging. "That's the spirit." Already he was leaning into her space — again she was not interested but allowing it — but he surprised her with something clean. She wrinkled her nose for a second, thinking. "Mostly Batman stuff, except from old people. You got a good one you wanna get out of your system?"

Ah, she was positively adorable when she wrinkled her nose. Indra chuckled just a bit, letting his eyes softer into kindness for just a moment before they turned playful again. "Oh, dear Robin, I'm afraid I'm far too unoriginal when it comes to jokes based on names. I could ask you if you wanted to be my sidekick and show me how you make a boy wonder, but I have a feeling you've probably heard it many, many times."

And if she hadn't, well, that certainly was disappointing because she looked like a doll and the joke was funny for someone who wouldn't hear it often.

Dear Robin. The amount of game Indra was playing with was off-putting to her, but he seemed like he might be pleasant enough underneath. She groaned and leaned back, covering her face. "Boy Wonder comments are off the table. I just got off work and I am not here to be sexy." She squinted at her beer, wanting another drink but wary of being tricked into a repeat performance. "How many times out of ten does the pickup routine get you somebody?"

Indra held up his hands in defeat. While he liked to flirt, if someone wanted him to stop, he was going to be respectful of that. He liked people. He wanted people to like him. Sure, he enjoyed teasing complete strangers, but never to the point of absolute annoyance. He grabbed his own beer and took a swig of it, but his bear demanded another bite of burger, and he couldn't deny the beast that. So, while Robin asked him about how good his game actually was, he took another bite.

He smiled as he chewed, allowing himself a little bit of time to think of something good to say. "Oh, absolutely zero. I'm still a virgin. Why do you think I try so hard?" He gave a puppy dog pout to finish off the joke before he finally broke into yet another easy smile. Generally his pickup lines didn't work, but he wasn't just interested in picking people up. If his lines worked, then he was happy for it. But mostly, he just enjoyed the reactions from people.

Infuriatingly, the joke got her, and she laughed genuinely, again. "Ah, well, better luck next time, buddy. I'm sure you'll get there." Still a little giggly, she reached for her beer and took a satisfying drink. She then eyed his fries for a moment, but held herself back. "You do this full time?"

He enjoyed seeing her laugh, and knew then that she wasn't interested in him. That was fine, of course. He liked people in general, and he was just as happy with a new friend as he would be with a date.

"Partly," Indra answered. "I don't get paid a whole lot here doing shows, but people buying my music helps. The bulk of my money comes from playing street corners and getting change that way. It doesn't pay well, but I have a nice landlord and I like what I do." He smiled warmly then, and slid his plate between the two of them. "Help yourself to the fries. Just know that I can be a real bear if someone touches my burger." He grinned again, enjoying his own joke, even if no one else in the venue would understand.

Free fries! She didn't pause for a second, diving in to procure a specimen and bite into it with gusto. "You ever wish you were born earlier, so you could make money off selling CDs?" She'd listened to radio stories about that, right? Musicians just didn't make good money since the advent of digital files. But Robin was a dream-follower too, in her own way; she would never dump on someone choosing to follow their dream if they were happy enough playing street corners. It took a village, or whatever.

Speaking of burger- Indra picked the sandwich up again and took a big bite, allowing himself to chew slower this time as he watched Robin grab another fry. Another question came and Indra contemplated it as he chewed the burger. "Well," he started, swallowing the last bit of mashed up sandwich in his mouth, "I guess it'd be nice to make some more money from CDs, but I don't really travel a lot, so it'd be kind of pointless, you know? Even when CDs were a thing, most famous musicians made the bulk of their money from ticket sales for tours and merchandise."

He ran his hand through his hair, shaking out the ends. "I'm not looking for fame and a bunch of money anyway." That dream had died when he was attacked and infected. "Maybe someday I'll need to stop busking and actually find steady work my parents would approve of," he paused to give the girl a grin, "But I'm happy where I am right now. You only live once, and I'm just out here trying to live my best life."

"I hear that," she agreed with another grin, straightening up a little in order to take a drink. "Well, hey, thanks for living the dream even if your parents don't approve. You're great up there." She gave him a wink. "Enjoy your burger."

With that, she was happy to leave Indra (and his fries) in peace, finishing her beer, maybe ordering one more.

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