This piece takes place in a hypothetical, decidedly non-canon plotline, assumedly somewhere around the end of volume 3. It is not meant to tie into anything deeper, and whatever plot or backstory implications may be derived from it are there purely to facilitate putting this one very abstract scene from my mind into paper.
This small, immensely fun project is merely the product of my fascination with a truly spectacular comic that I stumbled upon a couple of weeks back, and have since been unable to get over its sheer brilliance. It was the kind of fascination that stayed with me long after I had closed the tab and tried to focus on other things -as I very much ought to be doing right about now- so I eventually decided to sit down for a quick drabble or two just to get it out of my system. "Bad Guy" was the end result of those attempts.
In short, it is nothing more than a standalone, ultimately pointless piece of fiction authored by an adoring fan. A fanfiction.
Do stick around for the end notes.
(And if you're only just hearing of this "Lackadaisy" thingie for the first time, I would direct you to the end notes immediately for some more information. Trust me, you will not regret it.)
In which Freckle nurses a crash
and Ivy finally gets an answer
The little tumbledown barn with the car-sized hole was reeling in the storm, timbers moaning under the heavy rain mercilessly hammering down upon its shabby, leaking roof. Each crack of thunder flashed a brief light upon the thin smattering of wet hay spread all over the ground, the sundry agrarian instruments hanging from the walls, the shattered glass of a broken lantern and the three suited toms occupying the interior.
One was sitting with his back against the planks of an empty horse stall at the far end of the barn, mud, dirt and hay coating the nifty fabric of his stylish black suit, but the man made no effort to clean himself up. Had it not been for the strain on his scarred, weasel-like visage –anger, mostly, and a touch of cold surprise- he would have almost looked at ease.
Another lay sprawled face-up in the middle of the outbuilding. This one seemed a little younger, bearing no scars but with a bandaged nose and a look of apprehension etched on his features, as if fearful that the creaking wood above would collapse in on them at any second; a reasonable concern, to be sure, though not quite the one reflected in those glassy eyes listlessly aimed towards the ceiling. He was dressed in a similarly high-end getup as the one by the stall, and his was just as dirty.
Both toms wore a lush boutonnière over their hearts, and neither was breathing.
The third one was, but just barely. He was leaning against the side of the hole, staring out into the dark cornfields stretching underneath the rumbling sky, back very deliberately turned to the two still figures inside the barn. He may as well have been standing out in the open for all the cover that gaping hole offered him, but he paid no mind; he just stayed there quietly gasping into the harsh rain, clutching himself tight, claws digging into the sleeves of his sodden coat yet unable to stop his paws from trembling.
But contrary to what an associate had claimed earlier that evening, this late May storm hadn't brought with it much of a chill. Despite all the water lashing against his whiskered face, fledgling hitman and rumrunner Calvin "Freckle" McMurray wasn't feeling any cold; only wrestling with the sickening nausea of a good old-fashioned, guilt-induced panic attack. It was to him like the inevitable crash after a high- a strong, particularly rapturous high his lucid self was none too partial to. He didn't much care for the crash, either.
It wasn't a first for him, by any measure. Timothy Hass, a portly boy from fourth grade who used to rather enjoy rough play in the school courtyard, could attest to that, as could Officer Westing, the last instructor to ever conduct a report on him back in the St. Lewis police academy. They, along with many others, had witnessed this small-built, mild-mannered bundle of fuzzy orange fur and inhibition fly off the handle in one heated moment or another, and if at any point they were impressed, it was certainly for all the wrong reasons.
The same could be said for the two beflowered malefactors, the last of whom had not expired until just a minute ago, as evinced by the still-smoking Tommy gun unceremoniously discarded on the ground a few steps behind Calvin. He wouldn't be needing that anymore, he knew. He had made good use of it.
That had been the high.
And this was the crash.
He'd heard folk describe blacking out during a night's drinking, only coming to the day after with a wicked headache and scarcely any memory of the outing. It wasn't like that for him. During his fits he was all there, fully focused and aware, and always recalled exactly what he had done. Worse yet, he recalled the sheer thrill of it, his own maniacal laugh echoing in his ears for a long time afterward through the dull buzz of dwindling adrenaline. It wasn't a matter of switching off his brain- only his scruples.
It'd be so much better if he didn't remember. Maybe then he could pretend it was someone else.
Wonder if that'd fly with St. Peter.
Wonder if that'd fly with mom.
Calvin chocked down a retch and focused back on his breathing.
His cousin used to call these episodes "the crazy dance" back when they were little, and though that may have been fine for overly enthusiastic scuffles in the backyard, Calvin thought it far too cutesy and affectionate a term to describe these latest few incidents. Choppers didn't just leave people with bruises; they drew blood, typically until the bullet wounds stopped bleeding altogether.
This little detail, he had recently found, made for an excruciatingly severe crash.
One minute passed, then another. He kept breathing -in, out, in, out- and before long another minute was gone and he was still sucking damp air into his lungs. Five more, he decided, and he'd be fine. Ten, tops.
Ten more minutes and he'd pick up the gun, walk past the two dead bodies, exit the barn through the main door, start up the pie truck he had parked just outside and drive off to the funeral home to report to his cousin and discuss their next move. This shootout wasn't part of the plan and it had most likely compromised their existing arrangement with the Arbogasts, but with any luck Rocky would have come up with a new strategy by now.
… On second thought, Calvin thought he might need an extra five minutes to steel himself before heading back.
He had only gotten to around seven when a voice suddenly called out his name from the entrance.
Well, sort of.
The voice was female, high-pitched and somewhat squeaky, loud enough to be heard clearly over the storm but tempered by a prudently cautious tone, given the circumstances. It was also familiar. In fact, it so happened that Calvin had grown particularly fond of that voice over the span of only two short days; but then again, kisses typically had that effect on callow toms such as he, even when they were little more than swift sardine-flavored pecks landed on the fly or shared in the front seat of an odoriferous pig truck.
Regardless, this was a bad time if there ever was one, and his shoulders stiffened at the sound. She must had driven there in the other truck, or maybe the hearse, but he had heard neither tires nor engine; she had probably parked further down and approached the barn on foot, just in case. That was the clever thing to do.
Was she alone…? Had she seen-
He winced into the darkness. Now she has.
Behind him, a thoroughly soaked Ivy Pepper had just flinched at the sight of the weasel-faced man, but immediately took a tentative step closer to examine his corpse once she recognized it as such. Calvin couldn't see, but she was brandishing a small loaded pistol, meaning she had indeed borrowed the Arbogasts' hearse, with their consent or otherwise.
She stepped around the bloody puddle that had formed around the man, thinned by the water endlessly dripping down through the barn's roof, and as she did her eyes found the second tom lying on the ground just a few feet away. Both were still, rigid, decidedly lifeless. She lowered the pistol.
A curt sound escaped her, not quite a laugh or even a chuckle –more like a disbelieving hiccup- and she nodded approvingly at the macabre scene. Then, recognizing the danger had already been dealt with, she raised her voice and tried again.
It was his turn to flinch as the nickname echoed through the barn, hunching as if to hide behind his own diminutive frame. Ivy caught the movement and finally noticed the shadowy form standing in the downpour just beyond the damaged wall, identifying him instantly by the telltale color of his withered tail and the drenched trey of clubs sitting upright in the band of his hat. She started towards him on lively feet, entirely too nonchalant for a perky college girl surrounded by death and violent weather.
"There you are!" she exclaimed, cocking a brow at the Tommy gun abandoned amid the water and hay. "Why aren't you-"
The coated figure, ill-defined against the cloudy background of the drowning corn field, had just shifted as Freckle straightened his back and squeezed both refractory paws together, shutting his mouth and drawing deep breaths through the nose in a last-ditch effort to compose himself before she could approach.
But all Ivy saw was him tensing up, shoulders heaving silently to the rhythm of heavy, ragged breathing.
She was beside him not a second later, grabbing him by the arm and shaking urgently, trying to spin him around and get a look at his face. "Hey… Hey! Are you hurt? Let me see…!"
Forked lightning danced across the sky just as she got him to meet her gaze, and they both kept silent through the rumble that followed. The flash revealed no visible sign of injury, but there was more than enough to give Ivy pause: a set of wide, sunken eyes were staring back at her from under the brim of his hat, tight lips slumping miserably under the weight of damp fur and shock, paws clenching each other hard enough to wring them dry but still unable to cease their constant quivering.
This simple statement was so at odds with both his afflicted countenance and the hoarse, quavering voice it was delivered in that Ivy almost guffawed in response. Almost.
"You… don't look fine."
"N-no, really. I- hm!" He cleared his throat and started over. "It's… better than last time. Really." His eyes drifted away from hers and back to the overcast field. "I just… needed some air."
More water than air out here, Ivy thought, squinting as a cascade of raindrops smashed against her face, but she said nothing. Somehow, it didn't feel like an appropriate time for quips.
"Rocky's… is he with you?"
She shook her head. "No… no, um- he's still at the funeral home, probably. Bobby's mad at us, says we got 'em in a world of trouble with how this all went. He wouldn't let us leave, but I snuck out and… thought you might, uh…" She trailed off and bit her lip, eyeing him from the side with a look of growing concern. He was nodding at empty space with the absent air of someone who was no longer listening, and she didn't think he had blinked once the entire time she was there.
This was most certainly not "fine".
The pistol slipped inside the pocket of her checkered jacket and she shuffled closer, looping both arms around Calvin's in one fluid, resolute motion. She began to pull at him tenderly, chin perched atop his shoulder to allow her to speak directly into one of his flagged ears. "Hey… come on, now," she cooed. "Let's get a roof over our heads first, hmm?"
He stared blankly at her for a second, not seeming to have understood. "… Oh… oh no, I'm- I'll just… look, you go ahead and-"
"Calvin," she cut him off, tightening her grip in a way that warned against further objection. "Shut up. I'm staying with you either way. It's just that I am already soaked to the bone, and would really like us both to step out of the rain now. Okay?" Her tone was level, soothing, but above all intransigent. A less feeble Calvin would have stood no chance. "Come on. You can get your air inside, yeah?"
He said nothing, but numbly obliged when she tugged again and allowed her to lead him through the hole back inside the barn. Ivy stayed wrapped tightly around his arm, half-pulling, half-supporting him, distrustful of the way his feet wobbled under him at each step. She was muttering nondescript encouragements to him they went, subtly adjusting her pace to keep herself between him and the painfully conspicuous body lying in full view on the ground just a few paces away.
Ivy picked a small, relatively intact haystack near the opposite corner and sat him down on it, making sure their backs were turned to the rest of the barn. The haystack felt about as comfortable as a wet sponge when she joined him, caving under the weight and releasing a new wave of moisture into her breeches, but it was still preferable to the full brunt of the raging storm. She removed her soggy cap and set it aside, then glanced at Freckle who had made no move to dispense with his own, equally saturated headwear. She bit her lip again.
Ivy Pepper was the kind of girl who'd boast to anyone willing to listen –save, of course, for when that could spell unwanted trouble- that she knew a thing or two about murderers.
Such characters were a staple in the criminal underworld that had enthralled her from an early age, the world of her late godfather's once-prosperous establishment. Lackadaisy's lavish splendor had been quick to claim her heart the moment she had first stepped foot into its luxurious secret caverns, yet she knew better than anyone that this was but half of her beloved speakeasy's unique charm. It wasn't just pretty lights and cheerful atmosphere and jazzy tunes and classy folk sitting around merrily sipping their expensive drinks; it was also that the drinks in question were illegal. Glamor, after all, could become so fatally dull without a sense of danger to it.
In Ivy's case, this sense of danger was provided in spades by the numerous unsavory cutthroats that frequented the shop back in the day, and so the girl was very glad for them. These bootleggers, muggers, hired guns were all just so damn interesting that young Ivy simply couldn't help herself- she had to engage, to prod, to inquire and to pester, see what she could find out and what she could get away with. Most truly just came and went; others were a steady presence in the Lackadaisy, and indeed her own vacations there. Some she had even come to genuinely care for over time, although she was just finding out that these brutish killer sorts could be real grade-A jerks sometimes.
So, yeah- she had met her fair share of murderers, despite being largely sheltered from the minutiae of their trade until very recently, and had long learnt that they came in all shapes and sizes, from all different walks of life. Some had become so by circumstance, or opportunism; others were scarred men, twisted by one tragedy or another, unable to settle back into a quiet, peaceful life; and others still were just inordinately ambitious, dreaming of the day they would shoot and stab their way to a prestigious position of their own. They each killed out of greed, loyalty or for lack of a better option, but once they took up the craft, there was one thing that they all had in common. They did not hesitate.
By the time they were committed enough to officially join one of the major gangs, they had already made their peace with the morality of the profession, or its lack thereof, and never concerned themselves with it afterward. This was easier for some and more difficult for others, but in the end it was an inevitable conclusion for anyone who was serious about going down that road. Just as morality never factored into Lackadaisy's appeal, it didn't factor into the work of its shadiest operatives. That's just how it was, how it always had been.
Which now left Ivy with a rather unexpected quandary: how, pray tell, does one console a conscience-stricken killer-for-hire?
Eventually the silence grew too thick to bear, and she decided she had to say something.
"Ssso, uh… guess you really do know your way around a gunfight, huh…! H-heh…" She was mentally smacking her forehead before the words even left her mouth. She truly had no clue how to handle this.
Freckle, for one, didn't react as badly as one might have feared. A shudder went up his spine but was promptly forced back down to the clenched paws burrowed into his lap, and the rest of him didn't so much as twitch. But this, along with the glassy, expressionless eyes persistently glued to an undefined spot in the mud, only went to show that the boy was still near catatonic.
Next to him, Ivy quickly gathered herself and prepared to try again.
"Look, I… I get that this is hard on you," she began, leaning in and placing both paws over his forearm in an attempt to get him to look up. It didn't work. "I really do. But Freckle, these guys- they were gangsters. Career thugs." Same as us. "Scoundrel gunslingers in Marigold's payroll. They knew exactly what they were getting into, what the risks were… and what was expected of them. I assure you, they were anything but innocent. Hardly worth weeping over, wouldn't you say…?"
This time Calvin stirred, and Ivy, in a stroke of inspiration, reached up to his sodden hat and gently pulled it off, resting it on her lap with a soft, comforting smile. To her immense satisfaction, this little playful gesture was what seemed to finally get through to him. He sat up and turned to face her, slowly, shakily, but as his eyes swam towards focus she could tell that he was about to speak.
"I-I know," he croaked, then gulped hard before continuing. "I know, that's- that's what I… I mean, they're… they were criminals. And they had guns, and- and they were going to kill us." His brows began to furrow, voice growing progressively stronger until he was gushing like a kid desperately laying out excuses after being caught working a mischief. "And, you know, even in the police they allow… they give you a pass if it's in self-defense, right? Everybody knows that…!"
"Yes! Exactly!" Ivy enthused with a flick of her tail. This kind of animated response was the absolute best she could have hoped for.
"See, I know…!" Freckle went on. "I didn't- I was prepared now, it's not- it wasn't gonna… I told you, it was better than last time. It was."
Ivy frowned lightly at that. How the hell was last time, then?
Suddenly his shoulders sank again, eyes dropping pitifully back down to the wet ground. Ivy was still holding onto him, and felt for herself the fresh quiver that shot up his arm and shook him whole. Her smile melted away along with all the apparent progress she had just made.
"But he… he wasn't dead."
Now confused as well as worried, Ivy was about to push for an explanation, but it was offered before she could ask. "Him," Freckle added tersely, cocking his head to indicate rearward but refusing to look himself. She didn't need to look to understand, either; right behind them was the corpse of one of the two Marigold men, the one without the weasel-like contours. It was also very much that: a corpse.
She ran a paw up and down his arm, hoping to ease the trembling. "Um, what… what do you mean, he wasn't dead?"
"H-he, uh… when I- ah." He drew in a deep breath, then released it in a gasping, wheezing sigh. "I was… walking past him… but he wasn't dead, and he- he grabbed my leg." His voice came low and brittle, hitching and cracking constantly as he spoke, and he had to pause numerous times to get a single sentence out. Ivy almost struggled to catch his words over the storm. "And he said, um… he… muttered something…" Another pause. Another shaky breath. "… something about his girl."
Ivy waited a moment for him to continue, but it didn't look like he could. Nor did he need to, really.
She glanced over her shoulder at the man lying stiff in the runny mud, arms bent in a funny angle over his torso, empty eyes half-lid and mouth slightly ajar. Frozen on his bandaged face was the shadow of a terrified, pleading look, formed with thoughts of a dear sweetheart in the final moments before his strength had given out for good.
"Couldn't have been much older than us," Calvin mumbled into his knees, drawing her eyes back to him. He was hunching all the way now, tight-lipped and wide-eyed just as when she had first found him standing out in the rain, and were it not for the strained heaving of his chest he wouldn't have looked much livelier than the two men he had just killed. "And I, uh… I-I…
"… I just needed some air."
Ivy expected to say something then. She expected to scoop closer, rub his back in a solicitous manner and start running her mouth like she knew how, speaking of this and that and who knows what until she said the right thing the right way and he was all cheered up, or at the very least distracted. This was her forte, after all, the one talent she found she could always fall back on to get her out of a tight spot, and the perfect tool to have available at a time like this. So surely, the right thing for her to do –the natural thing- was to immediately start talking.
But she didn't. When she opened her mouth no words, no spurts of beguiling, honey-dipped loquacity or bright, vivacious wit came to her, and for a moment she couldn't understand why. It was not until she stopped trying and paused to contemplate the shriveled tom sitting next to her on that damp, wretchedly uncomfortable block of hay facing the corner of a rickety barn in the middle of the storm, ears flat against his skull and whiskers still dripping with fresh rainwater, that she realized why she could not seem to summon any of her usual glibness. At that moment Freckle looked so deeply shaken, so profoundly miserable in every sense of the word, that all the idle talk she could muster was rendered moot in advance.
There was but one thing she could say to him now that would have any meaning- one thing she wanted to say, and for once get a straight response out of him.
She might have spoken his name then, but Calvin didn't hear it. He was focused entirely on a single stalk of hay between his feet, staring intensely at it, waiting for the world to stop spinning and his paws to stop shaking and the face of a frightened young lad in his early twenties as he bled out into the dirty mud to stop flashing before his eyes. No outside noise could reach him, be it the heavy rain crashing down against the rooftop or the crack of nearby thunder or the words of a friendly voice trying to pull him out of himself and offer some relief.
Then he felt a pair of dainty paws move further down his arm and close softly around his own, and he was back to his senses with a start. He tried to pull away by reflex, but Ivy clutched firmly and brought the seized paw over to her lap, setting it by the hat she had removed from his head only minutes ago. His struggling soon fizzled out and she loosened her grip, stroking again and again until the tension began to fade and his paw settled compliantly in her embrace, for all its continuous shaking.
He didn't look up, and she didn't rush him. She just kept holding onto his paw in silence, patiently waiting for a sign that he was ready to exchange words again. Freckle found himself wishing she would say something now, preferably something peppy and trivial; wishing that the gaze resting on the side of his head wasn't suddenly so calm and unwavering; wishing that her soft, padded palms didn't feel as warm as they did so he could resume his efforts of trying to drown everything out and exist as little as possible. But there she was, dead-set on gently coaxing him back into reality, and once again he was completely helpless to resist her.
He swallowed thickly, exhaled, then slowly looked from his feet to hers, on to the cluster of paws sitting next to his father's old hat, and finally to the set of determined yellow eyes tacitly requesting his attention.
"What are you doing here, Freckle?"
He blinked, because his own eyes were dry and he didn't understand. "Wuh…?"
"What are you doing here?" she repeated with a sigh. "This- all of this… it's a villain's job, Freckle, however you spin it. A job for a bad guy. And you're not it."
In keeping with his demeanor so far, Ivy had expected a blank stare, more stammering or just another drawn-out silence while he collected himself enough to give an answer. What she got instead was a curt, spontaneous scoff that broke into a wan chuckle midway, complete with an abject shake of his head.
"Heh… could'a fooled me."
A furious scowl pulled at Ivy's features, and she yanked him upright before he could lapse again. "You're not!" she averred. "I've seen bad guys, okay? I know bad guys. When bad guys tally up a kill under their belt, they either brag about it over drinks or think nothing of it at all! And they sure as hell don't-" Her throat caught as she noticed the startled look he was giving her, and the anger melted back to worry. She squeezed his paw anew and checked her tone before resuming. "… they don't get like this over a victorious mutual shootout, you dolt," she concluded the thought with an askew smile.
It was faint, but for a passing moment Ivy could swear the paw on her lap had stopped trembling.
"No, you're no bad guy, Calvin McMurray," she went on, eager to capitalize on the change. "And it's safe to say you don't want to be one, either. So tell me, what are you doing here really?" She was a bit annoyed to realize she had been asked a similarly worded question not too long ago, but cast that bothersome thought aside for now. She was finally making headway. "Why'd you come all the way out here tonight to play criminal with us in this godawful weather…? Why did you even let Rocky drag you into all this in the first place?
"What are you doing this for, Freckle?"
Ivy studied his face closely, ready to quell any intention of prevaricating the moment it manifested itself, but she found none. His frown bespoke no reticence, but only serious, careful thought, perhaps –hopefully- in the interest of giving her a full and comprehensive answer. In any case, there was no mistaking it now: he didn't look quite as haggard as he did a minute ago, and it had been a good few seconds since his last real shiver. Were it not for the proverbial curiosity still keeping her from feeling truly satisfied, Ivy Pepper would have already been basking in her sweet, hard-earned triumph.
Calvin was now absorbed in these inquiries that had so blissfully distracted him, and he still lacked the presence of mind to consider whether he truly wanted to share with her the answer. In the wake of this newest breakdown, it seemed more important to see if he could articulate it to himself first and foremost, so that's exactly what he set off to do. His eyes trailed back to the mud, now pensive rather than exanimate, and he began to ponder.
Was there any reason for all this…? Was there anything in the world that could possibly justify this abhorrent streak of criminality?
Was there really any motive that could excuse the willful, knowing carnage he had wrought there tonight? He had come hoping for the best, sure enough, wishing that they could get through the job with no blood having to be spilled, but he knew exactly what the Tommy gun was for when he picked it up and what he'd have to do with it if things went awry. He was also painfully aware of his own worst tendencies and the way he would delight in the ensuing violence, exactly as it happened. Not to mention, the Defiance job itself –along with quite literally every other aspect of the speakeasy business- was hardly innocuous to begin with.
What he was doing flew straight in the face of every moral value he possessed, every concept of goodness and propriety known to him, and his aversion to that fact mattered none. A reluctant murderer was no less a murderer, and no less culpable for it. The sins of a sinner didn't weigh less heavily on their back simply because they were aware of them during the deed. Ivy, bless her soul, had gotten it all wrong; morality wasn't something as simple as a remonstrating conscience, but also one's readiness to heed its call and mend their wicked ways. It was a choice, and he had made his the moment he had agreed to fall in with the Lackadaisy crew.
He was a bad person. That was a fact, much as he resented it. And he had become so consciously, inviting every ounce of righteous guilt he was now racked with, along with the heaps of trouble that were bound to follow further down the line, unto himself.
Was there really sufficient reason for all that…?
Sure, there was. Certainly.
Because decent, God-fearing people with the best intentions could sometimes make the cruelest choices.
Because nice, obedient kids often lacked the necessary gall to stand up for what truly mattered.
Because he had been striving for goodness all his life, and it had left something to be desired- something far too precious, far too important to let slip away a second time.
Because being a bad person wasn't nearly his biggest regret.
Ivy had kept patiently silent until now, but curiosity got the best of her in the end. Calvin blinked away from the ground to find her leaning forward, head cocked inquisitively at him, golden eyes alight with such keen interest that it seemed almost afflictive. It could be the enormous sense of gratitude he felt towards her, or otherwise because he was just inclined to please by nature and still too shaken to suppress the urge, but in that moment he decided he was going to oblige her.
And for the first time since she'd met him, Ivy saw his large, timid eyes glint with a sort of conviction. A sad, sorry, begrudging conviction, one that somehow retained that look of reserved anxiety he always had about him- but it was there nonetheless, and when he finally spoke, it did not falter.
"I'd rather be a bad guy than leave him on his own again."
I originally had no plans for uploading anything that came out of my Lackadaisy drabbles, even after they unexpectedly started taking on a semi-publishable form. I suppose I was reluctant to involve myself too actively in an ongoing story I was so deeply invested in, or fiddle around with characters I love who are still in the process of being explored by their creator. This is why I keep referring to it as "drabbles" even now- it was never meant to be anything more than a bunch of nonsensical "what-if"s and "wouldn't-that-be-cool"s I juggled around in my mind during the lazy hours of the day while excitedly musing over the comic, as I always catch myself doing with any media that claims my interest on that level. I enjoy nothing more than adding my spin on something I like and sharing it with the world, but in all honesty, Lackadaisy felt a bit too good for that.
Part of what changed my mind was this: Lackadaisy, while easily one of the highest quality works I've ever encountered period, appears to be criminally obscure. It boggles my mind that I didn't find out about it sooner, considering how everyone familiar with it online rightly has nothing but praise to offer, myself now included. I understand the trying upload schedule is a huge factor in that, but even so, it was a heartbreaking ralization. It is the long-term passion project of an extremely talented and dedicated artist, and it certainly deserves better.
So, seeing as I've amassed a modest following here on this site through my Zootopia works, I figured this could serve as a bit of an advertisement for the original work, if I made my Author's Notes obnoxiously conspicuous enough. That, and sometimes a new post under a fandom's tag can be enough to bring it to more people's attention, if only a few. Hopefully it has succeeded.
You can find the original comic over at Lackadaisycats-dot-com, and also on WebToons. Do yourself a favor and go check it out.
Thank you very much for reading!