By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
Things were… strange. Confusing. Her brain almost felt fuzzy trying to think too hard about it. And why did she even need to think? Was it not enough to just… enjoy someone’s company, enjoy kissing them, enjoy… other things, and… kind of want to keep enjoying them? It didn’t have to get complicated, there was no reason for that. It was just- it was nice to feel like she could start opening up to someone without that lingering fear in the back of her mind that she was walking into some sort of trap. Having friends in general was a new experience for someone so used to living and working and surviving on her own, because getting other people involved only served to get them hurt or killed, or put herself in jeopardy for trusting the wrong person. Pandora had been a second chance, in more ways than one, so really, what was the harm in just… relaxing, and letting whatever happened just… happen?
Apparently, Maria was no better at handling her emotions where other people were involved, than she was at admitting when she needed help.
Not that she needed help. She was fine. Perfectly fine. She just… needed to talk to someone.
Not even talk talk. Just… hang out with. Exist beside. Someone who wasn’t one of the boys—she’d come to care for them all deeply, enough that it was almost frightening, because these relationships were all new and fragile and she was just disconnected from their lives enough that she’d managed to shove her foot in her mouth more than once, and the only thing worse than not having friends to begin with was having them only to lose them—and with whom she could… well…
Did it still count as girltalk if they were both grown-ass women slamming back vodka shots? (Or whatever Toby might drink—Maria really wasn’t sure.)
She probably should have called first, but frankly, her head was buzzing so much that she didn’t even realize what part of Pandopolis she’d wandered into until she was looking at a building with DAYE INVESTIGATIONS emblazoned on the door. Huh.
Maria hadn’t realized that Toby’s office was in Midcourt, too. This move was seeming like a better idea by the minute.
There was a moment where she considered that she should probably call first, but—well, she was here, and she liked Toby and had been wanting to check in with her anyway, at least to say hi, and what was the worst that could happen? So she pushed open the door, letting her eyes adjust to the light inside as she pushed her cloak back over her shoulders. She flashed the receptionist a rueful grin, lifting one shoulder in half a shrug. “Don’t s’pose your, er… boss is available, is she?” she asked. “You can tell her it’s Maria asking.”
Toby had had a bit of a day. Her agent had called, new offer on an old deal, she had to take it apparently. But did Toby really want to be in that adaption of Valetine's movie? The one Pandora had made... her the femme fatale in? When she didn't know the first thing about acting unless it was for a case? But that was also a lot of fucking money. Toby brushed Kevin off, only to get several calls from clients about wanting updates on their cases. Some tensions on that end, then a short consultation with the police about a murder... and then. And then. And then.
She was tired by the end of the day. Gilly was starting up classes with Oz though and had made some new friends at school. She had hobbies and friends. Which reminded Toby that she didn't take much time for her own personal life. Outside of a few select people, like Gabe and Oz, Toby saw her employees more than she saw anyone else but Gilly. Tonight had been a night where Toby had wanted to spend time with Gilly but Gilly had promptly told her she wanted to go to a sleepover she had been invited to. Which was cute and good for Gilly for saying what she wanted, but Toby's feelings had been hurt slightly. Almost six and wanting to hang out with Nanako more than Mom.
What was Toby supposed to do for a night? Well, she had plenty of ideas outside of that realm and a certain someone she could easily see. Toby's scroll was out and in her hands as soon as she had the thought, smiling as she started to pull up Gabe's number to send him a text when she got a call from the front desk. Someone was asking for her directly. Saying it was a woman named Maria. Toby only knew one Maria.
Toby tucked away her scroll and got to her feet, saying she'd be right out. She was dressed slightly up because of the consultation, which was always at least half a meeting. A good pair of jeans, a nice shirt, with a pair of cherry red heels. Because Toby was taller than most men when she managed to get herself up to 6'1". She had once hated heels but that had been before her semblance. Walking in heels had been a death sentence previously but after watching a few videos about how to fucking walk in them, she was fine. The brunette turned a corner and flashed a grin at the dark haired woman in the lobby who had been waiting for her. "Maria!" A nice easy greeting but Toby considered them friends. She had even invited the scythe wielder to Christmas. Despite how many people had been there, that meant Toby liked Maria. "What's up?" Better to double check because Maria had shown up at work. There had been a number of times people she knew had shown up here looking for help. Maybe this would be the same. Still until Maria let her know, it was best not to assume. Better to ask.
Ma’am? Maria mouthed to herself, though she turned to very intently study a bit of artwork on the wall so the receptionist didn’t catch sight of her poorly concealed amusement. When did I become a ‘ma’am’? She shook her head, hands stuffed into the pockets of her jeans (yes, she was wearing her cloak over a t-shirt and jeans—she was nothing if not dedicated to her aesthetic, but since coming to Pandora she’d discovered Modern Clothes ™ and rather found she liked them) as she paced along the wall, turning only when she heard a familiar voice calling her name.
The first place her eyes went was up, and she couldn’t help a wry grin as one brow shot up. “Were you this tall last time?” she asked, huffing out a laugh as she took in the rest of Toby’s outfit, including the heels which greatly explained her height. Granted, she’d already been taller than Maria—a lot of people were—but not quite that much taller.
Every once in a while, she considered getting a nice pair of heels for herself. Not to fight in, or even for frequent use, but just to see what being tall felt like. It was a thought she filed away for later perusal, as she pulled her hands from her pockets and settled them behind her head, giving Toby a sideways look. “Oh, you know, I was in the neighborhood,” she said, arms dropping back to her sides as she offered a shameless grin along with the cliché.
“Really, though,” she said, sobering as a hand went to rub at the back of her neck. “I’ve been looking at places in Midcourt—probably gonna be moving to the city, soon. It’s…” She pursed her lips, considering. “Closer.” Closer to whom she wasn’t examining right this second, mostly because she was rather worried she already knew the answer.
“You got time for a few drinks? I passed this bar on the way here, looked promising.”
Were you this tall last time? Toby snorted in response. Maria wasn’t even all that short by human standards. Toby just had genetics in place that made her taller than average. Faerie liked pretty, tall, lean things. Toby had the lean and tall in place at least. She always felt like all elbows and knees, no matter what her semblance could do to correct her posture and walking ability. Toby hadn’t worn heels around Maria before but she wore then a few times a week when she needed to. Oddly all her heels had suddenly vanished unless they were three inches, but that was mostly because three inches got her to Gabe’s height. A detail even Toby hadn’t picked up on yet.
There were a few things about Maria’s verbiage that Toby picked up on even if the dark haired woman was trying to be vague. Coupled with a few details of the group chat that Toby had once been apart of… well, she couldn’t be sure what was all going on but that was alright. Maria didn’t need to have a reason to show up at her work and didn’t need a reason to ask to see her. Technically that's what friends were for, right?
”I got time for drinks.” Toby could easily make time for that. She had spent enough time at work that day anyways and Gilly wasn’t home anyway. Toby had been planning on having a few drinks that night anyways. ”There’s a decent bar a few blocks away. Bit of a dive but I prefer those.” The less people likely to know who the hell Toby D was, the better. Maria hadn’t been introduced to that part of Toby’s life, at least not yet, and Toby wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
She stopped by a closet towards the front and pulled on her leather jacket, doing a pat down for her keys and scroll to make sure everything was in place. ”How you been?” Toby figured that was probably a loaded question with the look on Maria’s face but it was the best place to start, even as Toby gestured for the door so they could get going.
The huntress grinned as Toby agreed to drinks, nodding at the other woman’s suggestion. “Please, I wouldn’t know what to do with a classy place if I could even find one. Always manage to wind up at some hole in the wall or other.” Of course, that had, historically, been because it was a lot easier to get lost in the crowd if you were just one of a couple dozen suspicious faces with hoods pulled low to conceal their features. A lot easier to stay alive if there weren’t too many people who could pick you out of a line-up and start asking questions.
Besides which, back in the Remnant she remembered, there weren’t a lot of places that could really be considered high class by any stretch of the imagination. Not unless you managed to get yourself invited to a manor, or some other big place with lots of servants. And those weren’t exactly the locales the Grimm Reaper frequented.
Rich people didn’t tend to have a whole lot of excess worries bringing Grimm knocking down their doors, after all.
How you been? came the inevitable question, and Maria mulled it over for a few moments as she followed Toby out of the building and down the street, presumably in the direction of the bar she’d mentioned. “I’ve… been,” she said after a moment, with a slight shrug, hands shoved deep into the pockets of her jeans as her cloak rippled in the chilly breeze. “Trying to keep myself occupied, I guess. Took a few jobs I probably wouldn’t have if I weren’t trying to save up to hop regions, but the trouble was nothing I couldn’t handle.” So far, at least. Her luck was bound to run out, but… eh, she’d deal with that if it ever actually happened.
Thus far, she’d rather been liking her odds.
The sex really had been fantastic.
That stray thought was probably why, before she’d had her first shot, the next sentence burst from her, almost anxiously—it had been just about the only thing she could think about, the past several days.
“And I slept with Qrow.”
She knew there was… baggage there, even if she wasn’t yet sure exactly what kind, but it wasn’t like she could talk to James about this—he’d probably be scandalized—or Oz, who would be disgusted and probably insufferable—and, perhaps, a part of her was hoping that if she talked it out, she could finally get that man out of her head.
Toby had been to a few classy places over the last year or so, but they weren’t her normal sort of scene. She hadn’t been to a fancy place recently unless it was a Toby D sort of gig, and even that had died down a little bit because Toby had been otherwise busy with… actually having a social life. Gabe. The changeling had been busy with her new boyfriend and that was preferable to anything to do with Toby D.
Maria seemed to hesitate over explaining how things were going with her and Toby had to admit that she felt… well, she wasn’t sure what to feel. There had been more than a couple of hints in a certain group chat that Toby had not gone back into. For a reason. For more than one reason. She had felt like a piece that didn’t fit trying to fit in there and after the comment that Oz had thrown in her direction in front of someone who had sort of… technically… once hurt her, well it had made Toby feel like…
It made her feel like she was back in a faerie court where her friends really weren’t her friends at all. That everyone had these snide little feelings and comments about her and her life that they hid away because they wanted to use her. She knew that wasn’t the case. Not with Oz or James or Maria, not even with this Qrow, but it had been better to get some space. She just also felt disconnected getting that space. Everything was complicated and messy and Toby didn’t know how to make things better because she had a habit of being left behind. People really never reached back out to her once they decided they were done with her.
And I slept with Qrow.
Toby paused at that bombshell, almost stopping walking all together as her mind tried to process what Maria had just said and what it all meant. Maria had slept with Qrow. Her ex. The man that had and hadn’t broken her heart because he didn’t remember a single goddamn moment of it. Why was Maria here? Why was she even telling Toby about this? If Maria was faerie, Toby would have figured that this was some sort of attempt to hurt her but Maria looked more scattered than anything else. Toby still didn’t know why Maria was here trying to talk to Toby about this of all places unless Maria had no clue what had happened between Toby and… previous Qrow.
”I’m too sober for this.” The words escaped her and then Toby was lurching forward to find that bar just a little bit quicker. She liked Maria. Toby liked Maria a lot and she was fun to be around, but this felt like some sort of trainwreck that was going to wind up with Toby losing people all over again. Not that it was-- fuck, life was complicated and now Toby needed a bottle of vodka instead of a couple of drinks. She didn’t mean her words in a harsh way but this was Qrow they were talking about and Maria had slept with him and while the two women were friends Toby’s ex was the kind of guy she’d warn her friends off in a heartbeat. But this Qrow wasn’t that Qrow and…Toby finally spotted the door and moved towards it, her brain already turning the wheels on what else to say. Except she couldn’t think of what else to say
She needed five shots as soon as fucking possible.
Almost as soon as the words fell out of her mouth, Maria realized it had been the very wrong thing to say.
She didn’t miss the way Toby seemed to freeze for a moment, or the look that crossed her face, and almost immediately the huntress began mentally kicking herself. There are ways to talk about this sort of thing, Maria! But no, she’d opened her mouth, and that had spilled out, and she half-expected Toby to turn around and just leave. If pressed, she wouldn’t even have really been able to say why that had come out, except that it was all she’d been able to think about for days and, perhaps, some part of her hoped that talking it out would get it out of her system.
In retrospect, Maria realized she should… probably have taken time to better read the room, rather than blurting out the first thing that came to her mind. It was too late for that consideration now, though, and the pregnant moment swelled and then passed as Toby continued down the street, and Maria followed.
‘I’m too sober for this.’
Opening her mouth and just blurting her thoughts had already gone remarkably poorly, so for the moment, Maria kept it firmly shut and followed her friend into the building, moving to take a seat beside her at the bar. It wasn’t terribly crowded—busy enough that there was a pleasant buzz of ambient noise, but not so packed that she wouldn’t be able to hear herself think—and after a few moments, the young woman sucked in a breath through her teeth, then released it before finally speaking. “First… several rounds are on me,” she said, slanting Toby an apologetic glance as she gestured to catch the bartender’s attention.
“Whatever she’s drinking, and… a couple shots of whiskey for me.” She leaned against the bartop, biting her lip for a moment as she considered how best to address the elephant in the room.
Ah, well. The direct approach always seemed to be the most effective.
“I stepped in something I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry. I just…” She blew out a breath, blowing her bangs from her eyes. “I felt like I had to talk to someone. And I didn’t stop to think. I’m bad about that.” The look on her face was rueful as she shook her head. “The ‘not thinking’ thing.”
Did Maria know or didn't she know? There was more than enough in Maria's words to take it either way and Toby found she was sort of stuck in the middle on deciding. Which meant it was hard to read the situation and difficult for Toby to make a choice. On how to react, what to say, that sort of thing. For once, Toby didn't argue over someone else paying for her drinks because Maria had dropped a big enough bombshell on her. There wasn't time to sort out too much in her mind but Toby clarified for the bartender quickly enough. "Vodka." The bartender stared at her a little hard for a few moments but Toby calmly met his gaze. One eyebrow lifting, almost daring the man to say something. Instead he just got out a couple of shot glasses and started pouring for the two women like a smart mother fucker.
The first shot glass was plunked down in front of her and Toby wasted no time in picking it up. Wasted no time in down it too, so the bartender put down another and Toby kicked that back as well. Two shots of vodka was probably enough to get started on the conversation and Toby was better about keeping her reaction underwraps. She used to wince like a fifteen year old taking her first shot ever. At least, before she met the old Qrow. Before she had started trying to date him.
Maybe Toby was reading into this a little too much. Fucking Qrow did not mean dating him and Toby knew that his issues were more in that realm than anything else. She just didn't know what to do here. The new Qrow deserved to figure out his life here in Pandora without being weighed down with his past. "It's really fucking complicated and at this stage... no one's fucking fault anymore." Toby motioned for a third shot. This one she held onto. Giving herself a little space to breath but keeping it ready in case she felt a downward kick in her momentum of conversation. Some things needed to be clarified up front so the conversation could move forward with... certain limitations set on it.
"I dated the Qrow that was in Pandora before this one. It wasn't a good relationship. It didn't end well." Toby's voice wasn't as tense as it had been. Maybe the vodka was already working its way through her or maybe... just maybe, it'd be good for her to figure this out too. So she wouldn't feel awkward around Maria. Toby wanted to be friends with the other woman. She really liked Maria. Besides, Toby had moved on. Time to finish healing. "But people change all the time in their lives and Pandora takes them from different points." Qrow was different and maybe that would have made all the difference had he been the Qrow before, but none of that mattered and Toby wasn't going to play the what if game.
She was also pretty sure she was falling fast and hard for Gabe. She hadn't entertained any thought about anyone else since he had whirlwinded back into her life. So what did a what if even matter? There was just a lot of awkward going on and Toby finally looked over at Maria to give her a bit of a shrug. It was what it was.
Alright, well, they had their drinks now—this was progress.
Maria fixed Toby with a sidelong glance, watching as she knocked back her first short and waiting, somewhat warily, for the conversation to continue. It wasn’t that she was particularly nervous—although that did seem to be part of it—but it almost felt as if there were a delicate balance being struck, here, and she was rather worried about upsetting it yet again with some indelicate phrasing, or else that she might manage to shove her foot even more firmly into her mouth without even realizing it.
Those shots were seeming like a better idea by the minute.
She grabbed one of the shots of whiskey before her, drinking it quickly and relishing the feeing as it burned its way down her throat and settled, warm and heavy, in the pit of her stomach. It felt nice—one shot wasn’t going to do a whole lot, so the second followed it, and Maria took a moment to enjoy the sudden wave of lightheadedness she felt, and the way it dispelled some of those pesky nerves that were still rattling around her stomach.
“’Fucking complicated’ sounds about right, from what I know,” she said a moment later, nodding and casting Toby a sympathetic glance. “Which isn’t much, to be clear. I knew there was baggage, just… not how much. Or exactly what kid. We didn’t, uh… do a lot of talking after a certain point.”
Maria waved the bartender back over, gesturing for another round of shots to line up for the two of them. Might as well make the most of the moment, right? “Look, you don’t have to… get into specifics, if you’re not comfortable with it. I get the feeling that there’s… a lot behind all of this,” she gesticulated with a shot of whiskey in hand, “but it’s… Qrow is different, I think. From the one you knew. Somehow. Pandora is just really fucking weird.” Third shot went the way of the first two, and there was that pleasant buzz wrapping around her brain like a nice cotton blanket she’d been hoping for.
“But I also, uh… didn’t want some elephant to be hanging out in the room all the time, you know? So… cards on the table, and all that.” Was she still making sense? Hopefully.
Was Qrow Branwen different? Toby couldn't say because she really didn't know the man. What she had heard had all been through others. Maria herself, Oz, James, and the like. Toby had kept away from the man because that seemed like the best thing to do. Toby also had to hope that she was doing the right thing by swallowing down those old fears and pains. It was almost physical how terribly Toby wanted to say everything that had once happened if only to warn Maria away from what she thought would be heartbreak. That was a bitter ex and Toby refused to be bitter anymore. She had moved on. She was with Gabe and she... well, she was happy with Gabe. That's what it was.
Toby had to hope that this Qrow was a different man all together.
"I appreciate it, Maria. I really do." There was a silver lining in all of this. Maria was telling her up front and Toby was grateful for that. If anything, it made her glad to be Maria's friend. If it was going to happen, Toby didn't want their friendship to sour either. Just because they disagreed on something currently did not mean they had to stop being friends over something like this. "Just... if I had any advice, only slightly biased, to take things a little slow on the emotional front." Toby had had plenty of time to think about what had happened and what she should have done better. This was step number one. Qrow had always pushed ahead of where Toby was comfortable with. Toby had let herself go for the flow. She hadn't felt comfortable enough to speak up for herself until it was too late and she had never asked for her own space. Lessons to learn.
There was a shrug of Toby's shoulders because she couldn't quite shake off the feeling that all of this was... fuck if she knew. Some sort of sign that it was alright to start thinking about those other thoughts. The things that Toby felt for Gabe, for instance. He made her happy in a way that was odd. Nearly always made her feel good and feel good about herself, all in one go. They hadn't been dating that long either. Couple of months, officially. Wasn't that still diving in head first a bit? It just felt different this time around for her.
"Honestly if it's what you want Maria, go for it. Be happy." Qrow was good in bed, Toby knew that much. Not much talking was certainly something Toby understood. She had that with Gabe as well. There had been plenty of moments where they had stopped in the middle of a conversation to fuck and boy did her heavier emotions play a part in exactly how enjoyable it was. Fuck, Toby wondered if Gabe was in the mood to come over that night. She glanced at her scroll for a moment and considered texting him, before taking another deep drink. "I started to see someone a couple months back. Getting laid on a regular basis is just so fucking fantastic." Toby tried to pull the conversation in a different direction. Sex was easier than emotions in so many ways, even if they didn't get into details about... specific things to their current lovers, then all would be okay.