Oh, I Wouldn't Worry About Flaky-Os
rating: +17+x

"Oh my god, this place has cornflakes made from imaginary corn!" Lolly said as she excitedly read the menu for Ambrose. "I've only ever had imaginary corn in Oneiroi! The only place it grows in reality is that crazy nexus in the South West. I'm going to get a bowl of that, preferably frosted but if not just give me a fistful of sugar packets. Do you also have drinks made with high fructose imaginary corn syrup? I'll take a glass of that too. And Nutella on toast!"

Chaz Ambrose nodded in the affirmative to their waiter, who promptly left to fetch their VIP guests their meals.

The Ambrose restaurant had a casual, intimate feel to it. Its walls and carpets were warm reds and golds, its wooden tables draped in linen cloths, and the ambient lighting was provided by spectral flames burning over silver candlestick holders with nary a candlestick to be found. The decor was by no means unreasonably expensive, but it was expensive enough for the restaurant's owner to be more than a little concerned by the presence of a hyperactive and unpredictable reality bender.

"Icky, as delightful as your beloved is, when I invited you and your partner here to discuss business over brunch, I was referring to your business partner," Chaz said awkwardly in his refined though possibly fake British accent. "Was that not understood, or…?"

"No, I got what you meant," Icky smiled, sipping from her glass of luminescent orange juice which Ambrose claimed was actually liquid sunshine. "The Circus is a just a tad chaotic, so Manny and I prefer that there's at least one of us there as much as possible. Manny doesn't care much about this sort of thing anyway, so there was no sense in him coming. You don't mind me taking advantage of your hospitality to pamper my playmate a little, do you?"

Chaz glanced at Lolly, who was slightly bouncing in her seat and looked like she might start bouncing off the walls at any second.

"No, so long as she doesn't interfere with our bargaining, we shouldn't have a problem," he said with a hint of uncertainty. "Anyway, I suppose I should get started. As you can tell by our menu, my restaurant is centered around anomalous cuisine. When I opened the first Ambrose in Three Portlands, my goal was to essentially create a more accessible, more affordable version of MC&D's Pretty Penny's. Have you ever eaten at a Pretty Penny's?"

"A while back. I'm not a member, so I can't get a reservation myself, but Burgess - our old MC&D rep - used to like to have business lunches with us there."

"Oh, it's an amazing experience. I almost got a job as a chef there once. Almost. That's why I'm here now. Unfortunately, there's nothing on my menu that compares to Kaiju Caviar but -"

"Oh! We know a ship of Wanderers that hunts Kaiju," Lolly told him. "If you wanted, we could arrange a meeting between you and they could get you some Kaiju eggs."

Chaz looked to Icky to see if she was telling the truth.

"Glad I brought her now, aren't you?" she asked with a satisfied smile.

"That's, ah - we can circle back to that. The reason I asked you here is that we pride ourselves on offering the best selection of magical foodstuffs the anomalous community has to offer, and I've heard very good things about your black cotton candy."

"Oh my god, literally the first thing I did my first day at the Circus was eat the cotton candy!" Lolly said. "It doesn't just taste better than regular cotton candy, it tickles your insides and the sugar in it sparkles like stars in the night sky, it's so pretty! That's why you should call it midnight cotton candy. Midnight makes it sound all sophisticated and mysterious, so it will sell better."

"So you are interested in franchising it to us?" he asked hopefully.

"We recently started ultra-pasteurizing our Clown Milk, and we still haven't figured out what to do with all the surplus," Icky nodded. "So long as your customers aren't opposed to Bozomorphic byproducts, we're open to selling it to retailers. We can either make the cotton candy ourselves and send it to you, or we can sell you the Clown's Milk and you can make it yourselves. The Milk by itself would take up less shelf space, but it is deadly to vanilla humans in its pure form. You'd have to be very careful with it, and make sure the person operating the cotton candy machine knows what they're doing."

"Hmm. I think I'd rather have overstocked shelves than a lethal liability lying around. I'll take it pre-bagged."

"Good call. We can sell you one-ounce bags for two dollars a piece. If you mark it up over six dollars we'll be upping the wholesale price in kind. How you present it is up to you, but I want the menu listing to mention it's exclusively available from the Circus of the Disquieting, The Greatest Show in all the Worlds." She paused for a moment to sip her liquid sunshine. "While I'm here, are you interested in renting some advertising space at our Circus? For only a few grand a year, you can have a pretermemetically targeted 3-foot by 8-foot ad over our bleachers."

"I'd be very interested in that, but I do have some further questions regarding the cotton candy," Chaz replied. "You see, I've done my due diligence on it, and it seems it does a bit more than just tickle your insides. It has some neuro-modulating properties as well, does it not?"

"Neuro-module-what now?" Lolly asked.

"He means mind control, and where on earth did you hear that?" Icky demanded.

"In its SCP file, which I obtained from a pirated copy of the Foundation's database. They've conducted quite extensive experiments with the stuff."

"Arghhh. I can't believe a cotton candy machine we lost twenty years ago is still causing trouble," Icky groaned. "Alright, yes, it is a programmable psychoactive substance. Why would that interest you though?"

"I assure you, I have no nefarious intentions for it," Chaz swore. "You see, I'm wanting to open a restaurant outside of the free ports. The mundane market is at least a hundred times the size of the anomalous one, but of course, if I open up an anomalous restaurant in a mundane location I'll be shut down by the Foundation or the Coalition."

"Please don't mention the Geo Sea. It messes with my head," Lolly said.

"I understand, and I apologize. My point is that you perform for mundane audiences all the time, and most of them never suspect a thing. You're rarely ever even detected by hostile forces, and on the rare occasion that you are you always manage to pull out before they can intercept you. The effects of the cotton candy is at least partially responsible for that, isn't it?"

Icky gave a reluctant nod.

"And you want to use it to keep your own business under the Humdrum authorities' radar?"

"And nothing else. Swear to God. I just want to do what you do; let ordinary people sneak a peek behind the Veil."

Icky mulled over the proposition, then glanced over at Lolly.

"What do you think darling?"

"I like this place, and I like breaking the dumb Masquerade as much as we can," she replied. "I think we should do it. We can help Humdrums eat magical food, stick it to the Foundation, and make money all at the same time."

Icky nodded in agreement.

"Okay, we can go over programming in some mind-affecting properties and the corresponding music, but that is going to double the price," she told Chaz.

"That's more than acceptable Icky. Thank you."

The waiter returned with their brunches: a plate of french toast made from WonderwheatTM for Icky, a Hobbitish looking plate the menu called 'second breakfast' for Chaz, and of course Lolly's bowl of imaginary cornflakes.

"They are frosted! Awesome!" she said as she shovelled a spoonful into her mouth. She began vibrating with joy, and then shot off into the air at high speed. She bounced off the ceiling and walls like a rubber ball without ever hitting anything or anyone, and then landed back in her seat with a contented sigh.

Icky just smiled at the outburst, but Chaz - after getting back up from taking cover underneath the table - was staring at her in disbelief.

"Is that going to happen after every bite?" he asked. She smirked and scooped up another spoonful of the cereal.

"Only one way to find out!"

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