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Kyane slammed her fist into her make-up station. “Dammit!” She looked at the mess behind her from the mirror on the station. She tried to ignore the fact she was still only in her underwear. Shirts and pants laid out were tossed after rejecting them for being not cute enough. “What the hell should I wear?” She took out her phone and tapped on D13.
“Hello, Kyane. How can I help you?”
“What the hell should I wear to this date?”
“Something that is nice, but is true to who you are,” D13 said.
“Okay, that is perfect. You answered my question exactly as I wanted it to be,” Kyane said sarcastically. She looked at her glowing eyes from the light around the mirror. “Sorry. I shouldn’t be snappy.”
“This is your first date. I understand. Do you want help?”
“Yes. That’s why I’m calling, or summoning, talking, whatever this is with you.”
“Well, where are you going?”
“The mall. At least.”
“So sensible shoes. It is 43 degrees outside now, so a jacket will also be needed.”
“I got that.” She looked at her ankle boots and jacket lumped in the corner. “I need a shirt, and pants.”
“What color are your jacket and shoes?”
“Black. I feel like you should know that because we are around each other all the time, but I guess you can’t, like, see me when we’re together.”
“You are correct. My only visual sensors come from the camera on the suit. But black is good. It goes with everything.”
Kyane smirked. “It sure does.” Her heart tingled.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, Die. Got any suggestions then?”
“A mall date means it’s casual, and with the cold, jeans and a sweater would be good.”
“I have a blue and pink sweater. I already wore the pink so blue it is.” She grabbed the sweater and pulled it on and hiked her jeans up. “Thanks, Die.”
“Of course, Kyane. Need help with anything else?”
Kyane hooked small hoop earrings on. “No. I want to do the actual date stuff solo. Or well it’s a date, so not rely on you I mean.”
She picked up a thin chain necklace with small sky-blue stones in and put it on. “Cause I can’t keep running away to talk to you and get advice. He’d think I was crazy or a jerk. More than he thinks I am now anyway.”
“I understand. Just do not forget your armor. You may be on break, but it is better to have something and not need it than it is to need something and not have it.”
Kyane slipped the belt on and cuffed the bracelets. “That’s profound, Die, but I saw Alien vs. Predator too. Don’t ask. It was dad’s movie night pick.” She put on her boots and jacket.
“I will not, but if you don’t leave now you will be late.”
“What!?” Kyane locked her phone and saw the time. “Dammit!” She pocketed her phone and ran out the door.
She met at the bus station where he greeted her with a Snickers bar. That was the first thing she noticed. After, she looked at his full outfit. He was in a blue and white plaid button-down shirt with his letterman jacket over it, khakis, and white high-top sneakers to tie everything together.
Kyane re-examined herself and felt really underdressed. She stepped out of the way of the people behind her and took shelter under the bus stop awning. “I don’t know what to be surprised about first. The candy, or the fact you’re still wearing your school jacket on a date.”
Desmond held out the Snickers bar. Kyane took it without him even needing to say anything. “I would bring flowers or something to be nice, but since I’m not like picking you up or nothing I figured chocolate is a good gift.”
Kyane tore the top of the wrapper off and scarfed down the chocolate bar like it was snack-sized. “You’re lucky,” she said through a stuffed mouth. “I was allergic to peanuts when I was a kid but got over it like a few years ago.”
“I am lucky then.” Desmond pointed toward the mall. “Should we start walking?”
“Mhm,” Kyane said. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and tossed it into the trash can. She ran and caught up. “So, you’re just going to ignore the letter jacket thing?”
“It’s a jacket. I like it,” he said. “It’s also really warm.”
“Can I wear it?” she jabbed him in the side with her elbow.
“Are we dating now?”
“We’re on a date. Does that count?”
“The one you’re wearing seems warm enough.”
Kyane shook her head. “You’re such a gentleman.”
“I got you a Snickers bar. That’s pretty romantic.”
“Halloween should be renamed to Valentine’s Day 2 then.”
“That title is a little too long for the name of a holiday. Also, would people just dress up as angels and stuff too? You, like, really didn’t think that out.”
“I’m just like improvising on the spot here.”
“It needs work.”
They entered the mall.
Tower City mall, called the Heights Shopping Centre was a block in sized, three-floor complex with a parking garage that spans the height of the building and down two levels from the street. The first floor was made up of the food court and the chain retail outlets, most of which had stores going up all three floors. The second floor was made up of electronics, regional, and sports stores. The third floor was the high end and cosmetic stores. What made the mall special however was a large skylight shining down on the exact center of the building which sat a large open space that constantly changed. When Kyane was a baby it was an old school carousel, it evolved to a kid train station, to play area, to now a late change to the Valentines Day romantic dance spot. Kyane was confused when she saw it as to why it hadn’t been changed yet. She figured an open space with plastic decorations and music was cheaper than anything else they could put into the empty space.
Kyane and Desmond entered through the food court entrance. The restaurants lined the walls, with long tables and red chairs made up the middle of the space. They got smacked with top 40 hits from the last 10 years, the competing sounds, and delicious scents of food that could kill you instantly, and restaurants they never saw outside the complex.
“This was your choice, where do you want to go?” Desmond asked. They began walking aimlessly through the food court to get to the escalators.
“We could go to the ring place and pretend we’re eloping and mess with the guy there.”
“That doesn’t sound fun. There is a Bath and Bodyworks. Girls love that store.”
“I clearly look like every other girl that you’ve been on a date with.”
“I mean you look pretty, so yeah, you do.”
Kyane smiled, and her heart skipped a beat. “You think I’m… wait, nope! You know what I meant! You’re not avoiding the question with being all sweet and stuff.”
“Oh, so you notice my trick. Most girls don’t catch on so quickly.”
“I don’t like you comparing me to most girls.”
“I’m comparing you in a good way,” Desmond said. He stopped and looked inside the FYE. He saw a large stand of Attack on Titan toys, DVDs, and merchandise. He pointed to it. “Do you know what that is?”
Kyane looked where he pointed. “I mean I can read what it says. It’s an anime.”
“Jamie had a poster of that in his room.” Desmond lumbered into the store like a drone and began browsing the display. Kyane followed him. Desmond picked up a Pop Figure of a figure with brown hair named Erin. “Should we get him a get well present?”
“I guess,” Kyane shrugged. She put her hands in her pockets and began wandering around the store. She looked at the wall of Pop Figures in amazement.
Desmond walked over to her, his own Pop Figure in hand. “I’m surprised you didn’t know what it was,” he said Kyane looked at him examining the Erin figure.
“Why? And if you say it’s because I’m Japanese I’ll punch you.”
“I am not surprised you didn’t know what it was then,” Desmond said. “Please don’t punch me.”
“This isn’t a healthy relationship already,” Kyane said. She took her eyes off the wall of figures and moved to walking down the aisle of movies, and into CDs, and walls of records. “We’re already talking about not punching each other.”
“I know,” Desmond said. “What happened to us. We used to never be so violent toward each other.”
“It was all the Maryjohana we smoke now.” Kyane fingered through the record displays until she saw a cover of two punk guys painting makeup onto a woman with pink hair. It was Icon for Hire’s Scripted. “Cool!”
Desmond looked over her shoulder. “No way, I love them!”
Kyane spun around faster than a tornado. “Nuh uh! I don’t believe you.”
“It’s true,” Desmond said. “I have a good couple of them on my running playlist.”
“Okay, name one then.”
“One what? One song? Okay, Make a Move.” He pointed to the record. “Which comes from that album.
“Very good.” She put the record back. “I’m still shocked you listen to them.”
“Why? Is it cause I should like all the hardcore, and current rap coming out right now?”
Kyane cringed. “Not, no?” she said. “But I mean I’ve watched you dance to those dumb meme songs.”
“That’s not how you say that name,” Desmond said. “I think.” They made their way to the cash register to pay for the Pop Figure. Well Desmond paid for it but said he would say they split the cost of it.
They exited the store together only to collide with passing pedestrians. The pedestrian fell to the ground and dropped their two bags of humidifiers. They made a loud thud when they hit the ground. “Oh, I’m so sorry maaaa-Mr. Ayer,” Desmond said. He extended a hand and helped his teacher up.
“Thank you, Desmond,” Mr. Ayer said. He picked up his two bags from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. He then noticed who Desmond was with. “And hello Kyane. I didn’t imagine you two would be out together.”
“Me either,” Kyane said. She watched Desmond shake his head. “So, ahh, what do you have?”
“Humidifiers,” Mr. Ayer said. He raised the bags up in the air.
“Is it for like class or something?” Desmond asked.
“No, but would you do it if it was for class?”
“No,” Desmond said sheepishly.
“Why do you have those?”
“Ohh, just boring adult needs. You two don’t need to worry.”
“Oh, we won’t,” Kyane joked.
“Great.” Mr. Ayer smiled. “Well, it was good seeing you two.” He walked past them. “Get some rest. We’ll be doing a lot next week. A lot to catch up on.”
“Yaaayy,” Kyane sarcastically cheered. “That was weird.”
“Yeah, you don’t like, really see teachers out of school and stuff.”
“Did you think they lived at school?”
“No, but I assumed they wouldn’t go anywhere they would see kids.”
“Ahh, he’s different,” Kyane said.