Merope yawns, but only for show. She smile ruefully at one of the other assistants, who ignores her.
Merope With a shrug, she picks up a pile of jeans and begins placing them on a hangar rail.
Yed steps out of the dressing room with a brown coat and blue slacks. "How's this?"
Merope is busy about her work and hasn't noticed Yed yet.
Antares inspects Yed for a second, fluffing hair that's still damp from her post-soccer shower. "Mm, it's okay. I think you're getting a little uptight, though, unless it's a really fancy coffee place. Check that hangar over there--they have some nice shirts that are a little more chill."
Yed approaches the rack and stares intensely for several seconds before turning around to face Antares.
Yed "What am I looking at?"
Antares "Try one of those print ones, the darker colors," Antares points. "Second opinion time--'scuse me," she says, then realizes she's talking to Merope.
Merope Vaguely remembering her training, Merope turns "Hi there, how can I help y-- oh."
Yed grabs an Aloha shirt off the rack from behind the printed shirt.
Merope "Oh, hi Antares. Um, small world, huh?" She smiles weakly. "And um... it's Yod, isn't it?"
Antares Remembering Maia's ambivalent advice, Antares manages a crooked smile for Merope. "Yed needs a second opinion on his date clothes."
Yed "Merope! Hey!"
Yed "Yeah, close. It's Yed. Magic camp was a long time ago, huh?"
Yed holds up the Aloha shirt next to the one Antares pointed out. "Which do you think? Big date tonight!"
Merope "Really? Wow, good for you! Who's the um, lucky lady?"
Yed "Um, I dunno, I don't really wanna jinx it."
Merope "Well, ok then. Um, a print shirt would be flattering, I think, draw attention from.. um, well, they're cool, anyway."
Antares "Go try them on," Antares commands, pointing to the changing room door.
Yed hangs the Aloha shirt on a random rack. "Uh, yes ma'am."
Yed salutes and turns toward the dressing room, tripping on a rack and falling.
Yed "I'm okay!"
Antares watches Yed go with a slightly exasperated expression for a second, then looks back to Merope. "Sorry for snapping at you in class today," she says quietly.
Merope "Oh no, Antares, god, I'm sorry. I was really insensitive."
Antares shrugs uncomfortably, looking back in the direction of the changing room. "'Snothing. It's not like I can expect everyone to forget it happened. I sure haven't."
Merope Merope's curiosity gets the better of her. "Do you... do you still remember it?"
Merope "I mean, the actual..."
Antares "Not much." Antares' voice is flat.
Antares "I remember the bus skipped your house that day. Best-luck flu ever, huh?"
Merope "Yeah. I guess."
Merope pauses, uncomfortably.
Merope "He's um, taking a while in there, huh?"
Antares "I think he's nervous. Boys are so cute that way, you know?" Antares slides into the safer subject.
Yed The dressing room door opens a crack, Yed mutters "dammit!", and the door closes again.
Merope "Mmm." says Merope, thinking of Ras, and Furud. "Some boys, anyway..."
Antares "So what's up with you and Maia, anyway?" Antares asks, taking advantage of Yed's setback.
Merope "You know Maia? Oh. Um, well Maia and I go back, you know, but... well, you grow up, you grow apart, I guess. We sorta fell into different crowds.."
Merope "Hey, if you're a friend of hers, you should come with her to my party this weekend!" Maybe that way she won't bring Tyler, she doesn't add.
Antares "That's a great idea," Antares grins. "Hey, a couple more people and we'd have a whole band there!"
Yed steps out of the dressing room.
Yed "Whole band where?" he asks, fiddling with a button.
Antares "Yeah, we can rock out with our cocks out. You should come, Yed."
Merope "Oh, uh... yeah, I suppose you could come too, Yed. I mean, if you're not busy."
Yed "Oh, the party. Didn't Maia say she wouldn't be caught dead there or something?"
Yed "Who's throwing it?"
Merope frowns. "I am. Well, my brother's having one too, technically. And Maia said she wanted to come.."
Antares decides she's been nice and pushy enough to Merope to satisfy Maia, and returns her full attention to Yed. "Take a look at yourself in the mirror, and if you don't like what you see, go back to the aloha shirt. Confidence is sexier than anything you wear."
Merope "So long as you wear something, anyway. Don't show up naked."
Yed "I'm not very good about knowing these things. I'd be more confident if you chose."
Merope smiles at Yed. "Well, I think the print shirt is a more modern look for you, so if you can relax in it a little..."
Antares lets Merope handle this one.
Merope mothers over Yed a bit, straightening his collar and the like. "Just, um... breathe out. You don't need to suck everything in. Be natural."
Yed "You wouldn't mind if I came to your party? Maybe I can get Jenny to come."
Yed "I can be natural."
Merope "Well, you can come, sure.. but will you know anyone there? Other than Antares, I mean...?"
Yed "Um, I guess that's true."
Merope "Do you know any of the boys? Like my brother Heka? Maybe you'd be happier in my brother's bit, he's out in the yard."
Antares "There's Maia," Antares adds helpfully.
Yed "I don't think she likes me. Heka, though, we're buddies. Yeah."
Yed "Um..." Yed gets a strange look on his face, appraising Merope.
Merope "Really? Well, good. I'm sure Heka would love to see you there. You can always move between, I think some people will be doing that."
Merope "What? Do I have... something on my face?"
Yed looks at Merope's feet. "Are you, uh, wearing heels?"
Merope "Um, no, not for work.."
Yed 's eyes bug out as he realizes Merope is standing a couple inches above the ground.
Yed "You're, um..." Yed points at Merope's feet.
Merope "What, did I wear odd socks or something?" Merope looks down, and as she does so she drops back to the floor. Merope apparently doesn't notice.
Yed looks at Antares. "Did you see that?!" he asks excitedly.
Merope looks quizzically at Antares.
Antares Yed catches a split-second of a wild look on Antares' face, then it vanishes and is replaced by bland calm. "See what?"
Merope looks back to Yed. "Are you ok, Yed? I know dates can get you a little, um, tense..."
Yed "Uh, nothing, nothing." Yed clears his throat. "I'll take this shirt."
Yed "No, no, I'm fine. Just, yeah..."
Merope "Great! I'll go um, ring you up. It's just over there."
Antares "Have a good time, Yed. Remember what I said about the worst thing that happens all year," Antares says, giving him a not quite up to par grin.
Yed "You're leaving?"
Yed looks a little desperate.
Antares "Um, I've got some time if you need more date advice, but Maia could tell you that my dates usually go from low-class to no class."
Yed heads back to the dressing room to change into his original clothes, saying over his shoulder, "Can I get you a smoothie or something for your help?"
Antares "Sure," Antares shrugs. While he's safely gone, she grins a bit at his nervousness. Boys!
Merope is waiting for him to come back with the shirt.
Yed comes back out of the dressing room with shirt in hand. "Great," he says, "I'll just be a mi-" Yed's cell phone rings.
Yed "One second. It's Ras."
Merope takes a second to put two and two together.
Yed "No, no, speak up. You're all staticky."
Merope "Wait, you know.." Merope's too polite to talk over his phone conversation, however.
Yed "I can't right now. I've got a date in like an hour and a half."
Antares "That the guy who's supposed to have killed people?" Antares asks Merope with mild curiosity.
Yed "Uhhhhhhh... I don't even know where that is. Can you get my mom to pick you up?"
Yed "Look, what are you doing at the bus station anyway?"
Yed "Okay, yeah, call Mom. Maybe she can give you a ride. I wish I could help. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah."
Merope "Oh, I'm sure that's not true.." Merope looks over at Yed slightly impatiently.
Yed "Yeah, later." Yed hangs up. "Sorry about that. Family thing."
Merope "So.. family? Ras is your..?"
Yed "Ras Alhague? Cousin."
Yed hands Merope the shirt and gets out his wallet.
Merope "God, I had no idea you were his cousin. I thought, you know, he only just got here..."
Merope takes the shirt without looking. "You have to tell me about him!"
Yed "We used to hang out a lot as kids, I guess. It's been a while."
Yed raises an eyebrow. "Um, okay."
Merope "Oh, it's been a while. Okay. But you must like, know stuff. I mean, there's been rumours going around..."
Yed "Rumors? What have you heard?" He looks at Merope, then at Antares.
Merope Merope suddenly seems to have much higher energy now the subject is Ras.
Antares Temporarily out of Merope's line of vision, Antares looks at Yed, slides her eyes sideways at Merope, then mimes fanning herself with batting eyelashes.
Merope "Oh, well, I'm sure it's nothing. People say silly things because he was in a military school and he's got a scar, and there's this ridiculous stuff about him having killed a guy, which I'm sure isn't true..."
Merope looks hard at Yed. "I mean, it isn't true. Right?"
Antares Antares' look of mild interest is back.
Merope "Yeah, that's what they said... so it's not true?"
Yed "I mean, there was the hunting thing when we were like 14, but that wasn't even... I mean, wow."
Merope "Hunting thing?" Merope has quite forgotten about the transaction in progress.
Yed "He killed my dog a couple years before that, I guess."
Yed "One of those mercy things like horses with broken legs."
Yed "That's as close as I can think of."
Merope "A dog?" Merope gives Yed a quizzical look. "Oh. Well, I guess it was just a rumour then." She looks profoundly relieved. "Ras is coming to the party, so looks like you'll know a lot of people there after all. That'll be, um.."
Merope "$59.99 with tax. How are you paying?"