Shopping Day Blues

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The Mitchell sisters are helping out a new arrival to the city by giving her an easy job to do.  Do some shopping and keep Kay out of trouble.  That should be easy enough, right?

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"Yes! Yes I mind! That woman just tried to tell me a veggie burger is an appropriate substitute for real meat! Veggies are what food eats!" Clearly it was well past time for someone to have a Snickers.

She stalked back and forth in front of the store, giving all the impression in the world of some wild creature hunting dinner. "We need real food, Kei, not that high processed mealy crap. Texture and heat and, and..." 


She stopped, suddenly sniffing the air. Her eyes widened, and in a flash she hooked Kei's arm again, hauling the smaller woman after her. "This way. I smell  delicious paradise."

Kei did not like being dragged around in this manner. 

She reminded herself that it would not be fair to force her personal issues onto other people.  She also remembered that the world was not 'fair.'  Still... mercy and tolerance were virtues she was trying to cultivate...  So Kei bit down on her growing irritation and did not flip an unsuspecting Mari into the ground.

"I don't smell anything."

It appeared from over the horizon. Pure white like the blessings of heaven above, marred only by a garish plaid logo that identified the source of the miraculous scent as 'The Lunchtruck' and the vehicle's serving window itself, the food truck was situated on the curb across from the store like some sort of divine signal. A promise of satiating manna.

Manning the mobile food kiosk was a curly-haired fellow with a scruffy goatee and a deli apron, a paper hat situated atop his head as his kind are prone to wear. He was in the midst of serving a heaping pile of smoking meat and melted cheese situated between two freshly-baked slices of bread to a rather excitable looking leonine fellow. Nevertheless he'd smile and wave enthusiastically as he noticed potential new customers across the street.

Mari let out a squeal of pure glee at the sight of that glorious beacon of fine street cuisine. "Yes! Yes, that's exactly what we need! No food like street food, now come on Kay!" 

To her credit despite all the rumbles of hunger chewing on her insides and her irritation at being misidentified as some vegetarian hippy chick trendy wannabe skinny girl she did check for traffic before continuing her holy quest for foood. Unless Kei quickened her short legged pace to keep up she was still being practically dragged along behind the taller girl, but Mari wasn't moving so fast she'd drop her companion to the ground. 

She came to an abrupt enough halt in front of the food truck that Kei might very well have bumped up against her back, though even at a greater speed she would have had a hard time knocking the surprisingly stable Mari over. "Oh yes. Oh my this is perfect. Oooh, and he does cheesesteaks, but... but cheeseburger. No, double cheeseburger, and are there onion rings..." 

Looter, take careful note, or she might just crawl in there and start eating all your stock.

Kei stumbles to a halt and take the pause in movement to finally wrest herself from Mari's grip without having to use her kung-fu grip and karate chop action.  She settles her clothing and immediately takes a step to the right to put her grabby companion at arms length. 

"Why not order them with double bacon while you're at it?  And a double chicken patty with double bacon and secret sauce, too." Ouch.  Derisive Sarcasm attack.  It was a particulatly snotty comment, but Kei had not liked being dragged about like a doll.  (Or dressed like one, for that matter.)  She signs and checks her bags to make certain that the clothes didn't get scattered in their haste, her tutu was still in it, but they were fine. 

Reminding herself to be pleasant, Kei shucked her sulky thoughts and made another valiant attempt at being sociable and greeted 'Looter. "Hello, Penfield.  I'm surprised to see you in the Swift Canton."

Mari didn't notice Kei's move out of immediate grabbing range, too engrossed in The Lunchtruck's menu to realize she'd lost her grabbable companion. 

Said companion's comments, however, did draw her attention. Her face shifted through several expressions in an instant, before she finally just shook her head. "Sounds like I'm not the only one hungry here, Ms Snippypants. No tofu, looks like you're going to have to enjoy food that wasn't extruded." 

The man simply identified as 'Penfield' by Kei just beamed at the two of them as he was addressed directly. "Well you know how it is...where there's hunger, there's the Lunchtruck!" And judging by all the veggie restaurants and tofu vendors in the area, the Swift Canton could certainly use some real food.

And then the sandwich man's grin brightened further at Mari and Kei's back and forth. "Actually we're running a special for double cheese and double onion rings for a buck with our cheesesteak combo. It's our most popular item!"

Looter just made Mari's day. The perky blonde beamed back at him, strongly taking down on that urge to pant in excitement, to prick her ears high and let her tail wa-

A flash of effort crossed her face as she crushed the unconscious shape change before it could get started, returning a smile to her face in a hurry. "That sounds great! I'll do that, please, but can I also get a cheeseburger, just tomato, pickles, onions and extra mustard please! It smells delicious and I am staaaarving."

The ham played up that last statement, dramatically clapping her hands over her stomach. One quick recovery later she grinned at Kei, gesturing to Looter. "You're up, Kay."

"I will just have a bag of almonds, please.  Raw, if you have them."  This was a shockingly little amount of food for someone to order.  With as small as Kei was, it would be easy to think she has an eating disorder of some kind.  (Vegitarianism springs to mind.)  But, of course, Looter knew better and Mari saw evidence that she didn't look malnourished underneath those clothes of hers.

"Oh, and an ice cream sandwich."  Just nuts and a dessert for this girl.

'Looter nod-nod-nodded his scruffy head as he dutifully scribbled down the wereyote's order. He didn't terribly shocked at the size...honestly Ginger's eating habits would probably make Mari look downright dainty and finicky by comparison.

At any rate he'd take care of Kei's order first, handing her a bag of freshly-roasted almonds and a wrapped (and chilled) ice-cream bar before getting to work on Mari's order. The artery-hardening goodness of ground beef patties and deli-sliced steak intensified in the air as both were plopped down on the griddle to begin cooking.

Kei's near vegetarian order earned her a dirty look from the hungry wereyote. She almost said something, closed her mouth, opened it again, then finally shook her head. 

She paid for the food, shaking her head at Kei again before settling into a nice leaning spot near the window to enjoy the delicious scents of all that meat cooking on a hot top. "This is going to be delicious! I haven't had a proper cheeseburger in too long!" 

"It must be nice."  Kei did not stand on ceremony and had already started feeding herself.  She had started with the sandwhich, obviously, as it would melt and she had just bought these clothes.  She had it unwrapped and was in the process of taking tiny measured bites.   Daintily cutting the icecream with her teeth, chewing thoughtfully, and repeating, not seeming to swallow.

"I understand Mr. Penfield's sandwiches are very good.  Naomi likes them."

"Do you really have no sense of smell or taste at all?" There was pity laced through her voice now, not annoyance or disdain. It must be awful! She couldn't even imagine life without a sense of smell, her strongest by far. Vision was important, but losing her sense of smell would be so disorienting she'd probably just give up and die.

"I'm anosmiatic, yes."  Kei took another one of her nibble bites, chewed.   She tried to scrutinize her own nose, twitching it while tying not to go cross-eyed.  She stopped that as it prabably made her look silly.  "I imagine it's like if you had the worst head cold of your life or if your tongue and nose was coated in wax." 

She shrugged her delicate shoulders.  "I lack a lot in somesthetic senses.  Touch is overall pretty rubbish."  She glanced sideways at Mari before averting her gaze, taking her time to neatly fold her sandwhich wrapper now that she was done.  "...So I don't like people dragging me around or touching me unnecessarily.  I don't that happens." 

Safe for other people, mostly.

Mari scrunched up her nose at the mere notion of wax on her tongue, making an exaggerated face of disgust. "Gross. Wax is terrible and you taste it on everything for days afterward."

However, all those theatrics were dismissed when Kei tries to lay down some not-chastisement chastisement. Mari rolled her eyes, crossing her arms under her bust. "Bullshit. None of that reaction was 'I don't feel safe' it was 'this is kinda annoying.' I know body language, Kay. I have to, or I'd have been dead a long time ago. Yeah, I dragged you around. You've come out okay for it, and you need to loosen up and live a little." 

Even if I'm not entirely sure if you're alive in the first place. No flesh smell, no heartbeat, only breathing when you speak... damn, girl, for all I know you're a golem just waiting to go mad when the magic runs out. If you're not already mad to begin with.

"Oh?  How annoyed would you say I was?"  Her tone and eyes were cross as she looked back at Marianas, but it was uncertain if she were cross at Mari or herself, but her stance was combative.  "Did I seemed like I might lash out?  Because I wanted to throttle you." 

Her eyes grew more furious as she talked and she squeezed them shut, pushing it back down.  "...I want to throttle anyone that tries to touch me.  Thrash them to within an inch of their lives."  Her defiance started to falter as her anger subsided into a hollowness left behind and Kei turns her back on her friend.  "So... So... So don't tell me what I'm feeling."

Poor 'Looter was in the midst of carefully assembling the cheesesteak as the back-and-forth between Kei and Mari grew...heated. He quickly moved to intervene. "N-now c'mon! Let's settle down here!"

"No more annoyed than my sibling would be, if I had a little sister." The wereyote grinned at Kei, trying to add a little levity to the situation. "She'd probably want to throttle me too, with all the most loving reasons of course."

But Kei went darker and darker, forcing the grin off her companion's face. "Look, Kay, I can't tell you what you're thinking. I'm not a telepath, that's not in my bag of tricks like skating, eternal perkitude, and looking cute enough to power a candymaker are. All I can go on is body language, and yours isn't telling me you want to go on a murder spree or that you're terrified. How about we sit down, talk about this, and neither of us tries to punch each other out in an imaginary dick measuring contest, okay?"

She wasn't apologetic, and despite her best efforts a little command tone leaked through, but for the most part it was smooth and inoffensive. Well, for Mari it was. Kei mileage may vary.

"No.  This was a mistake."  She straightened up.  "I never should have let myself be talked into this.  Please, enjoy the rest of your lunch."  And Kei picked up her toys and started to leave.

"I will do the rest of the shopping on my own."

"The only mistake will be if you walk away now. So far, all that's happened is a really accelerated hybrid of getting to know a friend and a blind date. Sit down, Kay, or be ready for me to just follow you around."

She pointed back to Kei's seat, looking like she's Serious Business, with a healthy dose of concern too. "Look, I owe you an apology, and I can't give it to you if you go off by yourself."

'Looter'd pause to set make sure the heat was on low before vooping out of the truck (come hell or high water he will *never* ruin a sandwich!) to intercept Kei. "C'mon Kei...this is a good chance to make some new friends. And she seems pretty nice, she just made a few...mistakes, that's all."

Kei was having none of it when Eleuterius popped out in front of her. 

He has been a very good friend to her over the years, opening his home to her on more than one occassion.  Even so, she peered at him so that he would know her displeasure.  (And how dare he be so much taller than her that she has to glare in an upwards direction?)  He knew she didn't trust herself while at the same time he most likely also understood that most of her fears were unfounded.  She was afraid that if it had been anyone else, she would have decked them and continued her march. 

'Looter apparently believed otherwise and his beliefs were born out.

A lengthy internal debate was taking place behind that doll face, the turmoil of the back and forth being passionately and immoderately challenged to the nth degree with several arguments urging to be cried out volubly, but they all died unvoiced.

"Fine."  A word of acquiescence that challenged any and all that dared to think she was backing down.  "There are always mistakes to be made."

She leaned against the side of The Lunchtruck, set down her bags, and tore open the bag of almonds; going through great pains to eat them one at a time.

Crisis: averted. Guess they're friends, or something. Glad he stepped in. Looter got a grateful, lopsided grin, but Mari stayed precisely where she was as Kei changed her mind. 

No, she isn't backing down at all. Still prickly, watch your tone girl... She rolled her mental eyes at her mom's voice in her head, but outwardly she simply shook her head, running fingers through her ponytail. "Always mistakes to be made, and I'm the crown princess of mistakes. Kay, look, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to offend you, or hurt you, but I am trying to push you a little out of your comfort zone. I guess I pushed too far."

She moved in closer to Kei, not threatening close, but close enough she can drop her voice low enough she figures 'Looter won't be able to hear over the sounds of his kitchen. "And... if you want to talk about things, I can listen. I know what it's like to be able to hurt someone unintentionally, and not just emotionally but physically. I can listen, at least, if that's what's bugging you; trust me, you won't hurt me."

Kei took another almond, popped it in her mouth, and chewed it to paste.  "I do not talk about it."

Yes, I'd love someone to give me a hug, a pat on the head, and tell me everything is going to be okay and all the bad things that happened in the past don't matter anymore, but I swear by all that is holy that I will sucker-punch the first person to try it and stomp on their throat.

She kept herself still.  "Mari... This is me doing a very good job of not breaking into a sarcasism as an emotional defense method in an effort to push you away."  She ate another almond.  "So stop whatever plans you may have on how to fix me, for now, and leave it be."

She looked down at her bags.  "I am going to put my tutu back on.  It will make me feel better."

"So tell me. Be sarcastic. I love sarcasm, it's a sign of a smart brain. But here, you told me something, I'll tell you something. You just admitted you're trying to push me away. That. Is. A. Challenge. And I love challenges." 

She stood there, arms crossed, jaw belligerently set. "So there."

With a roll of her shoulders she let go and uncrossed her arms, spreading her legs shoulder width. It was almost like she was setting up for Kei to charge at her, or similarly attack her now that she knew that she wasn't going to shake the blonde. 

"Go ahead, hon. I'll be over here devouring delicious food."

Kei slipped on the tutu and nodded with satisfaction at the addition of the frilly ring around her waist.

"Oh, golly gee gumdrops!"  Kei ramped up to her girliest voice and squee-ed, clutching her hands in front of her, vibrating with excitment, her face shining bright.  It was alarming how completely her body language changed.  "Lets have a girl-to-girl talk and make everything better!  And then!  Afterwards, we can brush and braid each other's hair and talk about boys, paint each other's toenails, and prove how my puppy is the bestest puppy in the whole wide world!"

A look of stunned surprise crossed her face and she slowly raised her hand to her ear as if she had just heard something.  "But wait... What's that, little imaginagy fairy tale?"  She touched the back of her head where her hair was already done up in a plait.  "Oh, I already braided my hair?"  It would seem that Kei had taken such a crushing blow from this new information if you judged by the way she suddenly became crestfallen.  "Welllll Da~rn...  Shoot, Shucks, and Sugar."  She snapped her fingers.  "There goes that plan."

The very (somewhat) believeable, but sarcastic play-acting finished up and so the facade ended.  Kei leaned back up against The Lunchtruck and calmly went about eating her almonds one by one.

Mari watched the transformation from SadKei to BubbleKei with interest and not a small measure of amusement, right up until the point she openly addressed the "fairy tale." Her smile blew out into laughter, genuine and loud enough that poor Kei's last bit of sentence was drowned out.

"Oh man, that was excellent. You almost had me for a second there, Kay. Hell, this place has magic, why not enchanted clothes that really do take troubles away? Come on, please, come sit over here, you're glowering away the man's possible customers." 

She waved Kei over with a roll of her hand, gesturing the seat opposite her. "You can keep trying to sarcasm me into fleeing your presence without being a lurking almond eater."

"Don't be ridiculous.  I'm far too adorable."  Kei had switched from sarcasm to sardonicism!   "Plus I have a tutu.  What's not to love about a tutu?  And I'm fine where I am.  Do not try to press the issue."  She stayed where she was.

"Aside from which, I said I was making an effort to not to push you away."  She looked into her packet of almonds dubiously.  "So... this distance is fine."  It is not fine.  I am horrid person and I do not deserve any friends and I should distance myself from society in order to best protect everybody.  Until I can go home.  But what does 'deserving' mean?  Am I really undeserving?  I'm a person, too!  Just...not a very good one.  Half a person; that is what I am.  The other half is a nightmare that keeps me up at nights. 

Even a half a person is entitled to life, aren't they?  Maybe even a friend or two...  Until I go home anyway.  ...At which point I won't be allowed to come back and probably be dismantled.  It would be cruel to have someone care about me only to make them cry later.  That's right.  I am all ready going to disappoint enough people as it is.  This distance is fine.

It's just charity anyway!  Why should I bother to carry it out.  She'll be fine on her own, no matter what my other self may have thought.  But whom is the charity for?

"Well, I'll be honest, I didn't like dance class as a kid because I thought they looked silly." Mari looked across at her, considering for a long moment, then let it go. Clearly someone was in a funk, and if she pushed too much harder she might just break something. Or someone. The time for words was over, for the moment, and action was the key now. And in this case, action meant gathering information!

She pushed herself back up, headed for the lunch truck's window. Of course, she just happened to be going for the window furthest from the dramatic almond cruncher, but that's the way it crumbles sometimes right cookie? She leaned against the small counter, crossing her arms on the surface and looking at the delicious cooking action within. If she had her tail out it would have been wagging in that tight, excited ripple of her kind, and as it was she was slightly wagging her hips; she couldn't help it, and at least this way it looks more like she's trying and failing not to dance to music only she could hear. "Hey, hey... Penfield, was it? Got a question for you!"

"Uh! Hold on a sec!" 'Looter had quickly vooped back into the 'Truck to finish getting Mari's order ready. One thick, toasty, drippingly cheesy cheeseteak sandwich, complete with onions and bell peppers, one specially-made cheeseburger, and a heaping pile of deep-fried onion rings, served in a stack of to-go boxes in a plastic bag. It was a pretty hefty order but so hopefully it should satisfy the were-coyote's raging appetite!

And nary a singe on any of it, despite 'Looter's brief absence from his station. He'd set bag down on the counter before nodding over at Mari. "Yes'm?"