Magical Girl Policy- Chapter 42

“Dude, what difference is us being there going to have? I don’t know what your dad wants for his birthday and Rob would have even less of a clue. I’m not sure a detour to Buy Bright will make much of a difference,” Eli complained.

Robynne leaned back in the back seat of the car. “As long as we hurry up and get to eat some wings I don’t care… neither of you told Dale by accident did you?”

Eli sighed, “Look, we learned our lesson two weeks ago. I mean, having Guys’ Night at our place was dumb.”

Robynne sighed. “No. I should have noticed the flaw in that system too. I deserve at least a quarter of the blame.”

“There are three of us. Shouldn’t you receive a third of the blame?”

“No,” Robynne said, stretching out with a grin. “Vivian has explained to me as a female that any mixed-gender problems are primarily male issues and that women can’t accept even involvement. For the record, she’s used this fact against me due to my own former gender.”

“I do not like the influence that woman is having on you,” Eli groaned.

“I could stand a bit more,” Cory mused.

“Whatever lecherous thought you’re having, stop it.”

“You don’t know that I’m having lecherous thoughts, Eli.”

“Yes I do.”

“Well, whatever they are Cory, keep them to yourself.”

“I was only thinking of how much better the world would be with another strong-willed, intelligent woman of science who enjoyed Vivian’s affinity for indie cinema.”

“Uh huh.”

“And I would look totally smooth if I showed up with Vivian and you accompanying me. I mean, you wouldn’t have to be flirty or anything. I just need the implication that I have so much game two hot coeds are interested in hanging with me.”

Eli sighed, “Aaaaand there it is.”

“Yeah, i don’t think so, Don Juan. Your ego is as out of control as is.”

“I can’t help but feel like you people aren’t dedicated enough to the cause of making me happy. Help a brother out, Rob.”

“No.”

Eli cleared his throat, obviously eager to change the subject. “I’m a little surprised you wanted to go to Headlights, Rob. We’re not old enough to drink yet, there is no game on, and I thought you said girls just don’t do it for you anymore.”

“Well, I’ve never been to Headlights myself and I heard they have good hot wings.”

“I too have heard of this justification,” Cory chuckled.

“Plus it just sort of seemed like a good place to take a Guys’ Night. Stereotypically speaking anyway.” Robynne cleared her throat and added, “I didn’t tell my roommates where we were going incase you were worried.”

Cory nodded his head. “I can appreciate the dedication to cinematic norms.”

“And I appreciate you keeping us out of hot water,” Eli added.

“I just sort of thought,” Cory continued, “after how well last week’s Guys’ Night went that we’d just do it back at your place again. Dale couldn’t hit on you there. Or, you know, any other guys. Out in public we could get plenty of people worse than Dale. Especially in a place like Headlights.”

Eli nodded. “Yeah, I mean, a little less of a Guys’ Night with Kara and Vivian playing games with us, but still, last week was a lot of fun.”

Robynne bit her tongue. She hadn’t enjoyed last week’s Guys’ Night as much as them but she didn’t have the heart to tell them. The whole concept of the Guys’ Night was to get away from her female roommates and feel like a guy again. She loved Kara, Vivian, and even Noriko, but she saw them every day.

Plus there was the issue that last week Robynne was stuck being the odd one out on an impromptu double date. She didn’t begrudge Eli and Cory for unconsciously focusing more on Kara and Vivian; they were interested in the girls and it was only natural to somewhat ignore a friend when the chick you were digging on was right next to you. Robynne wouldn’t make that mistake again though and planned on pulling these away from her place from here on out.

“Yeah. Fun, but it did defeat the purpose of Guys’ Night when the guy-to-girl ratio was one-to-one.”

“Don’t you mean two-to-three?”

Cory shook a finger at Eli. “Rob clearly counts as having a foot on both sides of that fence. One-to-one feels best.”

“I actually just wasn’t including me in the ratio. I don’t think psychology actually has a term for whatever my gender identity is.”

Cory nodded his head. “Born a guy. Went through puberty as a guy. Identified as male. Was attracted to girls. Magically turned into a woman. Mentally still a guy while having an attraction to guys… yeah, I think the medical term is Gender Confusion Stew.”

Robynne sighed. “Yeah. I don’t know. That label sounds as good as any… though really, all this idea of trying to put a name to it just… it is what it is. Putting a name to it won’t really change anything so I don’t worry too much about identifying what it should be called.”

“I guess I can understand that,” Eli tepidly agreed. “You have enough on your plate with fighting monsters as a magical cheerleader and fighting monsters who are actual cheerleaders. How is the Cammy situation going? Still can’t believe you agreed to that.”

“Not as well as I’d like,” Robynne admitted. “There apparently has been a rumor mill going around about me that I was completely unaware of. I’m, unfortunately, going to have to be more active to shape my own reputation.”

“Which,” Cory added, “likely means being more social with said cheerleaders involved in the rumor mill?”

“Yeah, it’s my own fault. Vivian warned me this could happen.”

“More people should listen to Vivian. Truly she is wise beyond her years. Though, out of curiousity, what are the rumors?”

“That I’m the smokin’ hot lesbian cheerleader with an accent.”

Cory opened his mouth but Eli cut him off. “If you tell us to pick up that phone because you called it, I swear I will grab the wheel and crash us into the nearest phone pole because that will be less annoying than you saying it one more time.”

Cory’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think you’d do it.”

Eli folded his arms. “I dare you. Call my bluff.”

“Cory, please don’t call Eli’s bluff. It’d suck to have survived two monster attacks and die for your pride.”

“Oh, come on Rob, where is your sense of adventure?”

“I used my sense of adventure to stab Day LaMode to death.”

Cory paused and nodded his head in appreciation. “Bitchin’. Okay, Eli wins this one.”

“To the point,” Robynne said, “yeah, I likely need to be more active with some of the cheerleaders. I mean, not a lot, but something. Maybe I’ll have to start having an occasional lunch on campus with them or something. Stacy has lots of friends on the cheer team. I could probably piggyback off of her.. Though maybe after talking with Lily I should branch out beyond just Stacy’s circle. I get the impression she might be viewed as a bit flighty.”

“I wouldn’t let other cheerleaders’ opinions change who you befriend. That feels like letting the terrorists win or something,” Eli said with a roll of his eyes. “Also, this has been bugging me: Cammy, Stacy, Jodi, Sanvi, now Lily. Do all cheerleader names end in an E sound?”

“Robynne. Vivian. Angela. Honey, even Tanya, whose existence as a person irks me, doesn’t end in an E sound. And if we throw in Mal and Kara as technical cheerleaders there are two more.”

Cory shook his head. “Nope, current cheer team people only. Angela, Mal, and Kara don’t count. They kicked Angela out probably because her name ended in an A sound. You and Vivian need to watch yourselves.”

“And my sister’s name is Mallory. Ends in the E sound.”

“Yeah, but no one calls her Mallory.”

“I do.”

“You’re related, you don’t count.”

“How can I not count?”

Robynne smirked. “Angela calls her Mallory too.”

“Um, magical cheerleaders don’t count either?”

“What a convenient system you’ve set up for yourself.”

Cory gave a self-satisfied grin, though Robynne supposed most of his grins were that way, as he pulled into the Buy Bright parking lot. “Those are the best types of systems to set up! Why would you set up an inconvenient system for yourself? That would just be insane.”

Robynne stepped out of the car and stretched, again exposing some midriff in doing so. She grunted in frustration. Would it kill girl’s clothing manufacturers to spare a bit more cloth on girls’ tshirts? “So what should we be on the look for when it comes to your dad’s present? Have any ideas?”

Cory shrugged. “My dad likes unique gadgets.”

“Thanks for being specific. You really painted a picture for us there, Picasso.”

“Well, like… last year, he seemed to like getting GrillTron and…”

“GrillTron?” Robynne coughed out with a laugh. “What the honey is a GrillTron? It sounds like some sort of robot grill that also transforms into some space warrior mecha or something.”

“That… would be a little out of my price range. It was just a robot that you put on top of a grill, hit a button and it cleans the grill for you.”

“Sheesh. That’s some real futuristic bullsugar there. That can not be cheap. I thought Eli was supposed to be the one who came from the loaded family.”

Eli rolled his eyes. “Don’t let Cory’s propaganda fool you. My family may be rich but Cory’s dad’s company has been expanding like wildfire. It’s not like either of us struggled for anything going on.”

“Regardless,” Cory said with a rush, “last year’s present I went over budget on. I knew GrillTron would be a success. This year I’m not going that big again. I don’t have sixty bucks to spend.”

“Sixty bucks?” Eli asked incredulously. “Seriously? Man, you are waaaay nicer to your dad than I am to mine. It’d take me a whole day at the Arcade to pull in that kind of dough… and that’s before taxes!”

Cory frowned, “Well, yeah but… I thought you said you wouldn’t have to go back to the arcade.”

Robynne blinked. Eli wasn’t going back to Loose Change? This was clearly an attempt to steer the conversation away from Cory but Robynne couldn’t ignore this. “Wait? Is that true, Eli? I thought your dad was all militant about you needing a job to pay for your… um… stuff. I forgot the details.”

“Huh? Oh, did that not get to you? Yeah, well when Mallory talked to my parents about…” Eli trailed off as he looked around the parking lot. No one seemed to be listening to be near enough to hear their conversation but Eli decided to lower his voice and keep it vague anyway, “… her visit to the Arcade and other various extracurricular activities she’s been up to, she kind of explained how I acted during a certain belligerent customer’s antics. Apparently it impressed my parents and my father in particular.”

“How you acted? I mean, I don’t want to sound dismissive because you two are the only ones who stood with me but I was the one who got attacked and tried to fight her.”

“Hey!” Cory shouted in defiance. “We totally tried to bull rush her before her guns started shooting at us. You only managed to get wrapped up by tickets.” Cory smirked. “Some super hero. Defeated by tickets. Very shameful.”

Eli gave Cory a quick glare that shut him up. Robynne was glad. There was a lot more foot traffic at the entrance of the Buy Bright and people could definitely hear their conversation if they were listening. “I mean, yeah,” Eli whispered, “all we did was a failed bull rush, but I think Mallory may have exaggerated the story. My dad specifically said he was impressed that I made sure all the kids got to the emergency exits first. That’s not how it happened and Mallory wouldn’t have been there for that part anyway.”

Robynne nodded. She was so glad the meeting between Mal and her parents had gone well. Insanely well. Too well as far as Robynne was concerned. When something as complicated as coming out of the super-hero changing closet to overprotective parents ends without any drama… well, Robynne wasn’t used to her life being smooth anymore. She felt like there was some unforeseen calamity around the corner. Had to be.

Still, it gave her hope that maybe, just maybe, things would go smoothly between herself and Uncle Taylor.

“Well, Mal knows how hard your dad has always pushed you, man. And you know it bugs her that she always got the preferential treatment. Maybe she pumped you up a bit just to get him to get off your back some.”

Eli smiled and shrugged. “Well, if that’s the case it worked. Dad said I clearly already had the discipline he had hoped getting a job would teach me and said as long as I was a full-time student I didn’t need a job… still will probably need one over the summer though.”

Yup. Something bad had to be around the corner. Now Robynne was sure of it. The only consequence of Mal’s chat was Eli getting out of working. That was not consistent with the insanity level of her new life.

As they walked into the store, a familiar voice piped up from behind. “Robynne? What are you doing here?”

Robynne spun around with a confused smile. “Stacy?”

Stacy giggled and gave Robynne a hug from behind, the arms of the taller girl squeezing her breasts some… why did she have to be so Gummi donuted short? “Fancy running into you here… and whoooo are these boyyyys you’re with?”

Robynne squirmed out of Stacy’s comfort-zone destroying hug. “Stacy, these are my friends Eli and Cory. They are in SFEERS with me and Vivian.”

“Ohhhh. So you’re the Cory I’ve heard Vivs talk about.”

That put a spring into Cory’s step. “Two pretty ladies talking about me? Do tell.”

Stacy shook her finger with a giggle. “Such a flatterer. But what happens during Promotion Squad duty stays on Promotion Squad duty.”

“Damn,” Cory lamented. “That’s just unfair.”

Eli shook his head and shrugged. “Girls never help out a guy pursuing someone who is out of their league. It’s part of the Girl Code or something.”

“Please, like Vivian is any more out of my league than Kara is out of yours. I’ve tasted her cookies. You and her aren’t even in the same zip code once you factor cookies in.”

Stacy tapped her chin. “Kara the cookie-maker? She’s you and Vivs’ roommate right?”

“Huh? Okay, Stacy, it’s freaky how you remember all this stuff.”

Stacy poked Robynne in the side, causing her to involuntarily jump away from the tickle. “It’s called listening Robynne. You should try it sometime.”

“I listen!” Robynne protested. “I just… well I don’t remember names well.”

“And yet you know every race and class combination in that game you play a lot of.”

“I… wait, how do you remember that there are specific race and class combinations in Aspect Realms but not the name of the game itself?”

“Weird, huh? The brain is… well it’s so weird.” Stacy just shrugged and gave Robynne another hug as if that explained something. “Anyway, what are you all here for?”

Robynne poked her thumb in Cory’s direction. “We’re helping Cory get something for his dad’s birthday.”

“Oh, fun!” Stay nodded her head. “Smart to bring a woman to help. Especially a cheerleader. Everyone knows a cheerleader is just better at finding gifts for people.”

Cory smirked. “Is that so? Man, we should have brought Vivs and doubled our chanced.”

Eli nodded. “Yeah, I was totally unaware of this feature the cheerleader class had.”

Robynne groaned and turned to Cory. “Don’t you start calling her Vivs too. It was hard enough to avoid slipping when just Stacy was saying it.”

“It’s cute and catchyyy,” Stacy taunted. “Trendsetters have spoken! It’s only a matter of time before the Vivs train leaves the station, but I’ve got a seat saved for you if you want oooon.”

Cory grinned from ear to ear. “I like this girl, Rob. I think she’s a good influence on you.”

Stacy giggled and bowed. “Well, sorry to interrupt then bolt, but I am in a rush. I have some homework that needs to get done… actually, how was the homework, Robynne?”

“I thought it was pretty easy. Basically just was repeating what the professor put on his bullet pointed lists in his slide show. I’m surprised you didn’t do it already.”

Stacy sighed. “Been super busy with Promotion stuff. Just haven’t gotten around to it.”

“I see.”

Eli cleared his throat. “If I can ask, why are you here? Anything we can help you find if you’re in a hurry?”

Stacy flashed a brilliant smile at Eli. “Oh, aren’t you just so kind! No, though.” Stacy fished through her purse and pulled out a phone wrapped in half of a plastic pink case. “I dropped my phone and my case broke. I just need to get a new case. My brother recommended I get a heavier duty one this time. So I figured, hey, Buy Bright would have a good selection.”

Robynne nodded. “Try Dolphin Crate. That’s the brand I have on my phone. I’ve dropped it a billion times and don’t have a scratch.”

With a flick of her finger, Stacy pointed at Robynne. “I just might try that.” She gave Robynne one more hug and walked past the trio with her usual skip-walk. “Nice to meet you boys. Thanks for the help!”

“I got to ask, Rob,” Eli snorted, “are any of your new friends not attractive cheerleaders?”

“I mean, Noriko isn’t a cheerleader.”

Cory tapped his chin and started walking towards the appliances section. “No, she’s not but she works for cheerleaders. I think she is grandfathered in.”

Robynne and Eli followed. “I mean, that’s a technicality… though,” Robynne mused, “as I think about it, my enemies are cheerleaders too. You two better watch out or Fate may notice you two stick out and give you forms to match my own.”

Eli shivered. “Don’t even joke about that! She might be looking for ideas on how to screw up other people’s lives too!”

Cory nodded, “Yeah man. I mean, I like you and all Rob, but not enough to join your crusade against Cammy. I’d be terrible at promoting events.”

“Oh please,” Robynne chuckled, “you’d be awesome! In fact I’ll bet you’d–”

A surge of empathokinetic-induced pain surged through Robynne’s body. It felt different from when Day LaMode or Polygal drained their victims but it felt like it was on the same… frequency? Though she was unsure of how to describe why the pain was similar to the icy, stabbing chills she experienced before, she knew it was similar. This time though, it felt like odd pain caused by biting on a sheet of aluminum foil, only the foil “tasted” like the sound of static over a radio and, instead of her teeth, the pain shot down her entire spine.

She grimaced and ran her hand under her hair, clutching her neck. With a wince she scanned the Buy Bright store. Where had that come from?

“Everything okay?” Eli asked.

“No.” Robynne whispered as her eyes narrowed like a hawk looking for its prey. “I think this store has a monster.”


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