"Can't you control that?" the brunette hissed.
"Control what?" his companion whispered back.
"That, that, that painful contraction thing!"
"Tough it out," she mumbled, ignoring the gnawing sensation emanating from her core. "That painful contraction thing that your feeling, is uncontrollable. Just get used to it."
"And how long do they last, again?"
"It's arbitrary times and in length. Just tough it out, will you?" Elsa replied, irritated.
"What about pain killers?"
"Let's go, Jack!" Elsa exclaimed, insistently.
"Okay! Okay! Hang on! Let me just check that the corridor is clear," Jack stated as he peered through the peep hole. After giving it a good three seconds, he nodded to Elsa and opened the door to inch his head out look for any signs of activity. The lack of activity taking place in the chambers gave him a sense of relief and confidence, as he swung the door completely open. He glanced at the platinum blond and nudged his neck to the right to indicate progress before he took his first step out of his dorm and edged himself near the stairwell.
"What if we get--"
A slim index finger silenced her from continuing.
"Don't jinx it," the boy muttered coldly, earning a challenged, arched brow from his companion. He shook his head quickly, before leading his hand down to her wrist and guided her out.
"I'll tell them…"
"Don't finish it."
"You're surprisingly superstitious…" she whispered back, whilst keeping in pace with him. She waited for an answer from him as they hurriedly ran down a long stair well, but her curiosity quickly danced away when her focus fell on their location. Because of the previous night's sudden activity, she was unable to observe their destination.
Just like her host's living quarter, the condo was just as extravagant. A triple-decked, crystal chandelier dangled just above their heads, radiating the room with a blinding aura, at the chambers as its brightest and dimming at its lowest just halfway down to the front entrance.
The condo had two floors with a large, glossy, wooden stair case and gold iron handle bars located at either walls, leading up to the five residential dorms. While the first floor was a mixture of a foyer--at the center, leading up to the chambers--a dining area,--the right half of the room--and a lounging area--the left half of the room.
Aligned with the stairwell, to its immediate right, a wide window spelled out LUNCHEON in large, italicized, silver letters. Just beyond it were several scattered glass tables and a pair of velvet cushioned seats facing directly one another. Parallel to the luncheon window was a large, rectangular window, displaying a parsley shrub.
While the other wall had another window, but smaller, with the same large, italicized, letters addressing it as DIRECTORY. Next to the cubicle was a unisex public bathroom. Just beyond it was the lounging area with a big, flat screen TV hanging on the wall. Beneath it were a row of revolutionizing video game consoles, dating back to the its former successful predecessors. A white marble coffee table sat at the center of the lounge followed by a pair of mahogany love seats seated one, in the direction of the directory and the other nearest to the entrance of the building.
A pair of large rectangular, glass windows sat on either sides of the entrance with red velvet curtains draped to the side with golden tassels. Just outside the windows sat a long shrubbery of what appeared to be Parsley.
"This is one extravagant complex," Elsa commented as he lead them out a large, double mahogany door.
"It's more of a hobby than what it seems," Jack explained. "North has a little too much free time, and all these stuff just pile up. But on the bright side, it saves us pocket money from spending on seasonal interior designs."
"And what of his previous designs? Do you make a profit out of them?"
"Well we could have had a fortune at this point," Jack noted, "but…" When the brunette turned to face his companion, he smiled softly. "He decided to donate them to the orphanage."
Elsa replied with a look of awe and admiration. She felt her own lips twitch into a small smile.
Once out of the building, Jack's pace quickened along the silver cobblestone and towards a growing metallic gate. With ease, Jack pushed the door forward. A high pitched groan followed and the gate gave through, allowing the two to continue there way into the busy streets of Burgess.
"Well, that was quick."
"Phew!" the boy exclaimed, with his body hunched forward and his hands gripping just above his knees. "We were so lucky they weren't around today."
"Are they usually active at this time?" the platinum blond inquired.
"Sometimes. Mostly Sandy, Tooth, and Bunny. Those three would most likely be lying about in the lounging area."
"What about North?"
After catching his breath, Jack straightened up. "Usually locked in his room creating something new."
"But since he makes all these things, and security looks kind of tight…" Elsa nudged to the gate behind them. "Don't you think he would know this by now?"
"Maybe," Jack shrugged. "Security may be great in physical appearance, but don't get me wrong about its features--it runs great and stops the intruders from breaking in--but his employers who monitor our from our aren't really the brightest people behind the screens," he continued airily.
"I suppose it's safe to say that you're fortunate that North is pretty thorough with his works."
"Yeah," Jack agreed, "Now let's get going before any one notices." Wrapping his hand over her petite, alabaster wrist, Jack had set the pace the for them.
Once they had arrived that shopping plaza, Elsa stopped abruptly, causing Jack to stop in his tracks.
"Shoot… I forgot my wallet," Elsa muttered sullenly. Then quietly to herself, "I think I left it back there…"
"Back where?" Jack asked.
Elsa didn't reply, rather she avoided his gaze and stared at the ground.
"Oh… well if you put it like that, then I guess it can't be helped. I'll pay for you."
"I promise I'll pay you back," Elsa added.
"Don't worry about it," Jack insisted. "It's not like…" His voice faltered, trailing into a breeze of silence. Picking up where this conversation was heading, he quickly added, "like a big deal. It's not like it's a big deal, Elsa!"
Elsa looked up and met his eyes with a small, weak smile.
"But I get the final say on what you buy," he added to lighten the mood.
"What?" she exclaimed, taken aback.
"Well, that's the least you can do for me," he replied lightheartedly.
Balling her fists to her hips, Elsa shifted weight on her legs and eyed him, astounded. "You can't be serious, here."
He shrugged, "I'm the one paying for you after all."
"What's wrong with not…"
Jack lifted a perfectly groomed brow as her voice faded. "And… what?" he challenged.
Elsa's resolve immediately deflated with a harsh sigh. To conceal her embarrassment, strode ahead and entered the nearest department shop with collected, self confidence.
Following behind her, in a small fit of muffled laughter, Jack cooed, "That's what I thought."
She was aware that he voiced out his victory on purpose and grew vexed. She wasn't simply annoyed of him at this point, rather she was frustrated that he knew that she was prideful. He could read her, had it not been for sharing their same fate.
Heading for a random rack, the brunette followed suit to search on the wrack behind her. Sensing a bubbling laughter emanating within her, she glared at a transparent long sleeve blouse when she asked heatedly, "What's wrong with the way I dress?"
"Nothing," he answered.
"It's not nothing!" she hissed, returning the outfit, "You're laughing at me, aren't you? I can feel it, Jack."
"It's cute," he gently commented, whisking his bubbling emotion with it. Quickly replacing it was a wave of heat.
Elsa recognized this feeling. It was uncomfortable, and yet bashful. It felt like something you wanted to take back. It was embarrassment.
"Is it?" Elsa asked, her cheeks aflame by his emotion and his praise.
"I mean… the way you dress I guess is decent," he added.
"Then what did you mean by cute?"
"Oh look, Elsa! I found something that's close to your taste," he interrupted whilst raising a white, long sleeve shirt with a design of a hand squeezing the waist, creating the illusion that her figure was smaller because of a little help.
Controlling her reaction, Elsa kept her head up and coolly replied, "Fine." Turning to her rack, she immediately found another white shirt with large, bold letters and grinned.
"Have some backbone, Elsa. I'm just messing around."
Wearing a smug grin on her lips, Elsa turned and presented him the shirt. "I think this is a more suitable message," she grinned evenly.
"I never liked you anyways…? Huh," Jack scoffed, "I never thought you'd be the punk type, Elsa."
"I never said I was," Elsa retorted.
"In that case…" Jack flipped through the pile and found another white, plain shirt and showed it to her. "I'd like to see you when you're loosen up."
"Life is better when you are drunk…" Elsa read quietly as she leaned forward. Straightening up, Elsa lifted another shirt and snickered as she aligned the black shirt in the direction of where the white arrow was pointing. "In that case…"
"Why you…!" Jack exclaimed as he returned the previous attire on the rack and began chasing Elsa.
With a quick shriek, followed by laughter, Elsa ran along with the shirt to the end of the aisle with Jack trailing behind her in hot pursuit, exclaiming threats in between cachinnations. Like engrossed children, the pair had been so focused on escaping and pursuing one another that they had forgotten where they were. It was only when an employee stepped in had they fixed their behaviors.
Despite their heated embarrassment, one quick glance with one another had them in a fit of snickers.
"This is the most fun I've ever had in a department store," Jack muttered beside her.
"Me too," Elsa mumbled back.
"By the way," Jack added. Stepping in front of Elsa, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her in the air.
"Hey…!" she exclaimed. "Put me down, Jack!"
"Didn't I tell you that this was one of your punishments?" he murmured.
"But you're giving me more unwanted attention!" Elsa chastised quietly.
"They were already looking at us earlier. Why do you are what people think now?"
"If you don't put me down, I'll smack you," she threatened.
"Then we'll both fall together," the brunette countered.
Flustered by the many gazes and hushed whispers exchanged, Elsa leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Please," she begged weakly.
Surprised by her actions, Jack brought her down carefully, and slowly detached himself from her embrace. To hide his own abashed reaction, he quickly turned around flipped through the rack whilst stating, "It's not like I was planning to drop you…"
"Nothing," he shook his head coolly. "Come on, let's just get your things and go."
"I still need to try them on, you know," the platinum blond stated matter-of-factly.
Ten minutes into their search, Elsa's arms burden ten articles of clothing varying from dresses to skirts to blouses to shorts. Jack had tried to offer holding them up for her, but she had refused vehemently that she could handle it.
"You know, it would be more fun if you tried on some clothes too rather than waiting on me try some," Elsa suggested.
Shrugging, Jack remarked, "I guess it wouldn't hurt… I'll just pick up a couple of miscellaneous one on the way."
"No, choose ones that you really like," she encouraged.
"I don't really see a point to try hard when I'm not going to get any," he pressed.
"Well you ought to reward yourself weekly at least, right? You worked hard this week, so you might as well give yourself a present while we're still here," she insisted.
"You…" he mumbled, "you're a really strange girl."
Elsa shrugged, giving him a taste of his own medicine, "Serves you right, you spineless eel."
"Why you…!" he exclaimed while Elsa stuck her tongue out at him.
"Don't get in trouble now," she added as she walked towards the men's department.
Catching up to her Jack added, "You're one cheeky monkey."
"Monkey?!" she flared up.
"Oh? I see one just now!" he cackled.
With dignity, Elsa turned her head away, while Jack ran in front of her and squeezed her cheeks. He commented, "If you continue to act like that, it makes it easier to pick on you, Elsa. And trust me when I say this; I don't know what I am capable of doing to you."
With her cheeks flushed, Elsa pulled away and turned her direction towards the dressing room without another word.
The brunette chuckled to himself as he watched her raced away. When he sensed the familiar excruciating pain flood through his chest, he began to chase after her. By the time he caught up to her, she was on top of the hill of clothes, with her legs tucked towards her stomach. Despite being breathless, the sight of her climbing skirt brought him to take action. Without thinking he carried her in his arms, with one hand securely covering the back of her skirt from gaining unwanted attention.
A couple of worried customers ran towards them, worried about Elsa's condition.
"Ah, excuse me," one of the women spoke up, "is she okay?"
"Yeah," he answered calmly, "she has one of those dizzy spells every now and then. She just needs to sit down and catch her breath."
An employee spoke up this time, "Does she need to go to the hospital?"
"No, it's okay. This is normal. It's just a rare occurrence, but can you please get a cart for those clothes for us and bring it to the dressing room, please?"
"Sure thing," the employee stated obediently before rushing off to get a cart.
After a couple more bystanders voiced out their concerns, the sea dispersed. A couple side comments did not pass Elsa's ears as they passed by.
"Really, now…" Jack whispered to her, "I really can't keep my eyes off you for one second."
Rather than irritation, his message came off gentle and warm, to the point that it melted through her heart--although she would never acknowledge them.
"You can put me down now," she answered gently.
"So you can run off again and have the both of us killed?" he chuckled. "I don't think so."
Elsa fell quiet and remained nuzzled close to his chest.
After a couple seconds, he asked, "Hey… are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"It looked like you went through a hard fall."
"Not really, the clothes broke my fall."
"What about your heart?"
"My heart?" Elsa echoed, aimlessly. Rather than focusing on her own, she could heart and feel his pounding through her right ear, strong and reassuring.
"Yours not mine," he muttered, bashfully.
"It's not like I was listening to yours…" she retorted, avoiding his gaze. "My heart is fine, thank you very much."
Fortunately, a brown leather cushioned seat was placed just in front of a line of dressing cubicles. Jack gently sat Elsa down on the chair just as the employee jogged in with the cart and Elsa's pile of clothes.
"Thank you," they both thanked as the employee ran off to complete his errands.
"Thank you," Elsa also added to Jack. "Although I rarely admit it, but I'm grateful that I can depend on someone."
"Yeah… it's no problem," Jack nodded as he plopped himself beside her.
"You know… those ladies we passed by were whispering about how admiring it is to see a reliable man take action and care for me," Elsa paused to chuckle, "they mistook us for a couple."
Jack also joined in, but sounded unnatural and almost forced. "I suppose so. All we did was act like a couple of kids."
"…or immature teenagers in love," Elsa added as she shook her head. Quietly she muttered to herself, "How silly."
Getting up, Elsa walked towards the cart.
"Don't you want to rest a little bit more?" Jack suggested, worriedly.
"You sound like concerned mother," Elsa noted, with an amused smile on her lips.
"Well it can't be helped with this new side of you that I've discovered. I didn't think you could be so reckless."
"Well, I am human after all," Elsa shrugged as she picked up her clothes. Recalling her previous proposal, she turned to her companion, "What about your clothes?"
"I'll get something else for my prize," Jack encouraged. "Don't worry about it, it's not your fault," he added when he noticed her eye brows knitted.
"I suppose we should hurry up, I think we really caused a lot of trouble for them," Elsa mumbled whilst dragging the cart next to her cubicle. "I'll be quick."
"You have to show me each one."
"That was our deal."
"Fine," Elsa exasperated while closing the wooden door. To save time, Elsa brought the article over her body and glanced at the mirror. In less than three seconds, she had already decided what to discard and what to try on. The first was a deep navy, cotton lawn dress that stopped mid thigh with deflated puffy sleeves and a baby pink collar. Despite wearing the outfit, she couldn't help but feel as if she were lacking something, until she glanced at the mirror and spotted a discarded accessory left at the corner of the cubicle. After picking up the item, another dark material caught her interest. She pictured the combination through her head as she slipped on one of the shoes and smiled to herself. She turned and observed herself from a profile angle and hummed with approval.
"You done yet?" she heard her companion cry out.
"I'm still trying them on."
"Hey, don't go back on your--"
"I got it," she whined while pushing the wooden door open.
Jack's lips parted in preparation to test her patience, but the sight of her left his mouth dry and silenced his voice. His lips closed quickly then parted, and closed once again while his mind scrambled for the proper words to express his opinion.
She stared at him with an arched brow, her lips folded inwardly. After a couple seconds of silence, a smug grin inched its ways on her lips as she bantered, "Cat got your tongue?"
"No," he quickly stated, "rather, it's just surprising how shorter a girl's dress can get."
Elsa fell back, surprised by his subtle comment. She had expected a response that most men would have stated--not that she was egotistic and self absorbed of her flattering features, rather she had wanted a simple reaction from him. Shielding her appalled reaction, Elsa immediately jumped into another, more obvious reaction. A particular phrase seeped out of her lips when she inhaled quickly.
A single article was flung over her face before she could frame him for his malicious mind.
"Why can't you just wear jeans?"
"It's too hot outside," she exclaimed as she tore off the denim article.
"I don't think pants would make a difference," he added nonchalantly.
"You wouldn't understand from a woman's perspective," she answered bluntly before reaching into the cart with the rest of her articles of clothing and returning into the dressing chamber.
"I could try, now that we're sharing one body…" he murmured. He heard her muffle a laugh and smiled as well. He was beginning to see a new side to Elsa, and he couldn't help but enjoy her company. Although she held such a cold exterior, he couldn't help but feel as if she were hiding something from him. But seeing her now, as a free, independent young woman, he couldn't help but be glad that she was the person he could spend the next six days with.
"So besides your roommates and North," Elsa began as she changed out of her clothes and wore a new attire, "who else lives with you in that building? I noticed there was a luncheon and directory window when we descended down their stairs in a hurry."
"Oh, that?" Jack began, "Those are acquaintances of North. The guy who works in the directory is Cogsworth. He usually shows up in the afternoon with Lumiere. Lumiere helps out in the luncheon with Mrs. Pot and her son, Chip."
There was a pause when Elsa held her button-down blouse, followed by re-wearing it. "Are they like a family to you?"
"Well…" Jack scratched the back of his neck as he straightened his body. "After that speech of yours back at my dorm, I don't see how I can possibly deny it."
She felt warmth emerge with those words and seeped into from her body. It was a relaxing and refreshing sensation, a part of it sent back nostalgic memories.
"What kind of people are they?" she questioned, intrigued.
"Cogsworth is more like an overbearing house-wife, whereas Lumiere is his polar opposite--a flamboyant and provocative character. Watching them interact strongly reminds me of something you would see on TV." He paused to chuckle over a miscellaneous memory. "Sometimes they're even better than cable itself."
Elsa welcomed the warmed and bubbling emotions with mirrored humor.
"What about Mrs. Pot and Chip?"
"Mrs. Pot is a good-hearted, woman. She treats everyone her children, especially towards Lumiere and Cogsworth, despite having a gap in their age group. And Chip is a bit of a troublemaker, but who can blame him? He's a growing boy after all."
"I suppose he followed in your footsteps?" Elsa stated, light-heartedly.
"Excuse me," he feigned offense, "I'll have you know that I'm doing a wonderful job as his role model."
"Like teaching him how to irritate girls? The poor boy will probably end up unwanted and unloved," the platinum blond chuckled as she quickly fitted her next attire.
"Are you saying I don’t have luck with women?" he inquired, absurdly.
"From what I've experienced up to now, it sure seemed like it," Elsa proclaimed as she changed once again.
"I'll have you know that I am a decent, gentleman," the brunette declared confidently.
"Oh? Says who?" the young woman answered amusedly.
"I'll have you thank Mrs. Pot when you see it."
"Me? Why must I thank her for a character you've become?"
"Well, to put it this way: Mama Pot didn't raise no kid to be rude."
Elsa completely fell hysterical when she heard those unnatural words spill out of his lips. Her back hit against the wooden floor and she slumped to the floor. A worried, but guffawing Jack stood up abruptly to check on her, but had fallen on to his knees, holding in his laughter. In between breaths he cried out, "Quit it, Elsa!" A train of laughter followed immediately and he lost his breath for a good moment. As soon as it died down he exclaimed, "You're killing me!"
Wiping tears from the corner of her eyes, Elsa controlled the bubbling emotion and forced her amusement to die down. Through the door, she heard her partner taking labored breaths to establish equilibrium.
After another moment of catching her breath, Elsa leaned against the door and wandered aloud, "If they visited every afternoon, then do you think they know about us after last night's event?"
"Well if I had to assume, it would probably be Lumiere," Jack responded after catching his breath, "But I have a trick up my sleeve to keep him silent."
"And what plan do you have, exactly?"
"Well my phone has this one particular picture that can keep Lumiere obedient," the boy chuckled while patting the pocket where his phone was located.
"So you're basically resorting to blackmail?!" Elsa exclaimed.
"Well it serves for some good purposes. After all, our situation is far too wild to be accepted in comparison to our mysteriously sudden relationship status."
"Still I don't think it's right for you to blackmail someone who's been a part of your life."
"Then would you rather pretend to be my girlfriend and suddenly move into my apartment?"
"Well…" Elsa began.
"You can't hesitate at all. The four of them will notice it right away," he continued, "we'll be forced to do things we don't want to do intentionally so it would appear natural… would you rather resort to that?"
Elsa fell silent, hesitating on her answer.
"I thought so."
"Well if that were the case, how would you feel?" Elsa inquired.
"Now you're just avoiding the question and flipping the problem on to me," he accused.
Jack scratched the back of his head as he pushed back against the wooden door. "I mean, I don't think I can be very honest with myself."
"You mean to say that you're not really experienced around women?" Elsa asked softly.
Although he was silent, she could feel a wave of heat envelop her body. She was unsure if it was emanating from their bond or from his back pressed to the door.
A few more moments ticked by, and Jack had still remained silent along with that blanketed warmth. When Elsa decided to press on, Jack finally spoke.
"Well… what about you?"
Elsa answered quietly with a shrug. "I don't think I could live with lying to myself."
"And about your family?"
She was silent, deep in thought. The same ominous air encircled them, creating an atmosphere ten times uncomfortable than their heart-to-heart conversation. He waited for her to reply, but she didn't speak. He heard her stand up and pace about the small cubicle, heard the rattling clothing hangers as she collected them, and the groaning door. He almost fell backwards due to the sudden action.
"Hey! Hey!" Jack jumped, "This isn't what we agreed!"
"I think we've overstayed our visit," Elsa replied as she glanced at the clock before dumping her selected goods into the cart and pushed it towards the check out lines.
"Wait, how did you change so fast?"
"It's called having your company engaged into conversation."
"You tricked me!" he exclaimed. "Why you, cheeky monkey…"
Elsa turned to him to express her disapproval of the pet name. Before she could voice her complaint, a different idea spilled out of her lips. "Well, I can get used to that name, just remember to carry my bags for me."
"Why you…" Jack began, but sighed when they grew closer to the register. Instead, he dug in his back pocket and fished out his wallet.
"I can't believe I spent over one grand today," Jack mumbled devastatedly as he looked over the receipts and sat Elsa's purchases on either sides of him. The pair were now seated on plastic silver chairs and steel tables located in the indoor mall's food court.
Across from him sat a content Elsa, quietly munching on her bag of miniature chocolate chip cookies.
"This is why I chose to be single," he continued aloud while his eyes flickered to her face for any signs of response, but she continued to stare through him with a distant look in her cerulean eyes.
Tucking his receipt in his side pocket and exchanging it for his smartphone, he quickly punched the camera icon and angled the phone towards her. With a single shutter sound, Elsa was brought to her senses. Her eyes fell wide open, while the hand that fed cookies quickly jumped to her mouth.
"Jack!" she scolded through her half congested mouth.
He replied with a loud guffaw at her irritated response. Taking one step ahead, he locked his phone when Elsa's arms lunged towards his hand.
Once she swallowed the left over pieces, she exclaimed, "Delete it!"
"No way!" Jack chuckled amusedly, "you had a really good expression on your face."
"No, it's embarrassing! I wasn't even ready!"
"So you would take another one if you were ready?" he mused.
"I wouldn't mind, but I don't see why you want a picture of me." Elsa replied as she plopped back on her seat. Her eyes sparkled for a split second, then her lips curved into a small smirk. With her arms crossed, she leaned forward and spoke with a gentle, smooth, low voice, "Unless you really do have feelings for me."
Jack smiled back evenly, unaffected by her sudden change of behavior. Instead, he played even with her. "Well," he chuckled, "I guess my intentions are really transparent as the others told me." He paused to laugh once more before continuing, "I don't see why that's an issue."
With a slender, bony finger, he activated his smartphone and gracefully slid his other index finger across the screen to unlock his phone. Automatically, the screen brought him over to the camera setting and he clicked on the pictures. In actuality, the picture wasn't half bad, but rather calming. The lighting from the slanted glass roof showered over Elsa, softly kissing her mesmerizing features down to the minuscule details of her loose strands of platinum hair and chocolate covered fingers. There was an aesthetic subtlety in her profile, and Jack couldn't help but feel as if he had witnessed Elsa's true nature.
Rocked by a wave of awe, Elsa turned to Jack with curiosity and pushed her emotion toward him. He met her eyes immediately, but there was a change in his brown eyes. There was a gentle look had replaced his mischievous, playful eyes. In this situation, if he had told her the same thing he stated moments ago, she would have believed him--would have been flattered and flushed as bright tomato… but she wouldn't know what to do. Seconds ticked by and she sensed her heart accelerate, the longer he gazed at her. Subconsciously, her right hand began to unravel from her crossed position and reached for her heart, but fear from having him hear her sporadic heart halted her gesture. Instead, she played it off and collectively accused him. "What?"
He chuckled softly and a small smirk tugged at the corner of his lip before answering, "I'm just surprised that my first impression was correct."
"What?" she echoed.
"You are an angel."
Feeling the blood rush to her cheeks, Elsa fell silent and her gaze averted to the ground, unsure of how to respond to such a compliment with that soft look in his eyes. In attempt to hide her flustered reaction, she angled her face away from his view with her hair acting as a divider.
After a moment, she heard the brunette stifle a laugh or two. Replacing her bashful nature, her heated face was replaced by rage. But in order to keep her head leveled she muttered coldly, "And so is Lucifer."
"But really," he answered earnestly, "you really do look nice."
Unable to bring herself to buy his reasoning, she asked, "You're not saying this just to get on my good side, are you?"
"Now why would I lie to you?" he challenged playfully.
"Then won't you show it to me?"
"I don't trust you!" he smiled, playfully. "How do I know you won't delete it?"
"If I don't see it, then how will I know that you won't use it for blackmail?" she accused.
"I wasn't even thinking of doing that to you… but since you brought it up…" he continued nonchalantly while leaning against his chair.
"So it was!" she accused.
"No… but I have another one from earlier," he replied cheekily followed by turning the phone to show Elsa's profile view while she was wearing her navy dress. She was leaning against the cart, collecting her left over articles of clothing when her dress was riding up to reveal her white undergarment.
"You lecher--" she exclaimed.
"If you continue your sentence, I can send this off to the internet. You know, it's just one click away," he challenged. "And at any rate, I was only going to take a candid shot until that happened." He turned off his phone and tucked it into his pocket. "It's your fault for wearing such short articles of clothing."
"I would be wearing shorts underneath, naturally," she muttered to herself, fumed.
"Well you are wearing a skirt now aren't you?"
"It's a skort," Elsa explained, "it's built in with this skirt, but the length of the short is a little less than mid thigh." She immediately took note of his tense face and rigid shoulder before giggling softly. "I assume there was an incident related to that in our previous engagement?"
"I took extra precaution. See I told you I'm not as ill mannered as you portrayed me to be," he proclaimed defensively.
"Well… Mama Pot didn't raise no kid to be rude," Elsa quoted, followed by fading into a guffaw.
Jack joined in immediately out of free will and from Elsa's amusement.
"I still can't believe you can say something like that!" the platinum blond exclaimed after catching her breath.
"It was something Chip always reminded me when I ran into trouble," Jack explained after catching his own breath. "The first time I heard him say it, made me forget what I had schemed to do that day."
"So Chip is younger than you?"
"He's about sixteen now. I always cared for him after I had moved into that complex," Jack's face grew softer and his smile was tender when he continued, "I guess I can say that he's practically like a little brother to me."
Elsa nodded in awe. He sensed her admiration waft though him. When she didn't respond, he continued.
"How about your family?"
Elsa's eyes flickered to her hands, almost immediately. He sensed that same ominous cloud flow through him.
"Don't worry, I won't force you through blackmail or anything."
The young woman chuckled softly at his comment.
"I won't force you to tell me if you don't want to."
He felt trepidation flow into his body. There was hesitance, but also irritation. She was silent for another couple seconds before she finally spoke.
"Well I do, like you have…"
"Are they their real family?"
She shook her head before answering slowly. "I've had friends who I considered my family…They took me in like I was their real sibling."
She smiled gently, but deep in her soft eyes held pain in them. Even for a split second he felt a sudden throb course through him. Because it was so quick, he was unsure if this was his own emotions, reacting to her tragic tale or hers.
"It was nice to be around people like them… to feel blissfully free from titles and responsibilities. It was hard to go back to that position once I had a taste of it. I just wish that I could let it go…" she murmured softly.
"So the girl I just witnessed today was that kind of person?"
Elsa smiled weakly. "I was robbed of my childhood at such an early age. Responsibilities were already drilled into my memory at the time, so I had a picture of what I had to do."
A heavy atmosphere had taken over, and dread had overwhelmed the pair. Jack remained quiet and patient for Elsa to continue, but he decided not to press her. Instead he observed her. From her water-falling platinum blond hair to her broken sapphire eyes, down to her dejected, hanging head. She sighed softly, before meeting his eyes. She must've felt his sympathy towards her and smiled weakly. Gathering both sides of her hair and pulling them back, she straightened herself, and brushed off the tensioned atmosphere.
It was here he admired her, no far before that. This one was another addition he was in awe with her calm and collected behavior. Even when she shared her life story with him, he couldn't help but admire her. They were practically sharing the same path in this lifetime, but the way she had handled her situation in comparison to his was completely different. Was this, perhaps, the mature nature she harvested from earlier years? He wondered.
"To be honest, this is the most fun I've ever had in a while," she smiled softly before standing up. "Thanks for this. I can carry my bags from here."
Jack shook his head whilst picking up the bags as he stood up. "No, I can handle it," he insisted, "just finish eating your cookies."
"Would you like some?" she asked as she walked beside him.
"Ah..." He replied with his jaw open. She quickly popped a piece in his mouth. "Thanks," he added as he chewed.
"Don't talk with your mouth full."
After a second of swallowing the snack, he bantered, "You're one to talk."
She smirked at his comment before retorting, "At least I still have manners."
"But you still talked with food in your mouth!" he exclaimed.
"But at least I was considerate."
"Same difference," he muttered.
"Is not!" she insisted.
Jack stopped in his tracks and immediately turned the other direction, leaving Elsa standing behind, confused.
"Hey, where are you going?! The parking lot is this way."
"I'm returning your clothes," he answered nonchalantly.
Jack laughed as his companion chased after him.
"I'm kidding," he chuckled, earning him a punch to the arm. "You didn't have to punch me for it. I might add well return it then."
"Then what clothes am I gonna wear? Yours?"
He shrugged amusedly. "I don't mind."
"I prefer briefs," he replied calmly.
"Not gonna happen," she deadpanned.
Jack laughed beside her. She couldn't help but smile beside him as they departed from the mall.