The comments on the subject had all been about the same:
"All right, you lovebirds, move aside," from Seifer all the time.
"Oh, you're not?" from a somewhat embarrassed Sora last week. "I thought maybe…"
"Everyone else can see it, so just go already!" from Hayner right now. Pence and Olette looked at him hesitantly.
"Are you sure?" Olette asked.
Hayner groaned and stood up, holding a deck of Digimon trading cards. "Look, it's not a problem. This was going to happen sooner or later—we're growing up and soon we're going to fall in love. It's not like it's going to tear our friendship apart."
"So you're okay with this?" Pence checked.
"Of course," Hayner replied. "Don't worry about me. Just go out on your date and have fun. I'll be fine. I need to work on my deck anyway." The somewhat exasperated grin he gave them was sincere, so Olette and Pence inwardly sighed in relief.
"Okay," Olette answered. "We'll see you later."
"Sure," Hayner replied, sorting through his cards.
They walked out of the usual spot, and suddenly, everything felt different. Pence and Olette had always been two parts of three best friends. Now they were just two and three at once. It was strange.
"So, um, you want to head to Market Street?" Pence suggested.
"Sure," Olette agreed. "We can get some dessert or something."
They went down to Market Street and entered their favorite ice cream parlor. They looked at the different flavors as a waitress came up.
"Hey, Pence, Olette," she greeted. "Sea-salt ice cream as usual?"
Olette and Pence looked at each other for a minute before she answered, "Not today, Rydia. We were thinking something…special." It wasn't that sea-salt ice cream wasn't special; it was just a different kind of special. Sea-salt was for three people, not two.
"Ah, I got you," Rydia replied with a wink. "Just sit down and I'll take your orders in a bit. Would you like some drinks?"
Olette ordered strawberry lemonade and Pence ordered bubble tea. Rydia headed into the kitchen to take get the drinks while they sat at the table in an awkward silence. Neither of them could think of anything to say, and both were starting to think this date was a mistake. Sure, they liked each other, but did they like each other that much?
Would you jump into one of those dark portals to save Pence? some inner part of Olette's mind asked her. Her answer to herself was Yes, in a heartbeat. But she'd also do the same for Hayner or any of her other friends. Maybe Kairi's example was too extreme. She and Sora had gone to great lengths for each other, so it wasn't exactly comparable to an ordinary schoolgirl's love life.
What would I give up for her? Pence wondered. There were some things that he wouldn't sacrifice, but Olette would never ask him to give them up. He'd given up a few things for her when they were "just friends." He sacrificed his time and dignity to go shopping with her, knowing that she'd go around to several different shops and try on hundreds of things, asking for his opinion, and then hardly ever buy anything.
Maybe it was the little things that mattered.
They settled on sorbet instead of ice cream: peach for Olette and watermelon for Pence. The sorbets were a welcome distraction, actually allowing for some conversation to break the sudden ice.
"How is that?" Pence asked.
"It's really good," she answered. "Tastes exactly like peach. Try it." She gave him a spoonful.
"Wow, you're right," he said, returning her spoon. "You want to try mine? It's pretty sweet."
"Sure," she agreed, and he gave her his spoon. "That's really sweet. Are you sure it's okay?"
"Yeah, it's just fine," he replied. "It's kind of a welcome change."
"Yeah. Think we all should try something new sometime?"
There was a brief silence before they both agreed not to. There were some things that shouldn't change, like Seifer and Hayner's rivalry in everything from Struggle to card games, or the three of them eating sea-salt ice cream on top of the Station Tower. Just because they were growing up, it didn't mean they had to change all that much.
"So, where to next?" Pence questioned.
They wound up going to a movie at the local theater, where silence was preferred and nowhere near as awkward. But the movie turned out to be horrible, and they left less than halfway through.
"Well, that was a waste of munny," Pence commented.
"I know," Olette agreed. "Let's try something else. How much munny do you have left?"
"About seven-hundred-fifty," he answered. "You?"
"Eight-hundred," she replied. "Not all that much—not for here, anyway."
"We don't have to spend anything," he pointed out. "There's plenty we can do for free."
"Like Sunset Hill?" she teased.
He laughed. "Yeah, there's that." She laughed too. "I don't know. Sunset Hill's nice, but too big."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," she agreed. "Not right now. Not like this."
"Someday when we're older," he said, and she nodded.
They walked along Market Street, just peeking into shops without buying or trying on anything. It was completely natural for them, getting rid of the stress their first date was causing. It was normal, like when they were two of three, even though they're now two and two of three at the same time. It made things a lot easier.
"Let's try again next weekend," Olette decided. "I think they're putting on a play at the theater, and that'll be a lot better than that movie."
"Yeah, that sounds good," Pence agreed. "And by then, we'll have our allowance, so we'll be able to get tickets."
"Yeah," Olette replied. "That sounds a lot better."
They walked back to the usual spot, where Hayner was putting the finishing touches on his Royal Knights deck.
"How'd it go?" he asked.
"Could have been better," Olette answered.
Hayner winced. "That bad?"
"Not really," Pence confessed. "Just a little awkward. And then we saw a bad movie."
"You should have gotten your munny back," Hayner advised. "So, are you going out again?"
"Yeah, next weekend," Olette replied. "There's a play at the theater, and we'd have enough for the tickets by then."
"Have fun, then," he wished. He wrapped a rubber band around his cards and said, "Hey, let's head to the Station Tower and watch the sunset."
"Sure," they agreed whole-heartedly. Some things had to change as they grew up, but some things never would.
Kingdom Hearts belongs to Square Enix and Disney, and Disney also distributes Digimon.