"It was a pleasure meeting you, Sam." And then Xion Leonhart flashed a smile that she hoped implied something along the lines of "Pleasure? Oh no, it was a displeasure meeting you, jerk!"
She took a cursory glance around when the light, yet dreary conversation was interrupted by a waiter. The restaurant was rather fancy; the chandelier lights hanging precariously above their heads, the deep red curtains and walls that surrounded the area, the tense atmosphere...
No patrons in the restaurant at all today. I can't believe Sam would sacrifice his customers for fame on my column. Not like he'll have the sort of fame he wants.
"Yesh, She-on, the pleasure's all mine," the man replied, as the pair stood up. Sam took Xion's hand and kissed the back of it, before presenting her with a bouquet of flowers. "Some flowers for milady?"
Xion could imagine how her column would start - Hello, readers! As a starter, let me share an urgent piece of advice to all mothers and people who have children- never give your daughter a name that can't be pronounced without difficulty. It may result in your daughter developing a sudden urge to slap the tongue-tied person straight in the face. Usually, such urges are rather acceptable. However, in this case with my date Sam Rex, it is completely and utterly unacceptable to split my name into two syllables. As usual, here's The Love Critic dishing out harsh comments on my date last Wednesday.
"Thank you very much. And about the article; it will be out on Saturday. Do buy a copy of the Twilight Times then. It would be good if you read it."
Do take my words seriously. You'll need it.
Xion smiled again. This dude was definitely uncomfortable with such an article about him being printed out for the whole of New York to read. Heck, the whole of America, and the whole world once she'd get down to blogging her article online. Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter; those were the platforms her blog supported. Her article could be reblogged, republished, shared and tweeted, by as many people as possible, and thinking of the readership, her heart swelled with pride and she smiled. The wonders of social media.
A million hits would be enough to humiliate him, and she had just the resources. She was, after all, the most widely read columnist in America. The Love Critic was the most popular segment on print, and Xion was behind it all.
"Well, see you," Xion waved, as she straightened her black strapless dress that flared out just nicely. Then, she hastily made her way back, lingering just for a moment to see if the man bothered to offer a ride. Another one of the 'tests' Xion set up for her dates.
Rolling her eyes and scoffing quietly to herself, Xion walked off, ignoring the lecherous stares from the other men walking past her. She checked her handbag for her car keys, and unlocked her new Ferrari, again turning a blind eye to jealous pedestrians of the street, ogling over her car.
She careened down the road swiftly, putting on her scarf and sunglasses as she drove through the business districts, an aura of confidence and wealth surrounding her. It turned heads and earned dreamy sighs, and Xion wasn't surprised, for her car was one of the most sought-after cars in the world.
Limited edition, with only 50 in the world. And I got it for free since that guy didn't want to be humiliated terribly.
Xion let out a smile. She was famous, professional and rich. What more could she want?
As she passed by a small café (The Oblivion café, she thought, what a strange, ominous name), she realised she did want something else.
The happily ever after in my life.
The Oblivion café was an average, lowly café in the suburbs of who-knows-where.
Like most cafés, it sold food, coffee, and all other stuff. It was cosy, pleasant, but insignificant.
So insignificant, that the employees could loaf around, and lounge on the couches.
"Axel, get your lazy bum off the couch! And didn't I take away that lighter last week?" Roxas Strife grabbed it out of Axel's hand, examined it carefully, before giving his pyromaniac of a friend an incredulous look. "You bought a new one?"
The redhead looked at his lighter. "I think I stole it from you. Yep. This is Alice Blitz, lighter, and wife of Mr Axel Blitz."
Axel beckoned Roxas for the lighter with a forced pout that would make babies cry out of the nightmares it would give. He attempted to grab it back, before scoffing, "Stupid wife robber."
Of course, the blonde was obliged to hand back the lighter, and he tossed the wet rag at Axel carelessly at the same time. "We have to clean up the tables. Marluxia's orders."
"Who gives a shit about that pink-haired dude? I don't get bossed around by a pink-haired person who claims to be a guy but surrounds himself with roses!" the redhead retorted. Nevertheless, he picked up the rag and flopped it back on the table, before making random circles with it.
Roxas sighed, his azure eyes lowered. "Well, you still have to listen to him. He's our boss. Besides, we need this job."
The mischievous glint in Axel's eyes disappeared. He got up, adjusting his sleeveless denim jacket and the plain black shirt beneath it. "The food, the money for our rent and electricity and water..." he mumbled quietly.
The two best friends looked at each other and sighed. Axel flicked his lighter, his emerald eyes brooding as the flame appeared before him. Roxas shrugged to himself, as if trying to pretend their situation wasn't much, and continued to wring the water out of the dirty rag.
"This does suck, you know?" Roxas groaned, and he flopped down onto the seat.
"What sucks?" a chirpy feminine voice asked, as the little bell on the door tinkled noisily. Naminé smiled at the two men.
"Yo, Nami," Axel waved, as the blonde girl walked over to give her elder brother an adoring hug. The redhead snickered as he watched Roxas' face flush in embarassment. "Well, look who's oh-so loving today, hm? You got into that awesome art school?"
"Roxas, I did it...!" Naminé squealed loudly in Roxas' chest (he could feel the vibration on his chest from her voice), "I really got into Twilight Art Academy!"
Roxas grinned, and he took his sister by her shoulders. "That's great, Naminé!" The two looked at each other for a moment, before the older sibling frowned, "Couldn't get a scholarship, right?"
The girl nodded forlornly. "Not even close. Apparently they checked out our family background."
Roxas winced. "Cloud."
"I can't believe that you still call Dad by his first name," Naminé mused thoughtfully. She sighed. "Well, no use crying over it. I'm planning to borrow some cash from Selphie..."
"No way, Naminé, you're not gonna borrow money. We're gonna pay for your studies ourselves," Roxas said confidently, as he picked up the newspapers to browse through it, "and for starters, I'm gonna juggle two jobs."
Naminé sighed again. "Sure thing, Roxas...but if you ever feel stresse-"
"-quit your job immediately," Roxas imitated her, before giving her a reassuring smile, "but I'll be fine. Now, how does pastry chef Roxas sound?"
Axel picked up another copy of the newspapers. "Speaking of jobs, Roxas, why don't you try out The Love Critic? You could ask her out and-"
"I'm not going to go on a date just to cheat her of her money and a meal, okay? What am I going to say after her date? "Hey, listen, I know you like today and all, so I was just wondering if you could fund my sister's education in Twilight Art Academy"?" Roxas snapped, before he narrowed his eyes at Axel. "Why can't you ask her?"
"I'm probably 5 years her senior. You're just 1 year older. She's 23, and you're 24. I'm 28," Axel pointed out. He stood up, indicating that he was about to say something important. "I was about to suggest that you rope in The Love Critic with your boyish charm," and Axel pinched Roxas' cheek playfully to prove his point, "and then invite her over here for some coffee. Bring some publicity. Maybe weasel some mone-"
"Not a chance, Axel," Roxas interrupted. He looked over his shoulder at Naminé, who was giggling all the while at Axel's insane idea. "Look, even my sister finds the idea ridiculous."
"Well, you could try it out. Maybe Marluxia will give you two a raise or something for the publicity..." she remarked, smiling. "Actually, I kinda like the idea. Finally, my big brother, going on a date with someone of the opposite gender," and on cue she glanced at Axel, who looked up from his newspapers, "who is not related in any way!"
"Hey, are you calling me a gay for Roxas, here?" Axel asked, and he smacked Roxas' back so hard the blonde almost tripped. Axel smirked. "Because our dates are called guy-to-guy meetings."
Naminé ignored him and turned to Roxas. "You should try it out. You're still young, and I want you to..."
"Settle down, Roxy dear," Axel teased, using a dish rag to whip Roxas' shoulder in the most seductive way that Axel could muster. "Have a girlfriend, get married, have kids and make me Daddy Axel!"
"Axel, if I ever had to make you my children's godfather, you can only see them once a year so you wouldn't be a bad influence."
"…well, make it Christmas so in the very least I can give them my lighters." Axel grinned at the blonde.
Roxas frowned. "Whatever," he muttered, before he glanced at the clock. Evening. "Should I try out this pastry chef thing?"
No one bothered to answer him, and Roxas was left to peruse the scintillating opportunity of baking pastries. Naminé turned to the redhead. "Axel, did The Love Critic leave a number there in her column? We could call her down now..."
"Pastry chef Strife. It has a good ring to it, I suppose. Hope today's my lucky, lucky day!" Roxas quickly stored the number into his phone, reminding himself to call later.
Meanwhile, the redhead scanned the newspaper intently. Finally, he put his hand out, his eyes never leaving the page. "Found her."
Xion flicked on the lights drearily. She wrestled the black high heels out of her feet, and she walked into her lush apartment, sighing as she surveyed her home.
She didn't even have a pet to greet her (since she killed at least 5 goldfish in a year), let alone a man.
The raven-haired woman sighed again, before she shuffled to the couch. She lounged there, playing with her velvet ribbon on her waist for a moment, before finally standing up. "I'm going to do some work now!" she addressed her home.
She was about to walk away when her phone rang. She jumped, and then raised her eyebrows.
Who would be calling at this time for a date?
"Hello, this is Xion Leonhart, The Love Critic speaking."
Roxas, Axel and Naminé were huddled in front of the café telephone. "I heard her voice!" Naminé squealed excitedly, "and it's just like what I imagined her to sound like!"
Axel grinned at Roxas, and he spoke, "Hello, this is Axel here. I would like to...ah screw it!"
The redhead promptly shoved the phone to Roxas, who yelped. "Axel! You promised you'd call her for us!"
"Yeah, but I didn't state that I'd talk to her for the whole conversation, right?"
"If this is a prank call, I'm going t-"
Roxas quickly jumped in. "U-Uh, sorry, hi. I'm Roxas."
"R-Roxas. Okay. Who was that Axel guy I was speaking to before?" the voice turned harsh and business-like, from hesitant and vulnerable. Roxas gulped, Axel turned around and punched his fist into the air, "She got my name, baby! Axel's still sizzling with the ladies!", and Naminé cringed at Xion's sudden tone.
"U-Uh, my co-worker. Would you like to meet us- I mean, me, at the Oblivion café, now? We really need the pub-"
"A date? Now? Okay, sure. Be prepared, though. If you read my column, you know what I'm expecting and what this entails."
Roxas was about to say 'Sure', but he soon realised something amiss. "W-What? N-No, I don't want a da-!"
"See you, Roxas."
The blonde man stumbled back, flabbergasted. "Oh, my goodness. I just arranged a date with Xion Leonhart today!"