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alderwitch

The Other Goods

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Alex's side of the room for once was a mess as she had pulled out all of her clothes and set them out to look at them. Actually, it looked something like a scene out of a fairy tale as she was perched on the edges of her desk and her telekinetic powers flew clothes back and forth in different combinations as she tried to figure out what exactly she was going to wear for her date with Mark. Alex wasn't a clothes-horse by any stretch of the imagination but her parents had always provided more than any child needed at birthdays and holidays. For all of her choices, Alex didn't have a clue what she was going to wear.

"No, no, no..." She gestured and the most recent possibility landed gently back in her bed in a rather neat pile of discards and she lifted up a few more shirts and bottoms.

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Erin walked into the room just in time to nearly get beaned by a brightly-colored jumper as it soared past her head. She dodged with the grace of a combat veteran and gave Alex a raised-eyebrow look. "Did you have a war in here or something?" She dropped her backpack on her desk and began unloading all the day's homework.

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"Oops! Sorry" Her concentration shattered, all the clothes thumped softly to the ground around them and Alex surveyed the mess with an amused look, "I think I am having a moment. Mark asked me out, and I said yes, but it's tomorrow and I have no idea what I should wear. He said something red."

She gestured, scrunching her face up as she focused and the clothes began to refold themselves and settle neatly back onto their shelves.

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Erin pursed her lips and surveyed the damage, looking faintly amused, but trying to hide it. "Well... you have a lot of red," she pointed out helpfully. A lot of a lot of different colors, really. "You've got, hmm, that red shirt," she offered, pointing one out as it sped by, "and those red pants. They're not exactly the same color of red, but they're pretty close. You've already got the hair." Pulling out a notebook, she wrote down her new assignments for algebra and English, then looked over at her roommate. "So he actually asked you and you said yes, huh?"

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Alex picked through the various red things, actually looking dubious, "I don't think all red is quite what I'm supposed to go for. What about red and yellow?"

She beamed at Erin holding up a shirt and skirt that in no universe of color theory belonged together. "Maybe that's too flashy. Oh, he asked. I said yes. We're going to the super-museum."

Tossing Erin an amused glance. A museum of super-heroes was so very Edge, but Alex was sure the evening would be fun if nothing else. "I know, right? Maybe I should wear my mom's old uniform. It's red and would blend in totally. But probably not date-wear."

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Erin grimaced at the ensemble Alex held up. "Um... no, I don't think that's quite what you want," she told her roommate. "And not the uniform. They'll think you're trying to steal the displays or something. Maybe you could go to the mall and get something?" she suggested. "The clerks there will know what goes with your, you know, skin tone and color palette and stuff. They can find you something good." Privately, she didn't think any two items of clothing that Alex already owned matched each other at all, somehow. They were all just too many colors.

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"Would you come with me?" Alex asked almost pleadingly, "I hate walking through the perfume section. I always somehow spend, like, three hours trying to get out of there and then I end up smelling like flowers exploded on me."

The problem was that Alex was too nice so every aggressive sales pitch sucked her in to politely listen to their spiel before trying to extricate herself, only to be sucked in by the next salesperson.

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Erin shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The last thing she wanted to do was go to the mall, which was full of people and noise and fast movements. She wasn't as uncomfortable with any of that as she'd been six months ago, and she wasn't really worried about losing her grip, but it still made her feel weird. And, she could admit to herself, it wasn't much fun when you didn't have any money and couldn't buy anything. But Alex wanted her help, and she still felt a little bad about dumping on Alex the other day. And it was better than staying on campus and running a few more laps on the endless stupid hamster wheel of a schedule she was trying to keep.

"Sure," she said after a moment's pause. "We'll have to find a ride, though, if you don't wanna jump rooftops."

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Alex looked both grateful and relieved, "Up to you. I can fly so following you along the rooftops is no big deal but not so subtle I suppose. We can ask one of the boys for a ride if you'd rather. As long as we're not taking the airship. I mean, it'd be better just to fly that take the Pitchoo if we're going for subtle."

She searched around on her desk for her wallet and dorm keys and stuffed them in her pocket, "We can grab food or see a movie or something afterwards if you like. My treat to say thanks for protecting me from over-zealous perfume merchants."

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"You'd be surprised," Erin said wryly. "Even in Freedom City, no one ever looks up. It's a lot more subtle than running fifty miles an hour on the sidewalk, that's for sure. Unless you plan to buy a whole lot of stuff, we can just go ourselves, easier than asking for a ride. I know the way, if you just want to follow me." She sat long enough to retie her shoes and put her headband on, then rose. "We should prolly go now if you want to have time to shop around before closing."

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"Sure, just keep an eye out for me. I'm pretty sure I can keep up but you might out pace me," Alex put the last of her clothes away and then unlatched the window, floating out of it with the same happy smile she always had when flying. She hovered in the air while Erin bounded out and then whisked after her, enjoying the feel of the wind ruffling her hair and the unfettered joy that was flying. She reached her cruising speed and followed along in Erin's wake. By the time her sneakered feet touched the ground outside the mall, she was in a fabulous mood.

"We should do that more often!"

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Erin led her on a very roundabout trip, bouncing up onto dumpsters and fire escapes, over rooftops and across roads, looking as though she was very familiar with the terrain they were following. She checked once in awhile to make sure Alex was keeping up, but all the jumping meant she wasn't at nearly her top speed, and it never became much of a problem. She was a little flushed by the time they reached the mall, but in a better mood. "I always like doing that," she agreed. "Sure beats walking."

They'd dropped down on the service entrance side of the building, so they made their way around to the side door before actually going in. "I remember this place," she commented. "They must've changed the facade in the last couple of years; it's got a new sign. Which stores do you want to check first?"

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"Let's go for whatever's going to have the best selection!" Alex opinioned decisively. She led the way through the mall to one of the big department stores where she hesitated at the entrance. With more trepedation on her face than she'd ever had during any of their super-heroing, Alex walked into the store and started to weave her way past the counters of perfume. The sales people, sensing weakness closed in not unlike sharks. One pounced and Alex tried weakly to get away from their clutches, "Oh, uhm. I don't think I wanna smell like Obsession. I mean. How can you smell an emotion?"

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Erin glared at the clerk. "We're not interested," she said firmly. "Could you tell us where the Petites section is?" Cowed, the woman pointed them in the right direction. Erin grabbed Alex by the elbow and pulled her through the cosmetics department. "We could've just gone in through housewares upstairs," she pointed out as they left the danger zone. "Nobody's probably going to coat you in Teflon the minute you walk in."

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Alex brightened at the idea. Clearly entering through a different direction hadn't occured to her, despite the wiser-than-a-teen thing that she had, there were sometimes that misdirection didn't occur to Alex. "That's a great idea. I always come in after the food court so I just go through the closest entrance."

She blinked around at all the choices and immedeatly started gravitating towards the dresses which was likely a blessing. The less matching Alex was able to do on her own, the better for everyone's eyes the end product would be. She pulled out a knee-length white dress first and made a face before putting it back. Skipping over anything that might resemble a pastel, she continued to look for something red. She pulled a red and white polka-dot one that even Alex was a bit taken aback at but she held it up for Erin's perusal hesitantly. "It's red?"

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Erin burst out laughing. "It sure is," she agreed. "I think my eyes are going to start bleeding, though. And it hasn't got, you know, a back on it. Just those crossed-string things all the way down to your butt. Mark might like it, but I think that's sort of the wrong signal, if you know what I mean. And you couldn't wear a bra."

She walked over to another display,nudging aside hangers to look through the dresses. "There's some pink ones over here," she suggested. "They look pretty nice. And pink is almost like red."

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Alex turned it around to look at the back and shook her head firmly, "No, definately not. I'd probably hurt myself trying to get it all laced up anyhow."

She set that back on the rack with a solid click of metal on metal and followed Erin over to examine the dresses. "Is it a bright pink? I don't do the pastels so much. Makes me look even more pale."

That may or may not have been the case but Alex said it like a decisive fact. She pulled up one and held it up to her chin and glanced down, somewhat lost behind a sea of frothy ruffles. It was, at least, bright pink, "I think it makes me look even younger, what do you think?"

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"Yeah, I think you're right," Erin agreed with a skeptical look at the dress. "I don't know if it makes you look pale, but it kind of makes you look like a wad of cotton candy. How about the other direction, get purple?" She held up a lavender dress that she would've liked herself if it had been several sizes bigger and several inches longer. "I love the color on this one."

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Alex looked around to look down at the dress and made a face. "Or like a cake. I don't think I wanna go the 'confection' route for my dress."

She quickly put it back and turned to look at the dress that Erin was holding up and tilted her head sideways, "I don't think that would look good on me. I kinda avoid the pastels and I'm I think a little too skinny to really pull it off. I'd look all knees and elbows. It'd look good on you. Why don't you see if they have it in your size, and I'll grab a few things to try on that don't make me look like a cake or a clown."

Pausing to catch the look on Erin's face, she added gently, "There's no harm in just trying things on. Even if you don't get anything, people do it all the time."

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Erin shrugged, putting the dress back on the rack. "I don't really feel like it," she replied. "This is your gig, anyway. You should try some stuff on, and we'll see how it looks. Maybe we can find a clerk walking around somewhere who doesn't have a bottle of perfume." She fixed a half smile on. "Maybe, if you're feeling really brave, we can actually walk back through there and get you some perfume. Guys like that smell-good stuff, and I promise not to let anyone give you a bath."

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"'Kay," Alex said agreeabally and turned her attention back to the selection of dresses with a thoughtful look. Her hand hovered over a few choices before she wrinkled her nose and picked three or four. "I think that's enough, right?"

She headed for the changing room and quickly got rid of her jeans and tank-top before wiggling into the first dress. She frowned at the mirror slightly, twisting around to look. It was a solid color so that was in its favor. It was a bright teal with a fitted top and a pencil slim skirt and a skinny black ribbon at the waist. Personally, Alex thought it made her look under fed but she went out to Erin to get a second opinion.

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Erin was playing a solitaire game of Cat's Cradle when Alex came out, using a piece of string she'd found on the floor. She'd caught the string in her teeth to stretch the top point of the Eiffel Tower, but dropped it back into the shape of a teacup when Alex came out. "It looks good," she decided. "I think I like that color better than red. But maybe it's a little too, I dunno, rigid in the skirt. It looks like something you wear to work in an office." She cocked her head, trying to offer informed comments. "How does it feel?"

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"Like I can only take itty bitty steps or risk falling on my face." Alex confessed with a chuckle and went back in to wiggle out of the dress. She pulled the next one on over her head. It was butter-cup yellow and made of layer after layer of gauzy fabric that flowed from the straps. Alex took one look and made a face before she started laughing. It was not the dress for the date but she looked too silly not to go show Erin.

She walked out and gestured down. It would have been a lovely dress with just the soft gauzy layers but a thicker crinoline layer had also been included that puffed the dress out in a wide bell shape, "I look like a sad flower."

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"You look like one of those Barbie cakes melted," Erin agreed with a grin. She'd turned the piece of string into a rectangle full of interlocking diamonds this time, involving all her fingers. "Maybe something in kind of a stronger color. And a stronger fabric," she added. "It's going to be hot and probably humid tomorrow, you don't want the dress going all..." Her hands were occupied, so she gestured with her elbows, "pftht."

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"Droopy might be better than starched," Alex pointed out, bouncing the hem of the skirt with her hands. She headed back in to the dressing room and pulled the dress over her head, giggling as she nearly got stuck in all the layers.

She slipped on the last dress and eyed it warily. This one she liked but that didn't mean it was a good idea. Alex was well aware that her idea of fashion differed drastically from the rest of the world. Normally she didn't care but the whole point of this was to wear something that looked good to someone else.

Slowly she stepped out and lifted her hands away to pivot for Erin. It was a deep jewel toned red but so dark it was almost a burgundy. It was fitted through the waist with a flared skirt to just above the knee, and small straps. Over the skirt was a second sheer fabric layer with a geometric print in softer shades and a small ribbon kept the waist snug.

"Its very 'me', but is it date okay? Or is it like my traffic sign shirt?"

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