"I said I don't want to!"
"C'mon, this suits you a lot,"
"Yeah, it suits a young lady like you, ma'am,"
The fashion shop was loud since they started choosing clothes. Luckily, there weren't a lot of customers that morning to hear their noisiness.
"Why do you need to pick it for me?!" Yukino asked Shouri.
"Because you can't pick one," Shouri directly answered.
"Sir, can she pick one by herself?" the staff suggested.
"Yeah, you didn't let me do so!"
"I do! I ask you to pick one!"
"Yeah, in ten seconds!"
"Can we calm down a bit? I'm afraid we're interrupting other customers."
The staff asked them to calm down. They shut their mouth for a second. Shouri crossed his arms and thought.
"How about you show her around, ma'am?" Shouri asked the staff.
"Are you sure, sir?" the staff asked for his confirmation.
"Don't worry, I'll tag along," he replied.
That said, they wandered around the shop together with the staff. The shop called Benzona had a lot of variety of clothes from the old-fashion to the new ones. Multiple choices could Yukino pick, yet she couldn't help herself to choose one. Fortunately, the staff was able to help her by suggesting the recommendations from customers themself.
Noon was near as they shopped for two hours. The clothes were picked. What was left was to try them on.
"Is that all you want, ma'am?" the staff asked.
"More than enough. My legs can't hold any longer," Shouri interrupted the conversation.
"That's said. Here are your clothes," the staff passed the clothes to Yukino.
"So, it's done?" Yukino asked.
"Nope," Shouri said.
"We have picked it, right? What left is to pay for them,"
"Nope, try it on first,"
"Wait, how? I need to strip here?"
"No, there's fitting rooms at the back. Good grief, how naive are you?"
"Shut up! I've never done this before, okay?!"
Yukino pouted, turned back and walked quickly in annoyance. Those actions left the staff and Shouri smirking. As she walked away, they followed her from behind. She entered the fitting room and slid the black curtains to cover herself. Meanwhile, Shouri sat on a tiny bench in front of the room with the staff standing before him.
"Huff, finally, sitting," Shouri sighed.
"Hehe, what a long journey. It's fun anyway." the staff started a conversation.
"No, it's not,"
"I see you having fun. To see her picky side when choosing, I saw you smile while in it,"
"Hmm, maybe you're right,"
"Haha, it's a good way to start my shift. Seeing customers enjoying themself is my pleasure."
"Hmph, girls things. Pickily choosing, spending money. Same things every time,"
"Hey, we're picky for various reasons, you know?!"
"Haha, I just telling you my opinion."
"What a cute girl, wasn't she?"
"More too troublesome for me,"
"Then, why bordered bringing her here?"
"She simply needs something to wear. That's it,"
"So, how's business?"
"Still on a good track. Plenty of customers come here often. There's no trouble with money too,"
"I see...still keeping business on track until now,"
"All thanks to you, sir. You've helped us throughout last year,"
As they had a good conversation, Yukino heard every word behind the curtain. Some made her angry, some made her bored. However, a sudden thanks from the staff was surprising. It made her curious. What did Shouri do before she came? That was a question in her mind at that moment.
"I did nothing. All I did was talk to the officer to let you guys go."
"I still remember that day. Are you?"
"Of course I am. It happened three years ago,"
"Ah, so nostalgic...It was a vivid memory..."
"We got a report from the civilians. A group of people said you're acting suspiciously." an officer spoke.
"What do you mean, officer? I'm just selling clothes in a fashion store," she replied.
"We have to inspect you and others. Your shop included," said another officer.
"But...I've done nothing wrong, officer..."
"We need to confirm that first. So, take off your mask, ma'am."
"Take it off, ma'am. We don't want any complications,"
The situation became tense. The people walking around them took a quick look. Some of them started to gather around the shop. The woman in the mask was panicking. She was out of words for telling any other reasons.
"If I do it, they'll know..." she whispered herself. She started shivering. Her head faced down as she slowly took off her mask. The people around spectated as her identity would be revealed.
"Hold your horses, officers," both of the officers' shoulders tapped.
"What?! Don't try to make such a commotion here!" one of the angered.
"What commotion?" he asked the officers back.
"Who are you to command us to leave our job?!" he asked angrily.
"Huh? Who am I?" he said.
"Wha—We're sorry, sir! We didn't realize it was you!" they bowed instantly as they saw him.
"To say such things with that tone to your higher-ups...if the commander knows this, both of you will not leave the HQ in one piece," he told them.
"We understand! Sorry, sir!" they loudly apologised.
"Then, leave at once. This situation has never happened."
"Understand, sir!" they saluted him and walked away.
The crowd started to disappear. People walked away and continue minding their own business. She looked at her saviour. A man in a t-shirt, wearing a brown trench coat and black jeans. She wondered how could this man leave those officers shaking in fear.
"Are you one of the staff?" he asked her.
"Ah, yes, I am!" she answered the sudden question.
"Can you show me what you sell? I want to buy some clothes,"
"Yeah, sure. Come in!"
They walked together into the shop. She showed him some of their recommendations, gave him tried the clothes and let him buy some of them.
"Thank you for shopping in our store, sir!" she bowed as he walked away.
"Hey, I've got a question before I go,"
"Am I right?"
"That...you're a vampire,"
"Why do you help us, vampires?" she asked Shouri.
"I just feel like it. Nothing more, nothing less," he replied.
"A lot of things you've done. You buy us these braces to conceal our identity. You introduced us to a vampire that is a doctor for blood supply. You tell us how much we need every day to sustain ourselves by using powers. At the same time, it ensures our survivability. What's your intention?"
"Are you doubting me?"
"No, I'm sorry for being rude. I...need to know the reasons."
"I see...then the answer was simple,"
Yukino lend her ears and listened closely. It was the same question she wanted to ask him for a whole week.
"I want to change the world perspective about vampires,"
"Huh? What do you mean, sir?"
"For thirteen years, I've faced a lot of your kind. The way I see vampires are different from others too. I've concluded that...vampires are humans but with their uniqueness."
"Why is that? We feed on your kind."
"That's one way for you to live. That's the only way too to have your powers."
"So, we still need to feed on humans, right?"
"Yes, that's one way."
"I can't get it..."
"How about I say that you can feed on other things?"
"What? Is that possible?"
"There's a question. Have you drank water today?"
"Yes, I am. Still, I won't get it. Why you ask?"
"It means you consume something other than blood, am I right?"
"I've been thinking over years. What makes humans and vampires can't live together? The answer was simple. Because vampires feed on humans. Your action of drinking water is proof. A proof that vampires can eat something else like humans that can eat meats and vegetables."
"Your theory sounds right...but what can we eat then?"
The words from the staff left Shouri in silence. He looked down, thinking for a second. Yukino was waiting for an answer behind the curtains.
"That...will be unravelled soon," he stood up from the bench.
"No answer yet or...no answer at all..." she said.
"There will. Trust me. Sooner or later, it will be revealed and we can live together in a society,"
"I see...then I'll wait."
"Yukino! Are you done eavesdropping?" he shouted.
"Wha—I didn't!" Yukino shouted back.
"Have you done trying?"
"Is it all fit?"
"Yes, it is!"
Yukino slid the black curtain aside. She was carrying the clothes that she had tried. She walked toward Shouri and the staff.
"Here, now we pay for it, right?" she passed the clothes to Shouri.
"Good, let's go. I want to go home," he took the clothes.
"That's all you want to buy, sir?" the staff ask.
"Yeah, that's all. To the counter, shall we?" Shouri held Yukino's hand again.
"Hmm..." she slowly nodded.
They walked through the store sections. The store was getting more customers as it was noon. After they passed others, they finally made their way to the counter. They scanned the price tag and put the clothes in a paper bag, giving it to them.
"Thanks for shopping in our store!" the staff bowed as they walked out.
"You're welcome. See you next time!" Shouri waved his hand.
The mall was getting a lot of people inside. They walked away, but this time Yukino held her head high. She felt less worried about herself after eavesdropping on Shouri's conversation. They took another bus and went back home.
"Are you having fun?" Shouri asked on the bus.
"A bit..." she replied to him calmly.
"I see...maybe next time we'll go somewhere else then."
She looked to the window again. It was the same scenery of the same city. People had fun, laugh, and lived together as a community. Once again she thought that she never belong in human society, but seeing a fellow of her kind live in one left her thinking. Can she live the life same as her? To live as a vampire in human society can be a dream and a nightmare. For now, she needed to learn to blend in with humans.
The bus arrived at the same bus stop before they went shopping. They walked again, holding each other hands to Shouri's home. As they approached their destination, they saw a man in front of the gate of Aoishiro apartment. He stood against the wall with his hands crossed. He turn his head right and saw them.
"Stop, Yukino," Shouri told her.
"Huh? Why?" she wondered.
"Yo!" the man walked towards them, waving his hand lamely. By the way of his attire, Shouri knew who was he facing.