A few moments passed, and still no sign or call from Ashley. It was sort of unlike her to wait so long before blowing up her phone, but it was a busy day on campus, so Elizabeth knew she would be a bit slow to the draw today. She meandered around for a bit before taking a seat on a bench underneath the shade to try and shield her briefly from the unrelenting sun. People watching was always sort of fun for Elizabeth, especially on days like this. There was a certain energy in the air on days like this; it was bright, sunny, and everybody was outside enjoying the beginning of the year festivities. Students had set out with new goals, plans, ideas to make new friends or see ones they've spent time away from. Some were chasing love, others were seeking a fresh start, some were even promising things like dethroning Hitomu. The feeling was so genuinely optimistic even Liz could not resist the urge to crack a small smile under pale, lightly glossed lips.
Dethroning Hitomu. Hah. Now there's a thought. Has that kid even lost since our sophomore year? She snickered to herself thinking about the prospect of being the last one to beat him, whether it was true or not she wasn't sure, but it entertained her regardless.
To think I used to be that damn good at this game. Time sure has passed... Elizabeth looked down at her handbag, which had her cell phone in it, lip gloss, a few cigarettes. her lighter, a credit card, some cash, and of course her Lunalights deck, sleeved and boxed. The smile she had just a moment ago faded; who was she kidding? Even if she did muster up the will to duel in a competitive manner, she would be rightly creamed by Hitomu. After all, he was well-practiced against the best Blue Yonder had to offer all the time, and Liz hardly even picks up her deck anymore. But maybe if she just asked him for a duel as friends, there would be something inside of her after all...
Liz sighed and looked up again, to the sight of Ashley standing practically on top of her, Liz's face almost making contact with Ashley's stomach. Elizabeth was so shocked that she nearly threw herself off of the bench, which was met by a roaring laugh from her ambushing friend.
"Are you out of your mind Ashley? Why do you do this so much? I almost jumped out of my skin!" Elizabeth scowled at her and stood up, brushing out her dress with her fingers to keep it straight and from revealing more than intended.
"Oh don't be such a tightwad Liz. I just couldn't interrupt you while you were in your little zone over there girl, so I wanted to come over and see what you were staring so intensely at!" Ashley nodded with a matter-of-fact tone accompanying her statement before quickly turning and gesturing to the festivities behind her, "Isn't this festival lovely?! We did such a good job this year with the increased budget they gave us! Did you do anything yet?! Oh my god who cares I'm so glad you're here Liz, welcome back to Blue Yonder!" Ashley quickly hugged Elizabeth around the shoulders, which Elizabeth was glad to return.
" Yeah well, I couldn't just leave during my graduation year. Good grades or not I have to at least get something out of this cursed place." Elizabeth detached herself from the much peppier blonde and continued, "Although I have an appointment with the Dean next week. Can't imagine that'll be too good. Probably has something to do with the smokes again. You know how the Dean can get with 'my future' and 'my safety' and all that. Blegh." Elizabeth mimicked air quotes in addition to her mocking, rolling her eyes practically into the back of her skull by the end of it. She watched as a few students ran by, screaming and cheering about some sort of 'entertainment duel' that was to be taking place soon.
"Hey, you guys got some sort of entertainment duelists? What's that all about?"
Ashley's jaw nearly dropped off of the side of her skull, "Well first Beth, the Dean is right about 'your future' and 'your safety' and you know it too. Second of all, we got some great duelists to sign up and do a show of sorts as one of the main attractions here! Are you gonna go?! We can totally get right front and center if you stick by my side, and these two really seem like some pieces of work. It's gonna be great!" Ashley didn't so much wait for an answer, and she continued to plow on with her own little monologue, as she's one to do, "Plus we're going to have some musicians, and all the buildings are open, I think most of the student body is here- oh my god have you met the Freshman yet?! Some of them are such little cuties!~ They were all so nice and some of the boys even blushed a little bit I think; they would probably drop dead right on the spot if they caught a look at you and those curves of yours. Hey are you hungry? Maybe we should grab lunch at the plaza before going to see the duels and then we ca-"
Elizabeth occasionally interjected or at least tried with an answer of some kind, and at some point, it had just become "Ashley. Ashley. Ashley no, Ashley. Ash. Ash. Ashley. Rendlemann. Ashley." while she continued on and on with who knows what. Elizabeth loved Ashley; they were very close friends and during her tragedy she would not have traded her for anything in the world, but the one thing she did best was shut Elizabeth's brain off completely with a never-ending monologue about how exciting the day was and all the plans she has and all the things she has done. It was never in a gloating manner, but rather that Ashley just had about a million thoughts and only one mouth to get them out with.
"Oh and by the way you are really going to have to show up to more student council meeting this year, I really think you could have a position if you wanted one. You know so many people just want to see you succeed an-"
"ASHLEY RENDLEMANN PLEASE SHUT YOUR GOB FOR LIKE THREE SECONDS." she placed her hands on Ashley shoulder's to emphasize that it was time to come up for air, "No, I'm not going to the silly entertainment duel you have booked. Those duelists run scripted duels, don't they? No thank you. Dueling isn't some weird television show where everything is determined beforehand. It should be live action, down to the wire. No interest from me in the theatrics. Besides I'm going down to CoffeeCards. I'm looking for Hitomu and he's been posting on social media all day about how he's stuck down there instead of up here. I need to ask him something, and I could go for a cappuccino before going up to the studio to dance. You don't mind, do you Ash? We can always grab dinner later." Elizabeth dug through her bag, briefly considering a cigarette before thinking better of it in a crowd and especially near Ashley.
Normally, Ashley would have most definitely been upset by her friend going off and doing something alone or dancing in the studio again, but the prospect of Hitomu was truly interesting to the council president, and she stopped for an extremely rare second, "Hitomu? What on Ambrosia could you want from Hitomu? You two have barely talked in the last 2 years and now all of a sudden you want to grab coffee with the guy? I mean he's cute I guess but it's probably pretty weird of you to be dating your late brother's best friend."
Elizabeth shook her head in bewilderment; "Date him? For Ambrosia's sake Ashley, get a grip. No I don't want to date him. I'm... well I'm thinking about asking him if he'd like to take a few exhibition duels, y'know? Just for fun or something I guess. It's sort of been a while since anyone gave him a challenge and the very small part of me that's feeling manic from all the happy people around me has me thinking maybe I could take him. Maybe it'd get me back into things. Maybe not."
Ashley gasped, "Holy s*@&! Elizabeth Hall wants to duel Hitomu Amaya?! Liz this could be the event of the dang summer and you didn't tell me you were thinking about it?!"
She could only scowl in return, " Could you like, I don't know, at least let me ask Hitomu if he would be willing to duel me and give me some time to practice before you start freaking out about it? It won't even be that big of a deal, why would anyone even come to see me duel anyway? It's just for fun. Cut it out with the constant promotion for Blue Yonder, would you? Anyway, I'll see you later. I want to get over there and to the studio before it gets too much hotter outside."
"Fine, fine, go make your little playdate with Hitomu then in a boring cards cafe." she winked at Elizabeth, "Bye Beth, love you. I'm gonna call you later for dinner okay? We can meet up with some of the other girls from the class!"
With that, the two girls parted ways, Liz with her eyes set on trying to right her track, and Ashley starting something just a bit more sinister in that regard...
o. m. g!! #BlueYonder students, I just got the #craziest scoop! Elizabeth Hall is challenging Hitomu Amaya to a duel in a few days!! Details coming soon for this *must see* #duel!
In truth, Ashley felt a little bad for pimping out her best friend's attempts to reignite her fire for some publicity, but what gets someone more fired up then a rabid crowd cheering on their favorite duelists and a crazy redemption story? She knew she would hear it from Liz, but she was not about to let this colossal moment slip away without at least a little bit of fanfare.
Elizabeth came up to the steps in front of CoffeeCards; a quaint little coffee shop that the students were always buzzing in and out of looking to test their new strategies and favorite decks. She was here all the time tutoring students who needed the help improving their play or watching some friends take on all challengers. Of course, Elizabeth was a sucker for a good caramel cappuccino, and Hitomu was pretty much always there to serve a hot one. She took a deep breath at the front door and walked inside.
Geez, it's freezing in here. Or is it just me? Get it together Liz; now is not a time to get nervous.
"Hey Hitomu, hope you enjoyed your summer. You got a second? Was hoping to ask you a question or two."
Welp, too late to chicken out now.