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Anime, Ice Breakers & Cat Girls?

I don’t know anything about Chainsaw Man. At this rate, I’ll stay quiet, which means Anike got what he wanted. A frown etched itself into Amelia’s brow. That’s it. I’m talking.

Resisting the urge to fiddle with her clothes, Amelia fell into step with the boys. “I’ve never read Chainsaw Man, but I love manga and reading. Do you?” She inquired, the words directed at Jasper.

Chuckling lightly, he stared at the pavement. “I love Chainsaw Man, it’s a great manga, but honestly, I don’t like reading.” Amelia blinked at him. “I’m a pretty lazy guy.” He shrugged. After a few moments of staring, Amelia’s eyes widened. “Oh, I see.” She said, nodding. “Yea,” he responded. Neither said anything after.

I don’t believe this. Amelia glared at the side of Stefan’s face. Jasper seems shy and awkward. Great. Just great. Eyes glued to his phone, Stefan remained unaware of Amelia’s growing irritation and the increasing awkwardness of the situation. How do I talk with him now? Anike is as helpful as ever. Amelia sighed deeply.

They had been walking for some minutes. Amelia, growing uncomfortable with the silence, attempted conversation again. “So, you like anime?” She asked.

On hearing Amelia’s question, Jaspers pace increased, and a grin brightened his face. “Yap,” He replied. “I love anime.” His steps faltered, hesitantly, he looked back at Amelia. The subtle rigidness of her posture had vanished, her arms relaxed by her side, and she was beaming at him.

He likes anime. Finally, finally a topic I can actually talk about.

“Do you like anime?” He inquired politely in a pleasant voice.

Amelia stopped, her eyebrows rising, disbelief written on her countenance. “Do I like anime?” She repeated, a light chuckle slipping past her lips. “I don’t like anime. I love it,” she said.

At her response, Jasper exhaled, the slight furrows of his brow smoothed out and the hints of apprehension clouding his face disappeared. “What are your favourite animes?” Amelia asked him, her voice climbing with excitement.

The wistful, vacant expression that had entered his eyes only moments before cleared as his attention returned to Amelia.“I’ve seen so many, but if I had to pick just one, I would definitely choose NEG.” Jasper said, staring at his phone before slipping it back into his pocket. “NEG?” Amelia was looking at him quizzically. “Is that the name of the anime or . . .” Her voice trailing off.

“NEG, Neon Evangeline Genisis.” He replied. “It’s an older anime, so it makes sense if you’ve never heard of it before.”

“Hmmm, I see.” Amelia nodded her head. “What are your top five anime’s?” She questioned. As he listed them, Amelia’s expression grew confused. Turning to Stefan, she tugged on his sleeve, interrupting him. “Anike, I need your phone.”

Stefan stared at Amelia, surprise on his face. “My phone? Why?” Amelia held her hand open for him. “Just let me borrow it for a bit, please,” she insisted. “I was in the middle of a game,” Stefan said as he dropped the phone into her open palm.

“Damn. You really trust her. You handed your phone over so easily,” Jasper joked.

Standing behind Amelia and casting her in shadow, Stefan didn’t bother looking up as he responded. “I have nothing to hide, plus she won’t do anything.” Jasper opened his mouth to respond, but Stefan cut him off. “And before you ask, no,” he glared. “I do not have any cute, cat-girl pics in my gallery.” Amelia began coughing, which sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter. Meanwhile, Jasper’s chuckles filled the silence that had descended with the temporary lull in traffic.

Amelia, on Stephan’s phone, was searching up the animes Jasper had mentioned. Girls fill their galleries with k-pop idols, hot actors, or anyone they have a crush on. Then I meet guys, and what do they have saved on their galleries? Anime girls. Interesting. Amelia shook her head, a smile playing on her lips as she listened to their conversation.

This from the girl who has millions of male anime characters saved on her laptop.” The voice had adopted a smooth, liquid metal quality, but to Amelia, it was grating. The anime’s she had searched up were all older animes. How do I talk with him now? Anime or books are the only way I can hold a convo with someone I don’t know.

Beginning to feel overwhelmed, Amelia focused on breathing. He doesn’t like reading, and . . . well, the anime option isn’t happening. The voice in her head scoffed at her internal panic. I can hear you, ya know. Amelia mentally gave the voice in her head a kick.

The voice remaining silent, Amelia peeked at the boys from the corner of her eyes. They were still laughing and talking. “Just find something else to talk about. Why do you even have to talk with him?” Scuffing the tip of her shoe against the pavement, Amelia suppressed a sigh. Because Anike wants me to not talk. And if there is ever a reason to chat with someone, there you have it.

Turning back to the boys, intending on returning Stefan’s phone, she stopped. Regarding Stefan carefully, a sly grin spread across her face and a mischievous gleam reflected in her eyes.

“ -Doesn’t open my notes or Snapchat, I won’t mind.” Stefan was saying.

I have a brilliant idea. The voice in Amelia’s head had taken the form of a large, black cat and was curled up in a corner, where it seemed to be sleeping if it weren’t for its snort of derision. “Brilliant, she says.” It muttered, tail swishing idly, back and forth.

“So, as long as I don’t go on your Snapchat or notes, you don’t mind what I do with your phone, correct?” Amelia asked Stefan, an innocent expression on her face.

“Yep, pretty much,” Stefan replied, his eyebrows creasing slightly.

Grinning conspiratorily at Amelia, “I think you should go on his Snap or Insta and see what he has there.” Jasper stage whispered. “Maybe also text a few people from his account.”

Amelia smiled sweetly at Stefan. I told you it was a brilliant plan. Look, what better icebreaker or getting to know someone activity thing could there be? Peering at Amelia in silence, still in cat form, the voice vanished. Wow. Can’t take being wrong. Somehow.

Brushing away thoughts of the voice in her head, Amelia gave Jaspers sleeve a firm, sharp tug. Laughing, she began running. As she ran, self-doubt crept into her heart. Amelia crossed her fingers, hoping Jasper would get it and play along. It would be embarrassing if he didn’t. Oh god, I so didn’t think this through.

A heartbeat later, the sound of sneakers pounding on the pavement reached her ears. The sight of an accompanying shadow running alongside hers assuaged Amelia’s worries.

Chancing a glance over her shoulder, Jasper smiled at her while Stefan stood rooted where she had left him, blinking blankly after them.

The smile on her face spreading, Amelia savoured the feel of the wind against her face as she increased her speed, embracing the burning ache building in her legs. Jasper, with his long legs, had no trouble keeping pace with her. They turned a corner. “The playground?” Jasper asked, nodding his head towards the play structures. Panting, Amelia made an affirmative sound as she ran for it.

“How are you not tired or anything? Ugh,” Amelia groaned. “Short people problems.”

Jasper watched, amusement shining in his eyes, as she collapsed against the slides, bracing against it while she caught her breath. “I walk at least once every day, for a good hour or so, sometimes twice a day. This wasn’t a big deal for me.”

“I can see that,” Amelia sighed. She reached for the phone she had slipped into her pocket while running.

“Amelia.” Stefan came strolling up to them, calm and composed. His hands stuffed in his pockets, seeming like one without a care in the world. Amelia looked up at him, wide-eyed and wearing her sweetest smile.

“Stefan.” She turned to Jasper, who was leaning against a light post, watching them with interest. “Jasper.” Amelia gave him a grave nod, her lips twitching ever so slightly. She turned back to Stefan as a sinking feeling made itself known in her stomach.

“Mimi, my phone.” Stefan waited, an expectant expression on his face. Amelia met his stare, fighting hard with the instinct to break eye contact. The moisture evaporated from her mouth, leaving her throat feeling dry.

“Your phone? About that . . . ” She started, blades of grass weaving and twisting through her fingers. Her fingertips brushed against an object behind her. Her heart rate picked up as a sliver of hope presented itself. Feeling around behind her, she dragged it closer. Recognizing the shape, a sudden rush of relief engulfed her.

“Yes, I’m listening.” The entirety of Stefan’s focus on Amelia, she felt a surge of defiance.

Amelia opened her mouth to answer and what came out was, “I lost it.”

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