Rayan walks through the mall, his palms open and at his side – The fact that he occasionally flicked his hands out to brush against someone would be barely perceptible if you weren’t looking for it – but under Rayan’s instruction, Sina was.
He had taken her to the mall early, before the dinner plans they had with Donna later in the evening. Rayan insisted – after all his fascination with the strange girl Pheobe had left them hungry the night before. Regardless of having fed independently of him, he still wanted to show Sina what it was he did – felt he owed it to her, for some reason or another. He had, more or less, already planned for this beforehand and assured here there wouldn’t be another distraction.
Clearly he had something in mind, and he asked her to sit at a table in the corner of the food court. Assuring her to just relax, he quickly upped away, presumably looking for someone.
It had been ten minutes and she still waited. He seemingly wandered aroud the mall, glancing in shops superficially. It did not immediately look like there was any apparent method to his search, but Sina realized something had suddenly changed and he quickly and organically moved back towards the food court where she was seated. He swept in behind her, grinning.
“There.” He mused, raising his eyebrows but not his glasses, looking off down the corridor.
Casually following his gaze, Sina saw what he was presumably pointing out to her – absolutely nothing special. There was a group of girls, no older than 17 or 18. They had phones in their hands and two held bags from various shops. They had been here a long time, and they were remarkably unremarkable. Probably popular girls, middle or middle-upper class. Pretty. Cheerleaders, maybe? She had no way of knowing. They did have a sort of vibe about them that marked them a center of their own universe, but realistically most people did at that age, these days. It seemed they were heading towards the food court, and sure enough they split up, waiting on different lines to get a quality mall dinner.
“Are you sure you want to see this? Last chance. Not a party in Ibeza, remember?”
Rayan couldn’t help himself but grin. Despite how friendly and thoughtful he had been, there was something more predatory in his stance, manner, and even speech when he was starved. She surmised his normal eccentric behavior effectively disguised the weird, uncomfortable feeling that naturally radiated from his body. The unsettling nature would be therefore ascribed to his weird, hyper-social, hyper-friendly and sometimes off-putting nature as opposed to something more supernatural and alien. Now, however, he made no effort to hide what seemed a far too enthusiastic glee for a potential demonstration of something terrible. His glasses reflected the light like mirrors, hiding his eyes – but his smile was too sharp, too inviting… too sinister. She knew the look. Whatever it was he had planned, he intended to enjoy it.
Rayan was off, gliding smoothly on his feet around the court – it didn’t look like he was heading towards any of the girls – instead he had a made a large loop and was now heading back towards Sina at a measured pace. Meanwhile, one of the girls had just picked up a tray from Panda Express and was now heading to a table where her friends waited. Sina noticed immediately that Rayan’s path was perpendicular to hers, and it was clear they would intersect shortly before she reached her friends table.
The actual contact was minor – he barely touched her at all – if he did touch her at all, but she had to stop short to stop them from both toppling over. He raised his hands apologetically as he looked up with a faked shocked expression and quizzically cocked his head towards the girl, muttering something. Sina strained to hear, and it sounded simply like. “Oh, sorry. Hey – are you okay? You don’t look well.”
It didn’t look like the girl answered, and it didn’t look like Rayan waited for a response. The older man continued on without looking back, but now with his back towards them he made another smile at Sina and quickly touched his nose with his pointer finger like some sort of acknowledgement.
For a moment, nothing happens – the girl sits at the table with her friends, and they have a shortened laugh. One girl indicates something on her phone for the another to look at, and they burst out into more laughter. That girl moves to show the phone to the first girl, the one Rayan encountered – but pauses. Even from the distance, Sina can see that the girl’s face has scrunched up significantly, almost woozily. She looks pained, and stares down at her noodles trying to settle herself and shake off whatever suddenly hit her. When she looks up, her face is covered in sweat and her aura a sickly green. The front of her hair is matted down to her forehead, and her makeup now splotchy around red eyes while mucus drips from her nostrils. She looks as if she’s about to throw up…
..and she does. All over herself, all over the table. It sprays across hitting one of her friends, who sits in shock at how suddenly and severely her friend had gotten sick. Another gets up in alarm and rushes to the sick girls aid, putting an arm on her shoulder to help her to the rest room. She stands up, clearly woozy, and one step in throws up again. It is putrid, chunky, and green, yellow and brown – and it’s surprising that her stomach was even able to hold this much material. She falls to her knees, half skidding in her own sick, while her friend stands besides, unsure what to do.
It’s only now that Sina realizes Rayan has gone, as he rushes over to help the two young woman. He reaches out to the poor girl, offering her an arm and some napkins to help clean her face.
“Relax, sit down. Catch your breath.”
He seems unfailingly helpful, but Sina notes he keeps himself largely obstructed, talking directly with them while slightly shifted from their field of vision. It makes it easier for her to hear.
“Wow, that was intense. I thought I might have heard that something really contagious has been going around. Looks like you have it.”
Rayan looks up at the friends, two of which are now clustered around while the other still sits shocked at the table trying to clean herself up, both look concerned that they too might be ill.
“Don’t worry. I don’t think it transmits easy. just a.. you know. relationship thing. I mean your boyfriend might be in trouble, but…”
Rayan says it almost embarrassed, and it might come across as awkward or cute under different circumstances – the older man having no idea how to appropriate talk to the teenagers. He coughs as if to clear his throat, not given them enough time to respond or even fully comprehend everything that is happening. He continues to look upwards at the two.
“You should be fine.. Oh. Wait, sorry.’
He suddenly looks back at the girl, sitting on the ground catching her breath – looking pale but slightly better. Rayan’s face is obscured with his glasses again, and he looks terribly nondescript. Now Sina sees another expression on his face – the kindness fading away, and there is a judging, mocking sneer, a vindictive look that only the sick girl and Sina could see.
“What about your other boyfriend? I know you told Marissa that Diane was flirting with him, but that was just because you wanted to break them up so you could have him for yourself. He’s still dating Marissa too tho, right? Does she know? Might need to tell her under the circumstances”
Rayan’s eyes flicker up at the two girls above.
The sick girl stammers:
“How.. How could you know…”
The others had become deathly silent, staring down at her, secrets and betrayals now laid bare.
“Or, maybe you just had some bad noodles. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
Rayan glances to her plate, still completely untouched and uneaten. He slaps his own knee and stands back up, leaving them. Behind him, the girl vomits again.
With a strange amount of confidence, Rayan strides up to Sina without looking back and knocks on the table.
“Time to go, we have dinner plans.”