Raiza - Call Me Liza!: Ghost In The Machine

[Toggle Names]

Description: After months without word from his robot girlfriend Nena, Rafferty is ready to get back on the dating scene, and he's chosen to ask Raiza (Liza?) out while he's in California to visit his family. It's a nice first date for the teenage kunoichi... until it isn't.

School's out for summer and Rafferty Lawrence Stewart couldn't be more thrilled. Not that he hates his life in Southtown, it's just that his time at Pacific High has felt so dull lately without the charms of his robot romantic interest Nena. It's been more than five months now since she got damaged in their battle with the dinosaur and as Simon has gone radio silent, it seems she won't be coming back anytime soon.

He'd talked to his friend, Edenlith about maybe looking for someone new to date but his heart hasn't really been in it. In his part time job, he's surrounded by stunning supermodel types, several of whom have expressed their interest in the platinum haired pretty boy but till now he's resisted. So what's changed?

He's back in his native California to spend some of the summer with his family in San Gabriel. On route he's decided to stop off at Sunshine City, the place where his friends, Raiza and Daisuke are currently residing. He's always been aware of Raiza's sweet nature and cute smile but he'd never really considered her as a potential partner before. But now? Maybe it would be good to choose someone he already knows. Somebody who seems relatively sane and fun to be around. The only fly in the ointment is her evil cousin but he's back in Japan, so...

Gazing in the mirror for a last look before leaving, Rafferty gives himself a nod of approval. His skin is glowing, his hair is perfect and he's dressed in one of his favourite outfits. It may be a couple of seasons old now, but it's perfect for a early summer evening date. He's picked out an eye-catching quilted cotton jacket. The main body of the garment and the collar, are black in colour, whilst the cuffs, hem and shoulders are all a vibrant shade of coral. Two large, Pacific blue coloured palm trees are depicted on the front and the back has two wide pale grey stripes across it. Due to the showiness of his outer wear, the rest of the outfit is kept simple. On his legs are black Polo Ralph Lauren cargo pants and on his torso is a plain black Rag & Bone t-shirt. Black textured-suede Christian Louboutin sneakers complete the look.

As a notification comes through to let him know his cab is waiting outside the hotel reception, he makes his way down there. Destination? The Daybreak Diner at the beach.

Having received the invitation to have dinner together from Rafferty over direct message, Liza had thought little more of it at first. That evening, she'd told her mom and dad at dinner about her plans the next night with Rafferty.

"And have you thought about what you're going to wear?" Sandra (Liza's mother) had asked.

"Uhhh, not really," Liza had replied between mouthfuls of spaghetti. "It's enn-bee-dee anyway. I mean, it's just dinner with a friend!"

"Really? Sounds like a date to me," George (Liza's father) had chimed in. "Do I need to set a curfew?"

"Oh, come on, George. Liza is responsible. You still have that pepper spray I gave you, right, honey?" Sandra asked.

"Of course, mom," Liza replied, rolling her eyes. She did keep the pepper spray in her purse, right next to her kusarigama and spare ninja stars. "Wait. Do you guys think it's a date?"

She thought back to the end of her conversation.

Pika no Kunoichi: sounds good!! XD
Rafferty Lawrence Stewart: It's a date, then <3

"Oh, crap. It is a date!!" Liza suddenly blurted out, before scrambling up the stairs to her PC for emergency advice from the most dating-savvy person she knew.

Pika no Kunoichi: hiroko-sensei!! I need help, I have a date with rafferty-kun :sobbing:
LoveTeacherHiroko: ahh the boy from tennis day :3 i have just the thing
***Transferring file: kamasutra.pdf Accept? y/n***
Pika no Kunoichi: what is this? How to fight with my kama?
Pika no Kunoichi: WHAT
Pika no Kunoichi: hiroko-sensei!! I just need some advice on what to wear!
LoveTeacherHiroko: oh, i see! how about something like this?
***Displaying image: leatherbustierthongblack.png***
Pika no Kunoichi: actually I need to do my homework ttyl

Realizing her mistake in trying to solicit advice from the elder femme fatale, Liza had instead turned to her friend Lucky Chloe, who had taken her shopping the next afternoon.

So, when Liza is dropped off at the Daybreak Diner by her dad's Thunderbird, she's dressed in a pink sundress with criss-crossing straps that tie in ribbons over the shoulders and a pair of white high-heeled sandals. Despite her practice in heels under Hiroko's tutelage back in Japan, she doesn't look perfectly comfortable in the footwear, almost stumbling over the curb of the sidewalk as she steps up onto it. She's wearing a little more makeup than usual - though it's actually styled to look even more natural than her normal dark highlights - and she looks around for her designated date with a smile on her face, adjusting the strap of her white handbag as she does. Meanwhile, George lurks behind a pair of black aviators, smiling threateningly at any young man he notices looking his daughter's way, uncertain of the identity of the boy whom she's waiting for.

Rafferty's cab pulls up around five minutes after Raiza's arrival. He's ever so slightly fashionably late but certainly not enough to give Raiza any concerns that she's been stood up. Spotting the Taiyo schoolgirl, he does a double take. She's looking a lot more girly and glamorous than usual in her pretty pink dress and heels.

He approaches her with a beaming Hollywood worthy smile on his face, taking off his mirrored shades to get a better look. "You look stunning, babe. I'm loving the cute little dress. Are you ready to eat now or do you wanna take a walk on the beach first?"

He shifts his blue eyed gaze to George Eddow and then holds out an immaculately manicured hand to shake. "I'm guessing you are Raiza's father. Thanks for letting me take her out on a date this evening. I promise to look after her well."

Liza beams a brilliant smile back at Rafferty as he steps out of the cab and looks her way. "Oh, thanks! My friend Chloe helped my pick it out," she says as she does a tiny curtsy in the outfit. Inwardly, she feels a swell of relief as he confirms to her father that this is, in fact, a date. She would have felt pretty silly if she'd misinterpreted things.

George, on the other hand, does not look quite so relieved. He gives a very firm 'by-the-way-I-also-do-judo' handshake to the young man. "Rafferty, isn't it? Of course! Good to meet you, son. I hope you'll have her home in time for ten o'clock. Her mother gets anxious."

"Dad! Mom said I could stay out till midnight! It's not like I have school in the morning!" Liza protests.

"Ha! Just a joke," George says with a grin. "Just make sure she's home before she turns into a pumpkin. And have fun. No drinking, no drugs, and no arcades." His expression turns serious at the last part.

"Dad!!" Liza protests even louder, sulking. "There's no need to bring that up! I'm not going to get hooked on Dance Dance Revolution again!"

Turning to Rafferty, Liza says, "I'm okay to go on inside if you want! I didn't think to wear the right shoes for the beach, but maybe we could talk a walk along the boardwalk later."

After all, further down the boardwalk is where the local arcade is. Along with the Dance Dance Revolution machines. Not that she'd let herself fall into that cycle again...

Rafferty looks down at his hand as George shakes it firmly. A while back he'd have been concerned about it bruising but these days he's a little more relaxed about such things.

"Of course, Mister Eddow. I'll have Cinderella home in good time. I need my beauty sleep too, so I don't want to stay out too late. Likewise with the drink, drugs and arcades. They are all terrible for the complexion."

He takes hold of Raiza's arm gently, guiding her towards The Daybreak Diner. "Heels and sand aren't the perfect combination. I'm ready for some food anyway. I haven't eaten since my breakfast smoothie."

He opens the aquamarine door to the diner, holding it open for Raiza to enter first. "So tell me more about this Dance Dance Revolution addiction. How serious did it get?"

All of the makeup that Liza is wearing can't fully cover up the blush that enters her face when Rafferty takes her arm in his. She waves goodbye to her dad before stumbling as her heels nearly elude her once more. Steadying herself with Rafferty's assistance, she offers an apologetic smile. "Heels and me aren't a perfect combination! Spoiler alert, I'm not totally used to these yet. What's a breakfast smoothie like? Is that like, sausage, bacon, toast and scrambled eggs in a blender or something?"

She steps into the diner ahead of Rafferty, looking even more embarrassed when he brings up her Dance Dance Revolution phase.

"Oh... that was back when I was about... well, it started when I was ten with Dance Dance Revolution A. It started with me ditching homework to go play with my friends. Then I ended up skipping classes in junior high to go to the arcade sometimes. I used to get fixated on the patterns and picture them in my head whenever I had spare time. I gave it up, though!"

She doesn't mention the part where it took an intervention from her friends and family to get her to stop dance dance-ing in public whenever music started playing.

She draws in the scent of the diner through her nostrils and smiles before turning back to Rafferty. "I love this place! My Dad actually used to take me here back when I was a kid and the beach was nicer. Well, actually, I guess it's pretty nice again now. The cleanup seems to have gone really well. Have you ever been here before?"

"I'm sorry if they're a pain to walk in but they do look really good on you" the pretty boy praises before starting to laugh lightly.

"I just mean a smoothie I had for breakfast. It had passion fruit, banana, mango and orange juice blended with ice" he explains. "Maybe I'll make you one some time."

He listens as his date reveals the information about her addiction, his handsome face showing genuine concern. "You know, that kinda sounds funny on the surface but anything that takes over your life is seriously scary. I'm glad you were able to beat it, Raiza."

He seems pleased that she's happy with his choice of venue. "I haven't been to Sunshine City at all" he admits. "That's one of the reasons I decided to stop off here before heading home for a couple of weeks. That and the fact I had friends in town."

He slides into a booth by the window, sitting in the centre of one of the ruby red benches and picks up a menu from the table. "I kinda love diners" he admits. "They always have the best food. What they lack in Instaslam worthy pics and celebrity sightings, they make up for in downright deliciousness. Do you know what you're in the mood for? I'm thinking maybe a Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwich and a coffee shake."

"Oh, right. That sounds nice too," Liza comments on the true nature of the breakfast smoothie. It sounds slightly less exotic and exciting than what she'd initially pictured. Perhaps there's a gap in the market for a blended protein breakfast-to-go. All of the flavour of brunch, with all the convenience of a milkshake. Liza's eyes gloss over briefly as she considers the idea, and the next thing that she knows, she's sliding into the red seat across from Rafferty and taking a menu of her own, lifting it up to look through it.

The menu card serves as a miniature shoji between Liza and her date, allowing her a moment to try and process what's going on and where it might lead. Are there rules about what she's allowed to order on a first date? She's pretty sure that spaghetti's not allowed, but she had that last night, so that's fine. Was it too much for her to talk about her Dance Dance Resolution? Of course, she's been friends with Rafferty for a while, so maybe that means that the pressure is off. Or does it mean that the pressure is on even worse? Could this ruin their friendship if she turns out to be a bad date? Has he only fallen for her because she rescued him from certain narcolepsy that one time?

Liza's brown eyes peek over the top of her menu at Rafferty as he talks, before quickly ducking back down behind the menu again when he gives her the excuse by declaring his culinary intent.

"Oh, that sounds good! Do you like chilli fries or jalapeno cheese sticks? I think I'll have the Santa Fe burger. Or the Cobb Salad. No, definitely the Santa Fe burger... I think."

Is red meat allowed on a first date? Rafferty's order sounds so health-foody, but he's also a model, which might mean he follows different rules.

"I guess you being here means there's kind of a celebrity sighting! I mean, you and Nena are kind of famous. Actually, um, how is Nena nowadays? I heard she's been missing school lately."

Rafferty's relationship with Nena had even inspired Liza to include a LoveBot in her manga that attacked the kunoichi protagonist over a misunderstanding regarding the LoveBot's celebrity boyfriend - something that she hope doesn't turn out to be prophetic in this situation. She's included a pair of large magnets in her handbag for the date just in case.

"I love chilli fries" Rafferty responds to Raiza. "Get some if you like. In fact, get anything you want. I'm paying. I just got another modelling job in Metro City for the end of August, so I'm gonna stop by there before flying back to Southtown. The pay is very good."

He gives her a grin, seeming pretty pleased with himself. "I suppose I'm a celebrity of sorts but I'm talking more major movie star level. I'm not quite there yet but I will be one day."

His expression darkens a little at the mention of his former girlfriend. He seems to take a moment to compose himself before he can speak. "Nena isn't around anymore. It's been months since I've seen her. I mean, if she was still on the scene, I wouldn't be here with you now."

The smile is soon back on his face as the server comes over to take their order. He lets her know what he wants and then gestures over to his date for her to take her turn.

"Okay! We can get some chilli fries to share then," Liza decides, finally abandoning the refuge of her menu to place it down in front of her, "and I'll have the burger, and a cherry Dr Pepper to drink."

She folds her hands on her lap, smiling. "Oh, I don't mind paying! I've been saving up since I've been working with Lucky Chloe."

Liza considers for a moment that she may have just committed a dating foul. Is she allowed to offer to pay when she was the one who was asked out, and Rafferty already called dibs? Surely she can't be thought badly of for offering to do something nice, right? Is it mean to stop someone else from doing something nice so you can be nice yourself? Would he think she's trying to establish dominance? Is /he/ trying to establish dominance?

"Unless you really want to pay! I'm easy, either way!"

Wait, did she just say -

"Oh, that's too bad," Liza interrupts herself from finishing her train of thought before further embarrassment can set in. At least the server has already gone. "Did something happen to her? I know everything went a little bit crazy for a while there. How are you doing, by the way? I don't think we've had a chance to talk very much since you got kidnapped and everything. Was the food nice?"

Weirdly, the question doesn't seem sarcastic, judging by Liza's sincerely curious expression. Her filter might be getting slightly overloaded.

The orders placed, the server leaves the Californian teens to their chatter.

"No way are you paying, Raiza" Rafferty insists. "It's cool of you to offer though. I respect that a lot. So what's it like working with Lucky Chloe? Is she a dance dictator or a sweetheart? Oh! I just realised! Your addiction probably helped you get that gig, so it did have an up side. It probably also meant you were super fit."

He lets the easy comment slide. It's not really his style to remark on it and he knew what she meant anyway.

"There was a fight" the blond boy starts to explain, lowering his voice as he does. "It was kinda connected to the kidnapping, I think. I'd just got out and Eden and I went looking for Nena. It turned out she was with Simon and then this robot dinosaur came and attacked us and we beat it up but Nena got badly damaged in the process."

He blows out a breath, still bemused that he was involved in anything like that. Sometimes when he thinks about the incident it all seems like some kind of surreal dream.

"The kidnapping itself was okay though. They had a gym for me and sometimes I got to play games. The penthouse I stayed in was really fancy and the food was superb. I almost could have stayed there, if it wasn't for wanting to get back to my life outside. Maybe I would have lived there forever if Daisuke and Eden hadn't come to rescue me."

"Uhhh, I have an NDA about Lucky Chloe's instruction technique," Liza says with a slight glance askance as her Dr Pepper arrives ahead of the meal and she takes a sip of it through a paper straw. "She's a very good friend."

She smiles a slight, but sincere smile as he comments on her dance skills and fitness.

"I guess you could look at it that way! Being fit and flexible is important for being an inja-Nay as well as being an ancer-Day - I mean, a dancer. Backup dancing for Chloe is a lot like Dance Dance Revolution, really. Actually, I think I heard they're planning on adding Pretty Kitty and Kiss of Life to the next release. We're doing the shoot for Kiss of Life soon, since the beach is cleaned up. I'm gonna be one of the lifeguards! It's my first acting job!"

When she isn't thinking a mile a minute, Liza is usually speaking a mile a minute. When Rafferty mentions a robot dinosaur, though, her brain slams the brakes and throws on the headlights, her eyes shining with curiousity.

"Robot dinosaur?! Oh em gee! I'm so jealous! I'd love to fight a robot dinosaur! Or maybe keep it as a pet!"

Liza sizes Rafferty up, recalling the incident in the riverbed where she's pretty sure he fainted before her when she'd been the one who had been hit with the sleeping poison-laced ninja star.

"So, was it like, a little mini-dino-bot, or...?"

She looks bemused as Rafferty describes the place he was kidnapped to.

"Wow! For supervillains, it sounds like they treat their guests pretty nicely. That kinda sounds like a luxury vacation."

She, on the other hand, had ended up shot by the agents of the same corporation. It's a shame she's too short to be a model; it seems like a cushier job than ninja spy.

"Do you know why they wanted you?" she asks, before adding, "Sorry, this probably isn't the best time to talk about it!"

"She's that bad then?" Rafferty laughs regarding Raiza's words on the pop idol. "I heard she had a rep but her music is pretty catchy. Hopefully if she's your friend she at least treats you well."

He sips at his own coffee shake, enjoying the early evening buzz he gets from the caffeine and sugar combo and perks up even further at the mention of the music video.

"You're gonna do some acting work? When is this being filmed? I could totally pass as a lifeguard. I've been doing extra abs work lately too, in preparation for swimsuit season."

Checking to see if the waitress is out of earshot, he lets out a sigh. "No, it wasn't a mini-dino-bot, it was huge. Like some movie monster or something." He gives a shudder, his shoulders shaking.

"I know what you're probably thinking. You're wondering how someone like me went up against something like that and survived to tell the tale. Well, I'd have wondered that too but something has changed, Raiza."

He runs a hand through his perfect platinum locks and then taps his long fingers lightly on the table. "I was like, a complete badass out there. It felt like an out of body experience or something, except I was -totally- in my body. I'd never felt more present. I know this all probably sounds super weird..."

He seeks out her eyes to gauge her expression. "I don't know why they wanted me. All kinds of thoughts went through my head. Maybe they wanted to clone me to make super beautiful looking people. Maybe they were fans of my work, or maybe it was something to do with Nena."

'Well' is a relative term. Liza has thus far managed to make it through her dance rehearsals without suffering any cracked ribs or breaking down in tears, which is better than can be said of at least half of her fellow backup squad members. She was even allowed to excuse herself to go to the bathroom one time during practice, but she's pretty sure that Chloe had a stopwatch in hand when she'd gotten back and her next paycheck had been slightly lighter. Unfortunately, she's not allowed to dish on any of it.

"Oh! It's gonna be next week. I can see if there's room for you! Maybe you could take my place. I've got a big scene in it, but I don't see why you couldn't have the spot."

What Liza fails to mention is that the spot involves giving the kiss of life to her red-haired Taiyo friend, Daisuke. She does smile at the thought, though.

Her attention is rapt as the chilli fries arrive and are set down between the pair. She leans forward and takes one to pop in her mouth as she listens to Rafferty describe his battle with the giant robot dinosaur.

"It sounds badass," she says, mouth partially muffled as she chews her chilli fry. "Do you think the kidnappers installed superpowers in you while you were sleeping?" she muses, before gasping. "What if you're actually a robot now?! They could have replaced you with a handsome, badass robo-Rafferty!"

The idea that she could be on a date with a robot imposter seems only to excite rather than frighten the teenage ninja.

"Which would mean the real Rafferty is probably locked up somewhere, still waiting to be rescued..."

"Damn it. There's no way I can make it next week. I've promised my mom two weeks of solid family time. I haven't seen her, dad and Phoebe since last Christmas vacation, so I owe it to them to show up. Ah well, nevermind. I hope you enjoy the shoot."

He gives her a smile as he grabs a chilli fry of his own, nibbling on it thoughtfully. "I don't think I'm a robot. I still need to pee and eat and I don't even like mango licorice smoothies."

"I suppose they could have given me super powers in theory though. That would be like, really cool if I got to be in one of those big franchise films. They wouldn't need to spend the money on special effects, so that could just go right back into my pay packet."

Warming to the theme, he rambles on. "I'd be the complete package if you think about it. Looks, talent, star quality and badass beat 'em up skills. I could probably have my pick of parts. Maybe you'll get to go to a premiere sometime with me, babe."

His starlight white iPhone buzzes in his pocket and he pulls it out to take a look. "Sorry, I can't turn it off" he explains to Raiza. "I don't wanna miss any job offers."

"Mango liquorice smoothies? Gross," Liza remarks, pulling a face and sticking her tongue out in disgust at the thought. She picks up another fry and twirls it thoughtfully. "I guess you're probably not a robot. I mean, we could test for sure, but all the foolproof ways I know how are also pretty nasty if you're not a robot, and I wouldn't want to do that to you, or for you to do it to yourself. Besides, I'd be ready for it if you malfunctioned and went berserk or something." After all, everyone knows that robots can be scrambled with simple magnetism - and electricity, if that doesn't work. Liza presently has access to both.

She smiles as Rafferty starts talking himself up to the idea of being a superpowered A-lister. "You probably would be a really great lead actor, if you can do all that! I kinda wanna see these powers, now. Unless they only work on robots!"

Her eyes turn to the phone as Rafferty checks it. "Oh, no problem! I know what it's like. I mean, mostly I just have a reminder to do my gacha dailies, but it's kinda similar."

Meanwhile, on the phone screen pops up a message:

Certified Non-Robot: Rafferty, hello.

"There's no need for testing" Rafferty says absentmindedly as he inputs the security code into his phone. "It's good to know you're covered if I go on the rampage though" he adds with a wink.

He nods along with Raiza's praise, glad to hear she's on board with his plan for world (or at least entertainment industry) domination but when he studies the screen, he seems to freeze, his finger poised in mid air.

"Well that's weird" he murmurs, clicking on the message. "We were just talking about robots and then I get this."

He holds his phone out across the table so the schoolgirl can see. "It even types like Nena. I must be getting trolled."

Liza raises an eyebrow as the phone is held up to her.

"Oh. They're still typing," she says as she narrows her eyes to try and read what's appearing on the screen aloud.

"'Infidelity confirmed. Identity registered. Please desist from attempting to... steal my boyfriend?"

Liza blanches even further than the pale makeup she's wearing already makes her.

"Is... is your phone threatening me? You didn't start dating your phone after you broke up with Nena, did you?"

Perhaps Liza wasn't as mistaken as she'd led herself to believe about Rafferty's robosexual tendencies.

Text-to-speech activates on Rafferty's phone, unbidden.

<< We have not broken up. Rafferty is still my boyfriend, >> the phone declares.

"Oh, no. This is too weird," Liza says, tensing in her seat as her hand slips toward her magnet-packed handbag.

<< Also, magnets will not work. They have not been a serious threat to artificial life since the decline of floppy disks, >> the phone chastises.

"What's happening?" the platinum haired poser questions, his handsome face displaying the panic he's feeling.

He stares at the phone as though it may be toxic, letting Raiza keep hold of it for now.

Sliding out of the bench on his side of the table, he moves to sit next to his diner date and stares at the screen curiously.

"How is she inside there?" he wonders, his eyes wide.

"It seems like she's mad at me. She knows we're here together. Has she been waiting all this time for me to go on a date with someone? That just seems petty."

"Nena, that's really petty of you!" he shouts at the device.

Despite his protest there's definitely a part of him that's thrilled to hear her speak again. "I'm not cheating on you. I thought you were gone!"

When the waitress brings the rest of their order, she sets it down in silence.

"Why are you asking me all of these questions?" Liza asks as she's trapped in the booth with the demon phone by Rafferty's decision to join her on the same side.

<< It has been necessary to conceal my presence virtually. There are protocols attempting to locate me online. However, I could not remain unobtrusive while ... Liza Edo attempted to steal my boyfriend. >>

"I'm not trying to steal your boyfriend!" Liza protests. "How do you even know my name, anyway?"

<< Facial recognition software. Also, allow me to play this recording from earlier in your conversation. >>

The phone beeps as an app loads, and a digitized version of Liza's voice says: "Unless you really want to pay! I'm easy, either way!"

"Th-that just came out wrong!" Liza says, flushing. "Anyway, you're ruining our d- our dinner!!"

She throws the phone down and starts trying to scoot across Rafferty's lap and out of the booth.

Rafferty grabs the phone. "Nena? Is that really you, babe?" he asks, staring into the camera lens intensely.

"I knew someone was after you. I said this to Eden. Oh, by the way, Storm died" he adds with a frown.

As the recording plays, Rafferty starts to giggle giddily. "That kinda does sound wrong" he admits nudging Raiza playfully as she tries to flee to safety.

"You don't have to leave though! You haven't even had your food yet. I'm sure Nena won't mind if you stay and finish it. It's not like she can be here in person."

Nope, but she can certainly be here as a rather creepy digital third wheel it seems.

<< Yes. It is me, Nena, your girlfriend. >>

Liza, for her part, is halfway across Rafferty's legs and apparently prepared to abandon her Santa Fe burger when the blond model's refusal to budge results in her finding herself trapped on his lap. Another wiggle is made in an effort to attempt to free herself.

Rafferty's phone takes exception.

<< I can see from the security cameras across the room that her seduction attempts are intensifying now that she realizes that we are in direct competition, >> the phone says dispassionately from where it's landed on the opposite seat.

"I'm not! I'm trying to get off!" Liza shouts at the phone as other restaurant-goers eye the bizarre threesome.

<< That is my objection, >> the phone crackles. << If you must do so in public, please do so without the assistance of my boyfriend, Rafferty. >>

"This is the second most humiliating thing that's ever happened to me in a restaurant," Liza declares, on the verge of tears, before wrenching her hips off of Rafferty's lap and stumbling to her feet on her high heels.

It's actually the third most humiliating thing that's ever happened to Liza in a restaurant, but she's blocked the most humiliating thing that happened to her in a restaurant from her memory.

Liza smooths down her skirt and tries to stagger after a waitress unsteadily on her footwear. "Excuse me? Can I get a to-go box for my burger?"

"Nena! It's so good to have you back, babe. Things at Pacific have been so dull without you."

Rafferty seems oblivious to the wiggling girl on his lap, so caught up is he in his robot reunion.

It's only when Raiza manages to wrench herself free that he turns to look at her. "What was the most humiliating thing?" he wonders before noticing her distressed state.

"I'm so sorry! Look, I had no idea that my ex robot girlfriend who is now living inside my phone would show up on our date and get jealous" he claims.

To be fair to him, it's unlikely he could have predicted it.

"At least let me get you home safely" he suggests, clutching the phone close to him, before whispering into it "We can talk more when I'm back at the hotel, Nena."

The waitress hands the box to Raiza, looking at her with sympathy. "You get some real strange ones on those dating apps, honey. At least this one was cute."

"Thanks," Raiza says to the waitress. She turns and piles her food into her box before giving a hurt, but apologetic look toward Rafferty. "Sorry, but I can't just shrug this off very easily. This is my hometown. I know loads of people here. It's not like Southtown where it's normal that your girlfriend's an AI, or whatever. Tell your phone that she can keep you!"

She whips around, slinging her bag over her shoulder and taking her box with her.

"I'll be fine."

She knows exactly where she's going. There's only one thing that she can think of to burn off all the negative energy that she's feeling right now.

And besides, she can always get a taxi home from the arcade later.

Log created on 15:00:10 07/23/2023 by Raiza, and last modified on 19:59:46 07/24/2023.