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linger for too long

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Sasha stares at the freezer, arms crossed as her eyes flick back and forth between French Silk (her eternal favorite) and Neapolitan, silently trying to decide between them. They’re both two wonderful options, but she’s not sure which one she’s in the mood for tonight. Plus, Zolf is working a late night shift at the hospital, so whatever she gets, he’ll want to have when he gets home. 

Really, it’s just the strawberry that’s the sticking point, now - for a moment, she’s tempted to go with the neapolitan, just for that, but then she remembers that Zolf’d bought a whole carton of strawberries at the shops the other day, and she could just as easily make a chocolate strawberry milkshake with the French Silk ice cream and fresh strawberries as she could with the neapolitan. 

French Silk it is, then. It seems to be the right decision, considering how much her stomach growls at the thought. Maybe she should have had dinner before coming out to the store.

She nods to herself, ready to finish up this trip and get back home just before it gets dark. She’s not worried about walking home in the dark - the two knives she keeps on her at all times provide a very suitable defense against any would-be attacker, but it’s still not something she wants to have to think about. Plus, the ice cream would melt if she had to take the time to deal with all that. Decision made, she reaches out for the door, not realising until their hands are touching that someone else had been reaching for it too. Sasha jerks her hand back, holding it close to her body as she glances up at the stranger. 

“Oh! I’m sorry, were you trying to grab some as well?” The woman looks... familiar. She’s tall and beautiful, and Sasha wracks her brain for a moment before realising that they’ve run into each other at this store before. Multiple times. And always in the ice cream aisle, always reaching for the same flavor at the same time. 

“S’alright,” Sasha says, and gestures for her to go ahead. The woman doesn’t, though, tilting her head as she considers Sasha.  

“You know, I always see you here,” the woman says, and Sasha tenses, before remembering she doesn’t need to be afraid anymore, that not every question is something to be wary of. 

“Er - yeah,” she says. “It’s - close? To my place, I mean.” 

“My name is Azu. It’s nice to finally speak to you,” she says, and extends a hand. “I mean - to introduce ourselves.”

Sasha hesitates, but just for a moment, before reaching out and gingerly taking Azu’s hand in her own to shake it. “Sasha,” she introduces, and Azu smiles at her. She has a nice smile, all warm and stuff, and Sasha can feel her cheeks starting to heat a bit from it.

“It’s lovely to meet you, Sasha,” Azu says, and her hand is just as warm as her smile. She lets go of Sasha’s hand, but the smile doesn’t go away. “So, why do I run into you every week here?”

“Er - my roommate works at the local children’s clinic, and Fridays are his long days. So I grab something for the two of us,” Sasha explains and Azu laughs. Gods, she has a lovely laugh, too, and Sasha might be a little bit doomed.  

“That’s very sweet of you,” Azu says, and Sasha stalls a minute, because she doesn’t think she’s ever been called ‘sweet’ before, and especially never in that fond a tone. “Fridays are my only days off, so I decide to treat myself with some ice cream.”

She pulls open the door and a blast of icy cold air comes sweeping out, making Sasha shiver. “Was this the kind you wanted?” she asks, and Sasha nods. Azu grabs another one of the pints and lets the door fall shut behind her, handing one of them to Sasha. “Here you go.”

Sasha takes it, and holds it a bit awkwardly. “Thanks, er - that’s well nice of you.”

There’s a moment of silence, neither of them saying anything, and then Azu rocks back on her heels a bit, looking down at the ice cream in her hands.

“You know,” Azu says, a little shyly as she shifts the ice cream tin from one hand to the other. “We could - would you like to join me for ice cream, sometime? We always seem to be here at the same time, and there’s a very lovely place down the road that me and a friend have been to a few times.”

“Er, yeah - I’d… I’d like that a lot.” Sasha stumbles over the words, but she can feel her own smile forming on her face. Her cheeks are definitely burning now, and her heart is beating a bit faster in excitement. 

Azu brightens, which Sasha didn’t think was possible. “I think -“ Her watch beeps, cutting her off, and she glances down, looking slightly downcast when she notices the time. “I’m sorry, I have to run. My friend will be over at my flat soon, and I don’t want to be late.”

“Oh - oh, yeah, course, er - yeah,” Sasha says, mentally slapping herself so she’ll shut up, but Azu doesn’t seem to notice her stumbling all over herself - or if she does, she doesn’t address it. 

She sets down her basket and ice cream to pull a scrap of paper and pen out of her pocket. She jots something down, and then hands the scrap over to Sasha. “Here’s my number.”

Sasha glances down at the paper - Azu’s drawn a little heart after the number, with her name, and her handwriting is some of the neatest Sasha has ever seen. 

“Goodbye, Sasha,” she says, and Sasha thinks she might actually have a bit of a blush as well. “I’m… looking forward to hearing from you.”

“Bye, Azu,” Sasha says, and then she’s alone in the aisle again, heart beating quicker than normal as she slowly sets her ice cream into her basket.

She tucks the number away in her pocket, and then pauses, pulling it back out again. It’s - it’s probably not too early to text her, even though Azu probably hasn’t left the store yet. She pulls out her phone, biting her lip, and then sends off a quick text to the number, double and triple checking that it’s correct. 

Hey. This is Sasha.

There. Fine. She tucks the number back into her pocket and stares at the phone as three little dots appear on the screen. 

Hello Sasha! Does next Friday at noon work for the ice cream? :) 

Sasha thinks about it for a minute, and decides that Zolf can go one day without ice cream. He’ll understand.

Yeah, that’s good for me. See you then? 

Azu texts back quickly. I’ll send you the address, and we can meet there. See you then! 

Sasha stares at the message for longer than she logically should, trying to decide if she should text back before just tucking her phone back away in her pocket. 

The ice cream is definitely half-melted by now, but it’s nothing being stuck in the freezer won’t fix. She readjusts her grip on the basket, switching hands, and sets off toward the check out, a weird mix of anxiety and anticipation stirring in her chest.

Azu. It’s a pretty name, for a pretty woman. Sasha can’t quite hide her smile as she remembers how bright Azu’s was, and then wilts a bit as she realises Friday is a week away. And that she’s going to have to tell Zolf about it. Gods. He’s never going to let up on teasing her when he finds out she got a date in the ice cream aisle.