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Max Reed

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Date: 3rd Nov, Year 109.
Tag: @Cindy Moon.


Reed stood next to a chest high silver stand, which had a sign that read please wait here to be seated in a curvy font. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other restlessly, his feet aching from both the wait and his formal shoes. The dark suit he’d bought from the discount store felt two sizes too small, a seam digging into his groin. He didn’t try to readjust himself in case people got the wrong idea. Jeez. Thrown out before he’d even met up with Cindy.

He’d come here early, anticipating that it might take time to bag a table. He peered longingly around the restaurant, every space he could see taken by couples or groups of friends. The rumble of conversation filled the air, peppered by occasional laughter or the crash of cutlery.

A waitress with silky blonde hair fastened in a bun emerged between bustling tables, leather bound menus cradled in her arms. She was heading towards him. About freaking time! Sheesh. He was getting hungry, having to watch people cut into their thick steaks or slip forkfuls of chocolate cake into their mouths. The smell of cooked meat, sharp spices and fragrant herbs dominated the restaurant. It’d have a starving man eating their own freaking arm.

The waitress smiled at him, although her blue eyes seemed distant. Clean artificial light shone on her smooth skin, making the gold buttons on her blouse flash. The windows around the restaurant were black, reflecting the lights and the lucky jerks who already had seats.

“Hey,” Reed smiled back as she came within an inch of him. “Table for two, ple-”

She walked past without a word, tending to the tall, good looking couple behind him.
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy was not having a good day. In fact, she wasn't having a good week up to that point.

Waking up the day after Halloween with her little... issue was a little disheartening, especially when she didn't realize that problem until she was trying to order some coffee.

She had to give up before even getting her coffee, which was just the icing on the cake. As far as she could tell, there wasn't really any solution other than just trying to live her life. It sucked, but she just had to deal with it.

It wasn't until a few hours before her scheduled date with Max that she remembered she even had one. Look, dealing with this level of crap for three days straight was difficult, alright? It wasn't like she needed too much prep time.

Luckily for her, she already had some really nice shoes, and could make a nice dress with just a thought, so she was ready well in advance for her date. Or at least, she could be, if she hadn't decided to get to the date her own way. Instead, she kept her shoes in a bag that she carried as she swung over to the restaurant before changing in a nearby alley, her way.

She'd never actually worn anything with high heels before, but with her abilities, she'd be able to stand on stilts without struggling, so she didn't need to worry about getting some pretty impressive heels as she walked the last block to her date.

Paired with a nice black dress that hugged her curves just right, and she was feeling pretty attractive. It just sucked that any conversation would have to be done through her notebook, which she unfortunately had to bring along.

Just as she entered the restaurant, she watched a waitress completely ignore Max as he tried to get their table. It lured a small snort from her as she walked over to tap him on the shoulder.

 
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Max Reed

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Somebody tapped him on the shoulder, Reed turning his head to look. He’d turned it in the wrong direction, so saw only the waitress laughing and joking away with the tall couple behind him.

He turned his head the right way, his face lighting up at the sight of Cindy. Holy crap! She’d actually shown up tonight! Part of him had fretted that she’d send a text at the last second, pulling out of their date, or she wouldn’t bother and he’d spend all night at the restaurant, staring mournfully at the empty chair opposite him. She’d just said yes out of pity.

Had she shown up out of pity? Nobody would ever want to date a giant loser like him, especially somebody who’d seen him as a giant loser bug. Heck. He couldn’t even get a waitress to notice him.

Reed eyed Cindy’s outfit, taking in the classy curve hugging dress and glamorous high heels. The shoes even made her a little taller than him, which was kinda awkward. He’d read somewhere that women, especially hot women, found it a huge turn off when their boyfriend was shorter than them. Maybe that was why he didn’t get dates often…

“Whoa. Cindy. You look… You look…” he struggled to find the right word without coming across as too full on already. “Tall… Different…” Those were pretty vague compliments, which you could potentially take the wrong way. He had to try better than that with his words. “I mean… You look good. No… Not good. I mean you do look good, but I mean better than good. You look great, Cindy! Wonderful! Like a model!”

The waitress ushered the tall couple past them, doing a double take at the sight of Cindy. “Oh my gosh! I missed you stood by the sign! Just give me a minute or two!”

She bustled off with the other guests, still failing to acknowledge Reed.

Jeez!” he muttered bitterly to Cindy. “Since when did I turn invisible?”
 

Cindy Moon

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Cindy hadn't even intended to fake Max out. Somehow, she accidentally played a prank on him. It caused her to huff a laugh as she waited for him to figure out where she was, exactly. Still, she wasn't ready for his reaction once he did.

At first, he just gave a few... odd compliments. She hadn't even really thought about the fact that she was taller than him in heels. She'd gotten pretty used to looking at the tops of people's heads while swinging through the city, and so the compliment of being tall felt especially out of left field.

Once he followed it up with actual compliments, she couldn't help but turn slightly red. She felt good in such a nice dress, but hearing it confirmed was definitely an ego-boost if ever there was one. Unfortunately, she couldn't really say thank you or anything, thanks to the little problem with her voice.

The waitress seemed to have had an issue even realizing Max was there at first, and apologized for the delay. Cindy almost spoke up at that, but quickly caught herself. Instead, she gave a lopsided grin and shrugged. This night was already proving to be an issue.

 
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Max Reed

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Cindy didn’t say a freaking word to him, which had him scrunching his eyebrows up in a frown. Had he said something wrong? Was it ‘cos he’d made that stupid tall comment?

He opened his mouth, about to ask her if everything was okay when the waitress hustled back to them, smiling briskly. Or more accurately, she hustled back to Cindy.

“Table for one?” the waitress asked her.

Two,” Reed slipped in sharply, waving two of his fingers in front of her face.

She made eye contact with him, hallelujah, scowling as though a hobo clutching a glass bottle had staggered into the restaurant. Her voice carried the same degree of disdain: “Of course.”

Jeez! The waitress didn’t want to serve him, Cindy didn’t want to speak to him. What’d he done to piss off the opposite sex tonight? Had somebody taped a sign to his back, saying I hate women?

Reed discreetly explored his back with his hands, while the waitress led them to a table on the other side of the room. She handed Cindy a leather bound menu, then kind of flicked another in his general direction, before scurrying off to give them time to check out the options.

He went through the drinks list first, struggling not to grimace at the prices. Sheesh. They were almost as bad as his medication. “Hey, Cindy. You wanna share a bottle of wine?”
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy wasn't completely oblivious, and definitely not stupid. It was pretty clear that refusing to talk was a bit weird, and probably off-putting. Unfortunately, Pandora liked to make things weird, and complicated, so she was a bit stuck.

The waitress popped back up, treating Max like he was unwanted, which caused Cindy to frown and almost start talking. There was some seriously biased treatment going on here, and she didn't really get why. Was it the mustache? She kinda liked it, so she couldn't guess what the waitress's deal was.

At least they were eventually shown to a table, and given a chance to peruse the menu items. She wasn't exactly swimming in money, but she lived pretty frugally on her paycheck, so she figured splitting the bill would work out fine.

Once Max spoke up to her again, she grimaced slightly, deciding to get it over with. Sighing, she pulled out her notebook and handed it over to Max, showing the paper she'd prepared. I'm sorry, but I can't really speak today. The best I can do is write things down.

 
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Max Reed

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Eureka. He’d found the perfect wine on the list. It wasn’t eye-wateringly expensive, nor was it exactly cheap, so he wouldn’t look too much like a freaking skinflint to Cindy.

She ignored his question, handing him her notebook instead. What the heck? She was a little overeager to show him her notes on the Red Death investigation. He’d thought that they could eat and drink first, talk about their lives awhile and then get to-

He actually read the notebook, which cured his confusion, but then made him confused in a completely different way. Can’t really speak today? Again… What the heck?

“Aww. Crap,” he said. “Are you sick? Sore throat? Y’know my mom used to swear by gargling with honey and lemon. I’ve never tried it myself ‘cos I’ve always hated the smell of honey and-”

Jeez. He was starting to babble about pointless trash. She probably wasn’t in the mood to hear it if she was ill. She probably wasn’t in the mood to go on a date tonight…

“We can just go if it’s that bad,” he offered quietly, fighting - and failing - to hide the disappointment in his voice. Freaking typical. His dates always ended disastrously.
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy bit her lower lip uncomfortably as Max started to ask about the issue. She knew he probably wouldn't be too weirded out (giant bug man vs. speaking backwards? Pot, meet kettle) but it still made her feel a little self-conscious to even admit.

Slowly, she grabbed the notebook again and turned the page, so he could read the next message. This is kind of weird so just don't freak out. Maybe not the best way to phrase it, but even writing it down, she'd kind of panicked.

"driew yllaer ,dias I ekil ,haey ,oS," she said, sounding like a tape played in reverse, ".aedi ym t'nsaw ti"

 
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Max Reed

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She showed him another page in her notebook, the message causing him to frown. His expression only deepened when she began to speak in… What the heck?

He was silent a long beat, staring open mouthed at Cindy long after she’d spoken to him. This was incredible. Beyond belief. He would never look at her the same way again.

The waitress swooped back to their table, asking them if they’d had enough time to pick out their meals. Reed got his revenge by ignoring her. This revelation about Cindy was far more important than freaking braised pork loin or warm goat cheese and grilled vegetable salad.

He licked his dry lips, then asked Cindy in a low, awed voice: “You can speak French?”

Or had that been German?
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy took a deep breath and waited. How Max reacted would decide how the rest of her day was going to go. It was, after all, pretty weird, and made the potential rest of the date awkward. Well, more awkward, but s-

There was a brief pause as Cindy processed Max's question. French? He wondered if she could speak French?!

After that, she started to laugh. Of course. Of course it'd turn out this way. French.

"xaM, xaM," she wheezed as she tried to control her immediate reaction. She didn't even care that some people were giving her odd looks. French.

 
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Max Reed

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Cindy started to laugh at him, heat spreading up the side of his neck. He must’ve got the language wrong and now she thought he was a freaking moron. That was just great.

“I meant German,” he mumbled stiffly. “Spanish?”

“Is your name Max?” the waitress cut in sharply, hands on her hips.

“Well… Yeah…” Reed twisted in his seat, giving her a wide-eyed look. How did she know his name? Was this why she’d ignored him earlier? “Um. Do I know you?”

The waitress huffed out a sigh, rolling her eyes and giving a despairing shake of her head. “Xam… She’s speaking backwards. My mother was French, you dick!”
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy slowly got herself under control as the annoyed waitress corrected Max's extreme misunderstanding. He was in the Department of Intelligence and thought she was speaking another language.

",hcnerF gnikaeps saw I fi detalsnart neeb ev'dluow ti erus ytterP" she pointed out before pulling her notebook back and writing, "I'd just like a water" for the waitress. She hoped the distraction would get the heat off of Max.

 
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Max Reed

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“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Water,” Reed dismissed the waitress, shooing her away distractedly. He would order something better, like wine, once he’d spoken to Cindy in private.

“So rude,” the waitress huffed quietly, bustling from the table on clapping high heels. It wouldn’t surprise him in the slightest if she scooped his water out of the freaking toilet.

“What’s wrong, Cindy?” he asked, pitching his voice low in case any of their neighbors were eavesdropping on the conversation. “Why’re you speaking backwards? Did you hit your head?”

He’d once seen a documentary on head trauma. Apparently a good hard blow could get you speaking a foreign language or in a different accent. Freaking crazy.
 
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Cindy Moon

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With the waitress dismissed, the conversation turned more serious, which caused Cindy to huff a little. She wasn't annoyed that Max was trying to get to the bottom of things, but it did make her feel a little more self-conscious.

At least she'd anticipated this question as well, so she just needed to flip to the page that read, "Apparently, this kind of thing is happening to quite a few people. Not exactly what I'm going through, but weird magic pranks or something that started around Halloween."

 
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Max Reed

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Reed read her notebook, responding with a loud aww, crap, which had some of the couples at the closer tables scowling over at them. He was glad the waitress hadn’t come back with his toilet water yet. She’d probably use any excuse to kick him out of the freaking restaurant.

“Have you spoken to any of the other people who’ve had weird things happen to them?” he asked, pitching his voice low. “Did any of them go back to normal? Not that I'm saying you aren't normal. That you're weird or a freak or something. I just mean you've been put in a situation that isn't normal."

Was this the whole panties incident again? Had he blown things with his stupid bumbling mouth?

He gave her a pained look, reaching out to gently squeeze her arm. "If there's any way I can help…"
 
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Cindy Moon

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If Cindy hadn't already known Max by that point, she'd probably be concerned about how quickly he went from trying to ask questions to worrying about insulting her. By that point, she just saw it as a quirk and didn't even blink. All she did was smile slightly as she started writing again.

When he squeezed her arm, she did pause slightly, glancing up in surprise then back down to hide the blush forming. He might've been a little high-strung at times, but at least he could be really sweet when he wanted to be.

Clearing her throat, she turned the page over so he could read it. "Haven't exactly talked to them, but I've given a few people my contact information. They'd let me know if they were feeling better. Best we can tell, none of us did anything in particular. Some people celebrated Halloween, some people stayed home."

 
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Max Reed

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She glanced up when he squeezed her arm, color in her face. He withdrew his hand hastily, feeling warmth rising up his neck. Shoot. Had he come on too strong?

Reed thought about apologizing profusely, but it was at that point she showed him what she’d written in her notebook. He read it a couple times, trying to think of ways to help Cindy.

Weird. Maybe I could get a case going at the DoI?” he suggested, rubbing a hand across his mustache thoughtfully. “It isn’t a life and death situation, but it’s still darn inconvenient. I bet you’ve had a rough few days, huh? You must feel pretty frustrated and lonely.”

He winced in sympathy, remembering how isolated he’d felt back when he’d been trapped in the shape of a hideous giant bug. It would’ve sucked so much worse if he hadn’t been able to talk. By talking to people - like Cindy the first time they’d met - they had been able to see past his ugly exterior and discover that he was an all right guy… A swell guy even!
 
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Cindy Moon

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It was a good thing Cindy was a fast writer. It was awkward enough that she couldn't speak, having to pause for a lengthy amount of time to write her answers would just make things even worse. As it was, she was able to show him another page fairly quickly.

"I don't want to distract from whatever you're doing now. I'm sure you have actual issues to deal with. If this doesn't clear up soon, I have some ideas about where to check. I'm just trying to see if this might just stop on its own soon."

 
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Max Reed

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He frowned at what she’d written in her notebook, shrugging his shoulders with reluctant acceptance. “Well, all right. But don’t hesitate to let me know if I can help in any way.”

Reed looked her directly in the eye, smiling with genuine warmth and affection.

Course the waitress had to go and ruin the freaking moment by stepping up to their table, setting down the two glasses of water. He was amazed that she didn’t spill any on him, then pretend it was an accident. The water in his glass also looked clean, unless it was really a cleverly disguised poison.

“Are you ready to order?” the waitress asked them, smiling brightly at Cindy.
 
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Cindy Moon

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Cindy's smile turned fond at Max's request. He might've been a bit of a goof, but he also had a pretty big heart. Even if he was a bit silly at times, he was really sweet when it got down to it. She enjoyed having a friend who was good at both.

When the waitress came back with the waters and asked for her order. She held up her menu and pointed out a fairly priced meal that sounded good.

 
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