Digital Love

                             M. Welles

Chapter One

Putting on only a little bit of eyeliner under my left eye, I looked at myself in the mirror. My face was on, and I smoothed out my button-up black shirt that was open over another shirt. Moving backwards, so that I could see more of myself, I grinned. Tying my shoelaces, and grabbing my wallet, I ran outside to the car where my mother was waiting. It's dorky, I know, that my mother still drives me places, but I don't have a license yet, so I really can't drive myself. It also seems dorky that fifteen year old boys would hang out at the mall on weekends, and that they wore eyeliner, but what can I say? I guess I'm a dork.

My friends and I like to go to the mall on the weekends, but not just the mall. We like to go into the video game store. It isn't so much what's in the video store that draws us there, it's more like... who's in the video game store that makes us go there. All of my friends are really smitten with this girl named Sarah who works there. She's blonde, really thin and wears really tight clothes... or something. To tell you the truth, I never really paid much attention to her. So, needless to say, I'm the only one who doesn't find Sarah irresistible.

My friends do not know this.

I go to the video game store for Sarah's co-worker. Although I've never gotten to talk to him, he's always there, and he's always working. I feel like such a stalker, because everyone flocks around Sarah, and I sort of stand in the distance and look at him. He's obviously really attractive, or else I wouldn't be so enamoured by him. I know every single inch of his body, he's sort of tall (taller than my stance at 5'6"), and thin, he's got dark hair that just barely brushes his back at one part while the rest sits naturally on his head, sometimes in his eyes. I started notice he had soft, semi-Japanese features. I was dying to find out where exactly he was from, but more importantly, I wanted to know his name. I bet he has a beautiful name, something enigmatic- much like himself. I don't think his name would be too hard, or too soft, not abrasive, but friendly.

But today was different; I was going to find out his name. And not just his name, I was going to get his e-mail address. Since we've determined I'm a dork already, asking for an e-mail address instead of a phone number may not surprise you. The only thing is, I'm a bit scared to stand within three feet from him, let alone have a conversation. Except today, I have an excuse to go into the store and talk to him- I actually need to buy something this time. A memory card, actually, and if there's anything I've learned from hanging out there so long, is that to get a memory card, you have to ask someone who works there for it. Sarah will be busy with my friends, John- the cashier- will be busy, and it'll leave me with that mysterious beauty that is always stocking shelves and hanging up signs. Today, he will be mine.

My thoughts and inward diabolical laughter were suddenly interrupted when my mother smiled as we stopped in front of the mall. I sort of feel bad for her; her only son is so obviously gay, wears eyeliner, listens to techno music and plays video games.

'Here, Davey, Davey, Davey…'

I turned around, putting a painted hand on my hip. The last think I wanted to do was put up with this. 'What do you want now, Doc?' I asked, feeling a smile form, as I saw my friend lying on a bench next to the brick section by a plastic elephant plant.

The Doctor walked- no, not walked, swaggered- over to me. He's probably the weirdest of all of my friends, and yet, I don't think he realises it. The Doc is one of those who thinks he's the most serious, normal guy in the world. His nickname's a bit silly, but it originates from when he first bought his infamous coat. One day, about three years ago when we all met in seventh grade, Chris (which is his real name) bought this long, white doctor's coat from the thrift store. After we all attacked it with markers, patches, safety pins, and anything else within our grasp, he wore the jacket everywhere. He's definitely a colourful character, and turns a lot of heads. Not because he's especially good looking, but if you saw a six foot kid wearing a ripped white coat and donning green hair and about five piercings- four on his face- you'd probably turn around, too.

'You seen those other idiots around here? I've been here for a while and I haven't seen any of their asses around here.' he asked as he stopped in front of me.

'Er, nope, just got here. So, what's up, Doc?'

'Well, my eyebrow ring is being so annoying. It's aggravating part of my skin or something, I dunno. Been tryin' to fix it all day,' he sighed, moving around my personal favourite piercing of his. Call me sentimental, but I was there when he got his eyebrow pierced last year, and I picked out said annoying ring. It's green, with little blue rubber spikes on it, and it glows in black lights.

'And we all thought here wasn't a job the good Doctor couldn't fix...' I shook my head, and grinned widely when I saw the rest of our friends marching up to us.

If there was one word to describe my friends, I think it would be "interesting". Of course, "interesting" is always the word polite people use when they really mean "weird". I don't have many friends outside our little group, and I'm perfectly fine with that. The five of us have been friends since seventh grade, when I moved here. First there's Pete, whose very show off-y, which leads to him being a tad bit annoying. He thinks he's a sex god or something. Not that we mind, because the girl at 7-11 has the hots for him, and we sometimes get free Slurpees. He's quite muscle bound and has bleached blonde hair and super tan skin. Pete's best friend is Ry, who made up the nickname because too many people have the name "Ryan". Ry's a pretty normal guy, but there's nothing wrong with that. The only thing I don't like about Ry is, he's always up Pete's ass and he's smarter than the rest of us. Lastly, is Thom, who is tied with Doc as my best friend. Sometimes I really don't care if Ry and Pete are around, because I'm happy being with the other two. Thom's quite a bit smaller than me and he's also a lot quieter than the rest of us. He comes second to Pete in a beauty competition, that's no doubt.

'Hello, all!' Pete yelled, jumping on the bench Doc was sitting on earlier, and striking a very Greek epic hero pose. There he was, at it again, with the egotism and narcissism we all knew and loved him for. 'Everyone ready to see our good lady Sarah?'

Everyone nodded excitedly, well, except me, until I remembered I was supposed to like her... It's not I don't like Sarah, she's really cool, but she's no.... Whatever that guy's name was.

The Gamer's Dungeon was a second store on the right down the corridor heading to the food court. In contrast to other stores, it was rather small. Four grey walls had stones painted on, and the floors were painted to look like wood. Two walls were filled with rows of shelves full of games and books, while a few televisions with video game systems hooked up were in the front. There were signs all over advertising the latest games, and there was always a group of kids playing Dungeons and Dragons outside the store sitting at a small circular table. Some people were afraid of the Dungeon, because of the way it looked, but at school, it was where all the "nerds" hung out.

As soon as we walked in, everyone made a beeline to Sarah, who was rolling a cart out of the storage room. Smiling, she dropped the handle that she was holding, and walked over to them. Pete ran a hand through his frosted hair, Thom blushed, Ry smiled a bit before saying "hello" and the Doctor was still preoccupied with his ring. Walking slightly over, I leaned against a shelf and grinned at Sarah. I'm glad she's used to me being so withdrawn, because she'd probably think I was being rude.

And that's when I saw him.

Walking through the door, it seemed like he was in slow motion. His black hair bounced on his head and he turned his head slightly to get the few strands in his eyes out, he was wearing a pair of seemingly tight fitting jeans (for a guy, anyway) and a blue button up shirt. Stopping, and putting his Styrofoam cup down at the desk, he looked at the discarded cart and Sarah ignoring said cart. Sighing, he rushed over and picked up the cart. Throwing the brown messenger bag he was wearing into the storage room, he glared at Sarah, who apologised, and led the cart over to the shelf. The one I was leaning against.

I could barely breath when he started lining games up in neat rows; he seemed to be muttering to himself about how Sarah never works. When he ran out of games to put on the shelves, he bent over to pick a rogue one in the box. Biting my lip, I accidentally leaned on the staircase on the shelf. The moving staircase on the shelf. Time seemed to lapse as I grabbed for the staircase, but it was too late. The metal row of steps slid down the track and hit the other boy.

'Uh, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to-' I started, clearly blushing and fidgeting with my hands.

'Oh, it's okay, they don't hurt,' he used the shelf as support and got up, grinning at me. 'I didn't see you there, you need any help with anything?'

'Nope. Nope, no help, thanks though...' I muttered, looking down at the floor. My bravado from earlier dwindled as he nodded, smiled again, and continued stacking the shelves.

Sighing, the phrase 'stupid, stupid, stupid' kept running through my head, until I realised something. I actually did need help. I needed a memory card. But then that guy would think I was stupid... Plotting out my actions carefully, I decided that I'd wait a while, and then ask him really nonchalantly. If that was possible. Hiding behind a shelf full of cheat books, I kept looking up at him. John must be gone today, because the man I deemed "that hot guy who works at Gamer's Dungeon" was leaning against the desk, sipping his drink and looking bored.

At first, I didn't think he noticed me staring at him, like I had done so many times in the past. He was playfully stirring his drink with the straw, smiling, and staring out in space, thinking about Gods know what. Then he looked at me. He looked up, and saw me staring at him from the other side of the room. It only took a few seconds, but I still silently freaked out. Our eyes met for about a half a second before he smiled and looked back down out at his cup.

Feeling myself blush again, I had this weird feeling someone was looking at me. Turning slightly, I saw the Doctor, who was indeed looking at me. Looking at me with a curious grin. Licking his lip ring, he walked over and stood against the shelf for a minute, not saying a word.

'So... How's the weather, Davey. How is the weather?' he asked.

'What the fuck?' I stared at him for a second. This was not what I was bracing myself for him to ask

'I think this is too funny,' he laughed.

'What's too funny?'

'Hm. What was that we just had here?' Doc asked, looking down at me and grinning. 'Did I see flirty-stalker eye contact with workaholic Katashi a minute ago, proceeding with nervous flushing of the face by said flirty-stalker?'

'Why must you be so difficult?' I spat, watching his playful grin. It was almost demonic.

'Davey likes Katashi, Davey likes Katashi!' he chanted under his breath, still looking straight ahead.

'Do not.'

'Uh-huh, yes you do.' I opened my mouth for a rebuttal, but he cut me off with, 'Okay, if you don't like Katashi over there, how come you're always so eager to come here with us? Especially since you never buy anything, and you never talk to Sarah. It's not like you wanna hang out with us, 'cause you see us everyday. So, I'm thinkin', Davey likes Katashi!' That could've been a serious statement, if not for the childish banter towards the end.

'Shut up, Chris...' His smile got bigger somehow. I must be blushing. Damn it. I'd retaliate, but it looks like I lost all ready. 'His name's Katashi?'

'A-ha! I'm taking that as a surrender.' He watched my annoyed look, and glanced at our friends, Katashi and back at me. 'You know... it doesn't matter that you like Katashi... or people like Katashi. It's not like you're-'

'Not like I'm what? And what do you mean by "people like Katashi"?' I felt myself get a bit angry, especially because I was afraid I actually knew what he was implying.

'You're... How can I put this delicately? You're as camp as a row of tents, Davey.'

'Gee, never let it be said you have no tact.' I snorted. 'Okay, okay, maybe I like Katashi... That's not illegal last time I checked. I can like Katashi all I want to! If he doesn't want pervy fifteen year olds staring at him at work, he shouldn't be so hot then!' I panted, feeling my face turn red, as I saw the Doctor's eyes widen.

'Dude-' He looked over at Katashi, who was staring at them, eyebrows raised. 'He's rehearsing a play. Sorry! We'll keep it down!' Doc told the scared young man, as he nodded slowly and went back to drinking his soda. 'You dumbass.'

'I didn't notice I was being so loud...' I rubbed the back of my head nervously.

'I can't believe you didn't know his name.' The Doctor shook his head, dismally.


'Well, we've only been coming here nearly every weekend for about year. Katashi's always working. I'm just a little surprised you never found out his name. He's always yelling at Sarah about something. Okay, he never yells, but you know how she's sorta scatterbrained an' all. Just thought it was weird you never asked or anything.' I shrugged. 'You've never talked to him, have you?'

'Well, a second ago...'

He looked shocked. 'You're talking. Now, you're going to fucking go talk to Katashi. Now.'

'I don't have anything to say!' I snapped, as the Doctor got behind me and started pushing me towards the desk. 'I don't- Oh, hello!' I gasped, as I ran into the desk.

'Hi, Davey,' Katashi grinned down at me, putting his drink aside. 'Anything I can do for you?'

Loads. 'How'd you know my name?' I spat. 'Er, that sounded rude, sorry, just wondering...'

He laughed, 'How can I not? You and your friends practically live here...' He grinned slightly, flipping his dark hair a bit.

'Your hair, it's got red in it...' I squinted closely. The wing-like ends were dyed a reddish colour. It looked hot. Very sexy indeed. 'I mean, I never noticed before.'

'Oh, yeah, I just got it done a few weeks ago,' Katashi shrugged, running his hands through his hair.

'You look good,' I told him, before fully realising any implications of what I said.

And evidently, neither did Katashi, because he started to thank me, then I noticed him turning a bit red. Laughing a little at the new topic he had brought up (which one of my friends Sarah liked better), I couldn't help but notice my good fortune. Not only we were having a conversation, he seemed to like me. At first I didn't think it was in any way other than platonic, I sorta had to regard that blush. You don't always blush when someone tells you you're attractive, especially someone that attractive. I imagine he hears it all the time.

'So, where do you go to school?'

'Uh, what? Oh, school. Yeah...' Shit. I have to actually think about where I go to school. My brain's stalling. Stop thinking about gorgeous Japanese boy, start thinking about school. School, black hair, prison, thin fingers, lockers, perfect smile, hell hole... Ooh. That rung a bell, okay, 'Cox. I go to Cox High School. It's across the street, uh, yeah.' I nodded, and inwardly kicked myself.

'Oh, really? Cool. I went there. Do you have Mrs. Feeble?' he asked, looking interested. He bent over slightly to throw away his drink, and I bet my lip. When he got up, he smiled and started looking for something.

'No, I don't. I think Pete over there does, but I don't.' I looked nervously at him, he was twirling a pen with his fingers- why I find this seductive, I'll never know- and his eyes widened as he found a scrap piece of paper.

'Hmm. Lucky you. She was a mean old bitch. Do you do anything… extracurricular-ly?' he asked, not looking up from the paper he was scribbling on.

I snorted, 'Like, sports? No. I do theatre, though. I never really get cast- not for musicals anyway; my voice's too high for the male parts, and too low for the girl's parts. You laugh now, but they tried making me Roxie Hart last year. I started out as doing tech. I'm the only guy doing Make-Up, but whatever. Jenna, who's the chair, is graduating this year, so I might take over for her. That should be fun. You know what they say, us techies do it in the dark...' I laughed nervously, but relaxed as I saw Katashi blush a little bit before continuing to write. 'I really want to be chair, though. I'm only a sophomore, but I think they'll let me-'

'Wait. How old are you?' He immediately stopped writing, and his eyes widened. He had really pretty eyes. They were brown with little specks of gold. Damn, if I could stare into those all day...

'Er, fifteen, why?' I'm really confused at this point. Why does it matter how old I am? He seems like I just told him all the things I wish I could do to him or something.

'Oh,' he grimaced a little as felt around the desk for his piece of paper. Crumpling it up, he half-smiled. If I'd have known better, he seemed a little disappointed.

'So...' I started; I was feeling a bit awkward. It's like he's mad at me, or something.

'Fifteen...The first guy in, I dunno how long...' He muttered, leaned on his desk, dazing off into space again.

'Uh, what?' I glanced over nervously to see the Doc staring at me, and Sarah looking distressed with all the groupies around. Dear Gods, tell me Pete isn't flexing for her...

'Nothing...' He sighed a little, and it was quiet for a while. It seemed like hours before Pete, Thom, Ry, and the Doctor walked towards me, ready to go.

'Wait,' I told Thom, who was pointing towards the door. 'Hey, Katashi?' I asked, as Thom shrugged and followed the other three outside. Not only were they gone, all the other customers were, too, and it left Katashi, Sarah who was in the storage room, and me

'Yes, Davey?' He looked up, seeming a bit perkier.

'I was wondering...' Faltering, I decided against asking for his email address. I obviously did something to make him upset, and I remembered why I went over to talk to him in the first place. 'Could you get me a memory card?'

His cheery attitude seemed to dissolve as he sighed and pulled a key off his desk. Opening one of the cabinets behind him, he took a memory card out, and started ringing it up. He stalled for a moment, glancing down at the card and then resumed 'That'll be twenty-seven eighty,' he told me, grabbing a bag and putting the card in it. After paying him the money, he ripped the receipt out of the machine and slipped it in the bag. 'Thanks for coming to the Gamer's Dungeon and I'll see you later...' He almost seemed robotic when he said these words, and something inside of me felt really bad. I wonder why he's so upset. I didn't do anything wrong, right? And he seemed to like me, right? I guess not... That was my first chance and I totally ruined it. Good going, Davey-boy. You really are just a stalker.

'Bye Katashi...' I waved dismally, and smiling slightly. Walking out the door, I saw everyone waiting for me. Taking my memory card out of the bag, I noticed a small, white, crumpled piece of paper fall out of it. Bending down to pick it up, I realised it must've been what Katashi had been writing earlier.

"I feel stupid for doing this, just ignore what I said earlier. Call me? ^^;; 789-6543 [email protected]

-Katashi Ando"

Feeling my face reddening, I noticed I was also grinning like an idiot. The Doctor looked over at me, and walked over. Looking at the paper, he smiled and gave me a high five. Katashi gave me his email address... and his phone number. Without me even asking. That means Katashi might actually like me...

My problem now isn't what to do if he doesn't; it's what to do if he does.