Angie had just gotten a fresh t-shirt and blue jeans on after her UV shower when she heard Clair's identicard click the door of their shared dorm room.
"Merrie! You're back!" The door flew open, just as Angie was reaching for the knob. She easily moved her hand out of the way, but the corner of the metal draft stopper dug into her right foot.
"Oh! Merrie, I'm so sorry!"
"It's okay. And, I'm going to change my name. What you do think about 'Angela'?" They hugged, then both looked at the open gash. It was almost three inches long, and appeared deep. Blood pooled in the cut, then trickled down the side.
The other girl nodded, her blue school uniform blazer rustling against the starched white shirt. "I don't know. I guess so. I mean, 'a rose by any other name,' and all that. Almost anything's better than Merrie, I think. But we should stop the bleeding so it doesn't mess up the carpet."
"There's a towel in the bathroom. I just finished misting and veeing. And why not Merrie?" She crouched down and pressed on the wound.
"Well, you're always so quiet. I mean, you're kinda the opposite of 'Merry'. And I think calling you 'Death' is ... well, kinda pretentious." Clair returned with the towel and started sopping up the blood. They both giggled.
"Well, I am from Sanction, y'know." The laughed more.
"You know what? It was weird having you gone for so long." Clair looked at the carpet, then stopped trying to clean it. "Your missions are usually a week or two, three maybe."
"A lot of it spent traveling, too. It was strange pretending to be somebody for so long, at least at first. I mean, I guess you're okay with it, because you're Infil and all."
"I know, I know! And, it's actually kind of fun. It's like playing make-believe again." She tossed the towel at the hamper and missed.
"After I got kinda used to it, it was fun." Angie rolled on her back, both hands still wrapped around her foot. "Do you actually remember playing make-believe?"
"Hey, that's kind of smart, Angela." Clair made a face. "No, you're not an Angela. Angie, maybe."
"Putting the cut above the heart. That'll help slow the blood loss."
"I got bored looking at the carpet. Where did you learn about slowing the blood loss? And I really wanna know - do you remember playing make-believe as a kid?"
"Of course not! You know that. But when I'm Out, I have to pretend to, same as you. I mean, in Globalization class we did play it, but it's really, really stupid. No wonder Outsiders outgrow it. And that," she waved her hand up and down, "heart and blood thing is First Aid, also from Globe class."
"First Aid, huh? All that Socialization class taught me was to say I didn't know First Aid. I think I didn't learn it because I'm in Sanction. Some Globe and Loc classes probably would have helped during this mission."
"Depends. Can you tell me where ... oh, never mind. How about this - you don't speak any other languages, do you? So they must have put you in a place where they talk English. That means you didn't need Localization at all, and probably not a lot of Globalization, either."
"I'm sorry, but Operational Security protocols prevent me from answering that question." Angie recited it in a steady monotone, but all the while nodding.
Clair giggled more and shook her head. "How's the foot?"
Angie relaxed her hands slightly, and a drop of blood landed on her forehead. "Nope. Still bleeding. Hey, can you get me the towel?"
"Oh, all right." With an exaggerated sigh, Clair turned back to the bathroom. She returned with a wet towel and dabbed away the blood. Then, they sat in silence for a while. "If you want to try learning Globe stuff, you can try my sleep mask sometime. I have some Globe and Loc ROMs checked out from the library."
It was Angie's turn to grimace. "I like books, not ROMs. I don't know why. I just do."
"Whatever. It's there if you want it. I just got done with mid-years, so I won't touch it for a while. Oh! A bunch of us are going to Faketown to celebrate. Want to come?"
Gingerly, Angie released her foot again. This time, nothing dripped. The slash was filled with red, thick, coagulated blood. "Can you wait half an hour? I don't want it to open up again and ruin my socks."
"Sure. I'll text them to start without me."
"Thanks. Hey, hand me the towel."
In a sing-song voice, Angie answered, "Because." Still laying face-up on the carpet, she closed her eyes and flung the towel into the hamper. Their laughter filled the room.