Chapter 5Mature

Trying not to think too much on it, Alex re-dressed the bites, holding off on wrapping the one on his arm with an elastic bandage. Slipping his T-shirt back on, as before, none of his handiwork was visible. Dumping the used dressings outside in the garbage bin, he breathed a sigh of relief and went back to playing with Bailey for a while.

As Alex sat down in the grass to pet him, Bailey climbed over his legs, shoving his muzzle close to his owner’s arm. Letting his pet sniff him for a minute, Alex held him back when he began to lap at his skin like he was trying to tend to him.

“Hey. Bailey, no.” Alex said, his delivery stern as he pushed his dog’s massive head back. Even when he got him to sit, it was clear Bailey wasn’t giving up on the idea. Something that struck Alex as unusual, given how many times before Bailey had seen him bleeding or patched up. “I’m OK, boy. Thanks, though.” Rubbing his pet’s head, he brought him back inside and spent the rest of the time until Nathan arrived playing on his XBOX. As he did, he had to wonder if Bailey knew something was wrong with him.

“Where are we meeting them once we get there?” Nathan asked as he put his car into reverse.

“Inside the shopping district. Barnes and Nobel.” Alex replied before he got his helmet on. Waving goodbye to his mother who had come outside to greet Nathan, the two then set out for First Colony.

The area around the mall and the shopping district was heavily packed for mid-day Saturday, but the multitude of fresh scents from the restaurants made him feel hungry, getting the group of four to agree on the food court as their first stop.

As they sat indulging in their meals, with plenty of small talk to share, several suggestions for later activities started to come up. Catherine brought up a playable version of Dance Central that wasn't being played in one of the stores they passed, which Nathan said he would challenge her to once they were done eating. Alex suggested doing some walking around First Colony once the sun went down, while Marcus pointed out some new books he wanted to check out.

With their next stop being the demo, Alex grew concerned when he saw how much flailing around there was of everyone's arms. Even so, with Catherine poking fun at him about being too unsure of himself, he took her up on a challenge. “Oh, c'mon.” she said when he put on some sunglasses. “I danced without those on. So can you.”

The End

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