#24: Get Yours!

With Whitley now leaving early for volleyball practice several days a week, Alicia found herself minus a jogging partner more often than not. She began her day with weight training followed by her morning selfie, saving her jog for the several morning errands on her to-do list. Alicia scrolled through her recent Instagrams—she'd posted her back and shoulders, full body shots, legs, butt, chest, forearms, and plenty of biceps. Krysta had taken a bunch of her abs earlier that week, but Alicia ended up posting a Vine of her pretending to struggle with the weight instead—which had been a hit. She went simple today, changing into her black jogging shorts and an AnimeExpo tank top then headed into the bathroom. Taking her position in front of the mirror, Alicia lifted her shirt to display her abs, which were at their best in the morning (she avoided eating after 7 pm if she could help it), though it had taken multiple tries to get the shot since she was picky about lighting.

Absy absy absy absy absy absy abs. #igotnuthin #abs #morningselfie #goodmorning

She was not, however, one to over-think captions.

Alicia jogged her preferred route to campus, which took her through the neighborhood and off the busy Empire Street. She entered the south end of campus, navigating around the trees to the metal shop behind the science building, where she'd enlisted her friend Julian to cut two nine-foot steel fence poles into six pieces. Julian knew Alicia from college and had offered his help in exchange for her handling the hand-stitching for his state alchemist cosplay. He also lived and breathed anime and had not a shred of social life outside of it. He was, however, a fan of Alicia both as a cosplayer as well as from Alicia's two-year stint as NU Anime Club President, before dropping after her sophomore year.

"Thank you, Julian!" Alicia yelled, over the sound of the table saw.

Julian turned around and offered a nervous wave. He mumbled something from behind his mask, and Alicia, not remotely hearing him, only nodded and smiled. He watched as Alicia effortlessly loaded the bars into a leather sack which she tossed over one shoulder, her powerful arms handling the bag of metal as if it contained shredded paper. She left through the rear door, where she could cut behind facilities and avoid the bustling main campus quad.

Alicia jogged several blocks, cutting across to Empire Street to the post office. She unpacked ten sealed envelopes containing signed cosplay prints for her fan art contest winners, three of which were international. Fanning the envelopes out, she took a quick selfie of herself holding them in front of the mailbox (being careful to obscure the addresses, of course). A woman nearby huffed and shook her head with apparent displeasure, though Alicia was not sure whether it was due to her taking candid photos in the post office, her physique, or her clothing. Regardless, she ignored the woman and finished her post.

Contest winners...your photos are on the way! #mailtime #prizes #wootwoot

Alicia double-checked the names and addresses of each against the list on her phone, tossed them in the mailbox, and snagged her bag of metal on her way out.

Next stop was the hardware store, where the manager greeted Alicia as she entered. Alicia returned his wave and setting her bag near the door. Well acquainted with the layout of the store, she quickly picked up refills for her hot glue gun, razor blades for her craft knife, and black matte spray paint for her gun build. There was a new employee at the register she hadn't seen before, who initially smiled at Alicia until he noticed her arms. Alicia let him stare as she placed her items on the conveyor belt, then rotated her shoulders and stretched her arms out until her elbows cracked. The cashier's eyebrows shot up to his hairline, and Alicia took notice.

"It's warm for this far into Fall, huh? I'm not ready to wear sweaters yet."

"Yeah, I see," he said, finally making eye contact again.

"I'm a regular. Are you new?"

"I'm Fred, a transfer student at NU." He pointed at Alicia's arms. "You lift?"

"I sure do!"

"Me too. What do you bench?"

"Two-twenty-five."

Fred blinked several times, struggling to comprehend what he'd heard. "Wait, like...pounds?"

"Certainly not tons!"

"Wow! That's an impressive max for a...um."

"Oh, that's not my max. That's reps. I don't know my max." Despite her obsession with numbers, Alicia's preference for the home gym meant she hadn't checked her max since a year ago when she'd benched three-twenty-five while on a trip home with her brother Scottie spotting her.

The cashier laughed. "You're kidding."

"I'm not."

The cashier laughed again, before noticing her flat expression. "Hey, I'm not making fun of you."

Alicia inserted her card in the reader. "You think I'm lying. It's okay, though."

"I...I didn't say you were lying. I mean, looking at your...um...I just—"

"Don't believe me. That's cool. I don't believe you either."

"Don't believe what?"

"That you lift." She barely suppressed a snicker as she tugged the receipt away from the shocked cashier, who only gaped at her as she turned away. She added her purchases to her bag near the door, giving a finger wave over her shoulder to the manager on her way out.

Alicia arrived at home around noon as the mailman was driving away. He'd left a box on the porch which she figured was the fabric needed to get started on the coat for her Milly Thompson cosplay. Now that she had her wood, steel, and worbla, she could get cracking on building Milly's stun gun. Underneath Milly's signature trench coat, she decided to go with a white short-sleeve blouse, giving her the option to whip the outer layer and show off her (other) guns for pictures. She still had not decided whether she would wear a wig or have Krysta's stylist dye hair brown—she'd wanted an excuse to do so for a while.

A naughty giggle sound emanated from her phone, and she pulled it out and checked the screen.

Where are you? I just got here. No one's home.

Alicia texted back.

omw. hang out on the porch. how much time you got?

Alicia jaywalked across Empire Street, picking up her pace. Her phone giggled again.

An hour. I gotta prep a soundstage for a shoot later.

Alicia smiled.

Be there in 5. You best get ready.

She received her reply seconds later.

Will do.

Alicia tugged the drawstring on the leather bag holding the steel pipes and adjusted it so the strap crossed her body. The pipes clanged together as she set into a brisk jog, whistling all the way home.

Alicia emerged from the basement to make lunch and was surprised to find both Whitley and Krysta at the kitchen table. Krysta typed on her laptop, and Whitley smoked a marijuana vape pen while rotating two apples in her other hand. Krysta whirled around to face Alicia.

"Alicia, put yourself into the minds of one of my fans."

"Done."

"Would you watch a series of videos entitled 'Boob Trivia,' where I address boob-related questions from the readers?"

"Your boobs or boobs in general?"

"Yes."

"Either way, yes. How are you not doing that already?"

"I do reader requests. I am thinking of digging a little into the science more, all the while, of course, touching and handling them as much as possible. Things like 'how much do boobs weigh?', 'how many joules of energy do bouncing boobs create?' and some straightforward stuff like 'how cleavage works.' I like to think even women might find this interesting."

"What brought this on?"

"I need something suitably tame for a YouTube channel. I am missing that entire market."

"What would you call it?"

"Not sure yet. Maybe "Boob Trivia"?

"That's boring! Can you call it 'Mythboobsters'?"

"I was thinking 'ask my boobs,'" Whitley interjected, taking another long draw from her pen.

"Titty Talk?"

"Fireside chest!" Whitley croaked, holding her breath.

"Okay!" Krysta shouted, holding her hand up. "I will hold off on the name. I can at least start filming them in the meantime. Thanks, you two, for your invaluable input." Krysta grabbed her bag. "I have to head out. Percy's squeezing me in on a soundstage for a quick video shoot and this has to go up next week."

"Tell him 'hi' for me!" Alicia shouted.

"I will not. See you two later." Krysta headed out the back door.

Alicia dug reached into the fridge and pulled out a package of chicken breasts which she dropped onto the counter with a thunk. "Hey, you cool with fajitas for dinner?"

Whitley nodded and finally exhaled the hit she'd been holding in. "There's that 'Percy' name again. When am I going to meet this social staple of your lives?"

"He works AV for Athletics." Alicia dropped some pre-chopped onions and peppers into her expensive Cuisinart food processor. It exploded to life, briefly filling the kitchen with sound. "I don't know how you haven't run into him yet."

"I haven't met that many people outside the volleyball team."

Alicia dumped the onions and peppers into the skillet where they began simmering in hot oil. She noticed Whitley studying her with a goofy grin. "What?" she asked.

"So, you two do it in the basement now?"

"Me and Percy?"

Whitley chuckled. "Obviously not you and Krysta."

"We do fitness training three times a week down there. You can totally join in if you want."

"Yeah, no. I'm talking about you and your man friend gettin' freaky in the basement."

"You were here?"

"Yeah. I was taking an after-practice nap upstairs, and I could totally hear you all the way from my room. It travels right up from that vent."

Alicia seemed less embarrassed and more curious. "Yesterday or today?"

"Today, a couple hours ago. Did you guys hit it yesterday too?"

"No, just today."

"Then why did you—"

"Don't worry about it. Yeah, I didn't realize you were home."

"It's no problem. Get yours, girl!" Whitley gave Alicia an approving nod. Alicia smiled back, still managing to cook while paying half attention to what she was doing. "So 'Percy' again, huh? I have got to meet this guy. What's he like?"

"He's way cool! He's great with AV stuff. He has two cats. He was a grad assistant, but they liked him so much they found a job for him straddling Athletics, events, and AV," Alicia continued to rattle off a list of seemingly arbitrary details, none actually telling Whitley much about him, almost as if she hadn't understood the nature of the question. Whitley was no gossip, but she couldn't help but be curious about meeting the guy who would sleep with a girl like Alicia—and yes, she realized the hypocrisy.

"...he got a new car a year ago, which was a HUGE step up from his old one, I wanna' say he majored in...music? He probably owns more shoes than you, and—hm, what else?"

Whitley took another long draw on her vape pen. "Does your brain contain any useful, practical, inf—"

"I know he dated Krysta for a while."

It would take Whitley several minutes to recover from her subsequent coughing fit.