Johnny finished packing his final box, on the top of it was his 'ROR' sweater that he had kept since his time at Monsters University and he wondered if his university sweetheart, who had been a member of the 'Python Nu Kappa' (or PNK) house, had also kept hers and for a brief moment he wondered if it would be sweet to both wear them while enjoying some take out in their new house together. Johnny and Heather were moving in together, they had both gotten respectable jobs, Heather was now a scarer for 'Stair Scare' an energy company that rivals 'Monsters Incorporated' and Johnny worked as a lecturer at the university, where he had once studied. He was now embarking on his new job of teaching all the first year scare students the basics. Walking into the building on his first day only a few weeks ago had brought back a huge sense of nostalgia and regret, he wished he had been a different monster back then, maybe one less driven by peer pressure and street credibility but now he was determined to try and let his previous life aid him in helping his new students.He came back to reality as he heard the padding of light footsteps enter the living room, with a smile he grinned towards his flatmate “Are you gonna miss me bro?” Randall was blinking while he looked around their living room which now devoid of half of its usual clutter, he playfully sneered, “you wish” and smiled.Johnny and Randall had been flatmates since graduation, they had both gone for scare jobs at Monsters Incorporated but Johnny had been unsuccessful, going up against Randall he could only assume that his flatmates camouflage gave the sly monster the upper edge. At first Johnny had felt betrayal and jealousy toward the purple lizard, but on reflection he was happy for his flatmate and friend. “I can't believe you two are finally moving in together, I mean you, Johnny, settling down...” Randall shook his head mockingly and his eyes narrowed as the reality started to sink in.Johnny laughed, “I swear dude, me and Heather making this decision is not one we made lightly,” Johnny's smile didn't leave as his gaze fell too the floor. It was clear he was excited, grateful for the life he had ahead.“Well keep in touch, yeah?” Randall shrugged, refusing to let their eyes meet. Deep down, he was sad to be saying farewell to his longest, and only friend. Johnny looked at his flatmate, his head was slumped down with his gaze at the floor and deep down under his own excitement, he felt a pang of sadness, “come here,” he roared, bounding towards Randall.Randall didn't get chance to react before he was locked in a full bear-hug with Johnny, he tried to fight him off but his efforts were futile, eventually he let his four arms attempt to wrap around Johnny's huge torso and his head fell to Johnny's shoulder. “Good luck, pal. Stay in touch,” he said, trying to hold back any emotion this exchange had brought on.“You too dude,” Johnny finally let go of Randall and his eyes widened, “I almost forgot!” he then bounded over to his final box and pulled a note out of a jacket pocket. “Thank me later,” he said as he held out the note to Randall at arms length.“What's this?” Randall asked suspiciously as he swiped the note from Johnny.Johnny shrugged as he lifted the last box, “Heather knows this monster from where she works who, well...” Johnny trailed off and let Randall unfold the scrap of paper to see for himself.There was a name scrawled in black marker, “Ssimone?” he said with a bewildered expression, under the name was a number. He looked at Johnny and his eyes narrowed.“Like I said, thank me later.” Johnny smiled, shrugged and walked out of their apartment for the last time and Randall could hear him whistling down the corridor, meanwhile he still tried to make sense of the note he had just been given.Just as his old flatmates bounding footsteps had disappeared, the realisation it hit him, Johnny had given him the phone number for a date to be arranged. “No” Randall said, screwing up the note and throwing it toward to waste bin, it missed and bounced to the floor amongst other pieces of scrunched up paper. Shaking his head he padded back to his room, taking a moment to pause outside the empty room where Johnny had once been and felt that wave of sadness start to build up again. Ignoring it he quickly turned on some music and turned it up louder than Johnny would normally accept. With a sigh he felt the freedom of living alone and decided this would be what he could focus on from now on, and of course beating the scare record at work. The record currently held by a James P. Sullivan. Sullivan had a head start on Randall, he had been working at Monsters Incorporated for at least a year longer thanks to him being booted out of Monsters University and being able to pursue his career ahead of time. Randall was seething at the thought, he allowed the anger to swell up long enough to turn into the adrenaline he needed to start his home training.----------------------------------------------------------------------------Randall's phone was ringing on the counter in his kitchen, the vibrate function was reverberating through the flat, he was ignoring it. Once again he had fallen below fourth place on the scare board at work and was taking his anger out once more in his home workout, he had worked his camouflage reflex to the brink of exhaustion and was struggling to get his tail to turn back to purple from lime green, at the same time as doing full sit ups. Randall had failed to scare a four year old today, it was his twelfth door of the day and he couldn't bring himself to hang from the ceiling light much longer while he waited for the child to wake up, his tail had slipped and his camouflage reflex had turned him bright pink, the child woke up to see him hanging from the ceiling and simply smiled believing Randall to be part of her dream. He got out as fast as he could, his other scarers had seen the empty scare container and watched for an explaination which didn't come, he simply walked off the scare floor and went for a walk, not bothering to return to work that afternoon. He was awoken from the memory when his back hit the floor with a thud and his arms flopped to the side, that was the last sit up his tired body could manage and his scales were itching from stress. He had barely noticed his phone had stopped ringing before it started up once again, tired of hearing it he dragged himself to his feet to go and answer it. “What?” he hissed, not noticing who the caller was.“Dude,” it was Johnny, “what's up?”“Never mind” Randall felt a hint of guilt. Johnny had been moved out for almost 2 months now and he hadn't once replied to his messages or returned his calls and this was the first time they had been on the phone.“I was worried about you man, I've not heard from you,” Johnny sounded genuinely concerned.“Works been really stressful and....” Randall paused as he could hear a female voice in the background and assumed it must be Heather, she was hissing something inaudible and he heard Johnny whisper back something. “Whats going on?” Randall felt suspicious.Johnny signed, “So... Heathers wanting me to ask you if you have called Ssimone yet?”“Who?” Randall snapped back, but then he remembered the note, “Oh, no. look I'm really not...” then he was cut off by muffled noises on the other end of the phone, he heard more hissing and drone whispers that he couldn't make out.“Uh huh,” Johnny said, Randall assumed this was aimed at Heather and not him, “Babe, give me a moment” now Randall certainly hoped Johnny was talking to Heather. Feeling the sweat from his home workout finally leave his brow while he waited, on the other end of the line Randall heard what sounded like Johnny's footsteps followed by a closing door.“You still there?”“Yeah, I'm still here. Look I'm really not...” Randall began, but Johnny cut him off.“No, you look, you gotta do me a solid, just go on one date with this girl and it will get Heather off my back and I will get off yours, I promise.” Johnny sounded like he was almost pleading. Randall frowned, “what? Why do I have to? Can't you...”“Heather showed her your picture and she kinda promised this girl she would set you two up...”Randall paused, “What picture..?”“I dunno, probably the one from our M-U yearbook”Randall's jaw dropped in disbelief, “I don't....”“She liked the picture,” Johnny said with a sly tone.Randall paused again, feeling embarrassed and oddly flattered despite not knowing if Johnny was being truthful, “I still don't...” he trailed off “What does she? I mean... is she...?”“Okay, I haven't seen her picture, but Heather tells me she's real cute and scary,” Johnny felt he had Randall's interest and didn't want to lose it, “Look you know that restaurant on main street, the nice one with the exotic plants in the window?”“...Yeah?” Randall wondered where this was now going.Johnny continued, “the owners kid is one of my students, I can get you a reservation this Friday.”Randall nearly dropped the phone, “I can't!”“Saturday then” Johnny argued.“No,” Randall hissed, “I mean I can't... Dont want to go.” he looked down to his own feet and saw his camouflage had turned him into several different pastel shades, none of them his own.“Why not?” Johnny pressed, “its a great place, great food, good drinks... I could probably even get you a discount which will make it easier for you picking up the bill at the end of the night...”Randall managed to turn himself back to normal colour and composed himself, “Johnny, I'm not interested” he said with a stern tone, feeling his last nerve getting wound tighter and tighter as his home workout was calling.Johnny momentarily went quiet, “Fine” he finally said, to Randalls surprise Johnny also sounded stern, “but just remember you can dedicate your life to scaring, but it will never bring you real happiness dude...”Randall rolled his eyes and half smiled, “Save me the lecture teach...”“No,” Johnny snapped, Randall realised this had now gone beyond banter “I'm surprised you still believe scaring is everything. I thought you had become more than that, but apparently not...”“Is this all because I dont want to meet this girl?” Randall was losing his composure and his patience combined with a sense of guilt at hearing his friend sound so disappointed in him.“No it's not.” Johnny sighed, “You haven't returned my calls or messages since I left, its like you just wanted to let me go and I thought we were bros.” Randall's eyes fell onto a picture that had been left on a bookshelf in the living room, it was him and Johnny in their 'ROR' sweaters, arms around one another and smiling, that was the day they had just passed their first exams. Randall had stayed up all night doing the theory with Johnny and Johnny had spent all morning teaching Randall how to use what little strength he then had to make a scare work. “Johnny, listen... I... the scare record, its so... I'm so close and...”“Its ok, you can stop. I get it.” There was another even longer pause, “good luck dude” Johnny finally said with more than a hint of anger in his voice.Before Randall could speak, he heard the phone go silent and the dial tone clicked into existence.Randall kept the phone to his face, hearing the long droll dial tone continue all while still staring at the picture on the bookcase, his colour slowly faded to almost grey and he felt a shiver. Looking toward the window to see if it was open he noticed the city skyline was lit up with an array of lights. Straight opposite his apartment he could see the windows of other apartments warmly lit up, letting his gaze fall into them he could see various other monsters going about their lives. One window had a kid who had stuck himself to the glass and his father was trying to yank him off with a spatula, in the window above theirs was a woman on the phone looking out of her window, she was smiling and playing with her hair while talking, no doubt speaking with her sweetheart. A few windows above he could see the light of a television and the silhouette of the back of two heads on the sofa. Stepping closer to his own full length window he allowed his gaze to focus on the couple, he could see the tentacles around the shoulders of the other, and their heads softly pressed together, a warmth briefly filled Randall's chest before disappearing with a chill once again. His arm that had been holding the phone had fallen to his side, he looked down at it and could still see Johnny's toothy grin smiling back at him through the caller ID photo, with a sigh Randall decided to hit the call button and and prepare to admit defeat alongside an apology to his very patient friend...---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Randall had taken some time off as per Johnny's advice, he had given himself two days to de-stress and to prepare for his date he had somehow been coaxed into agreeing to go on and he was just now realising he had no idea what to do, he had called Johnny several times already to try and get some details about what this Ssimone was like and he still felt very unprepared. Johnny had arranged the booking and the date with Ssimone through Heather, and today was the day of the date, he had precisely one hour before he was due to meet Ssimone at the restaurant and Johnny had advised Randall to get there early, order a drink, drink it and then get settled at the table ready for when she arrives.Ready or not and with a lump in his throat he was about to leave the apartment, he had put his contacts in so he wouldn't have to worry about being able to read menus, he had opted against ties or anything smart as Johnny had said he would risk looking geeky, instead he opted for a plain black jacket. Looking in the mirror he noticed his overly slouched posture, he straightened up and added a couple feet to his height, stuck out his chest slightly and attempted a smile that looked more like a grimace. “Hi, I'm Randall, nice to meet you, Ssimone.” he then put a hand out to his own reflection for a handshake and paused, taking himself in before slumping over again, the dread began to fill him and a shade of dark blue was rising from his feet. Everything about him reminded him of the weedy monster he had been at the start of university, until now he had believed that side of him was in the past as he was climbing his way to the top where he belongs.“I can't do this” he admitted, one last bewildered look in the mirror before he grabbed his phone to call Johnny and call the whole thing off. Before he could hit call an unknown number started ringing, frustrated he hit decline and fumbled around for Johnny's number again. He had just found it when the unknown number popped up again.Randall answered it through gritted teeth, “What?!” he hissed.The phone was silent, Randall could hear his own rapid frustrated breathing as he waited for someone to speak.A soft voice spoke down the phone “Hello? Do I have the right number? Is this... Randall? Randall Boggs?”Randall snapped his head up in surprise, “Yes,” replying with caution, “who is this?”“It's Ssimone. Ssimone Fang.” Randall's eyes widened and his mouth went dry, he hadn't saved her number, but Heather must have given her his number, and here she was, on the phone, calling him... now. “Hello?” Randall fumbled with the phone, tried to speak but couldn't, this was a disaster so he hung up. Breathing a deep sigh of strange relief, he felt his breathing start to slow down and noticed his colours had turned from blue to pink, why he found his camouflage reflex so hard to control lately was beyond him and very embarrassing. He had almost managed to calm down when the phone was ringing again, the same unrecognised number, Randall let out a shrill and a groan. “Pull yourself together Boggs” he hissed, looking back at his reflection he stood up straight, put out his chest and answered the phone. Bringing the phone to his head again he spoke very clearly, “Hello, this is Randall.”“Uhm... Hi, Randall, this is Ssimone,” she sounded uncertain about who she was talking to, “I'm calling because I'm going to be running late, I'm really sorry.”“Oh,” Randall's voice sounded a higher pitch than he intended, “not a problem,” he said as he caught his camouflage reflex about to turn him a shade of green and the words'please cancel' echoed in his subconcious, “I will see you when I see you” he said instead, rolling his eyes at how lame it sounded.“Yeah, I should only be about 20 minutes late, is that ok?”“Sure” Randall caught a shrill in his voice again.“Okay... bye?”“See ya.” Randall hung up fast. Looked at his own widened eyes in the mirror and tried a smile once more, a closed smile looked too forced, so he tried for a grin- too teethy... or is that a good thing? Maybe he should ring Johnny again...--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “I'm walking in now.” Randall had been speaking to Johnny the entire walk to the restaurant, he had taken the long way there too to make sure he had given himself enough time to relax.“Cool,” Johnny replied, sounding somewhat distracted “Shes still 20 minutes away yeah?”“Yeah, she's running late.”“Cool, so go to the bar and order a drink and say you have a reservation,” Johnny sounded like a coach, which is what Randall needed right now except the instructions made it sound all too easy as the shy purple monster still felt very robotic and uncomfortable.Still on the phone, Randall leaned against the bar and looked around the busy room, he hadn't drawn any attention luckily and it didn't appear he knew anyone from work here which was a bonus.“What can I get for ya?” the bar tender was a blue monster with six tentacle like arms and a strange circle of fur around his mouth, he was shaking a cocktail mixer in two of his appendages but Randall wanted something simple.“Can I get a squeeze of that scotch fruit on the rocks?” he said, waiting for the blue monster to nod and turn away before Randall turned his attention back to the room. “Johnny I'm super nervous.”“Maybe you should make that drink a double” Johnny joked.Randall tapped on the bar to get the bartenders attention, “can I make that a double please?” the monster nodded and turned back to squeezing the prickly bottle on the optic.“Woah dude, compose yourself, you don't wanna be drunk when she arrives do you?”“I wont be...” Randall replied as his eyes surveyed the room, not knowing exactly who or what he was looking for'maybe a way out?' “Oh, the reservation! Who's name is it under?”“Yours, it would look pretty lame if it was my name you had to say, right?” Johnny laughed.“Aw, thanks man.” Randall replied fondly, Johnny always had his back. Picking up his drink he started walking to the restaurant podium where a pink female monster with four eyes was stood there looking through a reservation book, one of her eyes looked up at Randall as he approached, “do you have a reservation, sweetie?” she asked.“Er yes...” He had no idea why he sounded so unsure.The pink hostess looked up with her other eyes, unsure if the purple lizard in front of her was still talking on the phone or talking to her, so she spoke louder “What name is it under please?” “Randall... Randall Boggs” He whispered his name just in case there was someone within earshot who might know him, then he could feel his nerves setting off again, looking down his feet had turned white, “Ah!” he shrieked, quckly catching it and turning to his usual colour.The hostess smiled, “You ok sweetie?” “Er, yes, I'm, um just....”“Let me guess,” she said as she beckoned him to follow her, Randall noticed she had more legs than he could count, all scuttling in perfect sync as she lead him to his table “first date?” “Yeah...” Randall replied wondering if Johnny had clued the hostess in and trying hard to keep up with her and not trip over all the legs and tails of the other patrons in the restaurant. “Well sweetie, we're gonna take good care of you,” she then turned to face him and winked with two of her eyes.Randall smiled nervously as he sat at the table she had pointed to, it was next to the wall and as secluded as it could be, Johnny had done well to get it for him. Feeling less on show he started to relax at the table, then suddenly remembering Johnny was still on the line.“Oh,” Randall put his phone back to his face, “Johnny, sorry I forgot you were...”“Ha! No problem. Listen dude, you need to chill, you sound more tweaked than you did that entire first year at M-U.”Randall's head fell and hit the table, he didn't notice the strange looks from the two monsters on the table next to him who exchanged a glance and then got back to their meals. “I know,” he groaned into the place mat.“Look you've done really well so far, waay better than when I tried to hook you up on campus, remember that night?”Randall slowly sat up and rolled his eyes, “I'd rather not.” “Right, right, sorry” Johnny hastily replied with a hint of regret bringing up such a thing at a time like this, “I need to leave you to it bro, it's nearly twenty past.”Randall's eyes snapped to the clock on the wall, the minute hand just clicked onto the 20 minute mark. “Wait, Johnny... I....”“You got this,” Johnny interrupted him in a stern voice. “Right... I got this,” he repeated before he heard Johnny hang up. Putting his phone down on the table he looked down and checked his scales were all in place and the right colour, he brushed back his quills on top of his head to stop them from falling into his eyes and leaned on the table with his head high, trying to ignore everyone else in the room, instead he focused on the candle in the middle of the table, watching the flame dance before him made him feel somewhat relaxed. He took a swig of his drink and allowed it to sit on his tongue for a moment before slowly swallowing, feeling it burn the back of his throat slightly, finally he was feeling composed. Opening his eyes he looked around the crowded room, trying to look over the top of everyone for when his date arrives, wondering what she looked like. He watched as the hostess walked a couple to their table behind him, meanwhile watching at her podium for anyone who would be waiting for her to return. Suddenly a monster who's face couldn't be seen behind a mass of green fur was waiting next, 'could this be her?' Randall bit his bottom lip. The hostess spoke to the green monster and then walked them to a table where a group were already waiting with banners and baloons, the sound of a happy birthday chorus started up as she hostess went back to her podium where nobody was waiting. Randall sighed and took another swig of his drink and was getting used to the idea that maybe she wasn't coming, maybe his outburst when he answered the phone earlier had scared her off, maybe that was for the best... Taking another swig he saw the hostess moving as he looked through the bottom of his glass, she was being followed by a dark yellow monster with brown tentacle like vines swaying from her head, the hostess locked all eyes with Randall and winked, with three eyes this time, as she started to approach his table. Immediately Randall felt his camouflage reflex go full haywire as he turned completely invisible. The hostess' eyes all widened as she saw Randall vanish and only his drink was hovering in front of where his face had been, she turned to face the monster who was following her.“Sweetie, is this your first date?” she whispered, blocking the view of the table where Randall was sitting...Invisible. Ssimone was set back by the question and was busy trying to look around the hostess to see where her date was, if he was even still waiting, “yes, but how did you...” her eyes narrowed as she looked suspiciously toward the hostess. The hostess cut her off, “I don't want to embarrass you, but you have a little smudge on the back of your top, how about we go to the bathroom and I help you get that out before you meet your guy?” she winked at Ssimone and tapped her playfully on the shoulder.“A smudge?” Ssimone attempted to look at her back, but couldn't see a smudge or stain of any sort.“Come along,” the hostess then grabbed one of Ssimone's tentacles and ushered her straight past Randall's table to help her get rid of the supposed smudge, and give Randall time to get a grip. The hostess gave a glance at the hovering glass as she passed, luckily Ssimone hadn't noticed it.As soon as they passed him, Randall's colour appeared, once again unknowingly attracting the attention of the two monsters on the table next to him, he looked behind him where the hostess had ushered his date off. He did notice that Ssimone had no legs, but instead a long tail that allowed her to glide gracefully across the floor in a muscular motion leaving no slimy residue as she did and her scales were yellow adorned with brown flecks. When he inhaled he could smell her perfume, it was a kind of ripe sickly sweet aroma that reminded him of the scotch fruit syrup he was drinking. Needless to say first impressions had already been a hit with him, Johnny and Heather had done well. Randall had never given dating a second thought until being manipulated into this situation, what little thought it had given it he realised he didn't care much of fur, slime or feathers, not that it was a problem, but it wouldn't be something he was drawn to himself, instead he would probably like a monster to be scaled like himself, horns would also be okay, and maybe the odd extra eye or limb. Now all he had to be concerned with was his first impression, he turned to look back at the flame and straightened himself up, he took a deep inhale to begin his calming mantra but before he could exhale he heard the high pitched voice of the hostess at his side.“Here we go, here's your table,” she said in a much higher tone than was necessary. Randal gulped and stared dead ahead.The hostess grabbed the chair opposite Randall and moved it away, “Will you be needing this sweetie?” she asked.“No it's alright,” Ssimone replied in a soft and polite voice, with emphasis on the 's' in 'it's', Randall can only guess that's how her name pronunciation must have come about. As the chair was moved away, Ssimone moved into the space, she rose up high before coiling her tail beneath her and sitting on it, as she lowered her torso she looked at Randall and their eyes met for the first time, she smiled nervously revealing sharpened fangs and what looked like two forked tongues pinched between her teeth.“Can I get you a drink?” the hostess asked, smiling at their first encounter.“I would love to try one of those pointed cocktails he was mixing when I came in,” Ssimone broke her gaze from Randall to smile at the hostess. Randall noticed her smile was bigger than he had first thought and at the creases of her lips her cheeks were padded and sprinkled with smaller brown flecks.“I will bring that right over with your menus.” with one final toothy smile, the hostess walked away.Ssimone looked back at Randall, resting her arms on the table and locking her clawed hands together in front of her, at the same time as two tentacles came up from behind and fixed her hair to keep it out of her eyes.“Hi,” she finally said with a sigh, looking expectedly toward her date.Randall went to speak but couldn't, his eyes darted around the table before looking back at Ssimone who was starting to look apprehensive, instead of talking, he smiled a huge toothy grin.Simone giggled and looked down at the table, she felt her face go warm and knew she must be blushing like a school girl. 'He looks even scarier than he did in his yearbook photo, but still so cute.' she bit her lip at the thought.Randall was embarrassed, thinking she was laughing at him, he quickly searched for something to talk about, not realising his eyes were darting to every object on the table. Then it came to him, Johnny had said she was a scarer, that was what they had in common, he had finally settled on asking her about her work when the hostess appeared again.“Hello sweeties,” she put a bright pink drink down in front of Ssimone along with a menu and then handed a menu to Randall and picked up his empty glass, “I will get you a refill” she said with with more of a singing tone, scuttling away before Randall could speak. He was sat with his mouth open for a few moments looking at where the hostess had been stood, locking his jaw open long enough for Ssimone to notice, he saw her smile and a tentacle appearred again to fix a loose strand of 'hair' off her face, it was only now that Randall noticed the tentacles were extra appendages below her arms, when they weren't fixing her hair she kept them at her side, resting on her long coiled tail. “So Heather tells me you work at Monsters incorporated?” Ssimone watched Randalls gaze snap back to her almost as though he had just woken up from a day dream.“Monsters incorporated?” Randall shook his head, “Yes, yes I do. I'm on the scare floor,” he shrugged with a half smile.“Me too!” Ssimone exclaimed, “Well.. not at Monsters Inc, I work for 'Stair Scare.'” She didn't stop smiling as she finished her sentence, her eyes averted to the floor and her shoulders shrugged as she bit her lip with her fangs.Randalls professional curiosity was triggered and he felt he could relax into this conversation, “how does your scare floor work exactly? Like... we go into kids bedrooms, but you appear in houses... Under the stairs?” he had made the statement sound more patronising than he had intended.“That's right,” Ssimone nodded, her eyes darted down briefly as she brushed off his tone, hoping he didn't think her job was some sort of a joke compared to the huge successful corporation he worked for.“How do you know you're gonna get a scare?” Randal asked, this time his tone sounded more indifferent and curious “I mean, everyone's in bed at night and...”“Oh,” Ssimone smiled, relieved he was simply curious “well we operate at all times of the day.”Randall cocked his brow on one eye “that sound dangerous?”“Not really,” Ssimone shrugged, “we dont touch anything we don't have to, much like you guys, and we kinda wait for our opportunity. We harvest the scares from all sorts, kids, teenagers, adults... even dogs!” Ssimone laughed.“Wait.. Dogs?" even Randall sniggered with her.Ssimone loved his laugh “Yeah, our scientists found a way to harvest dog barking and turn it into a basic fuel,” Ssimone laughed some more before sighing, “but it's not as effective as what you guys do.” she locked eyes with Randall again and smiled, feeling herself blushing again.“How so?” Randall leaned forwards and felt his first natural smile of the evening starting to surface.“Well a lot of houses are empty in the day... so we get a lot of missed hits, but the company is really nice, it's got a great family kind of feel to it,” Ssimone shrugged and shook her head, still smiling, “enough about work, I'm here to get away from that and hopefully get to know you.” Blushing again and biting her lower lip, she leaned slightly closer toward Randall and opened her menu.Randall did the same, opening the menu and dreading the conversation coming next, what else was there to him apart from scaring? What would she want to know? Then he realised he could talk about his time at Monsters University, he could tell her about all the good times he and Johnny had shared, did she know Johnny? How well did she know Heather? So many questions filled his head about her, he suddenly had no idea where to begin.“Have you eaten here before?” Ssimone didn't look up from her menu as she asked, attempting to hide her constant smile she couldn't seem to control, brushing part of her fringe back with a tentacle.“Err, no actually,” Randall focused back on the menu, trying to recall the last time he ate anything that wasn't take-away or a heated up tinned meal.“Call this a cliche,” Ssimone said, this time brushing her hair back with a flicking motion, “but I may order the salad, I do love fresh food,” she tried to sneak another glypse at her date over the menus but couldn't see Randall as his face hidden by his own menu, “also it saves room for desert” she added with a smile and a slight laugh in her attempt to sound playful and to see if it got a response.It didn't.Ssimone was starting to feel this date wasn't going well, she had tried to swallow her nerves her and enjoy herself and tried to sound fun and confident, but she was feeling the opposite. Heather had told her all about Randall and his popular escapades while he was at Monsters University with herself and Johnny, but Ssimone had spent her study days rather isolated and focused, she never was outgoing and coming on this date had been something Heather had really had to talk into her. It didn't matter that on seeing Randall's yearbook photograph she felt a lump appear in her throat at the thought of a monster as attractive and scary as Randall would even be within her reach, she got flutters in her stomach hearing his voice and watching his mannerisms, it was so distracting. Ssimone's breathing pace had quickened as she began to worry. Was she talking too much? Too little? Or was he just not into her?Ssimone was about to swallow the lump in her throat again and pick her nerves up again when she was startled by a familiar voice at the table.“Helloo” the hostess appeared seemingly from nowhere, announcing herself in that high pitched tone, Randall was just as startled as he dropped his menu and it slammed on the table with a snapping sound causing all three monsters within earshot to wince, especially Ssimone.Ssimone felt the lump in her throat swell suddenly, then before she could act, a warm feeling travelled through her tentacles shortly followed by a generous spraying of ink from all her suction cups that lined her tentacles. It splashed the front of the hostess who didn't put her arms up in enough time, thick black ink was dripping down the wall next to their table and had gone all over the menu she had been holding.“Oh,” Ssimone rose up and looked back at the situation, “I'm sorry, I'm so sorry” she exclaimed as she grabbed a napkin of the table to help wipe off the menu, but all it did was smear it further. As she looked for something in her bag to use she noticed Randall had a blob of ink on his face, it was slowly dripping down before he caught it with a napkin of his own. Ssimone slid back in horror “I... I'm gonna go, I'm sorry.” she dropped her bag and slid past the tables around her without much issue, but as she turned passed the last one of the row, her tail had managed to knock another monster from his chair, she didn't stop to apologise.“Oh dear,” the hostess murmured aloud, brushing ink away from her eyes with a sweeping motion before turning to Randall, “and you thought you had problems,” she half smiled, “let me grab a sponge to clean this up, I dont think it went far... poor thing” she scuttled off, shaking her head.Randall looked down at the empty space where Ssimone had been in disbelief, he could barely comprehend what had just happened, he felt the ink still on his face and grabbed a napkin to wipe it off. When he opened his eyes again he could see that Ssimone had left her handbag behind, he contemplated letting the hostess know before he left the restaurant, maybe Ssimone would come back tomorrow to get it, but before he went to grab her attention it just dawned on him what she had said before leaving; "And you thought you had problems"Randall's camouflage reflex had been playing up all night, maybe he wasn't the only one who had been nervous about this date. Perhaps him and Ssimone had been the product of a joke by Johnny and Heather out of some sick sense of amusement...Payback for not being in touch.'How pathetic' he thought.Randall sneered and grabbed Ssimone's handbag and marched out of the restaurant with it in hand, he ignored the fact that all the diners had been watching him leave, this just made him more eager to get to the doors. As he stepped out into the night air he took a breath, a feeling of relief washed over him to be away from there. As he began to focus on the sounds of the city and the cold night air he could hear faint sobbing noises coming from a nearby ally, he realised this must be Ssimone, clutching her handbag with two hands he followed the sounds of her soft cries. Once he was close enough to make out her silhouette in the shadows he cleared his throat to grab her attention, he heard her sobbing pause before she slowly turned to face him, he attempted a half smile as she did.Ssimone saw Randall stood in front of her, both of her hearts fluttered lightly at the thought that this kind monster had come to see if she was alright, that was until she saw her bag in his clutches, realising he had only found her to return it, with a sigh she approached him and took the bag back. “Thank you,” she croaked.“Don't mention it,” Randall turned away but didn't move, it was like his feet were glued to the pavement in front of her, almost like he was not wanting to leave.Ssimone opened her mouth to speak but struggled to find the words, “I... I'm sorry” she said before also turning away, knowing her chance to be over.Randall's eyes widened as his head snapped back towards her, “It's okay, really...” “No, it's not,” Ssimone protested, “I'm so embarrassed,” she fished around in her handbag for a handkerchief she carried for moments like this which she was sadly familiar with.“Please, don't...”“I'm going home,” Ssimone slid around Randall while wiping away ink and tears from her face and started off along the cobbled street.Randall was thinking what to do before his feet took over once again and ran after Ssimone, “Wait!” He called as he skipped ahead and managed to jump in front of her path.“What?” Ssimone hissed at him, showing her pointed teeth in a snarl, still with tears in her eyes.Randall didn't have to say anything, Ssimone watched as he turned a bright shade of blue before her. Her eyes widened in shock and she backed away.Randall hadn't realised what happened until he looked down and saw his feet were now turning a bright shade of pink, but he opted not to fight it as the colour swept up past his stomach, instead he looked at Ssimone with a helpless expression, “this is what happens when I get nervous,” he shrugged and attempted another half smile.Ssimone didn't know what to make of what she was seeing or hearing, she simply approached him and put a hand on his shoulder, “I've never been on a real date before,” she admitted, “I've been really nervous...” she managed to smile after that last sentence.Randall turned his normal colour again, “yeah, me neither.” Ssimone removed her hand from his shoulder, she was sure Randall was lying about not dating before to make her feel better, but still it was a sweet gesture, “well, it's certainly been eventful,” she said with a deep sigh, adjusting her bag over her shoulder.“Yeah,” Randall awkwardly replied, biting his tongue, looking at Ssimone and getting a feeling of warmth rising in his chest and a tingling in his feet.“I'm gonna go home,” She announced, this time in a less defeated tone, breaking Randall's daydream. “It was nice to have met you, Mr Boggs.”“Oh, yeah sure,” Randall conceded, it had been eventful after all, and hardly a success.They stood there awkwardly for a moment, Randall wondered if they should shake hands? Hug? Or just walk opposite directions? Ssimone turned away first, “Thanks for understanding,” she said over her shoulder before sliding away.Randall opened his mouth a few times to call after her but couldn't, it was like his tongue had turned fuzzy and his throat had closed. With a sense of defeat, he too turned to leave in the opposite direction. Randall was only a few minutes from home when he finally lifted his head and looked ahead of himself, realising he had his head down to the pavement all the way home as he was recounting the evening. It dawns on him that he only remembers it with a sense of fondness, he was thinking about Ssimone's smile and how her tentacles seemed to instinctively and gracefully brush her hair from her eyes without her having to think about it, and how she moved with such elegance... At least until the end of the evening, remembering how the monster Ssimone had knocked from his chair fell to the floor with a slight bounce made Randall snigger aloud to himself. Despite only seeing her for a few minutes, he couldn't seem to shake her from his mind, reaching for his phone he was about to do something radical. He spoke the words aloud to himself as he typed them into his phone, “Ssimone, would you like to try this again sometime. Question mark. Maybe somewhere not so busy where we can blend in a little better. Question mark. Randall” he hesitated before adding a single 'x' at the end of the message and hit send before he could change his mind and regret it. Passing his phone to his lower limb he laughed at himself. 'What am I doing?' shaking his head he was sure he wouldn't hear back.Randall could see the block of apartments where he lived up ahead, he smiled at the thought of getting into his own bed for an early night, but his smile fell when he felt his phone vibrate. Passing his phone back up to his dominant arms he looked at the screen, he had a message from Ssimone, it simply read 'sure.' Although it was only a simple confirmation that he had another shot, it made Randall smile, he was about to pass the phone back to his lower arm again when it buzzed a second time, this time when Randall looked at the screen there was a single 'x'With a grin across his face, the now confident purple monster felt himself almost skipping the rest of the way home.