Have fun reading!
P.S. This is the officially the last chapter of The Orli-fic. I am trying not to look too happy. What this also means, though, is that Leila will be taking the stage for the next three posts as she posts her Sean-fic, and if we don't screw up too badly, we should end up with our four protagonists, Leila, Jenn, Sean, and, oh, what's the other one's name... Oh yeah, Orli, set to catastrophically enter each other's lives. Which includes Leila messing up with flight tickets and all of us eventually living in my flat. God. Anyway. Sit tight, wait for Leila, forget about Orlando because he's not half as hot as Sean, and get your Second Servings. :)
CHAPTER 3 - Cheers and Beers
Orlando Bloom, Leila decided within fifteen minutes of shopping with him, had little idea of what the female mind was really like.
He wasn't hopeless, no, in fact, most of the time his gift choices were in they'd begun to call the Top Marks for Orli! category. It was just the occasional bad pick that seemed to keep them constantly waltzing around step one. Like the item Orli had in his hands right now.
"Orli, no!" Leila said in exasperation, pushing Orli back to where he came from when he wandered back to where she was, holding out the gift item he'd picked off one of the shelves. She scowled. Why they were even on this floor of the department store was beyond her. Oh, wait, that's right, it had been and Orli's insistence that they shop through each damned floor that had put them here. His inability to see the errors in his gift choices also did not help endearing him to her either. How could someone do so well one minute-- and then come over to her the next with something so hideously wrong?
“But why not?” Orli demanded, the glossy, see-through box reflecting in his hands.
“You--You just can’t buy that for a girl!” Leila tried to explain.
“But it’s Samantha!” Orli protested. "She's my sister. I think I'd know her best!"
Leila closed her eyes, sighing in frustration. "Orli, listen to me when I say that no girl-- NO GIRL-- would want a razor for Christmas."
"Bloom, are you even listening to me? Are you a girl?"
Leila rolled her eyes. "Right." She took him by the elbow, guiding him towards the escalators. "Now, let's go to the next floor, next floor, please."
Orli did something very close to a pout before setting the Christmas razor set back onto the shelf. "Fine. It was a deluxe razor kit, though. Just so you know."
Orli grumbled childishly, shoving his hands into his blazer pockets. Shopping did not bring out his inner man. In fact, it almost seemed to be a regressive sort of activity for him. Oh well. He didn't give a blast anyhow. "Well, I suppose you're a girl," he said finally, stepping onto the Egyptian escalators as they rode up to the next floor, "so you'd know best."
Leila stopped to beam radiantly at him. "Why yes, I am!" she said brightly. And then stepped off the escalator and onto the fourth floor.*
As he followed, Orli gave the back of her head an odd look. "Okay, Leila, okay." He shook his head. He would never understand women.
The escalator pulled them up the next floor, depositing them on the floor Leila knew would be her death: the Ladies Fashion floor.
Dolled-up mannequins dressed in smart tweeds and tousled chiffon skirts posed their ways down the rows of the floor behind fingerprint-less glass walls, modeling the latest styles and hot-off-the-runway fashions. This was hot couture—this was Prada and Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Helmut Lang and Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta and more names she couldn’t really pronounce. Today couture would die.
Today they would meet Orlando Bloom.
Leila didn’t think she’d be able to make it through this floor. Foot baths and L’Occtaine cream lotions didn’t matter that much to her—but to have to see the butchering of fashion, something dear to her essentially-girly heart, was something she didn’t think she’d be able to take. Nightmarish visions of the Briton suggesting orange leg warmers… pea green ruffle skirts… billowy pirate shirts… anything… drove a pang of hurt into her.
Admittedly, Orli wasn’t badly dressed himself. The likes of the Prussian blue blazer he wore had hit magazine pages just the week before, with Vogue and Cosmopolitan decking their cover men in colored blazers and collared shirts, and his outfit was casual but well-picked, his face clean-shaven and his hair combed. No, he wasn't badly dressed at all. It was just that reoccurring image of the (deluxe) razor set… oh the horror of it all.
It was all very, very depressing. Some of the best designer brands in the world were on this floor-- all of which would be single-handedly slaughtered by one oblivious Briton.
Leila stood to the side of the escalator, waiting and watching as Orli meandered around the floor, looking for “the right shop” to find Samantha a present.
As she followed him past the signature plaid of Burberry, the bright colors of Escada, then the purple and black of Anna Sui, she wondered how bad this could possibly be.
Pretty bad, she decided a moment later. She imagined Orli running into shops and suggesting the aforementioned leg warmers, tapered jeans, paisley dresses-- things meant to stay strictly on the runway, and for good reason. Then she imagined having to dissuade him, again.
She needed some coffee. And fast.
But then, then her worst nightmare came true-- Orli disappeared into a shop.
Their shopping on the Ladies Fashion floor began.
This was… there were no words. Leila never, in a million years, thought she would see what she was seeing now. It was as if the dodo had decided to come back to life. Although it wasn’t as if it really had a choice in that matter, actually, so never mind. But it was as if the dodo had returned—as if Jenn had gone through an entire day without announcing a bathroom trip because she needed to pee, as if…
“Right, so we both agree that the coat is okay, but what about this scarf?” Orli held up a multi-colored crotchet scarf and a winter hat Leila would have never thought would match, but somehow did. Perfectly. “And this hat to go with it? I know they’re not a set,” he spoke, “but the colors sort of match, right?” He struggled with the color names. “The… dark blue… and that pale… something-ish color…”
It was like her brain was dying, like the Backstreet Boys were breaking up (without any slash!), like the world was ending. How? How could this be happening? It was like the Briton in front of her had suddenly transformed into one of the Queer Eye men. He was suddenly doing things RIGHT.
“Leila?” Orli waved the scarf in front of her face. “Hello? Do you think Sam will like it?” He gave her an irritated look when all she did was stare at him all the more blankly. “Stop staring at me like I’ve… taken your 0.58 black pen—“
“It’s 0.38!” Leila corrected, snapping back to attention.
“Oh, right.” Orli rolled his eyes. “But really, if you don’t think Samantha will like something, just say so. I saw this other hat that might work too, that camel-colored one, but you seem go into this vacant, shell-like mode that makes trying to communicate with you as fun as talking to a—“
Leila’s composure broke. “You have a sense of FASHION and you didn’t SAY anything?!”
“What! That’s what you’ve been twitching about all day?”
“Well, YES, Orlando. We just spent an hour looking at identical-looking fountain pens and animal magnets! Do you know how much less painful this trip could have been?"
The man was fashion literate! He could pick out clothes! WHY THE HELL HADN’T HE TOLD HER EARLIER!? She voiced this to him with vigor, hands flinging with sudden energy.
Orli shrugged. “I dunno. I guess I must’ve picked some stuff up from all those photoshoots I’ve done.” He shrugged again.
Leila wanted to hit him, she really did.
It really was for his own good.
"So," Orlando prompted one store later and several hits later, one hand rubbing his right arm, the other holding up a swingy chiffon skirt belted with a thick ribbon, "what do you think?"
Leila furrowed her eyebrows. There was something rather off with the seams of the skirt. "It..."
"Oh, hell." Leila started in surprise when he suddenly took the skirt back and checked the tags inside, and then flipped the clothes hanger around. "I was holding it backwards," he explained as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, and then held it up to her again. "So?"
“Orli.” Leila was once again at the loss of words. “What was that?”
“How the hell were you able to tell between the front and back of that skirt!” This wasn't normal; this was worrying.
Orli looked at her expression and laughed. Okay. Not any more relieving. The man was a freak!
"You forget," Orli reminded, smiling, "that I have an older sister."
Leila stared at him blankly before it registered in her head. Dresses. Younger brothers. What did older sisters do to younger brothers when Barbies weren't fun enough to dress up? "Oh."
"Yes," Orlando said, nodding solemnly. "Dress up. Years of trying to de-fairy myself as a child, that's what."
"I'm sure you made a lovely fairy," Leila said admiringly, her smile giving her guise away.
"You know, people develop inferiority complexes because of people like you," Orli scowled, hanging the skirt back onto the rack.
"Yes." Annoyed, Orli moved to the next rack of clothes. Leila grinned and followed in his steps.
"...And just so you know, I did make a lovely fairy."
"Okay," Leila announced as they finally began riding down the escalators, ticking her Christmas shopping items off with her fingers, "I have Ace's The Patriot DVD, Bet's Slyther--" she looked wearily at Orlando, who didn’t seem to notice her slip, and was instead preoccupied with the Christmas ornaments hanging above, "err, well, Bet's green and silver scarf, Met's Paint Shop Pro 8, which you will die for if you drop it, by the way, and... all that's left is Jenn's plane ticket to London!"
"Which you will call the travel agency for once you get home," Orli finished tiredly, holding all her bags, and his one bag for Samantha.
"Right." She nodded, leaning against the railing of the escalator. "Gosh. I'm all worn out."
"Me too," Orli agreed, leaning on the rail opposite her. “I could really use some food, too.”
“McDonalds!” Leila insisted. “It’s only a few steps from Harrods. And I really could use some corn soup, yo.”
“What, the bistro downstairs isn’t gangster enough for you? And few steps my arse. We’ll have to walk almost an entire tube station’s length to get there!”
“We will not!” Leila rolled her eyes, stepping off the escalator and heading towards the south exit. “It’s only a minute’s walk away!”
“Have you even been to that McDonalds before?”
“Of course I have,” Leila assured confidently. Go to one McDonalds and you’ve gone to all of them. That was her logic. “Millions of times.”
“All right. But I swear I don’t remember the McDonalds being that close.”
Fifteen minutes later the truth came out.
"You HAVEN'T ever been there before, have you? GOD! I KNEW IT! The nearest one is the one outside the tube station!"
Leila looked carefully around her; anywhere but at the man next to her. “Well,” she began. “Probably.”
"I will not hit a girl, I will not hit a girl," Orli muttered under his breath, trying to ignore the strain of the sagging bags he held. "I will not hit a girl, I will not hit this girl..."
"I'm sure the McDonalds isn't that far away," Leila said, squinting at the haze of colors in the distance. If she squinted with her left eye and relaxed her right, she could see something sort of yellow and red. “Try to be optimistic,” she advised.
"There aren't any cars heading your direction. “I can't."
“Oh my God.”
They’d made it. Well, sort of. The “yellow and red thing” Leila had seen had turned out to be the sign of some convenience store, and it turned out that when Leila had charged out of Harrods, she’d left out the wrong exit completely, leading them over a mile in the wrong direction. So they’d hailed a cab, Orli glowering and Leila once again looking carefully upwards, giving the driver the directions of “the nearest McDonalds.”
“I cannot believe you.”
Leila looked up from her Big Mac at the glaring Briton sitting across from her.
“I cannot believe you.”
Orli brandished a fry, gesturing wildly with the potato. “This!”
“Well, you never stopped me when we were walking!” Leila said defensively. “You’re the native Englishman, not me! I’m an American!”
Orli rolled his eyes. “Obviously.”
“Hey! What is THAT supposed to mean?”
“I don’t even like McDonalds all that much,” Orli stated, stabbing a fry into his cup of ketchup. “It’s unhealthy.”
“Oh stop whining,” Leila said cheerfully, lifting the lid of her corn soup. Corn soup made her happy; great stuff, it was. Jenn had to be out of her mind, calling it too salty and artificial-tasting. Her friend was so missing out. “I got us here, didn’t I? And you have Sam’s present!”
“So smile, be happy,” she instructed sagely, inhaling the aroma of her soup. Ahhh. “And give me some of your fries.”
Orli gave her a scowling look before shoving the fries in her direction. “Here. Let’s clog our arteries together.”
Leila rolled her eyes and took a fry; Orli did the same. “Here, cheers,” he said half-sarcastically. “To artery clogging and getting us lost just so we can eat in a sodding McDonalds.”
Unaffected by his mood, Leila heartily clinked his fry. “Cheers.”
*Another allusion to our lives, yipee hooray okay. For the past half year Leila has griped over how her best guy friend, P, treats her like "another one of the guys," which is, well, true. It's sort of funny, really. So all the more reason for Orli to unwittingly embody the trait of seeing her as a girl. Go Orli.