The first thing the little girl saw in her latest dream was a teddy bear, surrounded by a few bags of chips, a guitar, a violin, and surprisingly, a knife. The teddy bear appeared to have a bit of paint on its face and body. Walking up to the teddy bear, Emme was not quite sure what to make of it. It was golden in color with two blue buttons as its eyes.
The little girl looked around. This dreamworld was familiar by now; dark, yet strangely vivid. The world was too open; a scattering of buildings, no people, no cars, it was just empty, save for the few items in front of her. Looking up, she saw that the shards of broken glass still hung from the sky like they were on invisible strings coming down from heaven.
This world was still. No breeze, no movement, and nothing but the sound of her own breaths. Within this stillness, she suddenly heard someone crying and couldn't make out where it was coming from. Was it coming from the scattered buildings or another part of the void-like dream world?
She left the pile of trinkets in an attempt to follow the soft sobbing. But no matter where she went, the crying didn’t change in volume. It was frustrating.
So the little girl stopped, hoping that whoever was crying would find her if she stayed in one place.
But, Emme didn’t know how long she stayed there, but eventually, there was a boy who looked about the same age as her. She didn’t know where he came from or if he had been following her this whole time, but one moment she was alone and the next he was suddenly right in front of her. With bright blond hair and ocean blue eyes, he wore a yellow tee and a pair of blue overalls. Again, a sense of familiarity struck the girl, but it passed just as quickly as it came.
Tears flowed from the brightly colored eyes. His sobs played like a sad, quiet melody of a recognizable lullaby. Neither of them spoke to each other; they simply stared into each other’s eyes. The dual colored boy gave a wobbly smile and a shy wave, tears subsiding the longer he looked at her. The girl returned it with the same shyness as the other.
“Who are you?” she asked quietly into the still air. The boy didn’t answer and continued to stare at her.
“Whatever you do, don’t take the last bag of chips.” The last thing she saw before waking up was that the boy's eyes flashed from blue to gold.
Emme woke up to her alarm, confusion settling over her in discomfort. While the dream was still fresh in her mind, she wrote it into her dream journal. The strangest part about it wasn’t the trinkets or the blue-eyed boy, but rather, it was the way he acted and spoke.
One minute he was crying and then next, he was smiling and telling her, in a strangely adult voice for a child, not to take the last bag of chips. What did those even have to do with anything? And his eyes… the way that they flashed colors like that was so strange.
Emme quickly got ready for her first day at LFG. She didn’t go with her usual style of clothing since it wasn’t as professional enough for LFG, so instead, she went with a simple gray pencil skirt, a white blouse, and a matching gray suit jacket with one button and a shawl lapel. Paired with a black pair of gray velvet platform heels.
Grabbing a small breakfast on her way out, she picked up the rest of her necessities and left her apartment, praying to whatever deity was listening that she wouldn't see Lucien for when she left and when she came home.
Once she got to the LFG building, she was greeted by a brunette man in glasses and a blue suit who looked like he was about to have a meltdown.
“Please tell me that you are Miss Xi?” he asked, distinctly worried about something that made Emme concerned.
“Uh, as far as I’m aware, yes,” she said, a little confused.
It seemed to ease his anxious worrying as he sighed a breath of relief. Emme just barely met him, but he already seemed like a worrywart. Leading her away, Emme wasn’t sure about what to make of this mousy man taking the lead of this little excursion.
“Alright, before we can take a tour of the building, I am going to need to put you into our system. Have you brought all the necessary paperwork with you?” he asked, sounding snooty. Emme would have snorted at that normally, but instead, she just nodded and brought out her little tote bag with her birth certificate and all other necessary identification papers that she even thought that she would need.
She even brought a copy of her high school transcripts, just in case. After all, she was working for a man who called her Dummy more than her actual name.
The man promptly introduced himself as Goldman and led them to the elevators, heading up to the same floor that held Victor’s office. But instead of going to the office labeled CEO on the door in big, gold letters, Emme was taken to a smaller office that wasn’t even as close to being as nice as Victor’s. While Victor’s was modern and chic, Goldman’s was actually far more welcoming and cozy.
It was painted in neutral colors; not cramped but not minimalist with a very nice atmosphere.
“You will be working here with me. I'm having a second desk brought in here for you so it should be here by the time we have finished the tour. But for now, let’s get started.”
It didn’t take long for Emme to be placed in the computer system. She was shown how to clock in every time she worked and what she would be working with. Mostly, it’s bank statements and filing paperwork for loans.
“Okay, so for the most part, we work with Windows Excel, checking the company email to sort through the important ones to forward to Victor, and then we file the reports as they have been completed. I tend to keep up with the stock market as well to make sure that we are running as efficiently as possible,” he explained as he put her into the computer system.
Soon enough, she had her own company lanyard with her name and title on it that hung from around her neck. With that taken care of, the two of them left the office space to finally start the tour. The building was very large, so Goldman didn’t bother showing her everything, just the floors that she would be frequenting.
The floor that they were on held the executive office and Goldman’s office. The rest of the spaces were used as storage and filing for more important clients. Several of the floors below here were only conference rooms or were being rented out to other smaller businesses that couldn’t get office spaces elsewhere.
Several floors were strictly for LFG's employees and used as break rooms. One floor was even an entire gym. Other floors were used as spaces for customer service cubicles or set up to meet with some of the financial advisors in smaller meeting rooms. Those are who deal with individuals or small-time businesses. The only reason why Emme’s father deals with Victor himself was because Victor wanted to branch out when it came to his business dealings.
From what her father had told her, their company was the first media group that Victor had funded.
“Alright,” Goldman said as they were finishing up the tour, “I believe that's everything. Most of the floors, as I said earlier, you won’t need to be dealing with. I honestly don’t even know why Victor placed you up here instead of down with our advisors or customer service.”
Emme giggled. “Maybe he thought I was cute,” she said, jokingly.
But Goldman was clearly unamused. “Please, I doubt that he would have someone become an intern simply for their looks.”
She gave him a dry look. Obviously he cared about people’s looks, just yesterday when she was shopping, she found one of those magazines that showed Victor waltzing around with some brunette model on his arm.
“Anyway,” Goldman said as the two went into the office to see that there were now two desks, computers, and chairs. “I don’t really have anything else for you to do. I got all of my work done before you showed up since I knew that this was going to take a while. So, you're free to go”
“Thanks, Goldman. I will see you tomorrow then,” she said as she grabbed her bag.
After that, she didn’t stick around. She clocked out and headed home, finding herself considerably hungry. Looking at the time, she found it was closer to the dinner hour that she sighed. The tour had taken much longer than expected and there was no time for a break. So, she asked the taxi driver to drop her off at a little store that was near her apartment.
Emme paid her cab fee and hopped out. Emme decided that since she didn’t want to eat out as much, that she would grab some groceries to make dinner at home. But once she was inside, she thought that it would be okay to have just a little bit of snacks to bring to work and school in case she had to work late again or if she stayed at the library on campus to study. Perhaps her favorite kind of chips! She heard that they were doing some sort of limited-time promotional event. She only knew since her dad managed to do the commercial for it a while back.
Grabbing a couple of different food items, she made her way to the chip rack. But she couldn’t seem to find any of her preferred flavors. She dug around for a while before finally managing to find a single bag.
“Yes!” she quietly exclaimed as she went to grab the bag, only to have another hand, somewhat larger than hers, reach for it as well. She turned to glare at whoever dared try to take her potato-y goodness.
Only she was shocked at who was right in front of her.
“Ki—” she whispered, unable to finish when he quickly covered her mouth.
“Shh!” he said, looking up and around to see if someone heard them.
No one else seemed to recognize him. He was wearing a hoodie and a face mask. The only reason why she recognized him in the first place was that he was literally right in front of her. His blue eyes aren’t exactly common either in China. She had seen a lot of people try to use contact lenses to make their eyes look blue, but they weren’t even close to how they looked on Kiro. It had to be natural.
“Sorry,” she tried to say, but it came out heavily muffled through his hand. While she couldn’t see his lips, his eyes crinkled into what she could only tell was a smile.
“It’s fine,” he said, pulling his hand away. “I just saw that there was only one bag left of this flavor. I wanted to snag it but, I didn’t know you were getting it, too.”
Emme laughed. “Oh no, it’s quite alright! But I did all the hard work to try and find it.” She reached for it again, only to be stopped by a familiar voice. Only it was in her head, not out loud.
‘Don’t take the last bag of chips.’
She picked it up and handed it to the in-disguise pop star. “You can have them if you want,” she said.
He gave the most sincere look of gratitude that she had ever seen from someone famous. He looked like he might cry.
“Thank you, uh… Miss Chips!” He pulled down his facemask to give her a million-watt smile. She giggled.
“No problem,” she said. “My name is Emme. Emme Xi.”
“Xi… why do I know that name?” He said. “Oh, I know! I was supposed to do an interview for Xi productions. Do you work there?”
Emme smiled. How did he come to that conclusion? There could be millions of Xi’s in the world.
“Actually, I do. My dad, Warren, runs the company.”
She went back and studied the chip rack for a little while longer, trying to decide on another type of chip she wanted to munch on. She sighed and settled for the original flavor and the two of them headed to the checkout counter.
“Really, that’s so cool! I love his work—especially Miracle Finder. It’s my favorite show of all time!”
Well, this was a nice change of pace. Talking to someone who was her age and who didn't have a stick up their butt. For an idol, he was surprisingly easy to talk to.
“Oh!” Emme exclaimed. She dug through her purse for her date booklet. “That reminds me, I have an interview set up with you sometime next week. How weird is that? To run into you right before we were officially supposed to?” She asked with a big bright smile.
Kiro laughed. “That is weird. You’re not stalking me, are you Miss Chips~?” he asked in a light, teasing tone. She blushed and playfully pushed his shoulder. “Kidding, kidding, I promise,” he chuckled, bumping her back with his hip.
“Yeah, yeah. All I know,” she said with an easy smile. He made it easy to forget that he was a superstar instead of a normal twenty two year old guy that she ran into. So much better than working with small time actors for silly commercials. They think that they are so much better than you, even if all they are filming is a commercial for hemorrhoid cream. The thought made Emme giggle.
Just like hemorrhoids, those actors are a pain in the ass. She even explained her little joke to Kiro as they continued to walk after paying for the chips. His laugh was so loud it scared off a few birds from a nearby ginkgo tree.
It didn’t matter as the two of them continued to walk and talk about nothing. Whether it be games that he’s played, shared hobbies, silly things like the color of their toothbrushes, it didn’t matter because Kiro made every topic fun to talk about.
Eventually, they found their way to a nearby park and sat down on one of the benches.
“Gosh, this is probably the most fun that I have had in a while outside of work,” Kiro admitted. “Who would have thunk?” He smiled and held out his bag of chips to her, offering one of them. She reached in, only to grab not a chip, but something wrapped in plastic.
“Oh, here, it's the little collectible card. I just like salt and vinegar chips,” Emme said, holding out the plastic-wrapped card for Kiro.
“Thanks, Miss Chips! I completely forgot about that. To be honest, that’s the only reason why I've been getting chips in the first place. My agent doesn’t let me eat snacks very often.”
Emme gave him a knowing look.
“He becomes more strict on my diet if he finds out that I've eaten junk food,” he added with a sad look.
“I’m sorry Kiro. It must be tough to be an idol. Especially one as popular as you.” Emme smiled sympathetically. “Then, why are you eating the chips now then?”He pouted as he stuffed another handful of chips into his mouth.
“Because they're good. Smells bad, but they taste so good,” he confessed between bites.
She giggled. He was quite cute when he pouted. They fell into a comfortable silence after that. The only thing that was heard between the two of them was the crunch of chips.
“Miss Chips, I have a question.”
“Sure, what is it?” Emme asked, popping another chip into her mouth. The pop star blushed, adding to the adorable image that was Kiro Chow. But seeing the blush on the blond made Emme blush in return, only guessing where this was going. She bit her bottom lip.
“I, uh, was just wondering if you, um,” he started, “would you like to go out sometime?”He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck.
She smiled, turning shy at Kiro’s question. He was super cool to hang out with; how could she not want to see him again?
“Of course,” she replied. “I'll just have to check my schedule.”
His eyes widened.
“No worries! I know I would have to check mine too. Savin is going to hate it when I ask for a personal day, but don’t worry, Miss Chips! Whenever it’s best for you, I will make sure that I have that day free!” he said, clearly excited.
“Here, gimme your phone so that you have my number!” he added, handing her his cellphone. It was obviously one of the newest models on the market, so it made Emme slightly nervous to hand over her older model.
She did it anyway and took his so she could add herself into the phone, putting herself as “Miss Chips” in his contacts. Surprisingly, he didn’t have many. Only like three others. One of the contacts was his aforementioned manager, Savin. She was a little bewildered that he didn’t have more. Perhaps it was for the best, with him being an idol and whatnot.
“There you go!” she said, happily handing it back to him after adding a quick selfie to it.
“Thanks!” he exclaimed, sounding just as happy. “But I should go before Savin gives me hell for taking too long on my lunch. I’ll just tell him that I had to avoid the fans. While I love my followers, they can get—" he paused, briefly, "—clingy and obsessive.” He shuddered, clearly remembering something. “But I'll make sure to text you later, to let you know that I made it back safe. Make sure that you do the same.”
Emme nodded as they parted ways. She was all smiles as she finally made her way home. She was so lucky that she didn’t have anything else to do that day. When she finally got into her apartment, she damn near squealed in excitement.
“I have a date with a superstar!”