"You've called me like ten times, what's so urgent that you felt the need to blow up my phone on a Tuesday night?" It wasn't that she wasn't happy to hear from her sister, ever since she made the decision to move out to attend the Royal Victorian Guard School, she had missed being close to Talulah. Talulah was the only person in her family that she really considered, well, family. They had their differences and plenty of disagreements, but they knew they could count on each other, especially in areas where their parents fell short. Areas such as affection, positive affirmation, and just plain human compassion.
"I wanted to get to you before the good ole parental figures did. Figured I'd give you time to prepare yourself so you don't freak out on them and make everything worse for all of us"
"That sounds... not good..."
"Is anything involving family ever?"
"Yeah, ok, fair" Ch'en sighed and rubbed her forehead, already feeling a tension headache coming on for news she hasn't even heard. "So what is it. What exactly would mom and dad be calling me for?"
"Well, throughout the history of Lungmen, the great Lungmen Guard Police Department has always been a staple of stability, standing tall and protecting the people. From the day they graduate, put on the badge, and take the oath to serve, the members of the LGPD take on the awesome responsibility that comes with it. In police work, the more things change the more, in some ways, they remain the same. Although the challenges the police must confront change, their fundamental responsibilities do not-"
"Get on with it, Talulah"
"Father is hosting a party to try and convince people to give them more money and he wants both you and me there to boost his wholesome family image" Talulah spoke with a mock cheerful, borderline childish, tone before switching back to her normal voice. "Ya know, play the role of the daughter who wants to go into police work because she so admires her respectable and courageous daddy"
"Oh great, so he just wants us to go to his stupid event, stand next to him, and sing his praises?"
"Yup. He plans to call you tomorrow morning, before your classes start, to drill you on what answers you'll give to people"
"That's annoying as hell, but it's not like this is the first time we've done this, did you really feel the need to mentally prepare me for just that?"
"I thought it wouldn't hurt if you heard it from me first"
"Thanks, I guess. When is this stupid thing, anyway?"
"No problem! It's the 20th, so not next Saturday, but the one after"
"Two weeks to prepare. Alright not bad. Well, thanks again for the heads up, I'd love to hear more about you and how you're doing but unfortunately, I have classes in the morning, so..."
"Totally get it! Can't have you falling asleep in class. We can catch up later!"
"Absolutely. I really do want to hear more about how you're doing, Talulah. It sucks that this is the first time we've talked in weeks and it's about something like this"
"I know, we've both been busy but cheer up, we'll find time"
"Yeah" Ch'en smiled sadly, she had been busy with school and Talulah had been busy with... whatever it is Talulah does these days, and they hadn't had time to really sit and talk with each other in a while. She really did miss her sister. "I'll talk to you later, okay?"
"Ah, wait, actually, before you go" Something about the tone of her voice raised alarms in Ch'en's head.
"There's one more thing..." Talulah trailed off nervously and Ch'en could immediately tell that whatever her sister was about to say next was probably the real reason she thought to call in advance.
"He's demanding you come with a plus one to show a more, um, 'feminine' side"
"He really, really wants to force the family image. It's all the rage these days, don'tcha know? Also, he thinks it's sad that you're still single at this age. Ok bye!"
"Wait no don't you dare hang up after that! Tal! Talulah! Fucker" Ch'en growled and threw her phone onto her bed, pacing back and forth in her room. Leave it to Talulah to throw that information in at the very end and then hang the fuck up on her. Just as she was missing Talulah she was reminded of how utterly obnoxious she is. (That's a lie, it didn't change anything, she still missed her). Suddenly, what Talulah had actually said fully hit her. A date. She needed to bring a date. Of course, of course her stupid old man would want her to bring a date. Of course it wouldn't look good for his daughter to just be training to be a police officer, no, she had to show she could be a good girlfriend too. A woman being a police officer was just progressive enough for him to be okay with it, appeal to a more modern audience and all that, but a single female police officer was pushing it. Honestly, she was surprised he had never forced the issue before.
Ch'en's phone startled her out of her thoughts as it began ringing and she stared at it with disdain. Tomorrow, Talulah said he would call tomorrow, didn't she? Was Ch'en so tired that she misheard somehow? Please no. God no. Maybe her father just decided to deal with this early. The phone continued ringing. Seriously? Really? She just got off the phone with Talulah and already this was happening? She needed more time! She was not ready to have this conversation with her dad. Actually, she was not ready to have any conversation ever with her dad, but, like, specifically this one was not something she wanted to do. The phone kept ringing before eventually going to voicemail.
"Ch'en, pick up your damn phone"
Swire. Thank God.
"Seriously if you don't pick up in the next three seconds I'm going to-"
"What do you need, you pest?"
"PEST?!?! Whatever, I'm in a forgiving mood today so I'll let that slide"
"Well don't you sound even more happy to hear me than usual"
"Sorry, it's not you. My sister just called and told me some shit about dad wanting me to come to an event and that I have to bring a date with me so I'm a bit..."
"Oof, that sucks"
"Thanks. What were you calling me for, again?"
"I'm having trouble with some of the questions on the psych assignment we got and I thought that maybe my good pal, my great friend, my wonderful bestie, could help me by perhaps sharing some of her bountiful wisdom?"
"You letting me call you a pest slide makes more sense now. Alright, I'll see what I can do"
"Thank you~ Look, classes let out early on Friday, right? Why don't we go shopping to get you an outfit together and we can talk about how to handle this whole 'needing a date thing', okay?"
"Alright, sounds like a plan. Thank you, Swire. Just send me what you have and I'll help you where I can"
"Not a problem! Convincing you to ditch homework and go shopping with me sounds like more of a win for me than anything. Meet me at the mall on Friday at 2:00"
"Seriously. Don't you dare cancel last minute because of homework or something"
"I'm Serious, Ch'en"
"Go to bed, Swire"
"You're still gonna look over my work though, right?"
"Yes. Go to bed"
"Telling me to go to bed. Filthy fucking hypocrite"
Ch'en ended the call, ignoring Swire still mumbling curses and threats at her on the other end, and plugged her phone into its charger. Setting her alarm for the next morning, Ch'en sat up for a couple more hours to finish her own work and look over Swire's before she decided to call it a night and go to bed, God knows she would need the rest to take her father's call tomorrow.
A date. How the hell was she supposed to get a date in two weeks? Her entire life had always been her work and now she had to not only get a date but then bring said date to her horrible family event. There was no way this wasn't going to end in a complete disaster for her and whatever poor soul she had to drag with her.