Chapter 8 - In the Name of Science
You know… I thought movies were supposed to be like…the ideal date destination.
You go to them specifically to ignore them, and then proceed to take advantage of the dark and noise level to, well, take advantage of your date.
People just don't accept invitations to the cinema unless they want to find themselves morally compromised in an erotically public scenario.
Or am I totally off base on that?
I've been operating on that assumption for a pretty long time now, anyway. With a pretty high success rate so far, I might add.
Every streak must get broken, I guess.
It's not that Aya's being off-putting or anything. This date could be going a lot worse. He didn't even shrug me off when I pretended I needed to stretch my arm and then accidentally let it drape around the back of his seat. Which honestly would have been an expected reaction. In fact, had he followed up with punching me in the face I can't say I would have been shocked or anything. So…good, right? I mean, coming from Aya, not causing you immediate excruciating pain in response to violating his personal bubble is a borderline love confession.
But you see, the thing is…while one might have interpreted his lack of a negative reaction as something positive… I think the real truth of the matter is that he's simply too absorbed in the movie to have really noticed.
Can you believe that?! He's actually into this movie.
I mean…come on.
This isn't a good movie.
It's not even the kind of bad movie that's actually good, just because it's so bad it's kinda funny. You know what I mean? I rather dig those, if I do admit.
No. It's just plain bad. I've been trying to think of a more intelligent way of describing it, but 'idiotic' is pretty much the only descriptor to rapidly spring to mind.
And I don't exactly have the highest standards around either.
I sigh loudly, and get hushed by the enormous lady who's supposed to be sitting next to me, but has been steadily encroaching into my personal space for two-thirds of the movie. If Aya calls me out on my seduction attempt, at least I'll be able to claim I was physically forced into violating his space as a survival tactic.
Aside from bored, I'm feeling a bit queasy. I've eaten a really unfortunate quantity of popcorn. I didn't mean to, but I just haven't been able to stop myself from repetitively reaching for it. I keep hoping that Aya will accidentally go for some at the same time and we'll have one of those cliché electric hand brushing moments in the popcorn carton.
I suspect he's actually forgotten we even have popcorn. He hasn't eaten any since the opening credits. He's too enraptured with paying attention to the cheesy dialog.
"Oh Zarthax…." A tearful broad with radioactive hair is sniffling on the screen, "There's no way we'll get the plasma converters repaired before critical meltdown. We'll never make it back to the present before Lord Quindeg finishes his ahnil-a-tron device. The universe is doomed."
"We'll have to make a new future. Here in the past," replies Stoic McHotPants, or whatever the leading alien dude's name is. I can't say I've been paying enough attention to catch it.
Oh, right, Zarblax. Or…something.
Anyway, I haven't watched a movie this lame since Jurassic Love swept theaters.
…Except, actually, I don't think that movie really was that bad. It did have that great bit where the annoying sidekick got stepped on by the allosaurus. Yeah, that was golden. This movie could improve itself by taking a cue from that one. Where's a giant tentacled insectoid space-chicken or two when you need one?
I turn to Aya to make a snarky mocking comment about the movie
(Pretty much any bad movie can be improved with a little snarky improvising. Everyone knows that.)
I'm stopped dead in my tracks though.
Perhaps it is just my warped imagination, but Aya…
Yeah, that's gotta be my imagination.
Because there's just no way Aya's eyes are moist right now. He is totally not getting all choked up because some space-babe and space-dude are trapped in the past and can't save the world from a space-death-ray.
Maybe this movie is so bad it bored me into an alternate dimension.
One where the automaton known as Aya Fujimiya is actually capable of…you know…emoting.
Ha ha, yeah right.
When I'm with a chick, and she gets emotional, that's totally my cue to provide a manly shoulder for her to cry on. Time to commence phase two of project Subtly-Invade-Aya's-Personal-Space.
The arm I have around the back of Aya's chair gets a bit less drapey and a little more grabby.
And my efforts are almost immediately rewarded! Aya just put his hand on my leg. Yeah baby!!!
I knew I was irresistible. Even someone as cranky and frigid as Aya is powerless against the ol' Kudoh charm™. I link my fingers with his and go back to not-really-watching the movie with a stupid grin on my face. This is totally like being in high school again. How nostalgic!
It's a good thing this is going so well, because I've decided I'm going to have to one-up my original plan here. When I asked him out to dinner all I thought it would require was to booze him up a little and then make out. I was pretty sure that's all it would take to smack my common sense back into reality and prove that I am most definitely a chicks-only kind of cat. But since this movie has sucked so much I've used the time to really mull the situation over. I've reached the conclusion that merely making out would most definitely be a mistake.
I mean, when you really think about it, mouths aren't really all that different, are they? Kissing a guy versus a girl probably isn't all that drastically jarring…not unless he was some big gnarly lumberjack with a bush on his face or something.
(No offense to lumberjacks, I think you're all upstanding gentlemen. Really. I just have no interest in snogging your faces.)
In fact, not only would kissing Aya probably not be world-alteringly different, but it would more likely than not yield some sort of disturbing false positive on my little test here.
'Cause when you really think about it, Aya just doesn't do things half-assed.
You know what I mean?
If he bothers to do something, he makes sure he's the best.
Best swordsman. Best florist. Best…um. Best…grumpy person.
Yeah, anyway. He pretty much excels at everything.
Well, except conversation skills. But hey, I don't expect everyone to be perfect.
The odds still seem stacked in his favor that Aya's probably a world championship kisser.
No, really. I bet he is!
So the fact is, if I stopped at only kissing Aya, I'd probably be left with the deluded impression that I do in fact dig men.
And we all already know that's totally ludicrous.
So really, I have no choice. I have to sleep with him. In the name of science. There is simply no other way to prove for certain that my ridiculous infatuation with my teammate here is simply the result of pheromone-induced-insanity and that the physical reality will be utterly repulsive to me.
If only I had been this dedicated to my school assignments!
So anyway, I'm sitting here, still not watching the movie, and re-doubling my efforts to melt him into a puddle of fuck-able goo by intimately rubbing the insides of his wrists which are so conveniently occupying my lap right now. He seems to like it. At least his hands seem to like it.
Which is why I'm kind of caught off guard when he abruptly announces that he needs to head to the restroom.
Ooh, is that some kind of invitation? To...you know... rendezvous?
...Except his voice doesn't sound very...invitation-y.
And..well. I gotta admit it's a little weird how he's managed to leave without taking his hands with him.
I look down.
...Maybe I just haven't been paying close enough attention, but I'm fairly certain Aya isn't in the habit of wearing bright fuchsia nail polish.
And even if that were in fact a detail I'd neglected to pick up on....I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be the type to embellish his painted nails with tiny decorative rhinestones....
I mean, it would be totally impractical for our brand of lifestyle. The little crystals would chip off in about five seconds on a mission.
My mind is kind of rambling now because it doesn't want to own up to the consequences that I've just spent the past twenty minutes unwittingly flirting with the horrendous specimen of the female species who's been sitting to my right all through the movie.
I glance up and she winks at me.
I let go of her bejeweled digits like they've burned me and wordlessly invite myself to join Aya in the bathroom.
I don't really expect to find him with his head under the faucet when I meet him there.
"Um," I say smoothly as he shoots me a strange look. Or maybe the look was only strange because he had water dripping into his eyes. Hard to say. "I had to pee."
"Thanks for sharing," he mutters as he towels off his face.
"You okay?" I ask with genuine concern. I have to admit, I'm rather impressed that the movie inspired such a heart-wrenching emotional reaction from my date that he had to retreat to wash his face and recompose himself.
"Yes," he replies. "It was just some salt."
Huh? I have to admit I find that explanation totally baffling. Salt? As in salty tears? "Come again?"
"Salt," he repeats, "from the popcorn. I accidentally rubbed my eye after eating some."
"You got...salt in your eye?" I deduct brilliantly.
"Yes," he reconfirms. And gives me a weird evaluating look as if I'm a two-year-old who's never talked before.
"You weren't…uh...feeling...emotional?" I ask, just to be sure.
"No," he says frowning, "why would I be?"
"Because Baberella's stuck in the past and can't stop the anihl-a-tron device!" I explain. Heck, that totally bums me out, and I wasn't even paying attention!
"Baberella?" he echoes, slightly vacantly.
"You know...the girl with glowy chartreuse hair."
"You mean Belthrac?" he asks, seemingly puzzled and stating a name that seems mildly reminiscent of something I've just heard in the movie.
"Um...." I try to remember.
"The one who looks like the girl you allegedly slept with?" he clarifies.
"Bingo." I can't help beaming. He's been paying attention!
I knew he cared.
"I can't say I'm feeling urgent concern for her predicament, no."
Really? The heartless bastard!
Er, no, not really. I'd rather he cared about me than her. Heh.
"Why not?" I ask, with authentic curiosity.
"Because she's vapid and two-dimensional," he explains. "If the fate of the universe really rested on someone like her, we'd be royally screwed."
"She didn't seem two-dimensional to me." I can't help disputing. I mime a gesture in front of my chest to remind Aya of the fact that she had sported nature-defyingly glorious knockers. Didn't he even notice? "In fact, I'd argue she had more dimension than any other character."
"I was talking about her personality," he responds with an irritated eye roll.
"Oh." I say. "Point taken."
Aya looks as though he's about to return to the theater and I panic a little, having no desire whatsoever to sit back down next to my amorous seatmate.
"So dumb blondes aren't really your type then?" I improvise.
He stops and gives me another strange look, as if that question had totally come out of left field. Maybe I should start a score card or something. This could make a good drinking game.
"What?" he asks.
"Dumb blondes," I repeat, trying to scope out a better feel for what's going to get through to Aya. I guess I can check Baberella off the list. "Not your type then, huh?"
"Why do you keep asking?" he probes, eyes slightly narrowing.
"Well, yanno, the alien chick doesn't seem to be doing it for you," I shrug.
"She's not blonde," he points out.
"What? Yes she is."
"No…" he says slowly. "She's not. You pointed out yourself that she's…chartreuse."
"Oh, right," I say, feeling like an idiot for forgetting already. "But the actress is. That's what I meant."
"I wouldn't know," he mutters.
"You wouldn't know if they're your type?" I ask, surprised. I was pretty sure Aya would be rather convicted on the subject matter. Whatever his type actually is, aside from what he'd already half admitted was quiet.
"No," he says with an exasperated sigh. "I wouldn't know anything about the actress. I don't care about celebrities. They're all the same to me."
He fixes me with a stare. "And your assumption would be correct. Not my type," he says firmly. "At all."
His eye contact totally sucks, by the way. Instead of meeting my eyes he's totally staring at the top of my head.
I need to work on how I phrase my questions to this guy. He really has an uncanny ability for effortlessly twisting them into insults.
Which is all the more reason I need to redouble my efforts here, and speed up the process of dispelling the notion that I'm somehow in love with him. Being in love with Aya Fujimiya is proving to be a serious pain in the ass. No wonder he's been single for as long as I've known him.
I'm starting to suspect that his type is nonexistent.
"So you're not loving this movie either?" I good naturedly pretend that I didn't pick up on the fact that he just implied I'm mentally deficient.
"Not so much," he replies, tone bored.
"Then why don't we skip the rest and go get coffee?" I suggest. Oh yeah. Coffee is totally the deal sealer on successful dates.
"You don't want to see how it ends?" Aya sounds mildly surprised.
"I think it's rude to disrupt the other patrons by reentering the theater in the middle of the movie," I explain virtuously.
"How considerate of you."
"Considerate is my middle name," I beam. Hey, it never hurts to sell yourself a little.
"You don't have a middle name," he points out phlegmatically.
"I—" I'm a little thrown at the fact Aya would know that. "How would you know that? I've never told you anything about…" anything "…that."
"I've read your file."
I gape incompetently and find myself repeating him. "You've read my file?"
"I've read everyone's files," he states matter-of-factly.
"Uh…how'd you manage to pull that off?" Curiosity almost manages to override my dismay at this revelation.
"All you have to do is ask Manx," he explains. "She gave them to me."
"I have asked Manx," I say frowning.
"And she wouldn't give them to you?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.
"Hm," his grunt has a thoughtful edge to it. "That's interesting."
I don't find that interesting. I find that an outrage. Kritiker seriously needs to start offering complaint forms. I have some feedback to give them.
"So in that case you know…"
"…Everything." He smugly cuts me off.
Hm, smug Aya is kinda frightening, come to think of it.
"…Even the fertilizer incident?" I ask, horrified.
"Unfortunately," he confirms.
"I thought I did a pretty good job of covering that one up," I say sheepishly.
"Well that sucks." I'm not sure what else to say to that.
"Believe me," Aya grimaces, "if I could unlearn some of the things I read in your file, I'd gratefully choose ignorance."
"You and me both, baby." I try to smile wistfully, but it comes out sort of messed up.
"If you ever call me baby again, you're going to find yourself with a bruised larynx," Aya scowls.
"Now you're sounding more like the Aya Fujimiya I know and love," I grin at him.
"Shut the fuck up, Kudoh."
My mind instantly kicks into gear coming up with a way to twist his insult into an innuendo when I decide that I'm not actually making any progress here. Abort. Revert to derailed plan.
"So anyway," I lean back against the paper towel dispenser and pretend I've already forgotten that whole conversation even happened, "coffee, yeah?"
"If you wanted coffee you could have ordered some in the restaurant," he's still scowling.
"The point of getting coffee isn't to drink coffee," sheesh I can't believe I even have to explain this to him, "it's the ambience of the atmosphere that's perfect for spending quality time with your date."
Man, it's a good thing he agreed to go out with me. I didn't realize how badly my teammate needed a crash course in dating 101.
"I told you this isn't a date," he glares.
"…So you said before agreeing to go to the movies with me," it's now my turn to be smug. "But you just keep telling yourself that."
"Do you have some sort of bet going with Ken?" he asks, glare intensifying.
I shake my head.
"Ken has a bet with Omi?"
"No. Why would I even bother to get involved with something like that?"
"You're trying to prove something to one of your girlfriends," he surmises.
"Negative," I try to defer him from his ego-crushing conjectures. "So are you in or what? Don't try to pretend you don't like coffee, I know you do."
He pulls out his phone to check the time and then shoots me a pained look. "It's late," he states, "It'll be hard to find a café that's open this hour."
"We can get coffee at a bar," I suggest. Rather ingeniously I think.
Hm, maybe it's just my imagination acting up again, but I believe Aya just twitched. I thought he'd gotten over that whole nervous tick thing.
"And this is where you attempt to drag me into some sleazy gay bar, isn't it?" he asks. At least I think he's asking. His voice is so flat and monotone I can barely catch the inflection.
I don't immediately respond because honestly, the idea had never occurred to me!
Why didn't that occur to me, anyway? That's a superb idea.
Probably because I've never been to one. Hmm. I thought I'd been everywhere. Hoshit, there's a whole dimension to Tokyo's night scene that I've never even tapped! That's totally uncool. This needs to be remedied. ASAP.
"There aren't any acceptable ones in walking distance," he says, crossing his arms. "And the trains stop running at eleven."
I still don't answer, but this time it's because he's just rendered me speechless by disclosing that not only does he know some (unlike yours truly,) but he's apparently some sort of a connoisseur. Holy fuck.
"Cab fare would be murder," he continues, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I've just become mute by shock.
I seriously can't believe this. And all this time I've been operating on the assumption that Aya is not only straight but boring.
Hot damn. This changes a few things.
"I get to pick the bar," Aya concludes without any prompting from my part whatsoever. "You brought cash too, right?"
"Stop staring at his ass," Aya hisses at me from across the tiny (and slightly sticky) tabletop. "You're being creepy."
I ignore the complaint in favor of finishing my ass-gazing. I can't help it! I'm trying to figure out what the hell that guy's wearing. I mean seriously. I've never seen such shiny pants before. Is that Mylar? But it has no seams. How'd he get them on? I thought I was personally an expert on tight clothes, but honestly, I can't deduct how that man managed to dress himself without some sort of voodoo ritual sacrifice involved.
...Not that I would rule that out.
I'm not sure whether to feel impressed or uncomfortable.
When in doubt, I tend to go with impressed.
"I can't believe they let the waiters dress like that," I mumble into my freshly delivered coffee.
"He wasn't a waiter," Aya informs me.
"What do you mean he wasn't a waiter?" I do a double-take, but the man in the mercury britches has already vanished. Jesus, how the fuck does someone that shiny vanish?! If he wasn't a waiter then clearly I can only deduce that he must have either been a stripper or a ninja.
Or possibly both.
That would be kind of awesome if he were both. I wonder if there are any ninja-strippers out there? There's gotta be, right? I mean if the world's got florist-assassins in it, there must be at least one ninja-stripper. And if not, that's a void that seriously needs filling.
I'd volunteer if my schedule wasn't already so full.
"He brought me my coffee," I state obviously, after taking a sip to make sure that it matches my order. It's spot on.
"He intercepted your drink by bribing the real waiter…." Aya nods vaguely towards a scruffy guy in black slacks leaning against the bar. Who does in fact look a helluva lot more waiterish than Mr. Shiny Pants. Except for the fact that he's doing absolutely nothing. "…So he could hit on you," Aya continues. "And by how much time you just spent checking him out, I'd say he thinks you accepted. He's probably in the back room waiting for you to show up."
And so we experience yet another one of those brilliant moments where I find myself just gaping at Aya.
"You need to start paying better attention," he continues. "He could have been a rival assassin. Your coffee could be poisoned. You're not going to make it to thirty."
I choke slightly on the aforementioned beverage.
Aya gives me a long hard stare. "Twenty-five," he amends.
Wow. Does my redheaded companion know how to kill the mood or what?
I look at my coffee suspiciously but if Aya's speculation were to be true, I'd have already nailed my own coffin shut. I took at really big swig of it.
"At least I'll leave a good looking corpse," I attempt to joke.
Aya doesn't laugh. Or even smile (shocking.) He stirs his own coffee, even though he didn't bother to add anything to it.
"So are you going back there?" he interjects.
"What, to meet that guy?" I'm a little disturbed that Aya even felt he needed to ask. Do I look like someone who'd be into hooking up with random dudes wearing nothing but silver paint? Or dudes period?
"Hell no!" I say indignantly. "What makes you think I would?"
"You were rather transfixed by his ass," he shrugs.
"I was transfixed by his pants," I correct him. "They were…interesting. I care about fashion."
Aya arches an eyebrow and for the first time all evening finally acknowledges my carefully selected shirt. "Obviously."
What the hell is that supposed to mean. I will be the first to admit that Aya surpasses me in quite a lot of fields. But if the guy who only owns one sweater, of which he wears every freaking day thinks he has room to critique my wardrobe, I've got news for him.
"I'd go back there with you," I announce loudly. Time to stop being subtle.
Aya just keeps stirring his coffee.
So I just keep staring at him.
And staring at him….
Wow. It's really hard not to blink when you make the effort, come to think of it.
"It's disgusting back there." Aya finally breaks the stand-off. "You don't want to go back there with anyone."
"What, you've been?!" I don't mean to sound so shocked. Or appalled. Or…naïve.
"I've been lots of places," Aya says impassively. "And I'm sure you have, likewise."
I'm too busy trying to visualize what type of random freakazoids Aya might have been hooking up with in disgusting back-rooms to spare any attention to any of that statement. A quick glance around the bar gives my imagination some fuel to work with.
There isn't a single person here I'd want touching me with a ten foot pole. There isn't a single person here I'd want touching Aya with a twenty foot pole.
This…should be progress, right? Thinking about Aya with unappetizing strange men should be a huge turn off. And I'm here because I want Aya turned off. This is operation get-over-Aya, remember? Right.
…So how come instead of turned off and disgusted, I just feel overwhelmingly motivated to kill every other person in the room?
This is something, but it definitely isn't progress.
"So you'd be up for it if we went somewhere else?" I persist.
"Up for what?" Aya asks, eyes narrowing.
"You know," geeze is Aya really this dense? "Me."
Yes, apparently Aya is 'that dense.'
…Or fucking with me.
"Clarify," he says dryly.
"I thought that was pretty direct," I say, frustrated.
"Not really," he asserts and takes a sip of coffee.
"You are gay, aren't you?" I guess it's time he clarifies things a little.
I didn't think it was possible for Aya to look 'innocent' but he's doing a damn good imitation all of the sudden. "What makes you think that?"
"Well," I say looking around the room. "For starters you took me here."
"You've had no objection to being here," Aya says smugly. "Are you gay?"
"Hell no!" I say reflexively.
"Then don't assume things," he replies.
"That's not an answer!"
Aya just gives me a maddeningly indecipherable look. "You should have read my file."
Alright, that's it. Aya is most definitely fucking with me. I can't take any more of this bullshit. Time to resort to more drastic measures.
"Excuse me," I say to Aya as I hastily dispatch myself from the table.
Another sweeping glance at the crowd here doesn't leave me feeling particularly inspired. I walk over to the first guy whose physical appearance doesn't especially make me want to vomit.
(There's a surprising shortage of candidates that qualify.)
"You'll do," I say.
"Excuse me?" says my victim-erm-new acquaintance.
"How's your schedule looking for the next five minutes?" I ask with a grin.
Instead of answering he actually pulls out a day planner.
Oh you have got to be kidding me.
"I'm booked in two minutes," he says checking off something on the obscured page. "Whatever you want, you better be quick."
"Um," I say, thrown a bit. "Wanna make out?"
"Hm," he says, checking me over. "I don't know. I'll have to think about that."
Seriously? No girl has ever given me that answer before.
"But I thought you only have two minutes," I say, wondering just how quickly this guy thinks.
"Yep," he confirms, energetically fingering his pencil. "How does Thursday sound? I can maybe-or-maybe-not make out with you on Thursday."
"Waiting until Thursday kind of defeats the point," I say with a frown.
"Point?" he questions.
"Yeah," I explain, more than just a little bit irritated. "I'm trying to make my boyfriend jealous. I need somebody to make out with now."
"Ew, drama." He rolls his eyes and scribbles something out in his planner. "Never mind then, my schedule's full for Thursday too." He snaps his book shut to emphasize his point. "Sorry, Bro, your two minutes are up."
"No great loss," I mutter under my breath as I turn to walk away. My efforts are foiled though as he suddenly grabs my arm.
"Hey," he says, giving me a more scrutinizing inspection. "Aren't you that guy that Sigvald was looking for?"
"Sigvald?" I ask, totally confused. Who the hell is Sigvald?
"Yeah, Sigvald," he says impatiently. "You know, he's…well…Sigvald. Everyone knows Sigvald."
"Not me," I reply blankly. "I have never met anyone by the name of…" I pause, not even sure I can pronounce it correctly. "…Sigvald."
"You're new here, aren't you?" he says with a sigh.
"Well you're definitely the one Sigvald was talking about," he says, his gaze lingering just a little too long on my custom engraved rodeo belt buckle. "And you're totally his type, too."
This guy is definitely wearing my patience out. "What type would that be?"
"A complete tool," he remarks cheerfully.
Okay, the party is officially over. Yohji Kudoh has had quite enough abuse for one night, thanks. My fist starts swinging entirely on its own accord.
…And is very abruptly halted in midair.
"We're going home," Aya's brusque voice cuts through the chatter of the bar.
He doesn't have to tell me that twice.
Although he apparently isn't aware of that, as I notice that he doesn't let go of the death grip on my wrist after thwarting my attempt to clock Sigvald's little minion there. I am all too happy to let him drag me away.
"Hey!" the planner freak taunts after us. "Your boyfriend's hot! I'd have five minutes to spare for him!"
"What's that about?" Aya asks with a frown.
"I think he was insane."
"Hn," Aya doesn't look back, so neither do I.
I follow him all the way to the door of his room. Where he stops and stares at me expectantly.
Probably waiting for me to leave.
"Yes?" he inquires, hand on the doorknob.
I consider briefly for a moment letting actions speak louder than words.
Then I decide I value my life too much.
"I had a nice time," I say, exaggerating just a little bit.
Maybe more than a little bit.
He nods, though I'm not sure if that's some sort of agreement, or just acknowledgement that he heard me.
"Want to come back to my room for a nightcap?" I add. A little desperately, I'll admit.
"I think there have been more than enough drinks for one night, Yohji," he says, opening the door. "Goodnight."
I stand there blankly staring at the bare wood for a good ten minutes after he's shut it in my face.
At least he didn't call me Kudoh.
(Bac to Chapter 7)
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