Terry knew Ryuuji Otogi as that girly Asian guy in his third hour who wasn't good at math. To Terry's knowledge, Ryuuji also wasn't so hot in the English department, either. The guy didn't talk a whole lot, and yet it hadn't taken him long to develop a following of devoted fangirls. Dana, too, had been swept away. All she ever talked about was how she had helped Ryuuji find the principal's office, how she had helped Ryuuji order lunch, how she thought Ryuuji was the most polite and perfect guy ever, how come Terry wasn't more like Ryuuji, how much Terry could learn from Ryuuji. Terry had been mature about this for maybe five seconds, then accused Dana of being gay for loving such a girly guy. Dana had simply chalked the comment up to how much Terry stood to improve. And anyway, she didn't love Ryuuji. Terry was her boyfriend, and for better or worse she stuck by him. He needed to learn to appreciate her more.
How much would Terry bet that Ryuuji would supposedly appreciate her more? The guy was making Terry sick, and they'd never spoken.
"On the bright side, I'm really improving in Japanese class," said Dana over lunch, once again counting the ways existing in the same universe as Ryuuji improved her life. "I mean, I just took the class on a whim when I couldn't get film as literature. Who would have known I would ever need it? I'm so happy I studied. I can really help Ryuuji overcome the language barrier."
Terry grunted in response and wondered why evil didn't typically terrorise the city in the mid-afternoon. Lunch with the Ryuuji fangirls was slowly yet surely killing him. Through some sick twist of fate, it had been determined that his girlfriend's friends would succeed where super-terrorists and criminal masterminds before them had failed. Ryuuji was obviously a major threat to mankind…specifically mankind. Terry was helpless.
"Oh, I wish I were taking Japanese right now. The Japanese guys are so cute," Chelsea said enviously. It was debatable how many Japanese people Chelsea had even actually seen before Ryuuji. "But then, body language is universal."
"Chelsea! You are not going to seduce Ryuuji. That's not fair."
"You only say that because you don't have a chance."
"Are you idiots talking about the Japanese kid?" Max butted in, sliding into the seat across from Terry. Terry looked up at her hopefully.
"Yes, Chelsea wants to bag him," Terry explained.
To Terry's immediate dismay, Max's face lit up. "I hear the guy's loaded. He invents games and runs an international gaming corporation. Works with Kaiba Corp on graphics and holograms, which means it's some of the best stuff out there. I'd really like to meet that kid. Care to introduce us, Dana? My Japanese is nonexistent." Terry was looking at her like she'd kicked him. "What? I like games."
That wasn't the point. She was one of them. Terry absolutely couldn't believe it. He'd lost his trusted Max to the overwhelming force of Ryuuji Otogi. What potent force of evil was that guy? There was no escaping him. Not even….
…Not even as Batman.
"His name's Ryuuji Otogi. He recently began attending Hamilton High. Have you heard of him?" Mr. Wayne asked. Several answers came to Terry's mind in an instant. None of them were very professional.
"…Yes," he managed, though he wasn't sure how.
"Well," continued Mr. Wayne, noting Terry's clenched teeth which said more than Terry knew, "as far as his criminal history goes, he's pretty clean. His father used Ryuuji to kidnap a kid named Yuugi Motou a few years ago, but Ryuuji didn't follow through in the end. Their relationship is strained, possibly abusive before his father was committed to a Domino City mental hospital back in Japan. Whenever the old man is transferred, Ryuuji follows and precedes his father's arrival by two to three weeks to put the paperwork in order."
"So the guy's moving his father to Gotham?"
"His father's doctor is moving Mr. Otogi to Gotham," Mr. Wayne corrected him. "The man has a unique case of schizophrenia and is useful for study."
"Where do I come in?"
"Mr. Otogi is scheduled to arrive in Gotham at the end of the week. There is evidence Ryuuji is going to try to kill him."
"What? His own father?"
"Supposedly he's attempted so much before, but pulls out almost immediately after law enforcement catches wind of what he's planning. There's no literal history of him ever trying to hurt his father. It's all suspicion that the police believe comes from his celebrity status and people trying to create stories."
"You've got to be kidding."
Wayne gave Terry a look that reminded him they'd had this discussion before. Bruce Wayne did not kid.
"But still," said Terry, "This sissy little Japanese kid who hardly speaks English and can't add is masterminding ways to off a crazy old man? I can't see him masterminding anything, really, unless it's a gravity defying hairstyle."
"Yes, I mean the same Ryuuji Otogi. For one, he posses a greater spoken English vocabulary than you do. He held the world record time for solving a Rubik's cube until last year and has extraordinary skills with just about any puzzle he's given-verbal, spatial, reasoning, logic, what have you-so he can most assuredly add. In fact, he's already graduated."
"So he's supposed to be in college?" Terry asked, pretending it wasn't a big deal. "How did he get into Hamilton?"
"Actually, he graduated Tokyo University last year in the top of his class-if you could call the group he happened to graduate with his class. As for how he got into Hamilton High, he purposely mistranslated his academic records. The screening process for Hamilton is not as sophisticated as you would like to believe. It's only a city high school."
Terry didn't think he could stand it much longer. Who the hell was Ryuuji Otogi really, and why was he so goddamn everywhere so goddamn all the time? This wasn't the same guy Dana had to coach for three days how to pronounce McGinnis. It had to be a mistake, but even he knew that while Bruce Wayne was old, he had never had a senior moment about anything.
Right then, Terry wanted sorely to punch Ryuuji in the face. He didn't know how, he just felt the overwhelming urge.
"What's my job in all of this?" asked Terry reluctantly. He knew he was going to hate the answer.
"You're going to follow Ryuuji, find out about him and whatever kind of persona he's assumed in Gotham. He's not as ignorant as he acts, he simply acts. In Japan he's known for being an enigmatic figure, very flashy and eccentric but virtually unknown. It would help if you could clear up what sort of person he is, what he's capable of. How far he's willing to put on his charade."
Terry had been right. He really hated the answer. "Why am I doing this now and not three weeks ago when he first got here?"
"Ryuuji doesn't start planning the assassination attempts until a few days before so that they are harder to track. If something's been established for weeks, it's easier to trace. Spontaneity is harder to follow."
"Great," Terry groaned. He'd never been very good with the undercover bit of investigations. On the bright side, at least he wasn't pretending to be a kid selling pizzas. That had blown up in his face. He was, however, going to have to pretend to actually want to hang around with Ryuuji. If Terry could maintain that for longer than ten minutes, he was going pack his bags and move to Hollywood. Crime fighting be damned.
"Wear a communicator as well. I don't trust you to read Ryuuji Otogi impartially."
Terry's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Why don't you trust me?"
Mr. Wayne smiled, which was never boded well for Terry. It meant he was about to say something that made Terry look like an idiot. "He's fooled you so far, hasn't he?"
Terry frowned and, appropriately, felt like an idiot. This was totally unschway.
"I'm so happy you want to talk to Ryuuji, Terry. I've told him so much about you."
"You've told me plenty about him, too," Terry ceded through nearly clenched teeth. He wondered if Ryuuji hated him just as much as he hated Ryuuji. He would, if Dana told him half as much as she told Terry. "And anyway, it was Max's idea."
Max grinned. "Meeting one of the most famous names in international gaming? Hell yes."
Arranging to meet Ryuuji Otogi had not been difficult at all. In fact, Terry had hardly needed to ask, seeing that Dana and half the Japanese class were itching to introduce Ryuuji to everyone.
"I'm surprised you and Ryuuj have never talked, Terry. You sit right by to him in third hour."
"It just doesn't come up," Terry partially lied. He made sure it never came up.
"Well, I'm sure you'll have something to talk about now. You just needed to be introduced," said Dana, who was typically optimistic as long as it didn't involve Terry running late for a movie or dinner. She turned to Ryuuji who had just entered Cheesy Dan's. After a few sentences in Japanese where Terry only recognised his and Max's names, Ryuuji was sitting down and smiling across the table.
"Hello. It is nice to meet you," Ryuuji said in a thick accent Terry had trouble believing was contrived. Max immediately jumped into conversation about games, gaming retail, and virtual reality. Ryuuji needed help every so often to keep up with Max's lightening-fast English jargon and quips, but was otherwise perfectly relaxed and conversational. He seemed like a nice guy who half understood English. Terry had to blink and look twice to find any proof that this wasn't the actual Ryuuji. Maybe Ryuuji Otogi was some insanely popular name in Japan and Mr. Wayne had gotten it wrong.
For obvious reasons, Terry couldn't convince himself Mr. Wayne had gotten anything wrong, no matter how much he wanted to. Terry made some comment about how, sure, dice were great, and watched the way Ryuuji sipped a straw. It was maybe more than a little girly, Terry thought. Thirty minutes later, his opinion of Ryuuji had changed from overly effeminate to flaming homosexual. He excused himself and went to the bathroom.
"He's gay," said Terry in horror. "Did you see that?"
Somehow, Mr. Wayne made the act of rolling his eyes audible. "Terry, you aren't suppose to use this link to complain to me about the suspect."
"What is up with girls and the gay guys?"
There was no answer. Mr. Wayne was ignoring him.
"I'm talking to you. How do I get information out of a gay guy?"
There was silence. Then, "Tell him he has nice hair. He clearly spends a lot of time on it. Trust me, Terry, you need the advice."
He could hear the old man chuckle evilly. "What?" Terry demanded. "You think you're clever? That is so not funny."
This time Mr. Wayne was entirely gone. Terry heard the fuzz as the line disconnected. Damn the one way option on the communicator. "I know you can hear me," Terry said. It was useless, but he felt better saying it.
"Ryuuji asked if you're feeling all right. You were in the bathroom a long time," said Dana when Terry returned to the table.
"I'm fine," Terry lied. Ryuuji looked at him suspiciously. For a second, Terry thought maybe Ryuuji had somehow figured everything out. Then, he noticed the investigative looked was more medically evaluating than threatening. So what if Terry was not a great liar under duress? He liked to believe it was a good thing. The fact that Ryuuji was concerned didn't make him comfortable, because, goddamn it, it was Ryuuji.
Terry spent the rest of the evening trying not to look across the table and nearly bolted when Mr. Wayne called him to leave. Dana, of course, was irritated Terry had to go from such a promising get together, but Terry just couldn't ignore old Mr. Wayne, could he? What if he had a stroke or something?
Amidst Dana's irritated explanation to Ryuuji, and Max's inquiring eyebrows with the you'll-tell-me-all-about-it-later grin, Terry bolted, for once thrilled he was about to be shot at in a downtown bank robbery. It beat the alternative.
"Other than your, and I emphasize, extremely biased and irrelevant presumption on the sexual identity Ryuuji Otogi has adopted, last night was worthless."
Terry had been chastised by Mr. Wayne for an hour after rescuing the holdings of the Gotham City Bank from a highly organised group of Jokers with machine guns. Apparently the financial security of Gotham's middle class paled in comparison with Terry's deficient skills of investigation.
"Well, I kind of had no idea what I trying to get out of him. Did you want me to jump into a conversation about Dungeon Dice Monsters with a brilliant ice breaker like, 'So, I hear your father is mentally unstable and you want him dead. Also, how are dice cool? Care to explain either of those things to me?' "
"That would have been more efficient than spending twenty minutes complaining to me about your fear of homosexuals. And it's Dragons, Dice, and Dungeons."
"Actually, it's marketed both ways."
Both Batmans stared off silently. Mr. Wayne, the ever professional of the two, switched quickly back to business.
"I want you here tomorrow morning, eight thirty. We're going to try again."
"I don't have class tomorrow. I'm never going to see Ryuuji."
"People don't cease to exist when you're not in class with them, Terry," said Mr. Wayne, turning to the giant computer he used to research suspects and evidence. There was a file with Ryuuji's name on it, the English after the Japanese. Terry thought of this as rather pretentious of Mr. Wayne. "He's giving a presentation about Kaiba Corp's advances in reality simulation technology to the board at Wayne-Powers. It's part of a trade off with Kaiba Corp that he gives these presentations, and he's very good."
"Really. You would wonder how the inability to speak the English language is overcome," said Terry bitterly, looking at the console image of Ryuuji smiling next to a slide show presentation with a giant KC logo on the middle. Interestingly, he looked like the exact same Ryuuji, but that may have been because Terry's only memories of Ryuuji were the guy smiling and trying optimistically to keep up with Max.
Mr. Wayne was still talking, spouting details about the two companies and how they operated. Terry's emotions finally caught on again with, "I offered to have my personal assistant drive him around tomorrow. He was thrilled. Say's you're both friends."
Terry's mouth hung open at that friends part.
"You better wear something nice," Mr. Wayne added as Terry kept staring transfixed at the screen and gaping. "And smile. God forbid you make the company look bad."
With nice clothes provided by Mr. Wayne, the only thing up to Terry was smiling. He wasn't sure how he managed it, except he kept telling himself that Ryuuji Otogi was not that bad. Ryuuji was bad, certainly, since he wanted to kill his father for knocking him around a few times and making him a spoiled, genius brat. But, it was immature to mainly hate someone just because your girlfriend didn't shut up about them. There were better reasons. Terry would find them.
"Good morning and welcome to the Wayne-mobile, guaranteed to get you anywhere you need to be, especially if that happens to be the Wayne-Powers' Tower in the next twenty minutes," said Terry brightly. Ryuuji looked mildly confused, but was smiling. Terry wanted to shoot himself.
"A good car," said Ryuuji as Terry took his place behind the wheel. Terry now wanted to shake him until he spoke more than simple, five word, minimal verb sentences in English. Instead, he did his damn job and lied to himself that Ryuuji didn't speak English and needed to be treated appropriately.
"So, how do you like Gotham?" Terry ventured, hoping Ryuuji wasn't pretending the be as bad at listening to English as he seemed to speak it. "I mean," he felt like a moron playing along, "Gotham…it's good? Yes? How you feel about city?" Terry gave up. "Slag it. How much English do you actually speak?"
Ryuuji was laughing at him. It reminded him of Mr. Wayne's laugh; low, sadistic, and much better informed. He looked back in the rear view mirror to see that Ryuuji was still grinning.
"I'm not talking like an idiot on purpose," Terry explained. He sighed hopelessly. "Do you know what I'm saying?"
"I like Gotham fine," said Ryuuji finally. Something about the choice of works caused Terry too look up for a second from the road. It didn't seem right. Ryuuji noticed the look and leaned forward confidentially.
"Shhh. Don't tell anyone, but I speak English," Ryuuji confessed in a mockingly secretive whisper, only Terry hardly heard him because he'd nearly driven off into the side of the road. Ryuuji was suddenly right behind him in his left ear. Terry was not a fan of close, furtive whispers without warning.
"What?" Terry asked, moving his head to the other end of the headrest. Ryuuji breathing on his neck was discomforting. He wondered if people spoke two inches from each other's faces in Japan frequently. And if so, what the hell and why? "When did you learn English?" he added on quickly, trying to act as if it was Ryuuji's revelation that had startled him, not Ryuui's stealthy, over-Terry's-shoulder talking.
"Wow, I didn't think you'd take it so dramatically," Ryuuji observed with another laugh. "I should buckle up next time. I suppose I ought to warn you now that I speak Japanese and Mandarin Chinese as well. Don't let it…uh…startle you. Eyes on the road, okay?"
"Why did you pretend not to speak English?" Terry asked, not sure if he was asking too soon or blowing his cover or anything at all because he wasn't thinking straight anymore. Nearly getting himself into a life altering car accident had that effect. He'd nearly veered into three lanes of high-speed traffic.
"Girls like it," said Ryuuii simply, sitting back again with a nonchalance that showed just how much he thought about these girls and their ability to act independently of what he presumed was a part of their essential nature. Terry nodded. He had to give Ryuuji that to an extent. It was true at least for Dana. Still, he'd believe Ryuuji more if he didn't also believe Ryuuji to be gay.
"You serious?" he scolded good-naturedly enough. "Don't you think the hair and the…urm, makeup…are enough for them?"
"No. Of course not.," sneered Ryuuji , carrying on the air of nonchalance that was now starting to personally insult Terry. "People are much nicer and informative when they feel inclined to help you. The best way to become acquainted with a new city is to convince the people there that they want to show you the ins and outs of it."
"Well, you certainly think a lot of other people," said Terry, not without sarcasm. Ryuuji was pleased.
"Are you angry?" Ryuuji asked. He leaned forward intently, as though completely taken with the idea. "Nice guy Mr. Terry McGinnis, friend to all and reachable after school by none but the enigmatic Mr. Bruce Wayne, can possibly display hostility towards another human being?"
Terry furrowed his brow in irritation. "I'm just saying you sound a little…cold-blooded." Terry couldn't think of a better term for it.
"No. Of course not. Never," said Ryuuji brusquely. He dismissed Terry's words and his own previous behaviour with a flourish of his hand. "I am not cold. I didn't mean to sound cold. I'm very warm. Bubbling, actually. I'm just very self-centered. I say inappropriate things. Disregard them."
Terry was looking at the road like it was sounding ridiculous and he didn't believe it. He let it know with an inquiring huh. Ryuuji continued, speaking rapidly and leaving no doubt that he was perfectly competent in English and in fact could take up the profession of auctioneer if the whole game inventor thing ever fell through. "Let's start this conversation over. Nice car. I like Gotham fine. Shhh. Don't tell anyone, but I speak English. Wow, I didn't think you'd take it so dramatically. I should buckle up next time. I suppose I ought to warn you now that I speak Japanese and Mandarin Chinese as well. Don't let it startle you. …Now you ask me why did I pretend not to speak English."
Terry sighed. Ryuuji's memory was astounding and, well, totally useless right now. "Forget I asked."
Ryuuji ignored him. "The answer anyway is that I felt like it. I wanted to. I'm selfish," Ryuuji explained. "I don't like not knowing things. I don't like a lot of people knowing how much I don't know. I pretend not to know anything. I over-think. I can't help it. I'm really just egocentric. I'm eccentric. I'm just running my mouth now and all of my sentences have begun with I. Sorry…and that one's an understood I. Pick the excuse you like better from all of that."
Was Ryuuji joking? Terry was beginning to wonder just how neurotic a person had to become until they were committed. He wondered what Ryuuji's father was like. "Are you okay?" he asked tentatively. If this brought another ramble, he was going to steer the two of them into the harbour. The trip had picked a bad time to place them on a bridge.
"I'm fine," Ryuuji said. He clamed up for the next five minutes until they reached the Wayne-Powers's building. "Thank you for driving," Ryuuji said and went inside. Terry immediately called Mr. Wayne.
"What the hell was that?"
Mr. Wayne sighed. He had anticipated this. "Most people open with a hello."
"Don't tell me you didn't hear it. The guy's a basket case," Terry said. "The guy is raving mad. He's got to be, because I don't think I've ever used the phrase 'raving mad' in my entire life until right now."
Mr. Wayne didn't say anything for a moment. Terry assumed that if they had been talking face to face right now, the old man would have given him a look and turned to think. Lacking the visual component, however, this was not as effective as it typically could be in shutting Terry up for a few minutes.
"Hey. Are you listening to me?"
"Deal with it, Terry. Not all people are easy to investigate. It's probably an elaborate ruse to throw you off. That, or he is sincerely distressed when people refer to him as cold."
"Fine," said Terry bitterly. "Call me when your meeting is over." He hung up.
An hour later, Ryuuji was back and beaming. He seemed happy with the results of his presentation. Terry wondered if he was going to talk.
"Good, you're already here," Ryuuji cheered as he approached the car. "Mr. Wayne doesn't pay you nearly enough."
A group of people from the meeting were taking lunch at Don's, a French restaurant Terry had only experienced the inside of through travel brochures and movies. Some famous chef ran the restaurant and made special dishes, so Terry could never afford it. The place was for celebrities and wealthy Wayne-Powers board members.
"Be back in an hour and half," Ryuuji instructed. Unfortunately for Terry, Mr. Wayne had insisted that Terry never leave. Instead, he nodded and agreed, but when Ryuuji was gone he stayed right where he was parked. At least it wasn't oppressively hot outside.
Mr. Wayne had arranged that the group sit at a table near the window where Terry could view the lunch. Feeling sneaky and impressive, Terry slipped on the time honoured pair of sunglasses needed to stare at people without them knowing. He assumed a non-threatening position, reclining back in his seat as if trying to catch some sleep. This type of spying was much preferable to close interaction with a subject. The fastest way to blow your cover was to open your mouth and not pay attention to what came out.
Terry smiled when he saw Mr. Wayne had somehow convinced Ryuuji to sit right at the window. He stopped smiling and closed his eyes when Ryuuj looked out and found him. Then, he remembered Ryuuji couldn't see his eyes and felt like he'd just won gold in the biggest idiot alive contest.
Muttering to himself, Terry grabbed the newspaper he never read but had brought from home, and pretended to be highly occupied with the front page. He tried to make the transition from falsely reading to falsely sleeping look totally not false just in case anyone was watching. Maybe it would be useful to sign up for the dramatic arts next term. So much of being Batman required acting. It was almost embarrassing to Terry's masculine side that could not see the badassery in proficient acting skills.
"Terry, you there?"
Terry grunted and tried to remember where he'd put that communicator. Sure, it wasn't a convenient time for Max to call, but it was more interesting than pretending to be asleep.
"Yeah. I'm busy," he said at last. How the hell did the communicator get lodged between the cushions of the navigator seat? "Can this wait?"
"Dana went to brunch three hours ago." Clearly it couldn't wait.
"She's invited to eat whenever she wants." said Terry lightly, even though his stomach had suddenly dropped onto his kidneys.
"Of course she is, but where the hell were you? You totally blipped her off."
Terry couldn't believe it. And he hated the expression blipped off. "I thought I cancelled."
"You must've forgot."
"Slag it. Where is she?"
"Where ever she is, she's probably complaining about you."
Terry knew that. "How mad is she?"
"She just called me shouting, and she scared me enough that I'm sure as hell not running out to console her. You are in a serious bind, my friend."
"Well, I'm really busy right now. Tell her…" Terry thought frantically. "Tell her I'm spending the day with Ryuuji Otogi. Something came up. She'll forgive me if it has to do with Ryuuji."
"She'd saint you if it had to do with Ryuuji. Are you lying?" Max asked suspiciously. Terry didn't usually come up with great excuses. That was her job.
"Ironically, I'm not lying."
"Really? I thought you didn't like the guy."
"Then why blip off Dana?"
"It's Wayne-related." This was Terry's equivalent to something being complicated.
"You better tell me all about that later."
"Sure," Terry lied. He trusted Max, but he couldn't tell her everything. The Otogi Case-yes, Batman didn't typically file cases under more interesting names than that-was something she didn't need to know about unless absolutely necessary. She liked the guy too much to have Terry give her the truth, that he was running surveillance on a potential murderer.
After Max had hung up, Terry placed the handset back where he'd found it. He looked back up at the luncheon and attempted to focus, but he only thought of Dana. Two weeks earlier, Dana had broken up with him. Terry had only recently been able to patch things up. Now, he'd forgotten brunch. Who the hell invented brunch? Terry had enough trouble keeping up with three meals in a day.
Ryuuji was talking now, bragging by the looks of it, to the assemblage. Possibly more confounding than the existence of brunch was that guy's stream-of-consciousness rambling. From what Terry knew of the Joker, he couldn't help but connect Ryuuji. Maybe it was Ryuuji's flamboyant nature. Maybe it was that he ran a company called Black Clown and his father was dressed like a clown in his mug shot. Maybe it was the inability to shut up. Terry had no way of knowing exactly, but suspected it had something to do with all three.
Of course, then there was the fact that Ryuuji hadn't really spoken to Terry since the ramble. He certainly hadn't spoken to Terry in the same straightforward, peculiar manner. Terry frowned and adjusted the sunglasses. Ryuuji was still talking to the table, gesticulating in a frenzy though Terry couldn't guess what he was so excited about. Ryuuji was impossible to know exactly. How did Mr. Wayne expect him to get in? Terry tried to pretend he was Bruce Wayne and asked himself, "what would Batman do?" He then realised he had no idea.
"Slag it," he muttered and went back to trying to read Ryuuji's lips instead.
"You were parked out here the entire time?" Ryuuji asked, sounding thrilled. The lunch had ended twenty minutes early, and Ryuuji did not have to worry about waiting for Terry to show up. "Mr. Wayne really doesn't pay you enough." Terry had no idea if Ryuuji even knew how much Terry was paid.
"I don't have anywhere else to be today," Terry lied. He tried to guess how many times he'd done that today. Ironically, the only time someone hadn't believe him was when he'd been telling the truth.
"Really, what about Dana?"
"She's used to not having me around a whole lot," said Terry. Did that sound cool and detached enough? Terry would kill himself if he ever sounded whiny. "Anywhere in particular you want to go now?" he asked, changing the subject. Even though Dana like to talk about Ryuuji with Terry, Terry didn't feel easy talking about Dana with Ryuuji. That Ryuuji was lying to Dana and playing her naturally helpful instincts against her may have been the reason. Talking about her with Ryuuji made Terry feel like a conspirator.
"Then I'm to assume you forgot about brunch?" asked Ryuuji. He'd never said where he wanted to go, so Terry had made the executive decision to drive them in the direction of Ryuuji's apartment.
"H-how did you know about brunch?" Terry was horrified. Had everyone remembered except him? And why did Dana tell Ryuuji about her plans with Terry anyway?
"Well, obviously your girlfriend told me. I thought you might catch up with her while I was doing my presentation, or during lunch. I even invited you to leave."
"Oh." Terry wasn't sure what else he could say.
"Sabotaging your relationship to chauffeur someone you don't like. Wow. Like I said, Wayne doesn't pay you nearly enough."
Terry would have said oh again, except he'd already used that. He wondered if he should refute Ryuuji's claim that Terry didn't like him, but it was mostly true. Terry had no reasons to support liking Ryuuji, either.
"Dana won't take it so badly if I tell her it was you," said Terry. "She likes you."
Ryuuji smirked. Knowing that Dana adored him was a joke. It was all Terry could do not to turn around and hit him. Ryuuji seemed awfully please with himself. Terry wanted to tell him something, anything that would crush him a moment and force him to realise he was basically evil and perfectly suitable for Gotham. He felt saying so much would be performing his civic duty in the utmost. Wasn't it proper to invite citizens who could best assimilate to Gotham appropriately?
"My apartment? Amazing. You're a mind reader. I needed to change into something less professional." Terry didn't know how skin tight, bizarrely coloured, and awfully too revealing clothing was professional unless your profession was prostitution, but whatever. It wasn't like Terry had stumbled into too many corporate board rooms recently. "Reverse psychology wouldn't cause you to leave if I were to ask you to wait here, would it? Wait here. I'll only be a moment."
When Ryuuji came back, Terry was astonished. The fact that he'd even noticed a change in another man's clothes was one thing. He'd never excepted Ryuuji owned anything so…well, maybe tame was the correct word. Or was old man Wayne-esque more appropriate? He almost beat Terry on the formality of it all. Terry didn't believe he'd ever seen someone his own age in the classic Gotham business tycoon suit. Ryuuji had it , though, and wore it surprisingly well. The wide trousers, long suit jacket, rectangular neckline on the pale green vest, and even a skin sucking turtle neck underneath because ties were not as in fashion as they had once been. With a careful eye to colour and composition, the outfit had been fixed with blocks of dark green and shiny silver rectangular fastenings fitting neatly inside of meticulously arranged parallel lines. Unlike most suits, however, the embellishment was fashionably understated, causing Ryuuji to look more like he'd raided the Wayne closet of Wayne-Powers professional attire. Also, he likely had the narrowest shoulders of any executive in the country.
Terry couldn't help thinking, wasn't what Ryuuji wearing right then what people typically wore to business meetings? Green and black: The simplicity of it was entirely Gotham professional. How much it match Ryuuji's natural features spoke quietly of an expensive custom tailoring.
"I half expected you to come out in buckles and chains," said Terry as Ryuuji straightened the end of the jacket he was sitting on. Ryuuji smiled sheepishly, and Terry was awed to realise the only thing that could embarrass Ryuuji was his clothing. Holy slag.
"Yes. Domino has a history of bad fashion," confessed Ryuuji, as if Domino were a relative no-one ever spoke much of on purpose. "Sort of bondage oriented, I'd think. And too much leather. Of course, on some people the Gotham fashion just looks baggy and oversized."
"I suppose so," Terry said, unconsciously straightening his tie. There was virtually no way to mess up a tie with his suit, but Terry couldn't accept that.
"I don't mean you, of course," said Ryuuji. Terry had known that. "You fit the fashion here very well."
"As weird as it sounds, you do to," Terry complimented back because it was polite. It was hard to think of Ryuuji as evil when he was dressed like Mr. Wayne. If he had dressed like Powers, then sure, bring on the evil. But no; flashy, over the top Ryuuji dressed respectably…when he wasn't doing anything where he had to dress respectably. What the hell?
"I'm giving this suit a test run. I plan on staying in Gotham for a few years, so I've got to alter my appearance and not look so off the boat. Ever realise how certain people from certain cities dress differently? Metropolis is very blue this year."
"Are you starting from the top and working down?" Terry asked bewilderedly. "People don't usually wear things like that around town."
"I know. We're going to meet my father at the airport."
Terry's heart rate immediately skyrocketed. Ryuuji's father was arriving in Gotham today? Mr. Wayne had said the end of the week. What was going on?
"Your…father?" Terry asked, feigning ignorance.
"Yes. You'll like him. He's not very fond of me, either."
Terry felt like a jerk. Was it that Ryuuji was dressed in normal, non-threatening clothing? Or was it that Terry was the sort of person who thought it was perfectly all right to despise a person until that person became aware of it, thus forcing Terry to try and prove he was better than that when he really wasn't? Either way, the words hit home. Terry felt like a jerk.
"I don't mean to sound so harsh," Ryuuji explained. "I'm sure we would've gotten along very well under different circumstances."
Terry couldn't tell if Ryuuji was talking about his relationship with his father or Terry. He hoped not the latter. Of course, it would have been unfair if Ryuuji had compared Terry's disfavour of him and his father's abusive behaviour. The two weren't even close.
"It's no big deal," Terry said with a shrug. It answered both speculations well enough.
"Of course," Ryuuji agreed. He was looking in the rear view mirror at Terry, in a sense accusing Terry of lying with a steady look. Terry was unsure whether he himself were lying or not. His father had never disliked him. He had never been wealthy or abnormally intelligent. He could hardly pretend to know what a big deal meant to Ryuuji.
The airport was on the other side of Gotham, a good hour and a half away. Ryuuji remained silent the entire drive. He looked out the window inquiringly at some things remotely Gothamian, but he never asked. Terry felt worse. Sometimes, being run by his emotions did not fair so well as Batman. He wished to be more like Mr. Wayne just a little bit, enough to take things as they were and not litter them with irrelevant personal significance and feelings. However, he also wished not to turn into Mr. Wayne with no real existence outside Batman. Ace was a good dog, but Terry didn't want the sole comfort of his old age being a mutt hound and a bunch of relics in the cave basement.
"Here we are," Terry said brightly. "Gotham Airport. I'll go with you if you don't mind. They don't like people hanging around the parking lot." And with that Terry successfully persuaded Ryuuji to let his chauffer accompany him inside. It made him feel a little more Batman-like for the first time that day.
Gotham Airport was beautiful as far as airports went. Not many places in Gotham were so white and clean outside the hospitals, and the building design itself was to blame for it The majority of the outer walls were entirely taken up by windows, encompassing the innards of the building in a giant, glittering cube. The airport, which had a big reputation and didn't carry a single budget airline, was one of the city's better known locations and famous from movies that had included the airport in various scenes. It was bigger than life inside and outside, wit the international terminal being familiar to half the world due to a popular music video that had been filmed there a few years before.
Terry had never seen the airport in person before. When Batman duties called him out of the country, he took a corporate jet with Mr. Wayne from a private airstrip outside the city. Any other trips he's made had been in the older airport nearer to the city which catered more to budget airlines and regional flights. The first thought that struck him when inside was how bizarre it was. Outside, the weather was hot and sunny. Inside, while still sunny, was nearly freezing. Like groceries and banks, airports, it seemed, liked to keep the cool air cranked.
"You've never been here, have you?" Ryuuji asked. He was silently laughing at Terry, who grunted and stopped looking around immediately. Did it really show?
"My father is going to be at terminal A2 in twenty minutes. Do you need to use the restroom or anything? You've been in the car all day."
Terry suspected Ryuuji was trying to get rid of him, but it was going to take more than that to fool Batman. "No thanks. I'm fine. What's your father look like?" Terry's mind settled on the clown mug shot.
"You'll know him when you see him. He's basically hideous."
The clown hadn't looked that bad. Terry sensed some animosity here. He stared at Ryuuji for s few seconds, trying to evaluate if at that moment of waiting to meet his father, Ryuuji looked like someone who wanted to kill the man. Ryuuji, for his part, hadn't visibly changed in the slightest.
"What?" Ryuuji asked, catching Terry staring. "Is there something in my hair?"
Why when you stared at someone did they always ask about their hair?
"I was wondering how it stayed up."
Why did Terry always then pretend it had been the hair?
"Oh," said Ryuuji, the side of his mouth turning up ever so slightly in amusement. He was very proud of his-what had Terry called it before?-gravity defying hairstyle. "It's a Domino City secret. Very hush-hush. I'll tell you later when no-one's listening."
"Who's listening?" Terry asked. He found an empty bench across from the terminal exit and sat down. Ryuuji did likewise, sitting next to him.
"There are people spying on me," said Ryuuji confidentially.
Terry put on his best you-have-got-to-be-kidding look. He also knew for a fact that he himself was spying on Ryuuji. Go figure.
"I don't mean to sound paranoid," Ryuuji quickly explained. "I'm wealthy and come from the highly competitive gaming industry of Domino City. There, it's natural to assume you're being watched. Everyone plays games. They can't turn it off."
"But how are you so sure that you're being spied on?"
"I always am. I also believe the car you have been driving me in is bugged. You may not know it, I may not be right, but I suspect it anyway."
Terry tried to decipher Ryuuji's actions and speech to see if he were lying or not. Check the eyes. Check the inflection. Was Ryuuji going to ramble again? He sounded ready. Luckily, Ryuuji's cell phone chose that moment to ring. The tone was Mozart. How did Terry know that?
"I have to take this," Ryuuji said. Terry didn't know how he was going to follow Ryuuji if he walked away to talk. Ryuuji, however, stayed. He began talking rapidly in Not-English. The words cut into Terry's ears sharply, causing him to wonder if the same Ryuuji who rambled in fluid English could make such irritating sounds as whatever language he was speaking right then. A few minutes later, the speaker in his ear buzzed to life and he could hear Mr. Wayne. For a second, he forgot where the voice was coming from.
"Terry, stop Ryuuji," the voice demanded. Terry looked at Ryuuji who was still chatting away innocently enough on the phone. "Don't let him leave."
Sure enough, Ryuuji was making as if to stand. Bewildered, Terry simply said, "Hey wait." Ryuuji looked at him. Was Ryuuji wearing the suit as a signal? Did Mr. Wayne mean don't let Ryuuji stand or walk out of his sight? Was Ryuuji talking with his choice assassin right then? Why had Terry never learned a language besides English?
"I was just going to stretch my legs. I've been sitting all day." Having just been pulled away from speaking Not-English, Ryuuji's pronunciation was slightly off. It was the first time Terry ever heard Ryuuji speak with a genuine accent.
"I'm sorry," Terry apologised, more to himself than Ryuuji. He wasn't a good enough Batman, was he, to think of a way to stop Ryuuji for longer than two seconds. WWWD-What Would Wayne Do-flashed across his mind. Mr. Wayne had never told Terry how to control suspects outside the Batsuit. Supposedly it came as a natural ability, some interpersonal insight. The only insight Terry had was that Ryuuji was gay. So, he reached out and grabbed Ryuuji by the wrist, forcing him back into the bench roughly to kiss him.
What was Terry's premise that Ryuuji was gay again? The way he sipped a straw, was it? Slag it. Slag it all to wherever things went when they were slagged.
Ryuuji's father was honestly the ugliest creature Terry had ever seen. It took a drastic change of perspective to even think of him as human. The elephant man came to mind. So did a Phantom of the Opera way more hideous than anything the stage had ever been able to cook up. There was nearly no way to describe it. Age made people less beautiful, and the old man had seemed to take that as a challenge by being impossibly ugly to start with. Ryuuji explained as they approached that his father had once been handsome and taller, but had had an accident of sorts he'd explain later.
If Ryuuji was mad at Terry, he hadn't shown it yet. Terry had made sure the kiss lasted long enough to ruin whatever it was terrible that Ryuuji was about to do. When he'd broken away, Ryuuji was looking at him, utterly perplexed. Perplexed or no, he had returned the kiss a little bit, probably mainly from not knowing what else to do and a surprising agreeable personality when having a rather sloppy kiss forced upon him, which Terry tried not to think about too much. If he squinted, he found he could nearly imagine Ryuuji as Dana. Dana in a trouser suit, that was. Pulling himself up from where he only then realised he'd rather aggressively pinned Ryuuji to the bench, Terry had decided the manly thing to do was to totally not explain himself. Instead, he straightened his perfectly straight tie and kept straightening it as they went to meet Ryuuji's father.
Upon seeing his son, the old man had rattled off something in Japanese Terry didn't know. It made Ryuuji frown, whatever it was. Then, the old man saw Terry.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Urm…" Terry started. Looking at the man's face left him at a loss for words. Ryuuji quickly intercepted with something in Japanese. Then, he turned to Ryuuji.
"This is Otousan."
"Hello, Mr. Otousan."
The man's eyes widened. He said something to Ryuuji. Ryuuji looked like he was trying not to laugh and panic at the same time. While Terry was certain he was positively thrilled he could keep Ryuuji from looking distressed for five seconds, he wondered what was so funny.
"Otousan means Father. Sorry," Ryuuji told him. "I can't believe you just called him Mr. Otousan. He thinks you're an idiot. I should have introduced you differently, sorry."
Oh great, thought Terry. Now the old Japanese man was an accurate judge of character. Excellent.
"I'm sorry?" said Terry with a shrug. Ryuuji's face returned to total seriousness when he faced his father again. They spoke to each other while Terry and a few large men he could only think of as the old man's handlers waited. One of them yawned and checked his watch. Terry checked his as well, even though he had nowhere to be.
Though it felt like an eternity, only ten minutes passed before the new set of handlers arrived to take charge of Mr. Otogi. Terry inspected their uniforms and van carefully as they lead the old man outside. He'd learned early in his career not to trust appearances.
There was a hand on Terry's arm. "Don't worry."
"What?" Terry asked as calmly as possible. Was Ryuuji telling him the doctors and handlers were the sure thing? "I was just-"
Ryuuji cut him off. "He's used to being shipped around. It's not a problem. Quit looking so goddamn horrified."
Terry admitted he had been taken aback a little by how Mr. Otogi was transported. He was also glad Ryuuji had translated his observation of the process as concern for humane treatment and not checking to see of any of the long coats were concealing weapons, ready to shoot the old man on the interstate.
"Where are you off to next?" Terry asked as they were driving from the airport. Ryuuji grinned. Terry didn't like it.
"Paulo's." said Ryuuji. This was, of course, a restaurant. Most of the four star restaurants in Gotham were possessive, proper nouns.
"Nice place," Terry said casually. He'd already effectively wiped the thought of kissing Ryuuji from his mind. The less he thought of it, the better. He felt oddly more Batman-like throwing his previous actions into the past like nothing. "Dana's always wanted me to take her there. She went with her father once and fell in love with the place."
"Is that so?" said Ryuuji, more preoccupied with staring out the window than keeping up the conversation. It wasn't like he had nothing to look at. Dusk was beginning to settle and all the little lights that showed Gotham on those pictures of the United States from outer space were starting to come to life.
"And here were are, Paulo's," Terry announced as he pulled up to the restaurant, parking and scooting aside to give the valet the wheel. Ryuuji lauded his wistful thinking with a laugh.
"You're coming with me," Ryuuji ordered, opening the navigator door and pulling Terry all the way through. "You've been working and driving all day. As a friend, I can't allow that."
Oh shit. Dinner? Ryuuji was in love with him, wasn't he? It may have been conceited to think so, but Terry always assumed the instant someone invited him to food other than Max, his family, older people, or Mr. Wayne, they were in love with him. He'd also just kissed a very rich game inventor in front of an audience. Imagine what the tourists must've though….
"How…nice of you," said Terry, stumbling inside with Ryuuji. The maitre d' was speaking in Italian or French or something, so Terry let Ryuuji do the talking and hoped he wasn't saying anything too embarrassing.
Terry turned hopefully to see Dana was indeed the one speaking. She was sitting next to Max in the booth Terry and Ryuuji had been ushered into. Thrilled, Terry sat immediately across from her.
"Nice duds, Ryuuj," said Max. Dana translated and Ryuuji smiled. He said the thing about the test run and the staying in Gotham for a few more years as translated by Dana.
"So, Terry, I hear you've been busy today driving Ryuuji all over town for Mr. Wayne," said Dana, bringing up the subject foremost on Terry's train of thought.
"About that," Terry said nervously, "I thought I told you about not making brunch this morning-"
"It's fine," said Dana, for once happy Terry had missed a date. Behold the power of Ryuuji, he supposed. "It's great to see the two of you finally getting to know each other. Ryuuji's been practising English, but he tells me he's not sure if you understood him. You should learn some Japanese, Terry."
"I learned otousan," Terry said. "Not like I'd ever have to use it, but I know it."
Dana face fell in seconds as it always did when she was reminded of some tragedy, such as the death of Terry's father, but Terry hadn't meant anything by it. He just meant otousan was a useless word to know. Dana said something to Ryuuji and Ryuuji's expression mimicked her own. "I just realised I never told Ryuuji about your dad, Ter. It's just hard to talk about those things, and you don't try to bring it up very much. I hear you met Ryuuji's today, though. What was he like?"
Terry shrugged. "Mr. Wayne, only shorter and in Japanese."
Ryuuji laughed. "And more ugly," he added. Terry nodded. That, too. He cast Ryuuji an irritated glance. Ryuuji playing ignorant was painful and infuriating to sit through even more so now that Terry had heard him speak fluent English all day. Not only did he know the guy spoke English, he'd had to sit and suffer through it.
The rest of the dinner continued at the same galling pace, Ryuuji speaking Japanese, Dana translating pieces, and Ryuuji saying a few things in bad English to Terry. For someone under immense pressure, Terry kept his nerve surprisingly well. A sadistic part in the back of his mind was waiting for Ryuuji to stop acting and proclaim to all present, "This guy practically sucked my face off in the airport this afternoon and he still hasn't told his girlfriend about it. Some kind of romantic ties, right? Can't think of any other way to stall me than that because actually, he's gay." This, of course, was only hypothetically malicious. Ryuuji was likely to find a more creative way to embarrass Terry-because Terry was certain he would pay him back. How could he not see through Terry's behaviour? If Terry were in Ryuuji's position, he'd be plotting revenge.
"So, Ryuuji, what did you think about Terry? Is he super boring or what?" Max asked. Terry felt the question like an electric shock. Why when he started thinking about terrible things did they suddenly consider happening? This was the perfect moment for Ryuuji to spill everything.
"Terry is nice," said Ryuuji. He continued in Japanese. Terry understood the words otousan and Terry and Wayne-Powers.
"How did the meeting at Wayne-Powers go?" Max asked. Ryuuji told her there had been a translator. Max responded to this when Dana finished talking by grinning at Ryuuji in a way that was downright evil. Terry looked at Ryuuji and Ryuuji looked uncertainly back. He as just as perplexed as when Terry had finished kissing him, if not more. Terry shook his head barely to let himk know that he didn't know what Max was grinning at either.
"Admit it, Ryuuji Otogi. You speak English."
Both boys were taken aback by this. Ryuuji, because he'd been found out. Terry, because Max had more investigative skill in her little finger than Terry had in his dreams. She'd known Ryuuji two days, spoken to him once, and didn't need anyone telling her he spoke English. Terry had been sitting next to Ryuuji in class and hearing all about him from Dana for three weeks .
"I'm…sorry?" Ryuuji started, trying to sound naïve and confused. Unfortunately, Max wasn't taking any poorly pronounced "I'm sorry" for an answer that evening.
"I saw the telecast," she said. "It was the yearly Kaiba Corp technology bulletin and not just your normal presentation to Wayne-Powers. That stuff's news online. Also, I found it hard to believe that Ryuuji Otogi, famous game inventor and entrepreneur, didn't speak English. Especially since during the years you preformed in the competitive gaming community you were known for your quips, Japanese, Chinese, and English. Part of your strategy is talking the opponent down, which is perfectly legal in DDD and M&W tournaments."
Terry was agog. So was Dana. Ryuuji looked slightly hot under the collar. He smiled at Max sheepishly. Two things embarrassed him, his clothes and being dramatically called out in front of everyone with no way to refute it.
"Do you want me to congratulate you or something?" he asked after a moment of silence.
"You mean you spoke English this whole time?" demanded the cheated Dana, her world likely crashing around here with the first fluent sentence out of Ryuuji's mouth. Now that the silence had broken, she couldn't contain herself. "You made Terry and me look like idiots?"
"No," Ryuuji said, quickly climbing back into Dana's good graces, "I wouldn't say you looked like an idiot. Your Japanese is really good for your level. You actually were very impressive translating what you did."
After thinking it over a moment, Dana beamed. Of course she couldn't stay mad at Ryuuji.
"You piece of shit," Terry muttered. Ryuuji winked at him.
"There's also something you don't know about Terry," said Ryuuji with his evil smirk. The colour drained from Terry's face. Oh shit. Slag it. And oh shit again.
What would work better against Dana's questioning glance after Ryuuji confessed to having been kissed by Terry? Denial? No. She'd believe Ryuuji completely and only get mad at Terry for lying. Silence? No. She'd think he had nothing to say for himself and would thus be irrevocably guilty. Befuddlement? No. She'd tell him to shut up and think straight, to breathe and just explain.
Go on a limb and say what the hell, he was gay? No. She'd probably believe him and consider it the cause of all of his absences from their dates.
No matter what, the truth was out of the question and he should just wave farewell to all future high school heterosexual relationships. There was no doubt Dana would tell everyone. Terry was in trouble.
"Terry knew way before any of you that I spoke English," Ryuuji exaggerated. The two girls looked at him with betrayed expressions. Successfully, the attention was diverted from Ryuuji to Terry.
"You mean you didn't tell me?" Max.
"You mean you let me look like an idiot going on about how he needed help in English?" Dana.
Terry had no idea why he was suddenly so much worse than Ryuuji. What the hell just happened? He turned to Ryuuji. "You," but Ryuuji wasn't listening. He was paying the bill and being blissfully uninvolved with the argument.
Terry trailed Dana out of the restaurant, trying to explain himself. "I'm sorry. I didn't know until this morning." Technically, sure, he had known way, way before Dana or Max, but that information was not part of the timeline he was using.
"Don't worry, Terry. I'm sure if you had made it to brunch then you would have told me."
"Of course!" Terry exclaimed happily. Of course! Not.
"So how was your day with Ryuuji?"
"Interesting." Four syllables explained everything so nicely.
"It was nice of him to arrange dinner, so we can't been too upset with him. He's probably got reasons for not speaking English."
"Yeah, he said something about not knowing things and not wanting people to know how much he didn't know," said Terry, not sure if he was remembering correctly. Ryuuji had said it all so fast.
"Really," said Dana, smiling, "that's so cute."
Terry rolled his eyes. Yeah, sure. Adorable. "When did he arrange the dinner anyway? I was with him most of the day. All he did was give his presentation, go to lunch, change clothes, and sit in the airport forever."
"I called him at the airport," Dana said. "Were you there?"
"Well, he told me about brunch and apologised for it. He explained where you were and what you were doing. Then he invited Max and me to dinner."
Terry nodded. This was going to suck, but he had to do it. "Hey, Dana?" he asked tentatively, "Did, urm, anything unusual happen on the phone?"
Dana looked at Terry uncertainly and frowned. "What do you mean by unusual?"
"Like, any weird sounds, sudden silence, someone else talking?"
Dana thought about it for a few moments. "Well, actually, near the end of the call, I mean, he'd already said goodbye, but-"
Terry and Dana jumped at the explosion of noise from the parking lot besides them. Ryuuji was sitting in the navigator seat across from the valet, waving. "Assistance," he yelled to Terry, pointing at the wheel. He took the valet's seat as the valet got out, mimicking turning the wheel and driving. "Slag it. He's a lot more annoying since he started speaking English," Terry said with a groan. He kissed Dana goodbye and hurried over to the car.
"Your friend Max is smarter than all of you," Ryuuji said sleepily from the back seat. It was a thirty minute drive back to his apartment at night because of the traffic, and Ryuuji was utilising the time by sleeping. Terry suppressed a yawn and remained focussed on the road. "Wake me up when we're home," Ryuuji mumbled, making himself comfortable in the back seat. After deliberating a moment on which to where, he used his jacket as a blanket and his vest as a pillow.
The city had grown much colder with the sun gone away. Gotham nights sent chills up the spine of anyone regardless of the weather, but a cold wind definitely helped. Dana had joked that screams were practically the city's anthem, theme song, soundtrack or whatever the hell she had said they were. Terry's inner Batman was stirred into restlessness on nights like this, and particularly at the sound of screams. He could feel his reflexes and senses gearing up for action behind the scenes. The only problem right now was that he was driving, and there was very little action require there. He looked in the mirror back at Ryuuji, but the guy busy falling asleep. There wasn't even anyone to talk to. Slag it.
"We're here," Terry announced. There was no response. With a sigh, Terry reached back, but his fingers only brushed the long jacket. He tugged it off of Ryuuji. Nothing. The guy was a stone.
"Slag it," Terry muttered and got out of the car. If there was one thing that gave him the creeps regardless of all of his Batman knowing better, it was night time parking garages. Everything was so still and echoing. It always seemed no-one was ever there when you were, so if you fell over and had a seizure right then, no-one would know. He had never liked the idea of Dana walking alone in a parking garage at night. Honestly, no-one else was ever, ever, ever around when something happened or some poor girl was attacked. There were very few places to hide.
In a very quiet manner, Ryuuji was snoring. Terry purposely slammed the door as loudly as he was sure he could get away with. Through the windshield he saw Ryuuji's arm fell off of his chest. Great. That was exactly what he'd been going for.
Terry opened the door to the back seat next. Leaning over to shake Ryuuji's shoulder, he paused for the smallest of moments. He could see Ryuuji's face dimly in the light coming in from the darkened windows. His stomach sank watching Ryuuji asleep. He'd kissed this guy and yet…and yet Ryuuji had expressed no interest in him whatsoever after barely kissing him back. It was insulting, and Terry still hadn't shaken the habit of viewing himself as God's gift to women and anyone attracted to men. It was why he feared gay men. He was certain they all wanted him.
"Hey, man, wake up," Terry pleaded, shaking Ryuuji's shoulder with increasing force for every half second Ryuuji didn't stir. "C'mon. I've got to drive back to Mr. Wayne's and you're wasting tim-mph!"
Either Ryuuji was having a very active dream, or he'd just wrapped his jacket around Terry and pulled the unsuspecting teen on top of him. Terry had only a second to think before being pulled into a crushing kiss and tumbling onto the floor of the car between the front and back seats. He remembered thinking that he had no idea he could fit there.
So much for the night awakening his Batman reflexes. How the hell did he fall for this?
It wasn't fair, but Terry soon found himself comparing Dana and Ryuuji's kiss. Why he was putting up with Ryuuji kissing him, he wasn't sure. Maybe he felt he deserved it for earlier. Maybe he was curious because he was sure Dana was going to leave him again. Maybe he felt it affirmed to him that he really was God's gift to all who desired men.
There was also the alarming moment Terry came to the conclusion Ryuuji kissed a hell of a lot better than Dana. Dana wasn't a fan of intensive kisses. She liked to express her passion in other ways such as a thoughtful touch and emotional support. She grounded Terry. Ryuuji just went crazy. Dana's energy in their relationship also went down proportionally with how little she saw Terry. It was why Terry could remain in limbo between her and Melanie until Max came around and told him to pick one. It was why Terry was always looking for new relationships in people he'd just meant, even bubble people. It may have been why Terry was so attracted to the unattainable sort because what he could attain wasn't all that interesting and liked to complain when she didn't see him enough.
Ryuuji, however. What the hell?
Terry was kissing him back now, reaching up, running his hands along him. Now, he was tasting Ryuuji and thinking how good he felt. Dana hadn't made him feel this way in a long time, and definitely not since he'd become Batman. Ryuuji may have had an unfair advantage as well. Being male, he knew better where to touch, how, and how far it would take this. Terry found himself gasping for air ask Ryuuji finished loosening his tie and began moving downwards.
"Stop," he croaked finally. "Stop."
Ryuuji was staring up curiously from Terry's neckline. Seeing Terry's expression, he grinned. "Mmh-hm?" he hummed in question, a ringing amusement in his tone. He sounded perfectly ready to get back to work once Terry said whatever he needed to say.
"Why?" Terry asked. He didn't seem to be able to get past the single syllables.
Ryuuji liked the question. He chuckled into Terry's neck for a moment. The vibration made Terry shiver. Ryuuji nearly laughed out loud at that. When he pulled himself back to Terry's eye level, he was smiling. Was this a joke to him? Great. Terry was about to be psychologically tortured and compromised by the son of a clown. It was almost ironic considering he was Batman.
This chain of thought was answered and irrupted by Ryuuji digging his fingernails into Terry's abdomen beneath his shirt and scratching down. Terry winced, but knew it was only pain for effect. Then, the pressure increased and Terry could hardly breath. "No-one make a move on me within minutes of my father without paying for it," Ryuuji said threateningly into his ear. His hair tickled Terry's nose, which was annoying, but less so that not breathing. After a few moments of coughing and general discomfort, Ryuuji let go. "Also, you're cute," he continued in brighter tone. "Either way, you started it."
Terry felt a slight throbbing in the back of his skull. He must've hit his head earlier. "I didn't mean to," he said. Ryuuji couldn't get enough of it.
"You also can't help but make me smile," he said, giving Terry a quick peck on the lips. Then, he laughed and sat back. "Which isn't too great, really, because it's hard to kiss you when I'm smiling." He tried once more, but only got so far as a peck again.
Terry held still as Ryuuji climbed off of him and pulled the pale green vest out from between the cushions, He tossed it back on haphazardly. "I suppose that's it for the night," Ryuuji said, unable to wipe the smug grin from his face. "I've got the giggles. I'm really hopeless once I've got the giggles." Terry shrugged and handed him his now crushed suit jacket. Ryuuji wasn't smiling as he inspected it, which irritated Terry because why use your clothing to immobilise someone when you care what happened to the clothing? When his eyes fell back on Terry, Ryuuji smiled again and tossed the jacket back on as well. Terry suppose Ryuuji had concluded the wrinkling to be worth it.
"It's been a great day, today, Terry," Ryuuji said, energetically helping Terry up from the trap between the front and back seats. "You're an excellent driver, and I feel we've really gotten to know each other."
Terry only grunted and winced as he stood out of the car. His wide-shouldered frame was not meant for tiny spaces in the backseat of a car, no matter how supposedly spacious. When he closed the door, Ryuuji jumped onto him and locked lips one last time. Even though it was possible to get away, Terry obliged him, holding onto the car for balance as Ryuuji's hands found their way back underneath his untucked shirt. It was embarrassing, but when Ryuuji pulled away, Terry followed for a few inches. What a stupid impulse.
"See you in class Monday," Ryuuji said, turning and heading for the door into the condominium. Terry stayed leaned up against the car and watched him go. The places Ryuuji had dug his fingernails into were beginning to throb dully. They reminded Terry to tuck his shirt in, but now his tie really was hopeless. He sighed. Mr. Wayne was going to kill him.