Stranger than Fanfiction 4: Ikari Shinji Vs the World
It's the night of the big double date and our dear Shinji has run into a bit of a problem while riding along in the black Section 2 van. It seems that nobody thought to arrange for the four of them to actually do anything tonight.
"I'm telling ya' Class Rep.," Toji swears, "pizza and laser tag would 'ave been fine." Correction, Toji and Hikari thought about it but can't seem to agree on it, even during said date. They're on their way to pick up the fourth member of their comedy troupe.
And Shinji thinks to himself, "If the 'comedy' ending is supposed to be good, then why are my intestines trying to throttle my brain?"
He happens to miss Hikari's response to Toji in his thoughts. But Toji''s boisterous counter comes through loud and clear, emphasis on loud. "Hey Shin-man! Can you believe the Class Rep?"
"Please leave me out of this, Suzahara-san," Shinji sighs out. It's for the best, really. One husband is enough in most relationships. "Honestly, the two of you fight like you're already married." The young couple has the decency to blush at Shinji's comment. Though, it's not like they'd admit to being a couple.
Hikari recovers first. "Ahem, well the matter remains. We still have to decide what to do tonight."
"Didn't Yamagishi-san just get out of the hospital?" Shinji asks.
"Yeah, that's right," Toji supplies.
"Well, I didn't want to do much of anything the first couple of days after I got out of the hospital." Shinji's two companions wince as he says it. "So while laser tag and romantic strolls sound great and all, I think we should stick to something low impact."
After a minute of contemplation, Hikari finally says, "Well, I guess I could settle for pizza instead of a picnic."
"Sure, but what are we gonna do afterwards?" Toji asks.
"Well, are there any music stores around here?" Shinji asks hopefully. Really, the boy loves his Classical music.
"No," Toji interjects.
Hikari interrupts, "There is that one on 11nth and 23rd. But that's all the way across the city." Shinji doesn't slump in dejection, honest. But he does cast his eyes down a bit more.
"I've never heard of that one," Toji puts in.
"Yeah, I wouldn't know about it if it weren't for Ami. She likes to hang out there after school," Hikari explains.
"Uhh," Shinji interjects before the young couple can start in again, "maybe we can just go to the library or something. They've got music there, too."
"The library, Ikari? Really?" Hikari deadpans.
"Man, even I know that that's a bad idea," Toji puts his two cents in.
"We'll come up with something, Ikari," Hikari tries to reassure the tag-along. They fall into a companionable silence, companionable for Toji and Hikari. Shinji's nerves are on end.
"Well, I can't help it! There are just so many things that could go wrong tonight," he thinks harshly. He won't have long to worry, though. It seems that they're coming up upon his young maiden's home. "And please don't call her my 'maiden.' It sounds weird." And older man answers the door shortly after the class rep. knocks.
"Hi Yamagishi-san, we're here to pick up Mayu-chan," Hikari chirps cheerfully at Mayumi's father.
"Good evening, Horaki-san," the man says sourly. "Mayu!" he shouts back into the house, "Your friend is here to pick you up." The trio outside don't hear Mayumi scrambling to finish getting dressed upstairs or her indignant squeaks as she trips and loses her glasses under the bed...again. She calls down to her father, with a small bit of stuttering, that she'll be another minute. "Well, you three had better come in. Seems she's going to be another minute. And I wanted to talk to you." Hooray! We get to see a real, live overprotective father in his natural habitat. As Shinji enters, he can't help but notice the lack of a baseball bat or other traditional angry father weapon in the entryway, at least as far as he can see. The father leads the group into a living room which nearly sets off Shinji's cleaning instincts. It's not really messy. The colloquial term would be "lived in." But it is fairly obvious that this is a single parent household just like every other household in Tokyo 3. Before Shinji can wonder about that last bit, the father gestures for the group of youngsters to sit down on an aged but strangely not lumpy couch, probably a sign of disuse. As the father sits down into an equally underused chair, he asks them, "So, what did you have planned for the evening?"
"Ano..." Shinji starts.
"Well, we didn't really..." Toji interrupts.
"Nothing too strenuous, I hope?" Daddy asks.
"Actually..." Shinji starts again. Really, they have to let him talk at some point.
"Of course not, Yamagishi-san. We don't want her to strain herself so soon," Hikari interjects. ...Shinji doesn't have to talk now. But still...
"Well, that's good, at least," Daddy says evenly. "Where, exactly, are you going, anyway?"
"Uhh..." Toji starts.
"We don't really know yet," Hikari finishes.
"Well, you could always go to the library," Daddy suggests...wait. What?
"Uhm, I don't know about that, Yamagishi-san," Hikari shoots down the idea...again. Okay, what's so bloody interesting at the library?
"I already suggested that, sir," Shinji admits.
"Well, I suppose that it might not seem so exciting. But Mayu-chan certainly loves to read. Now what is taking that girl?" Daddy asks as he gets up to check on his daughter. While the only taxpayer in the house talks to his little girl, the three teens get back to figuring out what to do.
"Well, any other ideas?" Shinji asks, knowing that neither of them can think of anything.
"Uhm..." Toji hums.
"Well..." Hikari tries to explain.
Shinji sighs, exasperated. "Well, how about we just do a movie? How does that sound?"
Toji is the first to respond, "I guess that could work."
"I suppose we can settle," Hikari chimes in, just as a crash resounds from upstairs. The three teens fall silent to listen for more. After a few seconds' wait, they're rewarded with a door slamming open and the muffled grunting of a determined father.
"Mayu, I know you're nervous. But you have to get out of this house sometime!" Daddy growls at his daughter from the top of the stairs.
"But Daddy, what about the...?" she asks, reluctantly taking the first few steps down.
"I'll handle the mess. You go have fun. You've been cooped up in this house for too long!"
"Okay, Daddy," she says as she reaches the bottom. She almost makes it into the living room when she spots the other teens staring in her direction. The phrase "deer in headlights" comes to mind as she freezes in place with an almost inaudible squeak.
Her father coughs behind her, eliciting another squeak from Mayumi. "Mayu, don't be rude. Say hi to our guests." he says with a nudge to his daughter.
"H-h-h-hi...everyone." And with those stuttered words, the awkward silence returns in full force. It doesn't last long. Thankfully, Daddy is there to break the silence.
"Well now, I think you've wasted enough time talking to this old man. Now get going!" The kids jump up as he talks. As he shuffles them out of the door, he finishes, "Be careful, Mayu. And don't forget to have fun!" Once the door is closed behind them, the teens can't help but wonder what all the hurry is about. Thankfully, they can't see Daddy begin the ritual known as the "House to Myself Dance." It involves tissues, lotion, and copious amounts of internet porn. And all Shinji can do is groan.
It's been a few hours since they left the Yamagishi household. Shinji and his companions are trying to enjoy a good movie about Second Impact. There's just one problem with their plan.
"This movie is..." Shinji starts to comment.
"Bad," Toji finishes for him. "Way bad."
"Come on. It's not that bad," Hikari admonishes.
"I can see them reading their cue cards!" Toji exclaims.
"Well, yeah. I can see that. But at least it's trying to stay true to the source here. We can't say that for the American Godzilla movie." Hikari defends.
"Alright, I'll give you that. But at least the special effects were fun to watch in that movie. This...I can't even eat popcorn to this." Toji acknowledges the point.
"Mayumi-san, what do you think?" Shinji asks his date.
"Ano, it's...loud," she admits.
"And you don't like loud things?" Shinji asks.
"I...guess so," she can't seem to get out. She keeps sneaking glances behind them to where another young couple are making out. And now Shinji's eyes seek out the amorous pair that caught his date's attention. Well, they had caught her attention. Now she seems to be very focused on a spilled tub of popcorn next to the screen...and blushing furiously about something.
Toji apparently also noticed. "Mm, I think they've got the right idea."
"Sit back down Suzahara," Hikari admonishes.
"What? It's not like anybody comes to watch this crap," Toji defends himself.
Shinji speaks up before their bickering can escalate into a full blown fight, "Let's just get out of here guys."
"Where would we go?" Hikari asks.
"I think there's a club not too far from here," Toji suggests.
Here we are in the wilds of the Tokyo 3 night club scene, tracking our foursome of amorously inclined tweens. At least, some people hope that it'll be a foursome. Mostly, they've been awkwardly milling about while Shinji's bodyguards complain about their assignment and fail to fit in with a bunch of kids half their age.
"I can't believe this place doesn't have a liquor license," complains one sweaty, leisure suit wearing Section 2 agent. We'll call him Agent K.
"What?" shouts another agent. We'll call her Agent L. Apparently, she's having issues hearing her co workers over the driving bass. And she's having trouble standing in some stiletto heels that must be a size too big for her at the least.
"I said 'I can't believe this place doesn't have a liquor license,'" K shouts back.
"Well, they did let the kids in," observes another agent. We'll call him Agent M. "I bet this place is supposed to serve a younger crowd."
"Bullshit!" Agent L shouts back, taking a second to pull a loose strand of hair back behind her ear. "I see college kids in here. I bet the old men who sign off on this shit just decided not to give liquor licenses to places that allow dancing or some bullshit like that."
"I wouldn't put it past the city council to do that," Agent M growls out. After a few seconds of listening to the music ask "What is love" again, just like it had for the past 20 minutes, M complains, "Man, I hate these 'casual' suits they got for us. I'm burning up in mine."
"At least you can hide your gun in yours. Mine's in my purse. I swear, if I find out who picked this sluttastic outfit," she growls, gesturing towards the strips of cloth that we might generously call her clothes, "I'm cramming these cheap heels right up his ass!" Agent L finishes, crossing her arms under her chest, drawing attention to a jagged scar running over the top of her breast.
"I'll join you," Agent K throws in. "because nobody wants to see your battle scars put on display."
"Fuck you, K," she tosses off casually.
"After our shift is over, sure." He calmly retorts.
"I'm holding you to that, K," L counters. M almost chokes on himself.
Now, with the bodyguard mating dance complete, the tedious "waiting for the shift to end" phase of the mating ritual begins. This could last for hours. Or at least it could last until 23:15 hours, military time, when the overnight shift takes their spot.
With the waiting period begun, we now move on to the bodyguards' charges, Ikari Shinji and his companions. Here, the larger of the two males attempts to impress his potential mate with ritual dance. Though other males don't appear to gesticulate as wildly or thrust the pelvis as much. This sort of wild display is the hallmark of a youngling in his first dance. "No! Suzahara, you're completely out of rhythm. You're moving around way too much for a crowded club like this. And you're not watching where your feet are," Hikari admonishes Toji, causing him to trip on a left step and crash into another young couple.
"Hey man! What's your problem?" the older boy shouts while wiping his spilled soda off his shirt.
"Toji! I'm so sorry!" Hikari apologizes for her date as he climbs back to his feet. "I was trying to teach him how to dance."
"Yeah, well maybe he should just sit down," the older boy dismisses them as he turns back to his own date with a frustrated, "Sorry about that babe."
Turning to his own date, the young Ikari can only say, "So...having fun?" Mayumi appears to say nothing to this, despite her mouth clearly moving. Perhaps she just can't talk over the incessantly repeating "What is love? Baby don't hurt me."
Eventually, Shinji realizes that she's mouthing, "It's louder here," at him. Mind made up, Shinji goes to his still fumbling friend to get them all out of this fiendish fiesta.
"Hey guys, let's get out of here," he says. Toji falls on his butt again but doesn't hear him. So Shinji speaks up, "Horaki-san, Toji-san, we should get out of here. The noise is bothering Mayumi-san." Shinji isn't too fond of it either. But he doesn't say that. All he does is roll his eyes. Hikari helps Toji up as Shinji looks for the nearest Section 2 Agent that's not getting ready to shoot some teenagers. Mayumi follows him while he looks. Through the crowd, he finds his target, a dark skinned man several years younger than the rest of his detail. He's sitting a few seats away from the other three and sipping a Cherry Coke with a little umbrella. The world may never know how he manages to keep his Coke off his leisure suit while bobbing his head in time with the music. We'll call him Agent J.
"Evening, Ikari. You kids having fun?" J asks, taking a sip from his Coke.
"Hello, sir. I...I mean my date...I mean we were actually looking to get out of here. The noise is bothering my date," Shinji admits to the agent.
"Well, there's a park not too far from here. You can walk there just fine. It's just four blocks North from here," Agent J says.
"You mean Tesla Park?" Toji interjects.
"Yeah! That's the place. I think there's something going on there tonight. I can't remember what it was though," Agent J admits.
"Well?" Shinji asks his assembled companions.
"Sounds good to me," Toji replies.
"A nice walk in the park sounds romantic," Hikari chimes in.
"Uhm..." Mayumi starts.
"Hmm? What do you think, Mayumi-san?" Shinji asks.
"I...that is...," she mouths into the air, still unable to talk over the bass. She takes a deep breath before continuing. "I think I'd like that," she finally squeaks out over the bass.
"Alright! We have a plan," Toji says as he leads the way towards the exit.
But Shinji cannot help but have one last nagging thought before the scene change, "Why was the voice talking like a British nature show host?"
We rejoin the kids at Tesla Park, where the trees are swaying, the grass is green, and the noise level is even higher than back in the club.
"Oh yeah," says Agent J from a few feet behind the group of teens, still wearing his leisure suit and bobbing his head in time with the music, "there's a charity concert going on here today."
"You couldn't remember that sooner?" Toji shouts back at the agent.
"It would have saved us a trip, at least," Shinji sighed out. "Let's just go home. It's getting late," he shouts out to the rest of the group. The other agents pull the black van around. And they climb back into the black van that brought them here.
"Well, that was a disaster," Toji deadpans.
"Honestly Suzahara! It wasn't all bad," Hikari admonishes
"What? The movie was terrible," Toji groans.
"Endearingly bad," Hikari corrects.
"You're the only one here who can dance," Toji admits.
"You tried your best, Toji. Shinji-san and Mayumi-san are just shy," Hikari retorts.
"And our quiet walk in the park turned out to have a concert going on in it," he says with finality.
"Alright, that was a little unfortunate. Dinner was nice, at least," Hikari tries.
"It was McDonalds. If it wasn't edible, they'd be out of business," Toji counters.
"I was talking about the company," Hikari says with an attempt at a smile towards Shinji and Mayumi.
While the other couple argues some more about the content of the date and whether or not Toji would have to take Hikari on an "apology date" to make up for their abysmal first date, Shinji looks to Mayumi. She watches the floor, occasionally looking up to Shinji riding next to her. Shinji screws up his face a bit. "I'm sorry, Yamagishi-san. We couldn't find something to do tonight that you liked. I mean...I'm sure we can do better next time."
"I don't know," she whispers.
"Well, I'm sure we can find something you'd like," Shinji tries to reassure her. But what he's really thinking about is how much that date will cost. Even split three ways between he, Toji, and Hikari at her own insistence, Shinji dropped a chunk of his spending money on this date. He can't afford to date full time. It's either get the girl in front of him to like him or do the unthinkable...get a job.
"It's just..." Mayumi interrupts his nervous worrying over how he'd balance a job with school and Nerv. "Why couldn't we have gone to the library instead...or something? I mean...if you want, that is..."
Shinji would love to continue his brooding. But all he can think at the moment is a single, glorious thought, "What? The? Fuck?"
I'd like to thank Caphriel, Kyadytim, and Genericrandom for being my betas for this. And I'd like to thank all of you that stuck with me. I'm sorry it took me so long to get this chapter out. I'll try to get better on the next one. Merry Christmas to all of you. And a Happy New Year as well.