|Summary: Leo Stenbuck and Joshua Shardul go to a gay bar. It remains to be seen if they have started a war.|
Some stuff happened, followed by things, followed by EVENTS. Also, Joshua had the night off, and being perceptive enough to tell that Leo Stenbuck could perhaps use some time at a bar for the sake of his sanity, the off-duty commodore invited his fellow officer along. Said he'd pick the place. And then realized that the only bars he really knows very well are, well...
AT THE MOMENT:
The bar itself is a pretty upbeat place, with nice tables, a wine list and a lively, cheerful male bartender. They serve appetizers designed to appeal to the yuppie clientele, and there's a young Coordinator (not Nicol) playing on a piano in a corner. It is smoke-free, and really quite relaxed and elegant.
It is also, Joshua hopes, not TOO gay a gay bar for a breeder like Leo.
That's offensive, Joshua Shardul. Leo Stenbuck has never once bred.
Though not for lack of trying.
That said, Leo does seem perhaps a /teensy/ bit uncomfortable. This is far more... upper class than he's used to. To be fair, that may in part be owing to inexperience; he's been to a few bars before, at the urging of Isamu Dyson, but, well...
SOME TIME AGO
Isamu is doing Jell-O shots out of the belly button of an unreasonably-breasted stripper named Alaska. Leo can appreciate the women as much as anybody... but he is mostly just trying to eat his onion rings and thinking about Rei, seeing as how his social anxiety issues are acting up like whoa in such a crowded bar.
Eventually, he works up the nerve to ask one of the strippers who keeps offering him a 'private show' in the back something, after refusing her offer. "Uh... those are, um, fake, right?" he asks, indicating the stripper's breasts. "Um... how much did they cost...?"
As aforementioned: thinking about Rei.
Leo is already a little sloshed, because - let's be honest - that's what we all came here to see. There is a distinct red flush on his nose and cheeks, but he has yet to start swaying or proclaiming mortifying things before man or God. "Hey, thanks... thanks again for inviting me out here, man," the young man says to Joshua, across their little table. "I was probably just gonna get wasted alone if you didn't, and last time I did that..."
He frowns, and his eyes refocus onto the middle distance. After a few beats, he finishes lamely, "Well, just... thanks."
"It's okay, it's okay." Joshua's had a few, too. His drink of choice seems to be rum and coke, and he's on number three now, with a darker red flush on his olive complexion. "I kinda could sense that. Besides, you invited me out on the camping trip after my dad...well, after my dad." It usually takes him at least two drinks to even mention his dad unless pressed about it. "You seemed like ya needed it. How've you been? You coping?"
Leo scowls down at his drink; it is, currently, a mostly-full glass of wine, Leo's drink of choice for the night. This would be fine, except he ordered a bottle of one of the most expensive selections on the wine list, and has proceeded to drink a good half of the bottle so far as if it were soda.
It is almost painfully lower class.
"I... guess," he says, after a few moments of awkward silence. "I mean... I try to just... not think about it. But it's... ... hard. And, I mean..." He sighs in obvious frustration, and gestures vaguely.
"It's easier, you know, thanks to Louise," he explains, haltingly. "But she can be so weird. Like... she won't return my calls, all of a sudden. I think I did something wrong, but I sure as shit don't know what, you know?"
"And then that whole thing with fuckin', with what's her name, Asuka. Women are such a pain in the ass. I should just turn gay, or something." With that exclamation, Leo grabs up his wine glass and chugs about half of it in one go.
Joshua would complain, but he's still a) pretty drunk, and b) still a bit metaphorically drunk on his ranking officer's salary. He has no real family to save up for, so what he doesn't send home to his mom is his to spend as frivolously as he wants. I mean, even if it /is/ painfully lower class of Leo.
"Didja say somethin' to upset her?" The Coordinator makes a hand gesture at the bar to order another drink, this one a little stronger. "By her I mean Louise, or I guess Asuka, or..." He trails off and stares.
"I win the bet," one half of a couple on the next table over chirps to his boyfriend, having overheard Leo's 'confession.'
Josh ignores this, coughing politely. "Look, it'z not easy or anything. You get all these...all these women in yer life. I am surrounded by men, an' none of them are even a liiittle interested. Try to imagine bein' around lots of hot girls, and /none/ of 'em want you. I mean god, I've seen Top Gun, I figured..you know...!"
The reference to Top Gun gets merely a confused look from Leo, who has never seen Top Gun.
After a few beats, he just shrugs, and says, "I dunno, man, it's... if gay guys are anything like women, you're better off. I mean... I didn't even say or do anything to Louise, she just decided to, to, to be mad at me, I guess. I don't know. Fuck it."
He takes another long swig from his glass, and continues, "And fuckin'... fuckin', Asuka, man, I didn't even..." He reaches up to rub at his eyes for a moment, and then takes a breath, as if about to begin a long story. "So I get this e-mail, right? And it's this chick, who wants to talk to me, she says it's urgent."
"So I'm like, okay, and I have to fuckin' jump through a bunch of hoops to get like a twelve-hour pass. But I do, and I go down there, and I get there and she's like, 'Oh, I heard about what happened, I'm so sorry, if there's anything I can do please tell me! And I'm like, well, that's kind of weird, but whatever."
"And then she wants to take me to lunch, so I'm like, well, I've got time, so she drags me to some fuckin' sushi place, and we're not there for like ten minutes before she basically straight up tells me she wants to sleep with me. So I'm like... hell yeah! You know?"
Presumably, he has not reached the bad part yet.
"You know." Joshua proposes something, after he starts downing a good amount of his refilled drink. Perhaps, he ponders, I will try some of that damn wine soon. Or order some tequila. Nothing bad ever came of mixing drinks. "You know, Louise might be jealous. Not that I have exshperiece with such things, but, but well, girls do not like it if you sleep around while you are sleeping with 'em." He is jumping conclusions here, he knows, but he doesn't care. "Of course, how she would know about Asuka, I don't...well, anyway."
He pauses to sway a little, and then asks a stupid question. "Which one d'you like?"
"Well, I sure as shit don't like Asuka," Leo declares, loud enough that people at nearby tables turn their heads to shoot him odd looks. "'cuz... 'cuz get this, right?"
"So we're at the fuckin'... Alaska... place, High Energy yadda yadda, whatever, and there's an Angel, and..." He pauses suddenly, bunching his face up in confusion. "... well, I don't remember exactly what happened," he confesses, after a few moments. "But basically she said that, uh, she didn't sleep with me 'cuz she liked me, she slept with me 'cuz she wanted to get back at... at Rei."
His shoulders slump as he says his 'ex-girlfriend's' name, and he leans forwards to rest his elbows on the table. "Stupid bitch," he accuses his drink, with newfound vehemence. "Doesn't even make sense... you can't..." He pauses, sighs again...
... and then abruptly looks up and asks, "Hey, can I ask you something? And tell the truth, I won't think it's weird or anything. -- to the question, I mean, not to... not to that question."
Joshua stares for a moment, and then half-laugh, half-hiccups. It sounds rather abrupt and awkward, and hurts his chest. "You-you got /used./ Inna feud between girls. Oh man, oh man, I'm shorry. Sorry. I din't even know they had a feud going on, I figured Rei jus'...I mean, who gets mad at Ayanami? Really?" He shakes his head, taking another drink and then looking up at Leo.
"Sorry, din't mean to mock you there or anythin'. You have a right to be angry. No one should use...use your feelings like that, 'specially when you were lonely 'n sufferin'. I've been used before. S'not...fun." He doesn't elaborate, however. "Um...sure, go ahead, ask any question you want. I mean bearin' in mind that loose ships sink lips and stuff."
"Man, whatever, fuck her," Leo scoffs. "/She's/ the one who kept... calling me, and shit. I don't even know how she got my number, /I/ didn't give it to her. And then there was this chick with the fuckin'... Britannians -- oh, man, dude, this scientist guy, Asplund, his assistant is /so hot/."
"So I'm trying to, you know, talk to her, while we're killing these zombie wanzers or whatever, and Asuka gets all up on my case about doing it 'in front of my girlfriend', and I'm like, bitch, what the fuck, you /know/ she--"
His voice falters suddenly, and he goes silent. it takes him a few beats to clear his throat and repeat, more quietly, "-- that we broke up. So... whatever. Girls are crazy." That, it seems, is that, and he sits back in his chair as if done...
... except then, suddenly, blurts, "Oh, right! Right, right, the question, right. Uh, okay, so - and like I said, be honest, I won't get weirded out - like... you think I'm good-looking, right?"
To support his case of 'hell yeah', he shifts in his chair and sort of half-heartedly flexes, which looks kind of ridiculous but does, at least, highlight the muscle mass he's picked up over the last few months... in concert with the A-LAWS-branded teal tanktop he's wearing.
"He's gay, ya know," Joshua notes when Asplund is mentioned. "The scientist guy. I mean, he hasn't said anythin', but I have gaydar. He's just. Totally a twink. I should introduce myself sometime, I mean he sounds /pretty/ young..." Maybe he has a 'type,' or something.
He trails off at Leo's question, however, watching him flex so as to better judge it. (Others are watching, too, either out of amusement, visual interest, or both.)
"...Yer pretty cute," he finally answers, after downing the rest of his current drink. "I mean, I wouldn't...I wouldn't knock you out of bed. You got a nice-I mean, you're good-looking! Why'd ya ask me? I mean, no offensh, but I'm lookin' for someone, you know, innerested in men."
He's done the 'crush on a straight guy' thing plenty of times before, and has no desire to try again.
Astonishingly, true to his word, Leo does not act all weirded out in the aftermath of Joshua's stammering compliments. "Hmmm," he intones thoughtfully, returning to a more natural sitting position and picking up his drink again. Without saying anything, he drains what's left of the glass, and then goes to refill it from the bottle.
"Thanks," he says, as he pours. "I was just curious. I mean, I know I can get a straight answer out of you -" He pauses, frowns, and interjects "- no pun intended -" before continuing, "- 'cuz you're not trying to, you know, seduce me, or something." He nods, as if this explains everything.
"And for what it's worth," he adds, lowering his voice conspiratorially, "If I was into dudes - or, I mean, if you were a chick - I'd totally be, you know, game." He means it as a kindness, if kind of a weird one, but, well...
Joshua smiles a little, though it's a bit crooked. "Thanks. I understand. I don' think I could seduce if I wanted to, anyway. I mean, I spent my teenager-hood nose-deep in D&D books 'n shtrategy games. I don't even know /how/ to make a move. So I jus' sorta sit around 'n wait to be noticed, which is working soooooo well." His hand gestures at the 'sooooooo' part.
"Maybe you should, you should, you know, take a break from it for a while. Take a vow of-well, not chastity, but a month without goin' on a date. Clear your head. Take a MANcation, like they shay. -I don't mean 'go after men,'" he feels obligated to add in an environment like this, "I mean take time to get t'know /you/ before you go offerin' yourself t'others. Get yer thoughts straight, 'n then you find who you wanna go after 'n you love her, Leo, you /love/ her."
He glowers at the fact that his glass is suddenly empty. "I'm gonna order some tequila. You want some tequila? I'll order us some tequila. It's good, you drink it...you drink it with lime."
"Y-yeah, totally, sure," Leo agrees to the tequila suggestion... but he sounds distracted. A mancation, huh...? Maybe it's not such a bad idea, but... it isn't like there's any romance or anything involved with him and Louise. It's just sex. Would stopping that really improve his situation...?
After a few seconds of contemplation, he decides that no, no it definitely would not. This may have something to do with the fact that it's been two days since Louise stopped talking to him, because ???, and already he's feeling more exhausted from the nightmares... not to mention, he's about ready to tear a phonebook in half.
It isn't like this is the first time Louise has been mad at him, but... he's getting more and more used to having her around, and only a few minutes away, at that. Their fights are getting increasingly torturous for him.
Two days. /TWO DAYS./ It's like he's in /Hell./
"I don't know, maybe," he says abruptly. And, just as abruptly, he continues, "So, hey, I'm sorry shit didn't work out with you and Nanbu, dude. I mean... I tried. If it helps, I didn't get any from Jung, either. Fuckin'... cocktease. Fuckin'... ... Dino."
"What a stupid name," he scoffs. "/Dino./" As if to prove how stupid of a name it is, he takes a long drink of wine.
"Nooo, izzokay. Jung probably-oh, she likes Dino, now? Huh." Joshua shrugs, as the cute waiter with the dreads brings over a bottle of tequila, two shotglasses and some salt and lime. Not that Josh has any way how one properly drinks the stuff, except that it involves lime. "I think she has somethin' for the brainy polite guys. Not to say you aren't brainy or polite! But you know, you know what I mean. And I...think Nanbu's straight," he adds, after a moment of contemplation.
He pours himself a shot, ignoring the lime and salt, and shudders. "O---okay! Okay. Okay, ummm, seeee, you alsho gotta accept sometimes girls-people-flirt because they flirt with everyone. Eeverryone. So y'can't exshpect...much of it."
A pause, and then a laugh. "Dino! Like the-like the dog from the Flintstones...!"
Leo also laughs, because although he hasn't seen Top Gun, he /has/ seen the Flintstones, because it is literally impossible to consider yourself a human being if you haven't seen the Flintstones. "I know, right?" he agrees. "Fuckin' retarded."
He spends a few more moments chortling to himself and shaking his head before he winds down and continues, more soberly - for certain definitions of soberly, "Well, whatever. I've still seen her naked, so... fuck Dino. Just-- whatever. Give me some of that."
Leo grabs at one of the shotglasses and pours himself some tequila, somehow convinced that this is still a good idea despite Joshua's reaction to it. "And Nanbu is- he's definitely gay," he assures Joshua, as he doles out tequila. "You know, uh, Browning? She's totally hot for him, too - like /super/ hot - and he hasn't gone for it, 'cuz, you know, 'cuz he's gay. I feel bad for her," he admits. "Even if she's kind of a cocktease, too. Whatever. /Women./"
To cap off his point, he sets down the bottle of tequila and downs the shot. Somehow, he manages to get it down before his eyes widen and he starts coughing violently, half-doubling over in his seat and lifting a fist to his mouth.
"He hasn't gone for-for /Excellen?/" Gay or not gay, Joshua isn't blind. "M-maybe he is gay, I dunno. Maybe he'sh jus' into buff guys or somethin.' Or he doesn't date Coordinatorsh." He shrugs, halfheartdly, before Leo starts /dying./
"Whoa! Leo, Leo, you okay? I think you are...I think we're s'posed to take a shot with-salt and lime or somethin'. Like-like thish." He doesn't know the lick-drink-suck routine, but he does manage to take a little bit of salt on the glass before he does another shot. It helps...slightly. Still tastes like death.
But hey, they're being MANLY AND BROODING HERE.
"...R-right, right, sho, uh....that remindsh me. That Tommy guy, what, where, uh, which way doesh he, uh, 's in theatre, right...?"
Leo spends the next fifteen seconds or so coughing violently into his hand, like he'd just been kicked in the lungs by the Devil, holding up his other hand to indicate that he's okay and probably not going to die. Finally, he gets it under control, clears his throat, and begins, "Tommy-"
That's as far as he gets before he starts coughing again.
After another ten seconds, he takes a deep breath, lowers his hand, and attempts to talk again. This time, it works! "I'm pretty sure he's straight," he informs Joshua, a probably surprising amount of sympathy in his voice. "I mean... he is in theatre, though, you're right. Maybe he swings both ways. I don't know. You should ask him!"
He opens his mouth to continue, but instead glances down at his shotglass, as if contemplating something. After only a moment, he pushes it away from him, and reaches for his wine glass again. "So, hey, do you want me to introduce you to Asplund, or something? I mean, he designs MS, or something, so he's probably kind of a nerd too. I bet you two would hit it off."
Once Joshua is sure Leo will not DIE, the drunken Coordinator sits back and starts to stammer a little. "I figured he was maybe shtraight," he admits with a slur and a fidget of his hands. "Jus' you know, towel 'n hot tub and...I dunno what I'm goin' on about here." On the other hand, Josh having been seen in his awful sweatsuit pajamas and glasses isn't QUITE as mortifying now.
Having given up on tequila as well, he just pours himself some wine, too. "I would-y'know that would be, uh, kinda nish. You're really-really nice when guys get t'know ya! You know? You know that? And I'll..."
He pauses. Who is left to introduce Leo to? He seems to know every girl. And anyone who would try to date Stella would get a death glare from Josh, who can't help but think of the poor Extended as a young girl even if she isn't a child. "Umm, if I meet a hot girl, I'll introducsh ya, okay?"
Leo, apparently, takes being called nice more awkwardly than he does being called cute. "Well... uh, t-thanks, man," he says uncertainly, reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. "You're, uh... you're cool, too."
"I mean... well, you know. I'm glad you guys surrendered so I don't have to sink you, or something," he offers. It seems a perfectly reasonable thing to say, at the moment.
"And, uh, I appreciate it," Leo continues. For a moment, it seems like he's going to say something more... but then he just drops his gaze back to his wine glass, and stares into it, frowning and looking terribly thoughtful.
After a few seconds, he looks up and blurts - totally trampling anything Josh may have been saying - "Can I ask you another question?"
"You wouldnta sunk me," Joshua insists with a casual, sloppy handwave, nevermind the fact that Healing Care sunk the Wolffin. But see, Josh /likes/ Leo, and he /hates/ Healing Care. So that's different! "I sometimes...wonder if I did the right...but I jus' didn't want to make more hardships for PLANT. Thassall. I wanted...I didn't want us bein' puppets of the Dee Shee."
He just stares into his own glass for a moment, trying to ignore the slightly queasy feeling that's coming from mixing drinks, and looks up at Leo. "...Yeah?"
Everybody hates Healing Care.
"If there was a guy you liked," Leo begins; his intent concentration betrays how hard he's trying to keep from slurring or rambling. "If there was a guy you liked, and... like, he really liked you, too... and, like, you had talked about it, before, and you both knew it, but you weren't dating yet, because he's - the other guy - he's... shit, I don't know..."
Leo trails off, shifts awkwardly in his seat, and eventually decides, "... recovering from... ugh, see, 'cuz his last girlfriend, she- - nnn... just, he's recovering from a bad breakup, okay, but then he decided he was ready, and he said he loved you, how would you react?"
That was a useful response, Joshua admits.
"I just, dunno. But...I mean, I'd have to think if...if /I/ was ready. An' in the back of my mind, I'd always wonder if that other girlfriend-person-whatever, if she came back, if he'd leave me for her. Or if he'd be comparin' me to her. Or if...I dunno, Imma jealous freak, I guessh." He isn't even trying not to slur; he will probably need help walking out later. "I'd...I'd have to believe he loved me, I guess, really loved me, 'n not...whatever else, you know...?"
"Well... I mean, obviously, he does," Leo - who is very bad at continuing the 'so I have this friend' style of conversation - protests. "I mean, you and him have been friends for, for like a year and a half, that-that's like, /forever./ And it, it's not like his old girlfriend can, can... come back... but... but I guess you don't know that, because..."
Leo deflates like a balloon, and slumps forwards onto the table again, folding his arms on it and leaning down to rest his forehead on them. "Fuck," he declares curtly, his volce muffled.
"...Is it Louise?" Joshua feels he should offer, or at least guess.
And probably keep drinking/
with a period at the end of that pose.
"Huh...?" Leo lifts his head off his arms just long enough to look incredulous before lowering it again. "No, no. Louise and I are just friends. I mean... you know, friends with benefits, but... I mean, don't get me wrong, she's... you know, she's /important/ to me, I care about her a lot, but we're not, like... no," he explains at length, all of it muffled by the table.
Eventually, he props himself up on his elbows and clumsily takes a swig of wine. "It's-- do you know, uh, Latooni? Subota?"
"N-noot really," Joshua admits, "not...too well..."
Damn, he needs to get better at this love-guessing thing.
"... oh," Leo says after a few moments of awkard silence, the wind totally taken out of his sails. "... well... ... you know what, just... nevermind."
He sets his glass of wine down again, straightens up more properly, and takes a deep breath. "Okay. Okay. Okay. ... Okay. ... pass me the tequila, let's try this again."
SOME TIME LATER
Leo Stenbuck and Joshua Shardul, in an orange car being chased by police cars, plow through a set of orange and white road work signs and ramp off of a pile of dirt over a creek, both hollering like idiots and half-hanging out of the windows of the car.
At the apex of the car's jump, the frame freezes, and Neo-Waylon Jenning's voice chortles, "I can't believe these boys went and got themselves in this /crazy/ predicament. Ain't no way they're gettin' outta /this/ bucket of syrup."
SOME TIME LATER
Leo Stenbuck and Joshua Shardul are sitting in a jail cell, both of them looking terribly dissheveled. Slowly, Leo turns to face Joshua. He attempts to say something, but ends up smacking his lips and sucking on his teeth for a good fifteen seconds before he manages it.
Eventually, he declares, "Let's never talk about this again."