The following is a PSA:
The views and politics expressed by the characters of this fanfic do not necessarily reflect the views and politics of the writer, nor are they meant to convey a particular political message. Thank you.
Okay folks, we’re entering the next stage of emotional and relationship… stuff.
Chapter Ten: The Dating Game
“Uh-huh,” the doctor said for the umpteenth time. Misha was sitting on his examination bench while the labcoat clad man with short gray hair glanced through his examination results. Misha fiddled with her light pink knee-length skirt while she waited, smoothing out imaginary creases.
Finally, he was finished, “well, your friend was right; there is definitely some inner-ear damage occurring here,” the Doctor said, looking through a chart, “nothing serious, fortunately. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be done about it; corrective surgery for such a minor issue could cause serious complications, so, we’re going to have to fight this the old fashioned way.”
The Doctor looked through some drawers of his clean, white exam room and eventually pulled out a thick pamphlet entitled “Your Inner Ear and You.”
Misha took the pamphlet and skimmed it. Use earplugs, avoid loud noises, watch your blood pressure, basic stuff.
“I can’t drink alcohol?” she asked. The Doctor raised an eyebrow, which caused her to pout a little in fear. The Doctor smiled and winked.
“The key, as with most things,” he said, “is moderation. You don’t need to completely avoid alcohol, caffeine, or sodium. You do need to be careful about your intake; especially sodium, its everywhere.”
Misha nodded, “thanks, Doctor~.”
He nodded and smiled, “just doing my job.”
“How do I look?” Misha asked Carla Thursday afternoon. She looked the same as she did when she had seen the Doctor, except she had put in a few heart-shaped hair clips to pull her hair back; Lynda liked kissing around Misha’s ears. Since Carla had already connected the dots, she didn’t mind asking for her opinion. Carla’s response had been “just don’t have sex on my bed.”
Carla didn’t bother to look up from her copy of The Hunger Games
as she sat under the bright HOPE and YES WE CAN poster’s that decorated her side of the wall. Misha had found a Final Fantasy
poster and a reprint From Russia with Love
poster for her side.
“You look fine; stop worrying,” Carla said.
Misha put her hands on her hips, “I’ve never done anything like this before; I’m nervous, okay~?”
Carla put her book down to look Misha in the eye, “Shiina, do you like her?”
Misha raised an eyebrow and nodded.
“Does she like you?”
Misha nodded again.
“Then calm. The fuck. Down. If she cared about dating, or labels, or all that relationship shit, she’d probably have been more direct about it, right?”
Misha exhaled and let her shoulders slump; she hadn’t realized how tense she was until Carla had said something, “you’re right, Cacchan. She’s not very big on labels.”
Carla smiled, “of course I’m right. I’ve started to focus on sexual orientation based psychology for my major.”
“Oh, so I’m a case study to you?” Misha asked, quickly grabbing Carla in a hug. As she let go she jumped when she noticed the time.
“I need to go~,” Misha said, heading for the door, purse swinging behind her, “thank you for your help Cacchan.”
“You’re welcome. Hey, if this works out, name your first kid after me.”
“I’m your case study, isn’t that enough?”
With Carla’s laughing echoing behind her, Misha left the dorm and nearly ran into Lynda. Apparently waiting in the hall, she was dressed more or less like Misha, except her long black hair flowed behind her, brushed smooth and bright.
“Hi,” Lynda said, looking calm and fidgeting less then she normally seemed to.
“Hi,” Misha said, “you look nice.”
“Thanks, you, too.”
Misha’s brain was frozen. She knew that nothing had changed between the two, but at the same time, things had changed.
“Misha?” Lynda asked.
Realizing they were standing alone in a hallway looking like idiots, Misha nodded and led Lynda outside into the chill November air, their jackets zipped up against the autumn cold.
“Where are we going, anyway?” Lynda asked, content to let Misha run the show.
“You’ll see~,” Misha said. The two walked in silence for a few blocks, admiring the city as the sun began to set, the two occasionally commenting on a particular building or street as they walked. Every now and then some intrepid business had put up a few early Christmas decorations.
“Do you have any Christmas plans?” Misha asked Lynda, poking for conversation as they walked.
Lynda shrugged, “Will and I are going to spend it with one of my Aunt’s in Michigan,” Misha had studied an atlas of the US, so she didn’t have to keep wondering where these places were when they were mentioned. Lynda had extended the courtesy for Japan, since Misha talked about it rather frequently, “Mom’s going, too. Dad’s… still in Iraq.”
“Well, maybe that’ll change now that there’s a new President,” Misha said. American politics still confused Misha, so she had made sure to register for an American Government course in the Spring. She would have registered in the Fall, but she had decided on a US history course instead.
Lynda sighed, “I hope so, but even then, he won’t be around much; he doesn’t even have dual citizenship yet.”
“How did your parents meet?” Misha asked, her curiosity piqued.
Lynda laughed, “Same old story; girl sees boy in uniform out on the town while she’s job hunting, falls in love with the guy, and boom, marriage- I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but they’ve been married for… ten years now.”
“Wow…What happened to your bio-logical father?”
Lynda sighed, “drunk driver.”
When Lynda didn’t elaborate Misha didn’t pry; she was getting better at picking up people’s moods.
“How did your parents meet?” Lynda asked suddenly.
“Co-worker set them up,” Misha said, “Dad went to the restaurant she worked at sometimes, and once he got a glimpse of her, it was love at first sight- according to the co-worker, at least~. Dad insisted it was her cooking.”
Lynda laughed lightly, “Your father sounds like a romantic.”
Misha shrugged, “I guess so. Oh, we’re here!”
The two were standing in front of a large building with an unmistakable Asian influence in its construction, the roof shingled and angled as if it were plucked from an old samurai movie.
“What do we have here?” Lynda asked through a smirk.
“It’s a Japanese Steakhouse!” Misha answered, practically bouncing on her heals, “A local one, too- not one of those American chains! Do you like it?”
Lynda smiled and pecked Misha on the cheek, “if you picked it out, I will,” Lynda groaned at herself, “sorry, I just realized how corny that sounded.”
Misha returned the peck, “I don’t mind; I could use some corny romance in my life~,” it was better then rejection and jealousy, that was for sure.
The two stepped inside and were assaulted by Asian décor and atmosphere; though the wait staff were all dressed in Western clothes. Expensive western clothes- the online reviews had said the place wasn’t entirely “traditional,” but that just meant less of a culture shock for Lynda.
“Uh, Micchan,” Lynda whispered near Misha’s ear, “this place looks a little…expensive.”
“It is~!” Misha responded, “don’t worry, my parent’s sent me some extra money when I told them how well I did on my midterms,” Will had also given her more money, in an envelope stuck in her ASL textbook with a note that said “be good to each other.”
Lynda shrugged, “if you’re sure. Is this the kind of steakhouse where we share a table?”
Misha shook her head, “they have individual tables, too.”
“Ahem,” the maître’d coughed to grab the two young women’s attention, “may I help you?” he asked.
“Table for two, under ‘Mikado’,” Misha said.
“Ah, yes, I see it here,” he said, tapping the table chart taped to his podium. He looked at a hovering waiter nearby, who grabbed two menus from a pile and led the two to a small, secluded square table with a white linen tablecloth, in a corner with a view out to the city.
“Would you two like anything to drink?” he asked.
With Misha’s help, the two were able to order some Japanese sodas, which appeared at their table shortly afterward, along with two glasses of ice water. The waiter then withdrew to give them time to select their orders.
“Do you like the soda?” Misha asked. Lynda took a tentative sip and nodded. Again, Misha found herself relaxing from a previously unknown state of tension.
“You don’t need to be so tense, you know,” Lynda said.
Misha pouted, “I want everything to go well, though~.”
Lynda shrugged, “it will, because no matter what, we’re here together,” she rolled her eyes, “wow, I am sounding cliché tonight.”
Misha smiled, “you’re still right, though,” she said, putting her hand over Lynda’s. The two spent a few seconds looking into each other’s eyes before diverting their gaze to their menus.
The waiter returned to take their orders a minute or two later. Lynda chose a sirloin steak, while Misha opted for a seafood platter. The waiter withdrew again, stating there chef would arrive shortly.
“I forgot about that,” Lynda said, “I’ve never been to one of these places before.”
“I thought you’d like it~!”
Lynda smiled at Misha’s beaming face, “you are so cute when you smile,” Lynda said.
Misha’s face flushed slightly and she looked down at the table, “thanks,” she mumbled.
After a few seconds of silence, Lynda spoke up again, “can I ask you something?” she asked, her face an odd expression.
“Hisao and Shih-zoo-ne,” Lynda paused on the name to try and say it properly, “are your best friends, right?”
“And…they’re dating each other. It doesn’t take a genius to sense some possibility for tension there. I wouldn’t bring it up, but I want to know you better, and knowing your history is part of that,” Misha didn’t bring up her past very much; most of the conversations between the two involved school, hobbies, or Will and Henry’s latest argument.
Misha nodded and gave a short version of the three’s friendship. When she had finished Lynda spoke as Misha looked down at their table again, “you’re a good friend, you know that? Not a lot of people would stick by someone after that.”
Misha sighed, “but I did it for all the wrong reasons.”
Lynda shrugged, “this one guy I dated once said ‘if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then surely the road to Purgatory is paved with good things done for the wrong reasons.’”
Before Lynda could quickly explain Catholic theology, the two’s chef arrived. Short and dressed the part in a white chef’s outfit, he easily dragged his cooking roller and their uncooked meals up to there table. He quickly started the show, preparing their meals while easily chatting with the two women. Speaking in both English and Japanese, Misha once again found herself translating snippets of conversation. Neither Lynda nor the chef seemed to mind, and after he finished their meals he gave a bow and steered his cart out of sight.
“That was… different,” Lynda said.
“Did you like it?” Misha asked.
Lynda nodded, “dinner and a show, what’s not to like?”
The two ate in relative silence, occasionally exchanging a short question about their food. After dinner the waiter returned and enquired about dessert. Curious about what they offered, Lynda and Misha said yes, and soon found their meal topped off with some traditional Japanese desserts.
“You know,” Lynda said a she finished off her dessert, “you are really setting the bar for our next date; I’ll have to take you to a place we’ll have to wear dresses to, or something.”
Misha smiled, “I look forward to it.”
Technically, they should have dressed up for the steakhouse, but Misha hadn’t wanted to stress out over that, on top of everything else. She hadn’t packed any Japanese style clothing, anyway.
After finishing dessert and paying the bill-which was thankfully about what Misha had figured it would be- the two made their way back to Misha’s dorm room.
“You know Henry’s place is on the way to your dorm, right?” Lynda had asked.
Misha nodded, then leaned in to whisper in Lynda’s ear, trying her best to cause her own shivers for a change, “yes, but Carla said she would be gone tonight, so we’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”
Misha fervently hoped the slight shake Lynda had was unrelated to the chill air.
I could go for a steak about now…