I wanna take you for a ride (I think)! Let's discuss Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite!


September 19, 2013

I Hraet You (93)

 Beat 93: Should’ve Thrown Her in a Rubber Room…

Lloyd trotted out of the gas station at a brisk pace, holding up a plastic bag like a stolen treasure.  In his haste, he nearly became the new hood ornament of a passing truck -- but a quick swivel of his feet put him back on track and heading across the street.  “Miss O’Lea- I mean, Sheila!  I have returned with good news, and a greater bounty!” he cheered, and stumbled toward her after tripping on the curb.  “Behold!  The fruits of my -- which is to say some factory somewhere in the depths of this continent -- labors!”

“What did you get?” Sheila asked.

“Ha ha!  Prepare yourself for a grand treat, my dear!”  He reached into the bag and pulled out his bounty: a honey bun, with its glaze and sugars sticking to the crinkled wrapping.  “If what I’ve heard is true, there’s nary a woman in this world that can resist the allure of sweets.  Therefore, I offer this, a swirly tribute, to your magnificent being!”

Sheila’s head tilted slowly.  “Do I…have to say some kind of poem before I take it?”  She scratched her temple.  “I don’t think I’ve got it in me to talk like a super-flowery dandy all day long like you do.”

She’s on-point with her offhand insults, Lloyd thought with a sigh.  In spite of that, he handed her the honey bun, and watched in silence as Sheila took a few delicate bites.  “Well?  How is it?”

“It’s good.  Really good.”

Lloyd snapped his fingers.  “Heh HA!  Excellent!  So it would seem that the words of men wiser than me have come to pass!  I’ll be sure to rely on their wisdom in the future, that I may continue to win your favor!  Mayhap some day in the future, I’ll be able to offer you a cake of the highest caliber.”  He stroked his chin.  “Perhaps one with a distinct cantaloupe flavor?  I’ve always felt as if it’s a bit underrated in the fruity pantheon, you see.”

Sheila didn’t hear a word of it; her ear had wiggled long ago.  “Hey, don’t hog all of the good stuff!” said Deirdre.  She held up the honey bun and gave it a good once-over.  “Now that I’ve got an actual body, I wouldn’t mind seeing what this ‘taste’ is all about.”

“Oh, Miss O’Lea -- Deirdre.  So you’ve never eaten anything before?”

“That’s right.  I just had to watch Sheila eat -- eat, and smell, and touch…you know, things like that.”

Lloyd’s eyes widened.  “So in other words, the only senses you’ve ever really had are sight and hearing?  Then being here in the physical world must be quite an experience for you.  How are you handling it?  Have you grown accustomed to the environment?  Movement, perception, gravity?”

Deirdre gave him a particularly-smelly stink eye.  “Don’t take me lightly, boy.  Just because this is my first time being out in the real world doesn’t mean I’m totally helpless.  I’ve been around for almost as long as Sheila.”

“’Almost’ in this case being half as long, yes?”

“Please.  That’s more than long enough.”  She took a bite out of the honey bun, and pointed it at Lloyd.  “I just need a little time to get my bearings, and…and…”

“And?”

Deirdre stared fiercely at the honey bun -- and all at once, she burst into tears.  “Wha-what is this feeling?  It’s so…it’s so…it’s SO GOOD!”  She tore into the honey bun like a starving squirrel, throwing globs of sugar all over.  It vanished in two seconds’s time, with the only evidence of its existence being Deirdre’s puffed-up cheeks.  “MRRMRHMRRGH!  URRRRRRRRRRRGH!  SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”

Lloyd pulled another bun out of the bag.  “Would you like mine?”

Deirdre nearly tore Lloyd’s arm off -- and nearly choked on the bun’s wrapper in the midst of her frenzy.  “OH MY GOD!  THIS IS AMAZING!  THIS IS WHAT FOOD IS LIKE?!  WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?”  She glanced at the bag, and nearly shed more tears at the sight of its empty form.  “More!  I wanna eat more!  I’m gonna eat more!”

She shoved Lloyd aside and ran across the street, and nearly kicked the gas station door in.  But she didn’t stay gone for long; less than a minute later she came barreling out, holding as much junk food as she could carry (and dropping most of it during her dash).  “Time to bail, sweet cheeks!” she shouted.

“What?  Why?!”

Deirdre rushed back to Lloyd, and snagged him by the wrist.  “The cops are on their way!  Time to hoof it!”

“Oh, well, that is a very good reason to -- ow, my tendon!”

*

Lloyd took in a few more gasps of air, and slid down the alley’s wall into a seat.  “Well, that was a bit more cardio than I expected today.  Rather fortunate that these shoes were up to the task.  Imagine that.”  He peeked out of the alley; the town remained notably calm, and not even the faintest echo of a siren wafted through the air.  “Do you suppose the police happened to give chase?”

“How should I know?” Deirdre snapped, her face still red (and with a few specks of sugar sticking to her cheeks).  “And what’s your problem?  Why the hell didn’t you warn me about food?”

“Yes, that was my fault, I suppose.  I should have warned you about the dangers of sugar.”

“What are you apologizing for?  I’m the one who…”  She jerked her head aside.  “Fine.  I guess just this once, I’ll admit I screwed up.  But it’s not gonna happen again -- so don’t think you’ll have free reign to start laughing at me every time I do something silly!  Because I don’t do silly!  Just sexy!”

Lloyd laughed.  “Fair enough.”

“Hey!  Why are you laughing at me?”

“No, no, not at you -- just at these circumstances.  I never would have figured you would become such a gourmet so quickly.  It’s quite endearing.”

“Yeah, well…”  Deidre shook her head and shrugged, and the redness faded from her cheeks.  “I guess I learned something new today.  I like food.  And if all goes well, I’m gonna be eating a lot more of it soon enough.”  She glanced up at the sky.  “Jeez.   Now that I think about it, there’s a whole world of food out there, isn’t there?”

“Very true.  And the world of sweets is but one domain.”

“I know that much.  Jeez.  There’s pizza, and candy, and cupcakes, and cookies, and brownies, and hamburgers, and hot dogs, and…”  She ran a hand under her chin, and caught at least a pint’s worth of drool.  “Lloyd?  I think I’m broken.  I’m gonna…I’m gonna take a little break before I explode or something.”

“You’re not broken; you’ve just discovered your appeti-”

Lloyd’s words didn’t do much good.  The ear wiggle and the shift in posture said it all; Sheila had returned in full.  “Lloyd?  I…I think I’m gonna need to get my stomach pumped soon.”

“Now, now, I’m sure you’ll be all right.  Well, I hope so, at least.  You just need to teach your other half the importance of moderation.  It shouldn’t be that hard once she experiences her first stomachache.”

“I don’t know.”  She patted her hands against her stomach.  “I get the feeling that I’m about to gain a whole lot of weight.”

“Then perhaps you could counter that with a fierce exercise regimen?  I’ll help you.  We can work together, as partners!  Fun and adventures to be had as we become healthy and strong!  Would-be warriors of Porbeagle, unrivaled in the realm of physical fitness!”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“Eh?  Why not?”

“I…um…”  Sheila pressed her fingers together.  “I went jogging once, and I ended up giving a man a heart attack.”

“A heart attack?  Jogging?  How?!”

“Lloyd.  It’s me.”

“…Oh, right.”  Lloyd held up a finger.  “Ah!  Would it help if I lent you one of my father’s shirts?  His size is one that could charitably be called gargantuan, so perhaps then you’d be able to -- well, I’m not one hundred percent certain how much of physics’ wrath it would be able to absorb.”  He pressed a hand to his chest.  “It seems that even the mighty t-shirt has its limits…then again, there are many things it can accomplish that my usual ensemble could not.  Perhaps a bit of exploration of their power is in order.”

Sheila stared pensively at Lloyd.  “U-um…about your shirt…”  She pointeda wobbling finger at him.  “Do you like The Fuzzmeisters?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.  Quite an energetic bunch -- and such catchy tunes.  Granted I haven’t seen an episode in some weeks now, but I see no reason for my enjoyment of them to cease merely because I grow in age.”  He grinned at Sheila.  “If anything, the older one gets, the more they should enjoy the works that delighted them so as a child.”

“Yeah!  That’s exactly right!”  Sheila pumped her fists up and down.  “People need to understand that Season Twenty-Four of The Fuzzmeisters is just as good as Season Eleven!  Just because there are new executive producers and the saxophones have new reeds doesn’t mean that there’s been a drop in quality!  Plus, I think that since the introduction of characters like Kaiser Wilham the series has only gotten stronger with the addition of minor story arcs.  Plus, we’re seeing sides of the characters that no one would have ever imagined!  Who would have guessed that Von Boar had a…a…” 

Lloyd stared blankly at her, and she calmed down at last.  “S-so, um, I guess you could say I’m a fan of the show.”

“So it would seem.”

Sheila nodded slowly.  “I don’t know, it’s just…there’s something really charming about children’s shows.  The kinda thing that just -- just always puts a smile on your face, you know?”  She gasped sharply and raised her hands.  “B-b-but I like more than just kids’ shows, you know!  Like, I’ve always thought classic cartoons were awesome!  And they still hold up today, and are totally watchable for kids and adults!”

“Classic cartoons, huh?”  Lloyd stroked his chin.  “Oh, you mean things like the Looney Tunes?”

“Yeah, exactly!  It’s just so funny, seeing all the pranks and gags the characters pull on each other!”  Sheila turned aside, trying and failing to hide a wistful smile.  “T-to be honest, I think those cartoons meant a lot to me.  I think those were the inspiration for some of the pranks Deirdre would help me pull on my mom.”

“Really?  From cartoons?  That’s -- well, I suppose it’s very possible.”  He let loose an airy laugh.  “I hope there weren’t any anvils involved.”

“No, of course not!  I wouldn’t even know where to find one!” Sheila said, matching Lloyd’s laugh -- and as soon as she realized it, she clapped a hand to her mouth.  “Ah!  I -- ummm, uh…I mean…”

“Is something wrong?”

“N-no, it’s just…I mean…”  Sheila dropped her hand into her lap and smiled nervously at Lloyd.  “I -- I never would have guessed I’d be able to laugh and talk with someone like this.  It’s like something out of a dream.  Or maybe I AM dreaming all of this up -- this isn’t like me at all.”

“What isn’t?  You being happy, and smiling, and laughing?”

“Uh-huh.  W-well, sort of…?  Maybe…?  I don’t know, this is all just so…”  She shook her head, and stared at her knees.  “Lloyd?  You know I don’t have a lot of friends, right?  How if it wasn’t for Deirdre, I would have been all alone?  Well…I know that’s not the best way to go through life, but -- but it’s what I’m used to, you know?  So I guess for a long time, I’m gonna be really awkward and silly, and make some really dumb mistakes.  And -- oh jeez, I’m making one right now.  I’ve been doing so much rambling that you must be bored, or think I’m a nerd or something!  I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!  It’s just that I’m really bad at this whole friend thing, and I --”

“Sheila.  It’s okay.”  Lloyd held out a hand.  “To be honest, I know what you’re going through.”

“What?  You?  But you’re handsome, and friendly, and really outgoing and stuff!”

“Yes, but you know me by now.  I’m boisterous, overbearing, and more than a bit strange in my practices.  Normalcy is a skill I’ve lacked for quite some time, and it’s put me at odds with others.  In fact, I’d say that up until very recently, outside of my family you’re one of the first friends I’ve made in years.  Certainly one of the only ones I can call a schoolmate, in spite of claims to the contrary.”  He furrowed his brow.  “Even though technically we’ve both been expelled, but semantics have never stopped me before.”

“So you’re saying that -- that you’ve never had any friends?”

“Well, there was one person.  But I don’t think we’ll be meeting again anytime soon.”  Lloyd stared at Sheila, eyes wide and eyebrows high.  “Would you like me to tell you more?  It’s quite a story.”

“No, no, no!  I -- it’s not right for me to dig into your past.  I mean, this is one of our first real conversations, isn’t it?  I’m not the kind of person you can trust.”

“Why not?”

“Because I -- I’m…I, uh…”  Sheila rubbed her head.  “I…guess I don’t really have a reason.  It’s just something I do.”

Lloyd stood up and dusted off his legs.  “I won’t pretend like I know everything about you, or that I can make all your dreams come true, or even revolutionize your life.  There are many failings in my own that even the most brilliant of men couldn’t sort out.  That said, what’s important -- to me, at least -- is putting forth an effort to sort out one’s problems.  To take a stand.”  He walked toward her.  “And I choose to stand by you.  You may have been alone in the past, but so long as I draw breath you’ll never have to stand in solitude again.  I’ll help you.  I’ll support you.  I’ll do all I can to bring a smile to your face, no matter how much I may stumble.”

He held out a hand, eager to help her stand up.  “You have me, and I have you.  So let’s walk side by side from this day onward -- as friends.”

“Lloyd…”  Sheila’s eyes shifted through the alley, and for a good while her hand wavered too much to even reach for Lloyd’s.  But with a slow breath and a quick nod, she found her mettle, and seized Lloyd’s hand. 

“There we are!  Watch yourself, now -- I wouldn’t want you to trip and hurt your --”

And sure enough, Sheila kept moving forward.  She didn’t trip; she just let the momentum carry her, and only had to shift her toes to fling her body into Lloyd’s.  “That’s not all I want,” she said softly, letting her body -- her heated, yet soothing curves -- press into his.  “I…I don’t just want friends.”

“You don’t?”

Sheila nodded, and looked up at Lloyd.  “We can be more than friends, right?”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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