Description: After surviving the day of the Lucky Chloe video shoot, Liza and Daisuke decide to catch Ninja Mime 3 at the Sunshine City drive-in before they have to part ways. Things get a little intense.
It's been... a long day. It might not have actually been that long stretch of a time, but it sure has felt like it, for a certain redhaired teenager who was volunteered into helping out with a music video shoot. And into acting the port of a nearly-drowning extra.
Even without getting electrocuted by accident, the whole process probably would have been pretty rough. Who would have known that filming is such a rough job? ...Well, probably anyone who had even the faintest idea of how the actual industry works, but Daisuke Kubo sure as hell didn't.
The sun is starting to set down towards the horizon behind the ocean now, and everyone's packing things in. Daisuke, too, has changed out of the swimming trunks and into his usual jeans and extremely tourist-y hawaii-print button up shirt. And he waits now in the parking lot of the beach, right by the car he hitched a ride here with in the first place.
...Waiting awkardly, one should add. He was acting kind of weird even on the way here, even before... the whole plan for the shoot was revealed to him. But what happened during is certainly present on the teen's mind now as well.
He definitely thought about taking public transit out of here with the excuse of not making things akward for his friend. But it'd be just an excuse. And, well...
There is something he was meaning to talk to her about before the shoot, anyway. He's been putting it off for too long.
It's been a long day for Liza Eddow as well. She's had to spend the entirety of it in the sun, most of it dancing like her life depended on it (which might not be too far from the truth, considering that she works for Lucky Chloe), and the rest in a cycle of repeated misadventures in pretend-kissing her closest school friend. Daisuke might not have died when the spark went off between them, but something inside Liza definitely did.
Still, she's seen the inside of a beachside shower stall since, and she's visibly feeling much more fresh as she makes her way up the beach, a pair of short beige shorts pulled on over the bottom of her red one-piece and a pair of brown sandals on her feet, her newly-dried dark brown ponytail and bangs blowing in the breeze as she approaches her car with her towel over one arm, a water bottle in hand and her beachbag slung over the opposite shoulder.
She smiles at Daisuke as she approaches. If she's feeling awkward on the inside, it's not showing. The truth is, she's just glad she didn't kill one of her two besties, or totally let down the other one.
"Ohayo, Daisuke!" she says informally, twisting the cap onto the bottle she's just taken a drink from. "I hope you're feeling better! That was pretty intense, huh? Even more than usual for one of Chloe-chan's shoots..."
Daisuke is quick to straighten up from his slouching lean against the side of Liza's car when he spots her approaching. He is doing his best not to look akward too, for the record, but some of it does still come through in the smile he offers her way as he lifts a hand up in a casual kind of wave.
"Hey, Raiza," he calls to her (apparently the more 'japanese' pronounciation of her name still comes more naturally for him), only to promptly glance off to the side with the words that follow her greeting. "Y-yeah, well... It was definitely something, right? I'm a little worried about what a normal shoot is like for you, though..." An akward little laugh comes with that attempt at playing the whole thing off. His eyes turn back to look uncertainly at his friend, and after a few seconds of hesitation...
"Hey, listen, uh... are you in a hurry to get back home or anything?" He asks, all the while trying to fight off the rising nervousness in his chest, foot scuffing down against the asphalt below and all. "There's... kinda something I should talk to you about. If we could go somewhere?" He doesn't immediately clarify what 'somewhere' would be, either.
Liza seems slightly caught out by Daisuke's question, her brown eyes widening a little in a way that almost makes her look like one of those anime characters that she loves. It's an innocent enough expression, though it masks the sudden worry that's running through her veins. She beats back the heat threatening to flush her cheeks, though, and instead smiles casually. "Of course! I mean, as long as I'm not too late, my dad won't mind. I told them I'd sort myself out for dinner, anyway. And I was going to ask you if you wanted to go somewhere! You know, to say thanks for everything. We can go whereever you want, as long as it's not the Daybreak Diner. I, umm, I'm pretty sure they didn't pass their health certificate." It might not take a psychic to figure out that that assertion is a lie wrapped in some hidden shame. Still, she pops open the trunk and turns the car on with her key fob, rolling down the windows to let it air out while she puts her belongings in the rear.
"It's open!" she chimes, taking a moment to fuss around and make sure that all of the ninja tools she's had on her the whole time are accounted for. Satisfied, she slams the trunk shut and wanders around to the driver's side door, popping it open and slinging herself into the seat casually and checking her mirrors before she starts to buckle up.
"Your turn to pick the music, too," she offers.
"Oh, sure, that sounds... good, yeah, good." Daisuke agrees easily enough with the thought of going to get food, apparently. And if he caught any kind of reaction he might have caused in Liza, he's not letting it show either. Though he *does* blink with a little bit of surprise when she completely closes off a certain diner as an option altogether. "Oh, uh... okay? Um..."
The redhead rubs his hand along the back of his neck akwardly while she's going to check on the trunk of her car, lost in some uncertain thought of his own. But when she acknowledges the car doors to be unlocked, he obediently moves to open the passenger's side door and slip in.
"Oh... It's not like I brought any with me," he admits on the topic of the music too, while pulling the seatbelt over himself. "It's fine if you wanna pick something, honest. And, uh... I don't really know the restaurants around these parts as well as you do either, I think. Is there someplace where we can talk privately...?"
That might have been a poor choice of words, considering everything else that happened today, but he doesn't seem the least bit conscious of it himself.
"Or we could get takeout and go somewhere quiet...?"
"Well, if you're sure you don't mind." In that case, Daisuke is getting treated to a playlist of the Fairy Tale opening and closing themes, kicking off with FUNKIST's 'Snow Fairy.' Liza cues the playlist up on her phone as she gets comfortable. She taps her lower lip thoughtfully as she considers what possibilities might exist for restaurants that they could go to. There's all the usual places - the chains, like McDonald's, or the wonders of Taco Bell to which she could expose her new-to-these-shores amigo, or that burger joint that she'd gone to with Buck and Kenzo. But then Daisuke starts going on about somewhere to talk privately. Or getting takeout and going somewhere quiet. This twigs something in the back of Liza's brain, but she can't quite put a finger on what that trigger is.
"Oh! In that case, why don't we go to the drive-in? They usually play old Johnny Cage movies on Friday nights. We don't have to watch too close or anything. It'll just be a nice place to park for a bit and chat. My treat. Sound good?" She cocks her head slightly to one side as she shifts the car into gear before flitting her eyes up to the rear view as she starts to pull out, taking her time amongst the rest of the vehicles that are leaving the beach one-by-one as the shoot closes out. "It'll be nice to be on the other side of a camera," she adds with an awkwardly joking tone.
"Um..." Daisuke looks on a bit dubiously at Liza after a minute or so of listening in on her choice of music. "Is this from anime...?" The question is more curious than accusatory in tone, mind you, although... There might be a *little* bit of amusement on the redhead's features. Just a little.
The suggestion of a drive-in runs through Daisuke's mind, and after a second or so of consideration he nods his head. "Yeah, alright, sounds good... Though I dunno, I feel like I should be paying for it sincec I'm putting you up to this..." A different thought hits him right then, and he gives a subtle scratch to his cheek. "I didn't realize drive-ins were still a thing here, though... I thought you'd only really see them in, like, movies from the eighties and stuff." Probably mostly some sappy high school dramas. Or slasher movies where the drive-in is mostly a setting for some couple on a date getting killed while they are still in their car or something.
Perhaps it's best Daisuke doesn't mention that particular thought, though.
As akward as the brunette's joke might have been, it does still draw a little snort from the redhead. "Yeah, I can imagine..." He offers, with a faint, but assuring smile sent sidelong to her. "...You're braver than I am, you know. Being able to do that so easily." Taking a slow breath right after that, however, he props his elbow to the frame of the passenger side window, head leaning against his palm while his gaze drifts off to the cityscape rolling by them.
Yeah, it's akward. He was hoping it wasn't going to be akward, but there really was no way it wasn't going to be, was there? The reflection that would be occasionally visible from the window of Daisuke's expression to Liza is... something that looks guilty.
The truth is, the boy is scared right now. Of what will happen when he says what he has to say. But not saying it would probably be worse. He just needs to steel himself.
"Well, yeah! It's from Fairy Tail!" Liza says about the music, almost sounding a little defensive or shy about it. She's aware that there are some circles that judge Fairy Tail and its fans harshly, with its emphasis on pathos and swimsuit OVAs. "I mean, I like Black Lagoon and stuff too," she adds quickly, trying to sound cooler and edgier, although she doesn't change the music.
"No, no, you don't have to pay. I was gonna buy you dinner anyway, remember? And I'm guessing you don't get paid much as an intern."
Pretty soon, they're pulling away toward the drive-in; it's not too far away, just slightly further inland. It's visible from a distance, given the mostly flat field space around it.
"I'm not braver than you!" Liza says with a surprised tone as Daisuke says that. "I mean, you fight crime, you volunteered to get blown into the ocean when you can't swim, and worst of all, you agreed to get mouth to mouth from me! You should probably get a medal!"
There's her joking laugh again, the little inward cringe escaping into her voice. But then she smiles. "I'm looking forward to this. It feels like a long time since we got to just hang out together. Plus, Ninja Mime 3 is like, the best in the series!" she says as she pulls in to the drive-in. It's not particularly lively, but it's got the usual crowd for Cage Night, which is always popular with the denizens of Outer Sunshine.
There's an entirely deadpan look from Daisuke at first-- but then he's letting out a subtle laugh, one that he shields as much as he can with a hand over his mouth. "It's okay," he murmurs right after, with a little wave sent towards her. "You shouldn't have to justify liking stuff, you know? It's not like my tastes are that different..."
In the end, Daisuke isn't entirely willing to argue the point of who is paying and who isn't much more either. But when she argues his claim of her being the braver one, he can practically feel himself shrink there in his side of the front seating, laughing akwardly with a vaguely defensive gesture made with his hand while he glances away. "It's... different kind of brave, you know?" He tries to insist, and--
The mention of the mouth-to-mouth makes him cough. And very deliberately turn his face off to the side so he can hide the red color at his cheeks. Though he does mutter, "...It wasn't that bad."
Closing in on the drive-in proper though, he does start trying to peek around the interior framings of the car's windows in an effort to get a better look at what's waiting for him up ahead. He's never seen a drive-in in person! "So... Do people our age do this kinda thing a lot over here?" He asks with an akward little tone, suddenly shuffling with some rising nervousness for a couple seconds.
"Oh, good. I mean, I'm glad you feel that way," Liza says as Daisuke says that he doesn't think she should have to justify her tastes. "I never got why some people think bad of you for liking what you like. I mean, as long as it's not hurting anybody; otherwise, it'd probably be kinda boring if everybody liked the same things so people only made the same stuff again and again!" the girl says, unwittingly deriding the corporate-controlled world of mainstream media. What's wrong with the capitalist dream, Liza?
"Well, we're all different kinds of brave. I mean, it's only really brave if it's something that scares you, right?"
Liza does appear to catch Daisuke's comment, which causes her to flutter her eyelashes in bewilderment. "Oh, you... liked that? I hope I haven't turned you onto some weird thing for getting electrocuted..." Wait, weren't you just going on about how everyone should be free to like what they like? She does look a little red at the comment.
"Anyway, I dunno! My dad used to take me here every now and then. He loves the cars and we both love the Johnny Cage movies. I think people our age mostly come here on dates," Liza says as a waiter on rollerskates from the food stand comes up next to them.
"Hi! Two tickets, and I'll have a Dr Pepper and an order of nachos and a hot dog with ketchup and mustard," Liza tells the attendant, before turning to Daisuke. "What do you want, Daisuke?"
"Wh--" Daisuke's sputtering and flushing red at the idea that he's somehow ended up finding a rather interesting... well, 'thing' to like. His hands are quickly waving in front of him in protest at that while he stutters out, "N-n-no that's n-not what I m-m-meant! I just-- Ah--" Deciding to quickly turn away to hide his fiercely burning face, he then just mutters, "...Nevermind..." In an effort to... well, run away from that particulalr line of inquiry.
He's notably quiet on the initial bit of knowledge about what people mostly come to a drive-in for -- only partially because there's an order to be put in. When prompted, Daisuke looks very much indecisive for a moment, before simply offering, "Uh, the same, I guess?"
Another moment of silence passes over the redhead after that. He's still trying to decide a good time to talk about what he was intending tell Liza in the first place, but his nerves aren't helping him. But in an effort to keep the silence from getting too akward, he does say, entirely-too-casually, without even thinking about it, "I guess this is *kind of* like a date..." Only to internally kick himself right after for having said that.
The waitress heads off to put the pair's order in at the food station while Liza and Daisuke get settled in for the film. It's currently showing trailers for movies about to be released years ago.
When Daisuke brings up that what they're doing is kind of like a date, Liza looks visibly offended.
"Oh, jeez. Don't talk to me about dates! I went on my first date the other night. I feel like it was an even bigger disaster than the video shoot today," she says, slapping her hands over her eyes as her cringe factor turns up to eleven. She lowers them a second later and turns a plaintive look to Daisuke. "Look, no telling anybody about this ever, okay? There's nothing wrong with the Daybreak Diner. It's just where I went for my first date with Rafferty. You know, the blond guy we rescued who used to have a robot girlfriend? He lives near here too."
She turns her eyes back to the screen and exhales, practically deflating as she does so, arms slumping at her sides. "So, we got like, a little ways into the date, and suddenly Rafferty's phone started talking to him. And it turns out it was his girlfriend! She was totally Google Analytics-ing our date. Then she started threatening me and making it sound like I was a total skank, so I ran out and ended up going up the boardwalk to the Arcade and falling off the wagon with my Dance Dance Addiction."
She leans her head back against the headrest of the seat. "I should probably just give up on any of that stuff for good. My first date was a total cringefest and I kinda almost killed a boy on my technically first kiss."
Daisuke might have kind of figured his poor choice of words might have resulted in *something* akward, but he didn't expect *that* big of a reaction from Liza. He's completely caught off guard by it, and he's left staring, wide-eyed at the brunette, until she starts explaining herself.
He's nodding along, too, to confirm that he does in fact remember Rafferty, and probably something or the other about a robot girlfriend as well. ... And his head slooowly tilts to the side, with the revelation that this date she was on was crashed by said robot girlfriend through a phone.
Understandably this all kind of leaves him speechless for a moment.
"...Uhm. I'm sorry," he eventually offers, tone quiet and akward, only leading into even more akward silence from there.
"...Look, it's not like I have any real experience with dates," he eventually starts to say, apparently deciding that at least *trying* to offer some kind of advice is better than just sitting quietly and akwardly there after that little blunder. "But I don't think you should give up on... trying to be happy just because of that, you know?" With a small, akward smile offered over to her way while he lightly scratches the back of one ear with some growing nervousness, uncertain if anything he is saying actually sounds sensible in any way or form. "Bad first experiences don't have to dictate how the rest of our lives go. And everyone deserves to have a chance to be happy with... that stuff." 'That stuff' probably being 'relationships', but said in a way that can really only be said in a fet of teenaged akwardness.
"...You deserve to be happy too, you know?"
Perhaps realizing how unbelievably corny that sounded, his gaze flickers off away from her, quickly pretending to focus on the projection screen instead.
...He did also decide not to bring up the fact that technically what happened at the beach was also *his* first kiss. But it could probably be deduced from everything else he's gone and said.
The flush of embarrassment returns to Liza's cheeks as Daisuke offers sympathy and encouragement. Having someone her own age offering support and not judgment helps her to feel less like a freak. It even kind of makes up for feeling one hundred percent freakish after the lip-lock debacle that was caught on camera (and soon to be immortalized forever on FightTube) earlier today. A calm falls over her as she both rises and relaxes, shifting out of her slump in her seat to a more typical teenage slouch.
"Thanks, Daisuke," she says gratefully. "I guess I don't have to give up. But I might have to make sure any future dates are wearing rubber boots," she says with a laugh as she pushes her bangs out of her face.
"I like a man in rubber boots," the waitress says outside the driver's side window as she holds out the tray with the teens' food.
"Oh, cool," Liza says with an awkward smile as she quickly pulls out a few bills and hastily shoves them toward the server. "Keep the change!"
With that, she takes the tray, finding that she can't roll up the power window quick enough. The waitress shrugs and wanders off.
Turning back to Daisuke, Raiza sets the tray down between them. The identical meals have been helpfully separated from each other on the tray. She starts by taking her nachos off and starting to nibble.
"You can have first dibs on the dogs," she offers with a half-smile mid-crunch. "You're right about not letting bad experiences take over your whole life. I usually don't let those kinds of things get me down for very long. There's so many good things, so why stay focused on the bad stuff? Like right now. This is nice."
'Don't let bad experiences take over your whole life'
Daisuke might have been the one who said it first, but heating Liza repeat it back to them, he feels... like it doesn't apply to him.
And neither does the part about everyone deserving to be happy. He is such a hypocrite.
"Y-yeah..." He offers in a breath, though he has to look away got a moment, while his teeth worry at his lower lip. Trying to hide his own conflicted feelings from him. "This is nice."
Damnit. Now he feels even worse about what he has to say. But maybe he can let this moment linger for a little longer, right...?
Even if he personally might not deserve it.
He is content enough to spend a moment longer to just sit there a moment longer instead of ruining things right away. Even if he falls into quiet akwardnesd again, idly munching his way through the hot dog while only half-watching the corny action movie on the big screen. But, eventually...
"Hey, listen..." he mumbles, while setting a cleaned out wrapper onto the tray between the two. One hand instinctively squeezing at his own knee after. "... I'm going to be heading to Metro soon, right? I, uh... I haven't been entirely honest about my reasons for being here..."
Liza carefully balances her nachos and hot dog as she watches the movie and enjoys the deliciously cheap (in quality if not pricetag) meal, occasionally using a napkin to tidy her lips or fingers. "Oh, I love this part," she blurts out as Johnny Cage starts to mime his way through an over-the-top choreographed combat sequence that proceeds with him pulling himself up an invisible rope onto a balcony before spinkicking the bad guy peering in confusion at him over the railing.
"I know they do tons with CGI nowadays, but I love the wire work he did in this series. It almost feels more real, you know? Like, 'cause it's a real stunt." Liza did say that she used to go to these with her dad, which might account for an attitude that's probably more common with the older generation.
She looks over when Daisuke starts to talk to her, having just made the ambitious decision to fit the remainder of the sausage in her mouth. Stopping mid-chew to raise her eyebrows inquisitively, she has a severe case of hot dog-shaped chipmunk cheek.
She chews rapidly for a few moments and gulps.
"You mean you're not really an intern on Team Frost? But how are you here in America, then? Don't you have to have a visa?" she asks, looking confused.
"I mean... I *am* an intern for them, yeah. I m-mean, officially, anyway..."
The drifting of Daisuke's words lingers for a moment, while he tries to decide what exactly to be doing with his hands. Ultimately, he ends up deciding to clasp those hands together over his lap, while his gaze similiarly drifts downwards, as if he might be ashamed of something.
"Thing is... I'm not gonna go into details, but the reason I'm an intern with them is... kind of a front. I'm involved with something that's probably going to be putting me into trouble with some really dangerous people. Because of my powers, you know? And... uhm..."
He shifts uncomfortably on his seat, unable to even try to look at the brunette for a good while now. And his gaze still remains loosely on his clasped-together hands.
"...I don't really know how things are gonna go here, but... In all likelihood, I..." A deep breath. "...I might not be able to go home again."
Liza's face screws up as she searches Daisuke's for the context and meaning that his words aren't really providing for her. Unfortunately for the two of them, Liza is the one who almost always speaks her mind plainly, while Daisuke is the psychic. If things were reversed, they'd probably have an easier time communicating.
Instead, they're just teenagers, which means that talking about something that's actually important is awkward and stunted.
"Umm... you're not a terrorist now, are you, Kubo-san?" she finally asks, raising an eyebrow. "'Cause if you're being forced to work for some shadowy evil organisation, I can definitely help you bail on them! We have a whole secret ninja village you can hide in, remember? And it's close to where you live, so you could come home after all! Kind of, anyway! Is it the Black Dragon? 'Cause the Edo clan has like, totally dealt with them before. You just wouldn't have heard about it, 'cause we're ninjas."
This conversation calls for a long sip of ice-cold Dr Pepper, Liza decides, before indulging herself.
Daisuke's a little thrown off. Not just by the fact that Liza's first guess is that he's ended up becoming a terrorist of some kind, but also by the sudden dropping of the 'Kubo-san' moniker. That latter one actually makes him wince faintly. To be fair to Daisuke, he did *just recently* learn how to properly control his empathic senses, and so he's very deliberately trying to *not* read anything off of his friend with psychic abilities. Out of respect, you know? Even if that does inevitably make reading each other that much more difficult.
"N-no, it's not like that!" He insists quickly though, with a frown. "Look, I... I really can't tell you everything. It's safer that way. But... nnnhh..." The redhead has to wrack his brain for a moment, to try to come up with some way to provide an explanation that will be satisfying enough while still not putting his friend into danger by accident.
"It's... it's to do with my powers, okay?" He decides to provide eventually, with his shoulders slumping slightly. "... I found someone else who has... kind of similiar powers. Not the exact same, but it's... it's hard to explain. But I'm trying to help them find others, and... Protect them. There's some really, really bad and *really* powerful people out there who want to use people like us. I don't think I have their attention, yet, but like..."
He swallows audibly, right then. "...Look. I've been trying to keep my powers a secret from most people even before all this, right? Thing is, I think there's a good chance some people I'd rather not find out already did, and if they bring that information back home, it's... not gonna be just those bad people I mentioned who will want to try to grab me, you know?"
"Daisuke," Liza says quietly as she tilts her head slightly to one side and pouts - not a petulant pout, but a sincere, almost offended one. "I'm a -ninja-, remember? You said it yourself. Keeping secrets is natural for ninjas! So why are you trying so hard not to tell me exactly what you're talking about? We share secrets, don't we? Because we trust each other. And you already put yourself in danger for me before, so don't try to use putting me in danger as an excuse. If there was anything I could do to help you, and I didn't get the chance, it would give me the worst tummyache ever," she says, harkening back to their conversation on top of the roof of Taiyo High some time before.
"And besides, I can't use any of this for my manga if I don't have any details, can I?"
"Raiza..." Daisuke sighs out, with a very much conflicted kind of expression. Truth is, part of him is glad that there's someone who wants to be that insistent about helping him.
But that's also what makes this all the more painful for him.
"It's partly because of that other person..." He finally admits, with kind of a guilty look in his eye. "I don't think they trust anyone. Honestly, I think they might kick my ass for telling even this much, and... um... Trust me, they *can* tell."
With a heavy sigh, he slumps against his seat in very much a similiar manner Liza had earlier, complete with his head leaned far back against the headrest while his eyes peer into the roof of the car. "...Believe me, I do *want* to tell you. I want to talk about this stuff to anyone at all. I just... I can't. And this..." His lips purse, and for just a moment, his left hand tightens it's fingers to form a momentarily-shaking fist. "...This is something I have to do."
But then? Then his head tips back upright, and he turns a narrow-eyed look at his friend. "...Liza. You... haven't been drawing me into a manga or something, have you?" He doesn't actually sound upset about that. There is just a *hint* of amusement in his eye. It's meant to be more of a teasing thing.
Liza frowns at her nachos, the last of which are starting to go cold by now. She picks at them as Daisuke speaks, eventually going ahead and crunching the final fully-intact, cheesy chip, having saved it for last. She munches on it thoughtfully for a little bit before turning to Daisuke.
"So, it's someone on Team Frost. Obviously, it's not the Secretary of Defense. And it's probably not Abigail, 'cause you definitely don't have anything in common with him."
Liza looks thoughtful for another moment.
"So it's either that guy with the trenchcoat, or it's that Juri lady. I'm guessing it's the guy with the trenchcoat, since you both like wearing scarves so much. Is that it? The scarf is the secret of your super power? See, now that I've figured it out, you might as well tell me everything."
Liza reaches around behind the seat she's sitting in to grab a pad of paper that she's been keeping in the backseat. She holds it out to Daisuke, flipping up one of the pages to show what looks strikingly like a manga-fied black and white ink drawing of Blazing Panther with arms folded and scarf blowing in the wind. A line of dialogue above him reads, '...So I do what I do because it *does* feel right.' She then lifts the page again, showing that there are more pictures, mostly action poses with exaggerated martial prowess and superpowers on display.
"Of course I have. I draw stuff that I see in real life. Plus, Blazing Panther is like, the second main character in the story."
There are glimpses of the other main character - who appears to be a badass female ninja with lightning powers and a Pikachu mask - but for whatever reason, Liza doesn't seem to be keen to show those ones off too much.
An utterly deadpan stare is Daisuke's first response to Liza's guesswork. She did get incredibly close, but he can't really bring himself to admit that. Or even say that she got it wrong. But he does find himself asking of her, bemused, "...Why would it be the scarf?"
He is actually surprised to find that she does, also, have material evidence to support her answer to what was originally intended as an entirely teasing question. The surprise only grows more when he sees just how exactly she has drawn him there, complete with a quote he vaguely recalls saying to her once upon a time.
"Wow, I..." Is his lip wobbling a little? "...I guess I did tell you you could use that line, huh..."
It doesn't take long until he is averting his gaze, turning almost completely away from the girl, while a hand goes to rub over his eyes. It's definitely because he got some dust in there. Not at all because there's some suspicious moisture building up in there. Definitely not because of that.
"I don't deserve to be thought of that highly," he mutters, while still keeping himself facing away. "...And you deserve better."
"Well, scarves are like, important," Liza says with some assurance of the fact. After all, the legendary Ryu Hayabusa, one of her biggest ninja idols, is known to wear scarves. Not to mention all the anime characters that wear them. She kind of wants to wear one herself, but she's been told by her cousin Hisashi that only experienced ninja are allowed to wear them. It had made her assume that Daisuke was an elite shinobi when she found out about his alter ego. Still, trying to figure out the exact significance of the association distracts her from considering whether Daisuke would actually admit if she were right, long enough for the change of subject to dominate.
"Yeah, you did. And of course you deserve to be thought of that highly. I mean, Chloe-chan would be in there too, but her image is kinda copyrighted, and I didn't want people to suspect her of participating in clandestine corporate investigations, so I had to change her part up a bit."
Happy Cleo is a distinct intellectual property, she's sure.
"...But, um, what do you mean, I deserve better? You've always been nice to me, and you're a good person, and an awesome cook."
"That's not..." Daisuke starts to say, only for him to have to cut himself short before he says something phenomenally dumb. Not that what comes out shortly after is much better.
"... You think I'm much better than I am, you know."
The redhead shifts unomfortably in his seat, his green gaze not quite managing to find anywhere to settle on without falling into nervous fits again. "... I don't... really know how to explain things better. In a way that makes sense. I don't really deserve a friend like you, though. I don't... deserve to want the things I want either."
He's rambling. He can probably tell as much too, since he's forcefully silencing himself again there, turning on his seat yo prop his elbow to the side window and peer himself out of it. Trying to keep his emotions in check. And hide the ones that do spill out. He doesn't even turn back to her when he does speak again.
"...I'm sorry. I might not see you gain after today."
"Of course you will."
Liza finally breaks the silence that she'd fallen into when Daisuke started to talk about not knowing how to explain things, and how he didn't deserve a friend like her, or to want the things he wanted. She doesn't have the certainty to answer any of those statements, because she doesn't really know what they mean or where they're coming from. The last statement, though, she feels confident enough to refute openly.
"There's no reason you won't. I'll make sure you get to see me even if I have to video message you to do it. And you don't have to tell me everything right now, as long as you promise you will someday. And if you try and disappear on me, I'll find you. Don't think I won't. I'm not scared of anything anymore."
Anything except tummyaches. She's kind of getting one now, and it's not just 'cause of the theatre food, but she doesn't let it show. Her expression is serious as she stares at the back of his head.
The redhead stays turned away for a good moment, still. A few seconds still even after Liza has finished speaking, that seem to last almost forever. An eternity before he finally moves again; slowly turning to face the brunette again. There's equal amounts of confusion and sadness in his gaze when he meets her eyes.
Such a simple question, but considering the situation, it might very well sound like the most absurd possible thing to say. And yet.
"Why would you...?" He can't quite bring himself to finish that question, however.
Liza pulls a face when Daisuke turns that question on her, her lips curling in and cheeks puffing up as her eyebrows lower. Honestly, she looks like she has gas. It's not very flattering.
"Because you're my friend, you dummy!" she finally bursts out with. And then, she leans over, invading Daisuke's personal space to try and wrap her arms around his middle in a hug. It's probably the most awkward attempt at hugging ever, between the tray sliding off her lap and Daisuke being sat down and the gearshift digging into her thigh and missing the second best scene in Ninja Mime 3 (with the invisible kusarigama), but the ninja girl is determined to make it happen.
And also not to cry.
Daisuke is left, in a word stunned. Not because of Liza more or less making a mess from the leftover movie snacks definitely getting knocked over, but ftom Liza even making a point of such a gesture in the first place.
His perspectives are all screwed up like that.
But, after a moment of being sat frozen there, he does let himself submit to the hug. To lean in and wrap his own arms around her, while his head tips low to nearly bury his face against her shoulder.
"I'm sorry ," his partially muffled voice comes soon after. "I'm sorry..."
Liza just holds the hug for the moment. It's not like there's anything she hasn't seen a dozen times going on on the screen anyway. And luckily, there's no electric shock this time. She rubs Daisuke's back faintly with one hand. It's a little awkward to do, but she doesn't mind.
"Apologies are for when you've done something wrong, Daisuke," she says gently. "And you haven't done anything wrong." She's quiet for a moment, then adds, "I can get you some fresh nachos if you want." She's pretty sure she's knocked them all over the floor.
"I kinda did though," Daisuke insists, while his arms briefly give a tighter squeeze around his friend. "I'm putting you through all this. I'm making you worry and everything. I've been a shitty friend."
He's leaning back, then, if only to keep things from getting more uncomfortable for Liza. He must be at least somewhat aware of the shift stick down there. His hand wipes at one eye while he does. It's... still because of dust. Honest.
"Don't worry about the nachos, it's... fine." He does smile akwardly then, even with some moisture still left over in one eye. "Aldo sorry for, uh..." He's glancing away then. "...Ruining your first kiss."
Liza leans back into her own seat as well, her back against the car door so that her body continues to face toward Daisuke's.
"It's not being a bad friend. You're just trying to do what your other friend wants you to do. And that's okay, as long as you're sure that they want what's best for you, too. But you can count on me if you need to, too. I want to help."
She suddenly looks just a bit flustered again when Daisuke makes the comment about ruining her first kiss, before laughing awkwardly, her own expression apologetic.
"Um, I think I'm the one who ruined it, if anything! I mean, if it even counts. You're the one who got zapped! That was totally my fault. Apparently I couldn't control myself. Which is weird, 'cause it was just pretend. I think there was something in the water."
"It's just that..." Daisuke murmurs, biting down at his lower lip while he considers his exact wording for what he is trying to convey from within the depths of his mind. But what it ultimately comes down to ends up bdeing pretty simple. "...I don't want you to get hurt because of me."
And even though he's the one who brought it up again, he does still cough akwardly at Liza's words on the Kiss Incident. A flush of colour quickly spreading over his cheeks while his gaze falls a little. "W-well, I mean..." He mumbles, with an akward laugh rumbling up along his throat. "...If it was because you were nervous, I mean, like... I think it's normal to be that nervous at first even if it's just, like, acting or whatever... And even if it's someone who isn't really anyone's type like me."
Liza lifts her shoulders a little in a shrug at Daisuke's first conclusion. "If I did get hurt, it'd be because of my own decision. It wouldn't be your fault."
She looks a little bit bemused at the other subject, though, pushing a stray lock of hair back behind her ear as she pinkens. For some reason, the inside of the Ford seems a bit warm. Maybe it's because she cut the engine (and A/C) a little while ago. She could roll the windows down, but then people might hear, and that might just be more incentive for harakiri than exposing the secrets of the Edo-ryuu to outsiders.
"I guess I was nervous. I didn't expect to be. I read so many romance manga, I thought I wouldn't have any trouble acting something like that out. Especially since it was just pretend." She scratches awkwardly at the side of her neck. "Anyway, it was actually - hey, what do you mean? You're definitely somebody's type! Stop being mean to yourself!"
This one actually merits Liza throwing a crumpled-up wrapper ball that formerly housed a hotdog at Daisuke's head.
"Imagine if somebody else said that stuff about somebody you cared about! You'd be totally ticked off at them. Look, I'll..."
Liza's face suddenly blushes furiously.
"...I'll do it again, if it helps you cheer up!"
"Wah!" Yelps Daisuke as a paper projectile bounces off of his forehead, leaving him squinting in what looks like could be his best approximation of a 'DX' face.
He's actually kind of shocked at that reaction, for his own dumb reasons. Hearing her go off like that, too, leaves him not just staring at her wide-eyed, but suddenly feeling even more akward. Sheesh, it really is kind of weirdly warm in that car now, huh?
And it just keeps escalating. His face is quickly mirroring Liza's as her last words sink in.
"Y-you... You don't have to, just because of... that..." He mumbles, suddenly incredibly nervous, eyes flicking this way and that while his face positively burns up. "I m-mean, it's not that I-- I mean, um, that's not stuff that just friends, you know-- you shouldn't--"
There's an audible swallow in his throat, the boy looking away out through the window for a moment at the end of his nervous mumbling. But he's soon enough peeking at the brunette again from the corner of his eye, first, and then turning to fully face her again, and looking her in the eye.
A few more seconds of blushing hesitation, before he quietly asks, barely above a whisper:
"Do... you want to...?"
Liza still has a little bit of an angry look on her face as she wordlessly processes Daisuke's question, her expression failing to betray anything other than annoyance.
She hadn't been planning any of this. If she had, she definitely would have thought to bring a pack of spearmint. And she wouldn't have ordered a hot dog and nachos. But at least Daisuke did order the same thing as her, so hopefully that means that any hot dog breath will cancel itself out. She's not even sure what the fact that her heart is beating faster now means. That might be the Dr Pepper in action. But so be it; she wouldn't drink the Pepper if she weren't prepared to deal with the consequences. Her motivations are inscrutable to herself, save for one:
This is definitely how it would go in her manga.
Her eyes narrow and lips tighten.
She lunges forward, almost, this time propping herself up on her knees to allow her upper body to bypass the intervening fixtures of the automobile.
And in a moment, she's hovering, eyes closed, her lips only millimeters from Daisuke's, leaving just a tiny gap (and possibly a little bit of soda-nacho-hot-dog-breath) for the red-haired youth to brave if he wants to try for a proper first kiss with the kunoichi.
This is the biggest surprise to Daisuke this whole night. Just that singular word of her answer is enough to make him tense up in place, and even then he's not given enough time to really process the implication of that answer before she's suddenly *right there*, and he finds himself staring at nearly point blank at her closed eyes now instead. And then down at her tantalizingly close lips.
A breath hitches in the redhead's throat. In a few seconds, she might be able to hear the boy shift on his seat. Leaning a bit higher and closer, and guiding one arm around the kunoichi's middle. A few second's after, she can even feel his breath tickling at her skin as he gets closer and closer...
It seems like he does want to, too, in spite of all of his self-deprecating words. Just a few millimiters more.
And he could be happy.
He could be. But... something tugs at him. A hole somewhere within his soul, that he thought, just for a moment, he could forget about, even if just for a little while. But in the end...
At the very last second before lips would come brushing together, he tilts his head down to redirect himself. He's still left hovering in range enough for nacho breath to be felt by both teens, but the look Liza will find on her friend upon opening her eyes is... something conflicted. Something filled with pain, outright.
"...I'm not allowed to."
Not allowed to be happy. That's what the hole inside him is telling him. Of course, Liza could *very easily* misinterpret that in the worst possible ways, but even in the best case scenario? Even if she reads him correctly, she's surely getting at least a hint of just how broken this boy is.
A feeling of heavy silence settles atop the layer of background noise coming from the film playing on the screen as Liza's moment of 'Here goes nothing!' turns into a minute of 'Here goes... nothing.' She eventually stops waiting to be kissed and opens her eyes, her lips nearly touching his head as he lowers it to turn the impending collision of their mouths into a near-miss.
"Wh-what? What do you mean? I'm giving you permission! It's okay!"
She shrinks back just a little, trying to find his eyes with hers.
"Are you saying you're planning to be a priest, or something?" she asks, trying to make sense of the situation. "Or did you make some kind of deal where you got superpowers but you're not allowed to kiss anybody?"
Somehow, these are the most plausible scenarios that she can think of.
"Or is it your new boss who said you're not allowed to kiss girls?"
That one seems especially cruel, but at least it would be one she could deal with.
"Look, if this is about hot dog breath, you can just say so. It won't hurt my feelings."
It would, a little, actually, but she'd understand.
"No, no, it's not--"
Daisuke's lips purse in a frown, while he's trying to figure out how to properly explain... well, literally *anything* at this point in a way that makes sense to LIza.
"It's not... any of those things," he manages to let out quickly in protest at first, at least, His fingers scratch nervously at the back of his head, and a frustrated sound rumbles through his throat.
"Look, it's... I don't think you will be happy doing that with me. Or, you know... being with me." It's part of the truth, but he's dancing around the root of the issue. His own twisted sense of self.
"...You deserve to have your first kiss with someone better, you know?" His voice has gone quieter now, and he leans back a bit more, his head turning to the side while his russet brows burrow together sadly.
"And I don't deserve you."
Liza looks dumbfounded for a long moment as she stares at Daisuke, absentmindedly ruffling her own hair, her eyes meeting his. The realisation of how inadequately she might have thought this through causes her to cringe a little on the inside, and not just in the usual way that happens to all teenagers on a regular basis. Like many of her plans, it didn't really take into account what would come next. Like when she'd intercepted the throwing star intended for Rafferty. She'd done it because it would have meant preventing him from suffering, out of reflex, but she hadn't had a plan for what to do after. Maybe...
"...Maybe it would be a bad idea," Liza admits quietly. "I didn't really think about what it might mean other than showing that I would. And I'm not desperate or anything."
She might have looked it a little bit on the instant replay, lunging across the car at him, but that was more decisiveness than desperation.
"But I don't think you should ever think you deserve or don't deserve somebody. What matters is whether they accept you and you accept them. And for what it's worth, I'm glad my first kiss was with you and not Rafferty. Even if he probably deserved what happened to you more."
Liza offers an apologetic smile in an attempt to lighten the mood.
"And to be fair, it was probably a dangerous idea anyway. I don't think emergency services has a very good response time out here."
All this ends up leaving Daisuke silent for a good while. He doesn't try saying anything to interrupt Liza, but his gaze does slowly drift elsewhere. He almost looks ashamed-- the reasonings from her don't really seem to be doing much to improve his mood.
"Y-yeah," he does eventually let out, though, even while he's keeping his gaze down on the dashboard of the car. "You're probably right..." He's not clarifying which exact part he's agreeing with, though. Somehow that look on his features doesn't really make it seem like he's particularly feeling any less deserving, though, but he's not making any vocal argument against it. "Besides, I mean... It'd probably ruin your reputation back at school anyway, right? Aheh..."
And still reasoning that things would be bad for *her*.
His gaze does lift then, to meet Liza's at least momentarily. A small, kind of sad smile tugs at his lips, and he reaches one hand over -- it almost looks like it might be aiming for the side of her face at first, but then it diverts down to her shoulder instead, squeezing lightly there.
"...I should... probably go," he murmurs akwardly when he draws his hand away again. The movie's not quite over yet, but he's still turning to reach for the handle on the passenger side door. "I'll text you when I'm in Metro. To let you know I'm okay."
Liza frowns at Daisuke's expression, her fingers moving up to brush at her bangs as she finds herself increasingly lost for ideas. Somehow, she suspects that she hasn't picked the right options in this dialogue tree to max out her relationship meter with her red-haired classmate, and unfortunately, real life works by Ironman rules - otherwise, she'd be reloading an earlier save.
The truth is, this is just not the kind of challenge that Raiza has ever been confronted with. She's never had family members or friend who've behaved this way. As prepared as her ninja toolkit would make her in the event of sudden attack from a rival clan or sneaking into heavily guarded Lucky Chloe concert, nothing in it can help Liza save someone from their own feelings.
And Hiroko-sensei's lessons have never touched on this.
Liza looks a little dazed at the suggestion. "But, obviously I don't care about my reputation! I hang out with you, don't I?!"
It takes a couple of seconds after she's spoken the words for Liza's brain to realise that that came out disastrously wrong under these circumstances.
And then, she's suddenly pleading, tripping over her own words as he's turning to the passenger door. "I'm sorry, Daisuke-kun - wait - I didn't mean it that way --"
Most people would probably consider hearing a line like that as an outright insult. But to Daisuke, with such a messed up perspective on things, it just sounds like confirmation for his own thoughts. That being around him is harmful to Liza.
But at the same time, it leaves him confused, since it sounds like she wants him to stay in spite of that.
The redhead does halt with that. His fingers linger on the door handle. There is a part of him that is debating just running away, so he wouldn't have to think about this any more than that. But hearing her pleading for him to wait now makes it difficult.
"... I don't understand," he actually mutters after a few seconds of lingering there in silence like that. His hand is still on the door, but he doesn't seem to be in a hurry anymore to open it. Though he's not turning back to facing Liza either, leaving her listening to his back.
"Raiza, I don't... I'm not worth it."
With the ache in her tummy reaching a fever pitch, Liza leans her side against the seat, pulling her knees up against her stomach and wrapping her arms around them to try and suppress the sensation. "What I meant was that I would rather hang out with you than anyone who doesn't think you're cool, 'cause you are cool. And you're not a bad person. You stand up for people. Like a real superhero. And you agreed to help me, even though it put you in way more danger than I thought it would. You've never done anything wrong to me, but I could have got you hurt. I owe you a lot. And I wanna watch the rest of the movie with you."
She rests her chin against her knees.
"We could stay for the second feature, anyway, since I think you missed most of this one. They're playing Exiting the Dragon of Death after this. But if you wanna go, I can at least drive you."
Silence, at first. Daisuke's fingers twitch lightly against the door handle, while some awful, empty part of him tries to tug him into pulling it.
"You don't owe me anything," he says quietly after a short moment. His fingers curl further around the handle, but he doesn't pull on it still. Some internal fight takes place, one that leaves him silent for what might seem like an eternity.
A silence that is broken by a soft sigh when his hand slowly slides away. "...Would that make you happy?" He asks then, and only after that, does he turn to settle himself properly on the seat again. He does try to look at his friend, too, though he only manages to bring himself turned enough where he's peeking at her from just the corner of one eye. "I just... don't want to hurt you."
Liza offers Daisuke a small, but sincere smile as he appears to opt to stay with her. She reaches for her drink as her expression becomes warmer, and she appears to relax a little.
"As long as it's something you're happy to do, then, of course. There's no pressure."
She tries to take a slurp of her Dr Pepper, but pulls a face as it turns out to be mostly ice left - which has started to melt.
"Tell you what, I'll get us some refills if you're ready for one too. I'll probably need to make a pit stop as well."
She reaches out to take Daisuke's cup too - if he's happy for her to do so - before popping the door, ready to go and freshen their sodas. "See you when I get back though, yeah?"
Daisuke, too, makes at least a token effort at relaxing. But between the few little internal realizations and the still-lingering thought of *what could have been*, he's still a little on the tense and nervous side.
But he nods to her suggestion, while he leans himself back against the seat in an effort to appear as casual as possible (which probably ends up having the exact opposite effect due to how deliberate it is). "Yeah, okay..."
He watches after her, and he offers a small smile to her for her words of temporary parting, murmuring back, "Yeah, I'll... be here."
Once she's out, though... well. Some part of him might still be tempting him to just run, but... he did also just say he doesn't want to hurt her. Perhaps he figures leaving now would do exactly that.
But even still..."
The redhead slams his fist against the passenger door once he's sure his friend is far enough to not hear or see his sudden brooding fit, hissing "I'm the worst..." past his teeth while something tries to well it's way up his throat and eyes both. He's not entirely sure, either, if he's more upset at himself over potentially upsetting Liza like that, or... actually *wanting* to go through with the kiss. For wanting to be happy, for just a moment.
The hole inside him feels larger than it ever has before.
Log created on 13:00:53 09/14/2023 by Raiza, and last modified on 19:51:29 09/20/2023.