Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Getting the Girl

So, here we have another superhero story, though the fact that it's happening in a superhero team only matters at the extreme margins.

What happened is that I read a story and thought it could have had a better ending.  I didn't see much point in writing one for that story, so I made up some original characters and gave them a story that was like the better ending I thought the story I read could have had.

While this is analogous to the end of the story I wrote, I hope that this stands as a full story in its own right.

* * *

"So, who wins?"

She'd known it was coming, and still she couldn't believe it.  First she had to endure their attempts, and now she had to reward them by judging the bizarre and infuriating contest?

And how was she supposed to do that?  The best thing by far wasn't even an "entry" into the contest, it was Andrew's disclaimer, "I apologize in advance for doing this."

The "entries" were all crude, self-indulgent, and made her weep for anyone her coworkers actually had an interest in.

And her colleagues were all waiting for her to pronounce one the "best".

She briefly considered reaching out to the electrical system, cutting power to the lights, and then escaping in the darkness.

Of course everyone was used to chasing people in the dark, and four of them had inhumanly excellent night vision.  That didn't even count the one who didn't need light and never made use of it.

She sighed.  "They were all horrible," she said.  "Every one of them was equally--"

She heard Rose say, "Um . . ."

She waited, Rose was always nervous and if she tried to rush the girl . . . well there was no surer way to cause her to freeze up and never say her piece.

Also, Rose had been the one who'd insisted they let her know what was going on --the others intending to keep her in the dark to avoid "ruining" the contest-- and Rose had been the one who encouraged them to stop and then, when that had failed, to just get it over with.

She felt like she owed Rose.

Rose finally said, "I haven't gone yet."

And that was the first thing that shocked her since she was told about the whole wretched contest.  Why would Rose want to try?  Rose had been the only one that seemed to really care about how this had been effecting Melissa.

"Impress us with your pick-up line ability, do" Jackson said to Rose.

Rose was at the back of the crowd, where she always seemed to end up, so first she had to make her way forward.  A combination of awkward shuffling, bursts of hyper-speed, and apologies for bumping people brought her to the front.

"So, um, Melissa," Rose said to her.  Then she blushed and turned away.  That brought a mix of sounds from the others, mostly strung out vowels ending with aspiration.  She wasn't sure if they were making fun of Rose's shyness, or assuming that that Rose had a particularly potent line.

Rose didn't meet Melissa's eyes for a few moments, instead walking to another point on the wall Melissa had backed up against.  Rose leaned on the wall, closed her eyes, and said, "I can do this," to herself.  More noise from the others.

Rose made eye contact, which was rare enough for Rose, and her eyes had an intensity that Melissa had seldom seen from the girl.

Rose took a deep breath, then said, "What do you say we get away from these jerks and their stupid contest and go on an actual fucking date?"

Rose continued to hold eye contact.  This might be the longest Rose had ever maintained eye contact with Melissa.

"Uh," Melissa said.  The lights flickered.  "Are you serious?"

"Yeah, and, since I just got the biggest reaction by far," Rose said, "I actually have money I can spend on a date."

"Oh, come on," "That's cheating!" "No fair," and several groans.  Melissa didn't even bother trying to assign the reactions of the others to their owners.

Rose still held her gaze.

"Well?" Rose asked.

"Everybody pay up," Melissa said.  "I want to go on my date now."

Rose smiled, closed her eyes, and gave a soft celebratory, "Yes," as she fist pumped.

The other ten members of the team walked to Rose and, one at a time, handed Rose five dollars each.

"That wasn't even a pick-up line," Jackson complained as he handed Rose his five.

"Which of us got the girl?" Rose asked.

"She's got you there," Anthony said.

When Natasha and Barry handed over their money, Barry said:

"We're happy for both of you,"

while Natasha said:

"Have fun."

After Rose got the last five she said, "What do you want to do? I'm rich."

"You've got fifty dollars--"

"Fifty five," Rose said.  "I had to have five of my own in case I lost."

"Even so," Melissa said, "I'll bet you got more from a single wallet one out of six times when you were a pickpocket."

"But I didn't have anyone to spend it on," Rose said.

Melissa had nothing to say to that.  She looked around, saw that the others had cleared out, and gestured for Rose to walk with her to the elevator.

After pressing the button, Melissa asked, "How long have you . . . uh . . . liked me?"

When Rose blushed Melissa laughed.  She wasn't even sure why.  There wasn't anything funny.  Everything seemed good at the moment and, for some reason, she'd just laughed.

In response to Rose's questioning look, Melissa said, "I'm enjoying our date already."

Rose smiled, and Melissa had a very good feeling about this.


[Original Work Index]

When I first posted this I totally forgot to come back to how this differed from the story that I read.

The story that I read began with the first pick-up line coming out of nowhere, followed through a while of "what the fuck is going on?" had the truth come out, and that's about where mine starts to diverge.

The story that I read had the Melissa-equivalent flustered by the intensity with which the Rose-equivalent . . . said a cheesy line just like the ones the Melissa equivalent had suffered through the whole story listening to.  Not as degrading as some, but still fundamentally the same thing.  Then the Rose-equivalent had to go from there to explaining that, no, she really did want to go on a date with the Melissa-equivalent.

I thought that it would have worked a lot better if the Rose-equivalent had used the structure of the contest as a way of helping her get the courage to actually ask the other girl out but done something fundamentally different than hit the Melissa-equivalent with another line that was just like the ones she'd been bombarded with by the others.

And so I wrote that.  I also thought, and you can tell me if you think this is true, that I didn't actually have to show "having ten people come at you with pick-up lines really sucks" since that's a pretty easy conclusion to reach sight unseen.

In fact, I tried to make it so you got a sense of how much it sucked well before you learned that it was about pick-up lines, which I didn't actually mention until around halfway through the story.


  1. This starts at the exact right point. And ends at the right point too. (And I say this as a crusty old firedrake who likes stories with beginnings, middles and ends, preferably in that order.)

    I would say "more of this", but that's not the right response. More like this, because this is right in itself and we don't need more about these specific people.

  2. It's true. As well, I commend Melissa's self-control. I'd have blown up before the 5th line, I suspect.