This morning, I wind up waking up to a wet puppy nose tickling my feet. I squirm around quite a bit to humor him before finally getting him and giving him a pat on the head. "Hey you. You hungry, fella?" I ask sleepily. He just looks at me adorably and follows me out of my room.
I also find Brian on my computer, watching Endless Waltz. I go to kiss his cheek, watching one of my favorite parts of the beginning of the movie. "You didn't sleep?" I ask him, heading to the kitchen to tend to Gus' food bowl. "Woke up about half an hour ago. Other than that, I slept like a rock." he says. Food in hand, Gus eats quite messily. I head back to the living room and move the coffee table aside.
"Care to join me for my exercises?" I ask him, stretching a little. He gets up and shoves the computer chair aside. "If you can ease me into it, sure." he responds, standing next to me. We start with basic calisthenics, twenty minutes worth. He gets into the routine with minimal difficulty. Followed by upper and lower body stretches for another ten minutes, then finally a half hour of various kata's and light punching/kicking drills. I enjoyed doing that with him especially, he's so attentive and enthusiastic about the martial arts stuff.
It's evident that he's not used to this sort of thing, he's out of breath. I give him a hug, still proud of him for his effort. "You sit tight, I'll get some breakfast going." I tell him, heading back to the kitchen to do so. He calls out to me not long after. "What's this master plan of yours for today?" he asks, letting out a barely audible yawn. I smile at the inquiry.
"After we eat, we'll get ready to head for the draft tourney. From there, we've got plenty of time to hit a theater near Metrotown for The Hobbit. Then finally, Metrotown itself." I look around what stuff I have in the kitchen to ensure I have everything I need for making dinner tonight. I'm pleased that I do. "When we get back, I'm gonna cook lasagna."
I can tell he's excited by all this. After a few minutes, I return with scrambled eggs mixed with sweet sausage. And hot coffee. We snuggle each other as we eat, watching the epic duel between Heero and Wufei as the movie goes on. "I'd have to look it up again." he says absently, chewing on a piece of sausage. "But I remember hearing a small chapter occurring after this movie." I raise an eyebrow to this. "Really? With the Gundams destroyed and all?" He nods. "I don't recall details, but more Gundams are made and there's some uprising from a fallen colony. I believe one or two of these Gundams have something like the Zero System, too." he says with a little uncertainty. Now I see why he hates relying on his own memory of things.
Rather than sit out the rest of the movie, we go to shower almost immediately after eating. As we're drying off and getting dressed, we get our itinerary in order. "Tourney time?" he asks. "Eleven to one, we've got enough time to get there." I say, picking out two skirts and trying to come to a decision. "Which one, darling?" I ask. He looks them over. "That light pink, with the white trim. And what time is the movie?" "Starts at two, probably ends close to five." I look over three tops, and grab a plum colored one. "What'cha think of this pair?" I ask, glancing at him. He smiles and nods his approval. "I likes. I figure I should probably bring my decks, but what about Deathscythe?"
I contemplate the notion. "There isn't Wifi at the shop, I don't think. Definitely the mall, though. Bring it along if you'd like. Pass me the jewelry box." He does so. I put on a matching set of turquoise earrings and a necklace. "My decks are under the TV cabinet, you got space in your bag for them?" I ask. He heads in the living room for them, double checking. "Yeah, just barely. Your decks will be in the front pouch." he says.
Just a touch of make up and a pair of heels, and I'm ready. Brian is looking quite handsome, his hair carefully gelled and formed into a faux Phoenix Wright style. I toss a pair of sneakers in a plastic bag before grabbing my purse. "Just one more thing to do, and we're outie." I tell him. I grab Gus' leash and call him to me, locking the door behind all three of us.
We head to one of the apartments on the floor above us. I ring the bell, and within a few minutes steps out a young fellow. "Morning, Karli. I guess I'm watching this big guy today, huh?" he says, bending down to pet Gus. I nod. "Yup, sorry for the short notice. I'll pay you a little extra for the trouble." He shakes his head. "Nah, usual fee still stands." He blinks a few times before giving me a once-over. "You're looking more radiant than usual. Who's your friend there?" he asks, motioning towards Brian.
I step aside, they go to shake hands. "Brian. Old friend of hers." Brian says with a tone of respect. "James. So, you're the one I keep hearing about." James says with a grin. "You've unintentionally made my cost of living and overall life easier to bear." Brian smirks, patting James on the shoulder. "Anything to help a Canadian, I like you bunch quite a bit." James gives a good natured laugh, beckoning Gus to go inside his place. "Perhaps we can have a beer or two later. You guys take off, I'll catch you later. Have fun." We say our good byes and head for the car. Dumping all our stuff in the back seat.
We make it to the shop in time for registration, and with time to kill once again. Within the next half hour, I introduce Brian to a handful of other friends. With everyone talking shop and whatnot, we hit the binders once again. As luck would have it, we would find a few more cards needed for a... strange deck Brian's been steadily working on for months on end.
The tournament starting, we all find our seats. Packs are distributed and we begin with our picks. Terrible packs this time around, I was not pleased with my overall picks. I glance around at the various reactions, Brian's face was unreadable. Minutes later, the land box is passed around and we all begin throwing our decks together. Some more haphazardly than others.
Match one pairings are made, I'm against Jeff. My blue/white against his strange handling of mono green devotion/aggro. I get thoroughly stomped, Brian wins his first match. We compare notes during a quick intermission between rounds.
Match two pairings, I'm up against Brian. Figures. He runs an interesting black/red, roughly similar in design to what I'm running. Due to the seriousness of the match, we both tread lightly against each other. He takes the first round with some difficulty. Round two, luck was not on his side. The final round started slow, with a five turn stalemate midway. He eventually breaks the monotony and finds a way to overpower me. I'm essentially at his mercy, until he randomly gets up out of his chair and declares that he concedes.
I blink a few times in surprise, inquiring about this move. "What's the reason for this?" I ask him, thoroughly confused. "To help keep you in the rotation. There's a 36% chance we might face each other again, if we keep doing our best. Think of this as act one, the real fun hasn't started." he says with some smugness. I shake my head at this, he's never such a show off. Or displayed such arrogance.
The next three rounds come and go at a steady pace. We're both two and three in terms of our record. Great competition overall. The top four are paired, Jeff and one other fellow that recently became a regular. And myself against Brian, just as predicted.
I give him a serious look as we're shuffling. "No tricks like before, dear. We take this to the end." I tell him. He nods, extending his hand out. I shake it. "Best of luck, doll face." He did his best, and lost both rounds in the end. If there's one thing I respect about him, it's that he takes his losses well. With a quick kiss to my cheek, he steps out for a cigarette.
Jeff just barely wins his semi-final round. I walk up to him after his game. "No holding back, eh?" I tell him. He nods, patting my back. "Same to you, lady." We start our game just as Brian returns. The end result was unheard of, for both Jeff and myself. One win, one loss and one draw. The overall record keeping would technically mark him as the superior player.
We shake hands, and prizes are awarded. Jeff and I win three packs a piece. Ken and another, two. And Brian wins one. Sadly, none of us opened any worthwhile rares.
Brian and I stick around just a little longer to talk and sell our spoils. Not long after, we say our good byes and take our leave. Our next stop, a movie date I can barely contain my excitement over. We get to the theater a little late, due to the issue of finding parking. Though missing trailers is hardly a huge concern.
Like he wanted to, Brian bought our tickets. I handled the refreshments. We manage to get the absolute perfect seats way in the back. I expected some liberties to be taken with the movie, but that didn't cheapen things any. Aside from a very abrupt and rushed ending, we were quite pleased.
We head back to the car momentarily, so I can replace my high heels with the sneakers I bought with me. Brian having a cigarette all the while. From there, we walk over to Metrotown mall. Hand in hand, I snuggle him during the quick trek. "How does it feel, seeing this again after so many years?" I ask Brian, him taking in all the sights. "It feels like... nostalgia. I wish I got to see more of the place last time." he says, a small smile on his face.
We head inside, dodging the crowds of weekend shoppers quite easily. We check out a few places that catches his attention, admiring the various wares of the jewelry shops in particular. He also buys me a nice amethyst pendant.
We head down to the food court and grab some pizza. I see Brian take out Deathscythe, and connect to the Wifi with some trouble. "Something up?" I ask him, stealing a pepperoni off his pizza. "Just wanted to check up on things. Facebook and all that." he says, stealing a piece of sausage off my pizza in retaliation. I couldn't help but smile at that, as he closes Deathscythe's lid almost as quickly as he got it out. We finish our food in a relatively fast fashion.
I grab his hand as we take an escalator to the second floor. "Remember when I said I'd give you a hair cut? I think its time." I say ecstatically. I bring him by my workplace, and introduce him to my coworkers. The girl I've been training, Jamie, seemed especially taken by him.
I find a chair to get Brian situated in. Kelly, one of the usual weekend girls, looks us over. "You working today?" she asks, confused. I shake my head. "Nah, I've long promised to give this dork a hair cut." I say as a lay a smock over Brian. He takes his glasses off and rests them in my work area.
It takes me about forty five minutes to work my magic. Sad as I am to have to trim that thick head of hair, he looks pretty spiffy with shorter hair. And significantly younger too. When all is said and done, he goes for his wallet. I poke his cheek. "Your money's no good here, babe. This is on the house." I tell him. He still slips me a $20. "Drop this in the tip jar for me, will ya?" he asks. All of my coworkers, myself include, are taken aback by this sign of generosity. He takes all the praise and thanks with a sort of quiet dignity. And I find myself loving and respecting him more and more.
After taking our leave, we make a bee line straight for the arcade. I look around for familiar faces, to no avail. Brian passes through the crowd slowly, glancing at the various games surrounding him. Sizing up his competition, if I didn't know any better. I manage to catch up with him with some difficulty. "What's up?" I ask him, taking in the excited energy around me. "These guys... they're good. The Street Fighter players. The Tekken players especially. I won't waste my effort trying to take them on."
He nods towards a beat up Neo Geo machine. "That girl over there, playing '02. She impresses me." I take a look in that direction. A cute Asian girl, couldn't be any older than twenty, was owning her opponent pretty well. I go to change a fair amount of my paper money to tokens, and walk towards where she is. Taking in a closer observation, Brian standing behind me.
Her opponent stepping away from the machine, I insert my token and hit the start button. I can feel her eyes on me as I select my characters. I look back at her. "Yes?" I ask in a casual tone. "You're certainly... eye catching, coming here dressed like that. No offense, of course." she says with some sense of civility. I keep my focus on the pre-fight, hoping I'm making good use of the character roster. "Don't take me lightly based on my appearance. I'm no scrub." I tell her flatly. Brian observes his exchange tensely.
We went the full five rounds that can come with a King of Fighters game. There was some back-and-forth/cat and mouse tactics from both of us. As Brian stated, she's good. I fought my best, with no regrets. Ultimately, she won. I turn to her, her demeanor a little less rough. "Have I earned your respect now, miss?" I ask her. She gives a small smile and a slight bow. "My apologies. Yes, you have. Gaming is such a boy's club activity, I'm sure you understand the pressure us girls get from his crowd." I say nothing in response, shaking her hand. Brian and I creep over to the DDR machines, observing others playing.
As a pair leave the Max2 machine, Brian and I step up to the machine. He stops me. "Sorry. But I do my warm up routine alone." he says. I back up, with an understanding nod. All the serious DDR players have their rituals and quirks. More importantly, I finally get to see his skill for myself finally.
I can say without bias, he's pretty good. Granted he showed me the majority of his A-game right then and there, I was quite impressed. As were the bystanders. As he gets off the machine, I get on with some other guy. A bit of a rookie, but he kept up pretty well. The rotation of players keeps up for two hours, Brian and I playing together plenty of times.
One moment of game play, and our final game/song of the night, was quite memorable, a suitable show of impromptu show off-esque display. Burning Heat on Standard mode, it has a few breaks to it as the song goes. The first possible break, he grabs my hand without warning. We both spin and switch places on the pads, never missing a beat. Seconds before the song transitions into 8-bit sounds, I go into a ducking spin and tell him to jump. We time it perfectly, still more or less progressing with the song without serious consequence. Hey, I didn't say this was all perfect.
Barely three seconds before the song ends with two jumps, Brian yells. "Bar hop!" We both grab the rear bars and spin off the machine. More or less well timed, we leap over the bars and hit the appropriate arrows with acceptable timing. Totally out of breath, we lean against each other. A roar of applause and clapping following our random display. It was all just... a thing of beauty. One of those "had to be there" moments in life.
Not wanting to spend more than we already did, we both take our leave after that game. Many people complimenting us, even that KoF girl being one of them. His arm around my waist, Brian and I tiredly exit the arcade. We stop by a food cart on our way to the car, grabbing four bottles of water.
I could still scarcely believe what just happened, thinking to myself and guzzling down one bottle in barely a minute. "How... How did we...?" I try asking, still a little out of breath. Breathing heavily himself, and still lighting a cigarette, he can only shrug. "We're just that... damn good, I guess. Mike... has been my best partner for years, and we're not even that... in sync with each other for such things." he says, catching his breath.
Standing by the car to recover, and Brian on his second cigarette, I snuggle against him. "I haven't had this much fun in years." I tell him, smiling. He strokes my hair, being mindful over the proximity of his cigarette to my hair. "You remember once when I said I always wanted that one great date with a girl? That one magical night were everything falls in place perfectly?" he asks. I nod, a conversation I could never forget. "I'd say this was it. Truly, one of the best night's of my life." he says contently.
We begin the trip home, stopping for gas and cigarettes on the way. Brian goes to fetch Gus as I head to the apartment. Now for the best part, a home cooked meal and a movie. Brian comes in within a few minutes, the pup in tow. He drops our stuff in my room, coming out with Deathscythe and on the couch.
"Hey, I'm gonna get started on the food. Load us up a movie?" I call out, gathering all the needed items. I guess I should have expected this, but he loads up Fellowship of the Ring. I chuckle at this, preparing everything.
After the pan of raw lasagna is stuck in the over, I head to my room to change. I reach into his bag for the cards gained from the draft. Taking a seat next to him, I sort through the cards. Paying only some attention to the movie, while he does his usual thing. We have some idle talk about how to go about building a deck over all this.
About an hour later, the food is done. He smiles at me as I bring him a big helping and a mug of diet soda. If nothing else, I love the way he smiles. His appreciation is silent but evident. I continue going through cards as I eat, and truthfully hitting road blocks.
I shake my head at this. "This specific card pool is just too... random. Too erratic." I say, conceding defeat to my usual sort of challenge. He looks the piles over and grunts in agreement. "You wanna keep my cards? I see nothing here I'd wanna keep." he says, working on his second helping of lasagna. "Yeah, sure. Remind me to toss them in storage later." I say, sipping on water and glancing at the scene of Gandalf's fall with the Balrog.
I sit next to him, snuggling him as the movie goes on. He set's Deathscythe aside. "You're free to use it now, if you want." He tells me. I grab it, and, guess what? I start writing this entry.
With the end of Fellowship, and Brian out for a smoke, I start up The Two Towers. At least, until we fall asleep. I replay the events of the day in my head, until he comes back. And I would have to agree with him, tonight could only be summed up in one word: magical.
Manage Your Items