Face To Face

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Face To Face

Postby NeoVid » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:10 am

Long ago, Arbon handed me an idea about how one of the common macro tropes/cliches could go in my setting. Like most of Arbon's ideas, it was really good, and like most ideas I get, it collected dust for years. But at long last, I've done something productive! Here's what Arbon's story seed resulted in:

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FACE TO FACE



Isaac Tennant was having one of his usual Friday nights: Sitting in front of a screen in his studio, switching between homework and MMO time. In fact, it also looked a lot like his usual Saturday and Sunday nights. This one turned out slightly more eventful than most, as the notification of a message from his tragically short list of friends popped up in the corner of the screen. Isaac quickly moved his character (Lou Tennant, har har) to a safe spot to tab out of game.

The unexpected ping was followed by the cheerful voice of his sometimes friend, Richie Roe. “Hey man. Since you took my call, I’m guessing you’re there?” Isaac pulled up a window showing the feed from Richie’s cheap excuse for a smartphone. Richie looked to be his usual unkempt self, despite calling from work. “Work” was relative, since Richie’s current gig was musician for a nightclub. A dirty blond with emphasis on ‘dirty,’ looking like he had forgotten to shave for a week... Honestly, if there was a dictionary illustration for ‘drummer,’ Richie would fit. “Remember how you’re always complaining about how you’ve been dateless for months?”

*No, that goes through my mind less than once a minute if I really work to distract myself,* was the first answer to come to mind. Fortunately for what there was of his social life, Isaac had long ago learned to never say or do what came naturally. “...Yes. Thank you for the reminder.”

“Well, I can help out! There’s someone I know from work who you’ve got a chance with. This is her.” After a moment fighting his balky phone, a photo of a brown mouse girl popped up on screen, the picture having caught her in the middle of cleaning a pair of glasses, while raising an eyebrow at the camera. The image was captioned ‘Val.’ “She’s a regular where I work, and she made the mistake of telling me she’s got no classes this week, so all her time is free. All you havta do is go by O’Bannion’s this weekend, and give her a call to let her know you’re there. I’ll tell her to expect you!”

Isaac, as usual, embarrassed himself with his reaction. “I, uh, er…”

The photo of the cute mouse flicked out, tragically replaced by Richie. “Great, huh? I haven’t even left you any excuses you can use to back out, since the work’s already been done!”

“I… Appreciate it?” Isaac squeaked.

Richie smirked again. “I know talking to girls is likely to give you heart trouble, so I also made sure she’s got common interests.” That was followed by a quick roll of the eyes. “Trust me, she’s as much of a geek as you are. Maybe even a bigger one…” Now Richie was obviously trying not to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Isaac asked, even as his traitor of a brain filled in *The idea of you going out with someone, duh.*

“Uh, nothing. I know about your thing for rodents, so try not to creep her out too fast! Just… be sure to tell me how it went, afterward, huh?” Richie grinned one last time before hanging up.

Isaac sat there, stunned at the thought *date.* He realized that he was staring at his own reflection on the screen, and took stock of what he saw. Despite everything, it was still him: A slim, pale 20-something human, with wire-rim glasses, a crew cut, and a wardrobe that charitable people would call “vintage” and he would call “like something from a rerun.” Living alone in a shoebox-sized apartment… *Which I AM paying for entirely on my own, and haven’t turned into a toxic dump inhabited by an out of shape blob. I’m not as pathetic as I look… That would be impossible.*

Thinking like that wasn’t going to do him a damn bit of good. *In fact, the less thinking I do between now and the blind date, the less nervous I’m gonna be. I should just start getting ready, and stop worrying. Yeah, I can stop worrying whenever I want…* Isaac started to wish he’d screenshotted that pic of Val. Richie was annoyingly insightful sometimes, he’d been completely right about geeky rodents being Isaac’s Type, and… he’d better cut that off right there, before he thought about the possibilities enough to paralyze himself. Better focus on something like… *What could I do on a date that would make a GOOD impression?* The last time he’d asked his “friends” that question, they’d suggested a personality transplant. This was going to take some thought. *And if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s thinking straight when I’m nervous. Uh, yeahhh…*

<><><><>

“Hey Val-” Seeing the look on her face at being called by a nickname, Richie quickly added, “-eria, uh, remember me talking about my friend Isaac before, and how he’s exactly the same kind of ubernerd as you, right?”

“Yeah,” she replied, already suspicious.

“And you said he sounded like someone you’d have fun with?”

“Yesss….”

“Good news! He’s looking forward to seeing you here on the weekend!” Richie’s smile didn’t even twitch at the glare she gave him in response. “What, is meeting him going to ruin your plans to do nothing in particular that night?”

The mouse rolled her eyes. “Remember what I said I’d do next time you volunteered me for something?”

“Nope!”

After her silent, heavy-lidded gaze bounced off Richie’s immunity to social cues, she sighed theatrically and said, “Fine… If I don’t go along with it, I’ll be crushing the dreams of an innocent person you manipulated. But I’ll also remember this is all your fault.”

“Hey, I’m not doing this for myself,” Richie replied, palm on his chest in a gesture of sincerity. “I sprang this on you out of pure generosity! You think I’m selflessly playing wingman for my own twisted amusement?” That damned grin of his reappeared. “...Also, I really wanna know how it went, afterward!”

<><><><>

Valeria blinked and looked up from her e-reader when her phone buzzed. Zoning out reading when she was supposed to be nervously waiting for a blind date wasn’t what she expected of herself. The number said it was her fellow sucker for the night, Isaac. Answering, she was greeted with, “Hey there, I just got in the door, are you at O’Bannion’s already?”

That was strange. The place had a crowd as usual, but it wasn’t packed enough or dark enough that you could miss someone that easily. “I’ve taken a corner table. I don’t see you… I was kind of distracted, though.”

“Weird, I can see the whole section and didn’t spot you, either. I would- wait, wha-” was followed by the clattering noises of a phone being fumbled and dropped. After a few moments of scuffling sounds, Isaac’s voice came back. “Sorry about that, uh, something just surprised me. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the answer to how we missed each other. Take a look over to your left… see the guy in the red sweater waving at you?”

“Uh… not yet…”

“You’re looking the right way, but look a bit farther. Past the partition. And lower down.” Isaac was rewarded with a second of silence, then the unmistakable sound of a person facepalming while on the phone. “Yeah, that was my reaction… come on over and at least we can talk face-to-face.”

A few tense seconds later, Valeria had taken a seat across from Isaac, which also happened to be on the opposite side of the partition that kept the giants out of the part of O’Bannion’s reserved for ordinary-sized people. The five-foot mouse and five-inch human stared at each other in mutual disbelief. The uncomfortable silence was broken by the obvious answer to how this had happened…

“Richie.”

<><><><>

Not long after, the two of them were talking over snacks like old friends with compatible nerdity. They really had turned out to have a lot in common. Aside from, you know, the obvious thing.

“Now I’m not sure if Richie was setting us up or… um… setting us up…” Isaac mused over his portion (okay, over some crumbs) of the pastries Valeria had ordered once they got over their mutual shock and taken a seat. His seat being on top of the table. When they’d been finding their place to talk, Isaac got an image of how ridiculous it would be for him to take the giant-scale seat across from her. That had quickly led to an image of getting sat on, followed by wondering if the curvy mouse’s rump was as soft as it looked, followed by his train of thought jumping off the rails and exploding.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Valeria replied with a shrug. “By the way,” she added gently, “My face is up here.”

“Oh sh-” Isaac’s head snapped up so fast that the momentum sent him toppling backward. Having started out sitting on the tabletop, winding up flat on his back didn’t take long, but he was certain the embarrassment would last forever. He considered lying there until the end of the world or until his face was less red, whichever came first, but before he could die of embarrassment, a pair of enormous fingers pinched the front of his sweater and pulled him back up.

“I wasn’t really serious, you know.”

“Oh. Good. Cause, well, my face is down here, and I was straining my neck to keep looking you in the eyes instead of the…” Noticing his own words in time to cut them off, he added, “I keep saying things like that without realizing it until it’s too late. Luckily, I’m used to getting slapped by now,” he rambled, “But only by women my own size, I’ve never thought about asking out a giantess… well, everyone *thinks* about it, but I’d have a heart attack if I tried that. Well, OK, I’d have heart trouble if I asked out any-”

Valeria just smiled and cut him off before he could spend the rest of the night reminding himself he was a loser. “You don’t need to worry so much. To quote one of my role models, ‘Don’t torture yourself, that’s my job.’”

“You have Morticia as a role model? That’s…” *Kinda hot,* he didn’t say. “Man. When I was a kid, I was so jealous of the Addams family. All of them knew just how weird they were and loved it.”

“Well, you had me completely fooled into thinking you were a normal person.”

Isaac almost replied, stopped, then said, “No one’s ever called me normal before. I like it, but it’s not what I’m used to.”

Valeria smirked at the little guy. “I’m guessing nothing about this night is what you’re used to.”

“Seriously. I mean, I went outside, I’m talking to a girl, and I haven’t had a panic attack yet. I wouldn’t have expected that in a million years…” He trailed off as she started to laugh. *Ohhh, she thinks that wasn’t serious. Good.*

“You’re handling this better than most people would. I think that after getting set up on a blind date with someone two hundred times their mass, most people wouldn’t be calmly sitting around talking about games and the Addamses.” She smiled soothingly, to hide the last thought that had jumped into her head. *And if I wanted him to have a panic attack, it wouldn’t be hard. He’d probably hyperventilate from holding hands.* “Now, we should go see that play you promised me. Any later and we’ll miss the opening act.”

The little guy looked shocked. “Wait, you still want to see that… with me?” His voice started to break on the last two words.

“Of course I do. You don’t deserve to be left in the cold because Richie enjoys making his friends hate him,” Valeria replied with certainty. The certainty faded away with her next words. “So. How should we do this? I’ve always been told that carrying a tiny- I mean, *ordinary* person is kind of demeaning…”

“Being seen in public with you would be a lot less demeaning than most of my life so far…” *Damn. That was one of those things I shouldn’t have said out loud, wasn’t it?*

“Aww.” The mouse cupped her hands around the little guy and carefully scooped him up. Valeria was amazed at how light his gawky body felt. An ordinary mouse would have been bulkier. And certainly could have taken him in a fight… She managed not to laugh at the thought, Isaac’s confidence was obviously fragile enough already. “And now, um. I can’t just keep you like this. Where should I carry you on the way there?” There was a moment of silence as she noted where Isaac’s eyes had gone the instant she said that. “Interesting shade of red you’re turning,” Val said with a smirk. “Sorry, you’re not climbing in there on the first date. Here.” She lifted him up to neck height, then pressed him close to the collar of her shirt. “Think you’d be safe holding on there?”

“Think so…”

“And you won’t ‘accidentally’ lose your grip and fall down the front of my shirt?”

Isaac went petrified. “...Eek.”

“You squeak? Awww…” That might have been the cutest thing she’d ever heard. Val hugged the little geek before she could help herself.

*“Eek!*”

<><><><>

“What did you think of the show?”

“I had a lovely evening.” Valeria grinned, though he couldn’t see it from his spot on her shoulder. “Only partly thanks to the play.”

“Really? What else did… Ohhh…” Isaac added weakly as he realized it was a compliment. “Well, I did too! I was lucky to get this chance to see you tonight!” Amazingly, he didn’t stammer or hyperventilate when he said that.

Valeria tipped her head to cuddle the little guy against her neck. “Why, thank you. And you realize tonight doesn’t have to be your only chance.”

“Huh?” Isaac couldn’t actually see Val rolling her eyes from his angle, but the idea she was hinting at eventually percolated through his brain. “Wait, you want… uh…” He stopped himself there, took several deep breaths, and faintly continued, “Would you like to do this again sometime?”

“Finally,” Val whispered, despite his being able to hear it clearly. “And yes, gladly. You’re better company than most people from my school, for one thing.”

“I’m good company? How’d that happen?” Isaac asked before his brain could override his mouth.

“You can keep up with me in a conversation, you’re the same type of geek I am, and you can keep your hands off me.” Her tone turned sarcastic. “So you’ve already got most of the guys I know beaten on three points.”

“Well, actually, I’ve had my whole body on you ever since…” Trailing off, Isaac slowly put his face in his hands. “I think I can hear myself blushing. Is my face actually glowing this time?”

She couldn’t keep herself from laughing. “Oh, don’t worry, it’s one of your charms. Besides, if I wanted to make you blush so hard we could hear it, I’d ask you if you wanted to comb back to my place tonight.” She grinned. “By the way, want to come back to my place tonight?”

*”Eek!!”*


END



“Oh, Richie?”
“Heyo, Val! How did it go?”
“I had a lovely time, if you must know.”
“Really? Huh. Okay, cool!”
“There’s just one thing. Isaac and I agreed on something when we talked about you.”
“What?” *WHAP!* “Ow! Totally worth it!”
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Re: Face To Face

Postby Narzain » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:04 pm

Very cute story. I like the characters, the situation (doesn't everyone have that one friend they wonder WHY they're still friends?), and the flow. I'd like to see how things progress between those two. Besides, geeky mouse girl for the win.
Sometimes I wrestle with my demons... and sometimes we just snuggle.

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Re: Face To Face

Postby arbon » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:50 pm

Hehehhe. This is adorable and I love it and squeakdammit Richie!

The set-up really does rely on prior world-building from your other stories to give a lot of the context that’s missing from this one. Several things alluded to without being outright stated in a way that could seem confusing up until the reveal, though anyone who can read what website they’re on can take a few guesses as to what’s going to happen.

I sort of wish we’d seen more of the date and their dialogue together seeing as conversation is really your strong suit in all previous stories, and there’s a lot of commentary one could make out of two geeks being geeks at each other. Just throw in a star wars analogy and have then argue over whether the sequels and reboots are faithful to the originals and you’re fairly set, likewise they could start talking about their analysis of the show they watched together.

Notably the mouse didn’t seem anywhere near as socially awkward as the human, leading to a rather imbalanced conversation where he’s making constant mistakes or goofy self depredation, and her personality is relegated to how she tolerates it or tries to prop him back up. With this initial interaction it looks as if she has a confidant personality and likes the attention from someone who’s treating her like she’s the hot girl. Is that how she normally acts, or is it just the fact she’s with a mouse sized person that leads her to feeling like she has more control?

Last note. A 5 foot tall mouse is hilariously massive and I love it.
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