Fourteen Strange Looks
“You told me not to swear in front of people with kids. You didn’t say anything about kissing.”
That’s what Saitou and Sano inspire while grocery shopping.
Fourteen Strange Looks
1. A woman loading groceries into her trunk glanced over at a young man emerging from the car that had just pulled into the space next to hers. “I still don’t get why I have to come with you,” he was complaining.
“You’re the one who said it would be ‘really cool’ if they visited over Spring Break,” the car’s driver replied as he also disembarked, dropping a cigarette and grinding it out with his foot.
“Yeah, but just because I like your kids better than you do,” the first said, “doesn’t mean I should have to come grocery shopping with you!” They were now walking past the woman toward the building, and the younger was eyeing the store warily. “You totally owe me sex for this.”
2. A courtesy clerk collecting carts from the parking lot caught part of the conversation of the customers he’d paused to let past. “I don’t owe you sex just for making you pull a fraction of your own weight,” one was saying. “And I don’t want to make ten trips from the car to the house to get all of it brought inside.”
“Like you need me here for that,” the other was grumbling. “I coulda just helped you when you got home.”
“Somehow I have a hard time believing you’d have been any more eager to abandon your beloved video games in that case either.” The man had stopped to glance at the carts lined up by the employee, and, with a nod to the latter, disengaged the one at the end and propelled it in front of him into the building.
“Hey,” the other was protesting, “you bought me that X-Box.”
“Proof that I do sometimes make mistakes,” the first muttered, almost inaudible to the clerk as he entered the store.
3. A shopper emerging from the checkout lane to the sound of a bagger’s friendly goodbye was nearly run down by another customer bounding over to a display that stood in the middle of the store entry. “Ooh, donuts!” the young man was saying. “I wonder if they have any filled ones.”
“No donuts,” another man, wheeling an empty cart past the first, said flatly. “And try not to kill people.”
“But they’re on sale!” the first pointed out, throwing an apologetic grin at the shopper he’d almost run into and then returning to what was evidently a much more important matter.
“They’re ‘on sale’ every weekend.”
The younger man laughed. “Why am I not surprised you know that?” He threw one last longing glance at the donuts before following his companion.
“Because you’re entirely too credulous?”
“No, because you’re a cop!” Their voices were fading as they walked away.
“Maybe I don’t need your help. Maybe I should just kill you.”
“You said not to kill people!”
4. The florist, thinking she was being addressed, looked up quickly with a professional smile at a young man’s voice saying, “I want some roses.” She found, however, that the young man in question was not talking to her. “How come you never buy me roses?” he was complaining to an older companion.
“First of all, because you’re an idiot,” the latter answered. “Second, because you don’t really want them. Third, because I think giving someone dead plants is stupid.”
“You could get me one of these candy bouquets,” the first suggested. He’d stopped next to a display full of the item in question while the other moved on without even looking. “I could eat that, so I’d definitely want it.”
“But you’d still be an idiot,” the second replied from where he’d already left the floral department and hadn’t slowed.
5. Store security, making the rounds as usual and noticing the overly-casual way the brown-haired teenager in produce seized a plum and started tossing and catching it repeatedly, thought he’d found a vandal or a grazer. However, the man with the cart behind whom the boy was strolling turned suddenly and snatched the fruit from the air, fixing his companion with a rather dangerous-looking expression of irritation. “If you start throwing things, I really will kill you.”
“God, fine,” the boy acceded with an injured, surly air. This didn’t last, however, as when the two continued walking he immediately noticed a display full of cherries and started chuckling. “Hey, hey, Saitou,” he chortled, taking up a bag and bounding back to his companion’s side. “Dyou want my cherry?”
The man elbowed the boy in the arm. “Put those back.”
“How could you say no to that?” the boy demanded in a falsely hurt tone, stepping back and obeying the order.
The man threw a disdainful smirk over his shoulder. “You’re a few years late to be offering, aren’t you?”
6. The pharmacist, in the absence of customers of her own, had been watching an odd pair of shoppers that had spent several minutes arguing over something at the end of produce nearest her counter before moving on. She wondered if the older man was aware of the seemingly random items the younger was continually snagging off shelves and slipping into the cart. Somehow she got the feeling the younger didn’t really care what he grabbed just as long as the other didn’t see — and somehow she got the feeling the other did see and simply wasn’t bothering to say anything at this point.
7. A father whose children had dragged him down the candy aisle noted that he wasn’t the only one having problems controlling a juvenile sweet-tooth. The other shopper apparently in need of controlling didn’t technically appear to be juvenile, however — though his excited bounding from one side of the aisle to the other and one overpriced Easter candy selection to the next could have led anyone to believe he really was just an oversized kid.
“Why am I even on this aisle?” the second newcomer was wondering as he wheeled a cart and a skeptical expression behind his companion.
“Why would you not want to be on this aisle?” the young man answered, his question sounding every bit as rhetorical as the other’s had.
The other merely rolled his eyes and sped up. “Come on.”
“No, wait, we’ve gotta get some candy!” the younger protested. “I know you like chocolate.”
“Only in situations that aren’t going to arise any time this coming week.” The older didn’t stop, and was halfway down the aisle by now.
“No, wait, look at this!” The younger started laughing as he examined a package he’d seized off the shelf, and hastened after his comrade to show him. “These have sticky stuff on them so you can put them in weird places… check this out: Hide Easter Eggs where they’ve never gone before.” The chortle accompanying this showed plainly the context in which he was taking that statement. “We should totally get some and do that.”
“What did I just tell you about this coming week?” was the last audible comment of the other as the two progressed too far down the aisle to be heard clearly — and the bemused father realized somewhat belatedly that he should probably be paying better attention to what his own children were getting into anyway.
8. A cutter in the meat department did not look up from his work as a young man’s voice nearby sniggered, “‘Meat department.’ Heh…” That joke was so old it didn’t deserve acknowledgement.
“Don’t even bother elaborating on why you find that funny,” said a second voice.
“We should call our bedroom the ‘Meat Department,'” the first suggested, still childishly entertained.
This caused the cutter to look up, in time to see the second man — a tall, dark, very straight-looking guy — roll unamused yellow eyes as he examined a package of hamburger. “Why must you keep bringing up sex?”
“Can you blame me for thinking about something more interesting than grocery shopping?” the other wondered. The cutter, straining to hear the end of the exchange as they walked away, managed to catch the final comment, “But seriously, we should steal that ‘Meat Department’ sign and put it up over the door…”
9. A businessman not too accustomed to grocery store aisles but in dire need of something to bring to the office potluck was practically run down by a pair of little girls — one frantically propelling a cart down the lane, the other clinging to its far end, both screaming. Looking around irritably for parents or guardians, he found instead, not far behind him, an apparently unrelated teenage boy watching the swiftly-disappearing cavalcade with a rapt and covetous expression. This boy didn’t seem to notice the disapproval either of the businessman or of his own companion, to whom he now turned with shining eyes.
“Let me drive the cart.”
“Absolutely not,” replied aforementioned companion, a much more reasonable-looking man perhaps twice the other’s age, who now sped up to avoid the boy’s hands that groped after the cart he was pushing.
“Just for a second,” the boy persisted.
“Come on, I promise I won’t crash it.”
“Fine, asshole, then I’m going to get some snacks.”
“Do as you please.”
As the boy stalked somewhat huffily away, the companion’s eyes met the businessman’s briefly and rolled. Wondering what their relationship was — they didn’t quite seem like father and son — but certainly not about to ask, the businessman returned to his own quest for suitably edible items as the other man moved slowly on down the aisle.
10. A woman perusing the frozen foods, on hearing a deep voice saying, “Idiot. You may not have all that junk food. Go put it all back,” looked up indignantly to see who was treating his child so unkindly — only to be somewhat surprised at finding the ‘child’ in question a man of perhaps twenty bearing a huge armload of chips, cookies, and various other unhealthy snack foods.
This young man was replying as petulantly as any child, however, “Aww, come on, don’t be such a jerk!”
“You may have one,” the older man replied sternly, still sounding for all the world like an overly harsh parent of a misbehaving youngster. The shopper wondered if the other man was perhaps mentally challenged.
“But there’s going to be three kids in the house all week!” the young man was protesting.
“You mean four,” murmured the older.
Fearing the condition might rub off, the woman abandoned her search for whole baby onions and left the frozen section.
11. The cake decorator looked up with a polite, “Yes, sir?” when someone appeared in her bakery requesting an answer to a question.
“Has anyone ever grabbed one of these pies and just–” The young man on the other side of the counter mimed an elaborate pitcher’s windup. “–just thrown it right at the guy they were shopping with?”
The decorator’s reply that this had never happened in her presence was completely cut off when an older man nearby said in a pointed tone, “You might as well ask her if anyone’s ever strangled the guy they were shopping with, too.”
“So…” It seemed for a moment that the young man was, in fact, going to ask her this. “Has…” But apparently he couldn’t. “So has…” He kept interrupting himself by glancing over at his companion with an expression of growing interest and amusement, until finally he turned away from the decorator and followed the other man with the comment, “Strangled? We’ve never tried that.”
“No,” the other agreed emotionlessly, “we haven’t.”
“So, what, did you want to?”
“Not any time in the next week. Can you imagine one of my sons walking in on that?”
The young man’s laughter seemed to be the end of the exchange, but when the decorator realized she’d absently trailed a line of blue frosting across the counter in front of her, she stopped even attempting to listen.
12. The checker at checkstand 6 was slightly baffled by the behavior of the man with the funny bangs: as he’d begun to unload his groceries onto the belt, he had also seized a basket from under the counter and placed a decent number of items into that instead. He barely looked at these things, but each one’s removal from the cart seemed to cause the young man beside him increasing distress.
One object over which the black-haired man did pause was what looked like a bottle of vitamins. “Calcium pills?” he asked the other. “The rest of it almost made sense, but this…?”
The other took the bottle with a slightly perplexed expression and examined it. “Calcium? I thought it was…” He glanced up at the checker, grinned slightly, and didn’t finish his sentence, instead tossing the bottle back into the now-nearly-empty cart.
“We’re not buying it, idiot,” the first said, retrieving it and shoving it into the basket. This he thrust at the younger man. “Now go put all this stuff back.”
“You are so no fun,” the second grumbled. “You’da bought it if it had been what I thought it was.”
“If it had been what you thought it was, we wouldn’t have needed it.” The first’s smirk was decidedly inappropriate, and the checker was beginning to think she could vaguely guess what the brown-haired man had thought the bottle contained.
13. The bagger at checkstand 6 at first received no answer in response to his query whether the odd pair needed help out, since they seemed too busy discussing items they weren’t buying to pay him any attention. But eventually, once the younger of the two had run off back to the aisles with a basket full of stuff, the older mentioned they wouldn’t require assistance. Thence the bagger paid him little more attention until the younger returned, panting.
“You put it all back?” the older demanded, hardly looking over from where he was busy with the card-reader.
“Yeah,” the younger replied breathlessly.
“Where it goes?”
“Yeah.” The younger man was distinctly annoyed.
“You didn’t just drop the basket somewhere or put it all onto random shelves?”
“Yes, fuck you very much.”
Without even needing to glance at his target, the older man struck neatly out with a fist and caught the younger rather hard in the shoulder. “Idiot,” he said. “Don’t swear in front of people with children.”
“Ow! Sh–” The younger punched the older back, seemingly rather harder, also in the shoulder. “What the f–” He glanced around with a surly sort of self-consciousness at the other shoppers nearby. “What was that for?”
The older, who didn’t seem even to have noticed the return blow, just rolled his eyes and pushed past the younger to direct the cart, now full of bags, out of the lane.
“Have a nice day…” the bagger said uncertainly as they headed for the exit.
14. A woman loading groceries into her trunk looked up when one of her children pointed out a little worriedly, “That guy is hitting that other guy.”
Indeed, one of the two men approaching across the parking lot was continually punching the other in the shoulder.
“They’re just playing, honey,” the woman assured her daughter, blatantly lying if she was any judge of the strength behind the blows.
The pair evidently belonged to the car immediately next to hers, for there they stopped. “I think we’re more than even now,” the object of the blows was saying in a slightly irritated tone.
“Oh, you finally decide to admit you don’t like that, huh?” the other teased, and stopped punching his friend. “Poor Saitou. Can only pretend it doesn’t hurt for so long.” And with a grin, he leaned up and — unexpectedly, it seemed, to everyone except him — kissed the older man soundly on the mouth.
The woman’s own mouth dropped open, and it was a moment before her wits returned enough even for her to check on whether her children were watching. Of course they both were.
“Idiot,” the older man said as soon as his lips were free, “did I not just tell you–”
“You told me not to swear in front of people with kids,” the younger interrupted. “You didn’t say anything about kissing.” And before the other could say a word in response to this he added somewhat forcefully, “And if you think I’m going all week without kissing you just because your kids are here, you better think again, ba– uh, jerk.”
“Mommy, that guy just kissed that other guy,” the woman’s daughter whispered, tugging insistently at her mother’s sleeve.
“They’re just…” No spur-of-the-moment explanation came to mind.
“They’re gay,” whispered her son, the older and unfortunately savvier of her children.
“What’s ‘gay?'” her daughter asked.
“No, one of them’s a girl,” the mother said desperately, shoving the last of her groceries haphazardly into the trunk and hastening to get the children into their seats as quickly as possible.
“They both look like boys,” her daughter stated.
“They’re gay boys,” her son stated, this time not quite in a whisper, just before his door crunched shut.
“What’s ‘gay?'” her daughter asked again.
“We’ll talk about it in a minute,” said the woman quietly, trying to sound firm.
But before she could lean in to fasten the seat belt around her daughter, the latter leaned out the door and called to the two men, “Are you boys or girls?”
After a startled hiss, hurriedly subduing and buckling her daughter, and a hasty, red-faced apology to the strangers whose eyes she could not quite meet, the woman got herself into the driver’s seat as fast as she was able. She couldn’t help hearing, however, before her own door closed, the laughter of the one, nor noticing through the window the other’s somewhat amused smirk and roll of eyes. Pulling out as abruptly as caution allowed, she tried to ignore the goodbye wave the corrupting young man gave her children as she left the parking lot.
This fic, which I’ve rated , was for 30_kisses theme #28 “Wada Calcium CD3.” It’s mostly only amusing if you find the shocking of bigoted people funny. What I like about it, though, is how devoted Saitou obviously is to Sano here. He does little more than threaten him when Sano embarrasses him in public, he has his kids over to visit for a whole week at Sano’s insistence, he buys him a freaking X-Box… so cute.