173: Doing Lunch

on March 8, 2008 in 06: A Period of Conflict

In Which Mackenzie Performs A Risk Analysis

The morning passed in a haze of absolute boredom, and I’d actually started to drowse off for a lack of anything better to do when a set of quick raps on the door woke me.

I sat up and looked to see the face of Sooni of all people in the little window. She had an idiotic grin plastered across her face, and when she saw me looking, she ducked to the side and held up some kind of wooden bucket-shaped container on a string.

“Hello!” she said as she opened the door and came in. “How are you? Are you feeling better? I love your PJs, where did you get them?” She was speaking rapidly without waiting for me to answer, but she didn’t sound nervous. She held up the basket, or whatever it was. “I brought you more sekihan! I hope you liked it. It’s my absolute favorite. I faked my period a year before it actually started just so I could have it for dinner. Can you believe that?” She giggled. “I think my father knew, anyway.”

I stared at her.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “Seki-what?”

“Sekihan,” she said. “Red rice. It’s my favorite.”

Puzzle pieces fell into place very slowly. The picture they formed was inescapable, though it still made very little sense.

You brought me that rice stuff?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Was it poisoned?” I asked.

She laughed.

“You’re so funny, Mackenzie,” she said.

“I’m a laugh riot,” I said. “Was it poisoned?

“No, it’s just rice, sweetened azuki beans, sesame seeds, salt, and a little seasoning,” she said.

“And you cooked this yourself?”

“Kai-Kai boiled the beans and steamed the rice and seasoned it, but I did the important parts,” Sooni said, beaming with pride at the accomplishment.

“Which would be?” I asked. I didn’t know anything about Yokano cooking, but I couldn’t imagine what that left.

“Well, everything else.” Her smile faltered slightly as she said this. “Anyway, it was my idea.”

“But why?”

“You were hurt,” she said. “Azuki beans always make me feel better so I knew they would make you feel better, too.” Only Sooni could combine such perfect narcissism with altruism. “And it is traditional for your first period. I know this is not your first period, but it’s the first one since I’ve known you and I believed you would not have had sekihan before, and like I said, it is my favorite and I thought it would cheer you up.”

“You know what else is traditional? Making people their own favorite food to cheer them up,” I said.

“Well, what is your favorite food?”

Okay, she had me there.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Did you like the sekihan?”

It didn’t seem like I could deny that I had. I nodded.

Sooni glowed.

“Then it can be your favorite food, too,” she declared. “We have the same favorite! We like the same shows and the same foods. Isn’t that neat? I can’t wait to find out what else we have in common.”

“Sooni, you can’t tell people what their favorite foods are,” I said.

“Well… you can’t come up with one on your own, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to do so,” she said. “Anyway, I thought while we ate lunch we could talk about how we’re going to watch our shows on Sunday.”

“Wait… you want to eat lunch with me?” I asked.

“Of course!” She covered her mouth with her finger tips and giggled. “I know that sekihan is your favorite food but I made plenty for both of us.”

“It’s not my favorite!”

“So contrary,” she said. “That’s why you’re funny.”

“I’m not being contrary,” I said. “Or funny. Sooni, why the hell are you here?”

“Well, to see how you were doing, and make our plans for the weekend. Why else would I be here?”

“My only plan for the weekend that involves you is the election tomorrow,” I said.

“Oh, that reminds me! I already told Kiersta you’re not running any more but she said she needs to hear it from you.”

That didn’t seem worth responding to.

“Sooni, as much as I hate to interrupt your crazy time… my friends are going to be here in a little bit,” I said. “I would really rather you were gone by then. In fact, I’d really rather you were gone now. In fact, I’d really rather you hadn’t come at all.”

She seemed to physically shrink before my eyes. The corners of her mouth, her shoulders, and her fox ears and tail all visibly drooped.

“I… I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?” I asked. “I thought I was pretty fucking clear.”

“Aren’t we friends?” she asked. “Aren’t I your friend now?”

“You attacked me without provocation. You kicked me in the ribs when I was down and stepped on my tit,” I said. “You stomped on my face.”

“Yes,” she said. “I won. I beat you.”

“You beat on me, maybe,” I said. “But you were on the ground crying at the end, too.”

“Only because that nasty little gnome hit me with the rolling pin,” Sooni said.

“And I’ll love her forever for that,” I said. “But why would you think I’d like you any better because of our fight? It’s not like I spend all day wishing you’d knock me around a bit and then stomp on me.”

Not all day, anyway, and it wasn’t exactly wishing.

“But I defeated you,” she said. “That means we’re done fighting, right? And so now we can go on to be friends?”

Where had I heard that scenario before? More puzzle pieces arranged themselves in front of me. I did not like the picture that was unfolding.

“You… you brought me your comics, too, didn’t you?” I asked, reaching over and picking up the high school story I’d been reading. “This is yours, not Ian’s.”

Just like that, Sooni was all smiles again.

“Yes!” she said. “When I saw that you liked manga, too, I sent Kai-Kai back to my room to get some of mine for you. Did you like them? I knew you’d like them, just like I knew you’d like sekihan.”

“And you think this is like in the comic, or an episode of Science Princess,” I reasoned out loud. “You think because we fought and you ‘won’, that makes us friends.”

“Yes,” Sooni said. “Aren’t we?”

“Sooni, you stomped on my tit. You crushed my face beneath your heel. If I hadn’t been invulnerable, I would be dead now. I almost died anyway.”

“No, see, you only almost died because you risked your life using magic foolishly in your zeal to defeat me,” Sooni said. “But now that you’ve healed up you see the error of your ways and you’re eager to show how you’ve repented.”

“Sooni… I can’t believe I have to tell you this, but you don’t get to narrate what I’m thinking and feeling,” I said. “Life isn’t like some stupid TV show.”

“Well, it should be!” Sooni said. “Don’t you want to be my friend? I’m being so nice to you!”

“Please refer to subsection B, paragraph you stomped on my face, you fucking whore,” I said. “You can take your stupid rice, your clunky sandals, your too-short skirt, your ridiculous hair, your perfect breasts, and your flagrant abuse of tanning oil and get the hell out of my room.” I pointed at the door. “I’ll send the comics back when I’m done with them.”

Sooni reacted as if she’d been slapped.

Actually, I doubt she’d ever been slapped. She probably would have collapsed crying, like she had when Hazel took her down.

She reacted like a mostly normal person would have reacted to being slapped.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Lynette asked, appearing in the doorway. “Am I going to have to put you back to sleep?”

“Hey, I didn’t ask you to let the bitch queen of the material plane in,” I said. “One unwelcome visitor a month is plenty for me, thanks.”

“I think you’re going to have to leave,” Lynette said to Sooni. “You’re upsetting my patient.”

“I… I don’t mean to be,” Sooni said. “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.”

“She’s the reason I’m here, Lynette,” I said.

“I was under the impression you overexerted yourself in a game of some kind,” Lynette said. “Not that it’s my business. We only asked your R.A. if she knew what you had been doing when you collapsed for diagnostic purposes.”

“Yeah, it was a game,” I said grudgingly. “But she took it too far.”

“She takes her rivalry with me so seriously,” Sooni said, in the tone of exaggerated politeness she often affected. She dropped it quickly, though, letting her very real state of bewildered sadness through. “But… I thought we were past all that now.”

“Sooni, we’re not rivals,” I said. “And we’re never going to be friends. I’m not like your nekos. I’m not somebody you can push around and then expect them to just turn around and worship at your feet… or kiss your ass.. or lick your pussy while you call me filth… or whatever it is you want me to do for you.”

“Subtext!” Sooni said, practically dancing with joy. “See? We have subtext now!”

“I’m not sure that qualifies as ‘sub’ anything,” Lynette said. “Seriously, though…”

“You’re insane, Sooni,” I said. “And I have no idea what either of you are talking about.”

“Seriously, you have to leave,” Lynette said. “Whatever… relationship… you two may have…”

“We don’t have one,” I said.

“Whatever,” Lynette said. “You need rest, you need relaxation, you need to recover.” She turned to Sooni. “Which means you need to go.”

“But… I made sekihan,” Sooni said quietly, holding up the food container. Even the piles of braids on top of her head seemed to wilt a little. “It’s our favorite.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Lynette said. “But…”

I didn’t listen to the rest of what Lynette said. I was looking at Sooni’s face. She seemed utterly crushed. She wasn’t playing, either. This wasn’t an affectation like Kai’s sad kitty look.

I felt like I should have been overjoyed, after the way she’d treated me… especially since that was probably the way she’d treated everybody, her whole life.

In a misguided and utterly fucked up way, though, she reminded me of me… when I’d been so pathetically disappointed at missing Puddy’s pizza party due to a slight case of attempted rape.

But… we were going to have pizza.

But… we were going to have sekihan.

I remembered when I’d first told Amaranth about Sooni’s actual relationship with her nekos. She’d told me that if she really had no friends that hadn’t been paid for, we should feel sorry for her.

I didn’t buy that. I couldn’t. For one thing, slavery of any form was abhorrent. For another, it seemed pretty obvious that her “friendship” with the nekos had twisted them badly.

Maliko was sadistic and mean-spirited. Suzi seemed a bit, well… like a big fluffy kitty cat… but I’d seen the cruel looks she gave Kai sometimes, and she was just as quick to throw an insult, though even less skilled than Maliko. Kai struck me as being cutthroat herself, in her own way. I couldn’t blame her for that.

I really couldn’t blame any of them for their failings, not knowing their circumstances, not knowing what exactly Sooni had put them through.

But you have no problem blaming Sooni, not knowing what she’s been through, a quiet voice said. It sounded a lot like Amaranth’s.

Of course I didn’t. Sooni was evil.

People say the same about you. You do, too, for that matter.

That’s different. I tried to be good. I really did.

And what’s Sooni doing? What’s she doing right now?

She wasn’t trying to be good! She was trying to force me to be friends with her in accordance with the rules of her stupid stories. It was sad and all that she didn’t have any real friends, but it wasn’t my fault that she’d somehow managed to be even more socially inept than I was.

So it’s okay to be mean to somebody and shut them out for being more socially inept than yourself.

Well, I’d certainly shut me up.

“Look… stay,” I said.

Lynette and Sooni both turned and stared at me.

“What now?” Lynette asked.

“Sooni can stay,” I said, knowing I would regret this sooner or later. “I… I don’t mind.”

“I knew you couldn’t resist your favorite food,” Sooni said. She turned to Lynette. “She’s just in a bad mood but sekihan always cheers her up, just like it does for me.”

Yeah. It looked like we were going to go with “sooner.”

“Fine… but if I hear another raised voice in here, I’m kicking one of you out and putting the other one under,” Lynette said. “I mean that.”

“Do not worry!” Sooni said. “Miss Mackenzie and I are going to be the best of friends.”

I tried to look on the bright side. There was still every chance that when my actual friends showed up, Steff would kill Sooni. The slight chance that she’d try to turn the corpse into some kind of undead sex puppet seemed like an acceptable risk, at this point.


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7 Responses to “173: Doing Lunch”

  1. pedestrian says:

    Yep, that’s Our Mack, a Classical Case of Super Masochism if ever there was one.

    It is a good thing that Mackenzie cannot belong to any of the stringently fundamentalist cults. Cause she would be demanding crucifixion or some other hideous death as a holy martyr.

    Current score: 1
  2. Psi-Ko says:

    It’s funny how, as a sub, the most twisted, painful of tortures can provide pleasure, but being stuck stuck in a room with someone that rubs you the wrong way (which I call torture) is just infuriating.

    The middle ground is being in a room with someone that doesn’t rub you at all!

    Current score: 2
  3. Mickey says:

    I, um, *really* like Mack for being unable to stop herself from empathizing with Sooni, of all people. Also, “The slight chance that she’d try to turn the corpse into some kind of undead sex puppet seemed like an acceptable risk, at this point.” is one of my favorite sentences, EVER.

    Current score: 7
  4. capybroa says:

    Khers, I hope Lynette gets a raise soon. She deserves it.

    Current score: 6
  5. nobody says:

    I am suprised to be the first to comment on the “a slight case of attempted rape” line, it shows just how damaged Mackenzie was when she first arrived at collage if she can modify that phrase with the word “slight”.

    Current score: 2
  6. Anon says:

    There is no subtext here. The big question is whether it will remain text or somehow evolve into supertext.

    Current score: 2
  7. zeel says:

    In a misguided and utterly fucked up way, though, she reminded me of me… when I’d been so pathetically disappointed at missing Puddy’s pizza party due to a slight case of attempted rape.

    The combination of alliteration and incredible levels of understatement in this paragraph are hilarasturbing.

    Current score: 2