“Michael!” Rus cried, throwing his arms around him.
“That was my ear,” Michael muttered, scrunching up his face and patting Rus lightly on the back.
“Well, you know, it’s been seventy two years since the last time he saw you. He’s excited.” Plozi shrugged.
Rus pulled away strictly to glare at Plozi. “Shut up.” He paused. “You brought the money, right?”
Plozi stood silent with a blank expression. Finally, almost uncertainly, le said, “Yes.”
Dylan walked towards them.
“Dylan!” Rus yelled.
Michael looked at him. “If you’re going to keep shouting, you need to go stand over there.” He pointed in a random direction that was away from himself. “What did you do, drink a gallon of coffee?”
“I had some bagel thingies that tasted good,” Rus said, nodding proudly. “I’m gonna stop shouting though, I promise. If you want I’ll bring you some of the thingies later.”
Plozi snorted. “You ate them all already.”
Rus opened his mouth.
Michael held up a hand. “I swear to God if you shout in my ear…”
“I was just gonna say ‘Oh’,” Rus said, patting his shoulder. “I’m stopping shouting, remember?”
“Okay,” Dylan said. “If you say so.”
“You know what, Dylan, your lack of support is really not helping me through this process.”
Rus huffed. “Tell your husband to be more supportive while I try to remedy this bad habit of shouting too much.”
Michael shook his head. “I can’t take either of you seriously right now.”
Rus sighed, shaking his head. “You’re just as bad as him. Can’t trust anyone.”
Michael bit his lip. “You know what--” He shook his head and sighed. “I’m going inside. You can come with if you want.”
Inside, they had to wait in a line. Rus sat on the railing, randomly deciding to share a video, but never waiting for the full video to play before ending it, so no one really had a clear idea of what the point was.
Michael leaned against the wall. He’d never actually done this before, which was ninety percent of the reason they were standing here right now-- last night he said, I’ve never done laser tag and Dylan and Plozi, ten minutes later, determined that there was a place where they could play laser tag which opened at ten AM and they needed to be there promptly at ten.
Unfortunately, Rus decided to sleep until well after nine and then cite that he needed breakfast first, which meant they got caught in traffic on the way here, and now it was pushing on lunchtime and Michael was stuck standing here. With no lunch.
“How long do these usually take?” Rus asked, lowering his phone for a moment to lean back and look at the scoreboard of whoever was currently playing. “This has been forever.”
Plozi had a hand out nervously, as though worried Rus was going to fall backwards off the railing. “It’s been--” le glanced at the time on lis device. “Six whole minutes.”
“Ugh, really? That’s it?” Rus sat forward again. “It’s been forever.”
“You should really learn the value of patience,” Michael suggested.
Rus looked at him. “You’re one of the least patient people I know.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Don’t be a hypocrite. Geez, Michael.” Rus huffed dramatically.
Michael stared at him, then sighed and looked at Plozi. “Stop letting him eat bagels or whatever.”
“What!” Rus giggled, then cleared his throat. “Sorry, no shouting. What,” he asked in a quieter but still aghast tone. In a regular voice, he said, “I’m buying more when we go back. They’re yummy. You should try them.”
“You know what, if you didn’t have a really weird taste in food, I might,” Michael said.
“At least I don’t hospitalize people,” Rus shot back.
“That wasn’t even me! Stop throwing that at me like I personally prepared that food or shoved it down your throat!”
Rus just looked at him. “Now who’s shouting?”
“I’m not shouting!” Michael protested.
“No, but you’re being really screechy and you need to stop,” Dylan said, barely looking up from whatever he was scrolling through.
Rus gave Michael a smug look.
“And Shephyrus, you really need to let that go. It was like a decade ago, man.” Dylan rolled his eyes.
Rus stuck his tongue out. “It was traumatic. Anyway, you weren’t there.”
An employee came out of a back room and frowned at them. Finally, he said, “Sir, you need to get off the railing, please.” He pointed awkwardly at a sign. “Maybe you didn’t see, but…’’
Michael hadn’t noticed this sign. No sitting on rail, it read, along with the rules of no food or drinks.
Rus hopped off, paying utterly no attention to it.
“Just you four?” the employee asked.
Michael nodded, standing straight. “Yeah, it’s just us.”
“Alright, you can pay right here and then go ahead back.”
Michael paid for himself and Dylan and went back into the room. “This is where it turns out that they don’t actually have money on them,” Michael said, watching the pair of quecheen.
“Why are you saying it like that?” Dylan asked, grabbing his hand.
“Because I already know that Rus is super forgetful, and honestly I feel like it wouldn’t be a surprise if Plozi is too.”
Dylan shrugged. He didn’t say anything before Rus and Plozi finished with the cashier and came to the back.
“I bet you thought that I forgot money,” Rus said. “But I did not!”
“We were literally just talking about that,” Michael agreed.
“Yeah, and he did forget it,” Plozi said.
Rus ignored lim, bouncing on his feet. “We should go to a haunted house after this or whatever they’re called.”
“It’s the middle of July,” Plozi said, frowning.
“Never mind.” Plozi shrugged. “I guess we put on the harnesses while we wait.”
“I thought you’ve done this before. You’re supposed to know this,” Rus said.
Dylan looked at Rus. “Have you ever done laser tag?”
“No, why? Was I supposed to?” Rus grabbed one of the harnesses off the rack. “Like, I think I get the gist, I’ve just never done it. Ooh, can we be on teams?”
“I don’t know if these are set up for teams,” Plozi said, frowning at the rack.
“We should’ve asked up there.” Rus put on the harness. “We could still be on teams if we don’t shoot at each other!” He paused. “That wasn’t a shout, by the way. That was a loud voice.” He nodded emphatically.
Dylan handed a harness to Michael. “If you really really want to, we can do teams.”
Rus grinned. “Yay, we’re doing teams!” He looked at Plozi. “We’re gonna be a team.”
“Yeah, but--” Plozi shook lis head.
Michael pulled the harness over his head. “How often do you think they wash these?”
“I’m gonna assume they wipe them down often and leave it there,” Plozi said in a disgruntled voice, grabbing a harness.
Michael looked at Dylan. He leaned into his ear and whispered, “That sounds like a really big assumption.”
Dylan looked at him. “You know what, though, I’m going to accept that assumption.”
Michael raised his eyebrows and shook his head slightly. He bet they didn’t actually wash these that often.
The employee from earlier entered and announced that they were going to watch a video explaining the rules and how to play.
“Make sure you pay attention to this,” Plozi said to Rus.
“Calm down, I am.”
“I’m just saying, last time you decided to skip instructions you almost broke your foot.”
Rus sighed. “That’s not what happened. Now stop, I’m trying to focus.”
After the instructions had ended and they were starting to go into the arena, Plozi said, “Now Rus, did you hear what they said?”
“Well, yes, but what else?”
“Don’t use your phone?”
“Shephyrus, did you or did you not hear the part where the guy said that we’re doing a free for all?”
Rus studied lim. “Hmm. I think I might remember that, but I also remember before the video started that we agreed to do teams anyway.”
Plozi threw lis hands up in the air. “Fine. We’ll be a team.”
Michael looked at Dylan. “Wait, are we gonna be a team?”
Dylan shrugged. “I don’t know. Do you want to be on a team?”
“Then look at that. We’re a team now.”
Michael nodded. “Okay. That’s cool with me.” He paused, then held up a hand.
“Wait, before we do anything else.” He pointed to Rus. “What on earth were you playing when you almost broke your ankle?”
Rus glared at him. “We’re moving on. C’mon, Plozi.” Rus dragged his partner into the maze of the room.
Michael glared at his back. “This is important to me.”
Dylan patted his shoulder and started walking. Somewhat begrudgingly, Michael followed. He needed to get this story out of him at some point.
The next thirty seconds or so passed uneventfully.
“We could just stay right here,” Michael suggested, leaning against a wall.
Dylan nodded. “Or we could actually play the game.”
“We probably shouldn’t have done teams, I guess.”
Dylan shrugged. “We probably should’ve recruited more people before we came.”
Michael frowned, considering people they could’ve invited. “I dunno. I guess we could’ve tried it with…" He tried the first name that came to mind. "Sherry?”
Dylan shook his head. “No. I don’t like her.”
“Oh.” This was new information. “Then why did you invite her to the house?”
He shrugged. “It seemed like she was lonely and she needed somewhere to hang out for a little while. I don’t really like her, though. She’s really obnoxious.”
“Oh.” Huh. “We should go look for them again.” Michael pulled Dylan along. “I wonder if they went back to the front. That might be why we can’t find them.”
“Yeah, maybe. We can go look there.”
“I feel like they’re not actually trying very hard,” Michael continued.
“Ploziiii! You can’t shoot your teammate!”
Dylan laughed. “I found them.”
Michael ran towards the voice, pulling Dylan behind him. They found them in the middle of the upper level of the room, arguing about whether Plozi purposely shot Rus or not.
Michael shot Plozi’s sensor, then Rus’s.
“Wait! Stop!” Rus said. “We’re having an issue.”
“Yeah, we heard.” Michael nodded unsympathetically.
“Can I join your team? I don’t think le’s trustable anymore,” Rus said, frowning.
“Rus, there’s four of us in here. It wouldn’t be any fun if there was three of us together against one person.”
Rus seemed to consider this for a moment. “Okay, okay.” Rus paused, then lifted his gun and shot Plozi’s sensor, going for Michael’s next, then Dylan’s.
Plozi sprinted behind a wall and Rus ran after him, yelling.
“I feel played,” Dylan murmured, remaining still.
Michael frowned, his brows knitting together. “I think Rus might be taking this too seriously.”
“You know what though, you can’t accidentally fire a gun. I’m siding with him.” Dylan shrugged, leaning against Michael.
“Hm?” Michael looked at him.
Dylan gave him a peck on the lips, grinned, then shot his sensor and disappeared around the corner.
Michael stood there for a moment, contemplating this, then he shook his head and followed after him. “Dylan! Come back!”
I acknowledge that all of the transitions are... questionable... and that this was probably inaptly named, seeing as I stopped before they actually start laser tagging, but... look I copped out on it and I admit that okay >.<
Just so we're clear, this is just Rus on a good day. Food or drink had nothing to do with it.
Rus is still my favorite. chuckle
And I'd also like to know how he almost broke a foot or whatever. :P
Rus: Look, it was foul play and not my fault >.>
Tbh I've been trying to think of this since last night when I brought this up. :/ Hopefully I get one soon because it's bothering me.