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PostPosted: Mon May 11, '09, 7:07 am
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Episode II: Things to Do in Oputa When You're Wearing a Bathing Suit

What Rolf wanted to suggest to the group was a simple get-together, something along the line of a walk down Oputa's long boardwalk. Before he could start to say anything, Shir strode up to Rolf, crossing her arms as she moved close to the blue-haired man.

"Soooo.... Rolf," Shir said, her voice returning to its teasing tone. "Just between you and me... who looks better in a bikini?"

"Well- wait, what?!" Rolf replied, stunned. "Shir, what the hell?!"

"You heard me, Rolf! Me or Amy- who looks better in a bikini?" Despite the fact that Amy was standing behind her, Shir could tell she was blushing.

"Umm... ah.... I guess... you?" Rolf finally replied, after a few very uncomfortable seconds of stammering.

"Ha-haa! Score one for Shir of the Winds! Hey, Rudo! Same question- me or Amy?"

Burying his face in the palm of his hand, Rudo groaned and said, "Amy, no contest. Sorry, Shir."

"Oh, you... you're just saying that because Amy kept healing us," Shir grumbled, turning her back to Rudo. Ignoring Rudo's response with a wave of her hand, she approached Hugh. "So-"

"Amy. Not just saying that because I'm dating her, either, Shir."

Amy blushed, giving Hugh a sweet smile as Shir rolled her eyes. "You people have no taste in bikinis. Hey, Kain! Same question- me or Amy?"

"'Or?'" Kain asked, grinning at Shir. "Seems t'me you and Miss Amy are both quite the lookers."

"Oh. I, uh... I guess you're abstaining, Kain?" Amy asked, hope filling her voice as she continued, "For the sake of the whole group?"

"Naaah. Two votes, Miss Shir- one fer you, an' one fer Miss Amy!"

Both women sweatdropped. Amy remained silent, slightly embarrassed by the sudden attention she was receiving from her male friends, while Shir glared at Kain. Finally, when he could bear it no more, Rolf said, "Look, Shir, kidding aside, you both look great."

"There's only one way to settle this, then!" Shir said, vaulting over Amy's shoulders. As she pushed Ami away from the group, the green-haired thief loudly announced, "Hey, everybody! Impromptu bikini contest!"

"Please, Miss Gold, this..." Amy interrupted as she and Shir found themselves farther and farther away from their friends. "This isn't necessary, really..."

"Of course it is! Besides," Shir winked at Amy. "Have a little fun, y'know? Yoho, beachcrawlers of Algo! Bikini contest right here!"

"This isn't really happening..."

-=-=-

As he watched Amy disappear downbeach with Shir, Rolf sweatdropped, then said, "Well, I guess that settles that. Maybe we can all meet up later on."

"Sounds like a plan thar, Rolf! I'se got an arcade to raid- scuttlebutt has it that they installed a boxin' game, and Ah gotta try mah luck at it!" Kain rubbed his hands, eager at the thought of trying a video game.

"Didn't you just say you got banned from the arcades?" Rudo asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Gordo's Arcade did, but not Jenx South! Not yet, anyways."

"If that's really what you want to do, Kain, then go ahead," Rolf said. "Have fun, all-"

That was all Kain needed: He dashed off, grinning like a maniac, leaving Rolf to finish, confused, "-right?"

Anna looked over to Rolf, then told him, "You're right, Rolf. It's a big beach, with enough for all of us to do. And right now, some of these games of chance sound intriguing."

"See? Now we're talking," Rudo added. "The big wheel! Light guns! Water guns! Fun stuff, Anna!"

"If you're into guns. Now, the ring toss, the ball toss- true tests of finesse, Rudo. That is..." She grinned at the giant man, once again looking over her sunglasses at him. "If you think you're up to the challenge."

I guess Anna always needs a challenge, Rolf thought as Rudo laughed, clapping Anna on the shoulder.

"All right, then. A couple throwing games, a couple shooting games. You versus me, so lead the way, Anna!" Rudo exclaimed, then stepped aside, allowing Anna to pass by. He chuckled as he followed the blonde up the boardwalk.

"He is so getting his * kicked," Anna whispered as she passed Rolf, just loudly enough for him to hear her. Rudo left a second later, leaving Rolf alone with Hugh.

"Well, it's just us, then," the blue-haired man said. "Unless you'd rather be somewhere else?"

"Not particularly. Just waiting for Shir to come back with Amy." Looking down the boardwalk, Hugh could see Shir flailing in frustration, saying something to a passerby, while Amy looked downward, concern for her friend in her eyes. After letting his gaze linger on the redhead for a few seconds, he turned back to his companion. "Rolf, when was the last time somebody told you something that really affected you?"

"Hmm..." Rolf scratched the back of his head as he thought. "There's been quite a few times, Hugh. The social workers telling me 'Your parents are dead' when I was ten, no compassion there. 'Congratulations, Agent Eushys,' that's what Athena said three years ago when I became an agent... what else... 'Long time no see, Rolf,' and then... Lutz. 'You dreamed of Alisa Landale? As I suspected- her blood courses through you.' There were a lot, particularly over the past few months. I really can't pick just one of those moments, Hugh."

"I can. Last fall, when Amy and I were starting dating, we would usually go see a movie, then have some dinner together, or go shopping." Hugh once again looked towards Amy, catching her glance with a wave, then continued to Rolf, "Amy and I went to med school together, and we work at the same hospital, so we didn't think much of it at the time- just a simple dinner between colleagues, you understand. Then, the third date. Hectic day at work, terrible movies in the theaters, dinner was barely edible, and to top it all off, it rained."

"Ouch. Sounds like a crappy day."

"Amy and I nearly called the evening a loss, and we went back to her apartment. But when we got there... Amy and I just... connected. I made us some soup, we watched TV for a while, and we talked, the two of us." Hugh sighed as he remembered that night, his smile making it clear to Rolf that this was a memory he treasured. "It was almost two in the morning by the time I got ready to leave, and before I let myself out, Amy just hugged me, held me close to her. And that's when she said them- six words. Just six words, whispered into my ear, but those six words made me fall in love with her."

"No kidding!" Rolf said, surprised to hear Hugh speaking so honestly. "What were they?"

"I promised I'd keep them just between the two of us," Hugh replied. "Even biologists have their secrets."

"Fair enough." Crossing his arms, Rolf then asked, "What makes you bring this up all of a sudden, though?"

"Well... this is the hard part, actually. Rolf, I was planning on asking Amy to marry me."

Rolf let out a grunt of surprise, his eyes widening in shock. Grabbing Hugh by the shoulders, he started shaking him, asking, "What?! When, Hugh?! How are you going to do it?! Where's the ring?!"

The agent was shaking Hugh so vigorously he thought that his head might fall off; despite this, Hugh managed to answer, "I don't know. I was hoping tonight, perhaps."

"Go for it!" Rolf said, releasing his grip on Hugh. "She'll say yes in a heartbeat. I know it."

"I can only hope so, Rolf. I just want Amy to be hap-"

"Can you believe this, Rolf!?" Shir's voice called out from down the boardwalk, as she and Amy walked back to them. "People in Oputa have no taste in women at! ALL!"

"Shir, calm down," Rolf urged her. "What happened?"

"Miss Gold started flagging passersby down, and..." Amy blushed once again, giving Hugh a shy smile. "When she asked them which of us was more appealing, the answer was always-"

"Amy! Everybody loves Amy!" Shir huffed, looking over to Rolf. "You were the only one who said I was better, Rolf!"

"Now, Shir," Hugh started. "Kain voted both ways-"

"Kain doesn't count!"

Rolf and Hugh looked to each other, sweatdropping. Rolf took a moment to consider Shir's plight, then said, "Hugh, I'm gonna go try to cheer Shir up. I think you and Amy deserve some alone time, anyway."

"Thanks, Rolf." As Rolf started to head off with Shir, he added, "Thanks for listening."

-=-=-

"Hmm... Dynamite Duke's Fisticuffsmanship!! Only 25 Meseta per play," Kain said, eying the shiny new arcade cabinet displayed front-and-center at the Jenx South Arcade. "Looks simple enough. Now lessee if this'un can survive the Kain!"

He reached into his pocket, withdrawing a gold-inlaid coin bearing the three planets of Algo. Before Kain could drop it into the machine, a sudden fanfare blared forth as the game started its attract mode.

"'Starring Small Rob and his trainer, Dengarengba Gulv. Also playing the role of Rob, it's You!!'" Kain read, watching the display shift to a series of comically-exaggerated pictures. "'Guest starring: Automobili Monstertruckini, Don Gangsterelli, Dlagon Ree, Max Morgan, Skullcrusher Kiljarian, Murderin' Moatoob, Ultra Macho Man, and Special Guest Star "Dynamite" Duke Togo!' Now Ah gotta admit, Ah'm impressed. Ce-leb endorsement, to boot."

Kain placed the quarter piece into the game's slot, grinning as he heard the coin plink into the coin collector. "All righty," he said to himself as he took the controls. "Joystick fer movin', buttons fer punchin', and there Ah am. Mister Referee Sonic the Hedgehog, too. Now, where's mah... oh, crap."

Before Kain's on-screen boxer stood an absolute giant of a man, vaguely resembling some of the Sakoff biomonsters he had helped Rolf fight on Dezolis. Each step the gigantic boxer took shook the screen, and Kain raised an eyebrow in suspicion.

"And in this corner, weighing in at 450 pounds, Number Seven in the Video Game Boxing Association, Automobili Monstertruckini... FIGHT!"

Gritting his teeth, Kain gripped the game's joystick, resting his right hand on the punch buttons. Almost immediately after the round began, the massive boxer swung at Kain's boxer with a crushing right hook, knocking him back several steps.

"C'mon... stick 'n move, you ornery... gaah!"

After landing a few ineffective punches on Automobili's torso, he responded by lifting Kain's boxer out of the ring with one hand. With a downward blow from his other hand, Kain watched as his boxer bounced off of the ring's ropes, then the ring's floor itself, struggling to get up as blood pooled beneath him.

"Whu- whut in tarnation was that!? Mister Referee Sonic, where the hell are you? Call him out on that!" Kain shouted at the machine, fumbling the controls.

With a loud *keeeee!* Sonic rolled into the ring, positioning himself by Kain's fighter. Raising his hand, he counted, "Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten KO!" A bell rung.

Kain sweatdropped, his jaw dropping as the words "YOU SUCK" flashed on screen, while Automobili Monstertruckini started taunting Kain's boxer. An electronic laugh emanated from the game cabinet as Kain took a step away, wondering just where exactly his strategy had failed.

Quite a challenge we've got here, he thought as he flipped through his swim trunks' pockets. Looks like Ah'll have to hit Rolf up fer more money first. Out of quarters.

-=-=-

"Step riiiiiiiight up! Fifty Meseta a game! Right up here, ladies and gents!"

Up and down the far end of the boardwalk, several booths were set up, each one containing a different game of chance and skill. To further entice beachgoers into stopping for a play, the booths were each stuffed full of toys, from stuffed plush Locustas to action figures and trading cards.

"One game for fifty Meseta, sir! Five plays for two hundred Meseta, ma'am!" One of the barkers caught sight of Anna, and called to her. "Toss the rings 'round the milk bottles, win a fabulous prize!"

Or whatever passes for "fabulous" at a street game, Anna thought as she and Rudo approached the booth. Setting several coins on the counter, she told the attendant, "You've got a deal. What's the game?"

"You get three rings," the attendant said, setting three plastic rings onto the counter after he accepted Anna's money. Pointing to some milk bottles set up behind him, he continued, "Toss 'em around the milk bottles! Get all three around, and you get yourself a nice plushie!"

Anna smirked as she picked up the first ring. Testing its weight in her hand, the blonde passed it back and forth between her hands as she studied the bottles intently. PVC plastic, she thought as she gripped the ring firmly. Half a pound, give or take an ounce. Shouldn't take much effort to throw.

"Any time you're ready, ma'am."

"Don't rush a soldier, kid," Anna replied, giving the attendant an irritated glare.

Rudo sweatdropped as he asked, "What do you mean, 'kid?' You look like you're barely a day older than him, you know that, right?"

"Ssh."

After about a minute, Anna crossed her arm across her chest, then threw the ring. It flew gracefully through the air, landing dead-center around a milk bottle.

"There we go! That's one!" the attendant cheered, watching Anna take a second ring. "Two more to go!"

Again, Anna judged the plastic ring's capabilities, then threw it, just as she had before. The ring bounced off one of the bottles, twirling end-over-end before landing around a bottle in the far right of the booth. The attendant gave a low whistle as several beachgoers applauded, stopping to watch Anna try her luck.

"Nice shot, Anna," Rudo said. "Just like your boomerangs against biomonsters, aren't they?"

"Almost. Sky Tiaras and Archdragons have nothing on this, Rudo." Anna twirled the third ring around her finger for a second, then clutched it to her chest. "Then again, these are only childrens' playthings, not weapons of war. Speaking of playthings..."

She threw the third ring, this time overhand, as if it were one of Shir's throwing daggers. The ring glanced off the neck of a bottle, then spiraled onto the lip of another bottle, spinning on its edge before finally toppling over and falling, circling the bottle.

"And that's three! Everyone, give this vision of loveliness a hand!" Leaning towards Anna, the attendant whispered to her, "How the hell did you DO that!? You're not supposed to use Techniques!"

"No Techniques- just the skill and finesse of a woman who's done far too much killing in her life." Hardened cobalt eyes locked on suddenly nervous and attentive brown eyes as Anna continued, "I'll take the little Clefairy doll over there."

"R...right you are, ma'am... here's your doll..." He handed her a small pink doll with an adorable smile on its face, then quickly turned to another customer. "Step right up, fifty Meseta to play the ring toss..."

"You know what?" Rudo asked. "I think I'll give it a shot. I can always give the doll to charity, anyway."

"I don't need my doll, either," Anna added, giving her doll to a pigtailed girl. Smiling at her, Anna told the girl, "There you go. Now have fun. That goes for you too, Rudo."

"All right. Here's your Meseta," Rudo told the attendant. "Just throw the rings around the bottles, right?"

"Right you are, sir! Get 'em all, win a doll, just like your girlfriend!"

"She isn't my girlfriend..." "I am not his girlfriend!"

The attendant sweatdropped, then quietly passed the three rings to Rudo, deciding not to risk angering him any further.

Now, how did she do this, he wondered. Cross my chest... why didn't the army teach me how to use throwing weapons?

The giant man took a second to line up a throw, then hurled the ring just as Anna had. Unlike her graceful throw, Rudo's thrown ring wobbled erratically, bouncing off a milk bottle before clattering to the ground.

"So sorry, sir!" The attendant frowned, then gave Rudo two more rings. "Still, you get a consolation prize for two rings. Give it a go!"

"Better than nothing... raaah!"

The second ring hit the booth's far wall, falling to the floor without even reaching the bottles. The third ring flew wildly to Rudo's right, striking the booth's wall before careening into the lined-up bottles, rolling on its edge. Rudo slammed his head against the game's counter when he saw the ring perch against two bottles, the results of his failure obvious to anybody passing by the booth.

"Oh, I'm sorry, sir... wanna give it another shot?" the attendant asked. Before Rudo could set more Meseta onto the counter, Anna pulled him away.

"There's other games, remember," Anna told him. "Besides, you still owe me a shooting challenge."

"That I do," Rudo said. "Should be one among all these other games here..."

-=-=-

On the other end of the boardwalk, Hugh walked with Amy, his hand clasped in hers as they passed a row of beach houses, most of which prominently displayed for-rent signs.

"Wonder how much it would cost to rent one of these," Hugh wondered aloud as he paused to admire a particular house.

"Quite a lot, I'd imagine," Amy replied. "Tens of thousands of Meseta per month, but... oh, it would be so much fun, wouldn't it? Of course, it's a longer walk to the hospital..."

"Try not to think about that, Amy." Hugh smiled at the redhead. "Just... just fantasize for a minute. No job, no stress, no summer crowds. You get to wake up every morning staring at the ocean, we can take a nice long walk along the beach..."

"The smells of the restaurants, and the sea breeze, and the funnel cakes..."

"A nice nightlife. You've got the downtown bloc all lit up at night like stars, Amy. And Zelan reflecting on the sea... it would be nice to see that every night before you go to sleep, wouldn't it, Meseta be damned?"

"It would be, Hugh..." Amy sighed. Looking over to him, her blue eyes sparkled as she said, "I'd love that. To get out of that small apartment and get to such a wonderful part of Oputa..."

"To build sand castles once in a while... oh, God, I want this so much, Amy. I want to share this with you so much."

"I know, Hugh, but..." Amy gave Hugh a sad smile as she continued, "We'd never be able to afford it, even on doctors' salaries."

"Yeah, we would. Just keep saving, and one fine day, we'll be living in a house just like this one." Taking Amy's hands into his, Hugh looked her in the eyes and said, "Anything to see you smile, Amy."

Amy pulled her hands from Hugh's, then embraced him tightly, resting her head on his shoulder. "Oh, Hugh," she whispered, feeling his arms close around her. "Thank you."

He could feel tears dropping onto his shirt, and his heart started beating faster as he felt Amy's bare midriff pressing against him, ever closer. Quietly, silently, he planted a light kiss at the base of her neck, smiling as she giggled at the contact.

"Promise me something, Hugh," Amy continued, her voice still a sweet whisper.

"Anything."

"Grow old with me, Hugh."

"Of course." Amy could feel Hugh smiling as he kissed her cheek.

Their lips met, and for just one moment, Amy and Hugh tuned out the beach, the people around them, and even the beach houses; as far as they were concerned, they wanted for nothing- they were together.

A sudden, low rumbling brought the couple out of their dreamy state, and Amy blushed at the sound as she pulled away from Hugh. "I... I'm sorry!" she said. "I didn't eat anything this morning..."

Hugh chuckled a bit, then offered his hand to Amy. "That's fine, Amy. I think some funnel cake sounds pretty nice right now, wouldn't it? I heard someone I love likes funnel cake."

"That would be nice," Amy replied, taking Hugh's hand and pulling herself alongside him. "And maybe some lemonade, too? I'm in love with someone who drinks a lot of lemonade..."

The two laughed, holding each other as they walked back up the boardwalk.

-=-=-

"...too athletic-looking, chest is smaller, butt's not as nice-looking! Rolf, can you believe the nerve of some people?!" Shir complained as she and Rolf walked up the boardwalk. "That's not even half of what everyone said about me compared to Amy!"

Rolf sweatdropped, clearly unsure of what to say to Shir. "Well, uh... look at this way, Shir," he started. "I said you looked nice in a bikini, didn't I?"

"You're only saying that because Hugh would have Sa Voled you if you said Amy looked better. >_<"

"No, I'm serious," Rolf protested. "Look, Shir, really. You look great."

"Flatterer."

"Shir, seriously. You're a knockout." Rolf sighed wearily as he circled around Shir. "Really, I wish my last two girlfriends looked like you."

Shir raised an eyebrow in surprise, then asked Rolf, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Well, it... pretty much means exactly what it sounds li-"

"Rolf! Rolf! There you are!" Kain called out, running towards Rolf and Shir. "You gotta help me, Rolf! You too, Miss Shir!"

"Kain, what happened?!" Rolf asked, suddenly wary of what his friend had been up to in his absence. "You didn't destroy another crane game, did you?"

"If you did, I can tell you where to hide from the rent-a-cops," Shir added, grinning devilishly at Kain.

"No, it ain't like that! Rolf, Ah gotta borrow some Meseta. Lotsa it."

".....How much?"

"Well, lessee... twenty-five times... bah, ferget it. Ah need five hundred Meseta, Ah think, iffin' Ah'm gonna beat Dynamite Duke's Fisticuffsmanship!!." Kain grinned at Rolf, his hand outstretched.

"Five hundred Meseta, Kain?" Rolf wondered. "Isn't that a bit much?"

"Hard game, Rolf. Boxin's like that, y'know."

"Here you go, Kain! ^_^"

Happily, Shir placed a handful of banknotes into Kain's hand, then added, "Have fun, and enjoy yourself!"

"Why, thank ya kindly, Miss Shir! You're right up there with, err, some awesome people whose names Ah don't remember right this instant!" With that, Kain dashed back to the arcade, leaving Rolf confused and Shir happy.

"Shir?" Rolf asked after his confusion passed. "How did you get my wallet without touching my pants? Or my butt?"

"Simple-" Shir spun towards Rolf, pointing to him as she struck a pose in her bikini. "I'm Shir of the Wind, Rolf. Nothing can stop me- I'm that good!"

"....."

"Besides, I didn't take all your money! You're my best friend, I'm not gonna do that to you, Rolf!"

"That... makes sense, I think?" Rolf wondered.

"Yep! Hey, Rolf! Look where we are!"

The blue-haired man looked where Shir was pointing- a collection of rides, some new, some older, in a separate area of the boardwalk. Smiling at Rolf, Shir asked, "Just like when we were kids, Rolf! Remember how we'd used to come here and just ride the rides all day?"

"Yeah... then life got complicated." Even still, Rolf smiled at the memories of sitting next to Shir on all the rides. He briefly wondered if one particular car on the Tilt-O-Whirrrrrl still bore the "RE + SG" heart he had carved into it summers ago.

"What complicated?" Shir asked, grabbing Rolf's wrist. Dragging him towards the rides, the green-haired woman added, "We're here to have fun, Rolf- you said it yourself!"

Next Episode Preview: Rolf and Shir reminisce about their lazy youth, Amy and Hugh enjoy fine dining on the boardwalk, Rudo and Anna continue their duel of the titans, and Kain declares war on the four-time heavyweight champion of Motavian chess boxing!

Amy: I hope all our summers are as pleasant as this one, Hugh!


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