This is fine, you guess, sitting in one of those slick bar-chairs from Rose's kitchen with a monogrammed towel draped around your neck. She dragged you and the chair up to her room because the light's better, she said, and that's probably bullshit, but you are a magnanimous dude and let it slide. You don't want to spend any more time in that woman-tomb than she does, anyway. You appreciate the spiteful nuance that went into constructing it but Rose's room is a little messy, and you're used to that. "Homey feel" is relative at the moment but seeing her laptop cozy crumpled on the bookshelf next to a spare hairband is close enough. Is that a first-edition copy of The Silmarillion? What a geek.
The scissors she's holding are really fucking big, though.
"yeah um i don't really think those are meant for cutting hair," you say.
"You are correct. They were originally meant for cutting yarn. But they're are all I have," she says. "I could fetch a steak knife, if you prefer."
Her mouth says 'steak knife' but you could swear her eyes are saying 'magicked knitting needles.'
You shake your head—Rose is a crazy broad and she stopped bluffing months ago—but stop when she puts her palm against your ear to hold you still.
The blades are so long it takes half an hour for every slice. Rose snorts when you point that out. Fine, let her float along in her temporally-challenged little world. You're the Knight of Time, okay; you have a good feel for these things. This haircut is gonna take for-fucking-ever.
It's a delicate operation, someone putting their untrained mitts on a man's coiffure like that, but you are a cool customer and you've handled this before: years ago, before the puppet site took off, when a good month involved food and clothing. You and your bro did alright, obviously; Bro could pull a back-to-school wardrobe out of thin air and their stash of peanut butter and Kraft singles was an endless supply like some Biblical oil lamp or some crap like that. And it's not that your bro's sheer miasma of charisma and sly suavity didn't have people just constantly flinging themselves and their wallets at him—it's just that sometimes he was too cool to take the money, you know.
You were young and as-yet-unschooled in the Ways of Cool so he taught you a lot of important lessons, like that true coolness is an internal fucking miracle, and you can't chain that or twist its smooth alternative flows to be more "marketable." Cool doesn't ride on the back of others, either, so you know what's not cool? Making fun of other kids on the bus, that's what, so who even cares what people like that say. Cool people don't care. Stop with the waterworks, little dude, you're embarrassing me.
He was right about that, just like he was right about everything else. Even when you had money, eventually, it wasn't all that better going to the mall for a cut instead of getting draped with a smelly towel on the rickety chair in the middle of that bug-trodden cubicle the landlord called a living room. The low-rate mall barber didn't know shit about cool, and he didn't snip-snip-snip ill rhythms and brush the hair off your shoulders like they're turn tables.
And the barber was definitely not on Bro's level when it came to coiffure ambushes. The barber probably didn't even know that was a level, with his stupid kiosk and the flickery sign with the weird dark spots inside the translucent plastic, probably bug corpses. Naw, the barber was all upfront about that haircut shit, and ninja skills didn't factor into it. It was a monumental fucking letdown to go to the barber; you even considered that it was a form of torture, at the time, but of course your bro was just trying to show you the lay of the land and instill some major respect for his skills and attention. Did Bro take any other tow-headed rug-muppets under his wing? No, he didn't, so a little fucking gratitude was in the cards, too.
Because see, before the douchebag in the mall, this is how haircuts went down: you were blithely playing with your train-set, all innocent and stupid and shit, concentrating really hard because the wheels were all crooked and the track had been fixed with duct tape in a couple of places. Bro got the set at a garage sale because playing with shitty old toys instead of new shiny ones wins out on the basis of the nostalgia factor, even if you're too young to remember the stupid low-budget cartoon this merchandise is shilling for. If you slice open your little baby hands open on the sharp corner of some bent-in metal then that's an extra layer of irony.
That might sound harsh to some minivan mook or preppy PTA pissant but you're a monk of cool and you started your training early. Bro was the master and he was tough but he had your best interests in mind. He had you doing hipster calisthenics at five in the morning before your motherfucking fruit loops. That's some fortuitous training because these days you're laying down major destruction and sick time travel shenanigans on the daily like it ain't even a thang, and forget the fruit loops.
Yeah and part of that lifestyle, okay, because you were talking about Bro's ninja haircutting skills, here, was looking up from an especially tragic train wreck (little Lego men scattered everywhere, dude, legs completely severed from their rectangular torsos) to notice that you could actually see shit without brushing the bangs out of your eyes, probably because the bangs were now scattered over the wreckage like some really disturbing urban debris, and then—thwip-thwip-thwip—your neck was bare except for an excellently sculpted rat-tail, which was just enough out of fashion to be on the cusp of derisive greatness. Bro was just fucking around with that moldy towel shit the month before.
Looking back, the amazing part of ninja haircuts is that you spent the whole time snapping quick glances all around the room, all "hoshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit" with your pipsqueaky pipes while Bro was flying around glad-handing a samurai sword, and you have both your ears to this day. You like that; ears are helpful for laying down sicknasty beats on the turntable.
"i just want you to know that i really like both of my ears," you say. "i know some sad sacks have a good side but both of my sides are good. i enjoy my ears equally. and a lot."
"What are you trying to say?" Rose asks.
You wait half an hour for her to finish a snip. More like shiiiiiiiiiiiiirk, really.
"just don't think you can go cutting one of them off and i'll be cool with it," you say.
"Admittedly I am unpracticed in the art of cutting hair, but I am certain that I am not incompetent enough to accidentally sever a lobe."
Did she subtly emphasize 'accidentally?' You think she did. Those are some really fucking big scissors. The bastard in the mall just had these little pissant things and he still managed to hash things up, fuck his state-board certification.
Rose doesn't even have that, and you're pretty sure she's gonna make you look like a total dweeb, some teenybopper pageboy shit, though you did manage to talk her out of sticking a bowl on your head. She's still smirking about that, you bet. Whatever, Rose. You wouldn't be letting her do this if you had any choice. Because see, it turns out that despite your oodles of boondollars and the sweet couture fraymotif industry going on in your personal little awesome-land, hair isn't really a thing these creatures understand. Probably because it's flammable.
And Earth's out, okay; the nameless barber probably had a coronary years ago, the mall's just a smoldering wreckage and those bullshit kids on the bus are probably charred corpses, some straight-up Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru tableau, except you didn't even give them the satisfaction of standing there staring at them in the throes of a heroic grief-moment.
Shit no, you blasted off into space way before that to save the universe with your secret sister, though that universe-saving thing isn't looking so hot now and you are not really comfortable with that kissing scene from the second movie, before anyone knew they were twins, and yeah, you're gonna stop that comparison cold. Why are you even thinking of that lame-ass trilogy, anyway? And the dumbshittest character, too; everyone knows Han Solo is way higher than that weeping farm boy on the awesome scale. Imagining you're Luke Skywalker is the kind of stupid crap Egbert does.
Bro's a pretty good candidate for a badass Obi-Wan Kenobi parallel but you aren't even going to go there. What the fuck is up with mentors kicking the bucket in the first act anyway.
"Dave?" Rose is looking down at you—no, she's looking down at her fingertips, which are glistening. That's weird. Maybe it's some game shit. Maybe she's gonna spontaneously transform into a candy-pink raincloud, yeah, and you'll turn into a red-hot metal gear. That's on par for this stupid game.
Rose drags her thumb slowly across your cheekbone, right beneath the rim of your Ben Stiller sunglasses. She pulls it back and her thumb is wet all over: a shining stripe from nail right down to knuckle.
"hey," you say. "don't be getting girl slime all over my sweet shades. they were a gift."
"Oh, Dave," she says again, all dramatic and tremulous like this is one of her gay wizard fanfictions, and then she literally falls into your arms.
You don't know what the hell is going on—seriously, you weren't even aware that Rose had a facial expression other than 'detached amusement,' 'sly appraisal,' 'chilly insouciance,' and 'bitchface mcfurypants,' and here she is breaking out the wobbly lip—but you catch her, okay, and make sure she's not gonna fall off your lap onto her ass because you're a fucking gentleman. Probably the last one in existence.
She kisses you, then, and it feels like the movies make it look like. You're savvy enough to know—though not from personal experience—that kisses don't have soundtracks and there's a lot of cold spit and painful tooth-wrangling involved in the real deal, but this isn't like that. It's all warm and smooth like some ambient house remix.
You assume this is part of the fucked-up atmosphere in the Medium, kind of like how alchemitizing rocketpacks out of blue-raspberry Gushers seems totally normal now.
Rose seems way too confident about this whole thing. Not that you can't keep up, of course; you're a natural ladies' man, with the sexual prowess of a jungle cat (but not like, in a yiffy way, unless you're talking to Ja—)
Anyway you're so full of sicknasty sex skillz that they're oozing from your pores in the form of glistening man-juice.
You're pretty glad she's not using tongue, though.
You're totally gonna put your hands on her back or something and unhook her bra through her shirt, because that's a thing, right, but she pulls back so you just drop your arms. That's probably for the best. You guys aren't even in the backseat of a car. There's rules for how these things are supposed to go. If you could talk Rose into wearing a poodle skirt, that'd be the best. For the irony.
You curl your fingers around the cold metal rungs of the chair.
The chair's too tall for either of you to put your feet on the floor, but Rose is balanced chill as fuck on the thin, bony things that puberty stuck on you and, pointing and laughing, called 'knees.' There's a practiced feel to how she looks at you, and especially how she takes your chin in her palm and moves it back and forth, angling your mouth how she likes it. Input from you seems unnecessary.
You wonder what else she did to your dreamself, zonked out in front of your dream computer, before she hit you with that stupid ball of yarn.
"i know my bod is just too much for you to resist—"
"It's really cute how you deflect like that," she says.
"—but my hair looks pretty stupid like this, doesn't it, you know with just half—"
She leans in again and your mouth is still open when she makes contact, and you accidentally breathe into her mouth like a fucking dumbass, which wasn't even a thing you were aware could happen. You are really making great strides for humanity today. That's why they call you Strider.
Rose jerks back, probably feeling like she blew up a balloon too big and then accidentally loosened her fingers on the puckered-up nozzle part of it and choked on a mouthful of rubbery secondhand air flecked with spittle. For shizzle.
Wow you really are the best at kissing girls. Your bro would be so proud.
She's wavering into your vicinity again—like wow, Rose, you honestly thought she was smarter than that—and you jostle your legs, suddenly. It's not like you're trying to throw her off, they're just falling asleep and you hate that pins-and-needles thing, man. It's the fucking worst.
Rose doesn't fall. She rides you like a bronco, yeah, a cool studmuffin of bucking man-meat. The blades of the scissors dig coldly into the bone of your elbow.
"i understand that just being in my presence is too much for the ladies to handle, but please, get a hold of yourself," you say. You're gonna let her down easy. Girl is making a fool of herself slobbering all over your fine personage like this.
Rose tilts her head to the side, and even without the benefit of the last few weeks rolling in meatspace together you are suddenly sure that she does the head-tilting thing every time she gets into psycho-therapy mode. Which is like all the time, so it's a miracle she's not walking sideways at this point.
"I miss them too," she says. "I miss everything."
You look at the curl of hair jutting out from under her ear instead of at her eyes. This would've been way easier back when she was just purple text and not. You know. Pretty. And your sister.
Fuck, you are Lame Skidmarker, Wet-Eye Sadawan. The only viable option left to you now is to fall on your sword, except that's too badass for your limpwristed fuckface self so you should grab Rose's scissors and fall on those instead.
"seriously," you say after the silence drags out for like two and a half millennia. "i can't be laying the smack-down with a raggedy-ass haircut."
She smiles, and you know she's about to come into range again, and the sound that comes out of your mouth is probably the most horrible and pathetic thing you've ever heard. Like really it would make lonely puppies shake their heads from secondhand embarrassment.
You're really glad it makes her stop.
She lets go of your chin and holds it up her hand so the both of you can see the shameful glisten of your wussy little boy-tears all over it. Her breath is cold against your stupid wet face. This is the greatest moment of your life and you are not at all a quivering failure. Congratulations.
"I think we've made some excellent progress today," she says.
"fuck you, lalonde."
She jumps down from your lap, not in the kinda awkward and potentially painful way that a normal person would do it, but svelte and shit like maybe she used magic. Which makes sense, you guess, since she and your bro are cut from the same cloth.
She stands behind you again with her big-ass scissors and finishes cutting your fucking hair.
And that's all there is to say on the matter.