The Four Times Michael Almost Called Mia from Tokyo, and Once He Decided Not to Call in New York
“You might be better off without her.”
Michael Moscovitz feels his jaw actually go slack, like in the movies, at Ingrid’s words. “What?”
Ingrid shrugs, carefully examining the electrical circuitry in her hands. She’s Michael’s first-ever intern, which is pretty funny considering she’s about five years older than he is, has three degrees to his one incomplete Bachelor’s, and she’s so freckled that it seems like more of her skin is nutmeg brown than pale.
“I just think you might be better off living your own life,” she says. Her eyes are a little more pitying than Michael would prefer when she looks up at him. “Look at where you are. You should be having the time of your life.”
Michael knows it’s true – he’s nineteen, in Tokyo, and the leader of a research team with a multimillion-dollar endowment grant.
Somehow, he thinks he’d rather be building a house in the Appalachians or totally-not-sliding-in-his-socks down the hall of the Palais du Genovia or eating cold sesame noodles at Number One Noodle Son.
He glances at the clock. 10:45 in New York. He has fifteen minutes to call, if he’s going to.
That’s the first time Michael has sex with Ingrid.
Mia never knows it, but His Highness Philippe Renaldo, by the Grace of God, of the Monarchy of Genovia, Head of the Commonwealth, and Michael Moscovitz, Columbia University dropout and founder-slash-lead researcher at Pavlov Surgical, have a pretty good back-and-forth, actually. They’re the two people in the world who care about Mia most, even if maybe Philippe doesn’t pay enough attention to her – Michael pays perhaps too much, so it all balances out.
So Michael’s pretty surprised when he’s talking to Philippe about the whole parking meter thing – because really, that was so much worse than they let on to Mia; really, it was literally an international incident – and the Prince says,
“You two really might be better off, taking this time apart.”
Michael swallows, and he remembers what Mia always said about overseas phonecalls and how she felt like the fish were listening in. “Is this about Abernathy?”
“No,” Philippe says, and Michael can hear the ice in some cocktail clinking five thousand miles away. “And it’s not about my mother’s ideas about consorts, either. It’s about that you are a grown man, and Mia is a teenage girl. She needs to grow up, Michael.”
Michael sighs. It’s true.
Lilly is, as usual, completely tactless. “You’re better off without her.”
Michael snorts derisively and gets dashi up his nose for the trouble. “Lilly, you traded exes. You can’t keep being mad at her for nothing.”
And of course he only said it so Lilly will get distracted by her own petty rage and he can set the phone down on the counter while he finishes seasoning his soup without missing anything. Soba. Scallion. Menma, fermented bamboo shoots. Soft-boiled egg. Wilted spinach, crispy seaweed. Glistening slices of pork from that place up the street with the cute girl –
“And anyway, she’s going to Prom with him, and you know what that means in absurd delusional Mia-land,” Lilly is spitting through the phone, and Michael puts it back to his ear.
“Wait, Prom, what?”
“Yeah, JP’s been telling everyone about how he’s going to punch the royal v-card on Prom night,” Lilly rants, because Lilly is always ranting. “And she’s just floating around on her little cloud, refusing to see that he’s using her. Seriously, you’re better off without her.”
Michael had kind of thought he’d have been her only Prom date. Just, you know. Because.
He’s not hungry anymore.
Michael Moscovitz is one of the brightest inventors and youngest CEOs in the world, but he’s still only a twenty-year-old man, and there’s a lot about the business world he doesn’t know.
What, exactly, can be written off as a work expense is one of those nuances that he somehow missed while learning about ethics. He doesn’t really think the Happy Goodtime Hostess Club should count? But he’s not really in charge of this meeting anyway, even though it’s his CardioArm and his no-I-won’t-let-you-dilute-Ingrid’s-or-Midori’s-shares-I’m-not-Zuckerberg stock options they’re toasting.
One of the girls onstage is wearing a ridiculous tiara and not really anything else, and one of the potbellied tycoons leans over to Michael and slurs, “Didn’you used to plough that Princess? That blonde one, the hot one?”
And Michael’s a little drunk, and he doesn’t really feel like getting into the particulars, and he’s just… tired. So he nods.
The tycoons think it’s totally hilarious when they buy him the tiara girl and a red-lit back room. Michael doesn’t think it’s hilarious, and he throws up a little bit – it’s basically pure sakē at that point – after she blows him.
He wakes up with his phone in his hand and Mia’s number lit up on the screen, and it’s all he can do to hope he didn’t call.
She’s better off without him.
Okay, so he’s way too old and way too successful and way too grown up to be thinking about the fact that it’s Senior Prom Night at Albert Einstein High School.
But he is. He is because that JP Reynolds Abernathy IV, otherwise known as The Guy Who Hates It When They Put Corn in the (fucking) Chili, is taking Mia to the dance and got a hotel room for afterwards and Michael knows what Prom means to Mia and he knows that she can’t possibly know about JP and Lilly because she’d have dumped him, too.
Wouldn’t she? It’s why she dumped him. The virgin thing. Or more accurately, the not-a thing.
She deserves to know. She deserves to know she’s being lied to. He can just call, and tell her, and –
Well, that won’t cut it. Michael slips his phone into his pocket and puts his suit on and sprints down the steps of his parents’ building, hails the taxi, feeds his card to the meter –
At the last second, he dashes back upstairs to get a little jewelry box. Hey, it worked once.