Newt found Tendo facedown at the table in the mess, perilously close to suffocating himself in his food. Alarmed at first, he set his own tray down and shook Tendo’s shoulder.
“Hey. Hey! You okay? What happened?”
“Leave me alone, Newt.”
Newt instead sat right down beside him, looking around the mess for help. Everyone seemed busy at the moment, either with their own food or their own conversations.
“What happened?” Newt asked again. “C’mon, dude, look at me. Are you sick? You can throw up, no one’ll care.”
“I am not going to throw up,” Tendo snapped, sitting up and glaring at Newt. He paused after a moment, his expression collapsing. “No. No, I think I actually may throw up.”
He certainly looked sick. Newt awkwardly patted his shoulder, wondering how far he could help Tendo along to the medical bay before his less-than-stellar upper body strength gave out and he had to call in Mako or Raleigh to help out. Tendo suddenly grabbed him by the collar and Newt cringed.
“Dude, I didn’t mean to puke on me, okay?”
“You gotta help me.”
Tendo sounded so desperate Newt couldn’t help but stare at him. Tendo Choi, who could keep his cool in the middle of a hurricane and come out of it again calm and collected, looked like he was about to have a panic attack. It was as though the very mechanics of the universe had shifted.
“O…kay? I mean, I can try?”
Tendo dug a balled-up note and a tiny plastic baggie out of his pocket and slid it to Newt.
Puzzled, Newt gave the baggie a look as he uncrumpled the note. It was full of some kind of off-white powder, finer than sand. He cleared his throat as he read aloud.
“Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s…uh.”
Tendo buried his face in his hands.
“Here’s four ounces of kaiju bone powder, pick me up at seven.”
Tendo made an odd strangled sound, hunching his shoulders.
“So…um. What is that? Iambic pentameter?”
“This isn’t funny, Newt!” Tendo hissed, looking up at him sharply. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
“It could be a joke!” Newt said, holding his hands up defensively. “It’s not even signed!”
“I know who it’s from,” Tendo retorted. The sick expression came back and he lost the will to hold himself up, head thudding forlornly against the table. “God help me, what the hell does she even want?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Newt said, picking the baggie up gingerly. “I guess it’s…a little…flattering?”
Tendo glared at him so fiercely he shrank a bit.
“Hey, I never said I was going to be any help. I said I’d try.”
“So start trying! What the everliving Christ am I supposed to do? She’s courting me with DRUGS, Newt!”
Conversation stuttered around them as people started glancing over to their table, and Newt waved at them awkwardly.
“Well, first of all I wouldn’t shout the ‘drugs’ thing so loudly,” he said to Tendo in an undertone. “Maybe you could write her back?”
“I’m not gonna start passing notes like we’re in high school. She is a psychotic. I am not okay with this.”
“Establish boundaries, dude,” Newt said reasonably. “She’ll back off once she realizes she’s just being creepy.”
“I think she enjoys being creepy,” Tendo groaned. “This is insane. I don’t want to be flirted at by the kaiju mafia. This is insane.”
“So are you…gonna go? Pick her up I mean?”
“I would rather walk barefoot through broken glass.”
Newt cleared his throat awkwardly, pushing the note and baggie back towards Tendo.
“Look, I’m really sorry,” he said. “But I’ve got nothin’ I can think of to help you. Bite the bullet and tell her to back off.”
“Think it’ll be that easy?”
“Sure! Or…y’know, you might…actually get shot. Exactly how into you is she?”
Tendo thumped his head against the table as though slowly trying to give himself a concussion.
“I think she’s preying on me. The woman’s a human cobra.”
Newt whistled, giving Tendo’s shoulder another awkward pat.
“Maybe wait it out until she tries to bribe you with a car?”
Tendo made a muffled noise, burying his head under his arms.