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Lunch Date

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YT's got some time between deliveries, so she calls up Hiro and lays it down: she's hungry and bored and Roadkill's unavailable on account of some sort of crazed Mexicali family holiday down in Tijuana, so hey. Lunch?

On the other end of the line Hiro's quiet for a second. YT hears some noises in the background, cozy domestic noises like somebody's cigarette cough and the clink of a glass bottle rolling around.

"You occupied, pod?" she asks.

Hiro has to take just a few private moments to communicate with some other party, clearly, so YT turns down the volume on her phone and lets her smartwheels drift her like a gentle snowflake into the lot of a Kim-Lee-Pak Delicious House. She parks her ass on a minivan and waits for the drama to subside. The whole lot smells like kimchi.

She's fucking hungry, dammit. Hiro's just being so ungracious right now, so unthoughtful. This is totally a man thing that he is doing. But eventually he comes back on the line and he sounds suitably contrite, so that's all right.

"Sorry about that," he says. "Roommate thing, you know how it is."

YT hath no roommate, but she lets it slide anyway. "So we having lunch or what? There's this sushi joint on Eighth and Walter. They got the river thing, you know, boats?"

"Kaiten-zushi."

"Whatever, sushi river. You coming?"

There is another silence, the persistence of which YT quickly tires. Hiro is a man of few words today, and time is of the essence--YT has things to do, and even if she doesn't have things to do right now she can't go around giving the impression that her time is not valuable.

"Pod?"

"Yeah, well, about that..."

Suddenly YT grasps the nature of Hiro's reluctance: the man is stone broke. Bereft of liquid assets. This is not unusual for him.

"I'm paying," she says, in a fit of magnamity.

"I'll meet you there in ten minutes," says Hiro, and hangs up before YT can even tell him the name of the place. But he's a hacker, he'll figure it out. She gets back on the road.

***

Hiro's waiting for her by the sushi flume when she gets there. He looks up at her coming in and does this little jaunty wave-thing with two fingers. She thinks it's cute.

"S'up?" she asks, plopping down next to him.

"Ordered us some tea," he says, all slouched back in his chair like he's content to watch the parade of maki and nigiri all week.

YT is a growing girl and all, so she doesn't wait for the tea or for Hiro, she just goes right ahead and defoliates the conveyor belt of anything that looks like it hasn't been on there for three hours. The salmon's all the cheap farmed stuff, which means that essentially it is soy. She goes for the eel instead. Hiro, next to her, is clearly a tuna man. YT concludes that there is totally a sexual metaphor being perpetrated.

Which is fine with her. She's paying, which means Hiro has to put out. He's her kept man now.

Eventually they're both just sitting in front of stacks of tiny rectangular plates and drinking the tea and Hiro is fucking with the wasabi paste and soy sauce in a little dish like he's discovering deeply cosmic fractal patterns in there or something. He hasn't said much so far: now that she's not blinded by hunger, YT can see that her partner is kinda haggard-looking. Tense.

"The hell," she says to him.

"Something like that," says Hiro, which sounds like it would be a much more meaningful statement if YT was operating from the same base of knowledge Hiro is, which she isn't, which is unfair.

"So what gives? Are we partners or what?"

"We're partners," Hiro confirms, his face warming up a little bit, and YT beams in return while Imaginary Hiro discharges his lunch debt to Imaginary YT in the back of her head. It's pretty hot.

"So?"

"So, my ex-girlfriend is going to hell. Possibly ex. Definitely going to hell. Metaphorically speaking." Hiro rubs his eyes like they're tired.

"Suck," says YT with vast sympathy, like Hiro's little romantic and metaphysical crisis is something that she totally cares about.

"Yeah. The rest is pretty academic."

The waitress decides that this tender moment is the best possible one to bring up the little matter of YT's institutional obligation to Foody Goody Sushi, LLC. So she does the card thing and is all magnanimous about it when Hiro has the grace to look a little embarrassed. He's a sweet guy, he really is. She's really looking forward to the next half hour or so.

***

Hiro's a little surprised when YT follows him out into the lot instead of zipping off like she usually does. It must be a slow day at Kourier HQ. He's not in much of a hurry himself.

Vitaly's van is way out on the other side of the lot. Hiro could probably have walked here, it's just a couple of miles from home, but he's kind of pissed off at Vitaly right now so he's got the van and Vitaly's back at the U-Stor-It probably drinking the last couple bottles of Hiro's fancy Seattle beer. It is a prime example of their respective methods for dealing with professional stress.

But that's not really important. The Juanita thing is important, and to a lesser degree the YT thing is important, but this is mainly because she has parked herself directly in front of the driver's side door.

"YT wants a ride," she says.

He is noting a rather higher degree of insouciance about her, compared to baseline YT levels. There is also the matter of the perfectly functional MagnaPoon dangling from her left hand. Hiro distills a little fact from the vapor of nuance. Juanita would be proud. Juanita's other thoughts on his dealings with YT are not really something he feels comfy about speculating on at the moment. He can imagine her smiling that smile: the smile which actually means that he's being a real jerk.

Inwardly he sighs, and pulls his thoughts back to the real world. YT is smiling at him too, in a way that pretty much confirms his suspicions about what she has in mind. This is in all likelihood where he and YT have to have an awkward relationship moment. For a given value of relationship, anyway, one which does not include Hiro fucking fourteen-year-olds. That's very important.

"You have your poon," he points out sagely. He ignores the blatant euphemisms involved in all this riding and pooning and so on, what with being all adult and responsible and everything.

She shifts her weight against the door, leaving a smear of white where the grime comes off on the butt her coverall. "It's not the same," she says. "Come on, pod, we're partners. And you owe me for lunch."

Hiro doesn't offer her any encouragement and stands there in what he'll freely admit is a kind of lame way, just holding his keys. Or Vitaly's keys; whatever. He waits for her to finish. It takes a while.

"Are you in some kind of hurry?"

"Look, it's majorly stale of you to just stand there. Open the door."

"I know where you live, man. You want to avoid that place as long as possible."

"You said ex, you know. That means she can't get pissed at you."

Hiro is a rock against which YT's sensual blandishments batter without effect. Eventually she loses momentum.

"This is getting really insulting, pod," she concludes, scratching her nose.

Hiro figures this means he's off the hook, or close enough ."Look," he says, nudging her aside to get at the lock on the door. "After all this is done, if I'm not a babbling vegetable, I'll pay you back. Double. Whatever you want."

"Why wait?" YT asks him, but she's already stepping away from the vehicle, it's just a formality at this point.

"It's complicated," Hiro says as he hauls the door open and climbs in, which seems the most efficient way to describe the whole thing: Juanita, Da5id, Lagos, Snow Crash, L. Bob Rife, YT's sushi debt. All of these things, singly and in concert, are complicated. He starts the engine.

Through the driver's-side window he sees YT adjusting something on her poon, looking crestfallen. He just crushed her hopes and dreams of a little entertainment on her lunch break and stranded her here until somebody else finishes loading up on spicy tuna and pulls out. He's not guilty about turning her down, but he's not a complete asshole. He cranks down the window.

"Where to?" he asks.

YT looks up from her poon, much more chipper suddenly. "I-5," she says. She gets a cheeky look again, announces "I was going to poon you anyway, pod," and hops on her board to peel around and manually plant the business end of it right on the back door. There's a good solid thunk: she is properly affixed to him now.

Slowly, he eases the van out into traffic. He heads for the freeway.