Today had been a pretty good day as far as cleaning goes. Nik and Opal were able to get three units this morning, and had made a pretty good profit off of them at the afternoon auction. It was a lot quicker to turn around units with two people. They didn’t even need to go to the night auction, although Nik had suggested it.
“Come on!” Opal whined, walking down a street lined with shops and neon lights. “We did great today, don’t you ever take a night off?”
Nik stared at her blankly. “No.”
“Jeez, don’t you ever have fun?”
“Why would I have fun when I could be making money?” Nik said, a little offended.
Opal threw her hands in the air, exasperated.
“Because what’s the point of being alive if you’re not actually living! Isn’t there anything you like to do that doesn’t involve making a profit?”
“No,” Nik said flatly, crossing his arms. Opal rolled her eyes and looked around. Soon she spotted an arcade, it’s flashing neon signs screaming for her to go inside.
“There!” she exclaimed, pointing to it. “I bet even you can have fun there.”
“An arcade?” Nik scoffed. “Those are for children with too much pocket money.”
“Come on, you can spare a couple bucks! Please?” she begged, even clasping her hands together and giving him her best pleading look.
Nik shot her a glare, but a few moments later he huffed and rolled his eyes.
“You’re not going to accept a no as an answer, are you?”
“Nope,” Opal grinned, knowing she had won. She gently grabbed his left arm and tugged him towards the arcade. “It’ll be fun, I promise!”
Nik scoffed, but let himself be pulled by her. Opal knew he could have stopped her if he wanted, so she took that as a green light.
“I bet you’re just afraid to lose against me in a game of Alien Nightmare Invasion,” Opal challenged.
“I don’t even know what that is…” Nik muttered. “But you’re on.”
Opal smiled, pulling him over to a large console that had a projection of a cybernetic alien clawing down at passerby’s. This was a shooting game, something she knew even Nik would be able to appreciate. They weren’t real guns, so she felt she actually had a good chance of getting a higher score than him.
She didn’t, and lost terribly. Nik somehow even managed to make the new high score for the entire game.
“I thought you never played this before!” Opal whined.
“I haven’t, you’re just bad a video games,” Nik smirked.
At least he seemed to be enjoying himself, Opal thought. It was always nice to see a rare genuine smile on his face.
“How about this one?” Nik offered, pointing to a kiddie game meant for toddlers. “That seems more your speed.”
Opal gaped at him. Was he seriously insulting her?
“Oh it’s on, I am definitely going to beat you at the next game!”
“You can try,” Nik said slyly.
And to her credit, she did try. They had played almost every game in the arcade, except for the dancing one because Nik had refused. He had defeated her at every two player game in the building. She tried to blame it on her dragon’s curse, but Nik didn’t buy it. Still, it was fun. Opal couldn’t remember the last time she enjoyed herself so much doing something that wasn’t cleaning. She had a feeling Nik wouldn’t be able to either.
They were walking by a row a single player games when Opal gasped suddenly.
“What?” Nik asked, slightly startled.
“I haven’t played this game in years!” she shouted, rushing over to it. It was an old fly and shoot game, with a toggle on the left side, a spinner on the right, and a bunch of buttons in the middle. It was complicated, but that’s why Opal had liked it.
“I used to have the high score on this at the arcade near campus,” she told him, eyes bright. Finally, a game she was good at. And it was single player, so Nik couldn’t play against her.
“Watch,” she told him smuggly, paying the credits.
Nik looked over her shoulder as she played, but there was a problem. It appeared Opal actually sucked at this game.
“Aw man,” she whined. “I told you it’s my curse!”
Nik inserted more credits, reaching around her to grab the toggle and spinner.
“Here,” he said. “I’ll control the ship, you shoot at the enemies.”
Opal barely heard him even though he was talking right into her ear. She was currently trying very hard to not freak out about how he was practically pressed up against her back. She swallowed hard and nodded, turning her focus to the game that was about to start.
With Nik’s help, they were actually able to beat all the levels. Opal had loosened up, and had even been verbally coaching and exclaiming throughout the game.
“We did it!” she shouted excitedly when the “New High Score!” message popped up. She used the keys to type out “N+O” for the name.
“No?” Nik asked, confused.
“For Nik and Opal,” she explained. “Since you helped me and all.”
Nik just hummed in response.
“Thanks, by the w—” she trailed off when she turned her head to look at him. Nik’s face was much closer to her’s than she realized.
“No problem,” Nik said softly, looking down at her. “It was...fun.”
His eyes darted down to her lips, and she did the same to his, before quickly looking back up to each other’s eyes. Opal parted her lips slightly, not sure of what to say or do. They were so close, Nik’s body was flush against her back and his arms were still around her on the console. He looked at her lips again, and her body felt like it was on fire. He started to lean towards her and she had nearly closed her eyes in anticipation when suddenly someone spoke.
“So the rumors are true, you two really are together.”
It made both of them jump away from each other. Startled and puzzled, they looked over to see where the voice came from. Opal’s stomach dropped and she felt all the heat in her body rush to her face.
It was DeSantos.
“We’re working together, yes,” Opal said awkwardly.
“What’s it to you?” Nik added, annoyed.
“I just never would have expected you two to…” DeSantos grinned knowingly, “work together.”
Opal didn’t like this, DeSantos was the type of guy to use anything and everything against you just for fun. So she tried to change to subject.
“What are you even doing here?” she asked. “Doesn’t seem like your type of place.”
“Oh, but I own it, honey,” DeSantos said sweetly with a wink.
Nik growled and put his hand on Opal’s lower back, leading her towards the exit.
“Now we know to never come back,” Nik grumbled.
“Aw, don’t be like that,” DeSantos cooed. “Don’t let me ruin your date night.”
Opal didn’t even have time to retort because Nik was already pushing her out the door.
“I can’t stand that guy,” Nik growled. “And now that he knows we’re working together, I bet he’s going to try and bid us up every chance he gets.”
Everything happened so fast that it took Opal a few moments to realize Nik still had his hand on her lower back as they walked towards where he had parked his car.
“Guess we’re gonna have to find a new arcade to go to,” she joked.
Nik’s grey eyes shot towards her, and Opal worried that she had said something wrong.
“Yeah,” Nik said, a few moments later. “I guess we will.”
Opal smiled to herself, turning Sybil back on so she could search for arcades in the area.
“I’m not even going to bother chastising you,” Sybil said, her recorded voice slightly annoyed. “If you hadn’t muted me I could have told you DiSantos owned that place.”
Opal didn’t say anything. She was still grinning like a fool, excited at the idea of her and Nik going to an arcade again.
“And are we even going to talk about whatever that was?” Sybil asked pointedly.
Nope, Opal thought at her quickly. She knew what Sybil was referencing to. It made her cheeks burn just thinking about it.
“I, uh, had fun tonight,” Opal said awkwardly. She felt like a silly teenager again after a first date. Not that she had many second dates. And definitely not like this was even a date at all. They were just business partners.
“Yeah, me too,” Nik said, not meeting her eyes.
They walked the rest of the distance to his car in silence. When they got seated inside he finally turned to look at her.
“Did you want me to take you home?” Nik asked. “Or...did you want to come over for dinner?”
She blinked at him in a slight shock. Why was her heart beating so fast? She’d eaten at Nik’s before. He was probably hungry and she knew how much he resented eating out.
“Or I can just take you home,” Nik said quickly, trying to backtrack.
Opal shook her head quickly and smiled at him.
“Dinner sounds great.”
Nik just nodded and focused on backing out of the parking lot. But even in the darkness lit only by neon lights, Opal could see the red on the tips of his ears and the small smile on his face.
Man, was she in trouble.