22 August 2010 @ 12:29 pm
[fic] Extended Recess's Extended Universe  
Title: A Perfectly Good Waste of Italian Leather
Characters/Groups: Nakamaru, Nino, various (and brief) JE cameos
Genre: AU Crack, Gen
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: See 'characters', 'genre', and 'rating'
Author's Notes: So... [livejournal.com profile] katmillia wrote this crazy-hilarious, utterly epic fic called MTV Road Rules: Across America in 15 Days. For her birthday earlier this month, I wrote a sort of insert fic for this universe. If you haven't read the original, this fic probably won't make a ton of sense being that it's AU and all. So do yourself a favor and go read the original first (if JE is your fandom, of course).
Summary: When the show makes a stop in Oklahoma, there is absolutely no way it can turn out well for Maru. Nino, of course, does nothing to help matters.

A Perfectly Good Waste of Italian Leather

When it came down to it, he really wasn’t sure why he’d felt so relieved that the challenge posed to their ragtag group of D-list mental cases and misfits at what was possibly the shadiest bar this side of Tulsa wasn’t a drinking challenge. By then, Nakamaru should have known that nothing good would come from any sort of pit stop that wasn’t at a cheap motel just off the interstate, and even that was chancy. His showmates, being the particular brand of insane that they were, had a frustrating tendency to ruin the only decent vending machine in a five mile radius (he had really wanted that Kit-Kat bar, damn it!).

Apparently, though, his memory was becoming increasingly more selective throughout this cross-country trip from hell. Either that, or it was some sort of latent, evolved protection mechanism that was trying to shield him from the overwhelming maelstrom of idiocy that currently was his life. Whatever the answer to that mystery, Maru felt his stomach sink to somewhere around his perfectly pressed argyle socks as soon as he saw it.

A mechanical bull.

It was undoubtedly unjust to bovines everywhere to call the contraption that clearly was the bar’s centerpiece and crowning glory a ‘bull’, but to Maru it looked every inch as threatening and potentially deadly as the real thing. And there was Asami and all those damned cameramen, hovering around the machine like it was no big deal. Just once, Maru would have liked to see them get out from behind the safety of their cameras and demonstrate the tasks they would later record. Perhaps then he would stop seeing the smug little smiles on their faces every time he was made to look like an idiot for the sake of getting his name out and acquiring a not-insubstantial salary cushion. That short one with the beanie and the grating voice would have looked wonderful half-drowned in a cardboard boat with clumps of algae sticking out of his beloved hat…

A dull metallic clank rang out as Asami smacked what was most likely the flank of the mechanical bull, an angelically devious smile gracing her features. It was at that point that Maru realized he hadn’t been listening to a thing their magnanimous hostess, guide, and slave driver had been saying. He tuned back in just in time to catch that they wouldn’t be competing on the mechanical bull until there were more people around.

An audience. Great. Insult, say hello to Injury and try not to cause too much trouble. Maru’s toes fidgeted nervously inside his Italian leather shoes as he tried very hard not to be sick all over them.

Asami had said this all with a very pleasant smile on her face, of course. She might as well have been commenting on the day’s weather for all that she looked to be bothered by the prospect of spending her night in a seedy hick bar in front of a mechanical bull with what was possibly the worst company for which a person could ever ask. Ever.

Himself not included, obviously.

Their group was beginning to disperse now that Asami was making little frustratingly condescending ‘shoo’ motions with her hands. Maru frowned, his mouth scrunching up to the side as he contemplated his options. At the bar, Jin the Vending Machine Slayer was already making his way through a row of shots. Maru had no desire to partake in a similar activity at that very moment; the mere thought of that much cheap alcohol on a mostly empty stomach was enough to almost make him gag.

The problem was there didn’t seem to be any other options available. The smell of something fried wafted from the small back room that probably only passed as a kitchen so long as the health inspector who visited it was blind and easily confused. Maru’s stomach roiled unpleasantly while visions of himself hurling as he flew off the mechanical bull in front of a bunch of jeering old men in never-washed overalls flashed through his mind. Okay, so bar food was out. Racking his brain, Maru tried to remember if there was anything noteworthy the bus had passed before pulling up at the cowboy bar. All he could remember, though, was more barbed wire than he’d ever seen in his life. This would have been useful if he wanted to try putting an early (albeit painful and drawn-out) end to his misery; however, Maru wasn’t nearly that desperate yet.

That wasn’t to say he wasn’t getting close.

His frown deepened. It looked like the bar was his only choice. A bar populated by stools with permanent ass-indents in the padding, notches that looked disturbingly like they’d been made with knives far too large to be legal, and a bartender who was missing one of his front teeth. Said bartender happened to catch Maru staring at him and gave him the most unfriendly once-over the young man had ever received, pausing an extra moment to smirk at Maru’s obviously out-of-place argyle cardigan and toe-pinching leather shoes.

An involuntary shiver raced up his back and he fervently wished – not for the first time and certainly not for the last – that he was back home at his favorite bar filled with people who, among other things, actually served more than just ‘red’ and ‘white’ wine. A healthier appreciation of his fashion sense would also be more than welcome.

With one more glance at the machine that would undoubtedly be the death of him in a few short hours, Maru started making his way to the end of the bar. He chose to sit as far away from the decidedly not-sober Jin as possible; the other man was surrounded by a small throng of empty shot glasses and doing what could only be finger-strengthening exercises. It was entirely possible that madness such as that was catching, and Maru wanted none of it. Or rather, he didn’t want to catch any more of it than he already had done.

Maru’s feet stuck unpleasantly to the floor as he walked, his prized shoes making a sound like the ripping off of giant Band-Aids every time he moved. The image of the decades’ worth of slopped alcohol that coated the floor eating away at the soles of his shoes flashed briefly before his eyes and he felt the beginnings of a laugh building in his chest. The bar was an absolute dive, but surely such a thing wasn’t possible. Not unless people at this bar actually did shots of drain cleaner instead of tequila (which wouldn’t surprise him if it were true, he decided, after a quick glance at the more hardcore bar-goers that were already present).

His laugh abruptly died in his throat when he looked behind him and saw little thin patches of leather sticking to the floor behind him. A horrified glance at the sole of one of the shoes confirmed that noticeable patches were missing.

If he wasn’t a successful entrepreneur and grown man, he would have broken down and cried right there on the spot. MTV could have his sanity, his free will, even the rights to every awkward moment he had during all of his waking hours for two weeks and a day, but his shoes were the last straw. Good (or whatever passed for ‘good’ at outlet malls) Italian leather did not deserve to meet its demise at some no-name bar in rural Oklahoma! But no matter how tempted he was to have an emotional meltdown that would undoubtedly fuel Entertainment Tonight’s news segment for at least five minutes, he was a grown man. Then again, being on this god-forsaken show meant that he wasn’t exactly what society would deem ‘successful’…

In the end, Maru compromised on a strangled sob and made a beeline for the stool nearest the wall. There, he quickly planted his feet on the lowest rung of the stool far, far away from the shoe-eating linoleum.

---------


It shouldn’t have been possible, but the mechanical bull was actually worse than Maru anticipated: three morbidly painful seconds of being whipped around by the evilest machine ever created by mankind followed by an awkward split second flight and a landing that was intercepted by a railing that nailed him across his kidneys. And when all of this was over, there was the flock of women wearing too much make-up and shirts a size too small giggling at him and throwing platitudes like, “Better luck next time, honey,” in his direction with a wink and a supposedly-charming flash of crooked teeth.

Even as he managed to pick himself up off of the floor, the giggling continued. One woman wearing particularly noxious perfume slapped him none too gently on his shoulder and accompanied it with a, “Cheer up, bucko.” Still a little dazed from the throw-down, Maru’s knees buckled and he reeled into the railing a second time. His vision blacked for a split second while he stumbled upright once more. Thankfully, the ringing in his ears blocked out the embarrassing tittering of giggles that erupted from the women around him.

The bruise that would be sure to appear on his jaw was going to be spectacular, Maru thought as he wished the floor would open up around him and swallow him whole.

---------


How he ended up back at his stool at the end of the bar, he wasn’t sure. For a few short but significant moments after exiting the mechanical bull arena, Maru considered leaving the bar and impaling himself on the miles of barbed wire outside. Apparently, though, some sort of self-preservation mechanism had overridden that train of thought and he’d simply returned to his corner of shame.

By this point in the evening, Maru was unsurprised to find that he was no longer alone. Next to what at some point over the course of the evening had unofficially become his seat, Ninomiya was utterly focused on his hand-held game. He was completely oblivious to the rowdy crowd as well as Maru, even as the latter groaned loudly while sliding back into his stool. Nino’s thumbs simply kept smashing the controls as fast as they could. All the while, the guy mumbled things that seemed vaguely disturbing; Maru occasionally caught words like ‘slaughter’, ‘massacre’, and ‘bitch-whore Lavos’. He quickly decided that distracting the young man from his task would undoubtedly have negative repercussions to his own well-being, even more so than what he’d incurred from his time with the mechanical bull.

Absently, he rubbed his jaw and immediately wished he hadn’t – the pain that shot up the side of his skull made his eyes water. His back ached as he shifted on his stool; the unfocused soreness would undoubtedly turn hellish come morning. To round it off, his partially-ruined shoes still pinched his toes unpleasantly. With the sigh of a long-suffering soul, Maru felt in his pocket for his wallet.

He really wasn’t much of a drinker (and he had the lack of tolerance to prove it), but damn it all, he was in a bar in the middle of Oklahoma and had just had his ass handed to him by a mechanical bull in front of cameras that would eventually broadcast the footage nationally. His companions were all varying degrees of insane, and it honestly seemed as if one wrong move would induce the man next to him to give up murdering game characters and move on to real people. On top of it all, his back was going to be sore for a week, if he could ever use his jaw properly again it would probably be a miracle, and his new shoes would be heading for the garbage as soon as this bar adventure was over. If ever there was a time that a man needed a drink, now was that time.

Maru pulled out a five and was just trying to get the bartender’s attention so he could get a glass of whatever passed for red wine in this part of the world when what could only be described as an animalistic howl of pure rage nearly caused him to fall off his stool.

Next to him, Nino slammed his fist into the bar, his thin shoulders heaving as anger radiated off of him in dense, choking waves.

“DAMN YOU, BATTERIES!” he cursed vehemently enough to draw the gaze of more than a few of the bar’s regulars, along with one of the show’s cameras. “I was so close… you were almost dead… victory was mine, I could taste it…”

Maru watched for a few moments as the man next to him seethed, his knuckles turning white as he gripped his hand-held game so tightly Maru was surprised it didn’t snap in two.

“Buy you a drink?”

Nino looked over sharply, transferring his hair-raising glare from his game console to Maru. Some primal part of Maru’s brain informed him that he really should be fleeing right now post haste, but his muscles couldn’t be induced to move anywhere just then, let alone move quickly. Through the chaos of his internal stalemate, Maru somehow realized that his mouth had decided that what the enraged man next to him needed most at that moment was alcohol.

He’d made smarter decisions during his first rush week at university, but perhaps when he’d gone flying off the mechanical bull he’d managed to damage more than just his pride and his kidneys.

Maru swallowed heavily (not a gulp – he may have lost whatever dignity he had left on that bar’s death contraption but he did not gulp) as Nino held him fixed in a narrow-eyed glare. He was just beginning to wonder if Nino, like certain species of animals, could smell fear when the other man abruptly turned to the bartender.

“Oy! Two shots of your cheapest tequila, over here! And keep ‘em coming while you’re at it.”

He then proceeded to grab Maru’s wallet from his hand and pass the bartender a twenty. The five Maru had been planning on using for wine sat uselessly in his hand as he stared slack-jawed at Nino, who was continued to rifle through the wallet as if it were his own. He was going through Maru’s old drivers licenses (yes, he still hung onto them, god only knew why since their presence only ever came back to haunt him) when the bartender plopped two shots of tequila in front of them. Only then did Nino shove the wallet back in Maru’s direction.

“You were a funny-looking teenager, you know that?” Nino said frankly before downing his shot. He made a face like he’d just swallowed hand sanitizer and coughed once. “Still kinda are. Funny-looking, that is. Not a teenager. Never would have made it in show business with a face like that.” He paused. “Are you going to drink your shot or what?”

Briefly, Maru’s eyes flicked down to the sloppy shot of cheap liquor sitting in front of him. It was soon joined by another as the bartender continued to make good on Maru’s twenty dollar bill. Nino glared at the second shot in much the same way he’d glared at his dead DS earlier before throwing it back expertly. All the while, Maru still had no idea where to begin.

“I offered to buy you ONE drink, not endless rounds of shots!”

Alright. A beginning. That was progress.

Nino, however, appeared to be unfazed by Maru’s logic. “They’re not endless – I only gave the guy a twenty – and hey, you’re buying yourself shots, too,” he reasoned. “I don’t think you should be complaining.”

“But I didn’t want tequila! I was going to order wine -”

“From this place? Please. There are six-year olds in France who know more about wine than big guy behind the bar here.” At that, Nino gestured casually with his thumb at the none-too-friendly bartender. When said man started making his way over to the pair, Maru was afraid that he was going to throw them out on their asses for questioning his authority on all things alcohol-related. Instead, he just pushed two more shots in their direction.

Maru now had quite the collection started and he was fast questioning his ability to drink them all without making a complete fool of himself. On the other hand, it wasn’t as if he could really look any more foolish than he already had been made to look in the past week or so – that furry costume had marked a new personal low that even cheap tequila could never best.

“Besides,” Nino continued, oblivious to Maru’s internal conflict, “I just lost the final boss battle I’d been working on reaching for weeks because of my shitty battery. That game was the only thing keeping me sane and now nothing short of an unhealthy amount of tequila is going to get me to sleep tonight.”

“You mean ‘passed out’,” Maru corrected, finally braving his first shot. He had to slurp a bit at the beginning to keep it from getting all over his sweater and he almost ended up choking when he threw the rest of the shot back. He sputtered a bit as the stuff stuck in his throat and gave him flashbacks to his first college party. The tequila he and Nino were drinking now was just as cheap, went down like particularly ill-tasting fire, and made his stomach churn in a sickeningly familiar fashion. The warmth that started radiating down his limbs a few moments later was the only thing that made it (mostly) worthwhile.

Thoroughly oblivious to his partner’s ineptitude at shot drinking, Nino made a flippant noise in response to Maru’s assertion and eyed up his next round. “Unconsciousness is unconsciousness. And if I have to wake up with a hangover,” he paused dramatically to throw back more tequila, shivering as it went down, “then so be it.”

Perhaps it was the mechanical bull injury talking, but in Maru’s opinion that seemed like pretty solid logic. It wasn’t as if he didn’t welcome unconsciousness either, considering that this road trip was a little slice of hell on Earth. He nodded absently as his fingers traced the base of one of his two remaining shots. After another moment, he downed it just as smoothly as the first one, only this time he also managed to spill some on his already abused shoes and spent the next minute or so trying to balance himself on his stool while he wiped them clean. Nino, of course, completely ignored Maru’s plight, instead gazing intensely ahead, his mind clearly still dwelling on his dead DS. Every so often, his hands would unconsciously drift in the direction of his jacket pocket where the console was being stored, as if time was a good enough fix for electronics.

“You seem to really get into your video games,” Maru, or rather, Maru’s alcohol commented after the bartender had handed off their next round. Two shots in, and the world was already starting to take on a bit of a spin. They also had the added effect of making his drinking partner seem a little less hostile. Or perhaps that was just the fact that by the time Nino had downed his fourth shot, he was very obviously beginning to mellow out. Not wanting to be labeled later as a complete drinking failure (plain old ‘drinking failure’ would do nicely), Maru quickly took another shot. He regretted his impulsiveness when a little tequila somehow got up his nose.

“My therapist got me into them,” Nino replied, chin settling comfortably on the bar even as Maru sputtered violently into his monogrammed handkerchief. Nino’s words weren’t slurred by any means, but they were spoken with a deliberateness that made Maru suspect that the other man had to concentrate on what he wanted to say more than usual to have it come out error-free. “She says it’s a good way to release my rage. Healthier than what I used to do, at any rate.”

Maru thought for a few moments as their fifth round appeared in front of them. Nino seemed content to wait a bit before knocking back another one, which suited Maru just fine, as three shots were currently wreaking utter havoc and he was already having trouble not slipping off his stool (on the bright side, his back was feeling much better). His brain already seemed to be working just a hair slower than normal; he knew Nino was some once-famous magician who’d suddenly disappeared from the public eye a few years ago. And… something about a scandal? No, not a scandal. A ‘mental breakdown’ the media had called it. Maru recalled seeing clips of Nino being escorted away from a packed venue by armed security guards twice his size. And then there were the interviews with that woman…

“Oh my god, did you actually almost cut one of your assistants in half?!” he gasped, partially sliding off his stool in the process. His words had come out far louder than he’d intended. Belatedly, he slapped a hand over his mouth as if that would somehow mitigate their initial volume. If the other bar patrons gave a damn about such a juicy and downright dangerous allegation, though, they certainly didn’t show it. Everybody’s attention was either on the mechanical bull, still whipping its victims around like overlarge sacks of potatoes, or the white trash karaoke corner where Kamenashi was crooning out yet another country hit.

Nino, however, obviously heard. The smile that spread across his face was nothing short of fiendish. If the man hadn’t already been beginning to show signs of impaired coordination, Maru would have probably run away screaming. If he could manage to run without tripping over his own feet or stumbling sideways in the process, that is. As it was, Maru didn’t flee. He knew, though, that that smile would undoubtedly haunt his more vivid nightmares for years to come.

“Unsubstantiated rumor,” Nino grinned, clumsily knocking back number five. “Some people are too dramatic for their own good. Now hurry up and drink your shots, you pansy. You’re making me look like an alcoholic.”

Maru wanted to point out that Nino was the one who’d ordered the shots in the first place with the expressed purpose of passing out, so it was unavoidable that he’d look like an alcoholic. It took all of two seconds of serious thought for him to figure out that arguing with someone who would probably just as soon shank him as use his money to feed his alcohol craving was probably not the best idea he’d ever had.

The decision to down his fourth and fifth shots back-to-back was only marginally less stupid.

---------


He didn’t remember leaving the bar that night (hell, he didn’t remember much after he’d choked down that fifth shot). He definitely didn’t remember sleeping at the motel (he must have, though, since his clothes still managed to smell like stale cigarette smoke and cheap air freshener), and he had only the barest recollection of dragging himself onto the bus at some dark-o’clock hour of the morning before collapsing back into blissful unconsciousness.

The first thing of which Maru was aware – vividly aware, at that – was Nino chucking a wallet at his face once the bus had started moving. His jaw and head were already throbbing in synch with one another, and he groaned piteously as the leather struck his forehead, messing up the beat. He would have shifted to protect himself from further assault, but his back felt like it had been put in a vice and just about the only thing he could manage without incurring a large jolt of pain was an ineffective flop of his arms.

“Go away,” he mumbled, although it came out more like ‘mrblfrsb’ on account of his tongue being weighed down by the fuzzy dead animal temporarily residing in his mouth.

“You almost forgot that last night,” Nino said by way of explanation. He didn’t even look at Maru and instead promptly curled up in the window seat on the other side of the aisle.

Maru blinked blearily, willing his eyes to focus on his erstwhile drinking partner. The unflattering overhead lights showed that Nino had huge dark circles under his eyes and was still wearing the same clothes from the night before. In fact, he looked like he’d managed to get run over by a pick-up truck on some dusty side road at some point last night (which was not completely outside the realm of possibility – Maru was certain that there had to be at least one other person in Oklahoma who shared his strong urge to strangle the man). None of that seemed to bother Nino, though, as he pulled out his miraculously re-powered DS and began to play.

“You know, you really should take better care of your stuff,” Nino added after a few silent moments, his eyes never leaving the game. “Just because you’re pretty pathetic at holding your liquor doesn’t mean you should make yourself a target. Otherwise some shifty bastard might rip you off. Oh, and you beatbox in your sleep, did you know that? Die, you bastard son of a Dalmascan street brat! Die, I said! I thought it was snoring but it wasn’t. Yeah… it’s weird.”

It was all Maru could do to keep his jaw from hanging slack as he stared blankly across the aisle at Nino. Once again, he didn’t know where to start with addressing the onslaught of insults. To make matters worse, his brain seemed determined to function in the slowest mode that could possibly be considered conscious. Maru’s hands fiddled absently with his wallet as his brain tried to catch up with his knee-jerk indignation, unconsciously checking to make sure his credit, library, and Macy’s charge cards were still in their proper places.

“Hey,” he croaked, his fingers stilling. “Where’s all my money?!”

Lo and behold, Maru’s billfold was almost entirely empty. A five and two singles were all that was left of the cash Maru had brought with him to the bar last night. Forty-three dollars gone, including the twenty that had paid for the main cause of Maru’s present misery. God only knew how many additional drinks that had bought, but it was certainly more than Nino could drink by himself, with or without his initial five.

As if he knew Maru was thinking about him, Nino paused his game and looked over, his face completely devoid of emotion. Of course the little brat would play innocent. If Maru hadn’t been for all intents and purposes incapacitated at that moment, he would have beaten Nino to death with his DS, television camera crew or no. He was pretty sure any court would rule it justifiable homicide.

“Huh,” was the most Nino had to say when faced with the evidence of his crime. “See? I told you: shifty bastards.”

For a while, that seemed as if it would be the only response Maru would be getting out of the man across the aisle. A whole minute passed, though, and Nino still hadn’t returned to his game despite the fact that he was staring intently at the screen. Finally, as if capitulating in some internal battle, he heaved a sigh and turned back to Maru.

“And…” Nino trailed off, his eyes briefly flicking back a few rows. Though nearly every muscle in his torso protested (some more vehemently than others), Maru twisted in his seat to see where Nino was looking. Two rows behind him, Jin was curled up in his seat in a state that looked to be even worse than the one Maru was currently in (which was more than possible, knowing Jin). “Taguchi may have borrowed a couple bucks to buy drinks so he could request Barbie Doll at karaoke.” Maru arched an eyebrow in confusion. “And he may have made the request three times. Apparently,” and here, the dangerous grin from last night made a return appearance, “Akanishi does a killer Aqua impersonation.” He laughed, and to Maru’s ears it sounded more like an evil cackle than anything else. “Unfortunately for you, lightweights have to wait for the DVD extras.”
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[identity profile] katmillia.livejournal.com on August 22nd, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
I still say "BITCH-WHORE LAVOS" when I do something like stub my toe now. Also, still want Jin singing Barbie Girl on my ipod. .... as a video file. ♥
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[identity profile] aoife-hime.livejournal.com on August 22nd, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
That video would get so many plays, no lie XD
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[identity profile] threewalls.livejournal.com on November 14th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious. I probably shouldn't enjoy Maru's suffering so much, but...
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[identity profile] aoife-hime.livejournal.com on November 15th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
Haha thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it ♥

Maru's life is definitely hard :D But if it weren't, where would the fun be?
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[identity profile] nishya.livejournal.com on November 19th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Poor Maru~ LOL He must feel like the most miserable being on Earth in that moment. xD

There are too many precious sentences to quote, but the leather-eating linoleum was priceless.

If I were him I wouldn't ever want to be again in a 20 meter radium from Nino.

And Chrno Trigger references are always relevant~ xD

Summing up, thanks a lot!
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[identity profile] aoife-hime.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome! Thanks for reading :)

Sometimes bar floors are just so disgusting that they're actually hilarious XD
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