Dance Machine


linus_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Dance Machine
Synopsis Linus finds the nerve to go on the date Peyton purchased with him, and they share a dance. Sort of.
Date August 24, 2010

A Sweet Adult Arcade

When Linus called, Peyton was actually surprised. Possibly even pleasantly surprised. It's not every day a guy swoons and collapses at your feet, and then has the cajones to call a couple of days later for the date he owes you. After a few awkward moments of conversations, mostly consisting of 'what do you wanna do,' 'I don't know, what do you wanna do,' ala The Jungle Book but without the Liverputian accents, the two agreed to meet here — a place that Peyton Whitney has never before set foot.

The arcade is one that caters to grown-ups after hours, with karaoke and cocktail bars amidst the rows and rows and rows of games. The socialite sits a little nervously at the bar, drinking a Cosmo, as she waits for Linus to arrive. She's normally a dress girl, but today she's in skinny jeans and a royal blue trapeze top, matching suede ballet flats on her feet. She plays with her iPhone as she waits, fingers tracking over the glass with the Zen garden app.

Linus walks into the more adult arcade - you know it's an adult arcade when they serve alcohol - wearing his usual just baggy enough jeans and t-shirt with some pop culture reference emblazoned on the front, Chuck Taylor's and a black jacket a grey hoodie inlining. He looks around, searching for his 'date' through the mass of people, machines and noise.

Spotting her at the bar, he makes his way over as casually and confidently as he can. He makes it to the bar, leaning up against it next to her with a smile. "Sorry I'm late. There was a kiosk showing awesome kung fu movies on it, and I may have gotten distracted watching Bruce Lee enter the dragon."

The brunette smiles up at the tall young man, eyes dropping and scanning his t-shirt to read the words there, no doubt something that goes over her head. "Hey, no problem," she says, finishing her drink and reaching into her purse for a bill to pay for it and a tip. "Did you want something to drink, or do you just want to … do whatever it is that people do in this kind of place?" she asks, grinning.

"And is it supposed to smell like this?" It may be a bar and everything else, but it still has that strange smell that arcades tend to have. "I'm kidding. This is cool. You know, I sort of never did this. There were a couple of video games at the ice skating rink we went to sometimes, but I never really came anywhere devoted to this sort of thing," she says, a little shyly, as if confessing something horrible. Because in his eyes, it probably is the equivalent to a Cardinal Sin.

Linus is way too used to hearing that a girl he finds attractive isn't really into video games to so much as bat an eye at Peyton's confession. He thinks about the drink for a minute, but shakes his head. "I think I'll skip the beer. It'll be better off that way." He beats his hands on the counter a second, then pushes off. "Well, they do have food here. It's a restaurant as well. Burgers, fries, stuff like that. I just.. feel a little more comfortable in this atmosphere."

He looks around at all the games with a bit of a wistful sigh. "Well, it's a good thing you're coming to one now. This is a fading industry. With the access of games from a computer, and the booming growth of home console games, arcades have been being phased out for a long time. It's really only places like this that can stay afloat." A pause as he clears his throat, clapping his hands together in front of him nervously. "Still, you payed for this date.. so, what would you like to do?"

Standing, Peyton shrugs, looking up at him and studying his face. He's actually sort of cute, despite fainting on her. Not her usual type at all — she's used to cocky and confident bad guys. "I don't know. I think the last video game I played besides, like, Bejeweled on my phone, was maybe Oregon Trail or maybe Carmen Sandiego. Do those even count? I think they were for free time in fourth grade."

She begins to move away from the bar, looking at the colorful displays and watching people laugh or groan at their successes and failures. "Show me your favorite, I guess? Or something you think I could play without needing a PhD in game wizardry?" she suggests.

He can be a looker, alright, but that's usually hidden beneath awkwardness and the way he dresses. Not that he can't dress well, but he's never dressing to impress. He follows along beside Peyton, hands tucking into his jacket pockets. "Sure they count. Oregon Trail is a tough game, you know. I always ended up dying from dystentary." He chuckles, then points out a Dance Dance Revolution machine in a corner. "What about that? You like to dance, right? It's kind of like that. Playing a game with your feet. And I hardly have a PhD, though I am working on my Masters Degree."

"Who didn't die of dysentery?" Peyton laughs. "I think it was like, 50 to 1 odds that you survived that game. I think whoever did got a gazillion points of extra credit." Her dark eyes study the game. She's seen that one, at least, though she's never actually played it.

"A game you play with your feet. You know, this one guy, he said everytime he sees me, I'm falling down… so I don't know how safe that is. I broke my ankle in a pot hole last winter," she muses. "But I do dance pretty well. We can try it. Just realize, I don't even have a high school diploma in game wizardry." She grins up at him, and moves toward the game. "Oh, they told me to buy this card. I guess they don't do tokens anymore?" She hands him one, the platinum card, meaning she put at least $50 on it.

"Well, you have a point. Though sometimes I would drown when I tried to ford the river when I really should have just hired an Indian guide." He grins, though a bit awkwardly. He puts a hand on the back guard of the dance pad for the game, the other motioning towards the arcade cabinet itself. "You'll be fine. I'll stand right here to catch you if you fall off or something."

He takes the card, looking at it. "Whoa, you put a lot of money on this thing. You didn't have to do that, I could have gotten my own or something." He looks a little flabbergasted, but collects himself to motion to the game again. "So, uh, you just pick a song and then get on the dance pad, and you try to step on the correct arrow as it reaches the top of the screen."

"You don't want to play with me? I'll feel silly if I do it all by myself," she says, glancing around, cheeks pinking a touch. Ironically, this is the girl's who dirty laundry has aired on and Perez Hilton, and she's worried about playing a video game? Once the card is swiped and the display comes up, she selects two players, whether he likes it or not.

"So what do you do when you aren't looking as awkward as I do at a Goth club?" she asks, scrolling through the songs to select one she likes.

"Well.." Linus reaches up to rub the back of his head. "I, you know, I haven't played it in a while, and.. I was going to stand here and make sure you didn't fall or anything, since you seemed a little worried about it." As he sees her loading up the game though, he moves towards the other dance pad, double stepping quickly on the back arrow to raise his difficulty manually up to the hardest difficulty.

He lets her choose the song, resting his hands on his lower back while she does. "So, you're.. that famous girl, right? From that Humanis First incident?" He immediately curses himself under his breath for bringing that up. "I mean, you don't have to talk about it."

She picks a song — ABBA's Dancing Queen seems apropos — but doesn't hit play since his question makes her pause for a moment. She glances down, and then back up at him. "Thanks, for not wanting me to fall," she says with a smile. "I'll try not to break a leg, but with my luck it's certainly likely."

Realizing she's still got her purse on her shoulder, she moves to put it ahead of the dance pad but where it'd be awkward for someone to snatch. "Yeah. I mean, I'm not really famous for anything, you know, just… for being stupid, mostly. And for that. It was a while ago, though. Don't worry about." Her eyes lift back to his face, and she smiles a little sadly. "Ready?"

Linus half snickers at the song, but mostly contains it. "Sorry, I was never really an ABBA guy." He watches her set her purse down, frowning as she talks very briefly about what happened. "No, it's cool. I'd be some kind of jerk if I wanted you to make a total fool out of yourself." A tiny grin. "Maybe a little bit of a fool, you know, make me feel a little better for fainting in public.. but I don't want to see you get hurt."

Despite his social awkwardness, Linus seems to have a talent for downplaying a situation and cheering people up. So when he sees the smile with a hint of sadness, he jumps up and down on the pad, rolling his head back and forth to pump himself up. He looks completely ridiculous. "Alright! I'm ready, let's do this!"

Peyton laughs. "You can choose the next one, I promise," she says as he laughs at ABBA. "And I'd worry if you admitted to being an ABBA fan, really. I donno. It spoke to me." And with that she hits Play.

Despite having the genetics that pretty and popular girls seem to be born with that means she's a graceful and rhythmic when it comes to dancing, there is a learning curve. The speed of the arrows and the difficulty of finding the right arrow at the right time soon lifts her mood, and she's flushed pink and giggling at her mistakes. She never did this as a tween or teen, so it's a little late coming — but for a few minutes, she's a carefree little kid.

Linus on the other hand, has done this before. That or he's an amazing natural. Probably the former. He's hitting the arrows in a row, his feet moving across the dance pad like a madman since he increased his difficulty. Not that it really looks much like dancing, and more like really fast leg flailing. His only mistakes come from when he looks over to see how Peyton is doing.

When the song ends, he steps down off the pad, though he doesn't really seem to be catching his breath or anything one would expect. Instead, he starts to scroll through the songs. "Look at you, you're a dancing machine." Then he turns his eyes to Peyton. "You did pretty good, too. Look at you, I've seen sadder kids in a candy store."

This is not real dancing. It's harder. Especially because for a pretty girl, real dancing means just sort of wiggling hips and lifting your arms above your head as you sashay against the closest hot guy. Peyton isn't too out of breath — she works out on the treadmill and does some fake aerobic boxing to keep in shape. But she is flushed and laughing. "Oh, shit, you have like triple my points or something," she says with a laugh, lifting her hair off her neck and fanning her face. The hair-lift allows him to see that the tattoo Melissa teased about at the auction is innocently on the nape of her neck: a peacock feather in greens and blues and purples.

"Just the ones who don't have any money for their Sour Patch Kids," she teases back. She peers at his feet, and looks up skeptically. "Those have to be like size 13s or something. Is your Evolved ability Snoopy-dancing-feet?"

Linus keeps scrolling through the songs until he settles on something with more of a bass line to it, some drum and bass song modified for the game. He turns around, ready to hit the button to move on to the second song. "Yeah, well.. I think you get more points per step when you play on a higher difficulty, so I mean.. really, you did just as good.. like.. comparatively, or something." He turns a little red in the face as well, but not from the dancing.

That's when he notices the tattoo. "Uh.. cool ink," is how he recovers, hitting the play button and moving back up to his pad. He looks down at his feet, shrugging. "Would you believe me if I said my power is to have an appropriate pop culture reference for any situation?"

"Thanks," she says, a hand rubbing the back of her neck, indicating it is indeed new and something she's a little self-conscious about. "It was kind of one of those bucket list kinda things, but I probably should have started somewhere smaller. You know, the little ankle one or like on the hip, like most girls do when they're not really ready for real ink. At least I can cover it with my hair, right?"

When the music starts, she concentrates a little more this time, now that she's gotten the hang of the timing of the arrows. "Having the right thing to say in any situation would be great. I get all tongue tied or mix my words up without even realizing it sometimes. Like, I called those goons Homeland Services for a long time. I'm sure I sounded like a moron," she babbles a little, feet moving not quite as fast as his.

Peyton hits most, though not always in the perfect range, but giggles a little when suddenly a more complex combo trips her up, and knocks her into him for a moment before she regains her balance. "Oh, man, now I've messed you up, I'm like the person tripping in the marathon and taking down everyone around them."

Linus slides out of his jacket while the song loads up, hanging it over the handbar on the back of the dance pad. "Well, it's cool that you even got one. I'm scared to do something that permanent, you know? Besides, I'd probably get something lame and nerdy." Then the song starts, and he's working the steps like a well oiled machine, legs twisting this way and that through jumps and combos. "Well, unfortunately.. that's not really my ability." What could sound like a casual slip to most, may be picked up that the way he said that.. he does have an ability, just not that. Then Peyton is tripping and falling into him.

He turns to catch her, his hands finding her upper arms to steady her. His steps are forgotten for the moment as he sort of stands there clueless for a second. "Oh, no.. it's just a game. Don't worry about it. Are you alright?"

"Always falling down. I'm fine," Peyton says, blushing a little and getting back on her footpad, laughing and a touch out of breath. "That wasn't a come on, or anything, you know," she says quickly, lest he think she fell on purpose. "The shoes aren't really the best for high impact aerobics," she adds, then thinks for a moment, kicking one off and then the other, only missing a couple of beats as she begins to dance again. Or flail with style.

"It would be a good one. Mine… has its downfalls. It'd be nice to have a power that only had good thing come of it. Like… I don't know. What power would only be good and positive and never go wrong?" She asks.

Linus lets Peyton slip back to her own pad, returning to his own steps, trying to catch back up and make sure he doesn't fail the song and end their play. "Uh, yeah. Don't worry about it. I really didn't think it was at all." Under his breath he adds a muttered, "Why would you?" It's almost completely inaudible over the music, but it could be overheard.

After this song finishes, he steps to the middle of the pad, hands on his hips in a relaxed stance. He's got a light sheen of sweat on his forehead, but even after two intense songs (for him, anyway, on his higher difficulty) he doesn't even have shortened breath. "I don't know.. I think anything can be exploited for bad things, just depends on how you look at it. But I'm sure there are better ones, you know, like being able to make anyone smile no matter what the situation is."

Peyton peers at the display, glancing at him and frowning slightly for a split second as she catches his self-deprectaing mutter. Then she smiles at his next words.

"Smiling is definitely good. People need to do more of it," she says quietly, her dark eyes studying his face for a moment. "I don't know. You might have that power after all. Wonder what they'd put that down as at registration. Probably be tier 5 or something. Super super dangerous. You better be careful." She's trying to make him smile, now.

It's really hard not to smile when a pretty, quasi-famous girl is being cheery to you. So Linus does indeed smile, laughing as he shakes his head. "No, I think my parents could testify to the fact that I certainly do not have that power." He points to the song list. "You can pick one more, or we can leave it and go grab a bite or something."

Interesting. "Were you a trouble child too? My parents definitely didn't get a lot of smiles on my account," Peyton tosses back. It's light hearted, but also very sadly true. She peers at the song list, then at his score and then at hers. "I'd say unless divine intervention occurs and I manage to become Ginger Rogers in the next two minutes, or you suddenly come down with gout, that you're the unquestioned champion." In other words, food sounds good.

Linus nods, hopping off the pad. "Do I get to be Fred Astaire if you do?" He chuckles, reaching around to grab his jacket, sliding it back on. As he adjusts it, he nods out towards the mall area. "How do you feel about popped corn and moving pictures projected on a screen inside a theater?"

Now settled in his coat, and walking away from the dance machine, he shakes his head. "No, not at all. I love my parents, and they love me. I've also made some really bad decisions that have disappointed them." A pause. "I'm sorry about the lack of smiles. I'll try to make up for it."

She walks along beside him, tipping her head and looking up through her long lashes. They seem to come from very different places, yet she can totally relate to what he just said. "I understand," she says quietly, without elaboration. There's a melancholy to her expression that suggests the words are only too true. She understands too well.

"A movie would be great," she adds. "We can pay the movie industry to make us smile. Or scream in terror — whatever genre you like. You can pick it out."

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