Chapter 10: Setting the Hook

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The next few days fell into a bit of a routine.  For me, I went to classes regularly, got a lot of studying done, and got some sun.  I also managed a date with Sara, taking her to see a showing of “Casablanca” at the Nickelodeon downtown.  It wasn't a bad date; no necking, a little conversation, and enough time together—we had gelato afterward—to show that maybe there was some chemistry there.  I would say it fell about in the middle of the spectrum between a “I don't ever want to see you again” disaster, and the ultimate “How about you come spend the night at my place” triumph.  Not a bad few days.

For Tosh, he spent a ton of time out of the house.  I don't know what kind of things he was doing, but I didn't feel left out.  ”Zack man, I really screwed up before.”

“With the Elf Land stake-out.”

He winced, though whether it was from my lame use of bad TV police lingo or because of the epic nature of our failure, I'm not sure.  ”Yeah, that.”  He took a breath.  ”I don't want you to think I'm keeping shit from you.”

“Actually, I wasn't thinking that.”

“Good.  What I'm doing is trying to line things up better this time.  And I've also been helping out Greg a little bit—he got into a lot of trouble.  And Lucas has been helping me mend fences with James and the city government.”

“Jeez, Kim didn't get in trouble, did she?”

“No, no; she's cool.  But they know I had been asking around, and some people got pissed off.”

“Sorry dude.”

“It's okay.”  He smiled a bit wearily and sighed.  ”Anyway, I want to have everything really organized before I make another try at catching this guy.”  He grimaced.  ”I totally underestimated him, and some of my friends are paying the price a bit, and I don't want to make it worse.”

“Sounds like a smart plan.” 

He nodded, not agreeing so much as appreciating that I thought so.  ”I hope so.  Anyway, I'm definitely going to need your help at some point.  But in the meantime, I kind of need to be on my own.”

“Works for me,” I said.  ”I had to catch up with my classes, anyway.”

“And have a few dates.”

“One date.  But if you take much longer with your prep work, maybe I'll work in another one.”

“She seems pretty cool,” Tosh said.

“Thanks.  Too soon to say, but we'll see.”

“Yeah.”  He looked thoughtful for a second, then looked back at me.  ”Anyway, I'll let you know.  And I really appreciate your wanting to help.”

“Sure.  Sounds good.”

By Saturday, Tosh still hadn't said anything—and was still spending a lot of time out of the house—so I did in fact ask Sara out again.  Turns out she loved ballroom dancing, and there was a dance up at Stevenson that weekend that featured said dancing, so she asked if we could go to that.  As I said, I suck at poker, so I'm sure by my facial expression and tone of voice that she was aware that this wouldn't have been my first choice, but in the interests of making a good impression and trying to be open to new experiences, I told her okay.  

Saturday evening saw me stuffing myself into my fanciest clothes and asking various housemates if I could borrow ties and suit-jackets; not only had I left all my uniforms at home, I didn't think it would make a good impression on the student body if I showed up at a Santa Cruz dance in full military baby-killer regalia.  Besides, I never really like the Marines' dress uniform, anyway.  Fortunately, being average-sized is an advantage when it comes to clothes-borrowing, and I was even able to score some leather-soled loafers that mostly fit.  Thus decked out—and approved by Lucas as not looking too bad, “Although you always look a bit rumpled, no matter what you're wearing”, he said—I made ready to leave.

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