Rice Bluff EXTREME Try Not To Laugh Challenge
The walk to the bus stop was chilly, but that had jack shit on the wait for their public transit to arrive. Surprise fucking surprise, having a cold didn't warm her up.

Naturally the bus itself was too heated, a sweaty, layered kind of roasting, and she was peeling her coat off for the last few blocks to the apartment only to put it back on just before reaching the parking lot. Had a thing in her head, some shit she'd seen on Instagram on the way, but her brain couldn't manage much more in the way of conversation until she was physically comfortable.

"Fuckin' hate being sweaty and cold," she said, hip checking the door open with a thud. By now she tended not to go flying in, knowing how to manage that first step with extra successful momentum. Anyway, it was a complaint, but said without excessive bitching in her tone. Just facts. Jacket went off to the bed, and she pawed her hoodie up and off over her head, speaking through the fabric as it fumblingly made its way over her staticky hair.

"I saw this- Valentine's Day shit," she said, thrashing the hoodie onto the mattress by the sleeves still clinging to her wrists. Sniffle, slight cough. "And it made me realize, like- are you into ladies or dudes? I don't actually know."
You know, he usually didn't much relate. Jimmy tended to be all in one way or the other, either feeling hot and sweaty from exercise and stuff, or else just cold. And he didn't love feeling cold. But in these last months he got it. No matter what, he always felt a little cold. It wasn't nearly as bad as it'd been, like, immediately post unturning, but it lingered. Like bed warmth but the opposite.

"Like being a hot pocket," he nodded, deciding not to mention that he only really knew about hot pockets from stand-up routines. Was never his culinary jam. Also wasn't actually feeling it there and then, shrugging out of the synthetic leathers but definitely keeping his own hoodie on. He'd loved the heat on the bus, even a little stifling as it was.

Anyway, any further thought on the topic—which wouldn't have been much—got all curtailed and stuff by a question. One that pulled a definite reaction outta him.

"Ha!" came the sharp bark of laughter, kid lighting up as he went to hang his jacket up on a wall hook. "Yeah, I've gotten that before." Not for a while. No one'd, like, dug into that since college, which he got; it was a weird thing to just bring up without already knowing someone pretty well, all personal and whatev. "And the answer's not, like..." Shrugging, he leaned back against the freshly closed door before linking his fingers together in his own messy short hair.

"Easiest to say neither and both?" But that wasn't helpful, and he liked being understood. "I'm ace, so not really into anyone the way people usually mean. I've had girlfriends, and like, wanna fall in love or whatever someday. Never dated another dude, but I figure the things that make me like a person, it doesn't really matter what they're packing or how they identify."

sorta content warning for crude and sorta ignorant thinking around sexuality, thanks, grace

Hot Pocket jokes were very acceptable Grace humor. She snort-laughed wetly, using a dangling hoodie sleeve to swipe across her nose. Already had that under the nostril soreness going on. Sick. Thanks again, Jimmy.

That very first response, the laugh and the acknowledgment that gaydar didn't clock him easy, had her deciding he was secret gay. Not closeted, but few tells. But the initial answer to follow was confusing. Neither, like specifically into non- oh. Shit. This was new information to Grace, who admittedly believed the entire world, but especially men, were secretly seeking opportunities to pound.

Like. Jimmy, who put in all this work on how he looked and shit, kickboxing, but also fingers in her hair, wasn't DTF anyone. But still wanted to fall in love. She knew about this as a concept, didn't judge him for it, exactly? But it was difficult to wrap her own mind around, when it was a lot easier to get a boner for someone than to get anything approaching sparkly eyed.

"No shit, huh?" she said, turning to face him as she stood against the bed, leaning the backs of her legs to it as she stepped out of her boots. "So you wanna get married, but not, like."

In true Grace form, she made a cavernous fist with one hand, then jammed her opposite index finger into it. Thrice.

Hey, did you still jerk off if you were ace? Or did you just never, like. Whoa.
Hey, so, catch him with this chat ten years ago—ten?! woof, Jimmy—and there'd be a lot of, like, uncertain defensiveness and stuff. Which was maybe how all teenagers were when asked about sex, he dee kay. College experimenting hadn't looked entirely the same for him as it did in most movies, but it'd all worked out pretty well as far as like, figuring himself out. Being comfortable with who he was as a sexual being.

Even if it meant he was only that physically. Head shaking, his mouth fell open into an entertained but like, kinda dubious grin.

"I mean, I figure that'll be part of it. Chances are whoever I fall for will be into it, yeah? I don't, like, hate sex or anything. It's just not..." He shrugged again, hands still pinning down his hair. "I dee kay, I don't really know how it is for most people? But it seems like, dudes 'specially, it's this huge motivator. Like, takes up half the brain or something." 'Specially 'specially the dudes he used to hang around with.

"Bro, teammates in highschool?" Jimmy blasted out this sorta explosiony cheek puff sigh of exasperation and shook his head again.
Where blatant curiosity reigned before, something between sympathy and empathy or whatever rolled in as Jimmy continued. She planted her ass on the bed, scooting back and crossing her legs as she listened.

Hair still sweaty at the scalp. Grace gathered it into a hand-bound ponytail, holding it all over her head to air that shit out.

Jimmy was, like. Almost a caricature of goodness. Still definitely a real person and all that, but this was yet another way she could barely grasp how he viewed the world. Patrolling, but not for that. And in hearing him talk about hornfuck teammates, it was easy to put him in the camp of...

Women? In a way? Having to deal with all that sex bullshit they didn't want. That protective nature rose up again, like she could go back and nut-stomp a whole room of half-staffed fuckwits talking about T&A.

"I fucking bet," she said, half gruff, half enthusiastic. Bust out a laugh after. Fucking whoa.. She sucked her teeth, released her hair in a cascade of dark strands. "It's cool, man. I was curious 'cause like- there's this Valentine's Day thing I got some coworkers sharing on Insta. They match you up with someone or whatever. And I realized I didn't, like-"

How to say it without making it weirder than it was. And Grace didn't consider it weird.

"We been living together, and you're a dude and all that, and you've never made a move on me. Which is chill, like- we're friends, not- yeah. But it made me wonder."

He'd get it, if he got how gross locker room bullshit was.
Cool. He hadn't really, like, expected this to get super awkward or anything, and this was a part of him that he liked people knowing. Just, like, in the same way people usually didn't ask, he couldn't really go around introducing himself like "Yo, I'm Jimmy, I'm never gonna try n' bang ya." Sus as hell and even if they believed him, like... okay?

Already had the vegan thing he could tell everyone for no reason. They expected that.

"Yeah, no," he grinned, dropping one hand while the other shifted to the back of his neck. A nod saw his gaze dropped briefly to the ground. "I totally getchu. It's a whole thing." That, like, low-key anxiety about this thing that probably isn't a thing but you can't know if it's a thing without bringing it up, and if it's a thing...

"Thanks for asking," accompanied an easy return to looking at her. Grace, of course, remained pretty rad.

"I haven't really..." One more shrug, and his other hand forcibly dropped. "Like, last couple years I've had a lot else to worry about, you know? Haven't had much, like, personal energy to devote to dating." Then another dumb burst of a single laugh. "Last chick I asked out bit me, so..."
Chill. It was very chill. Jimmy undoubtedly had no idea the degree to which she was scrutinizing his response here, and to an extent, neither did she until the moments after. Listening real, real fucking carefully for any indication that she'd stepped on a friendship landmine.

But she didn't hear anything that worried her. Nothing that felt like overcompensating or a hint, either. Tension she didn't know she'd been feeling unclenched and soothed. For a second, anyway, because there was that dumb lion cunt who'd turned him. That was who did it. Someone Jimmy was fucking asking out.

"That shit makes me so mad," she said, but it was a little showy as she reached for the plastic bag she'd loosed onto her bed without a thought as she first came in. Digging for the scissors in their clamshell packaging, which would require other scissors to open. Nice.

"Anyone you ask out, run 'em by me first and I'll tell you if they're secretly a wolverine or some shit," she grumbled, but lively. Was it a joke? Not really. Though she continued past it, rising from the bed to head toward the kitchen.

"We could go together to this blind date thing if you want. You get matched up for your zodiac or whatever? And if either of us have a bad date we text the other for a rescue."
Yeah, he knew it would. Make her mad. She'd been real clear on that part. Even, like, when she found out he was a lion, there was... Man, he remembered that phone call real clearly. She was sympathetic, sure, but the big takeaway was "stay the eff away from people, Jimmy." Even outside almost being eaten by one, he knew the girl had big feelings on weres and the way they interacted with people. Real few passed muster.

But it wasn't, like, uncomfortably ragey here. Maybe halfway because he wasn't rushing to anyone's defense this time. Ugh, Jimmy... But yeah, not where they were anymore, letting him laugh genuinely at her being his guardian or whatever. Side note, he knew it was an animal, like a giant weasel or something, but the word had first and mostly meant a comic character so it was what he always pictured. And biromantic or no, definitely not his type.

There was a brief brow squishing uncertainty as she began the invitation, wondering in turn if, oops, this whole discussion had been her working around to asking him out? Which would, like, require some thought. But nah, that wasn't the punchline, so it fell back out of his head pretty immediately.

"Yeah, dude, let's do," he agreed with more enthusiasm than when she'd first suggested buzzing her head, giving a little clap as he used his elbows to push off the door and see about next steps for that very task.

"'Sthe worst that could happen?" Ell oh ell, they'd already outlined them. But the worst likely outcome? Skeezy dates turning into more roomie hang time. Sold.

Once upon a time, it was definitely something she would have invited Rika or Vanessa to. But Vanessa was taken, and Rika had some creepy vampire. And both of them were drama.

Which undersold Jimmy a little. He was a person whose company she enjoyed. Not one hundred percent of the time, and they didn't see eye-to-eye exactly, but, like. Increasingly she was sure that that was an indication that she really did know him. Could trust him to be real and all that shit, as opposed to, like.

Some other interactions she'd had lately.

"Nothing worse than your last date," she snorted. (Then swallowed.) Had the kitchen shears in hand to snip snip, plastic crackling hard beneath the pressure of dull blades.

"So this cut don't gotta be good," Grace began, putting down one tool to use her god-given ones to pry off the remaining case. "It's like. Ceremonial. And I'll get it fixed after, 'cause I can't cut it good either. Cool?"

The ceremonial cutting, Jimbo. Getting fucking pact-y in here.
Eeeeyup. It'd be real easy to, like, slip into lion-bashing mode. With distance and perspective, Jimmy had awfully little nice to say about any of it. A lot less inclination to try and find the good or whatev. Grant benefit of the doubt, all that. But he'd also, right there with Grace, already done the only damage to a lion that mattered. That was productive. That needed to happen.

Anything else would be... Eh, he wouldn't really feel better for it.

Instead he let his mouth fall open, unboxing the clippers and fumbling some with the cord. Thing definitely didn't come with any kinda internal battery at this price point. But big offended energy, if overblown in that Jimmy way that sold it out as super fake immediately. Big scoff.

"You would let some lesser stylist deface the art of Fabulous by Jimmy, tee em?!" Shoving the prongs into an outlet in the kitchen, he waved the electrical thing around like a paintbrush. And took on what kinda seemed like it was trying to be a posh British accent? Hard to tell. "How dare-"

But he cut himself off mid-sentence because, like Grace, he understood this to be the peak of comedy. Grinning, he fell back into his normal cadence.

"By which I obviously mean, 'thank god.'"
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