Pocky always thought Baddy was nice. Not the syrupy, old-lady kind of nice, the kind of nice that would poke into your dimple and squeeze on your cheeks and tell you that you’re so cute, they could eat you up. Still, nice.
That kind of nice who would sometimes look at you. Notice you. Talk to you, maybe.
Well, one can say that Baddy did kidnap him, and in a lobster costume, most of all, but just because of that, one should not assume immediately that Baddy wasn’t nice! If anything, Baddy was considerate.
“What’s wrong?” he asked just about three minutes into the kidnapping act since Pocky could barely keep up with him running.
He did not remember when the last time was anyone asked him that. In fact, he only ever remembers asking a few times himself, then being scolded: you never know how your conversational partner may receive these questions. Are you trying to fraternize with strangers, Pocky? Better not to risk harassment. You do not have the qualifications.
The fact that Baddy just casually had his arms around him was also incredible (although, strictly for kidnapping reasons). Touching is entirely prohibited in his workplace.
“My head is heavy.” Pocky pointed at the lobster costume. He could feel sweat streaming down his temples under the hat. His hair must have been a mess.
“Then take it off.”
Pocky scratched the tip of his nose (nothing else was accessible) and laughed, nervously. “I don’t know how to.”
It took them quite a while, to install the whole disguise back at the kitchen of the Blue Lagoon. Even longer when you consider that the police officer ladies and Goody had to help him while also making sure they never touched each other accidentally. Who knew what sort of awful scandals would come out of that! Harassment? No thank you.
Baddy made a sound of acknowledgement, and – perhaps this was only Pocky’s imagination – slowed down slightly, as he continued to make his way back towards the Blue Lagoon. Pocky perspired so heavily that he began to think he could easily drink up an entire river without any difficulties and then ask for seconds. His tongue was dry. His heart was pounding hard against his chest, squeezing at times.
“Why are we here?” he tried to ask, once they reached the back entrance of the Blue Lagoon, but he sounded much more like a flute played by a three-year-old than a person.
By some miracle, Baddy understood. “I’m thirsty. You look like you need a drink, too.”
Pocky nodded, then immediately regretted doing so. Trying to avoid the pull of his lobster head was a bigger challenge than he could take on.
“I must have some Pocari Sweat right now,” he decided. Or he would die. (He did not say that because saying such things might inconvenience others and he was the personification of an Inconvenience already, without saying slightly concerning things to perfect strangers. Even if that given perfect stranger tried to kiss his crush and then kidnapped him instead.)
Baddy found the staff entrance of the restaurant open, then admitted both of them without further due. It occurred to him that such behaviour may not be entirely legal, but he also really wanted that Pocari Sweat…
There was this very old saying on Earth, from long before it was designated a Peaceful Planet, which went something like:
All is fair in love and war.
Pocky really wished there was an addendum to that rule, so it would look more like:
All is fair in love and war and dehydration.
The Blue Lagoon was closed between lunch and cocktail time, so the back was quiet, with only a faint sound of laughter and the clinking of plates from the dishwashing room, somewhere down the hall.
Finding the fridge with soft drinks, Pocky proceeded to down the first bottle of Pocari Sweat he could find, and if Baddy was not there to stop him, the whole bottle would have been gone in less than a minute.
“Here,” Baddy told him and handed him a pre-cooled bottle from another refrigerator. “Try this.”
Naïve and full of blind trust towards others, he chugged it without thinking, assuming it was just another bottle of Pocari but colder. It was not.
“Holy cow,” he exclaimed because he remembered in time not to say hell. “What is this?”
When he looked at the bottle a bit more, it was clearly not a sports drink. He had to admit, the liquid was a fun colour, though.
“Booze,” Baddy told him nonchalantly and took his own bottle. “You don’t know?”
Pocky also had to admit that no, he had no idea. It was mostly royalty and rich people (for example, bankers) who would freely indulge in a bottle of champagne at the Blue Lagoon during pleasant business dinners. Ordinary members of the public, such as Pocky, would never even think about ordering such a thing.
“What about teenage rebellion?” Baddy inquired. “Surely you wanted to try how beer tasted like just because you were not allowed to.”
Pocky protested immediately. “I don’t know about that.”
He protested, but the nice, sweet taste of the cocktail had already begun to do wonders in his tummy, spreading warmth and fun around. Just as he imagined a nice, satisfying hug would feel like. Even though, he had no idea. They took another bottle each, then made their way out of the building. There were some nice benches in a nearby park, protected by the shade, and they claimed them as theirs.
In the beginning, he felt giggly, and then melancholy thoughts found him.
“Are you eating properly?” Baddy asked him. “This was not supposed to have such a strong effect on you.”
For one, Pocky was never asked that, either. He began to cry.
“What’s the matter, now?”
Pocky only cried harder at that question, but soon enough his tongue got loose, too. Feeling like a weepy lobster baby, he began to tell his whole life story, from birthplace (right here, in Takarazuka city), blood type, star sign, through childhood, to his eventual, fateful crush on Goody. Which he never felt resentful about but now his heart was breaking into the smallest pieces.
Baddy looked at him, and listened, and drank. Pocky did not remember having eyes like his on him, ever, in his life, and he slowly grew warm again.
“You poor fellow,” Baddy lamented with him. “Let me see what we can do about it.”
And then, that is how he fell in love.
That was the point.
Sure, he had a crush on Goody or something, but no. It was different. He found something new. It was Baddy’s time to shine.
At first, he did not realize, then he was conflicted about it for more or less ten minutes. You see, Baddy took him back to his secret lair (how did he even manage to get one so soon after making his way down to Earth?), and he hugged him close by the shoulder, let his fingers dance on his shoulders, then edge closer to his neck, and taught him the method of cool. Most of all, he also looked at him with warm, black eyes, almost as if nobody else existed in the world, only Pocky.
He really did like that.
In fact, whenever Baddy did not look at him, he found himself missing his gaze. He was used to Goody not even batting an eyelash at him, but Baddy was different. Baddy gave, so he could take.
And really, Baddy was nice.
A villain, for sure. He smelled like smoke all the time and left cigarette butts behind any way he went. He was loud, and inappropriate but not at all catty, unlike Sweetheart. He would watch. And see.
When Sweetheart would propose wicked things such as “let’s play strip poker,” and Pocky’s reaction would be an immediate, decisive “NO” as the human nakedness was more than a mere taboo, Baddy would notice his discomfort.
Sweetheart would push it, still. It was a villain’s thing, he’d say. No man who ever had the genuine wish to become a villain would refuse.
“Let’s play poker, with real money,” Baddy suggested instead. “Gambling, after all, is illegal. It would be a splendid, villainous thing to do.”
Sweetheart hated that. (He would always say when Baddy made such lenient decisions in villainy that he was simply growing soft and boring and had stopped being himself completely. It was a detestable accusation to hear. Because Baddy? Was perfect.)
But Pocky? Pocky grinned at him. At first, he truly believed his villain lessons were in order to make Goody attracted to him, but the more lessons he took, the more he realized, he wanted to have Baddy’s attention instead. The clumsier he looked, he thought, the more personalised the lessons would get.
Maybe some of the naughtiness rubbed off on him, as after a while he would outright lie about Goody, so he can keep being enrolled in Villain School. Liking Baddy definitely gave him a sleepless night or two, as on this Peaceful Planet Earth all sorts of things were illegal and unspoken taboos, including a crush on the same sex.
In fact, it was a widely undiscussed topic where he had come from, as it was a good, long-standing habit on Planet Earth to sweep anything under the rug that felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable to people in power. So, his worries were twofold. … Severalfold, in fact.
Was it morally acceptable to have a crush on a villain, to begin with? And continuing, was it morally acceptable to have a crush on another man?
Most importantly, if it was acceptable after all: did he have the right qualifications to fall in love with a man?
Then, the more he played with villains, the less he cared about that. No qualifications? Made the whole experience even better. There were no qualifications needed, only an eye, to see that Baddy was the most handsome man in the universe, albeit the most dynamic and dangerous one, as well.
They would gamble late into the night, until the sun would make its comeback on the horizon, laughing, and boozing, and perhaps losing a jacket or two. It would be Cool who gave up first, then Hot followed. Sweetheart also went to bed, calling the game boring, and suddenly it was only the two of them, tired eyes, heavy shoulders, and a pile of money.
“Look at you, you’re growing day by day,” Baddy complimented him and made a fan out of ten-thousand-yen bills for him to use, sending a gentle breeze his way.
“Am I good, at being bad?” Pocky asked with a sheepish smile.
He felt a hand curling around his wrist, then found himself drawn into Baddy’s lap. “I wouldn’t go that far. But you’re getting somewhere.”
Baddy lit a cigarette and offered him a drag. It still made his head hurt, but at least he learned how not to cough his lungs out.
“Even so,” Pocky whispered, “I think I like where I am getting.”
Taking the clue, Baddy pressed a kiss on his lips and put the cigarette out in the ashtray, so he could give Pocky his full attention. Shirts would come off the same time the sun came out, and nakedness almost started to become less scary than it was exciting.
The villains’ den was quiet apart from the sounds Pocky never knew he had, not at all ashamed, and almost free. It was not his first kiss, due to a common, innocent mistake with the Bank President’s wife, but it was definitely his first everything else.
He was unsure before, but now he knew: he definitely had the right qualifications.
And Baddy’s eyes would not change the day after, and the day after, and the day after either. Pocky also did not change his alibi, except, somehow, he found himself becoming better and better. Perhaps holding a gun would never be his forte but smoking cigarettes became close to easy, and he produced the best forfeit passports the universe had ever seen. He was proud of that.
He arrived at the conclusion that one could not capitalize on being an inconvenience in his whole life, and that was all thanks to Baddy. Otherwise, he would have stayed a professional Inconvenience until probably his very last day. (Maybe continuing a few days into his death too.)
Being good was not a priority anymore when he could be cooler stuff, such as being free. If all was going to go well, he would assist an alien invasion of Earth, get dirty rich, and embark into some interplanetary sightseeing on Baddy’s side. He did not really inform Baddy of that, but it went without saying, now that they were something he could only describe as his favourite couple in the world.
Pocky always thought Baddy was nice. Nice arms. Nice laugh. Nice eyes.
If one thing he did not consider before was that he himself was not nice. Not nice at all.
You see, he grew up thinking he was. There were no other options, so to say. But then, Baddy came with a handful of those options. It felt as if his mind suddenly expanded, from here to the Moon, and then back again.
Suddenly, he began wanting things he never allowed himself to want. Suddenly he began thinking in ways he never realized one could think like.
Sweetheart always said that he “poisoned Baddy,” with all sorts of unruly (completely good and legal) things he filled his head with. He always said that Pocky was, “too good” for him, and by that, he meant too boring. That he and Goody, hand in hand, made Baddy go completely mad.
Firstly, just for the record, he and Goody never walked hand in hand.
And, if anyone was making anyone go completely mad, it surely was the other way around. If he did think that he felt anything close to love for Goody before, well, he was in for a surprise. His head was spinning from all the new information, from all the new sensations, from all the new feelings. Baddy would call him “Pock” once, too lazy to pronounce his full name even if it only meant omitting one letter, and his heart burst. His glass heart popped.
When Baddy was gone, he would be pre-occupied with passports and the impending alien invasion of the Peaceful Planet. (Last time someone invaded them, he got himself in for a kiss, so he was quite extraordinarily excited about the possibility of meeting new people, new creatures, and brand-new experiences. Not that he wanted to swap Baddy for anyone. But still! There was so much in the universe to discover, and so little the Peaceful Planet allowed.)
When Baddy was home, he would be pre-occupied with sitting on his lap, and being called cute, and kissing until his lips felt sore. That is, if Baddy did not feel like someone and something else on that day.
At first, he was not angry. But then, he learned how to be. At first, it was not anyone’s fault but his that he was useless and stupid, and an Inconvenience.
But now, he was not useless anymore. He wasn’t an inconvenience. Actually, he was Convenient. Very convenient. He became so convenient that Baddy would go as far as to steal ideas from him, of all people.
Bank robbery. Not the armed kind. The sneaky kind. Disguise, and all. Just like in those old movies with a dark but romantic ambience.
“Sweetheart looks gorgeous in a dress, you know,” Baddy told him the night before, as a matter of fact.
He thought it was unfair, to be holding someone and telling them about how gorgeous someone else was. Maybe there was a hidden message he did not get. Anger was itching him from the inside.
“I can be a gorgeous girl, too,” Pocky said.
Baddy only laughed and he did not like that at all. What was so funny? That was one.
Then, later, when he saw Sweetheart again, he understood. Sweetheart was gorgeous. More than that, though. More followed.
For the first time of his life, no matter how huge a mistake it was, Pocky thought he could be something more. In fact, he thought he actually was something more already. All the fault of some warm, black eyes.
Warm black eyes that looked at him often, although they would also be stuck on Sweetheart all the more… And so they were, on the dancefloor, too. Pocky himself never really understood the appeal of thigh-high stockings, high heels, or tastefully placed feathers, but the fault was surely in him, so much was clear from the beginning.
His idea of pretty was a big poof, some glitter, and maybe a handful of pompoms if he could really go wild. The pompoms had been a dream of his for years, but the Bank President, or his wife, would never even consider inviting him to banquets like this.
Which is why he wanted, his first and only chance, to go with a bang. Sweetheart was a pretty woman? Well. Good news.
But those eyes were not the eyes he wanted to see, for they never were on him. And when they were, for a moment, they slipped through, glassy and empty. They were searching for someone else.
And Pocky in that moment felt the chaos in his veins. He felt the chaos welling up in his chest. He felt the chaos, forming a whirlwind in his mind. He felt the chaos turning peace into wrath on his tongue, between his temples, and, unfortunately, in his heart. Did he not deserve the looks anymore?
Baddy had his hands all over Sweetheart’s thighs, grabbing Goody by the wrist. Pulling them into an embrace, giving them the look, with his warm, deep, black eyes. Fingers met fingers, hearts met hearts, lips locked in public, and there he was, locked out of a crystal palace he always thought he belonged in.
Did he not deserve love like everybody else? Was he truly so abominable? Boring? Insufferable? What had gone wrong in his life that even those who used to give him a warm look turned towards others for even the most basic of affections?
Had he not given everything he had? Did he not deserve to get back, tenfold the love, tenfold the passion, tenfold the devotion?
That was when he knew it needed to end. And quick.
Hatred spilled across his chest. He remembered now, all of a sudden. When he was younger, he had a jug. A cute jug, his favourite. Pastel blue. With the face of a small dog at the front. He would always drink raspberry syrup from the jug while watching the Peaceful Planet News, legs crossed on the coffee table.
Once he would squirm and kick, trying to find a comfortable position, and the raspberry syrup spilt, spreading all over the lace doilies before he could even blink. He remembered now. He remembered how helpless he felt, watching the red grow and grow, then overflow, and drip on the floor under him.
Hatred was raspberry.
He watched as his arms shook and his heart trembled in wrath. He watched as his thoughts began to roam free, into realms he never thought acceptable before. And he hated Baddy for making him feel the hatred. He hated Baddy for making him realize this was no life to live.
Pocky hated Baddy for looking at someone else. He hated Sweetheart for being playful and easy-going, and cool, and attractive, and everything he would. Never. Be. He hated Goody for never even looking in his direction and for chasing Baddy like there was no tomorrow. For only ever seeing sin and wickedness. How can someone so good be so pre-occupied with finding evil where evil never dwelt, to begin with? How can someone so righteous not see the disaster when it was happening right under her nose?
He hated. Pocky loathed. And then in the midst of this new, although disgusting feeling spreading all over his body, rays of enlightenment found him too. Hit him like a taser. He knew what he was supposed to do.
This world was engulfed in chaos. Everyone was living for the wrong things.
None of these people deserved to be alive. Not a single one of them.
If Baddy did not enjoy looking at him anymore, he should not be able to look at all. Sweetheart? He had been popular enough for all his life, had his fun, it was time to go. Hot and Cool? It would never matter to them, whether they were alive or dead. If the whole world was on fire, Moon and Earth alike, they would all be cleansed, by this chaos paradise that tickled him all over, from the brain to the toes.
From the wicked ones to the Prince, nobody deserved a second chance at life. Nobody. Nobody at all.
They failed him, and he knew that.
Baddy held Sweetheart close to himself as they broke free from the bank, aiming at the Moon.
“See?” he murmured, a hand on Pocky’s wrist as he pulled him closer too. “I told you my Sweetheart was a pretty girl.”
He did not even understand the offence he made. For him, this was natural. He forgot to tell Pocky that his words were never promises, and Pocky, regrettably, forgot to remind himself never to give his heart to a fiend from the Moon.
And so. He decided already: there was no other way, it could only end here.
Pocky did want to go out with a bang, after all. One that reverberates through the universe. He had been so quiet his entire life, the pain and frustration Baddy had awakened in him was begging to cry out, to put an end to everything, and allow the world to go on. Without them.
It was not a matter of sin and virtue. He only assumed a virtuous pose for his last bow so all would feel guilty in their last moments. Having died for peace is much nobler than sacrificing himself on the altar of blind revenge. Even if all these people were about to be served their just desserts…
Invisible until the end, “who did this?” Baddy asked. Why?
There was smoke, debris, blood, and hatred. A moment, he was still a lobster, then the next, Baddy looked at him for one last time. Lying was not difficult anymore.
Eyes, beautiful, dark and attentive.
Pocky always thought Baddy was nice: but that did not mean he didn't deserve to die.
He got swallowed up by the chaos; paradise.