“Please, anybody but her!” said Josh, careful to keep his volume down so only his frat brothers could hear.
“Rules are rules,” said Percy. The alligator man was always a stickler when it came to trials. “You couldn’t beat me in the 200, and you couldn’t clear 20 laps in 15 minutes. You’re doing this.”
Josh pilfered a towel from the bench, rubbing himself dry before wrapping the towel around his shoulders. Normally he was proud of his body, a well-kept machine of muscle honed by hours training at the gym each week. But after suffering such an embarrassing defeat at the hands of his friend, and with her around? Only ‘exposed’ could describe how he felt. “She’s such a creep.”
“You should be nicer to your secret admirer,” joked Alvin. “Plenty of guys would die to be in your situation.” The hyena started to chuckle.
“I’d die to get out of it.” Josh admitted. “What are the rules?”
“You ask her out on a date. If she says no, you’re off the hook.”
“And if she says yes?”
“You have to commit,” affirmed Percy.
“That’s right. You take her wherever she wants to go, you pay for everything, and you stay as long as she likes.”
“She’ll never fucking leave me alone…”
“Once you’re done, you can ditch her, pretend the whole thing never happened, whatever you want.” The hyena slaps him on the back. “Give it the old college try.”
“Yeah, she’s down over there.” The alligator points toward the bathrooms. “Show her the Duluth charm for us, Josh.”
Josh took a deep breath, making his way toward the bathrooms with grim resolve. Behind him his friends erupted in laughter.
It wasn’t long before he spotted his stalker. Leaning against the tiled walls was a scrawny rabbit with greasy black hair and grey fur. A pair of large coke-bottle glasses rested on her nose, and she was wearing a black hoodie and jeans. Her eyes narrowed into a sneer as he approached, her typical response to everything that threatened her, even the boy she’d been obsessing over since she started school here.
The human lead with the most inoffensive thing he could think of. “Hey, Gretchen.”
“What do you want?” spat the rabbit. She could tell something was off about him immediately. Usually he kept his right shoulder forward slightly when he talked to someone. Now, he had his left shoulder forward.
“Nothing! I mean, uh…” It felt like she was boring a hole through his soul. Josh looked back at his frat brothers, hoping for some kind of help. Percy was covering his mouth and Alvin wasn’t even looking at him.
“If you want nothing, then I’ll give you nothing. Leave me alone.”
Joshua considered leaving right then and there, then realized it would give his free license to make him do some other horrific challenge. “That’s not what I meant. I wanted to-” He vomited in his mouth a little. “Ask you out on a date…”
Gretchen froze. He had turned her down five times before, and now Josh Duluth was coming to ask her out? It was too good to be true. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“What do you mean?” He felt something drip down his forehead.
“After two years of me asking you out, now you come to me? Are you doing this for a prank or something?”
"Of course not,” he lied. “I’ve just always been… shy… around you. My friends are trying to get me into anime, so I figured it would be the perfect chance to talk to you about it. I saw you wearing a shirt with an anime dude on it a couple of days ago, what show is that from?”
“アノンは20人のバニーの女の子を素早く連続してファックします,” she said in perfect Japanese, pushing her glasses in with one finger. “Or Banifakuga for short. It’s not just some entry-level-pleb anime, though. You should start with Sword Art or something that’s friendlier to casuals.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Josh turned to leave. Maybe if he disappeared now she wouldn’t remember why he originally bothered her.
“Where are you going?” The rabbit called from behind him. “You said you wanted us to go on a date.”
The human wheeled back around, putting on the front once more. “Right! I did say that. What do you have in mind?”
Gretchen frowned. “Did you seriously come over here without a plan? You’re such a dumb meathead, you’re lucky you’re cute.” The rabbit then pulled out her phone, swiping through pictures at a lightning pace until she found one featuring a colorful flyer. “They’re having this thing at the convention center next Saturday. My original plans for it fell through, so if you give me a ride over there, I wouldn’t mind if you stuck around.”
“I’ll need your number to send you all of the details, so put it into my phone.”
Who the hell was she talking to? It was well known that Gretchen was a freak, but he didn't expect her to be so damn bossy. “Sure,” Josh said through gritted teeth, tapping the ten digits in. "Should be good."
The rabbit pulled her phone back, typing something quick before looking back up at her crush. There was something unnerving about her gaze.
Josh felt his own phone vibrate in his pocket.
“Just making sure you got it right.” Satisfied, the bunny turned around, shuffling out of the pool area with her tail up.
And realizing what he had just done, put his palm against his face. “Why didn’t I give her a fake number?” he lamented.