Guys Being Dudes
Table Of Contents
1 | Over The Edge
Author's Note: You might notice that this chapter title isn't an Escape the Fate or Falling In Reverse reference, unlike the rest. I couldn't think of a relevant lyric so I went with this. Which is still kinda a Falling In Reverse reference in a way, albeit convolutedly. If Arlo has gone past edgy, he's fallen off. And if he improves his state, one could say afterwards, he fell in reverse. The title was originally going to spell that out, but it felt too long, so "Over The Edge" it is.
Arlo had been on a bit of a downward spiral ever since Go Fest 2019, and especially since Johto Tour. And by "a bit of a downward spiral", I mean "closed himself into his room, dedicated himself solely to his research, has been blasting the 2008 Myspace Autoplay Mix at maximum volume nearly constantly, and has been wasting away into an emaciated shadow of his former self driven solely by vengeance." Even more than he usually did. Which was a lot, seeing as said aforementioned emo vengeance was the only reason he joined Team GO Rocket to begin with. After months of hearing the same albums on repeat to the point that they'd invaded my dreams, I decided to do something about it. After he didn't respond to meeting requests for over a month, I resorted to the tried and true method of standing in front of his door and threatening to burn it down with Houndoom if he didn't open it. Which I ended up texting to him because he couldn't hear me yelling at him over whatever amalgam of angsty men with squeaky voices whinily describing their exes, distorted guitar riffs that used a maximum of 3 chords, and screaming he was listening to at the moment. The man who opened the door was not the Pokemon expert we had hired, but he wasn't when we had initially hired him either.
"Oh. Hey, Sierra. Why are you here? Is there an event going on? Are the team leaders seeking revenge over Apex Shadow Ho-Oh and Lugia? Please tell me they're seeking revenge. I worked so hard on them!"
His bright red eyes, rendered even redder by the shoots of blood running through them courtesy of weeks of minimal sleep and some combination of heavy dark circles and eyeliner, were darting around the room, likely due to the effects of the truly alarming number of only mostly empty cans of Mountain Dew Code Red scattered around the floor. His standard baggy black hoodie appeared to swallow him whole and based on the smell, he hadn't changed or showered in weeks and was unsuccessfully attempting to cover the scent with body spray. I stood in the doorway, unable to advance due to piles of dirty laundry and stolen Pokeballs that had also likely been lying on the floor for months.
"What. Are. You. Doing."
"I've been working on a new schematic for an even better, cooler Shadow Pokemon that's going to absolutely send Candela into hysterics! I'm calling it 'Pokemon XD'; I'm thinking if we start with the team leaders' beloved legendary birds we can—"
"Stop talking." I physically reached out a finger and placed it over his mouth, much to his consternation.
"Uh, Giovanni would LOVE these plans...if I ever sent them to him, which I'm not going to do until they're perfected! Mostly because I'm going to need a lot more funding to actually implement them."
"Look, Arlo, as much as we appreciate your recent work, you have been on the ball with that lately, you've also been in the process of melting into a puddle of eyeliner, caffeine, and body spray for months, after your continued degeneration into emo-itude starting in 2019."
"And why do you care about that? You told us in our last briefing that the number one motto was 'Team GO Rocket doesn't give a shit about your personal life.' I still think the 'prepare for trouble' bit is catchier, but whatever."
"You are absolutely right that Team GO Rocket doesn't give a shit about your personal life, and I don't either. But I do give a shit about being assaulted in all of my senses for the greater part of 3 fucking months. You seem to have forgotten that I live in the room next to you and would like to sleep at some point."
"And what are you going to do about that? Call the RA?"
"No, but I am going to give you an assignment as head of this unit." I smirked upon being able to flex my position upon the truly pathetic man before me. "You need to get laid."
"Is...that an order?"
"Yes. I don't care with whom. Just...get yourself out of HQ so we can get the smell out before it sinks into the walls and I need to explain it during our next performance review. Find someone to get your mind off Candela before you suffocate us."
"Ok. Sure. Whatever."
"Also, I want to see factual proof. Don't go making up some 'online contact'; you need to get out of here and go on at least one date, which had better end with your mouth on someone's—"
"Okay, you have made yourself clear!"
Arlo looked around his room, contemplating a viable course of action. Sure, Sierra may have wanted him to "take his mind off Candela", but he knew that was never going to happen. She had taken what was rightfully his and also broken his heart; she needed to pay. Or realize how great of a guy he was and join him on Team GO Rocket so he could show up Sierra and they could be adorable and listen to My Chemical Romance, whatever was more likely. He knew that the best way to get an ex to come back was for them to see you with another girl. And what would likely be even better would be for Candela to see him with a guy, leading her to draw the conclusion that he had abandoned her whole gender and compelling her to attempt to win him back on behalf of her approximate half of the population. And if he dated one of her coworkers, she'd be forced to be aware of his plans! It was foolproof. Exactly the kind of tactic an evil mastermind, such as himself, would come up with. Now he just needed to find his mark.
Spark logged nearly everything to his Instagram, or rather, "Instinctgram", as he called it. Arlo groaned at the pun whenever he saw it, but his following of the Team Instinct leader from a fake account allowed him to determine their approximate location at nearly any given point, seeing as Spark appeared to crave attention from absolutely any source so everything from cute things his Pokemon did to what he was eating for lunch that day required posting. According to Spark, he would be out going on a run to hatch some eggs in the woods behind a nearby park, joined by his trademark Elekid, which should not have been able to defeat Sierra's Houndoom back in '19, but anyway, the mark had been located. Arlo had basically already succeeded; after all, who could resist such a brilliant mind and beautiful man as himself?
"Hi, do you like guys? I don't know if you've noticed, but I am one!" The Go Rocket leader proceeded to cover his mouth, unable to believe such an inelegant statement had emerged from it.
"Uh...hello to you too, Arlo. Neither Candela nor any Pokestops are here. Why are you?" Spark turned toward him, his Luxray letting out a low growl punctuated by flickering static electricity. "If this is some sort of trap, I'm not in the mood. I've got preparations for this year's Go Fest and ultra bonus to deal with."
"No, nothing at all! I was just...wondering if you'd like to...do something tonight. I will pay for whatever it happens to be."
Spark's eyes widened before he blinked several times in short succession. "Excuse me? Could you repeat that? I want to make sure I'm hearing what I think I am."
"I would like to go on a date. With you. Tonight."
The Instinct leader smiled before letting out a brief chuckle. "Well, someone's being a bit forward, aren't they?" Arlo watched his chest move underneath that idiotic combination of a vest and an outer jacket. He didn't talk about it as much as Candela, but based on the few shirtless pictures on his Instinctgram, Spark was stronger than he looked. They probably couldn't bench-press Arlo, but could pick him up and carry him on his shoulders if he so desired. Just hypothetically speaking.
"Uh...is that a yes?"
"I am available tonight, yes, but I'd like to know more context before I agree. Nothing Team GO Rocket-related is going to happen, right? Although this is a new tactic for y'all, props for creativity."
"Uh, no. This is entirely for personal reasons."
"Also, since when do you like guys? Do you, actually?"
"Not sure. Want to find out?"
"I can't argue with that answer. But did you honestly think I'd say yes? You've repeatedly antagonized my fellow team leaders and I do find your whole arrogance schtick annoying. It's refreshing to see you showing some vulnerability. Keep that up, it's cute. You'll find a new partner in no time by being a little less...you, for lack of a better word." Spark continued to look him over. Arlo contemplated how fast he could escape. If he climbed a tree...
"Look, it's not because I'm actually into you, okay?"
"...then why are you asking me out?"
"Uh...Sierra assigned me to get laid..."
"Wait, what? Number 1, since when is she your superior, and Number 2, I don't think she can order you to do that."
"She got promoted to the head of our unit after our last performance review. Giovanni realized she was the only one who actually knew what she was doing. And also, it might not be exactly protocol, but who am I going to tell? I don't think Team Rocket has a human resources department! And she is right. I do need to get my mind off of Candela and get out of HQ for a bit. If I didn't agree with her, I wouldn't be here. I'm my own man! I don't mindlessly take orders!"
Spark smirked, an expression that Arlo didn't realize he was capable of. "And yet you're on Team Rocket."
"Uh, well..." The Go Rocket leader's face flushed, which he hoped Spark didn't see. He adjusted his glasses in an attempt to keep his cool. "Well, don't you take all your orders from that professor of yours who barely does anything? I heard he spent nearly the entire Season of Alola doing literally nothing!"
Spark laughed at that, a sound that came out remarkably deep as compared to his speaking voice. "You've got me there. I'll tell you what. We can go get dinner, just as two guys being dudes. You're a pretty interesting guy in your own right and to be honest, I feel that us antagonizing each other is stupid. You're probably only on Team Rocket because you couldn't think of anywhere else to go and you're really just fucked up grad students like us, right? I really wouldn't mind getting to know you better."
"You...are aware of what 'guys being dudes' means as a meme, right?"
"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not." He turned towards Arlo and winked, which raised up feelings in the Go Rocket leader's stomach that he preferred to avoid describing. It'd be great. It would piss off Sierra and get Candela to realize what she was missing out on. It would get him exactly what he wanted. It was the perfect evil plan! Hell, maybe he could convert Spark, too. He did like the guy's aesthetic, the gratuitous buckles and spiky hair was pretty nice.
"Attention, all Team Go Rocket personnel! I, your esteemed leader Arlo, have a date tonight!"
He stepped out of the communications room to be faced with a rather unamused-looking Sierra. "Did you really need to use the intercom for this?"
"Well? Don't you want to know with whom I have my date?"
"Not really, no. Have fun."
"Well...for your information, he's a wonderful man! And I think you're all going to absolutely freak when you find out who, but I'm not telling you so you'll just have to leave it to suspense! Muhahahaha! I'm going to go get ready!" He stormed off towards his room and proceeded to rummage through his drawers before awkwardly returning to Sierra. "Uh, have you seen my binder?"
"It's in the dryer with the rest of your laundry. By the way, I am neither your maid nor your mother. If you make me do your laundry again, I will kill you."
"You're speaking hyperbolically, right?"
"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not."
Arlo walked down to the laundry room, humming to himself. This was it. His plan was coming to fruition. He'd win back Candela, maybe convert one of her colleagues, and would look absolutely gorgeous for his date tonight. On his way back, he intercepted Cliff, who was puzzling through the manual for the microwave to figure out why his leftovers hadn't properly reheated. The heavy-set man turned toward him, towering over him before crouching down to ruffle his hair.
"Hey, little dude! Heard about your date tonight. So, who's the lucky guy? Or girl or enby or whatever?"
"OK, so don't tell Sierra this, but you know that dude who she always rants about how immature he is and how he doesn't understand the true cruelty of the world?"
"No. You don't mean—"
"I do. She and Candela are both going to freak!" He made a little fist pump of determination, something that he'd picked up from Candela back when they were together.
"Well, best of luck! I send my blessings to y'all!"
He returned to his room and looked over himself in the mirror, smirking upon seeing the possibilities. He looked hot as all get out and was about to crush Candela's poor little Valor world. He was the strongest, coolest trainer and all around best catch he knew. Really, he was way out of Spark's league, but the Instinct leader seemed nice enough. They might have potential under Arlo's brilliant guidance. He then proceeded to pull out his phone and find somewhere to make reservations for that night; he knew of several nearby restaurants with enough Team Rocket connections that he could probably...squeeze out a discount.
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