“Is that sales guy looking over here?”
Genos turned his head in the opposite direction, carefully scanning the area.
“No, Sensei. He appears to be helping another customer. Shall I go retrieve him for you?”
“No!”, Saitama whisper-shouted, his finger going to his lips on a ‘Shh’ gesture. “I want to test these mattresses out, but I don’t want that guy to see me. Sometimes they get picky about stuff like this.”
“Ah. Understood, Sensei. Then I shall stand guard.”
Saitama shook his head as he flopped down on one of the thick padded mattresses. “We’ll just have to chance being caught, Genos, because YOU’RE testing them with me,” he told him, gesturing with his hand for Genos to join him.
Genos nodded, still a bit confused in his mind as to why this whole thing was necessary.
It had all started earlier this morning, as Genos was going about his daily cleaning tasks. Saitama had been watching the news, and he happened to look up as Genos was neatly rolling up his sleeping bag.
“What is that?”, Saitama asked him, pointing.
“It is my sleeping bag, Sensei.”
Saitama sat up straighter, clicking off the news and giving Genos his full attention.
“Sleeping bag? You sleep?”
It wasn’t really surprising to Genos that Saitama had never noticed that he slept, before. In Genos’ mind, his Sensei had far more important matters to worry about. Also, Saitama always went to sleep before Genos himself did, and he slept through the night without interruption. Genos’ cyborg body did not require the same amount of rest as Saitama, so he was always awake and moving around long before Saitama opened his eyes.
So he had briefly explained to Saitama, about how Dr. Kuseno had equipped him with the ability to sleep, only to be interrupted by Saitama standing up and stretching.
“You should have told me that sooner,” Saitama said, yawning as he went to the little closet by the front door. He selected a hooded sweatshirt and shrugged it over his head, his voice temporarily muffled as he continued, “This isn’t good.”
“What isn’t good, Sensei?”
“You sleeping in a sleeping bag.”
“It is alright, Sensei. I do not mind.”
Saitama found his sandals in the closet and slid his feet into them one at a time.
“Well, I mind, okay? A sleeping bag makes it seem like you’re camping here or something, and that’s not the case. So put your shoes on; we’re going to go buy you a proper mattress.”
“Genos,” Saitama began, suddenly slipping into his ‘serious’ voice, “You may think that there isn’t a difference between a sleeping bag and a mattress, but there is. One suggests a temporary situation, one suggests a permanent one. A mattress is more than a mattress; it’s a symbol, that you have a place to lay your head down at night. A home. This isn’t some place you’re visiting, this is your home. Understand?”
“Yes, Sensei!”, Genos agreed, quickly taking out his notebook to write down the words of wisdom Saitama had just bestowed upon him.
“Good,” Saitama said, heading out the door. “Now lets go.”
And here they stood now, in a mattress outlet store in the shopping district of City Z. Saitama had been pleased to discover that the store was having a terrific sale on all extra-large mattresses, and he had asked Genos if he would mind sharing one, rather than the two of them having separate beds.
“I’ve never seen mattresses THIS big for so cheap before,” Saitama explained, as he sank deeply into another one. “It’ll be big enough so that we’ll both have lots of room to move without being in each others’ personal space, it’s easily foldable, plus with the money we save we can each get a couple of new pillows as well.”
“I do not mind sharing, Sensei. However, even though these are on sale, they are still fairly costly.”
“Don’t worry about cost, okay?”, Saitama said, waving his hand as if the matter was unimportant. “I took out like 10 monsters yesterday alone, one of which was a dragon-level threat. And I stuck around to make sure my kills were verified, so, we can afford this.”
About half an hour later found them walking out of the store with a mattress that Saitama deemed “a plush heaven”, along with two pillows apiece, and even a new thick blanket for Genos.
While Genos was pleased that Saitama seemed to care so much, he also felt somewhat guilty. Saitama treated him so much as though he were simply a normal human, as though he needed the same things that Saitama himself did. In truth, Genos didn’t really need this huge mattress, or these blankets and pillows; he would function the same way even if he had been sleeping while standing in a corner all night.
And that wasn’t the only matter Saitama seemed to overlook.
“Let’s take this stuff home,” Saitama said now, hoisting his end of the mattress as they walked along, “And then go back out to the market. Beef is on sale today, and sukiyaki sounds good to me tonight. Does it sound good to you?”
“Yes, Sensei,” Genos replied. But again, in truth, Genos really had no specific likes or dislikes when it came to food. Dr. Kuseno had given him the sensation of taste, and his body turned organic intake into biofuel ... but he didn’t NEED to eat to live, as Saitama did. Yet Saitama always included him in meal plans, and asked for his input on different foods.
Still, though, despite Genos’ misgivings, Saitama’s treatment of him made Genos feel ... good. Everybody who saw him, when he was out walking the streets, when he was fighting monsters; they simply viewed him as a cyborg, or the newest S-class hero. Those who were enemies called him things like scrap metal, hunk of junk, robot, trash container, and the like. But to Saitama, he seemed simply to be, Genos. A person. A person who ate, bathed, walked and slept like any other person roaming through the world.
“Genos? Oi, Genos, be careful!”, Saitama said, and Genos realized that he had been daydreaming and had let his end of the mattress slip down far enough to almost touch the ground. He quickly righted it, mumbling a “Sorry, Sensei”; and the two continued on towards the apartment.
Several days later, Genos and Saitama were in the apartment, relaxing. Saitama had just returned from buying a bunch of discounted video games at the market, and was looking carefully through them, trying to decide which one to play first. Genos, having finished his cleaning chores, was on his laptop, researching the data on these new parts he was thinking of asking Dr. Kuseno to fit him with.
A low whirring sound coming through the open window caught both their ears, and Genos, looking outside, had verified it to be the drone that delivered their mail from the Hero Association.
Saitama didn’t really pay much attention to this, as Genos went outside to retrieve the large crate. Saitama hardly ever got anything; most of the time, it was just stacks upon stacks of fan-mail for Genos. So he sat quietly, still looking over his games as Genos sorted through the pile of letters.
One letter he looked at carefully, opening it up and scanning through it. Saitama looked up as Genos did this; most of the time, Genos never read his fan mail, he just sorted it into neat stacks according to the color of the envelope. But Saitama could see that this letter was a plain white envelope, with formal handwriting: it was from the Association.
“What’s that?”, Saitama asked him. “You get fired or something?”
“No, Sensei. It is an invitation to a celebratory evening of food and music that the Association is holding for S-class heroes in City B.”
“What? You mean like a party?”
“Yes, Sensei. Apparently it is to thank us for our work in City M last month, during the sky monster rampage. It is being held tomorrow night. Would Sensei be interested in accompanying me? The invitation specified that one is allowed to bring a guest.”
“Eh, I don’t know. Sounds kinda boring. And anyway shouldn’t you be asking a girl or something?”
“A ... girl, Sensei?”
Saitama nodded, switching on the PSP he had ‘borrowed’ from King.
“Yeah. You know, a girl. If it’s going to be a fancy party, wouldn’t you want to bring a date?”
Genos was quiet for awhile, and Saitama, engrossed in his game, didn’t really notice the silence. When Genos spoke again, it was out of nowhere, and it startled Saitama.
“Surely you don’t mean to imply that I should procure the company of a female for a ... a romantic purpose?”
Saitama glanced up at him, and smiled a bit at how serious Genos’ face had become.
“That’s exactly what I mean, Genos. You know, a date. After all, you’re still a young man.”
“But I am not like other young men, Sensei. I have many artificial parts, and —“
“No, no, no,” Saitama interrupted him, shaking his head. “Nothing to do with parts, Genos. Look, I have an assignment for you, okay? I want you to go to this thing with a girl. I want you to go, and have fun. That’s your goal for the week.”
Another spell of silence, and then: “But Sensei, I do not believe I know of any females for this objective.”
Saitama sighed and switched off the game, rubbing his hands over his eyes.
“How many fan clubs do you have again? How many WOMEN in these fan clubs? Why not just choose one from one of the letters you got? I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.”
“Or, yeah, that might be a little weird, huh? Ah, I know! I know just the one! Okay, Genos; leave it all to me. I’ll call her up right now. In the meantime, I want you to go out and buy something new to wear. Something nice. Then when you come back we’ll begin training preparations.”
“Mm. A lot more goes into a good first date than you’d think. Now go on, get out of here.”
The next day, early afternoon, found Genos freshly bathed, hair washed and combed, and decked out in a sleek black and gray suit. It fit him beautifully; the seamstress had even been able to make quick alterations to the sleeves, so that they’d fit over Genos’ large arms.
“Okay, you look good, man. Do you feel good? Confident and all that?”
Genos nodded. “I am confident that Sensei’s training will ensure a pleasant evening for all parties involved.”
The ‘training’ he referred to, was really nothing more than Saitama having a long, detailed talk with him about how to treat a woman on a date. Because Genos was the type who took things seriously, Saitama had even gone to the trouble of drawing up pictures for things like holding the door open, bringing the woman a drink, dancing, and more.
“One thing about you, Genos; I noticed that sometimes you have trouble holding a normal conversation. If you find that’s the case tonight, remember, there is nothing wrong with sitting back and listening, to what she has to say. Women like that, actually, to be quietly listened to.”
“Yes, Sensei. I will not let you down!”
“Don’t worry about ME, worry about YOU. Try and have fun. Okay?”
A knock on the door interrupted, and Saitama went to answer it, smiling.
A tight, form-fitting red dress that accentuated chest and hips. Simple jewelry brandished in just the right places, to lend a subtle sparkle to her fair skin. Short hair pulled back into a stylish bun.
Fubuki was someone who could be a bit difficult to deal with, sometimes. On the one hand, there was no denying that she was quite a beautiful, sensuous person. Heads turned, eyes followed her wherever she went. But on the other, she had her sister Tornado’s arrogance merged with a massive inferiority complex, making her sometimes difficult to reason with.
She had been after Saitama to join her faction, the Fubuki Group, for months. For agreeing to this evening, Saitama had to promise her that he’d make a special trip into D City, which was where her headquarters resided, to more fully hear out her position. He had already made up his mind that he wasn’t joining, of course, but no reason for her to know that now.
Saitama figured that she’d be the best person for Genos to spend this evening with. It would be less awkward, considering they already knew each other. And Fubuki has a kind of subtle, childlike playfulness that Saitama hoped would rub off on Genos just a bit.
Also, he knew that Fubuki couldn’t turn this evening down even if she’d wanted to. She was forever trying to rub shoulders with the ‘elite’ in the hero world, to make ‘friends’ with more S-classes and hopefully expand her group through the upper echelons. Through Saitama, she was now acquainted with King and Silver Fang; but these two kept to themselves and therefore would not help her reach her goals. Her sister Tornado blatantly refused to bring Fubuki along with her to any S-class events, so she had to find some way in. What better opportunity to network than a party ... with her date being the well-liked, handsome Demon Cyborg?
The two were going to be taking Fubuki’s chauffeured car into City B, which is why she was here to pick him up, rather than the other way around.
Genos, upon seeing her, immediately put his ‘training’ into effect.
“It is an honor to be accompanied by such a stunning woman, Miss Fubuki,” he said, taking her hand and kissing it.
Fubuki blushed, and Saitama could see that she hadn’t been expecting that. He could also see, with the way Fubuki’s eyes widened and roamed over Genos’ suit, that she hadn’t quite expected him to look that good, either.
Maybe this had been a good idea, after all.
“Ah, thank you. We’d better be leaving then, so we’re not late.”
“You two have fun,” Saitama said, cheerfully waving them out the door.
When they were gone, Saitama settled down in front of the tv, intending to play games until Genos came back.
At least, that’s what he started out as doing. But very quickly, he found it hard to concentrate; and before long, he found himself continually staring at the door, waiting for Genos to come back (even though Saitama knew that he wouldn’t be home for quite awhile yet).
I should have just gone with him, Saitama thought to himself, as he wandered to his refrigerator to get a snack. He would have had more fun with me than with that snooty mafia girl.
Yet even as he had the thought, Saitama fiercely scolded himself. Genos NEEDED this; he needed to go out and socialize with people who weren’t Saitama. To try and carve out a niche, an identity for himself that had nothing to do with his precious Sensei.
Ah ... that may be true, but; why did it feel like a knife was sticking into my chest, watching them leave? Genos had his hand on Fubuki’s arm, like I taught him ... but why did seeing that hurt?
“Do you know what this is?”, Saitama asked himself, speaking out-loud. “All of these ‘feelings’ are just indigestion. Jeez; looks like Genos was right, about not eating spicy snacks like this before bed.”
So Saitama put the food away and went back to his games, intending to focus on them, and ONLY them, for the rest of the evening. Them, and NOT the door.
He succeeded — for a while.
“So ... did you have fun?”
It was about 4 hours later, just a little after midnight, and Genos had arrived back home. Saitama noted with amusement that Genos, for the first time since Saitama had met him, seemed (and looked) tired. Hopefully, that meant that he had had such a good time that he was worn out from it all.
Genos hesitated before answering, and then said, slowly, “I am not entirely sure, Sensei.”
Genos sat down on his side of their mattress, which Saitama had already set up, and began undoing the strings on his fancy shoes.
“I was able to put your training into effect on the way there, Sensei. I sat back and quietly listened to her speak. Fubuki speaks a LOT, so I had ample opportunity to practice.”
Saitama chuckled at that; he knew all too well, how the lady liked to talk.
“Sounds good so far. Then what?”
“We arrived at the destination in City B. I escorted her inside. All of the class S heroes were there, except for Blast, Tatsumaki, and Metal Knight. Everyone was engaged in a mix of talking, eating, or dancing.”
“Sounds good so far.”
Genos nodded. “I took Fubuki around and I introduced her to the S-class heroes with whom she was unfamiliar, as per your instructions, Sensei. I also engaged her in approximately 3 dances, and brought her two and a half glasses of punch.”
“Good! How was that for you, dancing?”
Genos lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “To be honest, I find it uncomfortable. Holding another person that closely did not give me any sort of special feeling.”
Funny ... I bet at least half of the men in that room would have died to have their hands around a body as thick of mafia girl’s. Dammit, Genos; I was hoping that you’d like it, too!
“I see. So what else happened?”
“Well, Master, about an hour into our evening, Terrible Tornado made her appearance. At first she did not see her sister, but when she did, she came directly to us. She did not seem pleased to see Fubuki.”
“Yeah ... those two don’t exactly get along, so they?”
“No. They do not. Fubuki, unfortunately, got into an argument with Tatsumaki. They engaged in a contest to see who could consume the most alcohol. I am not positive to whom the victory went, however, as both of them needed to be carried out and back home.”
Saitama, unable to help it, barked out a short laugh, at this.
“Tatsumaki had to be carried?”
“Yes, Sensei. She would only allow Silverfang to do so, as she stated that he was the only one she trusted not to do anything ‘perverted’ with their hands. However, before he got her out the door, she vomited on the top of his head.”
Saitama started to laugh, hard, shaking his head. “They actually let that spoiled child drink? Sounds really irresponsible.”
“Saitama-Sensei, you are aware that Tatsumaki is 28 years of age, yes?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But ok, up until that point, how did you feel that this evening went for you?”
“Again, I am not sure, Sensei.”
“I followed your training perfectly. I engaged in formal dancing, I brought her food, I listened to her speak.”
“I am sorry, Sensei,” Genos said, bowing his head in shame. “While I followed your training guidelines, I did not achieve your goal for me of ‘having fun’ for the evening.”
Saitama sighed, feeling a bit dejected. He had truly been hoping that tonight would help bring Genos out of his shell a bit, and introduce him to the more entertaining aspects of life, rather than the cyborg’s habit of being in what seemed like perpetual battle mode. Also, way in the back of his mind, Saitama felt a bit guilty. After all, he had more or less forced Genos into this situation where he was clearly uncomfortable, and now it turned out he had had a somewhat unpleasant time.
“I’m sorry, Genos,” Saitama said, quietly. “I guess this wasn’t one of my better ideas.”
“Agreed, Sensei,” Genos said, standing and heading into the bathroom, to wash up and change his clothes for the evening, “I would have been happier if YOU had accompanied me.”
Later that night, and Saitama couldn’t sleep.
Which was funny; this new mattress of theirs was the most comfortable that Saitama had ever had before. Soft, lush, and firm in just the right places.
But Saitama’s mind was racing so much that it wasn’t allowing him to enjoy it.
He sighed and turned himself over ... and was a bit startled, to find himself face to face with Genos.
This was actually the second or third time that this had happened; the mattress was, of course, huge. At least several people could fit in-between them. Yet a couple of times now, during the course of the night, Genos had somehow rolled over so far that he was right up against Saitama, arm to arm, just barely keeping from touching him.
Saitama watched him, the slow, even breathing, the furrowed brow. Even ‘asleep’, Genos’ face had the expression of one solving a complicated math problem.
Slowly, without really thinking about it, Saitama reached out and gently smoothed back of lock of Genos’ blonde hair, that had been hanging over his eyebrow.
“You’re so beautiful,” Saitama said in a low voice, not even fully aware that he was speaking out loud. However, once the words left his lips, he froze in mild horror.
What are you even thinking??, he asked himself in a panic, quickly turning back over so that he wasn’t facing the cyborg anymore. Genos is ... and you don’t even like ...
“Saitama - Sensei.”
Saitama’s heart stopped; shit. Had Genos felt Saitama touch his hair? Had he heard what Saitama said?
God ... what was he gonna think?
Saitama turned around once more, to face him, to offer some kind of explanation for his actions ...
... but Genos was still asleep.
Shit ... did I just imagine that he said my name? I really AM tired. I need to try and sleep before —
Saitama’s eyes widened. Genos ... was talking in his sleep??
Saitama had had no idea that such a thing was even possible. Did that mean that Genos had the ability to dream, as well?
Did it mean that he was dreaming of Saitama, right now?
As if in answer to his question, Genos surprised him by suddenly moving over even closer, putting his arms around him, and murmuring, in a dream-like voice, one word:
Saitama was at a loss for what to do. Should he gently push Genos off of him? Should he shake him awake and tell him to move back to his own side of the mattress?
And did Saitama WANT Genos to move?
Because his strong arms around him felt good. Just as his soft breathing against Saitama’s neck felt good, just as hearing Genos speak his name felt good.
So, despite his fear and misgivings over the situation, Saitama simply closed his eyes, and let Genos continue to hold him, as he finally drifted off to sleep.
I’ll think more clearly after I’ve gotten some rest, was his last thought, before he went out.
Waking up the next morning was the same as usual.
Genos had been up and moving around long before Saitama. He had folded up his blankets on his side of the mattress, straightened up the room, and made breakfast.
“Good morning, Sensei,” he said, when seeing that Saitama was awake. “I have prepared Sensei his eggs, bread and fruit, before his morning exercise routine.”
Saitama stood up and stretched, wondering to himself whether last night had just been a dream.
He walked into the kitchen and took the plate that Genos was holding out for him.
“Thank you,” he said, quietly. “You’re eating something too, right?”
Genos shook his head, turning on the water in the sink to begin washing dishes. “It is not necessary at this time, Sensei.”
“Well, turn that off and come in here, please, and sit by me. I want to talk to you.”
“But the dishes —“
“They can wait. No, better yet, I’LL do them. Now come sit.”
Genos slowly turned off the sink and came to sit, kneeling across the small table from him. “What is the matter, Sensei? Is my dishwashing unsatisfactory to you?”
“No, no! Nothing to do with the dishes, okay? It’s just ... you do so much for me. A lot. I can do the dishes once in a while. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.”
He paused, then took a bite of his eggs. It was deliciously, perfectly seasoned as usual, but Saitama was so nervous that he didn’t have much of an appetite.
“Genos,” he began, slowly. “First of all, I want to apologize for last night. I feel like I forced you into taking Fubuki to that party thing, and I made a mistake. You shouldn’t be made to do stuff just because I feel like you should do stuff. So I’m sorry.”
“It is alright, Sensei. I —“
“That’s my second point. I really don’t want you calling me Sensei anymore. I will go on being your mentor, and teach you or give you advice on anything you want to know. But from now on, I’d really like it if you just called me Saitama.”
Genos nodded, looking surprised and ... pleased? Just a tiny bit? Was Saitama reading that right?
“Very well, Saitama.”
“Okay. Lastly. Coming back to Fubuki, the reason I wanted you to go with her so bad was because I wanted out to know the fun of being on a date. But you didn’t have fun. So ... ah, well, I’d like to make that up to you. So today ... would you like to go on a ... o-on a date, with me?”
Saitama’s face was entirely flushed, and he hoped that he wouldn’t look too much like an idiot. And he was afraid to look up, because he had no idea what Genos’ reaction would be to this.
“I would like nothing more than that, Saitama.”
Now Saitama looked up quickly, positive that he had heard incorrectly. But Genos was smiling ... and was that a very faint tinge of pink in HIS cheeks, as well?
Another shock; Genos stood up, walked over to Saitama, leaned down, and hugged him. It was that same lovely, comforted feeling that had spread over Saitama when Genos had done this in his sleep last night ... except this time it was much, MUCH stronger. Because Genos was awake, and fully, 100% aware of what he was doing.
When he let go, Saitama could have melted into a puddle on the floor, he was so happy.
“Okay,” he said, trying to keep his voice calmer than he felt. “I’ll finish eating, then, while you go and get ready. And be thinking of what you want to do; whatever you want, wherever you want to go, I’ll make it happen.”
Genos nodded, smiled again, and went off into the bathroom, to prepare for the day.
So Saitama hurriedly picked up his plate and quickly ate the rest of his food, so that he could do the same.