Six Days the Animorphs Were Idiots
The Day Tobias Had a Date: Part One
Ax stepped into the stream. The sun was directly overhead, and his internal clock told him that it was almost exactly noon. His stalk eyes, always watching for danger, spotted movement. It was just Tobias, though, and Ax relaxed as the red-tailed hawk alighted on a branch.
<No bug fighter today?> asked Tobias.
<No,> said Ax regretfully, stepping out of the water. <I have run out of materials. What is a hair straightener?>
Tobias tilted his head to the side. <Excuse me?>
<What is a hair straightener?>
<Uh. It’s like a tool girls use to keep their hair from being curly. It straightens their hair. I don’t know exactly how it works. But do you get what I mean?>
<Yes. But why?>
<I don’t know. Girls like that stuff. There’s also curling irons, which are the opposite. They make straight hair curly.>
<Humans have devices for making straight hair curl, and curled hair straight?> Ax sounded utterly baffled.
<Yeah. I guess. You’re making a face like your brain is about to explode, are you okay?>
<Do Cassie and Rachel use these devices?>
<I dunno. I’m pretty sure Cassie doesn’t. Rachel might. Why are we talking about hair straighteners?>
<Marco has advised me to purchase large quantities of hair straighteners to obtain the titanium that I need, as Jake has forbidden me from attempting to refine it myself.>
<Marco is an idiot. Why won’t Jake let you do it your way?>
<I am not certain. He said something about burning the entire forest down. I didn’t even get to explain thermite reduction to him.>
<Andalite schools must be completely insane.>
<Actually, that reminds me. Ax?>
<What do Andalites do when they like someone?>
Ax looked up at Tobias’ branch with all four eyes. <I do not understand.>
<I mean, like, if there was a girl that you liked, and you wanted to get her attention, what would you do?>
<It’s not something weird, is it? You don’t challenge them to single combat or something, do you?> Tobias shifted from foot to foot anxiously.
<Of course not,> said Ax, sounding a bit offended. <To challenge a female would be highly dishonorable. Besides, females do not have true tail-blades.>
<Really?> Tobias sounded shocked.
<Well, they’re smaller. Not at all suitable for fighting.>
<Oh man, Rachel’s gonna be mad when she hears that. She’s been ranting about all the people she’s going to slice up once she gets an Andalite morph. I think she has a vision of being a big powerful War-Princess and beating Visser Three in a duel or something.>
<Forgive me,> said Ax, <but what, precisely, is a War-Princess?>
<You know, like a War-Prince but a girl.>
Ax laughed because he was fairly certain his friend was making a strange human joke. <A female Prince?>
<What’s so funny about that? Rachel would kick your ass if she heard you laughing. Are girls not allowed to be Princes? Princesses? >
<I do not believe there has ever been a female Prince,> said Ax. He began to walk down the familiar winding paths of the nature preserve. Tobias took to the air to follow him. <Females are not suited for military life.>
<Sorry, have you met Rachel?>
Ax tilted his head to concede this point. <Human females appear to be far more vicious than Andalites.>
<Come on, you can’t make a generalization like that.>
<If Rachel wants an Andalite morph, she could always acquire a male, assuming she found someone who would consent to it,> said Ax, deciding to change the subject. <Her primary battle morph is male, isn’t it?>
<Yeah. I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, I know some people would probably be really weirded out by morphing something that was the opposite gender, but I guess we’ve never been in a position to be picky, right?>
<Tobias, may I ask what this is all about?>
<Well, I was thinking, if Visser One and Visser Three can go on a date, why can’t me and Rachel?>
<I do not feel that your situations are at all analogous.>
<Come on, Ax, work with me!> Tobias sounded a bit desperate.
<I must admit, I do not understand what you want me to say.>
If Tobias had owned hands, he’d have been waving them in the air. <I need advice! I don’t know what to do! This hawk body wants to fly around her in circles screeching and I don’t feel like that’s a good idea but it’s pretty much all I’ve got so help!>
Ax chose his words carefully. <I do not have any firsthand information on human courtship rituals, and I have reason to believe that your television programs, while enjoyable, do not give practical advice. That being said, I believe that Rachel enjoys your company just as you do hers, and you should not fear rejection.>
<Are you sure?>
<You already spend much of your free time with her, do you not?> said Ax in the tone of one who believes he is being very patient.
<Yeah, but that’s just, you know, homework and hanging out and stuff. Actually going out and doing something in public is different.>
<Are you different in public then you are in private?>
<Well, I’m a bird when I’m not in public, so I’d say yes.>
<That is not what I meant.>
<I know that, but it’s still true,> said Tobias glumly. <I’ve practically forgotten what being a human is even like. And when she tries to hug me? Forget about it. My brain just goes, ‘Aah! No! I’ve been caught in a trap!’ And then I try to fly away.>
<I see,> said Ax.
<Yeah. So. What do you think I should do?>
<I think you should postpone your romantic enterprises until the war is over.>
<I don't want to do that! I mean, you’re probably right, but...what if we die tomorrow?> Tobias went quiet for a few minutes, and Ax walked along in silence, listening to the calling of birds and rustle of branches.
<I had another question about Andalite girls, actually,> said Tobias after a little while.
<What is it?>
<You’re mammals, right?>
<And, uh, you don’t wear clothes, right?>
<So, uh, how does that work out?>
<What do you mean?>
<You know. With girls and not wearing shirts.>
<I do not understand what you are asking.>
<Never mind,> said Tobias. <I don’t think I really wanted to know the answer anyway.>
* * *
When Rachel left the King house that afternoon, she was a little surprised to find Tobias waiting for her. It wasn’t his presence that surprised her (he was always around nearby somewhere) but the fact that he was in human morph.
“How did it go?” asked Tobias. Rachel shrugged. She’d been mad all day that she’d missed last night’s misadventure, but ranting about it to Mr. King had made her feel a bit better, not that she’d ever admit it.
“Who cares? It’s dumb. What’s up? Why are you a human?”
Tobias shrugged. “I dunno. I was wondering…I dunno. If you want to go. I dunno. Do. I dunno. Something. Food. Maybe. Get food.”
Rachel laughed, but she was grinning. “I’d love to.”
“Really? Awesome.” Tobias looked as if a gigantic weight had just been lifted off his shoulders, and Rachel was not sure why. Did he actually think she’d say no?
“What were you thinking of?” asked Rachel.
“I’m not sure. I feel like a total jerk saying this, but I have no money.”
Luckily, Rachel found this hilarious.
“Don’t worry about money,” she said, once she’d finished laughing. “I have a great idea.”
And then she started giggling like a maniac again.
to be continued
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