Summary: Rai tries to seduce Frankenstein with Shinwoo's help. It goes exactly as well as you'd expect. (Noblesse, humor)
Given the children's continued attempts to expose Rai to modern entertainment, it was inevitable. Shinwoo and Ikhan were, after all, teenagers and naturally curious about such things. It was bound to happen eventually.
That didn't make it any less of a fiasco.
"I see," Rai said far too calmly, his expression entire unaffected as he stared at the naked bodies still gyrating across the screen. "So this is sex."
Shinwoo, who may or may not have been cuddling a couch pillow and fidgeting suspiciously, felt himself suddenly go cold. "Y-yeah," he croaked. "It's a porno, you know?"
Not that Rai seemed to care much. Shinwoo would have almost written it off as a Rai thing, but Ikhan was almost as disinterested — he had made faces as he watched for the first ten minutes or so, before giving up and simply turning back to his beloved laptop. Only the faint redness at the tips of his ears and the way he wrinkled his nose at any particularly loud moan indicated that he saw any difference between porn and a nature documentary.
(Rai... did not seem to see any difference at all.)
"The other students discuss it a lot," Rai went on. "They often speak of engaging in it with their romantic partners."
Shinwoo suddenly had a really bad feeling. And not "the Chairman found out I'm showing Rai porn and is now coming for my soul." Something worse, if possible.
"Is sex an integral part of a long-term romantic relationship between humans?" Rai asked something that really did nothing to help him pass as a fellow human being.
"Uh," Shinwoo said.
"No," Ikhan said rather quickly, as if to preempt any... accidental misleading. "Definitely not! If you both agree that you're not interested in having sex, then there's no reason to do it! Some people just aren't into that!"
Rai nodded slowly, as carefully as he did everything else. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of it. "How... do you find out?"
The actress on the screen moaned loudly. It was the only sound in the room.
Shinwoo had no one to blame but himself, and he was painfully aware of it. He would have called it karma, but no. He was a good person, on the whole. He absolutely did not deserve this.
"You... want to figure out if you should have sex with the chairman," he said slowly, making a gesture like he was setting something down onto the coffee table — something very heavy and very, very awkward.
Rai nodded. Of course. Shinwoo took a deep, calming breath because he could already tell this was going to be absurd.
"Frankenstein considers us to be in a committed relationship. That is the closest equivalent to our bond," Rai said. "That means, if he has an interest in sexual intercourse, he would not seek it elsewhere, as that would be... unfaithful. If he desires it, I don't want him to force himself into abstinence. But if I suggest that he could engage in sex with me, he may... take it as an indication that it is something he must do, regardless of his will."
Right. It was definitely absurd. As in, outside all realms of reason.
Honestly, Rai was lucky that Shinwoo — and basically everyone else who talked to him on a regular basis — had already guessed that he wasn't a normal human being. Because, otherwise, the entire "committed relationship" between a high school student and his principal would be... skeevy didn't begin to describe it.
But all of Rai's friends had already guessed he wasn't a normal human being, so Shinwoo and Ikhan, who was diligently ignoring them in favor of his computer screen, mentally rolled over that particular part of the absurdity.
(Ikhan thought he was an alien. Yuna thought he was some kind of spirit or ghost. Suyi had placed good money on psychic powers. Shinwoo had suggested he was a vampire, but the others had groaned and rolled their eyes, since that option was considered trite due to certain recent intellectual properties. Which was totally unfair, but there you go.)
Instead, Shinwoo took a moment to parse the other parts. So... Rai thought the chairman might want to get laid but wouldn't do it with anyone except Rai (because he always had Rai on the brain, even Shinwoo could tell that), and he couldn't ask because Frankenstein might take it as an order. Which... Shinwoo didn't think would be an issue, but Rai was very big on free will and not even slightly pressuring anyone emotionally.
Propping his cheek against one arm, he asked, "So... what about you? Do you want to have sex with him?" Unknowingly cutting straight to the chase, despite Rai's eternal attempts to pretend that he had no personal interests or desires.
Not that Shinwoo was judging. He wasn't blind — Frankenstein was stunning. And brilliant. And had a great voice. And, to Rai in particular, incredibly loyal. ...Which was the current issue.
Rai... closed his eyes, as if trying to pretend the situation didn't exist. There was a very cute blush spreading across his cheeks.
"I... heard that it creates a closer connection between humans," he mumbled, barely audible. "That it's a way of sharing something special."
"That's how some people feel about it, I guess," Shinwoo said. "I've only done it for fun, 'cause it feels nice."
Ikhan made a choking sound, his head snapping up toward Shinwoo. "Y-you, you had sex?!" he demanded. "Why am I only hearing about this now?"
"Well, yeah," Shinwoo said, shrugging. "This couple was getting held up downtown, and I helped them out. And they offered, so..." Closer to begging, really, but Shinwoo did have some modesty, at times. "You're not into that stuff, right? So I didn't bring it up."
He'd only invited Ikhan along on this ill-fated porn viewing adventure as moral support for Rai, in case he wasn't interested either. Ah, if only "I don't understand the point of this" was the biggest of their problems...
Ikhan made another choking sound, along with some clawing motions. "C-couple...?"
Ignoring him, Shinwoo steered them back onto the original topic — not that he particularly wanted to go back to it, but if Rai had brought it up, it must have been bothering him, and it was Shinwoo's job as his friend to help him.
(Also, Rai never forgot about things, so it would come again later otherwise. Quite likely at the least socially appropriate time. This was not a conversation Shinwoo wanted to have in front of Yuna, not in the least because he'd then have to explain that it started with him showing Rai porn and... yeah, no.)
"Anyway, if you want to see if the chairman is into you," he said, "you could try doing some... sexy stuff and seeing how he reacts. You know, seduce him a bit. If he's not into you, he won't notice."
Probably. And if he did notice, he wouldn't guess seduction right away, not when Rai did so many weird things all the time because he misinterpreted this social convention or that.
If all else failed, he could blame it on "Shinwoo told me to." Shinwoo would probably survive it. Hopefully.
The good news was that Frankenstein did not, in fact, recognize their poor attempts at seduction as such and certainly not as some oblique probing about his feelings. (It was worth noting that Shinwoo had never seduced anyone, in his entire life, and had actually missed quite a number of attempts aimed at him. In other words, he really had no business giving advice about this stuff.)
Mostly because his advice ran in the vein of "unbutton your shirt and sprawl over the couch like a pinup model." At least Rai managed to make it look good...
But the only reaction he received when Frankenstein walked in was a very blank stare.
'Is... is Master going through a rebellious phase?' he wondered distantly.
Rai sat up in a way that looked entire unnatural and borderline physically impossible for anyone with a spine not made of rubber. It was also rather off from the intended effect, since it was supposed to emphasize an ample bust that Rai simply didn't possess.
'Some strange newfangled yoga?' Frankenstein revised his guess.
After holding the pose for five count, as he had been instructed, Rai... immediately shifted back into his usual seating arrangement, back completely straight and proper. Only his still unbuttoned shirt and the way he was watching Frankenstein a little too intensely remained as proof of the bizarre scene that had just taken place.
As such, Frankenstein swiftly mentally deleted the whole thing. He probably didn't want to know.
"How was your visit to Shinwoo's, Master?" he asked instead, smiling a little too insistently to be natural.
Rai considered his answer. "Enlightening, but incomplete," he judged pensively.
That was a troubling, ominous reply, but Frankenstein only smiled, increasingly strained. "As you say, Master," he demurred. "Tea?"
A person with common sense would have stopped there, or at least learned something — and gotten help, for example. But Shinwoo hadn't gotten where he was in life (friends with a vampire-ghost-alien) by having common sense.
"Maybe we need something stronger," Shinwoo said, after the sixth failed attempt. "You know, like a sure kill technique. How about a maid—"
"No," Ikhan cut him off before he could finish. "Absolutely not."
"?" Rai wondered.
A maid? Well, Frankenstein did have a... passion for cleaning. On the other hand, he'd also started crying the last time Rai tried to make his own tea.
"No, no, you don't actually clean anything," Shinwoo assured him, crossing his arms and nodding knowingly. "It's just... acting. You just dress up like a maid, but sexy! I dunno, it's really popular."
"And I'm telling you! A maid uniform is out of the question!" Ikhan slapped him across the back of the head. "I refuse to sink to that level, and I won't let you do it either! What's next, you want to hang out a maid cafe and have pretty girls call you Master?!"
"That's awfully specific," Shinwoo said. "You want to share something? Don't be shy, we're all friends here. We won't judge... much."
"Master...?" Rai tried it out, making a face, while Ikhan attempted to strangle Shinwoo in the background.
Elsewhere, Frankenstein shuddered. Something somewhere had gone very wrong, he knew instinctively.
Frankenstein was a man of many sins, both in terms of moral lack and actions committed. He had about ten billion enemies, which was more than the human population of the planet, but he made up the difference with non-human beings of every sort and an impressive number of vengeful ghosts. If everyone who wanted to punch him in the face lined up, they would circle the globe several times.
So he couldn't claim that he didn't deserve this.
...Well, he could and he did, but the universe at large disagreed.
Still, Frankenstein wasn't some kind of monster. He wasn't an evil degenerate, he didn't bathe in the blood of the innocent or kick puppies for fun. This was simply unfair.
"Cat ears!" Frankenstein moaned to himself, head in his hands. "Why cat ears?"
Was Master hinting he wanted a cat? Or did he want to become a cat himself? Or...
But a sudden desire to transform into a feline didn't quite explain the rest of the increasingly bizarre behavior Frankenstein had been subjected to. He just couldn't figure out what this was all about. What kind of genius was he, if he couldn't even properly understand his Master's wishes? What good was he, if he couldn't immediately fulfill Raizel's every desire, as soon as it appeared in his Master's mind?
"Master, I don't deserve to live—!"
Naturally, this was the point when the door to his study, where he had hastily retreated, swung open.
Walking in to the sight of his boss and landlord sobbing pathetically into his desk, M-21 froze and stared. This was a mistake. He really should have run. But by the time he managed to unfreeze from his shock, it was too late, and a piercing, manic gaze snapped up to pin him in place.
"What is it," Frankenstein asked, his blank expression somehow more terrifying than any amount of evil cackling, "with teenagers these days?"
"Um," M-21 said. Fortunately(?), his input was not required.
"Why cat ears, of all things? Why did Shinwoo suggest that to Master?" Frankenstein went on. "Because it must be Shinwoo's idea, somehow. Master is too elegant to come up such nonsense himself, and the others have some actual common sense and decency—"
His tone grew more and more strangled with every word.
"Um," M-21 repeated, "I just came to tell you we're having hotdogs for dinner. ...It was Rai's idea." That just made it worse and more bizarre, because Rai chose ramyeon every time. Except, apparently, this time.
They stared at each other until Frankenstein visibly composed himself. "I see," Frankenstein said in an unnaturally even tone. "Thank you."
Silently, M-21 backed out and closed the door behind him. Silently on the outside, that is. There was a great deal of internal screaming.
Frankenstein may have deserved this and more, but his poor household absolutely did not.
Taking a seat across from Rai, M-21 fidgeted for a moment. His natural inclination was to avoid awkward social situations with great vigor, so he was very tempted to just let the house owner and his erstwhile master sort themselves out and pretend he knew absolutely nothing about this.
But no, Frankenstein had given him a job and stabilized his body and not killed him when they first met. M-21 owed it to him to end his suffering, or at least try.
Decision reaffirmed, he took a deep breath and said bluntly, "You're driving him crazy."
He was questionably rewarded by a twitch in Rai's usually placid expression — a very guilty twitch. "I am... aware," Rai admitted. But he wasn't going to stop, at least not yet. It would probably take another week before his natural doormat disposition wore down this bout of uncharacteristic proactiveness.
"What are you even trying to do?" M-21 grumbled, more out of annoyance than any expectation of an answer.
"I believe Shinwoo called it getting laid," Rai said mildly.
M-21 choked. "You, you think there's a chance Frankenstein would turn you down?" he wondered in helpless disbelief.
"No," Rai said, frowning, "he would not, if he believed it to be my wish — regardless of his own wishes."
That... sounded like him, M-21 admittedly with both exasperation and admiration. That deep respect for the will of others was what made M-21 and the others able to trust Rai, no matter how powerful or dangerous he was. On the other hand, that unwillingness to let others to take care of themselves led to stupid things like burning up his life on fights they could have fought in his place.
Typical Rai, through and through.
But still. "I can't believe this is all a misguided attempt to get laid," M-21 mumbled, burying his face in his hands.
Rai... might have blushed.
Unnoticed, Seira — who had started preparations for dinner in the kitchen — set down the knife, wiped her hands, and marched away.
As always, it was up to the only consistently reliable member of the household to sort out everyone else's nonsense.
M-21 and Rai were still sitting across from each other and very determinedly trying to ignore the crushing weight of embarrassment between them when Tao wandered into the living room, laptop under one arm.
He studied the scene for a moment, taking in the atmosphere, and made the executive decision to ignore it.
"Hey, guys!" he declared cheerfully, and followed it up with something completely unreasonable. "So, Miss Seira just told me to show you the video feed from Boss's office. That okay with you?"
Ah. Seira had been in the kitchen, hadn't she? Rai and M-21 simultaneously stiffened and felt cold sweat down their backs.
Having learned his lesson, M-21 didn't hesitate to jump to his feet. "Right. Good luck," he told Rai, nodding sharply and looking everywhere except the Noblesse — to better avoid any stray sympathy that might compel him to remain and provide emotional support.
And without waiting for a response, he beat a hasty retreat. In fact, he quite frankly fled.
Tao had watched the entire thing with a slowly widening grin. Having no idea of the awkwardness and oversharing and secondhand embarrassment to follow, he dropped down next to Rai on the couch and opened his laptop. "Oh man, I'm really curious now," he said, quickly pulling up the relevant camera's feed and maximizing the window.
Rai hadn't moved, and he remained stiff as a board as the image of Seira and Frankenstein in his office appeared on Tao's screen.
They were still going through pleasantries and small talk as Seira gave time for Tao to get set up. At that point, Rai still had a chance to cut and run — but unfortunately quick decision making was not one of his strengths, and the window of opportunity slammed shut like a werewolf's jaws.
Rai would have preferred the werewolf, frankly.
"So," Frankenstein said, steepling his hands and leaning forward, "I'm sure you didn't come here just for the pleasure of my company. What did you want to talk to me about?"
If Seira was embarrassed to be caught out on her uncharacteristic behavior, she gave no sign of it. Giving only the smallest pause to indicate the awkward nature of the topic, she nodded and said, "I want to talk about sex."
Even through the camera and the laptop screen, the way Frankenstein's smile went brittle was very obvious. Not that Tao noticed, being too busy choking on his spit. He also missed the tiny whimper from Rai's direction.
"Specifically, between humans and nobles," Seira went on as if discussing a new recipe. "I am interested in it."
"Ah. Um..." For once completely thrown off balance, Frankenstein cleared his throat. "Yes. I see. And that would be... for research on human culture or...?"
"I am interested in having it," Seira clarified, unfairly unruffled.
Tao's head jerkily rotated toward Rai, begging for some kind of explanation because — Seira? Really? The only thing more brain-breaking would have been Regis, and even then Tao could have at least retreated behind "growing young men" jokes and plotted to drag in M-21. But Seira—?
"With who—?" Frankenstein started to demand, in a strangled, furious tone.
Fortunately, whatever look Seira shot him quelled his instinctive need for a background check (and probably a shovel talk) with the object of her... interest. For now.
Frankenstein cleared his throat again. "I didn't think nobles had any inclination toward that," he said, changing direction blatantly. "Since it's not necessary for your procreation, there wouldn't be a biological drive for it."
"In itself, it is a physical curiosity, not much more," Seira allowed. "But sharing it with someone you love would be pleasant. Humans consider it an important bonding ritual, yes?"
That sounded very mild and non-horrifying — aside from it coming from Miss Seira.
And then, folding her hands demurely in her lap, she went for the kill.
"Please share your experience," she said. "When it comes to human and noble intimate relations, you and Sir Raizel have the most insight."
A beat. "Hah! So you and Boss are doing after all!" Tao crowed, jumping to his feet. "Takeo owes me so much money! And M-21 too! That liar, he said you're not!"
Giving up on elegance and also shame, Rai shot him a dirty, annoyed look. "We aren't," he said very coldly — despite his best efforts.
"Master and I aren't... involved in that way," Frankenstein hurriedly made his own denials.
"Oh, I misunderstood," Seira said. "I apologize for presuming your interest. I am still lacking in my understanding of humans." She made a convincing showing of being put out by her 'mistake' — totally fake, of course.
"It's... not about my interest," Frankenstein blurted out, still reeling from the entire encounter. "It's just..."
Normally, he was always in control of the conversation, but even Frankenstein could get flustered. Which just showed what a fearsome person Seira was. "Then you are interested in Sir Raizel?" she said.
Tao would have enjoyed the sight of his boss nervously wringing his hands and trying to look anywhere except a girl a fraction of his age — if the subject had been anything else. Even for him, this was simply too much. No wonder human children complained about even the implication of their parents engaging in anything romantic or sexual.
"That's hardly important!" Frankenstein finally rallied himself. "You're being unusually persistent about this, Seira."
Rai winced, so that must have been one of those noble insults by implication. However, Seira appeared unconcerned.
"It is important to me," she said.
"Why...!?" Frankenstein muttered, not expecting an answer.
He slumped forward, sighing, and suddenly he looked very, very tired. His head dipped, and it took Tao a moment to realize it was a nod, acknowledging what Seira already knew. Well, what the entire household bar one knew but didn't ever mention.
Next to him, Rai had gone completely still. (And now, the entire household knew.)
"I'd appreciate it," Frankenstein went on, "if you didn't tell him. Master is very kind, and I don't want him to do something just for my sake. I..."
He trailed off, sighing again.
"I will not say anything. I swear on my honor," Seira said. She rose smoothly and added, "There is no need. You two are very much alike."
She didn't wait for Frankenstein to respond — judging by the expression on his face, the full implications of her words were slowly but inevitably slotting into place in his brilliant mind. Heading toward the door, Seira only leveled a very meaningful look at the hidden camera.
When Tao turned to say something to Rai, the Noblesse was no longer on the couch.
There was a flash of white at the corner, and then he was completely alone in the living room. Tao started to turn slowly back to the laptop screen — before his common sense kicked in and he quickly slammed it shut. This was something he definitely didn't need to see. He'd already definitely seen too much.
For good measure, he shoved the laptop toward the other side of the coffee table and pressed himself back against the couch cushions. He'd scrub his hard drive later, just in case.
Nonetheless, he had caught a glimpse — just a glimpse! — of Rai's figure appearing in Frankenstein's office, just before the monitor went dark and the lid clicked shut. They... they were just going to talk, right? Right?
...Curse his vivid imagination.
Ignoring the entirely too powerful and hasty aura that passed her in the corridor, Seira returned to the kitchen and resumed cooking without a word.
She loved her family, but sometimes they were just ridiculous.
Rai was practically glowing when he showed up to school... three days later. Everyone stared, most with very vivid blushes — it was as bad as when Rai first joined the class, if not worse. He, naturally, noticed absolutely nothing of this, a vague, distracted smile on his face as he wandered over to Shinwoo's desk.
The entire class went dead silent.
"I am truly grateful for your wisdom," Rai said, head still respectfully lowered. "Please accept my sincerest thanks."
"Don't mention it, dude. It's what friends do," Shinwoo said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Congratulations. But seriously, don't mention it."
Ever. The chairman was an incredibly handsome man, but Shinwoo still had to look him in the eye, next time he got called in for getting into a fight.
"I'm telling Yuna," Ikhan muttered disgustedly, pushing up his glasses.