Bruce Banner has just returned from his lab, where his latest experiment came out really well. He should go straight to bed, because it's six in the morning, but he can't seem to become the right kind of tired, probably also because it's six in the morning. So instead he's watching the sun rise out the window of his cozy (tiny) grad-dorm single room.
"I would be a huge hypocrite if I told you not to care what other people think, because I absolutely care what other people think, but, it really isn't any of their business? You should wear whatever you want."
"Yeah well. I should probably get back to. Studying. And things."
Awww. "Alas. Don't we all. Um, I'll see you in the lab later?" Obviously he will, they're both in there all the time, but it would be nice to know exactly when they'll run into each other again. Having a well-defined schedule is good.
"Yeah," he says, and stands up hurriedly and-- doesn't run away. Just walks away extremely quickly. Those are different.
Everyone wants to avoid him today. Bruce waits a bit to let Lev get as far away as he wants to get, then takes the notes they made and starts heading to the lab. Hopefully the lab mice won't all decide they want a different experimenter.
The Erogame, in its infinite mercy, allows him to do his actual job for a bit and does not pop up any quests about lab rats.
And then he gets:
Quest available: ???????????????
Success: 1 perk point, +5,000 xp
Yeah, any attempt to mix rodents and Ero would be seriously objectionable.
"What? What? Oh come on, that's just not fair, you know all my buttons." He accepts the Mystery Quest, because how can he not. This is clearly a bad idea but slowly dissolving of curiosity is also a bad idea, so.
Science accomplished, he decides to go for a walk around campus. Maybe he'll encounter a clue to the "???????", or have an idea for how to raise his Ero.
There's an extremely buff man in his underwear running. He reaches a tree, jumps up to swing on a branch, and backflips around it.
(The Erogame had nothing to do with this. Asher just does that.)
If people were linear regressions, that dude would have an r^2 of .99, because he is fit. Bruce stares at the impressive display of athleticism.
The man sees him and turns himself upside down on the branch. "Hello."
"Put some pants on."
"Thank you for not putting pants on."
"You're cute. My name is Asher."
"I'm Bruce. You're really impressive; are you a gymnast?" Oh no he just remembered the etymology of "gymnastics"; if he wasn't pink before he is now.
"I'm an aspiring economist."
"Oh, neat! I'm in biology. Neuroscience. What sort of econ are you into?"
"Well, I'm not sure, I'm in undergrad."
(He looks about seven or eight years too old to be an undergrad.)
"Huh! I'd had you pegged as a fellow grad student. Guess you have plenty of time to specialize later, then. What made you pick econ?"
"Probably you thought I was a grad student," Asher says, "because I spent the last seven years as a member of the New York City Ballet. --I was going to do math, but I took an econ class and fell in love, and also figured it was probably a good idea not to choose a second discipline you're only good at before you're thirty."
He flips off the branch and looks like he's about to land on his face and at the very last moment twists into a crouch.
Bruce flinches when it looks like Asher's about to faceplant, then says, "I don't actually know anything about the New York City Ballet but I am nonetheless extremely impressed. And picking a major because you took one class and fell in love is awesome. Except if I did that I'd also still be an undergrad with six majors and no hope of graduating."
"Well, we don't know that I'll avoid that tragic fate yet."
"True. Maybe you'll fall in love with three other fields and end up some sort of polygamous polymath." His mind really needs to exit the gutter at some point, but the metaphorical gutter, much like literal ones, seems to be a local minimum.
"Now when did I say I'm poly?"
"I, it, it was an academic metaphor, I wasn't trying to speculate about your personal life, sorry."
"You're adorable. And not wrong."
This time the compliment actually registers, and Bruce emits some phonemes the author's keyboard is not equipped to represent. "Thanks!"