Chuck frowned when he entered the bar and failed to see any of his friends. It was bad enough that he was being dragged out against his will, but Mako had text him the address of some bar he’d never even heard of before and refused to give him any other details.
“Yo, Chuck!” Newt waved from across the bar. “Over here.”
Chuck crossed the room and leaned against the bar next to Newt. “I don’t see why we couldn’t go to the usual place.”
Newt rubbed his neck and Chuck’s eyes narrowed. He only did that when he was nervous; Newt was the least subtle person he knew.
“Well. I figured… trying new things and all, right?”
“What are you…?” Chuck looked around the bar. Tables had been set up in a purposeful formation as opposed to being dotted around where there was room. Cards and pens were being handed out. People were wearing name tags. “What the fuck is this Geiszler? Where is everyone?”
“They’re not coming…”
Chuck turned to him. “What?”
“It was Mako’s idea! Okay, it was mine, but she encouraged me to sign you up and–”
“Sign me up for what?”
Newt laughed nervously. “Speed dating.”
“Speed…” Chuck’s eyes widened. “What the fuck?”
Chuck turned and started heading for the exit. Newt grabbed his arm but when Chuck glared at him he quickly dropped it. “Why don’t you stay for a little while? If you don’t like it you can totally leave whenever you want.”
“Not a chance in hell, mate.”
“Aw come on. You’ve been such a downer since your break up. Isn’t it time you put yourself back out there?” Newt looked around. “Plus I bet Mako twenty bucks you’d stay.”
Chuck knew he was being baited. He didn’t care about the money but the thought of Mako lording this over him was too much. She wouldn’t say much on the matter of course, but that look she’d give him would be far worse than anything she could say. There was no way he was going to let that happen.
“Fine. But I’m getting half.”
“But –” Newt started but quickly changed his tune when Chuck glowered at him. “Yep, right. You got a deal. Now let’s do this.” His face broke out into a grin and he ushered Chuck towards the tables.
Chuck groaned. He was going to choke Newt to death for this, and Mako too. “You’re both dead to me.”
“That’s the spirit, dude.” Newt tried to hand him one of the cards but Chuck didn’t take it.
“I won’t be needing it.” Chuck roughly pulled out a chair and dropped down into it. Just because he was doing this, did not mean he had to enjoy it.
It was a downward spiral from there. Chuck was sat back in his chair with his arms folded and a scowl fixed on his face so intense that two people actually hesitated before sitting in front of him. Three arseholes, two absolute bores and one creep who was old enough to be his father later and Chuck was ready to call it a night. Five minutes in the company of each of these people was far too long.
Chuck looked over at the neon exit sign which he could have sworn was glowing brighter like a welcoming beacon. Normally he’d feel a little bad for ditching Newt, but the bastard had played a key part in this abysmal evening and squashed any feelings of guilt he might have felt.
The buzzer to signal for everyone to move along sounded again. Looks like he’d have to suffer through one more awkward and uncomfortable encounter. The neon exit sign seemed dimmer in disappointment. Or it could just be the scotch he’d been consuming in generous quantities to numb the pain of this evening screwing with his vision.
“Forced here against your will too, huh?”
Chuck turned his attention to his next potential suitor. The hand that reached for his glass stilled and dropped back into his lap. The guy was hot. Really hot. Ridiculously hot. Blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing sweater that clung to him in all the right places. Maybe the night was not a complete train wreck after all; not something he would ever admit to either Mako or Newt for as long as he lived.
“So called friends. They think I need to meet new people. Maybe I’ll find their replacements here.” Chuck shrugged.
The blonde – Raleigh, he learned from his nametag – chuckled. “My brother. He thinks he’s hilarious.”
“And you still came?”
“He had good intentions, I think.” He sighed. “I’m kinda hopeless when it comes to dating.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“Well, it’s why I’m here.”
“Have you seen yourself?”
Raleigh coughed. “Well, you’re not too bad on the eyes yourself.”
Chuck snorted. “That was so fucking cheesy.”
“Didn’t say it was a bad thing.” Chuck leant forward and rested his arms on the table.
“So… what made you agree to this?” Raleigh asked. “You don’t look like the type to have trouble in dating either.”
“He doesn’t know it yet, but the friend who dragged me here is paying for all my drinks.” He flashed Newt’s credit card around and pocketed it again.
“Oh, that’s mean.” Raleigh laughed again. Chuck could listen to that sound all night.
“Fucker deserved it. I might pay him back a small percentage depending on how the evening goes. And well…” Do not mention your ex, Hansen. No one wants to hear about that. “Play your cards right and I might just let you in on this sweet deal I’ve got going.”
“Are you offering to buy me a drink?”
“Well, Newt is. But you get the pleasure of my company.”
The shrill sound of the buzzer made them both start. Chuck had never wanted to smash an inanimate object as much as he did in that moment. Fuck, no. He needed more time. Who the fuck thought five minutes was a reasonable enough length of time for this?
“Looks like our time’s up.” Raleigh smiled. “It was nice meeting you…?”
“Chuck.” He hadn’t bothered to wear the stupid nametag.
“Chuck. Really nice.” He got up from his seat and then he was gone.
“You too…” Chuck slumped back in his chair.
“See, that wasn’t so bad now was it?” Newt said when Chuck re-joined him at the bar.
“Shut the fuck up and hand me one of those cards.”
Newt handed him the card and Chuck snatched it from him. “How the fuck does thing work?”
“Well, you write down the name of whoever took your interest tonight and if they also write down yours then the organisers give you their contact details.”
He quickly scribbled onto the card. Newt thought it was wise to not point out that he was no longer under a time limit. Chuck forced the card into the hands of one of the passing organiser and then joined Newt back at the bar. “How long’s this supposed to take?”
“Erm, not that long, I’m sure.” Newt decided against commenting on Chuck’s incessantly tapping foot.
A few minutes later one of the organisers approached them. “Mr. Hansen?”
“Yeah.” She handed him a card with contact details on it. Raleigh’s contact details.
He was too busy staring down at the card to see Newt’s fingers furiously typing away as he sent a text to Mako.
Newt patted at his pockets as they left the bar. “Hey dude, have you seen my wallet?”