Jack had planned the whole date with the cute guy perfectly. Eric (“Call me Bitty, honey”) should arrive with the eight ten train, and they would go immediately to the steakhouse in time for the reservation.
Jack wanted to impress. He had put on his best business casual outfit (at least, he hoped it was the best business casual outfit he had. He had no idea what he was doing.)
Crisse, was he underdressed? Overdressed? Jack had rarely been this anxious about something, and knowing him, it meant a lot. But he had really, really liked the little of Bitty he had seen and wanted to make a good impression.
He had met Bitty at a frat party in the hockey house Tater convinced him and Snowy to break into last week – Tater had spent the night socialising with everyone and playing drinking games, Snowy had spent the night loosing drinking games, and Jack… Jack had ran away from the noise at the first occasion and stumbled upon a handsome blond in the kitchen, taking cakes out of the oven. Handsome blond (Bitty) was on the hockey team, but didn’t recognise him at first (“Jack Zimmermann? What, should I know who you are? Are we sharing a class?”), at least until one of his teammates came to ask for his autograph.
Didn’t stop them to talk all night, until the party died down and Jack had walked two totally drunk Tater and Snowy to the car. Bitty had accompanied them, even if he was definitely cold with his crossed arms and sleeveless shirt and small, small shorts, and he had told, once Jack was one feet in the car already, “Had you not been straight, I would have kissed you here.”
Jack froze there, a few seconds, mouth wide open, and just managed to say: “I. Am not. Straight.” before Snowy, on the backseat, moaned that he wanted to vomit.
Anyway. Bitty and Jack had exchanged numbers, and Jack had planned for this date and hoped to do a better impression than party-crasher, designated driver for his drunkard friends, and mindless jock who didn’t talk much because he was too focused on the noise around.
No, tonight Jack would make good impression with the finest steakhouse of Providence (Bitty was Southern and was an athlete. It was the best place to bring him to.) and he would make a good conversation with this cute, clever, cultivated boy who was in college, wow, in hope he’ll still want to kiss him at the end of the night.
Jack noticed Bitty immediately when he went out of the train station, under his umbrella to hide from the rain, because he was grinning, like a small piece of sunshine.
Jack was way too far gone, and he had only seen the guy once, in subpar conditions.
This man was dangerous.
Bitty had noticed him quickly too, and hopped in the car, putting the yellow umbrella at his feet and straightening his jacket.
“A Tesla, Mr Zimmermann? Fancy.”
“I heated your seat.”
“I see that! You know how to charm a boy, Mister. I wish my old truck back at home could do the same.”
“Ha – I try my best. Well, let’s go to the restaurant – it’s not that far away, you’ll see,” Jack said, starting the car.
“How… Discreet should we be?” Bitty asked, the voice lower. “I know you’re not out.”
“Mmh – well. I’m an athlete, surrounded by compulsory heterosexuality. As long as we don’t bring attention to ourselves, no one will notice.”
“Here goes my plan to public propose to you, I guess,” Bitty said, with a faux disappointed tone.
“Haha, you can do it right now or after dinner,” Jack joked. “But don’t worry; it’s a fancy place, they’re used to make sure their patrons have privacy.”
“Fancy how? You just told me to dress nice.”
“Fancy, like two months of waiting list on the weekends and I had to name drop to get a table tonight.”
Bitty whistled, awestruck.
“I’m both impressed and criminally underdressed.”
“You’re perfectly dressed, if I may.”
“Oh! You may not!” Bitty laughed. “Stop this, pretty boy – flattery won’t get you anywhere!”
Flattery would get Bitty anywhere with Jack on the other hand, and Jack was half certain his date had noticed.
They finally arrived at the Durham’s Steakhouse – Jack left the car to the valet, and when he turned around, it was to see Bitty standing here, looking at the restaurant with big eyes.
“Best steakhouse of Providence,” Jack said. “Have you ever been here?”
“I- No. I can’t say I have, ha.”
“Let me tell you, it’s an experience. We often go here with the team.”
They walked in the restaurant, not touching, but still close. The maître d’hôtel recognised Jack and was quick to sat them at a table that seemed a bit off the regular plan of the room, clearly put there at the last minute. She gave them menus before excusing herself to go see other clients who were calling her.
“Wow, they put out a table just for us,” Bitty tried, swallowing.
Jack frowned. Bitty was clearly uncomfortable. Was it too fancy? Did Jack shoot in his own foot by trying to impress too much?
Oh no. He knew he should have scaled down the whole thing. The nice mom-and-pop Italian by his house would have been better. Oh, no, no, no-
Bitty was scanning the menu, quickly, while Jack was still focused on him when the maître d’hôtel came back.
“Thank you for the wait, Sirs. So – do you know the concept of the restaurant?,” she asked Bitty.
Bitty shook his head.
“Everything here is meat-based, and sides are cooked in meat grease, or with meat sauce. If you don’t eat pork or beef, please mention it to us, we’ll accommodate you. We make menus to share, and if I may recommend…”
Jack nodded at everything she was saying, until she left for them to pick their order. Bitty hadn’t said a word either, until she was gone.
Jack pulled his eyes from the menu – this 300g piece was flirting with him, truly, to see that Bitty had his hands clenched on the menu.
“Jack,” he shushed, “I’m vegetarian.”
“I don’t eat meat. At all.”
Jack was one, big, fucking idiot.
“Oh no Bitty. I’m so sorry-”
“No, I should have asked!” Jack worried, with a low voice.
“I should have told you when you told me you wanted to take me out to dinner- or in front of the restaurant, but- I assumed there would be vegetarian sides?” Bitty replied, hiding his mouth with the menu. “The team goes out monthly at this one steakhouse near campus, and Dex and I -he, uh, he’s vegetarian too- we manage to find stuff to eat, so.”
“I’m. I should have asked.”
“Maybe I can get some plain salad, with no dressing, or something-”
“Oh, no, you’re not going to eat just plain salad! Out of the question!”
“Well, it’s not like we have a lot of options...”
“We can leave,” Jack said, checking his watch. “We haven’t ordered anything, it’s not too late…”
Bitty looked around him to check that there was no staff around, and most importantly, on their table, clearly put here at the last second.
“Jack, you had to name drop for a reservation in a packed place, the waiters went all the way to put out a table for us, clearly bothering everyone- we can’t just leave without getting anything. They’ll never take another reservation from you.”
“I’ll leave a tip for the bother, don’t worry-”
“I don’t want them to think you’re a bad customer! Maybe we can fake an emergency?” Bitty said, pulling out his phone. “I’m texting my friend.”
Jack wanted to hide under the table and never come out.
Crisse. That’s it. He killed his chances. No way Bitty would want anything to do with him anymore after this. Just because he assumed, instead of using his big boy words and ask, what a tool, Bitty probably hated him now, and-
Bitty’s phone rang, and he replied immediately, listening a few seconds before making a shocked face- and, as soon as he opened his mouth, it was clear he was not a good actor.
“What? Ransom is in the hospital? Oh, no! Thanks for telling me, Holster! I am now on my way.”
Utterly terrible. And now they had the waitstaff’s attention on them, especially on Jack, frowing.
Of course they would think Bitty is trying to improvise a fake excuse to get the hell away from this terrible date.
Which was, well, technically the case.
“Jack, we need to go to the hospital. Can you go get the car?”
Jack nodded at the attempted out, left a consequent bill on the table as a tip, and made his way to the valet with Bitty behind so he could go fetch his car.
When Jack turned around after talking to the valet, he could see that Bitty was in a conversation with a waitress and was shaking his head with fervor, before taking his leave and joining Jack.
“Let’s go out of here,” Bitty said, grabbing Jack’s arm and leading him outside to wait for the car. Once here, he said: “I’m sorry. My plan backfired.”
“… What do you mean by that?” Jack asked.
“Well… The waitress asked me if I was safe and if I needed her to call a taxi for me to get home.”
“Ah. Yes, I think a few got this idea when hearing you.”
“I’m so sorry. I thought the emergency plan would be the best way for you to not be hated by the staff, but…”
The valet stopped the car at this moment, and Jack tipped him before hopping in the car with Bitty. Jack started and took the first left, because why not.
Great. Now the staff of this steakhouse he loved thought he was a creep.
“I told the waitress we left because I’m vegetarian, that you were nothing but a gentleman. So my plan was all for naught, in the end. Sorry,” Bitty said.
Jack just looked at him for a few seconds, and, well. He couldn’t help smiling at that.
“Really? You just admitted you’re vegetarian in the end?”
“Yes. God, that’s why I’m the brawl, and not the brain.”
“You’re the brawl?”
Bitty side-eyed him, unimpressed.
“I can lift way more than you weight, big boy.”
Mmh. With the arms Jack got to see during the frat party when Bitty was wearing a sleeveless shirt… He probably could.
Jack shouldn’t be that turned on.
“Anyway,” Bitty sighed. “Let’s see the good point; this night cannot get worse.”
His phone rang.
Yes. Of course it was getting worse.
“Oh, boy,” he said, accepting the call. “Hi, Holster.”
Even without the phone being on speaker, Jack could hear the entire conversation, because this ‘Holster’ was loud.
“BITS! Are you safe?!! I’m on my way to pick you up!”
“What? Holster, don’t-”
“You asked me to bail you out of your date, my mission is to bring you back home in one piece-”
“Who is even this Tinder boy you had a date with? What’s his name? I’m going to deal with him, let me tell you… Ransom, did you pack the baseball bat?”
“Holster! I’m fine! We just wanted out of the restaurant. It’s okay. Don’t worry, my date is a perfect gentleman. Go back home, please. Thank you for helping out and caring so much.”
“Bitty, can he hear? Is that why you say stuff like that? Don’t worry, we’re soon here-”
“Holster, NO PIE FOR YOU. Go back home.”
Bitty hung up on him, frustrated. He took a long, deep breath. He didn’t need that right now.
“Well. Your team got your back,” Jack said, swallowing. “To be honest, I don’t want to be near them when they hear I’ve been inconsiderate enough to bring you to a steakhouse.”
Why did he said that. He should have kept it to himself, damn.
“They’re not going to do anything!” Bitty defended. “They better not! They never say anything when the whole team goes to a steakhouse and I can only eat fries! Plus, it’s not like they could find us. They just know I’m in Providence, but they have no idea where we are.”
Jack nodded at that, his eyes on the road.
And… on the street.
And back on the road.
“I have no idea where we are either,” Jack said, frowning.
He had mindlessly driven in the streets of the city – and, because of him, they were totally lost.
“I am. So, so, so sorry, fuck-”
“Jack. Don’t worry. I can just use the GPS, but- Can we just stop, wherever, to eat? I had practice this afternoon, I’m going to faint.”
“Ah- yes, yes, of course. Hmm- there’s a kebab, there. With falafels.”
There was something sad, to eat low-tier yufkas with fries too greasy in a small shop that wouldn’t pass next Food Safety control, wearing their best business casual suits, with Tarkan playing in the background.
It was a whole fucking disaster. Jack would never even try to date ever again. He wasn’t made to be loved, or to love anyone. Bitty deserved so much better.
Jack just sadly bit in his sad sandwich.
Bitty looked at him, and he said:
“It was a weird night. But I had fun. Wanna give our first date a second chance? I’m sure that, if we put the effort, we can do even worse.”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Jack, I’m promising you a date so bad you’ll call your mom crying,” Bitty snickered, grabbing Jack’s pinky with his.
“Oh, you’re on, Bittle.”