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Date #1

 

Rhys: Call me.

Rhys: NOW! Please! I need an excuse to leave this date.

 

Rhys looked back up at the man, who hadn't really seemed to notice Rhys on his phone under the table. He hoped Vaughn would get the message soon, because he'd already tried to leave the date, citing how late it was, and his date had insisted he'd stay for dessert. Rhys needed to get out of here.

 

His cell started ringing and Rhys breathed a sigh of relief, apologizing to his date as he got up to answer it. He picked up the call, now a little ways away from his table, in a hall near the restrooms.

 

“Bad date pumpkin?” A voice that was distinctly not Vaughn's asked, amusement evident in his voice. Rhys took the phone away from his ear long enough for his fears to be confirmed as he saw the contact info. Shit, he'd somehow accidentally texted his boss instead of his best friend.

 

“I'm so sorry sir, I didn't mean to text you,” Rhys apologized, knowing all too well of his boss’s infamous temper. He must have caught him at a good time though, because the man simply laughed.

 

“Uh uh, can't back out of this now cupcake. I want to know about this date of yours,” Jack said. “By the way, who is this?”

 

Rhys frowned. It's not that he really expected Jack to have his number saved. Rhys only even had Jack's because he had to call him once for the department head after some files went missing, and they were too scared to call Jack while he was gone on a business trip, instead forcing Rhys to do it. Rhys may or may not have saved Jack’s phone permanently to his phone, but it was only for emergencies. It was not because of some creepy obsession that he had with the guy, thank you very much Vaughn.

 

“Uh, Rhys. I um, work in the robotics division,” Rhys said, answering Jack’s initial question.

 

“Holy shit, you work for me? I thought this was one of those misdials,” Jack laughed. “So how bad is it?” he asked, while Rhys made a confused expression. Was Jack asking about his date? “Chop chop kiddo.”

 

“Oh.” Rhys coughed, clearing his throat, discreetly peering out of the hallway to where his date was still sitting. He gave a small wave as the other man looked up, mouthing ‘urgent’ to him as he returned back to the relative privacy of the hallway. “It’s really bad, I think he’s smoking a firecracker? Like an actual firecracker. And, he started talking about his pet and then showed me a picture of it,” Rhys started. He made sure no one was around before exclaiming, “It was a freaking stuffed animal! And not like the cuddly kind you buy at the store! No, a real taxidermied animal!”

 

There was a pause and Rhys wondered if Jack had hung up on him. Laughter filled the phone as Rhys pulled it away from his ear to glare at it, not that Jack could see it. He couldn’t believe his boss (well boss’s boss’s boss to be more exact) was currently laughing at Rhys’s current predicament. Like this was the weirdest date he’d ever been on, and he’d been on some weird dates.

 

“That is bad pumpkin, and more than slightly creepy. I’d get out of there if I were you, before he tries to turn you into one of his displays,” Jack teased, laughter creeping back into his voice.

 

“I’m trying,” Rhys muttered unhappily.

 

“Yeah well, just make up some shit about someone having to go to the hospital,” Jack stated nonchalantly.

 

Rhys started to say something, but then thought about it. It wasn’t the worst idea actually. Sure, it was a little cliche, but his date was honestly pretty weird, and would probably buy it. Jack had been silent as Rhys thought over the plan, but Rhys suddenly heard him swearing in the background.

 

“Can’t you idiots do anything without me!?” Jack yelled, though it didn’t seem directed at Rhys from the muffled quality of it. Jack’s voice came back, sounding closer this time. “Sorry kiddo, gonna have to end this conversation early. Good luck on your date cupcake,” Jack said, and Rhys could imagine the man wink at him before he hung up. Not that it mattered, he’d still called Rhys and that gave him an out.

 

Rhys went back to the table, sitting back across from his date who looked at him eagerly. “Uh, sorry about that. My uh roommate had to go to the emergency room, they need me there to fill out the paperwork since I’m his emergency contact…” Rhys trailed off, indicating that he had to go. The man looked at him worriedly.

 

“Oh no! Of course, go! You can meet Mr. Fuzzykins some other time!” the man said with a grin, bringing up his dead pet again. Rhys shoved down a grimace, despite the strange obsession with taxidermy, the man had been nice enough. He managed a small smile, before grabbing his jacket off the chair. He quickly called for a ride, relaxing into the seat once he was on his way to his apartment. He was going to kill Fiona for setting him up on that blind date.

 

***

“Well how was I supposed to know!” Fiona yelled, while Rhys glared at her. He couldn’t believe that Fiona had set him up on a blind date with someone that she had basically catfished online using Rhys’s photos. Was it catfishing if she was doing it for him though? Like the person was still going on a date with who they thought they were. Either way, he was pissed.

 

“I don’t know Fiona, but maybe don’t just randomly set me up with guys from the internet. I thought you knew him!?” Rhys said. “I mean the guy was showing me pictures of his dead taxidermied pet!”

 

Fiona grimaced, “Ok, ok, sorry. How’d you get out of it anyway? I mean, I assume you didn’t stay for the whole date.”

 

“I texted...Jack,” Rhys admitted quietly. Fiona narrowed her eyes at him.

 

“Your boss?” she asked.

 

“Yes, but on accident! I was trying to text Vaughn to initiate code ‘bro get me out of here’ (a plan that he’d never had to actually use before but that they had in case of some incident like the one the night before), but somehow I accidentally sent the message to Jack. He called me though, and actually gave me advice on how to get out of the date, by telling me to say somebody was in the hospital.”

 

“Your date bought that? And also, I’m sorry, you’re telling me your boss called you to bail you out of a bad date?” Fiona asked incredulously. “Your boss, Handsome Jack? The guy who once threatened to beat somebody so bad that their eyes would pop out, just because they spilled coffee on him one time?”

 

“I mean...yeah?” Rhys responded. “He seemed to be enjoying it actually, I think it was some kind of entertainment for him or something,” he muttered, while Fiona looked doubtful. Rhys sighed, knowing it sounded kind of crazy, but it was the truth.


 

Date #2

 

Rhys’s second date that month, didn’t seem to be going much better than his last one. This one wasn’t a blind date, but was with one of his coworkers. A coworker he didn’t even particularly like, but Rhys hadn’t been able to come up with a valid excuse not to go, and Vasquez had managed to drag him to a restaurant after work that day.

 

Rhys wasn’t happy about it, but at least the place was decent, and the food actually looked really appetizing. Plus, Vasquez had said he was paying, probably more out of a sense of showing off how much money he made rather than any kind of etiquette, but Rhys wasn’t complaining.

 

He continued to eat his pasta while Vasquez brought up for the third time how expensive his new car was. The man was absolutely full of himself, and was clearly trying to impress Rhys, but mostly Rhys just thought he was an ass.

 

“Yeah, with being the new VP of sales, it’s now my job to keep everybody in line. It’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it,” Vasquez explained, puffing out his chest slightly as Rhys looked unbelievingly at the man. How could anyone be that into themselves, and be so overwhelmingly incompetent? Rhys knew that Vasquez only got his promotion because the previous VP had become terminally ill, and retired early.

 

Vasquez started to go into his spiel about how he’d single handedly improved the department’s figures since he’d been promoted, when Rhys excused himself to go to the bathroom. Upon getting into the bathroom, he pulled out his phone, biting his lip as he contemplated doing something that he knew he shouldn’t be doing.

 

He pulled up his conversation with Jack, typing in a quick message, his finger hovering over the send button. What was he doing? Last time was an accident. He couldn’t just text the CEO every time he needed advice on how to get out of a bad date. Rhys stared at the message, not deleting it, but locking his phone screen instead. He contemplated texting Vaughn, the person he actually should be texting, but remembered that Vaughn had said something about working late today. He frowned down at his phone, eventually putting it back in his pocket and returning to the table.

 

Vasquez leered at him when he returned, and Rhys did everything in his power to ignore the other man’s gaze. “You done freshening up for me Rhys?” he asked, while Rhys choked on his drink. This was not good. Rhys thought of how to get out of it, but wasn’t sure how to do it without pissing off Vasquez, who could literally make his life a living hell at the office. Sure, they weren’t technically in the same department, but as a VP, Vasquez had way more power than Rhys did. “I mean, I get it, you want to impress me…” Vasquez droned on as Rhys started to panic. He discreetly pulled out his phone, holding it under the table and hitting the send button. His phone started to ring, and Rhys excused himself to answer it.

 

“Look, I’m sorry. I know you’re probably busy-”

 

“Like you wouldn’t believe kiddo,” Jack snorted, but he didn’t sound angry.

 

“But you were able to get me out of my last date, and Vaughn is working late so I can’t call him. I need a good excuse to get out of this one because all  he’s done the entire time is talk about his new promotion and how much money he makes. I would just leave, but he’s actually the VP of one of the departments and if I piss him off he can probably get me fired,” Rhys continued, his words coming out faster than he meant them to as he started to realize that Vasquez could actually possibly get him fired.

 

“Whoa, slow down pumpkin,” Jack said. “Why’d you go on a date with this jackass anyway?”

 

“I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t think of a way to say no…” Rhys admitted, knowing how stupid it sounded.

 

“You need to grow a backbone kiddo,” Jack said, and Rhys could hear the disapproving, yet amused, tone of his voice.  “Who is this anyway? If he’s one of the VPs maybe I know him,” Jack asked.

 

“Um, Hugo Vasquez?” Rhys answered, wondering if Jack actually did know him. Vasquez liked to brag about how close he was to the famed CEO, but Rhys didn’t really believe him.

 

“Holy shit, Wallethead!?” Jack laughed, his loud laughter practically echoing through the phone. “I can’t believe you’re on a date with that idiot!”

 

Rhys blushed as Jack continued to laugh hysterically. He had no idea why Jack referred to Vasquez as ‘Wallethead’, but he wasn’t really about to ask. “Are you going to help or not?” Rhys asked, definitely not pouting.

 

“Ehhhh...I’m not going to give you a lame excuse kiddo,” Jack said, hanging up the phone. Rhys looked down at it incredulously. Did Jack just hang up on him? Rhys made a noise of frustration, as he tried not to have an outright meltdown in the restaurant. Why was everybody that worked at Hyperion assholes? Ok, he could do this. He just needed to come up with some excuse, something like...god why was he so bad at this?

 

Rhys walked back to the table, still frowning slightly as he tried to come up with a good reason to leave. Vasquez started to say something before his phone started ringing. Rhys saw his face pale slightly at the caller ID, before he picked up the call.

 

“H-handsome Jack, sir?” Vasquez said, answering the phone. Rhys gaped at the man, catching a glimpse of Vasquez’s face as he tried to discreetly turn around. He was clearly nervous, and stammering something into the phone, but even though he was right across from him, Rhys couldn’t make out what he was saying. Rhys turned his attention back to his food as Vasquez ended the call, pretending he hadn’t been watching the whole conversation. “I-uh have to go. Work thing,” Vasquez stated, before abruptly standing up and rushing out of the restaurant. Rhys watched him go, feeling his own phone go off again. He pulled it out to see two new texts from Jack.

 

Jack: God what did his face look like! I bet he looked scared shitless when I called him XD

Jack: Also, told you I’d get rid of him cupcake ;)

 

Rhys stared at the texts, not wanting to point out that Jack had, not in fact told him he was going to get rid of him, but had actually just hung up on Rhys. Rhys looked up from his phone as the server stopped by to drop off the check and groaned internally. Vasquez had left before paying, which meant Rhys now had to pay for both of their meals.

 

Rhys: You could have at least waited until he paid the check.

 

Rhys sent the text, knowing it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, even if he was angry about it. Jack had helped him out, and it wasn’t like he knew Vasquez hadn’t paid yet. Plus, Rhys felt like he was walking on thin ice here. So far the CEO had been pretty good-natured about the whole thing, but Rhys knew that Jack wasn’t exactly known for being helpful and cooperative. He figured that Jack seemed to be enjoying Rhys’s predicaments in the way that someone enjoyed watching trashy reality TV.

 

Rhys was already starting to regret sending the text, when his phone went off again to indicate a new message. It was from Jack, which simply read, “Already taken care of sweetcheeks. Stop dating these losers.”

 

Rhys wasn’t sure what Jack was talking about in the first part, until his server reappeared telling him that the check had already been paid. Rhys’s eyes widened slightly before thanking the server. He sent a quick ‘thanks, you didn’t have to do that’ text to Jack, before heading back to his apartment. Vaughn was never going to believe this.

 

***

“And then he what, just paid for your dinner?” Vaughn asked incredulously, giving Rhys a doubtful look.

 

“Yes! And I don’t even know what he said to Vasquez, but he looked terrified before he practically ran out of the restaurant,” Rhys replied.

 

“And you’re sure that it’s actually Jack? Like Handsome Jack, our CEO?” Vaughn asked. Rhys threw his hands up in the air in frustration.

 

“I mean, I don’t know! It’s his phone number! And it sounded like him when he called,” Rhys said, exasperated.

 

“It’s not that I don’t believe you bro, but it does sound kind of weird,” Vaughn replied.

 

“I know, I know,” Rhys sighed. “But it really happened!”

 

Vaughn still looked skeptical, but shrugged. “Maybe he thinks it’s funny?” Vaughn suggested, while Rhys shrugged back. He honestly didn’t know why Jack had helped him, and then paid for his dinner. The CEO was known for being impulsive, so maybe he’d just done it without thinking.


 

Date #3

 

Rhys’s third date, wasn’t really a date at all. At least Rhys wouldn’t consider it one, more like a chance meeting that just happened to take a turn for the worse.

 

He’d been sent down to R&D on some errand or other, and had (literally) run into a man wearing a lab coat. Rhys apologized profusely, until his eyes caught on the man’s coffee mug, which thankfully still had all of its contents inside. It was a limited edition Handsome Jack mug (yes, Jack had his own company merchandise and yes, Rhys owned most of it but only because he admired the CEO). It was one of the rarer ones too.

 

“Is that a limited gold edition Handsome Jack mug?” Rhys asked, before he could stop himself. He was usually better at keeping his obsession admiration to himself, but even Rhys hadn’t been able to get his hands on that mug. “I tried to get one, but they were already sold out by the time I was able to get off work,” Rhys admitted.

“I waited all day in line for it,” The man said, a slightly manic grin on his face. He started talking about his other Handsome Jack merchandise, which Rhys was embarrassed to say he owned most of as well, while the scientist invited him to lunch. Not wanting to be rude, and realizing that he’d already missed his usual lunch with Vaughn and Yvette, he accepted.

 

Once they were at lunch, Rhys went to grab his food, unwittingly drawing attention to his arm. The man, who Rhys had learned was Professor Nakayama, lit up upon seeing Rhys’s cybernetics, and grabbed his robotic arm to inspect it. Rhys tried to pull back, not entirely comfortable with a complete stranger touching him, but the man held on. Nakayama’s excitement further grew upon realizing that Rhys’s left eye was in fact an ECHO-eye, and tried to get a closer look before Rhys backed away.

 

“There are some new upgrades I’ve been wanting to try, but the lack of test subjects has been a problem. But you! You will do perfectly!” Nakayama stated, practically dragging Rhys towards R&D.

 

They ended up in a section that Rhys wasn’t familiar with, never having been so far in R&D before. It was kind of a mystery what went down in there, but he’d heard horror stories and the words ‘test subject’ were more than worrying.

 

“Look, I have to get back to work-”

 

“Nonsense! Once I install these upgrades, you’ll be better than ever, and Jack will be so proud. He’ll personally congratulate me, and maybe even invite me to have lunch with him!” Nakayama continued, cutting off Rhys’s protests. Ok, this was getting dangerous. He seriously didn’t want to end up as some unlucky test subject.

 

As they rounded the corner, they practically ran into the CEO himself, as he talked to some of the other scientists in the department. Jack’s eyes narrowed upon seeing the pair and then swept over Rhys, taking in his panicked expression and Nakayama’s hands around his arm.

 

“H-handsome Jack sir,” Nakayama said, clearly overwhelmed at being in the presence of the CEO. He seemed to notice Jack staring at Rhys as he explained, “This is Rhys, my newest test subject for the new cybernetics upgrades.” Nakayama waved a hand towards Rhys, while Rhys wondered if it was worth it to try and make a break for it. Would Jack be mad? And would it be worse than whatever Nakayama had in store for him?

 

“Nu uh. Not going to happen,” Jack stated, while Nakayama began to protest. Jack cut him off with a glare. “I said no.”

 

Nakayama released Rhys, looking dejected before walking away while muttering to himself. Rhys just stood there stunned, not sure if he should leave or not. He looked over at Jack, who still looked slightly angry.

 

“What the hell kiddo, I can’t believe you and Nakay-whatever his name were about to have a date with some very experimental tech,” Jack stated, a judgemental look on his face

 

“It wasn’t a date,” Rhys protested. “We were just having lunch and then he caught sight of my cybernetics and started to drag me here to run some kind of experiment,” Rhys explained, a frown on his face.

 

“Lunch and a little experimentation afterwards sounds like a date to me cupcake,” Jack smirked, while Rhys glared at the older man. “Anyway, holy hell are you lucky I was here kiddo. You were about to have some highly experimental tech shoved into ya’. Probably wouldn’t have survived.”

 

Rhys gaped at him, he couldn’t be serious. Sure, there were always risks involving experimental procedures, Rhys was well aware of that from his own cybernetic enhancement surgeries, but for Jack to be almost positive that he would’ve died? Suddenly, all those horror stories coming out of R&D weren’t just stories, but reality.

 

“Yeah, seriously Rhysie. I’ve seen the numbers on that experiment of his and it ain’t pretty. I’ve had to sign more bullshit condolence letters in the last month than that time one of the testing facility rooms blew up,” Jack elaborated, while Rhys grew ever paler. He had seriously almost died, and his body probably would have never been found, because Rhys knows for a fact that what Jack had told him was not exactly public information. If it was, he was sure he would have heard of people dying left and right from dangerous experimental procedures.

 

“But uh, no need to thank me for practically saving your ass,” Jack said, while one of the scientists that Jack had been talking with before, attempted to regain his attention. He rolled his eyes as the scientist said that it was an ‘urgent time-sensitive matter’ and that ‘they really should be going’. “Yeah yeah.” Jack waved off the scientist, before turning back to Rhys. “I’ll see you around kiddo.” Jack gave him a small salute, before walking off with them.

 

***

“Yeah, bro I had to pay for her and you know it was your turn,” Vaughn said, frowning at Rhys. He was eating lunch with Vaughn and Yvette, and the two had immediately accosted him about him missing lunch the other day.

 

Rhys rolled his eyes at his friend. “I said I’m sorry, I got held up in R&D yesterday.” He froze, his sandwich halfway to his mouth as he caught sight of his friends’ expressions. “What?”

 

“Why were you in R&D Rhys?” Yvette asked, a shocked, but curious expression on her face. Vaughn on the other hand, looked more worried than anything.

 

“Yeah, that place is like death central! And all the scientists are super creepy dude,” Vaughn chimed in. Rhys rubbed the back of his neck nervously, Vaughn’s words surprisingly accurate given what Jack had told him.

 

“I had to bring some reports down there,” Rhys confessed. Yvette narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him.

 

“And that took you the entire lunch hour?”

 

“No. Well, kind of,” Rhys answered.

 

“Rhys,” Yvette said warningly, knowing that he was hiding something from them.

 

“Ok, ok. I kind of maybe, was about to be experimented on because this scientist caught sight of my cybernetics and then we ran into Handsome Jack and he stopped him, and he told me that I would have probably almost certainly died,” Rhys let out in a rush, his words starting to come out faster towards the end.

 

“What?” Yvette said in shock as an equally shocked ‘bro’ came from Vaughn. “So, you’re telling me Handsome Jack saved you from a deadly experiment?” Yvette asked. Her initial shock had faded into a expression of disbelief.

 

“It’s the truth,” Rhys said, a harder edge to his voice as he realized his friends didn’t believe him. He knew it sounded crazy, but…

 

“It’s just, Handsome Jack isn’t known for being helpful. I heard he found out a guy was stealing food from the break room and they still don’t know where he is. That’s the kind of CEO we have, not one that goes around saving hapless employees from our own company’s questionably legal experiments,” Yvette whispered, her voice low to ensure no one around them could hear her.

 

“Actually, he’s helped Rhys out before,” Vaughn said, a slightly meek expression on his face as Yvette sharply turned to him. “Though, mostly out of bad dates.”

 

“The CEO of Hyperion rescued you from bad dates?” Yvette asked, her tone expressing the doubt she felt. “And, you two kept this from me!?” she added, not liking that she was kept out of the gossip.

 

“Well, it was an accident...at first. And then, I don’t know. He kind of helped me out of a date with Vasquez, and then with Nakayama, the scientist. Though, that wasn’t really a date, but more of a quick brush with death apparently,” Rhys replied, muttering the last part under his breath. Yvette didn’t look entirely convinced.

 

“I still don’t know why he would be helping you out without getting something back in return,” she mused. Her eyes widened, “Or maybe he likes you.” Yvette pointed at Rhys, as a grin overtook her face. “Oh my god Rhys, you’re like the damsel in distress and Handsome Jack is your knight in shining armor.”

 

“I don’t think-” Rhys started, but Yvette cut him off.

 

“No, seriously, think about it. Why else would he be putting in so much time and effort into saving you from bad dates?”

 

“I don’t know, maybe he just likes playing the hero? You know how he’s always going on about that,” Rhys said, though he wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince more, Yvette or himself.

 

“A guy could be dying in front of him and I doubt Jack would help him, hero or not,” Yvette said, and Rhys knew she had a point. Though what that meant, he didn’t know.


 

Date #4

 

Rhys’s had been sitting in a bar waiting for his friends to arrive for almost fifteen minutes. He knew they were notoriously late, so he’d already ordered himself a drink. He felt more than saw, somebody’s eyes on him and he turned to look at who it was. His eyes widened slightly at the more than handsome blonde man sitting a little farther down the bar. The man smiled at him, and started to make his way over as Rhys felt a blush begin to creep up his face.

 

“What’s a pretty thing like you doing here all alone?” the man asked, a light grin on his face, and Rhys couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled out of him at that. The man was gorgeous.

 

“Name’s Axton,” he introduced, holding out his hand to shake Rhys’s.

 

“Rhys.” His robotic arm reached out to shake the man’s hand, and he was pleasantly surprised that Axton seemed unfazed by it.

 

The two chatted for awhile, and Rhys found out that Axton also worked for Hyperion, and was part of their security team. Rhys was well on his way to being tipsy when his friends finally appeared.

 

“We interrupting something?” Fiona asked, a knowing smile playing at her lips. Sasha stood behind her, one eyebrow raised as she smirked at him. Rhys frowned at the sisters, but Axton simply laughed.

 

“Well, I guess that’s my cue. Call me.” Axton slipped a piece of paper across to Rhys, winking at him, before standing up to leave. Rhys watched him go while Sasha and Fiona made kissy faces at him from behind Axton so only Rhys could see.

 

“So, who was that?” Fiona asked, a smirk on her face.

 

“Oh look, he put little hearts next to his number,” Sasha said, picking up the small piece of paper. Rhys frowned, grabbing the paper from her.

 

Rhys entered the number into his phone, knowing that he’d probably be too drunk later to keep track of a piece of paper. He had just slipped his phone back into his pocket when Vaughn and Yvette arrived. Sasha and Fiona immediately filled them in on the hot mysterious stranger who’d been chatting Rhys up when they got there.

 

“His name is Axton,” Rhys said. “And he’s like super hot, and super into me.” Rhys waved his hand around to emphasize his point, spilling the drink in his hand slightly.

 

“Wow Rhys, does this mean that you’re over your weird obsession with Handsom-” Vaughn said before Rhys cut him off with a nervous laugh.

 

“Haha Vaughn, I told you it’s not an obsession. I just admire the guy,” he replied, while all of his friends raised an eyebrow at him in doubt. “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Fiona answered, while the rest of them went back to their drinks.

 

“So, you gonna call him?” Sasha asked.

 

“Who, Jack?” Rhys asked, confused. Sasha gave him a look of disbelief.

 

“No! This guy you just met, Axton. Why would you call Jack?”

 

“I don’t know, I’m not! And...I guess?” Rhys answered. He was a little drunk at this point, and really wasn’t thinking straight, but Axton had been attractive and interested. With his recent string of bad dates lately, he made up his mind. “You know what, I will! I’m gonna call him right now.”

 

***

Rhs woke up and immediately felt his head spin. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he slowly sat up. Upon reopening them, he realized he wasn’t in his room, but he did recognize the place. It looked like Sasha and Fiona’s apartment, so that was good at least. He heard a groan from somebody else who was also waking up, and turned to see Vaughn who was splayed out on the couch a little ways away from where he was on the floor.

 

“Morning you two,” Sasha smiled at the pair while holding two plates of food. Rhys’s stomach turned slightly at the sight, but he knew he should try to eat something if he could. Sasha placed the plates down on the coffee table, and went back to the kitchen, where he assumed Fiona was.

 

He blearily groped the area around him for his phone, finding it underneath one of his legs. He looked at the time, blinking as he saw the missed call from Jack. Wait, what? Why did Jack call him? He never called him.

 

“Oh my god.” Rhys unlocked his phone, freezing as he saw that he’d called Jack last night. He didn’t remember that. At all. And that could not be good.

 

He listened to the message, which just started with Jack laughing. “Holy shit kiddo, are you drunk? I can’t believe this,” he laughed, but there was a forced edge to it. Rhys frowned as the next few seconds were just Jack practically cackling into the phone, for what felt like too long. Jack then continued, “Seriously though Rhysie, when you need to be saved from your date Friday, you know who to call. Well, if you manage to actually call whoever it was you were trying to contact.” Jack said. “Man, you are probably nursing one hell of a hangover. Check ya later kiddo!”

 

Rhys stared at his phone in horror for a while after the message ended. So, he’d called Jack. By accident. Great.

 

Wait, had Jack sounded almost...angry? He furrowed his eyebrows in thought, wondering why the other man had sounded upset, but he shrugged figuring it was something to do with work.

 

Oh shit, he’d meant to call Axton. Rhys closed his eyes and sighed. Well, at least he hadn’t called Axton when he was totally drunk. That would have ended any possibility of a future relationship.


 

Date #5

 

Rhys had finally managed to actually call Axton back, and the man had been happy to hear from him. They were going to go on their second date, or first date, depending on whether they counted their initial meeting in the bar as a date. Axton had suggested they go to dinner, and they agreed to meet at a restaurant down the street. So far the date had been going well.

 

Too well.

 

Axton was nice, polite, and pretty easy to talk to. Rhys found himself talking about his friends, and his work, not sure what else to really talk about. Axton had just finished telling Rhys a story about some guy who had been the literal worst at breaking in. The man had attempted to scale the outside of Helios, but had gotten scared about four floors up and had to be rescued by security. Rhys had laughed, and wondered what Jack had thought of that when he’d heard of the incident. The CEO would probably have found the situation hilarious and would have stood there laughing at the poor man for awhile before ordering someone to get him down so he could be ‘interviewed’.

 

Wait why was he thinking of Jack?

 

He realized Axton had been talking, and tried to focus on the other man, but he was finding it quite difficult. What was wrong with him? And why was he almost...bored?

 

Rhys tried to continue eating his food while Axton was talking, but he could feel his phone practically burning a hole in his pocket. It wasn’t that the date was going bad, but something felt off. Sure, Axton was probably the hottest and nicest guy that he’d dated in well...forever, but there was just no connection. No spark.

 

“I um, I have to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back,” Rhys said. He felt bad as he pulled his phone out, but he honestly needed advice. “Pick up, pick up,” he muttered as the phone continued to ring. “Jack,” Rhys sighed in relief as the call went through.

 

“How’s your date pumpkin?” Jack asked, his voice clipped. Rhys frowned. Why did Jack sound annoyed? He wondered if Jack was mad at him, or maybe he was just finally fed up with helping Rhys out?

 

“I um, could use some advice. It’s not that the date is bad, it’s just…” Rhys trailed off, not exactly sure how to finish the statement. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to get out of the date so badly in all honesty. Axton seemed like a great guy.

 

“What, your date with Mr. Security isn’t going as planned? You sounded pretty hung up on him when you accidentally ya’ know, called me.”

 

Rhys’s eyes widened in realization. Was Jack...jealous? He narrowed his eyes as he replied, “How do you even know that he’s a security guard?”

 

“ ‘Cus I looked him up dum-dum. And I have to say, ehhh not really impressed,” Jack said, clearly trying to not sound bothered by the situation.

 

“Oh my god, you’re jealous,” Rhys replied, not even quite believing it himself.

 

“More like ashamed. For you. Seriously Rhysie, you gotta stop dating these assholes,” Jack said, while Rhys was about to correct him that Axton wasn’t an asshole, before Jack added, “Ya know what, I’m taking you out on a date.”

 

“Wait, what?” Rhys asked, his mouth open in complete incredulity. Jack had to be joking. Any second now Jack would just start laughing and Rhys would want to die, because his hero thought it was funny to jokingly ask him out.

 

“Yeah, you need to go on a proper date kiddo, and who better than me to take you out,” Jack said, now sounding intensely smug. Rhys still couldn’t believe it, and his mouth wouldn’t quite work to form a response. Instead, Jack simply said, “I’ll see you at eight tomorrow cupcake.”

 

Rhys stared at his phone, before looking back up to his surroundings. Right, he was still on a date. And Jack had hung up without actually helping him to come up with a way to get out of it. He sighed, putting his phone back in his pocket. It was probably better this way. Axton didn’t deserve to get some cliche line about having to leave because somebody got in a car accident.

 

He walked back over to the table, returning a tight smile when Axton smiled at him. “So, hey,” Rhys started to say, rubbing the back of his head nervously. “You’re really great, and I enjoyed this. I just don’t think it’s going to work out. I’m really sorry.”

 

“Hey, no need to apologize. Sometimes things just don’t work out,” Axton said, still smiling. “I’m just sorry it couldn’t have worked out with me, because you seem like a really great guy. Also, super cute,” Axton winked, causing Rhys to blush slightly. “You need a ride home?”

 

“Uh no, thank you though.”

 

“No problem, and if you ever change your mind...call me.” Axton grinned, while Rhys thanked him again for the meal, paying for his half before leaving.

 

***

“Sooo….you’re telling me that Handsome Jack asked you out on a date?” Vaughn asked, raising an eyebrow at Rhys.

 

“Yes, why would I lie about that?”

 

“Well, you are kind of obsessed with the guy. Also, you have to admit that it’s a little far-fetched,” Vaughn replied. Rhys glared at him, but he knew Vaughn had a point. It was pretty hard to believe.

 

“I know, but he really did. Look, he even texted me the details!” Rhys showed the message from Jack, to Vaughn, who squinted at it.

 

“Is that a winky face emoji?”

 

“Yeah. But bro seriously, I’m freaking out. Like what if it’s just a joke to him?” Rhys said, now seriously starting to rethink going on a date with one of the most powerful, and often unpredictable, men in the universe. Though, he wasn’t sure he could exactly back out either.

 

He’d maybe had a crush on the guy for years, but it was Handsome Jack. Why would he ever want to go out with a guy like Rhys? Except, now he’d actually asked him out. And Rhys wasn’t sure what to think about it. He didn’t know if he could take it if it was just some prank that the CEO was pulling.


 

Date #6

 

Rhys had spent all day trying to get ready for his date, and trying to not freak out. He was still actively worrying about whether it was a joke or not, but decided that he would have to just go and deal with it then.

 

As he got to the restaurant, his nerves nearly shot through the roof. The place was fancy, like really fancy. Shit, he was not dressed for this.

 

He walked up to the host, who gave him a judgemental look after looking at him, but before he could say anything Jack was there.

 

“Rhysie!” Jack threw an arm around the younger man, sweeping him past the now slightly shocked host. Rhys gave the host a small smug grin as they passed, before shooting a nervous smile at Jack.

 

“You could have told me that we were going to a place this fancy. I would have dressed nicer,” Rhys said, which was probably a lie. He didn’t even think he owned clothes nice enough to fit in here. At least Jack was wearing his usual attire, which wasn’t exactly the fanciest either. Though he was Handsome Jack. The man could be wearing nothing and still be allowed to dine here.

 

“Well, I did tell you I was going to take you out on a proper date. And that means the full experience kiddo.”

 

“Yeah, but I’ve never even been in a place this nice before, let alone on a date…”

 

Jack rolled his eyes, sitting down at one of the tables. “That’s because you’ve been dating losers pumpkin. And I intend to fix that,” Jack smirked, causing Rhys to blush. “You’re gonna be all mine cupcake.”

 

Wait, the way Jack had worded that made it sound like he wanted to date Rhys, as in ‘dating’. Not just take him out on a date.

 

“So, wait this isn’t just some kind of joke? Or because you’re bored?” Rhys asked, barely daring to get his hopes up.

 

Jack just stared at him in disbelief. “I don’t joke about getting what I want kiddo. And believe me, if I was doing this only out of boredom, I probably would have stopped about the second time you called me. Though your life is pretty frickin’ hilarious, because seriously.”

 

“Oh…” Rhys blushed, causing Jack to grin. Jack wanted to date him. Like actually date him. He smiled slightly at the thought, then looked at him thoughtfully, “You know, I don’t really know that much about you.”

 

“What do you want to know kitten?” Jack smirked. Rhys thought it over.

 

“Why did you help me out that first time?” Rhys asked. “You know, when I accidentally called you.” Jack seemed to be thinking about the answer before shrugging.

 

“I dunno. I was bored,” Jack replied. His face split into a grin, “Plus, I looked up your employee profile and Hyperion ID photo as soon as you said you worked here. You’re pretty cute when you’re nervous cupcake.”

 

Rhys blushed at that, knowing how flustered he’d been in that picture. It had been his first day of work at his dream job, and he had been extremely nervous. He had put significant time into his appearance that day though, because what if he ran into Handsome Jack? That fear now seemed irrelevant since he was on a date with the man, but it was nice to know that all that time getting ready for his ID picture wasn’t totally wasted.

 

“Also, I can’t believe that was you that caught that error in the Dahl report. Those assholes nearly shit themselves when I walked into the meeting and pointed it out. So ya know, thanks for that,” Jack laughed.

 

Rhys smiled, still blushing slightly at the CEO’s praise. He couldn’t believe that Handsome Jack had just personally thanked him for doing a good job on something. Rhys had combed through those reports for hours, so it was good to know that it was worth it.

 

The two continued to talk as they ate their dinner, which Rhys had to admit was some of the best food he’d ever had. Jack had been telling him some story about what he’d done to one of the department heads who’d been late to a meeting earlier that day. The poor man had nearly passed out from fear alone as Jack had locked eyes with him and had started bawling when the CEO grabbed him. “I didn’t even have to do anything and he was all like wah I have a family, please don’t kill me,” Jack laughed. Rhys laughed, and should probably not have found it as funny as he did.

 

Their dessert was brought out by one of the servers, and was the most decadent piece of chocolate cake that Rhys had ever laid eyes on. He took a bite of the rich cake, trying not to just shovel the whole thing into his mouth, when he caught sight of Jack. The older man hadn’t taken a single bite, but was instead staring with an amused expression at Rhys, who looked back down at his cake, feeling his cheeks heat up slightly. He coughed slightly, before excusing himself to go to the bathroom, watching as Jack eyed him. Rhys smiled at him, assuring him that he’d be back in a moment. Once out of sight, he pulled out his phone, dialing Jack’s number. He could see Jack from around the corner, who looked down at his phone in confusion, raising an eyebrow as he saw the caller ID.

 

“Rhys?” Jack answered the phone.

 

“Hey Jack, I need some help. I’m on this date and this guy is just awful,” Rhys said, a slight teasing lilt to his voice. “He didn’t warn me that this place we were going to was super fancy, leaving me completely underdressed, and even though the food is fantastic, I think he specifically chose this place just so he could prove some point.”

 

He could see Jack look around until his eyes landed on Rhys, who was now leaning against one of the walls near the back of the restaurant.

 

“Oh really?” Jack narrowed his eyes at Rhys, though he didn’t sound angry.

 

“Yeah, and the worst part is, despite that, I don’t think I want to leave.” Rhys grinned, and Jack looked momentarily surprised before returning it with a grin of his own.

 

Rhys started to walk back towards the table, hanging up the phone as Jack raised an eyebrow at him. “No, I think I’ll stay here,” he smiled, now leaning slightly over the table.

 

“Shame, because I can think of some fun things we can do if we get out of here,” Jack said, a feral grin on his face as he leaned towards Rhys.

 

“Oh?” Rhys asked, an amused tilt to his mouth. “Well then, lead the way handsome.”