Scott took in Hank typing away at his computer, before he sat nearby and took the slinky off Hank’s desk. As he turned it over he wondered if it was Hank’s or Bobby’s. It could always be one of Bobby’s attempts to add a bit of whimsy to Hank’s life, but it could also be one of Hank’s ways to pass the time, keep his hand busy as he thought. Scott let the slinky glide off his hand and onto his other as he sat back in the chair and waited for Hank.
Eventually Hank stopped typing, saved his work and turned. Hank raised an eyebrow and pointed out, “Robert usually offers Twinkies when he inadvertently cannot help but interrupt my work.”
Scott held out the slinky.
“A consolation prize,” Hank teased as he put the slinky back in its place on his desk.
Scott shrugged. Hank turned around.
“Do you actually stop working when you and Bobby talk?” Scott asked.
“It depends on the dilemma,” Hank revealed before he prompted, “Now, your quandary…”
As Hank trailed off their eyes met. Hank raised an eyebrow. Scott stared down at his hands as he admitted, “I’m not the most socially adept person.”
“I’m probably the last person that should be playing matchmaker,” Scott continued.
Hank’s lips quirked into a small smile, “And which two unsuspecting individuals are you attempting to manipulate in their romantic endeavors?”
“Not really manipulate,” Scott started, than off the look Hank gave him admitted, “Bobby and Jean-Paul.”
When Hank turned back to his computer and Scott realized that he was only going to get one word. Scott frowned, “Some validation would be nice.”
“You require validation?”
“Heather’s already agreed to help me,” Scott said as he shifted in his chair.
“You have one of Jean-Paul’s original team leaders agreeing with you,” Hank pointed out, “This begs the question of why you feel the need for my approval. What’s your ulterior motive?”
“He’s still snide with me,” Scott started, “It’s obvious he doesn’t feel comfortable in my presence.”
“Jean-Paul has never been known for mincing words,” Hank pointed out.
“The last time we worked together I took him off the team so he could focus fully on teaching,” Scott stressed, “He was one of the best teachers we had and he doesn..he…I didn’t know he’d misinterpret and think I’m homophobic. I should’ve taken him aside and explained myself and I didn’t and now it’s too late and I don’t know what to say that wouldn’t be awkward.”
Hank turned around and tilted his head, urging Scott to continue with his explanation.
“I know Bobby enough to realize that he’s interested in Jean-Paul,” Scott continued, “I’m just not sure about Jean-Paul. I’m not sure how he’s going to react, if I’ll just upset him more or if he’s actually interested in Bobby.”
Scott trailed off with an uncertain shrug before he pointed out, “Heather’s agreed to help.”
Hank smiled, “How can I be of assistance?”
Jean-Paul sat back slightly in his chair as he regarded Heather, “While I’m enjoying lunch and it’s been good to catch up, that’s not why you’re here.”
“Isn’t it?” Heather countered, “Can’t I show up for lunch with a good friend.”
“I’m a good friend?” he teased.
She reached across the table and took his hand, “Yes, you are. Or do you merely consider us teammates?”
“Never just that,” he chided.
“I always thought we were more of a family than merely a team.”
“Your husband did introduce me to my sister.”
Heather smiled at the memory before she asked, “How is she?”
Jean-Paul frowned down at his hands, “We are working on…I’d rather not talk about it.”
Heather nodded, “Onto lighter topics then. How’s your romantic life?”
“Lighter?” Jean-Paul mocked, smiling at the impish look on her face, “How is that lighter?”
Heather shrugged with a laugh as Jean-Paul regarded her. She sat back with a sigh, “After everything James and I went through and to finally get to the point where we’re happy and able to start a family, it makes me want to see my friends happy too.”
Jean-Paul raised an eyebrow.
Heather crossed her arms and challenged, “You do realize you deserve to be happy right?”
“Deserve yes,” Jean-Paul agreed, “However the practicality of finding happiness in a relationship is occasionally daunting. How’s your daughter?”
“Oh no,” Heather laughed, “You don’t get to make a remark that weighted and then change the subject!”
Jean-Paul regarded her for a moment before he pointed out, “I’m a mutant, gay and a successful businessman. I’m also, for reasons I still can’t determine, one of the X-men. Add in my incredibly bad taste in men and…”
“I refuse to believe you have bad taste,” Heather challenged, cutting him off.
Jean-Paul smirked, “Well, if the men I developed interest in were actually inclined to date me I would agree with you.”
“So you have a crush on a straight guy?” Heather questioned, “Or a guy who wants to be straight?”
“I’ve been down this road before,” Jean-Paul reassured, “I’ll be over it soon enough and as long as my sister doesn’t get involved it shouldn’t hurt too badly.”
Heather frowned at him a moment, before she conceded, “She did know about your crush on Walter before she started dating him.”
“I do believe it’s one of the reason Aurora pursued him.”
Jean-Paul frowned, “You know as well as I do how Jeanne-Marie felt about Aurora’s decisions. I’m just happy she finally has a diagnoses and is getting help, though after what happened the last time she tried in-patient treatment her not wanting me to visit doesn’t sit very well with me, but now I’ve changed the subject again.”
Heather reached out and took his hand again, squeezing it, “I’m sorry. You said you didn’t want to talk about her and I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
“I believe I was the one who brought my sister into this,” Jean-Paul disagreed.
Heather smiled slightly and shook her head, before she placed her chin in her hands and asked, “So, this crush, who are we talking about?”
Jean-Paul shook his head, a hint of a smile on his face.
“Well you said you had incredibly bad tastes and the only way to convince you that you don’t is to know just who this crush is on?”
“Crush,” Jean-Paul contemplated, “It makes this whole interest of mine sound so juvenile.”
“What would you want me to call it?”
Jean-Paul shrugged and admitted, “Iceman.”
Heather grinned, “He’s handsome.”
“That isn’t agreeing that I have bad taste in men,” Jean-Paul told her.
“I don’t see how liking Bobby is in bad taste.”
“He’s immature,” Jean-Paul tried.
“He makes you laugh,” Heather smiled.
Jean-Paul shook his head and admitted, “I do enjoy verbally sparing with him.”
“He wears Hawaiian shirts,” Jean-Paul tried again, “His clothing choices are a disaster.”
“And yet you like him anyway,” Heather laughed.
“You’re no help to me.”
Heather smiled and sat back in her chair, “Maybe I don’t want to be, are you sure he’s straight?”
Jean-Paul regarded her a moment and then sighed, “Likely. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell, but likely.”
“Are you sure?”
“Do you know something I don’t?” he teased.
“Probably?” he raised an eyebrow.
“Come on Jean-Paul, what am I going to know about Drake that you don’t?”
He shook his head and they shared a smile.
Bobby’s confusion as to why Scott would want to meet him for lunch disappeared as he realized he was about to be seated at a two-person table with Jean-Paul. Suddenly his recent conversation with Hank about relationships made sense. As he wondered at how much trouble his friends had gone through he took in Jean-Paul’s impassive face. Annoyance, confusion, hope, an emotion would’ve been nice. How was he supposed to judge Jean-Paul’s reaction if he couldn’t find any emotion on Jean-Paul’s face?
Then he realized he’d never seen Jean-Paul look so closed off before. Bobby smiled, he’d always been good at pushing through people’s walls and finding what they needed to voice. Maybe there was hope for him yet?
“I think we’ve been set up,” he teased as he dropped into his seat.
Jean-Paul had raised an eyebrow slowly, “I’m meeting Heather for lunch.”
“I was supposedly meeting Scott,” Bobby pointed out, “And considering I’m a few minutes late and they seated me with you, I’m pretty sure we’ve been set up.”
Jean-Paul crossed his arms, “I don’t know who I’m more angered with: Scott or Heather.”
Bobby sat back, “Angry?”
“This isn’t funny,” Jean-Paul snapped before he stalked away.
Bobby watched him go with a frown, noticed the disappointed looks on some of the staff’s faces. They’d defiantly been set up. He stared at Jean-Paul’s retreating form with the realization that he wasn’t going to let this end here.
A waitress joined him, offering sympathetic words and encouraging him to order as their bill was taken care of. Bobby smirked, a free meal for the two of them left him with the barest hint of a plan in his head. He ordered some water and called Scott to confirm that they’d been set up.
“I told Hank I sucked at this,” Scott grumbled, “That’s why I got him, Heather and Warren involved.”
“Scott, Warren and Jean-Paul don’t like each other,” Bobby pointed out.
“They’ll get over it,” Scott countered, “At least Warren said he’d try if Jean-Paul made you happy. What went wrong?”
“He doesn’t know you as well as the rest of us,” Bobby teased, “Doesn’t realize you couldn’t pull a prank off to save your life.”
“Great, he’s going to hate me.”
“No,” Bobby disagreed, “I think I can fix this, I just have to figure out what Jean-Paul would’ve ordered.”
“Call Heather, they had lunch there a few days ago to make sure it was a place he’d like,” Scott advised.
“You got her number?”
Heather, Bobby found, was very helpful and before he knew it he had two meals to go complete with desert. Acquiring the drinks and supplies he needed from the kitchen didn’t take much effort either. By the time Bobby made his way to Jean-Paul’s room he’d almost managed to banish the nervous knot in his stomach.
Could they be wrong? Maybe Jean-Paul just wasn’t interested in him. Bobby took a deep breath and paused outside the room. Even if Jean-Paul wasn’t interested, Bobby told himself, he had to smooth over the misunderstanding they’d had at the restaurant. Hopefully Jean-Paul was interested though, Bobby was tired of pining.
After another deep breath to steady himself Bobby pushed, the already cracked, door open and leaned against the doorframe. Jean-Paul dropped the book he was holding into his lap and stared for a moment.
Bobby smiled, that was actually encouraging. He frowned as he watched Jean-Paul begin to form walls, watched as Jean-Paul’s face became closed off. Bobby pushed off from the door frame and closed the door behind him. He came around the bed until he was in front of Jean-Paul, then he carefully set down the picnic basket he’d constructed. He began to spread out the blanket he’d carried in his other hand.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Bobby smiled as he explained, “Setting up a picnic. Our friends went to a lot of trouble to set us up, the least you could do is share dinner with me.”
There, he’d said it, now Jean-Paul could either reject him or…
Jean-Paul stood, dropped the book on the chair before he turned to Bobby. He looked down in confusion as he forced out, “Bobby, you’re straight.”
Bobby’s eyes widened as he suddenly realized why they’d never gone beyond subtle flirting before.
“That’s just a vicious rumor,” Bobby teased, “I dated Cloud and I admit I freaked out the first time she turned a guy, but we had a good relationship.”
“Yeah,” Bobby nodded.
Jean-Paul sat down slowly, gracefully and tilted his head, obviously waiting for an explanation.
Deciding not to ramble on about Cloud, which would’ve been easy, Bobby told him, “I’m bisexual and I swear if you give me hel…”
Bobby trailed off as Jean-Paul leaned in, eyes darting over his face. Bobby breathed him in, almost closed his eyes. How was it Jean-Paul always managed to smell so good? Jean-Paul reached over and took the plate that was in his hand and set it aside. Bobby followed the movement with his eyes, then his gaze settled on the blue eyes staring at him with an intensity they never had before.
Bobby was caught, unsure of what to do. He wanted to wet his lips, touch Jean-Paul, move closer, but he couldn’t decide what to do first. Jean-Paul was so very still, leaned in and close. Gradually Bobby reached up and cupped Jean-Paul’s face. Their lips met.
All the half-starts melted away. All the flirting that had been brushed aside came speeding to the surface.
Lips parted, tongues danced and Bobby wanted more, so much more, all at once and with an intensity he wasn’t used to.
They started to part, but Jean-Paul pulled him back and Bobby groaned at the feeling of being pulled close, of being wanted. He wanted…needed…Bobby pulled away slowly, breathed slowly.
“Most people wait till after the first date for first kisses,” Bobby pointed out as he wet his lips and reminded himself that they still hadn’t eaten dinner. He glanced at the food and tried to ignore the part of him that no longer cared about the food.
“By then you might decide you don’t want one,” Jean-Paul countered.
“Oh I’m going to want another one,” Bobby laughed, “Probably more than one, but we also have a picnic.”
As he watched Jean-Paul relax and begin to explore the basket Bobby realized he shouldn’t have doubted to begin with and that he was going to have to thank Scott.