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Sweet Sixteen

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Eric, Frey thinks, is a great person. Really. He only acts like a manipulative bastard every now and then.

"I just think it's a good way to combine something pleasant with something you need to do, but have been putting off for much too long now," Eric reasons, sounding like he represents the voice of reason here, instead of the voice of pure insanity.

"Listen, it's not that I don't appreciate you trying to help me," Frey starts, figuring that the Truth shall be his shield and sword, and all that. "But. Don't you think my personal life is kind of, well, my personal life?"

The catch to that argument is, of course, that Eric has been a part of his personal life for nearly a year now, and that Frey still thinks of him as his best, if no longer his only, friend. Frey supposes that that gives Eric some privileges, except ...

"Frey," Eric says, in a tone of voice that reminds him disturbingly much of Headmaster Jorgen when he's speaking to a particularly slow and stubborn student, "you have barely even spoken to a girl since you came here. You can't go on like that. I realize that after Ida, it's hard to consider anyone else in a romantic light, but you should at least give it a try."

"Eric," Frey responds, parroting Eric's tone, though he sounds petty and childish to his own ears, instead of exasperated and at the end of his patience, as he'd aimed for. "I assure you that I don't have any intention of going to live like some hermit for the rest of my life, and that I fully intend to find someone nice and pretty to marry and find happiness with, but not yet. Not now. It's too soon."

"It's been nearly a year," Eric points out.

"Barely seven months," Frey ripostes.

"I only want you to be happy," Eric remarks, which is yet another proof that Eric doesn't care if he has to fight dirty to win this ridiculous argument.

"And I appreciate the sentiment," Frey assures him, implying that he doesn't really appreciate the action that's been motivated by this oh-so noble sentiment. He can't say it out loud though, not without earning a hurt look from Eric, which will probably make him feel so guilty that he'll cave.

"It's not like one tiny date, to celebrate your birthday is that big a deal," Eric argues coaxingly. "You'll have a good time, I'm sure."

Frey is tempted to say that if it's not that big a deal, Eric might as well stop bugging him about it. After all, that'd mean he acknowledges that it's no big deal, which wouldn't be a smart thing to do. What he needs right now is something good, something to take the wind out of Eric's sails without actually making Eric feel like he's lost.

"Who are you to talk about the necessity of dates anyway?" Frey demands. "Unless you've been keeping secrets from me, you aren't exactly having much of a love-life either."

Eric flushes. Frey feels like cheering.

"That's ... not relevant," Eric stammers.

"Yes, it is." Frey crosses his arms over his chest.

"No, it's not." Eric frowns, which probably means he's thinking, which, in turn, means Frey's going to have to be very careful how to respond to his next words.

"How about a compromise?" Frey proposes, going with the adage that an attack is the best defense.

"I suppose that would depend on the compromise." Eric looks suspicious.

Frey manages to smile, instead of grin. Barely. "Well, considering we both haven't been on a date for a while, why don't we go on a date together?"

Eric stares at him. Frey stares back, his expression utterly innocent.

"Fine." Eric shrugs, so casually as if he's dated other guys for all his life. Which, as far as Frey knows, he might have.

"What?" Frey wonders how he always seems to manage to talk himself into things like this. "I mean, I wasn't ... " Eric sends him a Look that promises him the mother of all guilt-trips if he declares he wasn't serious about not being wholly averse to dating Eric.

Frey reflects that he isn't, not really, and especially not if the alternative is Eric being 'disappointed' in him for the next two days - or the next two weeks, if he's unlucky. Besides, if there's one person he'd like to spend his birthday with, it'd be Eric.

If he's very fortunate, his family might send him a card, with all of their names written on it, the way they did last year. That was before Ida's death though. He doesn't have any friends living nearby, aside from the other students and Masters of the sanctuary, and while nearly all of them are dear to him, he thinks of them more as fellow-students and teachers than as real friends.

"Is the prospect of spending a day with me so depressive?" Eric inquires, his voice soft, while his eyes show that he's only partially joking, that Frey can just say that he doesn't want to go through with this, that he wasn't serious, and that Eric won't bug him about it.

"Not at all. I was merely thinking what a shame it was that my dearest friend hasn't yet found a wife, and that I should do my best to do something about that, for the sake of our deep friendship."

Eric, Frey muses, looks almost ... cute when he's at the verge of panicking. A part of him is aware that Eric's probably only acting, playing along, since he's a full-fledged Lotis-master, while Frey is merely a student, which means that it'll take a lot more than a bit of teasing for Eric to lose his composure, but that makes no real difference.

For the first time in what seems to be a long time, Frey finds himself looking forwards to his birthday.