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Number Ten Platter

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Neil and Andrew were not the type of couple to go on dates. And when Andrew wanted to get technical, he would make the point in saying they were not a couple at all. Even though they were to everyone else’s eyes.

They were not the type to go on dates but here they sat, on a double date with Dan and Matt.

Exactly one month ago, Matt had asked Neil and Andrew if they wanted to go on a double date. Before he could even finish his sentence, Andrew was out of the locker room and tugging Neil along by the sleeve of his shirt. Neil could only manage a mouthed ‘sorry’ before the door shut behind them.

Dan tried a week later. This time, she corned Neil at a rare time that he was alone. He never went anywhere without Andrew now. And if he did, he always brought a fox with him. The isolated and closed off life Neil had before the foxes seemed so far away. Almost like it happened to another person. Nowadays Neil loved the company. He thrived off it.

However, there was that one class that none of the foxes had. Neil said goodbye to Renee and was just about to walk into it when Dan rounded the corner. She had this fierce look on her face that always meant business. Neil considered bolting into the classroom but remained where he was.

“Neil Josten.”

“Dan Wilds.”

“You’re going on a double date with me and Matt.”

Neil tilted his head at that. “Who would I bring?” He asked, genuinely confused.

Dan looked at him like all the other foxes did from time to time. “You’re helpless. Actually helpless. Bring Andrew. You know, your boyfriend.”

The term boyfriend shook Neil more than it should have. “Boyfriend?”

“Jesus, I don’t know—whatever you two call it. Matt and I want to go on a double date with you guys. We think it would be—” She hesitated. “—Beneficial.”  

Neil pretended to consider it for Dan’s sake. Andrew would never go for it, and Neil did not exactly want to do it either. “No thanks.” And with that, he went to class.

For some odd reason that Neil would never understand, the foxes were obsessed with Neil and Andrew’s relationship. Jokes and questions about what they shared were made almost daily. And while Andrew did not seem to care, Neil was bothered by their fascination. It wasn’t that hard to get; Neil and Andrew had a—understanding.

So, when Dan and Matt asked for a double date the third time, Neil agreed but only if they stopped asking so many questions. Andrew agreed because Neil offered two truths that he would most likely regret later. Not that they had any lies between them now, but sharing what Neil was feeling was more difficult than he’d like to admit.

So here they sat, Andrew and Neil. Dan and Matt. On the most awkward double date in the entire universe.

Andrew was staring everyone down and had not said a word since the car.

Neil was desperately trying to keep the conversation afloat, but he was not as skilled as Nicky, and topic after topic died only moments after being brought up.

Not to mention the restaurant was so busy that no one had been around to take their order yet. “I wonder where that waiter is.” Matt commented for the third time.

“Four times.” Andrew spoke, surprising Neil.

“What?” Matt asked.

“You’ve said that same sentence four times.”

Okay, four times, Neil had counted wrong. He was not surprised that Andrew had been paying attention, even if he had that disinterested look on his face.

Thankfully, fourth time was the charm, and a waiter appeared at their table. “I’m so sorry I did not take your order sooner. Busy night.” He spoke in a rush. “What can I get for y’all?”

Dan and Matt ordered the same thing, and Neil ordered a chicken pasta that Andrew would probably nip at.

Then, the waiter turned to Andrew. “And for you?”

“The number ten platter.” He ordered, handing his menu back.

The waiter smiled carefully. “For dinner?”

Andrew just stared at him.

The waiter’s cheeks immediately began to flush. “Sir, uhm—that platter is all dessert. It’s like—five different pieces of cake.”

Andrew continued to stare.

The waiter began to get more flustered, glancing at the other foxes for help. “You want cake for dinner?”

“That’s what he wants.” Neil cut in, afraid for the poor waiter’s life. The waiter nodded quickly and whipped around so fast he bumped into a different waitress, spilling whatever drink she had in her hands.

 

After that date, Dan and Matt never asked to go on another double date with them again. Neil and Andrew, on the other hand, did go out after that. They just didn’t call it dates. They called it “how many different ways can I scare the waiter?”