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First Date

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The litany was always the same: their names and variations on, "Over here! Come on, be a sport! Who are you dating!"

Except it was dinner -- sorry, Dinner, indicating a Date. They hadn't touched the entire night, just sat across from each other and talked and laughed as they usually did. Chris was on his best behavior and hadn't once turned to the window (that they weren't even seated in front of) to acknowledge the photographers.

Which had led to a new variation of the litany: "So are you two queers finally hooking up?"

That was when Chris had spun around, found the photographer, and punched him square in the face. And the camera. And the stomach. And a few other places, too, but the punching was the significant detail.

 

*

 

It was a rage blackout, really, that's what it was. The next thing he remembered was stepping back, realizing his fists hurt entirely too much for just hitting a pudgy, loudmouthed human being oh fucking shit, and Zach laughing.

He turned around and raised an eyebrow because, yeah, there was Zach, just a few feet behind him, arms crossed over his chest, beanie unruffled, and laughing as if he would never stop.

"You are a fucking moron!" he yelled at Chris, but still laughing.

"What?" Chris turned away from the photographers and said, "No, I was -- that was -- they were so rude and --"

"You are a fucking moron," Zach repeated, still grinning and, yeah, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes. "Holy shit, we are never going to work again! We are sofucked!"

"My hand hurts," Chris said as he frowned and glanced at his knuckles. "I haven't punched anyone --"

"Ever?" Zach asked. He pulled out his phone, dialed 9-1-1, and waited patiently to be connected. "If you had, you'd realize how not worth it -- hi there, I'm calling for an ambulance?" Zach walked away and Chris listened to him use his sweetest, politest voice to describe the incident, sounding more like a telemarketer than a witness to some celebrity-on-fuckwad violence.

He came back, slipped the phone into the front pocket of his jeans where Chris had been sure nothing could actually fit, and laughed at him some more.

 

*


"I've had worse first dates," Zach informed him. "Like… oh, okay, the time my date spent the whole night telling me he wasn't sure if he could ever be with someone who had 'the unibrow gene' -- which I don't, by the way, I was just a very unkempt 16-year-old." He looked to Chris and said, "He was 27. I can't blame him, it's a bad year. You were pretty dickish when you were 27."

"I blame that wine movie, with the gross wig. You try being paid to look like Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's kid 90 hours a week and being happy about it."

"You mean their actual kid, Frances? I met her once; she's adorable." Zach looked over at Chris for a moment. "Way cuter than you, I have to say."

They were sitting on some random steps outside the restaurant, waiting for all the witnesses' statements to be taken and the police to officially dismiss them. Chris noted how they had been left alone now, and decided it might have been worth it.

"Should we call J.J.?" Chris asked.

"He's not our dad," Zach said. He had been playing with his phone and looked over at Chris again. "Your hand still hurt?"

"Yeah," he admitted.

"Good. Idiot."

"Shatner would have done it."

"Really?" Zach asked. "You think about that for a minute, because you only get one chance to play the Shatner card."

"I'm just saying --"

"He's Canadian."

Chris looked away to continue his sulking and Zach laughed some more. It also sounded like he muttered the phrase 'fucking moron' a few more times as he texted.

*

 

"He's not pressing charges," a cop said at around 3 a.m. "You're free to go."

"Great," Zach said as he pulled Chris to his feet and wrapped his hand around one of Chris' biceps like a tourniquet. "And you have our information in case you need to follow up?"

"Right here," the cop replied as he held up his clipboard.

"Thank you so much for your help, we really appreciate it," Zach said with a smile. "Have a good night!" He yanked Chris away and led him towards the valet window down the street.

"What the fuck was that?" Chris hissed. "Jeez, should I get you two a room or something?"

"Don't be such a fucking infant," Zach said as they approached the window. He dug the ticket out of his pocket and slid it through the opening at the bottom of the window.

"Zach it's not -- how is any of this fair -- would you let go of my arm?!"

"Actually, I won't let go of you until you're locked in the car and can't assault any more people tonight and actually, it's not fair at all," Zach informed him. "It's not fair that kids are starving all over the planet and don't have clean water while I'm paid a half-mil to put on some pointy ears and shave my eyebrows. It's incredibly not fair and it's not fair in your favor, so it's your responsibility not to punch people trying do their jobs."

"How can you be on their side?" Chris shrieked. "They demean us; we can't even go out without --"

"How can you be this old and still not understand compromise?" Zach asked with genuine shock in his voice. The car arrived and Zach let go of Chris to walk around to the driver's side and take the keys. They got into the car and Zach tipped the driver with a broad smile. Chris climbed into the car and tried not to scream.

 

*

 

Zach pulled up outside of Chris' apartment building and looked over at him.

"Nice silent ride home," he said. "It's not polite, you know, to bore the driver with silence on a drive that long."

"Yeah, sorry," Chris replied. "So."

"Yeah." Zach tapped his fingers on the wheel and said, "I had fun."

"Ha, right."

"No, I did, really -- even if I think it makes me the worst person ever to be laughing at you almost break someone's cheekbone."

"You did laugh a lot."

"Well, it was pretty funny that you think I've been alive and gay for 32 years but still need your tiny, girly hands to defend me." Zach sighed and put an arm around Chris' shoulders. "Are we okay? Can I stop being your dad and start being your date again?"

"Zach, I did something stupid and I need your support, okay?"

When Chris looked over, Zach nodded seriously and met his eyes.

"So remember that time, okay, it was a really long time ago," Zach began, "But we were coming out of this restaurant, right --"

Chris laughed and replied, "Oh, that time you had on that stupid fucking hat?"

"Yeah! And you had on your equally stupid one! Right, and then a photographer called us -- well, whatever, probably fags, those unimaginative cunts."

"I think I punched a guy, I can't remember, it was so long ago," Chris said.

"You totally did and it was amazing. You just like, wailed on him. It was horrible."

"Yeah, I was such a jerk."

"You really were. And then I drove you home and had to talk to you for like, 20 minutes just to get a fucking good night kiss, for fuck's sake."

Chris finally laughed and leaned in to press his mouth against Zach's. Neither one of them opened their mouths until they both laughed simultaneously at their awkwardness. Zach's hand went to the back of Chris' neck and rested there lightly as Chris kissed him with the tentativeness his bruised ego had mustered for protection.

"Tomorrow," Zach interrupted. "Friday night. High school movie marathon at my place."

Chris raised an eyebrow and asked, "As in, a marathon of high school movies or a movie marathon like we would have had in high school?"

"I say both. High school movies are great, and high school movie marathons usually end with groping all over the couch, so I don't think combining the two will necessarily end in a downside?"

"I'll give you a downside."

"Please do, whatever that is."

"I'll improvise."

"Sure -- let me know if you need any props."

Chris laughed again and they met for another kiss, more successful than the first and promising only better things tomorrow when Zach wasn't being choked by his seatbelt and Chris didn't have the gearshift digging into his knee.