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A Carnival

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Bitty had been so excited for this date. It was with some guy Ransom and Holster knew, an English major named Todd. He’d had high hopes for their date, but alas the guy was just as pretentious as his name and major suggested. They were at a local carnival that was in town for the weekend, but even that couldn’t save this awful date.

“Oh!” Todd exclaimed, spotting the row of carnival games, “I have to win you something. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t win my date a prize at a carnival?” Bitty could practically hear Shitty’s rant about toxic masculinity and gender roles in the queer community, but he just pasted on a grin and trailed after his date, trying not to look like he was in too much pain.

After 30 darts thrown and $50 spent, they were no closer to getting the plush dog almost as large as Bitty himself as when they had first started. Todd had (idiotically, in Bitty’s opinion) picked a high risk, high reward game. There were only giant prizes, but you had to hit three balloons in a row to win a prize. 5 attempts in, Bitty tried to convince him that it he should stop, or ‘at least try a different game, for goodness sake!’ but he refused to listen, saying something about his manhood being at stake. Bitty had long stopped trying to convince Todd to stop, or trying to hide his frustration. He was openly groaning and rolling his eyes and hoping his date would eventually get the point and quit this nonsense.

He had turned to Todd once again was about to start pestering him about leaving again when he felt a presence at his back. When he turned around, there was a beautiful stranger leaning against the counter, 5 dollar bill on the counter and a little smirk on his face. He was gorgeous, a backwards snapback doing little to hide his adorable honey blond cowlick and a smattering of freckles across his cheekbones.

“3 darts, please,” the man said, and his voice was just as attractive as his face. Bitty stood there paralyzed as the man lined up his shot, and winked- winked! - at him before throwing the dart. It hit it’s target, as did the other two thrown in rapid succession. Bitty continued to stare as the man received his prize, and was only broken out of it when the man turned and handed him the toy

“Thank you so much!” He said, grinning and trying to figure out how to properly hold onto the huge toy, the thing was completely impractical.

The man shrugged. “ It’s no big deal. It’s the least I could do after watching your boyfriend-”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Bitty was quick to jump in.

“Alright, after watching your male acquaintance struggle with it for the last whoever-knows-how-long. I’m Kent, by the way. Wanna come sit with me so we can discuss how much of a loser your not-boyfriend is?”

“That sounds lovely,” Bitty said, ignoring Todd’s furious attempts to get his attention and following Kent to a nearby bench.

Todd finally hissed “You can’t just ignore me, I’m your date! I paid for your entry ticket, and for all our food, fuck I just wasted 50 bucks on a carnival game for you!” Kent prickled, looking like he was going to get up and punch the asshat right in the jaw, but Bitty put a gentle hand on his forearm, gave him a calming look, and stood up himself.

“Yes, you did spend money on me, and no, that does not mean I owe you anything. I offered to pay for the ticket, I offered to help pay for the food, but you insisted out of some misguided attempt at chivalry. I told you not to play that stupid game, but you did anyway because apparently your manhood was on the line. I have never met a man with as fragile masculinity as you have, Todd, and I play college level hockey. I’ve wanted to ditch you from the moment we walked through those gates, but because I am a Southern gentleman whose mama raised right, I decided to grin and bear it. But this is the final straw. I will not stand for anyone assuming that I owe them anything, and I will not put up with any more of your bullshit.” With that, Bitty sat back down on the bench, having refused to raise his voice above speaking volume so as not to cause a scene. Todd wandered away, looking slightly dazed after the sound thrashing just delivered by the little baker.

“Woah dude that was fucking savage!” Kent exclaimed, eyes wide. Bitty startled, having honestly forgotten Kent was there.

“Thanks,” He said shyly, “I’m Bitty by the way. Well, my real name’s Eric, but everyone around here calls me Bitty. Thanks for helping out there. And for winning me the toy.”

“It’s no problem, really. Nice to meet you, Bitty. I’m sorry your date didn’t work out”

“It’s okay, no harm done. I’m just mad at my friends who set us up, they said he was a nice guy. Though I can’t say I’m all that surprised, his name’s Todd. I mean really, can you get any more pretentious? And he’s an English major. The only way it could get any worse was if he was an lax bro, but I know Ransom and Holster would never set me up with one of them…” He’s babbling. He knows he’s babbling, it’s just what he does when he gets nervous, and who wouldn’t be nervous with an attractive stranger sitting next to them? Luckily before he could embarrass himself too much, Kent began to chuckle. Bitty turned to glare at him playfully. “And what do you think’s so funny, mister...?”

“Parson, and no it’s nothing. It’s just, you’re really cute when you ramble like that.” Kent laughed as Bitty turned bright red and tried to hit him with the giant stuffed dog. It turned into a bit of a scuffle as Bitty abandoned the dog in favor of using his hands.

“But seriously though,” Kent said after they both calmed down, “do you wanna finish your date? With me, I mean. We could go on some rides or get some food or…” it was Kent’s turn to look awkward, shifting around nervously and avoiding eye contact with Bitty. Bitty laid a gentle had on his shoulder.

“Of course, honey. Can we just sit here for a while? I’d like to get to know you better.”

And so they did. They talked about Bitty’s major and classes and friends, they talked about what it was like for him growing up gay in Georgia, and family and past relationships. Kent took out his phone and showed Bitty his cat and they cooed over how adorable she is together. They talked about hockey, where Kent confessed that he’s a professional hockey player, captain of the Las Vegas Aces no less. Hockey took up most of their conversation after that. The conversation flowed easily between them, chirping and flirting with each other coming as naturally as breathing. Before they knew it, it was time for Bitty to go back to the Haus and Kent back to his hotel. Kent offered to drive him back to campus, and he left Kent’s rental car that evening with a new number in his phone and the ghost of a kiss still pressed to his lips.