Roxas and Xion sat at the table inside a little sandwich shop near campus waiting for the hot, blue-haired bartender to show up. Xion was probably right when she suggested that Zexion would be more comfortable meeting Roxas in a friendlier situation with more than just the two of them present, but it did make the conversation he wanted to have with the blue-haired bartender a little more complicated then. …didn’t it?
He fidgeted, looking at his phone, then the clock on the wall before checking the door again. Dude, chill, he tried to tell himself. You’re early. But it was very difficult to relax when he was about to put so much of himself on the line here. Roxas didn’t even know how he would say some of the things he needed to say… or how Zexion would take them.
Oh boy. He half hoped that the other man wouldn’t show up, but the echoes of disappointment when he imagined that were more painful than he had expected them to be, as well. Taking another sip of his soda, he glanced at Xion before turning his attention back to the door. Maybe if he stopped looking at it the other guy would show, or had he decided not to come after all? Ah!
Why was Roxas so nervous? Oh yeah, because he was proposing something today that made him feel like a bit of a crazy person, or a pervert depending on this guy’s point of view. This would have been so much easier if he knew what Zexion thought of him, but it was a little too late for that now. Checking the time again, he sighed, and turned his eyes down to his untouched sandwich.
Matchmaker Xion: It had a nice ring to it, maybe?
Probably not, on second thought.
Still, the raven-haired freshman thought it was kind of cute how lovesick her blond classmate happened to be. She couldn’t honestly say she’d experienced much of anything remotely relating to real attraction, so Xion didn’t necessarily understand it on a personal level herself. But still, she could think it was cute when she saw it in others.
“Simmer down, sly,” she said, noting Roxas’ fidgeting movements. ”If you described his personality accurately, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t show up.”
Part of her was curious to meet this mystery man number one as well, after all she’d heard about him. Zexion. Zexion, Roxas, and some third guy whose name she didn’t yet know. She’d never heard of a polyamorous relationship with three guys being successful, but it was an interesting idea to ponder. Guys — gay guys in particular, she figured — could be really possessive. And jealous. They’d just have to see, she supposed. It was sort of like a science experiment.
She was just here to act as a buffer, to ensure the other guy wasn’t scared off by the idea of this being a date when it wasn’t. Yet. She’d even told Roxas he had her full confidentiality on anything she overheard. Who would she have to tell anyway? She’d pretty much admitted to him that she had no friends, at school or elsewhere. The only thing there for her was her artwork. And …Roxas? Maybe.
Unconcerned that the time was drawing closer for Zexion to appear, Xion pulled out a pencil and began doodling on her napkin. Before long, she had a good handful of different sets of eyes before her. She drew Roxas’, her professors’…even some of the bitchy girls in her dorm.
How ironic then that when Zexion did actually end up appearing, Xion could see only one. For the time being, she kept her mouth shut. But still, the devious thought lingered: just what would his reaction be if she brushed that meddlesome hair out of his eye for a better look?
Axel’s ex-boyfriend, if that’s what he was, wanted to have lunch with him. He wasn’t sure if it seemed like a trap or something much, much stranger. Why him? To Zexion this all seemed a little much. It wasn’t as though he was good looking or anything, and he had gone through most of his school years knowing full well that he was just an awkward gay guy that most people might like but who wouldn’t really have many dates or boyfriends or much of a social-life at all. Why was it now that things were starting to head into the land of social awkwardness and encounters of the popular-blond kind.
Not that he knew Roxas very well or anything, but the guy had the kind of looks he would expect to see from the school jock who could get girls to hang off of his arm like candy off of a department store Santa Clause. Why were guys like Axel or Roxas even looking twice at him when they had each other? This was some sort of horrible prank, wasn’t it?
The bell on the sandwich shop door rang as he pushed it open, denying him any chance of entering silently. Roxas was immediately recognizable as his savior from nearly a week ago; the guy who had handed his heart back to him with a few simple words. He would have to remember to ask the blond how he knew Axel to… verify what the red head had told him. After all, it was just a little strange that the man who was apparently so into him that Zexion had found him pinned to the wall within seconds of entering the man’s apartment in every encounter they’d had so far was so hesitant to share details of his work life where this blond guy was not. What was going on?
Without offering much more than a nod to each seated person, Zexion sat noisily down at the table, blushed, and looked at the menu as though he was hungry and might want something to eat. He wasn’t and didn’t, but it was easier than looking at the people sitting at the table with him while he tried to think of something to say to them.
Gay boys in particular.
Xion found herself rolling her eyes as both guys around her got very awkwardly silent. Did she have to do all of the work? It wasn’t like she was the most social person on earth either.
“So, you’re Zexion, and you’re Roxas,” she said, her voice exaggerated to show her exasperation. ”So that obviously makes me Xion, third wheel extraordinaire. Hi.”
When that initially only got Zexion’s nose even further into his menu, she tried again.
“I’d recommend the Lebanese chicken sandwich,” she offered. ”Unless you’re vegetarian. Then I’d go with the portobello focaccia. Both seemed to get really good reviews on Yelp. I checked before we came over, although I’ve heard they sometimes rig their pages to give better reviews to businesses that pay them extra, so it’s hard to know for sure.”
It was possible that Roxas was shooting her an incredulous look, but seriously, screw him for the moment since he obviously wasn’t getting much done on his own. Xion knew things. She could improvise.
“And you’re actually a student at St. Merritt, right,” she asked Zexion, just to verify. ”You look a bit…mature, I guess. And I’ve never seen you in any of my classes, but I’m an art student so maybe that makes sense.”
At this point, Roxas looked positively…what was the word for it? Xion was sure it’d come to her at some point. Until then, she daintily folded her hands on the table in front of her and returned the blond’s look with a sweet smile of her own.
Roxas felt his eyes widen at Xion, and then a very strong urge to kick himself for not getting started as nonchalantly as she had. He looked at Zexion’s reaction, and found himself grinning like a complete idiot at the slight color in the other man’s cheeks. By the stars, but he was cute.
Trying to think of an ice breaker, he opened his mouth to say something, but his new friend continued on ahead of him. It was probably just as well, since he hadn’t thought of anything but still… he kind of wanted to kick her under the table at the moment. That was when Zexion answered though, and Roxas forgot his frustration with Xion almost at once.
“I’m a, uh, Junior,” he said, finally looking at her.
Those strangely colored blue eyes looked her over, assessing and regarding at the same time, like he was sizing her up but not in a way that made him look remotely interested. Definitely gay then, Roxas thought. The girl was too well endowed for anyone even remotely inclined to look at women not to notice those… particular spots. He had noticed, after all. Then again, that didn’t necessarily mean anything, did it? Ugh, he was reading too much into everything already. This was doomed to fail.
“You probably wouldn’t have any classes with me even if you weren’t an art student,” the blue-haired man continued on, his tone matter-of-fact. “My major’s a little more… practical than art.”
Roxas wanted to snicker, but he bit his tongue. What was funny wasn’t what this guy said, but the innocent way in which he said it. Almost as though he meant no offense, even though that was precisely what he’d given her. Chuckling a little, Roxas asked him what his major was. That was when those eyes focused on him for the first time, this time assessing him in a different way than he’d done Xion, and then … did he deflate a little?
“I’m an electrical engineering major,” he said, glancing at his hands, “with a minor in political science.”
Roxas glanced at Xion, unsure what he’d done wrong, before turning his full attention to Zexion. “I’m an Astronomy major,” he offered. “Um, with a minor in rhetoric,” Roxas finished, trying to find some common ground with this fascinating guy. “Are you hungry,” he said, but turned to look at the raven haired girl he’d brought with him, at a loss as to how to get this guy to relax. Roxas just… didn’t know what was wrong.
“Yeah, well,” Xion started, a small smile on her face, “who wants to be practical? I mean, where does that get you? Good job, nice salary, a cute guy hanging off your arm, if that’s your thing…who needs it?”
And weren’t these two just absolutely adorable? Xion thought so. Who wanted to date boys ever when they were cute enough to go on the shelf above her childhood bed, chibi-style?
God, was she ever a lesbian…
“And yeah, famished actually,” she continued, pressing on when the other two wouldn’t. ”I’m probably just going to get some chips and spinach dip. Not that I’m vegetarian, mind, but I’ve heard eating too much meat totally screws up your digestive track.”
So that’s what she ordered when the waiter next came around. She waited patiently for the other two to order as well, before forging onward with the conversation.
“Actually, I read about it, not heard it. I don’t really talk to a lot of people. Well, besides Roxas lately.”
She looked up at Zexion. ”What about you? Roxas said you two met in a bar, but he didn’t tell me much else. Are you from around here? My family lives a bit upstate, thank goodness at least.”
Their food came and within seconds she was munching appreciatively.
“I hope you know you have interesting features,” she informed Zexion between mouthfuls. ”But your hair sort of gets in the way a little, which…” she looked from Zexion to Roxas then back again, “…I think is a little disappointing for both of us, ironically.”
This Xion girl sure did like to talk, didn’t she? Zexion sort of stared at her, offering answers when she turned to him automatically, but with as short a response as was possible, unsure of how to act around someone so chatty.
“He was at the bar I work at,” was one such response. “Yeah, my mother lives ten minutes from the student housing,” was another. The rest were nods, shakes of the head, ‘uh huh’s, and ‘uh uh’s. Really, he wasn’t trying to be antagonistic or difficult, he was just out of his element.
When the food he’d ordered arrived, Zexion poked at it, only actually sipping the drink for something to do. His eyes felt strained from trying to look everywhere except at Roxas, and from accidentally meeting Xion’s once or twice and flying in the other direction. Now that he had a plate to busy himself with though, his blue eyes began to become trained mostly downwards with occasional glances up at his tablemates from time to time.
If Axel had dated this guy, this Roxas, why on earth was the red head even looking at someone like Zexion? He couldn’t understand. Of course his logical mind reminded him that the well-dressed man had left a phone number for Zexion to reach him if he needed him, but that didn’t assuage his worries. What did it mean if this was the kind of guy he could be with whenever he liked? And what did this blond guy want with him, if not to get back at Axel or get revenge on him for being with his ex? Zexion was nervous.
His female tablemate started talking again, and he looked up at her automatically, surprised that she could still have something else to say. Didn’t she eat? The mental complaints he was composing faded when he heard her words, however. Zexion froze, looking at her with slight awe. What did she mean by interesting? Wait, what did she mean disappointing? No, what did she mean for ‘both of us’?
Blue eyes glanced up at Roxas, whose eyes were intent upon his, and the realization of what Xion had just said began to creep up his neck as a blush that he did not know how to suppress. Was that why the blond invited him here? He found Zexion’s features… interesting? What did that mean?
Looking back at the female, he tilted his head back and jerked it slightly to the side, shaking his hair free of his face before glancing uncertainly back at Roxas waiting for the blond’s reaction. When he spoke, however, Zexion addressed Xion, “Is… that better?”
The moment Zexion whipped his hair away from the covered side of his face, Xion figuratively jumped into action.
“Don’t move,” she said, reaching for her pencil and flipping her napkin over to the other side. Her eyes flicked back and forth from Zexion down to her make-shift drawing pad and back up at the college junior in front of her as she quickly sketched out the other side of Zexion’s face that had been missing from view before.
Very quickly, the image began to form on the napkin in front of her: guarded, inquisitive eyes, framed by a slightly furrowed brow, down-turned but full lips, and a strong but not overbearing nose. Then she began to add in his hair, the curve of his neck as it met his shoulders and more.
Her food was forgotten now nearby. When she drew, Xion was in her element, more than any other time. She’d drawn Roxas a few times too when he’d been deep in study mode. He was a good subject too, with traditionally handsome good looks and a friendly expression. Zexion was unique though. Not in-your-face handsome, he still had an alluring quality about him, especially when he hid half of his face behind colored blue hair.
“Much better, yeah…you’re just so fascinating to look at,” she agreed, with a hint of a smile. Then, turning to Roxas, Xion’s eyes took on a mischievous glint. ”Wouldn’t you say so too, Rox?”