"What?" I asked as I pulled myself out of my book and looked inquisitively over the rims of my glasses at the three girls in front of me.
"You agree, right?" my friend Stacey repeated.
My eyes narrowed. Last time Stacey asked me to agree with her, I ended up being the one to spray paint the principal's car back in high school. As a college student, I considered myself slightly more knowledgeable on the wiles of my friends.
"I'm not falling for this again," I said with a roll of my eyes.
Stacey let out an exasperated sigh. "Darn, I thought for sure that would work!" The rest of the girls at the table sighed along with her and pouted.
"All right, all right, what do you guys want? I'm not agreeing, but I'll consider it."
Stacey grinned from ear to ear and giggled conspiratorially with the others. "Ok, well, Erik… You know we really treasure you as our friend and all, and as your friends we just thought it would be good if you, you know, got out more often."
I raised an eyebrow. "And you plan to help me 'get out more'?" I asked with air quotes.
"We already know the perfect guy!" Laura chimed in excitedly.
Oh dear God, I thought as I moved my gaze from one excited face to another, they were trying to set me up. I asked, "And who would that be?"
"Raphael! Bryan's roommate, remember?"
I frowned slightly as I sought through my memory for this Raphael guy. "Wait, you mean Scary-Douche-Roommate-from-Hell Raphael? Why would you want to set me up with him?"
"Damn, I complained about him to you too, didn't I?"
"So I'm guessing this isn't about you wanting me to get out more, is it?"
Dani, the only one of the three to even remotely share my dark humor just chuckled and replied, "No, Stacey wants to hook up with Bryan."
"So why don't you?" I asked Stacey, "What does me going out with Raphael have to do with anything?"
"Because the guy's got like a vice grip on Bryan! Bryan doesn't do anything without consulting his roommate first. I need to distract Raphael, and then Bryan will be free to hang out with me."
"I still don't get what the problem is. And anyway, how do you even know that Douche-Roommate is gay in the first place?"
"That's the problem!" Stacey exclaimed, "He's so obviously gay and completely in love with Bryan. And Bryan keeps trying to tell me that he's actually just a really nice guy and a really good friend, but it's killing me!"
"So you wanted me to be the distraction," I monotoned.
"Yes! Exactly! I'm so glad you understand."
I just had to laugh. I laughed so hard my side began hurting. "Listen, Stacey," I said once I caught my breath and placed a hand on her shoulder, "just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm your little guinea pig. Best of luck with Bryan, but you're not getting any help from me."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! What if you just met the guy? I'm not saying go out with him, but maybe you might like him enough to be his friend?"
I shook my head and rubbed the stitch out of my stomach, "You gave the guy the nickname 'Scary-Douche-Roommate-from-Hell' and you think we're going to get along? But all right. I'll meet him. But only because I'm such a good friend, and I really think you should get out more."
After my last class that day, Stacey texted me asking if I wanted to grab dinner with her. Of course I agreed, she was my closest friend in college, but I didn't realize that dinner with Stacey also happened to mean dinner with Stacey, Bryan and Douche-Roommate.
"Hey!" Stacey called as I met her outside of the dining hall, "You've met Bryan before I think." I nodded and called a short greeting before Stacey continued, "And this is Raphael, Bryan's roommate."
"Hi, I'm Erik, it's uh, nice to meet you," I said and observed the tall, lean guy in front of me. I wasn't short by any means, but this guy towered a good four inches above me. His dark hair was wet, as though he had just taken a shower, and clung to his forehead and neck. His emerald green eyes were framed by a scowl that seemed to be permanently in place. I shuddered slightly when he locked eyes with me but I couldn't be sure whether it was from fear or not.
He never replied to my greeting, unless you count a grunt as a reply, and I barely noticed his eye roll before he proceeded to walk into the dining hall before us. Bryan hurried along behind him and shot me an apologetic glance while I shot Stacey a murderous one.
"What do you think you're doing?" I asked her in a frustrated whisper.
"What? You agreed to meet him didn't you?"
"Yeah, in passing! I never agreed to play double date with you and Bryan."
"It's not a double date! Although that would be a pretty good idea, wouldn't it?"
"That's not the point! Never mind. Whatever. Give me some money; you're paying for my meal."
"You dragged me into this! The least you could do is sponsor me. Think of the irreparable damage that will be done to my emotional state during this meal."
She grudgingly gave me a ten, though we both knew she deserved it. Stacey and I had been friends for a long time. She was practically a second sister to me, so I felt no qualms in treating her as such.
I walked into the dining hall and gazed around at my options. I noticed that Bryan was already heading to a table after having gotten a tray full of pizza, soda and ice cream. I held back a gag. Finally I decided on a simple sandwich from the deli. As I sidled over to the line, I was surprised to see Douche-Roommate just in front of me looking up at the menu options.
"What are you thinking of getting?" I asked conversationally.
He glanced behind him, presumably to see who had been talking, and just shrugged. "My only real option is tuna. What's new?"
I raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"I'm a pescetarian," he said simply.
Now both my eyebrows shot up in shock. That was unexpected. Judging from his lean frame though, I could see that the lifestyle was definitely working for him.
"Oh," I replied stupidly as the line moved up. I was never good at making small talk. I usually just kept to myself, but I felt compelled to talk to Douche-Roommate. Maybe it was because I knew Stacey would be all over Bryan and Douche-Roommate would really be my only distraction. "That must be rough. I mean the dining hall never really has that much fish usually."
He just shrugged again. "I get my protein elsewhere too. I'm not opposed to being vegetarian for long stretches of time."
The conversation lulled again as I tried to find something else to comment on. The fact that he wasn't even facing me was making it a lot more awkward for me so I just decided to leave it be for now. After I had ordered my delicious ham and jalapeno sandwich, I was surprised to see that he had waited for me just beyond the line.
"I think they got a table near the drink fountains," I said, assuming that's why he hadn't gone straight there.
He nodded and we walked in silence to the aforementioned table. I found myself wondering how he had gotten the Scary-Douche-Roommate-From-Hell nickname in the first place. Sure he wasn't very outgoing, but he wasn't really scary and he seemed friendly enough. Maybe Stacey's sexual frustration had blown it out of proportion.
I made a detour to grab a drink and when I finally got to the table, part of my confusion had cleared up. Douche-Roommate was literally glaring at Stacey as she sat across from him. She shot me a "what did I tell you?" look as I placed my tray opposite Bryan.
The guy had at least been civil with me in the line but it was like he was a completely different person now.
"So," Bryan began to clear the awkward silence and cleared his throat, "You're a film major, right Erik?"
My eyes widened a little, not expecting the conversation to turn to me. "Uh, yeah. And you're pre-med, right? I think I remember Stacey telling me something like that."
"Yeah, I'm Biology, pre-med."
I had to refrain from snorting at his admission. Honestly, everyone was a biology major until they weren't anymore. But seeing as Bryan was also a junior like Stacey and I, it seemed like he was one of the chosen few.
"Yeah," Stacey added, "Bryan's going to be a big time surgeon!"
Douche-Roommate rolled his eyes and I could almost feel the hate vibes that he was emitting.
"What's your major, Raphael was it?" I asked, catching myself before I called him Douche-Roommate to his face.
"Computer Science," he answered shortly, still with a glare on his face directed in Stacey's general direction.
Seriously, the change from the line to now was like night and day. My pocket vibrated, and as I pulled my phone out of my pocket I saw that it was a text from Stacey. I eyed her across the table and looked at the message.
'You're not doing your job properly! Distract him so I can talk to Bryan!'
I suppressed a growl and shot her a withering glance before I turned my full attention on Douche-Roommate. She so owed me for this.
"Computer Science, huh? That sounds tough."
He pulled his glare away from Stacey momentarily to answer me. "I guess it is, but I really like it."
"Oh, yeah, I know what you mean. I love it, but Film's more time-consuming than anything."
When he didn't reply, the conversation waned again, and I was starting to feel really exasperated.
"So how did you and Bryan meet?" I asked in between bites, forcing along the conversation.
"I've known him since high school."
"Stacey and I have been friends since high school too."
He merely grunted and continued glaring and eating. It was the hardest thing to control my annoyance. I was trying my hardest over here with the little that I had been given. How was it my problem that Stacey couldn't fight off Bryan's roommate long enough to fool around with him?
Now, as I watched her coo and fawn over Bryan, I regretted agreeing to this whole thing.
"I'm going to go get dessert," I said as I finished off the last bite of my sandwich. My mood had plummeted quicker than a boulder in the ocean and I was suddenly feeling cynical enough to leave Stacey to deal with Douche-Roommate for a little while.
"I think I'll join you," the aforementioned roommate surprisingly announced. I was really shocked now. Stacey shot me a discreet thumbs-up, and I turned to the frozen yogurt place at the other end of the dining hall.
When Raphael made no move to go elsewhere, I assumed that meant that he also wanted frozen yogurt too. But judging from the far-off expression on his face I probably could have led him to a butcher shop and he would have ordered something.
"What's the deal with your friend?" he asked abruptly.
"What's her problem? Does she like Bryan or is she just trying to get in his pants?"
This guy was definitely not what I was expecting. "A little of both, I think, why?"
It was as though he had suddenly realized that he was talking to a practical stranger, and he closed off. "It's nothing, never mind."
A few moments of silence passed where I considered him. His head was down and the scowl on his face was marring his admittedly attractive features. "Listen," I said after moment, "if you're worried about Bryan, don't be. I know Stacey pretty well and she'd never intentionally hurt anyone." I don't know why I felt the need to reassure him, because hell, I didn't even really know if Stacey was just playing around or if she wanted a serious relationship this time, but what I said was true. Stacey wouldn't hurt a fly if she could help it.
He turned his forest green gaze to me for what seemed like the first time since we'd been introduced and I felt my pulse pick up again. I didn't feel embarrassed because I certainly couldn't control my bodily reactions to an attractive guy, but it was a bit unnerving how his gaze remained on me until it was his turn to order his dessert.
"So how'd you get into film?" he asked as we sat back down with the other two. They had barely even glanced up at our return.
I was only briefly surprised that he'd paid any attention to the previous conversation to remember I was a film major. "Uh, well I've always been a fan of movies, so my dad got me my first camera when I turned twelve. I've been hooked ever since."
Raphael was intense. Even from just this first meeting with him I could see that. The way he leaned in to me and really listened as I talked all about the embarrassing films I'd shot as a kid struck me as odd. No one seemed to really pay attention to anyone anymore. The world was distracted so easily and I would be the first to admit that I'd spent more than one class period playing games on my phone. But not Raphael. If he wanted to listen to you, he listened, and I couldn't stop myself from talking.
Finally, I caught myself rambling. Raphael didn't seem to mind but if my mother had raised me to be anything, it was polite. "What about you?" I asked, "How did you decide on computer science?"
"It's nothing quite as sentimental as you," he said and I repressed a snort. He continued, "I just like playing video games. I figured why not make them?"
"Why not?" I replied in agreement and laughed. A quick glance at my watch had me pushing out of my seat. "Shit! I'm supposed to be at a review session in five minutes."
There was mirth swimming in Raphael's eyes as I rushed to grab my stuff. "It was nice meeting you, Erik," he said.
My pulse pounded in my ears again which I could have accounted to my being late, but I knew it was because my name coming out of his mouth was like the first bite of a rich dessert; decadent and sultry.
"You too," I said truthfully and bid Bryan and Stacey a quick goodbye before practically dashing out of the dining hall.
As I slinked my away across the darkened lecture hall to find a free seat a few minutes later, I couldn't help but shake my head at how the dinner had turned out.
I didn't see Stacey until a few days later. We had decided to have a movie night at my place.
"So what did you do to Raphael at dinner that night?" She asked incredulously as she settled down next to me with the popcorn.
"You're calling him Raphael now? What happened to Douche-Roommate?" I asked teasingly and grabbed a handful of buttered goodness.
"The funniest thing, he's not a douche anymore. I don't know what magic you worked on him Erik, but it's like he's a completely different person."
I pondered that lightly as I reached for the remote to press play.
"And," she continued as the opening credits began, "He keeps asking about you."
I choked on my popcorn.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading! This is my first story and I'd really like some feedback on it! Should I continue? Do you like the characters? Please let me know! Thanks again. =)