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(that could be) our thing

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Here’s the thing: Christian isn’t exactly a people person.

It’s not like he doesn’t have friends. He’s got friends! He’s a friendly guy. But it takes some time for him to warm up to new people.

Christian can best describe Eric as an excitable golden retriever—energetic, loves attention, loves giving attention, and goddamn if he doesn’t have the world’s most sorrowful puppy-dog eyes when he’s disappointed about something.

There’s probably about ten examples of this in the short amount of footage Christian combs through while editing the car trip up to the campsite for the ‘Extrovert Spends Twenty-Four Hours Alone In The Woods’ video.

It starts when Christian admits that the premise of the video is less of a bonding experience and more of an “I’m kicking you out of my car in the middle of the woods and leaving you there, have fun, don’t die” experience. Eric looks equal parts betrayed, devastated, and terrified. His brow furrows. It’s cute kind of hilarious.

In retrospect, Christian feels a little bad for bursting Eric’s bubble moments after Eric had been saying how excited he was to get the chance to get to know Christian better.

He cuts some footage for the sake of time (Eric spends a while plaintively asking if they can change the video to “two strangers spend twenty-four hours in the woods and become best friends forever, Christian, please”) and picks back up when they’re finally pulling up to Eric’s cabin. He’d almost forgotten about Eric trying to go in for a hug, snorts when he watches himself give a mild but flat shutdown.

Eric-in-the-video gives him doubly mournful puppy-dog eyes in response.

Christian can already imagine the YouTube comments. Hell, he’s seen comments on other videos Eric’s been in—not that he’s obsessively watching Eric’s videos, of course, but when he’d decided to choose Eric for this project, he’d made a point to watch one or two. Just to get an idea of what Eric’s personality is like. He’s cute, is the point.

—that is, the internet thinks he’s cute. Not that Christian doesn’t think he’s— Christian thinks Eric is just fine.

Eric-in-the-video is currently freaking out about the fact that there are two (2) whole knives hanging on the wall in the cabin.

Maybe Christian thinks he’s a little cute.

Christian-in-the-video seems inclined to agree, based on the way he starts grinning in relief and exasperation and fondness when, later in the footage, he hears Eric howling like some kind of ecstatic, wild animal in the distance.

None of his reaction had been for the camera; it’s been a couple weeks since they filmed, but he remembers that clearly. Remembers knocking on Eric’s cabin door and getting no answer, seeing his bed empty.

At first, he’d rolled his eyes, thought jokingly to himself that it’d be just his luck if Eric managed to get himself in trouble after barely twenty-four hours alone. “Gonna have to change the video title to How I Got The New Guy At Buzzfeed Killed In Less Than Twenty-Four Hours,” he’d muttered to himself.

(He cuts that moment from the final edit.)

When Christian finally found him, Eric had shouted his name with such joy Christian started laughing. I missed you!! he’d yelled, like they’d been apart for weeks and not just a day.

Human goddamn golden retriever.

They didn’t film on the drive back to the city, but Eric had spent most of the drive babbling excitedly about nature and how cool it is and how great it feels to just be surrounded by fresh air and, Christian, are you listening, no you’re not, you’re just smiling like you think I’m an idiot, yes you are, stop laughing at me, Christian

He’s kind of disappointed there isn’t footage of him laughing while Eric whines at him.

It tends to take him a while to warm up to people, but Eric’s got some kind of weird personality that’s managed to get right under his skin in the best and worst ways. Christian’s not really sure what this means, except that when Eric pops up at his desk a few minutes later, begging his attention as if he’s not trying to get work done, he’s not annoyed.

“Christian!”

“I’m editing.”

Not that annoyed, anyway.

His short response doesn’t seem to matter; Eric’s bright smile doesn’t slip. “I know! You’ve been working all day. You should take a break.” In his peripheral, Christian can see him bouncing on the balls of his feet. Where the hell does Eric get all this energy?

He finally looks away from his computer monitor. “I need to get this uploaded by the end of the day because someone forgot to send me their footage when they were supposed to.”

Eric winces. “Right. Uh. I apologized for that.”

He did. “You did.”

“Look, lemme make it up to you and buy you a coffee. A break won’t kill you.”

Christian looks at him and sighs, managing to hide a smile that’s threatening to form despite himself. “Are you gonna leave me alone to work if I say yes.”

Eric beams.

——

“You know, we have coffee at the office.”

Eric looks up from his—Christian’s not exactly sure what he ordered. Something that was probably at least coffee-based to start with but has about a half-dozen pumps of different syrups in it. A coffee-flavored candy bar in a cup. As if he needs the sugar. “I can’t get this at the office.”

“Good point.” Christian sips at his own drink: a cappuccino with now-ruined art poured into the foam. Before he can say anything else, Eric sets down his cup and leans forward.

“So I was thinking,” he says in a rush. Pauses. Looks like he’s trying to find the right words.

That’s different for him. They’ve spent a little more time together since filming, and if Christian’s noticed nothing else, it’s that Eric tends to say whatever’s on his mind as he’s thinking it.

“Y’know, you lied to me,” is what Eric finally seems to decide on.

Christian blinks. “I— What?”

Eric nods. “When you asked me to be in the video. You said we were gonna go stay in a remote cabin together. Annnnd then you abandoned me, alone, in the woods. Cruelly and callously.”

Christian rolls his eyes. “And then you had a great experience and haven’t stopped talking about it since.”

Eric waves a hand dismissively. “Sure, right, but. The point still stands: you deceived me. I was promised a bonding experience.”

“You were promised— I didn’t say anything about bonding, I just said we’d be going together!”

“Okay, but in my head I had already decided that we were gonna bond, and then you denied me that opportunity, which is what really matters here. So, I think you owe me some quality Christian-Eric bonding time.”

“I do?”

“Yup.” Eric’s smug expression yields to one that’s slightly nervous. “I was thinking, uh, maybe we could. Go to dinner or something?”

Christian blinks. Processes. “Dinner,” he echoes.

Eric looks borderline panicked. “Not, like— Not like a date or anything! Just. Two bros going out to dinner together in a, uh, extremely heterosexual way—”

“You’re asking me on a date,” Christian says.

Eric deflates. “Sort of? Unless you don’t want to, in which case I am one hundred percent not asking you on a date.”

Christian is trying very, very hard not to smile. “Why wouldn’t I want to?”

“I don’t know! Because I’m weird and annoying and you’re, like, a lumberjack adonis—”

“A what?”

Eric goes from faintly pink to bright red in about four seconds. “A— Look, you’ve got the beard, and the arms, and— You know what, I’m gonna shut up now.”

Christian gives up and grins. “No, no, please, tell me more about my arms.”

“They’re so muscley,” Eric says, looking mournful about it. “Please use them to beat me to death so I can escape this whole embarrassing situation.”

“Dinner sounds great.”

“Seriously, death would be kinder, I can’t— What?”

Christian sits back in his chair and folds his arms over his chest, still grinning. “How about this Friday?”

Eric looks like he’s been hit over the head: stunned and slightly dazed. “Wait, really?”

“Unless you’re changing your mind.”

“No! Hell no, Friday is perfect, I have literally nothing else going on.”

“The extrovert has no weekend plans?”

“The extrovert was hoping you’d go on a date with him,” Eric says defensively.

“I let you buy me coffee, didn’t I?”

Eric pauses. Blinks. “Well, that’s. Different.”

“Is it?”

“I mean, yeah!”

“Eric,” Christian says, starting to laugh, “you do realize you essentially just asked me out so you could ask me out.”

“Coffee and dinner are two different things!” Eric protests. “Baby steps! It took me like a week just to ask you to coffee!”

“It did?” Christian’s trying to sound amused, but. Ugh. That’s cute as hell. Eric’s looking progressively more like he wants the floor to open up and eat him, so Christian takes pity. “Okay, okay. Dinner. You and me. Friday.”

Eric takes a breath. “Friday,” he repeats, and breaks into a giddy-looking smile. “Shit. Okay. Awesome.”

Goddamn, he’s cute. “Don’t immediately go talk about this on your Instagram.”

“I won’t!”

“Eric.”

“Well, I won’t immediately.”