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Five Star Review

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Tyson likes to think he’s a bit of an expert on bad dates. 

It’s not from personal experience. Well, not just from personal experience; he’s got plenty of his own stories about it too. But mostly it’s because as a bartender, he gets a front row seat to a lot of dates, and statistically, most of them are bad. 

He’s seen it all, really—from the ones that he’s actually worried about and has had to extract women from, to the ones where he has to go into the back before he starts cracking up. It’s an actual scale, one that he and the other bartenders set up—it started as a joke but Kerfy got weirdly into it and now Tyson thinks there are graphs, but he doesn’t question Kerf when he’s got that look in his eyes. 

Anyway, he judges the one in front of him now to only be about a 3.5, in his expert opinion. No one looks in danger of getting hurt or getting soaked in a drink, there are no crazy eyes involved, one of the guys involved is just…boring. 

Tyson’s not even being judgmental here. He’d seen Colin roll his eyes when they were at the bar as Colin talked with Josty, and Colin’s the nicest guy there is, so if he’s bored then Tyson must be right. 

It is getting kind of painful to watch, though. It’s a slow night—not many people are out on a Tuesday—and so Tyson doesn’t have much else to do other than watch. Not to mention, well. The guy who isn’t boring is probably the hottest guy he’s ever seen. (There’s a scale for that too, with some sort of formula between hotness and amount they tip. Kerf really needs his white board taken away from him). 

Tyson’s seen him around before, anyway; he suspects that he works and/or lives nearby, because he comes in a fair amount both in work suits and otherwise, and he’s brought dates here before. The dates tend to be very attractive too, in the same way the guy is—like they’re out of a magazine and also usually wear suits. Tyson doesn’t think he’s ever seen a repeat, though, which says something. (Nate thinks it says that Tyson pays too much attention to the guy, but Nate doesn’t have to work long boring weekday shifts at a bar, so he can shut up). 

Today, the date’s hot, as usual, but Guy Who Breaks the Scale looks like he’s actually about to fall asleep. That’s not usual, even when it’s bad, he’s generally way politer than Tyson would be if tips weren’t on the line. Although maybe sex is on the line for him, so it’s sort of the same? But today, GWBS  is clearly fading, and his date is clearly…not. 

Tyson scrubs at the bar, a little, so it’s not clear he’s just blatantly using customers as amusement. It distracts him, so when he looks up again and GWBS is there, he almost jumps. 

“Hey,” he says, and straightens. Resists the urge to touch his hair, just because GWBS’s is so good that he feels like he needs the extra mile in comparison. “What can I get you?” 

GWBS leans over, looking sheepish and very charming, his blue eyes sparkling. “I hate to ask this,” he says, with a twist of a smile. “But would it be possible for you to, um, spill something on me in the next few minutes?” 

Tyson snorts. “Not usually the request people make of their bartender. Usually we do a lot for the opposite.” 

“Yes, but.” GWBS glances over his shoulder, leans closer so he can lower his voice even more. “If you spill something on me, I have to go home to clean it off.” 

Tyson can feel himself start to grin. “You know, there are easier ways to get rid of a date than ruining a suit.” 

“Yes, but this one gets you a big tip,” GWBS says, but there’s something about the way he’s smiling that makes it not a dick statement, just a fact. GWBS does well on the scale generally because he’s also a good tipper, so that probably helps. “So—”

“Yeah, give me a few minutes. I can handle a spill, trust me.” 

“I am,” GWBS says. “With my sanity, if not my life.” 

“Oh, that’s a bad deal, anyone’ll tell you that. I’m not big on the not driving people insane thing,” Tyson informs him, but GWBS just smiles again, before he heads back to his date. 

A few minutes later, Tyson goes over, ostensibly to clear the empties; he manages a pretty smooth trip-and-spill of some juice onto GWBS’s lap. He hopes someone got it on film, because it was way smoother than Tyson expected it to go—he mostly expected to end up in GWBS’s lap without spilling anything somehow, because that was how his life would go. 

But he doesn’t. He spills, and GWBS jumps up and starts patting at it as Tyson apologizes as sincerely as he can—he thinks about it as apologizing to the suit for its sacrifice to the cause—and the date is horrified and GWBS makes his excuses and leaves, but not before leaving a 200% tip and mouthing ‘thanks’, so in Tyson’s book it was a good night. 

GWBS is back a few nights later, with another date. She’s a very pretty blonde woman, but Tyson just gets the feeling that she’ll be low on the scale. You get good at picking out bad tippers after a while behind the bar. He can see the date crash and burn, anyway; GWBS’s face starts out smiling and slowly horror comes out behind his eyes, though he keeps smiling. Tyson’s guessing a 5.3, though without hearing what she’s saying, he can’t quite tell. 

“I’m not spilling anything around her,” he says anyway, when GWBS comes up to the bar, something of that sheepish look in his eyes again. “She looks like the kind of person to give bad Yelp reviews, and you can’t make that up with a tip.” 

GWBS pauses, which makes Tyson think he really was going to ask. “Also,” Tyson goes on, “That’s a one of your nicest date shirts and I’m not ruining it, as like, a service to the world.” 

GWBS grins crookedly—Tyson is definitely sticking with the nickname—and runs a hand through his hair. “Okay, do you have any better ideas?” 

“Yeah, it’s called, tell her it isn’t working and go your separate ways.” Tyson pauses. “Unless something sketchy is going on. Do you need me to actually get you out?” 

“No, it’s just—” GWBS sighs. “She’s said some shit, about like, immigrants? I didn’t realize…” 

“That’s gross, but yeah, I’m sticking with the ‘telling her’ plan,” Tyson says. He’s so rarely the sensible person in a conversation. It’s kind of throwing him. “That way leads to way better reviews for me.” 

GWBS makes a face. “I’ve had, um. Bad reactions to that, in the past.” 

“Sometimes you get drinks thrown in your face, such is life, bud,” Tyson tells him. “You might be too pretty to understand that, but us mortals deal with it.” 

"No, I mean. Once a guy followed me home anyway, to prove I was wrong?” GWBS explains, which, fine, that’s obviously creepy. 

“Ah, the price of hotness. I clearly know that too,” Tyson says, gesturing to himself. GWBS snorts, which Tyson thinks he should be offended by. “No, dude, I totally do. Who among us hasn’t been catfished?” 

“You—” GWBS cuts himself off, shakes his head. “Okay, but can you help me?”

Tyson sighs, but GWBS is very attractive and a very good tipper and Tyson’s kind of invested at this point. “Fine,” he says, “But I expect a really good review.” 

“It’ll be glowing,” GWBS promises, and goes back to his date. Tyson waits a few seconds, then grabs Josty when he’s coming around from bussing tables, because he’s always up for shenanigans and has no room to judge. 

“Talk to me and look very worried at that dude over there,” Tyson tells him, nodding to GWBS. 

Josty immediately narrows his eyes into his best worried face. Tyson solidarity FTW. “Guy Who Breaks the Scale?” he asks, looking at him. “What’d he do?” 

“Nothing, we’re scaring off his date.”

“Oh, sick.” Josty makes a shocked face, then looks again and points. Tyson nods. He can see the date noticing, and giving GWBS nervous looks. “We should get Kerf, he can do scandalized like no one’s business.” 

“And how do you know that, junior?” 

"What happens in the apartment stays in the apartment,” Josty tells him, and then gasps loudly. Tyson shakes his head sadly. 

“Yeah, we should totally get someone else out here, though,” Tyson decides. “More dramatic. Hey, come here a sec,” he calls into the back. He gets Colin, which is less ideal because Colin’s too nice to really play along. 

“What’s up?” he asks anyway, rubbing his hands on his apron. 

“Look horrified at that guy over there.” 

“Guy Who Breaks the Scale?” Colin asks. He doesn’t look horrified. “Why? Did he doe something?” 

“We’re scaring his date,” Josty tells Colin cheerfully, though it’s at odds with his dark expression. 

Colin’s face shutters a little. “Guys, that’s—” 

“She was being racist, if that helps,” Tyson puts in, and Colin goes angry. He doesn’t do angry often, because he does a lot of work to be mindful or whatever, but he does do it well. Tyson points again at GWBS. 

The date says something, then she’s getting up, and—yes, leaving. 

Tyson waits a few beats, then high fives Josty and Colin. “Nice job guys.” 

“Thank you,” GWBS says, coming over to the bar. He gives them all a grateful smile, which, Tyson isn’t at all jealous he’s sharing it even though he was the mastermind here, whatever. 

Colin looks like he’s thinking about giving GWBS a lecture on how that wasn’t like, a great way of handling problems, but also GWBS is a customer and so not someone lecturable. It’s clearly a difficult problem, so Tyson saves him by giving GWBS a Look. 

“A great review,” he warns, “To make up for us compromising our morals.” 

“Yeah, of course,” GWBS agrees. “I—” 

There’s a crash from the back. “I need to…” Colin starts, and Tyson nods and lets him go. Josty follows him, probably because the kid’s got a nose for drama. 

“Everything okay?” GWBS asks, and Tyson shrugs. 

“Colin’ll handle it if it’s not. The kitchen’s his domain, I’m not allowed in.”

“Why not?” 

“Because I get too involved.” Tyson makes a face. “Apparently no one wants like, a chocolate creation, and so I need to ‘keep it at home, Tyson’ or ‘do your job and stop experimenting, Tyson.’ I’m Tyson,” he adds, to clarify. 

GWBS snorts. “Yeah, I figured,” he agrees, leans on the bar. It really sets off his arms, which Tyson thinks is unfair, because he already broke the scale. “I’m Gabe.” 

“Oh, sick, a name. Definitely better than your nickname.” 

“I have a nickname?” 


Gabe’s eyebrows raise. “Really?” 

“Yes,” Tyson lies. He’s a very bad liar, though, and so Gabe keeps looking at him. “Look, you already promised a good review, you can’t take it back now. Also you just had us scare a girl away, you don’t have any moral high ground here.” 

“Fair enough,” Gabe agrees. “What’s my nickname?“

Tyson sighs. He probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it’s not like he has a choice now. And also, Tyson’s not great at not saying things. “GWBS.” 

“And it stands for….” 

“Guy who breaks the scale,” Tyson admits. He knows he’s red. “We’ve got this whole like, scale formula thing, for hot customers who tip well, and you, well—” Gabe’s grinning, looking very pleased. “You got the nickname before all this,” Tyson warns, quickly. “So we didn’t factor that in.” 

“How high does the scale go?” Gabe asks, sounding very cocky. 

“Look, I don’t even know,” Tyson says, because it’s true and he’d rather say that than admit anything else. “Kerf set it up, and he’s like into numbers and shit and it’s way more complicated than it needs to be. I lobbied for a scale of like, Old Leo to Young Leo, but Kerf won.” 

“And where would I be on your scale?” Gabe asks. He’s still looking awfully smug, which is unfortunately but not unpredictably a very good look on him, all twinkly eyes and warm smile and broad shoulders. 

“Dude, no one compares to young Leo,” Tyson tells him, which is definitely true, even if he thinks Gabe’s still pretty close to breaking his scale. “That’s just, like, a universal truth. Also, you get points off for never going on second dates.” 

Gabe draws back, a little. “I go on second dates.” 

“Bud, you bring your dates here, and I see how many there are, and no one comes twice,” Tyson tells him. Gabe’s going a little red, which is a nice change. “No judgment, customer is always right and you do you or whatever, but—” he stops himself before he implies a customer is bad in bed, because he thinks that’s probably crossing some sort of line. He’s never been great at those sort of things, but he thinks Colin wouldn’t approve, which is basically his benchmark. 

“Glad to know I’m so entertaining,” Gabe says at least, a little more stiffly. Tyson snorts. 

“You aren’t nearly the most interesting person, don’t worry. There’s this guy who comes in with his own like, miniature wine glass, i don’t know where he gets it from–— Gabe doesn’t seem like he’s prepared to stop Tyson, so Tyson keeps going, telling stories about the weird people who come to bars—Nate insists that Tyson just attracts all the weirdos, which Tyson hopes but isn’t sure isn’t true—until someone actually wants a drink and he has to go deal with that. 

Gabe leaves before he’s done, but the next day Josty informs him that there is a glowing review on Yelp for the bar, complete with specific praise for how accommodating the barstaff is for out of the box requests, so like, Tyson’ll take it. 

Now that he knows Gabe’s name, though, things sort of change. Or maybe it’s now that Gabe’s recognized Tyson out of all the other bartenders. Whatever it is, Gabe’s dates don’t slow down, but he seems to have a lot more trouble getting rid of them. Tyson suspects he just finds it easier to have Tyson do it than to risk doing it himself, because he doesn’t like looking ridiculous. Either that, or he likes Tyson looking ridiculous, which is fair, Tyson knows it’s pretty amusing. 

So they get into a bit of a habit, and it starts getting easier—they develop a series of signals, for when Gabe wants Tyson to break in, which includes everything from tapping the edge of his glass (get ready this might be bad) to desperate looks (please do something ASAP before I throw something). Not that Gabe always uses them, or anything. Sometimes he comes in on a date and leaves with that person, and Tyson doesn’t wonder, you know. Anything at all about what happens after. No one comes in twice, anyway. 

And sometimes, Gabe’s date leaves and then he wanders over to the bar, sits there and bugs Tyson as he’s working and tries to get Tyson to give him free drinks, even though it’s not like he can’t pay for them and anything Tyson gives for free comes out of his pay. It’s—nice. Gabe’s funny and much weirder than his looks make him seem and he laughs a lot at Tyson but he eggs him on, too, banters with him, which is a trait Tyson enjoys in a friend. Also sometimes he tilts his head right and sort of blinds Tyson with his hotness, but that’s an occupational hazard, Tyson thinks. 

“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” Gabe says one night, after Tyson managed to get his date away after a record twenty minutes. He stares mournfully at his glass like the end of the world is in it. “I’ll never find love.” 

Tyson rolls his eyes. “Yeah, sure. If someone who looks like you can’t find love, good luck for the rest of us.” He doesn’t have time for Gabe’s self pity today; a big party of post-happy hour crowd just came in and he has to deal with them. He circles back to Gabe a little later; the drink is significantly lower. 

“No, you were right,” Gabe tells him. “I don’t go on second dates. It just—no one ever clicks, you know? It’s never…right with someone. Even when it’s fun, there’s no…” he trails off, bringing his fingers together. Tyson rolls his eyes even harder. 

“Maybe there’s a reason for that.” 

“Yeah, that I’m going to die alone and unloved by anyone except my dog,” Gabe agrees mournfully. “Because something in me doesn’t work for romance.” 

“Okay, first off, you’re cut off.” Tyson takes Gabe’s glass as he says that, ignoring Gabe’s offended huff of breath. “No one likes a negative Nancy, Gabriel, get it together.” 

“I’m together,” Gabe mutters. Tyson ignores that. 

“Second of all, you’re not—there’s nothing wrong with you,” Tyson says, because that’s ridiculous. “You’re hot and funny and smart and charming, and people like that. I mean,” he goes on, quickly, “People who are like, looking. And stuff. And don’t mind that you’re also kind of mean and super overdramatic and don’t let innocent bartenders do their job.” 

Gabe makes a tragic face. “If I’m really disturbing you, I can go,” he says, reluctant. 

“Oh my god, Gabe. That wasn’t the—” Tyson groans, then grabs Gabe’s face, tilts it up so he’ll meet Tyson’s eyes. “There is nothing wrong with you, and you’re totally loveable. That’s not the problem.” 

For a second, Gabe just looks at Tyson, his lips pink and just a bit open under his beard, his eyes big and tragic. Tyson doesn’t know if he’s breathing. 

Then Gabe swallows, and tugs his face away. “Well something is,” he mutters. “Because I’m here.” 

“You want to know what’s wrong?” Tyson asks. Gabe makes an irritated grunt, which Tyson takes to mean ‘no fucking duh.’ “Fine. You always go for the same type of person, and that person is you. And clearly that’s not working, even as vain as you are.” 

“What does that mean?” Gabe demands. 

“Vain, it means you like to look–” 

“Tyson,” Gabe hisses, and Tyson snaps a rag at him in response. 

“It means that the kind of person you always bring here is—I don’t know where you’re meeting them, but they’re all a lot like you, like, attractive and polished and kind of boring.” 

“I’m not boring!” 

“You seem like it, though. And like, if no one was here to make you more interesting, you would be.” Tyson shrugs. “I mean, what do I know, I’m just your friendly neighborhood bartender, but it seems like maybe you need to branch out a bit in who you date. Like, people who aren’t just dateable but are also, you know. People you like to talk to, even if they aren’t in your league.” 

Gabe blinks, slowly. His head cock. “Leagues are bullshit,” he says, also slowly. Tyson hadn’t actually thought he was that drunk, but now he’s worried. 

“Easy for GWBS to say,” Tyson retorts, “Us people playing in the minors know better.” 

Gabe laughs, and it’s, as usual, way too fucking much for Tyson to deal with. Tyson turns away to go see if anyone else needs help so he won’t have to deal with it, but then Gabe’s reaching out, and his hand’s on Tyson’s arm, keeping him there. “Leagues are bullshit, but no way you’re in the minors,” he says, and his earnestness as he looks at Tyson is another thing that’s too fucking much, but this time Tyson can’t look away. 


“Brutes, stop flirting for tips and do your job, eh?” Comph throws at him, tapping his shoulder as he eases past him. Gabe’s hand’s back at his side, and Tyson can look away, can breathe again. 

“I’m, um. Gonna do that,” Tyson says, jerking a thumb at Comph. Gabe’s still looking at him, something thoughtful in his face. “Don’t drive home.” 

Gabe hums out an assent. He’s still looking at Tyson when Tyson goes down the bar to help someone else. 

Tyson doesn’t know how it happens, but somehow all of Gabe’s dates get even worse. Clearly whatever he said to Gabe didn’t work, because suddenly none of them are working out. He comes in with this tall blonde guy who Tyson almost thinks he should card, and they seem to be laughing a bit until everything goes wrong and Tyson ends up spilling a drink on Gabe; there’s another massive guy who very loudly, in a heavy Russian accent, declares that he’s there because he wants to see if Gabe is as good in bed as he's heard. Gabe goes red, and Tyson manages to get him away with by coming to Gabe with an emergency phone call. He hears Gabe call another guy ‘Naz,’ which Tyson can’t tell if it’s a nickname or not, but there seems to be some dog vs. cat controversy that ends with Tyson and Josty doing their ‘something is wrong with Gabe routine.’ 

It keeps happening, but Gabe seems less bummed out by it, anyway. He takes it all in good humor, and comes over to the bar and tells Tyson about how bad it was and steals all the bar food. It means he’s there a fair amount, which Tyson isn’t complaining about, even if, like. Maybe he’s getting a little confused. Gabe’s got to have better things to do than hang around a bar after his date is over. 

But apparently he doesn’t, and he keeps hanging around and they keep bantering and Tyson’s can’t tell a customer to leave, that’s bad etiquette. 

“You’d probably get more work done if he stopped flirting with you, though,” Colin says, not unkindly, when Tyson tells him all this before it’s time for Gabe to come in with his date. 

“It’s not my fault if I’m so easy to flirt with,” Tyson retorts, “That’s what keeps you in tip money.” 

Colin chuckles. “Sure, but he’s not flirting with Josty,” he points out. 

“Maybe I’m more flirty—no, I heard it as I said it,” Tyson says, before Colin can point out that that’s probably not true. “Whatever. He has bad dates, I’m not driving him away.” 

“Yeah, that’s why you don’t want him to stop,” Colin replies with an unnecessary amount of sarcasm, because even if he’s the nicest Tyson’s incapable of being friends with someone who isn’t kind of a dick sometimes. 

Tonight, Gabe’s date is another tall blonde dude, who’s missing a fair number of teeth, though his confidence doesn’t seem affected by it, which makes it almost attractive. Tyson’s sort of fascinated despite himself. And despite the fact that very early in, Gabe’s face starts going panicky, and it just keeps escalating as long as they’re talking. 

“It’s something about horses?” Josty reports back to Tyson, after doing a round. “I don’t know, but Gabe’s doing the glass tapping thing.” 

As Tyson expected. “Let’s do the whisper,” he tells Josty, and they do. They definitely make eye contact with the guy, and do the best ‘get out while you can’ looks, but the guys just smiles at them and keeps talking. 

Okay, fine. Tyson can escalate. 

Except—apparently he can’t. An emergency call is met by, “If it’s an emergency why didn’t they call his cell?” to which Tyson has no real response, a water spill is met by “Don’t worry about it, I can help with that,” which gets Gabe to shudder a little at the guy’s almost predatory grin. Tyson pulls out all his tricks, one after the other, and none of them work. 

“I think he might have you beat,” Comph says, from where he’s stuck his head out to watch, because Josty is a dirty gossip. 

“I will not be beat,” Tyson tells him. He has a reputation to maintain. Also, Gabe’s getting desperate face. 

Desperate times, desperate measures. Tyson squares his shoulders, walks over to where Gabe and his date are talking. They both stop talking, look at him—and Tyson grabs Gabe’s face and kisses it. Gabe apparently gets the play fast; he pushes into it, his hand around Tyson’s neck, and it’s all—Gabe’s beard scratches at Tyson’s cheeks and his lips are warm and he’s a good kisser of course he is even when it’s not like, anything not okay for a bar and Tyson maybe made a huge miscalculation here. 

Gabe’s hand keeps him there a second longer after Tyson lets him go, then drops, and then it’s just Gabe staring up at Tyson, his mouth a little open. “Tyson?” he breathes, and—he must know the play, he’s good, no one will stay when their date says someone else’s name like that. Tyson’s gaze darts over to the guy, who’s...grinning. 

“Fucking finally!” he says, clapping a little. “Gabe was running out of people he could call.” 

“Um.” Tyson is confused. “I’m confused.” 

“Yeah, Gabe said you weren’t the fastest on the uptake, but you got there in the end,” he says, and pats Tyson on the shoulder. 

“I’m not fast on the uptake?” he demands of Gabe, then, “Wait. No. Actually. What the actual fuck is happening?” 

“Um.” Gabe runs a hand through his hair, looking as sheepish as he had that first night. “This is EJ. He’s a—friend of mine.” 

“A friend,” Tyson repeats. 

“Nice to meet you,” the guy—EJ—says. He’s still grinning. It’s a little demonic. Tyson thinks that he’d probably likes this guy.

“A friend,” Tyson repeats. “Not a date.” 

“Well, that depends—” 

“What, exactly, does it depend on, Gabriel?” Tyson asks. He feels like a joke is happening to him and he’s not in on it, and he hates that feeling more than maybe anything. “Because it seems to me like you’re on a date or you’re not, and you were giving me date signals but he—” Tyson jabs a finger at EJ “—is not a date.” 

“Oh, I was given strict instructions to go on a date with Gabe,” EJ says. Gabe looks like he wants to clap a hand over EJ’s mouth, but Gabe’s time for talking is over. “A very bad one. I think I managed it pretty well.” 

“You...had him go on a bad date with you?” Tyson repeats, staring at Gabe. “Is that—I thought that cat versus dog thing seemed made up!” 

“No, Naz really thinks cats are better, I don’t get it,” Gabe says, a little hopeful, like he wants to distract Tyson into that argument. 

“That’s not even a little—what the fuck, Landeskog?” 

“I’ll leave you two crazy kids to it,” EJ stands up, pats Tyson on the shoulder again. “Get him, tiger,” he tells Gabe, then heads to the bar. Tyson can just see Josty hand him a beer before he stops paying attention to that. 

“What the fuck?” he repeats. “Have you been—why have you been getting your friends to come on bad dates with you? Has it all been just like, some weird performance art where you see if people will humiliate themselves for you? Are there like, cameras here, or—” 

“What? No. No, it’s not–” Gabe’s hands on Tyson’s arm again, but it’s a lot less awesome now. “No, Tyson, it’s nothing like that.” 

“Then why?” Tyson demands again. 

“Because—fuck, it gave me an excuse to talk to you,” Gabe says. Tyson can feel his eyebrows shoot up fast enough he’s a little afraid he’ll lose them. 

“Excuse me?” 

“I have a bad date, you help me, we hang it, it’s our thing, right?” Gabe says. 

“You know you’re allowed to just come into a bar, right?” Tyson asks. “And like, talk to me? That’s a thing you can do?” 

“Yeah, but I didn’t just want to talk,” Gabe retorts, fast. his cheeks are sort of red. 

Tyson take a second, but he thinks he might get what’s going on here. It doesn’t make him any less confused. “So you got your friends to pretend to go on bad dates with you so you could flirt with me?” Gabe’s definitely red, but he doesn’t deny it. “Instead of, I don’t know—asking me out?” 

“I can’t ask you out at your place of work!” Gabe protests. “That’s not okay.” 

“But this whole thing is?” Tyson’s voice squeaks a little at the end. He thinks he might carry it off, though. 

“I wasn’t sure—god, Tyson, you were cute and smart and funny and hanging out with you was the best part of any date, but you had to make the first move.” Gabe’s giving Tyson big eyes, like that’ll help Tyson understand. It is, annoyingly, a little convincing. Also, the compliments are probably helping too. “It’d be creepy otherwise, but I needed an excuse to keep coming in. And then EJ decided he wanted to escalate to see what you’d do, because he’s an asshole.” 

“Let’s watch who we’re calling assholes when we’ve just been caught red-handed, eh?” Tyson suggests, and Gabe snorts and shakes his head. 

“Okay, but you’ll see, EJ really is an asshole.” His face changes, then, softens. “I really didn’t—I just wanted to figure out how you felt before I did something creepy, that’s all.” 

“And this is what you came up with?” Tyson waves a hand at the bar. But...Gabe is looking sheepish but he’s still so hot, and Tyson remembers how he felt kissing him, and Tyson just really does like him a lot. And also, “You are really lucky I like shenanigans,” Tyson informs him, and Gabe perks up like a dog hearing someone bring out the food bowl, and takes a step closer. “Also that I’m into relationships where I’m not the only one who’s a mess.” 

“I’m not a mess,” Gabe protests, but he’s smiling bigger than Tyson’s seen. 

“Trust me, I’m an expert on messes and I’ve seen you try to date, you really are,” Tyson informs him. Gabe’s still just looking at him, all intense and shit, and so Tyson keeps talking. “And you are taking me on a date that isn’t here. I know it’ll be hard to branch out, but I believe you can manage—” 

“Yes. When?” Gabe asks, cutting Tyson off, and Tyson gulps down air. So. That’s happening. 

“He doesn’t work tomorrow,” Josty inserts from the bar.

“What a coincidence, Gabe’s free tomorrow evening too,” EJ says. 

“Tomorrow, then?” Gabe asks. He’s grinning a little wryly, like he understands that this whole thing is ridiculous, but also like he’s having fun with it. He really does break the scale, Tyson thinks, only a little annoyed. 

“Anywhere but here. And I know your tricks to get out of bad dates, so—” 

“No escaping this time.” 

“You know, I think that sounds more like a threat than you want going into a date,” Tyson starts, and Gabe’s laugh cuts him off, but, yeah. He doesn’t think it’s going to be a bad date either.