The single most important thing a man can do to be an ally is give his woman friends permission to give dudes at the bar his number so when they call he can angrily say that’s not funny because she died 15 years ago that very night - @BudrykZack, twitter, 11/18/2020
Ronan Lynch had spent twenty-one years of his life despising his phone. Well, he probably didn’t own a phone to despise as a baby. But for at least as long as he could remember, he hated picking up the phone when anyone called. It wasn’t that he hated people, per se. Or even communicating with people. The problem boiled down to the idea of being reachable at all hours of the day, and the expectation that you needed to respond to someone on their time instead of on yours.
Regardless, when his roommate Blue suggested this new scheme to him, he was down to try it. This is what being an ally was, right? He’d sacrifice a bit of his comfort for her safety. And the chance to scare the ever-living shit out of pushy assholes.
So this year he had started answering his phone. Well, not when his actual known contacts called. He hadn’t changed that much. The privilege of getting Ronan Lynch live on the telephone was reserved for the unknown numbers.
“Hi, could you put Blue on?”
“What? No, of course not.”
“Because she’s dead. She died fifteen years ago yesterday!”
“What…the fuck. What the fuck? But I met her yesterday—holy shit. I have to go.”
God, this was going to be the most fun he’d had in ages.
“Hey, I want to talk to Blue.”
“Yeah, short chick, dark spiky hair, really hot in a manic pixie kinda way? Ring any bells?”
“Holy shit. You’re describing my old girlfriend.”
“Ooh-kayyy. Can I talk to her?”
“No. She died fifteen years ago. I can’t believe you’d bring it up!”
“Oh my god! I am so sorry man.”
Jesus. That one was a real dodged bullet. Where did Blue even find these losers, anyways?
“Um. Hello. Is Blue there?”
“Blue?” Ronan was pretty sure that his shocked voice was improving. He almost believed himself, that time.
“Yes, this is Blue’s phone, isn’t it? This is Adam.”
“Look man, I don’t know what kind of joke you think you’re pulling, but it’s not funny,” Ronan said angrily.
“It’s…not a joke? I just wanted to talk to Blue.” The voice on the other end was quite nice, actually, all lengthened vowels and gentle cadence. Ronan couldn’t blame Blue for chatting to this one at whatever bar she was at recently.
“How did you get this number?” Ronan asked suspiciously. Had to remember his character.
“I met her last night. She gave it to me. How do you think I got it?”
“You’re a sick fuck, you know that?” He was really getting into the character now. “Blue’s dead!”
“I—what? Dead? When?” On cue, the voice moved quickly into panicked.
“Fifteen years ago yesterday.” Boom, drop the hammer.
“What?” Now he just sounded puzzled.
“Blue was my girlfriend, and she died fifteen years ago, and I was just in the middle of mourning the anniversary, and I do—not—appreciate—you assholes prank calling her phone!”
“Why do you have her phone?” The guy—Adam, he had said—asked.
“Um. What?” This was new.
“If she died fifteen years ago, why do you still have her phone? Is it, like, a flip phone?”
“I—no, I mean—”
“Is it a pink Motorola Razr? I bet it’s bedazzled,” Adam sounded amused now. Christ. This was going a little off the rails. The other guys had all been idiots, too shocked to do anything but hang up as quickly as possible.
“Hey, fuck you.”
“So I guess the premise here is that I met her ghost last night, and her ghost was the one that gave me her number?” he mused thoughtfully. “Damn, dude, must feel pretty bad for your ghost girlfriend to be cheating on you like that.”
“Hey. My ghost girlfriend wouldn’t cheat on me!” Ronan felt unreasonably offended.
“Evidence seems to point to the contrary,” the voice, dry as the desert, retorted.
“Ugh, okay, you’re right. I will not be maligned by this slander of my ghost girlfriend. This isn’t her number. It’s mine.”
“Ah, so your ghost girlfriend just gave me your number instead. Maybe she was looking to organize a threesome?”
Ronan laughed, and then quickly checked himself. Adam must have been an asshole to Blue, to make her give the fake number out. He shouldn’t go all jokey with him. But the quick wit was really hitting at a particular spot inside him. He kind of wanted to keep talking to this guy.
“I’m impressed at how easily you’re taking the whole dead-for-fifteen-years thing. I’m not sure if I’d want to bang a ghost,” he returned.
“Yikes, maybe you should tell your ghost girlfriend that. And hey, I’ve seen weirder shit in the world than dead people who like to hang out at bars. I mean, I guess I should be grateful that she isn’t a succubus or some other serial killer ghost type. Then in fifteen years you’d have to tell my tragic story on the phone to some other stranger.”
“I…really don’t know where to take the ruse beyond this wildly weird place you just brought us to,” Ronan laughed. “So fine, you caught us. I’m super gay, so not dating her or any other ghost girls you might see around. And Blue isn’t dead. She just clearly didn’t want to talk to you.”
“I—oh. Okay. Wow,” Adam said flatly. “I wish she’d just said that though. I didn’t think I was being pushy? I mean, I thought she was really nice. We had a nice long chat about forest conservation.”
“What, you don’t like trees? Prefer to die a fiery death at the hands of global warming?”
“I do like fire, so…maybe.”
“Did she say anything to you? I mean, was there something about my behavior that was bad? I’d appreciate knowing because I’d really like avoid doing it again if possible.”
“She didn’t say anything to me about you but I’m definitely feeling a little bad now. You’re by far the least terrible of the guys I’ve chased away so far.”
“Okay, so what’s my problem? In your expert opinion, from the vast amount of time you’ve known me.”
“I dunno, sometimes people just don’t click, you know? Blue’s not usually one to hold her opinions back, but she does have a soft spot for politeness. Maybe she thought you were nice but just wasn’t into it and didn’t know how to let you down easy.”
“That’s maybe the most pathetic way you could have painted me. Thanks for that,” Adam sighed.
“It’s what she pays me for. To make men feel bad on the phone.”
“She pays you?”
“Not yet, but I’m planning on cashing in a favor or two. Or maybe just holding this over her head for the rest of our lives.”
“Would you maybe—nah, never mind,” Adam hesitated.
“Would you maybe want to go out, instead?”
“Just really dead-set on getting a date before you hang up?” Ronan said, because he was too shocked to say anything else.
“Hey, I called this number to ask someone out, and dammit, I’m gonna ask someone out!” Adam laughed, and the sound warmed Ronan up from the inside out.
“Nah, I’m kidding, obviously,” he went on. “I like talking to you. You’re funny. And clearly a decent friend, which says something about you as a person. Even if it was at my expense.”
“And the fact that you called for a girl and I’m clearly not a girl doesn’t matter to you,” Ronan said incredulously.
“It doesn’t, actually. As a matter of course. That’s kind of the defining characteristic of bisexuality.”
“Ah. Right.” Well, then.
Ronan thought briefly. The voice was hot, and the dude was witty, with a bone-dry sense of humor that could keep pace with Ronan’s sarcasm. It’s possible that Blue had rejected him because he was ugly as sin, but Ronan thought he’d take a gamble on it anyways. What did he have to lose?
“Sure, why not?”
“Ronan Lynch! Did you get lucky last night?!” Blue hissed delightedly, as Ronan stumbled out of his room, shirtless. He looked down to see his torso practically covered in hickeys. He couldn’t see his own neck, but from what he could recall there would probably be a decent amount of bruising there as well. He smirked as he walked over to the coffeepot.
“You look like you got mauled,” she said in a voice that teetered between disgusted and appreciative. “Ugh, I’m so jealous. I want to have wild drunken sex with a hot guy that I just met!”
“So what’s stopping you?” Ronan asked.
“Lack of guy, for one,” she rolled her eyes at him. “I thought I had hit it off with someone the other night but he never called.”
“Asshole,” Ronan said loyally.
She pouted as she poured teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar into her coffee.
“Where’d you meet him?”
“I’ve got you to thank for this one, actually,” Ronan shrugged, still feeling superior.
“Why, what did I do?” she asked suspiciously.
At that exact moment, Adam also emerged from Ronan’s room, wearing only his boxers and looking just as bedraggled as Ronan felt. But also—really, really good. He had turned out to be the polar opposite of ugly as sin, in fact. Ronan couldn’t find one thing to dislike about him. Especially after last night. God, Blue was an idiot.
Adam looked up and saw the two of them staring at him, probably for different reasons. His step faltered.
“Huh. This is awkward,” he said. “Hi, Blue.”
Blue turned her shocked eyes on Ronan. They started to morph into her murder face.
“What?” Ronan asked. “You never specified what I should do with the fake numbers after they called.”
“Well I would think that it went without saying that you shouldn’t bang the living daylights out of them!”
“Why not? You didn’t want them.”
Adam was looking more and more amused at this back-and-forth. Better than being offended at the insinuation that he was somehow sloppy seconds.
“Wait, no! I mean the others, whatever, but I gave him my number!” she said insistently to Ronan. She turned to Adam, insisting again, “I gave you my number!”
“Clearly you didn’t, because he called me,” Ronan responded before Adam could say anything to this revelation.
“Fuck!” she cried. Ronan started to laugh.
“I am so sorry, it must be like a force of habit now,” she was explaining to Adam. “I had a couple of drinks, I probably just rattled off the first number in my brain. I really did actually mean to give you my real phone number.”
Ronan laughed harder and tugged on one of Blue’s hair tufts. This was hilarious, actually. This whole time they had been trying to figure out what about Adam was so repulsive to Blue and it turned out to be—nothing. Whoops.
“Too late, maggot,” Ronan said smugly. “You snooze, you lose.”
Blue reached up to smack him on the shoulder. “Shithead.”
“Do I need to be here for this?” Adam asked. “Maybe you guys can just go out back and duel for my hand?”
Ronan recalled all the sinful activities those hands had engaged in last night. Nope. No way Ronan was losing out on this now.
“Fuck, no. Blue, it’s your turn to be an ally. Don’t be homophobic. Adam, we’re going on a second date.”
“Not gonna ask?”
Ronan walked across the kitchen and kissed him deeply, one hand tangling in his bed head, and then whispered, “Go out with me?”
“Ugh,” he heard Blue’s voice from far away. He ignored her.
Adam smiled. “Sure, why not?”