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To Find a Friend

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"Come on, blind dates are fun!"

"No. Blind dates are horrible," Travis says wearing his best will-not-be-moved stare. "They're fun for everyone else who gets to hear stories about how horrible they are."

"Same diff." Laurie laughs at bats at him. "No, seriously. She's one of my friends, and she's great. She's, you know, your type."

"I didn't even know you had friends other than my mom. You... do have friends other than my mom, right? Please don't send me out on a blind date with my mom."

"Oh my god, she would love that."

Travis scrunches his nose. "She really would."

"But no. She's kind of bookish and mousy, you know. Like the girls you date."

"You're friends with a bookish, mousy girl." Maybe there's just a hint of dubiousness in his tone.

Laurie lifts her eyebrows. "I'm friends with you." It takes her a moment to add, "Not that you're... a girl, but. Oh, come on!"

"You really think come on is a great argument don't you?"

"Come on." And now Laurie brings out the big guns; puppy eyes and pout. "Please? I already told her you'd say yes."

Travis rolls his eyes. Why does he ever try to argue with the women around here. "All right. One date. That's it. If I don't like her, no amount of pouting is going to get me to go out with her again. I can already see you planning on manipulating me into a second date."

"Hm? Oh. No. I'd never do that."

"Uh huh."

"So, where are you going to take her?"

"I haven't really had time to think about--"

"That's fine, because I already know the perfect place." Laurie digs in her purse for the name and address of the restaurant that she'd jotted down.

"Of course you do."

"Good." She hops to her feet. "I have to run. She's going to call you in... oh about ten minutes so you can hash out a time for your date. But don't talk too much, or it won't technically be a blind date anymore."

"Greeeat. So, you just assumed I'd say yes."

Laurie scrunches up her shoulders. "Yep. See you later. Oh! And don't... tell your mom about this until after the date is amazing, okay? She kinda forbid me from setting you up with one of my friends. Anyway, bye!"

Travis takes a deep breath and sits at the table, turning the little scrap of paper with the address in his hands. "Bye, Laurie," he mutters after she's already left.

__________

 

How it works in the movies is he shows up at this place where Laurie told him to show up for his blind date, and it turns out that it's really Laurie.

Travis is pretty good at pretending not to be disappointed--either that or his usual demeanor isn't all that different from his disappointed demeanor--so he's pretty sure Laurie's friend can't tell.

They end up having a pretty good conversation and zero spark.

__________

 

"What do you mean you're not going on another date with her?"

"I mean... I'm not. It's not a complicated concept." Travis shrugs. "She's cool, though. We're going to go see that new indie docu-drama that no one was going to go see with me."

Laurie frowns in that cute way when she's trying to pretend she understood what he just said, but is going to have to ask a potentially dumb question anyway. "So... you are going on another date with her."

"Nope."

"Travis," she whines. "Start making sense or I'm going to throw something at you, and then I'll feel bad."

"She's cool. I mentioned that, right? We had dinner together at that place that was way too fancy--let me guess, Smith used to take you there--and I don't know. We talked for hours. The waiters were giving us dirty looks and everything. We just have a ridiculous amount of things in common, and... Seriously, how did you get to be friends with this girl? Do you drink wine with her mom all day too?"

"Okay, for one thing we don't drink wine all day. We do, um, work together sometimes. And two, that sounds like a pretty phenomenal date for... y'know, someone like you."

"Not sure what that means, but." Travis laughs, because he's actually pretty sure he knows exactly what that means and that it has to do with filthy sex, but that's not a train of thought he wants to ride on at the moment. "I don't know, it was like hanging out with a really good friend I just hadn't met before. You know what I mean?"

Laurie furrows his brow. "So, you don't want to sleep with her."

"That's another way to put it, I guess."

"Why not? I mean, she totally pads her bra, but she's cute. She's got a bigger chest than that first girl you dated."

Travis scratches at his hair. "Yeah, not the issue."

"Is it her nose?"

"No." Travis sighs. "You know how... you can really get along with someone, but you don't feel that... extra thing."

Laurie blinks at him, her eyes slightly wide like she's been accused of something.

Travis just smiles a little. "Yeah, you know the feeling."

She looks down, pressing her lips together, her eyebrows doing that thing they do when she's upset where they arch up, and you'd almost think she's angry. "So, you two are going to that weird movie as friends."

"Yeah. Which is cool, by the way." Travis doesn't like to get too deep in most conversations. It makes his voice sound weird. Like earnest or something rather than a guy just getting by. "Y'know, people underestimate friendship. I'm lucky, because I've grown up in this house, and I've gotten to see how much friendship means. I mean, how did two people like my mom and Mrs. Torres find each other? They're both completely crazy but. I don't know, it works."

"And there's Andy and your dad..."

"Yeah, let's not talk about the unhealthy attachment going on in that friendship, because I think it might give me a complex."

"Agreed."

"Just. I always kind of hoped I'd have a friendship like Mrs. Torres and my mom have. Which if you ever tell them that, I will deny it and possibly kill myself."

Laurie laughs. "Well. I don't know. We're friends, right?"

"Are you comparing yourself to Mrs. Torres?"

"Oh, hell no. I'm the giving one, okay. You're the difficult one with the deadpan sense of humor that isn't actually funny. And anyway, we'd be way cooler than those two."

"Oh, way," he says, mocking her voice just a little.

She narrows her eyes at him. "You shut up."

"What? I was just agreeing with you."

Laurie huffs a sigh, but soon she's smiling again. "I'm glad you guys hit it off, even though it wasn't the way I wanted you to."

"Yeah, well. Maybe sometimes friends are better."

"Maybe." She pauses. "You can never tell your mother how you met her, though."

"Cross my heart." He mimes the action.

"Thanks." She gives him a hug. He pats her shoulder, trying not to think too much about it. "Maybe I'll come with you guys to the movie."

"You'd pretty much hate it."

Laurie shrugs. "I like you two, though. Where else can I share a huge bucket of popcorn with two of my favorite nerds?"

"Okay. But I warned you."

"Warning received and rejected, good sir." She checks her phone. "Oh... one of my friends set me up on a date. I don't want to go."

"Oh, you think you're going to get sympathy from me right now?"

She pouts, but he feigns immunity. "Fine," she says as she types in her reply text. "I have to go get ready. See you later."

"Yeah... See you."

She starts to leave, but then she turns around. "Travis, I'm really glad we're friends."

"Me too," he says, and it has that earnest sound to it.

She just smiles before she leaves again, and the more Travis thinks about it, the more he's sure he meant it.