Zeke comes in the door, a couple of freshly washed dishes hanging from his hands and dripping water across the dorm’s ratty carpet. As he sets the mugs down on his desk, Dizzee whines at him from his bed:
Zeke whines back without turning, carefully wiping the excess water off his desk with a tissue.
After a moment of silence he walks a step to throw the tissue away and then turns to Dizzee, asking:
“Alright, what’s wrong?”
Dizzee sighs and lets his phone drop onto the bed at his side.
“You know how my parents know I’m gay?”
Zeke definitely knows. He nods.
“Well, I told them I have a boyfriend. They’re acting really supportive and they want to come down to meet him.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend! I just made him up so they’d stop bothering me! I didn’t expect that they would want to come down to meet him.”
Zeke can’t help it; he laughs at the ridiculous situation his roommate has gotten himself into. That only makes Dizzee look more pitiful, but Zeke is unaffected by his puppy eyes.
“Just tell them you made him up. They might even find it funny.”
Dizzee groans, burying his face in his pillow.
“I can’t just tell them, they’re so excited about this! They would be really hurt, Zeke.”
Zeke quickly realizes the situation is going downhill and moves to comfort. He perches on the edge of Dizzee’s bed and runs a hand over his back.
“Okay, okay. If you can’t tell them the truth, you’ll just have to convince them you actually have a boyfriend.”
Zeke hesitates for a moment, aware that what he’s about to suggest is pretty silly sounding.
“Find someone who’ll pretend to be your boyfriend for the weekend. I’d do it, but your parents already know me too well. Plus, Mylene would probably kill me.”
For a moment, Dizzee looks like he’s going to rip the suggestion apart. But then he lets his head fall back into the pillow.
“Fine. I’ll ask around.”
When Dizzee had texted him to meet up in their favorite coffee shop off campus, Zeke had really hoped that it was to celebrate good news. But seeing Dizzee come in the door, panic clear on his face and his braids falling out of their usually perfect ponytail, Zeke can tell that his hopes were in vain.
Dizzee sets his backpack down on the chair next to Zeke and struggles to get his scarf off. Zeke pushes the latte he’d asked for across the table towards him and waits to be filled in. Dizzee settles in, dumping the scarf on top of his backpack and taking a sip of coffee, before speaking:
“Zeke, none of my friends can do it.”
His voice is as panicked as his expression and Zeke tries to stay calm in the face of his roommate's turbulent emotions.
“None of them? Did you ask Shao?”
“Yeah, he’s DJing on wednesday. Pakoussa invited him, it could be his big break, it’s really cool, but also inconveniently timed.”
Zeke leans back, considering the quickly thinning options.
“What about Chen?”
“He has to run a booth at the winter festival that night.”
“Movie for spanish.”
“I will never be desperate enough to ask Eric for anything, Zeke.”
“Well, that’s understandable. But it appears you’re out of male friends and acquaintances. Would a nonbinary person work?”
“I told my parents a boyfriend, specifically. And I don’t want to have to try and explain every single thing about nonbinary people to my parents in one night. This is already going to be exhausting enough.”
“Curse our incredibly queer friend group and their myriad of genders that don’t happen to be male.”
Dizzee laughs and Zeke grins; he seems to be calming down now. Dizzee groans:
“Usually, that’s a good thing. But for this one night it is quite problematic.”
Before they can continue, Boo drops into the last open chair at the table. He sets his hot coca down and smirks at Dizzee.
“What’s up, Bro? You look unusually morose.”
Dizzee grins at him and teases:
“Don’t you have homework to do, freshman?”
Boo grins and shoulders him teasingly.
“I do, but I’m generously spending some of my time to help my down in the dumps brother. So out with it, Diz!”
Dizzee groans, hesitating, but gives in. He must really be desperate.
“I need a fake boyfriend for when mom and dad come down.”
Boo smirks, stirring more marshmallows into his hot chocolate. Someone must have told him what was going on, otherwise he would have been laughing his ass by now.
“Why not ask that white boy from your sociology class? The one you talk about all the time.”
Zeke has certainly heard of Thor; Dizzee goes through a gay panic pretty much everytime he looks at him. They’ve only interacted a couple times, sharing notes and working together on one group project, but Dizzee is already smitten. Zeke sighs, ready to hear more gushing.
“The one with the pretty eyes.”
Instead of gushing, Dizzee goes straight into panic. His eyes fly open and he chokes on the sip of latte he’d taken.
Boo shrugs, unconcerned.
Dizzee sputters, trying to find words and stop choking at the same time.
“I barely know him, I can’t ask him something so weird and...blatant! What if he’s straight?”
Boo rolls his eyes.
“Diz, I saw him at the last pride event, proudly displaying his pan gear. He’s definitely not straight. You’re just making excuses because you’re afraid of talking to him for more than two seconds.”
Zeke grins at Boo, throwing his support behind the new plan as he swats at Dizzee:
“Yeah, stop being such an useless gay and just ask. Maybe then you’ll be better at asking him on a real date later.”
Dizzee glares at them, but Zeke can tell he’s thinking about it. Finally he sighs, throwing his head back, and groans:
“Fine, I'll ask him.”
Boo and Zeke cheer, happy to have come to a possible solution.
Dizzee runs out of the classroom, struggling through the crowd to reach Thor. He gasps out a hello and smiles awkwardly. Thor smiles back and says hi with a little wave. Dizze takes a deep breath before jumping in:
“Hey, I have a kind of weird question to ask you.”
Thor nods and says:
“I need someone to pretend to be my boyfriend because I told my parents I have a boyfriend and they really want to meet him. Are you free Wednesday night?”
“Yeah, I am.”
Dizzee stares for a long moment.
“You mean you’ll do it?”
“Yeah, it sounds like it’s important.”
They stare at each other, wordless. Finally Dizzee stutters out:
“I have to get to my next class, I’m sorry, I’ll text you!”
Dizzee rushes out the door, throwing the last few words over his shoulder. Thor waves and says a quiet “bye” into the empty space he’s left behind.
Thor groans, Cammie laughing at his despair.
“Cam, what am I going to do? This is gonna suck so much!”
Cammie finally stops laughing and says:
“Then just tell him no, Thor.”
“No! I’m not turning down a chance to go on a date with Dizzee, even if it isn’t real. And seriously, he seemed really panicked. I don’t want to leave him in a lurch.”
“So you’re just going to suffer under the weight of your unrequited gay feelings the whole time?”
“Of course??? What else would I do?”
Cammie catches on to the joking tone and teases back:
“Of course, there’s no other way to go on a date with Dizzee. Of course not. You couldn’t possibly...ask him or anything.”
“I’ll talk to you later, Cammie. Thanks for letting me complain.”
Dizzee looks down at the text message on his phone, unlocking his phone to get a better look at it. It’s from Thor and it reads:
“Is there anything specific I should wear?”
Dizzee considers for a moment before texting back:
“Something respectable, but not too formal.”
Then he waits for Thor to show up at his dorm.
Thor, of course, shows up looking stunning. He’s wearing a soft, pinkish-red shirt that curves just beneath his collar bones. Over it he’s wearing a well worn brown coat with a furry neckline, probably bought from one of the numerous antique stores in town. A small key hangs from a silver chain over his chest, and Dizzee feels his own similar necklace burn against his chest.
Thor has a very similar tastes in clothing to Dizzee, but this outfit is still unusual for him; Dizzee doesn't think he’s ever seen Thor wear a piece of clothing that isn’t covered in paint splotches, patches, or slightly raggad embroidery he’d probably done by himself. This shirt is almost shockingly clean and it makes Dizzee feel strange, like Thor is stripping part of himself down for this, but he also knows it’s what his parents need to see.
Thor takes off the coat, hanging it off one of the hooks Dizzee had stuck to the wall by the door. Dizzee watches the play of muscles beneath the skin as he moves, trying not to be obvious. He catches a glimpse of a couple of holes torn into the back of the unusually nice shirt, and smiles. That seems more like Thor.
The excitement of having Thor over quickly merges into painful awkwardness. Thor looks around the room, taking in the drawings pinned to the walls. Dizzee searches desperately for something to say, and ends up apologizing again:
“Thank you again for doing this, I know it’s kind of weird.”
Thor turns back to him and smiles softly, a hand tapping on his belt buckle in a repetitive, nervous motion. Dizzee realizes he’s spinning his bracelets in a fidget as well and almost laughs at their continuing similarity. Thor speaks:
“Don’t worry about it. Believe me, I know the struggle with overzealous families.”
He’s grinning and dizzee laughs,
“Your parents too?”
Thor leans against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest, showing off how well muscled they are, and says:
“Yeah, ever since I came out, they’ve been trying to set me up with someone. They mean well, but it just never worked out.”
Dizzee smiles, staring into Thor’s beautiful eyes, Thor staring back. They’re interrupted by the chime of Dizzee’s phone. He jumps and picks it up, seeing a text from his parents.
“Oh, they’re here! Ready to go?”
Thor nods, his hair shifting over his shoulders and shining in the painfully fluorescent light of Dizzee’s dorm room. Dizzee feels his heart thud faster, but follows him out the door, tugging on his jean jacket.
Thor pushes out of the restaurant's door, holding it for Dizzee as they leave. His mom and dad coo over them a few more times and he hugs them goodbye before he and Thor leave them behind, heading down the main street back to campus. When Dizzee turns back to look over his shoulder, they’re still waving goodbye. He waves one last them and then turns his attention to Thor. He’s tugging a pair of fuzzy winter gloves on; they’d had a cold snap yesterday. It’s not too bad, but Dizzee definitely didn’t prepare properly for the walk back. He sighs and tucks his hands into his jean pockets before speaking:
“Thanks again, Thor.”
Thor grins, cheeks rosy in the cold and hair turned golden by the streetlights they pass under. Dizzee has to work hard to ignore how his heart is beating faster as Thor replies:
“Seriously, it’s no problem. Your parents seem really nice.”
He knows Thor is right; the dinner went fine. Actually, it went much better than expected: his parents were politely interested in getting to know Thor better and, by the time they had left, seemed to be fully convinced and supportive of Dizzee and what they thought was a legitimate relationship.
“Yeah, they’re really good about it.”
There’s a long silence and Dizzee, feeling the need to say something, asks:
“Are we almost there? It’s really cold.”
His teeth chatter as he says it and he wraps his arm around himself, trying to keep his body heat in, but it’s a losing battle. Especially when he looks up and tiny little snowflakes are beginning to fall. He groans---its not cold enough for them to collect, but they’re still settling in his hair and sticking to his skin. Thor, who was busy looking up at the snowflakes, turns back to him and suddenly looks concerned:
“Dizzee, you’re shaking! We’re almost there, but here---”
He’s pulling off his heavy fur lined coat, wrapping it around dizzee. Dizzee stutters, holding up the coat instinctively.
“Thor, no! You need it more than me.”
Thor laughs and gestures towards himself:
“Have you seen me? I'm wearing like five layers. I’ll be fine.”
Dizzee sighs, but has to admit he’s feeling much better with the coat wrapped around him, so he shrugs and pulls it on completely. Once he’s back to his normal temperature, he turns to Thor and says:
“Thank you again for doing this. I know it was probably awkward and annoying.”
“Spending time with you isn’t annoying, Dizzee.”
Before immediately clasping his hands over his mouth, blushing hard, making his cheeks even pinker than the cold. Dizzee can feel how awkward he's feeling and decides not to say anything, even if the affection in what Thor had said feels like it’s set him alight. In the end he settles on saying:
“Thanks, Thor. You’re cool too!”
Thor laughs nervously for a moment, but smiles at Dizzee, something vulnerable in his expression. He speaks up a moment later:
“You know I’ve kind of wanted to get to know you since I first saw you in class.”
Dizzee smiles, glad he's not the only one, and says:
They walk in silence for a long time. They’re almost back to campus and Dizzee suddenly feels the need to say something about the tension strung through the air between them. He swallows nervously; is he really brave enough to say what he wants to? Finally he bites his lip and commits to the risky course of action:
“Do you want to go out on a date some time?”
Thor stumbles, his eyes going wide for a moment, looking at Dizzee with a mixture of shock and hopefulness.
Dizzee finds himself tongue tied, breathless with anticipation, so he just nods.
Suddenly Thor breaks into a smile wider than Dizzee has seen so far. He says:
“Why, our first date hadn’t even ended yet!”
He gestures at the stores around them, filled with warm, welcoming light, and cheers:
“We’ve got so much more to do!”
Dizzee grins too, almost unable to believe that Thor has said yes, before leaning forwards and taking Thor’s hand. He tugs Thor towards one of the shops, eagerly saying:
“Come on, then!”