Raj wasn't sure if the guy down the bar was looking at him or looking at him. That was until the guy with the perfect teeth and the jet black hair and the chocolate eyes—not that Raj was paying attention to all of that—came over to offer to buy him a drink.
"Hi. Can I get you another grasshopper? I'm Lincoln," the guy said as he approached Raj.
"Oh. I'm not- I mean, I don't- I'm not gay," Raj stammered.
"That's okay. I'm waiting for a friend, and I don't mind buying drinks for straight guys," Lincoln said with a smile that made Raj's heart beat a little faster in his chest.
Raj wanted to let the incredibly cute guy buy him a drink. If Raj was being honest with himself, which he very rarely did, he wanted to flirt back. Raj had always held back a certain attraction for men. He didn't lie. He wasn't gay. But Raj couldn't as confidently state that he wasn't bisexual. He hadn't ever actually done anything with a man. Well, he didn't count that time he made out with his roommate's best friend when he was in college.
Lincoln could see that Raj was really conflicted.
"Seriously, man. It's just a drink and maybe a little conversation until my friend gets here. Though it's also okay if you want to turn me down. I don't want to give that cute little head of yours an aneurysm," Lincoln said with another dazzling smile. Normally Lincoln would have walked away already, but this guy was so cute in his little sweater vest. And he hadn't strictly said no yet.
"Sure. I'll have another grasshopper," Raj finally acquiesced.
Lincoln signaled the bartender for two more drinks before sitting on the stool next to Raj.
"I'm Raj Koothrappali," Raj said as he held out his hand to shake Lincoln's.
"Nice to meet you, Raj," Lincoln said. "I'm really digging your sweater vest, and I promise that will be the last compliment I give you. I'm not trying to make things weird. It just caught my eye."
"Thanks," Raj said sadly. It didn't bother him that Lincoln liked his sweater in the least. In fact, it was the nicest thing anyone had said to him all day. Emily seemed unsure if she actually wanted him, and Claire hadn't taken his calls in weeks. He understood why when he saw Claire and Zack out on the town. This was the closest bar he could find. He suddenly wondered if this was a gay bar. He looked around, and nothing indicated that it was.
"Why did that make you sad?"
"It wasn't you. I saw my ex out with her new boyfriend like an hour ago," Raj admitted.
"Oh. I'm sorry," Lincoln said.
"Thanks. So, Lincoln, what is it that you do?" Raj asked his new friend. He wanted to change the subject desperately, but nearly chastised himself for the boring question.
"Oh. I hate that question. Everyone says that my job sounds interesting until I start describing it. Then I lose them in about ten seconds."
"Try me anyway," Raj said before taking a sip of the bright green drink that just appeared in front of him.
"I'm an astrobiologist, and no that isn't made up, and no I have not found aliens," Lincoln started.
"Shut up," Raj said. "Where do you work?"
"That's not normally a response that I get. I was working up at Berkley, but I am down at UCLA for a year," Lincoln said. He was a little curious about Raj's response. It really was very different than anything else he normally got in response to speaking of his work.
"I'm an astrophysicist at Cal Tech," Raj said excitedly. "Wait. You aren't Dr. Lincoln Hart, are you? I read your paper last month. It was genius."
Lincoln smiled that dazzling, bright smile again. He could never reject such a compliment. Especially not when it came from a cute astrophysicist. Then it clicked.
"I knew Koothrappali sounded familiar. Cal Tech of course."
Raj had to look away from that smile after a moment. He stared into his drink, and tried to control his thoughts. At the moment, he wanted to press his slightly buzzed lips to those of the gorgeous scientist who wanted to buy him a drink.
Lincoln chatted on to Raj now that he was sure that the man was smart enough to follow. Raj still didn't follow. Instead he listened to the baritone notes of Lincoln's voice and stared at his lips. Considering Raj was supposed to be the one without an attraction to males, he was certainly having a lot of trouble not thinking about kissing. He downed the second half of his grasshopper and leaned forward. Raj pressed his lips to Lincoln's while he was still mid-sentence. Lincoln's lips tasted of whiskey, and the stubble on his face scratched Raj. He loved every second of it.
"Whoa," Lincoln said as he pushed Raj away. "I know I'm the one who started this, but I'm not really a kiss on the first date kind of guy."
"I'm sorry," Raj said. He was shaking in fear. He had just kissed this guy who he barely knew. He had no idea what had come over him. It would be easier if he didn't desperately want to do it again.
"I'll forgive you this time. Next time, maybe buy me dinner. Actually speak back to me before going in for the kiss," Lincoln said.
Raj just nodded. His face burned with embarrassment. He wasn't entirely sure if he would throw up, but that might have been the alcohol or the fear instead.
"You're cute, Raj. My friend just came in, but I'm going to give you my number. No pressure, but give me a call if you want to go out sometime," Lincoln said as he wrote his phone number down on a napkin. He handed it to Raj who was still shaking. "It's okay. No pressure," Lincoln said again. Then he walked away and hugged a tall woman who had just come through the door.