A/N: Remember, ages and ages ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and I was writing this silly little fic called Destiny Calling?
And remember how I irritated the snot outta people by NOT posting the lunch scene with Eric, Sookie and Amelia?
But hey, remember how I did write it, and donated it to Fandoms Fight the Floods?
Oh wait, I think I might remember that a little bit...
(If you're confused about where in the story this goes, it's snuggled right between chapters 4 and 5. But I did try to write it as a standalone thing, so you don't have to have read the rest of the story to find this potentially interesting/amusing.)
This was it: the big day. For almost a week now, Sookie and I had been planning to get together for lunch. We didn't normally plan our meals quite so thoroughly. This was different. It was a special occasion.
Sookie, my best friend and roommate, was head over heels for a guy that worked in the same building as she did. They didn't work at the same company, but the kept running into each other in the elevators. From what she told me, I was fairly certain that he was interested in her. Given that he hadn't asked her out yet, I thought there were only two possible explanations: either he was just as painfully shy as Sookie, or he was flat-out gay. We'd already ruled out him being married, since he didn't wear any rings.
So today, I was going to meet Sookie for lunch. The excuse would be that she wanted to take me to a nearby pizza place that was supposed to have some of the best pizza in the area. In reality, we were hoping to run into this Eric fellow and maybe even get him to join us for lunch. I was pretty good at reading people; if he was into her, I wouldn't need much more than a minute or two. As long as we saw him in the elevator, it would be Mission Accomplished.
I got there early, and I did it on purpose: I was hoping to get an extra chance of seeing the mysterious Eric. From what Sookie had told me, there would be no mistaking him: blonde hair that was the same shade as hers, blue eyes, and eerily tall. While I was somewhat disappointed at not seeing him on my first pass-through of the lobby and elevators, it boded well: it meant that we had a better chance of seeing him on our way to lunch.
Which is exactly what happened. It was kind of strange, really: the elevator doors opened before we'd gotten a chance to press the call button. When we looked inside, there was only Eric. Whoo momma! No wonder Sookie fell hard for this guy. If she wasn't so adorably nervous over him, I would have tried to get a piece of his action. But I take "sisters before misters" very seriously; once Sookie was interested, Eric was off-limits.
I realized after a few minutes that watching Eric and Sookie interact was almost like watching an episode of National Geographic. I kind of felt like David Attenborough should be narrating in the background. In today's show, we will take a look at the awkward mating rituals of the shy-birds in their native habitat. I did suspect that trying to convince Sookie of what I saw going on between her and elevator boy would be more like an episode of Mythbusters. Goddess help me, I might even need to break out the graphing paper for the diagrams.
Even when we were just in the lift, the tension between those two was thick enough to eat it with a spoon. And what a yummy spoonful it would have been, if such a thing were even possible. But no, Sookie was taking her normal obliviousness to entirely new levels. The female shy-bird sits on a nearby branch, preening her feathers, taking no notice of the nearby male who is unmistakeably attracted to her.
Once we left the building, I wrapped an arm around one of Sookie's and positioned us so that she was walking between me and Eric. It gave me a better vantage point; I could see both of them without feeling like I was watching a tennis match. The only problem was that I couldn't easily see the way Sookie was looking at him, but I was more curious about his reactions to her.
I already knew my roomie was in deep smit, which made it harder for me to understand why she couldn't see that it was entirely mutual. The female shy-bird, though covetous of the male's interest, appears to take no notice of what is obvious to all of the other nearby birds.
"So, Eric," I said, hoping to get some conversation rolling, "Sookie tells me you're a phone geek?"
Sookie shot me a dirty look, probably because I'd called Eric a geek. The fact that he chuckled was enough to indicate to me that he hadn't minded.
"I'll spare you the technical terms, but yes. I make sure the phone system at DeCastro is running smoothly. What sort of work do you do?"
I smiled. "Oh, I work in a shop in Little Five Points." I was purposely downplaying it. He didn't need to know that I owned the damn place. Besides, I wanted him talking about Sookie, not me. "I tried to get Sookie working there, but noooo, she had to do phone work."
Okay, that was a flop. My best friend only seemed to get quieter, something of an accomplishment, given how little she'd said. The female shy-bird allows her companion to do all of the chirping, perhaps out of an irrational fear that any noise from her might cause the male's attentions to wane.
"Well," Eric said, "It can be satisfying to help people out when they're dealing with a really hard problem."
Oh, if he only knew. I tried my best to not smirk. He was obviously trying to come to her rescue, but he'd unknowingly made it worse. Sooner or later, he would find out that Sookie was a phone sex operator; I wondered how he would take it. I only hoped that she was the one to tell him. It would be more than a little awkward if he found out some other way. Teasing her about it was so old hat to me, I would really need to be careful to not slip up during this little lunch of ours.
"Oh sure, and Sookie gives great, um..."Oh hell, what was it she'd told him she does? "Customer service."
Eric looked at Sookie, then at me. She was blushing, and he was obviously confused. "Hey, that's nothing to be ashamed of. It may not sound like much, but it can be a really exhausting position."
The male shy-bird attempts to protect his potential mate by deflecting what he sees as negative attentions from one of the female's companions. Little does he know, his efforts have only caused the female further embarrassment. In an effort to salvage the situation, the female redirects the male towards some berries on a nearby branch.
"Oh wow, that pizza sure smells great! I'm starved, let's go get some food!" I could hear the panic in her voice, and hoped Eric wasn't picking up on it. Maybe I only heard it because I knew her so well.
That pizza did smell really good, though. It was a nice day out, and the restaurant had its doors open. The line was long, but it seemed to be moving quickly.
"So, Sooks, what's good here?" I asked.
"It's all good, really. I like their spinach Alfredo pizza, but even the plain cheese is good."
I couldn't resist. "How's the sausage?"
Sookie gave me a dirty look. "I thought you didn't like sausage this week."
"Pff," I snorted. "It all depends on the quality of the meat. And it looks pretty... tasty." I shot a quick glance at Eric, who seemed to be focusing quite intently on the menu board, like he was trying very hard to not listen to our conversation. The male shy-bird pretends to not notice the female interacting with her friend; undoubtedly, he is uneasy about his interest in her being too conspicuous.
Eventually we placed our orders: I got a slice of sausage pizza, Sookie got a slice of plain cheese, and Eric got a pepperoni calzone. If I didn't think it would have scared him off entirely, I would have made some kind of joke about Eric and his stuffing. As nervous as Sookie was around Eric, she could be fierce when it was just me and her. My pillow-dodging skills were almost as legendary as her pillow-flinging abilities. Almost. The female shy-bird is anything but shy when left alone with other females; in fact, she can be quite aggressive if she feels that her virtue is called into question.
It would take a few minutes for our food to be ready, so we found a table to sit and wait. Since it was such a nice day outside, there weren't any open tables on the patio. We found a table near the front windows and made awkward conversation while we waited.
I was a take-charge kind of girl, but the whole purpose of this lunch was to see how Eric and Sookie interacted. I needed to tone myself down, pull back, and let the two of them chat. If too closely observed, the shy-birds will avoid proceeding with anything vaguely resembling mutual appreciation.
Easier said than done. So I started teasing Sookie about her job, with innuendos that went completely over Eric's head. It didn't bug me that she was getting flustered about it, but I noticed that it seemed to be bothering Eric a bit. In an interesting turn of events, the male shy-bird's feathers are ruffled at seeing his potential mate being pestered by one of her female companions. While he clearly wants to set the female at ease, he is unaware of how best to proceed.
I tried to change the subject by asking him about his job; once it became clear that I had no idea what he was talking about, he just trailed off.
Finally, the two of them started talking. I wasn't even paying attention to the conversation itself, I just watched the way they interacted. When she wasn't looking at him, he would stare at her like she was water in the desert. When he wasn't looking at her, she would eye him like the tall order of sex that he most certainly was. If the two of them weren't so obviously interested in each other, I would have hit that. With my naughty bits. More than once.
The male shy-bird approaches the female apprehensively; he desires her attentions, but does not want to seem too eager, lest she be frightened away. The female shy-bird responds with perhaps too much enthusiasm, then pulls back as if she has startled herself. It would appear that they are simultaneously attracted to and terrified of each other.
Their interactions could almost be interpreted as an elaborate dance. To the impatient observer, it begs the question: will these two ever successfully mate? How could such a species manage to survive as a whole, when neither sex appears to be able to initiate, well, sex?
While they are distracted by the meal that they share, some of the tension eases between the two shy-birds. They have eaten together on previous occasions, and they seem to take some comfort in the familiarity of the act. The female shy-bird's friend attempts to fade into the background, so as to not impede the progress of this bizarre mating ritual.
Sookie went to take a drink of her soda, only to make a hideous slurping noise. Without a word, she stood up and went to get a refill. Once she was far enough away, I reached into my pocket to retrieve the slip of paper Pam had given me.
By this time, the female shy-bird's friend is thoroughly convinced that the two shy-birds are a compatible match. When the female shy-bird flies away to partake of some water from a nearby stream, her friend approaches the male in hopes of bolstering his confidence.
When Sookie had left me standing in the waiting area of her workplace, her boss, Pam, was only too happy to keep me company. I hadn't minded: Pam was hot. So when she asked me what I was really doing, visiting Sookie for lunch, I'd completely caved. What can I say? A woman that gorgeous was bound to make me weak. She'd been suspicious: my best friend had been more than a little nervous and fidgety when she'd asked Pam if it was okay for me to stop by. Pam had immediately known that something was up.
I told her all about Sookie and Eric, how they'd met in the elevator, and had been dancing around the fact that they both had the hots for each other. Pam was delighted at the intrigue that Sookie and I had cooked up. It was validating to find out that I wasn't the only one who thought this situation warranted a little hidden camera action of some sort. Or maybe Pam was just a voyeur.
Before Sookie had been able to come get me so that we could go to lunch, Pam had ducked into her office and returned with the scrap of paper that I was now holding in my hand. She told me that when Sookie wasn't around, I should give it to Eric. Of course, Sookie had to come out to the waiting room before I got a chance to look at what was on the paper. Pam had been just as giddy over the idea of Sookie finding a boyfriend as I was, so I didn't think she would have written anything bad.
Trying not to think too much about that before it distracted me, I quickly held out the scrap of paper to Eric.
"Here, take this," I said in a hushed tone. "Don't ask. Just hide it before she gets back."
He looked too surprised to object, and so he took the paper and stuffed it into his pants pocket. The male shy-bird cautiously accepts a leaf from his favored female's companion, but seems to be highly suspicious of her intentions. Sensing that she might be doing more harm than good, the female shy-bird's friend starts looking for a reason to make good on her escape.
I hoped I was doing the right thing. I really did have a good feeling about these two. I had the feeling that if they ever got past their insecurities and awkwardness around each other, they could have something really special.
Shit, it might not necessarily be meaningful. But it would definitely be hot. I knew damn well that when Sookie was in her element, she could be a force of nature. It baffled me that she was so shy around guys. If Eric was the same way, then when the two of them were comfortable around each other... well, I might need to invest in a pair of ear plugs. Or a hidden camera or two.
When the male and female shy-birds finally engage in the act of mating, it is almost too passionate an act to be viewed on television. As much energy as they have put into their ritualistic mating dance, they would surely put equal amounts, if not more, into the act of procreation itself. Indeed, the producers of this show have decreed that such a display might be entirely too vivid for the younger viewers. As such, we are not able to air any of that footage.
In the interest of giving the two of them a few minutes alone, I decided it would be best if I skipped out early. When she got back from refilling her drink, I told Sookie that I'd gotten a call from the shop and had to get going. Even though she was giving me a look that could have stopped clocks, I waved cheerfully at the oblivious love-birds and damn near skipped out of the restaurant.
When I was safely back in my car, I grabbed my phone out of my purse and dialed Pam's number. At the very least, I'd promised to fill her in on how it all went. If I was lucky, I could get to tell her about it over breakfast. The female shy-bird's companion is not of the same species; on the contrary, she is bold in her affections, and eagerly seeks out the attentions that she desires.
Disclaimer: All of the characters contained in this story are property of Charlaine Harris. I don't own them; I just like to play with them a bit.