Naruto was sitting at a corner table in Starbuck's. The day's weather was lousy. It had been raining on and off, which had ruined his hopes of taking the boat out on the lake. It also explained why the coffee shop was so ridiculously crowded. Every table and every one of those comfortable chairs that shared an ottoman was taken. He wasn't doing much but killing time. He'd scrolled through his contact list on his phone already, texting anyone in a 15-mile radius to see if they wanted to hang out, but no one was available. Naruto had already checked his e-mail, his Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. He'd looked at apartments he couldn't afford even though there was nothing wrong with the one he lived in now. He went to Kayak, Travelocity, and Orbitz just to see how much tickets were to Germany only because he'd never been there. Curse Starbuck's and it's decision to offer free wi-fi.
The table he sat at was alongside the wall, close to the station where people could pick up their sugar, straw, napkins, whatever; and, it was only by chance (and nosiness) that he glanced up when the door opened and a new customer walked in, his dark hair matted to the sides of his face from the rain. He had a laptop bag hanging off of his shoulder, and he was already digging for his wallet. That's as much as Naruto noticed before he decided to search around on YouTube. He'd brought his earphones, so he dug around in his bag and plugged them in. A few minutes later, after the first video he watched was over, he looked up again and found the man from before standing near his table, coffee in hand and searching around for an open table. Naruto's gaze swept across the store again, but all the seats were still occupied. There was enough room for two at his table, and he was near an outlet, so he tugged out the earbuds, and decided to go ahead with his good deed for the day.
"Hey," he said, loud enough to attract the other's attention. "You're welcome to share with me." He hoiked a thumb behind him. "There's an outlet if you need one."
The man looked at him for a moment, his dark eyes narrowed, apparently trying to decide whether it was safe to accept Naruto's offer. Although what he thought could happen in a crowded, public coffee shop, Naruto had no idea. He was dressed in normal clothes, dammit, and was obviously just being friendly. The stranger gave another hopeful glance around the room, but seeing he had no other choice, he nodded and took a seat.
"Thanks," he said and almost sounded as if he were begrudging Naruto's politeness.
He went back to listening to his music, although just a minute later, he noticed the guy attaching his power cord.
"Want me to plug it in?" asked Naruto, holding out his hand.
He received a wary look.
"You're very suspicious of strangers, aren't you?" Naruto chuckled.
"Aren't you?" The man handed over the cord, and Naruto plugged it in for him.
"Hm. Not particularly. I've got some common sense, but does my hoodie look particularly suspicious to you?"
"Yes," the man answered. "You could be a thug."
Naruto scoffed, but he was smiling. "A thug on his laptop in Starbuck's?"
The man had the faintest smirk on his face. "It is the middle of a school day, isn't it?"
"I will take that as a compliment. You're sayin' I look young for my age. I'm Naruto, by the way."
"Hi, Naruto," he said and pushed on the power button on his laptop and scooted his chair closer to the table.
Naruto cocked his head. "You don't have a name?"
"I do, but I don't give it out to suspicious, school-skipping thugs."
"Good. Just so you know, Naruto isn't my real name. It's my fake name I give out to strangers when they ask - "
"I didn't ask." He was interrupted.
"Yeah, but you wanted to, and like you, I gotta watch out for myself, too. It's sort of like when girls give out fake numbers?"
"So you're comparing yourself to a girl now?" The man took the lid from off his coffee and sipped. "So now you're a transsexual, school-skipping thug?"
"What if I was, would that be a problem for you?" Naruto asked and had, long since, muted the volume on his computer.
"Only the school-skipping thug part."
Naruto propped his chin in his hand. "How very tolerant of you," he said sarcastically. "Are you from... around here?"
"I live in town, yes," the man answered crisply.
"Oh, am I annoying you now with my questions?"
"Annoying me isn't how I'd put it just yet."
"It's fine." Naruto put his earbuds in and changed the volume.
"Do you want something else to drink?"
"Huh?" He yanked on one of the wires. "Did you say somethin'?"
"I asked if you want another drink." He pointed at Naruto's empty coffee cup.
Naruto blinked at him several times. "Why?"
"Because you let me sit here. If you want another one, I'll buy it for you."
Naruto started to smile. "Uh, you don't have to do that. You just looked so stu-, uh, er, silly. Standing around like that."
"Yeah, like the kid everyone hates in school, and they go to the cafeteria and he just stands there because there's no table where he can sit?"
"Are you speaking from experience?"
Naruto barked a laugh. "You're pretty funny."
"I wasn't really trying to be funny. Do you want a drink or not?"
"Since you're offering, sure. Um, salted caramel mocha? Tall's fine."
The man excused himself and got up from the chair. Naruto watched him order. Not that he needed to put more caffeine in his system, but who would turn down free coffee? Naruto watched him the entire time, not in a creepy way, but he was merely curious. He had to get a name out of him soon or he was gonna go crazy. He was soft-spoken and reminded Naruto of the jerks he'd come across in the city, but he'd sat down at the table without thatmuch hesitation. He was buying Naruto a drink, and he'd, more or less, humored him by making small talk. He couldn't be that bad, right?
His tablemate re-took his seat, handing Naruto the coffee (in a larger size than he'd requested).
"I'm a bit worried about offering you more caffeine."
Naruto drank through the slit in the lid, tasting the grains of salt as he licked them from his lips. "Why, because I talk too much? Yeah, if you wanted me to shut up, that was probably a big mistake, but maybe I'll start bouncing off the walls soon and you can have the table to yourself."
"Ah, you figured out my plan."
Naruto chuckled. "Really, tell me your name."
"Can it be fake like yours?"
"Sasuke?" Naruto drank his coffee. "Yeah, that probably is fake, but it'll do."
"Glad you approve, Naruto."
"You remembered! You must be one of those business types, like that goes and shakes a guy's hand and after he tells you his name, you're all 'Nice to meet you, Naruto' and then you stare at them all intimidating-like. Is that in a handbook?"
Sasuke stared at him.
"You're strange, but yes... I am in business, but me saying your name may be more my upbringing."
"Oh yeah? Your parents nice folks?"
"They were," he seemed to stiffen, "But they've both passed away."
Naruto's expression fell, and he was sorry for asking. His thumb brazed the side of the cup in shaky circles. "Sorry."
"If I'm keeping you from doing work, I can shut up anytime."
"Somehow I doubt that. I came to do work, but only because the power went out in my apartment."
"You work from home then?"
"Two days a week I work from home usually."
"You commute to the city the other days?"
Naruto's eyes lit up. "I could tell."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "Tell what?"
"That you're from the city. What with the wearing mostly black thing and the suspicion of strangers even though this is a pretty small town, and the whole aloofness, and - "
"I think I get the point."
"Do you like working in the city? How come you don't just live there? Then you wouldn't have to commute an hour there and back."
Sasuke raked his hand through his hair and let out a breath. "I just started. I wasn't sure if I wanted to live in the city, plus I'd just paid off a significant portion of a debt my brother owed. So, to be honest, I can't afford to live there right now."
Naruto realized he was stepping on all kinds of familial landmines. He wanted to blame the caffeine rather than to just think he was incredibly dense or insensitive. "Do you live with your brother?"
Sasuke gave him a strange look. "No. I live alone. Or well, I have a cat."
Naruto nearly spit out his coffee. "You have a cat? For real?"
"Is that a strange thing these days?"
"No, I guess not." He tilted his head and scratched his chin. "I just wouldn't have pegged you as a cat person, but I guess it makes sense. You, living all alone in your apartment. You probably don't have a lot of friends if you just moved here and just started a job, so you got a cat to keep you from being lonely." Naruto wiped at his eye, feigning tears as he smirked at Sasuke.
"Where do you come up with this stuff?"
"Eh, my mind wanders. You should see the dreams I have. They go on forever, really vivid, too."
"I don't think I want to know." Sasuke's fingers clicked across his keyboard.
"Ooh, are you writing an e-mail?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but yes."
"To your girlfriend?"
"That's hardly any of your business."
Naruto leaned back in the chair, tilting it on to two legs. "That must be a yes. Unless you've trained your cat to sign on to her e-mail. Assuming it's a female cat."
"Male, actually." Sasuke seemed distracted. Naruto gave him a few minutes to finish whatever he was doing.
"So what is it you do, Naruto? Besides hang out at Starbuck's in the middle of the day."
"Oh, like job-wise? I work for my dad. He sells boats."
"Boats?" Sasuke glanced up from the screen.
"Yeah, boats. You put them on water, they float."
"Thanks for that. I don't know if I've ever met someone who sells boats."
"Now you have. Actually, I was gonna go out on the lake today, but then it rained even though the forecaster had promised sun today, but that's how it goes, I guess."
"You're not drinking your coffee. Don't you like it?"
"I don't really like coffee."
"Huh? Then why did you order it?"
Sasuke ran his finger over the top of the laptop's frame. "It seems rude to come in here for the Internet but not buy a drink."
"Yeah, but they have other stuff than coffee. Or you could've bought a brownie! It seems such a waste."
"I'll sip at it. And, I don't like brownies."
"Who doesn't like brownies?"
"Me. Diabetics. People allergic to chocolate."
Naruto waved his hand flippantly. "Yeah, yeah. I get it. You're an odd duck, y'know that?"
"That may be an insult coming from you."
Naruto leaned the chair forward, pushing down the screen of his laptop so he could move his chair closer to the table. "I'm not that strange. I'm just hyped up on caffeine. Which you bought me, by the way. And I like to make conversation with strangers. I'm a people person, and you're sort of interesting."
"Yeah well, I didn't want it to go to your head or whatever. So what's your cat's name?"
"Uh, it doesn't have one."
"Your cat doesn't have a name? Is this like a Breakfast at Tiffany's thing? Do you just call him Cat?"
"I don't call him anything. He belonged to my mom, and when she died a few years back, I took him."
"So you've had him for years but never named him? Let's think of a name now. You've got to name him, Sasuke!"
Sasuke put his elbow on the table. "I've got to?"
"You must, I mean, what if your parents never named you?"
"Then what would be put on the birth certificates?"
"Shut up! I'm being serious here. I feel bad for the guy. What kind of personality does he have? What color is he? Is he a nice cat?"
"I don't know." Sasuke checked his phone after it buzzed. He was reading something on it. He snapped it shut and looked at Naruto. "It's a cat. What is there to say?"
"Okay, so when you walk into the apartment, does he come running to you or do you have to search him out to find him?"
"He's usually right at the door when I walk inside."
"See, so he's a nice guy, so you don't name him something like..." Naruto leaned back with the chair again and crossed his arms. "Satan or whatever. I dunno. You give him a nice name."
"Shut up, I had a brain fart. Okay, so a nice cat name. I've never had a cat, but I guess, like... Lucky or... Mittens?"
"Those are terrible names," said Sasuke.
"Well fuck, why don't you Google popular cat names."
"Okay, I will." Sasuke started typing.
"Fine, I will, too."
"Why are you? You'd just pick out something stupid."
"Excuse me for not being a cat person!" Naruto made it into a competition. He typed furiously into Google: poul ... backspace ... popular caa... Backspace…cat names. "Damn shaky fingers!" He clicked on the top link and scanned the list. "These names suck. Oh wait, I like that one. Porthos? Humphrey is a popular cat name? Weird. Did you see anything yet?"
Sasuke's mouth was set in a grim line. "Not really."
"Aw. Ollie is a cute name? What about that? And look at number 18, ha! Mittens! I told you."
"That just means you're unoriginal."
"Oh c'mon, Sasuke. It's better than calling him Cat or not giving him a name at all."
"Maybe his lack of name is my tribute to modern art or something," he grumbled.
"Ha! You mean like... how none of us truly have a name?"
Sasuke snorted. "You're an idiot. Ollie's not bad though."
"See!" Naruto laughed. "Or, I dunno. Don't you have a favorite movie or actor or band or something... you could name it after something more special than what we found in a 2-minute search?"
"It's not as if you'll know whether or not I stick to it. Ollie is fine."
"You better stick to it. Ollie is a great name. It could be short for Oliver or something. Or no, that's depressing. Oliver is that orphan?" For some reason, he immediately cringed after saying the word 'orphan.'
Naruto covered his mouth. "I don't always think before I speak."
"It's really okay. I wasn't offended."
The next few minutes of silence felt awkward, at least for Naruto, but Sasuke didn't seem terribly bothered. He was reading something on the screen.
"You're fidgeting," he said.
"Heh. Sorry." Naruto sat still. "How could you even tell?"
"Your knee just knocked mine."
"I-it did? Sorry! I didn't even notice."
"Uh," he had to bite his lip to keep from apologizing a third time. "Okay. So when you go home, you're gonna start calling the cat Ollie? What color is he? He's not black, I hope?"
"That's a bit racist of you," Sasuke replied, smirking.
"Shut up. That's not what I meant."
"He's not black. He's orange."
"Really? And that isn't too... bright for you?"
"It's not as if I had any choice in the matter, but no, he's a good cat."
"Who is?" Naruto grinned.
"Who?" he chirped and rattled his fingers over top the table.
"Ollie," mumbled Sasuke.
"Don't you just feel better? Now the poor guy has an identity. He greets you at the door and everything, at least have the courtesy to give him a name. Or were you afraid of getting too close to him?"
"If you gave him a name, I mean. Did that freak you out? Are you bad with commitment?"
"What are you, a therapist?"
"No. I sell boats, remember." Naruto smiled broadly and scratched the back of his head. He was having fun.
"You think you're funny, don't you?"
"I do when I'm drunk, yeah, definitely. I'll be the first to tell you so."
"Are you even old enough to drink?" Sasuke asked.
"Why do you keep sayin' stuff like that! Of course, I am. I'm 23!"
"Sure." Sasuke didn't sound like he believed him.
"Do you want to see my ID?"
"Good, because then you'd see my real name, which most definitely isn't Naruto."
"Uh huh." Sasuke sipped at his coffee.
"Ah, good. You drank some of your coffee! So, say, don't take this the wrong way, but, like, if you just moved here, I mean... if you want... maybe we could hang out sometime?"
Sasuke, slowly, set down his cup.
"What? Is there somethin' on my face?" Naruto wiped at his mouth in case he had a milk mustache.
"You sound like you're coming on to me. Just to be clear, you're not asking me out on a date, are you? Is that why you asked me to sit down?"
"What?" Naruto shook his head adamantly in the negative and put his hands out in front of him. "No! I just thought I'd offer to show you around, or you could meet some of my other friends. I just thought it'd be nice - "
"I'm fine, Naruto. I'm a big boy. I can manage on my own."
"Well, yeah. I wasn't implying otherwise. I just wanted to hang out again 'cause I enjoy talkin' with you."
"Okay. What's your number?"
"Your phone number. Give it to me." Sasuke slid his phone open.
"Really? Alright." Naruto rattled off his number. Then his phone buzzed. "Oh, cool." He put in Sasuke's name. "Good then. Yeah. Maybe I can meet Ollie sometime in the future."
"Don't get ahead of yourself." The corner of Sasuke's mouth twitched into a smile.
"Yeah, I wouldn't wanna move too fast. Maybe we should get dinner first." Playfully, he waggled his eyebrows.
"I thought you said this wasn't going to be gay."
Naruto chuckled. "They call it a bromance these days, Sasuke. It's perfectly legit."
"Although I suppose that's hypocritical of me to say."
Naruto was still grinning. "Why's that?"
"Because," Sasuke sucked in a breath and let it out. "I'm gay."
"I'm not going to repeat that."
"Wait. You're what now?"
"I date men."
"Oh... well that's cool."
"Is it? I just thought we'd get that out of the way before anything awkward occurred."
"Yeah, totally. This isn't awkward right now or anything. Yeah. Yep."
"Is it? I didn't mean for it to be."
Naruto waved his arms in front of himself. "No, don't get the wrong idea. I'm cool with it. I was just surprised you'd... tell me, y'know? I'm... oddly happy though. In a way."
"Happy that I like men?" Sasuke tilted his head a little to the side.
"Happy that you could tell me you like men. 'Cause, I just... appreciate your honesty. And stuff."
"How eloquent. You're going to delete my number after you leave, aren't you?"
"Of course not!" Naruto shouted, and then having drawn attention to himself, lowered his voice. "No. I think you're cool. I don't care if you're gay. It's not as if I was askin' you out on a date or somethin' here. I mean, not that you aren't... you know, a good looking guy? And you're sarcastic, which is hilarious, and I'm gonna shut up now because it sounds like I'm hittin' on you, which I'm not."
"Naruto. It's fine. I see now I shouldn't have bought you that second coffee."
"Hm?" Sasuke's voice was low and soft.
"Do you wanna grab some dinner? I haven't had lunch, and we can go to the pasta place that's around the corner."
Sasuke sat back in his chair, thinking. "Italian doesn't sound bad. It's a bit of an early dinner though."
"So we'll get some drinks first, and we can look forward to more awkward moments as we get to know one another."
"I suppose I can do work later on tonight."
"Is it weird that I'm askin' you out for dinner?" asked Naruto. "I've never had a gay guy friend, so I'm not sure if there are boundaries or whatever."
"What, in case I try to throw you down on the table and rape you?"
"Well, no. Obviously not. Shut up. It's new for me, so I just wanted you to feel comfortable."
"I thank you for your concern, but I'm perfectly comfortable with who I am."
"Me, too." Naruto grinned. "Honest. It'll be great. Maybe you can take me shoppin'. My dad says I don't dress up enough at work."
"Right, of course. The stereotypical gay man who likes to shop for clothes."
"Don't you? You seem pretty stylish as it is."
"Shall we then? I'm sure someone else wouldn't mind havin' a table. Do you want me to drive or you wanna take separate cars?"
"I'll drive," said Sasuke. He shut down his computer and started putting it away into his bag while Naruto did the same.
As they left, Naruto held the door open for Sasuke, who was close behind. "After you."
"Such a gentleman," Sasuke replied dryly.
It was still lightly raining out.
"Which is your car?" Naruto asked.
"That one." Sasuke pushed a button on his key fob and the lights of a nearby Prius went off.
"Ooh an electric car," Naruto mooned. "I've only been in one once before."
"Just try not to touch anything." He got into the car. Naruto gave it another appreciative look before getting in.
"Are you talkin' about the car or does that go for everything else?" He laughed as he put on his seatbelt.
"Oh wow. I'm really starting to regret I told you my sexual preference."
"Aww, c'mon, Sasuke. You know this is the start of a beautiful relationship."