A/N: On one of the tumblrs I run, Twinings and I offered ourselves up for one full week of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to a thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em.
Prompt: The Mime goes speed dating.
Notes: Since she's so obscure: the Mime appears in Batman #412 and the short story The Sound of One Hand Clapping from the book The Further Adventures of Batman. Her deal basically boils down to: heiress with a passion for mime goes broke with her mime troupe, turns to crime as a form of protest against noise pollution, gets caught by Batman and then rescued/kidnapped/wooed by the Joker before being rescued from the Joker by Batman and then getting tossed in the slammer. She was the proto-Harley Quinn, predating Harls by about five-ish years. The end!
5:00: Mr. Ection.
Camilla Cameo, formerly the supervillain the Mime, peeled her name tag off its backing paper and affixed it to the front of her dress. Even though she had little hope of actually meeting anyone interesting during an evening of speed dating, her court appointed therapist had suggested that taking part in such an activity would be good for her as part of her parole. His reasoning being that not only would she get back in the habit of proper interpersonal interactions and learn to deal with social situations better, she also wouldn't have to do so for very long at a stretch.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Match Stick!"
There was a polite round of applause. Camilla tried not to wince at the sound.
"I'm sure everybody knows how this works, but just in case: every five minutes, this timer will buzz—" the organizer demonstrated, BUZZ, and Camilla had to keep her fingers from clutching the tablecloth in alarm, "—and you'll switch partners. Ladies, you stay put, the guys will come to you. Just sit back and let them do all the work!"
A scattering of giggles. Camilla reached for her water glass and took a sip to steady her nerves.
"In front of you is a sheet of paper with the names of all the people you'll be meeting tonight and a check box next to each person. When that buzzer does its thing—" another demonstration, BUZZ, and Camilla dropped her glass back on the table. It miraculously didn't shatter, or even spill. "—rate your date! Ready? Go!"
Already, she could tell that this was not going to end well.
5:07: Mr. Businessman
"You have to be heartless to make it in business, Camilla," Chet said, pointing at her, "I'm a self made man."
Two minutes into the experiment and her eyes were already starting to glaze over.
"I started in the mail room and I worked my way up! Good old fashioned hard work is how you get to where you want to be."
She nodded, not even really looking at him.
"My father could have set me up in a corner office on day one, but I insisted, no—I'm going to work my way up through the ranks the right way."
"A year later and here I am," if he had been physically able to pat himself on the back with both hands, he would have, "upper management already. I tell you, Camilla, there's nothing like knowing I did it all on my own."
5:13: Mr. Outdoors
"Have you ever been on a fourteen mile hike through the woods?"
Camilla lazily trailed a finger through the condensation on her glass.
"It's exhilarating," Martin assured her, brushing his sandy, shaggy hair out of his eyes. He was quite handsome in a rugged camping catalog sort of way. "There's nothing like pushing yourself that last mile, and your back is sore and your feet are blistered and you feel like you'll never make it to camp. God, it's just so good! Nothing like it!"
She nodded at him, trying to look like she could identify with that statement and wondered how he'd react if he knew her idea of a good time involved removing the horns from a whole parking lot full of cars.
"And then the real fun begins," he leaned forward and looked at her intensely. "You ever see a real live wild bear?"
5:19: Mr. Mama's Boy
"I mean, obviously I want a girl I can take home to mom. Who doesn't?"
Four minutes in and Camilla already knew Teddy Armstrong's mother's recipe for deviled eggs and the brand of wart remover she preferred. Contrastingly, she knew next to nothing about Teddy himself, except that he really loved his mom.
"I'm an old fashioned guy. I like a girl who's not afraid to meet mom on a first date, you know? It shows good character, in my opinion."
She exhaled loudly and tried not to be too obvious about looking at her watch.
5:20: Mr. Rebound
"I'm sorry, I'm not going to be very good company," Michael said the second he sat down, genuinely apologetic, "it was my best friend's idea that I come here. To…you know…just get out of the house and meet people?"
Camilla nodded solemnly and pretended that she wasn't wondering whether or not she could somehow "accidentally" break her court appointed therapist's nose without it counting as a violation of her parole.
"It's just…Jenny and I, we had something special, you know? And then one day after three years it's just…just over? I don't know how to deal with that. I know it's been two years, but…but still. I thought we were going to get married and start a real life together and…and…and…"
She really hoped he wasn't going to cry.
5:29: Mr. Leather Jacket
She probably should have known it was all going to go downhill when he introduced himself as Spike and offered to show her his prison tattoos.
She hadn't anticipated that he would pale and go silent when she showed him hers.
5:45: Mr. Womanizer
The last few dates had been so dull that Camilla barely even registered when they switched places in front of her.
When Larry sat down, the jogging suit and gold chains made her sit up and take all sorts of the wrong kind of notice. He was a cartoon—a loosely scribbled satirical image in the margins of a MAD magazine, with pick-up lines that hadn't been updated since the nineteen seventies.
"Your tag is showing," he said smoothly, reaching for her hand. "It says, made in heaven."
Camilla recoiled and wiped her hand on the tablecloth, trying her best not to draw any unnecessary attention to the action.
She sneered at the bastardization of her given name.
"You ever—" he leaned forward and whispered something positively obscene.
She threw the last of her water in his face.
"You're a real little spitfire, ain'tcha? How would you like to—"
She threw the glass at him, too.
5:55: Mr. Right
The last man who sat down across from Camilla wasn't anything out of the ordinary. He wore a black suit jacket but no tie, the top button of his shirt unbuttoned, and a pair of black jeans. With just five minutes left in the hour, she wanted more to get this last debacle over with and go home where she could sit in her comfy chair and read.
He smiled when he sat down—not too fake, not too brilliant—and politely extended a hand.
She took it and they shook briefly before he pulled his chair in towards the table.
Then, he did something she was not expecting.
Hello, he signed to her. My name is Arthur.
In a moment, Camilla's face lit up. He spoke sign language? She smiled brightly at him—her first real smile of the hour—and pointed at her name tag.
Like the flower? He asked.
She shook her head and ran her finger underneath her name, taking extra care to point out that there was no 'e' for Camellia.
You don't have to gesture, he said with a smile, I can read lips.
She thought for a second, seemingly trying to recall something and then moved her hands fluidly, I can sign. Rusty, though.
I didn't expect to meet anyone here who could, Arthur said. Are you…
No, she said. Vow of silence. I am ethically opposed to noise.
Oh, I see.
If you didn't think you would meet anyone you could talk to, why are you here? Camilla asked with a puzzled look.
Who am I going to tell? She raised her shoulders slightly and turned her palms up.
I'm a journalist, he said. This place is a racket.
Camilla tipped her head curiously, eyes wide.
Most of the men you've met tonight are actors. Match Stick hires them to be horrible dates, so the real male clients who are looking for love will seem better in comparison.
She made a face. That explains a lot.
He grinned at her. I'm sorry you had to endure it. If it makes you feel any better, my expose will put them out of business.
Vengeance! She cheered silently.
He laughed, and she found that she didn't mind the sound at all.
Are you doing anything after this?
Camilla shook her head.
Good. Would you like to go someplace a little more quiet?