All in all, it could have gone a lot worse.
After the words were out of his mouth Tyler wondered what the hell he could have been thinking. Right up until they both got to the restaurant hand in awkward and slightly sweaty hand he wondered what he'd been thinking. Reid didn't take well to dates between the two of them, didn't kiss him on the mouth, didn't do anything to make the impression that what they had was anything like a relationship. They fooled around between relationships, they didn't engage themselves in one at all. They damn well didn't go out on dates.
And here they were, going out on a date because Tyler had pricked his pride and gotten him to think of it as a matter of whether or not he was up to it or something. Made it a dare. And now they were on a date, dinner and a movie, a really ordinary and kind of boring date by any standards except that it was them, and this was not what they did.
Except, maybe, when it was. He didn't know anymore. He just watched Reid for signs that the other boy was uncomfortable or unhappy. The second he was, Tyler was putting a stop to the whole thing.
Unhappy Reid wasn't. Awkward, yes, and just a bit edgy, but mostly, his pride had been pricked, and so he had to make that up. By, well, showing his date a good time.
That was the idea, at least. And, for the most part, it wasn't unachievable. A date with a movie to come meant that the teasing was only so much, just to keep things sparking up; on the other hand, he had a free rein on making Tyler laugh. That, he did, and then some. If the food was not to be played with too much, it was still fair game to be joked about. And so were people around. Well, not those who were close enough to overhear, or really catch the two pairs of blue eyes grazing - and stopping - on them, but still.
In a way, it was like many a dinner they'd had together, and yet, it was also not. For one thing, they weren't out to eat all alone together all that often, well, not unless it was one of their usual places, and then it was just because it was faster or more convenient or something. This was a date, though, and now and again the awareness reasserted itself. As the meal progressed, a bit less often, especially since the food was, if funny enough, good, and it was Tyler, and even with holding hands and discussing the movie that they were going to see, he could relax around him, and--
... the awareness how much he was actually enjoying himself, here and like this, tumbled on Reid's mind all of a sudden between two bites. He didn't choke, he didn't even miss the stride of his words. Just his mind shifted a little.
Why had Tyler asked him on a date, anyway?
An older guy caught his eye halfway across the restaurant. He was yattering non-stop, as far as Reid could tell, and squashing every chance for his date to say anything. Then she tried to, and he almost yelled at her at any rate, it was loud enough for him to hear it, and the place was noisy enough for that to be something.
The blond took the moment when he was wiping his mouth with a napkin to take a drink; the aura flare was quick and faint, he didn't do much. Just started a spot on the guy's shirt - over the undershirt, under the vest and suit jacket - a little bit on fire. It would heat up, before really getting started. What with the way the man was sweating, it would move outwards. The guy's evening? Was going to be a little less fun, in a few moments.
Tyler caught it; hard not to, when Reid was right in front of him and he was Using. His eyes flickered around the restaurant for the improbable thing, the area that Reid had been looking at. And at that, it wasn't hard to figure out what he'd done.
He sighed. "Reid..." The blond hadn't had to do that. Not even a matter of spoiling the evening or being distracted from the date, just a matter of Using, showing off, and doing a bit of cruelty to a man who, yes, was pretty much an ass. But it wasn't for them to deal out punishments. If they started punishing people for being assholes they wouldn't do anything else, and anyway, what gave them the right?
And if he said all that he would sound like Caleb. It had taken Reid and Caleb so long, from the time they'd started learning how to use their powers, to figure out how to get along. He didn't want to do that.
Dilemma. He reached out and covered Reid's hand with his, lightly, just a little touch. If he could distract the other young man maybe he could keep him from doing something else restless and maybe worse. "Hey." Gently. Easily. "Be nice." Soft smile, there. Affectionate. He could understand the impulse, he really could. And he didn't mind too much. He just didn't want Reid to get out of control, in any sense.
When hadn't Reid poked at people who were being asses? It wasn't like making a schoolmate puke was exactly nice playing, after all.
His eyebrows quirked up at Tyler. "I was. I could've done worse." The man was shifting uncomfortably, all of a sudden; Reid's lips quirked up in displeased amusement at the stranger.
He also wasn't going to Use again, not unless he actually had to. And this was a tiny teeny Use, really. He'd learned to make sure he knew what he was doing; the warning they'd all had was pretty much enough.
... right. Date. Blue-eyes clearing a little bit, straight on his frien-- his date's, and he pointed down with his fork. "Did you try these? They're good."
In the background, the man noticed the fire, or rather, the woman saw it first, an instant before he registered. They jumped up in different directions off the table; in his flailing, the guy upset the tray the waiter passing by was carrying and sent spaghetti sprawling against the next table and tomato sauce splattering over the customers the next table over. The noise levels rose. Reid smirked, but didn't look over to see.
Tyler shook his head slightly, duly trying what Reid was pointing out but not quite seeing it. Behind him, he was hearing the noise and clamor that Reid had started, seeing the people flailing out of the corner of his eye. Now it wasn't just those two's night that had been ruined, but everyone in the nearby vicinity. And maybe theirs.
No. Not theirs. They could manage this. Salvage this.
He took a breath and then took a long drink of water. Yeah, Reid could have done worse, that doesn't mean Tyler wanted to think about that either. What he could have done. What either of them could have done.
And he wasn't sure why it was bothering him, tonight. Reid did shit like this all the time. Hell, half the time Tyler joined in, laughing and gladly. But he wasn't laughing tonight, and he wasn't sure why. It didn't feel right to laugh. It felt... empty. Or sad. Or something. Slightly upsetting. Mostly tiring.
He reached over and nudged Reid's fork a little with his, just being silly. Didn't look up, but brushed the backs of his knuckles against Reid's fingers, just to let him know it was okay. Or would be okay. They had somehow gotten down, and they'd just have to get back up again. They were them; they could always get back up again. Pick themselves back up again, figure out what was wrong, fix it, and go off laughing. That was what they did. They just had fun together. And that was enough to push at least some of the gloom away and make him smile as he poked the next bite of food off Reid's plate.
Reid wasn't laughing; maybe that was part of the reason why it didn't seem funny. He'd done it because he'd needed a distraction from thinking that this was a disaster, for all it felt nice now, and didn't even look up to see how much it worked, didn't do it for fun, didn't... anything. Just did it.
And now the nudge of the fork made his lips twitch again; ... and as little as the touch of Tyler's fingers got him right back to where he'd been running from, the faint tingle on his skin reminding him that this wasn't going to just go away, dammit.
His breath caught for a moment; but by the time Tyler would look up, the usual half-smirk was on his face, and he was nudging with his fork right back. "Sorry. I'll try to behave." Liptwitch. "Or else, who knows, the next mess might come on me. Or," slight face, but belied by the eyes, just a bit wider, just a bit softer than they should have been, "even worse - the evening outfit of my date!" A beat, and then a notch less smartassly, the faint hint of irony mostly at how it was unusual for them to be... doing this, rather than what he was saying. Which he actually meant. "Did I mention that you do look nice?" Not that they didn't know each other's wardrobe inside and out. Ahem. That didn't mean that it wasn't appreciated anyway.
And yes, Reid was scrambling. Date should be easy. Evening with Tyler should be easy. And yet... evening date with Tyler...
Reid was cracking. Tyler forgot all about the guy on fire and the mess he'd made and just touched the back of his hand again, blue eyes soft and worried. And calm. The date thing didn't occur to him as often as it seemed to be occurring to Reid, just by the way he jittered and fussed. Not in obvious ways, but Tyler saw it. And he knew Reid would see it even if he tried to hide that he was worried, so he didn't. Just accepted. Something wasn't right, and this had probably been a bad idea, but it was okay because they were there, and they were together. And that fixed most things.
Holding hands wouldn't help, so he didn't, but he kind of wanted to. "Thank you," he kind of grinned, though. Easy, soft. He meant it. It was always nice when Reid paid attention to little things like that. And it gave him the opportunity to spread the grin a little. "You're looking pretty good, yourself."
Because he was.
And, you know. Then came finishing dinner, they could just eat and hang out together and that would be okay, right? They could do that, just like they'd done it a thousand times before. Since they were very little. Probably since they were infants, not that he'd know about that and his mind was racing again. He should calm down.
By now it was just chasing remnants of sauces around on their plates and he wondered if this was a good idea at all. If he should just let Reid go, find a nice girl, stop chasing someone who didn't want to be chased. Find a nice girl himself. And most of the time, yeah, girls were good. It was just... this was Reid.
And that seemed to be the last thought his whirling mind could come up with, and now he was just staring at his plate.
"Thanks." Simple, and, well, he did mean it, although, well, he was himself. He always looked good. Except for before coffee.
Tyler date or no, he knew that kind of slump. Either in Tyler or in a date, really, the pushing around of things in one's plate, the soft words followed by silences...
Now that wouldn't do. Was this a dare or what? Reid dug up his grin again; this, he also knew what to do about. His eyes darted to trace the still-frantic motion of the staff and he caught one who didn't seem like he'd bite his head off because of panicking in the other end of the room. And ordered dessert. Big, flamboyant, weird, and, yes, funny desserts, different for both of them. With lots of chocolate.
Then he looked across the table, eyes wide. "What? I think we both deserve the treat!" Well, Tyler did, for putting up with him, any day, and right now, he had messed up, and he was making the effort to make it better again, and yes, something sweet and stuffing was in order. And no, he wasn't going to let Tyler choose - was this his date or what?
Tyler grinned, and yeah, the brightness was back in his eyes this time. He grinned over at Reid and then looked down at their plates and. "Wow. That's a lot of chocolate."
Yeah, no, everything was going to be fine, now. At least for now it was. Reid was recovering and now Tyler wasn't thinking about the guy or any of that, just that he was having a good time out at dinner with Reid. Same as always. He liked that.
He dug in to dessert, kept his eyes on Reid. If he was lucky... or unlucky? No, lucky, if he was lucky Reid was up to playing with his food. That was always a good sign.
"Chocolate," Reid pointed out, waving his tiny fork in the air, "is almost as good as coffee for recovering the mood. Right?" Actually, he decided to forgo the fork. Some things had to be eaten using the dessert spoon, but the ones meant for the fork, well.
Did fingers-eating count as playing with his food? Ahem.
He was blabbering, just about at his usual speed, spurting out nonsense put together in his usual absurd ways and tied up to become funnier than it had a right to be. And tied up with a blond ribbon, or was he getting tied up into a ribbon? When they were partway done with the dessert and Tyler was relaxing, Reid grinned, licked his fingers, and said he needed to go to the loo - because he did.
No promise how much damage, er, chaos he was going to stir up on the simple distance, though.
Tyler just shook his head, chuckled and finished his dessert. Not as stirred up as he sometimes got when Reid was playing with his food but good enough. Some things stayed the same. Some things would always stay the same, and that was vastly reassuring.
Most of the fire would be out by the time Reid got back, the metaphorical one anyway. Everyone calmer, including him. He twirled the fork around a bit in his fingers, smiling down at his plate. Not the best of ideas, but it wasn't ending badly, was it? He hoped it wasn't, anyway. He didn't even know what had made him do it, and he really hoped it wasn't ending badly. But Reid seemed better. And that was good.
He trailed his finger in the remnants of the chocolate sauce, licked it off, did it again until Reid came back.
Except it wouldn't. The fire. Because...
Well, the woman who was making her husband cringe, despite the fact that the shortcomings she was listing to him in a loud enough voice that he could hear her as he was going to pass her table were actually pretty damn decent qualities did deserve the couple of very choice, very scathing comments he murmured in her ear on passing; when she looked up, there were two people heading in different directions and she picked the wrong one as the possible culprit. And it was way more difficult to calm down a woman in a fury.
The ... thick man who had just had his fists on the cuffs of a harried-looking water and had been mostly yelling at him totally deserved to have his chair kicked out from behind him as he was about to sit back down.
Reid didn't even have to use.
And the couple on the last table he passed by was breaking up. He did catch after all the years, you'll just up and leave?
Yeah, no, he didn't run to the loo, and he didn't even hide in a stall or anything, but the energy burst he'd rounded up for dessert just went poof.
He didn't take that long, either, a couple of minutes maybe. When he came out, one of the couple was making his way towards the exit, and Reid suspected he was crying; the fat man was bellowing in one direction, the woman was yelling at somebody in the other. Neither of them were quite at their table, Reid could see, through the commotion, Tyler looking down at his plate, smiling that little smile that made his heart flip, just a bit. Well, it made his heart flip a lot, close range, but now he wasn't. He leaned a bit against the door-frame and watched for a moment.
It shouldn't have been a poor idea. It really shouldn't. But he couldn't go back there and pretend, not even until he got the momentum back. He couldn't even go up to Tyler and tell him that that was it, they'd better go home, just because that would mean seeing that smile turn into disappointment, and, well.
That's what I do, isn't it.
So he edged away towards the exit. Got a hold of one of the waitresses on the way, stuck in her hand some money, asking her to share with everybody, since it was a tough night and they didn't deserve customers behaving as they did - and it wasn't all his doing! - then called up a cab, back to the dorm.
Sat on the back seat with his head in one hand for a bit. Then took out his phone and texted Tyler - what, he wasn't so bad as to leave him just sitting there and wondering! - Sry. I shouldn't have taken you up to that dare. Going home.
And all the time, all he could think of was how he was an idiot and a disappointment, and how wouldn't people jilt him if he could do things like that? and how unhappy and maybe pissed Tyler was going to be.