For All of Us Who've Seen the Light

Salute the Dead and Lead the Fight

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BIRTHDAY FIC: In Which Neal Is Awesome (Cookleta, PG-13)
TEXT - Make cupcakes not war
sophie_448
Title: In Which Neal Is Awesome
Author: sophie_448
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Cookleta
Word Count: 2170
Warnings: language
Summary: In which David and David need some help from their good friend Neal.
Notes: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATE! I HOPE YOU LIKE IT.




It takes Neal a few weeks to realize that his two friend Davids are, in fact, talking about each other when they gush disgustingly at him about the guy they met at the music library. Neal can't be blamed for this since they're both giant pussies who haven't managed to introduce themselves.

"Oh, gosh, he's really handsome, you know? Well, in a kind of scruffy way," Archie had said, and seriously, there were literal fucking stars in the kid's eyes. And, sure, that's Cook. Well, the scruffy part anyway. But this is a college campus. You could throw a rock and be pretty sure of hitting a scruffy guy that an impressionable little freshman might think was hot. And Neal's been tempted a time or two.

"I just met my next boyfriend," is what Cook had said, which was no fucking help at all. Especially because Cook says that about twice a day. How was Neal supposed to know that this time he actually meant it?

It was only when the obsession level got scary that they got a little more descriptive.

"He's gorgeous," Cook declared, "He's got this hair and these surreal green eyes. I think maybe he's a freshman&mdash"

"Fuck, my roommate is a pedo. This is gonna mean paperwork."

"Shut the fuck up, Neal. Whatever. He works there and I've never seen him before."

At that point, the proverbial light bulb went on above Neal's head, but he wasn't totally sure until—

"He, um, heh. He had on this shirt today that was kind of too small and he has these tattoos? On his arms? They were really, um, and he wears this necklace. Like every time I've seen him. Handcuffs and a star? Gosh, I'm sure he'd never like some awkward freshman anyway."

Archie shook his head dismissively and Neal blinked. "I wouldn't be so sure, Archie."

~*~


The bell on the door jingles pleasantly as David walks into the little sandwich shop. He's never been here before. It's a few blocks off campus, and he doesn't want to waste the money his parents spend on the school meal plan. A lot of people complain about the food, but he doesn't think it's so bad. That's how he met Neal, too. He's still kind of in shock that someone as cool and edgy as Neal would want to be friends with a dorky freshman like him. David isn't stupid. He knows he's kind of awkward, but like his mom always tells him, he's got to be true to himself.

Of course, he's pretty sure she didn't expect him to come out his senior year of high school when she gave him that advice, but in the end she and his dad took it okay. Not great, but okay. Didn't kick him out of the house or disown him or any of the other horrible things he'd been imagining since he was fourteen. So, yeah, David is earnest, gay, a little awkward, and doesn't swear. So when Neal poked him lightly on the arm while waiting in the ridiculously long line for pizza and asked casually, "So what do you think of U2?" Archie had blinked and stuttered a little, but he does actually have a lot of thoughts on the subject, so he'd managed to string some fairly coherent sentences together. And after that, somehow, Neal became his friend. Neal insisted on calling him Archie because "I already have a friend named David. He got there first, so you'll have to be something else." Archuleta was too long, apparently, so Archie it was.

And wow, he can even ramble in his own head. He looks around the restaurant. Neal had said he needed a day off from campus food and told Archie to meet him here for lunch. The place is packed, but he doesn't see Neal anywhere. And Neal is pretty darn hard to miss. David gets in line to order. Ten minutes later he has a sandwich, and there's still no sign of Neal. David looks around the crowded dining room. There are literally no empty seats. Except, oh there! A guy sitting alone at a table for two, turned away from David. Oh, gosh, he's no good at approaching strangers, but he has to eat and, fine, okay, here he goes.

"Hey, um, I'm sorry to, like, bother you? But there's really nowhere to sit in here and I was just—" David breaks off as the guy turns to face him because it's the guy. The guy from the music library with the scruff and the tattoos and the necklace and, oh gosh, David can feel the blush climbing up his cheeks. This is going to be even worse than the first time they met. Well, "met" might not be the right word. He had checked out a book. David had been distracted, though. He was listening to his ipod, working on some homework. The music library wasn't usually very busy. The place had been empty. He hadn't even realized anyone had come in until this guy reached across the counter and tapped his shoulder.

David had jumped about a mile, knocked his ipod off the counter so the earphones pulled out of the jack, and generally flailed. "Oh, sorry, wow, um, I didn't realize anyone was—that's not—should have—sorry. What did you need?"

The guy had laughed, loud and geniune, and somehow David hadn't felt like he was being mocked. "No big deal, man. I just need to check this out," he said, handing David an advanced theory book. And that was about the time David realized this guy was gorgeous. He fought the blush that was creeping up his cheeks as he scanned the book, but he didn't think he was very successful.

That was the beginning of a string of awkward music library encounters with the guy that David privately thought of as simply "Gorgeous." And now here he was in the sandwich shop with the only empty chair in the whole place, and if David had realized he would have just starved instead, but here he was and&mdashoh, gosh.

The guy runs a hand through his hair, grinning in a kind of uncomfortable way, and oh he must be meeting someone and David is so—"Sure, yeah! Here just let me—"he slides his bag off the other chair. "I was waiting for my friend, but I don't think he's gonna show, the fucker. After he made such a big fuss about being tired of campus food, too."

David blinks. That's weird. Just then his phone buzzes in his pocket. He flips it open to find a text from Neal. It reads, you're welcome. David notices that the guy has his phone out too. "Um, your friend isn't named Neal by any chance?" he guesses, his stomach doing a crazy drop and swoop.

The guy gets it after a second. "That rat bastard."

David swallows a nervous laugh. "Oh, gosh."

The guy sighs and shakes his head, then seems to decide something. "David Cook," he says, offering his hand, "It seems we share a friend who can't mind his own damn business."

David takes it, and he knows there can't really be sparks when you touch someone, well, unless there's static electricity, and this isn't that obviously, but wow, it's something and he swallows hard and pulls his hand back as quickly as possible without being rude. "I'm, uh, actually I'm David too. Archuleta. Neal calls me Archie? He said he already had a—well, I guess he must have been talking about you. Anyway, you can call me that too. I don't mind."

"All right, then, Archie. Call me Cook. No confusion." He smiles wide.

David sits down. He's so nervous he's practically vibrating, but he's not about to turn down what is apparently an ambush blind date with the guy he's had a hopeless crush on for weeks&mdashCook, he reminds himself. At first it's awkward, but then they start talking about music. It turns out Cook is a senior music major. He offers David some good tips on navigating the program. Then they move onto favorite bands, and from there Cook starts talking about his band. Apparently they might not be together much longer, and he's thinking of putting something together with Neal and a couple of their other friends. Then Cook gets David to admit that he dabbles in songwriting and asks to hear some of his stuff, and oh, that could be embarassing, but on the other hand he would get to see Cook again, and that would be awesome.

David looks at his watch and realizes he's almost late for his three o'clock class. He has no idea how it got to be so late. He jumps up from the table. "Oh my gosh, I have class. I totally forgot, well I didn't forget, but how is it almost three, and—um. Sorry, I really have to go. It was really nice to meet you for real."

"Wait, wait, Archie, hold on," Cook says, reaching out and grabbing his wrist. And, oh, there go those not-sparks again. "I, um, listen." Cook looks nervous, which is silly. Why would someone as awesome as him be nervous? "I think—I think Neal wants us to date. But, it's cool if you don't want to."

"No, I do!" David exclaims, his mouth running ahead of his brain. When he realizes what he panics. "I mean, unless you, um—"

"Have dinner with me," Cook says, interrupting his ramble.

David blinks, then feels a grin spreading across his face. "Okay."

~*~



Neal is laughing at him. Neal is no longer his friend. David tells him so.

"Oh, yeah, Cook? Who got you a date with your jailbait crush?"

"He is not jailbait! He's eighteen."

"Uh huh, whatever. Just don't fuck it up. Archie's a nice kid."

"I know. I won't. Now fucking tell me what shirt to wear."

"Why not that one with the neon flowers?"

"I hate you."

~*~


David manages to pick a shirt and get out the door on time. He and Archie agreed to meet at Salvatore's, a little family-owned Italian place just off campus. When he walks up and sees Archie standing by the door, he has to take a minute to remember how to breathe.

"Hey, you look—"

Archie grins at him shyly, and his heart did not skip a beat at all. "Thanks, you too."

They talk easily through dinner, although if anybody asked David what they talked about he'd be at a loss. Archie is kind of distracting. His smile, his eyes, his adorable laugh. Oh, wow, David is pretty sure he's in trouble with this guy.

After Archie insists they split the bill, they make their way out.

"Can I, uh, walk you home?" David asks.

There's that grin again. "Oh, yeah, haha, that would be great."

After a couple of blocks, David steels his courage and reaches out to take Archie's hand. What is it about Archie that makes David feel thirteen again? His stomach drops pleasantly when Archie's fingers curl around his, and Archie glances over at him, smiling and blushing slightly. Seriously, blushing. It's awesome.

All too soon, they're standing in front of Archie's door. "I had a really good time, tonight," Archie says.

"Yeah, me too." David is just wondering whether he should—when Archie leans up and kisses him. It's soft and sweet, and then Archie pulls back, biting his lip. David can't help ducking his head and kissing him again. It's longer this time, and when Archie gasps slightly against his lips, he takes the opportunity to deepen the kiss. Archie makes a little noise and responds eagerly. After a little while they pull back. David takes a couple of steadying breaths, enjoying the way Archie is flushed and slightly disheveled.

"Wow," David says.

Archie laughs breathlessly. "Yeah." Then the smiles slides off his lips. "Um, Cook? I don't—I mean I haven't—um."

It takes David a minute to figure out what Archie is talking about. "Oh." He can't hold back a slightly hysterical laugh. "It's our first date, Archuleta. You don't think I'm that easy, do you?"

Archie's eyes widen. "Oh my gosh, no! I didn't mean—"

David reaches out and squeezes his shoulder. "Hey, hey. Kidding. But seriously. We've got time."

The smile Archie gives him nearly knocks him over with its brightness. "Awesome."

David really agrees. He can't resist stealing one more kiss, thrilling at the way Archie's fingers curl around his upper arms for a moment before he lets go.

"So, we should probably thank Neal," David says.

"We could send a fruit basket?" Archie suggests, eyes wide and innocent.

David blinks at him, wondering if he's serious for a second before Archie cracks up. David laughs with him. Laughs so hard he has to lean against the wall and catch his breath. "Yes, let's send Neal a fruitbasket."


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OMIGOSSSSSSSSSSSSSH YOU ARE TOTALLY TOTALLY MY ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD, BECAUSE YOU HAVE MADE THIS THE VERY BEST BIRTHDAY EVERRRRR

OMG WELL OBVS YOU ARE MY FAVORITE PERSON IN THE WORLD TOO. ILU!!!!!

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