Cib had been staring oddly at Parker since he sat down. When Cib invited Parker out to lunch last night, Parker was apprehensive- for a good reason. Cib almost never made plans, much less with him. But Parker had sucked it up, seen an opportunity to make those “social connections” that his therapist was always talking about, and agreed.
Parker was starting to regret his decision, though, after noticing the judgemental gleam in Cib’s eye.
At first Parker thought that maybe Cib was staring at someone behind him. So, like most people would, Parker did a one-eighty and turned in his seat to look behind him, accidentally making direct eye contact with a grumpy old man at the table across the way. Parker inhaled sharply, cursing himself internally, and turned back to face Cib.
Cib, who was still staring.
Parker wasn’t sure what to do. Did he look Cib in the eye? Was this some sort of display of dominance? Not a word had left Cib’s mouth, not even when Parker had greeted him with a polite, but cautious, “Hey, man!” Was Parker supposed to speak first? Or did Cib want him to be quiet, a sign that Parker understood that Cib was in “control”? Parker didn’t have the slightest idea.
The chatter around the restaurant made the silence less uncomfortable, but only slightly. Cib had shifted in his seat, leaning back and putting a hand over his mouth- the perfect image of judgement. Every so often he hummed, as if he was pretending to understand something that someone was saying and was overreacting to compensate. Although his eyes sometimes shifted to look at his hair, or his shirt, Cib didn’t look away from Parker.
Parker cleared his throat. Opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again.
“What’s up, man?” Parker said. He made an effort to look Cib in the eye, but even Parker could hear the tremor in his voice.
Cib said nothing, only squinted his eyes slightly and hummed once more in response.
Hoping that by the time he was done Cib would speak, Parker slowly, meticulously rolled the sleeves of his button-up over his elbows. He took his time, folding the edges over each other so that each layer of fabric was evenly set, feeling Cib’s eyes on him the whole time. Parker felt his face going red.
He crossed his arms in front of himself, leaning slightly on the table, and looked up at Cib again. One look at Cib, though, and Parker had decided that he was much too cold to have a long-sleeve shirt on with the sleeves pushed up, and began rolling them down in the same slow way he had rolled them up.
Parker’s cheeks felt hot and there was a single bead of sweat dripping down his forehead and god if Cib wasn’t so weird things wouldn’t be like this and-
“Dude!” Cib shouted, and Parker quite literally jumped up in his seat, head snapping up to look at the man across the table.
“What, what?” Parker said frantically, pulling the other sleeve down without looking.
“Quick, gimme your phone,” Cib said, voice quieter.
Parker paused. “Uh. No?”
“Uh, yes,” Cib said.
“You have your own phone!”
Cib waved a hand around in front of him, eyes rolling up to the ceiling and back again. “Details, details.”
“No, really, Cib. You have a phone,” Parker said.
Cib sighed, as if Parker had disappointed him in some way. “I had a little tiny-winey accident today when I was taking out the garbage at the office and now I don’t have it anymore. Get off my back, grandpa.”
Parker’s eyebrows furrowed. “You don’t have to take out the garbage at the office. Someone comes and picks it up at the end of the week.”
Once again, Cib groaned. “Okay, okay, fine, I just wanted to go to the dumpsters, you got me, it’s not important in the littlest, slightest bit right now.” Cib rested his elbows on the table in front of him, fingertips touching as if he was some sort of mob boss. “What is important, in the biggest bit, is that I need your phone.”
Parker stared. “You aren’t gonna let up until I give it to you, are you?”
Shoulders slumping in defeat, Parker reached into his front pocket and grabbed his phone. He typed in the password, making sure that Cib couldn’t see. Parker looked up every second or so, seeing Cib’s proud expression, before handing it over.
Cib reached for the phone, a toothy smile on his face, but Parker pulled it back. Cib let out an offended yelp, leaning back in his chair.
“You can have it, just don’t call or text anyone, please?” Parker said. Cib rolled his eyes. “No, I mean it, Cib,” Parker said.
Cib laughed. “I wasn’t planning on it anyway. I just need to Bing it.”
Parker reached over and set the phone on Cib’s side of the table, and Cib promptly snatched it up. “You mean, Google it?”
Cib didn’t look up from Parker’s phone screen. “No, I meant Bing it.”
Parker sat back in his chair, staring up at the dim lights of the restaurant.
He ran a hand through his hair, feeling exasperated with himself. For all intents and purposes, he should hate Cib. Cib was rude, mean, and judgemental. So were Steven and James. But for whatever reason, Parker found them interesting.
For whatever reason, Cib found him interesting, too.
Cib only typed for a moment before letting out a shout. “Ha! I fuckin’ knew it, dude!” he said, his eyes crinkling as he smiled in a way that made Parker’s stomach turn over.
“What?” Parker said, more for Cib than himself.
Cib turned the phone to face Parker, his hand shaking so much with excitement that Parker took it from his hand to see more clearly.
It was a search result (on Google, by the way) for the phrase “old navy man.” The result was, as to be expected, several male models in various jeans, khakis, and layered tops. Parker scrolled for a second before looking up at Cib, the slightest hint of a grin starting on his face.
“I knew you looked like that guy from Old Navy!” Cib said, eyes bright.
Parker stared for what he knew was a second too long before biting down on his lip and looking back at the phone. He scrolled for another second before clicking on the first image- a brown-haired man in a blue blazer and tan khaki pants.
“Cib, I look like none of these people,” Parker said, still staring at the phone, and it wasn’t an exaggeration- none of them were blonde, several seemed to have a six-pack, and all of them were very, very attractive.
“What?” Cib said. “Dude, Parker, dude, I’ve seen you wear all of those outfits. That’s what you wear. Your whole closet is Old Navy.”
“It genuinely isn’t, but,” Parker looked up, turning the phone off and setting it down on the table, “I wasn’t aware that you were paying that much attention to what I wear,” Parker said.
Cib looked away, shrugging, and Parker felt something warm stir in his chest. “It’s hard not to notice when you wear what you wear, dude, you look like a grandpa. Like a middle-aged grandpa. A young grandpa, with things to do and people to bang.”
Parker let out a laugh, one that was probably to loud for the situation and the joke.
“Yeah, loads of people to… make love to,” Parker said, stumbling over his words. He cringed a bit and looked back up at Cib, expecting ridicule, but if Parker didn’t know better, he would have said Cib was blushing.