Art of seduction, The

by laurel

Notes: Follows: A Christmas Wish, A new love, That's what friends are for, Popsicle toes, Twister, Tangled up in blue, The list, Jazz singer, Debut, Meet the neighbors, War games.

Spoilers: None

Archive: Okay to WWOMB, anyone else just ask first.

His nails dug into the palm of his right hand. Christ, these two were frustrating beyond belief. Here he'd set them up on blind dates and they seemed to be doing everything to sabotage their night.

Melvin peered at Alex behind his thick lenses. He made Melvin take the glasses off. "No, no good, put them back on." Maybe he should hide his leering, sad dog gaze with sunglasses. Make that both gunmen. Langly was an even worse case. Lisa would kill him if her friends didn't at least have a nice time with these geeks.

"Let's work on wardrobe," Alex announced. He marched into each man's room and studied their clothing. At least Frohike had some halfway decent threads. Ringo was just a hopeless fashion case. All he owned were jeans and t-shirts. T-shirts with such clever sayings as "my other t-shirt is clean", "Ramones rule", "A is for anarchy", "I'm with stupid", "some of my best friends are gay", "I'm not as think as you stoned I am", "worst episode ever" and so forth. He threw them all on the bed in frustration and settled on a tuxedo t-shirt, presentable jeans, a suit jacket that he brushed down with a lint brush and a highly polished pair of wingtip shoes. It would be an "ironic" look, poking fun at the establishment or something.

He shoved the clothes at Ringo and ordered him to dress. Langly's eyes glared at him from behind his glasses but he did as he was told.

Next to start with the little man. God, where to start? He paired a black tee-shirt with a fairly decent pair of slacks and loafers. Not bad. Fix the hair. Make the man shave again. Well that helped a bit, but short of plastic surgery and a personality overall, it was going to have to do.

"Now, this is a nice restaurant. It's a three star place, so it's probably the fanciest one you will ever be in. Let's start with the forks. This one's for salad, this is for your entre, remember to place your napkin on your lap, not tucked in your shirt."

How did Alex know so much about forks, Fox wondered. He watched in amusement as his lover instructed his kooky friends on the finer points of restaurant behavior.

"Let's go over a pretend wine list." He proceeded to tell them the differences between merlot, chardonnay and burgundy.

Melvin swirled the wine a bit and tasted it. "This wine tastes of cork," he pronounced.

"Don't say stuff like that! Where did you hear that? In a movie?"

"Taste for yourself."

Alex did and had to agree. He gave Fox a dirty look. Why had he bought this crap? At least he didn't buy the cheap stuff that came in a box anymore.

"Now to the important stuff. You know to pull the chair out for a lady, right? Right?"

Both men gave him a blank look.

"Oh sure, pull out the chair and wait for her to sit down first," Melvin recited.

"Right. And let her do most of the talking. Women hate egomaniacs."

"What do we talk about?"

"Current events, movies, music, your childhood, your job. Steer clear of politics and religion. And don't spout any conspiracy theories like who really shot J.F.K. and no computer mumbo jumbo. You'll lose them for sure."

"Ah, man, why don't you just wrap duct wrap around our mouths while you're at it," Ringo whined.

"That's not a bad idea," Alex said darkly.

He made them go over dinner table etiquette again. They seemed to have the concepts down but who knew how long they could retain them?

He gave each man a final going over, including hair gel for Ringo's wild mane. It was sleeked back and pulled into an acceptable ponytail, with not a hair out of place. He drilled them again on appropriate conversation which included no boasting or trashing past girlfriends, and grilled them on current events and sports that would interest news junkie Bonnie who was Ringo's date, and the athletic Marie, who was Melvin's date.

"What's your opening line going to be?"

Frohike swaggered up to him. He touched Alex's jacket. "Could this be leather?"

Alex arched his eyebrow. "Yeah."

"Could this be denim?" He put a finger on the worn jeans at hip level.

"Yes, and watch your hand." Where was he going with this?

"Can this be felt?" The short man put a hand on Alex's chest where breasts would be on a woman.

He batted his hand away. "Pull that one and she'll rip your arm off. And I wouldn't blame her one bit." He turned to the snickering Langly. "What's your strategy blondie?"

In the corner Fox giggled and clapped a hand over his mouth at Alex's glare.

"I thought I'd start with, hey baby, what's your sign?"

"Stop," Alex replied dryly. He smacked them both on the backs of their heads like Moe would do with his numbskull stooges. "Knock it off, both of you. Now these are nice women. They don't want innuendo, or stupid come-ons. Just be nice and normal. Try very very hard to just be normal. Okay?" He let out an exasperated sigh.

"Okay, we get it. No tech talk, no clich opening lines, no conspiracy theories." Langly shoved his hands into his pockets.

"We'll be nice. Don't worry," Melvin reassured him.

Fox and Alex followed them out to the van. He couldn't resist giving them a final piece of advice. "Don't do anything I'd do."

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