My wednesday100 is more like a Wednesday1779. Normally, I would divide it into 100s, with each 100 fitting/answering the challenge, but this time it doesn't divide. So, enjoy a full FFL one-shot instead.
Challenge: Mistakes that turn out well. Can also include happy accidents or other forms of serendipity.
A Match Made With Pasta
Sam looked at his watch and sighed in defeat. He’d been stood up. Again. He rose, dug out his wallet, and dropped a ten on the table for his coffee. He knew it had been a mistake to say yes. He really needed to stop allowing PJ to set him up on blind dates; they never worked out, anyway. He snagged his coat off the back of the chair and turned to go.
And, promptly, smacked into the waiter carrying a tray full of food.
Sam’s lightening reflexes caught the waiter and steadied him before he fell, but it was too late to stop the forward momentum of the dishes. He watched as a plate of pasta with dark red sauce executed a twirl and a flip, and landed face down in someone’s lap.
“Oh, geez.” Sam’s face flamed. The din of the lunch crowd quieted as all eyes focused on the spectacle he’d caused. The victim of his klutziness lifted the plate from his lap and set it on the table. Noodles and red sauce clung to the front of his dress shirt, tie, and trousers.
Sam grabbed a napkin from the table and began wiping the guy’s shirt. “I’m so sorry.” He was such a spazzoid, as his sister still called him at age thirty-eight. The pasta sauce smeared further, staining the white shirt bright red, undoubtedly matching his heated cheeks.
A strong hand enclosed his wrist and he looked up into eyes the color of polished amber. The guy had blond hair cropped in a business cut and dimples in his cheeks caused by his smile. “It’s okay. It was an accident.”
Sam didn’t think he could be more embarrassed, but then he realized he was cleaning off a stranger’s lap. “Sorry.”
The guy let go of his wrist. “I said it’s okay.”
“Yeah, but… oh, geez.” Sam put the dirty napkin on the table, got out his wallet, and gave the guy one of his business cards. “Here. Just send me the cleaning bill for your suit. I’ll pay for lunch, too.”
The manager came up to the table, looking horrified. He addressed the pasta-stained man. “Sir, my apologies. If there is anything we can do—”
“I’m taking care of it,” Sam said. “If you’ll total up his bill for me, plus anything else they’d like for lunch, I’d appreciate it.”
“Very good. Charles,” the manager indicated to the waiter, “if you’d please.”
The waiter set the surviving dishes on the table and prepared to take another order. Sam followed the manager. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the blond guy watching after him. He blushed furiously in embarrassment.
Sam settled up with the bill, apologizing profusely to the manager the entire time. Finally, he escaped the restaurant. He ducked into the alley between buildings, leaned against the wall, and buried his face in his hands with a loud groan of despair. “You are such a strawberry fruit chew,” he mumbled to himself.
He dropped his hands, glanced out the alley, and saw Rick Swanson saunter past. He knew immediately that was whom his sister had set him up with; Rick had been trying to get into his pants for months. He pressed against the brick wall, trying to make himself invisible. He thanked his lucky stars that Rick had been late. He wasn’t that desperate.
Making sure no one was watching, Sam took flight and landed nimbly on the rooftop of LexCorp Tower a few seconds later. He entered through the hidden door on the roof and rode the private elevator down to the labs in the sub-basement level. He exchanged weak hellos with his coworkers as he walked down the halls to his office. He barricaded himself inside, exchanged his winter coat for his lab coat, and picked up the phone.
“I take it the date didn’t go well,” PJ said over the phone line.
“It didn’t go at all,” Sam said, dropping into his swivel chair behind the desk. “Rick was late, and it’s good thing, too, or I’d have to take a contract out on you.”
“Shut up. Why the hell did you set me up with him?”
“You need to get laid, Sam, and Rick is a sure thing.”
Sam sputtered. “I can’t believe you, you- you pimp!”
“I was doing you a favor. You’re wound too tight again. The Dads are worried about you. No, I don’t care what excuses Gigerton gives, I want the final project data in my hands before six tonight.”
Sam scrubbed his hand through his short, red hair as PJ spouted more orders to her secretary. “They don’t need to be worried. I’m fine,” he interjected when she paused for a breath.
“Last time you said that, you blew up your lab with you still in it.”
Sam felt his cheeks heating at the humiliating reminder. “It was an accident.”
“One that wouldn’t have happened if you went home at night like normal people do,” PJ said. He could hear her fingers clacking on a keyboard. “Speaking of normal people, I need to go. Rebecca and Allie have a half-day at school and I promised we’d go ice skating.”
“Promise me you won’t stay in the lab all night?”
“Peej, I have a lot of work—”
“I’m CEO of LuthorCorp and even I can make time to leave the office.”
Yeah, but she had a husband and two kids waiting for her at home. Sam had a dead fish.
“Sam,” PJ drew out his name in her mother-voice. “Promise?”
“Fine. I’ll leave at ten.”
“Seven.” Sam sighed. “I hate you.”
“The feeling’s mutual, nerd-boy.” PJ made kissing sounds and disconnected without a goodbye.
Sam hung up, dropped his head back, and stared at the ceiling. Talking to PJ always made him feel both happy and sad at the same time. She cheered him up, but never failed to remind him that he was alone. It wasn’t as if it were his fault; he hadn’t planned on being single still at his age. He just got overly involved in his work and time passed before he knew it. Besides, it wasn’t like he was all that attractive. He was nerd-boy, after all: pale, skinny, with clown-red hair and freckles. It wasn’t as if he could show off his alien-inherited abilities, either, to gain the interest of other gay men, and there was a difference between casual sex and being in a relationship, so he had to be picky.
Sam pretended he wasn’t lying to himself and then gave his chair a push. He wheeled over to his drafting table and went to work on the schematics for his current project.
The buzz of the intercom startled him and he scratched a line on the blueprint. Scowling, he used the erasing plate to remove the pencil mark. The intercom buzzed again. With a nudge of the chair, he rolled over to his desk and picked up the phone. “Sam Kent.”
“Mr. Kent, there’s a visitor here to see you. A Mr. Andrew Elliott.”
Sam recognized the front desk security officer’s voice. He didn’t recognize the visitor’s name, though. “I’ll be right up,” he said. It wasn’t wise to let unknown people into the labs, Papa Lex had drilled that into his head. Corporate espionage was a common threat (though usually the person worked for PJ).
A glance at his watch made him wince. It was already past seven. He’d bet this person did work for PJ and was checking up to see if he’d left like he’d promised her. He rode the elevator up to the lobby level, prepared to have security throw the guy out on his ear. He saw the back of a tall man, wearing jeans and a lambs wool jacket, standing near the front desk in the otherwise empty lobby, when he got off the elevator. He nodded to the security officer as he approached. “Hello, I’m Sam Kent. You wanted to see me?”
The man turned around and, promptly, Sam tripped over his feet. He was caught and steadied by the guy, whose dimples caught the shadows when he grinned. “Hello again.”
It was the guy from the restaurant. Sam flushed in embarrassment. “Um, sorry to fall into you like that. At least there was no pasta.” Sam tugged on the lapels of his lab coat. “Uh… do you have a cleaning bill for me?”
“No need for one. I didn’t like that suit anyway.” Andrew Elliott held out his hand. “I’m Drew, by the way.”
Sam shook Drew’s hand. “I’m Sam, which you know already. I gave you my card. Which you also know already and why you’re here.” He was such a dork! However, he was a confused dork. “Actually, why are you here? If you don’t have a cleaning bill, that is.”
“Since my lunch was ruined, I thought you’d might like to make it up to me by taking me to dinner,” Drew said.
“Sure. Of course. I should’ve offered to do that myself.” Sam glanced around the lobby. “Is the other person here, too? I owe them a meal, as well.”
“I usually don’t invite my brother to come on dates with me,” Drew said with a smile.
Sam jerked his gaze back to Drew. “Date?”
“Yes, a date.” Drew’s smile faded. “Unless you’re not interested—”
“No! Yes! No. No, I mean…” Sam took a breath and stopped stammering. “I’m interested.”
Drew’s smile returned. “Good. I was hoping you’d say that.”
“Really?” Sam refrained from smacking himself in the face at how pathetic he sounded. “Never mind. I just didn’t expect… I spilled pasta on you and ruined your suit and otherwise made a fool of myself, just like I am right now.”
“I don’t know. I think you’re doing just fine,” Drew said, dimples deepening.
Despite what PJ said, Sam didn’t need to get hit with a brick to understand when someone was interested in him. Drew was definitely interested. “Um, okay. Let me get my coat. I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be right here,” Drew said.
Sam smiled tentatively and headed back to the elevators. He saw Drew watching him as he stepped inside and pressed the button. Drew winked right as the doors slid closed.
Sam felt his stomach flip. He had a date. A real date, not something PJ pimped. An actual date with someone who was really interested in him, even after he’d acted like a complete klutz and a total spaz.
Maybe he should throw pasta at guys more often.