for the tropes! maybe a matchmaker au?
[put a fanfic trope in my inbox and I’ll describe the fic I’d write!]
OKAY BUT HOW CAN I DO THIS WITHOUT MAKING SHITTY THE MATCHMAKER.
Shitty knows a lot and he knows he knows it. So when the illustrious Jack Zimmermann comes into his “relationship clinic,” Shitty has a thousand pieces of advice for him. First of all, Jack should learn to enjoy himself a little. Nobody wants to date a boy who’s not into having fun. Loosen up. And learn how to make conversation. And maybe learn to flatter a little. Shitty will fix him up with a nice girl, but Shitty’s going to recommend his favorite dating coach, Eric Bittle, to give Jack some lessons on how to treat a lady.
Eric Bittle has a thousand words of advice for Jack as well. They do a mock date, and Eric says things like “Okay, Jack, right now I’m eyeing my phone about to send a text to my best friend telling her to rescue me.” “Jack, I’m stifling a yawn and starting to look at the cute guy in the booth behind us.” “Mr. Zimmermann, that is the sort of thing that would make some girls walk out.”
Jack’s frustrated. Shitty fixes him up with a girl named Samantha, and Jack finds that Eric’s admonishments were scarily accurate. They break down the date later. Eric assures him that he’s not a hopeless case, that he gave it a good honest try, and that’s more than a lot of guys will even give.
Next lesson with Eric. Technique. Literally, how to eat and drink. How to dance. Eric’s as small as some girls, so he gives Jack a dance lesson. Jack’s never enjoyed dancing before, but holding Eric by the waist and guiding him around the dance floor is fun. Fun, due in no small part to the sparkle in Eric’s eyes.
Shitty matches him up with a girl named Camilla. This one goes a lot better. They talk sports, which is great, and Jack pretty much succeeds at the whole technique thing. But the thing is, Jack’s not feeling it. It’s one thing to perform well, but it’s another to have it feel like a performance. He doesn’t have the same rapport with Camilla as he does with Eric. It doesnt feel right.
Shitty frowns at this. “Brah, can I ask you a question?” he says to Jack. “Are you into men?”
Jack shakes his head fiercely. “It has to be a woman,” he says. “It has to. I’m in the NHL.”
Shitty looks at him for a long moment, opens his mouth to speak, and then sighs. “All right,” he says. “You’re the client.”
Third lesson with Eric devolves into a conversation on expectations and feelings. “How will I know when it’s the right person?” Jack asks.
“Oh, honey. You’ll know,” Eric says. “She’ll be easy to talk to. You’ll want to spend more time with her. You won’t want the night to end.”
Jack doesn’t know about that, but he does know that he doesn’t want this lesson to end. Ever.
Jack returns to Shitty and tells him he needs a girl who’s easy to talk to. Shitty frowns and says, “Okay, all right. I don’t usually do this, but I’m gonna set you up with a close personal friend of mine. Larissa’s low-key, she’s smart, she’s interesting… she might be perfect for you. Sound good?”
She does sound good, and Jack’s actually finding he’s somewhat excited for this date. And Larissa is easy to talk to. Better yet, she’s easy to not talk to… the pauses in their conversation are not awkward. Jack definitely feels a connection with her. If there’s a hitch in this date, it’s that Larissa seems to talk about Shitty a little too much.
But when the end of the night comes, and they’re at Larissa’s door – Jack doesn’t want to kiss her. He wants her number, but he wants it so he can text her. Maybe hang out once in a while. But not date. Not kiss, not hold hands with.
Larissa frowns at him. “You’re thinking of someone else,” she says flatly.
And she’s absolutely right.
Jack makes an appointment for a lesson with Eric, and the minute they’re together again, Jack tells him. “I want you,” he says. “I want to date you. No one else.”
Eric’s hesitant, but his eyes are shining. “Oh, Jack, honey,” he says. “That’s not uncommon, for people to think they’ve fallen for their dating coach. It’s an illusion. Because we connected during lessons, it doesn’t mean we really–”
“We really,” Jack says. “I really.”
Eric stares, lost for words. Jack fills in the blanks. “I want to go on dates with you,” he says. “I want to hold hands with you, I want to dance just like we were dancing before. I want to talk to you all night long. I want to wake up next to you. You’re who I was thinking of when I was on those dates. I’m not making this up. It’s for real. You said I’d know…. and I know.”
And now there are tears in Eric’s eyes. “Are… are you sure?”
Jack nods emphatically.
“I– I told myself I was just imagining it,” Eric mumbles. “I told myself, now look here, Eric Richard Bittle, he’s just another client. Another one of the hot messes Shitty works with. Just because he’s doing well at the lessons doesn’t mean–”
Jack shuts him up with a kiss.
Afterward, as they hold each other, Jack says, “You know, Shitty’s a really good matchmaker.”
Eric laughs. “You think?”
“Absolutely.” Jack gives him a grin. “I fell for the very first person he recommended.”