Chapter Fifty: “Embarrassing”

Oscar had come to the decision that he was ready to “get back out there”. Bear had no idea what that meant. Really, it could mean a lot of things. He was hesitant to ask for clarification though because Oscar had been in such a precarious emotional state for so long. Bear figured Oscar would let him know precisely what it meant sooner or later. Bear would simply wait for him to set the pace and tag along. The first thing Oscar decided it meant was that he needed a new wardrobe. So many of his clothes, he said, had been handpicked by Katy. He needed things that weren’t constant reminders of all that he had lost. So the pair of them went shopping together.

Bear wasn’t big on shopping. He wasn’t opposed to it in general, but he usually got what he needed for the year in a handful of trips and then avoided the mall for the rest of the time. But Oscar had asked and Bear was willing to help him out. He was usually willing to help people out. By nature, Bear was a very helpful guy. The first place they went to was a fairly upscale menswear store that sold everything from jeans to full three-piece suits. Oscar went around, grabbed an armful of things, and meandered to a dressing room. Bear took a seat on one of the brown leather ottomans across from the curtained off dressing rooms and waited for Oscar to show him his choices.

While he was sitting there, a young saleswoman who had been offering advice as they’d walked around the store, came over to join him, leaning against the mirror. Her name tag said Alison. She started making smalltalk, first about the weather and then about the Roehampton Panthers basketball team and how well they were doing. Oscar popped his head out from behind the curtain to inform Bear that his first pair of jeans didn’t fit.

“He’s very handsome,” Alison told Bear, winking.

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Bear agreed. He was a very agreeable guy. Clearly Alison was interested. Bear didn’t know if Oscar was interested in Alison obviously, but it could be a step in the right direction to “getting back out there”.

The next time Oscar emerged from the dressing room, Bear tried to subtly hint that Alison the Salesgirl was interested in him through discreet eye movements. Oscar frowned at him like he was insane.

“Is there something in your eye, bro?” He asked and Bear sighed in mild exasperation. Alison, meanwhile, had tilted her head to the side to get a better, all-encompassing look at the jeans Oscar was trying on. She turned to Bear, grinning mischievously.

“Those jeans make his ass look fantastic,” she commented to Bear, who was a little confused as to why this remark was being directed at him and not Oscar, but went with it nonetheless.

“They’re nice jeans, sure,” he conceded.

“You’re a lucky man,” she told Bear.

“Thank you?” Bear returned uncertainly. He looked over at Oscar, who was frowning at both of them like he now thought both Bear and Alison the Salesgirl were insane.

“Alright then,” he said and slipped back into the change room to try on something else. Alison winked at Bear, who was no longer certain that she was interested in Oscar after all. He was beginning to suspect she was interested in him instead. That aside, Bear was determined to help out Oscar so when he stepped back out in a blue sweater, he tried to redirect Alison’s advances.

“That’s a nice sweater,” Bear said pointedly, glancing at Alison, who nodded a long appreciatively. She was looking at Oscar through narrowed eyes, scrutinizing his outfit.

“It’s a great colour on him,” she agreed. “It’ll go amazingly with your eyes.”

This last part was directed at Bear, which seemed a bit nonsensical if he was being honest. Oscar raised his eyebrows at Bear before turning back to Alison.

“Oh, that’s a relief,” he said. “Prior to this point, none of my sweaters went with his eyes.”

Alison giggled madly.

“Ooh, so sassy! I love it!” She cooed. “Would you like to see him in more of a straight-leg, dark wash jean?”

This again was directed at Bear.

“Umm…sure,” he said unsurely.

“But you like the sweater?” She checked. Oscar was standing in front of the change room curtain with his hands out as if to point out that it was really him she should’ve been asking about the sweater. Bear couldn’t have agreed more.

“It’s nice,” Bear answered all the same. “It’s a sweater.”

Alison nodded and then left, presumably to pick out a nice pair of straight-leg, dark wash jeans.

“What the fuck,” Oscar said flatly as soon as she was gone.

“I don’t know,” Bear replied, shrugging. “She winked at me while talking about your ass. I think she’s trying to hit on one of us, but I’m not sure which. Maybe both.”

“Well, she’s all yours, bro,” Oscar returned casually, adjusting the neck of his sweater and turning to look at his reflection in one of the full-length mirrors.

“What? Why mine?” Bear asked.

“Because she’s a tiny nutcase,” was Oscar’s answer.

Oscar went to change into something else and Alison came back with an armful of pants for him to try on. She handed the bundle to him through the curtain and then continued to stand beside where Bear was sitting, at which point she made casual conversation about Oscar’s ass. She kept making comments about how lucky Bear was as well, which was also confusing. After about the eighth pair of jeans Oscar had tried on and showed them, Ramsay showed up. He had come to the mall to get some new running shoes and Oscar had messaged him to join them. He didn’t seem pleased about it, but then again he never seemed pleased about anything.

“I think I like these jeans best,” Alison the Salesgirl was saying when Ramsay joined them, waving a hand at Oscar’s butt. “They really showcase his ass. You know what I mean.”

She literally nudged Bear, winking yet again. She wandered off a few minutes later because someone else had come into the store and needed help. If they needed help picking out jeans to make their asses look good, they were in luck.

“Did you hear that?” Oscar hissed to Ramsay, gesturing at Alison’s retreating back. “What was that?”

“Why does she keep talking to me about Oscar’s ass?” Bear added, looking up at Ramsay, though it wasn’t a very great distance. Even sitting down, Bear was enormously tall.

“Because she one hundred per cent thinks you’re a gay couple,” Ramsay answered immediately.

“Oh God,” Bear remarked. “I thought she was hitting on us.”

“Embarrassing,” Ramsay retorted.

“For me or her?” Bear checked.

“Both,” Ramsay answered.

“All things considered, you could do a lot worse than me,” Oscar cut in thoughtfully. “Actually, you have done a lot worse than me. Remember Ashley? She was annoying as hell and her bone structure wasn’t nearly as nice as mine.”

“Well, you’re very confident, I’ll give you that,” Bear conceded.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ramsay asked Oscar, one eyebrow raised.

“My face is symmetrical,” Oscar shrugged. “It’s remarkable.”

Bear peered at Oscar’s face for a moment.

“Huh, it is actually pretty symmetrical,” he told Ramsay.

“See?” Oscar said triumphantly, gesturing to Bear.

“You two belong together,” Ramsay rolled his eyes.

In the end, none of them walked away with Alison the Salesgirl’s number. Considering that she had spent most of the time they’d been together under the assumption that Bear and Oscar were in a relationship, it seemed highly unlikely that she was romantically interested in either of them. As Ramsay pointed out, it was a tough spot to come back from, no matter how symmetrical one’s face was.


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