Allan waited patiently, as the man in the black suit finished speaking to an elderly lady who, by what Allan could gather, had misplaced her spectacles case the previous day in the restaurant.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Sir, how may I help?"
"Yeah," said Allan, "I was just wondering if it would be possible to get a bottle of champagne delivered to my table in about ten minutes?"
"Certainly, Sir, not a problem, do you have a choice in mind?"
"No, just whatever you think, so long as it's good."
"Leave it with me, Sir."
Allan, for the second time that evening, walked into the restaurant, his eyes fixing firmly on the young man sitting at his table and he walked quickly towards him and, as he neared the table, Carl looked up to see him and stood.
"Sorry, I'm late," said Allan, as he arrived at the table.
"No problem," was Carl's response.
They looked at each other for a few seconds until Allan extended his hand.
"Allan Hunter, a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Carl Mitchell. Likewise," replied the younger man accepting the offered hand.
"I thought this day was never going to happen," said Allan.
"Well, it did and, well, here we are," was Carl's response, a broad grin spreading across his face and Allan smiled.
Taking a deep and audible breath, Allan released Carl's hand the two of them took their seats at the table and Carl picked up his glass and took a long drink.
"So, how was your flight?" asked the younger man, replacing his glass on the table.
"A nightmare. The food was that pre-packaged rubbish, the in-flight movie was something I'd seen before and trying to get some sleep was practically an impossibility."
"You managed to get some sleep since?"
"A little, I turned in soon after I called you, thought I'd better get some sleep or you'd be talking to a zombie all evening."
Carl laughed and Allan smiled, pleased to notice that the laughter was genuine and not just polite.
"So, here we are. Finally getting to meet one another," said Allan.
"Yeah, seems kinda strange."
"For me, too. I wasn't even sure if you'd turn up."
"I said I would."
"I know, but I still has my fears."
"Well, when Carl Mitchell says he's gonna do something, he does it."
"And I'm happy you did. You found the hotel okay?"
"Yeah, no problem, the taxi driver knew where to go," the boy laughed.
"We must have had the same driver," laughed Allan in response.
A voice broke into their conversation.
"Excuse me, Sir, the champagne you ordered."
"Oh, thanks, just set it down here, it'll be fine."
"Yes, Sir. And when you are ready to eat one of the waiters will be happy to take your order."
The man in the black suit walked away.
"Champagne?" queried Carl.
"Well, I thought as this was a special occasion, we should celebrate in style."
"Wow! I've never had champagne before."
"Well," said Allan, pouring two glasses, "be careful of the bubbles, they tickle your nose."
Carl laughed: "Yeah, I heard that before."
"Well, it's true, but if you don't like it, I'll get you another beer."
Allan raised his glass.
"A toast. To computer viruses."
"Well, isn't that how you and I met?"
Carl laughed: "Yeah, but is kind if an odd toast."
"Well, you got anything better?"
"No, I guess not."
"In that case."
They toasted computer viruses and Carl felt the bubbles of the champagne tickle his nose as he took a sip from his glass.
"I guess it's an acquired taste, but I daresay I could get used to it."
Allan laughed, feeling completely relaxed in the company of this English boy and Carl smiled, comfortable in the company of his American friend.
"Say, you know what today is?"
"Apart from that?"
"Well, before I left America I was checking some stuff on my computer and, by force of habit because of my job, I log all conversations I get involved in with regard to possible computer viruses and your name came up."
"Yeah, it did and guess what!"
"I dunno, tell me."
"The first time we talked online was exactly one-year ago today."
"What? No way!"
"Wow! That's gotta be coincidence."
"Maybe. Who knows?"
"Man, that's amazing. For real?"
"Yeah, kinda took me by surprise, too."
"Well, I guess that makes today really special."
"I guess it does, but to be honest, any day meeting up with you would have been really special."
"Okay, I know that sounded corny."
"Yeah, it did, kind of."
"That's okay, I guess I'm still amazed that we're sitting here together."
"I know, me, too. Say, you hungry?"
"A little, but to be honest, I'm not sure I could eat too much, my stomach is still fluttering."
"I guess I'm just starting to relax and it kinda caught up with me."
"Well, we don't have to stay."
"No, It's okay, I'm sure once I get something to eat it'll pass."
"Cool. Then let's order."
They studied the menu and having made their choices, the waiter was summoned to take their order and before too long the two of them were eating heartily. Allan making up for the lack of nourishing food on the flight from the USA and Carl making sure his 'butterflies' didn't take him over completely.
Their conversation whilst waiting for their meals and throughout was relaxed and constant, ranging from Allan's new job and Carl's lack of one, to the differences between their two countries and, of course, recapping on a lot of the conversations they had had online and, more recently, over the telephone.
As they drank coffee and sipped champagne they were like two old friends, which, in a way they were, but like two old friends who had known each other socially for years, laughing and joking and feeling totally at ease.
"So, what do you think?"
"Well, our agreement was that we would meet for dinner, but if one or the other of us didn't, for whatever reason, like the other when we first met then that was an end of it."
"Well, I have to admit, I was nervous about tonight and I know what we said, but well, you're cool. I like you."
"Great. Because I sure as hell want to meet up with you again."
Carl broke into a grin and said: "Awesome!"
The food had all been eaten and the coffee and champagne had all been drunk and the two of them moved into the restaurant bar where they ordered beers and found a table at which to continue to get to know one another until eventually Allan looked at his watch.
"Hey, look at the time, I suppose I should call you a cab, or something."
"I guess it is getting late." and you need to get some rest after your flight."
"Well, I wasn't so much bothered about that as I was about you getting home."
"It's cool and besides, I'm having too much fun. But I guess you do need to sleep."
"I guess I do. I suppose I'm more tired than I thought I was."
"Better call that cab, then."
"I wish we'd had more time."
"Well, I don't have to go."
"What you gonna do, sit here and watch me fall asleep?"
"Well, watching you sleep was one thing I had in mind, but I wasn't planning on doing it in public."
"I'm trying to say that if it's okay with you, I'd like to stay with you tonight. I don't mean sex, or anything, but I think I'd like to wake up next to you tomorrow."
Allan didn't know what to say and just looked at the boy.
"Bad idea, huh?"
"What? No! I think it's a great idea, but I also think that maybe it's the drink talking."
"Maybe it is – partly. But for some strange reason, even before I had any champagne, from the moment you walked to the table, I knew that I never wanted to leave you."
"Now, I know it's the drink," Allan laughed.
"Half a bottle of champagne, three beers and a cup of coffee, I can understand that, but I'm being serious."
Allan could see by his face that Carl wasbeing serious and he smiled at his English friend.
"I mean, you absolutely positive?"
"Yeah, I am. Unless, of course, you don't feel the same."
"What? You kidding me? You're the most gorgeous person I ever met and I've been in love with you for as long as I can remember."
It was Carl's turn to smile.
"That's sorted then," he said, defiantly. "And tomorrow is Sunday I can take you sight-seeing."
"I'd like that."
"But I'd like go home first to change out of this suit."
"Well, okay, I guess I can live without you for a couple of hours."
"Not a chance, you're coming with me."
"Sure, you are. How else can I introduce my parents to my boyfriend?"
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