As they walk in, Nick leads twitchily. Matt moves in behind him, holding the door for the two girls to follow. Oke strides, Amy steps, Nick furtively takes in his new surroundings.
The waiter sees them enter, and moves toward them, abundant with greetings. Nick engages him, asking whether they choose their own table or wait to be led even as the waiter confirms reservations with Matt and then guides them over. Nick is visibly flustered by the redundancy of his enervated querying, and over compensates with well-natured cheer.
As they find their places, all maneuver into place, with Amy and Oke on one side of the table, and Matt and Nick on the other. These four eat together often, so there is no real dance of confusion over seats.
“Nick likes couples to face each other.” Amy says, mimicking and pre-empting Nick before he says it. Amy takes the seat with most open access, in case of the need to escape.
“Isn’t it a sweet thing to want?” Nick asks defensively. She smiles at him.
Nick visibly relaxes once situated.
“Restaurants are so weird,” he suggests, “I never know what you’re supposed to do in them. No two seem to do seating, ordering and paying exactly the same way.”
The other three nod, having heard him say this dozens of times. Nobody is unkind enough to point out that there are only two real possibilities in each of those three processes, giving eight potential variances, which isn’t all that weird.
Still, Nick visibly relaxes once the menus are in hand.
After the waiter comes and takes drink orders, the four discuss their options.
“So what are you guys having?” Nick asks.
“Well, what are you having?” Amy responds.
“That’s not fair. You know I get menu-blindness. It’s better if I know what others are having first.”
“You always order either steak…” Oke says.
“…or some sort of beef pie.” Matt finishes.
“True.” Nick says, and grins. “But I worry that someone else will get something more substantial. I get food envy, you know that.”
“I’m thinking about pasta.” Amy cuts in.
After their meals are ordered, the four firm friends settle into easy conversation. All are comfortable in each other’s company, and all are confident that food is on it’s way.
Matt’s meal arrives first, with everyone noting how nice it looks.
“Oh, that does look good.” says Nick, but only with approval, relieved and still comfortable with his own choice.
Oke and Nick’s plates arrive at the same time, and they each savour the look and meaty scent of their steak and ale pies and chips and gravy. They and Matt leave their cutlery in place in honour of Amy’s as yet absent meal.
“You don’t have to wait for me.” Amy says, but the three leave their food alone, except for subtle glances and sneaked chips. They know it’s a gamble – usually Amy’s food arrives a short while after theirs, but sometimes it takes ages.
This time it comes quickly. A glorious plate of pasta, rich Carbonara steaming in front of her.
Matt and Oke and Amy raise their forks.
“Shit.” Nick mutters, looking longingly at piled high spaghetti. He shakes it off, and starts prodding at his pie.
Later, Amy exchanges her two-thirds finished plate for Nick’s empty one. They make a joke about how it will look to the restaurant staff as if she is the greedy one, and he is the finicky eater. It’s a joke that never makes sense, because he always cleans her plate too.
Nick wonders aloud why they don’t do this more often. It’s nice.
Three of them decide on dessert, but Amy opts for scrounging spoonfuls from Nick’s bowl instead.