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Need A Little Sweetness (In My Life)

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Leon doesn’t hate his job.

Like, objectively, it’s not the best job in the world. It’s not like he’s doing something meaningful, like saving people’s lives as a doctor, and it’s not like he’s doing something really cool, like playing in the NHL.

But it pays the bills and usually it’s not terribly awful, either. He just has to make coffee for hungover college students while they skip class and pretend their tuition money wouldn’t have been used just as wisely if they simply had lit it on fire.

And Leon is good at not judging, so it works out, most the time. He even gets to work with some not-super-annoying colleagues.

There’s one thing, though, just one thing, that gets on Leon’s nerves so badly he gets the urge to spit in a person’s coffee.

“Hi,” the guy in front of the counter says, a half smile that feels more like a smirk and enough curls on his head to mop the floor with. “Can I have a caramel frappuchino, light ice, with soy milk, two pumps of mocha drizzle instead of caramel drizzle, and a shot of espresso? Oh, also, a chocolate muffin.”

That’s a ridiculous order, and there’s no way Leon is making that. In fact, he’d rather quit right then and there.

“I’m not making that because that’s insane,” Leon deadpans, and he puts on his best unamused face. He’s been told many times that his unamused face could make even the bravest of men run for the hills. Connor certainly does, anyway.

This guy seems unimpressed. If anything, the smirk gets a bit wider, like he’s elated that Leon is calling him out on this.

“You can’t just say no,” the guy says. “You work here.” He says it in a curious way, like he can’t quite believe it. Neither can Leon, to be fair.

“And I get paid minimum wage.” Leon raises an eyebrow. “You can stand here as long as you like. I’m not making a drink that ridiculous. I’d rather get fired.”

The guy seems to think about that. Then, suddenly, his face lights up.

“Davo!”

Now that’s a surprise: apparently this insane, rude, awful human being knows Connor. When Leon turns around, Connor doesn’t even seem upset to see him, which. If this guy always orders coffees like this, he should be banned in every coffee shop in the city. Maybe even the country. Connor should certainly not be happy to see him.

“Chucky.” Connor smiles pleasantly, like this guy’s presence is not ruining his entire day the way it has Leon’s. “What are you doing here?”

“Visiting Brady.” The guy turns to Leon. “My name’s actually Matthew, but you can call me Matty. Not Chucky.”

“I really don’t care,” Leon tells him truthfully, and the guy cackles with laughter.

God, even his laugh is annoying.

“Leon,” Connor scolds, his disappointed face on. “That’s not how we talk to customers.”

“He won’t make me my drink,” Matty – the snitch – says to Connor.

“On account of it should be illegal to order something that stupid,” Leon grumbles.

Now Connor looks genuinely horrified. But then again, Connor once looked genuinely horrified because some dude didn’t hold open the door for an elderly lady, even though the elderly lady was at least 10 whole seconds away from getting anywhere near the door. In fact, Leon didn’t think she had even wanted to go through the door in the first place.

“I’ll make it,” Connor says quickly, jumping towards the machine. “What’d you order?”

“A caramel frappuchino, light ice, with soy milk, two pumps of mocha drizzle instead of caramel drizzle, and a shot of espresso.”

“Don’t forget your muffin,” Leon adds in the most deadpan voice he can muster.

Matty still seems delighted that Leon remembered.

Sue him, he’s been trained too well to forget these things.

While Connor starts to make the drink, which will surely take him something stupid like an hour at least, Matty turns to Leon. His eyes fix on Leon’s name tag, for a bit, before flicking up to his face.

“So, Leon, what’s your deal? Why are you against delicious drinks?”

Leon takes a good look around the café, to see if there’s anyone, anyone at all, he can go help with literally anything, but it’s empty.

Fuck.

“It’s rude to ask someone to make something so complicated,” is what he decides to answer. It’s vague enough that hopefully Matty will take the hint and go bother someone else.

No dice.

“I thought baristas were proud of their craft.” Matty wiggles his eyebrows. It looks dumb. “Show off your skills, and stuff.”

Leon huffs. “It’s not a craft, it’s a way to pay the bills, and I already told you I get paid minimum wage. I’m not slaving over something that’s gonna give you diabetes for minimum wage.”

Matty’s face lights up. “Ah, so you care about my health!”

Not at all what Leon had meant to imply.

He rolls his eyes, takes a step back from the counter. If Connor could just hurry the fuck up, that’d be great. He wants to go back to staring at the wall until it’s time for him to clock out and go the fuck home, and he wants to do it without this obnoxious guy staring at him as if he’s like, a cat with three legs or something; kinda interesting, kinda weird, kinda intriguing.

“I’ve got your order done,” Connor says, at that time, the drink appearing in front of Matty on the counter.

“See,” Matty says, eyes fixed on Leon. “That didn’t take too long, did it?”

Leon says nothing, because he feels like anything he wants to say right now would earn him a stern talking to from Connor, and he tries to avoid those.

Matty grins. “Well, I’ll come back. One day I’ll get you to make me one.”

“The day I make you one is the day I spit in it,” Leon snides, before he can think better of it. Connor’s foot connects with his calf hard enough that Leon yelps.

Matty just laughs.

“You’re hot enough that that’s not really the threat you seem to think it is, Leon.”

Leon is still sputtering when the door closes behind Matty and Connor’s voice goes: “Okay, we need to have a talk about customer service.”

 

--

 

The next time Matty comes into the coffee shop, it’s actually busy, which means Leon has even less patience to deal with his bullshit.

This time, there’s another guy with him, that seems vaguely familiar to Leon.

“Hey, Leon,” Matty grins, as if they’re long lost friends.

Leon scowls. “What can I get for you?”

It seems to be the question Matty had been hoping for, because his grin widens. It looks too big for his face. He looks stupid.

“I want,” Matty says dramatically, pausing, “a cascara latte, with 5 shots of espresso, 3 pumps of caramel syrup and one vanilla pump, no cascara topping but a pump of cascara syrup, no foam, extra hot.” He grins. “And Brady will have a chai latte.”

Brady, for his part, looks mostly like he couldn’t care less, which is a mood Leon can relate to.

Leon crosses his arms. “I’ll make the chai.”

Matty looks a little too overjoyed at the prospect of fighting Leon on this, but the thing is, there’s actually a line, and Leon can’t be dealing with this right now.

“Klef,” he calls to the back, “can you come out here for a second?”

Klef, who’d been restocking, comes out of the back, looking at Leon with a frown. “What’s up?”

“You need to make a choice: either you make this guy’s order, or I kick him out and Connor gets mad.”

At the mention of Connor, Klef’s eyes widen. “Can’t risk the wrath of Davo. I’ll make it. What is it?”

Matty dutifully repeats his order. Klef, to his credit, doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

He’s been working here longer than Leon. Maybe he’s seen idiots like this before.

“You know,” Matty says, leaning onto the counter, “it’s very hurtful to me that you won’t work with me, here. I even altered my order for you. Normally I ask for two pumps of peppermint and some cinnamon powder, too.”

Leon very deliberately doesn’t look at Matty. Instead, he focuses on the other guy, Brady.

“Want some cinnamon powder on that chai?”

Brady nods, a slight grin crossing his face that makes him look a little like Matty, somehow. “Yeah, thanks, man.”

Matty dramatically clutches his chest. “Ouch. My own brother, Leon, really?”

Ah. That explains the similarity.

Leon slides the chai towards Brady with a smile. “Here you go, have a good day,” he says, customer service voice on. He looks at Brady only when he says it, and it’s not an accident.

Maybe he’s a little petty. Whatever.

 

--

 

“You know,” Matty says, which is a dumb phrase to start most of his sentences with, considering the fact that he says things Leon doesn’t know and also doesn’t get, “I’m starting to think maybe you just can’t make my orders.”

He’s just ordered a double decaf cold brew, light ice, with coconut milk, non-fat cream and chocolate syrup.

It’s a little tame, for Matty. Leon still pulled Connor out of his lunch break to go make it.

At this point, it’s a matter of pride.

“That won’t work on me,” Leon says. He’s doodling on one of the paper coffee sleeves, drawing little hockey sticks. “You can’t bait me into making it.”

“I can usually bait anyone into anything,” Matty grins. He cranes his neck to look over the counter. “Hey, what are you drawing?”

Leon doesn’t answer, but Matty seems undeterred by that. He usually does.

“Oh, hockey sticks! I love hockey, dude. What’s your team?”

Leon answers this time, only because he’s seen Matty wear a Flames hoodie.

“Oilers.”

Matty cackles. He sounds a little like a hyena, when he does. “Figures. Your team sucks.”

Leon raises an eyebrow. “You suck.”

“Good comeback.”

Connor hands Matty his drink, but he’s not leaving. Instead, he leans against the counter.

“So, you play?”

Leon lets his eyes travel around the café, but once again, there’s no customers there. And he can’t keep Connor away from his lunch just to make small talk with Matty. He sighs.

“Used to. Not anymore.”

“Injury?” Matty says it a little too understanding, and it gets Leon’s hackles up, for some reason.

“None of your business.” It comes out too sharp, and for the first time since Matty started bothering Leon, he actually looks bummed out by Leon snapping at him.

“Sorry,” he mumbles. When Leon doesn’t respond immediately, he sighs. Repeats: “Sorry.” And hurries out the shop.

And like, Leon doesn’t like that guy. Should be happy he’s gone, really.

So why does he feel like shit?

 

--

 

Their campus isn’t small, but it’s not that big either, so Leon shouldn’t be surprised when he runs into Matty at a frat party.

Matty would be at a frat party. Leon wouldn’t even be surprised if he’s a member of the frat.

“Leon!” Two strong arms are wrapped around Leon’s waist before he fully understands what’s happening or who is latching onto him. “What are you doing here, bro? You’ve never been to my house before!”

Right, his house. So he totally is in the frat.

Only then does Leon realize he shouldn’t be standing here with Matty Tkachuk hugging him like koala, so he shakes him off and takes a step back.

Matty’s cheeks are flushed and his curls are a mess, like someone has been raking their hands through it. He looks like he literally just stopped having sex or something.

Fuck. Why does that make something feel stupidly twisted in Leon’s stomach? He doesn’t even like Matty.

Matty is staring at Leon with wide eyes and that’s when Leon realizes he got asked a question.

“I’m here with Connor,” he says, carefully.

“Right, cause Connor is with Stromer and Marns,” Matty nods, understanding. “Or, just Stromer, now, probably, because Marns is hooking up with Matts, I think.”

Leon doesn’t know who Matts is and he doesn’t care that Connor’s squirly frat friend is hooking up with him, either.

He hasn’t even seen Connor much, that night. Right after he came in he found Nursey and Klef and Larss, and Connor only ever stares dopily into space when he’s around Dylan Strome, so. Leon figured he wouldn’t be missed.

“Want a beer?” Matty asks, already grabbing two out of the fridge. “Hey, I need a beerpong partner. Come with me.”

“What? No,” Leon protests. Matty grabs his wrist and starts pulling him through the crowd, and like.

Leon is a big guy. Bigger than Matty, for sure. He could just pull away if he wanted to. He doesn’t, for some reason.

“Guys, I found a new partner!” Matty hoots, when they reach the beerpong table. There’s a lot of cheers and fuck, now Leon really can’t just leave, because it would create a whole scene and he’s not that much of an asshole.

So, they play beerpong. Leon isn’t very good, but Matty is great, and they win a few rounds before finally losing to some guy they keep calling Hanny - although his name seems to be Noah - and Leon is feeling a little more than tipsy when they finally step away from the table.

“Dude,” Matty says, his face beaming, “we make such a good team.”

“We really don’t,” Leon mumbles. But he doesn’t shake Matty’s hand off his wrist.

“You’re so boring.” Matty sounds rueful when he says it, like Leon’s personality is an immense disappointment to him. “It’s unfortunate that you’re so hot I kinda wanna make out with you all the time.”

Leon nearly chokes on the air he’s trying to inhale.

“Oh, right.” Matty grins. “Hadn’t told you that, yet. Told Connor, though.”

Clearly Connor is an asshole of a friend, if he hadn’t even relegated that information to Leon.

Not that he like, wants to make out with Matty. Or whatever.

“How do you even know Connor?” Leon asks, and Matty’s eyes widen comically. Maybe because it’s the first time Leon has actually asked him a serious question, but, there’s no time like the present and Leon is a little drunk.

“He’s in my art class,” Matty says. “I’m an art student.”

Somehow, that makes a lot of sense for his general personality.

“Why the hell is Connor taking art class?” Leon wonders out loud. His eyes automatically search the room for him, but he’s nowhere to be found.

“Cause Stromer is doing art,” Matty answers, like that makes all the sense in the world, and, well.

It kinda does.

“So can I ask you a question now?” Matty grins. “Technically you asked two, so.”

“We’re not playing twenty questions,” Leon grumbles, but he shrugs. “Fine. What?”

“Why do you really not wanna make my drinks?”

That’s an easy question. Leon was expecting something harder.

“It’s really not some deep personal trauma or something, dude. It’s just. People are always fucking expecting baristas to conjure up these insanely crazy complicated drinks for them, and I really do get paid minimum wage. It’s not my passion to make people coffee. There’s no way your weird concoction tastes any better than a regular caramel macchiato, so. I’m not gonna let you make my life unreasonably difficult.”

Matty stares at him for long enough that Leon is starting to feel uncomfortable, shuffle on his feet.

“That actually makes a little sense,” Matty admits, “and now I kinda feel like an asshole.”

“You are an asshole,” Leon reacts, but there’s not much heat behind it. The party is still going on around him and the background noises of chatter and music is starting to make him feel a little woozy.

That and the beers.

“I’m not doing it to be an asshole, though.” Matty shrugs. “It’s like. An experiment, you know? I’m just curious what happens when I throw these things together. If they taste great or disgusting. Can I invent something that’s even worse than Red Bull?”

“Probably not. Red Bull is really gross.”

Matty’s face lights up for no reason at all. It’s stupid. He looks stupid. Leon kinda wants to kiss him, maybe a little.

He thinks of how Matty said he wants to make out with him all the time. Maybe…

Tentatively, he takes a step closer. It’s an experiment as much as Matty’s drinks are. He wants to see how far he could push Matty. Now that he knows what Matty wants from him, it doesn’t seem cruel anymore.

Matty doesn’t step back. His eyes flicker from Leon’s eyes to his mouth and then he grins, wide and a little too understanding.

“What’s up, buttercup?” he says, which should very effectively kill the mood, except then Matty reaches out his hand and lets it rest against Leon’s chest, featherlight and careful. It feels like Leon’s whole chest is on fire.

“Drat!”

Connor has the worst timing in the world, and Leon is officially not friends with him anymore.

“Drat, I’m gonna go tell him.” Connor drapes himself over Leon’s shoulder and Matty has somehow put at least two feet between them in the split second it took Connor te appear. He’s trying very hard to look unaffected, but there’s a flush on his cheeks that wasn’t there before.

Fuck. Leon wants things he shouldn’t want, probably.

“Gonna tell who, what?” Leon asks, and he can’t hide that he sounds a bit snippy. Connor is too drunk to notice, probably; he’s slurring his words and his eyes are half closed, like he’s about to go to sleep on Leon’s shoulder.

Connor has never been so good with alcohol.

“I’m gonna tell Stromer that I love him,” Connor mumbles into Leon’s ear. He seems to think he’s being secretive, but he’s actually being kinda loud, and Matty snorts from where he’s standing.

Leon shoots Matty a look. Isn’t Strome his friend? Hell, isn’t Connor kinda his friend, too? Why does Leon have to take this one?

“Uhm, you sure that’s a good idea, bud?” he wonders out loud. “Nothing good ever starts on the back of a full pack of Bud Light.”

He ignores the fact that he was thinking about kissing Matty – also a bad idea – just a few seconds earlier.

“But I love him so much,” Connor actually whines. “And he doesn’t know, and that’s just awful, and…”

“He knows,” Matty says. He looks at Connor with a sympathetic smile. “He knows, Davo. Maybe talk to him about it tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay,” Connor says, which, rude. Hadn’t Leon said that exact same thing?

“Leon will take you home,” Matty offers, which is even more rude, but Connor is Leon’s friend, so it’s not like he was going to just let him sleep on the couch in a frat house.

“Yeah.” He sighs. “Let’s go home, buddy.”

He ignores the way he can feel Matty’s eyes burn in the back of his head when he pulls Connor through the crowd.

 

--

 

“Okay, how about this?” Matty is sitting at the counter, staring at his phone. There’s nobody in the shop but him and Leon, as it’s nearly midnight and Connor begged Leon to close that night so he could go on his first date with Dylan.

Leon never closes, on principle, but, well. He’s a good friend.

And then Matty showed up around 9pm, grinned: “Davo said you’re stuck here tonight” and sat at the counter and didn’t leave.

Leon hasn’t made him leave, either.

Matty even ordered a relatively normal drink – an iced vanilla latte with half and half milk and two pumps of caramel syrup – and Leon made it with minimal grumbling.

They’re evolving, he thinks.

“How about I get a cold brew… But with 8 sugars and 8 pumps of espresso.”

“You’d die.” Leon is rummaging through one of the fridges. “Which would actually solve most of my problems, so, you want that? I’ll make it for you.”

Matty cackles his ugly hyena laugh that Leon has grown annoyingly fond of.

“Okay, maybe not that one. How about I order a cold brew but with every type of milk available, all at the same time?”

Why can’t Leon find what he’s looking for?

“You’re lactose intolerant. You’d shit yourself, and I’ll have to kill you.”

Matty rolls his eyes. “What’s a little lactose intolerance when it’s for science, Leon?”

Ahh, there it is. What Leon had been looking for, hiding behind a row of oatmilks.

“If I give you this, will you shut up for two seconds?”

He places the cake in front of Matty, watches with a little too much amusement as Matty’s eyes widen.

“Is that carrot cake?”

“With lactose free milk.” Leon is maybe a little proud, of this one. “Klef made it and I stole you a piece in case you came by today.”

He looks up from the cake only to find Matty beaming back at him, and it’s… a little intense.

He thinks back to the frat party.

They haven’t gotten close to kissing again, but then they haven’t seen each other outside the coffee shop again. Leon doesn’t know Matty’s schedule, or what he does with his life, and quite frankly he’s too afraid to ask.

It’s just. Leon doesn’t do hookups. And Matty is intolerable, but he’s also really cute, and he’s charming and outgoing and – admittedly – really funny. And he’s in a frat. So Leon’s not holding his breath for relationship potential, there.

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me,” Matty breathes, and like, yeah, it is, but he doesn’t have to call Leon out like that.

He grumbles something like “shut up” and goes to clean the fridge, just so he can stick his head in there and wait for the flush to leave his cheeks.

 

--

 

“I’m not closing again.” Leon stalks into the coffee shop, slamming the door behind him and going straight up to Connor at the counter. Connor, to his credit, flushes, but although he’s shuffling on his feet and refusing to meet Leon’s eye, he’s not backing down.

“Leon, please. Stromer has a thing. Like, an art thing. His art is gonna be shown somewhere? He really wants me to be there and I promised…”

“You promised without checking with me?” Leon deadpans. “What if I had a hot date?”

“Matty is here,” Connor says, which, what the fuck, Connor, as if Leon had meant…

Wait, Matty is here?

He turns to find the familiar head of curls in the corner booth. He can’t see Matty’s face, because it’s flat on the table, Matty’s arms wrapped around his head as if he’s trying to hide inside his hoodie.

“Is he okay?” Leon finally asks. Connor shrugs.

“You could ask him and close while you’re at it?”

And it’s stupid, Connor is just using his little… thing, for Matty, to get Leon to stay here so he can go to his boyfriend’s art thing. And, fine, Leon was gonna cover for him anyway – Connor really doesn’t deserve a friend as good as Leon – but he doesn’t appreciate his emotions being played with like that.

However. Matty looks like he’s having a genuine crisis, and Leon hasn’t ever seen Matty not smile, so. He’s maybe a little worried. And maybe something that kinda resembles a protective surge of fire is lighting his stomach. Whatever.

“Go,” he tells Connor with a sigh. “But you’re opening tomorrow.”

“Anything.” Connor is beaming, and he quickly hugs Leon before throwing his apron off. “He hasn’t ordered, yet, by the way. So you’ll have to make his ridiculous drink. Or kick him out.” He seems serious when he adds: “I actually don’t care right now, I’m gonna go see Dyls.”

Leon whistles between his teeth. “Harsh, Davo.”

Connor blushes, but he doesn’t retract his statement as he runs out of the café.

Leon stares at Matty’s head. He’s not moved in the time since Leon came in. Maybe he’s dead.

Then he has an idea.

He kinda hates himself for it, but before he can talk himself out of it, he decides to do it anyway. After all, his aversion against ridiculous drinks are based on unfairly high expectations of underpaid baristas, but that’s not really what this is.

This is cheering up someone he kinda likes, although he’s not sure if he’s ready to admit that to himself.

 

--

 

Matty hears a loud clunk and then something kicks against his feet. He momentarily considers not looking up, but he knows it’s Leon because it sounded like Leon walking up, and if he doesn’t look up he’s forced to think about the fact that he apparently now recognizes Leon’s footsteps.

So he looks up.

In front of him is a venti cup with a drink he definitely didn’t order.

“It’s, a, uh,” Leon stammers. He looks at his hands, then sighs, reluctantly, as if the air is being pulled out of him. “It’s a vanilla bean cream frappuchino, heavy cream, half soy milk, half lactaid milk, with light ice and light water, honey, caramel drizzle, coconut flakes, greek yoghurt, matcha powder, extra foam, banana and strawberry syrup, raw sugar, agave syrup, and blueberry topping.”

Matty feels like someone just tore his heart out and stomped on it.

“You made that for me?”

“Well, I certainly didn’t make it for me.” Leon looks a bit wry when he smiles. “You looked like you might need it.” 

Matty does, oh God, he does. He’s had an awful day, no, awful week, and he has been ready to cry since he walked into this place, and now…

“Are you tearing up?” Leon sounds panicked. “God, Matt, I didn’t think... It’s probably awful, but…”

“Yeah,” Matty brings out. He tries to smile, but it probably doesn’t work, cause Leon doesn’t look any less horrified. “It’s gonna be so bad, dude.”

He takes a sip. It tastes like a sewer, or how Matty would imagine a sewer to taste. No, it’s worse. It tastes like if sewer water got into a used shoe of a person with foot fungus and stood there for a week. That’s how bad it is.

“I’ve never tasted anything more awful,” he says, and then he starts laughing.

It’s a little hysterical, but it’s better than the alternative, which is breaking out into ugly sobs. Leon is looking at him like he’s grown a second head, but at least he doesn’t look ready to bolt anymore, so Matty will take that.

“You like me,” he brings out, in between giggles. “You made me a disgusting, insane coffee order. You like me!”

Leon looks vaguely uncomfortable by that, however, he sits up a little straighter and looks at Matty down his nose.

“And?”

And! God, Leon is so fucking stupid. Matty is so gone for him it’s ridiculous.

He lets his head fall back down onto the table hard enough to make a sound. It hurts, but that’s fine, most things Matty does hurt in some way or another. Like falling head over heels in love the very first time you see a hot barista who obviously hates your guts.

That doesn’t hurt so much anymore, right now.

“Wanna, eh, talk about it?” Leon tries, a little awkwardly. “Not… that. But what’s wrong with you?”

“Many, many things,” Matty croons. “Ask my therapist.”

“Hey.” Leon’s hand appears on Matty’s forearm, a little too tightly to be completely friendly. Somehow, it grounds Matty, like that’s exactly what he needed.

Somehow, it feels like Leon knew that.

“Stromer got the art exhibit that I honestly thought I was going to get. And my dad just gave me another two hour speech about how art is not a career path, and I’m gonna end up broke and unhappy, having thrown my life away. In his mind, I was already not gonna have babies, cause I’m hella gay, and now I’m not gonna have a career, just because I didn’t get the first exhibit that rolled around. So I’m a major disappointment to my family, because I’m not good at the only thing I thought I was good at.”

He looks up. Leon is looking at him with a frown, but for once, he doesn’t look murderous - like he’s debating between sucking Matty’s dick or dismembering his body and throwing it in a river.

He looks… Like he feels sorry for Matty. That’s so much worse.

“Stop,” he grumbles. “I don’t need your pity, I have enough self pity to last a lifetime.”

“I’m not pitying you,” Leon says. His voice sounds loud in the empty café, and Matty flinches. Leon either doesn’t see it, or doesn’t care. For some reason, Matty kinda likes that: he doesn’t want to be held by silken gloves, right now. He needs someone to tell him like it is.

“We’ve all got our shit,” Leon continues, shrugging. “I was going to be an NHL player until I busted my knee and never got to play again. My dad’s a hockey coach. Me being in the NHL had been his dream since he found out mom was pregnant with me.”

“Sucks,” Matty says, because it does.

“Yeah.” Leon tugs at Matty’s arm, sharply. “And so does your thing. But you gotta get over it, Matt. It’s not the end of the world. You’re a great artist, and one day you’ll show your dad that it was worth it.”

Matty frowns. “How would you know if I was a great artist?”

Leon smiles. It’s a genuine smile, one that Matty never really sees from him. Maybe that’s the smile Connor had meant, when he’d admitted, one drunken evening: “Drat has a nice smile. Not like Stromer’s, though”.  

Matty had never gotten it, because Leon didn’t smile. Not at him. But now he is, and it’s kinda a lot, to have all that attention fixed on him. Leon is maybe a little like the sun, and Matty feels if he looks too long he’ll get burned.

Then, Leon produces a coffee cup sleeve. On it is a drawing: the Oilers logo. Matty hates the Oilers, but Leon likes them, so.

Then another sleeve. This one has a cathedral on it. He’d googled Cologne, because that’s where Leon’s from originally, and this has popped up.

The third sleeve makes all the blood drain from Matty’s face.

It has a portrait of Leon.

Portraits aren’t really Matty’s thing, so it’s not a great one. But still, it’s very clearly, undeniably Leon. Matty had drawn it when it was too busy to bother him, one day, and he’d just sat at a table and kinda waited, until it was quiet enough to go bother him again.

“Where’d you get those?” he brings out, and his voice is small.

“Klef pulls them out the trash when you leave.” Leon grins, amused. “I wish I was kidding.”

Fuck.

“Look, I won’t… If you don’t…” Matty stammers. He’s rarely lost for words, and he can tell it throws Leon. It’s just, what the hell is he supposed to say here?

“If you think it’s creepy, or whatever, I won’t draw them anymore.”

The smile slides off Leon’s face, and he frowns.

“Shut up,” he says, and okay, rude. Matty is just trying not to be a creeper, here. Leon pulls the sleeves back towards him, and very carefully pockets them. Maybe for blackmail.

“I like them,” Leon says, then, a stubborn expression on his face. “And I’m keeping them.”

Oh.

Oh.

 

--

 

Matty waits until midnight, when Leon is finally closing the café. The moment they’re outside and Leon is turning the key in the lock, Matty sways closer to him, presses his shoulder against Leon’s.

Leon doesn’t look up, but Matty sees something click in his jaw.

God, is he gonna have to do all the work, here?

“Leon,” he says, trying to make his voice portray that this is urgent and important.

“Matty,” Leon mimicks the tone.

Leon is such a fucking jerk. Matty kinda loves that about him. He’s not used to always having to push so much, but he really likes pushing, so.

It’s not strange, is the thing, that he fell for Leon so easily.

“Are you ever gonna kiss me?”

Matty enjoys the way Leon’s mouth goes slack as he turns around so fast his keys clatter to the floor. His eyes are wide and his pupils are blown, and Matty can’t wait to be kissed senseless by him.

He doesn’t have to, turns out. Leon grabs his hips and slams him against the door with enough force that the closed signs rattles against the glass. Matty lets out an “oof” noise, but that gets swallowed when Leon’s lips crash against his.

Leon kisses as intensly as he always looks at Matty, and it totally works for Matty. He clutches at Leon, at his shoulders and his chest, but Leon doesn’t budge, doesn’t even seem to notice. He’s sucking hickeys into Matt’s neck and Matty thinks if he died right there he’d probably be pretty happy.

But. Could be happier, still.

“Since this worked so well the last time,” he pants, and his voice sounds wrecked.

Leon doesn’t sound much better when he mumbles: “What?”

“Are you ever gonna fuck me?”

Leon groans, actually out loud groans, a deep growly sound that goes straight to Matty’s dick.

Then he’s being pulled away from the door.

“Where are we going?” he asks. “How far is your place?”

“Too far,” Leon grumbles, and Matty is inclined to agree with that. “Yours is closer.”

“Mine will also have like 10 of my fratbro’s in it,” he feels the need to say, and Leon freezes, than curses a waterfall of curse words that Matty thinks weren’t all English.

“Well, yeah,” he agrees. “So, yours, then?”

The walk is ten minutes, which feels like an eternity but could also give them both some space to clear their minds, think about what they’re doing. It would give them time to change their minds, but every time Matty looks at Leon, Leon looks quietly determined to power walk them to his house as fast as humanly possible, so he’s not too worried about that.

“Thank God you live alone,” Matty sighs, when Leon finally opens his front door, and then he’s being shoved inside and suddenly Leon is back on him, lips insistent on his own. His tongue is warm and heavy inside Matty’s mouth, and he wants this, but he wants more, and he wants everything that Leon wants to give him and…

Oh.

“Wait,” Matty mumbles, and Leon freezes right away, jumps back as if he’s been stung.

God, that guy is strung so tight. Matty is really gonna have to work on that, because he feels a little like he’s trying to wrangle a rabid dog, sometimes.

“This is not just… this, for me.” For someone who never shuts up, he’s not very good with words. “I thought you should know that… Yeah. I like you. So. Not just tonight, for me.”

Something softens in Leon’s expression and that’s when Matty realizes.

He was worried about that.

“You don’t want it to be just this, either,” he hazards a guess, and he feels overly smug when Leon doesn’t disagree. “You like me, too.”

“We’ve established that, yeah,” Leon deadpans, but Matty is starting to think that’s just how he shows affection, cause then he’s stepping into Matty’s space again, his hands coming to cover his hips.

Matty grins. “You like me.”

“You’re hot, sue me,” Leon grumbles against the skin of Matty’s neck, where he’s pressing kisses.

Matty should probably at one point actually return the favor, because he’s pretty much letting Leon do the work, but Leon seems fine with that and Matty sure is, and besides, he can’t chirp Leon if he’s kissing him.

“You like me and you think I’m hot. And you like my stupid coffee orders and my stupid coffee sleeve art. You like everything about me.”

He’s mostly teasing, and he keeps his voice light, but there’s something else beneath it. Some part of Matty actually can’t quite believe that Leon likes him.

“If I fuck you, will you shut up for a minute?” Leon asks.

Matty’s brain goes on static, for a second.

Leon nips at the skin over Matty’s collarbone. It hurts a little but that gets soothed immediately by Leon’s tongue, and it’ll leave a mark but Matty kinda likes that idea.

“I’ll probably shut up for a solid five, at least,” he says, once he’s got his voice back, and Leon’s laugh gets muffled by Matty’s hoodie where he’s pressed his face into it. It’s kinda cute – okay, really cute – and Matty can’t help but wrap his arms around Leon’s neck, pull him closer and press a kiss against Leon’s hair.

“Softie,” Leon mumbles, but he sounds fond, so.

Matty doesn’t care.

Leon does fuck him, then; his bed is massive but it feels small when Leon is hovering over him and boxing him in, his body heavy on top of Matty’s. It makes Matty feels protected and safe in a way he usually doesn’t, and if he bites at Leon’s pec just to make that heavy cloud of emotion in his brain disappear, well, Leon doesn’t have to know that.

But after Leon has made Matty see stars and, maybe even momentarily black out, he lets himself fall on top of Matty’s chest, lets his massive body cover Matty’s like a blanket, so Matty thinks maybe Leon kinda knows that, anyway.

“You need to clean us,” Matty mumbles, after a solid ten minutes of afterglow – that’s kinda Matty’s record, anyway, for keeping quiet after sex.

Leon groans, and Matty doesn’t know whether it’s because of what he’s saying or the fact that he’s talking in general.

“Dude,” he says, “I took the dick, you clean it up. That’s the rules.”

“Shut up,” Leon grumbles, but when he looks up at Matty he doesn’t look annoyed.

He looks. Happy. It’s a little too much for Matty to process, probably, and he stares at the ceiling while Leon gets a wash cloth, trying to get all the thoughts in his brain to calm down.

The thing is, Matty has a lot of thoughts, a lot of the time. It’s like, some kinda jumbled mess of nonsense in his brain, 24/7, and saying those thoughts out loud is usually the only way Matty knows of not letting them suffocate him.

Leon returns, carefully cleans most of the mess on Matty’s stomach, then chucks the wash cloth in the general direction of the bathroom and falls back into bed.

There’s so many things Matty wants to say, but. Leon probably deserves some quiet. And Matty kinda likes him too much to mess it up, already, especially when Leon went into this with the intention of it being more than a one night thing.

“Don’t be so quiet,” Leon mutters. He reaches out and tugs at Matty’s arm, until he lets himself be pulled against Leon’s chest. “It freaks me out.”

Matty hazards a smile. “I thought you wanted me to shut up.”

He means for it to come out as a chirp, but it lands too heavy, cuts through the serene air of the quiet night.

Leon pulls again, this time on Matty’s chin, to force him to look up at him. His eyes are searching for something, and Matty feels like he’s being cut open, all his insides out there for Leon to see.

“When I say shut up, I don’t actually mean shut up,” Leon says. He talks slowly, like he’s carefully selecting his words. “I mean it as a form of endearment.”   

Matty snorts. That’s… probably something his therapist would have an opinion on.

“I actually like listening to your voice.” Leon taps his finger against Matty’s chin, forcing him to come up a little more. “Besides, if I really wanted to shut you up, I know how to do that.”

Matty frowns. “How? I’m pretty sure no one knows how to shut me up, Leo, that’s kinda my thing. Not even my brother, and he’s been living with me his entire life, and…”

Leon reaches up and kisses him, deeply and dirty and so long Matty feels like he’s drowning in it.

And, okay. Maybe Leon has kinda figured him out, a little.

Matty thinks that’s a good thing.

 

--

 

((They wake up tangled together in the sheets, noises coming in through the open window off the street, where college students are making their way to class.

“Only suckers take 8am classes,” Matty groans, yawning around the words.

Leon can’t actually answer him, on account of he’s brushing his teeth, but he raises an eyebrow so judgmental Matty can almost hear his voice, anyway.

“I know, I know.” He rolls his eyes. “Some of us have real jobs, Matthew. I get it, okay. Just. Why does it have to be so early?”

Leon disappears into the bathroom, comes back out all ready to go while Matty is still dozing in and out of sleep. Leon is struggling to get his shoes on when Matty wakes up enough to realize he’s really going.

“No,” he whines. “Come back to bed.” He extends his arms, holds them out like an open invitation, and he wasn’t really expecting Leon to come back to bed but it still sucks that he can’t.

Leon, for all it’s worth, at least kisses him goodbye for a solid 5 minutes.

“I’ve gotta go,” he grumbles against Matty’s mouth, swats at Matty’s hand where it’s trying to reach underneath his shirt. “Matt, seriously. Stop. I’m gonna be so late and Connor is gonna be pissed.”

“Connor isn’t gonna be pissed, he totally got railed by Stromer last night. There’s no way he’s gonna be upset about anything.”

Leon raises an eyebrow. “You got railed last night, and just half an hour ago you were pissed I wouldn’t bring you coffee in bed.”

Matty sighs. “We’ve been over this, babe. What’s the point in dating a barista if you won’t bring me coffee in bed?”

“I’m kinda hot?” Leon offers, and that’s true, so Matty has no choice but to kiss him again.

Leon, eventually, does bring Matt coffee, then disappears out the door before Matty can kiss him again.

It’s black coffee, with nothing in it. I hate you he texts Leon.

You love me ;-) he gets back.

Leon is such, such a jerk.

And Matty really loves him.))