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from the dining table

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here’s one thing about leon: he is not a morning person.

 

everyone knows this. oleana and rose know this. his family knows this. majority of the public knows this. most of all, his friends know this, and yet insisted on an 8 am breakfast get together . leon can’t remember why he came here.

 

“someone’s grumpy ,” sonia sing-songs.

 

“shh, he’s almost asleep,” nessa says in a stage whisper. “he’s like a puppy.”

 

leon squints an eye open. “am not.”

 

“like a little yamper.”

 

“he’d probably fall asleep if i pet him.”

 

he would, but that’s besides the point. “frick you.”

 

“did the champion just curse?” sonia stage-gasps. leon is warm and the smells coming from sonia’s kitchen are amazing, and there’s no need to ruin the moment, so he ignores her.

 

“stop bothering him, he was literally in hoenn yesterday,” says someone near him. leon opens his eyes, and oh, he’s reminded of why he came here.

 

“rai, you woke him up,” nessa admonishes.

 

raihan clicks his tongue. “good. he needs to be up to eat my food.” his eyes slide down to meet leon’s and they crinkle happily. “wake up, dumbass,” he says, resting a hand on leon’s head. “i made your favorite!”

 

leon squints. “do i have a favorite?”

 

raihan snorts. “yes, you do. up,” he says with emphasis, and leon stands up and brushes himself off. 

 

as a group they move towards the dining table where raihan’s already set everything on the table like the angel he is. there’s omelettes and curry and fresh bread and fruits, and leon is abruptly reminded of how he hasn’t had anything to eat since 7 pm yesterday.

 

raihan settles into the seat next to him, easy and casual, as they begin to dig in. raihan’s cooking is always exceptional, but it’s especially good today when leon hasn’t had it in a while. he technically has a diet plan, but this is the one exception he’ll make.

 

“how was hoenn?” raihan asks, head tilted towards him. 

 

“great,” leon answers mechanically, then realizes this is raihan. he can say whatever he wants to say right now, can talk about every little thing he’d seen and bookmarked in his mind thinking raihan would like this. raihan would never care if he rambled for too long or talked too loud.

 

“pretty fun, actually,” he amends. “their kid champion has an actual diety - rayquad?”

 

“rayquaza,” raihan offers. 

 

“yeah, that. it was terrifying. kind of sick, actually! also terrifying. their fire gym leader has these hot springs - more like mud baths, i guess - and i fell asleep in one of them and a bunch of the locals got freaked out because they tried waking me up and they thought i was in a coma, or something.”

 

raihan puts a spoonful of curry in leon’s bowl, humming in acknowledgment. “did you see any altaria? they’re these dragons native to hoenn. they’re so pretty,” he sighs dreamily. he’s so cute . “i want one so bad.”

 

leon slurps up the curry. it’s leek curry, his favorite. “their flying gym leader - uh, winona - she has an altaria, and it just had babies, so she had all these little… swabbles-?”

 

“swablus,” raihan says, bemused.

 

“swablus! and they were, like, floating aroujd in the wind.”

 

“why didn’t you bring one back for me?” raihan pouts, squishing his lips outwards. leon looks away.

 

“that’s called stealing,” he laughs, eyes trying not to betray his thoughts. “i wish you’d seen them, though. dude, they were so pretty.”

 

“did you just call him dude?” nessa laughs from across the table. 

 

raihan grins handsomely, turning towards her. “jealous ‘cause the champion called me his dude?”

 

“i didn’t say mine.” leon snorts, debating on another pancake when raihan puts it in his plate for him. “oh, thank you.”

 

raihan’s eyes crinkle. “you’re welcome, champ.”

 

“rai, that sounded so gay,” sonia says.

 

“you’re gay,” leon replies. 

 

“so are you.”

 

“got ya there,” raihan snickers.

 

“eat your omelette,” leon grumbles to him. raihan laughs loudly in a way he’d never do in front of anyone else but them. affection squeezes leon’s heart so violently he has to gulp down a whole glass of water. (he’s whipped, isn’t he?)

 

when he’s done choking on nothing, raihan’s engaged in an argument with nessa about whether he should get a nose piercing or not. the image of raihan with a nose ring makes leon automatically reach for the water again.

 

“feeling thirsty, lee?” asks sonia conversationally.

 

he frowns at her. “i just swallowed wrong, nothing else.”

 

“there were so many bad jokes i could’ve made from that.”

 

“everyone is glad that you didn’t,” leon deadpans. next to him, raihan stretches upwards, hoodie riding up at the bottom of his torso. just the barest peek of his waist, and it’s gone. leon shovels two strawberries in his mouth.

 

“rai, the food was amazing,” nessa says when they’ve cleared off the table. sonia hums in agreement.

 

“i don’t know how you do it,” she sighs. “it’s literally always good. i don’t think you’ve ever made anything bad in your life.”

 

raihan’s cheeks redden prettily under his smile. “i’m glad you guys liked it.” then he pouts. “lee, you didn’t give me a compliment.”

 

leon doesn’t miss a beat. “rai, the food was so good. i feel like everytime i eat your cooking, it’s even better,” he sighs happily. “thanks.”

 

raihan visibly preens. “no problem! ness, thanks for letting me borrow your kitchen.”

 

“of course, dude,” she replies.

 

“did you just call him your dude?” leon asks. 

 

“oh my god -“










another thing about leon: he’s gay. 

 

not publicly (not yet, at least ) but it’s an established fact among his friends, family, colleagues. even oleana knows, though it probably means nothing to her. he’s not - obvious about it, but it’s as much a part of him as the title of the champion is. 

 

besides the whole being attracted to men thing, the gayest thing about leon - according to sonia’s expert opinion - is his love for brunch, though he has no idea what that has to do with anything.

 

it’s 12 pm and he’s covered in dust from a sandstorm and instead of showering it off, he sits across from his best friend in some old-timey diner in hammerlocke. it’s warm inside the building, warm enough that raihan felt the need to take off his hoodie and tie it around his waist instead. there’s a lot more skin on display than leon is used to and it’s messing with his basic motor functions.

 

“pancakes, yes or no?” raihan asks, squinting at the menu. 

 

“only if they’re chocolate chip.” leon prefers waffles, but raihan loves chocolate chip pancakes over any other food group. leon doesn’t know if he finds that more endearing or ridiculous, and decides it’s a bit of both.

 

“okay, i’ll get chocolate chip pancakes… do we want waffles?” raihan twirls his hair around his fingers. leon is sort of entirely entranced with the movement of his hands, the fall of his locs around his face. “yes, we want waffles,” he continues to himself. “and some berries. i’m kind of feeling curry.” he looks up at leon. “are we feeling curry?”

 

“sure,” leon replies easily, texting oleana that he’d be missing the meeting. “ready to order, babe?” 

 

leon’s met with silence. when raihan doesn’t respond, he looks up to see the collar of raihan’s shirt pulled up to his face. “rai?”

 

“nothing,” raihan says quickly. “i’m. yes. order. i’m ready to order.” he takes an audible inhale and drops the shirt. his cheeks are stained a pretty red that travels down his neck and leon wants to see how far down the blush goes.

 

god, that’s so gay. leon pings the bell at their table. they’re in a private room with a waiter to themselves, who comes rushing over.

 

leon lets raihan list off their order, propping his chin on his hands. the bright sunlight makes the entire room glow, raihan’s dark skin golden in its light. he doesn’t mean to stare, but he loses track of time following the dip of his collarbone, the line of his neck.

 

he snaps out of it just as raihan turns his face back towards him. “by the way, eid’s in like a month. mama wants you to come over for dinner.” he tilts his head. “think you can make it?”

 

“have i ever missed your eid dinners?” leon asks, grinning. 

 

raihan smiles back. “i’ll let them know! bruv, i’m so hungry.”

 

leon cringes. “rai, please don’t call me bruv.”  

 

“why not? you’re my bruv-“

 

“i’d rather release chaz then let you call me bruv ,” leon replies, and basks in raihan’s laugh.

 

“how’s my girl?” raihan asks. “we should have a play date. except with less kitchen fires than last time.”

 

in the stadium, their pokémon have no qualms battling each other, but get along surprisingly well outside of a battlefield. they’ve all known each for so long, grew up and evolved together during their gym challenge, that a bond was sort of inevitable. all of leon’s pokémon adore raihan, and he dotes on them right back. 

 

“to be fair, you know chaz gets all fired up when you give her that spicy curry,” leon says, grinning. “that was on you. you can’t spoil her like that.”

 

“i can, and i will,” raihan says primly. “it’s her favorite kind, i’m legally obligated to give it to her.” leon can practically feel his grin melting into a softer smile just for raihan.

 

“i’m your boss, i can legally un-obligate it,” leon points out.

 

“just because you have a sick ass charizard doesn’t make you my boss,” raihan retorts. 

 

“kinda does-“ raihan throws a napkin at him, and leon throws it right back. before it can escalate, their waiter places their food in front of them both, smiling nervously.

 

“anything else?” he asks politely. leon smiles at him winningly, as if he wasn’t caught halfway to a food fight against a respected gym leader.

 

“that’s it, thank you so much.” 

 

he turns slightly red, lingering a little longer before asking timidly, “could i have a picture with you? it’s not everyday you meet the strongest trainer in galar.”

 

“of course,” leon says smoothly. “rai-?”

 

“already gotchu,” he says, grinning. raihan holds up an unfamiliar phone as the man moves closer to leon. there’s a few snaps, and raihan hands the phone back to the waiter.

 

“thank you! s-so much,” he stutters, face entirely red. leon smiles at him.

 

“of course! thank you for the food,” he says genuinely. the man bows his head and moves away.

 

raihan is already working on leon’s waffles. “you’re such a panty dropper,” he says through a mouthful of food.

 

leon pushes their plates to the middle so they can share. “what’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“he was definitely into you,” raihan replies, cutting a waffle into pieces. “all blushy and shit.”

 

“well, i’m the champion.” that came off a little arrogant, but raihan just snorts and puts his fork to leon’s mouth. leon opens his mouth thoughtlessly and lets raihan feed him.

 

 (like they’re some honeymooning couple on a date, or something. his ears burn.)

 

“still,” raihan insists. “he was totally into you.” he takes a bit of a waffle, syrup clinging to his lips. leon shivers.

 

“i don’t even know his name,” leon huffs. he doesn’t mean to sound like an arrogant bastard, but he’s got quite a few people into him, considering his face is on 3/4s of the billboards in galar. he loves his fans, and can’t ever thank them enough for their support, but in the end, they’re just nameless faces with features he can barely recall at times. 

 

“he was pretty cute,” raihan says, voice not betraying anything.

 

leon frowns. to be honest, he can barely remember the man’s features - maybe pale skin, a little shorter than leon himself. he doesn’t even know why raihan is so stuck on this, but it’s fine if it’s raihan.

 

“not really my type,” is what leon decides on. he picks up a strawberry and presses it to raihan’s lips.

 

raihan doesn’t bite it immediately. his eyes meet leon’s, aqua blue contacts to leon’s hazel. “ ‘s that so?” he asks, voice quiet.

 

leon eyes the laugh lines along his best friend’s face, the slant of his cheekbones. “mhm,” he hums in affirmative, almost forgetting the topic at hand. the strawberry is still pressed to raihan’s lips, the bright red a sharp and delicious contrast to his dark skin.

 

“then what is your type?” raihan asks, voice low. without breaking eye contact, he dips his head and bites into the strawberry, red juice running down his lips. he hums and licks it off, tongue running slowly along his lips. 

 

leon can practically feel the way his pupils dilate. he’s stuck there, half-eaten strawberry in hand, gaze stuck to the curve of his mouth, the wet of his lips. he thinks he could live in this moment forever, in this too warm building with strawberry juice running down his fingers, raihan’s lips so pretty and so close to his.

 

“mm, these are good strawberries,” raihan hums, leaning back with a grin. leon breaks out of his reverie. “really sweet. you should have a bite, lee.”

 

leon opens his mouth. “uhm.” clever.

 

raihan’s grin grows incrementally and leon has no idea if he’s imagining the self-satisfaction on his face or not. “you didn’t answer my question.”

 

“what was your question?” leon asks. oh god, his voice sounds so dazed and breathless. 

 

raihan laughs lightly. “what’s your type, leon?” 

 

leon looks down at his hand, fingers still covered in strawberry juice. he reaches for a napkin and wipes it off. “i don’t have a type.” his hand still smells like fruit even after a thorough wipe, and he shivers.

 

“really?” raihan asks, stretching his arms behind him.

 

leon swallows and says, “yeah.”











a lesser known fact about leon - he doesn’t love easily, but loves wholly.

 

he thinks it’s maybe some sort of self-preservation thing from his too-fast and too-young rise to fame; he’ll give away his time, his energy, his body to the eyes of the public but he holds his loved ones suffocatingly close to him in unwavering, dead devotion.

 

hop texts him i miss u :( at 11 am and leon arrives in postwick at 2:30 pm, politely escorts his mother out of the kitchen and stays there for an hour. contrary to what sonia says, leon can cook relatively well, although that’s mostly raihan’s influence. 

 

“we should call rai,” hop suggests. 

 

leon is torn between wanting to spend alone time with his little brother and wanting to spend time with his two of his favorite people. hop makes the decision for him.

 

“you should come over,” hop says, phone between his ear and shoulder. “lee’s here and mom’s been complainin’ that she hasn’t seen you in a minute.”

 

there’s some chatter between the two that leon tunes out. he hasn’t been back to postwick for a while, and he takes the moment to look around and soak in his childhood home in all its painful familiarity. guilt gnaws at him for how long it’s been since he’s come home - the plants are flowering now, the welcome mat has been swapped out, did they get new plates? 

 

“lee, is the food ready?”

 

“mhm,” he hums, snapping out of the nostalgic haze. “help me carry it to the table.”

 

they set the table together, and their mom walks in from the garden to take a seat as well. there’s an empty seat next to hop. leon realizes he made leek curry after the fact - a childhood favorite of his.

 

“it’s actually good,” his mom says, teasing.

 

actually? you sound surprised,” leon grumbles, unable to do it convincingly. his mother smells like sunshine from when she’d been outside, and the smell of good food wafts throughout the house, and he’s sitting with some of his favorite people on the planet. afternoon light shines through the windows, giving everything a hazy golden glow. it’s been a while since he’s been this content, like something that’d been running circles in his stomach finally settles.

 

“how was hoenn? did you meet mr steven?” his mom asks. “he’s quite a dreamboat, i hear,” she sighs.

 

“hoenn was a lot of fun, but tiring. steven was the one to give me a tour,” he adds, electing to not mention that steven stone was a walking pride parade. “he’s nice.”

 

“did you see any cool pokémon?” hop badgers, pouring water for everyone. what a little angel, leon thinks.

 

“hoenn’s kid champion has this diety dragon pokémon! it’s some sky dragon called rai- ray-“

 

“rayquaza?” 

 

leon whirls around in pleasant surprise. hop’s face lights up as he bounds around the table to crash into raihan’s torso.

 

“hip-hop!” raihan crows, hugging him tight. affection squeezes leon’s chest so tight he has to look away, lest he stop breathing. he can feel his mother’s eyes burning holes into the side of his face.

 

“aunty,” raihan greets when he sets hop back down. he kisses her cheek and lets her dote on him and titter over him with minimal blushing and laughter. “i brought you these,” he says, pulling a bouquet of flowers from behind his back. 

 

“this is why you’re my favorite,” she laughs, kissing his cheek as she fills a vase with water. “raihan, you’ve lost weight since i last saw you. you’re always losing weight during that gym challenge, as if you aren’t skinny enough. leon, you need to make sure this boy’s eating,” she tells him firmly, placing the vase of raihan’s flowers on the table.

 

“yes ma’am,” leon snorts. raihan wraps his arms around leon’s neck in a warm half-hug before he takes the empty seat next to hop, just as his mom sits down next to leon. her eyes dig into him but he ignores it as best as he can.

 

“i hope i’m not intruding,” raihan says sheepishly. 

 

“of course not,” leon’s mom says immediately, laying her hand on his. “you’re my favorite son.”

 

“never mind rai, you’re uninvited,” hop huffs. “get out.”

 

“stop acting like that’s a surprise, we already knew that,” leon says flatly. 

 

“flatter me some more,” raihan says primly, batting his eyelashes at leon. leon wants to smack him but with love, or something.

 

“you’re practically family, beta ,” she says affectionately, pouring raihan some curry. she adds in a much sterner voice, “i want to see you finish all of that. there better not be a single drop left.”

 

raihan laughs lightly. “the food smells so good and i’m so hungry, you don’t have to worry about me finishing it.” he takes a sip and makes an appreciative sound. “aunty, it’s so good! did you add something to it?”

 

“leon made it,” she responds. 

 

“lee, it’s so good,” raihan praises, not missing a beat. 

 

“thank you.” leon smiles at him across the table. raihan grins back at him and then turns to hop since talking to

him is probably more interesting than leon making lovesick faces at him. raihan looks like he - belongs here, arms draped around hop’s chair as he teases leon’s mother. 

 

his mother’s favorite words echo in the back of his mind: food is love, darling. leon watches raihan take another spoonful of the curry he made and thinks she has a point.

 

“tone it down,” his mom hisses. 

 

“i can’t,” leon huffs petulantly. she cuffs his head as she stands up.

 

“stop being so obvious and come help me with dishes.” he’s tempted to roll his eyes, but even at 19 he doesn’t dare. he dutifully picks up their empty plates and moves towards the kitchen, leaving hop and raihan still eating.

 

“so when are you gonna pull the trigger?” she asks conversationally as they scrub the dishes.

 

“pardon?” 

 

“you know, tell the boy you’re head over heels for him,” she says. leon would normally be worried about eavesdropping, but raihan is too polite for that kind of stuff. he’s an angel, really.

 

“leon,” she says seriously. he sighs and turns towards her.

 

“yes, ma.”

 

“he is the perfect son-in-law,” she says dreamily. “he brought flowers. if you won’t bag him, i will.”

 

“oh my god, stop,” he begs as she laughs. 

 

“i mean it, lee.” she dries the last dish and places it to the side, wiping her hands off on a towel. “you’ll never find a man as perfect as him.”

 

leon looks over at the dining table, where raihan is playing some game with hop, and knows that he’s the one . the thought is simultaneously brand new and familiar, reassuring and terrifying. 

 

he swallows and looks back at his mother, his own eyes glaring back at him.  “i know.”











here’s one thing very few people know about leon - he’s known and loved.

 

everyone knows him, really, but he’s only really known by some people. by one person, really. by his best friend who pressed their foreheads together in the locker room when they were fourteen. leon was two minutes from fighting the champion and one minute from an anxiety attack and told leon that he was more than enough and would always be more than enough no matter the outcome of the battle. you’re incredible, raihan had said, brown eyes so close to his own. you have everything you need within you. show it to the world.

 

five years later, leon revises that statement. he owes much of his success to himself - his own willpower and determination and sacrifices - but everything he needs isn’t just within him. it’s always been beside him, a shoulder pressed to his own at a breakfast table, sitting across from him in his childhood home next to his little brother.

 

(raihan is everything he needs. how terrifying.)

 

leon knocks at the door of the qadir household. the baby dragon pokémon are tumbling around in the front yard, a yamper herding them towards the back. raihan’s childhood home was as much a home for his family as well as the dragons they raised and gave to trainers, and despite raihan’s absence, his mothers kept the business running.

 

 there’s a yell, then footsteps and after a moment, raihan’s mama opens the door. “leon! eid mubarak! oh, it’s been so long,” she coos, ushering him inside. “did you lose weight? they have you running around too much, wallah.” 

 

clothed in a gorgeous yellow dress and black hijab, raihan’s mama is breathtakingly, obviously gorgeous in the exact same way raihan is. he’s a practical photocopy of his biological mother, unlike leon. they have the same dark skin, wide smile, sharp nose. she’s easily one of the most beautiful women he knows.

 

she pulls him close in an affectionate hug, even though she’s half a foot shorter than him, his chin resting on top of her hijab. “eid mubarak, aunty! i brought some dessert,” he adds, almost forgetting. 

 

“this is why you’re my favorite,” adds a voice from behind them. leon laughs, turning around to greet raihan’s amma.

 

she hugs him, smiling widely. although raihan looks nothing like his amma, there's a lot about them that’s still uncannily similar - their eye crinkling smiles and loud laughs, the way they put their hand on their hip when they’re sassing someone. 

 

the house smells wonderful, like fresh food and the jasmine that grows by the kitchen window. leon sets the desserts on the kitchen table. he’s been here enough times to know to take off his shoes at the front and wash his hands before touching anything. everything here is comfortingly familiar and leon basks in it.

 

the two women move about the kitchen busily, so leon moves to help. “lee, no,” his mama says. “you’re a guest. go sit down.”

 

“i think i’m way past being a guest here,” he laughs, taking the knife from her. she lets him dice the onions and peppers. upbeat music plays from somewhere leon can’t find.

 

“oh, leon, how was hoenn?” asks his amma. 

 

he pours the peppers into a steaming bowl of curry. “aunty, it was honestly so much fun. really tiring, though.”

 

his mama titters. “they work you too hard. i’m this close-“ she holds her fingers together closely- “to calling up that tulip man and telling him to give you a break,” she huffs.

 

“his name is rose,” amma corrects, snorting. “she has a point though,” she says to leon pointedly. “you’ve lost weight. still as handsome as ever, obviously-“ she winks at him - “but still.”

 

“you two worry too much,” leon laughs. “such mother hens. my mom said the exact same thing to raihan.”

 

“well, it’s a mother’s instinct.” his mama pinches his cheeks, and leon smiles. 

 

“oh, did you meet mr stone? i’ve heard he’s quite gorgeous,” amma says dreamily. his mama pinches her. “i’m joking, you know i love you.”

 

“i did meet him,” leon responds, electing not to reply to the second half.

 

“is he as pretty as they say?” she presses.

 

“ah, well-“ he feels his face flush, ears burning. “he’s attractive.”

 

“he’s gay, too, isn’t he?” she asks pointedly. 

 

“now you’re just teasing me,” he whines, and they both burst into laughter.

 

“a little,” she admits, grinning that familiar, eye crinkling smile.

 

“is he single?” his mama asks.

 

“aunty, not you too!” he groans.

 

“come on, i’d like to know about your love life,” she says teasingly, pushing at his shoulder.

 

“well, he’s not my type.” he turns down the stove when the curry begins to bubble.

 

“oh?” they say together. the two women glance at each other, having a whole conversation with their eyes.

 

leon never really saw that in his own house. he grew up with no one but his mother, his grandma, and his little brother. he never missed out on any vital childhood experiences - his mother made sure of it - but he never got to see all the coupley stuff parents are supposed to do. at least, not until he met raihan’s moms, who give affection easily and talk without words.

 

raihan’s amma smiles suddenly and the other woman sighs, apparently done with their silent interaction. his amma’s smile is sharp towards leon and he’s once again struck by how similar her and raihan’s mannerisms are.

 

“so, leon, what is your type?” 

 

leon abruptly remembers the same words on raihan’s lips, strawberry juice dripping down his fingers. a shiver goes down his spine. “i don’t have a type,“ he replies.

 

“so you’re not picky?” she presses. 

 

aunty!” 

 

from the corner of his eye, he can see someone stumbling down the stairs. “rai, your moms are bullying me,” he whines.

 

“please stop bullying him,” raihan says, kissing them both on their cheeks.

 

“we’re just picking on you,” his mama laughs, pinching leon’s cheek affectionately. “very different.”

 

leon pouts. raihan moves over to hug him, and leon gladly wraps his arms around the other man. raihan had probably just gotten out of the shower, skin warm and slightly flushed with the heat. his locs are down and he isn’t wearing contacts and leon is a lovesick idiot .

 

“you look good,” raihan says, smiling. “thank you for coming.”

 

“wouldn’t miss it for the world,” leon chokes out, barely able to string together a coherent sentence when raihan’s eyes are crinkling so prettily.

 

“why don’t we eat?” raihan’s amma suggests, sounding like she’s trying her hardest not to laugh. oh god, is leon that obvious? “rai, set the table please.”

 

“we’ve got it,” leon hurries, snatching the mats from raihan’s hands. 

 

“got somewhere to be, mate?” laughs raihan as he pours water for everyone.

 

“i’ve got your mama’s curry to eat,” leon responds, setting the bowls down. 

 

“you basically made it,” his mama says as they each take a seat; leon and raihan on one side, raihan’s moms across from them. to raihan, she says, “he practically wrestled the knife from me and forced me to go take a break! such a good kid.”

 

“a very good man,” raihan’s amma says loudly and pointedly. it’s like they’ve forgotten leon is here.

 

“oh-“

 

“a perfect man, if there ever was one,” she continues just as loud, glaring at raihan. “and single.”

 

“anyone would be lucky to have him as a son,” his mama adds. they’re now having a very loud, one sided conversation with raihan, whose face is entirely red. 

 

“you might as well adopt leon instead,” raihan laughs nervously. leon is definitely missing something here. 

 

“um-“

 

“we’d love to have him as a son,” she continues, “but it’d be better if he was our son in l-“

 

“alright!” raihan says loudly, clapping his hands. “that’s it, that’s it. we all love leon, how great, how about we eat?”

 

at this point, they’ve most definitely forgotten about leon’s actual presence. raihan glares at his moms and they glare right back at him, having some very intense silent conversation. 

 

“flatter me some more,” leon says primly, and the weird tension breaks. raihan shoves him lightly and his mothers laugh, his amma laying her hand on leon’s.

 

“we’re just teasing,” she says lightly, juxtaposed to the sternness from earlier. “let’s eat before the food cools.”

 

she spoons curry into everyone’s bowls as the sun sets fully. the bright orange light that’d been shining into the dining area fades to a lovely dark blue. there’s a small thump against the door and leon looks up to see an axew campering away.

 

“so noisy, these new axew,” his mama complains. “ours are usually never this rowdy.”

 

leon decides not to mention the axew they’d given him for his fourteenth birthday had once woken up an entire neighborhood. raihan side-eyes him, likely remembering the same exact thing.

 

“love, the curry is so good,” his amma says to her wife.

 

she blushes but waves it off. “leon practically made it. because he’s a good man,” she adds emphatically, looking at raihan. 

 

what is up with the compliments today? before the situation can snowball again, leon laughs, “i’m glad you like it!” 

 

she smiles at him. “your cooking’s gotten better,” she comments. 

 

“there was no way it could’ve gotten worse,” raihan snarks, and yelps when leon kicks him. “i’m kidding!”

 

“no you aren’t,” he grumbles, looking over at raihan, and immensely glad he did when raihan laughs.

 

“no i’m not.” he leans back against the chair, casually throwing an arm around leon’s. leon is torn between wanting to lean back into it and wanting to save his dignity in front of raihan’s mothers.



the rest of the dinner goes by the same, without any of that tension. his moms bring out the dessert leon had brought and feed each other. leon leans back into raihan’s arm, grinning.

 

“hey,” he says quietly, looking at raihan.

 

raihan looks over, smiling. “hey.”

 

leon thinks about how easy it’d be to press his hand against raihan’s jaw and kiss him, long and sweet. instead, he says like he always does, “thank you for inviting me.”

 

raihan’s smile softens and he says like he always does, “thank you for coming.”

 

leon hesitates. across the table, raihan’s amma tangles her fingers with her wife’s and kisses her knuckles. “i love it here,” he says softly. 

 

raihan’s arm around his shoulders tenses just the slightest. “i’m glad,” he whispers. raihan’s always lovely, but when leon is close enough to taste his breath, he’s gorgeous. “you’re always welcome here.”

 

raihan’s hand twitches from where it rests on his own lap. leon thinks about you have everything you need within you and reaches down and presses their hands together, all palm to palm and intertwined fingers. he can feel raihan’s pulse speed up from their wrists pressed together and has never been more sure of anything in his life.

 

“i know,” he says.











raihan sits on leon’s kitchen counter, all long legs and dark skin. leon is supposed to be making tea, but it’s difficult when raihan’s shorts are ever so slowly riding up his thigh as the night goes on.

 

“and he kept asking for it! like, i beat you twice already, kid,” complains raihan. “i told him that he can’t just have the badge without beating me, but he was like i gave my best effort! that’s not how it works,” he huffs.

 

leon snorts. “that’s a me type thing to do,” he comments.

 

“that was literally what i was just thinking.” raihan laughs lightly, playing with the strings of his hoodie. “mm, i’m kinda tired.”

 

leon scrunches his nose, pouring the tea into two mugs. honey for him, sugar and milk for raihan. “i’d be weirded out if you weren’t tired. you and your morning bird ass.”

 

“i think it’s early bird,” raihan says idly. leon offers him the mug wordlessly. “ah, thank you.” 

 

“move to my room?” leon offers. “we can watch something.” he grabs a pack of cookies that go well with this brand of tea. 

 

“sounds good.” raihan jumps off the counter, shorts falling back down his thighs. leon laments the loss.

 

raihan peers in to his mug as they make their way to leon’s bedroom. “and you made it how i like it! you’re my favorite,” he sighs. he smiles at leon, tired but lovely.

 

raihan past 10 pm is sleepy and affectionate, easy to give love and less likely to filter himself. at 12 am, he’s pressed against leon’s side with his head tucked against leon’s neck as they walk. he’s warm and smells good and leon loves him.

 

by this point, the boundaries of their friendship are so blurred they’re practically nonexistent. raihan settles his legs on top of leon’s when they settle down on the bed, toes cold and looking for warmth. leon lets him scroll through netflix as he opens the packet of cookies and offers it to raihan. 

 

“you’re my favorite,” he says, opening his mouth. leon feeds him the cookie and watches him lick away the crumbs with probably too much focus. “oh, we’re gonna get crumbs on your bed.”

 

leon shrugs. raihan laughs quietly, voice subdued. 

 

“oh! they put the last airbender on netflix,” raihan says. he looks over at leon. “sounds good?”

 

“sure, but only if we start from when zuko joins them.” the room is a bit too warm for leon’s taste, but he lets it be since raihan runs much colder than he does. plus, he’s too comfortable to move from his spot.

 

“when toph joins them,” raihan compromises. leon wants to argue but raihan is sleepy and affectionate and in his bed so he nods.

 

it really is starting to get warm in here. halfway through the second episode, leon pulls away to tie his hair up before the back of his neck begins to sweat. he finishes off the loose bun and settles back down against raihan. raihan stares at him.

 

he hums in questioning. raihan takes a sip of tea, ducking his head, then says carefully, “you look good with your hair tied up.”

 

“oh.” compliments from raihan are frequent but still genuine, and leon’s face heats up. “thank you.”

 

“did i make the champion shy?” raihan teases, and leon flusters even more.

 

“stop that,” he groans as raihan giggles. when the laughs subside, he tucks in closer to leon’s side. their feet tangle together and they’re so close leon can’t tell if the heartbeat in his chest is his or raihan’s. 

 

raihan sighs, then rests his head on leon’s shoulder. leon takes a sip of his tea and settles his arm around raihan’s shoulders, tucking him closer. everything feels perfectly right - the too warm bedroom, the sound of the tv playing, raihan’s breath against his neck. leon finds himself in love with the world, in love with this moment, in love with his best friend tucked into his neck like they’re lovers.

 

“hey,” leon says quietly.

 

raihan presses his chin to leon’s collarbone and looks up at him, eyes bright. “hey.”

 

leon inhales, watching raihan’s eyelashes flutter. he thinks about yes you do and then what is your type? and you’ll never find a man as perfect as him and you’re always welcome here. he thinks about the way raihan’s skin glows in the afternoon light and the way his laughter softens at 12 am and says, “i’m in love with you.”

 

raihan’s smile grows, eyes crinkling in that way leon adores so much. this time, he reaches over to slot their fingers together and press their pulses together, nothing but the thin skin of their wrists separating their heartbeats.

 

“i’m in love with you too,” raihan murmurs, pressing their faces closer. leon grins, laughing just the slightest bit.

 

“i think i kind of already knew that,” he admits, and revels in the feeling of raihan’s laughter so close to his lips.

 

“i was sort of obvious,” raihan confesses, playing with leon’s hand. “and my moms. oh my god, is that how you figured it out?”

 

“is that what dinner was about?” oh my god, it makes sense. it’s almost exactly how leon’s mom had been talking about raihan. he wonders if they’d been talking. “i was so confused.”

 

“that’s ‘cause you’re dense,” raihan laughs, and leon loves him so, so much. “oh, and brunch. the strawberry! i was so obvious, lee, it was practically an invitation on a silver platter!”

 

“at least i said something,” leon says indignantly. “exactly how long were you planning to just wait for me to make the first move?”

 

raihan flushes red. “i - okay, fine, it’s not like i had an actual plan,” he admits, and pinches leon when he snickers. “but it was gonna be soon! my moms kept bugging me about it. ‘rai, just tell him already, i need to start planning the wedding!’” he says in a crappy imitation of his amma. 

 

“that was literally my mom,” leon snorts. “the day you came over she cornered me in the kitchen and told me i’d never find anyone as perfect as you.” leon flushes just a bit, but doesn’t take it back - there’s no need to.

 

raihan’s breath catches. “and?”

 

“and what?”

 

he swallows. leon can see the movement of his throat. “is she right?” he asks quietly. 

 

leon looks down at his best friend, the love of his life. “yeah,” he answers truthfully.

 

raihan inhales and leon can feel it against his lips. “please let me kiss you,” he says quietly.

 

god, how could leon say no?

 

in answer, he moves his hand from raihan’s neck to his jaw and gentles his face closer. raihan lets out a sigh, tilts his head, and presses their lips together.

 

in that moment, leon knows he’ll never be able to love someone else like this. not when he has raihan so close to him, tasting like his too-sweet tea and smelling like the laundry detergent leon used to wash his bedsheets. he wonders if it’ll ever stop feeling like this, like he wants to live and die breathing raihan.

 

leon just can’t get enough. he means to leave it at one first kiss, but raihan wraps his arms around leon’s neck and doesn’t let go. leon kisses at his bottom lip and raihan’s mouth falls open for him, and that’s as much an invitation as any, right? he cups raihan’s hipbone and is almost breathless with how perfect it feels, with how natural it feels to hold raihan like this and kiss him senseless. leon wants so much, and after so long spent wanting, it’s hard not to be greedy when he can finally take.

 

“oh,” raihan says, breathless. leon pulls back the slightest bit to ask if he’s alright and is speechless.

 

leon is a talker; he’s very much extroverted and after so long in the public eye, he can talk his way out of a lion’s cage. after kissing raihan once, he forgets language.

 

raihan’s skin is flushed and his brown eyes are blown and lidded. leon’s eyes drag down to his mouth - and fuck, is all he can think. a shiver runs down his spine. “oh,” leon murmurs.

 

“left you speechless?” raihan asks teasingly, but it comes off breathless and lovesick. 

 

“a bit,” leon admits. he cups raihan’s chin and thumbs his lower lip and watches his mouth fall open in an o shape. he’s tempted to press his fingers against his sharp canines, but that’s on a different road than the one they’re traveling down tonight. later, he thinks.

 

“i love you,” raihan says again, leon’s thumb against his mouth. “i think…” he trails off, averting his eyes. leon lets him find the words he needs to, knowing he eventually will. “no - i know,” he says firmly. he looks back up at leon.

 

“you’re the one for me,” he tells leon, eyes crinkled. “i know we’re too young to get married but - but one day.”

 

leon’s breath catches and holds, affection taking the place of oxygen in his airways. “me too,” he croaks out. “i’m - you’re it for me. i’ll marry you, one day.”

 

raihan laughs, still a little breathless and a little relieved. he presses his forehead against leon’s. “i’m gonna marry the shit out of you,” he says determinedly. leon is running out of words to describe the all encompassing feeling that fills him whenever raihan looks at him. “i’ll be the best husband ever, on god.”

 

“uno reverse card, bitch,” leon says. raihan laughs. “but husband’s a bit far off. how about you focus on being the best boyfriend ever?” he asks, half teasing and half serious.

 

raihan plays with the stray strands of hair that’d fallen out of leon’s messy bun. “for now,” he concedes. “until i propose to you.”

 

“not unless i propose to you,” leon counters, because they are rivals after all.

 

raihan levels him with a glare that’s all fond exasperation and no heat. “don’t start. we can’t fight about this right after you asked me out.”

 

“alright, chill,” leon laughs. raihan tugs at his hair. 

 

“can i stay over tonight?” he asks.

 

“of course.” 

 

after some shuffling around and debating about whether to turn the tv off or not, they lay down under the covers. raihan looks like he’s fighting tooth and nail to stay awake.

 

leon runs a hand across the permanent crinkles by raihan’s eyes. “go to sleep, babe,” he says.

 

“you called me babe,” raihan says, opening his eyes.

 

leon frowns. “did i?”

 

“you didn’t even notice?”

 

he shrugs. “i guess not. it just slips out.”

 

“you called me babe at brunch, too,” raihan adds. “also a slip up?”

 

leon huffs. “i guess?”

 

“aw, lee,” he coos, “you were already calling me babe before we were even official.” leon rolls his eyes and presses his hand to the small of raihan’s back to press him closer. 

 

“i mean…” he starts, trailing off. raihan waits like the angel he is. “it’s not like anything has changed, has it?”

 

raihan hums in a way that says keep going. leon does. “we’ve always been like this. i’ve always been in love with you.”

 

“and i’ve always been head over ass for you,” raihan murmurs, half asleep. he peeks up at leon, bemused.

“but you’re right. just feels natural, don’t it?”

 

leon smiles. “yeah.”

 

raihan yawns, shifting closer to leon. “hey,” he says to him, voice even softer.

 

“hey,” he says back.

 

raihan smiles softly. “let’s go for brunch tomorrow. as a date.”

 

leon smiles. “sounds perfect.”



(wanna know something that no one knows about leon?

 

leon is in love with his best friend.

 

and his best friend loves him too.)