Kevin Day had a problem. He had several, but right now it was the barista at the café around the corner from his house. He watched as they tucked a piece of dark hair behind their left ear and glared at him.
“Uh,” he said and licked his lips in a move possessed by madness.
They looked at him from behind the counter, one brow raised, pen poised over the cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk latte, judgment radiating in waves. “I said,” they enunciated each syllable clearly, as though Kevin didn’t understand, “What is your name?”
Kevin gawked in response. Again. “What do you mean?” he managed to croak out and watched the frown deepen. “I mean,” the barista replied, their tone now bordering on caustic, “What is your name?”
“Kevin,” he replied weakly, the feeling of his name rolling off his tongue so foreign and unusual that it made him wonder when the last time was that he had to introduce himself to someone.
“Someone’s full of themselves today,” he heard them mutter while ringing up his order and Kevin felt himself bristle. He opened his mouth to say something, but the words fizzled on his tongue the second his gaze met theirs. He couldn’t remember the last time someone annoyed and fascinated him so much. And he had spoken to this person for all of two minutes, out of which one had been a back-and-forth over his name.
“Well, what’s yours?” he challenged, and immediately felt foolish. Asking for someone’s name was transactional, not a challenge. The barista gestured at their apron. Aidan the tag read, and beneath it was a they/them pin followed by a rainbow pin and Kevin filed the information away to examine it later.
“Aidan,” he said, testing the name on his tongue, liking the way it rolled off it. He grinned. Aidan looked back at him, bemused.
“Are you supposed to be famous or something?” they said, sliding his cup toward him. Kevin’s grin dipped slightly, “Or something,” he agreed, and watched them roll their eyes. He was definitely coming back to this place. He picked the cup and slid the money across the counter, noticing multiple silver rings on Aidan’s fingers. The low, yellow lights glinted off them, attractive in a way he had never considered before.
“Should I know you?” they asked, now doubtful and Kevin’s lips gave another involuntary twitch. “Why don’t you guess?” he said and watched their eyes narrow.
“See you tomorrow, Aidan,” Kevin raised his cup and watched Aidan tuck another errant strand of hair behind their ear. He stepped out, letting the door shut behind him and looked at the cup. Scrawled in black in all caps were the letters “bighead”. Kevin couldn’t help it. He laughed.
The next day, Kevin ran out coffee.
“This is so predictable,” came Neil’s voice through the phone even as Kevin found himself standing outside the glass doors of the coffee shop.
“It’s not,” he replied hotly and heard Neil snicker in response.
“Did you even go home after practice?” Neil taunted and Kevin frowned at his murky reflection.
“Yes, Neil,” he snapped, “That’s how I knew I’d run out of coffee.”
“I don’t like your tone,” Kevin said, now peering through the doors. He saw Aidan hunched over the counter, their shoulder-length hair falling over their face in a glossy black curtain. There were two customers, both wrapped around each other on a couch. Kevin hurriedly looked away.
“Creep,” Neil said, his tone a little fond and Kevin immediately protested, “I’m not being creepy.”
“Fine,” Neil murmured. And then, “Andrew says order a caramel frappuccino with chocolate.”
“Fuck off Andrew,” Kevin grinned and then added, “I got something with vanilla yesterday though.”
There was a scuffle and then Andrew’s voice came crackling through the speakers, “Liar.”
“No, really. Although it was with unsweetened almond milk.”
Andrew said “blech” and hung up on him. Kevin blinked at his phone. “Asshat,” he muttered, pushing open the door, causing the bell to jangle. Aidan looked up and Kevin automatically smiled at them, cursing himself when they only squinted at him suspiciously. It was more of a semi-grimace, but Kevin decided he wasn’t going to complain.
“It’s you,” they said, tying their hair up and Kevin looked away, worried at the way his neck seemed to be heating up. “Yeah. Um,” he cleared his throat and pretended to look at the menu on the chalkboard.
“So,” Aidan said. “Are you a model?”
Kevin promptly dropped his phone. It landed with a clatter onto the counter. “What?”
Aidan steepled his fingers and looked at Kevin thoughtfully. “Since we’re guessing who you are.”
“You think I’m a model?” Kevin fought not to smirk and failed abysmally.
Aidan rolled their eyes. “Don’t let it get to your head. It’s already big as is.”
Kevin laughed. He’d laughed twice as much in the past 24 hours as he had in the past year. “No,” he said. And then, “I’ll have a cold drip.”
Aidan looked at him doubtfully. “Sorry, didn’t think you liked coffee.”
Kevin shook his head, “I literally ordered a latte yesterday.”
“Yes, but,” Aidan shrugged, the movement making their hair swing slightly, “That was such a fake order. I mean, it was unsweetened vanilla almond milk plus a sprinkle of coffee.” Their nose wrinkled in distaste and Kevin was startled to find the gesture adorable. It wasn’t a word he was used to; he turned it over and over in his head, prodding at it until it felt worn and comfortable.
“So, are you?” they said, flicking through cups and pulling out a translucent blue one, filling it with coffee.
Kevin took the cup from Aidan’s hands, taking care not to brush against their fingers and shrugged, “I model sometimes, but I’m not a fulltime model.”
“I will figure you out, Kevin,” Aidan hummed, and Kevin hid a smile behind the cup. He turned it around to check what Aidan had written this time. “Show off?” he said incredulously, watching Aidan smirk.
“Yeah,” they nodded, “Oh look at me, I’m famous, I’m popular, how do you not know me?” and Kevin grinned at their antics. “So, not a model. Actor?”
Kevin scoffed, “If I were an actor, you’d have known me.”
Aidan looked unimpressed, “I meant like an extra, Kevin. Not the lead.”
Kevin gaped at them for a second and then balled up the bill and chucked it at Aidan, who deftly caught it and placed it in the space between them. Kevin found it absurdly hot. He took a sip of coffee to distract himself and hummed in pleasure. “I’m actually not supposed to drink coffee,” he admitted, sheepishly.
“Is it because of your advanced age?,” Aidan replied, hiding a cheeky grin. “Blood pressure? Hypertension?”
The absolute nerve, Kevin thought to himself, shooting them an unimpressed glare. “No, it’s,” he cleared his throat nervously, wondering how to tell Aidan about Exy and his practices and the kind of diets he had to stringently follow. He found he didn’t want to upset the delicate balance that stretched between them, all of two days old.
“It’s the hypertension,” he replied blandly and watched Aidan chuckle softly.
Kevin gripped the cup and hoisted himself onto a chair by the counter and leaned his elbows on it. “What about you?”
“What about me?” Aidan said, distractedly, clearing the counter.
“Um,” Kevin stumbled. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to ask. What do you like, what do you dislike, what’s on your mind right now?
“Are you a student?”
Aidan smiled at him, their lips pulling up on side. It was attractive as hell and Kevin’s stomach swooped in a low arc.
“How old do you think I am, Kevin?”
Kevin took a sip of the coffee and sighed, “I don’t know, 20?” He startled at the bark of a laugh that escaped Aidan.
“I’m flattered,” they grinned. “But no, I’m 26 and haven’t been a student in a good 4 years.”
Kevin tugged his ear in a self-conscious move and nodded. “So what do you do when you’re not here?”
Aidan hummed in response and looked at him. “I think I’ll tell you when I figure out who you are.”
“While you’re at it, would you let me know?”
Aidan was about to respond when someone poked their head through the back room that Kevin guessed was the kitchen or store room. “Aidan, hey I need-” They caught sight of Kevin and their eyes widened in recognition, and Kevin shook his head frantically in a split-second of panic and the person froze.
“Jonas?” Aidan prompted and Jonas’s gaze snapped to Aidan.
“Right. I have to take a call, can you cover for me a bit?”
“Sure,” Aidan nodded and glanced between Kevin and Jonas. “I can, you go on.”
Jonas glanced at Kevin again and disappeared into the room.
Kevin took another sip of coffee, trying not to let his relief show.
“So, Jonas recognised you.”
He choked on his coffee, “What? No.”
Aidan looked unimpressed. “I’m not stupid.”
Kevin buried his face in his hands. “Don’t worry,” he heard Aidan say. “I’ll find out who you are.”
Kevin said, “We need a deadline.”
Aidan’s eyebrows went up but they grinned. “Okay. One week from today?”
Seven days. Kevin had seven days of blissful, untarnished anonymity.
“Deal,” he said, clinking his cup against Aidan’s silver rings. Aidan’s shy smile seared through his chest, leaving behind blooming warmth.
“Are you shutting up?”
Aidan gaped at him. It had been three days since Kevin had seen them last, his well-intentioned plans to pop by the café eaten up by practices that ran late, by meetings that could have been emails. Kevin had despaired, and all but ran to the coffee shop that night.
“I mean, are you closing up?” he corrected himself, noticing Aidan’s red jeans and dark blue button up, the nosepin that glinted under the low lights over the counter, the black hair that framed their face, and looked away hurriedly, hoping the darkness wouldn’t expose the colour tingeing his cheeks.
Aidan laughed and Kevin felt warm. “Yes, I am. Why?”
“I could, uh,” he tugged at his ear lobe in a self-conscious gesture, “Drop you home?”
Aidan paused with a tray of empty drinks in the middle of the coffee shop. “You don’t have to do that.”
“But I want to,” Kevin murmured and watched the indecision on their face.
“I- okay,” they conceded and Kevin relaxed. “It’s just that, I’m here anyway.”
“I will pepper spray your pretty face if you try anything,” Aidan warned and Kevin first blushed and then blanched. “Of course not. Why would I do that?”
Aidan slid him an unimpressed glare, “Should I make you a tea? Or would you like-”
“It’s 11pm,” Aidan said and Kevin shrugged a so? at them. Aidan pursed their lips and picked out an espresso cup. Kevin hesitated, then pulled out the same seat he had chosen three days ago, gaze subtly taking in their expression under the low, yellow lights.
“Long day?” they said, giving him the cup and Kevin raised it to his lips, thankful. “Every day is a long day.” Aidan huffed a laugh and Kevin caught the glint of their earrings and the soft swish of the apron as they took it off and rucked up the sleeves of their shirt to the elbows.
“Kevin,” Aidan said leaning forward slightly, and Kevin was relieved for the barrier of the counter between them. “Yes,” he said. Every other word dissolved on the tip of his tongue.
“I have a theory.”
“You’re the bassist in some obscure indie band that no one really knows about, but has a cult following.”
There was a split second of shivering silence that hung between them and then Kevin burst into laughter. “A bassist?” he wheezed and Aidan hid themselves behind the espresso machine. “Yeah?”
“Why a bassist?” he said, gasping now, an arm around his middle, clutching at his side.
Aidan reappeared with a flat line in the place of his mouth and a frown, “Because, no offence Kevin, you don’t sound like a singer.”
Kevin laughed harder. “That’s such a backhanded insult.”
“Not an insult,” they tugged at their earrings and laughed self-consciously. Kevin rested his chin on his palm and gazed back, amused. “Was it not?” he said, and swore Aidan flushed, but they rolled their eyes at him.
“No.” and then, “So, not music?”
“Not music,” Kevin agreed and pushed off of his chair, leaning on the counter. They stared at each other, unsure and caught in the riptide of quiet that suddenly cocooned them. Then Aidan cleared their throat hurriedly and the mood dissipated.
“Uh,” they said, and Kevin jammed his hands into his pockets.
“Are you done here? Do you need any help?”
Aidan pointed him to a squashy couch and asked him to sit and went through the back door. Kevin stared at his hands and wondered what he was doing. He had a match in five days, he had to sit on early meetings at 9 in the morning the next day. He did not have time to sit on couches in coffee shops at 11pm, waiting for someone he wasn’t sure wanted him there. Kevin clasped his hands together and tucked them under his chin and brooded.
“Ready?” they said and Kevin looked up, catching the edge of a soft smile.
“You don’t mind me being here, do you?”
Aidan’s brows furrowed, “What?”
“I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable or anything,” he stumbled over his words, “I can leave if you want me to.”
Aidan hitched their bag over their shoulder and held out their hand – silver rings twinkling – to Kevin. “You know what you are?”
Kevin hesitated for a second and then took their hand in his and pulled himself up, “What?”
“Pretty stupid right now.”
Kevin struggled not to flush as their fingers entwined and Aidan pulled him gently outside. Kevin watched as they locked up and slid the keys into their bag. “Ready?”
“Ready,” Kevin nodded, and then, “Which way?”
Aidan began crossing the road in response and Kevin jogged to catch up with them. “Do you stay far? I could get my car, it’s-”
Aidan turned to look at him, half a grin in place, “Relax, Kevin. I like walking. Unless you don’t want to?”
“Walking is fine,” Kevin returned easily, falling into step with Aidan. Night fell soft around them, the quiet stretched between them – comfortable and easy. Aidan eventually broke it. “Where did you disappear to?”
Kevin felt himself flush slightly, “Did you miss me?” he teased and watched Aidan roll their eyes.
“It’s okay, you can tell me,” Kevin gently knocked his shoulder against theirs, feeling weirdly light-headed. Aidan tucked their head against their chest, hands in their pockets. “No,” they griped, but their tone betrayed them. “I didn’t have any pesky customers annoying me, it was calm and quiet.”
Kevin faked an affronted gasp and stepped in their way, forcing Aidan to come to a stop. Kevin had a couple of inches on Aidan, forcing them to tilt their head up in question.
“Do you like that then?” Kevin murmured.
“Peace,” Kevin said quietly, his gaze never leaving Aidan’s, “And quiet.”
Aidan’s gaze never left his, “I’m not sure anymore.” Kevin licked his lips, feeling more nervous than he’d felt ever before, feeling the back of his neck grow hot when he watched Aidan tracked the move.
“Uh,” he cleared his throat reluctantly, because it was nearing midnight and Kevin didn’t want keep Aidan standing in the middle of the road. Sidewalk, road, it was all the same to him; his world had narrowed down to the strip of land beneath their feet. “We should get going.”
Aidan took a hurried step back, “Yeah, uh. This way,” they walked swiftly ahead. Kevin tucked his hands into his jacket and ran to catch up. They didn’t speak again until Aidan reached a house tucked away from the main road.
“This is me,” they gestured behind them and Kevin nodded.
“Is someone waiting up for you?”
Aidan smirked at that, “Are you asking me if I’m single, Kevin?”
“N-No,” Kevin stuttered, grimaced and then amended that with a “Yes, maybe?”
“Subtle, aren’t you?”
“I’ve not really done this before,” Kevin shrugged.
“What, taken baristas home in the middle of the night?”
Kevin laughed and then hid his smile in his shoulder, “Liked someone, I guess.”
Aidan’s smile fell away. They contemplated Kevin with a quiet intensity and then said, “There’s no one waiting up for me.”
Kevin let out a quiet sigh of relief at that.
“Except for my cat maybe.”
“You have a cat? What’s their name?”
And Kevin laughed. Laughed as Aidan pretended to look annoyed, their lips twitching.
“That’s cute,” he said, “You’re cute.”
Aidan rolled their eyes again, “Thank you for dropping me home.”
Kevin reached out and held Aidan’s pinky finger in his hand, giving it a tug, “My pleasure, Aidan.”
He turned around with a wave, the sight of Aidan’s fond exasperation taking up space in his head.
“I’ve figured it out.”
Kevin frowned at his phone before shaking his head and glancing up at the person standing in front of him. The café was crowded on Sundays. It was a group of what Kevin guessed were teenagers. They were whispering excitedly among themselves, shooting covert glances at Kevin.
The line hadn’t moved in the 15 minutes since he had stepped inside. Aidan and Jonas were at the counter, looking harried. Aidan had shot him something that was simultaneously a shy smile and smirk at him, and Kevin had returned it automatically.
“Excuse me,” one of the teens broke away from the group and walked up to him. “Are you Kevin Day?”
Kevin cursed under his breath and flicked a glance at Aidan. They were behind the espresso machine now, and the café was way too crowded for them to have heard anyway. Kevin relaxed a fraction and looked at the teen, easily slipping into his public personality, “Yes.”
Within minutes, Kevin found himself surrounded by excited teenagers and had 4 phones pointed at him. He grit his teeth, but shook their hands politely, laughing along and thanking them, until he excused himself and slipped into the washroom. He braced his hands on either side of the sink and breathed in and out slowly.
“Are you okay?”
Kevin looked up to see Aidan in the doorway. Their brow was furrowed in concern. Kevin shook his head and shrugged at the same time. “I’m not good with crowds.”
Aidan stepped in fully and shut the door behind them. “What do you need?”
“Some space,” Kevin said and they took a hasty step back. He looked up at them through the mirror, “I meant,” he sighed, frustrated. “I meant I can’t deal with the crowds outside.”
Aidan only nodded in response, their brow still furrowed. Kevin splashed his face with water, used a couple of tissues to dry off and stepped closer to Aidan. “I came to see you anyway. I can come back tonight.”
Aidan shook their head, “I won’t be here tonight.”
“Oh,” Kevin felt disappointment slice through him, its intensity unsettling him a little.
“I mean, I only do a half shift on Sundays,” they hurriedly clarified. And then, “Come on out to the back.”
Kevin frowned, “I don’t want to get you into trouble.”
“You won’t. An eyeroll and then, “I’m sure.”
Kevin stepped closer and smoothed away Aidan’s frown with his fingertip and heard their breath hitch slightly. “Lead the way.”
In the span of 10 minutes there were four more groups and Kevin skirted them with relief and followed Aidan behind the counter and through the back door onto a small backyard. He breathed in deeply.
“Don’t be,” Aidan said, pushing him onto the topmost step. “Wait here.”
“What?” Kevin said but they were already gone.
They returned with a yellow cup this time, “Cold drip.” Kevin took it gratefully and took a couple of big sips. He turned the cup in his hands and laughed. “Famous bighead”? he swatted at Aidan’s shoulder and they deftly ducked, laughed.
“I couldn’t be mean to you, so I’m recycling insults today.”
Kevin smiled, “You can be mean to me anytime.”
Aidan muttered something like idiot and Kevin’s grin widened.
“So, you’re famous enough to be mobbed by teenagers then.”
Kevin stiffened and relaxed, shrugging in response, “I guess.”
“Modest too, hmmmmm,” Aidan mocked in response earning a glare from him that they laughed off. “I know.”
“You’re a writer.”
Kevin spluttered, “I’m a what?”
“One of those writers who have fantasy/sci-fi thriller books that are intense and incomprehensible, which for some reason are wildly popular with the kids.”
Kevin threw his head back and laughed. And laughed and laughed until Aidan huffed at him and refused to talk until coaxed them back with promises to not laugh at them again.
“You’re fucking cute, Aidan,” Kevin wheezed and Aidan harrumphed at him faux crossly. “And no, I’m not a writer.”
“Fine,” Aidan sighed. “I have time till Tuesday.”
“That’s two days,” Kevin helpfully reminded them and got a withering glare in response.
“I know, Kevin.”
Kevin only smiled at them. He felt light-headed when they returned it.
“Thank you,” he said, reaching out to hold their hand, filing away the sight of the flush on their cheeks for later.
“You’re a youtuber.”
Kevin spilled espresso on his t-shirt. It was 11pm on a Monday and he was seated on (his) seat at the counter while Aidan wiped down the espresso machine lovingly. Kevin had a sneaking suspicion they had coffee addiction worse than his.
“I am a lot of things, sweetheart,” Kevin drawled and earned a typical Aidan smirk in return, “but a youtuber is not one of them.”
Aidan hummed and leaned closer to Kevin, “You’re famous.”
Kevin rolled his eyes this time, “We’ve established that about five million times.”
“Is that your follower count?”
“Are you an influencer, Kevin?”
Kevin rested his chin on his palm and looked at Aidan contemplating some more, “Not even close. Although-”
“I’m famous enough to create trends though.”
“Yeah?” Aidan said, deadpan and Kevin laughed, “Hey, what can I say? Apparently I’m famous.”
“Ugh, I have to figure it out by tomorrow.”
“Or,” Kevin said.
“NO,” Aidan cut in, “I’ll find out myself.”
“Okay,” Kevin shrugged, downing the espresso to hide his happiness. He was aware everything could come crashing when Aidan eventually realized who he was.
What do you want? Andrew’s voice echoed in his head. What did he want? To hold Aidan’s hands in his and to drop them home, to be there when they got home, to kiss their nose and make them coffee in the mornings. Kevin wanted. Kevin wanted.
“Prat,” Aidan muttered and hoisted their bag across their shoulder.
“Write that on the cup.”
“Oh I will.”
“Is that a threat?”
Aidan looked up and snagged Kevin’s gaze, the light glinting off their nosepin, and grinned, “You bet your insured ass it is.”
“My ass is NOT insured thank you,” Kevin yelped and walked out.
“Shame,” he heard Aidan drawl from behind him and almost combusted on the spot.
It was Tuesday.
It was Tuesday.
Kevin paced outside the café, willing himself to go in. He’d either tell Aidan today or Aidan would guess it themselves – his name, his truth, who he was, who he is. He peered in but only saw Jonas manning the counter. The place was empty except for a few people rushing out to work and school.
Kevin breathed in and out and pushed the door. The bell jangled. Jonas looked up, recognition dawning on his face.
“Oh. Um hello?”
“Hey, Jonas,” Kevin said, pushing down his nerves, “Where’s Aidan?”
Jonas nodded, “They’ll be here soon. They’re getting something.” He narrowed his eyes at Kevin, “They don’t know, right?”
“Know what?” Kevin tugged at his ear. The room felt hot.
“That you’re Exy superstar Kevin Day.”
Kevin grimaced, “Won’t exactly say superstar.”
Jonas gawked. “Dude,” he said, “You’re a fucking dream alright? That match against Houston last month was-”
Kevin laughed, a little uncomfortable, “Er, thanks.”
Jonas assessed him, “You hate compliments, don’t you? And being in the spotlight.”
“True,” Kevin acknowledged that with a single nod.
“What about when you’re in front of the cameras? You seem so collected and composed.”
“That,” Kevin huffed, “Is a product of training. That is my press face.”
“And this?” Jonas gestured.
“This,” Kevin said, gripping the edge of the counter with his fingers, “Is still me.”
“Okay,” Jonas nodded, holding his hands up. “Okay, just. Treat Aidan well, they’re special, okay?”
For the first time that day, Kevin felt sure of his answer, “I will.”
Aidan picked that moment to come barrelling through the back door, their hair messy, clothes rumpled, spots of colour dancing high on their cheekbones. “Hello, Kevin,” they panted and Kevin looked concerned.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes,” they waved him off and gestured to Jonas that they’d take over.
“Water,” Kevin gently admonished, “Drink some water.”
“Water, “Aidan settled into the seat beside Kevin and wheezed, “What a concept.”
Kevin pulled a bottle of water from his bag and passed it on to them, who took tiny sips that Kevin tried not to classify as “cute”. “You’re staring,” they muttered and Kevin blushed abruptly. “Maybe,” he hedged.
“Um,” Aidan cleared their throat. “So, I have a couple of things to say.”
Kevin nodded and hovered a hand over theirs which they took hold of. Kevin tried not to wince at the grip. “Go on.”
“Well done, you know the days of the week now.”
“Sorry, I get extra sarcastic when I’m stressed.”
“You’re stressed?” Aidan’s voice rose in panic and Kevin squeezed their fingers gently, “Go on, Aidan.”
“It’s Tuesday and I still haven’t guessed correctly.”
Kevin rubbed his thumb over their knuckles in what he hoped was a soothing gesture. “That’s okay.”
“Shhh. Anyway, I didn’t want to google you because that wouldn’t be fair, and I honestly can’t come up with anything else.”
Aidan shushed Kevin again and continued, “You’re famous, yes. And probably popular enough that you can’t walk anywhere without getting mobbed.” Kevin rolled his eyes and Aidan smiled something shy that tugged at Kevin. “And maybe you don’t or won’t have the time, but-” they stopped and pulled their hands away, clasping them on their lap instead.
“I was wondering if you’d go on a date with me anyway?”
Kevin sucked in a breath, feeling like he got drop kicked into a dimension where all his wildest dreams were coming true. “What?”
Aidan blanched, “I mean, would you want to?”
Kevin looked at them, stunned and tried forming words. He had multiple scenarios for how this day would go, but in none of them had he factored Aidan asking him out on a date. “Me?”
“Kevin?” Aidan held his hand again, but tentatively, “What?”
“Are you sure?” Kevin said eventually, quietly. “You still don’t know who I am.”
Aidan scoffed, “You’re the guy who drinks espressos at 11pm, who hates crowds, who drops by at night just to walk me home, who likes cats named mozzarella, who listens when people talk, who seems to care about what I have to say.”
Kevin felt himself flush and opened his mouth but Aidan put a finger against his lips. Kevin wanted to kiss it.
“I don’t care, Kevin. I like you. I want to get to know you some more. And if you’re some stuffy influencer, at least I’ll get free stuff out of it.”
“First of all,” Kevin huffed, “I am NOT an influencer.”
“And second of all?” Aidan teased, a slow grin tugging at their lips.
“Second of all, “Kevin brought their hands to his lips and kissed each knuckle one by one, “Second of all, I say yes.”
Aidan looked surprised and then happy and then shy. They tugged their hands from Kevin’s grip and reached into their pocket, “Look I’m not really into sports and don’t know if you are.”
“Uh huh,” Kevin said weakly, “I don’t mind sports.”
“Oh good,” Aidan beamed, pulling out two tickets from their pocket, “Apparently there’s an Exy game on Thursday. Do you want to go?”
Kevin stared back at them, speechless.
“I- Um. I need a minute.”
“Sorry,” Aidan squinted at the tickets, “Jonas said these are good tickets. But we can do something else too.”
“Fucking Jonas,” Kevin muttered under his breath and then looked at Aidan, “You want to go to an Exy game? With me?”
“Yes,” Aidan nodded once. “That’s correct.”
“Okay,” Kevin said weakly. “Okay.”
Aidan’s smile was blinding, probably a side effect of shock, Kevin thought.
“Why are we talking on the phone when I can see you?”
Aidan was hauling their stuff into their bag and squinted through the glass, Kevin was leaning against a silver car, looking fidgety. And hot. “And who allowed you to wear a tank top?”
They heard Kevin’s short laugh through the phone and saw him crack a smile. Aidan grinned.
“I have something to tell you.”
“Er are you going to cancel?” Dread pooled in Aidan’s gut. They’d grown to like Kevin over the past week and really wanted it to work.
“No!” Kevin said through the phone. And then, “Why would you even think that?”
Aidan exhaled in relief, “I don’t know, Kev, you’re being shady as fuck right now.” They watched Kevin look at the café for a second, surprise at the nickname flitting over his features before a smile took over. Aidan desperately tried to push down the warmth they felt.
“So, this match we’re going to?”
“Do you know who’s playing today?”
“Er,” Aidan paused, “I should have done more research, right? I didn’t have time, sorry. I can-”
“Aidan, baby,” Kevin said, and Aidan flushed. “Mm?” they said in response, willing their heartbeat to slow down.
“The answer to who’s playing today is,” Kevin huffed, “Me.”
“Uh,” Aidan said. And then, “What?” And then, “I don’t understand.”
“I’m an Exy player, Aidan,” Kevin said, sauntering up to the glass wall of the café, looking straight at them. “My name is Kevin Day.”
Aidan only stared back in shock.
They watched Kevin’s face fall and that wouldn’t do, that wouldn’t do at all. “You’re famous,” they blurted and was rewarded with a Kevin laugh – low and happy.
“You could say that,” he said, smiling his crooked smile.
“You know, you’re like Jonas’s favourite player.”
Kevin rolled his eyes and Aidan grinned. They both looked at each other for a moment, then two. “So does this mean I’ll see you play today?”
“Yes,” Kevin nodded from outside, “Yes.”
Aidan frowned, “I’ll have to warn you that I don’t know a single thing about Exy.” And they watched Kevin’s grin stretch wider.
“I don’t care.”
Well, then. “Okay, Kevin Day, stop loitering, we’ve got a game to go to.”
Kevin sagged against the glass in relief. Silly idiot. “Were you worried?”
“I like you,” Aidan murmured.
“I like you too,” Kevin gripped his phone and turned in a slow circle. And then, “Can I kiss you, Aidan?”
Aidan slammed open the door in response and Kevin met them halfway. It was messy and hot and desperate, and Kevin tentatively placed his hands on their waist, “Is this okay?” he murmured into Aidan’s ear and they suppressed a shiver. “Yes, yes, it is.”
Twenty minutes and lot of hurried kissing later, Kevin was trying to take shortcuts to the stadium when he asked, “Aidan, you never told me what you do.”
“Oh that,” they muttered.
“What?” Kevin slid a glance across the console.
“I own the place,” they shrugged and Kevin almost hit the median. “What?!”
Aidan shrugged and smiled. Kevin looked on in wonder before a wicked smile replaced it.
“Does this mean I get espressos on the house?”
“No,” Aidan scoffed but bit down on their lower lip.
“Rude,” Kevin muttered and ducked as Aidan tried swatting his shoulder.
“You’ll have to pay extra.”
“And why is that?” Kevin raised an eyebrow at them.
“Because,” Aidan shrugged, “You gotta support your future partner, Kevin.”
“Is that so now?” Kevin said softly.
“It is so now,” Aidan gripped Kevin’s hand in theirs.