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Refute!

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It felt awfully like Elliot was being sized up. One wrong blink or breath would ruin his chance of ever even being in the same room as Leo Baskerville. Abyss, he had such ruthless eyes for someone with overgrown bangs covering most of his face.

Leo’s finger tapped against the table, the simple rhythm ticking the seconds that their silence went on. “Treat me to a chocolate shake,” he finally said, easing up his stare.

Elliot frowned, letting out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding. Well. That certainly wasn’t an answer to the question he had asked. But Leo was always like that, and Elliot searched his face for clues if his reply was a yes or no. Maybe neither. Maybe he was being ignored. With Leo, that wouldn’t be surprising.

Scoffing in disbelief, Elliot’s hands twitched on the tabletop. “You… Didn’t you hear what I asked you?”

"Of course I did." Leo crossed his arms. "I’ve got some things to lay down before I even consider answering. My condition is a chocolate shake."

Elliot blinked. “You’re serious?”

"This is my break time between classes and I’m having a craving. Yes, I am serious," Leo deadpanned, tilting his head in an exaggerated gesture of patience.

Craving? What was he, a girl? And what was that about laying things down? Elliot sighed and muttered an agreement, and the two got up to head for the food court inside the student activity center. Leo led the way to where smoothies and shakes were being sold and grabbed Elliot into the line. Leo asked if he was getting something, but Elliot didn’t feel very hungry at all.

It was infuriating to admit, but Oz had been right - there was no way asking out Leo Baskerville was going to be an easy feat. He’d known the messy-haired boy for about two years - they had some classes together and generally had the same circle of friends. Actually, Elliot’s circle extended pretty far considering how many clamored for the attention of a Nightray, and while Elliot didn’t mind it too much, there weren’t many he’d consider friends.

Oz was a mutual friend between him and Leo, and it was during one night over videogames in Oz’s room that they became acquainted. It was then that Elliot recognized the overlarge glasses and hair to belonged to the same person he’d see in some corner of the library or another. Elliot guessed that was why Leo didn’t have many friends; his nose was always in a book, and it didn’t help that he had such a prickly personality. 

By some miracle or another though, Elliot had been able to get past that and got to know Leo. It reminded Elliot a little bit like a stray cat - Elliot was only allowed to be close to him because Leo finally “accepted” him (the fact Leo curled up beside him to read sometimes and got sleepy in the sun didn’t help the metaphor).

Well, maybe now he was being “rejected”.

They sat down at a corner table after Elliot got Leo’s order, sitting right across from each other. After Leo took long sips from his shake, he finally gave Elliot his attention. Crossing his arms on the table, he said, “You can count this as the date.”

Elliot, deep in anticipation, nearly found a way to fall of his chair sitting down. “I— what?”

"I said you can count this as the date. You can tell them you took me out or something." Leo shrugged.

Confused, Elliot said, “Okay, what? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Leo huffed, a pout on his lips. “Did Oz or someone dare you to do this?”

"What?"

"I didn’t even know you were gay. Can you imagine all the girls’ hearts breaking when they hear that?" Leo looked rather amused by the idea. But he obviously wasn’t picking up on Elliot’s confusion, and it was infuriating.

"Whoa, shut up, slow down!" Elliot held his hands up, begging Leo to shut his damn mouth. Trying to gather his thoughts, Elliot narrowed his eyes. "What the hell do you mean did someone dare me to do this? You think I’m making a joke?"

Leo quietly sipped his shake some more. Elliot was really glad he didn’t get anything after all, because a creeping nausea was building. “You are, right? It’s okay, you’re not a convincing prankster anyway, but I’ll play along with you.”

"There’s nothing like that!" Elliot exclaimed. Why was the conversation turning in this direction? Didn’t Leo have any idea how hard it was to have asked that question in the first place? Elliot had been mulling it over for days, weighing the consequences before finally making his decision.

Leo tilted his head again, as if to ask, “Oh really?”

Cheeks growing warm, Elliot muttered, “I asked you out because I actually like you. That’s how it works.”

"Elliot, I annoy the shit out of you," Leo said with a small, bitter laugh. "I can light your fuse and shut you up in a matter of seconds."

Elliot fumed quietly. Overhead, some light-hearted love song played. The song coupled with the casual chatter of the college students all around them made Elliot feel very out of place. He wanted to say that while what Leo said was excrutiatingly true, he also liked Leo because of that. No one could rile him up then put him back in line like Leo could. But the words froze on his tongue, and his mouth refused to open.

"You’re making faces," Leo said, swirling his straw around.

"I’m wondering why you’re being a dumbass," Elliot muttered.

"You’re the one being a dumbass." Leo scoffed through his teeth. He looked down, shaking his head. "There are lines of hot girls - oh, guys too - who would want to jump your pants."

"I don’t want people jumping my pants!" Elliot shouted, enough to attract nearby attention. Ignoring the amused looks and giggles, Elliot shrank down. Glaring at Leo, he hissed, "I don’t want people jumping my pants. I hate that kind of attention."

"I kinda want to jump your pants though."

The casual remark should’ve caught Elliot offguard, but all he could do was ask, “Then why the hell don’t you want to go out with me?”

Leo’s smile thinned, and he rocked slightly in his seat. “I kinda do,” he said, so quietly that Elliot thought he might’ve imagined it. But Leo’s lips had moved, and they still were. Sighing, Leo said, “But jeez, you think I can answer that right away? It’s…weird for me. I’m used to being made fun of. Gotten asked out to be made fun of before. I guess you asking me…made me happy but disappointed.”

Elliot blinked, his impatience waning at the serious, delicate tone Leo took on. He knew a little bit of what Leo had gone through before they attended the same college. It hadn’t been good, and the information now made Elliot want to beat the shit out of the people who thought putting Leo through that was funny.

Leo laughed a bit. “You’re not beating the shit out of anyone. I did a lot of that myself so it’s okay.”

Used to how Leo could read him, Elliot huffed, running a hand through his hair. “You know me, though. I wouldn’t pull that shit on you. I do have honor, you know.”

"Mhm, yeah, I know what a noble knight you are," Leo said, taking thoughtful sips from his shake. He offered it to Elliot, and he figured what the hell and took it. Leo grinned. "Indirect making out."

"Do you fucking tongue the straw or something?" Elliot let the thick chocolate fill his mouth. Too sweet in his opinion.

Leo grabbed his shake back. Twisting his lips in thought, he said, “Look, I…know you’re not joking.” He picked at the material of the cup. “I didn’t think that you liked me though…”

Elliot’s face grew warm again. He twiddled his thumbs under the table. “U-uh… yeah. Um, is it that you’re not gay or something? I mean! I’m not gay either! I just happen to think you’re, um, you’re really cool and all that.”

"Thank you, Elliot, I’ve always wanted someone to tell me I’m cool and all that."

Yeah, shut up already, please, he told himself.

Leo took out his phone. “I have to start heading over to my next class.” He got up, and Elliot quickly followed suit.

"I can walk you."

"Sure."

During the walk, Elliot didn’t say anything. He wondered if the moment had passed. He hated leaving things ambiguously, but he also didn’t want to push Leo. Maybe he just needed time to think. Maybe Leo would be the one to bring it up again. He did say he wanted to go out with Elliot. Kinda, was the word he used.

Leo threw his shake in the trash bin outside the building and turned to Elliot. “Alright, I’m gonna head up then. See you later?”

"Ah…yeah. I still gotta finish the homework anyway."

"Elliot, our class is in two hours."

"I’ll be fine!" Elliot huffed. He rubbed the back of his next, shuffling awkwardly and pretending not to watch Leo start up the stone steps.

But then he stopped, and his sneakers scuffed as he came back down. His hand slid up Elliot’s shoulder and he leaned in to press their mouths together. His lips were slightly cool and chapped, but when he pulled back, he could distinctly taste chocolate on his mouth. Still too sweet. But Elliot wasn’t complaining.

"Not our first date," was all Leo said in explanation. He was close enough that Elliot could see his eyes glance away in embarrassment beneath his bangs. "There should be a movie or something."

Elliot blinked. “This…weekend, maybe?” He was only barely able to pay attention to what was being said. Leo was still close and his hand was still over his shoulder.

Leo nodded. “Yeah. That’d be good.” He smiled. “From now on, you pay for my chocolate shakes.”

Of course Leo was going to say something like that. “Is that the only thing I have to do?” Elliot asked.

Considering, Leo said, “Actually, any chocolate I want.”

Elliot raised his brows. “You’re awfully like a girl.”

"Do you accept these conditions?"

"To what?"

Leo looked away again. “To us going out.”

Oh. Oh! Elliot’s eyes widened. Kissing and date and oh yeah, that’s what they were talking about. His mind was still a little hazy and he stepped back a bit so he wasn’t as close to Leo. Was this him not being rejected? Well, obviously Leo didn’t go around kissing people…

Elliot felt like his heart was swelling in relief and happiness. “You want to?”

"If you accept the condition." It was a cover up, and Elliot was completely okay with it. Leo was saying yes.

"Alright, I’ll pay for your damn chocolates."

If Elliot was smiling stupidly, Leo was choosing for once to not call him out on how silly he looked. “Okay then. I’ll see you in class.” He tousled Elliot’s hair and then ran up the building. Elliot watched him go, turning away only when Leo had disappeared inside.

He said yes… He said…

Onlookers decided to quickly disperse from the strange boy who decided to aggressively kick a trashcan over and let out a loud, “FUCK YEAH!” to no one.