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Coffee Breath

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The first thing Hubert did when he arrived in the kitchen was flick the kettle on, and the second thing he did was let the dog out.

It was a mid-winter morning and the air tickled his bare skin as he held the door open—hoarfrost had gathered on the trees, and he’d have to suggest that Ferdinand take pictures before it melted in the afternoon sun. The only reason he could tell was the sparkle of the branches under the streetlamps. It was still dark, would be for another little while—he would’ve liked to let Ferdinand sleep, but the two of them had things to take care of today.  

Ferdinand took decidedly longer to get ready in the morning, and so when Hubert slept over he usually made the two of them breakfast. Two servings of eggs cooked sunny side up, four slices of toast. His own with butter, his boyfriend’s with jam.

It would all be ready in short order, but he took his time shuffling around the kitchen in his pajamas and socked feet and gathered everything he needed—after all, Ferdinand’s alarm wouldn’t go off for another few minutes, and he would have to deal with the issue that was hair first anyway.

Hubert was not a morning person, but he was an early riser. By contrast, Ferdinand was a late riser but certainly a morning person, and Hubert would know he was up by the little songs he chirped as he went about his morning. It was like having his own little alarm clock, telling him when to start cooking.

It was ridiculously endearing. Hubert was probably doomed.

Hubert prepared his coffee, looked out of Ferdinand’s back window at the way the trees sparkled under the orange toned streetlamps. He took out his phone and snapped a picture. For Ferdinand, for later. For when the coffee had kicked in and he felt a little more human.

Ferdinand’s dog, a large happy golden retriever named Bishop, re-entered the room first. That was how Hubert knew that Ferdinand was awake, and on his way.

Hubert smiled as he heard quiet humming approach, a pair of strong arms reaching around him from behind and giving him a squeeze.

“Good morning,” Ferdinand said into Hubert’s back.

“Mm.”

“You slept alright?”

“Perfectly, until about six AM.”

“For you that’s like sleeping twelve hours.” Ferdinand hummed as he released him to plant a kiss on his cheek.

“You sound almost proud.”

“Perhaps I am.”

Hubert pressed a kiss to Ferdinand’s forehead and moved to go start their breakfast, beginning with the eggs. “Give me ten minutes.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Ferdinand said with a smile as he went to ready himself for the day.

He put on an apron—his apron, his mind supplied—and began with the eggs, cracking each one into the large pan he always used for this while Ferdinand’s dog supervised.

Hubert contemplated the fact that he not only had a favourite pan of Ferdinand’s but a favourite element on his stove. There was something fulfilling about finding this little part of his life in Ferdinand’s kitchen.

After all, it was here that they’d shared their first kiss, began and finished their first date. The first evening he’d held Ferdinand in his arms, and Ferdinand’s first little dizzy spell at the sudden display of affection. This kitchen was where they’d finally taken that next step. It had been nothing complicated, nothing difficult, just the movements of two men who’d decided they quite liked each other.

It had been months ago now, that first evening, but Hubert smiled ever so slightly to himself as he recalled the blush on Ferdinand’s face, and the expression as he’d pulled away the first time their lips had touched.

Things weren’t always complicated, which was one big thing he appreciated so much about their relationship. Though Hubert and Ferdinand were both complicated people, the two of them were just so easy together. It was surprisingly simple, the way the two of them rose to match each others’ pace, the way each of them seemed to understand the other and compensate for what they lacked.

With Ferdinand it all came naturally. It was a cup of coffee, a mug of tea, and the promise of a warm breakfast in the morning.

Hubert popped the bread in the toaster when the eggs were almost ready, and Ferdinand, timing as perfect as ever, swept in the room to prepare his tea. His hair looked much more manageable than it had before, and after he was done his preparations, Ferdinand leaned on the counter to watch his boyfriend work.

“I like seeing you here.”

“I like being here.”

Ferdinand paused, took a little breath as he watched Hubert slide the eggs onto two plates and pull the toast out of the toaster.

“You could always stay with me,” Ferdinand said.

Hubert’s butter knife stopped, and he hesitated a moment before he set it down. “Hardly a conversation to have over breakfast.”

“I don’t see why not, it’s as good a time as any. Maybe now that I’m seeing you in my kitchen I don’t want you to leave.”

Hubert smiled and slid the jar of jam over to Ferdinand, who then grabbed a knife himself and began spreading it on his own toast. “I have two months left on my lease,” Hubert supplied as a weak protest.

“You could sublet.”

“Indeed I could.”

The both paused and ate pensively at the counter, Ferdinand moving at one point to pour the hot water over his peach-flavoured tea. Bishop watched them both intently, only settling down when Ferdinand gave him the crust of one of his pieces of toast.

Hubert was drawing this out—he knew his own answer, his own wants. He knew what was right for the two of them at this stage of their relationship, and what would make both of them happiest.

He piped up after another sip of his water—his coffee was long finished by now. “I’ll try and sublet, and we’ll see what happens.”

Ferdinand turned, all red hair and dimples and excited smiles. His face in that moment would have been reason enough to say yes. “You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Take some time and thi—”

“Ferdinand. I am positive.”

And then Ferdinand was kissing his face, his jaw, his nose, smelling of peaches, and whatever that deodorant of his is supposed to resemble, and a little touch of morning breath. Hubert could feel his face crinkle automatically at the contact, but it didn’t deter his partner in the slightest.

Neither did it deter his boyfriend’s dog. Bishop jumped up and wanted in on the embrace, almost knocking both of them into the counter with the unexpected weight.

“Hubert,” Ferdinand says as he wrapped him up in a hug, moving one hand down to rub his dog’s head, “You’ve made me so happy this morning.”

Hubert finally placed his glass of water down on the counter behind him, returning the embrace and burying his face in his hair. “And you’ve made me happy for months. It’s time I returned the favour.”

“Pssh. You act as if you’ve never made me smile. I was only being specific.” Ferdinand planted a kiss on the side of his neck, rocked him from side to side.

“Mmm.” He reached up to cradle Ferdinand’s face in his hands, moving in—

Before Ferdinand pulled away with a particularly funny look on his face.

“Go brush your teeth first. Coffee breath.”

“As you wish,” Hubert said with a smile, putting his dishes in the dishwasher and heading upstairs to Ferdinand’s bathroom.

Their bathroom.

He found he quite liked the sound of that.