Fabian woke in the warm morning light, rolling off the bed after a few moments. His gaze followed the sunlight of the porthole window- casting a perfect halo on where his head had been. He pulled the blinds down so that it wouldn’t wake Riz.
Still in shadow and shrouded by sleep, Riz slept. The tension in his face from suspicions, thinking, and worries had faded. He lay, crumpled into a ball, on the other corner of the bed. It appears as though Fabian- in his usual starfish-like ways- had spread out and stole the blankets. Riz was left clutching a sheet with his little claws, holding it bunched to his chest.
He was so small. That’s what struck Fabian, first. He was so small and precious. He was scrawny, lanky, and tiny, covered in patches of dark green freckles. Beautiful was never a word Fabian would’ve thought to call Riz. He was charming and smart, but he was not beautiful- not like statues and sunsets and gardens are beautiful. Seeing him in a little heap, though, seeing him in his loose gym shorts and one of Fabian’s t-shirts, he was beautiful. Not in spite of being gangly and freckled and scrawny, but because of it. He was Riz, and that made him beautiful to Fabian.
His heart was in his throat, looking down at the slumbering goblin. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen Riz asleep. In their past sleepovers, Riz had woken up first or he hadn’t slept at all.
Fabian wanted nothing more than to hug the sleeping bundle, to wrap him up in the sheet. He felt so sappy. He didn’t know how to handle things when they were tender feelings and soft looks instead of sudden, intense kisses. He wasn’t sure he could handle kisses, either, as much as he told himself he could.
Riz was snoring. A soft, almost unnoticeable snore. Fabian smiled. Now came the real reason he had elected to leave the porthole open and wake up at this unholy hour.
Fabian rushed down the stairs and into the kitchen, a place he had seldom been in all his years. He could ask Cathilda to do this, but he resolved not to. It wouldn’t be the same. This was his grand gesture. He’d manage the romantic duel another time. For now, he was going to find a recipe on his crystal and try his damndest to make breakfast.
After a few particularly vulgar, creative swears, an egg cracked on the floor, and nearly catching the sleeve of his silk pajamas on fire, Fabian accepted Cathilda’s help. It was too late to start over, but she could at least play damage control. The result wasn’t the best, but it was edible. Fabian beamed with pride at his fried egg on a (slightly burnt) croissant, complete with slices of sausage, some kind of fancy cheese from the fridge, and an orange on the side.
He had only technically made the egg. The sausage only needed to be cut and microwaved, and the croissant had no need to be toasted again. Of course, he also brewed up a fancy cup of coffee in a stein that looks like a tiny barrel. It took him a couple tries to work the coffee maker.
Cathilda snatches a bayleaf off of the egg-and-sausage sandwich and Fabian pouts.
“It was for garnish, Cathilda,” he waves his hand at his crystal’s recipe, “It makes it look fancy.”
“Yes, my darling boy,” she chuckles, “Many herbs are used as garnish. The bay leaf, I’m afraid, is not one to be put on breakfast.” Reluctantly trusting her judgement, Fabian puts his dish on a little wooden tray and carries it back to his room. The coffee spills a bit on the stairs.
At the top of the landing, Fabian pops a few mints, just in case.
When he arrives, Riz is stirring. He rolls over in his nest of sheets and makes a surprised chirp as his eyes slowly open. He bolts upright in an instant, not allowing himself any vulnerability.
“What’s that?” He glances at Fabian’s tray, his voice rough from sleep. His ears twitch- ever expressive, even if Fabian doesn’t know how to read it.
“It’s food, the Ball. You eat it,” Fabian sets the tray down on the bedside table. An amused smirk forms on his face.
“You-“ Riz glances between Fabian and the food and lowers his guard, “You made this for me?” He blinks. The food smells good, if a little burnt, but Riz can’t imagine Fabain cooking.
“Well, yes,” Fabian remarks, “But if you don’t want it-“ He straightens out his pajama top. Was it too much that he unbuttoned the top couple buttons? He hoped it looked casual and not purposeful. Riz’s eyes hadn’t left the food, or his face. He swallowed hard, suddenly worried. He shouldn’t be scared like this.
“No, no,” Riz interrupts, “I’m glad.” An awkward silence settles, broken by Riz reaching for the coffee. He picks it up between both of his hands, taking a gulp and then holding it just to feel the warmth.
“How is it? Perfect, right?” Fabian sits on the edge of the bed. This is his moment. Riz’s pupils are dilated. It’s a weird thing with goblins. He knows their pupils expand with interest and to see in low light, but he can’t for the life of him figure out what it means right now. He’s not sure if Riz is nervous- his claws are scratching the side of the mug- or if he’s in awe- he watches Fabian like that when he dances.
Riz doesn’t know what to say. Truthfully, the coffee isn’t that good. It’s some fancy fruity stuff that’s supposed to have “notes” of cherry or some shit like that. This is about the gesture, though- and he would feel ungrateful saying no. Despite it not being dark and unbearably strong, Riz likes it. Not for the taste. It warms part of his chest, that Fabian thought to make him coffee.
“It’s good,” he manages, voice unsteady. He starts to eat- though not with his usual speed- to avoid elaborating. He picks apart the sandwich with his hands, ripping off pieces from the croissant. He catches Fabian staring and startles, snatching up the fork. Right, it was impolite to eat with his hands.
“Is something wrong?” Fabian asks, leaning away to give Riz some space. He wasn’t eating much- was it that bad? Riz loves a good meal, he’d never seen Riz any less than devour his food. He was staring at the pieces of croissant like it was an investigation- picking up pieces delicately like they were clues.
Riz wants to tell him not to lean away, that everything is ok, but his mind is running through evidence right now. Breakfast in bed is supposed to be a romantic thing. It’s a couple’s thing- maybe even like, a married thing. Not that it was weird to make breakfast for your friends. That would be sweet and thoughtful. Generally, though, it has some kind of romantic intention.
It would be fine if it was a friend thing, too. Sure, Riz had finally got the crush off his chest and admitted it, but he’d still be glad to be best friends with Fabian. It didn’t mean anything less than the crush did. Right now, though, this felt like a deliberate gesture- one that could mean Fabian liked him.
The food wasn’t bad. It wasn’t the best he’d eaten but Riz was so thankful. He wished he could stomach eating it. He was too overwhelmed by thinking through the gesture, too panicked about what this meant to actually have an appetite.
He remembered something about love languages that he’d found in his fervent research. Judging on his friendships, Fabian was definitely big on giving gifts and dramatic gestures. Riz didn’t know what his was. He could read a crime scene in minutes but this? It wasn’t his strong suit. What he did know is that he appreciated Fabian doing something for him, and he felt like melting every time Fabian compliments him.
“Y'know, breakfast in bed is usually seen as a couples thing,” Riz says, just in case this is one of those weird cultural things Fabian doesn’t get (like maids being normal people). Fabian turns red. He runs a hand through his hair and laughs.
“Oh, the Ball! You’re funny.” Why is he backpedaling? Why is he backpedaling? Fabian felt the fear grip him at Riz’s level tone. Oh no. He screwed up. He isn’t the most perceptive person, but he thinks he sees something sad on Riz’s face, for a moment.
“So it’s not?” Riz puts down his fork, “I mean, it’s not like. A couple thing?”
“Well it is,” Fabian manages, voice a little more hoarse than expected, “I mean, in general. It doesn’t need to be. For us. But it can be.” Hearing his own floundering makes his ears burn and his heart hammer more than seeing Riz’s wide-eyed stare. He’s supposed to be charming. He’s supposed to be good at this kind of thing.
Fabian wishes he had gone with the duel plan. He could look dashing without having to rely on serious talking. He could make thinly-veiled quips about Riz’s form and how nimble he is until the tension was unbearable and they had to kiss. It would’ve been perfect. Again, no flaws in the duel plan at all. Except, of course, if Riz didn’t like him and then he’d be kissing him without permission based on an assumption and that would be awful. Riz must have such high standards. He’s never dated anyone, and he’s so smart. Fabian feels a pit in his stomach.
“It is?” Riz puts down the stein of coffee with a clank. He feels his ears burning, “You- You, Fabian, are uh,” he gestures at himself, “doing couple’s things for me?” He curses the awkwardness. He was always awkward- always. Riz could be clever and witty but he was never good at this kind of talking.
“I said if you want it to be,” Fabian tests, “I don’t know what you mean by,” he repeats the gesturing, “this. But, yes?” Fabian hears Riz take a sudden, quick breath.
“I do,” Riz feels everything in him screaming, “I mean, I do want it to be. I just meant- you, you’re cool and handsome and I’m,” he pauses, “I’m uh, I’m not cool. I’m a nerd, a loser, and a goblin and-“
“What does being a goblin have to do with it?” Fabian presses, desperately avoiding the implication of the rest. Riz wants it to be a couple’s thing?
“I don’t know. I just-“ he starts to stammer, looking anywhere but Fabian’s face. Unfortunately, his gaze drops to where Fabian’s silken pajama shirt is unbuttoned. His cheeks and his ears go teal. He’d seen Fabian in a tank top that covered less, but this was somehow worse.
“The ball,” Fabian tries to interject.
“Well I wasn’t meaning to say that you’d be, yknow, against goblins I was more so saying that in general-“ he rambles, and his insides feel like they’re boiling. He’s going to mess this up, isn’t he?
“Riz!” Fabian grabs his arm. Riz freezes. He’s been suppressing this for so long- trying not to make one of his best friendships ever weird, and here they are.
“Yeah?” He manages, after a moment of looking at Fabian’s concerned eyes. He’s vaguely aware his pupils must be like saucers.
“I like you, okay? I thought maybe you thought of me as a friend- which would be cool, too- because you’re always saying we’re best friends. I mean, we are,” Fabian blurts out, “You’re cool to me.” He realizes how dumb it sounds after he says it.
“I like you,” Riz breathes, “How could I not like you?” He’s all tangled up in the sheets, face burning from blushing, hair messed up from sleep.
“Hey, Fabian?” Riz says, softer.
This is it, Fabian thinks. This is the moment. His heart is hammering. He thinks Riz might be able to hear it, even though that would be impossible. Riz’s voice breaks the momentary silence, “How many mints do you have in your mouth?”
“The ball!” He gestures wildly, “I thought you were going to ask me to kiss you! Or date you!”
“So what’s with the mints?” He jokes.
“To make my breath fresh. For kissing! In case we kissed!” He starts to laugh, despite himself. Riz grins in the way that shows his fangs.
“Well, let’s not waste it, then,” Riz only has a moment to process how smooth he sounds- he sounds so cool for once! The next second Fabian is putting a hand under his chin to tilt his face up and another around his waist to pull him forward.
It’s clumsy and all sorts of awkward. Fabian’s lips are softer than Riz expects them to be. He can taste the almost unbearably strong taste of mint. He doesn’t know whether to close his eyes. This is his first real kiss. Kristen kissing them all freshman year didn’t count.
Fabian doesn’t expect to like the taste of coffee on Riz, but it’s halfway decent, maybe good if he gets used to it. Riz is a sloppy kisser. It’s fair. He’s never done this before. Fabian wishes he could say he was much better. For all his boasting, he hadn’t exactly been practicing.
“So,” Riz starts, but doesn’t elaborate. He takes a moment to catch his breath. It was a short kiss, but it took the wind out of him, “That was pretty good.”
“Of course it was,” Fabian feels his words returning to him, along with a sly smile, “Let’s do it again.”
“Getting our kisses in?” Riz jokes, to cope with his heart threatening to beat out of his chest. Fabian’s face is inches from his own. Riz wraps his arms around Fabian’s neck, unsure of what else to do. He tries to be wary of his claws, but when Fabian full-force kisses him again, his self control is gone. His fingers wrap in Fabian’s hair, claws gently scratching his scalp.
“Claws,” Fabian gasps after a moment, and Riz jerks his hands away.
“Sorry,” he whispers.
“No, it’s fine,” Fabian flushes darker, which he wasn’t sure was possible, “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m up for it.”
Partially to avoid responding, and partially so Fabian can’t see his own darkened blush, Riz kisses him again. He’s gone from years of no kisses at all to three in quick succession, and he’s still trying to process that Fabian likes him.
Already high off of his plan working, of Riz being into him, Fabian feels weeks of emotion trying to come out. Fabian opens his mouth to say something but Riz is kissing him a third time and now it’s become an open-mouthed kiss and Fabian can’t feel his lungs. One of Riz’s fangs clips Fabian’s lip and he shudders. It’s a good shudder, he thinks. He pulls away gasping.
“Riz,” he steadiest himself and tries to calm his breathing, “This is happening.” He says it just so he knows it’s real. That this isn’t some wild dream like he’s had, before. He wraps his arms around Riz and squeezes him tight to his chest.
“Yeah,” Riz doesn’t know what else to say. He just lets Fabian hug him, “Ah, you’re crushing me.” Fabian rests his chin on the top of Riz’s head, suddenly grateful that he doesn’t need to make eye-contact.
“Wait!” Fabian’s eyes widen in realization, and Riz jolts.
“What?” Riz asks, craning his neck up to look at Fabian, who still hasn’t released him from the bone-crushing hug.
“You like me,” he says, as if it’s news. Riz laughs.
“Yeah? And?” Riz pointedly pokes Fabian’s chest, “I do, and you can’t make fun of me for it because you like me.” He wriggles a bit to get Fabian to loosen his grip.
“You know what that means?” Fabian says, conspiratorial, as if he knows a secret, “We could date.”
“I can’t believe Fabian Seacaster is my boyfriend,” Riz teases, but feels his grin widen at the words. He falters a bit, nervous, “First date at Basrar’s? Or is that cheesy.”
“We could get a salted caramel milkshake with two straws. It’ll be so romantic,” Fabian pushes his forehead against Riz’s. He can’t believe this is happening.
“I’ll drink the whole thing,” Riz’s voice drops to a whisper and he isn’t sure why, “You know it.”
“Then we’ll get two milkshakes with two straws,” Fabain whispers back, and Riz breaks down laughing.
“Next weekend?” He says when he can breath, again.
“You bet,” Fabian gives a peck of a kiss on Riz’s forehead, causing the goblin to bury his face in his hands in a flustered mess, “Speaking of dates, I have a great plan for a romantic duel...”