“Now Wilco’s a bloody idiot, so as soon as he lights the Roman Candle, it shoots right back at him! Blew his own ear clean off!” Tom laughs along with his small audience, beer sloshing out of his cup onto the ground as he waves his hands dramatically. “Oh shit,” Tom carefully adjusts his cup. He blushes, looking up at Will from where he’s nestled under the other man’s arm. “Sorry ‘bout that, love.”
Will signs in mock exasperation, “You’re lucky I love you.” He carefully unhooks himself from Tom, setting his glass down on the cafe counter. He weaves through the crowd of their friends, packed into the cafe to celebrate his birthday. It was a roaring party, just like the one they’d imagined that drunken summer night.
He ducked into the back looking for paper towels; nothing. Will strode back out into the dining area, Grumbling softly at Leslie’s inability to replace the things he used. “Lauri!” he called, eyes catching the brunette popping up out of the crowd.
Will tugged open the supply closet door, “Tell Ellis he’s-”
Will tumbled backwards as Ellis spilled out of the supply closet, followed shortly by-
“JOE?” Tom exclaimed, sliding his cup to the side to push through the crowd. “Jesus Christ mate!” Tom laughs as Joe and Ellis pick themselves up, blushes rising in both men’s faces. Joe collects Ellis’ jacket from the ground and the man hurries to put it on, pulling the collar up over his neck.
Ellis’ best efforts aren’t quick enough to avoid Tom’s attention and he laughs aloud, noticing the magenta beginnings of a bruise just below Ellis’ pulse point.
“No,” Tom grins in realization, turning to Joe,“You sneaky bastard! Mum’s gonna love this one!”
Joe looks as though he wishes the floor would swallow him whole. He turns to Will for support, the man only offering him a shrugging grin.
“I can’t believe this!” Tom dances happily at his brother’s discomfort, “How long have you two been together?”
8 months ago
Ellis Leslie watches at Will disappeared through the swinging doors, leaving him at the mercy of Joseph fucking Blake. He groans, slouching a bit further onto the counter to bury his head in his arms.
“So,” Joe takes a sip of his coffee, Ellis would like to slap it out of his hand. “What happened to that French guy?”
“Left me.” Ellis responds curtly, “For some other guy. Some German EDM guy.”
Joe slurps his coffee, “Sounds like a prick.”
“Oh?” Ellis sits up slightly, “Well, thanks.”
“Yeah, I feel you,” Joe continues, “When my last boyfriend dumped me, I was a mess. Ask Tom.”
“Wouldn’t leave the orchard for days,” Tom cuts in, “I had to coax him out with pies.”
Leslie nods slowly, still hung up on the first part of this anecdote. Joe Blake, with a boyfriend. “I didn’t realize you were-”
“Bi?” Joe shrugs, “ No one ever does. I’ve been told I don’t look like it. Don’t fit their pretty stereotypes.”
“Fuck sterotypes.” Ellis countered half mindedly, “I think you’re right pretty.”
“Thanks?” Joe laughed, “Not what I meant, but thank you.”
“Hey Joe,” Tom butted in, drawing away Joe’s attention, “You heard anything from Mum lately?”
Ellis sits, half listening to Blake’s chat. The street outside the cafe is spotted with twilight shadows by the time the brother’s finally part. Joe collects up his things, dropping a few pounds on the counter before turning to leave. The bell chimes as he pauses, halfway out the door.
“And hey, Ellis?” Leslie could swear he saw a hint of a blush creeping up Joe’s face, “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
Leslies shudders as he glances down at the rag in his hand, once white, it’s now stained pink with Will’s blood.
He hears the bell chime above the door and sighs heavily, “We’re closed right now, there's been an emergency.”
Ellis pauses from where he's scrubbing away Will’s blood.
“I was coming to check on you.” Joe shifts nervously.
Ellis stands slowly, passing the rag anxiously between his hands, “I wasn’t attacked like Will, I’m alright.”
“You sure? You were still back there, with that man.” Joe’s voice is gentle and low and it’s doing something to Ellis’ usually strong demeanor.
“I’m sure,” Ellis nods, “He already had Will’s brain lined up at the end of that gun, he didn’t need mine.” Ellis laughs shakily, turning to go back to his work.
“Hey,” Joe crosses the cafe to grab his arm, Ellis looks up at him. Something shines behind Joe’s eyes, something Ellis hasn’t seen before.
“Come here.” Joe tugs gently, pulling Ellis into a hug.
Ellis slowly relaxes into his chest, tension leaving his shoulders. “I’ve never been scared like that.” He whispers, “I thought he was gonna kill us all.”
“Hey, hey,” Joe soothes as he feels Ellis start to shake against him. “You’re okay now, you’re safe.”
Ellis sniffles, resting his face against Joe’s shoulder.
“Do you…” Joe pauses to gather his confidence, “Would you want to crash at my place tonight?”
Ellis glanced up in confusion, “Wha-”
“You seem shaken, and I don’t want you to be alone right now,” Joe pulls back, chuckling softly, “You’re freaked out, man.”
“I mean,” Ellis steps back, gaze jumping around the cafe before landing back on Joe’s soft blue eyes. “Okay.”
Joe watches Ellis slowly step into his flat, the man’s dark shapes seem to fill well in his minimalistic, white apartment.
He seems to fit even better between his white sheets. Dark hair fanned out against the pillow as he rolled over to face Joe.
“Thank you.” There’s something soft in Ellis’ voice, something he hasn’t heard before.
Joe kisses him before he has time to think.
Ellis kisses back.
Ellis Leslie sleeps over that night.
But they don't get much sleep.
Ellis watches Tom sitting in Will’s lap from across the room. “Should we tell them?”
“Nah.” Joe tilts his head to take a hit from the blunt in Ellis’ hand, his arms occupied with the man in his own lap. Ellis’ long legs are thrown across his thighs, the arm holding the blunt thrown over his shoulders, the other holding a cup of beer.
Together they watch Tom’s face dip a little too close to Will’s.
“Do you think they’re gonna finally get their shit together?” Ellis notes.
Ellis smiles, resting his face against Joe’s neck. “You wanna get out of here?”
Joe hums, pretending to think it over until Ellis is giggling into his neck. “Sure.”
“I’m glad they finally figured it out.” Ellis looks out over the crowd to watch Tom and Will. The two men are casually leaning against each other, entertaining a small crowd of Will’s friends.
Joe downs his glass, setting it aside to wrap both his arms around Ellis, resting his chin on Ellis’ shoulder. Together they look out over the chaos of Will’s birthday party. “I still can’t believe it took them this long.”
“It’s ‘cause they’re idiots.” Ellis replies.
Ellis turned slightly, leaning into his boyfriend to press sneaky kisses up his neck.
Joe glances down, “You ready to go home, then?”
“‘Cause you seem ready.”
Ellis smiled up at him seductively, “Why go home when we have a supply closet right here?”
“Ellis Andrew Leslie!” Joe feigned shock, “I didn’t take you to be that sort.”
The shorter man rolled his eyes, already tugging Joe towards the closet, “Oh stop it. We both know you love it.”
“Alright.” Joe shrugs, letting Ellis pull him into the cramped little space. “You got me.”
Ellis grins, wrapping his arms around Joe’s neck until their bodies are flush against one another. “That’s all I need.”