It wasn’t like he meant to fall in love with Tito. As cliché as it sounds, it just kind of happened. How could someone not fall in love with sunshine personified? Mat tried his best to keep his walls up, to keep himself solid, but Tito made him melt. It wasn’t like it was an issue anyways, Tito was a tactile person and he and Mat were practically attached at the hip. He'd get over it and they'd be friends, Mat was sure of it.
Mat glanced up from his phone. The hotel room was bland, blending in with every other one he’d ever stayed in, but Tito made it light up.
“What’s up, bud?” Mat asked, watching Tito examine himself in the mirror.
“Does this look okay?” Tito asked, tugging at his collar. “I just got it fit, but I’m not sure…”
Mat smiled softly.
“You look amazing, dude,” he replied. “Don’t even worry about it.”
Mat’s honesty earned him a bright smile.
“Thanks! I thought the color was nice, I’m glad it looks good.”
Mat thought anything would look good on Tito, but he didn’t say it. He never did. They were open with each other, as any best friends were, but some things were better kept hidden. They got to the lobby on time for once and stuck close together, not that they needed to. Everybody knew that they sat together, ever since Mat made his presence solid on the team. Mat grabbed the crook of Tito’s arm and tugged him out of the way as Ebs walked by. Jordan flashed him a strange look before smiling and walking away. Mat brushed it off as some sort of pregame headspace as Tito sagged against him.
“Mat,” Tito whined. “When’s the bus gonna get here?”
Mat gently readjusted Tito so he could check his phone. “In about three minutes, calm down. We’ll be there when we get there.” He laughed when Tito groaned and pulled himself back up. He mumbled something about bringing snacks and rummaged through his bag and Mat stood guard as usual, making sure he wasn’t in anybody’s way.
Mat wiped the sweat off his forehead and grabbed his water bottle. As much as he enjoyed working out, he didn’t enjoy burning out.
“Hey, I’m gonna take a quick break, okay?” He called out to Tito, who was still running on the treadmill.
“For sure, dude!” Tito said, slowing down. “I’ll join you.”
They sat together on the gym floor, knees almost touching, basking in the feeling of a good workout.
“Hey,” Tito said before promptly choking on his water. Mat thumped him on the back a few times before he continued. “You really look like you’ve been working out more. I can see those gains.”
Mat blushed and grinned. Hard work really did pay off, and Tito’s attention was starting to get to his head. Tito tilted his head back and sighed and Mat did his best not to stare. There was sweat running from Tito’s hair to his shoulder and his right sock was pulled lower than his left. Mat pulled it up without a second thought and Tito rolled his head over to smile at him.
“Thanks, bro.” He held out a fist, which Mat bumped. “You always have my back.” His smile turned into something small and private as he looked at Mat. Mat was going to respond when Marty cleared his throat from across the room.
“Hey Mat, c’mere for a second.” Mat glanced at Tito, who shrugged, before following Marty out of the room. They stopped in an empty hallway and Marty turned to him with a surprisingly serious look.
“You know that if you ever need anything, we have your back, right?” Marty’s voice was calm and level, so Mat knew nothing was super serious, but he nodded anyway.
Marty held eye contact for a moment longer before nodding, seemingly satisfied.
“If anyone says or does shit to you, I will go straight for their knees.”
Mat couldn’t help but laugh. They shoved each other around before heading back to the gym. Tito looked up as they entered and he looked at Mat curiously, a small furrow between his brows and Mat shrugged. He had no idea what that was about, but he was sure Tito would when they talked about it later.
They sat on the plane together because they always did and you don’t fuck with tradition. It was Mat’s turn to have the window seat but they both knew that Tito could have it if he asked. The guys always joked about how they were an old married couple, and sometimes Mat could really see it. Sometimes he saw it too vividly; Tito and him playing together, getting together, starting a family together, growing old together. He kept those images behind his eyelids when the loneliness got to be too much in the dark of his empty bedroom.
Mat was drawn from his thoughts when Tito shifted next to him, obviously trying to get comfortable in the airplane seat. When he shifted again, Mat nudged him.
“Hey man, you okay?” Mat asked softly.
“Yeah,” Tito groaned. “I just can’t find a comfortable way to sleep.”
Without a second thought, Mat put up the arm rest between them and grabbed Tito by the shoulder, tugging him into his side. Tito smiled at him before snuggling closer, resting his head on Mat’s shoulder. Mat scrolled through instagram for a bit until Tito fell asleep. Once he could feel him breathing deeply, Mat took the chance to really look at him.
His hair was a mess and his lips were chapped but the way his lashes fluttered in his sleep made Mat’s heart beat a little faster. He couldn’t help but press a small kiss to Tito’s forehead. Tito was growing in confidence every day and it showed. He wasn’t shy anymore; he was more willing to yell and joke around the team. It warmed Mat’s heart to see him feel so comfortable with the team and with their friends.
Tito seemed to be getting more comfortable with him, too. He held on longer when Mat offered him a hug, he spent enough time together that Mat started keeping his favorite gatorade stocked, and Tito even let him mooch off his Disney Plus. It made something in Mat glow whenever he and Tito shared time together.
Tito snuggled in closer and sighed in his sleep. He was warm against Mat and it didn’t take much for him to rest his cheek against Tito’s head and pull him closer. They didn’t wake up until the plane landed.
“Why do you put your cheese on before your meat?”
“Why don’t you?”
Mat continued pouring cheese on his tortilla. Tito made a grab for the bag, but Mat snatched it out of his reach. They shoved at each other for a bit until Mat relented and handed him the bag of cheese. Tito snatched it from him with a grin. Mat hoped his blush wasn’t showing as he went back to assembling his ‘taco’. These days, he couldn’t even hang out with Tito without turning into a mess. It seemed like everybody knew at this point, with the looks and winks he got in the locker room meant anything.
Tito placed a hand on Mat’s hip to move him out of the way and Mat had to stop himself from leaning into it. The night was like any other. Tito had messaged him to come over for dinner, though he hadn’t mentioned anything about actually making dinner together. It made Mat’s stomach flutter, and for once, he didn’t want to stomp them down. He wanted to lean into Tito’s touch and kiss his smile without being afraid. Tito glanced over at him, eyes sparkling, and for a moment Mat thought he had a chance. Both of them were close with the other guys on the team but they sure weren’t this close.
Mat topped off his taco with whatever hot sauce Tito bought and sat on the couch, setting his plate on the table. He thought about the look Jordan gave him, and the talk Marty gave him at the gym. He thought of every quiet moment they spent together and everything seemed to click.
“Yeah?” Tito stuck his head into the living room. When Mat stood up, he walked all the way in.
“Is this a date?” Mat asked, smiling softly. Tito blushed and nodded, looking at Mat shyly through his lashes.
“I hope it can be. I was going to ask, but I didn’t want to ruin anything.” Tito ran his fingers through his hair, glancing back up. “I’d really like to date you, if you’d want to. Everybody already thinks we’re dating anyways.” Tito shrugged like it was no big deal and Mat kind of wanted to scream. They were an old married couple after all and Mat just so happened to be the last one to see it. He knew his face was doing something ridiculous when Tito grinned at him, and he couldn’t help but grin back.
“Yeah, I want to date you. Are you kidding, bro?” Mat moved towards Tito as he laughed and threw himself into Mat’s arms. Mat held him close, giddy and tender.
“Are you sure, bro?” Tito murmured mockingly into his shoulder.
“One hundred percent, bro.” Tito pulled away and pointed Mat back towards the couch.
“Let me grab my food. Put something good on, would you?” Mat had already grabbed the remote, immediately pulling up the episode of New Girl they had left off on. They started watching it together on a road trip and it quickly became their show off the road too. He thought about all the times the guys joked about their “date nights” and felt like an idiot. Maybe he really was the last to know. He snapped out of it when Tito came back out with his plate and made himself comfortable against Mat’s side.
“Oh!” He gasped, gesturing at the screen with his taco. “Is this the mug episode? I can believe he actually took that for her!”
“Right?” Mat said, starting Tito on a rant about the importance of a redemption arc and motifs. Mat listened intently while he ate and argued back about character stereotypes and everything else he could think of. couldn’t help that he fell in love with Tito, but he was glad he did.