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We All Succumb

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Matt switched his cigarette from his right hand to his left, immediately shoving his right hand into the pocket of his leather jacket after the exchange. It wasn’t quite winter yet, but it was certainly starting to get cold. Cold enough for the wind to bite at his fingers and numb them, making being a man addicted to nicotine a bit terrible. New York was harsh with its winter --at least in comparison to Wales-- and as Matt thoughtfully looked up at the sky he dreaded the moment he would have to retire his leather jacket in exchange for one that would keep him warm. His leather jacket had become a defining aspect of who he was a person. His leather jacket and his vast collection of Smiths shirts. He knew it was more than a bit silly to base his existence off of things as trivial and materialistic as his clothing, but he truly believed that they helped define who he was as an individual. Without them he wasn’t quite Matthew Hitt, was he?

Matt was drawn from his thoughts when he felt a finger dig into his side. He lazily looked down, knowing full well that his eyes would take in an orange head and then a pale face. When he made eye contact with Aimee he couldn’t help but grin. While he was an image of various shades of black and grey, she was his polar opposite, adorned in colour from head to toe.

“Are you ready to go?” she questioned, grinning up at him in a way that indicated nothing less than pure joy.

“I suppose so,” Matt murmured and dropped his cigarette on the ground, putting it out with a deft twist of his boots. It was that grin of hers which had him agreeing to this outing in the first place. He wouldn’t have come if she hadn’t set her mind to it. Big parties just weren’t his thing. “As ready as I’ll ever be, anyways.”

With a grin Aimee hooked her arm with Matt’s and confidently led him to what he feared was his death.

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Matt had most certainly lost track of time. Instead, he was more focused on hanging out at the bar, forearms against the table and shoulders hunched forward, determined to go unnoticed by most because he didn’t have it in him to strike up a conversation filled with fake politeness and small talk that he didn’t have the time nor patience for. He needed something more than that. Craved it, even, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to find it in a room like this. That’s why Matt had always preferred small pubs and small groups as opposed to large ones like this. Places like this induced an even greater feeling of loneliness in Matt even if he was in a room filled with loud, sweaty people.

Absentmindedly, the young male toyed with his pack of cigarettes. To say he needed one was the understatement of the year, but he swore to Aimee that he wouldn’t leave and Matt knew very well that if he went outside to have a smoke he would just end up walking away. Away from this room of people with their forced smiles and pseudo concern. These people with their judging eyes and wandering glances.

Without thinking about it, Matt habitually took a cigarette out and pressed it between his lips. He didn’t realize he was doing it; he just did it.

“You can’t light that in here,” a quiet voice came from his side. At first Matt didn’t know if the voice was talking to him or not, but he reckoned it only made sense since he was the one with a cigarette dangling between his lips.

Matt took a deep breath, bracing himself and plastering a smile on his face before he turned his head to address the voice. The corner of his lips dropped down as his eyes were met with one of the most beautiful men he had ever seen, and Matt had seen a lot of beautiful men. Seeing as he worked as a model, after all. After a moment Matt came to two realizations. The first was that he was openly staring at boy wonder, pop princess, Harry Styles. The second was that the motion of dropping the smile from his face had caused his cigarette to fall to the ground. Matt’s hand tightened around his glass as he watched Harry bend over to grab the cigarette that had unjustly ended up on the ground due to Matt’s surprise. The Welsh man couldn’t help his eyes from trailing across the curve of Harry’s back and down the length of his forearm. What a beautiful man he was indeed.

Matt had composed himself by the time Harry straightened up and offered the cigarette back, a smile already on his face.”There was once a time where one could simply pull out a cigarette or even a cigar and one could smoke it wherever one pleased. Alas, now is not that time.” he said and graciously accepted the cigarette from the young man in front of him. The smile on his face surprisingly genuine and not at all forced.

“Now people like you have to go all the way outside,” Harry said with an amused lilt to his voice. He turned from Matt only so that he would be able to order a drink from the bartender. Matt took the opportunity to properly take in Harry. His hair which was pushed back from his face curled under his jaw and fell to his shoulders. His shirt was unbuttoned a third of the way down and Matt was able to see the birds on his chest because of the way he was leaning against the bar on one elbow.

Matt nervously licked his lips and swallowed, turning his attention to the drink in his hands which he brought to his lips. He downed to rest of it in one go and placed the glass back down on the table, quick to order another one. When he turned back to Harry he was startled to see that the other male was looking at him intently.

“People like me?” he asked belatedly in a tone of mock indignance. Matt would be lying if he said he wasn’t pleased when it elicited a smile out of the man in front of him.

“People who choose to smoke cancer right into their bodies.” Harry said with mock sternness, even furrowing his eyebrows and wagging his finger at Matt.

The sight of the man in front of him trying to be serious was enough to earn a soft chuckle from Matt. He was about to retort but was cut short when he saw a bright orange head approach them through the crowd.

“I see you’ve met,” Aimee said once she was standing next to both of them, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

“Not really,” Harry interjected before Matt had the chance to reply, “I was just doing my civil duty to the world and telling him he couldn’t smoke in here.”

“Matt, you know you have to go outside!” Aimee scolded and looked at Matt disapprovingly, pinching his waist gently.

“Aimee, you know I would never,” he said with a lopsided grin, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and languidly leaning against her. “But it’s true, we haven’t been properly introduced yet.”

“Well, Matt, this is Harry Styles from some pop band I can’t remember the name of,” she said teasingly and laughed when Harry clutched his chest in mock hurt, his bottom lip easily jutting out in a pout. “And Harry, this is Matt Hitt. Model extraordinaire, fourth sexiest man in Wales, and vocalist for some shit band named Drowners.”

“It’s true, we’re pretty shit.” he said and kissed the side of Aimee’s head, ignoring everything else she had said. Harry knew more about Matt than Matt knew about Harry and he didn’t particularly appreciate the imbalance.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to see for myself before I draw any conclusions, sorry.” Harry said with a smile and tilted his head back so that he would be able to finish off his drink. Matt couldn’t help but trail his eyes down Harry’s throat, watching the way his adam’s apple bobbed up and down. He wondered what it would be like to press his lips against the sensitive skin there. He wondered whether Harry would gasp or whether he would moan.

Matt was drawn from his thoughts when he was jabbed in the side with a sharp elbow. His sides had come in contact with that elbow enough for him to know that Aimee was the culprit, and Matt had to admit that he was rather glad she had shaken him from his thoughts. He didn’t think he quite liked the way they were beginning to head.

“You’re staring,” she hissed before putting the grin back on her face when Harry put his glass down and looked at them, an eyebrow raised inquisitively.

To Matt he looked like the most beautiful human being he had ever seen. What, with his sharp green eyes and the soft curves to his face.

Wait.

What?

What was he thinking? What was he even doing? Harry was a member of the masses that he was trying to avoid that night. He didn’t even know Harry, and Matt never, never eyed people the way that he had been eyeing Harry. He never just...did that. With a soft barely audible sigh, Matt removed his arm from around Aimee’s shoulders and went back to leaning against the bar, flashing the girl a quick smile when she excused herself and bounded back from where she came from.

Matt ordered another drink and toyed with his hands as he waited for it. He could feel Harry’s gaze on him but he refused to look up and meet it. To say it was going to be a long night for the man would probably be an understatement.

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Matt woke to a pounding headache that he undoubtedly deserved after all the alcohol he had consumed the night before. Not to mention the lines he had done before going to sleep. He had wanted to forget the night and forget he had. He tried his hardest to remember something from last night as he rolled out of bed and ambled to the kitchen. His eyes were half open as he rummaged through the drawers until he found painkillers. He took two with a bottle of water before he put on the kettle so that he would be able to make himself some coffee. Matt leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. He closed his eyes to shield himself from the light that was pouring into the kitchen, and he took the opportunity to think back onto last night but every time he tried he drew a blank. He truly could not remember anything at all and that scared him more than a little bit.

He was drawn from his thoughts when the shrieking whistle that indicated that the water had boiled echoed through the quiet and nearly empty flat. Matt hastily turned off the stove, hoping he hadn’t woken Marcel, his flatmate and best friend. He quickly poured himself a cup of coffee before he made his way out onto the balcony, pack of cigarettes in hand, ready to be smoked.

Leaning against the railing, he exhaled slowly, appreciating the way the smoke curled around him before dissipating in the air. He reckoned it was late afternoon, nearing on evening based on where the sun was sitting. Even though he didn’t remember what had happened the night before, he was still glad that he had slept as much as he had. Matt hadn’t been sleeping well lately, so for him to get more than three hours was a pretty big deal.

When he heard a noise from behind him he slowly turned his head, a small smile turning the corners of his lips up as he saw Marcel walking towards him. The other male wrapped his arms around Matt’s waist and leaned his bare chest against Matt’s clothed one.

”Glad to see you’re awake,” Marcel mumbled against the crook of Matt’s neck, “I thought you had died and joined the ranks of the dead.”

Matt chuckled slowly and carefully wrapped his arms around the man in front of him, being careful not to burn him with the cigarette that was between his fingers, “This headache has me wishing I had, honestly.”

”Serves you right. You stumbled in right as the sun was rising.”

”Sorry mum, I’ll do better next time.”

With that Marcel disentangled himself from Matt, stealing his cigarette and puffing at it, grumbling something about not being Matt’s mum. With a laugh, he reached forward and ruffled up the hair on his best friend’s head. Immensely grateful for him, even if he stole his cigarettes. Having Marcel around always relaxed Matt. The other male soothed his discomfort and alleviated his anxiety. Perhaps it was because Marcel was so quiet, or maybe it was because Matt genuinely believed Marcel cared deeply for him and would do whatever it took to keep Matt happy. For Matt it was a bit difficult to believe that anybody cared for him, but he believed Marcel.

”I think Alexa’s coming around soon,” Marcel added almost as an afterthought as he handed Matt’s cigarette back to him.

Matt made an appreciative noise, both because he had his cigarette back and because Chung was coming ‘round. He adored Alexa, even if he suspected that she wouldn’t have ever been his friend in the first place if he didn’t wear a leather jacket and sang in a tiny band.

”Is she bringing Al?” Matt questioned as he put his smoke out in the ashtray and grabbed his coffee instead, taking a sip of it before leaning into Marcel’s side a little bit, thankful for the warmth he provided. Both emotionally and physically.

”I think so,” Marcel said and wrapped his arm around Matt’s shoulders, pulling him closer. He knew that sometimes Matt just needed to be held and that was beyond okay with him. As long as his best friend was okay. “Uhhh, Ali is coming as well.”

Matt did his best to hold back a groan, choosing to take another sip of his coffee. He didn’t particularly like Marcel’s girlfriend, but Marcel was his best friend and Matt refused to be the reason Marcel was distressed. So he always kept his mouth shut about his dislike for Ali, and he was always nice to her. Albeit, he wasn’t particularly warm and he didn’t really treat her like they were friends. But he was nice and that was all that mattered.

”I best go take some more painkillers and hook myself up to an intravenous supply of caffeine, then.” Matt mumbled before finishing his coffee and pulling away from Marcel so that he could go inside and change.

Matt wasn’t as nervous for that night as he was for the night before. These were his friends and this was the company he preferred. These were the people he could truly be his nerdy, dorky self around and that was all that mattered to him.

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Chung bustled through the door half an hour later, a box of what Matt knew had to be cupcakes in her arms. “I heard you had a really rough night last night, so I brought you your favourite cupcakes,” she said and reached up on her toes to kiss Matt’s cheek.

He couldn’t help but grin as he took the box from the girl and leaned his cheek into the kiss, “I can’t remember shit from last night but you’re still a true godsend, Chung.” he said before she winked at him and made her way inside.

Alex walked in behind her, clapping Matt on the back and grinning at him. Matt returned the smile and watched Al walk after Alexa, a hand on the small of her back but not possessively. The touch seemed more comforting than anything else and that made Matt rather pleased for an assortment of reasons. One of which being that Alex was comfortable enough around them that he didn’t feel the need to get all possessive.

Matt was about to shut the door without looking when he heard a strangely familiar voice pipe up from behind him, “I get that I didn’t exactly bring you any pastries but that doesn’t mean you can shut the door in my face.”

Matt quickly turned around in surprise, his eyes taking in the man standing in front of him. Matt was too surprised to do anything other than open the door wider, watching Harry Styles walk in before shutting the door behind him. “I hope you don’t mind that I invited him. He said he knew you!” he could hear Chung shout from the living room where she had settled on Alex’s lap where he was sitting on the sofa.

”Well, he didn’t bring me any baked goods but I suppose he can stay,” Matt said after he had regained his composure, walking into his flat so that he would be able to join his mates.

Since when did he know Harry Styles?