Title: By the Book (Part 2)
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon
Summary: Leon meets Gwaine outside of the pub for the first time - on their first date.
Warnings: Modern AU
Word Count: 1,068
Prompt: #273: Wake Up
Author's Notes: A continuation of By the Book.
They settled on lunch a few days later.
Or, at least, what most people considered ‘lunch.’
It was strange for Leon to wake up on a Saturday to something other than errands and getting ready for work.
He tried not to put too much weight on the idea of a date as he moved around his flat. The midday sun came in bright and strong as he eased open the curtains, letting in the light he was so careful about keeping out so he could sleep. It fell over the bed and floor, warming its way into the bathroom where he showered, brushed his teeth, and contemplated his appearance. He dressed for the date, knowing he had a change of clothes down at the pub.
He left his flat, book in hand, feeling a bit displaced being outside of his usual routine.
It was very strange for Leon to wake up on a Saturday to go on a date.
The sun wasn’t as jarring outside the controlled environment of his flat. The weather was warm without being uncomfortable as he walked to the restaurant. Leon was grateful for that universal kindness when he arrived and saw Gwaine standing in front of the entrance.
Gwaine’s smile shined in the sunlight. His whistle made Leon flush beneath his collar.
“Daylight suits you,” Gwaine said, kicking off the fence he was leaning on. He tucked his sunglasses into his shirt. “That low lighting you’ve got going on in the pub does nothing for your eyes.”
Leon let his gaze fall, struggling to find a response to that.
“Too much?” Gwaine asked. He ducked his head, trying to meet Leon’s eye.
“A little,” Leon admitted.
Gwaine laughed but it was amusement without mockery. “Sorry,” he said, with a shrug and a smile. “I’m excited. And I’m starving. And I forgot that you’re just waking up.”
Leon smiled. “I’ll be better once I’ve had some coffee.”
Gwaine beamed. “Then let’s get you some.”
They were sat quickly, despite the small lunchtime crowd, at a two top in the open air section of the restaurant. They had coffee before they had menus and they were deep into discussion before they had food.
“What do you think in it means?” Gwaine asked, ignoring the plate set in front of him as he waited for an answer.
Leon noted the choice. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen Gwaine give preference to him over food or drink but he didn’t want to read anything into it. He picked up his fork and poked blindly at his food, continuing when Gwaine moved to eat too.
“I think it means first loves are complicated even when they feel easy – especially when they feel easy. Many people still regard first love as a simple, fleeting thing but it can obviously be a profound part of a person’s life, the results of which…” Leon put his fork down. “Why are you shaking your head?”
Gwaine popped a bite into his mouth. “You always go with the positive way of thinking.”
It was Leon’s turn to shake his head. “What do you think it means?”
“I think it means first loves are tragic, flaming failures.” Leon laughed as Gwaine leaned forward, emphasizing his point. “Look at what it did to him! He fell in love, thinking it wasn’t a big deal, and then his whole life went to pieces.”
“That wasn’t the only thing happening in his life.”
“But it was the biggest.”
“His parents’ divorce?”
“External to his own turmoil.”
“You’re saying that had no influence on him?” Leon asked. He felt a smile he couldn’t rein in. Although they’d been exchanging books for a few weeks now there had hardly ever been time to discuss them at the pub. It was even more enjoyable than he’d imagined.
“I’m saying it had minimal influence on him when compared to how she tore his heart out and stomped all over it.” Gwaine reached across the table to grab the book. “That’s when he lost it,” he said, tapping at the cover. “That’s when everything fell apart.”
“If you think the book has such a tragic meaning, then why did you recommend it?”
Gwaine paused for the first time since they sat down, making Leon regret his question. He felt the warm, inviting glow that had settled on them dissipate as Gwaine looked down at the book beneath his hand. He answered before Leon could apologize and retract.
“I like that he starts to put everything back together,” Gwaine said softly. He ran his thumb over the corner of the book, the hum of the moving pages getting lost in the restaurant noise. “Everything falls apart... he lets everything fall apart, he runs away from it, and he still gets a chance to try to put everything back together. Not everybody gets that chance or uses it.”
“I’m trying,” Gwaine said suddenly.
Leon reached across the table to put his hand over Gwaine’s. He did it without thought but it seemed to ease the rising agitation in Gwaine’s eyes.
“You don’t have to tell me anything,” he said as gently as possible.
Gwaine nodded, letting his gaze fall again. He didn’t move his hand so Leon chose not to move his either. The moment dragged on until Gwaine took a deep breath and seemed to visibly shed the gloom that had fallen over him.
“Maybe let’s stay away from coming of age stories for a while,” he said, moving Leon’s hand so he could pick up the book and slip it into his bag. He looked up, his smile beginning to find its footing again. “What do you have for me?”
It took Leon a long moment to realize he’d neglected the next step in the cycle: he hadn’t brought a new book to recommend to Gwaine.
“I… I don’t have anything.”
“Really?” Gwaine sounded genuinely surprised.
“Not with me,” Leon clarified. “I have more than a few picked out to share with you but I forgot to bring one with me. All my books are back at mine.”
Gwaine’s smile slowly grew into the beaming grin he’d greeted Leon with at the start of their date. He leaned forward, making a renewed flush rise under Leon’s collar as he let his fingers trail along Leon’s arm.
“That’s the best excuse to get me to come home with you I’ve ever heard.”