Well, this is unadulterated and unashamed fluff written for stoplightgodess on LJ who gave the prompt "bunny ears". This is the first oneshot out of three. The others will hopefully be forthcoming. Hope you guys enjoy this! Calex

He didn't know what he'd been thinking to accept the bet, especially when Daniel had that glint in his eyes that had always spelled "trouble". And worse of all, Daniel was going through a dry spell. It'd be over pretty damn soon, but until then everyone suffered through Daniel's boredom and boredom and Daniel should never be put in the same sentence. Daniel was fucking lethal when he was bored. The last time he'd agreed to a bet with Daniel during his bored, dry spell, he'd been put in lockup for indecent exposure. He'd sat in jail with only a blanket the cops had given to him to cover him up and boy, had it been hard to meet his father's eyes after that incident. Since then, he'd avoided bets with Daniel very, very carefully so the fact that he'd agreed on this one was probably an indication that he should stop drinking. Then again, he'd already stupidly agreed so he supposed he needed the alcohol for whatever Dutch courage it would provide him.

Which was how he found himself standing outside of Connor O'Shea's apartment at four in the morning of a Sunday night, when good little boys were supposed to be abed to rest before the early morning classes they had. Which he did. Eight o'clock, Professor West, who was a stickler for attendance, and punctuality, which meant he was going to be in for a hell of a time, and undoubtedly hungover on top of that. He raised a hand to the bell, but hesitated before it connected. He might be drunk, but he'd like to believe that he was considerate and he had absolutely no intention of having O'Shea bearing down on him like some angry angel from he- okay, the alcohol was apparently too much for him to handle if he'd just thought of O'Shea as an angel, metaphorical or otherwise. Or should that be rhetorical? Fuck.

Something hit him on the ass, hard, and he jerked with a shout of surprise, whirling around to look for the cause when he caught sight of Daniel's head peeking from above the short wall surrounding O'Shea's house, eyes narrowed as he moved his hands in a shoo-ing motion. Rolling his eyes, hand going back to rub at the sore spot which Daniel's incredible aim had sent the rock - even when he was off his face drunk, it seemed, but then Daniel used to be a pitcher in high school so that explained things. And not pitcher in the sex sort of meaning, either, but a proper baseball pitcher and everything - he took a deep breath before his hand once more went back to the doorbell. Before he could even press it, the doorknob turned and he found himself blinking up at a sleepy and pissed off looking O'Shea in nothing but thin cotton boxers. He blinked again, tilted his head to the side and looked at him from the toes up. And there was quite a bit of him to look at, what with him being in just his boxers and nothing else. Damn, O'Shea definitely needed clothes that would show off that body, because he had quite the body to show off. He could've stared at him all night if O'Shea hadn't cleared his throat, dragging his eyes back to meet a face that was the very definition of "pissed off" and no longer sleepy. He grinned sheepishly at the other man, wiggling his fingers in a little wave that only had O'Shea's eyebrow twitching in annoyance.

"What are you doing here, Matthews?" he snapped, the Irish accent that was so very nearly non-existant normally thickening. He blinked, because damn that was sexy. He'd always had a thing for accents, but it'd never occurred to him that O'Shea had an accent since it was usually pretty much not there. Except when he was angry, apparently. Though he'd heard rumours that O'Shea sounded like he'd just stepped off of Ireland when he was drunk, and considering his own inebriated state, he suddenly found the prospect of Connor O'Shea drunk very, very interesting. And attractive. Not that Connor O'Shea wasn't attractive because he was, especially now that he'd seen him without very much in the way of clothes but - "I'm waiting, Matthews." Oh, he was supposed to answer him, right. Might be a tad bit more drunk than he'd thought. He tried to straighten, shooting O'Shea his most brilliant smile, but the frown that furrowed O'Shea's brows didn't abate. He gave a mental shrug at that, and proceeded to move on with the bet he'd made with Daniel. The details were a bit fuzzy but he was pretty sure he still remembered the gist of it all. Maybe. Oh hell, if he got it wrong, he hoped that Daniel would take his effort into account, at least.

"Well," he began, then paused, wondering what was the best way to proceed. With someone whose temper was as explosive as O'Shea's, though, it was often tricky. More than that, he seemed to have it in for James, who thought it was all a bit unfair, really since he couldn't remember what the hell it was that he'd done that warranted O'Shea's dislike. Still, he couldn't pause too long. O'Shea's dark brows were starting to furrow again and that really was too bad since he was so pretty. Well, not pretty pretty, but definitely attractive. And eye catching, even in his quiet sullenness. The girls raved about him and called him Byronic, though what the hell that meant always escaped him. Oh, the furrows were getting deeper. Fuck it, just go with truth, then. "I don't rightly remember," he admitted finally, and watched O'Shea's brows furrow again... a bit differently. Oh, he knew that look! It was O'Shea's 'confused' look. Damn, he deserved a medal for getting that one; O'Shea's expressions were notoriously hard to read and he'd been able to tell when he was drunk.

"You... don't remember," O'Shea repeated, disbelief clear in his tone. Then those brows furrowed again and this time James could tell the meaning of it immediately - that was his angry face. "What the fucking hell do you mean, you don't remember? It's four in the fucking a.m., Matthews, and you're making noise fit to wake the dead in front of my house and you say you don't remember? You tell me what you're doing at my house, or I swear to fucking God I'll kick your ass to kingdom come."

"You know, I never figured out the meaning of that," James admitted, frowning in thought. "What the hell do they mean by 'kingdom come', anyway? I mean, I'm sure it's meant to be all threatening and stuff, but the scary factor is seriously undermined considering the fact that I don't know what part of the sentence means."

"Matthews..." O'Shea growled - his only warning - and James hurriedly tried to fix his blunder, hands going up in a soothing motion which, for some reason, only made that twitch of O'Shea's more pronounced.

"Sorry, sorry. Look, all I remember clearly is alcohol and Daniel and you know that those things never bode well for anything."

"Of course," O'Shea said dryly, after a moment's pause. He had an eyebrow inched up and James had to grin, because that was absolutely adorable. Of course, he wasn't going to say that to O'Shea because he had a sneaking suspicion that if he did, he'd be sporting a black eye and that was something he hoped to avoid if he could. "So somehow the drinking and Daniel pieced together and here you are, in front of my house at four in the morning." Somehow, when O'Shea put it that way, it sounded bad. Must be sober logic, and that wasn't such a fun thing to contemplate when drunk. So he grinned and shrugged and said nothing, which made O'Shea sigh. "Go home, Matthews."

"Can't," James said, cheerfully. "I'm pretty sure I have something to do before I go back."

"Well, can you remember it, and quickly? I need sleep and seeing your face this late isn't doing anything for my mood."

"That was completely unnecessary," James said, stung. Sure, he'd figured that O'Shea didn't like him that much, but as he'd thought before, the reason wasn't something he could clearly discern. He had nothing against O'Shea, quite liked him, in fact. Thought he was an okay guy, and there was the fact that O'Shea was hot. Sure, he realized that people sometimes just didn't like someone, but it didn't stop the fact that it hurt. To his surprise, though, O'Shea sighed again, running his fingers through sleep mussed hair.

"Sorry," he said, finally. "But dammit, Matthews, it's late and I'm tired. You can come back tomorrow once you remember or something. Now can you go away already? I've got a class in four hours that I really need to be at."

"I know, I'm in the same class," James pointed out, and O'Shea blinked.

"You are?"

"Yeah, Professor West's American Lit class, right? I know you don't like me, but I would've thought you'd have noticed we were in the same class, at least." Oh, okay, he hadn't meant for that to come out. Apparently O'Shea hadn't expected it either, because he blinked again, looking confused.

"Who said I didn't like you?"

"Oh come on," James snapped, and he realized in horror that maybe drinking that much hadn't been such a good idea after all. He couldn't seem to control his tongue and that was very, very bad right now. "You don't have to pretend, alright. I think it's pretty damn obvious that you hate my guts, even if I don't know why. Everyone's noticed it."

"I don't hate you."

"Well, dislike me, then."

"Fuck you, Matthews," O'Shea snapped back, now looking completely away. "Stop putting words in my damn mouth, alright? I don't know why the hell you think I don't like you, but that isn't true."

"Oh yeah?" he challenged. "Then why the hell do you always scowl at me, then? Why'd you always ignore me when I try to talk to you, and walk away whenever I say hi? Damn it, O'Shea, I'm not stupid, alright? If you don't hate me, then what the hell's up with the way you act towards me?"

"I'm not... I don't... Fuck!" O'Shea scowled, crossing his arms, uncrossed them, before crossing them again. "Look, I'm bad with people, alright? I don't... I'm just not good with people. And I know that it's a bit hard for you to understand, but sometimes I just... don't notice things, okay? So it's not like I'm deliberately shunning you or anything. I mean fuck, what do you take me for, a teenaged girl? Screw you."

"Well, what about when we do talk? You're always fucking swearing at me and you always try to go away from me as soon as you can."

"Well maybe if you weren't so damn aggravating all the time I'd - " he cut himself off with a curse, shaking his head. "You know what, screw this. You're fucking drunk and it's late and I don't have time to argue with you about whether or not I "hate" you. Go away, get some sleep and apparently I'll see you tomorrow morning."

"You know what, forget about it," James snarled, embarrassment and hurt making him angry, hands clenching into fists at his side. "This is fucking stupid and it's not worth my time."

"Not worth your time?" O'Shea's eyes blazed and James found himself being shoved, hard enough that he stumbled and had to quickly right himself before he stumbled down the short steps off of O'Shea's porch. "Fuck you, Matthews! You're the one who woke me up at fucking four o'clock in the morning, fucking reeking of alcohol like you got dunked inside a barrel of beer, spouting off some fucking bullshit about me "hating" you and you say it's not worth your time? Screw you, and not in the fun way either, asshole. Go fuck yourself and die." When it looked like O'Shea was going to shove him again, James grabbed his arms, which only made O'Shea snarl and struggle to get away. "Let me go, Matthews, I'm going to fucking kill you."

"I don't think that's going to work as an incentive for me to let you go," James pointed out, helpfully, but flinched as O'Shea's only answer was a growl. "I know this is probably suicidal, but that was sort of sexy. The growling. I mean hell, I can't possibly do anything that would make you hate me less, right? So it's probably not going to make much of a difference if I tell you that I think that you're kind of sexy. Always have, to be honest. And oh hell, shut up James, shut up!"

To his surprised confusion, he saw O'Shea freeze, head shooting up to lock his startled eyes on James. Who suddenly realized exactly what his fool, drunken mouth had spouted. He swallowed and immediately let O'Shea go, backing away, stammering things he wasn't even sure the meaning off while he tried to get away before he made an even bigger fool of himself. Of course, that would have worked better if he hadn't stumbled on the last step, sending him flying back to land on his ass. He winced. He'd hoped to get out of things with his dignity and body intact, but he'd apparently managed to bruise both. This was looking to be a great end to an already horrendous night. He groaned, flopping back against the neat grass of O'Shea's lawn, throwing an arm over his face in an attempt to block out what had happened from his mind. It didn't work, of course, but it was the thought that counted, right? He'd thought O'Shea would have the decency, at least, to leave him alone, but the rustling of grass under someone's feet had thoroughly disproved that. Then he felt O'Shea kneel by his side. Although he knew O'Shea was there, he still jumped at the feel of gentle fingers on his shoulder, not expecting the action at iall/i. He moved his arm only just enough to uncover his eyes, and he blinked at the hesitant, concerned expression on O'Shea's face.

"Are you okay? Are you hurt?" he asked, tone hesitant, but James smiled wryly at the genuine concern he heard there. It was almost painfully ironic that O'Shea'd show concern for him only after he'd made a total fool of himself by admitting that he found O'Shea sexy. He wanted to groan again, but smiled weakly at him instead.

"Only my pride," he admitted, wryly, and stared in shock as he saw O'Shea's lips curve into an answering, if small, smile. The smile faltered, though, when he didn't stop staring and O'Shea frowned, self-conscious.

"What is it?"

"It's the first time you've smiled at me," James answered him, not even thinking about it, the words slipping out in his awe of the moment. "You've never... I've seen you smiling at other people and wished that you'd smile at me too, but you've never and... it's the first time you've ever smiled at me." His awe only increased when he saw O'Shea's cheeks darken in a blush, but when he tried to take his hand away from James's shoulder, James immediately grabbed it, kept it there, and stared again as O'Shea's blush darkened. That was interesting. He didn't know O'Shea was a blusher. He couldn't help but wonder how far that blush extended, even if it wasn't as noticeable as it could've been if he was paler. O'Shea might have the Irish dark hair and bright blue eyes, but he lacked the pale skin. That was his brother, Liam. Connor O'Shea was tanned and toned from the running that he did, the running that constantly drove James to distraction because he wore the itty bittiest white shorts ever that seemed to exist only to draw attention to his long legs and tight ass.

Oh, he really shouldn't have thought about O'Shea's ass, because damn that was distracting and now ihe/i was blushing, too. And still holding O'Shea's hand. But he'd already learnt his lesson. Letting things go quickly resulted in pain and a further loss of his dignity, so he'd just hold on to his hand for a little while. It had nothing to do with the fact that he liked how O'Shea's hand felt in his, not at all. He wasn't noticing how O'Shea's hand was lightly callused with long, elegant fingers and wide palms. And he certainly wasn't imagine what it'd be like to have those neat, clean nails digging into his skin while O'Shea gasped out his name -

"-hews. Matthews!"

He was broken out of his thoughts to realize that O'Shea was looking at him in irritation, his face completely red. That was when he realized that while he was having his moment of inner monologue fantasizing about O'Shea, he was staring at him, still holding his hand. And man, that was probably creepy and he'd probably scared off the other man or something. Which sucked, because scaring off O'Shea wasn't exactly in his plans, not when he already had him leaning over him with O'Shea's hand in his. So he shook his head and smiled weakly at the other man, even as he kept his hold on O'Shea's hand because there was no way in hell was he going to let him go now.

"Sorry, lost in my thoughts for a while," he admitted easily, running the pad of his thumb over O'Shea's knuckles. If it was possible, O'Shea's face went even redder and he tried to jerk his hand out of James's hold but James was having none of that. He turned O'Shea's hand around, linking their fingers together and fuck if he didn't like the look of that, if he didn't like seeing O'Shea's hand in his, his long and elegant fingers with their blunt, clean nails twisted with his. He was probably going out of his mind, but that didn't matter as long as he kept staring at their linked hands and tried to use whatever psychic brain powers he had to make time stop so that he was left holding on to O'Shea's hand and O'Shea too shocked to think about pulling away and that was perfect because he could pretend, at least, that his hand was exactly where O'Shea wanted it to be.

Well, it was his fantasy, so his probably wasn't exactly where O'Shea wanted it to be. In his fantasy. Because in his fantasy, O'Shea also wanted him to screw him senseless so he'd probably want James's hand to be in more interesting places like, oh, around his cock and jerking him off nice and slow until O'Shea was trembling, panting and flushed over him, arm shaking from trying to hold himself up and fuck if that image didn't make him harden, didn't make him want, need -

"I think you have a concussion," O'Shea said carefully, hesitantly and James wanted to laugh at that. He hadn't hit his head, but god it felt like he had. But that was probably the alcohol talking. "Your eyes are glassy and you're sort of drifting off on me. Um, I'm supposed to make sure you don't fall asleep, right? Or something. To make sure that you don't have brain damage."

And suddenly the concussion seemed like a good idea because if it meant that James could stay just a bit longer with O'Shea, O'Shea who actually voluntered to look after him, then maybe that was a good thing. So he shrugged, wincing maybe with a bit of exaggeration and smiled.

"I think that's best."

Connor didn't know what the hell he was doing. They might go to the same college, might both be juniors, and in the same American Lit class apparently but they'd hardly spoken more than a handful of words together barring tonight's bizarre experience but he was leading James Matthews into his house (after trying to kick him out not too long ago), to his living room and offered to get the man a drink. He'd asked, without thinking, if Matthews wanted a beer but then wanted to kick himself because if the idiot really did have a concussion wasn't alcohol a bad idea? So he quickly said that he'd bring them some coffee since that would also help them to stay awake, which was how he found himself in his kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil and banging his head - softly so Matthews wouldn't find out what he was doing - against his cabinets. He didn't know how he got himself into these situations. They were more Pat's area and if Liam ever found out, he'd laugh so hard he'd piss himself. Which was why Liam wouldn't find out, ever. Because if he did, that would be Connor dead right there. Or at least, his dignity would be dead and Liam wasn't above taunting him and reminding him of his mistakes for years after, vindictive asshole.

He jumped when the kettle whistled and cursed as he banged his head against the cupboards with enough force that there was a loud 'thunk' and he was left seeing stars. And apparently his cursing wasn't terribly quiet, either, because Matthews was suddenly at the doorway, all concerned and ruffled and still smelling vaguely of the copious amounts of alcohol he must've fucking inhaled or something. He took one look at Connor, still cursing and rubbing his head and glaring at the cupboard like it was alive and his number one enemy and raised an eyebrow. At least he was tactful enough not to comment, Connor thought sourly, and winced as his fingers found a bump. Fuck, that killed. He hissed slightly in pain, then jumped again, hitting his head again when his fingers were replaced by ones thicker and more callused than his, touch strangely gentle despite that.

Matthews had fingers resting against Connor's jaw to tilt his head, the fingers of his other hand threading through Connor's hair to touch his head and Connor suddenly found himself staring at Matthews's jaw, noting absently that the five o'clock shadow that darkened it was a shade darker blond than the hair on his head, but that might've been because it'd been lightened by the sun. Matthews was definitely tanned enough for that. Then he hissed again as Matthews's fingers found the bump and brushed against it a little too hard, but before he could snap, the fingers gentled and Matthews was murmuring quiet "sorry"s and his thumb brushed along Connor's jaw and suddenly Connor was a bit all too aware of the fact that he could feel Matthews's breath against his face, all too aware of the shape of his lips, and how close the two of them was standing. So he pushed at Matthews's chest a little and the other man blinked at him, before a smile quirked his lips and he stepped back. He dropped the hand from Connor's hair, but kept the fingers against his jaw, thumb still stroking over the line of it so damn gently that if Connor couldn't see it, couldn't feel the pressure and bumps of his knuckles, he'd have thought that he was dreaming all of it.

"You've got quite a bump there," Matthews said, tone a quiet and strangely intimate murmur that made Connor's cheeks want to heat, but that was stupid. So he kept his eyes steady on Matthews's and snorted, rolling his eyes.

"I'd figured that one out, yeah." Matthews's lips quirked again in a grin, genuine and friendly and bright and Connor realized with a pang that while Matthews had commented that he'd never had Connor smile at him before, neither had he had Matthews smiling at him. And maybe that had been a good thing because Matthews's smile was doing strange things to his stomach. It was so easy, so natural, so warm. Connor could almost feel it, like the unexpected beam of sunshine in cold winter that warmed you up. Like a mug of hot chocolate spiked with rum after a day of hard snow boarding.

"You always this prickly?" Matthews was asking and Connor had to shake himself mentally from his contemplations of Matthews's smile. He shrugged, suddenly self conscious when the question registered. He'd heard it before, and it was true. Pat was the warm, energetic, friendly and brightly optimistic one. Liam was the cynical, sarcastic, lazily sensual one whose life motto was probably "revenge is a dish best served cold". He was... he was the hot headed one, the defensive one. The "prickly" one. 'Middle child syndrome,' people had murmured in tones that said they'd just understood something and Connor'd always wished that they'd tell him what the hell it was that they'd understood because he never had. It was just him, just the way he was. It pissed him off, but more than that, it... stung. And here was Matthews saying the exact same goddamn thing and that stung too, a bit worse, and he didn't understand why the hell that was. So he reverted to nature and snapped.

"Is that a fucking problem?" he demanded, shoving hard at Matthews's chest, hard enough that Matthews fell back a couple of steps, eyes wide and confused and so fucking blazing blue and Connor hated it a little, hated that he noticed, hated how he was now seeing the way Matthews's blond hair curled at the nape of his neck, a seductive invitation to touch, to taste, to press his lips against the nape of Matthews's neck. He hated how he was noticing how wide Matthews's shoulders were, hate how he still felt the hardness of Matthews's chest against his palms from when he'd pushed earlier. He curled his hands into fists, digging his nails into his palms to get rid of the hot itchiness there, trying to drown out the voice in his head that whispered for him to touch him, touch him, touchhimtouchhimtouchhim. He was damned if he was going to listen, going to give in, so he glared even harder, and saw Matthews's eyes (god, those sinfully blue eyes) get more confused before darkening with hurt and that hurt, so Connor turned away to ignore it, pretending to be busy with getting the coffee ready even though his hands hurt, throbbed a little when he let them relax and deep, crescent marks were pressed into his skin from his nails.

"Sorry," Matthews said, voice quiet and meek and Connor's eyes screwed tightly shut at that because it was wrong to hear that tone in Matthews's voice, so fucking wrong because Matthews was supposed to be loud, supposed to be brash, supposed to be popular and friendly and open and everything that Connor wasn't. Matthews wasn't supposed to sound like what Connor said had hurt him, hit him below the belt like that because it was unfair. He wasn't supposed to feel sorry, to feel guilty because… just because. "Sorry, I'm fucking up your life and just… barged in and you didn't have to do this, any of this. And it's just…" He sighed and Connor could hear defeat in his voice and he screwed his eyes shut even more tightly at that. "Sorry."

"You apologise too damn much," he muttered, finally, letting his breath out in a sigh. His hands moved again to put coffee into a pot, then poured the freshly boiled hot water into it. He let the coffee stew for a bit (was it supposed to stew? Fuck, he didn't know, he rarely drank coffee, just tea, but James would want coffee and they needed the caffeine). The air was tense and his hands gripped the edge of the counter, not wanting to turn around, to see Matthews and feel… just feel. He wanted to go back to his life, his quiet, normal life that made sense. Maybe this was the reason why he and Matthews never spoke. Less than an hour and Connor felt like his world had been turned upside down by Matthews and it made him feel uncomfortable. Pat was the one that liked change, the constant flux of life. He and Liam were big with routine, although Liam's idea of routine was coffee in the morning and a quick, hard screw at night. So maybe, really, it was just him that wanted, needed, the routine.

Finally, though, he had to turn around. Matthews was still standing where he'd been when Connor'd last seen him, still looking so unsure and so fucking vulnerable that it was just wrong. He was biting his lip and Connor wanted to curse and to tell him to stop that right now because seeing those white teeth biting down on the full lower lip made him think about things he didn't want to think about, not with Matthews. Because apparently even being in the same room, same breathing space as Matthews made his world not right. He jerked his head to the cupboard above his sink as he brushed past Matthews to get back to the living room.

"Grab a couple of mugs." He set the pot down on the coffee table, then flung himself down to the sofa and flicked on the TV, flicking idly through the channels, less than half of his attention on what he was doing, mostly on the kitchen. Finally, though, he heard sounds of movement, heard the cupboard open, the clink of mugs, then heard the cupboard close. Footsteps next and he turned his attention back to the TV just as Matthews went through the door, annoyed at himself for immediately pretending that his complete attention was on some kind of reality show that he's always hated because of its idiocy and pointlessness. He didn't hear Matthews move, could just see him hovering by the door from the corner of his eys and heaved an irritated sigh. "Stop standing around and get over here. I'm getting tired and I want coffee." He saw Matthews jerk and cursed at himself, forcing his tone to even, to gentle even the slightest bit. Let a smile curve his lips even if he knew it didn't reach his eyes. "You'd better hurry before I decide that I'm willing to drink out of the pot."

"You wouldn't," Matthews said, and finally he was walking and then he was next to Connor on the couch, putting down the mugs and pouring them both coffee before Connor could even move and fuck that was both annoying and strangely nice to have someone do that for him, for once. Matthews's comment hit him and he raised an eyebrow, shifting on the couch slightly so that he could face Matthews.

"You don't think I will?"

"I know you won't," Matthews returned with a quiet sort of conviction that surprised Connor. And pissed him off a little, too, because Matthews knew fuck all about him, hardly spoke two words to him and he presumed to know Connor.

"And why the hell would you think that?"

Matthews must've caught the edge in his voice because he suddenly looked cautious, shooting a careful and wary look at Connor as he brought the mug to his mouth to take a sip of dark, rich coffee. Connor found his attention completely riveted to Matthews's mouth and he ripped his gaze away from the sight, looking to the side and scowled because that was the… however nth time he'd been doing that – staring at Matthews's mouth – and it didn't piss him off less than it did the first time he noticed he was doing it.

"Because you're too… " Matthews gestured uselessly, looking helpless. " – for it."

"I'm too…" Connor's brow furrowed at that, completely at a loss at what Matthews was trying to say and it annoyed him a little.


"Pernickety," Connor repeated, torn between irritation that Matthews would call him that, and laughing because seriously, pernickety? Who the hell said that? Matthews looked embarrassed and pushed on, maybe to make Connor forget but he sort of didn't think that he would because there was something endearing about it – and he was kicking himself for even thinking that – sort of like how Julia Roberts found Hugh Grant endearing when he said "whoops a daisy" in Notting Hill (and his mother made him watch it, okay?).

"It's just that you're so… particular about things. You're… you're a perfectionist in every way. I mean, for fuck's sake, your work's always so neat and you even line up all your stationery carefully before class and the way you eat as well, it's just… so precise. Even the idea of you drinking out of the pot when you could use a cup is just… it's weird."

"… Are you stalking me?" Connor asked, brows furrowed as he stared at Matthews and he had to laugh when Matthews suddenly looked stricken and babbled out excuses trying to cover up his mistake, then had to laugh again at the completely stumped look on Matthews's face and how'd it end up with him laughing, anyway? This was completely unexpected, but it was nice because God, it felt like forever since he'd laughed and that was sad. He snuck a glance at Matthews's face and that had been a mistake because he started laughing again because Matthews looked like he was sulking and god, he was fucking adorable. And gorgeous, especially with the twinkle of good-natured humour in his eyes, but that was beside the point. "Sorry, sorry. It's… I think it's sort of nice. That you pay so much attention to me. It's flattering."

"God, there goes my dignity," Matthews muttered and Connor had to laugh again and that made Matthews smile and damn, Connor had never noticed the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled and that he had a dimple in his right cheek and that was so hot. And then Connor realised that they were suddenly much closer to each other and he had no idea how or when it happened but they were and Matthews was cupping his face again, thumb stroking his jaw again and that was so nice he had to shiver a little at the feel of the callused pad of Matthews's thumb on his skin. He sucked in a breath, eyes wide, heart thudding hard against his ribs and god, god, this was what he'd been thinking about, what he'd been secretly hoping for but… Matthews looked up, looked at his face and frowned a little. His hand drifted up Connor's face, rubbed at the furrow between his brows, then trailed down his nose, traced his lips and Connor licked his lips, unconsciously, only realised what he was doing when his tongue brushed against Matthews's finger, only realised his mistake when Matthews's eyes darkened and he moved infinitesimally closer.

"Matthews," he said quietly, shaken and so fucking scared, breath catching but he couldn't stop the flutter of his eyelids as they slid down half mast more than he could've stopped himself breathing, even if that seemed like it would happen far, far too soon.

"James," he murmured and Connor blinked because it didn't make any sense, none of this made sense and fuck, he was still fucking terrified but he wanted it, how it wanted it. He wanted Matthews to close the distance between them, to feel his breath against his face again, to see if Matthews's lips were as ridiculously soft as they looked.

"What?" he breathed out, distracted and lost and needy and a thousand different things he didn't want to think about but wanted, wanted, wanted something he didn't know, didn't know how to think about.

"My name," Matthews's lips quirked, even as his eyes stayed so intense they unnerved Connor. "It's James. Try it out, O'Shea."

"Like you're one to talk," Connor shot back, not able to help himself even if his breath stuttered and his voice broke and his tone was shaky. He swallowed and Matthews lifted a hand to brush over the line of his neck from the down up and fuck, why was that so ridiculously hot?

"Will you call me James if I start calling you by your first name too… Connor?"

Oh hell. Oh hell, he was so fucking stupid because it destroyed his self-control just a little bit more to hear Matthews – to hear James say his name even though it was so stupidly small because normal people called each other by their first names, but Connor'd always resigned himself to not being completely normal and shit, he was babbling in his head. He let out an explosive breath and giggled, fucking giggled as nerves ran through him like cold fingers over his spine, through his body so that he shook, so that he trembled as James shifted his closer, so close that Connor could feel the heat of his body through his clothes.

"James," he said, stuttering over the name, blushing and James groaned before he crushed his mouth to Connor's and Connor had to screw his eyes shut because shit, it was fucking perfect and that terrified him most of all. And then he forgot how to think, almost forgot how to breathe when James nipped at his lip to get him to stop thinking, when James slid his tongue over Connor's lips until Connor opened for him with a needy, broken moan. His hand flung out, almost in panic, almost to push James away and he hit one of the mugs, had to because he felt it – cool and glossy against his fingers before he heard the clatter and fuck, there's coffee on his carpets and – he moaned again, louder, when James moved in, laying practically on top of him and their bodies fitted together like pieces from two different jigsaw puzzles that still somehow fit, and how it fit. His hand went involuntarily to clutch at the material of James's shirt at his shoulder, bunching the material, and he wasn't even sure anymore if it was to push him away or to pull him closer and it didn't matter anymore because it felt so damn good he was drowning in it.

James moved again, somehow sliding himself between Connor's thighs and just ground down and Connor let out a choked off cry, arching up and James's hand snuck to his back, slipped to touch his spine, to move over it in one smooth, confident stroke that was belied by hands that were trembling, just the slightest bit.

"Connor," he murmured against Connor's lips and Connor moaned again, cursed, and finally gave in completely, digging both hands into James's hair to pull him closer, to kiss him deeper and harder and it was everything he wanted, everything he needed and everything he wanted to ignore. It wasn't perfect, this wasn't a movie. The kiss was messy and harsh and painful and he felt his lips bruising from the force and heard the clack of teeth against teeth as they shifted but it didn't matter because maybe there was perfection in imperfection or something like that because it wasn't enough.

Maybe this was the reason he'd ignored James, maybe this was the reason why he'd never spent too long in James's company, because somehow he knew that this would happen. Connor didn't have any problems with homosexuality, his brother Liam was gay and proud of it… well, he didn't give a damn at least. The point was that Connor'd been exposed to it for as long as he could remember so he didn't have a problem but it was still sort of scary, sort of new, sort of breath taking to take that first step, to admit to someone else – even if it was in actions – that yes, he did find men attractive. And he'd been attracted to James and not wanted to admit that, so that was why he'd always walked away. Then again, that could just all be complete bollocks and he'd just not talked to James because he was an idiot and a bit of a twat because right now, he couldn't remember why it was so bad to know James Matthews when he was lying on top of Connor and moving his hips against Connor's like that and kissing Connor like the world was going to end tomorrow and he wanted to go out celebrating life the way humans had always celebrated it for millennia.

They finally pulled away, though, panting harsh breaths between their bruised lips as they looked at each other. There was wonder in James's eyes and he reached out a hand to brush back a strand of Connor's hair behind his ears, then ran his knuckles over Connor's cheek and Connor leaned into that touch unconsciously.

"Fuck, you're gorgeous," James said, and his voice was harsh and raw and startling in the silence. But real, oh so real. "Let's do that again." And Connor laughed and shook his head because it was past five in the morning and James was supposed to be concussed and he had a bump on his head that hurt like a bitch and he'd just shared his first kiss with a guy and it was glorious. So he pressed his hand to the back of James's neck to tug him in for another kiss – slower, softer, teasing and tasting and this time it was imperfectly perfect because it was a kiss fit for the movies, if that movie was Brokeback Mountain… or something along those lines. And he was sharing his third, fourth, fifth and sixth kisses with a guy, with James, tangled together on the couch until they were too tired to do anything more than brush their hands over each other because it was nearly seven (he'd glanced at the clock on the wall) and they hadn't even had the coffee that he'd made and they were going to suffer in Professor West's class in an hour, but too damn lazy and languid to do anything else. It was then that Connor remembered the reason for James's visit in the first place and quirked a brow at the other man.

"Remember what you're here for, yet?"

James looked confused for a second, and then his expression cleared and he laughed. He whipped out his cell phone from his back pocket, and turned them slightly before raising it up so that the camera faced them. "Smile for the camera."

"James, what the hell – "

"Just do it," James commanded, then smiled and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth that lingered, just a touch too long and he smiled giddily like he couldn't believe that he was allowed to do even that and Connor laughed at him and that was when James snapped the picture. When Connor saw it, he rolled his eyes, then proceeded to tickle James who started howling and bucking on top of him because he was really, really ticklish and oh, the possibilities of that made Connor grin evilly. And for the first time in a truly long time, Connor felt content with… with everything. Because he finally admitted to himself what he'd been so afraid, so hesitant to admit before. And maybe his eight o'clock classes wouldn't be so unbearable now that he'd found someone to keep him company in the nights before and the mornings after.

To: Daniel Bradley
From: James Matthews
Message: I hope you're happy now, you asshole. Thanks.

Daniel clicked on the message and laughed when he saw the picture of James lying on top of the normally cool faced O'Shea, both of them grinning stupidly, O'Shea laughing as James winked at the camera, hand stealthily making bunny ears behind O'Shea's head. He shook his head and snapped his phone shut. Best damn idea he'd ever had, betting James to finally get his off his ass and to finally try to get with O'Shea. James had been unbearable in his emo sighing and longing glances at O'Shea when he thought that nobody was looking. Except of course people noticed because James looked at O'Shea longingly pretty much all the time and James had always sucked at being subtle, anyway. And he was always obnoxious when he had a crush on someone, but especially obnoxious in his crush on O'Shea. Shaking his head again, he grinned and walked to their shared American Lit class. Now James owed him one. Maybe he could get Connor to set him up with one of his friends or something…