just genuinely talked with my friend for the first time since she went away to college and all it took as a conversation starter via a picture of an attractive guy
Evan takes a bow
Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs | 10/16/21
Street art is sexy
Admitably I am busy. Harvest festivals don't just assemble themselves.
Live Review: Snapped Ankles at Gorilla in Manchester 13 October 2021
Words: Andy Hughes It was two years ago this month that we found ourselves in the company of Snapped Ankles in the West Yorkshire market town of Hebden Bridge. Since documented as ‘21 Metres To Hebden Bridge‘, the woodwose outfit made heads spin in the beloved Trades Club, even finding time during their live performance to measure the distance between the stage and the pool table, coming up with…
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literally no one talk to me no one look at me no one interact
Auston drives home 20 kilometres over the speed limit, which isn’t necessarily a new thing, but it generally occurs when he’s late on his way to the arena.
Or when he’s going to see Mitch.
This is different, though. Now, he has an intense, real reason to be driving this quickly to his place so he can drop off his hockey things and pick up stuff to go to the craft store in the plaza down the street from his apartment. Yes, Auston Matthews is going to a craft store in downtown Toronto. The medias gonna have a fun time with this one, he thinks to himself. But it’s worth it. It’s 100% worth it.
When he parks on the street in front of his apartment building, he jumps out of the car without really looking to see if there’s any traffic coming, grabs his hockey bag from the backseat and throws it over his shoulder, then runs up the stairs two at a time to use his key to unlock the door to the lobby. The elevator feels like it takes hours to come, and when it does he almost shoves a neighbour he’s never seen before out of the way. “Sorry,” he mutters under his breath, then punches the number of his floor in as the doors shut.
Auston is actually vibrating, and he knows he needs to chill out otherwise he might have a heart attack or something, but he’s feeling so much at this moment that it’s next to impossible to take a full breath. He unlocks his apartment door with shaking hands and throws his hockey bag onto the ground next to him. He doesn’t bother taking off his shoes, just grabs a sweater from the closet, double checks his pockets for his phone, keys, and wallet, and locks the door behind him again. The trip back down to the lobby is even more excruciating, never mind the drive to the plaza.
He parks his car and takes a breath before opening the door and stepping out. He almost can't believe he's about to walk into this freaking store, but Mitch has him whipped. He never would have done something like this for any of his ex-girlfriends, but for Mitch… he’d go to the ends of the earth to make him happy. He really would.
Auston pulls his hood up over his head and shifts his baseball cap lower over his eyes, shaking his head at himself as he walks into the store. He picks up string lights, candles, fake flower petals, and a stupid Maple Leafs banner that he knows Mitch is going to love a little bit too much. He always teases him that Mitch is his own biggest fan, but Auston really thinks it’s cute that he’s so passionate and in love with what he does. At the checkout he makes polite conversation, making an effort to keep his anonymity. The banner screws him, though, and when the cashier scans it through she makes the connection. “Oh my God, you’re-”
“Yeah, uhm, yeah it’s me. Do you want a picture or something? I don't mean to be rude but I’m in a super rush and I don't really want anyone to see me here because, well, you know…”
“I get it, right,” She nods, a knowing smile on her face. “An NHL hockey player can only be seen as an NHL hockey player, not a soft, regular guy buying things to appreciate his girlfriend.” She grins and Auston bites his tongue to keep from correcting her, because there is no universe where that would make this situation any better. Auston nods, forces a smile, takes the bag after he pays, and leaves as fast as he can without actually running out the main doors. Embarrassing is an understatement, he thinks to himself.
When he gets back to his car, Auston checks the time on his phone. He still somehow has a little bit over an hour before Mitch will be back at his apartment from practice, so he turns on the car and speeds out of the parking lot in the direction of Mitch’s place, where he’s been so many times before he doesn’t even have to think about how to get there.
At every red light, his knee bounces and he taps the steering wheel, anxious to get there faster. When he finally parks in the lot outside Mitch's apartment, he almost trips over himself as he gets out. He realizes then that he can chill out, that he has fifty minutes and that’s more than enough time to get everything done. Auston uses the set of keys Mitch gave him to let himself into the lobby and he lets himself into the apartment, but not before he hooks the Leafs banner onto the doorknob outside, smiling to himself as he does so.
Mitch’s apartment is quite big since he's a ‘rich, big-time hockey player,’ as Auston loves to tease. He has a pretty good idea of how to decorate, though. He toes off his sneakers and drops the bags gently onto the floor next to him. He goes into Mitch’s fridge, pulls out a bottle of water, and drinks half of it in under a second. He puts the bottle on the counter and gets to work.
* * *
Auston doesn’t stop decorating for the entire fifty minutes until practice finishes. When he thinks he might be done, he steps back, stretches his arms over his head, and just looks. From the front door, there are flower petals sprinkled on the floor, leading out to the balcony. Not just rose petals, but all kinds of different flowers, because Auston distinctly remembers that when the two of them went to a wedding together, Mitch commented on how the red roses everywhere were “tacky and unoriginal. Boring.” Auston wants Mitch to remember this as anything but boring. Surrounding the flower petals are small unscented candles that kind of border the pathway. Auston has also strung twinkling lights anywhere he can hang them, on banisters, across the ceiling, everywhere, to make it feel cosy. Out on the balcony, he strung even more lights, and while it would’ve been better if it were late at night and not just a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, he’ll make it work.
Just then, his phone lights up with a text from John. He just left the locker room. Didn’t look as dejected as before, but still a bit stung.
Auston types back a quick thanks for the heads-up and takes a deep breath, swinging his hands at his sides, thinking about whether or not he has to do anything else. Suddenly, he realizes he didn’t have a chance to order any food, and mutters a bunch of swear words underneath his breath. It’s okay, he thinks, if this goes as planned, I'll order in and stay the night here. If this goes as planned. Auston picks up his phone from the counter and shoves it in his pocket, picks up the plastic bags and trash scattered around the apartment, and throws out the garbage before walking out to the balcony and shutting the sliding door behind him. He stands on the far side of the door, realizes he doesn’t know what to do with his hands, and starts to shake a bit, even though it’s close to twenty degrees and humid as all hell, which is annoying for this part of fall in Toronto. He’s focusing on forcing himself to get a full breath into his lungs when he hears the door slam shut inside the apartment
His heart stops and he actually fully forgets how to function. His legs might give out, but no, no, he has to make this perfect. This isn’t about him. Well, it is a little bit. But it’s about Mitchy, about showing Mitchy he’s appreciated and loved and that Auston really does think about him as his best friend, even if they haven't been spending as much time together as of late.
Auston loves him. Nothing in the world could change that. But he can't keep living like this, torturing himself when he’s around Mitch, causing himself physical pain discussing relationship problems with him when all he really wants to do is pull Mitch into him and kiss all his problems away.
Auston wants to peek inside the apartment, but doesn’t want to spoil it. He imagines what Mitch's face might look like, walking through his apartment, probably being careful not to mess up the flower petals too much because Mitch cares about little things like that, when the door slides open.
Auston is staring at him when Mitch's mouth falls open and his breath catches in his throat. Auston can't swallow properly, and tries to force a small smile on his face. He can tell how unnatural it must look, but he can’t focus on that when Mitch looks so pretty with his cheeks a little pink, his hair still slightly damp from his shower at the rink, wearing Auston’s sweatpants and a crewneck Auston gifted him for his birthday the second year they knew each other.
Neither of them says a word. Mitch takes a step forward and slides the balcony door shut behind him. Mitch keeps his distance for a prolonged two seconds, but takes a few steps to stand less than a foot away from Auston.
“Hey, Mitchy,” Auston says, in a voice so soft and shaky he barely recognizes it.
“Auston,” Mitch responds breathily. He doesn’t quite meet his eyes, looking anywhere but Auston's face. “You did all this by yourself?” “Mhm.” “Aus, you-” Auston cuts him off, opening his mouth, wanting to say his piece before Mitch can change his mind, before he loses the confidence he has somehow mustered up.
“Let me talk first, okay?” Mitch nods, glancing up at Auston, looking out at downtown Toronto below them, then back at Auston and finally, finally his gaze doesn’t flit away. “You’re my best friend. You're the best thing to ever fucking happen to me. If I didn’t have you during our rookie year, I probably wouldn’t have lasted this long in Toronto. Or, I might've, but I would be a wreck right now. You keep me grounded. You make me laugh after the worst games of my career. You remind me that hockey isn’t all that matters. You remind me that I'm alive.
Auston takes a breath, looks Mitch up and down, and continues. He isn’t sure how to phrase it in any way other than what comes naturally, so he continues to talk to him like he would any other topic on any other day under any other circumstances.
“You’re more than just my best friend, though, Mitchy. It scares the living shit out of me, but I, um…” his voice trails off and it’s Auston’s turn to look out at Toronto’s skyline. He forces himself to not fucking cry right now, because why would he do that. He gulps and takes in Mitch, watches him staring up at Auston with wide eyes. He studies his blue eyes, his perfect nose, his hair that he has run his fingers through a million times before watching whatever Mitch put on on Netflix because he didn’t care as long as Mitch was happy.
“I love you, Mitchy. I love you in such a big way that it scares the fucking shit out of me. You take my breath away every single day. I think you’re the most amazing person that exists on this planet, and… and I love you, Mitch. I love you so much.” He did it. It's out. He just crossed a line with Mitch that he can never come back from, and it’s Mitch's turn to decide what to do with the beating heart Auston just placed in his palm.
Auston realizes he didn't really consider what would happen if Mitch says he doesn’t love him back, if he doesn't want to be friends anymore, if he kicks him out tonight and goes to the rink tomorrow and requests a trade away from the team because Auston made their relationship weird. The more time that passes, the more panic swells in his chest. It seems like Mitch really isn’t going to say anything, and Auston’s heart drops into his stomach, his eyes welling with tears. I’m so dense, he thinks to himself. I’m so fucking stupid, why would he even think for a moment that-
But Mitch is stepping even closer towards him now. He puts his hands on his shoulders, slides them towards his back so he’s almost cradling the back of Auston's neck. He stares up at Auston, eyes flitting back and forth between Auston’s, leans up on tip-toes, and kisses him. It's gentle, almost testing whether or not this is okay, but when Auston puts one hand on Mitch's waist, the other on the small of his back, pressing Mitch into him, the kiss deepens.
Auston’s chest explodes. He's never felt this safe in his life. This is where he’s supposed to be. This is what he wants to do, now and for the rest of his life. He wants to kiss Mitch Marner forever. He wants to be the last person who ever gets to kiss his Mitchy. Mitch leans back, still close enough that their noses almost brush, and his eyes are welling with tears of his own, but crinkling with the beginnings of a smile. “You are such a big idiot, Auston Matthews.” That just confuses him. He doesn’t want to speak, doesn't want to break the bubble surrounding them at this moment, so he questions him with a quiet “Hm?”
Mitch shakes his head and smiles the softest little grin Auston has ever seen from him. It makes his heart stop. Before Auston has a chance to remember how to breathe, Mitch starts. “I've been in love with you since that first game we played together in Ottawa. You scored four goals and we had to share a hotel room afterwards, and I was afraid to say anything to you because I thought you were this insane Hockey God who I would never be on the same level of. But then you made some joke about how bad my hair looked, and we both laughed, and I remember I loved the sound of your laugh so much that I never wanted it to stop. So maybe I fell in love with Hockey God Auston Matthews then and there, but I got to know you better, and you decided for some reason that you wanted to be best friends with me out of anyone else on the team, and I started to fall in love with Auston Matthews, this 19 year old kid from Scottsdale. And I'm still in love with Auston Matthews, this 24 year old kid who also happens to play hockey kinda well.”
Auston doesn’t know how to respond. He think he might cry because holy shit, Mitch fucking Marner loves him. He almost doesn’t want to believe it, it feels too good to be true. So he attempts to prove him wrong, to call him out on his bluff, because there's no way… “But Monica, and all those other girls…”
“I was trying to get over you, dummy. I never thought you would feel the same, so I tried my best to move on. But I couldn't. You’re impossible to move on from, you know that? Impossible.” The two of them are crying, tears falling, and Auston is unclear as to when he actually started crying. But Mitch loves him. Mitch Marner loves him back. So he kisses him, puts his hand on his cheek and holds him close to him, never ever wanting to let go. Mitch makes a small sound in the back of his throat when Auston brushes his tongue against his lips and Mitch allows him in. Auston kisses him and kisses him and kisses him, and for the first time in years, Auston’s heart feels whole.
Mitch pulls back for a second. He suddenly realized he didn’t actually say the words and he thinks he has to otherwise Auston won’t actually understand. Tears still falling, he says in as strong a voice as he can muster, “I love you, Auston. If I had to pick between hockey and you, I would pick you every day of the week.” Auston loses it at that and pulls Mitch into him. Mitch shoves his head into the crook of Auston’s neck, his arms around his waist. Auston keeps his arms around Mitch's shoulders, one hand holding the back of his head. The two of them hold each other until Mitch's phone buzzes in his pocket. Mitch moves his head out from Auston’s neck, but stays right next to him, refusing to move from Auston’s arms. Mitch rests his phone against Auston’s stomach and the two of them read a message from Will. so r u coming or not?
Mitch smiles a little at the message and looks up at Auston. Auston stares back at him and just takes in how beautiful he really is, wipes a tear from underneath his eye with a swipe of his thumb, and silently asks him if he wants to go. Mitch smiles a little and responds with, “Only if you want. Cuz you kinda freaked before, and-” “Don’t fucking do that, Mitch,” Auston cuts him off, laughing through his words, and Mitch laughs against his chest.
“I'm kidding, I'm kidding. For real though, are we going?”
“Only if you'll go as my boyfriend.” Auston’s heart stops as soon as the words leave his mouth, and the two of them are stunned into silence for a second.
“It's just Will, technically we're not really going anywhere,” Mitch teases.
“Mitchy!” “Yes, Auston, I'll go as your boyfriend. You're my boyfriend, Auston Matthews!” Mitch sings. Auston laughs, his heart happy for the first time in weeks. He kisses Mitch once more, a tender kiss on the lips, and takes his hand to lead him back inside.
As Auston closes the screen door behind them, Mitch giggles a bit under his breath and says “I loved the Leafs banner on the door, but you just exposed me to any of my neighbours that weren’t already aware that I’m a big-time hockey player.”
“Oh shit, I didn't even think about that. I just thought you’d think it was cute. I’m sorry, baby.” And he really is sorry. He kicks himself for not thinking about it, but Mitch laughs.
“I'm kidding, Aus! I did think it was cute. I think you’re cuter, though.”
“Awwww, you think I'm cute, Mitchy?”
“Mhm,” Mitch hums. “I think you’re adorable and I appreciate everything you did here so much. I was in a pretty bad mood without you there at practice.” “You were mad at me, though.” “So? I hate not being around you, even when I’m mad at you.” Mitch drags Auston by his good wrist to the centre of the living room and wraps his arms around Auston’s neck. “I never want to be apart from you ever again.” “I have to go home tonight.” “Move in.” “Mitchy,” Auston smiles and cocks his head to the side.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m kidding. But soon?” “Eventually.”
“Soon,” Mitch forces, his face falling serious for a split second before it breaks into a smile again.
“Soon, baby.” Mitch smiles big and kisses Auston again, then follows Auston to sit on the couch, pressing right up against him.
“I really do love you so much, Mitchy,” Auston says, and Mitch's face turns pink again. Mitch rests his head against Auston's chest and grabs the tv remote to put something on until they have to start getting ready to go. It's so comfortable and easy, the two of them pressed together, like this is how they’re meant to be. How they're supposed to be. How they always should have been, instead of dancing around their feelings for each other for years. “I love you too, Matts. More than you know.”
I, AM THAT LEAF... by magda indigo https://flic.kr/p/2mv4LNB
OF VINE and TWINE... by magda indigo https://flic.kr/p/2mtUwgM
Bro I’ve never even met Brewster I didn’t build the coffee shop in new leaf
everyone’s excitement for michael 🥺