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Auston knows, objectively, that he can’t dance, and that a zumba class is maybe (read: definitely) the worst place to showcase his skills, or lack thereof, but here Auston is, standing next to Mitch outside of the campus dance studio.

Auston turns to Mitch. “This is a bad idea. You know that, right? Like, as much as I call you a fucking idiot, you’re not that stupid. I know you wanna check out that instructor that Kappy said was cute, but is this really worth it?”

Mitch glances from looking at the front door to look at Auston. He says, “Yes, it’s worth it. It’ll be fun. And funny, because we both look a little like Bambi when we’re not skating.”

“Well. You kind of always look like Bambi, because you’re so small.” Auston grins, even as Mitch reaches over and whacks his shoulder.

“You fucking loser, I’m only 3 inches shorter than you.”

Auston smirks, giving Mitch a side eye. “More if we’re talking about-”

“I swear to god if you say-”

“Dick size.” Auston cracks up at his own joke, and reaches over to mess up Mitch’s hair as Mitch yells.

“You’re awful, the worst, objectively the most terrible person I’ve ever met. I’m cancelling our friendship and there is definitely a cancellation fee, and it’s that you have to move out,” Mitch shouts, smacking Auston on his arm again.

“Shh, shh, you’re making a scene,” Auston giggles, covering Mitch’s mouth with his hand. “Let’s just go inside and get this over with.”

***

They end up in the front of the class, because someone, somewhere, hates Auston and wants to see him make a fool of himself.

He’s going through his second crisis about his dance skills when the most beautiful boy Auston has ever seen walks in. Mitch grabs onto Auston’s shoulder and shakes him. “There he is, there he is! Holy shit…”
Auston looks over and sucks in a fast breath. “Damn, dude, you weren’t kidding when you said the instructor was hot. He’s like a Toronto Adonis.”

“Toronto Adonis? Wow, how cultured of you.”

Auston shoves him. “Sure, chirp me all you want, but am I wrong though?”

Mitch takes another glance at the instructor. “No, you’re really fucking right.”

Mitch isn’t kidding. The instructor is maybe the most attractive person Auston has ever seen, objectively speaking. He has floppy blonde hair, a strong jaw, and one of the nicest asses probably in existence. Auston thinks it couldn't get any better, but then he lifts up his arms to do stretches and he gets a glimpse of what has to be an six-pack. Auston hears Mitch let out a low whistle.

The class starts then, the instructor grabbing his headset and doing a soundcheck. “One two, one two, okay, hey everybody! I’m William, but you can call me Willy, and welcome to Intermediate Zumba! Time to get pumped!”

The music starts right after Willy stop speaking, and Auston throws a panicked look towards Mitch. He’s just able to get out an “oh, no” before Willy starts shouting out moves and directions, and he has to throw himself into the class to keep up, his focused pulled to the front of the room.

And, damn, can Willy dance.

The class is more hip hop than anything else, filled with body rolls and hip thrusts that Auston is absolutely terrible at. The upside is that Willy is absolutely wonderful at them, and Auston has a first class seat to that show.

He makes it to water break without major incident, just a few trip ups and failed attempts, and turns to talk to Mitch, but Mitch has already made his way to the front of the room to talk to Willy. Auston can see that Mitch is very, very obviously flirting - he’s seen these moves before.

Mitch has his hand on Willy’s arm, resting on his bicep. He keeps flipping his hair back, and when he’s not smiling, his lips are puckered out. He’s also standing really close, way closer than is probably normal for bros, and Auston- Auston is jealous.
He knows it’s not strictly friend-jealousy when he feels his chest tighten as he watches Mitch start to run his hand softly down Willy’s arm. Auston takes a swig of water and glances at the clock, silently hoping that the five minute break is over.

His prayers are answered a few seconds later as Willy smiles and steps back, turning his earpiece back on. “Alright, guys, let’s get this show back on the road!” He claps once, starts the music, and the second half of the class is in motion.

It’s painful, really, that Auston’s heart had to choose the moment that it did to have this big realization, because now he has to sit through the last half hour of zumba watching Mitch try and fail to move his hips. It’s absolutely more endearing than it should be, to see him move around like that, and Auston finds himself thinking that Mitch is really hot when he does the hip thrusts, which is probably something that he should be embarrassed by, but he can’t find it in himself to care, really.

The end of the class finds Auston in the same position as the break did, with Mitch ditching him to go talk to Willy. Only this time, Auston follows him over.

“Okay, so like, those body rolls- how do you do that? I need some pointers here.” Mitch smiles.

Auston knows he’s pouting, but he can’t help it as he crosses his arms and slouches behind Mitch. It, like, kind of sucks to see Mitch so obviously flirting, now that Auston knows and has accepted that he has this crush.

(Which, like- on one hand, it’s kind of a lot to accept that he has a crush on Mitch, who’s his roommate, his best friend, and probably his soulmate, to be honest, but on the other hand, Auston really should’ve seen this coming. Everyone who’s ever met Mitch has fallen in love with him, so it was only a matter of time,)

Willy is in the middle of replying, and acting out the move, what the hell, when Auston decides that he’s had enough and walks over to step in.

“Hey,” Auston says, interrupting Willy, which is probably rude, but. Whatever. “We should go, Mitch, don’t you have an essay to write?”

Mitch looks confused, understandably, but he says, “Uh, yeah, I do,” then turns to Willy. “Nice to meet you, man. See you next week?”

Willy smiles and replies, “same time same place,” before shooting Auston a weird look and walking away.

Mitch whips around as soon as Willy is out of earshot. “What was that? I was just asking a question!”

“Yeah, but you were being all flirty and it was weird,” Auston says, but he knows it sounds dumb.

Mitch sets him with a withering look. “You do remember that the entire reason for us coming here was so I could flirt with him, right?”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I want to sit there and watch it,” Auston mumbles.

Mitch gives him a side eye again and says, “Well, since you fucking cockblocked me, you have to do my math homework now.”

Auston thinks for a second. He would much, much rather do some statistics than watch Mitch flirt with another boy, so he says, “Yeah, that’s fair,” and starts leading the way back home.

***

They go again the next week, of course, because Mitch argues that he didn’t get to talk to Willy enough, and he begs, and it’s really unfair for anyone to think that Auston could resist anything from Mitch.

So, they go, and Mitch flirts, and Auston hates every second of it. The worst part is that Auston can tell that Willy is into it, that he’s charmed by the stupid moves Mitch is putting on.

Which- of course he is. It’s Mitch. Mitch, who dances like he’s been immobile his whole life, who dabs as his goal celebration, who literally never stops smiling; of course Willy can’t resist him.

Auston thinks that maybe he can handle this, just maybe there’s a way for him to survive watching his crush hit on another dude, but then, a few weeks later, Mitch walks out of the studio with ten numbers written on his hand. Auston may or may not go home and shut himself in his room with a box of Thin Mints.

The point is, Auston is so uselessly, hopelessly, into Mitch that he’s lucky he doesn’t cry when Mitch walks into their apartment with news.

“I did it! I did it, holy shit,” Mitch yells as he walks into the room. He flops backwards onto their couch, still smiling. “I got a date with Willy!”

Auston is frozen still, his mouth open in surprise. “Oh?” He manages to squeak out. “That’s- that’s great, dude.”

Mitch gives him a look and sits up. “You don’t sound nearly as surprised as I thought you would.” he squints. “This isn’t some homophobia shit, right, because if it is then we need to have a different talk about-”

Auston stops him before that train of thought can carry on. “You know I had a boyfriend last year right? Like, I was very much dating Zach for most of our freshman year.”

“Wait, you were? Holy shit, I just thought you guys were, like, really close bros or something.”

“You’re a fucking idiot, dude. I’m like 99% sure you walked in on us fucking once.”

Mitch tilts his head, and is silent for a second before he goes, “Are you sure we’re talking about the same Zach?”

“Which Zach are you talking about?”

“With the nose-”

Auston laughs. “No, god no, not that Zach. That’s creative writing club Zach, we’re just friends, but there was another Zach- from the Lax team? He’s dating their captain, Dylan now- Wait, we’re getting off track. The point is that I can’t be homophobic because I’m literally gay, dude, how the hell did you not know?”

“I mean I feel like I did, deep down, I just forgot for a second. The real point here is that you don’t sound excited for me, which is like a total issue because we’re supposed to be bros, dude.” Mitch looks actually hurt, which makes Auston wince, because he didn’t mean to offend Mitch or anything. It’s just kind of hard to get pumped about the guy you like going on a date with another guy.

But he can’t tell that to Mitch. Because Mitch is the nicest person ever, and he would pretend to be cool about it, but on the inside he would be kind of weird about it, and eventually it would, like, ruin this dope friendship they’ve got going on, and Auston really, really doesn't want that, so. He’ll just have to fake it until he makes it.

“I’m hype for you, man, I promise, I’m just tired,” Auston lies, trying to save face. “We can rewind the clock and pretend you never told me, then when I wake up from my nap that I need so, so bad, you can tell me again and I’ll give you all of the enthusiasm you deserve.”

Mitch looks away from him then leans back onto the couch again. “You know you’re being kind of a dick, right?” He says it as more of a statement than a question.

“I know. I’m sorry.” Auston leans forward and puts his hand on Mitch’s knee. “I’m happy for you, man, I swear. Go on your date with Willy. Hop on that Swedish dick, dude!”

Mitch cackles and whacks Auston with a pillow. Auston would be kind of annoyed, but Mitch looks happy now, so he lets himself get hit and basks in the light of Mitch’s smile.

“Okay, I forgive you. On one condition: you go on a double date with me and Willy.” Mitch gives Auston a sly little smile when he tries to protest. “And don’t give me any of that bullshit that you don’t have anyone to go with, because I just thought of the perfect guy. Trust me, you’ll like him.”

***

The double date comes sooner than Auston expected, which is to say that it’s three days from their conversation, on that next Saturday.

And, like, Auston feels like kind of a dick for agreeing to go on this blind date, because what if the guy is super into Auston, and Auston is just here leading him on when he knows that he can never like him like that? But, as all his problems do, this one circles back around to Mitch, who he could never tell any of this to. Especially when he’s so obviously happy with Willy.
(And he is. Happy, that is. Mitch and Willy have been on two dates in two days, and Auston got the full rundown from Mitch after both. He’s glad that Mitch can confide in him like this, that he wants to tell him everything, but. It hurts.)

The four of them meet up at a restaurant on campus, a small 50s style diner with neon lights and bright red leather seats. It’s a really cute place, but when Auston turns to tell Mitch good job on choosing it, he’s greeting Willy with a kiss, and Auston has to look away.

God, there’s no way he’s gonna survive this dinner.

Auston’s date shows up as the three of them are sitting down and okay, yeah, Mitch was right. He’s tall - the same height as Auston - and he’s got this short blonde hair that’s kind of messy, and Auston definitely finds him attractive. He scoots into the booth next to Auston and reaches his hand out in a greeting.

“Hey, I’m Mikey.”

Auston takes his hand. “Auston. Nice to meet you, man.”

“Auston,” Mitch says, laughing. “I think that was the straightest I’ve ever heard you sound, and you’re introducing yourself on a gay double date. You even dapped him up!”

“Did I really sound that straight?” Auston turns to look at Mikey. “Because I can promise, I’m, like, totally gay, dude.”

Mikey laughs, and, okay, as much as Auston doesn’t want this date to go well for all of his reasons, he can admit that Mikey has a really cute laugh. “You’re fine, man, I’m very used to the ‘gay dude in sports’ voice.”

Willy chimes in then. “Yeah? What sport do you play?”

“None right now, but I used to play soccer. God, my best friend on the team, he’s also gay, we had to, like, practice being straight when we joined our high school team. Cuz like- we switched school districts after middle school, so no one there knew how like, totally gay Nate was.” Mikey stops a second to giggle. “It was hilarious.”
And- there’s something about the way Mikey talks about Nate, the small smile on his face, that makes Auston realize that maybe he’s not the only person at this table who’s in love with someone else.

The date continues in the same way, really, with Mikey bringing up Nate pretty much every time he speaks. It’s cute, and it makes Auston feel a lot better about not being so invested in all of this.

Either way, Mikey is nice, and Auston has a good time. Under different circumstances, maybe.

Auston hangs back when they leave, and Mikey stays with him behind Mitch and Willy.

“So… did Mitch put you up to this?” Auston asks. He puts his hands in his pockets and glances up at Mikey.

Mikey lets out a kind of half sigh/laugh. “Kind of. He talked to Dylan, and Dylan knows I’ve been, uh, trying to get over someone.” Mikey shifts his eyes away. “Sorry if that was, like, rude to say or something.”

“No, no, it’s fine. I could tell you have a crush on Nate.”

Mikey stops walking. “You could tell? Oh, fuck, dude, I didn’t know I was that obvious. Shit, man… I’m sorry.”

“It’s- it’s alright.” Auston reaches up and plays with the hair o the back of his neck. “I’m also kind of crushing on someone else, so. I guess we’re even.” Auston finds his eyes drifting away and to where Mitch is standing, back up against his car.

Mikey follows Auston’s line of sight. “Oh, buddy. That’s rough. I can see it, though. He’s an easy guy to like.”

“Yeah. I’m trying to get over it, because I want him to be happy and everything, and Willy makes him happy, so.” And, like, Auston and Mikey both seem to be pretty self aware guys, and Auston doesn’t want this night to be a complete waste, so he says, “Hey, do you wanna come back to mine? Just for fun?”

Mikey pauses for a second, and Auston can tell that he’s trying to figure out how much of a bad idea it would be for them to go through with this, so he speaks up. “Or like- if you don’t wanna mess around… we could just hang out and play COD or something. I just thought you wanna might, you know, get Nate off your mind for a night.”

Mikey nods. “Okay, yeah, when you put it like that... I’m very down.” He presses a button on his key, unlocking his car. “Meet you there?”

“See you in ten.”

***

Auston wakes up the next morning with Mikey still in his bed. They’re cuddling which, you know, is kind of weird, given that there are exactly zero feelings between the both of them. But it’s whatever, really, because Mikey is hot, and warm, so Auston really has no reason to complain.

He’s just decided to stay in bed a little longer, to bask in the morning-after contentedness he’s feeling, when his door slams open.

“Hey, Aus, I didn’t see you at all when I got home last night, but I really need to talk to you-” Mitch stops in his tracks, finally noticing the situation. “Oh.”

Mikey groans from his place on Auston’s chest. He mumbles something unintelligible before leaning into Auston more and opening his eyes. “Mmm, hey Mitch.”

“Hi, Mikey. I didn’t realize you stayed the night.”

Mikey lets out another small groan before sitting up and meeting Mitch’s eyes. “Yeah, I mean, it was pretty late by the time I wanted to leave, so. I just didn’t.”

Mitch nods, and says, “makes sense,” but he looks a little out of it. “I’m gonna- I’m gonna go-”

Auston isn’t the biggest fan of how sad and awkward Mitch looks now, and he’s gonna stop him, but Mitch pretty much bolts out of the room, closing the door loudly as he exits.

The sound pierces the now quiet of the room, and it’s dead silent for a second, before Mikey clears his throat. “Mitch seems like he needs someone to talk to, and that someone shouldn’t be me, so… I’m gonna head out.”
Mikey is up and pulling on his old clothes when Auston finally finds his voice again. “Last night was, uh, it was cool, but- you should talk to him. Nate, I mean.” and he worries that he’s overstepped his boundaries a little bit here, but. He had Mikey’s dick in his mouth last night, so they’re pretty much open at this point. “You deserve to be happy for more than just a night at a time.”

“Yeah, uh. I guess you’re right.” Mikey pulls on his shoes as he continues. “And you should talk to Mitch. He looked pretty shaken up earlier.”

Auston gives Mikey a small smile. “Yeah, I’ll put on some pants and go out there in a sec. Later, Mike.”

Mikey smiles back and says, “later, Aus,” and leaves, closing the door behind himself.

The room is quiet when he’s gone, almost suffocatingly so. The apartment as a whole, actually, is insanely still - Auston can’t even hear Mitch in the other room, and that’s so out of character for him that it’s what makes Auston finally pull himself out of bed to get dressed. He can’t hear the usual sounds from Mitch, the small signs that he’s here and just existing in general: music playing through the speaker in the kitchen, a game show playing on the tv, the coffee maker bubbling.

For a second, Auston wonders if Mitch left, if he got tired of waiting on Auston and went to Willy for comfort instead. He hurries to get ready after that.

Auston opens his door carefully, quietly, as to not disturb the tension that’s settled throughout their place. He can’t find Mitch at first, and he worries that he actually did leave as feared, but he spots him eventually, lying face down on the couch.

“Mitchy?” Auston whispers. “What’s wrong?”

Mitch startles at the sound of his voice, but slowly sits up and looks over at Auston. He sounds so small when he says, “Willy broke up with me.”

“Oh, Mitchy.” And, like, sure, it should be kind of good news for Auston that the guy he likes is now single, but. His heart snaps in half when he sees usually loud, happy Mitch looking so despondent.

Auston moves to sit next to Mitch, and put his arm around him. “Did he say why?”
Mitch shifts uncomfortably. “No, he… well, he had a reason, but it was bullshit.”

“What was it?”

“He thinks-” Mitch lets out a shaky breath, and leans out of Auston’s arms. “He said it was because I’m in love with you.”

And, like, justifiably, Auston’s whole world turns upside down. He stays silent for maybe a little too long, kind of trying to process that last bit of information, and Mitch starts to get up.

“I shouldn’t have told you- gosh, this is gonna make everything so weird between us, I’m- I should go.” Mitch stands and tries to walk away, but Auston reaches out and grabs his hand.

“Where did he get that from, Mitch?”

“I don’t know.” Mitch sighs and rubs his hand down his face. He looks away, then makes eye contact with Auston. “He said- the way I look at you. He said I’ve never looked at him like that, and I probably never will. Like I said, it’s bullshit and I’ll get over it. Sorry.”

Auston stands up and crowds in close to Mitch. “Get over who? Willy? Or me?”

“Aus, please, don’t make me-” Mitch tries to move away, but Auston stays close. He has to know.

“Who, Mitch?”

And Auston barely hears the reply, when Mitch goes “You, Auston. It’s always been you.”

Auston’s heart stops, and he reaches his hand up to rest on Mitch’s jaw. “Tell me if you want me to stop,” he whispers, then leans in and presses their lips together.

And, God- this is probably the best kiss Auston has ever been a part of. He can’t tell if it’s just because it’s Mitch, or if Mitch is just a genuinely great kisser (probably both, really) but Auston feels like he’s drowning in the feeling of Mitch’s lips on his.
But he knows they need to stop, and like, discuss this, so he pulls away when Mitch’s hands find their way to his hair, before things can go too far. “Mitchy- I… Please, don’t get over me.”

“Keep kissing me like that, babe, and you’ve got a deal.” Auston knowns Mitch’s hands are playing with the hair at the back of his neck, can feel it, but the only thing on his mind is a loop of babe, babe, babe, babe, he called me babe.

Auston must have the dumbest look on his face, because Mitch laughs and leans up to press a closed lip kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Here, let’s sit down. I think we have a lot to talk about.”