Amongst the noise of the movie, the hum of cars outside, and the pattering rain, Schneider hears the creak of floorboards in the kitchen, joined by the clinking of a spoon against the inside of a ceramic mug. The auditory combination is somehow soothing as he lounges on his couch, wearing only sweatpants with a blanket around his bare shoulders. His entire body aches and his head is foggy, nose runny and eyes heavy with exhaustion. He barely has the energy and awareness to pay attention to the movie that Paul put on earlier. He feels like sleeping again, but a certain someone insisted on keeping him company.
The approach of footsteps earns his weak gaze. Paul comes pacing in from the adjoined kitchen of Schneider’s apartment, cupping a mug carefully in his hands, his eyes trained on it, making absolute certainty it won’t spill on the way over to Schneider. Unlike Schneider, he’s fully dressed. He’s wearing that awfully obnoxious orange hoodie with the sleeves that are a bit too long, joined by comfortable black jeans. When he reaches Schneider, he slowly sets it on the coffee table before the other man and then gestures to it with a hand while smiling at him.
“One hot chocolate for my bestest friend in the whole world,” Paul wryly says with a grin, earning an unamused look from Schneider, who then sniffles pointedly.
“Calling me your ‘bestest friend’ won’t make this better, nor will your,” Schneider pauses, peers into the contents of the mug, and then says blankly, “Unnecessarily sweet and cancer-inducing hot chocolate. Paul, I don’t need marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles in my hot chocolate.”
“Sure you do,” Paul remarks, dropping onto the couch beside him and boldly draping his arm on the couch behind the other man. Schneider squints at him and closes the blanket tighter around himself. Paul’s grin softens to a slight, apologetic smile.
“It’s not like ‘sorry’ will make you forgive me, either.”
“You’re right. It wouldn’t.”
“I was just messing around! I didn’t think you would get sick from it!”
“What makes you think I even wanted to play around in dirty puddles on the sidewalk?”
“Did you really think I could ignore those massive puddles? They were asking to be leapt into, okay? You just received the collateral damage.”
“By being your friend? Yes, always.”
Paul rolls his eyes and then grins. He nudges the other unamused man on the arm and says, “Just drink your hot chocolate! I made it just for you!”
Schneider glances back towards the mug again, warily.
“That will only serve to make me sicker. Why don’t you make me some tea, and you take the hot chocolate?”
“At least try it. I know you got a sweet tooth,” Paul pouts, pulling that damn kicked puppy face. Schneider stares at him with a frown, reluctant and debating, before he sighs and reaches for the mug. Paul watches, grinning, as he raises it to his mouth. Schneider peers over at him as he takes a drink of the sugary concoction—the whipped cream leaves a white spot on his nose when he withdraws the mug and places it back down on the coffee table. It’s cute.
Paul grins broadly, laugh lines accentuated, and reaches out to swipe it off with a thumb. Schneider weakly bats him away with a wave of his hand while saying, “Alright, it was good. You make the best hot chocolate, Paul. Now go make me some tea.”
Pleased, Paul’s grin softens to a smile, his expression warm. He nods dutifully, dramatically, and then rises from the couch with energy to do so.