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Burst Your Bubble

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Leon was once again grumbling at his desk due to something or other in this neon clad world they lived in wronging him and, as his partner and friend, Daley felt it was his duty to try and cheer him up. So he did what he always did: flirted with him. He knew it was nothing serious and so did Leon and that's why it worked, no matter what rumors flew around the office because of it. He got an overly sweet drink from the dirt-old vending machine and wandered over with one hand in his pocket before sitting down on the man's desk. “Hey babe, don't mess up that pretty face by frowning.”

Leon’s eyes focused on him from where he had been staring off into space, blinking owlishly. Daley tossed the man the drink and he caught it. “Ah, trying to ply me with sweets I see. Don't you know my love can't be bought?” He cracked open the can while smiling lecherously. “Well, I can't be bought cheap.” He took a drink and relaxed. It wasn't coffee but it helped. He then remembered why he was frustrated in the first place and he tensed up again. “Ugh.”

Daley leaned back on the desk and crossed his arms. “What’s up? Boss on you again?”

“Yeah, only you can do that. right?” His smile dropped as he found he wasn't in the mood anymore and his partner was actually being serious. “Not this time. It’s Priss again.”

“Date last night didn't go well?” He tilted his head sympathetically. Leon set his head on the desk and sighed as an answer. They sat there in silence for a moment. “There there Leon, just tell your good old partner how the mean woman hurt you.”

The usually cool operator sat up sharply and threw up his hands. “She stood me up! Again! And I just was left there at the restaurant all night getting sad, sad looks from the waitresses.” He put his hand on his face as he leaned forward on his desk once more.

Daley shifted. “Did you actually tell her it was a date, then she agreed, and then you agreed on a date and time?” He didn't want to treat his partner like an idiot but he knew the man could jump the gun when it came to wooing women.

He spread his arms emphatically. “Yah! I made sure! And she never even showed. I had the whole night off and everything. Wasted.” He whined the last few words and put his face back down on the desk.

Daley signed and pat the man's head sympathetically. “Poor Leon. You know stuff like this wouldn't happen if you just dated me.” It was a joke. He had meant it as a joke. Like the several others he had been making in the previous entire conversation. But then Leon stood up suddenly and he wondered if he had gone too far. If maybe Leon had heard the half hope behind his words.

“You know what? Your right?” He pointed at his partner sharply.

Daley leaned forward and blinked, his casual demeanor cracking slightly as his heart rate picked up. “I am?”

Leon punched his palm. “Yeah! Serves her right if I start dating someone else. If she sees me with someone else she’ll realise how much she really loves me and then she’ll be sorry.”

The redhead tried not to show his disappointment on his face. Of course Leon didn't really mean it. Well, it was the closest he would ever get so why not? He hid his disappointment under jokes, like always. He had to play along now or the whole game would be up. “I'll have you know I'm not a cheap date. Only the finest middle class restaurant will get to my heart.”

The hot headed detective slammed his hands on the desk on either side of Daley and got very close to his face. The red haired man leaned back slightly, his face only showing genuine emotion for a second of surprise before going back to cockyness. Leon's face never left its electric grin. “Of course! Only the okayest for my date. I’ll pick you up at six?”

Daley smiled smoothly as his eyes lidded. “Sure, babe.”

Leon leaned in slightly and Daley thought he might kiss him for a moment but then he pushed himself off the desk and stood up again, grabbed his drink. “See you then partner.” He knocked back his drink and winked, walking backwards. “Wear something nice.” And with that he turned around to most likely go have another ‘calm’ talk with their boss.

Daley sighed and shook his head, trying to calm his heart rate. He had the feeling he'd just make a huge mistake.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Daley straightened his tie and looked at himself in the mirror. Alright. You can do this. It's only a kind of real, kind of fake date with your best friend and the man you've been not so subtly crushing on for years. It’ll be fine. He heard his com ring and he picked it up to read the message. It was from Leon telling him he was outside. He took another deep breath and tried to relax. Just keep it loose. It was like any other day at the office with them bantering back and forth. He made his way down the steps quickly and spotted his partner leaning on his bike. Ah. The bike. He hadn’t thought about the bike. He smiled easily through his anxiety and waved back before putting his hands in his pocket and walking up to the man. “Hey Lee. Nice sunglasses. Real bright night we’re having.”

Leon smirked at him before pulled out a helmet and tossing it to him. “It’s only ‘cause your so radiant.”

Daley had to concede that was a good comeback as he looked at his reflection in the hamlet, making sure he had not reddened at the comment. “Ah, always so caring about my safety.” He put the helmet on and sat on the bike.

“Well, you always try and get me to be more careful with the boomers.” Leon got on the bike in front of him.

“Try is the main word there.” Daley said, tilted his head.

Leon turned the bike on and stood it up, jolting Daley slightly. “Eh, enough about work. We're here to have fun. Hold on sweet cheeks.”

Daley did as he was told, wrapping his arms around the man as he put his feet up on the pegs. The bike sped up swiftly, making him hold a bit too tight to his partner as the man weaved through traffic more then perhaps he should have. He got lost in thought as he watched the neon lights streak by and the wind whiped at his jacket. He forgot sometimes how strong Leon really was, but now that he could feel all his muscles tense up, he remembered that lugging the large anti-boomer gun couldn’t really be done without building up some strength.

They raced down the roads and as they went deeper into the city, Daley wondered where they were going. He did hope Leon wasn't going to take him some place really fancy. That might take the joke to far.

Yeah. This was just a joke. Just a way to get back at Priss. He held tighter and tried to focus on leaning into the various turns the bike made instead of his increasingly complicated relationship with the man driving.

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Thankfully, the restaurant was just what Leon said it would be. The okayest place on the block. Leon slid his arm around him while asking to be seated and it was subtle enough the Daley was almost impressed. He was better at this then the redhead thought he would be. They sat down and he ordered some pasta while Leon ordered cake.

Daley didn't say anything until the waitress brought over breadsticks and his partner started eating them like he was starving. He blinked slightly surprised. “Uh, you sure you don't want any actual food?” He was aware of Leon’s horrible eating habits but he'd always just assumed it was because he didn't have time for full meals on the job. Did he just eat like this all the time? How was he alive? The ladykiller blinked up at him through a mouthful of bread. He tried to backtrack and turn it into a joke. “How can you be my trophy husband if you keep eating like that?”

Leon smiled goofily and something tugged at his partners heart as it was a little to genuine. “What? You think I’m the trophy husband? Obviously, you would be my trophy husband.” He stopped and realised that wasn't really an insult, and actually the complete opposite, as Daley blinked back at him. “Uh.” The brown ue haired man blushed slightly and went back to shoving bread in his face. “Shud up.”

Daley put up his hands innocently, happy that his blush wasn't alone any more. “I didn't say anything.” Leon glared at him in false anger and he laughed. “But really, is this how you eat all the time? How are you still alive?”

The voracious man swallowed down a too-big mouthful of bread and glared at him. “Spite.” He then took another sharp bite and Daley wondered if he could grab a stick before they were all gone before deciding he valued his fingers to much.

He snorted at the ferocity with which it was said. “I figured.” He tapped on the table and let his eyes scan over Leon unabashedly for a few seconds. They were ‘dating’ after all. He looked nice, but he always looked like that. “So, how exactly is Priss going to find out about this to be jealous?” He hated to say it, but he needed to remind himself this wasn't real. Not the kind of real he wanted it to be.

Leon hummed and stared off to the side. “Well, it sounds stupid when I say it, but we kind of just run into each other a lot. I was half expecting her to just show up and see. If that fails, I figured I'd just let the rumour mill do its work or maybe take a picture. You know, leave some kind of digital trail.”

Daley hated to say it, but the man was planning this out better then most of the plans he made before getting into fights with boomers. “Solid.” He was about to say something else but the food came and he dropped the thought.

They had been eating for a while and making small talk, interspersed with disturbingly less and less double entendres as they went on, before they hit a lull and Daley hummed as his eyebrows furrowed. “If your eating cake now, then what are you going to have for dessert?” It was a genuine question but as soon as he said it he realised how it could be read. Leon looked at him with his fork in his mouth, giving him elevator eyes before winking at him.

Daley felt his face heat up and shoved more pasta into his mouth trying to think of a joking come back. He said it quieter than the rest of the banter, almost to himself. “Awfully presumptuous of you. It's not even been one date.” Leon smiled smoothly but didn't respond.

This was a huge mistake. He had been right.

But, it was fine. He would just get through his and then decline if he wanted to try again. This didn't have to be him. His partner could try to make Priss jealous with any other person. What was he even thinking about crushing on his partner anyway? Leon was straight and he was competing with a popstar. He just drank his water and tried to move the conversation back to safe territory.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The check came and they both went for their wallets. Leon held out his hand. “Hey wait, I’ll pay. I asked you out.” He couldn't help being reminded of his first date with Priss.

Daley tilted his head. “That's debatable. I suggested it.”

Leon humed as he was technically right. “Let’s just go dutch.”

“Perfect.” Daley smiled.

They paid and walked out. Daley stretched lazily trying to crack his back from sitting in that stiff booth for so long. He didn't notice Leon looking at him as he stretched. The redhead’s voice got slightly softer as they walked to the bike. “Thanks for this. It was nice.”

Leon stuttered slightly, rubbing the back of his neck. “O-oh it was nothing. You want to go home now?” Again, Leon was reminded of his date with Priss and how she rushed out after she had finished eating.

The redhead noted the odd tone in his voice, like Leon didn't want him to go home. He shrugged. “I don't have to. Not that late. You have someplace in mind?”

Leon lite up, but tried to play it off. “Well, there's this little park nearby with real trees and everything.”

“Real trees?” Daley was slightly shocked.

“Yeah. Come on, let's go.” He got on the bike and handed Daley his helmet. A short ride later they were in a rather deserted part of town. Leon parked his bike in an ally before looking around the street. “Hm...I thought it was around here somewhere.” Daley shook his head at his partner but couldn't find it in himself to be mad at him, even if his was a wild goose chase. The quiet street with the sound of the city in the distance was the perfect background noise for Daley to watch him. He might as well enjoy this if it was the only time anything like this would ever happen. “Ah!” He was snapped out of his starring by Leon’s exclamation. He was worried he'd been caught for second but then found the man's eyes were locked on a steel gate with a small sign on it.

Tree Garden
Free to the Public
Tours Daily

The gate was locked but they just shared a look before easily jumping over the fence and onto...grass. The softness under his feet made Daley feel odd stepping on it. The ‘garden’ was really just a small former backyard with a tree in the middle and several flowers around the edge.

Even in the dark, it was amazing. Daley couldn't stop himself from staring awestruck at it all. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen this much foliage in one place. He reached out and touched the bark. It was rough but not painful, mystifying him that this thing was alive and yet he couldn't imagine it not being. He again didn't notice Leon staring at him as he stared at the tree.

The quiet was broken as Leon’s com went off, startling them both. He picked it up to look at it. Daley retracted his hand from the tree. “Work?” He tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Leon looked at the screen. It was from Priss.

‘Sorry I ditched you yesterday, something really important came up.
Want to do something tonight after my concert ends?’

He stared at the white letters on the screen. His fingers moved to answer in the affirmative but then he stopped. Did he...really want to? “Uhhhh…” He looked at Daley and then back at the phone before putting it in sleep mode and shoving it back on his belt. “Naw, just spam.” He turned back to his...partner, who smiled, happy that he didn't have to leave.

“Good. You deserve a night off.” He bumped against Leon and they both smiled. They looked at the trees leaves rustled slightly in the wind. “I never realised trees made noise.”

Leon hummed in agreement and fiddled with the com on his belt. “Oh hey, we should take a picture.”

Daley blinked. “Oh yeah, your electric trail.”

Leon shrugged. “Y-yeah. Sure.”

He held his com out in front of them and they moved closer together. Their smiles looked weird on the tiny screen. Daley elbowed him. “Lighten up Lee, you're only in a dark garden in the middle of the night surrounded by slowly creeping plants.”

Leon snorted and both of their smiles turned real as he took the picture. He looked at the photo and sent it to Daley subtly before putting the com onto his belt again. “Ah, it's always the slow ones that get you.” They stood and looked around a bit longer before Leon's stomach made a noise.

“What? Are you telling me all that cake and bread wasn't enough?” His partner teased.

Jean bumped into him. “Shut up man.”

Daley pulled out his own com and hit a few buttons. “Ah. There's a bunch of food truck nearby we could get some real food for you. I’ll treat.”

Leon looked at him with shining eyes. It seemed like food really was the way to anyone's heart. He smirked. “I'm not sure that stuff really counts as real food.”

The redhead started walking back to the gate, still looking at his com and sending the coordinates to Leon so he could drive there. He got to the gate and noticed Leon was still lagging behind him. He turned around questioningly. “You coming, or you want to try and eat the tree?”

Leon blinked at him as if he had been thinking about something. His face slipped easily back into a smile as he walked towards him. “Don't tempt me.”

He got to the gate and Daley motioned for him to go first. “Age before beauty.”

Leon scoffed. “You just want to watch my ass as I go over.” Was what he said, but he started climbing over anyway.

Daley shrugged as he started to go up after him. “Can I help if I am a connoisseur of fine art?”

Leon barked out a laugh and Daley did to but it was cut off as he caught his foot on the top of the fence and pitched over with a small yell. Luckily Leon caught him before he face planted directly into the concrete. He let out a breath of relief and looked up at the man still holding him up. “Thanks.” Their faces were rather close together. Luckily, he wasn't wearing his stupid sunglasses so Daley could actually see his eyes. They looked pretty.

The two of them lingered like this a little to long before Leon blinked and stood up, mostly letting go of him. “No problem. I see your really falling for me.”

“You wish.” Daley huffed out before winking and going to move forward to where they parked the bike, but he stopped as he found Leon was still holding onto his hand. He blinked at it and then looked around. Was there someone around he was trying to show off to? No, it looked like they were completely alone. He looked back at Leon confused. Leon wasn’t looking at him. “Uh, not that I'm complaining, but you can let go now.”

Leon’s hand seemed to loosen for a second before tightening again. “No. This is fine.”

Daley blinked. “Ah. Okay. Sure.” He didn't even have a joke for this. He could feel the calesses on his hands from where his gun always rubbed when he shot it. Was Leon...being serious about this? Leon being serious about anything was a rarity but about something like this was even more so.

They started walking to the bike slowly hand in hand. There was some kind of unsure suffocating feeling that wasn't there before between them. Daley was just reading too much into this, right? Leon had made it very clear this was just to get back at Priss. Just a joke. This was all a joke. But for the first time in their long partnership of bantering and lewd remarks this didn't feel like a joke. Hell, most of this night hadn’t felt like a joke.

The awkward silence finally ended as they got to the bike and had to disconnect.

Daley cleared his throat. “I sent you the location of the food trucks. It's not to far.”

Leon just hummed as he got on the bike and connected his com to it before they started driving again. Daley was getting the hang of this now as he leaned into the man’s turns. He let his mind wander to what was happening. Did Leon really want to date him or was this just all part of the plan? Would he give himself away by even asking?

They finally made it to the small parking lot filled with a ring of trucks and a decent crowd. Leon parked and kicked down the kickstand before getting off. Daley could tell he was tense as he moved sharply. Somehow, he didn't think that his usual method of jokingly flirting would work this time. He just had to pretend everything was fine and find an opportune moment to see if he could bring it up, hoping whatever this was wouldn't end up ruining their partnership. He set his helmet on the bike and leaned on it next to Leon. “So, what kind of food were you thinking?”

His partner rolled his shoulders and didn't look at him, opting instead to look at the trucks. “Hm...the fried waffle truck looks good.”

Daley huffed. “B-” He stopped himself from using the term of endearment. “Lee, the whole point of this was real food. Burn those words into your brain. Read. Food.”

Leon loosened up as he defended himself and finally looked at his partner. “They have chicken and waffles. That’s real food!”

“And you’re really going to get chicken and waffles when they also have a waffle sunday?” The redhead looked at him slyly.

Leon's head snapped to the truck in shock and awe. “They have that?”

Daley groaned and ran and hand down his face. “Why did I open my big mouth?”

His partner leaned closer like he was telling a secret. “Do you think I could get a chicken and waffle sunday?”

The red haired man blinked slowly as if carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. “I think these vendors will do whatever you ask. They are bound by no laws of god or man. Or health code violation.”

Leon was already off like the shot towards the truck and Daley just sighed and walked after him slowly. At least it seemed like the tension had eased. Maybe they would both just forget about it.

He ordered a chocolate covered chicken and waffles. Daley just ordered some bubble tea from a different truck. The prices were actually pretty reasonable. He didn't want to think about why that was. They sat on a nearby bench, a slight distance away from the crowd around the trucks. He sipped on his tea contemplatively as Leon immediately started eating the waffle whole, burning his mouth in the process. “Ah, hath! Fucg.” He stuck in tongue out and pouted.

Daley tried not to laugh at his partners pain, but it was hard with the face he was making. “Aww, want me to kiss it better?” He asked without thinking because that's what he normally would have said. He almost choked on his tea. Fuck, they just got back to being normal to.

Leon stared at him like a deer in headlights with his tongue out but still tried to banter. “Psh. Yeah right. I mean. No. Uh.” He stared at his waffle with a weird false grin on his face. He went on his old standby and shoved his face full of food again. “Ish fine.”

Daley sighed and leaned forward. “Leon.”

Leon hunched over and swallowed the chocolate covered chicken. “I’m fine.”

“No Lee, something’s wrong.” He stared pointedly at his partner until he finally looked at him reluctantly. “Look.” He tapped on his cup contemplating what to say next. “I’m sorry. I know you said this was all to get back at Priss and it was all a joke but I have to ask. Is it? Say so and I’ll drop it, but I want to make sure.”

Leon didn't like serious conversation, especially not with people like Daley who joked so much. He contemplated taking another bite of his waffle to draw this out even more before finally settling on a half answer. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” Daley proded as his heart thumped against his ribcage.

The usually cool man leaned back on the bench and stared into his waffle some more. He wondered if he could ask for sprinkles next time. “It started as what you said, just a joke to try and get Priss to pay attention but then...I had fun. More fun than I usually have on dates actually. Maybe it’s because I’m not actually friends with any of the girls before I date them. This felt easy. No stress. Then Priss messaged…”

Daley blinked and interrupted him without thinking. “Priss messaged?”

“Yeah, when we were in the garden. She asked if I wanted to do something tonight after her concert and that's when I realised I kind of wanted to stay with you more then go on a date with her.”

Daley felt his heart clench. He gave up a date with Priss? For him? Even if it wasn't Priss, him passing up a chance on any date was unheard of. “But...I thought that was the whole point of this.”

Leon clenched his teeth. “Yeah. It was. But it changed. I know this isn't what you signed up for. I’m sorry. I didn't...think I was like this, but somewhere along the way it started feeling like a real date. I started feeling like it was a real date.”

They sat in silence for a while, listening to the far away crowd and sounds of the city as they both stared off into the middle distance. Daley's heart felt like it was going to explode. Leon actually might want to date? The hopes he had been trying to keep down all night were suddenly shooting through the roof and making his head dizzy. He took another drink of his tea to solve his suddenly dry mouth. “So.” He looked back at Leon and tried to catch his eye. “Do you want to try this for real, then?”

Leon blinked at him in surprise before leaning forward again and even in the dim light Daley could see his blush. “You want to? Uh...Sure. Definitely. I’m up to try.” He smiled in disbelief.

Daley’s smile widened as he laughed nervously. “Great. Wow, we’re going to have to change so much about how we act at work. I'm not sure how the other guys will take it.” His sarcasm levels were through the roof.

Leon tried to grit his teeth but ended up laughing anyway. “Yah, the shock might kill them.”

They both laughed loudly before lapsing back into silence again, but it was easy this time as they sat next to each other, a little closer than before. Leon eventually finished his waffle and tried to toss the rapper into the nearby trashcan, missing by only about ten feet. “So.” He said getting up to throw it out normally, like someone who can't throw. “What do we do now?”

Daley siped the last of his tea and moved the straw around to make sure he got all the bubbles. “You mean like with our lives or…?”

Leon rolled his eyes. “More immediate than that. I still feel too wired to go home. It's not that late anyhow.”

If Leon had said this a day ago, he would have made some comment about how he knew a great way to burn off some energy, but now he felt like he didn't really want to go that route yet. “Hmm...didn't Priss say she was doing a concert tonight? Could we make it?”

Leon blinked at him as he threw away his cup. “You wanna go see Priss? Thought you hated that retro stuff.”

“Yeah, well…” He slung his arm around Leon's neck. “Gotta stake my claim, ya’know? Can't have her getting any ideas about my man.”

Leon reddened and laughed again. “Is this how this is going to be the whole time?”

Daley raised an eyebrow. “This is actually less saucey then what we say normally.”

Leon shrugged. “Eh, ya got a point.” He looked at his watch. “If I bend a few traffic laws, we can just make it.”

Daley unhooked his arm and made his way towards the bike. “Let's bounce, then.”

Leon slide onto the vehicle and started towards the venue, the warmth of the man at his back keeping away the chill off the wind whipping past him. He’d never done something like this but it didn't feel that different as there relationship before. It was the same but better. Why hasn't he thought of this earlier?

He felt like he could take a boomer in a fist fight but he guessed he'd just have to be happy with taking Daley to a concert. And he was.