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not quite my cup of tea

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“...It has something in it.”

Cloud blinks, glancing down at the cup in Leon’s hand. “Well, yeah. It’s a beverage, Leon. You drink it.”

If Leon weren’t so fond of this jerk, he’d smack him. “I mean there’s something in my tea.

Leon has always been a bit skeptical of Scrooge McDuck’s business ventures, but Aerith, Tifa and Yuffie had all been excited about this ‘boba’ shop the old duck had been rambling about. It was their pleading that made Leon tentatively agree to rent out a storefront to the place, figuring he might finally find a tea he liked (if they did, in fact, sell tea like they claimed).

But…

Leon can’t help but make a small face as he sees the bottom of his cup is lined with dark balls of...Leon isn’t even sure what they are and he’s regretting ordering the same thing that Cloud did.

“That’s boba.” Cloud takes a sip of his own boba tea and then--to Leon’s horror--chews something. “It’s tapioca. It’s good, I promise.”

Leon purses his lips, giving the tea another apprehensive look.

“Trust me, really. It’s good, it tastes like the tea.”

“But why did anything need to be added to it?” Leon swirls the cup in his hand.

Cloud blinks, frowning as well. “I dunno. It’s not like I invented it.” He sounds at least a little frustrated.

Leon glances back up to the blonde and studies him, suddenly realizing how picky he sounds. To be fair, he does tend to be picky when it comes to foods with strange textures, but Leon tries not to be hard to please with food.

Something about this, though...something here brings out a much more apprehension than usual.

The thing is, this is a date, or so Leon thinks. He and Cloud aren’t--well they aren’t technically an item . Nothing to that degree has been said. But they’ve done little outings like this before, since discussing a mutual attraction--gotten dinner, gotten lunch. Made breakfast. Bought a trinket on another world and brought it back.

So. They’re getting a mid afternoon treat.

A date.

Leon feels the tips of his ears turn red as he realizes he’s picked the worst possible moment to be difficult about food. Of course, he and Cloud usually didn’t worry about each of their little quirks, but sometimes they did still stick out a little too much. Leon knew these things were always of no consequence, but…

Cloud had wanted to visit the shop for a while, but Leon had been too busy to go until now. And here he was, ruining their first real “date” in weeks.

Leon clears his throat. “I...should probably trust your judgement.”

He looks back down to the oversized straw, the pale brown milk tea and the boba waiting at the bottom of the cup. He would stop being picky--he wants Cloud to have a good time. If sucking it up and dealing with something he knew he would hate was what he had to do to be sure it was a good time, then so be it.

Hesitantly, Leon takes a sip. The tea itself is fine, but he has to force himself not to recoil when the boba pearls hit his tongue. As he suspected, the pearls are just as awful as he’d imagined them being. Leon swallows them whole, schooling his expression into something neutral. He glances over at Cloud, unsurprised to find that the blonde is watching to gauge his reaction.

Leon smiles faintly, hoping to reassure Cloud that he is enjoying himself.

Cloud huffs. “Why did I know you’d hate boba?”

Leon feels his face flush. After a moment, he murmurs a quiet, “...Was it that obvious?”

Cloud gives him an unimpressed look. “The constipated expression gave you away.”

Leon’s face burns with embarrassment. He sets the tea on the railing before him, unable to meet Cloud’s eyes. “Sorry. I wanted to like it.”

A long pause settles between them. Leon feels bad for ruining what had been a good afternoon--being a stick in the mud, as Yuffie might say.

A hand reaches out and snatches up his tea. Leon blinks, turning to find Cloud ripping up the seal for the plastic on top and taking a spoon to the boba. Carefully, the blonde dumps each boba pearl into his own open tea cup, handing Leon’s cup back once he’s done. Leon takes it, confused.

Cloud flicks Leon on the nose, very lightly. “Next time, just order it without any toppings, dummy.”

Leon meets Cloud’s eyes, not sure how to describe the soft, warm feeling that settles in his chest. He instead leans over, bumping Cloud’s shoulder and taking a much happier sip of his tea.

“Next time.”