In their first year in the NHL together, Mat had kissed Anthony on the team bus after a particularly exhilarating win. Mat had been wearing a pink tie, a pinstriped suit, and had little elastics in his hair. He was wearing them because he had lost some sort of bet with Anders that he couldn’t even remember what it was now; he was too high on adrenaline, both for the win and from kissing Anthony. He had told Anthony not to tell anyone that they had kissed; Mat was too afraid of the consequences. Anthony, too shocked to do much else, agreed not to tell.
The next day, Anthony chased Mat around the halls of their hotel in Philly while they waited for everyone to be ready for team breakfast. They were running around people and diving around obstacles; the people all gave them dirty looks but Mat and Anthony were having too much fun to care. Anthony had fallen once and scraped his knee on the carpet but he had quickly brushed it off and chased Mat around the fountain in the lobby. John found them chasing each other through the banquet hall. He grabbed them both by the collars of their shirts and dragged them through the hotel to the dining room as if he was their father disciplining them for acting up. Mat and Anthony, being the way they were, laughed the entire way there.
Towards the end of breakfast, Mat had tapped Anthony on the shoulder to grab his attention. When Anthony looked over from where he had been conversing with Nick, Mat quickly slipped him a piece of paper. Unfortunately, Nick had seen the paper and grabbed it before Anthony could. Mat shrunk in his chair as Nick unfolded the paper and scanned what was written on it.
“Voulez-vous aimez moi,” Nick read. Mat saw Anthony bristle at the way Nick pronounced the words. “Je suis tombé amoureux de toi. Tu veux être mon petit copain?”
"Merde et arachide de beurre craquelins, Barzy,” Steve muttered from next to Nick. Steve looked over at Mat. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Les Canadiens de Montréal vu combien Anthony aime toi… et ils sont au Canada! Pourquoi ne t'es tu pas?”
Mat felt his face and the tips of his ears burn red-hot as he looked down at his plate of eggs. When he chanced a glance at Anthony, he noticed that his face was plastered just as red and he looked like he was ready to cry. Mat looked back down at his eggs and he felt shame overcome him
Mat spent the rest of his day at the hotel awkwardly avoiding Anthony. They were normally incredibly talkative and rambunctious with each other. Avoiding him was painful but it felt better than facing the problem in front of their teammates.
As soon as everyone was called down to board the bus, Mat booked it there as quickly as he could. When he boarded, he took his usual seat and hoped that Anthony would still sit with him. Mat got his answer a few moments later when Anthony walked on the bus and up to the seat next to Mat. He sat down and pressed a kiss to Mat's cheek. Mat tensed ever so slightly but relaxed when he saw that Anthony didn't seem worried. He leaned over and pressed a kiss to Anthony's cheek to show that he was appreciative of the gesture.
They sat in awkward silence before Anthony grabbed Mat's hands and soothed his thumbs across his wrists after a few moments. Mat relaxed a little more at that, feeling some of his anxiety wash away. Anthony smiled softly.
“About the message…” Anthony started.
“Forget about it,” Mat interjected. “It was stupid.”
Mat felt shame well in his gut as he tried to duck his head out of view of Anthony's eyes. Anthony took one of his hands and tilted Mat's head back to look at him. Mat squeezed his eyes shut, afraid of what the expression on Anthony's face would be.
“Hey,” Anthony said, softly. “Look at me.”
Mat carefully opened his eyes. He released the nervous breath he had pent up when he saw the fond expression on Anthony's face. Anthony smiled, running his thumb across Mat's cheek. Mat sighed as he leaned into the touch. Anthony hummed as he squeezed Mat's wrist with his other hand.
“Je n'ai pas le message mais... Oui, je t'aime beaucoup," Anthony said, brushing some hair out of Mat's face. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Mat's forehead. Mat smiled and hummed happily. "Je suis tombé amoureux de toi aussi et oui, je veux être ton petit copain."
A smile broke out across Mat's face as he looked at Anthony. He smiled back and pulled him in for a hug. Mat nuzzled his head into the crook of Anthony's neck as they were wrapped in each other's embrace. Anthony ran his arms across Mat's back and Mat hummed softly at the butterfly sensation that blossomed in his stomach.
When they pulled apart, Anthony shifted his position on the seat so that he was shoulder to shoulder with Mat. Mat smiled and leaned his head onto Anthony's shoulder as he normally did for the ride to the arena. Unlike the other times, Anthony slung his arm across Mat's shoulders and placed a kiss on the top of Mat's head. He hummed and nuzzled in closer to Anthony.
“Does this make you my boyfriend,” Mat asked as he glanced up at Anthony the best he could.
Anthony hummed thoughtfully and placed another kiss on the top of Mat's head. He squeezed him closer and Mat shifted slightly to get more comfortable.
After a brief moment of silence, Anthony kissed Mat's forehead and mumbled “Forever and always, mon chéri.”
Mat felt the butterfly sensation blossom in his stomach again as he tilted his head to kiss Anthony's cheek. Anthony hummed as he rested his head atop Mat's. A sense of peace washed over him as he sat there cuddled with Anthony. This felt perfect in every way. It was better than any scenario Mat had imagined in which he told Anthony he loved him.
It was better than all of those scenarios because this was real . Anthony had admitted his own feelings. Anthony was his boyfriend.
Forever and always, mon chéri.