“You have everything packed right?” Auston asked, voice a bit muffled through the Discord call.
Mitch frowned, looking over his list and digging through the contents of his suitcase, “I think so. But it’s only two weeks so I’ll be fine if I forgot.”
Auston sighed dejectedly, “I wish you were here for more than two weeks, I already miss you.”
“Miss me? I’m not even there yet.”
“Yeah,” Auston trailed off, and Mitch stayed quiet, letting the other boy gather his thoughts, “but I’ve, we’ve, waited for so long, two weeks just feels so unreasonably short.”
While he didn’t want to say it out loud and make Auston feel worse, Mitch couldn’t help but agree, “I know, but cheer up, we still have two whole weeks.”
“You’re right,” Auston conceded, yawning loudly into the mic a few seconds later.
Shaking his head fondly, Mitch grabbed his phone and dropped into his desk chair, “Get some rest, Aus. I’ll be leaving for the airport soon.”
“How am I supposed to sleep without you?” he whined.
Mitch knew he was joking, or at least half joking, because he’d grown very reliant on their sleep calls too, “I don’t know, just put on one of our videos or something.”
“I’ll go watch a VOD,” Auston mused and Mitch heard typing in the background as Auston started looking.
“Hey,” Mitch called out to get his attention, “make sure it’s on my channel, not a reupload somewhere else.”
Auston scoffed, “You don’t need me to pad your revenue.”
Pouting, Mitch responded, “I thought you were my biggest fan.”
“You know I’m your biggest fan,” Auston reassured, voice softer than he probably intended, and Mitch melted a little at his words, but he played along, willing to finish out the bit.
“Can’t even count on my best friend to support me monetarily.”
“I’m literally subbed to you on every possible channel and platform. Whenever you help me code something and I put it on Patreon I give you a cut of the profit. Hell, I’ve bought your merch,” Auston defended, exasperated.
“And I love you for that,” Mitch soothed, “I’m only joking.”
Auston’s voice softened, “I know, and I have your channel pulled up, don’t worry.”
“Good, you know according to YouTube statistics, most viewers aren’t actually subscribed, so if you see a big red subscribe button, you should click it,” Mitch joked, spinning in his chair a few times, trying to keep himself from laughing.
“For that, I’m unsubscribing.”
“No, Aus,” Mitch groaned dramatically, “whatever will I do without your subscription.”
“Well considering you just had a fucking meltdown,” Auston started, but Mitch cut him off.
“Meltdown seems a bit... dramatic. ”
Auston finally gave up, and Mitch heard his desk chair creak as he leaned back, “All jokes aside, Mitchy, I really can’t wait to see you.”
“Me too, Aus. I’m expecting a big hug.”
“I think I can do that for you, Mitch.”
“I’d sure hope so considering I’m the one flying across the damn ocean.”
“Hey, you lost rock paper scissors fair and square.”
Mitch’s lips twitched and he sighed, “I know, you won’t let me forget it.”
“Someone has to keep you humble.”
Mitch had been to the States before, and he wasn’t actually from London originally, but it had been a long time since he’d gone anywhere outside the UK, much less Europe. He was a little nervous as he sat on the plane, headphones in and songs from a playlist Auston made him playing softly.
The trip was almost 14 hours long, and he was only about 4 hours in and unable to sleep, thoughts consumed with Auston who he’d never met in person and only ever seen on video chat a handful of times despite them being friends for years .
Mitch had a screenshot from one of their few video calls on his phone, though it was months outdated, he hoped he’d be able to actually recognize the other boy there to pick him up when he landed.
“It’s a privacy thing,” Auston always told him, “I share so much personal shit about myself and my past, they don’t really need to see my face.”
Mitch couldn’t fault him for that, and he didn’t, Auston’s decisions weren’t for Mitch to question, but he did wonder from time to time why Auston didn’t show Mitch his face more. In the grand scheme of things, he guessed he’d be happy with voice calls for the rest of his life if it meant spending time with Auston in any capacity.
You’re seeing him soon . The voice in the back of his head kept reminding him, and despite that comfort, he just wanted to sleep, at least time would go by faster. Mitch almost regretted making fun of Auston about the VOD idea because he would’ve loved to have one of Auston’s downloaded.
The lady next to him was asleep, had been for at least two hours, and Mitch was jealous. He leaned his forehead against the window despite them being too high and it being too dark for him to actually see anything. Another hour dragged and eventually, thankfully, his eyes started to shut and he fell asleep.
He slept longer than he expected, and by the time he woke up, they were 5 hours closer to the Chicago airport for their single pitstop. It wasn’t as dark, the sun starting to rise below them, and the lady next to him gasped in her sleep and jerked awake, startling him.
“Fuck,” she muttered, pushing the mask over her eyes up, and Mitch realized she was much closer to his age than he could originally tell with a sleep mask covering half her face. The lady, no, girl, cleared her throat and glanced over at him apologetically, “Sorry for startling you.”
“All good,” he reassured, voice cracking from disuse.
She froze at his voice, eyes widening as she actually looked at him, “Holy shit, you’re Mitch Marner.”
“I,” he was startled again, “yeah.”
“I love your videos, all your plugin ideas are super creative.”
Mitch blinked a few times, trying to gather his thoughts, “Oh, thanks. A lot of it is Auston though.”
She waved his words away, “Sure, but you do the coding part.”
Which was true to an extent, they did it together, but he did a lot of the heavy lifting on the technical side while Auston handled most of the creative parts. She shifted in her seat and dropped the fan pretenses, plugging a set of headphones into her phone, ready to ignore him again. Mitch was grateful, he knew that there were fans out there, but he’d never really encountered any himself.
After a few seconds of gathering his thoughts, Mitch picked a new playlist and went back to staring out the window, excited to tell Auston about the girl sitting next to him. He thought Auston would probably get a bit of a kick out of it since he knew for a fact Auston wouldn’t have had any fan encounters yet.
When they got off the plane for it to refuel in Chicago, Mitch slung his backpack over his shoulder and found an empty chair in a corner near an outlet so he could charge his phone. He wasn’t sure, but he felt like people were staring at him, and it made him feel like he was the main character in some romcom. Of course, Auston wasn’t his boyfriend, but the sentiment stood all the same.
Not even five minutes later, the girl from before dropped down in the empty seat next to him and offered up half a sandwich she’d bought from the food stand right next to their gate. He took it wordlessly, stomach growling, and took a bite.
“Thanks,” he told her after he finished chewing.
“No problem. Consider it me making it up to you that I’m not subbed on Twitch.”
Mitch snorted, and she beamed, taking a bite herself. A few seconds later, he asked, “Are you at least subscribed on YouTube, it’s free you know.”
Her lips twitched as she fought a smile, “I’m not. Being a statistic is thrilling.”
“You could be in the minority.”
“I could, but what’s the fun in that?”
Mitch huffed, “Fair enough I guess,” he paused for a few seconds, “I’ll make you a VIP in my chat.”
Eyes widening, she smirked, “You’re bribing me for a YouTube sub?”
“I suppose I am.”
“It worked, I’ll do it now.”
She picked up her phone and took it off airplane mode, opening up YouTube quickly to go to his channel. He watched over her shoulder shamelessly, lips quirking up when he saw she’d watched most of his recent videos.
“Thank you,” he said when she finally subscribed.
“Bribery will get you everywhere.”
Mitch’s eyebrows furrowed, “I think you mean flattery.”
“No, I meant what I said.”
They fell silent, both looking down at their own phones before Mitch sat up straight, “Oh, I meant what I said too, I’ll make you VIP if you just give me your twitch user.”
She grinned, “It’s deserved, I’ve been watching since your first stream.”
Mitch hummed as he typed her username into his notes, “A parasocial relationship.”
“I actually don’t like you, but go off I guess.”
“I love my fans.”
“Slash parasocial,” she added, putting her headphones in with a smile, “okay, I’m done boosting your ego, ignore me for the rest of the trip.”
With a laugh, Mitch looked away, opening up his messages to see if he had anything from Auston. He did and Mitch’s grip tightened, fondness gripping his chest as he read over it.
woke up early for you mitchy
Mitch responded, smiling.
aus why, i just got to the US
The typing bubble appeared almost instantly and stayed for a few seconds before disappearing again. Mitch’s eyebrows furrowed as it happened twice more before he finally got a response.
excited and didn’t want to oversleep and miss it
He didn’t know what to say to that, eyes burning a little as he stared at it. Luckily, the speakers crackled to life and called for his flight to reboard the newly fueled and checked over plane. Jumping to his feet, Mitch turned his phone back onto airplane mode and packed his stuff back to get back onto the plane. One stop closer to Auston.
The rest of the flight went quickly, Mitch not wanting to go back to sleep and fuck up the sleep schedule anymore than jetlag would already. He wanted to be awake as much as possible in the two weeks he was spending in Phoenix.
After thirty minutes of staring out the window, Mitch pulled his laptop out to work on a video he was meant to be editing. He was struggling to figure out a few of the things Auston mumbled for the captions he was adding.
The girl next to him looked up from her book and over his shoulder a few times while he worked, straining forward as if getting closer to the computer would let him hear better. Mitch, surprisingly, didn’t mind, and when the plane started to descend he’d pretty much finished up the captioning for the parts he’d pieced together already.
He was a little surprised she hadn’t brought up Auston, but he was grateful. No one knew he was going to visit, it was supposed to be a surprise, and Mitch assumed she’d yet to leak it on Twitter considering Auston hadn’t sent him any messages.
The plane landed and he stood, stretching. She waved one last time, “It was really nice to meet you, Mitch. I really appreciate all the work you put into your content, you’ve really helped a ton of people, me included.”
Mitch blinked, pleasantly surprised, and his eyes burned a little. He held his arms open, offering, in case she would appreciate a hug, and clearly she did because a few seconds later, her arms were wrapped tightly around his torso.
“Have fun with Auston,” she muttered, giving him one last smile before slipping into the aisle.
He would, he decided, and suddenly the butterflies were back in his stomach, Auston was closeby. The aisle was mostly clear when he stepped out, the back of the plane empty. He nodded at the flight attendants and stepped into the humid airport.
It surprised him, he knew it was hot in Arizona, but he didn’t expect it inside the building. Mitch followed the signs to baggage claim to grab his luggage. While he waited for the carousel to start, Mitch took his phone off airplane mode and opened his messages.
do you want me to park and meet you inside or wait in the pickup lane?
Thirty minutes later, not too long before he landed, Auston had sent another message.
i parked, i’ll wait inside because i want to hug you
And suddenly the bags weren’t moving fast enough. He wandered around, closer to the start of the conveyor to grab his bag as soon as possible. As soon as he spotted it, Mitch was pushing forward to the front of the group, ignoring the annoyed grunts when he accidentally bumped people.
“Sorry,” he tossed over his shoulder as he moved away, feeling a bit bad, but Auston was waiting, he was close.
Mitch dodged people, weaving in and out of the crowd toward the exit doors, and when he got close, he spotted him. Auston was clearly trying to look inconspicuous, leaning against a wall, hands shoved deep into his pockets, looking down at his phone. He looked mostly the same as the picture Mitch had saved on his phone, just a little bit broader, jawline a bit sharper.
Speeding up, Mitch called out when he got closer, “Aus!”
Head shooting up, Auston’s face split into a grin, “Mitchy!”
They crashed into each other, Auston’s arms squeezing him so tight he almost lifted Mitch off the ground. It felt so good finally getting to touch him, and Mitch’s stomach turned, though not unpleasantly.
“It’s so good to finally see you,” Mitch whispered into his neck.
“It really is.”
They walked toward the exit, Auston’s arm a heavy weight across Mitch’s shoulders. He was overwhelmed; Mitch had dreamt of meeting Auston for years, not quite as long as they’d been friends, but for a while. There they were, and he suddenly didn’t know what to say.
“Hey, guess what happened on the trip.”
Auston hummed, “Tell me.”
“I met a fan. She was super chill.”
“I’m glad it didn’t blow up in your face,” Auston teased, reaching up to ruffle Mitch’s hair.
Leaning away, Mitch huffed, “Yeah, I guess I’m just surprised. Like I could see you meeting fans and stuff, if they knew what you looked like, but not me.”
Auston’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked down, “Wait, why?”
“I don’t know, you’re Auston Matthews, people adore you.”
“And you’re Mitch, people love you too.”
Mitch’s cheeks heated up, and he looked away, “Oh hush.”
Auston shook his head fondly and led Mitch into the parking garage without another comment.
Auston had never flown out of the country before. Sure he’d driven to visit his mom’s family in Mexico but flying was a new experience for him. It was surreal how quickly he was able to go after Mitch left his house, the two of them starting the passport process while Mitch was still staying there.
His mom dropped him off at the Phoenix airport absurdly early, patting him on the cheek gently a few times with a smile and, “Better to be early than late.”
He supposed she was right, but he ended up at the gate an hour before he could board. It was early, barely 5 a.m., and he found himself standing in the short line at a Starbucks stand near his gate.
The worker who took his order was also tired, wordlessly passing him a black coffee with a small smile and no words. It was fine, he didn’t need to socialize, and he wandered back over to the gate where he’d left his backpack in one of the chairs.
Mitch was probably awake, he figured he could probably call him, but he didn’t want to, content to bask in the quiet of the almost empty airport. It felt timeless, like the world inside had stopped, and he faintly remembered Mitch talking about a similar experience when he flew to Arizona.
No one bothered him where he was sprawled in his chair sipping the coffee quietly, even when the gate started to fill with bleary eyed travelers. Almost everyone was holding a coffee cup from one of the stands nearby and Auston smiled, feeling weirdly fond of the similarities between everyone.
A family sat near him, British, and one of the kids was complaining about the early hour. The mom shushed her, “We picked this one because it was a nonstop flight. Wouldn’t you rather sit and stay than have to get off for a few hours?”
“No,” the kid responded with a deep frown on her face.
Auston held in his snort, opening his phone to keep from eavesdropping anymore. When he did, he saw that Mitch texted him about 30 minutes before.
be safe and see you soon! Hope you packed a sleep mask like I suggested
Auston’s thumbs hovered over the keyboard as a stupid smile stretched across his face.
i did, thanks for the heads up Mitchy
He sent back a heart, and before Auston could respond, the kid who’d been complaining earlier flopped over dramatically onto the floor. The mom rolled her eyes and started going through the backpack in the chair next to her.
“Get off the floor right now, we are in public.”
“But I’m tired.”
“Nap in the chair.”
The kid whined, “The floor is way comfier.”
Auston glanced over at the dad who looked like he was both fighting a smile and completely over the entire situation. The other kid was giggling, sliding toward the edge of her seat like she was ready to join her sibling on the ground.
“Don’t think I don’t see you,” the mom warned, not looking over, and the kid froze in her seat.
Another text came through, and Auston looked down.
there’s bad weather, your flight get delayed?
Looking around, Auston found the board with flight times displayed, and sure enough. He sighed, rubbing his eyes tiredly, and responded.
yeah by an hour.
oh... Mitch sent, call then?
“Go sit over there,” the mom from before hissed, and one of the kids dropped into the seat next to him with a heavy sigh. Auston blinked, surprised, and the kid looked up at him.
“My mom is being mean.”
“Better to be in a chair than on the floor, huh?”
“I like the floor.” Auston decided that the kid would get along with Mitch and opened his phone to tell Mitch about it before the kid interrupted him again, “Are you a Mitch Marner fan? I saw his name on your phone.”
Technically, Auston supposed, yes he was, but it still caught him off guard for a few seconds, “Yeah, I guess I am.”
She brightened up, “Me too! I wish he did more lore though.”
Auston had to hold in a laugh, and he cleared his throat, “Me too. He’s a pretty bad actor though.”
“Neither was Auston at first but practice makes perfect.”
The jab didn’t hurt, and he laughed it off.
met one of your fans and she called me a shit actor
Mitch’s reply was almost immediate, like he’d had the messages open before Auston even sent one.
she’s so right
Rolling his eyes, Auston took the last sip of his lukewarm coffee and shoved his phone into his pocket. The girl didn’t give him a second look as he stood up to walk back down to the Starbucks stand.
Because of the delay, the airport started to fill with people, noise picking up and bursting the peaceful bubble Auston, the businesspeople, and the family had been trapped in. After buying another black coffee, he walked back to his seat, thankfully just as they announced it was time to start boarding.
He boarded with the first group, juggling his coffee, phone and backpack to send Mitch one last text before settling in for the long flight ahead of him.
Mitch was exhausted, and he decided while he was dragging his sorry ass to the new gate for his connecting flight, he was never agreeing to take red eye again because sleeping on planes just didn’t work for him. The neck pillow was falling, barely hanging on, but he couldn’t stop.
“Mitch!” he heard someone yell from somewhere on his left.
Turning, Mitch beamed when he saw Auston waving excitedly from his place against the wall.
“Aus!” he returned, shoving through the crowd to get over to the other boy, tiredness fleeing his body.
Auston wrapped him into a one-arm hug, his chin coming to rest on the top of Mitch’s head. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before speaking, “Missed you, Mitchy.”
“Missed you too,” Mitch replied honestly, gripping Auston’s shirt tightly in his fist.
“Flight all good?” Auston asked, not pulling away as Mitch continued to hold him close.
Mitch hummed, “Not too bad, I’m just tired as fuck.”
“You didn’t sleep?” Auston asked, concerned.
“I can’t sleep on planes,” Mitch told him, “it’s my only flaw.”
Auston snorted, “Only flaw, huh?”
“Mhmm,” Mitch said, nodding into Auston’s chest, and he pressed himself closer, basking in Auston’s warmth.
“We have a long walk, huh?”
“Unfortunately,” Mitch mumbled, barely able to be heard through Auston’s hoodie.
“Do you want to go sit down?”
Mitch hummed, noncommittal, and Auston laughed. Gently pushing Mitch back by his shoulders, he adjusted the pillow more securely and started moving toward their new gate. Mitch followed Auston blindly, trusting the other boy would get them where they needed to go safely.
“Where are we going?” he mumbled, almost crashing into Auston’s back as he stopped.
“The gate is just ahead. We can charge our phones and you can take a nap before the plane boards, we have a while.”
Sighing, Mitch complained, “We don’t really need to go to California today, right? We can spend the night in Florida. It’ll be super fun.”
“Super fun, huh?”
Mitch rolled his eyes, “Don’t patronize me. It will be fun, you’re just mean.”
“Mitch, we made a commitment, we’re going to be there in time for the first day. Plus we already bought tickets for this flight, first class remember?”
“Oh yeah, thanks Sugar Daddy.”
Auston sighed but didn’t say anything, already used to the joke, much to Mitch’s pleasure. He found them two seats near a wall, and Mitch dropped down into the nearest one, chair groaning dangerously from the force.
Mitch could do better, he knew he could, but he was just too tired to function properly. He didn’t put up a fight when Auston reached over to pull him into a more comfortable position, leaning against his shoulder.
“Gonna sleep now,” Mitch informed him, and within a few seconds, everything went hazy, but much like the plane, he couldn’t sleep.
“You’re not sleeping,” Auston spoke when Mitch finally cracked one eye open in frustration.
“I fucking know.”
“Did you not sleep last night?”
Mitch let his eyelids flutter, “Auston, I don’t remember what time I left my house yesterday. Time is not real and it has no meaning to me.”
“Want coffee instead?”
“No, I want to sleep in a hotel bed.”
Someone sat in the seat next to Mitch, and he could feel their stare on him. It was odd, and he curled further into Auston, trying not to pay them any attention. Auston didn’t seem to pick up on Mitch’s avoidance strategy because he tightened his arm around Mitch and straightened like he was going to say something to the guy.
Mitch stopped him, “Are you sure we can’t delay the flight.”
Auston opened his mouth, likely to deny Mitch again, before shutting it with a thoughtful look. After a few seconds, he shrugged, “You know, I'll just go give up our seats, we can definitely come back tomorrow.
Mitch let Auston handle everything. He talked to the workers about giving up their seats and bought them seats for a different flight the next day.
He could’ve sworn he heard, “Hey are you,” from behind to go along with a strange hand gripping his elbow tightly out of nowhere. Before he could say anything, the hand was gone and so were they, by the baggage claim and out the main doors to the hotel shuttles.
“Thanks, Auston,” Mitch muttered, he knew how much Auston hated changing plans out of nowhere, and he loved his friend for helping him out, “I promise I won’t complain tomorrow.”
“Anything for you, Mitchy.”
“Careful, you might just kick start me a god complex if you keep it up.”
“Looking forward to it.”
He wasn’t tired, but Auston sure as hell was stressed. Mitch texted him earlier in the day letting him know that a truck with a bunch of his belongings showed up at their new apartment, but he was still worried that his PC hadn’t survived the trip across the Atlantic.
have you unpacked stuff? anything broken??
When Mitch’s response came through, Auston swore he could hear the exasperation through the screen.
i opened the boxes marked fragile. everything’s fine aus
And he immediately followed it up with pictures just to reassure him. Auston finally felt like he could breathe. There weren’t many people around, reminiscent of his other flight to visit Mitch, just late night instead of early morning. Before he could respond to Mitch, he got another text.
been mobbed yet superstar?
Auston snorted and glanced around at the few other people scattered nearby. They weren’t paying him even a little bit of attention which he was grateful for.
oh yeah they’re lined up
Mitch hadn’t responded by the time he got his ticket printed and luggage checked. His walk to security was slow, backpack hanging off one shoulder, and when he got there, it was surprisingly empty.
The lady checking ID’s looked incredibly unenthused to be there, Auston couldn’t exactly blame her, the airport was a bit mysterious at times, but security was by far the worst part. He kicked his shoes off and dropped them, along with his backpack, on the conveyor belt.
“Step through,” the worker told him. Auston wondered if this job had made him suspicious of everyone. He wasn’t stupid enough to have liquids in his backpack, but he remembered flying with his dad once and they brought him to a separate room to pat him down over it once.
Once through security, Auston called Mitch, too excited about finally moving to even try and play cool.
“Mitchy,” he cheered when the other boy answered the phone.
“Hey, Aus. Everything okay?”
“Yep, got through security, just waiting to board.”
“Oh yeah? It was easy?”
“Not too long of a line and I don’t have a carryon, only a backpack.”
“So definitely much easier than our trip to California from Florida.”
“Yeah, the trip you made us take because you just couldn’t wait to sleep.”
Mitch scoffed, “You agreed!”
Huffing out a laugh, Auston conceded, “Yeah, I guess I did. But still, that line was absurdly long and I stand by that it’s your fault we almost missed that flight.”
Not arguing, for once, Mitch let the call fall silent, and Auston basked in it. The peace that always went along with Mitch.
“I think we should get dinner.”
“What?” Auston asked, confused why Mitch sounded so hesitant.
“When you get here, we should get dinner together.”
“I’d hope so, we’re going to be roommates, so it’d make sense.”
“As a date.”
Auston hadn’t really allowed himself to think about Mitch like that, it was always too tempting, too close to home. He’d forced himself to believe that all of the looks were one sided, all of the loaded confessions, masked by more mundane, gently worded statements were unrequited. But here Mitch was, saying they weren’t.
“What?” Auston finally managed to choke out.
“I’m asking you on a date.”
Mitch sounded more sure, and Auston’s heart fucking skipped at his words.
“Well then of course.”
He could hear the smile in Mitch’s words when he spoke, “Great.”
Auston wished more than anything that they were in a spot safe enough to FaceTime, but he’d settle for just Mitch’s voice. When it fell quiet again, Auston could hear Mitch’s breathing start to even out.
“Mitchy,” he called out softly.
“Hmm,” was the only response.
Auston smiled, “Get some sleep, yeah?”
“Yeah,” he mumbled, not moving to leave the call, so Auston did, shaking his head fondly at the familiar actions. He almost couldn’t believe one of them was finally moving. They’d debated for months over who should do it, and in the end, it made the most sense for Auston to move to London. The process was quick after that. In the end, he just wanted to be with Mitch, no matter how it needed to be done.
When he finally made it to the gate, he found a seat and started loading up the one subathon VOD Mitch did for in-flight entertainment.
“Mitch Marner is awesome,” someone interrupted him, motioning at the hoodie he was once again wearing in public.
And right as he spoke, the VOD finished downloading. Maybe it was coincidence, but it felt intentional. Either way, Auston felt nothing but hope for the future, and for the first time, the airport alone at a weird time of the day wasn’t so bad.