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I'm Too Old To Dream

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It isn’t that Matt doesn’t have any friends, except that, well… He doesn’t have any friends. So suffice to say, when Becky Pale agreed to go out with him after they kissed in the dark corner of the school dance, he was completely surprised. Honestly he’s surprised it had even happened in the first place, even if it was all quick kisses and whispered conversations and a solemn promise that Matt would never tell a living soul what had happened. As if anyone would believe him anyway.

Becky’s the cool girl. She’s the one with the perfect family and the perfect friends and the perfect smile that hides her less than perfect grades. She’s the one who’s just ditzy enough to seem funny, the one just pretty enough to never have to want after anything in her entire life. In all honesty, Matt’s more jealous of her than he is attracted to her. He’s the weird kid. He’s the freak kid with the crooked tooth and a speech impediment. He’s the nerdy science kid who likes old music and lives with his grandmother. He’s the kid even his parents didn’t love enough to look after.

Despite all this, against all logic on Matt’s part, he stills holds some expectation for his evening.

Becky had agreed to meet with him for dinner at eight but was adamant she wanted them to go somewhere they were less likely to be seen. As a result, Matt had suggested Lola’s, the local diner in which the less popular kids tend to frequent, a place Matt is more than familiar with.

This meant the staff are familiar with him too.

The clock has just ticked past the wrong side of 8.30 and Matt’s been inching down further into his seat for the past 20 minutes trying to will his skinny little legs to stand and actually get the fuck out of there. Heidi, the sympathetic and overly kind waitress has been swinging by his table every five minutes or so double-checking he doesn’t want to order anything, if there’s anything she can do for him at all, and outright insisting she at least bring him something to drink.

Heidi’s wonderful, she’s most definitely Matt’s favourite waitress, always understanding without being patronising, always serving Matt an extra large plate of fries or giving him a large milkshake when all he can afford is a small, free of charge. She tries to make conversation with him, awkward smile evident whenever he starts talking about aliens or conspiracy theories, but she’s always kind enough to listen and ask even more questions so Matt tries to tone it down a little bit.

Now there’s nothing left in her eyes except sorrow and pity and Matt hates the fact that she’s not the only one in the diner looking at him that way. He’s about to up and leave, about to storm out of there, cheeks blazing and trying to forget the whole thing ever happen, except that his legs won’t work.

He takes a few moments to just breathe, to drum his fingers against the counter in the time of a Rachmaninoff piece while he calms himself down and dregs up the courage to finally move.

He opens his eyes, one final long, deep breath escaping before he moves to stand, only to be stopped by the body suddenly sliding into the seat opposite him, “Sorry I’m late.”

The guy in front of him is blonde and fit and positively divine, attractive in the authentic way that Becky Pale will never be able to manage. Matt’s convinced he must have slipped and hit his head, knocked himself into unconsciousness, because there’s no way in hell Dominic Howard is sitting before him smiling so hard Matt’s worried he might break a tooth.

Matt’s aware that his mouth is hanging open, the shock making itself known and freezing the rest of his body.

“Battery in my car died, had to walk here, sorry babe.”

Matt’s aware of Dominic speaking, that there are in fact words coming out of his mouth, but nothing really registers until the word ‘babe’ is ringing through his ears.

“Sorry, what?” Matt glances around the restaurant, the people who had so obviously been staring at him before now torn between watching the scenario play out and quickly averting their gazes.

His attention is recaptured by Dominic when the boy leans over the table, voice lowering as he whispers to Matt, “My name’s Dom, just go with it.”

“I know who you are.” It’s way too loud in the quiet tension of the restaurant so Matt copies Dominic’s posture and lowers his voice to speak again, “I mean what are you doing here with me?”

“Look, I promise I’ll explain everything to you, but honestly Matt, I’m starving, so can we please order dinner first?”

Dominic’s attention drifts away from Matt’s face, instead focused on gathering the attention of the waitress while Matt continues to stare at him, mouth still dropped open in shock. He manages to get himself under control and stutter some words out just as Heidi begins walking their way once again, “You… uh… you know my name?”

Dominic’s head snaps back to face Matt once again, eyebrows furrowing together in confusion for a moment before he turns his megawatt smile in Heidi’s direction, “Hi. I’ll have the spaghetti please.” He turns to face Matt once again, a light chuckle escaping when he notices the other boy still looks dumbstruck, “And he’ll have whatever he usually has, cheers.”

“No problem.” Heidi smiles and then they’re alone once again.

Dominic’s still grinning at him like he thinks the whole situation is the funniest thing in the world and Matt still can’t manage to get his brain to even work properly. This is Dominic Howard. Matt wasn’t even sure he existed in this boy’s reality.

“To answer your question, of course I know your name. Did you really think I hadn’t noticed you?”

Matt scoffs and finally snaps out of his daze, mood immediately plummeting back down to the depths of his day-to-day despair. Of course Dominic has noticed him, everybody notices him, but it’s never in a good way. He drops his gaze back to his own hands, unable to look at Dominic any longer, embarrassment and anger both fighting for attention, struggling for dominance over his body.

“Hey,” suddenly there’s a soft palm resting upon Matt’s cheek, guiding his face up to meet Dominic’s eyes. The shining grey staring back at him is too mesmerising to part from, “It’s a good thing. Promise.” His smile has changed. No longer the over-enthusiastic, slightly pompous grin he pulled off before, but now his face is gentler, more genuine and almost shy and Matt can’t believe his luck at being able to see such honest beauty. If it didn’t feel like such a natural thought Matt probably would have mocked himself; god he’s full of poetic bullshit sometimes, no wonder the other kids call him weird.

“Why are you here?” It’s blunt, Matt didn’t actually mean for it to come out, but he still has no idea what the hell is going on.

Dominic looks away for a moment as he breathes a deep sigh, his gaze returning to Matthew’s when he starts speaking once again, voice hesitant and almost apologetic, “I heard them talking.” Dom looks like he hopes that’s enough, like somehow Matt’s supposed to find all of his answers in that one simple sentence. When Matt can do nothing more than stare blankly at him, he continues, “Becky. She was talking to Michael and Trent and all those guys. She said it was a set up for tonight, that you’d be here at 8pm expecting her but she had no intention of showing up and she planned the whole thing to be absolutely hilarious.”

“I should have known. I really should have. God, I’m a fucking idiot.” Matt all but growls, ashamed once again at his own naivety.

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not your fault they’re dicks.”

“But I’m me. What else should I have expected, really?”

“For people to treat you like any fucking decent person would?” Matt didn’t realise he’d never seen Dominic angry until he was. It was a weird emotion to see splashed across such an innocent face.

Matt stays quiet after that, not quite sure how to respond appropriately. He’s grateful Dominic’s here, of course, because now Matt doesn’t look like a complete loser, but he still doesn’t get why Dom’s here.

Their food finally arrives and with it Dominic lets himself relax once again, the anger sliding from his face and the authentic understanding taking its place as he speaks to Matthew, “Look, from what I can gather the whole thing wasn’t planned from the start. Apparently someone saw you two at the dance and was giving her shit about it so she turned the whole thing into this elaborate prank.”

“How do you know so much?” What Matt really wanted to ask was why Dom cared so much but apparently his mouth had other ideas.

Dominic grins at him in response, a spark of cheekiness evident once again, “I’m me, remember? People will tell me anything.”

Matt laughs at that because he honestly can’t. It’s true, everybody tells Dominic everything. He’s like the cool kid without being in the ‘cool group’, the semi-loner kid everybody loves and nobody hates because he’s just so naturally good-natured and down to earth and just so goddamn likable. The fact he’s probably the hottest guy in the entire school helps too.

Dominic’s always been an enigma to Matthew. He can’t understand how someone who seemingly doesn’t have any close friends, someone who doesn’t fit into one particular group, can be friends with almost everyone. He’s popular, most definitely, but Matt wonders if he ever gets lonely too. He can’t bring himself to ask though, he doesn’t think it’s particularly appropriate dinner conversation.

“You’re a good guy, Dominic.”

“Thanks.”

He doesn’t even sound like a dick when accepting compliments, he somehow manages to sound humble and genuinely appreciative. It’s bizarre to find in someone their age. Refreshing, but bizarre.

“I still don’t understand why you’re here though?”

“I couldn’t exactly just let you sit here and be made a fool of, could I?”

“Well… you could have. I mean… I was here for a while before you showed up anyway.”

“Your apparent date stood you up and you’re pointing out that I was late?”

Matt’s face reddens once again and he immediately wishes he could take the words back. But then Dom’s laughing, incredulous and honestly amused and Matt can’t help the smile it brings to his own face.

“That’s not what I meant.” Matt mumbles through his smile, still somewhat embarrassed.

“I know what you meant.” Dominic calms himself down enough to speak again, smile still playing across his features, “Knowing what I knew, I couldn’t let it happen, it’s not who I am. And you being who you are, it was nice to find an excuse to talk to you.”

The words strike him stupid. Matt honestly has no idea what Dominic means, why would he be looking for an excuse to talk to him in the first place? His mind turns into a flurry of activity, words and ideas bouncing back and forth in an attempt to find coherence until his mouth betrays his inability to think, “… What?”

“I’ve never really had the chance before and at school you never seem like you particularly want anyone to talk to you so I’ve left you be.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You intrigue me, Matthew. You have for a very long time.”

“I intrigue you?” Matt doesn’t mean to sound incredulous, except that he still can’t figure out what the hell is happening.

Dominic sighs loudly, a hint of mischief evident in his expression as he runs one hand through his hair, “Are you really going to make me say it?”

“Say what?”

“I thought you were smart?”

“Dominic, I have no idea what you’re talking about-”

“I fancy you. There. You get it now?”

The words ricochet around his mind, confusion whirling and Matt’s almost convinced he’s tricked himself in hearing what he wants to hear.

“You fancy me?”

“Yeah, I do. I have for a while?”

“Why?” His tone lingers somewhere between disbelief and disgust and Dominic laughs at the sound.

“Matthew, you’re amazing. You’re smart, so fucking smart it’s scary, and you’re unashamedly you.” Matt can feel his cheeks darken once again at Dominic’s words, no one’s ever spoken to him like this before, “And you’re sexy. Fuck you’re sexy and you don’t even know it.”

Matt doesn’t know what to say. In no possible train of thought had he ever considered this would become his reality. If he didn’t know Dominic, if he didn’t know what a thoroughly good person he was, Matt would be convinced he was in on the prank too.

“I don’t understand.”

“Don’t understand what?”

“I’m not unashamedly me, I am constantly embarrassed about who I am. And I am definitely not sexy.”

“Matt, you’re still you. Despite the shit that gets thrown at you, despite the narrow-mindedness of this stupid little town we live in, you’re always yourself. I’m not saying you’re not awkward as all hell sometimes,” Dominic chuckles lightly as he speaks and Matt can’t help but stare at his mouth, “but you’ll grow into that and we’ll get the hell out of this town to somewhere bigger and better where people accept us for who we are.”

The ‘us’ doesn’t escape Matt’s attention and he can’t help the smile that the words bring forth. He never expected Dominic to be like this, to seemingly relate to him when it comes to struggling under the weight of living in a small town, to show an interest in Matt and how he feels.

He doesn’t know what to say. He has no counter to that, anything that can top it or to show Dominic how much it really means to him. Instead he settles for a earnest ‘thank you’, his eyes locking with Dom’s for a moment before they both turn back to their meals.

Eventually quiet chatter and honest laughter takes over their dinner. Both boys regale tales they hear at school, they talk about themselves and their separate lives, their hopes for the future and escaping to anywhere other than Devon.

By the time they leave the diner it’s late enough for Matt to think his grandmother might start to worry soon, that maybe he should call her and let her know he’s okay. He’s heading home now though, so he figures the gesture would be pointless.

Dominic’s walking along beside him, their shoulder’s bumping every now and then, an easy smile taking over the blonde’s features as they walk in silence. Matt hates silence, he always has. It reminds him too much of the days of living with his parents, the silent feuds that took over their household. As a result he’s usually hyperactive and incessantly talking and can’t help but break the silence now, “Thank you so much, Dom. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

Dominic seems to struggle with his words for a moment, teeth catching between his lips like he wants to say something before he breaks out into a megawatt smile, an easy “Don’t worry about it” falling from his mouth.

“Seriously though, I can’t believe this even happened. This is so embarrassing. I was a right twat to think she was interested in me.”

Dominic looks all set to agree before he contemplates his words for a moment, not speaking again until he’s apparently sorted his thoughts out, “It could be worse.”

Something in Dominic’s voice causes Matt to stop walking immediately and study the other boy. There’s a hint of a grin hiding behind his otherwise impassive face and Matt can’t help but be a little bit suspicious and a little bit turned on at the sight, “How is that exactly?”

“I could have not turned up.”

“Yeah, then I would have looked like an even bigger idiot than I do already.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant.”

“What-”

Matt’s cut off by the press of lips against his own, soft and warm and perfect and Matt can’t believe this is actually happening. Dominic Howard is kissing him. His whole body freezes for a moment, the surprise taking over until suddenly his mind snaps and he’s kissing Dom back and it’s completely perfect and everything he thought he would never be allowed to have.

When he finally pulls back he can’t help the pure shock that rushes through him and takes over his face. He’s sure he looks like a right idiot standing in front of the hottest guy in school, gaping at him, Dominic openly laughing at him.

Dominic kisses him again quick. His soft fingers run the length of Matt’s cheekbones, quiet laughter escaping as he does so, “Matthew Bellamy, would you fancy going on a date with me?”