Prompt: Coldplay, snowfall, fairy lights
Summary: Matt gets stood up. Dom takes his chance.
Author's Note: Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Chanukah, everyone x
Matt’s fingers are numb as he removes his gloves to type his fourth text of the past half hour.
To Andrew: Okay, so my guess is you’re not coming? I’ve been waiting under the wreath for over 45 minutes.
He pockets his mobile in disappointment, willing himself not to get too upset. Did online dating ever work? Tom was the one who made him download Tinder in the first place, and with the type of men who usually messaged him, he shouldn’t have been surprised to be stood up.
He’s had his eye on the stand just next to the ice rink which is selling hot chocolate, mulled wine, and tea. His stomach is rumbling and he should really get going home soon; he’s not the type to stay out late by himself. He decides on one cup of mulled wine and a quick meander through the Christmas stalls before catching a bus back to his small studio flat in North London.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park used to be his favourite event as a child, but now cold, single, and spending an entire £5 that he really doesn’t have on a small cup of mulled wine, he’s bitter. As he reaches for his wallet to fumble for coins to pay, a hand lands on his shoulder.
“Let me get that for you.”
Matt turns to face the man who spoke. “Andrew?” he asks, eyeing the blonde with suspicion. He looks nothing like the man he’d been chatting with on Tinder the last two weeks.
“What?” the other man asks with a laugh. “No, my name is Dom.” He reaches out with his hand and Matt takes it, giving it a shake. He gestures over his shoulder toward the bustling ice rink. “I saw you waiting over there for a while. My sister and her son just left and I was about to make my way out as well when you came over.”
“Oh,” says Matt. “I’m sorry, I thought you might’ve been my date. I guess he stood me up.” He shrugs.
Dom’s eyebrows furrow. “What an idiot. Guess he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.” He makes a show of letting his eyes travel up and down Matt’s body.
Matt attempts a light-hearted chuckle, his cheeks beginning to heat up even though he hasn't been handed his drink yet. “That’s kind of you to say.”
He watches as Dom passes a £10 note over to the women serving the mulled wine. She hands them both a warm cup and Dom nods for Matt to follow him out of the stall and back into the hustle and bustle of the crowd. “So what kind of man leaves handsome blokes like yourself all alone in the middle of Christmas season at the Winter Wonderland ice rink?”
Throwing his head back in a laugh, Matt follows Dom in the general direction of a carousel. “Investment bankers named Andrew, apparently.”
Dom makes a gagging noise. “Sounds like a wanker.”
“Yeah, he is,” Matt says, smiling and taking a sip of his mulled wine. It’s hot and spiced and exactly what he needs. “Fuck. I’m Matt, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Matt. Now, what would you like to do?”
They reach a bench and sit down, and Matt turns to Dom in surprise and confusion. “What do you mean?” he asks.
“Well,” says Dom with a giggle. “It’s Christmas in London, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, snow is falling, fairy lights are twinkling, and you’ve been stood up. So I’m snagging you while you’re available.”
A very strong blush spreads over Matt’s cheeks.
“Is that okay?”
Grinning, Matt nods into his cup. He’s suddenly too shy to say anything.
They walk through some stalls selling assortments of handmade decorations, jewellery, and fudge, talking aimlessly. It’s all small talk, which Matt usually hates; he has to admit that Dom is rather easy to talk to, though. They discuss their jobs, and Dom smiles widely when Matt tells him he’s a primary school teacher, before Dom reveals he’s an aspiring playwright currently working as an assistant technician for a small theatre company. “It’s not all so glamorous,” he says. “A lot of hard work with very little down time. But it pays the bills and allows me to meet some really creative people. Once two blokes from Coldplay came to one of our performances. I got a picture with Chris Martin!”
“What is your play about?” Matt asks. They’ve both purchased more mulled wine, and now walk vaguely towards the way out. The wind has picked up and the falling snow feels more like ice.
"It's a comedy about two gay teenagers in a small town who unearth an underground plot to murder the town’s beloved librarian. All good fun and adventure, really. Nothing dark, although the word ‘murder’ does throw a lot of people off.”
“It sounds fascinating,” says Matt with a smile. “I’d love to hear more about it.”
Dom gives him a grin. “Yeah?”
They stop to watch a group of Carollers sing The First Noël, and Matt thinks to himself that this evening is already better than it would have been if Andrew had showed up. He is suddenly glad he waited outside in the cold, and that Dom just so happened to be in the same place at the same time.
As the Carollers finish and the small group they’re standing in politely applaud, he looks to his left where Dom is standing ever so close to him. The blonde has a bright grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye as he watches the Carollers shuffle off the wooden stage and a group of tuba players take their place. He decides to take a chance, letting his hand travel down from his pocket to sit just besides Dom’s. His gloved fingers lightly tap Dom’s, and he jumps in surprise as Dom’s hand immediately opens and closes on his own. He has known the man for all of one hour and already he feels something growing between them.
“Do you want to find a pub?” Dom asks suddenly. He looks nervous to be asking this, and looks up at the sky and the now heavily falling snow. “It’s just getting a bit cold and I could use some food and—”
Dom looks relieved. “Good. Okay. There’s a place nearby that does a fantastic Sunday roast, if you fancy that?”
Impulsively, Matt pats his pocket where his wallet sits and grimaces. Dom immediately notices.
“I’ll pay,” he says. “My treat.”
“Are you sure?”
Matt grins shyly, and allows Dom to tug him towards the exit, their hands still grasped together.
The pub Dom leads him to is small and warm. One small group of tourists sit at a table, and the remainder of patrons are locals stood chatting at the bar. They find a small, cosy booth and slide in on opposite sides, though their bodies lean forward across the tabletop to be closer together. A single flickering candle is lit between them, accentuating the deep wood of the floors and walls and there is a rumbling fireplace close, radiating warmth through the space. A sign is stood next to the bar; it says ‘Homemade Sunday Roast - Beef, Lamb, Chicken, or Pork, served late’, and Matt’s stomach rumbles in hunger.
“What can I get you to drink?” Dom asks, as he stands to go to the bar, making note of their table number.
“Just a small glass of house red is fine,” Matt replies. “And the chicken roast, please.”
“Perfect, be right back.”
The blonde comes back a few moments later with a bottle of expensive looking wine in one hand and two glasses in the other. Matt frowns at him. “Dom, you don’t have to—”
“I want to. I’ve really enjoyed this evening with you. And I know it was all unplanned and I kind of stole you away, but I’d really love to see you again. After tonight.”
“I feel the same,” Matt admits.
Smiling, Dom pours them both a glass of wine and raises his towards the one Matt has just picked up. “To us, then?”
“To us,” says Matt, and they let their glasses clink.
The rest of the night flies by in a flurry which is stronger than that of the snow building up on the pavement outside. Before they know it, their bellies are full, the bottle of wine is empty, and the pub is closing for the night. They wrap up in their hats, gloves, and scarves and walk out into the chilly night. Dom immediately pulls Matt close, locking in their body heat.
“It’s getting late,” says Dom. “Are you okay to get home?”
Swearing, Matt looks at his watch, noting he’s missed the last bus of the night. “I need to walk to Denmark Street,” he replies. “I can catch a night bus from there to Wood Green.”
“That’s a 30 minute walk! Let me get you a cab.”
“It’s really no problem, I like walking.”
Dom pouts. “At least let me walk you to Denmark Street then. We can look at some of the lights on Carnaby Street on the way.”
Matt smiles at this and nods, and they head east. They end up walking for over an hour, taking a detour down Regent Street to look at all the high end shop windows. In Soho, they find a wine bar open late, and pop in for another glass. By the time they arrive at Denmark Street, both are giddy from alcohol and newly found companionship. As his bus rounds the corner, Matt turns to look at Dom.
“Thank you for tonight,” he whispers, his cheeks warm and red.
Shyly, Dom steps forward and presses a chaste kiss to Matt’s chapped and cold lips. “I had an incredible time.”
“Let’s do it again.”
The two men smile at each other as Matt’s bus pulls up next to the kerb. He reluctantly pulls away and digs into his pocket for his Oyster card, tapping it on the reader as he enters the bus. As he sits on the upper deck, he smiles down at Dom, watching him from below. The bus pulls away, and he feels his mobile vibrate twice.
From Andrew: Sorry, got caught up at work then went to pub with mates. Let me make it up to you?
From Dom: You might be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. Have a Happy Christmas, Matt. I’ll see you soon x
Matt only replies to one of the messages.