This is the final chapter for the fic.
Things were much better the following day for both of them. The tensions of yesterday had faded away, and that made Matthew more eager to get to school. Setting his alarm to half an hour earlier with the intention of quite possibly going to see Dan before class. If he didn't, they wouldn't meet until lunchtime, and that was only if the Australian didn't get himself held in due to doing something foolish to annoy his teacher. But knowing the other student fairly well, Matthew had decided that it was fairly likely.
Sitting up, the Canadian rubbed his eyes sleepily, trying to wake himself up. Part of his mind was trying to convince him that rolling over and falling asleep again was a good idea. Aren't you comfortable here? Isn't it nice and warm in these blankets? And it'll only be for a few minutes, no harm done! You can still go and see Dan before class. Now sleep. Lie down and close your eyes. Stubbornly resisting, Matthew pulled the blankets back and climbed out of bed, shivering at the sudden cold after the warmth of his bedding. Well, I suppose a few minutes couldn't hurt…. Ah. No. Focus Matthew. You got up early for a reason. Now pull yourself together and wake up! He slapped himself on the face, hoping to pull himself together. "Maybe shouldn't have slapped myself so hard…" he muttered to himself under his breath.
Well, it will be worth it. Won't it?
Yawning widely, Dan headed into school. He was actually running a bit late, but he didn't really care. What was a few minutes going to hurt? He thought. And besides, who can learn when you've only just woken up? It's completely mental how early they have us start in the morning. Yes, that was going to be the next thing he was going to protest. How? Sleeping in every day for however long it took for the school administration to get the message, or until his grades plummeted so much that there was no chance of him passing. Whichever came first. He shuffled into the school building, book bag slung over his shoulder, looking out for anyone he recognised. Sadly, however, Dan was not in luck. All of the other students were in class, except for the few that were also late and those heading on errands for their respective teachers.
Finding his classroom door, the Australian attempted to slink in without being noticed, sitting in the far back row. Pulling his books out of his bag and setting them on the desk, he only then realised that the teacher was staring at him, making her displeasure well and truly known to him. Giving what he hoped was an innocent smile, Dan began copying the notes down from the board quietly, not wanting to annoy the teacher further. Although the Australian would admit that this teacher, unlike most others, was a bit more lenient, he didn't want to push her so far that she wouldn't let the class have any fun at all. Only an idiot would do that, and Daniel Kirkland was most certainly not an idiot.
Glancing out the window into the hallway, he saw Matthew walk on past the classroom, looking somewhat dejected. Head drooped forward so his blonde locks almost completely hid his face; the Canadian would have been unrecognisable was it not for his familiar curl. Dan raised his hand quietly. "Miss, I need to go to get a drink". The teacher realised that her student would likely leave whether she gave her permission or not, and merely nodded. Not hesitating a moment, Dan got to his feet and headed out of the classroom. Watching Matthew round a corner, he decided to yell out at him. "Hey Mattie!"
The blonde paused when he heard his name yelled, peering around the corner curiously to see whom it was. Although there was one part of his mind that told him who it was Dan, he wasn't sure if that was just wishful thinking on his part. Matthew didn't move as the Australian approached him, partially considering turning and walking away. Maybe it wasn't too late? Pretend I didn't hear him or something? Sighing, he realised that there was no way to avoid this encounter. He didn't want to admit it, but this felt slightly awkward. After all, he had gotten up early just so he could see Dan before classes. But was he there? No, of course not. But then again, Dan hadn't actually known this. Maybe if he had, he might have tried to get here earlier?
Matthew put on a smile as Dan stood in front of him. "Oh, hello Dan. Run late again did you?" he asked, attempting to tease the Australian.
Dan merely shrugged, looking at Matthew curiously. "Well, yeah. I almost always do. But what about you? Why are you walking around the halls looking all sad?"
Was he actually worried about me? Matthew wondered, feeling slightly elated at the thought. "Oh… nothing really. I'm just really tired. I got up extra early this morning". For you. Sighing, Matthew decided it was about time to suck up his pride and say something. He could do it right? He had gone through more significant and scary things than telling someone they liked them, so it couldn't be too tough! Plus heaps of people did it every day.
Dan gave a small smile. "Well…. I guess I should probably head back to class. I kinda told my teacher I was gonna get a drink, so someone might come looking for me if I take too long", he said, going to turn and leave. However Matthew's hand, now grabbing his sleeve, made him stop and turn back. "What's wrong Mattie?" he asked, as the Canadian was now silently looking at his own hand grasping the blazer. "Mattie? You aren't sick are you?"
Matthew shook his head silently for a moment, before looking at the Australian straight in the eye. "I'm not sick I just…. Ah. Really… like you…." He said, voice softening a little with every word, so by the end he was barely audible.
The other student tilted his head slightly, looking at Matthew curiously for a moment, trying to figure out what he had just said. Why had he talked so quietly? He wondered, waiting for Matthew to explain more. Instead, however, the Canadian was looking down at his shoes like they were the most interesting things on Earth, glancing up occasionally in hopes of a response. "Ah…. Mattie? I couldn't really hear you, so you have to repeat yourself…" Dan said, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Matthew looked up at him curiously, thinking he had been quite easy to hear and understand. "You… talked a bit quietly", Dan added, giving a small smile.
"O… oh. Well… I just said that I really… like you", he repeated, this time a bit more confident.
Dan just stared at him for a moment, wondering what exactly he meant by that. "Ah…Well. We are mates right?" he said, grinning wide. Yeah, that's what he meant right? Good mates. Not like he meant anything else right. But Matthew's dejected sigh said otherwise. Oh, well… That was a pretty awkward mistake to make, Dan thought, looking around a bit.
"Actually… I meant a different kind of… 'like'…" Matthew said, after letting a silence hang for a moment. Leaning back against the nearby lockers, he looked at the Australian and waited for him to say something in response. Dan gave a small smile in return, placing his hand over Matthew's, which was still gripping his blazer. "Like…. Um…." How could he describe it?
"You love me huh?" Dan asked, finally picking up on what Matthew was trying to say. Matthew's cheeks instantly turned scarlet and he gave a sheepish smile. Well, that was fairly blunt, but it was the truth.
"Ah… yeah. I do…" he muttered, glancing around to make sure he wasn't overheard. Seeing they were alone in the hallway, he relaxed slightly. Or as much as he could while anxiously waiting for Dan to say whether he loved him back, or even if he didn't. Matthew was very much hoping it was the former.
Smiling softly, Dan tilted his head down slightly, unsure what to say now. He had never had anyone tell him that they loved him. The fact that it was one of his friends made it all the more awkward. "I like you too, Mattie", Dan replied after a moment. Matthew just looked up at the Australian in surprise, before smiling happily.
"Go back to class before you get in trouble", Matthew said, pushing the Australian in the direction of his classroom.
"Okay, okay! See you later Mattie, okay?" Dan said over his shoulder, heading back to class finally. Matthew nodded and waved at him as he left.