"___________, doncha think ye had enough fer one night?" your friend Allistor asked concerned about your deteriorating sobriety.
"Shut *hic* up, 'llistor," you hiccupped and smashed your chin against the counter. "If Georgewait that's not himif Gerald
Gilbertwhatever! If my ex-boyfriend can *hic* hold his alcohol, then I should be able to, too!"
On that note, you signaled for another round. The Scottish bartender made a face, but he poured more beer into a glass. Money was money, and it was the customer's fault if he or she chose to continue drinking.
Only a few days ago, you had been dumped by your now ex-boyfriend, Gilbert Beilschmidt, for some "hot thing" in Hungary. He was a shit wad, anyway: he drank too much, he boasted about his awesomeness every minute of the day, and he had a strange obsession for writing every little tidbit of his life down in a diary. You wondered why you hadn't dumped him first.
Your throat burned as you down another swig of ice-cold beer. You hiccupped again. Which was going to let go first? Your wallet or your stomach? Aw, hell, it might as well have been your head.
You slammed your mug down on the counter so hard that you didn't even hear the door to the tavern open. Some men with real loud voices came in making your temple throb and your eardrums pound into your brain.
And then I said, well if you really feel that way about me, then fine! Go off on your own, and see if I care!" a loud voice said. He sounded like a northern European.
"Ha ha ha! Dude, I totally understand! Iggy and I were on the same road!" another voice laughed. This one sounded American.
"Eh, but it's all over now," the European voice said. "At least I don't have to worry about taking care of them anymore."
"Dude, you're so right!" Again, the American voice. "Come on, bud! Let's drink up!"
You shifted in your stool as the men whose voices they belonged to came up to the counter and took their seats.
"What up, Scottie?" the American voice asked the bartender loudly.
"Business," the Scot answered bluntly.
"Aw, loosen up!" the other voice said. "We're paying customers so treat us like we are!"
"One of ye is a payin' cusomter," Allistor growled filling up two beers. "You, Dane, would steal from yer ma just fer a drop of spirits."
"Not to worry," theAllistor said he was a Dane, right?Dane said dismissively. "I've got it all covered this time."
You felt a heavy pat on your back.
"This one here is going to pay for our drinks, right?" the Dane said.
" you croaked. God, you drank way too much to be thinking straight. "Why not?"
"Ha ha! See?! What did I tell you?!"
"Wait just a minute, Mark!" Allistor shouted yanking the mugs away from the men. "Ye can't just waltz right on in and ask someone ye don't know an' expect them teh pay yer tab!"
You felt someone clock your head to the voices and give you a little slap.
"Oi," the man with the Danish voice said. Even with your blurred vision, you were able to see his wild, blonde hair fashioned into a natural cowlick. He also had deep blue eyes that were a lovelier shade than Gilbert's younger brother's bright blue ones. "I'm Mathias. 'Mark' to my friends. Now that you're my friend, you can call me that, too."
Then, he left you alone to wallow in your drunken stupor.
"See?" Mathias said. "We know each other now."
Allistor sighed. "Ye didn't even ask fer her name, Mark."
Mathias turned you to him again.
"Hey lady, what's your"
The murmurs around the tavern grew quiet when they heard the sudden sound of glass breaking.
You heard Allistor chuckle. "Good one, __________."
Beer residue dripped down the Dane's upright hair and fair-skinned face. He didn't look so obnoxious now.
"Hmpf. Now you know my name, Mark," you said and asked Allistor for a new mug.
"Ha ha ha ha!" the American laughed. "Dude, Mark, you look totally lame right now, bro!"
Mathias didn't look angry at all. To your surprise (or maybe it was just your drunk imagination), he looked amused.
"So, __________," he said, "do you think you still have it in you for a few more rounds?"
"Mark, don't push it," Allistor said. "She's almost dead drunk after being dumped"
"Bring it," you said suddenly feeling a comeback recovery from your liquor daze.
"Ho! How about that! ____________ actually won!" the American named Alfred said.
You used your sleeve to wipe away foam from your lips and smirked the way Gilbert had influenced you to. "What did you expect?"
"____________, even I didn't think you'd last this long," Allistor said looking impressed.
"I told you I just as awesome asactually, no! I'm more awesome than Gilbert!" you laughed and leaned back. You crashed onto the floor. Some of the drinkers eyed you suggestively since your rear was facing them. Your Danish competitor was already on the floor next to you.
Since Mathias fell over before you, he recovered before you and offered to walk you back to your home. He also paid the tab for losing.
"You know, ____________," he said while supporting you by your shoulder, "you're pretty amazing."
"At least you didn't use the word 'awesome,'' you chuckled.
Mathias looked confused. "What do you mean?"
You closed your eyes and rubbed your temple. "Nothing. It's just something my ex used to say all the time."
"Oh." The Dane paused for a millisecond. "Why'd you leave him?"
You shook your head. "I didn't leave him. He left me."
Mathias looked surprised. It was rather cute expression you earned from your new "friend."
"Why would someone do that to a prettynot to mention spunkygirl like you?"
"Guess I wasn't good enough," you said. You had heard about how Gilbert had compared you to someone he had met at a Central European meeting. According to him, she had flawless skin, beautiful emerald eyes, and the "cutest, most awesome spitfire attitude."
" you grumbled. Then you threw up on the sidewalk.
"Eck!" Mathias cried trying to hold you up.
You coughed as the deadly caustic mixture of acid and alcohol relieved itself of your stomach. It tasted vile in your mouth, but your head didn't hurt as much afterwards.
"Sorry," you groaned and heaved again. You looked down and saw that some of your stomach's contents got on Mathias' long black coat.
"Shit," you said.
"'Shit' is right," the Dane said as-a-matter-of-factly.
"You wanna come to my place and get yourself cleaned up?" you asked, belching. "It's the least I can do after everything that's happened."
Mathias' blue eyes lit up, and he grinned. "Sure!"
"Here we are," you said shuffling in your pockets to find your keys.
Mathias raised his eyebrows. "This is your home?"
"Uh-huh," you nodded as you unlocked the glass door.
"My Norwegian friend would sometimes buy pastries from this place," Mathias said looking through the windows of the bakery. "I didn't know you were the owner."
"Yep." You cracked a smile. "Coming?"
Mathias blinked and looked at his soiled coat that he was still wearing. "Of course!"
You flipped on the counter lights so you could see the stairway that led to the second floor where the living quarters were. You eyed Mathias looking at the menus and empty shelves.
Shit! That's right! You smacked your face. Ow. I forgot to prep the
"If you do your prepping in the morning, won't you have a headache when you wake up?" Mathias asked suddenly making you stumble.
You sighed heavily. "I actually do my prepping at night so I can bake the pastries in the morning. But I'll manage. I can't let down my customers all for some stupid drinking contest."
You and Mathias arrived at the bathroom.
"Here it is," you said opening the door to the clean and dainty bathroom. "While you wash that smell out of your hair, I'll see if I can find you a spare change of clothes."
"You don't have to," the Dane said. "It's just my coat that's messed up."
"Okay. I'll just go wash it then." You took the coat and went to the washroom. When you finished placing Mathias' coat in the washing machine, put in the right amount of detergent, and turned on the machine to a quick wash cycle, you went to go see if Mathias was done.
The door to the bathroom was open, and Mathias had left already. You frowned and searched the rest of the second floor. He wasn't on the second floor. Cursing under your breath, you concluded that he had to be snooping around in the kitchen downstairs.
Gathering yourself together and trying to ignore the constant buzzing in your brain, you stormed down the stairs and went into the kitchen. As expected, the obnoxious Dane was making himself at home by grabbing some milk and a carton of strawberries from your walk-in fridge.
"Hey!" you cried going over to stop him. "You can't just eat those! They're ingredients I need for tomorrow's pastries! It's bad enough that I've got a headache from that stupid contest. I don't need another one from you."
"I saw your calendar menu, and it said 'Danishes,' right?" he asked with a grin.
" you said skeptically.
"Then I'm going to helping you, __________," Mathias smiled at you going back to the fridge and bringing out a large block of butter.
"What?" You stared at the Dane in disbelief.
"I grew up learning how to make the most awesoI mean, the most amazing Danishes," he said. "If you can't get the order in on time, it'll be my fault, so the least I can do is help you with those, right?"
"Don't you have somewhere else to be at such a late hour?" you asked placing your hands on your hips.
Mathias shook his head. "To tell you the truth, I was looking for a place for my mind to wander off to after two of my so-called friends just took out of my house," he said. "My buddy, Alfred, took me to that bar because he said the bartender had a funny accent." He began to chuckle.
"Well, I think Allistor's accent is just fine," you huffed. "Though not as fine as yours," you said quietly.
"If you say so, ____________~" Mathias said teasingly.
Shit! He heard me!
"Mark" you started.
"Yes?" The Dane looked at you.
Your face began to grow hot (hopefully from the alcohol, you thought). With Mathias' black coat being washed, his vermilion-colored dress shirt was exposed; it was barely transparent, but transparent enough so that you could see his toned muscles underneath. You tried to keep your eyes on his blues ones to avoid thinking of anything perverted like the times you were with Gilbert. The Dane's hair was already dry, and it was pointed in the air again. You wondered how it stayed like that.
You fluttered your eyes to snap your focus back into reality.
"Huh?" you said stupidly.
Mathias chuckled. "You were saying something?"
"Oh! Yes!" you said. "I
I'd appreciate it if you helped me."
The Dane froze for a moment wondering if he heard you correctly. Then his smile returned. "Can you tell me where you keep the vanilla extract?"
Just to be safe, you decided to have Mathias bake the first batch and test out the credibility of his baking skills. While you waited, the two of you began to chat in the strawberry and buttery-smelling kitchen. The Dane told you that the two friends he was referring to earlier, Berwald and Tino, got jealous about his dashing good looks and steady supply of income and tore out of his house without paying the month's rent.
You talked to Mathias about your relationship with Gilbert and realized how miserable you had been when the two of your were together.
"So Gilbert never helped you out?" Mathias asked adjusting his rolled-up sleeves.
You shook your head. "If he did, he'd only make things worse. He even took pastries sometimes because he liked to feed them to his pet chick."
Mathias looked at you with a dumbfounded expression.
You giggled. "He had this cute little yellow bird that rested in his hair." You let your gaze wander to the empty kitchen. "That was the first thing that I loved about him." You kicked the floor. "Now, that's the only thing I still love about him."
"Why not just let him go completely?" Mathias asked dusting off his floury hands. "You're way too good for someone like him from the way you described him."
"I can't," you said. "It was a damn cute chick."
Suddenly, you flinched as the Dane wrapped his strong arms around your unsuspecting frame.
"Even cuter than me?" Mathias whispered in your ear.
"The alcohol must be getting to you, Mark!" you cried trying to pull away. You could feel his hot breath travelling down your neck.
Mathias refused to let you go and laughed.
"Ha ha! I'm way too awesI mean, amazing to get drunk!" he boasted. He rested his chin on your shoulder so his cheek was touching yours.
"D-D-Dammit, Mark!" you gasped. "You've got some nerve thinking you can make a move after losing to a drinking contest!"
"Don't be such a sour face, ___________," Mathias teased pressing his abdomen against your back. "I'll bet once you taste my Danishes, you'll feel much better~"
"Ha," you scoffed.
By coincidence, the timer rang shortly after. You sighed in relief as Mathias let go of you to check on the pastries. You watched as he put on oven mitts, opened up the hatch, and pulled out the tray of Danishes to examine them.
"I think they're done!" he exclaimed.
You went over and gaped at the beautifully baked flaky perfections. He wasn't kidding about knowing how to make pastries after all. Your mouth watered as you breathed in the buttery sweet scents that Danishes were known for. Just then, you heard the faint sound of the dryer beeping signaling that Mathias' coat was dry.
"Mark, I'm going to check on your coat," you said leaving the Dane alone.
"Okay," he said. "They need to cool off anyway."
When you went upstairs and opened the dryer, you were shocked to see that the coat was clean and dry, but there were wrinkles all over the expensive-looking thing. You couldn't give it back to Mathias looking like this.
You took the coat to your bedroom and laid it on the bed so you could pull out your ironing board. You were grateful that Gilbert had worn suits and uniforms to his meetings otherwise you wouldn't have had it in the first place. After finding the iron, you plugged it in and began to smooth out the wrinkles in Mathias' black coat.
"____________! What's taking so long?!" Mathias called from the kitchen.
"Nothing!" you shouted back. "I'll just be a few minutes!"
After pressing and smoothing out the wrinkled fabric, you were sure Mathias would be satisfied with his clean coat.
You chuckled. This coat brought me a lot more effort than it was worth.
You hung the newly ironed coat on the coat hanger by the front of the bakery and returned to the kitchen. By now, the Danishes had cooled, and Mathias was starting to glaze them. Your stomach began to make noises when you remembered that aside beerwhich you had thrown upyou hadn't eaten anything all day.
Mathias heard you and smiled. He grabbed a shiny pastry and offered it to you.
"Here. Try one," he said, his blue eyes shining with pride that wasn't deserved just yet.
You carefully took the strawberry jam-infused Danish and bit into it with Mathias watching your every action.
The flaky crust and carefully kneaded dough packed with cold butter melted in your mouth. The strawberries were the perfect compliment with their tart sweetness and fruity tingle that danced on your taste buds. There was something a little off though. You took another bite and chewed slowly. The Danish by itself was good, but something didn't belong.
You began to list off the ingredients in your head. After running through them, you realized nothing could have made it taste so odd.
"How is it?" Mathias asked with a prideful grin plastered on his face.
You frowned after swallowing. "It's delicious, Mark. But"
"See, ___________?!" the Dane beamed. "What did I tell ya?"
You rolled your eyes. "But, something tastes funny."
Mathias frowned. "Why would something I made taste funny?"
"I don't know," you said eyeing the Danish. You were starving, but you weren't sure you wanted to take another bite.
"What's so weird about it?" Mathias asked not fully convinced you were telling the truth.
You ran your tongue on the insides of your mouth. "It tastes a little
off. The glaze is too thick, too. Mark, how on earth could you mess up the glaze?"
Mathias smirked mischievously and grabbed you making you drop your Danish in surprise.
"I didn't screw it up, ___________," he insisted in a low voice that sounded much different than his usually loud and high-set range. "I made sure it was extra creamy and thick. How could you say that it was off? That really hurts my feelings, ___________."
He took one hand away and reached for an unglazed pastry and bit into it.
"Welf," he said between bites, "if you won'r eat vhem, then I'll eaf them for you."
"That's not fair!" you cried reaching for his pastry. "You used my ingredients that I paid for with my money!"
Mathias chuckled and lifted the Danish out of your reach. He was too damn tall so no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't get it. You couldn't even jump because he was still holding onto you.
The wild-haired Dane smirked. "Not all of the ingredients came from you, _____________." You began to blush as he stared suggestively into your (e/c) eyes.
"What the hell are you playing at, Mark?" you asked suspiciously. Don't tell me he
"GODDAMMIT, MARK!!! YOU ARE ONE SICK MAN!!!!"
You struggled and broke free and began to reach for the last and only unglazed Danish.
"What did I do?" Mathias asked in a not-so-innocent voice.
! YouAaarrrgh!!" You threw up your hands and began to flail them at the Dane making sure he didn't drop the last one. But it was all in vain because Mathias stuffed the Danish into his mouth and let out a muffled laughter.
"Ha! You can't get it back now~"
"Yeah, I can!" you snapped and dragged Mathias' collar pulling him in.
Mathias almost choked when you kissed him and felt your tongue explore his mouth trying to get back the leftover pastry. He wasn't about to let you win your prize so easily. He fought back and tried to block you, but you persisted and pulled him closer.
Finally, you were able to steal some soggy but still-tasty Danish from the stubborn Dane. You wanted more, but so did he. He continued to keep his lips locked onto yours making sure you wouldn't win anymore over. It took a while to realize that he had already swallowed the last of the untainted pastry and was just teasing you now.
Enraged, you broke the kiss and pushed Mathias away.
"Great," you pouted. "I'm starving, and the rest of the Danishes are soiled no thanks to you."
"Okay, I'll admit it," Mathias said. He hugged you and nuzzled your neck sending shivers down your spine. "I accidentally messed up when I put the orange zest in the glaze because I cut off some pith. I tried to hide it by adding more sugar, but it became a little to thick so I used water, and then cornstarch, and then the whole thing fell apart."
He buried his nose into your hair. "I didn't want to scrap the glaze because
I didn't want to seem like I wasted your ingredients. I was hoping I put enough love in my baking so you'd look past the slip-up."
"M-M-Mark?" you stammered. "So the glaze
you didn't put
Mathias frowned and stared at you with an odd look. Then his mouth twisted into a large grin.
"Ha ha ha!" he laughed even louder than before. "I can't believe you were thinking about something like that, ____________!"
"Judging by the way you worded it, you could have!" you countered blushing furiously.
"Naughty ____________!" Mathias teased.
"It's Gilbert!" you shouted. "He said all sorts of stupid things when I baked, but I would've never imagined you could be like him, too!"
Mathias frowned. "I'll never cheat on you, ___________," he said in a serious tone.
"Don't you mean, 'I'd?'" you asked raising an eyebrow skeptically.
"No, I mean, 'I'll,' as in 'I will,'" Mathias corrected you.
Hmpf!" You crossed your arms and turned away hoping he didn't see you crack a smile.
Mathias wrapped his arms around you again. He leaned in and whispered into your ear.
"If you really want to know what my special ingredient is, you'll have to let me stay overnight
You pinched the back of his hand. Hard.
"Ow!" Mathias cried releasing you in a swift motion.
You pointed a finger at him.
"You're staying here until you can pay me back for the ingredients you wasted, Mark," you snorted looking hard into Mathias' blue eyes.
"Sweet!" Mathias said with a winning smile.
"No!" you barked. "You're sleeping on the couch!"
"Aw! You're no fun, ___________!" Mathias whined.
Mathias ended up sneaking into your bed after prepping more unglazed Danishes so you really did end up getting a taste of what his "special ingredient" was. At least he proved that none of it got into the glaze...or did it? And surprisingly, the first batch of Danishes sold out within the first hour of opening time.