Adrien couldn’t remember that vividly the last time he had felt truly content on his birthday and looking forward to what the rest of the day had to offer. Admittedly though even now his uncharacteristically good spirits had little to do with the practical prospect of getting older. Even a few of his colleagues had remarked that the man had been appearing more enthusiastic than normal, perhaps at times somewhat distracted and lost in thought, yet his usual matter-of-fact demeanour laced with certain attentiveness to the moods of those around him. The day had been filled up mostly with routine paperwork, sorting through criminal files and drafting reports based on pieces of evidence they had collected so far, though a particular case that seemed to be moving forward, slowly but surely, involving a possible contract killer on the loose piqued his interest. While he didn’t stay overtime as much lately as he used to, nor did he pursue the bad habit of taking work home with him anymore, nonetheless he knew that he would ponder over the case in his limited spare time as well.
After work, he made a quick drive back home to freshen up, then left the car in the parking lot of the apartment complex, aware that he might have something to drink later in the evening. The sun was nearing the horizon and painting the sky in golden and pink hues by the time Adrien walked the distance to the bar on foot. Pushing open the door, he scanned the room, brows furrowed in thought. His gaze soared right past the dimly lit faces of the various strangers scattered around the bar until it landed on the familiar profile of the one and only person he was looking for. Immediately, a light smile pulled the corners of his mouth upwards and his heartbeat picked up speed ever so slightly as he sauntered towards the counter and sat down on the stool closest to the bartender. Barely a glance was spared at the couple engaged in a deep discussion a bit further away from them, and his eyes focused on the young man in front of him, the expression tender.
“Hey,” he settled for a simple greeting, his voice quiet and soft. If not for the counter separating the two of them, he would have probably wrapped his arms around Rome in a tight embrace by then, any potential audience, the fact that Rome’s shift was still going on for a good twenty minutes and his own wariness towards public displays of affection be damned. They had really been apart only since that morning when both of them, unfortunately, had to leave for work, and besides that, they had seen a whole lot more of each other over the course of the last few weeks since moving in together. Yet the excited spark in his chest made Adrien wonder just when he had managed to become so sentimental. He placed his hands on the sleek surface of the counter and slightly leaned forward, his posture finally relaxed. Indeed, it was far too easy to feel at ease whenever he was in the same room as Romir, to put any doubts he had on the back burner. The crease between his eyebrows that seemed almost like a permanent, trademark feature of his now smoothened. “How’s it going? Having a busy day?” His eyes scanned his boyfriend’s face curiously.
Romir was in trouble. Not the literal, urgent, life-threatening kind like usual. He was in trouble because he had let himself feel. Not only had he let himself feel, he had let himself act on his feelings. Now, Rome was certainly no celibate priest - he'd been with many men, and he always thought he would continue to be with many men probably until he died. He flirted like there was no tomorrow and he enjoyed it, too. He didn't see the harm. No, the harm came when it became more than flirting or sex. The harm came when he found himself with an entire boyfriend, and when he found himself waking up with said boyfriend on said boyfriend's birthday, and actually being excited to celebrate with him. Of course, all of this would already be a problem regardless of who his boyfriend actually was. So, when the boyfriend was, in fact, a detective, then Romir was in a lot of trouble.
The longer they dated, the more stressed Rome got. But at the same time, God, he was happy. He liked Adrien, a lot. He liked what they had and he didn't feel the need to go to any other men, which was very new for him. But the longer the secrecy went on, the less likely that Romir could continue to lie and deceive his boyfriend. Although he didn't necessarily classify omission of the truth as lying. Adrien had never asked if Romir was hitman, so of course, Romir had never said he was. He'd been honest in saying that he worked at a bar, he'd been honest in saying that he'd never been convicted of any crimes - a question which came early on in their relationship. Rome was smart, a lot smarter than he seemed, but he could also be a complete idiot. He didn't want to end what he and Adrien had, so he just... didn't.
At work, he could distract himself with the process of making cocktails and serving customers; turning on the charm but not flirting, not anymore, because now it made him feel like he was doing something wrong. The day dragged on, and he tried very hard not to think of why it felt that way. When evening rolled around, he found himself constantly looking over at the entrance, and this, he could admit, was because he was waiting for Adrien. Anticipating his arrival. Romir would hate himself for it if the butterflies in his stomach weren't so persistent. He was wiping down the area where a couple had just left when his boyfriend came in, and Romir didn't even bother to hide his smile. He grinned as Adrien came over, and barely hesitated before leaning forward and kissing Adrien over the counter as soon as he'd finished with his greeting. "Hi," he mumbled as he pulled away, throwing the hand towel over his shoulder. "Is not bad. Busy earlier, happy hour rush, you know." He grabbed a glass from under the counter and wiped it down with his towel.
"I make birthday drink for birthday boy. Well, birthday old man," he teased, reaching out to squeeze Adrien's hand as if to soften the blow. "Tell me your day. Co-workers bring you cake? You catch birthday-criminal?" Romir pulled out some tequily, a jug of orange juice and some geradine syrup. He went through the entire cocktail-making process very quickly - it was practically second-nature to him by now. By the time he was finished, he'd made a drink for Adrien that had three layers of red, orange and yellow, with an orange slice balanced precariously on the rim. "Tequila sunrise," he announced as he slid the glass forward, looking proud of himself for pronouncing the name somewhat correctly. "You tell me if you like."
As Adrien felt the soft brush of Rome’s lips against his own, he wondered if he would ever get used to this, truly used to this. Then again, maybe the sensation in the pit of his stomach had more to do with his lingering awareness of the fact that they were in a public place, even more, at Rome’s workplace, so some sort of alertness was only natural. Once Romir pulled away, Adrien had to mentally stop himself from flickering his eyes around the bar in a habitual cursory glance just to be on the safe side.
The ‘old man’ comment made him chuckle lightly. ”Hey, no one’s getting any younger here,” he exclaimed good-naturedly and brushed his thumb against Rome’s palm. ”Besides, maturity usually only increases attractiveness in guys, no?” A sly twinkle sparkled in his eyes and his grin became a bit lopsided as he spoke.
In response to the inquiry about his day, he gave a small shrug. ”There was cake, yeah.” During the last several years he had worked in the police force, his coworkers had had the chance to learn that he’d prefer his birthday not to be acknowledged at all, yet there was nothing that brought a sense of normalcy to the office more effectively than dessert, so why not let the rest of the team have that? ”No birthday criminal-catching though, unfortunately. Had a pretty slow day, just a bunch of documents to go through. Maybe that’s supposed to be a birthday favour from above or something like that. I think we’ll get a lot busier in the next few days or so though.” Some of the previous seriousness returned to his eyes and his smile subsided a bit as his thoughts wandered back to the police headquarters. Unless further prompted, Adrien would gladly drop the subject of work for the time being lest he started reflecting too thoroughly and ruined the jovial mood.
Perhaps he was guilty of wanting to keep his professional life and Romir as far from each other as possible, though as they spent more time together and most of his usual caution dropped, he didn’t mind letting some information slip here and there, particularly when something that had occurred at work was bothering him. However, his reluctance to share the reasoning behind his newfound contentment with anyone else in his life remained unbudging nonetheless. This approach might have been unfair, whether to his boyfriend or the discreet nature of his job was hard to tell, and it was possible that he had let his guard down too early in their relationship. In all honesty, he revelled in the sense that, for a change, the relationship he was pursuing was, truly, just pleasant, loving and surprisingly normal for him. The effortless comfort he felt around Rome distracted him from the perturbing thought pushed to the more cynical part of his mind, now just slightly further out of reach than usual, that, maybe, once the novelty wore off, boredom with what they had might creep into the hearts of either of them. He watched with interest as Rome prepared the cocktail, unsure whether he was following the smooth movements of his hands or his features, quite a captivating sight as the younger man concentrated on the task at hand.
Carefully, as if not to disturb the layers of the drink or cause the citrus slice to fall off the rim with some clumsy gesture, he took the glass which was slid in his direction. ”Thank you,” he said with a grateful smile and took a slow sip of the cocktail. ”It’s quite sweet. And refreshing. I like it.” Maybe a tequila sunrise wasn’t exactly what he’d order at a bar alone, but it seemed fitting for the occasion and his company. ”I’ll have to make sure to leave a generous tip for the talented… and, I must say, very good-looking bartender.” He winked and looked around behind his back briefly. ”So, what do you have left to do here today?”
Romir certainly did not share Adrien’s concerns with public displays of affection. At all. He liked affection and he loved attention, so a mix of the two was pretty perfect for him. Of course, he always tried to respect Adrien and his wishes, but he was prone to a pretty big amount of PDA. He could read a room, and he knew when it was appropriate and when it wasn’t - most of the time, at least. And sure, maybe other patrons at the bar didn’t need to see the two of them kiss, especially the ones Rome had been trying to butter up for a tip, but there was no way that Rome was not going to let himself kiss his boyfriend on his boyfriend’s birthday, after having not seen him all day.
He grinned at Adrien’s teasing, relieved that he was relaxed enough to flirt with Rome even if they were at his workplace. Really, he worked at a bar, so it wasn’t like it was totally inappropriate. “Da, well, might just be you,” he agreed, and he did actually mean it. Then again, Rome thought he’d find Adrien attractive no matter what, which only showed that his feelings ran much deeper than pure physical attraction.
It was so conflicting, hearing about Adrien’s work. Rome wanted to hear about it, because this was his boyfriend, and he liked to hear about Adrien’s day. He wanted things to go well for him. He wanted Adrien to catch criminals, to feel like he was doing the right thing, to get along with his co-workers. But it was so hard to listen to Adrien, to want to support him, without being reminded of Rome’s own secret occupation. How could Rome say he hoped that Adrien caught whoever he was after, and then go off and commit a crime which Adrien might very well end up investigating? He’d caught on very early in their relationship that Adrien did not like to talk about work - Rome was nothing if not observant - and he definitely took advantage of that. If he didn’t ask for details, Adrien wouldn’t give them, and Rome wouldn’t have to know if he was after someone he knew or even after Rome himself. Rome knew it wasn’t sustainable, much like their relationship. It pained him so much to think that one day he wouldn’t have Adrien. He knew he’d probably have to end it some way or another, to keep himself safe and out of prison.
Despite the fact that they’d not been dating for too long, and certainly not living together long, Romir had grown so accustomed to Adrien just being there. To going to sleep and waking up with him. To visits at work and walks home. Talking in bed until four in the morning, sitting in silence in the living room because sometimes they didn’t need to say anything to be together. Rome loved to ask about Adrien’s work friends because he liked to know that he had them, because Rome wanted so desperately for Adrien to be happy. He wanted to make him happy. Rome was intense and he was full-on, and Adrien was so much quieter and level-headed, but Rome liked that about him. He felt calmer around Adrien and he hoped that Adrien had fun with him. Rome could never depend on anyone, he knew that, but God, he could so vividly see himself growing to depend on Adrien.
He smiled when Adrien confirmed that he did, in fact, like the drink, and reached over to the people on either side of Adrien to collect empty glasses while still listening to his boyfriend talk. He clicked his tongue as if disapproving of Adrien, but the smile on his face told a different story. “Sir, I am taken man,” he teased. He placed the glasses on the back counter where they would later be taken to be washed up, and glanced up to check the clock above him. “My shift pr...” He paused, the word ‘practically’ being a difficult one with his accent, and then shook his head. “My shift basically over. I’m just wait for next girl.” He knew she’d be at the bar shortly to take over, so he folded his elbows on the bar and leaned in close to Adrien, fingertips grazing the other man’s forearm. “What are plans for birthday night? We go out dinner, fancy restaurant, we go home, get take-away...” He grinned, and gestures to himself with the hand that wasn’t touching Adrien. “Your wish, my command.”
”Ah, must be one lucky guy you’ve got waiting home then,” he commented with what had to be a mock dejected sigh and lowered his head to continue sipping the orange-hued drink. He had to admit that the overall sweetness with a sour, fruity tang from the orange juice was growing on him.
He was tempted to offer an extremely impractical and clichéd response along the lines of ‘don’t care, I’ll go anywhere if we get to spend time together’. Still reoccurring was the constant battle between Adrien’s two sides: one that enjoyed staying at home with takeaway or some quick makeshift meal and the other one which craved for some of the more refined indulgences in life and was arguably satisfied less often. A dilemma that wasn’t alleviated much by having a partner, as both activities were equally diverting to engage in with his boyfriend, at least to Adrien. He knew Rome was likely to feel a bit differently. Practicality and a slightly more serious note resurfaced in his tone. ”What about that Italian place we talked about? The one that’s near here. It seemed fancy enough from the pictures, plus I don’t think they ask you to make reservations beforehand. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t some unofficial black-tie dress code either.” Just so they didn’t have to worry about making a detour back home and bringing out their most sophisticated outfits for the outing.
”Unless you’re feeling tired though? I mean, it’s probably been a long day, for both of us.” Although he could typically recognise when Rome seemed too worn-out after work and it didn’t seem to be the case now, it never hurt to check. ”You know I love spending time alone with you, just the two of us far away from prying eyes and all...” Once he got into the right mindset, the light-hearted flirtation which might have become just a bit too straightforward by then came naturally. However, there was little he allowed himself to do with his hands for added emphasis in the middle of the bar or ways in which to use their increased proximity as Romir leaned forward. Then another thought swiftly occurred to him, aimed at his own predictability. ”But we do that all the time already, don’t we?” So much for not being an old man.
At last, Adrien noticed a young woman with a determined gait and similar attire to that of his boyfriend heading in, he supposed, their direction. ”Hmm, is that? …” The question trailed off as his guess turned out to be correct and this was indeed the colleague whose arrival they had been expecting. Finishing up his drink, he waited until Rome had left the bartending duties to the girl and prepared to leave. ”All set?” Once the other man was beside him again, though without the counter separating them this time, as they headed for the door for a brief moment Adrien put his hand on the small of his boyfriend’s back. The smile in his face was unwavering as his eyes once again easily locked with Rome's for a second.
Romir had to admit, he thought the way Adrien stressed about little details was adorable. The way he thought about every single thing - whether somewhere was fancy enough, if they'd been before, if it was close enough, if they'd have to make a reservation, if there was a dress code. If Rome was tired or wanted to do something else, as if Rome didn't feel like spending time with Adrien was all he ever wanted to do for the rest of his life. He grinned at his boyfriend as he spoke, aware that he was probably unresponsive for way too long, but he couldn't help it. He felt sometimes like he'd struck gold. Romir himself was very not details-oriented. Not when it came to his daily life, anyway. He was disorganized, and often left a mess wherever he went. Except for work, both types, but he was prone to leaving clothes lying around his and Adrien's apartment.
He opened his mouth to assure Adrien that he was genuinely happy with whatever the other man wanted, but his eyes drifted over to the girl who'd come to take over his shift as she walked through the bar. He sent a quick wink to Adrien and moved to meet her as she moved behind the bar. He gave the girl a quick rundown on who he'd served, where the regulars were, any specials and everything that she needed to know for the night. He removed his small apron and went into the back storeroom to get changed, opting for jeans and a little button-up that he'd bought in case they ended up going out. He figured he'd put it on now, and if they ended up going home it didn't matter because he was likely to end up with it off anyway. He made sure he had everything before heading back out to meet Adrien, smiling at him and standing probably unnecessarily close, but he was just glad to not have the bar counter between them. "Yeah," he muttered, and lead the way for them to leave. At the feeling of Adrien's hand on his back, Romir turned to glance at his boyfriend, and smoothly reached behind him to grab Adrien's hand and interlock their fingers.
He pulled Adrien through the crowds and out of the bar, and a little ways down the street until they reached a private enough area. At which point, Romir promptly turned to Adrien, and wrapped his arms around Adrien's neck to pull him into a kiss that wasn't entirely public-appropriate. Still, he seemed very satisfied with himself as he pulled away with a grin, resting his forehead against his boyfriend's. "Adrien. Is your birthday. We do what you want. I only want be with you. Da?" He raised his eyebrows as if daring Adrien to disagree, but there was only affection and teasing in his gaze.
Adrien had been looking forward to a moment like this all day, which only intensified once they locked eyes back in the bar. Perhaps at some point in time, he wouldn’t even have considered taking the initiative to kiss Rome in some place of dubious privacy. However, as of late he had been feeling reckless enough, likely some of his boyfriend’s more lively spirit and boldness rubbing off on him, so he was almost certain that one way or another they would have ended up in an embrace in some half-way secluded street corner. As their lips met rapidly, there was no hesitation on Adrien’s side when he parted his lips and put his hands on Rome’s waist, in a gentle motion sliding his palms towards the other man’s spine, to pull him a bit closer.
A little hum resonated in his throat once the touch of the other man’s lips was gone. For a moment, it seemed as if the wind had been knocked out of his lungs. Being sometimes left a bit breathless apparently was on the list of things that didn’t seem to fade away as they continued dating, and so he took a sharper inhale. With their foreheads pressed together, he smiled and softly brushed his nose against Rome’s. Even though they were technically only making dinner plans for that evening which inevitably and wholly had to involve each other, being told that he only wanted to be with Adrien felt like it perhaps meant more than just that. His eyelids had lowered, but as he looked up he saw a gaze that mirrored his own. ”Well… I guess we can at least agree on the main points then.” Although he focused on the latter and hadn’t paid that much attention to the part related to ‘doing what he wants’, he figured the remark might come across as more playful and brazen than intended. On the other hand, if he thought about it more carefully, doing what he wants for the evening did sound tempting. One of the hands previously on his boyfriend’s back now reached up so he could cup his cheek and gently run a finger across his jaw.
As if with some urgency, he pressed his lips against Rome’s once more, savouring the brief moment of intimacy between them. ”So, fancy dinner? We haven’t done one of those in a while.” The decision came slower than he would care to admit – their close proximity truly was a distraction, one he adored, and he was glad to know that it wouldn’t, couldn’t backfire on him. In truth, he had to put some effort into directing his mind towards the restaurant, visualising an elaborate and probably overpriced meal accompanied by a glass of wine or champagne, rather than continuing this pursuit that had his heart thrumming in ways it never did when they were apart. ”And afterwards...“ Well, they didn’t quite need a concrete plan of action for whatever would follow; he wasn’t certain why he had said that. He supposed he was positively dazed.
Some commotion in the distance that nonetheless seemed to his ears closer than he would like it to be finally got his brain back into gear. The soft thud of approaching footsteps, several voices engaged in bubbling chatter, cars passing by, none of which Adrien appreciated too much. ”We should get going,” he spoke with determination, the usual thoughtfulness creasing his eyebrows again. Yet he lingered and his hand still lightly caressed Rome’s face. ”But I’d very much like to continue this conversation later. At home.” Definitely only once they would have returned to their apartment. He had done enough that evening – and probably still would until arriving home – so that extreme shock would be unwarranted if a colleague or someone else involved with the police force encountered him lovingly staring at or getting handsy with Romir out in public.
Rome laughed as Adrien brushed their noses together and assured him that they could agree on the key parts of what they wanted to do for the evening. Rome was a touchy person, but he'd never been particularly romantic. He liked touch when he was with someone intimately, sure, but he was a one-night-stand kind of guy. Until Adrien, that was. And now he found himself craving his boyfriend, almost all the time. Not even in a sexual way, even if that was certainly part of it. He liked to hold Adrien's hand. Touch his arm. Bump his shoulder. Just be around him. Rome tried not to think about what it meant too much, but he knew, deep down, he knew that Adrien had probably ruined Romir for other men. After their inevitable break up, Rome would have to remain by himself for the rest of his life.
Rome grinned into the second kiss, making it a little bit messy, but he didn't mind. "Fancy dinner sound perfect," he agreed in a whisper. He couldn't even be bothered to wonder if people were walking past them, looking at them. They weren't exactly in a private area, but then again, at this point all they were really doing was hugging. Romir hadn't moved his arms from around Adrien's shoulder, keeping them in close proximity to one another. "Afterwards," he repeated teasingly, in almost a sing-song voice, raising his eyebrows suggestively. Rome knew that he didn't need to say anything else for Adrien to know what he was, well, suggesting.
And even if Adrien was implying that they should move apart, Rome thought the way he became so serious and focused was hilarious. He leaned in for a quick, close-mouthed peck, and reached up to grab Adrien's hand from his face so that he could hold it. Detaching himself from his boyfriend, apart from their locked hands, he moved to stand beside him, leaning in close. He moved both of them forward, wrapping his free hand around Magnus' bicep as if he was keeping Romir upright. "To fancy restaurant," he announced, giving Magnus' hand a gentle squeeze.