One of Bob’s most prominent, but definitely not earliest, childhood memories was a moment during summer break after his fifth year in school. He was eleven at the time, if he remembers correctly as well, and it was a warm and sunny July afternoon, just on the brink of dawn. He was outside the whole day reading a book, but as he wanted to save the last three chapters for the next day, he went inside earlier than his mother expected him. His mother had a friend over, a woman from down the street whose daughter was in the same school year as Bob but on a different school, or that’s as far as Bob’s memory goes.
He remembers that he silently made his way through the kitchen and past the living room, but stopping on the second step of the stairs leading up to their second floor. He doesn’t remember why he stopped, though, he just did. It was then that he heard his mother and her friend – Susan or Susanne or Susanna or something like that – talk, and to this day, he knows the conversation by heart.
“- to understand. You got to find yourself an older man, like we did, if you want to be happy in life. If you want to settle down. You know what I mean? He doesn’t have to be decades older, five years or more already works well-enough in some cases,” was Susanne explaining, her voice coming from behind the wall his ear was closest to.
“I know what you mean. They’re just-“ his mother started and a sigh escaped her before she continued. “They take such good care of you. Not only are they good with kids, even before you have them, you feel so secure and loved. I can’t quite describe it. They’re not so wild, you know? They listen to you and not only take care of what they want, but also what you want.”
Oh, well. In retrospect that makes a lot more sense than when he had been eleven.
“Exactly,” Susanne replied and the tone of her voice was enough for Bob to sneak upstairs as fast and silently as he could.
Now, Bob never thought that this conversation would have a bigger meaning in his later life. But he got older and a few years after leaving home behind, he began to remember these words more and more. Fast forward to him being twenty-six and knowing quite well what Susanne implied back then and what his mother so emphasized.
Bob is twenty-six and has been working with Frankie Vallie for ten years. He has known him for eleven years. More importantly, Bob has been together with Frankie Castelluccio for six years. And, yeah, he gets what they meant back then. Frankie is a bit older than him, but it’s not weird. He never tried something on Bob when he was under twenty and Bob told himself pretty early on to foster his ridiculous crush on his own without anyone in the band ever knowing.
But, somehow, they still ended up together shortly after Bob’s twentieth birthday – Frankie loves to joke that it was his belated birthday present to Bob – and it’s. It’s great. Frankie is sweet, so, so sweet, and caring. He’s considerate and loving and gentle and sometimes even a bit unsure around Bob, although he lost most of that after their first years. He listens to Bob, really listens – okay, he did that even before they were together and maybe that was a good main reason for Bob to even start harbouring an embarrassing crush but that’s not the point here – and although their fights can get pretty nasty, it’s never violent or low-level. He fits, and that’s the best way Bob can describe it. Just like his mother he doesn’t really have the words to explain it to anyone, but that’s how it is. Frankie just fits him.
Frankie sings his words and moves to his music. Frankie wakes up next to him and kisses him until he wakes up too. Frankie values his opinion. Frankie still doesn’t like paper and insists on their stupid handshake as a valid contract, and so does Bob. Frankie was his first, about a year after they started their relationship and there has never been anyone else for him ever since. Frankie tells him he loves him nearly every day, even in the middle of their fights. It’s like Bob only spent his years growing up with waiting for Frankie to make sense of everything that he couldn’t figure out or couldn’t know he wanted.
Bob blinks, his eyes refocusing from spacing out to where Frankie stands in front of him. He remembers that he wanted to look for something in their bedroom, but now he wonders how he ended up sitting on the edge of their bed with Frankie standing in front of him, a bit taller than himself still in his sitting position.
“Uh, yeah?” he responses, still a bit lightheaded.
“Did you zone out again? I called from downstairs, but you weren’t answering me, so I thought that I might look for the invitations myself,” Frankie explains, a small smile on his face, good-naturedly. His voice is soft and warm and Bob’s cheeks redden a bit as he finally remembers what he actually wanted in here.
“I got them,” he says sheepishly and holds up the two cards in his hands.
Frankie rolls his eyes. “I’ve seen that,” he answers. “What were you thinking about?” he then asks, stepping forward and nudging Bob’s legs apart to stand between them, his hands settling on Bob’s shoulders.
Bob look away from his gaze for a short moment. “You,” he answers truthfully.
Frankie kisses him just as soft as he smiled at him. “I’m flattered, baby, trust me” he says. “But I think we really need to get going. The guys are already waiting for us.
Instead of moving away, Frankie kisses him again, coaxing his mouth open and it’s all warm and well-known and buzzing, making Bob’s stomach turn and himself light-headed. Just like the first time. Like every time. Bob’s hands roam down Frankie’s sides and settle on his hips and he draws him closer, while Frankie kisses his temple and his cheek and then the spot under his ear, just to move further down and bite lightly at his jaw, his faint stubble scratching Bob’s face in a familiar way. Bob’s fingers fist into Frankie’s white shirt and he lets out a staggering breath. This will never get old.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Frankie’s voice is low and criminally husky as he whispers into Bob’s ear. “But you have to let me go.”
And then Frankie loosens Bob’s hands and frees himself out of his grip. He takes Bob’s hands in his instead and heaves him up from the bed, but doesn’t forget to extract himself for a short moment to get the invitations and put them back into their envelope, which then disappears into the pocket inside his suit jacket.
“Now, be good, baby, and come on.”
Bob thinks about bitching to Frankie when they’re leaving their bedroom, but as they manage to make it outside and see Nick and Tommy already waiting with the car, he decides to not run his mouth off for once. Though, before they are close enough for their friends to greet them, Frankie turns his head around and mouths “Later, promise,” to him, followed by a rushed “I love you”.
“C’mon, you lovebirds. We’re already late,” Tommy greets them as his favoured hello for the night.
And when Bob gets behind the steering wheel – why does he even have to drive all the time? – and the rest of the guys settle in as well, he can’t forget about his mother’s words. She was right, he thinks as he catches Frankie’s eyes in the rearview-mirror. Older men take such good care of you.