The single bed could fit both incredibly thin bodies with some space to spare. Gabriel, on top of his twelve years, had accepted an invitation to sleep – once again – at William’s house, taking care of the little boy while his parents were out to celebrate their anniversary. They had played and laughed, done puzzles and baked little muffins; it was now time to sleep. Will was already sleep-drunk; Gabe doubted that he could sleep having his little boy so close to him. They wore lookalike pj’s, where teddy bears drove formula one cars, but the smaller kid was much more gracious in them. He had had some trouble convincing the little boy to brush his teeth and an even bigger trouble convincing him that no, they couldn't sleep in the living room. So there they were, snuggled up in blankets, both tired, although William still strived to keep quiet.
The little one proffered his hands, holding the other boy’s shirt, instinctively searching for the warm chest and smiling when his cheek touched it. He looked like an angel, long-haired and everything. Gabe remembered William’s father asking him to convince the kid of the imperious need to let that hair be cut, to which William answered that he liked his hair the way it was, thank you all very much. He was the wittiest kid.
“Yes, my dear?” He kissed William’s forehead, cuddling him against himself.
“Will you tell me a story?” Bright hazel doe-eyes faced him, begging shamelessly.
“A story?” He nodded as vehemently as possible in his semi-conscious state. “About a prince?”
Those were popular with William: princes that fought dragons and earned treasures and mixed everything up just to get some profit. There were hardly any princesses, for the boy believed that grown-up girls were not much better than the ones he knew - except for his mother, and he was clear about his mother when it came to stories: she couldn’t be there, or else he wouldn’t have permission to roll about in the mud while fighting the dragon; what would be the fun, then? But the kid denied without a hesitation.
“About my future!”
Gabriel caressed the smaller boy’s face with the back of his free hand, this close to bursting in tenderness. God, he loved that boy. He felt like crap for using him like that, for never being able to tell him that he loved him differently than he would a little friend, a little brother. It was awful, in his almost teenage mentality, that he wanted to cover him in kisses, hug him all the time. He loved him, whole pack, heart, mind, body and soul. So he wanted him close – Gabe himself wasn’t perfectly aware of what this close was – and how couldn’t he want so? It was too hard to escape the physicality involved in loving someone – although he was too certain that he wouldn’t as far as move towards him even if he had the chance. He knew that William was a kid, for God’s sake. He would never touch him. Not ever. He wouldn’t dare, he’d never have the guts to. He’d die before he did so.
And he took this responsibility like if loving wasn’t a two-handed way and like if he was too much of a grown-up.
“About your future...” Gabriel closed his eyes, not able to look him in the eyes. “I know what it will be today.” He cleared his throat and smiled, his eyes still closed. “Once upon a time there was a great artist of the music scene called William Eugene Beckett.”
“Junior.” Gabe smiled condescendingly. “He was the biggest rock star that had ever been since Elvis Presley...”
He carried on telling the tale, praising the little boy. Gabe opened his eyes for a couple of instants whenever there was a critical part, smiling and receiving the beautiful view of that enlightened face. He kept playing that game for as long as he could, until the finale, a major, grand concert in Seattle, to close the story. William was already dozing off, smiling drunkenly. Gabe cuddled the smaller boy in a protective way, moving just enough to kiss him in the face. Little William ducked in a sluggish move and held his face up, touching Gabriel’s lips with his own in a light, brief touch, smiling innocently afterwards.
“I love you.”
“I know, my boy.” He hugged him harder, unable to bite back a sigh. “I love you too.”
You can’t imagine how much.