It was one of those prophetic sunsets, slow and crimson, sinking slowly below the horizon, its final descent hidden by an ominously purple-grey cloud reminiscent of a large bruise. Jake sat atop the small hill, hugging his knees against his chest and staring off into the distance with a thoughtful look.
“It’s gonna rain tomorrow…” he said absently/
The boy behind him shrugged. ‘You think?”
Jake turned his head slightly. “You morphed, Tobias.”
“Dressed too,” the boy said, gesturing to the jeans and t-shirt he was wearing. Rachel’s choice of clothing for his human morph. Rachel. That thought still hurt.
“I didn’t think you would.” He looked back out at the dying sun.
Tobias shrugged and came to sit beside him. They sat shoulder to shoulder for some time watching as the sun finally sank and the sky began to darken. “Jake?” Tobias asked finally in a hoarse whisper, as though he was fighting tears.
“It would be so much easier for me if you…just stopped.”
Jake shrugged. “Easier for you or easier for your grudge?”
Tobias let out a long, frustrated sigh, “Rachel—“
“She didn’t deserve to die, I know. Don’t you think I understand that? Don’t you think that was a hard decision to make?” He turned to look at the other boy who wasn’t even really a boy anymore but a young man. Tobias’ face was scrunched up either from thought or some indefinable feeling.
“It doesn’t make things any better, though. I’m still alone. Everyone else has moved on with their lives—“
“I haven’t.” The words came of their own accord, without him even thinking about them.
Tobias looked up and their eyes met. Some spark lit up the air between them, flitted around like a night butterfly and then flitted away into the growing shadows. “Maybe you should.”
“Do you want to be alone, Tobias?”
“I…I don’t know. I just—“ His voice hitched and he made a helpless sort of gesture with one hand, running it through his dirty-blonde hair and over his face. “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. I’m use to being a hawk, more use to it than being human. I barely remember what it is like to be really human. And I can’t forget the war and just move on like it has never happened. No one else understands! No one—“
Jake reaches out in one fluid motion and puts a finger against the Tobias’ lips to hush him. “I understand. I haven’t really moved on. I think the reason I haven’t is because I haven’t healed. Neither have you.” Jake moved his hand to Tobias’ shoulder. The boy was shivering slightly. The air was getting cold, and Jake moved a little closer to him.
“Well what do we do about it?” Tobias asked, watching Jake carefully but not moving away.
“I think you know the answer to that question.”
They sat in silence for some more time, Tobias contemplating the sky that was now a black canopy, speckled with bright stars, and Jake contemplating Tobias, the way his hair fell in his eyes and the way his lips parted just slightly when he took a deep breath.
“My time’s almost up.”
Jake didn’t say anything, just looked at him.
Tobias began to tremble just slightly. “I can’t,” he whispered. “I’d be completely dependant on you.”
Jake leaned forward and captured Tobias’ lips with his, running one hand through his soft hair, the other wrapped around his waist. Jake pulled back slowly, his forehead touching Tobias’. “Does it really matter that much?”
Tobias’ reserve broke and he fell into Jake’s arms, crying silently, his face buried in Jake’s shoulder. Jake pulled him closer, wrapping his arms tightly around Tobias’ slim frame. He murmured soft, meaningless words of tenderness and comfort while the minutes ticked by, slipping away into oblivion. “It’s over,” Jake said finally.
Tobias sat back and stared at Jake with red-rimmed eyes that desperately needed kissing. “I love you.”
Jake reached out and wiped away a small rivulet of tears still streaming down the boy’s cheek. “I know.”