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 “I don't know why you find this so fun, guys,” Frank glared, ripping up the last of the chess club leaflet he’d been handed earlier and tossing it into the bin. “Don't be so down, Frankie. I’m sure you'd enjoy it more if you were tall enough to see over them,” Gabe sighed mock-wistfully, cackling as he dodged the sharp elbow Frank jerked out. “It’s fun because we’re superior, dude. They’re all teeny tiny little children with no experience, lost and alone in these vast halls of despair. We’re the big emo kids who know their shit, standing on a table and laughing at how awkward they are. It’s fun!” Pete tried, but Frank still wasn't having it, just calling up to them with “Pete, half of them are taller than you anyway. I mean, look at that guy over there! Not only is he a good seven inches taller than you, his hair is way better.” Gabe grinned at the slight falter in Pete’s happiness, turning around on the tabletop to look at this guy (who, if Frank’s measurements were right, was only an inch and a half smaller than him.) “Jesus take the wheel, mi buen señor- forget Pete, that guy has better hair than everyone.” And he did. It was a soft brown, thick and wavy with the tips brushing past his shoulders. The black beanie he was wearing matched his oversized hipster glasses that Gabe could agree without a doubt could never look better on anyone else. “And everyone has better hair than you, Gabe,” Frank called up, because he’d long since given up on standing and slouched down against the wall to flick through the comic book he’d nicked off of Mikey or someone. “Fuck you, Iero. My hair is the mejor, tú cabron.”

“We might be able to argue less on that if you’d take that hat off for once. Why do you have to dress like a tacky strip club sign 24/7?” a voice piped up from behind them, and Gabe used every ounce of patience he had in him (not much, but it’s the thought that counts) to not instantly punch the guy when he looked back to face him. “Fuck off, you prestigious dickwad. You look like you’ve popped your head in from a 1880s British school,” he spat back, because he was never in the mood for Tom, no matter how many beautiful-haired angel faces’ there were walking around. “It’s called professionalism, Saporta, and it’s how I’m going to get a job. That and the grades I’m actually achieving, instead of fucking my professors once in a while to keep myself from failing.” Pete’s jaw dropped at the same time Frank stood up. “I swear to god, Conrad, shut your fucking mouth before I punch you in the face,” he growled, which was an impressive feat considering Frank was standing on a table and he was only just taller than Tom. “Whatever, Iero,” he sighed, but even seething Gabe could tell that he wasn't in the mood for Frank to give him a black eye. “Seriously, Tom, move your ass along or I swear to God I will kick you into next Tuesday,” Gabe glowered, and somewhere in the back of his mind he could feel Pete’s hand grip onto his hoodie sleeve.

And maybe that would have worked if Tom had just left then and there (and lit himself on fire and then have his mom send Gabe a tape of his painful death) because then Gabe could have calmed down in seconds and it would have been fine. Tom did turn around to walk up to the hall, but he only got a few steps before he barged into the angel-faced guy and spilled his coffee all over his white v-neck. Instead of apologising like a normal human being, he looked up at him and sneered “Watch where you’re going, you girly ass faggot,” loud enough for pretty much everyone in the hallway to here. Angel face frowned a little but stepped back anyway and looked like he was about to apologise when Gabe tugged his arm out of Pete’s grip, jumped of the table and shoved his way through the mass of intrigued freshmen until he was right behind Tom. “You fucking asshole,” he spat, connecting his fist with Tom’s cheek the second he turned around. The hallway was silent with shock as Tom’s hand flew up to cover his cheek. Gabe knew he wouldn't report it, because the humiliation of being punched and not fighting back was certainly smaller than being punched and snitching on the guy who did it. Somewhere from behind him, he heard Pete jump off of the table and a few seconds later, he felt a strong hand pulling his arm back. “Move along, people!” Pete called, raising his other arm in a swooping motion. “Nothing to see here, go to your lectures or whatever!” he added, clapping a hand on Gabe’s shoulder as he adjusted his snapback and glared at Tom. “I think you know what’s best for everyone here, Conrad. Fuck off,” he sighed, and Tom actually did for once, shoving past angel face once again to disappear down the hall. “Really, Gabe? He would have just pissed off if you’d let him.”

“Yeah, but,” Gabe tried, before gesturing at the large coffee stain angel face was frowning at on his previously white shirt. “I-it’s fine, really,” he spoke up, and if Gabe was expecting a voice from him then it wouldn't have been this high or soft. “Thanks for that, though.”

“Don't sweat it. He called me a neon strip-club sign a few minutes ago. Have you got a change of clothes or something? ‘Cause in the nicest way possible, you reek of coffee.”

Angel face’s face fell. “Oh. I uh, have spare clothes and stuff in my dorm- I-I mean, obviously- but it’s on the top floor and I uh, have a class to be at in about five minutes... I guess I’ll deal with a few weird looks for an hour so. Thanks again, though. Seriously,” he sighed, but then he flashed Gabe a small smile and the sun shone down from the heavens on his beautiful face. “Wait, dude. I’ve got a spare shirt or something in my bag, if you want. It’s kinda my fault he walked into you in the first place, so it’s the least I can do. Here, wait  a sec,” he said, not giving angel face an opportunity to politely refuse before he dropped his bag off his shoulder, unzipped it and started digging around in it until he came into contact with the bright yellow fabric. “Dude, you’re turning the guy into a crayon,” Frank spoke up from behind him, snickering when he jumped. “Don't you have a sociology lecture to get to or something? And sorry about the colour,” he added as he handed it to angel face. “Oh no, it’s fine, I like yellow!” he beamed, and Gabe’s heart melting was important enough to ignore Frank muttering “I don't even take sociology what the fuck” in the background. “When do you need it back by?”

“Whenever’s cool for you, dude. My dorm number’s 418, so just swing by some time to give it back,” Gabe managed, and he was hoping Pete was paying enough attention because he wanted a pastel rendition of the smile he’d just been given by Thursday, please. “Thanks a ton, man! I’ll see you around!” he said, zipping off to the bathroom followed by a confused looking shorter guy to change before Gabe actually got to introduce himself or ask his name. “Wow his legs are long,” Pete jumped in, sticking his head onto Gabe’s shoulder as he watched angel face disappear. Holy shit, they were. Oh, those legs.

“Earth to Gabriel? Frank chimed in, poking him on the chest. “I know we’ve got time to kill before our respective classes and lectures, but can we not do it standing in a hall or punching my roommate in the face? He’s gonna give me shit for that later, I fucking know it. Can we go up to yours and watch Dawn of the Dead?”

“Frankie, we’ve watched that movie every single week since we started college,” Pete sighed, but he didn't seem to be objecting and the other two turned to follow Frank to the elevator. It was only the first week, so everything was smooth and silky, but by the fifth or sixth, Gabe could almost guarantee that it would be broken. “What’s your point? It’s a fucking fantastic movie – dubbed the best zombie movie ever by Mikeyway himself.” Gabe couldn't argue with that. He didn't get a chance to speak to Mikey very often, but although they were kind of a greasy, gangly nerd, they were fucking hilarious and had A+ taste in horror films.

-

im out of weed. snd help – joe

Pete sighed, looking down at his buzzing phone. “Joe’s out of weed again. Whose turn is it to find the freshman dealer this time? Chislett something or other, I think. I’ve got the dorm number.”

“Remind me why Joe can’t get his own weed? Or get his boyfriend to do it for him?” Gabe frowned, keeping his eyes fixed on the screen as someone got their head slammed shut in a car door and it exploded everywhere. They’d almost finished the movie, and it wasn't like Gabe didn't know what was going to happen, but he was comfortable. “Whilst Andy doesn't mind Joe smoking weed as long as it’s not around him, his straight-edge-ism kinda prevents the whole buying drugs thing, even if it’s for someone else. And Joe’s high, so he’ll probably get the dealer found out and then get a bunch of freshmen on his ass. C’mon, I went last time,” Pete shrugged, not taking his pencil away from whatever he was doing in his sketchbook. “Dibs not it!” Frank shouted, far too loud for someone who was only just next to him. Gabe groaned excessively for about a minute until Frank hit him to stop him interrupting the movie. “This is fucking bullshit, man, they’re gonna think I smoke weed!” he complained, jumping up off of the couch and contemplating whether to just go in a t-shirt or not. The shirt itself said on it ‘my sexual preference is yes’, which probably would have gotten him beaten up in high school. The great thing about college was that next to no-one cares about gender or sexuality. Gabe can name multiple sophomores, junior and even senior boys that come in dressed in drag on a monthly or sometimes weekly basis. Nobody really gives a shit (well. Almost nobody. There’s that 0.5% of dickshits that try and bash you around for it, Tom Conrad being a shining example. It was just his luck he got roomed with Frank, the most proud bisexual in the entire college (he has the flag tattooed on his leg) and the guy who has like, no straight friends.) Gabe decided he’d miss less of the movie if he didn't spend time rooting around his laundry mess for a hoodie, so he just went in a t-shirt. His hat was also with the hoodie, and it felt a bit weird walking without it, but he could deal. “Fuck you both and see you later,” he called behind him as he shut the door and spent a split second remembering which way number 29 would have been.

The numbering system they used here confused him, even though it was perfectly simple. He’d elected to stay in the same dorm this year (and so had Pete) so he hadn't moved from the fourth floor, but contrary to his freshmen beliefs, there actually weren't four hundred and something rooms. Take his dorm number, for example – 418. The 4 part did not mean 400th, it meant the floor number, and he hadn't understood that until his second or third week. The 18 part is kind of self explanatory (although stupid 18 year old Gabe really hadn't got that.) “’Sup, Saporta,” someone said in a passer-by voice, so he only responded with a “Yo, Dirty,” because 1) he didn't particularly want to stop and chat and 2) Dirty was really only Pete’s friend, so he wasn't sure what he’d say if he did stop. So he carried on walking past the identical green doors, counting in twos as he flitted past lost-looking freshmen and stoned juniors holding out hands for a high-five (which he never rejected, unless the hand was covered in something icky. It was a rule not to reject a high-five.) The dorms on this floor were the biggest, and Gabe didn't know how he’d ended up with Pete Wentz in the biggest dorm on the entire floor, but he was never leaving. Pete couldn't ever leave, either. The tattoo of Gabe’s face on his ankle was a binding death contract that stopped him from doing so.

When he reached 29, he could smell the pot from outside. He knocked anyway, because even if you're high it’s not nice to be barged in on. A fazed looking blond guy answered a few seconds later, displaying a similar looking brown-haired one dancing on the other side of the room and a few backs watching and laughing at him. “Chislett, right?” he sighed, and seriously, he was charging Joe more than he payed to buy the weed this time. “Uhuh. What can I do you?” he yawned, a surprisingly thick Australian drawl showing through. “Uh, is 10 grams of pot cool?”

“Yeah, sure. Come in, we’re stinking up the hallway. I’ll be back in a sec,” he hummed, shutting the door behind Gabe so fast that he didn't bother telling the guy that the hallway outside already reeked. He was kind of just left to stand awkwardly by the fridge, his only distraction being the brown haired guy (who had now lain down on the floor and was failing miserably but hilariously at doing the worm.) “Hey, it’s you!” a voice called out, making him jump a little. He tore his glare away from worm-guy to meet the eyes of his one and only angel face, holding his hand up in a little wave as he walked over. With the boots he was wearing (he hadn't been wearing them earlier) he was definitely taller than Gabe. “Oh, hey,” he grinned, shifting about on his feet. The air in the room was thick and difficult to breathe, and angel face wasn't making it any easier. “You never told me your name,” he managed, and it sounded a little forward and weird and undoubtedly cliché, but angel face didn't seem to pick up on it. “Bill- well, technically it’s William.”

“Nice to meet you, Bill-technically-William. I’m Gabe-technically-Gabriel.” Angel face laughed, and the air seemed to clear a little bit. “D’you like Gabe better?”

“Definitely. I get called Gabriel by my dad, not by my friends,” he grinned, and he was too happy to even care that he’d just called angel face a friend. “Gabe it is!”

“D’you like Bill, Will or William better?”

“I like them all- mix it up, I don't really give a shit.”

“Guillermo,” Gabe tried, getting an eyebrow raise from him. “It’s Spanish for William, sorry.”

“Nah, don't apologise. That’s kinda cool, actually. I didn't know there was a Spanish version of my name.” Gabe nodded at the warm smile he was receiving and eventually smiled back, because he needed some excuse for his flushed cheeks and it kind of fitted the look. “Yo, Bill, I think we’re out of vodka!” someone shouted from the minifridge on the table. “Who’s the guy next to the fridge? Can he check it for vodka?”

“Butcher, you’re seriously fucking telling me you’ve downed that entire bottle? Fuck off are you having more!” Bill exclaimed, leaning back on the fridge door as the short guy approached. “Hey, this is the guy who punched Tom Conrad in the face for me this morning and gave me his shirt,” he explained, gesturing towards him. “Wassup, dude? I’m the Butcher, nice to meet you, and thanks for punching that cocknugget in the face this morning,” he slurred, holding out a wobbly hand for Gabe to shake. “Uh, you’re welcome? I’m Gabe.”

“Yo, everyone! This motherfucker’s Gabe! He’s the guy that saved Bill’s ass this morning!” Butcher called back at everyone else, ignoring the frowns that overcame both Gabe and Bill’s face as he said it. “My ass wasn't saved, it was just given a helping hand,” he protested, pale cheeks tinting pink when Gabe snorted. “Hey, man! Haven't seen you in a while,” Alex called over, and Gabe didn't know how he hadn't seen him before. “Oh hey, Suarez! Tell Ryland he owes me ten bucks,” he grinned, turning back to Bill when Alex nodded and started looking back to worm-guy (who may have passed out on the floor) and adding “So is anyone here your roommate?”

“Yeah, actually. Sisky’s the guy trying to balance the can on his head. He’s surprisingly drunk for this early in the day. What is it, 2 in the afternoon? I don't really wanna be in here ‘cause the smell’s making me feel sick, but I don't wanna go back to our dorm alone, so I think I’ll just stick around.” Chislett skipped back into the room from presumably the bathroom and handed Gabe a snaplock bag full to the brim. “That’s forty five bucks, dude,” he hummed, and Bill’s face clouded over slightly. “D’you need any rollers, or-”

“Thanks, but it’s not for me and I don't actually know what the fuck a roller is. D’you have five bucks? I’ve only got a fifty.”

“If it’s not for you, who’s it for?” Bill asked, pulling at the hem of his (well, Gabe’s) t-shirt slightly. “My friend Joe. He’s stoned at the moment and he buys us food if we get off our asses and buy the weed for him. Pot isn't my scene, hermano,” he added, and Bill’s smile came back. “Here ya go, come again and all that shit, unless you wanna stay?” Chislett coughed, but Gabe shook his head. “Nah, I’m in the middle of watching Dawn of the Dead, so I gotta dash.” The smell is making me want to gag, he didn't say. Then he remembered Bill’s remark about how he didn't want to be there. “Hey Guillermo, you wanna come with? The air’s pretty fresh in our dorm, and we’ve got plenty of space if you don't mind gory movies.”

-

“I’m back, losers. Did you pause the movie?”

Frank laughed, not moving from where he was spread out on the couch. “Fuck no. I started another one, but I dunno where the case is and the name wasn't on the disc so we weren't sure what it was called. I think we’ve got time for one more, then I’ve gotta go to my physics lecture. How much did the guy charge you for it?”

“Forty five bucks. I don't care if that’s a rip-off, but Joe’d better give me ten bucks extra or I’m selling it to someone else. You want anything to drink, Bill?”

Frank paused the movie and stuck his head up over the couch, probably internally sighing when he realised that Gabe had made yet another friend who was about a foot taller than him. “Where’s Wentz? And we’ve got beer, juiceboxes, ribena and water.” Gabe gestured to the open fridge when Bill nodded. “Can I have a beer?”

“Yeah, ‘course. Help yourself,” he added, grabbing one for himself and going over to shove Frank’s legs off of the couch and land heavily down next to him. “I’m down here,” Pete spoke up, and Gabe would have been surprised if it wasn't something that had happened many, many times before. “Why, Pete?”

“Inspiration.”

Gabe nodded – not that he understood how you could get inspiration from the floor or anything, but it was probably best not to ask. Pete seemed to get inspired by weird things – he’d sit outside the bathroom and listen to him sing in the shower or watch Frank drum on his knees because the flow of the music helped him write or something like that. He’d stopped going to slam poetry with that Ross kid when Conrad had showed up, but he still wrote. Lyrics, poems, sometime just word vomit. It made sense to him, and it was a way of venting for him. “Who’s the tall guy?” Frank huffed, and Pete sat up to join in conversation. “Chicos, this is Bill. From this morning, remember?”

“I don't remember him being that tall, if that’s what you’re asking,” he frowned, and Bill laughed. “These trusty boots do wonder to your height,” he mock-sighed, tilting his head at Gabe as if to ask do you mind if I sit down and beaming in a way that made Gabe want to slit his own throat when he nodded and patted the couch space next to him. “Dude, this is Zombieland! I love this movie!” he exclaimed, but he was still sat on the edge of the couch, in a way that kind of spelt out that he wasn't quite comfortable in his new surroundings. “You've got good movie taste – you can stay,” Pete said from near their feet. “Pete, get off the floor and watch the fucking movie.”

-

Bill was... overwhelmed. It wasn't necessarily in a bad way, he’d just been handed a lot on his first day, and he needed a little time staring at the ceiling from his bed to sort it out. When he’d come back from Gabe’s, it had been about 4, and Sisky had been passed out on his bed. He didn't really get hangovers, the lucky shit, so when he woke up at 5:20 he was practically fine after a glass of water. Now he was just hungry.

“Dinner’s not ‘til 6:45, Bill...” he trailed off, reading through the welcome leaflet they’d been handed everywhere they turned. “What the shit? Breakfast ends at 9:30!” he whined, tossing the leaflet into the air and watching it float to the ground. “How much would I have to pay you to get you to go down at your weird early morning times and bring breakfast up to me, honey?” he pleaded, sticking his bottom lip out when the taller boy laughed. “Nothing, because I’ll never do it.” Sisky pouted for a few more seconds before he gave up and let his grin take over his face. “Where’d you go, anyway? Everyone was drunk or high, and Chislett was convinced you’d jumped out of the window. I remember you leaving, but you didn't tell me where you went. Or you did and I was too drunk to remember.”

“Probably the former, because the thick stench of marijuana was making me feel ill and I wasn't going to stick around any longer to try and get you to listen. You don't listen very much when you're drunk, Sisky.”

“I wonder why?”

“Fuck off. Anyway, I went to Gabe’s dorm and watched a movie with him and two of his friends. You would have liked them, I think. They’re definitely closer to your height than mine,” Bill noted, opening the polished fridge and staring in dismal at the emptiness of it. Also, why was Gabe’s room so much better than theirs? And Chislett’s, for that matter? “Great... who’s Gabe?”

“You know, the guy who punched that other guy? You were sober when I told you that story, for fucks sake. No, scratch that- you were literally there when it happened. Come on, Sisky. You can’t have forgotten this easily. I’m literally wearing his shirt as we speak!”

“You say literally a lot, William. And yeah, I remember the guy now. He seemed pretty cool, although he also did dress a little bit like a neon crayon.” Bill frowned, slamming the fridge door shut with a glare at the white door. He was also hungry, and he knew Sisky’s complaining would only get louder and more constant until it was dinner. “He’s really nice. His roommate Pete’s a little weird, but chill, and his friend Frank is tiny. They’ve both got too many tattoos to have got them legally, but they’re pretty cool. Frank’s the guy who’s roomed with Tom Conrad, the dick.”

Sisky nodded in understanding. “Thank you for that little insight into Gabe’s social life, honey. Now... who do we know who will have food? I’m considering killing and eating you, and there’s still an hour and fifteen minutes until dinner.”

“Uh... I’m too pretty to be eaten?” he tried, shrieking in horror when he started to get tickled. “I know you have a mars-bar somewhere in this room, Will. I’m gonna need you to hand it over or someone’s gonna get hurt, and it’s not gonna be me!” he shouted, grinning kinda evilly as William shrieked again and dashed to stand on his bed. As Sisky started to moon-walk towards the bed, Bill started to to bang on the wall behind him, because he knew full well that Butcher had one of the only single dorms on the entire floor, lucky little shit (as much as he loved Sisky, he snored a lot and played bass in the early hours of the morning.) “FUCK OFF, ADAM, I’M TRYNA SLEEP!” was the only response, so Bill was screwed. “Wait, wait!” he gasped, desperately pushing him away as he was tickled again. “I have a proposal!” The younger man raised an eyebrow but jumped off of the bed anyway, putting a hand on his hip. “I’m listening.”

“If you promise not to tickle me or root around for my mars bar, we can go to a café and I’ll pay as long as it’s under $20. Deal?” he pleaded, not uncrossing his arms until Sisky slowly nodded. “Alright... d’you wanna get changed? You’re starting to resemble a neon crayon yourself, actually.”

“Gabe doesn't dress that bad, Sisky.”

“His t-shirt literally says ‘my sexual preference is yes’, Bilvy. Tell me he didn't impulse buy that in the early hours of the morning.”

“Fuck off, I’ll get changed,” Bill sighed, shrugging off his jacket and tossing it onto his bed whilst he started to rummage around for a nice t-shirt he could also wear to dinner. He’d had to go to this freshmen assembly thing as soon as he put his suitcase down, then he’d spent a good two hours learning French history and had somehow ended up with a bunch of random stoners in Chislett’s dorm whilst his friends got drunk, so he’d had no chance to unpack. His usual go-to t-shirt was also covered in coffee at the moment, so he was a little stuck. “Adam, you got a white or light grey v-neck I could borrow? I wanna wear my jacket and-” he tried, being cut off when the said grey shirt hit him in the back of the head. “Thanks,” he said dryly, then after taking the yellow one off, “Gabe’s dorm has a couch, and one of them brought in a nice TV, instead of dealing with that make-do box.”

“Dude, what the fuck we should so do that. When are you going home next? It’s a... Tuesday, yeah? I’m going at the weekend, so I’ll just grab the one from my room. Where should we put it?”

“Should I even try intervening in this in-depth conversation you're having with yourself?”

“Shut your mouth and put on a shirt, Beckett. There’s a campus café, I think that’s probably best. Do-” A sharp knock to the door sounded through the tiny room, making him jump a little and Bill hide in the bathroom slightly because the shirt was a ¾ sleeve and inside out, and it was kind of difficult to sort out. He peeked his head around just enough to see Sisky opening the door, but the chest of drawers was blocking the view of said person knocking on the door. “Hi, is uh, Bill there? Or did I get the wrong dorm again?” Gabe’s voice sounded, and he sounded a lot less relaxed than he had in his own dorm. “I’m here, Gabe, wait a sec!” he called, hurrying to tug the sleeves and throwing down his glasses into the sink (bad idea, just for future reference) and probably messing up his hair severely when he shoved his head through the neck-hole and appearing in the doorway as his tugged it over his stomach. Not that he’d notice until Adam mentioned it, but Gabe’s eyes flew straight to the pale midriff on view. “What’s up? You’ve already met Sisky, right?”

“Uh. Kind of. You’ve got nice balancing skills, man, I could never balance a can on my head that well,” he smiled, turning back to William when Adam bumped his fist. “I just came by ‘cause I was gonna go down and do a load of laundry and you said you were busy unpacking so I thought I could come get the shirt now?” he said, worryingly fast and somehow not taking any breaths inbetween. “Uh, yeah! Sure! Here, I’m really sorry about the smoothie drop on the hem. Are you sure you don't want me to wash it? I do have a certain coffee stained shirt that’s also in need of a wash, so I could do it?”

“Nah, don't worry about it. Hey, I could do your white shirt now, if you wanted?”

William blinked, taking off the disturbed beanie and running a hand through his hair. “Uh. Are you sure? You really don't have to do that.” Gabe beamed at him, all white teeth and chubby cheeks. “It’s cool, seriously. Frank’s making me do his washing too, so it won’t be any trouble,” he grinned, adding a “seriously!” when Bill raised his eyebrow. “If you’re sure... I’ll get it, hang on a sec,” he hummed, turning around and bending down to look through his bag and then the mess Sisky had already made on the floor when he couldn't find it in there. “You’ve really gotta clean, Sisky, or I’m moving in with Butcher. It’s here, but you really don't have t0-”

“Bilvy, just give it to him and shower him in thank you’s later, ‘cause I’m going to die of starvation. Thanks a bunch, Gabe. Bill, we gotta go.” William found himself being ushered out of the dorm, only with a second or two to grab his leather jacket before Sisky locked the door behind them all. “Sorry, he’s not him when he’s hungry.”

“I have a Snickers, if you want?” Gabe asked, and Adam’s eyes lit up before he remembered the advert. “Aw, dude, don't play me like that.”

“I’m not even playing you, man. Here,” he grinned, pulling it out of the bag he had slung over his shoulder and chuckling as Adam snatched it away. “Marry me,” he mumbled, grabbing Gabe by the face and kissing him full on the mouth. Gabe blinked a few times before stepping a little further away. “Uh, Sisky?” Bill frowned, but he ignored both of them and tore the wrapper off of the chocolate bar. “I’m... really sorry about that? I promise he’s not usually like this?” he tried, but there weren't very many ways to save him from that particular situation. Gabe cleared his throat and wiped his mouth. Sisky swallowed the remains of the Snickers. “I swear to God, Adam, you’re gonna get really bad indigestion.”

“I’m still hungry. Can we go?”

“Jesus Christ. I’ll see you later then, Gabe?”

Gabe nodded and half-smiled, taking the shirt and carefully putting it into the loaded duffel bag. “Where’re you guys going?”

“Campus café,” Bill started, frowning as Sisky grabbed his hand and started yanking him down the hallway. “I uh, apparently have to go immediately? I’m really sorry about Adam, he turns into a tiny hulk when he’s hungry and he hasn't eaten since this morning. Bye!” was all he managed to say before the elevator doors closed and left Gabe standing in the hallway looking a little bewildered. “Dude, what the hell? Food might be your business, Siskybusiness, but Gabe probably thinks we’re super rude now.” The elevator dinged and an older girl with headphones on got in. “Why d’you care what he thinks, Bilvy? He’s a sophomore; he’ll leave you alone when his class starts up properly. Don't worry.”

“I never said I wanted him to leave me alone, Sisky. I like him, and his roommate.”

“I thought you said his roommate was weird?”

“I did. You’re weird, and I still stick around with you. I’m starting to regret that decision now, however. You’re getting more and more annoying by the second, darling,” Bill mock-sighed, sticking his tongue out when Adam playfully punched his arm. “You love me really.” Bill rolled his eyes as the doors opened again and the other man practically bounded out, leaving him no choice but to try and follow. He could have sworn he heard the girl laughing as he jogged to keep up. “Sisky, fuck you, wait!” he called, only for him to stop, run back and carry on sprinting with Bill’s hand in his. “I swear to God I’m going to kill you if you don't stop fucking pulling me along,” he panted, because they were getting a few weird looks from other people on campus and Bill really wanted to stop running. “If you don’t let go of my hand, I’m gonna punch you in the face, and I’m wearing a ring,” he said firmly, and Adam finally stopped. “I know you’re hungry, but dinner’s in an hour, and-”

NO!” he screeched, dropping to his knees. Someone on the other side of the grass took their headphone out and looked over at them, but William just crossed his arms. “What now?”

“The café is closed!” he whined, placing a hand up on the door, and staring at the shut sign in true despair. “Oh dear God, Adam, please get up off the floor. People are staring!” he hissed, grabbing him by the shoulder and hoisting him up to his feet. “I’m gonna die of starvation, Billy,” he said weakly, leaning his head onto Bill’s shoulder. “Don't be such a drama queen. I’m sure someone we know has food. Or we could just wait for 55 minutes and have a full dinner-”

“I bet the Butcher has food! That bastard’s fridge is always full to the motherfucking brim!” he cackled, and Bill was wondering if rooming with him was such a good idea after all. “Okay, sure. Go run to his room, I’ll be right behind you,” Bill sighed, pushing his hair back from his face as he watched Adam sprint in the opposite direction. Jesus Christ, he was like one of those hyper-active children who had to be kept on a leash. “Do you need any help with anything?” a voice rung out, giggling when he jumped and turned around to face them. It was the blonde cheerleader from before with the high voice and high skirt. She’d stood by the door on the way out of his freshmen assembly and forced every single person to take an array of leaflets nobody cared about. “No, I’m uh, fine, thanks,” he mumbled, but she seemed to completely ignore him as she produced another colourful selection of leaflets from her bag and held them out to him. “Take whichever you need!”

“I’m fine, really,” he said a little louder, pointing over his shoulder as he turned back around. “I’ve actually got to go and meet my friend, so...”

“I can always give you directions! Which floor is your dorm room on? Do you need a map?” he hummed, and she was kind of scaring him now, even though he was about a foot taller. “N-no, really, I-”

“Hey, Bill!” Frank shouted from across the grass, jogging over and clapping him on the shoulder (not an easy feat with that many inches of height difference.) “We’re good here, thanks. I’m his sophomore guide,” he stated, and the blonde girl narrowed her eyes but still nodded and walked away with an ear-to-ear smile. “Thank God, Frank, I thought she was gonna suffocate me with a leaflet!”

“No sweat, dude, those guys are a nightmare on your first week. Why’re you standing outside the café, anyway? You know it’s closed, right?” he frowned, jerking his head towards the weird gangly guy he’d jogged away from and starting to walk. Wait... guy? Bill was a little confused. “Yeah, my roommate was being a hungry-hulk, so he dragged me down here then sprinted off to our other friend’s dorm when he realised it was shut. He’s... a little odd.” Frank snorted, holding out a hand to the other guy he’d been walking with. “Mikeyway, this is Bill Beckett. William, this is Mikey. How do you do and all that.”

“Are you a freshman too?” Bill asked, walking on the other side of Frank as they continued their way (presumably) back to Frank’s dorm. “Nah, I’m still in high school. My older brother’s a junior here, though, and I’ll probably come next year,” the guy mumbled, pushing their glasses up their nose. “How did you guys meet?” they added, gesturing towards Bill and Frank. “Gabe punched someone in the face for me,” Bill sighed, nodding along with Frank when Mikey’s eyes widened. “Tom Conrad?”

“Who else?”

“Is he gonna be in your dorm now, Frank?”

“I have no clue, but Gabe’s doing my laundry and Pete’s got a lecture, so even if he is we haven't got a choice,” Frank sighed, holding the door open for them and some other guy who managed to slip past Mikey on their way in. “If it’s any consolation, he’ll most likely leave when we put music on. FYI, Bill, my parents did not help me pay for the biggest room, so it’s nowhere near as cool as Pete and Gabe’s. There’s a tiny TV, but it’s an obnoxious square and we all have to lie on my bed to watch it. Do- shit, I don't have my key.”

“You dipshit. Knock on the door,” Mikey sighed, and Bill hadn't realised that Frank’s room was literally facing his until they both stopped outside of it. “He’s in, I can hear the radio. Open up, Tom!” he shouted, banging on the door. No response. “Let me in, asshole!”

Silence other than the radio and maybe a quiet smirk. “I swear to shit, don't make me get the RA down here!” he shouted, kicking the door for good measure and apologising when William flinched at the bang. “Alright, calm the fuck down,” Tom snapped from the other side of the door, and Bill heard the sound of the key turning in the lock. “Don't forget your key next time, you useless cunt- fuck, why’d you bring them here?”

Frank glared at him, pushing past and flopping onto his bed. Their room was a little bigger than Bill’s, but only a little, and still nothing compared to Pete and Gabe’s. “Because they're my friends, you shitpost.” Mikey beckoned him in and shut the door behind them before heavily sitting down on the bed next to Frank. Bill didn't know if he was welcome to sit on the bed (0r why he was still there because he’d been planning to either go to Butcher’s dorm or back to his and unpack) so he just kind of stood up awkwardly and tried not to look at Tom. “Wow, you have friends? I didn't think anyone could stand to be near you. Or maybe you’re so short they just can’t see you when you approach them. And why that faggot, of all people?” he scowled, and Bill ducked his head. Mikey frowned, but stayed quiet. Frank looked like he was about to explode, only staying on the bed because Mikey squeezed his hand. “Don’t call me a faggot,” Bill mumbled, “and having long hair doesn't make me girly.”

“Oh, you have a voice? I thought you just got the big boys to shove people around for you.”

“You're going too far, Tom. I swear to God, get the fuck out.”

“What, of my own dorm? Can’t you handle a few jokes? You guys go out, you fucking girly faggots.” Bill snapped his head up, hands balling into fists at his side. “We’re not fucking faggots!” he said a little louder, eyes narrowing when Tom laughed. “What would you know, hey? This is the first time you’ve ever left home before, you mommy’s little shit. Y’know, I bet you only left ‘cause she was too retarded to look after you.”

Bill froze, both mentally and physically, and Frank seemed to be able to tell that something was wrong, because at that moment he got up off of his bed, shoved Tom onto his own bed and stuffed a key into his back pocket. “Let’s go to Gabe’s, I haven't got the energy for Tom’s shit,” he sighed, opening the door and pulling Bill out from where he stood. Mikey followed, chucking their empty cup of coffee at Tom as he attempted to get back up from his bed. “Pete should be in, I think. You knock, Mikes,” Frank sighed, turning to Bill as he stared at the floor and patting a hand onto his arm. “You okay, dude?” he added a little quieter, frowning when he nodded but didn't say anything.

Tom was right, kind of. Bill didn't leave home very much at all – not because he didn't like being away from his mom, but he just preferred knowing someone was with her. She was in a car accident when he was about twelve, but she was perfectly happy to still be alive, so she didn't mind being wheelchair bound (she was paralysed from the waist down.) The only thing was, William’s dad is a pilot, so he was home for about four days every two weeks, and as much as she didn't like to admit it, she needed help. So Bill stayed home and helped. Even if it meant not going out after school when everyone else did, or not going away at the weekend with Sisky and his parents, or even not going on the week-long class trip to NYC when literally everyone else had. He loved his mom, and he was much happier knowing she was okay. He’d also gone to high school with Tom, though, and he knew she was in a wheelchair, and for some reason he found that very funny. “Bill? Come inside, c’mon,” Frank said in a voice that suggested he was repeating it for the second or third time. William just nodded and walked inside, looking at the digital clocks on the bedstand next to one of the beds. Dinner was in 35 minutes. He should find Sisky, because he didn't want to walk down there alone. Hell, he wasn't exactly sure how to get there in the first place. “Hey, Frank, what happened to going into your dorm?” Gabe said from the couch, and Bill could hear the TV blurring in the darkness. “I tried that. Tom’s a fuckface. You want some water, Bill?”

At the mention of Bill, Gabe stuck his head up over the ugly green sofa and raised an eyebrow. William nodded, carefully examining the blue and white pattern on the carpet and the few specks of dried mud already imbedded in it. “Here ya go. You guys sit down, I’m gonna go get in the shower.”

“I’m gonna go meet Gerard – we’re going out to dinner with my mom. See you later, Frank. Nice to meet you, Bill.” William nodded and attempted something of a smile, but it probably didn't look like he was trying very hard. “Billiam, what’s up?” Gabe frowned, sitting up properly and beckoning William over. “I-I should- I should go, um,” he mumbled, putting down the water and muttering a “see you at uh, dinner” before turning and briskly walking out of the door. Sisky, he had to find Sisky.

-

“Wentz is fucking showering again! Jesus Christ, I thought he had a lecture. Wait, where’d everyone go?” Frank grumbled, lying down on the couch and snuggling into Gabe’s side before he could push him away. “Mikey went to meet Gerard. Uh, did anything happen with Bill? He just kinda... left.” Frank grimaced, sitting up to face him. “I thought something like that would happen.” Gabe’s frown deepened, motioning for Frank to carry on. “It wasn't anything major, but- I don't really know, man. Tom was chucking around some really shitty insults. He mentioned something about Bill’s mom, and Bill went all quiet and stiff. Too real, I guess.” Gabe nodded, biting his lip in thought. “I guess I kinda understand. I mean- look at us three, we’re the trio of daddy issues,” he sighed, “but I’ve gotten better at ignoring it.”

“Don't sweat it, man. I’m sure he’s fine, and you’ll see him at dinner somewhere anyway if he’s not. I’m gonna go bust Wentz’s ass, now, but if you’re gone when I get back I’ll assume you went to Bill’s dorm or something.” Gabe nodded, lying on his side to try and turn his attention back to the TV. Frank was probably right.

-

You’re being a little pathetic, Bill. You’re an adult. Pull yourself together, he told himself. And he was, really, ‘cause she’d told him over and over again that she’d be absolutely fine. If she needed anything, Mrs Barrowmane from next door was happy to help, and she said she’d call him every other day, and he was fucking going back home on Sunday. Oh, you’re crying now? Wow, grow the fuck up. You’re literally an eighteen year old, sitting on your friend’s bed, crying in the dark about your mom in the dark. How childish. Great way to start your first day of college, William. It wasn't even being alone that he cared about- just because it was new and a little overwhelming, it didn't mean it was scary or anything. He’d only ever planned to leave his mom alone for this long once, and when he’d done it she’d spent half a day on the floor because she’d tipped over her wheelchair and Mrs Barrowmane had been in bed ill. For fuck’s sake, you shit. Grow up and go and find Adam, then you can go to dinner. Stop breathing so fast, you’ll make it worse. Stop it, Will. Stop.

“Bill, you- hey, hey!” Sisky yelped, quickly shutting the door and speeding over. He landed on his knees next to the bed, hand immediately digging through pillows to find Bill’s and start to squeeze it. “Bill, honey, tell me what’s wrong,” he soothed, rubbing his thumbs over William’s palm. “Come on, deep breaths. Shh, Bill. In, and out,” he whispered, gripping his shoulders. “Where’s your inhaler, have you taken any?”

Bill shook his head, sinking his head into his knees. “B-bag, front pocket,” he gasped, coughing heavily as Adam let go and started rifling through his bag. “Take super deep breaths, Bill, come on. I- shit, I can’t find your fucking inhaler!” he cried, taking the bag and tipping it upside down. “No, it’s okay. Don't panic, I’ll go and find one, okay? Look at me, look at me. William. You’re going to be absolutely fine, I promise. Look, I’ll go and get one, okay? Sit up properly, breathe. I swear I’ll be right back!” he begged, throwing open the door and hurtling around the corner. He left it open, so Bill could easily hear him banging on the door. “Butcher, open up! Now!” he yelled, pounding on the door. William swallowed heavily, squeezed the pillow and counted to five to try and slow his breathing, but all it did was make him cough. “What do you want, Adam, I was about to leave for din-”

“Bill’s having an attack and you’ve got a spare inhaler, right? Right?” he demanded. “Shit- shit. I don’t, he lost his old one so he took the spare, fuck.”

“Shitshitshit. You go try get him to calm down, I’ll go find one. Go!” he called, and there were heavy footsteps running down the hallway, then the Butcher skidded into the room. “Hey, he’s going to be back in a minute. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4... and breathe out, 2, 3, 4. Do you want to cough to clear it, or will that make it worse?”

“Worse, chest,” he wheezed, and he wasn't even panicking much anymore, he just couldn't breathe properly. It wasn't as bad as it had been before, and even then he’d been fine after using his inhaler. Out of the probably just under 100 attacks he’d ever had, his inhaler had only failed him twice. “You’ve gone really pale, Bill, come on. Try to stop crying, that should slow your breathing. Come on.”

“I’ve got one, I've got one!” Adam shouted, thrusting it at Butcher then leaning on the doorframe to catch his breath. “Here, can you hold it?” he asked, passing it to him when he nodded. Puff, breathe in, hold, 2,3,4. Breathe out and repeat several times until you don’t feel like you’re about to die. “You okay, Bill?” Sisky murmured, and both of them exhaled with relief when he nodded. “You can uh, keep that, I’ve got loads and I barely ever get asthma attacks anyway,” the girl at the door said, smiling when they thanked her and walking off. “I’m okay now,” he tried to say, but it came out kind of raspy and weak sounding, which didn't really add to the whole ‘I’m okay’ effect. “I was meant to go meet Chislett for dinner, are you good? I can stay if you want.”

“Nah, I’m cool. You wanna watch a movie, Bilvy?” Sisky hummed, flicking on the fairy lights (which he kept up because they made him manlier) and pulling out his laptop when Bill nodded. “Wait-” he rasped, coughing twice to clear his throat. “You said you were super hungry, you need dinner.”

“Yeah, but I’m guessing you don't wanna be around 300 something people right now, so I’ll just eat the brazil nuts Butcher gave me and steal your mars-bar later.”

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Butcher exclaimed, sticking his head back around the door. “If you use a tupperware container you can go downstairs, listen while they talk about tomorrow for what, five minutes at most, and just fill it up with food for both of you. Here, I’ve got loads of boxes. You cool with that, William?” Bill nodded, reaching down onto the floor for one of the many half-full water bottles Sisky already had littering the floor and getting up to re-fill it in the bathroom. “I’ll be back in 15 minutes tops, alright? See you later, lover, and keep texting me so I know you're okay.”

Seriously, he was like an overprotective boyfriend, and he made it worse by texting William ‘lol im pissing off butcher in the elevator’ almost as soon as he left. Fucking nerd.

-

Okay, so maybe he’d stood up to scan the hall twice now, but he wasn't being paranoid. Frank could go fuck himself. But there had to be some reason that Bill’s roommate was sat down at the table with a large plastic bag, continually glancing at the clock as the guy who reminded everyone of Dumbledore made a welcome speech. He was also very obviously having an important in depth text conversation with someone, because when one of the RAs told him to put his phone away, he said something to her and pointed at the doors and she let him keep texting. “And with that being said, enjoy your first dinner of the year!” Dumbledore finished, and the hall erupted into noise. “Pass that weird purple bowl of mashed potatoes, Gabe,” Pete said to the back of his head, sighing when he got no response and having to ask Suarez instead. Adam was now shovelling food into... plastic boxes (?) and putting them into the bag. Surely he wasn't allowed to do that- and sure enough, the RA stepped in again. He did the whole pointing at the door thing, and she... apologised and carried on talking to her friend? Okay, what the fuck was going on? Where was Bill? When Adam slipped out of the kitchen with a quarter of a brownie tray, Gabe was done trying to guess. “Don't let anyone take my seat,” he mumbled to Ryland, who just nodded and took some fries from his plate. “Sisky, hey!” he called out, not loud enough to silence anyone but just loud enough to be heard. “Sorry if this is a bad time,” he called, giving him no other choice but to stop just outside of the doors to the dining hall, “but do you know where Bill is? Is he okay? Frank told me what happened.”

“He’s fine now, yeah, I’m just keeping an eye on him,” Adam said sceptically, shifting the bag into his other hand. “How does Frank know what happened?”

Gabe frowned. “With Tom, right? Uh. Judging by the look on your face we’re thinking about two completely different things.”

“Uhuh. What happened with Tom, though?” he enquired, looking back at his phone quickly. “Bill and Mikey went with Frank to his dorm, and he rooms with Tom. They fight every day, but I guess they’re both used to dealing with it, and- I mean, I wasn't there, but I think Tom hit too close to home or something. Said something about his mom and he went all stiff. We took him into our dorm after that and gave him some water ‘cause he wasn't talking, but he kinda just left.”

Sisky’s face clouded over with a mixture of knowing and an emotion Gabe couldn't quite read. “Oh. That probably explains it, actually,” he said, more to himself than anyone else. “When I came in he was pretty upset and he had an asthma attack. They’re usually not that bad, but we couldn't find his inhaler anywhere, so he got a little scared. This random girl gave us one in the end, but he’s still a little shaky, so I thought I’d bring him food instead of him having to come down,” he nodded, looking back at his phone. “Sorry, but I should probably get back to him now. I’ll you around, then?” he added, briefly smiling before swivelling on his heels and starting to briskly walk away.  Gabe bit his lip, nodding and then going in the opposite direction to him. It was a little quieter when he went back in due to all of the initial excitement having died down and about 15 people having left. When he arrived back at his seat, not only was Vicky T sat in it, Ryland had eaten all of his fries. “Fuck you, Ryland! What the hell, man? I’m gone for five minutes so you eat my food and give up my seat? That’s literally exactly what I said not to do!”

Ryland shrugged, shuffling heavily into Nate’s side and patting the tiny bench space next to him. “Sorry dude. Frank said you were busy chasing after that guy you had the hots for, so I didn't think you’d come back,” he insisted, groaning when Gabe sat down heavily on his leg and half on the bench. Frank grinned mercifully and hid behind his drink. “What the fuck? I- I don't have the hots for him! I only met him a couple of hours ago, I don't even know the guy! Besides, nobody says ‘the hots’ anymore.”

“That’s why it’s so bad, Gabe,” Pete mock-sighed, reaching over Vicky T and patting his shoulder. “And I wasn't chasing after him, I was just checking he was okay- fuck you, Suarez! You of all people have no right to laugh at me! You slept with your 12th grade bio teacher so you wouldn't fail!” he pouted when Alex started to laugh. His grin dropped instantly as Nate hooted and elbowed him in the ribs. “And was he okay? Or were you being an over reactive freaky-freak?” Frank spoke up, dipping his bread into his bowl of veggie soup and biting off as much as possible. “No, actually, he had an asthma attack,” Gabe smited, reloading his plate with fries and salad (the vegetarian options weren't great tonight, but freshmen usually complained about that, so they were only going to get better.) “Oh- shit, dude, is he okay?”

“Yeah, Sisky said he was cool now- but that’s not the point! I was right, you dicklamp. I wasn't being an over reactive freaky-freak.” Nate frowned at his response, licking the ketchup off of his finger. “What’s a dicklamp?

“That’s Gabe’s method of insults. He takes a swear, e.g. dick, and he takes an inanimate object, e.g. lamp. You’re left with a dicklamp. It’s kinda fun, actually,” Pete hummed, glancing over the table of food. “I’m so glad they don’t serve food the way high school cafeterias do, Jesus Christ. Imagine that shit – we’d all get the shitty food ‘cause we’re too lazy to come down early.” Gabe nodded, lifting up his watered-down squash in agreement. “Cheers to kicking back in my dorm later with some beer.”

“Cheers!” was the collective response. Gabe didn't think there were enough beers for that, even though his older brother had bought him two boxes and told him where to hide them (because apparently, random fridge raids were a thing if they had a reliable source.) He wasn't sure if he was in the mood for getting too drunk, though – he was tired and had a super early management lecture in the morning. The reason to start grade-worthy classes so early on was beyond him, but just because he didn't get it it didn't mean he was allowed to skip it, for some reason.

-

“That was... suspiciously happier than I’d thought it would be,” William frowned, flipping over the Warm Bodies DVD case to squint at the blurb. Was it called a blurb if it was on a DVD case? Or was that only books? “I told you it was a good movie, man; I don't know why you doubted me.”

“You mean Mike told you it was good and you denied it because you hate all apocalyptic movies and you only agreed until he eventually convinced you to watch it?”

Sisky stuck out his tongue, flipping back the blanket and clambering out of the bed. “I’m gonna shower, then I’m gonna get into bed and fucking go to sleep because goddammit, I’m tired and I don't care if it’s only 11 0’clock!” he insisted, snorting when Bill raised his hands in the air. “Alright, alright, I was hardly planning to keep you awake. They might be, though,” he grumbled, jerking his head to the direction of loud constant chatter and music from a few dorms down. “Hey, I know – why don't you and Butcher go and see what the fuck’s up, and I’ll hide in the safety of the shower in case you upset someone scary and much more muscular than us. Good idea?”

Butcher stirred from the other bed – he’d come back up from dinner almost as soon as Sisky had because he still had a headache from getting drunk at one in the afternoon, but he’d just crashed with them instead of digging his keys out from the skittles that had emptied in his pocket. “Who’re we fighting?” he said groggily, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “Um, hopefully nobody, but I will need you as my angry punching back-up if we piss somebody off.” Butcher nodded, rolling off of the bed and laughing softly at the loud crunch of plastic bottles. “Sisky, did you bring all of the rubbish from your house to our dorm?” Bill frowned, carefully standing on the small space by his bed that wasn't covered in Adam’s stuff. “Maybe,” was the only response they got as the bathroom door slammed behind him and the sound of humming, clothes dropping to the floor and then water hitting the shower floor filled the air. “Okay, so you knock and talk and I’ll punch and run if necessary, a’right?”

“Yep. Should I waste time looking for my key or should I just leave it up on the latch? Nobody’s gonna come in anyway, are they?”

“Nah, we’re cool. D’you think I need shoes?” Butcher frowned, gesturing to his mismatched socks but not even giving William a chance to answer before he shrugged, shook his head and opened the door. The two closed the door behind them and started to walk down the hall in silence – it wasn't that there was nothing to be said, but they’d have to speak pretty fucking loud if they wanted to be heard over the music. He could have sworn there was a noise curfew, and that there was a campus police group than enforced it. Where were they now? “How do we know which dorm it is?” Butcher shouted, leaning closer to Bill to hear his response. Huh. They probably should have thought about before setting out along a route of 30+ dorms, but before he could address that issue, it became blindly obvious to anyone with the power of sight. “I’m thinking it’s that one!” he yelled, gesturing towards the crammed room with people spilling out into the hallway. “Are- are you fucking kidding me? That’s Pete and Gabe’s dorm!”

“Who’re they?” Butcher attempted, but William just grabbed his wrist and started barging through the mass of people who stunk of sweat and cheap beer. “There, he’s there!” Bill shouted, but Butcher raised an eyebrow and tapped his ear, so he just rolled his eyes and carried on pulling him until they reached the other end of the room where there were much fewer people but much more drinks. “Jesus Christ!” Butcher shouted, shaking free of Bill’s grip and dashing forward to catch some girl as she fell backwards. The few other girls she was with laughed hysterically and minimally (although Butcher pretty much did all of it) helped him lie her down on a bed. “Gabe!” Bill shouted, jumping over some legs belonging to people lying against the fridge and finally arriving in the corner where Gabe was leaning against the wall and laughing with a girl Bill didn't know. “Yo, Bilvy!” he cheered, and his breath reeked of cheap alcohol. “I hoped you’d come down to the partaaay!” he slurred, slinging an arm around the girl. “This is ma’ girl Vicky T, she’s cool. She’s boring though ‘cause she won’t drink anything!”

The girl smiled at him and unravelled herself from Gabe. “If he forgets I left, tell him I went!”she shouted, shaking her hand in goodbye then returning to make her way through the crowd. How they’d managed to get this many people into such a tiny room, he had no idea. “You wanna dance, Billiam?” he laughed, taking Bill’s hand and leading him into the corner. “No I don't want to dance, I want to sleep!”

“You’re so pretty,” he gushed, threading a hand into the tips of Bill’s hair. “Uh,” was all he managed before Gabe threaded his arms around his waist and moved his face as close as possible without touching Bill’s. “C’mon, it’s a slow song!” he begged, laughing when William tried to pull away. “Your breath stinks, seriously,” he protested, but it wasn't enough to cover the hot flush filling his cheeks. “And wasn't that your girlfriend?”

And then he giggled, which was somehow possible. “Nahhh,” he sighed, spinning them in time to the music and laughing harder as Bill stumbled. “She’s gay! She’s got a girlfriend! Vicky’s rack is better than her girl’s, though. Don't tell anyone I said that!” he laughed, and started swaying them in time to the music. William looked behind him, desperate to attract Butcher’s help, but was only met with the sign of him standing a few meters away laughing at them. “D’you know the words to this? You do music, don't you? So you can sing?”

“I- what? No, Gabe, I really just want to go to bed-”

“With me?” he interrupted, chuckling as the deep scarlet on Bill’s face was visible even in the dim light. Butcher burst out into full heaving laughter behind them. “N-no, Gabriel, get off!” he pleaded, and Gabe actually did, pouting and hugging himself. “Why won’t you dance with me?” he pouted, and Bill sunk his head into his hands. “Do you not like me?” he whined, and Bill groaned as Butcher’s laughing got even louder. “Goddammit- of course I like you, you idiot. I just want to go to bed!”

“But I want to dance! I’m not sleeping ever again if you don't dance with me!”

“If I dance with you, will you let me go back to my dorm?” he sighed, giving in a bit because he really didn't know what else to do. He was gonna punch the Butcher in the face, seriously, because he could hear the laughter getting impossibly hysterical when Gabe nodded eagerly and pulled Bill’s body flush up to his. “For one song and one song only, alright?” he grumbled, trying to stand as still as possible. “Dance properly, Billiam, or it doesn't count,” he insisted, taking Bill’s arms and putting them around his waist before returning his arms to their position around his neck. Bill looked back to glare at the Butcher – joke was on him, anyways, because at the second slow song he seemed to be the only person standing alone that was still conscious. “Who’s this song by? I don't think I’ve heard it,” he frowned as Gabe started to make him sway with the music. “I’s by my friend. Not released. Dallon,” he hummed, and well, what was the harm in swaying with him? It was a little bit cliché, but most love songs were, and this one was pretty-sounding and nicely worded. Turn the lights off, I’m falling in love echoed through the much quieter room, and Bill swore Gabe was definitely humming, if not singing too. Wouldn't you like to, wouldn't you like to, kiss her? The guy had a sweet voice, and Bill thought maybe he recognised the name from meeting some of the music majors who he shared a practice room with. Wouldn't you like to, wouldn't you like to, dance with her? At this point in time, it seemed like the natural thing to do the same when Gabe held him a little tighter. Darkened nights and violent things, he heard, vaudevillian girls and violin strings, and their position would have been much more comfortable if Gabe didn't have his head on his shoulder. All of these are the prettiest things when I’m in love. William, at that point, decided to give up with trying to get out of it. “If you’re making me do this, we’re doing it properly. Here,” he instructed, pushing Gabe away a little bit and repositioning his hands. “Stand up straight...” he trailed off, and Gabe touched their foreheads together. Bill forgot about how bad his breath was. Turn the lights off, I’m falling in love with you.

They stayed like that until the end of the song, and Gabe’s lopsided grin was back when they stood apart. “There. Can I go now?” Bill sighed, but he felt a lot less annoyed than he sounded. Gabe’s grin noticeably deteriorated, but he nodded anyway, and for some stupidly disgusting reason Bill felt the need to stay. “No, c’mon, I’m tired, and don't you have to get up really early in the morning?”

“Yeahhhhhhh...” he huffed, slumping against the wall and yawning. “Party’s over, you loud bastards. Go the fuck to bed,” someone shouted when the music was cut off. “’s the RA, Gabe, we better get e’ryone out,” Pete yawned, stumbling away from a group of complaining people. “Oh, hey Bill. Why’s there a girl on my bed?”

“She um, passed out and Butcher put her there so nobody stood on her.”

Pete nodded, tossing down the beer bottle in his hand and ignoring William’s face as what was left spilt all over the floor. “Did you make Gabe cry?” he slurred, jerking a hand in the direction of Gabe lying face down on the floor before he rolled the girl off of his bed. She woke up, rubbed her eyes and started crawling out of the room – William decided it was best to let her crawl out (he never really understood drunk people.) Gabe was in fact crying, and at this point Pete had started balancing empty cups on his back whilst humming. “Bill won’t sleep with me,” he whined into the stained carpet, and Butcher started laughing again. “Come on,” he sighed, “I’ve known you for a day and you're really drunk. And I want to go back to my dorm.”

“Can I come?” he said eagerly, immediately sitting up and destroying Pete’s cup tower. Butcher was in hysterical laughing tears at this point, and Bill was going to kill him. “No! You can’t come to bed with me, holy shit!” he sighed, facepalming when Gabe slumped back down and started making weird whining noises. “Please sleep with him. He’ll cry all night if you don't,” Pete begged, rubbing his eyes and effectively smudging eyeliner all over his face. “No!”

“I’ll have a separate blanket!” he pleaded, rolling over and clinging to Bill’s leg (Butcher was on the floor full on crying with laughter now. Bill was no longer his friend.) “Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaase?” he entreated, pressing his chin into Bill’s thigh and looking up at him with big (albeit bloodshot) eyes. Bill was going to give him hell when he was sober. “Fine. But you’re having a separate sheet, you can’t set any alarms and I swear to God you can sleep in the hallway if you start snoring,” he seethed, shaking Gabe off and starting to stomp out. “Night night, Bill!” Pete called, just audible over the slamming door. “If Sisky’s mad at me or you, you’ve gotta deal with it, okay?”

“Mmhmm,” Gabe yawned, slumping into Bill slightly. “You’d be a lovely boyfriend, Billiam. We should get married.”

“I’m going to kill you in your sleep, Gabriel,” he threatened, bidding Butcher a goodnight as he opened the door to his dorm and shoved Gabe in. “What took you so long? Wh- why’s he here?”

“We’re sleeping together now!” he said gleefully, falling onto William’s bed as the other boy exhaled deeply. “Go and brush your teeth, you reek of cheap beer,” he ordered, yanking up his bag and starting to root around for his pajama bottoms. “He’s shitfaced and he clung to my leg until I agreed to share a bed with him. He’s having a separate sheet- and if you laugh anywhere near as hard as Butcher did, Gabe can have your bed ‘cause I’ll have pushed you out of a window.”

Adam giggled, but didn't say anything other than “Sleep well, honey,” before he rolled over to carry on reading. They’d been fighting a lot less since he’d gotten that setting on his Kindle that meant it gave off next to no light. “I’m back, cara de ángel,” Gabe hummed, waltzing into the room and looking William up and down. “Do you sleep in jeans?”

“No, you fuck. I sleep in these,” he said, holding up the green plaid pajama pants, “and I guess a t-shirt for tonight. What are you sleeping in?”

“Boxers.”

Bill frowned, and he could have sworn he heard Sisky snort from the corner. “No, you need to keep your clothes on- Gabe, stop undressing! Oh, dammit, I don't even care,” he sighed, hanging his leather jacket on the hook on the back of the door and unbuckling his belt. Gabe’s eye’s followed his fingers. “You’re a creep, and now I’m changing in the bathroom.” Gabe pouted, but turned to face the wall and pulled the comforter up to his bare shoulders. Priding himself on being an extremely quick dresser, Bill managed to switch within half a minute whilst Gabe’s eyes stayed firmly on the wall. But what shirt should he wear? “Take a muscle shirt from my suitcase,” he heard Sisky mutter from the corner. “Why do you have a muscle shirt?” he muttered back, but he tugged it out anyway, not questioning the messy flower picture on the back. “It was a present from my Nan, you asshole. Goodnight.”

“Love you too,” Bill whispered, because the heavy rise and fall of Gabe’s chest suggested that he’d already fallen asleep. Even though it was only 11:30, he was having trouble keeping his eyes open, and all he really wanted was to be in bed, even if Gabe was in it, and even if they had to share the bed completely. He didn't know why he’d suggested using a different blanket – where the fuck had he expected to get one from now? As long as he kept his back turned to Gabe, it was practically the same thing, right? He pulled back the sheets slightly – enough to get in but not enough to disturb Gabe and climbed in, and he really hadn't thought about how little space there was in a single bed. Gabe’s back was warm.

-

Okay, so the throbbing in his head intensified by about 400% whenever he moved and his throat was drier than the plant Pete had tried and failed to keep alive last year. There was also a large pillow to his right giving off a lot of heat that was a lot less squishy that the pillow he was currently face down on. His bed had one pillow, not two – why were there two? His room was also very vacant of snores, and that was a telltale sign that you were rooming with Pete Wentz. Maybe he was in Pete’s bed, and Pete was with Patrick (he was pretty sure Pete had two pillows in his bed)? Jesus Christ, he couldn't even remember where Pete had gone last night. Ignoring every pulsating muscle and thought in his head telling him not to, he groggily lifted his head and glared back at the dim red light of an alarm clock. 8:45 – he had to be at his business lecture in an hour.

Wait- he didn't own an alarm clock, and neither did Pete, as far as he knew. The warm pillow moved, and his hand became engulfed in soft, dark hair. What the fuck? He looked past said warm pillow and their hair to meet eyes with... Bill’s roommate? “Sisky, right? D’you know what’s going on?” he whispered, so he wouldn't wake up the warm pillow. His eyes widened, hazel standing out in the darkness around them. “Dude... do you not remember like, anything?” he whispered back, bringing his knees up to his chest. Gabe shook his head, trying to ignore the feeling of dread in his stomach that was ranging from you licked a random girl’s face to you stabbed someone so Sisky’s hiding you in here until the police leave. Wait, no- he was gonna throw up. “’m gonna puke,” he mumbled, standing up in bed, jumping over the warm pillow and stumbling into the bathroom. Throwing up fucking sucked, and the pounding in his head reacting with the painfully harsh light of the bathroom really wasn't improving the situation. Between retching, he heard a loud yawn, and then a different voice whisper “What’s going on?”

“Gabe’s puking. I’m not surprised, to be honest,” Sisky whispered back, and he really wanted to know what he’d done, but every time he tried to ask he just produced more stomach acid. “He woke me up,” the recognisable voice complained. “Just be thankful he didn't do it in your bed, honey.”

“I’m really-” was all he managed to get out before he retched again. It was just stomach acid and saliva now. “Are you okay, Gabe?” the voice said, sounding concerned, and out of the corner of his eye he saw- he saw William appear at the doorway. “Oh shit-” he tried, because he remembered now, and he hated alcohol, he really did. “I’m so sorry, fuck-” he coughed, reaching out and grasping the seat because he was genuinely worried about falling over. He was just retching now, there was nothing left in his stomach, but that didn't mean he could stop. “It’s okay, dude, you were so, so drunk. Do you wanna sit down? Here I’ll get you a glass of water,” he decided, popping into the room for a second, laughing at a comment Adam made and coming back in to fill up a plastic cup. It had a pretty pattern on it, but Gabe’s head was spinning and he was feeling a little too much like death to appreciate it right at that moment. “Here, take this and swallow these.”

“What is it?”

“It’s ibuprofen- you’re not allergic, right?” he frowned, handing the pills to Gabe when he shook his head. After he swallowed them, he put the glass down next to where he’d slumped down against the wall and placed his head between his knees to try and block out the light. “I’m really sorry for any and all things I did when I was drunk,” he mumbled onto his bare knee, and wow, maybe he should make that his answering machine voice, because he definitely said it too much. He’d also just become hyperaware of the fact he was only wearing boxers. Bill sighed, padding over to him in his mismatched socks. “It’s okay. C’mon, is the light hurting your eyes? You can go back to bed, if you want. I’m gonna get into the shower and go down to breakfast.” Gabe nodded, taking Bill’s hand to pull himself back on and repetitively murmuring thank you’s because he didn't have enough energy to properly thank him. “It’s cool. Should I meet you down there, Sisky, or you wanna wait?”

“If we’re talking food, then I’m already there. Later, lover,” he hummed, and when had he gotten dressed? And why was he calling William ‘lover’?

Ugh. Too many questions for someone hungover and awake before 10am. “I’m getting in the shower, alright? If you think you’re going to throw up again, just use the bin and I’ll clean it up.”

“You do know I’m not ill and I’m just severely hung over, right? ‘Cause you’re treating me like a terminal flu victim.”

“No, I know. I just know how it feels to be ignored when you have a hangover – Sisky doesn't get them so he thinks I’m overreacting when I do. I mean- I don't drink very much, but I get drunk pretty easily and hungover even easilier.”

“I don't think that’s a word,” he mumbled, getting back into the bed, and pulling the comforter over his head. “Fuck off,” Bill laughed, and Gabe heard the bathroom door shut. If you could hear what was going on inside his head at that very moment, all you would hear would be painfully loud drumming and Gabe constantly screaming. His phone was ringing from the pocket of his pants somewhere, and as much as he wanted to ignore it, the ringtone told him it was Pete, and Pete calls you until you answer. So, hating Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III quite a lot at that moment, he crawled out of the bed and started rummaging around through plastic bottles until he found the phone. Why were there so many plastic bottles on the floor? “Hello?” he croaked, closing his eyes as so not to let the brightness of his screen kill him any more than it already had. “Yo, dude,” Pete groaned in reply, and Gabe could hear how his voice was muffled against his pillow. “Where the fuck are you? My head is pounding like a motherfucker; did we really drink all the beer?”

“Uhuh. Oh, dude. Take some ibuprofen, it’s under the sink. I’m in Bill’s dorm.”

“Did you guys fuck? I think I remember you crying ‘cause he wouldn't fuck you.”

“Oh- oh my God. I totally did do that. Kill me now, Wentz, before I kill myself. No, I didn't fuck him; I just fell asleep in his bed with him. He’s in the shower at the moment,” Gabe sighed. “I hate alcohol.”

“Me too, buddy. I’m guessing you're not going to that lecture then? You’re dad’s gonna kill you dead.”

“Oh, I’m going. I’ll just sleep through it. Dude, this whispered conversation is still hurting my head, so I’ll call you back when I don't feel like a physical form of death, alright?” he coughed, hanging up as Pete made some sort of affirmative noise and dropping his phone somewhere next to him on the bed. Christ on a bike, he was going to die on this bed. Bill was singing to himself in the shower, and it made Gabe wish he wasn't feeling this shitty, because ‘What Is Love’ was a good shower song and he had a beautiful, beautiful voice that he was unable to appreciate because of the tiny men with hammers in his head. Honestly, he was never drinking again. This was worse than when he used to get those tension headaches in 11th grade and it felt like his head was slowly being crushed every time he dared to shift slightly. Due to the heavy, calming silence in the room, he could hear practically everything going on in the shower. What if Bill started jerking off? That would be nice.

The sound of a bottle uncapping (presumably conditioner because he’d uncapped a similar sounding bottle earlier and there was no way the dude didn't condition) popped into the air as Gabe dared to turn back onto his side to face the door. Bill had started humming again, and Gabe could have sworn he recognised the tune – nothing that really came to mind straight away, but. It sounded like a good memory that he couldn't quite place his hands on. The words “and we reach for what we’re missing in ourselves,” floated through the white-wood door, and oh. Tyler and Heath usually wrote the music, he’d just written the lyrics, and those were his lyrics. Bill hummed the next few lines, but now he’d recognised the tune he knew exactly where he was in the song. This was one of the songs they’d spent a great deal of time looking back on after they’d broken up. The lyrics were a little tacky, in his opinion, even though Heath said it was great and it was one of their most requested ones. “I swear to God I tried,” he hummed, and wow, he should have been the lead singer instead of Gabe. He was going to make Bill sing at his wedding, he decided, unless they were marrying each other. Oh, he should totally marry William Beckett.

After saying something like that, he knew he was spending too much time with Pete. That was something he said almost daily to Patrick.

“Don't you have a lecture to be in?” he heard Bill call through the door, and Gabe groaned into the pillow. He was going to get so much shit for sleeping in it – his dad and his professor were friends, that was why he was in the goddamn class in the first place, so there was no doubt his dad would get a concerned email about his ‘arrogance’.  “You were singing my song,” he croaked in response. He heard the door open, but he still stayed under the comforter. “What? Since when did you write ‘What Is Love’?” he giggled, and it was probably only polite to look at someone. “Not that one,” he yawned, propping himself up on his elbow to look at Bill, who, at that moment at time, was dressed rather immodestly in a small white towel. His hair was also in a bun, and his bare chest was still wet with water droplets and Gabe was not staring at all. “Nothing Is Ever What It Seems. I wrote that.” William blinked, crouching down to pull some boxers and jeans out of his suitcase. “Sorry I’m only in a towel- but what? It’s by... Midtown, right?”

Gabe nodded, rubbing his eyes. “Yeah, and don't worry ‘bout the towel.” That sounded weird. Did that sound weird? “Midtown was my band, dude.”

“Seriously?” he asked, jaw dropping when Gabe nodded. “Holy shit, man! That’s- holy crap, that's amazing!” he beamed, and Gabe kind of realised how much he’d missed people loving music like he did. “I- wait, I’ll have this conversation with clothes on,” he blurted out, tightening his grip on the towel and taking the clothes into the bathroom. Gabe sighed, letting his elbow pop back and collapsing onto the pillow. William was so pretty it hurt. It really wasn't fair at all.

“Sorry, carry on?” he hummed, coming back into the room and casually clutching his towel over his bare chest. “What happened to the band? You guys were signed, right?”

Gabe tore his eyes from Bill to glare at the duvet. “I was only 16, and to tour like management wanted me to I’d have to pull out of high school. I was totally up for that – it wasn't hard to opt for doing my exams super early to graduate, and it was what I wanted to do, y’know?” Bill nodded, pulling on the t-shirt Sisky had been wearing yesterday. “So why didn't you? If you don't mind me asking, that is.” He pulled out some socks – matching, this time. Gabe knew his own weren't matching. “Nah, it’s cool. It’s just- my dad always wanted me to join his business. He’s one of those people who don't see the music industry as a proper job, y’know? He- he actually didn't even want me to come to college, but I managed to persuade him. The deal was that if I took the major he wanted me to take, I could take a minor of my choice. Music,” he said simply, staring up at the dimly lit ceiling. “You broke up ‘cause of your dad?” Bill frowned, kicking about the plastic bottles to find a pair of shoes. Gabe nodded. “Oh. I’m sorry, man.”

“Nah, it’s cool. I don't think it would have worked anyway. Heath and Rob were always getting at each other and Tyler couldn't stop picking fights with the label. It was fun whilst it lasted, though.”

“Do you miss it?” he said unexpectedly. “Making music, I mean. Playing shows.” Gabe swallowed, examining the swirls of paint on the ceiling. “Yeah,” he said quietly, closing his eyes for a minute to make the ache in his head go away. It didn't work. “There’s nothing I’ve ever experienced that's like standing in a crowded basement and having kids scream back the words you’ve written for them. I’d give a lot for that to have worked out. We kept going round Chicago ‘til I had to go to college, but it wasn't really the same, knowing we’d never get anywhere.” Bill nodded, hopefully pretending not to notice Gabe avoiding eye contact. “Sorry, that was probably more info than you wanted. I’ll let you go down to breakfast now.”

“No, it’s fine, really. I’ll see you in a bit, alright? I don't mind if you stay,” Bill said earnestly, leaving the full cup of water on the bedstand. “Try and like, rest or something,” he smiled, nodding as Gabe waved goodbye and buried himself back into the comforter. “Bye,” he whispered as the door closed.  Unfortunately, he only got about 3 minutes of silence before having to hurl again.

-

At the time, William hadn't seen any problems with skipping dinner. He’d gotten to eat in bed with Sisky, and their fridge was almost full to the brim with leftovers, so Sisky won’t be constantly complaining about lack of snacks. But now he was being faced with a rather determinate issue – he didn't know where the hall was. The campus area was rather large (it was a massive college, Bill didn't know what he’d expected) and the signs pinned up were everything but helpful. There were obviously quite a few people walking around, but Bill was kind of anxious enough about approaching them (they were walking very fast and they were all older than him) so he was actually considering going hungry. It was such a shame – he’d heard they did really good crepes. Was there anyone he could ask? He stopped by the the doorway to one of the buildings to shelter himself from the rain and start scanning the flurry of people speeding through the rain. There was a group of laughing senior girls, no. There were a trio of sophomores with biker jackets and knuckle tattoos heavily running through the rain, no. There was a terrifying looking professor who glared at Bill when he walked into the building, no. There was Mikey hurrying along in the rain in a dark purple skirt with someone who looked like an older brother- yes.

“Mikey!” he called out, holding his hands over his head. His hair had pretty much dried by now and it went curlier in the rain. He didn't want his hair to curl. “Oh, hey Bill,” they grinned, wiping the rain off of their glasses. Glasses, he thought to himself. Where the fuck did I leave them? “This is Gerard, my brother. He’s a junior.”

“Nice to meet you,” Bill smiled, his hands still occupied over his head. Gerard grinned back. “It’s great to meet you too!”

He was very energetic for 9 in the morning. “Have you seen Gabe anywhere?” Mikey frowned, taking a blue plastic folder from their bag and holding it over their head. “Um. He’s currently asleep in my bed,” Bill frowned, cheeks reddening when the siblings raised their eyebrows. “N-no, not like that! He was really drunk and he wouldn't go away so I let him crash with me last night. He’s trying to sleep off his hangover at the moment.”

“Ah. Right. When you go back, can you tell him to call me?” Mikey hummed, pulling out Gerard’s phone from his pocket to check the time. “I’ve really gotta go now, Gee. I’ll see you at lunch, right?”

“Wait! Uh, how do you get to breakfast? I uh, may or may not be a little lost.” Gerard laughed, pushing Mikey back in the direction they were walking. “I’ll show you how to get there. Mikes, go the fuck to school. You’re already late!” he called as Mikey’s eyes widened and they started running in the other direction. “So! You and Gabe, hey?”

Why were his cheeks flushing? “What?”

“C’mon, you went all blush-y fluster-y when you brought him up,” he teased. This guy was very... forward. “No I didn't!”

“Ah, young love. Mikey said Gabe was going on about you with stars in his eyes.”

“Fuck off! Mikey can also go fuck himself-”

“Them,” Gerard cut in, his face suddenly appearing very serious. “Not him. Them. He’s nonbinary.”

William nodded slowly. “Oh. Okay then. They can go and fuck themselves, then,” he huffed, and Gerard laughed, loud and melodic. “You’re so in love with him!”

“I met him yesterday! You've never even seen me with him!”

“Okay, I’ll come back to your dorm with you and I’ll watch the chemistry. C’mon, it’s through here.”

He blinked, trying to register what had just happened. “You’ll what, sorry?” he stammered, shaking the droplets out of his hair as they walked inside. “I’ll come back up to your dorm with you and watch the instant chemistry between you both.”

“You’re insane,” Bill said calmly as Gerard turned them both into a massive hall that smelt like melted butter and toast. “And that took you what, four minutes to work out?” he grinned, stopping to scan the room before taking him over to the table with Frank on. Sisky jumped up at the sight of them with a tube of vegemite in his hand. “What took you so long, honey? I stole Chizzy’s vegemite and I think he’s going to kill me,” he beamed, tugging Bill over by the arm and making Mike shuffle up on the bench so there was room. “I showered and found out that Gabe was the lead singer of Midtown, and then I got lost.” Sisky laughed, putting a plate in front of the taller boy. “Here, I made you jam toast.” Gerard frowned, leaning forward to wrap his arms around Frank, who jumped at first but relaxed straight after. “Hey, Frankie,” he said softly, putting his chin on Frank’s unruly black hair. “Jesus, Gee, you scared the shit out of me!” he sighed, but he still leaned into Gerard’s touch. “You wanna sit down, babe?”

“Nah, I’m just popping by. I had to show Bill how to get here,” he mumbled, pointing over to where Bill was trying to stop Sisky from putting vegemite on Mike’s food whilst he was gone. “Are they dating?”

Frank shrugged, holding up a strawberry to pop in Gerard’s mouth. “I think so. If you’re really that concerned you can always ask. Hey, Carden!” Frank called out to Mike as he came back in from his smoke. “Are Bill and Sisky dating?” he asked, pointed stabbing a bit of melon onto his fork and putting it into his mouth. Mike shook his head. “They’ve been friends since they were 15. They’re just pretty close,” he mumbled, nodding at them again before going back to his place next to Bill. “Did you put vegemite on my cereal,” he said flatly, looking up at Sisky’s guilty grin. “Fuck you. I live with Chislett now- he’s literally the human form of a jar of vegemite. I came down here to get away from the vegemite farm that our dorm’s become.”

“Jesus Christ, Mike,” was all Sisky said, shaking his head and pouring himself another glass of orange juice. “Where do you get coffee from?” Bill asked, taking the orange juice from his hands and having a sip. “There’s a cappuccino machine over there, you thieving asshole,” he grumbled, snatching it back and drinking it all in one. “I’ll be right back. Do you want one?”

“I’ll marry you if you get me a mocha with a double shot of espresso?” he tried, grinning when Bill rolled his eyes but nodded anyway. “I’ll be back in a sec.” Gerard looked up from Frank’s hair to watch him walk over to the machine and stare at the screen for a good thirty seconds before he actually picked up a cup. Was it weird that he could imagine Gabe there with him, standing and laughing at him before helping him? He had a thing with couples. He’d definitely helped get Frank to ask him out, he’d helped Pete and Patrick get together and he’d definitely had major assistance with Ryan and that hyper kid in Mikey’s class. “I think I should go help him. He looks like he’s making tea.” Frank smiled as Gerard kissed him on the forehead and walked over to where Bill was standing. “Dude, you know you’re making a hot chocolate flavoured tea, right?”

Bill sunk his head into his hands. “Help me! It shouldn't be this hard to make three simple coffees!” he whined, gesturing to the three cups lined up next to the machine. Gerard laughed, taking one of them and setting up Adam’s drink. “Wait, why three?”

“One for Gabe,” he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Decaf coffees always make me feel better after hangovers so I thought- why are you smiling like that?” he frowned, crossing his arms defensively. “Shut up and tell me how to make the goddamn coffee.” He laughed again, waiting for the machine to finish Sisky’s coffee before putting another cup in its place. “Here. First you choose whether it’s decaf or not, then how much milk, sugar, flavourings, ect,” he explained, motioning to the screen and choosing a decaf mocha for Gabe. “D’you know how Gabe takes his coffees?”

“No, but the dude’ll drink pretty much anything if it’s sweet. Lotsa sugar, and then send it up with a few more packets of it anyway.” William frowned but nodded slowly, switching places with Gerard to make his own coffee. He was feeling pretty tired from getting about 5 hours of sleep (Gabe was clingy and Bill didn't like new beds,) so he figured copying Sisky’s coffee idea was probably easiest. Chocolate was nice, and so was not being tired, even if he was technically running on artificial energy. “Are you gonna sit and stay down for a while?” Gerard hummed, sipping at his own coffee (when had he made that? and why was it so black?) and leaning back against the cereal stand (which was probably a bad idea.) “Nah. I don't have a class for a while, but I don't really like sitting down unless I’m eating, so I’ll give this to Siskybiz and go back to my dorm.” Gerard nodded, standing up straight and drinking more of his coffee. Seriously, he had not come over here with that. “I’ll come up and see Gabe, I think,” he pondered, and Bill was more than curious as to why he wasn't being asked about this. Oh well. Gerard seemed pretty cool; even if he was convinced Bill was going to propose to Gabe at any given moment. Bill handed Sisky his coffee, threading his fingers through his hair and grinning as Sisky kissed the cup. “Oh, my love, what would I do without you?” he said gleefully, pouting when William pushed it away from his mouth. “It’s boiling hot, you idiot. I’m gonna go back upstairs now, so I’ll see you later?”

“Tu es belle mon petit chou,” was his response, and he grinned even more when Bill said “Mille fois je t’aime.” Gerard was snickering slightly, but everyone just looked a little confused (apart from Mike. He was all-knowing and a little bit stoned.) As they walked away, he laughed again. “Did Adam intentionally call you a cabbage?”

“Ha... Yeah, he did. It’s a thing we’ve been doing since we were fourteen. That and-” he paused to clear his throat, stopping in his place and yelling “SANTI!” as loud as he possibly could. Ignoring Gerard’s weird stare, he laughed properly when there was a faint but sure response of “SANTI!” from the hall.

These guys are fuckin’ weird, Gerard thought to himself. Brilliant.

-

Sure, dreaming when you’re high or drunk is weird, but dreaming when you're hungover is a whole new level of woozy. He didn't even remember exactly what happened, but all he knew was that it didn't make him feel any more relaxed and something in the back of his mind was telling him he was lucky to have limbs. This bed was comfortable, though – the comforter had obviously been brought from William’s bed at home, because it was softer and prettier than the standard college ones. It smelt like Bill, too. It smelt like warm, if that was a thing, like the faint smell of axe deodorant and the coconut shampoo he used, and warm. Gabe would sleep here over his bed any night, and that was a guarantee. Bill being in the bed at the same time was just a bonus.

“Gabe, you awake?” Bill whispered, and the smell of cigarette smoke and coconut wafted into the room. Neither Sisky nor Bill smoked, so who was he with? Carden? “Wakey wakey, Gabey baby,” Gerard hummed, closing the door behind him. Oh. Right. It was still too early. “Mmhmm,” he yawned into the pillow, stretching out until he reached the cold white surface of the wall with the tips of his fingers. “I got you a coffee,” Bill said quietly, placing down the brown paper cup next to the now empty cup of water. “Decaf mocha with extra sugar, but if it’s not sweet enough then there’s more sugar here.” Gabe sat up in the bed, furiously rubbing his eyes and trying to focus on the two men sitting on the other bed. He knew his hair was a particular curly mess at that moment in time, but he couldn't bring himself to care very much. Bill had brought him... coffee? Why? “I- thank you so much, dude,” he mumbled, coughing a few times before reaching out for the coffee. He was fucking freezing. Bill frowned at how he had the sheets wrapped around him and reached forward to press a warm hand to his head. “You’re burning up, man. Are you sure it’s just a hangover?”

Gabe shrugged, sipping at the coffee and feeling everything bad unravel a little. The balance of bitter coffee and sugar was perfect. “Pete was sick last week, but I don't think it’s anything more than a hangover.” He ached all over, and he hated alcohol more than Tom Conrad right then. “I don't know... you sound kinda stuffed up. I have some tylenol, I think you should take that,” he frowned, standing up and feeling Gabe’s head once more for good measure. “Yeah, I don't think you’re very well, Gabe.”

“It’s just a hangover, I have to go to my lecture” he sniffed, sipping at the coffee and letting the sweetness soothe his throat. “Bullshit,” Gerard sighed from his place on Sisky’s bed. What did he know? Hell, why was he even here? Gabe just wanted to be cuddled back to sleep and wake up not feeling like he did. “Why are you even here, Gee?” he frowned, pulling the comforter as close to him as possible. “No reason,” he said smugly, and Bill started digging through snaplock bags full of medication.

“Jesus Christ, Bill. Do you really need all of that?” Gabe coughed, shaking his head in attempt to stop the pounding. It didn't work. “Uhuh. I need all of the asthma medication for obvious reasons, the Xanax is for vehicular journeys, the Zolpidem was prescribed for insomnia and everything else is either Sisky’s or in case I get ill.” Gabe nodded, unsure of what else to say. In his dorm, Gabe just had painkillers. Pete had anxiety medication that he took too much of sometimes, bipolar medication that he refused to touch and depression medication that Gabe had to coax, bribe and occasionally blackmail him into taking. That reminded him, actually. If Pete was in bed, he definitely wouldn't have taken his meds. “Can you pass me my phone please?” he muttered, holding out a hand in Gerard’s direction until it was placed in it. “Thanks,” he whispered, and Gerard might have nodded in response. He had a message from Suarez saying ‘where tf are you bro?’ and one from his dad saying ‘Gabriel, please call me when you next get the chance.’ Ew. He knew he’d have to deal with that later, but it sure as hell wasn't going to be now. He swiped right to call P Dubbs.

“Yo, dude, I thought you were too hungover to talk?” the voice came, and it sounded even duller than before. “You gave me your shitty flu, you dick. I’m just calling to check in.”

“Check in on what?” he said defiantly, and Gabe sighed loud enough for him to hear down the phone. “You know what. You haven't taken them, have you?”

“You’re starting to sound more and more like my mom, Gabe. It’s not cool.”

“Please, Pete. I haven't got the energy to yell at you or even try and bargain with you. Go and take your meds,” he begged, slumping backwards into the pillow. “I don’t want to,” he whispered back, and he sounded so small and scared that Gabe had to get up and comfort him, he did, and he could just ignore the throbbing in his head whenever he dared to move. “I’m coming, man. It’s okay,” he tried to say, but Bill sat down firmly on the bed. “I bet my ass you can’t even stand up without falling over, Gabe,” he said firmly, and Gabe nodded, because it was probably true. “I can’t just leave him by himself,” he hissed, covering the phone microphone with his hand. “Call Patrick,” Gerard said from the floor (when had he moved?) and then Gabe remembered the reason everyone kept him around. He may be a caffeine addicted gay art hoe, but sometimes, on very rare occasions, he had brilliant ideas. “No, you sound pretty ill. I’ll be fine,” Pete mumbled, but Gabe wasn't stupid. “You’ll be fine, my ass,” he dismissed, shifting around. “I’m calling Patrick, but I’ll talk to you later, okay dude?” he sighed, and Pete made something of an okay noise, so he hung up. “Take these, and then drink this,” Bill instructed, holding out two red capsules and the fated purple cup. He nodded in thanks, swallowed them and drank the cup all in one. Then he called Patrick.

“Hey, Gabe, what’s up?”

“You need to get to Pete ASAP. He’s being super mopey and he won’t take his meds.”

“Oh shit- alright, I’ll be there in about five minutes. Is the door open?”

“I think so. Bye, dude.”

Then he hung up and spent about 10 seconds trying not to cry. “Are you okay, Gabe?” Bill asked hesitantly. Gabe shook his head, burying his face into the pillow. “No!” he said miserably, feeling Bill’s hands faintly land on his back through the comforter. “My head is screaming and my whole body aches and Pete won’t take his medication and you’re being so nice to me and I just want to sleep!” he whined, and he probably was going to cry. He just felt so ill. “I think you’ve got the flu, dude. I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“I want to go to sleep, but I have to go to my lecture" he said helplessly. “I’m cold and tired and tired.”

“I know, and you're not going” Bill said, humming with sympathy as he comfortingly rubbed Gabe’s back. “If you want, I can get you another blanket?” he murmured, hand still not leaving Gabe’s back until he nodded. Why was he being so nice? Gabe didn't know what he’d have done if someone he’d known for a day had crashed in his bed drunk and woke up with the flu, but he didn't see it being this. It was almost worse, in a way, because he knew he’d have to go back to his dorm sooner or later and he really, really didn't want to. “Here, put this on,” he instructed, passing him his t-shirt from the floor and then laying the woollen blanket over the top. The difference was noticeable, but still not enough for him to feel okay. “I’ll go see if Butcher’s got any more blankets, okay?” Bill murmured, leaving the door on the latch when he left. Gerard chuckled softly. “What are you laughing at now, asshat?” Gabe frowned, not bothering to remove his face from the pillow and hoping he was able to understand what he was saying. “Oh, nothing,” he said smugly, shifting around on Adam’s bed. “You two are just acting like an overly in love domestic couple.” At this point in time, Gabe did sit up, staring daggers over at Gerard in the dimness of the fairy lights. “Bill’s just being nice, Gerard,” he said wearily, reaching out for the coffee and drinking a good quarter of the remnants. “Please,” he snorted, “I know people in committed relationships who aren't this nice to each other.”

“Yeah, well,” he said, kind of unsure as to why he’d said that, considering that he had nothing to follow it up with. “You spent over a year in love with Frank before you actually did anything?”

“What the actual fuck does that have to do with anything at this very moment? Is that how long you’re going to spend pining over William?”

“I’ve known the dude for a day. Just because he’s disgustingly adorable and hideously attractive it doesn't mean I want to marry him.” Yes it totally does, his mind combated. Shut the fuck up, he told himself. “Love at first sight is a wonderful thing, Gabriel,” he mock-sighed. “It’s 9:30 in the morning. You have too much energy for a Wednesday morning.  And anyway, he’s got a fucking boyfriend,” he whispered, because if he could hear Butcher and William talking in the next room, then there was a chance that they could hear him and Gerard. “Really? I don't think so. Who?” Gerard whispered back, but he sounded more than a little doubtful. “Uh, hello? Have you even seen him and Sisky together? They’re like, soulmates. It fucking sucks.”

Gerard laughed again, annoyingly happy and not sick, which was the complete opposite of Gabe. “They aren't together, dumbass- and I know it’s true, ‘cause I thought they were at first too. Mike Carden thought I was fucking crazy when I asked. They’ve just been best friends since they were 15.”

“Oh,” Gabe said, sounding grossly hopeful as he grasped around the bedstand until he found the cup. Still. William was just being nice. “Don't you have somewhere to be?” he huffed, glaring again when Gerard laughed. “Nope!” he grinned, reclining on the bed just as Bill came back in. “He didn't have any blankets, but he said you could borrow this,” Bill hummed, passing him what looked like a fluffy rectangle. Oh, fuck yes. It was a hot water bottle, and Gabe instantly put it against his tummy and curled up around it. Warmth was a good thing. “Patrick texted you saying everything was well and good,” Gerard spoke up. Why did he have his phone?

Bill leaned forward and swiped it out of his hands, placing it on the blanket next to Gabe and then sitting down on the edge of his bed. “Didn't Frank say something about meeting you?” he said innocently, leaning back against the wall so his hip was touching Gabe’s heel through the sheets. “Shit,” Gerard breathed, instantly sitting up. “Did he? I’d better go,” he frowned, hoisting his bag up over his shoulder and hopping past a pile of clothes to the door. “See you ‘round, Bill. Hope you’re feeling better soon, Gabe,” he said, wiggling through the open door and closing it behind him. “What did Frank say?” Gabe mumbled into the crook of his elbow.

“I have no idea. I just said that so he’d go away and you can rest,” Bill laughed, and Gabe’s heart exploded. “You’re honestly the best person I’ve ever met, Guillermo,” he sighed, curling up even tighter to press the hot water bottle into his tummy. “Do you want me to go too, or do you mind if I stay and read?”

“Bill, if anyone’s leaving, it’s me. I’m not kicking you out of your own fucking dorm,” he frowned, closing his eyes and yawning. “What? Why are you leaving?”

“I can’t just stay in your dorm until I get better.”

“Why not?” Bill said indignantly. How was Bill Beckett even real? “Because it’s yours and Sisky’s dorm, and I have a perfectly good one at the other end of the corridor. Where’re you supposed to sleep if I stayed? And what if I give either of you the flu?”

“We’ve both had countless flu jabs, we’ll be fine,” he dismissed, reaching over him to grab a book with the words The Virgin Suicides written on the spine. “Okay, so wh-” he stopped to do what felt like hacking out his own lungs, ignoring Bill’s instructions of sit up, sit up and eventually being pulled up by the shoulders and propped up against the headboard until he managed to stop coughing. “Here, have a drink,” he muttered, giving the cup to Gabe and watching him whilst he sipped at it. “Are you okay?” he said gently, taking back the cup and raising his eyebrows in concern. Gabe nodded, not wanting to speak in fear that he’d start coughing again. “You said last night that your bed was a lot less comfortable and that your room was really cold, and you’re not going to get better unless you’re in the right environment. Hey, maybe you should go home for a bit? You don't live too far away, do you?”

“About an hour and three quarters car journey, but trust me- home is not a relaxed, healing environment. And again, where are you gonna sleep if I were to theoretically sleep here?” he pointed out, raising an eyebrow. “Uh... I could uh, bunk with Sisky, or... I could always sleep in your room, uh...”

“Bill, stop being so ridiculous. This is your dorm. It’s not my dorm. I have my own dorm. There is nothing wrong with my dorm, so I can go and sleep there tonight. Fuck it, I should probably go now,” he sighed, attempting to push himself out of bed and ignore the spinning in his head. “No!” William blurted, diverting eye contact when Gabe stared at him. “I mean- you can go, if you uh, really wanted. But you don't um. You don't have to. Go, I mean,” he mumbled, furiously picking at the threads on his jeans and trying to diffuse the red flush in his cheeks. “Uh, okay. I guess I could stay. If you don't mind,” he mumbled, lying back down on his side and bringing his knees back up to his chest. “D’you want me to get off the bed?”

“Nah,” he whispered, closing his eyes again. “You’re good.”

Three hours of feverish sleep and two books later, William shook Gabe awake to whisper “I have a French class. I’ll be back in about an hour, okay? There’s tylenol on the bedstand if you need some and food in the fridge. Try and get as much rest as possible.” Gabe nodded, still drowsy from sleep. “Bye, Billiam,” he mumbled, rolling back over. The hot water bottle had cooled slightly, but it was still nice. There was a kettle in the room somewhere, right? He could always fill it up later. The constant throbbing in his head had eased quite a bit, too, but his entire body still ached, so he figured there was nothing wrong with trying to go back to sleep. Only- now he was alone, he figured it was probably the best time to call his dad. Not that he wanted to or anything, but he knew if he didn't make the call, his dad would. Jesus Christ, he was missing so many classes.

“Hello?” Diego’s voice sounded, all cold and professional down the line. Unlike his mother, he refused to speak Spanish unless it was completely necessary. “Um. Hi, dad. It’s Gabe.”

“Gabriel? Would you care to explain why your email account is flooded with emails from your professors asking why you’ve missed their classes? We’ve talked over and over about this – if you want to stay in college, you have to act like an adult and not a child who skips their classes just because they can,” he said, and Gabe already wanted to hang up. Pete was usually sitting with him for support, or Frank was stomping around in the background mouthing Diego off, but he was alone at the moment, and he wasn't a massive fan of it. “I’m not skipping my classes for the hell of it, I have the flu,” he croaked, clearing his throat in attempt to sound less gravelly. “These few years are the years that shape the rest of your life, Gabriel. You can’t just give a half-assed attempt at living them just because of a measly cold.”

“I- it’s not a ‘measly cold’, dad, I literally cannot stand for longer than a minute without wanting to throw up or pass out.”

“Stop being so weak and man up, Gabriel.”

“Don't tell me to man up,” he snapped back, and wait- wait a fucking second. “And wait a fucking second- how do you know what’s in my email inbox?”

“Don't swear at me, Gabriel. You left it logged in on my laptop, so the notifications were there when I tried to go onto my email.” Gabe rolled his eyes, sitting up properly and crossing his legs. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” he said with narrowed eyes. “It isn't bullshit, and that’s not the point. You’re pissing away your life in bed whilst- I don't know, whilst people like Andrew are actually accomplishing things!” he shouted, and he knew from the tone of his voice that this could only get worse. “Keep your voice down,” he hissed. “And don't compare me to Andrew.”

“I’ll compare you to whoever I want to, thank you very much. Look at him- he’s got a lovely girlfriend, he graduated high school with all A’s and now he’s the manager of half of my department. I offered you a job that would let you earn twice as much as anyone you know could ever make, but no, that wasn't good enough for you, was it? No, instead you seem to find all the time in the world to lounge around in bed because you can’t be assed to go to the class I enrolled you in.”

“Why are you not able to understand that I’m sick? I have the flu; I threw up four times this morning!” Gabe protested, not even having the energy to get angry. “You’re working yourself up over nothing, Gabriel! Can’t you pull yourself together and stop being such a child for once?”

“You’re calling me childish? You literally went onto my private email account and read my emails! You had no right to do that, no matter the circumstances!”

“I am your parent-”

“So? You don't even act like a fucking parent- but even if you did, that still wouldn't give you the right to invade my privacy like that!” he fumed, sniffing and furiously wiping his eyes. Fucking wimp, he heard in his dad’s voice. “Oh, grow up,” he sneered. Gabe could feel the telltale lump in the back of his throat, and he hated himself for it, he really did. “You know, you’ve been a really shit dad since you split up with mom,” he choked out, wiping his eyes again. “This is the first time I’ve spoken to you in weeks and you call to shout at me?”

“Are you fucking crying? Look, Gabriel, it isn't my fault that you’re so incompetent. Andrew, however-”

“I think you’re forgetting that Andrew’s not even your son- he’s just the kid of that slag you married!” Gabe sniffed, and he could feel the stupid tears running down his face. “Do you ever even think about me anymore? Or do you just call me to vent because you know there’s always something about me that you have a problem with? I’m your son, do you not remember that?”

“Andrew’s a better son than you’ll ever be-” he tried to say, but that was when Gabe hung up and threw his phone at the floor. He was crying properly now, grabbing his pillow from the left of him and burrowing his face into it. Why did his own father seem to hate him so much? Maybe he was right- was Andrew a better son than him?

Bill shifted on the balls of his feet, unsure of what to do. He figured out when he got down there that he actually had another 45 minutes to kill, and seeing as he couldn't find Sisky anywhere, he’d come back upstairs. Gabe obviously hadn't noticed him come in, because he’d carried on shouting about emails and staring at the floor. Now, he wasn't usually one to judge when everything he knew about someone was from a single conversation he wasn't mean to hear, but Gabe’s dad seemed like a fucking dick. No, he didn't have the right to go through his emails, and saying that about him and whoever Andrew is was unbelievably cruel. It also wasn't something Gabe needed to hear when he was ill – well, he shouldn't ever have to hear it, but especially not now. But there was no way in hell he could just leave Gabe crying on his bed, was there?

“Gabe?” he whispered, making his way over to the bed. Gabe went stiff, but didn't raise his head from the pillow. In fact, as soon as William sat down he actually tightened his grip on said pillow. “Hey, it’s okay,” he soothed, and he wasn't very good at comforting people, he knew, but it was worth a try. It was always worth a try. “W-why would he say that?” he whimpered. “I don't know,” was Bill’s reply, and it probably wasn't the right one, because Gabe made a weird gaspy noise and continued crying into the pillow. “No, shh, it’s okay. Come here,” he sighed, tapping his arm and waiting until Gabe buried his face in his shoulder. Then he just sat there, kind of awkwardly, as Gabe cried. “What he said doesn't matter, okay? I promise. It doesn't matter. Trust me,” he murmured into Gabe’s hair. And the thing is, Gabe did trust him. Blindly, since the second they’d met.

When he came back from his French class, Gabe was gone, leaving a scrap of paper on the bedstand with a smiley face and a ‘thanks for everything, Billiam – Gabe xo’ scrawled below it. The bed didn't feel the same without somebody else, and William found himself not being able to sleep until he crawled into Sisky’s bed (who just lifted up his arm for him to go under then carried on reading.)

-

The next day was a lot more uneventful than the previous. William still had next to no classes as most of his professors wanted to give them a few days to become accustomed to college life, but all that did was leave him with hours of nothing to do. Sisky, who was a double major too (biology and psychology) had quite a few more classes than Bill did for some reason, leaving him alone with his laptop for the majority of Thursday and the morning of Friday, in which Bill had attended one class and Sisky had attended three. Come Friday afternoon, he was bored out of his mind and had watched all the movies he had saved onto his laptop, taken an excessively long shower and actually unpacked for both himself and Sisky. It was still another hour before Adam’s class finished, so Bill decided to go and see if Gabe was busy. Or Pete. He was even considering hanging out with Frank in his own dorm with the presence of Tom if he had to. Gabe hadn't left his dorm since he’d come in from Bill’s on Wednesday night, and he’d only seen Pete at a distance with some other really short kid, so he couldn't ask about him.

He took one of Adam’s books, just in case – the virgin suicides, if you were wondering – because he wasn't craving conversation nearly as much as he was just craving company. To his surprise, he didn't see anyone along the way other than someone holding a bass in one hand and a string of Christmas lights in the other. He wasn't sure what the surprise was, come to think of it – that there was only one person, or that said person was holding a bass and Christmas lights. There was harsh music leaking out from the crack under Gabe’s door, so at least someone was in, even if it wasn't Gabe. He knocked twice and stood back, starting to skim the blurb of the book for something to do as he waited for someone to answer. He’d almost finished reading the reviews the movie had gotten when the dark green door swung open, and Bill found himself having to look quite a bit down to make eye contact with the guy who opened it. He had to be 5 foot 5 at most, and even then he was probably less. “Hi!” the guy said, pushing his glasses up his nose. He was wearing fingerless leather gloves, Bill noted, and he actually made it work. “Uh, hi. Is Gabe in?” he said, quieter than he’d meant it to be. The short guy nodded, standing aside to allow him in. “Yeah- he’s sick at the moment. In bed resting, if you wanna see him?”

Bill nodded and walked in, relaxing a little as the door shut behind him and a chorus of ‘Hey, Bill’s erupted around him. “Have you come to join our queer club?” Pete called from the sofa, and somewhere in the kitchen Frank laughed. “You have to be queer to enter, but that’s pretty much it,” he added. Bill frowned at the moving lump of sheets on one of the beds. “So you’re all queer, then?”

“Uhuh. I have the tattoo,” Frank said, walking past him and flashing him the bisexual flag on his wrist. “Gabe has the t-shirt, but his throat is sore so he’s not really talking,” he continued, “and Pete has the boyfriend,” was how he finished, punctuated with a droopy finger aimed in the direction of the really short guy. “I’m Patrick, by the way,” he smiled, going back to what was presumably his position on the couch next to Pete. “Is Gabe awake?” Bill hummed, putting his book down on the table when Pete mumbled “should be. Poke him.” He however, did not need to poke him, as he sat up as soon as Bill sat down on the end of his bed. “Hey, Billiam,” he croaked, motioning for Bill to lie down next to him. Bill didn't, but sat on the same end of the bed as Gabe’s head and leant against the wall, and that was good enough, especially when Gabe shifted so his head was on his lap. “You feeling any better?” Bill frowned, pressing his hand up against Gabe’s forehead. Gabe nodded, and he looked it, too. “Just resting,” he whispered, closing his eyes again. “Have you taken any tylenol today?”

“Uh... I don’t know,” he mumbled back. “Pete, has Gabe taken any tylenol today?”

“Yeah... he took some about ten minutes ago. And some painkillers. He’s acting kinda stoned, to be honest.” Bill frowned and looked down back at Gabe, who was currently fiddling with the hem of Bill’s cardigan and had his chin balanced on his thigh. “Do you not remember taking medicine?”

“Hmnuh,” Gabe mumbled, snaking an arm around Bill’s waist and collapsing into his stomach. Right. Okay, he could deal with Gabe being asleep on his lap. Totally. He was just ill and a little bit buzzed, so he would have happily clung to anyone, most likely – William was just the closest and probably the most willing to be cuddled. It was cool. Only, now that Gabe was snoring into the hem of Bill’s cardigan, he was also covering the entrance to Bill’s pocket, meaning that he was unable to get out his phone, and he couldn't even see the TV without uncomfortably craning his neck. “Frank!” he whispered, pointing at the table. “Gabe’s asleep, would you mind passing me my book?”

Frank stopped halfway between the table and the kitchen, raising his eyebrow and smirking at William in a way that suggested he knew something Bill didn't. “What?” he demanded, but Frank just carried on grinning and shook his head, passing him his book and then getting a beer from the fridge. Why was he looking at him like that?

“You stayin’ in here tonight, ‘Trick?” Pete yawned, gently shunting Patrick off of his lap and stretching. Frank didn't realise how late it had gotten until Adam had knocked on the door asking if they knew where Bill was because they’d both missed dinner and he had about six tubs of Chinese. When he saw that Bill was asleep, slumped against Gabe with his hand lightly resting in his hair he’d just laughed and taken a photo before inviting Frank and everyone else to have Chinese. There was a box left for William, everyone had made sure of that, but it was a while before anyone could bring themselves to wake him, because of how fucking adorable he looked asleep with Gabe. But because it was highly impractical for him to sleep there, Sisky managed to suck it up and start to gently shake him by the shoulder. He woke with a start, blinking furiously and only relaxing when he focused on his surroundings. “You missed dinner, honey. I bought Chinese. C’mon, outta bed,” he murmured, and the taller boy nodded bleakly. Pete and Patrick had turned their attention back to the TV, and Frank was pretty sure he’d heard Patrick agree to stay. He should probably get back to his own dorm, actually. He was gonna get an earful of shit for waking Tom up, that much was sure enough.

The only problem with William getting up was that to do that, he had to shunt Gabe off, and as Gabe was a very light sleeper, this woke him up. He stretched out and groped around the pillow, not looking up until he realised it was empty. “No, permanecer,” he muttered, blinking up sleepy eyes at the pair. “Quiero que te quedes,” he added, sighing and collapsing back into the pillow when he realised Bill had no fucking clue what he’d just said. Frank had, though, because Spanish was similar to Italian, and he didn't know whether he should tell Bill that Gabe had asked him to stay.

-

It was when he felt completely better that he’d decided to ask Sisky for advice. It was Sunday, and Gabe had realised on Friday that he was totally cool with marrying William Beckett and spending the rest of his life with him – the only problem with that being that he needed Bill to feel the same way, so the only obvious solution was to ask advice on how to seduce him. He knew that yesterday, Sisky had come back from his parents’ house (they lived in the city, so he apparently planned to go as often as he could) and that today, Bill was spending the morning with Carden for some reason. So Sisky was pissing away time somewhere, meaning all Gabe had to do was get dressed and find him.

The only problem was, he didn't want to get dressed. Not at all. That wouldn't matter, right? He could walk around in only pajama pants and a hoodie, right? By about halfway through freshmen year, you stopped getting judged for dressing like a grandma, and by about halfway through junior year, it was a common thing to see your classmates come in wearing pajamas. His pajamas were cool as fuck, anyway – they were neon and spotty. They had a matching top, but he was pretty sure Mikey had taken it a while ago, and it was probably better off with them anyway, because Gabe didn't sleep with a top on (too many layers.)

Even though it was a Sunday, there were a lot of freshmen who hadn't yet come to grips with the idea that Sundays meant not getting dressed or even getting out of bed if you could help it. Suarez was shuffling through the hall as well as them also dressed in similar attire but somehow pulling off the ‘I just got out of bed’ look even more so than Gabe. His hair was a tangled mess, he was wearing his reading glasses instead of those fancy framed ones and he was also wearing Nate’s slippers. “Hola, hermano,” he yawned, slumping against the wall and rubbing his eyes. “Cómo bebido eras tu ayer por la noche?” Gabe laughed back (see: how drunk were you last night?)

“Nada, actualmente. No podio sueño,” he mumbled, yawning again (if you’re wondering, he didn't actually drink. He just couldn't sleep.) “Soy en a mi manera cama,” he added, (he’s on his way to bed. Gabe won’t keep him, in that case and he hopes he sleeps well.) “Después no haré deténgase tú. Duerma bien, amigo,” he said warmly, patting him on the shoulder. Suarez just dopily grinned and shuffled away again. As much as he didn't want to admit it, that kid was quite a bit better at Spanish than him. That didn't really matter, though, because nobody else could tell.

Okay, so he’d knocked twice, and there was still no answer, which would have been fine if he couldn't faintly hear Sisky and someone else shouting anyway. Could they not hear him? “Sisky!” he called, and to his surprise, the door next to the one he was facing opened a few seconds later. “Hey, Gabe?” a voice asked, and a tiny guy (still not as short as Frank) stuck his head around the corner. “You’re the fridge guy,” Gabe frowned, because he was tired and his filter was off. He frowned. “Was I drunk?”

“Hammered.”

“That explains a lot,” he started, sticking his head back in as Sisky called out something. “Sisky says that if you’re here to talk to Bill you can’t ‘cause he’s out with... Chizzy? Chizzy or Carden, I dunno.”

“Carden, I think- but I actually came looking for Sisky, dude. D’you mind if I come in?” he asked, and the guy shrugged but invited him in anyway. Upon entering, he noticed quite a lot of things at once. One, the guy had somehow landed himself a single, the lucky fucker and two, the space for a hypothetical second bed was currently occupied by a rather impressive drum kit. There were boxes of cheap beer everywhere (which was surprising considering he was even further away from the legal age than Gabe and this was more beer in a college dorm that Gabe had ever seen in his life.) The guy was literally just in a large pair of boxers, showcasing a large bird tattoo taking up the top-section of his chest. Sisky was slumped over the couch with an X-Box controller in one hand and a cheese sandwich in the other (obviously cheese only because of the way tiny bits of grated cheddar fell out when he moved. “Siskybiz, you’re getting cheese all over my floor,” the guy frowned, but he then swiped the half-eaten sandwich out of his hand and proceeded to make it a completely eaten sandwich. Adam just rolled his eyes and carried on playing what might have been Halo 3. “Wassup, Gabe? It’s about Bill, isn't it?” he grinned, patting the couch space next to him. Gabe groaned.

Yes. You have to help me seduce him.” The guy started choking on his sandwich. Sisky paused the game. “Excuse me? And Butcher, go and get a drink, for fucks sake.” The guy nodded and leaned over to pull out an apple juice carton from the fridge (he didn't bother with a glass.) It was only then that the parallel between Sisky’s FUCK THE BUTCHER shirt and this guy – apparently nicknamed Butcher. Nice.

“I need your help to make Billiam fall drastically in love with me,” he repeated, because it was kind of obvious. “What’s to say he’s not already drastically in love with you?” Sisky retorted, grinning when the Butcher walked over, leant onto the couch and started threading his fingers through his hair. Gabe snorted. “Let’s be real here. What does he like?”

“Uh... if you wanna spend time with him, he’s in the common room a lot reading by himself. He likes reading with company – not to talk, just to have someone else’s presence. He likes massages, but he’ll never ask anyone but me, so you’ve gotta wait for the right moment. Uh... he likes dogs, I guess, but I’m not sure where you’ll get a dog and how you’ll get it on campus... He likes speaking in not-English, if that makes any sense? He’s majoring in French.”

“French? Aw, dammit – you got my hopes up. I’m fluent in Spanish, yo.”

“No kidding?”

“No estoy bromeando, amigo. Soy el verdadero negocio, y granadas son grandes,” he grinned, imagining the high five Suarez would have given him for adding ‘pomegranates are great’ onto the end of an otherwise serious sentence. “Talk to him in Spanish. He might catch the gist of what you’re saying, and if not, you’ll have an air of mystery,” Butcher added, pulling Sisky’s hair when he snorted. “Oh, yeah, by the way, if you get together he totally has a thing for hair pulling,” he sighed, frowning when Butcher immediately pulled away. “Come back, you little shit, I’m not the kinky one.”

“Adam, what the fuck- how do you even know this?” Gabe spluttered.

“I’ve walked in on him too many times, Gabe. Too many. I’m drastically scarred.”

“Now so am I, Siska!” Butcher protested, but he’d still gone back to playing with Adam’s hair.

-

Gabe found his chance a week or so later, warm and cosy with the fire on in the common room come next Friday evening. Pete had (politely but with obvious haste) asked him to not be in the room when Patrick came over, and Frank was busy screaming various torrents of expletives at Tom because earlier that day, Tom had ‘accidently’ snapped two of his guitar strings. Currently in the common room were Bill, Vicky T and Christmas lights bass guy, who was sitting on the floor, humming a varying tune to himself and writing down notes. He couldn't properly tell from the way he was slumped into a beanbag, but the guy was definitely on the tall side (possibly even taller than Gabe.) The guy was also wearing flip-flops, tartan pajama pants and a sweater, which made him look more comfortable than anyone else in the room. Vicky T was half-asleep in the green armchair, a sheet of paper with fabric samples sewn on in danger of falling off of her lap and massive fluffy slippers adorning her feet. Gabe was just wearing socks and frankly, his feet were rather cold. The socks weren't even matching.

Bill was still dressed (in black jeans, a tight blue t-shirt and blue doc martens,) sitting with his long legs up on the couch and scribbling down what looked like graph equations into a notebook. He looked better than Gabe probably ever had in his life, screwing up his nose when he came to a particularly difficult looking one and Gabe had been staring for far too long. “Hey, Gabey,” Vicky T yawned, stretching and watching the work on her lap slide to the floor. “Go to bed, ‘Toria,” was his response, and she’s tired enough to think “No, you,” is a good comeback. Bill, lying there like an angel with teal headphones, seemed not to have noticed Gabe arrive. “Greta’s waiting, Vicky T. Off you go,” he sighed, leaning over to sweep up her textiles work and hand it to her. She still hadn't moved. “Isn't your photography thingy really early tomorrow morning?” was the only thing that got her to get up, and even then, she did it painstakingly slowly.

“Mind if I sit?” Gabe asked after Bill noticed him and took off his headphones. “Not at all- dunno why you’d want to, though. I’m just doing maths.”

“Thought you could use some company,” he hummed, picking up the remote and ignoring the slightly stunned look Bill was giving him. “Anything you wanna watch? I’m always a slut for cooking shows, if you don't mind?”

Bill laughed, shrugging his headphones off completely and shifting up so Gabe could slump down against his now bent legs. “Whatever you want, Gabe,” he grinned, turning back to his maths sheet. Yes, this was good. Bill was totally falling in love with him as he spoke. “Here’s the real question, though – do you want the subtitles?” he angled, grinning when Bill’s face went from why would I want subtitles to oh you’re playing it in another language to wait what? “Uh... Spanish? Why are you watching a cooking show in Spanish?”

“Es mi lengua materna, Guillermo! Español gente comete mejor comida, de todas maneras. Además, creo que eres muy hermoso y espero que usted no entiende lo que estoy diciendo,” he added, because French wasn't hugely similar to Spanish, and Bill almost definitely wouldn't know that Gabe had just called him very pretty. William blinked, eyes flicking back and forth between the fast-talking lady on the TV and Gabe’s mildly amused expression. “You’re... Spanish?”

“I’m Latino – Uruguayan, to be specific,” he corrected, shifting around on the couch and placing his chin on William’s knee. “Oh. I’m from Chicago? It’s not as interesting as yours, but-”

“Who the fuck are you tryna kid? I love Chicago! My mama lives in Jersey, and that’s ultra bland, so Chicago is like, amazing. Whenever Pete goes down for the weekend I make him bring me and we piss of his parents by playing bass really loudly. They want him to be an accountant,” he added, grinning up at Bill. “I like Chicago a lot,” he hummed, twisting round to face Gabe more in a position that couldn't have possibly been comfortable. “As you should, hermano, it’s a fuckin awesome place. I mean, the music industry in itself is actually blatantly sexist and all-round bad, but it’s still awesome.”

“True that, dude,” he grinned, but it was quickly replaced by a grimace. “It’s official,” he declared, attempting to lean forward, “This couch has broken my back.”

“Do you want a massage? Pete’s always bugging me for them, so I think I've gotten pretty fucking good at them.” And just like that, he’s totally thrashing all of Sisky’s mental list – company in the common room, massages, foreign languages. Bill’s sitting on the ground on a pillow reading a book, and Gabe’s sat above him on the couch, working his back and watching the cooking show. It works.

-

“So,” Mike nods, placing the shirt back on the rack. Bill had earlier justified that because Mike had dragged him out to ‘Guitar Haven’ for a good hour yesterday, he had come shopping with them the next.  It really wasn't a fair deal, because Bill quite liked going to the guitar store, and Mike really didn't like going shopping but dammit, Adam had spilt soy sauce over five of his shirts and he needed replacements. “So, Santi?” he prompts, because Mike’s now distracted by a shirt with lots of fonts on it. It’s a minute or so more of him checking the size and holding it up to himself before he says “What are you planning to do about Gabe?”

Bill’s confused at first, really confused, because he wasn't aware that there was a Gabe thing that needed sorting out. “Pardon? What’s that supposed to mean?”

Mike finds the correct size and pulls it off of the rack before snorting. “What the fuck do you think it means? You can’t just leave him hanging forever, Bill.”

Bill raises an eyebrow at this point, dropping the white shirt he was examining to his side to properly look at Mike. “Excuse me? I have no idea what you’re talking about, Mike.”

Then he knows he’s screwed up a little, because Mike’s giving him that look, and it’s the one he used yesterday when Chislett asked why there weren't watermelon seeds in watermelon gum. “You’re an idiot,” he laughs, but the harshness is taken away from past overuse and insincerity.  Then, because Bill’s still staring at him like he’s just pulled a goat out of his ass, he rolls his eyes. “He spends every woken moment either with you or talking about you. He goes out of his way to make you smile. He looks at your like you’re walking on fucking water.”

“That doesn't necessarily mean anything,” he protests, even though he knows Mike knows he only said that because he was blissfully unaware of all of these things.  “Yeah, well, Butcher talks, dude. Gabe literally came in to his dorm in pajamas to ask Sisky for advice.”

“Advice on what?” he frowns, and this is when Mike whacks the back of his head. “On how to get you to like him, you idiot! Jesus shit, no wonder he’s had no luck. Anyone would struggle trying to ask out somebody as fucking oblivious as you.”

“Language!” he scolds, “There are children in here!” he adds, but he’s really trying to get to grips with the whole Gabe thing. “Whatever, mom,” is the reply he gets, and then Mike walks over to look at a pair of sneakers and leaves him alone to think about Gabe. The thing is, once you’re told that somebody likes you, images of you and said person won’t stop flashing through your head. Okay, so maybe he was really stupidly oblivious whenever he was around Gabe, but in all fairness, he was kind of distracted by Gabe just being... Gabe. He’s all a blur of uncomprehendable neon and noise- but it’s in a good way. Gabe being loud is usually Gabe being happy, and happiness is kind of his element. Despite being something of a songwriter, Bill is somewhat appalling at voicing certain feelings. However, he thinks that if he could voice whatever he’s feeling at this very moment, it would be something of an explanation for the funny feeling in his stomach he gets whenever he hears Gabe laugh.

“Mike?” he calls, half jogging over to where Mike’s about to pay. Fuck looking for more t-shirts – the two plain and two others he has in his hand will do. The cashier eyes them with something that’s almost curiosity, but she doesn't say anything. “You’re absolutely sure that he likes me?”

Mike rolls his eyes, holding his hands up in defence when Bill protests. “Serious business, Santi! Are you sure?”

Yes, William, I’m sure.”

“But are you sure sure? Or are you just-”

Bill,” he sighs in the voice that means I love you but shut the fuck up. “I was sure before Siska told me what he’d said to him and Butcher. Gabe likes you, dude. Like, ‘planning to marry you as soon as you’ve graduated’ likes you,” he confirms, and Bill relaxes a little, leaning against his shoulder. The cashier is watching them with an amused expression, but all she says is “Have a nice day!” when she hands them their respective stuff (Mike refused to pay for a bag so he just put his shirt in Bill’s bag.)

On the way back to campus (which they're only returning to because they both have a math class,) Bill doesn't talk at all. Whilst Mike is thankful for the rare silence, he also knows that this equates to something not-so-good, so as a best friend he kind of has to ask. So, lighting a cigarette and sticking one in his mouth, he sighs and says “You’re thinking too loud, Bill.”

“This is Gabe, though,” is how he starts it, and Mike closes his eyes when he tilts his head back to exhale. Something’s telling him that this self-conscious rant is going to last not only back to campus, but then be continued through notes scribbled down in math.

-

Gabe fucking loves the first month of college. Everything that isn't a mandatory class hasn't even started up yet, because everyone’s too busy making sure the freshmen know what they’re doing with their lives (none of them do, but they all learn to lie, and that's good enough.) That basically means dicking around all day in the common room or in respective dorms in pajamas, and he’s more than 100% okay with that. He tries to convey this to Suarez and Nate, but he knows for a fact that Nate’s not bothering to listen because he’s switching between Spanish and English every few words. Whether Alex is listening or not, he doesn't know, but he likes to talk, so he’s going to, and whether people are listening or not isn't really his problem.

And then, suddenly, Bill appears, determinedly striding through the common room and wow, Gabe still isn't over those legs. They’re absolutely stunning, slender and long, and would look amazing wrapped around Gabe's waist, thrown over his shoulders, or spread wide on Gabe's bed. Not to mention the fact that they're paired with that beautiful, ghostly white complexion that Gabe knows will let him mark up easily. “What’s the rush, Bilvy?” he calls, from where his head is on Nate’s lap, sitting up when Bill jumps and turns around. “Gabe!” he says, and Gabe doesn't know how to react to the long silence that comes after it.

“Um. That is my name, yes... is there anything I can help you with?”

Another uncomfortable pause, Bill eventually mumbling something about his shirt and flushing when Gabe raises an eyebrow. “Oh, right! I never gave that back, did I? D’you want me to go get it?”

“Um. Yes, if you’re not too busy.”

Gabe jumps up, gesturing to his sweatpants, old t-shirt and Nintendo DS that’s now lying closed on his previous seat. “Do I look anything other than free? I mean, I know Pokémon is super important, especially when you’ve almost beaten the elite four- but I’m always free for you, Bilvy-boy!” he beamed, beckoning for him to follow as he went towards the stairwell. “It is actually still in here, because I knew you weren't in when I brought back the washing and I also knew I would leave it in my room if I brought it down.”

“Why didn't you wash it in your own room? Where there's already a washing machine?”

“Ours is somewhat inoperable,” he sighs, and he’s about to go on, but Bill is looking at him extremely weirdly, and he’s not sure how to react. It’s not a glare, no, but his eyes are dark and he’s watching Gabe’s mouth as it moves, and oh, he’s still walking even though Gabe’s stopped. “You good there, Billiam?” he frowns, because Bill’s perfect face is extremely close, and he still hasn't said anything. But then suddenly, looking extremely unsure of himself, he leans forward and tenderly kisses Gabe on the lips.

What?

Gabe’s mind is kind of screaming literally what the fuck just happened but when Bill pulls away looking like he’s done something wrong, he realises he was literally too shocked to kiss back. Shit. “Sorry, I- uh, I shouldn't have, um,” Bill mumbles, furiously staring at the floor and turning to go. “Wait!” he says, almost definitely a lot louder than he intended, but that doesn't matter, because as soon as Bill turns back around, Gabe is there, closing in on his mouth and pushing him up against the nearest washing machine. He wants to laugh at the little squeak of surprise Bill makes, but then he swallows it down when Bill starts to kiss back. Gabe flails his hands in the air for a few seconds before resting them uncertainly on his hips, pushing forward slightly to move in sync with the younger boy.

Somewhere near the stairs, s0mebody clears their throat, and Gabe jumps backwards to meet eyes with Ryland, who’s kind of trying not to laugh. “If you’re going to do that,” he says, laughing when Bill goes as red as a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar, “I highly suggest you go to either of your respective dorms. Students aren't the only people who use this place, y’know,” he mock-scolds, but he’s laughing too, and he laughs even harder when Gabe closes his hand around Bill’s wrist and shoves past him.

“My dorm’s empty,” he blurts out, and Gabe can hear Ryland laughing from the bottom of the stairs, but that doesn't stop him from nodding eagerly, and it definitely doesn't stop him from letting Bill lead him to his dorm.

The kiss he gets when he pins Bill up against the wall of his dorm is rough and demanding, with an underlying level of finally, and it’s so honest-to-god amazing that neither of them want to be the first to move away. When they do break apart, Gabe’s kind of gasping for breath, and Bill’s looking at him like he’s not sure what to do next. When Gabe shoves a thigh between his legs and rolled his hips, however, Bill seems to know exactly what to do, because he gasps out before cantering up his hips twice as hard. Gabe takes that (well, amazingly and) as a definite invitation. Pushing him back onto the bed, he swipes his tongue over William’s bottom lip and nudges a thigh between his knees, spreading them wide apart. “You’re so fucking pretty,” he murmurs, moving down to smudge purple over his pale white neck. “I’m not pretty,” Bill gasps out, fisting his hair. “I’m manly as fuck.”

Gabe chuckles against the soft skin, reaching down to grope the nicely tented front of his jeans. “This is manly,” he says, palming him and watching him groan lightly. “You’d better fucking believe it,” Gabe nods, singlehandedly starting to undo the belt. After he gives up and undoes it using two hands, he looks up at Bill with dark eyes. “Okay?” he says, thicker than he’d intended to. Bill nods- of course he nods, hello, he was hardly going to say no when Gabe fucking Saporta was unbuckling his belt.

Bill’s about to complain about how Gabe’s all talk, but somehow the tight jeans that take literally six minutes to take off at the end of the day are crumpled on the floor, and it’s then that Bill realises that he’s wearing the my little pony boxers Chiz got him last Christmas. Gabe, however, doesn't seem to care in the slightest. “Your legs,” he chokes out, in such a strangled voice that Bill’s beginning to think there’s something wrong with his legs. “I’m gonna blame the horniness if you bring this up later, but I gotta say that you’d look fucking amazing in thigh highs and a garter.”

Bill would be lying if he said it hadn't crossed his mind before, but he doesn't mention this.

When Gabe starts mouthing at the front of his boxers, his hot breath almost giving Bill exactly what he wants, Bill tugs on his hair sharply and gasps out, “Fuck, Gabe, if you keep doing that I’ll do whatever you want.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Gabe smirks, tugging down his boxers and easily going down on him.

 

Afterwards, William chucks the shirt they used to mop up the jizz to the floor and pulls the covers up to his neck. When Gabe sticks his head over his shoulder and nuzzles into his neck, Bill makes a content humming noise and closes his eyes. “The legal age of consent here is 18,” he sighs, and Gabe stills behind him, but he’s still too fuzzy around the edges to care. “You’re 17,” he says slowly, breathing a puff of air when Bill nods.

“Oh shit,” he adds, but by the way he slings his arms over Bill’s hips and tugs him closer, it’s kind of obvious that he doesn't care.

 

Waking up with an armful of Bill Becket, Gabe decides, is one of the best ways to wake up. It’s not necessarily why he woke up – no, Siska came into the room air-drumming and stopped to smirk when Gabe started and made eye contact. One of Bill’s legs is hooked over Gabe’s hip, loose fists against his chest, and if he goes still enough he can feel William’s warm breath on his bare collarbone. “About time,” is all Adam says, then “Dinner starts in five. Meet you down there?”

-

When they go down there together, nothing’s different even in the way that everything’s changed. When Gabe sits down and takes up the tiny bit of remaining room on the bench, he just pulls Bill down onto his lap and starts to debate the quality of store-bought hashbrowns over McDonalds ones with Pete. Bill eagerly nods along to some guitar brand related argument the Mikes are having. Nobody says anything, because really, they already knew from the start.

(Well, that, and Siska told them as soon as he came down.)