Gabe liked things that started with W: Warped tour, walking, water, women, William Beckett. Especially William Beckett.
They met long ago, the Midtown days, when William was nothing more than a wide-eyed teenager, and Gabe had shitty friends. So, he made new ones: including that teenager. It wasn't anything until 2006, when William sauntered onto the Snakes On A Plane set, highly taken by Tom Conrad.
Not that it mattered. Gabe's mind was a safe: he might love William, but it was kept under lock and key. When Tom broke William's fragile little heart, William spent the night at Gabe's house. He shone like a star even when he was falling apart in Gabe's arms that night.
Gabe could never get enough confidence to make a move. He was too scared of ruining something, anchored by the long friendship.
"Baby boy looks good today," Travie nudged Gabe, as if Gabe wasn't aware. Why else would he be watching The Academy Is if not for their lovely singer?
It was too hot outside. Gabe was sweating, his shirt sticking to him in a way that wasn't desirable. William's hair looked disgusting, but he managed to make it work. Gabe looked like a wet sock.
Travie nudged him again. "Ey, Gabanti. Got the balls to ask him out yet?" He asked, humour in his voice.
Gabe shrugged dismissively. "I dunno."
"Cmon, it's been two years. Maybe I'll just slip in there." Travie joked.
Gabe snorted without amusement. "You wouldn't,"
Travie laughed in response. "You can't be sure. He's a pretty little thing, ain't he? I wouldn't mind getting with him. His youth is just wasting away, waiting on you." He teased.
Gabe blew out air, rolling his eyes. "Okay. Okay, I'll ask him when he gets offstage. I'm on next anyway." He said in a rush. He knew Travie wouldn't really pursue William, but Gabe couldn't be positive. He hated how jealous he felt at the thought of William with anyone but himself.
William came offstage shortly, beaming. "Gabe~" He sang, his voice cracking slightly. "You're on next, yeah? The crowd is sufficiently warmed up." Long fingers tucked hair vbehind his ears, hazel eyes bright and focused on Gabe.
Gabe nodded. "Yeah, in a little. Uh, hey, Bilvy. Can I-" He paused, having second thoughts. "Can I tell you something?"
William's face was flushed from the heat. He looked cute like that, Gabe thought absently. "Yeah, anything. What's up?"
"Uh," Gabe hesitated. "Hang on. Follow me," he said, leading William oiut of the busy area, away from Travie's smug face. They ended up behind someone's trailer, William leaning against it.
Gabe decided to just get it over with. Like ripping off a bandaid. "I like you."
William smiled. Laughed a little. "I like you too, man."
Gabe felt instant despair. "No, fuck. I love you, William. Like, romantically. And I have since that night Tom broke you." Gabe couldn't stop the flow of words now. It was too late to turn back. "God, I could be so good for you, Bilvy. All these boys want to do is use you and shatter your fucking heart. I'd never, William. Never."
William's expression was unreadable, his bottom lip sucked into his mouth. "Wow," He said incredulously.
Gabe cringed at himself. "I shouldn't have said all that." Too late to make amends now, though. "I'm sorry-"
"Don't be. Why would you be?" William asked, shifting his weight. He didn't seem irritated or uncomfortable, though.
Gabe wasn't sure how to answer. "I don't know. You-"
William's hand went to his own mouth, biting his nails. Which, of course, would be kinda gross if it weren't William. "I what?" He mumbled behind his hand.
"Didn't react much."
William inhaled loudly. "Gabe, I like you. I do. And I love you, but not romantically. I can't let myself do that again. I really, really can't." He said softly, dropping his hand back to his side.
Gabe remembered. Remembered the bruises and welts on William's skin. Remembered William crying out of fear over the phone to Gabe. Remembered how William just wouldn't leave Tom.
"I understand. And I can't tell you how fast you should recover from trauma like that, clearly. I just- I love you. So much." Gabe said honestly. He felt disappointed for entirely selfish reasons, and he knew it was wrong. And how dare Tom scar William like that, anyway?
William looked...sad? "I'm sorry."
"No, no. Don't be. I get it." Gabe insisted
They were quiet after that, looking at each other. William spoke first, breaking eye contact. "You need to get ready."
"You're right. Okay. Uh, okay. Thanks for being honest, by the way." Gabe shoved his hands into his hoodie pockets.
William nodded slowly. "B-before you go...uh. I think-I think we should k-k-kiss." He stuttered, almost too quiet to hear.
Gabe was taken aback a little. "I...okay. We can do that." He cleared some space between them, resting his hands on William's waist. He seemed so small.
William looked up, the sun lighting up his face. "You should st-start." He whispered, arms around Gabe's neck.
Gabe wasted no time, connecting his lips to William's. His lips were soft, and he leaned forward against Gabe, eyes fluttering shut.
Gabre could hear nothing but his own heartbeat in his ears. His hands slid down, fingers digging into William's hips. William's head fell back as he laughed. "No, you have to get ready. None of that."
Gabe's thumbs were rubbing circles on the soft skin of Williams hipbones. "Okay," he sighed, his heartrate returning to normal.
William gazed up, his eyelashes accentuating every blink. "Please, please don't hurt me, Gabe. I'm done getting hurt." He murmured.
"Fuck, William. I'd never."
"He said that, too." William barely breathed.
"And I'm not him. I won't ever do what he did. Trust me, okay?"
William squeezed his eyes shut, his face squinching up. "I do."
Gabe fell a little more in love. "I'll see you after the show." He said. He really didn't want to leave William at all, but he did after another long, slow kiss.
Gabe felt adrenaline on stage, but nothing felt quite as enthralling as kissing William Beckett.