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Just the Two of Us

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Michael Scofield surely wasn‘t into bad boys.
He liked boys that were taller than him, boys with light hair and green eyes. A good taste in music couldn‘t hurt either. And if a certain Michael Scofield was really honest, athleticism and intelligence sparked interest in him as well. All in all, he was one hundred percent sure, he wasn‘t into bad boys. Quite the contrary.

At least that‘s what he had believed until he reached the eleventh grade of his high school.
It was supposed to be a year like any other. Michael would, as always, achieve brilliant results in every single subject and surprisingly this was never affected by him being late for class almost every morning. As always his older brother would drop him off in his secondhand rust-coloured car just in time. But Michael wasn‘t a fast runner and every morning he was doomed by the many staircases that led to his classroom, which was unfortunately situated on the top floor. Of course both Michael and Lincoln should have realized over the years that it would be enough to get up five minutes earlier. But since every teacher eventually stopped complaining after the first few weeks, they decided to keep things the way they were. And so Michael was two minutes late for class almost every morning. A very ordinary school year so to speak

However, after a few months, said school year took a not so unusual turn. Out of nowhere a boy appeared that Michael would not have expected in his life. Theodore Bagwell was three inches shorter than him, his hair was dark and his eyes were deep brown. He was not very muscular or athletic, he barely listened to music and his grades left a lot to be desired. But one fateful day when Michael was being late again and had just opened the door to the classroom, the words “Shit, I‘m late!“ suddenly echoed through the empty corridor and he was pushed aside. It was one of those rare days when Michael‘s best friend Fernando Sucre didn‘t show up for the first lesson. As a result the newcomer settled down at the now unoccupied table right next to Micheal‘s seat. When Michael thought back to that moment, he wondered if everything would have turned entirely different if Sucre had just sat at his desk as usual. According to his own statement Sucre had skipped the first lesson to spend more time with his girlfriend, whom he adored over everything. And so, after a few minutes of class, Theodore Bagwell turned to Michael unhindered and whispered softly:
“Sorry I bumped you in the hallway. Of course I wouldn‘t have done it if I had known how pretty you are.“

As of now Michael was sure that he had fallen for him at that exact moment.

 

„Good mornin‘, Pretty.“
Theodore greeted him, running a hand over Michael‘s shaven hair. „I gotta say, I still love your new haircut.“
While Michael smiled at the other boy and brushed the straps of his backpack off his shoulders, Theodore leaned forward and said close to Michael‘s ear:
„It just feels really good.“
Michael felt a familiar heart rise to his cheeks when he suddenly realized how close his classmate was to him and how he could take in his broad southern accent more clearly than ever before.
„Can you please stop doing that in public?!“
Theodore paused for a moment, still mere inches away from his face.
„I would, but to be honest I think you‘re enjoying it.“
Not even Michael himself knew exactly if he liked Theodore‘s public flirting or not, so he stuck to what he new: If he stared reproachfully at Theodore‘s eyes for a second longer he wouldn‘t be able to concentrate properly for the rest of the day. Thus Michael turned away with a sheepish grin that he simply couldn‘t suppress before their teacher could admonish them.

This morning Michael had been late as well. But it hadn‘t just been the usual two minutes, he had been twelve minutes late and these minutes hadn‘t gone by without a reason. There had been one of the notorious quarrels between Lincoln and their mother and everything had ended with Michael‘s decision to simply walk to school in order to ever get there. Lincoln had caught up with him in his car midway and had driven him the rest of the route. Although Lincoln had apologized several times during the trip, Michael didn‘t really feel like returning home directly after school. Not even the pancakes his brother had promised for dinner could change his mind and to be honest he didn‘t believe Lincoln when he claimed that these arguments wouldn‘t happen anymore for at least a month.
He didn‘t want to spend his afternoon with a mother who, for some inexplicable reason, did not seem to truly love her eldest son. She reguarly made the boys feel how much she preferred the younger one of them. Every time Michael saw how much her words were able to hurt his big brother he felt worse than words could describe. He looked up to Lincoln more than to any other human being in the world, and for that very reason and even after all these years, he finally began to resist his mother. Of course he didn‘t do it in the conventional way. He didn‘t go out to get drunk at parties or to secretly get tattooed. Michael chose a much more subtle way. His first step was to shave his hair down to only a few inches. Their mother, or “Christina“, as Lincoln had stubbornly called her for two years, was always keen to praise Michael‘s good looks. Now, with his short hair, Michael strongly reminded her of Lincoln and every day he felt a sense of satisfaction mixed with a bit of guilt as he watched Christina disapprovingly examine his head. The feeling of guilt that hit Michael so very often seemed to have always been his biggest weakness. But relentless he kept going and shaved his hair to the same short length every single week. He attributed a great part of his unusual determination to the bad influence of his new boyfriend. They had been a couple for two weeks now, and if Michael had figured something out during that time, it was that Theodore was the type of guy his mother would never tolerate. It didn‘t matter how much of his undeniable charm Theodore would show, their mother would find him repulsive. Yet Michael, who was said to be so much like his mother in so many ways, was blown away by the boy‘s appearence and behaviour. Said boy was currently watching him from the side, while Michael half-heartedly scribbled down some notes. He couldn‘t say exactly how they had even come to their relationship. It had all been clear from the moment Theodore entered the classroom, sat down and turned around to face him. And even though Michael had reflexively tried to put some distance between himself and this boy, that he found so strangely attractive, he had not been able to avert their joint future. From the first day on, it seemed like Theodore had chosen him. For four whole weeks, Michael had managed to elude the shameless flirtation of his new classmate. The boy had tried everything from little courtesies like sweets to compliments that were so straightforward it almost embarrassed Michael to even hear them. After two weeks of this, Theodore had already managed to get ahold of Michael‘s phone number. It wasn‘t long before Michael received a text message every single evening shortly before he went to bed. “Hey, Pretty. Sleep well. From T. Bagwell ;)“ was by far the worst rhyme he had ever heard but Theodore‘s efforts certainly did not go to waste and things settled just as he had planned. On the sixteenth of October 1999, Michael simply couldn‘t stand it anymore and planted a little farewell kiss on Theodore‘s cheek as they left the school building. He had done it so shyly and briefly that on the same evening he had to call his boyfriend on the phone just to make sure he had really done it. And that was that.

By now Michael had noticed a few things about Theodore. He spoke very little about his personal life and was much more pleased by talking about Michael and his not solely romantic affection for him. Surprisingly, however, their relationship still remained very innocent, so far it consisted of long hugs as well as seven short kisses. This was mainly because Theodore unsuspectedly took his time. Any outsider would consider his behaviour a very caring gesture but Michael had the unnerving feeling that Theodore wanted to challenge him. He just waited and looked at Michael with those intense dark eyes for a long time until Michael‘s skin began to tingle and his cheeks blushed. He had no choice but to make the first step if he didn‘t want to lose his mind anytime soon.
Shaking his head smiling, Michael set his pen aside and was about to start looking for an eraser in his pencil case when a familiar Alabamian accent piped up.
“Any plans for today, Pretty?“
Michael glanced at the teacher‘s desk to make sure their teacher was busy, then he turned his head to Theodore, who had just kept on talking.
“I mean, okay, actually I have to go to detention today but that doesn‘t mean that I can‘t go out with you later on, right?“
Theodore had leaned far to his side so that his forearms where resting on the table in front of him while his torso was twisted in Michael‘s direction. The way he turned his head from side to side with a touch of irony as he spoke made the sinews stand out at his neck and Michael really had to concentrate to not just stare at his classmate in utter silence. So he put on an amused and playfully reproachful expression.
“May I ask why exactly you‘re having detention?“
“Oh wooow, Michael! Stop raising your eyebrows like that, you‘re making me weak.“
The mocking grin, which always seemed to be a part of Theodore‘s appearance, spread all over his face and Michael knew he had once again said exactly what the other had hoped for.
“So“, Theodore began with an extravagant gesture of his right hand, that earned him an irritated look from one of the other students.
“You remember that beautiful drawing that I made especially for you? A work of art in which I have invested many hours of work and effort.“
“Of course I still remember your“, Michael lowered his voice until he sounded a bit like television artist Bob Ross. “artwork. But what about it?“
The portrait of Michael resembled a indeed very very free form of abstract art if Michael had to be honest and if he was even more honest, he felt that Theodore had drawn the picture simply for the purpose of getting their current conversation going. Nevertheless the drawing was safe and sheltered in Michael‘s room and woe to the one who dared to throw it away because of a lack of quality.
“Well, you seeee“, Theodore said slowly and his eyes widened just before he finished his sentence. A clear sign that he considered the next thing he was about to say, to be either funny, exciting or maybe even both.
“I drew it during a math lesson.“
“Are you serious?“
“Sure. And because your pretty face is my very first priority, Mr. Patoshik sadly had to realize that I hadn‘t written a single number on my squared piece of paper.“
Michael sighed. He had wanted to offer Theodore some help with his math homework for free, even before they started dating. But as soon as he addressed the subject, his boyfriend laughed it off, just as he did now, as he looked into Michael‘s slightly disappointed face.
“Come on. It‘s not that bad. Maybe I can do another beautiful portrait of you during detention? How about that, huh?“
Just in time, the two noticed that their teacher was about to go on with the lesson and Michael quickly leaned over his notebook again. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Theodore winking at him in his smug way. A hot feeling that had disappeared by the next second, spread in Michael‘s stomach area and his disappointment in Theodore‘s behaviour had vanished just like that.
Sometimes he was a little worried about how easy it was for the other boy to simply wrap him around his finger.

 

The building of the high school as viewed from the outiside, seemed to consist only of gray-brown natural stone slabs and many windows framed by ugly yellow plastic. The dense soup pof gray clouds that had gathered during the last few hours, took away the school‘s last remnants of its already nonexistent charm. Soon it would start to rain and the paved schoolyard would turn into one of the most bleak places in the entire area. Not even the scattered shrubs and apple trees could pretty up the yard at this time of the year. They only bloomed in summer and even when they did, they never looked as beautiful as a student who was looking out the window during a boring lesson hoped they would. When it rained during autumn, the small patches of soil on which the trees were rooted, turned the faded cobblestones into a wet and dirt-smeared pavement. It was a lose-lose situation. His hands tucked into the pockets of his navy blue flying jacket, Michael looked up at the front of the school building. His eyes reached the unadorned clock that hung between the windows of the art room and the chemistry lab. It was 15:25. He would have to wait five more minutes before his boyfriend would come out of the main entrance. His boyfriend who didn‘t seem to fit into his world at all. Without taking his eyes of the clock, Michael felt for his bulky and outdated walkman in his left pocket. The walkman had belonged to Lincoln until a year ago which was more than obvious thanks to numerous traces of usage. If it had belonged to Michael right from the start, it would still look like it had looked the day it was taken out of its cardboard box. But of course the device had belonged to his brother and Michael had to realize that the button that was meant to fast the CD forward, was broken. Just this morning he had accidentally grabbed one of Lincoln‘s CDs and his headphones now boasted some kind of gangster rap, which unfortunately didn‘t match the musical taste of the younger brother. Regardless Michael didn‘t want to put the headphones down. So he pressed the key again and again, hoping that something would happen. His index finger was still pressed against the angular outline of the skip symbol as the front door swung open. Theodore quickly crossed the schoolyard. He hadn‘t bothered to close the door properly and when it fell back into place, it made a loud noise that echoed over the almost empty yard.
“Hey, Pretty“, grinned Theodore as he stopped next to Michael, who was standing at the front door of the cafeteria. In his left hand he was holding a piece of paper that he now waved proudly in front of Michael‘s face.
“You didn‘t draw on squared paper this time, did you?“ Michael asked jokingly and took off his headphones with a smile. Theodore was wearing a dark green, hooded jacket with a pale red tartan pattern. If someone had asked Michael to imagine a “handsome boy in a dark jacket“ a few months earlier he would have thought of a tall young man with blond hair and perhaps even glasses, wearing a dark blue blazer. But now he was having a hard time relating to the thoughts of his former self. There was something undeniably attractive about these loosely fitting jeans and the worn off jacket. Maybe it was the overall picture of his boyfriend‘s clothes and his looks combined. His weakness for boys with oversized clothing and bad grades had always been there, but Michael had repressed it after his mother had told him over years how similiar they were. As if on his own, little Michael had begun to adapt to the charasteristics of the highly intelligent Christina. These included, among other things, a sense for organizing affairs, certain ambitions as well as her taste in choosing a partner. Of course Michael‘s mother didn‘t know that her son was interested in his own sex but that had not reduced her influence in the slightest. Now, Michael‘s interest in “bad boys“ had returned and every time he looked at Theodore he was hit by a strange feeling of nostalgia. He had the faint suspicion that his new boyfriend‘s clothing style awoke old memories of a sixteen year old Lincoln inside of him. After all, he had a very close bond with his brother and it certainly wouldn‘t come as a surprise to know that Lincoln might have influenced his likings at an early age.

“Do I have something on my face?“
The question interrupted Michael‘s train of thought but obviously Theodore had not meant it in a serious way because in the next moment Michael was already far too close to the other boy‘s face to be able to observe more than the area around his eyes. He wouldn‘t have been able to check if his boyfriend had something on his face, even if he wanted to.Theodore‘s arm wrapped around Michael‘s waist as he locked their eyes together and smiled at him conspiratorially. Michael stood there motionless and a little overwhelmed by how close they were. There was this glint in the other boy‘s eyes that always seemed to be only one step away from coming off as dangerous and it made Michael stutter as he answered.
“W-Well, you didn‘t shave.“
That was true, but Michael‘s attention wasn‘t caught by the scattered stubbles on Theodore‘s chin, but by the glow in his eyes that flickered like a faint sparkle behind his iris. The logical “Christina part“ of his brain tried to associate it with an emotion, maybe it was passion? Meanwhile, the emotional part of his brain, the “Lincoln part“, focused solely on Theodore‘s eyes themselves. They were dark brown like mahogany and seemed to swallow every single beam of sunlight. There was no way these eyes could shine like this, when the whole sky was covered by gray clouds.
But before Michael could think about this little phenomenon for one more second, the glint disappeared and he sensed how Theodore tucked his hand into his pocket with Lincoln‘s old walkman in it. Slowly his fingers began to loosen Michael‘s grip around the small electronic device and Michael‘s heart began to flutter under the unusual touches. The nervous feeling that pooled in his stomach always reminded him of the somewhat exciting fear he had felt right before his first class test. At the young age of eleven, Michael had already learned how to suppress and ignore this nervousness in order to work more efficiently during exams. But when Theodore was near him, all the little things that had made Michael a genius at such a young age seemed to fail and ignoring his feelings didn‘t work like it used to either.

You can‘t block out Theodore, Michael thought, still standing there with his heart pounding, looking silently into the other‘s eyes. When Theodore‘s fingertips touched Michael‘s palm, his eyes also disappeared from his line of vision. He leaned over to Michael‘s right ear and had to raise his head a little due to their height difference. He was so close by now that his nose grazed the small birthmark on Michael‘s cheekbone. As he began to whisper into his ear, Theodore placed the sheet of paper into his palm and closed Michael‘s fingers around the rough surface of the note.
“Are you sure, you don‘t want to take a look at this first, before you start complaining about my looks?“ Theodore asked in an undertone of amusement. To reinforce his words he stroked the back of Michael‘s hand one more time. Early on, Theodore had noticed that he seemed to have an incredible talent for irritating Michael‘s senses. Naturally he made a lot of use of his newly discovered endowment. On the left side of Michael‘s body, he gently stroked his hand, on the right side he whispered into his ear and as he breathed in to continue speaking, Michael couldn‘t help but shudder at the odd sensations.
“ReIax. I didn‘t do it on squared paper. I‘d never disappoint your artistic expectations. Right, my little Michael-Angelo?“
Laughing at his own pun, Theodore let go of Michael‘s hand and broke the spell. Michael‘s heart rate slowed down again and his left hand tightened instinctively around the piece of paper.
“I‘m taller than you!“ Michael snapped at his boyfriend and was surprised by how taunting he sounded. Surely it had to be because of Theodore‘s teasing gestures. The tension of the last few seconds had melted away from him so quickly, it still made him feel a little uncomfortable.
“Yeah, but I‘m older than you“, chuckled Theodore. He was right. Theodore was two years older than the seventeen year old Michael and from that Michael concluded that he must have repeated a class at least once before he was sent to the local high school to repeat it one more time. Nobody knew exactly why Theodore was there anyway. Since he had been late on his first day, there had been no time for an appropriate introduction in front of the class. For undefinable reasons Michael didn‘t dare to ask the older boy for details. Maybe it was because the whole thing seemed like some sort of conspiracy, especially to him and Sucre. It was undeniable that Theodore‘s arrival at their school had appeared staged. He had just shown up in the middle of the school year and their teacher hadn‘t even announced their new classmate. Everything seemed as if the school‘s officials had hoped to integrate Theodore into the everyday life of the students as quickly as possible, so that little by little they would forget about all the unsolved questions. Michael made a mental note to perhaps ask his boyfriend cautiously about the subject later and then, under the expectant glances of Theodore, he carefully began to unfold the sheet of paper. Clueless and blinking Michael looked down at the pencil strokes that were spread across the page.
“Um, what exactly is this?“
Theodore took a few steps back to look over Michael‘s shoulder and acted excrutiantingly mortified.
“You‘re holding it upside down, Pretty.“
“Oh.“ Michael laughed awkwardly.
Now that he was looking at the doodles from another angle, some of the graphite strokes started to form clearer outlines. Still, it was very obvious that Theodore wasn‘t exactly a gifted artist.
“That‘s us, right?“ Michael asked, pointing at two stick figures. One of them had a cluster of small pencil strokes on its head, which Michael recognized as his new hairstyle. The other one though barely had any distinguishing features except for being smaller than the abstract version of Michael.
But Theodore was nodding approvingly and Michael just assumed that, like many other people, his boyfriend simply didn‘t feel comfortable drawing himself. Still, the other lines, which seemingly were forming a path around the stick figures, remained a mystery to Michael and he looked up questioningly.
“Oh, come on“, grinned Theodore incredulously. Despite his very prominent self-confidence, he appeared to be in disbelief.
“It can‘t be that bad. You don‘t recognize anything?“
“Does it comfort you to know that my brother‘s drawings are worse than yours?“
“All right.“ Theodore gave in, pointing at one of the lines running past the two stick figures up to the top of the page.
“That‘s a path, okay?“, as he explained his thought process behind the drawing, he kept looking up eagerly and Michael grinned when he realized how serious his boyfriend was about the entire thing.
“That stuff over here is supposed to be grass and that‘s a graffiti on a wall“, ended Theodore, finishing his little speech.
“Okay, but.. where are we?“
Finally it seemed like Michael was acting accordingly to his boyfriend‘s expectations again, for the elder one solemnly took his hand and turned with him a little, until they were both looking in the direction of the main street.
“That, my dear..,“ Theodore announced and then paused dramatically for a few seconds, while Michael was still looking at the street that began right where the schoolyard ended.
“..is supposed to be the place where we will spend our date together.“
As he spoke, he pointed to the right and his finger followed the route of the main street up to the point where the asphalt path disappeared behind a wide range of buildings. Michael knew that behind these blocks of flats with drab facades and balconies, the suburbs of town lay hidden.
But what on earth do we want there? The words were right on the tip of his tongue, but when Michael turned to look at Theodore, he noticed a tense line around the corner of his mouth and he decided to play along for once.
“Can we still call this a date, even though we‘re already a couple?“
He asked instead, starting to walk a few steps ahead of Theodore.
“Whatever you want to call it, Pretty,“ The other boy replied with that smile on his face that was somewhere between teasing and mischievous. It had been playing around the corner of his mouth for days now.
When they finally left the schoolyard, Theodore raised his arms over his head, stretched his back and continued talking, even though several minutes had passed since his last words.
“Everything can be the way you want it to be,“ he mumbled and Michael wasn‘t sure if these words were directed at him or if his boyfriend was talking to himself.

 

They had just crossed a number of traffic lights and left the busiest part of town behind, when Theodore stopped abruptly and ordered Michael to halt by shortly lifting his left hand. Eyebrows contorted skeptically, Michael watched as Theodore slid past a fence on the edge of the sidewalk without any explanation. His lean body, covered in loose-fitting clothes, disappeared behind a shrub and thus also from Michael‘s field of vision. The rustling of Theodore‘s footsteps faded and for a few moments, in which Michael‘s hand closed tightly around the sheet of paper he was still holding, it was quiet around him. Then the high pitched pling! of a bike bell sounded not too far away and Michael turned around a little bit too swiftly. Next to a gray bus stop, only a few feet away from him, stood Theodore, waving at him. There was an old bicycle leaning against his thigh, by paying attention to the way it looked like Michael could tell that it most likely dated back to the eighties. The handlebar consisted of a piece of iron that was bent in the shape of an U, and as he approached, Michael could see that the red-painted bicycle frame was almost entirely covered in various stickers. Among them were stickers, that had been bought as souvenirs from different countries, as well as collectible stickers, just like the ones Michael found in every second pack of his favourite cereal. All in all, the bike with its old handlebar, the very low adjusted leather saddle and the colourful stickers, definitely was a very peculiar sight to behold. It seemed like a child‘s bike that someone simply hadn‘t been able to get rid of. Michael gripped the cold metal of the handlebar with his left hand and looked at the bike more closely. It was probably even older than he had expected. The handlebar and saddle had obviously been replaced. He estimated them to be about ten years old. But what really caught Michael‘s attention were the screws that connected the saddle to the rest of the metal frame. His subconscious had noticed these things right from the beginning, it had simply taken time to process the information. The screws were at least twenty years old. A model that wasn‘t outdated but certainly out of fashion. Immediately, Michael‘s brilliant brain had been struck by the far too cumbersome shape of the screws, since they were rarely seen these days.
“Is that yours?“ He asked, releasing the handlebar while looking up at his boyfriend.
“You think I stole it?“
“No, of course not,“ Michael interposed with a worried smile. He should have figured that his question would sound a lot like a suspicion. After all, the older one didn‘t know, that he had only been thinking about screws.
“Good. `Cause I didn‘t. I just left it there so we wouldn‘t have to go to my place first. I didn‘t steel it, Michael.“
For a brief moment, so brief that Michael had almost missed it, an expression he had never seen before crossed Theodore‘s face. He almost thought of it as a hint of fear, but his boyfriend‘s gaze had been far too sharp, too determined to appear timid. But just as fast as that shadow of an emotion had surfaced on Theodore‘s face, it had disappeared again. With a wink that made Michael inevitably think of their conversation during Politics class, Theodore leaned forward until his torso hovered over the handlebar.
“I would never do that.“
He was looking directly into Michael‘s blue eyes.
“Especially not when you‘re around, okay?“
Michael was silent for a few seconds. The previous image of Theodore faded and left him with the boy who had almost knocked him over that one morning. The boy, who really was anything but his type, but who had an incredible charm about him that could make Michael‘s head spin at any time without the slightest effort. Meanwhile, Theodore had propped up his forearmes on the bicycle, the fingers of his right hand were fumbling at his jacket‘s sleeve. The patterned cloth went well with the multitude of stickers that covered the red coating. As he was absently looking at him, Michael was overcome by the sudden desire to kiss his boyfriend. It started off as a creeping, hot feeling in the pit of his stomach, that slowly rose in his body, while his eyes were studying the contours of Theodore‘s narrow face far too closely. He had always been impressed by how perfectly his classmate‘s cheekbones merged into the shape of his forehead and his jaw. They made up a even form of almost eery beauty that caught the eye of the beholder and then led it over the entire face of the young man. From the slender lips that didn‘t have the slightest sweep, to his nose that blended so well into his appearance, that sometimes Michael forgot how much he even liked the other‘s nose. Even in a profile view, his nose ran in a flawless slant, barely interrupting the sraight line between Theodore‘s forehead and his chin. Still, the small dent beneath his eyebrows was prominent enough to keep the bridge of his nose from looking boringly perfect. Michael‘s gaze moved on to Theodore‘s eyes, which were as dark as ever, and on to his hair. Despite still being a teenager, his hairline was very high at the temples, which made Theodore‘s forehead appear longer. Once again this little aspect of his appearance accentuated how his brows took part in the interplay of cheeks and chin. Michael swallowed softly as he realized what an enormous crush he was having on Theodore. Even by his standards, it was very rare for his mind to be so overwhelmed by so many impressions that were all coming from one single person.
“Okay,“ said Michael, not giving in to his desire to kiss the other boy.
His voice sounded a little strange in his own head, too high pitched, and he was pretty sure it was due to his fierce feelings towards his boyfriend.
“Alright, jump up!“
Theodore turned the bike around and glanced over his shoulder. After some back and forth, the two had finally managed to evenly distribute their weight and Michael, who had been seated on the luggage rack, wrapped his arms around Theodore‘s waist as they drove off.
Sitting on the old bike like that, they had to look very outlandish from afar:
The taller Michael crouching on the back of the thin metal frame, and in front of him Theodore, who managed to look a few inches smaller than usual due to the misaligned saddle. Nevertheless, they didn‘t have any difficulties getting the bike moving and soon they had left the bus station far behind. Here and there Michael could see tall grasses and other weeds on the edge of the road, towering up among the cobblestones. They had reached the outskirts of town.
A soft voice that could only be his mother‘s voice started whispering in the back of his head. He shouldn‘t be doing this. Michael Scofield shouldn‘t be sitting on another boy‘s luggage rack, especially if that boy was wearing shabby clothes, had a devilishly sharp smile and was driving him into the unknown.
But that was exactly what Michael wanted, right?
He could trust Theodore, even though the older boy was making many sexual innuendos around him, that surely would have disturbed others. That‘s just how he was.
They had known each other for over a month and although Michael had to admit that they had become a couple within a surprisingly short amount of time, he was convinced that he could trust his boyfriend. Yes, he believed in ihm. As he shook off the creeping doubts his mother had sown so thoroughly over the years, Michael closed his fingers tightly around the fabric of Theodore‘s jacket. Next to them, trees began to move by on both sides of the road, and a small jolt shot through the bike as the smooth cobblestones under their wheels turned into a meager paved path. It was amazingly quiet around them.
Slowly and cautiously to keep the bike in balance, Michael slid forward on the hard and umcomfortable rear rack until his forehead rested on Theodore‘s shoulder. He listened to the rustling of the treetops on the roadside and felt how piece finally returned to his thoughts.
“Everything alright?“ He heard Theodore‘s voice.
At the same time he could feel on his cheeks how his boyfriend‘s body vibrated slightly under his own voice.
“Yeah, I‘m fine,“ Michael smiled against the soft fabric of the jacket. It smelled a bit like smoke. Instinctively he clutched tighter onto the other boy and turned his head to the side, only to realize that the first cornfields were already coming into view.
“Will we get there soon?“
“Just a few minutes.“
Beneath his palms, Michael could feel Theodore‘s upper body moving up and down in sync with the squeaking of the pedals. He closed his eyes, giving in to those light movements and the gentle rubbing of cloth against his cheek as he spoke.
“Can I ask you something?“
“Sure. What is it?“
“Where did you get the bike from?“
There was a lowering pause, but Michael had anticipated it and reached out to lay his right hand on Theodore‘s chest, showing him that he wasn‘t really distrusting him. As he sensed the muffled throbbing of his boyfriends heart against his fingertips, the familiar feeling of guilt rose again. He cursed himself for allowing his mother‘s actions to still make him act according to her ideas, even allowing them to provoke thoughts inside his head that weren‘t his own.
Of course he wasn‘t harboring any doubts towards the boy, whose heartbeat he was able to feel under his palm like it was the greatest evidence of honesty. After all, he had quite the crush and maybe had even fallen in love with him. Were they in love?
Michael really couldn‘t tell but right at this moment it almost felt that way. They were riding an old bike down a path full of potholes, leaving the city centre far behind and the clouds had become so dark by now that a storm was probably brewing up as well.
All in all, it wasn‘t a very pleasant situation but yet it awoke certainly pleasant feelings in Michael. It gave him a sense of relaxation to be with Theodore, while they were on their way to place he knew almost as little of as he knew of Theodore himself. Usually Michael spotted even the smallest issue at first sight, it didn‘t even matter if it was about school, family or friends.
Lincoln was having a problem or didn‘t dare to talk about his new girlfriend?
Michael knew it before he even mentioned it.
They were starting a new topic in class?
Michael knew most of the answers without having to think about them a lot.
Christina was mad at him or Lincoln?
He already had a telling wrench in his guts before he got home.
But today, for once, Michael didn‘t know what was about to happen and he was grateful for that. He felt relieved.
Theodore was so entirely different from anything he knew but at the same time the boy was also able to bring back so many memories, that had been locked deep inside of Michael. It was a contradiction Michael could neither explain nor put into words and he was unbelievably glad about that.
Even if someday, Theodore would tell him everything about his life, pouring out his heart in front of him, the person behind the unfathomable brown eyes would still remain a mystery to him.
“I really didn‘t steel it, Michael,“ he heard Theodore say in a surprisingly serious tone and his heart jumped a little at the sound of his name.
“I got it for my birthday.“
“Yeah?“
“Got it from my dad.“ Towards the end of the sentence Theodore‘s voice grew impercetibly weaker and he paused briefly. Only the sound of rubber tires on apshalt could be heard.
“He gave it to me on my eighth birthday.“
“Aww!“ Michael lifted his head from Theodore‘s back and grinned happily, even though he couldn‘t imagine what an eight year old Theodore possibly might have looked like.
By thinking back at the outdated screws, he concluded that the bike had probably belonged to Theodore‘s father anyway before he had given it away.
His grin faded again when he heard a bitter huff coming from Theodore‘s direction. He didn‘t have to see his face to know exactly that once again the sharp line in the corner of his mouth had returned, that would make his heart ache every single time he saw it.
“So.. it‘s not going that well between you and him?“ He asked carefully.
“I don‘t even live with him anymore,“ Theodore said dryly.
“What?!“
Michael almost unbalanced the bike when he forgot to sit back a little in order to arrange the pressure on the wheels whenever they were driving over a pothole.
“You don‘t live with your parents?“
“Nope. Foster care. New family, new place, new school, all that shit.“
At these words Theodore aplied the brake to the front wheel so abruptly that Michael bumped his hip and lost his balance as they dismounted without any warning.
“We‘re almost there anyway. You comin‘?“
“You can‘t just change the topic now!“
Michael clumsily stumbled after him, too surprised by this new, very personal information about his boyfriend to just think of something else.
“Why don‘t you live with your parents anymore? Is that why you suddenly turned up at our school? Is that why you didn‘t want to get your bike from your place? And why didn‘t you tell me?“
The questions poured out of Michael, he just couldn‘t help it. He didn‘t even have the time to consider that Theodore had just labeled moving to his school as “shit“.
“I just don‘t get it. That‘s why our teacher didn‘t tell us that you would come to our class? Something terrible happened to you, right?“
“Michael, stop..“, Theodore mumbled, without even turning around to face him, his shoulders lowered and his hands stuffed into his pockets.
But Michael didn‘t stop there. Something terrible had happened to his boyfriend. Something awful enough to have him send to another family, another town.
“You can tell me about it.“ His voice cracked at how anxious he was. “Really! I -“
“Shut up!“
Michael fell silent immediately.
“Just shut the fuck up, goddammit!“
For the first time Theodore was yelling at him. He was screaming in anger and frustration. And even if he still had his back turned at Michael, that didn‘t change the fact that the sudden change in his voice brought tears to Michael‘s eyes.
With one last furious uncontrolled sound, the other boy aimlessly stomped on the ground until the asphalt was crunching under the formerly white soles of his shoes.
Then, after a while, he slowly turned around to face Michael. His rush of anger seemed to have vanished, but in his eyes Michael saw something disturbingly vulnerable, that didn‘t quite fit into the mental picture he had of Theodore.
“Please, Pretty,“ Theodore said quietly. His voice was hoarse.
“Just.. Just be quiet for a second, ‘kay?“
He kept on muttering, seemingly erratically trying to make Michael stop talking, as he took a few wobbly steps to the side and then walked up to Michael again, as if he didn‘t know where to turn.
“Always talking.. you‘re always talking. Just shh.. And, oh God! You‘re always caring about every damn little thing..“ was all Michael could understand, until Theodore finally came to a halt.
He didn‘t move. He just kept his head down, his hands digging deep into the lining of his pockets, while his eyes were almost manically focused on a spot somewhere on the dirty ground beneath them.
A pulsing vein was showing at his temple.
Slightly disturbed by the sudden tantrum that had just come over Theodore, Michael slowly approached his boyfriend and gently raised a hand. When he was met with no protest, he reached out and gently gripped Theodore by his shoulders.
“Everything alright?“
Hesitantly Michael tried to catch the other boy‘s gaze.
“I didn‘t mean to pressure you about it. I was just worried, you know?“
Now it was Michael‘s voice that sounded weak and hoarse and he hated himself for it. He didn‘t want to burst into tears in front of Theodore and make the situation worse than it already was.
“I‘m just.. I worry so much about others. It has always been like that.“
As he spoke, Michael tried to pull his classmate into a hug, but his attempts remained unsuccessful.
“My brother thinks it‘s super annoying that I want to interrogate him over every little thing. So, I guess you‘re not alone.“
“Stop.“ A hand closed around his wrist and his arm was gently pushed aside.
“It‘s okay. You can stop apologizing now.“
“Sure?“
At last, Theodore looked back up at him again and Michael was incredibly relieved when he discovered that the strained burning had disappeared from his boyfriend‘s eyes.
“Yeah, sure.“ As if to confirm his words Theodore softly squeezed Michael‘s wrist again before releasing it for good.
“I‘m sorry I yelled at you, Pretty.“
“It‘s okay.“
“No, really.“ Theodore had walked over to their bike and looked at Michael over his shoulder for a long time, while wheeling the bike past him.
“Maybe I‘ll tell you about it another time, okay?“
“Okay.“

They kept following their way without saying another word. The silence was absolute and thanks to the screeching of the bicycle‘s tires it got even more unbearable.
“We can still go on the date, right?“ Theodore asked after about two minutes of silence.
“Of course!“ Michael blurted out and immediately took the chance to overcome the uncomfortable distance that had formed between the two of them. He lunged forward and leaned against Theodore‘s right arm. In a forgiving gesture he clasped his boyfriend‘s forearm with his slender hands and smiled encouragingly at him. Gratefully, Theodore returned his passes by leaning against Michael in return.
“We made it,“ he said and interrupted Michael‘s thoughts. He just had been pondering about whether kissing the other boy‘s cheek would be a good idea or not.
A few hundred yards ahead of them sat a gray factory site that had been rightfully banished to the outskirts. Chimneys of various shapes and sizes blemished the sky and Michael figured that the entire cluster of silos and concrete buildings had to be part of the abandoned industrial area. It was considered to be abandoned since, for years; no company had wanted to take over the old machines. But nevertheless, new smoke rose from the numerous chimneys every day. The theory was that the former industrial center had longe since been taken over by small-time crooks, the mafia or other not very legal organizations. Sucre was convinced that crystal meth was being cooked in the old halls of the factories, even though they probably were full of heavy machinery for producing car parts. Of course, Michael couldn‘t tell whether these rumours contained even the smallest spark of truth, but if there was something he could say with certainty, it was that the entrance gate to the area had been completely closed off.
Only a few moments ago they had approached the high wire mesh fences that were seperating the drab factory landscape from the rest of the world, only to find a large padlock preventing them from getting inside.
Theodore quickened his pace, ran past Michael and clawed his fingers into the mesh of the fence.
He started shaking the structure of wire and steel that was towering many feet above him, then he tried his luck on the matt silver padlock. With a strength nobody would have expected from a boy of his height, he desperately yanked on the massive metal lock until the entire fence was shaking and a loud clanking sounded.
The sound echoed off the wide grass fields surrounding them, and Michael saw it as some kind of signal for him to intervene.
He jogged off and clumsily dragged the bike along with him but then decided to leave it behind half way back. By now, Theodore hadn‘t made any further attempts to violently tear down the entrance gate. It almost appeared like he had given up.
“Hey,“ Michael said as he jerked to a halt beside him and eyed the huge security fence.
“It‘s not that bad, okay?“
Again, Theodore didn‘t answer him. Instead he let his body fall back against the fence. Even though he was wearing a jacket, the wire meshes bore into his back and Michael figured that his pose couldn‘t be comfortable.
“Oh, goddamn,“ exclaimed Theodore weakly. He sounded worse than during their little fight a few minutes ago. More defeated. Before Michael could speak up, Theodore had already pushed himself away from the fence with a sway of his hip, half-heartedly warding off Michael‘s hands as he tried to calm him down.
“I just can‘t do anything right, can I?!“ He asked with a sad smile on his lips, that, for a brief moment, made him seem a lot older than he was.
“Why are we here anyway?“ Michael replied a little unsettled and tried to ignore the pain his chest that was growing steadily at the sight of his completely devastated boyfriend.
“I thought it would be a good idea to..“ Thedore started to explain, but his voice cracked. Again, he took a few aimless steps back and forth while he was tearing his hair with a sound that might have been a sob.
“..to come here, y‘know?“
His hands still clenched in his hair he glanced up at Michael with reddened eyes.
“I thought.. I thought I could take you on a really nice date. Something special.“
The pain in his chest rose up to Michael‘s throat, where it formed a tight knot.
The ligth breeze that swept over the open area felt unbearably cold on his hands and cheeks.
“But it was a stupid idea, I know that.“
Theodore had shuffled back to him and lowered himself against the fence once more, this time with folded arms. The wire rustled softly.
“Fuckin‘ stupid.“
“No..“, Michael began and raised his hands soothingly. He felt pretty overwhelmed by the situation.
“Theodore, it‘s not -“
“Shh,“ the other boy interrupted him, sniffling quietly before clearing his throat.
Lowering his head so that a few brown strands of hair covered his left eye, he hunched his shoulders and continued to speak in a somewhat more confident voice.
“Even if the lock hadn‘t been there, it still would have been a bullshit idea.“
Theodore‘s hands clutched hard into the fabric of his jacket and into his upper arms.
His knuckles stood out brightly against the contrast of his skin that had been flushed by the cold wind.
“What was I thinking, Michael?“
Helplessly Michael opened his mouth and then closed it without saying a word. His face was filled with an expression of deep concern. He could see that an indescribable rage was burning in the depths of the other boy‘s eyes and said rage was aimed at Theodore himself.
“Oh, it‘s fine, don‘t say anything.“ A contemptuos but slightly amused snort from Theodore didn‘t really help lightening the mood.
“What made me think that bringing you to a place like.. like this, would be a good thing to do. To such a shitty place. Fuckin‘ crackheads probably hang out in there, oh god. I thought it would be nice to show you around the abandoned factory halls and all that. Because you like that engineering stuff about machines, right? Y-You‘re into that, aren‘t you? I thought it just would be nice to be here with you. Just the two of us, y‘know?“
By then Theodore‘s monolgue had turned into a frantic babbling and Michael knew that he wasn‘t going to stop unless he made him.
“Theodore,“ Michael said, trying to sound as authoritarian and certain as possible. Suddenly his boyfriend broke off and raised his eyes at him. However they were still wet with tears of frustration and his bottom lip was trembling slightly.
Slowly, Michael placed both hands on Theodore‘s crossed arms.
“It‘s okay.“
Gently he began to release the clinging grip on the other boy‘s jacket by affectionately lifting each of his fingers, one at a time, waiting for it to relax in his hands.
“We are here, see? Together.“
After Michael‘s words had faded away, they looked each other in the eye for a long time. A faint roll of thunder broke the silence, but the two of them didn‘t pay any attention to it.
Then, finally, Theodore managed to smile a little. It was a weak smile. Frail, but nevertheless it was able to reach his eyes and it made them glow again. With a deeply relieved sigh, Michael let go of Theodore‘s hands and enfolded him in a tight embrace. Actually, it wasn‘t a real hug or embrace. Michael had just wrapped his arms around the other‘s waist as far as their pose allowed him to and was pressing him against the fence, using his entire body weight. But that didn‘t matter.
What mattered was that they had regained some sort of stability.
He didn‘t know exactly what had caused Theodore to get so upset. Of course he was having certain presumptions but he figured it would be better to keep all of that to himself for now.
Just like he had done it during their short trip on the bicycle, Michael rested his head on Theodore‘s shoulder and closed his eyes as soon as he felt soft cloth against his cheek. Even though the last few minutes had been full of turmoil and even though Michael had seen his boyfriend in an absolutely devastated state for the first time, the entire thing felt like it had been necessary. What they were doing felt like a real hug. Of course, it wasn‘t exactly convenient to be pressed against a fence in the late autumn‘s cold and on top of that Michael‘s calves began to hurt from the unfamiliar posture. But still, Michael believed that their current embrace made him feel closer to his boyfriend than he had ever been before. Their previous hugs which had taken place in the corridors or the yard of their school, had always been accompanied by Michael‘s nervous heartbeat and he had never been able to genuinely savour the moment. Partially this had been due to Theodore using every other opportunity that came his way to make seductive comments or to give Michael a particularly intense look, that would turn his head and put him off his stride.
This time it was completely different.
Theodore didn‘t say anything and all Michael could feel was the raising and lowering of his chest and the soft breathing next to his right ear. He was finally able to truly be with him without any distraction. Before he could wonder if Theodore had deliberately kept an emotional distance between them, the gray sky darkened and another roll of thunder filled the air. Instead of lifting his head, Michael snuggled closer into his boyfriend, who didn‘t object. He felt a hand against the back of his neck. It was warm but the skin had been roughed up by the cold. Only yesterday he had shaved his hair once again and when Theodore gently stroked the almost bald scalp behind his left ear with his thumb, the touch felt strangely unfamiliar but pleasant at the same time.
“Michael,“ Theodore said softly and ran his entire palm over his hair, letting his fingertips graze the smooth skin beneath.
“Yes?“ Michael asked, raising his head. He smiled gently as he looked at Theodore, glad that he was visibly feeling better.
His boyfriend returned the smile briefly and then, to Michael‘s astonishment, slid down the fence until his eyes were on one level with Michael‘s collarbone.
The next moment, Theodore had tightened his grip around Michael‘s neck and pulled him down towards his face.
Their kiss wasn‘t rushed at all.
Just as hurriedly as Theodore had tugged Michael closer to him, as much time he took to thoughtfully touch his cheek and to look deep into his eyes.
Only then he allowed their lips to meet gently.
Michael‘s heart stood still for an incredibly long second, and although Theodore treated him as gingerly as never before, the soft but unfamiliar sensation of a pair of lips on his own triggered the urge to back away.
When he sensed Theodore‘s breath as well as the gentle exchange of air between their lips, he couldn‘t help it anymore and squeezed his eyes shut, right before jerking backwards.
He was already quite familiar with this damned feeling of discomfort.
It was just like Lincoln had told him. You never really want the first kiss, his brother had said to him once. It just feels too weird.
Problem was: this wasn‘t Michael‘s first kiss. He had wimped out from many kisses before, even when Theodore had been the one who tried to kiss him.
And yet it wasn‘t like he didn‘t want to kiss him at all, right?
In fact, Michael had thought about kissing Theodore multiple times that day. Still, he just couldn‘t finish the job. Everything was perfect until it wasn‘t.
God, Michael had secretly longed for a kiss from these lips.
His entire situation was one large contradiciton he couldn‘t make any sense of, no matter how hard he tried.
His heart bounced in anticipation whenever Theodore‘s face came close to his own and just before their lips touched, he was always having a hard time not to smile, and then..
Then he pussied out.
Why on earth did he have to be such a wimp?
Why couldn‘t he just kiss the boy he felt so incredibly attracted to?
Saddened, Michael glanced up at Theodore. In his stomach the oh so familiar feeling of guilt was spreading like a wildfire.
What if Theodore felt rejected by him because he never kissed him back?
The line of worry between Michael‘s eyebrow‘s deepened when he noticed a mocking grin on his boyfriend‘s face. But Theodore wasn‘t laughing at Michael, he was laughing at his many sorrows and doubts. His hand was still resting on Michael‘s cheek and he reassuringly caressed the tender skin.
When Michael finally understood his intentions, he lifted his hand a little higher up and stroked the little wrinkle on Michael‘s forehead, until he relaxed and the crinkle disappeared.
A drizzling rain had set in and Michael, whose hands were now resting on Theodore‘s shoulders, leaned against him once more to shield him from the droplets of water.
“It‘s okay, Michael,“ Theodore stated, placing his index and middle finger around Michael‘s jaw. His thumb gently brushed over his lower lip.
“I know that feeling. You just have to get used to it first.“
Michael blushed. He had to admit that he had expected something different here. Theodore‘s sincere understanding of his situation struck him off-guard and quickly he tried to mask his embarrassment.
“Yeah, but maybe I shouldn‘t be doing that in the rain.“
In the meantime the light drizzle had turned into a small thunderstorm and more and more raindrops were falling on Theodore‘s hair and the sadly non-water-repellent fabric of Michael‘s jacket.
“Alright then.“
Theodore kicked himself off the fence with his right foot and pushed Michael away from him a little until both of them were standing upright again.
The turf under their soles slowly but surely turned into a muddy surface and the two became fairly aware of how reluctant they were to ride a bicycle through the rain on a wet unpaved road. Michael‘s eyes roamed over the terrain, exploring the surrounding area. Eventually, he tugged at Theodore‘s sleeve and pointed at a small building that was standing on their side of the fence not far from the entrance gate. During their arrival Michael hadn‘t paid much attention to it because of the way it looked like. The door made out of corrugated iron was more reminiscent of a garage than anything else.
“Just take a look if we can get in there somehow,“ as he turned away from his boyfriend.
“In the meantime I‘ll go get the bike.“
Being worried about Theodore, Michael had left the bike lying on the road, which was now smeared with dirt just like their schoolyard on rainy days.
With quick steps he approached the bicycle, that, from far away, looked accusingly abandoned and gloomy.
He pleadingly hoped that the stickers wouldn‘t soften in the rain.

When Michael clenched his clammy hands around the cold and slippery handlebar, he saw that Theodore had managed to get the garage door at least halfway open and confidently he made his way back. The bike threatened to slip on the wet road a few times, despite it‘s thick tires, and he was more than happy that they had decided to stay and wait. One arm shielding his eyes from the raindrops, Michael ducked under the rusty edge of the garage door and dragged Theodore‘s old bike into the dimly lit room. The abandoned building hadn‘t looked very large from the outside and therefore the interior was no surprise. All four walls of the garage were packed with cardboard boxes, steel pipes and other things that were barely visible due to the faint light that was coming from outside. Theodore had already started to clear a few boxes and Michael watched him as he spread out a dusty carpet roll, that he must have found somewhere, in front of him. Without taking his eyes off him Michael carefully leaned the bicycle against one of the numerous stacks of boxes and other objects. Still standing with his back to Michael, Theodore coughed silently when the carpet hit the floor and he was enveloped by a small cloud of dust. Michael grinned and tapped Theodore on the shoulder, while he was brushing the dust off his jacket with an annoyed expression.
On the wall behind him was a large graffiti, that mainly consisted of various shades of red, but especially in the shaded corner he couldn‘t make out more details.
The certainty that someone had been in this abandoned place before reassured Michael and he kept looking at the graffiti as he spoke.
“I guess we‘ll have to wait here until the storm dies down. No idea how long that will take. I thought maybe we could listen to music but my walkman is bro-“
He was interrupted when Theodore abruptly turned to him and reached for his upper arm. Michael winced a little, still surprised at how firm the other‘s grip could be.“
“What is it?“ He asked softly, but Theodore didn‘t reply at first. He pulled Michael closer, just like he had done earlier. His hands closed around Michael‘s elbows and with gentle pressure he traced the contours of the joint through the jacket‘s fabric. It felt strangely pleasing.
Slowly he leaned his back against the wall behind him. This time there were no wire meshes that could have bent and Theodore stood there completely relaxed. His head tilted slightly to one side, shoulders lowered and hands laid loosely around Michael‘s elbows.
In his eyes Michael noticed, once again, that glint he had admired so much a few hours ago. It felt as though the moment Theodore had been waiting for all day had finally come.
“Pretty?“ He let go of Michael‘s arms and instead put his arm around his waist. Theodore‘s hand gripped Michael‘s narrow hipbone and as their hips clashed softly, Michael‘s spine dropped slightly into the hollow back.
Again, Theodore‘s face was so close to his and he could feel his warm breath on his neck.
“Wanna practice kissing?“
It took awhile for Michael‘s brain to process the question, despite it being able to make the most impossible conclusions in next to no time.
You just have to get used to it first, the words echoed in his head.
Michael gulped nervously and dug his fingers into the fabric of Theodore‘s hood.
“W-Why not.“
As the words escpaped his dry lips, he all of a sudden felt oddly aware of himself. He could feel how slim his own fingers were, as they started to fiddle with the zipper of Theodore‘s jacket like they were having a mind of their own. He could feel his hips tightly leaning onto the other boy‘s stomach.
Maybe it was just due to the darkness around them but the entire situation suddenly seemed incredibly inviting.
“Can we hug first?“ He heard his own voice say as he opened Theodore‘s jacket to huddle up closer against his body.
“Sure.“ An arm supported him and Michael buried his face in Theodore‘s neck. Unexpectedly, the cold wall behind them came into his way, pressing against the top of his skull and he let his head slide down further. Now his cheek was resting on the soft crook between shoulder and neck and the neckline of Theodore‘s white T-shirt tickled his chin.
“`S that okay?“ asked the mouth that was lightly brushing over Michael‘s outer ear with each word.
“Mh-hm.“ Michael hummed contentedly against the warm skin of his boyfriend and took in a deep breath.
Theodore‘s scent filled his mind and he remembered when he had first sensed it. It was a smell Michael would never forget. All the other boys he had ever been so close to had either smelled of detergent or men‘s perfume. Theodore, however, smelled...natural.
It was the sheer and pure scent of skin, much more pleasant than any perfume in the entire world. It was what Michael, still very innocent for his seventeen years, imagined to be the smell of sex. At the thought of this, heat rose to his cheeks and he lifted his head from Theodore‘s shoulder. Timidly, he looked down at his right hand, still nervously kneading one of the cloth cords of Theodore‘s hood, twisiting it between his fingers until his boyfriend took care of making the first step for the second time that day.
He placed his index finger under Michael‘s chin and turned his head a little to kiss him right next to the corner of his mouth. His lips lingered there for a moment and Michael let out a shaky breath when he noticed that the gentle touch was already causing his heart to beat to the neck.
“No need to be scared,“ Theodore whispered against his cheek, his short beard stubble scratching against Michael‘s neck.
“We‘ll start slowly and you just let me know when to stop, okay?“
“`Kay.“ Michael only just got the word out and closed his eyes.
Little shivers ran down his spine as Theodore rested his hands onto the back of Michael‘s neck and calmingly closed his fingers around the firm sinews.
A few seconds later he felt the touch of tender skin on his lips and instinctively pressed both hands flat against Theodore‘s chest. At first, their lips just faintly brushed against each other and over time a soothing warmth spread in Michael‘s stomach and made his fluttering heart fade into the back of his mind. Of course he knew that this was still far from a real kiss.
As if to give him a sign, Theodore brought a hand up to Michael‘s cheek. His fingertips caressed his temple and his thumb nestled behind his ear as he gently leaned his head to one side and then deepened their kiss. Theodore slowly enclosed Michael‘s bottom lip with his lips. Now things were getting serious. Michael felt how the sensation of thin warm lips against his own made his stomach turn in excitement.
He felt the soft pressure of Theodore‘s face on his cheeks as his boyfriend brought them even closer together. Their kiss was interrupted for only a fraction of a second, just for Theodore to catch his lips again. This time a little bit more demanding.
Then in the twinkling of an eye it was all too much.
With a faint gasp echoing from the walls of the storeroom, Michael flinched back and simultaneously pressed his hands firmly against Theodore‘s ribcage.
The other boy simply had to relax his posture a little further, until Michael, who was propped up against his hip, slid back into his arms as if he had moved by himself.
Apologetically, the older one covered Michael‘s right hand with his own and squeezed it lightly.
“Was that too fast?“
Michael breathed in deeply, not wanting his boyfriend to realize how strung up he really was.
“No.. I think I was just being to jumpy.“
“Still want to try?“
As if Michael had been able to resist that voice, that always sounded so close to his skin, almost making him feel the words.
“Yes.“
His boyfriend didn‘t ask again, instead he took Michael‘s face in both hands and tilted it downwards. Due to the bad light Michael could only see that he was now looking down at the point where his rips pressed against the other‘s chest.
Shortly afterwards Theodore‘s chin appeared in his line of vision and again with slow caressing strokes he showed Michael where and how he wanted to kiss him after a little more endearment.
Michael‘s eyes closed, he just about felt his own eyelashes on his skin, when Theodore‘s lower lip gently pressed against the small scar on Micheal‘s upper lip and he held his breath as his boyfriend‘s lips finally closed around the small dent between his nose and his mouth. Both of them took a deep breath and Michael already felt much calmer than before. To distract him a bit from the new sensations, Theodore synchronously drove both of his thumbs along Michael‘s jaw while his lips moved from one position into another as comforting as possible.
The urge to back away was there but it remained a small pulsing sting below Michael‘s breast bone and so he began to kiss back with renewed determination. At first, he was reluctant to meet Theodore‘s movements and relied on pressing their lips a little firmer against each other after every brief breath they took inbetween.
Theodore was the one to break away from the kiss this time.
“Are you sure you‘re not getting ahead of yourself, Pretty?“
“No. It was fine. I mean really! Not just fine but...“
He was so surprised by his own actions that he simply couldn‘t find the right words. Just now, he had come closer to a real adult kiss than ever before in his young life.
He noticed that his pleasant astonishment must have been written all over his face, when Theodore chuckled and raised his hand to tickle Michael under the chin.
“You were super sweet, y‘know that?“
“Stop,“ Michael grinned embarassed but proud and twisted his neck back and forth, trying to avoid the tickling.
“Ohh, but teasing is a sign of af-fec-tion,“ replied Theodore, emphasizing each syllable. The dallying tone had almost completely vanished from his voice and Michael wasn‘t excatly surprised when, even in the dimness and even after their innocent attempts to kiss each other, he recognized a seductive fire burning in Theodore‘s eyes.
Something was telling him to take the opportunity. He wanted to know what being with Theodore Bagwell really was like? Well, the time had finally come.
“Can I start?“ Michael asked quietly into the semidarkness, lifting his hands from Theodore‘s upper body.
“Wooow,“ the older one teased him again. Though he couldn‘t hide a certain degree of recognition. Michael wasn‘t really listening to him anymore. He was too busy losing himself in the passionate brown of Theodore‘s eyes until their spark leaped over and ignited his mind. He barely noticed when his boyfriend slid down the wall, guiding his body down with him. Although both of them were now sitting on the old dusty carpet, having more than enough space, Michael lowered himseld onto Theodore‘s lap.
Every inch of his mind was highly focused and at the same time his head felt utterly empty from the moment on he took Theodore‘s face into his tender hands. His head hadn‘t felt that blank in a long time.
All his eyes could perceive, all they could focus on was the pair of lips he was about to kiss and when the two boys were only mere inches apart from each other, his thoughts were covered in a haze of his boyfriend‘s sensual scent.
Michael could feel the heavy throb of his heart directly on the surface of his own skin, intensly quivering on his lips and in his fingertips, which were currently seeking some sort of support in Theodore‘s hair. In an innocent but no longer inexperienced way, he brought their mouths together with a shallow breath.
For a brief moment, Michael‘s whole world came to a halt and a feeling that reminded him of the sound of fireworks from afar, spread through his head, replacing the previous emptiness. That‘s what kissing someone you love had to feel like, he wouldn‘t have been able to explain his sensations otherwise.
After he had overcome the first shock, Michael used his body to push Theodore back against the wall and began their kiss anew. Again and again he planted soft kisses on his boyfriend‘s lips until his breath hitched in his throat and his cheeks burned with excitement. He was genuiney grateful when Theodore took over his part of the job. His hands were the only thing about Theodore that wasn‘t lean and lithe and Michael had never thought, he would enjoy a firm grip around his hips combined with a passionate kiss as much as he did. The older one took away the last bit of his breath and the rush of his own blood in his ears even drowned the sound of raindrops drumming against the garage door. A soft sigh found it‘s way over Michael‘s lips as their kisses deepened further. Ashamed but at the same time surprised by the sensual sound he had just made, Michael tenderly slid his lips down Theodore‘s mouth until they parted smooth and softly and only their heavy breathing could be heard.
Theodore raised a hand to appreciatively caress Michael‘s cheek as the younger boy tried to regain his breath, his eyes cloudy and his mouth slightly opened. The insufferably sweet compliments the older one was whispering to him didn‘t make it any easier. Theodore‘s hand roamed on to massage Michael‘s nape and he leaned past him, closer to his right ear, just the way he liked to do it.
Now, with Theodore‘s breath brushing only over Michael‘s cheek, a cool breeze settled over the rest of his face and he shuddered. Or maybe he had shuddered because of Theodore‘s voice that could easily make anything he said sound so indecent and dirty.
“Oh, you‘re doing great, Pretty.“ The southern drawl and the supposedly innocent words shook Michael‘s body to its very core. Theodore pronounced each word with so much care and dropped his tone a little lower than usual.
The subtle arousal in his voice caused the tiny hairs on Michael‘s skin to raise up bit by bit with a shaky and eerie feeling and Theodore just wouldn‘t stop talking.
“You‘re learning so fast. Just like in school.“
Michael‘s reasoning made its final farewells.
The cold that usually prevailed during this time of the year had long been forgotten and Michael wouldn‘t have been able to protest anyway when his boyfriend slowly stripped the flying jacket off his shoulders.
“I just love these long sleeve shirts, Pretty. You wear them almost every day and the sleeves are always a tad too long.“
Theodore‘s hands settled on both sides of Michael‘s torso and started to feel out each and every one of his ribs, only covered by a single layer of clothing.
“That‘s just so fuckin‘ cute.“
Michael‘s heart, that by now was nothing more than a trembling hot clump in his chest, melted away under the praise in the truest sense of the word.
Theodore placed a little kiss on his cheek, making Michael feel his satisfied grin against his skin.
“And don‘t get me started on that little birthmark of yours. Y‘know, the one on your temple.“
Desperately, Michael clutched the other boy‘s shoulders, who had lifted a little from his cross-legged position beneath him. He was starting to feel dizzy and he was slightly afraid he might lose consciousness if he let go.
When Theodore‘s hands found the hem of his shirt, he wrapped his arms tightly around his chest to be on the safe side.
“You‘re such a pretty boy, Michael,“ whispered Theodore, placing his hands directly on Michael‘s exposed flat stomach, and enjoyed feeling his abdomen quiver underneath his fingers as he pressed his mouth against the younger boy‘s jaw.
“Not only pretty..“, he continued, a certain wishfulness lacing his words. His lips were slightly opened and trailed longingly over Michael‘s Adam‘s apple until they found his carotid artery visibly emerging from his soft neck. “..but you‘re smart and beautiful too.“
There he kissed him and caressed his skin, while his hands pulled down the round neckline of Michael‘s shirt. A dark hickey was forming on the delicate skin above Michael‘s collarbone. Michael stifled a whimper by resting his face against Theodore‘s chest as he felt all the attention he was getting arouse a yearning pulling sensation in his crotch. Of course, he the feeling wasn‘t entirely unfamiliar to him, after all he was a teenage boy. But this time he wasn‘t alone, not all by himself, not lying in his bed and not sheltered by the safety of the night. Theodore was with him and he was triggering this inevitable reaction, but still Michael was afraid of his own body. He wasn‘t used to just letting go, not to mention giving in to his own desire. A few years ago, Lincoln had jokingly said that Michael was too smart for sex. Maybe he was right.
With a rather uneasy sound Michael pulled himself up on his boyfriend‘s body, so that his weight was now resting on the older one‘s knees.
Theodore must have sensed what was going on inside of him. He let go of the second hickey he had wanted to place on Michael‘s shoulder and instead turned his attention to the sensitive patch of skin right below his ear.
Just now Michael was considering whether he should fight against his instincts or not, when his body made the decision for him. With a low moan, he squeezed his legs tightly against Theodore‘s hip from both sides, nestling his lap against the other‘s legs.
“It‘s fine, Pretty,“ Theodore assured him.
He gently ran his teeth over Michael‘s neck, back to the sweet spot and affirmingly hummed against his earlobe, slowly but surely letting him enjoy the touch of his hand that slowly slid down his torso. First, his fingers touched the small dent above Michael‘s navel, then found their desired way, which led them further down. Rough fingertips made Michael‘s abdominal muscles twitch and he sucked in a startled breath when Theodore opened his jeans without hesitation and stroked his hairless skin right above the low waistband of his underpants.
“I could help you a little, if you want to.“ His words were so full of promise. Hot want surged through Michael‘s body and the insides of this thighs felt almost uncomfortable warm against the fabric of Theodore‘s pants. The far too intense throbbing of his heart echoed through him, pulsing on his cheeks and in his crotch. His mind raced through his skull. All he wanted was relief and closer touches, but somewhere deep inside him, panic bubbled up like a small gray puddle at the bottom of his stomach.
“Oh god,“ the words made it past his lips. They sounded like a mixture of a sob and a high pitched sigh.
“I will make you feel good. Really.“
Michael believed him. He sure as hell believed him.
“I promise.“
Theodore‘s hand slipped past the hem of his boxers, touching his bare skin.
It was too much.
Oh God, it was too much.
The blistering anticipation and excitement that had set Michael‘s body on fire a few seconds earlier suddenly turned against him. His face burned as if he was having a fever, while bare cold fear was relentlessly flooding his intestines. The ground beneath him seemed to yield and cave in.
Trembling, his hands aimlessly searched for Theodore‘s arm and Michael realized he was barely in control of his body anymore. As if Michael Scofield had simply detached himself from his body, leaving him behind. Something was wrong. Wrong with him.
Stop, was what he wanted to say, but a sudden fit of severe nausea stole his voice away from him and he writhed. His forehead bumped against Theodore‘s collarbone and now he really felt like passing out at any moment. He couldn‘t even feel Theodore‘s hand between his legs anymore. Now he was groaning out of pure panic and true desperation.
“Just wait a little. It‘ll -“
“N-No!“ Michael managed to gag out the word under the expense of all his strength and yanked up his head to look at Theodore.
The spit in his mouth had become unbearably thick and doughy and just when his gaze met the other‘s dilated black pupils, he felt something that he could only describe with the following words: his brain melted and immediately reassembled its pieces. For one moment he forgot everything he had ever known, the only thing still familiar to him was the blackness framed by deep brown right in front of his eyes. Then everything came crashing back in on him.
“Th-Theodore, stop.. you need to..“, gasped Michael, not being able to hear his own weak voice, although Theodore had long since realized that something was off. Michael didn‘t catch any of this until a bright light exploded behind his eyeballs. For Theodore it looked as though Michael was just staring at him in utter shock but for Michael everything became so entirely clear. For a millisecond at most, Michael could apprehend his surroundings in all their forms and facets. He saw all the particles, the way they merged and assembled as a matter of course, things that just could not be explained to an outsider because he wouldn‘t have been able to put it into the right words. They had always been there but now he really understood what remained hidden from everyone else, but at the same time made him the genius that he was. He knew how the world really worked.
The feeling of Theodore‘s hands on his shoulders and of something strangely warm and wet on his lips and chin brought him back to reality without a warning. Back to a reality that, from this moment on, would remain only an incomplete part of his own reality.
A faint, pulsating headache was all that was left of the hellish seconds that had felt like an eternity to Michael.
“W-What..?“ He murmured, but didn‘t finish the sentence, when his vision came back into focus and Theodore‘s face was unveiled from the blur.
Despite what his boyfriend had been through in the last few hours, he now appeared much more battered. Immediately, Michael‘s brain, somehow even faster than usual, started to look for things he could say to calm Theodore, but said boy took the wind out of his sails.
“Michael, you..“ He didn‘t say exactly what he meant, he just gesticulated around his chin. His expression was still marked by fear, concern and perhaps even guilt. Irritated, Michael followed Theodore‘s gestures and tentatively touched his face. He flinched a little, when a warm liquid made his palm sticky and, shortly after, he saw a drop fall off his chin and land on his pants. He was having a nosebleed.
Still a bit out of step and overwhelmed, he silently watched as the stain of blood spread through the fabric of his jeans. He wiped off his nose with a sleeve before giving Theodore a questioning, almost fearful look.
“Oh God, Michael, don‘t even ask me what happened. I..I..“ He shook his head in despair and stroked Michael‘s shoulders apologetically.
“I thought you were just very nervous at first, y‘know? Because, well.. it‘s your first time making out and all that.“
He took a deep breath and Michael could hear the breath quivering in his lungs, before he continued talking.
“But then you almost kinda collapsed. Of course I didn‘t touch you anymore after that. I didn‘t-“
Michael interrupted him by wrapping his arms around him. However, his strength quickly left him and he could barely dig his fingers into Theodore‘s jacket.
“It‘s fine. I‘m already feeling much better.“
He knew that Theodore of course couldn‘t see his exhausted smile, but he hoped that he was able to guess it from the sound of his fragile voice. Although his condition was a little different from what he had just said, nosebleeds and headaches were no big deal compared to the feeling of being seperated from his own consciousness.
He could feel a creeping tiredness in his bones.
“Maybe we should go to the hospital, Michael,“ he heard the older boy say.
It was quite clear that Theodore didn‘t want to stress him any further, but there was an unmistakable urgency in his voice.
Michael, however, had gone from a state of intellectual enlightement to a comfortable dizziness, raising his head consequently slowly.
“No, it‘s okay.“ A little clumsy, he cupped his boyfriend‘s face with both hands and smiled. His arms tingled as if the nerves were benumbed and every inch of him was urging him to just lean into the other boy‘s body. It felt like some sort of emergency mode Michael‘s body had initiated to recover from the sudden strain and it also made him stop questioning his actions to some degree.
“Please.“ Theodore said and gently squeezed Michael‘s wrist to get his attention.
“It‘s not like it‘s your fault, Theodore,“ Michael replied, supporting himself on their hug.
“Well, kind of..“ The little kiss Michael placed on Theodore‘s forehead gave him enough courage to joke about their situation and he didn‘t even notice the bit of smeared blood Michael left above his eyebrow.
“Usually people don‘t collapse and get nosebleed while you‘re trying to uh.. get them off.“
Michael chuckled, hanging his head a little ashamed.
“Yeah, that usually doesn‘t happen.. sorry.“
Once again, he wiped blood off his chin.
“Maybe I was just too excited.“
Theodore‘s eyes rested on Michael for a while, but he didn‘t dare to answer. Maybe he was really putting some of the blame on himself.
Then he wrapped his arm around Michael‘s waist and gently pulled him across the dusty carpet until he was sitting right beside him, his back to the bare concrete wall.
“Is that a little more convenient?“
“Mh-hm,“ Michael nodded with a smile, snuggling up against Theodore‘s arm.
The hard wall behind him was cold, but when he thought of the things that had happened to him just a few moments ago, there was something reassuring about being able to lean against something solid.
“I‘m really sorry I scared you,“ he said softly, taking Theodore‘s hand into his own. The other boy‘s body was still noticeably tense, and he tried to take at least a small part of that alert away from him by carefully tracing his knuckles and gently squeezing them.
“Ever had anything like that before?“
Theodore didn‘t look at him as he spoke, instead he traced the movements of Michael‘s fingers with his eyes.
“I‘m not sure,“ the younger one answered. On the one hand, he was too exhausted to think, on the other hand it felt good to be actually able to think at all, ssomewhat clearly, better than usual. As if his body had gotten used to the state of completely collapsing in these few seconds.
“I think I got nosebleed more often in elementary school but other than that..“
He stopped speaking when, as soon as he had uttered the words, the memory appeared in front of his mind‘s eye as clear as a crystal.
His mother had picked him up from school that day. Back then she had had much more time for her two sons. When little Michael had told her about his nosebleed as he had gotten in the car, she almost had jumped a red light.
From that moment on, his mother, and later on Lincoln as well, had been very worried about him, but the next, seemingly causeless nosebleed had occured ten month later and with that the situation had relaxed.
After a moment of reflecting, Michael decided to withhold this part of his life from Theodore. He had already strained him more than enough over the course of the day. So he kept his memories to himself and simply rested his head on the other boy‘s shoulder.
Outside it was still raining heavily and he could see a few lumps of muddy earth being swept away over the garage‘s threshold by the rainwater.
“How much longer do you want to stay here?“ He murmured against the hood of his boyfriend‘s jacket.
“Dunno,“ Theodore replied. “You‘re the one who isn‘t feeling well. We can go anytime if you want.“
Michael shook his head. Of course it hadn‘t been enough that the had accidentally taken Lincoln‘s Gangsterrap CD with him this morning, he had also managed to leave his watch behind, which now was probably still sitting on his nightstand at home. As a consequence he had no idea how much time they had left until dark. Unless..
“Can you check the time on your phone?“
“Yup.“
Michael didn‘t look up, he just listened to Theodore rummaging in his jacket, feeling his body move skill even during such a trivial activity.
“Sorry, Pretty. Battery‘s empty.“
“That‘s okay.“
They would make it back home in time somehow. But now Michael wanted to make sure that their date wouldn‘t end on a completely unromantic note. He might not be willing to let things take a more intimate turn, but the slight drowsiness invited him to at least give in to the more innocent of his urges. He inched over the carpet, closer to Theodore until he could lean more than just his shoulder against his boyfriend‘s side and nuzzled his cheek with his nose to get his attention.
“Can we kiss one more time?“
The older one was visibly surprised when he turned around to face Michael.
“You still want to kiss and all? After..that?“
“Just kissing,“ Michael corrected and lowered his eyes with a tired smile. “Is that okay for you?“
Theodore moved away from the wall a little until he was squatting next to Michael‘s bent knees, being able to look at him directly.
“Of course it is, Pretty.“
Especially during the last few minutes, Theodore had proven his good intentions towards the younger one and Michael knew that he wasn‘t merely exploiting him or showing interest in him just because he was good-looking. Although Theodore really liked to emphasize this point.
He was interested in Michael‘s personality just as much as he was showing interest in his looks. He had even come up with the admittedly charming idea of leading Michael around in one of the old warehouses because he knew Michael was very much into architecture, engineering and other things within this subject area. But of course their visit to the old factory buildings wouldn‘t have gone by without Theodore getting his fair share. Michael was pretty sure that in all these empty halls there were certainly enough walls to cling to and practice kissing, even though they might not have been decorated with graffiti.
No matter how candid and selfless some of his acts towards Michael might seem, Theodore always made sure that in the end he too got what he wanted. Because Theodore wasn‘t quintessentially a good person. It was this little spark of selfishness that appealed so much to Michael, and now was glittering elatedly in his boyfriend‘s eyes as Theodore smoothly leaned forward, his forearm braced against the wall for support.
“And you‘re sure about this?“
It was obvious that the older one knew exactly that he had won this game long ago, but he questioned Michael rather on principle with that almost ironic, knowing tone in his voice. Just like he always did. It was part of his nature, part of his manners.
“Yes,“ Michael answered, knowing that he was rejoicing him by giving such a soft and timid answer.
Smiling, he closed his eyes and gathered the warm feeling of their kiss deep into his heart.

Theodore was so entirely different from him.
He was everything, Michael would never ever be and maybe that‘s why he was so deeply in love with him.

The dull exhaustion that had spread throughout his body made it much more easier for Michael to relax when Theodore leaned into the kiss and allowed the weight of his chest to rest on Michael‘s upper body.

Michael, whose, accordingly to his brother and his best friend, only concern was the well-being of others, and whose worst trait was at best a slight obstinacy, found a strange satisfaction in watching Theodore take what he wanted. Just like he did now.

With a soft sigh Michael opened his mouth a little for the other‘s tongue, that questioningly but at the same time suggestively brushed over his shapely lips.
Theodore knew perfectly that Michael would hardly start a french kiss on his own, but he also knew exactly how to tempt him into doing so. He knew how much Michael loved it when he tilted his head to one side during a kiss, moving gently against him, preparing him with slow touches. Michael‘s breath hitched as he opened himself to the new, slightly wet sensation, that was just as exciting as it was unfamiliar.
His heart fluttered intensely whenever their tongues touched and, to give himself a bit of security, he leaned his head back until his skull was supported by the wall. His new position allowed him to give in to all of Theodore‘s demands and soon he could feel disitnctly that he wasn‘t the only one who had to deal with a fiercely pounding heart.
The warme haze in his head kept his breath calm and his kisses got more and more devotedly with every second, and when he realized how consciously he could handle his boyfriend‘s passion, a deeply rooted warmth unfurled inside of him, so warm and full of emotion that he was sure he would be able to feel it deep inside of him for days.
Their breath mingled in a shallow exchange of air between their lips as Theodore reluctanly pulled away from and fondly brushed his fingertips over Michael‘s flushed and warm lips.
“Pretty?“
A smug smile appeared on Theodore‘s face as he realized how deeply the younger one had indulged in their togetherness. He called his name one more time and gently touched his cheek until Michael opened his heavy eyelids, a dreamy smile on his face.
“The rain‘s cleared up.“
“I thought you‘d be the last one to pay attention to the rain,“ Michael grinned, embracing Theodore‘s wrists in a gesture of affection before getting up. His flying jacket was still lying on the carpet next to them, right where Theodore had brushed it off his shoulders.
He picked it up and they got ready to leave.

Out on the poorly paved road that had taken them to factory site, the two boys realized that it was far later than they had assumed. By the time they reached town the sky had already gone entirely black. The rain returned as strong as ever, and the brakes on Theodore‘s old bike squeaked on the wet asphalt as he stopped at the corner of the street just a few steps away from Michael‘s apartement door.
Michael, unwilling to release his boyfriend from his embrace despite the rain, jumped off the saddle and, with a touch of curiosity, cast one last glance at the outdated screws holding the bike together. While doing so, he discovered a small inscription written on the edge of the light brown saddle. It had presumably been written with a red felt-tip pen. Though he couldn‘t say it exactly, the light emanating from the windows of the other apartments was to dim.
“For Teddy,“ Micheal read aloud, but when he realized his mistake it was already too late. He had promised not to bring that issue up again.
“Yup,“ Theodore said curtly.
“Can I call you that? As a nickame, you know. To make it more positive or something..?“ Michael asked in a desperate attempt to save the situation.
But when Theodore leaned his bike forward in Michael‘s direction and kissed him goodbye in the cheek, he was smiling and there wasn‘t a single hint of reproach in his eyes.
“Sorry, but maybe things can‘t always be the way you want them to be, Pretty.“
Michael remembered that Theodore had said something similiar in the afternoon and something about the way he said it, told Michael that his words weren‘t directed at him. He was indeed talking to himself. And that realisation made him feel incredibly sad all at once. The sentence felt like a remnant from Theodore‘s past, a past he refused to talk about.
He closed his hand around the bicycle‘s handlebar before Theodore could drive off and once more looked at him for a long time.

I love you, was what he had wanted to say, but when the sound of the bike‘s tires became faintly audible and when Theodore‘s silhouette disappeared around a corner, the words still hadn‘t left his lips.

When he had already climbed half of the stairs leading to his home, Michael remembered that he was soaking wet from the rain and that his clothes hadn‘t been spared a bit. Not to mention that he had been away from his family all day without even making a call or telling anyone.
When Michael unlocked the door of the apartment with sagging shoulders, he heard the first item break. But his mother hadn‘t dropped a glass out of anger like he had expected. The sounds were coming from Lincoln‘s room.
A few seconds later, it was clear beyond any doubt that they, once again, had gotten into a fight. This time, perhaps, one of Lincoln‘s old trophies from various sport events had bitten the dust. Michael fervently hoped that they weren‘t arguing about him or, to be more accurate, his absence. He left his muddy shoes at the front door and snuk up the stairs in socks as inconspicuously as possible. As he arrived in his room, Michael provisionally spread out his wet jacket over his windowsill, though he knew it wouldn‘t help much.
It was still better than having to deal with a disappointed Christina for days.
Then he quietly made his way to the bathroom.

His flip phone was lying on his nightstand, lonely and abandoned, right where he had left it in the morning. Before he went to bed, Michael turned on the small device.
The time it took the screen to switch from dark to light, he used to curl up in his dark blue blanket and to make himself comfortable on the pillow. He had just found the perfect position to fall asleep when a late text message arrived. Of course, it was beyond question who it was from.
Michael smiled happily while reading the message “Hey Michael. Sleep well, from T. Bagwell. ;)“ for the third time in a row. Theodore had deliberately written Michael instead of his nickname and somehow that only made him happier. Something between them had changed for good. The deep trust and warmth that Michael had felt especially during their last kiss was so completely different from the rapturous fluttering of his heart and the overwhelmed stuttering in his voice he had been used to. It almost felt like his crush had turned into something Michael would actually describe as love. Theodore and he had arrived on the same level. There was so much more behind his strong feelings for Theodore than just the chance of feeling less like the good boy who was supposed to be so much like his mother.
This realization awoke the all-encompassing warmth inside of him once more. It filled him to the core with a peculiar satisfaction. At the same time it made him forget that he had planned to tell Lincoln about his sudden nosebleed and the strange symptoms the next morning. Maybe he really had just been to excited, right?

Smiling, Michael placed his phone next to his pillow and just before he closed his eyes, it occured to him that maybe he was into bad boys after all.