Thinking back, Albert doesn’t remember any significance to the date. A dreary day, sky overcast with clouds; a storm was coming on, Walter told them. One of the few days the army wasn’t incessantly marching and Albert had to admit that he enjoyed the idleness in camp.
There wasn’t too much to do. He’d cooked his rations for the day, organized his pack of meager provisions and belongings, tried to steal Walter’s medicinal whiskey with Billy; the third attempt that week. They’d been so close this time with only a couple feet separating them and the bag before Walter had chased them off, threatening them good-naturedly with his musket.
Panting heavily after retreating to the outskirts of the camp in a full sprint, the boys allowed themselves to erupt in laughter. Albert stopped himself abruptly, glancing back in the direction of the regiment.
“Hold up,” He said, smacking Billy on the arm. “Where’s Jeff? I ain’t seen hide nor hair of him all day and it’s nearly sunset. You think something’s wrong?”
Billy shrugged in response, straightening his suspenders with a huff to begin strolling back. “Doubt it. Saw him not too long ago. He’s probably still hangin’ around his tent, lookin’ sorry for himself.”
“I might just see what’s got his duds in a twist.” Albert took off at a jog, picking his way through tents and soldiers. Jeff was just outside his tent, perched on a log, poking solemnly at a dwindling campfire with a stick. Albert pulled up a crate beside him, punching him playfully on the shoulder. Jeff startled, damn near hopping off his seat. He turned to Albert, eyes wide with surprise and almost fear.
“A-Albert. What’re you, uh, doin’ here? Did you need somethin’ ?”
The boy sighed, raising an eyebrow in suspicion. “I think I do. Want to tell me why you’re acting so weird-weirder than normal?”
“It’s not really meant for talkin’, you needn’t worry—”
“Jeffrey, c’mon.” He laid a hand on his knee, giving him a reassuring smile. “We’re possum buddies, remember? You can tell—”
“I think I’m in love with you and that scares me half to death.” Jeff’s words blurred together as he leaned in close to Albert’s face, breath hot against his cheek. “And now you know, guess that’s it.” He stood up, stepping into the tent behind them.
Albert followed him angrily, cornering him as he gesticulated wildly. “Jeepers Christmas, Jeffrey N. Davis, you don’t tell someone that and then leave! For God’s sake, ‘course I love you too, we’re close as peas in a pod.”
A smile spread across Jeff’s face as he fidgeted his jacket. “You really mean that? I understand if you’re just sayin’ that to be polite, I know a I’m a far cry from anyone you deserve, certainly—"
Groaning, Albert grabbed his lapels and pulled the taller man down to press a chaste kiss to his lips, effectively cutting him off.