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Round Trip

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It takes nine years for him to find Bobby.

It’s around five years after that for them to find Adam and an additional four years for them to get to the beach. Even then, it feels… incomplete, somehow. Like something’s missing.

It takes another two and a half-ish after that for them to find their fourth in Roddy and actually get to the beach and do it right.

The first time it had been cloudy but they had a good time. It was a memorable trip, the three of them clear of high school, his fears and doubts in the rear mirror now that he’d finally gotten together with Bobby. Like everything was finally okay, the puzzle nearly completed.

Bobby was sharp teeth and clammy, calloused hands, the brush of familiar facial hair he'd always been growing at some point or another. He was thick arms and roguish smiles, smaller, fainter ones that curved and warmed his cheeks. He was sharp sarcasm and barking, deep chested laughs, flippancy with glimmering eyes that flashed with every word that never escaped his throat. He was all sharp edges softened, full of a more physical kind of affection, everything words can express in a single touch, a single glance, a single embrace that sing symphonies and the sweetest of poems.  

Adam was everything Bobby didn’t necessarily fit into. He was full of contradictions. An older brother, a best friend, a know-it-all with a massive ego one second and a humble, passive force the next. Not quite all the teeth Bobby had, but all the uncontrollable wildfire of a temper that Bobby had the restraint to leash. Aggression and sarcasm and heat, teenage years of rebellion and an unmatched fearlessness.

Then they’d met Roddy and it all clicked into place. The final piece that seamlessly smoothed over Adam’s moods and ego with a compassionate understanding and cockiness of his own, that equally met all of his own enthusiasm and energy, all of Bobby’s sharpness and deceiving flippancy with a softer genuine edge. Their chaos, mix-matched issues and overlapping personalities that grit teeth and pounded headaches of irritation.

A breath of fresh air, cool water on a summer day. He stands uneasily, untrusting early on, like he’s a living earthquake about to shake out from underneath himself. He rides on cracking faith and hope, unsettlingly trusting at first, but balances easily with the three of them. They ground him, give him a touch of their unity, their little slice of life, family, teenage rebellion that he didn’t seem to have as firm of a hold on. And he gave him peace, a little calm to their perpetual sugar high, their energy. A rock to lean against. A partner to Adam and vise-versa, their relationship broken and repaired, better for it in the end.

Roddy was their fourth and it just made sense. It was little more than that simplicity of having him there with them. The second beach trip was to relive the older vacation, but also a chance to reflect. Where they were, where they’d come from, where they were going from here. A chance to be thankful, happy, together. The trip itself was little more than a disaster, very them in every way it mattered, but still a mess. Kyle doesn’t mind.

The beach is beautiful. It reminds him of his friends. Of Bobby.

He can see Adam in the sand that grits at his feet, rough and loose but clinging close to any stretch of skin it can reach, biting and ripping as the wind kicks it up. Yielding shells of all shapes, sizes, colors, little treasures with some effort, the brilliant structures of sandcastles that dot the land. The comfort in the softer dunes and the solid, hard packed sections by the water that catch and cradle the waves. Something solid and real under his touch.

He can see Roddy in the water, smoother and calmer farther away, home to the dolphins that cut through with their fins and chirp faintly in the distance. The roil and crash of the waves in their intensity, in their everything, the reflection of the light and age beyond human recollection in them. The familiarity and welcoming pattern of the tides, lulled by the moon and always returning to the land. The song in the crash and sway, home to many of all shapes and sizes, unforgiving and yet so compassionate, strong.

He can see Bobby in the sun.

There are lights in his eyes that dance, something Kyle could follow and trace with his own for an eternity. Sunspots decorate his skin, dawn tints the points of his ears, twilight sets his cheeks ablaze in something soft and bright. He's light itself, and warm, every touch is heated and almost-too-much, a drug that's sunk its hooks into his chest, a magnetizing pull of gravity that binds Kyle in the orbit that heats his skin and settles in his bones like an old friend.

A sunburn that just barely aches, enough to leave a lasting warmth and a soft sting but not enough to hurt. Enough to suffocate him over time, enough to have to clear his head and step away to clutch his rabbit heart and catch his breath. To have to shake the rapture that clouds his mind and clench his throat in an attempt to contain the heat and passion in his chest that wants to break free every time Bobby smiles at him, his laugh like a song that's stuck in his head, stuck in his heart, muscle memory under his fingertips.

Kyle isn’t entirely sure what that makes him, but he swears as bright as Bobby is, it doesn’t quite matter as much. He’s fine with his sun, his ocean, his beach, his family.

They are the beach, and the beach will always be theirs.