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Unexpected Places

Chapter Text

He climbed down the tree, falling with both feet firmly set on the floor. After a long time of practice, he could finally do so without getting hurt. He looked ahead, smiling when he set eyes on a shadow that moved toward him. What he felt was a slap to his hand, sand in his eyes and the scent of smashed berries invading his nostrils. Blinking hard, the boy got up, teary-eyed. He was six years old, with a fragile, slender body, brown hair which fell all the way to his shoulders, despite his mother's insistence that he let it be cut, and dark, inquiring eyes. The delicate features - even for a child - gave him slightly feminine looks.

"Come on, Gabriel!", shouted he, sitting on the floor and rubbing his eyes with his little hands. "I don't like it when you act like this!"

"It's not my fault if all it takes for you to fall is a touch", answered the other.

Gabriel was older, taller, better built and loads more arrogant than the other. He was twelve and, despite not always looking like it, the mission of his life and the only reason why he put up with the kindergarten teachers was to protect his smaller friend. In that moment, he had slapped the little hand to keep him from getting a caterpillar-burn from the insect that swayed through the berries the little one had held. The tiny animal lay stomped, drowned in a thick berry-sand sauce.

"You ruined the berries", explained the smaller one, pouting.

"You could have hurt yourself, Willy", retorted the older one, pitiful of his friend's naivety.

"I don't like it when you call me Willy, too."

"Oh, but where's the fun in calling you William? It is too serious a name for such a sweet child..." He smiled.

"I am a boy! Boys are not sweet!"

"Willy, you look like a little girl..."

"No, I don't!" He stood up, narrowing his eyes. "I told you I'm a boy!"

"Not my fault if you're cute", whispered Gabriel.

William folded his arms, childishly puffing his cheeks, and refused to look at his friend. Instead of reacting, Gabriel pushed the long strands away from the little one's eyes, caressing them in a distracted and gentle way.

"You know... It's ok, Willy. Whether you look like a girl or not..." He bended, kissing the puffed cheek and whispering on his ear. "... I will like you forever."