“There you are.” Isaac slips through the gap in the metal fence and into the garden around the back of the Notre Dame. Jeff is sitting on the steps on the bandstand-style platform in the middle of the garden. He’s staring at the phone in his hand- he’d watch the battery die as it sat in his hands earlier. He hadn’t thought to bring his phone charger through a time portal. He doesn’t look up at Isaac’s call, only feels it, his presence, in his chest. Like the twang of a lonely guitar string, that breaks when plucked. “Jeff.”
Isaac stands above him. It had started to rain some time ago, and the wind picks up as the boy reaches him. He feels the shudder of Isaac’s body as he hugs his bear arms around himself. Jeff looks up.
“Hey.” He forces a smile and he doesn’t know why he even tried. It falls almost immediately. So does his head. “We’re stuck here forever.” He mumbles. “By the time we get back to 2019, we’ll be like, 54.”
Isaac looks at him.
“Yeah. I did the math, don’t be so surprised.”
“ Jeff . Ines and Lena know what they’re doing.”
Jeff laughs, “That’s why they pulled us through a portal with no explanation.”
“Jeff. They’re your friends-”
“How aren’t you bothered about this?” Jeff asks, and as he does so, he stands on the steps. He’s now slightly taller than Isaac, but the closeness takes him by surprise and he tries not to obviously draw a breath. Then Isaac takes a step back and he only wants him closer again.
“Why are you so bothered? You’re literally in one of your stupid movies.”
“But they’re movies .” Jeff hops down a step so that they’re closer again, “And they’re not stupid.”
Isaac just looks at him. So cooly, so calmly, with one eyebrow raised in the way that drives Jeff crazy. Lightly Jeff pushes at him, so that he is a little further away from him as he stands on the bottom step of the bandstand. But he doesn’t drop his hands from where they clutch Isaac’s wet t-shirt. He doesn’t want him to be far away.
They meet eyes in that moment. It takes everything that Jeff has in him not to kiss him. Falling, suddenly, weak, he drops his hands from Isaac’s chest.
“None of this makes sense.” Jeff says eventually, quietly, into the rain. He keeps thinking about it though, and it keeps making more and more sense. Even though he doesn’t want it to. It makes sense that Lena is from the past. It makes so much sense that it means this is all real. And that he is further from home than ever before.
“No!” Jeff steps off the final step of the bandstand, meeting and then breaking contact with Isaac’s eyes. He walks a few steps away, “Don’t talk to me.”
“ Jeff .”
He turns around sharply, “Saying my name over and over again isn’t going to change anything.” He puts something in the words that feels like tears but he swallows them away.
“What’s your problem?” Isaac asks.
Jeff could list so many. That’s one of the problems. But he knows that, more specifically, Isaac means what is his problem with him. And he doesn’t want to answer that.
“Nothing.” He says, and he begins to veer towards the edge of the garden, to the gap in the fence. “Let’s just find the girls.”
Isaac has never used his full name before and, if merely because he is startled, Jeff pauses and turns around again. It is so cold out. And so wet. The air is chill and the rain hits like ice (not literally. It’s not hailstones yet).
“Come on . One minute, you’re… dancing around me and laughing and the next it’s like you want to run a thousand miles away.”
“Ha. Try a thousand years away.” Jeff attempts the joke but Isaac looks so unamused that he wants to kiss a smile onto his mouth. He sighs. In that dramatic and pointed way he so often does. And then he meets Isaac’s eyes. Isaac is close to him again. God to run a thousand years away, right now. He swallows. “It’s just me, being stupid. Okay? I don’t… I just... I can’t stand to be around you.”
“Thanks.” Isaac retorts, sarcastically, but Jeff knows immediately that he’s hurt. Again. Jeff’s eyes widen.
“No! No no no no no.” he says hurriedly. “No, I don’t mean it like that.”
“Whatever.” Isaac says, “Let’s just get back to the others.” He walks off, passed Jeff.
“Wait. Isaac, wait!” He half shouts, suddenly. “I mean that I can’t stand to be around you because it’s hard for me.” The sentence doesn’t help. And Isaac keeps walking so he just has to shout louder, “Because I LIKE YOU! Okay?”
Isaac pauses and turns.
Jeff continues to ramble, “I like you like you. And it hurts to be around you because I just want… y’know, what I can’t have. And I always do this- fall for straight guys- and I’m sorry-”
He didn’t realise, during his short speech, that Isaac had hurried back over to him. He didn’t realise, until he is silenced by lips and hands are cupping his face.
Until Isaac has kissed him.
He is frozen for a moment. And his eyes are wide but when he realises this, he slams them shut. And his hands find themselves on Isaac’s waist. And he kisses back quickly.
It’s wetter than he imagined. Though, this is most likely because of the rain, that is so heavy now, that it is loud in the trees around them, and as droplets lash onto the bandstand. But it’s softer too, the kiss, not the rain. And he feels warm despite the weather and he never thought his mind would just shut down like this from a kiss. It’s just a kiss.
Although, it’s not just a kiss. It’s Isaac. Thoughtful, sweet, wonderful, beautiful Isaac. Who kissed him. Who he is kissing back. And it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Then Isaac pulls away, almost suddenly, before Jeff wants him to.
“Was that okay?” Isaac asks immediately, “I’m sorry I just… that’s what you meant, right?”
“Yes, you idiot, that’s what I meant.” Jeff answers, words like a sigh, as he reaches up and kisses him again.
Isaac obliges, kissing him quickly, once, then twice. Then he pulls away,
“This is crazy.”
Jeff frowns, “What do you mean?”
Isaac smiles, “Well we’re in 1983, and we’re in the rain outside the Notre Dame.”
Jeff smiles too. “And we’re kissing.” And he presses their lips together to prove the point.