Armie and Timmy were step cousins once. Little Timmy used to follow Armie around like a puppy (he was 9 & Armie was 19) one summer on the Cayman Islands. Armie was the best looking and kindest teen, and his girlfriend was the only one who was annoyed by his thoughtful inclusion of a 9 year old in their hang outs. His friends are happy to let Timmy tag along…to the beach, the radio station that Armie’s parents owned, the jam sessions, the waterfall. In fact Armie seems preoccupied with the little boy…he teaches Timmy how to play the guitar, he makes sure he’s home by 9:30 - which frustrates his girlfriend no end…but since Armie is wondering about his own sexuality, he doesn’t mind having a young tag-along, preventing him from having to take the next step with Steph.
Timmy’s family are delighted that their little indoor kid (video games, tv and toys) is running around in the sunshine and sand and having the time of his life. Armie takes such good care of him, and Pauline makes friends wherever she goes too, so she is thriving with her new ballet friends. When the summer ends Timmy’s heart breaks saying goodbye to Armie. Armie holds him and hugs him, but when he’s crying hysterically Armie promises they will be pen pals.
Timmy’s parents are a little sceptical. What young man will take the time to write to a 9 year old? But Timmy settles in Armie’s arms on the sofa and looks hopeful through his tears. “You promise?”
“Cor cordium,” he swears, with a gently placed kiss on his forehead.
The first postcard from Timmy arrives after a week.
Armie’s reply takes exactly a week to return.
Timmy’s so excited he sticks it to the ceiling so it is the first thing he sees when he wakes, and the last thing before he sleeps. He admires the handwriting, the penmanship, Armie’s choice of postcard (it’s a giant turtle). He begs and pleads and finally his Mom relents and he gets a turtle called Urdle. He writes a long excited letter to Armie detailing Urdle’s shell, differences between turtles and tortoises, and in the next one, sends a photo of him holding Urdle.
Armie writes back querying why he didn’t name it Armie. Timmy is outraged- Armie’s joke isn’t funny. He writes back telling him why- Timmy’s adoration is quietly moving for a confused and slightly lost teen. Armie treasures those letters. When his family stop supporting him, when his girlfriends say he’s too childish….he’s just a risk taker., he’s not stupid- but sometimes it feels as if no one sees him. Timmy’s the only one who offers him unconditional love. He knows Timmy’s put him on a pedestal and it’s an illusion... but he loves kids - his music pupils are adorable- although their crushes are always obvious to him, he’s always kind.
The years go by and Timmy, always unfiltered and emotional, comes out as gay. The first people he tells are his family, then his friends, then his schoolmates. He never tells Armie , who has moved to LA, and is a famous model and musician now. Timmy knew he was gay when he fell in love with Armie and never found a female attractive. He had one girlfriend once, but the kissing wasn’t great. And Poppy wasn’t Armie. Timmy is obsessive by nature which hasn’t been great in his few relationships. He has trouble letting go.
They continue to exchange letters - mostly for birthdays and Christmas. Timmy becomes a writer and starts with plays. He’s poor but he’s found his calling. He will never be rich or famous but one day he will be renown and have a play on Broadway, he swears. He collects every article and campaign that Armie does. He’s his biggest fan. He fears a reunion - they never touch on it in their letters. He doesn’t want to disappoint Armie- he recalls Armie’s gentle hugs, complete acceptance. It inspires him to be kind to others on days when he feels like telling the universe to fuck off, because he’s getting off right here. Real life would never live up to his memories- suntinged and perfect.
Their unexpected reunion comes in Washington, on San Juan island. Timmy is on a young writer’s retreat (20 at 20). Armie on holiday with friends. It’s a beautiful summer evening and there’s a bonfire at the beach. As groups congregate and start to merge, Timmy (who makes friends with everybody) notices a new group arrive. They include the artist and sculptor whom he met when he hiked last week. They had been sitting on a beach collecting driftwood and shells. When he arrived , all hot and sweaty, they had offered him drinks and company. He heads over , a little buzzed by now, to make them welcome.
He does the bro handshake-hug with Tyler and Ashton. They introduce him to…6 foot 5 inches of his ultimate man. Dirty blonde hair, darker stubble, lean long legs, aquamarine eyes. He throws himself at Armie, on tiptoes, iron in his embrace.
“Armie,” he cries and promptly bursts into tears. Drunken tears and he is babbling. “I missed you so much! “ Armie looks bemused and bends down to help balance this chocolate haired whirlwind who almost toppled him.He has no idea who the kid is, and sends a laughing querying glance at Tyler.
Tyler tries to free Armie from the koala grip that Timmy has. But Timmy isn’t having it. He’s holding on like Armie is his lifeline.
“Urdle misses you too!” he declares.
Armie stops laughing. Pulls the kid off him forcefully and tips his chin up so they are eye to eye. Green eyes? Check.
Brown curls? Check.
Soft breathy New York accented voice? Check.
Timmy has grown. He’s long. Lean. His eyes expressive as ever, feel like home. He’s beautiful-that is a surprise. His body knows his beauty and is on fire. He exhales and the night grows warmer. He knows, he feels it in his bones. His soul knows. This is it for him.
Timmy is looking at him. As if he is the universe.
Timmy is looking at his mouth - his eyes, his mouth.
“Baby,” Armie murmurs. Pulling his face closer. He tilts his head, gently angles Timmy’s the other way. He is sober, Timmy is drunk. They will never have another first kiss.
They kiss. Timmy is all open mouth, inviting Armie to taste him. Armie devours, possesses. Pulls his hips closer so they are cock to cock. Spreads his own legs wider so they are chest to chest. His right arm hooks over Timmy’s shoulder and presses him to his torso. They barely breathe as they meet, body to body, tongue to tongue. Timmy is pliant in his arms until he tries to get his leg over Armie’s hips. Armie lifts him. Then he hears it. They wolf whistles, the cheers.
He starts laughing in the kiss and puts Timmy down. A very frustrated and pouty Timmy.
“Guys,” he declares, putting Timmy’s face between both hands. “This is Timothée Chalamet, the writer of “Plain edge river” and my best friend.”
Timmy blushes and brushes Armie’s chest with his forehead. Armie pulls him into his chest and places a kiss on his forehead. Timmy latches on to him. Barely notices the people he’s introduced to. Sits on Armie’s lap in the sand. Settles into soft breathing. Remembering Armie’s scent. Feels how much he has broadened. Tucks his head into his neck. Places soft kisses on Armie’s neck while the flames die down. Gently grazes his cheek against the stubble.
Armie is content like he has never felt. He has déjà vu. As if all his meanderings, shitty modelling jobs, unwelcome advances, being told he’s too tall for female models, too young, too blonde, too clean cut, just another wannabe musician- they have all led him here. To this island. To this beach. To his boy. His love.
He’s exactly where he is meant to be.
That summer was electric he recalls. They were both struck by inspiration. He wrote furiously, between the unbelievable sex, dawn and dusk at the beach. Timmy was productive too, writing short stories as well as the play that was part of the young playwright’s festival.
When Timmy returned to New York, Armie came with him. Based himself in NY and started making his own album. They constantly inspired one another, Timmy helping with lyrics and Armie reading Timmy’s work.
It was inevitable really.
They ended up writing together- a musical based on two young boys falling in love. One becomes a soldier, the other an academic and how they find each other before the academic dies from AIDS. Pieces of their relationship end up transcribed and translated in the play. They win a Tony.
Timmy stumbles through the door clutching his Tony. Armie has placed his on the console near their front door. Armie sits on the bed, arms open. Timmy rushes for his lap, nearly concussing him with the Tony, which Armie tries to release from his clenched grasp.
“No!” Timmy yells, staring into his eyes as if he’s a disobedient puppy. “We’re having a threesome with Tony tonight.”
Armie is charmed as always.
“You want to be fucked by Tony tonight, baby?” he mocks.
“Fuck you,” Timmy replies, with a glint in his eyes. As he starts licking the award. Really flicking his tongue around the top, tasting…with a passion and enthusiasm that Armie is extremely familiar with.
“You should have won the award for best blow job, baby.”
Timmy’s giggling now and as Armie tickles him, drops the Tony on the floor, narrowly missing Armie’s foot.
“Hey! Watch it you motherfucker!” he warns.
But Timmy falls off his lap on to the floor, exhausted, tipsy and gleeful.
Armie looks down at him from the bed. His gaze softening. He exhales and gentles his voice. Clenches his sweating fists. Their eyes meet and Timmy murmurs, “I know we promised to never say it, but…”
Armie cuts him off. “You don’t need to say it. I know baby. I know.” Staving off the words they promised they would never say, in a drunken challenge that first summer… playwright vs lyricist. Refusing to become that cliched stereotypical gay couple.
Timmy’s face looks pained. “You must know.”
Armie takes a deep breath.
“You undo me, you unravel me. Marry me and put me together again?” Armie recites his long practiced marriage proposal.
Timmy’s eyes grow , his mouth falls open. He gasps. He launches himself from the floor and starts jumping. “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!”
He whirls around the floor, spinning wildly. “A thousand lives yes! “
He stops suddenly,walks to the bed. Places his warm hands on Armie’s tears.
“Each body I inhabit. Every residence of my soul. It lives in you. My eternal beloved.”
This is their first kiss. Timmy is a little drunk, Armie is sober. They are engaged.