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“My mom is pissed,” I announced.
“What? Why?” Robbe questioned.  “It isn’t because you’re here, right?” he asked as I nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders.
“No.  Just…because… she would love to meet you.” I replied with a wry smile.
“Ok,” he replied definitively, also, with a smile.
“Do you want to come over tomorrow?” I proposed.
“Yes, that’s fine.” He nodded.
“I mean, you don’t have to.  It’s the first time I’m bringing a boy home.  So, if you think it’s embarrassing…”
“Embarrassing?” he interrupted me, smiling all the while.
“Sander, as long as you keep your clothes on, nothing is embarrassing anymore.” Robbe confirmed.  I bowed my head sheepishly.
“Ok, ok.  I will keep my clothes on tomorrow. Tonight?” I offered ever so slyly as Robbe smiled, placed his hand on my shoulder, and came closer for a kiss.
“That’s allowed,” he offered eyes wide with possibility. Then, he kissed me deeply.
“You know, it might sound cliché, but, you never know who lives or dies tomorrow. The only thing we can really be sure of…” he trailed off as Jana grabbed his shoulders from behind and pulled him on to the dance floor.
“What?” I followed him shouting over the music.
“That we live now.” He confirmed smiling uncontrollably and pulling me with him into the crowd.  He reached his hands to the back of my head and I let him pull me to his lips.  He boxed his arms resting on my shoulders and held me close as we danced and kissed. The electricity bouncing between our bodies tonight felt nearly lost just a few days ago as I floundered despondently. This boy saved me and for the first time in a long time, hope burned brightly inside me. 

We danced and laughed and celebrated life into the night until our guests started sacking out in the living room or heading for their own homes. A tired Robbe yawned his way to the door saying farewell to Jana, Amber, and Aaron. I hung back and waved them off. Robbe latched and locked the door, then, sleepily stumbled back to me. I held him in my arms as he rested his head on my shoulder. 
“Ready for bed?” I asked. I felt his head nodding affirmatively against my chest. I bent to kiss his head and we slipped inside the solace of his room. He pulled his shirt off and stepped out of his shoes and pants leaving everything heaped on the floor. I followed and we climbed into bed. The whole week, he supported me, held me, loved me. I wanted to give back to him. 

Snaking my arms around his shoulders, I hugged his back to my front. Within seconds, I felt him slip into a deep sleep with rhythmic, measured breaths. Of course he’s exhausted. The whole time I rested this week, he watched, worried, and kept the world turning. I couldn’t be here without him. I lay there wondering about how I could make it up to him. Thinking too much still made me feel very anxious. I stopped myself from getting worked up as Robbe sighed in my arms. I kissed his ear and down his neck eventually just rubbing my lips across his skin and inhaling deeply.  His scent comforted me beyond measure. I closed my eyes and breathed him with my every breath.

Later today, I would bring him to my home and to meet my mother. There would be plenty of time to be nervous then. Right now, I want to savor my boyfriend. I fell asleep with the greatest feeling of gratitude.

I awoke to sunlight streaming in the window and shuffling noises in the hallway. Unwrapping myself from a still slumbering Robbe, I moved with stealth. I pulled my shirt from the heap and lightly, made my way across the floor. I latched the door quietly behind me seeing Jens fumbling with his shoes.
“Morning,” I whispered.
“Hey,” he replied. “Robbe up yet?”
“No. Still sleeping. I was going to make coffee and bring it to him. It’s a big day...” Jens looked at me quizzically. “I’m taking Robbe to my home and to meet my mother.”
“Whoa. Success,” he said, still whispering.
“Headache?” I questioned. He simply nodded his head.
“You want some water?” He eased his head from side-to-side in a “no.”
“Just tell Robbe you saw me leave and I’ll text him later.”
“Of course. Get home safely.” We wrapped arms and grabbed each other’s right hands pulling into a hug. He unlocked the door and closed it gently behind him. I flipped the lock and padded off to the kitchen.
“Good morning, Sander,” Milan greeted.
“Good morning, Milan,” I replied. “May I help with coffee? I wanted to bring some to Robbe. He’s still sleeping.”
“Sure. Grab three cups from over there,” he pointed to a cabinet. We bantered about the well-received party and the smattering of guests rising and departing in sequence.
“He likes his coffee with sugar,” he reminded me. I nodded and he dropped a couple cubes in with one hand and stirred with the spoon in the other.
I balanced both hot cups in my hand as I opened the bedroom door. I put both cups down on the table next to Robbe before I bent down and nuzzled his neck. As he stirred, he reached up and tousled my hair. He held my face and looked deeply into my eyes.
“How long have I been sleeping?”
“Only all night, my sweet.” I responded. “I brought you some coffee to wake up.
“Thank you,” he said rolling over and sliding up in bed to receive the cup and take a sip. I grabbed my cup and climbed over him assuming my previous position on the other side of the bed.
“Jens just left. He said he’d text you later,” I sipped.
“Ok. Are there a lot of people still here?” Robbe asked.
“I saw several bodies but didn’t stop to look who. Milan is awake in the kitchen.” I gestured with my coffee cup.
Robbe rested his head on my shoulder and I rested my head on his head. We finished our coffee and agreed to get out of bed and start the day. He led me to the bathroom and we began with a couples’ shower. I held him tightly and, mostly chastely, while the warm water poured down over us. We dressed and left the house with some fruit to eat.

We hopped on our bicycles and I led the way pedaling leisurely to my part of town. I secured mine and Robbe’s bikes before we went upstairs.
“Hello?” I called as we opened the door and came through.
“Sander?” Mama replied.
“Yes, it’s me. And, Robbe.” I led the way hanging up my jacket and walking into the lounge. My mother met us there and embraced me tightly for a long time.
“I missed you. I’m glad you’re here.” She whispered. Before she let go, she held my face and stared into my eyes. Robbe hung back and waited without saying anything.
“You must be Robbe,” she said extending her hand for him to shake and then, pulling him into an embrace as long as ours. When she pulled back, she kissed him on each cheek and thanked him for taking good care of me.
“My son looks so happy,” she said turning for me to see tears in her eyes.
“I am, Mama. Robbe makes me happy.”
Robbe and I stood on opposite sides of her, both beaming, with our hands in our pockets.
“Are you hungry? I made sandwiches. Let’s eat lunch,” she suggested and walked off toward the kitchen. Robbe leaned in to kiss me quickly and followed her.

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We ate and talked for a long time, my mother jumping up and down and smiling most of the time. She wanted to make sure she didn’t forget anything.
“Mama, sit. We want for nothing. You’ve outdone yourself,” I chided.
I squeezed Robbe’s leg under the table and shared a glance with him before she sat back down.
“It’s going well,” he whispered assuredly. My hand lingered and he grabbed it in his resting in his lap.
We talked about how we first met on autumn break during our trip to the sea. I talked about how Robbe inspires me creatively and explained how much I’ve drawn since meeting him.
“Because of him, I can illustrate my feelings on a canvas. And, my canvas can be anything. I draw him or us most of the time. But, before the end of school, I excelled in my assignments, too, because the art just flowed through me. It’s such a beautiful time,” I mused. Mama laughed and smiled at my bliss.
“I’m the lucky one,” Robbe confirmed squeezing my hand and looking deeply into my eyes.
We finished the meal, not able to eat one more bite. Robbe rose and walked into the lounge, stretching at the window. I came up behind him and put my arms around his neck. He leaned into me and I pointed out some landmarks from our view of Antwerp.
“Why don’t you show Robbe your room?” Mama called from the kitchen.
We meandered down the hall and into my room. I hung back as Robbe took it all in. He could see, since the trip to the sea, he’d been a subject and an inspiration of my art. I straightened a few things and put away some folded laundry on my bed.
“You draw me so beautifully,” he praised looking at a portrait not quite finished.
“You don’t find it too much?” I asked.
“No, it’s tremendous. You’re so talented. The images are so lifelike. I could walk right off the page,” he suggested.
“I want to draw you all the time. Every time I look at you, I’m trying to capture the perfect image. I just keep trying,” I admitted.
He looked around at some of the other things in my room; posters, music collection, and my art supplies, while I stashed a few things in my bag.

We returned to the lounge and sat on the sofa as my mom took her place in a chair. Robbe talked a little bit about his family and explained the tension with his dad, worry about his mother, and elation she’d be home in time for holiday celebrations this week.
“Sander, I’d like you home this week, as well. Monday afternoon at the latest. We need to finalize gifts and spend time with family. Robbe, you are welcome to join us,” she included.
“Thank you. I’m not sure what my schedule will look like. I think my mom is coming home Monday afternoon. I’ll be with her but, I’ll let Sander know.” He shot an affirmative nod my way.

Robbe and I started to wind up the conversation and prepared to leave.
“Which way is the toilet?” He asked me quietly and I pointed out the door down the hall.
“I’m sending a few things back with you,” mom announced and brought a bag from the kitchen. “I like Robbe very much, Sander. You chose someone who really cares for you. He’s strong, but may experience his own struggle with family very soon. Remember to give him space to work that out.” She coached me.
“His strength is unmatched in anyone I know. I want to be healthy so I can support him when he needs it,” I confirmed. She enveloped me in a hug as only a mother can. Robbe returned from the bathroom and she pulled him into our hug, too. He seemed relaxed and willing, not at all standoffish. I couldn’t expect a better experience.

I beamed all the way back to Robbe’s place and his face was happy, too. We secured our bikes and went inside. Robbe put the food from mom in the refrigerator. It was afternoon now and the house quiet. All the guests from the party left. Milan and Zoe left a note they’d gone shopping. With support from the kitchen bench tops, I leaned my body against Robbe’s and waited for him to embrace me. He did so immediately.
“Thank you for a great day,” I said into his shoulder.
“Your mother loves you so much. I know, because I sense in her the same I feel,” Robbe declared holding me firmly. I raised my face to kiss him and very quickly we commenced a head spinning kiss with depth and commitment.
“Ik hou van jou,” he said when we separated for breath. I rested my forehead against his and then brought his hand to my lips and kissed it.

We walked down the hall of the quiet apartment and shut ourselves inside the safety of Robbe’s room. I sat down on the bed to unlace my boots and he stepped out of his shoes then, knelt behind me on the bed resting his body on mine. He stroked his hands up and down my arms and lightly kissed the back of my neck. He pulled me up to the top of the bed and invited me to lay next to him. We held each other for a long time. There was no occasion to rush. I slid my hands under his shirt feeling the incredible warmth of his skin. He eased me on to my back, scrunched my t-shirt up exposing my belly and kissed a roadmap all over me pausing, every now and then, to check my expression and, I think, wait for me to stop him. I didn’t want to stop him. I never wanted this feeling to end. No alcohol intoxicates like how I feel when I’m with him.

Robbe straddled me and with gentle ease kissed all my cares away. Nothing remained in my mind other than him. He stretched his body out on top of mine and I welcomed the security of feeling his weight on me. He caressed my skin while his lips found mine, heightening all my senses.
“I don’t ever want to lose what I feel for you right now,” I told him. He smiled.
“Me either,” he replied, eyes closed.
“Make love with me,” I invited. His eyes popped open with great concern.
“I don’t want to push you,” he said. “Being here with you is more than enough for me.”
“I want you,” I confirmed. It was the first time since the hotel. I grabbed some condoms from my room and put them in my pocket.
We removed each other’s shirts and I unclasped Robbe’s belt and pants. I heard his breath hasten and I steadied myself to keep the deliberate pace in check. He moved to slide out of his pants and trousers. He squirmed out of the way while he turned down the bed under him and I removed my own pants and trousers. I wanted to be as close to him as possible, and my favorite position is between his legs so I can look at him and see his pleasure.

We touched each other with the lightness of a feather. I can’t appreciate his body enough. I love tracing the outlines of his muscles. His long, lean body coiled around me.
“Come back to me,” he urged. “I’ve missed you. Love me from the inside out.”
He owns me. I’d do anything for him in this moment and beyond. He told me before I touched him and he never felt anything like it. I’d spend the next few hours trying to convey what he does for me. I ripped open the condom, with my teeth and soon after rolling it in place, melted into him.

Chapter Text

We fell asleep until the late afternoon. I felt Robbe moving next to me before I opened my eyes. When I finally did, he was texting on his phone. I kissed his head and he turned his face right to me for more. We rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen for something to drink. I could hear Zoe and Milan in her room talking about her boy troubles. We settled on the couch and played video games until Milan came in and talked with us about dinner. He and Zoe picked up some things at the market earlier and invited us all to cook and eat together.

We spent the night preparing food, eating food, cleaning up after the food. We stayed in the living room talking, playing games, and having fun. The roommates mentioned how much they will miss Robbe when he returns to live with his mom. We even shared the experience of meeting my mom today.
“Whoa! Big step,” they teased.
Later, when Milan and I met in the kitchen, he told me how happy he was that Robbe and me found our way back to each other.
“He’s really coming out of his shell because of you, Sander.” Milan shared. “I hope you know how important your love is for him to find his authentic self.”
“His love is as important for me.” He smiled at me and we returned to the group. We sat close enough to touch the whole night, deliberately and, at times, without intention.

When we decided to go to bed, it wasn’t for exhaustion. I missed being able to touch him wherever I wanted. He suppressed the same desires because when we got inside his room, he locked the door behind him and then tackled me on to the bed. He kissed me all over and grinded his hips into mine. I ripped his shirt off over his head and flipped him on to his back to pull his pants off.

Our eyes met and all the breath left my chest. In that moment, we were the closest we’ve ever been. Both strong, and both hopelessly in love. I used my hands and mouth to explore Robbe’s body and found my way to his excited groin. I peppered him with kisses before taking him in my mouth. I stroked him gently and savored every pass. With no need to rush, I lingered in my pursuit and wandered over his whole body with my deft hands. His soft, cautious moans grew louder and more guttural as his body writhed and bucked under me. With increasing fervor, I kept working him over. I brought him to climax twice and never considered an alternative to swallowing his sweet release. At some point, I crossed the line from pleasuring him to fulfilling my own need to consume him.

I held his heaving, fragile body.
“I can’t find words to describe my emotional state. I need to be with you. It really scares me but, I feel so fortunate at the same time. I can’t do anything else right now. I’m totally spent,” he pleaded.
“It’s ok. Let me be here for you. I feel this amazing connection, too. I can hardly believe how real it is.” I assured him.

He slept hard in my arms and wouldn’t let go of his tight grasp on me. If he was falling, he would drag me with him. When he wasn’t breaking my fall, I’d break his. When morning came, Robbe woke me with coffee.

“I want to spend our last full day together. After we shower, let’s go to the Christmas Market. We can look around. I’ll see if there’s anything else to buy for my mother. I think I want to get something for your mom, too. We can eat, and laugh, and be in love at Christmastime,” Robbe announced.
“Yes. 100%.” I accepted.

We started the steamy water and stepped in together. We kissed way too long and used far too much water. Washing each other, we lingered and played.
“Every day, I can’t get enough of you,” I relented.

We rode our bicycles and competed for space to park them. Just as I hoped, the market teemed with crowds and we could easily meander through, holding each other’s hands, without anyone threatening us. With lingering looks and gentle caresses, I stroked his face and his back, forgetting myself in our environment. I noticed a few dissenting glances but carried on quickly turning my attention back to more important matters. I stood amongst the crowd confident no one would jump us here.

The delicious food smells intoxicated us until we could last no longer without trying something. We chose hot chocolates and shared a fruited waffle and other indulgences. Delightful. And, even better because of the company.

With sore feet and full hearts, we returned home. Robbe and Zoe played video games and I grabbed my sketch pad to record some of the greatest moments I lived this weekend. I drew the dining room table in my home with mom, me, and Robbe sitting around talking. I sketched images of Robbe and I making love. I started a scene at Groenplaats from earlier in the day. As low as I felt just two weeks ago, I never imagined this happiness. The mania driving me before then couldn’t compare to the love and joy beaming from inside me right now.

Chapter Text

We went to bed around 22:30. Milan and Zoe wished me happy holidays with my family. I look forward to a happy time, especially now with my mind straight and Robbe in my life. Although, we couldn’t predict when we’d find time to see each other over the next few weeks until life became more normal in January.

No other place in the world made me feel safer or more comfortable than Robbe’s room. After closing the door behind him, he turned and wrapped his arms around me, his front to my back. He rested his head on my shoulder blade and we stood there for a long time, the calm before the uncertainty of the next few weeks.

He slipped his hands under my t-shirt and let them roam across my stomach. We both loved the feel of each other’s skin whenever we could touch. He tightened his hold around me and I reached behind me to stroke any part of him I could reach. He pulled away for a minute and took his shirt off. Then, he pulled my open zip sweat shirt off before shrugging my shirt over my head. With the clothes on the floor, he clung to me again. Not in desperation, but in two halves finding their whole.

I spun around in his arms and embraced him in a proper hug. With our last few hours before us, we didn’t rush.
“We’re going to be ok,” I whispered.
“I know. I’m just going to miss you so much,” he whispered back.
I pulled him closer and ran my fingers through his hair. He placed feathery kisses on my collarbone. At times, we inhaled deeply appreciating each other’s scents.
“This bond we feel right now, is strong enough to get us through anything. I’m really glad my mom is coming home and I want to spend time with her, but not being with you is starting to ache inside me,” he explained.
“We’ll have plenty to keep us busy. But, the ache inside will just be a reminder of how much we want to be together. How sweet each reunion feels. That won’t change.” I reassured. “Just like you fixed me over these last few months, you need to be with your family to try to fix them,” I continued.
“No, no, no,” he protested. “I don’t fix anything. I didn’t fix you. I just supported you and tried to keep you safe and before I knew it, love grew inside me.”
“And you will be there to keep your family safe and bring support to them when they really need you. This is an important time. Don’t worry about me. I’ll have love and support from my family, too.” By this time, he looked up at me and I stroked his face. His innocent, kind eyes staring through mine. My thumb went to his chin, I licked my lips, closed my eyes, and I kissed him.

Kissing Robbe made me feel like I never kissed anyone before. Since after the first time in the pool, he’s never been hesitant. The physical nature of our relationship feeds both of us. It feels good, but it makes us more connected and helps us communicate better. I never wonder how he feels, I always know. There is love between us because I feel it. I don’t need him to say it all the time. I can only imagine how much stronger we will be when I learn his body, and he learns mine, like we know our own. The times we are alone are so much more about strengthening our connection and pleasing each other than self satisfying.

Our kissing delved more deeply and while I held him, I felt him pull his arms in and open my pants. He pushed them down around my hips and squeezed my buttocks. The way he touched me sent chills up my spine. He left one hand there and slipped the other inside my pants. He brushed my penis but reached to massage my balls. I stopped kissing him and just held him tightly as my breath hastened and my knees weakened. His touch, so gentle but with purpose, only helped my arousal grow.
“Hold on to me,” he encouraged as his supportive arm left my back and moved inside my pants as well. Pushing my pants to my knees, both of his hands pleasured me; one hand massaging and the other stroking. He caught me off guard with such a pleasant surprise. Whether it was a desire to please him or because I felt so close to him, I couldn’t control my response and after a few minutes, I came in his hand. With that, he held me in his arms again, otherwise, I might have fallen, and continued stroking me with his damp, sticky hand. He looked at me so sweetly and I couldn’t help but devour his face.

We shuffled backward to the bed and I sat on the edge. He wiped his hand with a tissue and sat down while I removed my boots and dropped my pants on the floor. He stood in front of me and I opened and removed his pants. I thought about the time at the pool when he was reluctant to be naked with me. He’s so much more comfortable now.

I leaned forward and took him into my mouth. Altogether flaccid, I enjoyed causing his growth as he stroked and clutched my hair and body. He hardened while I worked but I wanted to save his release. I invited him on top of me as I laid down. He straddled me and I continued stroking his cock while we watched one another.
“Sander, please,” he uttered after some time. “Either let me come or let me feel you inside me. I can’t take this.”
“Shh,” I said sitting up to hold and kiss him. I nosed my way under his arms and kissed all over his chest. My lips found his nipples and sucked and bit him gently until I felt content. I laid him down and started kissing from his feet up his legs and to his groin. His breath heavy and his patience short, he signed a lot and groaned out of frustration. I loved how he responded to me.

I nipped my way up his legs and he spread his knees wide making room for me. That was my place. No one else pass here. I settled between his legs and concentrated on keeping him firm. Then, I found the most amazing little place. Kissing his inner thighs, I stopped and lingered where his leg met his body. Paying attention to that little spot brought him, and me, so much delight. He moaned and writhed beneath me. Robbe reached for me but I kept his hands away. I took him back in my mouth and massaged and tickled those little crevices.

Once he hardened, I drew up to my knees and leaned over to kiss him.
“Feeling good?” I asked.
“You are making me crazy,” he replied through gritted teeth. I leaned down to his ear and tugged on it before saying, “Tell me what you want.” He wrapped his arms and legs around my body and held me so tightly I couldn’t move.
“I want to feel you inside me. Push my knees open and back so you can slide in.”
I kissed his neck as my body shuddered from his words. I grabbed a condom and lube from the table and sat back getting ready. I put the condom wrapper in Robbe’s mouth and let him tear it open for me. I let my hand run all over his body while I rolled it on, then squeezed and spread the lube. I folded his legs back, as he asked, and moved forward so his buttocks rested on my knees. I spread the lube remaining on my fingers around his ass. I maneuvered my way toward him and started to push slowly inside. He held my forearms to temper the pace. I pushed all the way inside and coached him to relax the whole time. Once in, I collapsed on top of him and just held him as I felt so tight and connected inside him. Robbe settled and held on to me while we kissed. I felt him relax so I started moving my hips very slowly. Sometimes, in circles. Mostly back and forth. He moaned and writhed again, in pure pleasure.

During a faster pace, I pulled out and before he could look disappointed, pulled him up and positioned him on his knees in front of me facing away. I grabbed his hips and plunged into him faster this time. I wrapped my arms around his torso and pulled him upright and back against me. I scooped my hips to fit him and with every slapping thrust, I felt him tighten against me. He held my thighs pulling me closer to him. He reached back, twisting his head to kiss me. For the first time, we were raw and hungry and had no thoughts except for each other. I took his cock in my hand and stroked it as I thrust into him. Shortly, Robbe shook in my arms and cried out as he came, hard, in my hand and on his body. He collapsed back against my chest and I held him securely, kissing and soothing him.
“I’m going to fall over,” he warned. I lowered us on to the bed. “Don’t pull out yet,” he said as we went. It took some doing but I kept us connected while we rested on the pillow. He went limp in my arms and let me hold him. After a little while, he squirmed a bit.
“Ready?” I asked. He just nodded affirmatively. I pulled the condom off and left it on the floor before he turned in my arms to face me. He kissed me with deep love and appreciation.
“You make my body feel like nothing I’ve ever known. You always leave me wanting more. And, I can’t ever imagine being with anyone else. I want everything I know to come from you. I want to be good enough to make you feel the way I do when we’re together,” he confessed. I wasn’t expecting all that and had no words when he finished. I fell into him and let the tears run as we snuggled.
“Ik hou van jou,” he whispered in my ear. We cuddled, and kissed, and petted all over for so long I heard the church bells, distantly outside, count off more than one hour.
We fell asleep hard and woke up, still in each other’s arms when Robbe’s alarm went off several hours later as the sun came up.

Chapter Text

I started kissing at his forehead and worked my way across his face, down his neck, to his chest and belly. Once I began, I didn’t wish to stop. Memorizing every centimeter of his body was an imperative action to sustain me until we reunited. Robbe ran his hands through my hair and across my skin. I saved the memory of every touch.
We lay in bed for a long time until we couldn’t avoid getting up any longer. I untangled myself from Robbe and started dressing.
“Don’t you want to take a shower?” he proposed.
“No. I want to keep you with me today,” I replied.
He just smiled as he stepped into his clothes. We went to the kitchen for some coffee and toast.
“No croissants today. Sorry,” he offered.
“There will be plenty of time for croissants other days,” I reassured.
Once we finished, I returned to his room and packed up my things. While doing so, I realized how much freedom we enjoyed while Robbe lived with these roommates. There is little privacy at my place with my mother. I assume it will be the same with Robbe’s mother. Suddenly, sadness washed over me. I sat on the edge of the bed, head in hands.
“What’s wrong,” Robbe said as he came into the room.
“I’m just realizing how much freedom we enjoy here. It’s not the same if we live with our parents. I don’t know that we could have a night like last night with mother just down the hall.” I explained.
“True. I didn’t consider that. I just focused on having my mom home and putting our family together. We’ll find a way to spend time alone,” he said crouching in front of me trying to lift my head and spirits simultaneously.
We put our jackets on and prepared to leave.
“Aren’t you taking anything with you from here?” I asked.
“I’ll come back and get it once mother settles in at home,” he confirmed.
We proceeded outside and unlocked our bikes. He rode all the way home next to me. I secured my bicycle to go inside but, I stood at the door watching Robbe ride off toward his home until he drifted out of view. I went inside and dropped my bag in the lounge before collapsing on the sofa.
“Welcome home,” mom called from the kitchen. She came to me offering some tea. I nodded acceptance and she set it down on the table next to me. Just two days before, Robbe sat next to me on this sofa. I left enough room as if he sat there today. She rested in her chair to my side.
“I really like Robbe,” she said, sipping her tea.
“Me too. I love him, mama.” I confessed.
“I can see that. And, I see it’s mutual. I’m very glad you found such a good partner,” she stated smiling. “Did he go home to his mother?”
“Yes, I’ll wait all day for an update on how it’s going,” I said.
“We have some things to do to get ready for the holidays. Will you help me?” she queried.
“Anything to help you and to keep my mind off Robbe,” I agreed.
“Wonderful. We must go to the market to collect some things for dinner. I’ll make a list and we can leave shortly. Why don’t you move your bag to your room,” she suggested.
“Ok, I’ll be in there until you’re ready to leave,” I confirmed.
I padded off to my room, bag in one hand and tea in the other. When I opened the door, I saw mother restocked my art supplies. An easel stood by the window with a sketch pad, lots of pencils, and various other accessories. I stood for a moment appreciating the spread before returning to the lounge and hugging my mother, still seated in her chair, from behind.
“Thank you for all of the art supplies,” I hugged her tightly.
“Happy Christmas, son. I’m overjoyed to see you healthy and happy,” she said in a broken voice.
We spent the afternoon in the village stopping in various shops picking up all the items on her list and mingling with faces, familiar and foreign. She kept me busy but Robbe was never far from my mind. I hoped all was going well with the reunion at his home.

Chapter Text

Mother made sandwiches for dinner. Just a light meal in preparation for all the indulgences over the next few days. Dad arrived home late from work, holiday celebrations with his professional crowd. Mom said dad handled all the information she gave him about seeing me and meeting Robbe over the last few days without trouble. Still, I felt hesitant when he came to my door.
“Hello, son,” he said with a smile.
“Hi.” I said rising to meet him. I extended a hand but he took it and pulled me into an unexpected embrace. He held me tightly, maybe trying to find the right words.
“You look well. I know it seems like I leave your mother to provide all the support when you have your...difficulties. That’s not true. We are a team when it comes to this family. I give her my full support. She’s just better at the day-to-day with you. I feel responsible for bringing this illness into our family. I don’t always know what to say. But, know that I love you without condition.”
I know talking about mental illness is very difficult for my dad. He lives with many scars considering his sister fought severe depression for only a few years, but was severely affected by it and never could find a way to live with it. In her late twenties, she went to sleep and never woke up due to a lethal mix of medications and alcohol.
“I don’t want to be like Leni, Dad. I want to be successful in my life. I have a lot to live for. Sometimes, I just have trouble managing. I feel really good right now. Balanced. Safe. Happy. I’m taking the medication and I’m seeing the doctor,” I reassured.
“That’s good, son. We are so happy to see you happy. I understand a big part of your happiness is your new friend, Robbe,” he said.
“Dad, you know he’s not just my friend. He’s my boyfriend,” I reiterated.
“Yes. I’m sorry. I feel awkward with that term. Especially when, just a few weeks ago, we still included Britt as your girlfriend,” he explained.
“It may seem like I switched loves very quickly,” I started. “But, the moment I met Robbe, I knew he was different. I knew he is the one. Mom may have already explained. Robbe felt the same reaction right away. We flirted with each other for weeks before anything really happened and we were both with other people. I wanted him but he didn’t seem ready for something with another guy. It took us a long time to get comfortable with each other and I really started spiraling about the same time. I kept Britt close because I knew she would help me. I didn’t want to tell Robbe about the bipolar considering he was deciding if he could be out to be with me. What I did to her wasn’t fair, but she didn’t always support me in the healthiest way either. We’re all trying to find a way forward. I’m working hard to stay healthy.”
He smiled and wiped a tear from his cheek. My phone started ringing. I didn’t need to look to know Robbe wanted to talk to me. I gestured toward the waiting call.
“Go ahead and take your call. I’ll see you later,” he offered and closed the door behind him.
“Helloooo,” I answered.
“Hi, Sander. How are you?” Robbe asked.
“I’ve had a good day. I’m doing well. But, you’re never far from my mind,” I replied.
“I miss you, too. I’ve had a long day with my mom. She’s very fragile,” he explained.
“What do you mean?” I asked with concern.
“She broke down a few times. I met her at home and my aunt accompanied her from the hospital. As soon as she saw our apartment, she started crying. We sat with her, reassuring her most of the afternoon. My aunt made a light supper and made sure she took her medicine before seeing her to bed a short time ago,” he recounted.
“I’m sorry it didn’t go better. I know you were so hopeful,” I responded.
“I don’t know if she’s going to make it,” Robbe suggested.
“Don’t think like that. Every day is a new opportunity for her to be successful. Remember, minute by minute. Right?”
“Touché, Sander,” he laughed.
“There’s no way she can’t strengthen with you loving and supporting her. I know firsthand how powerful you can be,” I admitted. “Where are you now?”
“My aunt sent me home. I’m going to sleep in my room and go back in the morning. I may not move back in right away. I’ll have to see how it goes. She actually has an appointment with her psychiatrist tomorrow. Worried about the transition, she wanted to follow very closely,” Robbe informed.
“It’s been a long day,” he said.
“Week,” I interjected.
“Yes. Sleep is all I can think about right now,” he confessed.
“Me too. Even though we won’t be together, you’ll be my last thought before I fall asleep and my first thought when I wake up,” I reminded him.
“I almost forgot. Did you have a good day with your family?”
“Yes. I helped mother gather all the provisions for the next few days. My dad and I caught up just before you called. All is well. No worries,” I said.
“Good. I’m happy to hear it. And, you’ve kept up with your medication?” He queried.
“I’ll take it before I go to sleep. That’s the schedule I’ve made so far,” I responded. “Like I told my dad, I have all the reason in the world to stay on schedule. And a lot of that is you. Now, I want you to be selfish and take time to rest. We’ll talk tomorrow, ok?”
“I love you, man of my dreams,” he stated.
“And I you, sweet boy.” I signed off. He was the only thing on my mind until falling asleep.

Chapter Text

"We can meet at the pub," Robbe told me.
"I don't mind meeting you at the apartment. I'll stay outside so I don't upset your mother," I replied.
It's two days after Christmas and it feels like I haven't seen Robbe in forever. I don't want to miss a moment.
"Ok. Meet me outside the apartment. The usual apartment. I'll see you at 13:00," Robbe directed.
"See you then," I excitedly replied.
Unsure as to why I'm meeting him at the apartment. I thought he would've taken his stuff back to his mom's by now.
Christmas came and went. I'm very glad to have spent time with family and been away from school. I really missed Robbe and wondered all the time what occupied his time. We messaged and shared an occasional phone call, but I hadn't kissed or touched him since early in the week. Far too long. By the sounds of it, the reunion at home continued in a less than smooth manner.

I grabbed Robbe's gift drawings and headed over to the apartment. I arrived a few minutes early and nervously waited outside for him to come down. When he opened the door, I felt a wide smile spread across my face. Robbe's face tensed with stress but relaxed when he saw me.

He walked toward his bicycle but moved right into my arms. I embraced him tightly, casually kissed his neck, and buried my head in his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me and held on for minutes before we finally relaxed our holds and freed each other.

"I missed you," I said.
"Me too. I'm sorry it took me all week to see you," he replied.
"It's ok. We were both busy with family and celebrations," I confirmed.
"Let's go," he encouraged unlocking his bicycle and climbing on.
We ended up at our favorite little café and thankfully because of the holiday crowd, people squeezed into the bar and all the corners so no one was really paying attention to anyone else. We ordered beers and lunch and relished every moment we spent together that afternoon. I held his leg between mine. He leaned in and kissed me several times. I held his hand while we waited for the food and drink service.

"It's not going well," Robbe started.
"That's what you said on the phone. What's wrong," I asked with great concern. The anguish on his face didn't help the situation.
"Although mother was recovering well at the hospital and seemed well enough to come home, she's just not adjusting well to being in the apartment. She's really sad and disturbed being there because my father isn't there. She feels like she came home to an empty home. She's acting like the break-up is fresh all over again. She's crying all the time. My aunt is so helpful. She's giving mother so much support. She's trying to protect me from all the despair. It's really disappointing and depressing," Robbe detailed. "She's seeing her psychiatrist every other day. He's adjusting her medication. She's regressed from before she left the hospital and I don't know how long it will take for her to be functional. I just want my mom back," he started tearing up and put his head down on his folded arms on the table. I rubbed his back and did my best to console him. I spoke softly in his ear and reassured him.
"I know you're giving him her your love and support and, trust me, it helps. She can't succeed in her recovery without you," I explained.

We ate lunch and then left to find a quiet space. We walked for a little while and wandered into a park where we could sit in the sun and chat. I wrapped my arm around Robbe and held him close next to me. I handed him a tube of drawings and he carefully unrolled each and admired it.
"I hope you will find one to frame and hang over your bed," I explained. "You are my muse and you're helping me produce some of my best work. I want to share it with you. Every time you look at my art, remember I create out of love. Without your love, I wouldn't have this passionate inspiration.
"They are all beautiful, Sander." Robbe scrutinized the details as we sat together. He pulled a soft, wrapped package from his backpack. I tore into it and found a hunter green scarf.
"I know it isn't much. But, there is meaning behind it. First, it's green, like your art bag. Second, it's soft and warm, like your body touching mine. And, third, when you wrap it around you, imagine it's my arms wrapping around your neck and holding you close. I noticed you never wear a scarf and I hope you will wear this one and be cozy," he suggested.
"It's perfect. Thank you so much. You're so thoughtful and kind. I'm putting it on right now," I said beaming in my new accessory.

We stayed on the bench until the sun started to set and the chill returned in the air. Together, we walked back to retrieve our bicycles and I followed Robbe home. I texted my mother to say I was fine and just spending time at Robbe's apartment so she wouldn't worry. Once inside, he sat on the edge of the bed with his head in hands.
"I just don't know what to do," he said.
"If you are confident your aunt is helping your mother, you need to focus on you. Let me help," I offered pulling his sweater off over his head, taking his shoes off, and slipping his pants down when he stood up. I removed some of my own clothes and pulled the duvet back on the bed. Crawling inside, I looked up at him and patted the space next to me for him to lay down. We spent the late afternoon and early evening napping before joining Milan and Zoe in the lounge for some lighthearted laughter and pizza that night. Back to bed for the night, I stroked Robbe's hair and skin while he clung to me and drifted in and out of sleep. He's so tense, I just want to make all the insecurity disappear.

Chapter Text

I awoke at 03:00 to Robbe stroking my leg and kissing my neck. When I stirred, he moved his hand over my shorts and quickly brought me to arousal. He kissed my lips so softly and whispered in my ear, “I need you.” I held him tightly in my arms as the heat between our lips and tongues grew. My hands roamed his body and before long, I hitched his leg up over mine hoping he would take the hint and straddle me. It took a little coaxing but before long, he sat over me and leaned down continuing to pepper me with kisses. I pulled his shirt off and faster than I could realize, nature took over and I felt Robbe grinding into me. He removed his shorts and then mine. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t have any condoms at hand.
“Wait. I forgot. I don’t have a condom,” I said to him in a low voice. He leaned over and one appeared from under the bed. I’m not really sure where it came from.
“It’s a shared responsibility,” he claimed as he put it between his teeth and leaned over to my mouth for me to take it.
“No, you,” I encouraged.
Having Robbe on top was a bit of a challenge for the first time. Finding comfortable positions eventually led to pleasurable sensations. We tried hard not to notice the awkwardness of the arrangement. When he finally found a rhythm, we moved together just as we always managed. Seeing his satisfaction in a dark room illuminated by the city light spurred my own ecstasy. I relished looking at him, the way he moved with me. Touching his body, finding his eyes with mine, every move strengthen our connection. We stifled his not-so-soft moans trying not to wake the others.
Sweaty and spent, he collapsed on me and I held him until our heaving chests lightened with sufficient breath. Later today, when we are not together, I will think of this moment and remember how I felt absorbing his weight into my body and feeling the sticky reward between our two bodies.

As we lay there stroking each other’s skin, I offered up a thought.
“Let’s go back to the sea for the new year celebration. Just us. What do you think?” I blurted out spontaneously without a plan in my head. Without any hesitation, he nodded and said “yes.”