Julieta couldn’t breathe. She had always suspected, but to see them together with her own eyes, her suspicions confirmed, knocked the wind out of her.
~3 minutes before~
The clock struck 1:00am as Julieta entered the house. She had worked late at the hospital and couldn’t wait to get home and curl up in bed next to Alexandre and sleep. She quietly shut the door so as not to wake anyone. She took off her shoes and slowly crept through the house, moonlight showing her the path as she avoided Thomas’ skateboard and Francisco’s medical textbooks piled high on the floor.
She grinned as she thought “the boys are trying to kill me”. Her and Alexandre’s bedroom was at the back of the house and she had to pass Francisco’s room, which was at the front of the hall. As she approached, she heard sounds and wondered if her oldest son was awake. But upon moving closer to the door, which was slightly ajar, she heard two distinct voices between heavy breaths. Not exactly voices though. More like moans.
Julieta felt her stomach knot up. She didn’t have to look into the room to know what she was hearing, but like a person driving by a traffic accident, she had to see for herself, even if that meant invading her sons’ privacy and confirming her fears.
She placed her body against the wall and lightly slid herself to the open crack in the door. She froze in place, her eyes widening as she saw her 16 year old baby pressed against a wall by his big brother. Francisco’s left hand softly grazed Thomas’ neck and his right hand pressed firmly against the shorter boy’s hip. Their naked torsos were fused together as she watched Francisco break their kiss and gently lean his forehead into Thomas’ forehead. She watched as Francisco took in a deep breath of Thomas’ scent. Both of her boys had their eyes closed as they nuzzled each other’s noses and cheeks, all the while, Thomas’ hands never left the inside of waistband of the dark gray sweatpants Francisco wore.
She tore her eyes away. This intimate moment was not meant to be seen, especially by a mother. So many questions and worries flashed through her mind and heart as she stood outside the scene. Should she burst in and put an end to this? No, she thought. They had been inseparable for 16 years and not even she could separate them. She wanted her boys to be happy but if this continued, they would have some difficult obstacles to overcome. Her concerns were interrupted when Thomas began to speak. She knew she should not listen to the private talk of lovers. The moment she thought that word “lovers” she began to tear up. Her sons were lovers.
She leaned back in to look again and listened anyway.
“Francisco?” Thomas whispered.
“Will we always be together?” the teenager timidly asked, his lips grazing Francisco’s bare chest with each syllable.
Francisco opened his eyes and looked down. He hooked one finger under his little brother’s chin and lifted it so their eyes could meet.
“Yes” he responded. He laid a gentle and chaste kiss on the younger boy’s lips. “I promised to take care of you forever and I meant it”.
Thomas’ face remained serious as he whispered “it hurts my heart to be away from you for even a minute”.
“Tom Tom, any time I’m not with you” Francisco declared, “I feel such an ache in my chest that I can’t stand it. I’ve loved you since I first saw you. You are mine and I am yours. Forever. No matter what happens, always remember that and never doubt my love for you.”
Julieta’s own heart swelled at the intensity of their exchange. Thiers was a rare kind of love. Normally she would call such an exchange puppy love or the exaggerations of teenagers, but Francisco was a grown man of 22 and took so seriously the things he cherished that she knew he meant every word of his vow.
And her little Thomas, who was not so little anymore. He was growing into a beautiful, caring and talented young man. He would be 17 in a couple of months. She could not tell them what to do, or even tell them their feelings were wrong or bad. If she tried to separate them, it would only drive them away from her and Alexandre. Although the thought of her two sons in love with each other still drove her to worry, Julieta had no choice but to let them be. Perhaps they would tell her one day, when they were older. Or perhaps they would realize they were foolish and their relationship would end. Whatever happened they were her children and she loved them unconditionally.
She was ripped away from her thoughts as the boys’ soft touches and sweet words ignited a passion in them. Thomas pulled Francisco’s head down for a searing kiss. Hands moved to more intimate body parts and Thomas pushed his brother off him, walking them across the room. Thomas fell with Francisco onto the bed where their desire for each other escalated.
Julieta, not wanting to see her children in this state, stealthily backed away from the bedroom door and traveled to her own bedroom door which she entered with a sense of acceptance and apprehension. She changed into her pajamas and snuggled up against Alexandre. However, she could not fall asleep while knowing what was going on down the hall.
“This will take time” she thought.
Alexandre had noticed the matching gold bands on his sons’ right ring fingers shortly before Thomas left for Russia. He bit his tongue. Something he had been doing for years. And tonight is no different.
The Olympics were finally over and is son was home for good. He, Thomas and Francisco were all out at dinner, celebrating his homecoming and his great accomplishment at the games. As he and his sons chatted, he saw the rings had been switched to their left hands. While Alexandre was surprised at the boldness of the quiet statement in front of him, he was not shocked at the meaning.
There had always been signs Thomas and Francisco were closer than brothers. Shy glances, longing stares, familiar touches, and private jokes were all evidence of their relationship, but it was never out in the open. They had maintained discretion. That is, until their mother died.
After Julieta’s death, they became less worried about concealment. While they were not shouting it from the rooftops, they had no qualms about who saw what or what anyone thought about them.
They had not told him their intentions towards each other, but he, nor Julieta, had pressed the issue as to avoid unnecessary disgrace.
When…if…his sons decided to verbally confirm what he already knew to be true, he would hug them, give them each a kiss and tell them it didn’t matter to him although it did matter to him. But he was their father and that mattered more.
~A Few Days Before~
The night Thomas returned from Russia, he and Francisco poured some wine, made love and exchanged their wedding vows from the comfort of their bed.
Francisco spoke from his heart, his eyes becoming damp as he promised to love Thomas for the rest of their lives and beyond. He looked into his brother’s blue eyes and said that he had been lost without him these past three years and couldn’t imagine being separated again. “My Tom Tom, I loved you before you arrived in this world. You’re the other half of my heart and soul. You are the most precious gift I will ever receive.” He then removed the gold band from his brother’s right ring finger and slid it onto his left ring finger; sealing the deal with a kiss to Thomas’ hand.
Thomas’ heart beat rapidly in his chest as Francisco spoke. He knew no words were needed between them as they all had been spoken before. But hearing them thrilled him in a new way as he fiddled with Francisco’s ring.
“Francisco”, he began. “There are no words to adequately express what I feel for you. You are everything to me.” His voice quivered as he choked back his tears. My brother, friend, lover, protector, confidant…everything. Being separated from you, if only for a few months at a time, was like torture. Every day without you, I felt the vice tighten a bit more around my heart and now that I’m finally home with you, in your arms, I feel as though I could fly. You are the other half of my heart and soul. I never want to be without you again.”
Thomas slid the ring off of Francisco’s right hand and gently pushed it onto his left hand. And just like that, in their hearts, minds and spirits, they were married.