A part of him was certain that he would never hear it again, that melodic lilt that accompanied the sounds of pure joy escaping from the very soul of a young man. Or as it seems a man who is not so young as, middle-aged; but it mattered not to him for it had been years, and he was both elated and terrified to hear that sound now. The first time he saw him was outside a Café, similar to the one he had been headed past.
It was mid October, and the wind blew fiercely against his shoulders and neck, freezing what little bits of skin were showing. He was hunching his body to try and protect himself when he felt something warm and soft wrap itself around his neck. He shot his gaze up to the man standing in front of him, smiling in a way that screamed predator, but was so uncannily calming at the same time.
“I apologize if I startled you. I assure you that wasn’t my intention.” The taller man spoke. The younger man reached up to stroke the new fabric warming him. It was soft and smelled like, what he assumed was, the original owner’s cologne. “You looked cold and I thought since I’m used to this weather that I would share with you; what was unnecessary to me.”
“Thank you.” Was all the smaller man replied. After a couple of minutes he seemed to regain proper control of his tongue. “My name’s Peter. What’s yours?”
He stopped every movement when the sound had first hit his ears, carried on the wind like the cruel tendrils of fate. It was as if some unseen force was guiding him, for there almost within arms reach, was the person he had been longing for with all of his heart. Everything in him seemed to stop moving, while picking up speed at the same time. He took a small step back, as if getting too close would break the spell that had seemed to have fallen all around him.
They lay sprawled across, what felt like, a million down-filled pillows, breath having already returned to them. It was times like this he loved the most, all the barriers he had to keep up were free to come crashing down, in the aftermath. It was the silence that he craved the most of these moments, the ability to feel freely and to revel in the calming nature that was the other man’s heartbeat. For reasons unknown to him, the silence was too much this time; words needed to be spoken, and it seemed not to matter what those words were.
“Hey, Chris? If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” Even as the sounds echoed around the empty room the older man remained silent. “I’m serious Chris. I want to know what you want.” Said man proceeded to turn on his side to face his lover.
“Why would I wish for anything else? I have you and that’s all I need.” He replied. It was the smaller man’s turn to just stare. “Why’s this so important to you, Peter?”
“I don’t know. I just need to know.”
“I can have anything? While still being able to keep what I already have?” At the resulting nod, he continued. “Well if I could have anything else in the world, I think I would want a little girl. Someone I could fuss over and who would have me wrapped around her little finger. Someone who I would give my very existence to protect. Someone with dark hair and the prettiest little smile ever.”
He smiled to see him so happy, to be privileged enough to witness the love between him and the short red haired woman. He had feared his love wouldn’t be able to let go of the pain his leaving had caused, but here he was. A small dark brown haired girl perched on his shoulders, crystalline blue eyes shinning with merriment. His eyes. Her long pigtails bounced as her father turned his head to laugh at something she had said. And there it was again, that heart-wrenchingly familiar sound and he realized that time had spared him, he was still as perfect as they day they had met.
“God Peter, would you stop fussing with it already!” He was standing in front of the closet’s full-length mirror, trying his hardest to get his hair to sit properly but his curls were fighting him at every turn.
“No, I can’t. I want to look good…well as good as I can look.” He looked down the length of his body and sighed. “My hair is like my one good feature, when it actually behaves that is. Everything else is just gangly.”
“I happen to like gangly.”
“Seriously Chris, I’m not joking. I hate the way I look.” He sighed again before going over and dropping onto the edge of the bed. The other man came over and placed himself beside his love.
“I’m not joking either. I think you are perfect the way you are. But you’re only nineteen, you have loads of time to bulk up if that’s really what you want. I would love you no matter what you looked like.” He looked down at his young lover and smiled, pulling his face into a kiss.
“Easy for you to say, you actually are perfect.” The older man just burst out laughing.
Pain washed over him as he fell to the floor again. Blood dripping from countless wounds that were already healing. But he realized that nothing this man could do would hurt as much as what he was demanding of him.
He watched as the small family sat down at one of the café’s outer tables. He slipped around the corner of the nearest building and looked on. He was envious of them. The two people who got to share their lives with the man he loved, who got to hold him and share in his happiness. Who were the cause of his happiness. But it was right then, while watching him laugh again, that he realized he wouldn’t change a thing that he had done. He was happy, in a way, for what happened because it meant that he got what he always wanted. He got his family. Something that would have been impossible had he of stayed. He knew that his fate had changed the day he met him and it changed again the day he left him, but he could feel somewhere in his soul, that the path he walked now was the one meant for him. Though his love maybe didn’t realize at the time, maybe not even now, that it was time for them to let go. That there could be something good in saying goodbye.
He woke up in a dark place, even with his enhanced sight he couldn’t see anything; the world was black to him. He tried to sit up but could only manage a couple of feet before his back hit something. He reached a hand out in front of himself and felt the same thing as before. Bars, he realized. He was in a cage. A small one. He could only manage to get onto his hands and knees before, once again, his back was pushing at the bars of the roof. He kept pushing hoping his strength would be enough to pry open the cage. He was so concentrated on his task he didn’t hear nor smell that someone new had entered the room. A light switched on but the brightness was too much for his sensitive eyes and he lurched back even more when he heard a loud crack, before falling in a heap. There was one thing he heard before his world went black though.
“You see now son, what it is you have allowed yourself to be bewitched by? He is nothing more than a wild animal. A rabid dog.”
“I wish we could go on a real date,” The younger man sighed. “Don’t give me that look. I know we can’t, our families and all that crap. I just wish sometimes, ya’know?”
“Peter,” The older man sighed in response.
“I know, I know. It’s very Romeo and Juliet, don’t’cha think. Our families hating each other, but us still finding a way to love each other right under their noses.”
“They both die in the end.” Another sigh escaped the elder male as he ran his fingers through his lover’s hair, or at least attempted to get them through the mess of curls.
“Yeah, that’s true. But I don’t think either of them would regret their choice. Dying to be with the one you love. I would do it, for you. I would embrace what time we had and then move on to Paradise and be with you again.” The teenager smiled sadly at his love before lying his head down and falling asleep. Unaware of just how shocked, yet strangely happy the other man was.
He thought about the life he lived now, about the woman he was seeing and her little boy who desperately needed a father and he couldn’t bring himself to regret the decision he made. Losing someone so ingrained in his heart was almost unbearable but it made him stronger, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to stand here so silently, otherwise he would have already run to him never to release him again. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to stay in hiding forever, that he would eventually have to reveal his lie but for now it’ll stay intact. He took one last look at his love before he turned around and walked the way he had come, but not before whispering his final goodbye.