Chapter OneThe wind cracked the house, causing Will to look up from the book he was reading and out at the looming November darkness. It was blowing hard out there, wind stirring the trees and whistling ominously. It would be winter soon, and with it, snow.For the moment Will could just enjoy the fall weather, it always reminded him of his home in England. The rain and the cool winds that stirred his soul made fall his favourite season; he enjoyed the changing colours of the leaves, the unpredictable weather that wouldn't freeze him or threaten to boil him alive. It was a happy medium between the two—not too hot, not too cold. He yawned, returning to his chemistry textbook and studying for the test he had at the end of the week. He liked having the old house to himself; Brody was away at school leaving Will the only tenant until Christmas. It was like being on his own; he was the only one responsible for the dishes or his laundry, both of which he did meticulously. At the tender age of eighteen he had been living on his own for nearly two years, ever since being forced to move out of his house.His father's house, he corrected himself mentally as he got up and walked through to the kitchen. He had made a pot of tea earlier that evening and it was still warm beneath the tea cozy. Much to his delight the grocery store had started to carry an English blend of tea; it was a little more expensive, but spared him the horror of Orange Pekoe. It gave him a little taste of home, a reminder of who he was.He sipped the tea, holding the mug between two hands as he stared out of the front window up the dimly-lit street to the cul-de-sac the house sat on. He still wasn't used to the time change brought on by daylight savings time; it felt later than the clock on the stove was telling him, Andrew would be done his lecture soon.He should really be thinking about cooking something for supper, but his culinary skills were specifically limited to variations of store-bought pasta, and whatever he could order off of a menu on the fridge. Not really his fault, he had just never really bothered to learn how to cook, as much as he had tried to learn off of the Urban Peasant cooking show on the TV.He shrugged, opening the cupboard door and pushing Kraft dinner and Raman noodles around looking for something appetizing. It was close to the end of the month and he was feeling the pinch of having no real cash to spend. His grandmother would be sending his monthly living allowance cheque in a few days, at least then he would be able to eat a square meal.He closed the cupboard door with a sigh as he wandered back through to the living room. He was permanently broke it seemed, a perpetual cycle of getting money and spending it, eking out a living leaving him with little to nothing for himself. He realized he would probably have to get a job at the rate he was going. Something part-time just to make sure he had food in the cupboard.He stretched out on the couch, curling one foot up and under him as he sat up against the armrest returning to his reading. Mister Eardley wouldn't delay a quiz on account of Will not being able to focus on his homework.That was what it meant to be a senior now. The last year of school that was on a timer ticking down the days and hours that he had left until he would have to face real life. It was a joke, really. He faced real life every day—balancing his bills, dealing with the bank, paying his rent. He had handled grown-up responsibilities for nearly two years, and he stared thoughtfully up and out of the window again at the swaying trees.If he did get a part-time job he would have more money, on the other hand he wouldn't have much time for studying. It would be a trade-off, and while he was ahead in some of his subjects such as English and History, he was trailing behind in his Math and sciences. Taking a job would stretch his time to the limit—would he be able to manage it? Some of the other people he knew from school had jobs. Jared worked at the local Blockbuster, for example, and seemed to do just fine. But then he didn't have to look after a house, do his own laundry and cook for himself.Will tapped his pen against his cheek wondering what he should do. He could always call his gran, explain the situation to her, but then she wasn't a rich woman; she was living off of her pension and was scraping to ensure he was looked after as it was. If he called her, he would be saying that it wasn't enough, and she would be on his case to move back to England with her. And he didn't want that, not when he was so close to being done school.There was always his Uncle Arthur, but he couldn't go that route without it getting back to his Aunt Majella, and she would be on the phone to his gran in no time flat. He was stuck fending for himself and he knew it. It was a matter of knuckling down and doing something about it instead of staring wistfully into empty cupboards.He craned his head to the door that had cracked open to admit a bundled-up shape that resembled a human being wrapped up in too many layers to count. He flashed an amused smile as Lisa began to unwrap herself from the over-abundant coats and sweaters."It's cold!" she exclaimed coming into his living room and setting down something that vaguely resembled a Tupperware container."Is it?" Will asked, leaning again to glance outside before he looked back at the tantalizing container with its mysterious contents... his mouth was beginning to water at the thought of what it might contain."Yeah," Lisa said, noticing him looking at the bowl as she smiled at him. "Mom made extra stew, she told me to bring it over to you. She thinks you're too thin."Will chuckled as he closed his textbook and set it on the sturdy coffee table, dropping his pen down on top of it. "Thanks Lisa," he said sincerely. He knew this was Lisa's subtle way of saying she was worried about him. She was over as often as she could and knew the situation he was in—it was kind of hard to hide things from his best friend.She sighed as she looked about the darkened house. Only the fan light above the stove and the small side lamp in the living room were on and the whole house seemed oddly quiet, and she gave him one of her big sister looks."Just catching up on some homework," Will explained as he took off his glasses and cleaned them on the tail of his plaid shirt."Uh huh," Lisa said suspiciously, knowing full well Will had a hard time studying anything to do with numbers.Will shook his head as he stood up, taking the Tupperware through to the kitchen and the microwave there. "Say thanks to your mom, eh?" Will called through as he fiddled with the archaic timer.When he returned to the living room Lisa had turned on a few extra lights and had the television going, tuned into a couple of mindless sitcoms that were always good for a bit of a laugh. Will sipped his tea hovering in the doorway waiting for the microwave to get done, reflecting on how little he actually bothered to watch the television; he always had other things to keep him busy.The door going again had him turning, Andrew tramping into the house, the collar of his jacket turned up against the cold and his blue eyes brightening as he saw Will standing in the dining room. He coughed a little as he shrugged out of his coat and walking up to throw his arms around his boyfriend."Hey, you're cold!" Will protested as Andrew pulled Will's warmth against him."Yep," Andrew stated with a long sigh as he held Will for a moment turning his head to look over to where Lisa was sitting and smirking. "Hey, Lisa."Lisa smiled at the former-hockey-star-turned-college-boy. "Hey, Andy," she greeted as she shifted to be more comfortable in her big comfy chair, picking up a pillow and plopping it into her lap. "How's school going?""Well," Andrew replied still warming himself up on Will, who was shooting him a frustrated look that said he didn't appreciate the cold hands on the small of his back, but wasn't going to complain about the affection. "The prof was presenting Hemingway... badly." He shrugged, "The man doesn't understand that interpretation of literature comes from the individual instead of from the teacher. There is no right or wrong way to interpret something so long as you can back up the reasons you interpret the piece the way you do...""Right," Lisa said nodding as she darted glances towards the TV. Will managed to disengage himself from Andrew's arms and run a hand through his dishevelled brown hair as the microwave beeped. "Have you eaten?" he asked Andrew as he moved through to the kitchen again.Andrew flashed Will's back a concerned look as he glanced over to Lisa. The two friends exchanged a look that conveyed the same concern between the two of them without words. Andrew shook his head. "No thanks, I ate earlier," he said knowing full well Will didn't really have it to share."Alright," Will stated, returning to the living room carrying the Tupperware bowl of piping hot stew that smelled fantastic. He grinned thankfully at Lisa as he sat down and tugged the coffee table closer to him.Andrew chewed his lip, watching Will tuck into the stew hungrily, again sharing a look with Lisa. Will was a proud young man, one who wouldn't admit to being in trouble. He valued his independence to the point of being very defensive of it. Offering to help wouldn't have done much good as Will wouldn't accept it. Stubbornness was his biggest failing."What?" Will asked glancing up from the bowl realizing they were watching him eat; he felt self-conscious and wiped the corners of his mouth with a scrap of paper towel he had brought with him."I was just thinking," Andrew said as he sat down on the stairs and smiled. "Your Uncle Arthur is always looking for people over at the arena."Will gave his boyfriend a frown, "I don't know how to play hockey...""Not coaching, idiot," Andrew said with a grin. "Though it's always hilarious to see you on skates, I know the café upstairs needs someone to work the evenings."Lisa smirked, "And if anyone knows how to make a good pot of coffee or tea...""Yeah," Andrew said mirroring her grin, "you have to admit your tea is almost legendary.""Hardly," Will said, having the sinking suspicion he was being ganged up on. "I just make tea my way... I prefer coffee...""Just imagine it," Lisa said sitting forward in her seat. "A job where you could drink as much coffee as you want..."Will scratched his head and sighed, "Why do I get the impression I am not going to be given a choice in this?""Because you're not," Lisa replied, firmly getting up and scooping the phone from its cradle. "You should call him."Will shifted uncomfortably. "It wouldn't feel right," he protested, "calling my uncle for a job...""Yeah," Andrew said with a shrug, "but at the same time I coach the local Bantam team... we could set it up that we do it on the same nights..."Will winced, "Don't you coach them at like dawn on Saturdays as well?"Andrew smiled wolfishly, "Yep.""Oh that's just wrong," Will murmured as he sipped his stew, chewing on a tender piece of beef and looking up at Lisa extending the phone to him. He dropped the spoon and took the phone making the call.And just like that he had made arrangements to have an interview with his uncles Arthur and Hubert—the terrible duo that ran the local sports arena. His Uncle Arthur had seemed as enthusiastic as Andrew was at the prospect, but then Uncle Arthur was fond of his nephew, and being able to keep an eye on the family's resident black sheep probably appealed to the older man."Happy?" Will asked as he clicked off the phone and handed it back to a very smug Lisa who slotted it away.She nodded as she retook her chair, and Will sighed as he sat back to finish off his stew, looking up at a relieved-looking Andrew who was shining his concerned eyes as he watched his boyfriend.Will arched an eyebrow as he smiled; it would be nice to spend a bit more time with Andrew. The former hockey star loved coaching—it was his chance to get out on the ice and relive some of his old dreams, and Will had to admit he liked the way the coach's jacket suited Andrew. Wasn't it every gay man's dream to be dating the coach? Ok, so Andrew wasn't Will's coach, and he did only coach a kid's team, but that wasn't the point, right?"Oh no," Andrew said recognizing the look in Will's eyes. "I have the sudden feeling this is going to be a bad idea." He grinned knowing what was probably going through Will's mind.Will smiled innocently."Oh, you two make me sick," Lisa said pulling a face. "You're like newly-weds sometimes.""You're just sore because I won't make you a bridesmaid," Will shot back polishing off the last of the stew and getting up and depositing the bowl into the sink. He noticed that Andrew had followed him.He sighed as he felt Andrew wrap his warm arms around him and rest his chin on Will's shoulder. And Will closed his eyes pressing his cheek against Andrew's, enjoying the closeness of the moment. He opened an eye and smiled. "Happy now?" he asked."Mmhmm," Andrew murmured swaying gently from side to side watching over Will's shoulder as he cleaned out the Tupperware bowl. "Much."***
Nineteen Years LaterAndrew was happy, though time had seen fit to throw it's fair share of curve balls at their relationship. He was a happily married man, ring on his finger and... He let out a string of curse words as his Mustang beat its way through downtown Toronto traffic. A nightmare of congestion, aggrevation, and people. He was going to be late, and there was one thing he simply couldn't be that day, and that was be late."Come on..." he urged, staring at the lights, willing them to change and hoping against hope that he could make up time cutting through suburban roads. Of all the places Will had insisted to live, he had to have that damn house in the middle of the Village. After all they could have lived in Ottawa... and did for part of the year... but that wasn't good for Alex.Alex was going to be angry.Andrew sighed again drumming his hands on the wheel, sighing for the umpteenth time as the lights dared him to defy them.He'd been to Cambodia, dealt with traffic in Russia, and battled cars in Shanghai... but here there was order, and rules... and..."Screw it..." his foot went towards the gas pedal."The light's red," the young man said from the seat beside him, looking up from his iPad and over the rim of his glasses that was so typical of his father."I know... but..." Andrew began, and shook his head, settling back into his seat. "You know you're as annoying as your Dad right?"Alex Carter rolled his eyes, "You or Dad?""Dad – Dad, you know what I mean when I say your dad..." Andrew shook his head. "Dad, Dad and you are Dad... you have to be more specific..." the ten-year-old sounded annoyingly exactly like Will at that moment." Look, Sprog...""Light's Green." Alex chipped in helpfully.Andrew was sure that Carters were hereditarily annoyingly chipper for eight AM.He glanced at his son as he weaved through the streets. Never quite sure who he took after more, Will for his bookishness, or Andrew for the confidence. Either way, they had a great kid... who was atrocious at Maths... so probably Will's doing.The Mustang pulled up at the school, and in a blur Alex was backpacked, kitted, ball capped and ready to go... he hesitated in the open door of the car... "You're not going to be late picking me up, are you?" there was an almost imperceptible quiver in the voice."I got you here on time, didn't I?" Andrew asked pointedly."No..." Alex shot back with a cheeky grin, and was off like a rocket, heading for the doors.Andrew sighed rubbing his head, wondering again at his son and all the strange ways that life changed.********Hello, Thank you for taking the time to read this work. I know it's been a while in coming. But I have finally hit a point where I am ready to work on this book. It's time for me to re-examine old characters and see where they take me.If you are familiar with the Carter books, you can find them on Nifty, as well as CRVboy.If you enjoy my work, your support is appreciated:
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