Disclaimer:This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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He deftly tied the tie, over through, under over, up through, down through; it was a long practiced seamless motion. He pulled the borrowed silk tie tight against the crisp black shirt, pleased with himself. Not many people he knew could tie ties, and when he did it, it just felt so effortless. It was a way to build confidence and he took it gladly.
He slipped on the dark green cashmere jacket, another loan, but it felt good on him. Dark green gave a hint of colour to his otherwise black-on-black outfit. He looked so much older, and for a second as he ran his hands down the lapels of the jacket, he was reminded of his father. There was something about his eyes, the way that they stared back at him from the mirror over the sink; a haunting there that reflected age.
He squared his shoulders: a hardened warrior, an English gentleman. He was after all his father's son, and as much as the man had been a hard man to love, he had taught Will how to behave. There were social graces that could never be forgotten, drilled into him over long years of lecturing. His shoes shone with the military sheen only spit and polish could attain. His trousers were pressed with a fine pleat that was nearly perfectly straight. His shirt was ironed, tie tied and hair combed. He felt ready.
He shot his cuffs, a reflexive gesture he barely noticed, adjusting them as he turned and marched out of the bathroom and back down the stairs. A dark countenance of confidence playing across his face, as he felt serious about the night ahead. It was his first date and he should feel scared; instead he felt in control.
Lisa's jaw hit the floor.
Brody's eyebrows shot upwards, the cup of tea in his hands forgotten as he stared.
They both stood there gaping at him as he half-walked, half-marched into the kitchen. He looked confused for a moment, a flash of sudden nervousness scampered across his face before it vanished behind the mask of self-confidence.
"What?" he asked innocently.
Brody and Lisa looked at each other and turned back to him, "Nothing," they said in unison.
He smiled as he rested a shoulder on the doorframe, hands tucked into pockets and ankles crossed. "Do I pass inspection?"
"You look fantastic," Lisa said as she stepped closer to him and brushed a stray piece of lint from his shoulder, "I mean that, you look great in a suit."
He didn't blush; he felt that he should have been embarrassed but he was surprisingly calm. "Thank you," he said sincerely.
"And where do you think you're going young man?" Brody had adopted a look best suited to a nineteen-fifties sitcom father. Add to it a pipe and a knitted cardigan and he could have passed for Spencer Tracy giving his daughter Liz Taylor the same speech in the original Father of the Bride.
Will looked startled, "I'm going out..."
"Is this a date?" Brody asked using the mug of tea to gesture with and accent his question.
Will looked over at Lisa who was trying not to laugh; he affixed a grin to his own face as he nodded, "Yes."
Brody gestured again, "Is this boy picking you up here?"
Will nodded again breaking into laughter; Brody was hamming it up and loving every minute of it. "And when do I get to meet and talk to this young man?"
Will's eyebrows shot upwards into two neatly formed arches and as if on cue there was the sound of a car pulling up into the driveway. He looked over at Lisa again, wondering if Brody was actually serious.
As the doorbell rang, Brody gave Will a challenging look, as if daring him to stop him. Will swallowed, realizing he would never make it to the door in time to stop Brody from answering it. Lisa, who was looking equally as distressed, gave him a timidly hopeful look.
Brody flung open the door, his shoulders setting as he greeted a surprised Andrew. "Come in, come in," he said guiding the young man inside, throwing a mischievous wink at Will as he guided Andrew through into the living room.
Will and Lisa followed, almost afraid for the young man who was now squarely in the clutches of an insane French man.
"Let's see," Brody said, stopping in the middle of the living room and motioning with his cup to a vacant seat, indicating Andrew should sit, "What are your intentions for my little Willy?"
Andrew looked bemused, as he leaned around Brody to wave and smile at Will, before trying to become serious and nod at Brody. "I will be a perfect Gentleman, Mister..." he leaned around Brody again and gave Will a questioning look. Will mouthed the name and Andrew repeated it, "Mister Levesque."
"That's fortunate," Brody said, exaggerating his gestures as he crossed to a heavy cabinet he always kept locked. He fished in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys, moments later he had it open. "Let me show you my gun collection..."
Will felt Lisa's hand suddenly grip his; she was trying so hard to keep a straight face and failing miserably.
"That's an impressive collection." Andrew said with a smile and a nod, trying to convey a serious look of being impressed.
Brody reached in and patted a particularly heavy-looking one he used for hunting in the winter, "I call this one Monica, she hasn't gone out in a while so I think she's a bit lonely..." he turned back to Andrew, "So I take it you're paying for this evening?"
Andrew nodded, he was valiantly losing his battle not to laugh, and he kept sliding sidelong looks over at Will. "Yes I am paying for this evening, Mister Levesque..."
"I'm glad we are of the same understanding." Brody said, closing and locking the cabinet.
Will stepped into the living room and shook his head in wonder at Brody. "You're nuts," he summed up simply and beamed at Andrew, "I'm ready."
Andrew stood up and took Brody's hand in a firm handshake, "Nice to finally meet you..."
As they walked to the door Brody turned, "Oh and Andrew," he waited for Andrew to stop, "I trust your car is working properly this time, because I'll be waiting up." He shook himself off as if shaking off the dad persona, "probably up doing something illegal but that doesn't mean anything..."
Once outside Will turned to Andrew. The senior was dressed in a sharp looking black suit with a striking blue tie. It fit him perfectly, the tie accenting his blue eyes, a hint of colour that made him look so handsome. And Will swallowed, there was no denying it, standing there staring at Andrew he was captivated.
He had a sense of presence about him, a dynamic energy that was just contagious. He was cute in the way that made the girls at school chase after him. The athletic definition to his body and the casual way he held himself was in stark contrast to Will. The previous confidence in the kitchen was sent spinning away, as he felt the wave of nervousness sweeping into him.
Andrew returned the look, standing just a few feet away. He looked at the perfect model of a young English man. Will was handsome in the kind of way that Rupert Everett or Hugh Grant was. It was an awkward English manner that was prim and proper, cultured in a way no one else he knew was. Standing polishing his glasses, Will looked classically intelligent and Andrew felt self-conscious.
He was about to go on a date with a young man who was as intelligent as he was handsome. He had never tried to work out exactly why he was there, opening the door for Will, about to take him on a date; but as he closed it and walked around to get in behind the driver's seat, he couldn't help but think about it.
Will was one of those young men destined to do something with himself. Under that scruffy kid had been a clean-cut, brightly intelligent young man. Had it really taken an act of some divine being to push them together? He started the car quietly, and began to back out of the driveway.
Will had aroused his curiosity before that chance encounter, before their closeness. There had been something there, beneath everything that Andrew (was able?) to see. And there it was, sitting in the seat beside him staring back at him quizzically.
Andrew gave Will a confident smile, and was rewarded with a wave of sunshine. It was just like that: Andrew smiled and he felt like a dork, Will smiled and clouds parted. He had this overwhelming urge to shuffle his feet again, but grinned it off as he drove towards the city.
"How was your game the other night?" Will was asking, and Andrew snapped back to the present.
"Great, we won it cleanly," Andrew responded settling into the drive. He had carefully chosen Sting's greatest hits from his mother's music collection, normally not his music but he hoped it would make Will feel more comfortable.
"Never any doubt," Will said as gently tapped his hand along to the music. Andrew flushed with relief Will had noticed, "So where are we going?"
Andrew chuckled, "You'll see," he replied mysteriously. He liked the way Will's eyes clouded over as he tried to think of a way to get more information out of Andrew. It was that constant need to understand everything that made him so charming. It was as if he could never quite settle for the world the way it was; he had to understand everything about it. To Andrew, so used to sitting back and letting the world flow around him, it was a refreshing change of perspective.
Then he felt Will's hand close over his own on the gearshift, a timid gesture that was so out of character for him. Andrew looked down at the slender hand gently encasing his own, enjoying the sensation of skin making contact with his own.
"Thanks," Will said after a moment of quiet broken only by Sting singing. There was hesitation in his voice betraying that he was still nervous even though Andrew felt he shouldn't be. He wanted nothing more than for Will to be completely relaxed around him. He lifted his hand off of the stick shift and grasped Will's tightly for a moment.
"Any time." He replied with complete sincerity.
The restaurant had been a new experience for Will; he had never experienced Lebanese food before. He had asked for a plate of food and hadn't been expecting the mountain of food he received. Andrew had only smiled when the waiter set the plate down in front of Will, tearing into a pita and using it to scoop up some hummus off of his own plate.
Will shook his head in wonder. It was food he had never heard of before, and he hadn't realized that Middle Eastern food was so hearty. It was delicious compared to the flat boiled foods that England was so famous for. It was rich with so many strong flavours that at first he thought it was too overpowering. But as he ate, and talked to Andrew about school and the lighter subjects of a sixteen-year-old's life, he began to notice the flavours were separate, distinct.
He was sipping a cup of Turkish coffee, a powerfully noxious brew that would keep him awake for the rest of the year, when he noticed Andrew's eyes seem to draw a little heavy and become unfocused.
"What's wrong?" he asked, suddenly worried Andrew was having second thoughts.
"Am I taking advantage of you?" he asked, that strange look on his face becoming one of concern.
Will shook his head, "I don't think so," he said with a reassuring smile.
Andrew affixed those deep blue eyes on him, "Are you sure? I mean are you doing all this because you want to, or because I want you to?"
Will seemed to understand the question; "You're worried I am doing all this to make you happy."
Andrew nodded in concern.
Will shook his head, "Does it make you happy?" he asked, sipping his coffee again.
Andrew nodded without hesitation, those blue eyes never leaving Will's, "Yes."
Will shrugged, "Then yes I am doing it to make you happy."
Andrew's eyes widened a second and Will broke into a winning smile, "Now ask me if you make me happy."
Andrew's eyes took on a questioning look as Will continued, "You make me feel special, for the first time in my life." He meant it, and needed to convey that to the man who had changed his life, "You touch me and I am safe for the first time in my life. Now ask me what I am willing to do just to make you happy..." he trailed off, looking at Andrew in earnest.
Andrew just sat there watching him quietly. Before he picked up his teacup, "I make you happy?"
"Aren't I supposed to be the one with all the doubts?" Will asked with a grin, "I love you..."
The waiter who had just approached their table looked embarrassed at walking into the middle of such a private moment and continued walking trying not to intrude. Will looked up at him and blushed.
Andrew reached across the table and gently brushed Will's hand, "I love you, too."
He'd actually said it. Without being asked, without Andrew having to say it first... For Andrew it was an intoxicating high. They had left the restaurant and had made their way to the Canal, a beautiful feature of Ottawa that offered a relative solitary walk away from traffic and too many other people. It was as close to idyllic as you could get in the heart of a major city.
Will was walking alongside him, shyly at first. They were truly alone for what felt like the first time since the car. Andrew felt a wave of excited energy as he stepped up onto a park bench and from there up to the narrow wall that ran adjacent to the small path. He balanced as he walked along the slippery snow-covered wall, Will looking up at him with puzzled amusement.
"I used to do this when I was little." Andrew explained as he extended his arms a little to keep his balance.
He tried to imagine what Will must have looked like as a little boy, small and thin with a shock of brown hair that never seemed to want to stay in one place, glasses perched on the end of his gently curved nose and clutching books as he ran home. Some how it was hard to imagine. Will was just one of those people you never pictured as being really young; even at sixteen he acted mature for his age.
In a flash, Andrew suddenly loathed the Major for squashing any hope this vibrant young man had for a childhood. He had killed the little boy inside Will as he had any enemy. He hadn't raised a child; he had raised a little soldier. There was a strength and determination about Will, but there was an inflexibility about him as well. He had spent so much of his life learning to be what he was that he seemed to have lost a part of who he was.
He could tell because when Will laughed it was so controlled and tight. And to Andrew it only heightened the eternal sadness that lay beneath its veneer. Peel back too much and he could touch the pain that was still very raw. That worried him, like an oak tree; if he refused to bend he would break.
Andrew hopped down from the wall and suddenly threw his arm around Will's shoulders, and he felt the younger man stiffen at first, and then relax. Drawing himself closer, Will let his head come to a rest against Andrew's shoulder.
They walked like that for a few more step, until Andrew pulled Will around into a tight embrace; reaching up a hand to brush back a rebellious strand of Will's hair he smiled at the young Englishman. It wasn't a passionate embrace, but as he held onto Will it was as if he wanted to convey how he felt. His emotions were so mixed up, but as Will smiled again, doubt and regret receded.
He had known that night on the rink, they had both known. But how did you admit something like that? It was only when faced with the prospect of losing that connection he had only just come to realize belonged to them both, that he had admitted how he felt.
He had known what he wanted was to have this boy in his arms forever. Scruffy Brit or the young Englishman it didn't matter. He must have been staring too intently, because Will blushed and tried to look away, but Andrew reached out a hand to guide Will's chin back up to look at him.
He leaned in and rested his forehead against Will's, his eyes staring deeply into Will's, searching for something he couldn't define. He could hear Will's breathing, felt those delicate hands encircling his waist, those hazel eyes glittering in the night as they watched him.
Andrew moved down, his lips coming into contact with Will's as they kissed tenderly. He felt the world spinning around him as he kissed him. They stood on the edge of the canal, a quiet spot away from the main bustle of the city, sharing a moment of intimacy together for the first time, alone without fear of discovery.
The kiss grew in urgency as they pulled together, Andrew's hand cradling Will's neck as he felt Will's hands drifting up his back. There was so much pent-up emotion, so much that they had both held back. All concern about who there were and who they would be afterwards melted under the intensity of that need. Andrew swam in the rising swell of emotions; he had never felt such a powerful intensity before. He needed Will, he had to hold him, kiss him...
Will broke the kiss first, stepping back a few ragged steps, his shirt half un-tucked, wiping off his mouth with the back of his hand. His hair was in disarray and he had an almost wild look in his eyes as he struggled with his own demons. Andrew stayed still, feeling the floor sinking away from him, was that it? Had Will made his decision, had he realized he couldn't handle the intensity of the emotions?... A million doubts came crashing down upon his shoulders.
Will took two steps forward, reaching up to touch Andrew's face holding it for just a second before he leaned in and kissed it passionately. Inhibitions and the million doubts were suddenly routed by the awesome force of that single emotion this strange young man inspired within Andrew.
They broke the second kiss, both panting for air as Andrew ran a soft hand over Will's face, "I love you..." he said with a sudden desperation.
Will smiled, "I know."