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.
"Mister Carter, if you would kindly pay attention?" Mister Greenwood called out, snapping Will back from his idle staring out of the window. He flashed the old English teacher a wry grin.
"Sorry sir," he said, adjusting in his chair and trying to focus again on Greenwood's assessment of Shakespeare. It was one of those broiling hot days near the end of the school year when outside seemed suddenly so much more appealing than sweltering indoors.
"Perhaps then, Mister Carter, you would be so kind as to grace us with your thoughts on the subject?" Greenwood was a wily old devil; he knew perfectly well Will hadn't been paying attention in the slightest, now he was out to catch him.
Will smirked; he enjoyed a challenge. He stood up. "It's interesting to read the characters' reactions to the situations they are finding themselves in," he bluffed, knowing full well that Greenwood wasn't so easily deterred.
Grade Eleven English class had been a battleground of wills. Greenwood had been hard on him from the moment he had started it, testing and pushing him; their debates on Conrad had been the stuff epics were written about. And instead of resenting the teacher for the extra pressure he put down on Will, Will appreciated it. Finally he was actually being challenged for a change instead of being allowed to coast.
Greenwood gave him a critical eye, "How so, Mister Carter? Surely Lady Macbeth's ambitions for her husband created the situation in the first place."
"True," Will responded, already getting a grasp on the subject, his mind making connections, "but Lady Macbeth is just acting out her own desires vicariously through her husband. In a man's world, like the setting of this book, she would have no other choice but to seize power through her husband."
"That is an interesting observation," Greenwood said affixing his deep-set eyes on the young man. "Ambition achieved through vicarious actions; I would like you to think long and hard on that one, Mister Carter."
The bell ringing caused Will to smirk. "Perhaps later," he replied, failing utterly to hide his satisfaction that the school day was over. One look at Greenwood told him he had failed to achieve that objective; Will shrugged and gathered up his books.
They were closing in on exam time, the year was almost over, and Will, for one, would be glad when it was. He was getting impatient to move onwards with his life, escape high school and see what university had to offer. He had to keep reminding himself that he still had one more year.
Lisa was grinning like a shark when he came out of Greenwood's class, his books safely stowed away in his book bag as he wound his way down towards his locker which was tucked into the most deserted area of the school.
"Don't tell me," he said looking down at himself. "I don't match."
Lisa gave him an appraising look, "You always match, Will; I personally think you spend your entire weekend co-ordinating outfits." She stood aside as a group of freshmen ran past, whooping and hollering about it being Friday.
Will watched them go past and shook his head, "I was never that small."
"You're still small," Lisa replied as they walked down the stairs into the school basement. "Well, more... annoyingly thin."
"I work out!" he said defensively as they reached his locker which still bore the patch-up job Brody had done for him nearly two years ago. He banged the door open and began to collect his homework.
"You do not!" she retorted, resting on the bank of lockers. "But you must be excited."
Will pushed his reckless hair out of his eyes and gave her a slow smile. "I'm no more excited than I was this morning," he replied matter-of-factly. He sighed as he considered taking his jacket home with him. It was warm and he was going to walk, so he might as well leave it. He closed the locker to see her beaming at him, her pale elfin face grinning from ear to ear.
"You can't lie to me, William Carter," she said, her deep green eyes glittering. "I know you too well."
"Yes, much to my dismay," Will said, hefting his book bag to his shoulders. "Are you coming?"
She grinned at him and adjusted his tie. "How was teaching this morning?" she asked, hoping that by changing the subject he would be distracted when she switched it back.
Will nodded. "Being called Mister Carter by a class of seventh-graders will take some getting used to," he admitted. "But I'm being supervised by Mrs. Casey so it's going well." They walked out of the smoking doors that had once been the domain of a certain rebel.
Will had to admit he quite enjoyed the co-operative education program he was part of. It was designed to give him real work experience, and the guidance counselor had gotten it into his head that Will would make a good English and history teacher. Will loved being typecast before he had so much as stepped a foot inside a college, but he'd accepted and every morning he taught two classes under Mrs. Casey's careful supervision.
"The tie suits you," she said, fussing with it again as they walked across the well-kept green grass that stretched out behind the school leading to the baseball field and the outdoor basketball courts. The sun warmed both of them with the heat of a late afternoon in Canada.
Such a stark difference between the heat of summer and the depths of winter; Will wondered if he would ever get used to it. He stubbornly refused to adjust his wardrobe for winter. He hated shorts and looked silly in long johns and so kept to his slacks-and-shirt regime that had seen him through the last two years.
"When you're quite done," he admonished with a fond smile; Lisa had the usual woman's fascination with ties. It was something strange for them to play with. Will supposed it was probably the same for boys and bras. No, he blushed, that was most definitely not the same thing at all.
Will put his hands into his pockets as they both turned to walk down the hill, and eventually he sighed, "And before you ask me for the hundredth time today, I'm just glad he's coming home."
Lisa beamed at him, "I knew it..."
"You knew it this morning," Will replied matter-of-factly. "I told you when you bribed me with a muffin." He squinted up and down the street as the pair of them crossed the road, climbing the hill towards the house. Will hated this hill; it was impossibly steep, cars always struggled to climb its extreme gradient, and Will had to lean into the tough climb.
Lisa panted as they finally crested the top of the road and looked down on the rest of the town, "You were being stubborn, I had to do something."
"Speaking of stubborn," Will said, broaching a subject he knew she was deliberately avoiding.
"I don't want to see him," Lisa replied; there was a finality about her tone that said she didn't want to be questioned on that fact.
Will shrugged; Lisa may have looked like an elfin princess, but she certainly acted like a spoiled one sometimes. He had long ago given up any attempts to sway her mind when she settled on something; she said it was just because she was a typical Taurus. Will just assumed it was because she liked the attention.
"You're going to have to see him eventually," Will observed as they began to climb down the steps towards the main part of town, and he grumbled, sure there were steps on one side of the hill...
She absently ran a hand along the saplings that lined the stairs, brushing their budding leaves with her fingers, looking woefully sad. "I don't think I can," she said as she squared her shoulders. "Besides, I don't want to."
Will nodded, brushing his hair out of his eyes again and taking off his glasses, folding them and tucking them away into his pocket. "It's only because I care about you," he said giving her a concerned look. "And..."
"If you say you think I'm still in love with him, I'll hit you." She lifted a hand threateningly, and Will flinched. She dropped her hand in shock, "I'm sorry Will, I forgot... I just..."
Will recovered from his surprise and shrugged his shoulders. "Don't worry about it," he said, waving off her apology. "I'm well past it."
They turned into the small cul-de-sac where Brody's house sat on the end, dark and brown--a mirror for the houses surrounding it with their well-maintained lawns and children rushing home from the elementary school up on the corner. Will really liked his neighbourhood; he'd lived there for a year-and-a-half now and he loved it, it was his home.
Lisa stiffened looking at the all-too-familiar truck sitting in the driveway. "I should probably get going," she said, looking nervously at it before she turned to hurry away.
Will turned to follow her with his gaze. "Be careful," he called out to her. "You sure you don't want to come in for a cup of tea..."
She didn't answer him, and vanished from his sight around a bend in the road. Will sighed audibly as he began to start back up the road. While Lisa was in no mood to see Will's landlord, Will on the other hand had no such qualms.
He sauntered through the front door, smiling at the man already dirtying every dish he could get his hands on in an effort to cook supper.
"Hello, hello," Will said, crossing his ankles as he leaned in the kitchen's doorway.
Brody turned, a grin slipping onto his stubbled face. "Hello there, grasshopper," he said, setting a large pizza tray down on top of the stove. "How fares?"
"Well," Will replied, still smiling. It had been nearly five months since Brody had been home for Christmas, and for his part Will had missed the cantankerous old bugger. Living in the house had certainly been quieter, but that also meant a lot less enjoyable. Now Brody was home for the summer things were about to get exciting again.
Brody gave him a measuring look before turning back to preparing his frozen pizza. "You hungry?" he asked, and stopped, turning. "Who am I kidding, you're always hungry."
Will chuckled, "Good to see you, how was the trip?"
"I hitchhiked," Brody said with a manic grin. "I got done school, got out of class, stuck out my thumb; it was all an adventure." He grinned, "There was this women's volleyball team..." He held up his thumb appreciatively.
Will shook his head, some things never changed. He walked into the kitchen and flipped open the fridge, bending down to root around in it for a coke. But as his hand closed over the can, he heard the all-too-familiar spluttering of an engine and he couldn't hide the broad grin that spread across every inch of his face. He forgot the can as he threw open the front door and stood on the doorstep, grinning like a lunatic.
Andrew's black Mustang rumbled into silence as the man of the hour got out. He looked tired, like he had been driving for days; the stubble on his face and rings under his eyes didn't disguise the light that suddenly brightened when he saw Will.
His long, loping strides brought him up to Will; there was no hesitation, no worry that he was out in public, Andrew had never really cared about those sorts of things. He was going to show how he felt and he didn't care if the whole world saw. He wrapped his arms around Will's waist as he buried his face into a hug, lifting up a moment to give Will a soulful kiss.
Will shivered at the intensity of it; he'd missed Andrew and he hated being apart from him, but that was a part of life, and it wasn't going to be forever. Right then he had Andrew and Andrew had him and life could just wait for them for a change.
"See, that wasn't so bad," Andrew's voice cracked with emotion, like he was fighting to hold back tears.
Will sighed, content just to be held by the man he loved. "You look like hell," he said softly. "You should come inside and get some rest..."
"I have to get home," Andrew said, though he made no move to let go. "Mom's expecting me. I just had to see you first."
Will grinned at him. "Plenty of time," he reassured.
Andrew nodded in agreement as he finally stepped back, stopping to pick up the tail of Will's tie. "This I could get used to," he said, taking in Will's attire.
Will shook his head, "Typical guy, always thinking about..."
Andrew grinned at him, "Tomorrow, I'll pick you up for breakfast at Denny's or something." He opened the door to his car, then returned to kiss Will again, holding onto the tie like he would a rope leash. "Very used to this," he observed, and blushed as he got back into the Mustang. "Don't sleep in," he called out, backing the car up onto the street and gunning the engine, Will waving him off.
Will stuck his hands into his pockets, a habit he had picked up from his boyfriend. A year-and-a-half of dating and they both had picked up on each other's mannerisms. Will turned back, nodding to Mrs. Hendle who was tending her roses and looking disapprovingly at him. He ignored her and walked back into his house; even though he was openly gay, some people still gave him `the look'.
Will was eating cereal and reading a newspaper when Brody came down the next morning, smacking his lips, his hair in disarray, and definitely looking like he needed an extra few hours of sleep time.
He stood staring vacantly at the wall before he flopped onto the couch with a dramatic sigh of relief. Will looked up from his paper and shook his head in bemusement, "Morning, sir. Coffee?"
"You know why I like living with you?" Brody said, rolling a bit to look back. "It's like I have my own personal butler: you do dishes, you cook, and you clean... sort of." Brody wiped a hand over the dusty coffee table and rubbed the muck off his fingers.
Will gave him a look, "The day I see you do the dusting will be the day you have a right to complain." He closed the newspaper and got up to put his bowl in the sink and pour two cups of freshly-brewed coffee.
"Aren't you going to breakfast?" Brody asked, accepting the mug Will handed to him and looking skeptically at the tie Will was wearing on a Saturday.
Will arched an eyebrow, "This is Andrew we're talking about; it's nine now, by the time he gets up it will be noon..." Will shrugged, "Common sense says I eat now and lie when he gets here."
Brody started, "Ok, who are you and what did you do with my butler?"
Will cracked a smile, "Still right here, mate." He sipped his coffee and frowned up at the French doors, "Speaking of which, I need to do the windows at some point." He shook his head shaking off the momentary distraction as he wandered back towards the kitchen, "You must be glad to be home; how were your exams?"
Brody emitted a low groan, "Plato--dude's an idjit. I prefer Aristotle--at least he made sense."
"Philosophy?" Will inquired, running water to do the dishes and rolling his sleeves up to get started.
"Yeah, I love it," Brody replied, flipping on the television and channel-surfing. "But you should have seen some of the girls in my class... I'd love to explore a little bit of Plato with them, if you know what I'm sayin'."
Will chuckled, tossing the pizza pan into the water, "Uh huh. There's more to university than girls..." Will shook his head again; if there was one person nobody expected to get an acceptance letter to university, it was Brody. Somehow he had managed to wrangle an acceptance to Dalhousie University on the east coast; into the program of his choice as well. It came as a shock to everyone who knew him. Especially Lisa, who had taken it hardest of all.
It was odd. Will was considering Dal as it was one of the best schools in the Country, and he would be relatively close to Andrew who went to the University of New Brunswick. The temptation was of course to go to UNB as well, but Andrew and Will had both decided that education came first.
"The girls are bonus credits," Brody replied, finding the hockey highlights and shifting to watch them. The Stanley cup playoffs were in full swing and it seemed every other channel had a viewpoint or another on who was going to bring home Lord Stanley's cup.
"Typical," Will replied, scrubbing a particularly charbroiled pot that had suffered at the hands of French Canadian cuisine. Brody was an excellent cook, however he seemed to enjoy making dishes as dirty as possible just to watch Will scrub them.
He had just picked up the scouring brush when a gentle tapping at the door made him grin like a schoolboy. Andrew was early, and Will could barely contain his excitement as he wandered over to the door and threw it open.
His jaw hit the floor.
The little old woman standing on the doorstep admonishing the taxi driver carrying a collection of bags, turned to give him a warm smile. "I was worried I had the wrong address," she said, peering again at the numbers on the door to be sure.
Will was in shock; he gripped onto the door, his jaw working like a wet fish as he stared at her. "What are you doing here?" he asked incredulously.
Brody, still in his underwear after getting up, smacked his lips and walked into the hallway to see who was at the door. He gave Will a puzzled look as he walked up behind him.
The old woman gave Brody a considering look before she pursed her lips. "Come now, William, don't leave me standing on the doorstep all day," she said, already pushing past him and motioning for the taxi driver to deposit her bags in the hall. "It was a long flight and I could use a cup of tea."
Will nodded, his eyes still wide as he moved on automatic towards the kitchen, plugging in the kettle and fishing down a couple of mugs. His grandmother, the iron matriarch of his family: when she spoke, all trembled. She was supposed to be safely five-thousand-odd miles away, not standing in the hallway with his half-naked roommate.
She had paid the driver, who looked blessedly relieved to be allowed to leave as he scuttled out of the door and made for his cab as fast as he could, leaving the three of them alone together.
Will turned back to her, setting the mugs down on the table. "What are you doing here?" he asked. Then, realizing he sounded rude, he quickly added, "Not that it isn't good to see you, mind."
Old Mrs. Carter pursed her lips, eyeing the mugs suspiciously. "You've been here too long if you think that's how you make a cup of tea," she said, pulling off her coat and handing it to a surprised Brody to hang up. She looked at Brody a moment, "You really should put some trousers on, before you catch a cold." The way she said it, she sounded so maternal and Brody blushed as he wandered downstairs to the laundry room.
Mrs. Carter walked into the kitchen and liberated the two mugs from Will and began searching for a teapot. "It was a snap decision," she said, picking up a tea towel to wipe the dust off of the teapot. "I was out for a walk last week and saw a sale on flights in the travel agent's; well, I couldn't turn down the price. It gave me a chance to come and visit my boys."
Will nodded, still in shock. "I see," he said slowly.
"Oh, don't worry," Mrs. Carter said, catching his eye as she deposited two fresh teabags into the pot. "I'll be staying with your father and he'll be picking me up in about an hour."
"Here?" Will asked, starting in surprise.
"Of course," Mrs. Carter said as if that should be obvious. "But I wanted to see how you were keeping yourself, first." She looked around here at the neat house, the freshly washed dishes and finally settled on him, "I can see you're taking good care of yourself."
"I try," Will replied, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, glancing as Brody emerged from the laundry room wearing a clean pair of jeans and a Clash tee-shirt. Will caught sight of it, his eyes widened and he shook his head desperately.
Brody gave him a confused look and looked down at himself, not seeing anything wrong with what he was wearing.
Old Mrs. Carter was busy pouring hot water into the pot, so Will took the opportunity to quickly walk across to Brody and hiss into his ear, "She's a monarchist!"
Brody looked down at the tee-shirt again and sighed dramatically, returning to the laundry room muttering something derogatory about the English.
Will turned back to the kitchen, "It's nice to see you..." he said hesitantly. "How long are you staying?"
"Just two weeks," old Mrs. Carter replied, pouring the tea into the two mugs. "I felt like taking a break, checking up to make sure you are doing ok for yourself." She handed him one of the mugs and smiled warmly as she sat down at the table, "How is school going for you?"
"Well," Will admitted, sitting down across the table from her. "Exams are coming up, and I've been teaching in the mornings."
"That's nice," Mrs. Carter said with a nod as she blew lightly on the surface of her mug. "I always felt you would make a good teacher."
Will gave her a quick nod. She was the reason he was able to live alone in Canada. She was adamant that he finish his education and her monthly cheques paid his rent and allowed him buy food and clothing. It was all hinging on the condition that he worked hard at school, and despite a really hard year in mathematics, he had pulled in straight A's.
"Have you spoken to your father?" The question was probing, as if she were feeling the ground ahead of her, gauging his reaction to it. She asked him the same question every time she spoke to him on the phone and his answer was always the same.
"No." He kept his tone decidedly neutral, not wanting to dig up the old pain that lay there. He was happily independent; he was looking at a bright future and he didn't really want to think about the darkness of the past.
"You really should, you know," the old woman pressed. "At the end of the day he is still your father, and despite all his faults he loves you."
Will stood up and walked to the sink, "I'd rather not get into it again." He didn't; he hated this conversation, it always left him feeling depressed.
"I understand." The way she said that, he knew she didn't. To her it was a simple train of logic: a father loved his son and visa versa. But then she didn't know the full story. Even after a year and a half, he still didn't have the heart to tell her that he was gay. It would disappoint her, and Will just didn't want that on his conscience.
Brody returned wearing a more respectable `I am Canadian' shirt, his mild protest at Will's instance that he take off the Clash one. And Will shot him a look of thanks.
"And how is Mr. Levesque?" she asked, turning to Brody. Over the last year, Mrs. Carter and Brody had often talked to great lengths about Will and they had formed a quiet friendship.
"Just fine, Mrs. Carter," Brody replied with an incline of his head as he took a seat. "Just finished school and looking forward to summer."
"Chasing all those young girls again, I bet," Mrs. Carter said with a wink at him. "One day one of them will slip a ring on your finger and then what'll you do?"
"Tijuana," Brody and Will replied at the same time, causing both to chuckle at the inside joke. It was common knowledge that should any of their circle of friends find himself in the unfortunate condition of marriage, the extraction team would rescue the poor individual and whisk him off to Tijuana for immediate rehabilitation.
Mrs. Carter looked at both of them in some confusion, but chose not to ask.
They all looked up in some surprise when the door rattled open as Andrew let himself in. He had a broad grin on his face and a pair of skiing sunglasses on. The young Canadian grinned in his customary lopsided manner as he yawned expressively.
"Sorry I'm late," he remarked, not seeing Mrs. Carter seated at the table as he made to cross to Will. "Mom wanted to talk this morning, you know how she is..."
He paused, seeing Will back up a step, and followed Will's glance to the corner, "Hello," he commented in mild surprise upon seeing the stranger.
"My grandmother," Will said nervously.
Andrew nodded, turning to her and extending his hand, "Andrew Highmore."
Mrs. Carter shook the hand lightly, "So you're the Andrew Highmore I have heard so much about."
Will nearly dropped his mug of tea. She knew? Of course she knew, his Aunt Majella knew about Andrew and she couldn't keep her mouth shut about any juicy gossip, especially not something as large as...
"I'm honoured," Andrew said with a confident smile, stepping back beside Will and wrapping an arm around his boyfriend's waist possessively.
Old Mrs. Carter's eyes swept down to the arm and back up to Andrew, "I heard you were looking after my grandson; it's good to see he is in safe hands."
"Always," Andrew reassured firmly, a warm smile spreading across his face as his sparkling eyes lit up happily.
Will got the impression there was more being communicated between the two than was being said. Old Mrs. Carter was checking Andrew's suitability, and Andrew in turn was making his intentions and his feelings very plain with his actions. It was like an old-fashioned marriage arrangement, and Will wondered if he should be the one buying a ticket to Tijuana.
"We should sit down for dinner one night this week," old Mrs. Carter stated flatly. "I'd like to get to know you a bit better. And William and I need to talk about a few things."
Will was dreading that conversation. He was already beginning to feel very uncomfortable with the situation. But with Andrew's hand steadying him he could draw upon that strength. He'd missed being able to do that; Andrew had a natural ability to calm Will with the simplest touch.
There was the sound of another car door in the driveway, and Will wondered if everyone was running early that morning. He slipped out of Andrew's grip and took a step away as the door was knocked-on once, and banged open as the Major didn't wait to be invited in.
It was like a cold chill had descended over the house even though it was the middle of May. Will shivered, and glanced at Andrew, who had immediately squared his shoulders and had taken a step to put himself between the Major and Will. Even after a year and a half Andrew was still overprotective.
Brody glanced up at the door lazily. "I thought it was polite to wait to be let into another person's house," he commented dryly.
The major ignored Brody completely and his eyes swept over Andrew in disgust before they focused on old Mrs. Carter, "Mother, I'll be waiting in the car." And with that he turned and left again.
Will shivered involuntarily as he thrust his hands into his pockets. "Well, that made my day," he commented, his voice laced with sarcasm.
Old Mrs. Carter set her mug aside and stood up, "Could you fetch my coat, Brody dear?" she asked as she motioned to her bags. "And could someone give me a hand loading these into the car?"
Will had no immediate desire to see the Major again, but he and Andrew wrestled the bags out to the Bronco and loaded them into the back as the Major ignored them completely, his hands gripping the wheel and his eyes staring directly ahead.
Once they had left, Will felt Andrew's arms wrap themselves around him and his chin rest against the nape of Will's neck. "You okay?" he asked in concern.
Will pressed himself back into the embrace. "I am now," he replied honestly.
"Ever have the urge to reach across and snap someone's suspenders?" Andrew asked mopping up a stray bit of egg yoke with a piece of toast.
Denny's was crowded, as it often was, with the breakfast crowd, the waitresses rushing between the tables with huge plates piled high with pancakes, eggs and bacon. It was the Mecca of anyone searching for a decent breakfast, the hearty sort that made people feel good and turned even the most docile of men into a carnivore. Andrew loved it.
Will was his usual distracted self, holding onto a cup of coffee and staring thoughtfully out of the window at Innes Road and the traffic whisking along it. Andrew always found that side of Will fascinating: what went through that mind when he stared off into space? `The consummate dreamer' as one of his professors had stated when describing one of the great poets, Andrew couldn't remember which one. The description seemed oddly fitting for Will who always seemed lost to his own thoughts.
"So I got up this morning and discovered my mother had turned green," Andrew casually stated as he reached across to steal Will's last remaining sausage; again Will didn't react.
"Well, I was a little worried, but then I realized we're French... well, half-French, so supposed to be green..." He began to laugh as Will nodded at him absently.
Will started, "Huh?" He blinked as his mind processed the last few statements Andrew had made, "Green? French?"
"I was kidding," Andrew said, finishing off the abducted sausage and grinning when Will realized Andrew hadn't ordered any sausages.
He gave Andrew one of those accusing looks as he flashed him that shy smile of his and Andrew grinned back, daring him to say something.
Will shrugged, returning to his coffee and pushing the plate of untouched hash-browns into the center of the table for Andrew to finish them off. "You're going to get fat," he said with a satisfied grin.
Andrew shook his head, "I exercise too much. So that was your infamous grandmother, was it?"
Will shuddered. "There is a reason they call her `The Indomitable Mrs. Carter,' he said, catching the waitress as she went past and asking her for a refill on his coffee.
"So that's where you get it from," Andrew said, grinning. Teasing Will was a favourite pastime shared by all of Will's close friends. "I always wondered, because you certainly don't take after the Major."
Will shrugged. "We're more alike than either of us would care to admit," he replied setting his mug down. "But my gran is a force of nature; do you know she once berated the mayor of my home town for an hour when he proposed building a new bypass too close to her house? I swear the poor man was cowering when she laid into him." He chuckled at the memory.
"Did they build the bypass in the end?" Andrew asked, finishing off Will's hash-browns and eyeing his untouched toast hungrily.
"Did they heck," Will replied, sliding the toast over the table as well, shaking his head; it always amazed him how much Andrew could pack away without ever gaining a pound. Will knew that Lisa was highly jealous of that, even though she would never admit it.
"That's cool," Andrew said, suddenly giving Will a strange look.
"What?" Will said in confusion, looking around.
"I've really missed you," Andrew said, his eyes softening and enveloping Will in a warm feeling.
Will blushed, "I... err... missed you too." He always got so self-conscious when Andrew looked at him like that. It was like he was the center of the world, still; after all this time Andrew loved him.
Andrew gestured with his bit of toast to the tie and suspenders Will was wearing, "What's with the get-up on a Saturday?"
Will set his mug down on the table. "I thought you liked the tie," he said, trying his best to sound hurt, despite the fact that he was grinning.
Andrew wasn't buying that act. "You're trying to seduce me," he observed as the waitress refilling Will's coffee started. He looked up at her and shrugged, "I'm going to let him, I think."
Will gave Andrew a scandalized look. "You just love shocking people," he accused as the waitress beat a hasty retreat from their table. He stirred some sugar into his mug and shook his head, "I think you're an exhibitionist."
Andrew responded with a scandalized look of his own, "I am not. Besides, I don't want other people looking at you, is that so wrong?"
Will took a long breath and exhaled, "You know, one of these days you're going to get me into trouble."
"That's because you're such a goodie-two-shoes." Andrew reached out to tussle Will's hair, "You like dangerous men."
"Dangerous?" Will blinked looking at Andrew, "You're about as dangerous as a bunny rabbit with its buck teeth removed."
"I can be dangerous," Andrew protested, knowing full well Will was right. He decided to change the subject before Will zinged him again, "How's the teaching going?"
Will stretched. "Can we get out of here first?" he asked as he looked around. "It's a beautiful day and I want to go into the city."
Andrew nodded, "Sure, just let me settle up."
Will shook his head, "No, it's okay, I got it..."
Andrew turned back to Will and gave him a look, "I invited you out, I'm paying."
Will crossed his arms defiantly, "No, that's fine, I'll get it."
Andrew nodded his head, "If you think I am going to let you pay for a breakfast you hardly touched..." He chuckled, "Fine, how about you pay for supper?"
Will considered the compromise and nodded back, "Done, but no MacDonald's; I'm taking you to a real restaurant."
"You've become quite stubborn," Andrew said as he paid the bill and the two of them were walking out to his car.
"I had the best teacher," Will replied, hopping into the Mustang's passenger seat, relaxing into the seat. The Mustang was an old friend and so typically Andrew that Will sighed in contentment as he grinned over at Andrew, "You know I love this car."
Andrew gave him a suspicious look, "I'm not teaching you how to drive."
Will suddenly broke out into a grin, and Andrew groaned inwardly; if he had just kept his mouth shut Will wouldn't have thought anymore about it. But in his rush to say no he had reinforced the idea bouncing around in Will's overactive mind.
"I'm not teaching you," Andrew repeated. "Not in my car, no way." Will's grin grew broader, "No, it ain't happening."
Andrew sighed, knowing full well if Will asked him he wouldn't be able to say no. That was the way it worked: he could say no as long as Will didn't ask him directly; but that was the problem, Andrew hadn't actually found a way to say no to Will when he really wanted something.
"You wanted to go downtown," Andrew said, hurriedly starting his precious car, turning out onto the road and heading towards the heart of the city.
Will chewed his lip considering if he should ask or not; there was that fearful look in Andrew's eye, the one that said he was imagining a horrible doom descending over his beloved Mustang in the form of a mad British driver-in-training. It was always fun to watch the normally unflappable Andrew Highmore sweat; it was so rare that he reacted like that.
"Where are we going in town?" Andrew asked, checking as he changed lanes.
"I just felt like taking a walk," Will replied. "Somewhere where we can do it without all the funny looks we normally get."
Andrew sighed, "You'd think they'd get used to it." He shook his head, "Nobody's giving you grief for it, are they?"
Will smiled. "I'm more than capable of taking care of myself you know," he replied. "I still get the odd snide comment; but since Todd Gadreau graduated, no one's really tried anything with me. I think they still remember the black eye I gave him."
"Slugger," Andrew said with a smirk as he saw a parking spot in the Byward Market and turned the car into it. The two young men climbed out and started to walk up towards the American Embassy. There was a nice little park back there where they held the Tulip Festival each year, and Andrew knew it was one of Will's favourite places to walk.
"I'm hardly a tough guy," Will said, his hands sliding into his pockets as he ambled along, nodding to little old ladies as he walked. A perfect young gentleman out for a walk on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and Andrew had this sudden urge to...
He grabbed Will by the arm and pulled the protesting Brit close against him. Try as hard as Will liked to look prim and proper, Andrew took malicious delight in making him blush. And after a moment's hesitation Will wrapped an arm around Andrew's waist as they both walked, Will's head resting against Andrew's shoulder.
They had earned themselves a few strange looks as they went, but nobody said anything-- why bother? The sound of laughter caused both young men to look up at the balcony of the infamous Lookout Pub. A group of men leaning on the rail of the gay bar catcalled and whistled at them; a young man with a strange white plume in his hair flashed them a thumbs-up, a broad grin at their open defiance of conventional society.
"I think they like you," Will said as they kept on.
"What's not to like?" Andrew replied. "I have the ultimate accessory, a hot boyfriend."
"Oh, stop that," Will complained, turning a shade of red. "Now you're just being sickening."
Andrew chuckled, "All right, I'll stop. You were going to tell me about teaching?"
Will nodded thoughtfully, "I like it; it's fun and challenging. I've been doing it since Christmas, part of the co-op program in school." He shrugged, "Good batch of students, though I wonder how much they are really listening to me."
He mused on that as they climbed the broad steps and crossed the road to enter the park. Andrew guided him towards a patch of green near a tree, where they both sat down. Will stretched out and laid his head instinctively on Andrew's stomach as Andrew laid an arm across his chest.
Will yawned loudly, "It's good to have you home."
Andrew absently played with Will's hair as he watched a group of teenagers playing with a Frisbee. "I'm just glad we made it through the year," he said after a pause.
"Why wouldn't we?" Will asked, leaning back to look up at him, trying to read those expressive blue eyes.
"It was a long year; I thought I was going to go insane when I couldn't come up for Spring break."
"You were studying," Will replied.
"Still, I made a decision this year that I don't want to do it again." Andrew sounded resolute, a stubborn man. Will knew when he decided something nothing would shift him.
"You're not giving up school..." Will sounded a little fearful.
"No," Andrew said squeezing Will reassuringly, "it's just I don't want to be that far away from you again. I applied to the University of Ottawa and got in."
Will lowered his eyes, "But you wanted so badly to get out of Ottawa. I don't want to hold you back..."
Andrew chuckled, "Will, I can study pre-law anywhere, and since you're here I want to be here with you. Besides, I was going to take law school here anyway, so why not?"
Will hid his sudden unease behind a mask of happiness. He didn't want to hold Andrew back, not at all. Andrew was doing this to be with him, he knew that, he should be grateful for the sacrifice. But all he could think about was that it was too much to give up for him.
Andrew nudged him. "Stop that," he admonished with a half smile.
"Stop what?" Will asked.
"Thinking you're not worth it," Andrew replied as he leaned down to kiss Will's forehead. "Ottawa's a better school anyway, and just think of how happy my mom'll be when she finds out."
Will shuddered, "Oh God, I bet she'll be over the moon."
"She's definitely going to take it better than you are," Andrew said, still smiling. He picked up the end of Will's tie and wrapped it once around his hand, "You know, I definitely like this..."
Will snatched the end of his tie back, turning bright red. "Stop that," he said, his cheeks burning. "It's not a toy."
Andrew just grinned, "By my watch it's been about five months, fourteen hours and...ohh, twenty-odd minutes."
Will shook his head, blushing a brighter shade of red, "We haven't had supper yet; hell, it's not even noon... Brody's back at mine, and unless you feel like explaining to your mom why you are trying to sneak me into your room, I think you should cool your jets."
Andrew's eyes sparkled.
"Bloody hell," Will said, feeling his resolve caving in.