Past, Not Prologue

Little story brought about by a picture posted on the Torquere Social LJ by GS Wiley… Enjoy! 🙂

* * *

“My God,” Reggie said softly, just enough surprise behind the words that Adam looked up. “I can’t believe I still have this.”

“What’s that, Reg?” It was a good question, Adam figured, because he couldn’t imagine anything interesting coming out of the ragged old box Reggie had discovered in the back of the hall closet earlier that day. It really was ragged, and while it was of the right size and shape, Adam doubted it had ever held shoes. Not shoes anyone would want to wear, in any case.

“A memory,” Reggie answered as Adam moved closer, close enough to see that Reg’s fingers were trembling just slightly as they held something small. Thin. “A memory of a beginning.”

Adam leaned closer, then found himself smiling, lowering himself down beside Reggie on the floor in front of their coffee table. “Oh my God,” he murmured, reaching out to take the photograph from Reggie’s hand. “I always remember you as being older than that when we met.”

It was true. Somehow, in Adam’s mind, the young, lean boy he’d admired that day had become taller, more muscular in his memory. More like the Reggie of five years earlier, rather than fifteen.

“You know,” Adam mused, “I didn’t even know your dad was there, or that he was getting me in that picture. I probably would have freaked, because just look at me.” He pointed at his younger self, sitting in the sand watching Reggie and Tara standing there with little wavelets lapping at their toes, the horizon stretching before them. Azure sky and sapphire sea and so dark, the both of them, compared to the pallor of his own young skin.

“I look so sad,” Adam added quietly, one finger moving slowly over the image of himself. “So alone. And I envied you so much that day, Reg. God.”

Reggie turned quickly, abandoning the box and whatever else might be in it, and Adam saw a matching sorrow in his eyes. “I’m pretty sure you really were sad and alone,” Reggie said simply, but his hand was on Adam’s shoulder and that made it a little bit better. “After what happened to your sister…”

Adam nodded. Short and sharp. He didn’t like talking about it, even years later, but there it was. It still hurt, but not as much as it had then. Not as much as was clear in his young, curved spine, hunched a bit as though he could protect himself from the pain, even while trying to be tough, as boys did try.

“Seeing you and Tara that day, so close… it reminded me of me and Annie, even though Tara’s not your twin.” Adam smiled a little as Reggie shifted closer, just enough for Adam to feel the heat of Reg all along his side. “I think… I was only a month out of the hospital in this picture.” And Annie had been in the ground even longer, but Adam wasn’t going to say so. Reggie already knew that, after all.

Reggie nodded. Adam saw it from the corner of his eye. “I didn’t even notice you then, you know,” Reggie said, and Adam knew that, too. “Not until later that night, when you were following us around. It sort of scared the crap out of me. I thought… well, nobody knew about me back then, and then there you were, all of a sudden. This long, lanky boy with messy dark hair and you kept staring like you wanted me. Totally freaked me out.”

Adam couldn’t help a small laugh. He just couldn’t. “It was more like I wanted to be you. With a sister who was still alive and parents who didn’t look as wounded as I felt. It wasn’t until later that I wanted you. After our parents met and became friends. And it wasn’t really until that second summer that I admitted it, even to myself.”

“You had a lot going on,” Reggie answered, pulling the photo from Adam’s fingers and setting it on the coffee table. “Your whole world had changed in the blink of an eye. It makes sense that you would fight even more changes.”

Adam smiled a little and leaned against Reggie’s side, enjoying the weight of Reg’s arm over his shoulders. “Yeah. But neither one of us could really fight it for long.” His smile got a bit bigger, deeper. “I still say Tara knew before we did, though. Or at least… she was willing to say something. If it wasn’t for her, we’d probably still be dancing around each other now.”

Reggie laughed and pulled Adam closer to his side. “True enough. If it hadn’t been for Tara being such an interfering pain in the ass, I’m pretty sure it would have taken more than five years for us to man-up and admit what we wanted.”

“Have I mentioned lately how much I love your little sister?” Adam asked, deliberately pushing the not-so-happy memories away and letting the rest take their place. “Because, seriously? If she hadn’t tricked us onto that sail boat and ditched us on that little island, I’m pretty sure I’d be in Los Angeles right now.”

“Don’t say that, man,” Reggie ordered, sounding just a little bit gruff, all of a sudden. “You know… if you’d really tried to leave, I would have chased after you. It might have taken me a while to accept who I was, but I would never have let you go without a fight. Not once I knew you.”

Adam smiled, his own arm wrapping around Reggie’s waist. “Really?” Because, yeah, he kind of knew that, but sometimes a guy just wanted to hear it.

“Really.” Blunt. Simple. “Not when I was fourteen and petrified, and not when I was eighteen and still afraid of myself. Afraid of you and what you’d do if you ever found out how much I wanted you. So even if Tara hadn’t abandoned us that day, I would have gone after you. Found you. And we still would have ended up right here.” Reggie chuckled. “It probably wouldn’t be ten years tomorrow, but I doubt it’d be much less.”

“So, we’re really gonna do this,” Adam said after a minute or so of comfortable silence. “God, it feels… I don’t know. Weird, I guess. The good kind of weird, but you know.” He shrugged a little. “Still weird.”

“Yeah,” Reggie answered, pulling away and getting to his feet. “We’re gonna do it, Adam. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be well and truly stuck with each other.”

Adam laughed and took the hand Reg was holding out to him. “Kind of feels like we always were,” he admitted as Reggie pulled him to his feet. “Even when we were scared to say so. I guess it won’t hurt anything to make it official, though.”

Reg snorted and pulled Adam tight against him, and Adam didn’t fight at all. Instead, he wrapped his arms around Reggie and held on just as hard.

“This whole thing was your idea,” Reggie reminded him, the words tickling Adam’s ear. “Don’t make me regret saying yes, asshole.”

“I don’t know,” Adam said a little while later, when they stood on the back deck of the beach house watching the waves roll in. “You said that a lot last night, Reg. ‘Yes! Asshole! God, yes! Love your asshole!’ I don’t think it was regret I kept hearing in your voice.”

Just like that, they were laughing, the bittersweet memories of that very first summer fading a bit.

He would have that picture framed, Adam decided much, much later, as the full moon shone through the window and painted Reggie’s body with streaks of silver. He would have it framed and hang it on the wall with one from the summer Tara had made them own up, and whichever picture they decided they liked best from the ceremony the next day.

It would be their wall of beginnings, and somehow, that was fit.

Adam was entirely sure that Annie would approve.


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