Silence pierced the air, broken only by the soft flutter of the kitchen’s deep purple curtains. The cool breeze ruffled the hair of the two shocked boys. The sound of a cup falling caused them both to jump, breaking the stillness. “Sweet mother of Mary!” the boy with round, wire frame glasses cried, putting his hand to his heart.
“I second that,” Adam laughed, letting out the breath he had been holding and leaning back.
“H-hey,” the boy exclaimed, his hand moving, presumably, to grab anything that could be used as a weapon. “W-who are you? How did you get in here?”
Adam gestured behind him. “I dunno, maybe through the open window?”
“… Right… uh, Why are you in my house?”
“Just thought I’d pop in for a bit of tea. It’s very cold out.” Adam smirked mischievously.
As the boy swung his arm out from behind him, Adam held up the silver dinner plate he was holding, as a shield from… “… Is that a baguette?” The boy glanced down, then back at Adam. “Hey! You were stealing that plate!”
Adam looked down at the plate. “Ah… I was thinking about it, yes. Hadn’t decided. By the way, what are you doing here?” He gave the boy a quizzical look. “I thought everyone had left to tend to an ailing great-aunt… or something.”
The boy did a double take. “Excuse me?! How do you know that? You’ve been watching us?”
“No, I just came in here completely blind. Thought I’d just wing it.”
The boy rolled his eyes. “And how did that careful planning work out for you, Mr. Sass?”
“Mr. Sass,” Adam laughed. “That’s quite good, actually. I like it. My name is actually Adam, though… And you are…”
The boy hesitated, eyeing Adam warily. “… Tobias. Tobias Julius Crane.”
“That’s a nice name,” Adam smiled. “Very fitting. Well then,” he continued, setting the plate down. “I suppose I’ll be off then.” As he turned to leave, his stomach let out a fearsome growl of protest. He winced and mumbled, “You couldn’t have waited a few minutes?”
Tobias slowly lowered his baguette, watching Adam with sudden pity. Adam sighed. He hated being pitied. “Why don’t you sit down,” Tobias gestured at the table, more of a request than an actual question. “It’s nearly breakfast anyway, and I wouldn’t want to eat alone.”
“No, it’s fine, really,” Adam protested. His stomach had other things to say. “Shhh,” he hissed at it. “Sit,” Tobias commanded, pointing at the chair with the baguette. Adam looked at him in surprise and mumbled, “Yes, mother.” He shuffled meekly to the chair and sat, uncharacteristically uncomfortable.
“To answer your question,” Tobias chatted as he cooked. “I’m here because Aunt Etta… isn’t exactly fond of me. They thought it best I stay here, so as to not cause ‘unnecessary discomfort’.”
“Ah,” Adam nodded. “Family issues. I understand that.”
“… Do you not talk to your family?”
Adam stared down at his hands. “I… actually I don’t have any family anymore. I mean, I hear my mother had a sister, but I never knew her. It was just me and my parents… And now it’s just me.” Adam heard his voice saying these things, puzzled at how natural it felt. He’d never talked to anyone like this, mostly because he never had anyone after his mother died. He hated being pitied, and yet he felt the need to tell this stranger his pitiful story.
“Your eggs are burning.”
“Oh!” Tobias quickly flipped the eggs onto a plate. Adam laughed lightly, turning to watch him work. It wasn’t long before he started noticing things about Tobias. His hands were small and soft looking, with long, graceful fingers. His body was slender, not neglected but not overworked either. His dark hair fell to just above his shoulders, still messy from sleep. As he turned to serve breakfast, his clear blue eyes met Adam’s, and his cheeks turned a light pink. “U-um… here,” he stammered, handing Adam the plate. Adam smiled sweetly and took it, nodding his thanks.
As Tobias sat down across from him, Adam looked around, a strange, warm feeling filling his chest. It had been so long since he felt it that it wasn’t until he finished his plate that recognition finally struck him. He felt like he was at home, with a family. Sitting in that kitchen with Tobi, Adam Grey felt something he hadn’t felt in over ten years: Love. “Crap,” he mumbled to himself as he washed his plate.
This was the beginning of a whole new life for Adam, and, if he was being honest, he didn’t mind one bit.
The pale blue light of dawn cloaked the small bedroom, outlining young Tobi, sitting upright in his bed and listening carefully. He was sure he had heard something. He was about to dismiss it as just being skittish, from being alone in the house for the first time.
Then he heard it. A small rustling, somewhere in the house, then the clinking of dishes. It was coming from the kitchen. Had his family come home early? Tobi grabbed his glasses and slowly crept out of his room. As he made his way down the hall and through the living room, the sounds continued. He convinced himself it was his mother, simply making breakfast. But where was everyone else?
When he entered the kitchen, Tobi froze with a small gasp. The tall young man rummaging in the cupboards was certainly not his mother. The stranger heard Tobi’s gasp and turned around. They both stood stone still, staring at eachother in shock. The silence was broken when a cup the stranger had left too close to the edge fell off the counter, chipping on the rim. Tobi jumped and cried out, “Sweet mother of Mary!”
“I second that,” the stranger laughed, wrapping an arm around his stomach and leaning against the counter. Broken out of his trance, Tobi reached behind himself for something to use as a weapon. “H-hey!” he chatted, trying feebly to distract the young man from his movements. “W-who are you? How did you get in here?”
The stranger raised an eyebrow and pointed a thumb behind himself. “I dunno, maybe through the open window?”
“… Right…” Tobi cursed himself internally. That was a stupid question. “Uh, why are you in my house?” Yes, Tobi, because he’s totally going to tell you exactly what he’s doing there.
“Just thought I’d pop in for a bit of tea. It’s very cold out.” His mischievous smirk made Tobi’s heart flutter a bit. Alarmed at that, Tobi wrapped his hand around something that felt like a handle, swinging it around to point at the stranger. In defense, the young man held up the Crane family’s heirloom, a silver dinner plate embossed with apples.
“… Is that a baguette?” the stranger asked, tilting his head. Tobi looked down to see that yes, that was exactly what he had grabbed as a weapon. Pushing down embarrassment, he looked back at the stranger. “Hey!” he accused. “You were stealing that plate!”
The young man looked down and nodded slightly. “Ah… I was thinking about it, yes. Hadn’t decided.” It had been propped up in the top of the display cabinet, which Tobi had never been able to reach. He glanced at the cabinet, then the table chairs. None of the chairs had been moved, not even a centimeter. Had the stranger gotten it without climbing? This guy had to be at nearly two meters tall!
“By the way,” he continued, looking at Tobi curiously. “What are you doing here? I thought everyone had left to tend to an ailing great-aunt… or something.”
Tobi blinked in shock and shook his head. “Excuse me?! How do you know that? You’ve been watching us?”
“No, I just came in here completely blind. Thought I’d just wing it,” the stranger replied with thick sarcasm.
Tobi rolled his eyes. Out of all the people that could break into his house, of course it had to be someone with massive attitude. Well, two can play that game. “And how did that careful planning work out for you, Mr. Sass?”
“Mr. Sass,” the stranger’s face lit up as he laughed, and Tobi couldn’t help but feel a bit proud. “That’s quite good, actually. I like it. My name is actually Adam, though… And you are…”
Tobi hesitated, studying the young man. He knew he shouldn’t trust a person who had broken into his house, and had apparently been watching it at least since last night. Yet, something about Adam felt… safe. “… Tobias,” he decided to say. “Tobias Julius Crane.”
“That’s a nice name,” Adam smiled, and Tobi’s heart fluttered again. “Very fitting. Well then,” he continued, setting the plate down. “I suppose I’ll be off then.” As he turned to leave, a low grumbling sound erupted from his direction, causing him to pause and mutter something. Tobi felt his eyes widen, a sudden ache growing in his chest. All at once, he understood. Adam really had been looking for tea, and likely something to eat with it. Tobi found himself wondering how long it had been since Adam had had a proper meal.
Tobi’s pity quickly turned into determination. “Why don’t you sit down,” he told Adam, waving a hand towards the table. “It’s nearly breakfast anyway, and I wouldn’t want to eat alone.” Adam turned around, his personality seeming to completely shift. He suddenly looked shy, almost meek. “No, it’s fine, really,” Adam protested. In contrast, his stomach let out another growl, even louder than the last. Tobi narrowed his eyes.
“Sit,” he commanded, jabbing towards the table with his baguette. Adam’s eyes widened in surprise. “Yes, mother,” he mumbled, making his way to the table sheepishly. Satisfied with that response, Tobi put the baguette down and turned to start cooking.
Uncomfortable with silence, Tobi decided to chat as he worked. “To answer your question,” he told Adam. “I’m here because Aunt Etta…” He paused, unwilling to tell a stranger that his Great Aunt had disowned him for liking boys. “…isn’t exactly fond of me. They thought it best I stay here, so as to not cause ‘unnecessary discomfort’.”
“Ah,” Adam’s smooth voice held a note of sympathy. “Family issues. I understand that.”
Tobi tilted his head, curious. “… Do you not talk to your family?” he asked tentatively, unsure if he was being too personal.
“I… actually I don’t have any family anymore.” Shocked, Tobi turned to look at him. “I mean, I hear my mother had a sister, but I never knew her. It was just me and my parents… And now it’s just me.” Tobi felt a dull ache in his chest, and suddenly had the urge to hug Adam, though they had only just met.
“Your eggs are burning.”
“Oh!” Tobi shook his head and went back to work making breakfast. As he finished up, he let his mind wander. He wondered how Adam could seem so carefree after such a hard past. What had happened to his family? How long had he been alone? Tobi thought of the playful smirk that seemed to be default for Adam, the one that made his heart flutter and his mind spin. Thinking about it made him feel dizzy, so he shook it out of his mind and finished plating.
Holding a plate in each hand, Tobi turned around and found his eyes connecting with Adam’s. He felt his face flush and looked away quickly. “Here,” he said, handing Adam a plate. Adam flashed the sweetest smile Tobi had ever seen and nodded his thanks.
As Tobi sat down across from Adam, he found his mind wandering again. They sat in silence, but it felt comfortable and natural. Tobi kept finding his eyes watching Adam as he asked himself more questions. How old was Adam? What had his childhood been like? Tobi looked at Adam’s eyes again, and noticed that they were different colors. Had they been like that before? Why was he only just now noticing? He remembered Adam’s story, and imagined that he could see it in his eyes. What else was hiding behind them?
As they cleaned up breakfast, Tobias Crane resolved that he would spend the rest of his life finding the answers to these questions.