“I told you to stay away from the back. Someone will see you.”
“You will. How else are you supposed to find me?”
Wade sighed. “You’re going to get caught. And that’s not going to be my fault.”
“If you say so.” Addon emerged, head-first, from under a woody jumble of dirty shipping crates. “All clear?”
“If it wasn’t, you’d be in danger, stat.”
“All clear, then.” Addon stood up and did a complimentary quick pants-brushing. He punched the side of Wade’s arm. “Love you too.”
Wade had never actually said the L word, in hopes that Addon always meant it as a joke. And while it was true that whenever Addon used that word, it wasn’t exactly with great sobriety, the two were hardly ever in situations they allowed themselves to think of as somber. Every circumstance personally encountered, if they were being honest with themselves, was incredibly depressing; if they viewed everything as it came they’d be dead within a few hours.
So Addon, with Wade in tow, preferred to look on the bright side. When there was one.
“I--I have this for you.” Wade withdrew his left hand out from under his jacket and handed a packet to Addon.
“Ah, a delicacy,” Addon said in a poor French accent (he’d never been outside of London), sitting down on a stray wooden packing case. He patted one next to him. “Dine with me?” He started unwrapping the soft brown paper encasing Wade’s evening gift.
“I already ate in the shop.” Still, Wade took a seat next to him and rested his elbows on his knees as he watched Addon’s uncharacteristic slowness in revealing the evening’s dinner. “Oh, I almost forgot--here’s this.” He reached inside his jacket again and pulled out a lukewarm brown-tinted glass bottle, hesitated a moment, then set it on the cracked pavement between the two. “We can share.”
“What is it?” Addon had finally opened up the package to reveal, unsurprisingly, a hunk of crusty bread, a soft apple, and a single piece of pastel pink hard candy in a clear wrapper. “Oho, you got me dessert this time, eh?” He slid his feet forward and laid the paper packaging like a plate on his lap.
“It’s--the drink--um, it’s cola.” A pause. Wade swallowed. “It’s beer.”
“Honesty, we do love to see it.” With a snap, Addon twisted the candy’s wrapping away and popped the sweet between his teeth. “Do you have a bottle opener?”
“Shoot, I forgot.” Wade positioned the heels of his hands against his knees, in a hesitant attempt to stand up. “I’ll go get one from inside.”
“No need.” Addon scooped the bottle up, somehow not disturbing the contents of his dinner, and, turning slightly, set its bottom on a corner of the crate. He slid the edge of the silver ring on his middle finger under its cap and popped it off before Wade could fully realize what he was doing. “Bon appetit.” Addon held the bottle out invitingly. “Oh, and you can swear. More risque than ‘shoot,’ if you want. Full permission.”
Wade frowned. “Where’d you get that?” He took the beer. “The ring, I mean.”
“Ah, it was my dad’s. He believed in vampires. Are you one?” Addon reached over and cupped his hand over Wade’s, waited a moment, then released. “No burn marks, I see. That’s nice. Classy.”
Wade took a slow sip from the bottle. “How come I’ve never noticed it before?”
“Used to be on that chain, under my shirt, y'know? Recently took it off so it could be somewhat lethal if I ever need to, er, quickly determine if someone’s a vampire. You’ve got to watch out for them these days; I hear they’ve started filing their teeth.” Addon’s cheek caved in with the quiet sucking of his candy. “And wearing makeup, too, to disguise their deathly paleness.” He glanced at Wade, who was taking another drink. “Speaking of, when’s the last time you’ve seen sun, buddy? Are you ever not working?”
“It isn’t a choice, Addon.” Wade stared straight ahead, his dark green eyes fixed on the alley wall. “You know that good and damn well. It was the only way to get out.”
“Well, or running away. And nice cursing, by the way.” Addon stuck his tongue out. “Is it pink?”
“Of course it’s pink. It’s a tongue.” Wade sighed and handed over the bottle. “Addon, if I had snuck out, I wouldn’t be able to babysit you--you realize that, right? We’d both be starving, and parentless--”
Addon snapped his fingers. “Don’t say that.” He took a quick swig of beer. “You know I have a mother.”
Wade blew out his cheeks. “You’ve never even met her, Addon. You don’t even know if she’s real! You’ve only seen her in your head, when you’re asleep with the rats and haven’t eaten in god knows how long--”
The bottle hit the alley floor forcibly, shattering on impact, brown wedges of glass mixing with whatever urine-colored liquid was left inside, fizzing out to a mixture that vaguely resembled vomit. Addon swept the food off his lap and stood up. “So we’re making this a classist thing now, hmm? Just because I don’t break my fucking neck working for some pig in a rich person shop all day means you get to invalidate the one single person I can possibly call family?”
Wade’s bottom lip was trembling. He stood up and faced Addon, their same-smelling breaths tingeing the short distance between them with traces of alcohol. “I thought I was your brother.”
“Oh, God, I want to laugh. Christ. Jesus Christ.” Addon turned and kicked the bottom of the narrow brick alley walling them in. “I actually am going to laugh. Give me a moment.” Addon laughed--a bitter sound completely devoid of heart--and spit before turning again to face Wade. “My brother? My brother. Wade, darling, do you actually believe that when I say I love you, I mean it as a brother?” He shook his head. “Christ, you’re stupid.”
“Addon, please, not now--I’m sorry--” Wade tried to back away, but his heel only met shipping crates piled against the wall.
“You’re sorry. You’re sorry. A change of heart; how comforting. What, exactly, are you sorry for?” Addon’s narrowed eyes, a deeper brown than his sun-tanned skin, searched Wade’s face.
Wade swallowed. “I don’t know,” he whispered. “I’m sorry. I hate to see you like this.”
“Like this? Like what?” Addon threw his hands out. “Wade, when I ran away from that ghastly orphanage and you got employed here to get out--something you swore you’d never do--and searched until you found me, brought me food, showed me places to hide--that was as what? My babysitter? My brother? My mother?” He took a step closer.
Wade dug his teeth into his lip to stop it from shaking. “Your friend.”
Addon laughed, a sound as equally heartless as the one before. “My friend.” He exhaled and looked away, then back. “Why are you shaking? Friend.”
“I’m--I’m cold,” Wade said, in a somewhat normal voice. “I’m not used to--to being out here. Like you are. I didn’t expect we’d--I’d--stay this late. I should get going--”
“Oh?” Addon interrupted. He reached inside Wade’s jacket and pulled out a warm brown bottle. “Then what’s this?”
Wade swallowed. “How did you know that was--”
“I pay attention to you, dearest. And your numerous pockets aren’t as subtle as you’d have yourself believe. Wait--” Addon cocked his head, then smiled, much more genuinely than the laughs. “You brought two bottles, yet we still shared.”
It had grown so dark by now that, surely, Addon wouldn’t be able to see the hue of Wade’s cheeks--
“I know you’re blushing,” Addon said quietly, and reached up, ran his hand along the side of Wade’s face. “Christ, you’re so cute. Your eyes are so pretty.” He dropped this beer (it fractured, too), and used his other hand to gently tuck a dark lock behind Wade’s right ear.
“Listen to me.” Addon brought Wade’s head so close to his that their foreheads were touching. “I’m not going to hurt you, Wade. I know what your mother did to you; she’s a terrible, terrible woman. There’s a reason she’s dead. And I get if you don’t want to do this, right now, but you’re blushing; you made us share the bottle even though you didn’t have to; hell, half the clothes I have on belong to you. I have a feeling you do. Want to do this.” Addon stroked Wade’s earlobe with his thumb. “I’m not your mom, though, so I’m going to ask. Do you?”
“Shit.” Close as they were, Wade managed to make his eyes look anywhere but at Addon. “I’m so scared to say yes. I don’t want to ruin this, Add. We’re not even adults yet. I--”
“Hey. Look at me.” Addon breathed in slowly. “It’s been a really long time since anyone kissed me (or, more accurately, since I ever kissed anyone), and since I’m a selfish hedonist who is usually very poor at communication, I’d like for you to answer right now: Can I kiss you?”
“I don’t know,” Wade began, then stopped himself. “No, that’s not true. Yes.” He laid each of his hands over Addon’s. “Yes, you may.”
“Thank Christ, I was afraid you were going to say no.” Their faces drew even closer, then their lips met, Wade’s fingers were curling into Addon’s hair, Addon was grasping the sides of Wade’s face, and their souls opened up. Wade tasted yellow, like beer and flowers and starch and spit; Addon tasted red, like candy and blood and fruit and life.
After an indeterminate amount of time, Wade broke off, half gasping. “Wait, wait, I need a break.” He stumbled his way backwards, towards a crate. “Let me just--sit down--for a second…”
“Fine by me.” Addon bent over, grinning, and picked up the neck of the second dropped bottle. “It’s a shame I did this. Good beer gone to waste.” He threw it to the side, and it shattered further against the alley wall.
“I can get more,” Wade offered, standing up. “It’s--I have the keys.”
Addon continued smiling. “Then what, exactly, are you waiting for?”
Wade smirked and ran over to the rear door. “Back before you know I’m gone,” he promised, and disappeared into the shop.
When he emerged only a few minutes later, three beers hanging from in between four fingers in his left hand, Addon was nowhere in view. “Addie?” Wade called quietly, scanning the nighttime alley.
“Psst. Here.” Wade followed the sound to where it led him: Addon, slumped on the alley floor, in between two hurriedly constructed walls of wooden boxes and one metal trash can. “Step in and close the opening,” he whispered. “I left some crates for you to finish the job.”
“I--okay, but not for long,” Wade cautioned. “I have work tomorrow.” He set the beers lightly on the ground.”
Addon laughed quietly. “Eh? Then why’d you get three bottles?”
Wade’s response was to stack several crates in the opening to their makeshift whatever-it-was, so that, both sitting down, they wouldn’t be easily visible from the outside.
Not that anyone important ever came into this alley, anyway.
Addon had already opened a beer, and Wade brought the other two over and slid down on the wall beside him, setting the bottles to the side. Addon took a good, long swig, before handing the beer to Wade.
“Let’s get drunk,” Addon submitted, and Wade, for perhaps the first time in his life, actually agreed.
In the morning, there they were: The two brown-haired boys, intertwined in each other, empty beer bottles scattered among their feet like glass mice taunting an elephant. In the shop, an aproned, fat, and angry red-faced man would be storming about, furious at his assistant’s tardiness; but in the alley Wade would remain sleeping, far into the morning, his head on Addon’s chest as the latter kissed his love’s curls, softly, and wordlessly asked the sky just what antics they were going to experience next.