Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the plot. All characters belong to the amazing Cornelia Funke

They were three miles out in the Venetian Lagoon in a motorboat when things started to go wrong. To most other people they looked like two boys going on a nighttime ride in a motorboat. They didn't know they had just been to a merry-go-round that was supposed to turn children into adults and adults into children, but it hadn't worked. People passed the boat without a second glance at any of them. Every time they passed a gondola, the black haired boy at the helm freaked. The fifth time this happened, the boy next to him put a hand on his shoulder.

"Scipio" said the brown haired boy. "Stop it. Your father is in Florence and it's the middle of the night"

"Right" said the boy called Scipio.

"Listen to me, Scipio" said his friend. "Everything will be fine"

"Thanks, Prop" said Scipio. "I'm just scared shitless right now"


A few minutes later, all was quiet on the boat, Prosper was looking up at the sky. Scipio sighed, then he started shaking and he veered off course. Prosper's eyes snapped open and he looked over at Scipio. It took Prosper one look at Scipio to freak out. Scipio looked as pale as death and beads appeared on his forehead. In one fluid motion, Prosper was at Scipio's side. Prosper wrapped his heads around Scipio's own and redirected the boat down the canal. Prosper felt Scipio shaking. Prosper stalled the boat.

"I'm taking the helm for a minute?" Prosper asked.

"Prop, I'm fine," said Scipio.

"You looked awful, Scip," said Prosper. "You look like you saw a ghost"

"Thanks ever so" said Scipio.

"Scipio" said Prosper, his voice firm. "You need to rest"

"I'm...I'm...I'm fine" said Scipio. "I...I...I want to...to die"

"I won't let you Scipio," said Prosper. At that moment, Scipio swayed and collapsed.

"Scipio!" Prosper screamed and was beside his friend in an instant.

"I'm fine," said Scipio, shaking his head.

"Prop. I want to die" Scipio forced out.

"Holy mother fucker, Scip" said Prosper.

"Prop, let me go" said Scipio.

"How long has this been going on?" asked Prosper, wrapping a blanket around Scipio.

"Six weeks" said Scipio.

"You shouldn't have come out here today, Scip" said Prosper. "I'm getting you back to the Stella"

"Go the back way," said Scipio. Prosper nodded and restarted the boat and started forward down the canal that would lead to the back of the Stella.


In the Stella, Hornet, Riccio and Mosca were lounging. Then they heard a crash. With Mosca in the lead they ran down the alleyway. Mosca forced the door open and looked down the canal, coming towards them was a motorboat. Prosper was steering. Lying at the front of the boat, wrapped in blankets was Scipio. Mosca almost jumped into the canal, but Riccio restrained him. Prosper pulled up and sat down next to Scipio and ran his hands through Scipio's black hair.

"Scip, if you die" Prosper whispered in his friend's ear "I'll die too". Scipio's eyes fluttered open.

"I'm just scared and not feeling great" Scipio whispered.

"It's all right" Prosper whispered. "I'm not blaming you"

"Prop! What the hell is going on?" said Mosca.

"He's ill and hurt by what's happened between us Mosca!" Prosper snapped.

"I...I..." Scipio started.

"We're at the Stella" Prosper soothed.

"Please don't make me go back, Prop" Scipio said.

"Don't worry" said Prosper. "Just rest" Prosper looked at Hornet, Riccio and Mosca. "Can you help me?"

"Why?" asked Mosca.

"Because he saved you from dying a year ago" Prosper snapped.

"Fine!" Mosca snapped back and went on board the boat after lashing it to the loading dock. Mosca helped Prosper get Scipio off in the boat and inside the theater. Once inside, Prosper and Mosca laid Scipio on the stage and wrapped a blanket around him.

"Prop! Prop!" Bo screamed.

"Shut it, Bo" said Riccio.

"Don't you dare" said Prosper, eyeing Riccio.

"Prop..." Scipio started.

"I understand," said Prosper. Prosper took his eyes off his friend, before turning to Hornet. "Can you deal with Bo tonight? I need to be with Scipio"

"Of course" said Hornet. "I understand"

"Bo, listen to Hornet," said Prosper. Bo looked around Prosper saw Scipio.

"What happened to Scip, Prop?" Bo asked.

"He's just going through a lot at home right now," said Prosper.

"But..." Bo started. Prosper lost it.

"Shut up, Bo!" Prosper snapped.

"Prop" said Bo.

"Come on" said Hornet and grabbed Bo's hand, leading Bo away from Mosca, Prosper and Scipio.

"Where do you want to go?" asked Mosca, looking at Prosper.

"My bed" said Prosper.

"Prop..." Scipio started.

"Scipio" said Prosper, sitting down on the edge on the stage next to Scipio. "You've taken care of all of us. You brought us here. We couldn't ask for better friends. All I'm asking is that you allow us to take care of you now"

"Alright" said Scipio. "Oh and Prop?" Prosper had started walking away, but Scipio's words stopped him.

"Yeah?" asked Prosper

"I need to tell you something," said Scipio.

"Alright" said Prosper.

"Thanks" said Scipio.

"Please don't kill yourself. I won't blame myself for it" said Prosper.

"When did I say that?" asked Scipio.

"In the boat" Prosper responded. "On the way here"

"The last thing I remember is collapsing," said Scipio. "I was scared shitless every time gondolas went past"

"I noticed," said Prosper.

"I don't want to go back to my father," said Scipio.

"Let's get you in bed and then we can talk about this, okay?" asked Prosper.

"Thanks, Prop" said Scipio. Prosper nodded and scooped up Scipio in is arms and walked upstairs and laid him on his bed. "I love you, Prop" Scipio murmured. Prosper glared at his sleeping friend and then went downstairs to join Hornet, Rocco and Muscat. Hornet had, thankfully, gotten Bo to sleep.


Later that night, Prosper crept upstairs and lay down next to Scipio. Scipio rolled over.

"Hey" said Prosper, seeing that Scipio was awake.

"I love you Prosper," said Scipio.

"Wait, what" said Prosper.

"I love you," said Scipio.

"Explain" said Prosper, leaning against one of the many posts that held up the ceiling.

"I've loved you from the moment you forgave me for lying"

"Are you angry that merry-go-round didn't work?"

"No. I'm happy. I love you, Prop"

"Wait a second. What's going on?"

"I'm in love with you, Prop, just like you are with Hornet"

"That was a rumor made up by Riccio and Mosca. I think...I think..." Prosper looked into Scipio's eyes.

"You're in love with me too" Scipio finished. "Don't try to deny it"

"Alright" said Prosper. "I won't it"

"Say it"


"That you love me"

"Okay" Prosper took a deep breath and then whispered. "I love you, Scipio. I love you. I've loved you since the break-in. I just didn't realize it yet"

"That's okay"

"You can stay here," said Prosper. "We can tell your father that you drowned in the lagoon or something"

"He doesn't care about me"

"I doubt that" Prosper shifted his position and ran his hand through Scipio's black hair again. Scipio wove his fingers into Prosper's brown curls and gently pulled Prosper into a kiss. Prosper went willingly.

"Should we tell the others?" asked Scipio, through the kisses.

"No" Prosper replied.

"Never?" asked Scipio releasing Prosper.

"Wait a couple days," said Prosper looking into his ex-best friend, now lover's eyes.

"Agreed" Scipio whispered before kissing Prosper again and pulling Prosper onto the bed. At that moment, Prosper and Scipio knew what had been missing from their lives: each other. They had had each other before, but not like this and this is what they both realized in that moment that they needed.