Three Years Later.
Frank now lived on his own, in an apartment right next to the his workplace, a famous university on the outskirts of the city.
The place had few but large rooms, consisting of a living room and kitchenette, a bathroom, an office and library, and a bedroom. All the walls were painted in light earthy tones and the space was decorated with all-white furniture and darker accents, like the wooden lamps and the book bindings that covered several walls all over the house.
His life was peaceful and uneventful. He liked to keep it that way. It kept him away from unwanted feelings, thoughts and memories. On the first months, though, he still felt like the best thing he could do was retrace the scars on his wrists with a sharp object, but always gave up at the last second, reminding himself that the things that made him want that destiny were the same that made him stay on this world. So, he kept a distance with his sister's family, calling her only once every other month, to hear about their wellbeing and any news she may have to share.
As he cooked himself a simple meal consisting of brocoli and cherry tomato pasta, the fresh smell of aromatic herbs filling the air, the phone rang. He rolled his eyes, lowered the stove's power and awnsered it. It was obviously Sheryl.
"Frank! How have you been doing?" she seemed very happy, considering the last time they'd spoken she'd burst into tears, complaining about Richard.
"Neat. And you?"
"Quite well, actually. Dwayne just got his acceptance letters for university!" his heart sunk a little, and he forced his best polite voice out of his throat.
"Oh, wow. Which one did he choose?" a nervous chuckle could be heard from the other side. 'This can't be good'
"Actually, that was what I was hoping to talk to you about. You see, he wants to go to your uni, and we were hoping you'd let him stay with you." his inner voice started going full on psycho, on one hand not wanting to see Dwayne again and on the other knowing he intrisically needed to. "It's quite far from our place, and driving him there would be too expensive for us as you may imagine. So, it would be a huge favour you'd be doing us. But I'd understand if you said no, I mean, it's your privacy, and it is completely..."
"He can stay here." he clawed at his face, regreting his words as soon as they left his lips. "You sure?"
"..yeah, sure, you can bring him in anytime."
"Thank you so much. I owe you one. We'll be there on tuesday at four. Bye." she hung up then, leaving Frank to wonder about the next days and how much sleep he'd actually be able to get.
"You sure do."
Dwayne wasn't happy at first. In fact, he was the second angriest he'd ever been. He didn't want to go to Frank's house. He didn't even want to see that fucking asshole anymore. He'd never even attepted to call him since he'd left, he hadn't visited once, he hadn't even asked about Dwayne. It was like he'd forgotten, and Dwayne was on his own, with no one to trust or rely on. Dwayne had really liked Frank once, while he stayed with them after his suicide attempt. It had been a huge crush, like only a teenager can have, but eventually he learned to forget about it, and anger replaced tenderness when Frank stopped all contact.
"Come on darling, your uncle is waiting for us." his mother ushered him ou the door and into the car, throwing his stuffed camping backpack to the backseat. He ran a hand through his black hair, and readied himself for an extremely different type of hell.
It was four o'clock and Frank was a pile of nerves. He hadn't seen Dwayne since he found him on the entry hall three whole years ago.
He'd devoted more time to his appearence that usual that day, but still showed his casual self - he'd shaved and donned a light linen shirt over navy trousers - to show Sheryl he was doing well and feeling better.
Finally, at four fifteen, the bell rang, and his heart immediately started racing with nervousness. He took some seconds to calm down and take a deep breath before opening the door.
Frank was immediately engulfed in a hug by Sheryl. "Frank! How are you?" she said, pulling back, enough to look at him. "You look better."
He gave her a small, slightly strained smile. "Thanks. I'm good, and you?"
"Ah, well, you know. Surviving." she said, chuckling.
"Come on in." only then did Frank see the boy that had been standing next to his sister. He was no longer a boy, that's for sure. His pale body was lean but discretely muscled, and he was at least four inches taller than when they'd last seen eachother, making then around the same height. His face had taken sharper features, which were enhenced by his strong shaved jaw. Yet, there was still and awkwardness to Dwayne that was reminiscent of the boy he'd once been and so very, very atractive.
"Hello Dwayne." he said, trying to sound nonchalant and failing miserably, shaken Dwayne's black eyes staring at him, showing only his anger and sadness.
"Hi." the young man entered the living room and settled quietly on the couch, watching as Frank and Sheryl chatted. Eventually, his mother left, which left them to deal with eachother.
"You didn't call." Dwayne's words were even and sharp. Frank sat next to him on the couch.
"I'm sorry, Dwayne, I..." he paused for a little, the feelings he'd felt after leaving the boy behind swallowing him again. "I never meant to hurt you. I just needed some time on my own."
Dwayne looked over at the older man, and it occured him that he looked older than his age, as if he carried the world upon his shoulders. It pitied him. Frank had always seemed to him young at heart, romantic and reckless when he was happy. Yet, seeing him like this reminded Dwayne of post-suicide attempt Frank. It reminded him of the Frank he befriended as a fifteen year old.
"Still, you promised. You could have called at least once to say that. It was pretty selfish of you."
"Believe me you, it was for both our sakes."
"Doubt it, asshole." Dwayne remamrked, half honest, half joking. Frank smiled lightly, recognising the Dwayne he knew and loved.
"Can we ever get back to how we were back then?" Frank asked, hopeful. Dwayne took a while to reply. The boy wanted things to return to how they were three years ago, and, quite frankly, he couldn't resist
"We can try, I guess." Frank smiled, a true smile this time. They could go back, they could get to know eachother again, and share wonderful times. It would be easy.
"Then how about we have dinner and you tell me all about what happened these last years?" Frank proposed, his smile getting bigger by the second.
Dwayne craked a crooked smile and headed toward the kitchen.
When Frank looked at his nephew's rear he realised it wouldn't be that easy after all.