Dustin first loved Liam like a big brother, but as he got older, that love became much more than fraternal. On the eve of Liam returning to university, with Dustin old enough to declare his love, they spend the night together.
Over the ensuing years, fate intervenes and keeps them apart more often than either man would like, but their love proves strong enough to endure it.
But when a pandemic sweeps the world, will their feelings remain strong enough to ensure they get their happy ending?
When the plane arrived, Dustin scanned the crowd for Liam. The moment he caught a glimpse of him, he waved madly. Liam had changed in the months they’d been apart. He was still tall and handsome, but he had a dark scruff that made him look older than he was. However, when he saw Dustin, he grinned, and Dustin’s heart skipped a beat.
As soon as Liam cleared the crowd, Dustin was in his arms, and they hugged tightly. “Fuck, I’ve missed you.” Liam buried his face in Dustin’s hair and inhaled deeply. “You smell like home.”
“You look different.” Dustin eased back, looking Liam up and down. “You look leaner.”
“That’s what running around a restaurant will do for you,” Liam chuckled. “But it’s excellent grounding for wine appreciation and fits in well with my winemaker ambitions.”
“The scruff suits you.” Dustin stroked Liam’s cheek, and Liam rubbed at his chin.
“When time’s essential, clean shaven is difficult to maintain. I can get away with this from day to night if rushing from college to work.”
“Don’t overdo it.” Dustin shook his head. “I don’t want you ill.”
“No choice. I made a promise to be here, so I picked up extra shifts where I could. Believe me, to see you again it was worth it.”
“My turn next,” Dustin said decisively. “I’ll do the working to make sure you can come to England.”
“How are your parents?” Liam asked.
“They’re good. And what’s more they knew. About me. About us. And Dad’s bi.” The words came tumbling out and it was Liam’s turn to stare.
“Well, fuck.” He laughed as he scratched his head. “Who’d have thought. Well, that’s good then. No more sneaking around. We can be open with them.”
“Yes.” Dustin nodded. “Come on.” He grabbed Liam’s hand. “We only have a couple of hours. I want us to see them as a couple, then spend some time alone with you.” He looked around with a sigh. “As much as we can in a busy airport. Don’t forget, we have to get to international departures to catch our flight.”
“I know. Let’s go.”
The next couple of hours flew past as Dustin and Liam chatted together and made their plans for Liam to visit. With Dustin’s parents’ blessing, Liam would stay with them and as an unexpected bonus, Eric would pay for Liam’s flight, leaving him only spending money to find.
“The time will go quickly.” Liam reached out to pat Dustin’s hand. “And I bought you a gift.” He stuck his hand into a pocket and drew out a dog tag pendant on a chain. “It’s engraved with our names.”
“Oh, Liam.” Dustin fitted it around his neck immediately. “Thank you.” He fingered the pendant. “When I’m missing you, I’ll have this.”
“Yeah, you will.” Liam glanced at the clock and groaned softly. “It’s time. Let’s go.”
“Wait.” Dustin removed his gold earring and handed it to Liam. “Take this.”
“Thanks.” Liam took the gold hoop and took out one of his own earrings, replacing it with Dustin’s. “Now we each have something.”
“We’d best go. I don’t want you in my parents’ bad books.” Reluctantly, Dustin walked to the departure gate with Liam at his side. He saw his parents and waved to them, increasing his pace.
“We’ll see you when you come to visit, won’t we Ann?” Eric glanced at his wife as he stuck out his hand and Liam shook it. “Keep in touch. Let us know how your studies are going.”
“Yes. We look forward to hosting you,” Ann added.
“Thank you, both. It’ll be odd coming from summer here to winter there at Christmas. But I’m looking forward to visiting.” Liam’s gaze shifted to Dustin, who felt his cheeks burn.