if you only knew
“You were a cute kid.”
Bitty turns, startled out of his silent reverie by Jack, hair freshly damp from the shower. “Oh, hey, darlin’. Didn’t realize you were up yet.”
“Just a little while ago.” Jack wraps himself around Bitty from behind and presses a kiss to his temple. Before long, the Georgia heat will make any prolonged contact near-unbearable, so Bitty closes his eyes and enjoys it while he can.
He opens his eyes and looks back at the photo on the wall of the hallway: Eric Bittle, age 12. A school photo, his smile exposing silver braces, freckles dashed across his cheekbones.
“You’re thinking pretty loud, there, bud,” murmurs Jack into Bitty’s hair. “What about?”
“Oh, nothing in particular,” sighs Bitty, resting his hands on top of Jack’s where they’ve settled around his waist. “Just…I wish that kid could see me now, you know?”
Jack makes some little noise of agreement, or maybe encouragement, so Bitty continues.
“I mean…I didn’t know back then if it would all work out. If I could ever, well, be happy. If I’d ever get out of Georgia. If I could ever really even be myself, or I’d have to…fake it. For always. And, y'know, I just spent so much time being so darned miserable over it all, and it’s not like it changed the outcome either way, my being miserable or not. And I wish…I wish I could tell myself that, that it would get better, cheesy as it sounds, you know, hon?”
Jack squeezes tighter. “I’m glad you’re not so sad anymore, Bits. I wish you didn’t have to go through all that. But I’m glad you’re here with me now.”
“Thanks, love,” says Bitty softly, turning his head to kiss Jack properly. “Glad you’re here, too.”