I Want to Know What Love Is

by James Matthews

Chapter 8


"There's one there?"

"That's disabled," Taylor said, his head darting in all directions.

"We've been going round and round for ages… ahh, he's just leaving."

Taylor stopped the car as we waited in the hospital grounds to find a space. I was itching to get out but the fucking place was full and I felt like we'd been sitting here forever.

"Should he be driving, he looks about three hundred years old?"

"I've seen older," Taylor said as the man finally got his car out of the space and Taylor quickly drove in forwards, probably thinking some asshole would take it before we had a chance. He switched off the engine and sighed. "Well, this is it, let's go see he how he is!"

"You ok?" I asked, noticing Taylors hands were shaking.

"Just a bit nervous. How you holding up"

"Same as you, but I didn't want to admit it just in case it made you nervous, but that went well." Taylor smiled slightly, opening his door.

It was lightly raining outside and a cold wind blew around the hospital building making whistling sounds as we briskly walked around to the main entrance. We both audibly sighed feeling the door heater blow hot air on us as we walked in.

Taylor led us over to the main desk and we waited while a nurse was speaking on the phone. I stood tapping my foot hoping whoever she was talking to would get off the fucking phone so we could be dealt with. Taylor looked at my urgent expression and nudged me.

"Hey, you're gonna end up with heartburn if you keep that up, calm down."

"Are we invisible?!" I hissed.

I watched as she finally ended the call and came over to us smiling. "Sorry to keep you, how can I help?"

"Uh hi, yes i called up this morning. We're here to see Hunter Kirby?"

"Hunter, Hunter Kirby… hmm, ahh yes. We have him on Level four ICU D. So take the lift on the right over there and when you get off at level Four, walk straight down and the ICU is on your left hand side. Go through the double doors and the Nurses Station is on the right and someone will take you to him."

Taylor smiled and he pushed off the desk with his hands. "Thanks!"

We both walked away and towards the lift. My hands felt clammy. I discreetly looked up at Taylor and he looked white and edgy. My head was filled with what we would see and how he would respond when he saw me. I knew in my heart his brother would be a welcome visitor, but me? What am I doing here? Why would he want to see me?"

I stopped suddenly just before the lift and Taylor turned around. "This way Bud."

"You go, I don't think I can."


"I mean, he might…"

Taylor came back towards me and took my hand, almost like a parent would to a young child. "You're being stupid, and I know why. Just take deep breaths and get in that lift."

I did as he asked and walked over to the lifts. He pressed the button calling for one to come get us. The smell of the hospital reminded me a little of Dr. Listern's medical bay and memories of Greenstone came flooding back. Cindy! I thought, as we waited. I needed to call her after, I'd been so wrapped up in stuff I felt like I had neglected her. Or maybe I should let her call me? I made a note to think about it later as we heard a ding and the lift doors opened.

Ten or so people all walked out forcing us to step back a few paces before going in, strangely just the two of us.

"Press four for us, Jensen," Taylor asked, going to the back of the lift and putting his hands against the metal chrome bar attached to the compartment. He had his eyes closed and looked stiff.

"You ok, you look like you're about to pass out!" I asked, worried.

"Lifts Jensen, I hate lifts!"

"Can I ask why?"

I felt the motion as it jolted upwards causing that butterfly feeling in your stomach.

"Just freaks me out, I mean what if they stop?"

"You mean you're scared you can't get out?"

"Just don't talk for a minute, I'll be ok!"

I made a face and kept my mouth shut. But seconds later we heard a ding noise and the lift bumped and the door opened. I really didn't see what all the fuss was about as Taylor whooshed past me like he was getting away from a live bomb inside the lift compartment.

"Thank God!" he said. Putting his hands on his hips and exhaling quite violently.

"We could always take the stairs if they have them?"

"Yeah, good idea, I didn't realise how much I hate fucking lifts. Right, what did that lady say, straight down right?"

"Yeah, and then it's on the left."

"Ok, let's go… man I'm sweating!

We were led into a single room where Hunter was lying. Tears were already falling down my face before I'd even got fully into the room. There were various tubes and machines surrounding the bed and Hunter was wearing some kind of brace around his neck and he had a tube coming from his wrist.

"Hey Bro," Taylor whispered. "We've come to break you out of here."

Taylor slowly sat down and stoked one of Hunter's fingers, while I stood against the door, frightened to come any closer.

Hunter's eyes flickered before they slowly opened and I tried really hard to stop a heaved sob escaping my mouth.

"Look who's here!" Taylor said as Hunter looked around the room. "How are you feeling?"

"Urrhh, Like I need a joint!"

Taylor roared with Laughter, and I even managed a chuckle through choked tears. I stepped forward and stood at the end of the bed feeling really awkward. But Hunter's eyes connected with mine and I thought I could see just the smallest of smiles form on his mouth.

"Puppy," he said, his voice strained and horse.

"Yeah HT, I'm here."

"Whhaaat are you guys doooing here?"

"To see you dickhead, what do you think?" Taylor answered, taking hold of Hunter's hand. "I think you've been a bit of a silly boy, right?"

Hunter smiled. "I… I wasn't."

"Wasn't what, Hunter?" I asked, stepping forward and standing next to Taylor."

"Sill… Silly, I, wasn't silly." he got out. His face then changed to a slight frown. "I'm in hos… hospital, right?"

"That's right Bro, Puppy here saved your life, do you remember?"

The smile returned, thankfully as I could see him thinking. "I… I remember you pre… pressing a ton of weight on… on my neck you shit!"

We both laughed, and I went round and found a spare seat and brought it over and sat next to Taylor. Taylor took his hand out of Hunters almost signalling for me to take it which I did immediately.

"You really scared me… all of us Hunter."

"I… I know, I'm an Idiot,"

"Maybe a little bit," I said, getting up and kissing his forehead.

"Uh, I'm gonna go find somewhere to grab a coffee… leave you guys to talk a minute, you want anything?"

"Coffee would be great, thanks Taylor."

He smiled gently and left the room, closing the door behind him.

"You, ok?" he asked, his voice deep and slow.

"Yeah I'm fine, I was really eager to come and see you though."

"I… I'm sorry for… for put… putting you through that."

"How much do you remember?" I asked.

I saw a tear run down the corner of his eye, which he left to drop onto his pillow. While his expression changed to one that almost looked like fear.

"Everything," he replied.

"I want to tell you something that I don't think got through to you."

"Whats… whats that?"

"Hunter! I love you SO MUCH! Don't you ever leave me like that again!"

I saw him start to cry and I rushed up and gently hugged him, aware of all the equipment here, there and everywhere. "Shhhh, don't cry. It's all gonna be ok. I'm here, Taylor is here and you are getting out of here, right?"

Hunter cleared his throat, and winced in pain. "I wish I'd been honest with you."

"About what?"

"Always thought you were… were too good for me… and… and too nice to…"

"Stand up to you, make my own choices and challenge you?" I said, firmly.

Hunter let out a small strained chuckle. "You… you and Taylor been gett… getting on well, I can tell."

"Well yeah, so get this through your head, I'm not going anywhere. We are a couple, always have been, and I don't care if I bore you or if you've cheated on me. I know the reasons why and fuck it, its in the past!"

"Wwwow, I guess I'm stuck with you then?"

"Yep, and if you ever do what you did again, I will actually kill you properly."



"I am… I'm so in love with you, I didn't know if I could handle that. I thought I would destroy you from the… the inside."

"So you did this? Not clever, HT!"

"It… it was everything, I felt like I was trapped in a loop and I was sucking you into my misery and I couldn't let… let, couldn't let that happen."

I heard the door click open and Taylor walked in with two coffees and a beaker with a little tiny bit of water in it.

"Guess how much?" Taylor asked, looking at us both.

"I… I hope that water was less than ten pounds." Hunter said smiling.

"Six Pound sixty, for two fucking coffees the robbing wankers!"

"Is that bad?" I asked. "I have money, I will pay for them, it's the least I can do for you running me around in your car."

"You have a lot to learn about the word 'convenience' Jenson, They rob you blind because they know you can't go anywhere else. And no, I'm not hinting for a reimbursement, I just hate it that you're in a place seeing sick and dying people and you have to take money out of their funeral budget to drink a cup of coffee."

Hunter giggled and winced in pain, but couldn't stop laughing at Taylor. It was infectious as we all started. "I have no fu… funeral budget! You bett… you better take up Puppy's off… offer."

"Hey, settle down in there Hunter, You need to keep still," called a nurse, seeing we were getting a bit lively and Hunter was jigging his neck laughing.

"So how long am I in here?" Hunter asked.

"Bro are you in pain, you look like you're hurting."

"A little, yeah. I think they gave me something but it's wearing off."

"Give me a sec," Taylor got up and pulled the door open. "Nurse?" he called. Someone came over straight away and entered the room. "Could he have something, he's in pain?"

The nurse walked in and looked at the bed, searching with her eyes. "Hunter, on your right, see that button on the lead?"

"Uh, oh yeah."

"Give that few clicks and it will give you a few shots of Morphine. Don't go mad though because if you max it out it wont let you have any for eight hours. Just press it a couple of times first and see how you get on, ok?"

"Tha… thank you."

The nurse nodded and left the room.

"Take it you didn't know about that, little Bro?"

"I thought it was… the bed controller." he said rolling his eyes,

"Great to see you haven't lost your sense of humour."

Hunter's expression changed again back to a look of seriousness.

"Tay, Puppy? I know I've put you both through hell, and I wanna say that I'm sorry, I… I wanna live."

Taylor leaned forward and placed his hand on his brother's forehead and gently stroked it. "Hunts, you came so close to not making it. This boy here loves you to the moon and back and he saved your sorry ass from the end. So close Hunter, you'll understand when you're better how bad this actually was. The right people were in the right place at the right time and you were right on the edge of not making it. Take that message and remember how lucky you are, and appreciate that somewhere, something higher wanted you two to be able to be together."

All three of us were tearing up as Taylor spoke. It was a bitter-sweet speech, and I knew Hunter understood already how close he'd come to dying judging by the look of fear on his face as Taylor was speaking. But looking at him now it looked like he'd been given a second chance and I was going to grab him with both hands and hold on tight.

I think in that moment as we looked at each other, holding our gaze, we silently communicated my sorrows, his regrets and our own long road to recovery.

I felt a glow surround me, it was something euphoric and intense. I'm not sure how to explain it but in my short life I think I had just experienced the most concentrated, and pure feeling of complete love for the first time. It was like an explosion expanding outwards taking everything bad that had been, sending it hurling far away.

There, in that second, minute or maybe no measurable time at all, I just knew... I just knew.

He was the one!

10 Months Later

"Happy birthday tooooo youoooo! Hip, hip Hooray!" My face filled with heat as everyone sang the last verse. I threw my hands over my face and shook my head.

"This is so embarrassing!"

"Well, are you going to blow them out, you don't want wax over your cake do you?" Dad said, making everyone chuckle who were sitting round the table.

I inhaled as much as my lungs could take and succeeded in getting all the candles out, as I gave it my best shot. Everyone started clapping and I looked around the room smiling.

"So do we eat this now?" I asked, licking my lips.

Mum got up from the table and stood next to me, putting her arm around me. "Aww, Happy Birthday Button, Seventeen, wow! So how does it feel?"

I laughed. "Same as it did yesterday, Mum."

"Happy birthday Bro," Steven said, sliding a present across the table at me. "Soon be older than me," he added.

"Seeing as I got the most bruises from you, it's clear i'm the younger brother!" I said before putting on my best innocent look. "Oh, yeah, I forgot, I get gifts as well don't I?" I feigned a surprised look.

I ripped open the silver paper and eyed a small box. I turned my gaze to Steven who winked at me as I looked puzzled as to what it could be. I held the box up to my ear and shook it, Something else seemed to rattle inside.

"I'm scared to open it," I said, giggling at Steven.

"Uh, and why?"

"Because it's from you! Is it gonna explode or something?" I asked.

"Just open it G, I'm getting bored here!"

I started to slowly take the brown wrapping paper out of the box. A large nail fell from the box onto the table with a clink, but inside was a grey box. I pulled it out.

"Oh wow, you got me a Go Pro? Oh my God, thanks Stevie. Erm, and the nail?"

"To remind you to tread carefully!" He replied, winking at me again.

"Hang on a minute, is this…"

"Yep the very same one. Jessie and I went and got it back from Cutters Farm. And the Extra present you can use underwater cos I know you like to swim."

I shook my head in disbelief, laughing, before going round to the end of the table and hugging my brother.

Mum shook her head. "God that was a horrible day. Trip to the hospital, ruined Sneakers."

"Yeah Mum, but he never did it again did he?" Steven said, picking up the nail. "Man that had to hurt!"

"Yeah Steven it did, now put it away, it's making me relive that going through my foot!"

As I finished bartering with Steven, I felt a warm breath on my neck before a hand came over my shoulder and appeared in front of me.

"And this little box is also for you," he said, kissing the back of my neck. A huge grin appeared on my face. A small rectangular box wrapped in gold and purple wrapping paper was placed into my hand.

"Another mystery," I said, turning round to kiss Hunter.

"Uh huh!" He replied

Again I pulled apart the paper wrapped around the object revealing a burgundy long box. I slowly opened it and inside was a gold link chain. I removed it from the box. Attached was a solid gold word spelling 'Puppy' on it.

"I love it," I whispered, grinning like a little kid.

"It's eighteen carat, so don't lose it. Here, let me put it on you."

"Yeah, please."

Hunter took the chain from my fingers and began to delicately place it around my neck. I felt him fiddle around the back before announcing. "There, all done!"

I walked over to one of the mirrors in the hallway and smiled as I saw the chain hanging around my neck. "How thoughtful," I muttered as I touched the 'Puppy' piece with my fingers.

Dad came into the hallway and asked me to face away from him. I looked at him strangely, before seeing mum appear with a scarf type thing in her hand.

"What are you guys up to?" I asked, frowning.

"Just stand still and comply with our instructions," Dad said, playfully.

I did as I was asked and Mum wrapped the scarf around my head and then pulled it down over my eyes.

"Can you see anything?"

"No, what's going on."

"Now you're sure you can't see anything, are you telling the truth." Mum asked again.

"Mum, no I can't see anything, honest."

I heard the front door open, probably by Dad, and Mum guided me forward. "Lift your foot, and watch the step." I did as she asked and felt the step outside and placed my foot on it. Then she continued to guide me forward. I felt myself brush the side of Dad's car as we walked. "Just a little further Puppy!" Mum said as I was holding my hands out in front of me, probably looking ridiculous.``

"Ok Puppy, you can remove the scarf." Dad called, sounding a little way down.

I pulled off the scarf and the bright light outside made me squint. Hunter came up beside me and put his arm around me as my eyes adjusted, and then went out on beanstalks.


"Catch!" Dad said as a set of keys came flying in my direction. I caught them and then ran over and hugged him tightly.

"This is… This has just been the best birthday… well, like EVER by a long long mile," I shouted. Just overwhelmed.

"Wanna sit inside?" Dad asked, as I finished hugging Mum and Hunter again.

"This is a…" I went around the back. "Focus'," I finished, looking around the car. It looked really smart, dark red with a blue bow attached to the screen wipers. I went over with my keys and found no key hole to get in.

"You press the button Puppy," Dad said, pointing at the keyfob. "Oh, yeah I get it now." I unlocked the car with the lights flashing and opened the door to the driver's seat. It smelt really nice inside and was all shiny with black and grey materials on the inside. I got in and sat in the seat putting my hands on the wheel. Dad came over and guided me to a button which said 'POWER'.

"Push your foot right down on the left pedal Puppy and then press that button."

I did as Dad asked and the car was brought to life and the engine came alive. I must admit, this was my first time behind the wheel of a car let alone starting one, I did feel a little intimidated.

"If you press the button again it will switch off, Puppy."

"I'm so… wow, thanks so much."

"You deserve it Son, now we gotta get you some lessons and then you'll need to pass your test and it's all yours to drive when you want."

I was just about to get out when Taylor turned into our driveway and pulled up in front of my new car.

He got out, waving. I waved back and hopped out of my new car. Taylor walked towards me and I met to hug him. "Neat ride, Happy birthday," he said, giving me a parcel.

"You didn't have to, and thanks, yeah its been a head fuck, so many nice things, and a massive cake with a…"

"Puppy on it?"

"Yeah how did you know?"

"Just a lucky guess," he replied sniggering.

Hunter came down to see us both and hugged his brother. I saw Mum and dad walk back to the house smiling as the three of us stood by Taylor's car. I opened his present and found a pair of furry dice inside, looking puzzled.

"You hang them on your screen mirror, they are retro dude, Perfect for a new Seventeen year old driver!"

Hunter laughed and kissed me on the cheek. "Now you got the complete works, Stud!"

"Looks that way," I replied, walking over and hanging the dice around the mirror of my new car. "You both knew I was getting this?" They both just looked at each other and grinned.

I moved back and closed the door. "Thanks for coming over, I really didn't expect to see you. I thought you'd be at the garage working."

"And miss your Birthday? Nah. And besides, gotta make sure my brother is behaving himself, haven't i?"

"We have not had sex for two days," Hunter remarked, sniggering to himself. "My balls are like, turning blue!"

"I wasn't talking about THAT!" Taylor barked, playfully, tilting his head, looking serious. "SOOO what are you guys up to today?"

"You'll have to ask Steven, he's got something planned down at Cutters Farm apparently. And if it's Steven it will probably involve an Ambulance being called," Hunter said, taking hold of my hand and intertwining our fingers.

"Just the three of you?"

"No, we got Jessie, Billy and Dave coming, if they all turn up. Steven is on about building a small campfire and we're having marshmallows apparently."

"Well have fun…. Listen I gotta shoot back to work, but here, take this," Taylor said, passing Hunter £20. "Get some cheap booze if you can, have a bit of fun. But no messing with that fire if it's gets started, In my experience, Drink and playing with fires don't mix well."

"Thanks Bro… Oh, I hate to be cheeky but do you have any weed in the car, I'm out and fancied a joint tonight,"

Taylor huffed. "You owe me about a gram now… Give me a sec."

Taylor walked back to his car as Hunter pulled a cigarette from his packet and flicked his lighter creating a flame. He toked on his newly lit cigarette, looked up at the warm sun and blew smoke up into the air.

"What an ace day," he announced, more to himself I thought,

"Yeah, it's been perfect."

"Here, don't say I don't do anything for you, " Taylor said, walking up to Hunter and passing him a small bag,

"Thanks Bro, you're a Ledge."

"I know… Right I have to be getting going, You guys have fun later and what's the situation on getting home?"

"Oh, uh my parents said he can stay here tonight. But I actually have a feeling that he's working on Mum and Dad for us to camp out at the farm."

"I'll text you Bro and let you know where I am. Have a good night yourself. What is it tonight, takeaway and Netflix?"

"Yeah you know it! See you later."

Taylor left for his car and we waved goodbye before wandering back to the house, my arm round Hunter's waist.

Before taking one more look at my new car of course!

Hunter threw himself on top of me as I lay on my bed watching TV, Plunging his tongue into my mouth and kissing me passionately. He then bounced off the bed and turned off the TV.

"What was that all about, and hey, I was watching that!"

"Cos I love you, and you're fucking sexy when you're concentrating."

"You're bored aren't you, I can tell?"

"It's your birthday and you're laying there watching TV, I mean, we could be doing something."

I sat up and shuffled back against my headboard, folding my arms. "Ok then, tell me what you wanna do? But you won't because you're in one of those moods where whatever I suggest you're gonna say no to."

"You always do that!" Hunter said, smiling.


"You do that 'I can read your mind thing' like you're some kind of physiatrist."

"No, I just know what you're like."

"Ok i'll suggest something. Erm, why don't we…" Hunter stopped, smiling at me.

"We did that like three hours ago!"


"No, I'm playing hard to get today, it's my birthday. Why don't you take me to the Cinema?"

"Nah, there's nothing on anyway."

"See, I told you you'd say no to any of my suggestions. And what if there is something I wanna see?"

"Nooo, we need to watch something together or i'll just fall asleep and you'll get angry with me and then we'll have an argument on your birthday and I'll sulk and then later you will bring it all up at the gig at Cutters Farm later tonight,"

"Are you proving something here?" I said smiling.

"What? As in, I know what you're like?"

"Fuck You!"

"I offered but you said no."

"Grrrr!" I leapt off the bed and started tickling Hunter. He fell to the floor thrashing about laughing hard.

"Stop… Stop, ok, ok… I get it, you win...Arrrrhhh!"

I jumped off him, "Shit, what… what did I do?"

Hunter sat up holding his neck. "Hey, it's fine Baby, You just caught my scar with your fingers. It was just an accident."

"Shit, I'm sorry," I said, diving down to hug him."

"Don't make a fuss, It's fine… Im fine."

Hunter had been out of hospital about eight months now, with various revisits to check the condition of his wound and to have dressing after dressing changed, drugs given, antibiotics injected, Scans done. It had been a miserable few months for him, and although his wound was healed it was still very tender. It was something he always reminded me when I knocked it in the night in my sleep, waking him up with a yelp.

Hunter was currently staying over about four times a week, just going home to refresh his bag of clothes, do some washing and spend a couple of nights with Taylor so he weren't on his own all the time. It was a nice set up as it also gave me and Steven time to talk and play computer games.

Deep down I think Steven missed how things used to be when it was just me and him, but with us older now that relationship had evolved. I was fine with that as we still lived together with neither of us not planning to move out due to school. Plus the fact, where would we go and with what money? No, life was good at the moment, Hunter had had fifteen sessions with a top therapist paid for by his dad's money stash and the last two I had attended with him to see how far he had come.

Hunter had also changed. He was more open about his feelings. He still had that cheeky bad boy attitude I loved about him. But he did calm it down in front of my parents which was an unspoken agreement between us. His braids had grown out and his hair was now back to the shiny black Faux Hawk hairstyle with a sexy undercut, which was my suggestion when he had it sculptured at a Turkish Barbers.

It was obvious from Hunter's boredom that he wanted to do something that didn't involve going out but didn't involve watching TV. I suggested a shower together as I knew from his behaviour he was up for having sex again. After we washed each other down I let him fuck me in the shower, something that was over surprisingly quickly as I massaged his balls with one hand as I leant against the tiles, He was still really affectionate after he had cum which I really liked as if I hadn't finished myself he always find a way to get me off in new ways. He managed to stay hard long enough for me to shoot my load up the tiles, trying to be as quiet as I could as the bathroom was pretty near Steven's bedroom.

"Satisfied now," I asked, turning round and kissing him.

"Hmmm, that was really nice!"

"And quick, what's gotten into you lately? We only had sex this morning"

Hunter shook his hair of excess water spraying me with now cold droplets. I hitched a breath. "It's summer, I'm always more horny in the Summer."

"Is that a thing or did you make that up?"

"Well look at most animals, when do they mate?"

"SPRING!" I shouted, before bursting out laughing.

"Have you two finished making babies in there, I need a piss!" called Steven through the closed door.

Hunter and I giggled before stepping out of the shower and picking up our towels. We both walked out whistling past a frowning Steven, arms folded.

"All finished and clean, " I said.

"Yeah well, I hope you washed all your baby gravy away, I don't wanna be stepping in any of that when I go for my shower later."

Hunter burst out laughing and Steven went in and slammed the door. We went back to my room and both picked out what we were wearing for the rest of the day, with Hunter pulling out a pair of screwed up jeans and a T-shirt from his duffle bag,

"Those need ironing, like seriously!"

"They're skinny, as soon as I put them on the creases will disappear, you'll see.

"And the T-shirt?"

Hunter Shrugged. Fuck it, I'm only with you!"

"You cheeky fucker. I hope you'll make an effort for me forever. Or are you planning to get fat and wear slippers and sandals?"

Hunter stood there thinking. "Pizza is good though, I can only see it getting worse."

"Well if that body is not kept in the condition it is for at least the next forty years I'm trading you in. Speaking of being fit and sexy, did you let the guys know you wouldn't be at softball?"

"Yeah, they know it's your birthday, so it's cool. I'm sure they have a spare they can grab from the watchers."

We continued to get dressed and headed downstairs to grab an OJ and a packet of crisps. Looking through the kitchen window, Mum was sunbathing out on the grass. I could see the hose out and guessed that dad had dragged it around the front to wash the car.

I dragged Hunter down to the bottom of the yard and he stood there while I checked for eggs and gave the chickens some pellets. Searching inside the coop I found three clean eggs and pulled them all out, handing them to Hunter.

"You know, I wonder if it hurts when they squeeze these through their vagina."

"Only you would even have that image come into your mind."

"It's a valid question. I mean would you like to crap out tennis balls from your ass every day?"

"Hunter, why are we having this conversation?" I asked, looking at him, squinting my eyes from the sun in my direction.

"You boys ok?" mum called, looking over her book from up near the house. "How many Puppy?"

We started to walk back up toward the house. "Three, today."

"You want them for Lunch, it's getting near one o'clock. I might go and butter some bread. Egg Sandwich? Maybe i'll chuck some bacon in,"

I watched as Hunter's eyes smiled. "Sounds great Mum, it's a yes from both of us."

"Oh I forgot to say Puppy, a parcel came for you while you were upstairs. I think it's from Cindy."

"Shit, my phone… where did I leave my phone? I bet she called while we were…" I stopped, looking at mum waiting for me to finish.

"Chatting with Steven," Hunter blurted.

"Oh, ok… well you better go check then and say thank you, eh?"

"Yeah, good idea," I said. breathing out finally.

We went back inside and into the hallway where there was a large flat parcel leaning against the wall. I went over and picked it up. It had been wrapped super tight and Hunter took his house key out and ripped at the packaging with it.

We finally got it open and it was a framed picture, which I was looking at the back of after ripping the final piece off. I flipped it around and looked at what she'd decided to send me. I looked at it for a few seconds and then passed it to Hunter and ran upstairs,

In tears!

Hunter came into my room with the picture and sat down on the edge of my bed. I was facing away from him gently sobbing, he placed his hand on my back and rubbed it. "It's beautiful,"

"We were… it was a different time."

"But a good memory, yeah?"

I twisted my head over, followed by my whole body, wiping my eyes. I sat up.

"You know, I remember so clearly when it was taken. I can still smell the air, the grass had been cut, and it was a really hot day. But who took it is a mystery to me. I didn't even know it still existed, or where's it's come from."

Hunter got fully on to the bed and lay down next to me. "Tell me about that day."

I narrowed my eyes, wiping the last stray tears from them. "Why?"

"I wanna know about you."

"You already know more about me," I said, rolling my eyes.

"I know the you now, but you hardly ever talk about your past, and even when you do it's just snippets. You know so much about mine."

"Is it a competition?"

"Hey, don't be like that."

I sighed. "I'm sorry, I just wasn't prepared for that picture, especially blown up. Uh, so what do you wanna know?"

Hunter shrugged. "I dunno, just tell me about that day."

"Well, there is nothing special about the day, but I think it was the first picture of me and Cindy together, I think she had arrived a few weeks before, or that's how I remember it in my mind."

"So why the emotion?" he asked, softly.

"Show me the picture." Hunter leaned over the side of the bed and picked it up placing it between us. I looked over it again, welling up, but holding it back this time. "We were both just really young… didn't really understand anything about anything, but whenever I saw her before that picture she always seemed…" I paused.


"I'm looking for a word. I dunno, sad I guess."

"Well she looks happy there." Hunter suggested, pointing.

I smiled and brushed my fingers over the glass covering the picture. "She was. She said no one had ever taken her picture before. Even though I was so young, there was just something about that comment that made me feel sad. I see it in my thoughts, that feeling, even now."

"And that made her happy right?"

"I think we were never apart after that. It was like that picture changed everything. We were down by the lake… we must have been supervised, but it's the first time I remember being down there together." I shook my head. "I dunno, it's just I think our story starts at that picture and when I saw it, everything we'd ever said, seen and done flashed before me. It was just emotional to see it."

"Looks like a nice day, so you got off to a good story."

"Yeah," was all I said, before receiving a soft kiss on the lips.

"You gonna call her?"

"Yeah, later on. I am dying to know where she got that picture. Anyway enough about my stupid emotions, how are you doing today?"

Hunter rolled his eyes. "You ask me at least fifteen times a week. Today is a good day. It's your birthday, I'm happy because you are happy."

I looked in to Hunters eyes. We'd been together long enough now for me to see when those eyes told a lie and actually, he did look happy. His dark almost charcoal grey eyes were so big and told a thousand stories. It has been a long upward hill for him. We still weren't there yet but he was right, today was a good day. Sure he had his triggers, his dark days still. Flashbacks as I'd come to learn and also he'd go into moods that i'd also learned to deal with, but I promised myself, his brother and Hunter that I would weather this.

I had also grown, I felt it. I felt stronger because of Hunter. Standing up to him was sometimes tiring but I knew it was getting him better and It was helping me to learn about him and the challenges everyday people face. The last ten months had been hell at times. He would push me away, then tell me that he loved me, then pound at my chest telling me he felt like he was in a deep well unable to climb out.

Mum and Dad had been great. I'd told them about Hunter's issues and naturally at first they told me I might get in too deep and to make sure this is what I wanted. But they had kept their promise ten months ago and had heard me out, not judging, not deciding for me. They just said they would be there and they have been, every day. And Steven?

Yeah, Steven! Well, another time to explain getting my head around that!

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