Gabriel loved broken things – he loved putting them back together. Henry was a stained glass window of a boy. Startling colours, beauty, torment, and absolutely shattered into a million pieces. He loved him instantly.
He first saw Henry from across the grotty union club; arms in the air, swaying in the flash of club lights that could sometimes hold the same holy shine as stained glass windows themselves could. The floor was sticky with spilled drinks and the crunch of plastic cups, heaving with bodies and sweat.
He didn’t know, then, that Henry’s eyes were the soft grey of a beloved old shirt and the beginning of a storm. He didn’t know that he walked along streets and played a game of deciding which bush, or building, would be the best to hide in if someone suddenly set ravenous hounds upon his heels. He didn’t know that he had a scar on his left hip from when he’d scraped all along his side when he was seven.
He didn’t know, but he knew all of those things.
They met properly at a party a week after that, clutching beers squashed in a corner while Jeremy Shore bored them all with a passionate lecture on the superiority of French avante garde movies, and insisted the only music worth listening to was A-ha.
They first kissed on the beach two months later.
Henry had been dwarfed in Gabriel’s hoodie, hands plunged into the pockets and the tips of his ears and his nose red with cold. The sand had been chilly beneath them in the evening, its paleness the same paleness of Henry’s skin and its softness littered by old bottle tops and bits of glass that people had buried like treasure.
It had been a desperate sort of kiss, Gabriel’s favourite kind. A kiss that redeemed monsters and burnt worlds and tasted like salt. Henry smiled and kissed him again, gently, like Gabriel was the one held together by careful hands and bits of affection. Hands roamed slowly, warming quickly as they pressed close.
Nobody knew them there.
“You’re so fucking gorgeous.”
“Don’t,” Henry looked away.
Henry never really spoke about the past but he sketched it often in a thick black artbook with dog-eared corners. He chewed on his lip with a concentration so intent that he left small indents where his teeth had pressed for minutes on end, as if Gabriel had just kissed him. He smudged his fingers and his brow black and grey with graphite and charcoal, and offered up rolling storms, snarling lips and gleaming eyes.
But he liked drawing Gabriel best.