You’ve got to be fucking joking.
Ray looked at the announcement in dismay. The train had been delayed by three hours? How could a four hour journey possibly be three hours late? What had the train been doing? Going backwards?
He did the math and it told him what he’d known as soon as he’d found out about the delay; three hours was not enough time to go back home and it was way too long for him to sit around doing nothing. He opened his bag and rummaged through it in the vague and unrealistic hope of finding something to occupy him during the wait.
His hand connected with the cardboard box and he extracted it. Ray smiled. Pascal would be so happy when he gave him this present. His boyfriend always had his nose in a book and had been complaining about the inconvenience of having to weigh his luggage down with books every time he came for a visit. Ray didn’t get it. He’d pretty much given up on reading as soon as he’d left school. The books and poems he’d been forced to read there had been enough to kill whatever joy he might have found in words in the past.
Pascal would be surprised. Both of them lived on very tight budgets. As students with only part-time jobs to supplement their grants, they couldn’t really afford the travelling they did every weekend in order to spend time together, never mind fancy birthday presents. They had this unspoken rule they wouldn’t spend money on anything unless it was a necessity. But Ray’s parents had sent him some cash and rather than spend it on clothes, as his mother had told him he should, Ray had used the money it to buy the Kindle. He’d also loaded the tablet with a few books, choosing from the titles he’d secretly copied from Pascal’s lengthy wish list.
With one last angry glare at the notice board, Pascal bent his legs and sat down on the stone paving of the platform. He shrugged his shoulders and took the Kindle out of its box. While he didn’t like reading very much, it had to be a better way to kill time than staring at the passing trains. He glanced at the titles and covers before randomly picking one; it was not as if knew anything about these books or the authors. Nothing beyond the fact that Pascal loved them – and if it was good enough for the man he adored...
When he felt two arms embracing him from behind Ray emerged with a shock from the dystopian world he’d lost himself in.
“What are you reading?” Pascal’s voice was soft and laced with humour.
“Something called The Long Fall of Night.”
“Oh. I’ve been looking forward to that book.”
“I know.” Ray got up, pulling Pascal, whose arms were still wrapped around his neck, up with him. “It’s yours.”
“Happy birthday.” Ray kissed Pascal on his lips. “This is for you.” He held out the Kindle. “No more lugging books around with you from now on. But...”
It didn’t happen often but Pascal seemed momentarily lost for words.
“But you may have to fight me for it. Who knew reading could be this much fun?”
Pascal returned Ray’s kiss. Although he didn’t say it, Ray could hear the words as if Pascal had. I did.
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