The roar of the crowd was deafening. Matt looked up into the stands to see his friends cheering and screaming, and further along, Jai and Dominick were smiling at him. Jai's girlfriend blew him kisses and winked. Matt gave her a thumbs-up.
The last football game of the year had come to its end; Matt's last ever game. He graduated in two weeks, and had two job offers already. He was considering taking a post-grad degree, but hadn't got any concrete decisions.
As he left the football field to shower, Liam appeared at his side. Matt smiled at him and they exchanged a hug.
"Awesome. You totally thrashed those guys!"
Matt laughed. It was nice to see Liam again. Their easy friendship and even easier sexuality was something Matt bathed in. The couple had split up a while back, though Liam never knew the full reason. They had spent a number of passion-filled nights together since, but they weren't in a relationship. Liam was pursuing some freshman conquest, and Matt was free, single and happy.
He showered quickly, ignoring most of the excited chatter around him. Jai had asked him to meet up outside, and he didn't want to keep the Brit waiting. He had mentioned a party of some sort, and Matt was interested. In a few weeks most of his friends would be hundreds of miles away, and he wanted to savour every last moment with them.
"Hey, Matt! Coming out tonight?" Someone shouted.
"Sure!" He called back. "I give you a call later!"
"Cool, see you soon."
The sun licked his skin and seared his eyes. Matt slid on a pair of shades and looked around for Jai. The bag over his shoulder was heavy and he moved towards his car to put it down. A voice caught his attention.
He turned politely, doing a double-take. A figure was sitting up on the railing, wearing tight denim shorts which showed a delicious amount of smooth, tanned thigh and a plain white tank top. He swung his leg idly, kicking at the wooden post in front of him with the toe of his trainer. Blue eyes gazed at him coyly from under a lock of blonde hair that hung in his face in an all too-familiar fashion.
"Alex," Matt breathed, feeling overwhelmed. His body reacted instantly, and he tried to think of some difficult multiplication tables in distraction. "I thought you were in San Francisco?"
"Oh, I was." The blonde smiled shyly. "But I couldn't miss the last game of the season now, could I?"
"What, you came all the way back to watch the game or something?"
Alex smiled again, looking heart-breakingly cute. "Or something."
Matt held out a hand to Alex who took it and hopped down from the railing. Matt grinned at the fact that he still stood a foot taller. He looked into Alex's blue eyes and his pulse speeded up.
"You played brilliantly. As always."
"Thank you. You … look lovely. As always."
Alex laughed, a pure, happy, carefree sound and Matt flashed back to a thousand times in the past when that laugh had caused him to fall further in love.
"I was meant to meet Jai."
"You weren't." Matt stared in confusion. "He only said that so I could meet you."
"Sneaky little bastard!"
"Yes, well. He's British, what do you expect?" They traded warm smiles. Alex looked over at the mass of people spilling into the car park and driving away. "Partying tonight?"
"No. Night in, I think. Haven't been invited anywhere."
Matt stared at Alex, watching him watch other people. Out of habit, he reached out a hand and touched his cheek. Alex turned, smiling at him.
"Can I invite you somewhere then, if you aren't busy? Dinner, perhaps."
"No." Alex said simply.
"No?" Matt was utterly thrown.
"The captain of the football team has to party with his team-mates. It's tradition."
Matt took Alex's hand cautiously. Their eyes met and locked.
"I'd much rather be with you. How long are you back for?"
"Two days. Maybe even longer … if something comes up." Alex gave Matt a very coy half-glance. "You don't have to take me to dinner."
"I want to."
They walked to Matt's car, talking easily. It was exactly like old-times, apart from the sexual chemistry had never been this blatant. Matt put it down to Alex's revealing outfit.
He had always been a legs and ass man, and those denim shorts were torturing him. Alex's tanned legs seemed to go on forever, and when he turned Matt could just see the crease where ass met thigh. He swallowed hard. He held the door for Alex, then went round the other side. People greeted him and he waved back.
"Anywhere … as long as you're there." Alex whispered. A sudden, intense shyness gripped him, a terror that Matt would refuse him, that he was only doing this to be polite. He had pined for Matt, and the need to be his once more was crippling.
Matt pulled the car out of the parking lot and drove for a while, just listening to Alex's breathing. Abruptly, he pulled off into an enclosed area surrounded by trees. Sunlight filtered down in shafts, warming their skin.
He turned to Alex, who was gazing at him with suppressed longing.
"Why did you come here?"
Alex hesitated a moment. Then, seeing no reason not to be utterly honest, said, "To see you again." He gazed out of the window. "Are you seeing anybody?" He asked in what he hoped was a casual tone.
"No. Not for a while. Free and single. Yourself?"
"No. Not since Jayden … I couldn't." Turning to look into Matt's eyes, he took a deep breath and went for it. "You'll probably hate me for saying this. I came hoping … hoping that you could … could love me again." The words were out, they couldn't be taken back. "It's stupid, you never will, but I just hoped …"
"Why is it stupid?" Matt asked. He reached for Alex's hand stroking his soft skin, bronzed by the San Francisco summer. "Ally, look at me." Their eyes met, and Alex's were tear-filled. "On that night by the lake, all I wanted was to take you in my arms and kiss you. Hold you and love you. It was too difficult back then, the pain was too fresh."
"And now?" Alex whispered, holding out in desperate hope.
"If you want to … if you want me back … then I'm yours."
A heartbeat of silence, broken by Alex's shriek of utter joy. He scrambled into the older man's lap and kissed him, laughing and crying at the same time. Matt held him close, dipping his tongue deep into Alex's mouth, lips exploring every inch of his face and neck.
Alex hadn't changed. His scent, his feel, his taste were exactly the same. For one wild moment, the last few months hadn't happened. They hadn't spent time apart, hadn't fought, hadn't been with others. They had laughed, kissed, loved fiercely and exclusively. Nothing could separate them.
Matt pulled back, holding Alex tightly.
"I love you baby," He whispered. "Always have, always will. Nobody will love you like I love you. Be mine forever?"
"Yes," Alex sighed into his chest, tears of pure joy running down his cheeks. "I'll always be yours. Until the day I die."
Taking Alex's hand, Matt slid his own silver ring onto the blonde's wedding band finger. They kissed and held each other until the sky turned red, until the moon came up and stars splashed the sky. Years on, Alex still wears Matt ring, and Matt wears his. And that's the way it will always be.
'Until the day I die.'