He sees the Burgesses taking the boxes out to the taxi. There aren't many; Theodore's a simple boy, and life at Summoners' Point means that worldly possessions are in short supply.
But Theodore isn't returning until next summer. He's barely got enough money to cover his tuition fees, let alone maintenance costs. Sure, there'll be communication, but he won't see Theodore in the flesh for an entire year. Christopher isn't going to let him go just like that.
He rushes downstairs, dodging around people as he goes. They open their mouths to argue, he can see, but no one says anything. One of their own is leaving, and it's no secret that Christopher and Theodore were an item. Thinking back, that's always been common knowledge; Theodore and Christopher haven't ever told anyone about them, but everyone knows anyway.
He arrives into the entrance hall just in time to see Theodore pulling a large black suitcase behind him, with a green backpack slung over his shoulder. He's headed for the door, and for a moment Christopher hesitates.
Theodore's leaving, moving on; going where Christopher can't follow. He doesn't want to let him leave in the first place, but he can't very well hold Theodore back, not when this could be his big break. Christopher loves him enough to give him that, that's for sure.
Theodore pauses at the door, surveying the hall one last time before he goes. As he sees Christopher on the stairs, he smiles, beckoning him over. Christopher's still got a nugget of unease in the pit of his stomach, but he goes.
Once they're close enough, Christopher throws his arms around Theodore's waist, burying his head into Theodore's neck. Neither of them are crying yet, but Christopher braces himself for the inevitable moment where the dam breaks and the tears come flowing out.
Christopher pulls away. "So. I guess this is goodbye." He sighs at the thought of it. Pull yourself together, Christopher. It's not as if he's dying. "I mean, I don't think we've ever been apart for more than a few hours."
Theodore laughs, albeit ruefully. "No, I don't think we have. But I'll be back. This isn't the end of us, I promise." He adjusts his rucksack so it fits better on his shoulder; the hug means that it had been in danger of falling off.
He smiles. "Anything, just call me, okay? Once you get yourself a phone, that is." Theodore laughs again, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a red flip phone. He flicks it open with his thumb, before snapping it shut again. "I suspect you're going to keep that away from Sam before he has a chance to take it apart?"
"Oh, absolutely. Dad still hasn't got over the time she took the grandfather clock apart when she was seven. I suppose it's a lot less busy now he's gone, though." Christopher smiled. Theodore's older brother has just left to start his third year of engineering at university, but when they were children, Sam had an uncanny knack for dismantling things. It suffices to say that some of those things should not have been dismantled.
"Oh, by the way," Theodore interjects. "Sam goes by Nicholas now. I keep forgetting to talk about that."
Christopher narrows his eyes. "Oh, really? Why's that?"
Theodore laughs to himself. "Basically, what went down when my parents named Nicholas was that my mother was naming her firstborn son in memory of her late brother, Sam."
"Okay, that's not so weird," replies Christopher. "Sort of sweet, even. I'm assuming there's a second part to this story, though."
Theodore laughs again, nodding softly. "It seems that all of my aunts and uncles had the same idea. Including our late Uncle Sam, who, as it turns out, is very not late."
Christopher's eyes widen slowly. "So, you mean—"
Theodore nods, practically tipping his head back with laughter. "There are seven Samuels in our generation. Most of them are Scottish, born and bred. They're all having to go by their middle names now."
Christopher laughs with him. "None of them are still going by Samuel?"
Theodore shakes his head. "They offered it to the eldest, Adam, but he's been going by Adam for so long anyway that he didn't want it anymore. Besides, they all agree that it wouldn't be fair if one of them got to keep the name and the rest of them had to sacrifice it. At least this way they're a lot more distinguishable."
Christopher nods. "I guess so." He pauses, considering the information for a moment. "You're going to have to keep correcting me for a while, though."
Theodore shakes his head. "The next time you see Nicholas, you'll probably be meeting the rest of them too. And if you call him Sam, the rest of them are going to stare at you like you've just twisted your arm off."
Christopher can't help but laugh heartily at that. "I can't wait to see you again." Another pause follows, as he debates whether to speak his next words or not. "I'm going to miss you."
"Me too," Theodore replies. "But this isn't the end. Just remember that."
As Christopher nods and smiles to himself, the door opens and Theodore's father's head appears. He whistles to signify to his son that it was time for him to leave. Theodore whistles back before leaning in and kissing Christopher straight on the lips. Christopher's stomach lurches at the gesture. He'll never get over kissing Theodore, the quiet and soft subtlety of Theodore's lips on his.
After three long, agonising seconds, Theodore pulls away, with tears in his eyes. He dabs quickly at them before turning toward the door, pulling it open wide. Turning back, he smiles, blowing Christopher one last kiss, before disappearing beyond the door into the open air, closing it behind him.
Christopher stares for a minute or two. The world continues to turn, and the bustle of life at Summoners' Point continues around him. He lets this carefully crafted front slip for a moment, as he thinks about what life is going to be like for the next few year. It'll be strange, for sure, and he can't help but feel the rising terror jumping out of every pore in his body. And yet, it's coupled with a stubborn determination. The future may be uncertain
He stands back, and lets the sheer magnitude of the universe and everything in it envelope him, as Theodore had taught him to do when they were younger and Theodore had been enamoured by the stars.
Then the front comes up again. Summoners' Point wouldn't protect itself.