Chapter Twelve - Gap Year

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William had to spend another year in school before he could leave. Gabe, on the other hand, was taking a gap year. In Spain.

"I want to go places," he'd told William "I hate to be a cliche, but I want to do shit."

"So in order to 'do shit', you're going to live in a country you've been to loads of times and you can speak the language fluently?"

He left in December.

They called each other almost every day. Gabe had managed to get a "super fancy update for my phone, so I can call you like, whenever, and it won't cost me my life savings!" 

"I miss you, babe." William had whined over their most recent phone call. It'd been four months since he'd seen his boyfriend in the flesh, and his final exams were far too near for him to not panic.

"It's not that long, Bilvy," Gabe sighed, smiling to himself. "Just a few more months. Besides, with me on my gap year, we can start uni at the same time!"

"Doing completely different things, dipshit. I'd barely get to see you."

"What happened to us moving in together?" William could almost hear Gabe pouting at him.

"Well, one of us blew all their money on living in Spain for a year and can't seem to earn it back," William hissed harshly "And the other one is working their tits off in Lush four days a week despite having major exams to prepare for."

"Sweetie, I'm sorry, I..." Gabe trailed off, unsure of what to say. He always felt quite afraid of William when he got angry, because he never got angry about anything. So if William was angry, it was important.

"No, it's fine. I'm sorry I snapped, it's just," he sighed "I don't know."

"I have to go." Gabe rushed. He might not know what he was going to say, but he certainly knew what he was going to do.

***

The next few phone calls were somewhat rushed - instead of the usual hour or two, they would only last twenty minutes or so. Gabe always seemed to be so busy, but he always promised William that he would make it up to him.

It was two days before William's birthday - which meant almost an entire year since the two had been together.

"He'll probably forget, won't he?" William said to himself every time he thought about their anniversary. He would always dismiss the thought, telling himself that Gabe would remember, that he'd never forget something so important to William, but he couldn't help doubting himself.

Gabe hadn't picked up the phone the day before. William had just assumed he'd left his phone at home to charge when he went out - he did that so often - and by the time he got back, it was too late to call. William tried phoning him again that night, but it went straight to voicemail. He tried not to worry, but he couldn't help thinking something was wrong.

The day before William's birthday also marked two months until his final exam. Gabe's phone wasn't switched off, but he didn't answer it. He struggled to sleep that night.

***

After only three hours of sleep, William woke up at seven o'clock on his birthday. There were no celebrations. He didn't have time for them anymore - he had a seven hour shift at work and then the whole evening would be taken up with studying. His entire body was weak and all he wanted to do was stay in bed all day, just have one day to himself. He sighed, knowing that those things just don't happen when you grow up, and tried to make a list of positives in his head. Realising he'd need it to get through the day, he wrote them down in the notes on his phone.

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