Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Prologue: The Idea
Tracey was stuck. He was fully aware of his beloved's birthday approaching, but alas, he had no idea what he would give him. He'd casually asked what the desired gift should be, only to be told anything would make him happy. He'd gone over ideas in his head, but nothing seemed good enough.
He decided to seek advice for this problem, so he went to visit two of his friends. He rang the doorbell, and the door soon opened. "Tracey! What a pleasant surprise! Come on in!" Misty greeted enthusiastically.
"Thanks, Misty." He entered the house. "So, how's everything been?"
"Not too bad." She patted her swollen stomach. "The little one has settled down so my morning sickness is finally over."
"Is your child healthy?"
"Yes, and the doctor said that next visit, we're able to find out the gender. Ash and I still haven't decided if we want to know or if we'd rather be surprised."
"Well, I'm sure you're going to be a great mother, you're a very nurturing woman."
"Thanks, Trace." She sat at the table. "Ash should be back any minute, he just went to get a couple of things. So, what's up? How's everything between you and Cilan?"
"It's great. Though..."
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing really. It's just that Cilan's birthday is coming up and I still have no idea what to get him."
"Oh, that's right, it's in a few days, isn't it?"
"Yeah, so I'm kind of on a deadline."
"Has he given any hints?"
"No. I even tried asking him if he wanted something in particular, but he said anything would make him happy. I've tried to come up with ideas, but nothing sounds right."
"What about one of your sketches?"
"Misty...you know how I feel about them..."
"I do. But, you've been told hundreds of times that they look lifelike. You've got to stop being so modest. Anyway, a sketch would be perfect because not only is it really from you, I know you put your heart and soul into each work of yours. So, I think you should give Cilan a sketch you're going to make."
"You're right. Thanks for the suggestion, Misty."
"Anytime." She heard the door open and close. "Sounds like Ash is back."
Just as Misty finished her sentence, Ash entered the kitchen. He was carrying three plastic bags filled with different things. "Hey, Misty. You wouldn't believe how packed the stores were, it's incredible I didn't take longer than I should have." He set the bags down on the bench, stepped over to his wife and gave her a peck on the cheek. He then turned to Tracey. "How's it goin', Trace?"
"Everything's been great, Ash. And you?"
"Can't complain. How's Cilan going?"
"That's good. So, what brings you here today?"
"I just came to visit and seek advice. I didn't know what to get Cilan for his birthday, but Misty suggested I make a sketch for him."
"I agree with Mist. From the days we were kids, you've always been a great artist. I think Cilan would appreciate it."
"Yeah. That's why I will do that."
"Good on you! Hey, I had an idea! You and Cilan have been best friends since kindergarten, right? Maybe you could get a new sketchbook and make sketches of memories of the two of you through the years."
"Great idea! I'd better go home and start working on it then. Thanks for your help, I'll see you next time."
"No problem. I'll show you to the door."
"You don't have to do that, Ash. Anyway, see you! Bye, Misty!" He made his way out of the kitchen, and out of the house.
Misty let out a gasp. "Ash, come over here."
"What is it?"
"The baby just kicked." She took Ash's hand and placed it on her stomach. "Do you feel it?"
Ash nodded, a smile on his face. "Sometimes, I still can't believe I'm going to be a dad, but reminders like these make me even more eager to meet our child."
Tracey had to make a quick stop at an art supplies shop to purchase a new sketchbook, as well as more pencils. He double-checked that he had everything he'd come for, and when satisified, he made his way to the cash register.
Tracey had just entered the house and switched on the light when he heard the phone ring. He hurried to answer it. "Hello, this is Tracey."
"Hey, Cilan. I was just thinking about calling you. How are you?"
"Good, thank you. Yourself?"
"Yes, I'm alright, though I miss you like crazy."
"I miss you too, Tracey."
"How are your brothers?"
"They're well. Cress has been teasing Chilli non-stop though since he has a crush on someone."
Tracey laughed. "The tables have turned. How's he handling a dose of his own medicine?"
Cilan chuckled. "He's acting like he did as a child, complete with that adorable pout of his."
"Is the celebration going well?"
"Mostly. Chilli had too much to drink last night and made a fool out of himself. I don't think I'd ever seen Cress so red before."
More laughing. "What's on the agenda for tomorrow?"
"The amusement park. It's the one we went to on our last family holiday."
"Sounds like fun!"
"Oh yes, though I imagine Chilli will tease me non-stop about the rides. I'm still not too keen on the high-speed rides."
"Don't let him get to you. He knows as well as I do why you don't like them. I think his teasing is a way to egg you on so much, you'll go on the rides to prove him wrong."
"That sounds about right. He did the same to Cress concerning his fear of the ferris wheel, and now he goes on it every time. So, what are you up to?"
"I finally know what to give you. I'll be working on it while you're away."
"Tracey, you don't have to get me anything."
"I know, but I want to. Anyway, I can't tell you any more about it. What else do you and your brothers have planned?"
"Chilli and I are dragging Cress to a karaoke bar. We love it, but Cress always claims he'd rather swim with sharks than do karaoke."
Tracey chuckled. "I remember our first concert back in kindergarten. Cress immediately wanted to be a tree so he wouldn't have to sing."
"The two of us were terrified of the very idea of singing in front of everyone."
"But then, we saw our parents wave, and we knew we'd be okay."
"We were quiet at first, but we saw everyone dancing to the song, and we started to sing louder."
"The next thing we knew, we were having so much fun we forgot our stage fright."
"When our song came to an end, we were just that happy, we hugged each other."
"It was only after hearing everyone say aww that we remembered we were in front of a lot of people."
"But, it didn't bother us, and since that day, we found we could always beat our stage fright by simply having fun."
"It helped when we decided to sing in our fourth grade talent show."
"That was fun. Do you remember the song?"
"I never forgot it."
"Anyway, I'd better get going, Chilli's reminding me that this is a long distance call."
"Alright. Say hi to your brothers for me."
"Of course. Bye, Tracey. I love you so much."
"Bye, Cilan, I love you too, more than words can describe." He heard Cilan had hung up, so he rested the phone on the hook, thus breaking the connection from both ends. That conversation helped spark his inspiration.
Tracey looked at old photos of him and Cilan from the days they were children. That way, he'd be able to make it so the sketches were like photos of their life. He found one from when they were both four years old. He smiled fondly as he gazed at the children being caught off-guard. Neither he nor Cilan liked having their pictures taken until they were at least eight or nine years of age. He knew what the first sketch was to be, so he grabbed his new sketchbook and pencils. After opening the book and selecting the right pencil, he got to work.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter One: The Day They Met
"Come now, Tracey, I'm sure these kids are nice," Marie whispered as she tried to get Tracey to let go of her skirt and stop hiding behind her.
Tracey's response was gripping the fabric tighter.
Marie was about to try again, but she saw someone she'd known since her school days. "Telisha?"
The young woman, a mother of three boys, looked over to where the familiar voice came from. "Marie! It's lovely to see you again!" She and her boys stepped over to her old friend. "So, it's your little one's first day as well?"
"Yes." She looked at her son. "Tracey, this is Telisha, we used to go to school together." She saw him wave, but didn't hear him say anything. "I'm sorry, he's very shy."
"It's alright, Cilan here is the same."
Chilli and Cress noticed a lot of kids playing and decided they wanted to join in. "Bye-bye, Mummy!" they called as they ran off.
Telisha giggled. "Chilli and Cress seem excited."
"So, you had triplets?"
"Yes. Tell you what, Marie, we should go out for coffee and catch up."
"That sounds like a fine idea."
A tiny green-haired boy peered out from behind his mother's legs, he had a tight grip on her pants.
Telisha looked down to her son. "Cilan, why don't you go and play with your brothers?"
Cilan shook his head. "I don't wanna...I wanna go home with you..."
"Now now, Cilan..."
Tracey looked at the slightly smaller boy. He felt his grip loosening as he was being moved to stand in front of his mother. He saw the same thing was happening to Cilan.
"Here's someone you can be friends with. Cilan, this is Tracey, he's about the same age you are. Why don't you say hello?"
Cilan bowed his head shyly. "Um...hi..."
Tracey did the same thing. "Hi..."
He took a chance and looked at the other boy. He was okay and his mother was right there, so he was going to be alright. "Um...do you...want to go play?"
Tracey smiled slightly as he looked up at the smaller boy. He nodded and held his hand out so Cilan could hold it. "Mummy says that if we hold hands, then we'll be safe."
Cilan nodded and held Tracey's hand.
"Now then, why don't you go and play?" Marie suggested.
The boys nodded and looked up at their mothers. "Okay. Bye-bye, Mummy." They walked over to a quieter area, still not sure about the other kids. Tracey turned to the green-haired boy. "What do you wanna do?"
Cilan looked back for his mother, but she'd already left. His bottom lip trembled and he tightened his hold on Tracey's hand. "Mummy's gone..."
"Don't worry. If we hold hands, we'll be safe, even if our mummies aren't here."
Cilan quietly nodded. He heard Chilli cry out in amusement. "We'll be okay." He saw some paper. "Can we draw?"
"Sure!" Tracey brightened, he loved drawing.
They sat at the table drawing anything that came to mind. Tracey looked at the picture of a monkey that Cilan drew. "Nice monkey!"
Cilan nodded happily. "We saw him at the zoo! He was funny!" He saw the picture of a mouse that Tracey was drawing. "Cute!"
"I like mice. Mummy doesn't, so I can't have one."
"Daddy sneezes around cats and dogs so we can't have one. But, we have toy dogs instead. You could have a toy mouse."
The shyness around each other had faded as they continued to draw and talk. The next thing they knew, they had a best friend.
Tracey concluded his first sketch, it was of him and Cilan shyly meeting each other, his hand extended so Cilan could hold it, then they'd feel safe. It had become a habit of theirs to hold hands whenever they felt insecure, it still helped to ease them even in their adult years.
The artist gazed at the clock, and realised it was getting late. "Well, that's one done. I'll take a break and continue tomorrow." He closed the book and put it away so it would stay safe. He stood up and stretched. He heard a beeping sound coming from his pocket and realised he'd received a text message on his phone. He pulled a black and orange flip-phone out of his pocket and saw he'd received a message from Cilan. He opened the phone and read the message. "I'm sure you're getting ready for bed now, you've never been good with late nights. Smiley-face. Good night. Sweet dreams. I love you and miss you. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Heart. I'd better let him know I got it." He opened the message program and started typing his response. "Of course, you know me all too well. Good night. Sweet dreams. I'll always love you and am missing you tremendously. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Heart. That should do it." He clicked on the send reply option. Once he'd received confirmation that his message had been sent, he closed his phone and pocketed it. Right on cue, he let out a loud yawn. "Yep! Definitely time for bed." He set about going through his night-time ritual before finally climbing into bed, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter Two: We Even Shared Sorrowful Times
Tracey was staying at Cilan's house. They had fun playing video games with Chilli and Cress. They heard the phone ring, but none of the boys paid it any mind, they knew Telisha would answer it. They could hear her talking, but still focused on the game. The next thing the children knew, Telisha ran into the room. "Turn off your game and grab your coats. We're going to the hospital."
"But, we're not sick," Chilli protested.
"No. We're going to see someone." Telisha knelt in front of Tracey. "Your parents were in an accident."
"Are they okay?" Tracey whispered.
Cilan could tell by the look on his mother's face that something was wrong. "Mum?"
Telisha started crying. "They're not. Tracey, we're going to say goodbye to your parents." She felt Cress and Chilli hug her as she broke down. She saw Cilan hug Tracey, both boys crying too. "I'm so sorry, Tracey..."
The group hurried into the hospital, the boys following Telisha to the reception desk. "Please tell me where I can find Marie and Andrew Sketchit. They were brought in this evening after a car crash."
"Are you family?"
"I'm Marie's friend. I've brought their son to see them."
"Alright. They are in that room over there. You're permitted to enter as well."
"Thank you." Telisha turned to the boys. "Come along. We're going to see them now."
The receptionist watched as the group entered the room. "Poor child," she whispered with a shake of her head.
"Mum! Dad!" Tracey hurried to the gap between the beds. They looked like they were asleep; if only they weren't covered head to toe in bandages and hooked up to numerous machines. "I'm here! Please wake up!"
Telisha and her children stood behind Tracey. Tears filled her eyes again as she heard all of the beeping slowing. "Tracey, you should say it now. They can hear you."
"Mum, Dad, I love you. I want to see you again. But, I know I can't. I'll be alright, Miss Delia will be looking after me, right? So will Aunty Telisha. And I won't be alone because I have friends like Cilan and Ash. I want you to stay here...I want to play with you some more. I want Dad to tell a joke and Mum to sing. But, I know you have to go."
Telisha tried pulling all of her boys close to her, but Cilan moved to hug Tracey again. "Goodbye, Marie. Goodbye, Andrew."
Tracey felt Cilan hug him. "Goodbye, Mum. Goodbye, Dad." As soon as he'd said those words, both heartrate monitors flatlined, as if both parents had held on long enough for Tracey to tell them what he had to. Tracey turned to Cilan, held him and cried. He felt Cilan shaking and knew he was crying too. He heard sobs coming from Telisha, Chilli and Cress. There wasn't a dry eye in that room.
Tracey bolted awake. His vision was blurred by tears. Usually, whenever that memory hit in his dreams, Cilan would hold him and they'd cry together, just as they had the night he'd lost his parents. But, this night, he felt alone. "I need you, Cilan..." he whispered before breaking down. He heard the phone ring, so he tried swallowing back his sobs so he could answer it. He reached over and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"I knew it..."
"Cilan...thank goodness, it's you. How did you know?"
"I started weeping in my sleep. Really, the only times that happens are moments like these. Are you alright?"
"No... I wish you were here right now."
"I know... I'll keep talking with you so you won't feel so alone. Okay?"
"You're using the cordless phone in our room, right?"
"Good. I want you to find one of my personal belongings. Anything. You can hold that while we talk."
Tracey picked up Cilan's pillow and held it close. "I've got your pillow."
"Okay, that's good. Now, what happened in the flashback dream?"
"It replayed the whole night. I was staying at your house, playing video games with you and your brothers. The phone rang and Aunty Telisha answered it. She came in and told us that we had to go to the hospital, as my parents had been in an accident and I needed to say goodbye. The flashback ended as my parents...and we all cried..." Tears fell from his eyes, his voice breaking.
Cilan breathed deeply. "And, then you woke..." His voice was also breaking.
"Why does it still affect me so much to have these?"
"You love your parents and miss them greatly. Over time, you have healed, but it's alright to still grieve. The memory is still painful. How frequent have these been?"
"Not very frequent. I think they've been coming every three or four months."
"Yes, it's not as frequent as it used to be. You're definitely healing."
"They're still very painful...when will the pain end?"
A sob escaped him, he couldn't ever stand knowing Tracey was in pain. "One day, it will. But, the only reason it hurts is because you love them."
"Cilan? Can we cry together? I don't know how much longer I can hold them back..."
"Of course. I'm ready to burst myself."
Tracey let out a small whimper as his cries came forth. He could hear Cilan crying as well. He held Cilan's pillow close, imagining he was holding his beloved.
The sobs soon eased into hitched breaths, and soon, those too came to an end. They were silent for a few seconds.
"Do you feel alright now?"
Tracey nodded and let out a hum of affirmation. "Yeah, I do. How about you?"
"Knowing you'll be alright, I'll be okay."
"Thank you for listening."
"It's always a pleasure to help you. I wish I could've been there to hold you, lend you my strength."
"You were still with me. Thank you."
"I'm starting to feel tired...and I've noticed you are too..."
Cilan chuckled softly. "Ever the observant one. Now, just close your eyes for a second."
"Okay." He did so. "They're closed."
"Normally, I give you a kiss on your temple after moments like the one we just shared. I want you to picture me doing that." He raised the index finger of his other hand up to the mouthpiece and gently kissed it, hoping Tracey could hear it.
Tracey did hear it, it helped imagining Cilan kiss him. "Thank you, Cilan." He lay down. "I love you."
"I love you too, Tracey. Good night."
"I'll talk to you tomorrow," he whispered.
"May you have a restful slumber. Bye."
"You too. Bye." He heard Cilan had hung up, so he clicked the button and replaced the receiver on the stand so it could charge up. He held the pillow and buried his nose into it so he could inhale his beloved's scent, just like when they held each other. His sleep was restful, he didn't have any dreams.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter Three: And The Green Grass Grew All Around...
Due to waking in the middle of the night, Tracey woke an hour and a half later than he expected. He sat up, stretched and yawned. He wiped his eyes to get the sleep out of them. Out of habit, he turned to the other side of the bed, ready to give Cilan a good morning greeting. He stopped himself when he remembered his beloved was away. "Cilan..." Maybe it was because of what happened last night, but he was feeling lonely. He closed his eyes and sighed. "Maybe I should work on the next sketch. Cilan's probably on his way to the amusement park, so I can't call Chilli's place, and texting is saved for night time greetings or times we are unable to talk." He thought about what his next work should be. He thought it would be best to go through the years, not just put them in randomly. "The most significant events in kindergarten were the day we met...and the concert! I know, I'll draw us singing that song, our classmates around us in their costumes...let's see...that's right, we have a photo from the end of that performance, I can take references from that!" He climbed out of bed and got dressed into a comfortable t-shirt and pair of tracksuit pants, just simple clothes for around the house.
After breakfast, Tracey went through the photos and found one that had been taken as he and Cilan hugged each other after finishing the song. He couldn't remember if this was taken by his mother or Telisha as they'd both taken one. He saw Cress dressed as a tree, Chilli was an egg. His other classmates were a nest, a bird, one was holding a tube with green crepe paper balls glued onto it, and one held up a black circle made out of paper. He and Cilan wore green shirts and shorts. "Okay, I've got it now." He put pencil to paper and started working.
"Alright, is everyone ready?" the teacher asked.
"Yes, Miss!" the students chorused.
"Okay then! Do your best!"
The music started as the teacher walked off the stage and the curtain rose. The kids looked around for their parents and waved.
Tracey and Cilan felt nervous. They liked singing, but not in front of a lot of people. They found their parents and felt a little more comfortable. To help them feel safe, they held hands as they started to sing. As the song continued, they found they'd forgotten about their stage fright. All of the students started to dance around as the song continued, even Cress decided to.
"So the bird was in the egg
And the egg was in the nest
And the nest was on the branch
And the branch was on the tree
And the tree was in the hole
And the hole was in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around~!" they finished with the other kids, everyone spinning as they sung all around.
The parents clapped and cheered for all of the children. Tracey and Cilan were so happy that they had finished the song, they hugged each other. "We did it!"
"Aww~!" the parents, teacher and other students chorused.
They blushed, realising everyone was watching them hug. Even so, they didn't break the embrace.
"There. That one is finished." He heard a beeping coming from his mobile, so he opened it and opened the message. "Chilli dragged us onto fastest ride. I feel so sick. X open parentheses. Will be recovering. Make me better? Love you. Miss you. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Heart. Poor thing..." He wrote back. "Make Chilli suffer in return for this. Evil grin. I hope you feel better. Try having some herbal tea or ginger ale to ease your stomach. Have lots of rest. I love you. I miss you. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Hug. Heart. And, send." He heard the beeping a few seconds later. "Chilli is being forced to play nurse. Evil grin. It is his fault I feel sick. Cress agrees with ginger ale for my stomach. I love you. I miss you. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Hug. Heart." His stomach rumbled. "Ah...I should get some lunch." He got up and made his way to the kitchen.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter Four: More Friends
After lunch, Tracey returned to the living room. "That's better." He closed his eyes and thought about what his next sketch should be. "After the concert...nothing much that was significant really took place. Oh, wait! Our first Halloween together!" He shifted through the photos and found one of six boys in different costumes. He knew three of them were Cilan and his brothers, one was his neighbour Ash, one was Ash's older cousin Brock, and one was himself. It was that night, he'd learned Cilan was afraid of ghosts.
Tracey stood there, wearing a dog costume. Of course, if anyone asked, he'd say he was a werewolf. He was with Delia, she was dressed as the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz, Brock was dressed as a vampire and Ash was a munchkin, also from Wizard of Oz. He saw the door open, and there were Telisha, Chilli and Cress. "Happy Halloween!" the group greeted.
"Happy Halloween!" Telisha and two of her sons replied.
"Aunty Telisha, where is Cilan?" Tracey asked
"He's in his room, Tracey. He can't decide what to dress up as," Telisha explained. "Maybe you can help him."
"Okay!" Tracey hurried into the house, vaguely hearing Chilli explain he's a devil and Cress stating he's Frankenstein.
Cilan sat in his room, and when Tracey entered, he could see his friend was troubled. "What's the matter?"
Cilan sighed. "I don't like Halloween..."
"Why not? We get to dress up and get treats!"
"But, we have to dress up as scary things. Chilli said so."
"Chilli's a liar. Miss Delia and Ash aren't scary. Miss Delia is pretty and Ash is cute. Look at me! Mummy made me wear this."
"Why did Aunty Marie make you cute?"
"We don't have to be scary."
"Good. I don't like scary things."
"Really?" Tracey sat beside his friend.
"I'm scared of ghosts."
"Yeah. I'm scared of snakes." He patted Cilan's shoulder. "Will you come trick-or-treating?"
"Okay. But, what can I be?"
Tracey looked around the room, thinking hard. He saw a little blanket and a cardboard crown from a fast food restaurant. "I know!" He got to his feet, and moved around the room, grabbing both items. He placed the crown on Cilan's head and tied the blanket around his neck like a cape. He bowed. "King Cilan."
"King? But, I'm too little. How about a prince?"
"Okay, Prince Cilan."
The boys laughed. Cilan got to his feet and hugged his best friend. "Thank you, Tracey." He let go and held his hand instead. "Let's go!"
"Okay! We're a prince and his were...dog! His dog!"
"It's okay if you're a werewolf because you're not scary to me."
"Yeah. I'm a cute and friendly werewolf. Awoo~!"
Cilan laughed again.
"And I will protect you from all the scary things!"
"Thank you, Tracey."
Tracey finished the sketch of him and Cilan in their costumes holding out their trick-or-treat bags as someone dropped some small lollies and novelties into them. "I remember after that when we went into a haunted house, Cilan was trembling all the way through it, even though we were holding hands. He wasn't kidding when he said he was afraid of ghosts." He looked at the clock. "I think I can get another done before dinner. What happened next?" He went through the photos to find the next significant event. "Most of them are picnics, following Halloweens, photos Mum and Aunty Telisha couldn't resist taking...oh, here we are." He held up a photo including himself, Cilan, Ash and Misty. "This is when we met Misty at school!"
The four boys saw Ash waving from the agreed meeting place. Of course, he was facing the other way, so it was hard to tell if he was actually waving to them.
Chilli let out a gasp when he saw a little girl running to Ash. "A girl! Ash has a girl friend!"
"Surprising she's joining us for lunch. Or maybe, she and Ash will eat by themselves," Cress mused.
"Let's go over there. She looks like a nice girl," Cilan suggested.
"I agree. It's awesome Ash made a new friend so quickly! I think this will make Miss Delia happy," Tracey added as they made their way to their lunchspot.
Ash finally turned to them. "Hurry!"
"We're coming, Ash!" Tracey was used to Ash's impatience, he'd have to be after being playmates for years.
Everyone was at the area. "Hi! I'm Misty!" the girl greeted. "I'm in Ash's class."
"Hi, Misty. I'm Tracey. This is Cilan and his brothers Chilli and Cress. It's nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you."
"Do you and Ash sit beside each other?" Cress asked.
"No. We're friends because he saved my life. There was a big bug beside me, and Ash saw it and he picked it up and took it outside. I don't like bugs."
The children sat down and started eating their lunch. Chilli smirked. "So, Ash, is Misty your girlfriend?"
Ash blinked in confusion. "Huh?"
"Chilli, Ash is still too young to understand," Cress sighed. "Besides, I'm sure it's obvious that she is."
"Come on, you two, stop teasing them," Cilan chided.
Tracey started laughing to himself. He felt Ash tap his shoulder. "What's up, Ash?"
"What does Chilli mean?"
"Well, it's like this. There are two ways someone is a girlfriend. First, Misty is a girl, and she is your friend."
"Ohh...then, Misty is my girlfriend!"
"But, I think Chilli meant in the way that you two would get married."
"No way! Boys are icky!" Misty protested.
"And girls have cooties!" Ash added.
The older boys laughed.
"Hey, Tracey? Does this mean Cilan is your boyfriend? He is a boy and he is a friend, right?"
"No. He's a boy and he's my best friend!"
"For years after that, Chilli and Cress continued to tease Ash and Misty about their relationship. They were especially ruthless in high school." Tracey finished the sketch of the six of them sitting on the grass and eating their lunch. "Right! Time for dinner!" He set down his sketchbook and pencil, got to his feet and made his way to the kitchen.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter Five: Beating Our Stage Fright
"That's better. Now, one more sketch before bed. I'm almost done. Now, what will be next? Hmm...that same year, Cilan and I were in the talent show. We decided to defeat our stage fright by performing in front of the whole school. It took us a while to decide what song to sing, but we finally settled on..."
"How are you feeling, Trace?"
"Nervous. I'm worried I might forget the words."
"I know what you mean. I feel the same. But, we'll be alright. As soon as we get into the song and start having fun, we won't have time to be nervous."
"You're right. Just like our concert in kindergarten."
"Next, we have Tracey and Cilan performing Safety Dance," a female student announced.
"This is it!" Just as they did when younger, Cilan held Tracey's hand and allowed the taller boy to lead him onto the stage. He let go when the music started, it was hard to do the dance while holding hands.
Through a lot of the song, they'd sing together, though there were moments they'd have solos.
The song came to an end and the audience applauded them. They held hands and bowed, before Cilan led Tracey off-stage.
"WE DID IT!!!" they exclaimed loudly once they were outside, so as not to disturb anyone watching the next act.
"Cilan! We did it! We didn't mess up and we sounded strong from the start!"
"I know! I think we beat our stage fright!" Cilan hugged Tracey and felt the other boy return the embrace. "Thank you for holding my hand."
"You're welcome. Whenever you feel insecure, you're always welcome to, even when we grow up."
"You're always welcome to hold my hand too."
It wasn't long after that show, Tracey's parents were in the accident that took their lives. He was glad he was able to show them that he and Cilan no longer had a problem with stage fright. He tried not to think of that night. "I should call Cilan, see if he's feeling better." He set down his sketchbook and pencil, got to his feet and walked over to the phone. He picked it up, carried it back to his seat and dialled the number for Chilli's house.
"Hello?" Chilli answered.
"Hi, Chilli, it's Tracey. Is Cilan there?"
"Yeah. Hold on a minute, Trace, I'll get him."
"Okay. Thanks." He heard Chilli call for Cilan.
A minute later, Cilan was on the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey there, Cilan."
"Hello, Tracey. How are you?"
"Still missing you like crazy. I felt lonely this morning."
"Oh, Tracey... Do not worry, I'll be home again in a couple of days."
"I know. I think it's because I found myself remembering that night." He sighed. "How are you feeling?"
"Much better now, thank you for asking. Though, I don't think I can forgive Chilli for literally dragging me onto those rides."
"Literally dragging you?"
"Yes. I would've been kicking and screaming if I wasn't aware of how ridiculous I'd look. Anyway, I think Chilli knows better now, after having to be my nurse all day. I didn't go too far, but I did make it a little difficult for him, just as payback."
The artist laughed. "Do tell."
"An example would be requesting a drink, and leaving out details. When he brought it in, I told him I wanted my drink a certain way."
"Nice one! He should know you're difficult to nurse when you're sick, after that time we all caught chicken pox. I'd caught it from you, then I gave it to Ash."
"Yes, I remember. Chilli is the worst patient though."
"Yeah, that's true."
"Anyway, after everything with the drink, I heard him complaining to Cress about my behaviour. I did get a talking to, but Chilli got the earful. It was along the lines of well, you knew very well what would happen if you took him on one of those rides, so really, you only have yourself to blame."
"What did Cress say to you?"
"It was something like I know you're mad at your brother, but if you annoy him too much, he'll annoy me in return, so take it easy, alright?. Well, I didn't want Cress to be annoyed as he didn't drag me onto the rides as well, so I settled down. Chilli's lucky though, I didn't have him clean up if I didn't make it to the bathroom in time. I tended to that myself. So, what have you been up to today?"
"Just been working on your present."
"You haven't neglected to eat, have you?"
"No. I do part of it and take a break to eat."
"That's good. I know you. When you get into something, you forget everything else around you."
"Yeah, but I've been improving with that problem."
"Are you still going to the karaoke bar?"
"Yes, we're going tonight. We haven't told Cress where we're going, because we know he'll put up a fuss. But, when we get there and he finds out, he'll be annoyed but go with it. He's always been like that."
"Okay. Cool. I'll let you get going then."
"Alright, then. It is getting late anyway, so I imagine you'll soon be crawling into bed. It has been great talking with you, Tracey."
"You too, Cilan. I'm glad you're feeling better. Have a good night!"
"I will. Sweet dreams."
"I hope so. I love you, and I miss you."
"I love you too, and I miss you as well."
Tracey hung up the phone. He saw the clock and knew Cilan was right about it getting late. "I'll make my last few sketches tomorrow." He let out a yawn as he moved through the house, turning off all of the lights, before retreating to his bedroom.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Chapter Six: Help Through A Tough Time
It was a couple of days after the funeral. Tracey was living with Ash and Delia, as it had been decided that she was to be his legal guardian in the event he was orphaned. He liked both of them, but he was still mourning his parents, so he didn't want to talk to them, or even eat. He found it hard to sleep as the image of his parents in the hospital beds would appear every time he closed his eyes.
That was why Delia had organised with Telisha for Cilan to stay with them until Tracey showed signs he was able to function, even while mourning.
Tracey sat in his room, just looking at the wall. He didn't want to do anything, not unless it brought his parents back. But, he knew nothing could.
Cilan and Ash ran into the room, both of them looking worried. Cilan hurried to Tracey's side. "Tracey?"
Tracey blinked a couple of times and turned to see Cilan was beside him. Tears welled in his eyes for the umpteenth time since that night. He clung to Cilan and just cried. He could hear tiny footsteps running to him and felt two pairs of arms wrap around him. He knew one pair was Cilan's, so the other, the smaller arms belonged to Ash. Both boys were also shedding tears. He knew they missed his parents, but he also knew there was more to their cries than just grief.
The crying had eased. Cilan continued to hold Tracey. "Mum told me Miss Delia is worried about you. She didn't say why. When I got here, Ash told me you won't eat, you can't sleep, and you prefer to just sit in here. I didn't want to believe it, but when we came in here, I could see it was true. Tracey, can you talk to me?"
"I miss Mum and Dad. I miss them," Tracey whispered. "I want them to come back. But, I know they won't. That's why I don't want to do anything, because nothing will bring them back."
"I know you miss them, and it's making you really sad. But, you're making us really sad too. You need to eat and you need to sleep. You can do something, and it will be okay."
"I can't sleep. I close my eyes and I see Mum and Dad in the hospital. I can't eat because I feel sick when I do. I can't do something because I'm tired. All I can do is sit and cry."
"I'm going to be here until you feel better. Mum and Miss Delia said I should be with you. Okay?"
He nodded as tears formed in his eyes again. "Okay."
"Good." He stroked Tracey's hair. "You're not alone."
He nodded again. He heard quiet snores.
Cilan breathed out a small chuckle, not in the mood to laugh. "Ash fell asleep. Tracey, you should try to sleep too."
"I can't..." He felt Cilan let go of him. "Cilan?"
"I'm just going to put Ash in his bed, but I'll be right back." He picked Ash up carefully and just got him to the door when Delia came in to check on them. "Ash fell asleep."
"Alright, Dear, I'll put him to bed. You should stay with Tracey. Okay?"
"Okay, Miss Delia." He went back to Tracey's side. "I feel tired too. Come on, let's go to bed." He helped Tracey to his feet and led him to the bed. He gestured for Tracey to climb into the bed, and then he followed. He lay close to him, so close their bodies were touching. He wrapped an arm around him and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead. "I'm here. You're not alone."
Tracey nodded and wrapped an arm around the other boy. He felt some comfort. He just hoped those images would leave him alone so he could finally sleep. He watched as Cilan closed his eyes. He tried to do the same, but that same image returned. He felt a reassuring squeeze and the image faded. He relaxed and fell into slumber, the first after days.
Cilan opened an eye and smiled slightly in relief. "Rest well, Tracey," he whispered before closing his eye and entering dreamland.
Tracey woke from his sleep and saw Cilan was still resting. Normally, he would've felt refreshed after a nap, but he was still feeling tired and weak.
Cilan stirred. "Hey, Tracey. How do you feel?"
"About the same."
"You haven't slept for days, so it's not surprising." He sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"Will I be back to normal?"
"After enough sleep and enough to eat, Are you going to try to eat tonight?"
"But, I don't feel hungry."
"No, you must be starving. Just eat a little, okay? For me?"
"Don't eat too much though. You need to take it easy until you feel better." He helped Tracey sit up and helped him out of bed. "Come on, we'll talk to Miss Delia."
"Okay." He held Cilan's hand and allowed him to lead him out of the room.
"Oh, there you two are! I was worried you'd sleep through dinner," Delia commented. "Did you have a good sleep?" She saw them nod. "That's good. Tracey, do you feel up to eating something?"
"I'm going to try to eat something," the boy replied.
"That's good. I'll give you something small until your body is used to eating again."
"What can I have?"
"How about some cheese and crackers? They're not too much to handle right now. When you're able to handle it, I'll increase it little by little, okay?"
"Okay, Miss Delia."
"Cilan, are you allergic to anything? Is there any food you don't like?"
"I'm not allergic to anything, and the only food I don't like is brussel sprouts," Cilan replied.
"That's fine, then. Ash doesn't like them either, so I'll give you the same as him."
"Okay. Thank you, Miss Delia."
"It's quite alright. Now, why don't you two go and play? It might do some good for you to keep occupied, Tracey."
"Okay," the boys chorused before they left the room.
At dinner, Tracey was the only one to stare at the food. He'd said he was going to try to eat, but the thought made him queasy. "I don't think I can eat..."
Cilan stopped eating and turned to his best friend. "What's wrong?"
"I feel sick..."
The shorter boy frowned. "Tracey, you have to try to eat something, or you'll never feel better."
Delia set down her utensils. "Tracey, what I'm about to say is likely to upset you, and I apologise. But, it must be said. If you continue to starve yourself like this, then I will have to take you to the hospital, and you'll have to be fed nutrients through a drip. If I didn't, and if you didn't eat, then you would die. It has been hard on all of us after your parents passed. I don't know what we would do if you left as well. I'm not asking you to eat a lot, but you really must try to eat. Even if you bring it up afterwards, it's better if you have something in your stomach. Please, Tracey, you must try."
Tracey bowed his head. He knew Delia was right. Even though he missed his parents, he didn't want to die. He shook with silent sobs. "I'm sorry..." he whispered.
Cilan felt his heart breaking as he watched his broken friend cry again. He hopped off his seat and moved it closer to Tracey's side, before climbing back onto it and holding Tracey close. "You're not alone. We'll help you, if you'll let us."
He nodded. "I'm sorry..."
Cilan picked up a cracker. Action was going to have to be taken again. "I'll help you. Here."
Tracey looked at the cracker. He then looked at his best friend. "Cilan?"
"Open your mouth."
He did so. He felt the cracker enter his mouth. The taste it left on his tongue reminded him of how hungry he truly was. His instincts took over and he bit down on it, chewed and swallowed. He took the rest of it from between Cilan's fingertips and continued to eat.
"Thank you, Tracey. Don't eat too much, just what you can."
Delia and Ash watched as Tracey ate. Delia was impressed with Cilan. She'd made a wise choice when requesting he stay with them until it was certain Tracey was going to be alright.
The sunlight filtered in through the window. Tracey stirred and slowly opened his eyes. He sat up and let out a yawn as he stretched. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He felt peaceful that morning. After all, though the memory was of the hardest time of his life, it was a reminder of just how much Cilan had always cared for him. He didn't mean to upset everyone, but he couldn't stop feeling that way. Thankfully, Cilan was there with him through all of it. It may have taken a couple of weeks, but Cilan had helped him function normally. His health soon improved and he was eating regular-sized meals after that. He was thankful he had such a good friend. He continued to think about that as he got dressed and prepared his breakfast.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
This chapter is rated for TEENS.
Chapter Seven: Confessions And Kisses
"Okay then. I'm almost finished with my project. Good thing, too. He's coming home tomorrow night, and his birthday is the day after. I'm up to our high school years now. We were both about fourteen or fifteen years old when feelings developed between us." He picked up his sketchbook and pencil, and he immediately started his next piece.
They were no longer little boys; no longer the kindergartners who sat in a corner drawing their favourite animals, nor were they the primary students who faced their stage fright by singing in front of over a hundred people. No, they were teenagers. Both had started their growth spurts, though it appeared Tracey was always going to be just that bit taller than Cilan. Their voices had broken, though it wasn't always easy for those who didn't know them to notice. They were among the school's heart-throbs and were often asked out by girls. One thing hadn't changed, and that was their utter devotion to each other. No matter where they were, they were always by each other's side. They still had their habit of holding hands whenever they felt insecure.
One day, Cilan felt he had to tell Tracey something serious. They sat on the bench and held hands. Cilan's grip was tighter than usual, a sign he was incredibly nervous. "Tracey, there's something I have to tell you."
"You can tell me anything."
"I don't know about this, though."
"No matter what you tell me, I promise it will never affect our friendship."
"Okay. Tracey...I like guys."
"As in like-like?"
"I'm attracted to them. I find girls to be cute or pretty, but that's all I feel towards them. I'm full-on attracted to males." He shut his eyes tight.
"Thank you for telling me."
He opened his eyes and turned to his best friend. "Tracey..."
"Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me." He was smiling. "Can I tell you a secret?"
"I'm almost the same. I'm attracted to males and females, but mostly to males."
"You've always been the strongest out of both of us. I've been wanting to tell you, but I didn't know how or when. It had to be the right moment."
Cilan smiled, and his grip eased.
Maybe it had been that confession that did it, but both of them started feeling something stronger than friendship towards the other. Maybe it had been building for a long time, but they stopped themselves from feeling anything until they were certain they had a chance. Neither knew when or why or how, all they knew was that they were falling in love with their longtime best friend.
"And then, after a couple of years, we realised it wasn't just a crush caused by hormonal urges, so we took that plunge." He turned the page and started the next picture.
"Hey, Cilan, do you want to go for a walk in the park after school?" Tracey asked of his friend.
"Yes, that sounds like a fine idea to wind-down after our exams," Cilan replied as they moved into the classroom.
"Great! Then whoever finishes first will wait outside the room for the other."
The exams were finally over. Neither of them were out before the other, so they left their classroom together. "How did you do?" Tracey questioned.
"I answered all of the questions, I'm just not a hundred percent sure they were all correct. How about you?"
"I missed about five questions. History has never been my best subject. Anyway, I'm glad that's over for now." He closed the locker and slung his backpack on. He waited for Cilan to do the same, then they both left the school for the day.
The nature in the park was gorgeous. If it was the right season, it would've matched a love-love scene in a shoujo manga. Not only did it help them wind-down after the stress exams bring with them, but it helped calm Tracey enough so he could make his confession. "Hey...Cilan?"
Tracey blushed lightly as he took hold of Cilan's hand. "There's something I want to tell you..."
"What is it?"
"Um...the truth is..." he tightened his grip and his cheeks turned crimson, "...I...I'm in love with you."
Cilan halted and turned to face the taller teen. "Really?"
He nodded. "We have been friends ever since the day we met, and we've faced a lot together. When I was at my worst, you were there for me through everything. I don't know when it happened...but my platonic feelings towards you shifted into romantic. I love you, Cilan."
Cilan's cheeks were red. "Tracey..." He smiled. "You've made me quite possibly the happiest guy in the world. I've had feelings for you for a long time, but I thought they were just a crush. I was content to just continue to be your friend, no matter how long I held romantic feelings for you. But, they've been unbearable lately. I've been thinking about you night and day, I've been dreaming of sharing my first kiss with you. I always want to be with you, Tracey, because I love you too. So much that it hurts."
"I still remember how overjoyed I was when Cilan told me he felt the same way. We both wanted to kiss each other right there, but not everyone is appreciative of the view of two of the same gender sharing a kiss." He turned the page, ready to make his second-last sketch. He put pencil to paper.
They hurried back to Cilan's house, as it was closest to where they were. When they arrived there, they made their way to Cilan's bedroom, and remembered to lock the door so they could have some privacy. They embraced tightly as they sat on the bed. They pulled back enough to look into each other's eyes.
Tracey pushed Cilan enough so the smaller teen would be lying on the bed, while he leaned over him. He noticed how shy Cilan appeared, and he couldn't help but think he looked cute. He smiled lovingly and cupped his cheek. "It's alright, we won't go too far. No matter how well we know each other, we don't have to be too intimate now."
"I'm glad." His eyes were shining. He reached up and cupped the back of Tracey's neck. His breathing had become harsh with anticipation. "Tracey..."
Tracey's breathing was also harsh. He leaned down slowly. "Cilan..." After a couple more inches, their lips were barely touching. He closed his eyes and closed the gap.
Cilan's eyes widened before closing. It was as he'd imagined.
Tracey pulled back briefly. "Is it alright if I make it deeper?"
He closed the gap between them again, kissing tenderly. He slid his tongue along Cilan's bottom lip, requesting entrance. It was granted. He started exploring his beloved's mouth slowly, carefully. He felt Cilan return the gesture, and when he felt his beloved was ready, he allowed his tongue to meet with Cilan's, both organs dancing together in the wet warmth. They whimpered before ending the kiss so they could breathe. "Cilan..."
"You look so cute right now."
"As do you."
He chuckled before leaning down again.
"I'd always imagined my first kiss would be like that, but I hadn't imagined I'd share it with Cilan. It was a dream come true." He finished that sketch. "I have one more to make now, a secret sketch that will only be revealed once that memory has been made. But, first, I'd better have lunch."
"Right, now for my final sketch!" He put pencil to paper and started work on the secret sketch. Maybe what he was drawing was impossible, but it could happen. He made sure to add extra detail in the picture, it had to look perfect. The image was coming from his mind, so he made it match everything he was thinking of.
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
This chapter is rated for TEENS.
Chapter Eight: Welcome Home, Cilan!
The next night, Cilan was to return from the pre-birthday celebration with his brothers. Tracey had made certain over and over that his sketches were impressive enough. He couldn't help finding something wrong; he was an artist after all, and artists were always their own worst critic. It had taken some scolding from Misty and reassurance from Ash for him to stop looking for imperfections.
He was sitting in the living room, just patiently waiting for his beloved's return. He heard the doorbell. "Just a second!" He made sure his gift was well-hidden in the bedroom, then hurried to the door and opened it. "Cilan!"
"Hello, Tracey. I seem to have left my key here." Cilan smiled widely, a grin matching that of the artist standing before him.
Tracey wrapped his arms around him.
Cilan dropped his bags and returned the gesture. "I'm home."
"Welcome home." When the embrace was broken, he moved out of the doorway so Cilan could enter, then he picked up Cilan's bags and carried them into the room.
Cilan and Tracey sat in the living room, just talking about what had happened during their time apart. Tracey laughed as he heard about Cilan and Chilli forcing Cress to sing at the karaoke bar.
"By the way..." Cilan rose from his seat and stepped over to his bags. "Here, I got you some souvenirs." He knelt by one and opened it. He pulled out a paper bag. He returned to his spot beside Tracey and handed the bag to him.
"Thanks, Cilan." He accepted it and opened it. He pulled out numerous items.
"The sea lion statue is from the Aquarium, the set of pencils is from the art museum, the songbook is from the karaoke bar and the wristband is from the amusement park. When I saw the sea lion, I felt calm, just as I do when I'm with you. I know how much you love to make sketches, so I got the pencils to help ensure you'll always have one if needed. There were some great songs at the karaoke bar, and I'd like for you to sing them with me someday. Finally, the wristband is for support for those days you're pushing yourself with your sketching."
Tracey's smile softened. He knew most people, when getting souvenirs for someone, would just go oh, they'd like that! and be done. But, everything Cilan brought back for him had a meaning behind it. He returned everything to the paper bag and set it aside for now. "Thank you so much." He wrapped his arms around his beloved and felt the embrace being returned. He let out a sigh of contentment. "It feels pleasant being able to hold you again. I'm glad you're home. I missed you so much."
"I'm glad to be home again, Trace." He leaned into the embrace. "Hey, Tracey?"
He started blushing. "Do you want to be more intimate with each other tonight?"
Tracey blushed lightly. He knew what Cilan was asking, he was just surprised. "Do you want to?"
"I do. I feel ready."
"So do I." He broke the embrace and took Cilan's hand into his. "It will be more comfortable in bed."
Cilan smiled, his blushing fading. He rose from his seat and allowed Tracey to lead him into their bedroom.
The sunlight filled the bedroom. Tracey was the first to stir. He opened his eyes and gazed at his beloved. He saw the glow from last night was still there. He smiled gently and kissed Cilan on the forehead while stroking his hair lovingly.
Cilan stirred as well. His eyes fluttered open. He smiled as he caught sight of his beloved. "Good morning, Tracey."
"Good morning, Cilan. How did you sleep?"
"Peacefully. How about you?"
"The same." They shared a chaste kiss. "Happy birthday, my love."
Tracey rolled over and opened the drawer of his bedside dresser. He pulled out a wrapped package. He sat up and handed it to Cilan.
Cilan accepted the gift. "Thank you." He opened it and found a sketchbook. He opened it and saw different images of him and Tracey throughout the years.
"We have been best friends since the day we met. We went through a lot together. We were by each other's side, whether good times or bad. I captured each significant event, from the day we met and onwards."
Cilan came across the secret sketch. "Am I allowed to open this?"
"Not yet. That hasn't happened yet. Once it has, you can open it."
"What is it?"
"I can't tell you until it has happened."
"Will it happen?"
"I'm hoping with all of my heart that it will."
"Tracey...thank you so much for this. I know how you get to be with your sketches, so to receive a book of them from you...words cannot express just how happy I am right now."
"I love you so much, Cilan."
"I love you too, Tracey, more than words can say."
Re: Sketches Of Time Gone By
Final Chapter: A New Memory Has Been Made
The next year, Tracey allowed Cilan to reveal the final sketch. Cilan could see why it had to stay a secret until it had happened. After all, it's better to have a memoir of your wedding day than it is to see the image of a dream.
It wasn't fancy, it was a small gathering in Delia's backyard. There was no minister, there was someone else with the authorisation to wed two people. There weren't a lot of people, it was just those who were family or were considered to be family.
Tracey and Cilan stood facing each other, tears of joy in their eyes, their hands linked. Tracey was the first to make a vow. "Cilan, ever since the day we met, you've been there for me. You laughed with me through the good times, and cried with me through the bad. You've always been a special person to me, and I'm glad we're able to share our bond with everyone here. I promise to always be there for you; to laugh with you, to cry with you. I promise to always love you, not even death will stop my love for you."
"Tracey, you have always been someone I love; whether it was as a friend, as a brother or as a lover. On my darkest days, you always knew what to do to help me get back on my feet. You always have been and always will be a special person to me. I promise to always love you, to always be there for you. I promise that my love for you is eternal."
"Please take the rings," the celebrant stated.
They did so.
"Tracey, repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed." Tracey slid the gold band onto Cilan's finger.
"Cilan, repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed[b][i]."
"With this ring, I thee wed." Cilan did the same.
"If there is anybody who believed these two should not be wed, then speak now, or forever hold your peace." Nobody spoke up. "Then, by the power invested in me, I now pronounce these two to be wed. You may kiss each other."
Tracey cupped Cilan's cheek lovingly. He leaned in and allowed his lips to meet Cilan's. It was a chaste kiss. The kiss ended and they were turned to face their friends and family. "We are now wed!" they declared as everyone present let out a cheer and applauded them.
Cilan stared at the picture, tears of joy filling his eyes. Now, he could look over every significant event in his life with Tracey.
Tracey held Cilan in a half-hug, he was also looking at the picture of their wedding day, a soft smile marking his lips. There was nobody he'd rather share such a memory with.
Thank you for reading this story, and if you did, for reviewing. I'm glad I was able to complete this Starchshipping fic. May Tracey and Cilan actually meet in the anime one day.