THE OTHER HALF
Cole drove slowly down the strip. The neon lights flashed, inviting you in to see the girls, or boys, depending on what you were into. He’d made the same drive, night after night for the last two weeks; watching, waiting. Each time hoping He'd be there; that he hadn't driven off to God knows where with God knows who to do God knows what.
His breath caught in his throat as he approached the corner, His corner. He was there. The tension in Cole's shoulders dissipated as he watched him pace slowly up and down the meter square of sidewalk. The neon lights behind him picked out the green and gold flecks in his eyes as he lifted his head.
Cole had never forgotten his eyes. Even though so many years had passed between then and now, he would have recognized him with one look in those eyes. A hand closed around his heart as memories of the nights they had lain awake talking in hushed whispers until the dawn chased away the night. The dreams they’d shared. The promises they’d made. And their last goodbye on the steps of the orphanage after Cole had been adopted. He remembered how he’d pulled a crumpled dollar bill from his pocket and ripped it in half before thrusting one half into David's sweaty palm as the tears coursed down his cheeks. And he would never forget the promise the twelve year old Cole had whispered into fourteen year old David's ear as he held onto him. No matter where you are or where you go—I will find you. He’d finally kept his promise.
He pulled the car to a stop in front of David – his David - and watched as he stopped pacing and stared at him, his head tilted as he weighed up the situation. For a moment Cole thought he was going to turn around, but David slowly swaggered toward the open passenger window. Cole's gaze took in David’s slightly bowed legs rippling under well worn jeans and he swallowed hard as he tried not to notice the way the muscles of David’s thighs bunched and moved as he approached. That was not what this was about.
“You lookin' for a date cutie?” David’s voice was gravelly and raw from too many cigarettes and alcohol. Cole hoped that was all it was, but he doubted it.
Cole turned away from David’s questioning gaze and stared out of the windshield onto the road in front of him. His response was curt, and to the point. “Get in.”
David opened the door, slid into the seat and pulled it closed behind him. He leaned back against the headrest as Cole eased the car into the traffic. They drove in silence for a while then, when they had reached the quieter part of the city, Cole steered the car down a side street and parked.
“Cash up front, handsome.” Cole turned in his seat to see David had already begun to unbutton his shirt. David must have seen the flicker of sadness in Cole’s eyes because he hesitated. A frown creased his brow for a moment, then he continued with his task and said in a husky drawl, “Don't worry, I'll make you feel real good. It'll be worth every penny.”
Cole reached into the back seat, took his wallet from the pocket of his jacket and pulled out some folded cash. He handed it to David without a word and waited. David’s gasp was loud in the silence of the night when he opened the wad of bills to count them and the old, faded and wrinkled half a dollar floated down into his lap. Cole watched as David's eyes widened and, as if mesmerized, his hand slipped into the top pocket of the denim jacket he wore.
His heart in his mouth, he watched the way David’s fingers shook as he pulled out an often handled scrap of worn paper. He saw how tenderly he smoothed it out and placed it next to the half he’d laid out on his knee, making them whole once again, and his heart swelled with the love that had never faded.
“You found me.”
The words were sobbed brokenly and, as David fell into his arms and buried his face against Cole's neck, his hot tears wet Cole's skin. He Cole rocked him gently, holding him tightly to him, vowing silently to never let him go again. Cole let go of his own tears as he murmured into David’s hair, “I promised.”