The first time Dan was ever graced with the pleasure of meeting Kyle J Simmons was when he was only five years of age. It was not only Dan’s first day at his new school, but his first day in a completely new city. His family had left everything and everyone they had ever known to live a better life in London.
He had been terrified beyond words and too nervous to even look at anyone as he stood at the entrance of the classroom, stood tight again his mother’s side and grasping her hand tightly. He stood and watched the other children play, some of them painting, some of them playing with dolls- and he wanted to go home.
Kyle had been the first one to talk to him- even before the teacher had. His eyes had been full of kindness, wonder, ignorance, acceptance, and they had locked onto Dan’s immediately.
“Do you want to play with me?” He had offered innocently, his face smudged with red paint, elbows deep in the sand in the sand pit.
“Go on, Daniel,” his mother whispered, urging her son to let go of her and to go and play. She had always tried to get him out more, to try and get him over being so shy, but it seemed that nothing was working for them.
Glancing up at his mum, who nods at him, Dan hesitantly let go of her hand and nodded shyly at Kyle.
“Great! Come on, lemme show you the bikes, they’re so cool!” Kyle ran to him and grabbed his hand, pulling him away from his mother as they slipped out of the door and into the playground outside, where there are even more children. He weaved with Dan around the toy-littered floor and to the small shed where the bikes are. “I’m Kyle,”
“My name is Daniel,”
Kyle had grinned at Dan, missing maybe three teeth. “I like your name. It’s very pretty.”
They had been inseparable from that day forth- they became best friends and partners in crime. Where Dan went, Kyle followed, and where Kyle went, Dan was behind him. They went to the park together, to the shop, to each other’s houses, and when the time came, even to their first day of secondary school.
“This is so awesome,” Kyle gazed around the long school corridor, which the boys looked so small stood in. It was the first day of year seven, and even though both of them had grown significantly over the Summer holidays, Kyle was still far taller than Dan. In fact, he could probably have passed as one of the year nines. “This. Is. Amazing.”
“It’s really not that great,” his friend muttered with a laugh, both of them weaving around the crowd so they do not get separated. “I’m lost already.”
They had been placed in different lessons and in different form rooms, but they still walked there and back with each other. They were best friends, and nothing would ever take that away from them.
As the years went on, they got closer and closer, and somewhere that they cannot quite identify, they became far, far more than friends. It wasn’t unnatural or anything, it just kind of happened, and it carried on happening.
“I cannot believe we’re already in year eleven. I feel like I should still be in, like, year four or something.” Kyle sat with his legs extended in front of him, leaning back and taking in the sun as Dan sat next to him. The football court wasn’t too far away and the shouts of the rowdy teenagers consumed the air, along with the soft calls of the birds from the trees. Kyle stroked the soft peach fuzz he called his beard, and looked into the distance as if he were a wise, philosophical old man. “It feels almost as if I’m watching my youth slip through my fingers, as sand would in an hourglass.”
“So poetic, and most definitely not terrifying,” Dan had laughed at the boy’s idiocy, rolling his eyes as he tore a handful of grass from the ground. “You also need to shave.”
With a dramatic flair reserved only for the true drama queens (or kings) of the world, Kyle placed a hand over his beating heart, acting offended. “You’ll see, one day- I tell you!- one day, I’ll have an amazing beard and an amazing moustache, and you’ll be lying on your death bed, looking at a picture of me when I’m rich and famous- oh, and have a bionic heart so I can live forever, that’s an important note- like: ‘wow! I wish I could grow an amazing moustache and an amazing beard, but no! I’m just a smelly old man!”
Dan had punched him softly in the shoulder whilst stifling a laugh. “That’s not funny!”
“Babe, you know that was funny,” he laughed, kissing Dan’s cheek. “Who are you going to prom with, anyway?”
The older of the pair scoffed as if the answer weren’t obvious, turning to his boyfriend and gazing into his eyes, so deep, so beautiful.
“Who do you think?” He asks, “That fucking weirdo kid in our year. He has no one to go with, so I figured I would go with him. Only ‘cos I felt sad for him, and it’d be so sad if he found out.”
Dan couldn’t help but laugh at Kyle’s genuine confusion at his words, his eyebrows furrowing for a moment. “What? Who?” Before his face changed as it clicked in his mind, “Oh! Dan, that’s not funny!”
He had tried to mock his boyfriend, though Dan was too busy laughing to pay attention.
His hand was soft as he held Dan’s and pulled him out of the house, “Come on! He encouraged, tugging him along behind him. “It’ll be nice!”
Kyle continued to pull him down the path through the front garden, the new flours blooming in the beautiful sunlight that beat down on the earth. His car was parked on the road, ready for yet another adventure- ever since Kyle had passed his test, around five months ago, shortly after his seventeenth birthday, they had gone on countless adventures.
“Hurry up! Stop being such a spoil-sport!”
Dan dragged his feet as he walked, asking Kyle where it is they are going. Their love had been questioned many times- you’re young and stupid, you don’t know what love is- they had been told, but they had spent enough nights together, cuddled under blankets with limbs entangled around each other, sleepy kisses being planted on faces to know that if this isn’t love, then he doesn’t want anything else.
“We,” Kyle opened the passenger door for Dan, gesturing him to get into the are, “Are going out. We’re celebrating.”
His brown hair hangs slightly over his eyes, giving him a youthful, adorable look that will forever imprint itself into Dan’s mind. The red and blue leather jacket hugs him nicely, even if Dan did buy it for him for his sixteenth birthday, over a year ago.
“What? Why?” He filters through the events in his mind- birthdays, get together, so on, and none of them are today. “What are we celebrating?”
“We’re celebrating, my love, us.” Kyle jogged to the front of the car (he had offered to do a ‘super cool film-like slide across the top of the bonnet like a badass!’ for Dan, but on the very slim (aka 99%) chance Kyle would hurt himself, the older boy had politely declined. Kyle has had enough scrapes and bruises from his amazing ideas to last a lifetime). The door opened again and Kyle climbed in, clicking his seatbelt, and enthusiastically waving at Dan’s mum who was peering at them through the window. She had loved Kyle from the moment she laid eyes on him.
“Yeah, but why?” Dan followed him, waving to his mum and clicking his seatbelt in.
Kyle turned to him, plastering a grin on his face that Dan has fallen in love with a billion times over. Oh, right. It’s one of their surprise dates.
“Because I love you,” he tells Dan, kissing him, “And I plan on spending every day of my life with you, so, Love, get used to it.”
“That’s so fucking gay,”
“Surprise, Daniel,” Kyle rolls his eyes, “Anyway, you’re talking to the ultimate King of Romance here, so you should appreciate me.”
They drive for a good ten minutes, with Dan sat in the passenger seat, talking animatedly with him about their plans for the future, and how so and son had an argument with Kyle about if Jaffa Cake is a cake or a biscuit- the questions that really need to be asked.
Dan stares at him the entire time, watching every move he makes. Kyle’s such an amazing person- so loving, so charming. He couldn’t wish for anyone better than Kyle, really- his parents adored him, and they had known they were something more than friends before the boys did. He watches the way his eyes flicker from place to place as he drives, sometimes at the mirrors, sometimes at the traffic lights, and sometimes they grace Dan with their contact. He adores the way they light up when he catches his eye. He sits and watches how Kyle bites his lip in concentration, and how he can’t help but smile whenever he hears one of his favourite songs on the radio.
And he watches the way panic strikes Kyle’s face, taking his soft, loving features under their command. His hand immediately reaches out, holding Dan’s chest against the seat.
Everything feels so much slower than it should be.
His other hand grips helplessly at the steering wheel as he tries to turn the car, to do anything to get it out of the path of a speeding white van, reading to smash right into Kyle’s side of the car.
It happens slowly.
But it happens.
“Dan!” Kyle screams for Dan, pressing him tightly against the seat before Dan can really register what’s going on. The window shatters and glass flies everywhere. The sickening sound of colliding, bending metal permanently imprints itself into Dan’s mind, but he cannot do anything to help.
His eyes burn when he opens them. They’re still in the little green car he had nicknamed Big Blue just for the irony. The seatbelt holds him securely in place, but it feels too tight against his chest as he struggles to breathe.
The area around him is completely unfamiliar as he tries to observe it all, his groggy, docile mind struggling to come to its senses. It smells heavily of fuel and the flashing lights hurt his head.
In a mad, adrenaline fuelled rush, the boy looks, trying to get some sort of relief that Kyle is okay, that he’s there, breathing, responsive- but the sight of him only reminds Dan of the first time they met. His face is smeared with red, what you wish was paint. His arm, clearly broken, is covered in oil and blood, which should be blood. His body is slumped helplessly forward over the steering wheel, his mouth hanging slightly open. One or three of his teeth are missing, and blood trickles out. His eyes, so full of joy, wonder, kindness, are now blank, just staring down, never to see the love of his life’s face again, never to light up whenever his favourite song comes on, never to see the rest of his life through as they should.
Dan calls his name in a broken and raspy voice, sounding more like Kahul than Kyle. He tries to wake him up, to tell him that the ambulance is here, and we’re okay, Babe. He wants to grab his hand but he can’t move.
The last time Dan was ever pained with the task of saying goodbye to Kyle was on the fourteenth of October. It wasn’t raining, though grey clouds hung over the sky, weighing the weight of the world on Dan’s shoulders.
He stood over the grave of the boy, freshly dug and so much alike all the others in there. Nothing but a name to declare him any different. In his hand, he held a single flower. It felt stupid, leaving a bright yellow sunflower when everyone else had left roses, but Kyle loved sunflowers. He liked the fact his dad used to measure his height against them.
He presses his nails into his palm, just to remind himself how unfair it is that he lived when Kyle didn’t get to.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. It wasn’t supposed to end.
They arrested whoever it was had done it- Dan never found out his name. He was charged under dangerous driving and manslaughter, giving him years and years in prison.
But what was that when compared to Kyle? Kyle, who had his life cut short, who had his life ended because of this?
The newspapers and news channels told the world of their story for a while, about the crash that had shut down the junction for a while, about the tragic love story of the two boys, one of whom would never be the same again. Every time Dan saw a picture of Kyle, smiling at him through the TV as if they were sat in front of each other, he wished he had gone with him, too. How could he carry on with the trauma of it all weighing on his mind? How could he carry on without Kyle?
His hands shake as he kneels down, ready to leave the flower by the headstone. All of Kyle’s friends and relatives are watching him- he was adored by all of them, but nobody could ever love him as Dan did.
He would give everything he had and more to have him back, to hold him just once more, to go on one last adventure and make it home.
Whenever he would try to sleep, Kyle would see him, sit with him, do all the things they never got the chance to do. When he was awake, we would feel Kyle lying with him, holding his hand and making it known he was there. He would see him stood there, waiting for him to come out of the house.
Every time Dan closed his eyes, hoping for it to feel like none of this happened in the first place, the scene would replay. Kyle’s final scream for help, the way he screamed for Dan as if he were everything keeping him alive, and the sickening sound of the metal clashing.
The PTSD almost killed Dan, far more than any of his injuries ever could have.
Tears fall down his face and he has to try his best to not just crumble right there, right in front of everyone as he struggles to give the last ever flower he ever would to Kyle.
His hands shake badly and the flower waves in the air for a little bit before he just crumbles, sinking to his knees as putting his forehead against the cold stone labelling all that Kyle ever was.
Slowly, Kyle’s mum helps him off the ground, collecting him up in her arms and letting him sob onto her and she held him, one arm wrapped tightly around his shoulders and the other against the back of his head.
“He’ll always be with you, Daniel,” she tells him with watery eyes, her own voice shaking, “Never forget that. Live the life he would want you to. The life he never could.”