It had been a week since Guy and Sam started their journey to East Flubria. Ever since Sam connected the diner’s egg shipment to her location, he was eager to find anything on his mother—just a smidge of hope—and maybe then he’ll find the answers to his countless questions.
The duo had made their fair share of travel, be it through train, bus, and motorcycle. Yet they knew that, with Sam’s criminal record still up in the air, that they’d be questioned soon. Guy didn’t want to take any chances and decided midway through their trip that they’d be going on foot.
Sam didn’t mind at first, but soon enough the pain in walking, alongside his confusing swell of emotions, knocked within his brain.
He wasn’t sure how to describe this sudden rush of feelings. He couldn’t tell if they were hibernating until the very last moment to agitate him, but he could tell when it started.
Last week at Michellee’s house, he caught glimpses of her and Guy exchanging small hints of affection. It was always either a hug or a hand hold, and while Guy explained that he and Michellee were “just friends”, Sam couldn’t help but feel they were hiding it from people. The two weren’t exactly open with displaying something so personal.
Sam hoped that Guy was right—maybe Sam was just imagining a scenario that wasn’t real and would never be—but the idea still gnawed at him.
He wasn’t even sure why he was having a hard time believing it. He wasn’t definite on his feelings for Guy. It often went from “best friend!” to “having you around makes me feel safe and happy, knowing once in my life someone decided to stay.” Both increasingly blurred in meaning the more it switched.
These thoughts continued to pester Sam, not waiting for a moment of closure. It didn’t help that once they started going on foot, situations only got worse when the foggy air rolled in, its storm clouds about to activate.
Unlike the last time they were lost in the rain, the two were prepared for the occasion. Guy brought out his suitcase and, almost as if it were an endless void of supplies, he pulled out a wrapped-up tent and a lantern.
The rain’s hardened blows only started once the tent was set, so being completely soaked wasn’t something they had to worry about.
It was a small tent meant for two. There was little-to-no space for it to consider sleeping bags, but Guy attempted anyway. Ever since he and Sam began their journey, he’s been more brave and willing to go the unusual route. Being around Sam definitely gave him the kick to do outrageous things; keeping sleeping bags in a tiny tent because he was secretly irritated was nothing compared to him fleeing from the cops and walking barefoot in the wet, stormy woods.
Night time darkened, the hint of stars being nowhere to be seen. The moon’s glow glimpsed through the wandering, black clouds, the rain never stopping to settle. The brisk air almost took over the duo before they closed the tent flaps behind them.
The tent, green as can ever be (and definitely the color Sam asked for), contrasted with the lantern’s crisp, yellow flare. The lantern wasn’t electrical, meaning Guy has to swipe a match to light it. Its small, yet effective glow radiated within the tent.
Sam messed with his fur to get rid of any loose rain. He made sure to dry off his hat as well, gently knocking off droplets from it. Guy did the same, the two operating in silence. The lantern’s crackle was the only noise to disrupt it.
Sam sat crisscrossed in front of Guy, unsure of what to say. The more time he spent with him on the trip, the more reclusive he got. It was unlike him to ever consider that attitude—and Guy thought the same. Sam believed that, knowing Guy and Michellee were bonding closer than he’d imagined, that he didn’t want to be caught in the middle.
The last thing Sam wanted was to hurt Guy. He had already done so much damage with their relationship when Guy learned of his “best friend’s” con jobs. Sam didn’t want to cause another fuss, no matter what it took.
Guy, however, was willing to be more open. While still being the grump he was, he subconsciously started to share Sam’s outgoing (and often meddling) personality. He had found this unspoken appreciation towards Sam after helping Mr. Jenkins, and somehow, he wanted his actions to reflect that.
Sam could recall small instances of Guy doing these subtle actions, be it a gentle touch on the knee or a palm on his shoulder. Sam had often been the one to initiate these, and while he didn’t frown upon Guy’s attempts, he was unsure of what to think about it. I mean , Sam had thought countless of times, how would Michellee feel seeing Guy be so open towards me?
Their relationship had always been platonic; neither felt the opportunity to confess anything deeper. Maybe it was for the best, the two would think, because their friendship was the best it could ever be. And they were happy with the idea. No need to strengthen it….
And yet the two weren’t dense to each other’s affections, be it romantic or not. They regarded each other as close friends, being the ultimate wingmans to each other, being the emotional support they needed for so long. They were well aware of how much they needed each other. It was difficult, though, for them to fully embrace that and speak it out loud. Despite them knowing they cared for each other, it wasn’t often that they were able to share that unless it was through body language.
Both of them could easily recall their time together in Guy’s tent. Guy listened to Sam’s story, his heart struck in confusion and guilt over what Sam told him. To think the Knox was the only one with problems, his friend was sure to make it clear that, yes, he had been wearing a mask his whole life. It hid so many vulnerabilities that Guy didn’t believe that there was more than what Sam told him.
He was proven otherwise, sadly, and their trust shattered.
But things were different now. Their emotional scars healed, the two helped each other’s wounds, and they were set on finding Sam’s biggest dream. They only hoped that their trust would stay intact.
Back in the green tent, the mood was eerily silent. Besides the lantern’s crackle and the dapple of rain running off the roof, the two were unsure of how to start a conversation. Despite Sam’s quietness, he had been acting in a lively manner that morning, making him and Guy a healthy batch of green eggs and ham. The two chatted as normal, the occasional, loving gestures aired throughout--it all felt normal.
But Sam lessened his peppy attitude once the realizations hit him. He hoped to keep his spirits up through conversation, but it didn’t seem like Guy was willing to do the same.
Yet it didn’t take long to wash that fear away. Clearing his throat, Guy noted in a grumbly voice: “I don’t think the rain will settle any time soon. The tent’s rather small, too.” He was on his knees, shuffling his hands through his sleeping bag to see if he had packed a book to read.
“Maybe if you brought me along shopping, I would’ve picked the best size,” Sam said in a light-hearted tone. His whimsical nature shone through even without him knowing.
Guy pointed at Sam. “If I brought you along, I’m sure you would’ve gotten the biggest and most expensive one just to spite me,” he said playfully.
There was a pause before Sam looked up to the side and shrugged his shoulders, making both of them laugh.
Their laughter smoothened once Guy finally felt his hand find contact with his book. He pulled it out, an informative book named Yips: Where Do They Come From? Where Do They Go? He skimmed through the pages, not really paying attention to what the words were saying.
Glancing down at the pages, Guy’s eyes lit up and he looked at Sam. “Oh, I almost forgot! Michellee said she might be able to meet up with us tomorrow.”
Sam had been staring down at the floor, not eager to say anything else, but the word Michellee made him almost freeze.
“She’s got a meeting a few towns down. I’m sure she’ll be happy to hear our ‘crusade through unknown territory,’” Guy said, amused. He looked at Sam for an answer.
It took a moment for Sam to turn his head up, cheerful attitude reviving. “That’s great news! I can’t wait to see her. Is she bringing E.B. along?”
“I don’t think so,” Guy replied. “Lately, she’s been letting E.B. do her own thing, meaning she’s staying home alone a lot more. Though it’s with the usual rule, of course. It’s good to know Michellee’s adapting to her kid’s wild life style.”
“Oh, for sure!” Sam said, giddy. His respect for E.B. held no bounds. He could recall all the amazing things she did in helping him and Mr. Jenkins find his way home.
Guy nodded at the comment, noticing how quick Sam’s answer was and how he didn’t clarify further. Guy struggled to keep his friend’s positive attitude up. “E.B. and Michellee are quite amazing.”
Sam figured Guy would go back to his book, ignoring him entirely, but Guy keep his eyes on him. He held a worried expression.
“...Sam?” Guy asked calmly.
Sam kept his eyes on the floor, only taking notice of the question seconds after.
“Sam, is everything alright? You haven’t been yourself lately.” Guy asked again. His words held this sense of grief, the same kind he felt when Sam told the truth about his mom. Guy was sure not to escalate anything from either person, so he let Sam answer in his own time.
Sam slowly traced his fingers on the floor, making nonsensical shapes to avoid Guy’s face. A sorrowful look formed. Before he spoke, Sam clasped his hands together on his lap and stared at them.
“I’ve...been having a lot of trouble thinking about my mom, and...if she’ll actually love me.”
Guy’s eyebrows raised slightly. He knew that Sam had a hard time dealing with even the idea of his mother—is she alive? Will she accept Sam? Was she a bad person just trying to get a fresh start? It was all a meshed plate of worries and fears that nobody would dare to savor.
Still, Guy asked. “Why do you say that?” His calm voice continued to surface, not once did it form back to his typical, grouchy tone.
“I mean,” Sam started, shrugging his shoulders. Gosh, what to even say ? , he pondered. There’s so much to speculate on her that I’m sure she won’t be this “perfect” image in my head . He spoke out loud this time, paraphrasing his thoughts the best way he could. “I’m afraid she won’t be this idealistic person in my mind, that maybe she won’t be..a mother in my eyes.”
“That’s awful to say, I know!” Sam cut him off. “I don’t actually mean it. But this is the first time I’ll actually be able to meet her.” If she’s still alive and well , Sam thought. “What if she doesn’t care about me? What if the reason she left me was because I was some bratty kid who couldn’t provide anything to her life?”
Sam sighed, letting his shoulders loosen. He rubbed his forehead in aggravation. Guy was left to ponder on what Sam said, and there was a range of emotion drawn on his face. Just a disorganized canvas of shock and sorrow with no way of deciphering its message.
“Sam, I believe she cares about you very much.” Guy told him. Guy was careful to mention Sam’s mother in present tense; the idea of her in passing made both of them shiver.
Guy shifted his body to sit criss crossed and put his hands on his knees. The two were actually fairly apart (“apart” being only a couple of feet in a tiny tent, but enough where physical contact wasn’t viable by a reach).
Sam wanted to believe Guy’s comment, but deep down he was in the dark from the truth—especially if he had nothing to go off of. “I just...want to know that I’m loved. I love so much but nobody seems to offer it back. You feel the same, don’t you?”
Guy arched his head back slightly, not entirely sure of what he meant. “Love as in me loving you ?”
“ No, I—“ Sam fumbled with his words. “Ya know. Love as in you’re in a happy home with your friends and family, never feeling like you’re out of place. When I’m with you, Michellee, and E.B., I don’t feel like a complete stranger. But there would be times where I feel exactly that.”
“You’d never be a stranger in our eyes. You’re a part of our family no matter what,” Guy included. Sure, their family wasn’t connected by blood, but their love and devotion for each other went strong.
“I’m sure you mean well, and I don’t not believe you, but—“ Sam cut it short. Balancing his hat on one hand, he rubbed his fingers through his head fur on another. He started to become stressed. “I don’t know what to believe when I don’t even know if my mother is alive. ”
Guy kept quiet, noticing that Sam’s chest began to heave in and out. His heart raced. No tears poured down, but the way things were going, Sam might’ve.
“..Guy?” Sam asked. The one mentioned looked at him, but Sam continued to keep his eyes on the floor.
“Do you...actually love Michellee?” Sam asked. His words stung with sudden regret.
Guy raised an eyebrow.“I do as a friend. She’s smart and kind, and doesn’t overstep my boundaries,” he said honestly.
“But the way you two look at each other?” Sam questioned.
“Why are you suddenly so worried about me and Michellee possibly being together?” Guy asked, his tone coming off more stern than he had hoped. Sam froze hearing this, the only thing moving rapidly was his beating heart.
“I’m not!” Sam harshly said, cringing at his words. He sighed before continuing, his tone a bit quieter. “I’m not. I’m just in a bad spot right now. I can’t manage my feelings nor understand what my feelings are for people. I don’t know if I’m actually accepted by the people I love. I don’t want to be forgotten again. I don’t want to be brushed aside like all the rest of the people in my life did.”
Sam was choking up on his words. He was sure not to cause a sob, but he noticed how on edge he felt.
Guy looked at him gloomily. The rain continued pitter-patter on the tent’s roof, the flame in the lantern was still. Guy glanced at Sam’s hand, which had drawn shapes on the floor before, was now digging through the fabric like claws through stone.
Guy shuffled closer. Sam didn’t move; his eyes were shielded by his hand, and he didn’t want to look anyone in the eye. Guy carefully put his left palm on Sam’s shoulder, just like he did back in his treehouse. He didn’t usher anything, he didn’t demand an answer or a confession from him.
All Guy wanted was for Sam to feel safe.
He noticed every single quirk Sam was performing, and he knew that everything Sam did was genuine. The little fella was struck with a ray of emotions that neither one could fully possess or understand. The best thing to do was just…listen.
Sam was quiet for awhile, but he wasn’t dense to the contact on his shoulder. He wasn’t sure how to react—he was grieving so much already that commenting on it wasn’t on his mind. He finally let out a few words once he thought it over.
“I’m sorry….” Sam mumbled. “It wasn’t right to target all those questions onto you.”
“It’s okay,” Guy whispered.
“I’m just—I don’t—“ Sam stopped in slight annoyance. The sheer idea of his thoughts being concise that night was a mere wish.
Guy wanted to offer another “It’s okay”, but in fear of being redundant, he instead held his hold on Sam’s shoulder a bit tighter. Not where it would be impossible for Sam to remove it, but enough where it said “I’m here for you. I won’t let go until you want me to.”
Sam continued. “I’m so afraid of the future that I hide it behind my usual, happy persona. Because I love being happy. I don’t love feeling down. But even I get confused. What even is ‘love’? What do I consider to be so?”
Guy remained quiet, trying to find eye contact with his friend, but Sam stayed persistent.
“I’m afraid that...” Sam started, and Guy listened intently. “I’m afraid that whoever I love won’t love me back.”
Sam clenched his hands into fists, his eyes scrunching at his own voice. His secret was out. Maybe he did love Guy after all—he still wasn’t sure—but after he spilled his feelings out like that, there really was no denying it.
Once Guy heard this, a sort of revelation hit him. Was Sam saying that he liked him? The way he interacts with me made it seem like it , Guy thought, almost wanting to laugh before he realized his current setting.
It all made sense to Guy even before Sam told him, but it still made him question: did he like him back?
Guy slowly raised his hand off Sam’s shoulder.
Sam knew what was happening. He kept his eyes shut. “I’m sorry. That was silly of me to say.” He tried laughing it off.
But Guy didn’t retract his hand away.
“I don’t know how you could ever love—“
Sam’s voice trembled to a stop when he could feel Guy’s palm on his cheek. Out of nervous shock, Sam gestured his head to look at Guy’s eyes, the first time in awhile that they shared eye contact.
Guy looked at him in the most gentle way he’s ever seen him. His chest was tight, but seeing Sam’s eyes finally made him breathe out a sigh. Half closed eyes and a closed smile radiated on his face, his fingers brushing through Sam’s fur.
Sam could feel the warmth coming from Guy’s palm. It comforted him like no other; it almost made him want to bury his whole face in it, but he restrained himself.
Sam closed his eyes slightly to embrace the warmth. Guy continued smiling, never letting his gaze off of his best friend.
“You’re very important to me, you know that?” Guy whispered. Sam looked at him again, nodding. “You’re the person who stepped into my life and made it so much bigger, so much better than I’d imagine it being.
“You’re never shy to express your friendship for me. You always cared, always listened.” Guy softly said. He silently moved closer, peering into Sam’s emerald eyes.
Sam placed a hand on Guy’s wrist, the one holding his cheek, and quietly combed his fingers through Guy’s fur.
“There’s nothing wrong with not knowing who you love. Feelings are,” he paused, giving a chuckle, “a lot to manage. But I’ll be here for you when you need it.”
The lantern’s light started to flicker, feeling uneasy with the sudden, cold breeze outside.
“I love you a lot,” Sam mustered. “I-I don't know if it’s..in a romantic sense. I mean it is , but—“ He got flustered quickly. For the first time in awhile, a genuine smile was drawn on Sam’s face.
Ever so subtly the two inched closer, their breaths intertwining. Guy said softly, “I see. I feel the same way. It can be confusing when you don’t know if your feelings for your friend are legitimate.”
“Easy for you to say,” Sam playfully replied.
“I’m serious!” Guy whispered, amused. “You have no idea the amount of times I spent with you that made me consider it.”
The two got ever closer. The lantern’s light flickered faster. Sam’s smile slowly turned to neutral, and he shifted his eyes downward before looking back up. They had this longing gleam, one that made it say Am I worth it? Am I worth something to you ?
As if Guy heard Sam’s thoughts, he replied: “Nobody in the world could ever replace you; you are worth everything to me.”
Their faces were mere inches apart. Their foreheads nearly clicked together, and their eyes never left contact. The rain nor breeze nor rapid candle light could interrupt them.
“Would you allow me into your life?” Sam asked softly.
“I do if you allow me.”
And it was settled. The answer was both tense yet exhilarating for the both of them; it was so much in so little words.
It was there that their lips finally came into contact, and the light blew out on its own. As they linked together, it was a perfect blend of passionate, but never overbearing.
Their hands were clasped on the sides of each other’s faces, embracing it all without a second thought. There would be an occasional slight hand from Sam, who would comb his hand through Guy’s ears or neck fluff. It was all intimate, but they knew when to respect each other’s boundaries.
Still, the two enjoyed it for what the other could give. It was only after their first kiss that once they pulled back to look at each other’s eyes, they realized the lantern was out cold.
The two laughed to themselves from the realization. They were linked together in a hug; Sam had his face buried in Guy’s neck fluff, while Guy held him close with his hands gently on Sam’s back and neck.
Guy sighed heavily. “You’re pretty good at this, aren’t you?” He said jokingly. Sam snickered in Guy’s fluff, his eyes closed n full-smile beaming.
“It’s my first time,” Sam said truthfully. He tried to look up at him, and despite the tent being pitch black, he could sense Guy’s presence there with him. He was wanted. He was loved . There was nothing else that he could ever ask for.
“It’s getting late. And cold,” Guy mentioned. There was a gruff in his voice. Same ‘ol Knox Sam knew so well. Guy rubbed his palms on Sam’s body, reassuring that they were both still together in the dark. “I don’t know how late it is.”
“We’ve been talking all night, no wonder we wouldn’t know,” Sam said back.
“Uh-huh,” Guy said, smirking. He cautiously reached his hand down to the floor in order to find his sleeping bag. He found contact with it and shuffled over it, keeping his hold on Sam.
Guy laid his back on the bag, too tired and too dark for him to care for the blankets. He realized that Sam was still on him, laying on his stomach like a kitten.
“..Do you want me to get off?” Sam asked sincerely, unsure if he was overstepping some boundaries.
Guy mumbled a soft no, arching his hand over to Sam’s back. The duo embraced in each other’s warmth, never stopping to think about the world outside of the tent. The rain started to clear up, with its last few drops of water easing them both.
“I’m happy to be with you,” Guy said, already half-asleep.
“I’m happy too….” Sam yawned, stretching casually in order to make himself feel comfortable.
Sam began to rest, his eyes feeling droopy, his body exhausted. The only thing in the world that mattered to him was Guy at that very moment. All his worries and fears were stashed away. He shut them away without a single thought, his mind only fixated on the idea of love, and what that meant for so many people. What love can make people do in any occasion.
And you know what? Sam was happy to be loved.