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Paris seems to be far behind, along with the empty hotel room where happy laughter once reverberated. Paris is left behind and no longer looks like the most romantic place in the world, because it reminds him of how heavy and empty his heart had been, how it ached and throbbed against the bars of his ribcage, while Julian was trying to call out for his own common sense and to do the right thing.
It's not easy to let people go. Parting with Erica and sending her into the arms of another man was simply unbearable: a cold lump of regret and bitterness swelled to immense proportions in his stomach and he was desperately short of air, but he tried to be sympathetic. If he had acted selfishly and pretended not to notice all the glances thrown between Harry and Erica, he would have ruined everything between the three of them for good. He would have made three people unhappy at once. Instead, he was the only one with a heartache to deal with. Which was ironic, since his medical specialty was cardiology.
But, unfortunately, no pills have been invented yet for a broken heart. And the only way to calm himself down was to fall headfirst into a new relationship, which was not an option for him. All the emotions were still too recent, despite the fact that more than enough time had passed. A year? Two? Five? He was still thinking about her, thinking about how things might have been different, and trying to come to terms with the heaviness that spread across his chest, making his heart skip a beat.
Julian tried not to think about Paris. It wasn't the city's fault that all this romantic bullshit didn't happen to him. It wasn't the city's fault that he decided to put a period to all of it when what Julian most wanted to do was put exclamation points and scream about how happy he was. It's not the city's fault, but Julian has a hard time tolerating any mention of it now.

One workday comes after another. Time doesn't stop, it runs, and some memories are fading. He still gets hurt, and there is no desire to cross his path with Erica and put on a polite smile, but he tries. And, most frustratingly, he's not expecting anything at all: it's his birthday in a couple of months, the numbers hint that it's time to move on, but it's like he's stuck in one place.
And that place is the threshold of the room where the new patient has been brought in just this morning.
Julian stands there and can't believe his own eyes. He freezes in a comical manner and can't figure out: what is required of him at all, where is he, and what is the meaning of life?
He's not seventeen anymore, after all. He's not even twenty. He is an adult and a self-aware man whose life is mostly guided by his work.
He has no right to let down those who really need his help because there are many people who do. Only he forgets about all of this as if at the snap of his fingers. For just a fleeting moment he goes back to his adolescence and remembers how the walls of his room were covered with Wyld Stallyns posters, and on the shelves, he proudly displayed all his treasured trophies: records, calendars, setlists from almost every band show, key chains, stickers, and other memorabilia. He even had brand-name guitar picks, and for a very long time, he cherished the dream of learning how to play the guitar. He carried absolutely everything with him when he moved out of his parents' house without the slightest hesitation. The mere thought that his mother would have given away or thrown away all this treasure was terrifying.

The only thing was that everything remained in the box. He remembers how carefully he'd cut out any pictures of Bill S. Preston Esquire from photos and magazines, how he'd put them in a separate holder and treasured them more than anything else, naively reluctant to admit that this utterly naïve affection had been firmly planted under his skin. He was among those who dreamed of meeting their hero and paid no attention to the fact that it was too unlikely. Julian frequently wandered into his colorful fantasies when he was very young: imagining their acquaintance, the conversations they would have together, and, of course, especially cherishing those thoughts full of fantasies of dating, butterflies in his stomach, and the necessary "happily ever after," even though in those days the world was simply not ready for such a relationship. He suspects that nothing has changed since then, only the fact that Julian's inner yearning is killing any sense of light emotion has added to it.
Why would someone like Bill be interested in an ordinary boy who was now just a good doctor? Why would any of his dreams ever come true, after all, if every time anyone he cares about chooses someone else?
He'd love to adhere to the "don't make an idol of yourself" rule, but he can't help it: he was fascinated by Erica's personality, and what he always imagined Bill to be, (considering all the materials Julian went through that time), was pretty mesmerizing. He keeps such passions to himself all his life so he doesn't have to face other people's judgment. He throws his whole self always into relationships with people and then is left devastated. Nobody chooses the good guy, right? People come to the nice guys to cry about how bad things are in their relationships with someone else and then leave them alone in the end.
Really, what were the odds that he'd ever get the chance to meet his idol face-to-face? What were the odds that life would simply collide them together unceremoniously and as if to mock Mercer's youthful and awe-inspiring feelings?

Life, as it turned out, is full of surprises. And this time he is even glad for the surprise he has to face. However, he would have preferred to meet Bill under other circumstances and without an obligation to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, the diagnosis isn't that terrifying. They are both fortunate that nothing too dangerous could happen to Bill. His brain, however, is unwilling to cope with the realization that Bill really is here. In this very hospital bed that many other patients have been in, but Julian can't remember any of them now. He can't even remember Erica's face now, to be perfectly honest. He stands in the doorway and feels himself turning into an enthusiastic youngster and a sincere and open smile on his face reappears. For the first time in a long, long time.

“Hey doctor dude, I wanna know how bad I am.”

Julian clears his throat and straightens his back. He still has a smile on his face, but he tries his best to make it formal and concerned because decent doctors with professional experience don't turn into squealing fans. Decent doctors care about their patients' lives and health. And, of course, it is his responsibility to help the patient, not to ask about his career and other things, the list of which pops up in his mind at the snap of his fingers. He's afraid he won't get the chance to meet Bill again. Even though he wants Bill to avoid the need for medical help as much as possible, and not to complain about his health at all.
Of course, a lot of time has passed, but he can't take his eyes off the familiar face, which still bears the mischievous features of the frantic boy who occupied all Julian's thoughts years ago.
“You're not bad at all. I guess you've been through a lot of stress lately, so with this pulse raise and slightly increased blood pressure your body is trying to tell you that it needs some rest. You need some rest.”
He feels like reprimanding himself for how stubbornly he ignored the patient's name when he reviewed his patient's chart just a few minutes ago. His thoughts were elsewhere, and that's unacceptable. Maybe he needed a rest, too. Maybe he should pull himself together and go on vacation for a while, just to finally figure out what to do with his life from now on. Maybe he should listen to what the quiet voice of hope is whispering to him right now, and accept the idea that this meeting is true destiny.

Julian fears he might burst into laughter right now. Destiny? Of course, it is. What else but fate? The usual coincidence of circumstances, for example. Working with people involves meeting them, and the fact that it is Bill Preston himself, who comes to him of all possible cardiologists is hardly anything more than a coincidence. Julian's romantic personality only spoils everything. No one is interested in his perspective on what's going on, except that his breathing is still barely out of place when he picks up his stethoscope and nods to Bill with a warm smile.
“But I guess we better double-check everything anyway, right?” the moment the device is placed on Bill's warm skin, along with the tips of his own fingers, Julian begs all known higher powers to make it hard to see the slight blush of his cheeks.
“I'm a longtime fan of yours, by the way.” his voice literally oozes genuine warmth. He had been wanting to say that for a long time, to thank Bill for his creativity and the fact that his music gave him the strength to overcome difficulties and follow his
“Be excellent to each other!” he feels how quickly a hot wave of embarrassment flows over his head as fast as he removes the medical device and clutches Bill's medical records in his fingers again. “This is the best advice possible. It helped me get through a lot.”

“Party on, dude.” - Bill instantly responds and looks with a kind of affection that makes Julian feel weak in the knees and very eager to immediately sit down next to Bill on the bunk, because standing is simply impossible.

He can't stop smiling. He looks at Bill carefully and tilts his head slightly to the side, and then gets all shy when he catches Bill's intense and soft gaze. He seems to be worried for nothing about the whole thing. His patient doesn't look like he's annoyed to meet another fan or that even in the hospital he needs to stick to his celebrity status. Bill seems like a very friendly and pleasant person. He makes him feel comfortable even when he doesn't say anything, but just the sound of his voice makes Julian want to move his shoulders and throw off that crowd of goosebumps that starts running swiftly down his spine. And that's only because those goosebumps are utterly inappropriate right now.
Julian believes that love at first sight exists, and his affection irrationally began to bloom in his chest many years ago. And he has imagined many scenarios in his head, thought through the dialogues and how he would be able to make the right impression if they ever met, but now for some reason, all he can do is settle down on the hospital bed next to the patient and examine his own palms. His own heart beats loudly in his ears.

“So you gonna make some prescriptions for me, doctor?” Bill still looks a little sad. Maybe it's because some of his plans have been disrupted by his worsening health. Maybe it's because Bill, as well, is having a hard time coping with the fact that time is fleeting and that he's no longer a boy who can fool around for days and nights.
“Yep, even though you're relatively alright I think it's for the best for you to take some medicine just to help your body to feel better and your heart to work properly. And I highly recommend staying here for a couple of days so I can take a close eye on you. Have you experienced some severe stress lately? It could be the reason for your worsening condition.” He asks the standard questions, but for some reason, he feels as if he's trying to pry into someone else's business and uncover more. No, of course, he is madly curious, but professionalism comes first. He doesn't want to impose himself, but he's very eager to give the necessary support.
Boy, is he happily walking into the same trap again? He's more than into it.

Bill remains silent for a few seconds, runs his fingers through his hair, and smiles a little nervously. Divorce. Tough times in the band's existence. A baby, after all. Everything leaves its mark on him. His best friend is always there to give him a strong shoulder to rely on if he needs one, but he can't keep dragging Ted out of his own life, can he?
Julian nods sympathetically and frowns his eyebrows, showing the importance of the subject he is now so generously entrusted with. Something in his chest begins to whine again. He pulls his palm forward, toward the warmth of another man who, until this very day, existed only in his not particularly wild fantasies. He touches Bill, wanting to make sure he's not dreaming. He touches him, wanting to ensure that he, Julian, can be trusted. His heart keeps rumbling, and then it skips a beat sweetly when Bill smiles back gratefully and tells him that he's definitely lucky enough to meet the best doctor in the world today.

Julian was always a good judge of people. He always knows the right words to say in order to make another person feel better, and these words usually pops into his brain all by themselves. Even that night in Paris. He knew the right thing to do. He knew what to say. Now his head is a mess. Now he can't find the words and instead of saying anything useful he only keeps smiling encouragingly but manages to pull himself together and prescribe Bill some medication to make it easier for him to cope with the stress and its effects on his health.

Time goes by. Day by day. One after another.
He comes to Bill's hospital room more often than he's supposed to. He stops by first thing in the morning to ask him how he's been sleeping. He sits for ten or fifteen minutes on Bill's bed, inspects him, and he is genuinely pleased when he sees that Bill's vital statistics are gradually improving. He hopes Bill is more comfortable here in the hospital. He believes that he can help a little and take Bill's mind off things that are bothering him. And he absolutely and somewhat selfishly relishes the opportunity to interact with the idol of his adolescence.

Julian takes every free minute to look in Bill's room and wave, smile, crack a joke or two or tell him how the day is going. He doesn't have to do that, but he really wants to: he wants to take all the time they have; he wants to stay on night duty just so he can talk about anything and everything in his spare time with Bill.
He brings along a couple of tasty buns and cups of raspberry tea from the cafeteria. He can't explain the fact that he knows in advance what kind of tea Bill prefers in general. He's taking a wild guess and exhales with relief only at the moment when his patient wraps his hands around the cup and breathes in the tea loaded with fragrance. Julian watches and can't help but smile.
Bill is insanely sweet. He's impossibly comfy. And Julian really wishes that a minute's break could turn into an eternity, except that his own sense of responsibility won't let him abandon his patients, either.

Some days Bill laughs and shows pictures of little Thea. Julian looks at the pictures and smiles back, belatedly realizing that there is almost nothing in his own life besides work. He looks at the pictures and lets himself dive into the pleasant fantasy that he can at least barely touch someone else's life, feel like he is a part of it.

The several days which were necessary for Bill to recover and rest flew by unnoticed. His pulse and blood pressure are back to normal, his stress is rapidly decreasing, and one day Julian decides not to stay in his patient's room because he already has a lot of guests. He only stops by for a few seconds to get acquainted (how much Ted cares about his best friend's health makes Julian's heart melt). But Bill's upcoming leave still makes him sad. He's used to peeking into the room several times a day, always having a few funny or not-so-funny stories prepared, or bringing buns from the bakery on his way from home to work because they taste better and are sure to please Bill more than what's sold in the hospital cafeteria.
All this will soon come to an end. His favorite patient will go home, and Julian will stay here. And they may never meet again. He hopes, though, that Bill's heart really won't bother him anymore.

But his own will certainly bother him.
On the day of Bill's departure, he musters up the courage after all. He needs to take that step. Take the risk. Forget all the failures in the past and try his luck again with an open mind.
He shows up on the doorstep of the especially comfortable room he has spent so much time in.
He appears on the threshold and smiles softly.

“How about we have coffee tomorrow? Let's have a chat and I'll check on you.”
“Are you that friendly with all your patients?”
“No, of course not. I mean... not that friendly.”
The mischievous smile that was meant only for Julian at that moment made him forget how to breathe at all. Something that flashed in Bill's eyes for just a few seconds made his breath hitch. The words about being "the best doctor in the world" resound within his head in the sweetest voice and keep him uneasy. He looks at the number on his cell phone and smiles as Bill leaves the office.

It’s a date. It’s definitely a date! And it’s going to be wonderful. And Julian is surely looking forward to feeling better and believing in love once again. He has a very good feeling about Bill and how he was smiling at him. He is sure that there’s something. A spark between both of them. Something electrical and cozy at the same time.
His poor heart goes crazy about the slightest thought about what’s going to happen tomorrow.
It’s a freaking date. And Julian is over the moon about that.

Paris is far behind, and another Christmas is getting closer and closer. And if at the very beginning of the week Julian was sure that no miracles would happen to him this year, now everything has been turned upside down. He glances periodically at his phone all the time left before the meeting and can't believe that in just a few hours the date will actually take place. He can't help but send some hesitant, " Are we meeting as planned?"
He smiles when the reply comes with "ABSOLUTELY YES" and lots of smiling emoticons. Julian wants to believe that Bill can't wait to meet, either. Julian forgets everything in the world for a second and imagines all too clearly: the way Bill holds the phone in one hand and types the message with his other hand’s fingers; the way he frowns slightly, most likely choosing the emoticons he likes best; the way he hums to himself rather or chuckles, and Julian can easily imagine how adorable are the wrinkles spreading from Bill's eyes.

He's a little nervous. No, it's all a lie. Julian is insanely nervous and keeps looking at his watch. His heart is pounding loudly as he rapidly shortens the distance from the hospital to the café where they agreed to meet. He can't believe that this is really happening, but his lips spread into a smile the second he enters the place and looks out for the right one among the many other customers.
The surrealness of what is about to happen overwhelms him in a warm wave with every step he takes. Somewhere inside him, there is a chilling fear that he will once again rush right into the deep end with the man whose work means so much to him. Will he be lucky this time? Or would he have to forget about his entire collection of Wyld Stallyns merch like he had to forget about Erica's plays?
He just didn't have the strength to watch any of the ones she'd produced since Paris. Nor did he have the energy to go back to the old ones. Everything reminded him of her. And now he worries that it will get worse.
But the smile never disappears from his face, and Bill rises from a table far away from everyone else, beaming with warmth.
He's wearing a navy-blue sweater that highlights the color of his eyes. A slightly crumpled edge of his shirt peeks out from under the collar (Bill must have packed in a hurry or simply not paid attention to such a detail), and Julian feels a slight tingling sensation at his fingertips, a desire to smooth the soft fabric, adjust the collar and allow himself to touch the other man's skin with his fingertips.
The last thought brings a slight blush to his face. All that is allowed now is to shake Bill's hand, to hold the gesture for a few seconds longer than is considered decent, to make the moment stick in his memory for a long time. Even if it doesn't work, and this encounter isn't the trigger for many others, he'll still have valuable memories of this evening.

The soft couch sags the moment Julian sits down at the table. Bill sits across from him, and there is already a tray on the table with a small, plump teapot and a couple of cups.
“Raspberry.”
Bill catches his inquisitive gaze and smiles again, bringing the memories back to the semi-darkness of the hospital room and all their conversations in hushed voices. Julian stops fidgeting, instantly surrenders to the atmosphere of calm and comfort.

Everything around them is already decorated for Christmas. The lights and lights are flashing, the tables are lit with candles in old wine bottles. He stares at the dancing light for a few seconds and doesn't hold back his smile when he sees it reflected in Bill's glasses. A small, warm dot that chases away all the anxiety he's accumulated over the day.

Julian is glad he listened to his inner voice after all and put together a little gift: he thought for a long time about how appropriate it would be to bring something with him and finally decided that he'd rather leave something as a reminder of himself than hesitate too long and miss the opportunity. He puts his work bag on his lap and begins rummaging through it so intently that he doesn't immediately realize he's being called upon. He looks up at Bill and the waiter, who is already standing by their table, waiting for them to be ready to order.
There's an awkward silence for a second, and Julian feels his heart beating desperately somewhere in his throat. The situation with Erica has hurt him more than he ever imagined. The situation with Erica has made him question every action he takes.
Bill takes it all in, nods, and begins to choose something from the menu, giving Julian enough time to stop all the fiddling with his bag and join in the process.

He takes a holiday card out of his bag and hands it to Bill, along with the feather-shaped pendant he bought earlier.
Bill blushes and takes the present. Julian thinks that maybe (just maybe) this makes Bill uncomfortable, but he wanted to give Bill a present so badly that he simply couldn’t restrict himself!
He decided to eat some pasta and order a bunch of cupcakes for dessert. The cupcakes are going to be the Christmassy ones with pretty little Christmas trees and stars on top of each.

“I wonder how they do something beautiful like that, says Bill in the greatest admiration Julian’s ever heard. – It’s a pity to eat something that magnificent.”
“I can show you how to bake ‘em.”
He didn’t mean to say something like this. He is trembling now and hopes that Bill notices nothing at all. It’s an excellent idea though: if Bill likes cupcakes and Julian knows tons of variations of how to bake them, so it can be a good chance to spend even more time together, right?

Bill is confused for a moment. His and Joanna's dates seem to be so long ago that they feel more like some old movie than reality. The divorce erased from his memory the vast majority of what used to be stored with awe. Only today he no longer feels this fatigue: under the studying gaze of the friendly doctor a slight blush appears on his cheeks, and he really hopes that he does not look like a schoolboy in love, who from a simple meeting fantasizes an entire date with a continuation in the form of something much greater. Julian's company is comfortable. Bill can breathe and relax, at least for this evening forget about the fact that everything in his family is far from being normal, that he has to work out the issue of the band and how to combine everything so as not to spoil relations with his daughter. He's lucky, though - Thea still considers him her personal hero, no matter what's going on between him and her mother.
He wonders how she would react to the fact that he is spending the evening in the company of his doctor, and the whole setting around them hints eloquently that this meeting could be safely labeled as a first date.
But, of course, he is the only one who knows about it, because the proposal to meet and have dinner sounded excessively vague, despite the fact that he would have liked to be more specific.

Bill has hated hospitals his whole life. As a young boy, he'd been afraid of shots and needles. He hated the smell of medical supplies and the very need to spend precious time in a hospital room, especially when a hot California summer was outside the window.
And this time he came to the hospital, and at first, he was in a very depressed state of mind, because he did not want to be confined to his room for a whole week, just because his heart was a little too weak in the face of all the other worries.
And then he met Julian. And if his heart was pounding, it was only because the company of his doctor was much nicer than Bill would have thought it would be.

In a way, it seemed wrong. He felt a pang of slight guilt about how quickly the warm feeling of falling in love had swept over him. He was torn between his desire to suppress his awakening affection for his doctor and his curiosity. Bill was very curious to see what might come of that very affection. He wanted to give up his broken marriage, breathe deeply, and devote himself to a new relationship. The question, though, was how much the doctor was interested in the same thing?

Maybe Julian is so nice to all his patients. And that's why he's so much loved in the hospital. Maybe he is friendly and nice by default to absolutely everyone?
This thought lodges in his chest with a bitter and heavy lump. Bill would like to think that this is not a trick of his overblown imagination. Bill wants to let himself enjoy the thought that the infatuation is very much mutual.
Why does he even think he has any chance at all? Probably because Julian is here, smiling softly and affectionately at him, inviting him to a cooking class at his house, and at this very moment his cheeks seem to be turning slightly pink, too.
Bill feels like a young boy on his first date ever: his palms are sweating, his breathing is faltering, and he wants so badly to constantly intercept Julian's gaze across the table just to make sure that he cares too, that they are both worried about what is going on. But in the most excellent way.
Bill wants to reach forward with his palm and touch Julian at least barely, but he still continues to wait and hesitate.

He was never a good chef in spite of the fact that from time to time he did enjoy spending time in the kitchen and trying to cook something that was meant to surprise Thea in the first place: his daughter's satisfied face is worth any effort, and her happy laugh is the best possible reward when Bill turns the whole kitchen into one maddening chaos in an attempt to bake an exorbitant portion of cookies or sweet pies for the girl.

And, perhaps, even if he had been a virtuoso in cooking, he would now gladly forget all his skills just to be alone with Julian again. Even if only for a cooking lesson. Even if just once or twice more, but he would have those precious moments in his memory when the heaviness of the past years and the wild stress finally receded under the onslaught of someone else's caring gaze.

“Yeah, it's a good idea..." he sounds a little hesitant but keeps smiling in the hope that Julian won't think he agrees reluctantly. He wants this new meeting. Of course, he does.

“If you don't mind of course”
“I don't.”

It's too hasty. Bill gives himself away. Julian smiles beamingly and is only brought back to reality by the waiter's intrusion into their little private space for two. Only then does he remember that there are actually plenty of people around the two of them.

Julian decides not to betray himself and genuinely shares what's bothering him. He sits there holding his breath and hoping that now he won't be told something like "sorry, but this evening is strictly a friendly evening" and "I just wanted to thank you for a great job at the hospital" or "you know, I'm already seeing someone." He hopes he's taking his time and not imposing, but he can't keep quiet either. He keeps thinking that if he hesitates too long, there won't be another opportunity to call Bill. And that's even though his phone book has his cherished phone number in it!

Bill, on the other hand, is noticing that he is really wanted to be seen again after dinner tonight and is relieved to be reclining back in his seat. They're more like two high school kids who have a strong affection between them, but they have no idea what to do about it or what the boundaries are. They feel drawn to each other, but they remain cautious and hesitant.
What if everything is a fantasy, though they want to sit down closer and invade each other's space and see where it all might lead them?

“I would love to make some pancakes with you.” he laughs warmly and stops fidgeting altogether. Julian touches his hand on the table with his fingertips lightly, almost weightlessly. He takes a risk and watches what he might be allowed to do. And, when Bill doesn't yank his hand away, covers it with his palm. Just for a few brief moments. That touch isn't enough, but the doctor is still a little embarrassed by their surroundings and the people around them, so he goes back to his dish.

The evening goes amazingly well. Bill tells some stories from never-ending tours, many of which were years ago; he tells stories about how he doesn't mind now devoting more time to his child than to the band and that even if he is worried that the times of former glory are irrevocably gone, he also manages to look to the future with hope, for it always conceals surprises. And, as it turns out, his hopes are fully justified: if all his time was still occupied with performances, he probably would not have such a strong bond with his daughter, because it is simply impossible to bring up a child being constantly on the road.
Bill talks about time travel and the specially invented phone booth and how Ted was always supposed to keep track of time, and Julian just nods and listens with an enthusiastic look, not questioning a single word he says.
Only once does he interrupt Bill's story when Bill starts talking about how creepy it really was in Hell. He interrupts because their conversation is already at the pancake-eating point. Raspberry tea, their favorite, is cooling in the neat mugs, and Julian reaches forward lightly to pick up the dab of cream left at the right corner of Bill's lips with the pad of his finger.

It's getting harder and harder to breathe. too little time passes from polite interest to what is usually allowed on a date. Everything happens too fast. The heart is pounding too loudly. Bill thinks about how, if it weren't for the people around him, now would be the perfect moment to give Julian an easy kiss. From the other man's gaze, he realizes - Mercer is thinking the same thing.
A silence hangs over the table, lasting only a few long seconds. It's enough to make it unbearably hot, and Bill's fingers unconsciously touch the same spot where Julian's touch was just felt.

Maybe he was destined to end up in this particular hospital of all places. Overexcited enough to require a doctor's intervention because it was Julian who was destined to be his doctor?
There are a lot of questions, and Bill doesn't want to look for answers. All he really wants to do is enjoy this evening.

When dinner is over, it's time to go home. They don't want to part even for a second and keep talking and talking and talking instead. Julian tells him about his youth and blushes charmingly when it comes to how much fan memorabilia he still has. Bill chuckles and begs to come to his doctor's house sometime so he can evaluate them all with a professional's eye, of course. And spend time together again, but only this time without the scrutiny of curious others.
They do not want to part, but still, it must be done in order to meet again. They leave the café, and Julian freezes and watches with delight the buds of fireworks that are now blooming festively over their heads. The Christmas spirit invades the habitual life of the townspeople.
He looks at the multi-colored lights in the darkened sky and does not immediately notice how gently he is taken by the hand. Fingers intertwined. Amazing! After all, they haven't talked about anything like this. They haven't mentioned the affection that's been brewing. Julian had read a thousand times about soul mates meeting and understanding each other without words. To suggest that his soul mate would be none other than Bill S. Preston was a blatant impudence.
A youthful foolishness seasoned with naivete. He never dared to dream of such a thing. But reality turns out to be better than all his fantasies: Bill holds his hand and takes a few neat steps to get closer. He holds Julian's hand and pulls him to touch his lips affectionately and gently with his own.

“You smell so nice, Julian.”

He freezes. Almost doesn't breathe. Definitely blushes. He looks at Bill and doesn't blink. And Bill smiles that incredible smile of his. And the whole evening seems like another fairy tale.
Julian always knows what to say, but now he is silent. Now he is trying to get out of the pleasant, sweet haze that is wrapping him like a blanket.
“May I borrow your soap or whatever when I come to your place?”
Bill keeps talking, and all Julian has to do is smile.
“Yeah. My soap is your soap. Anytime.”

He doesn't want to leave, but he puts Bill in a cab and stares after him for a long time before staggering down the sidewalk toward his own house.
His stride is bouncy, and a happy smile lingers on his face. The kiss can still be felt on his lips, and his phone vibrates in his coat pocket. He looks at the message and immediately types his own back.

“Can't wait to see you again, my precious doctor-boyfriend-dude.”
“Me too, Bill. Me too.”