Johnathan whips around. He's never been this angry before. At least not with Billy.
"What? That you were ashamed to walk home with me?"
"I'm sorry, Jay."
"Yeah right! Why don't go and hang out with your school friends?"
"I said I'm sorry! I wasn't thinking! I'm sorry Johnathan."
"Leave me alone."
Billy pushes Johnathan against the wall and follows him in. Johnathan pushes back but Billy crowds in to him. Lips finding Johnathan's, pleading.
"I'm sorry," Billy whispers, between kisses, "I'm sorry."
Johnathan kisses him back, laughing breathlessly after a moment.
"I believe you."
Billy had belonged to Johnathan before he learnt anything about the world. About how things worked. That being friends with Jay would not be looked on kindly by the rest of the world.
The first time he had touched Johnathan he'd stared at his fingers in wonder at how the colour didn't come off on his hands. He had been eight years old and Johnathan's family had just moved in next door to work for his father.
It wasn't long before they spend most days together, exploring the fields, sometimes helping their dads with the farm and often being yelled at by their mothers for disappearing for hours on end without a word.
It was only when Billy started school he realised how the life he lived at home was different from everybody else. He hadn't understood why Johnathan couldn't come with him.
"Coloured folk can't go to school, love. That would be indecent," had been his mother's answer, which he hadn't understood at all.
It had been unbearable, that first day without Johnathan. He hated the teachers, he hated his class mates and he hated his parents for making him come here on his own. He'd gone straight to Johnathan when he got home, ignoring his mother wanting to know how his day was. Johnathan had been kicking around their worn out rugby ball in the freshly harvested wheat field. He'd grinned when Billy told him he hated school and kicked the ball to him.
"Wanna play?" Johnathan had asked as Billy hugged the ball tightly to his chest. He'd nodded with a smile. It had been the first time he'd smiled the whole day.
As he'd grown older he had understood. But he never accepted it. Anything Billy could have, Johnathan should have too and Billy can't remember the number of times he'd gotten in to trouble at school for disagreeing with the teacher on that particular point.
Johnathan is looking up at him with clear brown eyes and a small smile.
"Gonna get off me, Bills?"
Billy can feel Johnathan moving under him and all rational thought flees his mind. He kisses him then. Leans down and catches Johnathan's lips with his own. Billy has a moment register Johnathan freezing under him and then he is scrambling up to his feet and Billy is looking up at Johnathan knowing he's ruined it all.
"What the fuck?" Johnathan wipes a hand across his mouth. Billy flinches, cursing himself for being such a fool.
"I'm not gonna be your plaything, Billy." Johnathan says angrily and walks away.
It takes Billy a moment to process and then he's on his feet and running after Johnathan.
He catches Johnathan by the back of his shirt and doesn't let go when Johnathan tries to pull away.
"Never a plaything, Jay," he comes around to face Johnathan, "I want you forever."
He takes a step back, running a hand through his hair, wishing he knew the words to explain this.
"I've been wanting to do that," he gestures at the ground where they'd kissed, "for months now and I know it might not be normal. I know that," he meets Johnathan's eyes. He'd fallen in love with his best friend. There's nothing to do but plough on.
"But I don't care. I just want you."
Johnathan holds his eyes for a moment before turning on his heel and walking away. Billy doesn't follow him this time.
Billy is not asleep when Johnathan comes through his window. This is their ritual, has been for a long time. But Billy wasn't sure whether Johnathan would come tonight after what happened.
Billy doesn't move, content to watch Johnathan as he comes and sits down on the edge of the bed, head bowed.
After a minute, he looks up and Billy can't help his heart skipping a beat. He is well aware that he is not wearing a shirt and his blanket only comes up to his waist.
He forgets to breathe when Johnathan suddenly moves on to the bed, leaning over him in the dark. Billy can barely see the dark hair hanging around Johnathan's face and resists the urge to reach up.
"If you're not normal, the neither am I," Johnathan says and kisses him.
"With the way things are now, I can't afford to keep you on. I might have to let you go."
"What's going on? Johnathan?" Billy bursts in to Johnathan's house. Johnathan's dad doesn't even look surprised.
"We're leaving, son," he says and resumes packing.
"'Leaving'? Johnathan?" his voice has risen higher and then Johnathan comes through the door.
"Jay?" Billy pleads.
"Come on," Johnathan nods towards the wheat field, "come with me."
Billy follows and when they've gone far enough from the known world, he stops.
"Tell me it's not true."
Johnathan stops but he doesn't turn.
"You can't leave!" Billy yells, not caring at all that he sounds hysterical.
Johnathan turns around and Billy freezes at the sight of tears on Johnathan's face. He crosses the distance between them in a heartbeat. His hand is trembling when it reaches out to touch the wetness of Johnathan's tears.
"I don't get a say in this...I can't...there's nothing I can do."
"Yes there is! You can stay. Stay with me!" Billy kisses him desperately.
"What about my family, Billy?" Johnathan asks him softly, hands holding him close, their foreheads touching.
"What about me?" he is not being selfish. It's that he can't imagine a life without Johnathan in it.
Johnathan kisses him, long and slow and if Billy can taste the saltiness of tears, he tries not to think about it.
"I love you, you know that right?" Johnathan whispers.
Billy grips his hands in Johnathan's hair and shakes his head.
"Nuh," he kisses Johnathan back fiercely, "I don't! You have to stay and," he takes a shaky breath, "tell me every day."
Johnathan laughs quietly. That laugh.
"I. Love. You," Johnathan says, marking each word with a kiss.
They lie side by side and watch the stars. The night is hot and there is no wind. And the only sound is the humming of the crickets. Johnathan turns his head to look at Billy, reaching out a hand towards him on the dry grass. He lets it rest between them and looks back up.
He feels Billy's fingers threading through his' a moment later. He grins and turns his head to look at him. Billy is still looking at the stars but he's smiling.
Johnathan holds tight and the grin never leaves his face.