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To New Beginnings

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"I'm heading to bed now, you two will be alright?"

"Yes, mum. We do this every year, we'll be alright. And no, we won't be up too late, we'll get some sleep."

Cat smiled and rolled her eyes. "I'm sure I can expect you to still be awake in the morning, then. I'll see you boys next year."

Alex just groaned, while Gareth grinned. "See you next year, Mrs. Hunter."

Neither of them spoke as Cat walked away, leaving them in the silence of the living room. The clock read 23:46, and Gareth had to wonder why she didn't just stay up the extra few minutes to see the year off. No big deal, though, he supposed. He and Alex had plenty of fun by themselves.

"Well, Gaz, this is it. Another year together. Crazy, isn't it?"

"It is! Who would have thought that we could still be friends after so long?"

"Me, of course. The two of us, we're unstoppable." Alex grinned as he spoke, glancing up at the clock every few seconds as if a few words could take up fourteen minutes just like that. "Best friends forever."

Gareth smiled, too. It was something that they had discussed often, their future. The two of them, strike partners together in the Prem, together even after all of that time. There was no other way that it could go. "Forever," he agreed.

Alex nodded, looking to the clock for the millionth time. "23:47," he announced, and Gareth laughed softly.

"You plan on doing that every minute, mate?"

"I just might."

For approximately a minute it was relatively quiet, until Alex proudly boasted that, "It's 23:48, now."

"It is," Gareth agreed, just shaking his head slightly. "You got your resolution planned out and everything?"

"Of course not. You know me."

Gareth chuckled. "No surprise there. It's not like I have one, either. I'd say that I'll beat you in FIFA more, but it's hardly possible."

"Oh, you're so on," Alex was quick to counter.

"But not now," Gareth chirped, "it's 23: 49."

"Wake me up at midnight, then, I'll take you on."

"Don't you dare fall asleep on me, Hunter!" Gareth was grinning as he looked at Alex, giving a playful shove to the side. Then he innocently explained, "Gotta keep you up somehow."

Alex gave him an unimpressed look, purposely sinking back into the couch some. "As if I'd fall asleep on you now. Not even if I wanted to."

"I'll trust you on that one."

No meaningful conversation came around at any point, but how could it? They were fourteen-year-olds up alone on New Year's Eve, for God's sake. They didn't actually talk that much more, just watching the clock and each trying to be the first to announce the turn of each new minute.

By the time Gareth really spoke up again, there were only two minutes left until midnight. "They say that the New Year is for new beginnings, right?" he asked, looking at Alex thoughtfully.

"I guess so," he agreed after a moment, shrugging slightly. "Why?"

Gareth scooted closer to him on the couch, smiling a bit slyly. "It's like... we can leave everything from this year behind us, everything's new."

"I guess..." Alex's brow was scrunched in thought as he tried to figure out what Gareth was getting at.

He just nodded firmly, though, seeming quite pleased with himself. "Alex Hunter," he said, gaze flicking to the clock for just a moment. "First off, it's 23:59. See, distracted you. It's probably only a few seconds from midnight, at this point. But secondly..."

Smirking a bit, even, Gareth leaned even closer, placing the smallest of kisses just barely against Alex's lips. The unsuspecting boy was quick to flush pink, not having expected anything of the sort from his friend.

Gareth just looked incredibly proud of himself, smiling more than Alex had seen in his entire life. "To new beginnings, right Alex?"

The clock went forward another minute, but neither of them pointed it out.

"Yeah," he agreed, beginning to smile himself. It was just for them, nobody else ever had to know. Left behind them with everything else from the year, just like Gareth said. "To new beginnings."