Spencer remembers the first time he kisses Remy because that was the moment he paid attention to the way his heart fluttered every time Remy was near. It was an accident; a mere brush of lips that was almost something, yet not quite.
It stays with Spencer for the rest of his life.
Spencer is seventeen and skinny and shy and too small to fight off the bullies but too big to cry about it.
In time, he’d learn that his mother was right about the bullies being jealous of his intelligence, but Spencer is seventeen and skinny and shy and too god damn stubborn to keep his mouth shut.
Remy is twenty and tall and troublesome and too cocky for his own good but he’s also a bit broken from the massacre and can’t bear to see other people hurt, especially not skinny kids who are trying their hardest not to let the tears spill. Even though when he was ten and far skinnier and couldn’t hold in the tears, no one saved him.
His own past doesn’t matter so much as he strides over and whisks the boy away, barely feeling the split skin on his knuckles, or the blood staining his teeth. Physical pain is a lot easier to deal with, after all.
In Spencer’s cramped dorm room on campus, he bandages Remy’s hands and ignores his protests and talks too much but barely says anything, and Remy surprises himself by smiling through it all and promises to see Spencer again.
Spencer doesn’t believe him, but nods anyway, and thinks of the stranger non-stop for two weeks.
Remy doesn’t lie.
After their meeting, Remy feels lighter.
He’s still lost, still broken, but he begins to hope again and takes Spencer out for coffee when he can finally drag himself out of bed.
It’s a slow process, but Spencer is warm and bright and makes him feel like there’s something worth living for.
Four years and too much alcohol later is all it takes.
It’s unintentional and logically Spencer knows it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but he also knows that a boy who likes boys is a dead boy, unless he keeps his mouth shut.
He keeps his mouth shut, but not his mind and pretends it doesn’t hurt when he sees Remy taking someone else home.
It doesn’t occur to Remy that Spencer’s withdrawal is because of his feelings because he doesn’t know if Spencer’s straight or gay or bisexual or asexual or anything else. Remy hurts, but it’s a dull ache that’s been there since the moment he got to know Spencer so he’s learnt to cope.
He drowns himself in alcohol and meaningless sex with nameless, faceless strangers who are definitely not skinny brunettes and he feigns innocence at how Spencer can’t look him in the eye anymore.
Spencer moves to Virginia on a Tuesday and doesn’t tell Remy until he’s in the taxi on the way to his new apartment.
The guilt almost kills him but it doesn’t. Instead, it leaves him raw and aching and he wishes he could fix it and fix himself but he can’t and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. He spends the week buying furniture from thrift shops with the little money he has, building himself a home and ignores the fact that it feels too big, too empty, no matter how many bookcases he adds.
That’s the year Remy moves to New York, and Spencer’s glad because it means they’re closer to each other, and a tiny part of him wonders if Remy moved to keep an eye on him, but Remy stops talking to him as much, and on the rare occasion they do talk, Remy’s always distracted and can’t stay on the phone for too long, and he stops wondering.
Georgia happens and Spencer wonders if he’s ever been this terrified and almost laughs when he realises he’s more terrified of his feelings for his best friend than he is of being kidnapped, drugged, and killed, even if only temporarily.
He still knows it’s illogical.
When Remy calls that night, Spencer lets it go to voicemail. Remy doesn’t call again.
Sometimes Spencer thinks he made Remy up because he was lonely. His mother’s schizophrenia lends more weight to this theory and Spencer never knows if it would hurt more if Remy was real or born of his own mental illness.
When they next see each other, Spencer is twenty-seven and tall, as tall as Remy even, but it doesn’t show because he’s hunched over a cane. He’s walking towards Remy, but he hasn’t noticed him yet and Remy fights the urge to hide.
Spencer sees him and stops and Remy wants to go back in time to when it all turned to shit and fix it because he hasn’t seen Spencer in years and how did this happen. They meet in the middle and Spencer’s smiling, although it’s only a polite smile, and he’s not as small or as shy as Remy remembers, and there’s a pain in Remy’s chest that leaves him breathless.
Remy is thirty and not fully broken and not fully whole and he wonders how Rogue would react to knowing he can never give her his whole heart.
They make sure to keep in regular contact until the day Spencer realises that no one controls him and it doesn’t matter if he’s a boy who likes boys because it’s 2010 and his dad hasn’t been a part of his life for eighteen years and it doesn’t matter what he thinks anyway and Remy’s more important to him than the fear of what might happen and he wants this and wants Remy and Remy wants him.
Spencer kisses him and it isn’t their first kiss but it’s the first one that matters and he doesn’t feel anything except happiness.
Spencer remembers the last time he kisses Remy because he can’t forget anything and he doesn’t want to forget anything to do with Remy because Remy is his whole life. He remembers it being winter and that they both hated the cold, but Remy more so because of the memories it brought up and he remembers his first thought being that it wasn’t fair because if Remy were to die, surely he should die in the middle of summer with Spencer by his side because at least then he could die happy and Spencer remembers thinking oh god because Remy’s dead and he’s not coming back this time and Remy should have died happy but now Spencer can’t live happy and none of it is fair and he can’t breathe no matter how hard his lungs are working and he feels someone’s hand on his back and he doesn’t want that hand touching him because it’s not Remy’s hand and it will never be Remy’s hand again.
Sometimes Spencer still thinks he made Remy up because he was lonely but if Remy wasn’t real would it make the constant weight on his chest go away or would it hurt the same amount because Remy was a massive part of Spencer, no matter if he was real or not?
He hasn’t figured out the answer yet, but mostly he thinks Remy was the realest part of him.