Tom gazed into the depths of Mickey's dark eyes and lost himself momentarily. The urge to admit he had only sought a reading of his future to create a reason to find the eighteen year old was strong. There had been no lie or evasion but Tom felt dishonest in not telling the young man everything. Dark eyes looked back at him, they grew in his vision and it was only as he felt his lips touch Mickey's that the youth realised he had leant in and kissed the gypsy.
The punch from Mickey was hard and unexpected, Tom fell backward from the blow and tumbled to the dirt and brown leaves behind the stump.
Mickey came to his feet fast and hurried to where Tom had fallen. As he moved close, Tom shuffled backward expecting more violence. Sitting among the detritus of the forest with his hands behind him he was unable to retreat faster than the gypsy's approach.
“”Khul! I'm sorry” the gypsy cried out. Mickey dropped to his knees beside Tom and reached out to lightly touch Tom's chin where his fist had impacted. There was no mark and with little flesh over the bone it was likely there would be no bruise. “So sorry, it was a reflex.”
Wide-eyed and shocked Tom was frozen to the spot. He let the youth squat beside him but he couldn't take his fearful expression from the face of the man who had punched him. Unsure how to react to the apologies that tumbled from Mickey he remained immobile as the gypsy knelt with one knee beside him and his other at his back.
Mickey's examination of where his blow had landed softened and his manipulation of the youth's head slowly became a caress. Mickey leant in and unprompted, he gently placed his lips to Tom's and kissed him. “I'm sorry” he reiterated.
Tom didn't know what to say. Mickey pulled back and sat on his heels, his eyes showed a new nervousness as he waited for the youth to react. Time froze for the pair as they sat, clothes touching but each unsure of what to do. The gypsy was like a bad puppy waiting for a punishment; Tom was startled and confused.
Swallowing back his upset, Tom stretched his palm to Mickey's cheek and held his hand against the tanned skin. Raising his own hand, the young gypsy placed it over Tom's as though he feared without the reinforcement of the contact, Tom may withdraw his own hand.
A tear trickled from Mickey's eye and over his cheekbone. It touched Tom and ran slowly down his finger to nestle against his thumb. The two youths moved toward each other once more, consciously, they closed on each other to kiss again.
The laughter of children ripped the moment from them and Mickey pulled away. His hands dropped to the dirt and he span in a circle to come standing in a swift motion and his eyes locked on the direction of the sound. Glimpsing the primary colours of skirts through the trees he knew immediately the laughter had come from Ruby and Dinah.
Angry with himself as much at the two girls, his ire quickly turned to fear as the potential repercussions filtered into his thinking. Quickly Mickey grabbed Tom's hand and pulled him to his feet. “Come wit' me, make no sound.”
Still holding Tom's hand, Mickey pulled the youth deeper into the woods. The young villager had spent a lot of time in the woods and fields when he was growing up but he struggled to keep pace with the sure-footed gypsy as they hastened at least two hundred yards further into the forest.
Finally Mickey stopped. Tugging Tom against a tree, he pushed the gorgio against the trunk of an oak and held him still with one hand. Fingers widespread against the boy’s chest, he stared past the tree in the direction they had just left and said nothing.
“Who was it?” Tom asked in a whisper but Mickey simply shook his head and quietly shushed him. Tom had barely heard the laughter and the more he tied to remember the moment, the further it slipped from him. Initially he hadn't given the incident much thought beyond it being an interruption of his kiss with Mickey but now, with his back to the tree and having nothing to do but imagine, he started to worry.
If whoever it had been spoke of it Tom realised the foretold pain of his future could be much closer than he had imagined. The youngster began to imagine the police being called, a public court case and a subsequent jail sentence. Despite Mickey's urging for quiet, Tom began to cry in earnest. He no longer felt the pain of the punch of he had received, now he wept from fear and shame.
Mickey tore his eyes from the trees where he had been watching to see if the two girls would return and glared hard at Tom. “Stop it!” Despite only being in contact with the boy with his fingertips he managed to shove the youngster hard against the tree.
“We're going to go to prison!” Tom wailed.
Mickey stared intently at Tom and he frowned. “Prison? Amria!” Mickey shook his head. “Don't be worrying for prison; my da learns of this, the Familia will see me muller'd. Dead. You understand that?”
The gypsy's words sobered Tom up instantly and suddenly a terror grew in him. “What?”
Mickey didn't reply but turned his eyes back to the trees. His hand moved from the chest of the young man and while he kept his gaze locked in the direction of the camp he shifted his arm upward so as to rest his palm against Tom's neck. Gently he caressed the soft skin, his fingers lightly touched behind the teenager's ear.
Still worried at their combined fates, Tom let the gypsy's soothing hand ease some of the tension from him. With nothing to do but try to hold in his fears and suppress the sobs that were still trying to escape him, the boy closed his eyes and focussed solely on Mickey's touch.