For today’s story, I used the prompt to “set a story in the opposite setting to what you wrote last time.” Last time, I had the story set out on a ranch. This time, I brought the characters into the city. This takes place sometime during Jonas & Isaac’s story, but will happen off the page then. It actually takes place(probably a year or two) before yesterday’s “Rapunzel, Rapunzel”.
Konner walked across the street with Derek. He wanted to put his hand on their back. Take just that much touch. He gritted his teeth together. No, he couldn’t do even that. Because then he’d only want more and more. And he couldn’t have it.
Five years. Only have years between them, and yet it felt like a larger gulf than it ever had. When they’d met and Konner had been fourteen, it hadn’t even seen that much of a difference. Maybe because Derek had always acted older than they were.
A few more months, and they’d be eighteen, and it wouldn’t matter then.
He could see Derek’s hands tremble. He took one in his and squeezed it briefly. “It’s going to be okay,” he assured them. “He’s been worried about you this weekend. He just wants to talk.”
They nodded, but their teeth were buried in their lip. “How’d he know I was here? Did you tell him?”
Konner kept their fingertips touching. Even that was sending tingles up Konner’s arm. “No. You know we’d never do that. You told Connie you were coming to the shelter, and Isaac let Toby know you were here so no one would think you were a missing person. If you were in danger, no one would have told him.”
Derek nodded. “He’s never hurt me. Not like that. But, his words did. I just couldn’t stay there.”
“I get it. That’s what we’re here for.” A lot of the kids who spent nights at the shelter were afraid of that, though. It’s why Isaac had been so determined to get the shelter started, because he’d never had a place like this.
Konner saw Derek’s father pacing in front of the shelter. “Do you want me to go all the way with you? Or I can stand over here and just come over if you need me.”
Derek’s wide eyes met his, and he felt like there might be a message Derek was trying to convey. It couldn’t be the one Konner wanted to read there, though. “I think I’ll be okay,” they said after a minute of the two of them staring at each other. “If I need you, I’ll tug on my bangs,” he said, giving an experimental tug on the turquoise lock.
Konner smiled. “I’ll come right over.”
It was a battle to hold himself back as Derek took hesitant steps toward his father. Derek hadn’t told him everything his father had said during their fight. But, he knew it had made Derek feel like they’d been a burden, and their parents, who had adopted them almost ten years earlier, felt they were owed something for all they’d done for Derek. Which was bullshit. And Konner really hoped some meaning had been lost in the emotion of it all.
He watched as Kevin, Derek’s father, started speaking. Derek just stood there, their eyes on the ground, until Kevin said something that had their head jerking up. From this distance, he couldn’t hear their words, but he saw the tears rolling down Derek’s cheeks. He started to take a step forward, but Derek didn’t give the signal. So, he held himself back. Then, Derek was in their father’s arms, being held tight.
Konner sighed. That was a good sign. Derek pulled back, said something else, and waved back toward Konner. Then, they were coming back. “I’m going home,” they said.
“I figured. You work everything out?”
“Not everything,” Derek said with a shake of their head. “But, we’re going to talk about it more. And he promised to listen to what I have to say this time. I just have to get my stuff.”
“Are you okay?”
Derek nodded. “Thanks, Konner. For not telling me I was being overdramatic about it. And for just listening.”
“Any time, Derek. I mean it.” He watched Derek walk into the shelter for his stuff, then he forced himself back to the youth center. This was good. So, why did he feel like a hook had been buried in the middle of his chest, slowly pulling everything out as he walked further from Derek?
He shook his head. Now, who was being overdramatic? Not that that was unusual for him.
This was a good thing. Derek would be fine, and eventually Konner would get over whatever this infatuation was. He just had to work a little harder at it.