It is his second morning greeted by the warmth of a different blanket. Rays of light seep through sheer white curtains like millions of tiny fingers pressing hard through the small gaps within the woven fabric. The sound from the digital clock is off, making the room an uncomfortably quiet environment. The boy did not think it was possible to strip Avender’s room away from its important feature.
Kiro wakes up to find nothing beside him. Lilith must have gone to school, he figures. Which means he is alone with Avender once more. He should not feel anything towards that fact. Yet it alarms him. Lilith has opened a new path for him to marvel upon.
However, curiosity kills the cat, and he is not willing to test his limits. He wants to avoid him, but it is inevitable. He decides to leave the house and continue his journey to nothingness, but it is wrong of him to leave them without notice. Lilith did not ruin his chances of staying with the wonderful family. It is more that Kiro cannot fathom the idea of meeting Kaname while having the idea of an affair implanted in his mind, be it intentional or not.
He departs from the sweet comfort of Avender’s bed and shuffles his way out of the bedroom, scanning his surroundings as he searches for the bathroom door. The doors are all the same — plain and emotionless in comparison to the rather loud and jovial family. He remembers Heaven now, spotting the closed door and heading towards it. When he reaches for the door, he notices a figure appear in the peripherals of his eyesight. Rotating quickly, he sees Avender with a towel in his hands.
“Good morning, Kiro. I figured you need this. I did the laundry recently and had to bring this to you before I forget!”
Avender laughs and passes the bath towel to Kiro. His smile alone is able to stir up Kiro’s chest now more than ever. A bad sign, he thinks. The adult saunters off while humming a tune. Kiro looks down at the towel resting on his palms. His mind is befuddled with Lilith’s nonsense. He quickly hides away in Heaven and spends what seems to be a long time in the small room, trying to clear the headache that is curiosity.
He knows it is wrong of him to like Avender. He wants to believe that he does not like him. But why is his mind cluttered with what ifs and hows? Blaming Lilith for these thoughts will do him no good. He finishes his bathroom routine and exits, shaking as if he is freezing. It is not cold in the house. It is wonderfully warm. But the icy sensation surrounding him whispers otherwise near his ears.
Kiro drags his feet down the flight of stairs leading into the hall and takes a moment to breathe deeply as if trying to calm himself before entering a room full of enraged elders at bingo night. That was an interesting experience, sliding into the center and keeping a low profile in an attempt to warm up one winter evening. Who knew bingo became the bloodsport that it is today? His mind is more at ease thinking on that memory, and he is ready to approach Avender in a normal, friendly fashion.
Avender greets Kiro with a soft smile, turning away quickly to pay attention to the sizzling pans in front of him. The boy did not even realize the scent of breakfast until now. His stomach rumbles instantly, causing Kiro to laugh out loud. He does not have to worry about the seeds planted in his brain by the eccentric high schooler. As long as he has the strange sounds coming from his gut and the bingo night memory, he should be fine and able to function properly in front of Avender.
“Morning, Avender.” Kiro has not recovered from his moment of laughter and giggles quietly, thinking about how silly it is to laugh at something as insignificant as a stomach growl.
“Someone woke up in a good mood today,” Avender calls out, laying out plates and silverware on the dining table. “Why are you giggling so much?”
“I was just thinking about unimportant things. They’re pretty silly.”
“Well, I’m sure your stomach is fairly important! Give it some more credit. It helps you survive.”
“You heard my stomach growl?”
Kiro’s face flushes red. Now Avender is the one laughing out loud. The boy is embarrassed, unsure of what to say now. The bingo night has vanished, his stomach is groaning for food. I think I like Avender, Kiro’s brain screams like a character in a horror film.
“I did not! But I caught ya! You’re hungry as heck, I bet. Come here. Food is ready.”
Avender has already served breakfast: blueberry waffles coated with syrup and whipped cream along with a small portion of hash browns and scrambled eggs. His own plate is moderately filled and spaced while Kiro’s plate is large enough to feed an entire family.
“I can’t eat it all,” he manages to respond despite the terrors clawing away at the walls of his mind. He sits in front of the plate, feeling full just by staring at it.
“I believe you can. You just have to take the time necessary to finish it all. I’ll stick with you till the very last bite,” Avender insists, cutting his waffles in asymmetrical portions. “Dig in!”
“That is way too much food, Avender. I could try to eat half of it, but I can’t promise you the entire plate.”
“I guess as long as you enjoy it I’ll allow it. It would be bad if you ate too much anyway. However, I would be very happy if you tried your best to eat it all. Heck, I’ll be happy regardless. What am I saying?”
He stuffs his mouth with the unproportionally cut waffles and picks at the scrambled eggs, debating if he wants a mouthful of it next. His words are awfully kind with a twist Kiro cannot explain. It is as if he is restraining himself from something. But what exactly? Is it just Kiro’s mind playing foolish tricks and giving him false hopes? He focuses on the food instead, trying to use the taste and smell as an escape route from his mental dispute. Surely enough, he eats away until the last bite of the food on his plate. It is a terrible idea. His stomach hurts and he feels a slight uneasiness which Avender notices.
“I shouldn’t have given you that much, I’m so sorry.”
“I… I wanted to eat it all. To make you happy,” Kiro groans as he rests his head on the dining table. “I was not supposed to say that,” he then whispers inaudibly. The boy takes a deep breath, wishing to an imaginary shooting star that Avender brushes aside what he had just said.
“I am happy, Kiro. But now I’m worried. It was out of my own selfishness, I shouldn’t have pressured you like that. C’mon, sit on the sofa. It’s more comfy over there than here.”
Avender gently pulls up Kiro from the chair with his hands on Kiro’s wrist and waist, starting to guide him away from the dining table. Kiro swats his hands away and scurries off towards the living room. It is definitely not the time. Not with a full stomach.
He sits down on the sofa and tries to pretend that everything is just a small game. Yes, Avender’s kind-hearted personality is artificial. Lilith is just a mini boss in a little retro game called… It does not work.
Is there a higher entity that gave Kiro this strange and unwanted fate? All he is receiving from his time in the household are memories that he should have had when he was younger. He should have received love and attention from his absent parents. He should have gone to school to socialize and experience a proper love. This is filthy. It is wrong.
“Is something bothering you, Kiro?” Avender sits beside him with a face full of concern. “I want to know what’s wrong. If I’ve been acting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, I can stop.” The boy looks up at him and straight in the eyes. Those eyes leave no room for these useless games and beliefs. The fight crowding Kiro’s mind suddenly becomes clearer. He wants to make room for mistakes.
“Bringing me here is our mistake, Avender. Yours for asking me, mine for accepting. I’m not feeling okay because of what I’ve learned during my stay here. I’ve learned how to envy complete families, how the world should be lived with others, not by yourself. I want to know why this world chose you to talk to me. I want to get rid of these feelings that I have. They are bad… They can hurt me and I won’t be able to satisfy them. I’m so jealous of you and Lilith. I… That’s all.”
“You had something else to say.”
“I can’t say it. I won’t either.”
“You’re very young, you know.”
“I’ve said what I wanted to say. That was all that bothered me.”
“It would be impossible for y–”
“I know. I know… I can’t stay here any longer. Stop talking about it.”
“Just listen to what I have to say, Kiro.” The two are still face to face, focusing on each other’s eyes alone. Kiro begins to feel a numbness throughout his body. He is feeling regret.
“I can’t let you back out on the streets. I see where you’re coming from, and I’m sorry for making you feel this way. It was careless of me to do all of this. To introduce you into an unfamiliar scene that you’re unable to have for your own. I don’t want you to leave even if it’s for the best. You need a home and I want to raise you. I actually wanted to talk to you about it earlier, but I kept forgetting. I need to tell you something important: I want to take you in as a son. To try and enroll you in school, to give you a place to call home even if for a little while. Please stay.”
“I like you. I can’t stay.”
Kiro stands up and looks up at Avender’s pained face. The numbing regret is masked with a stained thought. That just maybe he has the upper hand in this situation. The thin boy bows his head slightly and makes his way out of the living room. At the hallway, he prepares to exit the house barefooted with only the sweatpants and t-shirt. It is for his own good, he believes. The place he wants to be in is occupied in Avender’s life. This selfish desire of his has to die.
“Don’t leave, Kiro,” Avender calls out, meeting once more with the boy at the hallway. “Even if you like me, just stay for your own good. Don’t go back outside. Not in the winter.”
“If I stay, who knows if I can control myself around you? It already hurts, so let me go.”
Kiro’s mind is entering a stage of panic. It wants Kiro to reveal the fangs he grew overnight. It wants him to utilize them. To hold onto Avender and squeeze until there is no fight left in him. But despite the demons picking at his brain, he knows that Kaname is a good person. One he does not want to disappoint. And so, Kiro must run out and leave behind the luxury of the life offered.
“Why are you doing this? What else is making you leave us?”
“I’m sorry, Avender. Goodbye.”
Kiro gives him a bittersweet smile and unlocks the main door. He exits quietly and runs down the steps and out into the winter morning air. His feet sting as he runs along the snowy trail to nowhere, breath expelled into the ice cold air. The weather hurts him, but he keeps going farther and farther away from Avender and the cozy townhome.
He stops after a long race and coughs as he tries to catch his breath. Strangers watch him from the distance; some simply look and leave, others stick around, eager to learn what may happen next to this strange boy. A last painful cough made him feel as if he had lost something. He crouches down and pants heavily, staring at the snow beneath him. In front of him were two small indentations on the snow. His fangs have fallen off.
His liking for Avender dies with every passing week back on the streets. Sometimes Kiro thinks he sees the man searching for him. Every black fur coat alarms him. That beautiful stranger who he met on that winter evening is too much for his heart to bear. He is too old. He has another. It is unfair for such an amazing individual to be taken by someone already. But it is for the best.
Kiro believes that the Kaname he did not meet will be proud of his accomplishment. He contained himself out of respect. That alone is enough for Kiro to continue his search for a permanent home. Kiro walks through Christmas Eve and morning. He drags his feet and cries out loud. The sense of regret is at its worst, imagining him in Avender and Lilith’s home spending the holiday with them.
Kiro walks towards a new place completely foreign to him just like all other settlements. He spots a rural town with big houses and lengthy pastures. It is much colder here, but he feels like this is the opportunity he has been waiting for. Across from him is a stranger about a foot taller than him, roaming the streets with a large jacket and purple earmuffs. His hair is a shaggy short brown, frosted with snowflakes.
He notices Kiro’s presence and turns to face him from far away. He’s young, Kiro says quietly in his mind. He’s so young. The cloudy night is still fresh. Why is this boy roaming the streets at this hour? He wants to step closer to him, but fights the temptation. It is the stranger who closes the distance and stares at Kiro in awe.
“Aren’t you cold?”
“Where’s your jacket? You’re not wearing any shoes…” The boy inspects Kiro and takes notice of the high school tee. “Do you go to that school? You’re far from home if that’s the case.”
“No. It was given to me. I don’t have a home.”
“Man… That has to suck. Do you need anything? We’re the only ones awake in this sleepy-ass town. I can get you stuff.”
“A place to sleep.” Kiro smiles and lets out a long sigh. His pinched red cheeks glow vibrantly on his frozen face. The boy nods and tells him to follow. Once again, he is following a wonderful stranger into a cozy place. The smallest house along the dirt road belongs to the boy’s parents.
“Don’t start thinking I’m a total creep or something… I’m sure any human with a decent brain would help you get out of the cold. It’s supposed to be bad early morning and you’re walking around in a T-shirt?! How do you even survive like this, holy crap.”
The stranger is hesitating to hand over his jacket, afraid of feeling the sharp winter air anywhere else but his face. He sees the goosebumps on Kiro’s skin as they pass through the soft light emanating from a streetlight. He cannot help but feel sorry and finally removes the jacket, tossing it toward Kiro. The boy almost misses the catch and quickly slides the garment on, feeling the warmth of the other teen. With the jacket off, the teen is only wearing a long sleeved band tee. He immediately curls up and curses quietly.
“Thank you so much, sir.”
“Well, shit, don’t call me sir. I’m probably the same age as you. What’s your name, anyway?” the boy asks as he walks over to the side of the house where an open window is located.
“My name is Kiro, and yours?”
“Dylan. Wanna help me real quick? I’m gonna boost you up onto the porch top, then you have to lift me up. Got it?”
He turns his back toward the house and cups his hands. Kiro is fascinated by this strange meeting. With Dylan’s help, he leaps onto the top and crawls his way to safety. Adjusting his stance, he reaches out to Dylan and receives his hand. It is extremely tough lifting the other boy up, but they manage it.
Kiro follows Dylan through the open window and is intrigued by what he sees. There are drawings pinned up on the walls, all of different sizes and colors. Most of the drawings are of different breeds of birds.
“Did you draw all of these?” Kiro whispers, taking a miniature tour of the room. There is a lot of materials and crafts lying around. It’s not an organized place, but it has its charm. Dylan is setting up a makeshift bed with some blankets and a pillow. He nods in response and points at his creation.
“This is the least I can do. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I don’t. Thank you very much.”
“Feel like staying up for a little bit more? I want to discuss payment for my services. My rare acts of chivalry are not cheap.” Dylan grabs a mechanical pencil from under his pillow and searches for an empty piece of paper on the floor near his bed. He finds a sketchbook instead and shrugs, opening and sliding his finger through the pages for an empty canvas. Kiro says he is tired, but can listen to him for now. He thanks him again for letting him in. Dylan nods and pumps out some lead from the pencil. “Let’s trade. How did you end up outside? And I’ll tell you what I was doing out there at this time.”
“Some time ago, a person similar to me had always talked about heading west. He wanted to try and find somebody. He didn’t give me any details. I feel like this is west… But I could be wrong.”
“From where I saw you, that’s definitely the town’s south. So you’re heading a bit too up for liking. I guess you really want to die from frostbite.”
“I don’t want to die.”
Kiro furrows his brows, glaring at an amused Dylan. The teen chews on the pencil’s eraser, snickering at his own thoughts.
“If you’re following a nutcase’s false sense of direction, then maybe you do! You’re just in denial.”
“What? He was not crazy. He was a kind person who merely took a step in the wrong direction.”
“Really? What was it? Drugs, alcohol? Maybe domestic abuse?”
Strokes of the pencil can be heard as Kiro takes a moment to think about the man from before. He was homeless, scruffy and hunched over like a strange elderly man. The man would rave about heading to the wild west, Kiro remembers him clearly. My paradise lives in the fruitful plains of the West! I’ll find it, I tell ya! I gotta travel there! The elderly man would yell while sitting on the sidewalk, back propped on a deserted building wall.
Kiro spent the night with him that autumn evening. In the morning, the man was in such a deep sleep, his chest did not rise even for a second. He must have been dreaming of his little paradise, wherever it may have been. Kiro tried to tell him goodbye, but the man never moved.
“How should I know? Everyone on the streets must have taken a wrong turn. Well, most people. I was left behind at a very early age. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Well, sucks to be one of them unintentionally.”
“What were you doing outside, Dylan?” Kiro asks while he slides his hair away from his face, trying to keep the thick bundle of strands behind his ears.
“Do you ever feel like getting kidnapped? Like maybe, someone can take you away from your average life and probably put you through hell, but it would be a totally different experience nonetheless?”
“I’m starting to question whether you’re sane or not.”
“Trust me, I’m too sane for my own good. Reality is a pain in the ass. But anyway, yeah. I thought it was a bright idea to stand outside hoping that someone in a van can pull up and kill me. Instead… I got you. Does that make me the kidnapper? I got myself quite the catch if that’s the case.”
He smiles widely to himself, erasing some markings on the paper with the bitten eraser. Kiro cocks his head to the side, feeling more confused than ever before. There is a sharp pinch that is felt across his forehead which alarms him. But after a while of not feeling it, he dismisses the strange feeling.
“I… Need to sleep now.”
“Roger that. Get some shuteye. I guess we can hang out in the morning. You definitely have the time to kill with me and school’s out for winter break.”
Dylan shuffles over to close the room window and goes to his bed, tossing the sketchbook across the room and into a pile of clothes. He mumbles goodnight and Kiro repeats. The smaller boy slides down to his makeshift bed and wraps himself up tight with the blankets. It is warm enough for him. This is a nice spot even if it is temporary.
Morning rises and so does Kiro. The red tint of his cheeks has faded away. When Kiro stands up, he notices that Dylan is not in his bed. He picks up the blankets and pillow and places them neatly on the mattress. He does not know where to go and does not know if he is allowed to sit on Dylan’s bed. Thus, he stands and waits. Shortly after, Dylan arrives with a pair of clothes and some supplies.
“Morning. Got you some stuff if you want to shower and do whatever you need to do. Use my bathroom. Going downstairs will be troublesome.”
He hands Kiro the bundle of goods and wanders off into the depths of the house. Dylan’s kindness is different than Avender’s. It is not warm at all. It leaves Kiro to wonder what exactly has he signed up for?
The morning is a remake of before. Only without the worrisome thoughts that had flooded his mind. He is back to his shining white self after a long journey of walking.
Suddenly, a problem arises.
Kiro forgot all about this unfortunate dilemma, something that has not come to mind until now. Staring back at him with a blinding presence is a creature far too foul peeking out from Lilith’s sweatpants. It is growling and barking hesitantly as if it is defenseless from Kiro’s disgusted glare. Those neon pink boyshorts. They cannot be here. What will Dylan say if he sees them? It is impossible to dispose of them now, Kiro believes.
He picks up the small stack of clothes, burying the underwear deep within the sweatpants leg and leaves the bathroom wearing a band t-shirt and shorts given to him by the teen who is outside, waiting for him.
“I’ll wash those for you. I gotta do laundry.”
“Um… Can I do them for you? I wouldn’t mind.”
“You’re not a housemaid, Kiro. I’ll take care of it. Not even Mom does my laundry.” He takes the clothes away from Kiro and tosses them inside a laundry hamper. The snow-white boy freezes up and turns red, hearing the pink underwear laugh and howl maniacally from inside the fort. Was there not a pair of another color in Lilith’s room? Dylan drags the bin away and closes the door behind him, leaving Kiro alone once more.
Tired of standing, he sits on the floor and waits. Wet strands of hair drip noisily over the quietness of the room. From the distance, he hears the washing machine whir to life. Then there is chatter. A motherly voice is heard loud and clear from where Kiro sits.
“Can you believe it’s going to be spring already, Dylan? Another year flew by. Have you picked a college yet? I’m here for you as I’ve said many times.”
She gets a reply, but it is inaudible. Kiro slowly exits the room and tiptoes down the hallway, stopping near a flight of stairs. He can see both of them now; the mother is dressed elegantly with white ribbons tied around her hair. She is smiling at her son.
“You’re doing a great job, Dylan. If you need help setting up the portfolio, feel free to ask me. Go around and ask your friends, too. It’s an important decision as an artist to present the art that will satisfy the audience.”
She pats Dylan’s back and walks away from him, her smile still sweet and light. Dylan stood still, perhaps reflecting on their conversation. He turns to go up the stairs but pauses upon spotting the spying Kiro above. He smiles at Kiro and then climbs the stairs.
“Sticking your nose around, girl? You can ask me anything you’d like. Or for anything like a pair of socks. Don’t walk around barefooted. The wood here has seen better days.”
A girl. Dylan thinks Kiro is a girl! So that is why he was taken under his care. What would have happened if Dylan knew he was a boy? He said he would answer any questions Kiro had. Hopefully it goes well.
“Can I ask you something now?” Kiro whispers, following Dylan back into his room.
“What if you met me last night and I was a boy, what would you do?
“Wow, starting strong I see. Well, if it were up to me I would have referred you to the town hall. They could’ve taken care of you there.”
“Why would you send boy me there?”
“Just because. I wouldn’t invite a random guy over to sleep at my place.”
“You looked like you were about to die, Kiro. It was cute, but you needed some help. Girls can’t roam the streets alone, ya know.”
Dylan picks up a sketchbook that was thrown on the floor and searches his cluttered desk for a pencil. He motions Kiro to go ahead and sit on the bed while he digs out a small chair from underneath a couple large stacks of paper.
“I would feel sorry for boy me.”
“I wouldn’t. A stranger is a stranger.”
“Unless they’re a girl?”
“Yes. What other questions do you have?”
Dylan begins to scribble on the sketchbook, constantly looking up at Kiro.
“What are you doing now?”
“Please elaborate for me.”
“That’s a demand, not a question.”
Dylan is irritating Kiro. He wants to stand up and yell out loud that he is a boy. He pouts and remains quiet as Dylan sketches, causing the artist to smirk. Kiro tries to turn around and lie down, but Dylan looks up and tells him to stay still.
“Are you drawing me?”
“You didn’t ask for my permission.”
“May I continue your portrait, Princess?”
He laughs and draws. Kiro blushes and shakes his head in response. He is not a princess. He feels as if he does not deserve the title and would prefer anything lower. A princess does not live on the streets. She lives in a luxurious castle with her mother and father, the King and Queen.
Dylan randomly throws his pencil away and shouts done, alarming the unsuspecting Kiro. When he faces the sketchbook at Kiro’s direction, the white-haired boy is surprised to see nothing like a portrait. It is a drawing of a dove.
“That’s not me,” Kiro comments.
“Yeah, it is. I can’t draw people, silly. I make up for that by drawing birds. Every bird here is a person I’ve drawn. Cool, right?”
“That is interesting. Any clue which ones are boys and which ones are girls?”
“You and your strange gender questions, Princess. Well… There’s no telling which one is which. Birds are androgynous at a distance. It’s not until you get real close you can discover what they really are… Are you by chance suggesting something here?” His expression changes like the movements of a pendulum bob in a grandfather clock; caring, careless, cocky, sweet, confused. He is colorful and colorless.
“Dylan, I’m a boy. I’m not a princess, not even a prince. I’m just a homeless kid who you picked up last night.”
Kiro could not help but smile at his reveal. It is amusing to watch Dylan’s jaw drop and eyes widen.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. You have to be joking.”
“I’m pretty male, Dylan.”
“Pretty male… A pretty male. What the fuck, dude!”
“Hey! You got it right.”
Dylan looks at the dove and looks back at Kiro. He’s completely awestruck. His reaction is better than what Kiro had anticipated which was something cruel and distasteful. He believes that just maybe he has a chance with this teen.
“I hope it doesn’t change anything. I’m sorry for looking like this.”
“Now you just made it sound sad. Gosh, don’t worry about it. That doesn’t explain the neon undies though.”
“Trust me… That should be left unexplained.”
“Nope, you have to tell me now that you ruined my front. Payback for making me think you were actually a girl. Shoot, you had girl clothes on!”
“I’m just a bit thin… I received those clothes I think a month ago now? It’s honestly hard to keep track of time. But the man had a daughter, so that was the best he could give me.”
“Wow, you really have to be careful walking around like that. You look bizarre. You stand out. But it’s a good kind. One that might get you into trouble though. Why do you have to be a guy? You might still be lying to me.” Dylan leans forward and squints at Kiro with a frown. “You’re pretty thin so it’s sort of possible to have a small chest… Do I really have to get a closer look at you?”
“My word alone should assure you that I’m a guy. I don’t think neither you nor I would appreciate stripping me down to look at my privates.”
“You’re easy to read, Kiro. Are you making it easy on purpose?”
“I’m being honest with you. Perhaps I need to be even clearer.”
“Who the hell are you? To be quite honest, I’m pretty impressed with you. You don’t come across such a clear person nowadays. …You want me to touch you. You want me, a stranger you’ve just met for not even half a day! That’s the vibe I’m getting from you. From those eyes. Like they’re hungry for something.”
Dylan is deep in thought, nodding his head while thinking on what exactly to do. Tension is rising in the bedroom. Kiro has the feeling that he is supposed to be happy and accomplished, but he only feels disappointment. Why couldn’t he talk to Avender in this way? Why did he turn down the chance to live with Avender and Lilith? Why was he the mystery child to them when Dylan caught on to him right away (despite the gender confusion of course)?
His disappointment seeps out onto his face; he wears a soft frown and tilts his head forward. Dylan is caught by surprise, wondering what exactly is going on with Kiro. He takes a moment and switches from the chair to the bed, sitting next to Kiro. The clock ticks.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Dylan says. Kiro looks at him in confusion. “It’s when you tell me what’s on your mind, and I’ll tell you what’s on mine.”
“I should have accepted the man’s proposal. He wanted to take me in as a son. I would’ve been able to go to school. I would’ve had a permanent home. I’m also thinking about how I spoke with you freely and never spoke to him that way. I want to change that, but it’s impossible. He had a significant other who I never met but respected. Isn’t that weird? How I can say these things out loud now yet I was never able to before? I feel extremely comfortable with you even though I’ve just met you. I know why… Because you’ve taken me into your life without hesitation. People like you and Avender hurt me with that kindness. That is only the surface of what I’m thinking, Dylan. It’s uncontrollable. So what about you? What are you thinking about?”
“Before I speak my mind, you are one strange kid. It’s beyond strange. It’s unbelievable. Where does this guy live? You said his name, but it flew right by me.”
“His name is Avender. He lives in a house. It’s a no-brainer.”
“No shit. An address? Directions to his house? Then again, why would it matter. Forget about it… What’s with that face? Cut it out.”
“I’ve heard that word before… The house is an address?”
“You talk so well I forget you’re a complete noob at modern life. An address is like… A written form of the house, yeah. You use it to locate where exactly a place is with a map or in the town in general. Every building has an address. Happy now?”
“No. Now tell me what you’re thinking about.”
“Damn. Well. I think your story makes a bit sense, but at the same time it sounds like bullshit. That’s all.”
“What? I don’t get it.”
“It’s bullshit. You’re probably some runaway kid who hates his parents and dyes his hair white to pretend he’s a vampire or something… Isn’t that what goth kids do these days?”
Kiro is taken back by the cruelty of Dylan’s spoken thoughts. They could not be real. He is probably making it all up. The clock ticks again. He is worse than Avender, Kiro concludes. He is not the person he thinks he is.
“My hair is not dyed. I get that a lot. If you choose to not believe me, then so be it. It’s not like I need you to believe me.” Kiro moves away from Dylan, spotting the dove drawing on the small chair. He picks it up and brings it close to his face.
“What the hell are you doing?” Dylan asks, leaning to the side. The slim boy is a force he has never dealt with before. Although it irritates him to see Kiro as clear as day in one instant and murky beyond belief in the next, he cannot help but feel content about the creature in front of him. It is too easy to upset Kiro and too easy to make him think a certain way.
“Your drawing is stupid.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. You literally liked the drawings when you came in for the first time. Can you lower the book down? It probably does look stupid that close to your face. Now hurry up and calm down if you want to hang out with me. We can go to the bowling alley and meet up with a few of my friends.” Kiro lowers the sketchbook down and asks what a bowling alley is, receiving a loud and pained groan from Dylan.
He does not explain what it is and instead scavenges through his closet for another winter coat and a pair of boots. He flings them across the room carelessly. One of the boots crashes into a stack of paper, knocking it over. Kiro retrieves the extra clothes and slips them on. The two exit through the window; Dylan leads and jumps off of the porch.
“Jump down. I’ll catch ya.” He steadies himself and waits for Kiro to jump. But he does not.
“Um. Any day now.”
“Why do you go out through the window instead of the door like a normal person?”
“Look who’s one to talk. If you get down, I’ll tell you.”
“You won’t do it. Answer me now.”
“I lost your trust that fast, didn’t I?”
“Who knows. Maybe you won’t catch me if I jump. Am I going to fall and injure myself or fall to my death?”
“I go through the window because I’m sort of grounded right now. I’m not supposed to be outside, so can you hurry up, Kiro? Trust me on this one. I can’t afford having to explain why a random guy decided to jump off of the porch top to Mom.” He prepares to catch him once again and successfully stops Kiro from landing on the ground.
“You are wicked light, dude.”