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Child's Play

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by John Silver, May 9, 2018.

  1. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    [​IMG]
    April 17th, Year 7
    @Eddie Kaspbrak


    Mornings were always the worst.
    There was something about mornings that just made them evil. But today's morning, John had found rather enjoyable in comparison.
    Of course, no matter how much he clung to Aaron and how many kisses he trailed down the other's neck, work was work and he couldn't keep the other from doing what he had to do.
    Getting up, however, had been way too much effort, so John had stayed in bed after Aaron's left for work, and even managed to doze off for a few more hours.
    Sleep was uneasy for him lately, and he valued any minute of it he could get, especially when that sleep was free of nightmares.
    No matter how warm and cozy the bed though, even John couldn'd laze around in bed all day. Or, at least, he knew he shouldn't. It was hard enough to force himself to do anything at all these days, staying in bed too long could have bad consequences for him, and John had no intention of turning into one of those people who were too heavily traumatized to even leave the house.

    It must have been around 10am when the former pirate forced himself out of bed with a quiet groan and tired unwillingness, needing a moment to remember he was at Aaron's and not at home. His parrot had enough food and entertainment to last for a few more hours though, so he had no reason to hurry.
    Aimlessly letting his hand wander along the surface of the nightstand, he suddenly remembered that he left his pills in the kitchen. Well, shit. There was a kid in the house. Jesus was probably up already, and had hopefully prevented any accidents from happening.
    John had no idea what that medication could do to a child, frankly. He wasn't even sure what exactly it did to him - The medications prescribed for treating PTSD symptoms broadly act upon neurotransmitters affecting the fear and anxiety circuitry of the brain he remembered reading in one of the flyers that had been provided.
    Few of those words meant anything to him though - but they helped. They didn't make the flashbacks and nightmares go away, but they reduced them, and a good night's sleep was not impossible any longer.
    As harmless as they appeared in their little orange box, John didn't need to be a doctor to understand that such things should rather be kept out of children's reach.

    Cursing under his breath, he fastened the prosthesis with its usual spark of pain and taste of bitterness at the back of his throat, and grabbed the first pair of (Aaron's) sweatpants he could get his hands on.
    His own loose, black tanktop he managed to find, however. He ran a thumb along the two small-ish, black-inked tattoos upon his right arm he spotted in the mirror on the way to the bedroom door - the dim light also caught upon the scarred injection marks upon his left forearm though, and John turned away before he had a chance to look any closer.

    The prosthesis made an almost hollow sound against the floorboards compared to the much softer sound of his bare foot. The sweatpants sat low on his hips and reached the floor to his feet - Aaron was, after all, a few inches taller than him.
    But they were all the cozier for it, and John managed to not stumble over them, too.
    In passing, he switched on the radio, not changing the channel though (it wasn't his radio after all, he wouldn't want to mess with it), and the music was nice enough as it was. He let it run quietly in the back while crossing the last distance to the kitchen.
    Breakfast hot chocolate sounded amazing right about now.
    Just that he'd never make it to the kitchen counter.

    There was his little orange box of pills, standing right on the table.
    And there was Eddie - right at same table.
    Fuck
    John kept the inner curse words to himself - though he did, sort of, freeze at the door for a moment. God, were there any hickies along his neck or collarbones? He hadn't fucking checked.
    Regardless, he stepped into the kitchen, the sound of his steps irregular and dissimilar against the floor but he was well used to it.
    This was just a child, after all. And it was about time they got to know each other properly, after all.

    John put on a kind smile, snatching the box of pills from the table and shoving them in the pocket of the sweatpants he's borrowed. He'd have to sneak out to take them - all things considered he didn't like the thought of taking them in front of the boy.
    "Morning, Eddie. You're up early."

    Alright, it was like 10 - maybe past 10 already, John hadn't really bothered to check, but for a kid on a weekend that was considerably early surely.

     
  2. There wasn’t a whole lot to do around Pandora. Well, there was, but most of it required leaving the barriers or traipsing across Misty Hollow and there were just some days when Eddie was not feeling up to it. He’d woken up, taken one look outside, felt anxiety slither around his chest and decided that he was going to stay in today. Not that he had plans – most of his plans were just following Dustin around and trying desperately to ignore the fact that there were countless numbers of scary things outside the barrier that were just waiting for a snack.

    Of course, the house wasn’t free of anxiety-causing things either. It’d been almost a week since there’d been some sort of fight at a cabin down the road, resulting in Jesus being stabbed. Sometimes Jesus was weird and annoying, but Eddie liked him and he didn’t want him to die, so he’d spent the past six days trying not to flinch every time Jesus so much as winced, like his stitches might be about to break open and he’d bleed out all over the floor.

    Or something.

    But this morning when he’d gotten up Jesus wasn’t around – or maybe he was with the chickens, honestly Eddie wanted nothing to do with those things and usually avoided even glancing in the backyard just in case one was staring at him – so he’d wandered into the kitchen in his pajamas and got some cereal out of the cupboard (he’d had to climb on top of the counter – which he hated because it wasn’t safe and he really didn’t want to break his arm again) – and then settled down with a bowl and some milk. He poured it in, and spooned some up, only to freeze with the spoon halfway to his mouth when someone came into the kitchen.

    John.

    Aaron’s friend.

    He blinked, a little wide-eyed (though that quickly turned to a narrowed eyed look of suspicion) as he watched him grab a bottle of pills Eddie hadn’t even noticed sitting there. He had his own pill bottle somewhere – although he didn’t really need them as much anymore, or at least, he tried not to. He knew he’d been taking gazebos back home and he didn’t need them, but sometimes he thought he did and telling himself the tightness in his chest was only imaginary never really seemed to work very well.

    “It’s ten-thirty,” he said. looking suspicious and judgmental from behind his bowl of cereal. He didn’t know John really well and he wasn’t overly thrilled with the idea of being alone with him in the kitchen but he was pretty sure Aaron wouldn’t be friends with a murderer. ​
     
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  3. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    Usually, kids liked him.
    He had that open, easy way of approaching them, and he genuinely liked being around kids, too. Otherwise he surely wouldn't have worked at the orphanage before the whole drug thing happened.
    But usually the kids he's had to do with had been fairly average.
    Poor, yes, and lonely, and sometimes starved. With dead parents or abusive relatives or a generally harsh world having shaped them in such young years already - but they had rarely been...peculiar.
    That was different with Eddie.
    There was nothing John considered to be better or worse about it - it simply made it harder to appoach the boy in any way, or even make friends with him.
    Yet, John wasn't prone to shy away from a challenge.

    Turning towards one of the shelves, he fumbled out a pack of instant latte and poured himself a mug but instead of joining the boy at the table, he leaned against the kitchen counter and stayed at a distance for now - baby steps. He wouldn't want to scare the boy away.
    It's ten-thirty
    Was the not-even-remotely-amused response, and John looked up towards the clock as if to double check, before a soft laugh escaped him.
    "Fair point. I guess now you know that I am not much of a morning person."


    Taking a sip from his coffee, he watched the boy and his cereal for a moment, before an idea came to him - perhaps not the best of ideas, seeing how the whole thing had went last time he's had that idea. Not that bad ideas had ever truly prevented him from following up on them anyway, of course.
    And Eddie didn't need to know what's happened last time, right?
    Who could say it wouldn't go perfectly fine this rime round?
    "Hey, would you like some pancakes? I could make us some."

    Everyone liked pancakes after all, right?

     
  4. Eddie just pinned him with a narrow-eyed stare, suspicious. Why was he here so ‘early’ when Aaron wasn’t? Was he supposed to be baby-sitting him? Eddie didn’t like the idea of that. He was thirteen and could take care of himself just fine, and it wasn’t like he was going to leave the house or anything. Most of the time, unless he was going to meet Dustin, he preferred to stay inside and not chance any of the creepy things outside.

    He put the spoon back in the bowl, not at ease enough to start eating his cereal (and great, now it was going to be all soggy when John was just standing there, watching him. He briefly considered going back up to his room and reading or something, but then John said something about pancakes and the indecision was written plain on Eddie’s face.

    He liked pancakes, but he wasn’t sure about John. His cereal was going to be gross and soggy anyway, so it was practically ruined – but. Did he want to sit here in the kitchen with John eating pancakes?

    His stomach growled and the narrow-eyed considering look on his face cleared a bit, not exactly enthusiastic but no longer looking as if he was considering just up and leaving the room.

    “Do you know how to make pancakes?” he asked. ​
     
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  5. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    No matter how complicated or different kids were, sometimes it was as easy as pancakes to catch their genuine attention.
    At least it seemed enough to catch Eddie's attention - and that was all John had wanted to achieve, really. It was a good start. A better start than it could have been, and he'd take that.
    Even though there was a look of hesitant indecision on the boy's face for a moment, Silver was fairly certain the kid had already long since made up his mind, and was merely struggling with the circumstances which involved those pancakes, rather than the thought of pancakes itself.

    "I sure do. What about you? Think you could help me?"

    Call it luck or fate or coincidence, but pancakes were actually one of the two things John was genuinely capable of creating in the kitchen - the other one were scrambled eggs.
    In fact, his pancakes were pretty decent, more than simply acceptably edible, and that sure was convenient because really - just how awful would it have been if he would wind up setting something on fire in front of the boy? Eddie would never exchange a single word with him again, nor let him close at all, probably. And that was the exact opposite of what John wanted to achieve.

    He knew, it wasn't his task to become the boy's best friend. But he wanted to make sure he and Eddie got along well enough. It only seemed faired towards Aaron, who really cared about the kid. John wouldn't want to ruin this, nor would he want to make Aaron's life harder for being someone Eddie couldn't stand.
    Sure, yes, it was mainly Aaron he was attempting this for - but it was also partly genuine curiosity. As mentioned, John liked kids. And Eddie was not alike any kid he's ever met, of course he was curious to get to know the boy a tad better.
    Hopefully he'd get the chance to do so.

     
  6. “Pancakes aren’t that hard to make,” Eddie said with a frown, even as he stood up to cautiously make his way over toward John. He wasn’t sure what he could possibly need help with - did he not know how to crack an egg (which Eddie would refuse to do, he was not getting salmonella) or use the stove?

    He peered up at him, eyes slightly narrowed, but at least he wasn’t outright refusing or demanding that John get out of his kitchen.

    However, Eddie felt about being in Pandora, he really did owe Aaron for saving him from the middle of the forest and allowing him to stay in his home. So, if Aaron’s friend wanted to make pancakes with him? Well, then the very least Eddie could do was eat pancakes.

    He stopped a careful distance away, still eyeing him warily, dark eyes only just now losing a bit of suspicion.
     
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  7. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    This whole matter had been much easier at the orphanage.
    Most kids had eagerly wanted to help, get involved in whatever way possible. Anytime John's tried to actually do some work, he's wound up surrounded by kids tugging at his sleeve and begging to help him, just to do something with him at all. And John had close to always found a way to say yes.
    Perhaps he had a weak spot for children - oprhaned ones especially. After all he knew what that was like, what a lonely, awful place it could be.

    But Eddie was different, and it didn't take a genius to realize that the boy was clearly mistrustful of John. But he wasn't going to judge him - after all, Silver knew close to nothing about Eddie and what had happened to him, why the boy was the way he was, and how the world had been to him.
    All he could do, really, was try his best and be patient.

    "No, they're not. At least not when you know how to make them. Would you mind getting a bowl and the flour?"

    John downed the remains in his mug and placed the empty one in the sink, before heading for the fridge to get out eggs and milk.
    He placed both on the counter and then got on his tiptoes to reach for the cupboard he knew held the sugar.

    "How do you like living at Aaron's and Jesus'?"

    John tried himself on casual conversation which would still, somehow, allow him some kind of insight into whatever Eddie was thinking.
    He had a feeling it wouldn't be an easy task at all, but he could at least try, right?

    Surprisingly skillfully he broke up the eggs first, looking over towards Eddie to make sure the boy was doing alright, and hadn't dropped the flour and slipped on it or something - one never knew, right?

     
  8. Eddie still didn’t get why the man needed help, but it seemed he wasn’t going to get pancakes if he didn’t lend a hand and by now his stomach was growling. So, with a faint frown, he padded toward the cupboard where they kept the mixing bowls – he didn’t do much cooking but he was observant – and then moved toward where he thought the flour was. He glanced over toward John, and the tiniest of smirks lifted the corner of his mouth.

    Maybe a tiny part of him felt a little better watching John reach up on his tiptoes to get something – Eddie had been hoping he’d go through a growth spurt since fifth grade and it’d yet to happen.

    He looked back toward the cupboard where he’d been looking for flour and finally found it, dragging it out and trying to balance it and the mixing bowl at the same time. He ended up having to put the mixing bowl on the floor and set the bag of flour inside it so he could pick it up, and then he paused again when he was interrupted by John’s question. He hadn’t exactly wanted to talk to him – making pancakes was one thing but small talk was another, but he could hardly see him giving him any pancakes if he gave him the cold shoulder.

    So, he was quiet for a moment or two more and then sighed, his lips pressed together as he brought the bowl over and thrust it onto the counter.

    “It’s alright,” he said. It hardly revealed much, but – well, Eddie’s feelings were complicated. Aaron and Jesus had been nothing but nice to him and he liked them, he really did, but he missed his home. He missed his friends and that never really went away. ‘

    He even missed his mom.
     
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  9. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    The answer didn't immediately follow, and in the few silent moments that passed, the requested bowl was almost violently placed upon the counter next to him - John didn't need to look at the boy to realize that clearly, Eddie had zero interest talking to him.
    Which was, frankly, a little disappointing.

    It's alright
    Was eventually the unimpressive response given and John frowned lightly, mumbling a thank you as he pulled the bowl closer to him and started working on the batter.
    Alright was not good. Not even close. And it left John wondering whether Eddie perhaps didn't like it here at all - but then he realized that this probably wasn't it whatsoever.
    Yes, Eddie was an orphan here, but back in his world he possibly hadn't been. Surely, he missed his parents, his friends, his home.
    Something John couldn't possibly sympathize with. He didn't know what that was like.

    For a few minutes he allowed silence to fall between them, assuming Eddie was more comfortable with that anyway.
    While mixing the batter he hummed the chorus of Mr. Brightside by The Killers to himself, and though he didn't bother actually singing it, there was fairly no arguing that he had a pretty nice voice regardless.
    But while the kid seemed to prefer silence, John was uncomfortable with it, and he couldn't upkeep it for too long.
    So by the time the dough was done and the pan warming up on the cooker, the former sailor couldn't get himself to continue biting his tongue.

    "You must miss your parents."

    Was his half-hearted attempt, pouring the first future-pancake onto the pan and spreading it out evenly.
    But lingering on negative topics was not the best idea for a pancake-making morning, surely, so instead he leaned his hip against the counter and turned towards Eddie, smiling at the boy softly.

    "Would you like to try flip it?"

    He nodded towards the pancake on the pan, remembering with what ease and skill Aaron always flipped his pancakes. John was not master of such skill, he used the boring spatula instead.
    He wasn't urging Eddie - would the boy say no, John would accept it. But he thought he might as well ask - asking didn't harm after all.

     
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  10. Eddie was perfectly content to watch John as he mixed the batter and hummed along to some song he’d never heard before (even if his gaze still had the faintest traces of suspicion lingering within). He didn’t really get why they had to have a conversation – why it would matter if Aaron’s friend got along with him or not. Grownups, for the most part, Eddie had found, were better off just not messing around with.

    The question caught him off-guard, his eyes widening a bit as his fingers curled into fists around the hem of his shirt. “It was just me and my mom,” Eddie said, although he didn’t sound as wistful as a boy who was talking about a mother who he’d been separated should probably sound. It was....just a fact. He loved his mom but she’d also been lying to him basically his entire life. She made him think that he was sick – and that idea had become so engrained within him that even now he knew those pills were gazebos, he’d still find himself fighting off ‘asthma’ attacks.

    He squinted at the man’s smile, and at the offer of flipping a pancake. He honestly couldn’t see that going very well at all and shook his head. “No, you should do it,” he said. He didn’t want to be the one kid who got third-degree burns trying to flip pancake batter.
     
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  11. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    Sure, John was an optimist. For him, the best outcome would be to actually somehow make friends with Eddie.
    However, he was aware that was by far not the only possible outcome to this.
    It was, in fact, he had a creeping feeling, the last likely one.

    To John getting along with people he'd have much to do with was an essential part of how to survive. The more people you got along with, the more people liked you, the less they were likely to backstab you. That was, kind of, his logic.
    It was true that he's never been a team player, not until he's stumbled into the Walrus crew, but one didn't need to be a team player to be friendly with those who could make one's life hard otherwise.
    John liked kids, but he also knew that kids could be cruel when they thought their existence or possessions were being threatened. He wanted to avoid any possibility of Eddie seeing him as a threat, as someone who was trying to take Aaron from him - because that was not what John was trying to do.
    Perhaps it was a little paranoid to assume that Eddie would think this way. But, on the other hand, who could blame him?
    Experiences left their patterns on one's behavior, after all.

    It was just me and my mom
    Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the tension that took hold of the boy at the mention of that topic. And John didn't want to push for it, but he was curious, and he did want to keep the conversation going. Eddie had actually answered, so maybe that wasn't too bad a sign, even if it seemed like he didn't have much warm feelings over for his mother.

    "What was she like? I never knew my mother, or father, for that matter. When I was younger I used to wonder what it was like to have parents."

    He accepted the boy's refusal to flip the pancake without complaint, deciding that the boy was probably just afraid, and would perhaps need time to stop being afraid of everything, and flipped the pancake himself. It worked out surprisingly well - luckily Aaron had taught him how to do that.
    Meanwhile, John's words had sounded not an ounce bitter when he spoke of the absence of any parents in his childhood.
    There was no deeply rooted pain in his words, and no regret. He spoke as easy and unbothered as he had all this time before, and it was impossible to tell whether or not he was merely pretending he had no hard feelings about his childhood's situation.

    "Do you miss her?"

    He added after a moment, a little thoughtfully, the hint of a frown on his forehead and stormy blue eyes watching the pancake but not quite seeming to look at it but rather right through it.
    Whatever was going through the sailor's mind in that moment, Eddie would not get to hear it.

     
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  12. Eddie squinted at the question, mouth twisting into a confused frown. How was he supposed to describe her? He didn’t exactly have any other mother to compare her to – although he knew that Bill’s parents didn’t tell him a bunch of crap about gazebos and made him think he was sick his entire life. Neither did Richie’s come to think of it. He eyed John, one hand reaching out to hold onto the knob of a drawer, more to have something to do with his hand than any intention to retrieve anything from it.

    “She told me I was sick growing up,” he admitted, although he wasn’t sure why he was sharing it with John. Maybe because he hadn’t shared it before – not with Aaron, or Jesus. “I wasn’t, it was just bullshit, they gave me gazebos but I was fine. I think.” He frowned, looking discomfited, like he thought John might have somehow compelled him to share. He twisted his fingers around the drawer handle, digging his thumbnail into the wood. He hoped he didn’t get a splinter.

    He didn’t tell him that sometimes he still felt like he couldn’t breathe, and he’d find himself reaching for an inhaler that wasn’t there. Or his pills. Sometimes he woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night and thought he was drowning. Sure, he’d never drowned himself, but he had a very good imagination when it came to ailments and injuries and could easily conjure it up.

    Sometimes he wondered if he might have been better off growing up with no parents, but it didn’t seem like John had liked that too much. Sure, he didn’t sound bothered, but no one could like growing up without a parent, right? Just think of all the germs festering in an orphanage.

    Eddie repressed a shudder.

    He flinched slightly at the question, wide-eyes turning back to the man. Did he miss her? “She’s my mom...” he said, and he wasn’t sure if that was an answer but that was the only thing he could think of. ​
     
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  13. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    Reaching for a big plate from one of the cupboards, John placed it next to him on the counter, beginning to pile pancake after pancake upon it while they chatted away - well... chatting was too strong a word, surely.
    She told me I was sick growing up
    The sailor frowned lightly into the pan where a fresh pancake had taken its place.
    There wasn't much he knew about parenting and how it was supposed to go - after all, he's never experienced it himself. But Eddie's little insight of information didn't strike him as a healthy way to live as a family.

    Human psychology was such a fragile thing, so easy to manipulate and influence. John would know. After all, he's used it to his advantage enough times.
    Thus, it didn't take him hard thinking to understand that Eddie was most likely still affected by whatever his mother had convinced him he's hand. Such things didn't fade away easily, even when one thought to know better.
    And when Eddie avoided a proper answer with his vague She's my mom..., instead, John realized that the entire situation was complex beyond word, not easy to grasp, and not easy to process and live with. Especially for a child.

    For a moment, John was silent, flipping the pancake and watching it fizzle away happily.
    "I lost half a leg in the world I've come from. It's several months back now, and I like to think I've come to terms with it. But there are still countless moments when I just... forget that it's gone. Often I can even feel it, as if it were still there, even though I know it isn't."

    He wasn't certain what he was trying to achieve, or why he was sharing at all. Perhaps he felt obliged to, to some extent, or at least wanted to return the favor, seeing as Eddie had shared a part of his past with him.
    Or maybe John was just making a fool of himself now, though he hoped that wouldn't be the case.

    With a light frown, he placed the pancake atop the slowly growing pile on the plate.
    "What I'm saying is - I understand that habit is not easily shaken off, and that something one was used to and believed in, doesn't just fade away when it proves to be untrue."

    Another pancake was slowly spreading itself out on the hot pan's surface, its liquid form steadily taking on a more solid shape.
    "I think it's brave of you to accept the truth and attempt to live with it. Not many a man are capable of that, and I think you can be proud of yourself."

    The words eased into something warmer, and when John looked at the boy again, he was smiling at him encouragingly, honestly.

    Perhaps the way he was speaking to the boy was much too adult-like, and the words too long and serious, but he had a hunch that Eddie was more grown-up than his age would make one think.
    John assumed, that it had been a way for Eddie's mother to keep him close. Perhaps, whatever had happened to his father, had affected her heavily, and this had been her reaction, her way to handle it.
    But the reason was irrelevant, because it didn't change the outcome, and John decided there was no need to speak of it or make his guesses.

    Switching off the stove, he let the last pancake bake through with the still available heat, before placing it atop the pile as well and carrying the plate over to the table.
    It was pancake time.

     
  14. Eddie blinked, obviously started at the statement, wide gaze darting toward John’s legs. The idea of someone missing a limb creeped him out, although he guessed it was better than someone having leprosy or losing a limb right in front of him. He frowned, fingers curling a little harder around the edge of the counter, not sure what he was supposed to say to that except ‘I don’t want to see your stump’. But John wasn’t offering to show him, so he figured he was safe.

    For now.

    His head titled slightly as he took in John’s words. He’d never felt particularly brave, much less when it came to dealing with the illness he wasn’t supposed to have because they weren’t real. They felt real enough. He gave a tiny little shrug, although the corner of his mouth did give a silght attempt to lift upward in response to the smile that John sent his way.

    He was....nice.

    Eddie knew he was friends with Aaron, and so far Aaron had never introduced him to anyone too scary, even that guy who brought dead animals over and Eddie tried at all costs to avoid. So, for Aaron’s sake, he guessed he could give John the benefit of the doubt. And eat his pancakes.

    He hesitated for a moment before following John over to the table, beginning to sit down before he paused.

    “Did you want syrup?” he asked.
     
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  15. John Silver

    John Silver Black Sails
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    The way Eddie's eyes skipped towards his leg was not something John took notice of - too busy with the pancakes, and perhaps for the better so.
    He might have wound up regretting having said anything about it at all, might have thought Eddie'd rather not have heard it.

    What he did take notice of was the mere hint of something that could yet become a smile being returned in response to his own smile, and there was a spark of something like relief alongside satisfaction with himself over how this had turned out; this was the first time he's seen anything close to a smile on the boy, especially towards him, and John decided that this meant progress. No matter how small - he was on the right path, and that was all that mattered.

    Did you want syrup?
    Suddenly, all of this felt... nicer, lighter. Almost like something he's done many times before.
    "I'd love some, thanks."

    Like he had a right to be here, in this kitchen, sharing pancakes with a child who was technically his boyfriend's. The whole matter was so ridiculous, so out of this world for John, not like anything he's ever experienced before, and it felt good to be able to take a seat at the kitchen table and not feel like he was fucking it up.

    This was much scarier than any battle he's ever fought and any tempest he's ever survived.
    But this, too, he'd make it through.
    He was certain of it now.
    Any maybe, someday, way down the road, Eddie would even come to genuinelly like him.


    The End