Who: Scotty + Gabriel What: Their first IRL meeting~ Where: Chopp Hall When: Saturday afternoon Rating: SFW
Dalton Academy was everything Gabriel had expected it to be. Every wrought iron railing, every redbrick building, every perfectly landscaped path screamed of old money and privilege. The tall fence surrounding the campus gave another clear message: you were either In or Out.
Uncle Arthur had given Gabriel the grand tour, pointing out his office and classroom with pride. Gabriel had wandered along beside him with a disinterested look on his face, coolly ignoring the way the other boys would stare at him, his chin held up, lips turned down in a small frown of distaste. What did they matter?
Eventually, finally, Uncle Arthur left Gabriel’s side, allowing him to explore the campus on his own (and to meet the other boys without a teacher standing over his shoulder). “Call me if you tire of exploring,” he had told Gabriel. “Otherwise, I’ll call you around five so we can meet up again and perhaps go out for some dinner.”
Gabriel didn’t tell the old man that he had no desire to meet the other boys. He had simply turned and walked off down the hall, eventually working his way to the basement of Chopp Residence Hall, checking out what was behind each door. And this was the laundry room...
Scotty had learned rather early in life how to do his own laundry. Neither of his foster parents had wanted to do his laundry. They called it instilling independence at a young age, Scotty thought of it more as what it was: they just didn’t want to do more than they had to for him. So when he came to Dalton, one of the first places he had explored on his own had been the laundry room. Quiet save for the machines and empty of people, the laundry room had quickly become one of Scotty’s favorite places at Dalton.
After lunch Scotty had made his way down to the laundry room to wash his clothes. Since he didn’t particularly mind being alone (it was actually a relief after a week of being in a new environment with entirely new people) Scotty had stayed in the room, sitting cross-legged on a chair and leaning against the table so he could rest his head on the crook of his arm and draw with the other.
This would be how Gabriel would find him, looking as though he had fallen asleep in the warm room were it not for his pencil dancing across the page. Due to the rumbling of the washer Scotty didn’t hear the footsteps approaching and so remained unaware of Gabriel’s presence.
Gabriel stepped into the laundry room, letting the door swing shut behind him as he looked around. Six washers and six dryers, with the instructions on how to operate them plastered all around the room in bold print on big signs. “Safer to assume everyone’s an idiot,” Gabriel muttered, tapping one of the signs with a finger.
There was a boy in the room. Gabriel barely kept from jumping when he noticed he wasn’t alone. The other boy had been sitting off to his left, so he hadn’t seen him when he first came in. He looked asleep though. No... was he writing something?
Whereas the footsteps had been muted, Scotty heard the quiet mutter. Sharply he looked up, quickly flipping shut his notebook as he did so. His foster father had tried to get Scotty to stop drawing but only made Scotty wary of letting people catch him doing it. This boy was unfamiliar and so Scotty felt even more like he needed to hide the evidence.
But- wait. That blond hair and those cheek bones- could it be?
“Gabriel?” Scotty asked softly, his brow furrowed. He had to be mistaken. What would Gabriel be doing here? He had said he wouldn’t be arriving until the new semester began. But this boy looked exactly like the one in Gabriel’s icon.
Gabriel cocked his head to the side at his name, frowning a little. This boy looked familiar... but he was so small! “Scott?” Well. Of all the people to actually meet at Dalton, Gabriel actually had the good fortune to run across the one who (for some unknown reason) constantly wanted to talk to him.
“Um, hello,” he said, wondering if he should stand or invite Gabriel over to sit with him. His clothes still needed to be in the wash for another five minutes. He decided against both and instead said, “I didn’t know you were coming. Did... um, I mean, of course you did, but um... I mean, did you know you... when did you find out you were coming today?”
Gabriel probably thought he was such an idiot already. This was why he hadn’t had friends before. How Aaron and Xander could stand him was a mystery.
“My uncle thought it would be good for me to meet my roommate before I moved in with him,” Gabriel said, not answering the question. Uncle Arthur had invited him up two days ago, and Gabriel hadn’t told Scott because he was confused by the other boy. No one had ever taken the time to talk to him as much as Scott had without some sort of malicious intent. Gabriel now felt a twinge of some foreign emotion as he looked at the other boy. No way was Scott any sort of threat. Gabriel could overpower him with both arms tied behind his back.
Then again, that’s what most people thought about Gabriel, unaware of the core of solid muscle he had hidden beneath his loose-fitting jeans and thick turtleneck. Maybe only one arm tied.
“Oh,” Scotty said. “Have you met him then?”
Gabriel was lucky that he would get to meet Rome beforehand. It would save him a lot of anxiety. God knows how much more relaxed Scotty would have been if he had known that Mocchi wasn’t much of a threat. A physical one, anyway. After what had happened on Wednesday Scotty had... well, avoided was a polite way of putting it. Even though Mocchi had bought Scotty clothes, he had somehow known that Scotty had been- Well, he didn’t know for sure. Scotty hadn’t confirmed anything.
“Yes,” Gabriel answered, slipping his hands into his pockets for a lack of anything better to do with them. “He seems...” There wasn’t really a good word to describe Roman Alexander. “Excited enough, I suppose.”
Scotty opened his mouth to answer just as the time on his machine ran out. Scotty looked towards it and then back at Gabriel, biting his lip for a moment before standing. He didn’t have many clothes in the wash and so he gathered them in one armful and brought them to the dryer. As he fiddled with it he abruptly realized he had left his notebook on the table.
Scott really was tiny. Gabriel shifted from one foot to the other before stepping over to the table, looking down at what Scott had been working on when he came in. “You draw?”
He turned, looking not at Gabriel but rather at his notebook. His notebook that was being opened and flipped through. Quickly Scotty walked over and shut it.
“I’m sorry,” he said. Now that he was so close to Gabriel, he realized the other boy was much taller. Nervously he took a step back, cradling his notebook to his chest. “We, um, would you... would you like to do something? Um, maybe that movie? If you have the time I mean! We don’t have to otherwise!”
Ah, so the notebook was something sensitive. Gabriel made a mental note of that, looking down at the smaller boy. “I suppose we could. Uncle Arthur is expecting me to amuse myself until five anyway...”
“We can do something else if you want!” Scotty said quickly. “I’m sorry! The movie was just the first thing I thought of!”
He would need to leave Gabriel alone anyway once his clothes finished drying. Unless Gabriel came with when Scotty fetched his laundry.
Gabriel raised an eyebrow, cocking his head to the side. “You really do write as you speak. Why are you apologizing?”
“I’m sorry!” Scotty immediately said. “I just sort of forced that idea on you! Really, we can do something else! Um, is there any place you wanted to look? I mean, I don’t really know my way around here, but we could maybe explore together? If you wanted?”
The last question was said weakly, softer than before.
“The more you apologize,” Gabriel pointed out, “the less meaning the word has. But honestly, I have nothing to do for the next few hours. A movie would be perfectly acceptable.”
Scotty rose his sweatshirt string to his mouth and chewed on it nervously, giving a silent nod and motioning for Gabriel to follow him.
“I think we can watch it in my room. Um, unless Mocchi is listening to music. But we can always watch it somewhere else,” he said.
Small and nervous and shy. Gabriel followed Scott silently, his eyes focused on the other boy. Scott looked and acted just like he typed, like someone trying to hide from the world. Gabriel couldn’t help but wonder what could have triggered such an extreme submissiveness in someone his age. Scott had insisted he hadn’t been molested, so physical abuse was the next option. He had left that chat when Mocchi started talking about his abusive father...
The string remained in Scotty’s mouth as he led the way from the basement to the third floor. He still said nothing as he led the way into his room. As he put the notebook down on his desk Scotty exchanged it for the DVD case instead.
“Do you still want to watch it?” he asked. “I can ask Aaron if we could maybe borrow one of his if you want.”
Rather than attempt to convince Scott with words, Gabriel simply took the DVD case from Scott’s hand and looked around for the tv. Once he found that, it was simple work to turn the DVD player on and insert the disc. “You certainly could use some lessons in being assertive.”
Scotty wasn’t sure exactly what to say in response to that and so he said nothing about it. Instead he grabbed his notebook again.
“You can, um, sit on my bed if you want,” Scotty offered. He made no move to sit down himself however; where Gabriel sat would determine where Scotty would go.
“Which bed is yours?” Gabriel asked, looking first at the beds, then around the room. There was an ornate bird cage taking up most of the free space, and much of what he saw looked too fancy and Japanese to belong to Scott. He stepped over to the cage, touching his fingers to the bars and looking at the canary inside. “Your roommate is a Warbler?”
Scotty followed Gabriel with his eyes and nodded despite Gabe not looking in his direction. Finally he allowed the string of his sweatshirt to drop out of his mouth.
“Um, yes he is. His name is Mocchi,” Scotty said. “Are you a fan of the Warblers?”
Ever since Scotty had gotten to see them with his parents, he had considered himself a huge fan. Even if it had only been one performance that he had seen.
“I’ve never seen a show,” Gabriel replied, watching the bird. “My uncle is nominally in charge, though. He has all the rest of these canaries at his house. They’re quite loud.”
“Maybe we could go to one!” Scotty exclaimed. He had been dying to see one of the shows; the Warblers were yet another reason why Scotty had been looking forward to Dalton. Even if it hadn’t been the main reason, unfortunately. Of course, his excitement died down when he realized he had yet again forced an idea on Gabriel. Quickly he amended it with, “Um, that is, if you wouldn’t mind going with me.”
That was assertive, right?
Gabriel looked over his shoulder at Scott, his expression neutral. This boy was absolutely unbelievable. And he made Gabriel almost want to smile. Gabriel never smiled. Not an unsarcastic one, at least. “Perhaps,” he said, not wanting to be swept up by Scott’s sudden enthusiasm (though with how fast it died, he didn’t think he had anything to worry about). “Let’s just start with a movie, shall we?”
“Yeah,” Scotty said, his cheeks reddening quickly from his embarrassment. “Um, sit wherever you want.”
His fingers dug into the spiral of his notebook as he watched for where Gabriel was going to sit.
One of the beds in the room was piled high with panda pillows. Gabriel counted them automatically, his blood running cold when he reached six. Six panda bears, their glassy eyes staring at him. “Here is fine,” he said quickly, moving to the other bed and sitting on the edge. After a moment, he drew his legs up, curling his fingers around his ankles as he sat cross-legged, keeping the bears in the corner of his eye.
After a long moment of hesitation once he started the movie, Scotty sat on the bed with Gabriel, though he was sure to keep his distance. Unlike Gabriel, Scotty didn’t sit with his legs drawn up but rather crossed, his notebook resting against them. Gabriel’s pose was how Scotty usually liked to sit but he decided against it for today. It would look weird if they both sat like that, and Scotty didn’t want Gabriel to think he was weird. Weird meant Gabriel would get suspicious. Scotty didn’t need any more of that.
Scott was sitting to Gabe’s right, and the bears were to his left, making it difficult to watch both at once. Six panda bears were not going to kill him, though. It was just a silly superstition in his head. He repeated that to himself seven times before letting his gaze slide over to the other boy, watching him instead of the toys or the movie.
The first scene hadn’t even finished and Scotty had already opened his notebook again. The image of the city in ruins, with vines and moss growing over what once was an important and regal building, was too great not to draw. Which is what he ended up doing instead of paying attention to the movie.
Gabriel let himself watch Scott, watching the way images grew from his pencil instead of paying attention to the movie. There was something relaxing about watching the other boy draw, something that put Gabriel in mind of watching a flame.
Scotty continued to draw, content with the way their first time hanging out was going. He had nearly finished the movie when a loud noise came from the television. Scotty jumped, his line extending longer than he meant for it. His head snapped up and he looked at Gabriel rather than the TV to see if the other boy had noticed.
“Oh, geez,” he said softly when he realized he had. “That surprised me.”
“At least you didn’t apologize,” Gabriel answered, keeping his voice as quiet as Scott’s. “May I see?” He gestured toward the notebook.
Gabriel’s statement was short-lived it seemed; Scotty stilled and tightened his grip on the notebook. Scotty had drawn around Aaron before and Aaron had never asked to see it, though there had been the one time when Scotty had accidentally left a picture on the floor. No one had- God, he was so stupid. He didn’t want people to know and yet there he was, drawing wherever he felt like it.
“Um,” Scotty said before reluctantly handing it over, his face flaming red. “Don’t, um, don’t tell anyone, okay? I’m, um...”
He trailed off and stared down at his hands.
Gabriel accepted the notebook from Scott, handling it with the same care he used with his ballet shoes (or his bear, but for an entirely different reason). He was careful not to touch the picture, lest he smudge the graphite.
“This is very good,” Gabriel said after a minute of studying the drawing. “I see why you wanted to take 2D Art.” The words were foreign on Gabriel’s tongue, slipping out before he had a chance to think about what he was saying. With anyone else, he would have denounced drawing as silly and frivolous, a stupid pastime for people unable to apply their minds to more academic realms... but he couldn’t do that with Scott. All he could do was look up at the tiny boy sitting near him and return the notebook. A belated twitch of his lips curved one side up in a crooked approximation of a smile. “You’re talented.”
“Geez,” Scotty mumbled, accepting the notebook back and blushing even harder. He was so embarrassed right now! He had been so flustered that he had missed Gabriel’s smile. Nervously he turned to a new page, his fingers leaving damp marks on the page. God, this was just... Scotty didn’t even know the word for it. “Um, thanks. This... are you liking the movie so far?”
He had no idea what else to say.
The smile, an unwelcome stranger on Gabriel’s face, quickly fled as Scott fidgetted with his notebook. “It’s good,” Gabriel answered curtly, looking back toward the tv, uncomfortable with how much he had already spoken with this boy. And how! He honestly hadn’t been paying attention to the movie, but he wasn’t going to tell Scott that. He could pretend.
“I’m glad,” Scotty said with a relieved little smile. This time he didn’t go back to drawing right away but instead watched the movie, glancing over at Gabriel’s face to see the other boy’s reaction. Slowly his hand began to move again, sketching yet another scene from the movie. He would draw Gabriel later, when the other boy couldn’t watch him do it.
Gabriel remained silent for the rest of the movie, only occasionally glancing Scott’s way (and occasionally toward the pandas). Better to not acknowledge that stupidly encouraging moment...
Eventually the movie came to an end. Scotty shut his notebook once again without offering to let Gabriel see and placed it on the bed beside him.
“I need to get my laundry,” Scotty said. “Um, would you like to come with? Or you can stay. And, um, maybe... maybe we could get something to eat? You can find out if you like the food.”
“Uncle Arthur wanted to take me out to dinner tonight,” Gabriel answered smoothly, checking his phone for the time. That just felt like the wrong answer, so Gabriel put his phone away and looked over at Scott. “But sure, let’s get your laundry.”
“Oh! Sorry!” Scotty exclaimed. Here he was, trying to pretend to be normal, and yet completely messing that up. Of course Gabriel’s uncle would want to take him out to eat. That’s what families did, right? “Maybe when you’re here for good. I mean, longer than today. So, um... I guess we can get it now...”
“And what was that apology for?” Gabriel asked, amused. How many times would it take Scott before he realized he didn’t need to apologize for every breath he took around Gabriel? Nevertheless, he got to his feet, unfolding and stretching (and eyeing those damn pandas again).
“I should have figured that he would want to take you out,” Scotty explained. “Sorry, again.”
Scotty stood as well, glancing at his notebook before deciding it would be fine where it was. As far as he knew Mocchi hadn’t gone through his stuff. Again he started to lead the way down to the basement.
“You should have known a fact that I didn’t share with you, without having ever met my uncle or myself face-to-face before?” Gabriel asked, raising an eyebrow. “I know I have strong expectations, but psychic isn’t one of them.”
“No! I mean, that’s what families do, right?” Scotty said, scrambling for a way to explain himself. He panicked for a second, realizing how suspicious that sounded, and quickly amended himself with, “I mean, extended family. If family members hadn’t seen each other in a long time, isn’t going out to eat what people do?”
Gabriel shrugged, his expression flattening out. “I wouldn’t know. I get a new family every other year or so. Some are more excited and interested in ‘connecting’ with me than others.”
“Oh,” Scotty said. “I, um... I wouldn’t either. My foster parents don’t-” take me with, Scotty wanted to say. Instead he settled with, “-have any other family either.”
Too busy pushing you down the stairs? But Gabriel didn’t say that. He just went down the stairs himself, frowning a little. Maybe he could... no. No, he wouldn’t ask his uncle if he could invite Scott out to dinner with them.
Scotty swallowed and fell silent as well, walking towards the dryer as soon as they were in the room. Again he bundled his clothes in his arms, relishing in the warmth and squeezing them just a little bit tighter. Abruptly he realized he was snuggling with the fabric and blushed, stopping the action.
“I, um, I have to bring these up again. Do you want to come with?” he asked. “O-otherwise I can walk you outside.
“I can escort you and your laundry back to your room,” Gabriel assured Scott, rescuing a sock before it could slip out of Scott’s arms and tucking it in more securely. “To make sure you don’t drop anything...”
Scotty blushed and tensed, looking uneasy that Gabriel had gotten so close. Even if it had been to only rescue a sock. He murmured a thanks and led the way back up the three flights of stairs. Poor Gabriel was going to be on the fourth floor too. Hopefully he wouldn’t mind all of the stairs.
“Um, when do you need to get back?” Scotty asked. “N-not that I’m trying to get you to leave! I just mean, um, I don’t want you to be late and get in trouble because of me.”
“Uncle Arthur said he’d call around five,” Gabriel answered. “And we’d work out our plans further then. Did you have anything you needed to do?”
Scotty shook his head and said, “No. I was just planning on um, staying in my room...”
He certainly was living it up at Dalton Academy. But he didn’t know how to interact with others that well. At least, not in this method. He knew at McKinley to duck and hide when he saw someone wearing a letter jacket.
“Way to live it up...” Gabriel murmured, holding Scott’s door for him since the other boy had an armful of laundry. “I suppose if-”
Gabriel’s almost-offer of help folding Scott’s laundry was interrupted by his phone ringing. He stepped toward the window as he answered it. “Hello? I’m... still at Chopp. Yes, I did. Scott. Yes. I... could ask.” He lowered his phone a little, looking over his right shoulder at the other boy. “Uncle Arthur wants to know if you’d like to come to dinner with us.”
Scotty’s face flushed as soon as Gabriel extended the invitation. Never had anyone asked him to join them for dinner. He fidgeted with his clothes since his hands were occupied -- otherwise he would be chewing on his sweatshirt string -- and then gave a tiny nod.
“Okay,” he said. “Um, if you wouldn’t mind me coming along. You can tell him I’m busy if you don’t want me there.”
It would be nice to spend some more time with Gabriel though. Xander was always saying Scotty needed to make more friends.
“Yes he would. No, he’s not. We’re in Chopp 304. I’ll see you shortly.” Gabriel hung up and slipped his phone into his pocket, turning back to Scott. “Uncle Arthur is finishing up some school business and will come by when he’s done to take us out.”
“Do I need to change?” Scotty asked, dumping his clothes on his bed and beginning to sort through to see if there was anything decent he could wear.
“If you want to,” Gabriel said, moving back to the bed, sitting on the edge and watching Scott. “I don’t believe we’re going any place fancy...”
“Then, um,” Scotty mumbled to himself before glancing towards his closet where the clothes that Mocchi had bought him remained untouched. Now would be a good time to wear them, and Mocchi had said that they didn’t make him look like a homeless person. He hesitated before wandering over, grabbing a shirt and a pair of pants. “I’ll, um, I’ll be right back.”
No need to kick Gabriel out. Scotty could just change in the bathroom.
Gabriel nodded, turning his attention back to the bird in the cage while Scott left to get changed. He had just watched a movie with a peer and now invited him out to dinner. Was the world coming to an end?
Scotty was thinking the same thing. Had he fallen down the rabbit’s hole or something? This couldn’t be the real world. This sort of thing, hanging out with people and being invited to dinner, just didn’t happen to him. He changed quickly in the bathroom and hurried back so Gabriel wasn’t kept waiting. After dumping his clothes on the bed with the others he stood and fidgeted with the sleeves. Already he felt so dressed up; more dressed up than he had ever before.
“Um, sorry that took so long,” Scotty apologized. “These buttons are harder than they look.”
Read: Scotty wasn’t used to doing them.
Gabriel simply gave a little shrug. He gave Scott a quick once-over and an approving nod. That would do for wherever Uncle Arthur wanted to take them. “It looks fine,” he said, hoping to fend off any apologies for not dressing nicer from the start or anything like that.
“Thanks,” Scotty said with a relieved smile. He may not look like Gabriel did but maybe now Scotty wouldn’t look like a beggar hoping for some spare change. With a glance towards the pile of clothes he asked, “Do you think I, um, I have time to put some of this way?”
“Probably,” Gabriel said, looking at the pile of clothes. Pause. “Did you... want some help?”
“You don’t have to!” Scotty exclaimed. “I don’t want to make you!” He walked over and began to fold, biting his lip down hard. He hadn’t needed to say anything! Now Gabriel probably thought Scotty was trying to use him for some extra help.
Gabriel blinked slowly before giving a shake of his head and stepping up to the other side of the pile, picking up a shirt to fold it. “I offered, Scott. That means you aren’t making me do anything.”
“Thank you,” Scotty said softly, giving up for now and letting Gabriel do what he wanted.
“So,” Gabriel asked as he helped the other boy fold his laundry. “Do you live alone? Just with your guardians, I mean. No siblings?”
“Um, yes,” Scotty said. “I’m an only child, and they don’t have any children either, so... um, you... um, what were your siblings like?”
Maybe it was insensitive to ask, but the words had already been spoken.
“Young,” Gabriel said quietly after a few minutes of silent folding. “They were all young. I was the oldest. Anna was four. Laurie was one. Samson was just a baby.”
“Um, sorry, for bringing it up,” Scotty mumbled. “Um, would your family do things together? I mean, um, my parents used to take me camping a lot. I remember my mama would let me sit in her lap at night when we were in front of the camp fire. So-” He paused, blushing when he realized he had been rambling. “Sorry. I was rambling there..”
Gabriel shrugged. “We’d play board games together sometimes. I’d help Dad with his work--he was a builder. I couldn’t actually use the tools, of course, but he’d let me fetch things for him, and hand him things.” He stared at the socks in his hands, wondering what it was about Scott that loosened his tongue. He hadn’t talked about his family in years.
“Yours too?” Scotty asked, putting the shirt he had folded down and staring at Gabriel. “My dad was too. He built a lot of the stuff that we had in the house. I remember he made me this wooden rabbit once and sanded it down until it was really soft. I...”
What had ever happened to that rabbit? Scotty had adored that piece of wood.
“Mine was a little angel figurine,” Gabriel said, slowly lifting his gaze to look back at Scott. “He called it my guardian angel...” It had burned in the fire, though, while his satan-cursed bear survived. Some guardian angel...
“My dad called mine my lucky rabbit,” Scotty said. “He made me rub it before I left for school when I had tests. Um, did you lose yours too? When I moved it got lost, I think.”
“House fire,” Gabriel answered. “It burned, same as everyone else.”
“Car crash,” Scotty mumbled. He didn’t know if his parents had been burned alive or not. He didn’t know much about how exactly they had died, only that they did and that they had been on their way home.
“Arson,” Gabriel replied. Set by my father... No, that was too much to share. He folded the socks together and reached for a pair of jeans.
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” Scotty said softly. Gabriel didn’t deserve that to happen to him. Not that anyone did, of course, but especially not Gabriel. “Um, thanks again for this.” The folding and staying with Scotty for so long.
“And I’m sorry about your parents.” It was the polite response, the proper one, the one Gabriel never would have cared about two weeks ago. But then again, two weeks ago, Gabriel wouldn’t have known Scott, another orphan who lost his parents around the same age as Gabriel had.
Scotty nodded silently and continued to fold, for once not speaking because he was comfortable with the silence. Nothing more needed to be said right now.
Gabriel helped Scott fold until there was a knock on the door. His uncle had arrived to take both boys out to dinner.
Scotty went to answer the door, immediately taking a step back as soon as he could. “Um, hello sir.”
He began to fidget again, glancing nervously back at Gabriel.
“Hello there,” Arthur said, smiling warmly at Scotty.
“Uncle Arthur, this is Scott,” Gabriel said, adopting a cool, detached tone of voice around the older man. “Scott, this is my uncle Arthur.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Arthur said, offering Scotty his hand to shake.
“Um, nice to meet you too,” Scotty said. He didn’t take Arthur’s hand though but continued to fidget with his sleeves. He would never voluntarily touch an adult.
After a moment, Arthur withdrew his hand and gestured to the hall. “Shall we?” His great-nephew certainly knew how to pick the weird ones.
Or maybe Gabe was doing this on purpose. Arthur had been warned that Gabe tended to go out of his way to be as infuriating as possible. It was one reason why the boy couldn’t seem to keep a family. Arthur was determined to change that, though.
Scotty had stayed closer to Gabriel than he normally would have, practically becoming at times the boy’s shadow when Arthur ventured into uncomfortable topics of conversation. The ride to the restaurant, a local one in town, was spent attempting what turned out to be a rather stilted and awkward conversation. Gabriel had clammed up, which made Scotty clam up thinking that he was the reason why, and Arthur determined to carry on with the conversation.
Even the arrival of their food hadn’t helped matters. Both boys continued to remain quiet; Scotty perhaps ate a bit too fast to be considered polite, but he had been afraid of having to answer questions. His salad, just a plain garden one, had seemed like a good chance to avoid just that.
Gabriel had ordered a salad too, a grilled chicken one with no dressing, and he didn’t eat the entire thing. He kept his answers to his uncle’s questions as short and non-committal as possible, despite Arthur’s attempts to keep their discussion going.
Eventually, after a painfully long meal, Arthur ended up driving both boys back to Dalton to drop off Scotty. Gabriel twisted around in the front seat to look at the other boy. “Thank you for joining us tonight,” he said, volunteering words for once since they had arrived at the restaurant.
“Um, thank you for inviting me,” Scotty said as he unbuckled himself. He offered a tight smile and opened the door, adding, “I’ll talk to you later. Um, good-bye sir...” and then slid out of the car.
Gabriel remained where he was, watching Scott head back to the dorms. “He seems nice,” Arthur commented as he left Dalton’s campus to take Gabriel back to his house. Gabriel didn’t answer, though, merely turned his head away to stare out the window.