Actions

Work Header

Speech Impediment

Chapter Text

Dexter had always been seen as strange to those around him at school, in public, and even at home. Maybe it was due to his unnaturally golden eyes or his, as some might say, creepy fascination with snakes, he never knew the reason. Well whatever it was, it was the reason why Dexter was always left behind by the other kids. It wasn’t too troublesome for him though, Dexter liked the solitude and quite. Often times he’d spend hours upon hours alone in the library reading about murder and supernatural mysteries. During class he’d stick to his seat either reading a novel, or playing with his magic trick cards. Magic was one of the few things Dexter was ever good at, even though it wasn’t really a skill.

When he was about nine years old, Dexter grew a habit that still sticks with him even ten years later. He became a compulsive liar. It wasn’t as if he purposefully bent the truth to take advantage of others, it was more like a speech impediment. He would say the opposite of what he meant without meaning to, in fact it would take much more energy to speak ‘normally’ then it was to say it backwards. His parents took him to speech therapy and mental health therapy, but nothing worked, so his parents and teachers just learned to accommodate for him. The other students, not understanding his situation, took to calling him Deceit, a name Dexter did not mind. They poked fun and teased, but it was never anything serious, and Dexter never let it get to him.

This was how Dexter went through the entirety of elementary, middle, and even high school. Now he was standing in front his new University, nineteen years old, his mind set on becoming a novelist, and expecting nothing different. There were maybe hundreds, if not thousands, of other students around him lazing about in the grass and courtyard, almost all in their own little circles of close friends, none of them noticing Dexter. 

Not minding the lack of acknowledgement, Dexter continued though the campus and walked to one of the several boys’ dorms. Getting his key and room number he then headed to the stairs, never being a fan of elevators, and made his way for the third floor. Once there Dexter searched for his room number. 200. 201. 202. Ah, there it was, dorm room number 203. Dexter took out the small key he was given by the old man at the attendance desk and slipped it into the lock and opened the door. 

The room was empty, but on the left side there were partially unpacked suitcases and colorful pictures tacked to the wall. Dexter walked over to look at them and saw different photos of the same four guys. Two of them had glasses, one looking strict and stoic like a robot, and the other looking goofy and wild, another looked extremely emo, and the last looked like a prep. Under one of the pictures were words written in red sharpie saying: We’re famILY. Dexter smiled slightly at the picture and moved to what he assumed was his side of the room to unpack.

About an hour and a half of calm passed in near silence, save for the rowdy boys across the hall, and Dexter was nearly done. Half of the closet was filled with his coats and jackets; his dresser was organized by garment in both alphabetical and spectral order; and his bookshelf that he had shipped in ahead of time had been organized with all of his favorite books based on genre and height of the book. As of now he was setting up his snake’s, little Dee Dee, terrarium on top of his dresser.

Eventually a loud group of voices appeared in the hallway, but Dexter ignored them, thinking it was just more rowdy neighbors. But soon the sound of the door being unlock startled him into realizing that it was in fact his roomate who had at last arrived, and most likely his friends as well. Not ready or prepared to speak with anyone yet Dexter did the only thing he could think off. Run into the closet and hide in a dark and enclosed area like a snake. A mere second later, in walked there very same four people from the photos, talking loudly. Well, so much for his peace.

“Hey Patton, looks like you’re new roomate is here!” One enthusiastic and regal voice said.

“I wonder where he is.” Another, robotic, voice pondered.

“Bro, you can’t just assume it’s a guy.” A very sarcastic voice spoke.

“I can’t assume anything else either, we don’t know who Patton’s roomate is yet.” The robotic voice responded. “When they’re here they can notify us of their identification.”

Dexter thought this was the perfect time to pop out from his hiding place. Well no he didn't, but he was getting cramped and it would be even more embarrassing if they discovered him on their own.

“I’m not a guy.” He stated as he stepped out of the closet, earning him a chorus of screams. All four of them instantly turned to face him in surprise. The emo one sitting on ‘Patton’s’ bed, the prep sitting next to him, the robot standing near his bookshelf, and the goofy one standing in the center.

“What the fuck was that?” The emo one said, holding a hand over his chest, obviously more shaken up then the rest.

“Sorry.” Dexter apologized. “I wasn’t nervous when you all arrived.”

“Um, okay...” Said the emo.

“What’s you’re name kiddo?” The goofy glasses guy asked.

“It isn’t Dexter, but I don’t prefer Deceit.” He responded, cringing inwardly when he realized that he did it again, watching as the confusion grew on their faces. Really not wanting to come off as rude or weird, Dexter hastily followed up with an explanation. “Sorry, I don’t have a speech impediment where I don’t say the opposite of what I mean.”

For a good three heartbeats no one said anything, but instead just stared at him awkwardly. Dexter would love nothing more than for a meteor to fall to the earth and hit him right now, or maybe the floor would give out beneath him, anything to end this mess. However, as he was contemplating the quickest away to escape the dorm by means of a quick death, the one in the middle smiled brightly like a radiant sun, not at all put off by him.

“So it’s like opposite day on repeat? Wow! I’ve never heard of that before.” He said brightly.

“Yes, I’ve never heard of that speech disorder before either.” Said the robotic one skeptically.

“Uh, well it is very common.” Dexter told him.

“So Dexter-”

“Deceit.”

“-let me introduce myself and my friends. I’m Patton Sanders, the dad of the group. That’s my boyfriend Logan, the mom-”

“I am not the mom.”

“The one in the hoodie is our love child, Virgil-”

“Sup.”

“Don’t call him that.”

“-and that’s our dramatic son Roman.”Patton finished, practically jumping up and down in his spot, filled with excitement.

Dexter didn’t know exactly how to respond to their introduction. What do you say back to a group of friends who label each other as different rolls of an immediate family. He didn’t know if it was endearing or creepy. Maybe a sniper would have been a faster option.

Logan, noticing his discomfort, let out a heavy sigh and rested a heavy hand on his boyfriend’s shoulder. “Pat, I think you came off a bit too strong again.” He said in a soft, but lecturing tone. Patton was able to calm down slightly, but stilled rocked back and forth on his feet. “I apologize, I’m Logan Winchester, a physics major, Patton here is an art major.

“Virgil Black, majoring in music theory.” The emo joined in next, still sitting in a ball on the bed, curled like a cat.

“And I am Roman Sanchez, actor, singer, and future Disney prince.” The preppy looking one then finished the introductions.

Once again, Dexter didn’t how to respond to them. He already told them his name so what else could he say? His major was probably a normal human response, but they’d probably ask if they could read any of his work, and he’d just as soon drive a bus into the ocean then show them his horror stories. So, maybe he could ask a question and... Wait, how long has he been standing there not saying anything? Oh shit they probably think he’s a socially inept introvert, well he was but oh no their staring- say something! Anything!

“Are you all gay?” What the fuck was that?

“Bi actually.” Both Logan and Patton answered at the same time.

“I’m pan, Roman is the only gay one.” Virgil shared.

“Gayer than a unicorn eating skittles on a rainbow~” Roman then sang, resting his head on Virgil’s side giving the small, cat-like emo a seductive wink, to which he was promptly shoved off.

“How about you kiddo?” Patton asked, taking a seat on the floor and resting his back against his bed frame. Logan followed close behind and sat next to him, crossing his legs.

“I’m not asexual.”

The smile Patton had been wearing the entire time began to grow impossibly large until Dexter was sure that his cheeks would rip wide open. With absolutely no warning, the dad friend bounced up off the ground and bounded over and enveloped him in a bear hug, scaring no one except Dexter.

“That settles it, you’re now my son!” He cheered and spun them around in a small circle. The others looked on like this was nothing new, perhaps this was how all of them met Patton, but Dexter could have sworn he’d turn into a puddle of blushing, stuttering gibberish. To say that he was caught off guard and confused would be the single most largest understatement of Dexter’s whole lonely life.

“I-i’m y-y-you-your so- wha- huh???”

Little did he know that this big bunch of weirdos would be the best thing to ever happen to him.

Chapter Text

“Now midterms are coming up in a couple weeks so you’ll all have a project due the first week of November. Each of you will write a short story on any topic of your choosing from the provided prompt list. A minimum of ten thousand words is required-” A chorus of annoyed groans followed, but were quickly talked over, “-your fault for picking the advanced class. You have one month!”

The campus bell then rang, signaling the end of third hour, Dexter’s last class for the day. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Dexter had morning classes, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays he had afternoon classes. Today was a Thursday.

Most every student had submitted to receiving their new project, grabbed the prompt sheet, and left. Dexter and a few other were still shocked in their seats. Moving on autopilot, the snake-loving man stood from his seat and grabbed the paper before walking out. He didn't pay much attention to where his feet was taking him, but just walked in a daze of shock and dread. Eventually he wound back up in his room, Patton already there knitting a Halloween themed scarf, and collapsed face first on his mattress, letting out a loud groan.

“Heya there kiddo, you alright?” Patton questioned from his side of the room, putting down his nearly completed garment.

“Everything is wonderful!” Dexter cried.

“Oh? What happened?” The fatherly student asked and got up from his bed, sitting down by Dexter to comfort him.

“My amazing creative writing professor isn’t having us write a ten thousand word story in just a month!” He exclaimed and curled around his pillow like a danger noodle. “The best part is that I don’t have to choose from a list of prompts!” 

“Well that can’t be too bad, right? At least you have options.” Patton pointed out, being optimistic. Dexter only continued to pout and stare at his knees, still intent on seeing this as a bad thing. The art student sighed and picked up the prompt paper, reading over the different ideas.

“There’s ‘a hundred years after the apocalypse’.” He offered.

Original and totally my style.” Dexter whined.

“How about ‘collapse of the technological age’?”

“I love dystopias.”

“’Summer vacation in a foreign land’?”

“I know everything about other countries.”

This went on for a while more as Patton listed off all of his options, but none of the sat well with him; they just weren’t his style. Dexter lived for horror and mystery, and none of these prompts gave him what he needed to do his thing. What was the point anyways? When Dexter became an author he’d write whatever he felt like, why was his teacher limiting him? 

Dexter’s complaining, and Patton’s attempts at helping, were then interrupted before they could drag on as a familiar knocking at the door told them that the rest of the gang was there. Let in by Patton, Logan, Roman, and Virgil came bustling in, rambunctious as usual.

“Hello Patton, Dexter.” Logan greeted, giving his boyfriend a kiss on the nose and Dexter a nod. The moping writer only groaned in response, his face pushed into a pillow of sorrow, and also cotton.

“Whoa, what’s up with Dee?” Virge asked, walking in last. The closest any of them had ever gotten to calling him by his preferred nickname of Deceit, was Virgil calling him Dee.

“He’s having a bit of creative block for his knew writing project.” The fatherly student replied, closing the door and sitting on his bean bag chair. Roman, being the flamboyant weirdo he is, ran and jumped on Dexter’s bed, making the troubled boy fly up in the air due to his light, and rather small, body. 

“Well why don’t you write about a quest full of magic and homosexual princes? That’s what I’d do.” He proposed, shooting Virgil a seductive grin at the last part. Basically everyone in the room rolled their eyes. 

Dexter had only been in this group for about two months and it was already obvious to him that Roman was in love with Virgil, but the smol emo bean never took him seriously. The rest of them wanted to pull their hair out watching these two do circles around each other.

“That’s what you’d do, Princey. I doubt Dee would be interested in that stuff.” Virgil brushed him off with a sarcastic wave of his hand before turning his attention back to Dexter. “What is it you like to write? You’ve never told us.”

No, not good, he’s not ready to tell them about what he writes, he never likes telling anyone anymore. All his teachers were concerned that he was a sociopath, and his writing only gave his parents another reason to send him to therapy. Everyone just thinks it’s creepy and disgusting, Dexter doesn’t want them to think that too.

“It’s uh... totally not normal and definitely should cause concern.” Shit. Dexter paled and started sweating. The others looked at him unconvinced and suspicious.

“Dude, for someone who’s always lying, you suck at it.” Virgil smirked, clearly amused by his shit ability to purposefully lie.

“Indeed, if you fear our judgement you needn’t worry.” Logan said with the most feeling he could muster, which wasn’t much on the outside but Dexter could tell he was trying. From one socially inept person to another, he knew if was difficult for Logan to properly convey his emotions, so it meant a lot.

“Yeah,” Patton agreed, moving seats to plant himself in Logan’s lap, “No matter what were famILY, we won’t shoot you down, only bring you up.”

“It’s just that, others never labeled me as a freak because of my writing so-”

Again, only Dexter was taken by surprise when Patton suddenly jumped from his boyfriend’s lap to pull him into another one of his signature papa bear hugs.

“They did?! Who are they?! Do I need to passive aggresively lecture someone disapprovingly? Because I swear, if anybody hurts one of my sons I will-”

“Whoa whoa, it’s fine, it wasn’t just the grown-ups from my youth. It’s in the future now.” Dexter told him, removing himself fro the death grip hug.

“But Dex, if it’s holding you back it’s gotta be serious.” Roman spoke up from the end of his bed.

“Quite right, adults are the most influential part of our upbringing. If the ones from your childhood were discouraging then it would be beneficial for you to talk it out in order to receive positive words from close companions.” Logan agreed, offering nerdy, helpful advice.

“Can’t let that shit build up, trust me.” Virge affirmed.

Dexter sighed and pinched his glabella together. He knew that they only wanted to help and meant well, but he had heard this speech a thousand times before. His parents wanted him to open up and be himself, but regretted it when he did; his teacher did the same but still didn’t trust him; even his therapist thought he was a hazard. He- he just didn’t want these guys to see him differently.

“Look, how about we don’t go to a cafe and get a drink. Some tea may not help.” He urged instead, taking his leave and walking out of the dorm. If he was going to talk to them, he had to have a cup of Earl Grey first.

The others looked at each other unsure, but had no choice but to follow after him. They all got the sense that this wasn’t going to be easy. By the time all four of them exited the room as well Dexter had already reached the staircase and started descending the steps. The air around them was tense and unfavorable, so Patton, being the little helper he was, launched into a one man conversation about his day, to which Roman soon joined in with the occasional comment from Virgil and Logan. However, Dexter stayed quiet and stayed off to the side of the group as they all walked, excluding himself. Logan monitored his behavior, but said nothing.

Dexter hadn’t told the others much about him in these short few months, not wanting to scare them away. He’s never been good at making friends so he’s gotten used to not caring; but this is the first time Dexter’s ever cared so much about opinion, he didn’t want to lose this circle because of something he can’t help like his personality. That’s why he’s stayed quiet all along as to his interest, to keep them from running, but now he was afraid that his silence was driving them away faster.

The moment Dexter had been dreading arrived as soon as the coffee shop arrived in sight. A quaint little shop just three blocks from the campus, named Sugar & Spice. Taking a seat at a corner booth, Dexter was sat in between Roman and Virgil, with Logan and Patton across from them.

“Hey Dex, can we switch seats?” Roman asked shyly, eyeballing Virge.

“Why? you know Dee feels safer when he’s in an enclosed area, and I feel safer when I have an escape route.” Virgil argued, still not getting the hint that was clearly being thrown in his face. 

“I’m not fine with it.” Dexter said quietly and slid under the table, allowing Roman to move over before sliding back up. next to the window. Ro gave Virge a small smile, but the purple haired musician just looked away. Although, he may be hallucinating, but Dexter could have sworn that he saw a small blush rise on his cheeks before he covered them with a hand. A shit eating grin manifested on Dexter’s face and he almost forgot why he was nervous, until the waitress came to take their orders and reminded him why they were there.

A black coffee for Logan, pumpkin spice latte for Patton, green tea latte for Virgil, a white chocolate mocha with caramel for Roman, and an Earl Grey for Dexter. After their order was done and taken, the young waitress gathered their drink menus and left them to the inevitable awkward silence that Dexter had been loathing.

He didn’t speak right away, still not mentally prepared for the reveal. The rest didn’t speak either, giving him the time he needed to gather his bearings. Several agonizing minutes passed in silence as Dexter twiddled his thumbs and debated whether he should bail or not. There didn’t seem to be anyone behind them in the next booth, he could quickly hop over and make a dash for the exit, run to the forest, dig a hole, and live there the rest of his life with his stories. No. He had to do this, they promised they wouldn’t judge.

Kicking himself to take the initiative, Dexter reached into his Letterman bag and pulled out a worn down notebook and handed it to Logan. “Don’t turn to page sixteen.” He instructed. The physics major gave him a wary look, but opened the book to the specified page, and began to read the words Dexter had poured his soul into. Once he had finished he looked at Dexter with a look of understanding, not a hint of disgust or fear on his face. Without a word he handed it to Patton for him to read. The emotions were plain on his face, fear, but not at him and rather at the story, and a keen interest at the narrative before him. When he was done he handed the story to Virgil, and so on until the little notebook made its way back to its owner. By that time their drinks had been completed and served to them. Dexter took a long sip of his tea before addressing the words he’d written in ink.

“I’ve never had a fascination with mystery and horror, but all it’s ever given me wasn’t fear from my parents, and concern from my teachers.” Dexter then proceeded to tell them about the numerous therapists he’d been sent to, the trips to the counselor's office, and the hushed voices behind his back. He told them about how he was labeled as a problem child because of his stories. By the end of his monologue he was shaking in his seat, and tears threaten to spill from his eyes. “I wasn’t called toxic by everyone around me, and I wanted you guys to think the same.”

“Oh, Dexter, we would never call you anything of the sort.” Patton said kindly, reaching his hand out to hold Dexter’s shaking one.

“Yes, while your story is unique, there is a specific genre for it. Many great authors have been praised for their works in horror and mystery.” Logan concurred. “It would be ill-minded of us to take dislike to you because of your interests.”

“Yeah man, besides, I like the same genre, well not horror because it triggers my anxiety, but I love murder mystery.” Virgil joined in, giving him a nudge on the shoulder.

Dexter looked between all of their smiling faces, still a bit cautious. “You are scared of me?” He asked melancholy. 

“Son, you’re part of a family that know what it feels like to be different, you’re a Sanders now, and that means that you’re loved unconditionally here.” Patton said squeezing his hand comfortingly.

“Yeah little brother-”

Please push it.”

“-there’s no shaming here. And if it’ll help, we’ll all stay up with you tonight to help you think of an idea.” Roman said, wrapping his arm around Dexter’s smaller shoulders.

“I think that’s excessive Roman-”

“Silence science slut!”

“You’d all really not help me?” Dee asked surprised.

“Of course!” Patton grinned, “as I said, we’re famILY.”

Chapter Text

Dexter sat comfortably at his desk as he worked the hours of his Wednesday afternoon away on his creative writing project. His snake, Dee Dee, made herself comfortable wrapped around his shoulders, content with watching her owner work on his computer.

After two all-nighters and much help from his new friends, Dexter was able to come up with a story idea. It was under the prompt ‘it was all just a dream’ to write a mystery, horror, suspense short story. It took place with a woman named Abigail who woke up in a small, coffin like, box; a voice speaking to her through a speaker directing her to escape with only a few tools before all the air was sucked out. When she made it out she was in another box and so on.

He was at the part when Abigail was about to drown as water filled the room from the bottom when the door opened, and in bounded Patton with his normal energetic behavior. Not long ago, last week, Dexter learned that Patton had ADHD, so the way he acted was no longer surprising to him and now expected.

“Hey, hey Dexter! Dee Dee!” The bubbly artist greeted with all the cheer of a thousand saints.

Dexter turned around in his chair and said hello before turning back to his story, determined to finish this chapter today so he could edit it tomorrow. One chapter to finish, another to start, and two chapters to edit before the due date in five days.

Patton, noticing his work ethic, strode over to peer over the smaller, younger, man’s shoulder to read his writing so far. But before he could get past the first sentence, Dexter covered the screen with his arms, crying “Please read it, it’s finished!”

“Sorry, there kiddo,” Patton said slightly dejected, “I was just curious.”

A pang of guilt seeped into the writer’s confused heart, regretting the tone he used with his first friend-adoptive-dad-person-thing.

“I’m not sorry, Patton. I just love it when people read my work before I proof read it myself.”

“That’s okay, but can I read it after you’re done?” Pat asked before gasping and hopping up and down in an excited dance, “Maybe I can be you’re editor!”

“...But you adore horror.”

“Oh yeah... maybe Virgil can be your editor? He’s getting his bachelors in poetry so he know English stuffs.”

Dexter thought about it for a second. He’s never been around Virgil with just the two of them, but he was able to pick up on the emo’s love for creepy and dark things. But his horror novels might trigger his anxiety, and Dexter didn’t want to give him a reason to hate him.

“I won’t think about it.”

“Yay!” Patton cheered and pulled Dexter into a hug, being careful not to squish Dee Dee. Dexter awkwardly stood there for a moment, still not used to receiving physical contact out of kindness let alone how to react to it. Eventually he settled for a pat on the head. Patton seemed pleased with the gesture and let go.

 

 

By the time dinner rolled around, Dexter had finished his chapter, saved it, then turned off his computer. About thirty minutes ago Patton had ordered pizza from Big Julius and invited the rest of the gang over. Logan had arrived first, but the two allowed him to work in peace as Logan read his textbook, and Patton played an assortment of games in his lap. When a call from the bottom floor came, Patton was notified that their pizzas had arrived, so he and his boyfriend left to retrieve it, coming back with both Roman and Virgil in tow, who had arrived around the same time as the pizza guy.

By the time they walked in with food and drinks-- cola for Virgil and Patton, wine for Logan, and beer for Roman --he had already put away his computer and set Dee Dee back in her terrarium; the poor little noodle got scared around too many people. Dexter had never had alcohol before, but he decided to give it a try to see if he’d like it. He knew he wouldn’t be pressured as there were two who didn’t drink, and that made him feel more at ease.

“Let’s get this party started bitches!”

“Roman language!”

“Don’t bother Pat, the idiot’s already in his own little world.”

Whelp, seemed like the others were already tipped off, if not from alcohol then from sugar.

“Mom! Virgil’s being mean!”

“For the one hundredth and fifty third time, don’t call me mom.”

Dexter sat on his bed with a small smile as he watched them interact with each other. Most times he was content just watching them talk and not saying anything himself, like now. When they all filled in, heading for their now usual spots-- Virgil and Roman on Patton’s bed, Logan and Patton on the beanbag, and him on his bed --Roman finally acknowledged him, handing him a bottle of beer.

“Here, it’s my favorite brand, and I went for something soft. But if you don’t like it I’ve brought an assortment of different types of liquor for you to try.”

“And I had to by it all.” Patton sighed, being the only one who was twenty-one in the group. Logan would be twenty-one in November, which was just around the corner so...

SHIT! Dexter would have to get him something! But he’s never bought someone a birthday present before. He only ever wrote poems or drew pictures for his parents that would make them even more afraid of their son. What the dang diddly heck could he get him?

Before he cold panic anymore, Dexter pushed all his dread down to feign composure. Taking the bottle in his hand and taking a brave swig, but nearly spat it out as soon as the liquid touched his tongue.

“It’s so sweet.” Dexter had never tasted anything so bitter in his life, it was worse than dried plums, his most hated food.

“Sorry, I didn’t think you’d like the sweet stuff, But this one taste like apples.” Roman said and took the bottle away, giving him a new one. Dexter tried it.

“It’s so smooth against the throat.” It was like he was drinking acid.

“Maybe you’re not a beer person, let’s try something else.”

And so they went through a list of different types of alcohol; some wine, nope; champagne, burn it; whiskey, pure toxic waste; vodka, how is this from a potato? Now it all came down to the last drink, Dexter already felt light headed and dizzy, but he was willing to try one last time. If he didn’t like it then he’d just join the ranks with Patton and Virgil and have soda.

“I don’t really drink this stuff, so I bought just a small bottle in case you didn’t want it.” Roman said setting a small bottle of ale into his palm. With a breath in and a gulp, Dexter took a chance and had a small sip. It was pleasant. It was sweet, but not overly so; it was sooth down the throat with a nice burning feeling; the aftertaste was bitter, but he oddly enjoyed it.

“This is horrible.”

“Really?” Logan asked, a light glass of peach wine in his palm.

Nope, would never drink this again.” He confirmed and took another sip.

“Well good, Jackal and Lied, finally you like something.” Roman sighed, glancing at all the rejected drinks off to the side.

“Roman be nice, Dexter doesn’t have to like the alcohol you do.” Patton lectured him gently, mouth full of pizza. 

Now that his choice of drink was settle, they settled into light banter and talking, a detective crime show on in the background. Dexter spent a while just drinking water, trying to re-hydrate from all those drinks.

He noted off to the side that Roman was eating the vegan pizza and Virgil was eating the meat lover’s pizza. He chuckled at the irony that two people so different could like each other. Roman was really loud and obvious about his affection for the precious emo that needs to be protected, but Virgil was much quieter. Over the past couple weeks since that day in the coffee shop Dexter had spotted multiple signs that Virgil was crushing on the regal boy just as much as the prince was on him. That only made Dexter wonder if Virgil thought that he was being a flirt, or if he took him seriously and chose to ignore his advances on purpose. Whatever the case was, he just wished they would stop being dumb and get together, their needless pining was beginning to drive him insane, and he had only known them for a little less than three months; Dexter can only imagine how Logan and Patton feel.

Eventually the conversation shifted away from whatever it previously was, Dexter accidentally spaced off and missed everything, and turned to the upcoming holiday.

“So a theater buddy of mine invited me to his costume party this Saturday and said I could bring some friends. How ‘bout it?” Roman inquired of them, looking extremely hopeful in Virgil’s direction.

“I’d love too! Logan wouldn’t that be fun? We could go as a matching pair!” Patton hastily agreed, loving the sound of a Halloween party.

“I don’t object.” Lo replied with a loving smile, nuzzling his forehead against Patton’s, earning a giggle from the latter. “How about you Virge?”

“I dunno, large crowds aren’t really my thing.” He said uncomfortably, playing with the zippers on his jacket’s sleeves. Roman immediately lost his smile, moving in his spot on the bed to better face him.

“You won’t have to talk to anyone, we’ll all be there and if you want to leave I’ll take you home.” He compromised eagerly.

Virgil still looked unsure, but was unable to resist the magnetic pull of Roman’s puppy dog eyes.

“Ugh, fine.” He caved, “But only for a bit.” Roman readily agreed, giving Virge a large hug that he didn’t try to escape from. Virgil may have thought he was slick, but Dexter noticed his grin and blush. Goodness, he wished he had a camera, his ship was finally leaving the harbor.

“What about you Dexter?” Logan spoke up again, turning all eyes in the room to him.

Yes I’ll go, I’ve been to tons of parties before.”

“Ah, come on kiddo, it’ll be fun! And just like Virgil, you won’t have to push yourself.” Patton told him, trying to persuade him.

Dexter took a second to ponder. He’s never been invited to a party before, not even for birthdays, so he didn’t know what to do. His friends would be there to help, but he still felt like he’d mess up somehow. He had a project due in five days, but it was nearly done, and perhaps he could work at the party as well. He still had to think of a present for Logan in eight days, but he could ask Patton for ideas and stop by the shops next week. He could make it work, but Dexter couldn’t help but feel like he was about to agree to torturing himself. He’ll see how it goes.

No.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” Dexter repeated over and over to himself slowly. Climbing out of Patton’s minivan that he’d gotten from his parents as a seventeenth birthday present. The entire gang had all pilled up into the van and went to the party together. 

Patton and Logan were wearing matching costumes as Sherlock and Watson, Logan of course being Sherlock and Patton being Watson. Roman, unsurprisingly, went as a prince, donning a white suit with golden outlining and a red sash across his right shoulder. Virgil went as Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the outfit perfectly copying the character. He even did the face makeup too. It was fairly obvious that Roman was taken aback by infatuation, and maybe a little something else too.

Dexter went as... a... killer? He wasn’t exactly sure what Roman had shoved into his hands just about three hours ago, but it was a costume he had never seen before. He kinda looked like Jack The Ripper, or a yellow themed Riddler. Half of his face was painted with green scales, and he had a single snake eye-contact in his left eye. In full honesty he looked like a villain that Roman would defeat in one of his fantasies. He didn’t mind though, he rather liked the look and would wear it more often if possible. 

Dexter had also thought of wearing Dee Dee around his neck like a decoration; but he knew she would definitely hold a grudge against him if he dared.

Walking up the drive way to the open front door, Dexter noticed several people who had decided to take the party outside in the front lawn. The music was already blaring out from the inside, lights flashing brightly in the windows. His headache was already setting in from the sight.

“I’m feeling really good.” He breathed out looking at the scene.

“Come on boys! A night of adventure awaits!” Roman shouted excitedly before him, taking hold of Virgil’s arm and dragging the poor anxious bean away into the party, the emo’s arms flailing uselessly. Patton and Logan followed after, arms intertwined, and entered through the door that was now starting to look like a portal, leaving Dexter behind. Heaving a heavy sigh, Dexter walked into the noisy house.

People. Were. Everywhere. It was like a sea of bodies swirled around him, faces and masks mixing together into a blur of skin and costumes. Wherever his friends had went, he could not see them anymore. With an exhale of breath, Dexter decided to at least try to talk to some one. Spotting the closet person in his perimeter, a lone girl on her phone, he made his way over to try to make small talk and possibly make a new friend.

“Hi, I’m a liar.” He greeted her awkwardly, offering a his hand. The girl gave him a creeped out look before slowly backing away.

Well that went peachy.

Dexter groaned and let his shoulders sag. After all this time he still sucked at talking to people. Not wanting to look like even more of a fool, Dexter simply resolved to go find a place to work on his project like he had originally planned. Searching around the crowded house for a bit, he found a sorta quiet spot by the bottom of the stairs. Dark and barren like his rejected heart.

Dexter was able to get his previous chapter edited and finalized. The chapter he was working on now was nearly completed, he simply need to write about Abigail escaping the final box, which is the size of a large warehouse, only to wake up in bed. Edit the chapter, then re-read the entire story to search for any inconsistencies. All together the story was a little less than forty-two pages, and over twenty-one words long. He may have exceeded the ten thousand minimum by a bit, but he got so caught up in the story he forgot about the original  goal. 

Pulling his laptop onto his lap Dexter got to work on finishing the last page. Detailing Abigail as she escaped the cloud of green toxic gas that followed her through the maze of hallways. The final trail of the story.

Running until, at last, she saw a metal door at the end of one of the corridors. With a relief unlike any other, but so similar to the end of all the rest of the trials, she sprinted with newfound energy to the door. The gas was at her heels, licking and biting at her exposed flesh, threatening to consume her if she stumbled for just a moment. With one final leap, Abigail thrust the door open to a blinding white light, brighter than a thousand cosmic suns.
Then suddenly she sprang up in bed. Sweating from adrenaline, practically still sprinting under her tangled bed covers.

Dexter smiled fondly at the word document. His first story of his college career was complete. Maybe if it got high marks he’d even send it to a publisher to have it published as an actual novel, perhaps his career would start sooner than he thought. Dexter shook the thoughts away with a chuckle.

“That’s definitely going to happen.” He murmured under his breath. Saving his progress, he then moved on to editing over his work. A good five minutes went by, listening to piano music in the major scale, ignoring everyone around while working before someone tapped on the top of his laptop screen, catching his attention. Pausing his music and taking out his earphones, Dexter looked up and was met with a predatory smile from a man who looked roughly around his age.

“Hey Scales, what’cha doing here all by yourself?” He asked in a haughty, irritating tone.

Not working.” Dexter replied tersely, not wanting to deal with flirts. He already sucked at handling people, but he was so much worse when it was the rare person who, for whatever reason, was blind enough to find him attractive.

“Hm, feisty. Like it.” The man grinned grossly, “Well while don’t you put down that computer and have a little fun?”

Of course, I want to go with you.” Dexter hissed like a snake, becoming more and more impatient with this pig-headed dude. And yet, he still took his rejection as an invitation.

“Well then come on Scales, let’s party.” Said the man, grabbing the poor snake-man off the floor. Dexter tried to rip his arm away, but was pretty weak and failed epically to do so. “Whoa, what’s the fight for Scales?” He asked smugly, taking hold of his other arm as well and getting uncomfortably close.

“It means he wants you to fuck off.” A voice joined in from behind. Both turned to the intruder and Dexter was immediately relieved to see Virgil. Growling, the man let go, shoving Dexter over towards Virgil roughly, making him fall in the emo’s arms. “You good Dee?”

No, I’m not okay.” He answered shakily. 

“Well what happened, why didn’t you tell that guy off?”

“I didn’t! But he listened to me!”

“Oh right, speech impediment.” Virge mused, “Well try not to get separated from us next time.”

Dexter looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. “Why aren’t you alone?” He asked questioningly.

“I lost Roman in the thick crowd while we were on our way to the edge, since I was starting to get an anxiety attack from- well it doesn’t matter. Bottom line is I saw you while looking for him.” Virgil explained, sitting both of them back down where he he had previously been. 

Dexter, not knowing how to correctly respond to that, nodded his head and reopened his laptop.

“Well, I hadn’t just finished my last chapter before that nice man appeared.” He said, returning back to his project.

“Cool, can I read it?”

“What part?” Dexter asked.

“The whole thing.” Virgil clarified.

“I can’t email you the story for you not read it on you’re own.”

“Sure thing.”

And that’s pretty much how the rest of the party was spent. Virgil opened the long email and began reading on his own, listening to music with his large headphones. Whilst Dexter continued editing, listening to his own music as well. They were completely comfortable ignoring everyone, including each other, together.

Sometime passed before Roman had finally found them, or rather Virgil, and tried to pull them both, mostly Virgil, out into the party. After a while of begging and complaining, and Virgil staying resolute in not wanting to get off the floor, Roman joined them. Then deciding to watch a Disney movie on his phone; leaning into Virgil, pushing him into Dexter, pushing Dexter into the wall.

People gave them strange looks, some even going so far as to take sneaky pictures, but mainly they were left alone.

By that time Dexter had long since finished finalizing his last chapter and had moved onto working on the story as a whole. Occasionally Virgil would point out a mistake as he was reading, to which Dee would promptly go to the pointed out passage and fix it.

Again, this arrangement went on for quite awhile, their collective silence broken mainly by Roman making comments on the movie he was watching, Aladdin, and trying to speak with Virgil. The musician would only humor the actor for so long before going back to the story. At one point Roman began poking at Virge in the cheek just for the heck of it, and also because he lived for attention, and nearly had his finger bitten off. Oh, what a sight that was to see. Once again Dexter wished he had a camera to capture this couple’s idiotic flirting.

However, even they could only take sitting on the uncomfortable ground for so long, and they all pretty much became bored of being there. Their position spoke as much: Dexter laying on his stomach, Virgil with his head on Dee's back, and Roman resting his head on Virge's stomach. If there was just one more person in there group then they be able to form a square. Or if Dexter and Roman shifted a bit they'd form a triangle. Oh, Illuminati confirmed. 

Either way, he could tell that the other people at the party we're getting annoyed with stepping over them. And honestly so was he. 

"So do we want to get up yet?" Roman asked, clearly the most aggravated with being "forced" to be on the floor. Both Dexter and Virgil were about ready to choke out the princely man for complaining so much about his costume getting stained from the dirty floor. Goodness, he knew Virgil liked the guy, but it almost seemed like a relationship with him would be more like babysitting if anything else. He is needy, selfish, and over the top- actually, scratch that, both of them are, so maybe they'll be perfect for each other. 

"Do you want to get off my stomach?" Virgil bit back in reply. Yep, perfect. And almost as if the mediators of the heavens had shined down on them in that moment to come between any more shots being fired in the form of snide remarks, Patton and Logan appeared from the kitchen area.

Patton seemed to be hammered drunk and barley awake, being carried on Logan’s back, while Logan seemed to be even more sober than if he’d taken one hundred shots of clean water and fresh air. He had patently been searching for them, looking exhausted and thankful when he saw them, which immediately turned to a look of vexation.

“What are you doing on the floor?” Logan inquired exasperatedly. 

Paying attention to people.” Dexter replied, looking up from his laptop, which was now opened to a page on the top ten abandoned theme-parks around the world. It goes without saying that he got distracted from working long ago.

“Well it seems that’s what all of you are doing,” He noted, heaving Patton higher up on his back, “Come on it’s almost midnight, and I’m pretty sure Patton’s already asleep.”

“What happened? I thought Pat didn’t drink anymore.” Virgil questioned as he got up, lazily helping Roman up too, not wanting to seem as if he cared. Honey, Dexter sees all.

“Some guys pressured him into it when I had my back turned. He’s a lightweight so he gets like this pretty fast.” Logan explained, directing the last part of information mainly at Dexter even though he didn’t ask.

“Fucking bastards, we should challenge them to battle.”

“That’s not going to do anything Roman, we should just get Patton home.” Logan argued, “Let’s go. I have the keys.”

Roman grumbled to himself, still wanting to “beat their asses until they couldn’t walk”, whatever that meant, but followed along anyways. Virgil also didn’t look too happy about the state of their dad, but made no further argument. Dexter followed with no comment made.

 

 

“Why are all you guys still gone?” Dexter complained, taking off his make up in the connected bathroom. The room was small, six by six feet, but it served it’s purpose and was convenient when Dexter didn’t want to deal with people in the public bathrooms.

“Because this is Patton’s dorm too.” Virgil answered from the main room, currently raiding Dexter’s mini-fridge without permission, taking out a can of ginger ale. “We wanna make sure he’s good when he wakes.”

“I don’t understand Logan wanting to stay, but why you guys?” The dark writer sighed, walking out to lay on his bed, first checking to make sure he didn’t flop down on his pet, finding Dee Dee curled up in his pillow case.

“Because we’re worried too.” Roman said from inside the closet, looking for extra blankets to soften up the floor. “You haven’t been here long, but this family is thicker than thieves in a Target on Black Friday.”

Dexter smiled lightly at the analogy, liking the idea of them all robbing a store together--metaphorically not literally. Maybe.

Sparing a glance over at Patton’s bed he saw Logan sitting next to Patton’s passed out form, placing a cool rag on his forehead and running his fingers through the sleeping man’s locks. 

“Do you think he wasn’t drugged?” Dexter asked the physicist gently. The upcoming birthday boy shrugged, clearly upset with not being able to help his boyfriend any more than he was.

“If he was then it should flush out of his system in about nine hours. Although I’m pretty sure Patton was the one to open the can.” Logan said back in reply. With a careful hand he softly caressed the artist's cheek, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. “I’m more worried about his mental state when he wakes up. He usually takes peer pressure very harshly on himself.”

The room went very quiet after that. The others all seemingly remembering an event Dexter wasn’t around to experience with them. It made the verbally inept boy all the more concerned for his supposedly adoptive dad who had brought him into his new family.

Chapter Text

It was a Tuesday morning, the time was fifteen to nine, and he couldn’t sleep. Dexter had crashed early last night while working on his stupid College Calculus homework. Whilst in high school, he had stupidly made the choice to take accounting over calculus because he had been to lazy to put in any effort into his final year. Little did he know that those credits would mean nothing to his University and he’d be forced to take calculus anyway. Work was piling up on him and Dexter was finding that he was didn’t understand more of the material than he understood, and his solution was just to put it off. In fact he had forsaken his homework assigned last Thursday in favor of his writing project, leaving him to finish the five page assignment in just under nineteen hours, taking away sleep, class, and other distractions.

Sitting up in his too soft bed, Dexter looked over at the incomplete work that sat mockingly on his desk. With a groan he fell back onto his bed, then, after a thought, pushed himself back up and got out of bed. His work would be due at one O’clock when his first class of the day started, so this had to get done before then.

Stepping quietly over to the closet, as Patton was still resting, Dexter pulled out a dark grey button-up shirt and a black, long coat since winter was closing in and the days were becoming colder. Pulling open the very bottom drawer of his dresser, he chose a simple pair of black jeans. After he dressed and prepared in the bathroom, Dexter began to gather his papers and books off of his desk, placing them into his Letterman bag. He was half way out the door when a sleepy voice called out behind him.

“Dee?” Patton yawned, “Where are you going, what time is it?”

Dexter glanced down at his wrist watch to provide the correct time, he wasn’t one for rounding. “It’s not 8:58, and I’m not heading to the coffee shop to start last night’s homework.” He replied.

“Oh! Wait for me, I’ll join you!” Patton said as he hurriedly jumped out of his bed and ran to his, smaller that Dexter’s, dresser. Pulling on a pair of light blue jeans and a pastel pink t-shirt, he then sprinted to his side of the closet and pulled out a cat-hoodie. Grabbing his floral backpack, he jumped over to join Dexter out the door. His total time under four minutes, not even bothering to brush his teeth or comb his hair.

The conversation between the two of them had been light as they made their way to what had become their favorite cafe, Sugar & Spice. They sat down at what had also become their usual booth, and waited to be served. A sleepy looking waitress came to them after a minute, the only occupants of the shop, and asked for their orders in a dead, monotone voice, clearly too tired to bother putting on a fake smile. Dexter ordered a Chai tea, and Patton a Green tea latte, after being told it was too late for pumpkin spice and too early for peppermint. Taking their orders, the lady left them alone.

Dexter grabbed his notebook, textbook, and worksheet, and began the last two pages he needed to finish of the five-page section of the packet. His professor handed out a new homework packet each unit, and assigned page numbers after each class. The amount was unholy, but at least it was well organized.

At the same time Patton pulled out a drawing pad, and a packet of specialized artist pencils.

Before Dexter could even start his first problem, Patton called his name in question for the second time that morning, bringing his attention up and away from his work.

“Hey Dee? Would you mind if I drew you for my weekly art homework?”

Yes, don’t.”

“Oh, thank you!” He cheered gratefully, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, I’ll draw you like that.”

Dexter nodded and craned his head back down to the packet before him. It wasn’t easy, in fact he probably was getting more of them wrong than he was getting right. Dexter would consult his textbook every time he got confused, which was becoming about every two minutes. Almost everything seemed foreign to him. Right when he thought he was doing it right, the answer sheet told him he failing at every step. He seriously had to resist throwing the book out the window and repeatedly slamming his head into the table. He’d rather not be banned from his favorite cafe, plus he had to keep still for Patton. So, putting on a calm facade, Dexter continued to work, not even noticing when his tea arrived.

Exactly forty-two minutes passed when he finally allowed himself to crumple over and groan in frustrated defeat.

“You okay, kiddo?” Patton asked him, peering up from his drawing.

“I’m not okay,” He answered back, “Just completeing my work. I understand everything!”

Patton looked at him questioningly as he processed what he had just said, still not the best at comprehending his impediment at times. It made sense thought, Dexter didn’t blame him for not understanding him all the time.

“Well, what are you working on?” He asked once it all clicked together in his head.

Not calculus.”

“Oh! You should ask Logan for help then, he’s taking that class as well. He’s really good at it too!” Pat told him, suggesting seeking help.   

Dexter looked up, keeping his head on the table, and saw Patton smiling down at him with his signature bright grin. The same grin he had worn when he woke up with a bleeding headache Sunday morning. Everyone had been worried for their friend, and even more so when he had bolted away from them to throw up in the toilet. Yet, Patton simply smiled at them, made a joke, and began the day like nothing had happened.

Dexter payed close attention to everyone during that time, and while they all looked concerned, none of them looked surprise by how he acted. Logan, especially, looked sad. This brought the question to his head of how exactly the two of them met, and their past that could have caused this between them.

Within the short few months that Dexter had known these people, Logan was probably the biggest mystery of them all. He could be so emotionless at times, acting like nothing but an android at work to accomplish a set task. But then there were those moments where he would act like the most compassionate man on the face of the earth. And nearly each one of those times was when he was talking with Patton. 

The fact that Logan’s birthday was tomorrow jumped back into his head; yet he had no idea what he’d like as a gift. It seemed that if Dexter wanted to understand Logan and what type of person he is, he’d half to first understand Patton, and their relationship.

“How’d you and Logan start dating?” Dexter asked suddenly, sitting back up.

Patton, who had previously been pleasantly relaxed, had then gone stiff as an ironing board. His trademark grin that made him look so kind sank away into a look of shock, and discomfort. 

“That- that’s a long story,” He said hushedly, his voice saddened, “and not the happiest either.”

“That’s bad, I don’t have time to listen.”

Patton sighed, and twiddled his fingers around, looking down intently at his lap. His awkwardness was as clear as the sun, and so unlike him. Dexter was about to tell him he didn’t have to say anything when he finally spoke, his voice lightly shaking.

“It was my freshman year of college, I had come here from two states over and didn’t know anyone. I was eager to make friends and willing to do whatever people wanted to be liked. I had gotten into a crowd of rather... mean guys who always wanted to party, skip class, and do bad things. To me they were my only chance at making friends, other people were put off by my energetic behavior, but they seemed to like it; encouraged it even.

Subsequently I started adopting their bad ways and my grades began to drop, but I was too worried about being alone to care or doing anything about it. After a while they began to pressure me in more than just skipping class. I gained a drinking habit from them that changed me, and even though I could never hold more that a bottle or two, I would drink almost every day. 

When I went home for winter break my parents became concerned over my change in behavior, and I promised them I would fix myself. But when I came back, I couldn’t help myself. These guys were my only friends, how could I leave them? Yet I had made a promise to my parents to bring up my grades, so I sought out a peer tutor.

Logan was- well, Logan when we first met. Cold and collected, simply focused on the material whenever we met. The time I spent with him was helpful and my grades went up a bit, but that’s all that changed. I remained with the guys and my experience with them was becoming much more judgmental and manipulating, but I ignored it, believing that if I did what they said I’d finally belong as part of a group.

They had always pressured me into trying new things that I never would’ve done, but they never forced me to, they’d simply laugh and call names, but... this one time was different. I had skipped a chemistry class to hang out off campus. They tried to talk me into drugs before, but I had always said no. That’s not how it went this time however. They threatened to stop being friends with me, and I- I got scared. Without them I was alone, and I couldn’t stand that thought. I said yes.”

Tears were falling down his face, and snot was dripping from his nose. Patton’s breath became heavy as he reached this part in his story. Dexter had never seen him so vulnerable before, he was kinda regretting asking in the first place.

“They left anyways.” He gave a soft, deprecating chuckle, “Logan had found me that day, apparently he didn’t have class at that time and was going to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. He could immediately tell I was under the influence, so, helping me into his car, he drove me back to the dorms and took me to his room, where he helped me clean up and rest. When I woke up he was there, a glass of water and toast with his favorite jam in his hands. And when I looked up at him, I felt myself lose it for the first time in a while. He listened while I cried, and after I told him about the past five months, he said something I’ll never forget.

““While your want in human companionship is understandable, it is inconceivable as to why you thought you had no one else. I’m here am I not?”””

Patton smiled as he said that, a true smile, pure and happy.

“After that Logan would rarely leave my side. He helped me from my alcoholic addiction, kept me from the risk of a drug or smoking addiction, and changed my life around.

One year later, on the same day that he had found me there in the park, he asked me out. Little did I know that It had been Valentine’s day, so that was a funny addition to the meaning of that day.”

Dexter had no words at the end of that huge dump of unexpected feels and angst. He never would’ve guessed that someone so kind and trusting and welcoming as Patton would ever have been a partying alcoholic, even if he was under pressure. It brought a whole new light to Saturday night’s situation.

He had asked in the hopes of understanding Logan and Patton’s relationship better, but this just raised more questions. Questions that would have to wait. Dexter could tell that Patton was rather emotionally spent at the moment, he wanted to say something to ease his pain, anything to help.

“Well that was what I was expecting.” Fuck! Why did he suck at talking?!

“Ha, I guess.” Patton said gently, with a sad smile. “Man, this is getting depressing, how about we get back to work?” Patton asked, returning to his drawing pad.

“Patton?”

“Hm?”

“You’re lonely now, right?” 

Patton smiled. “Of course I am, I have you guys.”

 

 

The pale sun shone lightly on Dexter as he walked through the small shops of downtown by himself. He and Patton had went their separate ways hours ago, both of their work being completed before they went to their afternoon classes, which had been let out thirty minutes ago.

Dexter drove his old, yellow Volkswagen bug around in search of a birthday present for Logan. He was still very much a puzzle to him, but in the very least he had gotten an idea of what to get him. Dexter only hoped he’d like it.

 

 

The party they were throwing was simple. They all wet out to Mongolian Barbecue, Logan’s favorite, to celebrate after class and had brought presents and a red velvet cake, also his favorite. Thee restaurant owners had been nice enough to allow them to keep it in their refrigerator until they finished their meal.

Once their meals were done, their bowls emptied, the cake was brought out and lighted with candles. Each of them, even the staff, sang the traditional birthday song to Logan, and even though it sounded like death being hit by a car, it was fun. Once each of them was given a slice of cake, they all brought out their presents and gave them to the now twenty-one year old mom- I mean man.

Patton had gone first, giving him a hand-knitted scarf and a necklace locket with a picture of the two of them in it. Roman went next, giving him a book on the Broadway Musicals of the 1940s. Just the right amount of boring to keep Logan entertained. Virgil then gave him a gift-card for an audible book along with a hand-drawn card. That left Dexter as the last to give him his present.

“Here.” Dexter said simply, shoving the small box into Logan’s hands. Logan opened it without hesitance, revealing a digital watch.

“How useful, much appreciated Dexter.” Logan thanked him.

“That’s all. There isn’t a special feature so you can’t link up your watch to make emergency calls. You can’t input numbers that won’t allow you to contact people if you’re away from your phone. There isn’t even a GPS tracker.” Dexter explained, giving a small glance to Patton before pulling out a second one. “I didn’t get one for Patton as well.”

Logan’s eyes light up as he looked back to his watch with new found interest, taking the second watch into his hands as well. One was dark blue, and the other was light blue, their two favorite colors.

“This way you can never be closer to each other.”

Logan looked to Patton, Patton looked to Logan. Their faces full of love and happiness. This had been a good present.

Chapter Text

Creative writing, English Literature, Calculus, Biology, Anatomy; finals were in three days, seventy-two hours. Five classes, five tests, two hours each, ten total hours of testing. He has approximately thirty hours to study given all accountable variables. 

Over the past few days Dexter had practically lived in the library. Between tutoring lessons with Logan, where he and the rest of the gang would study together, and independent study, Dexter only ever left to go to class, eat, and sleep. His bodily fluids were practically composed entirely of caffeine at this point. This was his very first final as a college freshman, he needed to prove that it wasn’t a mistake to come here.

Dexter shook his head, ridding his mind of those thoughts, and brought his attention back to the paperwork before him. He was currently working on his anatomy study guide. Looking at the time on his cellphone he saw that it was past eight, the library would be closing in half an hour.

With a heavy sigh, Dexter closed his textbook, placed his work back in his bag, and got up to leave. There were only three other students still there besides himself, all looking wiped out from their studies as well.

The sun had surrendered to the moon long ago, leaving the world around him cold and dark, snow falling sleepily down to the earth from the heavens in a chilled kiss. Yep, that was overly descriptive, he must be a writer. The breeze nipped at his heels as he walked back to his dorm. A student was here or there, but most all were gone from the campus.

A fifteen minute walk brought him back to the tall, brick building. Once inside, Dexter shook off the snow that had accumulated on him. Dexter nodded to the dorm manager as he went by, heading up the flights to his room. He planned to simply shower, snack, then go to sleep, but once he saw Roman on his doorstep he knew that wouldn’t be the case.

Hearing footsteps, Roman looked up hopefully, then stood when he saw who it was.

“Dex! ‘Bout time you got here. What the heck were you doing making me wait so long?”

“Huh? What don’t you mean?”

“I sent you a text dude!”

Yes you did, I-” Sure enough the text was there, or rather several texts were.

Roman: Hey Dex meet me at you’re room in an hour
Roman: im here
Roman: Hellooooo?
Roman: dude what the duck? where you at?
Roman: **fuck autocorrect

Resent me, I didn’t have my phone on silent.” Dexter apologized, scooting to the door to unlock it. “Why did you call Patton?”

“He’s staying at Lo’s tonight.” Roman replied simply, following Dexter in and making himself at home, just as they always did. Dexter had long since given up on trying to stop the others from taking his food from the mini fridge. Still, it stung to watch Roman take his favorite lemon yogurt.

“Oh.” Dexter said quietly, trying not to think to hard about what that meant. “So what don’t you want?”

Thus a flip was switched. Roman lost his confident composure, no longer sitting tall, instead he curled in on himself and awkward ate yogurt in a lame attempt to hide his blush. If Dexter had to take an educated guess, it probably had something to do with Virgil.

“Well uh- Virgil’s birthday is uh- in a few days and I’d like to um, I’d like t-to ask him o-out. Could you help me?”

Seeing Roman stutter and blush like a high school boy was the cutest thing ever. Only seeing Virge do the same would be better, and Dexter planned for that to happen.

“Well of course not.” Dexter told him, “But why me? Wouldn’t it be better to ask someone without experience? Logan and Patton wouldn’t be better.”

“Are you kidding? Logan may have been the one to ask Patton out, but he sucks at romance, and Patton... well he isn’t exactly helpful when it comes to wooing someone. Besides, I saw how amazing you are at gift giving from the heart, and you’re the second most creative here outside Virgil and I.”

“If you mean creative by not writing gory horror and suspense then sure.” Deceit mumbled under his breath as he looked through his messy desk for a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Finding one he began to write a list of every idea he could think of and a list of what they’d need for each one. Once complete he handed it over to Roman for him to chose what to do.

He read through it carefully, mulling over the pros and cons of each suggestion. It was a good few minutes before he looked up with his final decision.

“Number four.” He said with a grin.

Four. The scavenger hunt. Roman and Dexter would have to work together to take Virgil on a hunt, having clues leading him to the undecided final destination.

“So where aren’t you going to have him meet you?”

Roman smiled warmly, as if he was reliving the sweetest memory he ever made. Perhaps it was.

“Where we first met.”

 

 

Dexter bolted from his classes to the parking lot where he’d be meeting Roman to help him shop for materials. Careful not to slip as he went. If they were fast, he’d be able to make it in time for tutoring.

Shopping took longer than thought due to traffic caused by an accident on the road. Stupid black ice. Now they were both running late for tutoring session with Logan. When they had gotten there, Patton and Virgil were already at work, asking Logan questions for different subjects he could help with. They sat down and began to work to, saying nothing of their plans while Virgil was there.

Dexter wasn’t able to get as much done during tutoring because of their lack of time, but now he had to go help Roman with the planning and getting Logan and Patton to help them, without the emo present.

By the time he got back to the library after the planning session he had a little over and hour to study before it closes.  

When he had finally arrived at his dorm after all that it was nearing ten o’clock. Dexter had to stop at a nearby fast food place to grab an unhealthy dinner since the dorm kitchen was closed. This time Patton was there in their dorm, already preparing for bed. Exhausted, Dexter decided to skip dinner, putting his take out in the fridge and crawling into bed as well.

 

 

This went on over the next few days, back and forth between his studies, school, and assisting Roman. Now Dexter had to include helping Roman with his already overflowing workload. He was falling behind, which was cutting into his sleep schedule, which was messing with his productivity. He was happy to help Roman, but he wished he had asked him before finals week.

Even with all the stress, he had managed to make it work. He had just finished his last day of finals, and was rewarding himself with a nap. Other than his occasional spacing out, interruptive thoughts, and tired brain, Dexter thinks he did alright. Definitely didn’t fail any of them, but definitely didn’t ace them either. Ah puns, Patton’s rubbing off on him, Logan wouldn’t be pleased. 

After tomorrow he’d finally be able to relax and hibernate until the next semester.

 

 

At eleven am the next day, Logan delivered the note to send Virgil on the hunt. According to his text in the group chat, it took a while for Virgil agree to going on this hunt.

The first clue was in Patton and Dexter’s dorm, specifically the fridge he always raided for soda. A little doodle of a fridge and lemonade ginger ale led him there. Once he arrive, Patton was there to give him the next clue.

The second was at the coffee shop where Dexter first told them about his writing. Hinted at by the drawing of a coffee cup, a notebook, and a snake. When he arrived, Dexter was sitting in the booth, a cup off coffee and a note for Virgil.

The third clue was a picture of a ticket booth and a theater. With an annoyed groan, Virgil left to go after the next clue. Once he was gone Dexter left to help with the final step.

The fourth clue was a giant red, paper sign taped over the ticket booth sign on the side of the school theater. On the giant sign were the words: Go Where We First Met - R, accompanied with the drawings of a desk and a chair, and musical notes. Virgil smiled when he saw those words, because he knew that this was such a Roman kind of thing to do for his twentieth birthday.

He knew exactly where to go next from there. Heading the building right next to the theater, Virgil walked up to the floor where the drama room was. When he entered, he was slightly disappointed to find it empty. But in the center of the room was a lone laptop with a CD right next to it and a note that said “Play Me”.

Doing as the note said, he played the video and on came the song they had met to. American Idiot. As the song played on, bold letters came on the screen, detailing their story, as if he didn’t already now it.

They had met during Virgil’s audition to play in the band for the American Idiot Musical. The theater was busy that day, so auditions were held in the Drama room. 

Roman had been there to pick up the materials he had forgotten after class.

And that’s where he saw him.

Virgil hadn’t noticed him watching, too entranced in the song. But he did notice when a buffoon tripped over a chair and interrupted his audition.

Virgil chuckled when he read those words, remembering when that happened. He had sworn that he’d failed the audition because of a clumsy stranger. And a little more than pissed.

Virgil Black got the part and was sent to rehearsal four days a week. It was there that he got to know Roman Sanchez. 

What started as a silly rivalry soon turned to an awkward friendship. Which then turned to the friendship of a lifetime.

But as time went on, and the two entered into their second year of college, Roman’s feelings began to change.  He wanted something more.

Virgil’s breath got caught in his throat. His heart began to beat faster. 

But Virgil seemed content with what they had and denied any attempts by Roman.

Roman could have given up and move on, but he wanted this to much to do so.

And I still do.

Will you go out with me, Virgil?

Virgil was in tears as he heard the song fade away, leaving him in silence, staring at a blank screen.

“Will you?” Roman’s voice sounded behind him.

Virgil whipped around to see Roman walking in from the teacher’s office. Having been hiding there the entire time until his cue. Virgil breathed heavily as he hastily rubbed at his eyes, trying to hide the fact that he had been crying.

“Couldn’t you have asked me like a normal person?” He bit back harshly, but Roman new he was simply embarrassed. 

“Would you have said yes?” He asked him, walking over slowly.

“Yes!” He shouted, still hiding his face in his hands, unable to stop the tears. “Princey I thought you were just kidding this entire time, I knew that you had a long history of dating guys so I thought you weren’t being serious.”

“That was back in high school.” He told him softly, kneeling down to his height, gently taking Virgil’s hands from his face. “I’ve never been more serious about anyone.” Virgil looked up at him slowly, eyes puffy and red. Roman thought it was absolutely adorable. “Virgil Black, will you go out with me?”

“Of course, stupid.” He said back, another round of tears falling, but he wasn’t the only one, as Roman began to cry as well. 

Dexter watched from the doorway, the rest in tow with him. They all silently cheered for their two friends, happy that their dumb tension was finally relieved.

“It’s about time.” Logan stated, leaning against the hallway wall, not needing to spy on them to know what happened.

“This was a really good idea, Dee.” Patton said to him gratefully, tears were also in his eyes as he watched from the doorway.

Nope, I’m not glad they-” suddenly the buzzing of his cell in his back pocket stopped that train of thought. Good thing Dexter had made sure they put all of their phones on vibrate as to not disturb the new couple. 

Pulling out his phone he felt his hand go limp once he saw the Caller ID. The device fell from his fingers in what felt like slow motion. The sound of the crash alerted everyone around them. Pat and Lo were there first to ask him what was wrong, Roman and Virgil following a second after, their moment now forgotten.

They all asked what was the matter, concern washing over them as he didn’t say anything. However, they all went silent once they heard the fake sweet voice of his mother leaving a message on his phone.

“Hello Dexter, It’s your mother. I called to let you know that your Father, sister, and I will be visiting your campus before the start of the next to talk with all your professors. And of course to see you, haha. Please prepare for our arrival. Also, don’t trouble yourself with visiting us for Christmas, were sure you’d like to enjoy your break by yourself as you do with everything else. See you soon.”

The line went dead, the buzzing the only sound being made. The others looked to each other in confusion and concern. Dexter still said nothing. Picking up his phone he walked away, ignoring the calls directed at him from his friends.

Dexter didn’t mean to interrupt the moment or kill the mood, but he had to leave. He could allow his negativity to affect the rest of them.

His parents were always skeptical of him becoming a writer and tried to discourage him from doing so. It wasn’t because they weren’t sure he’d be successful, even they could see his talent for it, but rather because they were scared of his mind’s creation. His parents have always been frightened of the things he enjoyed, of the things he’d imagine, of him. They were worried that his writing would influence others to be like him, that they’d no longer be able to keep his existence in the dark.

But when Dexter came here, it was because he convinced them that he’d only use his skills to write non-fiction. He’d lied about it, but it was the only way to gain their support. However, if he failed a single class, or if they got a word from his professors about his writing, they’d take him out of school and he’d be forced to work in his dad’s shop.

In the back, stacking and unloading, hidden from the world so that no one could see the monster they had brought into the world.

Chapter Text

They all watched as he walked away, calling his name but receiving no answer. The four of them didn’t know what to say or to do to keep him from walking away. So they did nothing, looking at each other for an answer of what to do. 

Logan decided their best bet was to wait for him to come back to the dorms on his own.

Three hours passed since Dexter had walked off after the voicemail, and he had yet to return. Their room was the first place Patton and the others had checked, in case he had arrived there first, but there was no sign that he had been there. They took extra care looking for Dexter, in the shower, in the closet, and under the beds, he still wasn’t there. Roman was the next to suggest they check the coffee shop, but sadly had no luck. Logan then gave the following suggestion and led them to the library, where they looked and asked around. Dexter hadn’t been there either.

By the time they decided to head back the sun was already beginning to set on the horizon. When walking through the parking lot Roman noticed that his buggy was gone, meaning that he had left the campus. Patton started to openly panic at the news. 

“Oh, it’s getting colder by the minute.” Patton whined as he looked out the window as the sky became darker. “The coat he was wearing wasn’t very thick and he’s so sensitive to the cold!”

“Come on Pat, Lies and Dolls should be fine. The car heater will be keep him warm until we find him.” Roman said to the worried dad, trying to calm him.

“Actually Dexter told me that the heater broke and won’t be fixed until Monday.” Logan corrected him, but when he noticed Patton’s breathing get heavier and more frantic he quickly back tracked. “Ah, but he has an emergency blanket and supplies in his trunk! And stores are still open, he could be taking refuge somewhere.”

That made Patton feel slightly better, but he was still scared that his youngest son might be lost or hurt somewhere, or worse...

“What if he doesn’t comeback?” Virgil voiced his thoughts suddenly, curling up on Dexter’s bed as he would usually do on Patton’s. “Do you think whatever his mom said scared him away for good?”

Everyone looked to Virgil in surprise, making the emo flinch in embarrassment and shame. That thought hadn’t occurred to any of them. Dexter may very weird and likes to hid away from the world at times while under stress, but he always came back eventually once he felt better.

“No that can’t be it, look.” Logan spoke up, pointing over at Dexter’s terrarium, “Dee Dee is still in there. If he had actually left for good he wouldn’t leave her behind.”

Pointing that fact out made everyone ease up a bit, but Virgil still didn’t look too hopeful. Patton, being the only other one as visibly shaken up, went over and sat next to him, rubbing his shoulder gently.

“I’m scared too kiddo, but he’ll come back. Eventually.” He said, mustering up all of his strength to give a reassuring smile. But Virgil could still see doubt and fear in his eyes.

Each of them there had spent the past year getting to know each other and their stories. They’ve grown close and formed a life long friendship, and hopefully relationships too. That’s why when each of them learned that Patton was getting a new room mate they had become worried someone would take him away. Roman and Virgil shared a dorm room together, Logan lived with his folks in the city, so keeping an eye on him was not always possible. 

So when Patton became persistent in including Dexter in their group they had been skeptical at first. But as they got to know him and once he opened up to them, it was clear that he too would be a life long friend. Even so, how well did they truly know him? 

What if he didn’t see them in the same way? Would he ever really leave without a word?

Suddenly, two warm hands clasped onto his and brought Virgil out of his pessimistic thoughts. Looking up from his lap he met Roman’s compassionate gaze staring right at him.

“It’ll be okay, love.” Roman said, his voice low, “In the mean time, let’s all go look again.” Virgil nodded, keeping his head down to hide the red that was surly flushing his cheeks.

Roman, Virgil, and Patton then headed out to search some more, taking Roman’s red Audi. Logan stayed behind in the room to contact them in case Dexter came home on his own.

Roman drove cautiously through the snow drift to avoid sliding on ice. The car’s brights were kept on while they searched to they could get a better look at their surroundings, but were turned down whenever a car passed as to not blind the other driver.

They went up and down the city streets closest to the University before branching out. Searching aimlessly as they scoured the sidewalks for a man that looked like Dexter, or a yellow Volkswagen bug that looked like his model. They peered into store and restaurant windows as they drove by, not actually going in order to not prolong the search.

Holding his cell tightly in his grip, Virgil called Dexter for the eighth time since they got in the car, but was sent to voice mail again after hearing it ring a dozen times.

“Love, that has to be the tenth time you called him. His phone is probably dead or on silent.” Roman said to him from the wheel, Virgil sitting beside him in the front seat.

“Or he’s ignoring me.” Virgil muttered.

“Nonsense kiddo, you’re brother wouldn’t do that to you.” Patton chimed in from the seat behind Roman.

“Or he is.” He grumbled under his breath, putting his phone in his pocket and turning his gaze back to the window.

“Sweetheart, you don’t know that.” Roman attempted but was interrupted quickly when Virgil raised his voice back at him.

“Yeah I don’t, because out of all of us here I’m the one he cares about the least!”

The car came to a slow stop when they hit a red light at an intersection. Roman and Patton both turned their heads to Virgil in surprise. The emo huffed and crossed his legs under his jacket, pulling the stings on his hoodie to close the hood over his eyes.

“You all get along with Dee so well. You were his first friend, Logan connects with him over their tutoring nerd shit, and you and him are so creative that it’s natural for you to get along.” Virgil confessed, gesturing to both Patton and Roman respectively when he mentioned their bonding with Dexter. “We have nothing in common. He loves horror and gore, but that stuff just gives me anxiety. He likes snakes and reptiles but I like cats. I never know what talk to him about, I can’t even talk to him about his writing because when I read his last story it gave me a panic attack but I was too embarrassed to tell him. How can I call myself friends with him?”

Roman and Patton looked at each other in worry before turning back to Virgil, listening as he gave his uncertain monologue. They hadn’t been aware that he had been feeling guilty about not being able to connect well with Dexter, because they all thought that both of their love for all things spooky already made the two of them great friends. Apparently that’s not how Virgil saw it.

Roman was about to say something, reaching out a hand, but was stunted again when a soft knock came from outside the passenger window. Everyone in the car turned to looked at the knocker knocking and were surprised to see it was actually Dexter himself. He was draped in a blanket and covered in a small layer of snow. His skin was an unholy pale shade and his lips were turning blue.

“Would you mind not giving me a ride?” He smiled.

Hearing his signature speech impediment they all immediately hopped out of the car crying, “Dexter!”. Virgil was the first to wrap his arms around the snaky boy, followed by Patton then Roman, who had to get around the car. All of the sudden each of them started to spew questions and talking over each other.

“Where have you been, Dee? We were worried sick!”

“Why the fuck weren’t you answering you’re fucking phone?”

“Why are you here? Where’s you’re car?”

“Language! But seriously, why did you run off?”

“Why didn’t you come back?”

“Did we do something wrong?”

Dexter’s head began to spin from all the questions that were shot at him all at the same time, and the fact that they were hugging him a little too hard. 

Out of nowhere a loud horn honked at them and they all turned to see that a car had pulled up behind them, waiting for them to move so he could continue down the road.

“Can’t you see we’re having a moment, shitbag?!” Virgil yelled at the driver. The driver honked at them once more before going around them and rolling the window down as they went past.

“Assholes!” The older man shouted at them and drove away.

“Fuck you!” Virgil shouted back, flipping the car off, ignoring Patton as he lectured him about cussing again.

“I’m not sorry, but my car didn’t break down and my phone isn’t dead.” Dexter explained after getting air back in his lungs when they let go to confront the car. “I wasn’t walking back when I didn’t see a normal car parked at a green light.”

“What do you mean normal? Casey is an awesome car.” Roman defended for his Audi.

“Yes, unusual.” Dexter scoffed, trying to be sarcastic, but just confused everyone. “Always mind. Anyway, can you not give my car a jump?”

“When you’ve been out here for hours? No way!” Patton sternly refused, pushing Dexter towards the car door, “You are coming home right now!”

“But my car-”

“Can wait until tomorrow, amigo.” Roman told him, getting into the car as well. “Where’d you park it?”

Not in front of the reptile shop.” They all gave him a stage look. “L-looking at snakes calms me down.”

“Okay he’s not normal. Let’s get back so we can get him warmed up.” Virgil said from the back seat, letting Dexter be in the front so he could be closer to the heater.

Patton called Logan and told him that they were on their way back with Dexter, and to prepare a heater and blankets for when hey arrived. The car ride back was swift, but not too rushed, and they pulled into the parking lot fifteen minutes later. Everyone helped Dexter get out of the car and into the elevator. Normally Dexter would have refuse to use the elevator, but Patton wasn’t having it and would not let him walk up three flights of stairs.

When they walked into room 203, several blankets were set on Dexter’s bed like a nest, and a small heater was set next to the bed on the desk. Logan immediate walked over and pulled Dexter over to sit in the blanket nest, and keeled in front of him to check his body for any frostbite, starting with the hands and face.

“Just like a mother hen.” Roman mumbled, but went ignored.

When Logan finished his examination he let out a relived sigh and stood up. “Only some minor frost nip on the ears, cheeks and hands.” He said before suddenly cupping Dexter’s cheeks in his hands. “Treatment includes holding the nipped body part against warm skin, and blowing on it.”

Dexter quickly pulled away before Logan could attempt the latter treatment, extremely uncomfortable with having the other’s hands all over him.

“Or I couldn’t wrap myself in a blanket.” Dexter said instead, scooching a tad away.

“Mind you mother, Dee.” Patton said as he sat down next to him.

“Patton, don’t encourage it.”

“Why? You’re obviously the mom of this group!” Roman joined in. “You always lecture us about our diet and exercise-”

“Because I don’t want you to die.”

“Like a mom!”

Thus a friendly argument broke out among the three of them. Patton and Roman listed off all the motherly things he does, and Logan fervently denying them, saying he was just he was just being considerate, then Roman saying that’s exactly why he’s the mom. 

While the others got distracted by their fighting, or as Patton calls it, discussing--or as Logan calls it, debating--Virgil walked over and quietly sat down next to Dexter.

“You feeling better?” He asked, albeit a bit awkwardly.

No, I’m feeling awful.” The still shivering boy replied.

“Good.” Virgil said simply, seemingly dropping the conversation, but Dexter noticed him continue to twitch and didn’t know why that was.

“How about you?” He asked in turn. Virgil jolted slightly, as if he didn’t expect to be asked that, and continued to avoid eye contact. After a few moments, the others still debating in the background, Virgil spoke again without looking up.

“Were friends right?” Virgil questioned hushedly. Dexter barely caught what he had said, but was surprised by the question.

“Do you see us as such?” Dexter asked, slightly hurt.

“No, I do!” Virgil said quickly, finally looking up at him, “I just thought that you didn’t think of me as much of a friend as the others.”

“Of course I don’t, what didn’t give you that idea?” Virgil only shrugged in response, not willing to talk any further. Dexter didn’t want to press further, or more so he didn’t know how to ask, so he let it go. The emo had always been the only other socially awkward friend in the group, Logan wasn’t awkward he was inept so he didn’t count, but Dexter always found comfort in that. 

Did Virgil not feel the same way about him?

“Why’d you leave?” He suddenly spoke again staring at his phone, acting like he didn’t just ask a question. But he asked loud enough for the others to hear and stop their discussion.

All eyes turned to him when he didn’t reply, peering into him questioningly with their questioning questions. Dexter felt stumped on what to tell them without actively lying. He didn’t want to do that to them, but he also didn’t want to bother them with something so stupid.

“I’m not fine.” He said simply, wrapping the blankets tighter around him, trying to throw them off.

“That’s a lie.” Logan said in a terse manner. Dexter winched slightly, knowing he was caught lying so easily. He tried to hide from them in a cocoon of blankets, but Patton stopped him from doing so.

“Dexter.” That was the first time he’s ever use his full name. “What’s wrong?”

Chapter Text

“Dexter, what’s wrong?”

 

 

All conversation then ceased, and the tension thickened to where it was that afternoon when this had started. The atmosphere refusing Dexter the air he so desperately needed right now. He hadn’t told them about his parents, he hoped that he would never have to. Not because he didn’t trust them not to judge, but because he would rather not relive those memories. 

It’s not like they were abuse.

“They were abusive.”

They never physically hurt him.

“They did physically hurt me.”

They just wished he was never born.

“They’re glad I was born.”

Virgil leaned into his shoulder lightly and Patton walked over to him, kneeling by the bed and resting a hand on his arm.

“Who are ‘they’?” He asked in a soft, but firm and concerned voice.

All of them listened for his next words as if they were the most important thing they’d ever hear in their lifespans. Surrounding him, Virgil sat on his left on the bed, Patton sat on the ground beside him, Logan sat on the side  by his legs, and Roman sat at the foot of the bed.

Not my parents.”

 

 

Dexter had been born on February 3 in the year 1999 at three O’clock in the morning, keeping his mother up almost the entire night. He hadn’t been planned, in truth his parents were actually using protection, and he had been the one out of seven chance of it failing.

They had to learn how to be parents in a rush, mom still in college, and dad learning his father’s trade so he could inherit the family business. They often left him in daycare or with a babysitter, avoiding the fact that they had a child to take care of. So by the time he said his first word, they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

“Lie!” Dexter cried happily, sitting in his high chair as his mother fed him breakfast, waiting for his sitter to arrive so she could go to school.

“Did he just speak?” His dad asked from his chair, setting down his fork full of scrambled eggs.

“I-I think he did.” His mother agreed.

But there was no happiness in that moment, because what he had said was a word not frequently used around him. His parents decided to blame the babysitter for letting him watching questionable TV, fired her, and hired a new one. Soon enough the forgot that he could even speak, teaching him nothing, and letting Dexter learning everything himself in his small three year old mind.

His parents didn’t notice it, but by the time Dexter was five and entered Kindergarten, he was far behind everyone else. He couldn’t speak like everyone else, nor was he able to learn as fast. His parents decided to take him to speech therapy and get him an account online for a tutor, not bothering to help him themselves. The online tutor helped him catch up with his peers, and the therapy helped him with his pronunciation, but there was one thing that didn’t change, something his parents didn’t even noticed he had.

At his first parent teacher conference, his teacher Ms. Fay told them about his constant lying. Dexter’s mom became angry with her, saying that she was the liar and that she had raised Dexter better than to lie. But when she returned home with him that evening she finally noticed it herself, because for once she finally listened to him when he spoke.

“What is not for dinner?” Dexter asked her curiously from the doorway of the kitchen. His mother looked at him in shock.

“It’s: ‘what is for dinner’, Dexter.” She told him.

“Not.”

“Is.”

“Not.”

“It’s: IS!” That was the first time she ever yelled at him.

That night, when Dexter was watching cartoons, he heard yelling from the kitchen. He got off the couch and moved his small legs over to the doorway to figure out what was going on. This was the first fight he saw his parents have.

“There’s something wrong with Dexter.” His mother told his father, but his father refused to believe it.

“And I’m saying that he’s just a child, he’s still learning how to talk.”

“This isn’t simply mispronouncing words, he’s changing his words into lies.”

“This is because you let him watch those mind dulling cartoons, maybe if you actually showed him educational videos then he wouldn’t be so stupid.”

They cut out his TV after that, he was only allowed to read books they gave him and watch only the news or nature documentaries. His visits to speech therapy became more frequent, but it didn’t do anything, and after a year of it his therapist told his parents to give up. They didn’t believe him and just took Dexter to a new one, same thing. And after he had gone through four different speech therapists at three different clinics, they finally realized that it wasn’t the doctors who were messed, up but it was their son.

Somehow, Dexter’s brain had been rewired to speak differently than everyone else. He understood words the same as everyone else, but what was processed in his head did a flip and came out the other way. When heard the word no, it meant ‘don’t do that; when he said no, it meant ‘do that’. Doctors didn’t know how to fix him, and neither did his parents. Eventually they admitted the fact that their son was different and stopped trying, but they never forgot, and that seemed to push them away from him even more so.

Two things happened in the year he turned nine years old. First, his parents downloaded Netflix on the family computer, where had used to take online tutoring. Second, his parents tried for another child, and succeed.

His baby sister was born October 1, in 2008, at five in the evening. Not keeping their mother up. They had been trying for a while and were elated when they found out they were going to have a child. His mother asked for maternal leave, his father had his employees take over for a while. When they brought her home they had a room already set up for her, painted pretty pink with dresses hanging in the closet. They read her stories to bed, sang to her, and watched her every move.

The room they had given his sister Daisy was his, and they moved him up into the attic. They never used their Netflix account, because it was for him to watch and spend time away from them, and more importantly, away from Daisy.

When she said her first word, apple, they cheered. When she entered kindergarten they walked her to her class. Her teachers praised her skill and talent for being so young. His parents told them it was because of their parenting. When she said anything, they listened. They loved her and cherished her.

All the while, Dexter went to school, got bullied and bad grades, and they never batted an eye. It was around the time he was entering his first year of middle school, when he was eleven years old, that he discovered something other than documentaries. He found Horror. The first one he watched was The Shining, and that’s where he fell in love. Dexter never like the supernatural horror genre, he preferred the physiological horror. His parents hadn’t noticed a thing, and he had kept it hidden all the way until he was thirteen.

This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and they finally paid attention to him again. They let him watch cartoons, ready silly books, and get fun games; but that stuff no longer interested him. He found it all dull and lack luster. He began to crave suspense, mystery, and horror. His parents took him back to therapy.

His parents didn’t get the answers they wanted to explain what was wrong with their son. He wasn’t a sociopath, he didn’t have a disorder.

“This could be due to the notion of catharsis, meaning he watches violent and frightening films as a way of purging negative emotions and/or as a way to relieve pent-up aggression.” His doctor had explained to them. Dexter’s mother had been upset and unsettled, his father had been angry.

“What does he mean ‘pent-up aggression’?” His father scoffed as he drove them home. “What on earth could have you so upset that you decided to watch stuff like that?”

“I do know.” Dexter shrugged from the back seat.

“Well?” His father asked impatiently. “What is it then?”

“I do know.”

“Answer your father.” His mother told him sternly.

“I haven’t told you, I do know!”

“It’s: DON’T!” His father screamed at him from the driver’s seat. “When will you finally get it through your thick skull that you’re saying it wrong?”

They got rid of the Netflix that night.

Years passed and Dexter hid himself away from them, not speaking unless spoken to, never questioning them, and never doing anything that would upset him. His parents kept him at a distance, and Daisy grew up barely knowing she even had a brother.

Dexter no longer had his movies, no longer had his shows, he was forbidden from both renting library books and the family computer. The only thing he was able to read was a few books on car mechanics, the history of the automobile, life of reptiles, and others given to him by teachers for class. He had read each book more than twice and still had nothing else to do. 

This had continued over the next few years and into high school. When he was at school he’d spend all of his free time reading what he wanted, living for the suspense and murders; but when he came home he was restricted from almost everything. So he studied, did his homework, and asked for extra credit assignments. His grade began to rise for once, and his parents praised him for the first time.

“All B’s.” His father noted, looking over his report card, “Good job, you’re not a completely useless anymore. You might even graduate.”

Dexter had never felt so proud of himself than in that moment. 

Life had become a little easier, his parents even let him talk with his sister a bit more. When they were sat at the table his parents asked him yes or no question, to which he nodded or shook his head. His father even started to teach him how to fix cars so he could take over the business one day.

It started to feel like they were a family.

That is, until Junior year. For a while, ever since freshman year, Dexter had been writing stories in his notebooks. Short stories about things like a mysterious fog that appeared and killed people, or about a serial killer who went after agents of the testing center he had been raised in, or about a town plagued with mass hallucinations. He had hidden his writing from his teachers, peers, and especially his parents. For the first time in his life it felt like they might actually love him, and he did’t want to lose that.

But for some reason he had thought it was a brilliant idea to take creative writing as an elective, and when he received is first assignment to write a five hundred word short, Dexter hadn’t even thought twice about writing horror. After all, this was at school, his parents would find out. However, it turned out that his teacher was so disturbed that he had emailed his parents his writing and suggested they take him to see help.

They were not happy.

His father stormed his way into the attic, tore apart his room and found all of his notebooks and journals, discovering all of his stories. His mother was appalled at what she read, and his father was furious.

“Just when I started to think you could be normal for once, you go and do something like this? What kind of sick and twisted person thinks that any of this is interesting?” He roared at Dexter.

“I wasn’t just having a bit of f-fun.” Dexter tried to explain.

“Fun?” His mother repeated, “How is this fun for you? Are you crazy?”

“I’m not sorry! I was just-”

“Stop talking like that!” His father yelled, “Stop talking at all! Stop doing anything!”

“Why can’t you be more like Daisy?” His mother questioned.

“Why are you so messed up?”

“Why aren’t you normal?”

“Why are you a freak?”

Dexter didn’t say anything. He didn’t cry. He didn’t get angry. He stood there as his parents forced him to watch them burn his writing. He listened as they screamed at them. He paid attention as they grieved about what they had brought into the world. He loved them as they said they hated him.

He did everything to them that they never did to him. Because he knew they were right. 

Lies. Stupid. Wrong. Useless. Sick. Twisted. Crazy. Messed up. Not Normal. Freak.

He was all of these things they said he was.

When Dexter had entered college it was to become an English teacher. His parents didn’t know he was taking creative writing, they would never allow it if they knew, so he didn’t tell them.

He had lied so many times, what difference did one more make?

 

 

“All the difference in the world!” Patton exclaimed, violently hugging him, “You’re not a liar Dee! You’re not any of those things! Don’t believe a word they said.”

“Yeah man!” Roman agreed, “There’s no way you’re anything like that!” The dramatic off-brand Disney prince told the cliche neglected main character of a fan fiction. “You are so much more than that.”

Logan spoke up next, fixing the placement of his glasses, saying, “Indeed, while you do have an impediment, that does not make any less of a person. You’re environment in which you were raised as a child was neglectful and self taught. You couldn’t help your situation, but that doesn’t mean you’re at fault.” 

Dexter looked down to his lap, unable to reach their gazes anymore. He didn’t want them to pity him or to define him by what happened a while ago. He had taken care of himself for so long that letting someone in, let alone four people, was a heavy weight to bare. Dee hid his face in his knees, soaking the cloth of his trousers with the stray tears he couldn’t hold back. He wrapped himself into a tight ball, holding his arms close to his chest. Virgil hugged his left side, Patton hugged his right, Roman waddled over and laid his arms over all three of them, while Logan just rested his hand on his back. 

Dexter tried to pull away from their embrace, but was trapped between them and the bed’s headboard. He appreciated what they were doing, he really did, but he couldn’t help but feel like he’s being a burden by telling them all this.

“We don’t think of you like that!” Virgil voiced, his voice low to hide the running emotions he was trying, and failing to hide. Whoops, did he say that out loud? “We may not have been through what you have, but we’ve all had bad experiences. So don’t you dare think of yourself as a burden.”

Dexter nodded his head into his knees, feeling the others back off slightly, but he still didn’t look up. Logan reached over and brought his head back up, pulling his arm back and gazing at him with a soft face. 

“You are not the cause of your situation, you are the product. What that means, however, is up to you and you alone. We can offer comfort and a hand when you fall down, but it’s you who have to decide for yourself: Are you what others say you are, or what you say you are?

Dexter sniffled, rubbing away the snot that falling down from his nose. He breathed heavily, and let the tears fall freely, no longer holding them back. He’s denied how he felt for so long, lying to even himself and saying that he was fine, because he thought that was what would make his parents happy. But it didn’t make him happy. It was about time he confronted his emotions.

He knew it wouldn't be easy. Years of junk can’t realistically be cleaned away in just a few days, a week, or even a month. It would take time, but once he set his mind on it and accepted himself for who he was, not who his parents wanted, then he’d be able to heal.

“I’m not who I say I am.”

Chapter Text

It was getting harder to get out of bed these days. What with class being out for the next three weeks finally allowing him to sleep in as, and the freezing cold hell that awaited him outside the thick blankets. But alas, he had to get up. 

Moving as fast as he could to avoid the cold as much as he could, Dexter slipped out of bed and went to the shower and turned the faucet on the hottest setting, so it would be warm when he got in, ran back into the room and grabbed a change of clothes, then practically threw himself under the waterfall of scalding heat. The soles of his feet stung as they touched both the chill bottom of the tub and the boiling water running past them. Dexter shifted around to try to distribute the pain, but was restricted from moving too far away from the shower’s stream in order to avoid the icy air. After a few minutes the room warmed up and Dexter was able sit down and enjoy his shower. Was he the only one who liked to sit down when showering? Maybe that was another item to add to the list of why he’s abnormal.

Dexter quickly stopped that thought. The others would be angry if they knew he was thinking like that. They were such a help in his battle with self deprecation that he didn’t even know he was fighting. When you’ve been called names and told that you’re a bad person your entire life it’s hard to notice when you’re being self deprecating, because you’re so used to it that it becomes the truth in your head. But what the others, Patton and Logan especially, have taught him is that people’s opinion of you doesn’t always translate to reality. So, what Dexter has decided to do to help those thoughts is to ‘meditate’ on them in a way. Dexter’s had enough of therapists to last a lifetime, but he does agree with some of their therapy, so he just uses an app.

Finding it easier to relax in the shower, Dexter simply listens to a voice direct him whilst nature sounds a played. There are breathing exercises, thinking exercises, and much more that helps him with tuning down his negative thinking. Logan was the one who downloaded this app on his phone and set up an account for him. Apparently he had spent a few hours looking through different types of self-help apps until he decided this one was the best for Dexter. Dexter would still get those intrusive thoughts, and sometimes he wasn’t able to talk himself out of his negative thinking easily, but it really did help him. The only important thing was that he was trying to get better.

After about fifteen minutes in the shower, about three of them spent complaining about having to leave; Dexter shut off the water and quickly swiped his towel of the rack and dried off. Stepping out of the tub he wrapped the towel around his waist and reached into his drawer to grab his blow dryer. Usually Dexter liked to air dry his hair, but he didn’t feel like dying of hypothermia today. Funny thing is that after drying his hair, Dexter also dried his skin with the dryer just to warm up a little before getting dressed. Call him weird, he was finally embracing it as a good thing.

This outfit today consisted of a pair of black slacks, a dark grey, long-sleeve button up, and the yellow pair of gloves from his Halloween costume, since they were the only gloves he owned and looked quite dashing on him if he did say so himself. 

Cracking the tiny window open and turning on the fan, Dee shut the bathroom door behind him and went back into him room. Patton was away having a breakfast date with Logan, so he had the room to himself for the next few hours.

First things first, Dexter decided to feed Dee Dee. Since corn snakes only had to eat once or twice a week, he had reserved feeding day to Monday, which was today. Now, if you were a luck snake owner, your snake would eat whatever you gave them. Dee Dee, however, was a brat. He loved her, but she was a brat. Dee Dee would eat only if the frozen mouse was warmed in the microwave, dipped in blood, and held in front of her face; she wouldn’t go anywhere near crickets. It was a pain to feed her, but it had to be done.

After that was settled and taken care of, he decided to venture out in the cold and get some tea at his favorite shop, maybe get some work done there as well. The five of them weren’t supposed to meet until noon to have their gift exchange and Christmas party, which was being held in Roman and Virgil’s dorm this time, so he still had a little more time to himself.

Walking to his side of the closet, Dexter pulled out a thick, black peacoat and a checkered scarf to keep warm. Grabbing his wallet and keys, he headed down to the parking lot and got in his bug. The day after Dexter had got stuck out in the cold with his car parked outside the reptile shop, Both Logan and Patton had offered to go jump start it and bring it back for him, as both wanted him to stay in bed and not push himself. Those two really were almost like a mother and father to him.

Plugging his aux cord into his phone, Dee listened to Melanie Martinez and Billie Eilish on his way to the coffee shop, both of them queens to him. The ride was quick as there was no traffic on the road, yet slow as he was trying not to slide on black ice. He pulled up into an easy parking space right outside the front, next to a handicap spot.

Walking to the shop Dexter was meant with the comforting warmth of the building’s heaters, and his nose was invaded by the sweet and succulent smell of coffee and honey. The line to the counter was not that long, only two people ahead of him, a male and a female. The female was currently ordering a peppermint latte from the teenager behind the register. The male after him, and before Dexter, was, for some reason, wearing sunglasses and scrolling through his phone. Once the woman left, the man walked up with a confidence that could only possibly be matched by Roman. And in a clear, smooth, but upbeat voice ordered a caramel cappuccino with a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of chocolate. Once he had his order written down and paid for, he turned around to take a seat. Their eyes met for a brief moment as he went by, Dexter took note of the color of his hair. A virbrant purple.  

A moment passed without him noticing, the annoyed barista had to call him in question to bring him back to the present. 

“Oh not sorry,” Dexter apologized, “May I not have a small green tea with a bit of sugar?” 

The barista, Melissa according to her name tag, looked thoroughly annoyed with the way he was speaking to her, but said nothing to his face, grumbling as she wrote down the order on the cup. 

“Name?” She asked.

Not Dexter.”

The teen raised an eyebrow and rolled her eyes, telling him to sit and wait for his drink, as if he was a small child who needed help to do anything. Dexter was used to this kind of treatment, that’s why he tried his best to limit talking to strangers s much as he could whenever he went out. 

Turning back to the tables and booths Dexter started for his and his friends’ favorite spot, only to find that it was occupied by the mysterious man who was in line before him. Dexter didn’t want to be rude and ask him to move to a new booth, but he also really wanted to sit there. So, trying his absolute best not to look like a total creep, Dee walked to the booth directly next to the usual one, and sat in the closest seat to it, less than a foot away from the other person. This felt awkward on so many levels, he wanted nothing more than to quickly get his drink and run away from this place and burn this awkward moment from his memory permanently.

“Well I’m honored that you think I’m so memorable, I tend to have that affect.” The man spoke from behind him, making Dexter yelp and jump back a little. Whipping around in his seat, Dexter realized that the stranger was turned towards him as well.

Yes- I mean, uh, I was talking about you, I wasn’t thinking of something else and- and I-” What the fuck am I doing? I look like an idiot! Stop rambling! 

Dexter tried desperately to think of a coherent excuse, but instead just shout out words vomit of pure awkwardness and regret. Eventually he was able to shut up, but only when he forcibly slapped his hand over his own mouth. However the other didn’t seem to mind his dumb talking, grinning at him the entire time.

Not sorry, I wasn’t thinking out loud.” Dexter explained, looking down at his pants.

“No sweat girl, no hard feelings.” He told him, “I like the way you talk.”

“Huh?” Dexter voiced, taken aback, “But I don’t speak wrong. I’m not hard to understand.”

“Nah, it’s adorable, like it’s opposite day on repeat for you.” Dexter screamed him his head. What the hell was happening?!

“Oh, uh, no thank you...” He murmured shyly.

“No problem,” He smiled honestly. A name was called from the front, he got up. “Well, hope to see you again...” He lingered on the last word, asking for a name.

“Dexter.” 

His eyes lit up.

“Remy.” 

He walked away, grabbing his drink, leaving the store with a quick wave. Dexter didn’t wave back.

...

The sound of Jim Carry's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas played in the background. They sat around a video of a fire in a fireplace on a tablet in the center of the room. Patton had made all of them a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and snickerdoodles. Before they were to give each other their main gift, they had decided to play some Christmas games. They played Life, Candy Land, and, currently, Secret Santa.

“I had you Virgil,” Logan began, “So I thought it was appropriate to get you a gift card for some audible books.”

“Wow that’s- alright I guess.” Virgil said, taking the card into his hands and acting as if it were nothing special.

“And I had you Logan, so I wrote a story about you helping Sherlock in his greatest mystery yet.” Roman said with glee, handing his cell phone over to the motherly nerd.

“This is a self insert on Wattpad.”

“Yep!” Roman said in excitement, “Do you love it?”

“It is adequate I suppose.” Cue Roman becoming offensive.

“Well I got Dexter,” Patton said with cheer, bringing out a small gift bag, “So I made you and Dee Dee matching sweaters!”

Looking looked into the bad with interest and pulled out a large black, orange, and yellow stripped sweater, with a mini matching tube sweater. It was the cutest thing he ever did see.

“My goodness, I hate it!” Dexter said with a slight squeal of excitement. “I’m sure Dee Dee will hate it to!” As if she was waiting for her cue, Dee Dee slivered out of Dexter’s sleeve, winding her little noodle body around his hand. The others looked on in surprise.

“You brought Dee Dee here?” Virgil questioned.

“Of course not, this’ll be the last time she’ll be able to see any of you for two weeks and she gets attached easily. Right, Dee Dee?” The small corn snake stuck out her tongue and booped her snoot against his thumb. Everyone ‘awe’d at her cuteness. “Here, I didn’t get Roman.” 

Roman took the wrapped gift from Dexter’s outstretched hands, and tore it open. Underneath the paper was a box, wow. Opening the box, Roman reached it and pulled out two items, an adult coloring book and a package of over fifty different colored pencils.

“Ah, thanks ‘Fibbiler’ On the Roof.”

“You’re not welcome.”

And that left only Virgil to give his gift.

“Sorry I uh- just got you this card.” He murmured, practically throwing the card at Patton. Dexter didn’t know what the card said, but it must have been interesting because at first Patton looked concerned, then brilliantly happy.

“Aha, I love it!” 

“Really?” Virgil asked for confirmation. Patton nodded his head eagerly.

Thus their party games and gift exchange had ended and they all settled down to continue watching the movie. It was quarter to three now, Patton’s plane took off at five and he’d have to leave in an hour. Roman’s would start his two hour drive to his parents’ house at about the same time. Once they’d all leave Logan decided that he too would head to his parents house to stay the week. Dexter sat there in his thoughts, ignoring the movie, wondering what he’d do alone for the remaining time until everyone was back.

Dexter was used to solitude; it’s all he’s ever known for the majority of his life, but for some reason now he couldn’t stand the thought of it. He had gotten so used to being around his friends that the thought of them separating for even a little bit felt suffocating. 

Then a question popped into his head. What about Virgil? He wasn’t visiting any family over the break, just like him, the emo would be stuck in the dorms until everyone got back. Which brought another question to his head:

Why wasn’t Virgil visiting his family?

Chapter Text

The past two weeks with, mostly, only two-fifths of the group was surprisingly interesting for him. Right from the get go it was unlike any other break that Dexter has ever had. Patton and Roman were outside of the city, Logan was to spend the entirety of Christmas day with his family. So, obviously, Dexter assumed his Christmas would be just as lonely as it usually was; as after his younger sister was born most of the money was spent showering her with presents while he spent most of the day alone on the sidelines.

He was incorrect. At nine a.m. on the dot there had been a knocking on his door. Dexter was already awake, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas in his pajamas, and was pleasantly surprised to find Virgil on his... hall-step?

The emo was also in his pajamas, his recently gifted headphones around his neck, and a black Panic!@TheDisco beanie on his head. In his arms was bags of microwaveable popcorn and bottles of various sodas.

“Vee!” He said cheerfully, stepping away from the door to let the other man in. The smaller, by half an inch, student walked in with no hesitation and made his way for his favorite spot on Patton’s bed. “What are you not doing here?”

“Not being a loser by spending Christmas alone.” He spoke up from his newly constructed nest of blankets, taking notice of the movie playing and settling in to watch.

Dexter was curious as to why he was alone as well as why he thought he was a loser for it, but didn’t voice his thoughts. Offering to make the popcorn, Virgil threw a bag for him to pop in the microwave. The non-slimy boy made an attempt to catch, but missed horribly, the bag flying completely past his outreached hands. He blushed a tiny bit from embarrassment when Virgil laughed. He was never really good when it came to hand eye coordination. 

In two minutes the two socially awkward friends sat watching Tim Burton movies, as it was pretty much the only thing they could agree upon, eating popcorn and drinking pop, ignoring the rest of the world together. One with social anxiety, the other was socially inept, a divinely made friendship. 

After the second movie Dexter busied himself and put in their next choice, Caroline, while Virgil ordered takeout Chinese, since if Dexter had been the one to call then the order would most likely not be made, or be messed up in some way. Forty minutes later the delivery person arrived with their meal in hand, and now it was Dexter’s turn. He didn’t want to do it, knowing the exchange would go horribly, but Virgil was still upset over having to make the phone call and refused to answer.

“Here’s your order--Kung pao shrimp, chow mein, fried rice, vegetable wontons, and red bean buns.” The young teenage girl read off the receipt, handing the food over to Dexter, who set it down on the ground in the center of the room. “That’d be $38.95.”

Dexter opened his wallet, pulling out his debit card, and handed it over without a word spoken. The girl eyed him curiously as she took the little piece of plastic, ran it, and gave it back.

“Thank you, sir.” She said to him, “Have a nice day.”

Dexter smiled and gave her two thumbs up, and closed the door with his foot. That was most definitely awkward. 

“Dude, you looked like a creep.” Virgil voice behind him, looking through the takeout boxes for his food.

“Yes, thank you Virgil I totally did know that.” Dee said sarcastically, turning away from the door and grabbing his own food.  

“You should take sign language, I doubt your impediment will travel there.” Virgil told him, mouth full of food.

“Maybe...” Dexter sighed, settling down again and pressing play on the remote, sucking them back into their movie marathon. 

Dexter and Virgil ended up watching six movies before midnight when the latter decided to head back to his dorm. Dee saw him out, walking with him to the elevator and bidding him goodbye before walking down the steps with a trash bag full of empty boxes, bottles, and popcorn bags. The dumpster was a short minute walk from the dorms, so he only covered up in a light jacket to keep him warm outside.  

Big mistake.

It was currently ten degrees Fahrenheit, about negative twelve Celsius, aka absolutely freezing. So what was supposed to be a brisk walk to the dumpster, turned into a frantic sprint through the snow there and back. Dexter didn’t even bother to lift the lid, he just threw the bag on top and ran back. The warm air inside the building hit him like a wave of purity and all things good, unlike the frosty hell out the door. 

Shaking the snow off his boots, he made his way back up the steps and to his room, switching on the heater on high when he came in. Checking on Dee Dee to make sure she was safe Dexter found her curled up on top of her heating pad under her heat lamp, enjoying the warmth. He wished he could be that content.

Changing out of his worn pajamas, with a quick hot shower in between, Dexter changed into a fresh set of night clothes and hopped into bed, opening a murder mystery book that Logan had given him.

Later the next morning, Dexter woke to the sound of knocking on his door. Quickly their movie watching, or just sitting in the same room while ignoring each other, became a common occurrence. Occasionally Logan would show up and join in, where they’d usually play board games, or, once again, ignore each other.

Anyways that’s how his first two weeks went. At least until Roman returned.

Currently at this point in time... 

Dexter was in deep sleep, having gone to bed at ten p.m. last night, and cocooned in a burrito of blankets. Patton had come home the week before, so he had been readjusting himself to sharing a room once again; aka, not reading until unholy hours of the night and later having Patton lecture him about healthy sleeping habits.

He had been tossing and turning in his bed throughout the entire night, plagued with images he wouldn’t remember when he woke up, but felt so real to him at the moment. He had wakened several times, but this time it felt more urgent, he felt more frightened, when he shot awake. A cold sweat coating his skin. He was shaking, but not entirely from fear. It was something else... but what was it?

The large thump he made when he fell out of his bed jolted Patton up from his sleep in a panicked state, reaching over to turn on his bedside lamp and searching around fervently for the intruder. But once he saw Dexter lying face first on the floor and groaning in pain, all alarm was traded in for worry.

“Oh my goodness gracious, are you alright Dee?” Patton asked and he flew out of bed, helping Dexter up and out of his blankets. 

“I’m horrible,” He told him, rubbing his sore nose, “simply didn’t trip in my blankets.” Standing back on his feet, Dexter placed his blankets back on his bed.

“What happened?” The fatherly twenty-one year old inquired, sitting back down on his bed.

“I didn’t just have a nightmare.” He replied, curling back into his blankets, not willing to stay out in the cold air of the bedroom for too long. Patton stayed quiet for a moment, having to take a second to understand what Dexter had just said. Out of everyone, Patton took the longest to understand him in conversation, but he didn’t hold it against him.

“Do you wanna talk about it?” He asked softly. 

...Yes.” 

Patton twitched nervously in his bed, twiddling his thumbs as he rocking back and forth slowly. “Do you get them often? The dreams I mean.” The question was asked just above a whisper. Dexter turned to his friend, seeing the saddened look on the face staring back at him, and smiled kindly.

“Pat, I’m not fine.” He assured the upperclassmen, “I do remember most of them.”

“Are you sure?” Patton questioned cautiously, still looking uncertain. Dexter nodded, giving him a light grin to appease him, although he wasn’t too certain himself.

No,” He yawned and pulled the blankets further over him, “Let’s just not go back to sleep.”

“Okay,” Patton murmured with a sigh, reaching his arm out to turn off the lamp. Allowing the room to be engulfed in darkness anew.

Five hours later, Logan had come to pick up Patton up at around ten to take them both ice skating as their first ‘official’ date since Patton came back. Seriously, those two were so freaking adorable and committed that it was a surprise that they weren’t married yet. Patton would actually often talk about what their wedding would be like, a simple wedding in the park with close friends and family; where they’d go on their honeymoon, Venice; where’d they live, a suburban home in Florida; and how many children they’d adopt, four. Yet he never once spoke about when it’d all happen. Dexter likes thinks that the two of them are probably in a silent agreement to wait until they both graduate college and can afford to settle down. All he knew was that he’d definitely be a groomsmen.

Now awake and ready for the day, Dexter pulled on a pair of black slacks, and a grey button up with a pale yellow sweater vest. Grabbing a thick jacket, his car keys and wallet, he headed down to the parking lot and drove off to the coffee shop to grab a quick cup of tea before he went to Library. Classes started in two days, so it wouldn’t hurt to review some material to get a head start. Normally he would have left earlier, but today he felt just a tad bit sluggish.

The place was unsurprisingly full when he arrived, considering how amazing their drinks are, pretty much every booth and tale being occupied by somebody, even his favorite spot. It’s a good ting he wasn’t here to stay. Despite the packed space, the line wasn’t too terrible, and he was able to get his order taken in under eight minutes. Since there weren’t many chairs left, Dexter decided to lean against the far left wall next to the delivery counter.

He spent his time as he waited scrolling through his Tumblr, looking at artwork of landscapes and abstract art. After around ten minutes of standing there his name was called by one of the baristas. Placing his phone back into his pocket, Dexter shoved himself off of the wall and walked over to the counter, grabbing his Earl Grey and blueberry muffin, and then headed for the door. 

Strolling to his car, Dexter set his drink and food on the top of the hood so he could grab his keys. Snow fell peacefully around him, covering his form one snowflake at a time. He had just gotten the door open when he heard a voice shouting from somewhere in the parking lot behind him.

“Hey girl! How you’ve been?” The voice called out. Dexter looked in the direction of whoever was talking and saw the same guy from a few weeks ago that he had that awkward encounter with at this here very shop. Remy was his name if he remembered correctly. Dexter gave a quick sweep of the area around them to see if the guy was possibly talking to someone else, but saw only him. “Yes you.” The man chuckled, in front of him now. “How’ve you been.”

Dreadful I suppose.” Dexter replied, grabbing his things from the roof of the car. The man chuckled again, tilting his head to the side as he gave him a lopsided grin. 

“Still speaking as adorably as ever I see.” Remy jested kindheartedly, “Where you off too?” 

“I’m not going to the library.” He replied, placing his, now lukewarm, drink in his cup holder. “It was painful to see you again.”

“I hope not,” Remy joked leaning against Dexter’s yellow buggy, “We should meet up sometime, maybe have lunch.”

“Sure, I’d hate to have another friend.” Dexter agreed, missing how Remy faltered slightly at his response. Taking his seat behind the wheel he started up his car, immediately turning on his heater, not caring if it was only blowing cold air. “Well I best not be going. I won’t see you again.”

“Y-yeah, see ya later.” Remy said back, stepping away as Dexter closed his car door and backed out from the parking spot. Dexter waved his hand as he drove by, Remy doing the same.

The drive to the library was quick, Dexter managing to hit every green light on the way there. In comparison to the coffee shop, the library was quite empty. He made his way over to the textbook section and grabbed a calculus and anatomy book before finding a seat near the back. These two classes were the most difficult for Dexter, and ones that he didn’t really care for but took to appease his parents. 

As he settled into his seat and opened the anatomy book to its review pages, his phone buzzed in his pocket. Dexter reached in and grabbed it, switching it on, not needing to unlock the screen to see the message.

Mother: At the airport, we’ll be arriving at 3 pm. Be presentable.

Oh right... his parents were coming.

Chapter Text

It was eleven in the morning. His parents would be there at three in the afternoon. He had four hours until his parents arrived. He was freaking out. 

Instead of going to the library to be a well educated nerd like he had originally planned, Dexter raced home as fast as he could, while still being a safe driver to avoid an early death. Once he had parked his yellow bug, Dexter bolted our and raced up the stairs to his dorm room, nearly running into the door as he hastily unlocked it and threw himself in.

His heart was beating so fast, and his limbs were so overwhelmed with adrenaline, that Dexter wasn’t even sure what to do first. His thoughts were spinning a mile a minute; he couldn’t grab hold onto what course of action he should take.

They’re on their way. His mind screamed. They’re going to find out about my classes. They’re going to find my writing. They’re going to see my horror book collection. They’re-

He was having a panic attack. His body started to shake, and his breathing became labored and ragged. Dexter coughed and chocked on his own breath, fighting for both air and control. 

Repeating the exercise that Logan had done for Virgil when he had an anxiety attack in front of them once before, he attempted to calm himself down. Breath in for four seconds, hold for seven, and out for eight seconds. At first he wasn’t able to hold for very long, but as the minutes passed he was able to follow the exercise step by step. Dexter had never personally had a panic attack before, but he had seen Virgil go through it twice before, and witnessed the others talk him down from it.

Once he was calm again Dexter didn’t immediately get up for a few minutes and remained sat on the floor. After about six minutes passed, Dexter reached into his pocket and pulled out his cellular device, dialing Virgil’s number.

“Hello?” His voice sounded groggily through the phone. Clearly he had just woken up.

“Vee? It isn’t Dexter.”

“...Yeah? What’s up man?”

“Can you come over as late as possible? I don’t need your help.”

“Sure thing.” He yawned, “Be there in a sec.”

No thank you.”

Virgil chuckled quietly. Another small voice asked who he was talking to on the phone, prompting him to respond that it was Dexter.

“You’re welcome, and Roman says hi.”

Don’t tell him hello back. See you soon.”

“See ya.”

Dexter hung up and set his phone down, pushing himself off the floor he went to his laptop and logged on. Opening his email, he sent a quick message to his creative writing teacher.

To: anna.sharp00@gmail.com

Hello Mrs. Sharp, It’s Dexter Woodbrooke from Creative Writing. Either later today or tomorrow my parents will be visiting your office to talk with you about my grades. Due to certain circumstances I beg you not not let them know that I’m taking creative writing, please tell them you’re my Literature teacher. You may use my current grades, those needn’t be changed.

From: 1800DeeDeeTheSnek@gmail.com

Once the message was sent, Dexter moved over to his bookshelf and sent Logan a text before he began taking down his collection.

You: Hey Logan, can you bring over all of your textbooks and non-fiction after your date? Preferably before 3?

He got a reply within the minute.

Logan: Of course, although I am curious as to why.

You: I’ll explain once you’re here.

Dexter set down all of his books, except for his textbooks, excluding his creative writing book, on his bed and looked around his room for a bag or a box, finding Patton’s stash of reusable shopping bags and setting all of them in there. He had a couple of novels by Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, and the completed collection of works by Mary Shelly. 

It had taken a while for Dexter to rebuild his library after his parents had burned it the first time. But he had been gifted quite a few books from his old high school librarian who was fond of him and his love of reading, which he had kept hidden in his school locker, and started buying or trading his non-fiction at book fairs since junior year and has almost gotten back every book they had destroyed. 

A sudden knock on his door notified him that Virgil had arrived. Dexter went and opened it, welcoming him in. He was only partially surprised when Roman showed up as well.

“Hey, Dex what’d you need help with?” Roman asked, eyeing the bags on his bed. “Going somewhere?”

Yes. My parents aren’t coming to town for the next few days, and I don’t need you to hide these in your dorm room.” Dexter told them, picking up a bag and weakly handing it over to Roman, who took it from him with ease.

“Your parents?” Virgil echoed, scrunching his eyebrows in distaste.

Dexter nodded, quickly telling them about his mother’s phone call and text, just now realizing that he had never told them about their planned visit. Roman and Virgil, mostly the latter, were not too pleased at hearing this, but not at Dexter, at his parents instead.

“Dex, you shouldn’t have to hide this from them.” Roman told him softly, but firmly. Dexter shook his head slowly, keeping his head down.

“It does matter whether I should, I don’t have to.” Dexter told the theater major, walking back to pick up another bag. “If they find out that I’m obeying them, they won’t remove me from school.”

Virgil, having said nothing yet, grumpily sat on Dexter’s bed, curling into a ball and wrapping his arms around his legs, resting his chin on his knees. “I want to punch these guys.” He grumbled under his breath.

“Please do.” Dexter said through stifled laughter.

After having everything cleared up, Roman and Virgil helped move all of his books to their dorm, albeit begrudgingly. Once all the books were safely tucked away with them, the two looked through looked through his drawers and notebooks for any of his writing, whilst Dexter moved everything that was on his laptop onto a USB drive, and then deleted his work. His parents had checked his laptop once before so this was just another precaution. 

While he was in the middle of saving one of his one-shots, Dexter noticed that his teacher had replied to his email.

Reply: 1800DeeDeeTheSnek@gmail.com

Hello Dexter. It is alright with me if you want me to hide the fact that I am your creative writing teacher. Although, because you are one of my best students, it makes me partially sad that your parents aren’t aware of your talents. I won’t ask why, but I am happy to oblige if it is a concern. Please give me an hour warning before your parents want to meet. See you soon.

From: anna.sharp00@gmail.com

Dexter let out a breath that he wasn’t aware he was holding. At least that’s taken care of, He thought.

About forty minuets later, as Roman, Virgil, and Dexter were finishing up cleaning and packing all of his posters, figurines, and writings that he had been collecting since graduation, Logan and Patton had arrived back from their date; the former bringing the requested items. When Patton had unlocked the door and walked in he had looked both slightly confused and pleased that everyone was there.

“Ro, Vee, Dee!” He cheered happily, going up to each one of them and giving everyone of them a quick hug, and then spun around to face Dexter with large questioning eyes. “What’s going on here? Lo said that you needed his books.”

“Yes, you had promised an explanation upon our arrival.” Logan added, setting his books on the ground next to the scattered books Patton had thrown down haphazardly. Dexter rubbed his neck a little sheepishly, shy hat he had to explain himself again for the second time that day.

“Well, my-”

“His parents are assholes and are coming for a visit.” Virgil interrupted, folding up a Tim Burton poster.

“Virgil,” Roman nudged him.

“It’s true!”

Dexter sighed and rubbed his eyes in exhaustion. He took the next minute to shortly debrief them on his parents trip and their condition to him being there.

“So if you parents find out about your hobbies again you’ll be forced to go back home?” Logan repeated for clarification.

No.” Dexter agreed, rubbing a lazy hand over his Mary Shelly collection. No one spoke for a moment.

“...Okay then,” Patton spoke up, “we’ll keep your secret, but only because we want you to stay here.” The others agreed, except for Virgil, who huffed and crossed his arms.

The next hour and a half was comprised of the five of them moving almost all of his things into the temporary storage that was Roman and Virgil’s room, and moving books and other items from Logan’s place over into his. As well as bringing a few things he had in storage from his attic that he had kept in boxes in the closet, like his book of reptiles. Once they were finished, Dexter’s side of the room was filled with the most nerdy amount of things they could find to convince his parents that he was ‘over’ his old habits.

The time was about one in the afternoon, Roman had to leave early to head to his job at the movie theater, so the rest of them simply went out to Pita for lunch. The meal had been awkwardly strained in conversation, and even though Patton did his absolute best to lighten the mood, even he couldn’t hope to cheer them up. Dexter had been anxious the entire time, worried about how the visit would go. Logan looked impartial, but Dexter knew that he was simply calculating the possible outcomes of meeting them. However, in Virgil’s case, he was unnaturally quiet. Sure he wasn’t the loudest of the bunch, but he barely spoke at all, sometimes not even replying to Patton when he was asked a question or if a comment was directed at him, which was very unusual.

By the time two o’clock had rolled around, Dexter knew it was about time for him to pick up his family

“I don’t have to go.” He announced, standing from his seat. “I won’t see you all later.”

“Wait,” Virgil spoke up, getting up as well. “Let me come with you.”

“Are you unsure?”

“Yeah,” Virgil nodded, walking over to him, “I want to be there for you.”

 

 

Dexter sat with Virgil in the pick up zone in front of the airport, the heater was on full blast, as well as Twenty One Pilots over the stereo, courtesy of Virge. The emo sat in the front passenger seat for now, but Dexter had told him that he’d need to move to the back seat once his family arrived.

Virgil wasn’t exactly sure what had possessed him to come along to pick up Dee’s parents, just hearing about them was enough to make him hate them. But when he learned that Dexter was supposed to pick them up alone, he felt obligated to go with him to make sure he was okay.

They waited approximately fifteen minutes before Dexter recognized his family. The two of them got out of the car to greet them, although Virgil’s introduction was more of a vicious glare than anything else.

“Hello father, mother.” Dexter nodded towards them, shaking their hands eagerly. His dad looked annoyed already, while his mom seemed slightly unsettled by the simple gesture. “This isn’t my friend, Virgil Black.”

“How do you do?” His mom greeted with much more enthusiasm, but she soon lost it when he said nothing and only glared at her.

Dexter began to become more nervous, and shakily offered to take their bags, to which he was denied by his father, who put their bags in the back of the car himself. As the family began to pile in to the yellow bug, Dexter offered his sister a kind smile.

“How aren’t you, Daisy.” He asked sweetly. Daisy was about to reply when their dad cut her off.

“It’s ‘are you’, don’t talk to her boy.” His father interrupted from the front seat. “Just take us to our hotel, I’d like to get this over with as soon as possible.” Dexter agreed wordlessly and listened to his dad’s instructions on how to get there, relayed over from his phone’s GPS.

“So what do you do?” Daisy asked once they had gotten on the freeway, looking curiously at Virgil, who was sitting besides her.

“I’m a music major and bachelor in poetry.” Virgil replied briefly, wary of even the little girl. This whole family was messed up, he couldn’t take any risks.

“What does that mean?” She pressed further. Neither of her parents reprimanded her for asking, appearing to be pleased with her curiosity.

“It means that I study music theory, how music works, and how to play instruments. I currently play the piano and guitar.” He explained further.

“Virgil isn’t really good, even though I haven’t only heard him play once.” Dexter chimed in from behind the wheel.

“Dexter, don’t interrupt them.” His mother hushed him. Dexter quieted down immediately, returning his focus solely on driving. Virgil gave the woman a side glare with enough malicious intent to drop a horse, but she was so glued to her phone that she didn’t even notice.

Once they arrived at the hotel the three would be staying at, all of them piled out of the car and grabbed their things before heading inside. Dexter, again, offered to carry in some of the bags, but his mother rejected his offer. While his parents went to the front desk to sign them in, Daisy stayed outside with her big brother, in what he assumed was one of the rare chances they had to spend alone.

“I didn’t get you a gift, Day.” Dexter told her in a hushed tone.

“Really?” She asked in excitement, Dexter nodded his head, prompting his baby sister to jump around in excitement. Reaching into the glove box in his car, Dexter pulled out a stuffed bunny, with floppy ears, wearing a green dress and a pink bow on the collar. Daisy squealed happily and grabbed the present. 

“Thank you so much Dexter!” She cried joyfully, hugging his leg. Virgil, who had previously been skeptic of the girl due to the stories he had heard of this family, looked on fondly at the scene, happy that at least someone in Dexter’s family cared about him. The older sibling was about to hug her back when their mother came back out, and reacted like her daughter was about to be attacked.

“Get away from her!” His mother shouted, wrenching Daisy away by her arm. “Don’t you ever touch her, you might ruin her with your freakish ideas.”

“I’m not sorry, I-”

“Ugh, enough with your fricking idiocy!” Virgil snapped, prepared to go super sonic on this woman, but minded his language due to Daisy being present. “Maybe if you used two of your limited brain cells for a second you’d realize that Dexter wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

The mother gasped in shock and horror of being spoken to that way, as if she had never once been criticized in her life. “Why, I never-”

“What? Never think? I wouldn’t be surprised, your brain must be the size of a peanut.”

“How dare you! You think you know how to raise my children?” She yelled, flushed red in both embarrassment and anger. He was about to respond, ready to unleash a tidal wave of shit back in her face, but Dexter stepped in between them, stopping him from saying anything more.

“I don’t apologize, mother. Virgil does know what he’s talking about.”

His mother looked as if she wanted to argue further, but she backed down with a rude huff. “Whatever, be prepared by nine tomorrow morning to pick us up. Come along, Daisy.”

Dexter sighed in relief when they left, he seemed to be doing that a lot today. He slowly turned to Virgil and gave him a lighthearted smile.

“Let’s not go.”

The drive back to the dorms was even more tense that the drive to airport, the hotel, and their lunch combined. Not a single word was exchanged, nor was any music played. Virgil wanted to justify his words, tell Dexter that he should have been the one to say those things, but he didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, once Dee pulled them into park, he was the one to acknowledge what had happened.

“That wasn’t a little unwarranted, Vee. It wasn’t my mistake to hug Day.” He spoke softly, with no intent to provoke the other. Virgil didn’t say anything back, so Dexter, defeated, began to unbuckle his seat belt so he could get out of the car.

“I don’t get you. You’re parents treated, and still do treat you like shit. Why don’t you ever say anything back. How can you still say that you’re okay?”

“Because they aren’t my parents, I still hate them.”

“You should hate them!” Virgil cried suddenly, whipping around in his seat to face him directly. “It shouldn’t give a fuck that they birthed you. Why didn’t you run away? Why didn’t you say anything? Why do you still love them?”

Virgil’s voice raised higher and higher until he was practically screaming out the words. His breath was ragged and inconsistent, eventually becoming sobs as a flood of tears started to fall from his eyes.

“Vee...”

“Why didn’t they love me?!”

Chapter Text

“Why didn’t they love me?!” 

The night was already quiet around them, the only sound provided being the wind howling against the windows. The freezing temperatures outside began to seep into the vehicle as the heater had been turned off when Dexter removed the keys from the ignition. Virgil shuddered in his seat, most likely from more than just the cold. Dexter had to get them out of there and to a better location.

Getting out of the car, Dexter went around and opened the door for the other, helping him out and escorting him to the dorms. Asking where he wanted to go, Virgil murmured in a hoarse voice that he wanted to go to his dorm room, so Dexter took him there. The room was empty, Roman still being at work, and shy of any warmth. So it wasn’t too much better than where they had been previously. The building didn’t have heaters, meaning that the students had to buy them themselves. Helping him to sit down on his bed, Dexter went over to the long, cylindrical heater and turned it on high. 

By the time he turned around to face him again, Virgil had already gotten under his covers and curled up in a ball, hidden from sight. Dexter smiled sadly and walked over, sitting down gently beside the blanketed ball and resting a hand on what he thought, and hopped, was his shoulder.

“Virgil?” He called out quietly, “Are you feeling bad?”

He was answered by a unhappy whine.

“You know you can’t talk to me right?” 

The anxious emo didn’t respond and instead just curled up more on himself, Dexter, not wanting to push his friend out of his comfort zone, made himself comfortable and pulled out his phone and opened the YouTube app, putting on a vine compilation. If there was anything he knew would cheer Virgil up, it was vines.

“Hey bro what do you want to eat?”

“The souls of the innocent.”

“A bagel.”

“No!”

Two bagels.”

A muffled chuckle came from under the covers.

“He doesn’t deserve you. If he doesn’t treat you right by now, you’re gone.”

“I’m gone!”

“Now go chop his dick off!”

The vines continued on, and so did the soft giggles. After about ten minutes of the first vine compilation, Virgil poked his head out of the covers. Soon after, he was sitting side by side with Dexter watching the vines, his manner becoming more relaxed and his tears dried. About forty minutes of mindless entertainment had passed until he was finally calm and sure enough to talk.

“Thanks Dee.” He murmured tiredly as he rested his head on Dexter’s shoulder, exhausted from his emotional episode.

Do mention it.” The sneky boi replied, “Feeling worse?”

“A bit.” Virgil shrugged, “Just... just remembered something is all.”

Dexter looked sideways at the older, but slightly smaller, student, noting the distant and sad look in his eyes,

“Do you not want to talk about it?”

Virgil stayed quiet for awhile more, appearing to be at a miniature war with himself over whether or not he wanted to speak. Dexter waited patiently until he decided what he wanted to do.

“Long fucked up story short: my dad left when I was ten, my mom killed herself when I was thirteen, and I lived with my homophobic grandparents until graduation.” 

Well shit, what was he supposed to say to that? Whatever explanation he had cooked up in his mind was nothing compared to that, now he’s going to look like an uncaring asshole if he doesn’t speak up fast-

“Wow.”

FUCKING PERFECT!

Virgil gave a halfhearted chuckle, completely different from the one earlier.

“Yeah, it’s not your typical story... but it’s mine. Guess we can be fucked up together, right?”

“I’m not fucked up?” Dexter echoed, well, tried to anyway.

“Yeah, I mean look at you!” Dexter faltered and looked down at himself, trying to find the flaw that Virgil saw. Realizing how he sounded, Virgil quickly backtracked, stuttering an apology. “N-n-not that there’s anything wrong with you, you’re a great person. I just meant that your family is a bit fucked up.”

“Is that why you didn’t yell at my mother?” Dexter questioned, feeling relieved that it was him that Virgil saw as a mistake.

“Yeah... seeing her act like you were... some kind of monster really pissed me off. I mean you were just hugging your sister! Why the fuck did she have to act like that?!”

“I’m aloud to be around her. That wasn’t the rule ever since she was born.”

“It’s a fucking stupid ass rule! You’re family not a stranger. A family should accept one another, stick it out through the bad, encourage each other and lift them up, no matter the flaws. At least that’s what I always thought. Not really how mine turned out either.”

“I haven’t gotten used to it, it’s never been this way-”

“But it shouldn’t have to be! Just because shit happens doesn’t mean everything needs to be shit. Fuck your parents, if they don’t treat you right by now, you’re gone.”

Dexter looked over at Virgil, and saw that the other was smirking at him. It took a moment, but eventually his brain processed what he needed to say next.

“I’m not gone.” He whispered, grinning as well.

“Now go chop their dicks off.”

 

 

The next day Dexter sat through several meetings with his parents and professors. His little sister Daisy often sat to the side while they talked, watching some kid show to pass the time on her tablet as she waited. The conversations with his Anatomy and Calculus professors went fairly well. Professor Mraz noted his early struggle with calculus at the beginning of the semester, but praised his tenacity and hard work with the subject to be able to come out with a B+ on the final. His parents seemed pleased enough that he was doing well.

The tricky part came at around three in the afternoon when they pad a visit to Professor Sharps’s room. Her room was so obviously a writing class, Dexter could only hold his breath and pray to God that his parents wouldn’t take too much notice. Miss Sharp was sitting at her desk when they all walked in, working on some kind of paperwork as she waited for them to arrive. Dexter had made sure to give all his professors a few hours notice prior to each meeting.

Her long ginger hair was pulled back into a french braid and she was wearing one of her favorite green dresses with a red blazer. Seeing the family walk in, Miss Sharp rolled her wheelchair over to greet his folks, each with a handshake and a polite hello.

“Hello, I’m Professor Sharp, your son’s Classic Literature teacher.” She introduced herself, giving a small wink and a smile towards Dexter, which he returned.

“Hello Miss,” His father replied, shaking her hand, his mother doing the same next, “I’m James Woodbrooke, and this is my wife Katrina.”

“How do you do?” She greeted with a smile.

“Simply splendid I solemnly suppose.” She giggle as she spoke, “That’s an alliteration, a little exercise I like to do with my students because it helps with- their study of classic literature!” Miss Sharp quickly corrected herself from spilling the beans. Dexter could find any fault with her however, she was a writing enthusiast after all. Trying to turn her switch off is as easy as lifting ten tons of bricks. That was an oxymoron.

“Hm, well I came here to ask about Dexter’s performance in your class. Has he been... behaving well? Been a decent student?” James asked delicately, trying not to appear suspicious in his concern. Miss Sharp’s eyes furrowed ever so slightly at his question. She glance over at Dexter before she answered, making him squirm a little in embarrassment.  

“I like to think of Dexter as my best student. He is always here on time, never misses a day, is well prepared, and fully attentive during lectures and interactives. His grade is the highest in the class and his work is commendable.” She answered curtly, holding herself with a firm stance, not breaking eye contact with his father. His father huffed and crossed his arms, apparently not impressed in the slightest.

“Well he did say he wanted to be an English teacher. Still, with his disability I don’t he’ll be able to make it very far in the field.” James said nonchalantly.

“With his abilities I believe Dexter will exceed in this field.” Miss Sharp wheeled herself back slightly, smoothing out the creases in her blazer, still not once breaking eye contact. “We met, we discussed, we concluded. I could do this forever, but time is money. Work will not wait. Anaphora, Hyperbole, Metaphor, and Alliteration.” She grinned widely, enjoying the offending face of his mother, and annoyed look of his father. “Don’t have a good day.”

 

His parents busted out of the doors shouting in anger, screaming complaints about her audacity to speak to them that way. In fact, they were so angry that they didn’t even notice that Dexter was holding hands with Daisy as they walked after them. He savored every moment of contact he had with his sister, and so did she, knowing that this would be a rarity for them.

Once they all climbed into Dexter’s buggy, directing them to take him to a decent place for dinner, their shouts became loud, angry talking.

“That woman thinks she knows our son? She must be just as insane if she thinks he could ever exceed.” His father scoffed, “Why are you even in school? I thought you were going to work at the shop with me.”

“I thought it would be a bad idea to have a backup career.” Dexter mumbled next to him, trying to not let his words sting and focused on the road.

“It is a bad idea. Maybe if you could talk correctly I’d be okay with it, but how the hell are you going to teach with your impediment?”

“James please, we’ve discussed that Dexter isn’t just cut out to be a mechanic. That’s why you’re training his cousin, remember?” His mom said from the back seat.

“Whatever.” He grumbled.

 

The restaurant he had taken them all to was a personal favorite of Logan and Patton called Romello’s Italian Restaurant. The two often went here on their dates and would sometimes bring back leftovers form him and the others to share. The clam linguine was to risk death for and he’d definitely be getting it tonight.

The four of them sat at a booth, Daisy and his mother on one side, and him and his father on the other. Dexter suspected it was to keep him away from his sister. Conversation would have been nonexistent if it wasn’t for Day, the little girl loved to talk the ear off of anyone who would listen to her rambled about what element Neptune’s atmosphere is comprised of and all the like. And at the moment, they had no chance but to listen, as neither he nor his parents budged.

The server came with their drinks and took their orders, leaving them to, once again, listen to Day talk about everything she knows about space. It seems that his little sister already knew what she wanted to be, and she claimed that she’d be the first human to reach beyond our solar system.

It wasn’t until their bread sticks were brought over that she had quieted down, shoving her face full with the snack. His father decided to take the opportunity to speak.

“Dexter, I think you should drop Professor Sharp’s class,” 

“James,” His mother spoke in warning, but was ignored.

“She’s filling your head with delusion. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was mentally ill as well.”

James,”

Dexter shifted uncomfortably in his seat from cheek to cheek. Daisy watched curiously as she ate, filling her mouth with an amount of bread beyond what any small child should consume at once. 

“But I don’t love her class. I thought-”

“That isn’t important, this woman is filling you head with... fantasy. You’ll only raise your expectation beyond your capabilities.” James argued, focusing solely on his son. For once, his mother did too, not watching Daisy eat all of their appetizer. 

“If you love the class so much, perhaps you could simply request a different professor next semester?” Katrina suggested, trying to be the mediator in the family. “Whatever Sharp is telling you isn’t true, and you know better than to lie, right?”

“Mother please, Professor Sharp is the worst in her subject. You wanted me to not have a good education.”

His mother sighed and rubbed her temple, looking exhausted. No one noticed, but Daisy suddenly stopped eating.

“It’s ‘best’, Dexter, and yes I do want you to have-”

Daisy interrupted the conversation, slamming her hands on the table. James was about to scold her for being indecent, but then noticed that something was wrong. The three of them all turned their attention to Daisy, her little, plump face was turning blue and her small hands pulled at her throat. His little sister was chocking.

“Daisy!” The three of them shouted simultaneously, hopping out of the booth and surrounding her. 

“It’s the bread!” His mother said in panic, pushing the girl out from her booster seat.

“Obviously, do something!” His father demanded, looking frightened and unsure of what to do. Katrina wrapped her arms around Daisy’s stomach and started to squeeze her, having no effect. Daisy started to become worse, and looked as if she was about to black out. The staff were on their way to help, but Dexter acted first. If she passes out while chocking, it’s very likely she’ll die before an ambulance arrives.

Pulling Day from his mother’s hands he positioned the thumb of his fist slightly over her bellybutton, grasped his fist with his other hand, and thrust multiple times. It took several attempts, but after about twenty seconds of trying, a wad of soggy bread fell onto the ground. Daisy gasped for air and coughed horribly. Dexter let out the largest breath of air ever in relief. 

“Daisy!” His mother said joyously, wrapping her arms around her daughter loosely to allow her room to breath. His father kneeled down and hugged the both of them. Families and groups around them cheered, all apparently having witnessed the scene and had been just as worried.

Standing from the floor, Katrina lifted Daisy up on her hip, and his father stood by his side. He placed a hand on Dexter’s shoulder and stared at him for a moment, then pulled him into a hug.

“Thank you for saving your sister.” He murmured into his son’s shoulder. “You knew what to do when I didn’t, perhaps you have more abilities than I thought.” Dexter had the largest smile on his face because he was certain that was the closest his father has ever came to complimenting him. “You can stay in your class. Although maybe you should be a doctor.”

Dexter chuckled lightly, “Yes, I’d still like to be a teacher.” He lied.

Their meal was free that night, and apparently for the next year as well. They were all still a bit shaken however, so they had their dinner to go and went back to the hotel, and this time the invitation was extended to him as well. They sat together and watched the Hallmark specials until late in the night.

His parents still hadn't fully accepted him, but Dexter was patient and decided not to say anything. After all, they had promised to pay his tuition if he graduated, and he wasn’t about to pass up on that opportunity. He’d tell them one day, and now that day felt just a little closer.

His parents allowed him to spend the night over with them, having him share the bed with his little sister, no longer visibly upset about the two of them talking to or being with each other. If this was his late Christmas gift, it was the best they had ever given him.

His family flew home the next morning.

Chapter Text

The moment Dexter realized he didn’t require math to graduate he dropped his calculus class. Since he was majoring in English Literature and receiving a Bachelor in Creative Writing, he was exempted from taking a math course. Oh how he wished he would have read the fine print at the beginning of the year and not have wasted his time with that hellish subject. Once he had made the choice to stop taking calculus he decided what the hell and dropped out of biology too, never really being interested in it in the first place.

So, now with two empty spots in his schedule, Dexter had chosen to take poetry with Virgil, and psychology. He would later learn that he and Virgil would have different poetry classes, but for the moment that was his main persuasion to take that class. While he wasn’t much of a poet, the class offered him the creative liberty he wanted, so it was the obvious choice. And the psychology was for his psychological horror novels.

His class schedule was shifted around this semester for two reasons. The obvious one being the change in classes, and the other was the fact that his parents had told him to get a job just a few minutes before they boarded their flight.

For... pretty much ever, his parents had discouraged him from getting a part-time job, since it would most likely mean that he’d have to communicate with customers, which he wasn’t too fond off. But after their most recent visit they had both decided that it would be best that he start working before he sought after an actual career, no longer letting him mooch off of their bank account. Dexter had located a few possible job openings where talking would not always be a necessity, such as the Downtown book store, Anne’s Bookshelf, the City Library, and his University’s Library. 

Okay, so maybe he just wanted to work around books, but not much talking happened in those places because most of the patrons were either reading or working. The most he’d probably have to do is shush someone, give directions to a genre section or look up a book. Shouldn’t be too hard. He had already filled out multiple online applications and was simply waiting for a response.

But that was for later, at the moment he had to focus on his first class of the day, which was in fact anatomy, yet another class he was taking for the sake of making his horrific gore novels more realistic. The class started at nine thirty in the morning, one hour from now. He had been lying awake in bed for the past ten minutes, still uncommitted to leaving his warm bed for the freezing domain just outside of his blankets. Patton had already turned on the heater when he had gotten up earlier, but he still didn’t want to move.

“Are you gonna get up soon?” Patton asked from the bathroom door, currently brushing his teeth as he spoke, white toothpaste foam dripping from his mouth and staining the front of his shirt.

“Ugh!” Dexter groaned loudly, “No!”

“Okay, kiddo,” Patton giggled, going back inside the bathroom to rinse out his mouth.

Dexter heaved an unnecessarily heavy sigh, kicking his blankets off unceremoniously, and jumping up to change. Just as he had predicted, the room was frosty and unpleasant, nipping at his exposed skin as he changed into out of his yellow and white polka dot pajamas and into a pale yellow button up with a black argyle sweater-vest over it; and of course black slacks, he only owned like six pairs. He joined Patton in their small bathroom and pulled out his hairbrush from the bathroom drawer, fixing his bedhead, and then brushed his teeth.

At about eight fifty, when both of the had finished getting ready, Roman and Virgil met up with them outside their door, both looking tired and lacking sleep. They headed out together, carpooling in Patton’s minivan to meet up with Logan at their cafe. Somehow the five of them had managed to have almost all their classes around the same time that semester, besides a few exceptions. So, Logan had devised a plan for them all to carpool together to save both gas and money, while also not producing as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

They all met up with him at the shop, which he had walked to, ordered drinks and breakfast, then climbed back into the minivan to head to their classes, splitting off there in the parking lot.

Dexter paced himself to his class, careful not to slip on any hidden or visible ice, sipping his herbal tea and nibbling on a blueberry scone that was overly sugared and ridiculously large, like most American things were. He had five minutes to spare when he arrived to class, and nearly half the seats were already taken. Looking through his options of open seating, Dexter sat his belongings and his person down in the back right corner, far from other students and a good, close, distance to the door. 

Since he was a bit early, he resolved to play a short horror game on his phone until the professor started the session. It was a cheap copy of Slender, but it was entertaining enough. His professor, Dr. Hernandez, was as punctual as usual, demanding their attention the moment the bell signified the start of class. Dr. Hernandez was quite a strict teacher, not putting up with any talking, lack of effort, or arriving late.

That’s why, when there was a knock on the locked classroom door, everyone in the room was astounded that there was already someone late on the first day. Dr. Hernandez grumbled since he had to stop only five minutes into the lesson. He opened the door only slightly, prepared to give the student his “I don’t care that you woke up late, you’re not allowed in” speech, but the student beat him to it.

“I’m sorry professor! I had some trouble finding you’re classroom and had to ask my old teacher for directions.” He all but shouted at their professor.

“Let me guess, you’re the new teacher’s aid?” He presumed aloud regarding the newcomer.

“Yeah, sorry I’m late.” He said noncommittally, leaning against the door frame. Dr. Hernandez grimaces for a second, and then steps aside for the teacher aid to walk in.

“Normally you would sit in the front, but since you weren’t here on time, like you were supposed to be, most of the seats are already taken.” Which was true, the only two spots that were currently avaliable being the one to Dexter’s left and the one in front of him. “Just pick any that’s open.”

With that, the professor returned to his seat and began talking again immediately, leaving the aid standing at the door. It was only when the student stepped completely in that Dexter recognized him as that one guy from the coffee shop that he had managed to embarrass himself in front of. What was his name again? Richard... Randy... Ron? Remy!

Remy scanned the room for said open seating and looked pleasantly surprised when he noticed Dexter in the back corner, with the only vacant seats being next to him. Remy walked with such a confident disposition and swagger that he could have easily mistaken him for Roman. Claiming the seat to his left, the man dropped his messenger bag on the table and threw himself into his seat, practically hanging half of his body off of the chair. Dexter took note of his leather jacket and ripped, white shirt, styled with a pair of black distressed jeans and heeled leather boots. Everything about him seemed to radiate a cool vibe. Dexter looked down at his own sweater-vest and blushed, feeling significantly less cool.

“Hey. Psst. Heeey!” The man called hushedly beside him. Dexter opted to ignore him, upset with himself for the way he was dressed in comparison to the other, and also not wanting to get in trouble with the professor. However, Remy opted to retaliate by choosing to poke him in the arm repeatedly.

Dexter sighed and gave in, “What don’t you want, Remy?” He asked undertone.

“You remember my name.” Remy smiled brightly. “What’cha doing in this class?”

Not studying anatomy, uncertainly.” Dexter replied, turning his attention back to their professor, who was currently pulling up a slideshow presentation and directing them to take notes on the vital organs. Dexter reached into his bag to pull out his notebook and pencil, but nearly dropped both on the floor when Remy decided to speak again.

“Ah, I still love the way you talk.” He exhaled dreamily, resting his cheek on his left palm, leaning his body into the desk as he stared sideways at Dexter.

Dexter tried and failed spectacularly to hide the blush that was creeping up his neck from pure shock and embarrassment. He didn’t say anything back and kept his head down, covering his face with his hand out of Remy’s line of sight, focusing solely on the lecture. Nearly a minute passed by and Dexter had began to believe that Remy had disregarded his discomfort, but was taken aback when he heard him utter a small apology.

“I’m sorry, that was rude.” Remy said sheepishly, appearing to have regret his actions. Dexter smiled slightly at this, feeling some of his doubts dissipate, but not all of them. 

“It’s not alright, I’m just used to compliments.” Dexter tells him, slightly forgetting about the lecture.

“Well then, you better get used to them babe.” Remy smirked cheekily.

And cue Dexter becoming a blushing mess again.

The two of them didn’t speak for the rest of class, Remy thankfully allowing him his space to work and listen to the, rather dull, lecture. That didn’t mean that the other didn’t make his presence known however, constantly doing thing such as tapping his fingers on the table, repeatedly crossing and uncrossing his legs, or looking over Dexter’s shoulder at his notes, to remind him that he was still there. Dexter wasn’t sure yet if this was endearing or annoying.

Probably more annoying.

When the two hours were up and they were free to go, the two of ended up walking out together. His next class was at twelve thirty, in an hour, purposefully giving him a bit of time to grab a bite in between classes. So, just as Logan had previously planned, Dexter made his way to meet up with everyone to grab lunch at the campus’s cafeteria. Ironically, Remy also had some free time until his next class at one o’clock and was going to head there for lunch, so he decided to accompany Dexter there. He didn’t entirely mind the company, but he did mind how openly... kind he was.

Am I reading too far into this? Was this a friend thing he didn’t know about? Patton was quite clingy and nice to everyone so maybe, is that what Remy was doing, just being nice? Should I tell him that I’m asexual, would that make him back off?

“Only if you want me to.” Remy responded honestly.

What the fuck?! Did I say that aloud?

“Yes you did.” He chuckled, swinging his body around so that he was walking backwards in front of Dexter. “So do you want me to back off? I know we don’t really know each other that well, I don’t want to push it.”

“Um, no, I- well, maybe just a lot.” Dexter answered, shyly rubbing the back of his neck with his hand.

“Okay then,” He smiled, flipping the sunglasses that he always wore up to give him a wink before quickly bringing them back over his eyes. Once he did this he noticed that Remy actually had two different colored irises, the right one brown and the left being grey. Dexter felt his breath escape him when he saw this. “I’ll back off a tad.” Dexter simply nodded back, too amazed to say anything. 

The rest of the walk was easy enough, with a simple conversation on why they were each in anatomy flowing between them on their way to the cafeteria. Dexter learned that Remy actually wanted to be a surgeon but was falling behind on credits, so he became a teacher’s aid to catch up on them so he can graduate in time to be able to go on to medical school next year. It was also then that he learned that the other was actually twenty-three, which was even older than Patton, the oldest in his group of friends. In turn, he was asked of his reasons for being in anatomy, to which he gave the simple answer of it being for reference for another class. Perhaps Remy notice his discomfort while answering, because he didn’t ask Dexter to elaborate, and for that he was grateful for.

Soon enough they made it to their destination, which was half empty of student patrons. Dexter swiftly located his friends, sitting in the far right corner by the window, all looking to have already grabbed some food and were happily eating. Patton noticed him and waved.

Dexter gave a small wave back and looked at Remy, who was looking back expectantly through his tinted glasses. That’s when it dawned on him that he had never actually invited Remy to eat with them.

“Erm, would you hate to eat with us?”

Remy’s shoulders fell in what appeared to be relief. 

“Sure thing, babe.” He smiled, grinning wider when Dexter rolled his eyes and led the way over to his friends.

The others noticed the newcomer instantaneously even before he made it to the table. Each taking to Remy differently at first glance.

Goodbye guys,” He greeted them somewhat awkwardly, “Everyone, this isn’t Remy. We aren’t in class together.”

Whatever previous conversation the four were having must of burned and died because none of them said anything straight away, apparently not expecting Dexter to bring someone into the group. Unsurprisingly, though, Patton spoke up first, offering a smile and a hand to Remy.

“Heya Remy! I’m Patton Sanders, this is my wife Logan-“

“I’m his boyfriend,” Logan interrupted, hastily putting a stop to the long trail of introductions by Patton that probably would have mirrored the one Dexter had received back when they all first met. “Logan Winchester, physics major, Patton here is an art major. And these are our close friends, Roman Sanchez and Virgil Black.”

Remy exchanged a handshake with each of them.

“Might I inquire how exactly you met our dear Dexter?” Logan asked.

Dexter shifted somewhat awkwardly, everyone else giggled, but their lovable stoic nerd just ignored them. Logan’s mom mode had been activated.

“We met at a coffee shop a few weeks ago, actually,” Remy answered him, resting an arm on Dexter’s small shoulder, leaning into him ever so slightly. “but I’m the teacher’s aid for his anatomy class.” Dexter’s head began to spin with the looks his friends began to give him, there eyes boring into the strange guy’s arm on his shoulder. Had Remy completely forgotten the discussion they just had a few minutes ago? 

Taking a step to the side, he detached himself from Remy’s bodily contact and from his friends’ gazes. 

“I’m not going to grab something to eat.” He said shortly before fleeing the scene, desperately wanting to get away from whatever tension was brewing.

...

“So... Remy was it?” Virgil voiced icily, glaring at the newcomer, “What are your intentions with our friend?”

Remy didn’t seem at all deterred by the emo’s tone or his murder worthy eyes, calmly pulling up a chair from the table next to them and taking a seat.

“Well I was hoping to be his friend, if that’s alright with you.” Remy replied simply, albeit a bit cockily. 

“I’m not so sure that I am.” Roman said next, “Not by the way you treated his personal space when he was clearly uncomfortable. You are aware that he’s asexual, right?”

Remy’s relaxed character fell slightly at Roman’s words, his grin dropping into a frown. “He was-” His words failed him, “He mentioned it earlier, I didn’t mean to upset him.”

“Well you did nonetheless.” Logan cut in abruptly, “So as a warning, I suggest that you respect those boundaries.”

“We’ll let you hang around Dexter for now, but we’ll be watching you.” Virgil joined in, finishing the, rather threatening, conversation.

...

When Dexter came back a minute later he did not miss the obviously stressed atmosphere, but chose not to comment on it. The rest of lunch wasn’t so bad though, talking became easier once Patton got going on about some cartoon that was coming out and the time was quickly used up.

Dexter’s next class was Creative Writing, which was in the same building as Virgil’s, who had Poetry at the moment, so the two walked together. He didn’t know what class Remy had next, but he did know hat it was on the opposite side of the campus, so they had to say goodbye here. Dexter offered a small handshake to say goodbye.

He may have been imagining it, but Dexter could have sworn that Remy had been hesitant when taking his hand, pulling away as if he had touched fire.

Chapter Text

On Friday he had the crushing reminder of the crucial 3D model project for Anatomy due the next week on Monday. They been given the entire week to do it, but he had completely forgotten. It was hard to focus on anything with an eccentric gay breathing down your neck for two hours in what he claimed was a “just friends” way. Dexter has tried reaching out to his two lab partners to schedule a time to meet up and start the project, but they both told him that they had other pre-engagements to take care of and that he’d have to work on it alone. At least they promised to each write their own paragraphs on the subject.

Dexter has turned next to Logan for help, after all he was a know it all, surely he’d know how to detail the complex brain in a 3D model and write a seven slided presentation on it.

Nope, he was a too busy with physics and astronomy.

Well, shit. A clear F was now a definite in his very near future. Until he remembered that Remy was medical major and the T.A. for his class. Dexter made a call to him later that day to see if he could help him not fail and be forced to drop out because of his over the top parents.

“I’m not so sure Dee Snek, I’m not supposed to help the students.” He had told him in a playful voice, almost making Dexter loose hope before he spoke up again. “But I suppose that the boss man doesn’t have to know about this.

And that’s how Dexter had come to be sitting on the floor of his increasingly crowded dorm room, with all of his friends not so subtly monitoring their every move. Patton had been at his job before Remy arrived, so Dexter assumed all would be fine. But then Virgil had stopped by to borrow some soda from Dexter’s mini fridge and had been thoroughly surprised to find Remy and him in the room together alone. Trying to casually suggested to have a study and work session together, Virgil called Roman and Logan down for back-up, and they arrived promptly.

The three of them thought they were stealthy about it, but it was painfully obvious to him that they didn’t approve of Remy all that much, at least not when they were together. Dexter has seen the odd moments when the three were able to get along with and even enjoy Remy, but it was always when Dexter was out of the picture. He wasn’t dull; he knew they were just trying to protect him from any advancement made by him, but he sometimes wished that they would just trust him a bit more. Besides, Remy had kept his promise and maintained a respectful distance between them, although that didn’t stop the flirting and pet names.

“Wait, you made the Cerebellum too large. It’s about half the size of the Frontal Lobe.” Remy corrected him, pointing to the size of the clay mold in his hands. “Here, let me show you,” He took the clay out of Dexter’s grasp and tore off a chunk to make it smaller, then rolled it in his hands to reshape it. “There, now the patient won’t have a misshaped head.”

Dexter huffed out a laugh. “As if you have anything to say with your not triangle shaped head.”

Did I sound rude? Did I offend him? Is he gonna leave-

“Excuse me, it’s my best feature. Or else I wouldn’t have this rigid jawline.”

“Please, you don’t look more like a cool ranch dorito.”

“And you look like a snake.”

“That’s an insult.”

“I aim to please.”

“Then please the rest of us by shutting up and working.” Logan said curtly, glaring over his homework.

Remy and Dexter giggled lightly like two kids who were hiding something from their parents and got back to work. It hadn’t been much more than a month that the two of them had become something close to friends, yet they clicked together so well. They both pissed each other off, but in a good way. Somehow Remy has brought out the inner asshole in Dexter, but Dee didn’t really mind it. The others did though, they thought it was bad influence. Except for Patton, who rather saw it as Dexter  becoming more comfortable around others.

After the colorful, clay model was finished, Dexter logged onto his computer and opened up his group presentation and skimmed over the others’ work. And holy shit were their explanations really bad, poorly explained and organized. I tiny piece inside of him died looking at it.

“Damn, what am I supposed to do without all this shit?”

“Language!” Logan lectured him even though he spat out a F-bomb at least three times a day.

“What is it Dee Snek?” Remy asked crawling over to his side, but stopped a few inches away from his side.

“Rebecca and Sloan’s work is amazing! I can work with this!”

Remy pulled the laptop over a little towards his line of sight to read over the other students work. Dexter was able to see him physically cringe as well from their lack of effort and incorrect facts.

“Yeah, tough luck,” He agreed, a hand scratching at the back of his head, “Maybe you should just tell the teach, or at the very least spill the tea on the credits page.” 

“...But if I did that it wouldn’t ruin my laptop.” That earned a couple hearty laughs, and not just from Remy.

“Spill the tea means to gossip, Dex.” Roman informed him from his spot in Virgil’s lap, “You wouldn’t actually be dumping tea on your computer.”

“O-oh.” He murmured, blushing brightly from embarrassment.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it, Dee. It took Lo a while to understand how dumping tea would reveal gossip.” Virgil joined in as well, sitting comfortably on Dexter’s bed with a, quote on quote, borrowed lemonade ginger ale, Dexter’s favorite. That did indeed make him feel slightly better.

“But what wouldn’t I put on the credentials page?”

“Here,” Remy spoke up, typing into his project, a mischievous glint in his eyes, “I’ve got an idea.”

In the end, Dexter ended up having all of his work fully noted and pinpointed in the credits, with the other two only slightly mentioned. Dexter felt a little guilty bout doing something that seemed so underhanded and mean, but literally everyone else told him he was justified. Still, Dexter sent a text to the others asking them to edit their paragraphs; but they didn’t. So he went along with Remy’s plan, but made sure to send an email to his professor as well to explain the situation to him. At it’s completion it looked a little something like this:

Credits:

3D model - Dexter Woodbrooke

Labeling - Dexter Woodbrooke

Formatting - Dexter Woodbrooke

Paragraph 1,2 - Sloan O’Neil

Paragraph 3,4,7 - Dexter Woodbrooke

Paragraph 5,6 - Rebecca Pangan

And that was the end of his weekend’s minor mental meltdown, ha-ha alliteration, he was becoming just like his professor. After he turned in his project the rest of the class period went smoothly. Lunch was also quite quaint, the tension even seemed to dampen a bit.

Then, everything changed when the surprising news attacked, or at the very least startled him. It it had been made known to him by his Creative Writing professor that there was a nationwide writing competition among the country’s colleges and universities. A fifty thousand to one hundred thousand word count miniature novel on a chosen subject, winner would earn a grant towards their tuition and have their work published.

Professor choose him and two other students to compete in the regional preliminaries. Dexter was baffled beyond belief, that alliteration wasn’t even intentional, as to why she would ever think it was a good idea for him to compete.

“Because you have two of the most important requirements a writer needs: heart and passion. Even someone who knows the formula inside and out, knows all the literary devices and how to draw a readers attention will still fall short if they lack these.” Professor Sharp affirmed.

“But how can’t I stand a chance against the other students? I’m already at an advantage.” He argued, trying to convince her to choose someone else.

“Are you referring to your impediment?” Dexter nodded. “Sweetie that’s what gives you the most important writing attribute of all. Purpose.”

Dexter narrowed his eyes at her in confusion.

“I understand.”

She smiled sweetly, telling him, “I’ve only been your teacher for a few months, but already I can see the depth and meaning of your writing. You may think it’s pure scary horror that you write, but I think it’s more than that. You’re writing about you. That’s how you’ll compete. Write what you can’t say, and you’ll be fine.”

Dexter left class feeling confuddled on what to do. He’s never thought of competing before, always assuming that his style would freak out the judges and lead to his immediate termination. But now he was told that not only did he have a chance, but a good chance?

Sign ups were due by the third of February, so he still had a few days to consider.

The next few days went on as usual, nothing particularly boring or too exciting. But the entire time his mind was focused on the decision to apply for the competition. His logic found nothing but positive reasons to try. If he succeeded, he wouldn’t have to rely on his parents money anymore; he would be recognized as a writer by a well renowned publishing company; and he would also get extra credit for trying, so that was a bonus. Even still, his doubts still roared loudly in his head. What if his parents found out and forced him to drop out of school? What if the publisher hated his work and destroyed his chances with all other companies? What if he disappointed Professor Sharp?

The battle went on in his mind for several days, making him dread this upcoming Thursday, which was the very last day to apply. Everyone else began to notice the change in demeanor and would ask him what was wrong, and after he would tell them about it they all encouraged him to go through with it as well.

“Hey there kiddo!” Patton cheered as he opened the door enthusiastically, returning from his job at the local pet store, bringing Dexter’s train of thought away from the homework that was sprawled out on his bed. Before Dexter could properly return the greeting his face was being stuffed into the front of Patton’s blue coat as he was hugged tightly by the art student. “You excited for tomorrow?” He asked, letting go of him.

Dexter groaned and fell back into his pillow, wiping his face with his hands.

“I have decided on what to do.” He moaned.

Patton looked at him curiously, taking off his jacket and throwing it onto his bed before sitting down beside him. He tapped his foot repeatedly but Dexter didn’t mind, Patton always did that since it was hard for him to stay still.

“Oh, you mean for the competition?” 

No,” He mumbled, “You all say I shouldn’t try, that I’ll fail, but I just have the feeling that I’ll win.” Patton paused for a moment, appearing to be in deep thought, before he spoke again. 

“Well, won’t know if you don’t try. This could even be the first of many failures, but no matter what happens it means you tried, many people don’t have the strength to do that.”

That made Dexter think, really think. Because Patton was right. He could give up before even trying and continue as he was and play it safe, or he could give it a shot, risk failure; but if he didn’t do it he’d risk success. Just as Patton had said, he wouldn’t know if he didn’t try.

No thanks Patton,” Dexter said with a small smile.

“You’re welcome kiddo?” He said back, “Any other plans for tomorrow?”

Yes, why?”

A sudden gleam settled in his eyes and a scheming smile took over his lips. Patton got up and headed for his own bed with a twirl.

“No reason.” Well there was obviously a reason but he wasn’t about to ask anytime soon, based on the look he was given

After their conversation ended Dexter went onto his computer and filled out his application, then sent it on its way. A few minutes later he got a confirmation email, and after that it was all set in stone. He was entered in the competition.

The next day everyone was acting straight out their minds, or rather gay out of their minds- but that wasn’t the point! During their group commute the conversation seemed oddly forced and secretive, as if they were all desperately avoiding a certain topic. They also weirdly asked for his opinion on almost everything consistently. Now it wasn’t as if the others ignored him on a daily basis, but they all knew that he was more of a listener than a talker. So when Roman nonchalantly asked him about his preference on being inside or outside, Dexter’s suspicion-o meter dialed up to a ten.

“Are you guys exposing something from me?” They all either took a moment to understand what he just said or to come up with a group excuse, Dexter wasn’t sure which one.

“Nooo,” Patton drawled out, “We would never keep anything from you, and if we did it’s because we love you or are throwing you a surpr-”

“No we aren’t.” Virgil interrupted, “We’re all just happy that you went through with the competition.”

That explanation didn’t seem to be all that truthful, which hurt him a little that they’d all lie to him, but if they were it was probably for a surprise or something. Dexter just hoped they weren’t mocking him.

Later on everyone was absent during lunch, a sticky note left on their usual table told him that everyone had to be somewhere else but they’d see each other after school. Dexter’s only class for the day was already over, so he elected to just go buy ice cream and mope about for awhile. However, he ran into Remy before he had a chance to exit the building, or rather the T.A. came barreling towards him in a frenzy.

“Wait! Dee Snek!” He shouted as he came closer, “Where you heading off to?”

Dexter blushed slightly, not wanting to admit that he had planned to spend the afternoon possibly crying over a tub of ice cream. 

“J-just not on my way for some ice cream.” He replied shyly.

“In the middle of winter?” Remy asked wittily, gesturing his head to the heavy snowfall outside. Dexter blushed deeper when he realized his stupidity, but tried to play it off as intentional.

“Uh, no, ice cream isn’t still tasty no matter the season.” 

“Maybe, but best not to risk it in negative degree weather. Here, I’ll buy you a hot chocolate.” Remy grinned, leading the way towards the cafeteria’s ordering window. Dexter hurried after him and tried to change his mind.

Yes, It isn’t fine, you have to get me it.” Fuck why do I sound like an asshole?

“I already was, Sneky.” He laughed happily, Dexter momentarily froze at the new nickname, suddenly feeling a bit warmer.

Remy bought a cup of hot chocolate for Dexter, and a white chocolate mocha for himself, and then lead them outside, where they simply walked and talked, and of course drank. He let Remy speak the most though, and just opted to listen. He liked listening to him speak. Although it didn’t take long for Remy to notice his lack of contribution to their increasingly one-sided conversation.

“Thinking about something?”

Not really,” He confessed, “just wondering what the others aren’t doing right now.”

“Ah, them,” He said in an unreadable tone, taking a lift sip from his drink, “They really care about you don’t they?”

“You don’t think so?” Dexter asked hopefully. Remy turned to him with a kind of amazed stare.

“Don’t you?”

Dexter shrugged slightly, turning his eyes downward with a pout, watching as his feet made tracks in the snow, “Well no, but they seem kinda close today.”

“Well it’s just one day, yeah?”

Nah, but what if it’s just ending, and we continue to grow closer-“

“If that’s they case then they’d be blind fools to do so. But trust me Dee Sneky, they ain’t going nowhere. You’re too much of a treasure for anyone to leave so easily.”

Dexter looked up to him from the ground, searching his face for any sign of deceit, but found none. Even with the sunglasses hiding his eyes, all he saw was earnest care and something else that put a little bit of fear in Dexter’s heart.

No thank you” He thanked him, and by God the pure radiance of the smile he gave him made Dexter wish he had a pair of sunglasses as well.

“You’re welcome, Dee.” He said back sincerely.

After a while more of strolling, and a short break in the University's library, the two of them ended up in front of the dorms, apparently having walked across the entire campus. It was also when Dexter realized that his fingers and toes were beginning to go numb. He decided to offer Remy to join him for a while to warm-up before he went back to his apartment. Remy checked the time on his phone before nodding, joining him up the stairs to his dorm room, texting someone as they went. 

Arriving at his door, Dexter pulled out his key and unlocked the door, pushing it open and walking in. However he didn’t make it two steps in before he was screaming in fear as the lights suddenly switched on and several people jumped at him.

“Happy Birthday!” Everyone shouted, including Remy as well. Dexter, however, was already cowering in the hallway, curled into a ball on the floor.

“Oh, sorry kiddo, did we scare you?” Patton questioned, running over to him and kneeling at his side.

No!” Dexter cried, “What isn’t going on?”

Just then he noticed the banner that was hanging across the back wall in their room along with all the decorations, presents, and balloons. “It isn’t my birthday?”

“You forgot Dex?” Roman inquired in astonishment.

“I do know,” Dexter mumbled, “It just was a big deal when I was younger.”

“Well, we’re changing that.” Virgil announced, offering a hand and lifting him off the hallway floor. “Today is your day, man, and it’s gonna be the biggest deal from now on, my dude.”

“Yes, it would only make sense to properly celebrate the one in 10^2,685,000 chance that you as an individual were created.” Logan added in. Everyone stood quiet for moment trying not to think about the meaning of life. Then Logan offered a gift to him, “I understand it is a formal custom to give gifts on such occasions.”

“It is honey but we’re gonna do that after the cake.” Patton told him, kissing him on the cheek as he took the gift and out it withe the others.

“Ah, my mistake.”

“So, the reason you all weren’t so secretive today was because you guys weren’t throwing me a party?”

“Yep!” Remy chimed in from behind him, “I was supposed to keep you busy while they prepared everything.”

Dexter beamed with overwhelming joy, because this was the first birthday party he’s had since his sister was born. Every year his parents would simply take him to dinner and buy him a new educational book or a pen, and once high school began it became he was given twenty dollars and a pat on the back. Of course his sister always made him a card each year, and each one he still had tucked away in his drawer, but that was the most he ever got on his birthday. The fact that his friends would go this far for him made Dexter want to cry.

And he did cry.

“T-th-th...tha-thank yo-y-y...yo-you.” That may have been the hardest thing he has ever said, but he managed to get past his impediment in order to show his gratefulness. The others noticed the sheer amount of effort he put in to do that and all smiled as well. He rubbed furiously at the tears but they kept flowing.

This was hands down the best day of his life.

Chapter Text

Dexter was going to go straight to work on his story after he sent in his application, but his surprise birthday party the next day had created a distraction. Don’t get him wrong, he loved the party and wouldn’t have traded the time spent with his friends for anything else. Seeing Roman drunkenly professing his undying love to a very embarrassed, and very sober, Virgil was something he was more than happy to record; and the new presents he had gotten from everyone were amazing, his favorite one being a massive pen that came in a sword’s sheath with a snake design from Roman, so that was another bonus. But once he came back from his classes, and after the mess from the day before had been cleaned up with Patton’s help, Dexter got straight to work. He only had a little over month to do this after all.

First he thought about the competition’s prompt: What did ____ do to deserve it? It was such a vague idea, anything could be written based off of that, which was both good and terrifying. A heartbreaking romance could be written, a dystopia, a coming of age, anything. However, Dexter’s main question was whether or not it could be turned into a horror. That genre was his forte, it was where he was comfortable, and if Professor Sharp had faith he could win through it then he wouldn’t dare change his style now. 

Dexter lounged around the room, went for a drive, got tea, and did some quick grocery shopping, trying to find inspiration. Typically in horror, events would happen to the main character for either no apparent reason or because they tampered with something they shouldn’t have, or someone is out to get them; but they never really deserved it. 

Eventually, after a few hours of moping about due to the plague of writer’s block, he found himself in the reptile shop looking at their snakes. He had originally gone there to buy Dee Dee her food, but was captivated by the beautiful animals. The sun was setting and he’d have to leave soon before it got too cold to be out; but he found himself watching as a beautiful boa constrictor curled itself around a fake branch in its exhibit.

A thought came to him. 

What did this snake do to be kept in this glass cage? Was it caught or poached, was it breed or born domestically?

Another thought came to him.

What if I was locked up like them? Why would I be?

Then a burst of plot ideas came to him, and he ran to his car to get back home. Buying the food first of course.

It was a Friday night and he was spending it cooped up at his desk writing ideas for a new story. Dexter wanted it to be told through a first person point of view, with no clear indication of the main character’s name, age, or gender; that way it be more suspenseful and mysterious. The character would be trapped in a room, all white, with a door on the ceiling out of reach and nothing inside but a soft red ball. The story would be told in a recount of how the character came to be trapped there, with them constantly asking themselves if they deserved to be there or not. 

Dexter worked until around two in the morning working out the kinks in the story, Patton was gone at Logan’s place so he had no one to tell him otherwise. He had work the next day however, so he eventually forced himself to go to sleep to make sure he wasn’t a complete zombie the next day.

He started at Anne’s Bookshelf at nine in the morning and worked until five in the evening. The day had been somewhat busy since it was the weekend, but not too much of a rush, which Dexter was grateful for. Although he didn’t work the counter this time he was kept busy by organizing the books, returning them to their proper places and the like. The occasional customer would come up to him and ask for help though. Before he went back to the dorm after his shift ended he grabbed some quick Filipino takeout for dinner since he didn’t feel like cooking that night in the dorm’s kitchen, despite the fact that he had just bought groceries the day before.

When he arrived back Patton was there, watching a cartoon on his laptop with a bowl of popcorn in his lap. Dexter greeted him but he didn’t respond he and tried again but still nothing, until after the fourth try when Patton finally realized that he was being spoken to.

“Huh? Oh, hi kiddo! Just got back from work?” 

No, I didn’t bring dinner if you want any.”

“No I’m alright.” Five minutes later Patton was idly taking his lumpia from the takeout box. That was fine with Dexter as long as he didn’t touch his bihon. 

Dexter got back to work soon after, eating as he worked and occasionally spilling food on his notebook paper. Patton occasionally asked what he was doing, but Dexter would simply reply with “Not writing.” When Patton asked what he was writing about he’d just tell him that he wasn’t sure yet or that it was for the competition. By the end of the night he had a rough sketch of a plot that he was most definitely going to change along the way, but for now it was good. The next day he got started on the first chapter, but didn’t finish.

His work carried out into the week, and then the next, and a rigid schedule was thus then established. Wake up; go to school; eat lunch with friends; go to his next class if he had on that day; go to work; grab takeout; work on any homework he had assigned; and then work on his story. This routine was in fact so strict that Dexter only saw his friends on occasion, mainly when they carpooled and had lunch together. Other than that he didn’t see them as much. He’d still of course see Patton, since they shared a dorm room, but when he was in the room with him he was usually too busy to talk. Patton would certainly take any chance he could, however, and would talk his ear off whenever he took a small break to rest his wrists or to eat. Dexter found it nice. The others had come over several times, but it almost always got too distracting and Dexter would have to pack up and go to the library.

He wasn’t ignoring them per say, he was just preoccupied and they knew that. Dexter had actually apologized profusely several times about his absence, but each time his friends would tell him that they understood and held no blame towards him. Patton and Roman especially, since they were both creators, they knew how hard it was to create such a difficult project in such a short amount of time.

This carried on over the next few weeks all the way up to the competition, but whenever Dexter was able to find a break in between his busy schedule he’d run his story by both Roman and Logan, since Roman was able to check the creative aspect and quality of the story, and Logan the technical. Dexter wanted his professor to help out as well, but the rules forbade teachers and administrators from interfering, but luckily not other students. Roman would give him tips on the plot, descriptions, and word play; while Logan checked grammar, sentence structure, and overall logistics. Yes, Dexter was capable of checking for all of this himself, but it saved his ass a lot of time by seeking help from a second and third source.

Virgil was chill throughout the entire process as well, although he would at times admit that the circumstances were kind of shitty. Whenever he would come over, as long as Roman wasn’t with him, Virgil would do his best to respect his need to concentrate and simply lie down on Dexter’s bed and go on Tumblr. Over the months that he’s know the emo, Dexter has learned that he doesn’t like to be alone, and simply being in the presence of someone else is enough to comfort him.

And then there was Remy... who was a whole other story all together. Even before he entered the competition the two didn’t see each other every single day, and would only every hang out side of school a handful of times. And yet Dexter noticed his absence. 

One reason for this was that he no longer got his daily text. After the third week into their strange friendship, when they had exchanged numbers, Remy had made it a point to text him at least once a day. Sometimes it was a generic hello, a flirtatious comment, or a humorous note on how his day was going. He didn’t know why, but these little messages had managed to make him smile every day. Yet, the day after Dexter had told Remy that his writing for the competition was going to keeping him occupied, the texts stopped. Dexter tried to concentrate solely on his work, but he found himself constantly checking his phone for a notification. He had suspected that Remy was either caught up in something, had a dead battery, or was planning to text him goodnight like he sometimes did. But when the day passed and nothing had happened, he became worried. Dexter asked about it the next day when he saw him in anatomy. 

“Aww, did you miss me yesterday?” He asked teasingly, ruffling Dexter’s hair playfully. Dexter swatted his hands away, making the boy laugh, and flushed a slight pink.

Yes.” He denied and fixed his hair back into its place. “I just wasn’t confused. You never text me.”

“Never knew you liked my texts that much.” He noted with a grin, making Dexter’s blush spread to his ears. “I just wanted to give you your space to work, Snakey. I know you don’t need no distraction.” Remy confessed his tone light and earnest... and a little something else. Dexter didn’t dwell on it.

He felt stunned in that moment, for some reason not expecting Remy to care so much about his writing. It isn’t that Dexter thought Remy was heartless or uncaring, he just thought that he wouldn’t be too interested in what he liked, or would care enough to listen to him ramble on about them.

“Of course I do, Dee Snek, what do you take me for?”

Ah fuck I said that out loud didn’t I?

Remy giggle fondly, “You sure did, babe.” Dexter smiled warmly at this, not understanding why, it just felt right.

Dexter was able to work with a sound mind knowing that he hadn’t angered, upset, or offended any of his friends with his absence. He would have his off days when he wasn’t able to get a single word out of his brain, even at the cost of his soul; and then he had his days when he was writing a mile a minute and rejected all food, water, and sunlight. Patton would quickly snap him out of it though and force him to at least have a snack.

His story was progressing nicely and he found himself on the fifth chapter after about two weeks, which was an honest blessing. Roman was currently editing his fourth chapter; Logan had already edited it for mistakes, now he went to Roman for constructive criticism. His next chapter was nearly done, reaching about sixteen pages long at the end. It was Saturday and he had the day off from both school and his job. His wrist burned with pain and stress, and his shoulders were tense and sore, but he continued to push himself. A few more paragraphs and he’d be able to send the chapter on its way to Logan for him to edit.

His writing frenzy was suddenly interrupted by the blasting ringtone of his cell. The caller ID notifying him that it was Remy that was trying to get in contact.

Goodbye?” He answered with a tired sigh, leaning back in his chair.

“Jeez, hello to you to sunshine.” He joked through the other end of the line.

“I’m not sorry, Rem. I’m just a little energized.” The line stayed quiet for a moment.

“You must be ‘cause that’s the first you’ve ever called me that.” He pointed out. Dexter promptly became aware of his words, becoming sheepish and fidgeted in his seat nervously.

“I-is that not okay?”

“It’s more than okay, babes, don’t worry ‘bout it.” He told him, calming Dexter down, “By the way, you don’t have any plans today, do you?”

“Besides not working, yes, why?”

“Well, I just wanted to know if you would like to come over to my place. We could watch a movie or something. But if you don’t like being alone we could go somewhere more public.”

Dexter thought for a minute. He looked to his chapter, less than a page to go to finish it, it’d be under an hour; he turned to looked at the calendar, he still had a little under three weeks to finish and he was making good progress, an few hours wouldn’t hurt.

“Would you mind not giving me two hours? I don’t have to finish up here.”

“Sure thing, snake babe.”

“Please do call me that again.”

Dexter was able to finish the chapter after fifty minutes. He gave it a quick glance for any red lines that signified misspelled words and fixed them before sharing the document with Logan via email. Once that was done he quickly checked on Dee Dee to make sure she was warm enough and had plenty of water. He was pretty sure he hadn’t cleaned himself in a few days, so he quickly hopped into the shower to clean off the grime. He blow dried his hair and slipped on a robe to keep him warm as he chose an outfit, since he had been wearing his pajamas prior to the call.

He looked over his monochrome and yellow clothes, suddenly loathing his lack of variety. Remy always wore such unique and stylish clothing every day, appearing to almost never wear the same thing twice. Yet, Dexter owned ten variations of the exact same black shirt, with two grey button-ups thrown in there. Dexter dug as far as he could into his closet and found an old yellow button up that he had got in high school and hadn’t worn in more than a year. Remy hadn’t seen him wear it yet, so he deemed it worthy enough. He paired it with his slimmest pair of black slacks and a black vest. Digging into his drawer he found an old pair of black gloves and chose them over his yellow ones. At last he grabbed his favorite and only bowler hat and placed it onto his head, and looked into the mirror.

He looked... like a Bill Cipher cosplayer. Dexter groaned, but decided to roll with it; he didn’t have time to change into something else.

Why am I doing this? He questioned in his head as he looked over his reflection. The shirt was a little tight, as it was bough a few years ago, and it squeezed against his chest slightly when he breathed in. Why do I care what he thinks of me?

Because we’re friends. Dexter decided, pushing away his thoughts and moving to grab his coat, keys, and wallet. With a goodbye to Dee Dee he left the room and went to his car, texting Remy to give him his address since he’d never been to his place before. During the drive there his nerves, which were already jacked up, became an utter mess.

I’m just hanging out with a friend. I’m just hanging out with a friend. I’m just hanging out with a friend. Who is very flirty. Alone. In his apartment-

Dexter suddenly chickened out and pulled over to the side of the road. He barely registered that his hands were shaking as he pulled out his phone and brought up Remy’s contact.

You: Could we possibly go see a movie at the theater instead? Maybe grab some lunch before or after.

Blood thumped in his ears with each passing second that he waited until Remy responded the next minute.

Remy: Yeah sure. I’ll meet ya at the downtown theater in 15.

Dexter let out a relieved sigh, throwing his head back and leaning into his seat dramatically. His initial worry began to fade knowing that he’d be in a public setting with Remy. Then he furrowed his brows in confusion as he wondered why it mattered. Dexter trusted Remy not to try anything, and it’s not like the other man liked him like that anyways, so why did it scare him to be alone with him? He’s done it before.

With a shake of his head, Dexter ran his fingers through his hair and started his car up again, pulling away from the curb and making his way to the theater, which he happened to only be a few blocks away from.

Dexter pulled into the downtown parking garage and went up to the third level until he found an open space. He didn’t see Remy’s car anywhere as he walked down, so he assumed he hadn’t arrived yet. The bright whiteness of the snow on the ground almost blinded him when he stepped out of the structure, causing him to blink harshly several times for his eyes to adjust. The theater was built recently but had an old fashion style to it that made it quite charming. Names and times of different movies were displayed on the board over head. Dexter pulled out his phone and looked at the reviews for each one. Some were rated pretty well and others had horrible reviews, but none of that mattered because as soon as he saw the genre of one movie being under horror he knew exactly which one he wanted to see.

“Hey, yo Dee!” Remy’s voice in the distance shouted, drawing Dexter’s, and a couple others’, attention to him.

Bye, Remy.” He greeted as the man ran up to him, “Sorry I didn’t change the plans at such a long notice.”

“Nah, it’s fine babes. So what movie did you wanna see?” He inquired pointing his thumb towards the board.

Dexter suddenly felt shy about his choice and rubbed his hands together, “Um, h-how about not Corruption?”

“Corruption?” Remy echoed, “Isn’t that the horror flick people have been talking ‘bout?” He questioned, looking at Dexter with slight confusion. Dexter lowered his head in shame, staring at his shoes.

“O-or we can’t watch something else-”

“No!” Remy suddenly denied loudly, “If that’s what you wanna watch then we’ll watch it. You just never told me you were into horror.”

“Yeah, I hate horror movies; sorry, I thought hadn’t told you.”

“It’s fine, I like learning things about you.” Remy said with a smile. Dexter froze in his spot as the other man went up to the window to buy tickets, pulling out his card from his purse. Slowly he looked over and watched him buy them, his heart clenching awkwardly. His head felt slightly dizzy, but he pushed down the feeling and went to join him on the way inside.

The movie had indeed been scary, the gore and intensity of the screenplay igniting screams from everyone in the theater, except for Dexter, who instead laughed in glee. If he did ever scream it wasn’t from terror, but from joy. Remy on the other hand was barely watching the movie, and was hiding himself in his jacket so he couldn’t see what was happening. Dexter felt slightly bad for making his friend go through this, but seeing the usually cool and collected Remy revert into a scared child was too worth it.

During one scene when a character was being eaten alive by rabid dogs, his guts spilling out on screen, Remy hid his face in Dexter’s shoulder, his head resting in the crook of his neck as he whimpered. The action caused the writer to stiffen slightly out of surprise before relaxing into the touch. Dexter looked away from the screen down at Remy, and although he couldn’t see his face, he blushed at how adorable he looked.

What’s happening to me? I don’t usually get like this.

Once the movie ended, the two of them decided to go to a Sushi bar across the street to eat. Remy was still shaken up from the movie and looked sort of wrecked as they waited for their food to come.

“That was fucking intense. I still don’t understand how you weren’t screaming.” Remy told him, rubbing his eyes under his sunglasses. Dexter shrugged in response, taking a calm sip from his hot tea.

“I haven’t been watching horror for years, maybe I’m not just used to them.” He commented absentmindedly. 

The waiter then brought over their food, both sharing a dragon roll, a crunchy roll, and a rainbow roll, which Remy called the gayest of the rolls. Their meal was filled with light conversation and banter, purposefully leaving the topic of the movie behind. Dexter didn’t want to upset him any more.

Remy asked him about the progress of his story, to which he quickly explained that it was a horror novel and he didn’t want to freak him out. The older man waved him off and said that he didn’t mind and wanted to listen anyways. Dexter grinned and gave him a short synopsis of what he had so far and a few hints of what was to come in later chapters. Remy appeared to be hanging off of every word he spoke, listening intently as he explained the lore and background of the story.

Later, once the meal was finished and paid for the two of them, they walked out of the restaurant and headed back for their cars. Dexter didn’t want to admit it, but he didn’t want to leave Remy just yet. Ironically, they had parked right next to each other without realizing it.

“Well, I guess I won’t see you later.” Dexter said, walking backwards towards his car with his hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Hold on just a sec, I gotta gift for you.” Remy spoke up, quickly unlocking his door and reaching over to the passenger seat. He pulled out a large stuffed, yellow snake wearing a little hat and bow-tie. Dexter squealed slightly when he saw it. “Happy Valentine's day.”

“It isn’t Valentine’s day?” Dexter asked, not realizing the date. That meant that it was also Logan and Patton’s one year anniversary today, and would explain why they, Roman and Virgil, were all out on dates.

What does that make this? Dexter blushed at the thought, taking the toy into his arms.

“Whoa, no thank you so much Rem. It’s hideous.”

Remy smiled. “You called me that again.”

He smiled as well. “I didn’t.”

Chapter Text

Dexter had never experienced a panic attack before, he’s been scared and nervous before yes, but it’s never been too extreme. However he’s witnessed plenty since becoming close with Virgil, as his friend deals with heightened anxiety, to have a good idea of what might be happening at the moment.

He was definitely having a panic attack.

“I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.”

A knock came from outside his dorm’s bathroom door.

“Kiddo? Are you almost ready to go?” Patton called from the other side.

“Uh, no! I won’t be out in a moment.” Dexter yelled back in reply, lifting his head from its spot on the floor.

“Well alright. Roman and Virgil are already in the car, we’ll be waiting for you but you better hurry! The competition starts in twenty minutes.”

And with that Dexter was left alone on the floor of the bathroom, dressed fully in a black and yellow suit, shaking violently unable to control his breathing and unable to stop crying. He could have asked Patton to come in and help him, or at least text Virgil to come up from the car since he knew the most about how to deal with panic attacks, but he didn’t want to be a bother or let them down.

The weeks had passed since Dexter had turned in his story, it was March 23rd, and the day of the official competition. He had turned in his story two weeks ago and ever since then he’s been waiting for the judges’ reading period to end. All this time Dexter hadn’t felt nervous once, he had been calm, collected, and entirely confident.

It was all because of his friends’ constant support and assistance that he was even able to finish in time, and it was due to their encouragement and praises that he was able to be so sure of himself. But then something happened with Remy that brought all of his doubt to the forefront.

One week ago, March 17, 6 o’clock in the evening.

Dexter drove down the city center to Remy’s apartment for the first time. A month ago he had been invited here and he had been too scared to go, but now he felt comfortable enough with the other to not mind the idea. Remy had been reading his story over the week, as all his friends were, as he sent them all a digital link, and had finally finished. Remy had yet to tell him what he thought and insisted that he come over to his apartment so they could talk over it. This seemed like an excuse for Remy to just hang out with him but he didn’t mind.

He parked his car in the guest section and made his way to Remy’s apartment on the first floor, tentatively he knocked on the door.

“Whom’st is there?” Remard, which he hilariously learned was his full name, called from inside.

“Thy bad friend, Dexter.”

The door swung open hastily inward and revealed the medical student, panting and in a slightly disheveled mess. His hair was ruffled and tossed out of place, slightly damp with sweat, while his hands and wrists were covered in flour and some sort of red sauce. An adorable red apron with a teddy bear design was wrapped tightly around his body, covered in flour and food as well. The whole scene was pretty adorable, but what really took Dexter by surprise that Remy wasn’t wearing his sunglasses, and Remy could see the different colors of his irises---dark chocolate brown and silver grey. It was a rarity that Remy was ever caught without his sunglasses.

“Mine very good friend,” Remy greeted and leaned against the door frame like a Victoria Secret model, his smirk lopsided and lazy, “You’re here twenty minutes early.”

“Oh, I’m not sorry, do you not need time-”

“No, no, no you’re fine!” Remy spoke up quickly, cutting Dexter off in his apologetic scurry of words, pushing himself off of the door frame to stand upright. “It’s alright, snake babe, it’s not a bother. You can watch Netflix while I finish up the surprise.”

Dexter calmed down from his previously growing panic and worry that he had annoyed his friend. He noticed that he often felt that way with Remy, concerned with how he was perceived although that was normal for him concerning anyone. Yet, this felt different somehow. It wasn’t so much that he was afraid of disappointing Remy, or that he felt obligated to meet some standard with him, but more of that he wanted to impress him... for some reason.

No way,” Dexter nodded slightly, stepping inside the apartment as Remy moved to allow him access.

The apartment was larger than he would have expected, more than three times larger than his dorm room, very spacious and warm. The living room had a large L-shaped sofa that could fit at least six bodies sitting in the middle across from a gigantic flat screen T.V. hung on the wall, several game consoles resting on a table underneath it. He could see the kitchen from the entryway, but the high counter hid most of it away, but not enough that he wasn’t able to appreciate how nice it looked. To the right was a short hallway that lead to what Dexter assumed where the bedrooms and bathroom. Despite the glory of it all, something seemed missing.

“Do your roommates not mind if I’m here?” He asked gingerly, taking off his coat and placing it on the coat rack beside the door. 

“I ain’t got any, just me in here.” Remy answered nonchalantly, making his way towards the television. “Oh, if you wouldn’t mind could you take your shoes off? Cleaning’s a bitch and I prefer to do it as rarely as possible. There are some extra slippers if ya need ‘em.”

“Um no,” He complied, slipping off his black boots and pulling on a pair of house slippers that sat in a basket close by. The slippers were a little big on his feet, dragging behind him, but it was better than walking on the cold hardwood in just socks.

Remy turned on the TV and opened up his Netflix account for Dexter, handing him the remote once he walked up beside him, his slippers slightly tripping him.

“You know how to navigate Netflix, right?” He asked.

Nope, it just hasn’t been a few years since I’ve had an account.”

Remy hummed to himself, “Note to self: snake babe mysteriously got rid of Netflix for some reason—find out more later.” He jested, pretending to write a memo on his hand. Dexter pushed him lightly with his shoulder.

“There is much to it. My parents thought it was a good influence and kept it, beginning of story.”

“Well they sound fun,” Remy said flatly, the joke laced in his tone. He opened his mouth to say something else but the beeping of the oven in the other room interrupted his train of thought.

“Hold that thought,” He made a gesture to grab at the invisible idea above his head, handing it over to Dexter, who took the non-tangible thought from him without hesitance. “Dinner is almost ready, pick a movie and we’ll eat on the couch.”

Dexter watched him walk into the kitchen. He took a seat on the overly large couch and searched through the options. Strangely enough he wasn’t in the mood for a horror tonight. Instead he found the movie Interstellar, which he has heard good reviews on, but has never watched. He waited until Remy came into the room to start the movie, although Remy later told him that it wasn’t necessary, he still wanted to do it.

Remy had cooked homemade pizza with all of Dexter’s favorite toppings: spinach, cottage cheese, and chicken. “I remember you once said you didn’t like how greasy fast food pizza was.” He had answers in Dexter’s question of why he went through the trouble of making an entire pizza. That made Dexter blush a little bit, but he quickly hid it away in a slice of pizza.

The movie was really odd, but intriguing. It wasn’t his usual genre that he’d typically choose on his own, but he knew that Remy liked complicated, abstract movies, so he wanted to give it a try for him; and he liked it. After it had ended, and the food was all gone, Dexter got down to why he had come here.

“So what did you not think of my story?”

Remy paused in thought for a moment.

“Do you like to dance?”

Where the fuck did that come from?

“Uh, I guess not...”

“Perfect!” Remy cheered, jumping up from the couch with a clap of his hands. “I’ll answer all questions in exchange for a dance.”

Dexter was about to tell him that he had already promised to answer his questions, but decided against it. Remy exited out of Netflix and went to YouTube on his TV, he played a song he’s never heard before called ‘Video Games’ by a singer named Lana Del Rey. It was a very slow song. Dexter had yet to stand up when Remy walked up in front of him, offering a hand to him.

“May I have this dance my good sir?”

Well I guess I don’t really have a choice.

Dexter took his hand and allowed himself to be hauled up from the couch. Remy placed a hand on his shoulder, still grasping his hand with his other. Not really knowing what to do, as he’s never slow danced with someone before, he let his empty arm hang at his side lifelessly.

Remy chuckled at this.

“May I?” He asked for consent before he made move to grab his arm, Dexter nodded silently so he lifted his arm and placed it on the ridge of his shoulder gently, careful with how he touched him. The beat was set at a calm pace, allowing them to simply sway together purposelessly. 

“So,” Dexter began again, “you weren’t saying.”

“Ah, yes, your story.” Remy giggled, delicately spinning them in short circles, “I’m not often one for reading, but your ideas just have a sort of magic. I couldn’t put it down, except to shower of course.” Dexter chuckled, not resisting the grin that came to his face. “I loved the fact that the narrator wasn’t specified, they could have been a cat for all I know. The unique reflection mixed with current thoughts made it feel like I was reading a diary, so that was a little odd, but welcomed.”

The song ended, turning into a much slower, more romantic, song. Neither paid any attention.

Nothing else?”

Remy smiled his eyes soft with a kind emotion. Dexter found himself in awe at the sight, astonished by the beauty of his two colored eyes that appeared to be so magnificent.

“It gave me a look into that pretty little head of yours,” Remy spun him in a circle, “You think so much, yet talk so little. I feel like I still know little about you after these past three months.”

“Perhaps you have been asking right questions.”

“How can I know what to ask when you stay locked up?”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t ask for the key.”

Taken aback for a moment, Remy froze in their steps, his mouth hung open. The song changed once again without them noticing. Once he got over his initial surprise Remy picked up their dance, turning his eyes to ground. Dexter a last noticed the shrinkage of space between them, their foreheads less than an inch from touching. Throwing all caution and previous doubt into the wind, Dexter pressed his forehead against Remy’s tenderly, as if the other would shatter at the touch.

“Would you give it to me if I asked?”

Dexter didn’t hesitate in his answer.

No.”

At this point he didn’t even understand what he was agreeing to, what their conversation was insinuating, or what Remy was truly asking for; but he knew that with him he felt safe and he wanted whatever they had to grow. Dexter wasn’t sure if that meant that he wanted to pursue a relationship with the other, he just wanted to be with him in any way he could.

The medical student looked up from the floor, piercing Dexter with his gaze as he searched--for something, he did not know what. Dexter didn’t, couldn’t, break eye contact; feeling as his breath was snatched away from him. After several painstakingly long seconds passed, Remy gently eased his palm onto the front of his mouth and kissed the back of his hand, creating an indirect kiss; as if a direct one would scare Dexter away forever. Dexter’s eyes widened to their largest capability, his body freezing in overwhelming shock. His thoughts began to boil.

He’s kissing me! Sort of. Does this mean he likes me like that? How do I respond? Should I respond? I can’t tell if I want this, but I don’t hate it. I should tell him to stop, but I don’t want him to. I’m not ready.

Eventually Dexter stepped away, jolting Remy back as he did so, his face filling with instant regret.

“I’m sorry! I must have read your words wrong.” Remy apologized sincerely, dropping his hand and hanging his head.

Yes! You did!” Dexter interjected swiftly, “I’m just ready for this.” Remy raised his head slightly at this, but no longer made eye contact.

“I understand I came off too strong. If it’s time you need, babes, it’s time you’ll get.”

Dexter drove home after that, taking some leftovers Remy had offered to him. When he had gotten back Patton asked about how it went, knowing that Dexter had gone to Remy’s to talk about his novel, but unaware of what had truly transpired there. He simply fell onto his bed and groaned in response.

This had left him in an emotional wreck for the better end of the next week, leaving him to mope in bed whenever he wasn’t class. Whenever he went to his anatomy class Remy would act as he always did, friendly and flirtatious, but now it seemed guarded. Dexter couldn’t help but feel like he messed everything up with his insecurities.

The others quickly took note of his behavior and set out to find out what was wrong, but Dexter refused to let a word be budged out of him. He could also tell that they went to Remy once he refused to answer them for the umpteenth time, but that they had no luck on that end earlier. Patton tried to coax it out of him with sweets and treats, but then give Dexter his space when he noticed his tough demeanor, realizing that he needed to think this out on his own. And he did.

Over the next week, after a few days of sulking, Dexter took some time while he was lying alone in bed to do some soul searching. He thought over two important subjects in regard to what had happened: why he wanted it and why he rejected it.

Dexter has never held attraction for anyone before, not male, female, or non-binary. Not sexual, not romantic, he’s never had interest; and then Remy came along. Dexter had no sexual desire for Remy, he was still very much asexual, but he was finding a craving within himself to be with him. He didn’t mind when Remy wanted to hold his hand, although he sometimes refused out of embarrassment; he enjoyed it when they leaned in together whenever they were close, such as when they were watching Netflix; and he adored it when Remy would hide his face in his neck like a scared child when they watched that scary movie in theaters. Dexter didn’t mind his touch, he found comfort in it.

Yet it scared the shit out of him all at the same time. Dexter had never been one for physical touch. He couldn’t remember the last time his parents hugged him, or if they ever did. His little sister Daisy was barely allowed to be around him when they still lived together. He was constantly alone in school, no friends to speak off, no one to high five, give a pat on the back, or hug. He got that now from his new friends, but mostly from Patton. Logan wasn’t one for open affection, Patton being the exception, Roman was better but it was full of half-hugs or heavy pats on the back. Virgil loved to cuddle only when he was emotional or tired. Of course there was that time when he told them all about his past, but that felt different.

With Remy it was a constant, the man lived off of a constant need to be connected with other people. Remy wanted to link arms as they walked, he wanted to cuddle when they sat; he wanted to hold hands as they ate. More often than not Dexter would reject all of this purely because he wasn’t used to it, it wasn’t normal. Previously he had no friends to do this with, but now he had to put this into a ‘more-than-friends’ point of view, which is what he believed Remy wanted, and maybe what he wanted to.

But then how could he maintain introducing another life into his on that level when he could barely handle his own? He had so much baggage; Remy shouldn’t have to deal with all of that, he deserves someone who won’t weigh him down.

Although, perhaps it was what Dexter deserved. It sounded like a foolish fantasy to seek comfort in affection of a romantic nature, if that was what he was getting at, as if he was shying away from his issues and seeking someone else to cover them for him. Yet, shouldn’t he be allowed to choose his own path and how he wanted to proceed? Finding comfort in the arms of another was one of the many substances of being human, and a luxury he has sorely lacked. Even if nothing is to be settled between them beyond being just friends, the nature of which that comfort originates should not be one of shame.

On the other hand, did the purpose and reason behind his thoughts make Dexter selfish? Was it cruel of him to take advantage of the emotions Remy possibly held towards him to simply seek consolation, did that demean his feelings?

No. Dexter thought with surety. Because he felt the same way as well. Perhaps it wasn’t on the same level or of the same kind, but Dexter had grown a fondness for the older student over the past few months. The friendly chastising tone of his voice and coy nature was endearing, his humor comical, and his kindness heart-warming. There were many a traits that Dexter could list, and each would be just as loving as the last.

But Dexter still wasn’t ready for a relationship, he wasn’t capable yet of understanding how to start or keeping it healthy. Growing up around uncaring parents and indifferent schoolmates, Dexter wasn’t sure how to care correctly.

He dwelled on these thoughts for a good long while, asking himself questions and seeking the answers.

This led him to where he was now on the floor. In reality, Dexter wasn’t anxious about the ceremony today, although that did tingle his nerves a bit, but because he had made the decision to confront Remy today after the competition. He had sent a text to him half an hour ago asking if he’d be there at the competition, but has yet to get a reply.

So if he failed both the competition and gets rejected, well he’ll be fucked.

Pushing himself up from the floor on shaky limbs, Dexter stared at his reflection in the mirror. A thin line of sweat covered his forehead. He wiped it off with his sleeve. With a deep inhale and shuttered breath out, he pushed his way out of the bathroom.

True to his word, Patton and the gang were waiting for him outside the dorm building doors, the dad’s minivan running and ready to go. Dexter quickly jogged up and crawled in.

“Thank God you came, I was about to have aneurysm if you didn’t show up in the next five minutes!” Virgil complained from the back seat.

Not sorry,” Dexter apologized, “I wasn’t having jitters.” Patton drove out of the parking lot and turned down the street.

“The competition is being held in the city’s library fifteen minutes away. We should arrive with approximately five minutes to park and find a seat inside. If traffic and parking is pleasant, then we should arrive exactly when time is called.” Logan spoke informatively from the front seat, giving the layout of the likelihood of their arrival.

“And if not we’ll be fashionably late.” Roman added after.

“Which isn’t preferable.”

“I’d rather not.”

Logan and Virgil both interjected in disagreement with the previous statement.

The traffic wasn’t terrible but the parking was basically a nightmare, after about three minutes of driving around with no luck of finding a spot, Patton pulled up in front of the library steps and allowed him to hop out so at least he could be on time. The seats were nearly completely full, save for a few scattered on the middle and back. The student writers had reserved seats in the front, one still being open for him.

Dexter walked to his seat, taking in all the others around him. Dexter noted that there were five female students, and one other male. The judges were already at the booth, talking quietly among each other. Two of the candidates were talking, but the rest all kept to themselves. He looked over his shoulder at the room around him, searching the crowd for any familiar faces. He spotted Professor Sharp on the end of the row opposite to him and gave her an excited wave; she waved back promptly when she took notice of him as well. Dexter continued to search through the crowd behind and next to him, observing as his friends at last walked in and found seating.

The judges on the panel called attention to the front, starting the event. Remy still wasn’t here. The audience ceased all talking straightaway, permitting the judges the quiet they needed to make their announcements.

“Good evening, everyone. My name is Janie Starks, representative of the Youth Writers Association. Here at the Y.W.A we pride ourselves on discovering talent in young college students and highschoolers and providing them with an early gateway to becoming professionals in their crafts. Over the past month our lucky contestants have spent numerous hours writing a short story for each of us to read. All of them were great, but unfortunately, only one can earn the scholar ship and publishing deal. So, without further ado here are our top three winners.”

The crowed clapped in anticipation, eagerly eating up the seconds until the winners would be revealed. Proud parents feasting such as wolves, loved ones and encouraging teachers acting as pig who demanded to skip the appetizer and head straight for the main course. The announcer acted as a patient waiter who kept them in line, slowly taking the card up from its placement on the table and into her hands with grace.

“Third place goes to... Jessica Jackson.” The announcer continued on before the applause could erupt, describing the basics of her story’s plot, what was honored in her story, and thanking her for her participation. Jessica, who looked to be a college senior, stood from her chair and took her green ribbon, certificate, and fifty dollar check, shaking hands with each of the judges before sitting down again.

“Second place goes to... Dexter Woodbrooke.” He let out a deep breath that he wasn’t aware that he was holding. An indecent shout of cheer sounded from the back, but he didn’t dare look away from the panel. “Mr. Woodbrooke’s story of a traumatic past, present imprisonment and eternal questioning of self shines in this excellent masterpiece, moving the reader to both loathe and empathize with the narrator of the story. It is for those reasons that we award Dexter Woodbrooke with second place.”

The crowd finally cheered, everyone turning to him expectantly, some with envy, others with sympathy, and others with pride. The lady at his side nudged his shoulder, gesturing for him to walk to the panel. Dexter walked up to the announcer, accepting the red ribbon, certificate, and one hundred dollar check. Dexter felt happy and accomplished, but did not shy away from the slight disappointment, but he did not let that feeling take over. Turing back to the crowd, showing off his ribbon ceremoniously, he witnessed as his friends in the back jumped up and down in joy for him, save for Logan who stayed grounded, but still bristled with motherly pride. That’s when he noticed that, standing beside the door, as there were no ore chairs left, was Remy, screaming his lungs out in praise.

 

“I am so proud of you!” Professor Sharp cried joyfully, wrapping her arms around him as he bent down to hug her.

No thank you so little ma’am.” 

The ceremony had ended; first prize going to a girl named Emily, and now everyone was helping themselves to the buffet. Patton, Virgil and the rest had all already congratulating in a large and conscripting group hug, Patton shaking him violently by the shoulders in unsuppressed glee. They gathered around him for a good long while giving him both their praises and condolences. Dexter didn’t mind too much that he didn’t receive first place, he was content with second as it still showed off his skill in a high regard. He had noticed his professor wheeling herself over to him as they talked, so he excused himself from the group, suggesting they eat what they could before it was all gone.

Now he did the same to Professor Sharp when he saw Remy making his way over to him.

“I did think you’d come.” Dexter told him as he walked up.

“My alarm didn’t go off,” Remy excused himself, smiling widely, “Congratulations on second, Dee Snek, I personally thought you should’ve gotten first.”

Dexter shrugged at this. “Emily didn’t deserve it.”

“So did you.” He stepped closer, pausing in his actions and taking a step backwards as well. Dexter perceived this and frowned lightly, he moved in closer instead. 

“Can we not talk?”

“Aren’t we already?” Dexter gave him a look. “Alight, sure.” He held his hands up in surrender.

Dexter led the way to a secluded section of the library down one of the high aisles of books stacking high above their heads. Once they were far enough out of sight, and closed off enough from the rambunctious noise, Dexter turned to face him.

“So what did ya wanna talk abou-” Remy began, but was swiftly hushed as Dexter slapped a hand over his lips and kissed the back of his hand, mimicking the move Remy had done earlier. This effectively stunted the talkative other, reducing him to a stunned statue, even after he pulled away.

“I hate you!” He shouted in an embarrassingly loud voice, his hands shaking and his face beat red. “I really hate you, and I’m sorry I did say last time but I wasn’t too scared. I’m used to this so I panicked, I healed you and I’m not sorry for that, but I’d hate another chance.”

By the end of it Dexter was a panting, shy, and bubbling mess. Remy had yet to respond and stared plainly at him for a long moment, and then a chuckle escaped him. Soon he was flat out laughing.

Do mock me!” Dexter whined, lightly shoving him.

“Sorry, you’re just so adorable,” He giggled, wiping away small tears from his eyes, taking several breaths in to regain what he had lost. “Does this mean you want to date me?”

No? I’m sure, as I said I’m used to this.” 

Remy smiled kindly, his eyes twinkling from behind his shades, he could tell although he could not see them. 

“Dexter, I won’t rush you. If need be I’ll wait for you. Do you know why?” He asked, steadily closing the space in between them, grasping his hands in his.

Yes.” He responded.

“Because you’re worth it.”

Chapter Text

Dexter was never one for travel and was more of a home body. Maybe that was due to the fact that his parents were always too busy to go on vacation, seeing as his dad owns a business and his mom is a doctor. Whenever they would go on vacation he’d be dropped off at his grandma’s house two blocks away. Even when they weren’t away, Dexter was kept inside the house for almost all hours of the day, having a strict curfew of six. He had thought this was normal and held no grudge, but his friends helped to show him how wrong it was which left a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. 

This was also the main reason Dexter never liked school vacation, as it mean he’d be trapped inside his house all day with nothing to do and no one to talk to. Not that he had loads of friends to talk to at school, but he did have the nice attendance lady to keep him company. She’d even send him class notes with chocolate taped on them just to say high. 

This year, however, was the game changer since Remy had abruptly announced that he was taking him on vacation to New York City for their spring break during the second week of April. Dexter had been stunned with the sudden information, as it came two days before they were supposed to go. Remy realized that he had freaked Dexter out and told him that he could cancel the trip, but he didn’t want to let Remy down. He asked if he could bring Virgil, to which Remy okay-ed. Virgil didn’t want to be a third wheel though and invited Roman along, but Roman didn’t want to make the two glasses-wearing love birds feel left out, so he invited Logan and Patton as well.

This brings them to where they were now, crowded into Patton’s minivan, since it was the largest vehicle any of them owned, currently two hours away from New York. Apparently Remy’s family owned a city loft that they used for family vacations and rented out the rest of the time. On the way there Remy told story’s of his family vacations around the country and even in Europe.

Dexter has been friends with Remy for almost four months, and has been “dating” him for three weeks, but he wasn’t even sure if he could call what they’re doing as dating. They’d hang out together just the two of them sometimes, but it didn’t feel any different than when they were just friends. They’d hold hands and cuddle a bit, but nothing more, everything else freaked him out too much and Remy was too cautious. Last week Remy had kissed the top of his head while they were watching a TV show at his apartment and Dexter nearly fell off the couch because he was startled so much. Remy had apologized over and over afterwards and kept an inch of space between them for the rest of the night.

It had only been three weeks, sure, but Dexter couldn’t help but wonder if he was capable of being in a relationship at all. Remy had told him multiple times that he was willing to wait for him to become comfortable, but Dexter felt like it was unfair for him to do so. The other would deny all he could about wanting more than what they currently have, but he would catch the longing glances and slight frowns Remy would try to hide from him. 

Dexter couldn’t help but feel he wasn’t meant to have this.

The next two hours passed in a blink of an eye, the time easily filled through the back and forth banters between the occupants of the car. Much of it was spent listening to loud music and playing road games. The energy was entirely due to them just previously having lunch and grabbing coffee and a tea. The ride in total was about thirteen hours long, and a large portion of that time was spent sleeping uncomfortably in their seats or scrolling through their phones.

Logan was the driver for the entire trip, refusing to switch spots whenever Patton suggested he take a nap or rest. Patton sat in the front seat next to his boyfriend to keep him company so he wouldn’t become bored while he was driving, but he probably just distracted Logan the whole time. Dexter sat in the middle with Remy, their seats separated by a tiny walkway. He read a book for most of the trip, or simply looked out the window at the wondrous landscapes. Remy played a video game on his phone for a solid ten minutes before becoming dreadfully bored. Dexter felt a little bad for him having nothing to do, so he talked to him for a while until he fell asleep, holding his hand as he did so. In the back of the van were Virgil and Roman, with the princely character spread out widely in the emo’s lap as he snored loudly. Virgil sat on his phone, probably on tumblr, with his large headphones on, running his fingers through Roman’s hair.

At last they made it to New York after hours of being trapped in a car, only to get stuck in traffic for more three hours and got lost due to Remy’s confusing directions. In the end, a thirteen hour trip turned into a seventeen hour one. Dexter hopes that it’s worth it in the end.

The loft was larger than any of them, except Remy, had expected. The living room alone was three times the size of his dorm room. The kitchen had its own island in the center that could be walked around and had two stoves and a giant refrigerator. There were only three bedrooms, but with their massive size there may as well be six.

Just what the hell did Remy’s family do to become so rich?

“Welcome to your home fro the next few weeks!” Remy chimed happily as he walked them in, his hands held out over his head in exaggeration. “Sorry if it’s a little dirty. The maid should’ve been here earlier today.”

What the fuck?! They have a maid??? This family can’t be normal!

Dexter looked around desperately to make sure he wasn’t the only one losing his sanity, but luckily it looked like everyone else was just as surprised. Roman was basically drooling over all of the decorative pieces and high quality furniture, spewing about how he’d have a place just as nice once he made it big; Virgil looked a little on edge at literally everything surrounding them; Patton was in awe at the place, but was being cautious with what he touched in fear that he might break something. Logan merely raised his eyebrows, which was his way to show surprise.

“So Remy, what occupation did you say your parents have?” Logan piped up in inquiry, speaking what everyone was thinking.

“I didn’t say, but my folks own a local five star restaurant chain. My pa is the head chef for the main restaurant, and my ma is the CEO. My big sister is manager for one of our locations in D.C, but she’s currently visiting our ma here as well. My little bro is studying to become a pastry chef in France at the moment.”

Well that explains it, no wonder Remy was able to afford a huge apartment by himself while going to school; his parents are loaded. However, it did bring up a new question.

“If your family isn’t in the culinary field, then why aren’t you becoming a surgeon?” He asked, although he felt like he already knew the answer. Remy turned to him with a kind smile, resting a hand on his arm lightly, ready to pull it away if Dexter was uncomfortable. Dexter frowned at that,

“Because I don’t like to cook, snakely charming.” He replied. Dexter frowned a bit more, after all, Remy had cooked for him plenty of times before.

“Okay, enough of that.” Logan spoke up, walking between them and swiping Remy’s hand away. The medical student pouted as he did so, while Dexter just sighed. His friends had all been startled when he had announced their relationship, Patton being pleased, and everyone else be skeptical. That was actually the main reason why they had all agreed to come on this trip.

“We should figure out a schedule for the week.” Logan announced, pulling out a notepad a paper, murmuring to himself about times to wake up, spots to eat, destinations to see, and financial tracking.

In the end they ordered room service and fell asleep, they had a long car ride after all so it was only natural. 

The next day Logan had everyone wake up at seven in the morning and head out to a cafe. It was a cute location with a good rating, the guidebook had said it was one of the best shops in New York City. Dexter thought their tea was okay, but the shop was connected to a book store so that made it better. Next the went to the theater district and visited the original Broadway Theater for Roman since it was all he could talk about during breakfast. After lunch they went to the New York City Zoo for Patton. The animals there had been fun to see but Dexter didn’t like seeing them in cages, it didn’t feel right. The snakes there were rather extravagant though. Once that was done, and their feet were tired from walking for several hours, they went to a nice sushi restaurant for dinner. Unlike all the others, except Roman, he didn’t like fish so they both got vegetable ramen; although for Roman it was because he’s vegetarian.

Day two started a little late and Logan basically yelled at all everyone until they made it to their breakfast location. A well known dinner that was cheep and affordable but still delicious based on it’s online reviews. Remy said he had never been to that shop because his family only ever cooked for themselves and didn’t like to help the competition. They sound a little intense which made Dexter scared for the day he’d have to meet them. 

After that it was Virgil’s turn to choose where to go, but just like Dexter he wasn’t used to travelling and wasn’t sure where to go. Not wanting to be a bummer, although he could never be one, he asked google where they should go and suggested the SoHo shopping district. So the next four hours were spent looking at the many shops although they weren’t able to get through them all. Logan ended up buying a mini-telescope with almost all of his spending money that was supposed to be used on food, but Patton saw how much he wanted it and refused to let him return it, telling him that he would never let his wife starve. Roman got at least a dozen shirts, while Virgil just bought a mug that said “I Drink Coffee To Avoid Murder” which was pretty funny considering it’s most likely true. 

Dexter didn’t have much money to spend. The news of being the national second place winner in that writing competition reached his parents and they were currently off speaking terms, which meant he had to rely solely on his part time job to pay the bills. He didn’t mind all that much since he didn’t like trinkets, but there was a really cute snake pen he saw, but it was ten dollars so he didn’t bother. 

Ironically, the only person who was overflowing with money was the only one not spending any. Remy always bought a modest meal and didn’t buy a single souvenir. Well he did come to New York often when he was younger so it wasn’t that strange.

Dinner after was at an Italian restaurant in little Italy. At the end of the night Patton had a stomach ache and went to bed early. Logan went with him to make sure he was alright. The rest of them watched a comedy but Dexter wasn’t too into it since he didn’t really like comedy all that much, but he laughed to make it seem like he did. By the time it was over it was midnight so everyone split up to go to sleep.

Speaking of sleeping arrangements, there were only three bedrooms and six people and the pairs were obviously set before they even got here. Two bedrooms had large beds, a king and a queen, which led to Roman fighting “honorably” for the king size bed. Patton didn’t want to cause a fuss and offered to take the queen with Logan. That left Dexter and Remy to have the only room that had two twin sized beds, which worked out for him and he thinks they others too. Honestly at this point he wouldn’t be surprised if his friends tried to send him to a temple to become a monk. Although it was rather awkward to sleep in the same room but in different beds with his significant other. Again, Remy said it was alright, but Dexter didn’t think it was for him.

Their fourth day, and last full day, was spent first by going to one of New York’s best waffle houses for breakfast then later having New York’s famous pizza. Now the only reason any of them were able to eat any of this was because of Remy. Sure the guy didn’t spend on himself but he did spend on everyone else. Every one of them thanked him each day for all that he did, after all they got to have a dream vacation that costed practically nothing all because their mutual friend is too shy to go on vacation alone with his significant other. How often does that happen?

The day was spent with random crap that was all goofy little tourist houses and attractions, but dinner was truly the main event the entire trip had been leading up too. A meal at Remy’s family restaurant. As it turned out, it was a French restaurant called Dubois, named after their family surname. The food was excellent, but the prices... no wonder they were rich. Dexter felt too much like a spoiled kid and practically begged that they go to McDonald’s instead. Remy actually seemed inclined to agree with him at first.

“As much as I would love not to be here right now, my family already knows I’m in the city and if I don’t stop by the restaurant they’ll kill me.”

Right on plot convenient time, almost as if she were a psychic, a tall, brunette, woman walked up to their table and suddenly pulled Remy into a neck hold and violently, and hopefully affectionately, gave him a nuggy. 

“You bet your ass I would’ve killed you!” The woman grinned, practically yanking him out of his seat and over the table. The waiters and waitresses did nothing and acted like this was perfectly normal, and perhaps it is. “I’m glad to see you little bro!”

“Ugh, Odette get off’a me!” Remy complained, shoving his sister off and grumpily fixed his messed up hair. His sister chortled and patted him on the back, almost making him fall over with the force of her hand. Dexter shuddered at the thought of ever calling her family.

Wait what?

“Oh, so these are your friends? Funny I thought you were just bringing your boyfriend. So which one is he?” Odette asked looking over at the rather uncomfortable dinner table.

“Odette.” He said in warning, but went ignored.

Dexter wished that he’d suddenly combust and explode so he wouldn’t have to be there right now. Yet it seemed that Odette really was a psychic because she took one look at Dexter and immediately grinned.

“So you’re the boyfriend!” She cheered, shoving a finger in his direction.

N-not significant other, actually.”

“Dexter’s not one for labels.”

“Well either way he’s so cute!” She doted fondly, taking Dexter’s face into her hands and petting his hair as if he were a pet animal. “Dexter, huh? So tell me, how’d you two meet? How old are you? What’s your star sign? How’s my brother treating you? Have you two had-”

“Odette!” Remy said more firmly, grabbing her hands and forcibly taking them away from their placement on Dexter’s face. Odette turned to glare but suddenly froze at her kid brother’s colder glare, becoming kiddish. “Dexter doesn’t like to be touched or crowded and he’s certainly not one for questions, so please respect his space.”

The sudden outburst by the usually pushy and flirty Remy stunned the group into silence; although it already was quiet, but this time it was due to astonishment rather than awkwardness. Dexter, who was previously on the verge of tears in panic at the overwhelming amount of questions and uncomfortable touches, suddenly felt tender at his words. Remy had said it with such conviction and purpose that he nearly felt like tearing up in joy, except he didn’t.

Odette apologized for upsetting Dexter, although it didn’t sound especially enthusiastic. She tried to hang around after that but Remy reminded her that she had work to do helping out their dad. They hugged and she bid everyone a goodbye. The mood had severely been damaged, so after a few drinks and appetizers they left and went to McDonald and decided to call it a night.

Taking advantage of their last night there, Roman dragged Virgil to the outdoor pool and hot tub. Patton and Logan rented a movie so Dexter and Remy joined in. The two parents fell asleep halfway through the movie though and they weren’t too interested in it so they turned it off and let them sleep.

Dexter covered them up with a throw blanket he found at the hallway closet, making sure they were kept warm so they wouldn’t get sick. He looked over at Remy, who was currently in the kitchen, and saw him cleaning up their trash from McDonald's. Turning back to his two friends on the couch he checked to make sure he was asleep, then went over to Remy. 

“Remy,” Dexter called tentatively, wrapping his arms around himself in comfort. Remy turned to him with a smile, but let it drop slightly when he saw the state he was in, “Can we not speak for a moment?”

“Yeah sure,” He said gently.

Remy led them out to the balcony for privacy, leaving the door open in case Dexter wanted to escape. Dexter closed it behind him.

“So, what’s on your mind?” 

“Am... am I,” Dexter shook slightly, nervous to finally voice out his thoughts for fear Remy may confirm his fears. With a large gulp of air, he finally spat it out, “I’m not a burden to you am I?” He asked sincerely, Remy looked shocked and quickly opened his mouth to answer, but Dexter stepped in and cut him off before he could say anything. “And don’t say I am, I know you want less than what I’m allowing. It’s false, I don’t want my space, but you don’t act as if I’m made of glass. You still hold my hand like you used to. So please, am I not a burden?”

By the end of his little out pour of inner turmoil a few tears had fallen from his lashes and cascaded down his cheeks.

“Dexter,” He spoke softly, earnestly wiping away the tears, “Yes, I want more. I want to kiss you all night until we fall asleep in each others arms. I want to hold you close and never let you go. Heck, I would even ravish you if you let me.”

Well cue the fucking blush I guess. Wow that got rated R out of nowhere.

“But I respect you too much as my significant other and my equal. I would love to call you my boyfriend, I would love to hold your hand and kiss your lips, but I don’t know what’s allowed. Honey, you have to tell me what I can do and when it’s okay. I’m not a mind reader you know.”

“I don’t know, it’s just that... you have held like you used to since we started this thing.”

Remy beamed, the mischievous twinkle in his eye returning for the first time. Grabbing his hands with his he pulled him in slowly into a light, but close, embrace. He ran his fingers through Dexter’s hair and placed a faltering kiss on his forehead, backing away as if he were asking if what he was doing was okay. Dexter leaned into the kiss and welcomed it, confirming that it was fine to do so.

After a moment or two passed Remy backed away, his face bright and cheery again. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out an item wrapped in paper.

“Here, I got you something.”

Dexter took it into his hands carefully and unwrapped it, revealing the metal snake pen he had saw earlier.

“This isn’t-“

“I saw you eyeing it. Thought you might like it as a souvenir of our trip.”

Dexter looked up at Remy smiling and wrapped his arms around his neck, resting his head under his chin. Remy reciprocated and hugged him back. Finally after an awkward first three weeks, he felt like they could have something truly special.

Chapter Text

It was all a mess. The end times had come for them all. They all huddled together in Remy’s apartment, as he had the most space and security and food, and refused to brave the outside. Tempers were shortened, friendships became rocky, and relationships were tested.

It was finals week, and everyone was cramming to get an A in their respective classes. They had all decided to have one massive study group together despite the fact that very few of them shared similar classes. Mostly they’d just read over material and quizzed each other on topics. Or they would just ask Logan for help or questions since he was the most level-headed out of the bunch. 

Virgil and Dexter, who both actually shared a class, poetry, practically locked themselves away in another part of the apartment and hissed when anyone tried to interrupt them. At one point Virgil even threw his pencil pouch at Roman’s face when he wouldn’t stop bothering him, out of frustration. Remy was the only one able to coax Dexter out of the spare room, but only because he offered him studying tips for Anatomy.

But the biggest surprise of it all was the moment when Patton threatened Logan into being his portrait model with divorce. Dexter had been getting a cup of black tea to help him stay awake when it happened. Everyone, including Logan and Patton themselves, knew that he didn’t mean in, but it was still enough to make him reluctantly agree.

In regards to his own finals, Dexter was no longer studying hard for fear of losing his parents’ good favor, he already lost that, but rather to make sure he didn’t lose his student aid, which could be taken away if his grades got too low. He was now supporting himself solely on the part-time job that had become a near full-time one. Remy offered to help him, but Dexter refused to take any of his money. He did allow him to treat him to meals though.

Dexter didn’t regret his choice to enter that contest, it had gotten him the attention of several minor publishers after all, but in consequence he had lost his family. At first he felt bad since he was no longer welcomed in the household, which meant he wasn’t allowed to see Daisy until after she moved out once she grew up, but who was to say she’d want to see him after that. The next week, however, he was pleasantly surprised to see a friend request online from his sister. Dexter knew she wasn’t allowed to have social media and that she had broken that rule to reach out to him, and that made him happy. Dexter still wished his parents were more accepting, but he was finally ready to admit to himself that he was not the problem and not the mistake. His friends helped him to see that.

Back to the present, he was pretty sure that he aced his anatomy and poetry finals, thanks to the help of Virgil and Remy, but his psychology final definitely could have gone a lot better. His creative writing final had been easy enough for him; it simply took a hell of a lot of time to write over the past three weeks. Although, the upside was that once they were in class everyone was given a chance to either study for other classes or watch the movie that was played on the whiteboard. After those two hours were up and he had to leave, Dexter felt reluctant to go because he may very well never have Professor Sharp as a teacher ever again. 

With finals now over, the school year finished, and nothing but his job at the bookshop occupying his time, there was nothing keeping his mind off of what was soon going to happen. The realization had come to him weeks in advanced and, although he should have, he didn’t confront Remy about it. Instead Dexter preoccupied his mind in his current life, using work, school, and finals as excuses to not think about it. In turn, Remy said nothing about it either, so he convinced himself it wasn’t of importance. 

The two of them had been dating for a little over two months now, going slow and steady as Dexter had wanted. However, now it appears that their time is up. With finals now over, it was time for graduation, which is what Remy was doing. He had finished his four years here and, just as he had once told Dexter he had planned, was to move on to medical school in Chicago. While Chicago was only two hours away by car from their smaller city, Dexter knew that keeping up what they had was going to be difficult. They already only get to see each other a few times a week outside of class because of their schedules, but now they won’t be able to see each other for weeks on end.

But Dexter couldn’t be the thing to get in the way of the dream he constantly talked about. They never talked about their separation so he naturally assumed that they had silently agreed to allow themselves to drift apart.

So Dexter didn’t say anything during finals, or at his Graduation party, or after. That didn’t mean they didn’t speak, of course they did, the spoke of relaxed joy from the end of the semester and of hope for what was around the bend. They celebrated the past accomplishments of the school year. For the offer Dexter received from a smaller publications company to publish the story that had earned him second place in the contest; as well as Logan’s theoretical paper the University had awarded and sent in to NASA. Word was that he may have a position awaiting him there after he graduated next spring. There were so many good things to be happy for and look forward to.

Yet all he could feel was sadness. Try as he might, pushing down those emotions was betraying him, and whenever the subject of Remy moving was brought up, he shut down. He didn’t need to say it out loud for everyone to understand why he was feeling that way, it was obvious. To everyone except Remy it seemed like.

“There’s always video-chatting and online messaging!” Patton said in an attempt to console him, “You could visit on weekends and during breaks!”

“He didn’t tell me that his weekends will be open. He isn’t becoming an intern at a nearby hospital and that won’t take up a lot of his time.” Dexter sighed as he curled up in his bed. Dee Dee curled up next to his head on the pillow, woken up by his movement, “He’s already relaxed about his new schedule. I wouldn’t be a bother.”

“Kiddo, Remy would never think of you like that!”

“Patton’s right,” Logan agreed, sitting on the desk chair and running his fingers through Patton’s hair, who was sitting on the beanbag.

Patton was also due to leave, but only for the next month as he visited his family. Logan wanted to join him, but his own family was planning a trip to Florida to visit his grandparents for a few weeks; so the two of them were spending as much time with each other as they could before they both had to go.

“While Remy is rather... puerile, he has shown himself to be respectful towards you, and no one else.” He murmured the last part. 

Dexter chuckled a little at that. Remy always loved to joke around with Logan and push his buttons, which is why the physics major had taken the longest to warm up to him. He knew Remy made Dexter happy, even if he didn’t completely agree with the him being suitable for Dexter.

“Dee, you really should talk to Remy about how you feel. Bottling it up isn’t going to solve anything and it certainly isn’t going to work out a plan for your guys’ future.” Patton told him.

Dexter turned to lie on his back, grabbing Dee Dee as she slithered under his sheets, afraid he might crush her. They were right. He needed to confront Remy about this before he left. He was due to move into the new apartment in Chicago at the start of July, which was currently two weeks away. With each passing day, the time crept closer and closer, and laying around certainly wasn’t accomplishing him anything.

“Alright, I won’t talk to him.” 

 

 

In the center of the University’s campus there was a large fountain in the shape of a waterfall and river, completed with statues of fish and other animals that one could use to hop across the water, although it was not allowed. That, however, did not stop the few rambunctious students from messing around inside the artistic fountain. Thankfully there were no students currently trying to swim in the artificial stream, because it had been the spot Dexter had asked Remy to meet him at.

The conversation they were about to have could go any way, and though he knew Remy to be kind and understanding, Dexter didn’t feel comfortable having it alone in either his apartment or his dorm room. Dexter sat patiently on a bench for him to arrive, scrolling through his phone and watching the people who passed by as he waited. 

“Dee!” Remy’s voice called out from behind. Dexter turned around in his seat to look at him as he walked up.

As per usual, Remy looked aesthetically amazing, wearing laced boots over a pair of faded ripped jeans with an over-sized white shirt, and a flannel wrapped around his waist. On anyone else the outfit would probably look atrocious, but on him it worked. Dexter had long since forewent trying to keep up with his style and continued to wear his plain slacks and button-ups.

Goodbye, Rem.” Dexter stood up to greet him with a hug, now a bit more comfortable with physical contact to where he would initiate it more often.

“So, what’d ya wanna do? You kinda called me here without an explanation.” 

Oh, right, the reason why they were meeting. Dexter didn’t quite feel like saying anything yet and ruin the mood right off the bat.

“It’s an awful day outside. I was thinking we couldn’t go for a walk around campus for the first time.” Dexter inwardly cringed, fearing he had already ruined the mood. 

Luckily the med student didn’t appear to be put off and simply agreed with vigor. The two of them walked along side by side along the fountain and headed off campus towards the closest ice-cream shop. Dexter got a double scoop of vanilla and strawberry, while Remy went all out on the rainbow sherbet, Neapolitan, and bubblegum flavors. After they retrieved their frosty treats they continued to stroll through the campus grounds.

They spent a good amount of time just wandering and talking. Remy went on about a new Netflix show he had recently began watching, describing it the best he could without spoiling it in case Dexter wanted to watch it later. The show didn’t sound like his usual genre of interest, but he considered watching it simply from seeing how happy it made the other. Eventually they ended up back where they started at the school fountain. A sudden mischievous grin broke out over Remy’s face, and Dexter knew he was about to do something incredibly stupid.

“Hey babe, let’s swim in the fountain!” He said, his eyes shining brightly behind his sunglasses.

“Remy, I mean bad when I say this, but that’s a brilliant idea.” 

“Well it’s too late!” Remy chimed, stripping off his boots and took off the flannel from his waist, dropping them on the concrete ground. Taking a running start, he jumped into the fountain, making a large splash. The fake river was only a foot deep at its best, yet he was somehow able to already soak himself.

A few passersby turned to look at the sound of the splash, staring curiously at the fully grown man who was currently splashing around in a public fountain. Dexter face-palmed and rubbed his eyes, questioning why he had to fall in love with such a lunatic.

Wait... I what? With him? Fuck, when did this happen?

“Baby snake, come and join me! The water’s fine!” Remy called out to him, turning the glares of those around them to him. Dexter shrunk back slightly at the sudden attention, and the ridiculous nickname he couldn’t shake off.

“The water’s temperature is what concerns me!” He called back and walked over. “You are supposed to be in there.”

“Aw come on, there isn’t any security around. Besides, even if there was, they can’t kick me out of school!”

“But they can’t kick me out.”

“Then you could just come with me to Chicago.”

The air grew quiet around them, the weight of what he had just said falling over them. The both of them froze in their places, stunned as their unknowingly agreed forbidden topic was brought to light. Dexter blinked at the implication of his words, not knowing what to think or say in return. 

Remy looked away, turning his eyes down to the water that ran past his ankles and soaked his jeans. On the other hand, Dexter couldn’t look away from him, searching through every detail of his face to find any hint of untruth, but found none. Remy was the first to speak up at the end of the extended silence, shifting his head back towards him, but his eyes remaining down.

“I’ve wanted to ask for awhile now, but I didn’t want to force you to make that kind of decision so I wasn’t going to say anything. Looks like I screwed that up.” He laughed bitterly.

Dexter slowly sat down on the ledge of the fountain, pulling Remy down beside him, holding his hand tightly.

“I do want to lose you,”

The thought of splitting apart from him was hard and made him sad. He wished this didn’t have to happen. He’d surely miss the time they’ve spent with each other, all the fun they have, and the endearing moments that he’s come to treasure. They had known each other for six months now and have been dating for the last three, it didn’t seem long on the calendar, but to him it had been almost like years had gone by.

Yet the thought of leaving the others, after all they had been through, was so much worse. Patton had given him a home among them like no one ever had. Logan was caring and watchful towards him like his mother should have been. Virgil had opened up and shared words with him and put his trust in their friendship. Roman had been a helpful accomplice that assisted him through his worst bouts of writer’s block and a fun person to talk with. They all cried together, laughed together, each one of them had taught him things he had never known before; how to open up and be trusting, how to call someone a friend.

Next year both Logan and Patton would be graduating and Virgil and Roman would go on after, leaving Dexter alone; but for all they had now, and could have in the future, he didn’t want to miss a second of it. He cared deeply for Remy, he did, but when it came to choosing between him and the rest, he couldn’t leave them behind. If only he didn’t have to make this choice at all.

“I can go with you. Not when all of my friends are there. They aren’t the only family I’ve ever known.” 

Dexter hung his head feeling guilty of his own words. Remy didn’t say anything at first, but instead placed a soft hand on his shoulder and pulled him closer. Dexter laid his head down and leaned into the touch, taking it in while he still could.

“I understand, it’s too much to ask of anyone, and I shouldn’t have put it on you. But Dexter,” The older student pulled away and faced directly towards him, peeling off his sunglasses to show his beautifully two colored eyes, a sign of trust. Remy had once confided in him about his insecurity towards his own eyes, telling him that he wore sunglasses to hide them from everyone, but that he trusted Dexter enough to take them off and allow him to see his eyes. 

“I’ve said it before to ease your mind, and I’ll say it a billion times more. I’ll wait. Whether you wanna break up,” his voice cracked on those two words, “or try at a long distance relationship. You couldn’t chase me off with the friend-zone and ya still can’t with the distance.”

Dexter huffed out a small laugh, smiling up at him, “As if I wouldn’t want to.”

Remy smiled back at him and ran his fingers through Dexter’s short, chestnut hair, placing their foreheads together gently. They sat there for a long time in bittersweet joy, knowing that whatever was awaiting them around the bend, they wouldn’t give each other up so easily. 

Time. All they had was time. They had two more weeks until they’d have to split ways. Surely the two of them would see each other soon after and talk as much as they could, but in the off chance that time may be far from now, there was one thing Dexter wanted to do before he went, something he was finally ready for.

“Hey Remy?” He called lightly, moving his head from its placement on his boyfriend’s shoulder to look up at him.

“Hm?” The other hummed smoothly, keeping his eyes closed peacefully.

“Could you- could you not, um,” Fuck he was starting to rethink this, it was so embarrassing it made him want to jump in the fake stream behind him and float away. “Could you not kiss me?” 

That finally made Remy open his eyes, surprise and earnest glistening behind them as he regarded him.

“Are you sure it what you want?” He asked.

No.” He nodded.

Remy chuckled lightly through his grin. The tender smile on his face brought out his softer features, highlighting his beauty and sweetness. Lowering his head slowly, giving Dexter time to change his mind, although he knew he wouldn’t, Remy placed a gentle kiss on his lips, as if he were merely floating above him. Dexter returned in kind, although he wasn’t really sure what to do.

Would you believe him if he told you that this was his first kiss? Probably. And if the heavens were on his side, this wouldn’t be their last.