Tal’s eyes were fixed on the screen. He had been given the chance to talk to Nik personally instead of texting him but now, once again, he was facing the same old problem. He tried to imagine what Nik would do. Nik who was so very different from Tal. Nik who opened his mouth and charming words came out so naturally. Maybe talking was easier for extroverts like him. Tal on the other hand thought way too much. He considered every word carefully, formed sentences and discarded them at least ten times before finding the right thing to say. He hated his mind for being that complicated but there was nothing he could do against it.
His patience was gradually running out. He had to text him. There was no way around it. His hands were holding his phone but his fingers didn’t move. How could writing a message be so hard? He had JUST talked to him. “Get it together, Tal.” He glanced at his alarm clock on the bedside cabinet. The little hand would reach eleven soon. Tal took one last breath and flexed his fingers. “Here we go.”
>> Hi, it’s Tal. Taliesin Thornwell. Sorry about vanishing. Also sorry for maybe wetting your bed. I’m free tomorrow afternoon. Please get back to me soon. – Tal
He was about to put his phone aside to change into pyjamas when a message arrived.
<< Sending your surname wasn’t necessary but thanks. I’m guessing you didn’t wet my bed out of excitement.
A second message arrived right after.
<< On a serious note, please choose your words more carefully if you don’t want to be teased. Tomorrow afternoon is fine with me but don’t you have detention?
Tal went through all stages of grief at once. After reading his text again he realised just how wrong it sounded. He felt the embarrassment as a faint warmth on his cheeks. How could he overthink a single message for so long and not notice this? Considering the time, it might be too late for Tal’s brain to work. Especially because Nik was right. Tal HAD detention tomorrow and every other day for the rest of the week. He also needed to exercise so the only suitable time for them to meet would be late in the evening or at night.
He put his phone aside and left it on his bed while he went into the bathroom to change into his pyjamas. He would have replied faster if it wasn’t for his overthinking. Maybe Nik now realised what a weirdo Tal was. Maybe he wouldn’t want to meet anymore. He tried to shake it all off. When he tucked himself into bed Tal typed another message.
>>Tomorrow night? 8PM? I’d need your address.
>>Unless you would like to suggest a different location.
He waited a few minutes for a reply and checked out Nik’s account information in the meantime. His profile picture must have been taken recently. Until two weeks ago Nik has had longer hair, almost up to his shoulders. But in the picture it was freshly cut. Tal wondered how it would feel to run his fingers through his hair, to tug at some loose strands.
Tal hated that Nik’s messages managed to make him blush. Tell me what you like – what I like? You. He knew they were just meeting so he could get his answers but the way they texted and planned everything made it sound too much like a date. He shouldn’t like it. He shouldn’t blush. Whenever he thought that Nik wasn’t so bad, he remembered what he had seen some days ago. The blood, the cruelty. That was Nik. Not some Academy student who liked to joke around but a cold-blooded killer. Tal had to stay strong and most importantly focused. His heart couldn’t betray him. He couldn’t get his feelings involved. The goal was simple: find out the truth and then stay away from Nik. Nothing more.
>>You don’t need to order anything for me. We can discuss everything quickly and then I can eat dinner at home. Thank you. Goodnight Nik.
His reply came almost immediately and a smile crept onto Tal’s face. His heart was easier won over than he had predicted. The beginning had been complicated but now after only a few texts Tal felt comfortable. He wasn’t anxious anymore and he even enjoyed texting Nik a little. ‘Goodnight, Taliesin.’ He read the message once more before placing his phone on the bedside cabinet. He reached for one of his pillows and hugged it tightly.