"In all the wild world, / there is no more desperate a creature, / than a human being / on the verge of losing love." ~ Atticus
"It's not the goodbye that hurts, it's the flashbacks and memories that follow" ~ Unknown
Part 1: High School Days
A deep sigh left his lips as he came up to the front door. His day has been long with assignments being given left and right and countless clients that needed to be attended to.
He loved consulting and getting to interact with tons of different people and computer program challenges every day, but it was a stressful job at times. Today, he ended up staying at work for over two hours later than usual. Now, he found his feet dragging the floor as he walked.
Ethan's dirty blond hair was tousled, the long strands hanging around his wide face. His soft jaw was littered with the remains of not shaving for a couple of days and his eyes ached a bit from exhaustion.
His broad shoulders were slouched down and his short, lean body was barely staying up. Gosh, he was tired. He could have been having delusions with how vividly he was imagining his bed right now.
Ethan wondered if Clark was still up or if he had retreated to his room already. He pulled out his phone, checked the time, and assumed that Clark would still be awake. He doubted that the teen would be jumping into bed any time soon.
Ethan wasn't sure if Clark would feel like talking to him when he saw him or just leave him in peace. Either way, he was tired and hoped that he would be able to get into the apartment, and possibly his room, without interacting too much.
To do this, he entered the apartment quietly and attempted to slide in invisibly. His stomach was clenched tightly as he tiptoed through the doorway. He was holding his breath and trying to carefully pull off his shoes, but all his efforts proved fruitless the second the door clicked shut. Clark immediately heard and was running into the entryway to find him.
There was a bright smile on his face when he saw Ethan and at the sight of it, Ethan relaxed. It was nice to see Clark happy after all that he had been through, and Ethan suspected a part of his happiness was the frequent messages he had been exchanging with his parents.
A couple of years back, Ethan had met Clark on the streets of Toronto and decided that he would take him in and treat him as some sort of brother. Clark had been on the street because he had run away from his hometown and hadn't kept in touch. In recent months, Clark had rekindled to relationship and was happier than ever. Plus, Clark's boyfriend Santiago certainly didn't harm the efforts by meeting up with Clark any chance he got.
"Hey, Ethan. How was work? You were out pretty late." Clark said energetically, moving to take the bag from Ethan's hand and put it over his own shoulder. Ethan rolled his shoulders and released the invisible tension with a deep exhale, happy to have the weight off of him.
"Stressful." Ethan supplied with a short chuckle. He finally got his shoes off and was rolling his ankles. "Was kept busy all day and I still have some stuff I should do while I eat dinner."
Clark winced, unable to imagine what work Ethan could be doing. Clark would frequently talk about how he would never be able to work with computers as Ethan did. And, whenever he happened to glance at the work Ethan had, he would pale.
"Don't they have other employees where you work?" Clark asked as he and Ethan walked into the living room. Ethan shrugged while he unbuttoned the top buttons on his shirt and rolled up his sleeves.
"I guess they were busy with work today too." Ethan offered, thinking back to the rapidly moving fingers and the dark bags under the eyes of some of the coworkers that he saw that day. Clark scoffed, dropping the bag gently on their large couch and crossing his arms. He sank into the single sofa while looking up at Ethan with an incredulous expression.
"Please. We both know that you are their favorite IT consultant." Clark argued, daring Ethan to disagree. Ethan looked away from the younger man and shrugged again, neither confirming nor denying the claim.
"I do my job is all. It's not that deep." Ethan told Clark after he had carefully chosen his words and sank into the large couch himself. Clark was quiet and Ethan basked in the peaceful silence. But it was Ethan to break the peace when he suddenly felt a pang of hunger in his stomach. His eyes shot open and he looked over to Clark.
"Did you make anything for dinner?" Ethan asked him, eyes wide and pleading. Clark chuckled and stood up to make his way toward the kitchen.
"I made some oven-baked chicken and there is rice in the pot." Ethan let out the breath he had been holding in and Clark laughed at his dramatic reaction. Clark started making some noise in the kitchen and Ethan tilted his head all the way back to see what he was doing. Clark was pulling a pot off the stove and reaching for a couple of plates. He spoke while he continued to move around the space. "Do you want me to make you a plate?"
Ethan started to salivate and Clark happened to look over and see the dazed expression on Ethan's face. He laughs.
"I'll take that as a yes."
Ethan brought his head back up and sank deeper into the couch. He had a pleased smile on his face as he imagined being served without having to have made it himself.
"Thank God you cooked," Ethan smiled, his eyes closed and his expression peaceful. "I would have hated having to cook right now."
Clark scoffed from behind him.
"You mean 'having to wait right now'?" Clark responded, to which Ethan let out an ugly snort.
"Maybe . . . "
There was a pause before Clark called Ethan up to eat. Ethan managed to leap out of his seat with an energy he didn't know he had, but when he tried to move, his exhaustion came back in full force. Clark watched the whole thing, laughing cruelly as Ethan struggled to get to the kitchen table less than ten normal steps away.
Ethan gasped pitifully when he finally got seated, partly to be dramatic but partly because he had found that difficult hike to be challenging. Clark was still laughing and continued to laugh even as Ethan got a hand on his plate and began to eat.
Ethan watched, chewing slowly as Clark would occasionally say something along the lines of "you were . . . so tired- hahaha" or "gasped . . . like you actually did anything- hahaha" and so on. It brought a soft pink tinge to Ethan's cheeks but he really could be that upset when Clark's cooking had been so good.
Ethan was nearly finished with his food by the time Clark had sat down and wasn't laughing anymore. Clark then simply watched Ethan silently as Ethan shoveled the last grains of rice and meat sauce into his mouth -he hadn't been kidding when he said he was hungry- and still didn't say a word when Ethan stood up and went to the sink.
Ethan finally noticed the odd silence as he was washing his dish, and looked over his shoulder to find Clark's eyes glued to the table below him. Turning off the tap, Ethan spun around and looked at Clark now with calculating eyes. Something was on his boy's mind.
Ethan was considering his options for getting him to open up when Clark got out of his seat, walking over to a bookcase that Ethan had placed in the apartment. Apparently, Ethan hadn't looked at it closely enough because Clark proceeded to pull four books off of the shelf. Four yearbooks off of the shelf.
Clark walked back over to the table and dropped the heavy stack down in the center. Then. his eyes met Ethan's.
"I . . . found your high school yearbooks," Clark said quietly, his eyes a bit nervous and focused on where they were placed in front of him. "For all four years."
Ethan raised a single brow and tilted his head as he looked at Clark questioningly.
"And how did you find those?" Ethan went to ask, going into his mind to where they were the last time he saw them. "I thought they were buried deep into my closet, under my clothes, and hidden behind my suitcases." Clark went a bit pink realizing that Ethan had found him out. He sputtered and immediately went to explain.
"Well, they weren't there!" Clark rushed out, his hands flailing as his cheeks got redder from his embarrassment. "I think you moved them because they were in front of the suitcases."
Ethan's expression didn't change and Clark sank into his seat, admitting defeat.
"I don't think that makes it any better," Ethan commented, holding back his chuckle since he still enjoyed watching Clark squirm. Clark sulked a bit and crossed his arms as if they were a form of protection.
"No, it doesn't," Clark seemed to be reluctantly saying this, whether as a general agreement or peace offering, Ethan wasn't sure. Clark quickly came back again with an excuse. "But, I was bored and was doing a bit of cleaning/looking around."
"Looking around should not have been combined with cleaning just then," Ethan said before Clark proceeded any further with his odd explanation. Clark seemed confused and his eyebrows scrunched in confusion.
"But it's what I did," he stated simply, his expression still one of confusion. Ethan sighed with a shake of his head. He moved away from the counter and walked up to the dining table.
"That's the point," Ethan shot back immediately, now taking his previous seat. "A good excuse would have been 'I was just cleaning up!' Not 'I was just cleaning up as an excuse to look through your stuff.'"
"But, I wasn't just trying to look through your stuff," Clark said, leaning forward toward Ethan with wide innocent eyes. Ethan gave him a blank look. "Okay fine, I was trying to look through your stuff. But this yearbook thing is important."
Ethan was still shaking his head at Clark's attempt at a lie, but he took a moment to look at Clark with suspicion.
"Because it was your glorious time of being a high school youth! A magical time in your life experience." The enthusiasm, with which Clark said those words, was odd to Ethan and he stared intently at Clark to see if he was alright in the head.
"Yeah, I think dropping out early has morphed your idea of a 'glorious experience'." Ethan chuckled softly. He then winces as Clark softly frowns. "Too soon?"
Ethan bites his bottom lip silently and stares down at the table in front of him. Clark's past was a touchy subject -a really touchy subject- and he should have known not to say that. Clark had a faraway look in his eye and just the sight of it made Ethan uneasy.
Clark let out a long breath and blinked a couple of times, seemingly coming out of his stupor, and then turned to Ethan with more determined eyes.
"Look, I really think you should look through them again," was the first thing Clark said after the long awkward pause. For some reason, he found this very important and his passion was slowly getting to Ethan as well. "I mean, I had a particularly good time seeing all of your phases of puberty."
Clark laughed at his joke and Ethan cracked a bit of a smile, but all he could see at that moment was the stack of four books that Clark had brought up nearly an hour ago. Ethan then brought his eyes up to Clark's and saw the hopeful smile on his face.
Seeing Clark pestering insistently, especially when he had been in a daze moments before, proved to be effective. Ethan sighed gruffly, rubbing his face as he stared at the books again. Clark grew more excited by the second and the culmination of all of his effort came when Ethan dropped his head in defeat.
"Fine, I'll look at them."
Thank you for reading the first part of Connected to Him! The second part and the first chapter will be up later today so hopefully you can read them right now! If you enjoyed the first part, please leave a like or a comment. You can also click the banner below to check out my link tree. Bye!