This is not the map you’re looking for
Thu Dec 14, 2017 21:01

It matters because Ruben’s not the only one here who likes you like that.

Holland stared blankly at Danny. For a long moment, they didn’t understand—who—and then the right neurons fired together and they did. Holland kept looking at Danny, but less blankly now; their perfectly-groomed eyebrows were arched in surprise, and without having made a decision to do so, their mouth had opened as though they were about to speak. Holland didn’t have anything to say. It seemed like like too long of a pause in the soundproof practice room, listening to their own pulse and their and Danny’s breathing. They had that prickling feeling all over, the kind that crept up your back and built up until you had to shudder. Dad called it someone walking over your grave, but to Holland, the source felt much closer. It was so quiet.

Danny couldn’t mean that.

If you had been told a lie and wanted to discern the truth, you had to figure out the function of the lie. Every lie had a purpose, and most of them were self-serving. When someone told a lie, it was because they got something out of it; they were making themself look better, or covering something up they didn’t want known, or appeasing the person to whom they were talking.

But this had no function—at least none that Holland could see. Danny got nothing out of this: it didn’t make him look good, it did the opposite of covering something up, and it didn’t appease Holland. Someone who didn’t know Holland well might have thought that thinking someone else was interested in them would distract from the argument, but Danny did know them, better than he seemed to think. Anyone with a shred of foresight, who had spent any amount of time with Holland, would know that they would scrutinize and question that kind of lie until it collapsed like an Exploding Snap tower. No one would come out feeling good about it, so there was no reason to bother with the lie.

Okay. So if it was a lie, then it was such a poorly-designed one that Holland couldn’t believe Danny had come up with it. But if it wasn’t a lie, it was true, and if it was true, that meant—

Meant what? Holland dropped their gaze from Danny’s face, then snapped their attention to the shirt in his hands and back up. Danny was attractive, yes, Holland had thought that before and they’d known they thought that. It wasn’t something that mattered, because of a hundred reasons. It was just something that was true, the same way it was true that Danny was intelligent (if lazy), loyal to a fault, competitive, and prone to overthinking. Danny was also Danny, with all of his pureblood upbringing, his family legacy, his predetermined future. With all of his infatuation with Marissa. Marissa, who was another one of Holland’s closest friends. How could Danny say something like that when he was dating Marissa? What was he doing?

Every question Holland could think of spawned more. How long had he felt like that? Why say something now? What was the point? How did Holland feel about this? How were they supposed to feel? For perhaps the first time, Holland didn’t want to know the answers to all of their questions—but they needed to answer at least one: what were they going to do now?

Holland’s face cycled through confusion, surprise, and embarrassment before settling into uncertainty. What the hell were they supposed to do with this? “Okay,” Holland said, louder than they meant to, with wild, bewildered emphasis on both syllables. “So—” They dropped their volume down to a normal speaking tone. That was better. Not much better, because since the first word of this conversation, nothing had improved very much, but still better. “So if that’s true, then what?” They already had an answer: if this was true, then nothing.

  • I found your map... - Danny, Thu Dec 14 16:47
    Holland apologized. Danny looked at them, and blinked. Why was Holland apologizing? Okay, they’d said some stuff that had caused distress, but Danny hadn’t apologized for the original grievance of... more
    • This is not the map you’re looking for - Holland, Thu Dec 14 21:01
      • Oh. Whoops. - Danny, Thu Dec 14 22:10
        He had no idea what to expect when those words had left his mouth. Danny almost wished he could take them back, but the truth remained it was absolutely impossible he would be able to keep something... more
        • Maybe a cartographer would help - Holland, Fri Dec 15 03:26
          For the first time in this entire conversation, Danny said exactly what Holland expected him to. “ Then nothing. ” That was the right answer, Holland thought, with something almost like relief.... more
          • Do you know any? - Danny, Fri Dec 15 14:51
            Holland didn’t sit with Danny, but they did move towards the door. For a stomach-lurching second, Danny thought they were just going to leave. He suspected both of them had considered vacating the... more
            • Afraid not - Holland, Sat Dec 16 22:56
              It sounded like Danny wasn’t going to get in the way if Holland wanted to flirt with Ruben again. Ultimately, that assurance was what Holland had wanted, although they could say with some certainty... more
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