Chasing the Horizon

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No Restraint

Konnor felt weak when his eyes opened again. He didn’t consciously fall asleep, he must’ve just passed out at some point. He didn’t know what time it was or what day it was, there were no windows. He didn’t even know how long it’d been since Dax had come to him. He hadn’t seen Dax since he left the room after he asked to be let go. Had his question upset him that much?

He was starving, it’d been days since he ate and he could feel his insides eating away at himself to keep functioning. He would do whatever Dax wanted if he would just give him something to eat. Konnor didn’t care anymore about his pride or falling in love. The world seemed to be trying its best to prove to him that those were nothing but naive dreams.

The door handle jiggled and moments later, Dax walked through the door. Konnor used the last of his strength to stand up. He went right up to Dax, pressing the tanned boy back up against the door. He was almost completely leaning against Dax, just to keep himself standing upright. “You win. I give in, do what you want with me. Just, please, promise to bring me something to eat.”

Dax took hold of him by the shoulders and pushed him off. He kept a strong grip on Konnor’s shoulders, Konnor was almost glad of it, he didn’t want to collapse in front of him. He was already weak enough, he didn’t want to look pathetic too. Dax just looked at him with narrowed eyes, not saying anything. Konnor swallowed even though his throat was dry and he had practically no saliva left. “Isn’t this what you want? I don’t care anymore. Do what you want, just don’t slowly kill me like this.”

Those words seemed to stay with Dax, he closed his eyes and shook his head slightly. Konnor wasn’t sure what he was shaking his head about. He was surprised when Dax stood up more and wrapped his arm under Konnor’s shoulders holding him up. He opened the door again and pulled Konnor through it. Konnor was leaning heavily against Dax, he didn’t think he could walk far himself.

Dax brought him down a hall and stopped at an entryway, poking his head through. There didn’t seem to be anyone around so he kept pulling Konnor along. Konnor took a deep breath of the fresh air that his face when they walked through the entryway, it’d been days since he’d seen the sky. He looked up to see a dark sky with stars twinkling across the black. They felt so close, like Konnor could just reach out and take one right out of the sky. He’d never enjoyed being outside as much as he did in this moment.

But Dax kept walking them across this main deck towards a doorway on the far side. Konnor could smell something cooking and it smelled delicious. He didn’t even know what it was, he was too hungry to care. Dax stopped abruptly right as they got to the door, he wasn’t really sure why. He could hear lively chatter on the other side of the door and the clang of dishes. Dax took his arm from around Konnor and opened the door, walking through it without even waiting for him.

Konnor almost fell over when he was left to stand on his own. He’d been leaning so heavily on Dax that he completely lost his footing. Luckily, Dax had stopped close enough to the doorway so that he could just reach out and hold onto the doorframe and wall to keep himself standing upright. He couldn’t figure out why Dax had done that. He was being so helpful, what changed?

Konnor took a moment to gather himself, he noticed that the noises coming from the kitchen had almost completely stopped. He took a deep breath and when he felt like he wouldn’t fall over, pushed himself off the wall. He did his best to walk straight, but it still felt like stumbling. He made his way into the kitchen and he’d thought it was quiet when Dax walked in, now it was dead silent. Everyone seemed to be looking at him.

He didn’t think he could stand there for much longer, he was close to keeling over. Timothy was sitting at the table though and stood up, helping Konnor to a seat next to him. “Konnor, are you okay?”

Konnor almost fell into the chair, but he did his best to compose himself after that. He didn’t want everyone to keep staring at him. He couldn’t help looking around the table though, seeing plates of hot food and glasses of water in front of everyone. If he had any saliva, he knew he would’ve been drooling. He looked down when Timothy pushed his own plate of food in front of him. Without thinking, he took Timothy’s glass of water and drank the entire glass before setting it back down on the table.

“Konnor.” He could hear Timothy calling his name, but he seemed so far away. All Konnor could focus on was the plate of food in front of him. He picked up a fork and began shoveling food in his mouth. He felt better as he ate more, he felt like his strength was coming back to him again. He heard Timothy speak again, “I’m sorry Konnor, I didn’t realize what they were doing to you. I should’ve-”

Konnor shook his head, picking up the glass that someone had refilled while he’d been eating. He took another long drink and looked at Timothy, “You didn’t know. This is my fault for getting you involved here.”

“Don’t say that,” Timothy brought up a hand to gently rub Konnor’s back. He was glad that he had his friend here, he wasn’t sure he could keep going without him. He still felt responsible for getting Timothy trapped here. Even if Timothy denied it, he wouldn’t be surprised if Timothy blamed him.

Konnor looked down at the table and back at Timothy, smiling slightly, “Thanks for helping me.”

Konnor wanted to believe that everything would be okay from now going forward, but that would be wishful thinking. Even in that very moment, he knew something was wrong, he could feel eyes boring into him. He glanced around the table, most everyone had already gone back to their own food, all except Dax and Saria. Saria kept glancing between Dax and him, her brow creased and her eyes sad. Dax, on the other hand, was glaring directly at Konnor and not even trying to hide it. Dax just sat there with his arms crossed and his expression souring by the second. It was so different from minutes ago when Dax had actually helped him out of that room. Dax had seemed much happier at the time, what had made him so mad?

Dax stood up, knocking the chair to the floor behind him. It made such a ruckus that everyone stopped and looked right at him. Dax stood there for a moment longer, still glaring at him, or was he glaring at Timothy next to him. He could no longer be sure. There was a long moment of silence around the table before Dax finally walked out of the kitchen, slamming the door shut behind him.

Saria got up from her spot, going over to Konnor and Timothy. She said quietly, “I know he’ll expect you to be back in that room tonight. I don’t think he’ll try anything, but I’ll still do what I can to keep him away from you.”

Konnor looked up at her for a moment, he appreciated the warning and her offer, but he was still confused. He asked, “Why do you want to help me and not your friend?”

She let out a little sigh, “I am helping him too, I don’t want him to do anything that he can’t come back from.” That definitely scared Konnor, he’d seen that dark side in Dax and he couldn’t expect to be so lucky if he encountered it again. Saria added, “I’ll make sure the door isn’t locked again, but he can’t find you in there with someone else.”

She didn’t wait for him to respond, she just lightly touched his shoulder and then left the kitchen. Konnor looked after her for a moment before turning to Timothy, whispering, “I don’t want to go back there at all.”

“I’ll go with you,” Timothy offered and stood up.

Konnor shook his head, taking Timothy’s hand and pulling him to sit back down. “No, if Saria is worried then it’s probably bad. I don’t know what he’d do if he found you in there with me.”

Timothy blinked. “But we wouldn’t be doing anything.”

“I don’t think that would matter to him.” Konnor got the feeling that Dax didn’t like his friendship with Timothy. Konnor and Timothy were just good friends but Dax seemed to think that it was worth getting upset over.

“I won’t leave you,” Timothy insisted.

Konnor let out a long sigh, he knew he couldn’t stop his friend and he really didn’t want to go back alone anyway. Konnor stood up, going to the kitchen door. He opened it a crack, peeking through it to make sure the coast was clear. He didn’t see Dax or Saria, he took that as a good sign and opened the door more, walking onto the main deck. Quiet footsteps behind him told him that Timothy was following, so he kept going back the way Dax had brought him earlier.

He went down the same hall and found the door to the room he’d been kept in. He really didn’t want to go back in and get locked in there again with no food or water. Something inside him told him that Dax wouldn’t let that happen again, so he took a breath and opened the door. He went inside and went right back to the bed, laying down on it.

Timothy followed, shutting the door behind them. He continued to stand there. Konnor looked up at him, furrowing his brow a little, “Timothy, you can sit down.”

“Yes Konnor,” he nodded but made no motion to sit. Konnor looked around the room and noticed that there wasn’t a chair, the only place to sit was the floor or the bed. He figured that had to be the reason why Timothy seemed frozen.

Konnor patted the bed next to him, “You can sit down here, it’s fine.”

Timothy seemed hesitant about it but he did finally step forward and go to sit on the end of the bed, at least a foot from Konnor. Timothy looked at him, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Konnor nodded, “Yeah, he didn’t try anything after that first day. He was going to, I’m not sure why he stopped, but he did. Since then, he’s actually been rather nice to me.”

“But he was starving you.” Konnor could hear a little worry in Timothy’s voice and for Timothy that meant a lot of worry.

Konnor shook his head, “I don’t think he was doing it intentionally.”

“Konnor?” Timothy’s pitch raised a little and Konnor could tell that Timothy didn’t understand what he meant.

“I just mean, it seemed like he forgot I needed to eat too.” Konnor shrugged, sighing to himself, “When he was here, he opened up to me, he was even gentle. I was sleeping when he came in one time and he didn’t even disturb me, he just laid down next to me and slept too.” Konnor was lost in his own thoughts about Dax, he was mindlessly tracing his finger along the stitching in the comforter. “It actually was kind of sweet, I liked having his arm around me.”

“Really?” Timothy just seemed to be listening to him think out loud. Honestly, Konnor was used to conversations like this. Timothy was always quiet, so he’d end up monologuing with Timothy listening and interjecting once in awhile.

He let out a long sigh, rolling to lay on his back and look up at the ceiling, “When I couldn’t stand the thirst or the hunger, I broke down. I was ready to do whatever he wanted. I kind of literally threw myself at him when he walked through the door.”

“Konnor...” There was that worry in Timothy’s voice again, but Konnor didn’t want him to be worried. He knew that there was a sweet side to Dax and he would even go as far as to say that Dax might actually like him. He hoped that Dax did actually like him and want him for more than a sex toy because he wanted to know Dax more too.

He smiled, “But he wouldn’t take me. He had told me that he just wanted me to be his entertainment and when I was finally giving in, he pushed me away. He just wanted to help me.”

“What do you mean?” He could feel Timothy looking at him, but he couldn’t wipe the stupid smile off his face.

“He held me up and helped walk me to the kitchen.” He let out a small laugh, “I think he was a little embarrassed about it and that’s why he walked in before me.”

“Konnor...” Timothy couldn’t respond, Konnor sounded too lovesick to hear anything spoken against Dax.

Konnor turned to look at Timothy, his expression serious, “I wouldn’t have made it out of this room if it weren’t for Dax.”

“Konnor,” Timothy took a long pause before saying, “I’m not sure getting close to Prince Austeareus is a good idea.”

Konnor shrugged, “Isn’t it funny how I met the man I’m supposed to marry when I’m running away from the marriage?”

Timothy furrowed his brows slightly, “Why is Prince Austeareus out here in Tekoland if he’s Toeaux’s prince?”

“He’s running away too,” Konnor smiled to himself, it seemed like fate to him.

Timothy looked at Konnor for a moment before letting out a short sigh. He shook his head slightly as he stood up, “Will you be okay here, Konnor?”

Konnor nodded, sitting up as his friend was about to leave, “Thank you.”

Timothy nodded and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Konnor laid back in bed, sighing to himself, thinking of Dax so much made him feel happy. He almost hoped that Dax would join him in here to sleep again. He had slept quite comfortably next to another person and knew it was something he could get used to.

“Daxi, wait!” He heard Saria calling after him but he didn’t wait, he wanted to get as far from the kitchen as possible. He stormed across the deck and to his cabin below the helm. Saria was still following him and pushed through the door before he could close it behind him. She looked up at him, “What was that about, Daxi?”

He shook his head, glaring down at her. “Aren’t you the one that thinks I’m simple, that my motives are always obvious?” He didn’t mean to snap at her, he was frustrated and she was just pushing his buttons more. He was already mad at himself for breaking Konnor and mad at Timothy for being too... too close. He didn’t need Saria to make him mad at her too.

“Daxi, the way you stormed out of there,” she took a step closer to him, resting her hand on his arm. “You know they’re only friends, nothing more.”

He shook his head, pulling his arm away from her, “I don’t know that and neither do you. You only believe it because that Timothy said so.”

“Daxi,” she sighed, looking up at him. Whatever she had to say, he didn’t want to listen to her.

“No one touches him,” he took a step forward, towering over her, “No one.” She looked at him for a moment longer before turning and walking out of his room. He could see her shoulders sag a little as she walked away, he knew that she was disappointed in him and he liked that even less. He didn’t need her pity or her telling him what to do and how to behave and he certainly didn’t need her judging him.

He stayed in his room a few minutes longer. He really couldn’t just stay in there and go to sleep though. He was still frustrated and being cooped up didn’t help. Dax left the room, climbing the stairs on the main deck to go up to the helm of the ship. He stood at the wheel, watching the horizon as the night continued. He didn’t feel tired at all, he didn’t want to sleep.

He kept the ship heading into the heart of Tekoland. The capitol, another floating city, would be a good place to refuel before heading towards Toeaux’s western border with the wastelands. Really, Dax just wanted a place where he could get off this ship and away from the people around him, at least for a moment.

The fresh air against his face did seem to help calm him down though. He loosened his grip on the wheel and let his thoughts drift. He found himself thinking about Konnor. No one had ever occupied his thoughts before, but something about Konnor was different. Even earlier in the kitchen when he’d been talking to Timothy, Dax liked seeing that smile on Konnor’s face. He was only sad that he wasn’t the one to make Konnor smile.

Dax actually felt bad that he had made Konnor so afraid of him. He had lost control once and there didn’t seem to be any coming back from that. Then again, when he had actually tried just talking to Konnor, it seemed to go well. He thought again of those soft, red lips, he should’ve taken the chance to kiss Konnor right then. He thought it was unlikely that he’d get that chance again.

He really was breaking Konnor and he didn’t even mean to be. Dax had really been surprised when Konnor threw himself at him like that. He really did want to make Konnor his, but he couldn’t, not like that.

He didn’t mean to lose control when they were all in the kitchen, he just hated seeing the way Timothy was pawing over him. He wondered if Konnor would hate him for everything that he’s done, he wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Although he hated to admit it, he would be sad. Dax didn’t open up to people and he wasn’t even sure if the way he talked to Konnor could even be considered opening up, but he did let Konnor in. He let himself care and Dax was terrified of that. Keeping distance, keeping boundaries and roles was so much easier, and that was all this was supposed to be with Konnor. He broke his own rules without even realizing.

Dax had been standing at the helm so long that the sky had already begun to lighten. He took a deep breath, that was a nice thing about being in the sky on an airship, you were the first to see the sunrise. Dax took his eyes away from the eastern sky and headed back down to the main deck.

He wanted to go sleep with Konnor in his room again, but he wasn’t sure he could get away with that a second time. He hadn’t planned on staying there so long that Konnor would even wake up. He didn’t even usually actually sleep with his toys, it was just that when Dax went in the room to find Konnor fast asleep, he couldn’t resist. He had looked so cute and peaceful and Dax had just wanted him to be in his arms. Who was he kidding, Konnor wasn’t one of his toys. Konnor was something more.

He forced himself to go back to his own room, he would leave Konnor be for now and just check back on him in the morning. He opened the door to his room, barely remembering to shut it before falling onto the bed. Once the energy had left him, he really felt so exhausted. He told himself he’d only sleep for a little while, he wanted to be awake to see Konnor as soon as possible.

What turned out to be hours later, Dax finally opened his eyes again to see sunlight streaming through the large windows. It was already midday, Dax didn’t like that. He didn’t want to sleep away his time with Konnor. He got up quickly and went out onto the main deck, the sunlight almost blinding him. He blinked a few times, letting his eyes adjust. Everyone was already buzzing around the ship, doing their designated chores. It actually seemed rather odd to Dax, everyone seemed to be on the deck, even Saria. Everyone except Timothy and Konnor.

Dax stepped out a little further onto the deck, trying to control his imagination when he saw Saria dash from the deck and down the hall to the guest rooms. She came back out onto the deck moments later, walking out as if nothing had happened. But she was panting a little and fixing herself up, Dax knew that she’d been running until she got to where he could see her.

He narrowed his eyes, walked right up to her, standing only inches apart. She looked up when his shadow fell over her, her eyes widened and her pupils dilated. His voice was deep and cold, “Where did you go just now?”

She shook her head a little, babbling, “No, I... I just...”

He brought a hand up to her shoulder, pushing her out of the hall doorway. He knew she wouldn’t do anything to Konnor, but he knew that she would protect Timothy. Dax was her friend, he was the one she’d grown up with, so why would she help these strangers. That made him angrier. He stormed down the hall, completely fuming by the time he got to Konnor’s door.

Without a second thought, he threw the door open. Konnor was alone just like he was supposed to be. Konnor even looked like he’d been sleeping until Dax burst in. He was sitting up now, saying, “Daxton?”

Dax didn’t listen to him though, he immediately turned around, walking down the hall to the next room. This is where the crew had put Timothy. He knew that Timothy would be in here, making it look as if he’d been here the whole time. But Dax knew that wasn’t true. He slammed the door open and there was Timothy, just sitting on the bed, doing nothing. Even Konnor had been better at pretending than this joker.

Timothy was giving him that same blank stare he always had and it just infuriated Dax more. He walked in, grabbing Timothy by the shirt collar and dragging him out. He dragged him down the hall, towards the deck. He could hear Konnor calling out behind him, practically begging him to stop. That just made Dax want to hurt Timothy even more. Now he knew that they were more than friends and no one was going to convince him otherwise, not after this.

He dragged Timothy onto the deck, Konnor following along behind him. He could still hear him talking, but whatever he was saying, it was just white noise to Dax now. Timothy was practically a foot and half shorter than him, it was so easy for Dax to drag the blond and throw him onto the deck when he got back to the main deck.

Everyone stopped and looked at Dax, but no one dared to intervene. Dax ignored them all, “What were you doing?”

“Nothing,” Timothy got up onto his knees, recovering from the fall.

“Daxi!” Saria rushed over to them, kneeling down next to Timothy.

Dax felt sick to his stomach seeing that. His one friend had turned on him. He snapped, “Get away from him Saria, I know you warned him.”

She looked up at him, a sad expression on her face, “But Daxi...”

“Go!” He yelled, taking one step forward. She got up and ran, visibly afraid of her friend. He looked around at the audience he had gathered, so many of his crew had wide eyes and white knuckles. He spoke in a deep, commanding tone, “I said no one touches Konnor.”

“I think I’ll decide that for myself.” Konnor’s voice was quiet, but strangely flat. Dax had pushed him out of his mind, he forgot that he was watching this too. He turned to look at Konnor, he didn’t want to be angry, but he couldn’t stop himself from glaring at Konnor.

Konnor let out a breath, looking down and back up at Dax. “I can decide for myself, who I get close to and I won’t let you hurt my friend.” Konnor paused and Dax wanted to say something to explain himself, but he couldn’t, words wouldn’t come. Konnor shook his head, speaking more to himself, “I wanted to believe that you were just putting up a tough exterior and that maybe you really did care, but I was wrong.” Dax wanted to stop him, he couldn’t listen to much more of this. “You’re just a bully that no one really likes, everyone here is just too afraid to admit it.”

Dax grit his teeth, he couldn’t hear it. No one here knew what it was like for him growing up, behind closed doors, the king used fear to control his own family. Dax had tried to rise above it, his mom had always believed in him. But after she died, he couldn’t take it. Maybe Konnor was right and he used fear to get people to do what he wanted but Konnor was the last person he wanted to hear that from. He did care, about his friends and about Konnor, but now Konnor wouldn’t ever think of him as anything but a bully. Konnor’s words stung. No one had hurt him with words before, but hearing Konnor say that made him hate everything. He took a step forward, snarling, “Fine. Go over to your little friend, I am done with you. You can just go die for all I care.”

He turned on his heel, walking to his cabin under the helm. He didn’t mean to say those awful things to Konnor. His mind wasn’t fast enough to put a leash on his mouth.

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