Chasing the Horizon

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Hope is Lost

“You can just go die for all I care.” Konnor’s eyes widened, he didn’t want to believe he heard Dax correctly. He didn’t expect Dax to get so mad. He could feel a solitary tear fall down his cheek. Anything he hoped to get from Dax was gone, he wasn’t even wanted as Dax’s toy.

“Konnor.” Timothy’s voice snapped Konnor back to the present.

He looked down to see Timothy still on his knees. He quickly wiped off the tear with the back of his hand. He took a step forward, offering Timothy his hand. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Timothy nodded, taking his friend’s hand and standing up. He narrowed his eyes at Konnor, “But are you?”

“What do you mean, I’m fine.” He insisted, even though it was obvious that he was defeated. Without saying anything to Timothy or the crew standing and watching, he walked past them all, to the walkway that led to the bow of the ship. He didn’t hear Timothy’s footsteps follow him, he just kept walking until he was right on the edge of the ship.

He leaned against the ship’s rail, shoulders sagging. He couldn’t help thinking that Dax was right. He should just go die. What was he even living for? A childhood dream that kept turning into a nightmare? The day his father would finally drag him home? The marriage to someone who hated him?

Konnor pushed himself up so he was sitting on the smooth, wooden railing looking out at the endless horizon. Only now did he hear Timothy’s panicked voice, “Konnor, what are you doing?”

He just smiled to himself, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The sky and clouds. So endless.”

“Konnor, just come back here and talk to me,” he could hear the stress in Timothy’s voice, but he didn’t want his friend to be stressed. This was a long time coming, at least Konnor had felt so.

He turned his head over his shoulder a little, speaking flatly back to Timothy, “Why? To go back to Daxton? He clearly hates me. Or should I go back to my family, I know my father hates me. It’s all so futile.”

“What’s futile?” He could tell that Timothy was slowly moving closer to him, but he didn’t move. He didn’t believe that his friend could actually stop him.

“Dreaming of freedom.” He closed his eyes, letting the light breeze dance over his face. “I’ll never be free of myself, I’ll never run so far that fate won’t find me.”

He felt Timothy’s hand on his shoulder, he whispered, “But Konnor, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

He shook his head, “But it is that way.” He held onto the railing, moving so where his feet were standing on the edge of the ship and he was facing Timothy. It felt so pointless for him to keep going. He was only ever a card in someone else’s hands and now everyone’s discarded him.

“This isn’t funny.” Timothy’s brow furrowed and he rested a hand over Konnor’s.

“This isn’t a joke. He’s right, I should just go die. It’ll end all of this.” He smiled, feeling at peace with his decision.

“Konnor,” Timothy tightened his grip on Konnor’s hand, “Just get back on the ship.”

Konnor shook his head, “Goodbye Timothy.” He stepped back, starting to fall but Timothy wouldn’t let go of his hand. He almost pulled Timothy over with him, but Timothy dug his feet under the bottom of the railing, bent in half over the rail, holding onto Konnor by the hand. Timothy gripped Konnor’s forearm with his other hand, it was as far as he could reach. Konnor could see the strain on Timothy’s face. “Timothy, let go. You can’t hold me here and I don’t want you falling with me.”

Timothy spoke through gritted teeth, “I won’t.”

“Timothy,” Konnor looked up, right into his friend’s pale blue eyes. “Let me go.”

Timothy shook his head, tightening his grip on Konnor’s arm. But Konnor was right, he couldn’t hold on for long, even with Konnor being still. He choked out, “H-help.” He did his best to breathe and yell louder, “Help!”

There was a thunder of footsteps and Konnor heard the crew yelling and gasping when they saw what was going on. Konnor just kept looking up at the sky beyond Timothy, that endlessness was all he wanted.

A lone set of heavy footsteps came up and all of a sudden, Timothy was being lifted up and Konnor by extension. His eyes widened, as he was pulled up more to where he could see the deck of the ship again, he could see Dax pulling up Timothy. Next thing he knew, Dax’s big, rough hand was holding onto him instead of Timothy’s small, soft one. Dax lifted him up so easily, it really did surprise Konnor. Konnor was slung over Dax’s shoulder and that was when Konnor started to kick and knock his fists against Dax’s back. “Let me go!”

Dax ignored him, calling an order to his crew, “When we reach the Tekoland capital, we’ll drop off them off at the nearest rental dock. These visitors will be going home from there.”

Konnor kept struggling, but Dax kept walking. He didn’t stop until he got back to the main deck and only then, did he set, more like throw, Konnor down. Konnor landed against the wooden deck, completely winded. He could only listen as Dax said, “Make sure he doesn’t sneak off, no one will be dying on my ship.”

The crew simultaneously nodded and looked at Konnor. Konnor went completely limp, his fight gone. He didn’t like everyone staring at him and he didn’t like that even after saving his life, Dax still just walked away. He felt...alone.

Timothy knelt down next to Konnor, “Konnor, are you okay?”

Konnor shook his head, rolling to sit up. He sat with his knees to his chest, looking at Timothy, “No, I don’t feel better. He still hates me and now I’m being pushed away. And now that we’re being stranded in the middle of Tekoland, we wouldn’t last long before my father’s men find us and drag us home.” He leaned forward, pushing his forehead against his knees and wrapping his arms around his legs.

He felt Timothy’s hand rest upon his shoulder. Timothy’s voice was quiet, “After everything...I thought you wouldn’t care about him.”

“I’m sorry Timothy,” Konnor refused to look up from the floor beneath him, “I know he was a jerk to you earlier, but I told you that I thought he had a good side and I still believe that.” He looked up at Timothy after a long silence, “I thought maybe he didn’t really hate me when he pulled me up, but he doesn’t care, he just wants us gone.”

“Konnor...” Timothy’s voice was flat and if anything, relieved. “This isn’t bad.”

“You don’t understand,” Konnor narrowed his eyes at Timothy, “You’re not going to be bartered. You don’t have something that you can’t escape from.” Konnor didn’t mean to snap at his friend, he just couldn’t take it. He didn’t want Timothy’s pity. He wanted Dax’s arms around him. Dax was the only one to ever hold him, want him for what he was and nothing more. And in a few words, Dax had taken that all away. Timothy just stared back at him, unable to say anything. Konnor shook his head, looking down, “How can this not be bad? I’ll wind up home and if Toeaux changes their mind then I’ll be sent off to marry a different stranger. But if Toeaux goes through with it, then I’ll end up with someone who hates me.”

“Konnor...” Timothy couldn’t think of anything to say that would help. They both ended up sitting there in silence as the day began to fade.

Konnor just sat on the part of the deck that he’d been thrown on, not having the will to get up and move. After a while, everyone went back to their daily tasks and to flying the ship, but Timothy was always with him as well as one member of the crew. They were his suicide watch, but he wasn’t planning on trying to jump overboard again. It wasn’t that he had any more hope than before, he just couldn’t find the will to move, not even when he was hungry.

The day turned into night and they were still on their way to the Tekoland capital. The entire time, Konnor stayed put and kept waiting. He kept hoping that Dax would come back out of his room, but he never did. Konnor was left alone. Of course Timothy and the crew were always watching him, but he felt like he might as well have been alone for all the company they provided. The night got cold, but Konnor didn’t go back to his room, he wanted to feel the cold wind as it blew against his face and ruffled his hair. The crew member who’s turn it was to watch him seemed pissed about it. They were bundled up in coats but were still shivering. The only time Timothy left his side was when he went to his room, only to return with blankets for Konnor and himself.

Timothy sat against the deck wall with his friend, his head slowly starting to fall forward. Konnor just watched as his friend fell asleep, he didn’t mean to make him stay here outside with him. He let out a long sigh, stretching his legs out and leaning back. He looked up at the midnight sky, an endless number of stars twinkling in the distance. The little lights looked so beautiful, hanging in the sky. He had to wonder if people’s fates were really written in the stars, in which case the stars were cruel and heartless.

Morning finally came, the bright sun hitting Konnor’s face. He hadn’t realized that he’d fallen asleep, he certainly hadn’t felt like sleeping voluntarily. He rubbed his eyes a little and looked out across the sky and could see another floating landmass on the horizon. This one was larger than the one Konnor and Timothy had stopped at, there were a lot more buildings and ships flying around it too. They were flying towards it at a steady rate and would be there by sunset, if not earlier. Konnor gulped, he didn’t want to be forced to leave. He looked down at Timothy still sleeping next to him, the crew members seemed to already be up and about. He wasn’t going to let this happen without fighting a little.

He stood up, but could hardly stand. His legs were so stiff from sitting for the last day and a half. He could feel people looking at him, it seemed that him even just standing up garnered the attention of the crew. He shook off the feeling and started to walk in the direction that Dax had left yesterday.

“H-hey,” his guard ran up and caught him by the arm, “Where are you going?”

“To see Daxton,” Konnor shook his arm loose.

“But... He didn’t want to be-” Konnor didn’t let the guard finish, instead he kept walking away.

He got to the only door down this way and knocked, hoping that Dax was still inside. There was no response, so Konnor pounded on the door harder. This was the only room this way and Dax hadn’t left, Konnor would’ve seen. He didn’t want Dax to just ignore him, he didn’t think he could take it. The pounding seemed to be more effective, he heard a groan from the other side of the door, “What do you want?” Moments later, Dax opened the door.

Dax stared back at Konnor, he almost didn’t believe that the redhead was standing right in front of him. He didn’t say anything, he couldn’t. Konnor looked like he was trying to be strong, shoulders pushed back and chin held high. Dax knew that Konnor was faking it and he just wanted to wrap his arms around him in a tight hug, but he didn’t. After the fight and Konnor actually trying to take his own life, Dax had decided that distance would be the best thing for both of them.

“I need to talk to you,” Konnor’s voice was a little shaky and it really made Dax’s knees weaken. Something about this vulnerable Konnor just made Dax want to protect him at all costs.

Dax did his best to resist. He stared right back at Konnor, “What is there left to talk about?”

Konnor’s shoulders deflated and his gaze dropped to floor, it was like all strength he had was sucked out of him. His voice was so quiet that Dax could barely hear him, “I don’t want to leave.”

Dax’s eyes widened a little, he couldn’t believe that he’d actually heard Konnor correctly. Though a part of him really wanted it to be true. He didn’t want to push Konnor away, he thought that he had to. He stayed quiet, usually he was quiet because he didn’t care enough to respond to who was talking, but right now, in this moment, Dax was truly at a loss for words. And that never happened.

Konnor took an audible breath, looking up at Dax, “I don’t want to leave.”

Dax looked at him for a moment, letting out a small breath. “Why?” Konnor took too long to answer Dax, he just figured that Konnor was being melodramatic about this, like he had been yesterday. Dax said, “You’re better off without me.”

Dax turned his back, ready to walk back into his room and shut Konnor out, but a pair of arms snuck in from behind him and wrapped around him. There was a small thud against his back as Konnor laid his head against him. Konnor choked out, “Please don’t push me away, please...”

Dax took Konnor’s arms from around him and turned to face the redhead once again. He could see that Konnor’s eyes were starting to get puffy and he really didn’t want to make him cry. He looked into Konnor’s ruby eyes, “But yesterday... it seemed like you didn’t really even like me.”

Konnor dropped his gaze again, “You were hurting my friend and I just reacted. I didn’t want you to get so angry with me. Because... Because I think I’m...”

He had a feeling where the rest of Konnor’s sentence was going and he hated to admit it, but he could also feel himself falling for this redhead. His voice was a little softer than usual when he said, “I didn’t want you to actually die.”

Konnor’s gaze snapped right back to him, a slight twinkle in his eyes. Dax was almost amazed at how little it took to give the boy hope. Light glinted off something in the corner of Konnor’s eye as he said, “The other day when you came into my room, I woke up before you did and I liked having your arm around me. I’ve never had someone hold me like that, I’ve never had someone who wanted to be close to me.” Konnor turned his head to the side, slightly obscuring his face, but Dax could see the tears starting their way down his cheeks. Dax felt so heartless for just watching Konnor cry like this. Konnor sniffed, saying, “I don’t want to go back to being alone, I don’t want to lose you.” Konnor dropped his head, looking at the floor, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Dax just stood there for a moment, trying to process everything Konnor was saying. He almost didn’t believe that the redhead he’d picked up in some tavern had actually fallen in love with him. In fact, he didn’t believe it. He’d done nothing but hurt Konnor and yet here was Konnor telling him that he was in love. What was worse was that Dax felt like he was in love too. Dax could tell that Konnor believed what he was saying, but Dax knew it wasn’t real. It was just a coping mechanism for Konnor to deal with being a captive.

“Konnor...” Dax took Konnor’s face in his hands. He stayed like that for a moment, looking into Konnor’s brilliant red eyes and wiping the tears from his cheeks. He took a breath before saying, “You don’t love me. I’ve done nothing but hurt you.”

Konnor shook his head, bringing up a hand to rest over Dax’s. “Don’t tell me I’m wrong. I know what I feel.” Konnor’s tears started streaming down his face more. “And I know there’s a part of you that has to love me back, please...”

“This isn’t right,” Dax took a step back, pulling his hands away. He was falling for Konnor, every part of him knew it. But this? Konnor begging for him to love Konnor back? It wasn’t sincere. He’d broken Konnor to the point where Konnor believed he had feelings for his captor. Dax shook his head, his tone sad and empty, “I broke you.”

Konnor seemed to shrink. His shoulders came together and his hands fiddled with each other. Despite his height and build, he seemed so small. Konnor looked down, slowly shaking his head too. Dax figured this is not how Konnor wanted this conversation to go. Konnor’s voice was quiet, but not as shaky as it had been, “I know what I feel. I wanted you to know too. I don’t want to leave, but I can’t make you want me.”

He turned and started to walk away from Dax and that made Dax feel just awful. He felt so guilty for driving Konnor to this. He even felt bad about falling for the redhead back. After everything he’d done, he didn’t know how to show Konnor that he truly cared for him. Konnor paused, a few feet away. He glanced over his shoulder at Dax, “I was broken before you found me in that tavern.”

Konnor didn’t say anything else. Dax let him go. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t make Konnor stay, it would be better for Konnor if he had time to himself to put the pieces back together. Dax couldn’t rescue him after being the one to hurt him. Dax let him go. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t make Konnor stay, it would be better for Konnor if he had time to himself to put the pieces back together. Dax couldn’t rescue him after being the one to hurt him. Though Konnor’s last words stuck with him. Was Konnor really broken before they met? Dax had to wonder what hardships the redhead had endured to leave him broken.

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