Quinn had instructed his parents to park as far away from Oakleaf as possible. The last thing he needed was for people to see him as a spoiled rich kid, getting a lift from his posh family — the only problem was, it meant walking a couple of miles with heavy bags and shivering fingers.
“Fucking hell, man, why didn’t you just tell them to park closer?”
Quinn rolled his eyes at Kit’s comment, “It’s fine, we’re almost there.” He lied.
“So, how’re you gonna introduce me, Quinny?”
“I’ll introduce you as my fuck buddy, what d’you think?” He replied sarcastically, shifting the weight of the bag on his shoulder. “I’ll just say you’re my friend. You know...unless you want to be introduced as anything else.” He added quietly.
“Depends.” Kit sighed heavily in contemplation, a smirk edging its way onto his lips, “Y’know, if you really like pissing your parents off, you could introduce me as your boyfriend. See how that one goes down.”
Quinn slowed, his feet not being able to keep up with the whirling of his mind. “Really?”
Kit halted too, examining the other boy carefully. And damnit, every time he looked at him, he was somehow more attractive. “Well, yeah. You’re always talking shit about them, so I just assumed you’d wanna piss them off.”
Quinn grinned widely, then lowered his eyes, worried he’d appear too keen otherwise. He nodded slowly, “Yeah. Sounds good.”
Kit nodded and began to walk again, Quinn following close behind. He’d never admit it to Quinn, but he was nervous. He wasn’t an idiot — he knew how other people saw him. A lost cause. And that’s exactly how Quinn’s parents would see him. He wasn’t even sure why he cared about what they thought, he’d never cared before. Maybe it had suddenly dawned on him that these people wouldn’t be as open and accepting as their son was.
“Quick heads up.” Kit said thoughtfully. “Your parents...they voted for brexit, didn’t they?”
Quinn laughed to himself, “Unfortunately.”
Kit groaned loudly, “They already sound like wankers.”
“Just please don’t get into politics with them.” He begged. “It’s insufferable.”
Kit raised his hands in surrender, “You know they’re the reason Toblerones have shrunk.” He murmured sulkily, earning a playful slap on the shoulder, “How far do you live anyway?”
“’Course you do.” Kit rolled his eyes, a chuckle vibrating his throat.
A few more twists and turns and a shortcut through a shadowed alleyway which transitioned into a twenty minute detour, and they were there. The next corner they turned, the two boys came face to face with a shiny black car with tinted windows and polished paint. Quinn took a deep breath, his fingers absentmindedly brushing against Kit’s. The latter noticed his discomfort and interlaced their pinkies, taking the first confident stride towards the vehicle.
Kit hauntingly noticed that the car reminded him of a hearse. But that was unsurprising, he already knew this would be his funeral; that was a decision he’d consciously made.
The first one out the car was Quinn’s Mother, a tall but frail woman nearing her fifties. Her silver hair was styled into a neat bun, her lips coated in pale gloss, her eyelids wearing a shade of grey. She wore an elaborate pearl necklace and short heels, her baby blue dress reaching just past her knees. She stared Kit up and down suspiciously, before turning her attention onto her son, a tight smile forming on her lips.
“It’s nice to see you, Quinton.” She glided forward and wrapped her spindle arms around him, a hug which looked awkward and uncomfortable. Kit had to bite his lip to restrain his desire to laugh. And the new found knowledge that Quinn’s real name was Quinton only strengthened the urge to scoff.
The next out of the car was a man which Kit could only assume to be Quinn’s Father. He was slightly shorter and slightly rounder than his wife. A greying beard, a balding head and beady, patronising eyes which only made Kit recoil in distaste. He extended his hand to his son, as if he was reluctant to touch him too intimately. “Quinton.” He stated plainly, as if he was addressing a business partner. But the strangest thing was the fact that Mr Starr could barely stand to even look at his son.
“Father.” Quinn responded, shaking his hand formally, before stepping away. “This is Christopher. Is it okay if he stays with us over half term? I would have asked you sooner but I had no way of contacting you, sorry.”
Kit wasn’t sure what shocked him more; the use of Christopher or the way Quinn talked to his parents, like he was afraid to slip up and say something they would disapprove of. “It’s nice to meet you.” Kit smiled as politely as he could.
There was a pause, a short moment which stretched into the longest ten seconds of his life, where Quinn’s parents merely stared at him. They just stared and stared and stared as if they’d never seen a human before, or at least, not one that looked so different. “Of course.” Quinn’s Mum spoke first, “I’m Blanche and this is my husband, Aubyn.”
“You two are friends?” Aubyn interjected rudely, glaring between us quizzically.
“Aubyn.” Blanche hissed sharply.
“Quinton, should I be worried about the type of people you’re associating yourself with?”
Quinn’s face drained of colour in pure rage, but he forced it down, “The people you want me to be friends with don’t exist at Oakleaf.”
“As long as you two are just friends.” He replied firmly.
In a flood of anger and haste, Quinn grabbed Kit’s hand and interlaced their fingers. “He’s my boyfriend actually.”
The pair looked like they were about to faint at the news. Since their son left home, they’d been constructing lie after lie to try and hide the disappointment. They claimed that Quinn was the real victim. They told people he was raped by the rowing instructor, but there wasn’t enough evidence to condemn the man. They’d told the tale so many times, they’d almost started to believe it themselves. But now their son was stood right in front of them, holding hands with someone he claimed to be his boyfriend. And they couldn’t ignore the fact that he was gay any longer.
“Are you crazy?” Aubyn blurted out roughly, his fists clenching at his sides.
“What your Father means is—”
“He knows bloody well what I mean.” He growled.
“Quinton, honey, we just want what’s best for you.”
Kit watched in shock as Quinn’s grip on his hand became tighter and tighter with every word out his parents’ mouths. “You’d rather I be with a girl than be happy?” He questioned quietly. He didn’t sound angry, merely defeated. “That’s what’s best for me?”
Blanche sighed heavily, glancing around in an attempt to figure out the best way to answer Quinn’s question. The car was parked on a deserted street, lined with derelict buildings and boarded up shops. It felt like the end of the world. “We’re trying to understand, we really are.” She finally said. “It’s not an easy thing to wrap my head around, but I’ll get there. Just give me time.”
“You know, I can just about tolerate you being a faggot.” Aubyn seethed through gritted teeth, nowhere near as calm as his wife. “But at least pick someone on your level next time.”
“On my level?” Quinn raised his brows. “What does that even mean?”
“It means you’re white and I’m not.” Kit finally joined the discussion, loosening his grasp on his fake boyfriend’s hand. He felt it again, a feeling he hadn’t experienced in a long time. Worthlessness. He couldn’t even dream of ever being with Quinn, because there was always that underlying sense of inequality between them. Quinn was white and Kit was black, that’s all there was to it.
“W-What?” Quinn stammered, his eyes darting up to his parents again, “No, they didn’t mean that. That’s not...that’s not true.”
“We just think—”
“No! No, that’s not true!” Quinn shot back.
“Quinton, stop acting so childish—!”
“You seriously care? The boy I’m in fucking love with is black. So what?”
Kit froze, his body tensing in shock. He turned to face Quinn, but he was refusing to look at him. He wasn’t sure whether Quinn had just said that to anger his parents or because he actually meant it. And the scariest thing was that Kit didn’t know which one he wished to be true more. “Quinn.” Kit said softly, trying to calm him down.
Quinn finally turned to look at him, and what Kit saw made heart drop. Quinn’s eyes were watering. He was on the verge of actual tears. It was like something snapped in his brain, and Kit finally realised how much Quinn cared about him. And he knew that if Quinn seriously did love him, then he’d have no problem admitting to the fact that he loved him back.
“It’s okay.” Kit continued. “I can stay at school over half term, honestly it’s fine—”
“You’re not staying there, Kit.” Quinn shot back defiantly. “You’re coming with us.”
Aubyn released an obnoxiously loud huff and grunted in faint approval. “You have nowhere else to go?”
“Where are you from?” He interrogated.
“Oh dear god.” He shuddered dramatically.
“Father.” Quinn glared, telepathically begging him to stop talking. He wasn’t sure why he bothered — his father would never listen to anything he had to say.
“Well, what’re we waiting for? Let’s go.” Aubyn finally decided, turning back to the car and climbing into the drivers seat.
Kit grabbed Quinn’s arm before he could enter the vehicle, holding him back as he planted a quick, hidden kiss on his lips. And he whispered a handful of treasured words Quinn never thought he’d hear.
“I love you too.”