Tired; Our Reality

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"Hey! Give it back. I've been waiting to get that book for weeks!" Baron chases Julian around the familiar courtyard.

The nimble thief easily jumps and dodges obstacles while going through the playground. However, the victim has a harder time getting through due to his height. For once, Julian is thankful for his lack thereof.

Half an hour passes of chasing and heavy panting, they both grow tired and sit at their usual spot on the rock. Settling down, Julian finally hands Baron his book.

"What's so good about that book anyway?" he asks, peeking at the cover of the subject in question. It's a red leather hardback book with golden details. Nothing he hasn't seen before. The title is spelled out in calligraphy.

"The Lonely Winner"

"It looks boring." Julian gives his honest opinion, making Baron smile fondly. "Never judge a book by its cover. I read the blurb and it sounds cool, " Baron replies, ignoring the blatant disregard of his friend. His eyes light up with fascination and excitement when he talks about something he likes.

"Why would you wait so long for something you are not assured to like?" Julian can't wrap his head around it. It just sounded odd to him. "Of course you would ask that." Baron states with a roll of his eyes.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Julian stands, crossing his arms. Puffing his cheeks up, he sends a very intimidating glare toward his friend. "Uncultured swine like you are guaranteed to ask such an insolent question."

"Stop using big words! You know I'm not as smart as you." Now pouting, he once again takes a seat next to Baron. "You know I'm kidding, you're a lot smarter than you think you are." Julian sighs, resting his head on Baron's shoulder as he reads through the first few pages of his new book.

"Here, read with me." Julian smiles at his request. He and Baron read together often, but every time he asks, a fluttering feeling stirs inside of him. Even if it's only been a week, their friendship has been blossoming faster than any other relationships he's had since he's been here.

The book was good, surprising Julian as it wasn't something he would see himself liking. The two get to the second chapter before closing the book. "So, what do you think?" A smug smile dances on Baron's lips. He already knows the answer after looking up at Julian a few times while reading.

The raven's face was focused, eyebrows knit together, chewing his lip as he tried to figure out what some words meant. "I... I-it was fine." Julian crosses his arms, puffing up his cheeks, not letting his previous statement be wrong.

"Still quite boring." He adds on with a light hmph.

"Oh? Any specific points you thought were 'boring'?" Baron raises an eyebrow, cocking his head to the side.

"I- Look, don't go all English teacher on me! The book was fine, okay?" Baron chuckles heartily, marking the page with a dry leaf before closing the book.

The pair wander the courtyard together, picking flowers for flower crowns. "Hey, I'm gonna go back so my book doesn't get dirty. I'll be quick." With a quick pat on the back, Baron rushes into the large building.

Alone and bored, Julian seats himself on the rock, twisting flower stems together. Weaving in and out through the loops he made with previous stems. "Flower Boy, " Julian looks up to see Prince, the blond that messed with him on his first day.

Instead of his usual torture group, he's with a few girls, giggling and giving each other amused looks. Prince crosses his arms, lifting his chin to act more superior, letting out a scoff. "Making flower crowns again?"

Unappreciative of his demeanor, Julian simply rolls his eyes and carries on with what he's doing. Exaggerated "oooh"s leave the girls' mouths. Prince grunts and grabs Julian by the collar, pulling him up.

"When I talk, you listen." The blond's glare is cold and hateful. "And, why should I listen to you?" Julian bites back, making the girls snicker. "Is there something I should be concerned about here, Prince?" Whipping his head back, he sees Baron and sets down his victim.

"What is it to you, Baron?" Their eyes glare cold stabs at each other. "Just giving your boyfriend here a little talking to." Julian's breath hitches at the statement. "He's not my boyfriend." Baron growls, gripping the boy's shirt. The group that surrounds them giggle and keep making exaggerated noises.

"You've always been such a piss bag, Delcour." Baron huffs with a slight chuckle from the use of his surname. "So we're on a second name basis now, are we, Dietrich?" Their accents get stronger as they throw insults back and forth.

"Why don't you go suck on a chav's toes."

"Your toes are probably crusty, fuckin' muppet."

"Are you calling me a chav, you fuckin' twat?"

"And what if I am, you little arse-licker?"

"You're just a lazy sod!"

"You're not even fully British!"

The fight gets physical when the two start shoving each other and throwing punches. The gaggle of girls dispersed after the pair started cussing each other out, scared of the quarrel intensifying. Baron gets a hold of Prince's shirt and pulls his fist back to give him a hard punch that will surely knock the boy unconscious.

Before he manages to kill the blond, Julian manages to quickly disperse the fight, dragging Baron back. "Baron, don't! He's not worth your time." Prince falls to the floor after being locked in a chokehold and beaten up by Baron. Coughing up blood, he sends a nasty glare to him before stumbling back into the building.

The sky is quick to darken. Baron sits on the rock, letting Julian look at his small cuts and bruises. Red marks on his arms slowly turn purple, one specific bruise below his collarbone was already a dark shade of mauve.

Julian's fingertips lightly graze over the small bruise. It almost looked like... As innocent as he acted, Julian was a young boy, discovering his interests and other things. Biting his lip, he pulls away from the bruise, cheeks burning a light pink.

"Are you okay?" Baron's large hand takes Julian's face into it, softly brushing his thumb against his flushed cheek. "Y-Yeah! Perfectly fine. I just- just..." Julian panics, stuttering over his words making Baron smile.

A semi-awkward silence stills the atmosphere and they keep close eye contact.

"The stars look pretty, don't they?" Julian breaks the silence, looking up at the dimly lit sky. Stars freckled across the deep blue like glittering seas. "They are pretty." Baron answers but his eyes are focused on the small boy kneeling in front of him.

He looks up, noticing Baron's watchful gaze. "Baron?" Baron's eyes widen, realizing he's been staring. His hand flies to his mouth as he screams internally. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude." The front strands of his hair fall in front of his eyes.

Julian takes his hand and cups his cheek, unknowing of the feelings it stirs inside the older boy. "It's okay. Why were you looking at me anyway?" Julian giggles breathily. Baron's eyes lift to meet his friend's. The glowing brown orbs resonate with the intense beating of his heart.

"I don't know. You're nice to look at." Baron lowers his eyes again, flustered and scared of the other's reaction. Julian's eyes light up, turning-what he thinks is- the very attractive color of a fire truck. "Baron, you read too many romance novels!"

His words let a breathy laugh leave Baron's mouth, following with a sigh. He leans forward, leaning his forehead against Julian's. "So would we be together if we were in a romance novel?" A suggestive smirk rests on his face causing Julian to smack him on the shoulder.

They revert to their old banter and mildly flirty, almost dirty jokes.

Baron shifts to kneel with Julian on the grass. Finally lifting his head, he sees the clear sky, speckled with stars. With no curfew, everyone was allowed to stay out for as long they wanted, as long as they wouldn't be late to roll call the next morning.

Julian and Baron stayed out together often. Unless it rained or was too cold. They do their routine of getting to know each other, back and forth questions until a fun conversation comes up.


"My birthday is in a week." Baron answers. Julian's eyes widen. "Wait, what date is it today?" Baron stares up at the moon for a few seconds. "The 18th, I believe." Julian chews on his bottom lip, flipping onto his stomach and crawling closer to Baron.

"So when's your birthday?" Baron's eyes drift down to his friend before answering, "27th." A pout replaces the excited smile on Julian's face. "Damn, so close, " he mutters. "Is your birthday close to mine?"

Julian sighs, resting his head on his arms. "No. My mom's." Baron's eyes soften and he turns on his side. Knowing about Julian's mother, he softly pets his hair to comfort him. "It's okay. I just miss her a bit." His eyes fill with tears, biting back a sob.

"When is your birthday?" Baron tries to change the subject, giving his friend a distraction. The younger boy smiles at his thoughtfulness. "November 5," he manages through quiet sniffles. Baron hums, wrapping an arm around him.

"That's four months from now. Not too far." Julian glances up at the boy who gives him a hopeful gaze. "Yeah, but yours is sooner. Let's do something for it!" Julian sits up, wiping away his tears and some dirt off his clothes. Baron does the same, clearing his throat.

"That's not necessary. I've never celebrated my birthday so I don't plan on making it a big deal." Julian's jaw slacks at his words. "Come again?" The boy laughs before pulling Julian closer, almost into his lap.



"B-But... You've never gotten presents or cake!?" Julian's hands cover his mouth in utter shock. "The audacity." Resting his chin on the small boy's hair, Baron smiles brightly. "My parents never cared enough. It doesn't matter as much to me anymore."

"You like the library right?"


As soon as he wakes up, Julian glances down at the bunk below him to check if his friend was awake. Luckily, he spots the fluffy mess of mahogany blonde hair and hears his light snoring over Erin and Kacey's more boisterous snorkeling the ts.

He hurriedly jumps off the top bunk, careful not to wake the sleeping boy beneath him. He walks toward the intimidating man in front of the locked gate. "Excuse me, sir?" he asks, tapping on the guard's shoulder.

"Why are you awake? Roll call isn't till 8:40," the man grumbles, clearly tired. "Um, what time is it? The librarian was asking for assistance yesterday. She said she would come to get me at 6." Julian keeps his voice low.

"It's 5:43, kid. Why the hell are you going to the God damn library at 6." The man rubs his temples and waves off Julian, refusing to talk anymore. Sitting on the cold concrete of his cell, Julian patiently waits out the next 17 minutes.

Lightly tapping on the cold ground, drumming patterns and beats into the floor, he waits for Mrs. Adler.

The soft padding of footsteps cross the hall and the old woman finally reaches the cell gate. The guard open's it, and we soon get to work. For a woman of her age, she's quick on her feet, surprisingly strong.

They move things around in the library, which shouldn't be a problem as only he and Baron go there anyway. Baron stated he didn't want it to be a big deal. Nevertheless, a birthday should be a deal worth celebrating, however big or small he wanted it.

They set up the round table the two usually sit at with his usual pile of books, tidied and cleaned up. A cup for pens and pencils, sticky notes, and spare sheets of paper.

It wouldn't be a party without some decoration, though. So, colorful streamers hung between the tall bookshelves, flower crowns dangle off the heads of the chairs. Mrs. Adler said she would handle the treats, and with that Julian returns to his cell.

Silently closing the gate, he climbs into his bed, falling asleep with an excited smile.


"Julian? Hey, Julian." He wakes up to the sound of his name being called. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he stretches and yawns. "Hurry and get up! Roll call is almost starting." Baron's rushed tone makes Julian smile fondly.

After he finally manages out of bed, Baron holds his hand protectively while going through the crowds to roll call. The strong but gentle grip Julian had grown familiar with.

Getting into their usual order, the guard at the front flips through her clipboard, calling out names.

The list goes on, finally ending when she calls out "Sam Zellman." Sam, a small girl with bleach blonde, faded blue hair calls back, ending the extensive list of names.

With that, everyone was left with free time.

"You wanted to go to the library today, no? I can show you around if you'd like." Baron's smile could warm hearts 5 miles away if only he didn't just show it to Julian. "Yes! Let's go." The raven grabs hold of his friend's arm, pulling him off.

The doors were already partially open, showcasing a large hallway. Rows and rows of tall bookcases you need a ladder to reach fill up the grand room. The high ceiling is domed with a classical essence.

Everything would have looked so empty, and dead if he didn't decorate. The only humanity inside was Mrs. Adler, an old woman that is barely holding onto her life. The librarian's desk sits by the right of the entryway. Decorated chairs and circular tables take up space in the front corners of the area, as well as cushions and blankets to sit on the floor.

Large chandeliers hang from the ceiling, moving down the room. Bright, glowing crystals illuminate the vintage hall. Hues of yellows, browns, and golds reflect off the dusty tops of the bookshelves. It looks almost haunting but pleasantly comforting.

I get why Baron likes it here.

He takes a seat at the table, beaming as he analyzes the flower crown. "Did you do this?" His voice is quiet, surprise laced with bliss evident in his tone. "With help, of course." Mrs. Adler sets down a tray of warm blueberry muffins and decorated cupcakes.

"Happy Birthday, dear, " she rasps, patting Baron's shoulder. "Happy Birthday, Baron! I can't exactly get you gifts so I planned out this little party for you." A soft blush dusts his cheeks as he puts on the flower crown.

"Thank you both." For the first time, Julian sees Baron's smile reach his eyes. "I have a candle here if you want to blow one out." Mrs. Adler sticks a small white candle onto a cupcake and lights it.

"Happy birthday to you..." Baron's attention ceases from the flickering candle and to the boy beside him. Julian's sweet singing engraves the unfamiliar tune as a memory in the back of his mind. "- Happy Birthday, happy birthday, " With another smile, Baron's eyes drift back to the cupcake.

As the tune ends, a flash of light enwraps them as Baron blows out the candle. They cheer and clap when he takes the candle out, a smile lingering with a new sense of elation. "I think I have a birthday gift for you, though, it will be late." Mrs. Adler smiles, waving her camera.

"It's no need. This whole thing you guys have done is the best thing I've ever gotten." Once again, his gaze lands on Julian who is happily eating a muffin. He stops eating after spotting Baron's eyes on him.

Reaching out, Baron swipes off a few crumbs by the corner of Julian's mouth with his thumb. "Thank you for this. I owe you everything." Baron's voice lowers, thumb now gently caressing Julian's cheek.

The two of them flush red.

"You owe me nothing. Just be happy.

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