The London Archives


Jag samlar på BJD-dockor, som nog många av mina läsare redan vet. Min första docka var Set, som jag utvecklade en karaktär till och som jag senare också började rollspela med, och skriva om. Storyn runtomkring honom och Jake blev större och större och tack vare rollspelandet har det nu utvecklats till en egen liten värld istället för bara en "story."
Den inkluderar många fler karaktärer, vissa som jag har i dockform, vissa inte. 

The London Archives är mitt samlingsnamn på korta utdrag ur den här storyn. Jag skriver dem inte i någon särskild ordning. En text kan vara från när Set är tretton, och en annan som jag skrivit direkt efter kan plötsligt handla om Set när han är tjugofem. Eller så kan det handla om en karaktär som är Sets systers flickväns storebrors kompis. Det enda som gör att det hör ihop är att de bor i samma påhittade universum, i London.

Jag skriver de här texterna för att jag är nöjd med hur Set och Jake blev som karaktärer, och det är både roligt och givande för mig att få utveckla dem ännu mer genom skrift. 
En till anledning till är att jag ska få öva på min engelska , och förhoppningsvis bli bättre och bättre.

Jag hoppas det kan vara kul för utomstående att läsa även fast det kanske kan verka förvirrande ibland. Det är svårt för mig att förklara allting runtomkring i de ändå rätt så korta textsnuttarna, eftersom det allra mesta ändå finns inuti mitt huvud. 

© Amanda

Set & Jake; first kiss

Observera att mina engelskakunskaper är långt ifrån perfekta, och att jag blev klar med den här delen runt fyra, halv fem, på morgonen. Det kan finnas en hel del stavfel och syftningsfel. Säg gärna till mig om ni hittar något som låter konstigt :3

Jag har också döpt om kategorin till The London Archives. Här hamnar alla mina engelska texter om Set, Jake, och resten av karaktärerna som hör till deras story. 

They met a couple of times. A lot of times, even.
Even though Set had a lot to do with school and chores at home, they somehow found the time to meet at least once a week. In the park, most of the time. When they were at Set’s place and the parents were home Jake only got nervous, so laughingly they had decided that it would be better if they met outside.
But this one time, they happened to be at Jake’s place.
Compared to the Hargreaves’ manor the house was a poor excuse of a home, but Set seemed to like it a lot. It was just a simple, small, yellow house. A house like everyone else’s.
They sat down in Jakes room, on his bed, since he only had one chair. That chair was halfway pushed in under a white, old writing desk, carrying a big pile of clothes.
“I’m sorry my room is a mess”, Jake sighed. He started to pick up some music papers from the floor, but Set hurried to break in.
“No, no it’s ok. I like it.”
“It’s stuff everywhere…” Jake gave him an uncertain glance. The boy lived in a perfectly tidied house. He’d expected someone like Set to crinkle his nose and wonder why they didn’t put things in order. But on the other hand, Set wasn’t the typical spoiled-son-with-a-rich-family. He was so gentle, and open. Hell, he was sure the kid would’ve been happy even if the house had been without a roof.
“It doesn’t matter”, Set smiled. “It’s cozy here.”
“Thank you”, Jake said, smiling lightly. He sat down next to Set again, leaning his hands on his thighs.
Hundreds of thoughts ran through his head. Should he offer something to eat or drink, would they go out soon instead of sitting here, should he ask if he wanted to do something special, like video games, or… anything. Jake scratched his neck. Not that he was nervous anymore, but there was always a kind of pressure when he took somebody home for the first time.
The times they’d met when they were outdoors there had always been something to do. Just strolling through the park, going through every shop in the mall after stuff that could be interesting, anything. In Jakes room there wasn’t much you could do. Except for talking.
“So…” Set started, looking at one of the music sheets on the floor. “You said you played the guitar, right?”
“That’s right.” Jake nodded to the left corner of the room, where a black acoustic guitar hung on the wall. “My favorite.”
“What a beauty”, Set smiled. “You have more than one?”
“Yeah, I still have my first guitar. And a Gibson Les Paul, too. Bought it recently, actually.”
“Oh… I really know nothing about guitars. I just think they’re a grace for the eye to look at, so to say.” Set laughed a little. “It’s a pretty instrument.”
“Indeed.” Jake couldn’t hold back a smile. Set’s way with words, how he expressed himself, it was so cute in some way. “You play the piano, right?”
“Yes, I do.” Set nodded. “Mother taught me when I was just a kid. It’s been something I’ve grown up with. Still learning, too.”
“I saw that huge, black concert piano in the dining room when I was at your place…”
“She’s mine”, Set said with a proud smile.
“Yours?” Jake said, surprised. That concert grand piano looked like it was worth more than his family’s little house.
“Yes. Mother bought it for me when I was just five, so that she could teach me how to play, and so I could take it with me when it was my time to move out”, Set explained. “She would have done the same for Juliet, but she was more fascinated by the violin anyway.”
“I see”, said Jake, still a bit chocked. To think someone had so much money they could buy a concert piano for their five-year-old son. Wow.
“Ridiculously expensive, I know”, Set said with almost an embarrassed smile. “Anyhow…”
“Mm. I wonder what they think of me, by the way.” Jake frowned slightly. “Your parents, I mean.”
“I don’t know…” Set tilted his head slightly to the side, seemed to think about it.
“Not that I’ve said much more than hi and goodbye, but. Anyway. First impressions and such.” Jake cleared his throat. “I mean, I look like quite the douchebag.”
“You don’t”, Set giggled, shaking his head. Then he became more serious. “My parents are quite… narrow-minded. They don’t like anything that’s different.”
“I almost guessed that”, said Jake with a vague smile.
“It’s not like they’re mean or anything”, Set sighed. “If you’re nice to them they’re going to be nice to you. It’s just that they’re quite quick with being prejudicious, and well… I guess they don’t really like anyone. If they’re not as rich and well-mannered as themselves.”
Jake watched Set as he spoke. He spoke in a lower, more serious, voice now. Like the subject was something that bothered him more than he wanted to confess. This all remembered Jake about when they met the first time, in the park. When Set had been upset, with all right, saying sorry over and over even though he had nothing to apologize for.
It felt like that kid carried something too heavy for his own shoulders. It made Jake worry.
“And… you don’t like it?” Jake guessed.
“No, not at all.” Set sighed. “I don’t like them being so narrow-minded. Sometimes it feels like they’re stuck centuries ago, like they’ll never start accepting new things. Different things.”
“Well, that sucks.” Jake glanced at him. It felt like he… meant something with that sentence.
“It does”, Set said, nodding slightly. “Sometimes… it makes it hard for me to love them.”
Jake nodded too. The first impression he’d got from Set’s parents seemed to be accurate. They did look like nice people, but also they looked like that kind of people who said hello with a smile, and then talked a lot of shit about as fast as you’d said goodbye and closed the door behind you. He hadn’t asked Set anything about it though, afraid to hurt him by asking, but now it seemed like most of the things he’d thought was true.
Set’s voice sounded so small and sad when he spoke about it. Like the Hargreaves family wasn’t as perfect as their family photo, and that he took hit by hit in silence. Jake had noticed something before, something vibrating in the air when they came near the subject. That something wasn’t right. They were a lot more near it now than they had been before, and he wanted to know, and help him. He just had to use the right words.
“What is it that they don’t accept?” Jake asked, hoping that it was the right thing to say.
Set squeezed his hand in the other, frowned just a little, and gave his own feet a bothered look.
“I… it’s so much. The way they speak about things, you can hear it in their voice when they don’t like something. It can be anything. The neighbors’ new clothes. If Juliet has a friend that doesn’t behave as they’re used to. They never say it out loud; you can just hear it… seeping, all poisonous, in the back of their mouths.” Set sighed, slowly ran his fingers through his snow white fringe. “It isn’t much that is good enough for them. I’m not.”
“Why wouldn’t you be enough..?”
“I hear it in their voices. When they speak to me.” Set shook his head. “I’m not as proud of being one of the family as they want me to. To be honest I’d like it better being a part of a normal family. I’d like to be a person that no one notices in the street, that no one greets except for when you’re friends. And they just… they’re so disappointed in me, I can’t…”
Jake watched him quietly. Set bit his lip, seemed to be uncertain if he should say more, or if he already had said too much.
“Disappointed?” Jake said, encouraging him to continue. Set needed to get this out of him, it was written all over his face, that he had held it for too long.
“I just…” Set said quietly, leaning forward so that he could rest his head in his hand. “I’m gay. And they hate it.”
Jake didn’t know whether he would smile or sigh, because he felt like doing both. Smile, because he’d understood a long time ago that it had to be that way. That Set was gay. It was something in the way he acted, moved, talked. Everything. He was far from being some kind of wuss, it wasn’t anything like that. It just felt like that boy simply couldn’t be straight.
He wanted to sigh, a deep sigh, because of the anger that built up inside of his chest. Of course it had to be that way. Perfect family, wants a perfect son, but rejects him because; him being gay didn’t fit their picture of perfectness.
“Oh… I’m sorry”, Jake said in a quiet voice.
“I hope I won’t scare you away now”, Set said with a nervous, little laugh. Even though he laughed Jake could hear the fear in his voice.
“God, no. I’m bisexual.” Jake leaned forward, rested his head in his hand in an exact copy of Set’s pose. “A gay boy won’t scare me away.”
Set, who warily had been watching Jake, now seemed to melt in relief. His cheeks flushed pink and quickly he hid his face in both of his hands.
“Oh gosh”, he mumbled. “I was so worried you would chase me out of the house. With torches and pitchforks and everything…”
Jake laughed. The boy was so helplessly cute. Of course he understood that Set had been worried, and the fact that he had to worry was sad, but the part with the torches made Jake crack up.
“No! No way”, he laughed. “I like boys too.”
“To hear that might be… the biggest relief ever”, Set said, embarrassed. “Not that you seemed to be a… you know, hater, but…”
“Don’t worry, I get it.” Jake grinned. “I’ve never had a boyfriend, but I’ve fucked my best friend and he’s a guy, so…”
“Oh…” Set looked up, with eyes widened.
Jake bit his tongue. Shit, he should have said slept with. Or maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned it at all. Just when he was on his way to apologize about his language, Set smiled.
“Uh…” Jake said sheepishly.
“Actually I’ve never been with anyone”, Set said. He seemed even more embarrassed by saying it, but he valiantly ignored his blushing cheeks.
“No one at all?” Jake frowned.
“Not even a kiss?”
“No. Or, I kissed a girl in kindergarten once. But she told her friends, and they started laughing at me. Then I started to cry…” Set giggled. “It didn’t go that well.”
“Aw no… poor thing”, Jake said, feeling sorry for him for real. Set just shrugged.
“I was too young to get hurt feelings anyway”, he said with a little smile. Then he turned serious again, thoughtfully biting his lip before he spoke. “I guess my role as the Hargreaves’ son adds up to the fact that I’ve never had anyone. It would be catastrophic if it came out that I had a boyfriend, which is why I never even hoped that I would have anyone. And… I guess other people saw the same family-based problem. So, if there ever was someone who wanted me, I guess they didn’t dare to ask me out.”
“That’s sad”, Jake sighed. “Love is love. People shouldn’t be judged by who they have feelings for.”
“Exactly”, Set said with a small voice.
“I’ve… been with far too many, I guess.” Jake scratched his neck once more. He felt ashamed mentioning it, when Set never even had got the chance to kiss anyone. “I guess I am, was, a slut.”
“Please don’t call yourself that…”
“Mm… I don’t… do that anymore, though.” Jake sighed heavily. The habit of going out, drinking, taking or following a stranger home, had been a part of his destructive period, when he’d stopped caring about everything and nothing. He tried to see it as a closed chapter now.
“That’s good.” Set smiled softly. Jake smiled back.
“Yeah. It is.” He frowned a little, bitterly. “It was stupid. Nothing I’m proud over, at all. I felt like shit and I didn’t handle it the right way. I don’t know if it’s because of that, or if it always has been this way, but… I don’t think I’ve ever been in love. Hell, maybe I’m not capable of falling in love at all.”
“I’m sorry…” Set said quietly.
“Thanks. I just don’t know… But maybe it’s all about time. We’ll see.” Jake shrugged.
It was quiet for a while. Jake felt relief over Set taking the ‘bad news about Jake’ in such a good way.
Set let out a quiet sigh.
“If I just could say one more thing about my parents…” he said in a troubled voice.
“Of course.”
“It’s that… I guess it would have been easier if they threw me out of the house, when I told them. Instead of half-heartedly pretending that they love me for who I am.” Set smiled, a little, sad smile.
Instead of saying anything Jake put an arm around his shoulders, hugged him like that. Not too intimate, in case of it becoming awkward, but still showing that he cared.

After that they talked even more. Set told Jake more specifically about the bullying he’d been through in school, since he’d only mentioned it briefly before. When they already had sunk into such deep subjects, Jake decided to tell Set about his suicide attempt in December, last year. He told him about the depression, the suffocating feeling of being useless, and what had made him cross the border to try the last resort, suicide. He told him about the mental hospital and about the psychologist he had to go see every week, all the way to September this year.
Set had been on the verge of tears at the end of his story.
Jake tried to comfort him by saying that now, almost a year after the attempt, he was glad he failed. Even though he’d been depressed and lost energy and want, it had slowly turned to the better. A bit embarrassed, he had confessed that it had become even better after they’d started to hang out. To his surprise, Set blushed at his words.

Now, the sky was all black, aside from the small, glittering lights of the stars.
They were standing outside the Hargreaves’ manor with scarves tucked around their necks and cheeks pink from the cold winter air. Jake had insisted to follow Set home, instead of letting him walk alone. They had talked much all the other times they’d met, but never as much as today, and never before about such important things. It felt odd, but good.
Both of them now seemed to have trouble saying goodbye.
“When can we meet next time?” Set was the first to ask.
“I’m free almost all the time”, Jake said. “Monday?”
“I think I’m busy…”
“Ah. Tuesday then?”
“I… um, maybe I can send you a text when I’m free?” Set asked. He seemed embarrassed, as always, for being busy.
“Sounds great”, Jake smiled.
“Okay. I should go in, before…” Set’s voice faded out before he completed the sentence. Jake nodded in silence.
He knew that it would be for the better, before Set’s mom called, either angry or worried. But… he didn’t want to let him go. Not just yet.
Set opened his mouth to say something, probably goodbye, but no words came out. Slowly he closed it again, and smiled a little, silly smile. For a moment they only looked at each other.
Jake didn’t know what to do with the growing, almost aching, feeling in his chest. Set’s face in this soft light, his lips. Jake had to swallow. He could admit he’d been watching him in a way he shouldn’t have. He could also admit he felt so much more for this boy than he’d ever thought was possible. He’d felt that way for quite a long time now.
Set’s eyes… Deep brown, beautiful ones. They made things with his mind. Things he should suppress because he knew so well that they were forbidden.
Still, he couldn’t care less.
Jake leaned down, so close that he could hear the small, shaking breath Set took, before their lips met. His lips were as soft as he’d imagined them to be. And he tasted sweet, like candy.
A mitten-covered hand took a hold of Jakes upper arm and Jake smiled into the kiss, knowing he had done the right thing, after all.
Set’s cheeks wore a shade of bright pink when Jake leaned back again. He looked so happy, eyes shining, with a confused but bright smile on his lips.
“You said you were incapable of falling in love..?” Set said quietly, wondering, his big eyes looking up on Jake. Almost as if he was afraid this was some kind of joke. Jake answered his wondering look with a smile.
“I was lying, obviously”, he said.

© Amanda

Jake & Set; second meeting

Jake regarded the big, white manor in silence. White-framed windows covered the walls of the three story building, the roof was black and a chimney peeked up near the right end. The door was as black as the roof and had a silver handle looking so expensive Jake was sure it was worth more money than his family’s entire house.
He stood at the gates, halfway hidden behind a bush with spiky twigs. More of the spiky bushes were seen in the garden, plus trees on each side of the gravel path looking just like a little parkway. He bet it would look wonderful in the spring and summer when the grass were green and the trees wore their leaves. Now they were just cold and gray, and the ground was covered with a thin layer of snow and frost. Except for the ground just around his feet, where the snow had melted, since he’d been standing there for an embarrassingly long time.
Like a total creeper.
Jake turned around quicker than lightning. A little girl in a blue winter coat stood just a couple of feet away, long blonde hair thrown over her shoulder and a light smile on her lips. She looked so happy and friendly Jake forgot to feel embarrassed about getting caught.
“Hello”, he said, stupidly.
“Looking for Set?” she asked, tilting her head a little, just like Set had done that night when they’d met. Her eyes were the exact same deep brown as her brother’s.
“Yes”, Jake answered, gave her a quick smile in response to not seem completely weird.
“Oh, then just follow me!” the sister said happily, smiled wider and pushed the gate open. She walked in, then waited for him to follow. So he did.
Jake absolutely hadn’t planned for this to happen. He’d just happened to walk by and stopped for a moment when he realized exactly which house he was walking by. He had been hoping to maybe see Set in a window, or in the garden, and then just walk home.
But now, he was suddenly invited by Set’s little sister, walking towards the door with the expensive silver handle. A small lump of nervousness started to take shape inside his ribcage. Somewhere near the heart.
“Thank you”, Jake said quietly when the sister held the door for him. He looked around in the big room they’d entered, eyes widening. It was even bigger than he’d expected.
“I’ll go tell Set that you’re here”, said the sister, then hurried away and up the stairs. Jake just nodded, nervously waiting at the door and hoping no parents would come and greet him.
It almost scared him, to be honest. He knew nothing of how to greet rich and proper parents, or how to act around them. Like normal people maybe, but what if they we’re all snobbish and demanded a bow and a ‘Good day Mr. and Mrs. Hargreaves’?
Holy shit. He sure didn’t hope they would.
Jake had been so lost in thoughts he hadn’t noticed Set at the top of the stairs, quietly watching him. It took Jake a few more seconds of worrying before he looked up at the small balcony-like stage where Set stood, leaned slightly over the rail, his surprised brown eyes looking down at him.
“Hi”, Set said. He slowly started smiling.
“Hi.” Jake brushed his black hair away from his eyes, suddenly felt kind of stupid. “I was just… I happened to stop outside your house for a moment, and your sister showed me inside, so…” He smiled stupidly, felt like some kind of intruder, but when Set smiled happily in response he didn’t feel quite as bad anymore.
“I was thinking about sending you a text today actually.” Set started to walk down the stairs, leaning his hand against the rail as he made it down and stopped a few feet away from Jake. He smiled that soft smile again, almost apologizing. “But now you’re already here, so… Well, um, you can put your boots there.” He pointed to the left of Jake, at a shoe rack Jake completely had missed before.
“Of course”, he said, more to himself than to anybody else, sunk down to his knees and quickly unlaced his boots. He took the opportunity to discretely study Set when he was looking another direction.
The boy wore simple black jeans and a white shirt under a light grey cardigan, carefully buttoned and (at least it looked much like it) ironed. His white hair looked almost unnatural in such a perfect hairstyle. The tip of his fringe just touched the bottom of his jaw line, and the rest ended just above his shoulders. It all just made Jake feel like something the cat dragged in, with his black messy hair and worn jeans with safety pins holding a tear together. Shit.
Jake got up with the boots in his hand and carefully placed them on the shoe rack. He made sure they wouldn’t fall down or something else as stupid, then turned to Set again.
Set scratched his neck.
“Do you want tea?” he asked.
“Yes, please”, Jake said and nodded slightly. Better say yes to be polite.
“With milk?”
“Anything else?”
“Uh… why don’t you make it like you usually drink it?” Jake said. He usually didn’t drink tea that often, he wasn’t a real Englishman after all, but Set was so Jake was sure he would make great tea.
“Okay, yes.” Set smiled, then suddenly seemed to be embarrassed and gave his own feet a quick look. “You can wait in my room if you would like. It’s up the stairs, then the last door at the left in the corridor.”
“Yeah sure”, Jake said, nodded once again and backed a few steps before he turned around completely and headed for the stairs. He tried to remember the directions Set had given him; he bet he would be totally lost otherwise.
Once Jake was up the stairs he stopped and looked around a little. The corridor had cream white walls with some paintings hung here and there, several doors in dark wood, and a floor in near exact same color.
The blonde girl was leaning out from one of the rooms to the right, smiling a little when she saw Jake all lost in the middle of the corridor. Jake gave her a little nod and a smile, was on his way to go there, but then remembered that Set had said ‘left.’
Luckily only one of the doors was open. Jake peeked in before he dared to enter, stood in the middle of the room for a short while, and then finally sat down on the edge of Set’s bed.
The room was big and light. The bed was placed directly to the left of the door, up against the wall, and across the room was a big bookshelf filled with both thick and thin books. So Set liked to read, huh?
Everything in the room was neat and orderly. Even the book lying on the windowsill seemed to be placed there with care. Jake somehow managed to feel even more misplaced. He quickly looked up when Set appeared in the doorway, balancing two cups of tea and a small plate with biscuits on a wooden tray.
“I brought some biscuits”, Set said with a smile. He placed the tray beside Jake on the bed, then sat down on the other side. “If… you like biscuits…”
“Yeah, yeah of course. Biscuits rock.” Jake took one of the small crackers and took a bite. He looked up at Set, surprised, when he suddenly started laughing. Only then he understood how lame he must have sounded. Biscuits rock? Holy Jesus on a stick, it was one thing to be nervous, but it was totally another thing to make an complete fool of himself because of it.
He couldn’t help but laugh a little anyway. He’d accidentally made Set laugh, and that was what mattered.
“Oh, I’m sorry”, Set giggled. “It just…”
“Sounded like I was the lamest person on earth?” Jake suggested with a laugh. Set couldn’t really answer, was still giggling, and even had to cover his mouth with his hand to make it stop. “God”, Jake said.
It went quiet for a while, except for small giggling breaths and a quiet sound from the tray when it met the cup Set lifted and then put down again. Jake quietly looked around in the room, then looked at Set when he noticed he’d started smiling.
“So”, Set started. “Juliet said you stood hiding behind some bush…”
“Uh, well…” Jake smiled stupidly. Complete fool, it was. “I just happened to walk by actually. Then I figured, maybe if I saw you in there somewhere I could wave or something, and well… I stood there for an embarrassingly long time. And then your sister happened to find me…” he admitted. A smile found its way back to his lips when Set started laughing again.
This was what he liked about him. There weren’t any awkward silences. Set was so easy to talk with; he was so easy to just… be with. It was even worth embarrassing himself because it just got funny instead of being awkward.
“You could have just called, you know”, Set smiled.
“I know, I just….” Jake breathed out a laugh. “I don’t know why I didn’t.”
“No worries.” Set lifted his cup once again, took a sip of the hot tea. It was still steaming and Jake didn’t get how he could drink it without burning his tongue. “It’s nice to meet you again”, Set then said. “So… I’m glad you happened to stay long enough for my sister to invite you.”
Jake took his own cup from the tray, looked down in the creamy brown tea. The smile on his lips widened, not much, but enough for that foreign kind of happiness to shine through.
“I’m glad, too”, he then said. He was so very glad he’d met him.

© Amanda

Jake & Set; first meeting

The white-haired boy sitting on the bench looked up, seemed to be almost chocked, judging by the size of his eyes.
Jake smiled.“Strangers never say hello to you?”
“Well… Happens sometimes.”
“Aha.” Jake sat down beside him on the bench and crossed his arms over his chest. He actually had no idea why he did this, but it didn’t really hurt to talk with strangers, so… why not. This stranger had somehow caught his interest, and he wouldn’t want to let this moment pass. He was pretty sure he hadn’t seen him before. As long as the boy didn’t punch him in the face or thought he was scary and walked away it should go just fine. He hoped. It was hard to believe that the boy would punch him, though. He seemed innocent and sweet, almost like a child, even though he had to be around Jake’s own age.
“So, what’s your name?” Jake asked when it had been a little bit too quiet a little bit too long.
“Set”, the white-haired said quietly, almost as if he was scared or nervous. The word ‘cute’ popped up in Jakes mind.
“I’m Jake”, he said and soon forgot about the cute-thing as he instead thought of the boys’ name. Could he be..? “Are you the Hargreaves’ son?” he asked, warily.
“Yes, I am.” The white-haired let out a sigh. It seemed like he was embarrassed about confessing it. Jake took a big chunk of his own tongue and bit it. Damn, he hadn’t recognized him at all. He hadn’t seen him before so it wasn’t that weird, but ‘everyone in this part of London should know who the Hargreaves are and what they look like’ or something like that. Common knowledge, apparently. Not that he cared that much about lords and ladies, but now when he met one of them, it was pretty embarrassing not to know.
“I’m sorry”, Jake said and scratched his neck. “Didn’t realize it was you.”
“Oh… never mind that.”
“ Never mind what?”
“That you should recognize me. People recognize me only because of my known family, not for who I am. They don’t even know anything about me, so they shouldn’t pretend like they do”, the white-haired said sourly, then he seemed embarrassed again, like he’d said something he shouldn’t. “I’m sorry”, he added a few seconds later and shifted his gaze down to his hands. Jake slowly raised his eyebrows.
“You don’t have to say that”, he said in a low voice.
“I shouldn’t speak like that…”
“Who says you shouldn’t?”
“Well, no one, I guess. I usually don’t speak like that”, he mumbled. “But my parents would kill me if they heard what I just said.”
Jake looked around. The park was as empty as it had been when he first came here. It was just the two of them there, and maybe some doves in a tree somewhere. He was pretty sure they wouldn’t tell anyone.
“Doesn’t seem like they’re around”, he said in an easy tone. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw that Set had trouble fighting one himself.
“Lucky me.” The boy carefully ran his fingers through his snow white fringe. “But it’s not right being angry at people just trying to be polite, they’re just saying ‘How are you today, young Mr. Hargreaves?’ or something else just as briskly. It’s just that… I’ve heard it so many times, and I would actually want to be treated like a normal person, because that’s what I am.” His chest heaved when he sighed. “God, I’m sorry. I’m just blurting out weird things like this to a stranger.”
“It’s ok”, Jake said. “I would have felt the same way.” He had thought about it many times, how hard it would be to be involuntary famous. If you wanted to get famous for your music, like he had imagined sometimes, at least you had a choice.
“You would?” Set asked quietly, looking at Jake with big brown eyes. Jake tried to not reach out a hand and give him a comforting pat on the shoulder.
“Yeah. Definitely.”
“Oh.” Set smiled, but as his thoughts seemed to trail away the smile faded again. “Everyone’s just telling me to be more proud of being a Hargreaves’ child…”
“Who’s everyone?”
“Mom, dad. Teachers. Other relatives.”
“But their opinion doesn’t really count in this case… don’t you think?”
“I guess you’re right.”
“What does your friends say?”
“I don’t have that many friends…” Set smiled softly, looking up at him again.
“Oh”, it was Jakes turn to say this time. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked. “Sorry.”
“It’s ok.” Set span a fringe from the scarf around his finger. “It’s not like I’m depressed or anything. I have one friend, who’s amazing, and that’s what counts.”
“Same here.” Jake smiled once again, couldn’t simply resist doing it. He liked this kid, the way he saw things and the way he apologized for being impolite, like a proper gentleman. Because, that’s what he was, after all. A Hargreaves’ child.
Set smiled softly in response, then nodded.
“I’m really glad I have him”, he started. “He’s just… a friend. A good one. Nothing complicated. He doesn’t care about me being a rich man’s child or anything. He just treats me like a friend should treat a friend.” His voice softened a bit in the end of the sentence, and the smile on his lips almost made Jakes heart melt in a way he hadn’t experienced before. It made him slightly nervous.
“I have a friend like that too”, Jake said, answered Sets smile with one of his own. He bet it didn’t look half as cute, though.
“Really?” Set asked, pure curiosity glittering in his eyes.
“Mhm.” Jake nodded. “Not that my parents are rich or anything, but… I know quite a lot of people, in that way where you say hello in the street and stay and talk for a while, you know? Some of them are nice. I like them. But… some of them think that there’s more to it, that we’re best friends in some way, just because… I don’t know?” Jake paused when he didn’t really know how to proceed. Set made a quiet encouraging sound, something between a ‘yes?’ and a ‘hm.’ Jake leaned his elbows on his thighs, sighed quietly. “I don’t really like how it sounds but I guess I’m one of the popular guys. There’s people who want to be friends with me for ridiculous reasons, they try too hard and they don’t know me at all, they just want to hang around me because I… well, you get it.”
“I get it”, said Set quietly.
“Good”, Jake said in a breath. “They disgust me. I love to get to know new people, it’s not that, but when they come and talk and stuff and you actually thought you made a friend, but then you hear it the other way that ‘oh, you know Janice is best friends with Jake now’, and they only used you to make everything sound so great and to get themselves a good name and shit? Fuck that! Fuck them.”
Suddenly everything felt too quiet. Jake swallowed, kneaded his hands nervously. He had got way too carried away there. Lost control over words, which he never did, he never told anybody how he felt about that.
“I don’t understand people who do such things”, Set said, carefully. Almost as if he was afraid of making Jake angry.
“Yeah”, he sighed, feeling a bit bad over the way he’d almost screamed. “I didn’t want to become a popular kid. I just sort of did, and I try to roll with it. But I don’t like all the negative attention.”
“I agree with that.” Set played with the fringes on his scarf again, seemed to think over what he wanted to say before he opened his mouth once again. “We’re not popular in the same way, and people don’t really do that kind of ‘friend’ thing to me, but… The negative attention, I’ve… experienced some of it.”
“Sorry to hear that”, Jake said, silently wondering what he meant with experiencing it, but he didn’t ask. It felt too private.
“It’s ok now.” Set nodded slightly, then looked at Jake, smiling softly.
“Thanks”, Jake said.
“For what?”
“For understanding.” Jake leaned back against the backrest, gave the starry sky a quick look and breathed out a heavy sigh. “Most people seem to think it’s awesome to be a popular guy. I guess it takes another popular guy to actually know it’s not some kind of fairytale.”
“I guess”, said Set, tilting his head just a bit.
“It’s not just bad though. I happened to get to know a bunch of cool people, I wouldn’t have if Jacob hadn’t introduced me, and I wouldn’t have known him if I didn’t know another bunch of people first. But sometimes you just get… too tired. Too tired of all the shit to focus on the good things.”
“True. But… you said you had a friend, like mine?”
“Yeah, Ash. But he’s still living in Chicago”, said Jake with a sigh.
It went quiet again for a while, then Set silently cleared his throat. Jake turned his head toward him.
“I knew you weren’t from here”, he said, a bit embarrassed. “I just couldn’t place your accent. But it’s… Chicago?”
“Yeah. Chicago it is. I almost thought I had lost my accent entirely, I’ve lived here for quite a while”, Jake smiled.
“Ah, no, I totally heard you were an American. I’m just really bad with the accents”, said Set with a low chuckle.
Jake’s smile widened when he heard it. He had no idea why, but it was something so special about him and that smile, and that voice. Suddenly everything felt kind of unreal, so unreal Jake had to run his fingers through his own hair and then tugged it a little to make sure he wasn’t dreaming some kind of weird dream. He wasn’t.
“Shit.” Jake breathed out a laugh. Set looked at him, surprised. “I just, wow. I never tell people these things, and now I somehow blurted it all out in front of you. Complete strangers and all.”
“Join the club?” said Set with a laugh. “I blurted out things earlier.”
Jake nodded, still laughing a little, without knowing why. He didn’t use to laugh much at all, and specially not like this. Not with a white-haired stranger boy on a park bench, almost in the middle of the night, thinking way too many thoughts about him already.
When the laughter had slowly drifted away and got replaced with silence, they just sat there, looking at the sky. It was a comfortable silence, almost like they’ve been friends for a long time and no words were needed. Jake couldn’t stop wondering about it.
The mesmerizing feeling of looking at the stars with someone by your side wasn’t something Jake had believed he would appreciate. But now he sat there and appreciated it so much he felt so completely different from when he had left home. He had went out with boredom and fatigue aching in his chest, and it had blown away in the breeze so easy when he just decided to greet a lonely boy in the park. He felt so much better about it all, at least for the moment, and just a small thing like that made him hopeful.
He had missed the feeling of actually having someone to talk true and honest things with, and somehow he had let it happen when Set accidentally told him things of meaning and not just shallow stuff. Jake really wanted to get to know him. It surprised him, but he couldn’t deny it, because it was a fact so true it almost embarrassed him.
He almost jumped when a signal suddenly broke the silence. Set picked up a cell phone from the front pocket in his jeans, pressed a button and held it up against his ear. Jake couldn’t help but watch him in silence, as the white-haired boy quietly answered what seemed to be somewhat irritating questions. Jake gave him a wondering look when he put the phone back in the pocket.
“I’m sorry”, Set sighed. “My mother wants me back home as quick as possible, so I’m afraid I have to go.”
“You better go then”, Jake said with a light smile, tried not let the disappointment shine through. He didn’t feel like walking home yet, but not stay here alone, either.
“I will.” Set got up on his feet, carefully adjusted both the red winter jacket and the scarf so that it would look good. He looked up, let the gaze fall on Jakes face and smiled that soft smile once again. “It was nice talking to you.”
“Same.” Jake smiled back. “Bye.”
Jake watched him as he walked away. The red back of the jacket, the light gray jeans and the snow white hair. It felt a bit sad, somehow. Would they meet again? What if they kept on missing each other and he wouldn’t be able to get to know him at all? He let out a silent sigh. That sort of thing was just stupid to think. It would be alright, and what he needed to do now was to get home before his own mum called, worried.
Just when Jake was about to stand up and leave, he saw a figure coming with hurried steps back along the path, with cheeks flushed pink and an apologizing smile on his lips.
“Hi?” Jake said, both with smile and surprise in his voice. Set smiled back, embarrassed.
“Hi”, he said. “I just… I was just wondering if you would like to give me your number?” The pink flush on Sets cheeks, which he thought had come from the walk, deepened to light red, and Jake thought he would smile his own face in two parts.
“Gladly”, he answered.

© Amanda