|Settling for More
Author: Krissie PM
He wanted to kiss Kevin. He wanted to do more than just kiss Kevin. He couldn't tell Kevin he wanted that.Rated: Fiction K - English - Elder McKinley & Kevin/Elder Price - Words: 5,974 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 12-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8796406
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is for kei_rin because she's the reason I do way too much, haha. It's always her fault. And I also did way too much research about BYUI, given that I've never been there, and I'm not LDS anyway. Mistakes are because I didn't want to ask my LDS friends for help on a slash fic. Awkward, y/y?
Also? I hate titles. :/
Connor bit his lip, carefully typing "Kevin Price" in the search box, hoping for a hit. It was a long shot, he knew; not every missionary loaded their information online, but he had to try. After his mission had ended, he'd distanced himself from his companions. It was for the best; those two years weren't his most righteous, after all.
But now, years later, he needed this closure. He'd spent the last three years at BYU Idaho, getting his degree in dance and spending all his free time turning everything over in his head again and again, and dang it, he needed to know if his hunch was right. So many years of turning it off, and this one time-why this time? Why on his mission? Was God punishing him even more than usual?—the switch gets stuck at "on."
He was sure—really, truly sure—that Price was gay, too. Too many times in Uganda he'd thought Price was flirting with him, or caught him staring too long at himself, or Poptarts. Maybe it was wishful thinking, or Lucifer's way of really making those Hell dreams hellish, but Conner needed to try.
And there it was. Kevin Price, served in Uganda Kampala District 9 from March 2011-March 2013, from Broadwater, Montana.
And there was the link to email the RM in question, too.
This was it. Connor took a deep breath and hesitated before clicking the link. He didn't know what to say, though. 'Hey, Kevin, remember me? I really thought you looked hot in those sacred garments. Maybe I could see if you're hotter without them?' Yeah, right. That was just asking for a restraining order. Maybe he should stick with something simple, something not threatening or creepy. Just to … to see if the other boy even wanted to talk to him. That was all.
'Dear Elder Price,
It's Elder McKinley. I found your email address online and wanted to hear about how things were going for you since Uganda. I figured this was the best way to just say 'hi.' If this is even still your email.
My first name is Connor, by the way. Doesn't it seem odd that even after everything in Uganda we still don't know each other's first names properly? Right, well either way I'm finishing my Performing Arts degree in dance at BYUI. I don't where I'll be going after that's done with, so I'll probably be around awhile.
Did you ever make it to Orlando like you wanted?
Email me back when you have time.
He'd had to stop himself from adding 'love' before his name. That was putting him right back into creepy stalker territory, when really, he just wanted a friend. Okay, he wanted more, but he'd settle for friendship right now. After all, maybe he'd only imagined the way Kevin had looked at him.
No. No. He couldn't believe that. Those mornings where they were both up early, sitting quietly in the kitchen waiting for the others to get up just talking about whatever, that couldn't just be his imagination. Connor had loved those mornings. It was going against the rules—"don't rise before your companion"—but at that point, they'd all pretty much given up hope of being an actual mission. He and Kevin had a lot in common, even though the other boy had been a little too fond of coffee and not fond enough of study time.
But there were other times, times where Kevin was distant, dark, even. Times he pulled back from everyone, even Arnold.
Uganda had been hard on them all, but especially on Kevin. The boy didn't talk about what had happened to make him doubt Heavenly Father, but it was a topic they'd all learned early on to avoid. Connor had never seen anyone's faith so thoroughly shaken, and he didn't know if Kevin had ever found his way back to the church or not. He was on the website, though, so … maybe he had?
Connor wasn't sure what to think. Maybe it was best to just … wait and see what Kevin had to say. If he had anything to say at all.
Connor had been obsessively checking his email for the past three days, without success. So when the email came Tuesday morning that he'd been waiting for, he pounced on it. Never mind that he had to get to class in five minutes—this was more important!
I didn't know you were at BYUI. Can't believe we've never run into each other. I'm here, too, majoring in Social Work. I thought I might go back to Uganda, or something. I liked helping people, with or without the church's approval.
I never did make it back to Orlando, either. Some things happened after I got back, and it just never worked out.
Maybe we could meet up for lunch sometime? How about Friday around noon in Manwaring?
See you soon!
Connor had to restrain himself from skipping in the halls—Kevin wanted to see him! He couldn't believe it! And they'd been at the same school for three years and never crossed paths. That had to mean Kevin had his faith again, though, and that didn't bode well for Connor's hopes of more than taking lunch together in the crowded student center once a week.
He sent a hasty reply promising to meet his old friend there promptly at noon before racing off to class.
"What's got you so happy?" Michael asked, then Joyellen asked, then DeLance asked. Clearly, Connor thought, he wasn't usually as upbeat as he thought he was.
"Heard from an old friend," he said simply each time. It was the easiest reply, and technically true. Maybe he'd have more to say after Friday.
If he could manage to get there, anyway. Time was dragging, ever since he'd read that email. A minute felt like an hour. He couldn't concentrate on his homework, and he was just thankful that his grades could stand a week of poor performance.
Wednesday and Thursday were interminably long. Connor went through the motions of sitting in class and taking notes, or going to his dance practices, but in reality, all he wanted to do was sleep until Friday. He'd pass the time better that way, since even his favorite activities weren't making the clock move any faster this week. His roommates weren't able to get him to leave the apartment for anything besides class.
"We're beginning to worry, Con," Bryce finally said Thursday night. "Frankly, you're beginning to smell up the place. Are you planning on showering? Or changing clothes?"
Conner nodded. "Tomorrow," he promised, eyes on the clock. He'd started counting seconds about fifteen thousand, seven hundred and eighty-six seconds ago—eighty-seven, eighty-eight …
"You'd better," Bryce said, "or I'll dump water on you and let Nikki attack you with soap!"
"I'm sure you will," Conner agreed. He'd kind of understood Bryce. Something about getting a drink of water or buying soap for Nikki.
Bryce had given up after that. He knew a lost cause when he saw one.
But then, oh then it was Friday! Connor showered and shaved, trying on everything he owned for just the right outfit. Maybe he should wear the white button-up? Kevin would recognize him in that, but maybe that was trying too hard? Jeans and a t-shirt? No, that wasn't dressy enough. Slacks? Nothing?
Connor groaned, finally grabbing blindly for a shirt and khakis. Dressier than jeans, but hopefully not too fancy. Was this how normal people felt getting ready for dates? Nervous and anxious and like they might throw up?
This wasn't a date, though. This was seeing an old friend. That was it. Conner got dressed and was checking his hair again when his phone beeped an alarm.
"Crap, I'm late!"
He managed to make it to Manwaring just before noon, and he couldn't believe he'd never run into Kevin before. The boy was easy to spot, sitting there playing with his cell phone, and he was just as beautiful as Connor remembered. He took a deep breath, calming himself before casually walking over to the brunette.
"Hi, Kevin," he said, voice cracking just a bit. Kevin looked up and broke out into a huge smile before standing and pulling Connor into a hug. It took a moment before Connor could return it he was so shocked.
"Conner," Kevin said warmly. "I can't believe we've been so close for three years and never run past each other."
"Well, Ricks is on the other side of campus from my classes," Connor pointed out, sitting opposite the boy. "But—social work? What do you plan to do with that?"
"I was going to go into business," Kevin began, "but … we did good work in Uganda. Especially after we threw the rule book out the window." He smiled weakly at Connor. "I hope you didn't get in too much trouble after you came back."
"Not enough to be completely excommunicated," Connor replied. "Took a while to get back in the church's good graces, though, and they won't send me on another mission, even if I want to go." Not that he did. Uganda had left him with enough emotional baggage for a lifetime, thank you very much.
"I bet," Kevin laughed. "They don't like me much, either. Still."
"You're out of the church?" Connor asked quietly. It wasn't uncommon for ex- and non-members to go to BYU, but Connor had a hard time believing that Kevin really had left the church. If Connor'd been smart, he might have done the same instead of hiding everything his whole life. But he couldn't do that, either. His whole family was LDS, and all his friends—except one, it seemed. He wouldn't know what to do without the church in his life.
"You've got to agree that we preached a lot of bull," Kevin pointed out calmly, interrupting Connor's thoughts. "Getting our own planets, really? Dinosaur bones from space? Native Americans turning white after baptism? Connor, you have to see that it doesn't make sense."
"Well," Connor began, cheeks tinged red, "that's why you just believe."
"I just can't believe anymore," Kevin said softly.
"No, I still believe in Heavenly Father," Kevin corrected. "Just not the church."
"Well, that's okay, then," Connor said. "I thought you were going to tell me you'd done something so bad I'd have to pray for your soul." It wasn't okay, though. Kevin had been devout, years ago. Connor wished he knew what had happened to his friend to shake him so badly.
"Not going to try and lure me back?" Kevin asked, and Connor shook his head.
"You'd just start to hate me," Connor said, "and we're friends. Were friends, at least. I'll still talk about it, but just … tell me if I'm too preachy."
Kevin smiled slightly. "Can do. Are you hungry? We can grab something here, or off-campus, if you'd prefer."
"Well, cafeteria food never was my thing," Connor admitted. "Gringo's?"
"Let's go," Kevin said, and they left the cafeteria and walked off-campus. Kevin was close to Connor, their shoulders brushed every now and again. Connor's heart did a little flip every time; Kevin was warm and smelled good. It was torture. Wonderful torture.
At lunch, they talked about everything and nothing—Connor's degree, their mission and subsequent disciplinary action from the church, whether or not Star Trek was better than Star Wars. Kevin still talked to Arnold; he had moved back to Uganda after coming home and dropping out of school. His parents were proud, though, that their son had come into his own. Connor was happy for him.
Lunch ran into dinner, and then later. Three years of no contact, but it was so easy to be friends again. They really had been good together, and Connor thought that maybe Heavenly Father had known what he was doing not making them companions for their mission. With Connor getting his call three months before Kevin, there wasn't a chance they'd have been paired to start. Sharing a room with Kevin would have been the worst idea ever—not because of gay feelings, but because they'd have never gotten anything done staying up and talking.
When Connor finally made it home, he was floating on air. He was pretty sure he could easily fall in love with Kevin, if he just let himself. But of all the things they'd talked about—their families, their favorite colors, why Chex Mix was delicious—their relationship status never came up. Connor couldn't bring it up, though; what if Kevin thought it was wrong that he liked boys? Sure, he wasn't LDS anymore, but that didn't mean he'd changed all his views and morals. He still believed in God, after all.
Before he fell asleep, he vaguely wondered if Kevin being ex-LDS meant he'd get to see Kevin out of his garments someday.
"You don't like basketball?" Kevin asked, shocked. Kevin had run after his friend between classes, eager as anything Connor had ever seen, with a pressing desire to sit through two hours of boys running back and forth trying to put a ball through a hoop.
Connor shook his head. "I never really liked sports like that," he admitted, wishing he'd just agreed to go with Kevin to the Final Four tournament … thing … so he wouldn't have to have this conversation. "I've watched the chess tournaments, though."
"But you'll come with me, right?" Kevin asked, his eyes wide and innocent. "I promise I'll even buy you a hot dog there and after we'll go for ice cream."
"Cheap date, aren't you?" Connor deadpanned, only because if he said anything else he'd agree to suffer for two of the longest hours of his life.
"Then I'll take you to dinner first," Kevin retorted. "Just come with me. I don't want to go alone. Please, Connor?"
Connor's heart skipped a few beats at the implication of a date. But maybe Kevin just really wanted to go to the game that badly.
It wasn't a date. It just couldn't be.
"Fine," the redhead sighed, shaking his head. Kevin grinned and hugged him for just a moment. Really, if this heart-skipping thing kept up, Connor wouldn't live to see the not-a-date game.
"You're the best, Con! I promise you we'll have fun!" With that, Kevin raced off, waving a goodbye and yelling that he'd call later to work out details.
Connor rolled his eyes. Sometimes, like today, Kevin was like a child, running around all wide-eyes and big smiles. Tomorrow, he'd probably be a moody witch. He'd throw fits over stupid things, or snap at Connor, or just be in a generally bad mood and …
And Connor would still love him. He really did let Kevin get away with his attitude too much. Besides, spending all his time with the boy was just as bad an idea as he'd thought it would be. His roommates were beginning to tease him about his boyfriend, and all Connor could do was point out that it went against doctrine. He couldn't deny his feelings, but he didn't want to lie to his friends.
But through it all, he and Kevin had never actually spoken about that. They saw each other nearly every weekend, and called or texted each other daily. Kevin had never blown him off for a date, and sometimes it seemed like he went out of his way for Connor. Like the time Connor had a mild panic attack over a paper he'd forgotten to do—Kevin had rushed over and spent half the night helping Connor put together something. He'd pulled a B on that paper, and spent the night in his very own spooky Hell dream for it. Or there was the time Kevin begged Connor to go dancing with him. His excuse was that Connor was a far better dancer and he needed a teacher. So Connor had taught Kevin to waltz and foxtrot, both of them laughing at Kevin's two left feet while Connor tried not to blush at being in the boy's arms for so long, so close to that blinding smile.
He wanted to kiss Kevin. He wanted to do more than just kiss Kevin.
He couldn't tell Kevin he wanted that.
Connor was right; the basketball tournament was the longest two hours of his life. But Kevin was happy, so he couldn't really complain that much.
Didn't mean he wasn't wishing for a book to read, though. Or a wet paint sign so he could watch the paint dry instead.
"Did you see that shot?" Kevin said, sliding his arm around Connor's shoulders and squeezing. Connor looked up, cheeks red.
"N-no," he said weakly. Kevin hadn't moved his arm. Connor couldn't believe it. "What happened?"
Kevin explained the shot, and Connor tried to pay attention, but between his apathy for basketball and his elation from Kevin's touch, it was a lost cause. He thought he'd nodded at the right times, but Kevin was paying attention to the game again, so Connor's confusion didn't seem to register with the boy.
That was fine. That meant this was a real date! Right? Normal friends didn't put their arms around each other's shoulders like that, did they?
Connor really wished he had more friends he could ask. This wasn't something he could ask of Bryce or Joyellen or anyone else he knew. Then they'd know his secret.
Kevin squeezed him a little then, and Connor squeaked, cautiously leaning a little closer while the other boy was watching the action on the court.
He'd let himself pretend for a few minutes. If Kevin asked, he'd claim boredom and fake a yawn.
But Kevin never questioned him, and never moved his arm. Connor didn't mind. He thought maybe he should; he was only being honest with himself—not the rest of BYU Idaho's student body. He couldn't bring himself to, though. Kevin was warm and comfortable and so sure of himself, and until a few months ago, he'd never have believed the boy was so touchy-feely. He always seemed to be hugging Connor, or taking his hand to lead him somewhere, or poking him to get his attention.
After the game, Kevin stayed close to Connor on the way out of the gym. "Still up for ice cream?" he asked, and Connor nodded.
Anything to spend a few more minutes with his best friend.
"I can't, Connor," Kevin said angrily. "God, why do you always need me right there with you? You're a damned grown man! People are going to get ideas about us."
"Oh," Connor replied weakly, glad this conversation was taking place over the phone. He was going to burst into tears. "Okay." He'd just wanted to invite Kevin to go see the theatre department's performance of West Side Story. Clearly that wasn't in Kevin's plans. Connor knew Kevin didn't mean what he was saying; he did this a lot, but it still hurt to be told off like that by his best friend. "I'll, uh … see you around, I guess." Kevin would call him back in a few days and apologize, just like always.
"Sure, whatever," Kevin had replied before hanging up.
How could Connor have ever thought Kevin liked him? You didn't treat someone you liked that poorly—you didn't treat your friends that poorly! Maybe Kevin had just been hanging out with him out of some weird sense of camaraderie from their mission days, or maybe it was all just a joke.
Whatever it was, Connor hated it just as much this time as he had every other time Kevin pulled this. His heart couldn't take this roller coaster.
And—and he was going to tell Kevin that, too! He was going to tell him that he didn't deserve Kevin's snippy attitude, and that he could just flip off if he thought Connor would put up with it! He'd text it to the boy and then ignore his replies, too, so it would get his point across. Maybe Kevin would realize that Connor was a real person, not a toy to be tossed aside over a temper tantrum.
So he did. He sent a long text message littered with more "fetch," "crap," and "scrud" than Connor had ever used before in his life. He even finished with "… so go to heck!" Then he turned his phone to silent and went to watch TV. He deserved better treatment than that, and darned if he was going to put up with it anymore.
Three hours later there was a knock on the door. Connor ignored it, but Bryce answered anyway. "Con? Kevin's here," he said, and Kevin peeked his head around the door to smile weakly at Connor.
"Tell him I'm not interested," Connor replied coldly, though he really wanted to invite Kevin in, maybe talk over tea or dinner. But it was the principle of the thing, and Kevin needed to be taught a lesson!
"I'm letting him in anyway," Bryce said, "and I've gotta go. Try not to kill each other—I hear blood's a pain in the neck to get out of carpet."
Connor hmphed and stared at the TV even as Kevin sat down beside him, just watching him watching TV.
"I'm sorry," Kevin said finally. "I don't mean to be an ass."
"But you are," Connor replied. He wouldn't look at the other boy. If he did, he'd lose all resolve to teach Kevin a lesson. "I thought we were friends. Heck, best friends. You can't treat me like crap and expect me to just go along with it."
"I know, Con. And we are friends. I just … freaked out."
"You have that problem a lot."
"You're not giving me anything to work with here, Con. I'm trying to apologize!"
Connor scoffed. "You're not doing a very good job. All I'm hearing is 'me, me, me.' And I'm sick of it. I'm tired of you dragging me around only when you feel like it."
Kevin cleared his throat. "That's fair," he conceded. "I'm not known for really caring about anyone else."
"So are you gonna stop?"
"I'll … try." Connor looked over at Kevin.
"Will you try talking to me instead of making me feel like poop?" Kevin nodded. "Why not start with telling me why you left the church. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what made you doubt Heavenly Father, and all I've got is that some weird Ugandan bug scrambled your brains."
Kevin cracked a bitter smile at that. "Hardly. Uganda was probably the worst time of my life. Seeing a guy get his brains blown out in front of me, having the Book of Mormon shoved up my—" He broke off, clearing his throat. "Was God really that desperate to punish me for my pride?"
"Maybe He was just testing you." Connor hated to see his friend hurting at the memories, but he had to admit, part of him was dancing because Kevin was finally opening up to him.
"Then I obviously failed," Kevin said, "and I'm out of the church anyway, so … it doesn't matter. I can drink coffee and say 'fuck' all I want to and I never have to wear garments again. So it's not all bad."
Connor shrugged, carefully sliding a little closer to Kevin, a hand on the boy's arm. "I'm sorry." It was all he knew to say. "Can—is there anything I can do?"
"Not really," Kevin said. "Sometimes I just … get pissed off at myself. You're just like I remember you: happy and optimistic and going places. I never did get the hang of that once I realized that I wasn't going to change the world the way I wanted to. And then I blame you for things that I know aren't your fault, but … it's easier than blaming myself."
"You still can change the world," Connor insisted. "Social work, right? You can save the world that way."
Kevin shrugged, putting his free hand over Connor's and squeezing. "Maybe. But I am sorry."
Connor beamed, glad to have finally gotten those words out of Kevin. Lord only knew if he'd ever hear them again, after all. But he would treasure this time. "Apology accepted."
After that, they just sat there watching TV, a mostly comfortable silence between them.
Connor didn't know what to think anymore.
"You're on time, great!" Kevin said as he pulled the door open and beamed at Connor, who suddenly felt a bit underdressed in his worn out clothes. Kevin looked ready to go out on a date. "Dinner's almost ready."
Connor let Kevin tug him inside, and he looked around in surprise. "You cleaned the place up?" There were no shoes strewn about, no dirty plates on the coffee table, and the place didn't smell like a locker room, thankfully.
"Yeah, I made the guys help me out," Kevin said, heading for the kitchen to check on the meal.
"Where are they?"
"Out for the night."
Connor flushed. That meant he and Kevin were alone. Oh, they'd been alone often, true, but it felt … different this time. Maybe because Kevin had never cooked for him before. And they'd never had dinner with candles on the table, either. Or wearing such nice things.
"You don't mind, right?" Kevin went on, and Connor headed for the kitchen, leaning against the doorframe.
"N-no," he stammered shyly. "I just usually expect a lot more noise around here." That's why Kevin came over to his place to study for tests all the time.
"I just wanted to … to let you know how much I appreciate you putting up with me," Kevin said softly as he plated dinner. Connor raised an eyebrow.
"Is that cottage pie?" he asked, and Kevin nodded.
"My mom made me and Jack learn one fancy recipe. She told us someday we'd want to impress someone, and knowing how to cook would do it," he explained. "Aside from the easy stuff she taught us for our missions, this is pretty much all I can cook, though."
"If it tastes as good as it smells you'll impress any girl you cook it for," Connor said honestly. He thought he heard Kevin sigh, but his friend was still smiling as he lit the candles on the table.
"This is the first time I've made it for not-family," Kevin admitted, hurrying around the table to pull Connor's chair out for him. Connor flushed but didn't complain. Kevin was acting like a real boyfriend.
"I'm honored," Connor said, and he was. This was a significant improvement over Kevin's attitude attacks, and when he took his first bite of cottage pie, he nearly moaned. It was perfect.
"Tell your mom you impress," he told Kevin. He wasn't just talking about the food, but he couldn't tell his friend that.
Connor couldn't believe it.
He'd gotten a callback. Sure, it was in New York, but he was graduating in a few weeks anyway, so taking a day trip to do the audition wouldn't hurt him at this point.
He picked up the phone. He had to tell Kevin the good news.
"I got a callback!"
Connor laughed. "I got a callback. For New York, Kev! I've got an audition next Saturday for Orphans!"
"Con—congrats, Connor," Kevin said, but Connor thought his enthusiasm sounded a bit hollow.
"Are you okay, Kevin?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm just a little shocked—not that you don't deserve it; you're great, but—I'll miss you, if you get the part."
"It's not like we'll never see each other again, Kevin. Plane tickets aren't that expensive."
"So would you like some company for your audition, then?" Kevin asked suddenly, and Connor couldn't help smiling at the phone.
"Why Kevin Price, I'd love it if you'd join me for a weekend in New York."
"I'll take care of booking everything. You just find out when your audition is," Kevin said, and Connor could hear him typing in the background. "We'll leave here Friday morning, come back Sunday afternoon."
"Sounds good. Audition's Saturday at 2.30, so we'll have time."
"Great! I'll call you later with all the details, Con! And congrats again, really. I'm proud of you."
Connor knew he was telling the truth; Kevin only used that soft, warm tone when he really meant something.
New York was wonderful and terrible. After graduation, Connor had moved there for the show, and he loved being on stage. He loved the hustle and bustle of the city. He'd been living in a decent apartment not far from the theatre for three months now, just him and a goldfish he got so the place didn't seem so empty.
He hated being alone.
Sure, he had a few friends from the show, but it wasn't the same at back at school or home, where he didn't have to decline going out to get drunk as a skunk after every show.
But when he'd finished his second performance of the day and left backstage, walking past the fans and trying not to look ready to crash into bed, he spotted a familiar face in the crowd, and he honestly smiled.
"Kevin!" he said, hugging the man tight, the rest of the crowd forgotten.
"Surprise," Kevin replied, smiling slightly. "You're doing well, Con. You outshone everyone else on that stage."
Connor snorted. "Don't tell Alex that," he murmured, referring to the man who played Treat to his Phillip.
"Got time for dinner?" Kevin asked. "I'm sure you're tired …"
"I think I can manage to stay awake to catch up with you," Connor replied, and Kevin took his hand to lead him away from the theatre. "There's a great Mexican place just around the corner."
Kevin grinned. "Sounds good. My treat."
Connor held his head high as they strolled down the busy sidewalks, his hand in Kevin's. Here, it didn't matter that they were both men. They might not be in a relationship, but Connor didn't have to hide it.
"How come you never date?" Kevin asked suddenly, and Connor ducked his head. They were in public, for cripe's sake! Sure, the restaurant was pretty much empty except for them and the staff, but how did he answer that?
"Why don't you?" Connor countered carefully.
"Because the person I like doesn't like me," Kevin answered honestly.
Connor faked a gasp. "You mean Kevin Price isn't so perfect that girls fall at his feet? Impossible!" Kevin snorted and threw a tortilla chip at Connor.
"Jerk. But no, nobody's falling at my feet these days, no matter how many hints I drop. And this isn't about me, anyway. You're supposed to be married and have a dozen babies by now, not single without prospects."
"Supposed to be. Doubt it'll happen that way," Connor conceded. "Can we not talk about this here?"
"Your place?" Kevin asked, and Connor nodded, both of them standing and throwing the remains of lunch in the trash before walking back to Connor's apartment. Once there, Connor sat down, looking at his hands until Kevin prompted him: "Tell me?"
"I … don't turn it off anymore," Connor admitted softly. "I couldn't lie to myself anymore."
"What's so good about that?" Connor had never seen homosexuality as good; it wasn't what he was raised to believe, and his family would be so disappointed, and Heavenly Father would stop those Hell dreams if there was any good to come of liking men, wouldn't He?
"It means you're not hurting yourself anymore, for one," Kevin said, and Connor smiled tightly. That much was … mostly true. "You think we didn't see how much you were hurting in Uganda? Church and I, we talked about you a lot, and your Hell dreams." Connor flushed. "You shouldn't have had it every night, Con. That's not healthy."
"I didn't have a choice."
"You always have a choice," Kevin said softly. "I made one. You can make one, too. You could leave the church."
"Without the church, what do I have?" Connor asked. "Here, I have friends, a purpose, family. If I leave, where will I go? I'd be alone."
Kevin shook his head. "You've got me. I don't know how else to prove that to you."
Connor looked up, almost scared. Was Kevin saying what he thought he was saying? No, he couldn't be. Kevin Price couldn't be admitting feelings for Connor McKinley. It couldn't be that easy.
"How … how do I have you?" Connor asked.
"Let's just say I never had to turn anything off until I met you in Uganda, and you know I wasn't very good at that anyway," Kevin murmured, smiling wryly.
"So all these months we could have been kissing?" Connor blurted out, and Kevin laughed when Connor turned bright red.
"I was hoping you felt the same, but you're still LDS. I didn't want to bring it up first," the brunette admitted. "If you still thought it was wrong, then I'd have just lost you for good, and I figured friendship was better than nothing. But I've been trying to get more out of us for months, but you're quite possibly more oblivious than I gave you credit for."
Connor smiled shyly. "It's not wrong," he admitted. And if it was, he'd find a way to make it okay. This was Kevin, putting his heart on the line, and it was like something out of a romantic movie. Connor wouldn't have denied him even if he'd wanted to.
Kevin squeezed Connor's hand tight.
Maybe this was Heavenly Father's way of telling him it was okay.