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Quests and Questions

“Hi Zach,” Devin said, nervously stepping forward. There was an awkward silence as they all surveyed one another.

“What are you doing here?” Zach asked tentatively, shooting a confused glance to Nova.

It was then that Devin noticed her, standing off to the side and his heart fell at the sight of his crush with someone else. The thought of Nova getting everything he’d wanted, everything he’d worked for wasn’t fair. Nothing was fair.

“Devin?” Nova prodded.

“Right, sorry,” he cleared his throat, turning away from this girl he’d begun to despise. He would just have to pretend she wasn’t there. “I have a question.”

“Why didn’t you just send a text?” Nova asked, suspiciously.

“I needed to see you,” he said quietly, staring straight at Zach. There was something desperate about the boy, something about the dark circles under his eyes. The edges in his face were dulled, his blue eyes empty, all the things that made him attractive were lost underneath a weary gaze and gaunt cheekbones.

Nova only knew Devin as the shy boy who sat behind her in homeroom, never really paying attention or talking to others. She had never seen him hanging out with Zach before, and they seemed to run with completely different crowds. His current presence in Zach’s house unsettled her.

“Okay, come in,” Zach stepped back and Devin caught Nova’s eye quickly before walking inside, his hands stuffed inside of his jacket pockets. Zach gestured to the table, inviting him to sit beside their discarded chips. Nova lingered by the doorway as Zach offered the boy a drink.

“Is everything okay? You look sick,” Nova pointed out, sharing yet another private look with Zach. Devin followed the movement and stiffened, unnerved by the sort of silent conversation between the two, and turned to fully address Nova for the first time.

“I’m fine. This is just important and it’s not really your business.”

Nova straightened, approaching the table. “What?”

Devin’s cheeks burned but he continued on. “I meant that it’s about Zach and his family so I don’t want to share something he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing with you.”

“I didn’t know that you two were so close,” she added curiously, not entirely keeping the edge out of her voice.

Zach shifted towards Nova, bumping his shoulder against hers. “We’re not, and don’t worry Devin, I trust her.”

“I don’t think you want her involved in this,” Devin said standing up, urgency in his tone. “It’s about your dad.”

Zach blanched. “What about my dad?”

Before Devin could respond, Nova cut in, instantly understanding. “Don’t worry about it Zach. I can leave if you don’t want me here,” she said, taking a step back towards the door. She understood how sensitive of a subject it was, and just because he’d shown her a picture of him in some pink overalls didn’t mean she should be a part of this conversation.