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Colors Seeping In

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“Alright, boys!” Connor McKinley said cheerfully, as he emerged from his and Poptart’s room, clapping his hands. “The new missionaries should be here any moment, and we certainly need to be ready.”

Elder Neeley grinned from where he sat on the couch. “Finally! We’ve been waiting all day!”

Elder Church nodded, he was sitting next to Neeley. “Also, are we gonna show them the new tap dance routine we’ve been working on?”

Connor frowned. “Should we? It might need some more work, maybe we should just stick to some of the old routines.”

Elder Michaels spoke up. “I think we’ve practised the new one enough! We can workshop it with them.”

Connor laughed softly at everyone’s enthusiasm and held up his hands. “Okay, we’ll do the new one.”

Poptarts pushed open the door of his and Connor’s room, frowning. “Hey, Connor! I told you to wait up while I threw away my poptart.” He walked up to Connor, and playfully jabbed him in the side. Connor flinched but smiled sheepishly at him. “Sorry, I was just so excited about the new recruits!” He apologized.

Poptarts laughed and sat on the couch right next to Church.

“So, the two new recruits are called Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, right?” Asked Elder Davis, from where he was standing.

Connor nodded and strode over to the chalkboard on the wall with the names of all the pairs and elders.“Yes, and it’s right here if anyone needs a reminder.” He scanned over the names, to make sure everything was correct and in place.

He clicked his tongue as he scanned the room. “Elder Neeley, where is Elder Schrader?”

Elder Neeley sat up. “Oh, right, he went to the bathroom.”

Elder Church frowned. “Hopefully he doesn’t miss the new recruits!”

The door to the mission hut was pushed open, and Connor heard both Elders shuffle into the hut. “Hello?” One of them asked.

Connor turned towards the Elders sitting on the couch. “The new recruits are here!” He cheered, then strode over to Elder Cunningham and Elder Price. He met the taller one’s eyes, and- oh. He stopped mid-step, and his eyes widened as his world was suddenly washed with color. Connor gaped as he stared around the room, amazed and shocked at this new world that had been revealed to him. Instead of dreary old greys that were all he had ever known, vibrant hues surrounded him, overtaking his senses.

“Elder McKinley? Elder McKinley, are you all right?”

Connor snapped back to attention at Poptart’s voice. “Oh! Right! Sorry,” he said with a small embarrassed smile, but his smile faded as he stared at the man who must be his soulmate, and who he assumed was Elder Price. No. No. Of all people, his soulmate had to be Elder Price . The perfect Mormon poster boy. And it was painful as Connor realized that his soulmate wasn’t even a girl, and that Heavenly Father had definitely made a mistake with him, if that was even possible. He had to push aside those thoughts for now, though, as he still had to introduce and welcome Elder Cunningham and Elder Price.  

He closed the distance between himself and the new pair of Elders with a few steps, then stuck out his hand. “Welcome!” He said with a forced smile. “I’m Elder McKinley, the district leader for this part of the Uganda mission.” He scanned the taller man's face, for any sign of shock to show that Elder Price had also gotten his colored vision. However, there was nothing.

Instead, he just smiled and shook Connor’s hand. “Great to meet you.”

Elder Church was by their side a moment later. “My name is Elder Church. Originally from the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming!”

“Elder Michaels, from Provo,” Michaels said as he also walked over and shook hands with the two new recruits.

“Are you alright?” Poptarts whispered into Connor's ear. Connor jumped, he hadn’t even realized that Poptarts had even left the couch. “Yeah,” he whispered back, casting a reassuring smile towards him. Poptarts nodded, satisfied with his response, then went to introduce himself. “Elder Thomas! But the Elders here all call me Elder Poptarts because I love them so much!”

Connor pointed at two of the unintroduced elders. “And that’s Elder Neeley and Elder Davis.”

Elder Price laughed. “Wow, that’s a lot to remember!”

Connor nodded, amused by Elder Price’s statement. There was a reason the Elders wore nametags.

Connor told Elder Price and Elder Cunningham to sit down, and he ran through everything he usually said with new recruits. He also got the same responses from them, just as expected, especially with the ‘zero baptisms’ thing.

Elder Price reacted pretty badly to that part, actually. His body language showed clear signs of frustration, to the point where his partner leaned over to talk to him about it. “Hey, are you alright?” Cunningham asked, frowning.

Elder Price straightened up and partially regained his previous air of confidence. “Oh, it’s nothing, I’m just feeling a little confused, that’s all.”

‘Oh boy, do I relate,’   thought Connor, reflecting on how Elder Price hadn’t shown any reaction at all to colored sight. Surely he would’ve freaked out, he was such a ‘perfect’ Mormon boy, and Connor could only guess that he was intensely homophobic, and would cause a scene at finding out his soulmate was a boy. Connor reminded himself that this was not a time to angst over soulmates, and he had to take care of the new recruits, regardless if one was his same-gender soulmate. “Oh, confused?” He asked, pasting on a smile. Around him the other Elders also ‘oohed’ at this. “Well I know just the answer!”

He bobbed up and down on his feet as he started to explain. “I mean, that is perfectly fine Elder! There are a lot of thing in Uganda that aren’t… exactly wonderful. But when you feel feelings that you’d rather not feel, there’s a simple cure. Just turn those feeling off!”

Elder Price raised an eyebrow at the explanation for the cure. “Really?”

Church jumped up from where he was sitting. “Yeah!” He said, swinging his arm for emphasis. “We’ve all done it, it’s super easy! You feel better in no time, it makes for a much better life! Take me for example, my father abused my mother, but I just turned it off.”

Poptarts nodded in rapt agreement. “I missed the death of my sister due to cancer, and I felt pretty bad about it for awhile, especially considering that I could get cancer too, but I turned off those awful feelings and felt better too.”

Connor grinned at his fellow Elders, glad that they were throwing out their own experiences. He guessed that he should name an experience too, and also realized that this would be a good time to drop hints to Elder Price. “When I was in fifth grade, I actually had a crush on my friend Steve Blade. I had really weird dreams about us.” He shrugged, and searched Price’s face for a sign of something , but after realizing that he wasn’t going to give an indication of his thoughts, he added, “but I turned it off of course.”

Elder Price shrugged. “Well, I don’t think it’s bad that you’re having gay thoughts, as long as you don’t act upon them.”

Connor somehow kept his smile plastered on, even as his heart started to rip in two as he realized that his soulmate might be dropping hints that he didn’t want to have a relationship with Connor(even though it might’ve never happened anyways). At least he didn’t seem that homophobic, that was a plus... Connor thought of a way to distract himself from the current line of thought. “Actually, the other elders and I happen to have a tap dance routine that was inspired by the concept of turning it off, if you’d like to see it.”

The other elders cheered softly and even before Price or Cunningham had a chance to respond Connor was yelling, “Places, places, everyone!” The elders gathered in their formation and started their routine, and within moments Connor wasn’t thinking of any soulmate issues, and was fully into their dance. After a minute, the routine was over, and all the elders stood in their final positions for several seconds before breaking off in laughter and smiles.

Connor swiveled to face the two new elders again, glad to see that at least Cunningham seemed to be enjoying it (he was cheering and clapping), even though Price seemed rather confused from where he was standing. Connor sidled up next to him. “So how do you feel?” He asked, with a hopeful grin.

Elder Price shrugged. “The same.”

At this Connor let himself pout a little. “That’s a shame.”

“I guess,” Price responded, but he didn’t seem to care much.

"Do what I suggested," Connor said. "And just try to push down those feelings! Listen, imagine that your brain is made of tiny boxes, then find the box that's bad and crush it."

"Yeah, just turn off those gay feelings!" One of the other Elders cheered.

Price just frowned and said, “I’m not gay,” but Elder Cunningham cheered, “Alright, it worked!” and the other Elders cheered along.

Elder Price shifted awkwardly, unsure how to react to being called gay, so Connor cut into the conversation with “I’m sure the new recruits are tired. I’ll take them to their rooms.”

That stopped the conversation like Connor had hoped. He also added, “Our routine was great today, keep up the good work!” To give another conversation topic, then he grabbed Price’s hand, as Cunningham followed behind, and led him to Price and Cunningham’s room.

“This is it!” He said cheerfully as he opened the door for them. “Home sweet home, room sweet room. The best you’re gonna get for another 2 years, unless miraculously we get more funding.”

Cunningham grinned. “Oh, this is going to be so fun! Isn’t it, best friend?” He beamed at Price, who was just slowly shaking his head. “Yeah. Sure.” Price responded.

“Well, I’ll just leave you to it,” Connor said, and he shut the door behind him, and immediately slumped down. There was no one around to see him turn into a nervous wreck, which was what he was going to be this entire mission if Price showed no sign of colored vision.


Kevin woke up to his alarm that he had set for 6:15 am(15 minutes before normal wake-up, just to show everyone how serious he was about the mission), and within 10 minutes he had somehow been able to wake up his mission companion, the over-enthusiastic Elder Cunningham who could probably sleep through a rock concert (not that Kevin really knew what rock concerts sounded like, he was basing this theory off just what he had heard about such concerts), and had also gotten dressed. He prayed and did his exercises and was down in the living area 10 minutes before breakfast.

His district leader, who had been acting so strange yesterday, was there too, and when Kevin greeted him he yelped, seeming to not have noticed him since they were reading a book.

Kevin stared at him with a raised eyebrow at his reaction, and Elder McKinley cleared his throat. “Sorry Elder, you startled me, that’s all.” He smiled at Kevin.

Kevin sat next to him.  “So, who usually makes breakfast?”

“Usually we rotate, today is Poptart’s turn.”

Kevin looked towards the kitchen and was surprised to see Elder Thomas (Elder Poptarts? He wasn’t sure if it was proper to call him by his nickname) in the kitchen, he hadn’t noticed him before. He waved at Kevin, then went back to stirring a pot of… something.

Kevin waved back before turning back to talk to McKinley. “How long have you been on your mission?” He asked, trying to break the ice with his District Leader.

“I’ve been on my mission for 3 months,” McKinley said, setting his book down. “It certainly has been… Interesting.”

Kevin looked around, thinking once again about how unfortunate he was to have been sent to Uganda. “Yeah,” He responded with a frown. “It has.”

“You warm up to it a bit.”

Kevin glanced back at McKinley. “What?”

“Uganda. You warm up to it. I know it seems like you never will, but you come to like it. It’s a different lifestyle, which opens you to be ready for other experiences,” McKinley explained.

Kevin nodded slowly, thinking that over. “Huh.”

“Also,” Elder McKinley added, “Why would Heavenly Father bring you here if he didn’t have a plan.”

A smile started to form on Kevin’s lips. Of course Heavenly Father had a plan for him, why wouldn’t he? And Kevin was sure that that plan would take him to Orlando.

“Breakfast is ready!” Elder Thomas called, bringing Kevin out of his fantasy of Orlando. He looked around and realized that other Elders started to trickle into the room during his conversation with McKinley, and they all went and sat at the dining table.

Elder Thomas passed around bowls of some sort of rice dish, and they started to dig in. Kevin zoned out for most of the breakfast conversation, other than when Elder Cunningham would eagerly try to get him to participate.

Kevin picked up his plastic glass of water, then froze as he lifted it to his lips. Something was wrong with his vision. He rubbed his eyes, then looked back. While the world was still mostly just it’s dreary black-and-white that was all he ever new, there was something about his cup that he could only describe as…

No, it couldn’t be color, he thought to himself. Who could have been his soulmate? He’d heard stories of people meeting the love of their lives and the world instantly lighting up in beautiful hues known as ‘color’.

This couldn’t be it.

The world still looked almost exactly like it had before. Other than a faint trace of what Kevin guessed was color.

He set down the cup, and tried not to think about it for the rest of the meal, but he couldn’t help it. Just another thing that had gone wrong already. He could sort of see color, but in a weird unordinary way, and he wasn’t sure who his soulmate even was.

Kevin finished his breakfast and impatiently waited for the others to finish as well, eager to study and go out to talk to the villagers. He also wanted to talk to Cunningham about this, because he was the person he knew best and could trust most. He tapped his finger on the table absentmindedly, and when the other elders said they were finished he leaped out of his seat, took his dish to the sink, and returned back to his room alongside Cunningham.

Cunningham was enthusiastically chattering to Kevin, something about Star Wars and how he would love to have a marathon of the movies with him one day, but Kevin was mostly tuning him out till he got to their shared bedroom.

When he closed the door behind them, he immediately shushed Cunningham. “Elder, I need to tell you something.”

Cunningham stared back at him. “Tell me something?”

Kevin nodded slowly, than hesitantly added, “I need your advice on something.”

Cunningham gasped loudly, his eyes widening. “You need my advice??”

Kevin nodded rapidly. “Yeah, something strange happened at breakfast. I was picking up my cup and I… I… I saw color.”

Cunningham gaped. “You saw color ?” He said loudly, and Kevin shushed him again, not wanting the other Elders to hear.

“Yeah, yeah,” he whispered to his mission companion. “But it was weird. I mean, it is weird. It doesn’t feel that different, and I only barely noticed. Is… Is that what happened to you?”

Elder Cunningham shook his head. “It was the most amazing thing, it’s so different and vibrant!”

That felt like a punch to the gut for Kevin, feeling like there was something wrong with him and his vision, that Elder Cunningham was having an easier time with his soulmate than him, Kevin Price, perfect Mormon boy extraordinaire! Then again, Cunningham only noticed color half an hour after it happened, so maybe it wasn’t as extreme as he led others to believe...

“Wait, who’s your soulmate? Is it a girl from our old church? Someone from school? A villager?” Cunningham let out a loud gasp, “ Another Elder?

Kevin shook his head instantly. “No, no, it’s probably just someone from church or school, it’s not an Elder, I’m not gay.”

Cunningham blinked. “Oh, okay. Who do you think it is? Do you think you’ll see them again? Did you meet them right before starting our mission?” He chattered, rapidly asking question after question.

To be honest, Kevin wasn’t exactly sure, and his gut turned as he thought about the possibility of never knowing who his soulmate was. No, he just had to trust in Heavenly Father, right? He’d take care of him and lead him to a full and successful life with a good wife, several amazing children, and a high position in a church in Orlando.

“I’m not exactly sure,” he admitted, and Cunningham drooped a bit, before perking up once again.

“Well, you’ll just have to pray to Heavenly Father, right? He’ll listen to what you ask and give you what you want!”

Kevin smiled a bit, comforted by the confidence in Cunningham’s voice when he told him that Heavenly Father would gladly give him what he wanted.

“Well, we should probably head out to start speaking to the villagers soon, right? Let’s start our studies so we can get to that.”

Elder Cunningham nodded excitedly. “Yeah! Let’s go get some baptisms!”

Kevin plopped down on his bed and patted the spot next to him, indicating where Elder Cunningham could sit. He sat down next to him, and they started their studies.

Chapter Text

Connor put down the phone, his eyes wide, and immediately strode into the main living area, waving his hands around. “Oh, em, gosh you guys! I’m freaking out!” He said, feeling as panicked as he sounded.

Neeley looked up from where he was talking with several other Elders. “What is it?” He asked.

Connor pressed his hand against his forehead and ran it up through his hair. “I just got of the phone with the Zone Leader. The Mission President wants a written progress report from us by Monday!”

Elder Michaels covered his mouth with his hand. “But we don’t have any baptisms!”

“Exactly!” Connor said, gesturing with his hands as emphasis. “What are we gonna do?”

Church stood up and walked next to Connor. “I mean, we could say that we had some baptisms!” He chuckled nervously.

Connor stared at him. “What, you mean lie?

The Elders gasped, and Schrader stood up. “Are you an idiot, Elder Church? Mormons don’t lie! That gets you sent to hell!”

“I’ve even dreamed I went to hell once after I told a lie!” Neeley bit his lip after he said this, and added. “It was really spooky.”

Poptarts gasped. “I’ve dreamed that I went to hell once too!”

“What did you do?” Neeley asked.

Poptarts reddened a bit, and Connor almost felt sorry for him, he already knew the story. “I- uh- I accidentally read a playboy.”

Other Elders were suddenly clamoring as they shared stories where they, too, had had a Hell Dream, and within seconds Connor was tired of it.

“Listen, we’ve all had the Hell Dream!” He shouted, then paused as they quieted down. “In fact, I have one nightly.”

He bit his lip as he thought about the hell dream he’d had just last night. He could see in color now, and the Hell Dreams were even more terrifying and overwhelming now that he could see the vibrant and fiery shades of red and orange that had always seemed normal before, but now where all he could see or feel during the dreams. And, now the person in his dreams had a name and a face. It was none other than his soulmate, Kevin Price, who pinned him against the wall and whispered things in Connor’s ear that made him blush even now as he thought about them.

He came back down to Earth and cleared his throat. “Anyways, what are we gonna do about the problem with the progress report?”

However, before anyone could respond the door swung open and Elder Price stormed into the room, covered in some dark red substance that could only be… Connor’s eyes widened, shocked by how bold and dangerous-looking the blood was, becoming so much more vivid now that Connor could actually see it, especially when it was contrasted against Price’s bright white shirt.

“Elder Price, what happened to you?” Elder Church asked, voicing the concerned thoughts of all the Elders.

Kevin stared at them, his eyes still wide and shocked, every muscle in his body seeming tense. “Africa is nothing like the Lion King,” he declared, his chest heaving as he shook slightly. “In fact, that movie took a lot of artistic license.”

Elder Cunningham had ran through the door next to him, his eyes also wide as he glanced between his mission companion and the other Elders. “He’s upset because we just saw some guy get shot in the face,” he explained, though that didn’t help calm the nerves of the others.

The Elders started talking quietly amongst themselves, voicing thoughts of concern, meanwhile Connor just stared at Elder Price. That was his soulmate right there, whether either of them liked it, and said soulmate was traumatized and covered with blood. “Wh-wh- what ?” He managed to get out, his voice unsteady.

“I can’t continue my mission this way!” Price shouted, and Connor’s stomach flipped. “There’s nothing I can do here!”

Connor strode over to him. “Elder Price, you cannot lose your cool on me right now,” he said, doing what he always did whenever he was scared or unsure, reverting back to District Leader Connor McKinley. “We’re about to be evaluated by the Mission President.

Elder Price stared at him, then grabbed Connor’s shoulder and cheek. “The Mission President?” He echoed back, staring blankly at him.

Connor felt like his breathing was restricted, he was fully aware how close he was to Elder Price and how intimate their position was in. He took a half step forward, partially unsure why, and maybe it was just instinct that caused him to do this, but he leaned forward a bit and his eyelids fluttered.

“I have to speak to the Mission President!” Elder Price shouted, a smile crossing his face as he turned away and let go of Connor, leaving the redhead to stumble a bit as he fell forward slightly. “I’ll get him to transfer me!”

All the Elders in the room were shifting uncomfortably and looking around at each other, unsure how to react, and Connor could only feel his heart breaking as he realized that his soulmate wanted to leave him. He had tried telling himself that it wouldn’t matter anyways, it could never work out, but watching him try to leave was painful(though he tried telling himself that it was because he felt like he was failing as a district leader, which he was).

Elder Cunningham grabbed onto Price’s arm, stopping him from leaving. “Best friend! Wait!”

Price spun around and looked at Cunningham frowning.

“Don’t forget, tomorrow is a latter day!” He said with a fake cheer, but Elder Price just frowned, even as the other Elders (Connor included) agreed and nodded, mostly just trying to subdue the tension that was hanging thick in the room.

“Don’t you get it?” Elder Price exclaimed, his face twisted. “‘Latter Day’ doesn’t mean tomorrow! It means the day of reckoning! When good people go to heaven and get all the could ever want!” He slumped slightly before turning to try and run off again, but Connor rushed and firmly planted himself in front of the doorway, both hands held out in front of him, signalling him to stop.

“Are you forgetting rule number 23?” He asked sternly, straightening up. “No one is allowed to leave the living quarters after 9 pm.” He placed his hands on his hips.’

“To heck with rules,” Elder Price growled, and every Elder in the room recoiled at the shocking statement, and Elder Price pushed McKinley out of the way and left the hut. Cunningham also tried to get past, but McKinley stopped him too.

“Are you also going to break rule 23?”

Cunningham looked past him, as if trying to see where Price was. “He’s my best friend, I have to stay with him,” he said, looking at McKinley almost apologetically, before also pushing past him and calling after his mission companion.

McKinley watched, in shock, unsure what was making him feel so torn apart; the fact that he, a district leader, had just let two of the Elders, who were under his care, break the same rule at the same time, or whether it was because he had just let his soulmate run away, a soulmate who might never come back.

 


Kevin stood in the middle of a swarm of things, looking around panickedly, trying to escape. All around him, demons jeered and yelled, and Kevin covered his ears, bending over, tears filling his eyes. Everything was slightly tinted, and even that was too much color for him to bear.

“You left your companion!” One screeched, tossing a donut at him. He flinched as the bread treat hit his side.

Someone behind him doused him in coffee, and he screamed, doubling over.

And then, someone walked in front of him, and rested their hand under his chin and pushed his chin up, forcing Kevin to look at him. It was his District Leader, Elder McKinley, and Kevin straightened up on instinct. McKinley was wearing something around his neck and twisted around his arms, something feathery. A boa?

“You broke rule 23,” McKinley scolded. “How are you going to go to Planet Orlando now?”

It suddenly became harder for Kevin to breathe, as he listened to what McKinley was saying.

McKinley laughed, and pressed a kiss to Kevin’s lips, much to his shock, and then pushed him back, and he was falling, falling, falling into darkness…

Kevin awoke with a start, and sat up. He was immediately greeted by Elders chattering away at him. “What, what happened?” He said, eyes wide, his vision still playing so vividly in his mind.

“It looks like you passed out,” Neeley said with a frown.

Kevin looked around, and realized that he was at a bus station.

“We were so worried,” Elder Church chirped, his eyes wide.

Kevin struggled to his feet and brushed the dust off his shirt and pants. “Sorry about my fit yesterday. I realized in my sleep that that was wrong, and I’m not leaving.” He looked around, smiling at the other Elders, but instead of them cheering for him, they just frowned.

“You had a hell dream, didn’t you?” Elder McKinley said, raising an eyebrow, and Kevin shrugged awkwardly, unsure what to say.

“Was I in it?” McKinley added quietly, and Kevin stared at him, then felt his cheeks heat up slightly as he recalled how exactly he’d been in the hell dream.

“Oh, hey guys!” Called a voice, one that Kevin recognized very well as his mission companion, Elder Cunningham.

They all glanced over to where the voice was coming from, and Kevin was surprised to see the bounce in Cunningham’s step and the grin he had on his face.

“Elder Cunningham, where have you been?” Elder Michaels asked as they all scurried towards Cunningham.

Cunningham shrugged. “Only with an entire village of Africans who are interested in the church!”

All the Elders, and even Kevin, gasped at this. All the Elders started chattering, the mood suddenly lifted.

Kevin grinned. “Elder Cunningham, that’s amazing!”

Cunningham saw him, and raised an eyebrow. “Oh. Elder Price. Hello. Are you getting transferred yet?”

Kevin shook his head. “No, I realized that was wrong, and I’m staying!” He said, then added, “And this is really great, this could turn things around. I was thinking maybe we could make some exercises, maybe prepare the verses to teach them.” He grinned at the others, but frowned when he realized that they were all just staring at him blankly.

Cunningham frowned. “Hold up, you left me, remember?”

“Hold on,” Neeley cut in. “We must always work in pairs, it’s one of the main rules.”

McKinley looked between the three, biting his lip, before a look crossed his face and he said, “Give Cunningham a break, if it works better this way we’ll… We’ll leave Elder Price out of it.”

Kevin gaped at him, shocked by his statement, he was Elder Price , they should be begging for his help. Not to mention, it was the District Leader’s role to make sure everyone was upholding the rules. He watched, in shock, as the others talked about their plans.

And then.

He heard McKinley say, “No one can change what a crazy war lord thinks, in fact, that would take something incredible.

And then, Kevin knew exactly what he had to do. He how to save his reputation, and above all, he understood why Heavenly Father had brought him to Uganda.

Chapter Text

Connor’s shoulders sagged as he opened the drawer of the cabinet he kept his uniforms in. He couldn’t believe how wrong everything had gone, how had he not known earlier what Cunningham had really been telling the Africans? There were so many thoughts running through his head as he tried to figure out how to save the mission, save his place in the church, save everyone who was involved.

Most of all, he felt guilty for getting the local’s hopes up, making them think that they were going to ‘Sal Ta Laka Siti’, even though they would likely never leave this village for more than a few days. He and the others had tried to help them, but it all blew up in their faces and Connor couldn’t feel worse about it.

And of course, Elder Price was nowhere to be found. Connor felt frustrated about everything now, especially his soulmate. A guy, who was supposedly ‘the star poster-boy Mormon’, who threw a fit and ran off, and then when they needed him most, was nowhere to be found.

Poptarts came through the door, hair wet and messy from the shower he had just taken. He sat on the bed next to Connor’s, frowning.

“So this is it huh? Our mission’s over.”

Connor nodded slowly. “Tell you the truth, I’m scared. And no matter how hard I try I can’t turn it off.” He wrung his hand as he shared. “I don’t know how my parents will react, and I don’t want to be thrown out of the church. It’s all I have.”

Poptarts nodded slowly. “I agree,” he said, grabbing the white button-up shirt sitting on his bed, and started to put it on.

Connor looked down at the floor. “And I was just starting to like it here,” he added.

Poptarts laughed while he buttoned his shirt. “I understand. The people here are actually pretty nice, despite their first impression.” He was, of course, referring to the phrase which they had been gleefully throwing around when they first arrived, the one Connor didn’t even dare think.

“Hey, can I tell you something?” Connor asked suddenly, wanting to tell someone about his soulmate, and all the problems that came with that, and he trusted Poptarts more than anyone else(not that he didn’t trust the other Elders).

“Yes?” Poptarts asked, looking intently at Connor, clearly curious.

Connor wasn’t sure if he could do this. What if Poptarts didn’t like who his soulmate was, what if he would hate him if Connor told him, and he found himself shaking his head. “Never mind.’ He said.

“You sure?” Poptarts asked with a raised eyebrow, and Connor nodded.

“Yeah,” he said, but his tone wasn’t convincing. He cleared his throat, then said, “So, are you excited to see your parents again?”

Poptarts nodded eagerly. “Yeah, it’s only been 3 months, but I miss them already. I worry about them, they worry about me, and they’ve been very important to me since my sister passed away…”

Connor sighed. “Yeah, I’d be excited to see them too. I miss home.” He looked over at Poptarts, and smiled a bit. “Well, no matter what, at least we’ll still be friends. Right?”

“Yeah,” Poptarts agreed. “We can’t exactly be mad at each other when we experienced the same thing.”

Connor smiled, and continued packing, but Poptarts and him didn’t speak much after that last conversation. He didn’t have much belongings, since it was mostly against the rules, so he was finished soon. He zipped up his luggage, then rolled it out into the main living area where some of the other Elders were waiting. They didn’t speak, just solemnly stared at the wall or sat in a corner or on a chair and read a book. The mood was somber.

Eventually it was time to make their way to the bus stop, so all the Elders picked up their bags and walked across the village to the stop, but they were stopped by a certain Elder Price and Cunningham when they were only halfway across town.

“Hey, where are you going?” Elder Price asked, a look of confusion, and for a moment McKinley was even angrier with him, because of course Price wouldn’t help them at all then turn around and act all surprised when they had to leave. He couldn’t believe that this man, out of all people, was his soulmate, and suddenly he felt completely helpless, he couldn’t do anything about all this.

“Didn’t you hear?” McKinley said, raising an eyebrow. “We’ve been shut down.”

“We have to go home,” Neeley said. “There’s nothing else we can do.”

Elder Price’s eyes grew wide for a moment, but then said something that surprised everyone. “Who says we have to?” He asked, a smile forming on his face.

“Excuse me,” Zelder cut in. “But what do you mean?”

“I mean,” Elder Price said, “We’ve worked so hard so we can be out here and help people, why give that up?”

Elder Church frowned. “The Mission President said that we’re all as far from Latter-Day Saints as we can get.”

“Yeah well…” Elder Price took a deep breath. “ Fuck him .”

All the Elders gasped and Connor staggered backwards. Elder Price, perfect poster boy Mormon, had just said that about the Mission President.

“We are all still Latter-Day Saints!” Price continued. “Even if we make some changes, break some rules, or have complete doubt that God exists…” He trailed off, then cleared his throat and continued. “We can all still work together and make this place our Paradise Planet!”

Elder Cunningham stared wide-eyed at Elder Price, clearly also hearing this for the first time and surprised by the change of heart. “You wanna stay here with me ?” He gasped, and Elder Price looked over at him, smiled, and nodded.

“Of course, I’d do anything for you,” Price said with a laugh, “You’re my best friend.”

And then, Elder Price did the weirdest thing- he started singing to Elder Cunningham.

The Elder watched in surprise, as he sang what Connor assumed was a lullaby. Well, wasn’t his soulmate more and more surprising. Connor found himself smiling, for some reason, especially as he listened to the lyrics of the song. It was something about tomorrow being a latter day, and it relieved Connor to see that Elder Price no longer seemed to have something against the  way Elder Cunningham used the phrase ‘tomorrow is a latter-day’.

Connor smiled.

Maybe there was still hope.


It had been 3 days since the Elders had decided to stay on their mission, and things were coming along fine. Elder Cunningham- oh right, he’d told Kevin just to call him Arnold, was telling the villagers more stories, Elder McKinley was hard at work trying to get permission from the church to continue their mission, if they couldn’t get that they would just be unofficial, and they’d have to find some other way to get funding.

And Kevin was just stuck in the mission hut just sorting through papers. He wished he could do something else, anything, but it seemed like the other Elders didn’t trust him enough to do anything else. Not that he could blame them, of course. He’d messed things up so badly, he hardly trusted himself.

Especially after last time he’d tried do something incredible and failed.

He swallowed, his breathing becoming more heavy and sharp as he started to remember the events of several days ago, but he diverted his mind to other things, any other things, so he wouldn’t have to think of that.

He started focusing on just sorting papers, his vision blurring and his mind numb. He didn’t even notice how much time was passing until McKinley popped his head into the room and called him to dinner.

Kevin forced a smile and thanked him for coming to get him, and finished sorting the last few papers before heading over to the table.

As he sat down the Elders were laughing and chatting, talking about their day, and this time Elder Price did smile. At least he was the only one seeming to be having that much trouble, and the others were starting to enjoy their mission. Of course, everyone still had fears and were troubled, but things we coming together.

Arnold talked eagerly about some sort of story he had created today. Kevin laughed as he listened to some of the more ridiculous parts of it, and even offered some suggestions for tomorrow’s lessons.

Tell you the truth, these meals were some of the best parts of Kevin’s days. Before he was always impatient during them, felt like he was wasting precious time, but now, he enjoyed them because he got to relax, eat, and spend time talking and communing with the others.

“So, how’s your paper sorting going?” Elder Schrader asked, and Kevin shrugged.

“Very… boring.”

The other Elders laughed, and he sent them all a death stare. “You’ll laugh until we set up a chore schedule and you’ll be stuck doing them all week too.”

They still giggled, but Elder Michaels looked over at Elder Church, who was currently making the chores schedule and developing how that would work. “So, how is that going?” He asked, and Church grimaced.

“It’s… Fine, just a bit boring, so sometimes I accidentally forget about it for a few hours while working on my other project.” Oh, right, he was also in charge of planning meals and taking care of food expenses, and he also served some of the villagers throughout the day if he had the chance. He worked with Elder Davis, and they both were surprisingly adept in the kitchen. Elder Poptarts was the ‘unwilling victim’ that they forced to test their food, but everyone knew that he secretly loved being the taste-tester, and who wouldn’t, if you got free samples of this food.

Elder McKinley, nodded sympathetically. “Yeah, those chore schedules are a pain in the butt, thanks for taking the responsibility from me. But you have to get it done soon, we want better order on this mission.”

The other Elders nodded in agreement. The mission hut had been very chaotic recently.

Soon, everyone was finishing their meals, which disappointed Kevin. The rice dish that Poptarts and Davis had made had been shockingly delicious, even though they were tight on resources.

Everyone was shortly dismissed from the table, but Kevin didn’t head back to his and Arnold’s shared room. He sat down on the sofa, and started reading a book. It was a novel adaption of Snow White, and anything related to Disney always instantly cheered Kevin up. He read for a while, immersed in this world, but was rudely interrupted by someone tapping on his shoulder. He sighed and tilted his head back and was surprised to see Elder McKinley standing behind him(though he didn’t know who else he could’ve expected).

Elder McKinley cleared his throat. “Uh, I wasn’t sure how long you were planning to stay out here, and wanted to check with you.”

“Oh.” Kevin turned his body to face the other man, so he could see him more comfortably. “Yeah, uh, I was hoping that I could stay out here for a while longer. I don’t really wanna bother Arnold with the light.”

Elder McKinley nodded sympathetically. “Yeah, okay, I understand that.”

Kevin turned back. “Alright. I can stay out here for a bit, right?”

McKinkey came around the couch and sat next to him. “Do you mind if I stick around here too?” He asked, grabbing a pillow, which he put on his lap.

Kevin shook his head. “No,” he responded, as he opened his book and tried to find the page that he was at.

“What are you reading?” McKinley asked, fidgeting with the strands hanging off the pillow.

Kevin shrugged. “A Snow White adaptation. I really like Disney, that’s all.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that McKinley was nodding. “Oh. Cool.”

Kevin smiled to himself. “Yeah.”

“Why are you smiling? What happened?”

Normally Kevin would’ve glared at whoever was interrupting his reading, but he didn’t have the energy today. “Oh, she just talked to her soulmate for the first time! She doesn’t know he’s her soulmate yet, cause in this story soulmates find each other a bit differently.”

“Huh.”

Kevin thought that that would be it for Elder McKinkey’s questions, but the redhead still had another question.

“What about you? Have you found your soulmate yet?”  The ginger asked, his blue eyes peering questioningly at him.

Kevin resisted groaning out of frustration. Not only was McKinley distracting him from his reading, he was also asking a question that Kevin didn’t quite know the answer to.

“No,” he responded, putting down the book and look over at McKinley. “I haven’t. You?”

McKinley seemed to blush a bit. “Well, yeah, very recently actually, but I don’t know if they’ve noticed.”

Kevin raised an eyebrow. “How can someone not notice that they found their soulmate?”

Elder McKinley fidgeted with the strands at the end of the pillow a bit. “No, I just mean that I don’t know if they realized who their soulmate is .”

Kevin grimaced. “Wow. That sucks, I’m so sorry.” He did feel really bad for his District Leader, he was having trouble trying to figure out who his soulmate was, but imagine knowing who your soulmate is and everything being perfect, except having your soulmate not know. Kevin thought to himself that perhaps McKinley’s soulmate was like Kevin, and didn’t have much noticeable color in their life.

“Well,” Kevin offered. “I’m guessing this means that your gay thoughts weren’t anything serious right?”

“Um, well, I guess, yeah,” McKinley said quickly, looking away.

Kevin stared at him, startled by his strange reaction. Wait, there might be a reason McKinley would respond that way, and that’d be if McKinley’s soulmate was a guy.

“Oh. Uh, well I’m guessing that means I’m wrong,” he said. “Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t care anymore,” he quickly added, trying to make sure McKinley knew that he supported him no matter what.

McKinley licked his lips and looked back towards Kevin. “Thank you, that means a lot to me. Don’t tell anyone though, please?”

Kevin nodded and scooted a bit closer, setting his still closed book on the couch. “I won’t,” he said with a reassuring smile, knowing fully why he might not want to tell anyone.

McKinley smiled at him, and Kevin stood up. “I’m gonna go to bed,” Kevin said. “See you tomorrow.” He picked up his book, and McKinley watched him.

“Yeah, see you,” the District Leader echoed.

Chapter Text

Connor was hard at work overseeing the other Elders, and most of his days were filled with frustration, as he tried to figure out how to keep their mission up and running.

Right now he was on a break, so he was sitting outside on a chair and drinking some water, while reading a book. The main character was currently also reading a book, and Connor smiled to himself at the idea of having a character in a book be reading a book. He flipped the page, and continued reading. Now, the character had just gotten a call on his phone, one that Connor guessed was from this character’s best friend, based off past events in the book.

He had only been reading for a few minutes when Poptarts stuck his head out of the mission hut and called to him. “Hey Connor?”

Connor looked up with round eyes, surprised yet again when he heard someone call him by his first name for one of the first time in months. He had only just given Poptarts the permission to do this, because they were so close. Anyways, it wasn’t like their mission was very rule-abiding anymore.

He gave him a small greeting and stood up, then followed a clearly excited Poptarts into the house, and to the living area, where several board games were set up.

“What’s this?” Connor said with a raised eyebrow, and Poptarts laughed.

“I thought you’d say that,” he said with a smile, then sat down on the couch in front of CLUE. “I was thinking that all the elders could get together for a game night. Whaddya think?”

Connor nodded thoughtfully. “Good idea,” he replied, eyebrows raised. A moment later, he added, “I kinda feel bad though, it’s my job to think of things we can do as a group.”

Poptarts shook his head in response. “No, don’t feel bad at all. I just randomly had the idea, discussed it with Church, and wanted to surprise you.”

Connor looked around, and grinned. “Well, it was a good idea. I’ll give you that. Quick question though, where’d you get all the games?”

Poptarts shrugged dismissively. “Oh, Naba got them for me from the local market.”

“You must’ve been planning this for a while, haven’t you?” Connor laughed as he sat in a shabby chair in front of a Monopoly set.

Poptarts nodded sheepishly. “Yeah, for a few days.”

Connor leaned back on the chair. “If you weren’t my mission partner and who has to leave when I do, I’d appoint you the next district leader. This just shows that you have good ideas, are willing to take lead, and you try to make the mission members a community.”

Poptarts laughed. “Well, it’s too bad that I’m your partner, huh?” He shifted. “I’m not even sure if I’d enjoy being District Leader, tell you the truth. It’s an honor that you think I’d make a good one, but I’m don’t think it’s the role for me.”

Connor shrugged dismissively. “Well, that’s another good strength; recognizing your weaknesses.”

Poptarts looked surprised. “Well, if you say so.”

Connor glanced around the set up of games. “So, you said that you also told Church about this, right?”

Poptarts nodded. “Yeah, and I also told Elder Davis. They’re gonna help make snacks for us.”

“Well, I guess it’ll be a little party at this point, won’t it?”

Poptarts chuckled, then his eyes lit up with inspiration. “Wait, what if we invited some of the villagers too?”

Connor raised an eyebrow. “Hold up, our mission hut isn’t that big? How are we supposed to fit every person in a 50 mile radius and their dog into our tiny hut.”

“No, I was just suggesting inviting a few more others to spice things up.” He smiled at Connor. “I think they’d make things quite interesting.”

Of course they would, things always were interesting with the Africans involved.

Connor stood up. “Well, I guess you can invite them. It sounds like a great plan overall. Also, I’ll be outside if you want me.”




It was dinnertime, and Connor was eating the food that had been served and he was chatting with the others.

Elder Price was sitting next to him on one side, and Elder Zelder on the other. Currently he was talking with Price, which was what Connor had been waiting to do for a few days. Ever since their conversation a couple days ago, Connor had been wanting to converse with him more, but they hadn’t had much chance to talk with each other. So now that they were sitting next to each other, they were kinda forced to (not that they didn’t want to).

“So, how’s your paper-sorting going?”

Price raised an eyebrow. “Very interesting. I never knew how much fun it was beforehand, you would’ve never guessed!” He chuckled, then continued dryly. “I’ve sleepily spilled coffee onto forms more times than I can count, it’s so boring.”

Connor leaned back in his chair. “Ugh, yeah, tell me about it. Now that I’ve been relieved of that boring task, I can have fun all day! Ya know, it’s all fun and games while doing budgeting and other fun District Leader tasks.”

Poptarts stood up. “Well, speaking of fun and games, some of you guys must’ve noticed all the games in the living room area. Well guess what?”

“We’re having a game night?” Elder Cunningham joyfully asked, his face filled with excitement.

Poptarts frowned. “Well, I hoped you wouldn’t guess it right away, but yeah. Basically.”

Elder Price laughed. “Were we not supposed to guess right away?”

Shrugging, Poptarts sat back down. “Well I guess it was pretty obvious, but yeah. I figured it would be a good way to bond, and also, our very own Elder Church and Davis are providing snacks!”

The other Elders politely clapped, as to not disturb Poptart’s excitement.

They finished their meal quickly, chatting with smiles. Soon they had finished, and Davis stood up and collected everyone’s plates. Church excused himself from the table too, to help them, and Connor stood up too. “I’ll help you guys with the dishes,” he said, smiling. “You guys prepare set up the games.”

The other Elders stood up and left the table, murmuring words of thanks to Conor, Church, and Davis.

Poptarts also joined them in the kitchen, grabbing a dripping plate from Connor so he could dry it.

Connor raised an eyebrow. “I thought you’d be out there helping everyone set up.”

Poptarts continued wiping the plate, looking over at Connor. “Yeah, I should, but I want to prove that I’m not as amazing as a leader as you thought I am.” He winked at Connor, who laughed.

Poptarts continued. “Actually, I just wanted to help speed things along, so I’m helping you do dishes.”

Elder Church squeezed past him, he had just appeared through the kitchen door. “Well, it would help more if you didn’t take up so much space,” he teased.

Poptarts poked him on the arm. “Aww, well it’s a good thing you love me.”

Church laughed. “Well, it is nice to have another pair of hands.”

Connor was surprised by how lighthearted their joking was, Connor hadn’t realized that Church and Poptarts had become such good friends. Well, they did seem to be spending a lot of time together.

Together, them and Davis finished washing the dishes fairly quickly, making a system to their chore. Davis would rinse the plate, Connor would scrub them with soap and rinse them again and hand them to Poptarts, who would dry and hand them to Church, who put them in the cabinets.

They finished washing the last dish, and Connor wiped his hands on his black pants as he followed Davis out into the living area.

Most of the Elders had started a game already, but Elder Cunningham beckoned them over to join his, Price, and Schrader’s game of Apples to Apples. “The more the merrier, especially with this game!” Cunningham cheered to them.

Connor laughed and sat down between Davis and Church. “Alright.”

The game was started, and soon, Connor was doubled over in laughter. Turns out that Davis was brilliant at this game, his answers were always hilarious, and Cunningham’s absurd sense of humor was always wonderful. Elder Price’s dry humor ended up with answers that raised eyebrows and caused snickers, and Poptarts, as always, was giving sly and silly answers. Church was also great, he had more lowkey answers that still managed to be brilliant.

And Connor? Well he hoped he would be good, but he hadn’t won much.

Another round finished, ending with Davis in the lead with 6 points. He and Poptarts had been tied at 5 points previously, so Poptarts shook his hand at him. “I’ll get you back next time!” He declared, though his words didn’t translate to his grinning face.

“Sure,” Davis responded, rolling his eyes.

They started another round, and Connor thought that for once he finally had an okay card for once, which he put down.

Price was judging this round, and when he revealed all the cards he looked over them with a smile, before finally choosing… Connors card!

“That was mine,” Connor said with a smile, taking it, and the green card from Price.

Church leaned back against the couch behind him. “Congratulations on finally winning a round.”

Poptarts poked Church. “Hey! Be nice to my mission partner.”

Connor crossed his arms. “Yeah, show some respect, I’m your District Leader,” he teased.

Cunningham giggled. “Wow, I’m the one who saved our mission.”

“And I’m the one who everyone loves,” Price said with a small smirk.

Davis raised an eyebrow. “Am I the only one who has nothing to brag about?”

“You have the best food,” Poptarts responded, turning back to Davis. “We’ll give you that.”

Davis laughed. “Yeah, I guess that’s a plus.”

Poptarts glanced up at the clock. “Oh, hey, it’s probably time we switch games with another group, if we want to play more than one game.”

Church nodded. “I’ll go talk with the uno group and see if they’d like to switch.”

“I’m gonna beat you guys into the ground . I rule at UNO!” Elder Price declared proudly.

Cunningham laughed. “I bet.”


“UNO!” Kevin called out as he slammed his second-to-last card on the deck, grinning as the others glared at him, and waited patiently for his turn again. His last card was a triangle add 2(that to him, like all the other triangle cards, was tinted red), and he couldn’t wait to use it. Unfortunately, the current card type were the rectangle cards, and it was almost his turn.

Poptarts was before him, and he glanced over at Kevin before placing down a reverse card.

Kevin almost smiled. They thought that they were preventing him from winning by making sure the card didn’t reach them, but little did they know that it made it more likely for him to win. They continued playing, and the card type changed to circle, much to Kevin’s annoyance.

Davis placed down a circle 2, and Arnold put down a  triangle 2. Yes!

With a smirk, Kevin put down his red add two. “There,” he said, and the others who were playing with him groaned.

“Ugh, he wins,” Church said with a grimace.

“Again,” McKinley added.

Poptarts shrugged. “Eh, it was a good game, and we can play another round.”

“He’s won the past 3 rounds,” Davis reminded Poptarts, with a raised eyebrow.

“I can’t help that I’m so good,” Kevin said with a grin, leaning against the wall.

“He must be cheating,” teased Poptarts, and Arnold crossed his arms.

“Did you just call my best friend a cheater? ,” He asked sternly, but then started giggling. “Don’t worry, I’m not actually mad.”

Kevin laughed. “Yeah, don’t call me a cheater, what good Mormon boy cheats?”

“The type of good Mormon boy that drinks coffee, swears, and doubts God,” Church snickered.

There was a knock on the door, and Poptarts stood up to go get it. “Those must be the villagers I invited.”

Arnold jumped to his feet. “Narcissism?” He said with a grin on his face, and Kevin resisted rolling his eyes. Arnold jokingly got Naba’s name wrong whenever he could, and this seemed to be no exception.

Poptarts opened the door, and Naba skipped in, followed by her dad, Mafala.

“Arnold!” She cheered, and she went immediately to him and kissed him.

Kevin smiled as he watched them embrace. It was adorable, how they were always so excited to see each other, and were always happy around each other. They were the perfect soulmates.

He frowned as he thought about soulmates. He still had no clue what was going on with his soulmate, he still could slightly see color, but it was weird. He could’ve sworn the red tint was getting more strong and obvious, or maybe it was just him getting used to seeing it, and knowing what to look for. There was also a few other shades he could sort of see as well, he could barely see the hue that was apparently purple, and green was becoming almost more obvious than the red.

Still, the whole thing was largely complicated, something that Kevin did not enjoy. He always liked it when things were simple, easy, and this seemed to be the exact opposite of that.

Grabbing Naba's hand, Arnold sat back down around the Uno deck, grinning. "Hey, join our game of uno!"

Naba smiled softly. "Well, if you insist." She took her place next to him, and Davis scooted over to make room for her.

"Hi Naba," The Elders chirped, and Poptarts sat back down in their circle.

"So, we're gonna play another round, who wants to shuffle?" Church asked.

Davis raised his hand. "I can!"

Naba laughed. "I'm sorry, but I don't know this game. Would anyone care to explain?"

Arnold nodded eagerly. "Yes!" He said, and started explaining the rules.

"So basically, there are four types of card, red, blue, green, and yellow, and you have five cards in you hand at all time." He seemed to be explaining based off color, considering that him and Naba could both see it. Usually, They were referred to as triangle, circle, square, and rectangle, so that people without color vision could tell them apart.

Arnold continued explaining, but Kevin found himself zoning out, until his mission partner finished eagerly talking about the rules. He knew these rules already so well, and had heard them before. He had no reason to pay attention to it again.

He was pulled back to attention by Davis laying down his cards in front of him, and he picked them up, ready to play and win.  

They played the game, and much to Kevin's annoyance, Naba was somehow already at an uno while he still had 3 cards. He hoped that she wouldn't win, but then, she triumphantly placed down he last card.

The elders cheered.

"Good job Naba!" Arnold beamed, and Poptarts also added, "And thank you for not letting Kevin win again."

Kevin glared at Poptarts. “Alright, alright, we get it you don’t like losing.” Kevin sneered.

Church leaned in. “No, it’s just insufferable when you always win.”

Kevin rolled his eyes. “Right. Yeah. Of course.”

Naba laughed. “It’s okay, everyone loses every now and then.”

“Well,” He said, leaning in for a moment, “Not everyone is the amazing Kevin Price.”

The Elders all laughed.

“So another game?” Davis asked a moment later, and Kevin scoffed.

“And risk losing again? No way?”

“Well, you’d never back down from a challenge, would you?” Naba said with an innocent smile.

Kevin nodded, as if thinking, but still was smiling. “Well, I could never back down from one, could I?”

Once again, the cards were shuffled, and, once again, Naba won.

Kevin put his hand over his hard. “Ow! You wound me, Nabalungi Hatimbi, with all your winning. Leave a man his pride, would you?”

“I’m sorry, best friend, but my girlfriend is much better than you at this,” Arnold said with a giggle.

Gasping, Kevin flopped backwards. “That does it! My best friend, telling me that I am not the best at something!”

“Well, I’d tell you that you have to much pride, but since I’m a good Mormon boy, unlike Elder Price, I will only say nice things to my friends,” McKinley laughed.

“Well then,” Naba said. “I’m not a good Mormon boy, so I’ll just say it for you. Kevin, you’re a dick.”

Kevin blinked, thinking of the weirdest memory. One where Jesus called him a dick? Oh right, it was a hell dream. The hell dream where he’d had that certain dream about McKinley.

Kevin made a face at the memories. They certainly weren’t nice ones.

“Hey, don’t call him that,” Davis said, raising an eyebrow, still giggling. “Be nice to the star Elder of our humble mission.”

“Okay guys, I get it, I was a bit arrogant at the beginning,” Kevn said with an eyeroll. “I’m over that now.”

“Says the guy who just got offended when he didn’t win an uno game,” said McKinley with a snicker. “I’d say you’re still arrogant.”

“Are all my friends attacking me?” Kevin said as he let out a dramatic gasp. “How could you? You know how difficult my life has been, you can’t get mad at me. How dare you, I am God’s chosen one .”

Naba burst into laughter for what must’ve been the tenth, and the other Elders were soon to follow. Kevin started laughing too, and it took them all a few moments to calm down.

Once they mostly stopped laughing, McKinley started to stand up. “Hey, does anyone want a drink?” He asked, and most people in the room responded with a yes.

Kevin stood up too. “I’ll help you get them. Just to prove to you guys that I care for others.” He stuck out his tongue at the group.

McKinley laughed, and walked into the kitchen with Kevin following him.

“Thanks for helping me out with this,” McKinley said with a gracious smile. “I certainly wouldn’t have been able to carry all these drinks by myself.”

“Glad you have such a strong and resilient worker to help you?” Kevin teased, flexing his barely existent muscles.

“Right. So glad.”

“Good to know,” Kevin laughed. “I’m glad at least someone in this place recognizes how significant and needed I am.”

“So needed,” McKinley said with a roll of his eyes. He took a jug of water out of the fridge and started pouring it into cups, placing them on the counter. Kevin picked them up after there were four, and took them out into the living area and gave them to Arnold, Naba, Poptarts, and Davis. Church waved him away, saying that he didn’t want any. Then, Kevin returned back to the kitchen, ready to get more glasses.

“This should be it,” McKinley said, “This should be enough water for everyone.”

“Actually,” said Kevin, “Church doesn’t want water.”

“What? I just poured that water for no reason?” McKinley said, making a face. “Ugh.”

“I mean, others might still be thirsty later,” Kevin responded. “Here, let me help you with these cups too.”

“I can help myself,” McKinley said with a raised eyebrow. “But sure, if you’re so determined about this, you can take them.”

“No, no, you can still keep them, I’m fine with that,” Kevin said, before picking up his few cups and ducking out of the kitchen to hand them out. McKinley followed him out.

After handing them out to the other Elders, they sat back down around uno.

“Should we play another round?” Cunningham asked, but Poptarts shook his head.

“Maybe we should play another game, because it’s starting to get late.”

The others nodded.

“Yeah, this is starting to get a bit repetitive.”

“This is getting a little boring.”

Poptarts called out to everyone to get ready to switch games again, and so they switched within moments.

It did end up being a wonderful night, and everyone had fun and once again, Kevin was really starting to feel at home here.

Chapter Text

Connor wiped the sweat off his forehead, and reached for his water flask. He set down the hammer he was holding in his other hand as he took a sip of the water. It was amazing, it was getting really warm as it neared midday, and even though the water wasn’t very cold, it still relieved him a bit from the heat.

“How’s your part coming along?” He called to Poptarts, who was working on the other side of the hut.

Well, the soon-to-be-hut. It wasn’t fully built yet, but the Elders were working on it. That was their current project. They were building 5 new huts, to help out the village. It was one of the conditions of their mission, to help out the area, and this was one of their ways to do so.

“I’m doing fine,” Poptarts responded. “Just having trouble with a nail.”

Connor smiled sympathetically, even though he knew Poptarts couldn’t see him. “Oh, that’s too bad. Hopefully it’ll sort itself out very soon.”

“How are you faring?” Poptarts asked back at Connor.

“Oh, also fine. Except I’m really hot.”

“So, not much better than I am,” Poptarts responded with a laugh.

The sun was bearing down on them, so Connor was sure that everyone working on the huts currently were having a hard time. Connor took another drink from his water flask. He couldn’t wait for lunch break, when he’d be back in shelter from the sun.

Connor picked up a wood plank and held it to another plank, and picked up a nail and his hammer to start securing it.

He started hammering it down, taking small satisfaction in the way the nail sunk into the wood like so. He enjoyed hammering things, believe it or not.

He continued working on that section of the hut, even as another person sunk down next to him.

“Hey, Elder McKinley,” Elder Price greeted him.

Connor swallowed. Oh. It was him. His soulmate.

The one he’d come out to.

The one who didn’t seem to know that he was Connor’s soulmate, somehow.

He’d done an awfully good job of pretending that nothing was up with him and Price whenever he talked to Elder Price or the others, especially during the game night, but someone was bound to notice something about his behavior sooner or later.

“Hey,” he said, with one of his fake smiles that he had meticulously perfected over the years. “Are you gonna work here too?”

Elder Price nodded. “Yeah. Believe it or not, I actually help others out. Amazing, I know?” He flashed McKinley a smirk, grinning as if he, himself,  were the most wonderful thing in the world.

Connor’s stomach flipped. Gosh, he still couldn’t believe how beautiful Price was. He was actually extremely lucky to have such a handsome soulmate, that was one good thing he supposed.

“You? Helping others? Shocking.” While speaking, he picked up another plank.

“I could use your help though. Can you help me nail this in?” He asked Price, who nodded.

“Yeah, sure,” The other Elder responded, grabbing the hammer.

They started working, and slowly made progress. They made some small talk, to pass the time, as they worked, but mostly they didn’t speak.

They continued working, until lunch break was called.

Connor groaned as he stood up. He’d been bent over too much this morning, and he stretched and heard his back crack.

“God, it feels so good to properly stand again,” he said with a smile, and Price laughed.

“Yeah, no doubt. I’m feeling the effects even though I arrived not too long ago.”

“What were you even doing?” Connor queried, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh, I was listening to Arnold as he bounced ideas off me for his tales.”

“Isn’t that tiring?” Connor said in response, a look of bemusement on his face.

Price shrugged. “Well, someone’s gotta take one for the team. It isn’t too bad anyways, it’s nice hearing people talk about things they care about. They get this look on their face, and though I used to think it’s annoying, you can hear the passion in their voice.”

Elder Price had changed a lot since he arrived, Connor thought to himself. Definitely for the better, of course.

Poptarts caught up with them. “Hey!” Said the blond elder, smiling. “How are you guys doing with the hut?”

“Well,” Price started to respond. “At least since I’ve arrived, there’s been decent progress.”

Connor nodded. “Yeah. I was going to say that too.”

“How’s Arnold treating you?” Price asked with a raised eye. Poptarts laughed ruefully.

“Well, he’s very talkative, but we all know that.”

“Seems like the two most talkative people got paired together,” Connor remarked, elbowing his mission partner jokingly.

“Ow!” Poptarts exclaimed, and Connor laughed. He hadn’t hit him that hard, and they all knew that he was just exaggerating how much it supposedly hurt.

“Oh, there’s him now,” Elder Price commented to them, as Cunningham jogged towards them.

“Sorry, I was talking with Nutella,” Cunningham said, a grin on his face. Tell you the truth, Connor wasn’t sure if he’d seen Cunningham without a wide smile on his face, other than the time the stuff concerning Elder Price was going down.

“Of course you were,” Price said with a laugh, looking down at his dark haired mission partner with a smile.

Price and Cunningham chatted amongst themselves for the rest of the walk back to the hut, so Poptarts and Connor created their own conversation.

Within a couple of minutes, they reached the hut (though they had been across town from the mission hut, it was a very small village). Connor knocked on the door to announce himself and the others, then pushed open the door.

“Finally! I was going to send out a search party,” Davis joked, as he continued setting dishes on the table, which was what he had been doing even before they entered.

“Good afternoon, Elder Davis!” Poptarts greeted, and the other elders echoed similar versions as they entered.

Elder Schrader and Neeley were also already in the room, and Zelder and Michaels followed Connor, Poptarts, Cunningham, and Price, into the room. From the look of it, Zelder and Michaels had been fetching something for Davis and Church.

“Oh, put it right here,” Davis said without looking up, but Connor stopped them.

“I’ll take them to the kitchen,” he offered, and took the packages from their hands and went into the kitchen. It looked to be some sort of chicken broth flavorer, probably for their dinner.

As he set them down, Church, who was pouring water, nodded his head to acknowledge Connor. “Hey, could you bring me that purple cup over there?”

Connor nodded. “Sure.” He took a step to grab the cup, but froze in his place, before slowly turning to peer at Church. “I didn’t know you’d found your soulmate,” he said, raising an eyebrow.

Church paused as he went to grab another cup. “What? Oh!” His eyes darted nervously. “Oh, shoot, I said purple cup, didn’t I.” He laughed nervously. “I didn’t mean purple, I just meant that one over there.”

Connor watched him, lips pursed. He didn’t really think that he could hide this now, did he? “Why are do you seem worried with me knowing?” Connor asked, eyebrow raising. “I’m your district leader. If you have any troubles, you can talk to me.” He picked up the cup to pass it to Church.

Church took the cup, but shook his head. “No, it’s fine, it’s just, I just haven’t really told anyone yet.” He adjusted his glasses nervously.

Connor frowned, dropping his hands and grabbing Church’s arms, turning him to face Connor. Church flinched, though Connor barely noticed.

“And most importantly, I’m your friend. Or, I want to be your friend.” He gazed into Church’s eyes. “I want you to be able to trust me.”

Church stared at him, gnawing on his bottom lip. “I want to trust you to. And it’s not like I don’t, it’s just… This is more personal. I’m not sure if I want to… Talk about this yet.”

Connor dropped his gaze. “Of course. I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable.”

Church nodded. “Alright. I’ll come to you if I need anything. Oh, and also?”

“Yes?”

“If you’re gonna be my friend, you might as well call me by my first name. James.”

“Oh, right.” Connor smiled at him, a small smile that lasted a second or two before slowly fading. “Alright James.”


Kevin strolled through the heat of the midday sun. He adjusted his visor hat, trying to ignore how his sweat was probably seeping through his plain white tee as he walked.

Oh god, it was very fucking hot right now.

His arms still ached from holding up the wooden beams they were using in their construction, and even though he’d been away from the huts for at least half an hour, they hadn’t stop hurting.

Kevin knew he shouldn’t really be complaining. He’d been the one to suggest heading to the market, he’d been the one who suggested him going, he should deal with the heat and the sweat and the African sun.

So instead of focusing on the pain, he tried to look around and specify the newly emerging colors.

That tree over there? That was tinted green, and the flowers seemed to be almost a reddish hue. Of course, it wasn’t strong enough, and red was his most visible color, so maybe it was… A pink?

And around him, there seemed to be mostly yellow colors and tones, with hints of orange and brown. He grinned as he noticed that it felt stronger, that he seemed to be noticing better, that his world was no longer mostly just the shades of grey he’d known his entire life.

There were actual colors . And they were breathtaking.

Kevin had started noticing more simple things, lately. Had started letting himself find happiness in the small things in life, things that hadn’t mattered to him before a month ago. He found the world to be a lot less stressful now, less filled with things meant to make him fail.

He found that he was happier.

At this point, Kevin wasn’t even sure if he’d want to go home when the time came. He found it perfectly fine living here, perfectly fulfilling. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that he didn’t want to leave behind the friends he’d made here, or how he really wasn’t looking forward to facing his parents after all this.

Well, the anxiety was back now that he was thinking of these things. His fingers drummed against his leg as he walked, nodding his head up and down with each step he took.

The market was closer now, and the path was no longer just dirt and rock, with grass on either side of him. Kevin was passing huts made of wood, mud, and stone.

A woman lounged outside with her baby, and Kevin noticed with a pang in his heart how skinny she seemed. Her cheekbones were prominent on her face, and he wondered when was the last time she’d had a good full meal. He wanted nothing more than to invite her to the mission hut to have dinner with them.

Instead, he just averted his eyes and continued walking, trying to remember everything he hoped to buy from the market.

He wanted to get more paper and ink, for Naba. Her and Arnold’s two month anniversary would be coming up soon, and he’d promised Arnold he’d help him buy her a present. They were planning to return to the market in another few days to also pick out a necklace for her, or some other simple piece of jewelry that wouldn’t be too expensive.

Next, he’d try to find some vegetables or fruits for the Elders assigned to cooking. He was sure that Davis would be pleased with being able to work with something extra.

Oh, and he couldn’t forget to get Poptarts. They always went quickly in the household of the mission hut, mostly due to a certain Elder who also goes by the name of Poptarts.

Maybe he’d be able to find another movie. The last time they’d had a movie night it went well, and Kevin would love to find Rapunzel or Cinderella to watch. Ever since Davis’s confession that he never was allowed to watch Disney as a child, Kevin had gone into overdrive trying to introduce him to the light .

By now, Kevin had reached the first few stands. Every time he came here he was reminded of how small the market was compared to what he’d hoped it would be like, and he found himself feeling disappointed at its size once again. He probably wouldn’t find everything he wanted to.

As he checked each stall for something someone might like, he slowly crossed off items on his mental list. He had brought a reusable bag made of old rice bags, and he opened it up as he started to build a small collection of items.

Okay, there was the paper and ink for Naba. There were also a few local fruits Kevin had seen a couple times before, and he eagerly purchased them. He got a few boxes of Poptarts (the shop owner even smiled at him before offering them up, recognizing that the Elders were regular customers).

Kevin bit his lip as he scanned over the available titles of movies, but he didn’t recognize any of them. He pouted a bit, he had really wanted to get something for them all to watch.

He bought a few more things others had asked for, and he was about to turn and stride out of town when he noticed a few dusty looking novels in English. Kevin thought about how much Connor loved to read.

“Well,” he murmured to himself. “He’d certainly love a new book, wouldn’t he?” Plus, he was sure Connor wouldn’t mind Kevin borrowing it when bored.

He grabbed a few coins out of the pouch hanging by his belt. He didn’t recognize any of these books either, but there were a few whose descriptions caught his eye. Kevin decided on a book that seemed to be a fantasy mystery set in some alternate version of New York.

It seemed interesting enough, he shrugged, and he handed the money to the previous owner who said a few words in another language before sliding Kevin’s change across the table to him.

“Thank you,” Kevin said in the local language, it being one of the few phrases he knew.

The man smiled back at him.

Kevin gave him a small wave before turning around and starting to walk out of the market. He took a drink from his water bottle, then set his sight on the village in the distance with a small smile.

He glanced down at the book in his hand, hoping that Connor would like it.

Why was he even stressing over this? It wasn’t a very big deal, was it?

He shrugged, then continued walking. He supposed it was just the nice thing to do.