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Nothing and Everything

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It’s not that Bobby North was stupid - he was, in fact, pretty smart when it came to the classes taught on the Farm, as limited as they were. It’s just… questioning the Creed seemed impossible - how do you question something, that was there long before you, something as constant and immovable, as the sun rising in the east and winter coming after autumn.
Bobby knew the Creed even before he could speak properly himself. Nothing is true, everything is permitted. What was there to question? The Creed was plain. It’s about freedom of choice. End of discussion.

Not for everyone, it turned out.

“Ever thought how weird it is?” Desmond asked him once when they were hiding in their own personal super-well hidden spot in the woods. At Bobby’s questioning look, Desmond elaborated. “The Creed, I mean.”

Bobby’s eyebrows shot up. Desmond was still visibly reeling from pain, keeping the injured arm pressed to his side, the other hand elbow-deep in his secret stash, because that’s the first thing you’ve learned on the Farm - how to keep things you’re not supposed to have (or supposed to have in limited amounts) hidden from others. Bobby’s secret stash contained a number of candy bars, a few soda cans, three comic books, each in their own ziplock bag, and a swiss army knife one of the adults had lost.

Desmond’s consisted mostly of painkillers and dried food, and he was now searching for the former. The deep cut on his arm, already cleaned up, looked awful, but not that bad it would require getting thread and needles from Sammy’s stash in order to patch him up. So, he couldn’t have lost so much blood he would be delirious.

“Weird? What are you on about?” Bobby asked, scrunching his nose. He had already been told to not get in the way, so he was just sitting there on dry moss, watching Desmond fumble around.

“The Creed, it doesn’t make sense,” Desmond waved his injured arm and inhaled sharply, with a hiss of pain, before resuming his search. “I mean, if everything is permitted, we should be allowed to leave this place. Or, I don’t know, wake up later or something.”

Waking up later would be good, Bobby thought but shook his head. “You know why we can’t leave, Desmond, there are Templars out there.”

Desmond shrugged with one shoulder, pulling out the bottle of ibuprofen and unscrewing the cap. “Yeah, that’s what adults say, I know. But if nothing is true, why should we believe whatever they say?”

Bobby just stared at him, dumbfounded, as Desmond popped the pill in his mouth, swallowed it dry and took out a set of wide band-aids, frowning at his injury.

“Maybe you should get this looked at by your Mom?” Bobby suggested gingerly, as his friend pressed around the edges of the cut. “It looks serious. And why would adults lie to us about the danger?”

Desmond lifted his eyes at him and shook his head. “Nah, guess they won’t,” he said dismissively and smiled with just the left corner of his mouth - something he learned when he got the scar on the right side and couldn’t smile without disturbing the stitches. The scar healed long ago, but the habit stayed. “And I’m fine, it’s just a scratch. Help me?”

“Sure,” Bobby nodded. He didn’t need to ask what to do, he’d done it dozens of times before. Something else bothered him - there was something familiar about the look on Desmond’s face, Bobby definitely saw it before, he just couldn’t tell where exactly.

He took the band-aids, and, as soon as Desmond pressed the edges of the cut together, slapped the largest strip along the length of the cut. Desmond put on a couple more, securing the first one in place, and then smiled at Bobby again, lightly punching him in the shoulder.

“Thanks, dude,” he said and dropped back on the ground to close his stash. “Ready to head back before they send a search party after us?”

“Yeah...” Bobby said slowly, suddenly realizing where he saw that look before. That was his Mom’s look whenever she had to patch one of them up. Or Sammy's dad whenever he went patrolling the borders.

That was an adult’s look. Of course it was so weird on Desmond, eleven-year-olds aren't adults.

Desmond straightened up and frowned at Bobby, probably noticing his blank face. “You good?” he asked carefully.

Bobby blinked and shook his head, trying to hide his concern. “Yeah, I’m not the one whose arm nearly got split in two,” he replied, rolling his eyes. “Come on, Des, before we get in trouble.”

Desmond scoffed. “I’m always in trouble,” he said cheekily, pushing past Bobby. The twelve-year-old gave him a little shove and followed, grinning and trying not to think about the weird adult look, that didn’t belong on his friend’s face.

It haunted him still.