Kevin crawled into bed feeling like somebody was sticking tiny knives into his feet, but that was the price paid for walking around the village all day. It was a good job he liked being on his mission, or he might have flat out refused to proselytise. The fact that he actually liked what he was preaching helped. The Book of Arnold was a lot more interesting than the Book of Mormon, even if he was sure that it would send him to Hell.
Speaking of Arnold...Kevin frowned when he realised that he could hear the sound of the shower running but not his mission companion singing terribly at the top of his voice. After almost nine months of being on their mission together, Kevin was used to hearing Arnold singing “I’m Singing in the Rain” whilst showering, but his ears were only met with the sound of the water running.
Maybe it wasn’t Arnold in the shower. Maybe he was spending the night with Nabulungi. Kevin could never quite keep up with mission companion these days.
Coming to the conclusion that someone else was in the shower, because Arnold Cunningham would never shower without being generally loud about it, Kevin turned on his side and curled up in a ball, letting his eyes shut; only for them to be opened again in 30 seconds by the sound of Arnold walking through the door, dripping water everywhere.
“Have you been in the shower?” Kevin asked.
“Yeah,” Arnold replied, walking past his bed without his usual enthusiasm, “why?”
“I couldn’t hear you,”
“You listen to me in the shower? That’s weird, buddy,”
Kevin rolled his eyes, “Don’t make it weird, Arn. I meant I couldn’t hear you singing,”
Arnold shrugged, “Didn't feel like it,”
“Everything alright, pal?”
“Fine. Just tired,” Arnold replied, “Good night, Kev,”
“Oh,” Kevin said, slightly stung by the lack of conversation, “OK. Night, pal,”
Kevin drifted off into sleep almost immediately, despite the nagging voice in the back of his mind (that sounded oddly like Elder McKinley) telling him to stay awake, Kevin! Your best friend is sad! Wake UP! And it’s probably the fact that the voice sounded like McKinley that Kevin didn’t wake up, because he’d never really followed any of the district leaders instructions and wasn’t going to start when he was so tired.
The voice though, rather like the real Elder McKinley, was quite...demanding and Kevin eventually woke up in a huff. He sat up and stretched his arms above his head, groaning when he looked over at the clock and saw that it was one o'clock in the morning. Just as he was about to get up and make himself a cup of coffee - because what was the point in trying to get a full night's sleep? - he heard a rather peculiar sound from the bed next to him. It took him a moment to realise that Arnold was crying and Kevin almost started crying himself (though he wasn’t sure if it was out of sympathy or exhaustion).
“Arnold?” he whispered through the darkness, “Arn? Arnold!”
“K-Kev? Why are you awake?”
“I don’t know, I just...woke up. Why are you crying?”
“Uh, yeah. You are.”
“Go back to sleep, buddy,”
Kevin folded his arms like a petulant child. Which he probably was, sometimes.
“Leave me alone, Kevin,”
Kevin raised his eyebrows. That sort of...hurt. Well, no, it didn’t sort of hurt, it did hurt.
“Arnold.” He said, “talk to me, buddy,”
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
“Cross my heart and hope to die,” Kevin said.
“I’m scared,” Arnold said, in the tiniest of voices.
“You’re...scared,” Kevin repeated.
“You said you wouldn’t make fun!”
“I’m not, I’m not,” Kevin hurriedly reassured him, “I just...I don’t know what you mean,”
“I’m scared of going home,”
Kevin frowned at his friend through the darkness, trying to make sense of this. He himself didn’t really like the thought of going home just yet, but he knew that when the time eventually came, he’d be okay because his family weren’t angry about the fact that they weren't preaching the Book of Mormon anymore.
“You said that your family were okay with The Book of Arnold,” Kevin said carefully, “what are you scared of?”
“They are okay with it,”
“Okay...so...so what is it that you’re afraid of?”
Arnold mumbled something under his breath, but Kevin couldn’t hear him.
He mumbled again.
“Arn, buddy, I can’t hear you. Come here,” Kevin said, patting the space next to him and lying back down so there was room for Arnold to lie next to him.
He felt the mattress dip as Arnold lay beside him, “I’m scared that when we go home you’re...you’re going to leave me. And I’ll be...I’ll be alone again,”
Kevin turned on his side to face him, “That’s not gonna happen, pal,”
Arnold shrugged in a way that was so sad that Kevin was sure he felt his heart break a little bit, and he realised that there was nothing in the world more upsetting than seeing Arnold Cunningham upset.
“Do you really think that will happen?” Kevin asked.
“All my other friends leave me,”
“Not me,” Kevin said firmly, “I promise, Arn, you’ll probably want to get rid of me by the end of this mission,”
Arnold giggled, but he still sounded upset. Stumped, Kevin didn’t know how to cheer up.
“Is it really bothering you that much?”
Arnold mumbled something again and Kevin nudged him in the side to get him to speak up.
“I had a Hell dream about it last night,” he mumbled, “Heavenly Father told me that you didn’t like me and wanted nothing to do with me,”
Kevin rolled over again, lying on his back. He could actually feel the heat of Arnold’s blushed face radiating off his face and as stupid as it sounded, he had the sudden urge to fight Heavenly Father - real or not - for making Arnold feel so terrible.
“Hey, Arnold, I know...I know I wasn’t the greatest companion when we first got here but...you really are my best friend. I’d do anything for you,” Kevin said, nudging him slightly, “I promise that once this is all over, we’ll still be friends,”
“Best friends?” Arnold asked, a hopeful note in his voice.
“Best friends,” Kevin confirmed.
Arnold giggled again, but this time it sounded genuine and Kevin felt himself relax.
“You alright now, buddy?”
“Yeah,” Arnold replied, moving to rest his head on Kevin’s shoulder, “I’m fine. Thank-you, best friend,”
“It’s alright,” Kevin said, pulling his arm out from in between the two of them and putting it around Arnold's shoulder, “You know you can speak to me about anything, pal,”
“I know,” Arnold said, “but it’s just - it was embarrassing,”
“Arnold, please, I had a breakdown about Orlando in front of you. This was nothing,”
“I should go back to bed,” Arnold says after a while, yawning into Kevin’s shoulder.
He sounded sad again and Kevin didn’t like it.
“You can - you can stay here if you want,” Kevin said, feeling his face heat up, “If it’ll - if it’ll make you feel better,”
“Sure,” Kevin said, “Why not?”
“See you in the morning, bud,”
Kevin slept so peacefully that he even managed a very short conversation with Elder Michaels the next morning without coffee.