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“Right now Dr. Woodyard is working a project concerning radio waves. He believes there’s a real chance that we can find a way to connect to the internet wirelessly!” Data happily reports to his parents on his the screen in front of him. Ever since the boy invented an online video chat function he called “Skype,” he makes sure to talk to his parents once a week so as not to worry them. “He asked me to help him with it because apparently I have a talent for electronics.”

Mouth has to repress a snort as he lounges on the couch. “Talent for electronics,” that’s certainly one way to say “technomancy.” Of course, nobody would ever believe such claim, especially coming from two young teens. Furthermore, it’s not like either of them were running around proclaiming their powers from the rooftops. Every superhero needs a secret identity, after all.

Besides Ironman… and Captain America ... and now that he thinks about it, the X-Men don’t really have secret identities either do they? Maybe he and Data should be following their example. The two of them are practically mutants after all, right? The particle accelerator certainly did something to their DNA, the question just remains what. Data’s been trying his hardest to do his own investigation and experimentation into that issue, but it’s pretty obvious that biology isn’t his strong suit. Want someone to create a camera that can attach into your  computer? Sure, no problem. Need a guy to perform basic first aid. You’d be better off asking Chunk.

Mouth shrugs off that train of thought and attempts to turn his attention back to the comic book. It’s a long shot, and Data might laugh at him for it, but this is his own form of research. There’s a chance that at least some of this superhero science is based in fact, right? And even if it’s not, it’s sure as hell entertaining. He flips through the pages and loses himself in the adventures of the Flash.

“Bye mom! Bye dad! Talk to you later!” From the corner of his eye, Mouth can see Data waving farewell to his parents through a grainy screen. The connection cuts out and Data plops himself down on the other end of the couch.

“Anything interesting happening back at the Goondocks?” Mouth asks, setting his comic on the rickety table in front of them. Finding suitable furniture to fill their lab following their move in hadn’t been particularly hard. A $10 table wasn’t worth the hassle of transporting via boat back to the mainland when you’re a college student with about a million other bags and boxes.

“Mouth, it’s been a day since we talked to the rest of the Goonies. Do you really think anything could have happened since then?”

“God, I was just asking. No need to be a jackass.” Mouth halfheartedly kicks a socked foot out at Data. It doesn’t connect, but he thinks he gets his sentiment across well enough.

“Don’t ask questions that make me want to be a jackass, then. Problem solved.” Data tries to deadpan the line, but the small smile and twinkle in his eyes ruin the attempt. Mouth rolls his eyes but can’t help but grin too.

Data crawls over to the other side of the couch and tucks himself up against Mouth. Almost instinctively at this point, Mouth wraps his arm around the other boy’s shoulder. It’s something neither of them have really talked about, what exactly it is that they share. They’re friends, obviously. If that wasn’t clear before the whole Kennedy Dylan White debacle, it certainly is now a few months after the incident. However, it seems to go deeper than that.

Mouth abandoned his family to stay with Data. Furthermore, Data let him.

That, on top of Mouth’s revelation that holy shit he’s apparently really fucking gay, makes it seem like the two of them are an item. Then, however, comes the issue of what Data thinks. Is he open to the idea? Is he just letting him stay so that he has company? Hell, does he even like boys like that? Mouth sure as hell doesn’t know. In theory, this problem can easily be solved with a simple hand touch and a mind probe, but that seems rather invasive.

For now though, Data is with him and that’s enough.

“Do you ever think of going back?” Mouth asks after a few minutes of silence.

“Going back where?”

“Y’know, back to the Goondocks.”

“Well, yeah sometimes I guess. It would be nice to get to see my parents more.” Data shifts, pushing himself away from Mouth enough to actually look at him. “Why do you ask?”

“Just curious.”

“Well what about you?”

“What about me?”

“Don’t you ever wanna go home? I mean the whole reason we even ended up here is because we were trying to save the Goondocks.”

“Probably not.” Mouth shrugs, feigning indifference. “It’s not like there’s that many reasons for me to go back anyways.”

“But the rest of the Goonies-”

“Visit about as much as they did before.” 

Data frowns. It’s not an expression Mouth likes to see on his friend’s face, especially when it’s caused by him. He’s said too much. Even now, he doesn’t quite know when to shut his big, fat mouth.

“What about your dad?” Data asks carefully. This is one of the few topics they’ve been tiptoeing around. In the two months they’ve been staying at the lab, Mouth’s father hasn’t made any attempts to contact his son. It wouldn’t be hard to find him; all the man would have to do is ask any of the other Goonies or their parents and he’d have an answer. 

“If he doesn’t want to see me, then I won’t make him.”

“I’m sure he has a reason-”

“That’s bullshit and you know it.” Mouth snaps. He regrets it the moment he sees Data flinch back. It’s small, but noticeable nonetheless. He starts again, calmer this time. “He’s never cared about me, I always knew that. This whole thing just confirms it.”

Data is silent for a few seconds. Mouth’s sure that he’s decided to drop the conversation altogether--an act he would be grateful for--before the smaller boy starts up again. 

“Then screw him.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. Your dad sucks? He doesn’t matter anymore. There are others who care about you like the Goonies and Gordie. And, even if you aren’t sure about all of them, you’ll always have me.”

Mouth hesitates. Data’s staring at him earnestly, imploring him to believe the words he’s saying. And for a second he almost does. He wants so desperately to trust the boy in front of him, the boy he left his old life behind for, but there’s something holding him back. It’s something he can’t shake, no matter how hard he tries.

Because he’s been here before. He’s seen these same statements turn from conviction filled promises to more empty words. His dad promised that after mom left, his son would at least always have him, but where is he now? Certainly not here.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” Data asks, though from his saddened tone it seems he already knows the answer. He searches Mouth’s face in the hopes that he will find some hint that he’s wrong. Mouth can’t stand his gaze and thus he averts his eyes. The non-answer seems to confirm Data’s suspicions.

A pit starts to form in Mouth’s stomach. He knows that he’s pushing Data away by telling him he doesn’t trust him. As much as he wants to let the other Goonie in, to genuinely love and connect with someone, it’s not worth the inevitable pain. He’s already been getting too attached. It’s really better for him to cut this off now instead of building up false hope and inevitably being abandoned later.

“Clark,” That name catches Mouth’s attention. None of his friends use his first name. Ever. Data face shows a apprehensive expression, but despite his uncertainty regarding the situation, he powers on. “Please trust me.”

Data tentatively reaches out his hand and places it over Mouth’s. The action releases butterflies in his stomach, and Mouth has to fight down redness from creeping up in face. He feels a bit dumb that such a small thing is getting him flustered, but he can’t help it. He hasn’t held Data’s hand before. It’s… nice.

“Data, I-” He can’t quite find the words to express what he wants to say. Can’t put his contradicting thoughts and feelings into words that will make sense to anyone on the outside.

“Use your mind probe on me.” That pulls Mouth out of the moment pretty quick.

“What?”

“You heard me. Use your mind probe on me.” Data says as if it’s the most obvious solution in the world. “If you don’t believe me when I say it, then put me in a situation where I physically can’t lie. If that’s what it takes, I’m willing to do it.”

“There’s no way I can-”

“Please.” And Mouth can’t say no to the deep brown eyes staring him down and silently begging him. He swallows nervously and after a few seconds of contemplation, nods. Data takes his hand off Mouth’s for a split second before repositioning it so that the two are now properly holding hands. Before he can have second thoughts, Mouth mentally asks his question.

“Will you stay with me?”

“Yes. I’m not sure what’s in store in the future in this lab, but one thing I’m sure of right now is that I want to be here with you. I will do everything in my power to make sure I can be there for you.”

After he finishes his statement, Data squeezes Mouth’s hand in reassurance. Mouth, for once, can’t find the right words to say. He’s never been one for expressing heartfelt emotions and he doesn’t even think he could say anything, at the risk of sounding insincere. He opts to simply squeeze back in response. Data seems to understand the sentiment as he lets go of Mouth’s hand and tucks himself back under his arm. He turns on the small television in front of the couch, neither of them speaking for a good while.

As the television program plays, Mouth can’t help but keep glancing down at Data, looking completely at peace with the world. The boy’s promise isn’t a replacement for the ones broken by his father and he’s not sure when he’ll be able to accept his father’s seeming apathy, if he ever. However, in this moment everything feels like it will be okay. For now, this is enough.

“Pfft I could make a better special effect on probably half the budget this show has.”

Mouth chuckles softly at the typical Data comment. The other boy looks up and flashes a quick smile before nestling further back into Mouth’s side. 

Yes, right now there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.