Evan thinks that it all started the day Quentin broke up with Idie in the gardens.
The breakup wasn’t entirely mutual, though it was welcomed on both parties; it was emotional, though no tears were shed; and it was pained, though unexpectedly, it wasn’t on Idie’s side. Rather, Evan was told by his friend that there was this sudden wash of relief over Idie, the girl going from taut and confused to surprised to relaxed, suddenly flopping back into Krakoa’s specially soft grass with a melodious laugh.
“You know, I was planning to break it off with you,” was what Quentin said she said, as she looked up with bright eyes. Quentin paused, looking blankly in front of him before he spoke again. He talked about how Idie’s feelings were always laid out before everyone, always. Her beautiful eyes—as fiery and as icey as the rest of her—had grown dull not too long before the day. Even if Quentin wasn’t a telepath, as he explained, he would have been able to known by the way she would look away when Quentin started being uncharacteristically soft, trying to give her the romance she deserved. And the moment Quentin suggested that it might have been the time to break it off, she just seemed to glow.
There was a minute of silence between the two boys, sitting on a hill not too far from the Jean Grey school. The hill Evan, Quentin, Idie and the rest of them would often find themselves on, reclining or studying or trying to escape the madness that was a school filled with rebellious mutant children. At that moment, however, they were the only ones there. School was in session, with Idie and their other classmates all learning about “trivial shit that doesn’t even prepare us for when humans lob bricks at us when we’re older,” as Quentin had elegantly put it.
Skipping class… the thought never really sat well with Evan. He had been prompted to skip a thousand times before, of course, but he was so self-confident in his studies and so worried about his future, he could never actually force himself to go. But with Quentin’s usual self-confidence and haughtiness momentarily turned to a certain stillness and leniency that Evan thought he could never relate Quentin, the young clone wasn’t exactly sure what he could do.
Quentin was his friend. Evan wasn’t so sure about their relation in the beginnings of what turned out to be their friendship, as he had always treaded lightly, skeptical about what the future Apocalypse and future Phoenix—Evan still thought of their future darkly, much to his own dismay and fears—would be able to accomplish if they were friends. But there they were. Best friends, in the words of their classmates. Inseparable, in the terms of the trio that they and Idie formed and stuck with. Even when Quentin and Idie dated they still made Evan feel welcome, and they’d all be determined to keep their little group despite the breakup. They were all friends.
Evan was determined to keep his friends, even if that meant doing the unthinkable—asking Quentin if he’d like to skip class together. Evan’s stomach didn’t exactly roll when he had suggested it, per se, but whatever the feeling he got, it was overshadowed by the happiness that pulled him forward when Quentin’s tired frown had turned into a surprised smile at the words.
They almost didn’t get past Headmistress Munroe in their escape; they had to literally hide behind potted plants in order to sneak past her, like in one of Evan’s sillier favourite movies (most movies were his favourite movies), and Evan’s heart pounded like they were trying to escape sentinels while Quentin kept cool and collected. Practice makes perfect, Evan supposed. He was just so convinced that they wouldn’t actually make it out the doors—
But they did.
And there they were.
Under the small birch on the hill, overlooking the infamous school, listening to the very concerning but very common sounds of explosions within the wall. They sat, both of them leaning back on the trunk of the tree, Evan somehow coaxing the pink-haired mutant beside him to talk about feelings, of all things. They were all very manly feelings, of course. Manly, mutant-y feelings. About breakups.
“It didn’t really feel fair,” Quentin admitted, his arms crossed and resting on his knees, which were brought to his chest.
“It didn’t—what didn’t?” Evan asked, suddenly brought out of his manly reverie. His blue lips suddenly drew tight. “Idie… not liking you?”
Quentin laughed bitterly, looking over at Evan with a frown. “No, I don’t give a shit about that, like, she can like whoever she wants, I don’t care, it’s whatever, or… oh my god, whatever,” Quentin rambled incessantly, waving his hands around him as if that would get his point across. He stopped though, and decided to throw his hands to the ground instead, where they tugged at the grass beneath his fingers. “It wasn’t fair for her—shit, she was scared to dump me, she had to rehearse what she was going to say, I heard her think about the specific words—”
“You couldn’t have done it for her earlier, if she was so scared?” Evan asked, raking a hand through his thick, curled hair.
Quentin’s face contorted at the words. “God, shut up, I just… I don’t. I didn’t know what to do.” He shrugged. His expression then softened with a sigh, leaning his head back against the tree. “I really liked her. I still do, I guess. Though now I have to learn how to… unlearn… feelings,” he sneered.
“You didn’t want to try to salvage the relationship or anything?”
Quentin’s lips parted to speak, but he slowly blinked and closed his mouth again and looked down for a moment. Evan didn’t dare break the silence.
“That… like I said, that wouldn’t be fair. I wouldn’t do that to her. I can’t—couldn’t. Wouldn’t feel right… I don’t know. Guess I didn’t try hard enough,” Quentin sighed, tilting his head away from Evan. “I feel bad about looking into her head. But I was just… really curious. She has other... romantic interests, I guess you could call it, anyway. Not that I’m surprised.”
Evan stared, surprise painting his face, trying to think of something nice to say. He was never really good with words.
“That’s a good thing to do.” And that was a stupid thing to say. Quentin looked at him weirdly, and before he was able to say anything, Evan spoke up again: “No, I mean. Like. That was a really kind thing for you to do, I think… Putting Idie before yourself. That’s good. It’s practically…” Evan paused, as he couldn’t help but snicker, “it’s heroic.”
Quentin groaned, a hand flying up and splaying across his face in false agony. “Now I feel even worse. I can’t believe you even laughed at me. Since when did you become the jerk?”
Evan laughed more freely now, letting himself do so at the sight at Quentin’s slight smirk that tugged at the corner of his lip despite him obviously trying to keep a straight face. “I wasn’t laughing at you! I was just laughing at… well...”
“At me because you’re a horrible little man,” Quentin said, his tone scornful, but the time he had spent with the telepath let Evan become familiar to Quentin’s odd humour.
They laughed, and Evan was extraordinarily glad to get him to laugh again. Though Quentin wasn’t usually that sort of stupidly happy, it was better than getting no emotion from him at all. Evan felt a swell of pride at that. Their shoulders brushed, and Evan’s breath hitched before spiraling into a last, small fit of giggles.
“Shut up,” Quentin demanded, shaking his head. They smiled at each other, and Quentin’s face turned soft. His blue eyes were stuck on Evan’s red for a few moments before he interrupted himself with a shrug, looking back at the school. “Thanks, jerk,” he said.
And that was it. The day Quentin broke up with Idie in the gardens, the beginning link of a chain of fantastic events occurred: Evan learned that Quentin really knew how to care.
Maybe he should have known long before, but something about the unexpected comfort in Quentin’s look somehow confirmed it.
They both sat back, leaning on the birch, watching the school just as a window exploded and flame erupted from the frame.
It was a beautifully calm day.