Wylan pressed himself against the wall. Hoping that Kaz wouldn't see him and just turn around.
The tapping of the cane got louder and louder, which made Wylan's anxiety grow. When the tapping seemed to be just inches away, he closed his eyes and turned his face away.
Waiting, with panic rising in his chest.
The tapping stopped.
"I knew it!", Kaz's voice declared proudly. "Still as obvious as always, aren't you?"
Wylan didn't answer. He opened his eyes, turned his face to the ground and didn't answer the older teen.
"We are pretty far away from the Slat. I didn't know you could run this fast! I always knew it was a good idea to put you on the Dregs."
Wylan still wouldn't say anything. He registered what Kaz said and his heart swelled with pride, because the person he looked up to praised him.
That still didn't stop the tears gathering in his eyes. He felt a hand on his shoulder. A bare one.
"Let's go back to the Slat."
Wylan's eyes shot open and in an instant, he was on his feet. "No!"
The Barrel Boss raised an eyebrow. "Ah, so you can still talk."
Wylan felt his cheeks growing hot, he looked at the ground again.
"I don't want to go back.", he mumbled under his breath.
"And why, in Ghezen's name, is that?"
Suddenly there were tears gathering in the blue eyes and before he knew dit, he was sobbing. Sobbing and full on crying.
Great. So first you have to embarrass yourself in front of the whole team and now you're crying like a little kid!
It had happened before, but it was still unexpected when Kaz pulled him closer and gave him a hug.
Startled, Wylan stopped crying for a moment, he could feel one of Kaz's hands running through his hair.
"It's alright. Calm down and then we will talk. We have time.", soothed the raspy voice.
And for the next minutes, Wylan Van Eck was crying his eyes out on Kaz Brekker's shoulder.
After the crying stopped, Wylan lay his head onto the shoulder, Kaz gently running circles on his back.
"So, can you talk?", was the gentle question.
Wylan nodded. "Y-yeah."
"Good", Kaz replied. "Now, why don't you want to come to the Slat?"
The younger teen blushed. "I - I thought you g - guys would no - not like me a-a-anymore..."
Wylan could feel Kaz tense up.
"That's stupid. Why would we stop liking you?"
"Because I called you...", he trailed of.
Kaz cleared his throat.
"Right, I wanted to talk to you about that."
Wylan made a little noise in the back of his throat.
Suddenly Kaz's voice sounded stern. But not the stern he used when he ordered the Dregs around, it was...gentler. By no means did sound like he would give you a cookie later on, but he didn't sound like he was going to push his cane through your skull.
(he would do that, let's face it)
"Don't you start protesting! This conversation is long overdue as it is and we're having it, whether you like it or not."
Wylan's brow furrowed.
" 'Long overdue' ", he whispered.
Kaz had the faintest smirk on his lips. "Don't tell me you thought you could lie to me? Besides, you are like an open book. It wasn't hard to figure out that you seemed to have taken me as a...role model."
Wylan blushed and buried his face in the elder's shoulder.
"Yes, yes. You're embarrassed. Moving on!", Kaz sighed. "Why - of all people in the world - did you choose me as your role model?"
"Um...", Wylan turned his head. "I guess that - I mean because...I think-"
"Easy. We have time, gather your thoughts, than speak.", the raspy voice soothed.
The redhead took a deep breath and thought. Why do I look up to Kaz?
He repeated the question in his mind until he had a satisfying answer.
"It's because...no matter how much of a screw up I am, you never give up on me. You comfort me when I feel bad, you try to keep me out of harm's way as good as possible for a Dreg...you - you act like my father did when I was little...how he acted like before...", he trailed of.
"But even though - even though you knew...you know...you still protect me an-and take care of me. You just do everything a parent would do for their normal child.", he stared at the floor. The only sounds in the alley, were his labored breathing and Kaz's sigh.
Wylan felt like he knew what was about to happen. Like this had been the last straw for Kaz to turn his back on him and leave. Disgusted.
Instead, he felt two fingers under his chin, lifting it so his blue eyes met coffee brown one's. Wylan stared into them, looking for a sign of disgust. Hardness. The typical blanknes.
But all he saw was...guilt. And...dare he say pity?
Kaz's voice was quiet, but it still echoed loudly through the empty alley.
"You are normal, do you hear me? Not being able to do something doesn't make you any less important than any other human on earth. Jan Van Eck was an idiot for kicking you out. And an even bigger one for trying to get you back."
Dirtyhands sighed. "I have to confess, I was shocked when you called me 'Dad' ", Wylan blushed furiously and tried to look away, but Kaz wouldn't let him. "But I was more saddened by the fact, that instead of you coming to me and telling me about how you feel. I know I don't seem like the type of person who would try to help with all this emotional stuff, and I really m not, but we have talked about sentimal topics more than once so you should have known how I would have taken it."
The look in the dark eyes hardened, just a little.
"You and I both know that I am nog even three years older than you, but you still think me responsible enough to be role model?"
Wylan stared at him. "You can keep a whole gang in check, are not in jail even though everyone knows your face and you're the most feared person in Kerch, you make more money than you loose with our missions that could put us in Hellgate and", he grinned a little. "You manage to put up with us five dumbasses even when we don't listen to you and keep giving you a headache."
Kaz blinked. "That is...rather impressive.", he shook his head. "I knew that."
Wylan shrugged. "You are impressive! You do so many things and live when others would die and get away with it! And then you're able to handle this gang and the Crows who bug you to no end and you still keep calm! And you do so many things for me even though I'm just some kicked out, screw-"
Kaz tapped his cane on the floor, making Wylan stop talking. "If I were you, I wouldn't finish that sentence."
Kaz turned Wylan a little and through an arm around the boy's shoulders.
"Van Eck might have made you belive those things, but they aren't true! And you will not believe them any longer.", he made it sound like an order. Which it probably was. "You are perfect the way you are. So what? You can't read or write, where's the problem? You can do other things! For example, you are an amazing chemist and can build almost anything with the few things you have-"
"Yeah, but that's it. I'm a chemist, there are lots of those, but I can't do anything else.", Wylan muttered.
Kaz glared at the sky, silently praying that Jan got hit with a frying pan, then he rolled his eyes.
"That's not true either. I know something only you achieved so far."
Wide blue eyes stared at him in confusion.
And Kaz let a smile slip. A real smile.
"You managed to get into the hearts of five of the most dangerous criminals. You got one to be your boyfriend-", cue, blushing. "-and another as a...father figure."
And Wylan grinned, the blush growing stronger.
So he's not mad.
"Do you want to go back to the Slat now, son?", was the casual question.
With tears of joy in his eyes, Wylan dragged Kaz forward.
"Yeah, let's go...Dad."
With waves of relief crashing over him, Wylan realized that he had final done. Finally, he seemed to have gotten away from the past.