Neven chuckled once Dustin remembered him, and about just what he had decided to remember. “Yup, that’s me. Nerd with insane grades.” He felt a little awkward about it, but it really was a badge he wore with pride, so he didn’t let his sellf-consciousness show through. At least he tried not to. It didn’t stop him from starting to fidget a little in the doorway. 

‘Uh, what am I doing here? Not stalking you, I promise.’

He let out a pretty unflattering laugh at Dustin’s words, and before he could stop himself, he was speaking. “Good, because I already have a boyfriend.” Whoa. Hold the phone. Back up. Be kind, rewind. What did he just say? Was Reza his boyfriend? Were they actually at that stage yet? The words had slipped so easily out of Neven’s mouth without him even thinking. No hesitation at all. That was…a good sign? Right?

Then Dustin started talking about why he was really there, and Neven shook his head quickly. “Oh no, I’m not the fortune teller. That’s my mom.” He wanted to fill Dustin in on the truth that his mom was pretty much a big sham, but something on the boy’s face spoke of silent desperation. For what exactly, he wasn’t sure. Answers? Validation? Usually his mother’s ‘readings’ did more good than they did harm, so what was the worst that could happen? From behind Neven, his mother’s voice floated toward the door. 

“You don’t need an appointment, child. Please, come in. I have many things to tell you.” 

Neven had to resist the urge to roll his eyes or crack a smile when he turned around to see his mom in the full fortune teller getup. He opened the door and let Dustin enter, guiding him toward the converted den his mom used as the set piece of her ‘performance art’. She sat at the table, complete with crystal ball and a deck of tarot cards, among other things, and gestured for Dustin to join her. Neven hung back by the doorway, leaning against it and crossing his arms with a knowing smirk on his face, now that Dustin’s back was to him. 

“What’s troubling you, son? I see a burden weighing down on your soul.”

“Uh,” Dustin was rendered a little speechless
by Neven’s words. He hadn’t even meant stalking like that, in that being-way-into-someone
way. He’d meant it in the creepy-stalker way. “That’s good?” he continued, a
little flustered. Why did the other boy decide to share that totally random bit
of information? Did he think that Dustin was gay and would hit on him? Was
there something about him that sort of told him which gender(s) he might be
attracted to? Was it obvious from looking at him? (Maybe he should ask about
his own sexuality during the reading. That could only be useful, right? Make
things clearer for him?) Did Neven think he would be into him and if yes, why?
Okay, so the other guy was kind of cute, but that didn’t mean anything – and where
the hell had that first thought come from?

no, I’m not the fortune teller. That’s my mom.

Dustin nodded along to his words. That made
total sense. Neven really didn’t fit the picture of a fortune teller he had in
his mind. He was way too nerdy and not mysterious enough. He was simply lacking
that Trelawney factor, the one that made you seem like a mixture of completely wacky
and being the one to speak the prophecy foreseeing the end of the universe.

Speaking of the devil. The women who
suddenly appeared behind Neven in the doorway fit his mental imagine far too
well, it almost made him uncomfortable, but he made his way into the house
nonetheless. He knew that he should have felt sceptical seeing both the crystal
ball and tarot cards and the rest of the interior, but he simply couldn’t bring
it to judge this person. Maybe this was all real. If werewolves and ghosts were
real, who said that a mysterious woman couldn’t read his future from a crystal

“Um,” Dustin started, not quite sure what
to say. How to explain his problem. “I need to know if I am myself?” he finally
said, his sentence coming out more like a question than a statement. “Like, I
need to know if something is screwing with my head. I keep- there’s these
things I see. Like memories, things that happened to me. Except I know that
they never happened, even though it feels like they did. It’s confusing. And
um,” he briefly glanced up towards Neven, then back at the boy’s mother. “I
keep doing weird stuff. Like, I randomly started calling people whose number I
didn’t even know. And I didn’t even realise how many people I had been calling
until we got the phone bill. So I- I need to know what’s going on inside my


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