One of the kids and their first crush.
A/N: Set in the same universe as this and this (I’m gonna make a masterlist soon I swear), Cal (18) finds himself in a weird situation and doesn’t know how to handle things. I introduced Elucien babies in this one, everyone else will come by later on and very slowly I’m gonna introduce every other child.
If you’re new, this is a next gen collection of one shots, for now only about Nessian kids specifically. In this one, Ezra is 22, Cal is 18 and even tho they don’t appear, Nora is 13, Celia is 12 and Andra is 10. Nate and Theo are 17.
Send prompts about whoever you’d like to read more about and also very slowly I’m gonna give yall every single one of those:)
Word count: 3,432
Cal brought his hands to his hair, "Oh my god, what's wrong with me?"
Theo, leaning against the car next to him, chuckled, "In my opinion the correct question would be what isn't wrong with me- Ouch." the boy turned to his twin, "Why did you hit me?"
"Because you're being a dick," Nate replied, glaring at him, "Stop talking shit."
"Why did I agree to this?" asked Cal shocked, looking up from the road and shifting his gaze from one cousin to the other. Two pairs of brown eyes locked onto him and then, in a synchronized motion that never failed to make Cal cringe, the twins shrugged.
Theodore and Nathaniel Vanserra were two of the most handsome boys in all of VHS. They both had the natural grace of the Archeron sisters that all cousins in the family shared, but their father's beauty that they had acquired over the years was one that made it easy to hate them with just one look. It was humanly impossible that such beautiful people could exist.
"Because you like her and want to date her, maybe?" asked Nate sarcastically.
Theo threw him a look, "Who's being an asshole now?"
Nate huffed then turned back to Cal, "Listen to me," he took him by the shoulders, getting so close to his face that for a second he was afraid he was going to kiss him, "You've been drooling over Rania for months. Months, Cal. And she finally made the first move because you were too chicken to step up."
"Chicken?" laughed Theo beside them.
Nate closed his eyes taking a deep breath, deciding to ignore his brother, "She asked you out. You accepted. You're going on a date." he shook his head confused, leaning even more towards him, "What's wrong with that?"
Cal looked at him wide-eyed, imagining Rania's crystal eyes sparkling with excitement at the prospect of going to dinner with him, so different from the rust brown, almost red ones that were staring back at him. "Nothing, it all adds up," then he cleared his throat, "Shouldn't you be home by now?"
"What time is it?" asked Nate taking two steps back. Cal felt the air return to his lungs and he sagged against the door of his car. Well, his and Ezra's car.
Theo cursed checking the time on his phone, "Shit it's almost three."
Nate nearly broke his neck as he lunged to grab his backpack on the ground and then started running in the direction of their house, yelling a simple hello to Cal and for his brother to hurry up. Theo's eyes went wide, snorting with an amused grimace on his face.
Cal huffed out a laugh, "It's not three o'clock is it?"
Theo shook his head, with a lopsided smile too similar to his father's, "Not even close." then turned to his cousin and threw him a flying kiss, starting to walk after Nate. "Call me if you need any advice on what to wear."
Cal gave a thumbs up and then slipped into the car.
It didn't take him more than ten minutes before he arrived home, but once he parked his car next to his mom's, he sighed.
He needed to talk to his dad.
Cassian would certainly know how to handle this situation better than he was doing.
The front door burst open and a distraught Ezra, visibly in a hurry, opened the driver's door, grabbing his brother by the shoulder and pulling him out of the car.
"Ezra!" shrieked Cal with wide eyes, "What the fuck!"
"You're late." the eldest pointed out to him, then tossed him his backpack with a stern look, "Here."
"Sorry." Cal murmured, then pushed his hair out of his face, "I got stuck with Theo and Nate, I didn't notice the time."
Ezra stopped the frantic movements, looking at him worriedly all of a sudden, "Are you okay?"
Cal nodded, licking his lower lip, "Just Raina."
"Oh." murmured Ezra, "We can talk about her tonight when I get back if you want." he smiled at him, then seemed to remember that he was running late and Cal didn't have time to correct him and tell him that the problem was the exact opposite of what he thought that Ezra was already backing up.
The silence that greeted him in the house was unsettling.
"Hello?" he asked loudly enough for anyone to hear.
"In the kitchen!"
Cal smiled and kicked off his shoes before following the smell of lunch.
Nesta was perched on one of the island stools as she munched on a cereal bar. "Hi dear." she looked up from her book to smile at her son, but turned serious, "What happened?"
Cal dropped his head back, huffing, "Am I a fucking open book?"
Nesta frowned, "No swearing."
"I don't see Andra here." he glanced around him opening his arms.
"I don't care, I don't want you to say them." and before he could retort, "And in this case you could have just as easily said I'm an open book without the need to shove fucking in it." she pointed out to him.
Cal nodded, knowing full well how pointless it was to engage in this conversation again. He pointed to the table set just for him, "You're not eating?" then arched an eyebrow, "Where is everyone?"
"I ate with Nora and Celia and then took them to practice. Andra is at school like she is every Wednesday." she got up too and sat down across from him at the table, closing her book and resting her chin on one hand, she asked, "So, what do you have?"
Cal took a bite, "Dad?" he asked with a full mouth, avoiding his mom's gaze.
"At work." then she huffed, "You failed a test?" guessed the woman.
Cal laughed, "Like that's even possible."
"Did you get in a fight with Theo and Nate?"
"I don't think that's possible either," he replied in a small voice.
"Cal," his mother's hand rested on his. He was forced to look at her and sighed, seeing the concern in Nesta's eyes, "Are you okay?"
He nodded. Evidently with not enough conviction because the woman in front of him bit her lip down thoughtfully.
"If you want I can call Dad and ask him to come home early," she offered, "If you want to talk to him, I mean," then continued, "You know he'd be here in three seconds."
Cal nodded again, knowing full well that his father would rush home even risking an accident if he knew one of his children was feeling down. Setting his fork down next to his plate he brought his hands to his face. He hated his mother when she did that.
He looked her straight in the eye as he told her so.
Nesta looked even more concerned, "I'm sorry," she told him, probably feeling guilty for pushing him too hard to talk, "if you want I'll leave."
"Nono," the boy replied promptly, then grimaced, closing his eyes. He grunted before muttering, "Raina asked me out."
He doubted his mother knew who he was talking about, but it didn't take a genius to figure out it was the girl he liked.
The room filled with an awkward silence.
"Ah." was Nesta's only response.
Cal resumed eating, his head down, "And I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean?"
"I've never really liked anyone before," he said, "and Raina is...she's special."
He smiled, thinking of the billions of braids she so proudly wore every day in a different hairstyle.
"Did you say no?" asked Nesta. Cal felt her curiosity even without the need to look at her.
He shook his head, "I said yes," he confessed, "but I need dad to tell me how to act. I don't have a clue what to do. Where to take her, how to dress, whether I should text her first. All that shit there- sorry." he smiled mischievously when Nesta bounced him again and hoped he'd taken her mind off the real problem.
"And how come," she began, "I can't be the one helping you?"
Cal looked at her at that point, "Because you're not a people person." he pointed out, "Dad managed to win your heart, it won't be that hard for him to give me advice on how to win Raina's." he took a sip of water, "When I think about it, dad and Raina have a very similar personality. " he shrugged, "So he can tell me what he likes and I can do it for her." he nodded as if he had discovered the Holy Grail, but that sly grimace disappeared from his face when he saw his mother's expression.
She sighed, her eyebrows so high they almost touched her hairline, "Dear, that's the dumbest thing you've ever said in your entire life." she told him in amazement.
Cal opened his mouth wide, offended, "Mom-"
Nesta raised a hand to stop him, "Let me talk."
He nodded once.
"First, answer these simple questions," she began, "What were you going to do about it this afternoon?"
"Ask her if she was okay with Friday night to go out." he said without hesitation.
"Good." she smiled at him for half a second, quickly becoming serious again, "And where would you like to take her?"
Cal tilted his head to the side, not understanding where this was going, "Why are you-"
"I was thinking of taking her to the diner, to Ben's," he replied, unsure of his choice, as a faint blush made its way across his cheeks.
"Perfect." she gave him the thumbs up, "And since it's a diner, you'll just need to wear simple jeans and a t-shirt, or am I wrong? Nothing too fancy or flamboyant."
The boy huffed, irritated that his mother was giving him all logical answers to his senseless and fake concerns. "Okay, and your point?" he asked, scratching his forehead.
Nesta smiled at that, "My point is that these aren't your real problems and you're scared of all kinds of other stuff."
"I really don't like talking to you about this stuff." he muttered, folding his arms across his chest. They both knew that wasn't entirely true. They both knew that if either of them were really uncomfortable, they wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise.
"Yeah I didn't either." scoffed his mother, "But I would have liked someone to tell me that it was normal for me to feel all those emotions the first time I met your father."
"You don't have a problem with setting up a fancy date," she told him, "I raised you teaching you what respect and kindness is and if I failed, then dad took care of it. Because both you and your brother are golden boys and you'll never have to worry about not being offering enough." Nesta looked away, "But while your brother can... handle?" she asked no one in particular, searching for the right term, "His emotions relatively well, you're like me." then she giggled and Cal knew they were navigating waters his mother didn't particularly like to touch, "And I'm a mess when figuring out how I feel."
Cal knew what she meant, so he nodded.
She was right.
Talking to the twins about what was really bothering him had never even been an option. The idea of having to tell them how much he actually liked Raina had been more terrifying than the emotions themselves. He knew they wouldn't understand and would wait until it was socially acceptable for him to tell Raina directly how he felt without scaring her off.
"How about you finish eating and then we'll go for a walk along the river?" his mom suggested, "Or do you have to study?"
Cal shook his head, smiling shyly at her, "I'll finish eating and we'll go." then he took to gorging himself.
Nesta chuckled as she went to get ready to go out.
"When Dad asked me out the second time, right after our first date, I said no," Nesta said, looking across the river to the other side, where a couple of older poeple were walking slowly arm in arm.
They had paced for a half hour, in which Cal had told her about how they had met in the coffee shop in front of the school almost four months earlier and how she had offered him hot chocolate. How they had spent a whole day talking about everything and nothing, and how they now had an ongoing obligation to meet at least once a week in the same cafeteria, even though they ate at the same table every day with all their other friends.
Nesta had asked to see a picture of her, and Cal had been surprised to find out that he wanted his mother to like Raina more than anything else at that moment. Luckily, Nesta had been speechless and commented on the girl's silvery eyes, blinking a couple of times before giving him the phone back and commenting with a simple, "She's beautiful."
Now, sitting on a bench along the bank of the Sidra, Nesta was telling him about the days when Cassian had had to struggle to make her his.
"How come?" he asked genuinely curious.
Nesta smiled, lowering her gaze to the wedding band around her ring finger, "Because I liked the first date too much."
Cal furrowed his brow, "Were you afraid the second one wouldn't measure up?"
"No," she murmured, casting him a glance, "I knew perfectly well it would be better than the first."
"So why did you say no?" the boy asked impatiently.
"I knew that the second one would be better than the first one and that the third one would be better than the second one and so on and I was already so overwhelmed with my feelings that I was afraid it might become too much." she explained, "Your father was the first one to get close after so many years of me having my bad friendships and relationships." she frowned.
"If you don't want to talk about it, you don't have to," he made a point of reminding her. He wanted to be helped and would have liked to know more about his parents' lives before them, but he didn't want his mother to feel compelled to share things with him that still bothered her.
Nesta squeezed his hand lovingly, "Don't worry, those things are in the past and I have nothing to be ashamed of." she smiled at him, "I was with someone else before your dad and that man kinda ruined my life. I thought I would never be able to trust anyone in the future again. That I would never again feel the love and affection I had felt for him." she huffed out a laugh. She brought both hands to her lap and Cal shoved them into his pocket. "Then your father came along and it was all so sudden and I fell in love right away, hard. Completely lost for a boy I barely knew. And it scared the hell out of me."
"Why?" Cal already knew the answer, it was what he felt every time he saw Raina walking down the halls of the school. Every time she bit into a piece of bread in the lunch room and then made a disgusted face at how awful the food tasted.
"Because I could only imagine how much it would hurt if it ended suddenly. If I felt everything so strong in the good, it would be just as strong in the bad, you know?" she turned to him, more serious than ever.
Cal just nodded.
"Your father was hurt by it," she confessed. She began to play with her wedding ring, "He was so hurt, god." she giggled, probably thinking about the night she had rejected him, "He stood in silence for minutes on the front porch of my house gasping, thinking about all the possible things he had done wrong during dinner and the aftermath and we looked at each other and looked at each other until he asked me why and I couldn't tell him. He wouldn't have understood. Or he would have thought I was crazy."
The boy chuckled as he stared out at the glistening water under Velaris' winter sun, imagining his parents as kids, dressed up for a date. "How come you finally agreed to it?" he asked, later specifying, "To go on a second date I mean."
Nesta seemed to ponder how to phrase it, "Because I loved him."
Cal gave her time to process the words. If it was even half as difficult for her as it was for him, he needed to let her speak for herself.
"Because I realized that such a strong emotion, even if it was sudden and all at once, could only be a good thing. That even if it ended badly, I would have the memory of those happy, carefree moments." she nodded thoughtlessly. "I realized that something like that had to be reciprocal. A connection with a person like I had never felt before, not even with Tomas - who I believed to be the love of my life for years."
"I'm glad he wasn't," Cal murmured, chuckling.
Nesta gave him a light shrug, "Me too." then continued. "I knew your father wouldn't give up on me as easily as I was giving up on him. So after the thousandth time he asked me why I couldn't go out with him, I agreed and every time, every damn time, my heart gave out a little more.
"And I got to a point where I had nothing left to give, because he had everything about me. And I was okay with that. I was risking losing myself in what could easily have been a summer fling, but I knew it was worth it.
"Thankfully, it wasn't. Thankfully I trusted my feelings and kept fighting for what I wanted and even though sometimes your dad and I hit bumps along the way, it's still worth it. Every day."
Cal was watching her carefully.
Nesta often told her children that she loved them. He had heard her say I love you to their father many times, but never, never had he heard her speak in that open way, that vulnerable. She must have realized it too, because she took a deep breath, as if she had forgotten to breathe until that moment. Then she turned to him and put a hand on his face. Cal leaned into that touch.
"I just want you to know that you're not alone. That I feel that way too, right away. And I can assure you that if Raina is the right person for you, then she'll understand that too. Maybe it won't be the same for her, maybe it will take her longer to get to where you think you are now, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love you the same way." her eyes grew watery. "And never, ever be afraid that you're giving too much. There's no such thing as too much when it comes to love. Not in these cases."
Cal nodded, not sure he would be able to speak if he tried, but he knew his mother could see the gratitude in his eyes.
He couldn't imagine how his father must have felt when Nesta had confessed his true feelings to him. Cal was sure that the love she reserved for her children was different from the love she reserved for her husband, but certainly not weaker, not in smaller amounts. Just different.
"I know it's scary dear, but trust me when I tell you that feeling emotions so hard will bring you the best memories you'll ever make," she finally whispered.
Cal cleared his throat, not quite sure whether to be calmer or more agitated than before, but he said anyway, "Thanks mom."
Nesta turned to the snow-capped mountains that were visible above the town, "No problem."
They stood watching the river sparkle for too many minutes, but when they got up, Cal hugged his mother so tightly that Nesta was stunned.
They were used to exchanging kisses and hugs in their family, but she felt this was different.
She wrapped her arms around her son, despite the fact that he was much taller than her, and they rocked each other as the boy tried to bring order to the mess that was his head.
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