Sometimes You Have to Wait for People to Come to You
“You should eat something,” Gavin said.
Greg nodded, his fork in his food. “I’m not very hungry,” he said, quiet. He’d been quiet today. Something had upset him after the fitting yesterday, and he hadn’t come out of his room once. Today he’d come out a few times but wasn’t saying anything. He wouldn’t tell them what was wrong.
“We know,” said Owen. “But you didn’t eat at breakfast or lunch.”
Greg just nodded, and continued not to eat.
Gavin glanced at Owen, then looked back at Greg. “Greg, please at least eat a little bit, or we’re going to be up all night worrying about you.”
Greg’s fork stopped moving for just a second, but he nodded again. “Okay,” he said. He brought some food to his mouth and started eating, not looking up at any of them. Darby was watching him, looking like he might cry, but every time any of them had asked Greg what they could do, Greg had just told them he was fine.
After he’d eaten about half of what was on his plate, Greg put his fork down. “Is it okay if I go to bed?” he asked.
“Sure,” Gavin told him. Owen could tell he was trying not to sound upset. “Let us know if you need anything.”
Greg nodded. “Thank you,” he said, in most of a whisper. He got up. Darby got up with him, but Greg turned away from him and went first into the privy, and then after a minute into his dark bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
Darby sat back down, eyes rimmed with tears. What’s bothering him? Owen asked.
I don’t know, Darby said, shaking his head. I don’t know, but it’s all my fault. Black Sky scared him and I don’t know why. I shouldn’t have asked Greg to meet him. I shouldn’t have been friends with him. It’s all my fault.
Gavin moved chairs so he was sitting right on Darby’s other side. He touched Darby’s shoulder, and then said, It’s not your fault.
Yes it is, Darby insisted, looking away. He reached up and touched his tooth necklace, running a thumb down its length.
Owen got his attention. No, it isn’t, he said. People hurt Greg very badly before he met us. Lots of things scare him.
But I’m not supposed to be one of them!
You’re not. But it’s not your fault that you don’t know everything that he’s not going to like.
He probably didn’t know either, Gavin said, getting Darby to look at him again. Can you tell me what he doesn’t like?
He doesn’t like loud noises, Darby said immediately. Especially people shouting. He doesn’t like rats or bugs or being cold or turnips or when he thinks he made someone mad. He’s scared of big windows and people seeing him with his shirt off.
Gavin nodded. See, you’re really good at knowing what’s going to upset him. And did any of those things happen yesterday?
No. Darby looked even more upset as he admitted that.
So probably it was something new that upset him. If he’d known what it was going to be, he’d have told you, just like he told you all those other things.
Darby looked down at his empty plate, glaring at it. He stood up. I have to go pee, he said, heading into the privy. He shut the door behind him, which was how Owen knew he was still upset.
Owen sighed, looking at Greg’s door. “I don’t think guilting him into eating was the best idea.”
“I know, I felt bad about that,” Gavin muttered. He got up, taking his wineglass from the table. “I just didn’t know what else to say. He can’t starve himself.”
Owen nodded. “Yeah. Do you think this is one of those things we’re supposed to just stay out of and let them sort out on their own?” He followed Gavin across to the sitting area near the window.
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say without knowing what actually happened.” Gavin shook his head. “But we can’t force Greg to talk and I doubt Ray knows any more than Darby does what happened. I do think we probably just have to…wait until he feels better, eventually. You weren’t wrong just then. Greg’s been doing a lot better, but he’s not just going to forget about what happened to him. Us being good to him isn’t going to change what happened. It’s just the reality that sometimes he’s going to be upset. Darby can’t take it personally every time it happens.”
“Yeah,” Owen agreed. They sat down together, leaving a space between them. “He’s no better at giving someone their space than we are, though.”
“Yeah,” Gavin said, snorting. “It’s something all three of us can work on together, I guess.” Darby came out of the privy, and Gavin signed, Come here.
Darby came over, sat down on the other couch. His eyes were red. I’m tired, he said. Can I just go to bed too?
Sure, said Gavin. But Owen and I want to ask you about something first. They did?
What? Darby asked, looking glum.
Did you know that the name everyone calls you isn’t the same as the name you call yourself?
Owen blinked. He and Gavin had talked about this on the way back from the fitting yesterday. Apparently Gavin and Franz had had a similar conversation to the one Owen had had with Hiccup. But since Darby and Greg were both so upset, it seemed like a weird time to talk about it.
Darby obviously thought so too, looking a little confused. Yes, I know that, he said. It doesn’t matter.
Of course it matters. We should call you by your name.
Darby shrugged. You do. I don’t care what you call me when you’re talking to each other.
He wasn’t wrong. Owen had gotten so used to Darby’s way of signing names that he’d started using them not only for Darby but for everyone. So you knew we were calling you something else, then? Owen asked.
Darby nodded. Pax told me when we were on the boat. He asked me if I wanted him to tell you about it. He didn’t tell you, right? He said he could keep secrets.
He didn’t tell us, Owen promised, wondering why it had been a secret. So he asked. Why was it a secret?
Darby blushed a little, shifting on his couch. I wanted you to like me. I didn’t want you to get mad.
We wouldn’t have.
I know. Darby shrugged. His tail was wagging, and Owen thought he got why Gavin had done this now. They’d given him something else to think about. I didn’t know then.
Okay, said Gavin. He smiled. We’re going to start calling you by your real name when we talk to each other, too.
Okay. It doesn’t matter.
Yes it does. Because we love you. The real you, not a pretend you that we made up.
Darby’s—Grey Rain’s—ears went flat at that and he looked away for a second, trying not to look pleased and utterly failing. Should I learn to sign your guys’s names the way you want too?
If you want, Owen told him. But you don’t have to. You gave us all cool werewolf names so you wouldn’t be by yourself, right? So you could have a pack?
I guess so, Grey Rain said, signing fast and barely moving his hands out of his lap. I didn’t really think about it, I just did it. He blinked. I guess that means you’re going to tell me not to go to bed early?
Gavin chuckled. Yes. I know you’re upset that Greg is alone, but I don’t think you being by yourself too is helping either of you.
Grey Rain sighed, slouching. I just wish I knew what I could do to make him feel better, he said, despondent.
Sometimes you just have to wait for people to feel better, Owen said. And make sure you’re there so they know you care about them.
Owen could tell Grey Rain hated that, which he also did. But Gavin was right. That was all they could do. So they pulled him over to their couch to sit between them, though he ended up in Owen’s lap not even an hour later. They spent a quiet night in that night, and Owen hoped that Greg knew they were there for when he was ready to join them again.