I just watched Darran for a minute or so. He hated himself when it happened, when he became the thing he hated the most. He hadn't moved and, knowing Darran, he wasn't planning to.
"What did Riley do?" I asked.
"He didn't do anything. It was something he said." Void of all emotion, his voice slithered heartlessly through the air.
"Okay then, what did he say?"
"He made some remark about Ava and Violet."
"It wasn't exactly what he said, more how he meant it. There's something I need to tell you, Ace." His eyes flickering up to me, I saw pain in his face.
"Okay, what is it?" I asked. How bad could it be?
Taking a deep breath, Darran prepared himself. "I... I'm gay."
Time for a double take. "Sorry, what? You're gay?" He nodded slowly. "And so what?"
"But... You don't hate me?" he asked, shocked that I'd not reacted in the way he'd imagined.
"Why would I hate you? You're still Darran, and my best friend."
I slid aside the bolt on the cell door, making Darran flinch. I stepped inside and pushed the door to. Sitting down beside him, I playfully punched his arm lightly.
"While we're being truthful, I have something I need to tell you. I should have told a long time ago but I was the only one who knew and I thought it needed to stay that way. But you're my best friend, so no more secrets. Nas and I are Imprinted," I admitted.
"No..." he murmured, staring at me disbelievingly.
"But... why did you break up then? And why are you going out with Zoe?" Darran asked.
"I don't know and because I love her."
"Ace," Darran started, "an Imprint is stronger than love could ever be, you know that."
"I do know that, but I can't just leave Zoe."
"Then why don't you stay away from Nas?"
"Then break the Imprint," he said simply.
"It would kill us both, Darran."
"It's that strong?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Wow. Then... I've no idea. Do you still love Nas?"
"I didn't even know that I loved her, for the whole six years we were together. I did though. I do."
"Well, I'm sure Zoe would understand if you left her for Nas, if you explained the whole Imprint situation."
"She'd just think it was some lie I was concocting so I could be with Nas."
"Then get support from other people as well."
"There's nobody else with an Imprint. Not alive at least."
"Yeah, well, enough about me. So, you're gay. How long have you known?"
He cringed at my question. "16 years."
"No way. How have you kept it to yourself for that long?"
He shrugged and looked down at his hands. "Don't know. It's been hard. No more secrets."
"No more secrets," I agreed, smiling. "Now, I need to go to the caves. Are you coming?"
He burst out laughing at my utterly stupid question. "Fat chance!"
I rolled my eyes and got up.
"Are you staying in here?"
Darran nodded. "I need to be on my own for a little bit."
I nodded and left, heading to the caves at last.