Hold On (Shut Up)

Southeast Portland 
 His actions weren't just admirable; they were necessary. Cordelia was soft; she was susceptible. To what? To everything. Especially to mysterious men with immaculate hair and a broken limb, those who seemed to plead "help me, pay attention to me" with every blink.

 His sister couldn't help herself. She'd focus on anything that would give her reason to distance herself from her problems: her cracks, fissures, and shortcomings. What was Squall's angle? They had neither money nor prestige. Maybe he just wanted a bit of pussy, and Connor had no doubt Cordelia would offer hers up to anyone who so much as blinked in her direction.

 Desperate. Zero standards.

 "This is my plan," he snapped, adding emphasis with a well-aimed spear of pancake. "Confront you. Stop you from making another move her way. It's for her own good, you know."

 "Okay," he followed along with a knowing nod. As his irritation grew, so dropped his temperature. The terse man gradually became more robotic and calculating, and as his lock-jawed observations settled on a single tone. "You confronted me. I refused. Now what?" Squall dropped his dark eyes to the fork presented between them, and considered its pointed ends. Not lethal: disappointing.

 "Now I—"


 To be honest, Connor hadn't anticipated going this far. He figured showing up at the diner and telling Squall off was a ballsy-enough move. If the guy were as smart as he looked, he wouldn't push it. He'd listen to Connor. He'd leave Cordelia alone, and he'd scram.

 Perhaps he'd been underestimated.

 Following Squall's sharp gaze, Connor tightened his grip around the fork. Syrup clung to its spears and dripped meekly onto the countertop.

 "Now, I threaten you. You don't want to mess with my family, Reynard."

 "Threaten me with what?" Use of his Christian name crawls under his skin more effectively than Connor could have worked the fork in him. His façade wavered just in the slightest, like a front line of pike men adjusting their spears from standby to thrust forward, ready to meet the charge.
 Part of him hoped Connor would step over the line. Part of him wished he was the kind of officer who let his mood determine his enforcement of the law. This punk deserved to get arrested, and scared. It would probably do him some good. As satisfying as the fantasy is, his face falls further in recognition of his inability to do those things—perhaps a bolder, more righteous Squall could have, but not he.

 There is was: a falter. The tiniest of breaks in his ever-so-carefully crafted composure.

 Encouraged, Connor's thin, narrow chest swelled. He smirked as his gaze dropped down to his mostly-devoured plate. Like he had a secret. Like he knew something Squall didn't. Which, of course, was utter bullshit. But fuck did it felt good.

 Pushing around the few remaining squares of pancakes and French toast, Connor gave a theatrical shrug. With a metallic screech, the fork prongs dragged them across the syrup-covered ceramic.

 "Well, you've already got one arm out of commission, so I'd hate to take another. But sometimes there's not a choice in the matter," he sighed dramatically, jutting his chin out towards the fiberglass cast. "Damn, man. Who aren't you pissing off?"

 "Well that tears it." He has to end the conversation at some point, and the scratch of fork against plate is as good of a signal as any. Squall reluctantly pulls himself from the bar stool and fishes for his wallet to lay bills out on the table. The process is slowed with a lack of helpful fingers, but he’s deliberate and methodical.
  These are actionable threats now, and as much as he’d partially wished for excuses to exert his authority, he knows it’s wrong: petty pride propels pitiful plans.
 "Good talk," he mutters dryly.

 Around a sticky mouthful of pancake, Connor shrugged. See? He could be the definition of blasé when he wanted to be, and seeing Squall prepare for an early departure fueled him for exactly that.

 "Keep me in mind, Reynard," he all but purred, turning back to his plate. A thick, glistening drop of syrup pooled in the slight indentation about his chin. "Keep me in mind next time you even think about hitting up my sister."

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