|Footsteps of a Ghost
Author: velefried PM
After losing his parents in a car crash, Ty moves in with a cousin he's never met and tries to piece his life back together. Of course there will be bumps along the way, but it would be easier if Adrian knew the concept of personal space. Slash, IncestRated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - Chapters: 5 - Words: 21,316 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 12-20-12 - Published: 11-29-11 - id: 2975328
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: After much contemplation, I have decided to post this story on FictionPress as my first and see how things go. I began writing this for NaNoWriMo 2011, and after winning, I decided I'd like to try and finish the story. I appreciate all and any comments, especially ones aimed at helping me fix my plot holes and making my story more interesting in general. Thanks for looking!
Warnings: This story contains mature themes including but not limited to: death, depression, drugs and alcohol, violence, homosexuality, and incest. I understand it is not everybody's cup of tea and do not blame anyone who clicks the back button.
Numbness. The world around me was completely numb.
The first sense to awaken was sound. It started as a blur, but slowly became more focused. I could hear the clacking of metal, a gentle humming, and a steady beep. As the sounds sharpened and increased in volume, I realized I had woken up.
My eyes cracked open. The world in front of me was a complete blur.
I flexed my fingers and blinked my eyes several times. I was lying on top of a stiff bed. A thin, white sheet offered little insulation to my body. My mouth was dry.
As my eyes focused, I could see people bustling back and forth in the hallway through the window to my room. Voices chattered. I blinked some more and noticed from the corner of my eye there was another person in the room. I slowly turned my head to see a fit nurse busying herself with equipment in the back of the room. She had curly blonde hair with bits of grey peeking out at her roots and above her ears.
She noticed me. A sad smile spread over her face and she strode to the side of the bed. Her eyes met mine.
"Mr. Beaumont? How are you feeling?"
I couldn't speak just yet. I looked back to the front of the room and watched the hallway again. Seeming to understand, she set a thin, metal tray over the bed and placed a glass of water on it.
"Once you've gotten comfortable, Dr. Calhoun would like to see you." I nodded. Or, at least, tried to. The nurse smiled, wrinkles pulling at the edges of her eyes, and quietly left the room.
Sound, check. Sight, check. Touch, getting there. Not so sure about taste and smell, but they were less critical senses; I wasn't worried. Mental capacity was still on the low end. I had figured out where I was, but it didn't even occur to me to try and think about the why or how.
For now, I decided I would focus on waking up and drinking the water in front of me. My throat was parched enough to make the effort worth it. I had regained enough control of my arm to lift it up, good. Just have to get it out from under the sheet so I can grab the glass.
It took a bit of maneuvering move my arm enough to slip it out from the sad excuse for a blanket. As I reached my hand up to the glass, I could feel my face go white and my heart skipped a beat.
Bandages? Why were there bandages covering my arm?
Suddenly, I didn't seem quite as interested in the glass in front of me as I was just a moment ago. Now, the why mattered. Why was I in the hospital with my arms bandaged up, my body feeling as if I've just woken up from a coma?
As if on cue, the nurse from earlier walked back to the room, a short woman with thick-framed glasses and dark hair pulled into a tight bun closely behind her. They were chatting quietly to each other, but stopped abruptly as they entered the room.
I lowered my hand to the bed and stared hard at the women.
"Mr. Beaumont? Are you awake now?" The nurse from before spoke, and I nodded. Neither spoke as they looked at each other.
"What's going on?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper. I had tried to sound intimidating, but was far from it. I would have laughed at how my voice cracked if the situation didn't feel so tense and serious.
If I had known what the answer to that question would be, I may never have asked it. I would have tried to pretend everything was different. Maybe if I never asked the question, the doctor would tell me a completely different story. But of course, reality has never been so kind.
I knew something was wrong when the doctor cleared her throat and the nurse looked away, finding an equipment monitor in the back of the room far more interesting than whatever Doc was about to say.
"Mr. Beaumont, I'm pleased to tell you that you did not sustain any serious injuries such as broken bones or organ damage. The cuts on your arms were deep enough to leave scarring, but you shouldn't have any reduction in mobility. You've been put on a light tranquilizer and painkillers, so it will be a while before you're back up to speed. We've already contacted a few relatives so we can figure out what happens from here."
Relatives? My relatives? I had never even met my grandparents. I had an aunt and an uncle I knew of and only enough cousins to count on one hand. I had barely seen any pictures of my relatives. What did she mean, contacted them? Then, what about...?
"But what about Mom and Dad?"
She sighed and adjusted a lock of hair that had fallen out of the bun. "I'm sorry, Mr. Beaumont. They didn't make it."
They didn't make it.
Time seemed to stop as she whispered those words. I knew what they meant, but at that moment I lost all sense of language. She continued to speak, but all I heard was the hissing of her tongue hitting the top of her mouth and the popping of her lips. My vision was clouded with tears, and as soon as I blinked, they began running down my face.
Didn't make it? What exactly had happened? All I could remember right now was coming home from school and getting ready to leave to visit the Jensens, Dad's close friends who lived about two hours away.
"What exactly happened?" My voice was shaky, but I had to know. "I can't remember anything."
I like to think that Dr. Calhoun's lip had trembled. I like to think that she shared a bit of the devastation I was feeling at the moment, but my eyes were so clouded with tears that I couldn't tell for sure.
"There was a head-on collision on the highway. The driver of the other vehicle-a minivan-had gotten drowsy and when she started veering off the side of the road; she over-corrected and hit the front of your parents' Corolla. We guess that both cars were going about seventy miles an hour. It was a miracle you came out with your life, and it's more than we could have hoped for that your injuries were minor."
She paused for a moment to clear her throat, then continued, "There was another driver who witnessed the whole accident and allowed us to get an ambulance out there very quickly. The other driver and your father were announced dead on the spot. Your mother passed away before we could reach the ER."
I had always known doctors to be blunt, so her way of phrasing things wasn't a surprise. But hearing such tragic words spoken so calmly and in such an impersonal tone had felt like a knife stabbing into me.
They were gone. Dad had gone at the point of impact, and Mom left not much later. Why the hell was I still here?
The doctor and nurse seemed to understand I needed time to absorb the information. I'm sure they delivered bad news to patients all day, every day, and had probably developed a sixth sense of knowing when someone needed to be alone, to grieve.
Why did something like that have to happen? I'm sure if that drowsy driver decided to over-correct her dumb ass just one or two seconds later, it would have missed us entirely. We would have a moment where adrenaline poured out our ears and we would freeze, realizing how close we were to dying. Minutes later, we would burst out laughing. Days later, we would tell all our friends how we almost died while driving on the freeway that night.
That's how it was supposed to happen. You only hear about tragic car accidents on the news! And it always involves someone who was drunk, someone who was high, bad weather, or racers not being careful enough. Nobody's ever heard of a soccer mom who needed caffeine swerving into oncoming traffic and smacking right into someone who wasn't drunk or high, either. Someone who just didn't have enough time to react.
I glanced down at my bandages. I couldn't tell where exactly the injuries were, but Doc had said they were only on my arms. Did I see it coming and lift my arms in self defense? Why weren't my legs crushed with the impact? Why didn't I die with Mom and Dad?
Why was I left alone?
I began to sob as reality sunk in. I had been in a car crash, fatal to all but me. My parents were dead; I would only have some scars. I didn't want to think about how much pain Mom was in before it finally ended, before she finally... passed.
I don't know how long I lay there, nor how many different thoughts crossed my mind. Depression, self-pity, anger, helplessness... I cried until my eyes dried out and I couldn't feel my throat anymore. Then I drank some water and cried some more.
I eventually was told the accident had happened around 11 PM the night before. I had gone into shock and had to be tranquilized just so I could sleep. After one night's sleep from the effect of the drug, they had determined I was physically well enough to be released. However, there were still the issues of my mental and emotional health, and custody, since I was still a minor.
I remained in the hospital for another two days before things began to take shape.
During my stay in the hospital, I barely left my bed. I ate my meals sitting up in bed and I walked myself to the bathroom, but aside from that I couldn't will myself to do anything. The nurse, Nancy, as I found her name was, tried to keep me company. She had a silky, soothing voice, and she talked to me for many hours during her shift. She was the only company I had after the doctor delivered the devastating news, so I tried to be respectful to her, though I spoke little in return.
"Mr. Beaumont, we've finally been able to contact some of your relatives. From what I've been told, they're communicating with each other to figure out how to handle the custody issue. And they're spaced out so far apart! I've been told your grandparents are in New Hampshire, your Uncle's family is in Florida, and your Aunt is all the way over in France. It looks like your parents were the only ones out West..."
I already knew just how small and far apart my family was.
My mother had moved from South Korea to the States for school, and later on her younger brother decided to follow suit. The rest of her family had grown distant in the years since she moved and I don't think she had been able to contact anybody aside from my uncle for years. She never even made it clear if I had other aunts or uncles aside from Uncle Bong. I was named after my grandfather-Taeyoon-but had never even seen a picture of him.
I had met my dad's older sister on one occasion, when she was right about to move from Arizona to France after a divorce. She had a slight French accent, light brown hair cropped into a cut much like a young boy would wear, and was all the forms of eccentric my father was not. She was an artist and a socialite. She wore bright, gaudy clothing that looked like it was in high fashion somewhere in the world. When I met her, she told me that a handshake was unacceptable and family always had to hug.
I had seen pictures of my other relatives I never had the chance to meet. Uncle Bong lived in Florida with his young wife and their four younger kids. My grandparents on my dad's side had always lived in New England and traveled several times a year, though they never bothered to visit. I even remembered once seeing a picture of Aunt Louise, her at-the-time husband Ralph, and their son, Adrian, from several years ago.
"Aunt Louise used to live here, too, but she re-married and moved to France. Or, maybe it was the other way around." I mused, making Nancy smile. I looked back at her and my lips probably cracked into a quasi-smile, though I was trying for a real one.
Nights were hard for me. Nancy only worked during the day and I found I wasn't able to sleep when she was gone at night. The hospital was always busy, but the noises it made usually weren't the good ones. I could hear patients wailing in their sleep, stretchers being wheeled down the halls in urgency, and staff chattering quietly.
It was at night where I broke down and sobbed for hours on end. I cried because in just one night I had found myself an orphan. I cried because the three of us weren't still alive. I cried because the three of us weren't dead. I cried because I would become a burden to someone just because we had the same blood.
When the sun started cracking the dark night sky apart, I finally fell into a very light sleep.
The next day, I had a phone call. Nancy had me sit in a wheelchair and rolled me to a small conference room with a phone sitting on a mahogany table. It was a very fancy room for being in a hospital and felt pleasant to me. It must have been the stark contrast from the silver of steel and white of the walls I had been staring at for the past few days that warmed me.
Nancy picked up the phone and spoke quietly for a minute before handing it to me. She left the room but gave me a short wave through the window and I knew she would be nearby in case I needed anything.
It was my Aunt Louise on the phone. After speaking with my grandparents and Uncle Bong, she had decided to reach out to me to inform me of the situation.
"My dearest Taeyoon," she exclaimed after I said a meek hi. She and my mother were the only people who had insisted on calling me by my real name over my much-easier-to-pronounce nickname Ty.
"You must be devastated," she continued. "And it is like adding insult to injury when the first thing you have to concern yourself with are the legal matters of who takes care of you, how you handle life insurance, how you make sure you can get back on your feet before you actually do." She clicked her tongue in a disapproving manner.
"I'm trying to do my best." I said solemnly.
I didn't know what to say, really. It turned out to be not so bad because she spoke more than enough for both of us.
At first, she reminisced about growing up with my dad. She talked about how she used to pick on him, but once they had hit adulthood, how they became very close friends. She paused for several minutes at a time to cry. She spoke about my mother and how beautiful my aunt had thought she was, how lucky my father was to find such a wonderful wife. We cried a bit together, but I was comforted. Now that I had someone close to my parents to share the pain with, I felt like there was a possibility of light at the end of the tunnel.
She told me about France, about my Uncle Pierre, whom she wanted me to meet. Some stories made me laugh, others made me glad I didn't live in France.
Gently, she slipped into the reason for her call.
She told me about how my grandparents weren't home enough to take care of a teenager still in school. Now that they were in their golden years, they were going on two to three major vacations a year, and if I stayed with them, they would insist I travel with them, which was detrimental to my studies. Grandma thought it would be best if I could somehow remain at my current school so I would have support from my friends.
Uncle Bong thought I would be a bad influence on his kids, though Aunt Louise said it in a sugar-coated way. His eldest was only turning ten, and he didn't want a teenager's attitude and behavior to affect her negatively. It kind of hurt that he would think so badly of me.
"And Taeyoon, that brings me to my solution, which is one that your grandparents, who would have custody over you otherwise, agree with. Adrian is still living back near Phoenix, in the same area you've grown up in. He's a responsible young man and I know from what he tells me that he is more than able to support another living with him. You would be able to attend your same high school and stay in a stable environment long enough to figure your future out."
In the one picture I had seen of my cousin he must have been about seven or eight. I knew he was several years older than I was, but didn't realize he was old enough to be able to legally take custody of me. Then again, I was pretty sure that once someone's a legal adult at eighteen, they were able to act as a guardian.
I don't know how much of a say I had in the matter since I was only fifteen. I didn't really know who I wanted to stay with right now.
"Oh, and I've already told him he has to do it." Aunt Louise's voice sounded a bit guilty. I couldn't help but laugh. She was exactly how my parents always described her and she still was the same way I remembered.
After chatting for a few more minutes, she informed me that she had to leave, but she would be sure to call me again. Feeling very comfortable around her now, I agreed and politely told her what a pleasure it was.
"I'm having Adrian come visit you to take care of things, Taeyoon. So you just relax and before you know it, you'll be out of that place." She added before we said our goodbyes.
To be honest, it was comforting knowing that I wouldn't have to stress over the small details by myself. Aunt Louise had told me that Adrian had just started assistant teaching at a private elementary school after getting his Bachelor's degree a year early at twenty-one and he was living in an apartment about a half hour away from my parents' house.
I didn't know what to expect, so I purposefully didn't form any expectations. I knew that somehow life had to go on, so somehow things had to work themselves out. Plus, I was worried that I'd frustrate myself into a bundle of nerves if I didn't chill out.
When Nancy took me back to my room, she informed me that I had been prescribed some light antidepressants. I knew a few kids in school who had to take them, but didn't know much about them except for that they were supposed to make people happy. Being happy couldn't hurt, but I'd rather just have my emotions back to normal first before I focused on that. I was sick of feeling constantly drained.
Later that day, I learned that the lawyer who was handling a lot of the legality issues would be coming to visit to talk about the funeral.
Funeral. That's right, it had been a few days since the accident, and, well, people tend to have funerals when they die.
My lighter mood from when Aunt Louise called suddenly vanished.
Nancy tried to cheer me up, but I could tell she was also a bit disheartened by the news. We had become friends in the small time we had known each other. She often told me stories of her family. Her daughter, Nicole, was deaf and a huge advocate for the deaf culture and often protested against legislation trying to make cochlear implants mandatory for deaf babies. Because of Nicole, Nancy knew sign language, and was an asset to the hospital because of it.
I watched TV in the hospital bed while I tried not to think about what going to my own parents' funeral would be like or what talking to a haughty lawyer who had no emotional investment in the matter about it would be like.
I found myself starting to get groggy. It was only midway through the afternoon, but my sleepless nights had messed up my body clock pretty badly.
I dozed off while watching an old re-run of I Love Lucy.