A/N: Yep, another one. Not completely sure where this one is going but anyways….hope you enjoy.
Part 1: Chapter 1
There was no comparison between them. One was the capital, the country's metropolis, and the other was a pathetic backwater village. Perhaps pathetic was the wrong word. Maybe he should use something like dire, dreadful, pitiful or even just the simple 'downright crap.' The words weren't what mattered though. No. What mattered was the fact that the tiny rural village he was travelling through was to become his new home. No more major city where could escape to clubs or a friend's. He was stuck there.
Back home his house was the biggest on his avenue, and there was no other name for it according to his late grandmother. She'd walked him up and down as a toddler, showing off her youngest grandson and explaining how their money gave them a status. How their 'avenue' showed that status.
Personally he thought all of that was total bollocks, spewed by some old decrepit hag. A road wasn't a status symbol, just a path to get from A to B. Now money on the other hand was. Money meant certain doors were open to you that weren't open to others that were worse off. It gave you an edge that set you aside from others.
Still, as that stoic man drove along the tiny, rough winding roads he couldn't help but notice there was something in what she'd said. One was uneven and worn while the other was smooth and refined. He was starting to worry that his aunt's house was going to have the same contrast as the roads did to where he lived.
His worries really weren't that far off the mark. The car stopped outside a tiny cottage that was smaller than his garage and looked like it would be swallowed by ivy - if it didn't collapse first.
One word command. Sacha shot him a dirty look but obeyed without hesitation anyway. It was his mother's chauffeur/bodyguard and he'd seen the man break a reporters arm without blinking. He barely had the chance to get his duffer bag from the back seat before the car was speeding off, back tires kicking up dirt.
"Wanker!" Sacha yelled after him, shoulders slumping. That was it. He was stranded there, in hell, in some crude crappy village miles away from anything that remotely resembled escape.
He was delaying the inevitable though, he had to go meet his jailor and see his new prison.
The front garden was empty, the front door unlocked, and Sacha crept in warily. It was so quiet and eerie. Creepy, like a person could die out there in the middle of nowhere and no one would ever know.
"Anyone alive in here?" Maybe he was being melodramatic but it wasn't his fault. How else was he supposed to deal with being exiled in such a desolate nowhere?
It didn't take him long to get an insight into his Aunt's character. She was a scatterbrain; there were pieces of paper on every available surface, strips of ribbon on the floor, notebooks, leaked pens, broken pencils, old plates with old meals, tea pots, glasses, mugs, half finished paintings, paint sets scattered everywhere and items of clothing draped over the doors and the back of chairs. On top of all of that there was a thick layer of dust covering most of the rooms as well.
"Emmy?" He frowned at the lingering silence and called a few more times but with no replies and no sign of another presence in the mouldy cottage he gave up, flopping down into the only available empty space on the sofa.
He was exhausted. After four days in a horrendously public and busy children's ward he'd been released that morning, picked up by his mother's PA. He'd been relieved until the frigid bitch thrust a scruffy duffel bag at him and ordered him to pack for a couple of weeks away.
At first he'd assumed his favourite uncle, stinking rich Uncle Toby, only four years older than him and fantastic company had offered to let him recover from his lasting injuries. However, when she'd refused to let him have his laptop or his phone or even his bankcards he'd guessed that his fate wasn't going to be that good.
Instead the stupid cow had gloated as she revealed rather bluntly that his parents were ashamed of all of the trouble he was getting himself into and that he was being exiled somewhere remote, quiet location. Somewhere completely void of any of his friends.
Somewhere that he would be stranded.
They handed him over to a chauffeur, the rough bodyguard forcing him into the car and not caring about the pain he caused in the fractured ribs or his stitches, and sent him on his way.
So there he was. In a cottage, alone, and he really needed to take some more painkillers and then find somewhere to sleep.
The shout jerked him awake and he groaned at the pain the sudden, sharp movement had caused.
"Fuck." He must have fallen asleep sitting there. His head was throbbing and his ribs felt like they were on fire, meaning he'd missed his next time slot to take the painkillers.
In fact judging by the darkness he could see if he looked out of the window, he may have missed two slots.
"Aunt Emmy?" She looked so…Frumpy. Compared to his mother she was so unlike her sister. His mother was always dressed smartly in designer, her hair and nails pristine but the woman stood in front of him was a little overweight, had her hair thrown back into some twig filled shabby bun and was dressed in clothes he would normally associate with a farmer.
"Sacha? Oh my god you look so grown up!" She clapped her hands. Delighted like some stupid child, completely oblivious to the alarmed widening of Sacha's bruised eyes, "I love you hair! Uh, it's not natural is it?"
Oh. Right, the hair. He'd had white streaks put in over the jet-black with the intention of dying the white some fluorescent colour. He'd grown quite attached the white though.
He attempted to move slowly, wincing with every inch. He'd worked out that dying his hair was a very good way to piss his mother off. Coming out had been enough to anger his father enough to still be receiving the silent treatment two years later.
"I thought you weren't coming until Thursday!" She admitted, still so enthusiastic and cheerful as she pushed her glasses up her nose with muddy fingers. The mud alerted him to the fact that there was a basket full of snippets of plants and what looked like mouldy onions and carrots.
"It is Thursday."
"Is it?" More confusion on her part and then she was apologising profusely, offering him food and coffee. She hugged him, so tightly it felt like his great uncle's bear hug. He yelped at the agitation to his injuries and she let go, apologising again and frowning at him, probably finally noticing the bruises.
"Just tell me where I'm supposed to sleep," he cut her off sharply and she dropped her eyes to the floor, muttering more apologies. He took the opportunity to take his tablets with his bottle of water that the chauffeur had given him to take the last lot of tablets.
"In the attic." Her eventual reply was sheepish and he stared at her in disbelief.
First his mother effectively exiles him in hell with no escape and then he was expected to sleep in the attic like some sort of Cinderella character.
She looked embarrassed at his expression, but picked his bag up regardless and carried it off. She pulled aside a strange tribal looking material wall hanging to reveal a set of narrow stairs that he'd never seen before. He struggled after her, thankful that she didn't attempt to baby him the way everyone else had since he'd landed himself in the latest mess.
"It's not much," she muttered, placing the bag next to the bed, "I haven't really done much to it since it was converted."
She was right; it really wasn't much at all. White washed walls, simple double bed, small empty wardrobe and a very tiny desk. It looked so plain it was horrible. Still at least it wasn't the dusty attic with a straw bed that he'd initially imagined. He had a sink in the corner of the room rather bizarrely as well.
"If you want anything to eat or drink then the water in the sink is safe and you can help yourself to anything you want to in the kitchen."
Then she was gone and he was left alone in that room with nothing but a small duffel bag containing a meagre selection of clothes, an iPod, cigarettes and a book.
He switched the lamp on next to the bed, turned off the main light and set about the difficult task of undressing for bed. The painkillers had helped some but it still hurt just attempting to remove his hoody.
Last time he'd had rib injuries he'd had Conner to help him. Conner who had held him gently and kissed him and made love to him even though he was battered mess. Conner who was always there when things got too difficult with his family. Conner who loved him. Conner who he wasn't going to be able to see for an indefinite amount on time.
By the time he succeeded in undressing and climbing under the heavy quilt he wanted to curl up and never wake up.
Emmy was singing along to some crazy classical song when he stumbled down the stairs mid afternoon the next day and collapsed into a chair at the cluttered kitchen table. Two bulky tablets later and the agony was gone. He even managed to pick at the chicken salad that his ecstatic aunt thrust in front of him. As he ate he watched her bustle around the kitchen, making him a huge mug of coffee, washing what appeared to be a week's pile of dirty plates, and trying to coax him into conversation.
Sacha kept his replies short and made sure not to actually look at her or give her the impression that he gave a crap about her tomato plants or the stray cat that seemed to have decided to camp out in the garden.
Oddly, she didn't get annoyed the way his mother would have, instead she just smiled and disappeared into her jungle of a garden to find said cat.
It took two hours for him to skulk out into the wilderness to find her. He attempted to listen to music on his iPod, took the chance to look in all of the rooms and go through some of her stuff but there was nothing entertaining for him. There were a lot of books, so many he was actually starting to feel a little book-phobic.
"How did you guess?" he snorted, turning to peer between rows of apple trees. There was more garden than he'd thought; she even had what appeared to be an overgrown orchard.
"It's all in the scowl. You look so much like my brother when he was your age," she adjusted her grip on the cat, "Why don't you go and explore?"
"No." It wasn't like it was going to be any more interesting than moping around the shit hole of a cottage.
Emmy stopped in front of him, placed the cat in his arms and smiled brightly at him, ignoring the way his scowl became a glare. He didn't want cat hair all over his clothes!
"Then I'll drive you to the shops. You didn't bring very much with you. You can grab some school supplies and something to entertain yourself."
"School supplies?" Horrified was the best way to describe his face. He was expected to go to school with a bunch of country bumpkins in the hellhole? What were they going to learn about? Tractor factories and crops?
"I'll give you money for clothes too."
Ah. There were the magic words he needed to hear. He didn't need to be told again either. He stuffed his feet into his trainers as Emmy put the cat down on the kitchen counter. He pulled a face at how dirty it was and followed her out, visibly cringing at the muddy four-by-four parked alongside the cottage.
"Would twenty quid be enough?" Emmy asked, zooming the car too fast along the winding lanes with practiced ease. He was going to negotiate with her but she just handed her purse over to him, not even taking her eyes off the road, "There's a twenty in there. Help yourself."
He did. She actually had five twenties and her attention was fixed solely on the road. So he took two. She wouldn't notice and she didn't seem the type to confront him about it. He'd be able to get a pair of jeans or a jacket with that. She was clueless when he handed her purse back and it took nearly all of his self-control not to laugh at her.
When he saw the shops, he wanted that laugh. Pity it vanished along with what small spark of a good mood he'd had. They weren't real shops. They were proper village shops. Local shops. Like the sort you saw in horror films when those old murder mysteries where everyone in the village knew everyone's business. A butcher, a green grocer, a pet shop, hardware store, post office/newsagents, charity shop…not a brand name in sight.
What the hell was wrong with these people?
"I'll meet you back here in a couple of hours. I've got a few errands to run," she waved, smiling brightly at him, and he stared after her in disbelief.
He was expected t remain there for two hours?
She was mad. He was tempted to remain by the car, sulking about the backwater shithole he'd been dumped in. However, ten minutes and he was so desperately bored that he gave in and went in search of something to blow his money on.
There really wasn't much, he found the dismal clothes shop at the far end of the road but the clothes all just screamed 'farmer' so badly that walked straight back out, vowing not to go in there again.
Half-hour later he was stood outside a small charity shop. It was the only one he hadn't been in so far.
"Music." He muttered to himself, looking at the stacks of CDs and the cheap second hand walkmans in the display.
He had plenty of money to spare, he'd bought cigarettes, pens and paper as well as a bag for school – very much against his wishes, but it would save himself the hassle of explaining why he hadn't bought the necessary items to the teachers. He doubted Emmy would care.
When he walked in the girl behind the counter stared at him, muddy brown eyes fixed to him, assessing him. It was like she'd never seen a stranger before. He barely spared her a glance and moved to where there were piles of clothes and a rack of second hand trousers. He wasn't planning on buying anything, he mainly just wanted to laugh at the state of whatever they had in there.
"What size are you ducky?"
Ducky? He was going to give the bitch a verbal scathing at that but when he turned he stopped dead. It wasn't the gawping mousy girl; it was a different one; some incredibly ancient woman leaning heavily on a wooden walking stick.
"26 inch waist." He replied slowly. She might be hideously old but she had that air about her that demanded respect, sort of like his grandmother.
"That rack," she pointed to a partially hidden rack pf clothes and he nodded, deciding it might be better to at least have a brief look and not let her know that he was just there t laugh at her shop.
Rather surprisingly he actually found a few things he liked. Black jeans, a couple of band t-shirts, a hoody…it was just a pity that they were in a charity shop and he refused to lower himself to that sort of indignity.
"You're Emerehl's nephew, aren't you boy?" the old woman spoke up and he nodded. For some reason that pissed him off, he did not like being called 'boy' by anyone. The only person that ever got away with calling him that was hi father and that was only when he was angry enough to acknowledge his existence.
"Speak up boy. I asked you a question!" Jesus, she even sounded like his grandmother.
"I nodded," he stated sullenly, and she eyed him with distaste, "And yes. I'm Emmy's nephew."
"I've got her book behind the till," she hobbled away, going to the aforementioned till and the still staring girl. The book was just some plain covered romance novel and he took it reluctantly, resentful at being treated as a delivery boy.
"How much?" he sighed, he may as well pay for it seeing as he couldn't find anything else to waste his money on. She laughed at him and hobbled off through a door leading to the back of the shop.
With a mutter of how backwards the stupid place was and a scowl at the girl at the counter he stomped out, shoving past some weird old man that was attempting to say something to him.
The last hour waiting by Emmy's car was rubbish, his iPod ran out, his painkillers wore off and it started to rain. He was ready to throw a real toddler tantrum when she turned up nearly thirty minutes late but she held out a thick jacket and a huge coffee. He was so disgustingly soggy that he quickly grabbed the jacket, ignoring the fact that it looked like it should belong to some obese middle-aged farmer. However, the warmth and the coffee were a godsend and all he could do was give her a thankful look.
"Did you buy anything nice?" she asked softly, glancing at him as she let the car fly around the bends.
"Uh, just some school crap," he replied warily, not looking at her. Had she noticed that the money had gone missing? If so why hadn't she started shouting at him?
"I got you some uniform bits for you," she added, just as quiet, eyes fixed to the road, "Daphne said that she'd made sure you had some of your uniform so all I needed to buy was the tie and the blazer."
Well that was crap. He'd hoped they'd be going to the city to buy it and he'd have ben able to escape then. One phone call to Conner and his boyfriend would have come and found him and taken him home.
She stopped the car, slamming the breaks on and spilling his coffee everywhere, the hot liquid scalding his legs and ruining his designer jeans. Not only was he burnt but the sudden jerk had set his ribs on fire and he was finding it hard to breath properly.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"I forgot to collect my book from Mary," she stated, barely acknowledging his anger.
"She gave it to me!" He snapped, trying to take a deep breath, yet wanting nothing more than to go back home, have a warm bath and to hide away in his crappy attic – he could pretend it hadn't happened. He found himself yet again cursing that he'd been sent there and tilted his head back as he tried to ease the pressure in his ribs.
"Do you want me to go back and get you another coffee?"
Good god. He almost started crying in disbelief at that.
"No! Just drive for fuck's sake!"
So what if that was rude?
He'd had enough.