Title: The Ghost of You and Me
Author: Nikki (vagarical)
Genre: Hancest / AU
Rating: NC-17 (Chapter Rating: R )
Warning: The story will deal with drugs, violence, abuse, non-con and suicidal themes (Chapter Warning: Swearing, lewdness)
Word Count: 2260
Chapter Excerpt: Truth be told, my life had ended that day 5 years ago, and it felt like since then I had just been existing, going through motions, never really feeling anything because nothing ever penetrated the walls I had built. But when I saw him on my doorstep, it felt like those walls started to crack, and it was like he held memories of what life had been and promises of being alive again.
Author’s Note: THANK YOU to everyone who is still waiting for this for your patience during my absence. I’m sorry for taking so long getting this chapter out. I will do my very best to post at least once a week from now on! It’s not even that I’m in other fandoms, life just sucks atm and it’s leaving me largely uninspired as far as writing goes.
I kissed him. What the hell was I thinking?! Or more like, why in the world was I not thinking?
Trust me to go mess everything up as soon as things between us seemed to be going in the right direction. I had had a lot of practice at fucking things up the past few years, after all. I think by this point, I almost deserved an award for my efforts.
I should have gone back to apologize to him, of course, but since I was an idiot with no backbone, I didn’t. Maybe it was for the best though, because I did not know how in the hell I could possibly explain what had just happened.
It had been so weird. I mean, ever since I was greeted by his face when I opened the door yesterday, there had been no denying the fact that I most definitely did still love him. No matter how much I had tried to convince myself that I hated him for what he had done. If I had genuinely hated him, I would have decked him the second I saw him. After all, he was the reason my life was so fucking miserable, and I didn’t need for him to come gloat at my suffering. Or course, in hindsight, I was now glad that I still cared enough about him to let him in instead of breaking his nose, since learning that it had not in fact been his fault granted me more lasting relief than beating him up would have done.
But then, learning the truth was what had let my feelings for him come back at full force again, so I guess the fact that I still loved him was what had doomed us from the moment I opened the door.
And when he told me about the beatings, and suddenly it felt like we were more equal because he had also suffered. Not that I wanted him to suffer, in fact it made my blood boil to know that anyone had hurt him, it was just… it felt good somehow, not that had been unhappy in itself, but the fact that it meant that on some level, he would be able to understand how lost I had been without him. And probably would continue to be until things were good between us again. If they ever would be. I wouldn’t blame him if he went back home tomorrow and never wanted to speak to me again. Hell I wouldn’t blame him if he snuck out during the night.
My mind kept running in circles, trying to make sense of the situation but mostly just giving out to me and reminding me what an idiot loser I was, until I finally fell asleep. When I did, it was to the same dreams that had kept me company nightly for a long time now. Dreams that were actually memories, made more horrifying in the realm of my unconscious than they actually had been when I lived through them. Dreams that I was so used to that they could no longer rouse me from sleep, no matter how much I wished I could wake and escape their confines.
When I finally woke it was long after the dreams had ended, and to the unfamiliar scent of food cooking. I glanced at my bedside clock, which faithfully told me that it was almost noon. I rubbed my tired eyes, debating with myself whether or not to sleep a while longer. The smell of food must mean that Zac was still in the house, since no one had ever made me breakfast and it seemed unlikely that some random stranger had broken in just to do that for me. And on the one hand, that made me feel incredibly relieved, on the other, I still felt like an ass and didn’t want to face him.
After about fifteen minutes of pondering, I decided that I had worried myself so much that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep anyway. Besides, my stomach wasn’t shy about letting me know that it found the idea of food very inviting. So I forced myself out of bed and made sure I looked presentable before I went down to the kitchen.
I stopped in the doorway. He was at the stove and hadn’t noticed myself, and I couldn’t keep myself from secretly watching him for a few moments. It was weird. It felt so couplish somehow, having him here in my kitchen, making breakfast. But I liked it. I liked it a lot. I was quite sure it was something I could easily get used to if he would let me.
“Morning,” I said, announcing my arrival as I stepped into the kitchen, unable to stop my lips from curving into a silly smile when he turned around and our eyes met. Dear God, what was he doing to me?
“Morning.” He returned my smile, “I made French toast,” he gestured to the food, obviously looking for my approval.
“Yum,” I replied, as a means of letting him know that I very much agreed with his choice of food.
“Made you coffee too,” he added as he turned his back to me to finish the food, “Hopefully it’s good, ‘cause I can’t tell the difference.”
“I’m sure it’s great.” I got a mug and poured myself some, before taking a careful sip. I was prepared to lie if it wasn’t good, but it was actually really good. I told him so, enthusiastically enough for him to blush and tell me he was sure any coffee tasted great for me first time in the morning. Which was true, but this was especially good, even if he refused to believe it.
I brought my mug over to the table while he put the food on plates, following me over to the table and sitting down opposite me. We ate in surprisingly comfortable silence. In the back of my mind, a little voice was nagging me about apologizing for the night before, explaining what had happened, reassuring him that he had done nothing wrong. If I still knew him at all, which I would like to believe I did despite our lengthy separation and how different our paths had been while apart, he probably had similar thoughts. But still, it wasn’t the least bit awkward. We ate, and we looked at each other, and we just were. Together. It was almost like we had silently agreed not to mention the previous night. At least not yet.
The rest of the day went by in much the same fashion, and I have to admit that even though it felt a little bit like a calm before the storm sort of situation, I tried not to worry about anything and just enjoy every moment. It was so nice to just have him with me again. The past year or so I had spent relatively shut off from the world, ever since I moved out of Brantley’s apartment I hadn’t really had a social life outside of work. All the friends I had were also Brantley’s friends, after all, and that was a circle I would rather try to get away from. Though, in fairness, it wasn’t like it was just the past year that had sucked, and that made me so happy for his company again. Truth be told, my life had ended that day 5 years ago, and it felt like since then I had just been existing, going through motions, never really feeling anything because nothing ever penetrated the walls I had built. But when I saw him on my doorstep, it felt like those walls started to crack, and it was like he held memories of what life had been and promises of being alive again. And I wanted out of this dreary existence, I wanted to live again, God I wanted it so fucking bad. And it scared the shit out of me when I admitted to myself that I was totally pinning all my hopes on Zac being able to help me. It would most likely end in disaster. But fuck it, I needed to take that chance. I needed him.
At some point after we had lunch, Zac asked me if he could play the piano. And I let him, continuing to read the book I had started after breakfast, or rather pretending to continue while one eye and both ears were focused on him. I didn’t recognize the song he was playing, and from the way he would stop every now and then and play the last bit slightly differently, I guessed he was working on something new. It was beautiful, and I would have told him so, but I didn’t want to interrupt because he seemed blissfully wrapped up in the music. And it made me happy to watch him like that, finding release in music, it was something so familiar, something that reminded me that despite everything he was still my Zac, and there was hope of rebuilding what we once had, one brick at a time.
Evening rolled around much too quickly for my liking. Zac insisted on driving me to work, and I eventually agreed but secretly had him drop me off a couple of blocks away from my actual workplace. I would like to be able to say that it wasn’t because I didn’t want him to know where I worked, but that would just be a big fat lie. I worked at The Rainbow Room, and I wasn’t about to admit it to him. For one, it was just embarrassing. But also, I just didn’t think he needed any more proof of my life being shitty, and if I had to admit that this seedy gay bar was the only place that would hire me, he would probably feel guilty about it. And it wasn’t like I could honestly say it wasn’t his fault at all. I mean yeah, our parents had totally tricked him into being instrumental to my being put away, but he had been naïve enough to believe them, after all.
As I got out of the car, after some minor fussing and making sure he knew to help himself to anything at home as well as making sure that he had my cell number and knew how to get back to my house, I realized another clear advantage of having been dropped a while away. A walk in the cool evening air was exactly what I needed to clear my head a little, shake myself out of the bubble I seemed to have been in since breakfast and make myself ready for a night full of mixing drinks, humoring drunk people and most likely a few indecent proposals. I was used to it all by now, even the lewd and suggestive comments. I had to be. I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that I was working there for any other reason than the fact that I was pretty enough to bring customers back if I seemed the least bit receptive to advances. At least my boss was a decent man, and I wasn’t expected to actually follow through on any offers. On the contrary. He had made it clear from the start that he followed regulations, thank you very much, and employees were not to solicit with customers. So yeah, I could handle the comments that were thrown at me. Hell, sometimes it even made me feel a bit better about myself, even if it shouldn’t have. Hey, at least I had looks going for me, right?
I turned a corner into one of the worse areas of town, making sure Zac’s car was really out of sight before I did so. Yeah, the fact that it was a bad part of Detroit meant that I should probably not have been so comfortable walking down the street alone in the dark, but it had never worried me. It was like prison, more or less, if you looked like you belonged, you would probably be left alone, but if you looked scared and lost you were just inviting trouble. Besides, I hadn’t had much of a life to be worried for up until now anyway…
It was scary, to suddenly have something to live for. And even more so, to have someone depending on me. Because it was obvious that he needed me as much as I needed him, perhaps even more. I could see it in his eyes when he looked at me. It was the same way he had always looked at me, making it so clear that he still loved me the same as he always had, and that I was the most important person in the world to him. When our eyes met, his told me that he would follow me anywhere, and do absolutely anything for me. I used to enjoy that responsibility; it used to make me feel needed and special and on top of the world. Now, I just could not handle it. I was a complete fuckup, and I could not even take care of myself, so how was I supposed to take care of him? I didn’t trust myself. I would be a bad influence. I would keep hurting him without meaning to. He deserved so much better, so much more than I would ever be able to give him.
But I was much too selfish to let him go now that I finally had him back.