-Prologue-


From houndofheaven666's private online journals:

October, 2004

After eighteen years of holding back, I am finally able to close a chapter of my life forever. I found him. I found him in a mental hospital, of all places. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, or try and tell myself that it was a mistake.

What the hell was he doing in a mental hospital? Could it be a case of mistaken identity?

I decided to go there and find out. It must have been some kind of mistake, I had thought then.

So much for my wishful thinking!

I didn't seen people inflicting injuries on themselves and screaming incoherently, or anything like that, while I was there. The media often ingrain such impressions into us, and it's difficult to let go of them. Once we face reality, the contrast between what we know and what we think we know hits us, and reality takes us by surprise, whether we expect it to or not. I had definitely been surprised by the lack of anything out of the ordinary once they'd let me in to his room. They had told me he was suffering from schizophrenia, Multiple Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, to name just a few.

They also warned me that the person I would meet may no longer be like the person I used to know.

I felt myself refusing to believe that anything was wrong with him. Not him, who has always faced life's challenges with a brave face, who dealt beautifully with everything and everyone that Life threw his way.

He was sitting on a chair, which was placed next to a narrow single bed. When I came in, he did not look up, but continued to read from a thick book laid out before him on a desk, and made some indecipherable noise.

He was sporting a buzz-cut, and his slightly stubbled face had the young-old look that some people developed when they neared middle-age. I'd thought he looked normal enough. I still had not been able to affix those categorised disorders to the person that sat in front of me.

When I made a showing of coughing, he looked up. "Oh hi, Zeph. What's up?" His eyes wandered back to the book.

I raised an eyebrow, having expected a little surprise at my visit, at least. His voice sounded exactly as I remembered it: a husky, tenor turning baritone. Sexy.

"Hi, Zeph," he said again, in perfectly normal tones.

Feeling quite stupid, I coughed again and stepped closer. I realized that I'd been standing more than just a few feet away. It made me feel kind of embarrassed, but I didn't know what to expect.

"How are you, man?" I asked, laughing a little. He flashed me a half-smile and indicated the other chair with an arrogant tilt of the head.

"Have a seat. Don't stand around like a lost dog." Typical, I thought, grinning inwardly. Hell, he hadn't changed at all. Only his hair, which had mostly faded into a light grey.

I sat down, trying hard not to stare, but inevitably failing. He'd always had this effect on everyone he met. It was his hybrid angelic-devilish good looks and charisma that did this, but he wasn't seventeen anymore. Age has been kind to him though, I noted. Very kind indeed.

Noticing my scrutiny perhaps, he met my gaze. The crinkles in the corners of his eyes just made him look slightly less bad-assed.

"Don't you just hate the weather? It's fucking boiling all the time." It was two months short of winter, but the heat in the room was pretty stifling.

"You should tell 'em to go easy on the air-conditioning. It's too hot in here."

He drummed his fingers on the desk thoughtfully, and gave me the quick half-smile again. "It could get quite boring sometimes, you know," he muttered, yawning. I didn't know what to say to that, so I just said I could understand why he thought that. "I mean, I just read this. Not between the lines, but within and withal. To locationate him in the words." I guessed that was Mr A+ in English talking. He could get pretty poetic at times, and back at school, we had either laughed at him, or just sat there like dumb asses, not getting what he said.

"Sure," I said, just like I did at school. "'Betcha been writing a lot, these days, huh?"

"Writing, yeah," he said, turning a page. "Letters. To seek some time. Time. Letters to locate."

"Locate who?"

"You know who," he replied, smirking. "He who always has been and always will."

"Oh. Right. Does he come to see you very often?" I asked, feeling the mixture of a strange jealousy and irritation that I'd always felt when he brought this up.

"Everyday. Yesterday and today. Will you give him these from me, please?" He dropped a pile of folded papers in front of me.

"Uhh… OK. Are they letters?" I asked, resisting the urge to go through them all.

He nodded.

"Who to?"

"You know who. He who always has been and always will be."

I looked him dead in the eye.

"But you just said he comes to see you everyday…"

I should've known right then.

He nodded again, and laughed. I jerked up at the sound. It was hollow and resembled a sob, although he was wearing a relaxed smile on his face when I looked at him.

"Had a little squabble. He's been ignoring me since sixth period."

"Wh-what?" I whispered.

"I told him it was OK. He could have her. I don't have any problems with that. I wouldn't mind. He could have anything he wants. I want him to have everything he wants. But he just got mad at me. He acts like he doesn't want to speak to me again, and I can't stand that."

It sounded like a tape replaying. I absurdly wondered if he was trying to tell me something without being direct.

"…I know I shouldn't have done that, but I didn't know he'd get messed up, I swear! I thought he'd just… I dunno, get over it. C'mon! Everyone's obsessed with him. He can have his freakin' pick! I want him to blame me, but he won't! That ain't my fault!"

Oh God. Something must have gone terribly wrong. Why is he speaking like him?

"Look, man," I said shakily. "What ya talking about? Huh? Would you like me to help? Just tell me what happened to you, alright?"

He shuddered and looked up at me, twin tracks of tears trailing down his face.

"Nothing. Everything. Damn-nevery-thing. Why does the world bleed? Why do people love lies? Why is everyone so fucking keen on hiding behind half-truths and fairy tales for the sake of their fucking sanity? Why?" he yelled angrily. I cast a worried glance at a nurse who looked our way.

"Cool it, man. N-no one's out to get you, okay? You're…you're safe. You're fine."

After a long pause, he lifted a hand up and brought it hard on to the table. I winced in sympathy, but he hardly seemed to notice it.

"Listen. I'll tell you everything," he said, going over the same sentence twice. There was no doubt about it, I thought then. He was mentally ill, after all. He was no longer the person I used to admire so much. No longer the person every guy used to envy. I stared into his haggard face, letting the familiar feeling of my heart breaking come over me. I got up. There was no way I could do this. I couldn't stand to see him like this, vulnerable and miserable in his madness.

"Uh, look. I've got to go now, man. My…my wife's expecting me home soon." I had no wife. I just felt guilty.

"Wife. Wifewifewifey. The last-test-test time I thought you were a fag. Or is Jay your wifey?"

I gazed at him blankly as he laughed. The words unravelled cruelly in my mind, and suddenly, I felt like smashing his demented face in with that book for bringing him up. I felt like asking him about 'he who has been and always will be fucked up'.

"What the hell are you trying to say, man?"

He smiled almost apologetically at me after rubbing his face across the pages of the book in a weird, distracted way. Then he closed the book.

It was a Christian Bible.

"Listen. I'll tell you everything I know."

"About what? Who?"

"About us," he said simply. Then very shyly, he said: "Could I sing something for you first? Sing something for you?"

I felt tears forming in my eyes and hid under a smile.

"Go ahead, man. Go right ahead."

:: Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you ::

(From 'Space Oddity' by David Bowie)


A/N: My first slash story. More chapters to follow...