|You Remind Me
Author: Jiirosensei PM
At age 17, it takes Toby all he has to make his mother and father believe that his secret 'obsession' for fantasy is not real. But one night, after his mother discovered a fantasy picture book Sarah had given him, he wishes himself away. Toby/Jareth slashRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - Words: 2,188 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 32 - Published: 10-09-06 - id: 3190677
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"It's real! It's real!" the boy protested desperately, trying to twist away from the man gripping his coat-sleeve. "I remember! I do! Tell them, Sarah!"
"Sarah, how could you?" The young woman's stepmother was screaming. "How could you! You know how succeptible Toby is to these types of things!"
Sarah only shook her head sadly, unable to reply. She hadn't meant for any of this.
"Sarah!" the little boy cried as he was forced into the car. "I remember!"
That had been five years ago. Toby flipped quietly through a picture book he'd been given for his seventeenth birthday. It was a present from his sister; a secret present. The book was filled with illustrations of fairies and goblins and other whimsical creatures. It was secret because Toby was no longer allowed to read such things. Not since the incident.
The young man sat, curling a finger absently in his tan locks while leafing through the book. A far off smile played across his features as he trailed a finger lightly down the contours of the pictures.
"Toby!" he could hear his mother calling from somewhere in the house. It was summer, and the open window carried her voice in on a happy, lilting breeze.
"Toby!" she called a bit more harshly. "You're going to miss your appointment!"
He sighed, closing the book and stashing it at the bottom of his hamper before standing and stretching. He scooped his loose-fitting blue jeans off of the floor with a yawn, stepping into the worn, faded trousers. His mother had threatened to get rid of them not long ago, and so, he had resigned himself to wearing them every day, so as not to give her the chance. Sarah would visit that night, he supposed. She always did after his appointments. She wanted to know what the doctor was telling him, what he was telling the doctor.
He meandered lazily down the stairs to find his mother, her hands on her hips, waiting impatiently by the door. "We're already late!" she scolded, storming out the door. The boy sighed, trailing quietly behind her. He had been a talkative youth, but all that had changed after…
"Well, young man. It certainly is an important day!" the psychiatrist beamed at Toby over his half-moon spectacles.
"Is it?" Toby asked distractedly, concentrating intently on the wood grain of the man's heavy oak desk. He loved to stare at its swirling patterns, looking for whatever pictures or fantasies he could dechipher from its markings. There was one, a little elf-like creature in the corner… no… more like a goblin. He stopped himself, looking up quickly. He wasn't allowed to think of such things.
"Yes," the man replied. "Why Toby, don't tell me you've forgotten?"
Toby shrugged, but cocked his head, politely waiting to be informed.
"It's been three years today since your discharge from the institution." The man smiled broadly as if congratulating the boy on some wonderous achievement. "You've come a long way!" he smiled.
Toby smiled too, but only to humor the doctor. He only vaguely remembered his time at the institute. He remembered the yelling and the desperate crying. He remembered the "reeducation" and the shots, and the dreamless nights melting into cold, sunless mornings. "Mm-hmm…" he intoned contentedly.
"The pills seem to be doing wonders for you…" the man continued.
"Yes." Toby agreed, though he supposed they were doing much more wonderful things for his fichus, as that was where he'd been burying them for the past two and a half years. He'd stopped taking them shortly after he'd begun. They made him sick and cold. They made him feel alone and lonely and worst of all, he couldn't hear. In fact, he hadn't heard it since the institute; that gentle voice, softly, softly… You remind me… Toby frowned slightly.
"Toby?" the doctor asked, sounding concerned, his pen positioned instantly over his pad of paper. "What's the matter?"
"Hm?" Toby looked up quickly and smiled. "Oh! I was… just wondering if mom would make potatoes for dinner… if I asked."
The doctor chuckled. "That's fine. You seem to be doing very well. Now, as it is an anniversary, that means it's also time for your annual checkup. Alright?"
Toby nodded. He knew the routine, after all, he'd had a long enough time to adjust to it.
"Good," the doctor began. "Okay. First I'll just run down the usual list. Now, you haven't been experiencing any of the hallucinations, correct? No whispers on the wind, no… goblins under your bed?" he grinned.
Toby mirrored his grin. "No, no. Nothing like that anymore."
The doctor nodded. "And as for this underground…" he rolled his eyes at the word, trying to make light for the young man's sake.
Toby forced a laugh. "It was just a fantasy I had as a child," he told the doctor. "I'm past such silly things."
The doctor's smile broadened. "Well that is good to hear, Toby. You seem to be doing quite well."
Toby continued to smile as the doctor talked, but he found himself slipping down into his own mind, the last safe place that he knew of. He hadn't been allowed journals or television or fantasy play for fear of what might become of him. His bookshelves held nothing but science and history, nothing for a young, impressionable mind to run away with. But Toby found that he was quite apt at make pretend and had learned that the safest time for his musings was late at night, after everyone else had fallen asleep. Then he would open his window and stare out across the city skyline. Sometimes, he would crawl out onto the roof and he would imagine, if he looked just right, that there in the distance, far, far off, was a castle. A castle surrounded by a keep, and after that, a hedge maze, a labyrinth.
"Toby, eat your steak." His mother reprimanded. The boy sighed, turning back to his plate and poking it boredly. "I'm full." He told her. "Can I show Sarah my room now?"
"No. Not until you finish." She replied.
He rolled his eyes and Sarah suppressed a smile. "Can he finish after, Karen?" she asked. "I think he's just a little too excited right now…"
Karen tightened her lips, drawing them into a thin, disapproving line, but she finally agreed. "Alright." She replied. "But not too much time now. This is a family night."
"Okay." Toby called exasperatedly, already halfway up the stairs. "Come on!" he called to his sister excitedly.
Once they had made it to his room, formerly hers, Toby closed the door quickly, turning to the young woman with a grin. "Today I was a prince." He told her.
"Oh, were you?" she asked with a smile. "And what sort of kingdom did you rule over?"
"Oh, I didn't have a kingdom." He told her, pulling a desperate pout "It was taken from me at birth when I was stolen by a thief's guild."
"How fantastic!" Sarah beamed. "But how did you ever get it back?
"Well, I ventured to the farthest corners of the earth," he continued, "To ask for help from the Goblin King-"
"The Goblin King?" Sarah asked, her smile faltering a bit. "Toby, about the Labyrinth…"
"I know, I know," he brushed her off with a charming smile. "It's only make pretend Sarah. None of it was ever real."
"…Is that what you believe?" she asked seriously, a look in her eyes that he had not seen before.
He opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced.
"Toby!" He was cut off by his mother's voice and there was something in her tone that made him worry. He glanced to Sarah before opening the door, baby-stepping down the stairs in his discomfort, Sarah close behind him.
"What is this!" his mother was demanding, holding a hard-cover book aloft. "What is the meaning of this!"
Toby's breath caught in his chest. He'd forgotten to take the picture book from his hamper when he'd gotten home.
"After all that we went through! After all the therapy and the medicine! How could you read something like this, Toby?"
"Mom…" he tried feebily.
"No," his father interrupted. The man's eyes looked hurt and wet as though he might have been crying. "Honestly Toby. How could you be so selfish? Do you know how much it hurt your mother and I to send you away? How much pain we went through after each visit?"
"I- I didn't like it there either!" he replied desperately. "It's just a book! It's just some pictures!"
"I gave it to him." Sarah tried to divert the attention from her little brother, to spare him some of the lecture.
Karen's lips grew thin and tight again. "I think you should be going, Sarah. Tonight is not a good night for you to stay. I'll schedule another appointment with Doctor Shaker in the morning. Apparently the medicine isn't working like we'd hoped."
"No!" Toby protested, now feeling frantic. "No, it- it's just a book! It doesn't mean anything!"
"Goblins, Toby? Fairies? The Goblin King? Do you want those fantasies to take you away from us again!"
Toby's chest felt tight. He was hurt and angry. He didn't want them to take away his book! He didn't want them to send Sarah home! He didn't want any more medicine!
"I wish he would come take me away!" he howled.
The lights flickered suddenly and a harsh breeze caused the screen door to clatter against the side of the house. Everyone fell silent.
Toby swallowed hard, embarrassed by his outburst and turned around to hide in his room. He stopped, however, noticing the worried look on his sister's face.
"Sarah?" he asked quietly.
"He's not what he seems, Toby," she whispered. "He's not what he seems!"
"It's time for you to go, Sarah." Karen said tersely, taking the girl by the arm.
"What have you done, Toby?" Sarah asked, her eyes pleading. "What have you done?"
Toby blinked, startled, confused. What had he done?
Alone in his room, Toby stared at the dark shadows on his ceiling. Sarah had been forced to go home and his mother had kept the book as evidence for the doctor. The young man couldn't imagine what manner of mess he'd gotten himself into. They would certainly be keeping a more watchful eye on him after this; making sure he took his pills, perhaps even a lock on his window. So thinking, he let his eyes wander to the window sill sadly. What would he do if he could no longer play out his fantasies? What would he do if he could no longer lean out the window on cool nights, hoping, just hoping that maybe… the voice would call to him, prove to him that he wasn't crazy, that it had been real all along. With that thought in mind, he rose from his bed, walking mournfully to the window. He carefully undid the latch, so as not to make a sound, opening the window for what might be the very last time. He sighed into the cool, night breeze, his heart heavy and aching, and closed his eyes. If only there really was someplace he could run away to, someplace far away where everyone was happy and everything was make believe all the time.
He jerked around suddenly as he heard a scittering sound behind him. Mice? It couldn't be; his mother would have a fit! Mice had learned to fear his house long ago. He reached for his bedside lamp and pulled the chain, but nothing happened. He gave it another tug. Maybe the bulb had burned out.
"Yah!" he jumped back from the window, landing sprawled on his bed. There, perched on his windowsill, was a snow white owl. His breath caught in his throat. It was both beautiful and terrifying with its sharp claws and piercing eyes. Toby made to sit up, but suddenly, he felt something tugging at his pant leg. He felt a chill creep up his entire body as he cast his eyes downward. What he saw turned his heart to stone with fear. A little green creature with wrinkled skin and very black eyes was climbing up his trousers, trying to pull itself onto his bed. He opened his mouth to cry out, but was silenced with a very hard thump to the back of his head. The world blurred, and the last thing he saw, or thought he saw, was a man standing where the owl had been only moments before. Am I dreaming? He wondered, Or have I finally… lost it…And all was black.