A/N: I know kids; it's been a while. But know that I'm still thinking about this, even if I'm not always writing it. It might take me a while to finish this. It's like it is with any other long story: even if you have everything planned out, you still need inspiration to strike in order to feel what you're writing. So, here's the next installment, with much love from me.
Chapter Six: The Demon Inbetween
Hanging out with Parker was good for him. She only hinted at asking what went wrong, and when he avoided the question she let it drop. He appreciated that. For once, he had actually had a good time. Why couldn't it just stay that way? Why couldn't the universe see fit to just let that feeling of buoyancy linger?
The house is dark when he walks in. That doesn't make sense, because it's not that late. Something should be happening. There should be some sound somewhere. Nothing. He clicks on the light in the living room, and the brightness almost blinds him. It still doesn't feel natural in here.
"Mom?" he calls, hoping she'll answer. "Mom, I'm home!"
Soft footfalls make their way down the stairs, slowly. A scared pale face looks at him. Her eyes are different.
"Where's dad?" He really shouldn't care; his father's a complete dick. But he does, just a little. He briefly wonders if she finally snapped and killed him.
"He's out. Probably drinking." Her voice is quiet, and yet more clear. Clearer than it's ever been. Travis looks at his mother, maybe for the first time in years. She's small in stature, compact with dirty-blonde hair. So different from his father.
"Travis…" She walks down the remaining stairs toward him, and now he can see the suitcase in her hand. Before he can say anything, she speaks again. "Go pack your bags."
For a moment he just stands there, staring. He feels kind of numb, like he doesn't know how to be happy. "Okay." Like so many other times, the word just slips out of his mouth. Only this time he doesn't want to stop it. The first step up the staircase feels like the first step he's ever really taken.
"Hurry up," his mother tells him as he goes, "I don't know when he'll be back, and I want to be long gone before he is."
So Travis packs his bags, not knowing what this means for his future. His friends, his… Danny. Anger and confusion bubble up beside the happiness, and he can't help but overflow as he fits his life into a large duffel bag and his backpack. He goes on autopilot, the tears blurring his vision. When he's done, he goes downstairs, and he and his mom get in her car and they go.
And right now, that has to be enough.
It's Saturday, and he's waking up in a motel, not too far from his… old… house. His mom only had so much money, and she refused to let him sleep in a car. She said that's what she'd do if it were just her, but she'd spent too much time not protecting him already.
He finds it strange to be here, with his mother. And he realizes that they haven't talked in what seems like forever. Not really.
He finds a note on the nightstand next to the lumpy motel bed. It says that his mother went to get some food, that she'd be back in half an hour or so.
Rubbing his eyes, he takes his hands away to find black makeup smudging them. And he wants to laugh. Laugh so hard that he chokes up his heart and it doesn't have to beat anymore, so then he won't be able to feel it pounding a hole through his chest.
He thinks maybe he's losing his mind.
Smudge and all, his hand comes down on the tan motel phone, and he dials a number he's committed to memory.
"Hello?" The voice sounds gravelly and tired, and only now does Travis glance at the clock to find that it's five thirty AM. He didn't think he was capable of waking up this early.
His voice freezes for a moment before he speaks. "H-hi… Danny."
"Uh… Travis?" His voice is more alert now, and Travis smiles as he can imagine him sitting up just a little bit straighter.
"Yeah…" For a moment, he almost forgets what he called to tell him. But then he sits up, and the sensation of his foot brushing his backpack brings everything back. "My mom and I… uh, we left."
There's silence on the other end, and then he can hear Danny clearing his throat. "You, uh… okay…" A pause, then, "Where are you?"
"In a motel… about an hour and a half out of town." Was this really what he called for? To discuss school arrangements with a man he wasn't supposed to like the way he did? "I don't-uhm. I don't know what to do." His tears are like acid, burning confused rivulets down his face. "I don't even know how to feel."
And now that laugh feeling is bubbling in his throat again. He hears comforting murmurs on the other side as he hiccups and giggles, and the laughter turns into unrelenting sobs that rock his body. Through the fog that's floating around his brain he manages to speak again. "I-I think I'm lo-losing my mind." And it's the most hilarious thing he's ever said; because, really, hasn't it already gone?
"It's going to be okay…" These five simple words shine through, and it's so blinding that he almost doesn't understand at first.
'It's going to be okay.'
Is it? Does everything just fall into place now? With his father out of his life, will he just suddenly feel better about himself? He can't believe it's that simple. Nothing ever really is; this he knows irrevocably.
"I have to go…" he speaks through questions and protests on the other end. "I think I love you." And with that he hangs up, and lays back down on the bed. He closes his eyes tight, counts backward from ten, and dreams of when his father was a good man.