Drake Was Here
Chapter One: Cold
Drake woke up freezing.
Groaning, he rolled onto his side, looking out over the room. Empty. His eyes found the digital clock next to his bed; 9:28 am.
Making a valiant attempt at ignoring the deep ache that rattled through his body, he sat up, hunching over and cradling his throbbing head in his hands.
He felt a little like he imagined it must feel to be put through a food processor and then thrown out a window into afternoon traffic. Shivering, he pulled his comforter around his shoulders before climbing down the ladder, his feet touching the cold floor hesitantly.
"Josh?" he called, surprised at the way his voice cracked sharply. When no one answered, he pulled the blanket tighter around himself, though it was doing nothing to keep him warm, and made his way to the bedroom door. Reaching out, he absently turned the knob, and was shocked when it didn't move.
The door was locked? He didn't remember locking the door last night. Then again, he didn't remember much of anything from last night, but judging from the way he felt, it must have been one hell of a party.
A bit unnerved, he unlocked the door and headed into the hallway and down the stairs. The living room and kitchen were empty, too, much to Drake's chagrin. Glancing at the food in the refrigerator only served to make his stomach turn in agony, so he gave up the idea of breakfast.
Frustrated, he let the blanket drop from his shoulders to rest on the kitchen floor, ran upstairs to throw on some clothes, and then he was out the door. Where his car was not.
Gaping, he looked at the empty space where his car had once sat. He looked around wonderingly at the empty driveway and the street in front of the house.
Had his car been stolen? He couldn't believe it! He almost screamed when he remembered that he'd left his guitar in the backseat – stupid!
Kicking the pavement, he ground his teeth and started in the direction of the Premiere.
Maybe Josh would know what was going on.
On the way to the theater, Drake looked up at the sky in confusion. There wasn't a cloud in sight, and the sun shown down powerfully, but he was still freezing. The people he passed in the street were all dressed for sunny weather, and none of them seemed bothered by the cold.
Upon reaching the movie theater, he whimpered on finding it just as cold as the street outside. Hurrying in, his eyes immediately went to the candy counter. Behind it sat, not Josh, but Gavin, meaning that Josh wasn't coming in today.
"Dammit…" Drake cursed, and turned to leave, when he heard Helen.
"Gavin, the butter's getting low, run down to the basement and get some more."
"Aw, man," Gavin responded sourly, "Why isn't Josh in today, anyway?"
A silence followed. Drake turned to look at the woman, who was staring down at her clipboard in melancholy. Sighing, she leaned forward and whispered something that made Gavin gasp in shock.
She nodded forlornly.
"Aw, man… that… that kinda… sucks…" Depression settled in over his face.
She nodded again, and then repeated her request for butter, before disappearing into her office.
Confused, sick, and now worried, Drake headed out the door, determined to find his brother.
When Drake arrived at home again, he was more exhausted and cold then he'd ever felt in his entire life. His spirits perked immediately, though, upon seeing his mother's car in the driveway. Hurrying in through the kitchen door, he entered the living room and saw his little sister on the couch, completely still and silent. Immediately suspicious, he glanced around nervously as he entered the room.
"Hey Megan, what's up?" He said, his voice now hoarse and worse then before.
The girl looked in his direction, startled, staring at him. Then, she stood up and left the room.
Drake frowned. "That was rude." He made his way to the couch, and flopped down on it, at least now certain that his family hadn't disappeared off the face of the earth.
He reached for the remote and turned on the TV. Muting it, he watched through half closed eyes as a cartoon cat was nearly beheaded by the mouse it was chasing. It wasn't too long before Drake fell into a restless, miserable sleep that he couldn't seem to escape. He thought he was conscious enough once to hear, with relief, his mother's voice.
"Megan, I thought I told you not to leave the TV on, sweetheart."
"I didn't, mom…"
And then his world was oblivion again.
When he finally managed to wake up, he opened his eyes to be greeted by darkness. Outside, the sun had set what looked like hours ago. All of the lights in the living room were off. Grumbling about people not waking him up, he stood stiffly.
Dim, yellow light filtered in through the crack in the shutters that covered the window between the kitchen and living room. Curious, Drake crept to them and pressed his eye against the crack. Inside, his mother and stepfather were talking quietly.
He was startled by the appearance of his parents. Audrey was ashen faced, her usually pristine hair hanging limp and sad. She moved as though expecting her body to fall apart at the seams, hunched, and holding her robe tightly around her body. Walter just looked plain unhealthy. Unshaven, with dark, heavy circles under his eyes, he leaned against the counter like it was a lifeline. Drake listened carefully to his parents' hushed voices.
"I know," Audrey was saying, "I… just … I just can't… not… not yet…"
"I understand, Audrey," Walter said, putting an arm around her shoulders, "And I think we should wait. For the kids… for us, too. I mean, I can't even ima-magine…" his voice broke and he trailed off unhappily.
Audrey rubbed her husbands arm. "I'm sure Josh is alright, Walter. He's a good kid. He just needs some alone time, some time to figure this out. He… he'll be alright. He'll be home before you know it."
Drake stiffened as his parents fell into an uneasy silence. What was wrong with Josh? What was going on here that no one had bothered to let him in on? And Josh wasn't home yet? Drake carefully rearranged his position so that he could just make out the clock above the oven. It was well after midnight.
He almost jumped out of his skin when he saw the kitchen door opening. Not wanting to get into trouble for eavesdropping, Drake hurried to the stairs, bounding silently up them three at a time.
When he reached his room, he was surprised to find his bed made neatly with the blanket he had abandoned on the kitchen floor that morning. Sighing, he crawled up into his bed and curled up underneath the blanket, still cold and achy, now doubly worried with a thousand unanswered questions.
He lay there for a good fifteen minutes, fighting off the sleep that tried to claim him. He wanted to be awake when Josh got home. But he was just so tired. It was impossible to hold off the tide of fatigue. Just as he fell out of consciousness, voices erupted downstairs.
It was six in the morning when Drake violently pulled himself out of his dreamless unrest, sucking in several horrible breaths, as though he had stopped breathing while he was sleeping. Fighting back a choked sob, he curled his shivering form into a ball. That was when he noticed the movement across the room.
Sitting up straight as a rod, unable to keep the grin off his face, Drake scouted Josh's bed to find that yes, the lump under the covers of the other bed were, in fact, his brother.
Flying down the rungs of his ladder and across the floor, he barreled himself into the larger form of his brother, reveling in the warmth that the contact caused. Josh mumbled in sleepy confusion, and then turned, his tired eyes open. He looked at Drake with his eyebrows furrowed.
"Hey," Drake said happily.
"Uh… hey?" Josh responded.
Drake smiled, wide awake, warm and comfortable. And then Josh's eyes popped wide open.
"Drake?" he said, as though startled by the notion.
Josh gasped, his mouth wide open and moving comically, reminding Drake of a fish he once had.
Sitting up, and not taking his eyes off Drake, Josh slowly shook his head. "You're… not…"
"I'm not?" Drake said playfully. Now fully relieved that his brother was here, and alright, he felt a hundred percent better. Even if, he thought with a bit of concern, Josh did look a bit thinner since yesterday.
Yesterday? It feels like so much longer then that…
"Um… Drake…" Josh was beginning to sweat. "I think I've lost my mind."
Drake cocked his head to the side. "Why? Have you been putting your underwear on outside of your pants again?"
"You're not… really… here."
"What?" Slightly offended, Drake pulled away. The chill he had been in all day tingled in his shoulders again. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Josh started to laugh nervously, standing up and leaving Drake even colder. "There… there's no way… you're here."
"Really?" Drake asked, "If I wasn't here, could I do this?" And with that he picked up a pillow and plowed it into the side of his brother's head.
Josh stood stock still, shocked. "You can't be here."
"Why?" Drake said, irritation slipping into his voice. "Why can't I be here?"
"Because…" Josh said desperately.
"Yeah?" Drake demanded.
Josh looked eerie standing in the dim morning light, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
A/N: Oh me oh my. Yes, I have left you at a cliff hanger. The mother of all cliff hangers, muahahaha! Actually, I imagine the mother of all cliff hangers actually involves someone hanging off a cliff. But still.