Drake Was Here
Chapter Three: Everything's Gone
What Josh remembered of the week after his brother died was the pain, confusion and stifling loneliness. He remembered sitting alone in their room that seemed suddenly all too large.
Mostly, he remembered the thousand times he wanted desperately to talk to Drake about it, knowing he never could.
He remembered not sleeping much, because he knew, if he did, he would wake up praying it was just a dream. The longer he didn't sleep, the longer it wasn't really real.
Where was Drake?
Out on a date with Mandy at the Premiere.
Why wasn't he there when the sun came up?
He had forgotten a test and studied all night, falling asleep in the living room.
Why wasn't he at the painfully awkward and silent family dinners?
He was out partying and mom and dad were going to ground him so hard when he got home...
As much as Josh wanted to tell himself these things, the uncontrollable memories were enough to tell him they weren't true.
"Josh... Megan... sit down, there's... there's something we need to tell you..."
"What is it? Why are you crying, mommy?"
"Dad? What's going on?"
"Your brother... Your brother was in an accident."
"What? What's wrong with Drake? Is he okay? Is he hurt?"
"He's not okay, is he? What happened? Where is he?"
"Josh... Megan... Your brother... your brother is..."
"NO! I don't believe you!"
"Josh, I'm so sorry... Drake is dead."
After that, he remembered stumbling away from them, into the bathroom, falling onto his knees and not quite making it to the toilet before emptying his lunch all over the floor. He remembered Megan's screaming sobs and denials. He remembered the sudden explosion of hate and rage and despair inside, making a home inside him.
His father and Mindy tried to help him, but he wouldn't talk to anyone. When Helen wouldn't let him work, saying he needed to rest and deal with the loss, he started going out and staying out all hours of the night. He wasn't really going anywhere. He just walked or drove around, going any place that was open and would let him in.
Audrey and Walter were so sick with grief over Drake worry over Josh that they seemed to age five years within the span of five days. The sadness and frustration built up steadily and quickly, resulting in screaming matches whenever Josh would finally get home at some ungodly hour of the night.
He remembered wanting to die.
That seemed so strange and distant now. He hadn't paused to think about it then, but now, with his dead-but-alive brother lying huddled in his arms, listening to what Josh knew about his death, he realized what it was he had been feeling. It was like the other half of his soul had been ripped out of him, and no one quite understood. In that short week without Drake, it felt like something vitally important, something that had been with him forever, was gone.
"It was a car accident, out on the highway," Josh explained. "I don't know if you remember, but you were on your way to the beach with Molly Pierce."
He looked up, startled. "Is she okay?"
"Physically, yeah," Josh said softly.
"What do you mean?"
"Its been... well, its been tough on us all, Drake."
He shuddered at the memory of Molly's stony, grey face. He had seen her once, at the funeral, and she had looked right at him. Her eyes had been so frighteningly empty. He thought about what she must have seen and what she must have gone through. He knew all about survivor's guilt, having experienced it himself in the worst of ways.
Drake shifted, sighed and sniffled a bit. "…I'm hungry."
Josh rolled his eyes, but he had to bite his lower lip hard to keep from laughing.
How many people get a second chance? He wondered. Or have I just completely lost it?
Down in the kitchen, as Drake rifled through the refrigerator, Josh pondered his own mental health. It was very, very possible that he had simply snapped under the pressure and was only imagining, vividly, that Drake had come back from the dead for only him to see.
Then again, that doesn't explain what happened earlier, does it? He peeked into the living room, and sure enough, two windows were still shattered, though the glass had been cleaned up.
All right, Josh resigned himself to the thought, My brother has come back from the dead to haunt me.
Not that it was a bad thing, per say. But Josh had never really believed in the supernatural. That irrational mentality had always been Drake's forte. He felt a sweep of sadness at that, and then slight foolishness as he thought, Oh, but Drake's dead and then, Oh, but he's right here.
"Josh," Drake said, his head still in the fridge, "Where's my pudding?"
"You ate it."
"What? No I didn't! I think I'd remember that."
Josh sighed, "I'm telling you, you ate it before you left.. when… you know."
Drake turned to glare at him, "If I find out you ate my pudding, something bad is going to happen to your Oprah tapes."
He gasped. "Evil!"
The kitchen swung open and they both froze. Megan walked in with a suspicious look on her face. "Josh… who are you talking to?"
Josh went bright red and immediately began stammering, "Uh, er, no-no one, why would I be talking to someone, obviously no one's here, right? So who, who would I be talking to?" He laughed nervously.
Megan's eyes narrowed at the open refrigerator, which Josh was across the room from. "Why's the refrigerator open?"
Josh avoided her gaze. "No reason."
Walking quickly across the room to stand, unbeknownst to her, right next to her dead brother, who was standing as still as he could as though it made a difference, she grabbed the handle and slammed the door right into Drake. He yelped loudly as it bounced off him, and a jug of milk burst open, soaking him in an instant.
"Holy- what's wrong with this door?" Megan asked, eyes boggling. She tried several times in succession to close the door, much to Drake's dismay as he was continuously slammed while trying to scramble out of the way.
"Megan!" Josh yelled, alarmed.
"Why won't this stupid door close!"
"Because!" Josh latched onto the door before she could make another attempt to shut it. "Because, you're… er… not… doing it right?"
Dazed, Drake stumbled away from the refrigerator. Josh slowly demonstrated closing the door, pretending he was doing something drastically different then her. Then he re-opened it and quickly started to mop up the mess. A sudden, tiny sniffle from the girl startled him. Tears were running down her face in streams, reminding him uncannily of Drake's earlier waterworks.
"Oh… Megan…" Josh said helplessly, looking over to a still wounded and milk-soaked Drake. "D-don't cry… I mean… It's just milk…" He winced at those last words and mentally berated himself. It's just milk? Yeah, Josh, good one. Standing, he pulled her carefully into his arms. "It's okay Megan. It's going to be okay."
"I hate him…" she said in the tiniest of voices. "I miss him… How can he just be gone?"
"He's not gone, Megan, he's… he's right here with us." Drake scoffed at the cheesiness, but Josh just shrugged. What else could he say?
Megan pulled away, looking up at him with a brightness in her eyes that was, to say the least, disturbing. "Yeah. Yeah, he is."
And then she turned, more ghostly then her dead brother, and walked silently out of the kitchen.
"Um… What did she mean by that?" Drake asked, arching a brow.
"I really don't know if I want to know," Josh answered.
Up in their room again with a bag of chips and two sodas, Josh flopped onto the couch, followed shortly by Drake who sat right next to him, closer then he'd ever tried to be when he was alive.
Josh set the can down on the floor and sat quietly, just listening to his brother eating and drinking, trying to memorizing the feeling of not being alone in this room. Finally, after five minutes, during which Drake had devoured almost all of the chips, Josh cleared his throat.
"So… Drake. Don't you think we should talk?" He asked.
"'Bout what?" Drake asked with a stubborn look on his face. This was not something he wanted to talk about.
"Well… Okay." Josh sat up a bit straighter. "Let's say, that, you know, this isn't just some crazy dream. And let's say I haven't gone nuts and you're not just some figment of my imagination. And let's say that we're not being Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher. That means that you really are… a ghost, or whatever it is that you are." He took a moment to contemplate how completely wrong the movies were about ghosts and their appearances before getting back to the matter at hand. "Well… Why?"
"Why what?" Drake said as he scooped a handful of crumbs out of the chip bag.
"Why… are you here, and not wherever you're supposed to be?"
"You mean the shiny afterlife or whatever? All unfinished business stuff?"
"Don't care." Drake said nonchalantly, and Josh, horrified, knew he was being honest.
"You don't care? How could you not care? I mean, come on-"
"I don't care," Drake said simply, "Because it doesn't matter. Obviously I'm not going to stay dead."
At this, Josh was completely dumbstruck. "What?"
Drake grinned widely at his brother and took a swig of his drink. "I'm not going to stay dead because we're going to find a way to resurrect me."
A/N: Ah, yes. There will still be drama and angst in this story, but, to be perfectly honest with you, the next few chapters at the least are going to be much more lighthearted. Don't worry, though, angst-fans, it'll be back.
It always comes back.