DISCLAIMER: All recognizable parts belong to SM. No copyright infringement intended. All lyrical references and quotes are property of their original artist. No copyright infringement intended.
A/N: Songs listened to on repeat while writing: Nine Inch Nails – Mr. Self Destruct, and We're In This Together.
Thanks to OCDMess, my Grey Cloud. Also, thanks to PTB for betaing.
*Warning. This fic includes controversial and mature topics such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Retrograde Amnesia, Physical child abuse, Child neglect, Child abandonment, Illegal Drug use, Mild violence, murder, and serious incurable disease. Consider yourself warned. There will be a notice at the top of each chapter stating which topic will be addressed.
This chapter includes discussion of illegal drug use, sex, retrograde amnesia, and contains mild language.
"We do what we must . . . Sometimes we can choose the path we follow. Sometimes our choices are made for us. And sometimes we have no choice at all."
~ Dream, Neil Gaiman's 'The Sandman: Season of Mists'
Mr. Self Destruct
I cranked up the volume on my iPod and tried to ignore my uncle's rambling about… well whatever it was he was rambling about now. His lips were still moving, so I could only assume he was still talking to me. I could deal with other people packing my shit, because really, it wasn't my shit. It was shit bought for me, but I didn't pick it out. That would have required that I knew what I liked when it was purchased. I could even deal with the long-ass drive after the lame-ass flight after the boring-ass waiting at the airport. What I couldn't deal with, was small talk.
Carlisle and I had lived together for four years now, and you would think that he would have caught on to that by now. There wasn't much to learn about me in the first place, seeing as how I didn't know much about myself to begin with. I can't remember anything about my life before I woke up in a white hospital room in an itchy blue gown when I was thirteen. Carlisle was a doctor there and also my uncle, or so they told me. I knew how to talk and basic things learned in school like Math and English and History, but I didn't know what my name was, or where I lived, or who my parents were, or what my childhood was like. I didn't know if my favorite color was blue or green, or if I was an Autobots or a Decipticons fan. I couldn't tell you when my birthday was, or who my best friend was.
I didn't know anything about who I was.
When the nurses and doctors tried to tell me about what had happened, I felt like I was listening to someone tell me about their nightmare. How they couldn't wake up and run to check that everyone was alive and everything was as it should be. I was stuck in a constant loop, forever on repeat. I would wake up, try a new breakfast, walk around the hospital, and watch TV. People would check on me, and I would hear more details about the man and woman I should have already known about, and then go to bed.
Every time I woke up hoping I would remember what happened, and every time I was disappointed. I watched as their faces fell and grew hopeless, but I knew that if I tried to make up anything, they would know I was lying.
Carlisle was the only relative who was willing to take me. How fucking pathetic is that? My grandparents couldn't really afford it, and weren't in the best condition to take in a teenage boy. My mother had a sister who was God knows where sucking God knows whose dick, and my father only had one brother, Carlisle. I can't really complain though. Carlisle was a young guy, only twenty-eight at the time, and living with him beat the hell out of foster care. He was also rich, being a doctor and all.
When I moved in with Carlisle, he tried all the various methods of therapy, including hypnosis to try to help me remember, but nothing worked. I never dreamed, I never woke up screaming, and I never had any flashbacks. They called it a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. I just called it fate. Obviously I wasn't supposed to remember something, so why push it so hard?
I struggled for the first two years to figure out who the fuck I was. That shit was aggravating. People always asking you "Do you like ketchup with your fries?" or "Do you like that new single by so-and-so?" and shit. I always felt like I was faking who I was. When I found something I thought I liked, I would wonder if the previous me would have liked it too.
That's what I called myself pre-memory loss - Previous Me, or sometimes EC1 when I was feeling particularly acerbic.
It wasn't until I was sixteen that I said screw it; I liked what I liked now, and that was who I was. Who I used to be, or could have been didn't matter anymore. That's when my rebellious stage, as Carlisle likes to call it, kicked in. I discovered music, girls, and drugs just like any other teenager, but I didn't have the pre-conceived notion of right and wrong, morals, ethics, or any of that other shit your parents taught you growing up. Carlisle tried to play catch up, but by the time he realized what I had been up to while he worked, it was too late. I had tasted life in its spontaneous and intoxicating glory, and I didn't want to change who I was again because someone had decided what was good for me.
Yet there I was, sitting shot-gun in some lame rental SUV next to the man who was trying to do exactly that. He thought by moving us to some small town, my issues would suddenly fade away and resolve themselves. He claimed it was because he had a better job offer, but the timing was pretty fucking suspicious to believe that particular excuse. How could Forks, Washington offer a better job than Chicago, Illinois?
I shouldn't complain though, Seattle was only a two, maybe three hour drive away and definitely had better shit than Chicago. For one, the music was much better; there was only so many blues festivals one could take without wanting to kill something. Then there were the drugs. It was widely known that the further west you got, the better the quality.
The song changed on my iPod, pulling me from my train of thought and giving me a few seconds to hear what Carlisle was going on about.
"So it will be a few days before the cars get here, so you will just have to catch a ride with me in the morning, or walk to school on Monday," he said in a calm voice, like he was reading off someone's name and age on one of his medical charts.
"What?" I pulled the ear-buds out of my ears and turned quickly to look at him. "What do you mean I'll have to walk? Fuck that, why can't I get a rental too?"
His lips turned up in an all-knowing grin. "Glad to have you join in on the conversation."
"Whatever," I grumbled and looked back at the road.
"I didn't see a need for you to get a rental; the town isn't all that big. The school is only a mile from the house and the cars should be here by Wednesday, so it's really not necessary to waste the money on a second rental," he explained.
I huffed loudly and shoved the ear-buds back in my ears and skipped the current track, looking for something harder. I held out my iPod out in front of me and cranked up the volume to max, making sure my hands were in his peripheral vision before turning my head to look out the passenger window.
This is such bullshit.
By six o'clock, we were pulling into the driveway of our new house. It was already dark outside due to the cloud coverage and it smelled like rain. Wonderful. I hated the rain. Any cold, wet thing just wasn't my style. I guess I didn't like Chicago much for similar reasons, but at least I had the city to distract me there. In Forks, it seemed everything was green and undomesticated and just plain boring.
I climbed out of the SUV slowly, stretching my limbs before putting all of my weight on them. It felt like I hadn't moved in days. Stupid traveling. I collected my carry-on bags from the back of the car and walked toward the house. The porch was vast and looked like it wrapped around the entire bottom level. I waited for Carlisle by the door as he fumbled with his keys trying to find the right one. I rolled my eyes and shifted my weight onto my other foot.
"Patience is a virtue, Edward," Carlisle said as he placed the key in the door.
"Too bad I lost my virtue in the back of an Audi Coupe," I said snidely.
Carlisle rolled his eyes and pushed the door open, reaching inside for the light switch. The place lit up in a yellowish hue, illuminating the entire room in an odd antique fashion. Everything was white except for the pale wooden floors. Christ, even the carpet on the stairs was white. You would think that after looking at white walls in a hospital all day, he would want a little color at home. Apparently not.
"Looks like someone either lacks decorative creativity, or was looking for some innocence and virtue of their own," I said sarcastically.
"The movers will be here tomorrow morning with our belongings. I told the realtor not to bother decorating; we would hire someone to do that later. I thought that maybe you would want to have some input." He turned to look at me over his shoulder as he set down the car keys on the bannister. The look in his eyes hinted at hope, or longing or some emotional bullshit.
I quickly looked away, pretending to take in the appearance of the entry way, and sighed. "Sure, if you want everything decorated in black and leather."
Carlisle just sighed and looked away, dropping his head. "I just thought you might want to make it feel more like a home, considering you seem to be figuring out your own taste now." He sounded distant, or disappointed. I immediately felt bad for throwing away such a simple offer like that. "I guess I can just call a decorating company on Monday and set up an appointment."
"No, no… I…" I hesitated. I hated disappointing Carlisle, but I really didn't have a clue about decorating. "I think dark blue would look cool. You know, like as the main theme or whatever they call it. This place is so damn green, the last thing I want is to be reminded I live in the fucking forest while inside, too." I shrugged, hoping he would take my suggestion as an effort to meet him halfway.
"That sounds like an excellent idea, Edward," he said while smiling. He looked up at the ceilings, then back at me. "Want to see the upstairs? The rooms are supposed to be fucking massive," he said enthusiastically.
I laughed and nodded. When Carlisle cussed with me, I knew he was pleased. It beat him cussing at me any day. We charged up the stairs and stopped at the top. The hallway was a long, wide corridor with doors on both sides. How many fucking rooms does this place have? I walked along the right side, running my fingertips over the bumpy shit they always covered the walls with. Carlisle and I took turns opening rooms and peering in to see what they were. He took the left side of the hall, and called out "bathroom" and "linen closet," while I found the first bedroom and a smaller room that looked like a study. The last room on the left was the second bedroom, and I called dibs.
I walked into my new bedroom, admiring the size of it and the attached bathroom. I had called the master bedroom without even knowing it, but Carlisle didn't put up a fight. He wasn't home nearly as much as I was to enjoy it properly anyway. Besides, the other one was right next to the study, which I knew he would end up inhabiting more than any other room in the house. It just made sense this way.
I checked out the huge bathroom that was connected by a large archway and my jaw dropped. Carlisle sure knows how to find a house. There was a black marble tub big enough to fit four people and a walk-in shower that was only divided from the rest of the bathroom by a wide piece of glass. There was no door, or step to get in, you just walk around the piece of glass. It was fucking awesome.
I explored the rest of the bedroom and marveled over the huge walk-in closet and attached balcony. I immediately looked forward to smoking out on the balcony. I wouldn't have to cover up the smell or hide behind the garage or some shit anymore. I headed back downstairs to explore the rest of the barren but luxurious house with curiosity.
The living room had a fireplace against the far wall and a huge bay window and bench seat. The dining room was a long, narrow space that I knew would go unused. The kitchen however, was almost as fucking awesome as my bedroom. Almost.
It was easily as large as the living room, with black and white marble tile. There was track lighting over the long bar and sleek black appliances that looked like they had never been used.
"Fuck me sideways," I said quietly.
Carlisle chuckled behind me, clapping his hand over my left shoulder. "That might hurt a bit," he joked. I smirked back at him as I walked toward the fridge. Our mutual sense of humor was one of the few things I really enjoyed about living with Carlisle. He said I reminded him of my father when he was my age.
"So why the epic expenditure, Mr. Moneybags?" I asked.
"I figured you only live once, and we're bachelors so why not enjoy it while we got it? Besides, there weren't many houses for sale in this area that were both close to the hospital and the school," he explained.
Close to both the hospital and the school. Right. This town was maybe ten miles long, at most. There was no far away from the hospital or school. I rolled my eyes and shot him my glance that called bullshit. He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders.
"So, feel up to a trip for food? We could check out the town, grab some grocery essentials, and pick up some pizza," Carlisle said.
Pizza. That was one of the things I would miss from Chicago. People have their favorites and everything, I get that, but Chicago Deep Dish pizza was simply the only way to eat a real pizza. All they had out here was Pizza Hut and shit. I'll pass.
"How about some burgers and shit? I don't feel like being reminded so soon of the good pizza we left behind," I said bitterly. He knew I was pissed about moving, and I didn't want him to forget it so quickly.
Carlisle sighed and nodded as he turned around and walked out of the kitchen. I followed behind him and locked the front door.
We stopped at some small diner for burgers and fries. The waitress was all too excited to ask the newcomers in town every typical question in the book. She was also rather quick to flirt with Carlisle whenever she got the chance. I rolled my eyes and huffed into my plate in annoyance. I got my good looks from my dad's side of the family. That wasn't to say that my mother wasn't beautiful, but I was often told how much I looked like my father.
Carlisle made sure to sit me down and tell me about my family every night for the first few months of living with him. At first he thought that it might help me to remember, but later it just turned into a way for us to connect and for him to remember his brother. Sometimes I forgot that he had lost someone close to him as well. It felt awkward though, always trying to grieve for someone I couldn't remember. It felt wrong, like I wasn't doing my parents any justice. I should have been fighting to remember them. Somewhere deep in my mind was the truth of what happened to them, to us, but I couldn't help them and it made me hate myself. That's when I started becoming so rebellious.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was fifteen. I smoked my first joint three months later. That same week, I lost my virginity to Tanya in the back of her brand new Audi Coupe her parents got her for her birthday. I tried cough medicine with my buddy Laurent on his sixteenth birthday, and later that month did E for the first time. I found I didn't like the uppers nearly as much as I liked the downers. I didn't like the jittery, wide awake feeling they gave me, and I always felt paranoid. I did my first shot of heroin during the summer of last year, and felt like I found heaven.
That's what landed me here. Carlisle happened to come home early from a shift one night and I was completely out of it. I was completely incoherent and beyond fucked up when he started looking over my entire body for evidence of what I had taken. He found my marks relatively quickly and got me to the hospital. That was in September.
We argued for a few months, and it got pretty ugly to be honest. I started taking off for days at a time when Carlisle had his longer shifts. When he came home and I wasn't there, shit would hit the fan all over again. He threatened to toss my ass in some lame-ass rehab if I didn't straighten out. Eventually, he grew tired of making lame threats and "removed me from the situation," as he put it.
Like I couldn't find drugs here.
Although to be honest, I really wasn't looking for the hard stuff again so quickly. Not that I planned to quit or anything; I just didn't want to fuck up what Carlisle had put so much effort into doing. Getting him off my back was the important part.
After dinner, Carlisle and I went in search of the grocery store. We didn't have to look long. We picked up the essentials: coffee, cereal, ice cream, milk, and eggs. I grabbed a pack of smokes with my fake ID while he was busy pumping gas, using the excuse of a sudden desire for Cheetos to cover my ass.
When we got home, I retreated to my barren bedroom and sat in the center of the floor, trying to decide where I wanted to put shit. I didn't have much furniture; our place in Chicago was a small townhouse and I was younger when I moved in and didn't need much. Practically reading my mind, Carlisle knocked on my door to ask me if I wanted to go up to Seattle to go furniture shopping after the movers got here in the morning. I agreed, but told him not to bug me before ten. There was no way in hell was I waking up any earlier to go shopping on a Saturday. Weekends were sacred. Sleep was like my religion, and I practiced with intense loyalty.
Carlisle didn't bother me after that and I took advantage of the balcony attached to my bedroom to have a cigarette before calling it a night. All we had to sleep on was pillows and sleeping bags, so I didn't expect to sleep well. When I woke up the next morning with a stiff neck, a stiff dick, and sore shoulders, I knew it was going to be a rough day. I looked at my watch and swore when my eyes finally focused to see that it was only nine in the morning.
I crawled out of the sleeping bag, freezing my balls off, and headed for the toilet. I stopped in my tracks as I took in the bathroom's awesomeness once again and smirked. A hot shower was a fucking must for these stiff muscles. I went about my morning ritual, and rifled through my bag for some warmer clothes for the afternoon. I settled on my black Dickies, a long sleeve black shirt, and my Nine Inch Nails t-shirt. I slipped on my pinstripe Converse and ran my fingers through my hair.
Carlisle was already waving the movers in various directions with boxes, telling them which room everything went in. He looked like a fucking crossing-guard. I sat on the bottom stair and watched in amusement as he directed traffic, yelling obscenities when someone put something down too heavily, or didn't wipe their shoes well enough.
After thirty minutes of hilarity, the movers were finished and we locked up and headed for Seattle. Just being in the city had me grinning like a post-coital douche. We picked out a bigger entertainment system and TV, and I pressured him into getting the fucking awesome leather sofa and recliner. It matched or some shit, and he had said he wanted to enjoy the whole "bachelor experience." We also got bigger beds and some furniture for our rooms. I didn't have a desk back in Chicago, so we added that to the list of items to be delivered on Sunday along with a leather love seat for my room.
I think Carlisle enjoyed spending time and money with me because we didn't argue at all the entire day. He seemed to be in a genuinely good mood and I tried to not push any buttons or be an overly ass-tastic dick. I groaned when he mentioned buying more clothes for the rainy weather, but I managed to slip a pair of Doc Martins into the pile, claiming they would be good for the rain and snow. I shot him a smirk and he rolled his eyes but didn't say no.
He saw through my bullshit, and I saw through his. We were pretty fucking even that way. I reminded him to lighten up and use his sense of humor, and he reminded me to not take myself so seriously. Quid pro quo, or some shit.
Our last stop was the book store. I was amazed at some of the odd shit I found that they carried. I pleaded with Carlisle for the entire Sandman Collection of graphic novels, and a few of the Chuck Palahniuk books I hadn't read yet. I had checked out the Sandman graphic novels from libraries dozens of times, and could quote that shit like it was my Bible, but I never thought to buy it before. He caved, but only under the condition that I help him to unpack and arrange the house tomorrow when the furniture arrived. I could deal with manual labor for my Gaiman and Palahniuk addiction, and agreed eagerly.
The drive home was stress-free. He let me choose the radio station, and we talked about ideas for the house. It sounds girly and shit, but it wasn't. We decided to decorate ourselves; there was no way in hell we were letting some chick decorate our "bachelor pad." We settled on going for modern and simplistic look, so we picked up some cans of paint, rollers, and drop sheets from a local store before heading home.
I fished through the insanely organized boxes for the stereo and hooked it up to my iPod to play music while we painted; we drank coffee to keep ourselves awake until four in the morning. We painted the living room in a midnight blue, the dining room in a tan, and Carlisle chose a light grey for his bedroom. Weird ass motherfucker. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on my own room, painting the bottom two-thirds black, and the top third the same midnight blue as the living room. It was dark, like a cave, and I fucking loved it.
We spent all day Sunday unpacking, arranging furniture, and stocking the house with the necessities. By the time dinner rolled around, it felt like a home, not just a house. We were both feeling rather smug and accomplished by the time we dragged our sore and exhausted asses to bed. I had to be up at the ungodly hour of six a.m. for school, and Carlisle was scheduled to start work at eight.
"I'll drop you off on my way to work, so be ready to leave by a quarter after seven," Carlisle said as we walked up the stairs.
I groaned and nodded in understanding and said goodnight.
I wasn't looking forward to starting a new school. This town seemed like one of those places where everyone knows each other's business. The last thing I wanted was someone pushing for details about my past because I wouldn't be able to tell them shit. I collapsed on my new amazingly fan-fucking-tastic bed and was asleep in seconds.