Whisper

//He had a smile on his face like the climax of a novel, and his kisses were the chorus to a treasured favourite song.\\

Benedict has lived six months in a ragged half existence, torn apart after his twin brother's accident. Still, when he meets Whisper, the happy-go-lucky boy in the wheelchair who volunteers at his support group, Benedict starts to realise that maybe it isn't totally impossible for him to begin enjoying life again. It's only after the two uncover some incriminating evidence that Ben understands that his brother's car crash wasn't quite so accidental as he originally thought.

\\The amazing, beautiful, wonderful cover is by @violets//

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17. CHAPTER FIFTEEN| Mother

 

Four o’clock in the morning is often an emotional time, according to scientists. People wake up earlier than they want to, and then realise, to their astute dismay, that they have got absolutely nothing to do. They come to terms with the fact that the social constructs of life have swallowed up the very definition of living, and wonder what to do with themselves during the time they don’t have to be going to work, or getting ready for work, or arranging to meet cousin Horatio outside the bingo club.

And, a lot of the time, people will bask in these new found revelations and marvel at such a horrible kind of epiphany. Then, as is the nature when it comes to epiphanies, people will curl up in a corner and cry for the loss of their ignorance.

Ignorance, many will agree, is an incredibly noble thing to cry for. It is a woeful thing to be ignorant, and even more woeful to lose one’s sense of ignorance. Of course, the worst thing of all would be to know and wallow in one’s ignorance, and yet to stay ignorant.

It’s a no-win situation, really.

At four o’clock in the morning, Whisper had woken up to see his boyfriend in fits of tears. Surprisingly, because of the time, Ben wasn’t crying for the loss of his ignorance. Half an hour ago he’d fallen face-first into consciousness and cried about the dream he’d had, but that was no longer why he was weeping. That had been half an hour ago, after all, and those tears had dried up on his face like a speck of dust upon a speck of dust, sucked inside the sky’s vacuum.

No. Ben was crying because Nurse Simpson had just delivered him the news about Sebastian Akamatsu’s state of well-being.  

The tears, for once, were tears of happiness.

“He’s going to live,” Nurse Simpson had said, and Ben had thought in that moment that the atomic bomb they call the world could have gone off in his heart, and he wouldn’t even have noticed for all the rapturous joy that he felt.

And so, long after Nurse Simpson had ran off to respond to urgent hospital business, Ben had sat on his uncomfortable hard-back chair, his body shaking as he sobbed.

Seb was alive.

Seb was alive.

Ben smiled shakily at Whisper even as he stained his own face with salt water, his hair falling into his eyes. He’d taken it out of its usual ponytail, and it flopped languidly in front of his face. Seb used to wear his hair like this, let loose and free around his shoulders.

And maybe, thought Ben, maybe Seb will get to wear his hair down like this again.

It was a good thought.

“Whisper,” whispered Ben, softly. That was funny, he thought, with a wry elation. Whispering the word ‘whisper’. He felt almost as if Whisper’s name should never be spoken properly again- instead confined to the hushed sort of silence that it seemed to go best with.

Whisper.

Ben had never realised that a name could sound so perfect.

“Seb’s never going to come this close to dying again,” said Ben, with resolve. “Because I – we – are not going to let that happen. Right?”

Whisper nodded slowly, chewing on his lip. “Didn’t you say your mum had told you there was a police investigator looking into it now, though? We might just get in the way, you know?”

“But the police don’t know anything about July or Darren, or any of them. Why would they?”

“So we should tell the police about Darren and July.” Whisper sighed, staring down at the floor unhappily. “And then we should probably just stay out of this, Ben. It’s just going to make you more upset.”

Stretching over the arm of Whisper’s wheelchair, Ben took his hand. “Whisper. Look at me, Whisper.” Ben’s voice seemed to burn, smouldering with a kind of muffled intensity that could have been animosity or simply a raging sort of passion.

Carefully, Whisper tilted his head to look at Ben.

“Seb is my brother,” said Ben, annunciating each syllable so clearly, he could have carved their pattern into his skin with a bloodied knife. “Seb is my brother, and I am going to do whatever I can to save him. I promised him, ages ago…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “And I would do anything to save Seb, Whisper. Goddamn anything. I would offer up the world on a silver plate, if I thought it would do any good- because I am tired, I am so, so tired, of being useless.” He laughed a little, although there was no humour in the sound, sweeping his hair from his face.

“I want to help him, Whisper. And…” Ben looked away, his voice trailing off into an embarrassed mumble. “I want you to help me help him.”

Whisper muttered something under his breath, and it sounded conspicuously along the lines of ‘Fine. I love you.’

Slowly, Ben’s face eased into a smile.

Life wasn’t so bad, really. Seb was alive, Whisper Anderson loved him, and it was only four o’clock in the morning.

The day was just getting started.

 

Merridew, Whisper’s father, had insisted upon driving to the hospital to collect them as soon as Whisper phoned, rather than waiting for a reasonable hour of the day to come strolling past. And that was why Ben and Whisper waited side by side by the hospital entrance at barely five in the morning. In the spasmodic gusts of wind, their hair seemed to dance around their heads like halos- as if they were stained glass window paintings of medieval saints.

That is, if two slightly scrawny gay guys (one of them in a wheel chair) could ever really be pictured as medieval saints.

Whatever.

Either way, the word Ben said when he turned around and saw his mother hurrying towards them: well, that definitely wasn’t very saintly. It rhymed with duck, started with the letter ‘f’, and it also wasn’t ‘fire truck’ because that would make no sense. 

Seeing his mother only pushed all the horrible Dan x stuff to the forefront of his mind. And Ben really, really didn’t want to think about any of that right now.

 Pushing Whisper’s wheelchair in front of him, Ben turned around without a word, walking away. Whisper craned to see what was happening, sucking in his breath as he saw Ben’s mum.

“I know I’m stating the obvious here,” he told Ben, surprisingly conversationally, “but that’s your mum. And she’s crying. Maybe you should stop and talk to her.”

Ben’s footsteps slowed as he responded to Whisper’s words, then quickened again at the sound of his mother’s heels against the concrete behind them.

“Seriously, Ben. Look, I don’t know what’s happened between you, but your mum’s crying. And she needs you. Stop and talk to her, and-“ Whisper paused, yelping slightly as Ben almost scraped his wheelchair against a parked car, manoeuvring them through the crowded car park.

“Shit,” said Ben, in a rush. “Sorry.”

Behind them, Ben’s mother called out to them. “Wait!”

And Ben started running. Whisper yanked at the brakes, eyes wide as Ben veered them into the path of a reversing car. Whisper yelled, eyes starting to tear in the wind, widening as any relative calm left his voice entirely. “Ben! What the hell are you doing?”

“I… I haven’t run like this in months,” Ben panted, smiling through the rage that was rearing up inside his chest. ‘Dan x’. Stupid, stupid ‘Dan x’. It wasn’t his fault that he was having to run from his mother, now- it was all his mum’s fault – his mum, and ‘Dan x’, whoever he was.

So, so what if this is childish? Ben thought, as his legs pounded against the concrete, his black hair flying out behind him like streamers at a funeral. I deserve to be childish I deserve to enjoy this. I deserve to be able to get upset about things, when I have so much stuff to be upset about. I-

“Wait!” howled his mother behind him, like a wounded animal. “Wait!”

Maybe it was the pain in her voice, or the fact that Ben had used up most of his available stamina. Either way, at the sound of his mother’s scream, Ben let his footsteps patter to a halt. Whisper turned to stare at him, his eyes bulging so much it was as if they were choking.

“Ben,” he said quietly, his voice more gentle than it might have been, “Ben, what the hell?”

But Ben was only silent, waiting for his mother to catch them up. She clattered towards them on her too-high heels, the unexpected morning run having smudged her tears across her cheeks like blusher. She came to stand opposite the two boys, the three of them taking up an entire empty parking space.

“Benedict,” she said, the lines of her face etched in as if they were forged an awfully long time ago. “Sebastian’s going to live. Isn’t that great?”

Really, Ben could have answered that with anything. He could have shouted at his mother for using their full Christian names, as if her sons were boys she barely knew. He could have laughed in her face at such an obvious question, demanding such an obvious answer.

Except, you see, they were both exhausted.

It was just past five o’clock in the morning, and the world was just about to get yawning to its feet. Only, Ben and his mother felt like they’d been awake for ever. Since Seb had first crashed Ben’s car, all those months ago.

Staying awake for over twenty four hours at one time is bound to make a person weak. For Ben and his mother- it was kind of a wonder they were still alive, really.

Ben nodded weakly, looking into his mother’s eyes so she knew that he was telling the truth. “Yeah. Yeah, Mum. It’s great.”

“Yeah?” asked his mother, as if she needed confirmation to be happy.

“Yeah,” said Ben, flatly. Then, because he couldn’t help it, and even if he was exhausted it didn’t mean he wasn’t still mad or childish, he spat out an obligatory, “Although I’m sure Dan has made you happier than this has.”

Ben’s mother shook her head in confusion. “Ben, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She looked at Whisper, her forehead wrinkling. “You’re Whisper, aren’t you? Has Ben spoken about any of this to you?”

Mutely, Whisper shook his head.

Mouth falling open in outrage, Ben gritted his teeth. “I told you, Mum. I saw the goddamn emails from him. You’ve been meeting up with this stupid ‘Dan’ guy, whoever he is, behind Dad’s back for ages now.”

“My email was hacked weeks ago, Ben. I’ve been using a temporary account at the law firm until I can get it sorted out- but I swear to you, I haven’t been able to access my usual account for days. I don’t know anything about this ‘Dan’.”

 “Yes you do! For God’s sake, stop lying to me, Mum!”

If Ben’s tone could get any more insolent, he’d be pulling faces and stamping his feet.

“Ben,” said his mother, her voice tentatively collected. “I am not ‘lying’ to you, and I would never lie to you. Now, I want you to listen to me, please-” She stopped short as Ben looked away, tossing his head. His mother’s voice cracked. “Ben! Do you realise how little respect you’re showing to me, right now? You’ve got to listen to me, Ben. I don’t know anything about any ‘Dan’, and I don’t-” She broke off, as Merridew’s car pulled into the car park. With measured footsteps, Ben began to push Whisper towards it, ignoring his slight protests.

“Ben!” cried his mother, desperately, grabbing at his shirt sleeve. “Ben, let me talk to you! I don’t want to lose another son!”

With disgust, Ben stopped walking, but didn’t turn around. “Seb’s not lost,” he told his mother, coldly. “I’m going to protect him, and he’s going to wake up. If you cared about him, you’d try and protect him, too. Instead of going on with Dan and then denying it.”

Benedict Akamatsu didn’t look back at his mother all the way to Merridew’s car. If he did, maybe he would have felt sorry for her. She stood crying in the middle of the crowded car park, her business suit crumpled like it had forgotten how it felt to love her.

Yeah, maybe Ben would have felt sorry for the woman who cared for him most, then.

Possibly. Probably not.

Merridew’s car was a blood-red sort of scarlet- and under the hazy, five o’clock light, it almost seemed like a taunt. 

 

WHISPER

A ROMANCE BY MIRLOTTA

//cover by @chloe.iremunen\\

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