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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11. CHAPTER NINE| Silent Night

 

If you imagine waking up and finding yourself somehow, inexplicably, at the bottom of the ocean – and yet perfectly comfortable in these new surroundings – you have come fairly close to how Ben felt waking up in the middle of the night, on a mattress at the foot of Whisper’s bed. He rolled onto his stomach lazily, stretching his arms above his head.

The room was so dark that Ben had to remind himself that his eyes were, in fact, open; the blinds that covered the large windows had long been drawn (and hung and quartered for all Ben could tell). He didn’t know exactly where he was, though he realised quite quickly that this was not his own room, nor his own bed. At first he figured he’d somehow checked himself into a hotel or something like one, but then he remembered that he’d had no money to start with, and what little he did have had been spent on getting drunk.

There was a murmur from the bed that loomed across from him. At least, Ben supposed it was a bed. It looked more like a large, oblong, black blob, but still, an extraordinarily bed-shaped black blob. Ben sat up quickly, ignoring the painful rush of blood to his head. “Who…?”

A grunt, and then another murmur. “It’s me.” A pause. “Whisper.”

“Whisper?”

“You were drunk. You’re still drunk now. Remember?”

Ben rubbed his throbbing temples. “Ah… I’m at your house?”

“We couldn’t have left you alone at your own house. My parents were going to call your mum- they checked the contacts on your phone to look for a number…” Whisper trailed off, sleep tainting his voice with its bleary kisses. “But then they saw a text saying she’d be out all night anyway, so we just thought-“

Ben frowned, wincing at the effort of it and then wincing some more at the effort of wincing. “I… I have a passcode on my phone.”

“Yeah, but…” Whisper laughed nervously. “Julian hacked it for us. Before he left to go home. He offered to carry you back to the car after you blacked out, you know?”

“I blacked out?” Ben scooted round acknowledging that Julian might not be a complete asshole and prayed that Whisper wouldn’t pull him out on it.

“Yeah, you blacked out. I thought that only happened in movies. Do you… Do you faint a lot?”

“Only when I’m drunk.”

“Are you drunk a lot?”

“Oh, yeah,” Ben rolled his eyes. Not that Whisper could see. It was more a reflexive action than anything. “All the time.”

“Really?”

“No.”

“Oh. Me neither. Is it…?” Whisper cut off, leaning across to his bedside table. He clicked on a little blue lamp, squinting at Ben until his eyes adjusted.

Ben blinked. “Is what what?”

“Alcohol. Beer. Is it actually nice?”

“Only if you count stagnant piss as quality drinking.”

Whisper laughed. “That bad?”

“Just said so, didn’t I?” Ben shrugged, raking a hand through his hair. Someone had had the presence of mind to tie it back for him, though it still smelt faintly of sick.

Whisper laughed again, the sound a dulled repetition of before. “Oh. But... What I don’t understand is if it tastes so bad, then why’d you drink so much?”

“Dunno,” said Ben, even though his mother hated that word and he did know, anyway. He flopped backwards on the bed to escape the snare of Whisper’s eyes. On the ceiling above him, someone had stuck little glow in the dark people, running and jumping and dancing round a colony of glow in the dark stars. Ben pointed. “How long’ve those been up for?”

Wrinkling his nose, Whisper tilted his head up to look at the ceiling. “A while. Since I was little.” He snorted. “I wanted to be tight rope walker. When I was little.” He laughed suddenly, a harsh sound. “Have you noticed, though? None of those people are in wheelchairs.”

“Oh,” said Ben, because though he’d noticed, he hadn’t thought anything of it. It             was probably quite hard to get glow in the dark stickers of people in wheel chairs, Ben supposed. “No,” he said, “no, I didn’t notice.”

“Well, I did.”

“You did?” asked Ben, and then called himself a lot of bad words inside his head because duh, of course Whisper noticed. Whisper smiled at him in confirmation, his lips curving in a solemn sort of agreement. Ben yawned sleepily, rocking forwards so he sat upright.

He grinned at the bottom of Whisper’s bed, rubbing his eyes.

“What?” asked Whisper. “What?”

Ben hiccupped and giggled some more.

What?”

Attempting to swallow his laughter, Ben executed a perfect rendition of an extremely complex wheezing sound that could only be compared to a dolphin squeaking a high, falsetto rendition of the first note of ‘Silent Night’.

Whisper laughed at the sound. “You sound like you’re on helium.”

Ben nodded, tittering at himself.

Jesus,” said Whisper, who was too nice to get exasperated with a guy so drunk he’d thrown up on himself, but was beginning to lose his patience just a little, “what is it? Come on, spill.” He paused. “Not your insides, though,” he added as an afterthought. He didn’t want Ben throwing up all over again.

“It… It’s just…” Ben screwed up his face, trying not to dissolve into total hysteria. He turned away so he didn’t have to look at Whisper, muttering something inaudible.

What?”

“Your toes are, like, poking out from under your duvet and they look like little animals coming out of hibernation and-“

“And?”

“And it’s cute, that’s what.”

Whisper raised his eyebrows, his cheeks darkening ever so slightly pinker as he smiled despite himself. “That’s it?” he gabbled, both touched and kind of weirded out at the same time. “Woah, okay, so you’re even more pissed than I thought if you can find my toes hilarious and you can use a word like ‘cute’ with a straight face and… Seriously, was that it?”

Ben stretched his arms out in front of him, smirking absent mindedly. “No,” he said, slowly. If he was sober he’d be thinking about what he was saying, analysing each word and coming up with a sentence- but right now, the best Ben could do was make sure he was pronouncing the words properly. Even that didn’t always work out, but it was the best he could do and it required thought, thought, so much damn thought all the time.

 “What, then?” Whisper asked him.

“I… I mean, that’s not it. I don’t just think your toes are cute, though they do look kind of like pigs snuffling out of hibernation- wait, do pigs hibernate? I have no idea. No idea. But, you know, it’s not just your toes that are cute. You know? It’s, like, everything about you is… No, you’re more than cute, you’re…” Ben gesticulated wildly, searching for the word. “You’re beautiful, Whisper, everything about you is so goddamn beautiful and I… Hell, I like that, Whisper. I really, really like that.”

Whisper ducked further under his duvet, hiding his face. “You’re drunk.”

“I’m telling you, man, I mean what I’m saying.”

 “You’ll have forgotten everything you’re saying in the morning.” Whisper’s voice came out strangely, muffled both by his sheets and by his emotion.

“Maybe, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t mean it.”

“But…” Whisper re-emerged, peeking at Ben from the corners of his eyes. “You… You mean it?”

“Well, obviously.” Ben burped. “Oops. Sorry.”

Whisper snorted. “That’s disgusting. But, you know, when I was younger my claim to fame was that I could burp the-“

“The alphabet? I was the school champion at that when I was about… I don’t know… three? Wait, did I go to school when I was three? Do people go to school…” Ben shook his head. “Woah. Whatever. So, um… Do you want a burping competition or something?”

“A burping competition? Christ, you should get drunk more often if this is the kind of rip-roaring fun you have.” Whisper grinned. “But just so you know, what I was going to say before you cut me off is that my claim to fame was that I could burp the entire alphabet three times in a row. Uh, backwards.”

“You serious? That’s amazing, Whisper!”

Whisper rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know, thanks.”

Ben squinted in suspicion. “Wait, you were telling the truth… Right?”

“Um… Right.”

“So are you lying? Or…”

Whisper winked.

Ben threw his hands over his face, laughing. “Goddam it, Whisper, that isn’t a proper answer.”

Whisper winked again.

Throwing his hands up in defeat, Ben twisted to face away from the light, closing his eyes. “I mean it,” he slurred slowly, though they both knew he didn’t, “I’m never talking to you again until you give me a proper answer.”

“Really?”

Ben started to answer, then snorted, holding up his middle finger. Whisper flicked off the light beside him, laughing. They lay in the dark for seconds that laboured into minutes that more or less made up a quarter of an hour. It was the kind of peaceful that comes after finishing a favourite novel; the kind of quickly repeated thank you in your head that comes with hearing your best friend’s voice on the phone when you need it most.

“Ben?” Whispered murmured, into the silence.

No reply, and Whisper liked it that way. That way he wouldn’t chicken out or shut up before he’d said what he wanted to say. This way, he didn’t know if Ben was asleep- he didn’t know if Ben had even heard him. This way was the safe way, the way that if Ben listened and didn’t like it, they never even had to acknowledge it had happened.

“You know, Ben,” said Whisper, to the darkened room. “I… I know you said you really liked me. And I really like you. I do, I honest to God do. But I was thinking, when we were out looking for you – before we found you being sick, and all that crap – I was thinking that if I never saw you again, I wouldn’t be happy. If you hated me – I mean, I have no idea why because I haven’t asked, but I assume you left because of something I did – then I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone ever again, in case something they said reminded me of you.”

Whisper stopped as he heard the sound of sheets rustling.

“And- I decided, Ben. I love you. I love you as a friend, and I love you as more than a friend, and I love you every single way that you can love a person. I love you,” Whisper told Ben, against the still black canvas of his bedroom.

Really, it didn’t matter what Whisper told Ben, now. Whether he’d heard or not, Ben wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning. 

 

-

WHISPER

A ROMANCE BY MIRLOTTA

//cover by @LydiaMMartin\\

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