Characters: Ryo, Ryo’s parents.
Setting: Before the manga.
Summary: Ryo’s parents are dead and now the home that used to make him feel so safe is haunted by the past.
Word Count: 744
Written For: Theme Prompt: 081 – Haunted House at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo never used to have trouble sleeping when his parents were away. The cosy little suburban house he shared with them was the safest place he knew, every piece of furniture, every shadow, and every creaking floorboard or rattling window as familiar to him as his own heartbeat. What could he possibly have to fear?
Somehow it’s different now. His parents are gone and this time they won’t be coming back because they’re dead, gunned down on their way home to spend Christmas with him. It’s not fair and it’s not right; they were both healthy and only in their early forties, they should have had decades of life still ahead of them, time to see him grow to adulthood, go to college, even start a family of his own, but that time was brutally stolen from them, and the police still have no idea who was responsible for their murder. Ryo’s safe place doesn’t feel so safe anymore.
The house is haunted. Lying here alone in the dark, wide awake, almost scared to close his eyes, Ryo listens to the wind rattling the shutters on the windows, the clanks and gurgles from the central heating pipes, the creaks of the house settling, and the emptiness presses down on him, heavy and suffocating. Blindly reaching out, he turns on the bedside lamp, pushing the darkness into the farthest corners of the room, and he silently berates himself for being a coward.
He’s eighteen, almost an adult, not some frightened little kid, imagining bogeymen in the closet and monsters under the bed, and yet he can’t bring himself to turn out the light again, even though all his friends would laugh at him if they knew. He knows there’s nothing in the dark that isn’t there in the light, but the memories swarm around him and they’re easier to bear by lamplight.
If he closes his eyes now, he can almost hear the TV droning downstairs, and the quiet murmur of his parents’ voices, just like when he was a kid. Straining his ears, he tries to detect the soft sound of footsteps on the stairs, the door to his parents’ bedroom across the hallway opening and closing, water running in the bathroom… None of those sounds exist anywhere except in his head, called up by the aching loneliness inside him, and far from being comforting they only hurt. He wants them to be real, wants his dad to tap on the door, open it and poke his head inside, tell him it’s late and he should turn out the light and go to sleep. He waits, poised on the knife edge of hope, barely breathing, but there’s no knock, no familiar, smiling face, no warm, deep voice. There’s only silence.
Ryo’s eyes burn with unshed tears, and it doesn’t seem possible that he can still have any left. Surely he should have run out by now. He wipes his face with his pyjama sleeve and tries to relax; it’s past two in the morning and he really needs to get some sleep. There’s still so much to do, things to sort and things to pack for when he moves in with his aunt and uncle next month, but his mind is whirling too fast, jumbled thoughts chasing each other around and around, and he can’t seem to shut it off.
If only he could see his mom and dad just one more time, talk to them and tell them all the things he didn’t tell them often enough when they were alive. That he loves them, and misses them, that he’s proud to be their son, and he wants them to be proud of him. He wants to tell them everything feels wrong now they’re gone, that he doesn’t think anything will ever feel right again, but there’s no point because he knows they can’t hear him.
The house is haunted, but only by memories of what was and what might have been. Ryo used to believe in ghosts, that the departed would return to visit their loved ones before crossing over to the other side, but he was wrong because even though he’s waited night after night, the spirits of his mom and dad haven’t come to him. He rolls onto his side, his back to the bedside lamp, and pulls the covers up over his head.
There’s no such thing as ghosts, he knows that now; he’ll never believe in them again.