Ghosts of Home
By Jo-Jo

Disclaimers: Still not mine.  Still no infringement 
intended.  Not even a little one.

Notes: Will fic.  This is a follow up to my other Ghosts 
stories, which you can find here or at www.  But please don't let that put you 
off reading this one...

Feedback:  A story without feedback is like Mulder 
without Scully.

I've fallen asleep on the bed.  It's been a big day and 
I'm tired to my soul, and I've fallen asleep cocooned 
between the bodies of both my parents.  My mom is on one 
side of me, her hand stroking my hair.  She still can't 
quite believe I'm here.  If all her life has been what 
it's taken to get to just this moment in time, she thinks 
that it was worth it.  All the pain that she had to go 
through to get to be right here, right now,  with me and 
my dad, she thinks was worth it.  Signs along the way, 
she says.  A path that no one can see the end of but 
which has led all three of us unrelentingly to just where 
we are now.  We're happy now.  For the first time in a 
long time, we are all happy, all three of us sharing the 
same perfect sense of belonging.  

My dad is on the other side of me, one arm draped over me 
and my mother, enfolding both of us in an embrace that 
we've waited such a long time to share.  He's so proud of 
us.  I've never felt so safe in my life.  This man loves 
me and my mom more than anything in the world, and that's 
an amazing thing to know.  Other kids know that their 
parents love them because they're told so, because they 
see it everyday in the way that they raise them and 
protect them.  Not me.  I know my parents love me because 
I can feel it every day.  For as long as I live I'll know 
that this love is what helps me get up in the morning, 
what makes me grow strong, what nurtures me and makes me 
who I am.  It's what I live off.  It's what makes me 
breathe in and out.  

My dad leans over and kisses me on the forehead, and I 
murmur slightly in my sleep.  It's so warm here, lying 
between the two of them.  I don't ever want to leave.  
Please don't make me leave again.  If I close my eyes and 
concentrate really hard, maybe I can keep us like this 
forever.  I won't ever wake up, and this time we won't be 
separated.  I start to turn restlessly in my sleep and my 
mom reaches over to try to sooth me, whispering to me and 
stroking my face with her fingers.  "ssshhhh" she says, 
"everything's OK.  Ssshhh now".  But I already know that 
it's too late.  I know with that sickening feeling that I 
get every time this happens that I'm about to wake up, 
and that when I do they won't be there anymore.  

That's the thing about memories.  They only give you half 
of what you want.  They can take you back in time to the 
perfect moment, but at the same time they just remind you 
that you used to have something that you've since lost.  
I remember the one night that I spent when I was a baby 
lying on that bed, being held by both my parents.  It was 
the only time that we had together, just two days before 
my dad left, and I never got to see him again.  I hate 
waking up from this dream.  I hate the way that my mind 
lies to me like this.  I hate the fact that it's all that 
I have.       

I was the last person to get off the bus.  I waited until 
everyone else had gotten off and the driver looked back 
at me expectantly.  I wanted to savour the moment.  To be 
able to take a deep breath and step off the bus into the 
town that was home to my parents and to feel the moment 
as it happened.  I thought that it would hit me like a 
lightning bolt.  As I stepped down off that bus onto the 
sidewalk I thought the ground would surely cave in under 
me, that I'd get swallowed alive before I got the chance 
even to be this close to them again.  

Of course, there was no lightning bolt.  My mom and dad 
weren't waiting for me with a big banner that said 
"Welcome home William" and the universe didn't shift on 
its axis.  I stood on that concrete, and in a strange way 
I found myself in the real world, one where all my dreams 
where finally going to make it into reality, the world in 
which it was all really going to happen.  Somewhere in 
this town are my parents.  Somewhere in this place they 
have built a home for themselves and it's time for me to 
join them.  They may not have been there at the station, 
but they're waiting for me just the same.  They've been 
waiting for me for 10 years.

So, I'm standing at the bus station at 6.00 in the 
morning with my backpack slung over my shoulder, and for 
the first time in my 2 thousand mile journey I find that 
I'm lost.  I have no idea what to do next.  Up till now I 
had my genetic homing system to take me to where I needed 
to be, but now I'm so close I realize that I'm just a 10 
year old kid who's run away from home.  

In a strange way that thought fills me with a certain 
desperate kind of resolution.  Ignoring a strange 
sensation in the pit of my stomach I adjust my backpack 
and set off to explore my new surroundings, trying to 
enjoy the lazy, early morning atmosphere.  It's a nice 
town, the one they've chosen.  Not too big, but not too 
small either.  There aren't many people up and about yet, 
and I'm the only person walking along many of the 
streets.  A few of the news stands are starting to open 
up for business but apart from that I could be all alone 
in the world.  

As I wander along the day is starts to lighten, and more 
people come out onto the streets.  Parents are taking 
their kids to school, people are leaving for work in 
their cars or are out walking their dogs.  A few of them 
shoot the odd look my way, as if trying to puzzle out 
what I might be doing here, or who I might belong to.  I 
shove my hands further into my pockets and walk past them 
briskly.  I don't mind them wondering.  I'm getting good 
at blending in.  

Within one hour I've managed to get my bearings in this 
town.  I've found the school, the cinema, the library and 
the shopping center.  I wonder if that's the school that 
I'll end up going to now, and if that's the shopping 
center that my friends and I will hang out at.  I try to 
imagine my life here, but no matter how hard as I try I 
find that whatever kind of life I come up with is so 
alien to me that I don't even recognise myself in it.  
Even the word "home" sounds strange to me now.  

Lunch is a sandwich bought from a bakery in the shopping 
center, eaten on a bench outside.  I don't have much of 
an appetite really, but I go through the motions.  I can 
hear my mother's voice in my head, telling me to eat it 
up, that I'm a growing boy.  I guess that's what I'll 
remember about her now.  All the mundane things that she 
used to say, all the typical "mom" things I always took 
for granted.  

There are lots more people around out here now, carrying 
their shopping bags and hurrying to their cars, getting 
on with the ordinary business of their lives.  People are 
passing by in front of me in a flurry of activity.  It 
seems that everyone's in a hurry today.  As I watch them 
come and go I allow myself the misery of dwelling on my 
adoptive parents and imagining what they must be going 
through right now, when I become aware of a strange 
sensation in the pit of my stomach.  A tightening.  A 
fluttering.  I freeze, and my breath catches in my chest.  
I know what this means.

They're close.  

Desperately I look around me, trying to pick out the 
faces in the crowd that belong to them.  My eyes are 
moving faster than my brain, flicking over everyone in an 
instant, taking the scene in, dismissing within a second 
all the people who are too tall or too short, too old, 
too young, too dark, too fair.  .Standing up, I spin 
round to look behind me, my lunch dropped on the floor.  

I can't find them.

I step up and stand on the bench, trying see further.  
There seem to be people everywhere, but I can't pick them 
out from the crowd.  Turning desperately round I see a 
movement out of the corner of my eye, and my head spins 
round in time to see a man and a woman walking away from 
me, his hand on the small of her back, a flash of red 
hair catching my eye before they disappear around a 

Jumping off the bench I grab my backpack, my legs barely 
able to keep up with the rest of my body as I tumble 
after them.  I want to call out, but for some reason my 
voice has deserted me.  I run round the corner into the 
main street and stop in my tracks when I see them.

They're standing by a car while he fumbles with the keys 
in his pocket.  She has her back to me and is holding a 
brown grocery bag in her hand, and somehow I know that 
she is smiling up at him as he tries to recover the keys.  
He's shaking his head and saying something to her, a look 
of amused annoyance on his face.  

And then he freezes.  Whatever he was saying he just 
stops in mid sentence, the blood draining from his face.  
And then slowly, deliberately, he turns and looks at me.  
Of all the people standing there in that street he turns 
round at looks right at me.  My heart leaps up into my 
mouth and I can hear it beating like a drum in my ears.  

He knows me.  

For a moment I think I'm going to turn round and run away,
run away from whatever it is that I've started.  I take 
a step away, but in that moment he tentatively makes a 
movement towards me, awkward and unsure, his face an 
unasked question.  A question that I've waited 10 years 
to be able to answer.  

Yes, I'm here dad.  Please come and get me.  I've come 
such a long way and I'm so scared.  Please, come and get 
me now.

And then in an instant he's striding towards me, dodging 
the people in the crowd and swerving out of their way, 
breaking into a run, his eyes never once leaving mine.  
He's afraid that if he breaks my gaze I'll disappear 
right in front of him.  So I run too, only not in the 
opposite direction, but straight into the arms of my 
father.  No, I'm not running.  I'm flying.  I'm soaring.  
I'm being pulled with the force of gravity.


With a swiftness that nearly makes me dizzy, he lifts me 
off the ground and pulls me into his arms with a half 
choked cry.  My is face buried in his neck and his cheek 
is rough and coarse against mine where I kiss him over 
and over again, and my voice is muffled against his neck 
when I finally speak.

"Dad,"  I managed to mumble.  "Dad." 

It's the only word that I can say right now, and it's the 
first time he's ever heard me call him that.  He rocks me 
from side to side, his hand in my hair, cradling my head, 
his shoulders shaking as he cries softly into me.  

"William?  You're here.  You're really here?"    

I'm here, dad.  I'm here.  Just hold me.  Don't let go.  

The other people in the crowd all fade into a blur of 
noise and colour.  It's as if we're stuck in freeze frame 
while the rest of the world carries on spinning madly 
around us.  And then suddenly she appears behind him.  
Her face is white and she's shaking her head, staring up 
at us with amazement.  She says my name like a question.  
I can see her shaking as my dad lowers me to the ground, 
and I have to cling on to him to stop myself from 
collapsing on the sidewalk.  I can't even see her anymore 
for the tears that are blurring my eyes, but I take a 
step towards the place where I know she is and slowly 
wrap my arms around her waist, my head resting on her 
chest.  Slowly, hesitantly, I feel her arms engulf me and 
then the soft warmth of kisses on my head.  Her tears 
slowly become louder and she holds on to me so tightly 
that I feel that I'm going to get lost in her.  I squeeze 
my eyes shut and pray over and over again "please don't 
let me wake up, please don't let me wake up."

I don't know how long we stood like that.  Maybe five 
minutes, maybe ten, maybe an hour.  The next thing that I 
was aware of was my dad's hand on my back, rubbing gently 
but persistently, wanting me to turn round, to face him.  

"What happened, William?" he asks.  "I don't understand 
how... are you alright... you're not hurt?  Where are your... 

I bury my head deeper into my mom's neck and cling to her 
more tightly.  

I don't know, dad.  I don't know what's going on.  I 
don't understand it at all.  

He bends down in front of me and lifts my chin up so that 
I'm looking up at his face.  He's crying.  

"You knew, didn't you?" he asks.  "You knew how to find 
us.  You've always known."  

I nod dumbly up at him, swiping at my tears with the back 
of my hand.  

"We've been waiting for you, William," he says, so softly 
I can barely hear him.  "We've been waiting for you for 
such a long time."

Two strong arms lift me up off the ground and carry me 
silently away.  I'm placed gently down in the back seat 
of a car, and lying quietly in my mom's arms I'm driven 
wordlessly towards my new home.  

It takes me hours to get to sleep tonight.  I'm 
exhausted, but sleep is out of the question yet.  I can 
hear my mom and dad talking in the next room, the soft 
hum of their voices drifting through the open door, 
soothing and gentle.  They still have the same rhythm 
that they had when I was a baby, the same way of using 
their voices to complement and challenge each other.  
They still say each other's names in the same way that 
they used to, and I can feel the rush of familiarity 
sweep over me as I lie here listening to them.  This is 
how my parents fit together.  They have perfect balance, 
perfect symmetry.  I can't help but wonder where my space 
is going to be.

I finally fall asleep on the bed, cocooned between the 
bodies of both my parents.  My mom is on one side of me, 
her hand stroking my hair.  My dad is on the other side 
of me, one arm draped over me and my mother, enfolding 
both of us in his embrace.  As he leans over and kisses 
me on the forehead I murmur something in my sleep, and my 
mom whispers to me.

"Shhh, William.  It's alright, sweetheart.  .Everything's 
going to be alright.  Everything's going to be fine.  
Hush now..."

I finally drift into unconsciousness, the warmth of my 
dad's breath on my face and my mom's fingers still 
stroking my hair.  And this time when I wake up it will 
be the only life that I have left.  

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