Pairing: James/Henry, hints of Walter/Henry
Rating: PG-13 for the time being.
Summary: After escaping from Silent Hill, James tries to return to life as normal. His father offers him a place in South Ashfield Heights so his son might have a chance at a new life.
The drive out of Silent Hill was so normal that James almost couldn’t bring himself to keep going. As he watched the town of Silent Hill shrink away into the distance, he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, the exhale of stale air sounding like a soft wheeze. Somehow, he thought that when he reached the edge of the fog, the world would suddenly crumble away, and he would be left wandering again. However, it receded, showing the winding road back down to Brahms.
As signs of life began to pass him, he wondered how long he’d been gone. None of the clocks worked in Silent Hill; sure they may have ticked maddeningly, but where one would read three in the afternoon, two others would say that it was one and midnight respectively. The dash clock read seven-fifty am, the morning of God only knew when. In reality, it shouldn’t have been more than a day or two. He remembered sleeping, and passing out on occasion, but none of that should have ammounted to more than six hours or so. A large neon sign ahead of him read ‘Lydia’s Gas and Motel’, it looked like it was open.
The sight of cars in the parking lot, idling outside the diner, and parked at the fuel pumps made his pulse quicken and he sucked in a breath. Actual people, he thought, there’s other human beings here. An old man pumped gas into his car, a teenage girl fiddled with her ipod before sliding back into the passenger’s seat of another- they were all alive. So alive and untouched by the horrors of Silent Hill…
James pushed back a section of matted blonde hair as he pulled into a parking space. He took a moment to look at himself in the driver’s side vanity mirror, grimacing at the sorry sight he was met with. Fumbling around for a moment, he withdrew a small pack of wet wipes from the glove compartment, using them to clean his face and hands. His jacket had been torn and stained by all manner of horrors, so he opted to leave that behind. He shrugged said article of clothing off and tossed it into the back seat, taking one more moment to assess his current condition: he just looked tired, that was better than being covered in an amalgam of blood, soot, sweat, and mist.
Once inside, he ordered a few things from the menu, making sure to ask the waitress for an extra mug of coffee. He intended to drive straight home, he didn’t know what he would do when he got there, but it was a start. While he waited, he took a newspaper from one of the stands and returned to his booth, his eyes immediately scanning the top for the date.
James exhaled sharply, one month… An entire month he’d spent in that hellish nightmare. Questions buzzed around in his brain like angry bees; how could he have survived that long? Was time really that different? He rose swiftly from the red vinyl once more, this time headed for one of the payphones in the back of the diner. He spent the last of his change on the call and waited anxiously as the phone rang.
"This is the Sunnyview Apartment lobby office, how may I help you?"
"This is James… ah- Sunderland. I…" He stopped, because just WHAT was he going to tell her? I’ve been trapped in a nightmare reality for a month? That would just sound like he was dodging his rent.
"Mr.Sunderland?!" The receptionist sounded surprised, and a moment later he could hear papers shuffling. "By God’s name, we thought something terrible had happened to you- the police were called and…Sarah-! Sarah, come here!" More papers, and a moment later the sound of the phone being handed away.
"James? Goodness…" His landlord, Sarah Winters, had always been pleasant to him. She sounded terrified…
"Uh, yeah, I’ve… Has it really been a month?" He asked, his grip on the phone tightening.
"Yes! Where have you been? We got in touch with your father and he had all of your things transferred into storage. We couldn’t just leave the room, you were a missing person…"
"I, well- I don’t know where I’ve been, to be honest. I went to Silent Hill on vacation," it was a blatant lie, but she dind’t need to know that. "I don’t remember anything from the last month."
"Where are you now? Have you called your father?"
James shook his head, then sighed heavily, “no, I haven’t talked to him yet… I’m at a diner, just outside of Silent Hill.” Across the room, he saw the waitress set his food down, nodding in his direction. His stomach gurgled and he realized just how hungry he was. “sarah, listen, I’m driving back tonight- will you be there?”
"Of course, James. Make sure you call your father, he’s been worried sick."
"I will…" Then, after a moment he added, "thank you, Sarah."
James set the phone down and stood there for a few moments, staring at the chipped paint and fading numbers without really seeing them. He resolved to call his father after eating, maybe then he would know what to say. He could never lie to Frank… And now that he knew he was a murderer- the thought soured his stomach and sent a shiver through him. Surely, surely his father would be able to sense it; and then what? No, he told himself, eat first and deal with that later. Numbly, he returned to his booth and began to eat. Outside the window, he still couldn’t see the sky through the mist, he wondered if he would ever be allowed to see sunshine again. It was a silly thing to think, but after all that had happened, James wasn’t so sure he had actually left.