(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)
19 December 1992
Jonathan stalked through the house, his eyes open wide to keep the emotion swelling in his throat and sending tremors through his body, from raining down his cheeks. Crawling up the ladder and into the treehouse he and his father had built when he was eight, Jonathan flopped backwards.
The last time I was up in here, David, you were with me and we made out. We nearly got caught, but we managed to convince my mom we were just playing around. That was before forty-two days of hell.
Pulling the moleskin journal out of his back pocket, Jonathan hiccupped and grabbed the pen from the inside pocket of his coat. Bending over the journal as he opened it, he scribed the song exploding in his head. He knew the Bowie influences would be obvious, but he made a mental note to put it only in his journal.
Night bleeds into day
I am spun out of orbit
Day blazes into night
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long
My eyes scan the stars
Cold on earth and broken too
The stars blaze bright for me
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long
Forty-two days I waited
Forty-two nights I died
Forty-two days I froze
Forty-two nights I lied
And it’s been so long
You’ve been gone so long
I’m so afraid of losing you
Stuffing the pen in the journal, Jonathan shoved it back into the pocket as he heard someone on the ladder. Scooting over into the corner, he wrapped his arms around his shins and pushed his face into his knees. The tears were so close he wasn’t certain he could keep them back much longer, but the time ticked by relentlessly and still they had no lead on David. They were still under the forty-eight-hour mark, which meant the police could do nothing.
Even if he’s been hurt before and it’s likely he’s been hurt again. It doesn’t matter, right? Not at all!
“Dammit!” Jonathan shouted, slamming his fist into the wall. “Dammit! Dammit!”
“Hey, man! Hey, hey, Shea, chill out! This ain’t gonna help shit!” Travis wound around Jonathan, pulling his head down to his chest and rubbing Jonathan’s side. “We’ll find him. Promise. We’ll find him. Just calm down.”
“He’s been gone, Cap, he’s been gone for—” The image of his watch flashed through his brain. “9:32. That was when he left for the bathroom last night. He left at 9:32.” His mind worked the calculations and he lifted his face to look up into Travis’ eyes. “He’s been gone sixteen hours and forty-three minutes, Cap. It only took eight minutes for him to be taken. I didn’t even know he was gone because I thought it was just a really long line for freakin’ popcorn!”
“Jonathan! Stop torturing yourself!” Travis hissed. “Just stop. This won’t help you to focus. There is nothing on this earth could keep the two of you apart. He will come home.” Tears shone in his friend’s eyes, and Jonathan knew they reflected the pain he felt at trying to empathize with him. “He will.”
Jonathan nodded, allowing himself a moment of weakness, and he broke down for a moment. Travis held him, rubbing his back in long slow strokes.
As they descended the ladder a few minutes later, Amy and Chad walked across the patio, the former asking, “Why don’t we go back to the drive-in?”
“For what?” Jonathan answered, sniffling as he tugged his toboggan onto his head. “You don’t think he’d go back there, do you?”
“Maybe there’s something there that could tell us something about where he went?” she suggested. “Retrace our steps, and without people there, we can see more of what is there. Maybe see what he could see?”
Jonathan nodded. “I have to do something. I can’t just sit here and wait. Let’s go.”
The ride over to the drive-in passed in sporadic conversation, and they picked up Bailey on the way. Jonathan loved his friends, all of which made a point to hold onto him on the drive, and he knew he was not alone.
But you are, babe. I don’t know how or why, but I know that somewhere out there, you are alone. I pray you aren’t—
The truck came to a stop, rousing Jonathan from thought and he looked up to see the empty drive-in in the daytime, stripped of the magic it bathed in at night, standing forlorn before the truck.
—but I know you are, and I’m coming for you. I will find you, love of my heart.
They unloaded from the truck, and Jonathan followed his friends at a dead run through the ticket booth’s arch and down the dirt road to the field. Orienting himself a little, he ran over to the stall they’d parked in, faced the screen, then slowly turned his eyes to the closed concession stand. Squinting at the bright sunlight, Jonathan murmured to himself, “Watched you turn and look at me as you were heading over to the bathrooms. You smiled, told me you loved me.”
“Came from there, Opie said,” Travis said, coming to stand on his right, pointing one gloved hand toward the bathrooms at the rear of the concession stand. “Over there.”
Jonathan nodded. “So many people were here last night. Between here and there, and if Jonah showed up, no-one would’ve noticed.”
“It’s a family-oriented place. There were a lot of kids here last night, so between the movie and the kids—”
Jonathan and Travis looked over at where Bailey and Amy stood by the bathrooms. They ran over to their friends, Amy leading them around the back of the building to the dumpster just beyond the propane tank. “Check it out, Shea. I’m pretty damn sure that’s your shirt.”
Jonathan knelt down, reaching for the flannel sleeve poking out from behind the dumpster. “It is. It’s my shirt. David—” His hands shook as he tugged on the fabric and the rest of it pulled free. As he took in a stiff brown stain discoloring some of the side and much of the left arm, his eyes widened to keep the tears from falling. All the air went out of him as he took his gaze to each of their faces. “He’s hurt. He’s not here, and he’s hurt.”
Amy knelt to wrap him up in a tight embrace. “Shea, we’re gonna find him. I give you my word.”
He was running.
He was always running, but this time, it was night, and the shadows were thick… deep. They enveloped any light Jonathan drew near, consuming it entirely until he ran by touch and by need. His breath came in heavy puffs, the chill freezing the back of his throat to an almost painful state, and the stitch in his side nearly felled him.
“HELP ME! PLEASE, HELP ME!”
Jonathan tripped and sprawled on his belly, skidding for a good four feet before he came to a stop. Spitting out dirt, he rose to all fours, a stinging in his elbows and knees telling of the scrapes he’d taken in the fall.
Another scream, but this one was his name. His heart pounded hard in his chest, and he vaulted into a run once more.
David… David, I’m coming! I’m so close! Hold on, babe!
Jonathan careened around a corner, light blinding him temporarily even as he threw one arm up to shield his eyes, sending him to the ground again. He heard the bone snap as pain lanced through his right arm. Jonathan bit back a shout as he cradled it to his chest, launching himself forward on unsteady legs, and every single movement sent his jaw tensing to get through the pain.
David… have to get to you. I’m coming, baby. I’m coming to save you!
Jonathan blinked as black spots appeared in the edges of his vision, still he pushed forward, finally catching sight of that golden hair. Crimson seemed to be everywhere, and he slipped, curling up to protect his injured arm. He tasted copper, but on the air, the faint scent of David’s soap touched his nose. Jonathan’s eyes flew open, and for a moment, he forgot about his own pain and pushed up onto his hands. Fire shot through his ruined arm, sending a shriek tearing from his throat, the noise rousing the broken butterfly beneath him to lucidity.
Jonathan sat back on his haunches, gathering David close to him, but blood seemed to be coming from everywhere, and as precious words tumbled from his lips—“David, I love you! Please…!”—those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—
Jonathan jerked awake so quickly, he tumbled from the couch, banging his elbow on the corner of the coffee table. Gentle hands lit on his shoulders, a calming voice murmuring, “Baby boy! Hey, hey, hey! It’s Mama. Jonathan! Wake up, honey!”
He jolted upright, rubbing his elbow as his face creased with pain, but then strong arms caught him up, a large hand threading fingers through his hair as his father’s scratchy chin brushed his own, Bill whispering, “I gotcha, son. I got ya… and I’m sorry I made you feel—”
Jonathan didn’t wait to hear the whole apology, he lost the tenuous hold he had on his fear and crumbled in his father’s arms, allowing the man who’d always protected him to be the stronger.
—Those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—