Grateful: A Host One Shot
Host breathes. In and out. One at a time.
Dark is in the room, but he doesn’t know where. He can only feel the ringing in his ears and taste his aura in the back of his throat. There’s panic in his fingertips and the pit of his stomach, but he refuses to let the other man know it.
Dark approaches slowly, sliding a hand across the Host’s shoulders. Does the Host know what he did wrong? Good. How about they take a walk?
Host knows what that means, of course, but he is forced to comply. The buzzing of panic moves from Host’s hands to his head where it snakes across his scalp in a trail of static.
The Host owes Dark, the Ego reminds his captive. The Host
should be grateful for Dark’s kindness, his generosity, his discipline. The
Host is nothing without Dark. The Host can and will be broken.
The Host can’t breathe. There are bodies everywhere, pressing in and away and around. Voices bounce at him from every direction at every octave and decibel and in every color that he can imagine. This is the bustle of life outside of his precious sanctuary of books and dust. And the Host is terrified of it.
Dark’s hand is on the back of his neck, fingernails biting into the skin there until they aren’t. Until Dark’s hand is gone, and Host is lost among the waves. He’s drowning.
People brush past. People talk around him. People, people, people. There’s a wall. A dumpster, and Host crouches behind it, the stench stinging his nostrils. But at least here he’s safe from them.
Host’s entire chest constricts with the panic of it, and his mind rings with Dark’s words. The Host should be grateful. The Host should be ashamed. The Host should be better than what he is, so much better.
But the Host is not better. The Host is very much broken and very much under Dark’s powerful hold.
And then Dark comes back. Not immediately, no, hours later once the sun has set and the warmth has seeped from the air and from Host’s bones. He’s shivering, but Dark hauls him to his feet regardless, wrinkling his nose at the way Host smells.
The Host is disgusting. The Host is useless. The Host has learned nothing from his punishment. All words floating around in his mind, boats set adrift on a storm-tossed ocean. The Host should be grateful.
And the Host leans against Dark because he has no one else in the world.
Then Amy appears. She walks into his library, into his life, and into his darkness. She throws open the doors of his heart and cleans out all the cluttered words: useless, disgusting, nothing, broken, and all the biting “should be’s.” She dusts off his heart and his ability to feel something other than fear and instead of crushing him beneath her foot, she puts her shoulder under his arm and holds him up.
Amy is golden light. Amy is a burning fire. Amy has her own cracks in her own shell, but she doesn’t lash out in anger. She simply adds to her armor, and stands between the darkness and those she cares about.
And the Host is in awe of her.
She hands him new words: caring, thoughtful, creative, strong, valuable, and slowly, the Host begins to accept them. The Host doesn’t owe her a thing, Amy insists. The Host is his own person. The Host is always improving. The Host is growing and healing and learning.
The Host is loved and very, very grateful.