Category Linkin Park

Finding Hope in Strange Places by Elisa

Finding Hope in Strange Places

Many thanks go to enchanted_jae on livejournal for the beta. <3

Written for the graffitidec_fic challenge of Valentine's Day.

Finding Hope in Strange Places

All he remembers of the accident is a sudden, percussive bang, and a flash as bright as the sun. He remembers closing his eyes tightly against the harsh glare, and then there is darkness and a vague sense of floating.

The next time he wakes, there are bandages on his eyes and he wants to cry but the doctors have forbidden him even that small comfort. He clutches his hands into fists instead, until there are eight miniature crescent marks in his palms, oozing tiny drops of blood onto the immaculate hospital sheets.


“I don’t think I can live like this,” he whispers, desperation creeping into his voice.

“Ches…they can’t do anything.” Mike’s voice, emanating from somewhere by Chester’s right side, trembles.

“Mike, for god’s sake! I can’t do anything myself! I can’t – can’t tell you what time it is, or what color shirt you’re wearing. I can’t take care of myself. I can’t read music anymore, Mike. How am I supposed to – I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be here.”

Mike’s reply is long in coming, and when it does, it is all but a whisper.

“But I can’t do this without you, Chester.”


He gets released from the hospital on Valentine’s Day. He wants to make bitter, sarcastic comments, but he bites them back for Mike’s sake. Because Mike is trying so hard to be cheerful for his sake. Because Mike is still with him, even now. Because all he wants to do is shower until he gets the stench of antiseptic off of him, curl up next to his boyfriend in his own bed, and pretend that the last month has never happened. He wants to fall asleep and dream about being able to see colors again. And if he were to never wake up again, well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, would it?

Instead he has to count steps between all the furniture and the doors, and he has to recite them aloud until Mike is sure he can walk without falling over something.

He finally makes it upstairs to their bedroom, and collapses wearily onto the large bed, twining his fingers in the familiar bedspread. It’s a light brown, with embroidery and glittery tan beadwork that makes swirling designs and glimmers in the sunlight. It was under this bedspread that they slept together for the first time, way back when it covered Mike’s bed in his apartment, in those uncertain days between divorces and tours. Chester holds tightly to the memory of the sunshine gleaming on the beads, and forces himself to memorize the picture in his mind, so that he will never forget it.

He feels the dip of the mattress as Mike sits next to him, and he reaches a hand out towards him, face open and vulnerable. Mike grasps his hand and kisses it softly. Chester leans into him, enjoying the heat of the other man’s skin and the roughness of his beard.

“It’s Valentine’s Day,” Mike says softly. “And I know that you don’t feel much like celebrating.” Chester snorts inelegantly. “But I couldn’t let the day pass without doing anything.”

Mike sets something heavy down on a bedside table, and turns back to Chester. “Smell,” he commands softly. Chester does, inhaling delicately. The sweet, unmistakable fragrance of the rose floods his senses, and he gives a small “Oh!” of surprise. Reaching out, he takes the rose from Mike, and buries his nose in it, inhaling over and over to immerse himself in the smell. He can picture it perfectly in his mind: a long stem, carefully de-thorned, its velvety petals lush and full. He imagines a red rose, fully in bloom and perfectly formed. He sits for long minutes, enjoying the scent that has never before seemed so intense, so perfect.

“There’s more,” Mike prods him gently. Chester nods, and hands the rose back reluctantly, loathe to give it up. Mike smiles at him and hands him another stem. This one is woodier than the rose and Chester explores it, and the clumps of tiny petals, with his fingers before lifting it to his nose.

“Lilac,” he breathes, taking deep lungfuls in order to draw in more of the scent. “It’s my favorite.”

“I know.”

Once again, the scent seems deeper somehow, more powerful than ever before. He wonders if this is his senses compensating for the loss of his eyesight.

There are more flowers to come still – a dazzling red sunflower, the scent of which makes Chester smile. Tulips in red and yellow, which make him sneeze. Pansies in every color. There are peonies and violets, and after he has handled them all and experienced all the wonderful smells, he asks for the rose again, and buries himself in the intense sweetness for long moments.

Mike gently takes it from him and runs it lightly against his cheek, and Chester smiles, then moves away quickly. “Tickles,” he says quietly, then reaches out a hand to Mike’s face. He traces the contours thoughtfully, feeling the full lips and half smile, then the high cheeks and sideburns. “I hate not being able to see you,” he mutters, and Mike’s eyes tear up suddenly at the admission.

He can’t help it; he’s been so stoic for so long, and now he can’t prevent his tears from spilling over. Chester can feel them drip lightly onto the back of his hand. He reaches up and wipes them away carefully with his thumbs, angling his body towards the other man, cradling his head with both hands. He turns Mike’s face towards him and carefully plants a small kiss on the corner of Mike’s mouth.

Mike smiles suddenly. “You missed,” he says through the tears, and Chester scowls good naturedly at him. “I’ll get better,” Chester murmurs.

“Yeah,” Mike brings his own hand up to Chester’s face slowly, so as to let him intuit the movement. “With lots of practice.”

Chester snorts. “You’re so cheesy.”

“But you love it.” There’s a note of questioning in Mike’s voice.

Chester grins, his first true smile in a month. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”


And in the morning, when he wakes, he still feels that momentary panic when he opens his eyes and nothing but blackness appears. He still has difficulty getting dressed, and walking around the house without assistance. He still feels frustrated at his inability to be independent, and he still feels vulnerable whenever Mike’s not with him.

But their bedroom smells of roses.

It’s something.


For those who are interested, the flowers in the bouquet have the following meanings:

Red rose – passionate love

Lilacs – first love

Sunflower - adoration

Red tulip – declaration of love

Yellow tulip – hopelessly in love

Pansy – loving thoughts

Peony - healing

Violet - faithfulness

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