Trigger Warning: Substance Abuse, Accidental Overdose
On an early morning in August, a nameless baby boy was born to 17 year old Sangmi Chang on the floor of her friend’s apartment. Sangmi had been couch surfing throughout her entire pregnancy which she had hidden from everyone she ever knew. Sangmi would never hold her baby boy in her arms, she would never allow herself to look him in the eyes or tell him she loved him before she handed him over to her friend and told her to make her problem go away.
That was how Leighton Kingsman was brought into the world, after he was dropped off at the hospital by someone who refused to give their name or any trace back to themselves and was taken into the care system. Luckily for Leighton, young babies were rarely left for a long time in the adoption system and after it became clear his mother was never coming for him, he was placed into it. Before the young male knew any different about his heritage he would know his mother and father, Marie and Jonathan Kingsman.
After the official adoption proceedings were made, his parents moved with him to the state of Ohio where they began to build a home. Marie and Jonathan had been on the adoption register for a long time and been trying to have children for much longer so they absolutely doted on their new son who they named Leighton. Leighton therefore had a very happy and fulfilled childhood, his mother worked as a childcare assistant so she stayed home with him most days and his father worked an office job which provided for them but also meant he was home on the weekends to play with his only son.
It became evident quickly that Leighton was a very intelligent child, always curious and inquisitive when it came to the world, though he was also the kind to watch it from a distance rather than get directly involved, he was thoughtful, always thinking outside the box and coming up with ideas that most people didn’t even think of. Leighton was also one of the kindest people most knew, though it came with the downside of making him very naive and trusting others too easy. That followed him into his school life, where the other kids would usually avoid him because they didn’t understand him and it was very easy to take advantage of his trusting nature.
Leighton had a lot of passions which got him a reputation as a nerd, he really loved reading, all kinds of books, just learning about new things constantly, even as a child he was far ahead of most people to the point that even his parents sometimes had trouble keeping up with him. It did cause some of the kids at school to pick on him though, making fun of the things he liked because they weren’t popular and they didn’t take the time to get to know him. Leighton never really said anything about the other kids being mean, just shrugged it off and buried the feelings down.
It only got worse as he moved into middle and then high school though, the other kids found him an easy target because he didn’t really fit in with any crowd, he tried to make friends but it was always on a superficial level and a lot of people pretended to be his friend because they knew he could help with their homework, while he was a sweet person to those who bothered to get to know him, he came across as either a know it all or weak to others. He was especially made fun of because it was obvious he was adopted and while Leighton had always known he was, it hurt when the other kids shouted at him about how his mother never wanted him. A few times they did manage to get him angry enough to trigger a reaction from him, but it always seemed to end up with this particularly burly male from the group threatening him until he backed down.
School became the very idea of hell for Leighton. He didn’t understand why they all hated him to much, especially the ringleader of the group whose name he would come to know as Daniel. Every time he tried to avoid them or just go about his usual day, they would be there and the boys just got more and more cruel. Leighton had deodorant sprayed in his eyes, he was punched several times, he was pushed down a set of stairs and one time they even threw rocks at him. Still, Leighton kept his mouth shut about it all, internalizing his feelings and slowly becoming more and more numb to whatever was thrown at him.
The sweet and thoughtful kid he used to be was replaced with a somewhat empty shell, someone who lost all faith in his own ability. Leighton stopped getting good grades, rarely came out of his room, stopped talking to his parents aside from the very basics and generally lost a part of the person he used to be. He turned to the internet for some sort of comfort and found it in the form of an online community which talked about astrological events and the meanings behind them, it was fascinating to Leigh and for the first time he really felt like he’d found people he could relate to. He latched onto the little community for dear life and it became his escape from everyday life.
After a particularly bad day when Leighton was kicked in the ribs by Daniel he was forced to go to a doctor for the pain which didn’t stop even after several days of rest. The doctor prescribed him pain medication he could take while the bruising on his ribs had the opportunity to heal. And taking the pills felt like it helped, but he found himself unable to stop taking them, even after the actual injury had healed he continued to feel like he needed them to take away the pain. He managed to get a second prescription, but after that he turned to underhand ways of getting his hands on them.
That continued on for several months and despite the bullying and harassment never really going away, everything felt better to him, he got back into his schoolwork and even started to find the confidence to actually make some friends. But taking the pills continued, he knew that it was unhealthy and dangerous but he also didn’t know how to stop, because not having them made him feel so much worse. Online he had made even more friends, some he even talked to outside of the forum and it was around this time that Leighton realized something about himself.
The idea of dating and relationships had never really been on his mind before, he’d never really looked at a girl and felt anything for them, he’d always just thought he was too busy or maybe even just broken. But when he realized he’d started to develop a crush on one of the guys he had gotten talking to online, everything started to make sense for him. It wasn’t something he ever really spoke about out loud, he certainly never told the guy he liked. But he did record his feelings down in a journal he always kept on him as a way of dealing with his emotions. It was pretty much his only lifeline, the only way he knew how to feel.
And one day it was taken from him. He was making his way to class, keeping his head down as usual when he was jumped by Daniel and his group who pushed him to the ground and pried the backpack he was wearing away from him. He tried to fight them off but one of the other males held him to the ground with his foot until the took out the journal and sauntered off with it. Leighton knew what would come next, tried to prepare himself for it.
But he didn’t know how to handle the pain as he saw page after page of his personal thoughts posted online, the comments below it sneering at him and saying awful things that made his eyes well with tears. He was so upset and angry, all he had ever done was try to be these people’s friends and they repaid him like this. He turned to the pills once more to try and dull down the pain inside of him but in his desperation to make the pain go away he took too many and before he could alert anyone to the fact he was in danger he felt his body collapse.
Marie came up to the bedroom to check on him after she shouted him for dinner twice and quickly realized something was very wrong. She had shouted her husband at the top of her lungs who had burst into the room and by impulse changed into his kitsune form and bit his son on the neck, injecting venom into his system. And the venom did the job, causing the younger male to become a kitsune like his father and the expedited healing process managed to reverse some of the damage done by the pills in his system.
When Leighton woke up he was startled, faced with the concerned and disappointed looks on his parent’s faces. It was then that Leighton was finally forced to open up about everything that had been going on in his life for the past few years, the bullying, the journal and even the fact that he had now been outed as gay to his entire school. All three of them cried throughout the whole conversation and Leigh realized that he never should have buried it all, that he’d always had people on his side and that they accepted him for the person he was, even when he wasn’t their own blood.
After the truth was out, his parents got him taken out of his school and started the process of rehab, he was sent to a facility in the city which kept him in for a couple of months. Leighton was committed to getting better and responded well to the treatment he was offered, by the time he left the facility he felt like he was a much stronger person than the broken shell who had entered. For most, a few months out of school would have caused them to get held back but Leighton threw himself into his school work, which he now did from home with a private tutor.
Leigh also had to adapt to the fact that in order to save him, his father had to turn him into a kitsune, something he hadn’t even known existed before. It was a challenge for the young male who had already been through so much, but he found the new found animal side to him actually did wonders for his own strength and confidence, willing him forward and making him more determined and driven. Turning every full moon, however, he didn’t like as much, though it was a small price to pay for the second chance at his own life he’d been given in exchange.
By the time he got his high school diploma, Leigh still had no idea what he really wanted to do with his life, he still had a lot of PTSD from the time he spent in school and so he tended to be wary around people which made college a pretty terrifying prospect for him. Still he knew his parents really wanted him to attend one and they never asked much from him, he wanted to prove to them he had the confidence to get back out there again. To chase some kind of happiness in his life.
So he decided to try and find a subject that really interested him. He did a lot of internet research to try and find a topic that really sparked passion in him and spoke to him and he eventually decided to start a degree in accounting, not because he wanted to be an accountant, but because it segwayed well into the subject he was really interested in, the stock market and the algorithms and theories behind them.
And enrolling in college turned out to be one of the best choices he ever made. Leigh remained fairly quiet and reserved at first, he had definitely come into his bashful personality but being around like-minded people who appreciated his mind and his drive rather than made fun of him for it. Leigh was still a private person but he did make friends at college. He worked as a barista part-time for two years and in that time he met many interesting people, including lifelong friends and Radley Parker, his first love.
It was one of those typical meet cutes where Radley asked Leigh for his number and the kitsune, flattered but overwhelmed by the gesture had turned him down, except Radley kept coming back to the shop, finding new excuses to need coffee and to get to know Leigh until he eventually agreed to a date. One date turned to a relationship and before long the two of them were absolutely smitten with one another. Leigh really felt himself come into his own and they stayed together throughout the whole of college, it became so normal to him to have Radley around and he loved him deeply and wholly.
When it came to the end of his course, Leigh graduated with honors and immediately decided to further his work and research in a masters degree. Though the program at Stanford didn’t fit his liking and so he applied to different universities that offered him a more whole experience. Radley wanted to go into accounting and so the two of them made plans to move out to Evermore city and begin a life together there. Things were playing out perfectly, Leigh got accepted into the course he wanted at Evermore university and Radley found a job in the city too. But a few months before the move his boyfriend was offered a job in NYC which was almost impossible to refuse, it was the kind of once in a lifetime opportunities that anyone would be stupid to turn down.
Leigh insisted that Radley take the position and while they fought over it several times, it quickly became evident that Radley wanted it. Leigh however had fallen in love with the programme and the campus at Evermore and they found themselves at a stalemate, no matter how much they loved one another, they loved the idea of their own future and goals more. So they mutually decided that a break up was for the best. Leigh didn’t take the break up well though, while he knew it needed to be done, he felt like a part of him was missing.
And every time that Radley would come to visit or he’d happen to be in NYC, the two of them would always fall into the same patterns, falling back into bed with one another and bringing the pain around all over again. Leighton knew it was never going to lead anywhere, their lives were so different now and it already became clear that neither of them were willing to give anything up in the name of being together. But it still hurt like hell when Radley called him out of the blue one day to tell him he had moved on with someone else now and didn’t want to hear from Leigh anymore.
Leigh never said yes to dates after that. He went back home to Evermore and he threw everything he had into his papers, works on the inner workings of the stock exchange and how a smart better might play in their favor. He even dabbled some of his own money into his own research and ended up making a fair bit back, though he didn’t risk too much, he wasn’t big on gambling which was what a lot of stock trading was and he didn't have the capital to invest his whole life into it.
When he was finally finished with his education, the money he had made on trading afforded him the ability to fulfil his dream. Leigh wanted to continue his work on the stock market findings and keep publishing papers which he did through an economic news society which let him freelance his work and then get paid for the pieces they published, which frankly was nearly all of them. With the help of a friend in business he was able to also open his own little book store which he spent nearly every day in.
Having a place to call his own was everything to him and he used the little store to share all the books and theories and stories that had helped him to get through his life to that point. Despite the years passing by he still spent most of his life alone, he had a few friends who managed to drag him out from time to time but for the most part, it was just him and his dog Minha. By the time he reached 29 Leighton had to wonder what the future held for him because while he loved everything he did and was generally happy, he still never managed to fill that void that Radley took with him when he left him behind.