CHAPTER SEVEN - ACCEPTANCE
Nick, tired and terrified had been awaken minutes ago by Howie. It was minutes after midnight and the film of sleep had been completely knocked from his vision. He was fearful; something was wrong with Brian.
In a matter of minutes Nick was out his front door struggling to pull on his jacket and cover his bare back. His hands trembled so much that the paint around the keyhole of his car was covered in scratches. He stopped, closed his eyes and took a breath, trying to relax himself. His exhaust erupted over his face.
A little less tense he hopped into his car and flew down the highway.
The lights seemed to be in favour of him this morning. One hand on the steering wheel he struggled to get his seatbelt across his lap. This was it, time was up.
"Today is Brian's deadline," he thought.
He was already three days late of dying. Nick hated that. Eighteen days flew by so quickly and now it was the twenty-first. Brian had suffered long enough. He never slept anymore, Brian laid awake for four days straight staring up at the ceiling like a corpse, waiting to die. He had expected his death earlier but was apparently disappointed. He was dying from exhaustion at this point.
Nick blinked a few times to clear his eyes of tears. It was a damn shame that Howie was calling him and not Kevin. To hell with that bastard, he would only bring Brian's death.
"God, please don't take him now, please…" he pleaded silently.
Howie's shift had just started. Nick had only left about an hour ago…how could this have happened so quickly?
He swung into Brian's driveway like a bat out of hell, almost ramming into the bumper of Howie's car. He flew open his door and bolted for the front steps.
"Please don't let me be too late…"
Fear tore open his eyes and he shot up stairs three at a time and burst into Brian's room. Howie was on his knees at Brian's bedside, crying helplessly. He looked up and Nick and said, "He's going man."
Horror. Sheer horror shot him through the heart at the thought that it might be true. For a moment, he stood there paralysed, he felt so sick he wanted to throw up. His face wrinkled.
"No…" he responded in disbelief and dragged his legs over to Brian's pale and sweaty body.
He had to be dying. He was so emaciated and ashen, the only colour being the red buckets of sleep that weighed down his eyes. The eyes that stared up at Nick without response.
But Brian saw. He saw clearly but how he wanted to respond. The Grim Reaper's bony and icy fingers had wrapped itself around Brian's half-consumed heart and were squeezing the life of him. His body was so stiff, but he could feel himself dying. His blood was freezing up-it felt like his veins were going to pop from repression.
Nick wasn't the face he wanted to see. Where was Kevin?
"I love you Nick…" he thought, but he couldn't say it.
Nick picked up his hand but dropped it immediately, surprised at how cold and stiff it was. He leaned over and looked into his unblinking eyes. Brian wasn't even aware that he wasn't blinking.
"Brian, listen to me, you're not dying, okay?" Nick said softly, placing his hands over his shoulders.
Howie watched intently at what he was trying to do and shook his head.
"It's too late Nick…"
Nick bit his lip to keep from responding to Howie's negative response. His eyes danced in their sockets, fighting not to cry.
"Don't listen to him buddy, you're gonna be okay…" but his voice broke.
He was lying to himself. A tear rolled from his cheek onto Brian's chest.
"Don't cry Nick..." Brian tried to say, but he could only stare at him and hope he got the message.
"Brian…Brian answer me…" Nick ordered.
He slid his hand down his arm and took hold of his hand. He couldn't even squeeze back to him. Nick stared at him…waiting, hoping for a response. He got none. As if angry at Brian for having to die, he roughly shoved his hand away.
"Brian, answer me! You're not dying now! Not now not ever!" he screamed.
He grabbed hold of Brian's shoulder again and shook him violently.
"Answer me Brian!! Brian!!"
"NICK! Stop it! Get away from him!" Howie screamed, arising and shoving Nick away from his body.
Howie turned back around to look at Brian. In his bed, he moved his body uncomfortably and coughed. His whole body shook like thunder.
Howie turned back around to look at Nick. "You almost killed him Nick! Let him die in peace."
Nick narrowed his brows angrily at Howie. "NO! He's not dying!" he screeched. He grabbed hold tightly to Howie's arms.
"You gotta have faith man. It's dumb bastards like you and Kevin who say dumb shit like that to him!"
He looked away from Howie to Brian again.
"Brian, don't listen to him, you're not dying okay? Don't leave me! Don't you dare leave me!!"
Suddenly his face exploded with tears. He fell to his knees and bawled like a child, body reddened and tense. There was nothing he could do, it was too late. Howie looked down at him crying at his feet, and his face cracked.
"I…I don't wanna see him die…" he said softly.
He stood up and ran out of his room, bolted back down the steps. Howie chased after him. He stopped at the top step and called out to Nick.
"Nick stop! We were in this together! Don't leave me here Nick! Don't run out on him like this! Wait Nick…" he pleaded.
He let his arms fall to his side like two dead weights and he sighed deeply and disappointed. The front door shut. He was alone.
"Howie.." Brian's pathetic little voice called from his room.
Howie turned around, surprised to hear him and in an instant he was back at his bedside. Forget Nick. He was a coward too.
Howie dropped to his knees and took hold of his hand again. It frightened him to do so… it was so cold, but he wanted to comfort him.
"What is it Rok? I'm right here man, I won't leave you," he promised, searching his eyes for vitality.
He sucked in his breath and fought himself internally to say, "Call Kevin."
It even hurt him to breathe.
Surprised, Howie lifted his brows but respected his wishes. "Okay…" he responded, uncertainty in his voice.
Kevin was sitting up in his bed, like he had done on so many nights, rubbing his forehead as if he expected his migraine to disappear. The migraine composed of guilt, hurt, worry and confusion. The moonlight shone through his bay window and seemed to stretch its rays right over his bed and caress the garbage pail that contained the ashes of Brian's picture.
He buried his head between his knees then brought it up to wipe the sweat off his brow. It was chilly, but his sweat was warm. He turned his head slightly and his gaze caught hold of the garbage pail. The light was deliberately pouring through his curtains at it.
Guilt. The only thing that could turn something little into something so big. He tossed the covers off his half naked body and in quick pace trotted over to the window to shut the curtains.
The phone rang.
Kevin didn't want to answer it but his spirit compelled him to.
It was Howie.
"Kevin? Brian wants you over here. Come quick."
"Come quick," the words echoed throughout his head and haunted him incessantly. Mercilessly.
His lips were tight with worry as he neared Brian's house. His eyes were green again, a warm compassionate green that held hurt and dread.
Slowly, he pulled into the driveway behind Nick's car and unleashed his seatbelt. He took his last deep breath and slid out his car to begin his descent into Brian's house.
Nick sat on the porch steps with his face buried in his hands. He looked up at Kevin and Kevin glared down at him but words never passed between the two.
Kevin walked right on by him and entered the house. A gush of hot air hit him in the face, welcoming him. The smell of death was hot and heavy. Dead air. He left the door open to let the air out and started upstairs removing his jackets as he neared the room. He went in cautiously and the first thing that caught his eye was Brian.
Kevin's eyes widened. Is he dead? Kevin's lips parted slightly and glanced down at Howie kneeling at his bedside.
"Brian…" he said softly, nearly in a whisper.
Howie hadn't even heard him come in. Kevin got closer to his bed and lay his jacket at his feet. Howie finally looked up at him. He moved out of the way to make room for Kevin. Ignoring Howie, he reached down and covered his warm hand over Brian's, he too realising how cold it was.
He looked sincerely at him and called his name softly.
"Brian," he said with a slight smile.
Brian turned his head to look at him. He blinked his heavy eyelids and smiled back. "I'm sorry," he started, but Kevin placed his finger over his lips signalling for him to be quiet.
Kevin's eyes filled to capacity with tears, but he didn't want Howie to see him. He looked down at him and said, "Howie, could you go call AJ?"
Howie nodded quickly and got up to leave. When he was out, Kevin brought his attention back to Brian.
"I'm dying Kevin…" Brian rasped, finally admitting it.
Tears soaked his face, leaving red streaks wherever his tears rolled.
"It's okay, Brian," Kevin whispered, lowering himself to the floor.
Water streamed off his face onto the floor, onto his shirt…everywhere. He held Brian's cold hand between his, trying to warm it.
"You have nothing to be sorry about, I was a big jerk to treat you like I did," he sulked.
Brian wanted to lift his hand to wipe away his tears but he couldn't.
Nick quietly walked into the room only to see Kevin hurting so badly, but Kevin ignored him too.
"Oh my God," Nick thought. "I walked back in here to see him die."
"Please say you'll forgive me Brian…I'm sorry," Kevin sulked.
He buried his face into his sheets and cried bitterly. His body heaved and shook from sadness. He was dying.
Nick took a step forward looking almost in disbelief at Brian.
"Brian.." Nick called softly.
He made his way over to him and grabbed his hand. It was heavy from dead weight. "Say something to me Brian, talk to me too, please," he pleaded softly. "Please Brian…I want you to say something to me too…" his lips tightened awaiting the response and he forced himself to hope, to believe that he would speak with him too.
When Brian didn't respond, Nick boiled with jealously for Kevin. He wrinkled his eyebrows and fell to the floor in shame.
Kevin looked up at Brian's still body, and returned his face into the sheets to sulk. AJ made his way up the stairs a little too late, he waited a little too long. He nearly tripped over Kevin sitting in the hall with his back to Brian's room looking inverted.
AJ looked down at him and saw that he had been crying. Kevin looked up at him pitifully. "He died…" AJ stated, questionable tone.
"Oh God." AJ collapsed beside him and hid his face behind his hands. "I'm sorry Kevin..." he said. "I was too late…"
There was silence between them, AJ crying quietly beside him.
Kevin buried his palms into his forehead and sucked in the remains of his tears.
"I told him I was sorry…" Kevin uttered flatly.
AJ wiped tears off his reddened face. "Did he accept?" he asked.
Kevin lowered his head. "I dunno. He died."
Written by: Trinity Archangel
Feedback to: Outlaw5919@aol.com