There was a banging inside of his chest as his heart desperately thumped hard as if to escape the confines of his body.
"Do you want me to leave?" AJ asked the Peters.
'No, please don't leave me here alone!' Brian begged silently.
"I think it would be easier if I spoke to Brian alone, don't worry, you're not in trouble," he said, as if reading the fear within Brian's eyes.
Somehow, that promise did little to reassure Brian. His hands were fast becoming exceedingly damp from cold beads of perspiration and he could hear his heart in his own ears.
"If you need me, just shout," AJ said, slowly getting to his feet and giving Brian a weak smile before leaving.
Brian gulped as if he had just seen his only hope leave through the door. What if he never saw them again because he ended up in prison?
"Brian-" Peters began.
"Am I gonna go to jail?" Brian murmured. He had to know, he had to know now… He couldn't stand the uncertainty any longer and the sickeningly fearful thoughts that ravished through his body.
"No," Peters replied, smiling at him reassuringly. "We're not going to arrest you. There's no evidence that suggests that you killed anybody. You may have confessed, but there is still no evidence."
Brian was note sure if the melodious words were right. He felt them flowing through him and the cold feeling of dread that had pursued him since his awakening seemed to evaporate, leaving him with the beautiful sweetness of relief within him.
"Thank God," he murmured. He lowered his head for a moment in a silent prayer and felt tears in his eyes, but now they were happy tears and not caused by his fear.
"There's no reason to arrest you," Peters assured him. "After this, you're free to go home."
"I don't know if I want to go back there. I think I might spend some time with my friends and family," Brian replied. His own home now contained some of the most horrifying memories that existed within him. They would only be awakened when he returned home to his blood stained hallway.
"No doubt it was very upsetting for you and very traumatising. You'll need a break. The doctor suggested that you might want to see a therapist when you return home, just to help you come to terms with everything."
Brian fought not to pull a face. He knew that they were only trying to help, but Brian knew that he was sane. He was not lying when he said that he had seen the man dead. He had been dead, damn it, even if it was only in his mind's eye. He had still seen it…
"I'll think it over," he said, making himself a mental note not to tell Kevin or the others about it. He just wanted some quiet rest and not some psychiatrist butting into his life.
"There is one other thing I would like to ask of you, though," Peters said. "It would be very helpful if you could come to the station some time. I would like to give you a file of known criminals to see if any of them is the one who attacked you. If he's not on record, then I'll need a full description from you. Would you be willing to do that?"
Brian nodded. "He scared me so much," he confessed. "I know I did wrong to hurt him, but I don't want him to attack anybody like he did to me."
"You were defending yourself," Peters said. "I think others would have done the same thing." He stood up and straightened his jacket. "I'll leave you now. No doubt you are keen to get better and return home. I'll leave you this phone number though for you to call and arrange to see me again about trying to identify the attacker. Good day." He placed a small scrap of paper down upon the table beside his bed, before exiting.
Brian slowly picked it up in his fingers and read the number out. The thought of going to a police station before would have brought the coldness back to his blood, but now it brought no fear. He was innocent. He was not going to jail. He was not going to be separated from his friends.
"Is everything okay, Brian?"
Brian looked up to see AJ in the doorway, peering at him in concern. That cop wouldn't tell me anything. He just told me to ask you."
Brian smiled sincerely, for the first time since he had awoken. He could feel a warm feeling burying itself joyfully within his body and it lit him up with a happy, relieved glow.
"They're not gonna arrest me, AJ," he said. "I'm free." He smiled again as the words came from his lips. Free, he was free to live his life. He had freedom and did not have to fear being locked away from everybody he loved.
AJ grinned and dashed over to sit beside him. "I told you, you were innocent!" he laughed, but Brian recognised the light of relief in AJ's eyes. "You're not a murderer. You never where."
"I really thought he was dead. It was awful…" he whispered, but inside of him a voice was screaming. 'He was dead! His eyes were dead!'
"You were scared. Who wouldn't be after what that freak put you through? Whatever you did was fully justified. The guy had a fucking carving knife! I think you're brave for even trying to stick up for yourself!" AJ said. "I think I would have gone to pieces!"
"I think I almost did for a while. It was like a nightmare. Everything was hazy and I couldn't see or think properly. It felt as if I wasn't even me anymore, like I was some kind of monster." The first few moments after the incident had been the most terrifying. The way the realisation had sunk into his body and slowly soaked into every part of him.
AJ patted his shoulder. "It is just a nightmare now and it's over."
"And am I glad about that," Brian said. Before, it had felt as if his entire life had been sickly twisted about his head and it were as if he could never return to what he had once had. Now though, there was hope for him. AJ was right, it was a bad nightmare and he could continue with his life now that it had ended.
"I think I'd better call Kevin and the others. Your mom is going to be so relieved! She was terrified that they were going to take you away from her!" AJ said.
"Yeah, I want to see her again. I wasn't much to talk to before because I was so scared and nervous. It feels much better now."
"Well, I'll get her right over here and - "
"Heeey!" a voice suddenly called. "Brian's smiling!"
Brian laughed as he saw AJ jump at the sudden shout and then he smiled as Nick came bounding across the room to embrace him tightly.
"That Peters cop just told me the great news! Thank God!" Nick said, squeezing Brian tightly.
Brian laughed at his friend's happiness and enthusiasm. He felt his own joy rising within him like a huge bubble that would burst any moment and flood his body with coloured waves of ecstasy. He wasn't going to jail…
"You escaped from the girls, huh?" Brian asked trying not to wince as Nick crushed his bad arm.
"Eventually," Nick replied. "They were dying to come up and see you but I made sure that they didn't follow me. I didn't think you'd be in the mood for crazy fans."
"I need some rest. I'm so tired." Brian yawned slightly. His slumber had been restless ever since he had awoken in hospital and during the day there had been the tearful emotions draining his soul.
"Why don't you sleep for a little while and we'll call everyone to tell them the good news," AJ suggested. "I'm also gonna find a doctor and find out when you can g home."
"It'll be nice to get out of here," Brian said, staring about the glum walls that used to haunt his childhood nightmares when he'd dreamt of the time he'd been in hospital as a tiny boy. "I think I might stay with my parents for a while though."
"And you'll have to crash round mine for a weekend. I never get to see you these days because you live so far away," Nick said.
Brian smiled. He needed a few days to relax and Nick was always excellent at taking his mind off of things.
"Thanks," he said. He placed his hand to his mouth as another yawn escaped him.
"Right, you get some rest," Nick ordered. "And leave everything else to us."
"God help us all," Brian murmured cheekily.
Nick slapped his hand playfully. "It's good to see you happy again."
"I'm not going to jail," Brian repeated, feeling his heart flying in delight at the wonderful words.
He lie back down and pulled the sheet loosely about his body, no longer needing it tight for a protective shield. Sleepily he watched AJ and Nick head for the door.
"See ya later, Brian," Nick called.
"Yeah, sweet dreams Rok," AJ added.
Brian smiled as he rested his head against the pillow. It was still damp from his earlier tears but he knew that he wouldn't cry anymore. He could handle everything as long as he wasn't locked away… unless the attacker did return…
He pushed that thought away. He wasn't planning on returning to his own house for a while and that man wouldn't find him whilst he wasn't at home.
'He's probably laughing to his friends how he stabbed the Backstreet Boy and planning a new robbery somewhere…'
That dark hour of his life was over and now he was safe… or at least he hoped he was…