As Brian had predicted, the days he spent with Kevin were anything but restful. His cousin was permanently watching him out of the corner of his eye, as though expecting Brian to freak out any second. When the phone rang or somebody called at the door Kevin would glance at Brian nervously and then dash to see to it himself. Brian knew exactly what was going on, Kevin was expecting something to happen to him and was nervous. Unfortunately, his nerves were beginning to affect Brian.
He found himself jumping at the slightest sound and his heart rate would rapidly accelerate if anybody arrived at the house. His fingers were often clamped into tight, clammy fists and his eyes would dart about him whenever he left the house - not that Kevin actually allowed him to leave the house much. He was convinced that as soon as Brian was alone someone would try to hurt him and this certainty was starting to scare him. What if someone was watching for him, ready to pounce and attack him?
He sat in the lounge, his knees tucked up to his chest and his hands clasped firmly about his legs. Damn Kevin. He knew that it was Kevin's attitude that caused him to be so nervous. Couldn't his cousin see that Brian did not want to be reminded of the fact that he may have a dangerous stalker? He did not object to staying with Kevin, on the contrary he felt much safer within somebody else's home, but he did not enjoy the constant reminders that he might be in danger that Kevin gave to him in the form of his nervous moves or glances towards him.
Brian was still scared about the message on the wall. In his nightmares he would see those letters and then he would see that they were written in blood from Liam's dead body. He would awaken whimpering and anxiously turning in his bed to check that nobody was in the room with him. The nights were the worst as that is when the darkness closes in to surround you with it's unnatural sounds.
During the day, he could almost forget his fears. The creaking of stairs during the day is much less frightening than it is at night and you can laugh at yourself for being so paranoid, but Brian was beginning to find himself jerking with fear in the day as well. He found himself becoming more and more irritated with Kevin's smothering until he felt like screaming to be released from this prison. There were a few days left before he went back on tour and he knew that he needed to relax and unwind or there would be no chance at all of him surviving the long, stressful tour. To unwind, he needed to feel comfortable - and Kevin's intense guarding of him was definitely not comforting at all.
Brian sighed as he sat upon the couch with the magazine in his hands. He tried to focus upon the bright, glossy photographs and ignore the way Kevin would stick his head around the door every five minutes to check up on him. His fingers tightly clasped the magazine and he could feel the way his heart pounded harder and harder in his chest. Why couldn't Kevin allow him to be alone to relax?
Brian jumped slightly as the phone gave a shrill ring. He laughed at himself slightly as he placed the magazine down and reached for the receiver.
"I'll get it!" Kevin called.
No, Brian was going to get it to prove that he could cope with answering a phone call. The chances of it being his stalker were remote. "No, it's all right!" Brian replied as he picked up the phone in clammy fingers. "Hello?" he said, ignoring the way perspiration began to form upon his brow.
"Hey Nick!" Brian called smiling even though his friend would be unable to see the gesture. But was he smiling at Nick or the fact that it wasn't anybody who wanted to hurt him? "How ya doing buddy?"
"Forget about me, what about you? I just got back from visiting my parents and Howie told me what had happened. Are you okay?" Nick asked.
"Brian who is it?" Kevin said, rushing into the room and staring at Brian anxiously as if he were about to pass out again.
"It's only Nick," Brian said. "Not some psycho." 'So stop bugging me!' He added silently.
"Brian, I am a psycho remember?" Nick replied playfully. "So come on, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Brian reassured him. "I'm a little shaken still, but I'm okay."
"Good, I've been worried sick about you! How could someone do that?"
Brian's eyes followed Kevin as he paced across the room, hardly listening to a word Nick said. Finally Kevin seemed to accept that it was Nick on the phone and that there was no danger for Brian. He slowly returned to the kitchen.
Brian breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God," he murmured.
"What's up?" Nick asked.
"It's Kevin," Brian replied. He lowered his voice slightly so that his cousin would be unable to hear anything. "He's following me around and constantly watching me as if he expects someone to jump out from a closet and try and stab me the second my back is turned!"
Nick chuckled slightly. "That's Kev for you. He's just worried about you."
"I know," Brian said. He closed his eyes trying to ignore the way guilt seemed to be eating away at his heart. Kevin had been good to him and he felt like a creep for being so ungrateful. "Nick, I swear I'm being smothered so much I'm drowning. Kevin hardly even lets me go out of the house!"
"Well we've got to keep an eye on you. If someone is after you then it's best if you stay inside," Nick replied, his voice trying to reason with Brian.
"Nick, this isn't helping me at all. I just get really nervous when Kevin is around. Him and Kristen watch me constantly and are always on the lookout for me in case something should happen and it makes me nervous as hell. It's like their nerves are contagious. I need a break. I need time to relax. I don't need Kevin badgering me every time I go silent as to 'what's wrong'."
Nick sighed on the other end. "He's just concerned. I know he can be overprotective but he really is worried about you - we all are. Have you tried talking to him?"
"Yeah I did but he didn't listen. I told him that being protective is okay but he makes it so obvious that he's worried and it affects me but he just says that I've been through a lot and it's natural for me to be scared and… God Nick, I just feel like screaming! I feel so guilty for saying so because I know he's doing what he thinks is right, but it's just awful for me!" Brian could feel the way the bricks that had been weighing upon his mind for the past two days slowly lifted as way as he unleashed the emotions and the torment that had been haunting him since his arrival.
"Don't worry, we'll be back on tour at the end of the week."
"And it'll be a nightmare! I need to relax before we go. Nick, please can I come and stay with you?"
Brian had not intended to ask the question, but he knew that the moment he said it, it was right. Nick would treat him like an ordinary person, plus he had not seen him in the state Kevin had so he was bound to be a little more flexible and Brian knew that was what he needed.
"Please! I swear I'll be a nervous wreck when we go back on tour at this rate! I need some space!" Brian found that he was gripping the phone in desperation almost. Nick was always so chilled out. When Brian had last stayed with him, he had known that he was concerned and was always looking out for him but he didn't make as much fuss as Kevin did and allowed him to sit quietly without interrogating him about what was wrong.
"Brian, I know you're frustrated but - "
"You have no idea! Nick please it's just for the few days before we go back on tour. I'm so tense and worried and I need to chill out. I can't do that here!"
"All right, all right, of course you can stay," Nick agreed. "It's great having you over, but only if Kevin agrees. I don't want him to get angry with me over this."
"Nick, you're an angel!"
"Nah, get it right - I'm a psycho!"
Brian smiled properly and it felt as if he had not smiled in days. "Thank you so much!" he said. "Right, I'm gonna tell Kev and then get a plane straight away! I'll call you later to tell you which flight."
"Right just don’t make this seem like it was my idea! Kevin will kill me!"
"I'll sort it! Okay, bye Nick!" Brian said happily.
"See ya later, Frick!"
Brian replaced the phone and then leaned back in the couch, feeling free for the first time in two days. He was going to escape - escape and breathe.
"Brian, you all right? Nick wasn't bugging you was he?" Kevin asked.
Brian gritted his teeth slightly. He knew Kevin was just concerned and didn't want him to feel pressured by the others. "No, he just wanted to see how I was doing."
"How are you doing? You've seemed a little… tense today."
"I'm fine." Brian gritted his teeth slightly. This was what he could not cope with, the constant concern that made him feel so edgy.
Kevin sat down on the couch beside him. "Brian, Kristen made a suggestion earlier today. She has a friend who is a councillor and maybe you would like go and see her. We thought it might help you to clear your mind before we go on tour."
"What? Do you really think I'm going crazy?" Brian snapped. 'I am going crazy! I'm getting crazier with each day I'm here! I need space, not a councillor!'
"Don't be ridiculous! I'm just saying that - "
"That I'm losing it?" Brian stood up and then turned to face Kevin. "You think I'm nuts don't you?"
"No!" Kevin protested, standing up as well and reaching out towards him.
Brian jerked away from his cousin, ignoring the hurt that appeared in Kevin's eyes. "Kevin, I'm sorry if I am a burden to you, but I've just had a rather unordinary experience in my life."
"I know and - "
"And I want to deal with it in my own way. I was fine when I got back from Nick's! I was getting over it and living my life again. Then, in case you've forgotten, I found 'murderer' written on my damn wall!"
"Brian calm down!"
"Calm down? I can't calm down when you're being like this and when I'm living like this!" Brian found that his voice had become a desperate cry and a few tears were beginning to appear in his eyes.
"Like what?" Kevin asked blankly.
"Like I'm some kind of mentally unstable invalid! You treat me like a kid, constantly fussing over me like you expect me to have a panic attack any moment! I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's not gonna happen! The only thing that might happen is that I might suffocate with you watching me and fussing over me!" Brian was practically screaming the words now and his heart was hammering so hard it was like an internal drum of doom.
"How do you think I feel?" Kevin snapped. His eyes hardened as he finally retaliated under Brian's accusation. "A week and a half ago, I walked into your house and found you bleeding to death on the floor! I find that someone attacked you and terrified you! After getting over that, I then get a call from you almost having a fit and then I find you'd fainted! I'm sorry for caring, but I do and I can't just stop!"
Brian was taken back by the intensity of Kevin's voice. He took another step backwards and felt the tears beginning to slide effortlessly down his cheeks.
"I'm not asking you to stop caring!" Brian sobbed. "I just want some space! I'm scared and you make me feel worse because I can sense that you're worried sick about what will happen to me and I - I feel so…" Brian found his voice being choked by the tears. He sobbed again and backed away until he was against the wall where he slowly slid to the floor. "I - I don't want to be treated like this!"
Kevin was suddenly beside him on the floor. He wrapped his arms about him tightly. "Brian! Brian, I'm sorry! I'm sorry, I shouldn't have lost my temper like that. I didn't mean to get angry!" he apologised. "I'm sorry!"
"No Kevin, I'm sorry for being such a pain in the butt. Here you are taking care of me and I can't even be grateful," Brian replied as he tried to wipe away the tears.
"I never knew how much this had gotten to you," Kevin said. "Why don't you sit down and have a break? I'll get you some - "
"No Kev, I've got to pack and catch a plane," Brian said, slowly hobbling to his feet.
"What? What plane?" Kevin asked, visibly stiffening in concern.
"Kevin, I asked Nick if I could stay with him and he said yes," Brian confessed staring his cousin straight in the eye to show his determination.
"But why? Aren't I looking after you enough?" Kevin asked, clearly hurt.
"You're looking after me too much and completely stifling me! I'll be fine, I really will. They'll be lots of people on the plane so I won't be alone and nothing will happen. Please, I've already intruded upon you and your wife for long enough."
"You're not intruding!" Kevin said.
"Kevin you care about me and that leads you to be too protective. I don't want to be treated like I'm different, I just want everything to be the same. At Nick's it was great and it was like nothing had happened to me. We played Nintendo, basketball and watched movies and I felt so relaxed because it was normal. I could clear my head and think over what had happened. Nick never pushed me unless he knew I was clearly upset and I was comfortable like that. Here, I feel pressured and I feel like I'm in the way and you're always watching me and it's unnatural!" he held up a hand to prevent Kevin from interrupting. "There's only four more days until we're back on tour and I need some time and some space before then." Brian stared at Kevin's face, begging for him to let him go.
Kevin sighed. "I'm sorry - "
"It's not you," Brian said, gently placing an arm upon his shoulder. "You're my cousin and I love you, but you're too concerned about me and I understand and appreciate that, but I just need more space." He smiled weakly. "Anyway, you won't get to see Kristen for a while so you should make the most of your time with her. I'll be fine at Nick's and I'll call you everyday, I promise."
"You've made up your mind haven't you?" Kevin said.
Brian nodded. He could not stay here.
"All right… but at least let me take you to the airport."
Brian smiled. "Sure. I'll call Nick when we get there and tell him what flight I'll be on."
Kevin nodded and smiled, but he still looked a little glum. "I guess a break is what you need… Just don't keep everything bottled up. If I pressured you, it was because I didn't want you to keep your feelings to yourself and allow them to build up. Sure, I guess you really need to chill out, but just make sure you cope with everything that has happened."
"And please be careful. I know you want to live normally, but there could be some danger for you so just take care of yourself," Kevin warned him.
Brian gulped slightly. The danger would still be with him and he knew that the fear would still be lurking within him as well, ready to surface at the smallest sign. "I know and I promise I'll be careful. Nothing will happen on the plane with so many people and Nick will meet me straight off of the plane. We won't do anything stupid and we'll probably just chill at his place."
Kevin patted his arm for a moment. "Come on, let's get moving," Kevin said softly. "It sounds as if the sooner you get to Nick's you can relax and calm down."
Brian smiled and embraced Kevin again tightly. "Thank you Kevin. Thank you so much for understanding."