CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN
Brian watched Nick being carried into the ambulance and his eyes remained glued upon his friend’s pale face. Nick’s cheeks were normally so rosy and there was always a sparkle in his blue eyes and a smile upon his lips. That was all gone now.
Brian hung his head and leaned further into Kevin’s arm which had been placed over his shoulder.
“Guys, you ready to go?” a voice asked. Their driver.
Brian said nothing but Kevin nodded and slowly led him over to the bus. There wasn’t enough room in the ambulance for all of them so they would have to take the bus, but Brian didn’t want Nick to be alone. What if he woke up and thought they had all abandoned him?
“What about Nicky? Someone would go with him!” he cried, staring back at the ambulance doors as they slammed shut. “I don’t want him to be all alone!”
“Brian, come on,” Kevin said softly. “There’s not enough room and the doctors need the space. We’ll be with him soon.”
Brian couldn’t tears his eyes away from the ambulance as the siren started up and it pulled out of the hangar. He finally turned his head away, the tears sliding down his face.
‘I’ll be there soon, Nicky. Please just hang on.’
Kevin, Howie and AJ sat in the small waiting room, none of them been able to bear the sight of Nick’s pale face and the way the doctors urgently shouted orders to one another as they fought to keep him alive.
‘We’re cowards,’ Kevin thought to himself miserably. ‘We’re all cowards.’
Howie had broken away from the sight first, with the tears on his face and then AJ had joined them. Kevin had been the one to call Nick’s parents but AJ and Howie had been by his side for support. Jane Carter’s voice still haunted his mind as he recalled the way she had begun to cry.
“We had to evacuate the entire arena in case there was any trouble,” Peters said from his eat opposite them. He ad arrived as soon as he had finished at the arena. “We didn’t have time to check everyone.”
“How did someone get a fucking gun in there!” AJ snapped raising his head for a moment to glare at the cops in front of him.
“They weren’t in the audience,” Fren replied simply. “They were upstairs in the roof of the arena. There’s a lot of trapdoors up there for the technicians to use when rigging equipment up. We also found a gun up there.”
“They hit him from the ceiling? How did they aim so well?” Howie asked.
“It was a sniper rifle. They’d obviously left it up there because they knew they wouldn’t be able to sneak out with it.”
“Then how the hell did they sneak in with it? You guys were supposed to be looking out for freaks with frickin’ guns!” AJ said. “How could you miss someone with a God damn sniper rifle tucked under his arm?”
“Mr. Mclean, please calm down! I know you’re upset about your friend but we suffered as well! We found one man shot dead in the ceiling! He was on patrol up there and he was killed!” Peters said.
AJ hung his head and Howie placed a hand upon his shoulder. “We’re sorry officer. We’re just worried about Nick. It’s been so awful for us with everything happening to Brian. Now this… and…” Howie had to stop there as he placed a hand to his eyes to try and stop the tears. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s understandable,” Peters said. “Where is Brian anyway?”
“He’s wouldn’t budge from the ward. He said he wanted to be where he could see Nick,” Kevin said softly. “There’s a security guard with him.”
Brian hadn’t wanted anybody with him, but Kevin had refused to let him stand there alone. He had stayed with Brian himself for a while, but Brian had been so cold and unreachable, all the time whispering prayers under his breath for Nick while the tears ran down his face.
“We’ve put out an appeal for information,” Peters said. “Maybe somebody saw something.”
“I doubt it,” Fren replied. “Who’d look at the ceiling during a concert when all the action’s on the stage?”
“We’re going to cancel the tour,” Howie said. “we can’t go on like this. We took every measure we thought we could but someone is determined to get to us.”
“Not you, Brian,” Fren said. “I think the rifleman missed.”
“Missed? He hit Nick! You call that a fucking miss!” AJ swore.
“Nick was standing beside Brian and the rifleman was quite a distance away. Even with a sniper, I think it was difficult for him. He didn’t succeed in shooting Nick dead, so maybe he wasn’t aiming for Nick.”
“Maybe he was aiming for Brian,” Kevin finished.
“We found the toy Brian was talking about on stage. It had a note for him pinned to it so maybe the gunshot was meant for him, but we can’t be certain. The rifleman must have been pretty poor if he missed Brian completely.”
“Or maybe he couldn’t tell the difference? They both have similar coloured hair and they were standing close together throughout the entire show,” Howie suggested.
“What are we going to do about Brian?” AJ said. “I think it’s obvious that he isn’t safe anymore.”
“We have a suggestion to make,” Peters said carefully and Kevin could sense from the way he thought before every word that he was about to suggest something drastic. “It’s to do with Brian.”
“It’s becoming clear that he is being targeted and whoever is doing this clearly has many resources. We need to make sure he’s properly protected,” Fren said staring at the boys before him. “We can assign personal security outside your homes, but it seems like we’ll need more than that to protect Brian… and I do have one idea.”
“But how? We’ve already beefed up security! What else can we do?” AJ said. “whoever is doing this is determined.”
Fren and Peters exchanged a glance with one another. Peters cleared his throat. “Well, we know one place where he would be safe. Completely and utterly safe.”
“And where’s that?”
please protect Nicky. I’ve tried so hard to be a good person and I know that you’ve given so much to me in life, but I have to ask you for this one last thing. Please bring Nick back to us. I want him to wake up and smile again. I want him to see his family again. He doesn’t deserve this. That shot was meant for me, not him. Please don’t let me suffer anymore. Please don’t let my friends be in pain because of me. We all want Nick back… please.
He was constantly praying to God now, praying for Nick to be kept safe.
“Brian?” Kevin said.
Brian turned his pale face towards them, feeling like a ghost he was so numb and cold inside. Kevin and the others were standing before him and his security guard stepped back to give them all some room. Brian also noticed Fren and Peters behind them all and he felt a small sting in his heart. Why couldn’t the police have protected them? How could they have let this happen to Nick?
“Brian, you’ve got to leave the hospital,” Kevin whispered, his eyes full of sadness and pain.
Brian stared at them and shook his head. “No. I’m staying with Nick! I want to stay with him!”
“Brian, it’s not safe for you! Nick’s already been hurt and we don’t want anything to happen to you as well.”
“I’m staying,” Brian replied staring back through the ward window where the doctors were fussing about Nick. “They say his condition is critical. He needs a kidney transplant. They don’t know if he’ll be okay.”
He sniffed slightly and his eyes found Nick’s face as a doctor stepped out of the way. Nick might die… He couldn’t bear that.
“I’m sorry, but you have to leave here now. We have to make sure you’re safe. Someone else might come after you!” Kevin said.
Brian turned to Kevin angrily. “Didn’t you hear me? Nick might die! I am staying here! I abandoned my brother and I’m not going to do the same to Nick!”
“We’ll be here with him. He won’t be alone,” Howie said. “And we’ve called his family and they’ll be down to see him. You’re not abandoning him! This is for your safety!”
Brian shook his head ruthlessly. “No. Besides it doesn’t matter where I go, they’ll find me.”
“Brian.” Kevin took him by the shoulders. “Nick is going to wake up and he’s going to want to know where you are. He’s been worried sick about you throughout all of this! What if we had to tell him you’d been hurt or killed and that it was because you didn’t want to leave him here? How would that make him feel? Or you could leave now and go to this safe place where nobody will hurt you until the police have caught who’s behind this. Then we can tell Nick that you’re safe and that there’s no need for him to worry about anything except getting better. Wouldn’t you prefer that?”
Brian sniffed slightly but his snuffles soon turned into sobs and he wrapped his arms about Kevin. “It’s my fault! I want this to be over!”
“It will be soon,” Kevin soothed. “The police are going to track down who had tickets near the from of the stage and find out who threw that bear. They’ll talk to everyone if they have to. Someone had to have seen who threw it.”
“Brian, please go. You’ll be safer. I don’t want to cry for you as well as for Nick,” Howie said dismally.
“I don’t want to go to my mom’s,” Brian whispered. “I don’t want them to be hurt.”
“No, we already have a place for you,” Peter said softly.
Brian was suddenly aware of all the nervous looks in the boys’ eyes. He gulped slightly. “Where?”