The cool wind blew against his skin and ruffled his light brown hair as he stood in the garden, a thick coat wrapped about him. The trees in the yard were bare and naked now against the grey sky and their melancholy branches creaked every time the cold wind blew.
Brian stood watching the trees, almost memorised by the way they swung in the breeze. They looked almost like burnt skeletons now in winter. Thinking of them brought back the images of the dark wood he had been dragged through and the hatred in Liam’s eyes that had haunted his dreams and brought him out in an icy sweat whenever he invaded his slumber.
The dreams were gone now, replaced with only the usual bizarre images that occupied one’s mind during sleep. Last night he had glimpsed Liam again, but he hadn’t been pursuing Brian anymore. He was only there in the background, unthreatening and unable tot ouch him anymore.
“Are you sure about this?” Kevin asked as the man hammered the For Sale sign up upon Brian’s house.
Brian turned away from the trees and back to his cousin. He stared up as the hammer struck the sign again. For a moment his eyes lingered upon the dark windows. He nodded in determination. “Yes. Too many bad memories there.”
“You loved that house the second you saw it,” Kevin replied.
“Not anymore,” Brian whispered. It had brought too many bad things upon his life and he would never sleep comfortably in there again. He needed to be liberated of his guilt and the events he had experienced. He couldn’t live with the constant reminder. Every time he walked into his house now he would remember the blood. To break free, he needed to eliminate those final strands that tied him to Liam and Adam.
He watched as the man steadied the sign in the wind and sighed as he took in the windows of his house. It had been a lovely place once, but now it had been tainted. While he lived there, his guilt would always find him and burrow into his mind. He needed somewhere where he could be away from the memories of Liam.
“How are the Peters?” he asked as he turned away from the house and began to walk once more down the beautiful cobbled path.
“Grieving,” Kevin replied gently.
“Another death on my shoulders,” Brian said, stopping to stare up at the grey sky as a drop of rain fell from the clouds.
“It wasn’t your fault, and his wife is proud of him. He died in saving another.”
Brian nodded. “If it wasn’t for him, I would be dead by now. Liam was only half a second away from throwing me over that bridge when he turned up. He saved me.”
“That he did,” Kevin said, placing a hand upon Brian’s shoulder. “And your friends and family and fans will be forever grateful I believe.”
Brian nodded. So many people in the world cared about him and his family loved him dearly. His death would have hit them so hard. He froze as he remembered standing on that bridge. For one moment, he had almost jumped and ended everything. That jump would have also harmed every person who cared about him.
He was lucky to be so loved.
Kevin placed an arm about him. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Brian replied. He turned away from the yard and the pool to return to the sales man, who was now clambering down the ladder.
“All right for you?” the man called.
“It’s great,” Brian replied, watching the blue sign swing in the wind. “Perfect.” He shook hands with the man and then turned to stare at the house one last time.
No more memories after this. No more facing that hallway and remembering Adam and the blood. He glanced down at his hands and finally he felt as if they were clean again.
“Ready to go, Brian?” Kevin asked.
Brian smiled at him. “Let’s go.”
He strode away from his former home towards Kevin’s car. He would be staying with Kevin for a few days while the rest of the paperwork was signed for his new home. It was a little isolated from his friends, which worried him slightly, but Nick had already invited himself to stay with Brian for the first few days. He was still a little weak and couldn’t play sports for long but he was definitely much better than when Brian had seen him in hospital.
He strapped himself into the seat as Kevin backed the car out of the drive. He did not turn for one last look at the house, knowing that he didn’t need to. He was free of it and the memories.
He stared out of the window, watching the street as they drove by. It looked cold outside as the wind blew against the car. It seemed even colder and cruller now that Brian had seen the darkness of the world. He had seen how barbaric the world could be to some people. He lived a comfortable life with a wonderful family, but so many people were not as lucky as him. People like Liam Baker who’d had nothing and nobody except his brother…
“Brian?” Kevin asked suddenly.
Brian turned away from the window to stare at his cousin with his healing black eyes. “Yes?”
Kevin’s lips thinned for a moment and his eyes flickered downwards for a brief second, clearly showing his uncertainty about something. “You went to Liam’s funeral,” he said eventually.
Brian nodded. He had known that this would come out at some point. Harry had even sat with him throughout the service. It had been another cold, wet day and Brian had slunk close to his brother. There had been something unnerving as he watched the cheap coffin slide away through the curtains to be cremated, but it had marked a finality to his entire situation. It was all over and he’d had to go to show himself that. It had been the only way to dispel the fear and the nightmares.
Nobody else had been there. Not one person. Nobody had cared for him. Was that why Liam had been so twisted with anger and hatred inside? Was that what no love did to you?
Liam was gone now and finally he was back with his brother. Maybe it was better for Liam this way.
“My brother took me,” he said quietly.
“Why?” Kevin asked. “Why did you go?”
“I just had to see it through to the end, to prove to myself that Liam was human and not a monster.”
“Not a monster? Brian, he tried to kill you! He killed one of your friends and almost murdered Nick!”
“I know that,” Brian said calmly. “But he was messed up inside. I saw it in his eyes… but he was human and he had feelings inside. He did everything because he couldn’t live without his brother.”
Brian leaned against the window and glanced outside again. He was so lucky to have been given his life with friends and a family and a wonderful career that he adored. Liam had had nothing. He had only had his brother.
“He was a vicious maniac… and so was his brother. They killed people before they even met you. They were evil and the world is better off without them.”
“Don’t say that,” Brian said sharply. “They were unlucky in life. It could have happened to anyone. Who knows what anyone is capable of doing under pressure?”
“You just tried to fucking kill me! You think you’re still the innocent one now?” Brian could still hear the gunshot that he had fired when he’d squeezed that trigger. He had come close to being a true murderer that night because of the desire to make the pain stop. He knew how easy it was to become someone you despised. One little accident… one little mistake… and life could change so drastically.
It had scared him when he held that gun. It would scare him for the rest of his life now that he knew what eh could do under pressure.
But he didn’t have that pressure anymore. There was nothing but freedom ahead now. He smiled as he glanced out of the window again, noting that the drizzle of rain was gone and being replaced by weak sunshine. The guilt would always be with him, but he would not let it control him.
He had a chance for life again. He had almost died, but God had delivered him. He wouldn’t throw his life away now. He couldn’t dwell on everything bad that had happened. He wanted to live.
“You’ve forgiven him?” Kevin asked incredulously.
Brian shrugged. “Not exactly, I’ve just come to terms with it all.”
“I had to.”
He had to. He had to accept to be free.
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