Three Months Later
Birdsong echoed through the trees and around the houses of the densely populated suburban area. Despite the rows upon rows of neighbourhoods and meandering cul-de-sacs, it was a peaceful and quiet environment to live in. Brian lifted up the sleek black hood of his car and slowly began unscrewing the cap for the bottle of windshield wiper fluid. He had had quite the slow three months, putting a down payment on a new house, buying a new car as well as new clothes…all of course at separate times.
It seemed that after what had happened three months ago, he needed a change…a new beginning. He hadn't heard much from Matt lately and didn't exactly know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He was aware that Matt had been taking care of Chris after he had been discharged from the hospital but their communication had almost ceased since then.
The last he heard, Chris was on heavy sedatives at home and spent most of the day asleep. Brian didn't ask for much on his condition and figured that Chris needed some time to recuperate without being hoarded by friends at his house while he was still groggy and half asleep from the pain medication. Pouring the windshield wiper fluid into the appropriate place, Brian examined the rest of the contents below the hood. He loved this car…it was so perfect and drove so smoothly.
There wasn't a day that went by he didn't roll down his window to let the fresh air enter his lungs. There were even moments when he found it hard to remember what that asylum had smelled like, all that mould they had breathed in…all that rotting air. But there were some nights when his dreams were filled with horrors; horrors he had seen and heard while confined to that God awful place.
Sometimes if he was alone in a room at home, just sitting in the kitchen reading, he could swear he heard the sounds of his friends screaming long into the night. But he tried not to let it affect him. He tried getting a hobby, something to distract his thought but he found it difficult since he was not able to put what happened at the asylum behind him. Perhaps this was because he had not seen Chris in almost over three months and he knew not if he was alright.
Was he permanently damaged by what had happened or too scared to even leave the house? There were so many unanswered questions, especially about his past and how he had escaped the asylum when he was younger. Brian frowned and tinkered around under the hood in thought while giving a heavy sigh. Maybe it was as simple as his Aunt coming back to get him…perhaps the doctors had deemed him cured when the asylum was shut down. Again, so many unanswered questions.
" Nice car!"
Brian's head smacked into the hood with a painful start and he cursed under his breath at the new throbbing feeling entering his skull. After finally realizing who had yelled those two words, his eyes instantly softened and he pulled his neck out from under the hood. Brian was greeted by a wide smile, dimpling those chiselled, tanned cheeks with a child-like innocence. He stared into those sparkling blue…amused…eyes and gave a small frown.
" H-hey Chris." Brian stuttered, still a little surprised that Chris was now standing there with his hands stuffed in his pockets and an observing gaze in his eyes.
" Thought I'd drop by for a while. Matt was driving me insane at my house so I decided to sneak out while he was taking a nap. I hope you don't mind the intrusion." He explained cheerfully with that soft casualness in his voice. Brian shook his head and gave a small smile.
Really, he was jumping for joy inside because he was so excited to see his best friend smile again. After taking a short moment in thought, he decided to remain calm and not smother him with hugs and cry into his shoulder like a baby. After all, he didn't want to scare him.
" It's no intrusion. I was actually hoping you'd stop by. I haven't seen you in like…forever." Brian explained quietly, then dropped the hood with a careful smack. Chris nodded a little and leaned against the side of his car, crossing his arms.
" Yeah well... Matt wouldn't let me leave the house for three months. I swear, he baby fed me every day. It's like he thinks I've never used a fucking fork before! Another day like that and I'd have gone insane." He explained with an irritated voice, despite the small smile of amusement still creeping against his soft lips.
Brian frowned a little at his words and briefly wondered if he had remembered everything. It would have been creepy as hell if he did. " Insane huh…" He muttered in response and rubbed his face wearily. He could still remember the look of scepticism on the doctor's faces when he had told them that Chris had gotten the stab wound because he had fallen onto the knife. From there, the lies increased as the rest of the guy's families had been told that their precious loved ones had been in a severe car accident while on the way to the photo shoot.
Their bodies had never been recovered because the 'car had exploded'. Brian was actually surprised when the their families believed them. Later on, Matt and Brian had found out that the photo shoot crew had been stuck in the London airport due to a snow storm and could not make it to the location of the shoot. They had been later fired after the funerals of Shawn, Jeff and Mark. It had been a horrible three months of regret, sorrow and anger. So many shitty days of wondering what went wrong and how all of that could have happened. Brian could still feel the sickening twist in his stomach as he remembered getting into that van in the first place.
" Listen, thanks for saving me from Matt. I'm gonna go raid your fridge if it's alright with you. I'm about sick of chicken noodle soup and bread." Chris chuckled and began meandering into Brian's house after receiving a small laugh and a nod from him. Just as he was about to follow him into the house, he heard a loud shout and quickening steps up his driveway. Brian turned around to see a frantic looking Matt advancing towards him.
" Where the hell is he? Is he here? Did he come here?"
" Matt slow down."
" Chris was supposed to stay in bed! I have been trying to get him to sit down for the past month now and he's been running around the house like a headless chicken!" Matt explained loudly while crossing his arms. Brian couldn't help but laugh at his friend as he stood there panicking over nothing.
" Matt, he was probably running around because he was tired of sitting around all day. He's a workaholic remember? He needs to get things done or he'll throw himself out a window. You know how he is."
" Brian that man has been uncooperative since the moment he left the hospital." Matt explained with a glare.
" He thinks you've been babying him. I suggest you stop before he goes all psycho on us again."
" That's not funny." Matt replied, looking slightly upset by that last remark. Brian gave a small nod of apology but just couldn't help himself from trying to create humour in an uncomfortable situation. What they all needed now was a little humour. Besides, humour never killed anyone.
" Sorry. By the way, does Chris remember anything?" He asked curiously, cocking his head in question. Matt shook his head and watched Brian's eyes flood with relief.
" Nope. I told him he was in a car accident with the rest of the guys and managed to get out alive. He was pretty broken up about it for a few days but after a while he told me that being upset wasn't going to bring them back and moving on was the best thing for him to do."
Brian nodded with agreement and gave a small smile.
" Well, I think he's handling it better than us."
" What do you mean?" Matt asked, frowning deeply at his comment.
" Well, I can't survive one day without being with my lovely new car to distract me from that…that place and you have completely lost your mind when it comes to being around Chris. How many times do I have to tell you he hates it when people check up on him every five minutes?"
" It wasn't every five minutes…it was every fifteen minutes." Matt pointed out, feeling slightly insulted that Brian was analysing him.
" Fine, whatever man. I'm going inside. Would you like to join us?" Brian asked as he began walking towards the front door. Matt sighed heavily and followed him inside to the kitchen where Chris was sitting on Brian's lap top while the TV blared in the corner. Matt sat down across from Chris and glared at him while Brian leaned against the counters and squinted at the volume of the TV.
" Hey Chris, are you deaf yet?" Brian shouted over the noise
Chris smiled as he typed and shook his head a little.
" I live for loud distracting noises. It makes me feel cosy."
Of course it would after being locked in an abandoned mental asylum for so many days in silence. Matt sighed out heavily and ran a frustrated hand through his hair.
" Chris I thought I told you to at least stay on the couch for a few more days."
Chris rolled his eyes and continued typing as Brian began looking through his own fridge and of course found nothing. Apparently Chris hadn't either because he wasn't eating anything.
" Matt I told you like a bazillion times that I was fine. Now I understand that you have an uncontrollable instinct to baby me and I accept that. I am damn cute. But you have to let go man! Let the bird out of his nest!"
Matt gave him a cold stare and bit his lips before replying.
" Fuck you Chris."
" I thought you might respond that way. Now would you please leave me the fuck alone? I got work to do."
Brian chuckled inwardly to their squabble and couldn't help but blush. It sounded as if everything was slowly returning to normal…except without Shawn's immaturity, Mark's annoyance and Jeff's aggressiveness. Even though they weren't there, Brian found himself quite content given the situation. At least he still had two of his best friends, however annoying and loud they may be. Brian's ears suddenly burned and perked as the voice of a news reporter began blaring on the television. His face suddenly fell and grew pale as he listened to what she was saying.
" Today marks the 206th anniversary of the massively beautiful building that had opened in the year 1800. David Bethlem Manor had become infamous for providing care to hundreds of patients during the 1800s to the late eighties and had become a well known landmark in Scotland. Although the manor had closed down in 1986 and unfortunately very recently became victim to two hundred years of damage, we still celebrate what that building stood for, the care that was given and the staff that worked so hard to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the mentally i-."
Brian smacked the button on the television and remained frozen in place while praying to God that Chris hadn't been paying attention. Matt remained silent and stared at Brian with a grave look upon his face, obviously hoping for the same thing. Chris looked up from the screen of the laptop, obviously disturbed by the sudden silence and gave a slight glare.
" Why'd you turn that off?" He asked quietly with a soft voice. Brian swallowed hard and slowly returned to the kitchen, glancing briefly at Matt before he replied.
" You know what? I think I like the peace and quiet." He explained, trying to act as casually as possible. Chris blinked slowly and raised a brow, before going back to whatever it was he was doing on the laptop.
" Whatever floats your boat." He whispered and continued typing furiously. Matt let out a soft sigh of relief, glad that Chris had not even reacted to the mention of that asylum. After a few more minutes of uncomfortable silence, Chris closed the laptop and stretched, then stood up with a sigh.
" Bri, I'm gonna go use your shower, if that's alright."
" Yeah sure man." He replied with a smile and watched as Chris made his way up the stairs to the bathroom. Brian sat down at the table across from Matt and gave a heavy sigh in thought before he began to speak.
" You know, for the past few months…I've been thinking-."
" –Uh oh, that can't be good." Matt interrupted with a small smile.
" Not funny jackass. I'm serious. I've been thinking about what Evil Chris said in the chapel…about how Chris…felt about…me."
Matt stared at him for a long moment and gave a small frown.
" You don't remember…" Brian whispered, looking down at the table.
" No…I remember that. And I think he was right." Brian looked up from the table and peered into Matt's eyes for what seemed like an eternity before he began elaborating.
" Chris does love you. He practically worships you even. He's your friend…of course he would. But you know, maybe that love is entirely plutonic in a sense that he loves you as a friend. Whatever Evil Chris meant by it…could have just been a way to distract you. Trust me, he was a manipulative bastard." Matt explained quietly while hearing the water running upstairs. Brian nodded with a small smile and sighed inwardly, not sure if he was disappointed by Matt's explanation or relieved. One thing was for sure, he didn't need anymore confusion in his life.
" Yeah…you're probably right."
After about an hour, Matt had decided to turn back on the TV in order to alleviate his boredom, leaving Brian sitting in the kitchen by himself. It seemed that Chris had been taking his sweet time in the shower and by the second hour, Brian started getting worried. How long could it possibly take for one man to shower. It wasn't long before Brian found himself quickly walking upstairs and stopping in front of the door to the bathroom. The water had been turned off and he heard dripping smacking the tile floor below. He frowned a little and swallowed hard, feeling his heart beginning to race.
A few minutes passed and he heard nothing but that dripping. There was no movement from inside the bathroom, which increased his heart rate even to the point where he could hear it throbbing in his ears.
" Chris!" He shouted, pounding on the door. Again, there was no response. Brian's eyes lowered fearfully and he decided to grip the doorknob. Slowly, he turned it finding it to be unlocked and slowly creaked the door open. His heart froze in his chest as he stared at Chris, standing there shirtless in front of the mirror, peering at his own reflection emotionlessly in silence. Brian had no idea what to make of this and wondered why the hell he wasn't moving or even reacting to his presence in the bathroom.
He quickly glanced into the mirror and stared into Chris's eyes, making sure he wasn't seeing that horrible blue/black colour that still haunted his dreams to this day. Relaxing a little at the familiar blue colour, he leaned against the doorframe and frowned with confusion. Soon, Chris's voice began to echo around the bathroom…softly.
" For three months I've stared at this wound in my abdomen and no matter how hard I try, I just can't remember what happened. It's like one day you wake up and get a cup of coffee, you blink and all of a sudden you're lying in bed with Matt attentively at your side with a book and a worried expression on his face."
Brian gave a small smirk at his words and observed his delicately soft features as he spoke.
" I know something happened…I know I was injured and that Shawn, Mark and Jeff aren't here anymore but it's like my brain is shutting itself off from whatever happened. I kind of feel like a computer that can't access a file after being smashed by a hammer."
Brian remained silent as Chris blinked slowly at his own reflection and gave a heavy sigh of defeat.
" Maybe I don't really want to know what happened to me…or anyone else for that matter. Maybe its better this way you know? Less pain."
Brian's smile grew slowly as he watched Chris pull on his shirt, covering the newly forming scar in his abdomen.
" I'm just glad you're alright."
Before Chris could even turned his head, he felt Brian's arms wrap around him in a tight hug that nearly forced the air out of his lungs.
" Ugh, okay hi." He whined painfully while Brian took comfort in Chris's half laugh, half cough.
" Chris…no more photo shoots." He stated, knowing full well that this statement would confuse the older man for God knows how long.
" Uh…okay?" He answered cautiously, wondering if his friend had now lost his mind.
" Good." Brian smiled and patted him on the back before releasing him from his grip. Chris gave a small frown and eyed Brian suspiciously with confusion. Given Chris's reaction to the hug, it became apparent that that 'love' was definitely plutonic.
" Sorry, did I hurt you?" Brian asked with a laugh.
" No…just…next time you want to hug someone, warn them." Chris replied, walking past him and then down the stairs. Brian sighed with content and couldn't help but smile. Chris was back to his old 'afraid of awkward hugs' self and Matt was downstairs now fighting with him for the remote. As he walked downstairs and observed the two smacking each other and complaining, he began to wonder if everyone really did have some sort of darker side to be fought with.
Perhaps we all have some sort of dark flame, struggling to grow hotter within ourselves. One thing Brian knew for sure, was that with these two idiots now rubbing their bruises and glaring with malevolent smiles, they were going to be alright. They'd all be alright.
" Hey Bri, we want pizza. What kind do you want?" Chris asked as he reached for the phone. Brian gave a heavy sigh and watched Chris's blue eyes gleaming with hunger and amusement as Matt continued to grumble about who had power over the remote.
" Bri?" Chris asked again with a laugh as Matt now attempted to grab for the phone. Brian blinked at his smile and chuckled at their buffoonery. Everything wasn't exactly completely back to normal but…it was getting there.
" Surprise me."
I want to thank all of those that reviewed, you all know how much I love it when you review hand out Undertaker shaped cake. Without you, I don't think I would bother to write.
I'm starting a new fic, it'll be posted on Monday.
Love you all!