He read, reread and reread it three times, his eyes scanning the page as if there was a secret message to be found. There wasn't and never will be. I lost the three most important people to me six long and painful years ago and Austin is the first to find out since then. I bit my lip harshly to keep from crying as I waited for the laughter and "pity party" speech but neither of those came either. Instead, I heard my notebook being set on the table next to him and I was lifted off the table, finding myself in his lap with his arms secured around my waist. He hugged me tightly and all it took was that one little action for me to bury my face in his chest and let out what I've held in for so long. I quietly sobbed into his shoulder, the only sounds being my quiet whimpers and sniffles.
Between getting an education, managing two jobs and fending for myself over the past 6 years, I was never given the opportunity to cry like this. Because I'm mute, no one has given me the chance to be a friend. No one has comforted me in six years which left a lot of shit locked up inside. Austin never said a word, he just held me and let me cry until I couldn't cry anymore and even then, he still didn't speak. He rubbed my back and waited until my quiet sobbing turned to strangled hiccups and strangled hiccups turned to shaky breathing. I scrambled off his lap and picked up my notebook.
"Thank you...I haven't felt that good in years. Thank you for caring, for listening and for being there when no one else was." He smiled softly and nodded, gently taking my hand.
"Come with me, there's something I want you to see." I nodded and put my notebook back in my bag, holding his hand and wiping my leftover tears with the free hand. We began walking somewhere but I kept my eyes on my feet, thinking to myself. My usually cold hand felt warm as it disappeared in Austin's. His grip was tighter than one would usually hold another's hand, but I didn't mind, I felt safe for once in a long time. His hand was massive compared to mine. I shrugged and walked closer to him, not really favoring the fact that it was late at night and there were no lights outside. He knocked on a door and I stood behind him as it opened, my shyness taking over. I didn't want to be seen if it wasn't necessary.
"Austin, where have you been? You've been gone for hours, man!" Someone exclaimed. I knew that voice...Tino? Are we at his tour bus? I peeked out from around Austin's side, looking up at the two of them.
"Isn't that the girl who stood up for the other fan?" Austin nodded and led me on the bus, allowing me to curl up on the couch against the arm rest.
"Alan, Aaron, Tino, Phil, meet Nevaeh. Nevaeh, meet the guys." I smiled softly and waved, fixing the bandanna around my head. I heard Austin explaining that I don't talk and not to ask about it as I winced and held my head.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly and I nodded, pointing to my eyes and forehead indicating that I had a headache from crying so much. He nodded and got me some aspirin from the 'kitchen' area, sitting beside me as I dry swallowed the tablets and he put his arm around me. It wasn't too late, maybe 9 pm, so I laid my head on his shoulder and watched Tino and Aaron battle it out on the Xbox playing Halo. A few hours passed, and we were currently watching Full House reruns, when my eyes started to droop and I became limp on Austin's shoulder, leaning into his side as I unintentionally fell asleep.
We were currently in the middle of watching Full House, it was Nevaeh's turn to pick the show to watch and that is what she requested, two bowls of popcorn and a few soda cans shared between us. Phil, Tino and Aaron sat on the floor, Alan on the couch to my right behind Aaron and Nevaeh to my left behind Phil. Around midnight, the guys decided to hit the bunks to rest up for our early set tomorrow, making comments about how Nevaeh and I were sitting so close. I rolled my eyes and looked down at her to offer her a ride home when I noticed she was already asleep, her head on my shoulder as her hands gently clutched my shirt. We've been sitting this way all night so I didn't notice any difference.
I smiled softly and picked her up, gently carrying her to my bunk and laying her down, careful not to wake her up. As I turned to head back to the couch to sleep, she gripped my shirt and gave me a tired pleading look, looking a bit weary too, as her eyes darted behind me and then back to my own. I sighed quietly and chewed on my lower lip, changing into a pair of sweatpants and crawling in beside her, automatically wrapping my arms around her waist. She curled into my side, writing the word "Night" on my stomach with her finger and quickly fell asleep again. I smiled softly and yawned, darkness taking over my senses. "Night, Angel."
I yawned and stretched, rolling over and cuddling with the pillow under my head. This bed seems a little more comfortable than I remember it being last night...my eyes fluttered open, after having the crust rubbed from them, and I looked around as I sat up. I was back at my apartment. I guess yesterday didn't happen, it was just a dream. I sighed and dragged myself out of bed and to the kitchen, pulling the sleeves of Brett's favorite over-sized Aeropostale sweater up to my elbows. I've had this sweater since I was around 10 years old; Brett got it when he was 14, but quickly grew out of it by the age of 15 because of his growth spurt which took him from 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet, 5 inches in the course of four months or so. He packed it away and I got it four years later since there was a nine year age difference and I was only six when he got it. He knew I loved it, so he gave it to me and I've had it ever since. It's always smelled like his favorite cologne and it's about five sizes too big so I use it as a night shirt, Brett being the first and last thing I think about in a day.
There was a knock on my door and I sighed to myself, going over to open it. Something isn't right though...it isn't mail day and I already paid the rent for this month, so who could it be this early in the morning? "I must be dreaming..." I thought as I stared wide eyed at Brett, Christine and little Adrian standing outside my door. They smiled and hugged me, causing tears to stream down my cheeks as I hugged back. They're real, I can feel them. They're hugging me and I'm hugging back, I'm physically touching them. It felt so good to see them again. To smell their scents, to feel their warmth, see their smiles and hear their voices. We spent the day talking and catching up, laughing and reminiscing. Adrian started falling asleep around 7:30 pm so they decided to take him to bed. I bid them goodnight, kissing their cheeks and hugging them before taking the trash out like I do every night. When I turned to head back inside, I screamed and fell to my knees, covering my mouth with my cloth-covered hands.
I wasn't in front of my apartment anymore, I was on base, watching Brett's house burn to the ground. It was like a train wreck: I know I shouldn't look, but I couldn't tear my eyes from the horrendous scene. I could feel the heat, I could smell the smoke and hear the crackling of the framework as it burned. My eyes kept opening and closing, trying to will away the torturous scene in front of me, I kept pinching and scratching and slapping myself but nothing worked, I couldn't get away. I was reliving the most horrific moment of my life and I couldn't stop it. For the second time in just a few hours, I watched my life come crumbling down in front of me as Brett's house turned to ash and flattened on the ground. My head throbbed, my ears rang and my heart beat wildly as I heard Brett desperately calling my name. It only got louder and more frequent, more desperate and hurt when I covered my ears and squeezed my eyes shut, getting louder and louder and louder until it all stopped and I went limp, blacking out again.