Through All the Dust
Chapter One: Tonight the World Dies
It was late December.
After spending Christmas as one, great-big Avenged family, we the girlfriends had decided to get away for a while. There were five of us, six if you include Mona. The boys had wrapped their tour and had immediately turned their focus to writing their next studio album. Brian was particularly excited about this one.
As for me, my career had rocketed. Justin and I had collaborated and effectively launched my solo career—my first independent record debuted at number one on the charts. We’d selected two singles from the album and they’d basically acted as a catalyst to stardom. It was jazzy and it was heavy—it had songs ranging from love ballads to hard-hitting serious pieces about the loss of my best friend.
Which, almost two years later, I was still reeling from.
Haven had tried to continue without me, and without Justin, and had made the poor choice to replace me with a male vocalist. I’d heard rumblings about an album set to be released but truthfully did not care.
Our little group had made the two and some hour drive to Santa Barbara on a Thursday. We’d rented out a house on the water, kept away from the prying eyes of the public and the paparazzi. The paparazzi had taken a serious interest in me as of late, and it had been a huge adjustment. It was the perfect excuse to get away.
Although I’d finally caved and bought myself a cell phone, I’d told Brian that it would be powered off for the duration of my trip. He didn’t care at all—he just smiled and told me to have a good time. Reminding me endlessly how much he loved me.
I was never too busy to be in constant awe of the man.
The boys stayed behind to write and we were determined to shake away our Christmas cheer with some serious R&R. Lauren and I had become incredibly close while our men were away; you might even go so far as to speculate about her becoming my best friend. Mona had, obviously, given into Justin’s charm and they’d recently picked out a sweet little house to move into together. In tow, we also brought Matt’s now-fiancée (he’d popped the question after six months of dating), Victoria, Zacky’s newest girlfriend Sarah, and Johnny’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Charlotte.
We’d had three glorious, uninterrupted days in California paradise.
“We need to do this every year,” Mona smiled happily, laying in the hottest rays of the sun in hopes of catching a tan.
“Agreed,” Lauren and I said together.
The three of us were practically inseparable. The others were still fairly new to our table and didn’t totally fit in yet. Though, Victoria was sincerely sweet and I held a little soft spot for her. The others didn’t seem to care much about us at all and typically spent their days together, avoiding us. But Johnny and Zacky had told me that we were to invite them—no excuses.
And so we did. It was the cutest little Avenged girlfriend trip anyone could have thought up.
And after the most perfect swim, and a perfect barbequed dinner, I retreated back to the house to have the perfect fucking nap. Mine and Brian’s life together had rapidly become hectic and so, napping had become like a luxury item. I was eager to get into it.
I’d fallen asleep pretty quickly, parallel to the slowly setting sun. I was so comfortable that you’d almost swear I could have slept until morning. But, for whatever inexplicable reason, just past nine, I shot awake.
The house was still and silent and for a quick moment it was all I could do to listen to the creaking of the structure. I can’t describe the strange peace that overcame me like a wave on the shore. But as quickly as it had come, it was gone.
I fell back into an awkward rest, unsure if I was actually awake or very vividly dreaming.
My phone began to ring.
“What the fuck,” I grumbled to myself, trying to remember when I’d even turned the damn thing on.
I flipped it open and held it to my ear tiredly.
“Hello?” I yawned.
“Blair,” Brian said in a tone I did not recognize.
I sat straight up.
“You—You need to come home,” he said flatly.
I wasn’t due to return for another three days—just in time for new year’s.
My heart was racing though and I could feel Brian’s from miles away, “Why? What’s wrong?”
My mind immediately jumped to his father or his brother—maybe even his sister. Something must have happened, something bad to have him call me with that tone.
“I can’t—” he tried but immediately stopped.
Was he crying?
“Brian,” I said insistently. “Brian, what is going on?”
“You need to come home,” he said again.
My eyes were wild and I was already stuffing my belongings into my bag, the phone stuffed between my shoulder and my face. Brian was still breathing frantically.
“Where are you?” I asked quickly. “Are you at home?”
I took a deep breath, unsure what it was exactly that I was prepping for, “I’m on my way.”
He hung up without a word and I knew right away that whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Brian had hardly ever, and I mean ever, in the nearly two years we’d been together, hung up without telling me that he loved me. His mind must have been somewhere else. I was really, really worried.
With my bag slung over my shoulder, I rallied my troops. I wasn’t sure what to tell them.
“I, uh, I have to go,” I said to the group, who was currently relaxing with a bottle of wine.
“Where?” Mona asked dumbly.
“Home,” I replied simply. “I have to go.”
“What?” she laughed. “Why?”
“I honestly don’t know what’s going on,” I said slowly. “But Brian called and I need to get home.”
“Is everything okay?” Lauren asked worriedly.
I shrugged dramatically, “I don’t know.”
“We’re coming,” Mona and Lauren said in unison before running down the hall to gather their belongings.
The others stared at me in confusion. I probably would have looked at me the same way if roles were reversed. But I didn’t have time to care about that now.
My friends were out within minutes and we were speeding off to get home to Huntington. The entire two and a half hour drive, all I wanted to do was to pull over and throw up. The anxiety of not knowing was fucking killing me. I knew it wasn’t good. I just wished I knew what it was.
Lauren took my car so I could go straight home and get to the bottom of things. I raced through my front door, calling for Brian without an answer. It almost gave me flashbacks to the many times I’d done this with Tyler—I shuddered at the memory.
“Bri—” I called but stopped when I found him.
He was curled up in our bed, laying in complete darkness. Complete silence. My heart was in my knees.
“Babe?” I asked softly, sitting next to him and putting a hand on his side.
He didn’t look at me—he wasn’t really looking at anything. His beautiful eyes, usually so full of energy and of life, were glazed. No one was home.
“Brian,” I tried again. “What’s going on?”
He blinked a couple times, looking at me and cringing. He shook his head.
“You’re really scaring me,” I said desperately. “What is going on?”
He reached out and brushed his hand gently against my face, pursing his lips at me. I was at a loss.
“Honey…” I tried again.
He finally spoke, “Jimmy.”
I could feel the room getting hazy. My heart was beating so loud that it echoed into my ears.
“What…about him?” I managed, terrified of the answer.
To have Brian down for the count, something bad had happened. Brian was an expert in the art of coping—but he was not coping. He was dwelling in the darkness.
“I can’t,” he said, his words welling up and catching in his throat.
He started to blink rapidly, holding back whatever it was that had a grip on him—whatever it was he didn’t want to put onto my shoulders.
“Brian,” I said, sternly this time, “What about Jimmy?”
Brian looked just passed me, as if desperate for a distraction. I understood before he’d even said anything—because I could see myself reflected in Brian. As soon as you said the words, it was real. He wasn’t ready for it to be real.
“Is he…okay?” I asked, trying to calm my heart rate.
He swallowed really hard before shaking his head, no.
“Brian,” I choked, emotions welling up in me now. “You tell me what happened. I swear to god, if you don’t tell me—”
And just like that, my beautiful and brave Brian broke. He fell the fuck apart.
“Brian,” I frowned, trying not to cry as I pulled him into my body and ran my fingers through his disheveled hair.
Brian sobbed into my chest, “He’s gone, Blair.”
My eyes began to wander, as they often do when something really terrible happens. As if you can look hard enough—deep enough—and see what it is you’ve lost. Like you can see an alternate version, lingering just outside your touch.
“What—What do you mean he’s…gone…” I struggled.
“We don’t know what happened,” Brian tried to explain, sitting up to look at me. “I don’t—I don’t know what the fuck happened.”
I was trying to understand but something about shock just doesn’t make it easy.
“He’s gone,” Brian said again, more steadily this time.
Jimmy’s fucking face plagued my brain and it was all I could see. His smile…his piercing blue eyes…that mischievous grin he’d adorn when he was up to no good. The guilt he’d show when he’d bring me into this realm of mischief.
He was the world’s most perfect human being.
I wasn’t ready.
“No,” I argued like I could change the reality if I tried hard enough.
Brian’s face faltered and steadied repeatedly as his mind washed over the billions of thoughts racing through his beautiful mind. In true Brian form, his priority here was to make me understand—to help me get into the thick of it.
He wasn’t ready but he needed me with him. Like I’d needed him when my world had flipped upside down.
He took one deep breath, locking his burdened eyes on mine, “Blair…Jimmy died tonight.”
“No,” I said again.
“He’s gone, baby,” he said and I could feel his heart shattering as if it were my own. “He’s gone.”
I'm sorry but it had to happen.
But I'm heartbroken over it.