Through All the Dust
Chapter Eleven: I Need You to Know
Time moved us forward, as it does all things. Further from Jimmy, further from the life we’d grew to be so comfortable within. But as time pushed on, so did we. We’d established a sort of new normalcy…even if the void left by Jimmy was readily apparent.
Brian had been working nonstop on a super-secret song. All he’d really told me about it was that it had originally started as something else, and now it had shifted to reflect Jimmy’s death.
Whatever it was, it seemed to be helping him to heal—so I was all for it.
I was flipping through bridal magazines that Lauren had dropped off; she’d told me I wasn’t acting “bridey” enough. There was nothing even remotely appealing on any of the pages I’d skimmed, but it was something to do.
It was a decent afternoon. I had my feet up, wine in one hand and bridal gowns in another. It was nice to have a day to myself to enjoy the relaxing and calm vibes of my home.
Until Brian stomped his way down the stairs and tossed a CD onto my coffee table.
I tried to ignore him but he sighed so dramatically that it demanded my attention.
“Yes?” I sung, flipping the page of my magazine.
“That’s hideous,” Brian said—I’d assumed he meant the dress on the page.
I nodded, “It is, yes.”
He sighed again.
“What’s up, Brian?” I smirked subtly.
He slid the CD closer to my foot, staring at me whilst he did so. I rolled my eyes, tossing the magazine to my side and setting my glass of wine down.
“I’m frustrated,” he said to me.
He groaned loudly, “Because I’m not M Shadows, that’s why.”
“Right,” I laughed. “You’re Synyster Gates.”
“Yeah, and Synyster Gates is not a song-writer,” he pouted. “Or a vocalist. I can’t get this right.”
“Would you like me to take a listen?” I asked knowingly.
He grinned, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. What a nice offer, Blair. I would appreciate that, thank you.”
I shook my head at him, at least his sense of humor had restored itself.
“Put it in,” I smiled.
He picked up the disc and carried himself to our stereo, “That’s what she said.”
He disappeared for a second as the sung began right away. Powerful guitar chords leading into a melodic rhythm. It had my full attention.
Brian came back and tossed a piece of paper into my lap, then paused the music.
“It starts right away,” he told me.
I narrowed my eyes at him, “I don’t work like that. You’re going to have to hum it to me at the very least.”
He rolled his eyes, pulling the paper back from my grip. He cleared his throat and hit play.
“Never feared for anything,” he sang so quietly I could hardly hear him.
I closed my eyes, removing my temptation to mesmerize myself with Brian’s being and focus solely on his voice—solely on the words. The melody. The meaning.
He paused it just as the bridge seemed to pick up.
“It’s beautiful, Bri,” I said softly, feeling a little like crying. “Why’d you stop it?”
He sighed, “Because this is where I can’t get the notes I want. You’re basically me, so…”
“Kay,” I nodded once. “Play it.”
He hit the play button and sat himself beside me, staring me down as the remainder of the song played.
“There will be a focus on the drums here,” he told me.
I shushed him.
“Okay,” I said once the song had finished. “Go away.”
He smirked, “What?”
“Go away,” I said again. “I need to listen to it a couple more times.”
He understood. Dropping the piece of paper in my lap as he passed me, he headed out back. I must have listened to his guitar chords six or seven times in succession. Each time, the desire to break apart grew. His words were beautiful—it was difficult to read his pain. I could feel his heartache.
There was a certain suffering dictated through his lyrics—and all I wanted to do was to take it away.
After listening one final time, I ran upstairs and grabbed his favorite acoustic guitar. Then, I grabbed my cigarettes and headed outside to join my soon-to-be husband.
I thrust his guitar at him.
He took it but asked what it was for.
“It’s easier this way,” I said simply. “I don’t want to work on your song with your recording—I want to work on it with you.”
He just smiled.
“One, two,” I counted him in.
He strummed those beautiful chords.
“Never feared for anything,” I sung slowly. “Never chained but never free.”
Brian slapped his hand against the strings, staring at me intently. I couldn’t quite place his expression.
“Wrong?” I asked nervously. “I can move up an octave—”
He shook his head, swallowing really hard, “It just kind of hit me.”
I looked around, “What did?”
“How much I love you,” he said seriously. “I—I just….Just sing it like you were. It’s perfect.”
“Okay, weirdo,” I smirked.
He started again, and so did I. My hands shook as I sang along to Brian’s words; I wasn’t typically nervous about singing anything in front of anyone. This, though, was different.
This was Brian’s heart and soul in my hands. I had to treat it with utmost respect. This had to be the best performance I’d ever given—especially because it was only for Brian.
He moved into the bridge, a look of pure concentration scribbled across his pained face. I could almost hear Jimmy drumming along as Brian broke into the most heartfelt and sincere solo I’d ever heard. It was enough to make me choke back an ocean of tears.
I took a deep, solid breath, “I love you, you were ready…”
Brian stared up at me as I moved into a high note, my throat trying to rupture as I cried for our fallen friend.
“So far away,” I sang out. “And I need you to, need you to know…”
He pulled the lament to a close and we fell into a silence—and I fell apart.
I took deep breaths to steady my hands, Brian reached out and took my hands, giving me an encouraging—but broken—smile.
“I couldn’t have imagined it any more perfectly,” he said seriously.
I nodded solemnly, “Good.”
“Now you have to do it again,” he smirked. “So that Matt can try, and fail, to match your brilliance.”
“I’m going to need a minute,” I laughed, wiping at the edges of my eyes. “And a cigarette.”
Brian handed one to me immediately and lit it for me too.
“Jimmy would have loved this,” I told Brian quietly, skimming the words over once more. “It’s…” I hesitated. “I don’t have the words.”
Brian smiled a little, “It’s alright for my first song?”
“Bri, it’s beautiful,” I encouraged. “It’s a hit. I guarantee it.”
My phone vibrated in my pocket. I tried to ignore it at first but Brian gave me the strangest look—I’d assumed that meant stop that thing from ringing already.
“Sorry,” I grumbled, pulling it out and reading the display. “It’s Gabe.”
Gabe was my new Austin—I shouldn’t say new. He’d been with me since about two months after I’d left Haven in my dust. He was maybe the best manager on the planet. He was cool and patient and wonderful. I loved him—and his boyfriend too.
Brian just shrugged, pulling my cigarette out from between my fingers and placing it between his lips.
“What’s up, Gabriel?” I said into the phone, silently scolding Brian for taking away my nicotine.
“Are you sitting down?” he asked me seriously.
My heart stopped for a second.
I was cursed. I knew I was cursed. Ever since I was a kid, bad shit followed me around like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe. My chest readied itself for more trauma—and I pretty well made peace with the fact that I’d die young from all the stress.
“I’m sitting,” I said flatly.
Brian furrowed his brows at me, instinctively handing my cigarette back to me.
“Blair,” he breathed out slowly. “You’ve been nominated for a Grammy. We just got the call.”
And then my heart actually stopped.
“Did I say a Grammy?” Gabe continued excitedly. “Three Grammys, Blair. Three.”
I couldn’t find the words.
“What?” Brian mouthed at me anxiously.
“Wha—” I tried but stopped.
Gabriel jeered, “Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album.”
I tried to speak again but could not.
“Are you a gold mine or what?” Gabe laughed happily. “Babe, you did it! How fucking happy are you right now?”
“I—” still nothing.
My throat had obviously given out.
“Call me after you’ve finished your celebration sex with that sexy man of yours,” he giggled into the phone. “Congratulations!”
He hung up—I sat there for a second, the phone still held to my ear.
As a vocalist in a metal band, I’d pretty well come to terms with the fact that I’d never hear those words uttered to me. I guess part of me was still considering myself to be that same singer—because it had never occurred to me that it was now a possibility.
And apparently I’d achieved it without even knowing I’d been considered.
Finally I flipped my phone close, blinking at Brian, my jaw still ajar.
“What?” he demanded this time. “You’re freaking me out. What’s happening?”
I blinked away the shock, excitement running through my veins like electricity.
“Bri,” I managed. “I got…I got nominated for a Grammy.”
“What?” he choked a laugh. “Are you serious?”
I nodded excitedly, “Three of them. Brian….”
My legs started to jitter with excitement. Brian leapt out of his chair and tackled me into a hug—we tipped backwards in my chair and landed on the ground with a loud thud. I didn’t care.
“We have to celebrate,” Brian grinned from ear to ear as he rolled off of me.
I smiled, “I can’t believe—”
“I can,” Brian interrupted quickly. “I’m so fucking proud of you.”
“Call the guys,” I giggled. “We have to go out.”
“Hold on,” Brian insisted, pulling me back to the ground as I tried to get up. “Just, relax for a second.”
“Why?” I asked stupidly.
He smiled, “Enjoy the moment.”
I looked at him strangely.
“Enjoy it,” Brian smiled, pulling me into him. “Because you fucking earned it.”