Through All the Dust
Chapter Fifty: The Things That Were
I was in a nest. I’d built it myself and it was a good nest. It was warm and comfortable and it sucked me right in.
“Blair,” Brian chirped. “Get off the couch and come and help me.”
I nuzzled deeper into my nest, a content smile on my face as I closed my eyes and lulled myself into relaxation.
“Blair!” he chimed again, louder this time.
With a peek through one slit of my eye, I found Brian towering over me with his hands on his hips. He couldn’t hide his amusement, despite his demanding that I climb out of my retreat.
“Can’t,” I told him sleepily. “It would appear that I am nested.”
“You’re not a bird, Blair.”
I opened one eye fully, to make sure Brian knew that I was serious, “I’ll have you know that my mother allegedly used to call me Blair Bird. So…Fuck you, Brian.”
He laughed, “Whatever you say, Blair Bear.”
“Oh, gross,” I whined, burrowing deeper into my blanket fort. “Don’t call me that. You’re not my real dad.”
Brian shook his head at me, grinning like a son of a bitch, “Need I remind you that this party is for you? The least you can do is come and help me set up for it.”
I freed only an arm from my plush prison so that I could wiggle a finger at mistaken man, “No, no, no. This party is for you and Matt…and me. But only under duress. I never agreed to help with any aspect of this dumb party. This is all you, Bri.”
“You win two Grammys and suddenly you think you’re too good for manual labor,” Brian teased.
“I’ve always thought I was too good for manual labor,” I smirked. “The Grammys change nothing.”
He groaned but conceded defeat. He disappeared into the kitchen, clanking and thudding around loudly. I pushed myself further into the nest to drown out Brian’s insistent noise-making. It didn’t really work; he was loud as fuck.
“Hey!” I called to him. “Could we keep it down? You’re scaring the bird!”
“You’re not a fucking bird!” he laughed back at me.
My plan backfired. Brian was back and he was more adamant than ever. He was pulling at my wall, threatening to topple the nest to bits.
“Dude,” I warned him lowly, a threatening gleam in my weary eyes.
“You know,” he sighed, watching me intently. “If Jimmy were here, you’d be all over the decorations.”
“Nah,” I waved at him.
He nodded, “Literally any party we’ve ever attended…or thrown…you and Jimmy take over.”
“It’s your turn then,” I smiled. “It’s only fair.”
“Blair,” he growled, giving my fort one solid tug and sending me flying to the floor.
I looked up at him slowly from my new position on the hardwood. The smart man ran for it. The impact, as subtle as it was, sent a sharp pain through my bionic leg. Brian hated when I called it that; but it had metal in it. I was practically a cyborg now.
Having decided that I was now effectively awake, I walked slowly after Brian—making sure he took notice when I grabbed for my pain killers and filled a small glass of water. He rolled his eyes.
“No way did that hurt,” he told me like he knew.
“It did,” I informed him. “But thank you for trying to tell me how I feel.”
“Sensitive today,” he noted squeakily before slipping out the back door.
The truth was that I’d been sensitive for days. Since the Grammy awards. Don’t get me wrong, it was basically a dream come true…the after party was great, everyone was in high spirits. But the whole thing had been tainted for me by the lack of my friends in attendance. I was really fucking missing my partners in crime—but if Tyler hadn’t died, I never would have had a solo career. Which means I never would have been nominated…And if Jimmy hadn’t died, well…I’d probably have better hits ready to be released.
That’s not funny. I was sad.
I’d been trying to fill in the void with music instead of longing, but it hadn’t been going well. My album was finished for all intents and purposes, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was leaving something out. Like there was something else I needed to write and I would soon miss my deadline. But the producers were happy, which made my label happy…So why wasn’t I?
I downed a couple pills and grabbed my cigarette pack from the counter. Brian was already well into his as he walked slowly around the edge of the pool, tossing giant floating candles into the water. My leg hurt. I sat, dangling my feet off the edge beneath the surface.
“Now you’re in my path,” Brian objected.
I nodded, “Forever.”
“Why are you witty today?” he smirked. “I thought you were back to being all dead inside and shit.”
“Did you finish your song?” he asked me curiously. “Is that why you’re in a better mood?”
“Of course I didn’t finish my fucking song,” I grumbled, kicking my feet to make tiny splashes. “I can’t write anything anymore.”
“Yes, you can,” Brian half-groaned.
I caught the tone and I didn’t like it. I snapped my eyes over to him, but he was suspiciously innocent to look at. We’d been together for so long that I knew what Brian’s tones meant—and I knew him well enough to know that they were always well placed and never without motive.
“Care to explain the grunt?” I dared him.
He smirked at me, “I didn’t grunt.”
“You had a tone,” I insisted.
“You just piss me off sometimes,” he shrugged like he hadn’t just blurted out some form of fight catalyst.
I mulled that over for a few seconds, taking my time to light my cigarette and gather a lung full of nicotine and cancer. Was I in the mood to deal with broody, moody Brian?
“What the fuck does that mean?”
He grinned at me, “Nothing.”
“Oh, for Christ sake, Brian,” I whined. “Cut the broody shit and just tell me what you mean.”
“You just think you can’t do anything without Jimmy,” he told me candidly. “It’s annoying.”
I furrowed my brows at him, retorting quickly, “You think I won’t do anything without Jimmy. It’s not about me not being able to do something.”
“Maybe it’s both,” Brian grunted—and actually grunted this time.
“What’s with the mood?” I asked seriously. “Where’s this coming from?”
“You’re just…different,” he replied with a heavy sigh.
I nodded, “So are you.”
“I guess,” he lamented, tossing the last flower thing into the pool and taking a seat next to me.
He didn’t seem to notice he was wearing jeans until his legs were in the water and it was too late. He mumbled to himself something about bullshit.
“Everything was easier with Jimmy,” I told my almost husband. “I felt…full.”
“I know,” he huffed.
“So did you,” I noted, sensing some weird jealousy vibe ruminating off of Brian.
His dark eyes found mine and he hesitated briefly before speaking, “Lauren told me something weird the other day…and I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring it up to you. Or…if I should even bring it up to you at all.”
“What’d she say?” I asked curiously.
“I don’t want to upset you,” he told me slowly. “You’ve been doing really well lately, I think…And…I’m just being selfish, I think. You know what? Just forget it.”
I laughed a little at his vagueness. I loved it when Brian would talk himself through his own thoughts—it was always amusing. But I was interesting and I was curious.
“What did she say?” I asked again.
He looked at me strangely, “She told me that Jimmy kissed you.”
I bit at my lip, feeling strange about hearing it said back to me. It was strange when it happened, but I’d buried it so far in my mind that I’d nearly forgotten about it. You know, until I had to sing the song that had inspired the gesture.
“Which time?” I smirked.
“Blair,” Brian cooed, only slightly amused.
I took a deep puff of my cigarette, “He did, yeah.”
“Um…” I was doing the math in my head. “I don’t know, a while ago. I was still working on my first album. Solo, not with Haven. Though, he did kiss me then too…Maybe it’s just a trend he was starting.”
“Blair,” Brian laughed. “Stop talking.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked slowly.
My shoulders shrugged, “It wasn’t really important, I guess…It didn’t mean anything.”
“Everything means something,” Brian noted.
“Okay, Buddha,” I teased, leaning on him. “I meant it didn’t mean…It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t like we were going to start some affair or anything. It was just…sweet. I didn’t see the point in telling you.”
“Which means Jimmy asked you not to,” Brian laughed knowingly.
I nodded again.
“That fucking guy,” he grumbled, shaking his head a little and taking a breath of his cigarette.
“Should I have told you?” I asked quickly. “I should have told you.”
He shook his head, “No…It’s okay. I’m not mad—I guess I’m just confused.”
“Fuck,” he snickered. “That’s a loaded question. We’ll start with why you ended up with me and not him, and then we’ll move onto why he felt the need to kiss you twice, and we’ll end on why he’d ask you not to tell me but he’d go ahead and tell Lauren. That fucking guy.”
He had some valid questions—none of which I knew the real answers to. Other than the primary question, and arguably the most important. The rest was semantics; they were questions we could only theorize about the answers to…but we’d never really know. I would have been the one to find out the truth, but now it was too late.
“Why did I end up with you and not Jimmy,” I said breathily. “Well, for starters, I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. I didn’t have that love at first sight shit with Jim. Not even close.”
“You didn’t love me when you saw me,” Brian argued with a distinct grin.
I nodded, “I’m certain that I did. I can still remember it so clearly…I remember everything you said to me, and how you said it, and the way I felt when you said it…If that isn’t love—”
“You don’t remember when you met Jimmy?”
I paused, feeling trapped in my own sentiment, “I do…But it’s different. I loved Jimmy…a lot. But I was never in love with him. I never looked at him and thought ‘this is the man I should be with’. The only person I’ve ever thought that about was you.”
“You guys clicked better than we do,” Brian argued with me.
I wasn’t totally sure what he was trying to accomplish.
“No we didn’t,” I half-laughed. “You and I have been inseparable since we met.”
He shook his head, “Not true. You and Jimmy, however—”
“Brian,” I snapped. “What are you trying to do? Hm?”
His eyes got glazy as he turned away from me, shaking his head just a little.
“I don’t know,” he finally said, almost in a whisper. “I just miss him.”
“Honey,” I sighed. “I know…and so do I. But…trying to alter the way you look at the past isn’t going to do anything but fuck up our future.”
He smirked, daring to glance at me, “How poetic.”
“Fuck that,” I laughed. “I’m serious. You know Jimmy and I were just friends. It was different than what we have, sure. But it was never anything more than platonic. Ever.”
“You’ve just been such a wreck since he died,” Brian said absently. “I was starting to think I wasn’t enough to make you happy.”
This devastated me. My heart literally snapped into two. I reached out and grabbed at Brian’s chin, turning his face so he had to look at me. I got my serious voice out.
“Brian, you listen to me,” I told him. “I fucking love you. There is no one in this world that I have ever, or will ever, love more than I love you right this very second. You are the only reason that I’m still breathing—I’m not exaggerating and I’m not being dramatic. It’s the truth. You are my reason for living and the only thing worth getting out of bed for.”
Brian smiled at me.
“Stop being weird now,” I told him before letting his face go. “And stop confusing your grief with jealousy. You didn’t care when he was alive and you shouldn’t care when he’s dead.”
Brian used to think it was hilarious how intimate Jimmy and I were. He used to joke about it all the time, making a drinking game out of ‘are Blair and Jimmy touching’. Everyone was smashed within minutes of that game. It’s just how we were—we were connected by the soul, for reasons unbeknownst to either of us. But Brian had always just thought it was great that I loved Jimmy as much as he loved Jimmy.
Death is strange, though. Grief manipulates the way you look at your life, and the people within it. It changes everything. I should know; I’d been through it enough times.
“Who wouldn’t be jealous?” Brian beamed a little. “My best friend knew you in ways I’ll never know. I was jealous back then, it was just in a different way.”
“I’m not going to apologize for what I had with Jimmy,” I told Brian carefully. “Please don’t ask me to.”
He shook his head, “I’m not. I’m sorry I even brought it up.”
“If you want to know me like Jimmy did,” I grinned deviously. “Here’s what you’ll need.”
He looked at me weirdly.
“An eight ball of coke, a forty of whiskey, and some good fucking music.”
He laughed, “We’re not doing a bunch of coke.”
I tilted my head forward just a little as I watched Brian mull through the idea. Soon enough, he was grinning back at me.
“I’ll make a call,” he laughed, climbing to his feet.
It was going to be a party after all.
I made a mental note to ask Lauren why the fuck she told Brian about my and Jimmy’s little moment. While I was sure it was some stupid reason, I was pissed. Pregnant or not, she was going to hear about it.