Author's Note:

Well, I'll dedicate this one to Zhadum--for his words of inspiration, his beautiful memories, and the nurturing of my soul. I owe you one--Shawn. Thank you for listening, even when it wasn't worth the reply, when it wasn't worth the emptiness. I thank you for that persistence. You rose my spirits and kept me that much more sane for that other Shawn in my life. And maybe, just maybe, Paul and I will gettaway. Ha, thanks man. You rock. So as promised I wrote another chapter..Took me long enough I suppose.

Also to my little humble beginnings of a family---Paul and Shawny--love you both, more than you know.

And to my brothers, even those not yet with us. To Ross, Barrett, Jarred (t.p.), Josh, Brad, Wes, Holden and Luke...and to Leo. Blood is thicker than water boys, even if some can't remember.


For people under age 18:

"Evil laughter from beyond," is just a phrase employed by wicked people so they can mock you; don't be afraid. Leave.

For people over age 18:

"Evil laughter from beyond," is not just a phrase employed by wicked people so they can mock you; be afraid, be very afraid.

For people at age 18:

The animal with the longest gestation period is the Alpine black salamander, a viviparous amphibian, which bears two fully metamorphosed young after thirty-eight months. Makes you feel kind of proud, doesn't it?

With that said and done, I bring you Music to my Ears.

Chapter 4--When You Hurt

I stared back at Brian for a moment, as his eyes shifted against the tension in my face. I could feel my heart beat faster, my lungs inhale slower. My mind raced into the dust of a forgotten past. And yet, there we stood in the brightness of the kitchen, and I think all we could remember was the night prior and the closeness we'd shared.


There was a time in the night when the moon got caught behind that foggy mass of cloudy sky, and it had that warm, almost eerie, yellowish glow emanating from its craters. It seemed soft and palpable, broad and inviting, and that much closer to contact. That was when it was real. That was when I found the coveted time to think. As streams of perspective rush through my head, some burst from tangent to tangent and others settled into forgotten containers--consumed. I wandered, lost, through the tireless reflection as it bit and furrowed into my flesh. That's when I remember.

I spent the night watching as the moon glided, almost helplessly through the haze, and I let his thoughts escape through my pores without any real consideration. But deep down I felt a familiar heaving, a churning, a windy uproar. I sensed the white flag within me, and in a blink realized its stain.

I was raised to be a virtuous Christian. With each impending tick, I remember more, and with each looming tock the smell becomes more pungent--the noxious aroma of dried blood. I'd rather forget.

I was raised to stand tall. Funny how my mind took meticulous and careful precaution to shelter me endlessly from my destructive self. Funnier still how that act of protection left me naked to the world--naked and vulnerable.

I was raised to have pride. Sometimes when it's too quiet, when I can feel the intermittent buzzing of the shorting light bulbs as they vibrate into my bone, I'll let my guard down. Sometimes I'll remember how to smile.

I was raised to have compassion. I closed my eyes into the haze of forgotten dreams and then came the flashes of falling chairs, of bangs and of blood. It floods my vision and overwhelms my mind. Slowly I felt the rain inside me begin to cascade. Just slowly. I clutched the golden cross strung from my neck. Smudges, wiped clean. It won't be untarnished.

I was raised to enunciate. My feet shifted steadily against the worn beige carpeting. My hands fuss against the seams of my chair--at least they're strong. I heard the aggressive boom of incensed breath. I could taste the bitter vividness as my mouth filled with chalky saliva. I could taste it.

I was raised to fix the broken. I'd lived my lie and done his best to escape it. The day I stepped speculatively out from the engrossing shadows, was the day the light, without hesitation, seared my flesh. The shards of glass tore into my skin leaving the scars I now felt against my blistered palm.

I was raised to be a man. I don't think I'll ever know what it means to change, only to adapt to what's hurled at me. And I doesn't suppose I'll ever know what it means to be man, so I'll live around it. And the I wonder through the plight of my burden, why I was raised to tell the truth.

I suddenly felt a hand between my shoulder blades, gently easing my restless muscles. It plucked me instantly from my world of crumpled paper and buried demons.

"Scotty it's late. C'mon back to bed," the voice leaned in close to my ear and whispered empathetically. Within the syllables came a plea, a last gasp, and it drew me toward slumber.

I forced a smile to curl upon my chapped lips, coerced escape from his exasperated emotions, and left the window. I stepped away with my hand dragging on the chair's seam and with a labored breath crawling from my lungs.

I fell into a weathered, restless sleep. My eyes tightly clamped shut and my hands clenched the thin top sheet, stretching it in opposite directions. My knuckles faded to a milky white against the tension and agonizing pressure, and yet still I slept.

I saw the flashes, the crashes, the images of my previous self. No inviting smiles, no fresh baked cookies or board games, but a residence plagued by what was underneath a taut cover, the threads thinning by the second. I saw the coldness of a broken lamp against the linoleum and of a bloodied square corner of counter top. I saw my own visage in a far off corner. If I had the ability, I'd offer assistance, I'd offer his solace. But I was defenseless, a mere ghost of what was, and helpless again. I saw the brightness fade as a red glow surged into the room and enveloped all that came into it's path, almost like watered down red poster paint carelessly spilled into the expanse. I felt the hemorrhage as it took grip upon the crook of my neck. I couldn't shake the pressure.

I tried to make a sound, to at least offer explanation, but none arose. I coughed forcefully, and choked on the words. I choked at the thought. I tried to plead my case, but with each heavy and threatening gasp, less coherence was communicated. And the noise grew in the room, and the red thickened.

I heard the crashes of shattered glass and falling chairs. The shards like shrapnel in my flesh alleviated the hollow ache within me, or at least offered diversion. I head the red, the rage, the bellowing fury. I heard the words, the thoughts, the uncensored taunts. I felt my connection sever, my bones buckling beneath the torment. I did my best to cover my rampaging emotion, to regain my veneer. I couldn't let on to the hurt; I had to go back to that place. As I tried, I found I no longer belonged there. And not here. I scanned from side to side, my face being slapped in all directions. I fumbled for escape. I fumbled and found none.

There I lied beneath the tearing sheets with beads of sweat streaming against my dirty blond hair. I sensed the powerful dripping of blood down the side of my face and instinctively clawed at the drops hoping to scratch them away--to rid myself of the memory. I rubbed my skin raw, and let my hand fall, still clenched in an unbreakable talon toward the scar on my left temple. I recoiled impulsively and flinched at the pain. I startled as the throb of my own pumping heart set in around my bruised bones. I felt it blaze inside my rib cage, each bone cracking rhythmically. I felt dizziness and nausea overtake me as the red invaded my blurred vision. My visual perception slowly dissipated, but I felt insurmountable sensations as mt nerves constricted and were launched in all directions. I slumped into a corner, my face wincing toward a cold and forceful hand, and pressed my fists on the back of my neck--for protection.

I turned restlessly in the sheets, twisting them tightly about my clammy and salty skin, cutting my circulation--my heart beat harder, sending my body into a feverish panic. I recognizes everything. He remembered.

I felt the sickness of anxiety overwhelm my battered skeleton. I has no safety, no comfort and nowhere to turn. I felt a strong hand upon my tender shoulder, rousing and shaking me, never letting up. As the red became its boldest, the room began to spin and the blood barraged my sight. I tried to yell out, to remove myself, to bring an end. I reached a hand from my neck and tried to scrape away at the antagonistic forces that surrounded me--that caused it all.

My eyes shot open, blood shot and stinging, and I visualized not red but the soft flicker of the yellowed moonlight against the tired sheets. I tried to shake the hand from my shoulder, to bury the force that dictated my nightmares, as I was still lost in them. I became increasingly aware of my surroundings and my heart slowed to its natural rhythm. My thrashing limbs calmed and my hands released the haggard fabric. I turned my head and felt a second hand against my forehead, lightly brushing my damp and knotted hair away from my inspecting blue eyes. I heard a murmur escape the silence.

"Scotty, are you okay?" It was said slowly, almost completely muffled, but loud enough for the concern to be apparent.

I stared back, allowing my body to adjust to the calmness of the gently illuminated bedroom. I let the dampness in my hair soak through to my scalp, cooling my softly cooking mind. I tried to make sense of what I just saw, of what I blinked back and forth, but as I awakened, I forgot the passion. I forgot the heat and the pressure. I forgot the red.

I turned my head back and let my cheek rest against the edge of my wildly misplaced pillow and swallowed hard.

"Brian, what did I dream?" He coughed out hoarsely.

"I don't know. Try to rest."

I settled back against the sheets and watched as the light shimmered through the glassy surface of the window pane. I stared toward the brightened shadows as my exhausted person relaxed. I shifted my arm to protect and ease the form beside me and gently let my eyes drop. As I drifted into sleep, all I could recall of my dream was the promise of the next cloudy midnight against the yellowish glow of the moon.

I blinked back into the present moment, trying hopelessly to rid myself of the powerful memory. It still hurt, as it always would, I suppose.

I struck myself again with the daunting task of a simple question and yet "I don't know" still seemed like the most appropriate response, and yet not at all what Brian or anyone else in that room was in the market for. I thought to conjure up some crazy other reply, but thought again that maybe I should just stay true to form. That form being to plainly leave them with the disappointment of being vague. I guess that much would have to do.

I took one step, cautiously with one foot in front of the next, and walked from that room. I felt a brick of burden lift from my shoulders as I stepped underneath the warm cascading stream of the shower. I just let my troubles escape from my skin, through my pores, and as I looked down at the shiny porcelain, I watched as they snaked down the drain. I watched as they disappeared from sight.

I picked up the soap and a sponge and began to scrub at my flesh. I watched as my tanned skin turned to a reddish, irritated hue, as I tried desperately to wash the sadness away, to scrub myself clean. As I tried to forget, my breath collected heavily within in me and I let out a labored sigh from deep within. I knew it then. I was tired.

Before I could make sense of my emotion I tasted the salty tears as they fell from my eyes. I felt so alone in the world. And cold. I was scared. Just scared.

I don't remember turning off the water, drying myself or even covering up, but there I stood in the doorframe of the steamy bathroom, as the tears still flowed from my exhausted person.

I walked to my room, the light softly illuminating a masculine form facing toward the small window above my cluttered desk. I walked to that form and lifted my arms to his shoulders, gripping him in my person. I held him. In a swift movement he stood wrapping his arms around me. He protected me as I cried. He laid with me under the sheets as I cried. He smoothed my hair and rubbed my back as I cried.

He took the fear from within me, as I cried.

I looked up at him after who knows how long, but he seemed concerned, not exhausted, but deeply willing. I do believe he would have sat there and held me. Held me as long as I needed to. As long as I needed to cry.

My lips parted slightly as if an invitation came to pass between us. He leaned down and placed his upon mine as our kiss was filled with passion. Not lust, but contentment. It was warm and sensual. It was love. I continued to let the tears flow.

"Brian, I, um...I, my cancer's back. That's why the doctor called before. I have to go in for tests. The treatments won't be pretty..." I felt his hand against mine, squeezing harder, his eyes never leaving the gaze of mine.

I lifted my arms to surround him. I held him. In a swift movement I had him against me, my arms wrapped around him. I protected him as he cried. I laid with him under the sheets as he cried. I smoothed his hair and rubbed his back as he cried. I held him as long as he needed me to. As long as he needed to cry.

To Be Continued...

Well, there you have it folks. Um...yeah it took me forever, and yeah the next one probably will to. Thanks for reading.

Keep it Safe

And Mulder...I love you, Shawn