After my dreaming
I woke with this fear
What am I leaving
When I’m done here?
So if you’re asking me
I want you to know
When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some
Reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest
Don’t be afraid
I’ve taken my beating
I’ve shared what I’ve made
I’m strong on the surface
Not all the way through
I’ve never been perfect
But neither have you
So if you’re asking me
I want you to know
Leave Out All The Rest – Linkin Park
Dwelling too much on the craziness of the past twenty four hours is making my head spin. I’m trying to keep myself together as I prop up a wall and watch my fiancée wearing a path in the waiting room floor. Waiting just adds to the head games and Kate’s brain is obviously working overtime as she vents her spleen in random outbursts to no one in particular.
“They’re married? Married? How long?” She has been on a loop for hours. “And Ana, what the hell was she thinking? On what planet was going it alone with Jack Hyde going to be a smart idea?” Any moment she will stop in the middle of the space, arms thrown wide, and glare at me as if I have an answer. I didn’t have one yesterday, I didn’t have one three hours ago. I wish she would give it a fucking rest!
Before she can build up another head of steam, I make another half-hearted attempt to pull her down from orbit. It’s like stalking an angry lioness. Do I go for the element of surprise or keep my movements slow and steady? I’m pretty sure I’m fucked either way. Sure enough, as I go to wrap her up in my arms she pushes back from me angrily. “Don’t touch me, Elliot. Just don’t touch me.”
“Jesus, Kate, what the hell have I done wrong?” Pointless statement. This isn’t about me. One thing I have learned in these past few months of living with her is that Kate on a tirade is seldom rational. For the life of me I don’t get why I find this so sexy. I have to be careful not to laugh ‘cos she will come at me with claws out. Why does that sound hot? I wonder if there’s a quiet supply cupboard I can whip her off to? Down boy, she catches sight of you and we’ll be walking funny for a month. Timing is everything.
“You know what you have done wrong.” Her hands are up in front of her chest. I stand my ground and cross my arms over my body. I’m going for patient but this is bordering on insane. Are you seriously gonna risk it?
“No, I seriously don’t know, so why don’t you enlighten me Kate?” The words are out before I can pull them back. Her eyes widen for a moment and I am certain I am about to lose a nutsack then she frowns.
“You…you…oopf!” Fucking cute and sexy! Don’t laugh. For fuck’s sake, Grey, don’t you dare laugh.
“Well, that’s articulate,” I murmur. Stopping mid-stride I feel the weight of her glare – oh shit! – and then we are back to pacing again. At that moment Ethan comes out from Mia’s room. Kate turns toward him and I get ready to intervene.
“How is she?” Oh, so you’ll rant and rave at me but you’re all gentle and calm with him.
“She’s still feeling the effects of the drug but she is okay. I think they’re letting her out this evening.” Running a hand through his hair, he looks absolutely shattered. He catches my eye, looking at me for some reassurance and as much as I like him I’m still a little pissed at the bomb he dropped on Kate yesterday. “Elliot, I appreciate you not saying anything to your parents about me and Mia.” Not sure if I am keeping my trap shut for you or Mia, my friend, so don’t get too excited.
“Listen, buddy. I haven’t said anything because it isn’t my place and quite frankly I think you need to face their wrath by yourselves. That doesn’t mean that I am happy about any of this and you need to work out pretty damn fast when you’re both gonna give a full explanation.” He nods grimly before heading off down the corridor in search of coffee. Kate is staring at me, hands on hips, looking particularly grim. “What?”
“You’re just going to let him get away with that? No explanation?”
“He’s your brother, you ask him.” I shrug and that is enough to have her all up in my face thumping her pointy digit in my chest.
“They. Are. Married.”
I grab hold of her finger and point mine at her chest. “I. Know.”
“Well…Don’t you care that your little sister shacked up with a man that she hardly knows and didn’t bother to tell you?”
“You are being unreasonable because you’re upset and worried but this shit has to stop.” She turns her back on me in a huff. I place my hands carefully on her shoulders. She needs to know that I get this, I really do…but I’m not going to stay in the firing line. “Babe, the last I checked, they are both consenting adults and think about it. And how much shacking up have you seen them do in the past few weeks.”
She starts foot tapping? Seriously? Foot tapping?
“Look, Mia married your brother and I’m fairly sure that makes him okay in my book since he happens to be related to the woman I love. Yes, I am pissed at them for not telling us but for whatever reason, they chose to keep it a secret from everyone and we have to respect their decision. They will tell us when they are good and ready. Now drop it Kate, you are not going to win.”
“God, Elliot. What is it with your family and secrets?” She looks up into my face and for once seems to see that I am deadly serious about this. Frowning at the ground, she pouts,”I’m still pissed.”
“I know, baby. But Ethan didn’t put Mia in hospital. So if you’re going to get pissed you need to be pissed at that fucker, Hyde.” I notice Ethan has returned and is standing in the doorway to the waiting room looking very sheepish. Luckily Kate hasn’t seen him but if that guilty look means what I think it does then I will kill the little bastard. He gives me a pleading look then turns to go back to Mia’s room. To his credit, he hasn’t left her since I got the nursing staff to let him in there yesterday but I hope like hell that he isn’t hanging around out of guilt.
3am Previous morning.
Christian shuffles into the waiting area looking like a zombie. He carries that same haunted and lost look that Ana had the night of the Charlie Tango incident. Kate is up and out of her seat instantly.
“She stirred again briefly. Dad is sitting with her for a while.”
Kate walks over to him and places her hands on either side of his face, leaning her forehead against his. I watch for a moment as she comforts him, both of them crying, before I have to turn away. As I stand looking out the window into the night sky, I surreptitiously wipe a little moisture from my own eyes.
“She’s strong, Christian. She loves you so much. She will fight to come back.”
“I’m not sure it matters, Kate. She was leaving me anyway.” He sounds so hurt and desperate.
“No. I don’t believe that for a second. She was protecting the family. She was trying to save Mia. That has to be the reason why she did it. There is just no way that she would leave you willingly.” To hear Kate speak, you would never guess this was the same person who was so vehement about not trusting Christian a few months ago.
“I fucked up so badly. Even if she is fine now, she won’t forgive me for what I did.” I turn to face him as he says this. Jesus fucking Christ!
“You went to see Elena, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?” Without thinking I am across the floor, pushing Kate aside as I grab him by the collar. “You bastard.” I pull my right arm back and let fly punching him across the jaw. Although there is a satisfactory snapping back of his head, it’s never the same as in the movies. To his credit, he doesn’t make a move to defend himself or retaliate. Instead he straightens up and stares into my eyes. Meanwhile I’m shaking my hand out, trying to ascertain if I’ve broken my knuckles. I watch the play of remorse across his face and I can’t keep going. I don’t even want to look at him anymore. Shoving him backwards in disgust, I turn back to the window. I can feel Kate’s eyes drilling holes in the back of my head and then her hand is on my shoulder.
“Babe, I’m going to go look for Grace. You guys need to talk.” Placing my hand over hers I turn my head to look into her eyes. She is right. This is the conversation I have been dreading but it has to happen. When I turn to face him, Christian is sitting down, his head in his hands, nursing his sore face. Kate slides her hand down my arm finally bringing my raw knuckles to her face for a kiss. “No more fighting.” I run my hands through her hair then let her go.
Taking a moment to gather my thoughts and build up a little courage I take in the sight of my baby brother. Regardless of all the shit surrounding his life and the crap he has put me and Mia through over the years, I love him. For a long time, I thought he had become a sorry replacement for Christopher, the little brother I lost, but he isn’t. He’s my friend and keeping all of this from him is doing neither of us any good any more. I stare at the floor, concentrating on breathing.
“She got to me too.” Christian rubs his hands over his face and peers up at me obviously unsure of what I am saying. I lean back against the wall looking at him. “The year before she got to you, Elena had me.”
His body stills. “Fuck.” You said it little brother.
“Our affair only lasted a few months. I guess I wasn’t what she was looking for and I was kind of disgusted with what she wanted from me.” His head is back in his hands. It seems he can’t look me in the eye. “At least I was legal.”
Abruptly he is on his feet, body poised for a fight. I push away from the wall. If this is going to happen again then I want to be ready. I surprised him before but I have no doubt that with all that training he gets from Bastille, he would have me on the floor and screaming for my mother in less than ten seconds.
“You need to know that I have known about her, about what she is into and what she did to you… with you… for a long time. Think about it, bro, I worked at Sirens for years, I knew about your membership at Orpheus.” The color drains from his face as it twists into such an intense look of self-loathing.
“Did you know everything? Did you know about the subs?” I see Jason hovering in the corridor and I know that I can’t say everything. I won’t compromise Jason and Gail.
“No, not really, but I suspected that you either hadn’t given up Elena or you hadn’t given up the lifestyle.”
“All those years you gave me shit about being gay.”
“Yeah, well it seemed preferable to telling Mom you were fucking her best friend.” Once more he is bodily on the offensive and Jason goes to step into the room. I put my hand up and signal to him to wait. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“So you’ve been disgusted with me for years. You hid it well. Is that what all the humor at my expense was about?” God, his voice is like ice, his eyes are so cold. That look has always intimidated me. Shit, who am I kidding. It always scared the crap out of me.
“No. Christian, I might have hated her but I don’t judge you at all.”
“But I was into the same shit as her. Why didn’t you hate me?”
“Are you a pedophile? Do you fuck other men’s wives?” He glares.
“Elena doesn’t fuck married men.” I stare him down. Telling him about Dad would be wrong. But he needs to know what an evil troll Elena really is.
“Are you sure about that?” I see the uncertainty there. Hopefully he gets that I might know a bit more about the bitch than he does.
“You know what I am… the things I have done. How can you not be disgusted by that?”
“Hell, I’ve seen and tried enough kink over the years to know that there is more to BDSM than most people know. Jesus, you don’t become an exotic dancer in a sex club without there being a few things that you see and learn. But you knew that didn’t you?” I am not going to mention the installation of the red room. I refuse to discuss the Harvard incident. But Sirens and Elena are neutral territory here. I just want that fucking bitch out of our lives once and for all.
“The dancing? Yeah. I know that was how you got the money to bail me out. I guess I never wanted to know much more, although I used to watch you whenever we came to the club.” Now it’s my turn to be surprised. “You were really good at it. I figured it was something that you enjoyed. I never wanted you to give it up because of anyone in the family finding out.”
“Mia knew. I am not sure she understood what it meant but she had to know my performance schedule for those nights when she needed to call me.” He nods and that intense look of remorse washes across his face.
“Yeah, I knew.” Mia’s husky whisper echoes in the space. Barefoot and in a hospital gown she is leaning heavily on Ethan as they walk through to where we are.
“What are you doing out of bed?” Christian asks as he stands. I move over and take her other arm, carefully supporting her.
“I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been sleeping enough and I heard you guys talking.” The rasping is followed up with a coughing fit. Christian moves quickly to bring her water from the cooler. She takes a sip then hands the cup back. “Thanks. Now, I’d like you both to meet my husband?”
Christian and I glance at each other silently taking dibs as to gets to grill them first. I wait but Christian doesn’t make a move to talk. So I start.
“How long have you two…?” I am trying to keep my voice level but I’m still a little pissed at her not telling us. Then I think of all the things I still haven’t told Christian. That I won’t tell him. Maybe not knowing this one secret is okay. Christian’s silence through all of this is unnerving. Normally he would be the first to jump down Ethan’s throat about secret weddings and Mia’s safety. I wonder why he is being so quiet.
“Does it matter?” A look passes between my brother and sister before Christian raises his eyebrow as he glances back at me again. Then it hits me. He knew. The fucker knew. Jesus, I was practically living in the same apartment with her and he damn well knew before me.
“Fuck. And you knew?” I turn to Christian.
“Hey, I only found out a few weeks ago. I swear.” A few weeks ago. So they were married before Christian and Ana?
“But that means that you… Oh Christ, how did I not know this?”
“I don’t want to go into detail but Ethan and I have known each other for years. Look Elliot, we have a lot to tell you but not right now and the less Mom and Dad know the better.” She looks a little worried about what I might do.
“You scared, baby girl?”
“Yeah, but not for the reason you might think. You are just going to have to trust us. There will be a right time but now isn’t it.” Her voice is soft like she’s placating a child. She may as well be, given how stupid I feel for not knowing. Mia and Ethan keep their eyes on me, looking for my agreement. Eventually I nod.
“Okay, Coco, but there better be a damn good reason for all this cloak and dagger stuff.” She steps into my arms and rests her head on my shoulder.
“Trust me, Lelliot, there is.” I look over her shoulder at Ethan.
“And you. You’re doing a piss poor job of looking after her.” Harsh and unfair but I need to bite at someone. I know that today isn’t her fault. Or his.
“If I could have kept her safe today, I would have. I want you to know that.” To his credit, Ethan looks sick. He’s taking it hard.
“Elliot. I can’t explain any more than this. Today, I put myself in Jack Hyde’s path deliberately, against the Ethan’s wishes. I can’t tell you any more than that so please don’t ask. He tried to stop me. He loves me.”
“Fuck Mia. This better be a fucking amazing explanation when the time comes.”
Christian steps towards us, wrapping his arms around Mia’s waist from behind as I continue to hold her against my chest. “I’m pretty sure we will all be amazed but right now our girl needs to get back to bed.”
For a moment we stand there holding each other. Mia murmurs into my chest, “I love you guys.” I plant a kiss on her forehead before passing her over to Christian who does the same. Ethan steps in to take her hand and guide her back to her room.
After she has gone Christian turns to me, “One day soon, you and I are going to talk about everything. No more bullshit. Right now I need to get back to my wife and you need to take Kate home and get some sleep.”
Now it is getting on for five in the afternoon. Ana still hasn’t come out of the coma but Mia is being discharged and that is about to cause another bun fight. Mom wants her home where she can monitor her while Ethan doesn’t want to let her out of his sight. Mia has point blank refused to go back to Bellevue.
“Grace, perhaps Mia should stay out at the treehouse with us so you can spend time here with Christian and Ana. We will take good care of her I promise, and we will call you if there are any problems.” Kate, who has had to take my word for the fact that Mia and Ethan have good reasons for not telling us more about their marriage, is trying to placate my mother.
“What about security? You can’t keep her safe out there. I want her surrounded by the security detail that Christian has in place.” Dad sounds a little desperate himself. I wonder how he deals with wanting to fiercely protect someone who can’t stand to be near him[V2] .
“Dad, we’ve still got a security team there too. Plus we have Zeus on patrol all the time. The immediate threat is lying somewhere in this hospital under police guard so I think Mia is going to be alright.” Finally they give in, realizing that Mia is going to get her way on this regardless of what they want.
My main concern is getting Mia out of Elena’s way. She has called several times to check Mia’s progress, being blocked each time by the enforced instructions at the nursing station. Christian has put in place a strictly no visitors policy until Ana wakes up. This has had the follow on effect of stopping Elena from visiting Mia and running into Mom.
Once Mia and Ethan are settled into their room Kate and I join Jen, Jake and Karen for a meal in the kitchen. It seems that since Kate and I have been together, they have spent more time out at the treehouse than ever before which suits me fine. In fact, we have broached the topic of them moving here on a more permanent basis which they are considering carefully. It will mean moving Jake’s school but it seems that living with Jen’s mom is placing a strain on their relationship.
“Babe, I am supposed to be giving that seminar tomorrow at the design conference. I think I better cancel.” Kate has me booked up for months with these presentations and this is going to mean traveling up and down the coast over the next few weeks. Right now, with everything that has happened I am not sure I have it in me. And I really just want to be here for her and for Mia and Christian.
“Honey, you can’t cancel. Not at this stage. Listen, Mia will be fine here with Jen and Karen and Ethan. I will go in to the hospital and you can join me there when you’ve finished.” This would be fine but my nerves get the better of me when she is not around. I would prefer she was there with me. When I get nervous I lose my way through the notes.
“I don’t know, Kate. They will understand and…”
“No! Look, I will come with you and then we can go to the hospital.” I don’t understand why she just won’t let me cancel. These things happen. People have family emergencies every day.
“Which reminds me, I need to get that paper finished for the Australian journal tonight.” And by I, I mean we, since Kate edits everything I write so that it actually makes sense.
“You know I am learning more about architectural engineering and eco-design than I ever wanted to know, don’t you?”
“Yep, and when I can talk you into leaving the magazine and working with me full time I will be able to churn this stuff out a lot quicker and get it in front of a much wider audience.” Since I started doing the conference circuit I’ve become something of a zealot. Kate suggested that writing papers for journals and magazines would help me to hone my thinking and she is right. It has had the added advantage of wising me up on the most current research. James is looking at a whole new marketing strategy around my talks and we have had interest in our methods from all over the world. Somehow I have to just make all of this work around Christian’s house renovations but I am actually looking forward to getting onto a site again.
“Well, maybe that just might happen. I had a talk with your Dad about Mattie while we were at the hospital too. He is going to look into it for us.”
Ethan comes out to the kitchen as we are talking. He takes the dinner plates from Mia’s tray and begins to place them in the dishwasher. The guy looks so forlorn. Kate gives a shrug of her head towards the kitchen indicating that whatever is on his mind might be a guy thing before she hustles Jake and the girls off to watch tv. I start taking our dinner plates out to the kitchen.
“You okay dude?” Scraping the plate in my hand I give it a quick rinse before passing it to him to put in the machine.
“If I said, yes, would you believe me?” Ethan is always so together. The quiet observer. It always struck me as odd that he was so calm and zen-like compared to Kate’s hot-headedness.
“You know she is okay. She will get over this.”
“Yeah. I just…” He’s holding a glass tightly in his hand. “I want to kill that fucker.” The glass shatters from the pressure but he barely notices.
“Jesus, Ethan. Here.” I turn the tap on and shove his hand under the water before grabbing a broom to clear away the debris. When I turn back to him he is staring at his hand almost horrified.
“He threatened to rape her. He was going to fucking rape her and then rape and kill Ana.” I almost expect to see him cry. That would have been my reaction. Instead he simply looks harsh, like an avenging angel. For a moment I am shit scared that he really means to go back to the hospital and take Hyde out.
“Ethan, you have to leave this to the cops. They know what they are doing.” I go to the cupboard and bring out a first aid kit. He barely notices.
“Fucking morons! Every last one of them.” Once more he shocks me. I thought that Clarke and his team were doing a reasonable job of the follow up and they were certainly right on the scene with Christian when the girls were found. “She could have been raped and it all would have been for fucking nothing.”
I have no idea what the hell he is talking about and all I can do is watch as he shuts off the water, wrapping his hand in a towel before picking up the kit and heading out of the room. Yep, this explanation of theirs better be fucking amazing cos I sure feel like I am missing something here.