"Who is it?" Emma finally called out, her soft voice unable to disturb the quiet having fallen on the house.
"It's me." He knew that she would be able to tell just by the familiar downcast tone of his voice that something was wrong like she always did. He was relieved that the lock turned and slowly the door opened.
"Are you alright?" She asked, looking up at him with tired eyes. She was tying the sash of her robe at her waist almost absentmindedly.
"Am I ever?" He pushed his hand back through his hair and moved past her into the bedroom.
Her room smelled like lilac and fresh water. It was always so comforting in her room, it was temporary of course seeing as she had her own house. Lately though she had been staying in the house ever since all this had started to happen. No one had asked her to but Emma had insisted to try and keep things in order.
"Shannon..." She began, her voice wavering but when he looked up at her she held her words back.
"Emma look I know what you're going to say... You're going to tell me that whatever I want to do, that telling Jared isn't the right thing to do. I know." He nodded and sat down on the edge of the bed with a loose breath of exhaustion.
Emma left the door, letting it quietly click shut and went to sit next to him. "You can't, we both can't." She rested her elbows on her knees, hanging her head in her hands with a sigh.
Shannon looked at her knowing that everything that was going on was exhausting her. He knew that the world was hanging heavily on her and his problems was just adding to it. But who else was he supposed to tell? What else was he supposed to do when their secret was nearly tearing his world apart? He was reaching his breaking point.
Finally she looked up at him again, ready it seemed to listen after her slight expression of deepening emotions. "What happened downstairs?" She asked, pushing her hair behind her ear.
"He doesn't believe us." He stated simply, heavily.
"Well of course he doesn't Shannon. Your excuses are ridiculous! An affair?!"
"Well what the hell else was I supposed to say? That she just..."
Emma held up her hand with panic, shooting her eyes back to the door as if she was afraid someone would be eavesdropping. "Will you shut up? Don't say anything."
He nodded and looked away. "Sorry..." He stood up then, deciding that sitting her pouring out their problems together wasn't exactly the strong thing to do. Burdening her with everything wasn't what he should do. He was a man after all and she was so weak lately dealing with everything. What had he been thinking?
Emma stood up and lightly touched her hand to his arm. "Don't be. I get it, I do. Don't you think that everything is crashing down around me too? But we have to do this, we have to carry it...for his sake. He'll get through this, we just have to hang on a little while longer. If he finds out now...." She stopped, the words darkly hanging on her lips before she met his eyes again. "...everything will fall apart."
"I know." He took hold of her hand and gave it a soft press before letting it fall from his grasp. "Thank you." Slowly he began to make his way to the door, needing to only get the hell out of this house. He needed to breathe again, he needed to get freedom from the darkness that betrayed the former way they all used to live.
"We have to get him out of the house, just once. Someone on the outside needs to know that he's okay out there." Her worry pressured the tone in her voice as she stood there, folding her arms across her chest with a weak vulnerability.
"I don't think that'll be that easy." He rubbed at his forehead letting a million attempts run through his head at how they were going to do that but none of them seemed to be possible.
She nodded, lowered her head and let out a shaky breath. He could see that there were tears falling from her eyes, her shoulders were lightly shaking and her hands weakly clutched at the arms of her robe. He felt helpless simply standing there, wanting nothing more than to ease all the sorrow hanging around them but all he could do was think about himself, think about his own world. He was stunned when she raised her eyes to him, a plea in them calling him to her. He walked to her and gently pressed her into his arms. She let out a breath against him finally letting out a cry as his arms tightened around her waist. He smoothed her hair letting her tears soak up the front of his shirt. It took a moment but she finally calmed and lifted her eyes up to meet his.
"That was ridiculous." She said with a breath of a laugh.
He shook his head without a word, lifting his hand and gently wiping the trail of tears her crying had left. "No it wasn't." He whispered, cupping her face gently in his hand.
Harshly she swallowed as she felt him move down closer to her. Her hand was pressed lightly against his chest and a couple more tears slid down her cheeks. "Shannon don't..." She whispered.
He let go of her, carefully moving her from him. "Wasn't doing anything." He muttered before he walked off towards the door again. He heard her call out his name but he didn't look back, he couldn't. What the hell had come over him? What kind of idiot was he? He and Emma had never had that sort of relationship. He had never even seen her that way before. He closed her door behind him, resting his head back against the white painted wood and sighed. It was everything breaking apart around them, it was the dark secret that refused to seperate them or relieve them. They were forced together and their darkness bound them so closely that boundaries were blurred. He needed to get a hold of himself and just allow himself to breathe.
Jared threw his bedroom door shut, letting it slam with nonchalance. He was getting angry, not only was the cut on his hand nagging on him but the thought that his own brother was lying to him was pissing him off. Throwing himself down on the bed he tried not to think of anything at all except perhaps a turn around. He could do with a change, with a new direction whereas now he had no direction going at all. He could get back to work, go out somewhere, become his old self again but the idea terrified him. He couldn't bear to go outside, feel the cool breeze, the rays of light with all this darkness terrorizing him inside. The thought that when he was out somewhere in public and one of those episodes came upon him was enough to scare away the thought. It was bad enough having Audrey see it let alone someone else, or even a group of people.
Audrey. Her name sounded like poison suddenly as he thought of it. He could only remember those seductive words she had thrown his way before having left. They had struck something inside of him. Usually he would have gone with it, said a little something to keep the words coming but now the very sound of what she had said confused him. Something was going on and it had everything to do with that song she had played on the keyboards. That song and both Shannon and Emma. There were lies going on and he wasn't sure when he was going to be allowed in on the truth.
Shannon. He had been in his room.
He lifted himself off the bed and looked towards the closet, remembering when he had walked in to find him messing around in his stuff. Jared had put everything back inside but he knew which boxes had been out and opened. He opened the closet door, taking down the couple of boxes Shannon had been looking through and knelt down before them.
Inside one was just a whole bunch of crap Jared hadn't gotten rid of. The second one was barely even open yet, must have been the one Shannon had yet to look through. He ripped apart the tape, opened the cardboard flaps and looked inside.
All it was was clothes. A whole box of clothes. Women's clothes. A gentle scent rose up from them, a delicate one that wrapped around him and managed to ease his senses. There were silks inside, lace, and on top of all of it was a folded handkerchief with something obviously inside of it.
Carefully Jared reached out and took it up into his palm, unfolding the delicate layers. Inside was a simply locket without a chain. On the gold front was an engraved image of a rose. He opened it gently but before he looked down at what was kept inside a sharp and all too familiar pain shot through his head. He fell back, his hands pressing against his head. The pressure came worse, the tears burned in his eyes. It wracked through his body, causing him to tremble. It was worse this time, a dark swirl of unconsciousness was beginning to rise over him. Gasps escaped his lips where he intended on crying out for help. Something warm leaked down his arms and when he managed to pull them away from his head he saw smears of blood on his skin. A scream broke through him, ripping out of him without relief. He heard his name being called as somewhere far away the door flew open. His eyes closed, the strain tightened and everything around him disappeared. He was out cold, the night capturing him with sorrow.