Shannon couldn't bear to watch, the sounds were enough to summon up the memories that had refused to release him. He just stood there, his head lowered, pain echoing through him too fiercely. He hadn't expected this. Hadn't expected to be near Jared when it was revealed. He hadn't expected it to be revealed at all. Sure he had thought several times of letting it all out, confessing to what he and Emma had done but being faced with it now made him realize why he had never had enough strength to do it.
Emma watched. Her eyes had widened with what seemed like shock, her arms were folded across her chest. She had been there. She had been the one to urge it to happen and yet seeing it now, her lack of hesitation, the terrible violence. It was too much. It hadn't seemed so vicious when it had happened, it had seemed necessary, inevitable. She was trying to save what everyone had slaved for for so long. But looking back on it, it was murder, through and through.
Soon enough the DVD ended, Shannon having remembered the camera before they had taken Hannah's body out of the studio. Audrey closed the laptop, her eyes welling with tears before she wiped at them. Her entire face was full of anger, it was stiffened, laced through with the need for closure. She turned her eyes to Jared, her heart breaking as she watched him fall apart there.
"Now do you get it?" She whispered, her hands delicate on her waist.
He shook his head as he met her eyes. Everything around him felt faded. He was lost in a haze and dizzy with the effects. "Who are you?"
Gently she tossed her hair back over her shoulder and walked over to him. Emma tried to get in her way but Shannon harshly held her still. Audrey knelt down before Jared and stared him straight in the eyes.
"Who am I?" She questioned, her tears pearling on her lashes and falling to the ground beneath her.
He couldn't look away from the gaze boring into him. She was more alive in this single, wrenching moment than he had ever seen her be before. She was waiting for his answer, wanting to know what it was he knew. Had he really pieced together the parts? Had he found the answer he had been searching for?
"You're Hannah..." He replied, finding in her eyes the delicacy he still had a hard time remembering. Had Audrey always been this way when he had first met her? Had she always seemed so familiar?
"They did it, Jared. They did it."
Jared lowered his head, shading his eyes as he nodded. "I know. I know....They did." He cried, his voice wavering and thick with tears.
He could see it replay in his head over and over. The sound of Hannah's screams, the way Shannon had heeded Emma's words, how he had plunged the knife so deep into her back. She had called out for him. She had needed him but he hadn't been there. What would have happened had he been able to help her? Why had he tried to kill himself? Why had he been so selfish?
"Why can't I remember everything?" He looked back into Audrey's eyes.
She reached out and took hold of his arm, unrolling the bandages to show him the scars on his wrist, on his forearm. "You slipped into a coma, blood loss. Too much. They had to clean things up before they took you to the hospital. You nearly died to protect them."
Harshly he swallowed. Certainly Shannon wouldn't have let him die. But he had killed him in a way. He had ripped away his whole life from him, leaving him with empty fragments and an empty mind.
"Audrey is Audrey....she doesn't matter. She has nothing at all to do with this, with you, with me." She glanced down at her body and then back into Jared's eyes. "Everything has to change. Things have to be avenged."
"What are you talking about?" Jared's brows knitted together and his jaw clenched.
"What they did, they have to die for it. The way they killed me, the way they killed you." She reached out and lightly stroked his face.
Jared tore his eyes from her and looked behind at Shannon and Emma. They stood frozen listening to what was happening. Emma was afraid, her eyes were wide and unsure. Shannon merely met his brother's gaze, his eyes a tormented piece of the man he had become. Now Jared understood the changes. Now he knew why they were acting like they held a part of each other that no one else did.
"I can't." He whispered, finally looking back to her. He saw suddenly the softness of his love for Hannah, brief glimpses of how it had felt for her to be in his arms. He felt the gentleness of her kiss, not at all the fevered ones of Audrey- or this Hannah that was hell bent on rage and revenge. He could see it gleaming in her eyes, it was all that would put her at rest.
Jared pulled himself up, shakily. He crossed the few inches that separated him and Shannon. "Where did you put her?"
"Jared please, none of this matters. You have to understand why we did it. It was for you." Emma reached her hand out and lightly touched at his arm but he flinched away.
"I can show you...." Shannon said as he let Emma's arm go. He turned to the door and slowly left, leading the way.
Jared walked slowly behind Shannon, the weight of his sorrow erupting fully inside of him. He was scared, he could tell by the way his hands shook in front of him. He could barely feel anything though. The numb the truth left him with was scarring. He wasn't sure how he was going to live after this and the thought of even carrying on was excruciating.
Shannon climbed the stairs slowly not having enough strength to look down at Jared who he could hear following behind him. His heart was racing so quickly he could barely catch a breath. He could feel himself getting weaker. He wasn't ready to see Jared's reaction. He wasn't prepared to see how he would look at him once he showed him. He had thought so many times of letting the truth out, of releasing the burden of what he had done. But never had he spent a thought on what would happen with Jared. What if Jared found out? Of course that meant he would be free from the confusion and the blurred and painful memories. There was never a thought however as to what would happen between himself and Jared. That irreplaceable bond that would forever be severed. It feared him now as it dawned in all its tormented glory. He would never get his brother back.
They stopped in the hallway and Shannon lifted his eyes to the ceiling.
"Why are we stopping?" Jared asked, his voice strained and shaky.
Shannon let out a breath, the very sound of his weak voice grinding in his mind. He reached his hand out and pulled down the ladder that led to the attic. He climbed the unsteady steps and made his way into the cold area. Jared climbed up as well and when Shannon offered him a hand of help Jared simply brushed it aside and lifted himself on up. Shannon felt a pain course through him at the slight but he brushed it off and walked the length of the nearly empty attic.
Jared looked around, knowing he had sent several boxes up here that were filled with God knows what, he couldn't even remember. He dragged his eyes to where Shannon was standing. The shadows seemed to hole up where Shannon was, festering there with a darkness. Jared forced himself there, his breath trembling. He tried to hide the shakiness of his hands by stuffing them into his pockets but he couldn't fool himself out of his fear.
Shannon made a small gesture towards a shadowed chest that he stood by before he stepped backwards. Jared glanced down at the chest, his heart stopping as he looked down at it. It looked grim, unreal, covered in a death like dark that Jared seemed to be stuck in. He moved slowly, reaching out just as hesitantly. He unsnapped the lock and forced it open.
The smell was stifled by a white bag that was zipped up and yet it still permeated up to his senses. He could taste it in the back of his throat, the feeling tightening with sickness at his core. He took hold of the zipper with his fingers and pulled it down. He stumbled away with a gasp, the sight of her laying there imprinting itself in his mind.
Her beautiful face was drained, the color faded and gray. Her eyes were closed and her skin was stained with months old blood. The wound on the side of her head was visible through the strands of her hair. He didn't dare unzip the bag any further, not wanting to see the knife wound that had went through to her stomach.
He was paralyzed standing there, his eyes taking in the features he had long forgotten. She was indeed the woman in the locket, she was the Hannah he had loved. How could he have forgotten? Why couldn't he remember even now? The burn of tears lacerated his eyes as his jaw tightened. He couldn't move, he didn't want to move. Shannon and Emma had inflicted the wounds on her but he had been her death. He felt the sole blame infiltrate his soul, rape it of its remaining strength. If he hadn't cut his own wrists, bled out into weakness he would have been able to help her. If he had been able to just forgive her none of this would have happened.
"This whole time..." He whispered, his voice dry and coarse. It was almost unfeeling as he looked down into her beautifully dead face. "...this whole time she was here? Living here like a ghost?" He reached his hand up to touch at his temple. He thought of all the tormented dreams he had, of all the times he had seen her face, all that pain he had been inflicted with just so she could try to make him remember.
"Jared..." Shannon braved saying his name, his gaze finally going to his brother.
Jared held up his hand stiffly. "Don't." He said harshly before turning away from the chest, from Hannah.
He tried to walk straight and away from her. He tried to leave with some sort of strength but it started at the center of his soul and worked its way numbly throughout his body. He felt his legs give out first and he fell to his knees. His already weakened body could no longer hold himself up. The images pierced through his head, wrecking him with agony. Tears fell from his eyes, blood filled his mouth from where he had tried to clench his mouth shut and not cry. Death overtook him. The smell of it, the taste of it, the sight of it.
She had been there the whole time. Waiting for him. Wanting him to remember. And he hadn't known. He hadn't listened. He hadn't remembered. He hadn't been there for her just like before.