This is the final chapter of "Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves".  You can now make a choice as to how true that title is in relation to this story.  It may be a lie.  It may be true.  It may be half-way to each.  You decide.

The quote at the end of this chapter is from a move called "The Crow" which also contains many other meaningful lines.

I want to give you all a huge thanks for reading so far, with special thanks to all who reviewed.  You are very special people and my love and thanks to all of you.  I am not lying when I say that without your support, Casey and Seth would never have got this far.  If you are reading and haven't reviewed so far, I would be grateful if you could drop a line now just to tell me your views on the story as a whole.  Unlike paid authors, I can't tell how many people read this by how much I earn from it *grin*

This story was a big journey for me as a person and dealt with lots of things that have been on my mind for a long time.  Now it's finished, I have a terrible sense of completion.  It's worth it, though.

Again – if you have any more to say, please e-mail me at   It means a lot to me.

I will post another story (on this account) as soon as I get inspired to write one.  This may be tomorrow.  Considering how drained this story has left me, it may also be several weeks.  I am entering NaNoWriMo over November, so that may well be a very empty month.  At present, the only place that you can read my (slash) writing is here: .  I'd be grateful if you read and reviewed.

So thank you again for reading this.  It's been great.   Blessed Be and love to you all.

***

"It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh and run up the steps of omnibuses."

- Virginia Woolf

***

Casey died before his nineteenth birthday.  It was six months before my twentieth, and I was forced to grow up.  I learnt what losing your only love is like.  I learnt how to truly cry.  And above all I learnt how to survive, despite a broken heart: how to carry on for the sake of one who had been lost along the way.

Casey wouldn't want me to die.

Life did go on, just as I was constantly assured that it would.  It wasn't the same, but it was continuous and offered some respite from the inner pain that near tore me in two.  I did listen to Casey's CD the day after the funeral: and it broke my heart again to hear all his favourite songs, each of them with some special meaning.  I imagined him burning the CD, carefully choosing each track, smiling as he thought of me listening.  I found his quote and locked it away, so that even if I never lost it, I would never have to see it again either, never more have to face the tears.  I got the picture from Josh and did the same with it.

I did go to University.  I lived on-campus, in a room of my own.  Casey was never out of my mind.  All music I heard was his to dance to, and I always expected to hear his precious voice again.  My nights were filled only with tears, as I realized time after time that he should never lie in my arms again, and no more would my waking sight be his face, most beautiful of all.

Two months into my University stay, I very seriously considered committing suicide.  I lined up dozens of bottles of prescription pills, wondered how many I would have to take, wondered if it would be painful or if I would just fall to sleep.

I never found out.  That night, Josh called, almost as if he knew what I was thinking.  We only talked for a few minutes – at that time I was only beginning to be able to bear his company – and afterwards I stared at the pills for a whole night.  The next morning I packed them away.

Time heals even the deepest of wounds, or at least allows them to hurt little enough to be borne.  Eventually I got my degree in medicine and went my own way in the world, and I was able to put Casey to the back of my mind.  Lana got married to Peter, and I was able to smile and congratulate them before returning to my own flat, empty but for me, and cry for the boy who should be there.

It was about that time that I started to wear my engagement ring again.  It was more beautiful than I remembered: a perfectly worked band of silver engraved with a Celtic knot design, and on the inside was inscribed: "I love you" so those words rested against my skin always.

Eventually I managed to let Casey go, slightly: allowed him to drift to the back of my mind.  Where once I had believed I could never feel for another again, I now got a girlfriend.  I played at being young again.  I never went out with another boy.  That would be replacing Casey.  My bed was warmed by a female body, and it was pleasant enough – but it was only sex, and I never made love.  That was reserved for Casey – and I still loved him.  I still thought of him.  My dreams were still haunted with his smile.  Relationship after relationship broke up as girlfriends realized there was a hole in me that they could not fill, as they found out the meaning of the ring – not a sad reminder of an event they could help me heal after, but as a continuing promise of where my loyalties lay.

I stayed in contact with Josh.  He never forgave himself, and now, with hindsight, I realized how much kinder I should have been.  It was never his fault, and in some ways, he suffered more than me.

'Now is the only time we have for sure,' Casey had said.  He was right.

In the year that Lana had her first child, I got my first full-time job as a children's doctor.  I was twenty-five, a doting godfather to little Cadence (who looked nothing like her uncle, a fact I am strangely grateful for), and the world was open to me again.  I was successful.  I made money.

Life continued in much the same way for four more years.  A decade after the most painful event of my life, I still loved Casey.  I never forgot all the things he had said about how he viewed death.  Somehow, they made me feel better.

I always regretted how much time I had wasted while I had Casey there: how long I had denied my emotions because I was afraid.  My regret still hurts me now.

Eventually I met a woman who was different from the rest.  Rachel was a psychologist, and I had met her at a conference where we were discussing a badly abused child who I had healed physically while she was healing mentally.  By the time I was thirty-one we had lived together for two years – my longest relationship ever – and we were very close.  It was only me who wasn't letting us become any more so.  Whenever she touched me, memories of Casey's fingers flitted along the same path, bringing tears to my eyes.  For some reason, being with Rachel made me love Casey all the more.

I was thirty-one when I took my next blow.  I had just arrived home from work one autumn night.  I was tired, distressed by another child abuse case I had operated on that day, and worse, that day was the 15th of September: the twelve-year anniversary of Casey's death.  Rachel knew this.  I had told her all about Casey and, incredibly – a mark of how wonderful a woman she was – she didn't mind that my thoughts stayed with him.  I had even told her that his memory was what kept us apart.  She accepted this in her calm, soothing way.

This night it was Rachel who handed me the phone as soon as I got home.  She hugged me tight as she did so, and her eyes apologized silently for the extra pain I was about to receive.

That phone call changed my life.

Josh had committed suicide.  Within five minutes of the exact anniversary of Casey's death, he had called his present lover (a male model, my mind remembered dreamily, pointlessly), said goodbye, and then had driven off a bridge.  He had succumbed to the grief which he had stopped my teenage self from falling before, all those years ago in University.  Over a decade on, guilt had killed him – and I had done nothing to help him.

I hung up the phone, put it down, and with it put aside my own guilt and remorse at my beloved Casey's death.  Understanding flooded me.

He would want me to live and love.  He would hate for me to do that.

Wordlessly I went to the desk and drew out a clear plastic file, containing an old piece of paper.  I sat back down on the bed, and took it out.

Josh gave me three things: friendship, support in the face of great pain, and this drawing, the very one that Casey had told me of.  Josh was an artist, and I am convinced that this sketch – I still have it now – is the most powerful he had ever drawn.  I unfolded it, looking at the people depicted there, and cried.

Drawn on that paper, with all feelings apparent, is a memory of the most perfect time in my life.  It shows me and Casey, just holding each other.  He's saying something and I'm laughing.  Every graphite line screams love.

It was while I was looking at that picture, more powerful than any photo, that I realized Casey, that gorgeous, alive boy in the picture, would hate what I was doing then.  He would want me to live my life, to allow myself to love Rachel, to have the children I had always dreamed of.  He would want me to live my life while I still had it.  It took Josh's suicide to open my eyes to the truth.

That night I made love to Rachel.  And for the first time I didn't miss Casey, because suddenly I knew that ever since his death he had been in me, with me, still loving me.  He had become a part of me.  And he wanted me to be happy.

I married Rachel, wearing my wedding ring to her beside Casey's engagement ring.  I framed the picture which had bought on my understanding of how Casey had never left me.  I don't know, now, why I ever thought I'd lost him.  His smile, his kisses, his spirit – they're all a part of me.  The better part of me.

And, as Casey would want me to, I had the children I had always wanted: two boys and two girls.  And when I held my firstborn in my arms, heart pounding with pride and savage joy, I could feel Casey there, smiling at me, congratulating me, placing the lightest of kisses on my lips in praise.

I am old now.  I have learnt much.  And I have been doubly blessed, for in my life I have had two true loves.  I can't explain it.  Casey was my love who could never be.  Had he lived I am sure we would have lived together all our lives.  We would have made a commitment.  We would have made love again.  I would have woken up to see his beauty first of all each day.  My love for him is as pure as my love for Rachel, and as everlasting.

But he didn't.  And Casey could never have grown old.  He was youth.  He was too alive, too wonderful, too good for the world to hold him.  Such lights as he flare bright, but not forever.

Rachel is my second love, equally true.  She is alive.  She is with me.  If Casey was alive, I wouldn't love her.  But he isn't, and I do.

Casey does as well, I believe.  He's happy for me.  He's with me.  He's in me.

I don't pretend to understand how I can have two true loves.  But I do.  One among the dead, and one among the living.  And who am I to question love?

***

The proudest moment of my life as a father so far was when my eldest son brought home another boy, and without any hesitation or shame, introduced him as 'Blaise, my boyfriend'.

I wish I had possessed the courage of my son when it mattered most.  I wish I had admitted my love for Casey sooner, and so have had him for longer.

Maybe the reason we have children is so they can correct our mistakes.  Maybe the reason Casey never wanted any was because deep down, some subconscious part of him knew his mistakes weren't that bad, in

The end.

***

A man, perhaps forty-five or fifty years of age, and lined with time, is lying on a double bed.  It is midnight, and he smiles in his sleep.  His wife is out at a friend's for the night.  He is not alone, however.  Beside him on the bed lies a shadow of a memory, a shade summoned up by love: a teenage boy, beauty captured and made eternal by death.  He is awake, staring at the man he loves, smiling tenderly.  He has never been away.  He has supported this man through everything: been there through the coming of wife and children, always approving.  Above all else he has always wanted his fiancé to be happy.  And now he is.  Both of them are.

Casey leans forward to kiss his lover with ethereal lips.  'I love you, Sethie,' he whispers, spirit-voice tinged with the beating of angel wings.

The man's smile widens in sleep.  'I love you, Casey.'

The angel breathes out blissfully, glowing with the love he feels now, with the love he feels being returned.  Finally he opens his mouth again, and recites the quote he left for his lover once, long ago:

'I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history.  I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts – that hope always triumphs over experience – that laughter is the only cure for grief.  And I believe that love is stronger than death.'

THERE IS NO END