A.N.: The epilogue, the end of Trey's and Nash's story. It's a little different of what I had in my mind when I started the story, thanks to something mousegirl05 said, so if you are not satisfied with the end complain to her. :)
Thank you all of you for keeping me company and also kudos for your reviews than not only gave me motivation, but also pointers, which helped me to write this story better than I would on my own.
A big thanks to the wonderful, wonderful diluain for beta'ing. All the remaining mistakes are mine.
Caught in revenge, IX. Chapter
Trey held tightly to the heavy bag as he walked through the hallway of the terminal. He could feel Nash's shadow looming over him; its presence at his back calmed the tremors in his hands as he scrutinized the crowd waiting for the passengers.
His eyes spotted a small brown-haired lady with her arm wrapped around a gray-haired man, both staring in his direction. Their eyes caught and the lady hesitantly lifted her hand and waved.
Trey's step slowed down. Were they really his parents? They looked so old, worn out. When had that happened? He frowned. The last time he had seen them was when they collected Patty's urn from the crematorium and held the mass for her, and even though it had been just three months ago, no matter how hard he wrinkled his forehead now, he couldn't remember their faces clearly. They were just two silhouettes, two people so distant that even if he reached out he doubted he would be able to touch them.
The distance between them lessened and Trey couldn't shift his gaze away from the wrinkles around his mother's eyes, forehead and mouth. She was a year shy of fifty, but she looked close to seventy.
"Trey." Trey's mother touched his cheeks for a fleeting moment before her arm was at her side again, her eyes caressing Trey's face. "It's good to see you. You look well." She stepped closer, her hand slightly lifting, ghosting over Trey's arm. "Really well." She turned toward her husband. "Doesn't he look well, Father?"
"Yes." Trey's father nodded, his gaze sliding over Trey at Nash who stood behind Trey.
"Mom, Dad," Trey said and stepped sideways. "This is Nash, my boyfriend."
Nash shifted the bags into his left hand before he offered his right hand first to Trey's mother, then to Trey's father.
For a moment Trey though that his father wouldn't take Nash's hand, but even when he did, the look of disapproval didn't leave his face. Not that that bothered Trey too much. He had never been close to his father, and besides, as long his mother thought that Nash was agood influence over him, his father wouldn't express his displeasure that Trey was going out with a man.
They exchanged a few pleasantries then went toward the car that was parked in one of the airport's underground garages, Nash walking alongside Trey's father, while Trey walked with his mother behind them.
"Trey." Trey's mother took hold of his hand.
Trey looked at her; he switched the weight of the bag to his left arm.
"It makes me happy to see you looking so well." Her fingers wrapped around Trey's. "Is it that guy?"
"Yeah." Trey's gaze caressed Nash's back. People said that love heals everything, but it wasn't that that had pulled him out of his dark hole. It was Nash's understanding, the gentleness and stubbornness with which he, inch by inch, had pulled Trey out of his shell, helped him, and made him see that he wasn't alone in the world.
"That's good." Trey's mother gave him a small smile. "At least there was somebody who was able to help you and pull you out of your isolation."
"Mom?" The fragility Trey heard in his mother's voice slowed his step.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Dry fingers squeezed Trey's before they withdrew. "I tried to be there for you, for Patty. I tried to help you, but I didn't know how to reach you."
Trey watched mother's bent head. He reached out and awkwardly patted her shoulder.
"You were always distant, hiding in your room or Patty's... I didn't know how to..." She rubbed her face. "I felt so powerless. I still do." She looked up at her son. "If I had been a better mother, maybe Patty would still be alive and maybe you would have been looking this well sooner."
"Don't say that. Please, don't say that." Trey stopped.
"If I were a better mother, I would have known that Ted was no good."
She saw the letter. Trey closed his eyes for a moment, stepped closer and curled his hand around his mother's. He had given Patty's farewell letter to Liam knowing that Liam would give it to his parents, they were entitled to see it, they deserved to see it, but he shouldn't have given them another burden to carry. He sighed. He had been so wrapped up in his own sorrow, in the burden of his own guilt, that he had never noticed their sorrow, their loss. "Patty didn't commit suicide because of Ted alone; his betrayal was just the last straw." He sighed. "I think that she never recovered from what happened to her, to us, but she hid that from everybody, pretending that she was fine. If she had been stronger, she would have kicked the bastard in the nuts and found a better man."
"But I should have known that. I should never have let her live on her own, I shouldn't have let her convince me that I was restricting her. I should have noticed that she wasn't all right and helped her."
"So should I! It's not your fault. None of it was ever your fault."
"Nor was it yours!"
They stared at each other, the tears that they hadn't noticed glistening in the artificial light.
"Are you two all right?" Nash called as he stepped toward them. He wound his arm around Trey's waist.
"I think we are." Trey released his mother's hand and with the back of his hand wiped his face. "Mom?"
"Yeah. I think we are." She pulled a handkerchief out from the large, brown bag hanging from on her arm and dabbed under her eyes, giving a shaky smile to Trey. "We are okay."
"Mother, come on." Trey's father wrapped his arm around her waist and guided her past the parked cars toward their grey pickup truck.
"I just had my first meaningful conversation with my mother." Trey leaned on Nash's chest for a moment. "I should have had one a long time ago. I shouldn't have run away from her and closed her out."
"I think she understands that that was just your way of dealing with things." Nash pressed a kiss on Trey's forehead before he hooked his arm around Trey's and pulled him forward toward the car. "But it's in the past now, right?"
Trey nodded before he climbed into the car and with one hand holding the bag tightly against his chest he waited until Nash sat beside him, so that he could lace his fingers with Nash's.
Trey's father started the car and they drove out from the garage, through the side roads and onto the highway.
For an hour and a half Trey watched the familiar panorama passing him by in a blur, his thoughts on his parents. They had been torturing themselves for what happened to Patty and him and later for Patty's suicide, as he had, and while Mother had noticed his suffering, he had never noticed hers or Father's, but had distanced himself from both of them, building a wall around himself, closed himself into isolation devoid of human touch. The only person he had let inside was Patty, but Patty, wanting a normal life, pretended that nothing ever happened to her, that she was a carefree woman without heavy baggage, never facing her problems, the issues that haunted her as soon as she closed her eyes. That probably was what pushed her over the edge in the end. Oh, Patty. He scooted closer to Nash and leaned his head on Nash's shoulder.
Trey hadn't needed words to express his mood or request consolation, Nash's arm was there for him, and Nash leaned over him, his eyes searching Trey's face. Nash knew him so well. Too well, he though, curving his lips into a small smile, and he was grateful for that. Every day he thanked god or whatever entity had given him Nash, his rock, who taught him the joys of small things, who showed him the beauty of life and gave him a purpose. He lifted his head and with his hand shielding his mouth and Nash's ear, he whispered, "I love you."
Nash whisper was as low as Trey's. "I love you too."
Trey leaned back in the embrace of Nash's arm. And the good thing in their relationship was that Nash needed him as much as Trey needed Nash. Nash was a caretaker by nature, he needed somebody to love, to take care of, but not in a possessive, overbearing way, even though as had Trey heard from Nash's close friends, a few of Nash's ex-partners had taken that as patronizing, annoying thing.
Not that that was the only thing that he had learned from Nash's wacky friends. It seemed that when Nash said that he had never gone undercover before, he had twisted the truth. Trey found out that Nash had been a correspondent in Bosnia during the Balkan wars, that he had been in Israel, El Salvador, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, North Korea, Haiti, Java,... where ever there was war, terrorist attacks or natural disaster, Nash was there in the middle of it. But he promised Trey that he wouldn't risk his life anymore, that he would only take safe assignments from now on, since if anything happened to Nash, Trey wouldn't know what to do or how to pick himself up, and since Trey threatened Nash that if he came home with so much as a scratch he would beat the crap out of him.
Trey looked out the window. They were almost there, through trees planted by the narrow road he could already see the small lake that was a mile and a half away from their house. Five more minutes and they would drive past it. There were a lot of happy memories connected with that lake: laughs in the summer heat, as he and Patty lay in the boat, their legs dangling over the edge, splashing in the water, and the falls in on the slippery ice as they raced around in circles, competing in the winter afternoons to see who was faster on skates. Trey leaned forward and tapped his father's shoulder. "Dad, could you stop at the lake, please?"
Trey's father nodded.
They stopped and with his burden in his arms Trey scrambled out of the car. From the bag he pulled the urn with Patty's ashes, which he had held tightly in his arms for five hours. Absently caressing the white porcelain, he looked at his parents who also stepped out of the car. "She loved this place. She always talked about how if she ever had children, she wanted them to see the lake, to have good times at it like we did."
Trey's mother nodded and Trey could see the water glistening in her eyes, and he was glad when Nash joined him, just his presence giving Trey strength to hold his tears at bay.
They slowly closed the distance that separated the lake from the road.
So this was it, time to say goodbye to Patty. Trey opened the urn, then stared at the ashes.
"Trey, if you are not ready yet, we can do this later." Trey's mother said, her voice shaky and her arm woven around her husband's like she was drowning and her husband's arm was keeping her head above the surface.
"Trey?" Nash put his hand on Trey's shoulder but otherwise stayed to the side.
"I can do this." Trey looked over his shoulder at Nash before his gaze was back on the ashes. "I can." He hadn't been before, but now he was strong enough to go through with this. "I guess that this is goodbye." His voice sounded small and timid even to his ears. "But don't worry, a part of you will still be here, in me. Always. I won't forget you." He swallowed. "How could I, huh, when we were such a good team together?" He lifted the urn and tilted it.
The gray dust scattered out, the wind took it and lifted it up. It twirled and danced around.
With his arms tightly wrapped around the empty urn Trey watched the grey cloud slowly dissolving.
Patty was really gone now, all that was left were useless, meaningless things that still lay in storage and precious memories that Trey held close at his heart.
Nash took the urn from Trey and curled his fingers around Trey's. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Trey said, finding that what he said was true. He was okay. He still had to work on forgiving himself for letting Patty down, but the rage and helplessness that had suffocated him for so long were gone, and he was confident that he would manage to find forgiveness with time and with Nash's help. But until then, he would just try to be happy, to enjoy life; he had to, because now that Patty was gone, he had to live life the fullest, he had to live for both of them. "I'll do my best. For me and for you." He looked at the horizon, at the forest that was beyond the lake and he imagined that he could feel Patty nod and hear the echo of her joy as she danced somewhere with no fear that somebody might hurt her.