Everyone was dressed in black.
Thomas stood stiffly next to Rio, who stood beside Katelyn, Ryan, and Jadyn. The Alaskan watched the icy snow leave the full pile to the side of the head stone, and cover the freshly dug and filled in grave. The white covered the brown of the packed in earth.
He clasped it tightly between white, pale hands. Thorns dug in and brought red, crimson blood to the surface in bubbles. Red like the rose in his hands. Red like his heart. Or was it black?
His heart pounded. His hands shook. His vision swam. Beads of sweat broke on the skin of his forehead. His eyes went from face to face in the crowd. Rio. Katelyn. Ryan. Jadyn. Crosby.
You're a public menace.
Tears. Heavy sobs filled with anguish and pain threatened to rip from his dry, cracked throat.
I'm not a piece. I'm the player, Tom.
A player in what game? The game of inner turmoil or the game of pure torture? The rose fell to the bump of white that rose from the ground.
He fell to his knees beside his mother's grave. He clawed at the snow until his fingers were raw and bloody, and Rio had pulled him to his feet.
The blood. The snow.
Rio helped him to his feet. He led him away from the grave yard. He led him away from his mother. Tom clawed at his best friend's skin, trying to get back to where his mother's dead body lay, trying to say goodbye to her one last time.
"Let me go you bastard!"
Rio held his forearms down. "Thomas, it's okay!"
Less than a hundred metres from Cecelia Keits' final resting place, Thomas Keits fell to the ground. He curled in a ball. "No, it's not! No! No, no, no, no, mommy, no no. She's not dead Rio, she's not dead, she's alive."
"Thomas..." Rio trailed off sadly. His brown eyes screamed sympathy and sadness. Thomas' blue eyes met the brown depths. His brow furrowed. He didn't understand. Why his mother? Why Cecelia? Why her? Why?
He and Rio were orphans.
"Help me." Tom whispered shakily. The small Spaniard grabbed his Alaskan friend by the elbows and helped to the edge of the cemetery. The black fence that curled around the entire property was cold to the touch and covered in ice. Thomas gingerly laid a hand on it. The cold numbed his skin and cooled his insides, cooled the memories and thoughts tearing at his mind.
"Rio, help me." He whispered again.
"How?" His best friend whispered just as quietly.
Silence. Complete and utter silence. Rio's eyes had gone oddly dark and in their depths, Thomas saw confusion and a sort of anger he'd never seen in the smaller boy.
"No one else here is going to die!" He shouted. Tom saw Katelyn and Ryan turned out of the corner of his eye. He glanced back to Rio.
"I need you." He whispered. Rio's face held a shard of conflict. Thomas ignored it and cupped the sides of the Spaniard's face in his hands. Neither of them had even a second to think before Tom's lips covered Rio's.
He thought he would protest. He thought he would pull away and blush heavily. He thought he would call him names and run away from him. He didn't. Rio stood there, and he curled his arms around his best friend's neck, and he kissed back with all he had.
"Love me." Thomas murmured when he'd pulled back. He pressed his forehead against Rio's, "Love me."
"I love you." Rio assured him. "I love you."
"I love you too." Tom whispered. Rio could not mistake tears that fell onto his own cheeks from Tom's eyes. He looked into the blue depths and kissed his best friend again.
"I love you."
"The plane leaves in twenty minutes."
Thomas smiled drearily. "You're not fond of planes, are you, Katelyn?"
The brunette nodded her head furiously. "I'm a little more than not fond." She returned the smile weakly. Jadyn clung to her leg happily. The five year old seemed to have no recollection of the events she'd experienced not long ago, to Ryan and Katelyn's relief. Thomas, who was holding Rio's palm tightly in his own, dropped it and bent down to Jadyn's level.
"You scared of flying, Jadyn?" He asked softly. The little girl seemed unable to see the sadness masked in his eyes.
"No," She answered bravely, "I'm not scared of anything! I'm just like my daddy!"
Tom smiled and laughed. "You're a good girl, Jadyn."
"I know." She whispered, hiding a smile in Katelyn's hip. Thomas rose, reclaiming Rio's hand. The two approached the group.
"Flight 622 to Juneau is now boarding."
All five heads rose as the voice came over the loudspeaker. Slowly, Ryan, Katelyn, and Jadyn all looked to Thomas and Rio.
"I guess this is goodbye, huh?" Rio said hoarsely. His throat was dry. He'd tried his best to pull on a smile. Katelyn nodded sadly.
"I guess it is."
Tom again dropped Rio's hand. He engulfed Katelyn in a big hug. "Thank you for trying to help." He murmured in her ear, "We all appreciate everything you did." Thomas took a breath, "And thank you for organizing the funeral."
Katelyn hugged the boy tightly. "You're quite welcome, Tom. I wish I could have done more."
Tom let go of Katelyn and smiled sadly. She could see the tears forming in his eyes. He nodded. Rio hugged her next, murmurs of thanks fading in the sounds of people heading for the departure gates. Tom approached Ryan. Held out a hand. Ryan raised his eyebrows.
"What?" Tom asked. He looked at Ryan's expression confusedly. Ryan smiled, shook his head, and reached out to pull Tom into a hug. Tom looked shocked, but didn't move. Instead, he spoke, and in his voice, Ryan could hear true gratefulness, and pure sadness.
"Thank you for doing what you did," He began wearily, "I'm sorry that any of this happened to you. I never wanted any of this to happen."
The thirty three year old awkwardly held him. "Don't apologize. None of this was your fault. What happened was crazy and unbelievable, but there is no reason for you to say sorry. If anything," Ryan sighed, "I should be the one saying sorry."
Tom pulled out of the hug and smiled. "We're going to miss you."
Ryan smiled. "Come visit us. Allaphon and Oshawa aren't too far away. Six hours isn't long."
Tom and Rio both smiled. As Rio stretched up on his tip toes to hug Ryan, he whispered something into his ear.
"I will never forget what you two did for him." He began. When he pulled out of the embrace, Rio smiled, as did Katelyn and Ryan. The group was about to turn and head towards the gate when Jadyn let go of her mother's hip and went over to Tom and Rio. She hugged each boy, then reached up, and kissed them each on the cheek.
"I love you guys." She whispered. Jadyn turned to her parents who were smiling and waiting for her, luggage in hand. She stepped back. "When you guys have babies, will you bring them to see me?"
Rio turned red. Thomas laughed genuinely in what seemed like the first time in a long while.
"We'll bring them to you." He smiled. Jadyn grinned and ran over to her parents. As the three handed passports and tickets to the woman at the gate, Thomas looked down at Rio.
"I'm going to miss them." He said.
"Me too," Rio said, waving at the three as they ventured down the hallway to board the plane. He grasped Thomas' hand. "Me too."
Katelyn: Oh my sweet Jesus we finished.
You don't even know my cries.
I'm going to keep this short and sweet cause Theta knows how long my usual author's notes are. Anyway, I want to thank every person who's ever reviewed because it means so much, and I want to thank Kaitlin for actually putting up with me while we were working together on this. I don't mean to sound cheesy but it's been an honour to work with you on this. :) You're my most bestest friend in the history of bestest friends and this is the best time I have ever had while working on a story. Thank you for even allowing me to use your characters when I know I completely threw them out of character. It's been a pleasure working with you. You're the Adrian to my Trudy, Kaitlin. :D I love you!
But yeah! It's over! Finally! We started in September and now it's March! So please please please please please please read and review and make this all worthwhile!
Kaitlin: KATELYN WROTE AGAIN. C: