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"Why do you get mad at me all the time? What did I ever do?" Brett asked Mary-Kate angrily.

"Because you deserve it! You are prying into my private life which is MY BUSINESS!" She yelled.

"I am NOT prying and maybe, JUST MAYBE I am asking you because I am trying to prevent you from getting into a situation where you will get hurt!" Brett yelled "You don't know who this Ryan guy is!"

"WELL AT LEAST HE ISN'T ABANDONING ME LIKE YOU ARE!" She screamed in rage without thinking.

So that was it.

I glanced from Mary-Kate who looked like she was about to cry, to Brett who was no longer angry just calmly standing there deciding what to say next.

He looked around for a few minutes thinking of what to say. "Mary-Kate, do you honestly think I would abandon you? I would never do that to you. I can't believe you would think that." He looked a little hurt.

It was now Mary-Kate's turn to think of what to say. I decided it was better if I left them alone to talk things over in private.


I watched Marc-Andre walk away and tried to decide what on earth to say. I was really freaking out here. And Brett was waiting for an answer...

"You do know that right?" Brett said, snapping me out of my silent thought.

I turned to him with tears in my eyes "But you are..."

"Mary-Kate, the reason I am leaving is to protect you. I know you don't understand now, but I'm hoping some day you will." He said to me. "I don't want to leave you and Ashley, but I feel it is my responsibility to go."

"I hate that!" she said angrily "How can you protect me if you're on the other side of the world? What if they bombed here while you were in LA?!"

He had a discouraged look on his face. He went and sat down on the grass and burried his face in his hands. In a weaker moment, I almost felt sorry for him. But I want him to stay. Although I don't like to admit it, I need him around.

Brett looked up at me. "I can't run away from this fight. Unless people like me stand up and fight them, they will take over the United States and you will never be free."

"What about Marc-Andre and Matt? And all the thousands of people who are going to fight? Let them go! Why do you have to too?" I asked going and sitting next to him.

"Because it would tear me up inside to stay here while they put their lives on the line. If something should happen to them I would never forgive myself for giving up the chance to have done something." He said softly.

"And how would you feel if something happens to me while you were away?" I asked calmly. This was a discussion now, not an argument.


This was so hard. How could I get her to understand that I have to do this. In staying here I would be unhappy, by going there, Mary-Kate would be unhappy. No matter what I do, someone loses. I'm so confused. I put my head between my knees and I tried to think of how to explain this.

"Mary-Kate, if something happened to you, I would never be the same. I would be devastated. But, by going to fight, I..." I said.


I was going to convince him not to go if it was the last thing I do!

"Brett, pease stay here. You have no real reason to go" I said, almost pleading.

"But I do." He said.

"No you don't! Just some sense of male pride!" I insisted, frustrated

"There is no pride in going to fight. Atleast not to me." He finally said after a pause. "I'm not trying to be brave or impress anybody, I don't even want to go. But, this is something I feel I have to do." He almost started crying right there. "I wish I could explain it to you, Mary-Kate. But I can't. All I know is my heart is telling me this is the thing to do, the right thing."

I just looked at him.
"I want you to live happily without fear, in a free land and going to fight is the best thing I can do to help assure that for you. If I stay here and do nothing while letting Marc-Andre and Matt go off alone, I..." He never finished that sentence. "I would gladly choose to go and fight and come back to you with the gift of a free land, rather than stay here and live my life with the regret of doing nothing, while brave men and women fought and died doing what I was too afraid to." A tear rolled down his cheek. He turned away, trying to keep back his tears.

I was truly speechless, seeing the boy I'd always looked up to, the boy who was the very embodiment of the saying 'boys don't cry' was sitting her next to me.. crying.

"I'm sorry" I said tentatively putting a hand on his shoulder. "I,.. I'm,.. I'm just so scared. I don't want to be on my own. We don't even really know who's doing this or why. I'm just so scared" I started to cry myself.

He wrapped an arm around my shoulder and I wrapped my arms around his waist. And we cried... and cried... and cried.

From fear. From our confusion. For a hope that seemed so far away. For those we'd lost. For the dreams that were shattered. For lives that would never be the same. For a sorrowful parting that was drawing closer every second...

Chapter 19

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