A/n: Hi Everyone! Again, thank you so much for your feedbacks, they’re really uplifting! This chapter, I’d like to give a special shout out to Mare, who was so nice as to edit this chapter, so this one, you’ve all been spared by my mistakes, hehe. Hope you all like it!
Nick wasn’t proud of what he had done, but it took two crushed sleeping pills mixed in a mug of hot chocolate to finally put Kevin to sleep. Brian didn’t know of the secret concoction and Nick wasn’t about to tell him. That would only end up with Brian asking him how those pills came into his possession. This in turn, would create a whole new drama in his house, something he wasn’t looking forward to having. Especially not right then.
He pulled the comforter up so that it covered Kevin right up to his chest, before clicking off the lamp. Perhaps tomorrow, they would all wake up with a clear head and come up with the best solution to the problem at hand.
Leaving the door slightly ajar, Nick passed the second guest room, where Brian was. He overheard his conversation with Leigh, trying his best to explain why he wouldn’t be flying off to be home by the weekend as promised. Nick knew Brian hated lying to his wife, especially when Nick figured Brian needed her support the most.
When Brian saw him standing at the door, Nick signaled that he was going to bed and went straight to his bedroom.
Slipping under the covers, he turned off the lamp and stared into the darkness. He had always hated the dark. It drove him crazy when he couldn’t see anything in front of him. But that night, darkness was a welcome guest. Hopefully in darkness, the horrifying scenes he had seen on that video would finally go away.
But there they were.
He had strayed for only a few seconds, letting his mind not think about anything in particular, and it was all it took for flashes of the scene to make its way back to the front, showing things that he had been desperate to forget.
Nick knew the place well. In fact, the guys and he had gone there the night before for a late dinner. When he had gone there by himself numerous times, he would slip from the backdoor and out to the back alley, where he could take his cigarette break without having pictures of him doing that posted on various websites by the next day.
The video was shaky at times; whoever was behind the camera was obviously scared for his life; in fear of being caught. It had started with a zoom in on the name of the restaurant, with voices in the background. And then the video moved to the right, to a group of people talking.
There were six men talking. All of them in expensive suits with properly combed hair and looking very business like. Nick could still hear the heavy breathing of the person behind the camera, the fear this person must have gone through and the risk this person faced just to get footage of what felt like nothing more than a bunch of guys deep in conversation.
Nick understood that a negotiation was taking place. Four men against two.
And then it happened, out of nowhere, unexpected. Nick saw himself back in the conference room, sitting right in the middle while the guys crowded around him, his eyes fixated on the screen, his body as if chained to some invisible locks.
He watched as one of the men, the one who was wearing a hat, went back to the door and stood there, guarding the exit, another man, who looked like he could be running the show, moved from the crowd and lit a cigarette, as the remaining two men, one with shocking white hair and the other with a shaved head, drew out their guns and shot the other two men in the head.
Nick saw movement from the corner of his eyes. Knew that Brian and AJ were the first to look away. Howie had sunk back in his seat and Kevin was telling him to stop the video.
He couldn’t stop though. He couldn’t move. He watched as the men hid their guns in their jackets in one slick motion and moved away from the bodies. He watched as they returned into the restaurant as if nothing had happened. He watched as the person behind the camera came out of hiding and quickly went up to the bodies, forever imprinting the image of the two dead men with a bullet hole each in their heads, in his mind. The screen went blank.
“That’s John Klass.” Howie whispered his disbelief. “That’s the guy who’s running for Mayor.”
Nick looked up for the first time, away from the black screen. “What are you talking about?”
Kevin slumped back on his chair, drawing the wheeled chair nearer to him. “The man who was smoking, that’s John Klass, the guy who is running for Mayor.”
“Whose secretary happened to be murdered two days ago. The man by the door and the bald guy work for him.” Brian said.
“What about the guy with the white hair?” Nick asked.
“Don’t know him.” Brian shrugged.
“The secretary…she could be the person who took this video.” AJ said.
“Maybe that’s why she was killed. Maybe someone found out what she was doing.” Howie said.
“And somehow, she managed to pass the video to my mugger who passed it to me.” Kevin finished off their thoughts.
Silence encompassed the conference room for a few tense seconds. This had just turned into a whole different ball game.
“No, she got killed trying to negotiate a deal with them.” Nick said all of a sudden. It got the interest of all the guys at once.
“What makes you think that?” Kevin asked.
“Cause a video camera requires a tape, or a huge ass memory card.” Nick explained.
“Still not getting it.” Howie said after no one said anything.
“Video camera don’t use memory sticks, chances are, she was using a tape, or a memory card since memory carsd can only keep 15 minutes worth of video footage max. But never a memory stick. So maybe, she was threatened into giving up the tape, which she did, but she knew they might just kill her off-”
“So she saved a copy into this memory stick!” Brian finished for him.
“Right!” Nick cried.
“But it still doesn’t explain how your mugger got it Kev.” AJ said.
“Maybe she passed it to him incase something went wrong.” Kevin suggested.
“But why gave it to you though? Why didn’t he just surrender it to the police?” Howie pointed out.
“I don’t know…maybe that’s what he’s gonna tell me when he calls.”
Nick nodded even though he wasn’t quite sure if he understood everything. “And when will that be?”
“…you hear me?”
Nick blinked. Brian was standing right next to his bed, the lines on his forehead creased as he frowned in worry.
“You spaced out on me man.”
“I was thinking.”
“Looks like it’s hurting you.” Brian joked.
“It is.” Nick frowned, subconsciously rubbing his temple.
Brian sat the edge of the bed. Nick had never seen Brian age that much in a day. Even when they were at each other’s throats four years ago, he had never looked this bad.
“I know what we saw today was…terrible. But we can’t let it consume us.”
“It’s just there Brian. Every time I stop thinking, I’ll see it.”
“You’re not alone buddy.”
“Do you know how to make it stop?”
“Well,” Brian stretched. “When I see it in my head, I see the whole thing, the video, that media player you opened it with. So I’ll see that stop button, and made myself click on it. It stopped.”
Nick smiled. “That’s cool.”
“Try that the next time you see it.”
“I will.” Nick said. “I wonder how AJ and Howie are holding up.”
Brian yawned. “I wouldn’t worry too much. Howie called, he’s sleeping over at AJ’s.”
“You can sleep here if you want, there’s room for the both of us.” Nick said, secretly hoping that Brian would. Maybe talking would help him forget.
“Got an extra pillow?”
Nick pat the extra pillow next to him.
“Awesome.” Brian practically jumped next to Nick and settled in. “Your mattress is way better than the one in the guestroom.”
“That’s an old one, from my house
“I like this one better.”
“Fine, next time you sleepover, I’ll take the guestroom.”
“I know you love me.”
There was a short moment of silence, where Brian adjusted himself comfortably and Nick was on his sidekick, replying to a message from AJ, who had just sent a random topless picture of a woman with the words ‘sweet dreams tonight’.
“How come Kevin doesn’t just surrender that stupid thing to the police? It’d be off our hands and done with.”
“I don’t know Nick…I guess he was feeling a little bit guilty for reporting him to the police in the first place. The guy is obviously trying to save his own butt. Ever wonder if he was there and actually saw her get killed?”
Nick shrugged even though he did think about everything all the time now. “I don’t know Brian…if he was her back up plan, wouldn’t she want him to be far away from her when she met those bad people?”
Brian sighed. “I don’t know what to think anymore.”
“Her name is Sarah Felding.”
Brian turned sideways, his eyes trying to find Nick in the dark. “Who?”
“The woman…the one who got killed, her name was Sarah Felding.”
“How did you know that?”
“It was n the papers remember? And the news. I was following up on the case and did some reading.”
“Oh. That’s good…I think we should all do that…find out more about everything.”
“She’s 25.” Nick said again. “One shot to the head, just like those two…”
There were no words to reply to that, so Brian kept his silence.
“Brian, we’re so fucked.”
And with those final words, silence and darkness accompanied them, but it was knowing that they were there for each other, side by side, that became their comfort blanket, lulling them to a deep, dreamless sleep.
Nick woke up the next morning with the gentle tapping of Brian’s fingers on his shoulder.
“Hey, you awake?” Brian whispered.
“Yeah.” Nick croaked; his morning voice deep and unclear. “Why are you whispering?”
“Shhh!” Brian continued, already bright eyed. Nick also had the suspicions that Brian was fresh from a shower. Was he late?
“What time is it?”
“7, and be quiet, Kevin’s sleeping.”
“Brian,” Nick said and then paused, realizing he was still ‘loud’. He rolled his eyes and whispered, “I don’t think Kevin will hear us even if we talk normally.”
Brian shook his head and told him to stay put. He tip toed towards the door, which amused Nick even more, and quietly locked the door. He tip toed back towards Nick and sat on the edge of the bed as close as he could get to him.
“Howie just called. He said Johnny tried calling Kevin but he couldn’t get an answer.”
Nick scratched his head. “I switched the damn thing off. Figured he could use all the sleep he could get.”
Brian nodded. “Good…so anyway, Johnny said that police guy…Inspector Weiss?”
Nick cringed at the mention of the name, and then recovered himself and nodded. “Yeah, him.”
“He said they found Kevin’s mugger.”
Nick’s eyes grew wide. He wasn’t sure if he should smile and be happy about it or be disappointed. What if he was really innocent?
“I’m guessing they want Kevin down at the HQ to identify him in a line up?”
“Sorta.” Brian cringed.
“They need Kevin to identify his body.”
“Shhhhh!!!!!” Brian whispered loudly, almost jumping out of bed as if he was caught red handed.
“Shit! Ok, sorry.” Nick whispered. “What!”
“He was shot too. In a motel room not far from here. And get this…he’s a photographer, working for the LA Times.”
“Oh my God, Brian, maybe he was supposed to expose those bastards!”
“But something scared him away. Maybe that’s why he was too desperate, he planted that thing on the next guy he saw.”
“And that’s Kevin.” Nick said.
“Then why aren’t we waking him up and telling him all this?”
Brian sighed. This time, his shoulders started to slouch, as if the invisible burdens were heaving down on him. On all of them.
“I think we should let him sleep in for a while longer. Practice is cancelled because he needs to go down to the HQ and all. I figured any extra amount of sleep he could get, he should take it.”
Nick nodded. He understood. They were living on borrowed times now.
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