“He’s here, Brady!” Jack shouted excitedly, “Come on, let’s go greet him.”
“Maybe we should just wait for him to come inside,” Stacey suggested, but Jack turned toward her, scandalized.
“The sooner the better, Stacey,” Jack replied. “He who hesitates is lost!”
Brady wasn’t listening to either of them and was already on his way to the door, opening it just in time to see the police officer raise her gun and point it at Silas. In the next instant he was barreling toward her as Adelaide came at her from the front. He watched the gun turn in the air toward Adelaide and jumped toward her.
He managed to push her arm down so that the gun fired into the dirt just as Adelaide pounced on top of her and took her to the ground. Brady reached for her arm again and tore the gun from her grasp, tossing it to the other side of the yard. Jack rushed out a moment later and subdued the officer’s other arm as Silas called to Adelaide.
“Down, girl! They’ve got her!”
Theo and Stacey followed Jack outside and Theo took over Brady’s position at holding onto the struggling woman. Brady stepped back and then walked toward the discarded handgun, making sure to keep himself between the woman and the weapon.
“I am a police officer! Unhand me!” Officer Higgins growled as Theo and Jack held her tight. Jack reached onto her belt and withdrew the handcuffs hanging there, before he directed Theo to pull her wrists behind her back. Theo’s strong hands did the trick and Jack made sure the handcuffs were sufficiently tight on her wrists before he stepped away and let Theo handle her on his own.
“I’m not going to let anyone, officer or otherwise, shoot at one of my friends when they’ve done nothing wrong,” Jack growled. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Should I be calling 911 right now?” Stacey asked as she pulled out her phone.
“Yes,” Ian said from behind her, “But we also need to call Sheriff Donaldson to make sure he knows what’s going on. If you’ll call 911 I’ll take care of calling him.”
Stacey nodded and dialed the number before putting her phone up to her ear and then Ian soon did the same. The whole time Brady kept one eye on the officer and the other eye on Silas who hadn’t moved from his position beside the car. He was staring at Officer Higgins with an unreadable expression, though he did finally react when the driver of the car came around to the other side and put a hand on his shoulder. They whispered to each other for a moment and then Silas turned toward Brady and blinked.
And then he smiled, and for a moment Brady forgot all about what else had happened as that smile made his heart melt. It was the most sincere smile he had ever seen on Silas’ face, and even in the face of the dangerous situation they were in the middle of the smile was strong and healthy.
Silas completely ignored Officer Higgins as he crossed the lawn toward Brady, and as soon as he was within arm’s reach he wrapped his arms around Brady and embraced him tightly. Brady’s arms reflexively wrapped around Silas but then he realized what was happening and made the most of the situation, shifting one hand up to Silas’ neck and pulling him in for a quick but powerful kiss. He felt Silas pushing into the kiss and held it a second longer than he intended but then their moment was broken by a howl of rage from Officer Higgins.
“Abominations! Evil creatures! How dare you defile the good pastor’s name and then perform your evil acts so that the entire world can see! You’re going to burn in hell! Hell!”
“Should we mention that we’re the Demons of the Crossroads,” Jack said with a raised eyebrow. “I mean, no one knows hell better than we do.”
“I don’t know about that,” Adam piped in, “I think she’s going to know hell quite well when life is done with her. Can you imagine what a good god would do with a woman who protected a murderer and a rapist and then tried to kill a teenager for no reason?”
Sirens and flashing lights drew the group’s attention to the end of the road where a police car was headed their direction. Ian walked up to Officer Higgins and said, “Sheriff Donaldson was on his way to see us with the intention of telling us that you appeared to have left town after you learned of the Pastor's arrest. Imagine his surprise when I told him that we had found you here. You should have stayed missing.” He smiled at her sudden discomfort and then added, “You’re going to see the Pastor pretty soon down at the jail, and they’ll make sure you pay for everything you’ve done, but I want you to take one good look at my brother over there.” He pointed to Silas and she followed his gaze instinctively before snapping her eyes back to his.
“I don’t need to watch that wicked boy bask in his sin!” Officer Higgins spat. “The Lord commanded that . . .”
“Had you hurt my brother I would have sent you to your maker myself,” Ian promised, interrupting her and stopping her words with nothing but the intensity of his gaze.
Sheriff Donaldson stopped his car in the middle of the road and walked quickly toward them, eyeing the band members with surprise, especially Theo who still held tight onto Officer Higgins. “I’ll take this from here,” he said and Theo shrugged as the sheriff took hold of the handcuffs.
Officer Higgins visibly relaxed as she started speaking again, “Thank goodness you’re here, Sheriff, I was just about to . . .”
“Sheryl Higgins, you are under arrest for aiding Arnold Simms in the murder of Daniel Winters,” Sheriff Donaldson began, and Officer Higgins started to protest again as he led her away. “You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be . . .”
Brady put the arrest out of his mind as he pulled Silas into him and kissed him again. By the time they pulled apart, Officer Higgins was in the back of the sheriff’s patrol car and he was walking toward them again. This time he seemed much more relaxed as he headed straight for Silas.
“You just don’t want me to get any sleep do you, Silas?” The sheriff asked gruffly, but then his features softened as he grinned. "Well, looks like she turned up."
"You could say that," Silas said with a sigh. "Her gun is right here, and the bullet she shot at me should be in the grass somewhere over there."
"You know, you've escaped death twice in twenty-four hours," Sheriff Donaldson said with a chuckle. "You might want to consider laying low for a while."
"I've been laying low for two years," Silas replied with a shake of his head. "I don't intend to go back to that anytime soon."
"All the same, take care of yourself, kid," Sheriff Donaldson said. "We could use more people like you in this world, and the world would sure suffer if there was one less."
"I'll do the best I can, Sheriff," Silas replied with a warm smile, but it faded quickly as he thought of something unsettling. "We don't have to go back down to the station and give statements again, do we?"
"No, I'll collect them here," The sheriff replied with a wry chuckle. "I've got a man coming down to help with that, and then we'll let you go. Simms and Higgins have used up enough of your valuable time, and mine as well. Just let me bag that gun and then we'll get started."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The sheriff left before nine, and Sheryl Higgins was taken away long before by the deputy which came to help out at the scene. By the time the sheriff had finished his tea the only people who weren't falling asleep at the dining room table were the members of the band and Silas who was suddenly wide awake.
He escorted Adam to the door and reminded him that they still had plans that evening, and then was surprised when Adam gave him a hug and thanked him again for getting them through their shared ordeal. He watched Adam drive off and then turned around to find Brady watching him curiously.
"A friend of yours?" Brady asked simply. His expression was unreadable, and Silas wondered briefly if Brady were jealous about his exchange with Adam.
"Yes, a good friend," Silas replied with a nod. "He was one of the first people to welcome me into this town, and he's a good guy. Took him awhile to realize it himself, I think."
"Seems to be a common problem," Brady said with a laugh. "I seem to recall that last time I saw you, you were lacking some of that self-worth as well."
"Well, I've had a few people knock some sense into me since then," Silas replied, grinning from ear to ear. "Which reminds me . . . I have to apologize for not calling you back. It made you drive all the way out here and worry like crazy. Well, come to think of it, I'm not all that sorry for making you drive out here, but definitely for the worrying."
"Yeah, I'm glad that I'm here, too," Brady said with a smile though his eyes grew serious. "If I hadn't been here, you or Adelaide might have been hurt, or killed. I get why you did it, but . . . Drake, I need you to be able to talk to me."
"I can get behind that," Silas replied. "To be honest, it was difficult not to tell you, but I didn't want to get you involved. I knew that you might try and talk me out of it, and I would have listened to you."
"No, I wouldn't have tried to talk you out of it," Brady said quietly, looking Silas in the eye as he paused and collected his thoughts. Silas knew that contemplative look, and knew not to interrupt those thoughts because Brady would soon share them. "If you had told me what you had planned, I would have had you wait a couple days so that we could get down here, and we all would have helped you. The whole band would have made sure you had backup."
"But . . ." Silas protested, but didn't know where he was going with the thought.
Brady crossed the room quickly and wrapped Silas in an embrace that felt more secure and welcoming than anything Silas had ever felt before. "It hurt when you left, Silas," Brady whispered, "It hurt because you didn't understand, and I could feel your pain. I knew you had been through so much, and I just couldn't reach you. I knew you had to find your own way; that you'd make it somehow, and if that wasn't with us, it was all right, but I wanted it so badly to be with us because I knew how everyone felt about you."
"He's right, Silas," Jack said from the doorway into the dining room, and he was quickly joined by Stacey and Theo who were all smiling at him. "I slipped you my number, hoping you'd call me some day, but I expected it might be years before you did. I'm glad it didn't take nearly that long, because from the moment you started traveling with us, we knew. We all knew."
"You're our navigator, Silas," Stacey said, picking up where Jack left off. She started walking toward him and Brady as she continued to talk. "We were lost until you came around, always wandering from gig to gig without any real direction, and then you showed us how to read a map. Honestly, I think you're the reason we've gotten somewhere, not only because you gave Brady the idea for the best song we've ever written," she chuckled as she reached them and reached out to touch both of their arms, "But also because you're like a good luck charm. We could always find our way to fortune with you guiding us."
"You're family, dude," Theo said with a grin, "I mean, except maybe not with Brady, because that would be incest and totally wrong."
"Theodore!" Jack shouted, "Way to be a mood killer!"
"Isn't that why we keep him around?" Stacey said, rolling her eyes. Then she looked back at Brady and Silas and surprised the latter by leaning in and kissing his cheek, and then repeating the gesture on Brady. "You're two of my favorite people in the world, but I think I'm gonna leave you alone for a little while. Jack, Theo, and I are planning on going down to the lake, but I think you two should probably stay here."
Brady turned to Silas as if to question his agreement with Stacey's plan and Silas nodded. Soon the other members of the band were gone, leaving them alone. Silas looked into Brady's eyes and then leaned in to kiss him again, entwining his fingers in Brady's curls.
"After what you just went through, I imagine you're tired," Brady said sweetly, "Would you like to get some rest?"
Silas paused and then smiled mischievously as he kissed Brady again, this time playfully. "There's no rest for the wicked, Brady. Come on, let's go be wicked together."
Brady smiled and slipped his hand into Silas'. "I thought you'd never ask."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Silas woke as the sun was about to rise. No matter how many times he tried to sleep in, his internal clock refused to readjust to that of an average American teenager. It was just as well; he had work to do, and nothing was going to stop him from the mountain of homework that he had yet to finish. Between working at the coffee shop and trying to study for his college classes he was completely swamped.
"Addy! Come here, girl!" Silas said as he swung his feet over the edge of the bed. The small twin bed was hardly large enough for them both to sleep on, especially when Brady was visiting, but Adelaide had grown accustomed to sleeping on the large cushion in the corner, and she had taken to other aspects of the college life with equal eagerness. It seemed everything she did was done with enthusiasm, and Silas often found himself envying her energy.
"Drake, are you seriously awake already?" a groggy voice called from the other side of the wall. Silas chuckled to himself and opened the door to the common area in the apartment. The walls were far too thin, and it was too easy to hear what was going on in the other room, but he hadn't needed to hear in order to know the scene he'd find in the dining room.
Dillan, Adam's boyfriend, sat with a cup of coffee in his hands as he stared blankly at the pot in front of him. He then glanced up at Silas and squinted, shaking his head. "I have a class this early, but I don't know why anyone would choose to get up at this hour. You're superhuman, Drake."
"No he isn't," Adam said from down the hallway, "He's just an overeager boy scout. You know that he doesn't get out of bed this early if Brady's in town."
"That's just because we prefer getting our freak on in the morning rather than staying up until three in the morning doing it like some people," Silas muttered as he reached for the coffee pot. "Should I pour you a cup too, Adam?"
"You know it," Adam said as he sat down at the table. "And for your information, it wasn't three in the morning."
"It was four," Dillan corrected, grinning a toothy grin at Silas. "Payback for waking us up on Saturday's with how much noise you and Brady make . . ."
"That's enough of that," Adam said with a dismissive wave. "Today's the day, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I suppose it is," Silas said, ignoring the name written on the calendar that hung from the wall. It was a calendar of men from the college swim team, and they had bought it to support their school. At least that's what they had said when they practically chased down the boys who were selling it in their speedos.
"You know, it's been three years," Adam reminded him. "And you told me that Ian says everything seems to be all right. Why are you so worried?"
"He's not worried, he's avoiding it because he doesn't know what to say," Dillan said with an exasperated sigh. "You shouldn't be so hard on Drake. You know he's still learning how to talk to the ladies."
"Yeah, like he's ever going to get practice at that," Adam snorted.
Silas tried to smile at their banter but he couldn't find the energy. It had been some time since he had talked to anyone from home. Home had changed definitions a lot over the last few years anyway, and that just complicated things more.
He thought of his sisters, Chelsea and Tara, and he suddenly found the smile he had been lacking. They were doing well in high school, and Chelsea was back to living with her mother. They had sorted things out between them, and Chelsea and Tara had been officially together for almost nine months. He was happy for them, though he was a bit sad for Jenny who had grown attached to Chelsea over the month they had spent together.
He still talked to all three of them often, nearly once a week over the phone, though he texted Chelsea and Tara much more regularly. They were both planning on applying for the University of Colorado when they graduated, and the plan was that they'd all be together again. Silas smiled at the thought and hoped it would all work out.
Ian and Amy had been sad to see him leave town for college, but he made sure to talk to them frequently, and over the holidays he would spend time with them. Whenever he had a longer weekend and the band was in town, they'd all go back to Crow's Lake together and have a big get together at the restaurant. It was always nice to return home.
But then there was the name on the calendar. The person he hadn't called yet, and the person that could bring his reality crashing down. He was scared, and worried, and he didn't know what to say. Everything that Adam and Dillan had said about the situation was true, but that didn't make any difference. He had set the goal for a reason; he wanted to do it, even if it had a chance of bringing everything back to him.
He walked back into his room and looked for his phone, finding it on the desk where he had left it the night before. He picked it up and flipped it open, knowing that he'd see a reminder from his calendar telling him what day it was.
As he dialed the number he told himself that he had done what he said he was going to do. Even though it was too early in the day and it was unlikely anyone would answer, he had done his best, and made the call, and that was all the mattered. If no one answered he would try again in another year. Maybe two, or five.
But then someone picked up on the other end of the line, and a tentative woman's voice spoke in a way that reminded him of being a scared eight year old boy who had just lost his big brother. "Hello?"
He stared at the phone for several seconds before he finally put it to his ear and said, "Hello, Emma. This is Silas. How've you been?"
Author's Note: Now it's over. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
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