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Author's Chapter Notes:

Well, I took a bit of time to actually write the chap and not rush it like I always tend to do which usually ends up with me experiencing writer's block because I want to get it done so quickly. I actually got this chap done fairly quickly and started chapter 15 as soon as I finished. I should have chapter 15 posted soon. I think I may be on a bit of a roll! *grins* Any and all feedback is appreciated!

Chapter 14:

Brian slammed into his household as if there was not a force that could stop him. The silence pushed against him from all sides as he threw his set of keys to the tiled flooring of the front walkway and stormed across the threshhold. His blood pulsed through his veins madly while he took the stairs to the upper floor two at a time and it took all he had not to curse outloud at the emptiness all around him. The cool conditioned air of the second floor hit him full force as he reached the landing, but he paid no attention to the change in temperature. He stumbled over a carelessly abandoned toy belonging to his son and kicked it angrily off to the side. The object ricocheted off the wall and bounced several feet behind him as he entered his personal office. He didn't bother with the light switch; the natural light from the outside was illuminating enough.

Almost immediately the phone upon his desk began to ring, but Brian ignored it. He knew who it was; Kevin had been calling him non stop since he had left the studio abruptly, despite Brian's reluctance to answer the calls. After several more rings the phone grew silent, the shrill rings echoing in his ears. However the silence didn't last long as the incesant sound began once more. A growl of frustration escaped his lips and he sent the phone sailing off the desk and to the floor with a loud crash. Silence encased the room despite his ragged breathing and he sank into the black leather swivel, bringing his hands up to entangle his fingers within his messy curls.

His mind whirled on overload as he remembered the stares of uncertainty ringing true in his bandmates eyes as they shattered his hopes of doing one of the only things that would keep him sane and help remind him that life hadn't ended yet. He just couldn't understand why they were forcing him to stop. Did they not understand that he was breaking apart inside and they were only speeding the process? Reluctantly Brian looked around the room, oblivious to the warm tears that had begun to slowly slip down his cheeks. Everything appeared so neat and in order, much unlike his life and it sickened him to the core. He could feel his nerves pulsing as a throbbing headache set into each temple; his stomach churned deep inside.

A sob of anguish escaped his pursed lips as he reached out to grab a framed photograph of his wife and son, so angelic and perfectly posed for when the picture had been taken. A white sandy beach and crystal blue ocean water spread out for a serene landscape. An orange and red hued sky made for a breath taking sunset that Brian remembered had done just that -- take his breath away. In fact it successfully took his breath away every time he glanced at it. The way Leighanne hugged Baylee close to her in a loving embrace as she smiled beautifully to where Brian stood behind the camera always made his heart flutter. Now instead of seeing his wife's beautiful smile staring back, he could only picture the expression of loss and sadness that would soon be replacing it. To know he would be the cause for Leighanne's heartache tore his world apart. Slowly and carefully he traced their outlines, saving every possible detail in his mind that he could.

Somewhere downstairs the phone began to ring again, jarring his mind. The frame fell from Brian's hands like his sanity was slipping from his grasp, hitting the carpet with a quiet thump face down. He stared down at it, his hands shaking as the tears began to slip faster. He couldn't think straight. The numbness to his reality that he had fought to keep hold of had disappeared, leaving him on the verge of total despair. He was angry, frustrated with what was happening to him. He desperately wanted to find someone, anyone to place the blame on, as if it would lift the heaviness from his chest and make him feel the least bit better. He wanted answers. He wanted a solution, something that would tell him, "Mr. Littrell, are tests were wrong. You are perfectly healthy and you have many happy years to come." None of that would happen though, because it just wasn't possible. The tests weren't wrong. The surgery hadn't been pointless. But that didn't mean he was prepared to die. And he sure as Hell didn't deserve to.

He screamed out and in one swift movement, Brian sent everything remaining on his desk flying to the floor. The open sleek black lap top impacted the floor and broke in two as the lamp landed beside it. A collection of papers scattered all around the desk. Pens rolled across the carpet. It ended in one ugly mess, but did nothing except add fuel to the fire that was Brian's temper. Finally he stood from the chair, turning it over backward, and gained a few paces away.

Leighanne wouldn't be thrilled about the mess he had created, but Brian couldn't have possibly cared less at that very moment. He wanted to see things lying in a pile of broken shards, like that of his tattered soul. Things deserved to be hurting as much as he was hurting. He crossed the room to the book case and began to tear each book seperately from it's shelf, tearing the pages one by one. Torn pages littered the floor around his feet. He stared down, unphased by the racket and even more unphased by the tears that were falling even harder down his wan cheeks. He spun where he stood, the movement sending sharp surges of tensed pain up his unstable legs.

Gold-framed pictures loomed in front of him on the shelves, decorated with candles of various shapes and sizes that always produced a soft warm scent when lit. Leighanne had always held a liking for candles, admiring the different colors, scents, and shapes. Thus led to their household being littered decoratively with them since the moment he had met his wife. It seemed every room was elegantly decorated with the finest candles Leighanne could find. Brian grimaced as he reached for a light sapphire candle, bringing it up to his nose and inhaling slowly. The scent made his stomach churn for the worse and he dropped the candle without a care. Before he realized it, a pile of the wax fixtures were laying in a scattered pile. Overturned pictures lay dangerously close to the edge of the shelf, threatening to fall to the floor without a second notice. Brian reached for the one closest and studied it carefully, his vision blurred by the oncoming of tears that ceased to relent. Leighanne's usually calming smile still beamed out at him from behind the glass. Her flawless features only added to the beauty that had caught Brian's attention in the first place. A strangled sob escaped his lips as he gazed longingly. Guilt hit him hard in the chest. Anger gripped his heart and he sent the picture propelling against the wall. The glass shattered upon impact. He tore the rest of the pictures from the shelf, crying out in despair at the loud racket before sinking to his knees in the middle of the mess. He sobbed helplessly into his hands, his back heaving pathetically.

'God! Why?!' his mind screamed for the answer. How was he supposed to spend each moment with his family knowing it could possibly be the last chance he was able to? To know he would be there forever to protect his family, to see his son and unborn child grow, or to love his wife unconditionally like he had promised to do the day he married her. 'No, God, please no! Not now...I'm not ready to die!'


The moment she pulled up to the house, Leighanne had noticed something was wrong. Brian's car was already in the driveway and she had not expected him home until later in the evening. She was well aware of the group meeting that had been called and how hesitant Brian had been to go in the first place, but she had never expected him to be home this soon. Her nerves tensed as she directed the car along side Brian's in the circular drive.

"Look Mommy! Daddy is home!" Baylee called out from the back seat with a childish bout of excitement.

"Yes he is," Leighanne murmured in response, putting the vehicle in park and stepping out. She carefully pulled Baylee from the back and together they walked up to the front door. Baylee tugged impatiently at the hem of her shirt as she fumbled with the lock and bolted ahead the moment she began to push the door open. It was no surprise he was so quick to move inside. Her son had been especially attached to his father's side since Brian's return from the hospital, something Leighanne understood completely. She found herself dealing with her own feelings of seperation anxiety when she wasn't near Brian's side. As foolish as she sometimes felt, she couldn't help but fear the idea straying away from him at any point. His fragility had become all to aparent in the past weeks. It scared her more then anyone could possibly understand.

"Daddy! We are home!" Baylee yelled as he clumsily kicked his sneakers from his feet.

Leighanne paused just inside the door, stooping low to grasp the set of keys she found lying in her path. No sooner had she bent down did she hear a succession of crashes coming from the vicinity of the upstairs and she glanced wearily towards the stair case, eying the direction the racket had come from. Baylee even seemed to notice the unusualness of the disturbance as he looked back at his mother with curiosity shining in his eyes.

"What was that?" he asked in awe.

"I'm not sure sweetheart," Leighanne answered as she rose again. Placing the keys on the small stand beside the door, she walked over to her son, grabbed his hand and began moving towards the set of stairs as another loud crash rang from above. She held Baylee back as he tried to run ahead and they ascended slowly. "Baylee, wait," Leighanne scolded when they finally reached the top, but the child had already tore his hand away and took off running down the hall. She hurried after him and as she did, a new sound, sobs of anguish, entered her ears, surprisingly coming from the direction of her husband's office. Leighanne stopped just outside of the open doorway along side her son and peered inside. Her heart seemed to stop at the sight before her. The mess...the destruction...

"D-Daddy?" Baylee whimpered.

Leighanne quickly bent to her son's level, smoothing the soft curls away from his forehead. She could see the tears of confusion already brimming his eyes. "It's alright, baby. Daddy will be fine. You go play in your room while I talk to him, ok?" Baylee's bottom lip trembled as he turned and ran to his room without another word.


Soft hands came from nowhere and pulled him into a warm embrace. Brian yelped as he continued to sob pathetically within the safety of his wife's arms, clinging to her thin tshirt with all of the strength he had. Leighanne's voice drifted soothingly into his ears as she rocked his frail body back and forth. But Brian recognized the tinge of panic that coated her tone and the guilt overrid him once more. "Oh God Brian, talk to me!" Leighanne begged in a strained voice. Confusion nipped at the very depths of her soul, tantalizing fear tagging right along. She guided her hands carefully along her husband's shaking back, but failed in offering any sort of comfort.

Brian attempted to pull away, only to find his body not wanting to cooperate with his mind. All four limbs had resorted to feeling like jello, leaving him almost paralyzed as he cried out incoherent sentences. His heart hammered threateningly against his rib cage; the air around him became thicky and stuffy. "N-n-no! N-no!" Brian stammered through a series of hiccups. He felt like he was drowning, being dragged deeper and deeper below the surface. His lungs burned as if from the lack of oxygen and the room seemed to spin. It had to be one horrible carnival ride...a terrible nightmare he would wake up from any moment...

Leighanne's fingers ran soothingly through his tangled and sweaty locks of hair. "Baby, what is it?!" she demanded in a choked voice, fearing the absolute worse. She had learned since their nightmare had started that the worst case scenario was more plausible then anything. Knowing Brian was usually a master at hiding his feelings towards things that bothered him, but sitting there witnessing him in the state he was, sobbing like a new born baby...it sent chills along the entire length of her spine. She didn't even want to begin to imagine... "Sweetheart, what ever it is, you can tell me-"

"I don't have any time!" Brian finally cried out, hatefully shoving himself away from Leighanne's loving embrace. He felt the coldness of the room immediately envelop him as he stumbled back onto jagged pieces of glass scattered across the floor. Sharp pain shot through his right hand but he ignored it. An invisible grip tightened around his already knotted stomach and rung it like a sopping wet towel. His uninjured hand, shaking, shot to cover his mouth as he choked back several heart wrenching sobs, disoriented from every emotion that racked his soul. He could taste the sour bile rising at the back of his throat and he wanted nothing more at that moment then to just black out and be free from all the pain, all the impending heartache, all of the sadness Brian saw etched in his wife's beautiful eyes...

Brian clumsily climbed halfway onto his unstable feet before stumbling in the direction of the bathroom across the hall. His vision blurred, darkening around the edges and clearing before darkening around the edges once more. He didn't even bother with the light switch, unabl;e to prefer between a light and dark bathroom. He collapsed upon his knees in front of the porcelain bowl, leaning over just in time to release a powerful collection of sour projectile. 'God, just make it stop!' his mind screamed in pure agony as he continued to release the contents of his stomach. Brian's head protested against each heave, worsening the rising of his aching stomach.

Then just as quickly as it began, the throwing up halted and left Brian dry heaving until finally his energy drained away and he rested his heated forehead against the cool edge of the procelain bowl. He kept his eyes tightly shut, stubbornly refusing to open them and once again face his situation. A slight scuffle in the doorway announced his wife's arrival into the bathroom but he made no move. Leighanne was at his side in seconds, whispering words that Brian wasn't able to focus on. He just couldn't keep himself from wallowing in his deep pit of depression. Life as he knew it was coming to an end and the worst part about it was he didn't even know how soon that end would be.

A cool soft compress was carefully applied to the back of Brian's neck and he sighed almost inaudibly. He felt bouts of cold and hot flashes run through the course of his entire body, definitely signaling that his body temperature was not right. Beads of sweat dripped down his throbbing temples as he succombed to the relief the cold wash cloth produced. Brian folded an arm across the circumference of the toilet and allowed his forehead to rest on top his arm. The salty tears staining his cheeks were slowly coming to a halt, but somehow he knew they would never completely cease. The feeling of helplessness was overpowering...

Leighanne sat close to her husband, unable to produce the right words that would convey her exact concern. All she could do was sit there and watch every subtle change of emotion Brian expressed, fear taking its place over her heart. She removed the wash cloth from Brian's neck, already feeling the heat radiating, flipped it over, and once again pressed it gently against his skin. She bit down on her bottom lip, cringing at every weak whimper that emitted from her husband's throat, brushing back identical tears that were threatening the very corners of her eyes. Leighanne watched as Brian slowly turned his head, not once lifting it, and gazed up at her. For the first time since she had arrived home that day, she noticed the terrible bags residing under his eyes, the way his usually pristine white eyes with their azure orbs were now red and irritated. The skin upon his wan cheeks was blotched away from perfection and stinging by its apparent redness. The man hunched before her looked as if he had been reduced to a helpless and scared three year old that wanted nothing more then to be comforted and told that everything was alright. It completely shattered her heart.

Brian shuttered, grasping hold of his bearings. His chest rattled with each breath he inhaled, not to mention the fact that it felt heavy and weighed down. Exhaustion lay over him like a heavy winter blanket and for a moment he had quite the difficulty of keeping his eyes open. But he couldn't tear his gaze away from Leighanne's. He just kept staring, his dry lips parted for words. "I...I-I'm so s-sorry," Brian apologized hoarsely.

"For what?" Leighanne whispered, drawing the wash cloth away from Brian's neck as he sat up.

"For failing," Brian answered. He looked away before lying down and resting his head carefully in his wife's lap. Just the simple gesture seemed to rest the storm Brian was feeling as he folded his arms to his chest, rubbing his arms for warmth.

"I don't understand...Brian, what have you failed at?"

"My life with you and Baylee..." Brian trailed, once again clenching his eyes tightly together to stop the on rush of tears.

Leighanne's eyebrows furled in confusin as she brushed the matted hair away from his forehead. "Brian?" she questioned, racking her brain for clarification. Slowly her heart began to sink as Brian scooted closer to her.

Brian didn't answer, afraid of admitting the one thing he had been trying to deny all along.

Brian's silence brought everything to a complete halt. It was funny how the silence draping the bathroom could be so loud at times like this. It was also at that moment that Leighanne finally realized the true meaning behind her husband's emotional breakdown she had just witnessed, even despite the fact that her mind went into overdrive trying to deny what was the inevitable truth. She clasped a hand onto Brian's shaking shoulder, desperately trying to ignore the blurring tears that glazed over her eyes as her composure melted right in front of her. "Brian-"

"I'm dying," Brian interrupted feebly.

"Don't speak like that-"

"My heart is failing, Leigh-"

Leighanne shook her head, almost unbelieving. "Something will happen and we will get it all figured out," she tried desperately.

"But you heard what Dr. Henrich said. I need a transplant," Brian answered with a grimace of pain. "I know I am a fool for not going to that cardiac hospital, but if I don't have much time left, I want to be with my family. I am scared of being alone. God Leigh...I-I'm scared. I'm dying. I'm really dying..."

"Stop talking like that!"


"I'm not ready to lose you!"

Brian forced himself into a sitting position, immediately reaching to clutch his wife's trembling hands in his own. "Leigh, please, don't," he begged, his voice breaking as the tears finally began to slip from his wife's eyes. He pulled Leighanne into his arms, suddenly finding the roles reversed, which made the task all the more difficult when he right then more then anything needed and had no one to possibly comfort himself. "I don't want it to be like this," he whispered frantically into her ear as she sobbed into his shoulder. He could already feel her warm tears soaking the light material of his shirt. The dams of emotion burst open again, letting loose the flood gates to all of Brian's pent up pain and misery. "I don't want to die, Leigh!"

"You can't! Not like this!"

"I don't want to!" But there was no answer to receive. He'd managed to push his wife into a terrible bout of denial and Brian knew he was going right along with her. So he did the only thing he could think of and manage to do. He continued to let the tears roll, refusing the effort to stop them.