Nine – Why
They say love keeps on growing I know why the heart gets lonely Tell me why the road keeps turning
It's the one thing that I've felt I've always known
Cause it wouldn't matter where you're going
Cause where you are is where I wanna go
Every time you give your love away
And if you think that you are only
A shadow in the wind
Rolling round but when you go and let somebody in
They might fade away
When everything you want is straight ahead
And every thing I thought worth learning
Is forgotten when I see your face instead
I know why the heart gets lonely
Tell me why the road keeps turning
- Sheryl Crow, "I Know Why"
"You didn't have to get this."
Leo, flopped out on the couch, just grinned, absolutely loving the stunned look in David's eyes and loving that he had shocked him this well with just the gift. When he had promised to replace it, they had both known better than to hope that the younger man would be able to remember what it was he was supposed to do anyway.
Leo himself had no idea how he had remembered but he had and the look when David had unwrapped it had been more than he could hope for. Leaning forward, he stood, stretching arms over his head as he nodded to the record. "The guy said it was some special edition… something about it never being played and all."
"Jesus, Leo… it wasn't worth all that much."
"Well, if you don't want it…" When he took a step forward, the doctor actually scrambled away, shooting his younger brother a lethal look. Stomping down the ridiculous urge to giggle, Leo wiped his mouth hard, hoping it wiped away the grin. "Okay then… I brought it for you and it's a gift. I don't want you to pull any 'this is too much' or 'I didn't really need it' crap."
Dark eyes met his and he lifted an eyebrow in quiet amusement. "I saw you face when I scratched it, David. You looked like you wanted to cry and, I swear to God, your lip was beginning to quiver. Now what kind of brother would leave a surgeon to suffer like that when he has the money to make it up to him?"
"I've got the money, Leo, you know I'm never exactly lacking in funds… I could have brought a new one…"
"Yeah, but I'm the one that messed up the old one. Look, I know you love it, I can tell by the look on your face but please don't ruin it by doing any of those things you do all the time. Please, okay, don't ruin the moment." He reached out, tapped a finger very lightly on the pristine record and smiled lightly. "This is for you, my gift for you… no strings, okay, just me trying to be a good brother."
David shot him a look, an odd something in the back of his gaze and then, abruptly, he looked away again, clearing his throat. Leo had gotten to those times, when he suddenly jerked away and, although they were getting rarer, they still popped up every so often. "You don't have to worry about that… you've got the 'good brother' thing down."
"Are you sure about this?"Autumn glanced over at the other girl, shooting her a disgusted look and then proceeded to shove the key into the ignition, starting up her father's car with a flourish. Revving it, she checked her reflection in the rearview mirror, nodding to herself as she flicked at strands of her dark hair.
Satisfied for the moment, she adjusted it, rolling her shoulders before, grinning, she pulled out of the garage, noting how easy it was for the fifteenth time. Between buying more clothes for Mom and pulling strings, Daddy really didn't care if Autumn took his car out because, really, he never noticed it was gone.
She took the turn out of the Taber estate with a quick spin of the wheel and, ignoring the yelp of pain from the backseat, not to mention the sound of a head cracking a door full-force, she slammed her foot down on the gas, heart jumping into her throat when the car shot forward, a blur of shiny black steel.
It was always easy enough to rope the other two girls into one of these drives, and she knew exactly which buttons to push and strings to pull to get her way with the others. Moreover, she was worth way more money and everybody in town knew it. Sure, the Tabers may not be up the Chandler or Cortlandt standards but they were still pretty damn rich and weren't afraid to show it.
Most nights, when she could get out of the house, were spent somewhere nobody would find her, with people who didn't know her and didn't care that they didn't know her, only that she was there and open to suggestions. She'd long since grown tired of that, except for those special circumstances that popped up every so often, and found that this kind of speed was truly a rush.
"Maybe you should slow down, Autumn."
Looking up, she met the blonde's eyes calmly, cocking an eyebrow in challenge before, with a smirk, she increased her speed even more, exploding out of the roads and into the traffic, skin heating at the explosion of horns and angry screams that greeted her appearance, along with a shriek of tires somewhere right behind her.
Nobody made an entrance like Autumn Taber.
Pushing her speed as far as she could, she swept up and into the highway, swerving into the main lain and, with a smirk on her face, she glanced at the girl in the passenger seat, cocking that eyebrow again in smug delight. "What were you two saying about me and my speed?"
They exchanged looks of weary wariness that made her clench her jaw and look back at the expense of not-so open road stretching out before her. They were pathetic, too afraid to do anything other than follow her around like she was a little leader… which she was, of course, but that wasn't the point.
She needed intellectual equals.
Emotion wasn't something she liked and there it came again, that damn flood of something she didn't like, hated in fact, and couldn't quite put a name to, despite her best tries to identify it. However, she knew full well that she hated it and wished, more than anything, that it would stop popping up every few minutes.
And, like always, after that weird something came the anger, something thick and ugly that, when she caught her reflection in the mirror, filled her eyes and made them look even darker than they were usually. It choked her and she drew in a sharp breath, almost light-headed with the force that had ripped it out of her body in the first place.
"Shut up!" she snapped, not quite sure why she was so angry but knowing that she was and intending to do something about it. When her eyes caught sight of the other car, turning, there was a rush of something, a sudden explosion of giddiness somewhere inside her and, making a short, breathless noise in her throat, she gripped the steering wheel with a viselike force, straightened and proceeded to slam full force into the passenger side of the Corvette stupid enough to be crossing in front of her.
For the second time that day, Greenlee found herself making a beeline for the closet in David's bedroom, leaving the coffee on the bedside table and simply gazing into the closet with brown eyes, catching her lip between her teeth and chewing for a few moments before giving in.
There were the shirts that she had the insane urge to pull on, just because, and a couple of his suits, all well-made and expensive but not at all overly rich looking, something most of the men she had grown up with had never been able to really achieve. Reaching up, she rubbed her face with the heel of her hand before parting the shirts, looking for anything that might hold her interest.
Fat, it seemed, was going to laugh at her and she found her eyes glued to the box in the right corner of the closet, far in the back and sitting there, simply letting its presence be known fearlessly. She glanced back at David, contemplating. If there was one thing David would understand, it would be the art of the always important scouting mission.
They were both good at getting the dirt on people who pissed them off and, while it had been a while since Greenlee had felt any real urge to fall back into old, familiar habits, she felt that urge now, a strangely exciting blend of nostalgia at those precious memories of spying to get her way and embarrassment that she had so long denied the inner working of the Greenlee Smythe mind.
Quietly, crouching, she grabbed the box and dragged it out, shooting one last look at David. He stirred, very lightly, the smallest bit and she looked back at the box, a deep cardboard container with a flip-down lid and a piece of masking tape across the top. She couldn't identify what it said, the Sharpie marker was too old for that but it caused yet another flick of giddy curiosity to light up in her.
Deciding that David had to be dead drunk, and sincerely hoping he was, she pushed open the top, shifting how she sat to let the light reach it and then frowning as she stared at what had to dozens of records, raising her eyebrows as she stared at the first fading name, some old Eric Clapton thing… whoever the hell he was.
She was half-way through, and on an old copy of something from the Eagles, when she finally realized what this meant.
She found herself grinning like an idiot when she turned and glanced at him again, sitting forward on her knees to catch sight of his face. She could just barely see it but she could and it made her, if anything, grin with even more childish glee, fingers still holding her place through the vinyl records.
David was a music fan.
With renewed vigor, she went back to her study, giving each a sure once-over before going to another. She was mildly impressed by several finds from the Doors and the small but impressive collection of Bob Dylan classics made her smile slightly in real pleasure, something she hadn't felt in a while.
Any worry she might have had fled when she found the Stones, in the back but still clearly important. Greenlee was no real classics fan, not really, but she was also an ever loyal fan of the Stones and, while she might go to long lengths to keep others from finding out that she had more than a few times snuck out of her house as a teenager to go to concert, she was grateful to see David did, indeed, have a taste for the finest.
Finding out what Ryan thought of Mick Jagger—his exact words had been, "He's that guy with the weird lips, right?"—had proved to be the moment Greenlee had realized how easy it would be to beat him over the head with one of the candles on the mantle, dump his body in the mines and flee to become one of Mick's many groupies.
The rest of that day had been spent taunting Kendall with her wedding ring but, still, the bad taste of Ryan's musical bad taste lingered even now.
Frowning suddenly, she stopped, noticing the still wrapped record in the back and, making room with the others, she studied it intently, rubbing a thumbnail along it thoughtfully. There were others there, two or three from this same guy but this one was still carefully wrapped and, with a sudden odd something in her chest, she laid it back against the back of the box, letting the other records cover it again.
She at there, staring at the collection for long moments before she heard a shift of movement, jerking around to peer at her dead husband's brother and simply froze there, silent and still, picking her way through thoughts and memories and putting some of them into the back of her mind.
On some level, she was confused, confused by a lot of things, especially the fact that, hey, this was her dead husband's brother. Except, going with that, he was the only one in the town who really understood that at all, fully grasped just what it was she and her husband had shared and continued to share even if Leo was gone, far gone now.
Shoving the box back into the back, she fiddled with the contents of the closet, checking it twice before turning and heading back to the bed, wondering how much coffee he might need to do anything other than grunt under his breath. Besides, all she wanted was to have a little talk with him and then, if he wanted, he could fall back into the drunken haze.
AN: A few notes on this chapter that you had to wait so long for. First, I went through three full rewrites of this chapter, if anyone's curious and each of the others didn't seem to flow right for me. Even this one doesn't really click completely for me but it goes a lot better than the other versions.
Also, there was a song suggestion—you know who you are, my friend—and, at first, I was just gonna include the lyrics. However, upon further thought—and with the help of several packs of Pop Rocks—I came up with a way to use the song as a connection to several other aspects. Some of you probably have some idea of where I'm going with this and it will be coming back a few times.
Anyway, I need some in-depth thoughts on a few aspects of this from my reviewers and I'm counting on you. I know how the big face-off will be written but feedback is needed and I hope that it will be provided. So, in conclusion, I'm looking for reviews, feedback, pokes with the constructive criticism stick and anything else offered up. Thank you and stay patient for the next update, which should be, if RL permits it, more quickly coming.