Summary: Sequel to "Fighting Fires." Three months after the ordeal in Los Angeles, Jeff Hardy is finally ready to start a new chapter of his life with Beth. But someone doesn't want him to and is determined to stop at nothing to put his plans on ice. Will Jeff be able to protect the one person he loves most? Jeff/Beth
Song: "Seasons" by The Veer Union
Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the WWE.
Author's Note: Okay, hopefully, you guys are all able to read this because Fanfiction is hopefully working! I just want to extend a warm welcome back to all those who read and enjoyed "Fires!" Thank you for checking out my first wrestling fic ever, and I hope you enjoy this one just as much. Of course, since it is a sequel, I have to ask you to read "Fires" first if you're just stumbling upon this one since it wouldn't make much sense otherwise. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you already know this, but I just want to make sure I give credit where credit is due. A huge, HUGE thank you to the hardy boyz lover and my older brother (coincidentally named Matt, lol) for their tremendous help for further developing this story. The "Melting Ice" you are about to read would not be the way it is without them, as they have helped me to make it awesome for your reading pleasure! Um, one more note, and then we'll get started! The poem "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost (one of my favorites) actually inspired the titles of these two stories, which is why it makes an appearance here. So, okay, now that everything's out of the way, I hope everyone enjoys this! You guys deserve it!
Chapter 1- What Hurts the Most
Artist: Rascal Flatts
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And will suffice
Matt Hardy smiled as he walked along a narrow path through the tress with his younger brother. It was a crisp winter day in Cameron, North Carolina, and the feeling of the cold air rushing into his lungs was refreshing. The area was beautiful this time of year with the pure white snow coating the bare trees and the frozen ground beneath his feet. It was a very peaceful time of year in his hometown.
Jeff Hardy kept in pace beside him, watching as his breath appeared before him in a small cloud due to the chill. He wasn't quite as comfortable with the cold as the older Hardy was, and he much preferred t-shirt and light sweatshirt weather compared to full-out winter. But, it wasn't unbearable, which was how he was still able to enjoy this rare walk with Matt.
"So, when do you think the house will be done?" Matt asked as they rounded the corner, the lake that bordered the younger Hardy's old home coming into sight.
"In a couple of weeks," Jeff answered with a broad smile. "It's a bit trickier in winter, but we're mainly doing interior stuff now. You know that Beth and I appreciate all that you've done for us during this difficult time, but we're also excited to get back into our own place."
"I can understand that," Matt said. "Having your own space gives you room to breathe."
"That it does," Jeff agreed. He paused on the trail for a moment, looking across the now frozen lake at the other side. Though there were no longer any remains, that was where the place his old house, his old life, used to stand. But now, everything was gone, and he and Beth were starting their new lives in only a couple short weeks. He took a deep breath, allowing the cold air to enter his lungs. The feeling was almost liberating.
"You okay, Jeffro?" Matt wondered, placing his hand on his brother's shoulder.
Jeff slowly nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine," he told him as he carefully walked down to the edge of the frozen lake. "I just can't believe the time that's gone by."
"Tell me about it," Matt muttered as he joined the younger Hardy, looking out at the still water. "It's crazy how fast time has gone."
"Feeling old?" Jeff teased with a smirk.
Matt laughed. "Are you kidding me? No way, Man! I have many years left ahead of me!" He reached out his hand and shoved his brother playfully while Jeff laughed.
Suddenly, Matt jumped and gasped when he heard a loud noise that sounded almost like a gunshot, and he wildly looked around to try to find its source as the echoes lingered in the air around him. Not able to find anything, the older Hardy slowly turned back to look at the younger man, but his face paled as his heart nearly stopped when he saw him, time seeming to slow to a stop.
He was lying on his back on the ice, his face deathly pale and his eyes wide open in shock as he gasped for air. It truly had been a gunshot… Matt quickly but carefully stepped out onto the frozen lake, kneeling down next to him and seeing with fear that there was blood blossoming on his chest. Why hadn't he brought his cell phone?! "Oh, God… Come on, Jeffro. Don't do this," he muttered anxiously, pressing his hands down on his chest in order to apply pressure to the wound. It felt like each breath the younger Hardy tried to get took a lot of effort. "Hold on, bro. Stay strong…"
When he heard the older Hardy's voice, Jeff slowly turned his head and looked up at him, his green eyes weary and filled with pain. "Ma… Matt…" he whispered weakly, talking also taking a tremendous amount of effort.
"Yes, Jeffro. I'm right here," Matt told him encouragingly as he continued to apply the pressure, his heart dropping when he watched his brother try to cry out with the pain he was feeling but didn't have the strength to. "And that's exactly what you need to do. Stay with me, little bro. Can you do that? Can you do that for me, Jeffro?"
"Matt…" Jeff's chest then began to heave forcefully under Matt's hands, and his anxiety spiked when he realized that the younger Hardy wasn't able to get enough oxygen into his lungs.
"Come on, Jeff, breathe!" he said, feeling tears rush to his eyes. "You have to breathe! Jeff, stay with me!"
A few more minutes seemed to slowly drag by where Matt worked frantically to try to sustain his brother, but it seemed that Jeff found that he didn't even have the strength to force himself to breathe anymore. Matt sensed this in this back of his mind, and he turned Jeff's face toward him with worry.
"Jeffro, don't you dare give up on me!" the older Hardy ordered, tears beginning to fall from his dark eyes. Ever since their mother had died when they were young boys, he had always taken care of his little brother, and that wasn't going to stop now. He couldn't let him die too. "Don't you leave me!"
There was intense pain written clearly all over Jeff's face as he struggled to breathe when he met Matt's intense gaze, but then, that was replaced with a look of something that resembled peace as he gave him a small smile. Matt watched with mounting dread as the younger Hardy shakily raised his tattooed hand and formed the older's main hand gesture before it fell limply back to the ice as he eyes closed and his head lolled limply to the side, his breath escaping him.
Matt felt as though his own heart stopped in that moment as time once again sped up to its normal pace. He fearfully looked down at his trembling hands, seeing that Jeff's crimson blood had stained them, and he reached forward and desperately shook him. "Jeff, please," he begged quietly as more tears escaped from him. "Jeff, no… You can't do this, Jeff. Jeff… Jeff!"
But it was no use, no matter how much he shook him, how much he yelled. He got no response from the younger Hardy. He wasn't moving, wasn't breathing. Jeff was gone.
No, Jeff. Don't… Please…" Matt began to sob as he held his baby brother's lifeless body close to him, cradling his head against his chest. "Jeff… you can't leave… Please, Jeff…"
This couldn't be happening. Jeff couldn't be dead. But Matt knew he was. His limp form in his arms told him he was as he put his forehead on top of his purple hair and continued to cry. He knew that he had failed to save the one person that meant the world to him. His brother, his confidant, his best friend… had been brutally taken from him before his very eyes.
Why did it have to be Jeff when he had so much left to live for? If there was any justice in the world, Matt knew that it should have been him that had taken the bullet, not Jeff. Never Jeff. He was the younger brother, and there was no reason why he should have had to die before him. That wasn't the natural order of things. Jeff had entered the world after him, and he should have left it after him. Not now. Not like this.
But no matter how unfair it was, Matt knew that there was nothing he could do. No matter how much he wanted to go back in time to save his brother by taking the bullet for him if he had to, this could not be undone. As Matt knelt sobbing on the ice, holding the younger Hardy close to him and kissing his cold forehead, he knew that he would never see Jeff again. He would never see that mischievous glint or that special spark of life in Jeff's stunning green eyes again. He would never hear Jeff laugh at or along with him again.
Jeff was dead.
Matt quickly sat up in bed, tears falling from his dark eyes as silent sobs shook his body. That nightmare had been terrible. It had seemed so real- the dread of his little brother's life slipping away from under his hands still lingering in his mind. Jeff's pale face… his crimson-stained hands… He would never forget those images for as long as he lived.
Granted, it hadn't been the first time he had a dream where Jeff's life was ended in front of him, but it had been much worse, much clearer, than the first. The first nightmare had taken place after their fateful trip to Los Angeles almost three months before once they were safely home in Cameron. In that dream, he had arrived too late to save Jeff from the burning attic of the apartment building where the obsessed Brittany Howe and her father had kept Beth captive. In that dream, it had been Eric Howe who had taken his brother's life, and he was almost sure that it was the same man that had fired the gun that had snatched it away again this time.
Eric Howe. Matt couldn't think that name without the memories of that night haunting his mind. His last, forceful punch that had caused the man to fall to the stairs… Eric being engulfed in flames and crying out in agony as he ran out of sight… Though he desperately tried to forget about what happened, about what he had done, the thought somehow still crept its way to the surface of his mind. And now, it appeared that it was doing that through his nightmares.
Matt sighed heavily as his tears finally stopped, and he sniffed as he quickly wiped them away. There was nothing to worry about, he reasoned with himself. Eric was dead, Brittany was in prison, and Jeff was just fine. The danger was gone.
But still, the older Hardy couldn't shake the feeling of dread left over from that nightmare, and the feeling was so strong that he was drawn out of bed. He left his room and entered the hallway, lit only by the light from the moon coming through the window, and he wandered to the door that was next to his. After merely staring at it for a long moment, Matt slowly turned the knob and pushed open the door, closing it again behind him after he entered.
In the soft light, he saw that they were both sleeping, Beth wrapped securely in Jeff's tattooed arm. Matt sighed as he watched them, now feeling completely reassured. The quiet whisper of the even breaths his brother took calmed his nerves since they were so different than his gasps for air in his dream. Not sure if he could fall back asleep but feeling much more relaxed now, Matt turned and quietly pulled open the door as he made to leave the room.
"What are you doing, Matt?"
Matt turned back around at the sound of the nearly silent question, and he was surprised to see Jeff's sleepy, green eyes gazing at him with wonder as he propped himself up on one arm. "Nothing really, Jeffro," he muttered with a small smile. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
"Nah, Man, I heard you come in," Jeff said quietly so he wouldn't wake Beth. "The restless feeling in my legs makes it difficult to sleep sometimes. But what were you doing in here anyway?"
He knew Jeff had a feeling that something was bothering him, and he also knew that he couldn't keep what was on his mind from his brother for long. "Can… can we talk?"
Jeff looked up at the older Hardy with surprise. There weren't many times when he came to ask him this. He knew that there was definitely something wrong now. "Sure, Matt." He slowly and carefully climbed out of bed, kissing Beth's cheek and making sure she was still covered from the chill so she would remain asleep before throwing a t-shirt on and joining his brother. "Let's go, Man."
Matt sighed as he entered the hallway shortly followed by Jeff, and they went down to the kitchen together. The older Hardy turned on the light, and the younger was momentarily blinded by the brightness as he covered his face. After a moment, Jeff sighed and shook his head as he lowered his hands again, ready to talk to his brother.
"All right, what's bothering you, Man?"
Though it was a relatively simple question, Matt found that it was extremely difficult to answer. He sighed again as he opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of beer, opening it and taking a long sip before he turned to face Jeff. What could he say? It wasn't going to be easy. He almost felt like these dreams were a weakness.
"I just had a nightmare, Man, that's all."
"Well, tell me about it," Jeff said as he leaned back against the bar, watching as Lucas sleepily entered the kitchen and approached his brother.
Matt looked at the younger Hardy for a long moment as he took another sip of beer. "Have… have you had dreams about what happened three months ago?" he asked hesitantly.
Jeff sighed as he tightened his ponytail. "Yeah, Man," he answered quietly. "But they aren't so bad. Like, basically all they've been is I keep running into Brittany everywhere I go."
"I wish mine were like yours," Matt muttered. "Mine are much worse…"
"What were they?" Jeff was staring to feel a bit nervous. He had never seen the older Hardy this shaken up before.
Matt sighed. It wasn't going to be easy telling his brother that he had seen him die. "The one three months ago was basically that I was too late to save you from the attic," he explained quietly, taking a bit of a longer drink of beer this time. Jeff nodded in understanding, urging him to continue. "But the one I just had…" His sentence trailed off, the horror of his dream still fresh in his mind.
Jeff sighed. "You can tell me, Man," he said with a slight smile. "I won't take it as some sort of omen or something, don't worry."
The older Hardy laughed a little in spite of himself as a thin line of tears formed in his dark eyes. "Well, we were just walking along the trail by the lake, talking about how you and Britt were going to move into your new house in a couple weeks," Matt told him, not able to meet his brother's gaze. "Then… you were shot, Jeff. I tried to help, but… I couldn't…" His sentence trailed off again as his voice broke and a single tear fell from his eye.
The younger Hardy looked at his brother for a long moment before sighing and wrapping his arm around his shoulders. Matt felt a few more tears fall from his eyes before they stopped, and he took a deep breath as he nodded to Jeff to show him he was okay.
"It was just a dream, Matt."
Matt sighed. "I know," he whispered, if anything, just to prove the fact to himself. "It was just so clear…"
"Well, we've got nothing to worry about, Man," Jeff assured him with a smile. "That bitch is in jail, her father never made it out of that apartment building, and we're home safe and sound. Okay?"
"Yeah, we are," Matt agreed with a smile, giving his brother a quick, one-armed hug. "Thanks, Man."
"Of course. But, I'm probably going to try to get some sleep now. Talk to you in the mornin', Man."
"Okay. Good night, Jeffro."
Matt watched as his brother left the kitchen before sighing and looking down at Lucas, who had been trying to get his attention during his whole conversation with Jeff. "What?" he asked, bending over a little as the dog began to jump up and down in excitement. "Do you wanna' go outside?"
That was the magic word. Lucas happily barked once before scurrying out of the kitchen, heading for the door. Mat laughed a little to himself, following him into the living room. He was certainly a little bundle of energy. He opened the front door, watching as Lucas dashed outside, stumbling a little in the snow. Matt slipped his shoes on and went out after him, squinting in the darkness to try to keep the little dog in sight. He shivered in the cold air, watching as his breath appeared before him in a small cloud. Talking to Jeff had helped him get over his nightmare, and the winter chill was also waking him up more and allowing him to leave the dark dream behind. It was refreshing.
Then, Matt's eyes narrowed in concern when he heard Lucas beginning to bark. It sounded different than the one of excitement he had heard in the kitchen. This one sounded angry.
"Lucas!" Matt called, walking quickly through the snow in the direction his dog had gone. "Lucas!"
The barking continued, and Matt soon found him standing in front of a line of trees, growling quietly as he looked at something in the shadows before him intently. "What's up, buddy?" he asked as he stopped a small distance behind the fuzzy, white dog. "What's there?" But before he could reach for him, Lucas suddenly whined with fear and backed away from the trees before he began to run as if retreating from something.
"Whoa!" Matt quickly bent over and grabbed Lucas before he could get past him, grateful for the dog's clumsiness in the snow. But, he was alarmed to feel that he was shaking. "What's wrong, buddy? What did you see?" At first, the older Hardy had assumed that he had only been barking at a small animal or something, but now, he didn't think so.
Matt looked into the trees, squinting to see in the darkness. For a long moment, he couldn't see anything. But then, he saw what he thought was a glint of metal, but it disappeared as soon as it appeared. Unsure if he had actually seen anything or not, Matt kissed Lucas' head to try to calm him down, holding the dog close to him as he turned and hurried back toward the house as quickly as he could.
Author's Note: Wouldn't it have been terrible if I ended it with that first section? Lol, I'm not that evil… yet. Anyway, things aren't looking the best for dear Matt right now. Let's hope they improve. Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated.