Author's Note:Omg this is the end of a long and well... long journey. Thank you to each and every single one of you who read and reviewed because as an aspiring writer it helps for self-esteem and confidence. I started this during the Summer and now I've finished it near Christmas! Wow... anyway, thanks again and I'll probably do another story I mean, I'm bursting with ideas but I think I'm gonna wait a while until work lets up. This last chapter is done obviously in the future, hence the title but it deals more with the siblings as a threesome now that Joe's gone. So for the last time, read and don't forget to review! ;)
Chapter 25 – Ten Years Later
February 22nd 2010
Jamie sat beside the vast pit which was soon to be Joe's resting place; his feet dangling lifelessly off the edge. Somewhere down there, if he leaned over deep enough, he would catch a glimpse of the pinewood coffin in which his brother was sleeping eternally. But he didn't want to look. Not now not ever. The sky was beginning to darken, echoing Jamie's mood, all he could do was stare into the blackening sky. Was this really happening? Was Joe really dead?
He needed to get out. He just couldn't stand being in that house any longer, everyone sidling up to him awkwardly, telling him what a great guy Joe was, how sorry they are for his loss, their thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and very politely asking if he was sure that changing careers at this point in time was a wise move. God, did Jamie need to get out of there. After snaking a couple of anti-depressants from the bathroom, he managed to slip out. Sydney was busy receiving the condolences which Jamie couldn't do any more of, so she didn't notice him leaving.
Jamie felt the footsteps approaching before he could hear them. He felt Danny sit down on his left side and then he felt Erin sit down on his left. And for the first time since Joe died, he actually didn't feel alone anymore.
"Hey kid, Dad sent me out lookin' for you." Danny said softly, he nudged his kid brother. "Why are you sitting here all by yourself."
Jamie shrugged, "I don't know," he answered truthfully. "It sure beats being back at the house."
Erin sniffed and rested her head on his shoulder as the three of them stared bleakly into the empty pit.
"He's not coming back is he?" Jamie asked monotonously, after a minute's silence.
Danny cleared his throat. "No kid. No he's not."
"What do you – what do you think he's doing now?" Jamie asked inaudibly.
"Joe? Probably watching over us now," Erin replied with a tiny smirk. "With Ma and Grandma, Nana and Granddad Seamus. Happy. And at peace."
"Yeah," Danny agreed, "He's at peace. And he'll want us to be at peace too."
"No!" Jamie shook his head fiercely, "Never gonna happen."
"But this is what it means to grieve Jamie," Erin said tenderly, resting her chin on his shoulder so she could see him, "First we'll deny it – but then we'll come to terms with it. Remember when Grandma got sick? Grandpa spent three weeks in hospital praying she'll make it through but she died. He was devastated. But he pulled through it. And Ma... well, we didn't see that one coming. We all just – gotta stick together and have faith, in each other and God -"
"God!" Jamie spat. "Why? What for? For taking away our mother and brother in the space of three years?"
"Hey! Kid…" Danny rested his hand on his brother's shoulder, "We can't just blame God for everything that's gone wrong in our lives. These things happen. We all knew the consequences of the job. I mean this was Ma's worst nightmare. I'm thankful she's not here to see it but – Dad – to outlive his son like that – and Grandpa – outliving your kids is one thing but your grandkids?"
"What's your point?" Jamie said in annoyance.
"My point is that we need to band together and show them how strong we all are! We're all that's left now. Just us three."
"It just – it feels so – so…" Jamie gritted his teeth to stop himself from screaming, "It feels so empty without him. Like we're not whole and we'll never be again. Whenever we're together it'll always feel like there's something missing."
"I know," Danny said painfully. "This one's gonna hurt like hell for a long time but we can get through this, I know we can."
"You know we were so worried about you Jamie," Erin said anxiously, "You just took off – we didn't know where you had gone! Or- or what you had…"
Jamie snorted, "What? You thought I tried to top myself?"
"No!" Danny lied, "Don't you dare talk like that!"
They lapsed into a melancholy silence for the longest time.
"Remember Bachman?" Jamie said suddenly. Danny and Erin exchanged a concerned glance at each other.
"Yes," Erin answered tentatively, "What about him?"
"I tried to save him you know," Jamie said with a small smile.
"What do you mean?" Erin pressed gently.
"I haven't told anyone. Not since that night." Jamie sighed heavily. He could see the moon peeking out at them from behind the trees. "It's so stupid. It's people like him that are the reason Joe's lying in that casket right now. He could never be saved!"
"Hey, don't you beat yourself up over that piece of crap now!" Danny scolded. "He was a psychopath. And you know," Danny let out a low rumble of laughter, "If it wasn't for Joe – Bachman would've killed me."
"You never told me that!" Erin chided in surprise.
Danny just nodded. "It's true."
"Yeah, it- it is." Jamie said quietly. "I remember."
"So are you still sure you wanna go through with being a cop?" Erin asked anxiously. "I mean – you know what it's like, you've seen it first hand -"
"Hey, hey, hey," Danny reprimanded, "Let the kid make his own mind up and live his own life. You sound like Ma."
Erin raised her eyebrows, "My point. Ma didn't want him to become a cop."
"And my point – it's Jamie's life and he can do what he wants -!"
"Okay 'he's' sitting right here trying to grieve!" Jamie interrupted sharply. Danny and Erin effectively shut up.
"Sorry." Erin apologized.
"That's okay. You know Erin, thinking about Joe. And Bachman - everything that happened back then. I was just a kid. I didn't know what I wanted." Jamie turned to his sister with a sincere smile, "But I do now. I was on the brink of actually getting Bachman to confess. I think I'll make a good cop."
"Of course you will!" Danny praised, shoving his brother encouragingly. "And you know I'll always be here if you need my help. And that goes for Dad and Grandpa too."
"If it's what you want then…" Erin broke into a warm smile, "I think you'll make a great cop too."
"Good, so now that's cleared up I am so ready to get out of here!" Danny exclaimed, standing up and dusting dirt off his good suit. "Cemeteries always did give me the creeps."
"Let's pay our respects to Ma and Grandma first," Erin said, letting Danny help her up.
"Kid, you coming?"
Jamie stared at Joe's grave one last time before nodding. "Sure." He let Danny help him to his feet. "I need a drink."
"I don't think that's such a good idea -!" Erin started quickly but stopped at the look on Danny's face.
"I'll be okay." Jamie murmured. "I haven't been – sleeping well at all." He let out a bitter laugh of irony. "I haven't done that since I was sixteen."
"Well I'm not gonna let you out of my sight and go off the rails again this time kid!" Danny vowed. "From now on - big brother's officially watching you."
As they walked out of the cemetery together, ready to start their new lives without their brother, Jamie knew that he would make one hell of an awesome cop. Not just for himself, or his father or Sydney or even his brother and sister – but for the city. And for the people who needed him.