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Unconditional

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Vaughn was right about one thing; Trev had never liked Bryan but he could bet that Vaughn didn't know the reason why. It had nothing to do with Bryan being a... How did Renee put it? A dumb puppy, sentimental and talentless, nor had it anything to do with the fact that Bryan was a shitty best friend who'd been screwing Vaughn's wife for almost six months behind Vaughn's back. He disliked Bryan because Vaughn would forgive Bryan anything, even after being caught with his pants down and his dick up Renee.

Bryan had fucked up so many times during the twenty-three years they had known each other, from simple things like forgetting to show up for a night out with the boys, to marrying that bitch of a wife, Heather, who had only learned to tolerate Vaughn once he had introduced her to Renee. Just like Renee, Heather had hated the 'boys night out', hated the thought of her puppy out in the world without her hanging onto his leash so she could keep tabs on how he was spending 'their' money, and she especially hated Vaughn until Vaughn met Renee and the two women became close friends.

Trev snorted. He could happily lay down another bet that Heather's friendship with Renee would be over shortly, once she realized her precious dumb puppy had been wagging his dick for Renee for the past six months.

Through all those fuck ups down the years, Vaughn had bitten back the angry words whenever he saw Bryan, unwilling to break up their friendship no matter how much it annoyed him to see Bryan belittled and emasculated by Heather. Instead he'd obviously vented his frustrations to Renee, unwittingly giving up all those secrets, never once expecting them to be thrown back in his and Bryan's faces and used against him. For why else would Renee start an affair with Bryan? Why else would she come here to confront Vaughn in his lair other than to steal his shitty but beloved best friend from right under his condescending nose.

Trev swallowed down more of the ice cold drink, head reeling from too much alcohol and too much anguish as his thoughts turned to his own predicament.

Eventually someone would track him down and demand the thirty thousand dollars he owed in gambling debts, money that he didn't have, and then they would kill him - slowly and painfully - making him an example to all those others who couldn't pay up on time. He lifted the hand gun and pulled the trigger, the sound cracking the early morning silence, echoing across the iced-over lake as he skated around a little more, his feet almost tangling and bringing him down. Thoughts of Bryan filled him with bitterness because he could bet Vaughn would have lent the money to Bryan had he come to him with those big puppy-blue eyes begging for help.

He let off another shot. How many was it now? Three, four? He'd lost count but it didn't matter because he had more bullets in his pocket.

It should have been joyous, seeing Bryan verbally flayed alive by Vaughn, watching Vaughn finally be a man and hit back at the bastard screwing his wife. Instead, all Trev could recall was the childlike look of betrayal and disbelief on Bryan's face after Vaughn gut-punched him, before Vaughn's fist connected with Bryan's face to knock him to the floor. Yes, it should have felt so good to see Bryan on the floor curled up in pain but instead, Trev had felt empty, and even his self-righteous sneers to Bryan later had not filled the hollowness inside.

Suddenly Vaughn was in front of him demanding the gun, asking why Trev was blaming him for the actions of their abusive father. He gave a bitter laugh. Vaughn really didn't understand how much he had grown to be like their dad with his need to control everything and everyone; how he had turned that damn elk chair into a throne to lord it over his friends and all he surveyed.

And maybe that was why he'd found no pleasure in seeing Vaughn strike out at Bryan, seeing a reflection of his angry and heavy-fisted father in Vaughn, and himself in Bryan. He placed the end of the barrel against his temple and pulled the trigger only to hear an empty click.

Loser, loser, loser. He could hear the words reverberating inside his head. He couldn't even attempt to kill himself without fucking it up, and he didn't get the chance to reload before Vaughn was on top of him, tearing the gun from his grip.

As he lay on the ice alone, his mind almost as numb as his cold body, he remembered the hard contempt in Vaughn's eyes for him and compared it to the looks of anguish and regret Vaughn aimed at Bryan after the one-sided fight. So much revealed to anyone with the eyes to see it, with poor Vaughn and Bryan as clueless to the love they shared as Steve and Jon, neither understanding that their interest in Renee was but a pale copy of their deeply hidden feelings for each other.

Trev sobbed quietly, no longer under any illusion that he meant something to Vaughn. He was his brother's flesh and blood but whether Vaughn ever truly realized it or not, Bryan had claimed his brother's heart and soul.

As the freezing water closed over Trev's head he wished he had told Vaughn the true reason why he disliked Bryan so much.

He disliked Bryan because he had needed that unconditional love and forgiveness from Vaughn too.

END