A/N: None of the characters in this piece belong to me; they're Neil Gaiman's and Terry Pratchett's. Guess what song I've had on repeat play lately? ;)
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
When I look back now, all my best memories seem to blur into one. One long hot summer afternoon spent in the Pit, or on our bikes, or generally causing havoc. I know that… odd things happened towards the end of the summer I turned eleven, and that it was all to do with Adam, but when I try to remember it more clearly, I always find that I can't. Anyway, nothing really changed as a result, so what does it matter? I was happy, perfectly happy, that year and for several af-ter.
I remained close to my boys, and mortal enemies with Greasy Johnson's gang, until well after we left school. In our teenage years, I went out with each of the male Them, briefly, but each time, we agreed that we were better off simply as friends. We all took the same GCSEs, and the same A-levels, and all went to the same university (as we had agreed, aged sixteen). Wensley took applied maths; Brian, media studies; I took English literature; and Adam, law. He was going to be a barrister, he had decided, and work to change the world from the bottom up.
It was at university that our world went horribly, irreparably wrong.
Adam… dedicated, idealistic Adam… didn't live to see his 21st birthday.
He was walking back alone to the house the four of us shared one night, through the centre of town, when it happened. He was not the only one who heard the screaming, but he was the only one who chose to do anything to help the girl. In typical Adam style, he waded straight in and tried to pull the man off her. But her attacker had a knife, and in the chaos of the moment, before any of them really knew what was happening, it was hilt-deep in Adam's chest.
And so it was that all that beautiful, golden-bright life bled out of him in a dark al-ley, as he was cradled by the girl he'd tried to help. She called an ambulance, of course, but it came too late to save him.
It still breaks my heart to know that he could have achieved so much, and yet he died so needlessly and so young. But I take some small comfort from the knowl-edge that he did what he set out to do that night: the girl told the police that her attacker had fled in terror of what he had done, and left her alone, which was all Adam wanted.
The funeral was held in Tadfield, of course. Where else, when we’d all been happiest there? Anathema and Newt came with their little ones, and so did Mr Crowley and Mr Phale, and so, to my surprise, did Greasy Johnson and every-one from his old gang. Enemies we may have been, but my childhood would not have been the same without them there. As I once told Adam, "Everyone needs a Greasy Johnson". I suppose they felt the same way about us, and came to pay their last respects to a worthy enemy and kind-of friend.
When things had settled down, Brian, Wensley and I went back to university. We attended the memorial service they gave for Adam, and we finished our degrees, and we graduated as if things were normal. But nothing was ever the same without Adam there. He was the driving force behind our gang and our friend-ship, and when he was gone, we just… drifted apart. It was a slow process, and none of us really noticed it was even happening until we weren't living together and seeing each other every day.
After graduation came real life. Wensley became a chartered accountant, as everyone had expected since he was about seven. Brian joined the army, and got his commission relatively quickly. I hear he's doing really well, shooting up the ranks like they don't exist. I'm a teacher now, and engaged. He's a wonder-ful man, and he loves me. I know I'll be happy with him, I do. But something's been missing since the night Adam died, and I don't think I'll ever get it back.
I no longer see Wensley, or Brian - at least, not often. We meet occasionally at school or university reunions, and we talk about the old days, but it's not the same. Our lives have drifted too far apart, and we are no longer the people we were. But I still dream of Tadfield, and long hot days in the Pit, and the way things used to be. I still mourn the loss of the only brothers I've ever had. Adam is dead, and the other two are lost to me, perhaps forever. But I still have my memories, and those I will never lose.
Oh yes, I remember - I will always remember. My life is good enough, even without my boys. I am happy, really. But for one glorious summer when I was eleven years old, everything was absolutely perfect in a way it's never been since. Perfection like that doesn't come twice in one lifetime. For many people, it doesn't even come once. But I had it - and it was Wensley, Brian, and above all Adam who gave it to me. Even if I never see Brian or Wensley again, I know the value of what we shared as children, and so, I'm sure, do they. We remember. And I, for one, will never forget.