It's an extremely beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest.
I give it another 12 hours before it hails or rains or what have you. :)
Bad News: Walk in's compressor tanked finally.
Good News: $1500 later it'll be right as rain.
Bad News: $1500 later...
So here's another update for your viewing pleasure. My eyes are getting old and I swear I've gone over and over this thing but if you find anything wrong, please let me know. I won't take offense.
******SPOILER WARNING*******This is about two parallel worlds. One which we know about and another that our Brian has found himself in. There will be a major character death in the other world - actually - there already has been. There is nothing squicky, per se. It's just a dark story. Our boys will still be together in the end and no, they won't be dead but very much alive - this is the best way I can think of to show once and for fucking all how much Brian Kinney wants to be with Justin Taylor. Just trust me but yes, this will get angsty. *******SPOILER WARNING*********
Title: Through a Mirror Darkly
Pairing: Brian/Justin - duh!
Warnings: Character Death but not what you think.
Summary: Takes a strange turn at the end of Episode 217, when Brian goes to tell Justin about his new partnership.
Disclaimers: I don't own Cowlip or the boys. But I own a new compressor for my walk-in.
Author's Note: For the purpose of this story - Justin never went on the trip to Vermont since Mikey was a good friend to BOTH Brian and Justin and convinced Justin to stay and wait for Brian.
Author's Note #2: You can pronounce Cthulhu ka-too-la.
Chapter 1 Brian comes home from Chicago
Chapter 2 Brian tries to get some answers
Chapter 3 Brian confronts the blond in his loft
Chapter 4 Brian runs into Kip
Chapter 5 Brian learns who Justin is
Chapter 6 Brian and Michael learn more
Chapter 7 Brian gets some answers from Justin
Chapter 8 Brian goes back to the loft
Chapter 9 Brian talks to Lindsay
Chapter 10 Brian goes to the diner
Chapter 11 Brian reflects on the situation with Ben
Chapter 12 Brian keeps looking for answers
"Excuse me, I know this sounds crazy," Michael started.
"You want to talk to me about crazy," the woman said as she turned her attention to Brian and smiled, "but you bring him here?" The woman walked right up to Brian and got into his space. "Welcome to the other side of the mirror, Alice."
Brian looked the woman up and down; despite the diminutive form, he found she had a very commanding presence. He also felt a bit of relief that maybe now he could start getting some answers from a more reliable source, never really having too much faith in Mysterious Marilyn.
"The name's Brian," he said with a smirk.
The woman nodded her head in understanding, never taking her eyes off Brian. Just then, they were both taken out of their thoughts by Michael advancing on them from the side.
"You can tell by just looking at him?" Michael wailed. The woman turned her attention on Michael and then he regretted having said something as he suddenly remembered all too well how Mysterious Marilyn had seen it right away also. Something told Michael though that this woman had more on the ball than the former drag queen and that he might have to watch what he said around her.
"Of course I can see it," the woman said as she circled Brian. "By the way, the name's Jo." The woman stopped pacing and turned to the two men. "You know," she started, "why it is you should never put a person who has suddenly appeared to have lost their mind, in other words, gone completely mad, in a small room, as they do in mental hospitals when they first arrive?"
Michael and Brian both looked at each other in confusion and then back at Jo and shrugged.
"Too many walls," she said and turned away. "You can't put a human being in a room with no where to escape if the very thing that drove them mad was residing in the walls to begin with."
"That's very fascinating and a riveting piece of trivia," Brian said mockingly. "You must be very popular at all the cocktail parties."
The woman chuckled to herself. "Do you always have a witty comeback? You've always thought yourself so smart, so clever. Wasn't that what your mother said to you, after you came out to her?"
"How did you...how could you know that?" Brian asked in confusion and anger. Flashbacks of his mother in church soon after she found out his little secret hit Brian all at once. He remembered the day all too well when Joan Kinney had walked in on him and a trick.
"I know a great many things Mr Kinney," Jo said. "There. Was that ominous enough for you?" Jo went behind the counter to put an accounting book away while chuckling to herself.
"How did you know my last name?" Brian wanted to kick himself after the words left his mouth.
"I just do. So tell me, have you seen anything strange regarding walls?" The woman peered up at Brian as he moved closer to the counter.
"No, I think Brian would have mentioned something," Michael stopped when he saw Brian looking back at the woman. "Brian, you haven't, have you?"
"At Woody's last night," Brian said, "the wall looked like," Brian laughed even though he didn't find it funny, "like it was breathing."
Jo smirked while Michael closed the space in on Brian. "You saw a wall breathing and you didn't stop to tell your best-fucking-friend?" Michael shrieked.
Brian gave Michael a look; the kind of look that said 'please give me a break here, besides, would you have believed me?'
"That was them," she said. "The guardians." Jo then crossed her arms over her chest. "They can move within the walls of buildings and houses."
"But that's ridiculous!" Michael scoffed. "How can they possibly do that?"
"This coming from the man who still reads comic books," Jo said as she passed Michael and looked at him. "They can alter solid surfaces. There's really not much they can't do." Jo pointed her finger at Brian, "they know you're here. Oh, and for now, you'll probably be the only one who can see the movement within the walls."
"But how? Never mind, I don't want to know. Okay," Brian said in a bored tone, "so I take it I should stay away from these guardians. So what," Brian shrugged, "I stay outside, away from walls?"
Jo sighed. "It doesn't matter. Where there are no walls, such as open space, they move through the earth. They can manifest themselves into certain kinds of matter."
"What, like a trash can or something?" Michael asked.
"No...its always organic. They prefer trees," Jo leaned over to whisper to Brian. "See any trees lately that shouldn't have been there?"
"And I would be able to tell this how? I don't usually notice the surrounding foliage," Brian shot back.
"These guardians," Michael asked while walking over to where Jo was standing, "why are they following Brian?"
"Keeping an eye on him...they're not very happy about the upset in the balance of things," she said.
Brian suddenly turned on Jo. "How do you know all this...about me...about these guardians?"
"You know of Mysterious Marilyn, correct?" she asked.
"It's Bob now, but yeah, she's the one who told us," Brian said.
"Bob, huh?" Joe smirked. "Think of me as her, only to, oh...say the power of a hundred." The woman shrugged it off.
Both men stopped and once again revised their opinion of the petite woman and the power she so obviously held. "How did it happen? How did they switch?" Michael asked.
"Come here," Jo said as she motioned with her finger to follow her. She led them to a mirror hanging on the wall. "What do you see when you look into the mirror?" Jo asked of Brian who stood in front of the object in question.
"My reflection," Brian said.
"Of course you do!" she said. "This is a mirror," she said as she tapped the object, "a piece of polished glass with a fine layer of shiny metals painted on the back. It's just a mirror. You lift it up," she said as she hoisted one side up, "nothing's on the other side. Now," she continued, as she went to a doorway, "what if you were looking at your reflection but it wasn't because you were looking in a mirror..."
"But a doorway," Brian said passively.
"Exactly," Jo said. "A doorway between our two worlds.. You saw what you thought was your reflection in a mirror, but it wasn't a mirror, it was you...in a doorway." Jo looked puzzled, "the guardian who let that happen will be dealt with quite harshly, I imagine."
"What mirror were you looking in Brian?" Michael yelled impatiently.
"Christ! I'm a fag, Mikey! What self respecting fag doesn't look in a mirror," Brian yelled back at his best friend while rubbing his temple. "God, I have such a mother fucking headache."
"You might have thought it was a mirror at the time, but really, it would have been...that is to say...it doesn't exactly look like a reflection. Mr Kinney, I'll be fairly blunt with you," Jo said.
"Oh and you haven't been so far?" Brian condescended.
"What were you hopped on? Um...tripping on...whatever it is you people say now," Jo asked. "Exactly how high were you?" And with this she looked up at Brian as if she could read what he was thinking.
Images ran through Brian's head at that moment.
A dark nightclub.
A long, dark hallway.
Him, high as a kite.
Some guy with a tattoo.
And yep, there it was, a mirror, which seemed extremely distorted at the time...
Brian shook his head. "It's there but it's very unclear."
"Hmmm...I thought so," Jo said while raising one delicate eyebrow. "It'll come back to you."
Brian groaned while rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. "Okay, so we now know these guardians are following me because they're really pissed off, which I might add," Brian said as he stopped walking and pointed his finger at Jo, "is not my fault since someone should have been guarding the doorway...I mean, that's what a guardian does, guard, right?"
"Calm down Brian," Michael said.
"That's a good one coming from you," Brian shot back and then turned his attention back to Jo. "Now what? What does that mean? How do I go back? Do I even go back?"
"Well, now that's the $65,000 question, isn't it Mr Kinney?" Jo asked, again with the upturned eyebrow.
"Hold on...of course he's going back!" Michael screeched. "Brian, my Brian, our Brian, needs to come back. We can't just interchange them, saying," and with this Michael lowered his voice, "'hey Mikey, sorry about your best friend and all but this one looks, talks and walks just like him, so here ya go.'"
Jo looked back at Brian and inclined her toward the raving man, "he's wound a bit tight, isn't he? I don't think he wants to go back, Mr Novotny. Besides, the guardians aren't just going to switch you back, as if changing a pair of shoes."
"But can't we reason with these guardians?" Michael implored while Brian looked away from the pair.
"These guardians are not 'creatures of light' Mr Novotny," Jo said as she made air quotations. "They are not benevolent angel-like beings, not fairy type women in diaphanous clothing, or even your dime-store demons. They're monstrous creations - ancient beings who were the first ones to crawl on this earth." Jo stopped and regarded Michael. "Think of the most horrifying nightmare monstrosity you can and you still don't have the complete grasp on them. Their very image has caused grown men to become completely unhinged...barely hanging on by a thread of their sanity. I know of only one man who was unlucky enough to glimpse one of them and yet survive somewhat with his sanity in tact. They say that Howard Philips Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos were based on seeing one of these creatures. Although he turned his madness into a literary success, he died completely and utterly demented, everyone thinking his madness was caused by the pain of the cancer."
Michael and Brian looked on in confusion. Michael then remembered some of the horror comics, comics based on the mythos, he had looked through when he was a kid. He would go to Buzzy's and sometimes look in that section, never buying, just looking, trying to satisfy some morbid curiosity. As he would flip through the pages with their gruesome images and off-kilter colors, he would silently berate himself for doing such a stupid thing because now, no doubt about it, he would have nightmares. He would then put the comics back in their slot and practically run over to the comic book hero section, hiding in the safety of Captain Astro and Superman.
"You mean," Michael swallowed, "those are the guardians?!" Michael screeched. "Please tell me he was just taking poetic license!"
"Actually, he was a little favorable to them," Jo said reflectively.
"So...they're not following me to put me back," Brian said suddenly catching on, clutching at his stomach, feeling quite sure that its contents would suddenly make an appearance.
"Oh," Jo said mockingly, "don't act as if you care. Please, don't insult me. He cares," Joe said as she pointed to Michael. "You don't," she said once again putting all her focus on Brian. "But if you do and I think there still is a part of you that does," Jo sighed resignedly, "then there is a way. If you really want to know how to cross back, it would take me summoning one of the guardians."
"So you can do it," Michael said excitedly.
"Oh yes, I could summon them, but it wouldn't be a very wise idea," Jo said.
Brian perked his head up, "why not?"
"The ancient ones, the guardians, feed on fear but not just fear itself...but on man's inability to confront their fear, to confront that which truly terrifies and scares them." Jo looked pointedly at Brian. "You Mr Kinney, are a coward."
"Now wait a minute," Brian started.
"Oh please, I know you wouldn't run away from a fight...you always go after what you want. You think you don't fear anything. But there are walls around you, thick walls, that you built to allow yourself to not feel anything beyond pure carnal pleasure. Of course, even that has been somewhat harder to feel, I sense. That is," Jo said as she turned her full attention on Brian and smiled knowingly, "until recently."
Before Brian had time to catch up to what she was implying, Michael jumped in, "you can't just accuse my friend like that. You don't know him!"
Jo turned on Michael and then scoffed. "He may have built the walls, Mr Novotny, but you helped him lay the bricks."
Michael turned away, not wanting to admit what he knew deep down was quite true.
"Can we please stop with the walls analogy; I get so fucking tired of it. What? Do you get together with Debbie and take notes?" Brian stopped and then threw up his hands. "So great, I can't go back because I'm a fucking coward. Fine," Brian said in defeat, wondering if it truly was defeat he was feeling.
Jo laughed, "it doesn't matter...you couldn't go back anyway right now. You're not ready and he's not ready yet."
Both men stopped and regarded the small woman. Michael spoke up next, "you mean...me?"
Jo scoffed again. "No, not you," she said as she looked at Michael, "the other one. I can sense it. He doesn't even know where he is yet. He thinks he's screwed up the time line somehow," she said as she waved her hand dismissively. "He doesn't understand that he's simply in the wrong place - right time, but wrong place."
That chill that had come over Michael before ran up his spine again at the thought of his best friend and what he must be going through. No doubt blaming himself yet again for all the wrongs.
And this time, without Justin to see him through.
"So if you summoned them," Michael started, needing to clarify it once and for all.
"It would be disastrous," she emphasized. "It's not the time. They would both be killed instantly...killed or worse."
"There's something worse than being killed?" Brian asked.
"Imagine living inside your head for the rest of your natural life. No one being able to reach you. Not being aware of anyone or anything around you. Lost in your delusions. Sound fun?" Jo asked cheerily.
Brian turned while clutching his stomach again, suddenly feeling sick at the thought of what going back would entail. Michael looked down at the ground, rubbing his hands together for warmth, not finding any to be had.
"Go. I'll let you know when its time," Jo said. "You won't learn anything more from me at the moment."
"So you will summon them," Michael said again, trying to reassure himself as well as Brian, who appeared to not be reassured by the thought at all.
"I said I will...but I won't be held responsible for what comes of it. Even if it is the right time, there is still no guarantee that it will work. The guardians hate to be called upon, especially to fix one of their oversights," the woman said and walked behind the counter once again.
"Marilyn was really scared of them and look what happened to her," Michael said.
"She was let off easily." Jo nodded her head, "yes I know what happened to her. Word gets around fast," she scoffed.
Brian suddenly came out of his stupor to ask the question that had been running around in his head since they arrived at the shop. "Aren't you afraid?"
"I have nothing left to fear. I'm not worried about them. I have certain...protections," Jo said and smiled.
Brian stopped, and then turned to regard the woman again, possibly to find something to say that was witty, but he found he had nothing to say. Nothing at all.
He wondered if his mother's ears were turning red at that moment.
"Come on Brian," Michael said as he grabbed hold of Brian's arm.
And with that, and the new information floating around in their collective heads, Michael and Brian left the store and headed for the Jeep. Brian found it hard not to keep shuddering as he thought about everything they had just gleaned from the woman. The guardians, the doorway. But there was one thing that stuck in Brian's mind most.
For the first time in his thirty years of life, Brian had met someone who could see every little thing about him. Someone who he couldn't hide from. Or behind those walls he so carefully constructed.
She had assessed him, called him on it.
And she had been right.
Despite everything else Brian was feeling, he had to admit, it was very liberating.
Brian got into the Jeep to drive Mikey back to the store and then off to the diner. It was time to pick Justin up after all.
And meanwhile, back at PIFA, in that other place
The man leaned over conspiratorially and said with a grin, "well, I always want people to be moved by my music, but I don't think the walls would be." The man then laughed at his own joke.
Brian laughed back half heartedly.
The dark haired man extended his hand to Brian, "I'm Ethan by the way...Ethan Gold."
"Brian, Brian Kinney," Brian said to the man who just introduced himself.
"Nice to meet you," Ethan said as he placed his violin down on the seat next to him.
"My partner," Brian said and Ethan noticed the way the man looked away with a pained expression on his face, "I think my partner came to one of your recitals about a week ago."
"Oh yeah?" Ethan smiled. "What was his name?"
"His name is Justin, Justin Taylor."
"I don't remember meeting anyone by that name," Ethan said puzzled. "What did he look like?"
Brian bit his lower lip as he had to yet again explain Justin. "He's blond and," Brian sighed as he suddenly had a feeling of deja vu. "Fuck it!" Brian pulled out his wallet and procured a picture. "This is him," Brian said as he handed the picture over to Ethan. "His hair is slightly longer now. This was taken when he was in high school...last year...right after he found out he had been accepted here...actually, after he decided to go here." Brian looked down at the picture. He looked up at Ethan and then smiled. "He was so happy," he said while he traced Justin's face on the picture.
"Nope," Ethan said with a shake of his head, "he wasn't at the recital. I would have remembered him." And Ethan knew he would have remembered someone as beautiful as the blond in the picture.
"It was stupid, I know," Brian said and put the picture away, glancing at it one last time. "Without Mel and Linds, he wouldn't have gone to the recital anyways, so see? It makes sense. Doesn't it make sense?" Brian asked. Brian looked up at the man with a pleading look in his eyes.
"Yes," Ethan said, nodding at the man. It didn't make sense, but he would just have to humor this man because he wasn't sure if Mr Kinney was playing with a full deck. He looked manic and scattered. But mostly, he looked scared and lonely.
"So, Justin, is it? He goes here?" Ethan asked.
'Yes, he goes here but I'm not sure if he goes here," Brian said absent mindedly.
Ethan nodded his head. "So, you're saying he goes here but you're not sure if he goes here-here?" Ethan asked while pointing at his feet.
"Oh fuck!" Brian said as he was pulled out of his misery. "So help me God if you pull that Ted Schmidt now-now shit, I'll personally pull off everyone of those violin strings and wrap them around your throat."
"I think it might be time to call the campus police," Ethan said and made a move to walk away.
"No, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's just...I don't know what to do anymore," Brian said as he held his arms up at his sides and then let them drop. "Justin listens to that piece over and over again. I thought you might know something. You gave him the CD...for his birthday."
"I did? I told you I never saw him before," Ethan said as he became a little more wary of the man.
"You did, but not here."
Ethan sighed. This was getting them nowhere. "Is there someone I can call for you?"
"Do you know what I got him for his birthday?" Brian asked as if he hadn't heard Ethan.
"I haven't got a clue," Ethan said.
"A hustler," Brian said with a smirk.
Ethan hadn't expected him to say that.
"Yep, a hustler. What kind of idiot gets someone a hustler for their fucking birthday," Brian yelled.
"Well, apparently...you," Ethan said, not caring now how insane the man appeared to be.
"That was rhetorical, Paganini," Brian said while ignoring Ethan's scowl. "Everyone thought I should celebrate his birthday," Brian said mockingly. "I gave them lame ass reasons as to why I didn't want to but you want to know what? I was scared. I was afraid. Celebrating his birthday would have been admitting to something that I couldn't confront," Brian continued, ranting, oblivious to his audience of one, saying everything he had finally wanted to say out loud. "It would have meant so much to him, but I couldn't because then...then it would be admitting...Fuck! What would you have done for his birthday, huh?"
"I don't know...flowers, breakfast in bed, making love all morning," Ethan rattled off while smiling.
"Ha! A romantic!" Brian screamed which made Ethan jump. "They wanted me to get him flowers. Flowers, could you believe it?" Brian said incredulously.
"Is this another one of those rhetorical questions?"
"I almost, almost got them for him too," Brian continued, once again ignoring the man he was venting to, "but I didn't. I couldn't. No," Brian said as he held up his finger, "I wouldn't. Do you know why?"
Ethan nodded his head in the negative.
"Because Justin doesn't need flowers...they're empty. Just like he doesn't need the words...words are empty too."
"But he needs hustlers," Ethan said, lifting one eyebrow condescendingly.
"No, he didn't need that either. It was just another way to push the people I care about off a cliff, you know?"
"I hope that was an allegory," Ethan responded back.
Brian continued on. "I've been playing the music all this time, because lyrics are usually for shit. You know?" Brian said as he rounded on Ethan. He then picked up the violin.
"Um," Ethan said as he moved forward to take the violin away from Brian, "that's really old and I wish you would put it down."
Brian turned with the instrument and kept staring at it. "You gave him music, but so did I. But I'm not sure if I wanted him to hear the music. And I don't think he heard the music. I am so fucked up," Brian said while using his other hand to run through his hair. Brian regarded the violin again. "But I think this is the first time I'm seeing things clearly. I want him in my life. I like coming home to him. I like when we go out. I like it when he kisses me on that spot right below my ankle," Brian said and smiled. He then looked up at Ethan with an apologetic expression. "I can tell this to you. You're nobody. You're not a friend or family. I don't work with you. You're certainly not someone I would fuck."
"Be still my heart," Ethan deadpanned. At this point he just wished the man would go.
But he wished he would put his violin down first.
Brian started waving his arms around, Ethan cringing every time he saw his beloved instrument swaying in the air. "I can't give him words and pathetic gifts." And with that Brian turned around, "because it could never be enough. He means more to me than that." Brian stopped and looked around. "He means more to me than that."
And as if snapping out of a trance, Brian took in where he really was, "what am I doing holding this? I don't even play," Brian said as he stared down at the violin. He put the violin down on its original resting place. Ethan breathed a sigh of relief at the gesture. "I don't even know why I'm talking to you about this. God, I can't even stand your fucking music. I hate the violin...it always sounds like cats dying or something," Brian ranted away while looking at Ethan.
"What?! Well...fuck you! You...you...came in here," Ethan stopped stuttering and then exhaled. "I think you should go now," Ethan said, having had enough of the raving lunatic.
"And another thing...what's with the stupid goatee? You and Mikey," Brian said while running his hand through his hair. "Do the words 'chin' and 'rat' mean anything to you?"
Ethan spluttered while pointing at Brian. "Have you looked in a mirror lately?"
"Actually I have...this morning, and I didn't like what I saw," Brian said and then became quiet. "And then there was that other mirror."
Ethan watched as the man silently contemplated something and was about to ask him to leave when Brian's head shot up.
"I need to go somewhere. I have a college coed's apartment to stake out...see how far I've come?" Brian said while shaking his head back and forth. "There's no where else I want to go anyway. I'll just bounce off the walls if I stay in one place for too long. That is to say," Brian said as if talking to some imaginary person, "if the walls don't happen to be chasing me at the moment." Brian started laughing.
"You're insane. You have taken a serious walk off the map," Ethan said while standing and staring at Brian.
Brian stopped laughing and then looked at Ethan as if realizing something for the first time. "I showed you a picture of Justin, right?"
Ethan rolled his eyes, "yes, it was taken after he found out about going here, oh no - wait, when he found out about not going here-here."
"That means," Brian said, "that picture shouldn't exist. So that means...the time line must be fixed," Brian said excitedly while smiling. "He must be at the loft right now, the time line's fixed," and with that Brian took off for the door. "Good luck with your little life Ian," Brian said then exited post haste.
Ethan looked at the space the man had vacated only seconds before and then ran to the door frame while yelling, "It's Ethan, asshole! And give my condolences to Justin!"
"God what a freak. A good looking freak, but a freak still the same," Ethan muttered to himself. "And now he's got me talking to myself."
Ethan walked back into the room and picked up his violin. He needed to shake off the distraction Mr Kinney had made. Still, he couldn't quite forget the emotions the man had caused in him. He wished he could make that big of an impression on someone and it was quite obvious that Brian loved this Justin. He felt something akin to jealousy at the thought and wondered if he would ever feel that way about someone and if they could feel that way back.
If not, at least he would always have his music.
And with that, Ethan began to play again.
Please let me know what you think!!!!
I love it like Brian loves his Justin and you all know he does!