Good news: the compressor on the walk in is fixed! Yay! Just in time for the weekend.
Bad news: instead of it being $1500, it came to $2000. Boo!!!
Oh well, at least the damn thing is fixed.
Here's the next update. I love feedback. Just remember that.
Thanks need to go to shadownyc for her quick beta work. Thank you thank you!!!!!
Here you go:
******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
Chapter 13 Brian learns some hard truths
"That means," Brian said, "That picture shouldn't exist. So that means...the timeline must be fixed," Brian said excitedly while smiling.
"He must be at the loft right now, the timeline'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.
"Justin?" Brian yelled as he ran into the loft. "Justin?"
Brian stood by the door and waited; waited for what he knew must be true.
Justin must be home.
Pictures didn't lie. Brian looked down at the photo again, the one he took out of his wallet and held in his hand the whole way up the flight of stairs.
The elevator would have been too slow.
There he was in the photo - clear as day. He was wearing that orange shirt he had worn when Brian had found him in Mikey's room when Ted had been in the hospital the year before. Brian had always loved that shirt. It rode up in just the right place on his stomach and exposed just the tiniest sliver of skin, enough to make him want to expose all the beautiful, creamy, pale flesh that lay underneath. Justin's arm was pinned behind him, making his shirt ride up all the more.
And it went without saying, his famous smile was plastered across his face, the one as loathe as he was to say it, brightened an entire room every time he walked into it.
He had been happy that day, the day he had told Brian that he was indeed going to the Art Institute. Brian remembered the proud smile on Justin's face as he told him as well as the genuine smile that adorned Brian's face, which was also reflected back to him on said photo, happy for his teenaged lover that he had made the right choice. It was also, of course, due to relief that he wouldn't be moving out of state.
But he never told anyone that.
Just like he never had told anyone that he carried the photo around with him either. That was why he hadn't shown the picture to Mikey or the guys last night. He had become so used to not pulling it out around them, it hadn't even occurred to him to do so.
Habits such as that were hard to break.
Brian looked down at the photo again, taking in his own image; leaning against Justin, holding him around the waist, his head perched on top of the blond head.
What was it he had said to Ethan? His hair is longer now and it was. And it was getting longer and softer. He always thought Justin could wear his hair whatever way he wanted and it would still be hot, but he had to admit that he liked the longer hair. So much to run his fingers through in the middle of the night, so much to grab onto when...
And Brian stopped his thoughts there. He needed to confirm whether the timeline was or was not fixed and it was with that that he found himself running into his bedroom and advancing on his closet. In the very back would be his proof. It was obvious that there was no sign of Justin living with him here, such as his desk, his clothes, or even food in the refrigerator, but this would confirm if he at least knew him. Brian reached back, deep into the closet, into the very way, way back, the place not even Justin would look and pulled out a small box. In the box were certain papers that he kept hidden and also one item he had purchased last year. He looked through the box and found it devoid of that item.
The picture Justin had drawn of him while he had been sleeping and had sold at the GLC.
To Brian. Of course, Justin never found out about that.
Brian loved that picture. He had brought it home that night and had gazed upon it for hours, not even remembering who had gone down on him, even when the person had quietly vacated the loft. The picture had conveyed so much to Brian. The most important being that someone had taken the time and care to sketch him while he was at his most vulnerable and they had done it with such love. Yes, he knew it had been love because he knew Justin and that's what it had been. Love and adoration. And it always set Justin apart from all the others. And it wasn't the fact that he had the talent to sketch him but that he took the time to do it.
Just as Brian was usually want to throw tricks out of his bed after he was done with them, the tricks usually felt the same way. Once they had received what they had wanted just as Brian had, they were free to go - no attachments, everything was cool. Bye-bye. But there had been a living person lying next to him that first night in his bed, a person who still wanted to give back to Brian.
And the evidence was in the picture that he had sketched.
The sketch that currently wasn't there.
Brian realized once again that the timeline or whatever it was, some cosmic joke played on him on high, had still not changed and he was still as Justin-less as he had been since he came back from Chicago.
He also realized that he had been lured to the loft once again. Brian looked around and not for the first time, tried to black out all the images that kept leaping into his head.
He looked over in the direction of the desk and he suddenly had a vision of Justin, coming home drunk after his first week of school, doing his own version of the great Kinney pain management.
"I went to Woody's...I let guys buy me drinks," a very drunk and stoned Justin said, on the brink of crying, "They all wanted to fuck me. At least I still have my looks. I told them 'no'...I was saving that for you," Justin said and kissed Brian hard on the lips.
After the kiss was over and Justin started in on Brian's neck, Brian laughed. "Well aren't you a sweetheart."
When he looked at the dining room table he saw Justin serving Jambalaya, saying it was always better the second day that first night he came back after having confronted his father the second time.
It wasn't enough that the ghosts kept bombarding him with their shared memories, but now he had the photo there to taunt him, to say 'see… you're not crazy, you were with him, but you're not now.'
Brian looked down at the box devoid of the picture and in an act of utter frustration, kicked it across the floor. He walked into the living area and kicked the side table out from under its legs and then stopped himself.
Brian held his head in his hands, the photo still clutched in one hand, as he deposited himself on the couch. He was so tired but he knew he couldn't sleep. He still had hours to go until Daphne would be home. He was so close to his goal and yet, if he actually went to her apartment and staked it out as he had ranted to Ethan, it would be just his luck and poetic irony if he were to suddenly find himself arrested for loitering or stalking thereby missing his chance to speak with the girl.
So he would stay put until it was time.
And try to get some sleep.
So he lay down and closed his eyes.
Five minutes later, he was still awake and tried his genius strategy again. He closed his eyes.
And than it hit Brian. A change in strategy. After all that was why God created Beam. And if he hadn't, then whoever did should be God.
Brian walked over to the liquor trolley, ignoring more ghosts (a dancing figure with headphones in one of his expensive black shirts) and poured a glass of the beautiful, amber liquid. He swallowed the alcohol in one gulp, shuddered at the sudden burn the Beam had and went to lay down again.
This time he let the drink move through him, trying to imagine the path the liquid was taking through the various channels in his body and it seemed to be working as his eyelids started to droop.
The nightclub looked busy but Brian decided he needed to get something to drink, maybe dance, definitely fuck someone and then head back to the hotel so he could catch his flight the next day. He would have left tonight but they had nothing available.
He thought the sooner he could get home, the more plausible it was that Justin and he could salvage what was left of their vacation.
"Hey!" the man standing on the curb said. "You don't wanna go there...go to the club down the street, this one's for shit."
"I don't care," Brian said as he nodded his head and lit his cigarette.
"Trust me, go to the other one," the man said and walked away. Brian checked out the line and sure enough, the men standing in the long queue didn't do anything for him.
Then again, not much did lately.
Brian shrugged and decided to try the place the man had indicated and found what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse with a huge black door strewn with graffiti and a tall, well built man with a shaved head stood in front of it.
"Looking for a party?" the man said while he regarded Brian.
"I'm bored and this place looks like shit."
"Yeah, well what isn't." The man opened the door and smiled at Brian. "Go in, it won't bite," and with that Brian smirked and walked in...to an empty room.
"What the fuck?" Brian exclaimed as he turned around.
"Go ahead," the man said as he inclined his head toward another door.
Brian opened the door (this one much thicker) and was instantly hit by the sound, the smell and a sudden rush of heat. There were bodies dancing every which way to a beat of loud music, not the techno beat of Babylon or most clubs, but of a more underground type of music. He'd heard the song currently playing before, a piece by Nine Inch Nails, something about not biting the hand that feeds you. It wasn't his thing but he was here and the place was more exciting than the last place, so he ventured within.
Brian made his way through the crowd, pushing aside people who didn't look like the normal crowd he hung with, smoke thick in the air. Brian took in the decor, graffiti strewn across the walls and chains hanging from the ceiling.
And the people; there were no flamboyant colors, gelled hair or tanned, well oiled chests. It was a sea of unwashed, grungy, pierced, tattooed people. Thankfully most of them men.
"Fuck it," Brian muttered and made his way to the bar, ordering two shots of Beam. As he was downing them, someone approached him.
"Here, you need this. It's good," another skin head said. "You'll like it. It's just what you need."
When in Rome, do as the Romans ran through Brian's head and against his better judgment, Brian put the pills under his tongue because it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
By adding the Beam into the equation, it didn't take long for Brian to start tripping on whatever it was he took. He remembered ordering another two shots and trying to make his way to what constituted the back room, bumping into several people along the way. Once he made it there, he took in the scene. There were men in stages of undress along the wall and the middle of the room, holding on to pillars and this of course brought to mind images of what he wanted to do to Justin when he got back.
As he weaved through the throngs of men, he could feel himself getting lighter and yet heavier at the same time. He didn't know what he took, but it apparently was having quite an effect on him. All the bodies of the men started to elongate in one instant and then shorten, as if gravity had taken over, in the next. It was like being in a funhouse with all its skewed mirrors and Brian realized that he must indeed be higher than a kite.
He needed to find someone, fuck the hell out of them and leave. As he stumbled around, being thrown off balance by the way the room was tilting back and forth, a short man - not short Brian thought, but slightly hunched over - grabbed his elbow.
"Hey man, come on, this way, you can fuck me. You can even go bareback," the man said.
Brian took in the man in front of him, luring him away; junkies didn't come more fucked up than this. "I don't think so," but Brian was pretty sure the words that came out of his mouth didn't sound like that as his tongue felt like it was roughly three times its normal size.
None the less, Brian followed the man, to wherever he was taking him. He figured if he closed his eyes, he could pretend it was a certain blond. He found he just couldn't think too clearly.
As they headed toward the other side of the room, he saw another doorway. Brian, thinking it must have been the exit, was a bit surprised when he found them heading for said doorway and it didn't lead to an exit but a hallway.
Brian blindly followed the man, noticing the strange tattoo on the man's back of something with several tentacles.
As Brian walked along, he used the walls to balance himself, as the hallway became narrower and narrower, his drug induced mind almost making it appear as if the walls were expanding and contracting. It also seemed as if the temperature had dropped severely and Brian suddenly felt a chill race through his body.
"I like it better here," the man said as he turned around. Brian noticed for the first time the gashes and cuts across the man's upper torso and face. He knew he must have been majorly fucked up on something as they seemed very pronounced. He also found he didn't really give a fuck. "They don't like to see me up top," the man said.
"Yeah, sure, up top," Brian repeated and he noticed he was going down a small flight of stairs and into another room.
"Here we are," he said.
Brian looked around. There was a dirty mattress on the floor and the walls were adorned with several holes, as if they had been punched in repeatedly.
"You live here?" Brian asked.
"Yeah, I like it here. It doesn't bother me. It lets me stay here," the man said while standing in front of Brian, the man's constant swaying back and forth making Brian slightly sick to his stomach.
Brian laughed not really understanding what he meant when he said 'it.' "Whatever. I'm not lying on that thing," Brian said and pointed to the bed.
"Just do me against the wall. Do it so hard I can sleep tonight without getting totally fucked up," the man said as he turned toward the wall.
Brian pushed the man against the wall, pulled the man's jeans down, unzipped his own jeans and sheathed his cock with a condom. He then looked around for lube as he hadn't any in his pocket.
"I don't have anything to prepare you with," Brian said, once again taking in the strange tattoo on the man's back.
"Just use your spit, I don't care."
Brian's head, which seemed to not want to stay in one place nodded in agreement, spit in his hand and wiped his cock a few times, then thrust himself into the willing body. The man screamed and Brian winced as he felt the burn but continued to move inside the man, barely aware of what was going on, the drugs and alcohol making their way through his system, telling him that thinking was not required at the time and staring at the strange gashes adorning the man's back. He noticed the same gouges and cuts on the man's arms which were braced against the wall.
"What's all this?" Brian asked, while touching one of the scars.
"It likes it when I hurt myself," the man said.
Brian didn't understand what he meant by that either but it didn't matter as nothing seemed real, the room continued to move and he was hardly aware when he came and the man screamed once more as he emptied himself against the wall.
"Oh God, that was...yeah...that was good," the man said and then staggered over to his bed and laid down, Brian noticing the man falling into a deep sleep as soon as his head hit the mattress.
Brian slumped against the wall, trying to make the room stop spinning, trying to get the buzz out of his head, a buzz that was put there by a combination of the drugs and the loud, haunting music that could still be heard coming from the club.
And that's when he noticed it, across from him. The mirror.
A long skinny mirror. But the mirror was strange, distorted in a way. Brian advanced on the object, but he noticed the mirror didn't mimic his actions in exactly the same way.
More repercussions of the drugs, no doubt.
Brian was directly in front of the mirror and looked at his reflection, swaggering back and forth. He thought if he were to touch it, he would fall most assuredly fall through.
But that was ridiculous, but still...
Brian put his hand up to touch the glass when...
"Brian! Brian! Wake up!"
Brian was jolted awake and out of his dream by the fuzzy image of someone who sounded exactly like Michael above him. "Mikey?" Brian immediately bolted up off the couch. "Was I asleep?"
"Asleep? I guess so. If you call the way you were thrashing around on the couch asleep, then yes," Michael said. "By the way, you had this clutched in your hand right before you dropped it."
Michael held up the photo of him and Justin. Brian went to grab it but Michael pulled it away.
"What is this Brian?" Michael asked as he looked at the photo.
"Give it back. You don't know who he is, so don't even bother with it." Brian advanced on him again.
"Is this Justin? The one you've been on about since last night?"
Brian nodded his head.
Michael laughed. "You’re fucking high school kids now? What is he...fifteen, fourteen?"
"He's eighteen there. Give it back."
Mikey looked down at it. "So you're not fucking someone in high school?"
"Well, not now," Brian said and looked away.
Michael laughed again. "He's hot."
"You didn't always think so."
"I imagine I didn't," Michael said and gave the picture back to Brian. "Whatever. Look, I called Ben today."
Brian's head shot up and indicated to go on.
"He's been sick...his cell count is down. He told me this wasn't a good time," Michael started.
"And so you gave up," Brian said.
"No, I was persistent and said this couldn't be a better time. We're seeing each other tonight. Well, he wanted to see me tonight, but I don't know. I wanted to see how you were first, Brian. How are you?" Michael asked, looking at his best friend with trepidation.
Brian laughed. "I'm fabulous. In fact, I'm the most fabulous fag in Pittsburgh. That is, if it's possible...to be fabulous in Pittsburgh."
Brian had a sudden bout of deja vu as he remembered the last time he said that to Michael, right before Justin had sought him out at Woody's and gave him the only words that could ever redeem him, because they could only come from him.
It wasn't your fault. It wasn't your fault.
"Brian?" Michael asked, wondering where his friend had gone there for a moment.
"Go tonight. Don't worry about me. After I talk to Daphne, it'll all be right again anyway," Brian said dismissively.
"Huh?" Brian asked in confusion.
"When are you going?" Michael asked.
"I'm heading over in," Brian started as he looked down at his watch, "In a couple of hours."
"Get some more rest Brian," Michael said.
"Can't, besides, I don't like what I see when I dream anyway."
"What was it about Brian?"
"I don't know...I mean, I do. It doesn't seem real, but I know that's what happened, but, it was just so...so wrong and I can't remember what happened after I passed out," Brian said as if he was talking more to himself than to Michael.
"You've lost me."
Brian chuckled, "I went to this club in Chicago, one of those underground clubs, and I got really high and I did this guy. But it gets real fuzzy after I'm done fucking him and I remember passing out soon after. When I woke up I was laying on the ground in some hallway. I left the club and went back to the hotel."
"Brian, what did you take? You're usually really careful about taking stuff from people you don't know."
"Fucked if I know! It was a real bad trip, that's all I can say," Brian snapped and then turned to his best friend. "Just go Mikey. Go be with the professor. Make it work," Brian said while waving Michael away and toward the door.
"Brian," Michael said, halting Brian from pushing him out of the loft, "You always say 'never go after anybody...never chase after anyone.' Are you saying you were wrong?" Michael then continued on. "What about David? Did I fuck up because of you? You...I always look to you. Have I been doing it all wrong?" Michael asked in exasperation.
"David was wrong for you. I pushed you toward him even though I sometimes held back...but that was because I always knew he was wrong for you. Ben's good for you," Brian said and then turned his full attention on Michael, "Despite everything. He'll always be there for you and still allow you to be who you should be, not what he wants to mold you into. And yes, I was wrong to say those things." Brian put his tongue in his cheek. "Mark this day on your calendar folks. Fuck!" Brian said and laughed, "Where's Ted when you need him? He'd probably make some 'national holiday' crack."
Michael walked up to Brian and took the man in his arms. "Thank you," Michael said and hugged him.
Brian held onto Michael, needing the closeness of someone and his best friend seemed to fill the bill at the moment. But only barely.
"Get going," Brian whispered into Michael's ear and pulled away.
Michael left and Brian then turned to the once again empty loft, wondering when his living space had seemed so large and vacant. He fingered the photo and looked down into the smiling face.
Soon Sunshine, soon.
This time there was no hint of mockery or sarcasm when he said the name.
And over in the well known dimension...
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.
Brian and Justin entered the loft after having picked Justin up on time at the diner. Justin jumped in front of Brian to put the mail down on the kitchen counter. "I'm going to take a quick shower. I smell like the diner."
Brian looked at Justin, smiled and leaned down as he made a huge show of smelling Justin. Brian moaned, "French fries, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw and...Justin."
"I'm showering," Justin said while chuckling and then skipped off to the bathroom.
Brian walked over to the counter and flipped through the mail. There was of course, the usual bills and some credit card offers, the kind that offer you a credit card with a 29 percent rate and a low yearly fee, and that's when he saw it.
Both from the same clinic - the very same clinic Brian was tested at every six months like clockwork. Brian had just received his results before he had gone to Chicago. His test results had been negative of course, since he was always very careful. But here, in this place, the results came today and this time, there were two envelopes.
One addressed to Mr. Brian Kinney and the other addressed to Mr. Justin Taylor.
Brian opened the one addressed to him, feeling slightly guilty of opening another person's mail, but then again it was addressed to him. He wondered if he could get prosecuted for opening someone else's mail even though it was him and how he would fight such a thing in court.
Brian scoffed at himself and slit the envelope open. He pulled out the results and noticed, with some relief, that this Brian Kinney was just as careful as he was as his test results were all negative also.
But that didn't fascinate him as much as the other envelope.
He knew without a doubt that he couldn't open that one.
But oh, how he wished he could.
So he did the next best thing and walked into the bedroom and waited until Justin was done with his shower.
It seemed like an eternity but Justin finally came out, rubbing the towel over all that wonderful flesh, following the boy's blond happy trail down his torso until it rested on what he hoped he would have fun with soon enough.
"Hey, what's that?" Justin asked as he stopped toweling himself.
"Our test results," Brian said as he held up the envelopes.
"Oh, you can open mine," Justin said and continued to towel himself again.
Brian slit the envelope open, trying not to look overly anxious and read over Justin's results.
"It appears," Brian said while clearing his throat, "that we're both in the clear."
"I couldn't imagine it being otherwise," Justin said in his 'duh' voice. "We are really careful after all."
Brian bit his lip, and then raised his hands over his mouth, advancing on Justin.
This opportunity was just too good to pass up.
They were both in the clear.
Justin adored him; that much was clear.
He could never trust anyone else with something like this, something that he always wanted to do and who better than Justin.
Brian walked up to Justin and finished towel drying his hair for him.
"You trust me, don't you Sunshine?" Brian asked, using the moniker he had heard being used earlier that day. It really was the perfect nickname for him.
"You know I do Brian...with my life," Justin said as he looked up at Brian with those guileless eyes.
Brian smiled down at Justin.
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