Also, on a lighter note, to people not on my flist, if you have been tired of the recent merman type stories out there, I wrote a crack!fic type one here based on my cannibal!verse.
Just some levity to balance out the angst. *shrugs*
So without further adieu, here's chapter 17.
******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.
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
Chapter 14 Brian remembers something
Chapter 15 Brian fucks up
Chapter 16 Brian talks to Daphne
"We have a problem," Brian said and sighed, while looking directly at both Michael and Lindsay. "Justin Taylor...died at his prom."
"Brian," Michael said as he walked up to Brian, "what you're saying..."
"Oh God!" Lindsay gasped. "No, no, but Justin survived. He was hit but," she stopped before she said anymore because it was just too horrible to think about.
"Where you're from, did he not get to the hospital on time?" Michael asked, his voice starting to break.
"Hospital? Hobbs didn't stop," Brian yelled. "No one was there. I obviously wasn't there," Brian finished, more to himself than the others.
"Oh God," Lindsay said. "Stop, please, just stop," she said as she covered her mouth.
"I'm gonna be sick," Michael said and in his current state of shock, fell heavily into the chair behind the counter.
He had to process what he just heard.
Justin was dead.
In the other place.
Because Brian hadn't been there to save him.
No, Michael thought, this Brian hadn't been there to save him. And why? Because one night his phone had been turned on instead of off.
How stupid was it that it all came down to the little things that seemed to be the cause of such pain and suffering.
"If you knew about all this...there must have been a picture in the paper...on the news," Michael said accusingly. "What, you suddenly recognized him?
"The picture...it was not a very good likeness...fuck...he looked all of twelve in it...they would flash it quickly on TV. They didn't want to focus on him," Brian started.
"Because he was gay, is that it?" Michael said angrily. "What? Did Hobbs get community service for that too?" Michael stood up and kicked a box on the floor.
"Michael," Lindsay started as she came up to Michael and put her hand on his shoulder.
"No, it was out of respect for the family. They focused more on Hobbs. That's when the whole thing started clicking into place. You couldn't forget the name 'Chris Hobbs.' And I only just found out Justin's last name was Taylor," Brian said, apologetically.
"Hobbs," Lindsay said, "what happened to him? It sounds like this was big."
"You could say that. His name was everywhere in the news afterward. He became Public Enemy Number One. He may have bashed a gay boy, but it was a boy who went to his Senior Prom with his best friend, that Chanders' girl, and then," Brian winced, "the way he came at him. The public just couldn't ignore it."
"When you say, 'came at him,'" Michael said.
"Hobbs didn't stop at one swing with the bat, Michael," Brian said and noticed his best friend slump in his chair. Lindsay bent over one of the counters. "There was a huge trial and he was convicted immediately. He was sentenced to life in prison. There was even talk of the death penalty at one point."
Brian took in the pale faces of the other two. At the time that the crime had taken place, Brian had been lamenting about his own problems - the failed job opportunity in New York and turning all of thirty. He didn't really have time to waste on caring about the lives of others, including little gay boys who didn't know how to keep their mouths shut and stay in the closet.
After having gotten to know Justin up close and personal, he realized what a self-serving and pitying fool he had been. It also brought up the fact that the other Brian had probably not been bothered by such trivialities as his date of birth and job offers if he had had to watch his lover suffer.
Which brought up the other point.
"Michael," Lindsay said, "if Justin died over there and Brian doesn't know where he is..."
That point specifically, Brian thought.
Michael stopped and looked up. "Oh shit...he's gonna freak." This was all too much for Michael. He could only hope that his best friend did not find out about it, at least until he figured out where he really was.
"How was he after the bashing?" Brian asked. He knew it was a given how he was, but he needed to hear it.
"He was such a mess. I mean, forget about when I came to be with him at the hospital that night. He was fucked up then," Michael said while swallowing, trying to hold back completely breaking down. "But after, after...when I came back from Portland. The drugs, the drinking, the tricking...I mean Brian always did those things...but it was constant, almost manic. He was in such denial about how he felt. And the scarf," Michael choked out, tears starting to cloud his eyes.
"The scarf?" Brian asked.
"Michael," Lindsay said, "what about the scarf? You mean the scarf that he had when Justin was first brought to the hospital? The one that was covered in his blood?"
Michael sighed, "yes, Lindsay. He wore it...wore it around when...oh I don't know how long...but he was wearing it under his clothes when I came back. So he must've been wearing it longer than that. I saw him shower once. He took it off and rolled it almost as if," Michael said as if trying to remember something, "like...like he was a priest rolling up his vestments!"
"Shit!" Brian had a sudden chill run up and down his spine. He didn't want to do it but he had to.
He put himself in the place of his counterpart.
He could only imagine how he would feel if that happened to the person he cared deeply for. Especially if he thought it had been his fault.
And that's when he snapped. Who was he fucking kidding? He wasn't talking about himself anymore...he was talking about someone who was exactly like him and for once in his life, he could be honest with himself.
This Brian, the one that belonged here, must love Justin. Yes, he knew if he felt guilt about something, it could change the way he would feel, but it would have to be something more than just caring for the kid and guilt to feel that kind of despair.
And what Michael just described was pure and unadulterated despair. With a capital 'D.'
If...no Brian thought...when, when he found out about Justin there, and he would because that would be Brian's number one priority, to hunt down Justin, he would be devastated and inconsolable.
He knew, because he would be too.
And on the other side of the mirror...
"Yes, I can take you to Justin," she said resignedly. Daphne jerked out of Brian's grasp. "We'll take my car," she said and with that Daphne turned around and headed back down the stairs, Brian following closely on her heels.
Daphne pulled the car up to the curb, parallel to the large expanse of rolling, green lawn.
Brian looked at where they parked and the massive surface area staring back at him.
This was wrong.
This was all wrong.
Brian knew where he was but his brain kept telling him not to worry, because this wasn't real. None of it was, because it didn't happen. It just wasn't real. But there was a tiny part of Brian's brain, behind a locked door chained and clasped with the thickest padlock one could find, that said, 'but it is.'
"What are we doing here?" Brian asked Daphne. He wasn't sure if those were the words that had come out of his mouth because of the constant ringing noise in his ear.
"You wanted to see Justin," Daphne said. The angry girl turned on Brian. "You won't tell me who you are. Justin never said anything about you. If you knew Justin like you say you did, you would know, unless you lived in a cave or something. So we're going to go see Justin."
Daphne made to get out of the car while Brian stayed put.
"No," Brian said while shaking his head, "I don't want to go there. Its...this is wrong. I'm not going." He remembered when he was little, a defense of his, that if you didn't see the scary monster under the bed, then it didn't exist. So he would stay in the car and wait until Daphne took him away.
If he didn't see it, then it wouldn't be true.
"You...you come into my life," Daphne said then stopped while grabbing her temple. "Do you know how long it took for me to get over this? Do you? I don't know what kind of sick joke you're playing Mister, but you're here now. Come on," she said and left the car.
Brian couldn't move. He was cemented to the seat of the sub-compact car. If he went out now, it would confirm what he knew already, so if he stayed there, it would always be an unknown, never knowing for sure one way or the other if it were true or not and then he could go through the rest of his life blissfully ignorant and completely blind.
That's what those locked file cabinets were for. Going through life without having to admit to anything, blind to everyone and everything else.
It was an easy way to go through life, but it wasn't really conducive to living it.
Brian moved one of his legs out of the car, the jelly-like feeling making him slightly sick to his stomach.
The other leg came around and followed the other one out and he stood up. Daphne waited until he made his way out of the car, turned on her heels and proceeded. No longer did he see her as the angel he had visualized before, but a harbinger of doom, someone out of a Charles-fucking-Dickens novel, who had come to show him his bleak future. He followed the girl as she made her way through the maze of gravestones.
Brian looked around him. Pittsburgh's dead, all gathered here for their final resting place. It didn't matter who you were, what you did or where you went in your life - Babylon, Woody's, the bowling alley, hetero pubs, church - because you all met in the same place in the end.
They both stopped when they came to a headstone. Brian kept looking at the ground.
He wouldn't look up.
He knew what it would say.
"I brought you here," Daphne said, "now look at it," she yelled, her voice cracking as he could tell she was about to cry. "Look at it," she said again completely broken.
Brian looked at the stone. It simply said:
US TOO SOON
March 18, 1983
May 24, 2001
The last date, the date of the prom. Brian remembered that night very well. Visions of a smiling, dancing Justin floated in his head.
"It was the best night of my life," Justin said and smiled.
"Even if it was ridiculously romantic."
Brian stared at the headstone while shaking his head.
It wasn't real so it didn't matter.
"See?" Brian said as he pointed to the monument. "This isn't right. I saved him. And even if I wasn't there, he never knew me, so Hobbs wouldn't have any excuse to do that to him." If his voice was cracking as he spewed his justifications at Daphne, he didn't notice it.
"So you do know what happened?" Daphne said as she looked up, her tear streaked face looking on in confusion. "I don't know what you're babbling on about, but since when did Chris Hobbs need an excuse to do anything to Justin? He hated him. He hated that he was out. He hated that he could be honest about it. He hated that Justin had exposed to his friends what Chris and him did," Daphne shouted back at the man hysterically.
"Didn't anyone try...could they have called for an ambulance?" Brian asked, choking on the words as they came out.
He really didn't know why he was asking them. It wasn't real.
"What could they save?" Daphne yelled as she finally cracked and started to sob uncontrollably. "What could they fucking save? Chris wouldn't stop! He just kept swinging!" Daphne tried to get her sobbing under control by taking in huge gulps of air.
It was just a nightmare, Brian continued to reassure himself. Any minute now he would wake up.
Because he had gone to the prom with Justin.
"Do you want to come to my prom with me?" an exuberant Justin had asked.
"As what? Your chaperon?"
"As my date."
No, he hadn't gone with him. He had just shown up.
"I thought I'd recapture my lost youth."
He had one incredible dance with Justin and they had gone down to the parking garage. The there was Hobbs in the rearview mirror, but he got to Justin in time.
Although he thought he hadn't, and then he became confused. Because it didn't matter, because this isn't the way it played out because this wasn't real.
Brian then looked up again, because living life with blinders on, behind walls, was not the way to go through life. He took a good look at the monument again, a monument set up for a boy who had taught him the difference between just living your life and living it.
It was real.
It sunk in and everything came out. There were no walls. No locked file cabinets.
He was naked to the world in that cold cemetery, a place filled to capacity with the dead and you couldn't lie to the dead.
Brian sank down on his knees and reached out to touch the headstone.
Daphne, who had been lost in her own world of misery stopped when she noticed the change in the strange man.
"No, no, no, no, no," the man screamed at the stone. "No!" Brian started to cry and pound on the headstone, trying to lift it out of the ground. "It's not real! "God! No!" he continued to scream.
"Mister! Mister, please," Daphne tried to reach out to the man. Maybe bringing him out here hadn't been the right thing to do. She had thought he was playing some sick joke on her, but this...this was different.
"No! God! I want out of this place!" the man screamed at the top of his lungs, his voice cracking from the strain. "I want it all back! I was wrong. I want it back," the man yelled once again and then calmed down, looking up at Daphne, tears streaking his face, dirt smeared on his hands from where he pounded on the earth. "I want it all back," he pleaded with her.
"What? What do you want back?" Daphne asked, starting to feel sorry for the man.
"It. Him. If I did something to change everything, then I want it unchanged again," Brian said. Brian looked back at the headstone.
"I don't know what you mean. I'm...I'm sorry I brought you here," Daphne said. "I was wrong."
Brian stopped and looked at Daphne again with narrowed eyes. "It was your idea to go to the prom, wasn't it?"
Daphne took a step back from the man. "I wanted...wanted to go...with my best friend."
Brian looked accusingly at Daphne. "He slept with you but he didn't want you. You got weird after, didn't you?"
"How did you know?" Daphne asked surprised. "Look, don't you think I've had to live with the guilt of asking him to the fucking prom in the first place? I was finally getting over it till you showed up!" Daphne screamed at the man.
"You never get over the guilt," Brian said as he turned away from the girl. He didn't know why he had taken it out on her. It wasn't her fault.
It was his.
He would find the ironic turn funny, him being the cause of Justin getting bashed at his prom to the fact that he didn't survive his prom because he hadn't shown up in the first place, but he couldn't seem to laugh about anything at the moment.
He didn't think he could laugh at anything ever again.
He continued to stare at the tablet, knowing it was over. He couldn't fix the time line. Justin was dead. There was nothing left to fix.
Justin was dead.
He could yell and scream and cry, but there was nothing left he could do.
He brought himself to here. He, in his own fucked up way, had wished it because his life was no longer convenient, because he couldn't admit to how he felt for Justin, and brought him to here, to this place, and there was nothing left.
Justin was dead.
A corpse rotting in the ground beneath him.
Never again would he see the vibrant, young man who had danced on stage at Babylon to prove he wouldn't be taken for granted. Nor the man who had proved to the Institute that he wouldn't give in.
Justin was dead.
And now, so was he.
"Mister, let's go now, I'll take you back to your car," Daphne said, putting her hand on the man's shoulder. Brian shrugged it off. She wanted to talk to the man to get him out of his current state. "Is there someone you want me to call for you?"
"Just go. Leave me," Brian said, never taking his eyes off the gravestone, his knees sunk into the ground, his index finger lazily tracing the 'J' in Justin's name. "I can't leave him alone."
"Justin still gets kinda freaky when he's on his own too long."
"He freaks out when he's left alone too long," Brian said, continuing to stare at the lettering, remembering his time with Justin soon after the bashing.
"I don't think," Daphne started, looking on in horror at the man.
"I said fucking go!" Brian yelled, turning all his anger on the girl in front of him.
Daphne took a few steps back, turned and ran, running as fast as she could away from the grieving man. Once she thought herself far from the individual who had arrived only a mere half an hour ago and turned her world upside down, she looked back.
The man was still kneeling on the grave, his arms wrapped around the stone, weeping onto its hard surface.
She didn't know who he was or how to get in touch with anyone he knew, but she had to find help for him.
I actually would like feedback on this one too. Thank you.