First off, I will get back to the rest of the feedback from the last chapter. Sorry about that - but my What If challenge fic is posted so that's a done and the kids are feeling better.
Also, if you're into dark humor and old 60's and 70's movies (and Quentin Tarantino), go see Grindhouse.
That's all I have to say about that.
I should devote a whole post to it because...damn!
So, here you go, next chapter.
Love you all!!!
******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
Chapter 17 Brian finds out about Justin
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.
The priest finally spotted the man the girl, Daphne, had been talking excitedly about.
Sure enough, there he was, by the grave of the Taylor boy. The priest knew about the Taylor boy and his tragic end quite well.
The result of such hate was a hard thing to forget.
He remembered the night of the prom the year before, how he had wailed in front of his God for such a gross injustice to someone so young over something so trivial.
After all, he knew better than anyone else that sometimes you just couldn't help who you loved.
The priest made his way toward the man, who was rocking back and forth on his haunches, facing the headstone, his arms wrapped around his torso as if to stem off the cold. Of course, it could have been a hot summer day, in the hundreds, and the man would still be battling out the cold.
He was a priest, he knew grief, real grief when he saw it.
The priest walked up behind the rocking man, who was eerily quiet. "Did you know him well?" the priest asked softly.
The man spun around quickly, lost his balance and looked at the priest in surprise. "Well fuck me, Father Tom," Brian said mockingly as he regained his composure.
"Brian? But what?" Father Tom asked in confusion. This had been the last man he had expected to see when the girl pleaded with him to help the grieving man.
"Go away," Brian said as he turned back around to face the stone. "You don't belong here. Of course," Brian laughed, and as he laughed Father Tom had a chill run down his spine, "he doesn't belong here either, but that's besides the point."
Father Tom stepped around the stone and got a good look at Brian. His face was streaked with tears, his eyes bloodshot and chillingly vacant.
"Brian? I didn't know you knew him?" the priest stuttered. "What I mean to say is, you didn't seem to be this way the last time I saw you. Brian?" Father Tom implored once again.
Brian smirked while looking up. "I knew him, only he didn't die when it says here," he said as he pointed to the date on the headstone, "he was still alive when I left only a few days ago. He was alive and bouncing in my arms when I told him about Vermont," Brian smiled wistfully.
"I want to go with you the whole fuckin week!"
"Are you serious?"
"You're off on Spring Break - I'm about to make partner which I say entitles me to a week of snowboarding...and fucking your brains out."
"I don't understand what you're trying to say," Father Tom said, shrugging his shoulders.
"I'm saying," Brian began to yell, losing his temper, "this is all fucked up! Its...its," Brian said as he ran his hand through his hair. "Look, I don't want your sermon or your pity or your inspirational words. Save them for Joan...just...go," Brian said in defeat.
"No Brian. I think I need to take you home," Father Tom insisted.
"You know," Brian said in a mock falsetto, "you're going to have to come up with a better line than that." Brian then stood up and almost toppled over, Father Tom catching him around his waist.
"Don't fight me on this one, Brian," Tom said. "I'm going home with you."
"I'm, going with him."
"Why won't they leave me alone?" Brian yelled and was about to cry again when he remembered that he wasn't alone.
"Who Brian? Who won't leave you alone?" Father Tom asked in concern.
"The ghosts," Brian said as he waved his arms around wildly, throwing himself off balance again, Father Tom holding on tightly to the wild man. "They keep taunting me with him as if he's still here. But he's there," Brian choked out as he pointed to the grave. Brian wrestled out of Father Tom's grasp. "I'm not going. I need to stay. I can't leave him alone," Brian said as he faced the stone once more, looking down at the lettering that became more and more fuzzy the longer he stared at it.
If he squinted just the right way, he could almost make the letters rearrange themselves and appear to be a different name altogether.
But these were all games. Nothing he did, no game he played, no way he looked at it, it was the same, Justin was dead.
"Please, Brian, come with me. I'll take you home," Father Tom implored once more.
Brian looked back at the headstone once more, and knew there was nothing he could do. He kissed his fingers and touched Justin's name, then whispered, "I'm sorry." He turned around and started to make his way out of the cemetery on shaky legs with the only other living soul in the area.
After Father Tom had set Brian up on the couch, he made a strong pot of coffee. He had the feeling they would both be needing it.
"I wasn't sure how you took your coffee," Tom said as he sat the cup in front of Brian, who was sitting and staring straight ahead. "I put a little bit of sugar in it. Is that okay?"
Brian then looked Tom's way as if acknowledging him for the first time.
"Sure, whatever. Tell me father," Brian started.
"Tom...just call me Tom, Brian. After all, you've had your dick up my ass," he chuckled.
"Is it okay for you to say that?" Brian scoffed and shook his head clear. "Tom," Brian started again, "do you believe in...I know you're a man of the cloth so you're not supposed to believe...I mean do you believe in angels or something more sinister, who maybe grant wishes or things you've thought about?" Brian winced as he brought what he'd been feeling out into the open.
For there was no other way to describe what had happened to him in the past twenty-four hours besides something otherworldly.
"I don't believe in that kind of thing, Brian," Tom said fatter of factly. "Angels don't grant..."
"Like that movie," Brian interrupted, "It's a Wonderful Life or something...you think about what your life would have been like if you hadn't met someone and wham! Someone comes along and butts in your life and says, 'okay, here's what it would be like if you hadn't met him.' Cause I gotta tell you Tom, if that's what this is, I've learned, okay? I've learned," Brian said, almost pleading with Father Tom to make it right. He knew he was grasping at straws, but he needed to ask it.
"No Brian, I've never heard of that before," Tom said.
"Of course not," Brian said in defeat. "It would be too easy. No, it's just one of those things I suppose. The time line is screwed up and I can't fix it because Justin's dead."
"Brian, time can't be changed. I don't know what you're talking about," Tom said in exasperation. "Look, I said I didn't know about things like that. I didn't say I didn't believe in things that we have no knowledge of or understanding in. There are things that happen in this world that just can't be explained."
"The after life?" Brian asked mockingly.
"I do believe in heaven if that's what you're implying," Father Tom smiled back. "No I meant, there are things we don't understand in the world and they're not all nice things. This is why I put my faith in God. I believe if you don't have faith in something," Tom started and then stopped at the look of skepticism in Brian's face. "When I was a novice, doing my work for the church wherever they sent me, I saw something once in Central America...this girl..."
Brian shot up off the couch, "if you tell me you were once privy to an exorcism, then don't...just don't." Brian ran his fingers through his hair.
"Not an exorcism...I've never seen one. I've heard stories but I myself have never seen one. That doesn't mean I'll rule it out, it's just that, I don't think they happen the way they say it does," Father Tom scoffed. "Anyways, this girl, the villagers couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. It was as if she were being eaten from within," Father Tom said, as if lost in a memory.
Brian looked at Tom in disbelief.
"Not in the literal sense," Tom continued. "Her sanity was slipping away slowly, day by day. She was a shell when we got there...what is it they say? No one at home. When we found her, myself and the priest I worked under, she was staring at the wall, muttering continuously, 'Las paredes viven.'"
Brian looked on questioningly, "the walls...live?"
"She babbled on about how the walls were slowly eating away at her...feeding off of her," Tom continued as he walked away, once again deep in thought as he recounted the story. "We found out later of course, that her stepfather had been molesting her since she was six years old. She was sixteen when we found her. She lived in constant fear every single day of her life for those ten years. Her family relied on him as their sole provider. She had no one to go to, no one to put her faith in...all alone in the world. When you have nothing left to believe in and fear consumes you, then what would the next logical step be? Obviously in this girl's case, to retreat within herself."
"So what are you saying? Something, that lived in the walls," Brian laughed incredulously, "was feeding off her?"
"No Brian. I'm just saying, we need to rely on someone, something, to get us through these things. I'm not saying that there's some kind of monster out there feeding on us," Tom said and laughed. "That's preposterous. I'm just saying, shit, I don't know what I'm saying," Tom said and ran his hand through his hair. "It's just that sometimes, we can convince ourselves of something else being the monster or the situation that can't be explained, to the point of it happening." Tom sighed, "did any of that make sense?"
"When you say she lived in constant fear every day of her life, was it from this thing?" Brian asked.
"No, from her stepfather, an actual very real fear. Brian," Tom said and went to stand in front of Brian, "I think we're digressing from the point here. There are things we can do to ourselves if we don't handle these things. Things like make ourselves completely lost in the world, such as this girl. And I fear that's what's going to happen to you. No Brian," Tom put his hand over Brian's arm to stop him from turning away, "listen to me. When people don't put their faith in something else, when they feel they are truly alone, and they're scared, they are consumed by their own mind. That's what I think. I don't know about monsters and things like that, but I know what I saw and what I saw was real."
"So what, Father," Brian spat, "I'm supposed to put my faith in your God and then I'll know no fear and I'll be okay? Is that what you're saying?" Brian mocked. "And why are you even telling me this shit. This has nothing to do with what I'm going through."
"Because I believe we all need someone to believe in...I do. I've put my faith in God. It gets me through some of the toughest days. And right now, Brian, you need..."
"Yeah," Brian said as he turned on the priest, "and as soon as your church finds out about what you do at the Baths, how long before..."
"I know what I do!" Tom yelled. "I live knowing what could happen If I'm ever found out!" Tom then became quiet again. "But I'm okay with that." Brian looked up and scoffed. "Yes, the church could turn me away, strip me of my collar and send me on my way or demote me back down to a novice and put me in some backwater village in a third world county. But I'm okay with that. I don't fear it. I'll accept what they'll do to me but I know, no Brian," Tom said as he looked directly at Brian, "I know...God won't turn away from me."
"Fine," Brian said running his hand over his forehead, "so you want me to see the light? All my problems will be over?"
"No. I don't care if you put your faith in God or something else. Do you Brian, do you believe in something or...or someone?"
"I did," Brian said as he looked up again, not really seeing Tom there, "a boy who wasn't afraid. Well, he was, but it didn't matter. He..."
"The Taylor boy?" Tom asked, suddenly everything becoming more clear.
"Why? Why him of all people?" Tom touched Brian's arm to bring him back into the present. "Why?"
"Because," Brian said as he turned his full attention on Tom, "I liked the person I became after I got to know him."
"I didn't think you would ever admit to something like that," Tom scoffed.
Brian smiled "I wouldn't have, but I'm not the same man I was a few hours ago. There's no one left to lie to," Brian said and looked at Tom. "I could talk to you about theology and philosophy all day Father," Brian said as he put his hand on Tom's shoulder, "well, no I can't because right now I need to be alone so thanks for bringing me home. You can go now," Brian said flippantly, then got up and went to the loft door to open it.
"Please Brian, faith in someone dead is not what I..."
"Don't," Brian said as he raised his hand to shush Tom, "Go Tom, we're done."
Tom walked to the loft door, stood in the hallway and turned back once more to face Brian and it was on the tip of his tongue to say something more, because he felt extremely uneasy about leaving, that the man he was looking at currently was nothing like the man he had seen only a short while ago at the Baths, that this man felt so alone, the air of the loft was thick with it. However, all that came out was, "take care Brian."
Sometimes, he felt so ineffectual in his chosen profession.
"Yeah...sure...thanks," Brian nodded and slammed the door.
Brian looked at the living space before him.
It was so sterile.
So devoid of life.
Well, one of them, that was.
No, Brian thought, both of them, because he didn't feel very alive at the moment.
Once again, the ghosts were bombarding him with their memories (Justin doing calculus, Justin sketching, Justin eating) and that's when he saw it.
The photo, left behind on the desk in his haste to go find Daphne.
Which of course, in the long run, had turned out so well.
He looked down at the smiling face of his now deceased lover. The picture was still there. It was the only reminder of what they once shared. There to tell him, 'yes, you are now the only one who now remembers all this.' The photo would mock him for an eternity to come. He picked up the offensive picture and made to rip it up, throw the pieces into the trash can and then set it on fire but he found he couldn't bring himself to the task.
So he did the next best thing. He wiped everything else off his desk. His papers, his clock, his computer. Everything, fell to the ground in one big heap. The computer making a terrible crashing sound as it hit the loft floor.
Who cared, Brian thought, it was just stuff. He then went to the kitchen and proceeded to find every breakable thing in there and throw it on the ground too.
He didn't stop there. He ended up in the living room, overtuning tables, couches, bashing in the television screen with a floor lamp.
His living space was in ruins when he was done.
He looked at the disaster he had wrought when he was done.
All just stuff.
He then moved into the bedroom and stopped when he took in the bed.
"Ah! It's cold."
"It'll heat up."
"Just...go slow, okay?"
Brian tried to block out the images as they all came at him at once.
"Like the first time?"
And another one, one that haunted him.
"I want you safe, I want you around..."
Too many ghosts. Brian pulled himself together and turned around. He knew a place where Ed, the super, kept a can of gasoline in the garage.
That was the only way to handle the bed.
Brian made his way to the steps when he stopped yet again.
No, he couldn't do the bed. Well, first off, because burning the bed might cause a fire to spread throughout the whole building and the thought of being responsible for more deaths (well, why shouldn't he, he thought, misery loves company) would just add to the already heavy burden of guilt he was carrying around. But most importantly, maybe, just maybe, if he laid on the bed and closed his eyes and went to sleep, he could dream about Justin again. He could dream about the first time they had made love, after the bashing, about how he held onto him from behind all night and he could remember the slow kisses and the wonderful little sounds that poured from his young lover's mouth.
That sounded like a good idea. So with that he climbed into bed, fully clothed and lay down, his face looking up at the ceiling at that spot that Justin likes to stare at when he's deep in thought.
Justin didn't know that he knew.
Brian closed his eyes, and for a brief moment he had the lovely idea that wouldn't it be nice if he never had to open them again.
The vision wouldn't come. He then lay on his side, just as he had that night and yet, it wouldn't come.
The only vision Brian had before he finally closed his eyes for the last time that night was that of his mother, telling him he would be damned for all eternity for the sole transgression of loving Justin.
He realized as he drifted off to sleep, that Saint Joan was right for once in her life.
Because this was his hell.
And back in the world more well known...
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.
Brian drove home contemplating the revelations made in the last few hours, their implications swimming around in his head.
Lindsay, Michael and himself, had all agreed to still not say anything to Justin.
Brian had no problem with that. After all, what was he supposed to say anyway?
By the way, I'm not really your lover, the man you obviously love.
Because that was so painfully obvious in the way the kid responded to him, touched him, made love to him.
"But hey! I'm just as good. Oh, and yes, there are two of everyone out there. Well, not you, because you died over there.
Yes, he could see himself doing that.
Brian had a sudden chill run down his spine every time he thought about that, what happened to Justin. Because it was no longer a faceless individual, who's face had been flashed across the news every so often, his name popping up while commentators talked casually of violence in society today.
The name had a face and the face was attached to a living, breathing human.
A living, breathing human that was currently residing in his loft.
And Brian had to admit, he liked him.
He didn't know what he felt more guilty about - the fact that he was cheating on himself or that he hadn't been there in the first place.
Because it he had, then Justin Taylor would have been alive where he came from.
And that thought was too much to handle, so he just filed it away in a folder in his locked file cabinet.
He didn't want to think about it, so he wouldn't. Then it wouldn't bother him.
But it didn't matter what he did, because the thought was still there. If he had just been there that night...
As he exited his Jeep, he cursed cell phones.
When he arrived at the loft, he found Justin was hunched over the computer desk.
"Hey," Justin said while looking up, smiling half-heartedly.
"I got in touch with Michael..."
"I know," Justin said.
Brian looked on in confusion.
"I just got the weirdest phone calls," Justin said as he leaned back in his chair, his shirt riding up over his taut belly and Brian did not need to be thinking about that right now. Justin got up and came over to Brian. "First, I got a call from Michael, who gave the lame excuse for calling me about the storyboards. Then he kept asking me if I was okay. It was really weird," Justin said as he shook his head.
So much for laying low, Brian thought. "Well you know Michael."
"Yeah, but then Lindsay called. She asked the same things. Then before she hung up, she said 'bye sweetie, I just wanted to hear your voice,'" Justin said, smirking.
Yeah, real subtle.
"They just care about you, ya know," Brian said as he took Justin in his arms and looked down at the blond and smiled.
Justin looked up at Brian warily. "And you Brian? Do you?"
Brian smiled and started kissing Justin along his jawline. "What do you think?" he whispered into his ear.
Justin sighed. Brian still hadn't answered his question. This was as good as he was to get.
"Can we just go to bed Brian? I'm really beat," Justin pleaded.
"I know...I'm pretty drained too. Come on," Brian said as he led Justin up the stairs to the bedroom.
There they both proceeded to strip down to their underwear and climb into bed. Justin lay on his side, facing away from Brian.
Brian spooned himself behind Justin, trying to give the boy warmth, giving himself warmth in the process. He really needed that.
It worked and he started to fall into a peaceful sleep, trying to not think about tomorrow and the set of challenges that he would have to face.
For now, he would rest.
Justin lay facing the other way, Brian's arms trapping him against the chest behind him, and try as he might, he just couldn't get warm enough.
I know I didn't get back to all my feedback quickly because of sick kids and all, but I will so please don't stop from commenting.
I really love hearing from you!!!!!