First off - like I said, bigger than Geraldo's Al Capone vault!
That's all I have to say about that!
Okay! Here's the next chapter!
I hope you all enjoy!
******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
Chapter 18 Brian gets help
Chapter 19 Brian reaches out to Justin
For some strange reason, somewhere in the back of his mind, the part that still cared about what was going on in his life, he couldn't help but think that this was important.
Really, really important.
He grabbed his keys, which he found strewn in a corner and exited the loft, not really caring about the fact that the wall that had been directly in front of him had been expanding and contracting the whole time he had been on the phone.
Brian made his way through the maze of the bathhouse, traveling corridors very well known to him. The last time he had been here, he had been fucking Father Tom (Tom, just Tom), Justin at his side.
He remembered that night. Who he was fucking was not important (and would have been forgotten had it not been for his God-fearing mother), but he did remember the look on Justin's face. It was that look that showed he was in control whenever Justin topped someone else, a look that said he was in the driver's seat and his passenger was only too happy to be along for the ride. This was what he loved most about date night. Not the randomness of who they fucked, well, okay, being honest with himself, that too, but mostly it was that look, for those events were the only times he would get to see it on his young lover's face and he was glad he could share it with him.
When Justin was with him and only him, the look on Justin's face was different. It was one of willingness, his trust completely put in the older man, his faith that Brian would never hurt him as he put the control into Brian's hands.
Brian shook his head clear of that memory.
No sense in going there.
He rounded another corner and he was struck with another memory - the one of finding David at the baths last year. The look on his face as he had been caught, no longer so confident in his arrogant viewpoint about what gay males should be doing in their 'monogamous' relationships. The triumph he had felt at that moment had overshadowed why he had originally shown up at the baths that night to begin with.
And of course, that memory brought him back to Justin, because everything always led back to Justin. The reason he had gone to the baths that night was because that had been the night Justin told him he was not going to Dartmouth, but to the Art Institute, right there in the good old Pitts.
Michael and the gang had been so smug in their assessment that he had gone to the baths so that he could show Justin that no matter what he did, he was still his own man.
They were partially right. The other fact was, and he hadn't wanted any of them to know it at the time, and only now, after the shit had hit the fan, could he admit to it, was that he was simply relieved.
And therein the truth lied.
He was relieved.
Now he would give everything that he owned, everything that he hadn't trashed yet, to find out that the boy was indeed still alive and just at Dartmouth.
But he wasn't.
So no sense in going there either.
Brian rounded a corner and came face to face with two people who looked extremely out of place.
"I hear there are tours here every hour on the hour. It's quite," Brian chuckled, "educational."
"Brian," Sabah said as he advanced on Brian to shake his hand in greeting, "my mother insisted it be here...I would have chosen differently."
"Oh, this is the best place. They would never suspect me here," the woman said as she looked at Brian. "Nina, the name's Nina, Mr Kinney."
"Ah mama! I think you do these things to me on purpose! How could I bring my mother to a place like this?" Sabah said, waving his hands wildly in the air.
"Always complaining," the woman said as she turned to Brian. "You should see him when Patricia sends him to the store to get Kotex."
Sabah rolled his eyes. "Please mama, tell the man what you told me so we can leave and this gentleman can get on with his life." Then Sabah lowered his voice, "and what did I say about mentioning the 'K' word?"
"So look," Brian started, not wanting to be part of the little family drama any more than he had to, "as I told your son on the phone, I already know what happened to the Taylors."
"I trust you found out what happened to their son," Nina said crossing her arms over her chest.
Brian bit his lip and looked away.
"You cared for the boy?" the woman continued.
"Yes, you could say that," Brian said and swallowed.
"I could and I did. Your feelings run very deep," Nina said and then turned to face Brian. "Mr Kinney, I have the sight..."
Brian shook his head as if he didn't hear right and then laughed. "So you can see my feelings for Justin because you're psychic?"
"Mr Kinney," Nina sighed, "I was trying to get to the point. I don't need the sight to see that you have feelings for Justin. I have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Give me more credit than that. I saw the look you gave when I brought up the boy."
"Man, he was a man," Brian said. "Okay, so what is the point?"
"When you came to my door the other night," Nina continued.
The other night, Brian thought. Was it only just a little over a gdy and a half ago? It felt like a lifetime.
"When you came to my door the other night," Nina repeated, knowing she had lost Brian there for a moment, "I saw it on you. You see, everyone has an aura about them. They can be in blues, in greens, in purples, even blacks and golds."
"I got it. They come in all the colors of the rainbow," Brian said snidely.
Nina raised an eyebrow. "Everyone here," Nina said as she looked around at the men in their various positions of carnal pleasure, "are exhibiting many colors. They're always changing depending on moods...they go up and down, change colors, brighten, dim. So many different hues right now I couldn't even begin to describe...oh my! What are they doing to that man?" Nina exclaimed.
Brian and Sabah turned to look in her direction. Brian smirked, "why have one dick up your ass when you can have two. Continue, I find this fascinating," Brian sarcastically intoned.
"Mama!" Sabah said. "Don't look!"
Nina peeled her eyes away from the two men.
Without breaking her stride, Nina continued. "You find it fascinating, hmmm? Oh you think you know everything Mr Kinney but you're in for a few surprises here. So as I was saying, we all have different colors, and the brightness varies..."
"Yes I got that. I understand that you have the sight to see everyone's aura," Brian finished.
Brian couldn't completely discount what the woman was saying. He knew he didn't need to have the sight in order to see Justin's aura.
He always just glowed.
"No matter what they look like, they all seem to be the same in one way...they go in one direction. Yours doesn't," Nina said, looking at Brian warily.
Brian raised an eyebrow again. "So...all this...is about my skewed aura? I think I should be leaving now," Brian said as he made to leave.
"No Mr Kinney. Your aura is indeed skewed. But where you come from, it's not," Nina said, hoping that would make it clearer somehow.
"So," Brian started, trying not to laugh in the woman's face, "I'm an alien or something?" Brian then laughed incredulously.
"Mr Kinney," Nina started again.
"Brian," Brian said. This Mr Kinney shit was giving him a headache.
"Brian, you don't belong here," Nina stated.
"You said that the other night."
"Imagine, if you can, and I know you can, because things seem to be all wrong right now, aren't they Brian?" Nina asked.
Brian didn't answer and looked away.
"Right there! They are, aren't they? You came to the Taylor house, looking for the boy..."
"Leave Justin out of this," Brian growled.
"No! No, I think I not," Nina said.
"Mama," Sabah warned.
"You want your Justin back?" the woman asked as she raised an eyebrow.
Brian stopped and addressed Nina directly. "The time line? You could fix it?" Brian asked excitedly, trying not to get his hopes too high. How could this mess ever be fixed again?
Nina sighed. "Time can not be changed Mr Kinney...Brian," Nina corrected. "The time line, as you put it, was never changed, it's constant. Time is constant."
"It was changed!" Brian yelled.
"Was it that night Brian?" Nina asked. "The night you came to our house? Is that when everything seemed different?"
"Before that, after I got off the plane from Chicago...maybe while I was in Chicago," Brian rambled on. "Before I went there, everything was fine. Justin was..."
"Alive?" Nina prompted.
Brian looked up at the woman and sighed, "yes."
"When you were in Chicago, did you talk to him on the phone?"
"I had no time...and he was kinda mad at me, and I tried the loft and I couldn't get him...it was right after I landed the Brown account. I called Michael instead..."
Nina looked at Brian questioningly, "your friend?"
"Yeah...and he said he was working on some storyboards with Justin, so everything must have been fine then..."
Brian was racking his brain to figure out when it must have happened. But without knowing when Justin just...disappeared from his...
Brian shook his head clear as he heard Nina further prompting him.
"Then?" the woman asked again.
"Then I went to a nightclub that night and took a plane the next morning, and came home to everything being fucked up. But I don't know what you're getting at, if you say time can't be changed..."
"A nightclub?" Nina asked, ignoring Brian's ranting.
"This underground night club in Chicago," Brian said despondently. "Look..."
"I'm not sure of where exactly all the doorways are," Nina said, more to herself. "But one of them could have been there..."
"Mr Kinney...Brian...I don't have time to go over this with you. Just know, that I think you stumbled through one of the doorways into this world," Nina finished.
"This world?" Brian queried. He had been hoping for something more concrete and now she was babbling about different worlds.
"Yes," Nina nodded. Sabah put his hand over his forehead.
"Mama, do you know how you sound right now?" Sabah exclaimed.
"I'm sorry," Brian chuckled again, "you're very entertaining, but this world is my world. It's just all," Brian said and waved his arms around, "fucked up right now."
"Is it Brian?" Nina asked. "The time line hasn't changed...time is a constant, as I've said before...you're simply in the wrong world!"
Sabah sighed again. "Mr Kinney, what mama is trying to say...that she took a long time to explain to me, is that there are two worlds."
"I was just getting to that," Nina pouted.
"Parallel worlds," Brian droned.
Brian stopped and looked at both of them.
Now normally Brian was not the kind of man to believe in otherworldly things.
He really didn't give a rat's ass about Bigfoot, the lost city of Atlantis, ghosts and the such. But the events of the past few days had certainly changed his mind on the matter and it was with that, that Brian didn't discount anything they had to say.
In fact, it was as if someone had turned on all the lights in a room, after it had been shrouded in total darkness.
And the light was blinding him.
"I never thought of that," Brian said very slowly, Nina nodding her head in the background, knowing the distraught man was finally catching on.
It started to click into place.
"So Justin?" Brian started.
"Is most definitely alive where you come from," Nina finished for him.
"But I don't get it," Brian started talking excitedly. "Parallel worlds, everything seems different yet still the same. Shouldn't things be really changed..."
"There's an old saying, 'the more things change, the more they stay the same,'" Nina shrugged.
It made more and more sense the longer he thought about it.
It was silly for him to think he had changed the time line. Because time is and will always be a constant. Father Tom and Nina were right.
He was simply in the wrong place.
Things started to click more and more quickly, images running through his head at rapid fire.
But he kept coming back to one thing.
Because, as he always said, everything comes back to Justin.
Brian looked wildly around the club, his entire being settled on Nina in front of him. He grabbed her around the top of her arms, "how do I get back?"
"Well, now you see," Nina said and then stopped again. "Where did his arm go?" Nina shrieked as she took in the sight of the two men across the room.
Sabah looked over and covered his mother's eyes. "Don't look mama." Nina grabbed Sabah's hand off her face.
"Did he put his fist?" Nina asked. "I've seen contortionists in India who could...but that..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, nothing says 'I love you' like a good fisting," Brian said off-handedly. "Please, Nina, focus. How do I get back?"
Brian needed to know everything right now. He never needed to know anything so badly as he did right now.
He felt alive again.
"It's not as easy as you think Mr Kinney," Nina said in all seriousness.
"But there's a way, right?" Brian asked, not being deterred in the slightest.
"Yes, there's a person I'm going to send you to...they're at Joe's Shoe Repair. In old town Pittsburgh...ask for Joe."
"This Joe...will know what to do?" Brian asked.
"Yes Mr Kinney," Nina nodded. "If Joe doesn't know, then no one will."
"The other night, you slammed the door on my face why?" Brian asked, suddenly remembering the scared look on the woman's face.
"Brian, the guardians, the they of who I sometimes speak...look, Joe can explain much better. It won't be easy, that's all I can say. And the guardians are not the type to easily forgive." Nina stopped and sighed, hanging her head in shame. "I wanted to hide from them, to not get involved for the safety of my family. But I realized in all good conscience, that I couldn't live with my family if I had allowed you to continue thinking you were in the right place. I love my family too much and I know I'm stronger than that," Nina finished and smiled wanly.
"Thank you," Brian said while smiling. He wasn't stupid. Obviously this woman had gone to some sort of risk to tell him all this. And what that risk was and who these guardians she spoke of were, didn't really matter much at the moment.
He was going back.
Come hell or high water, he was going back.
And with that thought firmly planted in his mind, he picked the small woman up and twirled her around. "Thank you," he said again as he kissed her on the cheek and then put her down.
"Oh my!" Nina said and smiled a goofy smile.
"I have to go...Joe...Joe's shoe repair, got it!" Brian stated excitedly.
"Yes," Nina said while Brian shook Sabah's hand.
"Good luck and Godspeed Mr Kinney," he said.
"Thank you. Both of you...thank you."
Brian made to leave. "Oh Mr Kinney," Nina said before he left.
"Here, take this," Nina said as she handed him a roll of candy, Indian writing printed on one side.
"Is this some kind of candy, I don't know, to help me?" Brian chuckled. "What, does it have magical properties?" After all, anything was possible.
"No they're breathmints," Nina said and rolled her eyes. "When was the last time you brushed?"
Sabah rolled his eyes.
Brian smiled and left the bath house, running toward the nearest exit.
"Do you think he'll be okay mama?" Sabah asked.
"I don't know Sabah...I don't know. But I'd say he is very determined to get back to his Justin."
"Mama?" Sabah said uneasily, "can we leave now? I think I'm being cruised." Sabah looked over at the two men who were waiving at him.
"And why shouldn't you be?" Nina asked, as they started walking out of the Baths, "I've always said you're a very handsome man."
And with that, the two people left the bath house.
Brian broke every speed limit and ran every yellow light to get to Joe's Shoe Repair in record time.
And there it was. A small hole in the wall type place, the sign in the shape of an old shoe.
Brian parked the Jeep in a red zone and ran into the shop. There was an obese woman standing at the counter, arguing with a little man, standing behind the counter.
There was no other way to describe the little man than that he was the spitting image of Steve Buscemi.
"Look, I told you already. You keep comin' back here with your broken heels and I keep telling you, these have a load restriction," the man droned on.
"Why, I never!" the woman exclaimed.
"Yeah, I bet you never. The only way you'd get laid is if some guy who was totally hard up rolled you around in flour and looked for the wet spot."
"I'm taking my business elsewhere," the woman huffed. "You're disgusting."
"What you should be taking your business to is Jenny Craig, down the street," the little man yelled after the woman, who had passed Brian on her way out.
"She'll be back. I'm the only one who can fix her fucking shoes," the man said, as he leaned against the counter. "I'm the only one she has a rapport going with."
"Yes, I could tell that by the way she left, crying," Brian said, a note of sarcasm in his voice.
"Oh well, well, aren't we the high and mighty one. So Alice," the man said as he smiled lazily at Brian, peering up at the man, "did you come to join the tea party?"
Brian looked at the man and smirked. "Who are you? The Mad Hatter?"
"I like that. That's fucking funny, you're a real fucking funny guy," the man chuckled and came around the counter. "I'm Joe and I'd say you'd be wanting my services right about fucking now."
And in the other place
"I need to...to go," Justin stuttered, turned and walked out of the loft, leaving Brian yelling after him.
Justin took to the stairs and did the only thing he could think of to do.
Justin had run out of the loft, not knowing exactly where he was headed. He kept running until he came to a street corner and saw...
Justin stood around with the others and watched Ethan finish his set. Justin wasn't exactly listening to the music. He was still replaying the last bit of music that he had just heard in his head.
You know I love you, right?
Oh how long had he wanted to hear those words! And now that he had, they were so empty and without any comfort whatsoever.
It convinced him more than anything what he needed to do would be the right thing.
He needed to convince himself that he was good enough for somebody.
And that he was plain and simply, just enough for somebody.
Somebody who wouldn't lose themselves trying to be what they thought Justin wanted them to be.
Somebody Justin wouldn't have to feel guilty about loving.
Justin shook his head clear as he heard the sound of applause, signaling the end of Ethan's solo.
While everyone was putting money in Ethan's case, Justin walked up to the musician himself. "Hi."
"Hi," Ethan responded shyly. "Couldn't get enough of my show the first time around?" he laughed. "Are you okay?" Ethan asked, noticing something wrong with the beautiful man who he had met on his birthday. He remembered his name was 'Justin.'
"No," Justin said and then sighed. "Yeah."
"Problem with the boyfriend?" Ethan asked, raising one eyebrow. He had to admit, he had wanted to get to know Justin better, but then had been sadly disappointed to find that he was involved with someone else. Maybe this was a good thing.
Ethan kicked himself for thinking such a thing.
He started walking, Justin following in step with him.
"Yes, he um..."
Ethan looked over at Justin. "This is the one that doesn't believe in birthdays?"
"He said helovedme," Justin rushed out.
"He said, 'he loved you?'" Ethan repeated. Okay, maybe this wasn't such a good thing.
Ethan kicked himself for thinking such a thing again.
"It's funny," Justin started talking, not caring one wit about talking to a stranger about his woes. "I've been waiting for those words for a long time..."
"And now he's said them?"
Justin sighed. "It's all wrong. He's wrong. I don't know...he's changed since we've been together. Well, I mean, at first I thought for the good, and then recently, he started doing dumb things, and then in the past few days, he's been like a completely different person..."
"A person is supposed to change a little after you've been together. It's a good thing to change each other," Ethan started.
"But he's not the," Justin said and then became frustrated. "It's like a Catch-22, okay? I want him to change so he'll love me and then when he changes, he's not the same person anymore that I fell in love with. You know?"
"So," Ethan started, trying to get a grasp on what Justin was saying, "he shouldn't say 'I love you,' and just keep taking you for granted?" Ethan asked, laughing slightly at the preposterous idea.
"No! See? That's just it! I don't want him to change, but I do, and because of that...I just wished he really did love me," Justin said and slumped down on a park bench they came upon.
Ethan took the seat next to him. "But he said he loved you..."
"That's just it. They were only words. He didn't mean them. I can tell when he means something and this time he didn't mean it!"
"I don't know what to say...if I were to say the words, I would mean them...look...you wanna go somewhere for a cup of coffee?" Ethan asked.
Justin looked at the young musician before him. Yes, he could see being with him. He could see even being somewhat happy. He could even see Ethan saying 'I love you' one day and meaning it.
But it wasn't what he wanted.
What he wanted was Brian.
And before Brian royally fucked up and said those words, Justin would have gladly gone with Ethan, but Brian had said the words. Whether he meant them or not was inconsequential. He gave them to him.
And Justin knew he couldn't drag Ethan through this.
And most importantly, he knew Brian deserved an explanation.
He needed to confront Brian with it.
It was time to stop running away.
He finally got the words and he now knew they weren't what he wanted.
"No Ethan," Justin said as he got up from the bench. "I need to talk to Brian." Justin smiled one last time at Ethan and with that, turned and left.
Ethan sat at the bench, watching as the young man walked away.
There wasn't anything for him there. It was obvious from what Justin said that there was more going on in their relationship than what Justin was saying.
Ethan sighed and leaned against the bench, smoothing his hand over his violin case. He wished he could have someone who would love him enough like that and that he could love in return.
At least he knew he always had his music.
I love feedback like our Brian loves our Justin!!!!
(And, yeah, like Ethan loves his music. :P)