The long awaited chapter!
I want to thank shadownyc for going over it and making sure it flowed right and wasn't too confusing.
Also, I will get back to fb from the last chapter - I just wanted to concentrate on this!
******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.
banner by the wonderful skywalkersdream
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
Chapter 20 Brian goes to the Baths
Chapter 21 Brian talks to Mikey<
Chapter 22 Brian shoots the shit with Joe
Chapter 23 Brian and the boys go see Jo
This chapter will flip flop between the two worlds occasionally. You'll know which world you're in - it's not rocket science.
Also, anything in bold are the thoughts of the guardians. Yes, they are sentient beings.
Michael and Justin moved away from Brian as he faced the wall.
"Are you going to summon them," Michael asked and swallowed, "Now?"
"Yes, it is time, but we must wait. I must do it at the exact same time as my counterpart. I'll know," Jo assured them with a wave of her arm before the two men could further protest. "I'll know."
Jo looked at Michael and Justin who were standing at the other side of the shop. "It's begun," she said and proceeded to start chanting.
Brian listened to the words being said.
It was real.
It was happening.
Any minute now, he would be confronted by something he had no idea he could and would be able to confront.
Suddenly the walls started rippling, followed by large waves and the waves continued to grow.
The waves grew to take over the ceiling and the floor.
"Oh God!" Justin said as he took in the scene before him.
"Don't look Justin!" Brian yelled. "Don't look!"
The walls started vibrating viciously, as if someone were trying to get out.
The walls were creaking and there were loud groans coming from every crevice.
The loudness of the creaking and groaning made it so Jo almost couldn't be heard.
"Now! Cover your eyes!" she yelled. "They're coming!"
Michael pushed Justin to the ground and fell on top of the boy, shielding him from whatever was to come.
Brian took one look back to make sure they weren't looking and turned around, just in time to close his own eyes.
There was a sudden implosion and Brian made to step away from whatever debris that would come flying out at him.
But there was none.
But he felt something there.
Something that enveloped him. He could feel it all around him.
The atmosphere was suddenly too cold for him and yet it was too stifling, as if he were confined to a small space and couldn't breathe.
And then that something wasn't a mere feeling but very real as he could feel the thing start to grab him. He had a sudden rush of light-headedness as he was swooped from the ground and could feel himself hoisted into midair. But that couldn't be right, because there was no way he could be that far up.
The ceiling of the shoe store was not that high, but he had felt as if he had gone four or five stories into the air.
The hand, and could it be called a hand, that was gripping him, was crushing him under its weight. And then no longer did he feel light headed, but repulsed as he was brought close to the thing's face because he could feel it's very breath on his skin.
And something else, he felt as if something was touching him all over.
But it wasn't touching him, it was reading him.
It didn't care what he felt like, but what he was feeling.
And what was he feeling?
He was scared.
There was fear there.
But he wouldn't be afraid. He thought about what Justin would do because even though he had only known the kid for a few days, he knew without a doubt the kid would face this thing down no matter what and ask it if that was all it had.
So Brian cleared his mind.
He thought about what he needed to do.
He needed to go back.
He needed to set things right with the girls.
So he could set things right with his son.
He needed to go back to make sure that Michael became the person he should and needed to become.
He was his best friend, and he loved him and he owed it to him.
He needed to go back because the other Brian would do everything, and he was sure of this as he was sure he had two balls, that the other Brian would do everything in his power to get back to his Justin.
And he needed to make sure Justin had his Brian.
So he could do this.
His mind was at ease for the first time in his life. He knew what he was doing.
The ghosts of his past were no longer very important, and really, after this, laughable.
He was given a glimpse of what he could become, and his parents were wrong.
He could become a man who was worthy of love, and who could love in return.
And he could say that.
And so with that, Brian opened his eyes.
And confronted the thing in front of him.
And back in the other world, at Joe's shop...
Brian stepped back slightly from the walls as he took them in. The wall was being punched out from the inside, as if something were trying to get out, the moaning and groaning and creaking of the walls becoming extremely loud.
Joe stopped chanting and looked over at Brian.
"They're coming," Joe said and shook his head back and forth, "And man, are they pissed!"
"Joe?" Brian said warily as he stepped away from the wall.
The wall's pounding and groaning were increasing in its intensity.
"Now! They're here!" Joe yelled. "Don't look at it!"
Michael huddled in the corner, his eyes closed tight, his hands over his ears.
Brian stood facing the wall, watching as it grew to twice its size and looked back at Joe. "What?"
Brian turned back suddenly as the wall seemed to explode, and yet he was hit with no debris. In fact, there was no wall. And he had no idea what was behind the wall because there was something blocking it.
A very big something.
And he was pretty sure it was one of the guardians.
"Holy...Mother...fucker," Brian gasped.
Brian wasn't sure what the whole creature looked like because he couldn't take the whole being in one view. It filled the shop, if that was what you could call the place he was currently residing in, for Brian was quite certain he was no longer in the shoe store unless of course the shoe store had grown to about ten times its size.
Brian stood before the massive creature.
There were tentacles, or maybe they would be better called feelers, stretching out from every angle.
Of its mouth.
There were arms, several of them in fact.
All with long claws.
Brian was pretty sure one of the claws was roughly his size.
The guardian looked down at Brian and groaned, long and low.
Brian stood in front of the guardian and stared up at it. His breathing was ragged. He could feel his heart as it begged to leave his chest. His legs felt as if they could collapse at any time. If he could speak at the moment, he wasn't sure of what would come out.
He could understand how people could lose their minds by just looking at the thing in front of him.
His mind wanted to jump ship also, along with the rest of his body.
But he stood firm.
And stared at the thing.
He would not show fear.
He would not back down. This was it. He was going home.
If a young man could walk down a street full of people on his own, people he was terrified of, then he could handle this.
If a young man could get up on a stage and dance in front of everyone to prove he would not be taken for granted, he could handle this.
If a young man could change his art and face the dean of admissions so he could continue following his 'dream,' you bet your bottom dollar he could do this.
Brian stood taller and faced the thing head on.
If this thing thought it was scary, it had nothing over Brian having come face to face with Justin's grave.
Brian looked at the thing above him. It continued to bellow and thrash. It bent low and tried to push Brian back and forth, as if he were a ball to play with.
And still, Brian stood firm.
The guardian picked Brian up and brought him close to it's mouth, the tentacle-feeler things feeling every square inch of him.
Brian looked at the creature. He managed to stare it back in the eyes.
Well, one of them.
The creature breathed out and stopped groaning as it looked at Brian once more.
Brian stood firm.
He was confronting it. For once in his life, he was confronting something head on.
Nothing was in the way. No other voices. No one talking in his ears. No one telling him he'll fail and that he can't do it.
He was going home and there were no more obstacles.
And when he got home, there would be no more obstacles in the way there either.
Because for the first time in as long as he could remember, things were very clear.
He knew what was important now. His friends, his son, his son's mothers, and Justin.
Because everything led back to Justin.
His image, his reputation, and all that it came with, were obstacles.
No longer would he allow those things to control him. He was in control.
He no longer feared that loving Justin meant losing himself. He could still be Brian.
But all that would have to wait, because right now he had to get home first.
And the first step in going home, was to get this thing to take him back.
What was it Joe had said?
He was in charge.
Because he was. This thing was nothing more than the cosmic cab driver that would take him back, trying to locate the shortest distance between the two worlds.
And maybe, just maybe, he would leave him a tip.
It wondered how it was brought to this, one of the ancient ones many, many millenia old. It had been summoned and it had come, despite its unwillingness to. But the law was the law and it had been summoned by one of them, one more ancient than it, so it had to come.
The sheer audacity! It had been called upon to transport a mere mortal, something that would never even see a full century. The mortal should have been destroyed, along with the other one.
It had hoped dearly that the mortal it had been summoned for was weak minded for then the law didn't apply and the mortal would be food.
It hated the strong willed ones.
Which this one appeared to be.
It wasn't backing down.
The mortal had only one purpose. That was to go home.
There was nothing there to feast on anyway.
It would take the mortal back.
But it would find the guardian that had allowed this to happen and make it pay dearly.
Brian looked into the guardian's eyes, not backing down.
This was the school yard bully he couldn't walk away from.
The guardian suddenly tightened its hold on Brian, groaned again and swept Brian around, his head trying in vain to stay on his shoulders.
There was a moment of time there where he felt the world crushing in on him, the coldness of the flesh of the guardian almost freezing him where he was.
Nothing, but a floor, and a wall behind him.
And now, back to the other place where the other Brian was left hanging in mid-air...
And so with that, Brian opened his eyes.
And confronted the thing in front of him.
It had been summoned.
How dare they summon it.
But the law was the law, and if they chose to summon it, they could do so. They had an agreement and one never went against the agreement with them.
But for what? For this mere mortal? Such a small insignificant life really.
Although, it was most interesting. The mortal was showing no sign of fear.
It was rather...disappointed.
They weren't supposed to confront it!
It needed more. It would wait, for the mortal would surely start to weaken and then it would be food.
What was this?
The mortal suddenly opened its eyes and was confronting it.
This mortal was staring it down.
If this continued the mortal would surely win.
And if the mortal won, it would make sure the guardian who had allowed this oversight to occur in the first place would pay dearly.
Brian looked at the thing before him.
He wanted to scream, but he didn't.
He wanted to thrash about in its grip, but he didn't, nor he couldn't.
He continued to stare the thing down and would not give in.
It was at that moment the thing groaned loudly and swept him around, Brian getting that light-headed feeling once again, and then a feeling as if being crushed by something large.
And then, he felt the floor.
The floor was beneath him.
The floor of the shoe shop, which appeared to be normal.
As Brian looked up, he caught sight of a little man.
A man who looked exactly like Steve Buscemi.
"Hey, what a fucking ride, huh?" the man laughed while shaking his head back and forth. "Man, that's like an E ticket from Hell!"
"Who...who are you?" Brian asked.
"Joe," the man said, "and you owe me pie."
And back at the other world, where Brian was still on the floor...
Nothing, but a floor, and a wall behind him.
And there was a nice little lady standing in front of him.
"Hello Mr. Kinney and welcome home," she said.
Brian furrowed his brows. "Who are you?"
"No you're not," Brian said as he shook his head back and forth, the motion giving him a slight headache.
"I beg to differ," the woman scoffed. "I should know who I am."
"You're a nice little lady and Joe's...well...he's not."
"That's because he's the Joe over there. I'm the Jo over here."
"And over here would be?" Brian prompted.
"Home Mr. Kinney," Jo smiled as she indicated the far wall.
And there Brian saw them.
He saw Michael standing and brushing himself off. And helping someone else up.
"Oh God!" Brian exclaimed.
Brian tried pulling himself off the floor but stumbled, finally making it up and then ran at a frantic pace towards the duo and wrapped his arms around a very stunned Justin.
"Brian!" Michael exclaimed.
"Brian," Justin mumbled, who was currently being crushed by Brian.
"Oh God, it's you! It's you!" Brian panted out excitedly as he pulled Justin away from him. Brian looked down at Justin and smiled. "It's you. Oh God, I was so scared. I was so fucking scared," Brian mumbled again and again as he crushed Justin to him once more.
"Is it really you Brian?" Justin whispered as he took in the disheveled man before him.
"I love you. I love you so much," Brian said as he rained kisses down on Justin's face. "I never want to be away from this again. I love you," Brian said as he crushed Justin to him yet again.
Justin stepped back from Brian. "Jo! You gave us the wrong Brian!" Justin said in a panic.
"I'm quite certain this is the correct one," Jo said and chuckled.
Justin looked up at Brian who was smiling back at him, a huge goofy grin lighting his face. He looked up into Brian's eyes and it was there.
That thing that marked him as his Brian.
And he could see it. It was there. Brian did love him.
It might as well have been tattooed right on his forehead.
"Brian!" Justin jumped into Brian's arms again and kissed him back furiously.
He didn't even care how bad Brian smelled.
"I just wanted to look at you again," Brian laughed as he pulled away and that goofy grin was back. He cupped Justin's face in his hands and looked long and hard into Justin's eyes. "Still the blue I remember." He then touched his forehead to Justin's and breathed in deeply.
He wanted to douse himself in that smell.
Brian was still looking at Justin and holding on tight to him when Michael approached the two.
Michael cleared his throat.
"Hey Mikey," Brian smiled and went to hug his best friend, never letting go of Justin as he did. All three were in a tight circle as the men embraced.
"It's good to have you back," Michael said as he went to kiss the man he had grown up with on the lips.
This was what it was all about. He had his friend back. And his friend had Justin back.
All would be right.
Brian reveled in the glow of the men before him. Never again would he take for granted what he had in these two men, his lover and soulmate, and his best friend and brother.
"And you," Michael said as he pointed accusingly at Justin. "You thought he didn't want to come back!"
Brian looked taken aback at Justin. "Sunshine!" Brian said in his mocking tone, "why the fuck would you ever think that?"
Justin was about to say something when Brian interrupted. "Not important. Just note," Brian said as he touched foreheads with Justin again, "I crossed over at great risk to my health, my sanity and my very life. Not to mention the fact," Brian said and laughed, "look at me! I look like shit. I haven't changed clothes in two fucking days!"
"The world must be coming to an end," Michael laughed.
"You are pretty ripe," Justin said as he scrunched his nose and laughed.
Michael broke away from the two men as they took up their vigil of kissing and touching each other and walked over to Jo.
"It seems my counterpart had quite an effect on Mr. Kinney," Jo said with a raised eyebrow.
Michael looked at Jo in confusion.
Jo laughed, "nevermind. Well, it seems that your Mr. Kinney and the other Mr. Kinney," Jo said and smiled when Michael's head turned towards her, "yes, he made it. It seems they had enough courage to cross. Quite impressive. I'd say that Mr. Taylor was brave enough for both of them."
Michael looked at Jo and smiled. "Fuck! He's always had enough for all of us."
"True, very true." Jo smiled back at Michael while she held out her hand, "it's been a sincere pleasure Mr. Novotny."
Michael shook her hand and then turned to look at the two men who seemed to be joined at the hip, as they stared at each other, Brian whispering things to Justin only they could hear.
Michael walked over and put his arms around the two men, "you guys ready to go?"
"Oh yeah," Brian said. "Wait," Brian said as he turned around.
But Jo wasn't there.
"Come on," Michael said, "I had a feeling she would be gone."
Brian took one look around the shop. It was completely normal again. And no Jo, or Joe, in sight.
He never even got the chance to say thank you. But somehow, Brian knew they already knew.
All three men left the shop and went to where the Jeep was parked on the curb.
But it wasn't there.
"Hey!" Justin said as he looked around. "Where's the car?"
Brian saw a little old lady waiting for the bus at her stop. "Excuse me," Brian asked of the lady, "did a nice policeman come by and tow my Jeep?"
"Why yes...yes he did," she said.
It was nice to know that in both worlds, there were still nice policemen.
And with that, Brian did something that felt entirely too good.
And finally, back at Joe's in the other world...
"Who...who are you?" Brian asked.
"Joe," Joe said, "and you owe me pie."
"No you're not. Jo is a nice little lady. You're...well...you're not."
"I'm Joe here. She's Jo there," Joe said and shrugged.
"Oh," Brian said. Right now, it made all the sense in the world. Brian looked up at the man and then the other side of the store.
"Brian!" Michael yelled as he came running over. "Jesus! You're okay. Shit, all that screaming and moaning...."
"Yeah, and that was just from monkey boy," Joe said as he pointed to Michael.
"I'm taking you home," Michael said as he helped his friend up.
"I'll call a cab for ya, it's the least I could do," Joe said.
"I think you've done enough Joe," Brian said.
"Yeah, fuck it, you're right," Joe said as he put the phone down. "I'm just fucking with you," he laughed and called for a cab.
"Brian?" Michael started.
"You'll never believe what was over there," Brian said as he shook his head back and forth.
"I think...I think I do. Did you meet...Justin?" Michael asked trepidly.
Brian laughed. "I bet that was all he talked about. Yeah...yeah I did." Brian put his hands on his temple. "I just want to get home."
The cab eventually came and Michael put Brian in it. The drive to the loft was silent as Brian came down from the high of confronting the guardian and everything that came with it.
Brian made his way up the elevator and to his loft where he put his key in the lock.
As he slid the door open, he took in the state of his living space.
"Oh fuck," he groaned.
He then did something he thought he never would have done.
To be concluded in chapter 25
Bring it on! :)