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THE QUIET MEN
by Randall Morgan

This is a teaser for a little multi-part B/J fiction I've been toying with. Takes place like three years after the Stockwell defeat. Interest level?

Chapter 1: Brian's POV

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever done. Like so many dumb ideas, it had an evil genesis in the brain of a very smart blond. Sometimes I think he comes up with this shit just to see if he can make me do it. Never one to resist a challenge, I cop to it and then the fun begins. This began sensibly, with a business trip to London. A very big account was landed over jet lag, bad food and cold, rainy weather. We celebrate our usual way, fucking our brains out in our hotel room as soon as the ink dried on the contract. Later, we go to our first relaxed dinner since we arrived in London a week ago. We choose a top restaurant with a view of a luminous Tower Bridge and the night boat traffic on the Thames. Ridiculously romantic.

The gig is over, we won. We don't have to impress anyone with how creative and clever we are, and we're way past trying to impress each other. We can just kick back, order overpriced food and drink and find ways to touch each other without alarming the straight diners surrounding our table. Making a scene is the last thing we want to do. You might think we got enough of that touching shit when we set a new record for consecutive numbers of orgasms without coming up for air a little earlier in the evening.

It doesn't work that way with us. The more we touch, the more we want to touch. The more we want to touch, and can't because of circumstances, the hotter we get. Freaks, yeah. We know.

"Brian," I should have known by the gleam in his baby blues and by the tone of his voice that I was about to be in trouble. "I was just thinking..."

"Stop it," I warn him. "You might sprain something. We burned up enough grey cells with this campaign and pitch. Give your brain a rest."

"Seriously," he leans into my shoulder for emphasis. We're on the same side of the table, seated on a navy velvet banquette and if anyone here takes that as a sign of intimacy between us, well, duh. "You know what's an hour from here by air?"

"Paris?" I wouldn't mind seeing Paris with him. The Louvre, the tranny clubs in the Latin Quarter, Notre Dame, the boy brothels on the Bois... we could do some real damage in Paris. Ooo la-la!

"Dublin," he says, and I narrow my eyes at him in confusion.

"Justin, you mean Dublin as in the Republic of Ireland?"

"Yeah, where else?"

"Tell me again why that should interest me?" Catholic, retro country, no real gay scene that I know of, so what's the point?

"Because you're Irish."

"So? I like Evian water, too, but I'm not heading to the source."

"You have no interest at all in seeing Ireland?"

"You have any interest in seeing...what the hell kind of name is Taylor?"

"I think it's English. I think I'm here, at my source."

We both laugh and order Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert. To hell with waistlines, we're celebrating. They have a cigar menu, too, for after dessert, with a slate of brandies. Now, this is a civilized country.

"Seriously, Brian," his hand is on my thigh, under the table. Again. If he goes any higher with it, he better mean business. He doesn't. Cock teaser. "Do you still have family in the old country?"

"Jesus Christ, Justin, do you?"

"Actually my family came over on the Mayflower, or soon after. The Irish invasion of America was much later."

"You did pay attention in history class, didn't you, Dudley?"

"Shut up," he says with a laugh. "Well, surprise, Brian. You do have family in the old country." He answers his own inquiry.

"How the fuck do you know?"

"I did some research."

"What kind of research?"

"Genealogy, Brian, what else?"

"My family is not the kind of family that gets written up in books."

"You'd be surprised what the library can tell you about your roots."

"Thank you, Kunta Kinte. What are you? A Mormon?"

He laughs. "A snoop. Did you know the Kinney family originated in County Kerry?"

"Stop. You've already told me more than I care to know."

"Your mom said..."

I hold up a hand to stop him. "My MOM?" He shrugs and gives me one of his most charming smiles. It's not working on me. "You talked to my mother?"

"I guess I didn't realize she's Irish too. Her family, the Clearys, came from the west of Ireland, around Boscommon."

"Back up. When did you talk to my mother and why are you still breathing? One look from the hydra turns men to stone."

"I think that's Medusa, Brian. She was pretty nice to me, as a matter of fact. I explained we were going over to England on business, and I was going to try and convince you to travel on to Ireland afterwards, and touch base with your background."

"My gay lover is having a little chat with my homophobic mother? About my roots? Well, this took me right off my feed. You can have the soufflé." As if on cue, the dessert arrives, and the aroma of the puffy confection changes my mind, especially when the waiter bashes in the top and fills it with a hard sauce laced with Grand Marnier. It tastes as good as it smells, and we take a time out from this bizarre conversation to devour the dessert.

Later, while I indulge in a Cohiba Double Corona Limitada, Cuban cigars are legal here, and a Courvoisier, he orders a double latte. And then he pounces again. "You have a lot of people in the Kinney family and some Clearys, too, who still live in Ireland. Did you know your mother's brother, Sean, re-patriated to Ireland during Vietnam?"

I stare at him. I didn't know my mother had a brother named Sean. "How illustrious. My uncle is a draft dodger."

"Aren't you the least bit curious about these people? They're you're blood!"

"They haven't made an effort to seek me out, so why should I seek them? Look, Justin, the people of my `blood' whom I've met already were less than inspiring to me. Why be further disappointed in my rotten heritage? I'd like to be able to believe I've risen above the family curse that resulted in a clan of drunken, combative losers."

He covers my hand with his, having an unerring ability to read when my bluster is tinged in pain. "Your uncle wants to meet you."

"And how the hell would you know that?"

"I wrote to him."

I stare at him, thinking I'm glad we fucked before dinner because right now I'd like to serve him up raw to the fat fuckers at the next table. "Fine, then you go visit my uncle. You seem a hell of a lot more interested in him than I am."

He instinctively retreats, but I know it's only a temporary respite. Once he gets his mind wrapped around something, he never lets go that easily. American Express pays for dinner, and then we walk along the river, enjoying the view and the solitude. It's chilly and he loops his arm through mine and leans into me a little, using my superior size as a windbreak. I've broken every dietary rule I follow with that dinner, and it seems to have settled in my mid-section like a load of bricks. Or is it the mention of my fucked-up family that solidified the fine food into an impenetrable mass?

"I was trying to do something nice for you, Brian," he says in a slightly whiney voice that makes me want to smack him.

"Don't meddle in shit you can't understand, Justin. And believe me, you can't understand my fucked-up family."

"No, you're the one who doesn't understand your fucked up family. I thought maybe this would help put those puzzle pieces in place. Give you some peace."

"I am at peace," I say with a defiant wrench of my arm out of his grip. "I don't give a fuck about any of them!" I walk a few steps forward before I realize he's stopped. I curse, pause, and turn to glare at him. He's standing where we were when I pulled my arm free. He's illuminated by a streetlamp, and I remember the first time I saw him on Liberty Avenue, standing under a street light looking like the little chicken that he was. Even in his jumped up suit and an alpaca overcoat, he's still that boy to me, always will be. We've lived together, for better or worse, for five years now, not including those lost months he was with Ian or the tentative time when we got back together, but didn't really share a living space for the first few months. Five fucking years. Most marriages don't last that long.

To add to the stress, we have a business in common. One we built from the ground up as partners, after the Stockwell disaster. It's been more successful than either of us dared hope. We have over a hundred people working for us, and our annual revenues are well into the millions. We're so entwined now, both professionally and personally, I couldn't get rid of him if I wanted to. Which I don't. Except for now, when I could drop kick him into the Thames.

No one thought we'd last this long, or this well. Least of all me. But we have, we showed them all, and god damn it, we're still in fucking love, whatever the fuck love is. Which doesn't mean he doesn't make me crazy, because he does. And vice versa. But we deal, and we move on and the good outweighs the bad ten fold. Okay, a thousand fold. He's my guy. The only one who could ever be my guy. Who will ever be my guy. I'm so stuck with him.

"What are you doing?" I ask with undisguised annoyance and he lifts that chin like a boxer daring me to strike first. If only I could. I wouldn't. Jack, my darling father, cured me of striking those whom you're supposed to love, but sometimes it would be nice to know that I could.

"I hate it when you treat me as irrelevant."

"And when do I do that, exactly?"

"Now, for one."

I light a cigarette, protecting the flame of my new gold Dunhill lighter from the wind. Here we go. A week without fighting, it's overdue. "I hate it when you decide you need to `fix' something in my life. And then you just go about fixing it, no matter what I may want."

"Fix it? Brian, I could spend the rest of my life trying to fix you and I'd still have an incomplete project, you are so fucked up."

I glare at him, hurt by that remark. It may be true, but it hurts, coming from him. "Then why the fuck are you still here?" I ask myself that question often, and I never give myself a satisfactory answer to my own inquiry.

"I guess because I love you, dickhead."

A couple walks by, hears his declaration, and the man says, dismissively, to the woman, "Poofs."

I want to snarl something at him, but I let it go. Fuck him, I don't know him, don't care about his opinion. I care what the blond thinks, though. I care about his opinion over any other opinion in the world. "But why do you love me?" I ask, and he walks up to me and places his gloved hands on my cheeks, staring into my eyes.

"Because you have such a big dick," he says with a serious twinkle and I have to laugh, dispelling the tension.

"This is true."

"Brian, I think your issues with your family overhang our intimacy, and keep a certain enforced distance between you and your emotions. You can't fix things with your dad, because he's dead. But your mom is still alive. And maybe if you saw the origins of your family that would give you a basic understanding of the race memories that mark your history."

I lean down and kiss him. Sometimes he is way too smart for me. "We both know what this is about, don't we? It's about the elephant in the room." I feel him tense. He tightens his hands on my face into a momentary squeeze.

"We said we wouldn't talk about that at all for three weeks. We're only one week into that hiatus. So shut up."

I nod. I'm more than happy not to discuss that elephant. It always devolves into ugliness between us. "I'm freezing my ass off. Let's get a cab back to the hotel."

He nods, slipping his hand into mine as we walk briskly towards a traveled street and hail a passing cab. We averted a blow up this time, but I know it's far from over. I know my partner. He has his mind made up, and this will take a lot of negotiation before we reach détente. In the back of the cab, which is a modern version of the old black boxes, virtually the same on the outside, but glammed up on the interior, he scoots over to me and I slip my arm across his shoulders. His pale hair is like spun gold against the black cashmere of my coat sleeve. He is so fucking beautiful, he activates all of my senses. I want to kiss him, touch him, put my dick in his hand and my tongue in his mouth. I want to be joined with him, part of him, the separation between us blurred.

"Later, Brian," he says with a smile. "We're almost there."

He can read my mind. How scary is that? And yet, how comfortable, too. Soulmates is such an overused word. But, in this case, he's my soulmate, and I'm his. More than lovers, more than partners, linked in some odd eternal struggle that will follow us from life to life. That sounds scarier than it is. If I'm going to be entwined, let it be with this one. I lean over and press my lips to his ear. I whisper our mantra to him, the words that mean so much to the two of us, but would mean nothing to anyone overhearing them. He beams at me and lets his leather-clad fingers drift across my cheek. We can't get to the hotel quick enough to suit me. I feel as if I haven't touched him in months. And therein is the root of our magic.

Go to Chapter 2

Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
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Beginning
July 25, 2004