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by Randall Morgan

A little late week treat. At least I HOPE you think it's a treat! LOL

Chapter 6: Justin's POV

Brian is finally sleeping soundly. First the nightmare, then that weird conversation, then the fear, and finally sleep. I slept too, but now the morning light has cascaded into the room, and I'm up. I take care to be especially quiet as he can be a light sleeper or a dead to the world sleeper, and I have yet to figure out when and why he is in one sleep mode as opposed to the other. I shower, dress, warmly, and go down to the café to get breakfast, because I'm famished and I don't want to wake him with room service. I leave him a note so he won't worry if he wakes up. Anyway, I have a date in a half hour. On the way out, I put that damned thimble in my pocket. It's as if I don't want to leave it with him, in case it has some dread power over him.

I eat a full Irish breakfast, since he's not here to snipe at me about my eating habits, and damn do they make great oatmeal! My mobile rings as I get a refill on my coffee after eating every scrap on my plate. A girl's voice, pleasant and with a musical Irish lilt, says, "Justin? It's Ronan."

I smile. "Hi! Where are you?"

"Lobby. Where are you?"

"Café. Come have some coffee with me. You can't miss me. I'm the blond in the blue sweater."

"Be right there."

Ronan is Brian's cousin, the daughter of his uncle who re-patriated to Ireland during Vietnam. She's between our two ages, late twenties, I think, and she's an associate professor of Irish Literature at Trinity College. We've been talking a lot leading up to this visit and she seems as enthusiastic about it as I am. She's never met any of her American relatives, and she finds it fascinating that one is coming to Ireland at long last. I like her before I even meet her. She's funny, irreverent, smart...all the things I love about Brian.

I watch the door for her. A couple comes in, too old, and then a young woman, but not Ronan. This girl is tall and slim, like a model, with a pretty face and green eyes, not unlike Brian's, but she's obviously of mixed race with a halo of curly dark auburn hair and café-mocha colored skin. She's wearing low slung jeans, a tummy sweater, a down-filled jacket and Doc Marten boots, with a striped scarf wrapped around her neck. When she smiles at me, I know. This is definitely Ronan. She has Brian's smile.

I stand to greet her, and she gives me a big hug. Damn, I hate it when even women are taller than me! She kind of reminds me of Daphne, with this mixed race thing going on, and that's comforting to me. She sits across from me and I motion for the waiter to bring her a cup. He does so, along with fresh coffee.

"So," she says with a wicked gleam in her beautiful eyes. "Surprised?"

I smile. "You did leave out that one tiny factor when you described yourself to me."

"What would that be? The slightly toasted color of my skin?" She teases, and I laugh. Interesting to hear a girl of such exotic looks speak with such an Irish voice.

"Frankly...." I shrug and she smiles. Again, the Brian smile.

"It gives me a little credibility, makes me a bit different than the homogenous society of this little island. I can't complain."

"Why would you? You could be a model, you're so gorgeous."

She laughs. "I did model a bit to put myself through college. Boring, standing around like an overpaid clothes hangar or even worse, a piece of raw meat. I hated it. My vanity wasn't strong enough to sustain it."

"So your mom is..."

"Black? Yes. Why do you think my dad left America?"

"I thought he was avoiding the war in Vietnam."

"Oh no. He couldn't be drafted. He's deaf in one ear from a childhood accident. He left because he fell in love with my mum and vice versa and his family and her family were just dreadful to them. Both sides of the family were irate. So they decided to tell the whole bloody clan to fuck off and they emigrated to Ireland. No one bothers them here. They've been happily married for decades, and had four little brats. I'm the second in line. In all this time, we've heard not word one from the American folks, including Brian's mum."

"She's kind of...cold."

Ronan shrugged. "We care not about it, Justin. Who needs them? We do well enough. Still, I would have liked to have known at least one of my grammies. But can't have it all. I'm sure Brian, being gay, has met with similar prejudices from his own family. Small-minded buggers."

"You're right about that."

"Ireland is no paradise, Justin. Still racial and religious prejudice, here, and plenty of prejudice against gay folk."

"There is no paradise," I confirm and she sighs.

"Not in this world of man, anyway."

We drink our coffee in pregnant pause, and then she smiles. "I have extended family here, the Cleary's, so I don't feel completely disconnected from my blood. When will we spring the awful truth on Brian? Can't wait to meet him."

"Soon. He had a bad night, so I'm letting him sleep."

"Is he tinn? Sick?"

"No. Just had some weird nightmares that kept him up."

"Poor thing, first night in a strange place, and it's a bad one. You love him muchly, don't you?"

I grin at her. "Muchly, yes. He's it for me, my life partner. The one."

"You're lucky. I've had little luck in the area of romance, Justin. Plenty have tried but none have got in. Not for more than a bit, anyway," she smiles at me and I nod.

"Brian was like that too. It took me awhile to make him realize just how much he wanted me."

She laughs. "Persistence is grand!"

"Do you speak Irish?" I switch gears.

"Aye, fluently. Why?" I pull the thimble out of my pocket and place it on the table. I see her look at it and frown. She makes no move to pick it up, in fact she shrinks back from it. "Where did you get that?" She demands.

"Brian found it, or someone put it in his pocket, he's unclear where it came from. It has some words engraved along the rim of it. Can you translate them?"

She wrinkles her nose in a perplexed expression. It's clear she doesn't want to touch the little thing, and I wonder why. "Is something wrong?"

"It's faerie magick, this thing. Powerful voodoo."

"It's just a thimble," I say with a smile. But she's not having any of it.

"No, Justin, tis not 'just' anything. Tis faerie magick. An offering, a binding. Your Brian, he's been marked."

"What do you mean, 'marked'?"

"Not sure what I mean. Selected. Identified, maybe. Tell me about this dream of his. Leave nothing out."

I sigh, disturbed by her reaction. "Look at this gold stuff inside of it," I tap it onto the table top. But instead of gold, it's dark ash, like residue from a cigarette. She makes the sign of the cross over her chest and shakes her head. Just then, I hear a voice.

"What the hell are you doing and who the fuck is this?"

I look up at Brian and realize he's in a major moody. He hasn't shaved, and he dressed casually in jeans and a sweater. He sees the thimble on the table and he reaches for it. He uses it to scoop up the ash, but I notice as soon as he touches the thimble, the ash is golden again, gleaming, and then it's gone as he pops it into his pocket. "What's going on?" He demands, and I sigh. This wasn't exactly the way I hoped to introduce him to his family.

"Brian Kinney," I say with a tense smile. "Meet Ronan Cleary. Your cousin."

Go to Chapter 7

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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July 25, 2004