THE QUIET MEN
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Chapter 8: Justin's POV
Brian and I dress in our club-hopping clothes, more provocative than our usual wear, and then cover it up with coats, because it's still too damn cold here. We're both fairly pumped about this, because the work in London, and preparation before leaving for London hasn't left us any time for clubbing. We like to club, even though neither of us is on the hunt. The atmosphere of energy, the flirtations, having sex together in the back room while others watch, it's a turn on. He's a terrible dancer, but I still love to dance with him. It's like a prelude to fucking. Of course, these will be straight clubs, so the outlaw aspect will be missing.
Ronan is in the lobby, wearing a measly little slip of a dress that looks great on her lean body but must leave her freezing! Her jacket is velvet and doesn't look very warm. She kisses both of us in greeting and we leave the hotel to climb into a waiting car. The driver is a tall, beautiful man with Ronan's blend of chromosomes. Her brother Jimmy, who is a year older than she. He leans across the seat to greet us, shaking our hands warmly. He looks a lot like Brian, if Brian had some stray African genes in his makeup. That's not half-bad. Something tells me that he shares Brian's tastes in genders, as well. My gaydar instantly hones in on him. Within minutes, my suspicion is confirmed as he says,
"There are some great gay clubs on the banks of the Liffey in the old industrial section of the town. We'll try to find your address first, and if we don't, we'll hit a couple of my favorites."
Ronan looks over her shoulder to beam triumphantly at us, as if to say, "See? I have one too."
I exchange a look with Brian who smirks at me, confirming the blood obviously is tinged with lavender. "How long you fellas been together?" Jimmy continues and I respond,
"Aye, an old married couple, you be."
"I wouldn't go that far," Brian grumbles and I elbow him. I would. We are an old married couple, whether he likes it or not. But I know how he is, so I've learned to tune out what he says and go by what he does. Which is he's the most loving and supportive partner anyone could hope to find. This car is incredibly tiny. Sometimes it pays off to be shorter. These three tall people must be miserable. I notice Brian keeps rubbing his knees that are squashed up against the driver's seat on the right.
When we arrive at our destination, he can't wait to get out and stretch. Jimmy, fully unfolded, is even taller than Brian, six-three or four, I predict, and very slim but very hot. He tells the three of us to stay with the car while he takes a walk to try and locate our elusive address. The Ha'penny Bridge is a beautiful humpback cast iron creation with gas lights to illuminate its artistry. As Ronan predicted, there is no street address that could be associated with it. On one side are rowhouses and businesses, on the other, more of the same. Beneath it is a sloping bank and the river.
Brian puts an arm around my waist and pulls me close to warm me. I cuddle into his embrace, drawing from his body heat as Jimmy returns a failure. "I see nothing of the kind, cousin."
"Do you mind if I look?" Brian inquires, always having to do everything himself. Trusting nothing to chance. Jimmy gives him a 'be my guest' gesture and Brian walks towards the bridge, holding my hand and using his free hand to turn the thimble in his pocket. We walk to the center of the bridge, and look down at the black surface of the water. He removes the thimble from his pocket, as if to throw it into the murk, but it glows, from the inside, and we look down to see that an answering glow is burning on the banks beneath the bridge. We exchange a look and then motion the cousins over. The four of us begin a careful descent down the slope and find a door built into the smooth wall of the under-structure, a door that none of us remembered seeing before. Above the door are glowing neon letters that read "Sidhe" in a sinuous script.
Jimmy tugs at his sister's hand when she balks. "We have to see, Ronan. Don't be a coward."
"It's not right," she protests. "It's fucking eerie is what it is."
"I'm going in," Brian says firmly, which means I'm going in, too. I try the handle of the door, but it won't budge. Jimmy tries next, same result. Brian moves him aside and the door swings open immediately when he touches it. A half-moon of light spills out from the open door, muted, silvery light and the sound of techno music with a subtle twist comes from within. A very polite man who is unique only in the fact he's easily twice my size in height and girth intercepts us at the portal.
"You have an invitation?" His voice is so low, it almost sounds like thunder.
Brian produced the thimble and the man nods. "Spill the seed," he says, and Brian pours the gold flakes onto his palm. They sparkle in the darkness and that satisfies the man's concerns. Brian returns the dust to the thimble and the thimble to his pocket. The man picks up a stamp and motions for us to produce our hands for identification. He stamps Jimmy, Ronan and me with a red stamp depicting a pointed elf shoe. He stamps Brian's hand with a gold stamp depicting a little Tinkerbell type creature.
"You're special," I tease Brian as the big man opens the double doors to the inner sanctum and we walk through them together.
"I keep telling you that," Brian responds, although I can see that he's tense. Under the pale lighting in the club, our stamps glow like neon. Inside, it's depressingly normal, or so it seems to me. The dance floor is crowded with people doing dances that are pretty standard on the club scene. They are perhaps more attractive than the usual club goers, and their clothing choices are a bit more obscure. Some of them, at least. Others look just like us. There's a glass bar, crowded with patrons, and the sound system cranks that driving music that has a back beat of Irish trad.
On the upper level, the dim lighting reveals only velvet couches arranged to overlook the dancers and shadowy shapes watching the fun. The go-go dancers are both male and female, beautiful, scantily clad, gyrating above the bar on glass platforms. Some wear gossamer wings, some wear little gold horns and a flirty tail, some wear no disguise at all. I notice the crowd dancing is divided among those with the red elf shoe stamp, those with Brian's gold Tinkerbell, and a contingency with no stamp at all.
"Brian, you found us," a man approaches, ignoring three out of our party to focus solely on my partner. Typical. The greeter is...well, gorgeous doesn't quite cut it. He is to die for. Tall, slim but firmly muscled, with a smooth torso revealed by the fact he's wearing only a pair of white, skin-tight leggings. His feet are bare, his toenails painted silver. His white-blond hair coils around his perfect face in springy curls and his features are feline and compelling. There's something scary about how perfectly beautiful he is. He wears silver earrings that are crescent moons and crystal bracelets on both arms. As queer as he sounds, he doesn't come off as a queen. He comes off as a man of infinite possibility.
"Do I know you?" Brian asks with remarkable cool in the face of this masculine perfection.
"Of course you do, darling. I'm your guide. Shall we get a drink?"
"Hello, I'm Brian's partner, Justin," I interject myself rudely, like a turd dropped into the punch bowl, and the perfect man gives me a dismissive smile.
"Are you? I see." He loops his arm through Brian's, ignoring me as he leads him through the crowd towards the bar. Brian reaches behind to grab my wrist, tugging me along behind them. I'm simmering, not appreciating this bitch's proprietary attitude towards my man. "So how are you finding our fair city? I'm Ariel, by the way."
"Isn't that a girl's name?" I insist. "The Little Mermaid in that Disney movie my little sister never stopped watching?" Ariel ignores me as he orders a drink for Brian and for himself. Something called a "batwing". Given the nature of this place it probably IS a batwing. "Make it three," I tell the bartender.
"What do you do, Ariel?" Brian asks, and the perfect man smiles that enchanting smile of his and replies,
"I'm a wind singer."
Brian glances at me with a look of humor and confusion. "Big call for that, is there? What does a wind singer do?"
"I control and loose the winds, conjure rain or flame. Enchant men with my voice. Drive them mad, sometimes. What do you do, Brian?"
"Whatever I do will seem anti-climactic compared to that," Brian says, handing me the first batwing to appear on the bar. It's served in a tall glass with lots of foam and fruit nectars and I'm happy to say the only batwing in evidence is a plastic swizzle stick in the shape of a bat. I know Brian doesn't like sweet drinks, so Ariel bombed on this one. But to be polite, Brian taps glasses with both Ariel and me, and we down a taste. It hits me like a mallet. I can't taste the liquor, only the fruit nectars and a honied flavor, but it has the punch of straight Everclear.
I see by Brian's raised brows that he feels it too. Jimmy and Ronan have made it to the bar, finally and I tell them they have to try this. She's clinging to her brother's arm as if he's a life preserver on a churning sea, but his attention is focused only on Ariel. They get their drinks and Brian challenges, "Bottom's up!" We drink. We feel the power spread through us like a fast-acting drug, and suddenly I think that maybe this night won't be a total wash in spite of Ariel's obvious fascination for my partner.
An hour later, I seem to have forgotten Ariel, as well as Brian, as well as my own fucking name! Not sure what's in a batwing, but holy shit, it's good! I'm boogying with this cute kid with red curly hair and freckles across his nose and the Spock ears that seem fairly common around here. He calls himself Puck. I tease him that I like what his name rhymes with and he says, "Aye... luck!" We share a laugh. As we dance, he leans in and says, "Beware the sylph."
"The sylph, the wind singer. Ariel."
"What's a sylph?"
"Ariel's a sylph. And he can be nigh on irresistible to men. He's your man's spiritual guide, which means trouble."
"If he thinks he can guide Brian spiritually, he's the one in trouble."
"Don't make merry about t'ings you can't understand."
"I'm used to men hitting on Brian. He has to make his own call about that kind of thing. I can't put a stranglehold on him. He doesn't work that way. Why don't you have a stamp on your hand?"
Puck looks amused. "Because I'm sidhe, fool! I'm Robin Goodfellow, the sidhe known as Puck. Do you not read in the land where you come from? Everyone knows Robin Goodfellow."
"Sidhe meaning fairy?"
I laugh. "Then I'm sidhe too. I'm certainly a fairy."
Puck narrows his eyes at me. They're incredibly green eyes, not hazel, not golden, but the color of a freshly mown lawn. "Don't be joking about that here, mortal. Some don't share my fresh humor."
"Mortal?" I laugh. I've been to theme clubs, but this one is the best! "Whatever I am, Brian is the same."
"No, wrong you are about that one."
"He's mortal, believe me."
"Aye, but he has the blood. You don't. Your friends don't. Few mortals here do."
"My 'friends' are his cousins, so whatever blood you mean, they share it with him."
He looks at Ronan, who has lost her fear and is getting down with a darkly handsome man who looks normal enough except he happens to be wearing a prehensile tail that he has somehow animated so that it can wrap and wave and move it like an extra limb. "No, lad, lovely that they are, they are not sidhe. They are not descended from the Seanmhaithair."
Suddenly Brian's arm has snaked around my waist, and he is pulling me away from Puck. He looks stressed. He holds tightly to my wrist and leads me into a bathroom, and then into a stall where he pushes me up against the metal wall and rests his forehead against mine. I expect sex to commence, but he has other needs, other ideas, as he closes his eyes and whispers, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."
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July 25, 2004