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by Randall Morgan

Here is your mid-week fix. Curiouser and curiouser. Enjoy, Ran

Chapter 10: Justin's POV

Oh god, what a hangover.

I don't remember being drunk last night, but then, I don't remember much of anything. When I look at the clock beside the bed and see that it's almost noon, I'm shocked. Brian is still snuffling and wheezing, deep in sleep beside me. He's wearing his pants, although he did manage to kick off his shoes and pull off his shirt and belt. Bad sign. He must have been as out of it as I was, but I'm stripped down to nothing. I have that little ass-effect I get after he fucks me, and I vaguely remember a bout of hot sex in a bathroom stall. Or was that a dream?

I get up, trip over my discarded clothes that are heaped on the floor beside the bed, curse, and continue to the bathroom for a long pee. I know we went clubbing with the cousins, but there's no stamp on my hand, the usual remnant of a night out. The phone rings. I rush to answer it before it wakes Brian, leaving the seat up and the toilet unflushed. He hates it if I forget to flush. He's such a neat freak. "Yes? Hello?" I grab my jacket and put it on to keep warm as I sit on the sofa and look out through the bay window at the park. A frosting of snow has started to fall, and it's so much prettier here than in Pittsburgh.

"Justin, it's Lindsay. I hope I'm not calling at a weird time."

"S'okay. How's Gus?"

"That's why I'm calling."

I tense. "Something wrong with Gus?"

"Not wrong, exactly. He's not sick. But...is Brian around?"

"He's asleep," I say firmly. Lindsay really needs to accept the fact that I have my own interest in Gus's well being, as Brian's partner and step-dad to the kid. I have just as much interest in Gus as does her partner. We settled Brian's rights to Gus long ago, but there was no law to write me into that scenario, officially. But unofficially I consider him my kid, too. And he loves me. We get along famously. She sighs.

"Tell him to call me when he can."

"Don't cut me out, Linds. What's the story?"

"For a day or two, Gus hasn't been himself. He's not ill, no fever, no symptoms, but he's very subdued, very obedient, but flat. The school says he's fine there, does his work, is much less social and thus less troublesome, but he's just not himself. He says nothing's wrong. I'm wondering if he just needs to hear from his Daddy."

I glance at Brian. Should I wake him? He looks so exhausted. "I'll have him call when he gets up, Linds. Can I talk to Gus?"

"Sure, hold on. I'll get him. Are you guys having fun?"

"Yeah," I say as a chill causes me to shudder. "It's been interesting."

Gus sounds a little flat on the phone, not demonstrating his usual enthusiasm and when I say his dad is asleep, he doesn't press me to wake him. Still, he insists he's not sick and that everything is okay. At the end of the conversation, he says, "Jus, tell Daddy to come home."

Innocent enough, but the remark reminds me of someone else saying that to Brian, and that fogginess is still in my head. I reassure him we will be home soon and we hang up. I move to take off the jacket and head towards a warm shower and my guidebook falls out of the pocket. I pick it up and notice I scribbled some notes in the margin of a couple pages. I read my entries and frown, they don't seem to make much sense.

"Under bridge...giant man at door...fairy shoe and tinkerbell....centaur... Ariel a man after Brian....puck....the king and queen....little flying pixies....batwings...seanmhaithair..." I put the book down, shower, wrap up in a robe and return to the book. I re-read the entries. Nothing's coming through.

"Will you order some breakfast? I'm famished." His voice startles me. He's standing there in the pants he slept in, bare-chested, his hair askew. He looks so hot like this.

"What do you want?" I ask, and he shrugs and heads for the bathroom.

"Surprise me," he calls over his shoulder.

Over breakfast, I share my call with Gus and he says he'll call him after he's eaten. He insists Lindsay worries too much, that Gus is a Kinney and therefore prone to moodiness. I mention the 'tell Daddy to come home' remark. He looks up and I can see that it triggers a reaction in him. "What exactly did we do last night?" he asks and I shrug.

"It's a fog to me too."

"Were we tripping?"

"Not on purpose. Look, I wrote down these notes. Does any of this make sense?" I retrieve my book and read off the entries to him. He refills his coffee cup and shrugs.

"I have flashes of memory, but nothing substantial or logical. `Ariel... after Brian'. What does that mean?"

"I have no clue. But...we went to a club. Remember? With the cousins. It was on the river."

"Yeah, I recall dancing, fucking you in the backroom or bathroom or somewhere."

"I remember that too, or rather, I can feel you up my ass. The ghost of your cock."

He smiles at me and reaches across the table to grasp my hand. "This has gotten crazy, Justin. Want to go home?"

"I don't know. Do you?"

He shrugs. "Not sure." He gets up, picks up his discarded trousers and retrieves the thimble from a pocket. He slips on his reading glasses, and stares at the writing along the lip and then puts it down, his expression grim. I pick it up, gingerly, not really liking the damned thing very much. I read the letters too. There's an address, 4 Cloisters. I take my book from him and flip back to the pages I was perusing when we had lunch with Ronan, and she was translating for us. I wrote down what she said: "Sidhe=fairy, Wellington Bridge is Halfpenny Bridge or Liffey Bridge. No addresses there."

"This is a different thimble," I say and he shakes his head. "Yes it is, Brian. The last thimble had an address on Wellington Bridge. Remember? Now it's coming back to me. That's where we went last night. To try and find the address. And the club was there."

"It's the same thimble, Justin. No one gave me another."

"How can you be sure?"

He frowns. "I guess I can't, but it still has that gunk in it. Wait," he picks up his knife and carefully notches the rim in three different places. "Now we'll know for sure if the thimble is replaced."

"This is too weird. Let's get dressed and go to the Halfpenny Bridge and see if that club is open." To my surprise, he agrees. We dress and take a cab to the bridge that is busy with afternoon foot traffic. The surrounding shops are crowded and it seems like the most innocuous spot in Dublin. Tourists are snapping pictures of the picturesque pedestrian bridge and there's no logical place near it for a club. We look around, I take a couple shots with my digital camera, and then I look down the slope to the water. "Let's walk down there."

He groans, but concedes and we pick our way down to the riverbank and walk under the bridge. We're both drawn to the same wall. It's perfectly smooth, all hard stone, no doors, no openings at all. He looks perplexed. I can see by his expression that he, too, remembered this place as a portal. He removes the thimble from his pocket. Nothing.

"They've moved on, ye gits," a creaky voice announced and we both look down at a very small man with exaggerated features and a period costume much like what the pilgrims wore. "Sidhe be trooping folk. You got the news. Read your message. Stupid mortals," he grumbled and disappeared inside a mound of earth that had no apparent entry. We look at each other and Brian sighs. I was too stunned even to photograph him.

"Aren't they supposed to lead us to a pot of gold if we catch them?"

"I wouldn't touch that thing, would you?"

He shakes his head and we walk back up the slope, leaning on the railing of the bridge without talking as pedestrians pass us by, unaware. I glance at his profile. "What's happening, Brian?"

"I don't know. I don't get it."

"I don't like it, either."

He glances at me. "Why?"

"It's creepy. What do they want from you?"

"I suspect nothing."

"I wish I could agree."

He throws an arm over me, and squeezes me gently. "I suspect this is all some kind of a massive mindfuck."

"Brian, that was a leprechaun. A fucking leprechaun. This is real."

"It can't be."

"But it is." His logic can't sweep this away. It is real, it is happening, and neither of us understand what it is or why it's occurring. He pulls the thimble from his pocket and glances at the address. He takes my hand and leads me to a cab. He gives the address to the driver.

"Four Cloisters,"

The driver looks at him in the rearview mirror. "The boneyard?"

"Whatever," Brian responds and the driver mumbles something about "fooking tourists" as he heads off in that direction.

Go to Chapter 11

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