THE QUIET MEN
Here is the bonus chapter. Gets creepy in this one. Hold on to your hats, or whatever.
Chapter 14 : Justin's POV
Sometimes Brian needs slapping. This is one of those times. He gets so squicked if we get anywhere close to the "forbidden issue". Mentioning a name I like is not violating the agreement. I have such a hard time seeing the horror of creating a life from the shared genetics of Brian and me. We love each other, we love almost every aspect of each other, so why would we not believe that any life created from our combined elements would be a good one? A beautiful one? The culmination of our union? Why shouldn't we have the joy of creation that is so taken for granted by straight couples? I know it's not as easy as a poke in the back seat of a sedan. It requires expert physicians and a willing woman, and a lot of things can go wrong. But what if nothing went wrong? What if the conception was perfect and the pregnancy went well and the delivery was a breeze and then we had a beautiful baby girl who was half Brian and half me? What then? What could be more perfect than that?
He nudges me. "Are you getting out of the car, stun gun?"
We're here, amid the gorgeous red stone edifices of Library Square. I shake off my heavy thoughts and follow him out of the cab. We walk by a graceful gray stone campanile and I notice that the collection of students we pass are attractive. They seem to be a cross-section of races and cultures, and all seem incredibly young. I know they aren't much younger than I am, but I feel as if I've been alive so much longer, and been through so much more.
I want to see the Book of Kells, with it's incredible illumination applied by ancient monks. I want to see the Book of Durrow. There's so much I want to see here beyond fairies and clubs. He's looking over his shoulder, annoyed by my dawdling pace. One thing Brian has never twigged to is the fact that I'm a lot shorter than he is, so my legs aren't ten miles long. One stride for him is two for me, and I get tired of having to hustle just to keep up with him.
"Are you coming?" He makes the mistake of prodding me.
"Why don't you just go on ahead and I'll catch up when I fucking feel like it?" I shoot back and he throws his hands up in frustration and stalks off, ahead of me. Asshole. And that's when it happens. A tall, slender man in a black coat and a black hat and dark glasses suddenly swoops into the scene, from nowhere, and pulls even with Brian. He places a bony hand between Brian's shoulder blades and Brian sinks down to his knees as if struck by a sudden compulsion to pray. The man disappears as quickly as he appeared and I run to Brian as he falls forward on his hands and knees, gasping. A couple students rush over, asking if he's alright; if he needs a doctor.
I kneel in front of him, noticing his face is as white as primer paint. I spread my hand on his cheek, and his skin feels clammy and cold. He looks at me with a stunned expression and then rolls over on his side, unconscious.
We're in a private room at the infirmary, and Ronan is sitting with me, holding my hand, reassuring me. The doctors have run tests and confirm that his heart is strong and regular, his EEG shows normal brain activity, his blood levels and blood pressure are that of an athlete, and his only true symptom is a slight drop in body temp. Tests show there's no foreign substance in his blood or tissue. They suggest it was stress or fatigue or both. They can't explain the fact there are five raw spots on his back, between his shoulders, each about the size of a quarter. They treat the marks as superficial wounds, which they are, but I know how they got there. The man in black touched him there. The marks are his fingerprints.
Ronan and I look up as Ariel enters the room, unannounced. His hair is free and flowing, but dark glasses conceal his silvery eyes. He wears the same expensive suit as before, but he covered up his feet in Italian boots. He ignores us as if we aren't even there. He goes straight over to Brian, encircles his wrist in his hand and leans over to whisper something in his ear. Instantly, Brian awakes. He seems strangely calm as he looks up at Ariel. Ariel removes a chain from around his own neck. Suspended on it is a small charm of a silver pixie, holding a flower with a diamond center. He kisses it, and gently slips it over Brian's head and presses the pixie to his chest.
"Never take it off," he warns. That's it for me.
"What the FUCK happened to him and what the FUCK are you doing here?"
Brian looks past him to me and waves me over. I walk up to the bed and lean down to kiss him on the lips, that feel dry to my touch. I want to cry, from relief, from fear, from both, and he sees that emotion on my face and smiles.
"Don't queen out on me. Get me some water instead."
I comply, using the time it takes to complete that chore to gather my composure. I hold a plastic straw up to his lips and he drinks deeply. Together, we figure out how to crank up his hospital bed so he can sit up, and he casts Ronan a weak smile. "Sorry about this."
"I'm just worried about you, cousin."
"It was very strange. I felt as if someone hit me between the shoulders with a sledgehammer and that was it. Wasn't a heart attack, was it?"
I sigh. "Brian, it was that man."
"That tall guy in a black coat and hat. He put his hand on your back and you fell immediately to the ground."
He looks confused. "I don't remember a guy."
Ariel sits at his feet, crossing his legs in a languid gesture and placing his dark glasses in his pocket. "You were gobsmacked by one of the rebels."
"Rebels?" We both ask in unison and Ariel nods.
"The contingency among our kind who believe in complete separatism. They don't want to see our world converge with yours, prefer to keep their heads buried in sand and pretend all can continue as it has indefinitely. Nonsense. They view Brian as we do, the person to promote the convergence. It was merely grandstanding. Rather bold, for a rebel, for in my view they are all cowardly and hide behind their rhetoric while taking no chances for reprisal. Crossed over now, they have. They'll be made to pay for this."
"He could have killed him!" I want to strangle Ariel and all his fairy friends.
He gives me that patient look one usually reserves for misbehaving puppies. "If they wanted him dead, he'd be dead. But they know better than that. It was only a silly warning. I've given him a charm to prevent a recurrence."
"We're leaving," I say, glancing at Brian's face, which is slowly recovering his ruddy coloring. "I'm calling the travel agency and booking us home in the morning."
"But..." Brian says, and I cut him off.
"You said if either of us wants to leave, no questions asked, we go."
"You can't go," Ariel said with such finality that it chilled me. "Not yet."
"You'll doom the child if you go now."
"The child of Brian. The one you call Gus."
My stomach drops as Brian sits upright, reaching out like lightning to grab the lapel of Ariel's suit. "What the fuck does that mean?"
"It means Gus is under an enchantment," he easily disengages Brian's hand and moves to the window, the light of day framing his incredible beauty in an aureole of gold. "We deemed it necessary, as insurance, your kind might say. To ensure Brian came home with us. He's in no pain and no immediate danger. But each week, he'll lose a bit of vigor until he eventually reaches a place where no one, not even our kind, can rescue him. He'll simply slip into a sleep from which he cannot awaken. The binding must be reversed before he gets to that stage of the enchantment or all is lost."
I move towards Ariel with an instinctive rage but before I'm within two feet of him, he holds up a hand and redirects a beam of sunlight like a laser, burning a trench into the floor just in front of my feet. The scent of scorched linoleum assaults our senses and I stop, staring at him in horror.
"Justin!" Brian cries out and I go back to him, sitting beside him, enclosing his shaking hand in mine. Ariel smiles serenely.
"I did warn early on that as a wind singer, I can bind and summon the winds, the rains and roaring flame. Don't be a fool, either of you. You're no match."
Ronan joins us, closing her hand over ours, the three of us sharing a terror of this beautiful, golden man. "You leave my son out of this," Brian demands weakly and Ariel smiles.
"You control the destiny of your son, Brian. And don't bother dispatching Paddy, our gnome. There are many more where he came from. He's only a watcher, he didn't cast the binding. Now, leave on your protective charm, at all times, and I'll meet you outside the portal tonight at midnight. Wait for me. Never try to enter a celebration of the Unseelie Court on your own," he walks towards us and we all shrink back, an automatic reflex. He smiles and reaches behind Brian, spreading his hand on the prints on his back. He hums a single note with such absolute clarity that it's strangely mesmerizing. "Healed," he says as he backs away, waves, and leaves the room.
I lean Brian forward, moving his gown to discover the prints are gone, and his skin feels warm and toasty where Ariel touched him. "How do you feel?"
"I feel better than I have in ages," he responds. "I feel better than good."
"Brian, what do we do?" I ask as he gets out of bed and Ronan casts her gaze downward as the absolutely immodest Brian drops his gown and starts to pull back on his clothes.
"First of all, we find out everything we can about these...these creatures. Know thine enemy. That's the first thing. Second thing, we bargain for Gus's release from whatever they did to him. I won't play if they don't release him. Third, I think we start planning an ad campaign."
"For the positive and life affirming qualities of fairies."
I meet his eyes and he smiles and shrugs, the pixie charm disappearing under his shirt as he closes the buttons.
|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