THE QUIET MEN
Chapter 21: Brian's POV
I'm trying to talk quietly to my son, to avoid waking Justin. I sit on the couch in the suite, watching a light snowfall outside the windows. It's the middle of the night in Pittsburgh, but I had to hear his voice. Had to. Lindsay was kind enough to wake him for me, even though she claims he's been so tired lately that she hated to do so. I can hear the sleepiness in his voice, and I feel very guilty. For waking him, for unknowingly placing him in danger, for being unable to rescue him. He's telling me about something that happened at school. Tears, silent and unbidden, are rolling down my cheeks as I listen to his foggy little voice. Reason number two for not wanting a baby. I am so fucking vulnerable to my kid. Who knew? I never thought I had it in me. Neither did anyone else, but I do. If I feel this way about Gus, I know I'd feel just as strongly about another kid. Maybe even more so, since the child would have the double emotional whammy of being part of Justin, the culmination of our relationship.
"Daddy," Gus says with a yawn. "When you coming home?"
I sniff and wipe the tears on the back of my hand. "Soon, Gus, soon. You feel okay? Anything hurt? Feel bad in anyway?"
"Nothing hurts, but I feel sleepy a lot of the time. Mommy says I need to eat my spinach, but I hate spinach. My doctor says I'm okay, so Mommy needs to stop worrying. He says I'm just growing. I may be as tall as you, Daddy."
I sigh. "That would be good."
"Is Justin with you?"
"Yes, but he's asleep."
"Daddy, do you know my friend, Paddy? The gnome?"
A chill goes through me. "I thought Mommy got rid of that thing."
"She thinks she did, so now Paddy has to sneak in to see me. He says he's from a land of dragons and wizards and fairies. I want to go there, Daddy. He says you're going there."
I want to tell him to stay away from this gnome. But I know I can't stop it from visiting him. I seem to be pretty fucking powerless all the way around. "You stay right where you are, Gus, with your mommies and your sister. Don't go anywhere with Paddy or we may not be able to find you again. You understand?"
"Even if you're there too?"
"Promise me, Gus."
"Okay, Daddy." Another big yawn.
"Go back to bed now, sonny boy. Get some sleep. I love you."
"I love you too, Daddy. `Night."
"Bye," I hang up and press my hands to my face, feeling an overwhelming sense of hopeless pain. Justin's fingers are suddenly in my hair, soothing me, and I go into his arms and cling to him, burying my face in his robe. He holds me, then says,
"He'll be okay. We won't let anything happen to him."
I finally get control and lean back, wiping my face on my sleeve. "I wish I could believe that, Justin. I'm so scared. Not for myself, but for Gus. I've seen what they can do. I've felt their wrath. They're ruthless."
"I know. Not exactly the magical little sprites from our fairytales, are they?"
"So now what?"
"In an hour, Ronan will be here, and we'll tell the driver to take me home. I guess that's all we can do."
"We could call that guy who said to resist," he suggests, gazing at his marked finger. I glance at him, gauging whether his interest is carnal or intellectual. I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"What will that buy us?"
"We don't know, if we don't try."
"I'm ordering breakfast," I deflect, and he glares at me, hating when I do that. We pack while we wait for our food, a thick silence gelling between us, and then he frowns.
"Fuck this. I'm calling him."
He picks up the phone, he starts to dial that number, and suddenly I feel a strange sensation begin in me and travel through all of my limbs, causing them to tingle and sting. A flash of anger ignites and I snatch the phone out of his hands and hang it up.
He stares at me with a look of confusion, and I and sit down heavily on the bed as my heart begins to pound. "What the fuck was that about?" He asks, and I answer,
"I don't know. I just know that calling this guy may be the wrong thing to do."
"Based on what?"
"Instinct, I guess."
"Brian, this is insane. Just let me..."
"D'un do bheal," I say quietly and then look at him. Where did that come from?
"What does that mean?" he asks and I shrug. I have no clue. I must have heard it somewhere, and it just popped into my head.
A knock at the door announces our breakfast. He goes, keeping an eye on me as he crosses the room. The room service waiter begins to set up our table and Justin says, "Do you speak Irish?"
The young man nods, looking askance at him for such an ignorant question. Justin phonetically repeats what I said, and the waiter looks uncomfortable. "It means shut your mouth," he translates and leaves as fast as he can after Justin signs for the food.
When we're alone, I feel Justin stare at me as I pour myself some coffee, trying to cover the shaking of my hand. "I don't get it," I say. "I guess next will be my head spinning and I'll be hurling pea soup."
"It's not funny, Brian."
"Why isn't it? It really is, if you think about it. I just opened my mouth and the Irish poured out. No clue what I was saying."
"It was very weird,"
"I know. Someone or something is telling me not to call that guy. I felt it very strongly. I don't know why, but I do know they don't want us getting in touch with him."
"Why do you suppose that is?" he asks as he empties spoonful after spoonful of brown sugar into his oatmeal.
"Why ask why? No clue. It's not jealousy on my part, if that's what you think. Not consciously, anyway."
"I didn't think that, Brian."
"I wish it was. Jealousy I can understand. This shit is ridiculous."
"God, I wish I had never picked up that first book on Ireland. I wish I had never even spoken to your mother about it."
"Talking to my mother is a sure bet for bad karma," I have to agree. "But this isn't your fault. I'm convinced we were drawn here. I was, anyway. I could handle all of this bullshit if not for the fact Gus is implicated. I can't stand that aspect of it. I don't know what to do, but they have to stop with him."
"I know how you feel, and I wish I could help."
I reach over and squeeze his hand. "You have helped. You always help, just by letting me vent with you. But if you really want to help, go home. Let me know you're safe."
"Is Gus safe at home? It doesn't work that way, Brian, and I'm going nowhere."
We stare at each other for a long moment, and then we finish our breakfast and pack, the silence stretching out between us. Ronan is waiting in the lobby with her suitcase on wheels. With her casual model-on-holiday looks and completely natural Úlan, she draws the stares of every straight man in the hotel. If she notices that, she remains deliberately oblivious, greeting us with a smile.
Soon, we're all three in the limo. "Dublin, I hardly knew ye," I quip as the driver takes us towards the highway leading south. Or is it west? Southwest? I can't judge directions here.
"You knew `ye' well enough," Justin grumbles, our shared view of this glorious old city tainted by the fey. Ronan knows very little about the events at the Unseelie Court, and I think it's better that way. She's already freaked about her brother, why add to her anxiety?
"Any word from Jimmy?" I ask and she shakes her head.
"And this is the brother with whom I natter away on a daily basis. I'm scared witless for him, Brian."
I pat her hand. So am I. But I say nothing as Justin sighs. "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do...." I quote a line from a movie and Justin giggles.
"It's funny, is it?" Ronan challenges and I nod.
"Have to see the humor in it or you go mad, cousin."
"There is no humor in it. Infernal pagan creatures, every one of them. Godless."
"Are you talking about me and my friends or the fairies? Wait, same thing."
She glares at me behind dark glasses. "Can't you be serious?"
"Humor is Brian's defense," Justin explains as if I'm not there. "One of them, anyway."
"Yeah, just call me Robin Williams."
Justin giggles. I smirk at him and Ronan glowers. We're off to a great start.
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July 25, 2004