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THE QUIET MEN
by Randall Morgan

Happy St. Paddy's to ye all!!!! Wear the green today! In honor of the holiday, a chapter that is somewhat of a kiss to Eire. Enjoy, Randall

Chapter 22: Justin's POV

Brian sleeps. He doesn't even stir when we stop for fuel and a piss. I get out of the car, take a leak in the tiny bathroom of the tiny service station, and then walk to the edge of the tarmac while Ronan is inside the building, culling through the snack selection. I call "Resist". He answers immediately.

"My name is Justin Taylor," I say. "I'm the blond..."

"I know exactly who you are, Justin," he cuts me short. "And my name is Sean."

"Are you one of them?"

"I'm a half-breed, like your man."

"How did you put that word on my skin?"

"Just some mild magick, nothing to fear. It will wear off by the end of today. I'm not your enemy, Justin. I'm your hope."

That causes me to tingle, because I've pretty much abandoned all hope. I've never felt so powerless in my life. "I just want Brian, and his son, to be safe. That's all. Just safe."

"My interests go beyond your man, to humanity in general. We all need to be safe from the fey. And your man is the one they want to use to open the doors between two worlds, doors that were never meant to be opened."

"What does that mean exactly? What are we supposed to do about it?"

"There's a group of us who are working to keep those doors firmly shut. It's dangerous work, the fey are very powerful, but it's critical to the survival of our species."

"Isn't that a bit melodramatic? There are billions of us, and how many of them?"

"It isn't the number, lad, it's the power balance. And their weapon is seduction, a failing all humans share."

"Sexual seduction?"

"Seduction of the soul."

"What are you doing?" Brian's voice. I wince.

"Um, okay, Cyn, I'll call you when we get where we're going." I end the call and he glares at me.

"That was Cynthia?"

"Yeah." Ugh. I hate lying to him.

"You often call Cyn at three in the morning or whatever the fuck time it is at home?"

I slip the phone in my pocket as he shakes his head and walks away, stalking into the john. I follow. He unzips at the toilet and glances over his shoulder at me as he snaps, "Unless you plan to hold it for me, I can do this by myself."

"I'll be glad to hold it," I offer, but that doesn't even bring a smile. Ouch. "Brian?"

"Piss off."

"I didn't want to lie to you."

"No, but you did."

"Brian..."

"Maybe you should examine your true motive for secretly calling this guy."

"Meaning what?"

"You figure it out, brainiac," he zips up, flushes, and washes his hands. I see the anger in his reflection in the mirror.

"My motives are clear, Brian. I'm terrified for you, for us, for Gus. I can't seem to help, and that frustrates the fuck out of me. You don't know what to do about it any more than I do. I'm hoping to find someone, somewhere, who can help us."

He turns and looks at me. I sense a chink in his fury, and I take instant advantage of it. I walk into his space and slip my arms around him. He doesn't push me away. Good sign, but I do feel him tense in my embrace. That hurts me, a little. I reach up and run all ten fingers through his hair. He hates it when I mess up his hair. Which is why I do it. He glares, but he also separates his lips, the prelude to a kiss. I lick mine, and he leans down and delivers that kiss with passion. The rough patch is now behind us, for the moment.

"We have to stay honest with each other, Justin," he says, resting his forehead against mine. "We can't let them pry us apart, lie to each other, fray."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"So what did he say?"

Someone knocks, and we leave the small enclosure to the next urgent traveler, returning to the limo. Ronan is waiting for us, eating a Cadbury chocolate bar, with no reason to fear for her hips. I respond to his question as we hit the road. "Not much. We were interrupted. His name is Sean."

Brian glances at the back of the driver's head and holds a finger up to his lips. I nod. Ronan looks curious, but doesn't ask. Kerry is on the southern tip of the island, so we have a long way to go. I'm assuming that's where we're headed, only because that's the general direction we're driving and because the Kinney family hails from Kerry, so that would be "coming home" for Brian. Maybe. Ronan asks about Gus, who Brian mentioned at that first meeting, and they chat about him as if there's nothing going on with his son. Then she says, rather innocently,

"Do you suppose you two might adopt a wee one of your own one day?"

We exchange a look. Brian shakes his head, "Adopt? Not likely. Hard for gay men to accomplish in America, even if we wanted to. We'd have to go outside the country to find a kid, and even then, it's difficult."

I see the distinction he's making between adoption and conceiving our own child, and I don't call him on it. She shrugs. "Couldn't Gus's mum return the favor you did for her and bear a child for you as a surrogate?"

Lindsay was always a contender for this procedure in my mind. Brian is convinced she would never even consider it, especially with Melanie in her life. He's probably right. Finding the right surrogate is a real thorny part of this whole elephantine thing. Brian sighs. He hates this subject. "She wouldn't give the kid up, and even if she did, she'd be in our faces all the time. As would her harridan of a partner."

"I see."

"Anyway, we're happy the way we are, right, Justin?"

I glare at him. That's so unfair. Of course I'm happy with him. But the way he put that statement, it sounds as if I'm being asked to confirm that I don't want a child, don't need a child. And I do want a child, maybe even need one. Still, I nod, not wanting to start a war. Brian quickly shifts the subject. "Do your parents know Jimmy is gay?"

"Oh sure."

"How did they take it?"

"No worries. My mum was concerned about his health, but when he assured her he was negative and planned to stay that way, she relaxed. I think my dad always suspected. But he has me and two straight sons, so I guess he can tolerate the family quaire," she smiles. "It barely made a ripple in our clan. He came out when he was quite young, so there wasn't much time for `is he or isn't he'. It's great for me, the closest I come to a sister."

Brian laughed. "I'll let that go past."

"I don't mean it in a bad way. I adore Jimmy. I'm worried sick over him."

"I know. We'll find him."

"But the professor said a mortal can't return to our world if they venture into the land of the fey."

"The way I hear it, they remain ageless so long as they remain among the fey. But if they venture out into our world, the age comes tearing back all at once. In Jimmy's case, he's only been gone a few days, so where's the harm? In the seanmahaither's case, she'd turn to dust."

Ronan sighs, hoping Brian is right. So do I. I tend to believe there's more to it than Brian is willing to share or than Brian even knows. The city scenery gives way to `burbs, the `burbs give way to highway, the highway gives way to roads. We pass miles of rolling, green hills and grey stone fences and grazing sheep. Grey stone cottages, some still bearing a faint patina of faded whitewash, are abandoned here and there, open to the elements, their thatch roofs long since eroded away. Most of the occupied houses are more modern, with tile rather than thatch roofs which, Ronan explains, are now very costly.

Occasionally we round a bend and get a glimpse of the sea, like rolling cement under an overcast sky, with white foamy chop where it breaks against the rocky coast. Beautiful, mystical and wild, Ireland doesn't disappoint. We see a ruined castle high on a cliff overlooking the sea and Brian insists we stop to explore it. Ronan opts for remaining in the car, explaining she grew up here and has had her fill of castle ruins. She prefers not to go out in the misty chill. We wrap up, and I take my camera as we go. The climb is treacherous, the long, wet grass and muddy hillside making the trek arduous and wobbly.

He holds my hand, helping me along. Brian may be older than I am, but he's in much better shape and he's much stronger, a fact that sort of annoys me. I really do need to hit the gym. He's barely puffing when we reach the peak, while I'm gasping. At least we're finally on the flat, and the view is spectacular. We walk through an arched stone entrance that has only fragments of the original wall to support it and I notice how geometric stones on the ground pace off the various rooms of the old castle. A section of battlement remains and we climb it, giving us the most spectacular view of our surrounds. He stands behind me, his arms tightly around my waist, his chin pressed to the top of my head as we stare out at the churning sea on one side, the rolling countryside on the other. We both dream of Irish chieftans and princes, of the way this once must have been. I lean into him, my Irish chieftan, my prince, and whisper the words.

He drops his mouth to my ear and says them back to me. I close my eyes and feel the strength of his body behind me, the smell of him, the warmth of his breath and I'm transported by how much this man means to me. He is my universe. There's no one else. Ever. I turn and kiss him, feeling the wind comb my hair with icy fingers as his tongue fills my mouth with warmth.

"I love you," I say it in blunt terms as the kiss ends. He smiles, the touchy words always giving him pause.

"I love you too," he replies, reluctantly but fervently, and I rest my face in the crook of his neck, because, really, when you get right down to it, nothing else matters.

Go to Chapter 23

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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Beginning
July 25, 2004