THE QUIET MEN
Chapter 24: Justin's POV
This is so not happening. We're standing here in a formal graveyard, with elaborate headstones in the middle of a fabulous setting. Only all the dead things are animals, not people, and we're talking to some stranger about the dangers of fairies. At least I think that's what's about to happen. A stone wall encloses the area that is presently unpopulated by tourists. "Resist", that is "Sean", is as handsome as he was in the club. About Brian's size, sharing much of Brian's unearthly sex appeal. I tighten my grip on Brian's hand as Sean lights a cigarette and addresses my lover.
"You're letting them take you home, right, mate?"
Brian is cool, obviously suspicious of this man. "And it's any of your business, because...?"
"Because you're a fucking fool, that's why it's my business."
I feel Brian tense and try to soothe him by squeezing his hand, but he doesn't relax. "Fuck you! Come on, Justin..."
"Go if you want, but you're letting them use you and you're going unarmed into a world you know nothing about. If you don't have enough sense to fear for yourself, then for God's sake, have a care for your mate, there."
"Don't tell me how to feel about my partner."
"If it were just the two of you, I wouldn't. But it goes beyond your union to the whole of humanity. They chose you to open the doors, Brian, and that's not something you can afford to do."
"Just who the fuck are you?"
He sighs. "Like you, I'm a mortal man tainted in the blood with the stain of the fey. Only, unlike you, I have seen them for what they are, for what they truly want in this world, and I've pledged myself to stop them no matter what the personal cost to myself."
"Why? What did they ever do to you?" I intervene and he reaches into his pocket and withdraws a wallet. He removes a photograph and hands it to me. Brian looks down at it along with me. It's a picture of a pretty blonde woman holding two babies, obviously twins, no older than a year. The babies are dressed in Christmas clothes, and have their father's dark, attractive features. I hand it back to him.
"They took our babies, one right after the other. Phookahs, the child murderers of the Unseelie Court. They drowned them in their beds, or as good as. Smothered them. Cot death they call it here, but I knew. I watched the babies lose their vitality and no human doctor could help them. They grew weaker and weaker as I resisted the lure of the fey to assist them in their infernal plans. I was in government, you see, an Irish MP, with committee responsibility for coastal development. The coastal caves are one of their favored portals, and the fey wanted certain protections to keep humankind away from their magick. They wanted the freedom to move unmolested from the mainland to their secret islands that appear only when they want you to see them, without having to constantly guard the sanctity of a permanent portal into their world."
"So what did you do?"
"I refused to become involved in their madness, and my family was made to pay the price for my stubbornness. My babies were killed, and the authorities made a mockery of the tragedy, throwing suspicion on my wife and me. Ultimately we were found innocent of any harm to our bairn, but the experience combined with the horror of losing her children made her mad with grief, and she took her own life."
I feel his pain, but even more than that, I fear for Gus, and I know that's what Brian is thinking, too. "What did you do?" I ask, and Sean shrugs.
"For a year or so, I was on an endless bender. Then I was approached by the rebels. They're fey, and those who are also half-human, as we are, as well as some humans. All who oppose the integration of the two worlds. Some resist because they fear the harm to humans, as I do, others resist because they fear the human destruction of their fey society. The result is the same. We all want the portals firmly shut between the two worlds. It's not possible for beings of light to live among our kind. Civilization would be doomed."
I look at Brian, who has paled, still thinking of dead babies and his own son, and I say, "One of your so-called rebels hurt Brian when we were at Trinity. Why should we listen to them?"
"Was a mere tap compared to what the Unseelie did to him, am I right about that?" Sean challenges. I have to admit that's true. The rebels may have knocked Brian out, but the Unseelie nearly killed him.
"Why would you let them kill your children rather than cooperate?" Brian asks with his usual blunt precision and Sean glares.
"I didn't know then what I know now. I was sure it was a bluff. After one died, I rushed to cooperate, but it was too late for the other. Even the Unseelie can't reverse the binding if it carries on too long."
"Well, I do know my son is in danger. And I won't let it go on too long. And if it means opening a door or whatever the fuck you're talking about, so be it."
"Brian, there's one who can reverse the evil magick placed on your bairn. You must seek her out and beg her assistance."
"Who is that?"
"The Seanmhaithar. Your Gran."
We both stare at him. "How can she help?" I insist. "She's mortal."
His stormy blue eyes fix on me. "She's not mortal, you silly boy. She's lived at the side of Fiachna for centuries now! How can you say she's mortal? She's one of them, good and truly now. Is revered in their society. She's that rare human who completely abandoned her kind to follow her fairy lover into his world, never to come back. Her husband, her children, even his child with her, all left behind to be with this warrior king."
"But if she tried to come back..."
"Yes," he interrupts. "So many ages have passed, she would turn to dust in our world. The land of the fey is her sanctuary from death, now. But at what price?"
"Do they have other children? In his world?" I push and Sean shakes his head.
"Once a woman forsakes her own to live among the faeries, she loses her ability to bear a child. Her body is changed forever."
"Why didn't she take her fairy child with her?" Brian has been pondering that question, and Sean shrugs.
"I dinna know that answer, Brian. Ask her. And while you're at it, ask her to release your bairn from the binding."
"Why can she help him?"
"Because he's her blood and the tie is strong, as are her powers to heal."
"But you said not to go into their world."
"No, I said not to go into their world unarmed."
"How do I arm myself?"
"I can't tell you what you need to hear in the few minutes we have unseen in this place. You won't reach your homeland by this night. I'll send a messenger to where it is you stop to sleep. You must be very careful and follow their instructions precisely. If the fey knew you were meeting with the rebels, God only knows what havoc they would wreak."
I frown. "If Brian goes, I go."
Sean smiles at me. "You're a stubborn, lad, aren't you?"
"You don't know the half of it," Brian assures him, giving me a little squeeze. I glare at him as Sean takes in this expression of our affection. If he's judgmental about it, he doesn't show his disfavor. I remember our dance. I had no doubt he was gay at that moment. I even felt it in the chubby pressure of his cock against me. But now he reveals a wife and children from his past. Bisexual, perhaps? Or is it just that these men born with fairy blood transcend all those definitions we impose on people, and represent raw sexuality without bounds? Certainly Brian has that power. So does Sean. Will Gus? Will our child?
Just then someone enters the enclosure and I see Sean tense. It's Ronan. Brian explains her relation to him, but Sean remains cautious. Ronan is less circumspect about Sean, obviously finding him attractive as she casts a winning smile in his direction. Sean may be cautious, but he's not without his male hormones, which seem to kick in a bit as he focuses on Brian's striking cousin.
"Your driver is getting antsy. Wants to reach the stopping point before dark, Brian," she announces, and he nods.
"We were just on our way to the car park," Brian says, then shakes Sean's hand. "Nice talking with you."
As we walk away, I notice the inscription on my finger is now gone. No more reminder to resist. Ronan glances over her shoulder at Sean as we retreat, and she says, "Who is he? He's bloody gorgeous, he is, and he looks a wee bit familiar to me."
For some reason, she's not connecting him with the man who danced with me at the club. I suspect he used that blocking thing they do to memory. How come his fairy powers are so much more evident than Brian's? Is he more of a fairy than he's letting on? Brian is blowing him off as some tourist we ran into, but as we near the car park, I can see the wheels are still turning in Ronan's head and suddenly she blurts,
"That was Sean McKenna! He was one of the youngest Irish MP's ever elected, and then what seemed to be a brilliant career was completely derailed by some horrible tragedy in his life. What was it? Oh yes, he had young twins, who died of cot death, one right after the other. The police hounded McKenna and his wife until they were eventually cleared of all wrongdoing, but the stress was too much for her and she committed suicide. He left public life completely, virtually disappeared into the fabric. Imagine running into him here? I always felt so sorry for him, felt as though he was unfairly persecuted and terrorized after such a tragedy and then to lose his wife...what a shocker."
"That's sad," I say with a nervous glance at Brian, whose lips pull into a thin, tense line.
"Yes," she agrees, looking back, as if expecting to see him. Perhaps hoping to see him. "What a waste of a man of incredible charisma and talent."
"Shit happens," Brian says, with more cynicism than he probably feels as we get into the limo, and leave behind this paradisiacal setting and all of it's undercurrents of magic and fear. What's next, I wonder? What do we do about these rebels? Do we risk the wrath of the fey by meeting with them? If we do, will we be in danger? I close my hand over Brian's as we ride, but I can't draw him out of his shell of introspection. Ronan has grown silent, obviously lost in her own memories of a young MP and his tragedies. This should be the happiest day of my life, the day Brian agreed to our child. But instead, it's tinged with all of this mystery. If I didn't hate the fairies before, I do now. I wish we could just go home and forget all about this shit.
"If wishes were horses..." Brian says softly and I glance at him. Can he read my mind now? On that scary thought, I close my eyes and pray for sleep.
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July 25, 2004