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by Randall Morgan


Chapter 28: Justin's POV

Cork is a big town, picturesque, but big. This drive has taken forever, because I keep making him stop so I can see stuff and take pictures. I know it's getting on Brian's last nerve, but I don't care. God knows, if we get out of here alive, I'm never coming back to Ireland, and neither is he. May as well have a photographic journal of this hellish adventure. We stop for dinner, and Brian is sulking as Ronan and I jabber about the Ring of Kerry, the views, the people...anything but fairies. Brian isn't eating much, although the salmon is some of the best fish I've ever tasted. He drinks the wine, and ponders that fucking crystal orb. You can buy those damn things in any witchy shop that sells gothic crap to wannabee warlocks. Brian is so not a Goth. But suddenly the orb seems to fascinate him. What does he see in it? To me, it's just a knick-knack you put on a stand on a shelf. To Brian, it's a flat screen television.

"You know, living with Harry Potter is getting boring," I challenge him and he smiles at me.

"You're just jealous."

"True. I wish evil spirits were focusing on me."

"Not evil," he corrects me. "Feral. We can't impose our own standards of behavior on a society we don't understand."

"Since when are they not evil? They're the ones holding Gus hostage and who almost killed you!"

He waves me off with a dismissive harrumph. Ronan and I exchange a nervous look. She excuses herself to go to the loo, and Brian watches her retreating form with great intensity. "What about her?" He asks. I'm confused by the question.

"What do you mean?"

He looks impatient. "The baby thing! What about Ronan to do the baby thing for us?"

"Um, why would she?"

"She said she was willing to do it for Jimmy and a partner."

"But he's her brother, and it was the usual form of artificial insemination. Plus she expected to remain in the baby's life."

"So she changes her expectations. We could pay her."

"I think she would consider that insulting, Brian."

"The baby thing or the money?"

"I'm not sure. Both maybe. We don't know her well enough to make such an intimate request."

"Maybe not this minute, but...keep it in your head."

I'm relieved he still wants to move forward with the `baby thing', as he puts it. He gets so lost in this fairy shit, I sometimes wonder what else is going on with him. It's nice to see he's still thinking of our future. But the Ronan idea throws me for a curve. Not sure I want any continuing link with Ireland. We finish our meal in tense silence, and as we return to the car, Brian says to the driver, "Go west."

Means nothing to me, but Ronan looks confused. "You'll miss the best views," she says. "It's lovely in the gloaming."

"West," Brian says firmly, and we don't argue. What's the point? Driving west takes us through pretty but very similar countryside. I soon grow bored and doze off with my head resting against his shoulder. I don't awake until Brian jars me by twisting away from me to peer out the window. We're nearing Killorglin, the sign posts inform us, and it's a spectacularly beautiful village overlooking Dingle Bay.

"Stop!" Brian commands. "I want to walk."

The driver pulls over and Brian gets out. I follow, but Ronan wisely stays in the car. Brian stands there on a hilltop, surveying the area. The town is at the lip of the bay, a village, really, with stone commercial structures and cottages whitewashed in pastels, some with thatched roofs. Behind us is the road to Killarney with its famous lakes and gracious countryside. Before us is a town so small, so beautiful, it's hard to believe anyone would leave here for America.

"Do you feel it?" he says to me and I look confused.

"Feel what?"

"Home," he says with a wistful smile.

I can honestly say I've never felt less home. As picturesque as Killorglin is, I feel threatened here. Something about it scares me. Maybe it's merely the fact Brian feels part of something that excludes me completely.

"Come on," he says, taking my hand. "Let's take the shortcut through the woods."

I balk. Taking a shortcut through the woods always leads to trouble in every horror movie I've ever seen, and believe me this is a horror movie. While the gloaming is still a pale lavender light, I don't know how much longer we'll have it, and the thought of walking into those heavy trees in the dark fills me with dread.

"I don't want to," I tell him and he smiles.

"Okay, then ride into town with Ronan and I'll meet you there."

The only thing scarier than going into those woods is the idea that Brian would go there alone. And never emerge. No way is that happening. I sigh and gird my loins, whatever the fuck that means. "Okay, okay, let's do it."

The car abandons us and I hold tightly to his hand as we start along a small footpath that leads quickly into a thick forest of ancient trees. "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" he teases me, and I have to smile.

"Personally, I'd welcome the sight of a tinman with an ax that we could borrow right about now."

"A hard man is good to find."

Brian seems very carefree as we walk deeper into the murk. The footpath is merely a narrow trail of denuded flora now, and I'm getting nervous. "Do you know the way?" I question him and he shrugs.

"Not sure."

"Not SURE?" I repeat and he smiles at me. He pauses to light a cigarette, takes one puff, coughs and grimaces. He tamps it out on a stone and breaks it in half as he throws it down. "What's wrong with it?" I have noticed how little he's been smoking. A wonderful thing, really, since his Dad died of lung cancer and it scares me to death to think of Brian facing a similar fate. But no one can make him quit except himself.

"Nothing, but cigarettes don't taste good to me, lately. They say they're American cigarettes and they sure as hell charge a premium for them, but they taste funny to me."

"Maybe you're pregnant," I tease. "They say pregnant women often experience an aversion to cigarettes."

"Well, that would solve the surrogacy issue," he teases, as we start walking again.

I have to giggle, but I keep my hand tightly in his as the wind rustles the trees causing them to whisper at us. From a distance we hear the sound of tinny music, high pitched but lyrical. A faint golden glow beckons from beyond the next rise. He smiles. "Let's go watch for a minute. But eat or drink nothing offered to you, Justin. You understand?"

I nod. "Watch what?"

"The fairies," he says simply, and off we go, up the rise and down to a clearing in the forest where tiny creatures, dressed in gold and glowing like candles dance merrily around a fire, accompanied by tiny musicians playing golden instruments. They're beguiling, beautiful, unlike others we have seen.

"They're Sidhe Draoi," Brian whispers to me. "They live in the forests, among the thirteen sacred trees. They're beautiful, aren't they? But don't be coaxed into their circle, or you'll never leave."

I have to admit, they are beautiful and delicate wisps of light. The music is hypnotic and when the song ends, two of them approach us. Brian crouches down to be more on their level and they examine him, touching his shoes, his leg, talking to each other in that high-pitched drone used by the pixies. More approach and slowly I realize they're ringing Brian. Panicked, I reach for him, but he smiles at me and pulls the orb from his pocket. The Sidhe Draoi recoil from it and back away from their plot, returning to the fireside to dance another number.

Brian stands, returns the orb to his pocket and sighs. "These woods are full of portals, the trooping fairies must be near."

"How do you know?"

"I can see their portals when I use the crystal."

"I want out of here, Brian."

He nods, takes my hand, and we leave the fairy mound, returning to the path. I'm feeling claustrophobic among all these overhanging trees as darkness takes over from the gloaming, and just when I feel panic beginning, the woods open up to a cleared footpath and the town of Killorglin is visible at the base of the path. Heaving a sigh of relief, I loop my arm through his, urging him to increase his speed. It's usually the other way around, with Brian urging me to keep up with his long strides. He stops and looks down at the lovely village built around a central square with a clock tower and an ancient road crossing marker.

"This is it, Justin," he says quietly, enfolding me in his arms. "We've come home."

No, home is a loft in Pittsburgh, P-A, US of A, not this Brigadoon on Dingle Bay. "I don't think this was a good idea," I say with a sigh and he kisses me and laughs, informing me I'm a scaredy cat as he takes my hand and pulls me along into the heart of the village.

Go to Chapter 29

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