THE QUIET MEN
Chapter 30 : Justin's POV
I stare at that god-damned, motherfucking fairy and I feel a pure hatred towards him. He looks straight at me and smiles. He knows how I feel, he senses my hatred, and he doesn't give a shit. I am completely irrelevant to him. Well, news flash, fairy boy. I'm the one person Brian Kinney loves, and that makes me very, very relevant in this game, because I love him too.
"I want you to leave."
He laughs. "I don't care what you want."
I feel Brian tense beside me. "I care what he wants, however. I'm with him on this. I'm tired. We've been traveling all day. We just want to be alone, fuck, eat some food, sleep. Human things. Can you dig it?"
"All of which you can do in my world, with so much more joy than anything this mortal realm can offer." He stares at me as if I represent the second class status of mortality.
Brian's arm slips around my shoulders. "I got my joy right here."
I smile at him as Ariel's feline eyes grow narrow. We have displeased the beautiful fairy. He speaks. "Your bairn grows weaker by the day. Your selfish desires come before his existence, do they?"
Oh Christ, the ultimate low blow. Gus. Brian stands up. I stand up with him, holding onto his arm, that's like coiled steel. I feel that explosive Irish temper of his building and I know he wants to flatten this guy, but I suspect that would be bad. My touch calms him a little, and I say, "What do we do?"
"You do nothing, Justin," Ariel dismisses me, as usual. "Stay here, have your little rest, eat your food, whatever pleases you. It's Brian who comes with me."
"Brian is going nowhere without me."
Brian takes my hand, and I feel my stomach flip. I know what's coming next. He stares deeply into my eyes as he says, "I want you to stay here, Justin."
"No fucking way!"
"You don't understand. I don't want you to be in harm's way. I'll be so much easier about it if you stay behind. Safe."
"Safe? Since when are we safe here? You've seen what they can do!"
"They never touched you, they touched me. I think there's a message there. I think you're safe, but not in their world. I have to do this. For Gus. I have no choice. I just want to get it over with."
I feel the terror begin in me like a fast-moving virus. It grips my stomach in an iron fist, makes me want to hurl. My hands shake and my mouth gets very dry as my heart goes into overdrive. "No."
He spreads his fingers on my cheek. "I'll be alright. I love you. I want you to promise me you'll do nothing stupid or heroic, which is one and the same. You need to hang around for Gus, if no other reason, make sure he's fine. You understand?"
I shake my head as my eyes blur with tears. I cover his hand with mine. This man, my lover, my reason for being, my partner, he can't leave me, he just can't. He can't go alone into some alternative universe where I can never enter and find him in case he doesn't come back. I can't lose him! "Don't go…." I whisper and he smiles sadly and leans in to kiss me. I close my eyes clinging to him as his tongue touches mine for….the last time?
"I have no choice," he whispers against my ear. "I have to save Gus."
"If you leave me, Kinney, I'll…"
He presses his fingertip to my lips to silence me. "I'll be back," he says in a Terminator imitation, with a slight smile that tells me how much bullshit he thinks that statement is. They have that whole elaborate story about spinning their case to the public, but I always suspected they wanted more from Brian. Not sure what it is, but something more. Something that could take him away from me forever. "You can't, Brian, it's too dangerous…please!" I'm crying now, like a little faggot, but he shakes his head and kisses me again.
"I have to go." He forces a weak smile. Then he releases me and walks over to Ariel. Ariel smiles at him and loops his arm through Brian's as they walk out the door together. I run after them, fling it open, but they're gone. Completely disappeared. As if they walked out that door into another world, which I presume they did. Panicked, I run down the stairs, just to be sure, and see no sign. I return to the room, and see Brian's leather jacket on the back of the chair. My eyes fill with tears. He didn't even take his coat. He'll be cold…he'll be miserable. I pick it up and squeeze it to my body, inhaling his scent and the ghost of his presence.
I notice a lump in the pocket, and take it out. His cell phone. Another lump is that fucking crystal ball. The thing still does nothing for me when I hold it. I allow myself a couple minutes to grieve, to give in to fear and tears and anger, and then I make myself calm. I slip into his coat, which hangs off of me, but I don't care. I want to feel close to him. I zip it up and I flip open his phone and enter a number from memory. Thank god I have such a great memory for numbers and names.
"Yes?" the voice answers.
"They've got Brian," I say with a wince. After a pause, he says,
"The fool! Meet me at the church at the end of the High Street. Let no one stop you on the way, no one. Beware shapeshifters disguised as someone you know. They aren't what they appear. I'll be in the front pew. Leave now."
I click the phone shut and leave the inn. The streets are quiet, with a little foot traffic in and out of the pub and the café. Midway to the church, Ronan stops me.
"Justin! Where are you going?"
I remember what Sean warned. Beware of shapeshifters, they aren't who you think. "Go away!" I say to this creature disguised as Ronan and she looks hurt.
"What's wrong with you? Where's Brian?"
I hesitate. What if it is Ronan? What if I'm being a total asshole? "What did we order that first time we stopped for food in your little pub in Dublin?"
Her beautiful face suddenly twists. "What nonsense are you talking?"
"Tell me, Ronan. What did we order?"
"You'll never get him back," she shifts her shape into the creature she is, a deathly beautiful selkie, and then she disappears into the darkness of a close. I run to the church, burst open the doors and find a lovely, welcoming chapel with an alter flickering under the glow of votives. Rows of empty, polished oak pews stretch out before me. I see Sean and Jimmy seated in the front pew, but no one else. I walk up to them, my tension evident when Sean tells me to sit down and I refuse.
"Sit your arse down," he commands, and I sigh and do so, pressing my hands between my knees as I look up at the gruesome figure of Christ being crucified on a cross that hangs before us, life-sized and agonizing. `Father, why have you forsaken me?' He asked as he died that horrible death. I suppose in that context, our little problems are small, but I feel forsaken too, abandoned and helpless.
"You have to help me," I say to Sean who glares at me.
"Help you? Help you what?"
"Get Brian back!"
"He made his choice. Free will. You lost."
"No he didn't. He had no free will. He's trying to save his son. That's why he went with Ariel. To save Gus."
"The fool! He has no weapons among them, no hope of success. I told him not to venture among them, unarmed. He wouldn't listen, the fucking idiot. So now they have him. In their world. You'll not see him again."
"Oh yes I will. One way or another, I will see him again, Sean. What do they want with him, anyway? What's their true motive? It can't just be to pimp their way into our society! How can he do that from there?"
"They want his soul. They want his loyalty which means they want his soul. Only if they succeed in getting it will they let him go, but even if they do, he won't be the man you know. He won't be the same, not ever again."
"What can I do?" I ask helplessly.
"What are you willing to sacrifice?" Sean asks, with a strange smile, and I'm confused by that question. A monk suddenly appears at the altar, facing the votives, a plain brown robe with a raised hood shielding his tall, slender frame. He lights a candle as I answer Sean's question.
"Do you know what you're saying?" Sean insists and I nod.
"I'll give up anything, everything, for Brian."
The monk turns to face us. He reaches up and lowers the hood to his shoulders. He seems to glow in the candlelight, his features bathed in the flickering flame. Brian's face, but not quite. Beautiful, beguiling Brian, but not Brian. He smiles at me and says, "I accept your sacrifice."
Fiachna. Holy shit.
And that was all I remember before everything went black.
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July 25, 2004