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by Randall Morgan

Ok, here it is, shut up already!!! LOL

Chapter 32: Justin's POV

I awake on a boat in the bay, with Brian leaning over me. I smile and spread my hand on his face, and he covers it with his own. He feels warm, like he has a fever, and I push his long hair (when did his hair get so long?) behind his ear and notice the top of his ear is pointed like Spock's. And that's when I remember.

I sit up, startled, but I'm still woozy, so I fall back again, my eyes closing.

"What did you do to him?" Jimmy asks.

I hear the Brian look-alike respond, "I dinna do it. He has a battle injury, there in his head. From a blow, like a mace. Beneath the bone, his brain has a weakness, a tear. Must cause him pain. Bleeds a bit and he blacks out. But kill him it will in a matter of months. All it will take is for the fragile tissues to let go and he will bleed massively inside his skull and die. Already those tissues are beginning to fray. Or if he had another blow to the head, that would do it all at once. He's as fragile as eggshell."

"How do you know that?" Sean insists, as I feel a certain dread filter through me.

"Because I do, mortal," Fiachna responds with finality.

I sit up slowly this time and stare at the warrior fairy. "I'm dying in a few months?"

Fiachna looks unmoved by my fate. "All warriors die, Justin Taylor. But you have a wound in there," he touches my head, right where Hobbs bashed me, right where the pain always begins. "It's coming apart."

That would explain a lot. Headaches I hide from Brian. Dizziness on occasion, some vision problems. Nothing I couldn't attribute to fatigue, and so I did. Nothing I felt was life-threatening and yet, I know he's right. Instinctively, I know it. "I guess they could operate on me and fix it," I suggest and Fiachna smiles benignly.

"Your healers can't repair it, Justin. They touch it, it tears, you die. You need magic to heal your head. My wife is a healer. She could make you whole."

"Your wife. Brian's grandmother."


"Is that where he is now?"

"Most probably."

"And why are you here? With these rebels?"

"Because I am their leader, Justin. Why else?"

What? This doesn't compute.

"B-but...I thought...."

"You thought what?"

He is so like Brian that it throws me off. I want him in much the same way I want Brian, and yet he repels me, scares me. "I thought you were a king or something."

"And so I am. So what?"

"How can you plot against them?"

"I dinna plot against my own, Justin. I plot against the invasion of your kind into our realm. Seeking our magick. Corrupting our society with your ills."

I glance at Sean, and then at Fiachna. They have the same goal, but on opposite sides of the argument. I sit up, the dizziness passing, as it always does. "It's not Brian's fault. They're destroying his son. He has to cooperate to save Gus. You can't blame him."

"I know of the incentive," Fiachna responds. "But what your Brian doesn't realize is his own power, for powerful he is. The blood runs thick in his veins, you can see the resemblance to me in his face. He shares that strength with the gifts of my wife, making him even more invincible."

"How can you even say that? They've been beating him up on a regular basis!"

Fiachna smiles. "Mere trifling. If they wanted to hurt your Brian, dead he would be, many times over."

"You saved him."

"Nonsense. I merely lessened their gaming. Killing him was not their aim."

"He's just an ad man. Surely they don't believe Brian's ability to run a campaign is so critical to this blending of societies."

"True enough. They don't believe that. They need Brian for much more than an advertising campaign. They need Brian to open the door."

"Why him?"

"We've watched him over the years, seeing if he develops the gift as he grows, and he has. His irresistibility to your kind, the sensual power, the physical grace, the resilience and sense of self, the iron will, it all has basis in faerie blood. His easy ability to find pleasure with many but his dedication to love only one is also our way. Brian is that rare creature that occurs only so often in your measurement of time. He is mortal, but blooded faerie, and as such he is perfect to bring the two halves of himself together, both literally and metaphorically."

"How do you plan to stop him? Do you want to hurt him?"

"My own clansman? No, Justin, I mean Brian no harm. But stop him I must."

"He won't stop if it means Gus is lost. You have to know that much about him if you've studied him at all."

"Not even if he were to risk losing the one he loves?" Fiachna touches my hair and I feel that little shudder I get with Brian. It's creepy, since he's not my lover. And since he appears to be threatening me.

"What do you mean? You'd kill me?"

"I mean you're the bargaining chip, Justin. You're the one closest to his heart, therefore you are very, very powerful to me."

"I won't let you use me against him. You can't make Brian choose between Gus and me. It's insane! Cruel! I would never let you do that. I'd make sure he had no choice at all before I put him in that place."

He narrows those golden eyes at me. I've always wondered about Brian's eyes, one of which is more gold than green, the other more green than gold. Looking at Fiachna, I see that Brian's eyes are a microcosm of Brian's world. The green eye represents his human nature, the gold eye his faerie blood. "You'd harm yourself? To save him the terrible choice?"

"If that's the only way, yes."

Fiachna smiles. "Such a fated love. By doing so, you'd kill him, of course. You don't realize it, but when the fey find the true one love, if they lose that love, they fail to thrive and within the turn of a season, they die. Were I to lose my wife, I would be ended. The same is so of your Brian."

"No, it isn't. I did leave Brian, once. I was gone for awhile. He didn't die, didn't get sick."

"Aye, but you came back. Where there's life, there's hope. But when hope fails, so does life."

"Christ, you're putting him in a no-win situation! He can't stand by and let his son die, and now you're telling me he can't live if I die! Well, you say I may die in a few months anyway, what will happen to him then?"

"The same fate awaits your lover."

I grab the front of Fiachna's robes, shaking it in my fists. "Take me to him."

"You don't command me, Justin," he pries my hands away as if they are distasteful to him. "Keep your place."

"My place is beside Brian. We go this together."

"Your place is where I tell you your place is. You want to help your Brian and yourself, you best resign yourself to the fact your fate is wed to mine."

"How can you defeat someone as powerful as Ariel?"

He laughs. "The windsinger? He's a sylph! A minor ripple in the natural powers of the universe. Ariel's main weapon is his beauty, to which I am immune. I'm the Warrior King, Justin. There is no one faerie in our kingdom with strength greater than my own. I've defended our realm for eons, against many foe. The windsinger, like the others of the Seelie Court, rightfully fear me, and the Unseelie Court respects me. Your Brian, himself, is powerful against the windsinger. Otherwise, he would have fallen under his seductive spell long ago. Ariel is quite frustrated by his inability to seduce your man."

I knew it. The bastard faggot faerie. I knew he wanted Brian sexually. "What do we do? Do you even have a plan?" I insist. I'm sick of all the talk and no action, as Brian gets deeper and deeper into Never-never Land.

Fiachna exchanges a smile with Sean. "You're quite feisty for a mortal, especially for a mortal with such a tenuous grip on survival. I can see what drew my clansman to you, Justin."

"Whatever. What's your answer to my question?"

"Of whether I have a plan? I'm a soldier. A good soldier always has a plan."

"And what is it, if I may be so bold to ask?"

He smiles and leans close to me, his breath smelling of honeysuckle, his proximity having a sensual impact on me as he whispers, "All will be revealed."

What an asshole.

Go to Chapter 33

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July 25, 2004