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Please allow me to ramble on as I post this finale. First, thanks to each of you for remaining loyal and dedicated readers to this long, long, LONG series! I really appreciate all of your comments, your loyalty to the writing and your friendship. I've enjoyed writing it, but I enjoyed your friendship even more. A special shout out to certain people:

Alan: A beta who is literate and creative can make the difference between a sloppy story and one that is tight and engaging. It takes a lot of time and effort to beta a series that is printed as often and for as long as this one. I thank Alan not only for his erudite assistance, but also for helping me work out plot kinks, even the ones I didn't realize I had. Thanks so much, Alan. You're the best.

Jen: One of the most intriguing aspects of writing this fiction has been my collaboration with Jen. Her art is inspiring, moving, and has an unerring ability to portray exactly the emotions I hope to invoke. This final cover for Recon Brian is simply a masterpeice to me. It says it all. She is an incredible artist and a good friend. Thanks so much, Jen. You're the tops.

Roz: Not only has Roz been instrumental in posting these stories and moderating this site, but she's my unofficial beta, catching the inevitables that slip through. She's also very good at kicking my ass when need be. I appreciate her blunt honesty, her artistic integrity and her incredible sense of humor. I'm there for Roz. Thanks so much, Roz. You're da bomb.

Pfyre: Without Pfyre, there would be no site. She created it, hosted it, moderated it, doctored it and managed it. She is a credit not only to me but to the whole QAF fandom. She is a lynchpin of this fandom and her contributions cannot be emphasized enough. It has been a pleasure to get to know Pfyre as a friend as well as a legend, and I will be forever grateful to her for giving me this opportunity to publish. Thanks so much, Pfyre. You're the webmaster extradonaire!

Cael, Heather, Lucky, La Mon, Lady J, Teresa, Joy, Suzzane, Erin, Pam,Preston, MM, Bill, Ali, Aliki, Gypsy, Bat, Gabe, Susan, Michele,Crick,Lois, Lucel,Carolyn, Doc Barbara and many, many, many others (don't hate me if I didn't list you, I ran out of room!) who have filled the web site with commentary and humor and pathos and have given me feedback after feedback after feedback because you understood my whore's need for fulfillment! THANKS! And thanks for your ideas and technical assistance too.

I've waffled about whether I intend to continue to write fan fiction. I've killed whole trees with the amount of written word I've scrawled about Brian and Justin. What else is there to say? Who knows. I expect something will occur to me. But for now, I'm not going to start a new series. I want a break from that weekly grind, at least for awhile. And I suspect there are those who want a break from my angst. I will probably post one-off stories as the mood hits me, and who knows? I may wake up with a great idea for a series, and off I go, or I'm toying with the idea of writing a much longer, one installment novelette.

In the meantime, I plan to write for publication, and I also plan to keep posting Live Journal entries daily with Cael. They are fun and quick. I'll keep hitting the site and staying in touch and gossiping with my friends here. I'll give you warning when I expect to post a new work and hope my team will stay assembled so that I can continue to call upon their talents.

PERSONAL NOTE: Many of you have gone through my travails with Big Brian, my partner. Well, last night we decided to register as domestic partners, which is a very big step for us. I adore him, and I'm lucky that it's mutual. He is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope we will be together through it all. Don't expect a wedding, this is probably as far as either of us feel we need to go, but we're thrilled and I wanted to share our joy with you, my friends.

Thank you for your loyalty and friendship. Enjoy the finale. BIG HUG and kiss, Randall Morgan

Reconstructing Brian

Chapter 27: Finale

Justin was dreaming.

He was standing in a ballroom wearing an ill-fitting tuxedo. The music was piped-in, some old, old, old song about a last dance. A blue-tinted spotlight was on him, and the crowd had drawn back from the dance floor. He would have been alone, except for Brian, who was impeccably dressed in a dark Italian suit, with a white silk scarf draped against his lapels. They were dancing, their eyes never leaving each other, their bodies glued together in perfect rhythm. Suddenly Brian slipped an arm against the small of Justin's back and lifted him off of his feet. Brian twirled Justin as he held him against his body and Justin felt the greatest bliss of his life.

When he looked into Brian's eyes, he saw something that wasn't there before. He saw love. Brian loved him. He loved him enough to come to that dance full of adolescents, grab Justin and dance with him while the whole world stared. Brian loved him! The elusive, impossibly sardonic and cold Brian Kinney was expressing his love for Justin Taylor! And then he saw himself with Brian in the garage attached to the hotel, walking hand in hand. They paused at the Jeep, and they kissed, a gentle kiss, but the most important kiss of their relationship. They made plans to join up later. Justin was wearing the white scarf Brian had draped across his tux.

He looked back over his shoulder when he walked towards the hotel doors, grinning as Brian slid into the Jeep. He saw Brian watch him in the side mirror. And then.....

Brian was startled awake as Justin screamed. He didn't murmur or moan or speak, he screamed. "What the fuck?" Brian said as Justin scrambled out of the bed in their loft in Soho and backed up until the window hit his back. "What's wrong with you?" Brian insisted, switching on the lamp.

Justin was chalk-white, his eyes wide with terror as he ran for the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before he vomited. Brian had followed him and he pressed a towel to Justin's forehead and held it there until the spewing ended. Then he helped him back to bed, and sat beside him, stretching his arm across Justin's shoulders as his lover trembled with fearful agitation.

"That must have been one hell of a nightmare," Brian observed. Justin winced, slipping his head down to rest against Brian's chest, clinging to him as he listened to the reassuring sound of his lover's heartbeat.

"It wasn't a nightmare," Justin whispered hoarsely. "It was a memory."

"A memory of what?" Brian asked, threading his fingers through Justin's hair. The golden strands felt clammy.

"Of the prom."

Brian forced him to sit back so he could look into his tear-filled eyes. "Your senior prom?"

Justin nodded.

"Jesus, what did you remember?"

"All of it," Justin said, wiping his arm across his eyes. "The way you looked in that dark suit, the scarf you were wearing. You lifted me off of my feet."

"I what?"

"Don't you remember? While we were dancing, at one point you lifted me off of my feet and twirled me."

Brian sighed, recalling the maneuver. "I remember."

"So do I. Now. And when I looked at you, I knew. I knew that you loved me. That night, during that dance, you loved me. For the first time, you were telling me so."

Brian stood, it was his turn to react emotionally. He went over to the makeshift bar atop their dresser and poured himself a Scotch and one for Justin. He downed his in one gulp and gave the other to his lover. "Yes, Justin, I was telling you that I loved you. And you heard me. You returned that love. We kissed goodbye at the Jeep, and we both understood. And then my whole world fell apart."

"I felt the blow of that bat on my head, Brian. It was like running full speed into a freight train. More shock than pain. And then blackness. Nothing but blackness. I didn't see you rescue me."

"Belatedly."

"No," Justin walked over and put his hands on Brian's shoulders. "Just in time to save my life. Brian, I'm sorry."

"You're sorry? For what?"

"For forgetting that dance and what happened between us that night. For letting Chris Hobbs and his homophobia keep us from where we are now. Also for being such a prat about your efforts to make me remember. God, we wasted so much time."

Brian smiled and looped his arms around Justin's waist. "Yeah, you're so ancient now. Look, I believe in fate. Fate intervened for a reason. Maybe we weren't ready for it then. Maybe we were being saved from ourselves. Maybe you had to test it with someone else to realize how you felt about me. Maybe I had to see how it felt to lose you to understand how much I wanted to be with you. We have to believe things worked out the way they should. We're together now. We love each other. And for all the shit that's been thrown at us, we've managed to hold on to those feelings. Maybe we wouldn't have, then. I love you, Justin Taylor."

Justin smiled slightly. "It's not even the quarter."

"I just voted you an extra dividend."

"I'll take it. I love you, too, Brian Kinney."

"I know."

"Brian, is this forever?"

"Shut up and kiss me."

Justin did so, as the melody of that long forgotten song teased through his mind.

Doctor's Notes: BK requested a special session with both himself and his partner, JT. He told me that JT had a sudden recall of the prom experience in which he had been bashed by one of his fellow students. This event was seminal for BK, and his frustration over his partner's ability to remember was ameliorated only by his fear that the pain and terror of the attack would haunt JT. JT has undergone regression therapy, so it's not completely unexpected that he had a spontaneous recovery of that lost memory. They both appeared calm and sat together on the couch, holding hands. It was the first time I had seen BK show his affection for his partner around me, although he can speak of it rather easily now.

Excerpt from Transcript:

Doctor: You look a little tired, Justin. How are you handling this event?

JT: (Shrugs) Not so bad. It was hard last night. I woke up screaming, scared Brian to death.

BK: I thought Jeffrey had escaped.

(They share a laugh.)

Doctor: What happened?

JT: I puked.

Doctor: Not a completely unanticipated reaction to sudden and extreme psychic stress.

JT: Well, after that, we had a drink and we talked about it. That's why I look tired. We never went back to sleep.

BK: It wasn't ALL talk.

JT: Shut UP. Doctor: Okay, so you talked and then you had sex. Tell me about the talking, I think I can pretty well imagine the sex.

BK: I like the sound of that. Lydia daydreaming about my fucking the brat.

Doctor: Don't flatter yourself. I was speaking professionally. What did you talk about?

JT: I told Brian I knew that he loved me that night at the prom. And that I was sorry I forgot.

BK: And I told him he was right about that, but the rest doesn't matter anymore. We're together now, I gave up my superstition about the prom with your help, Lydia.

JT: What does that mean?

BK: I used to think if you never remembered the prom, we could never be as close as we are now. You would never believe how long I've loved you and how much I care, and we'd lose all the voodoo of that dance.

JT: And now?

BK: Lydia helped me to see it was magical thinking. Real life doesn't work that way. Jeffrey can't save Molly's life if I bargain for it with my soul. Either she lives or she dies, depending on how well her little body combats the disease, not on magical bargaining. I can't base our relationship on a dance that happened on the best and worst night of my life. Our love for each other has to survive in the here and now, not based on the ridiculously romantic feelings we aroused in each other at your senior prom. I understand all that now, with her help. I can love you even without the prom, and I know you can love me, too.

JT: And now that I remember? What does that mean for us?

Doctor: What do you want it to mean?

JT: That everything I believed about Brian Kinney from the first night I met him was true. He was good beneath all that bad boy shit. He was capable of love, and beneath all that denial, he was the one; the only one for me.

Doctor: Brian, how do you feel about it?

BK: I think it was a beautiful moment in our lives, before we went to that garage. I want to remember it and end it in that ballroom. I want to be old with him one day, and hear that song come on to play and we look at each other and we can remember when we were young and beautiful and had fallen in love for the very first time. And for the last.

(JT leans over and kisses BK gently on the lips.)

Doctor: Justin, how do you feel about the dark side of the memory? The pain and the terror?

JT: (Sighs, tightens his grip on BK's hand) I understand why certain things make me skittish, now. Garages, for instance. Baseball, funnily enough. Homophobes. But the pain is long gone, and most of the after-effects are gone too. I don't want to linger on all that stuff. I want to get past it.

Doctor: It may take some work, but you will.

JT: I think so too.

BK: Maybe that means I'll be able to go to Central Park again someday, huh?

Doctor: I hope so, Brian. You need to be able to go to Central Park again, for your own peace of mind. Justin, I suggest you schedule a few sessions with your doctor to ensure you work through these issues with him. You may experience some things you don't even attribute to the memory recovery, and he can help you sift that out.

JT: I will.

BK: Justin, may I talk to Lydia alone for a minute?

(JT nods, exits the room. Brian sighs.)

BK: Is he going to be okay?

Doctor: He needs to work through the recovery in more detail, but yes, Brian. I think he'll be fine. How about you?

BK: He scared the shit out of me last night, screaming like that.

Doctor: No doubt.

BK: I had no idea what to do.

Doctor: Really? So what did you do?

BK: I held his head while he puked, I gave him a drink, we talked, I fucked him.

Doctor: That seems to have turned out rather well. What else do you think you should have done?

BK: I don't know! I don't know how to deal with trauma.

Doctor: I think you do, and you did. Does he seem okay to you today?

BK: Better, yes.

Doctor: Then you did good, Brian. And you brought him here just to be sure.

BK( Sits in silence for a long moment, then speaks.) Lydia, uh....

Doctor: What is it, Brian?

BK: Thanks.

Doctor: For?

BK: Everything.

Doctor: More specific.

BK: When I first started seeing you I was a fucked up mess. I was on the verge of emotional collapse. You bore in and got past my bullshit and helped me to look in the mirror and see the things I liked and keep them, and also see the things I didn't like and overcome them. If not for you, I wouldn't be with Justin now. I know that. I was too fucked up to be in a real relationship. I would have ruined it. Many is the time I would have fucked it up since he came to New York, but you pulled me back from the ledge.

Doctor: Brian, as much as I'd love the credit, it's not deserved. You did the work. All I did was help you unravel your own strengths and use them to your advantage. It was all there. It was just buried under years of doubt and denial. You were a very brave man to face up to that fact. To cry in front of me. To admit your fears. To admit your need for love. That takes guts. Especially from a man who was as damaged as you were while growing up.

BK: Well, then, I guess we're a mutual admiration society, huh?

Doctor: I prefer to think you're one of my success stories.

BK: Does that mean we won't be seeing each other anymore?

Doctor: That's entirely up to you, Brian. You're the only one who knows if you're ready for that.

BK: I'm not sure.

Doctor: I think we're definitely ready for you to see me less frequently. I'd like to see you once every four weeks for awhile, and if you have a crisis, you can schedule some time in between. I think that's often enough for now. How do you feel about that?

BK: A little nervous.

Doctor: Not uncommon. But have faith. If it starts feeling wrong, we can readjust, but I don't think that will be necessary.

BK: I'll miss you. I think of you as a friend, sort of.

Doctor: Remember what I told you, Brian? I'm your doctor, not your friend. That's still true. But that doesn't mean I don't care what happens to you, because I do. And maybe when your therapy is complete, maybe then we can be friends for real.

BK: I'd like that. I may be a fag, but I like women, you know?

Doctor: I know. And women like you.

BK: (Chuckles) Since I'm going to have a daughter, I guess I'd better like that gender.

Doctor: I haven't heard that! Congratulations! The baby is a girl?

BK: Yes, a girl.

Doctor: One of each. A nice family.

BK: I guess so. It didn't work out so well in my family.

Doctor: This is your family, now, Brian. You and Justin and Lindsay and the children and even Lindsay's lover. Just don't make the same mistakes your father made and you'll be fine.

BK: Right. Well, I guess I'd better get out there, or Justin will think we're talking about him. Four weeks then, Lydia?

Doctor: Four weeks would be fine.

End of Transcript

Doctor's Notes: BK has now had his wish fulfilled. He wanted his partner, JT, to recall the prom dance, and now he has. It was a traumatic event for them both, but it would appear they have weathered it well. BK and I agree that he can slow down the rate of his visits to this office. His coping mechanisms are securely in place now. He seems strongly grounded with JT, and very protective of their relationship. He has fielded severe threats to their happiness and they came through it together. He seems aware of his weaknesses and how to patch around them. He is no longer unable to express his emotions, and to state his feelings to those who matter to him. He is also able to accept that he is worthy of being loved and of being in a committed relationship. His need to medicate his pain with drugs, alcohol or promiscuous sex has been re-channeled into the ability to express that pain and work through his issues. He knows he can't control every outcome and is learning to cope with giving up some control to others, and to accept the intervention of unplanned occurrences. I am very pleased by his progress and hope that his self-awareness continues in the future.

Two weeks later, Brian and Justin sat on the first row in the courtroom located one floor above the courtroom where Chris Hobbs was given a wrist-slap for nearly killing Justin. There was no trial. Jeffrey Walker was entering a plea. But they both wanted to be there for the sentencing, to hear him admit guilt, to see what the Judge meted out as his punishment. While the District Attorney agreed to a sentence recommendation in return for pleading to reduced charges, the Judge still had flexibility on sentencing. Jeffrey looked tired, subdued, as he stood to face the court and the charge was read to him.

Justin reached over to squeeze Brian's hand, and Brian held tightly to his fingers, taking comfort in his close proximity. At their request, their other friends had stayed away. As did Jennifer. They wanted this moment to themselves. Judge Kimberly was an attractive, surprisingly youthful African-American woman who compensated for her petite size and young face with an iron will. According to Melanie, she had a rep as a smart, no-nonsense jurist who ran a tight ship and was fair but not lenient with criminals.

Brian was mesmerized by her as she went over the charges with Jeffrey. He thought of Lydia, of how much difference his shrink had made in his life. Of how Lydia made it possible for him to forge this relationship with Justin. He could never repay Lydia for the changes she led into his life.

"You have entered a plea of guilty to the charges of obstruction of justice, illegal prescription and distribution of controlled substances, and sexual assault. Is this your plea, Dr. Walker?" Judge Kimberly asked from the bench.

"Yes, your honor," he said softly.

It could have been worse, Brian knew. It could have been linked back to his shooting to make a case of attempted murder. It could have been rape. It could have been a flat dealing charge on the drugs. Jeffrey's attorneys cut the best deal he could get, but this was still serious.

"Dr. Walker, your attorneys have forwarded to me your plea for leniency. They cite your good work with desperately ill children, your impeccable past record. They refer to your daughter, and your value to the community and the reduced risk of recidivism."

Brian glanced at Justin, terrified of where this was going. Justin gave him a slight smile, trying to reassure him that it would be fine. Brian was squeezing his fingers so tightly that they ached, but he made no move to pull free. Instead, he moved his knee so that his thigh pressed against Brian's, drawing them even closer together.

"But I'll tell you what I see," the judge went on. "I see a man who was given every advantage in life. I see a man with a gift for healing, who misused that gift in an effort to satisfy his own carnal desires. I see a man who wants for no material item, who is educated in the horrors of what drug addiction can do to a person, but who used his knowledge of chemicals in an attempt to enslave another man, not for profit. But is that goal really less egregious than the corner dealer who is only in it for the bucks? I think not. I see a medically trained man who used his knowledge of leukemia to instill such fear and dread in others, that he convinced them a young girl would die if he didn't treat her and that he wouldn't treat her if he didn't get his way. And in the end, I see a man who, when cornered, threatened the life of not only this man he has tortured and vexed for months, but also that person's partner and even that person's infant child. Based on what I see, Dr. Walker, I am not inclined to grant your plea for leniency."

Brian released Justin's beleaguered hand to clutch his thigh instead and Justin beamed at him, prying his fingers off his leg and patting his arm in a soothing gesture. Brian couldn't take his eyes off the judge. She went on, her expression of contempt never wavering.

"And so, Dr. Walker, I have chosen to give you the maximum sentence allowed for these crimes, ten years in the state penitentiary, to be served concurrently, with no possibility of parole for three years. This court stands adjourned."

Jeffrey was speaking frantically to his attorney who was trying to explain something while the bailiff was slipping handcuffs onto Jeffrey's wrists. Brian stood, and instead of following Justin out, he stared at Jeffrey until he met his eyes. Jeffrey stopped talking and stared at Brian in mute horror over what just happened. Brian smiled and gave him the thumb's up signal, before he turned and left the courtroom, never wanting to see the man again.

That evening, Justin looked confused as Brian led him up the stairs to his old loft on Tremont Street. "I don't understand what we're doing here."

"Neither do I, really, but Emmett said ‘come to your old loft', so that's what we're doing. It's strange being here, isn't it?" Brian asked, holding Justin's hand as they paused before the metal door. "I know this loft is much smaller than the one in Soho, but since we cut it up, this one will feel huge."

"I know, I...." they were interrupted by the sliding open of the door. Emmett stood in the doorway, beaming at them.

"Come in, boys."

"Surprise!" A cheer went up in the room as they stepped into the loft. It was beautifully done up for an elegant party, Emmett at his catering best. Cute waiters circulated among Brian and Justin's friends and family, serving champagne and canapés. Brian looked around at the old loft, noticing it was inhabited now, and by someone with very different tastes from his own.

"Who...what?" He and Justin each took a stem of champagne as Emmett looped his arms through theirs and led them into the heart of the party.

"We're celebrating your putting that nasty motherfucker behind bars! Sorry ladies."

"But who lives here?"

"Honey, I live here. Well, Brent and I live here. You remember Brent?"

Emmett motioned over a tall, handsome young man who kissed him on the cheek. Brian stared at him, trying to place him. Finally he shook his head. "Tell me again."

"We met at Babylon ages ago," Emmett explained. "We had a...moment. We were perfect together, but it went wrong. We only had a few hours together, but it was like an entire relationship. We lost each other after that. I saw him at the diner the next day and it was like the last scene from the Way We Were. I was Barbra, of course. Well, things intervened..." he glanced at Ted and Blake who were oblivious to this conversation. "But then I catered a party for an association of CPA's and guess who was one of them? That's right. Brent. My Robert Redford. When he was young and gorgeous, of course, before he got all craggy and sun-damaged. Anyway, we've been together for awhile now, and when this place came up on the market, it was fated. I always loved your loft, Brian. The kitchen is divine. I've done well with my little business, and Brent is a wonderful accountant, so...now it's in the family again. Isn't that super?"

Brian shrugged, still trying to assimilate the idea that Emmett was living in his old space. He said something pleasant to Brent and watched Justin escape to embrace Daphne. Brian found Michael and hugged him, before kissing him lightly on the lips.

"Why didn't you tell me Em was living here?"

"He wanted to surprise you."

"He did that."

"How do you feel after the sentencing?"

"Vindicated, actually. That judge was great."

"I told you," Melanie came over and even she bussed Brian's cheek. "Judge Kimberly's superb. I doubt if we'll be able to keep her long in our little judicial pool. She's destined for greater things."

"She should be," Brian agreed, noticing Melanie's beautiful Asian girlfriend was talking quietly with Jennifer. The two women could not have been less alike. "How's tricks, Mel?"

"Tricks is good, Bri. We've been approved for a baby in China. It's a long process, but within the year we should have her."

"Congratulations. We'll both have a daughter."

She smiled at him. "Poor little Gus will be overrun with sisters."

"You could always have..." Michael started to say, but Brian shut him down.

"The baby factory is closed, Mikey. This is my last one."

As if on cue, the door opened and Mick and Lindsay entered the party, fresh from New York. Mick was holding Gus, who wiggled out of her arms and made a bee-line to his father. Brian swooped him up, then kissed him and let him straddle his hip as the two women followed. Each received a kiss from Brian and Melanie looked closely at Lindsay, noticing the telltale bulge beneath her knit dress. "You're showing."

"I know. Isn't it great? But I'm being careful about my weight this time. I don't want the struggles of losing it later."

"You look beautiful."

"So do you, Mel."

They exchanged a friendly hug. Melanie then extended her arms to Gus. "Doesn't Mommy get a hug from you?"

Gus let Brian hand him off, and Brian and Michael walked over to the kitchen, refilling their champagne glasses at the counter. "They seem to have worked past the hatred and bitterness," Michael observed and Brian nodded.

"Lesbians: a model for us all. It helps a lot that Mel found someone. She moved on. Where's Ben?"

"He's coming. He has an evening class tonight."

"How is he?"

"Great."

"Is he well?"

Michael nodded, as they both thought of Shea. "Are you happy, Mikey?"

"I am, Brian. Are you?"

Brian nodded. "In a non-traditional, anti-social kind of way." Michael laughed and embraced his old friend.

"Can't you two stay away from each other? Come here, you." Debbie grabbed Brian and hugged him tightly against her ample frame. "How does it feel to have kicked that motherfucker's balls up the back of his throat?"

"Why Deb, you always have such a colorful and maternal way of putting things," Brian teased and she smirked as she wiped her lipstick smudge off of his cheek.

"I know. I should write for television."

"Definitely. ‘Smut TV'. It felt great, to be truthful. I felt vindicated for the very first time. Excuse me, I see the girl of my dreams," he left them to cross the room and put his arms around Molly's slender form, lifting her off the floor in a slow twirl. She giggled and braced her hands on his shoulders, throwing her head back as she turned, her strawberry blonde hair now long enough to fall back as she did so. He lowered her to her feet and leaned over to kiss her nose. "How's the princess?"

"This is my first party since I got sick. They wouldn't let me go out in crowds, but now I can," she said, taking his hand and leading him over to the couch, where she sat beside him. He noticed so many features in common with her brother: the same little nose, perfect skin and even the same gentle cleft in her lower lip. She hadn't yet developed from little girl to young woman, her chest still flat and limbs still spindly, but all the promise was there. He felt suddenly protective, wanting to keep her safe from horny boys and broken hearts. He wondered if that's how he would feel about his own daughter?

"You look beautiful, Molly."

She blushed and poked his arm with a knuckle punch. "Not! Mom won't give me any details, but I know something bad happened to you, Brian, and I know it had to do with Dr. Jeffrey and my treatment. Why won't anyone tell me? I'm not a child."

He met her solemn eyes, thinking this was a person who faced her own mortality and struggled her way back from almost certain death. No, she wasn't a child. She was one of the bravest people he'd known. "It didn't have anything to do with your treatment, Molly. But Dr. Jeffrey got a kind of a crush on me, and he would stop at nothing to come between Justin and me. He misused his ability to prescribe drugs and he did some other bad things that really aren't important and have nothing to do with you. But now he has to pay for those mistakes. I'm glad, because he hurt me and worse than that, he hurt Justin. But part of me will always be grateful to Jeff for his help in making you better. I'd go through every bit of it again if it meant I'd be sitting here talking to you like this."

She took that in, then frowned. "Is everything okay with you and Justin now?"

"It was never not okay with Justin and me. No one can come between us. No one."

"Are you going to marry Justin?"

"Uh," Brian felt the shock of that question burn through to his spine. Molly stared at his expression, and then said,

"Gay people can get married now, you know. I read that somewhere."

"Yeah, in Toronto. Look, Mol, Justin and I have registered as what they call ‘domestic partners'. It's almost like being married. In that way we can be sure we get rights to each other if one of us is ill, or if we need insurance or buy property together, whatever. It's an official thing to do, so under the eyes of the law, we're already a couple."

She shook her head. "That's boring."

"Agreed, but..."

"I want a cake. I want flowers. I want to be your maid of honor."

He laughed. "Tell you what, I'll be the maid of honor at your wedding. How's that?"

She giggled. "You'd look funny in a frilly dress."

"I'll have you know I have great shoulders!"

She giggled again. "Is that your baby Lindsay is having?"

Another hard subject, Brian realized with a wince. Molly was in rare form tonight. "Yep."

Her eyes met his and held his gaze. "I don't get it. Are you gay or not?"

"Yes, I'm gay, Molly."

"So how did your baby get there? The same way Gus did? By that artificial ‘summation stuff?"

Lying to Molly was not on Brian's agenda. "Not exactly, no."

"Explain."

"The baby got there the usual way babies get made. It's complicated, Molly."

She frowned. "It's not complicated, Brian. I know how babies get made. I thought gay people didn't do that with girls."

Justin suddenly flopped down on the other side of his sister. Brian heaved a sigh of relief for the interruption. His relief was premature. "Yeah, Bri," Justin goaded him. "I thought so too."

Brian glared at his lover who offered a sweet smile to him, as if completely innocent. "Well, Molly," Brian began, emphasizing her name. "I knew Linds long before I ever met Justin. She was kind of my girlfriend when we were in college."

"You weren't gay in college?"

"Yes, but maybe not quite as gay as I am now. So my relationship with her is very complex. But we don't really have sex with each other, haven't in years, and we never planned to make this baby. But Lindsay was going through some rough waters, we had too much to drink, and things happened. Let this be a lesson to you. Never get drunk with a guy and yes, you can get pregnant even if you only do it once."

"And never, NEVER cheat on your boyfriend," Justin added with a smirk. Brian glared at him, and mimed bowing a violin. Justin winced.

"Were you mad?" Molly asked her brother, who shrugged.

"I'm over it."

"Brian, I can never get pregnant," she announced. He narrowed his eyes at her.

"Not now, but someday when you're older."

"No, never. All of the radiation treatments and chemo made it where I can never have a baby. So no prince will ever come for me."

Brian glanced at Justin who nodded. The sterility was a fact. Brian then slipped his arm across her shoulders and she leaned back against him. "Mol, do you think your brother and I are happy together?"

"Yes."

"We're pretty lovey-dovey aren't we?"

"I think so."

"Unless they come up with a major medical breakthrough, Justin and I are never having kids together, either. He can share Gus and the baby, but we'll never have our own child. I don't love him any less because of that. I didn't choose to make a life with Lindsay, who could have my babies. I chose Justin, because I love him."

"But you're gay," she said logically and he nodded.

"True, but I'm talking about love. Love isn't defined by reproduction. And all babies don't have to come from your body to be yours. Adoption is a very important option. Lots of children need good homes. If some man doesn't want to marry you because you can't be his baby factory, then he wasn't a real prince to begin with." He met Justin's smile with a wink. Molly considered that statement for a minute, and then nodded.

"You think so?"

"I know so."

She leaned over to kiss Brian's cheek. "Okie-dokie. I want some cake!" She left them, able to engage that child's ability to shift from life-and-death issues to the frivolity of a sugary sweet with ease. Justin closed the gap between them on the sofa and leaned in to kiss Brian.

"I adore you," he said, making Brian wince in response.

"Shut up."

Justin took Brian's chin in hand and forced him to meet his eyes. "I mean it. You're a wonderful man."

"I mean it too. Shut up."

"Celebrating?" Jennifer interrupted them. Her son shrugged.

"I guess that's the point, Mom."

"Doesn't Molly look wonderful?" She asked, and all three of them looked across the room to where Molly was sharing her cake with Gus.

"She's a doll," Brian responded.

"You two saved her life. Justin, you gave her the immunities she needed to fight that horrible disease, and Brian you gave her the emotional support she needed to keep fighting when she might otherwise have given up."

"Jen, are you sorry Jeffrey was sent to the pen?" Brian asked unexpectedly. Jennifer stared at him in horror.

"How can you even think that?"

"Because he did help save Molly. I still carry some residual guilt because of that."

"Bullshit!" Jennifer said and Justin's eyes widened at his mother's profanity. "I'll admit, when things were darkest with Molly, I grasped at any straw to help her. It was easy for me to fall under Jeffrey's healing spell. And maybe he did help her. I hope so. But he bargained my son's happiness with the life of my daughter. He can rot in hell for all I care."

"How do you really feel about it, Mom?" Justin teased. She grabbed his hand and hauled him to his feet.

"Just for that, you have to dance with me."

"With a GIRL?" Justin protested with dripping sarcasm. Brian patted his lover's rump as he glided by.

"Come on, Kinney, it's you and me." He looked up as Daphne addressed him, wiggling her fingers at him. "Let's dance."

A slow song was playing on the sound system, and he took her gently in his arms, always amazed by how small girls felt when he held them, especially a petite thing like Daphne.

"I've always been your fan," she said.

He laughed. "Liar."

"Okay, not always. But once I figured out how much you love him, I became your fan. Let's face it, I figured it out a long time before he did."

"I'll give you that. I appreciate your pushing for me, Daphne. I know you were in my corner even when he was with the violin player. Thanks."

"It was easy, Brian. You're the real thing. I never could stand Ethan. He made my skin crawl. He was just a boomerang love affair, nothing more. Justin's always loved you."

Brian smiled. "Right, whatever."

"But if you ever hurt him, you are so dead."

"Why would I do that?"

"Shit happens."

"Daph, shit DID happen. The violin player happened, Jeffrey happened, the bashing, the incident in Central Park, it all happened already. What's left? Tony Soprano and Big Pussy in a dark alley? No, wait, we already had that pleasure. I think we've endured the worst of it."

She giggled. "Okay, Call me protective, but..."

"Protective Butt," he teased and then the music changed. Last Dance came on. Daphne met Brian's eyes and smiled. He smiled back and they automatically parted. He scanned the party for Justin who was walking towards him. Wordlessly, Justin glided into Brian's arms, and the others stepped back as they began to dance. The couple didn't notice. It didn't matter. They were alone in their world, in this loft, where it all started for them, with this song that defined their love.

Jeffrey had been in prison for three months.

Meanwhile, Brian was dozing in the last rays of fading sunshine, stretched out on a canvas beach chair. Beyond the pristine white sand beneath his chair, was a crescent shaped cove of clear, azure water, partially shaded by a stand of casuarina and sea-grape trees. Rockley Beach in southern Barbados was blessedly deserted that day. His snorkeling equipment was scattered on a towel nearby and Justin waded out of the surf to drip cooling water onto Brian's nut-brown skin.

A week on the island had darkened even Justin's fair skin, and turned his hair a gleaming shade of platinum. It contrasted well with his candy-red Speedo. Brian squinted up at his lover as he rubbed the drops of water into his warm skin. Brian's suit was a brief Aussie Bum that was the same lapis color as the ocean. They'd experimented with nude sunbathing but soon found out the disadvantages of burning tender places seldom touched by the sun.

"I think it's time for a drink," Brian observed. "Sun's setting."

They always found logical reasons to share a cocktail. Justin rubbed a towel across his damp body and then said, "This is our last day here."

"Don't remind me."

"Brian, it means it's time for the toast."

Brian met his eyes. "Yeah, I guess so."

"We agreed it would be the last day, at sunset," Justin looked past the trees to the little house overlooking the beach. It wasn't fancy, this place they rented, just a chattel house with white clapboard siding and a large verandah. "I'll get Shea and the champagne."

"You need help?"

"I can do it."

Brian forced himself to get up, feeling the residual warmth of the fine sand ooze between his bare toes. This was the life. The horizon was striped with bands of peach and mauve and sherbet orange. He had never seen such spectacular sunsets. Or maybe he just never bothered to look. Why couldn't they stay here forever? The sun, the sea, the good love of the one man who mattered? Still, part of him worried about his fledgling business. He knew Cyn and Mark would keep things moving, but he missed the excitement. He didn't miss the fact the remainder of the loft was currently being converted into office space. He and Justin had purchased another loft two floors up, which they were making their own oasis away from everyone. The money was good enough at the agency to make it possible, but added to that was Brian's sizeable cash settlement from his former agency.

"We're here," Justin brought Brian out of his reverie. Brian opened the champagne while Justin retrieved the crystal flutes from the basket he brought down with him.

"Well," Brian said as he filled the flutes with the bubbly amber liquid. "Here we are, just as we promised Shea, on a sandy beach at sunset about to drink a toast. I'm going to get very Irish on you, so forgive me. I know a man named Shea Hennessey can't fight me too much on that score," he raised his glass. "This is for you, Shea. ‘May God grant you always, a sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you and a sheltering angel so no one can harm you.' You've had enough harm in your life, Shea. Enough pain. You were cheated out of knowing the joys of a true love or your child's hand in yours, or even the peace of mind that comes from a loving family. But that's all behind you now. The pain is over. There's only freedom where you've gone. You'll never be forgotten, not by either of us. ‘May the everlasting love we give you forever warm your soul'. Slainte!"

He faced the small silver urn Justin had placed in the beach chair as he raised his glass in a toast. Justin joined him in that toast and then sighed. "I learned an Irish toast too, Brian. For Shea. ‘May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now and keep you evermore. Slainte!"

They downed their champagne and Brian looked hard at his lover. "It's time."

Justin put down his glass and picked up the urn. He carried it in the crook of one arm and held Brian's hand with his free fingers as they waded into the surf together. They kissed and then Justin opened the urn. He tipped it down over the water, watching the gray ash pour into the sea, swept away by the wind.

"May you rate a mansion in heaven," Brian said as the last remains of Shea Hennessey were borne away by the sea.

"Now he's really free," Justin whispered, throwing the urn as far as he could, watching it sink beneath the surface. He walked into Brian's open arms and they held onto each other, finding comfort in that silent embrace.

Jeffrey had been in prison for six months.

Brian was in a pitch as a soft snowfall blanketed the skyline of Manhattan outside the midtown offices of Boston International. His cell phone summoned him, and he saw caller ID announced Justin's number with the added on numerals "911".

"Karen, can you excuse me for just a moment?"

"Of course, Brian," Jeffrey's mother, the Chairman, responded.

He took the call in the hallway, and then came back in and announced. "I'm about to become a father. Again. So, where were we?"

Karen Walker glared at him. "Where were we? We were getting you out of here and on your way to be with the mother of your child!"

Brian smiled. "She's just gone to the hospital. She'll be in labor a while. Mick's with her and Justin's on his way over there."

The others in the room remained silent. They had no idea the complicated arrangements that made up Brian Kinney's life. They knew he was gay, the publicity surrounding their boss's son escaped no one, and so they also knew he had a partner. Most didn't know anything about a woman in his life or a child on the way, and most couldn't reconcile the two. Karen Walker closed her briefcase.

"I'll give you a ride to the hospital. I should really leave before this snow closes the airports. I want to get back to Boston. My granddaughter is in a little production at her pre-school later this afternoon."

Brian gave up, and accepted the ride in Karen's limo. On the way to the hospital, she glanced at his handsome profile. "Are you nervous?"

He shrugged. "I was just thinking, I met Justin on the night Gus was born. How fateful is that? Two life-altering events in one night. Now I'm about to have a daughter enter my life. I don't know the first thing about being a decent father with a son, but with a daughter? I'm completely lost."

"That's simply not true, Brian. And she'll add a dimension to your life that's missing now. You're very lucky."

He glanced over at her. "Have you heard from Jeffrey?"

"Yes, and I think his anger is finally starting to fade enough that he's beginning to understand what he did and why he's being punished. That's all I ever wanted. He's agreed to counseling, which he desperately needs. He's also agreed to allow Hannah's mother to raise her. That, too, is the right decision. And Susan, my daughter, told me yesterday she's become engaged."

"Hey! Congratulations! Do we like him?"

"We do. He's a vet, and by that I don't mean a veteran of the wars. She met him when he treated her dog for a kidney infection. He's a widower, with a young son, and he seems very devoted to Susan and Hannah. I'm thrilled for them both."

"Then I'm thrilled for you, Karen. Give Hannah my love."

"I will."

The car stopped at the entrance to the hospital and Brian waved goodbye to Karen Walker as he got out and asked at the information desk where he would find maternity. He saw Justin before he saw anyone else, and he greeted him with a hug. "How is she?"

"Kind of mad, I think. I mean she sounds mad. She's had some less than nice things to say about you," he said with a grin. "They told us the labor is going very fast, so you won't have long to wait. Mick's with her. They're in that room. I'm waiting out here. The whole thing makes me kind of nervous."

"Chicken shit," Brian responded with a laugh and went into the room he indicated. The hospital had decorated it in cheerful colors. It was called a "birthing" room because both labor and birth were completed here. Only in the event of an emergency would she be moved to an operating theater. Lindsay looked strained and sweaty, her pink floral hospital gown matching her rosy complexion as the effort heightened her color. Mick was seated beside her, coaching her on her breathing.

"You bastard," Lindsay said to Brian as he leaned over to kiss her damp brow. "You got me into this!"

He laughed. "I don't recall your kicking and screaming about it."

"I'm screaming now!"

"Where's Gus?"

"Gail is picking him up from pre-school later," Mick responded. "He's fine."

Brian sat down on the other side of Lindsay and winced as a labor pain wracked her. "How long?" He asked.

"Not long, they say. She's dilated and the baby is crowning," Mick answered him.

"Ick."

"Shut UP, you faggot!" Lindsay hissed at him and he laughed as the nurse came in and glanced nervously at the trio. She checked Lindsay's progress, then told them she was getting the doctor, because birth was imminent.

"You may want to cover up that Armani with a gown," Mick suggested. "Birthing babies is messy."

"Thanks, Prissy, but I ain't birthing no babies. I'm just watching. Is she going to spew across the room like the Exorcist or something? And just for the record, it's Prada."

Lindsay laughed and squeezed his hand. "Only you could make me laugh when I'm in excruciating, unrelenting pain! OWW! Where is that fucking doctor?"

"Right here," the doctor entered the room, exchanged a quick introduction with Brian and then assumed the position, aided by a nurse. The baby's portable bed was nearby, awaiting its new occupant. Brian loosened his tie, steeling himself for the more gruesome aspects of watching his child being born.

Justin had dozed in a chair in the waiting area, when Mick touched his shoulder. He jumped up, reading in her face that all was well. "Can I see her?"

"Sure, honey. Come on."

He walked with her to the room, recalling the first night he met Brian, Gus's entrance into the world, a hospital room full of lesbians. All evidence of the birth had been cleared away except for a tiny bundle in a pink flannel blanket cradled in Brian's arms while Lindsay beamed at them.

"Come meet Gus's little sister," she said to him.

Brian looked up at his lover, his face registering his amazement over this tiny creature he was holding. She was eight pounds of pink skin and a brush of platinum hair. She slept peacefully in her father's arms and when Justin touched her cheek, she didn't even flinch. "She's beautiful," he said reverently. "What did you name her?"

"Shayne," Lindsay responded with a smile. "We couldn't agree on Brianna, and no offense, but I don't like Justine, so Shayne was a kiss to our little lost friend."

"Oh, you have to tell his mother that, she'll be so pleased," Justin kissed Lindsay's cheek, then leaned over to touch his lips to Brian's. Brian handed the baby back to her mother and said,

"She'll want to eat soon and I lack the tits for it. Instead, I'll go feed this baby," he looped an arm over Justin's shoulders.

"Did you call the list?" Lindsay asked Justin as someone delivered a huge arrangement of flowers from Brian and Justin.

"I either talked to them all or left messages, so you'll be getting calls as soon as they let them through."

"Thanks honey, and tell Leo..."

"Lindsay, it's all under control. Leo assures me your gallery is in good hands until you return."

"Okay."

"You two go eat," Mick said, holding tightly to Lindsay's hand. "We have this under control, too."

Brian paused, kissed Lindsay, touched his daughter's pale hair, then kissed Mick. "Love you guys."

Lindsay beamed at him. "That's a big one for Brian Kinney to say."

He winked at her, and walked out with Justin, holding tightly to his hand.

"She's a beautiful baby," Justin said as they entered the elevator.

"Yeah, she looks like you with that blond hair."

"Or more likely her mother," he smirked as Brian laughed.

"More likely. Come here." He pulled him into his arms, kissing him until the doors opened on the ground floor. The startled people waiting to get into the car stared at the couple and someone muttered,

"Fags."

Brian laughed, kissed Justin again and said to no one in particular, "Yep, we're fags. And we're here to stay, America!"

"Faggots!" Justin shouted with a mischievous grin, raising his fist in the air. He then held onto Brian's hand as they left the hospital and walked out into the snowfall, together.

The End

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