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23 March 2010 @ 08:37 pm
Valediction - Part 4b  
Title: Valediction  (Part 4b of 6) 
Author:
q_dicted
Rating:
R Language, violence
Warnings:
Angst. Oh, and then? More angst.  Major Character Death
Disclaimer:
I own nothing except my thoughts, and even then sometimes, I rent.
Complete: Yes
General Summary: Canon thru 509(ish), right down to some of the scenes/dialogue directly from the show. Some just happen in a slightly different time line. Because what if Brian realized what he was missing before the bombing? What if he changed just one thing, and that changed everything - the butterfly effect gone mad.

Author's note about the WIP:
  I really only intended to write a short epilogue to this story and post it right after the the end of Part 3 (ostensibly, the end of the story) but somehow it morphed into a part 4, and soon, part 5. There will be at least one more after that. I know - Oy! I blame Justin. I promise that the story will be finished - but meantime, parts 1-3 can be read as a stand alone. ~ q_dicted

Feedback is appreciated!



Part 4a is here



Valediction ~ Part 4b

Daphne

Daphne’s first memory of Justin Taylor was of a slight, blond-headed boy, barely as tall as she was, with bright blue eyes and a wide, toothy smile. Of course his smile was a little crooked that day, thanks to the fat lip he boasted – a battle scar he was proud to have earned defending the new girl from the schoolyard bullies. They fell a little bit in love that day and though it would take a few more years to figure out just what kind of love it was, a lifelong friendship was born. They had always been there for each other and she had seen him through some of the worst days of his life. The pain of his father’s rejection; the awful days after the bashing when he was traumatized not just by the things he could remember, but by what he couldn’t; his brush with crazy when he’d shaved his head and declared himself a vigilante. But nothing prepared her for the broken man she found huddled up on the sidewalk, barely able to make it to her car under his own power. He was pale and shivering and looked like death warmed over and her first instinct was to take him back to the hospital – she might only be in her junior year of pre-med, but she knew what shock looked like and he scared the shit out of her. But just the mention of it had him threatening to get out of the car, so she buckled him in, cranked up the heat and headed for her apartment.

She still couldn’t wrap her mind around it. She’d been studying all night, buried in books and papers and oblivious to the world around her. So when his friend Emmett called, frantic to find him, she was clueless. Why would Justin be with her? He was on his way to Australia. God, he’d been so happy when he called her that afternoon and now... a bomb? A fucking bomb? Jennifer was in the hospital and Brian... Jesus, Brian Kinney, dead? Oh god, Justin... Justin was missing and he wasn’t answering his phone. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing and she turned on the tv even as she promised Emmett she would call if she heard from him. She hung up and dialed Justin’s cell as she flipped through channels – it was too late for local news but maybe it was a big enough story to make one of the 24 hour news networks. It came on while she was cursing his ‘voice mailbox full’ message. She set the phone down and turned up the volume and watched in disbelief as the anchor introduced the story.

This was the scene earlier tonight outside Babylon, a popular dance club in the heart of Pittsburgh’s gay district where a fundraiser was underway to help raise support for Stop Prop 14, a grass-roots initiative to fight anti-gay legislation in Pennsylvania. Local reporter Sam Rollins joins us now. The young black reporter stood bathed in flashing red and blue lights and speculated about bombs and Prop 14 and acts of domestic terrorism. No one had yet claimed responsibility but there were already small groups of people with hate-filled signs gathered at the edges of the crowd of onlookers. A buzz rippled through them when Drew Boyd appeared and the reporter walked along side him as the football hero scanned the crowd, obviously looking for someone.

“Drew Boyd, having just come out of the closet, how do you feel about what’s happening here? Are you concerned about losing your fans now that you’re gay?” A more discerning person might have recognized the look on the quarterback’s face for what it was and backed off, but the reporter shoved the mic in the big man’s face. Drew showed amazing self-restraint in only grabbing the clod by the jacket when what he really wanted to do was grab him by the throat.

“Right now I’m more concerned about people losing their lives.” Drew bit the words off and released the reporter with a little shove. He might not have stopped there, but then he spotted the man he’d been looking for and walked away without another thought for the reporter or the cameras tracking him. “Emmett!”

The reporter shook off the encounter and faced the camera again, shifting the story to the scores of injured, the official death toll now at nine and expected to rise. And rumored to be among them, club owner and prominent member of Pittsburgh’s gay community, Brian Kinney, whose condition was as yet unconfirmed. The footage switched to a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. Surrounded by emergency personnel, wrapped in blankets, and with his face obscured by the oxygen mask there was no way to identify the victim, but Daphne didn’t need a name. The pale blond climbing into the ambulance behind the stretcher said it all. The anchor appeared again, thanking Sam for his contribution and then added her own coda to the story. It had been confirmed just moments earlier that the tenth victim of what they were already calling a hate-crime in Pittsburgh was indeed entrepreneur Brian Kinney. There were, as yet, no suspects in the case.

Daphne had clicked off the television and sat in stunned silence, trying to absorb what she’d seen. Babylon in ruins. Brian Kinney, dead. The idea of it was so abhorrent she just couldn’t process it - and Justin... dear God, Justin. She said a small prayer of thanks that he was alive – Emmett said he wasn’t there, wasn’t hurt. She felt the sting of bitter tears at that – as if there were any possible way to hurt Justin more deeply than this. When her phone rang she nearly cried with relief until she heard his voice, and relief quickly changed to fear. It took everything just to get his location out of him before he hung up again, and she didn’t take another easy breath until she found him and had him safely in her car. Even then she drove with one eye on the road and one on him, huddled against the door and staring vacantly out the window as they made the short trip back to her apartment.

Justin seemed to be operating on instinct more than anything else as he followed her up the stairs. She tried not to react to his appearance but it broke her heart just to look at him. The familiar blue eyes were clouded with pain and though he looked right at her, they were unfocused and distant and Daphne hoped she hadn’t made a mistake bringing him here instead of the hospital. His clothes were covered with soot and dust; swaths of pale white skin, wiped clean with tears, cut through the dark smudges on his face and made his pallor all the more striking. He let her undo his jacket and slip it off his trembling shoulders and she pulled him into an impulsive hug before taking him by the arm again.

“Come on,” she whispered the words over the knot in her throat. Daphne toed off her shoes and waited while he did the same, then led him to the sofa. She had an old quilt folded across the back of it and she took it down and wrapped it around him, then sat down beside him. She reached out and wiped a smudge of soot from his forehead with her thumb. He was still shaking – she hoped it was only from the cold. “Do you want to have a shower?” He shook his head. “Something to eat? I had pizza earlier, there’s some left over...” But he refused that as well, his eyes darting around the room as though searching for something.

“I.. I could use a drink,” he said finally. Daphne chewed her lip, debating whether alcohol was wise but he stuck out a hand and squeezed her arm. “I’m all right, Daph.” His puny voice belied the words, but she felt like he needed to believe it, so she nodded and got up and went to the cupboard below the sink. Daphne rarely drank anything stronger than beer, but thankfully her last roommate had left a nearly-full bottle of Remy Martin behind when she moved out. She brought that and two glasses back to the sofa and poured them each an inch of the cognac. Justin took his and downed it in one swallow with barely a blink. She raised her eyebrows when he held the glass back out to her, but he seemed to relax some, so she poured him another. He sat back with it, pulling the quilt closer around himself and took a smaller sip of the amber liquid. Daphne did the same and they sat in silence while she searched fruitlessly for words to tell him how sorry she was.

Justin emptied his glass again and set it down with a sigh. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth and then stared at it for a moment, seeming to realize at last how grimy he was. “Maybe I should clean up,” he said softly, looking down at his clothes before shrugging off the blanket. He wobbled slightly as he stood and Daphne followed him into the bathroom. She turned the hot water on to warm up and he didn’t resist her help as she pulled his tee-shirt up and over his head. She grabbed him a towel and facecloth from the basket beside the tub and set them on the small vanity for him.

“Thanks, Daph.” He gave her a weak imitation of a smile that broke her heart a little more as he stepped up to the sink. She was reluctant to leave him alone, but she slipped out of the room to find him something clean to wear while he washed. She was pulling an old, oversize sweatshirt out of her closet when she heard it. A low, keening cry that sounded like a wounded animal echoed through the small apartment.

She ran back to the bathroom to find him standing with tears running down his face, his horrified gaze fixed on his hands as the water flowed over them and swirled a dirty, rusty red in the sink. It took her a heartbeat or two to realize what it was before her arms were around him and he was clinging to her, moaning the words against her neck as though each one was ripping out his heart. “Oh god, Daph, he’s gone. Brian is gone...” She couldn’t do anything but hold him as he went down in a heap on the bathroom floor. She pulled him close and rocked him as grief wracked his thin frame and he wept in her arms until he had nothing left but shallow hitching breaths that felt like hiccups against her chest. She managed to get him back to the sofa and wrapped in the quilt again. She sat beside him and coaxed him into laying down, cradling his head in her lap. It was a long time later that he finally looked up at her with infinitely weary eyes– eyes full of the question that could never really be answered. A few simple words that broke her heart with their futility. “Why? Why Brian?” He closed his eyes with a long, shaky breath, not really expecting an answer.

And she had none – nothing she could say that would ease his pain beyond a whispered, “I don’t know, baby.” She smoothed his hair and stroked his forehead, murmuring soothing sounds until he fell into an exhausted, uneasy sleep.

It was only then she allowed herself a few deep, calming breaths of her own and tried to grasp the surreal turn their lives had taken in just a few hours. It just didn’t seem possible. She had dealt with her share of prejudice over the years, and God knew she’d seen first-hand what could happen when fear and hatred turned violent. But this... this was beyond comprehension. Jesus. A bomb?? And Brian... she felt an overwhelming sadness as the fact that Brian was dead began to sink in. She’d never met anybody like him – rich, gorgeous, smart, totally irreverent, and maybe the only person who loved Justin more than she did. She was one of the few people who really understood that. One of the few who’d been allowed to see them just be Brian and Justin, eating popcorn and smoking weed, arguing over whether it would be Yellow Submarine or Rebel Without a Cause again for the billionth time and neither one really complaining when she’d settle it by putting on Dirty Dancing. She smiled at that - at least all three of them agreed that Patrick Swayze was hot. Daphne shared Brian’s distaste for marriage, but that didn’t stop her from being a hopeless romantic when it came to love – and she was a true believer in the saga of Brian and Justin. They’d endured the bashing, the fiddler, the cancer, and even though Justin had left him again, she never believed for a minute that their story was over. Brian Kinney was the love of Justin Taylor’s life – that didn’t stop being true just because they weren’t together. Their destinies were entwined and it was only a matter of time before they stopped fighting it. So when he’d called earlier and sheepishly told her about Sydney, her ‘I told you so’ launched them both into giddy giggles...

And now Brian was gone. Not just gone, but taken from him in the most unimaginably cruel way. The thought of what this would do to her best friend finally brought the tears. Justin had always been fearless, right from that first day on the playground through the crucible of being out and proud at a place like St. James Academy. His strength was innate, but being with Brian these past five years had helped make him... more. Confident where he’d been cocky, not just fearless, but brave. Not every lesson he’d learned at Brian’s hands was noble or even good, but he had shown him what he could be. Given him the courage of his convictions, the confidence to believe in his own strength and the knowledge that if he did, then the rest of the world could go get fucked. For better or worse, Brian had helped shape the man that Justin had become.

Like Brian and Michael, she and Justin had been friends for more than half their lives, and for her he was the cliché – the strongest person she’d ever known. She looked down at him, his forehead still creased with unhappiness even in sleep, and wondered if that person still existed.

*~*~

A soft knock on the door woke Daphne from a light sleep just after dawn. She stood up slowly, careful not to disturb Justin, mercifully still asleep after a long and restless night. The first time he woke up screaming Brian’s name she’d been afraid she really was going to have to call someone. It took her a full minute to get him calmed down to where he could hear her and even then he didn’t seem to know where he was. When he finally did, the grief seemed to hit him anew and he cried himself to sleep again. The second time was nearly as bad and afterwards Daphne went into the bathroom and came back with a glass of water and a pill. She was well aware of the perils of taking someone else’s prescriptions, but weighed against the sight of him sitting on the edge of her bed with his head in his hands, afraid to close his eyes, the choice was easy. At least she knew he wasn’t allergic to Xanax because he’d taken it for a while after the bashing. She’d had her own troubles with sleeping and anxiety after her freshman year and still had a few left over. He didn’t argue with her, just swallowed it and then curled up in her arms, still weeping quietly. When his body finally relaxed and his breathing changed to the deeper, more even pattern of real sleep, she eased herself off the bed and covered him up, then went back into the living room and had a good, long cry of her own.

It was nearly three a.m. when she noticed the phone number she’d scribbled down earlier and realized she hadn’t called Emmett back. She grabbed the phone and dialed without thinking about the time and somehow she wasn’t surprised when he picked it up on the first ring. She told him Justin was with her – they both knew that ‘he’s okay’ was far from the truth, but she could hear voices in the background making relieved noises when Emmett relayed her message to the rest of them. He told her that Jennifer had been discharged and was at home, waiting for word. She hung up and called her and they talked for a while. Daphne didn’t tell her about the nightmare – she had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last one and Jennifer had been through enough for one night. Jennifer thanked her for being such a good friend to him and they both cried a little, then Daphne hung up and went back to Justin and laid down beside him. She slept fitfully, waking every time he stirred or murmured in his sleep. It seemed like she’d just closed her eyes when the knocking woke her a few hours later.

*~*~*

Melanie

Daphne padded to the door and looked through the peephole before she opened it. It took her a moment to realize who the woman was that stood there. She’d only actually met the women she would forever think of as ‘Brian’s Lesbians’ a few times over the years – and then it was Lindsay that she knew best, since she was more involved with Justin’s art. She was still rubbing her eyes sleepily when she opened it, not entirely sure she was fully awake.

“Melanie?” Daphne glanced at the clock before looking back at the woman who stood in her doorway with a carry-out tray from Starbucks in one hand and a paper bag full of... something in the other. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m sorry, I know it’s early, but can I come in?” Daphne stood aside and let her pass. She followed her into the living room and had to cover her mouth to stifle a huge yawn as she waited for Melanie to tell her why she was there. She looked longingly at the cups she carried.

“Is that coffee?” she asked hopefully. Melanie nodded and held the tray out to her. She took one and then Melanie handed her the bag, which she was surprised to find was warm and smelled heavenly. Daphne raised an eyebrow at her.

“I stopped at the bakery...” Melanie shrugged and laughed a little self-consciously, “Hey, I’m Jewish – it’s what we do.”

Daphne motioned her to the sofa and set the bag of sweet rolls down on the small coffee table while Melanie undid her coat and unwound the scarf from her neck before she sat. Never one to beat around the bush, Melanie came right to the point.

“Justin is here, right?” Without waiting for Daphne to answer, she continued, “I really need to speak with him.”

Daphne took a sip of the steaming hot coffee and looked over the rim at the older woman. She didn’t know Melanie very well but her... complex relationship with Brian was legendary. Of all their friends she was the last one that Daphne had expected to show up. One thing was certain – there was no way she was letting anybody near Justin today who might upset him more than he already was. “He’s sleeping, he had...” she hesitated, unwilling to share Justin’s pain without his knowledge. “He’s sleeping.”

Melanie sighed inwardly - her brazen nature made her a great lawyer but it didn’t always make her the easiest friend. Her inherent ability to read people generally served her well though, and while Daphne’s voice was friendly enough, her body language communicated its warning loud and clear. She leaned forward and looked the young woman directly in the eyes. “I love him too, Daphne, I’d never do anything to hurt Justin. I just need to talk to him.” She spoke quietly and from the heart, but still sensed Daphne’s reluctance. “It was his mom who told me where you live.”

Daphne believed her, but she still didn’t want to wake him – this day would be long enough as it was. She said as much, but then the decision was taken out of her hands.

“It’s okay Daph, I’m awake.” Both heads turned to find Justin leaning against the bedroom doorway. “Hey Mel.”

Melanie got up and went to him, hugging him tightly before leaning back and taking a good look at him. He had on Daphne’s oversize Pitt hoodie and had pulled on his dusty jeans. His face was clean now but the faint purplish smudges beneath his red-rimmed eyes remained. Looking into them she had a brief flash of déjà-vu – he wore the same damaged expression as the woman she’d left a half-hour ago, crying in Emmett’s arms. The fleeting image brought a lump to her throat and she swallowed hard. “I’m so sorry, Justin.”

He just nodded, the already too familiar words were like a knife in his heart; coming from Melanie they cut just a little deeper because he wasn’t entirely sure they were true. Five years of watching her and Brian spar over Lindsay, over Gus, shit, over pretty much every issue that ever came up between them didn’t exactly inspire him to believe her regret was genuine. He was too tired to disguise his cynicism and clearly Mel saw it.

“I am sorry, Justin.” Her voice was husky and she cleared throat impatiently and went on, “I know you think that’s bullshit, but I am.”

She met Justin’s eyes squarely and he immediately felt ashamed. Melanie and Brian’s tumultuous relationship notwithstanding, she had always been a friend to him and he didn’t doubt her sincerity in that. He reached out and squeezed her arm. “I know, Mel.” He pulled her into a quick embrace and murmured against her ear. “Me too.”

He followed her back to the couch and took the cup of coffee that Daphne handed him as they sat down. He pried the lid off and took a sip then held it back out to her with a grimace. Daphne rolled her eyes at him and took two packets of sugar out of the tray and emptied them into his cup. Justin just held the cup there, lifting his eyebrows at her. She sighed dramatically, but tore open two more, dumped them into the coffee and dropped a stir-stick in with it. He stirred it and took another tentative sip, and sat back with it this time, apparently satisfied. She rearranged herself so that she was sitting crossed legged beside him and pretended not to notice the slight tremor in his hand as he sipped at the hot drink. It wasn’t lost on Melanie that the girl never took her eyes off him for a second and she watched the silent exchange between the two friends with admiration; considering why she was here, she was infinitely glad that he had someone like Daphne in his life.

Daphne took one of the cinnamon rolls from the bag on the table and offered it to Justin. It looked delicious, dripping with warm, sugary sweet icing - they were one of his favorite things, but just the thought of eating made Justin’s stomach clench. He shook his head and took another mouthful of coffee, but even that seemed to stick in his throat all of a sudden. He blanched and the cup trembled in his hand as he reached to put it on the table. Daphne grabbed it before it could spill and set it down for him, but didn’t let go of his hand. Justin breathed a shaky sigh and leaned back against the cushions, scrubbing his free hand over his face. “Fuck.”

Melanie eyed the third cup of coffee that remained in the tray and reached for it. She busied herself with it, more to give Justin a chance to regroup than any desire for more caffeine. As she stirred in the cream and sugar she considered her young friend and how best to broach the reason she was here. Justin’s hold on his emotions was tenuous at best and whether she intended to or not, she knew what she had to tell him would only add to that. Still, the direct approach had always been her preferred method of dealing with things and she believed Justin felt the same. She took a calming breath and turned to him, only to find the troubled blue eyes fixed on her again.

“Does Lindsay know?” The unexpected question momentarily threw her and she only nodded. His voice faltered and he had to swallow the knot in his throat to ask the next, far more painful one. “What about Gus?”

Mel’s careful composure slipped a little and she had to look away to answer. “No, we haven’t told him yet. He was still sleeping when I left.” Carl had called them with the news just before midnight. Emmett, Ben and Michael had shown up not long after. She looked at Daphne. “Emmett was at our house when you called.”

“Your house?” Justin cocked his head at her, “I thought you and Corinne...”

Melanie hunched her shoulders. “Corinne is... history. Lindsay and I...” Her mouth curved with the hint of a smile as she recalled the vicious fight that had led to their rather violent reunion. “We decided to go to the benefit together.” Her smile faded and her eyes clouded over. “We were there but... the sitter was late. We.. I... I forgot my cellphone in the car. I left Lindz at the entrance with Dusty...” Jesus, she would never forget that feeling – the explosion came just as she was locking the car up again, so loud it nearly knocked her off her feet – powerful enough to set the car alarm off. It took a few seconds for the world to come back into focus and when it did she had only one clear thought – Lindsay! ‘You go on in, I’ll find you.’ She ran with her last words to her wife ringing in her ears. “I was so fucking scared.” The few minutes it took to find Lindsay were the longest of her life, and when she did, she decided then and there she was never letting her go again. “I just thank God she decided to wait for me - she never made it inside. Dusty was right there at the bar when it happened... she never had a chance...”

Justin made a small sound in his throat that brought Melanie back to the room and she realized what she was saying. He pulled his legs up and wrapped his arms around his knees as though fighting to keep himself together.

“Oh shit, Justin...” A tear spilled over at last and ran down her cheek as she watched Justin squeeze his eyes closed and the enormity of what he was going through finally struck home: her nightmare had only lasted as long as it took her to run back from the car; he was still living his, and would be for a long, long time. He seemed almost to shrink in on himself, pulling his knees up closer still and dropping his head until it rested against his folded arms. Daphne rubbed his back and felt his shoulders rise and fall under her hand with each deep, shuddering breath he took as he struggled for control. She glared at Melanie and shook her head in silent rebuke. Melanie mouthed an apology to the younger woman and she, too, put a hand on Justin’s quaking shoulder, cursing herself for her thoughtlessness. She wanted to sink into the floorboards and briefly considered leaving, but she knew that wasn’t an option. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking... shhiit! I didn’t mean to...” She was in danger of babbling when the sound of Justin’s voice stopped her.

“He wasn’t supposed to be there.” He spoke without raising his head and they had to strain to hear him. Daphne leaned in.

“What?”

His eyes glinted with unshed tears as he looked up at his friend and then at Melanie. “He wasn’t supposed to be there. Brian wasn’t fucking supposed to be there.” His voice was thick with emotion - a hint of anger beneath the crushing sadness, but mostly a lingering disbelief that this could really have happened. “He was going to Australia. We were...” his voice trailed off and he shrugged.

“I know,” Melanie nodded.

“No, you don’t,” Justin snapped, shaking his head. “You don’t understand... we were supposed to go together. He asked me to go with him. He wanted us to...” His voice broke and he pinched the bridge of his nose and bit at his lips. He still couldn’t believe it himself – how could he explain it to anyone else. “Ahh fuck...”

“I do know, Justin.” Melanie repeated. She took hold of his hand and waited until he looked at her again. “That’s why I’m here.”

The young blond’s eyebrows knit together as the implications of that sank in. She couldn’t really blame him for the look of utter confusion on his face – it was pretty fucking bizarre that she, of all people, was the one he had come to after his diagnosis. She’d sat there literally speechless as Brian fucking Kinney sat across the desk from her and calmly told her he had cancer and needed to get ‘a few things taken care of.’ When he’d told her what those things were, all she could think of to say was why?

‘Why?’

Brian pulled his lips into his teeth and eyed her stonily. ‘I have cancer. I’m going in for surgery – did I not just say that?’

‘Why me, smartass.' That he was sick was incredible enough – him asking her to be his power of attorney was a whole other level of crazy.

‘You’re my lawyer aren’t you? As my dear old Dad always said, ‘better the devil you know, Sonnyboy.’ Besides, Michael couldn’t do it. Lindsay couldn’t do it.’ His lips curved into a cold smile. ‘I certainly don’t want my mother or my cunt of a sister anywhere near me.’

She nodded understanding at that, but still... and then she asked the obvious. ‘What about Justin?’

He’d gone very still, the smile frozen in place, but the hazel eyes flashed – their perpetual affect of casual indifference chased away by something she couldn’t quite name. Something terrible. ‘No, not Justin.’ He said the words almost to himself and she’d watched, fascinated as his carefully maintained facade faltered and for just a few seconds she felt as though she’d seen the real Brian Kinney – vulnerable and scared. Almost... human. Then he’d shaken it off and the veneer of apathy slipped back into place. He stuck his tongue in his cheek and shrugged. ‘The boy is going places. Hollywood beckons, you know.’ And then he’d arched that fucking eyebrow of his at her and leaned across the desk. ‘Besides,’ he purred, ‘you’re a heartless shit. You could pull the plug and you wouldn’t cry, and you’d know when it’s time to go.’ He’d smirked then, her self-conscious, somewhat chagrined laugh confirmation that she knew exactly where those words had come from.

‘Asshole,’ she’d hissed at him. Somehow the baleful gaze he’d leveled at her made her feel better. Brian the supercilious prick she could deal with; Brian the sick, worried cancer patient who needed a friend he could trust scared the shit out of her. There were times when she’d truly despised the man but she was woman enough to acknowledge that most of her reasons for hating him were rooted in jealousy and fear of losing Lindsay. It took a long time for her to realize that she was blaming the wrong party in that particular equation. Despite her treatment of him over those first couple years, Brian had been the one to help her and Lindsay reconcile – and he did it by giving her the most precious gift anyone ever could. They would never be friends but they did share a mutual, if grudging respect for each other and hers had only deepened in the years since. So maybe it wasn’t so crazy that he would ask something so important of her - the man was truly an enigma. Still, she wasn’t sure which one of them was more surprised when she agreed.


She’d prepared everything he needed: a will, a trust for Gus, all the necessary paperwork in case... Shit. He’d even gone as far as filing an advanced medical directive with the hospital, which was pretty fucking amazing for someone who’d freaked out at the mere idea of an insurance policy just a few years prior. Thank god, in the end none of it had been necessary because for all their differences, the thought of Brian reaching the point where she would have to make that kind of a decision was far more disturbing than she ever would have imagined. Truth be told, although she would never admit it to anyone, she wasn’t sure she could have done it. She wasn’t fucking sure at all. And then a few weeks ago, he’d shown up at her office again, and this time what he’d asked for surprised her even more.

Melanie gave Justin’s hand a squeeze.

“You?” he breathed, comprehension dawning in the wary blue eyes. Daphne looked back and forth between the two of them, clearly at a loss, and the older woman smiled sympathetically.

“I was... I am Brian’s lawyer. I...” she hesitated, glancing at the young woman sitting by Justin’s side. He let go of her hand and took Daphne’s instead.

“It’s all right,” he smiled weakly at his best friend before turning back to Melanie, “she’s family.”

Mel shrugged slightly. “I know what Brian wanted, Justin,” she said quietly. “I know about the house.” She let him absorb that for a moment, then went on, “And I know about the papers he had drawn up, because I wrote them.” His eyes welled and she could see his fingers tighten around Daphne’s hand as his chin dropped to his chest. “Justin...” She reached out and cupped his cheek. “Honey, Brian loved you, I hope you know that.” He looked up at her and nodded - didn’t try to stop the tears that spilled over or wipe them away - just nodded. “The thing is, the hospital needs to know...” He flinched at the mention of the hospital and his shoulders sagged with the weight of his grief, but he held her gaze. She quickly explained that the hospital needed instructions and then added, “Brian made his wishes clear, Justin. Everything will be taken care of, but they still need someone with authority to... release him. They called me because I’m still the one listed on their records.”

Mel nibbled at her lip for a second, not eager to spell out what would probably have been obvious to him in other circumstances. She blew out an uneasy breath and continued. “I don’t have that authority now, Justin. You do.” His lips parted at that, but no words came out – he just stared at her. A myriad of emotions swirled in the tormented blue eyes – some raw and unmistakable, some too deep, too painful to decipher. She wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeing, but she was absolutely sure it wasn’t her. Wherever he was, he looked all of fifteen years old sitting there and for a brief moment Melanie felt the old resentment flare. Fucking Brian - he’s just a kid, he can’t handle this. “It’s okay if you don’t want to. I’ll...”

“No.” Justin spoke the word without emotion, still caught up in his memory.

“It’s okay, I can take care of..”

“No,” Justin interrupted her again. He combed his fingers back through his hair and shook his head as if to clear it. He seemed to gather himself and sat up properly, then he looked at Melanie again, his eyes determined and focused. “I’ll do it.”

Despite her misgivings, she smiled inwardly. The kid had an inner strength that put most of the so-called adults in his life to shame. The rueful smile reached her lips as she realized another truth – Brian knew that all along.

*~*~*

Part 5

 
 
 
sjmpets: pic#86156167sjmpets on March 24th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
my heart is breaking for him. shouldn't ever have to go through that.
q_dictedq_dicted on March 24th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Mine too :-( ((((Justin))))
marny1marny1 on March 24th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
waiting patiently for the next chapter ... HURRY !! .. sorry .. * blushes *
q_dictedq_dicted on March 24th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm just waiting for them to tell me what happened next! *g*

Thanks so much for letting me know you're reading. It means a lot to me!
templeton_matempleton_ma on March 24th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
I have been waiting faithfully for the epilogue. And now I am so glad that you are continuing to write the aftermath. I don't think I have read a story dealing with this situation in this kind of depth before. It is so sad (My eyes welled too) but seeing Justin's strength is amazing. What really struck me is you were able to write the story in such a way that I can feel the huge hole that Brian left, while at the same time, I can also feel his constant presence through Justin. I really look forward to where you are going to take us next.
q_dictedq_dicted on March 24th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, thank you so much. I even wondered if I could still post this in the bjfic comm since Brian isn't 'technically' there any more. But he really is - and he always will be a part of all of them, most especially Justin. He really is stronger than he knows (even if it takes him a while to realize it). I hope I can do justice to your faith in the story. Thank you for your lovely comment. (((hugs)))
ergenieergenie on March 24th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
wow!!!... these 2 chapters are really painful to read.... I can't stop the tears frm spilling dwn..... but no matter how painful it is, i have to say that it's so well written... you really capture the moments and the feelings... gosh!!!.... I can't wait to read more... cheers....
q_dictedq_dicted on March 24th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
Sometimes remembering is the hardest thing to do. (((hugs))) thanks so much for the compliment and taking the time to comment. I'll post more just as soon as Justin tells me what happened next. *g*
Bigdogz09bigdogz09 on March 25th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
This is well written but too disturbing. I've been reading but will stop now. I think the couple have been through too much, so this fic is beyond my limit. But again, well written and I wish you all the best. I just don't have the heart strenght to read more.

All the best.
q_dictedq_dicted on March 25th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking a chance and reading. I know it's a terrible thing for our boys to go through, and I understand if you can't continue.(((hugs)))Thank you for taking the time to let me know.
tv_fan_2008: BJ 510tv_fan_2008 on March 25th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
I must admit that I completely forgot you were going to write an epilogue.

This story completely broke my heart and continues to do so but it is so well written and just a powerful piece of drama that I can't help but want to read more of this. I look forward to the next chapter.
q_dictedq_dicted on March 25th, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment - I can't think of a better one than knowing you still want to read more after having your heart broken.
amaranthink: Brian - profileamaranthink on March 27th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
This is an amazing story. Seriously. And you are a very talented writer. I'm sitting here crying my eyes out and loving every minute of it.

I'm friending you so I don't miss the ending and to make especially sure I don't miss any more of your work.

q_dictedq_dicted on March 27th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Sometimes it does feel good to cry, doesn't it? I friended you back and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.
zack209zack209 on April 11th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)

I loved this story, it seemed so real and beautifully written...I hope that you plan to update really soon because I hate reading stories that are left unfinished!
q_dictedq_dicted on April 11th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Hello! I'm glad you are enjoying the story and I appreciate the comment very much. I am definitely going to finish the story. Actually I originally intended it to end after part 3 (the original posting) or I would not have posted at all until it was complete. But it seems Justin had more story to tell - so now there is a part 4 and at the least a part 5 and epilogue. I hope to have it posted in the next week or two. Stay tuned!
Eva: Gale/Galeeva213 on April 22nd, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
You know, your story is stunning, though I only peeped at it, couse I´m waiting for you to finish it. Please don´t let me suffer too long. I´m in need of a good cry.;)Thanks E.
q_dictedq_dicted on April 22nd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I am writing a little every day and I promise this will be a completed story. Originally, it ended after part three, but it seems there was more story to tell. BUT, if you want to cry (lol, Parts 1-3 can be read as a stand-alone. It will probably be a week or so before I get the last part and epilogue done.
q_dictedq_dicted on December 15th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Psssst. It's done now ;-)
anyusa0030anyusa0030 on April 28th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
the best death fic have ever written
i was just checking to see if you have updated and waiting patiently.am going to friend you so i dont miss when you do update as i told you when you recomemded this fic to me this is what a death fic is supposed to be.
(Anonymous) on August 3rd, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
Wow, this is so sad ... can't stop reading.
pet0511pet0511 on December 15th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
Hi! I was in a good mood so I went to read 4b. You won't believe it but I'm still in good mood. I'll try to put it in some coherent words. First Daphne -she calmed me. Your Daphne was like in the show: she has a way to be just there for Justin when he really needs her. She understands not just him but the love between him and Brian as well. Not like the gang or Debbie who often had a bad way to show their friendships. So here she was and did exactly what was helpful for Justin in this unreal and real moments, both felt at the same time. And Mel, well, I don't know about her feeling really sorry too but she did what Brian wanted her to do and that was a good thing. And reading Justin's reaction let me just say YES, that's the Justin Brian knew and loved. I immediately thought it's the same like Justin going to NYC in the show: some things he just did because of Brian. Same here, and I think that's what will Justin keep going even after loosing Brian: he will go on for Brian, will be strong because he knows that Brian had wanted him to be so. I'm sure Justin will never get over Brian but by this way he'll always stay with Justin and Justin won't feel Brian's dead as a whole loss. Hope you could understand my writing.
But don't get me wrong: of course I had tears coming down and I can't think about Brian as not being here anymore. But the way you told his dead, the circumstances before about the house, the planned going back together for BJ - with all of the things right before the bombing you held on the clock someway, the love between BJ is like frozen for eternity...and this makes your story so bearable even if it is so overwhelming sad. Thanks! Pet
q_dictedq_dicted on December 15th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you found this part a little easier on the psyche! I love Daphne and her relationship with Justin. She's the only one of the gang who really knows him (besides Brian) and not just who they think he is in relation to Brian. I have never really thought Mel 'hated' Brian - to me it was more that they were too much alike to be friends - and each saw the worst in themselves in the other one. I do think that at least by the end of the series (in canon) they had a mutual grudging respect for each other.

I absolutely understand your writing and really appreciate the details of how it makes you feel. Nothing is better as a writer than that! As you'll see, I don't think Justin will ever get over Brian's loss, or forget him, but he will go on and and he'll be happy (eventually) too. Partly because that's what Brian would have expected of him, but also because I think Justin is a strong person in his own right - he never shied away (for long) from dealing with things head on. That's why Brian loved him, after all! I could never have written this if I didn't think that they were on their way to being reconciled before it happened and that both of them knew for certain that the other wanted, needed and loved the other.
urugwaj: walkurugwaj on June 12th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
It is soooo sad and tough but I think it easier to me now go to next part. But my eyes are still wet ;(