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08 May 2010 @ 09:28 pm
Valediction - Part 5b  
Title: Valediction  (Part 5b of 6) 
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 end of Part 3, but somehow it morphed into a part 4, and now, part 5. There will be at least one more after this. 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!


Memories for Valediction



Valediction ~ Part 5b

Author's note:
If you've never seen Finding Nemo, some parts of this won't make much sense. I apologize in advance (but do yourself a favor and watch it some time. It's a wonderful movie. Dory speaks whale. *g* Okay, on with the story...

Justin

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Daphne eyed Justin doubtfully as they stood in front of the ridiculously bright red door that could only belong to one person. He looked pale and drawn even though she’d convinced him to lay down for a while after Mel brought him back to her apartment. He’d already given up on the idea of ever sleeping again when Ben called to tell him the family was gathering at Deb’s. The thought of the controlled chaos of the Novotny house was vaguely disturbing, but Daphne’s place was quiet, and right now the quiet was not his friend.

“Nobody’s ever really ready for Deb,” Justin shrugged with a resigned half-smile and reached for the handle.

He was struck by a keen sense of déjà vu as they stepped into the living room. For the most part, the memories of his time in this house were good ones – warmth; laughter; acceptance. Home. There was one day though, not so very long ago, when it had felt a lot like this. When the lights were dim and the air was heavy with the sadness of a life ended too soon. But that day, although Brian had been the only one callous enough to say it out loud, there’d been a sense of inevitability; though Vic’s passing was equally sudden, it wasn’t inconceivable. Today was inexplicable, incomprehensible. Impossible.

The low hum of quiet conversation blended with the sounds coming from the television. Justin recognized the scene on the small screen – he and Gus had watched Finding Nemo at least a dozen times while Brian pretended to work on his laptop and Justin pretended he didn’t know that Brian knew all the words to ‘Beyond the Sea’. Gus was curled into Debbie’s side on the sofa, giggling madly at Dory’s attempts to have a conversation with a whale. Mel sat in one of the recliners feeding J.R. and speaking softly to Lindsay who was perched on the arm. Ben was in the other chair and Michael sat cross legged on the floor in front of him while the big man massaged his shoulders. Ted was leaning against the counter watching Emmett flutter around the kitchen, unpacking bags of food sent over from the diner. One by one they fell silent as they noticed Justin and Daphne’s arrival. Gus popped his head up and squealed with delight.

“Justin!” The boy bounced off the sofa and launched himself into the blond’s outstretched arms.

“Hey, Gus.” Justin lifted him up and hugged him close, pressing a kiss on top of his head. He held him like that for a long moment until Gus squirmed slightly and Justin set him down and ruffled the soft, brown hair.

“I missed you, Jus.”

Justin swallowed the lump that leapt into his throat as Brian’s son looked up at him. He felt the reproach in the guileless eyes; the boy was right – it had been too long. He hadn’t seen him since before he’d left... damn. “I missed you too, Gus,” he answered truthfully. And then Gus looked around his legs at Daphne and then back up at Justin before his little eyebrows knit together.

“Where’s my Daddy?” Daphne’s soft gasp behind them echoed his own as Justin stared down at the boy, open-mouthed. Before he could process the question, Gus piped up again. “Did you bring him with you?” He looked up at Justin expectantly.

“No, Gus, I...” he swallowed hard, completely at a loss. Ben said they’d told him already... He locked eyes with Lindsay, pleading silently for some kind of help but found her looking as dumbfounded as he felt. Either she hadn’t done a very good job of explaining or Gus simply hadn’t accepted it. Neither option changed the fact that Gus was tugging on his jacket and waiting for an answer. All eyes focused on the two of them and Gus went on as though Justin hadn’t spoken at all.

“Mama said that Daddy got hurt and you an’ Mommy went to the hospital to take care of him.” He was sad when Mommy came home by herself, but now Jus was here and Jus was always with Daddy. “Didn’t you bring my Daddy with you?” Gus asked again, and this time the question spurred Lindsay to her feet. She came and kneeled down beside her son and took him by the arms.

“Sweetheart, I told you, Daddy can’t come see you anymore...” Lindsay said gently.

Gus shook his head adamantly. “But you said Mommy and Jus were going to take care of him,” he insisted. Lindsay caressed the thin arms and tried again.

“No, sweetie, I said they had to go and take care of some things. I’m sorry, baby...” her voice was rough and she was on the verge of tears, but Gus wasn’t having it. He pulled away from her and flung his arms around Justin’s legs with a defiant ‘No!’

“Where’s my Daddy?” Gus demanded, his bottom lip quivering now as tears welled in the soft brown eyes that had gone from curious to frightened with alarming speed.

Lindsay reached for him, but Justin scooped the small boy up into his arms and mouthed ‘let me’ to the distraught mother. He carried him around to the sofa and sat down beside Debbie, settling Gus onto his lap. He felt Deb’s arm go around him and warm lips pressed a kiss into his hair. He turned to the woman who was essentially a surrogate mother to him and felt a quick stab of fear in his belly as he saw the deep purple bruise that blossomed from just above her left temple and disappeared under the bright red wig.

He hoped the shock he felt didn’t show on his face. It had been less than twenty-four hours since he’d sat across from her at the diner, holding his future in his hands, and it looked like she had aged twenty years. A whispered ‘Jesus Christ, Deb,’ was all he could manage. Her arm tightened around his shoulder and she offered a weak smile.

“I know, Sunshine,” she said quietly, ruffling the blond head much as he’d done to Gus moments before. She wrapped her arms around the both of them and pulled them close. “I’m okay, baby.” Her voice was subdued, devoid of the brassiness that was practically her trademark. She sounded almost… defeated. That alone scared him nearly as much as anything else that had happened. “It’s all gonna be okay.” She held them that way for a moment and then let go, and Justin turned the crying child on his lap around to face him.

Gus had his bottom lip pulled into his teeth and was frowning as he looked up at Justin from under his long lashes. The look was so ‘Brian’ that Justin was lost in it for a moment before Gus’s small voice brought him back to the room with a painful jolt. “Did I do something bad, Jus? Is Daddy mad at me?” He sniffled softly, “is that why he didn’t come with you?” The genuine sorrow in the boy’s questions pierced Justin’s heart but it was another voice that threatened to undo him. ‘Look out for him for me.’

“Oh, no.” Justin took the small face in his hands. “No, you should never, ever think that.” He kissed his forehead and hugged him again before pulling back so Gus could see his face. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Gus. Your Daddy loved you more than anything else in the world.” Justin saw the doubt in Gus’ eyes and he took an unsteady breath as he searched for the words to help the boy understand what he barely understood himself.

“Gus, do you know what an accident is?”

The boy eyed him warily. “Uh huh. My friend Adam fell off the slide in the park and he hadda have a operation on his arm,” he said thoughtfully. “It was gross,” he added with a grimace, and then wiped his runny nose on his shirtsleeve.

“That’s right,” Justin nodded. “Your dad had an accident too, Gus. He had a very bad accident, and that’s why he can’t come see you any more, not because of anything you did.”

“But Adam had a operation and then he came home,” Gus reasoned. “Can’t Daddy have a operation, too?” Justin looked up at Lindsay for some direction before he answered; she had moved back to the armchair beside Mel and both women nodded their encouragement. He looked down into the trusting eyes of Brian’s child and felt his heart break a little more. Despite his best efforts, tears spilled down his cheeks as he answered the question.

“No, kiddo,” he said huskily, “he was hurt too badly for the doctors to fix him. They tried really hard, but he died, Gus.”

The room was very still as they all waited for Gus to process what Justin had just told him. The television made the only sounds until Michael coughed softly and got up, hurrying past them toward the back door. Ben followed quickly behind him with an apologetic glance in Justin’s direction. Gus looked back and forth between the tv and Justin and he worried his bottom lip again.

“He...died?” the boy repeated the words cautiously. Justin nodded. “Like Nemo’s mommy?” Justin swiped the back of his hand across his eyes and nodded again.

“Yeah, like Nemo’s mommy.” He watched the small face crumple and Gus fell against his chest with a sob.

“But I want him to be here, Jus. I don’t want Daddy to be died.”

Justin gathered him in and held him as he wept, lightly stroking the still baby-soft hair. “I know, Gus, I don’t either... I don’t either.” He rocked him gently and after a few minutes his sobbing calmed and the small body relaxed in his arms. Gus looked up at Justin through heavy-lidded eyes and reached up and touched his wet cheek curiously.

“Are you sad, Jus?”

“Uh huh,” Justin answered him honestly.

“Me too.”

“I know, kiddo.”

The boy seemed to consider this for a minute and then nodded gravely. “Mama, too,” he said matter-of-factly. “An’ Uncle Mikey. He was crying.”

“It’s okay to be sad, Gus,” Justin reassured the boy.

“It is?”

“Uh huh,” Justin nodded, “We’re all a little sad right now,” he said, “but you know what?”

“What?” Gus perked up a little and sat up in Justin’s lap.

“It’s okay to be happy, too.” Justin wiped away the traces of tears from the young boy’s face with his thumbs. “Your daddy loved you very much, Gus, and he always wanted you to be happy.”

“He did?” The small voice was uncertain but a ghost of a smile played around his mouth.

“Uh huh. And you know what else?” Gus narrowed his eyes a little and Justin smiled in spite of himself – he would have sworn on a stack of bibles that he saw one eyebrow lift.

“What?”

Justin poked his fingers into Gus’s ribs where he knew the boy was most ticklish. “Iiiiii doooooo tooooooooo,” Justin deepened his voice, letting it rise and fall in what he hoped was his very best imitation of Dory speaking whale. Gus squealed, trying to escape the tickle and Justin kept on making his face stretch into crazy shapes as Gus giggled and gasped. “Iiii loooooooooove youuuuuuuuuuuu Guuuuuuuuuusss,” he groaned, and let the boy go, laughing himself now. He did have to squeeze his eyes shut for just a moment though when Gus grasped his face with both small hands and answered in his own version of whale-speak.

“Iiiii loooooove youuuu tooooooo Juuussssstiiiiinnn.” Gus wrapped his arms around the blond’s neck and squeezed hard and then wriggled away when Justin threatened to tickle again. He skittered down off the sofa and ran to where Lindsay sat - safely out of tickle range and panting, but grinning again. “Want to see what I drawed today, Jus?”

“See what you drew,” Lindsay corrected him, but smiled gratefully over the boy’s head at Justin. Gus rolled his eyes and Justin blinked hard again and nodded.

“You bet, kiddo.”

While Gus searched through his backpack for his drawings, Justin leaned back into the cushions and scrubbed his hands over his face. He allowed himself a couple deep breaths before he let them fall into his lap again with a shaky sigh. His eyes slid sideways and found Debbie staring hard at him, her lips pinched together in a thin line and her head tilted as though studying him. She took his chin in her fingers and turned his face towards her, shaking her head slightly. Her eyes were shiny and when she tried to smile, her mouth quivered tellingly.

“How’d you get to be so fuckin’ smart, huh?”

Justin gave a small shrug. “Guess I had some pretty good teachers...” For a minute he wasn’t sure if she was going to hit him or burst into tears. Somehow he wasn’t surprised when she did both. She squeezed his chin and smacked him affectionately on the cheek before pulling him to her. She held him tight enough to force the air out of his lungs, but for once he was grateful for the comfort of one of her bone-crushing hugs.

“Little shit,” she breathed into his hair. Her voice was gruff again, more familiar, but the wet warmth soaking into Justin’s collar belied her brave front. “You doing okay, Sunshine?” she murmured after a long moment.

He didn’t have the energy or the inclination to lie. “Fuck no,” he huffed into the older woman’s neck.

Debbie just hugged him that much tighter and held on. “Yeah. Me neither.”

*~*~*

Michael stood in the middle of the tiny backyard and tried to breathe. The door had barely closed behind him when he heard the metallic creak of the hinges again, and then felt strong arms encircle him. Ben didn’t say anything, just pulled him close and let his chin rest on Michael’s shoulder, almost surprised to feel the wetness as he pressed his cheek against the smaller man’s. After holding him most of the night, he wondered how it was possible Michael still had any tears left in him. “It’ll be all right, baby,” he said, for what felt like the hundredth time. Michael’s chin dropped to his chest and he shook his head, silently acknowledging what they were both thinking: He could say it a hundred times more. A thousand. A million. He still couldn’t make it be true.

They stood like that for a long moment; the afternoon sun was warm on their faces but the air was cold enough to see their breath. Ben felt Michael trembling through the thin sweater he wore and rubbed his hands up and down his arms. “You’re cold. Let’s go inside.”

“You go ahead, I’m fine,” Michael said without turning around.

“Michael, there’s no sense...”

“Jesus, Ben, I said I’m fine,” Michael snapped, and then bit down hard on his lips when he felt Ben’s body tense behind him. “Shit.” Michael turned around, still in the circle of Ben’s arms. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to...” Michael hunched his shoulders and let them fall again as he lay his head against the bigger man’s chest. “I just need a few minutes... please...” he said, hoping he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt. Just five minutes. Five quiet minutes. Five minutes without anybody asking if he was okay. Without hearing anybody crying. Without hearing... anything.

“Just because we’ve been friends our whole lives doesn’t mean we have to stay friends.”

“You’re my best friend, and I need you.”

“They tried really hard, but he died, Gus.”

“He died, Gus.”

“He died.”


“I love you, Michael.” Ben stroked his back and murmured into his hair, and Michael sighed. He loved Ben completely; the words should have been soothing, a balm on his wounded soul. Instead, they left him aching for more, for the only words that could make a difference now. Words that would remain forever unspoken. Always have, always will. Michael reached up and caressed his husband’s cheek and prayed he couldn’t see the truth.

“Please, Ben... just go inside.”

~*~*~

“Deb... Deb! I can’t breathe,” Justin groaned out the words with the little air he had left in his lungs. Debbie reluctantly let him go with an unconvincing apology.

“Sorry, Sunshine.”

Justin gave her a watery smile and squeezed her hand, only letting go when Gus bounded back over and wedged himself between them. He carefully spread his drawing out over his lap and proudly pointed out the big gold star in the corner. “See, Jus? I got a star and everything!” Justin was appropriately impressed and within a minute or two, Gus was curled into Deb’s side again, totally engrossed in the joyous underwater reunion on the tv screen.

“Come and get it, everybody,” Emmett chirped from the kitchen.

“Em honey, let me help with that,” Debbie called over to Emmett as he set a large plate of lemon squares down on the table, already overflowing with platters of food. Betty had dropped off enough to feed a small army, along with a standing offer from Leo for anything else they needed. She made to get up but Emmett was in front of her in flash, hands on hips and a determined set to his jaw.

“You’ll do no such thing,” he scolded. “You sit right there and I’ll bring you a plate.”

“But...”

“But nothing,” he put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her gently back against the cushions. “The doctor only agreed to let you come home because I promised I would look after you.” Debbie started to protest again and Emmett leaned down until he was face to face with the older woman. “You wouldn’t want to make a liar of me, would you?” he said sweetly. Justin was mildly surprised at Debbie’s acquiescence – until Emmett turned his attention to him. His smile could’ve melted butter, but there was pure steel magnolia behind it. “Come on, sweetie. Let’s get you something to eat.” Justin didn’t even consider refusing. He got up and followed Em to the kitchen without a word. Daphne was already there leaning against the counter and sipping on a soda. Ted sat at the table staring into the cup of coffee he was stirring as though the answers to life’s great mysteries were in the bottom of the cup.

“Hey, Ted.”

“Justin.”

Justin noticed Ted wince as he rose from his chair. His large doe-eyes were bleary and his complexion decidedly gray and Justin embraced the older man gingerly - he knew Ted had suffered some smoke inhalation but Emmett never mentioned any injuries.

“How are you?”

Ted coughed lightly. “The docs said there might be some residual tissue damage from the smoke.” He shrugged but his voice sounded painfully hoarse and his mouth twisted into a wry half-smile. “It only hurts when I breathe,” he said dryly. “They say I’ll live.”

Justin saw Daphne’s eyes go wide and Emmett gasped audibly but neither of them said a word.

“Shit, Justin, I... I...” Ted sat back down heavily, stricken by his own thoughtlessness. “I didn’t mean to...” he stammered, then looked back up at Justin miserably. “I still can’t believe it... I’m so sorry, Justin.”

Justin regarded Ted thoughtfully. If you were picking out the people least likely to be friends with Brian Kinney, Ted Schmidt would be right at the top of most lists. On the surface, he was the antithesis of Brian – self-deprecating, timid, insecure. Pretty much everything Brian despised in a person. But he was also trustworthy and smart, and against all logic, Brian had taken a chance on him. Ted more than justified Brian’s faith in him - he became not just an invaluable employee, but a loyal and trusted friend. Justin didn’t doubt for a minute that the grief in the older man’s eyes was genuine and profound. He put an unsteady hand on Ted’s shoulder and squeezed. “Me too.” There really wasn’t anything else to say.

Justin heard the soft whine of the hinges as the back door opened and Ben came back into the house. The door banged shut behind him with more force than the ancient spring on the closer could justify, the sound magnified by the unnatural quiet of the room. Emmett nearly dropped the plate he was fixing for Debbie, and Justin felt Ted flinch under his hand.

“Jesus fucking Mary and Joseph!” Emmett squeaked, clutching his chest in true high drama-queen fashion.

“Sorry...” Ben muttered and disappeared back into the mud-room. Justin followed and found him leaning up against the washing machine with arms folded across his chest and his head low. He stood that way for a long time before he scrubbed his large hands over his face and let out a long sigh between his fingers. He spoke without looking up. “I’m scared, Justin.”

Justin pulled back the curtain on the door and looked out at the solitary figure huddled in the yard, trying to hold himself together. “Me too.”

*~*~*

Justin gathered his jacket more closely around himself as he opened the door. All the warmth was gone from the afternoon sun, leaving only a pale, cool light behind and he shivered slightly. He looked at Michael, hunched over and holding his head in his hands. Even from here Justin could tell he was crying – his whole body shook with it and Justin briefly considered walking away. But he’d been doing that for too long now. It was time to keep his promise. He closed the door of the SUV and jogged across the narrow road to where Michael sat, cross legged in front of Brian’s headstone. It was quiet in the way that only cemeteries can be and even Justin’s footsteps on the soft grass seemed loud to his ears. He called out his name as he approached him, but Michael seemed oblivious. It wasn’t until he was right behind him that Justin realized why. Michael reached for the nearly empty bottle of Jim Beam at his side and took a long swallow off it, then picked up the cell phone from the grass in front of him and fumbled with the buttons until a voice emanated from the speaker.

“Fuck you, Michael. The point of having a cell phone is to answer the fucking thing. I am on my way to my office – you have five minutes before I’m out of here.”


“Michael?” Justin touched him on the shoulder, but Michael shrugged it off and pushed the buttons again, sniffling loudly. Justin let it play through one last time and then reached down and took the phone out of Michael’s hand. “That’s enough, Michael,” he said quietly.

“Fuck off.. that’s mine!” Michael made a feeble attempt to lunge after it, but only managed to topple over onto the grass and he laid where he fell, still weeping softly. “Fuck you, Justin. Itsmiine...” he slurred.

Justin sat down beside him, cursing as he felt the dampness seeping through the fine Armani wool. He fidgeted with the cellphone, turning it over and over in his hands while he considered Brian’s oldest friend, sprawled out on the ground beside his grave and tried to figure out how the fuck they got here, today of all days. “You should be there tonight,” he said finally.

Michael folded his arm up and let it rest across his forehead, shielding his eyes from the light. “I can’t...” he whispered. “Brian wouldn’t want me there.”

“You can, Michael. You will.” Justin picked up the bottle of Beam and screwed the cap back on it. “And Brian would kick your ass if he could see you here like this.”

“I can’t. I’m not.. Why would you want me there?” Michael sat up and grabbed Justin by the arms. “Why Justin? Why...” he dropped his chin to his chest and sobbed. “Why don’t you hate me? Don’t you get it? You should fucking hate me.” But Justin just shook his head as Michael frantically searched the wide blue eyes for affirmation. He snatched the phone from Justin’s hands and pushed at the buttons until Brian’s admonition filled the air again. “Listen to him. Don’t you fucking get it? It’s my fault Brian was there. If I had just... if I... shit...” Michael pushed the balls of his hands into his eyes and groaned miserably. “It’s my fault Brian is dead, Justin. My fault.”

“No, it isn’t,” Justin said quietly as he turned back to the headstone again and ran his hand over the name and dates carved into the lustrous black marble. His fingers mapped each letter of the words beneath them. Nunc scio quid sit amor.

It seemed so long ago that he’d chosen them; the monument had been in place for nearly two years now and this was the first time he had seen the words, etched as deeply and indelibly into the stone as they were in his heart. Two years since his life had changed forever, standing right here in this very spot.

He could still hear the voices, the crying, the whispers. The screams. ‘Justin, no!’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Get him out of here, now!’ His right hand clenched involuntarily and he looked down at it as though it weren’t his own, as if he didn’t recognize the faint, white scars that zig-zagged across his knuckles or remember the sickening crunch of bone meeting bone. Most of that day was a blur to him, but there were some things that he would never forget. No matter how hard he tried. He rubbed absently at the cramp in his hand and shook his head. “It wasn’t your fault that Brian died, Michael. It was mine.”

*~*~*

Part 6

 
 
 
Daphneduffy_60 on May 9th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Officially, this just killed me! I'm sitting here in tears. The way you wrote how Justin confronted Joan, and then having to deal with Gus was just brilliant and heartbreaking all at once.

And who did Justin punch out at Brian's funeral? You really have me curious there. I can think of some candidates, but only you know who it really is.

I very much look forward to the next installment, my dear.

Later,
Daphne
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
Please don't die! *g* The confrontation with Joan was one of the most difficult things I've written. I know Justin never really expected that kind of reaction and it was crushing for him. I think Gus helped Justin as much as Justin helped Gus - seeing some truly unconditional love for Brian was what he needed after that. Ahh, the funeral... what a day that was...

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It means the world to me.
whatever, whatever: (qaf)314 b/j hugcamelhaircoat on May 9th, 2010 06:07 am (UTC)
Once again stunningly, amazingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. The only death!fic I've ever read that I don't want to end. Strangely it's a nightmare, but I sort of don't want to wake up - though I still miss Brian terribly with every sentence. You're very talented and I salute you.

*hugs*
Amy
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I miss Brian too - and it's important to me that he still be there in every sentence, so I can't think of a better compliment than that. And yeah, I kinda don't want it to end, either.
ergenieergenie on May 9th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC)
I just died frm expelling too much water from my eyes after reading all the chapters again!!!!..... gosh!!! The words and sentences you use in your fic really capture the emotions of each characters and the scenes. I can picture everything that's written in this fic so vividly in my mind. I can't wait to read more..... my fav scene is definitely the one between Gus and Justin at Deb's plce.... that just killed and broke me to pieces....cheers.....
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
It's really a testament to how much we love these boys that it's so easy (and terribly difficult) to 'see' them in this situation. Most of the time I just write what they tell me! *g*

I'm glad you liked the Gus/Justin part - those two really need each other. Thanks for reading (and reading again!) and for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.
templeton_matempleton_ma on May 9th, 2010 09:10 am (UTC)
*completely speechless*
I tasted the sadness in every single word of this chapter. My heart breaks for the loss of Brian, for Justin's courage and love, and for Gus's innocence. Watching Justin telling Gus while seeing Brian in little Gus was just tormenting. You did a great justice to Justin too. This is the Justin that would make Brian proud, the reason why Brian fell in love with Justin. And I definitely felt Brian's presence. And when I "heard" his voice saying "Look out for Gus for me", I wonder how Justin coped with his life with Brian being with him always. To be honest, I am a bit stunned when I read the last line but I can see why Justin would blame himself too. All the What-ifs must be killing Justin inside and out. Great writing. This story is definitely one of the most moving BJ fics on my list.
templeton_matempleton_ma on May 9th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
Just to add to my comment... After goggling, now I know what Justin chose to be on Brian's headstone... It's just perfect (Although Brian would probably roll his eyes and say "Twat" with an affectionate smirk). And how masterful of you to reveal it in this same chapter with the sequence of events: the hate from Joan & Clair, then the grief from Gus and the gang, and finally focusing on the 2 people Brian loved the most besides Gus.
(no subject) - q_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - q_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tv_fan_2008: BJ 512-2tv_fan_2008 on May 9th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
Wow this story is so heartbreaking!!! Your characterisation continues to be perfect and you writing is amazing. I liked seeing Justin standing up to Joan and the way he handled Gus' questions about Brian. Just brillient!! Looking forward to seeing how this all progresses in the next chapter.
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Keeping their voices 'true' is the most important thing to me. I'm very glad you feel they are. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you're reading. It's so encouraging!
amaranthink: B/J - B&W chin gripamaranthink on May 9th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting for this update rather impatiently and you didn't disappoint. I love what camelhaircoat said about missing Brian in every sentence. That's exactly how I feel and I/we mean that as a testament to your writing. Brian's death was the climax but you are managing to keep the tension and the grief level high even as we feel things moving on. Truly brilliant.

The showdown with Joan was spectacular. Brava!

I loved Justin's explanation to Gus even as it was making me cry. Again.

The inscription on Brian's headstone absolutely ripped my heart out. So appropriate.

And just when I think that there can't be any suspense left, you leave us with this cliffhanger. Guh!

Thank you for sharing your talent with us, and you have tremendous talent. I don't read many fics but I'd have to say that this one is one of my all time favorites. I'll be waiting for the next update and pounce on it.

Off to read it again and cry some more. :)
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
Wow! I hardly know what to say, except, thank you. I am so pleased to know that the story is touching people. It is most important to me to keep Brian 'alive' in the story and to know that is happening is just amazing for me. So yes, thank you.

Though it might seem drawn out at times, the story really only takes place over a few days (from the day of the bombing) and then one day in the future. I'm glad you're sticking with it.

As I said in another reply, the epitaph was probably the single most difficult choice I made in writing this story. I am thrilled that you find it appropriate. I think it applies to both boys - but maybe even more-so to Justin.

Thank you so much for the compliments and for taking the time to comment. It is so encouraging and I appreciate it very much.
(Deleted comment)
q_dictedq_dicted on May 9th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
I know the story is a sad one, and I thank you for taking a chance and reading it anyway. As someone else said to me in a pm - it's not really a death!fic, it's a love!fic. The B/J love story is epic and I like to think that it lives on, no matter what happens to them.

Thank you for the compliment and the comment - they are so appreciated.
anyusa0030anyusa0030 on May 10th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
have said this before and i'll say it again this is the best death fic ever written and i should know have read almost if not all death fics ever written in this fandom.justin and gus killed me here ,i dont know how but somehow i forgot about gus.i really felt brian loss in every word spoken and in every breath taken at debs.
q_dictedq_dicted on May 10th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
Wow, what an amazing compliment, I am so flattered. I, too, have read all the fics of this sort I can find. They are what inspired me to write this one. I'm glad you enjoyed the Gus/Justin part. Justin made a promise to Brian and it's the one thing that helps him keep going. Thank you for sticking with the story!
hannaschhannasch on May 13th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
It's lovely and sad and suspenseful at the same time. Write on!
Just one question: Is it suddenly at the end of 5b two years later or am I just to slow to get it?
q_dictedq_dicted on May 13th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Part 4 (what was going to be the epilogue) opened two years later - and Justin finds Michael at the cemetery, which makes him remember the dark days following Brian's death. Part 5 continues that part of the story, bringing us up to the following day at Deb's house and then yes, the end of that part is Justin coming back to the 'present' at the cemetery again. Sorry if it's confusing! The next part will be more memories.

Thanks for reading!

Edited at 2010-05-13 04:13 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - hannasch on May 13th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tsarcasm: Bartlettsarcasm on May 18th, 2010 06:48 am (UTC)
I am a sucker for Gus-Justin; it's just so wrenching
q_dicted: LoveIsq_dicted on May 18th, 2010 11:52 am (UTC)
Me too, and we know Justin would take his promise to Brian seriously. They need each other!

Thanks for reading and for commenting.
anno53 on May 29th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
This is a tough read ... but it is written so well that I can't stop reading it! I like the way you are portraying Justin here.
q_dicted: LoveIsq_dicted on May 29th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for taking a chance on the story. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea so I am grateful to those who look past the death!fic part and see the love!fic. Justin has some rocky moments ahead but he's got an inner strength (and Brian's love) to see him through.

Thanks for posting - I do so appreciate it.
extexchigalextexchigal on June 1st, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
My heart is broken. I have never cried so hard and so long while reading a fic before. Every chapter, every chapter. So heart-wrenching. The depth of your characters, their bravery and humanity has invaded my soul and taken up residence. Brian, Justin and Gus will be with me today as I move through RL, their voices will be echoing in my mind. Thank you. I haven't had a good cry like this in a very long time. Looking forward to an update and any future fics you feel compelled to write and grace your readers while sharing it with us.
q_dicted: LoveIsq_dicted on June 1st, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Oh my! There isn't anything more gratifying than knowing that you've touched somebody enough that they take it away with them into RL. It always seems strange to thank someone for making you cry - but I completely understand, and I thank you, too. It means so much and is so encouraging that you take the time to comment.

I am working on the conclusion now and it's so hard to let them go, it's taking longer than expected. I hope to have it up soon.

I just wanted to add that I believe it's a testament to Gale and Randy that they made these boys so real for us that we could actually mourn them. There'll never be another Brian and Justin.

Edited at 2010-06-01 05:13 pm (UTC)
marny1: vasthoudendmarny1 on June 7th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
Wow this is so beautiful written but so sad.

Hope to see an update really soon.

* hugs *
q_dictedq_dicted on June 7th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
(((hugs back))) Thank you so much. I am about 3/4 of the way through part six. It's coming to the end and I really want to get it right, so it's a little slow-going. Thanks for reading and for the comment, and for being patient with me.
nothing-rhymes-with-iantoqafkinnetic on July 31st, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
I just want to say that I freaking love this story! I'm a sucker for death!fics, especially major character deaths, and even more of a sucker for angst!fics. You are most definitely a writer; I adore every word in this story. I'm waiting hopefully for the next chapter, because it's so wonderfully, beautifully sad! Thank you so much for writing this!
q_dictedq_dicted on July 31st, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! My very first post in LJ was looking for good death!fics (an oxymoron? lol) and I was directed to some really amazing stories. Sometimes there's just nothing as therapeutic as a good cry. I know my last few replies have promised an update soon but this time, I mean it! I have the story open as I type this. Thanks so much for the compliment and the friending.
Anna: b/j magadoringaudience on July 31st, 2010 09:57 am (UTC)
I'm speechless and moved and heartbroken and a million other things. Thank you for this beautiful story.

I hope you don't mind me friending you. I want to be on the lookout for an update.
q_dictedq_dicted on July 31st, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
I don't mind at all, and I friended you back. I'm so glad you enjoyed the read and as I said above, I am writing again right now and I hope to have the conclusion up shortly. Thank you for taking the time to comment. It really means so much to me.