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14 September 2010 @ 09:01 pm
Valediction - Part 6  
Title: Valediction (Part 6 of 6 + Epilogue)
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: And so we come to the end of the story. I never dreamed when I started this in January that I'd still be writing it come September December. (see Epilogue. Oy.) There will be a short epilogue up on the weekend   one of these days soon, but in the meantime, thanks so much to those who took a chance on a death!fic and let me know you were reading. Your comments and encouragement mean more than I can say.  ~ q_dicted

As always, feedback is appreciated!

Memories for Valediction





Valediction ~ Part 6


Michael’s dark eyebrows knit together, his expression so befuddled that Justin might have laughed if wasn’t just so fucking tragic. “No...” Michael shook his head, “No... you weren’t even there...” His voice trailed off as Justin reached past him and picked up the bottle of bourbon from the grass beside him.

Justin’s mouth twisted into a wry smile. “No. I wasn’t there,” he repeated Michael’s words as he unscrewed the cap and swallowed the last mouthful of the amber liquid, shuddering as the burn made its way down his throat and spread through him like fire. “I hate that shit,” he grimaced, and passed it back to Michael.

Michael eyed the empty bottle and let out a sad little laugh. “Yeah, me too.”

Justin reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a folded up tissue. To Michael’s surprise, he didn’t wipe his eyes or blow his nose, instead he carefully unfolded it and produced a fat, rather battered looking joint. Justin lit it and took a long drag, holding the pungent smoke deep in his lungs before he offered him a hit. Michael shook his head again.

“I quit that shit.”

Justin snorted, blowing out a trail of smoke. “Yeah, me too.”

He smirked at Michael and held the joint out until the older man took it with a resigned shrug of his shoulders. They passed it back and forth, smoking in silence until it was too small to hold onto and then Justin pressed the roach into the soft, damp earth. Justin leaned back and let the slow buzz seep into his brain. He really didn’t indulge in drugs much anymore – he’d done enough in those first few weeks after the funeral to last a lifetime. Before he discovered there wasn’t enough weed or booze or pills in the world to numb the pain. Temporary oblivion was all he could hope for because no matter how high he got, he couldn’t escape his memories. Eventually he had to come down and when he did, Brian was still dead. And he still had to live with the reasons why. His cheeks burned with shame as he thought about just how close he’d come to finding permanent relief from the nightmares.

He glanced sideways at Michael and found him sitting with his head down, swaying slightly and making sniffling noises. ‘Pathetic.’ Justin heard the voice so clearly that he actually looked around, half expecting to find Brian standing there rolling his eyes and huffing out a terribly bored sigh. Michael looked up just then, all big eyes and quivering chin and Justin knew that he heard it, too.

“It wasn’t your fault, Justin... no one blamed you.”

Justin snorted again. No, nobody blamed Justin. Nobody blamed Michael either. Nobody except Justin and Michael.

*~*~*

“Mr. Taylor?” The man rose from his desk and extended his hand to Justin as he entered the office. “I am Reginald Dewey. We spoke on the phone.” Justin almost smiled as he took the man’s hand. If someone had asked him to draw a picture of a funeral director, it would look exactly like Reginald Dewey of Dewey & Sons Funeral Home. Tall, thin bordering on gaunt, with sharp, sallow features and doleful eyes. His dark suit and white shirt did little to detract from his austere appearance – he could have stepped out of a gothic novel, yet his voice was unexpectedly gentle as he offered his condolences and shook Justin’s hand warmly. “Please, sit down.”

Justin sat down on the edge of one of the two leather wing chairs that faced Reginald’s desk and murmured his thanks as he glanced around the tastefully furnished room. Like the man himself, the decor was everything you expected a funeral director’s office would be. Formal, sedate, vaguely impersonal, all done in varying shades of taupe. Fucking taupe. It occurred to him that Brian would have hated it. Justin wondered briefly if he’d actually been here in this room, perhaps even sat in this chair while he made arrangements for his funeral. For his fucking funeral. He was shocked when Melanie told him what Brian had done. He’d been so stoic about the cancer. After the initial freak-out he’d gone right back to his usual persona – indomitable, imperturbable. He made it easy for Justin to believe that he wasn’t worried or scared and that he didn’t need or want anybody’s sympathy. He made it easy for Justin to forget. And so he did. He got on a plane and went to Hollywood and fucked a movie star while Brian planned his funeral. Shit.

His gaze slid to the door and beyond... To Brian’s quiet smile when he asked him, finally, to stay, and the way it froze in place when he’d told him why he couldn’t. To his welcome home with an empty drawer and no questions asked when Justin’s Hollywood dreams went down in flames. And then to his face as he shut the door on him that last time - when he decided that Brian’s kind of love wasn’t enough. To yesterday... to the profound sadness in his eyes when he’d realized that Justin was there, at Babylon, and not waiting for him at the airport. He’d believed in that moment that Justin had rejected him. Again. And for the first time, Justin realized that it wasn’t just sadness he’d seen in those hazel eyes, but resignation. Rejection was what Brian expected, because it was what everyone he’d ever let himself love had done. What he’d done himself, time after time and the knowledge filled him with regret so crushing he could hardly breathe from the weight of it. Did he know? Did Brian really know how much he loved him? How it nearly killed him to walk away? Oh god, Brian, did you know? Justin felt a light touch on his shoulder and nearly leapt out of his chair.

“Jesus!”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Taylor,” Reginald apologized, and gestured toward the bag in Justin’s hands. “I asked if I could take that for you?”

Justin looked down at the garment bag that he was clutching to his chest without even realizing. Brian’s clothes. His beautiful Armani suit, his Stefano Ricci shirt and tie. Justin laid the bag across his lap and carefully smoothed the wrinkles out, tears pricking the backs of his eyes as he imagined Brian’s outrage at the abuse of his precious clothes. Christ, and they called him a princess.

“Mr. Taylor?”

“Sorry... Yeah,” he whispered huskily. He blinked away the images and reluctantly held the garment bag out to the director. “I think I got everything...”

Reginald looked down at the young man and his throat tightened with a rare wave of sympathy. He dealt with death every day and for all intents and purposes, had become largely immune to the drama of it all. You couldn’t do this job and keep your sanity if you let every sad story get to you. But this one... this one was rough. A bomb. In Pittsburgh! He’d handled the intake personally and seen the damage it had done. And he’d heard the story from one of his drivers. He knew what this kid had gone through already. “I’m sure this will be fine,” he said quietly. He took the bag from Justin and pressed a button on the phone. Almost instantly a woman appeared in the doorway. After handing off the bag and closing the door behind her, he drew a file folder from the credenza that took up most of one wall. To Justin’s surprise he didn’t return to his desk but instead he took the chair beside him, slipping on a pair of glasses as he opened the file. He took a moment to look over the papers, then cleared his throat and turned to Justin.

“As you know, Mr. Kinney had a pre-arranged plan with us. The financial side has already been taken care of, as have the preliminary arrangements. Of course, if there are any changes... anything at all we can do, please let me know. We have contacted Union Dale and arranged for interment tomorrow at eleven a.m. as you requested.” He looked up at Justin for confirmation and he nodded. “Mr. Kinney also made allowance for car service for his family and friends. If you’ll leave the necessary information with my assistant before you go...” Justin nodded again and he continued, “His instructions regarding the service were explicit – no clergy, no formal ceremony. Generally in these cases our staff is on hand to help direct the family in any way we can. We will have everything ready prior to your arrival and then take care of the committal once you are finished.” He heard Justin’s small, sharp intake of breath and looked up. “Do you have any questions, Mr. Taylor?”

Questions? Justin’s eyes narrowed and he swallowed a bitter laugh that threatened to tear him apart. Questions? How about why did I hurt the only man I’ve ever loved? Why couldn’t I see that it was only ever a matter of time until he trusted in that love enough to believe in our future? Why couldn’t I be as patient with him as he was with me? Why did I claim to be ‘on to him’ like some smug little asshole, and then treat him as though he didn’t have any feelings at all? Why couldn’t we have just a little more time so I could tell him... tell him that none of that other shit was important? Why the fuck did he have to die? But there were no answers to those questions – at least none that he could live with. Instead he asked the only thing that mattered to him now. “Can I see him?”

Reginald glanced at his watch and nodded, “Yes, of course.” He stood up and waited while Justin did the same and then led him into the hallway. “We have a lounge downstairs or you can wait in the Reflection Garden if you prefer. My assistant will come and find you when we are ready. It shouldn’t be very long. I understand the service will be private, but... will there be any other family or friends joining you today?” The director knew that privacy was a primary concern and Kinney’s instructions were clear cut, but he couldn’t believe that this kid would have to deal with all this on his own.

Justin closed his eyes for a moment. The news that there would be no church service or visitation did not go over well, particularly with Debbie. The idea of a private funeral with no priest was an affront to her Italian-Catholic sensibilities and she wasn’t shy about expressing her opinion. Lindsay was just as unhappy about it, if a little more subtle in voicing her disapproval, but Justin was determined to honor Brian’s wishes. He tried to imagine his frame of mind when he’d made the decisions he did, and he believed that Brian thought it would be the easiest thing for everybody when the time came. But he also believed that Brian never could have imagined these circumstances. He couldn’t have known that there would be no chance to say goodbye and Justin knew in his heart that Brian wouldn’t deny them that. And even more than that, he believed that Brian wouldn’t expect him to do this alone. And so at Justin’s discretion, his family - his real family - would be there. His heart told him it was the right thing to do. His stomach had other ideas.

It didn’t help that his connection to Brian and the bombing was already public knowledge. It took the press about five minutes to dig up the bashing and apparently the ‘tragic postscript to the young lovers’ story’ was too great an angle to resist. Even though it was Saturday, Cynthia had told him there were news vans parked in front of Kinnetik. He’d only barely managed to avoid a reporter lurking in front of the loft when he went to get Brian’s clothes. Fortunately Justin recognized him from the days following his release from the hospital and Hobbs’ so-called trial and he'd managed to sneak in and out the back entrance. The guy had been dogging Justin for an interview – how he got his cell phone number, Justin had no clue. Jennifer had finally stopped answering her phone altogether. The night before, an impromptu candlelight vigil for the victims had gathered in the streets around Babylon and he knew the police had to be called in after a group of anti-gay protesters showed up, carrying signs and chanting their hate-filled slogans. They goaded the shocked and grieving mourners until one man, whose daughter had been critically injured in the bombing, lost it. He attacked the leader of the group and beat him senseless amid the taunts and jeers of the hostile onlookers. Anger swelled and rippled through the crowd until it erupted into a melee of fists and blood and shouted obscenities that took two full units of Pittsburgh’s finest to bring under control. The thought of a repeat performance made Justin’s blood run cold but Reginald had assured him of the funeral home’s absolute discretion and Justin swore the small circle of friends to secrecy before giving them the details.

“Yes... some. Later... they’ll be here later on.” Justin swallowed the knot in his throat and took a deep breath. Christ, he needed a cigarette. He pulled a pack out of his jacket and looked around for any indication of an ashtray but found a discreet ‘No Smoking’ sign on the reception desk instead.

“You can smoke in the Garden if you wish.” Reginald pointed to double glass doors which led to a large courtyard. Justin nodded his thanks and headed for the doors. “Mr. Taylor, a moment please?”

Justin stopped as Reginald stepped into his office again and emerged holding a large, white plastic bag with ‘A.M.H.’ stenciled on the side. His stomach did a little flip when he saw the name written in black marker beneath the hospital’s logo. Kinney, Brian. He actually took a step back as the director held the bag out to him.

“Mr. Kinney’s personal effects. The hospital sent them along,” he offered by way of explanation, somewhat puzzled by Justin’s reaction.

Justin stared at the bag for nearly a full minute before he could bring himself to take it. He could tell by the size and weight of it that it had to be Brian’s jacket. He had a flash of Nancy cutting through the soft, black leather. Of the dark, painful looking bruises beneath it. Of the blood. He must have swayed on his feet because the next thing he knew, the director had him by the upper arms and was guiding him to the bench that stood beside the double doors. He sat down heavily and pulled the bag close and tried to breathe. In through the nose – out through the nose, nice and slow. Pause. Again. In. Out. Nice and slow. The Sigh Breath, they called it – an exercise Brian found on the internet to help him through the nightmares when he woke up terrified and gasping for air. It worked better than any of the drugs or bullshit therapy sessions. But then there had been a pair of strong, comforting arms to curl into when it was over. Fuck.

“Are you all right, Mr. Taylor?” The blond nodded, but haunted blue eyes in a face gone deathly pale belied the action. He’d witnessed enough over his years in the business to know when someone was in trouble and this was a young man close to the edge. “Is there someone I can call for you?”

Justin took another deep breath and shook his head, “No, I’m all right.” He looked up into the concerned face of the director and realized how unconvincing he sounded. He cleared his throat and tried to smile. “Really, I’m fine. I... I just need to see him.”

Reginald studied him for a moment then nodded. “Of course. I’ll go and see how much longer it will be.”

Justin watched him go until he disappeared through a door at the end of the hallway and then stood up again. He pushed open the doors and stepped out into the Reflection Garden. Calling it a garden was a generous description. It might be an appropriate name in a few more weeks, but today it was just a cold, dreary courtyard, full of bare-limbed trees and mulch-covered flower beds. The only relief came from the small but hearty evergreens that dotted both sides of the pathway winding through the garden. He followed their trail to a small, lattice gazebo that held two wrought iron chairs on either side of another bench, this one ornately molded concrete. The cold cement leached the warmth from his bones as he sat down, and yet it felt right somehow, almost soothing. He set the bag of Brian’s things down on the bench beside him and leaned back, lighting his cigarette. He took a long drag and blew it out slowly in thick streams of smoke that hung in the air, blending with his frozen breath until it surrounded him like low-hanging clouds that perfectly matched the bleak sky. Where yesterday there had been a hint of spring in the air, today was decidedly wintry. Damp and sunless – the kind of day where the sky stayed the same cold shade of gray and the temperature never changed from sunrise to sunset. The kind of day that could see him sitting in this fucking godforsaken garden waiting to see the love of his life for the last time. And like the frigid concrete that chilled him through, it felt hopelessly right. Jesus.

He took a last drag off the cigarette then crushed it out under his heel and let his head drop into his hands. Jesus fucking Christ.

He heard the door open and footsteps approaching and as badly as he wanted to see Brian, he also wanted to run and hide. Because once he went back inside that was it – the last time. The last fucking time. At that moment, sitting on the cold bench for the rest of his life seemed preferable. The footsteps stopped in front of him and he saw a pair of scuffed, brown boots – a far cry from the polished black loafers the funeral director had been wearing. Justin looked up into the haggard, sleep-deprived face of Carl Horvath.

“How’s it going, kid?”

Justin shrugged in response, “It’s going.” He glanced at his watch and then back up at Carl. “You’re early. He…Brian isn’t… they aren’t ready yet.” Justin looked past him toward the doors, expecting to see Debbie barreling through them, but the detective appeared to be alone.

“I know.” Carl reached down to move the bag at Justin’s side so he could sit. He was too tired to do more than raise an eyebrow when Justin snatched it up as though he were attempting to steal it. Apart from a quick shower at home yesterday afternoon and a couple of meal breaks, he’d been on duty for forty-eight hours straight and counting. Forty-eight of the toughest hours of his career. Not even during the Stockwell debacle had tensions run so high and he’d witnessed some things that made him ashamed to wear the same badge as some of his so-called friends on the force. Carl sat down with a bone-weary sigh and took a sideways glance at Justin – the kid looked about as used-up as he felt. And now there was this. “Debbie told me you’d be here.”

“What’s up, Carl?” Justin eyed the detective warily as seconds ticked by with no response. Carl wasn’t exactly garrulous at the best of times, but every instinct Justin had was telling him that the man would rather be anywhere else but there.

Carl scratched at the unfamiliar stubble that shadowed his jaw, buying a little time while he considered how best to tell Justin what he’d come here to say. Of all the shitty things he’d had to do over the past two days, this was near the top of the list, and that was saying something. It was also just about the god-damndest thing he’d seen in nearly thirty years on the job. Experience told him that straight up was the best way to deliver bad news – the kid practically being family didn’t change that, so he shrugged into his Detective Horvath role and plunged in.

“We have a suspect in custody.”

“Seriously? But… how? Who?”

“Guy’s name is Lonnie Halstead – lives right here in Shadyside. He walked into the precinct this morning and asked to speak to whoever was in charge.”

“He... he confessed? Just like that?” Justin eyes went wide, reflecting Carl’s incredulity right back at him. The detective shook his head, his mouth twisting as though he’d tasted something nasty.

“He didn’t just confess – the son-of-a-bitch proclaimed it. Like he was expecting a fucking reward.” Their first instinct was to ignore him – sadly, things like this regularly brought out the crazies. Some of them truly delusional, some fame-whores, some just looking for a warm place to sleep and a free meal courtesy of the state. But this guy had proof. Blueprints, schematics, details about the bomb itself, photos of the inside of the club. And a neatly typed, double spaced, eighty five page manifesto of exactly how the Homosexual Agenda was ruining the very fabric of American life and his plan to put a stop to it. “We’re still waiting on some forensics, but he looks good for it. We believe he is responsible for planting the bomb, Justin.”

Holy shit. Justin took a heartbeat or two to absorb that. It was incredible news and he knew he should be relieved that the bastard was off the street. But something about the whole situation was... off. Why would Carl come all this way to tell him when he would be seeing him in a few hours anyway? He was about to ask him just that when the door opened again and Tucker appeared, with Jennifer right behind him looking none-too-steady on her crutches. She carefully maneuvered her way through the door, then stopped and placed a hand on Tucker’s chest, tilting her face up to meet him as he leaned down and kissed her. She said something Justin couldn’t hear, smiling at him as he lightly caressed her cheek before he turned and walked back inside.

They both stood up as she made her way over to them and Justin hugged her somewhat awkwardly as she kissed him hello. He was still reeling from this latest development, but it occurred to him to wonder how she’d gotten here, since he’d borrowed her car and he was fairly certain she hadn’t ridden over on the back of Tucker’s motorcycle. It wasn’t lost on Justin that Carl didn’t greet her, nor she him. He did offer her the seat he’d just vacated though, and she took it gratefully, her aching shoulders sagging as she set the crutches aside and sat down.

“What are you doing here, Mom?”

Jennifer looked up into eyes that were a larger, bluer version of her own and couldn’t help think of how they’d shone with happiness, full of passion and hope as he’d stood in her office and declared, ‘I’m going with him.’ That light was dimmed now, shadowed by grief and anger, but worse, by the weary cynicism of someone who has been hurt too much to expect anything else. Looking at her son, Jennifer had the uncanny feeling that somehow, he already knew why Carl had brought her along. He sat down beside her and she had to look away, unwilling to witness that last glimmer of innocence flicker and die.

“Mom?”

“Justin...”

Her furtive, almost plaintive glance at the detective sent a frisson of panic through Justin. He ran his tongue over lips gone suddenly dry. “I asked you what you’re doing here,” he said, his voice rising slightly. “Mother?”

Jennifer placed a bandaged hand on Justin’s arm and stroked it soothingly. “Sweetheart, please don’t get upset... we don’t really know anything for sure...”

“What don’t we know? Don’t get upset about what?” Justin looked back and forth between his mother and the detective, his anxiety growing with every second that passed in silence. But neither of them seemed willing to meet his eyes. “Carl? What is she talking about?”

“Justin, please...” Jennifer’s voice broke, and Justin’s patience along with it.

“One of you tell me what’s going on right fucking now!”

“Take it easy, son,” Carl said, with a pointed look at the distraught woman at Justin’s side.

Justin bristled at Carl’s tone, but the pleading look on his mother’s face kept him from saying something he would regret. He bit down hard on his lip and nodded. “I’m sorry, just... tell me what’s going on.”

“When Halstead confessed, he said that he gained access to Babylon by sneaking in as part of the crew from the maintenance company Brian used. Seems like the service uses temps on Mondays for extra help to clean up after the weekend, so nobody paid him any attention. He was able to plant the bomb behind the bar without being noticed.”

“Monday?” Justin shook his head. “That doesn’t make any sense. We didn’t even know the benefit was going to be there until Wednesday.”

Carl smiled grimly. The kid was pretty sharp – it had taken the detective who took Halstead’s confession a lot longer to make that connection. “That’s right, Justin. Neither did Halstead.” Carl paused, fully expecting that Justin would make the next connection as well, watching him blanch when he did.

“Oh my god... it wasn’t about Stop Prop 14 at all, was it? It was Babylon...”

Carl nodded. “I’m afraid so. It seems that he was determined to ‘clean up’ Pittsburgh and Babylon was first on his agenda. His original plan was to detonate the bomb on Friday night when the club was normally busiest, but when he saw the signs for the benefit on Thursday, he took it as a ‘sign from God’.”

Justin made a concentrated effort to push down the panic he felt rising in his chest. “Okay... so the guy is a sick fuck who hates gay people. I wish that was news,” Justin said as calmly as he could. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“This Halstead, up until about two weeks ago, he was second in command of a group calling themselves Citizens For Truth. They’re a smaller, more aggressive group of ultra-conservatives that splintered off from the Americans For Truth. Most of the people we arrested at the vigil last night were members.”

Justin nodded, prompting Carl to go on. Carl stared down at Justin for a moment and wished mightily that he could just leave it be. The kid had been through enough in the past couple of days to bring down ten men and this was not going to make it any easier. But it was going to get out one way or another and he deserved to know the truth before he got ambushed with it.

“These people – the Citizens For Truth – they’ve only been on the radar for about a year. We haven’t been able to prove it but we believe they have been responsible for a lot of the more aggressive anti-gay activity in the city recently. So far they’ve mostly stuck to intimidation – property damage, picketing gay-friendly establishments, a couple of incidents that got out of hand – like the vigil last night...” Carl paused as Justin registered his disgust with a derisive snort and an impatient, cut-to-the-chase wave of his hand. “What I’m saying is, they don’t have a lot of support from the usual suspects – they’ve distanced themselves from the mainstream, so it’s a little easier for their members and financial supporters to remain anonymous, and I have to be honest, until now nobody has looked that closely.” He drew a sheet of paper out of the envelope he’d been fidgeting with ever since he arrived. He read it over quickly and then he and Jennifer exchanged that same furtive look again as he handed the list of names to Justin. And it was then he suddenly understood what Carl was trying to tell him. Even as the paper slipped from his shaking hand and fluttered to the ground at his feet, Justin knew he was going to be sick.

He barely made it to his knees before he lost what remained of the breakfast Daphne had forced him to eat. Oh god. Oh fuck. This couldn’t be happening. But the paper on the ground beside him said otherwise. Ohfuckohfuckohfuck. He felt a firm hand on his shoulder as Carl helped to steady him. He heard his mother’s voice and knew she was trying to explain away what was inexplicable. ‘Halstead acted on his own... the leader of the group renounced him... no proof that the organization or its supporters knew what he was planning...’ He saw Carl nodding his head, confirming all she said but it didn’t matter. Not one fucking word of it mattered. Brian... oh god, Brian. All those people. Dead. Murdered. And there was every possibility that his own fucking father had financed the monster who killed them.

“Jesus Christ,” Justin moaned, sitting back on his haunches. “Brian... all those people...” He looked at the brace on his mother’s ankle, at her bandaged hands clasped together in her lap. “Did he even care that you might be there? That... that.. I...” Oh god. He knew his father hated that he was gay, that he hated Brian... that he blamed Brian. There was a time when Justin thought that he might come around some day but that hope breathed its last on the sidewalk outside his store when Craig had him arrested for trespassing. ‘I think he would rather see me dead than gay.’ He’d said those words to his mother after she bailed him out, but he never truly believed... not really... “He did it. He really did it.”

Jennifer tried again. “Justin, they don’t think that your father knew...”

“Don’t even try it, Mom. Don’t even try to defend him!” Justin snatched the police report up and shoved it at her. Craig Taylor (Taylor Electronics) was the third of about ten names on the list. “It’s right there in black and fucking white.” He rocked back and forth, still on his knees, fisting his hands in his hair in an attempt to keep his head from exploding.

“I’m not defending him. Supporting those people, being a part of such hate, it’s... despicable.” Jennifer tried to reach for him, to comfort him, but he drew away from her, shaking his head. “Sweetheart, please, I know your father has said and done some horrible things and I’ll never forgive him for the way he’s treated you, but you have to listen to me Justin. He didn’t know what this man had planned... he couldn’t have known...”

“Why couldn’t he? Because he’s such a respectable, god-fearing Christian? Because he’s so decent and fucking moral?” Justin shrugged off Carl’s attempt to help him as he got to his feet and began pacing a short path back and forth in front of them. “That is such total bullshit! He’s a homophobic prick and he hates us, Mother. He hates having a fag for a son and he’d rather see me dead. Only... only I’m not...” Justin stopped short. Oh god. “I’m not dead. Brian is...” his voice faltered as the true implications of Craig’s involvement hit him and he sank down onto the bench beside her. Jennifer watched helplessly as his mind raced inevitably toward the conclusion she knew it would, no matter how wrong-headed it was. When he finally spoke, the devastation in his voice broke her heart. “It’s my fault, isn’t it? Brian is dead because of me.”

“Oh Justin, no, that’s just not true.”

“It is. Dad has been threatening Brian since the first day you told him his name.” Jennifer flinched, but wisely said nothing. He wasn’t wrong about that. “He hated him, Mom. You know he blamed him for perverting me, for turning me queer. Jesus...” Justin pressed the balls of his hands against his temples as he felt the familiar throbbing behind his eyes that signaled a migraine was on its way. “He finally found a way to get him out of my life. So don’t even try to tell me this was just some fucked up coincidence, because I don’t fucking believe you.” Justin dropped his head into his hands. “He should have just killed me, too.”

“Justin!” Jennifer took him by the shoulders. “Sweetheart, look at me.” She turned him to her, prepared to reason away the hurt and betrayal she knew he must be feeling. What she wasn’t prepared for was the cold fury in her beautiful son’s eyes.

“Brian would be alive if it wasn’t for me... for my fucking father.” He nearly choked on the words that burned like acid in his throat. “He should have made sure I was dead, too, because I swear to God, if I get the chance, I’ll kill him.”

“Justin, you don’t mean that,” Jennifer gasped, her eyes darting between her son and the detective standing over them. “Please, Justin...” her voice broke and she looked helplessly up at Carl. “He doesn’t mean that...”

“Why wouldn’t I mean it?” Justin’s lip curled into a sneer. “Because the police will take care of it? Like they took care of Hobbs? What a fucking joke that is!”

“That’s enough, Justin,” Carl said, but Justin was beyond reasoning. He turned on Carl, his voice shaking with anger.

“It’s not enough and you know it. He’ll walk away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist because none of you give a flying fuck about us! What’s a few less fags in the world, right? You’ll probably give him a fucking medal!” Justin shook off his mother’s hand and stood up, but Carl stepped in front of him. “Get out of my way, Carl,” Justin hissed, trying to step around the detective.

“I said that’s enough,” Carl repeated his warning, his patience reaching its limit. He folded his arms across his chest and stood his ground. The two men faced off for a moment before Justin finally shook his head and looked away. “Sit down, please.” Carl’s tone softened, but brooked no argument and truth be told, Justin didn’t really feel like his legs were all that reliable at the moment. Reluctantly, he sat back down.

Carl scrubbed a hand over his mouth and blew out a long breath between his fingers. “First of all, I’m sorry, Justin. It’s a hell of a thing, what happened. I thought a lot of Brian, and I know Debbie loved him like a son. We are going to put this son-of-a-bitch away.” Justin stared straight ahead, barely acknowledging Carl’s assurances through his clenched teeth. Carl sighed heavily and pulled one of the wrought-iron chairs around, sitting down to face him.

“Listen to me.” Carl reached over and put a firm hand on Justin’s shoulder, waiting until the younger man finally looked at him. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I promise you kid, if I thought for one minute that your father, or any of the other people on that list were working directly with this guy, they’d already be in that cell right alongside him. I only decided to tell you and your mother about his involvement with Citizens For Truth because it’s going to be public knowledge very soon. Do you understand that?” Justin nodded slightly. Carl watched Justin’s face carefully – he’d been a cop for too long and delivered too much bad news in his day not to recognize the struggle the kid was having. Wanting so desperately to believe what he was hearing but needing to hold on to the anger, because being angry hurt a whole lot less than being powerless. At least for a little while.

“Halstead had a copy of their manifesto with him when he showed up at the station, but he called it a primer – ‘a guide for weak-minded recreants, afraid to expose the depraved and immoral denizens of Pittsburgh’s rotting underbelly for what they are’.” Carl shook his head. “The guy is bat-shit fucking crazy, but he’s smart. Has a degree in Engineering from Pitt.” He let out a short, disgusted snort. “Anyway, the point is, Halstead wanted to make it clear that God had chosen him to be The One. He was adamant that he left the CFT behind because they weren’t ‘willing to take the initiatives’ he deemed necessary. Of course Elmquist, the leader of the group, tells a different story. He said they kicked Halstead to the curb a month or so ago – said the guy was making the other members ‘uncomfortable’ and threatened to turn him in if he didn’t back off.” Carl shook his head again at that idea. Jesus, how crazy did you have to be to scare these people?

“And you believe it? Just because those assholes say so?”

Carl gave him a sideways look at that. “No, I believe it because twenty years of experience tells me it’s the truth. Once Halstead realized the other members of the group weren’t on board with his agenda he went underground. Maybe he fixated on Babylon because of your dad’s obsession with it – with Brian. We just don’t know that. Did they know that he was dangerous? No doubt. Did they suspect he was capable of something like this? Probably. And I’ll be honest, none of the people we questioned seemed all that sorry about what happened, including your father. Putting places like Babylon out of business is at the top of their priority list – they never made any secret of that.” Justin flinched at that and Carl reached out and grasped his shoulder again, this time with a comforting squeeze. “I’m sorry, Justin. I know it hurts that he’s any part of this at all, but all the evidence says that Halstead acted alone. I’m not saying your father is innocent – I’m just telling you we don’t believe he’s guilty of this.”

Justin nodded mutely. His misdirected anger at the detective dissipated as Carl’s words sank in, but he felt no relief, only the crushing weight of the grief that rushed in to take its place. Not just for Brian, but for the final, irrevocable loss of his father. Because no matter what the evidence, or Carl, or his mother or God himself said, Craig Taylor was every bit as responsible for Brian’s death as Lonnie Halstead. And he was dead to him.

They sat in silence for a long moment, until the courtyard door opened again and Reginald Dewey appeared. “Excuse me, Mr. Taylor, I’m sorry to interrupt but I thought you would want to know. If you’d like to come inside, we’re ready for you.”

Justin massaged the heel of his palms against his throbbing temples; he hadn’t had a migraine in over a year and the one that was building promised to be a motherfucker. The ibuprofen he’d been popping all day barely touched it, but his prescription meds would put him on his ass and he had to make it through one more day. He shook two more out of the bottle in his pocket and swallowed them dry, grimacing at the bitter taste they left on his tongue then followed his mother and the detective back inside. Just one more day, please God.

*~*~*

Justin had very few real memories of the day they buried Brian. Oh, he knew the facts - if he were forced to recount them, he could - but they didn’t feel like memories, more like a story he’d been told that happened to someone else.

He remembered the sick feeling he’d had when the car pulled into the cemetery and he saw the small crowd gathered along the side of the road. All hopes of a private service had gone to hell when someone in the D.A.’s office tipped the media to Lonnie Halstead’s confession. The story was all over the front page of the Sunday papers, along with details of the funeral of his most prominent victim. He recognized some of them - citizens of Liberty Avenue come to pay their respects to one of their own. But most were strangers to him and it wasn’t empathy or compassion he saw in their faces or on the signs they carried. Thanks to Carl and a few of his friends on the force they had at least been able to keep them at a distance.

He remembered Debbie.

They were all there of course. His mom and Tucker, Ted, Emmett and Drew, Cynthia, along with a few of the staff from Kinnetik and Babylon. And there was Michael, barely keeping it together while Ben stood by his side; Mel holding an inconsolable Lindsay; even sweet little Gus, so innocent and brave. Yet it was the image of Deb, standing silently beside Brian’s grave that he would carry with him forever. Indomitable, ageless, invincible Debbie. But he saw the shadow of a grief too deep for tears in her eyes and the way she seemed to shrink into Carl as they stood there. Watching her say goodbye to the man she considered her second son, Justin saw a glimpse of the frail old woman Debbie Novotny would one day become. He’d gone and hugged her then and let her hold him for a long time. Maybe he even held on a little longer than she did.

“He loved you so fucking much,” he’d said before he finally let go. Debbie took his face in both hands and gave him a firm kiss on the forehead then wiped the lipstick stain off with her thumb.

“You bet your ass he did.”

He remembered they each talked a little about what Brian meant to them, and that Ted had actually made them all laugh out loud.

It was weird that he couldn’t recall exactly what Ted said, but he remembered laughing. Really laughing. And then crying. And then feeling Gus’s little hand tugging on his, telling him it was okay to be sad sometimes, but it was okay to be happy, too. He’d lifted Gus up into his arms and held him while the rest of them spoke and then it was his turn.

He remembered that it was freezing and that the sky was painfully blue and that it had actually pissed him off because what fucking right did the sun have to be shining so brightly when Jesus Christ they were burying Brian Kinney and that was so far beyond fucked up that he couldn’t even begin to wrap his mind around it. Maybe if it just hadn’t been so fucking sunny he might have seen what was happening before... before everything went to shit. Of course none of them really saw it coming.

“Sometimes it feels like I’ve loved him my whole life,” he’d begun when he was finally able to speak. “I guess maybe I have, because my life... my real life began the day I met him.” He paused and smiled softly at the child in his arms. “Brian Kinney was the best man I’ve ever known.”

“Brian Kinney is burning in Hell where he belongs!”

He remembered the utter quiet that followed those words – as though the whole world had been rendered silent by their malice. His last clear memories were of turning around, of the pain he felt as he realized their source, as he recognized the voice, the voice that had read him bedtime stories, the voice that had soothed him as a child, the voice now shouting out cruel words that cut him to the bone... of seeing the man he once idolized emerging from the crowd, the man looking at him with such contempt that it took his breath away.

“Degenerate pervert,” Craig spat the words as he closed the distance between them. “He deserved to die!”

Justin felt Gus trembling in his arms, heard his tears start and yet he could still do little more than stare mutely as Craig reached out and stroked the boy’s cheek.

“You’re too young to understand this now son, but you’re much better off this way.”

It was Melanie who reacted first, stepping right up in Craig’s face. “Don’t you dare touch my son you son-of-a-bitch!”

“Don’t Mel,” Justin said, pulling her back.

“The fuck I won’t,” Mel screamed, but Justin pressed Gus into her arms and implored her.

“Please, Mel, take him!” He pushed them in the direction of the waiting limos. “Get him out of here!”

Lindsay was already tugging her towards the car with Ben and Emmett flanking them. Mel shot Craig a look that could have cut steel as they herded them into the limo. “Fucking asshole.”

When they were safely inside and the car pulled away, Justin turned around again to face his father. Anger coiled in his chest, curled around his heart like a snake, constricting it with its cold, deadly embrace. It pushed out the fear and sadness and grief until all that was left was rage.

“You fucking monster. He’s just a little boy.”

“I’m not the monster here, Justin. You and your deviant friends brought this on yourselves. Kinney got what he deserved.”

The rest he only remembered in fragments – a montage of sounds and images that he could neither completely recall or forget. His father’s jaw shattering when his fist connected the first time. The absolute satisfaction of seeing him drop to his knees. Jennifer shrieking at Carl to do something - Ben and Drew holding the detective back when he tried. Get up, you fucking piece of shit. Knocking him down again when he did. Just a little boy. And again. I’ll always be your queer son. And again. Never again! Strong hands finally pulling him away. ‘Get him out of here, now!’

*~*~*

Justin traced his finger over the scars on his knuckles - faint reminders of wounds that would never really heal. He wished that he could blame Michael and for a while, he had, because it was so much easier than the truth - that ignorance and fear put the bomb in Lonnie Halstead’s hands. That an ugly twist of fate brought Brian to the club that night. That there simply was no reason for any of it beyond man’s infinite capacity to hate what he couldn’t understand, to destroy what he couldn’t conquer.

“Brian didn’t die because of you or me, Michael. He died because the Lonnie Halsteads of the world believe we should be punished for our sins.”

“But he never would’ve been there if it wasn’t for me... Jesus, Justin, there wouldn’t even have been any benefit if I hadn’t asked him for the club. He did it for me,” Michael sniffled.

“It’s time to let it go, Michael. Cut this shit out. Let him go.”

“I can’t,” he muttered. “I fucked up so bad, Justin. How can you not hate me?”

Justin reached into his pocket again, for a cigarette this time. He needed something to occupy his hands and it was that or throttle Michael. He lit one and took a calming drag off it while he considered the question. He waited until Michael finally looked up at him again then answered him honestly.

“I did. For a while, I hated you more than you can possibly fucking imagine.”

Michael groaned audibly. As much as he’d believed in his heart that everybody blamed him, hearing it from Justin’s own lips was like a kick in the stomach. He blinked hard to keep the tears at bay - he wouldn’t cry now. He would face Justin and accept the judgment he’d been waiting two years for.

“I did hate you, but not for the reasons you think.” Justin pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. “God, Michael. Do know how much Brian loved you?”

Michael flinched at the hard edge on Justin’s voice, but nodded his head meekly. “I know.”

“No, I don’t think you do,” Justin continued. “I don’t think you have any fucking idea or you would not be pissing all over his memory like this.”

“I.. I’m not...” Michael stammered.

“Yes, you are, Michael. You’re driving away the people who love you the most for whatever fucked up reasons. You’re killing yourself with this shit," Justin kicked at the empty bottle of JB in frustration, "and you’re doing it in Brian’s name. I should kick your ass for that, you asshole.” Michael’s wide-eyed disbelief was almost comical and it made Justin want to shake him until his teeth rattled - the man couldn’t see the forest or the trees.

“But... you don’t know,” he insisted. “You don’t know what a shit I was to him... the things I said.” Just because we’ve been friends our whole lives doesn’t mean we have to go on being friends. The Brian and Mikey show is over.

“I know, Michael. Everybody knew. You told him to fuck off in the middle of a public art gallery, remember?” Michael winced but Justin was unrelenting. “And I walked out on him in front of everybody we knew, at a party he threw for me. With the guy I was fucking behind his back.” Justin paused and shook his head. “How far back do we go, Michael? Where does it stop? We all hurt him. Just like he hurt us. That’s what happens when you love someone. You get that kind of power, and sometimes... well sometimes you fuck it up.”

“I know. Jesus, I know that.” Michael pressed his fingers into his eyes. “He tried... he reached out to me, Justin. If I’d just told him... told him I still loved him instead of making him come to me like some kind of... I just wanted... God help me, I just wanted to hear him say it. I wanted him to apologize to my face. That’s why he came to the club.” He swallowed the sob that caught in his throat, his voice barely a whisper now. ‘Because I needed to see him come down a peg before I forgave him. I never even fucking asked him to forgive me.” He turned his face up to the deepening blue of the cloudless sky, the tears flowing freely now. “Fuck, I’m so sorry. I’d give anything if I could take it back.”

“But you can’t take it back, Michael. And you know that Brian would be the first one to call bullshit on useless regrets. You know that – you’re the one who taught me about the Kinney Operating Manual. You guys were brothers. That never changed.” Michael’s chin dropped to his chest and Justin took him by the arms and this time he did give him a shake until he looked up again. “He would hate what you’re doing.”

Justin searched the distraught brown eyes and saw the ache in them, as fresh as that day so long ago when he’d seen them through the glass doors of the emergency room. In many ways they were both still caught in that moment and he knew then that there was only one way they could be free of it. He let go of Michael and drew in a deep, deliberate breath then let it out slowly. He closed his eyes and let the memories come again, each one like a knife to his heart, the words spilling from him like blood from the wounds they inflicted. “He was so fucking brave...”

Michael stifled a gasp as he realized what Justin was about to do. They all knew that Justin had been there with Brian... at the end. There were rumors about what had happened. Michael always suspected that Carl knew more than he let on, but nobody ever spoke of it beyond the gossip queens and their whispered tales. Only Justin knew the truth and to Michael’s knowledge he had never shared those last moments with anyone. “Justin, you don’t have to do this...”

But Justin went on as though he hadn’t spoken at all. “He was in so much pain. What it did to him... fucking bastards...” He paused and shaded his eyes with his hand for a moment and gave his head a little shake as if to dispel the images of Brian’s broken body, trapped beneath the wreckage. He wrapped his arms around himself as the memories engulfed him, his face reflecting every bit of the remembered agony. “He knew, Michael... He knew he was dying.” Tears spilled unheeded down Justin’s cheek and Michael knew he was somewhere else now – someplace nobody else could go. “He was so fucking brave. He comforted me," he said, sounding almost pissed about it. “The fucker knew he was dying, and he was comforting me. But he was so weak... it was killing him just to breathe. He tried so hard to hang on...” Justin pressed his fist hard against his lips as if to stop any more of the memory from escaping, but seemed unaware of the tremors in his right hand as it clenched in his lap.

Michael reached for it without thinking and stilled it with a gentle squeeze. It took a moment before Justin looked down at their hands and then back up at Michael, his eyes haunted but completely focused now.

“He only asked two things of me, Michael. He asked me to look after Gus, to make sure he didn’t forget about him.”

He paused again and suddenly Michael was afraid – he wanted very badly for Justin to stop right there, because he was fairly certain that what he was going to say next would crush him. Or maybe save him. The bitch of it was, either possibility terrified him. He’d been living with the guilt and shame for so long now he wasn’t quite sure he could let it go. But there was no stopping. Justin coughed lightly to clear away the tears that clogged his throat, then looked Michael right in the eyes.

“The only other person he thought of was you, Michael. He wanted to know that you were okay. That you would be okay. He made me fucking promise him.” Justin let that sink in for a moment. He knew Michael was teetering on the edge – he wore every emotion he owned on his sleeve and it was obvious that he wanted to believe. He just needed permission to do it – a little shove off the cliff. Justin steeled himself and tore a page directly from the Kinney manual. “Do you get that, Michael? Brian’s dying fucking wish was for you to be okay and you’re throwing everything away because you can’t get the fuck over yourself long enough to realize that he loved you his whole fucking life. He loved you. None of that other shit matters. None of it.”

For a moment there was nothing - no reaction at all. Michael sat motionless, silent, so still that Justin started to wonder if he had actually understood him. And then he... well there was no other word for it, he crumbled. Dissolved. Came the fuck apart.

“Oh god, I loved him so much.” He fell into Justin, sobbing. Not the drunken, self-pitying tears he’d been crying for two years. For maybe the first time, he was crying for Brian, his friend, his brother. His hero. “I miss him, Justin. I miss him every fucking day,” Michael whispered after a while. Justin put an arm around his friend’s shoulder and squeezed.

“Yeah, me too.”

Justin stood up, brushed the grass and dirt off his pants and then reached down to him. “Get off your ass, Novotny. I’ve got a party to get to.”

Michael looked up, squinting into the setting sun and nodded. “Yeah, me too.”

And somewhere, Justin knew without a doubt, Brian smiled.

*~*~*

Epilogue

 
 
 
nothing-rhymes-with-iantoqafkinnetic on September 14th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
I havent started reading this yet, but I just want to say, Yay! I love this story so much. Seriously. When I need to get into an angst-fic writing mood or when I need inspiration, I go back and read this. It's amazing. Thanks! (I'll probably comment again once I've read it)
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
Wow. There are so many truly wonderful writers in this fandom (including yourself) that to be considered any kind of inspiration is a huge compliment. Thank you so much. I hope it doesn't disappoint!
sjmpetssjmpets on September 15th, 2010 01:22 am (UTC)
i cried, i cheered, i fucking loved it. thank you.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
And I thank you. Can't ask for more than that!
marny1: brian + justin in bedmarny1 on September 15th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
This is so beautiful * sitting here with tears in my eyes *
Thanks for the update.

I need that epilogue now ... please don't wait to long.

* hugs *
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
*hugs back* I shed a few tears for our boys this time, too. Thank you for the compliment and the comment.
ergenieergenie on September 15th, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
omg!!!... i am a mess rite now!!!.. .in the middle of the office and all i can do is bawl my eyes out!!!.... this is so heart-wrenching.... but so beautiful to read!!...
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 08:45 am (UTC)
Ohhh, fanfic and the office aren't a good combination! I've had to explain tears (and laughter) a couple times myself. *g*

I'm glad to know it touched you that much though. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
nothing-rhymes-with-iantoqafkinnetic on September 15th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Commenting again now that I've read it!
Your amazing. This is amazing. The communication between Justin and Michael is wonderful. I love how you worked Craig into the plot, that's really nice.


"Questions? How about why did I hurt the only man I’ve ever loved? Why couldn’t I see that it was only ever a matter of time until he trusted in that love enough to believe in our future? Why couldn’t I be as patient with him as he was with me? Why did I claim to be ‘on to him’ like some smug little asshole, and then treat him as though he didn’t have any feelings at all? Why couldn’t we have just a little more time so I could tell him... tell him that none of that other shit was important? Why the fuck did he have to die? "

^ that is amazing. This story seriously makes me cry every time I read it.
I wish I had the words to describe how beautiful and incredible this story is, but I dont.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC)
Oh I'm glad to know the Craig part worked - I was a little apprehensive to portray him quite so monstrously, but then I went back and watched his scenes from the show and I felt like he really did have that much cruelty in him (thinking of him ramming Brian's Jeep, of kicking him when he was already on the ground outside Babylon). I think Justin could have stood it all, except for him touching Gus.

Thanks for coming back, and again, for the comments. Knowing that it touches somebody is the best form of payment there is. ((hugs))
Anna: brianadoringaudience on September 15th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
I probably said this before and I'm gonna say it again: This is painful to read. But, oh, so beautiful. Thank you.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
Well I appreciate you saying it once and really appreciate you saying it again. Thank you!
federicafefaxx on September 15th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
A while ago I promised myself to avoid any story which had the words "death fic" in the summary... Somehow I kept that promise till last January. I really can't explain what made change my mind about it, but I'm glad it happened and I want to thank you with all my heart for all passion and love you have put into it. Read your story was worth every tear I cried chapter after chapter, all the sadness I have brought inside me during these months, the whole fear I felt every time I saw your updates just to read at the end of this journey these words:

"Sometimes it feels like I’ve loved him my whole life,” he’d begun when he was finally able to speak. “I guess maybe I have, because my life... my real life began the day I met him.” He paused and smiled softly at the child in his arms. “Brian was the best man I’ve ever known".

"And somewhere, Justin knew without a doubt, Brian smiled".

Thank you again. Now I'm going back to stick to my promise.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 09:02 am (UTC)
I appreciate every single person who has read and commented, more than I can ever say, but I am most grateful to those who were willing to look beyond the death!fic warning and take a chance on the story. Thank you so much for that, and for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
whatever, whatever: (qaf)314 b/j hugcamelhaircoat on September 15th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
I've been thinking about this since last night because I've been trying to come up with a comment worthy of it, but I can't. It's still just that beautiful. I've been kind of waiting for the next part but kind of not, because that would mean the end, which is so strange for a death!fic - but then this is not like any other death!fic, now is it?

Your story continues to be one of the most beautifully and thoughtfully written pieces I've read here. Even in the instance where it was not hard to figure out what Carl was going to say, the scene was still gut-wrenching and suspenseful in execution.

I'm looking forward to the epilogue, though sad that that will mean the end of the story - though if it ends at the party I'll actually be happy. Selfishly I'm not ready to see Justin move on with someone new just yet even though that's def what Brian would have wanted.

See what you've done, gotten us all so involved - to me that's a nod to your talent and I just hope this won't be your first and last fic!

*Hug*
Amy
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your sweet, thoughtful comments. It was well worth waiting for. As long as it's taken me to get here, I, too, am almost sorry to see it come to an end. I don't really think I'm quite ready for Justin to have someone new, either (but I do want him to heal his broken heart). So, I hope that the epilogue will satisfy us both!
(no subject) - camelhaircoat on September 15th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - q_dicted on September 15th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
templeton_matempleton_ma on September 15th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC)
Gosh. I have been waiting for this chapter for a while... And it certainly didn't disappoint. The guilt and regret that Justin carried... It's unimaginable how hard it must be for Justin to just try to get through one day at a time. Justin is the youngest of them all and yet he has to endure so much. I keep thinking throughout this chapter that this is why Brian fell in love with Justin. And despite (or in spite of) what Justin and Brian went through, Justin and Brian certainly deserved each other's love. Death didn't and couldn't change that. Thank you for yet another brilliant chapter. Too bad I will have to wait till I come back from vacation to read the epilogue. I so look forward to "seeing" Brian at the party *sniff*
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
Oh yes they deserved each others love! Even though they took a few detours along the way, I (like Daphne *g*) always believed in the inevitability of Brian and Justin. They will always be a part of each others hearts. Thank you so much for sticking with the story and for your kind comments.

Edited at 2010-09-16 02:02 pm (UTC)
anyusa0030anyusa0030 on September 15th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
loved this so much glad you finished it,as i told you before this is, in my opinion the best death fic ever written in this fandom, am not even in this fandom anymore but i had to come and read this.dont hate me please this is not a critism but it bothered me that you used citizen for the truth as the name of the hate group given that thats what brian called himself when he risked everthing to defeat stockwel.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you once again for the amazing compliment, and I'm sorry you're not in the fandom anymore, but I appreciate you coming back to finish the story.

On the Citizens For Truth name - it's interesting that you caught that. When I was researching those kinds of organizations (and there are far too many of them out there) the first one I saw was Americans For Truth and I wondered if maybe Brian(CowLip) came up with Concerned Citizens for the Truth as a response to that. So when I was trying to decide on a name for this hateful splinter group it seemed appropriate that they (being a group of Pittsburgh people who probably voted for Stockwell) might choose that as an F.U. to those who helped defeat him.
(no subject) - anyusa0030 on September 15th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
amaranthink: B/J - B&W chin gripamaranthink on September 15th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
Like camelhaircoat I have been thinking about this chapter since I read it last night and I just can't think of anything to say. Everything seems inadequate. It's brilliant and flawlessly written and achingly, heart-wrenching but oh so beautiful. I cried and cried and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've been impatiently waiting for this chapter and am eagerly awaiting the epilogue. I'm so happy you finished it but I knew that whatever you posted would rip my heart in two. And it didn't disappoint.

Like others have said before, Brian is present in every word of this story, before and after the bombing. I could especially feel him in this one. These lines nearly killed me:

He got on a plane and went to Hollywood and fucked a movie star while Brian planned his funeral

Justin laid the bag across his lap and carefully smoothed the wrinkles out, tears pricking the backs of his eyes as he imagined Brian’s outrage at the abuse of his precious clothes.

“He knew, Michael... He knew he was dying.”

“Sometimes it feels like I’ve loved him my whole life,” he’d begun when he was finally able to speak. “I guess maybe I have, because my life... my real life began the day I met him.”

Thank you for this gift and I sincerely hope that you will continue to write and share your talent with us.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Not inadequate at all - in fact, just the opposite. Thoughtful and kind and oh so appreciated. I, too, have said it before, but the most important thing to me in telling this story was to keep Brian very much present, and to know that I've succeeded in that makes me very happy.

I think a lot of truths were faced in this part, both for Justin and for Michael and they killed me, too. I am just glad that Justin believed in Brian's love for him enough to finally be able to help Michael heal. All our boys are very special people (even if one of them needs a good smack upside the head every now and then).

Thank you so much for sticking with the story even through all the tears.
(no subject) - q_dicted on September 15th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
upsadaisymaisieupsadaisymaisie on September 15th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Love this story so much and so delighted to see that you're finishing it. Will wait for epilogue and then reread from the beginning again, even though the first time around the tears rolled down my face. Such a heartbreakingly beautiful story.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 15th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you - and I hope you enjoy the end when you read it. I'm shooting for this weekend.
rulisteningbjrulisteningbj on September 15th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
I started reading this story from the beginning today. I have cried so much that I can't breath. I hate that Brian died, but you did a fabulous job writing this. You have a gift. Looking forward to the Epilogue maybe there will be a little bit of happiness in it. Please!

Dee Dee
q_dictedq_dicted on September 16th, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)
Welcome! How neat to have a new reader this far in. I know (or hope!) that reading it through in one shot is an emotional ride and I appreciate you sticking with it. I hope the epilogue satisfies, too. Thank you for taking the time to comment!
manuela: brian&justin [making love-finale]manueladb on September 16th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC)
I'd like to be able to tell you how much this story touches me and how great I think it is, but words fail me.
It's a death fic and it's hreatbreaking but it's also beautiful because Brian is still present, you can feel him, and Justin is so brave and their love is so strong and goes beyond death.
I really loved this chapter and the moment between Michael and Justin. They share something special: the love for Brian and the love they got from Brian.
I'm looking forward to read the epilogue, even though I'm kind of sad it's gonna be the end, because as sad as the story is, it's amazing.
I hope you'll be writing more stories in future. You're gifted.
q_dictedq_dicted on September 16th, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind words (they didn't fail you - they are beautiful). I am glad you feel the special connection between Justin and Michael - I think that by that time in canon they had developed a real friendship, and I can't imagine a tougher test for it than losing Brian this way. I love that Justin trusted in Brian's love enough to be able to give that gift to Michael in the end - to release him from his guilt and to let him know just how much Brian loved him, too.

Sarah: brian/justin treasure (zaipixie)gundamnook on September 17th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
OMG... you made me cry all over again! Wonderful! Truly wonderful! Can't wait for the epilogue! :)
q_dictedq_dicted on September 17th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Sorry about the tears (okay, not really ;-). I hope the epilogue doesn't disappoint. Thanks so much for the compliment and the comment.