Spoilers: S1, S2, S3 and none for S4. Unless you count the haircut.
Summary: I suck at summaries.
Line me up in single file
With all your grievances
Still, but I can taste you're still
Alive below the waste
~ Tori Amos, Pandora's Aquarium
Brian stood shirtless and barefoot on the hardwood floors. His jeans rode low on his hips, and he felt the frayed hems graze the tops of his feet.
He also hung suspended in midair, a white scarf around his neck. His dick was flaccid, still clutched in his hand. His face distorted, and already purple.
Brian ran a hand down his chest as he studied his body swinging from the rafters. He marked with interest the come spattered on the floor, arcing far across the room.
The best orgasm of his life.
So good he still felt outside of himself, still felt the hum of it under his skin, pulsing through him, making him feel lighter than air. Free. Giddy. Brian couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this alive.
Funny that that should be the thing to clue him in to the fact that he was dead.
He wondered if he should be panicking.
The loft was silent except for the soft creak of the rafters as his body swung slightly. Brian fisted a hand in his hair and tried to think. He should be more upset. After all, he was dead, for Christ's sake.
All in all, though, it didn't seem that bad. Wasn't this the way it should be?
He'd never have to worry about losing his youth. His beauty. His hair. He'd be like Kurt Cobain, John F. Kennedy. And he wouldn't be like Elvis--old and bloated, dead on a toilet.
No, he'd be a star, brilliant in his passing, shooting (his come) across the sky (loft) in a blaze of gorgeous ecstasy. He should be proud. He'd always be young and he'd always be beautiful. He'd never grow old and die.
Well, he'd never grow old.
Brian stretched his hands out in front of him; he looked solid. He patted down his chest, ran his hands over his jeans. He felt solid, too. Maybe it was a dream?
He stepped forward, not hearing hear the pad of his bare feet on the hardwood floors. He stood inches from his body, watching it swing slowly back and forth, his toes pointed down and his eyes rolled up.
Brian's heart pounded, dull and fast. He'd fucked up.
He stared at the overturned chair he'd used for balance as he'd jerked off. He remembered the scarf biting into his neck, and the way even the finest material chafed when pulled that tight across skin.
He smoothed his hand across his throat and didn't feel any tenderness.
Oh, yeah. He'd fucked up all right. But, had there ever been any other option?
He'd been a fuck-up as a kid, a fuck-up as an adult, so this fuck-up seemed fitting. Flame fast, die young; no one would ever forget him. He'd be a legend--the King of Liberty Avenue, gone in a blaze of glory.
Everyone would mourn his loss. The boys at Babylon would recount the times they'd been fucked by him, and the ones who'd never had the pleasure would lie and say they had.
They'd name a room after him at the Liberty Baths.
Babylon would host an annual Brian Kinney night. Probably. Well, for a few years anyway. Until someone just like him came along and took his place. Until Brian Kinney was just a memory that lived in the minds of his friends.
His family. Lindsay. Brian could imagine how beautiful Lindsay would be at the funeral. Her pale skin accentuated by the black, her tears tasteful and sincere. She would hold Gus and people would hug them both, telling her how sorry they were for her loss, and Gus'.
Gus would be okay without him. After all, Lindsay and Melanie had taken out a great deal of insurance on Brian's life just in case something like this happened. Well, not exactly this. Lindsay probably never imagined this particular scenario.
Brian could see how his death could even be best for Gus in the end. He would have an idealized father instead of the fuck-up Brian would have been. Lindsay would tell him, "Your father was beautiful and brilliant. Your father was loving and kind to you. He cared for you more than you'll ever know." And none of it would be a lie. Not yet.
She would tell him, "Your father lived with no regrets, no apologies. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and he never looked back. He was a strong man, a proud man and he lived life on his terms."
She'd leave out the part about him dying with a scarf around his neck and his come on the hardwood floor. Gus could believe he had the best father in the world; he'd never know just how horribly Brian would have failed him had he lived.
It would have been nice, though, to see Gus grow up, to know if he would be handsome like his father, refined like his mother, or a bitch dyke like his other mother. It would have been cool to be the only parent with any idea of how to have a good time. And Gus would have admired him--at least for a while.
But, this way Gus could have a hero--like the father Debbie had created for Michael.
Mikey would be better off, too. He'd finally be completely free. There would be Oregon and the Doc--a whole life without Brian. Not that Brian actually thought that relationship (or whatever-the-fuck those dickless faggots were calling it) would work out, but--
At least Mikey would stand a chance.
If he didn't let the memory of Brian become his next big excuse to stay pathetic, that is. And Brian could easily see him doing that, devoting his little Mikey-life to being the keeper of Brian's memory. He'd probably take over Brian's place with Gus, feeding the kid over-blown ideas about how wonderful Brian had been. Hell, he'd probably make Gus feel like he'd been cheated out of knowing the most amazing man that ever lived.
Mikey would leave out all the little things that made Brian who he was, all the parts that hurt, all the parts that were true; the core of Brian would be dead and buried, conveniently erased from memory.
He didn't know why that bothered him so much.
Brian wanted to know that someone would remember that he was an asshole. He wanted to know that someone would tell Gus the truth and say, "Your dad was a total prick. All that no apologies bullshit? Just an example of how fucking selfish he was--"
No, if Brian was going to imagine someone telling Gus the truth, why not go all the way? The truth was he wanted someone to tell his son that he'd had been afraid. He wanted someone to tell Gus, "Your father was fucking terrified and that's why he was such an asshole."
But no one would tell Gus these things. And no one would explain that Jack and Joanie Kinney had taught Brian what Lindsay would make sure that his son never learned--no one could love him, so everyone else be damned. It was best to hit first. Hurt first.
Brian didn't know why he wanted Gus to know these ugly truths. Maybe because it just seemed fair; it just seemed honest. Even if Gus had the best imaginary father in the world, was that better than knowing the real thing was a human that bled red and lived with demons?
But Brian always was a selfish fuck and he wanted to know that he'd be remembered for who he really was--not as some sick parody. He wanted someone to tell his kid, "It's okay to be afraid. Your dad was, too. Just don't deal with it the way he did."
No, it would be better for Gus to deal with it head-on. The way that Justin always did, the little shit. He was at his prom tonight, probably dancing with Daphne while Brian's body swung back and forth, around and around.
Justin was an annoying brat, but something about him had always made Brian come back for more. It was more than the wild arousal he inspired, so carnal that Brian couldn't shake it. Didn't want to shake it.
And it was more than Justin's tight ass, his wide eyes, or his sly smile; the one that pushed Brian's buttons in ways he couldn't begin to explain, making him want to simultaneously slap and fuck the kid.
No, it was more than all of that.
Justin claimed to be on to him. He said he saw past the bullshit and Brian believed him. Maybe Justin would be the one to tell Gus the truth.
Brian's body, the one hanging from the rafters, continued to sway slowly as he backed away from it, silent and easy. He felt unimpaired by weight or gravity. He might have been floating, but when he looked down, his feet seemed to be were touching the floor.
Brian wondered who would find his body. Mikey? Justin? Hopefully not Lindsay and Gus--even though Gus would never remember it, Brian didn't want to imagine Lindsay finding the father of her son in this state.
"So I'm dead," he said aloud.
"Yes, Sonny Boy, you're as dead as me."
Brian turned his head slowly to find his father leaning casually against the kitchen island. He crossed his arms over his chest and tried to calm the pounding of his heart. "Well, fuck if Mom wasn't right, after all. Faggots do go to hell."
Jack laughed, shrugged. "Sure. This can be anywhere. It can be heaven, or it can be hell if you want." He paused, looking thoughtful. "But that's true when you're alive, too. I wish I'd known that. It's a shame they only let you know the good stuff after it's too late to use it."
Brian glared at his father, and couldn't think of anything to say. Death seemed like a reasonable excuse for being rather slow.
"But that's the thing, see," Jack continued. "If you know the good stuff when you can use it, then you don't learn."
That made no fucking sense.
Brian turned his back and walked past his hanging body to sit down on the couch. The leather felt cool and far away on his back. He stared out the adjacent window, watching the city lights blink in the night.
Jack was dead, but he was here, confirming that Brian, too, had died. He wondered if this really was hell, then. Was he locked here with his dead body and his father forever?
Or maybe this was a really, really bad trip.
"No such luck, Sonny Boy." Jack sat next to him on the couch.
Brian groaned and covered his eyes. "I could use a drink."
"Okay," Jack said.
Brian blinked as a glass half-full of what looked like Beam appeared in his hand. He frowned and then sniffed the liquor. Smelled like Beam. In fact, it had a very strong odor and the glass felt more solid in his hand than the couch felt against his bare back.
This had to be a bad trip. It was too fucked up to be death.
Although, if his mom was right about the destination of faggots, then this would make perfect sense. So, this was hell: spending eternity with his father. Christ, he'd always known the Christian God was one sick fuck.
"Sonny Boy? Do you really want this?"
Brian turned to Jack. "Pardon me if I'm a little slow on the uptake, Dad, but I just died." Brian jerked his thumb over his shoulder, indicating his body. "Can you give me a better fucking idea of what the fuck you're talking about?"
"Don't let the Warden hear you talking like that." Jack winked.
Brian stared at him.
"Brian--Sonny Boy--you're dead. No need to deny it."
"Who said I was denying it? My corpse is fucking hanging from the ceiling. What the fuck else am I going to think?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "I'm trying to do you a favor here. I don't have all day."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"I'm asking you if you really want to be dead."
Brian stared at him.
"Because there are other options."
Brian stood in the middle of a room full of dancing teenagers.
Jack whirled around him in a black tux and dancing shoes. Brian watched as his father held his arms out, embracing an imaginary partner, and fox trotted across the dance floor, miraculously avoiding all of the kids.
Just as Jack disappeared into the crowd, he whispered from Brian's side, "This is the other option."
"What the fuck--"
"Shh. Just watch. This is what happens if you're not dead." Jack motioned around the room. It whirled with color and youth; lights twinkled in potted trees, music pounded out a fast rhythm and a blonde girl with a red dress rushed past Brian toward a group huddled around a table as skinny geek followed her doggedly.
Brian blinked. "If I'm not dead? But I thought you said I am dead."
"You are. But this is option number two. Just a small step to the right and here you are. See?"
"No, I don't fucking see."
"You will." Jack pointed across the room and the knot of kids seemed parted like the Red Sea.
Brian saw Justin dancing with Daphne. He looked--amazing. His hair was brushed back from his face, his tux fit perfectly and he was grinning, laughing at something Daphne was saying to him.
"Justin--" Brian started.
Jack touched his arm; his fingers felt more real than the floor beneath Brian's feet, the touch of air on his back, the rush of bodies past him as he stood in the middle of the dance floor.
Then another Brian was there, sweeping across the room in a black tux, the white scarf around his neck, loose and open. Brian watched himself in awe. He was stunning. Hell, he'd fuck him.
"I'm not dead."
"Not here, no."
Brian watched his other self scan the room until his eyes landed on Justin--who stood with his mouth open in undisguised surprise. The music changed.
"What am I doing here? I told him--"
"You told him you wouldn't come."
"He expects too much," Brian murmured, watching as he guided Justin to the dance floor. He felt the familiar wild elation, the one that only came when he was around Justin.
"He expects exactly as much as you can give him," Jack said. He pointed at Brian dancing around the floor. "It's too bad he doesn't know that. It would save him--well, it would save you--a lot of pain in the end. But, like I said, they don't let you know the good stuff until it's too late."
Brian remained silent, smiled as he watched himself dip Justin and pull him up for a kiss. This was good. This was better than being dead. Why wouldn't he choose this?
The loft was just the way he'd left it. His body still hung suspended, his face a deep purple.
Brian felt a tug of panic, the first touch of fear he'd experienced since finding himself outside of his body, watching himself hang. He didn't want to see this twisted, horrific corpse. He wanted to be back at the prom with Justin, watching them dancing and kissing. Living.
Jack wasn't there. He was alone.
The fountain was a huge concrete construction, not at all beautiful, but entirely functional. Water spilled over a center rise and pooled in the deep basin. Jack sat on the edge of the fountain, his pants rolled up and his feet dangling into the water.
Brian blinked, looking around. "I was at the loft."
"And now you're here. You're one smart kid, Sonny Boy."
"Are you going to tell me what the fuck is going on any time soon?"
"You liked what you saw, right? The prom and that boy--" Jack smiled knowingly. "I know more than you do about him--and about the two of you together. Do you want to know? Would it make a difference in what you choose?"
"There is no 'two of us'."
Jack nodded and laughed. "Right. It would be okay with you if he was the one to find you?"
Brian's stomach dropped and his blood ran cold. The idea of Justin--smiling, happy Justin--finding him hanging there, bloated, ugly, destroyed. No. No, that wasn't okay with him in the least.
"I see that it wouldn't." Jack's eyes glinted. "So, would you trade? Would you rather he died instead of you?"
Brian's eyes flew wide. "What kind of question is that?"
"A good one, because he's going to make a choice about his life tonight, too." Jack stood up, grabbed his arm. "Okay, let's take another peek."
The parking garage seemed to echo with silence.
Jack wore his bowling shirt and grey slacks; he darted past Brian to roll a blue bowling ball between the cars. It made no sound as it bounced down the pavement, disappearing when it hit Brian's Jeep, bursting like a bubble.
"Where are we now?"
Jack whirled around, lifting his arms dramatically. "This, Sonny Boy, is the scene of the crime, the moment of truth, the way it is in every reality, no escaping it. Just endless variations on a theme."
Brian turned at the sound of a door slamming shut. Laughter and clattering footsteps preceded his other self, who was dancing with Justin toward the Jeep.
Brian felt himself divided, part of him standing aside and watching the events unfold and part of him seeing through the other Brian's eyes, looking at Justin's radiant face, feeling the sick thump of his heart in his chest when he realized that these feelings were dangerously close to--
He felt the strong push away from any acknowledgement, as well as the soft glide of Justin's lips.
Brian pulled back into himself and watched from a distance, panic starting in his stomach and spreading through his limbs. "Jack--Jack--" Brian looked around and saw his father casually leaning against a nearby car. "Jack, stop this. Stop it now."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Sorry, Sonny Boy, I don't have the power to do that."
It wasn't good. Brian didn't know what was going to happen but it was devastating and he felt it coming, rushing toward them, and he knew that he and Justin would be taken completely unaware.
A figure darted from behind a pylon and--
Brian ran, ran, ran. But it was too late. He heard his voice call from somewhere behind him. "Justin!" He heard the slam of a car door, the racing feet, the violent crack of a bat against Justin's head, his own voice whimpering, "No, no, no, no--"
He stood by helpless as blood pooled on the pavement. The other Brian dropped to his knees and cradled Justin close.
"Help him!" Brian yelled. "Help him, you son of a bitch!"
Jack, leaning against a car, shrugged and shook his head.
There was so much blood. Brian bent low, tried to stop the flow, tried to touch, but he was vapor and mist--the scene morphed. Justin lay on the pavement alone, then cradled by Daphne, then by Brian, then by Daphne, then alone.
"Like I said, every reality--it's your choice if you're going to be there and it's his choice if he's going to return."
Brian turned to his father. "Fuck you." He raged across the garage and grabbed Jack's shirt, lifting him up. "Stop this. Help him."
Jack didn't blink.
His corpse lay on a stretcher and Mikey sat next to it, freaking out.
Brian's heart, broken from the events in the parking garage, felt as if it was being shredded as he watched Michael sobbing, rocking, holding himself.
Brian went to him, kneeled beside his best friend, the only person he'd loved until--
He tried to touch Michael's hair, but it was useless. "It's all right, Mikey."
Michael didn't respond.
Brian shuddered at Jack's whisper in his ear. "Pretty ugly, isn't it?"
Brian curled over and found wetness on his cheeks; he'd joined Mikey in tears.
Water lapped at his feet.
Brian opened his eyes and uncurled himself. He was no longer kneeling next to Michael, but instead sat on the edge of the huge concrete fountain, his jeans soaked up to his ankles. He dropped a hand to let his fingers trail in the water; it was warm. He thought of Justin, and the blood running red on the pavement.
"I don't want him to die."
Jack kneeled in the water before him and splashed water in Brian's face. "Then don't let him, Sonny Boy."
He thought of his bloated body on the stretcher, and Michael's despair.
"I don't want to die, either."
Justin slept snug underneath Brian's arm, hand curled into a loose fist on Brian's chest.
From the side of the bed, Brian watched himself holding Justin and marveled aloud, "I care about him."
"You love him," Jack whispered from just behind his shoulder. "And you will love him even more."
Panic rushed through him like a flock of butterflies. He turned to his father, wanting to deny the words, but then his other self woke up.
Brian again felt himself separating--part of him standing, watching, and another part of him seeing through the other's eyes, breathing his breaths.
Warmth suffused his chest and he felt--
Oh fuck. He pulled back and blinked. His other self was watching Justin sleep. Oh fuck.
"How did this happen?"
"You wanted him to live, right?"
"And you wanted to live, too, right?"
Brian rolled his eyes. "Yeah." Even in death his father brought out the adolescent in him.
"This is what happens if you both live."
Brian watched his other self absently stroke Justin's shoulder and then reach for a cigarette. He felt the warm glow in his chest again, let his eyes linger on Justin's sleeping face.
Oh fuck. It was true. He was falling in love.
The fountain was filling up like a bath, the water getting higher and higher. Brian thought he should pay attention. But all he could think about was the warm feeling that meant--
"How bad does it get?" Brian ran a hand over his face and tried to imagine how this could have happened.
Jack laughed, slapped him on the shoulder. "Bad enough."
"It also apparently gets pretty good." Jack winked. "For a fairy and all."
Brian glared at him.
"Want to see how good it can be?"
"Shit no. I want to know how to stop this from happening. I don't do love."
"And I was the best dad in the whole wide world." Jack rolled his eyes. "Good luck on that front, Sonny Boy. From where I'm standing, it looks like you're already in pretty deep."
Brian turned to face the fountain and watched the water spill over the edge.
Brian was alone. But not alone, because he was also in the bed with Justin, who had apparently shaved his head, leaving a dark blond fuzz.
Justin's head rested on Brian's chest. His eyes closed and his breathing even. Brian lay awake, smoking. Occasionally one hand curled up to caress Justin's head while the other guided the cigarette between his lips and flicked the ash off the side of the bed.
He looked peaceful. Relaxed.
Justin stirred, his hand dipping under the covers. Brian smiled, and his rich chuckle reverberating from the walls. "You're ready for another round?"
Justin's hand moved more quickly beneath the blankets. "You're getting old and decrepit, huh? Can't keep up with me."
Brian lurched into motion, flipping Justin easily and pinning him to the bed. "You're the one who passed out cold. I've been waiting for you to get your second wind for almost an hour."
Brian reached for a condom, before taking Justin's mouth in a rough kiss. Justin laughed and squirmed while Brian kissed his neck, tongued down his chest and lapped at a nipple.
Brian, watching by the bed, noted that there was no nipple ring. He wondered when Justin had removed it.
Brian smiled and whispered in Justin's ear, "Greedy little fucker."
"Fine, give it to me." Justin ripped the condom from Brian's fingers. "I'll fuck you senseless." Justin sounded resigned and slightly put out. "I always knew you were a secret bottom boy, resenting all the time you've spent pounding my ass."
Brian chuckled, grabbing the condom back. "I don't think so."
"But, Brian, I'll be ever so gentle. I'll make you come ever so hard." Justin opened his eyes wide and looked innocent. "I promise."
"You'd have to grow a dick first, Miss Austen."
Justin grabbed Brian's wrist and forced his hand down. "I've got your dick right here." Then more softly, "Come on, Brian--"
Brian stared into Justin's eyes for a long time, then nuzzled his neck before handing the condom over.
Justin took it, kissing Brian gently and whispering 'thank you' against his lips.
From his dark corner, Brian watched in shock as Justin turned him over, positioned--
Brian lifted his ass to accept more as Justin worked his cock inside; small moans and sighs filled the area around the bed, all from Brian's throat. Justin was good--that much was obvious, the way he slid in to the hilt, his gentle hands smoothing down Brian's back; his expression attentive as he watched Brian's profile, reading pain and pleasure in the movements of Brian's body and adjusting his thrusts accordingly.
"Fuck," Brian whimpered into a pillow, clutching the sheets when Justin snapped his hips. Justin rode him hard and Brian dripped with sweat, lost in pleasure. He pressed back and back for more, his eyes scrunched in ecstasy, and his long legs spread wide, opening himself to Justin's rough thrusts.
Brian watched from his corner, awed to see Justin's skill in driving him, guiding him. He watched as Justin brought him to the brink of orgasm, vocal and strained, then eased him down again, leaving him panting and wiping sweat out of his eyes.
Justin whispered, "I love you. I love you like this."
Brian seemed too out of it to hear, or to give the scathing response such a declaration deserved. Instead, he arched his back and tried to take over the fuck by riding Justin's cock. Justin smirked, bit his lip, and grabbed Brian's hips, steadying the strokes for them both.
"Justin, fuck--" Brian groaned and reached back to grab Justin's thigh, urging him on. "Stop teasing me or next time I'll tie your balls and never let you come."
Justin laughed, but his hips snapped in a rhythm that Brian couldn't seem to resist. Justin held him steady as he fucked him, driving the pleasure higher. Brian's hands clenched and unclenched in the sheets, his hips responding to Justin's. Point and counter-point.
Brian hadn't known that he was so beautiful when he came.
Brian blinked and blinked. And blinked some more. He let Justin fuck him. Sometime in the future, he'd roll over and let Justin fuck him. Because he--
Brian turned to the fountain and found his father sitting on the now-dry ledge, pants rolled up and feet in the water. Jack pointed his finger at him and said, "Why not be honest? You're dead anyway and I already know the answer. Do you love him?"
Brian shrugged. "I don't know. I might. I think maybe--I could."
"What do you know?"
"Ah, well, at this point, I know just about everything there is to know about you. And about me, too." Jack smiled. "Death has its advantages."
"What do you know about me? You've never known the first thing about me. You didn't even know that I was gay until I told you."
"I know that even though I was piss poor as a father, you still love your old Pop."
Brian crossed his arms over his chest. "I've always hated you."
"No you don't, Sonny Boy. Not that I wouldn't deserve it. I wouldn't blame you a bit."
"So you think you can just die, meet me in the godforsaken afterlife, offer me a second chance, or something, and everything is A-O-fucking-kay between us? Is that what you expect from me?"
Jack studied him silently for a long moment. "Sonny Boy, I don't expect anything from you. Not any more. I was wrong for so many things, but it was a relationship we both chose."
"I never chose for you to hit me. I never chose to clean up your vomit or piss."
Jack lowered his eyes. "I was a bastard. It wasn't your fault, but the experience was one you were willing to accept. You'll understand if you decide to stay here. If you go back, then you'll have to wait to know the whys of it all."
Jack nodded sadly. "Fair enough."
Brian ran a hand through his hair, studied his hands and then turned away. "What do I have to do to go back? I'm ready."
"No. You need to see a few more things."
"Like hell, I do."
A party raved around them, the lights blinking red and pink and blue through the room. Posters proclaimed that Rage was the new superhero for gay America. Brian recognized Babylon and blinked in confusion.
Brian licked his lips and scanned the room. He knew what he was looking for now and he found Justin before he found himself. Justin was--
Kissing another guy. It didn't look casual.
Brian swallowed hard. This was ridiculous. Why was his heart burning in his chest? Why did he feel like he couldn't breathe? He was dead for God's sake; he didn't actually need to breathe.
Justin was just a kid. Just a little twink and--
Then he spotted himself, staring at Justin from across the room. He fought the separation from his current state that would let him see through the other's eyes. He didn't want to feel that pain; it was bad enough that he could see it. That old, old, old pain--
It was just as Joanie and Jack had taught him: no one could love him; he was worthless. Justin deserved better, deserved someone who could love him back.
Brian ignored the small hiss that echoed in his mind, "You do love him." Instead, he focused on the pain knifing through his body as Justin turned and walked away from him.
Brave face time.
Jack's hand brought him back, leaving the other Brian to suck it up, to fake it. Leaving him to feel the pain.
Brian threw off Jack's hand and headed toward the door.
The leather sofa was cold against his still naked back. He'd forgotten that he wasn't wearing a shirt.
"Fuck you, Pop." Brian closed his eyes and let his head fall back. "I don't need this shit."
"Actually, you do need this shit. You signed up for it."
"Take your bullshit and hit the road. Get. The. Fuck. Out."
"You never did fight fair, son."
Brian opened his eyes and swiveled his head to look at his father. "Fair? You want to talk about fair?"
"It depends on how long it will take; we've got a few more things to do." Jack looked at his watch. "I guess we've got time. Shoot."
Brian stared at his father's eyes, seeing none of the old rage, the old anger that had driven his father in life. He didn't know what Jack was going to say anymore. He sat in silence, his lip between his teeth.
"So, there's some pain involved. Are you too big of a fairy to take a little pain? The kid leaves you. You're broken-hearted--"
"You mope and you cause problems for Michael. Then you try to move on, but you can't. The kid comes back and, ta-da, happy ending. For a while."
Brian couldn't believe his father had just described him. "That seems a little too lesbian to be me, Pop."
Jack laughed. "Well, I guess you're a giant pussy, Sonny Boy, because it is you. I guess when you get love sick you do it better than the rest.
"What do you mean 'for a while'."
"No relationship is always smooth sailing. Especially not one that involves a Kinney."
Brian raised an eyebrow.
"You're hard to love. Hard to live with."
"Great, verbally abuse me in the afterlife, too."
Jack shrugged his shoulders. "Is it abuse if it's the truth? You wanna hear some more then? That kid has something no one else does--the ability to knock your walls down. He's going to get inside and take you apart."
Brian's nerves stood on end.
"Scared yet?" Jack asked, mockingly. "You should be. He's the one that brings you to your knees."
"Brian Kinney is never on his knees unless he's got a cock in his mouth and, even then, he's in control."
"Well, you can always choose to die. Then you won't be on your knees." Jack raised his brows in a way that Brian recognized too well from childhood. It was the 'now you've stepped in your mess kit' look. The one that told him that either choice he made would be one that put him at a disadvantage.
"That's what I thought." Jack pointed toward the window. "You go over there. I'll be here. Waiting."
He was watching them together again. But this time Brian was on top.
He felt like he shouldn't be there, like he had invaded something private, something intimate. They were moving together, slowly, slowly. He wanted to close his eyes, turn his back and let them have their closeness, but he couldn't.
Justin's hands clutched in Brian's hair; the soft in and out of their breathing filled the room. Their foreheads touched, Justin's toes curled, Brian shifted for a better angle and Justin whimpered with pleasure. Brian knew that sound.
Justin started to speak, "I lo--"
Brian leaned forward and rubbed their noses together before stopping the words with his lips. They stared into each other's eyes as they kissed, as they fucked.
He felt the separation that would allow him to experience the feelings, but he managed to fight it off, holding back because it didn't feel like it was his to share.
And when it became more heated, more urgent, when they came together, he knew--
He would be on his knees.
Sun streaked across the loft like early morning. Jack flipped pancakes in the kitchen and Brian stood at the island, holding a glass of cool, refreshing juice.
"So, you're going back?"
"I didn't show you all the mess, you know. Things get pretty hairy now and then."
Brian shrugged. He wondered how much of this, if anything, he would remember when he went back.
"None of it," Jack supplied.
Brian closed his eyes and debated asking the one thing he needed to know to be sure that going back was the right thing to do. "What happens next?"
Jack smiled. "Ah, that's a good question." He put down the spatula and leaned in close. "There are so many possibilities, but these are the most likely."
Justin sat curled on the couch with a young boy under one arm. They were watching cartoons, and Justin was eating that crap candy cereal that he liked so much.
Not blocking their view despite standing directly in front of the television, Brian looked closer. The boy had to be Gus. He looked just like Brian's third grade class photo, only happier.
"Justin, is Dad up yet?"
Justin shook his head and put his finger to his lips. "You know the score. Quiet, until he's in the shower."
"He better get up. We're going to be late to the zoo."
"You can't be late to the zoo, Gus. It's open all day."
Gus frowned and squirmed out from under Justin's arm. Justin couldn't get his cereal bowl to the coffee table fast enough to catch the running child before he'd launched himself onto the bed, yelling, "Get up! Get up! Get up!"
Brian watched with baited breath as Justin trudged up the stairs to the bedroom, shaking his head and crossing his arms over his chest.
A deep groan filled the apartment.
"You're dead, little man. D. E. A. D. Spells dead," Justin continued to shake his head sadly. "Don't say I didn't warn you when he--"
He watched as his other self lurched forward, grabbed his son around the waist, and started to tickle him.
Justin concluded, "--tickles you to death."
Justin was queening out.
His hands flew through the air and he threw his clothes into the suitcase with no care for wrinkles or order. Brian watched himself stand in the bathroom doorway, eyes down, lips closed in a harsh line.
Brian recognized the posture, felt the sorrow that Brian would never express. Sorry was always bullshit.
Justin turned and yelled, "And that's it? You don't have anything to say?"
A shrug was all he got in response. Only Brian knew how much that shrug really said. Justin shook his head, tears filling his eyes, but not falling. "Okay. Well, then, I guess I shouldn't be surprised."
Brian said nothing in response.
Brian gasped as Justin rushed right through him--
And out the door.
Jennifer, much older, gripped Brian's hand as they sat together in a hospital.
"The doctor said that it was instantaneous," she said.
Brian nodded, oblivious to the tears streaking his face. She touched his hair and he trembled.
In the shadows, turned his back and closed his eyes, willed himself back to his loft. That outcome, he didn't want to see.
Jack smiled cheerily at him as Brian found himself sitting on the edge of the fountain.
"Those are the three most likely outcomes. Or maybe, all three things will happen in the same reality."
Brian rubbed his arms. "I need you to tell me what to do."
Brian turned to him in exasperation. "What do I need to do to make sure I choose the right one?"
"The right one? Why Sonny Boy, haven't you been listening? They're all the right one."
"I don't want--" Brian broke off. "He can't die. And I don't want him to leave."
"That isn't your call."
"Isn't that what this is all about? Choosing our futures? Choosing our lives? Isn't that the lesson here?"
"Yes. And we do. But you're sharing your life now." Jack placed his hand on Brian's arm gently. "How it all turns out? Well, Sonny Boy, Justin has choices, too. And that one just might be his choice."
Brian took a shaky breath.
"You're ready now."
So close, so close, so good, so close, so close, so--
Brian stared in the bathroom mirror; the razor had left his face smooth and bright. He turned to the bedroom, flipping through his closet, wondering what to wear to Babylon.
His eyes followed the white silk scarf draped over the bed and he imagined Justin tied up with it. That'd be nice.
Justin was at his prom. Brian fingered the material, imagining the flash of Justin's grin, the look of astonishment that would come over Justin's face if--
Brian smiled. It wasn't all that much and it would make Justin happy. A hundred blow-jobs happy. And it might be fun to scare the heterosexuals. He pulled out his tux and his night seemed to visibly brighten. Yes, this seemed like the thing to do.
Bone-deep, it felt right.
Author's Notes: Inspired by a discussion in seperis' journal regarding whether or not 101!Brian would choose to pick Justin up at the streetlight if he'd known what 314!Brian would be like and all the crap that happens in between.
Also inspired by The Virgin Suicides soundtrack.
Dedicated to velvetglove, because I associate this story with her home, her attic, her beautiful self. And to gothphyle for being my sweetest QaF email companion.
Thank you to my wonderful beta readers: varadia, burnitbackwards, quinn222, and velvetglove. I may not have taken all of your advice, probably to my detriment, but I pondered each suggestion ponderously. *smiles*
Other musical inspiration: Liquid Diamonds and Pandora's Aquarium by Tori Amos.