Life As We Remember by starlight
Summary:

This is another life that Brian and Justin end up reliving, when they return to help get others lives where they should be. 

 

Lorie you know you're the best beta, but thanks for always being there to help me.

 

Nichelle, you asked me for this and it wouldn't leave me alone. 


Categories: QAF US Characters: Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor
Tags: Out of Character, What if...
Genres: Alternate Universe
Pairings: Brian/Justin, Emmett/Drew, Michael/Other, Other Cast Pairing, Ted/Other
Challenges: None
Series: THE STORY OF OUR LIVES
Chapters: 54 Completed: Yes Word count: 114446 Read: 160782 Published: Jun 18, 2017 Updated: Sep 03, 2018
Story Notes:

DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

1. Chapter 1 by starlight

2. Chapter 2 by starlight

3. Chapter 3 by starlight

4. Chapter 4 by starlight

5. Chapter 5 by starlight

6. Chapter 6 by starlight

7. Chapter 7 by starlight

8. Chapter 8 by starlight

9. Chapter 9 by starlight

10. Chapter 10 by starlight

11. Chapter 11 by starlight

12. Chapter 12 by starlight

13. Chapter 13 by starlight

14. Chapter 14 by starlight

15. Chapter 15 by starlight

16. Chapter 16 by starlight

17. Chapter 17 by starlight

18. Chapter 18 by starlight

19. Chapter 19 by starlight

20. Chapter 20 by starlight

21. Chapter 21 by starlight

22. Chapter 22 by starlight

23. Chapter 23 by starlight

24. Chapter 24 by starlight

25. Chapter 25 by starlight

26. Chapter 26 by starlight

27. Chapter 27 by starlight

28. Chapter 28 by starlight

29. Chapter 29 by starlight

30. Chapter 30 by starlight

31. Chapter 31 by starlight

32. Chapter 32 by starlight

33. Chapter 33 by starlight

34. Chapter 34 by starlight

35. Chapter 35 by starlight

36. Chapter 36 by starlight

37. Chapter 37 by starlight

38. Chapter 38 by starlight

39. Chapter 39 by starlight

40. Chapter 40 by starlight

41. Chapter 41 by starlight

42. Chapter 42 by starlight

43. Chapter 43 by starlight

44. Chapter 44 by starlight

45. Chapter 45 by starlight

46. Chapter 46 by starlight

47. Chapter 47 by starlight

48. Chapter 48 by starlight

49. Chapter 49 by starlight

50. Chapter 50 by starlight

51. Chapter 51 by starlight

52. Chapter 52 by starlight

53. Chapter 53 by starlight

54. Chapter 54 by starlight

Chapter 1 by starlight
Author's Notes:

Most of the tags from 'The Story of Our Lives' apply to this one and some don't. This isn't cannon based except for things that they remember about before.

 

It starts with Justin not knowing anything but Brian being aware.

JUSTIN

 

 

I looked at the guy still sleeping before sneaking to the door, hoping to get out before the guy woke up. Everything was going great until he said the words I dread. Why do guys think they love you, when all you thought was ‘let's have a good time’. I did the whole relationship thing and decided I didn't need the aggravation. I didn’t like the friends he brought with him, who constantly made me sound like a loser because I didn’t think them laughing at my expense was as funny as they did.

 

I know part of it was that I get awkward in social situations. It comes from not having a family or anyone who cared if I was still alive. I grew up in a group home, feeling like the poster child for the rich people who needed an orphan to show they were helping us ‘unfortunate children’. I still never got the limo ride to nowhere. This guy tells us he wanted us to experience what it was like to be him. Which somehow meant riding around the block not touching anything in the car. We were told to thank him for basically telling us our life was a vicious cycle where even if we leave in a limo, we get dumped back by said limo. It really wasn't that bad, just something useless a person who's never been alone didn’t get wasn’t the greatest thing that could happen to us.

 

I was also a gay kid growing up in a home run by the pastor of a church. He was nice, but would constantly talk about the Bible, and that it's teachings were the laws we should live by. Not having anywhere to go meant keeping my secret, because being on the streets wasn't the future I wanted. I didn't skip school, but did everything I could to get a full ride to college. I didn’t study Art, because it wouldn’t feed me or offer a chance at becoming self reliant. I wanted a place that was mine, a place that no one could take away from me. I hated college dorms because I had to share my room, but loved it for what it gave me; the chance to beat the odds that I'd end up at a dead end job, barely supporting myself. It also provided a way to make cash and be left alone. The kids whose parents used cash as a way to keep their spoiled kids happy we're thrilled to throw it my way for term papers they were too busy partying to write themselves. It also made it easier for me, because that meant no one wanted to invite me to do things, because I had their grades in my hands. I spent my days in the library typing out papers, then my nights doing my work. It worked to keep people from trying to befriend me, even my roommate left me alone while he lived up the college experience.

 

I made it out of college and landed a job as the assistant to the owner of publishing house. He was cool with my not wanting to share about my life. He would talk about his family and I would just act like I knew anything about having a family. What I loved about my job was that he let me read manuscripts, and actually wanted to hear what I thought and if it should be published. I remember not wanting to tell him what I thought of a book one of his authors sent, because I honestly didn’t get why someone wasted paper for a book that didn’t seem to go anywhere or make much sense. Sean took one look at me and said he felt the same way. Then told me to send the rejection letter, explaining in my words why we weren’t interested in the book. He read it and asked me if I wanted to stay his assistant or become a junior editor. Like I was going to turn down the chance at securing a future. I busted my ass to make sure he knew I wanted to one day make partner, and four years later I signed on the dotted line and forked over most of the money I’d carefully saved to buy him out. Sean told me he was ready to retire but wanted to leave his business in the hands of someone he knew would keep it going. For a minute I let myself feel what having a father must feel like, then shut it away in a place where it didn’t hurt that I wasn’t his son.

 

I finally had time for a personal life, but still didn't like the idea of anyone seeing the screwed up guy I've always been. I thought I could let someone get close, but I ended up on the outside of the relationship when his friends acted like shits, but somehow he saw it as me treating them like crap. I didn’t need constant reminders that I didn’t belong. My entire life taught me that. So I trick when the walls of my house start closing in on me. Most of the time the guys get that's all it is, but every once in awhile I get one like tonight, who thinks we were destined to meet. Which has me doing the walk of ‘get the hell out and lose the number’. It helps that I don't tell them my name or give them any way to contact me. I like being alone, no one to disappoint me when they live down to what I expect from them. It's also why I don’t fuck the help at my business, I'd have to see them again.

 

I was walking by a diner near the place I left my car and figured I'd get something to eat. It was busy for one in the morning, but it made it so the person serving me wouldn’t feel the need to talk to me. I found a stool near the back and picked up a menu, I needed the large breakfast special, after draining all my reserves on the guy who wanted forever. The waitress came over after screaming at the cook to quit ringing the bell unless he wanted to wear the shit he was cooking. I prayed my waitress wasn’t her, but nope, she stood in front of me popping her gum and asking if I scored tonight since I ordered the biggest item on the menu. I asked for my order to go when she stayed, waiting for me to talk. I smiled, hoping she'd get the message, when the guy in one of the booths got loud, bitching about some jackass saying his boyfriend's book lacked anything a reader wanted to pay to read. I peeked to see, and yep, it was me who turned down the book, but Jesus, it was completely unbelievable and seemed to leap into long, almost lectures, about the meaning of life, which had nothing to do with the subject he was writing. I don’t publish something guaranteed to become a leg prop for a coffee table. I was hoping the waitress would hurry, but she needed to console the guy bitching about me. I was close to saying fuck it, when the guy yells at someone coming in. I'll admit I looked, because I was curious, and he was everything that worked for me. He was all the things I liked, sexy and confident, maybe like me he just liked the fun, without the romantic bullshit. He looked at me when he came in as if he knew me, but the other guy demanded attention and the moment passed. My food was given to me by the cook, and I handed him my money, walking out, figuring it was a waste of my time when they all seemed to be consoling the guy who should have consoled his boyfriend. I didn’t even want to deal with that bullshit again.

 

I made it to my car before the guy ran up to me.

 

“You're in a hurry.” He tells me.

 

“I'm beat, and it sounds like you're friend needed you.” I tell him, putting my food in the car.

 

“Too bad, we could've had fun.” He tells me.

 

“I already did, maybe next time.” I tell him, not really meaning it.

 

“It's only time, later might be too late.” He tells me, like I should change my mind.

 

“I guess I'll miss out.” I tell him.

 

“Brian.” He says.

 

“What?” I ask.

 

“My name, it’s Brian Kinney.” He tells me.

 

“I'll remember that when I regret not taking you up on your offer. Night.” I tell him, getting in and leaving him standing under a streetlight. I kept feeling like I was making the biggest mistake of my life by driving away from him.

 

BRIAN

 

He didn’t even tell me his name, he didn’t remember yet. I hated this part, but our lives weren’t the same as the last one. I spent years trying to find him, and once again we're strangers. It pissed me off when I started to remember and realized Michael was still in my life. Things were different though, because I ended up meeting Emmett and Ted, who were my friends. Ben isn't with Michael, but Ted. Michael’s in love with that fucker Ethan, who thinks he's a writer of the next great novel, but so far produces crap. Mel is here and instead of Lindsay, Mel was my best friend. Lindsay, as far as I know, didn’t exist. It bothered me because of Gus. I just had to believe Justin when he told me before we returned that Gus would come one day.

 

I grew up in a fairy tale home with everything a child could want, but instead of Jack and Joan Kinney being my parents, it was William and Beth Kinney who were my parents. I really wanted to ask why my name stayed the same and most of the people I knew. It really screws with your head to know the names, but they have different lives. Michael wasn’t in love with me, but practically licked his childhood crush Ethan’s ass, because unlike me, Ethan agreed to date him. I almost thanked the fucker for taking care of that issue for me. This life made me want the life I knew Justin and I would have together. So I waited for him to show up, which apparently is still when I'm twenty-nine. Only Justin isn’t seventeen this time.

 

Marilyn also isn't here to tell me anything. I looked for her, but she's doesn’t seem to be in this timeline. Vic is here and so is Deb, but they’re the aunt and uncle to Michael, whose mother died giving birth to him. We met when they attended the church where my parents went. I have parents who don't believe my being gay changes the fact that they love me. It's unreal at times, because once again, I remember everything.

 

I tried to find Justin's parents, but they don't exist. Jen had to be here somewhere, but where? I was happy to know Justin didn’t have to deal with Craig this time, but who did he have? It's questions I don't have any answers to, because I couldn’t  find him. I couldn’t believe he was just sitting in the diner, after years of not seeing him. So when Michael started expecting attention, I walked by in shock. I came out of it when I watched my life leave without a glance back.

 

I went back to see if Emmett was there, since Michael wasn’t my best friend in this life. He barely tolerated me, and it wasn't that upsetting to me. I really want to know why Michael’s life wasn’t the way Vic told me, far away. Kira told me we'd all be together, but it wasn’t going to be in as easy as before. She didn't tell me that I would be staring at me when I saw Justin. It's like he became me in a way. Just what caused it I have to find out, in order for him to fall in love with me again.

 

I looked at the time and laughed that it was late for me. The clubbing and everything just didn’t matter this time around. I had a business to run, not advertising, but art galleries all over the world. I wanted to be there when Justin showed up, but it seemed art wasn't where his life took him. I hated that the world wouldn't see what his art gave them, but like me before, I can still sell anything even if I think it's shit, it's all in the spin. I doubt Justin could live without the drive to paint, it was part of him.

 

Emmett was waiting outside, rolling his eyes at the drama Michael carries with him from life to life. Emmett came from a privileged background, with parents who loved their baby boy to the point that Emmett escaped to Pittsburgh to get away. It was also that Emmett remembered this time, and was waiting for Drew. Who wasn’t a football player, but an actor this time. When we met he practically suffocated me when I knew who he was. He thought he was crazy until we bumped into each other at my gallery. We ended up in business together when Emmett decided bridezillas were not in his future. I still make him plan events, because he's still the best at it, only now he knows wines the way I know the latest fashion trends.

 

“Where have you been?” He asks.

 

“I found him.” I tell him.

 

“Where is he?” He asks, excited.

 

“Left me standing under our light. He doesn’t remember.” I tell him.

 

 

“Fuck.” Which matches my sentiments.

Chapter 2 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I got home to see the kid who wanders to my house, at my steps. I didn’t say anything, just opened the door and let him in. I found him one night when I was walking out of work, he was hiding next to one of the grates to keep warm. He ran fast when I asked if he needed help. The next few days I started leaving food, the way you do when you want to earn the trust of an animal, I hated referring to it that way, but he was almost wild the first time I finally cornered him. I asked a cop who work the beat around my business to let me know if he saw the kid, but not to try to catch him. The cop called to tell me the kid was putting on the coat that I left there, so I went out the back way while the cop waited in the front. The kid practically kicked and screamed, saying he wouldn’t go back to his parents. When I tried to tell him we just wanted to help, he kicked me for all my help. Only a few days later, the kid walks in with the coat on, telling me if I gave him a job, he’d do anything I wanted him to. I let him be a runner for lunch and breakfast, because there wasn’t anything I could legally hire a thirteen year old to do. He followed me home one day when I took the bus, and now comes by each day, saying I need a keeper since I’m an idiot. It didn’t matter to me, because he tended to just get clean and eat whatever I left in the refrigerator and forgot. Maybe it was wanting to hear noise in my house that made me ask him his name after all this time.

 

“Hunter or James, most people just call me boy.” He tells me, cleaning up the plate I left in the sink.

 

I didn’t say anything because the kid saw helping out around the house as his way of paying for his keep. I told the maid to leave things so Hunter didn’t take off. Winter was coming and I didn’t want him on the streets when there were four rooms he could stay in. I planned to see what it would take to be able to be his guardian, because he needed to get an education. He grew on me when he didn’t ask me questions about anything other than if I was planning on wasting food. I handed him the food I picked up and grabbed a beer, before sitting down so he could eat. He didn’t want to talk, but he also seemed to want the company.

 

“You were later than usual.” He tells me, eating.

 

“I hung out with someone, then stopped to get food.” I tell him.

 

“I was going to ask if I could sleep here tonight.” He tells me.

 

“It’s fine, but maybe I should give you a key so you don’t have to wait for me to come home.” I tells him.

 

“You’re really stupid for an orphan, I could rob you and fuck up your house while you're not here.” He tells me.

 

“Why go through all the trouble of cleaning it then, and why do you think I’m an orphan?” I ask.

 

“I don’t like disorder and you don’t have any pictures on your walls and no one comes here. I sometimes walk around here when you’re not home, and like I said no one ever comes here.” He tells me.

 

“I don’t have anyone I trust to come in this part of my life.” I tell him.

 

“Why offer me a key, if you don’t trust people?” He asks.

 

“You could keep people from showing up, because other than the maid, you’re it.” I tell him.

 

“I at least have friends, they might not be the kind of friends most people would want, but we take care of each other. Why don’t you go out and meet someone other than a street kid?” He asks.

 

“You don’t demand things the way others would. We seem to get along without having to talk about anything either of us doesn’t want too. Stay tonight, and I’ll leave you a key, take it or leave it on the counter, your choice.” I tell him.

 

I went to bed, thinking it’s really because the only difference between us was he knew his parents, and lived the life I refused. I went to see where he came from and the mother was passed out in a lawn chair, drunk and stoned, she didn’t even notice when I walked into her place and looked around. There was nothing that said the kid lived there. I wanted him to have the chance to make a future, but I was starting to see public school might not be the way to go. I could ask around to see if there was someone qualified to teach him. I guess my heart is in here somewhere, not that my assistant thinks so.

 

I got to my bedroom and started the shower, before grabbing a towel. When I turned, I swore for a second I saw a guy naked under the shower. Shaking my head at most likely hallucinating after being up all day, or maybe regretting leaving the guy standing on the street. I let it go and headed to bed, since I was meeting with a guy who wanted me publish his book.

 

When I got in Marty had my coffee, still hot, waiting, and my calendar in his hand.

 

“Instead of picking up tricks, why not give a shot at a relationship?” He asks me, it's weird how he always knows everything.

 

“I don't do relationships, people expect to talk.” I tell him, once again.

 

“At least meet someone older than your ward.” He tells me, shaking his head.

 

“Hunter knows his place in my life, do you?” I glared, not that Marty cared.

 

“Cynthia and I are tired of you calling like we don’t have anything to do but cater to your wishes.” He  tells me.

 

“Then find a job that doesn't include being expected to do yours. Which would be to get…”

 

“Ben Bruckner to your office, at least learn their names.” He complains.

 

“Why? When I'm not interested in anything most people offer.” I tell him waiting.

 

Marty leads Ben in, and I was impressed with the body, but had a feeling this was another rejection letter waiting when I saw he had his huge manuscript in his hand. People who read, don't read tomes unless it's historical fact, and I was told this was a fiction.

 

“Why come to me?” I ask.

 

“My boyfriend said you were willing to give unpublished authors a chance. He read it, telling me it needed to be published.” He tells me.

 

“What does your boyfriend do?” I ask, wondering why he based his opinion on his boyfriend who probably didn't want to tell him it sucked.

 

“He's an architect.” He tells me, happily.

 

I almost said if he was building a house, the boyfriend's opinion was great, but I reined in my inner asshole. “Give me a short summary.” I tell him, because people who think they have a best seller will go on and on.

 

“It's about two men who come back after death, they are always meant to find each other.” He tells me.

 

“Rewinds are done a lot, how's yours better?” I ask, ready to tell him no.

 

“They have to remember each other, and get things right to be together.” He tells me.

 

“I’ll read through it, but I'm almost ready to say no. Hopefully I'm wrong.” I tell him, letting him hand it to me.

 

“I guess I should admit that I really cowrote this with a friend, he came to me with it the idea but let me take poetic license with most of it.” He tells me.

 

“Why didn’t he write it himself?” I ask, trying to figure out why I care.

 

“He likes to joke he lived it, and it wasn’t the fairy tale I would write.” He tells me, shaking my hand and leaving.

 

Marty came in, acting excited about the book. “At least read it, it could be the next best seller.” He shoves it in front of me when I tried to throw it in a pile.

 

“It sounds like romantic drivel.” I tell him.

 

“It won’t melt your cold dead heart, just skip the parts that make you want to puke.” He tells me.

 

“Have you read this or something?” I ask.

 

“No, I just think you should.” He tells me, putting it back in front of me when I pushed it aside

 

I read the title ‘Living For You’ deciding Ben needed help on naming his book, and flipped to the first page. It wasn’t something that would have people excited, a death scene to begin. I closed it, but Marty stuck his head in the door, so to avoid him watching me all day, I kept going.

 

BRIAN

 

Mel was sitting at my desk when I walked in, she and her girlfriend wanted to adopt a child. She kept pestering me to go with her, since I told her I wanted a child. I couldn’t tell her I wanted my son and daughter, since she’d start worrying about my mental wellbeing.

 

“Why not come with and meet some of the kids. It would at least give them attention, the foster parents can’t.” Mel begs me.

 

“Why aren’t you and Maryanne not going the pregnancy route?” I ask.

 

“Neither of us have the time with our careers to spend nine months being pregnant.” she tells me.

 

“So you think an instant kid will be easier?” I ask.

 

“Just get off your ass and help me decide if this is the way we should do this.” She tells me, dragging me out of work.

 

I let her drive, while I looked up the directions. The house we pulled up to looked like a daycare, because kids were all over the yard. “Do they all live here?” I ask.

 

“No. We chose here because Linda, who fosters the kids, really cares that they have as normal life as they can while they live with her. She makes sure they meet other kids in the neighborhood.” She tells me, as we walk through the five kids playing in the front.

 

Mel greeted the woman holding a toddler in her arms, and I knew Gus the minute I saw him.

 

“Come in, Jenny’s waiting for you.” Linda tells her.

 

“I could hold him for you.” I tell Linda.

 

“Gussy, you think you’ll not cry?” She asks him, Gus held out his arms to me. “That’s different, normally he throws a fit when anyone touches him.” She tells me.

 

“Brian loves children, I’ve been trying to convince him to adopt, but he seems to think he should have one of his own.” Mel tells her.

 

“I wouldn’t mind adoption.” I tell Linda.

 

“It takes forever if you want a baby, but ones Gus’s age are less desirable to people because they think babies are easier. If you really want to adopt, give kids like Gus a chance to grow up in a loving home.” Linda tells me.

 

I had to leave him, not wanting to, but understanding they wouldn’t just hand Gus over to me. Mel took me to the agency her and Maryanne were using and I started the process, I almost laughed at the background check that wouldn’t be a problem with the family I now had. I took Mel to celebrate a step towards the life I’d spent years waiting for. We were seated in the deli, and there was Justin, eating while reading a book. Once again Justin and Gus are with me on the same day. I went over and sat down, leaving Mel to tell Maryanne everything Jenny did today.

 

“Is it that interesting?” I ask, when he didn’t even look up at me.

 

“I’m not really sure… Oh hi. Brian, right?” He asks.

 

“And you are?” I ask, when he turns the page.

 

“Justin. Sorry I’m trying to get through this.” He tells me, ignoring me.

 

“Why not finish your lunch, since that’s why you came here.” I tell him.

 

“I came here because Marty is being a pain in the ass about this author.” He tells me.

 

“What do you do?” I ask.

 

“Ruin peoples lives when I don’t publish their books.” He tells me.

 

“You really didn’t like Ian’s book?” I ask.

 

“Ian? I thought it was Evan or Eddy, well something like that. Not that I care, when what he wrote was guaranteed not to sell more than the one book his boyfriend would buy.” He snickers.

 

“I would, I’m sure. It could take care of the wobbly leg of my dad’s recliner.” I tell him.

 

“I thought coffee table, but recliner works too.” He tells me. “I don’t get some of the characters in this.” He mumbles.

 

“What’s wrong with them?” I ask, when I see what he’s reading.

 

“He has this guy, who gets this almost childish nickname, thinking his best friend loves him. He spends half the book being told over and over that the best friend doesn’t want him. Yet instead of moving on and meeting someone who might want him, he lives for some childhood promise that they’ll be friends, as if it meant more. It’s like he’s never going to get it.” He tells me, not knowing how true it is.

 

“Some people can’t see past what they want to happen.” I tell him.

 

“I guess, but there should be a point where the guy grows up. The main character waiting five years to tell his soul mate he loved him, wouldn’t inspire me if I was the soul mate. Not that I would fall for that shit.” He tells me.

 

“So if I said, I love you Justin, after just meeting you, you would find that more believable?” I ask him.

 

“Sure, right after I check to see if you’d lost your mind. You don’t fall in love with the first guy you fuck, unless you’re a naive kid.” He tells me.

 

“I think love happens when it does.” I tell him.

 

“Interesting, but it’s all bullshit.” He tells me, getting up to leave.

 

I grabbed his hand before he could go. “Have dinner with me, I feel like celebrating tonight.” I tell him.

 

“I don’t date, I fuck.” He whispers in my ear.

 

“Then come over and have a drink, then we’ll go from there. I wouldn’t mind one last night of mindless sex before I adopt my son.” I tell him.

 

He debated, before telling me to meet him at Babylon. “If I’m not busy, then maybe you’ll get lucky.” He tells me.

 

 

Chapter 3 by starlight

MARTY

 

I swear, my life is going to be nothing but getting these two together. I wanted to ask why we were doing this again when they did everything right in the end, but I doubt the big guy cares what I think. It was strange meeting this Justin, because he wasn't the carefree man who loved only one man. I didn’t get why Justin had to be the one with the shit life. Not that Brian deserved it either, but he'd dealt with it before and understood it. I just pray he doesn't get pissed at what Justin went through, but I am talking about Brian.

 

I was given the choice of which one I would know and I chose Justin this time, because I was there for Brian through it all. I also knew that Brian triggered his own memory sooner than we thought he would. Justin no longer gets any heads up this time. Vic let me know that there was a purpose to all of this, and when I needed to know, I would, but not before Brian this time. It was frustrating that I couldn’t see the way I could the last time, but apparently I used my visions a little too freely and kept screwing them up the last time.

 

I was hoping the book that Ben wrote would get Justin’s memory back, or at least have Justin seeing that this wasn’t the life anyone would really want. I overheard Ted and Ben discussing the book Ben was writing and it sounded like a way to bring the Justin we know and love back to us. Only he seems to see the character’s flaws, not the love story of the ages. When Justin left the deli I went in to see if I could help Brian along. Justin still had his life story in his hands, but looked like he thought it needed to go in the recycle bin. He didn’t do it, but I could tell he wasn’t thrilled he couldn’t put it down. I went in to see Brian telling Mel good-bye, but staying at the table rubbing his face. I sat down in front of him and waited to see how much he knew so far.

 

“Decided you didn’t like the heels anymore?” Brian asks me.

 

“I still have a few, but I decided to try out the butch look this time around.” I tell him.

 

“Have you read the book?” I ask.

 

“Why?” Brian wants to know.

 

“I don’t know, but there’s something about the fact that Ben wrote it that bothers me.” I tell him.

 

“When I mentioned it as a possible novel, he seemed excited. I left it alone because I’m sure it’s going to become a snooze fest, like all of Ben’s work. I guess I was trying to trigger Justin, through Ben.” He tells me.

 

“You're going to have to be clearer this time. My mind reading is sporadic at best.” I tell him.

 

“I remembered everything because of meeting Ian, who is still the same self-important asshole. I was sitting there listening to him talk about himself while Michael agreed, like the ass kisser he is, and during Ian’s self importance speech he compared himself to great musicians and artists. I remembered everything, only because of a small reminder of who the fucker was in my past. I figured if Ben got the book published, there was a possibility that Justin would read it and remember.” He tells me.

 

“You put a lot of faith in possibilities, and after Ben never really writing something he could get published, you seriously thought it would work?” I ask.

 

“Our lives are tied to each other, so yeah. I have faith in how our lives have always tied us to the people we know in some way.” He tells me.

 

“Why did they bring us down again?” I ask.

 

“They didn’t tell you?” He asks me.

 

“No one will tell me. Apparently I didn’t use my vision the right way.” I tell him.

 

“What caused the Justin we're seeing?” He asks, not telling me why we were back.

 

“He was an orphan practically from birth. From what I can find out there's no parents or relatives. When I say find out it, I mean from what little he says.” I tell him.

 

“He's completely alone?” Brian asks.

 

“Other than a certain street kid, pretty much. Hunter found his way to Justin.” I tell him.

 

“They formed a tight bond when Jen adopted Hunter our last time here, so at least that makes sense, when nothing else does.” He tells me.

 

“I wish I could at least tell you what the purpose is this time. I came here wanting to at least give you a heads up on Justin, but you’ve already met him.” I tell him.

 

“I’ve met the heartless shit he wants everyone to believe he is.” Brian tells me.

 

“Trust me, he really doesn’t give a shit about anything. Maybe Hunter, because he lets him stay around, but other than Hunter, Justin doesn’t include anyone in his personal life.” I tell him.

 

“You don’t know Justin, and regardless of this tough outer shell, he's the same man who fought to be with me. Now it's my turn to turn the skeptic into a believer. It's just, with what we were sent here to do, having to win Justin back isn’t something I need added to this pile.” He tells me.

 

“Why are we here? Seriously, I hate that I don’t know.” I tell him.

 

“It’s poetic justice that I know and you don’t.” He smirks.

 

“I plan on being more help this time, I’ve been taking care of Sunshine’s stubborn ass all this time for you. I know this Justin in ways you don’t, and don’t mind sharing to get you two on track.” I tell him.

 

“It’s not about us this time, and unfortunately with all the changes in the people we know, it’s going to become a nightmare to unravel and fix this mess. I’m used to Justin being the voice of reason when I usually want to bulldoze the bullshit and make it what it’s suppose to be. The Big Guy has a sick sense of humor, but then at least he made some things easier this time. I no longer have Michael trying to fuck up this relationship that I AM going to make Justin understand will happen. Lindsay didn’t return, so that’s another point in our favor.” He tells me, as if thinking through what he needs to do.

 

“Do you plan on telling me? And why is Michael no longer a problem?” I ask.

 

“He and Ian are together.” He laughs.

 

“And… come on, I never thought anyone could pry the Michael we know from wanting you.” I tell him, when he wouldn’t answer.

 

“Michael grew up with Ethan being his best friend, but Ethan is still the fucker we know, but without the fiddle this time. I don’t like that he’s still linked to Justin in some way, but it’s the script we know. If Ethan thinks this is going to get him Justin, he’s fooling himself, because Justin barely paid attention to the asshole this time.” Brian tells me, really enjoying this.

 

“Is Justin paying attention to YOU? The Justin I know now isn’t going to fall at your feet the way Sunshine of the past would.” I remind him.

 

“He didn’t brush off the invitation to meet up, which I would’ve in the past. Someone doing what I did, would’ve been a turn off. He taunted me, saying that if he wasn’t busy, maybe I’d get his attention.” He tells me, as if that means Justin wasn’t just blowing him off.

 

“You think it means something?” I ask, confused.

 

“Of course, when I met Justin I tried the same thing. I wanted Justin, even after only one night, but he was everything that scared the shit out of me. I know exactly how he’ll react and how to get around what he’ll do to throw me off the Taylor cliff.” Does he really have to act smug about this?

 

“Enjoy the life you did to him, but maybe give me a clue as to why I had to leave to pamper your asses?” I growl at him.

 

“Here’s a clue, look at the couples and find the missing or wrong pieces of the puzzle. I’ve left it alone, because we have plenty of time to fix what’s wrong.” He tells me absolutely nothing that makes sense. “Who did you meet today?” He asks.

 

“Ben.” I tell him.

 

“Who is Ben seeing?” He asks me.

 

“I don’t know, because like I already said, I don’t get information the old way. I can see what Justin’s doing, but only minutes before he does it, so I have no way to stop him.” I tell him.

 

“Ben is seeing Ted, not Michael. Michael is now with Ethan, not passing the time waiting for me. But that’s because Ethan is all the things that make Mikey’s heart go pitter patter. Michael’s mother isn’t Deb. Deb is his aunt and Vic is still his uncle. Which Vic said wouldn’t happen next time. Although my daughter’s sense of humor has always been twisted, she should have let Michael have the life he could have. She felt Michael needed a little Ethan, because they both thought they should come help me and Justin to do anything but be together. Who’s left out of this?” He asks me, like it should be obvious.

 

“Mel and… shit where is he?” I ask.

 

“Like Justin, I haven’t found him. Mel is happy and doesn’t need us to change anything.” He tells me.

 

“Why Ben and Ted?” I ask. “Because even though Ted didn’t know, Blake carried the same significance in Ted’s life that Justin did in yours, and Drew in Emmett’s, it was obvious in how they kept coming back to each other.” I tell him.

 

“When we find out what Blake does for a living we’ll likely get a clue as to why Ben.” He tells me.

 

“Why did you and Justin get involved if it’s really about Blake and Ted?” I ask.

 

“The same reason Ted helped, because you don’t let your friends do it without helping them. We figured if we were going to be here, that we needed to have some control over where our lives took us. Only for some reason, Justin is in the dark, the same way he was the last time.” He tells me.

 

“Do you at least have him waiting to come out of this Justin? Because this Justin is driving me crazy with all the demands he makes.” I tell him.

 

“He’s always in there, but I doubt confessing my love will bring him back this time. I did try, but apparently it won’t be that easy to get him home to me.” He tells me, getting up to leave. “Emmett’s back, by the way, and he knows.” He tells me, smug that he knows more than me.

 

“So is Cynthia, and she has her own secret this time.” I tell him, just as smug.

 

“Where is she?” He asks.

 

“Sunshine got the kickass PA. I don’t know the secret, but it involves Justin.” I tell him.

 

“He always wanted her to be his.” Brian grumbles.

 

BRIAN

 

He got Cynthia! How did that happen? There were certain things that should always be fixed points in our lives! Cynthia is mine, the way Daphne should be Justin’s… and where the hell is Daphne in all this? Why are all the people who were in Justin’s life not here, but the people involved in mine are here?

 

Emmett was sitting around reading about Drew, ignoring my snit as I walked in. I’m not sure it’s healthy that he reads about Drew and the woman Drew is planning on marrying next month. Emmett tends to rip her out of the pictures and yell at Drew for still being in the closet again.

 

“Marilyn came to see me.” I tell him.

 

“Where has she been?” He asked, throwing the magazine in the trash.

 

“Protecting our Sunshine, who isn’t quite so sunny anymore.” I tell him.

 

“You should kick Baby’s ass for this one. His sense of humor really needs work.” Emmett blurts out, then winces when he realizes he just told on my twat.

 

“Care to explain that to me?” I ask.

 

“He’s going to kill me. He sort of mentioned it would be interesting to see your relationship from your side, then well, maybe, possibly, told them he wanted to come back and make you work for his ass this time. But like, he did say that once you convinced this Justin, that he was fine with just returning to you as your Justin.” Emmett tells me, trying to slip away.

 

“When will Justin learn that he could never be the asshole I was? It doesn’t matter what kind of life he lives, he can’t help but be the one that cares about people, even Michael. The guy who would leave him to die, if he could have me.” I rant.

 

“You both cared, he was just nicer about it.” He tells me.

 

“As much as he wants to play me in this life, we have other things we need to do.” I complain.

 

“Brian it’s still years off before they have to be together.” He tells me.

 

“They still have to meet, and it’s not going to be in the same way, with Ben playing around.” I tell him.

 

“Like you didn’t use Ben to get to Justin.” He tells me.

 

“I’m sure inside his head he’s still pissed that he can’t beat me at this game.” I tell him.

 

“What do you mean?” He asks.

 

“Ben wants to finally win something over me, by screwing up everything. He was only supposed to come back and help get Ted’s life on track, not date Ted. “ I tell him.

 

“Do you think he came back knowing too? He doesn’t act like he does.” He tells me.

 

“I need to get my hand on the fucking book I sort of encouraged him to write. I only did it because Ian was getting on my nerves.” I tell him.

 

“You don’t think he wrote something that changed you and Justin, do you?” He ask.

 

“He would, just to make my life harder, the way he saw me making his life harder with Michael.” I tell him.

 

JUSTIN

 

I threw the damn manuscript in a drawer, it’s like I can’t put it down. The backstory before the rewind makes me want to take the kid aside and ask what the hell was so special about the Aidan guy. Who wants to be shit on by a guy who tricks right in front of your ass while you're cooking dinner for him? Then he willingly comes back to the man who let the “Best Friend” say that shit about you, and brings him a steak for the eye? Seriously, there wouldn’t be any way to forgive that if I was the kid. Of course, the kid acts like it didn’t bother him, he knew what the shithead said about him in a past life. The other thing I don’t get is the kid wanting the guy who was the perfect partner to that asshole Charlie, oh sorry, Charles. Why have the kid professing that he would only love Aidan, but then practically comparing Byron to Aidan and letting the kid internally argue how he should have been with Byron the whole time. Byron sort of seems like he thinks his boring, intellectual lectures are what a seventeen year old would find sexy.

 

I want to publish the damn thing because people would buy it just to bitch about the characters in reading circles. I’ll likely do it, because I’m arguing in my head about it when I should be getting ready to go out for the night. Which I didn’t even plan on doing tonight, but for some reason I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him again. It would probably be better to stay away from him, because unlike the guys I normally hook up with, this one makes me want to break the rules I use to keep my life the way that works for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 by starlight

BRIAN

 

Justin wanted to play games with me. I decided to see how long it would take him to realize, if he wanted me, he had to be the one to find me. I walked into the place I once owned, thinking it was really not all the shit my head thought it was when I prowled here in the life before. Guys were checking me out, because I rarely showed up here, and never toured the backroom. It's not like I didn’t occasionally trick, but I had the best this place offered, and it didn't really work as well when I knew how little talent there was in each guy who eyed me. I found Emmett, who'd been hiding since telling me Justin’s idiotic plans.

 

He really thinks being with the gang will keep me from getting back at him for not telling Justin it was a stupid plan. I guess it will, because being around Ian wasn’t a plan I would ever agree to. He was standing at the bar, spouting bullshit about the publisher just being pissed that he didn’t fall on his knees and suck his dick, to get his book published. Maybe I could let Emmett go this time, since listening to Ian while Michael fawned was punishment enough in my book. I ordered, and stood next Ben. Marty was right about one thing, why was Ben so ready to write the book, when he tends towards more self help books disguised as emotional journeys?

 

“I want to go find that publisher and tell him Ethan wouldn’t whore himself to some piece of shit who couldn’t get someone without using his power.” Michael spouts to everyone around us.

 

“Babe it doesn’t matter, soon I’ll have it published and you’ll be able to quit the Big Q while I give you the life we dreamed about.” Ian tells him, while looking around at other guys.

 

“I don’t like that he thought you weren’t more than a sexy piece of ass.” Michael tells Ethan, snuggling into him.

 

“This is worse than any punishment you could come up with.” Emmett whispers, sliding in the spot the guy who realized I wasn’t going to give him the time of day just vacated.

 

“I’m still going to make you sorry.” I whisper, wincing when Michael whines at Emmett for not listening to him talk shit about Justin.

 

“Why did you even come with us if you wanted to talk to him?” Michael says, glaring at me.

 

“He’s our friend Michael.” Ted tells him, as if talking to a child.

 

“He’s a downer when we all want to have fun.” Ian tells them, as if it’s a joke.

 

“I guess I am, when it seems the only reason you come here is to have Michael kiss your ass while you look at other asses.” I whisper to Ian as I walk away.

 

“What did he say to you?” Michael asks, glaring at me while Ian looks like he didn’t like that I knew all about him.

 

Justin was standing in the middle of the catwalk staring at the dance floor. He didn’t look directly at me, but purposefully looked around me. I didn’t waste time getting his attention, because it would guarantee we'd waste time with him pretending he wasn’t interested, and making sure I knew it. Emmett ran up the catwalk and slid in next to Justin, who looked but turned back to the crowd. I smirk at Emmett, who looked put out that Justin didn’t hit on him, but it wouldn't matter what life we lived, or that Justin doesn’t remember, my Justin knows the rules.

 

Emmett tilted his head towards what was coming at Justin. Why he thinks Justin ever needed my help when it came to Michael, really shows how little he knew his Baby.

 

JUSTIN

 

I couldn’t not see him, even when I looked everywhere but at him. I was ready to just grab a guy and get on with the fun portion of the evening when he finally walked in and looked as if he was debating holding up the bar with the little group that only seemed to do that all night. It made it easy to look away when he stood next to Ben, because I really didn’t want to spend time telling him that his book was giving me a headache. Then there was the wannabe novelist standing with the boyfriend who seemed to think he couldn’t get close enough while the boyfriend seemed to be eyeing every other ass in the crowd. I was really questioning why I would even consider a guy who would hang out with the guys no one looks at, unless they’re trying to get past them to get a drink. I know why, he’s doing what no one ever did for me, giving a kid a home.

 

I was standing here debating the merit of going home rather than playing the game with a guy who seems really decent, when someone slides up next to me. I look and yeah he’s got the goods, but something in my brain put a large bold NO in front of him. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, I paid attention.

 

“Hi Ba… I mean hi, I’m Emmett.” He tells me.

 

“I’m not interested, but nice meeting you.” I tell him, looking around.

 

“Not even a little?” He asks.

 

“You have ‘love me’, written all over you. Not my thing.” I tell him, seeing Brian look at Emmett.

 

I turned to see Emmett tilting his head at something while looking at Brian. “Are you two together?” I ask, thinking threesomes were fun, but I didn’t really get into it when it involved couples.

 

“Brian and me?” He asks, as if that was the last thing anyone could think would happen.

 

“You're both tall.” I tell him, not able to think of a reason they should be together, but it seemed to have him laughing his ass off.

 

“Baby, there are just times when things never change.” He tells me, like that made sense to him.

 

“Justin, not Baby.” I tell him.

 

“I like Baby, and you’ll get used to it sooner or later.” He tells me. “Hopefully sooner, so your ass gets spanked and not mine.” He mumbles. “I’m going to apologize now since it’s probably my fault.” He tells me, and I was going to ask what he took tonight since he seemed to just say random things that I didn’t understand.

 

“You think because you publish people’s books you can take advantage of them!” A guy comes up and tries to get in my face.

 

“Babe, not here.” Evan, or was it Ian tells the guy.

 

“It’s bullshit that you have to put up with assholes hitting on you, when the only thing you want from someone like him is to give him the opportunity to publish something that would make him money.” Babe tells… Ian sounds good.

 

“Did you just accuse me of hitting on Ian?” I ask.

 

“It’s Ethan!” Ian yells at me.

 

“I don’t care, just like I didn’t care when you offered to suck my dick. I doubt your mouth was worth the amount of money I would have to pay to get your book published.” I tell him.

 

“You’re a fucking liar! Ethan wouldn’t look twice at someone like you!” Boyfriend tells me.

 

It was weird, for a second I saw a violin in Ian’s hands, but it disappeared. “He looked, and offered, trust me, I have assistants who were spying on the whole thing. So why don’t you two go find a corner in the backroom and see if you can figure out why he thinks your blows jobs suck.” I tell him, turning back to see where Brian disappeared to.

 

“Babe, there will be a better publisher, one who will make him wish he said yes... to my book.” Ian pulled Babe away when he tried to lunge at me. I really wanted him to try, I figured the dancers below could break his fall when I threw his whiny ass over the catwalk.

 

Ian yanked Babe behind him, and I almost want to ask if he said, ‘come along pig” in his head, but well, I was busy. I wanted to bang my head on the railing when Ben stood next to me with, I’m sure his boyfriend, let’s just hope he didn’t say something that would make another drama when I was just here to get laid.

 

“I hate asking, but have you had a chance to read it?” Ben asked hopefully.

 

I looked up from where I laid my head on the rail, and decided if I got a headache it should involve vast amounts of alcohol, not dealing with writers who seem to be running around trying to ruin my night. “Yes, I have actually spent time reading through it, I skipped some parts but plan to go back and possibly leave notes in the margins to get you to explain what caused you to write it where it didn’t naturally flow in the book. While I’m giving you my opinion, you said the book was about two guys trying to get their lives right, but you seem to be pushing the kid at another guy, who in truth would bore a seventeen year old to tears with all his parental advice. Which isn’t very sexy and sort of sounds like the kid would have Daddy issues if he was even interested in the guy.” I tell him, then look down at Brian looking up at me with a two drinks in his hands.”Sorry, it seems I have a previous engagement. I’ll call you when I decide what my answer is. By the way, don’t ask an opinion if you don’t want to hear it.” I tell him, walking toward the drink I need after this.

 

“It looks like you’ve had a busy night.” Brian says, handing me a drink.

 

“I’m starting to think writers are a breed of elitists who don’t like hearing the truth.” I tell him downing the shot, and deciding I wasn’t into this tonight.

 

“Where you headed?” He asks, and I keep feeling like I’ve heard this before.

 

“No place special.” I said, when I didn’t plan to say anything, but just leave him standing there.

 

“I can change that.” He tells me.

 

“I’m sure you think you could, a lot of people try, but it just ends up being the same thing, different night. Good luck on adopting your son, but my life doesn’t include what you seem to want.” I tell him, trying to get away before I give in to him.

 

“I wanted to show you something, it won’t take long.” He tells me, following behind me.

 

“Really? It would have sounded better if you said it would take all night.” I tell him, letting him walk with me to my car.

 

“Can we just go where I want to and you see what I want to show you? If you decide to leave, then I won’t stop you.” He tells me.

 

We both turn when Babe starts shouting at us. “I bet that’s the real reason, Brian pulling bullshit because he’s jealous that we have what he doesn’t.”

 

“I love how he doesn’t get that yelling shit that pisses me off only makes me want to call the other publishers and tell them what comes with Ian.” I tell Brian.

 

“Michael thinks the louder he becomes, the more likely he’ll get his way.” Emmett comes over to us. “Can I get a ride, Ben and Ted are sort of getting on my nerves?” He asks Brian.

 

“Take my car, I was going to show Justin something.” Brian tells him, handing him the keys.

 

“I’m really just ready to go home, tonight was a mistake.” I tell him.

 

“Five minutes and Emmett can follow if you want to leave me stranded.” Brian offers.

 

“Let's go, hopefully Hunter kept my keys.” I mumble.

 

“Hunter?” Brian asks, when he got in my Jeep.

 

I looked at Ian and Babe flipping us off and most likely calling me all sorts of wonderful names while standing around. “Hopefully they won’t follow us.” I tell Brian.

 

“They’d have to get Ben and Ted to agree, since neither of them have a car.” Brian laughs.

 

“Where to Brian?” I ask.

 

“Kinnetik Galleries.” He tells me.

 

“I don’t think they let you just wander around there in the middle of the night.” I tell him.

 

“Have you been there?” He asks.

 

“I keep meaning to go, but just end up doing something else.” I tell him. I don’t say I avoid it because it reminds me of what I wanted to do.

 

“Tonight you can finally get to do it.” He tells me.

 

We pulled up and I waited while he opened the doors and let us in, locking it behind him. I walked around, looking at the walls and the way the paintings were set up, with seats so you could study the painting. “I like the way it’s done, people can stop and really look at them.” I tell him, marveling at the ability painters had.

 

“Are you an art lover or artist?” He whispers, as I sit in front of one.

 

“I wanted to be an artist, but starving until I made it wasn’t something I planned.” I tell him.

 

“Painting is something you could still do, it’s not like being a publisher means you gave up your dreams.” He tells me.

 

I got up, not liking the way he seemed to think he knew what I needed in life. “While this was interesting, I wasn’t really looking for a tour of ‘this could be your life’.” I tell him, taking off my shirt and pants. I walked over and helped him out of his clothes, he didn’t stop me when I pushed him into the chair and spread his legs, kneeling in front of him. He was hard and I wanted to taste him. I licked down to his balls then took each into my mouth, rolling them with my tongue while running my hands down his chest. He leaned his head back when I licked the vein until I got to the crown and took him down my throat until I had all of him.

 

“You’ve always been the only one who could do that.” Brian whispers at me. Making me pull back and look at him. “It’s hard for most guys to manage.” He says.

 

“You’re a lot for any guy.” I tell him, ignoring what he said and continuing to fuck him with my mouth.

 

Brian started moving as I stilled, letting him do the work while my I twirled my tongue. Before he came he pulled me off of him and onto his lap. Normally I’m the top, but I really wanted to feel him in me. He grabbed his wallet next to the chair and pulled out the lube and a condom, using the lube on his fingers and pouring what was left over the condom he put on.

 

“You can top if you want, you just seem to want to do it this way.” He tells me, fingering me.

 

“Just fuck me.” I commanded, moving his hand and impaling myself on him, I screamed, but loved the burn before the pleasure takes over.

 

He held me still as I winced, but slowly moved my hips to adjust to him. I’ve always liked a little pain, because the pleasure becomes intense after. I raised enough that he was pulled out half way before gliding back down on his cock. He left me to move for us, and enjoyed everything I did while riding him. I reached to stroke myself back to hardness and his hand was below me massaging my balls. The pace picked up and Brian held me as he turned us so I was on my back while he was on his knees and able to thrust in faster, watching as he entered and exited me. I felt him thickening and when he started slamming into me, I jerked my cock too, because I needed to cum. He held off until I came between us before slamming in three more times and cumming into the condom.

 

It took a while before we were moving again, but it was into the shower in his office where we cleaned up and fucked again. It was like I couldn’t get enough of him, and bent him over his desk before I fucked him for the next hour. We both ended up falling asleep on the couch in the Gallery, and I woke up at two thinking it was time to get the fuck away. Brian tried to keep me with him while he slept, but I managed to get away and get dressed. I was opening the door, when he spoke from behind me...

 

“Walking away when it scares you, doesn’t change what it is.” He tells me, letting me out.

 

“It’s fucking, not love.” I tell him, going to my car.

 

“I’m sure that’s what you tell yourself. I’ll see you next time.” Brian tells me.

 

“One time only.” I tell him.

 

“Breaking rules is what I do best.” He tells me, closing the door.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Hunter was sleeping on the couch when I walked in. I grabbed a blanket and put it over him, thinking he needed some new clothes. His were clean, but he was outgrowing them. I was going to bed when Hunter got up with the blanket wrapped around him and headed one of the bedrooms.

 

“Where were you?” He asked, seeing it was getting closer to four am.

 

“Out meeting with guys other than a street kid.” I tell him, closing my door.

 

I threw off my clothes and took a shower, because I could still smell him on me. I didn’t even remember falling asleep, which made the dream I was having feel real.

 

Brian was driving and we were headed out of Pittsburgh. I was complaining that I didn’t think he planned to drive to West Virginia. He pulled up to a house I used to dream about when I was in the group home. So it dawned on me I was dreaming.

 

He tells me it's our house, which had me confused. Then we walked into the main room, with him trying to convince me to marry him. I woke up when I said yes. Jesus, it's like he can’t even leave me alone in my sleep. I got up and passed by the drawer I threw the manuscript in. Remembering that I skipped something like that in the book. I flipped to the part where it described the kid and Aidan deciding to get married. I remember thinking of Ben’s description as if Aidan proposing was due to being scared of being alone and wanting to drag the kid down with him. It was just, it didn’t feel that way in the dream, it felt like he finally figured out he wanted me, I mean the kid, forever.

 

I couldn’t believe I was sitting here trying to argue about a scene in the book that Ben wrote happening in the middle of a burned out building. It's just, it would have made more sense the way I dreamed it. I got up and went to get coffee, since I wasn't sleepy anymore.

 

Hunter must have gone on a cleaning spree, because the kitchen was sparkling. It gave me a way of getting Hunter to accept the clothes he was going to get today. I called Cynthia to let her know I'd be in later, and winced when she asked why I needed to tell her at five in the morning when we didn’t go in until nine. I just hung up, ignoring her bitching at me.

 

I made breakfast since I had someone to make it for, and then tried to figure out when I turned into someone who wanted people around.

 

“Hey Dad.” Hunter said sarcastically, when I put his breakfast on the table in front of him.

 

“If I was your father, you wouldn’t be dressed like that.” I replied, just as sarcastically.

 

“No you would have tarted me up, the way you did to impress whatever guy you were trying to impress.” He tells me, eating. “Why do you do take out when you can cook?” He asks.

 

“Until you came along I didn’t see the point in cooking for myself.” I tell him.

 

“Hey, you want to cook, I have no problem eating.” He tells me.

 

“Then you’ll have no problem going with me this morning to get you something that doesn’t have holes decorating it.” I added, waiting for him to argue.

 

“I earn my way.” He tells me, glaring at me.

 

“You cleaned this kitchen better than my cleaning lady, so you get clothes for doing something she couldn’t.” I tell him.

 

“Fine, but I’m not wearing fancy shit.” He tells me.

 

“I never thought you would, that would take fashion sense.” I tell him.

 

I tried, really I did, but he wouldn’t budge from going to Big Q, saying jeans were jeans. I walked around trying not to make faces at the fashion downgrade we ended up at. He snagged jeans and went in the dressing room when I ordered him to. I had to explain that clothes were not one size fits all. I looked around at shirts that only a blind man could love.

 

“JUSSIN.” I hear some kid yell.

 

I looked around to figure out why the kid was yelling. I saw a little boy running from a woman who had three others with her and holding a little girl. The kid latched onto my leg looking up at me like we knew each other. I couldn’t help but smile when he smiled a giant smile at me.

 

“My Jussin.” He told the woman when she caught up.

 

“Gus, you don’t run off like that.” She tells him, looking worried.

 

“But Jussy.” He says, as if that explains him running to me.

 

“I’m so sorry, he normally doesn’t attack people he doesn’t know.” She tells me.

 

“He’s probably used to people falling all over him.” I tell her, picking up Gus when he held out his arms.

 

“You're only the second person he’s acted like this with.” She tells me.

 

I didn’t want to let him go when he laid his head on my shoulder. “My Jussin.” He said, as he kissed my cheek.

 

“They fit. You taking in a foster kid too? Hey Linda, been awhile.” Hunter says, looking at the woman.

 

“Hunter, where have you been?” Linda asks.

 

“My cousin lets me stay at his house, Mom and Dad have been on benders again.” He tells her.

 

“Come see me, I’m glad you found someone to help you, but don’t be a stranger. Gus we need to go.” She tells them.

 

Gus started throwing a fit not wanting to go anywhere without me. I wasn’t exactly handing him back, only thinking of reasons the woman should trust a stranger to take a kid with him.

 

Linda and I were trying to calm Gus down when Babe came over to make it worse.

 

“You need to get that kid to calm down, there are people here that would like to shop in peace.” Babe tells Linda, not seeing me.

 

“Kids do things whether or not adults approve.” Hunter commented.

 

“You're in here again? I told you the last time I’d call the cops. We prosecute for theft.” He sneers at Hunter.

 

“I paid for everything I got.” Hunter tells him, getting pissed, and making Gus cry at the angry voices around him.

 

“Do you have proof Hunter stole anything?” Linda asks, angry.

 

“All the street kids steal.” He tells her, looking at me finally. “What the fuck are you doing here?” He asks.

 

“Deciding I was right, all the employees at Big Q are assholes.” I tell him, not really remembering why I thought that, since I never shopped here.

 

“Is there a problem?” Someone, I assume the manager, asks, since it says ‘store manager’ on his name tag.

 

“I was just trying to explain to these people, that we didn’t need all the noise they were making.” Michael tells him.

 

“I guess you don’t need me shopping here then, since you don’t like the idea of a family with kids in your store.” Linda, who I couldn’t help but like for protecting Hunter, announced.

 

“Michael, why not go do your job and let customers shop.” The manager orders him.

 

“That kid is one of the ones who come in here stealing things.” Michael whispers loud enough for us to hear.

 

“Hunter doesn’t steal.” Linda tells him.

 

“Maybe I should get my lawyer to come down here and talk to you and Michael about making accusations.” I tell the manager, ignoring the asshole glaring at me.

 

“I’m sure Michael will apologize, IF he likes having a job.” He tells me.

 

“I’m not apologizing to him.” Michael tells him.

 

“Look, I’m sorry your boyfriend’s book sucks as bad as he says you do, but don’t use it as your reason to treat Hunter as anything but a paying customer.” I tell Michael, who turns white. “Hunter go pay for the clothes and we can get out of here.” Handing him my credit card.

 

“I don’t have a boyfriend.”  Michael says loudly.

 

“You broke up with him? Then at least you have some sense.” I told him, as I followed Linda and Hunter to the registers, still holding Gus, who wouldn’t let go of me.

 

We got out the door with Hunter telling Gus he would bring me to see Linda, if Gus went with her. Michael came outside and followed us to the cars, to do what I didn’t know or care.

 

“I don’t need you outing me at work because Ethan didn’t want you.” He sneers.

 

“I don’t need you to keep thinking there would be any reason I would want anyone who could want you, or him. Now go inside like a good little boy, before your mouth is the bigger reason I wouldn’t published the crap Romeo writes.” I tell him, getting in the car and shutting the door.

 

BRIAN

 

I went to Linda’s to see Gus, they told me it would be a week before I would be approved to foster Gus, and the rest was just waiting for the paperwork to be approved for adoption. Linda was nice enough to let me come by to see Gus. I got there and Gus ran to me, chattering away.

 

“Jussin?” He asks, looking around.

 

“Gus met someone at the store today, and seemed to think he belonged to him.” Linda tells me.

 

“Is it okay if I take Gus to get some lunch?” I ask her, not understanding why Gus said the name he used to call Justin.

 

“I just need a number I can call if I need Gus here.” She tells me.

 

“Who was Jussin?” I ask.

 

“It was Justin, but I didn’t get the last name. One of the kids who used to stay here named Hunter was with him. Is it someone you know?” She asks.

 

“A good friend, kids like him.” I tell her, distracted when Gus kept asking where Jussin was.

 

I gave her the information and called Marty, because I needed to know why Gus knows Justin.

 

“Marty is there any reason Gus would remember?” I ask as I drive towards my Gallery.

 

“Kids always remember, it fades over time.” He tells me.

 

“Gus ran into Justin.” I tell him.

 

“I saw, but it didn’t trigger anything in Justin. He came in a minute ago being his shitty self.” Marty tells me.

 

I hung up and decided to piss Justin off a little more. Gus and I picked out the roses and sent them to his office. “We’ll kill him with kindness, Sonny Boy.” I tell Gus.

 

 

Chapter 6 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I walked out of my office to get some coffee and ran into Cynthia, who had a large vase with blue and yellow roses in it. She shoved them into my arms.

 

“I thought we discussed this, you’re not my type.” I tell her, joking.

 

“You’re obviously someone's type, those aren't the kind you just pick without a reason.” She tells me.

 

“These aren't yours?” I ask.

 

“Nope. Apparently someone likes your surly ass.” She tells me, walking off.

 

I put them on my desk, confused at why anyone would be stupid enough to spend money on bullshit. I plucked the card, ready to throw it and the flowers in the trash, but curiosity won.

 

Justin,

 

These reminded me of you, the blue roses match your eyes and the yellow ones remind me of the sunshine you bring into my life. We can play all the games you want, but you're fighting against the life I know we could have together. Find us, and you'll remember.

 

Brian A. Kinney

 

I flipped the card over and there was an invitation to call or show up, since he left his number and address on the back. What was it about him that made me want to be with him? For a second, I heard his voice saying he wanted me around for a long time. I shook it off, leaving the flowers with the card buried in them.

 

Marty called to let me know Ben wanted to see me. I didn’t ask why he thought I wanted to see him. It was looking at the flowers that kept me from saying no... why, I couldn't tell you. He brought the boyfriend with him, and seriously, I didn’t get why they were together. They both seemed like two people who were more friends than boyfriends, not that I was an expert on relationships. But they even sat apart on the couch that Ben made himself at home on.

 

“I understand wanting an answer, but it’s not something I can answer right now.” I tell Ben.

 

“Ted and I wanted to talk to you about Brian.” Ben tells me.

 

“No, you wanted to do that. I don’t see any reason we need to be involved.” Ted tells him, not looking very in love right now.

 

“I think Justin needs to see Brian for who he is.” Ben tells him.

 

“A good guy who treats people with respect, that’s all I see. I don’t understand why you have a problem with Brian.” Ted tells Ben.

 

“You act like he respects our relationship, when I know he doesn’t.” Ben tells him.

 

“He doesn’t have to respect our relationship, because it’s ours, not his. How many time do I have to say that for you to get it? Brian has never once said anything that makes what you say true.” Ted tells him.

 

“Excuse me, but you two do realize this is my office, which is a publishing office, not a place for you two to get counseling, right?” I ask, when they seem to want to keep going.

 

“I’m truly sorry that my partner seems to think you need to hear this. But I’ll respect you enough to not stay and listen to Ben disrespecting my friend.” Ted tells me, leaving my office.

 

“Before you speak, understand that nothing you say would mean anything to me. I don’t know you and really have to wonder why you felt the need to come here for any reason other than business.” I tell him.

 

“Everything changes but this.” He says, talking to himself.

 

“I have things to do, like decide if authors are going to see their books in print. If you want to possibly be one, I need to finish reading your book.” I tell him.

 

“Why were you with Brian last night?” He asks.

 

“Is there some reason I shouldn’t have been? What I do in my private life isn’t anyone’s business but mine.” I tell him.

 

“You deserve better than him.” He tells me.

 

I sat down at my desk, reading a book from an author who I knew we were going to publish, ignoring him. Unlike most people, he kept talking when I was making it clear he was crossing into areas that had nothing to do with our business.

 

“If you would listen…”

 

“Why are you with Ted?” I ask. If he wants to barge into my life, I’ll barge into his.

 

“He’s my boyfriend.” He tells me, confused.

 

“Is he? I didn’t see it that way. You two don’t touch each other, or really even seem like more than two people sharing the same space, while looking for what you really want.” I tell him.

 

“My relationship with Ted isn’t any of your business.” He tells me.

 

“By the same token, whatever I’m doing with Brian isn’t yours. Yet you’re still here.” I tell him.

 

“He always gets everyone to fall at his feet; it doesn’t matter how he treats them.” He tells me.

 

“Jealousy isn’t an attractive trait. Why be jealous when Ted only sees Brian as his friend?” I ask.

 

“I’m not jealous of Brian Fucking Kinney! I’m just tired of how he always comes out of every life happy, when the rest of us revolve around him. Even when he made it all about you, it didn’t stop my life from changing. I still ended up in a relationship with someone who couldn’t see past Brian to see me! We could have a life that doesn’t include the people here.” He tells me, starting to worry me.

 

“I’m not interested in you, and really it’s a bit tacky, since your boyfriend was just here.” I tell him, as Marty comes in glaring at Ben.

 

“What they have won’t change. There are rules to this Ben. Ask Ethan what happens when you break them. I thought you made peace with this the last time.” Marty tells him, sounding as unhinged as Ben.

 

“For once, it shouldn’t be his way. Everything about this changed, and I was left reliving the same thing.” He tells Marty.

 

“You know?” Marty asks.

 

“I found out after I got my test results.” He tells Marty.

 

“What the hell is this about?” I ask.

 

“Things you’ll understand when you remember. You need to remember this Justin, Brian needs you.” He tells me.

 

“Rules Marty, remember the rules.” Ben tells him, mockingly.

 

“I do, but then Brian could break any rule and still come out on top. Something you were afraid to do so don’t keep pushing for something that will never happen.” Marty tells him, opening my door and waving for Ben to leave.

 

“He never had the chance to see the life he could have had. None of you wanted that, did you? No, he was put in the path of Brian, every time.” Ben tells Marty, walking out.

 

“He needs to see someone, that conversation was out there.” Marty tells me, as if he thought I didn’t hear that he was joining the crazy.

 

BRIAN

 

Gus was playing in my loft like he owned it. I already let the agency know my house was being built. It was one of the things that was different, the house was never built. I knew the things Justin never liked about the place, made getting Ted to draw up the plans easier. I waited until last year to start building it, because Justin came to me at this year the last two times, and I figured it would be the same again, even with all the changes. My buzzer rang and it no longer was unwelcome, the way Lindsay and Michael would do it.

 

Emmett came in, excited that Gus was here. “I want my Lulu and TJ.” He tells me.

 

“Your parents are going to love you naming Lulu after your crazy aunt.” I tell him.

 

“Only if Drew gets off his ass.” He tells me.

 

“I told you there was something wrong with Ben wanting to write the book.” Marty tells us, coming in.

 

“Marty?” Emmett asks, looking disappointed in our Marilyn.

 

“Let it go; I’ll dress up if you need it. We have other things to worry about.” Marty tells me.

 

“What is Benny trying?” I ask.

 

“Apparently he saw Justin’s life if it didn’t include you.” Marty tells me.

 

“Is there really a life that has them not meeting?” Emmett ask.

 

“Yes, there’s always alternative endings. If Justin had turned left, he would have run into Ben first.” Marty tells me.

 

“What would have happened?” Emmett asks.

 

“Nothing, because that life was never meant to happen. Ben only sees that he meets Justin instead of Michael. He didn’t look past it.” Marty tells him.

 

“If he did, what would he have seen?” I ask.

 

“That Justin wasn’t interested, even without Brian being there.” He tells us.

 

“Why would Ben care, if it didn’t accomplish anything?” Emmett asks.

 

“That life stayed unwritten, because it wasn’t one that should play out. So why Ben wants it, you’d have to ask him. I only saw it when he mentioned it in front of Justin.” He tells me. “No, Justin didn’t remember, just thought we both needed a shrink.” He says, before I could ask.

 

“Um, sorry to interrupt, but I came by to see if you guys wanted to go to lunch.” Ted says, looking at us strangely.

 

“We’ll have to order in, I have Gus for the afternoon.” I tell him.

 

“You're really going to adopt when you said you wanted to have your own?” Ted asks, going through my drawer looking for a menu.

 

“I want Gus.” I tell him.

 

“I’m thinking about breaking up with Ben.” Ted tells us.

 

“You two have too much in common. Neither of you even act excited to see the other.” Emmett tells him.

 

“I thought it would be nice to have someone who didn’t think the only thing in life was drinking the night away. I just wish he didn’t seem to have a problem with my friends.” Ted tells us, meaning me. “He didn’t even get to know you, but seems to judge you for something you never do. I don’t get why he thinks you're the reason we have problems. Michael and Ethan are the ones always causing drama, yet he doesn’t say anything about that bullshit.” He tells me.

 

“What did Ben think was a problem that he needed to go to Justin for?” I ask him.

 

“I didn’t stick around to find out, when we started arguing in Justin’s office. If he wants to do what he accuses you of, he does it alone. I’m getting tired of hanging out with the romance of the century, which if Michael would pay attention, is Ethan with himself.” Ted tells us, making us laugh.

 

My phone rang and it was Justin, using the number I left him in my card. I walked into my bedroom as Emmett sat and played with Gus.

 

“Nice of you to break your rules.” I tell him.

 

“I would have broken more rules, but I’ve been a bit busy listening to your fan club. What did you do to piss Ben off?” Justin asks.

 

“Just me breathing seems to do the trick for Ben.” I tell him.

 

“He acts like a jealous girlfriend, trying to warn me away from his man. It just makes me want to give him a reason for bothering me in the middle of a busy day. How do you feel about going to a business dinner tonight, my usual go-to guy is out of town.” He tells me.

 

“Are you seeing someone?” I ask, not liking the way I was sounding like a jealous boyfriend.

 

“Are you upset that I could be?” He taunts.

 

I almost answered yes, but remembered who I was dealing with. Me. “Not really, since it doesn’t bother you that he’s gone.” I tell him.

 

“It wouldn’t bother me if you were gone either. Dress for this, we aren’t going to the club tonight.” He tells me.

 

“Like I didn’t spend years dressing your ass.” I mumble.

 

“What?” Justin asks.

 

“I said, like I haven’t spent years dressing to impress assholes like you.” I tell him.

 

“I’ll pick you up.” He tells me, before hanging up.

 

“He asked you out?” Emmett the spy asks.

 

“Something I never did, score one for Justin.” I tell Emmett.

 

“Jussin, where Jussin?” Gus asks, looking under the covers where Justin slept at one time.

 

“He remembers Justin?” Emmett asks, looking shocked.

 

“Marty said it would fade over time.” I tell him.

 

“You brought him to meet Justin, when I know you haven’t taken him to meet your mom? She’s going to spank her baby boy.” Ted teases.

 

“She’s with Dad on vacation. If she calls you, shut the hell up.” I tell him. Mom would be on the first plane back to really spank my ass.

 

:

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7 by starlight

BRIAN

 

I opened my loft door when he knocked and felt I owed the Big Guy a thank you. Cargos were finally history. I really wanted to share this moment, but well, Jen wasn’t around to understand my pain. Justin was head to toe Versace, not my first love, but a very close second. I picked up my jacket, deciding to just bask in the moments I have, before the cargos return to Justin’s world. It’s sad when I’m missing them.

 

“Do you mind if we stop on the way?” I ask him.

 

“If we must.” Justin tells me, acting like it’s a chore.

 

“We must. My soon to be son was promised a bedtime story by yours truly, and I never break a promise.” I tell him.

 

“You never broke one.” He tells me, then shakes off the thought “Where to?” He asks.

 

I gave him directions and Linda was waiting at the door to let us in. We went upstairs to the room Gus shared with Jenny. It was something I would ask eventually, why the two of them ended up together.

 

“Jussin!” Gus says, excited.

 

“Hey little man, see I came to see you, like Hunter promised I would.” Justin tells him, kneeling beside the bed.

 

“Jenny here too.” Gus tells him.

 

Justin got up, looking in the crib and running his hand over her head. “Jenny, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Justin tells her.

 

“Story, Dada.” Gus tells me.

 

Justin walks over and sits next to Gus, not caring his suit would get wrinkled. “Yes Dada, story.” Justin smirks.

 

“Which one Gus?” I ask.

 

“Liberty.” He tells me. I hope Justin likes the sanitized version.

 

“Once upon a time there was a prince, wanting to see the world outside the country club, so he got his best friend to take him to a place called Liberty. He walked around the new world, seeing things he’d only heard of. After walking around and still wanting to know more, he stopped under a streetlight, trying to decide if he wanted to venture further. Across the street was the man who would change his life, complaining about… the lack of… talent he had been seeing for a while. The man stopped when he saw his prince standing in a halo of light and decided to see if the prince needed help. They agreed to spend time together and left everyone behind so the man could show the prince all the things he had yet to see. Only, in the middle of the tour, a phone rang and they left to meet the child who would become their son. It was during the naming that the man gave the prince the most important job of his life, name giver. The prince named the child Gus, not realizing that one day Gus would be the son of his heart.” I stopped when Gus fell asleep.

 

“Strange story to tell a kid.” Justin tells me, getting up and kissing Gus’s head.

 

“It’s a strange story from start to finish.” I tell him, as we leave the house.

 

“Lately, I’m thinking a lot of stories are strange.” He tells me, as we get in his car.

 

“Ben’s book?” I ask.

 

“He adds things that don’t seem like they belong in the story he’s writing. I really thought about publishing it just so people could bitch about Byron verses Aidan. In most cases, Byron should win because Aidan sounds like an asshole who shits all over the soul mate. Ben doesn’t even give a reason for why Aidan acts the way he does. People like to read about the reason behind a character’s flaws, but it’s like Ben just decided Aidan wasn’t worth the time the kid wasted on him.” He tells me.

 

“Did he give the kid a name, or was it just the kid?” I ask.

 

“It’s the one thing he is going to change if I publish this. No way will my name be attached to that character. I know it’s just a coincidence, but reading it and seeing my name in a character I want to hit every time he lets Aidan get away with shit, drives me crazy.” He tells me, looking over. “You okay?” He ask.

 

“Fine, where are we going?” I ask, thinking Ben really doesn’t ever write anything worth reading.

 

“A dinner where we’ll be bored to tears, all the publishers get together, allowing writers to come talk to us. Which normally I attended with one of my writers, but he wanted to take a vacation.” I tell him.

 

“Anyone I've heard of?” I ask.

 

“Theo West.” He tells me.

 

“I haven’t read him.” I tell him.

 

“He writes stories about redemption, love against the odds. Really just fantasy, but women love it, so regardless of my views on instant love, it sells.” He tells me.

 

“The name doesn’t really match the genre he writes.” I tell him.

 

“His real name wouldn’t have had anyone picking up the books. He didn’t even want his picture in the bio section because he likes not being recognized.” Justin tells me.

 

“Are you going to tell me?” I ask.

 

“Blake Wyzecki. It just didn’t scream romance author.” He tells me.

 

I waited until he stopped the car and kissed the twat for making it a little easier for us to get this shit done. All this started when Blake and Ted had a fight that had Ted and Blake leaving in separate cars after Emmett’s funeral. When Blake ended up in an accident and Ted lived the final days of his life blaming himself for a fight over Ted retiring before Blake buried Ted. When Ted died after me, Blake had already left to start his new life. Vic cornered me and Justin to tell us that Blake couldn’t have a life that didn’t include Ted, even if Blake thought so. Justin, of course, couldn’t let Ted do this alone. Then Emmett came to tell us if one goes, we all do.

 

We were given five years, the same amount of time it took me to tell Justin I loved him. I really thought we could just throw Blake and Ted in a locked room and Justin and I could wait for our family like the last time. Only without Molly and Jen, how is Kira possible?

 

Justin showed me he learned a few tricks when my seat went back and he was over me in seconds. We were plastered to each other, until someone knocked on the windows that seemed to steam up. Justin didn’t move off me, but let down the window.

 

“So hey, I was invited by Ted to come along and entertain him while Ben shopped the book.” Emmett laughs at us.

 

“Not now.” Justin tells him.

 

“I would let you and Brian do what you two have always done best, but I need moral support.” Emmett tells me.

 

“Why?” I ask.

 

“Drew is staying at this hotel with his beard, which means controlling Emmett’s need to explain to them that she doesn’t have a dick.” He tells me.

 

“How did you find out?” I ask, kissing Justin one more time before getting us out of the car.

 

Emmett went behind us and straightened out our clothes before linking his arm with Justin’s and taking Justin with him. “I don’t get why Drew always plays hetero in the closet in these lives, but I am not going to play in his closet with him. It worked the last time and damn it, it will work again.” Emmett tells him.

 

“You guys do know there are doctors for this?” Justin tells him.

 

“For what, Baby?” Emmett asks.

 

“The crazy shit you all say.” Justin tells him.

 

“I believed you when you told me, so it’s your turn.” Emmett tells him.

 

“Honeycutt.” I warn him.

 

“Don’t call me Honeycutt, and Justin it’s time for you to stop fucking around. I need Baby back.” He tells Justin.

 

“I see someone sane I need to talk to.” Justin tells us, walking to Carl.

 

“Deb is going to land herself a millionaire. Carl is big in publishing.” Emmett whispers.

 

“Blake is Theo West.” I tell him.

 

“You know this, how?” He asks.

 

“He’s Justin’s normal date to these things.” I tell Emmett.

 

“Yikes, Justin better not be playing no degrees of separation.” Emmett tells me.

 

“Justin wouldn’t, it’s why he didn’t take you up on your flirting.” I growl.

 

JUSTIN

 

I’m worried about Brian and his friends, they keep talking about things like they happened. I went to see if Carl was as bored as he gets at these things. Carl and Sean were best friends and when I took over for Sean, he let me know Carl was an ear I could bend if I ran into problems. When I called Carl made a point of answering.

 

“Justin, am I seeing things, or did you bring a actual date tonight?” Carl teases.

 

“I brought one, but only because I’m ready to shove a book down an author’s throat.” I tell him.

 

“How did that end up with you having a date?” Carl asks.

 

“The author doesn’t like the guy I brought. I figured Ben would come, since he thinks he should tell me how to run my personal life, I’d show him no one decides for me.” I tell him.

 

“Justin, you don’t give a date hope as a way to piss someone else off.” Daphne tells me.

 

I looked over at Brian and Emmett staring at us strangely. “He thinks I’ll break all the rules.” I mumble.

 

“You just did, you have a real date. Did I mention I hate you?” Daphne asks me.

 

“Use it in your next horror novel, you’ve already killed me in the last two best sellers.” I tell her.

 

“Justin, introduce us.” Daphne commands.

 

“Brian, Emmett. Meet one of my writers, Daphne.” I tell them. Why are they smiling at us?

 

“My goodness, it’s a pleasure that you finally showed up.” Emmett tells her.

 

“I’ve been here for the last two hours.” Daphne tells him, confused, as I am by Emmett.

 

“Don’t mind Emmett, he thinks everyone’s his friend.” Babe sneered at Brian.

 

“Interesting to see you here.” Ian tells Brian.

 

“You too, still trying to convince the world you're a writer?” Brian comments.

 

“Ethan was invited to meet with real publishers.” Babe tells me.

 

“Then go find one, Carl and I don’t publish something we don’t see selling.” I tell him.

 

EMMETT

 

“There is champagne.” Deb comes up giving Michael a glass, ignoring Ethan’s put out expression. “Hi I’m Deb.” Deb zeros in on Carl.

 

“I’m enchanted, care to take a stroll around while the youngsters talk?” Carl asks her, looking directly at Michael.

 

“Aunt Deb, you came with us.” Michael whines.

 

“Why does that sound wrong?” Justin says, watching Carl whisk Deb away.

 

I looked up in time to see Drew passing the door with his fiancee on his arm. She looked at the marque and pulled Drew in. I stood there, waiting for him to see me, but he walked by me, not even looking. I get what Brian said, this isn’t the fun part. I followed behind Brian and Justin as Justin talked to people and then introduced Brian. The fiancee turned to Brian and asked about his gallery and then I was stuck in a group with Drew and the beard.

 

Ben came up with Ted, and I could just see us all having a fabulous time, or not. Brian had that look that said Ben might be losing the thing that makes him a man. Brian excused himself and dragged Ben with him. I followed because Ben really shouldn’t fuck with Brian on a mission.

 

“You really had me fooled, congrats on it.” Brian tells him.

 

“I avoided everything, but still ended up living with this bullshit. Why?” Ben seems to ask as if the Big Guy answers to us.

 

“I couldn’t tell you, but fucking up Ted’s life or mine doesn’t change anything, unless you fuck up Ted’s life, then I’ll change it for you.” Brian tells him.

 

“I don’t understand why you keep going after Justin. In the first life you never paid attention to him.” I tell him.

 

“You really think I didn’t see Justin, I did, but he loved Brian and couldn’t see past it.” Ben tells me.

 

“He never will Ben, he’s mine, with no room to include you.” Brian tells him.

 

“There’s a life he didn’t lead.” Ben tells us.

 

“Ask Marty about it, apparently Justin wasn’t interested you. It didn’t matter that Brian wasn’t in that life.” I tell him.

 

“Break it off with Ted, he doesn’t need another reason for Blake to think he’s better off without him.” Brian tells him.

 

 

“I’ll do what I want, not what you order.” Ben tells him, walking over to Ted, kissing him.

Chapter 8 by starlight

TED

 

Ben came in and seemed to think I enjoyed him swallowing my face. It was as if he learned to kiss one way and stuck to it. I knew I couldn’t keep putting off telling him I didn’t see this relationship going anywhere. I pulled out of the kiss, about to tell him we weren’t working out.

 

“We should get away together.” He tells me.

 

“It’s not going to change anything. Maybe we have too much in common.” I tell him.

 

“Who said that, Brian or Emmett?” He asks.

 

“It might have been mentioned, but it’s hard to fight the truth. It felt like you were trying too hard to prove something when you kissed me. I want a relationship where it comes naturally.” I tell him.

 

“You're letting your friends feed you this bullshit. Maybe you should ask yourself why Brian didn’t have a problem with me until we dated.” He tells me.

 

“Brian hasn’t once said anything about us, but why not look at yourself? You keep saying Brian thinks he has a say in Emmett’s and my lives, but he’s never once done what you tried with Justin. It wasn’t Brian that helped me make this decision, it was you. I was hoping we could still be friends, but you're not the man I thought I knew.” I tell him.

 

“How are you going to get home?” He asks, at least sounding like it mattered to him.

 

“Brian or Emmett will take me. I think you need to figure out what you want, because I’m not even sure you know.” I tell him.

 

“Just once I want to be the person more important than Brian.” He tells me.

 

“You were, until you started to sound like a jealous child who didn’t like sharing his toys. Too bad Ethan found Michael before you since you both have that in common.” I tell him, going to see Brian.

 

BRIAN

 

Justin was busy talking to other people when I walked back in with Emmett. Drew picked that moment to come over as if to talk to us.

 

“Laura loves art, I thought maybe you could help me pick something for her wedding present.” Drew asks Emmett, standing as close as possible.

 

“I don’t believe in spending a fortune on a mistake.” Emmett tells him, walking off.

 

“I'm marrying the woman I love.” Drew says, chasing after Emmett, stopping him from getting away.

 

“While wishing you were in my ass.” Emmett tells him.

 

“I'm sure it’s what you wished, but you do nothing for me.” Drew tells him, while people around them stare.

 

“Tell that to the dick poking me, but wait, you're not gay, right?” Emmett tells him.

 

“I just want art, not you.” Drew sneers.

 

“I'm glad we established that. Would you like the room key you slipped in my pocket back?” Emmett held it up, dropping it. “You never were good at subtle.” Emmett tells him, leaving Laura staring at Drew.

 

Justin came over, snickering as he passed Drew. “Looks like the wedding might be on hold.” He tells him, walking to me.

 

“What did you say to Ben?” Ted asks, smiling at Justin.

 

“He wants to butt into my life. I just let him know how I felt about it.” I tell Ted.

 

“He thinks it’s the reason I broke up with him tonight.” He tells me.

 

“I barely know you, but when you came to my office, I couldn't see why you two were together.” Justin tells him.

 

“Most of the time, it felt like I was settling for him. But why I felt that way, I couldn’t tell you. Emmett was right. I couldn’t even work up to being excited to see Ben most days.” He tells us.

 

“You can follow me all over the room proclaiming you like pussy, but you know, it doesn’t change that you suck dick!” Emmett yelled, as Drew argued with him, crossing the crowded room.

 

“Isn’t that the actor Emmett likes?” Ted asks, confused at Emmett in full queen out glory.

 

“If someone doesn’t stop Emmett, he and Drew Boyd are going to make headlines.” Daphne tells us, handing Justin a drink.

 

“I’m on it.” Ted tells us, running to catch up with Emmett.

 

“Sounds like fun, maybe I can write a story about it.” Daphne tells us, running behind Ted and giggling.

 

“I’m not fucking gay!” Drew shouts, showing Emmett he isn’t the only queen in this relationship.

 

“Then you shouldn’t have shoved me in the stall and sucked my dick!” Emmett yells back, enjoying himself.

 

“I think I like Emmett. He's a bit mental, but he stands for his beliefs.” Justin tells me.

 

“Someone I once knew would risk everything for what he believed in.” I tell him, remembering the man Justin has always been.

 

“Sounds like you loved him.” He says softly.

 

“I do. He taught me to be the man I am. Which was amazing considering when he was only nineteen at the time, and I was the adult.” I tell him.

 

“Why are you here with me?” He asks.

 

“Because I'm waiting for him to remember us.” I tell him.

 

“I hope you get everything you want.” He tells me.

 

“It's only time, Justin.” I tell him.

 

JUSTIN

 

It's like I hear the words, but they’re in the wrong context. I don't know why I said what I said next. There was just something about the way Ben wrote that proposal that wouldn’t leave me alone.

 

“Did you want to marry him?” I ask.

 

“What?” He asks.

 

“The guy. Did you want to marry him?” I ask.

 

“I bought the house and the rings, to me it sounds like I wanted him.” He tells me.

 

“Why didn’t you?” I ask, trying to understand why I thought this was important.

 

“I wanted him to have everything he wanted. I knew he was the only person I'd ever love, so waiting doesn’t bother me.” He tells me.

 

“What happened?” I ask.

 

“That's a story I only tell him.” He tells me.

 

“Did you show him the house?” I ask, trying to convince myself I'm wrong.

 

“I proposed in it, by a fire. I never worked as hard at selling something in my life.” He tells me.

 

“If he loved you, why did you have to sell it to him?” I ask, seeing it.

 

“I once told him I didn’t believe in love, but fucking. I never gave him a reason to believe anything else. When I realized how wrong I was, all that mattered was getting it right the next time. I wanted to give him everything that I’d treated him like shit for wanting. I'll do it as many times as it takes, because he was worth more than my life to me.” He tells me.

 

“I hate you.” I tell him, closing my eyes.

 

“You never had the ability to hate people, Justin. Open your eyes, I need to see it.” He tells me.

 

“I was sort of enjoying the chase.” I tell him, looking at the man who I've loved through every life.

 

“I'll chase you, but why bother when we only come back to each other?” He tells me, as I kiss him.

 

“Ben is on my shit list.” I whisper.

 

“He fell under the Taylor spell. It's a place that makes you do things you never did. By the way, I'm going to spank your ass.” He promised.

 

“Why are we back? I don't remember.” I ask.

 

“Blake is being a jackass. He thinks Ted would be better off without him.” I tell him.

 

“We have to find my mom. She's here, but I'm not sure where.” I tell him.

 

“Later, we have all the time in the world.” He tells me.

 

“Can we go? This suit is driving me crazy.” I tell him.

 

“Can we keep the Versace, just once?” He asks, dragging me out with him.

 

BRIAN

 

“Why did you make it so hard to get you back?” I ask, taking his keys.

 

“Because I already knew you loved me. You owe Vic for having to figure out how to bring me back. Something about proving everyone wrong about why you proposed. Benny had us in the middle of a burned out Babylon.” He tells me, as we pull up to the loft.

 

“I thought about it when I found you helping everyone, but didn't want you mistaking why I asked. Which Ben took poetic license with.” I tell him.

 

“Are you and Michael fighting?” He asks.

 

“We aren’t even friends this time. I never needed a reason for Mikey in this life. By the way, you get to meet my parents.” I tell him.

 

“I picked well.” He smirks.

 

“What did you do?” I ask.

 

“They were related to you. In fact, your father was Jack's cousin. You never met him because his side of the family didn’t want anything to do with Jack. I wanted you to have everything you didn’t the last two times.” He tells me.

 

“We have Gus, without anyone else involved.” I tell him.

 

“I told you he was always in our lives.” He tells me, taking off the suit and tossing it carelessly.

 

“You're not going to be able to sit for week.” I tell him, picking up after him.

 

“That's the plan.” He tells me, naked.

 

I tossed my clothes and dove into bed with my Justin. We were all over each other. It didn’t matter how many times we did this together, each time we found something new to add. Justin took me in his mouth and sucked me until I came, then pushed my legs apart, rimming me with the skill I once taught him. He opened me up to take him, still being the only person I allowed the privilege. He grabbed a condom and lube before using his wet fingers to tease me and hold me open for him.

 

“If for some reason you and Mikey fight, he’s not going to care that you topped.” I tell him, hissing at the burn as he entered me.

 

“Shut up about him if you want me to fuck you. He’s my form of erectile dysfunction.” Justin tells me, pulling out and slamming home again.

 

I shut up, because this was one of my greatest pleasures in life. Justin didn’t slow down but sped up until the sound of slapping skin and our moans were echoing through the loft. He came, leaving me hard for the next round. I didn’t waste time but flipped him onto his back grabbing a condom and didn’t worry, since Justin was born ready for me. There was no hurry and we moved together, not worried about cumming this time. When we did, we cleaned up and continued in the shower.

 

“I have Gus again tomorrow.” I tell him.

 

“When did you tell Gus stories about us?” Justin asks.

 

“I told him those when you died. It kept you with us.” I tell him.

 

“He remembers?” Justin asks, sleepily.

 

“You were as much his father as I was. I wanted him to remember the way I do.” I tell him.

 

Once again I watch Justin sleep, waiting for him to wake up and show me he was still here. I ended up sleeping, only because even if he wasn’t, I knew I could bring him home to me.

 

 

 

Chapter 9 by starlight

BRIAN


I woke up alone, but he left a note saying he needed to check in with Hunter. I got up, glad that he still remembered. I found a note on the refrigerator telling me he left food in the oven for me. Then a third note on the top of the covered platter, telling me to eat or no dessert later. I put the plate in the microwave, thinking about bringing home Gus. The loft door opened and the torpedo that is Beth Kinney came running into my arms.


“I told your father two weeks was too long.” She tells me.


“Honey, it's not like Brian got married and had children, so we didn’t miss that much.” Dad jokes, hugging me when Mom let me go.


“I wanted you and Dad to go on the cruise you talked about doing all the time.” I tell her, really not sure how to tell my dad he's wrong.


“Who’s Hunter and who cooked for you and apparently plans dessert for later?” Mom asks, holding up the notes.


“Hunter is the kid the guy I’m seeing takes care of. His name is Justin Taylor and he owns a publishing business.” I tell her.


“When do I meet him?” She asks, excited.


“Honey, maybe Brian would like to get to know him first before you try to plan their lives.” Dad tells her, shaking his head at my mother being excited.


“You could be more excited that I’m in the process of adopting a son.” I tell her.


“We will never take a vacation again.” Dad laughs, grabbing a cup of coffee and looking at the breakfast Justin hasn’t learned would feed a family, or himself.


“Have at it Dad, when he comes back he’ll give me hell for not being able to eat all that.” I tell him.


“You’ve always been too skinny.” Mom tells me, as we divide up the food and sit down.


“I don’t know what to ask first. A baby and boyfriend; it’s like Christmas.” Mom tells me.


“Gus is three not a baby, and Justin, well you can decide for yourself when you meet him.” I tell her.


“That’s so strange, remember when Brian named his teddy bear Gus?” She asks Dad.


“It’s still in the attic, we should get it and clean it up for our new grandchild.” Dad tells her.


“When did you decide to adopt? You always said you wanted to have one of your own.” Mom quizzes me.


“Mel dragged me with her to see the little girl she and Maryanne plan to adopt. Gus is at the same foster home. The minute I saw him, I knew he belonged with me, I could just feel it. I’m going to pick him up for a visit today, and I’ll bring him over to meet his grandparents.” I tell them, having my mom hug me again.


“Your dad and I need to shop for my new grandson. Make sure you bring Justin too.” Mom tells me, floating on air.


“How did I end up shopping? That’s what you and your mother do.” He tells me, smiling.


The loft door opens and Justin was picking up bags before he walked in. “Brian, I bought food, because I don’t plan on eating rabbit food.” He tells me, then stops when he sees I’m not alone. “Hi, sorry, I didn’t know he had company.” Justin tells my parents.


“Justin, this is Beth and Bill Kinney, my parents. Mom and Dad this is Justin.” I tell everyone.


“I’m thrilled to meet you.” My mom tells him, looking him up and down.


“You’re everything I... Brian told me about you.” Justin stutters.


“My son has been closed mouth about you, how long have you two been seeing each other?” She asks.


“It feels like forever.” Justin tells her, looking at me to answer.


“We've met a few times throughout our lives, but just decided to start seeing each other recently.” I tell her.


I heard Emmett before he made it up the stairs with Ted. “He shouldn’t have blown me if he wasn’t willing to deal with outing himself. “ Emmett shouts, as he and Ted walk in.


“Hi, guess we came at a bad time.” Ted shrugs, then hugs my mom.


“Nonsense, you know I would have gone over to see you next. I have a grandchild to buy for Emmett.” She tells him, squeezing Emmett to death.


“I came to tell you the house was finished, only a few weeks behind. I’m off to work.” Ted tells us, handing me the keys.


“House?” Justin asks.


“I built it on the property, it hadn’t been developed.” I tell him.


“He’s always wanted a house.” Dad tells Justin.


“I can't wait to see it.” Justin tells them.


“Brian plans to bring Gus to meet us, and if you and Emmett aren’t busy then come over with him. I love to meet anyone Brian knows.” She tells Justin. “I'll make sure to have lunch ready for my grandson.” She tells me.


“I'll be there, I have so much to tell you.” Emmett tells her.


Mom and Dad leave, hugging and kissing all of us before most likely putting a dent in their savings for Gus. Emmett looked at Justin for a few moments before saying anything.


“He doesn’t look different.” He tells me.


“He didn’t change.” I tell Emmett.


“Then how do you know when he figures it out?” Emmett asks.


“I’m standing right here Emmett.” Justin tells him.


“I see you, I was asking Brian about something.” He tells Justin.


“Drew’s an actor instead of a football player, now?” Justin asks.


“Baby, you know?” Emmett asks.


“I do, but I think we should keep it quiet, so no one thinks I do.” Justin tells us.


“See, I knew we just needed to talk as if he knew to get him to come out.” Emmett tells us.


“Sorry Honeycutt, once again I managed it.” Brian smirked, waiting for it.


“I don’t even care, my Baby’s here to help us right the wrongs. Did I really just sound like Michael? Anyway. Yes, for some reason everything changes, but somehow Drew and his closet are still here. Michael no longer worships at Brian’s feet, but Ethan’s. Ted ended up dating Benny boy, which I have to say, wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. At least I have you back. And what about you, any new and interesting things going on?” Emmett asks, finally shutting up.


“Hunter lives with me and Cynthia works for me. It surprised me, now that I know. I wonder if she prefers surly to nice.” Justin tells him.


“She's always liked you, but then she seemed to like Brian too. Maybe she just likes men she can't have.” Emmett jokes.


“How do we get Blake to meet Ted?” I ask, because it's something we need to get started.


“What is Blake like now?” Emmett asks.


“He never hit the party scene and didn’t have rehab or drugs in his life. He’s more of a loner than anything else. When I attend anything, he comes with me, but never lets on that he’s a published author. In a lot of ways he's still the Blake he was, without all the things that messed up his life. So there isn’t a child that will appear in his life.” Justin tells us, cleaning up the table.


“I never really thought he was a loner.” Emmett tells me.


“He didn’t have a crowd of friends the last time. It was mostly Ted for Blake.” I tell him.


“I’ve never had a lot of friends either, except you guys and Daph.” Justin tells us.


“When did you get Daphne?” Emmett asks.


“She came to me with a book, her genre is horror. I tend to die a lot in her books.” I tell them, thinking it was funny.


“She kills you?” Emmett asks, not really seeing it as funny.


“I’m usually the ghost who haunts the house of people who deserve to be terrorized. She didn’t name the character after me the way Ben did.” I tell them.


“What did Ben write about us? I gave him a general idea when I didn’t realize he knew it all already.” Brian tells me.


“Most of it’s close, but the parts he wouldn’t have seen are changed to make you sound like I didn’t matter to you. He has my character constantly comparing you and him, sounding like he’s the person my character should be with, not you. I thought Ben was over this?” Justin tells me.


“He still has HIV. I think it’s more about that then you.” Emmett tells me.


“It’s Brian’s fault that he didn’t take precautions?” Justin asks.


“He told me once that it should have been me not him, since I was the whore while he led a pristine life, doing everything right.” Brian tells me.


“He really thinks anyone believes a guy who went to the White Party led a pristine life? Nothing about those parties is anything but tricking the weekend away.” Emmett tells us.


“Did he get it the same way?” Justin asks.


“Ted might know, but we really aren’t close to Ben.” Emmett tells him.


“Michael and Ethan are Ben’s friends.” I tell him.


“What about Vic and Deb?” I ask.


“Except that Deb is Michael’s aunt, not his mother; they are still who they were, just not really a big part of my life.” Brian tells me.


“I didn’t realize by giving you Beth and William you would lose Deb and Vic.” Justin tells me.


“I could have gotten to know them, they don’t have a problem with me. They aren’t fans of the novelist, but tolerate him for Michael.” Brian tells me.


“I'm sort of shocked at Michael being here, and that he is no longer chasing you, but at least he's one less problem. Why would Ben hang out with Michael?” Justin asks.


“It's the question of the year. He's free of Michael, but still runs around with him. My theory is he likes that Michael hates Brian.” Emmett tells him.


“Even if that's the reason, he's back in the same boat with Ian. So where is winning anything over Brian in that?” Justin asks.


“I honestly don't give a shit, Ben causes his own pain. He could have walked away on his own, lived his life. Instead, he shows up making friends with the people I know.” I tell them.


“It's just, he can act like we should be together, but I know when someone's interested in me, and Ben really isn't.” Justin tells me.


“You don’t think somewhere along the way, he might have had feelings for you?” Emmett asks.


“None that he made obvious. He really never paid attention to me, unless I was with Michael or Brian. It’s not like we ever sat down and talked to each other. The only time he ever said anything to me was once when Brian and I weren’t together. All he did was ask how everything was going with Ethan. Really, if you’d been with me in my office, he sounded like Michael used to about Brian paying attention to anyone but Michael.” Justin tells Emmett.


“You don’t think… No, that wouldn’t make any sense either.” Emmett says, shaking off what he was thinking.


“It would make sense when you think about it. He and Michael never made sense.” Justin tells him, with me confused at the two.


“What would make sense?” I ask them.


“That all this time he wanted you. Think about it, it’s not like he couldn’t have found out where you were. He could have seen you at Babylon and then who does he see with you all the time? Michael Novotny, the man who can’t get a date, but suddenly can get one with Ben. It would explain why he didn’t look at Baby.” Emmett tells me.


“Why? Because like Lindsay, he was thrilled when I left you, but pissed that instead of Michael inviting him, Michael took off without him to spend time with you.” Justin continues the idiotic thought Emmett started.


“Which only makes sense in your minds.” I argue.


“If I wanted your attention at that time, hitting on Michael would have done it.” Justin tells me.


“Only because I knew you’d be wasted on Michael.” I smirk.


“Maybe Ben didn’t realize that hitting on Michael would only guarantee that you’d never look at him again.” Emmett tells me.


“If Justin had, I would have still hit on Justin.” I tell Emmett.


“I rated breaking the rules.” Justin tells us, smiling.


“Why is that a surprise?” I ask, pulling him into my arms.






Chapter 10 by starlight

BRIAN

 

Gus wanted to go the minute he saw Justin with me. The moment Justin picked up Gus, our lives had the next piece of our puzzle.

 

“My Jussin, Dada.” Gus tells me.

 

“Our Jussin, Sonny boy.” I tell him.

 

“Where Kira?” He asks us.

 

“Still waiting, but not as long.” Justin tells us.

 

I got us in the car before asking him what he meant. Linda didn’t need a reason to question my sanity.

 

“Our timeline is different. I'm thirty, not seventeen this time.” He tells me.

 

“You're actually the older one.” I snicker.

 

“Just barely, birthday boy.” He smirks.

 

“Why do you think Kira will come sooner?” I ask.

 

“It’s part of our time line, which isn’t the same anymore because this is another possible life we could have lived. Kira’s birth is a given when we decided to do it.” He tells me.

 

“How? There isn’t a Molly or sister that could make Kira.” I tell him.

 

“Maybe I’m not the only child my parents had. I don’t know for sure, but Kira is part of both of us in some way. You found Gus, and we’ll find a way to have Kira. It might not be Molly, but who knows, she may be here too.” He tells me.

 

“I just can’t imagine a world without Jen.” I tell him.

 

“Even if we don’t find her, I really like your parents.” He tells me.

 

“Just wait, my birthday isn't something my mother allows to go by. She says if she went through birth, I have to go through her celebrating it.” I tell him, smiling at the parties my mother threw.

 

“I love her already, for being the kind of mother you deserve.” He tells me.

 

“When I remembered us, I kept waiting for my parents to change. It's still weird, because the last time my life was essentially the same. This time none of it is.” I tell him.

 

“Did Michael dislike you from the beginning?” I ask.

 

“I've stayed away from all of them. My parents remind me a lot of Jen, only a little of Deb. When I told them I was gay, my father told me all he wanted was for me to be happy, and he was just as proud to be the father of a gay son as he'd been when he didn’t know. My mom said she still expected grandchildren one day. Mom didn't run out and join PFLAG, but only because I asked her not to.” He tells me.

 

“Why?” Justin asks.

 

“Deb still runs it, and I didn’t want to have to hang out with Michael and Ian. Deb treats PFLAG as a place for Michael to find a new boyfriend.” I tell him.

 

“She and Ethan weren’t buddies when they met.” I tell him. “She can't stand him, it's like she needs someone to call asshole and he got the title.”

 

“Is she still defending Michael all the time?” He asks.

 

“That's one change she managed to make. I think it's more to do with her and Vic raising Michael together, since neither one of them is one of his parents. Without the guilt of lying about who his father was, she didn't do the things she did.” I tell him.

 

“Yet she's still looking for a boyfriend for Michael.” He tells me.

 

“She doesn’t like that Ian lives off Michael. ‘The great novelist must only work on his craft, if he's ever going to give me the life he dreams of’, is Michael’s new motto.” I tell him, as we pull into my parents place.

 

“Guess what Gus, you're grandparents are in there.” Justin tells him.

 

“Debbie?” He asks.

 

“Nope Sonny Boy, better.” I tell him getting him out of the car.

 

EMMETT

 

Bill called me to stop the insanity that was Beth buying for their soon-to-be grandson. I loved Beth for dealing with my mother when she showed up in town, worried something was wrong with me moving to hell, as she truly believes. My mother Kitty complained to Beth that her baby lost his mind. Beth told her that was most likely true, but what would the Kinney’s do without me. Brian’s parents were so down to earth in comparison to mine, but I wouldn’t trade Kitty and Greg Honeycutt’s unwavering love for me for anything.

 

I grew up with a mother who could flame brighter than even the biggest queens I knew. And a father who treated us like royalty. It was fabulous to say they were my parents. I knew Mommy would kick Drew’s ass if I asked, but would also tell me that no man was worth hiding my light. It hurt that once again Drew had to hide for fame. On the way back with Beth, I called my mom and told her about Drew. I put Mom on speaker because she and Beth would just use me as a go-between in the middle of the call.

 

“Sweetie, if he doesn't see your worth more, he can marry the woman and be miserable.” Mom tells me.

 

“I love him, I think he and I could be happy.” I tell her.

 

“He couldn’t have anyone better to love him, but make him earn you.” Mom tells me.

 

“I'm not going to let him play games with me.” I tell her.

 

“If you need me, I'll come to hell.” She tells me.

 

“I know, but you might scare the shit out of him, Kitty Honeycutt.” Beth tells her, laughing.

 

“Too bad Emmett and Brian are best friends, they'd make a hell of a team.” Mom tells Beth.

 

“Guess who has a boyfriend and is making me a grandmother?” Beth teases my mom.

 

“Hell here I come, I have to see the man Brian is bringing us. Emmett, did you forget who taught you Gossip 101?” Mom asks, seriously.

 

“We all just found out.” I lie, to save myself, but the truth would have Mom checking me in for a spa retreat.

 

“Daddy and I are coming for our baby. Tell Brian I expect Granny to be my title.” Mom commands, hanging up.

 

“I bet tomorrow.” Beth tells me.

 

“You didn’t factor in that this is a triple.” I tell her.

 

“True. Both you and Brian showing interest in a relationship, and a grandchild. Greg will try for tonight just to hide out with Bill.” She laughs.

 

“He thinks Bill is the sane one.” I giggle.

 

“I know I should wait, but tell me about Justin. I've waited years for Brian to find someone.” She tells me.

 

“Justin’s strong, independent, and smart as hell. He doesn’t have family that I know of, Brian found out he grew up in foster care, but got into college on a scholarship, and bought a publishing firm. I think you're going to love the man he brings out in Brian.” I tell her.

 

“I love anyone who sees my son for the man he is. It's why I love you and Ted.” She tells me.

 

“But not Michael?” I tease.

 

“There are so many reasons I question your friendship with that one.” She laughs, pulling in. “We’ll get back to that, I see my grandson waiting.” She tells me, getting out and running to meet our other baby.

 

JUSTIN

 

I now understand how overwhelming it must have been for Brian when he met my mother the first time. Beth is everything my mother was, only she didn’t have a husband like my Dad. She was also very involved in Brian’s and Emmett’s lives.

 

“Emmett told me you own your own business, but do you like art? It’s Brian’s passion.” She tells me.

 

“I dabble in it, but not as much as I once did. I went into publishing because I loved the way writers welcome you into a new world or show you history in a new light.” I tell her.

 

“Would I know any of your authors?” She asks.

 

“I represent Daphne Chanders and Theo West, those are my best sellers right now.” I tell him.

 

“He turned down Ian.” Brian tells her.

 

“Brian, it’s Ethan, at least that’s all we hear when we get stuck with Deb and Michael.” Beth tells me, rolling her eyes.

 

“I haven’t really met Deb, but Michael and Ethan aren’t big fans of mine.” I tell her.

 

“I’m not big fans of theirs either. I can deal with Deb, but Michael’s temper tantrums just make it hard to want to stick around them.” She tells me.

 

Gus crawled up in my lap and like I did in the past, I started feeding him, not realizing I was doing it. Brian smiled but didn’t really pay attention, because this was normal to us. Beth and Bill watched every move I made and then I realized it did seem odd that Gus and I were this close.

 

“You like Justin, Gus?” Beth asks.

 

“Jussin.” Gus corrects her, since T’s weren’t in his vocabulary yet.

 

“He and Justin met earlier. Gus thinks Justin belongs to him.” Brian tells her.

 

“I think my grandson is just showing you he likes your choice.” Bill tells him.

 

“When will he be with you?” Mom asks Brian.

 

“They have to do a background check, and will probably be calling you, Dad, and Emmett soon, to determine if I’m a good candidate to be Gus’s father.” Brian tells her.

 

“When kids reach Gus’s age they tend to place them faster, because it’s harder when the kids are older.” I tell her.

 

“Emmett told me that you were raised in the system. I hope you don’t mind, I wanted to know about you.” Beth tells me.

 

“I lived in a group home when I was older, and for the most part it wasn’t bad. I was never abused and the pastor that ran it made sure that we all were given a good education. He helped me find scholarships that paid my way thru college. Overall I can’t complain, because I had everything I needed growing up.” I tell her and Brian, who I knew wasn’t thrilled about this.

 

“Even if you and Brian decide to only be friends, my home is always open if you need it.” Beth tells me.

 

“I don’t see him coming here unless we’re together.” Brian assures his mother.

 

“I found your teddy bear, wait here I’ll get it for Gus.” Bill says when Beth stared at Brian and seemed to see something only she and Brian knew.

 

“Bear?” Gus asks Brian.

 

“Here’s Gus Bear, it belonged to…” Bill came in, stopping when he didn’t know what to call Brian for Gus.

 

“Jussin, Gus Bear!” Gus said as he ran to get it.

 

“I used to have one like that, I don’t know what happened to it.” I tell Brian.

 

“Brian threw a fit at the store when he saw it. Which was new because Brian normally didn’t care for anything but clothes. I gave in like a horrible mother, but it was the only time he reacted like that.” Beth tells me.

 

We had to take Gus back and Emmett went with us, after promising to bring his mother over when she arrived. Emmett had to drag Brian and me out the door, because Gus was ours. Linda let Brian know she talked to the social worker on the case and they were just waiting to talk to Brian’s parents. Brian wasn’t thrilled when I told him I needed to be home for Hunter.

 

“He thought something happened to me. I’m always home before morning. I don’t want him scared like that again.” I tell Brian.

 

“I hope he likes house guests.” Brian tells me, following my directions to my house.

 

“He’s still at the smartass stage.” I tell him.

 

“I get to come too, don’t I?” Emmett asks.

 

“Why not, Hunter is going to have to deal with you sooner or later.” Brian tells him.

 

We got to my house and I saw the curtain flutter. I got out so Hunter could see it was me in Brian’s Jeep. “Just remember he’s my brother when you want to kick his ass.” I tell them.

 

Hunter opened the door, acting like the butler and waving them in. “I ate, if you were worried.” He tells me.

 

“I invited you to come with us to lunch.” I tell Hunter.

 

“Wouldn’t want to embarrass your boyfriend.” Hunter says, almost like an insult to Brian.

 

“In those shorts, I could see why.” Brian says sweetly.

 

“Hunter you have new clothes, start wearing them.” I tell him, because the shorts were bordering on my dancer shorts.

 

“Where’s your car?” Hunter asks.

 

“I left it at Brian’s when we went to get Gus.” I tell him.

 

“You had a foursome?” Hunter shows he’s still the mouthy brat he always was.

 

“I can’t believe I miss that.” Brian says laughing.

 

“At least I can work with him, and what I can’t do, Beth and Kitty can.” Emmett tells Hunter.

 

“What?” Hunter asks, not sure how to take either of them.

 

“My mom Kitty loves shaping the future, she’ll be thrilled to have a young mind to ruin.” Emmett tells him.

 

“Are you guys on a bad trip or something?” Hunter asks, walking away and going to his room.

 

“What do you think?” Brian asks.

 

“He’ll get used to you, hopefully not the same way he did in the past.” I giggle.

 

“It wouldn’t matter, I only wanted one stalker for life.” Brian tells me.

 

“Hopefully Ben isn’t three.” Emmett says, getting beers out of the refrigerator and handing one to Brian.

 

“I still think it’s bullshit and it really doesn’t matter because we are here to help Ted.” Brian tells us.

 

“Maybe there’s more that we weren’t told. Remember the last time, everyone was confusing you two.” Emmett tells him.

 

“Marty can’t help either, he told me he only see minutes before Justin does anything. Marty did say he thinks there’s a reason why Cynthia is with Justin.” Brian tells us.

 

“You didn’t tell me that.” I tell him.

 

“I tend to forget when I get you naked. Didn’t we cover that the last time?” Brian kisses me.

 

“Why is there always something no one tells us?” Emmett asks.

 

“Free will, Emmy Lou. We have to be responsible for what we do.” Brian tells him.

 

 

 

Chapter 11 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I got up after Brian left, I told him that I wanted to go to work and see if I could find out why Marty thinks Cynthia has a secret. Hunter was in the kitchen cooking eggs and had the table set. I sat down, not sure what to think of this change in my normally rude and sarcastic roommate.

 

“Is there a reason you’re cooking?” I asked.

 

“I just wanted you to see I can pull my weight.” He tells me.

 

“You think the only reason I let you stay is because you clean my house?” I asked. He shrugged and started cleaning again. Brian was right, I just don’t have it in me to be an asshole or not care about people. I couldn’t play the sarcastic asshole, I stupidly thought would be fun. “Hunter you have a place in my life as long as you want it, and we need to talk about school eventually, you need an education, cleaning my house can’t be what you want to do with the rest of your life.” I tell him.

 

“Your new man might not be happy that you bring me into your relationship.” He tells me.

 

“If he doesn’t, than he isn’t worth my time.” I tell him.

 

“You’d give up someone for me?” He asked, looking like a kid for once.

 

“You're as close to a brother as I’ll ever have.” I tell him, eating the food he made for me. “The shells make it extra crunchy.” I managed, after spitting it in my napkin.

 

“Is that why my mom’s eggs tasted different?” He asks, seriously.

 

“We can pick up something on the way.” I tell him.

 

“One of the other kids wanted to know if there were any jobs she could do?” Hunter asks getting in the car.

 

“How old?” I ask.

 

“About my age, she has a home. It’s just, well, her mother lost her job and she wanted to help. Not all my friends are street kids.” He tells me.

 

“What did the mom do?” I ask.

 

“She worked with for the husband, who decided he wanted the plastic barbie instead of the wife. She was the receptionist at his dental practice. He kicked them out, and isn’t supporting them.” He tells me.

 

“I’ll see if Brian might need help at the gallery for the mom, not the daughter.” I tell him.

 

Hunter got out and went in to get everyone’s order. I came in and took the coffee Marty had in his hand. “My office.” I tell him.

 

Marty followed me past Cynthia, who held out my messages as I passed. Marty came in and put his feet on my desk. “I still employee your ass.” I tell him, moving his feet.

 

“What’s the plan?” He asks me.

 

“That’s right, you don’t know it all this time.” I snicker.

 

“You and Brian are just loving this aren’t you?” He asks me.

 

“Why do you think Cynthia is here as more than my PA?” I ask.

 

“When she first started here with us she asked a lot of questions about you. She figured out if she wanted to keep her job, she should stop. You broadcast ‘Fuck Off’, when anyone asked about your past.” He tells me.

 

“She could have just been curious.” I tell him.

 

“She asked if anyone knew your foster parents, not parents. Which is how I found out that you didn’t have parents this time.” He tells me.

 

“If you figure anything out, let me know. Do you know anything about what’s up with Ben? This was really supposed to be simple; get Ted and Blake to see they were meant for each other. I have other things I want to do, not deal with Ben.” I tell him.

 

“The thing you and Emmett were saying makes more sense.” He tells me.

 

“Brian thinks it’s crazy, but when you start looking at the things in our past; Ben got what Michael never did, but then dealt with Brian’s usual brush off the next day. That had to fuck with Ben’s ego.” I tell him.

 

“Or he really thought he and Brian made a better partnership. They’re both professionals and could carry themselves well in social functions. In essence, a power couple that even Eli and Monty would approve of.” He tells me.

 

“Only Brian never wanted the kind of life Ben made with Michael. He also didn’t want a repeat with Ben. Ben had to get a clue when in each life, Brian and I are together, it never changes.” I tell him.

 

“That would hit a nerve, when you think about it.” He tells me.

 

“Only if Ben had feelings for Brian the whole time.” I tell him.

 

“I'll see if I can get him to tell me why he's doing this.” He tells me.

 

“Brian wants to concentrate on getting Ted and Blake together. He’s going to be adopting Gus and we have to figure out how Kira is possible. He doesn’t care about Ben.” I tell him.

 

“But you do?” He asks me.

 

“I spent two lives dealing with Lindsay and Michael’s wishful thinking. I don’t need Ben taking their place. He knows that you know, but he has no idea I know anything. I want to keep it that way.” I tell him.

 

“Why?” He tells me.

 

“He’s here, knows, and once again he’s hanging out with Michael, not even checking on the son he wanted, or that Hunter could end up HIV positive. Let’s just say, I think as far as priorities go, Ben’s seem to constantly be chasing after all the wrong things.” I tell him.

 

“What do you want to do about this piece of trash?” He asks, pointing at the book.

 

“Why Marty, we are going to publish his first book.” I smirk.

 

“Why?” He asks puzzled.

 

“Ben forgot one thing as he wrote this book.” I tell him.

 

“The reader.” He smiles.

 

“Who would pick Zen when they could have the bad boy with the heart of gold?” I ask him.

 

BRIAN

 

Emmett and I got up early so I could get Justin’s car back to him. Kitty called to tell us that she arrived and wanted breakfast with her baby. Emmett acts like she can be a pain in the ass, but he loves what he didn’t have with his family in the last life. I kissed Justin before letting him sink back into the blankets, complaining that he didn’t open his office till nine for a reason. Hunter was waiting at the front door, happy to slam it when we walked out.

 

“I think he likes us.” I joke.

 

“He’ll like me, everyone does. You on the other hand will have him making sure you don’t treat Justin like shit.” Emmett laughs.

 

“I’ll never get how the two of them went from fighting over me in one life, to joining forces against me in the next two.” I tell him.

 

I dropped Emmett off and went to see Gus. I got there and found the social worker, Patty, there. Linda was smiling at me when Gus ran to me.

 

“Gus took to Brian the first time they met.” Linda tells her.

 

“I have an appointment to speak to your parents. We received your background checks which came back clean, when I finish speaking to everyone then we get to meet and hopefully Gus will be going home with you until the adoption is final.” Patty tells me.

 

“My parents are home and all the people you need to talk to are available when you want to talk to them.” I tell her.

 

“Linda mentioned you brought your boyfriend to see Gus.” Patty tells me.

 

“We both want to adopt Gus, but I didn’t want our relationship to be a reason I couldn’t adopt him.” I tell her.

 

“All I care about is that Gus will have a home and be loved. If you and your partner want to share that responsibility, good for Gus. I’ll call you in the next day or two.” She tells me, before getting up to leave.

 

Gus and I left to go see Justin with the good news. Cynthia looked up from her computer and smiled, asking if she could help me.

 

“Cyn, Dada.” Gus tells me excited.

 

“Brian, Justin’s on a call. Cynthia, this is Justin’s boyfriend Brian Kinney. Justin’s assistant, Cynthia.” Marty smiles as he introduces us.

 

“Justin’s dating?” Cynthia asks.

 

Justin opened his door, bending down when Gus ran to him. Cynthia looked confused at Justin and Gus. Hunter came in, rolling his eyes when he saw me. “Now you bring a kid to replace me.” He says, not really concerned. “I got everyone lunch, it’s in the break room.” He announces.

 

“I was hoping to take us out to celebrate, the social worker told me Gus is only an interview away from coming home to us.” I tell Justin.

 

“Let me grab my phone and we can go. That means you too Hunter.” Justin tells us.

 

“We could invite Marty and Cynthia too.” I tell him.

 

“Oh… I … already got lunch.” Cynthia stumbled through.

 

“Maybe another time, I’ll be around a lot to see Justin.” I tell her.

 

“That’s great, well you guys need to go right?” She tells me.

 

“I really wanted the sandwich I got, so have fun.” Marty tells us.

 

Justin and Gus come, dragging Hunter with us. “I don’t like food people have to explain.” Hunter tells me.

 

“By the way, Blake is coming home tomorrow.” Justin tells me.

 

“I still think we should lock them up together, so Blake can see what happens when Ted doesn’t have him in his life.” I tell him.

 

 

 

Chapter 12 by starlight

BRIAN


After taking Gus back I waited around until Cynthia left the office. Marty tried to see if he could get something out of Cynthia but he didn’t know the woman I knew. If she didn’t want you to know something, you would never find out. When she started to walk by me, I looped my arm through hers and put her in my car.


“Stay. We need to talk.” I tell her, when she tries to get out.


“Why?” She asks.


“I heard you asked a lot of questions about Justin.” I tell her.


“I was curious, nothing more.” She lies to me.


“Curious doesn’t explain how you knew Justin didn’t have family.” I tell her.


“What are you asking me?” She asks.


“I’m curious, what do you have to do with Justin?” I ask her.


“I work for the man, it’s natural to wonder about him.” She dodges.


“What are you hiding?” I ask her, when I got in the car.


“I’m not hiding anything, and would you move, my cousin needs me.” She tells me, as we drive off.


“I love Justin, if something you know could hurt him, I need to know it.” I tell her.


“He doesn’t do love, or relationships, or even friendships, so you won’t be around long enough for me to worry about.” She tells me.


“I hear you, but you don’t know him if you think that, and you’ll never get your answers if you don’t talk.” I tell her.


“What answers do you think I want?” She asks.


“You asked about his personal life, not about what kind of boss he is. I assume it’s personal.” I tell her.


“I have plans with my cousin, so how about we do this later, or never.” She tells me.


“I’ll just follow you, or you can ask me what you want to know and we’ll both get the answers we want.” I tell her.


“Only he could answer me, not a lover he’s giving five minutes of his time to.” She tells me.


I really wanted to ask if she was channeling Mikey. “I hope where your cousin needed to go wasn’t important, I have all night.” I tell her.


“You’re persistent, but then you’d need to be if you expect anything from him.” She tells me. I smile and continue driving her until she tells me to stop in front of a house. “Look, can you chase me later? I really need to help my cousin.” She tells me, as the door opens.


I stopped smiling when I saw Jen, she looked tired and defeated. This was not the woman I knew who had a spine of steel. She smiled at Cynthia. “Hey, they told me they didn’t need me to fill in tonight for the other waitress.” She tells Cynthia.


“Shit, I could still see if I could get you a job at the firm.” She tells Jen.


“I don’t want charity.” She tells her.


“What kind of a job would you consider?” I ask, with Cynthia glaring at me to go away.


“A job is a job at this point. I was a receptionist for my soon to be ex.” She tells me.


“Can you work during the day? My gallery only opens at night for shows.” I tell her, excited that she was standing in front of me.


“Why are you offering me a job?” She asks.


“Let’s just say, I hate bastards that don’t support their families. Take my card and you can meet with me and my partner and discuss the job and salary. It would mean traveling once in a while, since I own galleries all over the world.” I tell her.


“I have children who I can’t just leave behind.” She tells me.


“Think about it and get back to me, by the way I’m Brian Kinney.” I tell her, dragging a protesting Cynthia with me. I pulled her into a coffee shop and sat her down, giving her a glare when she tried to get up and leave. I get her favorite coffee and put it in front of her, trying not to laugh when she stares at me for giving her what she used to chug when we worked late nights.


“You’re nuts. Offering jobs to people you barely know.” She tells me.


“Why didn’t you just say you know Justin’s birth mother?” I ask.


“Why would you think…”


“Why did she give him up?” I ask, interrupting her.


“Fuck, I don’t want her to get her hopes up and have Justin reject her. How did you even figure it out?” She asks, confused.


“I was guessing, but you just answered for me. Now answer me, why did she give Justin up?” I ask.


“Because the fucker she married didn’t want him. They were still in high school and not married at the time. She didn’t have anyone to help her because the family wasn’t happy with her getting pregnant and being unmarried. She did what the man she loved wanted and ended up not only giving up her child but dropping out of high school when her father found out. He disowned her, for Craig and for embarrassing the family.” She tells me, making me curse up a storm in my head that he was still connected to Justin.


“None of Jen’s family is willing to help her now?” I ask.


“They closed ranks when she married Craig. Then she couldn’t face the people we know when Craig made her a laughingstock in our circles. None of them are worth what she’d have to endure to get in their good graces.” She tells me.


I knew Justin still had contact with a grandmother in our previous life, but he never really bothered much beyond the occasional letter. “She wants to get to know Justin?” I ask.


“Yes, very much, but she doesn’t feel like she deserves to know Justin. I think a lot of it is that she and Craig had two other children. She worries about how Justin would take that they gave him up and went on to have two more kids.” She tells me.


“Two, not one?” I ask.


“Didn’t I just say that?” She asks slowly, like I’m an idiot.


“I want to be able to explain it to Justin.” I tell her.


“I wasn’t going to tell the asshole. Jen doesn’t need another person turning on her.” She tells me.


“He deserves to know, and be given a chance to decide for himself. Where do you fit in?” I ask.


“Jen and I are cousins, unlike the family, I don’t throw the people I love out of my life.” She tells me.


“I never asked, but what was Craig’s last name?” I ask her.


“Stewart, why?” She asks.


“In case Justin wanted to know.” I tell her.


“He wouldn’t, Craig’s a controlling jackass.” She tells me.


“Nothing new there, what are his siblings names?” I ask.


“Mandy and Brittany, who are nineteen and fifteen, anything else?” She asks, sarcastically.


I shook my head and stayed, wondering why their names were different this time. I get why Jen would be worried. It would be one thing to give up a child, but to go on with the same person and have two more, would make it less likely the child you gave up would understand.


A shadow fell over me, and there was the other nuisance in my life, with Mikey and Ian.


“Hello. Alone I see.” Ben smirks at me.


“I was picking up Justin his favorites, I want the man I love to have everything his heart desires. I guess I should pick up something for Hunter too, just so he knows he’s just as important.” I tell him.


“Why are you wasting your time with him?” Ethan asks.


“Good question Ian, one that I don’t get either.” I tell Ben.


“ETHAN, his… name… is…. ETHAN!” Michael yells, for everyone to hear.


“Whatever you say Mikey.” I leave as Michael yells not to call him that.


Ben of course, followed me out the door. “You couldn’t leave Justin alone could you?” He tells me.


“He’s everything you and the rest of the tricks weren’t.” I tell him.


“You never gave anyone the chance.” Ben whispers.


“Why would I? I never loved anyone but Justin.” I tell him.


“You stayed all night.” He tells me.


“We fucked all night, nothing new for me.” I tell him.


“Keep telling yourself that.” He tells me, walking back to Michael.


“You had a chance to walk away and live a different life.” I tell him.


“I never wanted to walk away.” He tells me, going in.


EMMETT


Kitty and Beth ordered in all my comfort foods and pulled blankets over us. Mom handed me buttered pecan ice cream while she and Beth shared the fudge brownie. My dad kissed my head and said he and Bill were going to play golf while the moms took care of me.


“So Teddy broke up with Ben and I sort of made an ass of myself in front of a few hundred people.” I finish telling her.


“Now back up to this Justin guy, why do you think Brian and him are meant to be?” She asks.


“Wait till you meet Justin, trust me, there’s enough electricity between him and Brian to light up a city.” Beth tells her.


“You don’t want to talk about Ben and Teddy?” I ask.


“I didn’t get Ben and Teddy, so them breaking up makes sense to me. We will talk about Drew when he get’s out of the closet, not before.” Mom tells me.


“But Teddy and Ben had things in common.” I tell her, avoiding the whole Brian, Justin thing.


“Ted needs someone who loves him, not likes him a little.” Beth tells me.


“Plus, I think Ben was really interested in someone else.” Mom tells me.


“Justin and I think he wants Brian, but Ben is running around acting like he wants Justin. Only Justin says he knows when someone wants him and Ben never gave him that vibe, in all the time he knew Ben.” I tell them.



“Didn’t Justin just meet Ben?” Beth asks.


“I know when someone’s interested and when their not when I meet people.” I tell them, sticking a huge spoonful of ice cream in my big mouth, hoping they will drop that line of questions.


“Ben better think twice before messing up this relationship for Brian.” Beth tells us.


“Especially when our grandson is coming.” Mom tells her.


“You should have seen how much Gus already loves Justin.” Beth tells her.


“Wait till you meet Hunter.” I tell the mom brigade.


“Hunter?” They ask together.


“Justin took in a teen who need a place. I think Hunter needs to know he’s welcome too.” I tell them.


They threw off the blanket and ordered me call Justin and Brian and tell them they were coming for dinner with the family. “Oh, and if you want to bring Mr Closet, feel free.” Mom tells me, calling for reservations.


“He’s eating at Le Mont with his beard tonight. The owner told me, after hearing about Drew and I.” I tell her.


“Then he can sit and watch us.” Mom tells me, canceling the first reservation and calling for our standard table at Le Mont.


JUSTIN


Brian showed up, telling Hunter to get dressed for dinner, then told me we need to talk. We got to my bedroom, shutting the door.


“I found Jen.” He tells me.


“Where, is she okay, is Molly? “ I ask.


“I’ll explain, but I remember something from the last time. Vic told me one of the reasons you have to be careful is because of cause and effect. What you change, changes the way things play out. You being an orphan, changed your mother and father too. Your age comes into play here too.” I tell him.


“I fucked up.” He groans.


“Jen had you as a teen, not later after being married to Craig.” I tell him.


“And what are you trying to not tell me?” He asks.


“Your mother had more children with Craig after putting you up for adoption. Cynthia is somehow your mother’s cousin, who was feeling you out about how welcome you would be to Jen.” I tell him.


“How old is Molly… wait children?” He asks.


“You have two sisters.” I tell him.


“That’s fucked up, but then I sort of did this to myself.” He tells me.


“I offered Jen a job.” I tell him, holding back what he’s going to blame himself for.


“Why?”


“Your father tossed her and your sisters out. Apparently your mother’s family weren’t very helpful.” I tell him.


“Brian, I was still writing letters to my grandmother, not because she cared, but because it was expected of me.” He tells me.


“How would Grandmother feel about her daughter getting pregnant in high school and dropping out?” I ask him.


“The same way Craig reacted to me being gay.” He explains.


Hunter knocked on the door and said Blake was here. “We’ll figure it out later.” I tell him.


Justin walked out to greet Blake. Blake looked at me, then ignored me. It was only a moment, but there was recognition in his eyes.


“We need to talk.” I tell Blake.

 

Chapter 13 by starlight

BRIAN


I'll give it to Blake, when he wants to avoid something, he manages it without being obvious. Only Justin knows Blake past and present, and one thing Justin was always capable of was making you face yourself. Watching him act like he had no idea who Emmett was, showed me I underestimated Blake's ability to act his ass off. I wanted to ask if he was as frustrated as I was when I did this the last time, knowing everything.


He tried to get out of going to the restaurant with us, but Justin told him they needed to talk about the new book and the car ride would give them enough time to discuss it. I could see the frustration in Blake when Justin kept veering off subject and then telling Blake since they hadn't had a chance to talk, he might as well eat with us. Blake followed my sneaky twat into the restaurant, not ready to come face to face with Emmett’s surprise.


Blake took one look at Ted and ran to the bathroom. I followed him in and stood next to him at the sink. “When did you figure it out?” I ask him.


“What are you talking about?” He asks.


“Running isn’t going to change his life. Ted was always a workaholic, but you gave him a reason to turn off the computer and throw the paperwork in a drawer. Without you he would have died at his desk, because you were his reason to stop and enjoy life. Without you he’ll never fully invest himself in a relationship.” I tell him.


“You know, there are doctors who can help you.” He tells me, trying to blow it off.


“I always come back when Justin does, it’s because neither of us can exist without the other. The first time, neither of us knew, but for some reason he was the one person I couldn’t push away. We stumbled through in the dark, hurting each other, but kept coming back because our relationship was and always will be our strength. We got to try again, knowing where we went wrong, and we built a life we were proud of, you have that chance with Ted.” I tell him.


“Without me, he wouldn’t have almost died, he wouldn't have screwed up with crystal. I saw the life we lived before.” He tells me, finally relenting.


“Ben’s been a busy boy. I’m assuming he showed you the time line that we wiped out of existence. We did that because it was never supposed to happen, therefore you need to ask why Ben was showing it to you. Especially when he showed up and dated Ted.” I tell him.


“What?” Blake asks.


“Ted didn’t meet the man who owns half his soul, so Ben was able to slip in there. Only you can be what you are to Ted. If you want to continue this idiotic idea that Ted would be better off without you, then Ted will end up like Michael, going from one person to the next, never really being able to love anyone. Or you go out there and meet Ted, who doesn’t come with baggage, because my twat seems to think we all need to have loving homes instead of the shitty ones we came from.” I tell him.


“Justin was the one person who never brought up my past. I know it's why I went to him, he was the little part of the past I allowed myself.” He tells me.


“You're going to miss out on the best parts if you let what Ben showed you be the only thing you see.” I tell him.


Blake closed his eyes before nodding.


“It’s a clean slate this time. It’s amazing the life you can live when you know where things went wrong. Don’t let Ben do what Lindsay tried with Justin and me.” I tell him.


Emmett and Justin came waltzing in, like it was my conference room and not a bathroom.


“Drew just showed up, I needed a minute.” Emmett tells us.


“I’m just the guy Emmett drags around, in every life.” Justin laughs.


“You all remember? But you didn’t even recognize me when I came to you.” Blake tells Justin.


“I only recently started remembering. I had hints in my dreams, but it took Brian showing up for it all to come back. How long have you known?” Justin asks him.


“I came back already an adult, living a life this me was already living. I'm just thankful my family was still the same and I only had a few people I consider friends. It took coming to your office with my book and seeing you before I figured out I wasn't crazy.” He tells Justin.


“I almost checked in to treat my crazy. When I was young like Gus, my mom tried to tell me my imaginary friends needed to go. I kept seeing all of you in my head and decided to ‘come to hell’ as my mom puts it, and find out if the psych ward was missing a patient. It really sucked to find Michael first, but Teddy was there, so it made Michael still being a pain in the ass easier. I think Brian understood when I nearly strangled him to death when we met.” Emmett tells him.


“You've known the whole time?” Blake asks me.


“I guess I did when I was younger. My parents recently reminded me about the teddy bear I threw a fit over in the store. According to my mother it was unusual for me to throw tantrums, but it was like the one Jen gave me for Gus when Justin died in the life before. I don't remember, but Marty said we forget eventually as we grow up. For me, it was during one of Ian’s ‘I'm superior’ speeches; he compared himself to great musicians and artists, then it all came flooding back. Unlike Emmett though, I knew why I was back, to get you and Ted on track. Which means you need to stop seeing a life that no longer exists. I have children who are waiting for the life Justin and I constantly come back to have.” I tell him.


“I don’t understand why Ben did this, why make me see all the horrible parts of Ted and I?” Blake asks.


“Justin and I have our theory, but Brian doesn’t believe us.” Emmett tells him, sitting on the counter with Justin, making themselves at home.


“We sort of want Ben to think I'm still in the dark.” Justin tells him, with twinkle dee nodding like a bobble-head doll next to him.


“Ben keeps making it seem like he wants Justin.” Emmett adds.


“Only he never really bothered much with me unless Brian was around, and I discount Michael because if Michael was around so was Brian. Well, not when I left Brian the first time, but in a way I think Ben saw it as his in with Brian.” Justin tells him, starting to worry me that he and Emmett share a brain.


“Here's the part where you have to allow a bit of poetic license, the way Ben did with the story of Justin and Brian’s life. We think Ben thought that with Justin out of the picture, he, with Michael’s help, would comfort Brian.” Emmett tells him.


“Only in usual Mikey fashion, he wanted Brian alone and left Ben to sit home while only Mikey got to help Brian get over the ‘twink that wouldn’t leave’.” Justin tells him, enjoying this way too much.


“Ben never seemed like he wanted Brian.” Blake tells them, proving to be the sane one.


“I forgot to ask, what happened after the night with Ben at The White Party?” Justin asks me.


“Nothing different, I fucked the guys worth my time and came home.” I tell him.


“You know I meant with Ben.” He tells me.


“He wanted a repeat, but he wasn't really that interesting in bed.” I tell him.


“In other words, you gave him the speech and left him.” Emmett tells me.


“He tried what Justin did, only I wasn’t interested and told him he didn’t even make my top ten. Then I grabbed a set of twins right in front of him and rounded out the week.” I tell him.


“Which you didn’t do to a seventeen year old. If Ben saw Justin pulling the same trick but got your attention, it had to piss him off. Here Ben is a guy most men stop to stare at, and there's Justin, a kid managing to get your attention. In his head he probably thought ‘why Justin’ and not a man who felt he was you equal in looks, intelligence and career goals.” Emmett tells us.


“Only if he saw any of the ‘Justin and Brian’ show.” Blake tells us.


“It's only a theory, since we can't go back and find out, but Ben was around Pittsburgh, so he could've been watching Brian the whole time. Justin and I think it explains his relationship with Michael, since nothing else does.” Emmett tells him.


“He was.” Blake tells us.


“What?” Justin asks.


“Ben. He was around. Remember, I hung out at Babylon, when I did I was always looking for ways to see Ted, and in order to do that it was from the crowded catwalks. I remember bumping into Ben, but we didn’t know each other. Only we were looking for the same group and ended up in some of the same parts of the club trying to watch.” Blake tells us.


“Why didn’t you remember Ben when you met him later?” Emmett asks.


“Because now I see things without my friend crystal. At the time, I didn’t remember anything because I was high all the time. It makes me question why Ben offered to spot me at the gym when I showed up to try and get Michael to give Ted space. I thought he was just trying to break the tension between Michael and me. Maybe he was trying to see if I remembered we were both stalking the group.” Blake adds to the wonder twins theory.


“Since we're here for you and Ted can we get with the program? Ben isn't important.” I tell them.


“We didn’t want to believe Lindsay was either.” Justin reminds me.


I went to the counter and stepped between Justin’s legs. Putting our heads together. “Nothing she did could have separated us. Even having to wait years, we found a way back. Ben can want forever, but he can never give me what you always have and always will.” I tell him, kissing him softly.


The bathroom door opens and Kitty walks in. “Have you had enough girl time? Some of us have people to insult. My baby needs to show Drew that NO ONE ignores a Honeycutt.” She tells us. “Plus, as cute as Justin’s ass is, I'd like to get to know more about him than why Brian’s eyes are always glued to it.” She tells me, pulling Justin to her.


Why do people with the name Honeycutt think Justin belongs to them? I pulled my twink away and dragged him behind me, while Emmett laughed up a storm.









Chapter 14 by starlight

TED


I could strangle them for leaving me at the table. The moms were all over me, asking if I was okay after breaking up with Ben. It sucked that other than being single, it didn’t bother me. I at least wanted to say there was something I would miss, but other than having a someone to do things with, that was it. It bothered me even more when I was practically knocked on my ass by a guy who didn’t even talk to me, but took off when he saw me, as if I scared the shit out of him.


After sitting around watching the kid, Hunter eat like the food would disappear, Kitty decided we needed the boys to stop playing in the bathroom. We watched as Kitty marched Emmett around, introducing her son to every man in the restaurant, before sitting down in the seats that put Emmett in Drew’s line of sight. Blake sat next to me, and I watched as he almost touched me, but pulled back like I'd burn him. I just had enough, and excused myself so Blake would stop acting like he didn't like me for some reason. I ignored everyone when they tried to get me to come back. It wasn’t really making my day to have this guy treat me like I wasn't welcome to breathe the same air.


I was outside headed towards my car when the asshole runs up to me.


“I got the message loud and clear in the restaurant. If you don’t like me for some reason, I honestly don't give a fuck.” I tell him.


“You're so different. More confident.” He says softly.


“Why wouldn't I be?” I ask.


“No reason, I just wanted to introduce myself since you caught me at my worst. I'm Blake, or Theo West, but my friends call me Blake.” He tells me.


“I'm Ted, and don’t feel like you have to talk to me. It's obvious you didn’t want to.” I tell him.


“I'm not used to being attracted to someone the minute I see them.” He tells me.


“Okay, but Brian seems to be all into this Justin guy, so you might be disappointed.” I joke, to cover my delight.


“Brian could probably turn as many heads as Justin can, but somehow it seems only you render me speechless.” He tells me.


“I should tell you, I just got out of a relationship.” I tell him.


“Did you love him?” He asks.


“That’s a conversation that requires coffee and maybe some pie.” I tell him.


“I love coffee and wouldn’t mind pie.” He tells me.


“My car’s right here, all you have to do is get in and we’ll find a place to talk.” I tell him.


“Just so you know, your confidence is a big turn on.” Blake tells me.


We went to a bakery I liked and I went to up order a few different slices to share with him. It was like all the excitement I’d been missing was there in the man waiting for his coffee. I wanted to know about him. I could talk about Ben, but right now I just was interested in Blake. He talked about his family and how he decided to give his dream to write a chance.


“What about men? You must have guys lined up, waiting for a chance with you.” I tell him.


“There was one person, I spent all my time never feeling like I was good enough for him. Which was stupid because he never made me feel that way. He always made sure I knew he loved me, and I ran away upset, and lost the chance to live my life with him.” He tells me.


“You’re still capable of winning him back.” I point out.


“He’s no longer available, and truthfully I want a relationship where I feel we start on common ground.” He tells me.


“We might not have anything in common.” I tell him.


“I’m simple, I like staying home, with occasional nights out with friends. Taking trips with the idea of relaxing, not planning every minute of the trip, and my guilty pleasure is listening to opera or seeing one.” He tells me.


“I have a box at the opera.” I tell him.


“Some things never change.” He tells me, kissing me before I can ask what he meant, but then, I really didn’t care.


EMMETT


“Emmett, the art of driving a man insane is ignoring him.” My mother tells me, when I stared back a Drew staring at me.


“I've heard stalking works.” Brian jokes, as Justin glares at him.


“I remember this guy who chased after the one everyone wanted, he never got past the title of ‘best friend’. I would call what he did stalking.” Justin tells him.


“You think Ted was okay?” Beth asks us.


“If the way Blake and Ted looked at each other is any indication, I doubt breaking up with Ben really bothered Ted.” Kitty tells her.


“I liked Ben, but always got the feeling he used Ted to hang out with Emmett and Brian.” Beth says, making me smirk at Brian.


“What made you think that?” Justin asks.


“I love meeting all of Brian’s friends, and don't mind if they show up without him, but Ben showed up, never being brought over by Brian. Ted was with him, but Ben barely let Ted talk.” Beth tells us.


“We got to hear all about Ben, it felt like he was trying to impress us. It came off as self absorbed, it's why we thought Ted could do better.” Bill tells us.


“He tends to talk like he's lecturing you, I told him he had years before he knew more than me.” My dad tells us.


“Isn’t that the guy who was trying to tell you Brian wasn’t good enough for you?” Hunter asks Justin, losing any way to win with Beth and Bill.


“Hunter, we talked about spying for the office.” Justin tells him.


“I just wanted to watch you give him your ‘get lost special’.” Hunter tells him, pulling Justin’s plate to him.


“Ben isn't making my happy list. Unfortunately I'll probably make his, since I sent his book to get published.” Justin tells us.


“I thought you didn't like how he wrote the characters?” I ask.


“It's more that people will by it, then my personal opinion on it. Ben writes one of the main characters as if everything he did was wrong for the guy he loves. The market we are going to aim it at, loves when the bad boy wins over the perfect one.” Justin tells us.


“Excuse me, can I talk to you?” Drew interrupts us.


“And you would be?” My mother asks crisply.


“Drew Boyd.” He says, as if everyone should know.


“Is your name supposed to mean something?” My mom asks, looking confused, and enjoying his discomfort.


“I just need to talk to Emmett. My agent isn't happy that he caused some rumors to start.” He tells her.


“Rumors come from hiding the truth.” I tell him.


“I’m getting married, and I don’t need the crap you pulled.” Drew tells me, getting all in my personal space.


“Then stay the hell away from me. If I cause problems, the answer is easy, don’t come near me. I was sitting here with my family, minding my own business. YOU'RE the one who came to our table, most likely causing all the problems your agent worries will out your ass!” I yell.


“What do you expect, when you're practically flirting with every man in the room!” Drew yells back.


“I can flirt all I want, I’m not pretending I’m anything but GAY!” I yell, standing up and getting up in his face.


“I don’t like it.” He tells me.


“TOO BAD, I am not your property to jerk around. I….” the rest of that sentence was lost in the lips I dream about every night.


“What is it about you?” He asks, me pulling me back to kiss me again.


“See, stalking works.” Justin adds, as they all get up to leave me with Drew.


JUSTIN


On the way home I drove by my mother’s house, and then circled and drove by it again.


“Stalking your mother’s house when she doesn’t know, could be considered strange.” Brian tells me as we drive by again.


“You found your mom?” Hunter asks.


“Brian did, apparently Cynthia’s my cousin or something.” I tell him, stopping this time.


“Remember when I told you my friend was looking for a way to help her mom?” Hunter asks me.


“Yes, I already told you I’d ask Brian if he had a job for the mom, not the kid.” I tell him.


“I offered your mom the job here.” Brian tells me.


“Hello, can you two listen for a second?” Hunter asks.


“What?” I ask him.


“My friend lives in your mom’s house.” Hunter tells me.


“What’s her name?” Brian asks.


“Brittney. She and I hang out when I come with Justin to work. She’s been skipping school because the kids that go to the uppity school she still attends treat her like it’s her fault her dad kicked them out.” Hunter tells him.


“Would it be strange for you to show up at their house?” Brian asks.


“Jen never minds if I stop by.” Hunter tells us.


“Do they have everything they need?” I ask.


“Jen makes sure they have the basics, which is more than my mother and father do. Jen’s really big on taking care of her family by working her ass off.” He tells me.


“How would you feel about helping me meet my family?” I ask.


“It’s what brother’s do, right?” He asks me, getting out and going to the door.

 

I got out and followed him with Brian, when Mom opened the door she smiled at Hunter then looked over to me covering her mouth. “I’ve waited so long.” She tells me, stopping before she hugged me. I didn’t let that stop me, this was my mom.

Chapter 15 by starlight

JUSTIN


My mother welcomed us into her apartment. It wasn't like her place when she left my dad last time. It sort of reminds me of the place I rented when I left Brian, only it had two rooms and a bathroom. I was curious about my sisters, in the last go, Mom had a baby later in life.


“I'm sure you have a lot of questions.” She tells me.


“Brian filled in a lot of the blanks, I really only wanted to meet you. Hunter helped because he knows Brittany.” I tell her.


“I can go get them, if you want to meet them. They know about you, I told both of them about you when I started searching for you. I want you to know I didn't give you up because I wanted to, but in hopes of giving you a better life. If I had known what your father was going to be like, I'd have given him up instead of you.” She tells me.


“It's the past, and I understand that sometimes you make decisions based on what you thought you wanted, but figured out later it wasn't.” I tell her.


“If you want to know anything about your father, it's better to ask before the girls join us. I also need to explain about Brittney before you meet her.” She tells me.


“I came because I want to see if we can build a relationship. I need to tell you that I'm gay, because if it's a problem than we might as well decide not to continue.” I tell her.


“I don’t care. All I want is a chance to know you. It will be a problem for Craig though, he’s a narrow minded bigot.” She tells me.


“Nothing new there, I mean from the way he treated you and my sisters, I didn’t have any thoughts of trying to have a relationship with him. What did you need to explain about Brittany?” I ask.


“Craig and I broke up for six months, and when we decided to try again, I'd been seeing someone. After we got back together I found out I was pregnant. I was honest with him and told him that she could be from the man I was seeing. Craig said he wouldn't care as long as we worked out our problems. Only he wasn’t happy to find out Brittany wasn’t his, and no longer tried to work on our relationship, but didn't want a divorce. I should've left, but I wanted the girls to have a normal life, with parents who were married. He always made Brittany feel as if she was an outsider in the family, going out of his way to show her that Mandy was all he cared about. It still bothers me that it took him kicking us out for me to leave, but I didn’t have a way to support us. Bree, which is what we call her, has been acting out since we left Craig. He's been paying barely enough support and is stalling the divorce so he can punish me for not looking the other way when he cheated with his newest bimbo. He pays for the girls to go to school, but only takes Mandy on his visits and sends her home with things I can't give Bree. So please be patient with Bree.” She tells me.


“Where is Bree’s father?” Brian asks.


“He left for a job in another state when I went back to Craig. I didn’t tell him about Bree, because I was still trying to work things out with Craig.” She tells him.


“He should really be given the opportunity to know he has a daughter.” I tell her.


“He didn’t leave me a way to contact him. The truth is, I didn’t want to risk Bree having another father not willing to be there for her.” She tells us.


“It wouldn’t hurt to at least talk to him without Bree around and see if what you believe is true. He left you, not her, most likely because seeing you wouldn’t help him get over you. Give me a name and I’ll see if we can find him for you.” Brian tell her.


“Why would you want to help me? I’m the woman who chose a bastard over her own baby.” She tells him.


“Did you forget about that baby? No. Because you looked and found him. It was a decision that kept Justin from living with a man who would tell him he couldn’t be anything but what Craig wanted him to be. Justin was the one who escaped that life, while you had to live with the asshole.”  Brian tells her.


“Tucker Shaw.” Jen tells us.


“I’ll see what I can find out for you. And if you want, I’ll contact him so you don’t face the possibility he isn’t happy finding out. Before you say anything, it’s something I want to do for the woman who gave me Justin. The job I offered also comes with Justin and I willing to help you with the girls. We will make sure they know we want both of them equally in our lives.” Brian tells her.


“Cynthia mentioned you two started dating.” She tells us.


“We've past dating years ago, right now we're in the process of adopting a son.” Brian tells her.


“So it’s serious between you two?” She asks.


“We wanted Justin to find his birth family before we took the next step. So you’re getting a son-in-law along with your son.” Brian tells her.


“As long as Justin’s life is what he wanted, a son-in-law and grandson are just perfect.” She tells me, smiling.


“Hey Hunter. What's with the old guys?” We hear someone ask.


“Bree be nice, my friend came to meet you.” Hunter tells her.


“The one you were going to ask?” She asks.


“Bree, can you tell Mandy to come out here, Justin wants to meet both of you.” My mom tells her.


“I'm sure he's just thrilled to meet the kids you kept after throwing him away.” She says, rolling her eyes, as she screams for Mandy.


“It's her Brian, it’s Molly.” I whispered, as she came in running.


“Jesus Bree, I thought someone was hurt the way you yelled.” Mandy says.


“Mom wants to introduce us to the kid she loves most.” Bree says sarcastically.


“Bree stop, he's really cool.” Hunter tells her.


“Of course you'd think so, he’s the father you dream about.” She tells him.


“I'm hoping you'll give Brian and me the chance to show you we can be the brothers you and Mol.. Mandy could want.” I tell her.


“I don’t have any illusions about anything, people disappoint you when you want something.” Bree tells me.


BRIAN


I always believed Craig couldn’t sink any lower in my eyes, but witnessing what Justin’s life would have been if he stayed with Craig, said ‘Yes Craig could’. This was what I knew Justin staying with Craig would have been like.


“Honey, it was my fault, not yours that he acts the way he does.” Jen tells her.


“Put the blame on the people who act like assholes. It's something Justin taught me. My parents had me to get more money to buy the things they loved more. It wasn’t me, it was them.” Hunter tells her.


“Hunter curb the language.” Justin tells him.


“Sure thing, DAD.” Hunter smirks.


“At least he's dressed better.” Justin snickers.


“We are going to learn fashion if it kills this family.” I tell Justin.


“See, Brian gets cranky if you don’t let him dress you out, so unless you hate shopping you won't be disappointed.” Justin tells Bree.


“I only agreed to make this a relationship work because you discovered Versace. Before, it was all cargos and clothes that could best be described as paint rags. I pray that you’ll help me make Justin see that carbs are not required for all seven meals he thinks he needs everyday.” I tell them.


Bree tried not to laugh, wanting to play the sulky teen. So I made sure she would, because my namesake was never meant to be this unhappy in life, I wanted my Bree to be the happy child we all spoiled last time.


“I really need someone to keep our son Gus from the evil your brother teaches him.” I beg the girls and there was the smile that Jen passed down to all her children on the girls.


“We have to go, I need to get Hunter a tutor and work tomorrow. Would you guys like to come to my house for dinner tomorrow?” Justin asks.


“I think it might be better to have it at my parents house. Mom and Kitty are going to want to meet your family too.” I tell him.


“We wouldn’t want to impose.” Jen tells me, proving she was still the woman who worried about being socially correct.


“You’ll save us from my mother when she finds out Justin and I are also getting married. She’s thrilled to have a grandson, but would love to have girls to spoil too. It might save us from her, because she’ll be busy quizzing you.” I tell them.


“We want to start out our lives surrounded by all the people who are important to us.” Justin tells Jen, Mandy, Bree, and Hunter.


BLAKE


When Ted dropped me off, you could say I wanted to speak to Ben. I listened to what Justin and Emmett said, and there were enough clues to tell me they could be right. My problem was that he dared to use Ted in what he was doing. I was happy to see Ted didn’t really seem all that upset that it didn’t work out with Ben, but didn’t get why he thought he could use Ted. In the lives before, Ted did become one of Brian’s closest friends, but that wouldn’t have gotten Ben any closer to Brian.


Justin doesn’t see why Ben would go after him, but I wonder if Ben saw how little Michael did to get him to the goal of what he wanted from Brian. I went to the diner, because if Ben was still following Michael around it’s the only place they ever really went. I got lucky, because he was sitting alone. I sat right across from him and watched as he acted like he didn’t know who I was.


Looking at Ben, you never see a guy who was anything like the man he married. I always liked Ben because he was the level headed one in the group. I used to think Justin was like Ben, but willing to fight for what he wanted. Now I think Ben really married the right person in that they both only cared that they got what they wanted, and damn anyone who got in their way.


“Are you jealous that he broke every rule for a kid?” I ask.


“What?” He asks.


“It's strange what I remember beyond what you wanted me to remember. One thing was how you and I met quite a few times before Ted. Even before Michael. What were you hoping for, that Brian would see you and it would change your position from trick to Justin’s place in his life?” I ask.


“It's not about Brian, it's about not wanting him to always get everything, while my life turns to shit.” He tells me.


“Our lives are only how we make them, so anything you didn’t get, was your lack of doing anything to get it. Trying to fuck with Justin because he’s in the dark, is something Michael would have done, but then maybe you would too, since you used Ted. Understand something, I don’t play games when it comes to Ted. As Emmett once told me, I’ll break your face if you hurt not only Ted, but Brian and Justin.” I tell him.


“I guess you’ll just have to try.” He laughs.


“I learned something from Brian and Justin, I don’t try, I promise and deliver on it.” I tell him, getting up to leave. “One constant in these lives are Justin and Brian.” I tell him.

 

“Only the lives you know about. There were a lot that were never lived.” He tells me.

Chapter 16 by starlight

JUSTIN


I got to my office and stared at the book that had me wanting to tear it to shreds before I knew. I flipped through it with new eyes. When I first read it, it seemed like Ben was trying to get my character to see he was the better choice. Now it's like he was trying to prove he was the better man for Brian.


Marty came in and sat in front of me. “I don’t get why Ben is even trying, Brian never loved anyone until you.” He tells me.


“In the other lives, did you ever get any indication Ben was still interested in Brian after their encounter at the White Party?” I ask him.


“Well of course, but it wasn’t like Brian didn’t have a lot of men interested. Ben would have been one of the many at that time. In truth, Ben’s mind tends to bore me, so I didn’t really pay attention to him, especially because, unlike you and Brian, there was nothing that made me want to see that relationship in living color.” He tells me.


“It’s just, none of what he’s doing is making sense. Ben was always a nice guy, like you said, boring but nice. What would change that for him?” I ask, as Blake walks in.


“He said something about other lives that weren’t lived, not that it explains anything.” Blake tells me.


“Like I told Justin, there are always lives that could have happened, but in most cases they don’t, because they weren’t supposed to. It’s why Brian got to come back, because he and Justin didn’t live the life they were supposed to. Living any of those lives would end up the same, because they were the wrong ones.” Marty tells us.


“This life isn’t exactly the right one either.” I tell Marty, thinking of my mom and sisters.


“In your case, any life that leads to you and Brian along with your children being together is the thread that leads to the right one. It’s the same for Blake, Ted, Emmett, and Drew, there are just relationships that are a part of the plan.” Marty tells us.


“I just wish we knew what life Ben thinks should happen. Then we could at least understand why nothing seems to matter to him. Even Hunter doesn’t seem important to him, that was one thing I would think the Ben I knew would think about.” I tell him.


“I guess I see the whole Hunter thing differently than you do.” Marty tells me.


“How did you see it?” I ask.


“Michael really didn’t want Hunter until Ben forced him get to know the kid. For someone who everyone described as caring, Michael only seemed to care when he could play daddy for everyone to praise him. What parent would make their kid go back to the school where the other parents were telling their kids to treat Hunter like a leper?  Ben did give the impression that he wanted Hunter, but think about when Hunter took off. They handed him money and didn’t stop him when he took off. The whole time Hunter was gone, neither of them checked up on him or even talked about it. It was all about JR and who was the better parents. In the end they let Hunter come  back after he came home to help take care of Michael. In that press conference they were showing everyone they were the alternative family the press wanted to see.” Marty tells us.


“I remember they went to the school to defend Hunter, but that was also when I was questioning my relationship with Brian again. I guess I wasn't really paying close attention.” I tell him.


“Which would make you wonder why you were the one they were practically shoving their life at. Think about it; Ben and Michael have you over showing you everything Brian wasn’t offering you. If you were already questioning the relationship, Ben was giving you more reasons. ” Marty tells me.


“It’s just, we are already playing this life out, so any other life isn’t going to happen. Why even fight for something Brian would never give him?” Blake tells us.


“It’s an answer I could never come up with about Michael. At least until this life. Now Michael’s busy with Ethan. It’s not something Brian cares about anyway. We only came to help Ted and Blake, but that looks like it’s working itself out. I guess maybe Brian’s right and we’re making a big issue out of a non-issue for Brian.” I tell them.


“I have an idea for a book.” Blake tells me.


“If you wanted to change the subject, you should have just told us to shut up.” I joke.


“It sort of goes along with the subject, I’m going to need all of you to help me fill in things I don’t have the answers to. I was thinking of what you said Ben wrote. I wonder how he’d like to see the events in his life as we see them.” Blake tells me.


“Have I told you that you're my favorite author? Just don’t tell Daphne, she’ll make my next death extra gory.” I joke.


BRIAN


I swear, there are days when I would love to kill the twat and Emmett. They want to believe Ben wants me, and yeah, of course I knew he did. It wasn’t something new in my world, but it didn’t matter to me, the same way none of the tricks mattered to me. So when I sat outside Justin’s office listening to them all, the only thing I could agree to was the last sentence Justin uttered. I figured it was time for us to have lunch with all our favorite villains.


“We’re going to the diner?” Justin asks, when we park in front of it.


“We might not be close this time, but I still check-up on Deb and Vic. Vic isn’t doing as well this time as he was last time. They might not remember me or the lives before, but it doesn’t change what they were to us.” I tell Justin.


“The last time I came was the night we met, and all I could think was to get my food to go when she started talking. I wonder if that’s why the seats at the counter were only filled when there weren’t any booths left.” Justin jokes as we walk in.


Deb looks over at Justin for a second before telling us to find a place to sit. Justin and I sat at the booth we normally did, not really thinking it was our first time back here together. When Deb dropped off my coffee and handed Justin orange juice before we asked, it took me back for a second.


“What? Sunshine here ordered that instead of coffee when he was here the other night. I guess you actually caught up to him when he ran off the other night.” She tells me, as Michael, Ethan and Ben walk in together.


“I’d like tea with the bag on the side and possibly the water hot enough that the tea can actually become tea.” Ethan tells her, walking by like the pompous ass he is.


“We’d also like breakfast before lunch Aunt Deb.” Michael orders her, before sitting down.


“Anything you’d like to say?” Deb asks, not sounding happy.


“Sorry. Ethan’s book got turned down, I’m sure he and Michael will remember their manners later. Wheat toast and oatmeal when you have the time.” Ben tells her, kissing her cheek.


“Ethan doesn’t need you offering excuses for him. Why couldn’t Michael have met you first?” Deb asks him, smiling.


“People don’t always see there are better options in life.” Ben tells her.


“I agree. Why waste time on someone who really didn’t leave enough of an impression to make knowing them memorable enough to want a repeat. Then again, Justin probably thinks I’m crazy to already know he’s the one who I will spend my life with.” I tell Ben.


“Has Brian introduced you to his parents?” Deb asks.


“Mom loves Justin, but she likes everyone.” I tell her.


“Well, she did mention one friend who showed up at your parents house. She didn’t have a high opinion of him for inviting himself over.” Justin tells me.


“Why did you show up at my parents house?” I ask Ben.


“Ted wanted to go. Sorry to cut you short, but I shouldn’t leave my friends waiting for me.” Ben rushes off.


“I'm still not getting him hanging out with them.” Justin tells me.


“Honey, no one gets wanting Ethan. Michael could have done better. There was a time when Brian's mother introduced him and Michael, I had hopes for the end of that friendship. For some reason my nephew fixated on his best friend and chased him until Ethan gave in to him. It's like he doesn't see the way Ethan uses him.” Deb tells us.


“It's one of life's mysteries, sis.” Vic tells her.


“Hi Vic.” Justin says, forgetting they haven’t met.


“Hi. Justin right?” Vic asks.


Justin looks at me when he realized the problem with the conversation.


“Michael was outside bitching about you and Brian. Apparently, Justin shouldn't be in the publishing business, since he didn't see the genius of Ethan.” Vic jokes.


“If you need to escape the genius, you can sit at the counter.” Deb says, giving Ethan a glare when he asks loudly how long it takes to get hot water.


“Or sit with me, at least they'll bitch about us and leave Deb alone, before she makes Ethan’s hot water special.” Justin tells him.


“Worked in a restaurant before Sunshine, or just reading my mind?” Deb asks.


“I've served a few customers in the past, in fact I think I served a side of bacon once with a little Justin special.” He says, making me think back to see if he ever served me bacon when he was pissed at me.


The diner started filling up and Deb made a point to serve us and five new customers before Michael and Ethan.


“How's life?” Vic asks.


“Great. Justin and I are about to adopt a son, which has my mother thrilled.” I tell him.


“What do you know about this Carl guy who’s been calling Deb? She's been acting like a high schooler with her first crush. Which has been making it easier on me to have a life.” He tells us.


“Carl's really a wonderful man, he’s sort of a mentor for me. I think he'll give Deb a reason to leave you time for your own life.” Justin tells him.


“Deb and I both need to a reason to let Michael deal with his own problems. The little triangle over there bothers me.” He tells us, tilting his head at Michael’s table.


“Why?” I ask.


“It's going to sound a little off, but it's like what I'm seeing, doesn’t fit.” He tells us.


“In what way?” Justin asks.


“It's almost like Ethan and Ben are, it's hard to describe, but it’s like they both know something, and Michael’s just there to amuse them. I guess it's more like Ethan is trying to hard to make us believe he wants Michael, the way Ben was with Ted. I could be just an old man trying to find ways to understand the three of them, when nothing about them makes sense to me. I'm going to go keep Deb from pouring hot water on Ethan, but it was nice to meet you, Justin.” He says, as we notice Deb glaring at Ethan.


“You know, I almost feel sorry for Michael, other than Dr Dick, guys only come around him to get to us.” Justin tells me, shrugging.


“Fine Scooby, we'll amuse ourselves trying to figure out this mystery.” I concede to the smiling twat.









,

Chapter 17 by starlight

JUSTIN


I love Beth. She didn’t make it awkward when meeting my mom and sisters. She was too busy wanting to share in the excitement of Brian being approved for Gus. Then hugging my mom and Kitty when Brian told her we were going to get married. I kept having to stop myself from calling Mandy “Molly” when we were sitting around talking with everyone.


“It's fine, most people call me by my first name, but if you want you can call me Molly, it’s my middle name. It's why we call Brittany Bree, she doesn't like the name dad uses. So we use her middle name, Brianna.” She tells me.


“Where did your last name come from?” Bree asks.


“When you’re not adopted you just get a common last name, I guess Taylor was next on the list.” I tell her, wishing my mother didn’t look saddened by hearing that I never had a family.


“Honey, at least he doesn't have horror stories.” Kitty tells her.


“No, apparently Jen saved him from that when she didn’t let her ex raise him.” Emmett tells her. “Brian sort of filled me in.” Emmett tells her, when he realized it wasn’t something he should know.


Hunter’s stomach went off and all the moms couldn’t let their newest baby go hungry, so we were all told to fix our plates and find a seat. It reminded me of Deb's dinners, but without the conversations we had. I watched as my mother made friends with Kitty and Beth, realizing this was easier than it was for her when she met Deb. Before my mother and sisters left, Mom was invited into Beth Kinney’s life. Hunter found out that he now had three mother hens when he told me he was going to hang out with my sister, and would figure out a way home later. He was told to call and Brian’s father would deliver him to my door or he could stay with Brian’s parents for the night. Beth pulled Brian aside and told him the moms were going to look into a way to get Hunter an education.


Emmett came running to go with us when Kitty brought up expecting Drew to show up at the family party for Gus. We decided to go see what was going on at Babylon, since Hunter was busy. I wanted to dance with Brian and Emmett, since we haven’t done that together. At least that’s what I told Brian. I figured our stalkers were likely waiting around our old haunts, and I wanted to know what the hell was up. I at least had a reason to hunt down Ben, to tell him he was about to finally publish a book.


When we walked in I saw Ben and Ethan standing at the bar, without Michael. Brian rolled his eyes but followed me to them.


“Ben, I should wait, but I figured since you’ve been asking, I'd  tell you that your book is going to be published.” I tell him, seeing he didn’t expect that.


“Yet my book wasn’t something you thought was worth your time. I guess shitty romance authors are really all that the small minds of your readers can understand.” Ethan says, making me apologize to Brian in my head for ever seeing anything about Ethan that was worth losing Brian over.


“Actually the readers just wouldn’t get the references you make that don’t fit with the topic you're writing. Your characters come off as assholes, which Ben’s did too, but he at least realized that no one would want the boring guy over the bad boy.” I tell them.


BRIAN


I like games in bed, not in my life. I wanted to know, not speculate, why anything Ben or Ethan thought they were up to would accomplish anything. So I kissed Justin just to see if there was anything that would bother Ben about it. That it would bother Ethan was a given.


“I'm going to check out the talent.” I tell Justin.


“Good luck.” Justin tells me, understanding I was planning to get Ben alone.


“Interesting relationship you have, but I guess you were never enough for him.” Ethan spouted, outing himself.


Ben followed me, like Mikey of other lives, but seeing him not really care about my PDA with Justin, really didn’t give credence to him being after me, or even Justin. I stopped and cornered him, deciding to give him what everyone keeps saying he wanted. He was into the body rubbing up to him, but the second before we kissed we both pulled back, me because it was the rule I never broke, but Ben not really seeming as into it as everyone believed but me.


“I guess the twat and Emmett were wrong. Why are you pretending to stalk me?” I ask.


“I didn’t want Justin to deal with you, he deserves better.” He tells me.


“You know, I can still tell when someone is bullshitting me, that’s a skill I kept from life to life. Why not lay all your cards on the table and explain why you think anything you do can change what’s already the life I’ll always have.” I tell him.


It was interesting to watch Ben trying to decide whether to lie or finally tell the truth. It’s never been his strong suit, lying.


“I couldn’t let Ethan try what he was by using Michael. I managed to make it so Michael doesn’t remember, but Ethan knows. You want to know why I’m around Michael? It’s in hopes he doesn’t remember the way to stop this life. Ethan only knows that somewhere in Michael’s head is the answer. So for once, I wanted to protect Justin and you, but in order to do that I have to stick around and make sure Michael doesn’t remember. Which means hating you along with the other two. Vic tried to help by making Michael’s life as different as all of yours, but unfortunately Michael still ended up here in almost the same life. I don’t know what could trigger Michael, so far, with him and you not really being friends, you haven't done anything that could bring him back. Ethan needs you to keep seeing me as the guy trying to fuck up your life, because Ethan does remember, and still hates you for Justin never loving his arrogant ass. He guards Michael as much as he's been doing with me.” He tells me.


“Why not just tell me, is there some reason you had to make this complicated?” I ask him.


“Think about it. The only time you see me, who’s glued to my side? In fact, he’s watching us now. He's hoping something you do or say will trigger Michael to remember. So I've made it so you ignore Michael and bitch at me.” He tells me.


“What could what Michael knows, do?” I ask.


“Make it so when you're born the next time, Justin isn’t. Lindsay’s last ‘fuck you’ to both of you was telling Michael how to accomplish separating the string that keeps you and Justin together in every life. I starting seeing Ted, hoping he remembered, and we could have a reason why you and I would talk. Only you and Emmett weren’t really making it easy when I realized you both knew. In truth, I'm not sure Michael would do anything, except he found out Justin met Michael’s soul mate in a way Michael wouldn’t like. So we're dealing with the possibility Michael might decide to cut the string, for Justin once again getting something Michael thinks belongs to him. If he does, this life stops and Justin goes back, with you forgetting him.” He tells me.


“Why should I trust you, everything you've done reeks of Michael’s bullshit?” I tell him.


“Because I have a soul mate that Michael could do the same thing to. I'm here for my own selfish reasons.” He tells me.


“At least that makes sense.” I tell him, walking away when Ethan showed up.


I wasn’t sure I believed everything until I saw the look in Ben's eyes. It was fear, the same fear I felt when Justin almost died because of that fucker Chris. With Michael, you never knew what he would do. So, Ben wanting to meet his soulmate without the possibly of Michael getting even for Ben not sticking to Michael in the last life, gave me a reason to not doubt him. All the things he’d done were to keep an eye on the idiot who should have remembered where Lindsay ended up.


When I explained it all to Justin and Emmett, they looked disappointed Ben wasn’t getting the villain role.


“It made him interesting for once.” Justin shrugged, as Emmett seem to agree.


“Why go all mission impossible with it? Telling us would have been easier.” Emmett tells me.


“Like with Justin, there’s a way to trigger Michael’s memory, and if we do, then we have no clue what Michael would do with what he knows. Ben kept me away from Michael by using himself, at least that’s the story. If you two are right, then Ben could be waiting to see if Michael remembers, and using it to try to get a relationship from me, but I think he’s protecting the life he wants.” I tell them.


“Still, if I go back, Ethan wouldn’t gain my attention. I didn’t like him before I knew.” Justin tells us.


“Really, we’re trusting Ben, who hasn't been very trust worthy. I mean he isn’t lying about Ethan acting like a guard dog. Every time I've seen Ben, usually Michael and Ethan appear. Even when we saw Ted out with Ben, and really since Ben showed up, it was suddenly Ethan and Michael everywhere Ben is. It could be why Ethan lets Michael support him, it gives him a way to watch Ben and all of us. The only question I have is why let Ethan know Ben remembered?” Emmett asks.


“Good question, and one we can't ask until Ethan isn’t around. Ben and I have to meet to discuss his book, so it's one place he can get away from Ethan. If he's telling the truth, he'll use the time to give us better answers.” Justin tells us.


“Meanwhile I think you wanted a dance.” I tell him pulling him with me.


“No matter what, just keep dancing.” Justin smiles.













Chapter 18 by starlight

JUSTIN


A life where Brian and I don’t exist together; it’s not something that I can’t say doesn’t scare me. It’s also something that could be dangerous in the hands of Michael, because you couldn’t be sure what he was capable of doing in any situation. Ethan wanted to finally do something to best Brian, so at least he was predictable. Ben had always been a kind, decent guy; shitty taste in men, but overall wanted the best for the people he knew. It’s why I’m confused at this Ben, and the last one. Ben chased after Hunter trying to help him the first life, but in the second and this one, left Hunter without a thought. It just makes me wonder if Ben had ever been the guy I thought he was.


“You know, if you can’t decide what you want for lunch, I can just get you your usual.” Hunter says, when apparently I hadn’t answered him.


“Get a vegan wrap too, I have a meeting with an author, and we’ll be going through his book for a while.” I tell Hunter.


“I don’t get why you want to publish it. I tried to read it, but just ended up skimming over the long drawn out lectures the boring guy seemed to think were more important. I mean, you get to start over and change your life, but instead you end up not doing anything to make it better. What would be the point in reliving a life if you keep repeating the same mistakes?” Hunter asks me, leaving, passing by Ben who heard him.


“I guess he won’t be a fan.” Ben tells me, sitting down.


I got up and closed the door when Marty tried to come in. Marty wanted me to ask a list of questions, since he couldn’t read people's minds anymore. I decided that leaving Ben in the dark wouldn’t get answers. “Hunter has a point, why bother to come back when you never seem to get away from the life you claim you don’t want.” I tell him.


“How long?” He asks.


“Not long, but again, I have to question why Hunter is once again someone you didn’t even check on?” I ask.


“Michael and I did nothing right for Hunter. We didn’t help him when the school wanted him gone. We let him leave with a few dollars, knowing he would return to hustling, and let him believe Jenny was more important, when she had four parents and Hunter only had us. Jen took Hunter in and gave him a reason to respect her as a mother. He respects you more than he ever did me. I wanted him to have the life being a part of your family gave him. In this life I’m single and am not a role model for Hunter because he and I don't share anything anymore. I doubt he would have trusted me if I tried your approach to him.” He tells me.


“Emmett wondered why you told Ethan you knew?” I ask, changing the subject because it was at least better answers this time.


“I made the mistake of calling Deb and Vic by name before they were introduced. Ethan didn’t miss the slip. When he started questioning me, I told him I was tired of Brian always coming out on top. He told me he knew of a way to give Brian what he deserves. Which I already knew, but pretended to be interested. Only, Ethan doesn’t trust anyone, and told me that we needed to stick close to each other and figure out how to get Michael to remember. Every time I try to get away from him, he manages to show up everywhere. He’s even been auditing my classes, while Michael is at work.” He tells me.


“What did you do to get him to mistrust you?” I ask.


“He thought I wanted Michael, and was willing to help me finally get a Michael that didn’t worship Brian. I couldn’t even pretend to be interested, because I know where to find the person I love.” He tells me.


“Then why not just go find the guy? Everything's different than before.” I tell him.


“We meet in Tibet, which is where we always meet. It's something I didn't do the first time and can't afford to yet, this time. I just can’t risk Michael changing it. Lindsay wasn’t happy with me either, and wanted us all to pay for where she is. We both know Lindsay’s like a puppet master when it comes to Michael. She personifies a woman scorned. If Michael remembers, I hope that for once he listens, because what he knows could change all our lives.” He tells me.


“You know, don’t you?” I ask.


“The lives we never lived give clues to why they were timelines that didn’t happen. In one, you and I meet but you don't meet Brian. You died because Brian wasn’t there. Brian manages to actually kill himself that night, because Michael was working, not with David. Without you, Brian never really had a reason to stop doing things and takes the wrong drug that night. Lindsay found out how to go back to different lives, and by doing that, could change the extinct timeline, because it's there, just no longer being lived. But if someone had a noble reason to go back, they could.” He tells me.


“You think Michael could show a reason to go back?” I ask.


“If he does, then nothing would be the same. Michael was trying to make amends, but even in the last life, everyone but him got lives that ended happily. He knows Brian was told who would have made Michael happy, but didn't do anything to help him. Which leaves us with a possibly volatile Michael, with his true love Ethan; who Michael  believes is the love of his life.” Ben tells me.


“Which means doing everything to keep the man he loves happy.” Brian says, from my bathroom.


“If Michael remembers, he's also going to remember Ethan, they weren't two people who could be in the same room together. You need to factor that in too.” Emmett tells us, coming out behind Brian.


“You still didn't believe me?” Ben asks them.


“Until I had facts, no. You've been the wild card since you appeared.” Brian tells him.


“I just don’t think Michael could come up with a reason to go back, that takes a little more intelligence than we've ever witnessed in Michael.” Emmett tells him.


“He could attempt to keep Vic from getting HIV, it would be something not for him but for a man he loved like a father. It would have to be something that isn't self serving.” I throw out there.


“But wouldn’t that be sort of self serving?” Emmett asks.


“It depends really on if Vic surviving served a greater purpose.” Marty rushes in.


“But he died so the his time for serving a purpose ended, right?” Ben asks.


“I want you to know life sucks when I know what I could have, just wanted to complain for a second.” Marty tells us, when Brian glared. “Anyway, think about if Vic didn’t get HIV. He wouldn't have lost his career, and could have gotten Brian out of Kinney hell, because he, like Brian, would have been a successful, respected businessman. With Brian’s age and history, there would have been a way for Vic to beat a flawed system. So Michael could use it because it would have been for Brian and Vic.” He tells us.


“But Baby would be missing, which means not so good for Brian.” Emmett tells him.


“But Brian wouldn’t know that, and Michael being Michael, might see the future he wanted, because Brian would have been less jaded if Vic raised him. It's not like I'm saying any of this happens, but it's a possibility because Vic always regretted letting Brian go back to his home, but he didn’t have a choice, because no one would have let him take Brian.” Marty tells us.


“I guess extinct only means until someone finds a reason to resurrect it.” Emmett says.


“Vic might have said it disappeared, but it's like all of them, just out there not being lived anymore. Unfortunately free will can give anyone a way to change it.” Marty tells us.


My door opens and Hunter comes in. “I guess I skimmed too much of that book. At least what you guys were talking about sounded less ‘snooze fest’.” He tells us.


“I guess I'll never have you agreeing that my books don't put people to sleep.” Ben jokes, smiling at Hunter.


BRIAN


After Hunter seemed to decide he was staying in Justin’s office, Ben told us he needed to get back before anyone starts trying to find him. Justin, Hunter, and I had a kid to liberate. Gus was now my foster child, until they approved the rest. All the other shit could wait, Justin and I wanted our son.


We found Gus sitting on the steps waiting for us. He flew to me as soon as I opened the gate, and was ready to go home. Linda held a suitcase with the things she bought for Gus. She helped us get Gus in his seat, after hugging him and telling me to call if I have any questions about Gus.


“What about Jenny?” I ask.


“Mel and Marianne have been wavering, something about careers. I think it’s more Marianne then Mel.” She tells me.


“I’ll talk to Mel and find out, but if they don’t take Jenny, let me know.” I tell her.


I waited until we got to Justin’s house and let Hunter play with Gus while I to talked to Mel. Jenny wasn’t going to stay there if Mel wavered, but I wanted to give Mel the chance before Justin and I took our girl.


“Brian, it’s Marianne, she started seeing the changes we’d have to make in order to have a child and said she wasn’t ready. We talked about it, and I want Jenny, but she told me if I did then I do it alone.” She tells me.


“Then do it alone. It sounds like she was only going through with it hoping you’d change your mind.” I tell her.


“I’m hoping that maybe it’s just bad timing and she’ll be willing later.” Mel tells me.


“Meanwhile, Jenny goes without a home because your partner doesn’t want her.” I tell her, not happy that once again Mel worries more about her partner.


“Brian, it’s not that we’re saying no, just that we have to make sure it’s right for us.” She tells me.


I hung up, disappointed in Mel, she’s always ends up with people that don’t want the things she wants, but stays anyway.


“How hard would it be to foster two kids? No matter what happens, we live the life we want, and trust that a world doesn’t exist that we don’t live it together.” Justin tells me.








Chapter 19 by starlight

BRIAN


Justin came by the gallery with Hunter and Gus in tow. We already talked to Linda about Jenny, and found out since I already was approved as a foster parent, it was just a matter of asking to have Jenny placed with me. I’d just gotten back from talking to the social worker who let me know she recommend it, and if I wanted to adopt her we could also get that started after. I wanted to tell her to go ahead, but was giving Mel time to show me she was strong enough to fight for Jenny. If not, I had no problem with raising Jenny girl.


Gus was playing on the floor, with the toys Justin brought for him. It seemed Justin had a question, but we’d been busy getting Gus settled in and talking to Hunter about school. We agreed to wait until my mother and Kitty came by to get Hunter and Gus. Hunter tried to tell Justin he was going to hang out with Bree, but Jen let him know that Bree was at school and he needed to start looking into it himself. When Mom and Kitty showed up, Emmett ran to his office, telling his mother he’d talk to Drew about coming to dinner at the restaurant Mom arranged for all of us to go to for Gus’s party.


“I plan to take Gus to get him clothes, if you think of anything else you need, call me.” Mom tells me.


“Beth, it’s not like we don’t know they need everything, so just make sure there’s room in the house for the many things you don’t have for Gus.” Kitty tells us.


“I’m picking up Jen on the way.” Mom tells Justin.


“Nana?” Gus asks Justin.


“I prefer Grandma, but if he wants to use Nana, it’s fine.” Mom tells us, not understanding, but she will when Gus sees Jen.


“Gus, how about Grandma for Dada’s mom.” Justin points at my mom.


“Gamma.” Gus nods, going to my mom.


After they left, Justin asked me and Emmett if that wasn’t going to be all kinds of fun.


“They’ll just assume he’s being confused by new people. It’s not like he can tell them.” Emmett tells us.


“Let’s hope they don’t run into Deb.” Justin tells us.


“What did you want to talk about last night?” I ask.


“Who is Michael’s soul mate?” Justin asked.


“Connor James, why?” I ask.


“Wasn’t he the one, Justin?” Emmett asks us.


“Yep, but it wasn’t like it was anything more than what Brian and I did all the time.” Justin tells him.


“But you could see why Michael wouldn’t be thrilled to meet his soulmate. Then again, he spent years thinking he and Brian belonged together.” Emmett tells us.


“Maybe if Michael could meet him, then he’d understand if he remembers, what he knows would do to us. Why didn’t you at least try to get him to meet Connor after he and Ben broke up in the last life?” Justin asks.


“There wasn’t Rage, so Brett never showed up. Vic also said Michael missed the opportunity when he sent you instead of going himself. There are places things have to happen, like we learned. That streetlight is always where you and I meet, and Gus usually comes into my life the day we meet. Ben said he has to meet his soulmate in Tibet. Drew always seems to be in the closet when he and Emmett meet. Ted and Blake seem to be the only ones that just meeting was all they had to do.” I tell him.


“Which really isn’t fun, except that the press knows my Mother enough to know you don’t piss her off unless you want to hear no comment from her friends.” Emmett tells me.


“I think with Ted, he has to be in a place where he’s confident in himself. In this life he was already there.” He tells me. “But how do we get Michael to the place he needs to be in order to meet Connor, since there’s no Rage?” He asks.


“We don’t have a clue how they were supposed to meet. Was it supposed to be Brett introducing them? Which would be likely since Michael was never one to go after what he wants.” I tell them.


“He went after Ben, in both lives. When you think about it, Ben resisted both times, until Michael ran after him.” Justin tells us.


“Only this time he’s stuck up Ethan’s ass, and doesn’t even look at other men.” Emmett tells us.


“I wonder where David is this time. It’s about when Michael would have met him. Which at least would follow something we know.” Justin tells us.


I looked up David Cameron to see if he was even in the area, it was one person who at least distracted Michael from me. I checked to see if there was a picture, because the David Cameron I found was a homeopathic healer, not a chiropractor.


“He’s a healer?” Emmett laughed.


“That could be a problem, since Michael wasn’t even into the whole Buddhist thing with Ben. But he did take me to see a chinese herbalist that Ben used.” Justin tells us, snickering.


“That yak shit didn’t work, which made me wonder about you listened to Michael.” I tell him.


“It was just a thought, to at least get Michael to dump Ethan. It would make it harder for Ethan to get anything from Michael if they weren’t together anymore.” He tells me.


“I don’t get how they managed to get together. Unless Michael no longer is into comics like he was. It’s something Ethan would be unhappy to have to listen to.” Justin tells us.


“It didn’t change, Michael couldn’t leave that behind no matter what life he lived.” Emmett tells us.


Justin started giggling, and then couldn’t tell us what he was thinking when he wouldn’t stop laughing. “What… do… I… do… now?” He finally gets out, still not making sense.


“I heard thinking about something that upsets you helps.” Emmett tells him.


“You publish books.” I tell Justin, understanding him.


“Oh, you meant what you do for a living.” Emmett adds, not helping to get Justin under control.


I got up and yanked a laughing Justin to me and kissed his laugh away until it turned into moaning and forgetting where we were. Justin’s hands started undoing my pants and mine were going towards his ass to lift him to the desk, when Emmett made a noise that had us both turn to look at him.


“Don’t mind me.” Emmett tells us, smirking.


“Oops, okay so I publish books, but not exclusively.” Justin tells him, letting me go.


“Okay, but what does… oh, okay, but he hasn't even had a reason to write one.” Emmett tells him.


“Would you, if Ethan was your inspiration?” I  grumble, not happy to still have my hard on.


“If Michael is as in love with Ethan as everyone thinks, then it's something Ethan wouldn’t encourage that Michael likes. All of Michael’s life he tried to fit in, changing himself to project the person he was with. He probably leaves it alone when he’s with Ethan, but Michael would still be thinking about it.” Justin tells us.


“Until you drew him a superhero, he didn’t see it as possible.” I tell him.


“I can still draw, but since you aren't going to be someone who Michael sees as hero, I think it's Ken’s turn to help the cause.” Justin tells me.


JUSTIN


Brian didn’t see me spending any time around Michael as something to do. I closed his office door, kicking Emmett out.


“It's still not going to convince me.” He tells me, helpfully unzipped.


I moved his chair back and started working to convince him, that it was a very good idea. He was still hard, which made my job, taking him to satisfied. I took him down my throat then came up until the head was still in my mouth, then swirled my tongue around it before taking him back in. Brian wrapped his hands around my head and began pumping his hips in time with him entering my mouth. I wanted him to cum in my mouth, but he wanted more and lifted me to his desk, grabbing a condom and entering me all the way. His pace was fast, knocking papers off the desk as I shifted with his thrusts. He stroked me when he was getting closer and I came as he hit the right spot with each of his thrusts, then milked his cock with my ass until he came.


“I still don't agree.” He tells me, pulling out.


He didn’t stop me, so I figured he didn’t like the bomb that was Michael counting down on our heads. Emmett joined me, telling me that we might need to soundproof the offices. Which had us both laughing when we walked in the diner. Michael was sitting in the booth as Ethan glared at us. We chose another booth, and I started drawing Ken on a napkin. Deb came over to see what we wanted.


“That looks like one of the characters in the comics Michael reads all the time.” She tells me, taking our order and heading to put it in.


Emmett was watching Michael when Deb said it as loud as she usually said things. “Now their arguing.” He whispers.


“I don’t want to spend time with your friends, I promised Aunt Deb I'd hang out and help her today. Why not see if one of your friends can get you a job.” Michael tells him.


“We agreed that until my book…”


“Which no one wants, so how about instead of chasing Ben around, you help out.” Deb tells him.


“We went out for one night, what's the big deal?” Ethan asks Michael.


“The big deal is that I had to ask Deb and Vic to help pay the rent because you don’t seem to remember that we aren’t rich, when you were buying all night with Ben.” Michael tells him.


“If you hadn’t been working as usual I would have planned something for us, but you couldn’t get out of kissing your bosses ass for a promotion, that once my book sells you won’t need.” Ethan argues.


“It’s called overtime, that apparently all went to your night with Ben.” Michael yells at him.


“Are you jealous that Ben might want me?” Ethan taunts.


“It would mean your Ben’s headache, and not Michael’s. I really see it as a win.” Deb tells Ethan.


“Aunt Deb.” Michael warns.


“Don’t act like this doesn’t affect me, last night was supposed to be dinner with Carl, not Ethan showing up trying to convince Carl he’s a writer, or you sitting at the table treating Carl like he didn’t belong in my house. My boyfriend isn’t going anywhere, regardless of you thinking that acting like a spoiled brat was how I taught you to behave.” Deb tells them.


Ethan stomped out the door, leaving Michael to deal with Deb. Obviously it wasn’t the love story Michael thought, because he almost looked relieved that Ethan left.


“Michael, it’s time to stop living like Ethan is the only man in the world for you.” Deb tells him, bringing our food to us.


Michael got up, about to go, but stopped when he saw the napkin I laid next to the end of our table. “It does look like something you would see in a comic.” Michael says, sitting down next to Emmett.


“I was just messing around, when I go to Brian and Emmett’s gallery, it makes me want to draw.” I tell him, once again seeing how Michael forgets everything else when it comes to comics.


“I like comics.” He said, as if he was admitting to killing people.


“Too bad there aren’t any good ones left. I was telling Emmett that I never bothered to get in the comic business because they were all the same.” I tell him.


Michael launched into all the comics he loved and why they were better than a lot of the newer ones. When he got to Captain Astro, I finally put my opinion in.


“I think if they want to say Captain Astro is gay, it shouldn’t be implied, but out there.” I tell him.


“No one wants to read that their hero likes men.” Michael tells me.


“It’s not impossible to believe, at least it would show people that their hero’s could still be heroes even if they were gay. It would give kids who don’t have anyone to identify with a person who is not only successful, but still able to do things that the world stereotypes gay men or women as being unable to do.” Emmett tells him.


“I guess, but I couldn’t draw like that.” Michael tells us, thinking about it.


“There are students at PIFA who would be jumping at the chance to do something like this.” I tell Michael, not planning to help again.


“It sounds like fun, but I barely have time to eat lately because I’m working all the time.” Michael tells us, getting up to leave.


“If you do try, stop by and I could help you possibly get it published.” I tell him, hoping I didn’t take it too far.


“Why would you want to help me?” Michael asks.


“It’s just something we haven’t seen in the mainstream. I wouldn’t mind seeing if it could become big for being something new.” I tell him. “Artists don’t make money unless they have a body of work. You’d probably have a lot of people wanting to do it.” I tell him.


He left, but the gleam he had that morning when he wanted me to help him was there.








Chapter 20 by starlight

BRIAN


Emmett came to dinner with Drew, leaving him sitting next to Kitty before pulling Justin out of his seat and saying they needed to go to the bathroom. I handed Gus to my dad before following to see why Emmett took off with Justin. Ted came in with Blake and Justin grabbed Blake to come with them. I walked by, telling Ted I’d hurry them up when he started to follow them.


“I brought up Conner James to Drew to see if he knew him. They’ve worked together, but Conner’s overseas shooting a movie right now.” He tells them.


“Why are you trying to find Conner James?” Blake asks.


“He’s Michael’s soulmate. Lindsay told Michael how he could change our fates. He could make it so none of us ever meet the person we're supposed to meet. The only problem with introducing him and Conner is that we don’t know how they were supposed to meet.” Emmett tells him.


“We all meet in certain ways?” Blake asks.


“We think so, since Brian and I have the streetlight in every meeting.” Justin tells him.


“Drew always starts out in the closet when we meet. We haven't figured out how you and Ted normally meet, because in the past it was linked to Babylon. Then there's Michael, who never met Connor.” Emmett tells him.


“We did meet at Babylon, but I kept going and didn’t talk to Ted because he was with Ben.” Blake tells them.


“I'm hoping Michael can use writing a comic as a way to get the chance he missed to meet Connor.” Justin tells him.


“I think we're giving Michael…” I started to say, but stopped when the room started changing. Justin wasn’t there sitting on the counter and Blake had disappeared.


It was like watching waves go over, and the scenery kept changing, I was standing with my back to a wall in Babylon with a guy about to go down on me, then Michael was there complaining about wanting to go. I ran out of Babylon to find Justin, but he wasn't there, even when I stood there waiting until Mel called to say Gus was born. I got up and drove to the hospital to see Justin sitting in the waiting area, having trouble breathing. Then I was back in the bathroom with Justin, Emmett, and Blake all staring at me. Then the next wave comes over and instead of being at the club, I was working late and just leaving when Justin would have been dropped off. I hurried to my jeep and sped to Liberty Avenue, passing Justin when he was dropped off by Daphne. I skid to a stop when he turned to look at the jeep, smiling when he saw me. Once again ending the sequence and morphing into another one. With every result being that I found Justin, until it finally stopped and I was standing in the bathroom.


“Brian?” Justin asked, walking up to me.


I grabbed his hand and walked out, wanting to see everything the way we left it when we went into the bathroom. Gus was still sitting on my father’s lap. Everyone was there, just the way we left them.


“Brian what’s going on?” Justin asks, when I let out a breath.


“When we were in the bathroom, it's like I left and went back to the night we met. Only you never came, but I found you before I came back.” I tell him.


“You don’t think Michael...?” He asks.


“I don’t know, he was there but it was different than the way I remembered him.” I tell him.


“Let's just get through dinner, I'll call Marty and see if he has any answers.” He tells me.


“His answers weren’t exactly helping when he was a psychic.” I tell him.


Marty glared at me when he showed up at the office the next morning. “I might not have all the powers I once had, but remember, I can still see what Justin sees.” He tells me.


“Then explain why I was back in the past for hours, but according to Justin I never left the room?” I ask him.


What happened while you were gone?” He asks.


“Different scenarios, but crossing into Justin’s path each time.” I tell him.


“It sounds like someone tested the time line and was showing you the results.” He tells us.


“Why?” Justin asks.


“Hello! Not psychic anymore.” He tells us.


“I checked, Michael is still clueless. I even asked if he thought about the comic, ‘no’ there too.” Emmett tells us, walking in.


“Maybe Lindsay’s secret wasn’t a secret.” Justin tells us.


“Ben knew, so I would say it wasn’t.” I tell him.


“If people know, you would hope they aren't stupid enough to use it. Everything happens for a reason, and thinking you can change it, well it makes the Big Guy cranky.” Marty tells us.


“Which tells us nothing.” Justin tells him.


“It showed that one way or another, you and Brian cross paths, which could mean it's not about you.” He tells us.


“Except Ben said it's why Ethan attached himself to Michael.” I tell him.


“Good point. Of course, all it proved was every scenario that was tried didn’t change that you two meet.” Marty tells us.


“With each time, I still remembered, which was the reason I knew where I had to be. If Justin and I don’t remember anything, that changes things too.” I tell him.


“It might not, Justin when you didn’t know about Brian, were you still drawn to him?” Marty asks.


“I kept going around him, when normally I’d be running for the nearest exit.” Justin tells him.


“When you lived the first time, Brian was doing the same thing when neither of you knew.” He tells us.


“Other than Ethan, who else is there?” Justin asks.


“How many people would be pissed off that you and Brian stayed together?” Emmett asks.


“Shit, that could take a lifetime to name.” Marty tells us.


“Tricks like us, at least until we turned them down for a second go. I can name a few people who weren’t thrilled when they found out the facts, but it’s not like I ever saw them again.” Justin tells us.


“What about you?” Marty asks me.


“I pissed them off regularly, but they knew the drill.” I tell them.


“Stockwell, but he isn’t the Chief of Police here, I don’t think he’s even around Pittsburgh.” Emmett tells us.


“We could do this all day, but it’s not getting us anywhere. We go find the people and see if they remember.” I tell them.


“We’re going to walk up to guys and ask them? Brilliant idea. Now I see being committed in our future.” Justin tells me.




Chapter 21 by starlight

JUSTIN


Emmett and I tried to find everyone we could come up with, other than Ethan, that might have had a problem with Brian and me being together. The first problem we ran into was Brian and I never really bothered to get full names. Then how to find someone when they weren’t in the places they were in the last life. We ran into Sean, from my time as the King of Babylon, who offered Brian and me a threesome, but didn’t really seem insulted when we said no and moved on to the next guy at the bar. Kip Thomas apparently became an escort for businessmen who kept him in the lifestyle he never wanted to work for anyway. Stockwell, as far as we could find, didn’t exist. Which left us running out of people. We were sitting around the new house, since Brian wanted to start decorating it. He changed things I hated about the house, but overall it was still the house he wanted me to have.


“What about that kid, the one that had Brian working out like a mad man?” Emmett asks.


“I really can't remember even his name, it's possible since he left really upset, but I never ran into him again.” I tell him.


Gus woke up from his nap, and crawled into my lap. Brian had gone to check when we could take Jenny, leaving it up to us to figure it out.


“Brian doesn’t seem worried about it, he said every attempt just showed we find each other, so let the person have fun trying.” I tell him.


“Kira says Jussin always Dada.” Gus tells me.


“He remembers Kira?” Emmett asks.


“Kira mine.” Gus tells us.


“Yes she was, and Dada and I will bring her home.” I tell him, he nodded as if he knew.


“Do you think we could be looking at this wrong, maybe it was to show Brian he would find you. It might be to keep you from worrying if Michael’s mind rebooted.” Emmett tells me.


“Yeah. But then why not just tell us.” I tell him.


“Too many players already on the field. Maybe this person isn't interested in playing and wanted you and Brian to know you were safe from anything Lindsay was trying.” Emmett tells me, as Brian comes in with Jenny in his arms.


“Look who’s home.” I tell Gus.


“Jennnyyyy.” Gus squeals, running to Brian.


Emmett got a blanket and put it on the floor. I went and got some of the things Beth and my mom bought when we told them we were going to foster Jenny. We settled Gus on the floor with his toys and put Jenny next to him. Brian sat with him, happy, the way he always was when Jenny was in our life.


“Either of you come up with anything?” He asks.


“Emmett mentioned it could be someone wanting to show us that what Michael knows doesn’t affect us. Like whoever it was, was on our side.” I tell him.


“Could be, with this life everything changed. Like I told Marty, there were pieces in the wrong places.” He tells me.


“You still have the same people in your life, they just are different. The same with me.” I tell him.


“My parents are the ones we all dream of having, not the nightmare from before. Emmett grew up with a mother who would have started PFLAG if it hadn’t already been there. You grew up without parents, but you still have Daphne around, and Carl…” Brian stopped when Emmett waved his hands at us.


“Carl. Why is he part of Justin’s life? He never really was when you think about it. I mean Carl knew Justin and you, but he was really only in our lives because of Deb.” Emmett tells us.


“He’s really friends with Sean. When I bought out Sean, Carl called and let me know he was here for me if I had any questions. Which helped because I was just beginning. Later he would show up and we’d have dinner, which gave me a father figure and mentor at the same time.” I tell them.


“Is that normal for another publisher to help out the competition?” Emmett asks.


“It’s like any set of businesses. When I ran Kinnetik, I still talked to other firms. It’s good business to compare notes.” Brian tells him.


“We also get together, like for the dinner the other night. He’s just always taken an interest in what I’m doing.” I tell them.


“Carl was like that with me when I lived with Deb and him. It could be difficult for him when he ran into guys that I brought home, but by the end he was really accepting of the whole gay thing.” Emmett tells us.


“We could at least go see him, it’s better than me trying to come up with people when sometimes I can’t remember even their first name.” I tell them.


Jenny crawled over to me, and everything needed to wait when she stared up at me with her big brown eyes.


“I don’t think we should wait on Mel to figure out Jenny is worth more than a relationship.” I tell Brian.


“I don’t either, if Mel still wants to be involved then she can be, but we raise our Jenny girl.” Brian tells me, when Gus sat in his lap and nodded to agree.


EMMETT


I left Brian and Justin in fatherly bliss and decided to talk to Carl. I knew him better than anyone else. Lately he would stop by and see Deb while she was working. If he wasn’t there Justin said he would call and ask him to see me.


At the diner, Carl was sitting in a booth eating, while Deb ran around taking care of everyone. Carl barely noticed when I sat down, he was too busy watching Deb. It reminded me of when he used to stop by to spend time with Deb when they were both working odd hours. He looked at me smiling with recognition, before looking over at Deb.


“She’ll never stop working.” I tell him.


“She thinks everyone needs her.” Carl tells me.


“I think we all do at one time or another.” I tell him.


“Only this time the chicks left the nest, but didn’t need her the way they did before.” Carl tells me.


“No, but we still remember what she was for us.” I tell him.


“Do you, or is it more that none of you needed her now the same way you did before?” He asks.


“Why didn’t you tell anyone you remembered?” I ask, when he didn’t hide it.


“Watching what happened last time, I didn’t want to interfere the way they all did. Something as simple as Brian understanding he didn’t have to let go of Justin was all they needed. Instead, everyone tried to get involved and steer them in the wrong direction. I’ve always thought all of you were men who didn’t need coddling.” He tells me.


“You’ve been with Justin for years, why?” I ask him.


“Because if Red had remembered Justin, she would have wanted me to look out for her Sunshine. I came back because the life Justin wanted could have steered him away from Brian.” He tells me.


“Brian had this weird experience, where he kept going back to when he and Justin meet, but they didn’t meet the way they were supposed to, but did meet. It was as if someone was putting obstacles in his path to see if they still found each other. We just can’t figure out why it happened or who could have done it, Detective.” I tell him.


“They’ll always find each other Emmett. What Michael knows couldn’t change THAT they meet, it could only change HOW they meet. The time line changes with each meeting, and how the things in your lives turn out change with them. The only reason anyone would want to see what would happen would be to see if there was a way to separate them, which happened the first time with a plane to New York.” He tells me.


“Even with that, they were brought back, so it’s really not making sense.” I tell him.


“People do stupid things for stupid reasons. The biggest motivators are love, jealousy, and greed. Find the person who has all of those things, and you find the person who thinks changing Brian’s life will get him what he wants.” He tells me.


“I would say Michael, but he really hates Brian this time.” I tell him.


“I wish I had the answer. I’ve always believed you have to make your own path.” He tells me.


“You sound like you don’t think anyone would do it to help them by showing them they always meet?” I ask.


“No. Why bother if they could just tell them. There’s no reason to make them jump thru hoops, when it’s something they could just be told.” He tells me.


“We wondered why Ben did all the things he’s been doing, when he could have found a way to tell us. He made it sound like he was on our side, but it’s like he was playing double agent.” I tell him.


“Sometimes double agents play both sides against each other. I’d be watching to see where he really stands.” He tells me.


“Brian is still on the fence with Ben.” I tell him.


“It’s because Brian understood the motto, ‘trust but verify’. Tell Justin and Brian we can talk, but I’m not Vic, and don’t feel the need to interfere when all of you are capable of running your own lives.” He tells me, getting up to help Deb into her jacket.



Chapter 22 by starlight

JUSTIN


Carl came over to the new house to talk to us, but got distracted when he saw Jenny and Gus. He held Jenny while Gus talked his ear off. Carl wasn’t surprised at Gus remembering anything.


“How much do you know this time?” Brian asked.


“Probably as much as you and Justin do. What I told Emmett comes from years of being a detective. We might not be dealing with a crime, but you're looking for someone who wants to steal something from you.” He tells us.


“It would have made more sense to do it before either of us knew anything. Why wait until we're together? Then how do you find a noble reason to go back as many times as the person did?” I ask.


“It could depend on when they remembered. If they were living this life without remembering the past then they wouldn't remember either of you.” He tells us.


“Beyond Michael, Ethan, and Ben we’re coming up empty. I'm assuming Lindsay can't interfere.” I tell him.


“I doubt Michael would be a problem, but only because he was really trying to redeem himself before everything changed.” Carl tells us.


“Ben said Lindsay somehow got to Michael. Why would she bother if Michael was busy redeeming himself?” Brian asks.


“Because it would make sense to her. In her eyes, Michael should be as bitter as her. She couldn't do anything, so, go with the guy who wanted everything she didn’t get.” He tells us.


“What about Ethan? Why stick around if he didn’t think what Michael knows would give him what he wants?” I ask.


“He has all the combinations you mentioned to Emmett.” Brian tells him.


“He's lazy and he wants things handed to him. In a lot of ways you’re looking at the Michael of other lives. You need to look at someone who has a grudge against you. It would likely be someone who hated your success in all things, in both lives. You were both on track to have it all in the first life, and by the second, you both became successful, raised successful children, and became the kind of couple no one thought you two could become. It's why Ben bothers me; Brian got everything Ben wanted, until he left Michael.” He tells us.


“Ben says he’s worried that Michael could use what he knows to separate him from his soulmate. “ I tell him.


“In your vision, did any of it affect you?” Carl asks Brian.


“No. But I knew to look for Justin.” Brian tells him.


“Soulmates have a special bond. Even if you don’t remember the person, there's a part of you that isn't whole without the other. In the end, meeting is all you have to do. It wouldn’t matter if you remember, because you’re linked to the other person.” He tells us.


“What happens if, like Ben was saying, Justin or I weren’t born in a life together?” Brian asks.


“That's decided by God, not any of us. If someone here wants to mess with HIS plans, then they suffer his wrath. Which Lindsay found out when she tried. Anyone with half a brain would tread lightly before repeating what Lindsay did. It's the only reason why you should be looking at people who weren't inside your circle. You need to think of someone who ended up losing something in both lives because they felt you interfered in them getting thing they thought they deserved.” He tells us.


“I've racked my brain, but other than people we either tricked with, or who caused us problems, we're coming up empty.” I tell him.


“After the plane didn’t crash, everything in our lives was different. Neither of us really did anything but take care of our family.” I tell him.


“When I said love, I didn’t necessarily mean in the sense of a relationship. It could be loving the life they had before meeting you two. If they lost the thing they loved, it’s enough to motivate them. It could be the fame they had or the lavish life they were living. Which brings in the greed and jealousy that you two had it all.” He tells us.


“Like Bellwether, only he lost his career because people figured out he didn’t practice what he was preaching. It wasn’t anything we did.” I tell him.


“But in his eyes he wasn't doing anything different than I did.” Brian tells me.


“You were the poster child of condoms and the proper use.” I tell him.


“He'd be someone to look into, because in this life he hasn't managed to get the following he had before.” Carl tells me.


“I rejected his book when he was shopping it. It's just, he didn’t act like he knew me, but then, I didn’t remember at the time.” I tell them.


“He not a big fan of me either, because I also passed up his book.Which makes him someone worth looking into.” Carl tells us.


“Too bad Ted doesn’t remember, because he was a big fan of Bedwetter.” Brian tells us.


“If it isn’t him, then who else can you think who might not like either you or Brian because of something you did that changed their lives?” Carl asks.


“If we get away from the idea that it was about Justin and me staying together? There were clients I turned away because I refused to help when they only wanted to play it safe. There were a few that told me they should have listened after having to downsize because their competitors listened to me. They were bitter, but also acknowledged it was their mistake. I don’t see how changing Justin in my life would matter to them.” Brian tells him.


“What about the sponsor for the Liberty ride? You kept Ted and Mel from using him the second time, but remember he disappeared after the first time.” I tell Brian.


“Along with my chair you wanted to donate, so maybe the patients were pissed I didn’t give it away in a second life.” Brian jokes.


“What happened with him?” Carl asks Brian.


“He showed up at my office after I commented that the money being spent to promote the ride could have been used for better purposes. He threatened my business unless he could get a huge donation, which was really a joke because in advertising the clients only care that my campaigns boost their market share and sell their products to the masses. When we met at his hotel, I made sure he understood he would have more to lose by duping the charities he represents. He was making millions off them, and leaving them with maybe a third of the proceeds. I made sure to steer my clients away from guys like him for their charity functions.” Brian tells him.


“In the second life, you convinced everyone not to use people like him.” I tell him.


“Ted and Mel sometimes got blinded by the celebrity, but were with me when I showed them the money the charities lose by using those kinds of people. He was a con artist.” Brian tells us.


“It’s a starting point. I’ll look into Bellwether for you, since I know him.” Carl tells us.


“I thought you weren’t going to interfere in our lives?” Brian asks.


“Helping you two is one thing. What everyone else was doing was interfering, when you both were perfectly capable of doing what was right. All of you were capable men with a brain in your heads.” Carl tells us. “Why do you have Jenny?” He asks.


“Mel backed out when her girlfriend didn’t want a child messing up their lives.” I tell him.


“She got away from Lindsay only to land another version of Lindsay.” Brian tells him.


“Brian, at the core we’re all still the people we are, different lives don’t change who you are inside.” Carl tells him.


“I wondered why Jenny and Gus seem to stay connected.” Brian tells him.


“Most likely because they were brother and sister, it’s a bond that stays. For Gus to be complete, he had to have the people he loved the most in his life, Jenny and Kira.” Carl tells us.


“We plan to adopt Jenny. I wanted to wait, in hopes that Mel would wake up and realize what she was losing.” Brian tells him.


“What are you asking?” Carl asks Brian.


“I don’t want to hurt Jenny’s life if she should be with Mel.” Brian tells him.


“Jenny’s life won’t change because you love her, you always did.” Carl tells him.


“I need to find Tucker for Jen.” Brian changes the subject, clearing his throat.


“I’ll call a friend and get him to get us the information.” Carl tells him, kissing Jenny’s head, then hugging Gus.


“Thanks Carl, for the help today and for being the grandfather you will always be to my kids.” Brian tells him.


“I’ll get back to you on what I find out.” Carl tells him, not making a big deal out of Brian’s words.


“What now?” I ask, taking the kids in the kitchen for lunch.

“We feed the kids, put them down for their naps and then Mr Taylor. you can help me take my nap.” Brian tells me, kissing my neck.


“You don’t want to look into the things we were talking about?” I ask.


“Nope, it’s something that can wait for tomorrow. Today we live our lives.” He tells me.





Chapter 23 by starlight

BRIAN


I came home to Justin sitting in front of the fire holding Jenny, while Gus played on the floor. It brought back all the times in our past life when I'd come home after being away to find my family waiting for me. I wanted all the things we had before, without the worry I see in Justin’s eyes tonight. I waited until we put the kids to bed to find out what was going on. We’d been ignoring the outside world, too caught up in our own.


Justin had been spending time with his mother and my parents, getting Hunter a tutor, and trying to be there for his sisters and our children. Somewhere in between all that he was managing to run his publishing company. Did I worry he was taking too much on? Some days I did, but it was classic Justin to try to do more than most people could handle at one time. Only tonight, his smile was missing, and that told me something was wrong.


“Justin, what's going on in your head?” I ask, making him look at me.


“Someone tried again.” He tells me.


“What happened?” I ask.


“I was playing with Gus while Jenny was napping, and then suddenly I was sitting in the car with Daphne, going to Liberty Avenue. Brian, I stayed in the past for years, not a couple of seconds. Only, when I finally came back, Gus was handing me one of his blocks, frozen as if this time stopped while I was gone. It scared me, because it took a minute before Gus moved again. What happens to this life if we can't get back?” He asks, holding me tightly.


“What happened while you were gone?” I ask.


“I got to the streetlight, but I had missed you. Only I didn’t remember anything about you. I ended up calling Daphne to pick me up and I went home, but there was this feeling like something was wrong that I couldn’t figure out. Everything went on as if it was the life I should have led. Only there were times when I was places I remembered meeting people, only missing those opportunities by minutes. Like when Daphne and I were shopping around Liberty Avenue and ran into Lindsay and Mel, only this time I didn’t run into them. Daphne and I even went to the diner because we happened to pass it and were hungry, but coming in when Deb wasn’t there. It’s like my life if I never met anyone who was a link to you. I ended up not telling my parents I was gay and going to Dartmouth, graduating with honors in business and marketing. Daphne and I let my parents believe we were together, while we both had our own lives. I was offered a job in Gardner’s firm, which you still worked for, but were leading the New York branch. It was weird because anytime you were in Pittsburgh, I was being sent to another city to work on a campaign. It wasn’t until my team won a Cleo that you and I were in the same place at the same time. I remember thinking I wanted to meet the God of Advertising.” He tells me, smiling.


“Only every time I saw you, Gardner was whisking you off. Then when you were coming towards me, people would get between us, talking to one of us. When I left that night the feeling was back, and I saw you getting into a limo with Gardner but figured I’d meet you later, since you were a senior partner. Only anytime we should have met at work, there was a reason we didn’t.” He tells me.


“When did we meet? Because I only came back when we did.” I tell him.


“We were both at the hospital for different reasons; you were being treated for cancer and I was scheduled to meet with the hospital about a campaign they wanted. I was leaving and went to check the area where they were going to host a cocktail party for sponsors. It was a garden one of the sponsors had done for the hospital patients. You were sitting on a bench in the garden. I ended up sitting next to you and asking if you were okay.” He tells me.


“Then you came back?” I ask.


“No, but I think it was because while you and I talked we never really looked at each other. Neither of us remembered each other, until you turned to look at me. It was that moment when the feeling like something was wrong went away and I remembered us. Then suddenly I was back with Gus who looked like he’d been put on pause. Brian, what if it’s more than one person doing this?” He asks me.


“Why do you think it was more than one person?” I ask.


“I was living a life my father wanted me to, and Gardner’s firm was becoming the biggest firm in the US. I don’t know what your life was like because before we could talk about it, I was back. I want you to know, my life sucked without you. It’s time to figure this out.” He tells me, kissing me.


“We will. Nothing matters but that any life I live includes you.” I tell him.


The next morning Emmett called, sounding upset and saying we’d talk when we got to work. Justin and I dropped off the kids with my mother, before going to the gallery. Drew was sitting in Emmett’s office holding on to him.


“We can talk later.” Justin tells him.


“I have to get going. I only came to tell Emmett I have to go home and deal with what’s going to happen now that I came out. Hopefully you guys can get him to tell you what’s wrong.” Drew tells us.


“I’m going to miss you, that’s all.” Emmett tells him.


Drew looked into Emmett’s eyes. “I wish that’s all it was, but I don’t think it is.” Drew tells him, kissing him before leaving.


“Good God, you described being sent back, but forgot to mention how real it felt.” Emmett tells us.


JUSTIN


“You too. What the hell is this person doing?” I ask.


“What happened to you?” Brian asks.


“Everything was normal until the night you and Brian were supposed to meet. We all ended up leaving earlier because Lindsay got a hold of Michael to get us to the hospital.” Emmett tells us.


“Did you remember anything? Because I didn’t.” I tell Emmett.


“Nothing I didn’t know that night, only that every time there was something that happened that should have included Justin, it felt wrong, but I couldn’t say why. I was living the life I remembered, but Brian, you got a promotion and we no longer saw you. When I would have met Drew, it didn’t happen because his fiance said no when he asked her to marry him, therefore no need for a party to celebrate it. I didn’t meet him until right before I came back, which was years later.” Emmett tells us.


“But when you did meet him you were sent back?” I ask.


“Yes, and it was weird because Drew and I were sort of in the middle of something here in this life and well, he was sort of frozen in place.” He mumbles.


TED


Why was I sitting in Babylon with Michael and Emmett? It wasn’t like we hadn’t done this before, but normally Ethan was here, dominating the conversation with tales of how once his book was published, Michael would have everything he wanted. Instead we're standing here as if none of us have a life. Michael, who hates Brian, is staring at him as if he worships on Brian’s altar. It really got strange when Michael pointed out Blake, who was high as a kite, smiling at me. I looked back to say something to Michael, but he had vanished into the crowd.


Emmett came up and told me Michael’s call was to get Brian to the hospital for his son's birth. Which was strange, because Michael left his phone at home, to avoid Deb's numerous calls. Michael rounded us up and we went to the hospital. Only I didn’t recognize the woman holding the baby, even though everyone else seemed to. I kept wondering if I drank the wrong thing before going to bed tonight, because this dream felt very real. When we were leaving, Michael insisted on going to the diner to tell Deb about getting to name the baby Abraham. Brian and Emmett acted like nothing was wrong when we got to the diner and Michael called Deb ‘Ma’. Then Brian asks me to pay the hospital bill for Lindsay and Mel.


“Why would I pay the bill?” I ask.


“You're my accountant.” He says, sarcastically.


“I'm an architect.” I tell him.


“When did this career change happen? Between jacking off at your desk and dreams that Michael will suddenly see you’re the person he wants?” He asks me, sounding like someone other than the Brian I knew.


I left him sitting there, because I needed air. Something was wrong with this fucked up dream, yet everything felt real. I got to my car and sat there, waiting to wake up. Someone knocked on my window while I was praying to wake up.


“Can I come in?” Blake asks, when I roll down the window.


“Why not, I might as well enjoy my trip to crazy land.” I tell him.


“It is crazy, that I'll give you. Only because none of this happened the way it is right now.” He tells me, still looking like he’s high.


“I'll bite, what was supposed to happen?” I ask, pinching myself and not liking that it hurt.


“You and I went to your place and you had a bad reaction to the drug I gave you. Brian doesn’t make it to the birth of Gus. He shows up later.”


“Abraham.” I correct him.


“Not important right now. What is important is that Justin was supposed to meet Brian. Then go to the hospital and choose ‘Gus’ not ‘Abraham’. Then you and I spend years never meeting at the right time for both of us. Of course, that was the first life that Brian and Justin got to rewrite, because someone interfered. In the second, we didn’t do the OD part. It was still a few years before we meet again, but we didn't go through the whole drug rehab for both of us. Instead, you let me go until I cleaned up my life. What you’re seeing now is what happened when Brian didn’t meet Justin.” He tells me.


“If you expect me to believe any of that, then you're high on more than the drugs you took tonight.” I tell him.


“Yeah. I forgot that in this life crystal was my best friend. I'm how you would have seen me, but regardless of how I look, I'm not high. Right now I need you to remember everything that happens before you come back to me.” He tells me.


“Where are you going?” I ask, not liking that it sounds like we won’t be together.


“I was only a small part of your life at this point, so I don’t get to stay longer than I would have normally. It’s important that you do one thing before you come back.” He tells me.


“What do you need me to do?” I ask.


“Talk to Mysterious Marilyn, in this life she would know everything.” He tells me, pulling me in for a kiss. “I’ll be waiting when you get back.” He tells me, before leaving the car.


Emmett smiled as Blake ran past him, and jumped in the car with me. “I’m ready for bed, which I’ll barely get into before having to get out of.” Emmett yawns.


“Where would Mysterious Marilyn be?” I ask, not even sure who that was.


“She sort of seems to be everywhere when you don’t want to hear what she has to say. Why?” He asks.


“A friend asked me to find her.” I tell him.


I took Emmett home and decided to go home and look for the person later. I got to my apartment to find a six foot cross dresser standing in front of my door.


“I heard there were all sorts of things going wrong.” She tells me, pointing at her temple.


“Like?” I ask.


“Someone is trying to change the past, but didn’t play by the rules. Not to worry, they’ll wish they had. Now we need to talk, and you will need to remember everything I tell you.” He tells me as he follows me in.


I woke up to Blake sleeping soundly beside me, and breathed a sigh of relief that it was really just a dream. Only, when I wrapped my arms around Blake, he wasn’t breathing. I tried to turn him over but it was like he was superglued in the position he was in. I looked over at the clock on the bedside table and the second hand was stuck, I watched it until it moved and Blake was breathing again. What the hell was going on? What the hell were the names the cross dresser made me repeat over and over? And why am I even overthinking a dream.








Chapter 24 by starlight

TED


When I woke up there was a note from Blake saying that he was getting breakfast and to stay in bed. I hadn’t slept much after last night. I looked at my arm and covered up the bruise, trying to convince myself it was just a dream. Blake walked in with a tray and sat it between us.


“We need to talk about last night.” Blake tells me.


“I know we agreed to get to know each other…” I start.


“Ted, it wasn’t a dream, and it’s time for me to explain to you, everything you don’t know.” He tells me.


“What are you talking about?” I ask, not wanting to talk about it.


“Did you find Marilyn?” He asks.


“Do you know how crazy this sounds?” I asked him.


“Crazy or not, I need to know what she told you.” He tells me.


“It was a list of names she told me to remember. She said that they were stupid enough to think if they succeeded, that it didn’t matter if they followed the rules.” I tell him.


“What were the names?” He asks.


“Only one name was someone I knew, and another one seemed familiar, Tad, but at first I thought she said my name. The rest were Craig, Gardner, Sierra, Rita, and Kenneth. She said they were all the people who didn’t like the life we all got.” I tell him.


“Shit. We need to tell the guys, because they’ve been worried about Michael remembering.” He tells me.


“Michael?” I ask.


“Ted, there were other lives we lived before this one. In the last one I left you because I was worried about you. I was mad at you because you were still working yourself to death and wouldn’t retire. I only meant to go home, but I got in an accident and died, then decided you would be happier without me. Someone showed me the life that Brian and Justin changed and I hated that at one time you almost died and I had left you on the floor, not even knowing if you were going to survive. I tried to come back without you and give you a chance at a life without me. Only I didn’t know we were always supposed to be together.” He tells me.


“You do understand this sounds hard to believe.” I tell him.


“I got in the car and you told me I looked high on more than the drugs I was on.” He tells me.


“Why do you remember and I don’t?” I ask.


“We’re not sure why some of us came back with our memories intact but others didn’t. Everyone’s worried about Michael remembering, because Lindsay told him a way to change the past. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because it also included that you would have to have a good reason to be able to go back and change it. Only, the names you just said wouldn’t have one.” I tell him.


“Lindsay was the blonde who had a baby with Mel?” I ask.


“Yes. She was part of that past, but can’t come back to this one. It didn’t make sense to me why she would tell Michael something that wouldn’t help her.” He tells me.


“Marilyn said something about Lindsay but I was coming back so it got lost. I know it had something to do with Michael, but I don’t remember.” I tell him.


“Let’s go talk to Brian and see if we can make any sense out of this. Wait, you said one of the names was someone you knew, who?” He asks me.


“Ethan.” I tell him.


“That one isn’t a surprise, just that he and Michael were together.” He tells me.


“Why?” I ask.


“In the past, Ethan wanted Justin, but couldn’t hold on to him.” He tells me.


“Brian is going to love that.” I tell him.


“He didn’t, but that’s a long story we don’t have time to get into right now. Why Ethan is risking everything for something he’ll never get from Justin just shows how delusional he and his band of idiots are.” He tells me, dragging me out of bed.


BRIAN


Emmett and Justin were trying to figure out if anything told them who would do what they were doing. The people in Justin’s dream basically getting what they wanted made Craig and Gardner likely, but in the end what the person tried to avoid - Justin and I meeting - didn’t get them what they wanted. We still met, no matter how many years it took.


“How did you end up meeting Drew?” I ask Emmett.


“I was throwing a party for the Mayor. Drew and his team were there.” He tells me.


“Who was the mayor?” I ask.


“Richards… Rightchard… something like that. It wasn’t even the mayor that threw the party, but his wife. I really can’t remember, it’s like every time the name came up, I couldn’t get it right.” He tells me.


“Rickert?” I ask.


“I think that’s it, why?” He asks.


“It’s the cop that killed himself when Hunter got the evidence we needed to prove he killed Jason Kemp. Which wouldn’t have happened if the past changed, but why him and not Stockwell?” I tell him.


“If he killed himself wouldn’t he be with Lindsay? Lindsay was there too, though. How if she was no longer allowed?” Emmett asks.


“It’s before we changed everything. Maybe when you and Justin came back that time line froze. Only restarting to what would happen if they were able to change events.” I tell him.


“Can we come in?” Blake asks, with Ted behind him. “You can keep talking, Ted already thinks he’s crazy, since he visited the past last night.” He tells us, when we all got quiet.


“Welcome to the life none of us want to remember.” I tell Ted.


“He talked to Marilyn and got you boys the suspects.” Blake tells us.


“Who are they?” I ask.


“Ethan, which Blake said wasn’t a surprise, but the rest are people he didn’t really know.  Craig, Gardner, Sierra, Rita, Rickert, and someone named Tad.” He tells us.


“The who’s who of people who think we screwed up their lives.” Emmett tells us.


“Who was Tad? That one felt like someone I know.” Ted asks.


“He was a guy you dated that sort of got crazy because he didn’t like you having anyone in your life but him.” Emmett tells him.


“What about the other people?” Ted asks.


“Craig is Justin’s father, who hated Brian for making Justin gay. Ethan hated Brian because Justin loves Brian. Rickert is the cop that killed a hustler; and Brian, Justin, and Hunter went out looking for proof. Hunter got it the first time, in a way none of us want to remember, and Brian found a way the second time without involving Hunter. Gardner lost everything when you and Brian created Kinnetik, an ad agency. Sierra lost Drew to me. Rita was the mother who thought selling Hunter to perverts was a way to supplement her drug habit. She likely hates Brian and Jen for getting Hunter out of this.” Emmett tells him.


“Shit, my father hates my mother for leaving him, in every life.” Justin tells us.


“Let’s not forget that Carl and Deb helped me with Richert.” I tell them.


“How did they all meet and manage to do any of this?” Emmett asks.


“Who knew all of us and would be able to find the people who might hold a grudge?” I ask.


“But where does Michael fit into her plans?” Justin asks, catching on as usual.


“What if he doesn’t, and she just used him to keep us busy?” Emmett tells us.


“Ethan played us by sticking around Michael, but what about Ben?” Justin asks.


“Who’s been noticeably absent recently.” Emmett tells us.


“Even knowing all of this, what can we do?” Blake asks.


“We don’t even know how they’re doing it. We need to figure that part out.” I tell them.


“We could try Marty, he might not be able to do the Mysterious Marilyn anymore, but he still knows about this kind of thing.” Justin tells us.


“He’s the six foot cross-dresser?” Ted asks, as if he couldn’t see it.


“He wanted to go for a more butch look this time.” Emmett tells him.


JUSTIN


I didn’t have to call or tell Marty anything, since he saw everything I did. We just waited around while filling Ted in on the past, which didn’t seem to trigger anything for him. Blake started looking up something on his phone and then played an opera for Ted, but he didn’t react and we were just happy for him to turn it off.


“Once again, you guys are telling everyone.” Marty says, coming in the door.


BRIAN


“I’d like to bring up the fact that you ran us in circles until we finally got the truth out of you the first time.” Emmett tells him.


“Ted got dragged into the past, we didn’t do it.” I tell him.


“You're going to be dragging more, because if you're right, they are coming after all of you. Which right now, Jen and Deb are in the dark about.” He tells us.


“Why can’t we get Ted to remember?” Blake asks.


“He lost someone that won’t exist in this life, because you changed your life.” He tells Blake.


“Luke?” Blake asks.


“Find Luke and Ted will remember. Like Gus and Jenny, he’s here, you just have to find him.” Marty tells us.


“What about Lulu, TJ, and Kira?” Emmett asks.


“Brian and Justin have a way to have Kira, in fact Justin has a cousin and sisters in this life. Cynthia has always been more to you both.” Marty tells us.


“How do you know?” Justin asks.


“I got a little boost, because the Big Guy isn’t thrilled right now. He told me to tell you what you need to know, but not to give any advice until I clear it with him. Kira is apparently driving everyone crazy so you get that one, to help get her here. Okay, now onto something you're going to hate. It’s time to bring Michael in.” He tells us.


“Any way to avoid that? I kind of like not having to see him fawn all over Brian.” Emmett tells him.


“Which he won’t, because Drew and Connor are about to find out they have something in common. So Michael will be meeting his destiny, and Brian won’t be stuck with his best friend thinking the world will end because Brian loves Justin.” Marty tells us, as I flip him off.


“We find Luke, and Ted remembers? What about Hunter?” I ask.


“I’m not sure what Hunter knows, but it would explain why he found me and then already knows my family. He kept trying to get me to meet Bree by getting her a job like I gave him. He didn’t seem to like Ben much either, but when you think about it, Ben never looked for Hunter.” Justin tells us.


“We’ll corner the littlest hustler later. For now, how the hell are they doing this?” I ask.


“Lindsay found them all before the end of the last life. She was able to convince them you all ruined the lives they could have had. She’s been a busy girl, trying to line up the players to make your life hell.” He tells us.


“We still don’t know how?” Justin tells him.


“They are still in the extinct timeline, not here. Well Ethan is here, but he’s only here in hopes that they succeed.” He tells us.


“If they do?” I ask.


“Then they are going to wish they hadn’t, but they don’t know where Lindsay ended up. They’re frozen in the beginning though, because you stopped that timeline. It stopped on the night Justin and Brian met. They are trying to figure out how to stop all of you from meeting each other, not just Justin and Brian. If they do succeed, you guys have to go back and straighten it all out. Only they don’t know that the playing field has changed. They can’t take you back without your memories anymore. It’s why we need to get Michael involved, because for once he has something he’ll lose if they find out he knows a way to do it without the Big Guy coming down on his head. Michael wanted redemption because hell isn’t a place he wants to visit. The only problem is, it’s up to us to get Michael back, any clue how, because that wasn’t something I was told.” He tells us.


“Brian?” Justin asks.


“I’ve been around him all my life. He hasn’t remembered anything.” I tell them.


“We were trying to get him not to remember, so possibly do something to make him remember you.” Emmett tells me.


“It was so nice not to have to hear him say, ‘But Brian is my BEST FRIEND.’” Justin tells us, making everyone laugh.


Chapter 25 by starlight

JUSTIN


Hunter seemed to be everywhere, unless it was some placed I looked. I went to see my mom and surprise surprise, he just left to go help Beth with the kids. I get to Brian’s parents house, and he took off, saying he had to return a library book, which would have been believable if he ever went to the library. I finally cornered him when he tried to sneak into the house. Brian had gone upstairs to tuck Gus and Jenny in, and I planned to wait all night for Hunter to show up.


“We need to talk.” I tell him.


“Can we talk later? I have tutoring at the butt crack of dawn.” He tells me, trying to get past me.


“Hunter, there's a lot going on, and in order to protect our family it's time to stop playing games. I know it wasn't a coincidence you hung around my business, and somehow knew my mother and sisters.” I tell him.


“Our mother and sisters.” He corrects me.


“How long have you known?” I ask.


“The day I went looking for something to eat, and mom paid for my food at the restaurant she worked at. Then I spent time trying to find my brother.” He tells me.


“How did you find him?” Brian asks, coming in the living room.


“I followed Cynthia, after she told Mom that she had found Justin.” He tells us.


“Then made me chase your ass.” Justin tells him.


“When no one seemed to know anything, I thought maybe I was nuts. Like the life that kept playing in my head was really just in my head.” He tells us.


“Is it just playing in your head, or have you been there?” Brian asks.


“No, not really, but I think they tried. It was when I went to the diner to get lunch for everyone. One minute I was walking in the door and the next I was hiding from Rita. Then Vic bumped into me and everything went back to normal after a few minutes.” He tells us.


“Nothing else happened?” I ask.


“Not since then. Why, did something happen to you?” He asks.


“We found out there are people trying to restart the life we thought we’d changed. Your biological mother is one of them, Rickert is also involved.” Brian tells him.


“Why?” He asks.


“Most likely because we got lives they wanted. We need you to help us, because the people involved aren’t just pissed about Brian and me. What they are doing could hurt everyone we know.” I tell him.


“You and Brian are together, what could they do?” He asks.


“Pull us into the old timeline and stop this one.” Brian tells him.


“All because they’re losers, who will still be losers even if they get what they want.” Hunter tells us.


“We don’t know what they think will happen if they can pull this off. We have to get Michael to remember. Which none of us knows how to do. He knows a way that we can go back and play by the rules. Lindsay didn’t want Justin to live without my best friend.” Brian tells him.


“Seriously. Michael?” Hunter asks, not seeing it any more than we do.


“Trust me, I understand the skepticism, but we were told we needed him.” I tell him.


“We are talking about Michael. Who not only has to have the instructions read for him, but needs someone to put it together for him?” Hunter jokes.


“He’s also what we have to work with in order to live this life.” Brian tells him.


“He always dreamed of being a hero. Let’s hope he’s ready for the role.” Hunter tells us.


BRIAN


Emmett and I were at a loss as to what would make Michael remember anything. It’s different now that Michael hates everything about me. We showed up at the diner to talk to him, but Ethan was there sitting at the table, which worked for me, since I had a warning for the fiddler.


“Why did you bring him?” Michael asks, rolling his eyes at me when I sat down.


“He’s one of my BEST FRIENDS, and business my partner. Which means we always have and always will hang out with each other.” Emmett tells him.


“Well, I always have and always will tell you, I’d rather not suffer with you.” Michael tells him.



“What Michael is trying to tell you is you’re really not welcome in our lives.” Ethan tells me.


“Not having you in my life. That’s a dream I’ve had since we first met. Unfortunately, you keep turning up. If you and your little group want to fuck with my life, than you get me fucking up yours.” I tell him.


“Why are you threatening Ethan?” Michael asks me.


“I’m making sure he knows the playing field is level now.” I tell Ethan.


“With this many players in a game, you’re going to be fighting them from all sides. Once I find out what I need, well, let’s just say ‘checkmate’.” Ethan smirks.


“There’s only one way for Michael to give you what you’ve spent years with him for. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to be thrilled when he remembers you.” Emmett tells Ethan.


“What are you guys talking about?” Michael asks, looking at each of us.


“Nothing Babe, you know Brian gets on my nerves.” Ethan tells him.


“Tell Ben, what he knows has nothing on what we do.” I tell Ethan, getting up and walking out.


Michael got up and pulled away from Ethan, following me. One thing that hasn’t changed about Michael is him wanting to tell you why you're a fuck up.


“You want to know why I never liked you?” He asks.


“Not really, but I’m sure you feel I need to know.” I tell him.


“I didn’t like the way you treated me. Like you were too good to be friends with me, because my family wasn’t perfect like yours. We can’t all have Mommy baking cookies and Daddy buying us everything, the way your parents did for you. It didn’t make you better than me, but for some reason you thought it did.” He tells me.


“I never judged your life. That was you, never being happy with what you had. You want everyone to worship Ethan the way you do, but I have a problem with seeing what he does that you seem to think makes him worth the money you lose by being with him. I couldn’t be your friend because you wouldn’t like my thoughts on him.” I tell him.


“I couldn’t be your friend because you wouldn’t like what I think about your boyfriend.” He tells me.


“Other than telling Ethan his book was a waste of trees?” I ask.


“He thought Ethan would sell himself to get a book deal. It doesn’t matter how boring Ethan’s book is, nothing would be worth what Justin told Ethan would get him a deal.” Michael tells me.


“Boring. Is that what you told him, or did you say that you were still reading it?” I ask.


“He worked hard on it.” He tells me.


“He’s your partner Mikey, you have to take his hand and sit him down and tell him it’s a steaming pile of horseshit.” I tell him.


“Would you tell Justin… never mind, I need to go.” He tells me, looking confused.


“Mikey, I wouldn’t have to tell Justin anything, the lad’s a genius.” I tell him, when I could see him starting to remember.


“That’s not helping.” He tells me, running away.


Ethan and Emmett came outside, watching Michael take off. “Good luck. I doubt when he remembers you he’s going to be bringing you roses.” I tell Ethan.


“That was fun, but what now?” Emmett asks.


“Now Justin and I figure out how to take what Mikey knows and use it to show them they aren’t going to win.” I tell Emmett.


“We all do it, not just you and Justin. This is about all of us.” Emmett tells me.


JUSTIN


Hunter and I were sitting in my office waiting for Brian to get back when Michael burst through the door with Cynthia following him, trying to stop him.


“I need to talk to him, and you aren’t going to get in my way this time.” Michael tells her.


“Just like old times. Only now it’s my PA and office.” I tell Michael, when he shut the door in Cynthia’s face.


“Yeah well, I’m not in the mood to walk down memory lane. I’ll be at Beth’s house.” Hunter tells us, pushing Michael out of his way and leaving.


“How is he with you?” Michael asks.


“My mother gave him a home where he didn’t have to question his place in her life. He probably knew you and Ben couldn’t offer him that, after living with you two the first time. So Brian got you to remember?” I ask.


“How did I end up with Ethan?” He asks, looking like he swallowed a bug.


“I think my daughter thought you deserved it after what you and Lindsay tried.” I tell him.


“Why did you want me to remember?” He asks.


“We need to know what Lindsay told you. At first we didn’t want you to remember, because we were worried about what you would do with what you know.” I tell him.


“I didn’t plan to use it. Anything that came from her didn’t sound like something you would do, unless you were begging to go to hell.” He tells me.


“We don’t have a choice. People are trying to change the past life, and we don’t need them to succeed. What did she tell you?” I ask.


“She said, “In order to go back, you have to go to a fixed point in time, in the time your in”. I really didn’t understand it. Like there’s something that will always be where it is, even if everything around it changes, and that you can go back by using it the way you did at one time. Like I said, it sounded really confusing.” He tells me, as Marty, Brian, and Emmett come in.


“She said ‘a fixed point in time’?” Marty asks him.


“Yeah. She kept saying it’s where you begin.” Michael tells him.


“Thanks Mikey. I know it can’t be easy to wake up to this life.” Brian tells him.


“Well let’s see; I just figured out the guy I’ve been with all my life is the asshole I hated at one time, that my best friend is the guy I sort of hated, but wanted in every other life, and that my mother is my aunt. It’s been a day, thanks for making it possible.” Michael tells him.


“Now we just have to figure out what to do with what you know.” I tell him.











Chapter 26 by starlight
Author's Notes:

I posted this on the wrong story so it's fixed now.

BRIAN


“A fixed point in time, what the hell does that mean?” I ask.


“It can mean a lot of things. In some cases it’s just something that has to happen in order for other events to occur. In this case I don’t think that’s what Lindsay was telling Michael. She said it was something that exists in this timeline and in other timelines?” Marty asks Michael.


“Yeah, but it sounded like she didn’t think we could figure out what it was.” Michael tells us.


“So it’s not something obvious, like the streetlight. Which was something that was pivotal in my mind to you and Justin meeting.” Marty tells me.


“It seems to be the one way they prevented, but it didn’t get them what they wanted.” I tell him.


“It’s also where we meet, so it fits with the beginning Lindsay told Michael.” Justin adds.


“It depends on what you consider the beginning. Beginning doesn’t necessarily mean where you met, but possibly when you realized what you really wanted from each other.” Marty tells us.


“When did you know Brian wanted the same thing, and when did Brian know he really loved you?” Emmett asks.


“I would say prom, but after, Brian and I were…”


“In the first life, it was when you told me I didn’t lose everything.” I tell him.


“In front of Woody’s?” He asks.


“I lost everything, but you let me know I didn’t lose you.” I tell him.


“It could also be when you proposed, at that point Lindsay lost her mind.” Justin tells me.


“It would have been easier to answer that for you, if Michael had paid attention.” Marty tells us, looking at Michael.


“I didn’t want to mess up again by listening to her. If you and the Big Guy have this connection why aren’t you asking him?” Michael asks.


“When the Big Guy levels the playing field he leaves it up to us and free will, it gives the others a chance to see the error in their ways and redeem themselves.” He tells us.


“What about having a reason to go back?” Justin asks.


“I think making sure the time line stays extinct is all that matters.” Marty tells us.


“Think or know?” I ask.


“Know, okay?” Marty gives in.


“All we can do is try. I don’t want to sit around waiting for them to pull us back.” Justin tells me.


“Um, I remembered something.” Michael tells us.


“What?” I ask when he sits there.


“Apparently when you go back, since they didn’t take you back, you’ll be in a timeline with yourself, if that makes any sense. I didn’t remember, but probably because I didn’t get it.” Michael tells us.


“What does that mean?” Emmett asks.


“I don’t know.” Marty tells us, looking confused.


“What do you think?” I ask Justin.


“It sounds like you and I would go back as us now in the timeline, with us then.” Justin tells me.


“Yikes, a world with two of each of you.” Emmett laughs.


“What happens if we meet ourselves?” I ask Marty.


“I don’t know, it’s never happened. Do yourselves a favor and try not to let it happen.” Marty tells us.


JUSTIN


We started out at the streetlight, just in case Michael was wrong, but nothing happened. We tried the loft, still nothing. As we walked towards Woody’s I could feel something different, it was like there was something waiting for us to come there. It was early morning so there wasn’t anyone around to watch us trying to figure out what we were doing.


“Do you think this is where we really began?” I asked Brian.


“I no longer denied in my head what we were when we stood here the night of Stockwell’s loss.” He tells me.


“You told me that when we were here in the last life. When you think about it, we stayed together after this, even with California and cancer.” I tell him.


We stood on the steps, but Brian moved below me and told me to stay on the step that put me at the same height as him. I couldn’t resist and kissed him without having to lean up to reach him. We got so lost in the kiss that I didn’t notice anything but us. Then I was alone on the steps and I noticed a guy staring at me, and it was early evening. The guy shook his head as he came to the steps.


“No more drugs tonight, I could have sworn you weren’t here when I started walking up here.” The guy mutters as he passed me.


I walked over to the newspapers and checked the date, it was four days before we met in front of Babylon. I didn’t know what to think, since Brian didn’t come with me. Not really knowing where to go, I went in and sat in the corner of the bar. It was great that I wasn’t seventeen and no one questioned when ordered a drink. I sat around trying to think up a plan as to what to do. Brian walked in with his arm slung around Michael. Ted and Emmett coming in behind them. I watched as he eyed every guy in the room, not noticing me at first. Michael ran to get drinks while Emmett and Ted got a table. I lowered my head when Brian looked in my direction but Michael managed to get his attention so he didn’t look directly at me. Michael rolled his eyes looking at me, then carried drinks to the table as Brian said something to the bartender and then followed Michael. I looked at his retreating back, then to the bartender when he came up to me with a drink.


“I didn’t order that.” I tell him.


“I was told to get you what you were drinking and let you know that your drinks were on Brian for the night.” He tells me.


I downed the drink and decided to get out before Brian decided to introduce himself. I got halfway down the sidewalk, when Brian touched my shoulder. It took me a second to remember this was Brian before he met me, I was too busy staring at him.


“Leaving without thanking me for the drink?” He asks.


“I didn’t want to upset your friend. I need to go find someone anyway.” I tell him.


“I can come with you, nothing going on here.” He tells me.


Brian followed me, not even caring that he had no clue where I was going. He kept giving me strange looks, as if he couldn’t figure out why he was following me. I finally saw Marilyn walking down the street ahead of us, and ran to catch up to her.


“Marilyn, can I talk to you?” I ask.


“You actually want to talk to her?” Brian asks.


“You shouldn’t have brought him with you.” She tells me.


“He followed me, I didn’t tell him to come.” I tell her.


“I’m standing right here.” Brian lets us know.


“Why isn’t my Brian here?” I ask her.


“I could be your Brian for the night.” Brian tells me.


“When did his pick up lines suck this bad?” I ask.


“He’s most likely confused at why he followed you, let's get him off the street before people question what’s happening to the Stud of Liberty Avenue.” She tells me, when Brian started sniffing my neck.


“How about we leave her and I fuck you all night long.” Brian whispers.


“You can do that when you meet him later.” Marilyn tells him.


We followed Marilyn to her place and Brian wouldn’t stop touching me. I kept thinking it wasn’t cheating when it was Brian, right?


“You can figure that out when you go back, right now we need for this one to stop.” She tells me as Brian starts running his hands under my shirt.


“How?” I ask.


“Brian, Justin wants commitment.” Marilyn tells him, which stilled his hands for a second.


“I don’t do commitment.” He tells me, licking my neck.


“Not yet.” I tell him, making him drop his hands and sit down.


Marilyn pulls me away from him to talk, when he gets a call from Michael.


“Why didn’t Brian come with me?” I ask.


“I don’t know, but what are you doing in the wrong timeline?” She asks me.


“You don’t know?” I ask.


“I knew to look for you, but not why yet.” She tells me.


“You told Ted who was pulling us here.” I tell her.


“When?” She asks.


“Four days from now, right after Gus is born.” I tell her.


“Gus?” Brian asks, wrapping his arms around me.


“Your son’s name is going to be Gus.” I tell him, while Marilyn glares at me.


“How did you know Lindsay?” He asks me.


“Lindsay’s here?” I ask them both.


“Yeah, but now that I think about it I haven’t seen her in a few days.” Brian tells me, letting me go to pull out his phone and call someone.


Marilyn and I walked to the other side of the loft, while he was busy on the phone.


“What’s wrong with him?” I ask.


“You’re his soulmate. His head might not know, but it’s there.” She tells me.


“Why don’t you remember talking to Ted?” I ask.


“Because I haven’t done it yet. What am I supposed to tell Ted?” She asks.


“You tell him the people who seem to think if they fuck our lives up that theirs will change.” I tell her.


“Who are they?” She asks.


“Craig, Gardner, Sierra, Rita, Kenneth, Tad and Ethan.” I tell her, looking back at Brian when he muttered Ian.


“Okay, so I know what to tell Ted.” She tells me.


“How do I get back? I forgot to ask.” I tell her.


“How did you get here?” She asks.


“I hate when you answer with a question.” I tell her.


“Seriously, how did you get here?” She asks.


“I kissed Brian on the steps of Woody’s.” I tell her.


“There’s Brian, after you deal with your father, get him to the steps of Woody’s.” He tells me.


“I have to deal with Craig first?” I ask.


“Yes, it’s why you're here without Brian. Each of you has to deal with the person who screwed up your life. Once they realize they can’t win, then you live happily where you're supposed to be now.” She tells me.


“Lovely, just what I’ve managed to avoid in the other timeline, Craig.” I tell her, going out her door.


“Where are you going?” Brian asks.


“To deal with my homophobic father.” I tell him.


“Need any help?” He ask.


“Nope. It’s something I need to do on my own, you can’t always save me.” I tell him.


“Have I ever?” He asks, probably thinking I’m batshit crazy.


“Do me a favor, meet me on the front step at Woody’s at midnight.” I tell him.


“Why?” He asks.


“I’ll save the last dance for you.” I tell him.


Brian nodded and went to get in his jeep. I could see the confusion in his eyes as he followed me, but I couldn’t explain it to him, he wouldn’t believe me. I laughed when the bus pulled to a stop, it was sign that I need to deal with my father.


I got off the bus in front of Craig’s store. I knew he was still there when I saw his car. It was just weird, because he left my seventeen year old self this morning and is about to face me now at thirty. It's an age he never saw, because we never saw each other after the one time I went to him for help for college in this timeline. In the second timeline we didn’t even acknowledge each other after he tried to send me to straight camp.


I walked in and found him standing in front of a display. He didn’t notice that I wasn’t the Justin he knew, but asked why I was here instead of home doing my homework.


“I decided it was better to do it this way, so Mom doesn't wonder why there are two of me walking around.” I tell him.


He looked at me, then started backing away. “Who are you?” He asks.


“You know who I am, and I know that you seem to think screwing my life up will change something. So either we talk now or you can sit in hell with Lindsay later. It's where she ended up when she thought she could screw with my life. But then, maybe that's where you want to be. It's the only reason I could come up with for what the little group you're supporting is doing.” I tell him.


“I'm insuring my place and yours in Heaven. Don't you see what will happen if Brian gets his hands on you? Only this time I know how to keep you from making that mistake.” He tells me.


“I'm sure that's what Lindsay hopes will happen. But since every life I live is with Brian, and somehow we get to the pearly gates and through them, your logic is faulty. It's not your place to judge my life, when all you ever did was fuck up yours. Since I know you, I doubt my soul is anything you care about, so how about we get down to what you get out of this. Because one thing Brian always had right was no one does something unless they have something to gain.” I tell him.


“What would I have to gain, other than a son I could respect?” He sneers.


“Let's see, there's jealousy, which I could see since Brian’s company becomes the biggest Advertising company in the world. Greed, which makes sense because you came from a working class background, one that none of the country club members respect. Now love had me stumped for a bit, but then you love the life you had, with Mom playing her part as the devoted housewife. Is that it, that she left you and found out she could take care of herself and that not being your wife wasn't the end of her world?” I ask.


“She fucking had another child, while I couldn’t because I was sterile. Do you know what it was like to find out I couldn’t have more kids? I prayed for a son who I could be proud of, but you were it. The end of my line.” He sneers.


“So what, you decided that I'm somehow going to change?” I ask.


“No. But right now your mother can still have a child, and unlike before, she's still in love with the life I gave her. Once she's pregnant again, I honestly couldn’t care less what you do, because I'll fight her for my son.” He tells me.


“So Molly isn't good enough, but this fictional son is? What happens if it's a girl? Because you know Mom’s next child was a girl. I doubt she'll be willing to try again once you and I play this life out in the same roles.” I tell him.


“Not in the life I tried on you.” He smirks.


“Considering you never had any more children in that life either, it's a stretch to think you will. Maybe you're already sterile? Ever think of that? Understand one thing, you aren’t just screwing with my fate, but yours. I seem to have God on my side, you have the devil's own on yours. Do yourself a favor and get out before you find out what Lindsay did.” I tell him.


“God wouldn’t want a faggot.” He tells me.


“I'll have to ask him for you, since I've been there. Strangely, I've never seen you there, I wonder why.” I tell him.


“I don’t believe you.” He tells me, looking worried.


“Do yourself a favor and walk away from the bargain you made, because you're dealing with the devil.” I tell him.


“I will not lose everything so you and Brian can live like kings. You want to know what happens to me? I lose everything because of you and Brian.” He tells me.


“Greed it is. What did they tell you? Because we might never have talked again, but you were still in business when you died. So if they told you Brian and I bankrupted you, we didn’t. You meant nothing to us. You have the chance to redeem yourself by not helping the others, but only if you stop what you're doing.” I tell him.


“You're breaking the rules by being here.” He tells me.


“Actually he isn't Grandfather. He's trying to save you, when he really should leave you to your fate.” Kira tells him.


“Kira, should you be here?” I ask, seeing the shimmering ghost of my daughter.


“They figured he wouldn’t believe you. I came to show him his future.” She tells me, holding out her hands to Craig. “Take my hands, and see where this path will lead you.” She says as she clasps his hand. He turned white and screamed. “Yeah, hell isn't pretty is it?” She asks him.


“Hopefully he gets it. I have to go back now. See you soon Daddy.” She tells me, surrounding me with her warmth. “ I can’t help Dad when he comes, but Uncle Mikey will.” She whispers before disappearing.


“Are we done, do you get it yet?” I ask, and he nods.


Taking one last look at my sperm donor, I walked away, glad that's all he was in the life Brian and I were going to make. I looked at the time and realized Brian should be waiting for me soon.


He was sitting on the steps, still confused. It was probably because he didn't get why he agreed to meet me, when he could be getting laid. I sat next to him, thinking in a few days his world was going to change.


“I need to tell you something before I go.” I tell him.


“Why would you think I want to listen?” He asks.  


“Because part of you knows you want to, even if it doesn't make sense.” I tell him.


“Fine. What?” He asks.


“You were worth everything we went through in this life. When I tell you I love you, believe that I always did and always will.” I tell him, then kiss him goodbye. I opened my eyes to see Brian standing in front of me, not moving. He took a breath then looked around disappointed.


“It didn’t work?” He asks.


“I just got back. I think you and Michael have to go together this time.” I tell him.


“Lovely. But what the hell is the beginning of us? I'm not finishing a hand job.” He tells me, cringing.








Chapter 27 by starlight

BRIAN


After we got home Justin went upstairs, saying he needed to hold Gus and Jenny. It’s something he started needing whenever he dealt with Craig. I remembered the feeling when either my father or Craig showed up at my loft in the last life. Justin tried to hide the hurt, but in the end needed Gus and me to help him. I didn’t want him dealing with Craig again in any life, but I doubted this would be his only trip back, although hopefully Craig took him seriously enough to bow out of this. What bothered me was Justin saying that Michael needed to go back with me. Why Mikey and not Justin?


I checked on Justin, who had moved the kids to our bedroom. Jenny was sleeping between pillows with Justin on one side and Gus on the other. I watched them, thinking this was what I wanted... us. It didn’t matter the life we lived, just that it included our children. And I wanted Kira here, because she completed us. Kira would have to wait though, until we ended the bullshit. I’ve never been patient about getting what I want, and knew it was time to find the beginning of Mikey and me and finish our part.


Of course finding Mikey was incredibly easy, he never seemed to stray from what he knew. For the first time in this life he didn’t look at me like I was shit on the bottom of his shoe, he actually looked happy to see me. I sat in the usual booth with him, seeing Deb crinkle her forehead when Mikey was happy to see me. She didn’t say anything though, just delivered my coffee and went back to talking to her other tables. She really didn’t interfere in this Mikey’s life as much as the other lives, but then, she didn’t have the guilt she had being an unwed mother raising Mikey while lying about who his father was.


“I figured out something.” Mikey tells me.


“What’s that?” I ask, grimacing after taking a slip of the sludged they call coffee here, adding half the sugar in the container before it tasted drinkable.


“How did you never get diabetes?” Mikey joked.


“My daughter monitored everything I ate and drank after my last cancer scare.” I tell him.


“It’s weird to remember that life, but feel like I don’t even know the person I was in that life. Maybe it’s because in this life you weren’t the hero I had made you out to be in my head.” He tells me.


“I was never a hero, Mikey.” I tell him.


“Did it work?” He asks, about Justin and me trying to find a way back.


“Justin went back but I didn’t. From what Justin told me, you and I have to go back this time. I just don’t know why it’s you and me.” I tell him.


“What do any of the villains have in common with us?” He asks.


“Really, villains?” I ask, thinking classic Mikey.


“Hey, for once my comic knowledge might help. Villains only join together to fight when they have a common goal.” He tells me.


“We have Gardner, Rita, and Rickert. Rickert and Rita are the only two that might have anything in common... Hunter. In the first life you and Ben got Hunter away from Rita, but only because she showed who she really was in court. When the second life happened, there was no way a Judge wouldn’t have given Jen custody.” I tell him.


“Hunter must hate me.” Mikey tells me, looking down at the table.


“The kid doesn’t hate anyone. He knows that he got a good thing when Jen became his mother. He couldn’t help wanting to keep her in his life, because like me, he knew Jen for the special woman she is.” I tell him.


“What about Ma?” He whispers.


“When you think about it, their relationship wasn’t as close because you always came first to Deb. She loved Hunter in her own way, but then Jenny was born. At that point her focus was on Jenny, not that she meant to hurt Hunter, but in a way, you all did.” I tell him.


“It’s weird now, you know. I can remember the Brian I once thought I loved, but by actually looking back at it, can also see how unhealthy my dependence on you looked to everyone else in my life. It also made me see that I didn’t love Ben as much as I wanted to, because if I had, he wouldn’t have been competing with you all my life. ” He tells me.


“The point to this?” I ask.


“I think I know where we began.” He tells me.


“Where was that?” I ask.


“When I stopped you from taking it any further in the comic shop. For once I didn’t want you, even if you thought I did.” He tells me.


“Why did you stop me?” I ask.


“Justin.” He tells me.


“You didn’t give a shit about Justin.” I tell him.


“You’re right, I didn’t. I won’t lie and say I didn’t want to hurt Justin. What I meant was, with Justin, you were different. You respected him in a way you never did anyone else. When you kissed Justin it was like you found the secret that all of us wanted to find. When you kissed me that night, there was nothing there, it was like I was one of the many on Brian’s trick list. It wasn’t what I always wished would happen when you kissed me. That night I understood. I finally realized that you couldn’t love me like that, because for you, Justin was and always would be everything.” He tells me.


“It’s part of being half of a whole. Without Justin, I was only living half a life.” I tell him.


“Maybe that’s why I couldn’t love anyone the way I was suppose to, because I was always waiting for something that would never happen.” He tells me.


“Ben thought you’d be pissed that I never told you who your soulmate was.” I tell him.


“I’m jealous that I’ve lived all these lives and never met someone who makes me feel what you and Justin do for each other, but that’s my fault, for being too scared to fight for what I want. I thought back to that time and realized that I sent a nineteen year old to take on Hollywood, while I pretended it was because they wanted Justin there. It was just as much my vision, but it was outside of my comfort zone to fight for it. Instead, I stayed behind, and hurt Ben when I wouldn’t say yes. In a way, I was hoping that you would give me a reason to say no to Ben. I can’t even say I like who I was, because Justin fought for me at every turn and I was still willing to shit on him, for being something for you that you wouldn’t ever want from me.” He tells me.


“When you meet Conner you’ll understand, it’s different than anything you’ve ever felt.” I tell him.


“Then we need to go and see if I’m right, because I want to meet him without the possibility of losing him, because Lindsay can’t figure out you were never going to want what she did.” He tells me, getting up.


We walked toward the store that was once comic shop, but was just an empty building now. It was weird because the businesses around it thrived, but the ones that opened in the shop that Michael once ran failed every time someone rented it. I remember going by it and seeing the going out of business signs, practically a month after the new owners opened the doors.


“I wonder if buildings remember what they were in past lives.” Mikey asks.


“Why?” I ask.


“Because the only one that didn’t go out of business here was Buzzy’s. It only closed because he retired, after that the other owners could never make a go of it.” He tells me.


“Red Cape didn’t really take off either. You stayed in business, but only because Rage kept you in business.” I tell him.


“Keep reminding me of Saint Justin.” He jokes.


“If you'd believed in yourself, you could have done it without Justin.” I tell him.


“That’s the reason I loved you, you know. You always believed in me more than I did in myself. Now I can see it as what a brother would have wanted for me.” He tells me as we stand in front of the shop.


“Do you feel it?” I ask.


“Brian, I honestly don’t feel the way I use to feel.” He tells me.


“Not that you moron, I’m talking about feeling like we found the right place.” I tell him, rolling my eyes.


“I thought it was just because this place was sort of my home, but yeah it’s like it’s pulling at me to go in.” He tells me, blushing from embarrassment.


“Now, how to get in.” I said, wishing that lockpicking had made it into my skill set.


“For once I had a plan. I got the key, telling the guy I wanted my business partner to look at the space.” He tells me, holding up the key with a smirk.


“Can we just go in and see if we can get this over with. Then we need to find Marilyn, because even though she’s relatively useless most of the time, she’s there to help.” I tell him.


We walked in but then didn’t really know what to do. I wasn’t going to repeat the last time. We stood where we did before I left him that night, but nothing really happened.


“We could, you know, try what we did.” He tells me, not looking like he wanted to.


I leaned in, but we both busted out laughing, because neither of us wanted to kiss the other. We ended up holding each other up because we were practically hysterical. I pulled back when someone bumped into me, and saw Buzzy staring at us like he was about to call the cops.


“Michael, I know you like comics, but really, until the door says ‘open’ I prefer the customers to wait outside.” He tells him.


“Sorry, Brian and I saw some kids picking your lock. We ran them off and waited for you, so they wouldn’t come back and rob you blind.” Mikey tells him.


“Next time call the cops and then let them, the insurance would pay for anything they took.” He tells us.


“Okay. Well now that you're here we’ll be going.” Mikey tells him.


We left, but then where to go was a problem, because we would run into ourselves if we went anywhere. I figured out one place we wouldn’t, but wanted to curse that we would have to go there. I stopped to see what the date was and wanted to yell. Why today of all days? This was the night Justin and Gus came into my life, and seeing my mother was not something I wanted to have change the greatest night of my life.


“We’re seriously going in?” Mikey asked, in distaste for the house of my nightmares.


“We just need a place where we won’t run into us. It’s the one place I never came unless I had to.” I tell him, knocking on the door.


My mother opened the door but looked uncomfortable, most likely because she never liked company. “I was expecting you.” She tells me, surprising me.


“Why?” I ask.


“Some person told me you’d be here. I’d really appreciate you not sending someone like that to my church. It wasn’t funny.” She tells me.


“I didn’t send anyone.” I tell her.


“Well you should tell them I didn’t need a crossdresser accosting me in God’s house. I understood what the others wanted, but it wasn’t something I wanted to be involved in.” She tells me.


“They came to you?” Mikey asks her.


“I might not like what Lindsay said, but it’s up to God how Brian should live his life. I can only pray for his soul, not risk mine.” She tells me.


“Pray all you want mother, but in the end it won’t change that I marry Justin and live the life I want. One that didn’t include you.” I tell her.


“Come in. You’re supposed to wait here until ten when everyone goes to work. Then you can go to the diner.” She tells me, leaving us to follow her in.


“Why are you helping us?” Mikey asks her.


“Because I might not like what I was told about Brian’s life, but he’s my son and I love him. I know he doesn’t believe that, but it’s the truth.” She tells Mikey.


I wanted to say so many things about the love she professed and realized it wouldn’t change anything. It’s why I left it alone, because she wasn’t going to wake up one day and change her beliefs, it was all she had in this life that never let her down. I could tell her one thing, but only because it’s something I couldn’t say to her in this life.


“As much as I hated you for putting everything before me, I loved you the only way I knew how.” I tell her.


“Lindsay told me that if I help, my grandson wouldn’t be raised in a house of sin.” She tells me. “It’s just talking to that person and hearing about your life with Justin, changed my mind about being involved.” She tells me.


“Even without Justin I wouldn’t have wanted a wife. I’m gay and nothing will change that.” I tell her.


“What’s your life like now?” She asks, looking at me strangely.


“I have two parents who love me, it didn’t matter to them when they found out. My father and mother gave me the childhood I dreamed of, when I was being beaten by Jack. With them as parents I no longer saw love as the prison you and Jack did. In the life I lived with you I didn’t want anyone to get close to me. I put the man I love through shit to avoid letting anyone tie themselves to me, because I never wanted to see the look you got when you saw Jack.” I tell her.


She didn’t ask any more questions, just grabbed the glass of sherry she had on the counter and drank it. We waited until it was time to go. I looked at her one last time and really didn’t see my mother, because Beth and Jen showed me what a mother really was. She hugged me, not the way she used to, barely touching me, but as if she was trying.


“I hope you get everything you want.” She whispers kissing my cheek.


“I do, but it’s not here, and I won’t let this life take it away from me.” I tell her, walking out the door.


“I guess it’s time to see Ma.” Mikey tells me, as we walk to the bus stop.


“I hate the bus.” I tell him.


“I hated the corvette.” He tells me.


“Why? You didn’t mind riding in it.” I tell him.


“You only bought it when you couldn’t have Justin. You can say what you want, but we all knew it was boyfriend replacement.” He tells me.


“Shit, even Justin hated that car.”  I admit.


“Probably because you two couldn’t fuck in it. At least the Jeep had room, which you proved the night you met Boy Wonder.” He tells me.


“He hated that nickname.”  I tell him.


“He really should have paid better attention to the comics, because you know, Boy Wonder was Batman’s only partner.” He tells me.


“That’s not why you called him that.” I argue, as we sit down.


“Of course not, it was the only thing I ever said to him that got on his nerves. Shit, do you know what it’s like to have a teenager make you feel like you were a child compared to him?” He asks.


“Since he was the grown up in our relationship, yeah, I think I do.” I joke.


We got off the bus and I dragged Mikey into the alley, because the Mikey here was standing outside the diner on the phone talking. “Shit, you know that I was actually talking to Ma who was inside the diner calling me.” He whispers, as the other Mikey walked by us.


“Yes Ma, we’ll stop by tonight before we go out... I know, but Brian wants to go out tonight... I’ll try to get him to understand that I need to sleep before work... Bye Ma.” Mikey hangs up, rolling his eyes. “Jesus Christ, I’m a grown man…” He mumbles going past us.


“Please tell me I wasn’t this pathetic?” Mikey groans, as I nod smirking.


Deb looked confused at Mikey and me when we walked in the door. “Why aren’t you two at work?” She asks, coming over to the booth.


“My boss changed my schedule and Brian called saying he wanted something to eat.” Mikey tells her, making me see Mikey learned the art of lying to Deb, something we never accomplished in any life.


“Are you feeling alright, eating again only an hour later?” Deb asks, feeling my head.


“He plans to work of the carbs later. Which I’m sure the boys at Babylon will appreciate.” Kiki jokes.


Marty comes in, which had everyone looking at him; since we were used to Marilyn, not him. He sat down without being asked and waited until Deb served us to say anything.


“I’ve been told to tell you to stay away from Babylon tonight.” He tells us.


“Why?” I ask.


“Because everything that should happen tonight will. They lost Craig, who was the only thing that would prevent Justin from being there tonight. You two need to get to Lindsay, Rita, and Gardner, who are planning to make sure Rickert get’s the future they want.” He tell me.


“I can strangle it out of you.” I tell him.


“Lindsay knows about Jason Kemp, and in order for Rita to become the mayor’s wife they figured out a way for Rickert to have what he wants at home.” He tells us.


“She really would… never mind, after dealing with her, yeah she’d do that to Hunter.” Mikey says, looking ready to murder the woman.


“It’s the reason Brian needed you here. You know exactly what kind of person Rita is, and Brian knows Gardner’s the kind of bastard who would help promote anyone with enough backing.” He tells us.


“Why not Stockwell?” Mikey asks.


“Because Lindsay couldn’t convince Stockwell to leave his family, no matter what she promised him. He might have been a homophobic prick, but he loved his family and believed in what he was saying. Someone like Rita went against everything he believed in. It’s like my mother; they both believe the shit they preach, and marrying a woman who could sell her son to pay for her drug habit wasn’t it.” I tell him.


“He protected Rickert.” Mikey tells me.


“He protected his own ass. He wanted to distance himself from Rickert, not protect him.” I tell him.


“Rickert still works for him.” Mikey tells me.


“Which means Stockwell should know what’s in his closet.” I tell them.


“He’d do what he did in the past, and make Rickert retire. How does that help us?” Mikey asks.


“Mikey, what was one of the things Stockwell did when I was on his campaign?” I ask.


“He closed down any establishment that promoted our lifestyle.” He guesses.


“And what would he do if he found out that men frequented a bar and that bar had a bunch of minor rent boys that perverts could buy for the evening? He’d make sure to arrest them and parade them for the masses. It would prove to everyone he was trying to clean up the streets and that being gay also meant being a pedofile. Now we just have to make sure Rickert is there and that he does what we know he will. Then we make sure Rita is stupid enough to be there too.” I tell him.


“We are not using Hunter.” Mikey grits though his teeth.


“No, that isn’t even something I wanted when Hunter did it. We need to pay a few of the boys outside to be there, but also get Hunter to help by convincing Rita that the kids are looking for a pimp. It’s something she would see as better than marrying Rickert.” I tell him.


“One problem; Hunter doesn’t know us.” He tells me.


“It’s why I’m here, not that you two seem to remember.” Marty tells us.


“And?” I really hate Marty some days.


“I only get a few pleasures in life and irritating you is one of them. I made friends with the littlest Hustler last night. He’s willing to meet with you two, since I told him it would keep Rita from finding him. He’s at my loft waiting for you two, so can we go before you and Michael show up here in an hour?” He tells us.


“What about Ma? You know she’s going to be asking why we keep coming back.” Mikey whispers.


“Since you’re off, walk me home. I have to come back later because the new waitress called off.” Deb yells as she puts on her coat.


“Just go, and meet us at my place.” Marty tells him, when Mikey was about to tell her he couldn’t.


Mikey nodded and got up to help Deb put on her coat. She smiled at Mikey and looped her arm through his, walking out the door. Marty and I went out and got in his car to go to his place.


“Just be prepared, Hunter is skittish as hell. I had to let him lock the bedroom door last night, because he really thought I wanted his skinny ass.” Marty tells me, as he unlocks his door.


“Great, you think you can pimp me out because you let me sleep here.” Hunter says, looking resigned to paying the only way he knew in this life.


“Sorry kid, but your ass really doesn’t compare to the one I want.” I tell him.


“You don’t know what I can do.” He taunts me.


“I don’t plan on ever finding out. Can we talk or do you need to keep mouthing off to prove your not scared as hell? I get it, trust me.” I tell him.


“Really? You get what it’s like to have your mother offer you up to anyone to get her fix?” He asks.


“I get what it’s like to have the person who's supposed to protect you let a bastard beat you until your arm breaks. I get what it’s like to think there is no one who gives a damn about you. One thing you and I are going to understand about each other is that I do give a damn and want to stop what you’re life has been like. In order to do that we need to make sure your mother doesn’t have any way to convince a judge, social worker, or the police that she should have ever been a mother to any child.” I tell him.


“I don’t need you to help me stay away from her, I’ve been doing it for years without anyone’s help.” He tells me.


“She has a police officer to help her. Rickert.” I tell him.


“Fuck, that guy’s into some fucked up shit.” Hunter says, looking ready to bolt.


“We know, and it’s why we need your help.” I tell him.


“What do you need me to do?” He asks warily, as Mikey opens the door.


“We need you to talk to some of the other street hustlers and tell them to play along.” I tell him.


“But you will not join them.” Mikey tells him.


“Why should I listen to you?” He asks.


“Because I don’t want your mother selling your ass. I made the mistake once of thinking the mother of a kid who I thought of as a son had changed, and deserved a chance. I found out that she was just hoping to use him to support her drug habit. I don’t want to fail you.” Mikey tells him.


“Tell me what you want.” Hunter tells me.


“We need the you to convince your mother that the boys want someone to serve as their pimp. It’s something she did with you, so she wouldn’t have a problem with it. With Rickert on her side, he could make sure her boys didn’t get arrested. The only thing we need is for them all to be at the bar Rickert likes to frequent, offering up the minors to the guys at the bar. Make sure one of the boys hits on Rickert. We can get cops there to keep them from being hurt.” I tell him.


“When do you need me to do this?” Hunter asks.


“As soon as you can, but I also need time to convince someone to help us, give me a few days to get everything in place. Once you can, let me know that your mother is willing, then we can move ahead. After you tell us, you’re out. I don’t want you there.” I tell him.


“You really give a shit about me?” He asks in a small voice.


“We all do, more than you know.” Mikey tells him.


“Where do I go?” He asks.


“I have a friend who will help. Rita won’t find you there, she wouldn’t even know to look for you.” I tell him.


“You promise?” He asks.


“I promise no one will find you.” I tell him.


Hunter left, saying he was going to talk to the guys. Mikey wanted to go with him, but Hunter told him that an old guy tends to look strange talking to the rent boys.


“What now?” Mikey asks, not happy that Hunter was gone.


“We wait, I need to talk Daphne after we drop Justin off. She’s always been able to hide everything from her parents.” I tell him.


“She hates me.” Mikey whines.


“She didn’t hate you, just didn’t see why we were friends.” I tell him, which she mentioned a few hundred times over the years.


“Brian you can’t interfere with tonight. Justin meets the Brian he’s supposed to meet.” Marty tells me.


“I didn’t plan on interfering, just watching the night my life changed. If I have to stay here then I do it being able to see him.” I tell him.

 

Marty agreed we could go but only if I kept my distance. I didn’t plan on approaching Justin, he didn’t need the confusion that would cause. When it was time, Marty was dressed as Marilyn. He handed me and Mikey hoodies saying the rest of Liberty Avenue would notice if I was wandering around with Mikey. We were waiting when Daphne stopped and Justin got out of the car. He was nervous as hell walking around. I wanted to snatch the cigarette out of his hand when he lit it, but Justin was never a smoker, like I was. When he stopped to talk to that guy, Mikey had to remind me that Justin made it to me still a virgin. It didn’t help when the guy acted like a dick to Justin. I made sure to trip the asshole when he walked by me. He landed on his face and as much as I wanted to kick his ass, Justin was almost to the streetlight. Watching our first meeting, I remembered thinking this kid had trouble written all over him. When they got in the jeep and left we followed the guys, and I finally got to see the one that Mikey was with when I called him about Gus.


“Really?” I ask Mikey.


“I was horny.” Mikey whines.


“Brian, we can’t go to the hospital, don’t even think about it.” Marilyn warns me.


“I wasn’t planning to go. After Gus was born, there was nothing about that hospital that I wanted remember.” I tell him.







Chapter 28 by starlight

BRIAN


I hated this waiting around shit, but since we didn’t know what would happen if we ran into ourselves, we didn’t want to risk it. Since I knew what time Justin would be dropped off, I borrowed Marilyn’s car and waited. Daphne was standing at the top of the stairs, waiting for Justin. I got out and went over to her, it really wasn’t fun to see her look at me like I was some pervert.


“I need to talk to you about Justin.” I tell her, because Daphne would run into a burning building for Justin.


“Where is he?” She asks, looking worried.


“He’ll be here soon but I need your help.” I tell her.


“Why would I help you? I don’t know you.” She comments, inching away.


“In a minute a jeep is going to come speeding down this road with Justin in it. When he gets out and comes up these steps, he’s going to tell you he met the face of God, and his name is Brian Kinney. After that you can decided if you want to talk to me.” I tell her, going back to the car and waiting for what ended up outing Justin at school.


The Jeep skidded to a stop and I watch as Justin talked to me, noticing the smile on my face as I told him he could see me in his dreams. Michael isn’t the only one who can look back and not be happy with the things he did. I watch Daphne listen to Justin, and then instead of following him in, she came to my car.


“Okay, I don’t even want to know how you knew that, but I’m willing to listen.” She tells me, getting in.


“I have a kid who needs a place to go for a couple days. There’s a lot of shit that he doesn’t need to be in the middle of.” I tell her.


“What do you think I can do?” She asks.


This is where knowing Daphne the way I do, means that I also know to give it to her straight.


“This kid’s mother uses him to feed her drug habit. Right now she’s got a cop to help her, and that means we need the kid to be somewhere no one would look for him. It might be hard for you to believe, but one day this kid is going to be like a brother to Justin.” I tell her.


“Are you on drugs? I mean, I’m still trying to figure out how you knew what Justin said, but this sounds a bit well, nuts.” She tells me.


“Yes it does, can you at least meet me tonight. Justin is going to ask you to drop him off on Liberty Avenue again. Can you at least meet the kid I’m telling you about? He needs a break and a place to be when this all goes down.” I tell her.


“Why do you think I would help you?” She asks.


“Because it’s the person you are, you couldn’t leave a kid to get hurt and not do something about it.” I tell her.


She sat there looking into my eyes, looking for something that she must of found. “If my parents find out I helped, I’ll be grounded until I’m eighteen. I’ll at least meet him, but this better be for real, because otherwise you and the cops will be having a talk tonight.” She tells me.


“After I leave my next stop is to talk to a cop, one who will hopefully help us. So you can file the complaint directly to him if I’m lying.” I tell her.


“I have to go, the last thing I need is Dixon up my ass for skipping his class.” She tells me, taking the paper with Marilyn’s address.


I waited for her to get to the doors of the school and there was her partner in crime, coming out to find her. He looked in my direction, but Daphne pulled him with her into the building, not that he could see me from that distance. I really hated that this wasn’t going to be a one day and away. There was no way I could get what we needed done that quickly.


Carl was standing outside the station when I got there. I walked up to him and asked if we could talk. One of the things I had learned was that Carl has always had a strong moral code, but he also has a strong bond of brotherhood with his fellow officers. I wasn’t going to tell him once again I needed him and it involved someone on the force. It was better to let him think he was saving the kids, not that he was about to arrest Stockwell’s old partner on the force. He was on his way to get something to eat and I offered to buy in order to get his opinion on a situation.


“Have we met?” He asks, trying to place me.


“No, I asked around and they said you were the one to go to about this.” I tell him.


“What exactly is it you think I can help you with?” He asks me.


“I went out the other night with a few friends to a bar that we don’t normally go to. When we got there the clientele wasn’t what we were expecting.” I tell him, naming the bar.


“Is there a reason you went to that particular bar? It’s reputation leans towards, well, gay men.” He tells me.


“Do you have a problem with gay men?” I ask, then remember this is Carl before Deb. “Look it’s not about my preference, which has never been kids barely in their teens. I don’t like seeing some kid selling his ass to a man your age, just to be able to get something to eat. If you don’t care then I’ll leave it alone, but sooner or later you could be staring at a dead rent boy, because he didn’t realized the guy his pimp sold him too, was a psycho, on top of being a pedophile.” I tell him.


“I can’t just take your word for it. How do I know you aren’t just trying to stir up trouble for the owner? A lot of groups would love to use the police force to stir up shit with the gay community.” He tells me.


“Since I’m gay, the last thing I want to do is confirm anyone’s belief that gay men like little boys. But it doesn’t change what’s going on at that bar. I came to you because not coming to you would say that I condone what’s going on there. The last thing we need is Stockwell parading a bunch of perverts in front of the press, preaching that being gay is one step away from being a pervert, but right now the more important thing is keeping these kids from being hurt. One of the kids is staying at the house of a friend of mine, will you at least meet him and hear what he knows?” I ask.


“Just understand, if this goes any further, it’s not to make the gay community look bad, but because of the kids you told me about.” He tells me, agreeing to meet at Marilyn's place.


MICHAEL


I felt kind of useless just sitting around at Marilyn’s. I mean, if I’m here shouldn’t I be doing something? Looking at the time, I knew where I was, so it wasn’t likely that I’d run into me. Of course part of the reason I wanted to go out was to watch me. It wasn’t fun to figure out I was kind of an asshole in every life. Only it’s like I’m seeing my life from the outside.


I stood outside the Big Q, dressed in the hoody that Marilyn insisted I wear everywhere. I remember worrying that someone would figure out I was gay when I worked here, and couldn’t believe it bothered me. I spent my new life not caring that anyone knew, even when Ethan tried to tell me to hide it, since I’d been passed up for promotion a dozen times, so maybe I wasn’t just paranoid in this life. I walked in and just wandered around, seeing Tracy standing there talking to this Michael. I wanted to walk up to him and tell him to tell her, because she wasn’t going to out him, but knowing that this Michael was scared of everything. After a while I realized there wasn’t really a reason I came here, except maybe hoping that I could find something about me that wasn’t annoying. Watching me joke with Marley about gay men just made me want to slap him in the head.


I left, because one of the things that I don’t want is to watch this history. I wandered around, feeling out of sorts because I can remember the way I felt about Brian in this life, but then in the life we were in now, he really doesn’t do anything for me. It’s like, for the first time I can say he really would only be a friend, because the reasons I thought I loved Brian aren’t there anymore. Maybe it’s knowing that there is someone that was created for me, or that Brian isn’t the hero this me believes?


I went to PIFA, because I wanted to see Ethan. The fucker was messing with my life too. If he was involved in this life, he wasn’t going to get away with it. So far it only seems like he was involved in the new timeline, but the last thing we needed was another loose end to tie up. I found him in the music room playing, and wondered how he avoided it in the new timeline. He finished a playing and looked up at me.


“Are you lost?” He asks.


“No, I heard you playing and stopped.” I tell him, trying to see if he recognizes me.


“I was great, wasn’t I.” He smirks.


“Sounded like two cats fighting.” I tell him, walking away thinking Ian was a self important asshole, who didn’t know me. At least one thing was going our way.


BRIAN


I opened the door and let Daphne in, who seemed okay when she saw Hunter and Carl. Carl wasn’t happy when he heard that the pimp was Hunter’s mother, and that she was also the person who pimped him out at one time. He listened to Hunter, and was willing to agree to stake out the bar, to verify what we told him. When he saw Daphne he wasn’t happy another teenager was involved.


“She’s only going to hide Hunter until this is over.” I tell him.


“Her parents aren’t going to mind she’s got a boy staying at her house?” Carl asks.


“My parents are sort of oblivious to things. My best friend stays over all the time, and normally they don’t even notice that he’s there.” She tells him.


“You expect me to go with her?” Hunter asks.


“Yes. Because your mother has a new way to look for you. If you stay with Daphne, it’s the last place they would think to look for you.” I tell him.


“She’s a good person and a lioness when she cares about someone. No one get’s past her.” Mikey tells him.


“How would you know?” Daphne asks.


“Trust me, I know.” Mikey tells her.


Hunter explained to everyone that his mother was meeting with the kids who agreed to help. She tried to make him stay with her, but he was able to get away when she started talking about her percentage. Daphne started getting angry when Hunter told her that his mother pimped him out. At that point Daphne was all in, ready to go find the woman and show her what she thought of a mother who did that to her son.


Carl told Daphne and Hunter that he would follow them to her house, so he could make sure she was right and her parents were really that oblivious. “There’s more to this isn’t there?” He asked me when he was leaving.


“Yes, but it’s better you don’t know. It saves you from anyone thinking you turned on another cop.” I tell him, watching him to see if he’s going to have a problem with this.


“If they’re dirty, then it doesn’t matter.” He tells me, closing the door.


Chapter 29 by starlight

BRIAN 

 

Marilyn rushed into her apartment, slamming the door shut behind her.

 

“You’d better be ready to spin this, because Carl is on his way here.” She tells me. 

 

“Do you even remember how to spin things?” Mikey asked. “You own galleries now, not an Ad firm.” Mikey explained when Marilyn looked at him.

 

“Interesting. Was it to try to give Justin a reason to find you?” Marilyn asks.

 

“Yes. But he went into publishing instead, which isn't important right now. What am I supposed to be telling Carl?” I ask. 

 

“Carl is the verify everything kind of guy, so he checked out Brian Kinney. Who he then talked to, and since this Brian has no clue what's going on, it had him tracking me down. We're lucky that Justin distracted Brian so we only have to deal with Carl, who wasn't thrilled to see Brian and Justin together when you claimed you didn’t like young boys.” She tells me. 

 

“Why is he coming here?” I ask. 

 

“He cornered me asking what game we were playing. I told him you were just taking Justin home. That you wanted to keep him out of trouble and didn’t want anyone to hear about the set up. He said he'd be here in an hour, to make sure you were really just taking the kid home. I figured it was better for him to find you here, since he didn't need to go to the loft and find out where you really took Justin. Only now, this Brian left knowing something was up, and will most likely show up wanting to know. This is one of the reasons you have to be careful when you involve anyone. Because there are two of you here.” She tells me. 

 

“Mikey can handle this Brian. Now it makes sense why he's here, because at this point I wouldn’t have listened to Justin.” I tell her. 

 

“Oh you would have, this Brian was all for doing anything for your Justin.” She tells me. 

 

“What do you mean by that?” I ask.

 

“Shit, are you jealous of… well, you?” Mikey asks, laughing.

 

“Look, right now this Brian can't feel the bond to this Justin, because he felt it with the wrong one. But it will eventually change to this one, not that it matters because once you stop everything, this time line stops moving forward to the wrong ending. Then the correct time line plays out.” She tells us. 

 

“Is that why Kira told Justin that Michael had to come?” I ask. 

 

“Brian, if your daughter tells you anything, listen. That girl gets a lot of leeway when it comes to the rules. Although it really had to do with making sure Craig didn’t try to do anything to your Justin.” She tells me.

 

The knock on the door interrupted me from asking what Craig was going to do to Justin. Carl came in, seeming happy to see me standing there. He looked over at Michael strangely.

 

“I guess you got over being pissed Brian took the kid home.” Carl tells Mikey.

 

“He's always running off trying to keep the kiddies safe.” Mikey says, trying not to laugh.

 

“You weren’t saying that when I left the bar. You implied Brian had different plans.” Carl tells him. 

 

“Why were you talking about anything in a bar where someone might overhear you? If anyone knew what you were looking into, then everyone would know. Trust me, tell one person in Woody’s and half the bar tells the rest of Liberty Avenue.” I tell him, when Mikey didn’t have an answer.

 

“So you acted like you didn’t know me?” He asks. 

 

“If he didn’t then people would be trying to find out why you and Brian were talking. When Brian’s around everyone pays attention to him.” Mikey tells him. 

 

“What did you want to talk about?” I ask, when he accepted what Mikey told him.

 

“I'm assuming there's a cop involved in this, since you pretty much told me there was. Which causes a problem, because it means my guys can't stake out the bar, because he would know who they are. Which leaves me either going to IA, or asking you to help by letting them proposition you. We can be outside listening in and raid the place, but if you want to bust more than the hustlers, I need proof of who is running it.” He tells us.

 

“I'm going to need to check on some things first, but once I'm sure, then Mikey and I are willing to help.” I tell him. 

 

“Let me know. Did the kid get home okay?” He asks, as he's leaving.

 

“He's right where he should be. Do me a favor and let me contact you.” I tell him. 

 

“Okay. By the way how old was he?” He asks. 

 

“Seventeen about to be eighteen.” I tell him. 

 

“At least he's age of consent, not that you need to worry about that.” He tells me, leaving.

 

“You must be glad this time Justin is actually your age.” Mikey snickers.

 

“Grab your coat, we need to figure out if they recognize us.” I tell him. 

“They know who you are, but not that you're not from here. Craig was too scared to tell them, you guys could come back.” Marilyn tells us. 

 

“Why did Kira come for Justin?” I ask. 

 

“Because Craig wasn’t planning on letting Justin walk out of there. It's a dangerous game when no one would report you missing. Kira came because Justin was in danger, and like I said, she gets more leeway than anyone else.” She tells me. 

 

“Why? I get that for some reason the Big Guy is on our side, but like everyone reminds me, there are rules.” I tell her.

 

“Yes, but for some the rules are different. Ask Justin about something he told Emmett when Emmett went to purgatory. Then you'll understand why your daughter plays by her own set of rules. I can’t tell you, it's part of the rules I have to play by. Just know she's special for more than being your daughter.” She tells me. 

 

“Where are we going?” Mikey asks.

 

“I need to figure out if we need to involve Emmett.” I tell him. 

 

“Why?” He asks. 

 

“Because I left my life asleep in a bed I'd like to get back to. If using me or you doesn’t work, then we convince Emmett. They won't be expecting that.” I tell him. 

 

“Emmett is going to think you're nuts.” Mikey tells me. 

 

“Actually, Emmett was the easiest one to convince. Mel and Ted took a lot more convincing.” I tell him. 

 

“Emmett knew about you guys?” He asks. 

 

“At the time we needed help, it wasn’t just Lindsay.” I tell him. 

 

“I feel like shit that I helped her.” He tells me. 

 

“Why did you?” I ask. 

 

“I can tell you why this Michael did it. It's not something that makes any sense to me now. He thought after Ben died, and with Justin gone, that there was nothing standing in the way of you and him being together. Only he ended up living alone, because you never got over Justin. When he got upstairs it was to find out you were given the chance to try again. Only once again, it wasn’t going to be him. When Lindsay came along telling him he could finally have you if he played it right, he didn’t think twice about it.” He tells me. 

 

“You talk like it wasn’t you.” I tell him. 

 

“I don’t feel that way about you, he did. There has to be a reason I came back, because I won't believe it's to repeat my past. I want more, and for once I'm not going to stand by waiting for my life to happen.” He tells me. 

 

“You finally did it, Mikey.” I tell him. 

 

“What?” He asks. 

 

“Grew up. I've been waiting a few lives for it to happen.” I tell him, kissing his head.

 

“Then can we go with Michael? Since I finally graduated the Kinney School of Lost Boys.” He jokes.

 

We got to the bar, and there was the murdering asshole, talking to someone of the guys in the bar. Michael told me to let him see what he could find out, since Rickert and Michael never met. I went to a dark corner and watched, really proud of Michael for being the person I always thought he could be. It made me feel like my judgment in my friends wasn’t as bad as I was starting to believe. 

 

We'd avoided seeing Lindsay, since I knew I couldn’t pretend anything with her. Unlike Michael, she wasn't going to redeem herself. Not just because of where she ended up, but because she keeps trying. There's also the fact that we could tip them off, if Lindsay realized who we really were. Part of me wonders why Kira didn’t go after Lindsay herself. 

 

I miss my daughter, she grew up to be the best parts of me and Justin. She got Justin’s heart, and unfortunately my ability to cut through the bullshit. She and Gus were inseparable, because when either needed the other they always seemed to know and would be there for each other. I remember the day she came home crying because she told Vince she wasn’t ready to settle down. The phone rang and it was Gus, asking to talk to her. After that she left, saying she was going to get married. It was hard to hear that someone else was going to be the man in my daughter's life, but if she had to marry anyone Vince was it. It's still strange when I knew who Vince once was, but it made sense why he never settled down with anyone, because Kira didn’t exist in this world, so Vic lived as he did because the next life was the one where she came.

 

Michael sat in front of me after Rickert left. “He was lining up ‘dates’ for his boys. They're all supposed to meet here Friday to go home with the pervert who's paying to do anything they want to the kids.” He whispers, looking disgusted.

 

“Did he say anything to you?” I ask. 

 

“No, he ignored me, but explained to the others, if I wanted in, then it was a thousand for the weekend, and to avoid bruising any part of them that would show. Jesus, he acted like the kids were merchandise, not kids.” He tells me. 

 

“Michael, to him that's all they are.” I tell him, ready to get out of here.

 

We were walking out when Rickert saw me, he walked up, almost smirking at me.

 

“You’re both new here, and I'm not really comfortable with that. Is there some reason you're following me?” He asks, suspicious.

 

“Why would I follow you?” I ask, sarcastically. 

 

“That’s what I asked.” He tells me. 

 

“Shit Brian, you were right, I shouldn't have believed my boyfriend's best friend. David wouldn’t have come to this shit hole.” Michael cuts in, when Rickert kept at us.

 

“Since he wouldn’t come here there's no reason I'd see either of you here again, right?” He warns us.

 

“Only if I was trolling.” I sneered, walking off.

 

Michael caught up with me. “You think Emmett could deal with that?” He asks. 

 

“Honeycutt could deal with that and more. He only acts like a Queen because it makes him happy. There's more to him then you know.” I tell him. 

 

“How do we see him, without running into me?” He asks.

 

“We don’t. This is one that you get to sit out.” I tell him. 

 

“You're going NOW?” He asks.

 

“Michael, if we want to get back, it means getting shit done. When it comes to dealing with this Brian, it's your turn.” I tell him, walking away.

 

I showed up after stopping off for a drink, spilling some on me, because for this Michael, my drunk ass showing up wouldn't raise any questions. He answered the door, half asleep, but let me in. Emmett rolled his eyes as I stumbled to the couch and fell on it.

 

“Take him home.” Emmett whispers.

 

“Just let him sleep it off, at least he isn't with that kid.” Michael tells him, sounding happy.

 

They both closed their doors, for once Michael wasn’t hovering over me. I waited half an hour, then went in Emmett’s room. He pulled up his eye mask, glaring at me. Before he could wake Michael back up, I shook my head to tell him to be quiet.

 

“I need your help.” I tell him, totally sober, shocking him into silence. “I also need you to make sure no one knows about it. It’s big Emmett, which means you can't tell Ted, Michael, or half of Liberty Avenue.” I tell him. 

 

“Why me?” He whispers.

 

“Because I need someone who will believe in the impossible. What I'm going to tell you isn't easy to believe.” I tell him.

 

“I'll listen, but it better not be some bullshit you're trying to sell me.” He tells me. 

 

I told him everything, not stopping even when he gave me the look that questioned my sanity. When I got to the end, he pinched himself, not liking that it hurt.

 

“This isn't a dream.” I tell him. 

 

“It sounds like a nightmare. You're telling me that I end up with a football player turned actor. That somehow this kid you've been treating like a trick ends up being the man you spend your life with? Yet tonight you were ignoring the kid?” He asks.

 

“It this life, I wasn’t ready for him for years. I don't want live without him for the rest of my life, and if they succeed, I will.” I tell him, looking in his eyes to show him how serious I am. 

 

“You need my help?” He asks. 

 

“Yes.” I tell him. 

 

“I must be crazy, because I sort of believe you.” He tells me. 

 

“Why?” I ask. 

 

“Because the Brian I know wouldn’t ask anyone for help.” He tells me. 

 

“He didn’t figure out that you were the kind of friend you are.” I tell him, just wanting to go home to the love of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 30 by starlight

MICHAEL 

 

Marilyn wasn't happy when I showed up alone. I don't think she gets that neither Brian or Justin ever do anything without being able to see all the possible outcomes. They might not be psychic like she is, but if I wanted to get away with something, they're the two I'd ask how to do it. I ignored her grumbling, while we waited for Brian to get back. I was not really worried about the other Brian showing up, since he took Justin home with him.

 

“You should worry, because right now everything is changing with each person Brian involves.” She tells me. Which is sort of creepy, because it means she hears my thoughts.

 

“Why, since if everything works out this timeline stops? Maybe you should worry less, they've done this before by their own rules and it worked for them. Apparently your advice was sketchy at best. I get you see things we can't, but it would help more if you gave him a clue, because Brian is a master at being able to see all the angles.” I tell her. 

 

“So is this Brian, and trust me, THIS you will have him more curious than he already is.” She tells me. 

 

“Why?” I ask. 

 

“Because you don't look at Brian the way you did in this time. The way you practically kissed his ass in this timeline was obvious to everyone. He’s going to notice you aren’t looking at him like he's everything you want.” She tells me. 

 

“In the new life, I honestly didn't like him. So I didn't grow up with him protecting me from everything. Instead, I was dating Ethan, which really fucks with my head, but it’s also made me realize that my problems were the result of me and not Brian. I can honestly say the only thing I want from Brian and Justin is to be the friend to them that they were to me. The relationship between Brian and me here caused so many problems that didn’t have to happen if I'd accepted what he offered me.” I tell her. 

 

“You really mean that.” She tells me. 

 

“It want my life to turn out differently, and in order for that to happen it means not letting my past play like a continuous loop. Knowing that there is a person out there that was left waiting for us to meet because I was to afraid to do anything that might change my life, makes it easy to not want to repeat my past over and over again. I want to feel what Brian and Justin do, and know that the other person feels exactly the same. It's something I can have if I want it, so I'm trusting my best friend when he tells me we need to do something, because he wants the same thing I do. If it bothers this Brian that I'm not kissing the ground he walks on, so be it.” I tell her. 

 

“It's not that I don't want to tell him things, it's just there are rules. It's more me trying to make sure we don’t end up doing something that could get one of you killed.” She tells me. 

 

“Craig would have killed Justin?” I ask.

 

“He was thinking about it, because who would notice someone missing who shouldn't be here?” She tells me. 

 

“Why doesn't this Brian know anything? He meets Justin, then meets him younger, but he didn’t really react to it.” I ask.

 

“His mind doesn’t want to believe they're the same person. You have to remember this Justin isn’t the confident man Brian met the other night. In his head they aren’t the same person.” She tells me. 

 

“Brian was never one to ignore things, but face them head on. It's most likely why he never loved anyone the way he did Justin. Justin faced up to his mistakes and owned his life.” I tell her. 

 

“That's a lot of respect for someone you barely liked.” She tells me. 

 

“I wanted to like him, but it was like seeing who I could've been. It's hard to watch a kid be everything you were to afraid to be.” I tell her. 

 

“At least try to make Brian believe you're the Mikey here. We don’t need two of them righting all the wrongs.” She tells me, going to bed.

 

Which either Brian would do, because he's never been the selfish shit I once tried to make Justin believe.

 

JUSTIN 

 

I woke up not liking that Gus and Jenny weren’t breathing, but also not getting why I wasn’t frozen with them. When I got back, my thoughts were all over the place. The biggest one was why Brian and I couldn't get a life where we didn’t have to fight for us. If God cared so much, why was this happening to us? 

 

I left them in bed, because I couldn’t stand to see them so still. I decided I was dreaming as I walked out of the house and appeared on Liberty Avenue. It was strange to walk around and see people frozen in what they were doing. Up ahead of me was a guy about to trip but frozen just as his foot slipped on the icy sidewalk. I almost went over to help him, but before I could, a man in a parka did it. Which caught me off guard since everyone else was frozen. He took off down the street and I chased him, only to find him picking up a woman and moving her back a couple steps, which meant the car she was about to walk in front of wouldn’t hit her. I wasn’t sure what to think of what the guy was doing. It was silent out here, nothing made any sound.

 

“Well of course it’s silent, time stopped.” He says softly, but it was loud in the silence.

 

“Todd?” I ask, when I realized who it was.

 

“One of many names I go by.” He tells me, waiting for me to get closer. “You're not dreaming, we need to talk.” He tells me. 

 

“It has to be a dream, because I opened my front door and it became Liberty Avenue.” I tell him. 

 

“I didn’t want you to have to walk all that way. With everything frozen in time, you can't move your car.” He tells me. 

 

“You moved those people.” I pointed out. 

 

“They weren’t supposed to have that happen to them. In order for them to do what they will eventually, they can't be dead.” He tells me. 

 

“I'll give you the woman walking in front of a car but how would tripping kill the guy?” I ask.

 

“It wouldn’t normally, but he lands wrong, so, dead.” He tells me. 

 

“Why am I here?” I ask. 

 

“Because it's what I wanted.” He tells me, shrugging.

 

“You wanted me here to watch you change people's fates?” I ask. 

 

“I'm very disappointed if that's the only reason you'd think I'd show up.” He tells me. 

 

“Don’t take this wrong or do. Who are you?” I ask. 

 

“Uriel… light of God… seriously?” He asks, when I looked confused.

 

“I know who Uriel is, but why are you here?” I ask. 

 

“Because the others are busy dealing with Kira, who tried to convince her Uncle Michael to smite everyone that messes with her fathers.” He tells me. 

 

“Tell her we can handle it.” I tell him. 

 

“Justin, it's time for you tell Brian who Kira is.” He tells me. 

 

“He knows she's our daughter.” I tell him, confused.

 

“She's also a gift Raphael wanted you to have. He was allowed to create her to heal the world, and gave her to you and Brian because the love you two carry within yourselves for each other and those that you love would keep her on the right path.” He tells me. 

 

“Why tell us now?” I ask.

 

“You were upset when you came back. He cares Justin, but he also has faith in you and Brian to do what has to be done, to have your life be what you want. Do you ever wonder why you stopped under the streetlight?” He asks. 

 

“Not really, just that I was disappointed after wandering around.” I tell him. 

 

“It was also the place I could shine light on you. I wanted you to have everything, my Sunshine.” He tells me, before everything went black.

 

Chapter 31 by starlight

BRIAN 

 

Emmett showed up, most likely concerned about my sanity, and upon seeing Michael sitting on the couch at Marilyn’s, his too. Only after watching the two of us for a second he look confused. He saw Carl but ignored him to watch Michael.

 

“That's different,” He said looking at Michael.

 

“Marilyn’s worried about it.” Michael tells him. 

 

“Well it's not normal for you.” Emmett tells him. 

 

“Yes we get it, a world where Michael no longer pines over me. Can we get to why you're here.” I tell him, impatient to get home. It feels like the longer we're stuck here the less chance we have of getting home.

 

“Sure, it just really makes it more believable to me that you’re from an alternate time, seeing Michael not simpering in your presence.” Emmett tells me.

 

“Can we get on with the plan? It's not really fun to remember how pathetic I was running after Brian.” Michael asks.

 

“You want me to go to this bar that sells underage ass, then I make sure the pimp and muscle give the cops enough that they don't simply walk while the hustlers end up in jail or as a toy for human pieces of shit.” Emmett tells him, as we both stare at him. 

 

“Please guys, the cop needs to learn Woody’s isn't the place to talk to Brian about anything.” Emmett tells us, proving our point to Carl. “Don’t worry I spread it around tonight that the bear wanted a little cops and robbers action from Brian.” Emmett tells Carl.

 

“Bear?” Carl asks.

 

“Yeah, it's what we call guys that look like you.” Michael tells him, enjoying Carl's discomfort.

 

“I'll brush up on my gay language and etiquette later, right now we need you to sign some releases that you volunteered to do this. We plan to arrest you with everyone else, but you won't be charged. It makes it so no one thinks you were involved.” Carl tells him. 

 

“Why would that matter, if they're all being arrested?” Emmett asks.

 

“Because one of them is a cop. Unlike the rest of the world, other cops aren’t happy to see one of their own arrested. It will save you from harassment later.” Carl tells him. 

 

“When do you need me?” Emmett asks.

 

“Friday night, we don't have a lot of time to get you ready.” Carl tells him. 

 

“For what? I go in and buy the kid.” Emmett tells him. 

 

“We need the two selling the kids to admit their part in it. Otherwise we don't have any reason to arrest them. Being in the bar is just that, if we don't have solid proof.” Carl tells him. 

 

“Doesn't a police officer have a responsibility to you know, stop crime? I mean I get the guy is off, but how is it okay to ignore what's going on under his nose?” Emmett asks, making a valid point.

 

“In this case, he's committing the crime.” Michael adds.

 

“I need you to trust me, who am I going to take down? I need to know, because I've had to be careful who I selected to be in on this. If my judgment is wrong, then we just wasted manpower for it all to go south.” Carl asks.

 

It was that moment of truth that in every life, Carl balked at. If he did this time, then Michael would need to convince Brian to help him. It's one thing he still could do at this point in time. “Does the name Kenneth Rickert sound familiar?” I ask. 

 

“Are you out of your fucking mind? You want me to go after the chief of police’s old partner. The guy's won awards for being an outstanding cop.” Carl tells me. 

 

“Super Cop or not, it doesn't mean he's above the law. You told me it 

didn’t matter, but I guess you were blowing smoke up my ass.” I tell him. 

 

“Brian, it's not me not wanting to do my job, it's that I report to Stockwell. He's going to want this buried because he'll be tainted by it.” He tells me. 

 

“Then don't tell him. It's not like you can't act surprised by one of your fellow officers being dirty. From what I see on the news people do it all the time. You know, like the neighbors who said Johnny was such a sweet, quiet boy. We never knew he was cutting up bodies in his basement.” Emmett tells him. 

 

“I need to think about this, I'm not saying no. It's just going to cause a shit storm.” Carl says, getting up and walking out.

 

“So after this I should get to know Justin?” Emmett asks, as if it was all he cared about.

 

I let Michael and Emmett talk, deciding to see why Marilyn has been hiding in her room. When I got to her door she opened it and went back to sitting at her vanity table.

 

“Still think I'm wrong including people?” I ask, sitting on the bed.

 

“You've always done things your way, so it's stupid of me to worry.” She tells me. 

 

“That's a change.” I tell her. 

 

“When fucking Angels tell me to butt out, I listen.” She tells me. 

 

“Why are they telling you to butt out?” I ask. 

 

“The same reason they talk to Justin in your timeline, they have faith in you. Which is never given lightly, so for once I'm going to help but not interfere.” She tells me. 

 

“Why were they talking to Justin?” I ask. 

 

“Because he questioned why every life with you had you both fighting to be together. They needed him to understand why.” She tells me. 

 

“It’s a question I ask myself. My life is different there, my parents are everything I used to dream they would be. Justin and I are building a life we wanted, without the bullshit that plagued me here. If it wasn’t for this crap, we'd be figuring out who to have Kira with. Instead we're fighting a fight that should have ended when we altered this timeline. I don't understand why Lindsay was allowed to do any of this, she was supposed to be in hell.” I tell him. 

 

“Do you want to know? It might be better for you to see. Although I'm not sure you're going to like what you see.” She tells me.

 

“Then tell me.” I tell her. 

 

“It's easier to show you. But before I do, understand that only you and Michael will see it. Everyone else won't, because they can't.” She tells me.

 

I followed her out of the room. Emmett and Michael were talking, and told us they'd rather stay here. Marilyn drove us to the girls house and parked a couple houses down.

 

“She'll be out in a second.” She tells me. 

 

The front door opens and Lindsay comes outside, it wasn’t until she reached the mailbox that I noticed anything. “What the hell?” I ask, staring at her.

 

“To everyone else, they see the face they know, in your case you see what's hidden under it.” She tells me. 

 

“There's nothing.” I tell him, staring at her. Her face was blurred as if she was out of focus.

 

“She's not really Lindsay anymore, she's a wraith. In order to be here she had to come back as she truly is. There is nothing left of the woman you once knew. You're not fighting Lindsay anymore, you're fighting against what hell made her.” He tells me. 

 

“What happens in the next life or the one after, do we keep doing this?” I ask. 

 

“No. If she fails it's really over this time. Unlike the Big Guy, his son doesn’t take to kindly to failure.” He tells me. 

 

“Why are you showing me this?” I ask. 

 

“Because you blame yourself for bringing Lindsay into your lives. That isn't Lindsay anymore, just an empty shell. It's not your fault the woman you once thought of as a friend turned out to be a vessel determined to have vengeance for Lindsay’s perceived wrongs.” She tells me. 

 

“I'm tired of it.” I admit.

 

“I know, but once you finish this, it's your life to live. Justin will be there at the end of this.” She tells me. 

 

The weight I was carrying lightened, because part of the way I was feeling was not having Justin with me. It's different than the last time, because I loved him before I met him again.

 

“He loved you enough to find his way back to you. Now it's time for you to find your way back to him.” She tells me, driving away.

 

“We still have Sierra, Gardner, and Ted’s crazy ex.” I tell him. 

 

“After you deal with Rita and Rickert, Gardner will likely run for the hills.” She tells me. 

 

“If he doesn't?” I ask. 

 

“It might be good for you to take a trip to help him see his error in taking on you and Justin. He believes what Lindsay was selling him, only she has nothing on you when it comes to selling anything.” She tells me. 

 

“It's time to get Carl with the program.” I tell him. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 32 by starlight

BRIAN 

 

Carl took a day to finally show back up. It wasn’t that he was afraid of taking down a dishonest cop, it was making sure the men he put on the assignment understood what agreeing to the takedown might do to each of their careers. In the past I was blind to anything but making sure Stockwell went down. It never entered my mind that Carl wasn’t worried about himself, but about the men he saw as his family. The other officers all agreed, because like Carl, they wanted to do the job they took an oath to do. Carl made sure to involve IA before proceeding, even he wasn’t sure what Stockwell would do. Emmett was taken in by IA to avoid the media, so at least this wouldn't affect him the way it would the others being paraded past the media. It was the one thing I insisted upon, because it wouldn't matter that Emmett was helping, just that the public saw him in the group of low lifes. 

 

With all their plotting to fuck up my life, you'd think they'd be masters at planning by now, but I guess Lindsay wasn’t looking for intelligence in her recruits, just sheep to lead to the slaughter. Michael and I were allowed to watch Emmett in the bar, where once again Emmett proved he wasn’t a silly queen. Hell, he was smarter than Michael and me, because he didn't approach anyone, just flirted with one of the hustlers at the bar. Rickert approached him with Rita, pretty much announcing to Emmett that if he wanted the kid, all transactions went through them. Carl nodded, they had enough, and the swat guys went in. It took several minutes to arrest everyone who'd already paid for the kids.

 

It was a day I enjoyed watching Stockwell. He was waiting out in front of the police station to parade the prisoners for his political benefit. Talking to the press about how this was a proud day for him, to get the pedophiles that are a blithe on our streets in a cell. He was grandstanding; letting them know that when he was a beat cop, he and his partner worked hard when it came to cleaning up the criminal elements, and today’s bust he felt showed their dedication to the citizens of Pittsburgh. 

 

It was no one's fault but his own that he looked like a jackass when he opened the squad car to haul out the two he described as the worst of society, for making children commit disgusting acts. He was never good at finding out the facts, just taking credit for them. I could see every cop blanch when he yanked Rickert out of the squad car, not even looking to see who it was. When the murmur of the press started, he stopped spouting about how he only worked with the finest and today proved it. I stood there as Stockwell stammered, then refused to answer any questions when the press went into a frenzy, recognizing Rickert. He could visualize his political aspirations gone, as the reporters gained momentum after figuring out the partner he spoke so proudly of was the very scum of the earth he had just preached about.

 

Carl went in, knowing Stockwell was going to make sure they all knew he wasn’t happy about being embarrassed in front of every reporter in Pittsburgh. It was one of the things that caused problems in his campaign; he relied on others to do everything, only showing up for the praise and recognition.

 

I looked at a lone figure standing away from the crowds, and wished for his life to not turn out the way it did in this timeline. Jason Kemp stumbled away, high as hell.

 

“He can't be saved.” Marilyn tells me. 

 

“Justin never got over it.” I tell her.

 

“He was given a chance at a better life, one where he had the things that were missing in this one. Something you should understand.” She tells me. 

 

“I'll raise a toast when I get back.” I tell her, hating that this wasn’t the end.

 

“We need to go, apparently you're on your way to rescue Emmett.” She tells me.

 

MICHAEL 

 

Brian and Marilyn left just in time to avoid bumping into Ted and this Brian showing up. I stayed behind, not wanting to sit at Marilyn’s, watching TV for the rest of the night. Brian stopped when he saw me about to leave.

 

“I thought you had to do inventory?” Ted asks. 

 

“I'm taking a break, I heard something big was going on down here.” I tell them.

 

“Did Emmett really get arrested?” Ted asked.

 

My natural tendency would be to tell them yes, but I stopped before I made a mistake. Brian rushing into the station would be a disaster, since this Brian didn’t have a clue what was going on. 

 

“Not that I saw. They paraded practically everyone who was arrested in front of the cameras. I think I would've noticed my roommate being arrested.” I tell them. 

 

“Are you sure, there were a lot of Queens spreading the rumor Emmett was at that bar tonight?” Brian questioned.

 

“Emmett isn’t into twinks, that would be you.” I said, trying to infuse jealousy I no longer felt in my words.

 

“Maybe we should check anyway.” Ted tells him. 

 

“It's a madhouse in there. The last thing any of us needs is to be seen trying to help someone being accused of the shit going on in there. Like I said, we'd be wasting our time, since Emmett wasn’t in the group of prisoners.” I tell them.

 

Now Brian practically foaming at the mouth to IA over Emmett not being brought in with the group of criminals made more sense.  I honestly didn't get why he kept insisting on it, but it was making it easier to get them to believe me.

 

“I can give you a lift to work if you need one.” Brian offers, walking away from the station.

 

“I think I'm going to call it a night, I twisted something in my back.” I tell him, because tomorrow they'd hear that was what happened.

 

“Tell Emmett to call me.” Ted says, walking to his car.

 

“How about we get a drink before I take you home?” Brian asks, looking at me as if something bothered him.

 

“Sure, I guess you managed to escape from adopt-a-trick tonight.” I joked.

 

“Not sure where he is tonight.” Brian shrugged, but seemed worried.

 

In truth, I didn’t know either, since Brian kept most of what he did with Justin hidden from all of us. We went to his loft instead of Woody’s. Brian checked his messages, seeming unhappy they were only Lindsay complaining that he needed to spend time with Gus. I hadn't seen Lindsay, but hearing what I'd see didn’t make me want to. I'd told Brian it was better she didn’t see us, because if I could see the real Lindsay, what were the chances she could see I wasn’t the Michael from here.

 

“Are they still on you to give up Gus?” I ask. 

 

“Mel more than Lindsay. Lindsay is actually giving Mel shit about her jealousy over me. I'm sure it’s chilly in the muncher bed tonight. They were arguing when I left, Lindsay tried to get me to side with her, saying that Mel shouldn't expect me to do something Mel isn’t willing to do for Gus.” He tells me, drinking straight from the bottle.

 

“What?” I ask. 

 

“It's weird Mikey, the whole time they were arguing that Mel should provide life insurance for Gus, in my head I kept thinking there was something wrong with the way things were playing out.” He tells me, drinking more.

 

“Like instead of Mel being expected to do it, they would be expecting it from you?” I ask, not liking this change.

 

“Yeah, not that they should have expected it from me, since I've been reminded constantly I'm not the father. Lately nothing's making sense.” He slurs.

 

“What else is bothering you?” I ask. 

 

“I met someone, yet he's nothing like Justin, but he’s Justin.” He tells me, confused and drunk.

 

“Give Justin a break, he's dealing with you acting like you don’t give a shit.” I said, forgetting that I wasn’t supposed to be on Justin's side.

 

“You're the one acting like you want him gone. Until tonight, why is that?” He asks.

 

It made me really see what kind of friend I was to Brian. Was it fair that he helped me with my relationships, yet only heard disapproval from me when he found someone who could love him? Ma and I were the only family he had, and my reaction to Justin had to be hard on him, when he tried to show Justin the real Brian. It drove it home in my head that with everything he didn’t have in this life, Brian became a different man. One willing to wait years for one man to be born, and loving him through it all. It wasn't going to do a lot for him, since he was still going to deal with this Michael, but for once he'd get something I owed to him for thinking I ever knew what was best for him.

 

“It's because I’ve always wanted the parts of you he gets.” I tell him. 

 

“I'll never want the things you do.” He tells me, trying to soften telling me it just wasn't me.

 

“I think with the right person you will. Why not give Justin the chance by not making him play games, when you love him.” I tell him, proud of myself for once. Which would have been nice if he hadn't passed out before hearing me.

 

The buzzer went off, and I let Justin in. He looked past me, to see Brian wheezing away. “If you want him, don't listen to what he says, but see what he gives you that no one ever got from him.” I tell Justin.

 

“Why are you being nice?” He asks, confused.

 

“I want him to be the man you bring out in him. Tomorrow I promise to make you feel like you're not good enough. Do me a favor, make sure you ignore anything but his actions, they'll tell you everything.” I tell him, letting him in as I walk out. 

 

On the sidewalk, I realized I wanted to get home. Brian was worried about us staying too long. Thinking about what Brian said about Lindsay, I realized we could be playing more than the game we knew. What was the purpose of siding with Brian, other than to piss of Mel? Why bother to do it when she had all these balls in play already?

 

The more I thought about, the more I didn’t like what felt like we were putting out small fires, but missing the raging one waiting to incinerate us. In truth, everything was too easy so far. I hurried back, because something about all of this made me think we weren’t seeing the bigger picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 33 by starlight

BRIAN

 

“It's too easy.” Michael mumbles as he comes into the loft.

 

“What?” I ask, as he paces around, stopping but shaking his head pacing again. When he seemed to figure out whatever it was, he sat in front of me.

 

“Think about it. Justin shows up, deals with Craig and Craig backs off. Rita and Rickert were practically begging to be caught.” He tells me.

 

“Okay, but I'm still not getting where this is going.” I tell him.

 

“Excuse the reference I'm about to make. With Rage, Justin was always drilling into my head that there had to be a reason why the Villain did something. We can say Lindsay is angry, vengeful, and any other thing we want, but even if she is… what's the point of this? Even if this timeline was allowed to play out, the end is Lindsay still being the loser. Every scenario they've tried reaches the same ending, because nothing changes that you and Justin seem to find each other. I'm starting to think the cast of villains were a distraction, keeping us busy. It's just been too easy.” He tells me.

 

“Why is it bothering you?” I ask.

 

“It's something Brian told me tonight. I get this isn't the Lindsay we know, but why change the way she operated with you and Mel? Instead of her and Mel ganging up on you for the life insurance and custody, she's all over Mel to do it. You… he… shit this is confusing. Lindsay isn’t playing you both off each other like she used to, instead she's taking a side, Brian’s. Which, why bother if she's been planning this whole thing with all these other people? The only thing I could come up with was that she was using all this other shit to keep us busy. I just can't figure out why.” He tells me.

 

“If we succeed, nothing she does would matter.” I tell him.

 

“If you don’t, then she's changing things from how they happen.” He tells me.

 

“Justin and I have already met, nothing she does now changes that.” I tell him.

 

“So like I said, why is she changing things?” He asks.

 

“In hopes to do better than the last time.” I tell him, and then remembered he wasn’t Justin. “When we did this again, Justin said he wanted to score better on his SATS. If he scored the same then it's like he never learned anything, and in essence was repeating what he'd already done. Using that theory, Lindsay could be trying to change things, because by not, she repeats the same life.” I tell him.

 

“You and Justin already met, how does alienating Mel matter?” He asks.

 

“As a reason for her to depend on Brian.” Marilyn says coming in.

 

“Okay, but why would that matter, when she and Mel broke up, Justin and Brian were still together.” Michael tells us.

 

“Without Mel who did she go to?” I ask.

 

“You.” Michael answers.

 

“Who isn't sure what Justin means to him, but would do anything for Gus.” Marilyn tells us.

 

If she convinced this Brian that keeping Justin around wasn’t the best for Gus, then it changes this timeline.” Michael tells us.

 

“Fuck. She's trying to make it so Justin is out of my life. In this timeline, if that happens, Justin and I won't be born in another timeline.” I tell him.

 

“What?” Michael asks.

 

“We got to try again because Justin was never supposed to get on that plane. If we aren't together, what happens to him at prom?” I ask Michael.

 

“Hobbs gets tried for murder, because you weren't there.” Michael says, looking horrified. “But we could stay and keep Justin safe.” Michael tells me.

 

“Not if Lindsay still has Craig in her pocket.” I tell him.

 

“I'm not following.” Michael tells me.

 

“Justin might be at the age of consent, but he's still a minor. With what happened at the bar, Stockwell will be happy to get another pervert off the street. Dear sweet Lindsay has the perfect weapon, that we gave her, to convince Brian to get Justin out of my life.” I tell him.

 

“Like I said, we can still save him.” Michael tells me.

 

“Not if Craig slaps a restraining order on Brian. Then he willingly leaves Justin to die, but dead to Craig was better than gay.” I tell him.

 

“If that's even what she's doing. Lindsay was always coming up with shit, but it never got her what she wanted. It's one of the things that drove her insane the first time, that he got everything that she never could.” Michael tells me.

 

“I need to see Justin, my Justin. It feels like if we stay here too long we can't get back.” I tell him.

 

“If we go back, and she changes something, how will we know? I want to meet Connor, but she could make it so it doesn't happen if this timeline continues.” Michael tells us, worried.

 

“We can't keep running around trying to avoid ourselves. It's gives Lindsay the advantage. We can deal with this in the morning, since we're stuck here.” I tell them, getting up and going to bed.

 

In the shower I allowed myself to show my frustration that Lindsay was possibly running us in circles. It really didn’t make sense that everything was as easy as it had been. In truth, none of this made any sense, until tonight. Even if this timeline played out the way Lindsay wanted, it didn’t change where she ended up. Justin would still end up in heaven, because Justin down to his soul was one of the greatest men I ever met. He made me want to be more than the Stud, and helped me see love wasn’t a myth people told themselves. Before the bombing, I remember Lindsay chastising me every time I did something to upset Justin, but then, she also knew how to play on my insecurities when it came to Justin. It was likely fun for her, to watch me doing exactly what she knew I would do, push Justin away instead of admitting I needed him. But what was the endgame here? It’s where I’m stumped, because even if Justin was gone, it wasn’t going to get her the house and the 2.5 kids she dreamed of with me. I wasn’t Bi anything, just straight up gay, and that wasn’t something that she could find a way around.

 

After getting nowhere with those thoughts, I just wanted oblivion from it all. Sleep for once came easier, because at least in my dreams he was there. Only it seems this dream wasn’t going to be me taking comfort in Justin, even though it was only in my sleep. I looked around at Babylon, it was the Babylon after the bomb.

 

“Hello Brian, it’s time to make sure this ends. Trust me, we aren’t any happier than you that you and Justin are still dealing with this.” A guy says, standing behind the bar.

 

“Who is we?” I ask.

 

“The ones who were ordered to intervene if Lindsay succeeds. I’m Gabriel, behind you is Michael.” He tells me, as Michael comes to the bar.

 

“Why not intervene now?” I ask.

 

“Because in this timeline we already did, by sending Michael to stop you from killing yourself. If you had succeeded it wouldn’t have mattered that you didn’t intend to kill yourself, just that you did, and Lindsay would have gladly joined you in hell. Which is what she’s planning. She can’t escape her fate, but she also knows that she can bring you with her.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“This is to get me into hell?” I ask.

 

“Where you will eternally be hers, it’s the promise Lucifer gave her.” Michael tells me.

 

“So she’s hoping this time I kill myself?” I ask him.

 

“It’s not something Lucifer will accept, since technically you didn’t actually mean to die, just well...” He says, staring at me.

 

“Get off. It’s not like we don’t know what I was doing.” I tell them.

 

“She had to get you to continue the life you were perfecting before Justin came into it.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“She could have done this without us knowing about it.” I tell him.

 

“She didn’t know when she tried to change things each time, that it would pull you back, with the knowledge you have. When it didn’t work, she tried it with Justin and Emmett, who don’t get the advantage you do.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“Why does Justin always come back not knowing anything?” I ask.

 

“You're asking the wrong question.” Michael tells me.

 

“Why do I get to know everything?” I ask.

 

“Normally no one gets to come back knowing there were other lives. In your case, it was what happened in this timeline. You didn’t use the knowledge you had for anything other than to make sure you got the life you and Justin were going to have. There was no reason to take it back from you.” He tells me.

 

“Why did you two bring me here?” I ask.

 

“The same reason Uriel went to visit Justin. So you know when this ends, there will not be another life Lindsay will be included in. We also brought you here because this separation isn’t any easier on Justin.” They tell me disappearing.

 

“Brian?” My Justin says, looking confused.

 

Babylon changed around us, instead we were standing on the dance floor lit up, glitter falling around us. Justin and I met in the middle, not surprised to hear the song that changed our life.

 

“I miss you.” I tell him, not dancing, just holding him.

 

I woke up alone, not at Marilyn's place, but home. Jenny was squirming beside me, about to wake up. I picked up one of my princesses and took her with me to figure out why I was home when I should be trying to stop Lindsay. Justin was in the kitchen, cooking with Gus, but when he turned, it wasn’t my Justin standing there.

 

Michael was sitting there looking just as confused, and when he started talking, it wasn’t the new improved Michael, but Mikey.

 

“When did you buy a house and why is adopt-a-trick here?” Mikey asks.

 

“Dude get over it, he wants me not you.” Justin tells him, snickering before looking at me. “Hate to sound like him, but how did Gus go from newborn to three, and who’s that?” Justin asks looking at Jenny.

 

I left the room looking to find my Justin, but stopped when the someone knocked on the door.

 

“What the hell is going on?” I ask Marty.

 

“They sent Justin to help Michael, they needed you here because someone has to stay with them.” Marty tells me.

 

“Why not freeze them here?” I ask.

 

“So you can start taking care of the life that’s waiting. That’s all I was told.” He tells me.

 

“Kira, Dada.” Gus tell me.

 

“Does Justin at least know what’s going on?” I ask.

 

“About that, we need to find a way to send Emmett back, because two of them is really not all fun and games.” He tells me, dragging in Emmett.

 

“Um, so like did Anita slip me some shit?” Emmett asks.

 

“If she did she slipped it to me and the twink too.” Mikey tells him.

 

“I’m in hell.” I muttered.

 

“This one is going back after you talk to him and figure out the beginning with Emmett.” Marty tells me.

 

“Use me and toss me back, in other words.” Emmett tells me.

 

“Emmett, you're the only one that is open minded!” Is yelled through the door.

 

“Why are you outside?” I yell back at apparently Emmett 2.0.

 

“Apparently when we accidently touched, we sort of caused a blackout.” He yells back.

 

“Not fun, like I said. So let's get Emmett up to speed and keep the power grid from collapsing.” Marty tells me.






Chapter 34 by starlight

BRIAN

 

“Emmett come inside, just don't touch yourself.” I tell him, glaring at Justin snickering. “Justin in the living room, Mikey hold Jenny.” I tell them, as Mikey looked like I asked him to hold a bomb. “Emmett get the fuck in here.” I tell him when he stands outside the door.

 

“One thing that hasn't changed is he’s bossy in my time too.” Emmett 1.0 says.

 

“It's why he's successful in every life.” Emmett 2.0 tells him.

 

“Um, could someone explain to me where the hell we are?” Mikey asked, trying to get Justin to take Jenny.

 

“Marty, you want to tell us?” I ask.

 

“In order for us to not have a reboot none of us want, you can’t be there. Neither can Justin or Michael, if the other two are going to be able to pull this off. They knew you wouldn’t come back knowing that Justin was going to be in the line of fire.” He tells me.

 

“You don’t see a problem with this Justin and Michael knowing what’s going on?” Emmett 2.0 asks.

 

“When they get back hopefully it won’t matter anymore, otherwise it really doesn’t matter which timeline they're in, because let’s just say think of Noah.” Marty tells us.

 

“In other words I get to babysit while Justin could get hurt.” I tell him.

 

“This is really weird, I mean, there are two of Emmett, you guys are going all apocalypse on us, and Brian acts like he gives a shit about me.” Justin tells us, smirking at Michael’s sour look at the last part.

 

“Justin, leave Mikey alone, and yes I more than give a shit about you.” I tell him, almost kissing him, but for some reason stop, like Michael said, this is confusing as shit. “Emmett we need to figure out what is the beginning of us.” I say, without remembering there were two.

 

“Um, me or him?” Emmett 1.0 asks.

 

“It could be a couple things. but the one that stands out the most is the night you stopped me from letting Ted drag me down with him. It was the moment I knew, as Baby says, you gave a shit.” Emmett 2.0 tells me.

 

“When did Ted do that?” Mikey asks.

 

“When we thought we should date.” Emmett 2.0 tells him.

 

“I date Teddy, why would I date Teddy?” Emmett 1.0 asks.

 

“Really, Ted?” Mikey asks.

 

“I don’t really know him that well, but he isn’t like a troll, so yeah, I could see it.” Justin chimes in.

 

“Just sort of well, not exciting.” Mikey adds.

 

“Which doesn’t matter because it won’t happen if Justin and Michael can’t fix this bullshit. In order to do that I need Emmett 1.0 up to speed. Which means Emmett 2.0 needs to stay here and babysit.” I tell them, dragging Emmett 1.0 out the door. Having to stop the Emmetts from once again trying to touch each other.

 

“Sorry, it’s like a big button you're told not to push, but you do it because you just can’t resist.” Emmett says to Justin and Mikey.

 

“You know, there were days in this life where Justin actually got on my nerves, but nothing in comparison to Mikey of old.” Marty tells me.

 

“So what was Emmett 2.0 talking about?” Emmett asks me, giggling at my way of trying to deal with having two of them in a room.

 

“In the timeline that is playing out right now, Ted gets involved with crystal, and you think it’s supporting Ted if you let him drug your ass. Justin and I found you in Babylon ready to fuck up your life by joining Ted in his crystal nightmare. I stopped you, because in the end I couldn’t save Ted, but you I could. When we change the timeline, it’s not something you and Ted do.” I tell him.

 

“It’s really weird you know, this version of you.” He tells me.

 

“It’s what happens when abuse isn’t a daily thing growing up. Which like I said, wasn’t important. What is important is that you tell Justin exactly what is going on. Lindsay can’t change where she is going to end up, so she wants to make sure I get to be there with her for eternity.” I tell him.

 

“She’s trying to take you to hell?” Marty asks.

 

“Sweet innocent Lindsay?” Emmett says, like he couldn’t understand.

 

“She’s really not anything she gets you to believe she is, but yes, exactly. She blindsided us, by using the list of people she tricked us into believing was her real plan. Michael ended up figuring out something was wrong because nothing we knew about was really hard to fix. Justin doesn’t need to worry about the rest of the play list, it doesn’t matter. He needs to figure out how to break down my walls faster, any way he needs to, tell him that.” I tell him, still not liking what that would imply, and yes, I’m jealous of myself.

 

“Both Brian’s and Justin’s are you and Justin, just a different timeline.” Marty tells me.

 

“I get that, but we also know what I was like with Justin, and the games I played, taking Justin with me. Sorry, but the idea of anyone but me fucking Justin makes me want to fucking kick my own ass now.” I tell him, as we pull up to a closed Babylon.

 

“How do we get in?” Emmett asks.

 

The door opens and Todd sticks his head out the door. “Come on, we need to make sure Justin and Michael know what’s going on.” He tells us.

 

“Todd?” I ask.

 

“Todd, Uriel, depends on the day and my mood.” He tells us.

 

We follow him in and I start to worry we could be breaking too many rules. As much as I want this over with, I also want it to end without divine intervention screwing us.

 

“All I did was unlock the door, I even have a key.” Todd tells me.

 

“What now?” Emmett asks.

 

“We dance.” I tell him.

 

JUSTIN

 

Waking up to see Brian next to me, at first was great, until I realized it wasn't my Brian. He was still sleeping, so I slid off the bed and grabbed my things. Then needed to hurry before he woke up, because it feels wrong, even when he's Brian. Sneaking past him to the bathroom, I looked at myself, not sure I could pass for seventeen. I jumped when Brian walked past me, turning on the shower.

 

“You need a lift to school?” He asks, while I try to look everywhere but at him.

 

“It's early enough, so I'll just catch a bus.” I tell him, running out to get the hell out of here.

 

I stopped almost at the door, trying to figure out where to go. It was confusing as hell, waking up in the wrong bed, not knowing what was going on. The loft door slid open and ‘what the hell’ was all I could think, looking at Lindsay bringing Gus in.

 

“Shouldn't you be at school?” She asks, but it wasn’t easy answering her when there was no face.

 

“What are you doing here?” Brian asks, coming down with just his pants on.

 

“Mel and I started fighting after you left. I don’t know what to do. Brian she implied… I don’t even want to say it.” She says, walking into the kitchen, looking through cabinets.

 

It was easier to deal with her when I didn’t have to look at her face, but what was she up to? After Brian and I held each other it was like the day with Todd, everything blacked out again. I was starting to hate this shit, especially not understanding what I was seeing.

 

“What did she say?” Brian asked, picking up Gus, who Lindsay just left in the middle of the loft in his car seat.

 

The door flew open and Michael and Emmett came through, out of breath. Lindsay’s head turned in their direction and I was glad to watch Michael’s spooked expression.

 

“Hey, we came to see if you wanted breakfast.” Emmett says, not seeming to have a problem looking at Lindsay.

 

“If not it’s cool, we could just take Justin. Ma said to feed Sunshine.” Michael says, grabbing my arm to pull me out the door.

 

Brian looked at Michael’s hand on me, and then really looked at me. “I’m taking Justin to school, so wait for me to find out what Lindsay wants.” Brian tells Michael, pulling me towards him as Michael tightened his grip on my arm.

 

“I can take Justin to school, since it will keep you from being late.” Michael tells him, yanking me towards him.

 

“I SAID, I’ll take him.” Brian practically growls, yanking me hard enough that I end up falling into him.

 

“Let Michael do it, I need you to stay and help me figure out what I’m going to do. I don’t think I can stay with Mel, she made it sound like you should be in jail with those people who got arrested the other night.” She tells Brian.

 

“For what?” Brian asked.

 

She waved her hand at me. “Brian, there were kids Justin’s age, that those men not much older than you were buying. If Mel wanted to, she could whisper in the right ear about this situation. Are you really willing to risk your career and Gus over whatever you're doing with Justin?” Lindsay asks him.

 

Michael latched on to me when Brian let me go, which stopped me from going towards Lindsay. Brian put Gus in my arms and took Lindsay to the bedroom to talk. We could hear them whispering but not what they were saying. I turned to Michael in hopes that he could fill in some of the blanks.

 

“We need to go, there’s a lot you don’t know yet.” Michael whispers to me.

 

“What’s going on with her face?” I ask.

 

“I’m just glad that whatever it is, I can’t see what you two are seeing.” Emmett whispers to me.

 

“We need to get out of here, because we don’t know if she can tell we aren’t who we’re supposed to be. I’m having a hard time acting in love with Brian, which even he’s noticing.” Michael tells me.

 

“We can’t take Gus with us.” I tell him.

 

“I’ll stick around. Just go before Brian comes back and uses you to play tug-of-war with Michael again. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep Brian from going to hell.” Emmett tells us, taking Gus.

 

Michael and I were out the door before Brian and Lindsay came out. Michael turned us into an alley before stopping.

 

“Tell me Emmett was kidding about the hell thing.” I tell him.

 

“I wish I could, Emmett got sent to our time and Brian sent him back so we’d know what was going on. Everything that was going on was too easy, think about it. You come back and your dad immediately backs off. We barely had to do anything to get Rickert and Rita busted. Then this Brian and I were talking and I couldn’t figure out why Lindsay was changing everything if her only goal was to split you and Brian up. Plus when you think about it, what would be the point, when if the future plays out, you’d be gone anyway, and Lindsay still didn’t get what she wanted.” He tells me.

 

“Why does she think Brian would end up in hell with her?” I ask.

 

“If Brian doesn’t change his life, the life he was living with you is like catnip for the Big Guy from down under.” He tells me.

 

“Okay, but can you explain the face?” I ask, still creeped out by it.

 

“Apparently only you and I can see it, but it has something to do with her being a wraith.” He tells me.

 

“She died with darkness surrounding her, so it makes sense. At least that’s all she is.” I tell him.

 

“That’s not bad enough for you?” He asks.

 

“Michael, I’ve met fucking arch angels, so a whining bag of wind, not really the worst we could be dealing with.” I tell him.

 

“Justin that whining bag of wind is someone that can get people to do stupid shit. Remember why this timeline was changed?” He tells me.

 

We both looked at the street when we heard a car braking hard and reversing.

 

“Get in the fucking car, you and I need to talk, both of you.” Brian tells me and Michael.

 

We came out of the alley and everything stopped, and the silence was back. Michael was staring at the car that was driving by, frozen in place. He walked to the jeep and waved his hands in front of Brian, frozen with a scowl on his face.

 

“Justin?” He asks.

 

“Free will, you can’t tell him everything, by doing that you mess with free will.” We hear from behind us, before everything starts again.

 

“Get in!” Brian orders us, and speeds away from his loft.



 







Chapter 35 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Michael got in the backseat, and for the first time, I wish he’d fought to sit up front. Brian took off the minute the door closed, staring at both of us. He drove us straight to the diner and got out, not saying a word. I turned to say something to Michael, when my door was pulled open and Brian pulled me out of the Jeep. Michael followed us in. We got to the booth, and not really thinking, I sat next to Michael, then saw Brian’s almost homicidal look at Michael. I was really getting pissed about being yanked around at this point, but sat next to Brian instead of possibly getting Michael killed. This wasn’t making sense, because at this point, Michael was the one Brian went all caveman over, at least in public. 

 

Deb came over and kissed Michael’s head and put food in front of him. Then she asked what I wanted and told Brian he didn’t need to hold me down to keep me here. Brian looked puzzled that he had practically anchored me next to him and let me go. A guy walked by, flirting with him, but Brian ignored him instead of taking off to the bathroom for the blow job the guy was offering, practically spelling it out in bold by licking his lips. Michael looked at me, just as confused as I was about the whole Brian ignoring a blow job at this point. 

 

“What happened with Lindsay?” Michael asks.

 

“I’m more interested in why, when I got done talking to her, you had taken off with Justin.” Brian asked, glaring at him.

 

“Brian, what happened with Lindsay?” I asked, hoping to get Brian’s attention away from Michael.

 

“The usual drama she and Mel live for, nothing that won't blow over.” He tells me.

 

“It sounds more like she thinks you and Boy Wonder shouldn't be seeing each other.” Michael tells him. 

 

“Who?” Brian asks. 

 

Michael looked at me, realizing the nickname was something he did later. “Justin. It sounds like she thinks you'll be lumped in with the guys who were arrested the other night if you keep him around.” He tells Brian.

 

“When did you start calling him pet names?” Brian asks, almost sounding jealous.

 

“I guess I picked it up from Aunt… Ma. What was Lindsay’s problem?” Michael asks. 

 

“Hey, you took off without me.” Emmett says, coming to the table with Ted.

 

“She wants me to help her find a place for her and Gus to live.” Brian tells us, ignoring Emmett. 

 

“That's not all she said.” Emmett tells him. 

 

“She was making a big deal over nothing.” Brian tells him. 

 

“Since he won't tell you, I will. She said it would be better for Brian if he ended things with Baby here.” Emmett tells us. 

 

“There's nothing to end. We fuck.” Brian tells him, getting out and nodding at the guy from earlier to meet him in the bathroom.

 

“This shit is messing with my head.” I whisper when Brian was gone.

 

“Did you notice how he was acting?” Michael asks. 

 

“Like he didn’t like you and I near each other? Yeah I noticed. It was how he acted when you and I did Rage together. Which if you think about it, made sense, because until then you and I barely tolerated each other.” I tell him. 

 

“Yet he makes it sound like you and he are more than fuck buddies, and then off he goes to prove it wrong. Lindsay kept implying you and Brian were in a relationship, and then went on and on about how she never thought Brian would settle down with anyone. Which of course had him denying there was anything going on with Justin. She even said it would look better if she and Brian got a house together, then anything Mel tried to imply would come off as her being a jealous ex. According to Lindsay, they could protect Gus by acting as if they had a normal relationship, while Brian would be free to be Brian. She told him she wouldn't expect anything from him and he could use the loft instead of their house to hook up. I think we are dealing with more than an eternity in hell.” Emmett tells us, as Ted looks at all of us strangely.

 

“Brian wouldn’t do it, he doesn't believe in hiding who he is for anyone.” Michael tells us. 

 

“If she can convince him it's for Gus, then he'd do it. He did when she and Mel came to him to get Gus into some preschool. She's had time to figure out the things that work on Brian, and the things that didn’t. She was never stupid, just tended to plan without seeing all the variables. Which with as much time as she's had, makes this a different game.” I tell them.

 

“Hopefully she doesn't figure out the pieces have changed since the last time.” Michael tells me. 

 

“What the hell are you guys talking about?” Ted asks.

 

“I’ll fill you in, since no one told me I can’t. Until then, just pretend we’re discussing Michael’s comics.” Emmett tells Ted.

 

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Michael asks Emmett.

 

“Well, I get the feeling it won’t matter if Lindsay wins. Marty made it sound like the whole end of days.” He tells us.

 

“Which reminds me, we need to corner Todd. Apparently we were never alone during all of this.” I tell them.

 

“I found that one kind of nice, it just proves all the religious fanatics are full of shit.” Emmett giggles.

 

“We need to get out of here while Brian is busy. If we don’t want to clue Lindsay in, than we need to do the things we normally did, which means I’m stuck in school.” I groan.

 

Everyone agrees that it would be better to get out, because everyone around is watching Michael and I talking as if we get along. We were always taking swipes at each other, so the bored Queens looking for gossip were watching every move we made. Ted agreed to drive us where we needed to go, liking that Michael didn’t even protest at leaving Brian behind. I was excited to see Daphne. Our friendship was different in the new timeline because of the way I grew up. I didn’t get close to people, and my best friend was a thirteen year old punk. It was a bigger difference between Brian and me, I held people at a distance while Brian opened his life to people. 

 

“Before you get to school, there's something you need to know. Daphne’s been keeping Hunter with her. I’ve been keeping her away from Brian, since he doesn’t have any idea about the reason Hunter was with her. I’m just glad she hasn’t shown up to get answers. Marilyn is willing to let Hunter stay with her, but he really needs a place more permanent.” Michael tells me.

 

“Deb would take him in, at least until we can get this timeline back to where it’s suppose to be.” I tell him.

 

“What about you?” Michael asks.

 

“I can take care of myself, like Lindsay, I know exactly how to play my father.” I tell him.

 

“You don’t think he’s going to figure out you’re not the right one? Kira showed up because Craig was thinking of how to eliminate you from the game.” Michael tells me.

 

“I also know my father’s secrets, which means he has more to lose if he fucks with me. Plus, I can give him what he really gives a shit about. Money.” I tell him.

 

“What do you mean?” Ted asks, interested.

 

“My father took my trust when he kicked me out, something that I never knew existed. The last time you helped my mother get it out from under my father. This time he can have it. Mom ended up using the money for a scholarship for LGBT teens who needed help when their parents kicked them out. Which you turned into a shit load more than it started as.” I tell him.

 

“Your father kicked you out? Wait, why do you keep saying things like they already happened? I don’t even know your mother.” Ted tells me.

 

“Where exactly are we right now?” I ask Michael.

 

“On the way to get you to school.” Ted tells me.

 

“Mel and Lindsay were supposed to have a party, but the invitations didn’t go out. That’s changed. And Blake is supposed to meet Ted, but it didn’t happen. Although Marilyn said we could avoid that if we wanted to. I was here for almost a month before you came back and Emmett and Justin disappeared the minute you am this Emmett showed up. David’s been asking me out, but I just don’t see the point in dating him when we both know I never really fit in with him.” Michael tells me.

 

“Michael, David will keep Lindsay from getting suspicious of us. You can’t change what she expects to happen. Just like we need to get Blake to meet Ted, because we can’t change too much.” I tell him.

 

“Shit, that’s why we worked so well together on Rage.” Michael tells me.

 

“Who is… you know what, I don’t need to know.” Ted tells us.

 

“GHB isn’t going to enhance anything, it’s just going to put you in a coma. Do me a favor and don’t make me buy you a fucking chicken when we managed to avoid it already.” Michael tells him.

 

“Okay, hopefully that will make sense, because right now I feel like I woke up in the wrong universe. When did you stop looking at Brian like he was the answer to your dreams?” Ted asks Michael.

 

“The day he came along.” Michael smiles at me.

 

We pulled up to the school and Michael handed me my clothes for school. “I got Daphne to get them for you, no need to let the assholes here give you a harder time than they already do. I’ll talk to Aunt… Ma and convince her to let Hunter stay with her. Although I have to say, Daphne’s parents didn’t bat an eyelash at Hunter being there when they figured it out.” Michael tells me.

 

“Aww, you and Daphne finally figured out a way to be friends.” I tease.

 

“She helped Hunter, which means I love her for doing what I didn’t.” He tells me.

 

“I always thought Ben cared more, but it’s like he ignored Hunter instead of helping him.” I tell him, changing into my school clothes.

 

“I think it’s more that Hunter didn’t ever doubt the reason Jen wanted him. Ben and I just jumped into being parents when neither of us knew what we were doing. Don’t judge Ben too much, because I agree with him that Hunter needed someone like Jen to help him. It’s why I wish she was ready now for Hunter, because Ma’s great, but she smothers too much.” Michael tells me.

 

“Hunter doesn’t need to be near my sperm donor. Just talk to Vic about not letting Deb make Hunter run. Vic can raise his father.” I joke, running out to meet Daphne.

 

MICHAEL

 

I called into work, because I honestly couldn’t play the hetero part my insecurities of the past made me play. Emmett and I stayed at our apartment, telling Ted everything. I kept thinking it could be a mistake, because of the free will thing. Only Ted being in a coma didn’t do anything other than Ted almost dying. Well, that and me figuring out that Ted wanted me the way I wanted Brian. Ted called Mel to ask her if everything with Lindsay was going okay, which only caused more confusion when Mel asked why he thought there was a problem. Ted asked her if we could come to her office.

 

“Why do you think Lindsay and I are having problems?” Mel asks.

 

“She told Brian that you didn’t like him and Justin together.” I tell her.

 

“Of course I don’t, but only because Justin doesn’t need Brian treating him like a fuck toy. Justin’s a smart kid, but Brian tends to get men to think with the wrong head. Lindsay and I were talking about it last night and we thought it would be good to introduce Justin to other younger guys. In fact we were going to see if Justin wanted to go to PIFA, and help him by showing him he needs to think of his future.” She tells us.

 

“Why PIFA?” I ask.

 

“Lindsay made a friend who she thinks Justin would like to meet.” Mel tells us.

 

“Ethan Gold?” I ask.

 

“You know him?” Mel asks.

 

“I met him, but when did you and Lindsay?” I ask.

 

“We went to see him play at a concert at PIFA.” Mel tells me.

 

“He and Lindsay became friends?” I ask.

 

“They’re friendly, I wouldn’t say friends. She invited him to dinner with us after the concert and seems to want to help him.” She tells us.

 

“He jumped at the chance?” I ask.

 

“I think at first he didn’t really want anything to do with her. Which now that I think about it, was strange, because she started playing into his ego, and saying he didn’t want to spend his life playing on the streets when she could help him by introducing him to the right people.” Mel tells us.

 

“The right people?” Emmett asks.

 

“Other than her parents, maybe other professors that she knew. I’m not really sure.” Mel tells him.

 

We left when Mel told us she had a client waiting, deciding not to tell her about what Lindsay was up to. Ted took us back to the apartment and took off late for work himself. I paced, trying to figure out what she was trying to do with Ethan, because the last thing I needed was for us to be distracted the way we were before. It would help if Justin was here, and thought we should talk about him staying with Emmett and me. 

 

“You really think that’s a good idea?” Emmett asks.

 

“If Ma takes in Hunter, than Justin will need a place to stay. Staying with Brian wouldn’t work, plus I kind of want to see what happens when Brian’s place gets robbed and Justin isn’t there to take the blame. Hopefully we won’t be here that long, but it’s possible.” I tell him.

 

“Why do you think that?” He asks me.

 

“Brian fought letting Justin mean more to him for almost two years. He used the robbery as a reason to kick Justin out, never really finding out what happened, blaming Justin. I think Brian needs to see Justin has a life that might not include him, if he wants to dick him around.” I tell him.

 

“Other than running off with the trick at the diner, he seemed to be pissed that you took off with Justin.” Emmett tells me.

 

“Interesting. Maybe we could use that to keep Lindsay off balance.” I tell him.

 

“What about David? Justin had a good point.” He tells me.

 

“I guess I’m going to learn how to juggle the way Justin did, with two jobs, a comic, and Brian’s never ending demands of his time. Boy Wonder was always three steps ahead, it’s time for me to catch up.” I tell him.

 

 

 

Chapter 36 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Daphne was standing outside waiting for me when school was over. I’d been late getting here and we basically just waved to each other on our way to our classes, which was all kinds of fun for me. I went to two classrooms before remembering the right one. I got to Dickhead Dixon’s class, and call me a smartass, but I raised my hand and told him he got the answer wrong on the board after he finish writing out the problem. He didn’t jump my shit, but pretended that he was seeing if we were paying attention. Then erased the problem and volunteered me to do the next one, I could see he was hoping that I would screw it up, which I didn’t, and was given a half hearted ‘good job’, while he told everyone that it was obvious that his tutelage was working.

 

Before I could get to Daphne, Brian pulled up, waiting at the curb. I really didn’t remember him picking me up after school unless I called him, so I wasn’t sure why he was here. I ran to Daphne first, and explained that Michael was planning to find Hunter a place to go. Then I ran to Brian’s Jeep, telling Daphne I’d call her and we could go to Deb’s together.

 

I could tell Brian was irritated the minute I got in the car. He didn’t drive me home, to his loft, or even the diner. Instead he just kept driving, as if he had no destination in mind. He finally stopped at the park where he would usually come to meet Lindsay and Gus.

 

“Is there some reason we’re here?” I ask.

 

“I wanted to talk to you without you disappearing with my best friend.” He tells me.

 

“I had to get to school, so waiting around for you wasn’t my priority. I don’t see why that’s a problem for you. Like you said, we fuck, no explanations or excuses.” I tell him.

 

“Until recently you and Michael couldn’t be in the same room together, now you’re suddenly friends?” He asks.

 

“Again, why does that bother you?” I ask.

 

“It doesn’t, but if you think it’s going to change anything between us, because you and Michael can get along, it won’t. Like I told you, I don’t do love or relationships.” He tells me.

 

“Are you telling me or you? Because we’ve covered this ground before. Brian Kinney will never love me or want anything more than to fuck me, anything else you need to add?” I ask, getting pissed about reliving this shit again.

 

“Lindsay asked me to talk to you. Which I had planned to do while driving you to school.” He tells me.

 

“Let me guess, she thinks we shouldn’t be around each other?” I ask him.

 

“She also thinks that you need to go back to your world, which means you don’t need to be around my friends.” He tells me.

 

“No problem. Have a good life.” I tell him, walking off as he walks to Lindsay, who hands him Gus and wraps her arm around him as if they were a couple.

 

I called Michael to find out where he was, and he told me to stay at the park after I told him what was going on. I sat on the bench leading to the exit to wait for him. Brian kept glancing in my direction while Lindsay constantly called him to pay attention to her. Shit, this wasn’t good, but then, I keep forgetting this version of Brian.

 

Michael showed up with a picnic basket and blanket. I wasn’t sure what the hell he was doing, but I followed him to the other side of the park. He made a big production of spreading out the blanket and then for some reason helped me to sit down with him.

 

“What are you doing?” I ask him, not understanding why he was acting this way.

 

“I’m hungry and I know you are too, plus Lindsay can do whatever she wants, but there’s one thing she forgot in her planning.” He tells me, handing me a sandwich.

 

“What?” I ask.

 

“Brian might have lived in the land of denial in the beginning, but you were the one who got him to do all kinds of things none of us ever believed he would. She wants to play family, only for some reason she doesn’t remember the one person Brian ran after, which wasn’t her.” He smirks.

 

“You really think he’s going to care that we’re sitting here together.” I tell him.

 

“Maybe not, but he’ll care about this.” He tells me, and tackles me to the ground. He didn’t kiss me, which I’m sure we were both trying to avoid.

 

It took close to a minute for Brian to reach us, and I ended up having to jump in front of Michael. Was there some cosmic thing, like me hitting my head, where Michael was going to come out of this with a black eye in every life?

 

“What’s your problem, I thought you wanted me gone?” I ask Brian, who ignores me.

 

“Why are you fucking touching him?” Brian asks Michael, pushing me out of the way.

 

“Brian, you’re causing people to stare.” Lindsay admonishes.

 

I turned to see Gus sitting in a swing by himself and walked off to get him. Brian stood glaring at Michael, with Lindsay jerking his arm. He turned in time to realize that Lindsay had left Gus alone. He turned the glare on her, before following me to get Gus. I stopped when he passed me, watching him get Gus and hold on to him.

 

“It would really be better if you weren’t around anymore. Brian has more important things in his life.” She tells me, and for a minute the swirling face stopped and fixed on a face of pure evil.

 

“The game is just beginning. Take cover while you can. I’ve never lost to you, and I won’t this time either.” I tell her.

 

“So, you’ve decided to play. I really thought something was wrong with only Michael here. That wouldn’t have been any fun.” She whispers, running to Brian.

 

Lindsay said something to Brian, and he looked at me in a way he had never done in all the years and lives we’ve lived. The look I got was one where I no longer existed to him. I watched as he walked off with Lindsay, not looking back at me.

 

“Shit, she knows.” Michael tells me.

 

“She also won this round.” I tell him.

 

“Then we win the next one.” He tells me.

 

“And I know exactly how, time to teach you to dance.” I tell him.

 

MICHAEL

 

Brian showed up at Babylon alone, and he ignored Justin when he saw him. Justin didn’t even try to get his attention. I wanted to know what caused him to look at Justin the way he did today. I walked over, grabbing the beer he ordered for me.

 

“Wanna dance?” Brian asks.

 

“I promised someone else. What’s going on with Lindsay, up till now she was all for Justin?” I ask.

 

“I don’t want to hear his name.” He tells me, taking a couple shots.

 

“Okay, but what did he do, other than what you asked? Which he’s still doing right now.” I tell him, waving at Justin dancing with two guys.

 

“The little fucker told Lindsay that him being around wasn’t the problem. Then said that she should be more worried about what I was capable of, since my answer was to use my fists, like my father.” He tells me.

 

I thought about when Justin knew anything about Jack Kinney, and knew Brian wouldn’t have told Justin anything at this point in time. Which means Lindsay had made her first mistake.

 

“You told Justin about your father?” I ask.

 

“Why would I tell a trick anything?” He asks, sarcastically.

 

“Then how would Justin know anything about Jack? Or maybe the better question is, why did Lindsay lie to you?” I ask him.

 

“Why are you defending the twink who wouldn’t leave?” He asks, ignoring anything that would have him questioning Lindsay.

 

“He doesn’t want you.” Brian warns me.

 

Justin smiles at me and I walk over to him, leaving Brian standing there. Justin wrapped his arm around me and moved me with the beat. I have to admit, he could move, and I was reacting to Justin’s own power over men. Emmett and Ted were standing at the bar, looking back and forth between us and Brian.

 

“Follow me.” Justin whispers.

 

Justin looked over his shoulder at Brian before pulling me with him to the backroom. We were standing in the back, waiting. It was only seconds before we heard Brian growling Justin’s name. Justin smiled at the bear near the back exit. The guy opened the door, letting Justin slide past him, and copping a feel of my ass as I followed him out. Then we were out the door and running toward the front. We stopped when Brian stood under the darkened streetlight, as if he knew Justin would be there eventually. As Justin got closer the light began to brighten.

 

“Justin is the light to Brian’s darkness.” Todd tells me.

 

The streetlight exploded when they got near each other and the world when dark. When the lights came back up, they were gone. I looked over to the shadows and Lindsay stood there looking murderous, then realized that I could see her face.

 

“What’s going on?” I ask.

 

“I wanted Lindsay to know they weren’t alone; and that they never really were.” He tells me, waving at her.

 

“Where are Brian and Justin?” I ask.

 

“Driving off.” He smiles, as Brian speeds away with Justin.

 

Todd walked towards Lindsay and I followed, to find out what was going on.

 

“It’s against the rules to interfere.” Lindsay tells him.

 

“We don’t play by the same rules, do we?” He tells her.

 

“It’s not over.” She tells him, leaving.

 

“I know.” Todd whispers.



Chapter 37 by starlight
Author's Notes:

Sorry this took so long, I actually got stumped on how to get where I wanted it to be.

JUSTIN

 

Brian didn't say anything on the drive to the loft. He only looked at me like he didn't understand anything about why he couldn't leave me alone. I hated not being able to tell him anything, because it felt like Lindsay had the upperhand. Only I knew Brian in a way no one else did, and in the end I had to trust in the man I knew he was. Brian sat on the sofa staring out the windows, and seemed annoyed that I sat on the chair, not next to him. Emmett told me that my Brian said to do what it took, and I understood both of them were the same person. One of the things that caused some of our problems in this life was that we used sex instead of talking to each other.

 

"I tried to tell myself I'm just imaging it, but I'm not." He says after a few minutes.

 

"What?" I ask.

 

"The split personalities that you have. The first night we met you were different. More mature, sure of yourself, something the kid I took to bed wasn't. I can't explain it, but you're not the Justin I know." He tells me.

 

"Then who am I? I really don't think you've bothered to learn anything about me other than that you like fucking me." I tell him.

 

"You really believe the reason you're around is because I can't resist your ass?" He asks.

 

"What do you expect, when the minute you had an excuse to dump my ass, you did? You've never let Lindsay or anyone else tell you what to think before." I tell him.

 

"You would know that how, because you spent a few nights in my bed?" He asks, before shaking his head. "You do that well." He tells me.

 

"What?" I ask.

 

"Change the topic, only normally you do it by using sex, the way you accuse me of doing." He tells me, getting up and leaning over me. I looked into the hazel eyes I knew better than my own. It wasn't easy to resist him, but I did.

 

"See, even that's different, normally I don't have to come to you." He tells me, running his nose down my neck.

 

"Am I supposed to do what you want after you dumped me?" I ask him, which had him pause and stare into my eyes.

 

"Dumping implies we were together, which we weren't." He tells me.

 

"Then why am I still here?" I ask, not looking away from him.

 

"I don't know. There's just something about you. Something I can't seem to resist, and I hate you for it." He tells me, before he slams his lips over mine. Everything felt the same, the way he poured himself into the kiss. Brian didn't just kiss, but used it to give the person what he could of himself, which made him agreeing to only kiss me mean more than I understood at that time.

 

I managed to stop myself only because we heard the door sliding open. Brian didn't seem to care, but stopped when I pulled back. Michael stood there holding pizza and beer, looking to me. Brian looked between us, then got up and went to get a drink.

 

"Hey, just figured you guys might be hungry." Michael says, looking at me.

 

"Everything good?" I ask.

 

"Not really sure, after the lights went out Liberty Avenue became a ghost town. I thought you and I could go look in on Ma." He tells me.

 

"Let me get a shower." Brian tells him, thinking Michael meant him.

 

"Justin and I can go." Michael tells him, cringing at the look Brian gave him.

 

Brian scowled at Michael, but I knew I needed to find out what was going on. Only I was afraid to leave Brian alone, with Lindsay still running around. Which made me glad I hadn't just followed Michael out the door, when Mel came through with Gus, looking around as if Lindsay was here.

 

"Just what I need." Brian growled.

 

"Look asshole, I only came to ask if you've seen Lindsay. She took off, after saying you called, once again." Mel tells him.

 

"I haven't seen her since she told me she wanted to leave you. Before you throw shit in my face about how I live my life and how it will affect MY son, remember you're not exactly fucking mother Teresa yourself." Brian spoke softly, likely because Gus was sleeping.

 

"What the hell are you talking about?" Mel asked, seeming to get why Brian wasn't yelling. That was a change, that she clued into what Brian was doing.

 

It took me a second to see that neither of them was really fighting with the other, but almost acting some part they were supposed to play. I looked at Michael, because we both knew any change large or small wasn't something to overlook. Brian didn't like that Michael and I seemed to look to each other, and once again I was pulled behind him and when he sat down he yanked me down until I landed on him. I tried to move to sit next to him, but he held me still when Mel handed me Gus. It was normal in this life that everyone had no problem with me holding Gus while they talked, but it wasn't normal that Brian held me like I was just as special as Gus was to him. She sat down, looking lost for a second, then looked to Brian, as if waiting for something from him. Which was his nod, and she then proceeded to knock me and Michael on our asses.

 

"Brian, I can barely stand to be in the same room with her. I know you said something was different about her, and now I can feel it. It makes me want to run as far as I can get from her. I hate letting her near Gus, but until we can do what you suggested I stayed to keep him safe." She tells him.

 

"What?" I asked, because this was way off script.

 

Brian ignored me, and reached over to hand me a bottle from the diaper bag next to him. Which I held, trying to figure out why he gave it to me. Only to look down to one of the people who I could say I loved as much if not a little more than Brian, for being the person who showed Brian he could love in a way he never believed he could. Gus was staring at me, which really was his way of saying get on with the feeding.

 

"He's waiting, let's get ahead of the wailing." Brian tells me.

 

"What's going on with Lindsay?" Michael asks, sitting next to Mel. Mel's reaction to Michael trying to comfort her wasn't her usual. She let Michael put his arm around her as if she needed someone to keep her from coming apart.

 

"Mel and I started noticing how Gus is almost an afterthought with Lindsay. After she showed up the other morning, I didn't like the way she almost threatened me for letting Justin be anywhere near me or Gus. Mel and I don't always agree with each other, but I trust her with Gus's welfare. We talked about what Lindsay told me, which wasn't anything that I could see Mel saying behind my back, since she has no problem saying it to my face. So yes Michael, I knew Justin didn't say what Lindsay told me, but until Mel and I can do what we need to do for Gus, we don't want Lindsay to know. I did what I did to you because Lindsay went from singing your praises to wanting you gone, and we weren't sure what she would do." Brian tells us.

 

"You want me gone, well most of the time." I tell him.

 

"If that's what you think, then pay better attention to what I'm doing, not what you're hearing." He whispered to me. When I tried to look at Michael, he turned my head and stared straight into my eyes. "I'm still waiting for you to explain why I'm dealing with two different people, which apparently applies to not just Lindsay, but Michael too." He tells me.

 

"I feel like we're in the movie where they replace people with pod people. Only you and Michael don't make my skin crawl." Mel tells me.

 

"When did you both start thinking something was wrong with Lindsay?" I ask.

 

"After Gus was born. Until then I didn't notice anything different. Well, except that she seemed to want to have another baby, hoping for a girl with Brian. It's been her obsession since the minute we found out Gus was a boy. I kept it to myself, thinking it was the fact that we both wanted more than one child. Only, watching her with Gus, I couldn't get rid of the feeling something was wrong with the way she looked at him." She tells me.

 

"In what way?" Michael asks.

 

"Like he would ruin her plans in some way." Mel tells us.

 

I sat there running through my head what Lindsay would see in Gus. What would Gus do that would stop what Lindsay wanted? I kissed Gus's head when I figured it out, which took me longer than usual because I couldn't get past that he was just a powerless baby right now, only he wasn't. There were very few people who had the kind of power that Gus did, and in a way it was poetic justice that Lindsay's downfall was of her own doing.

 

The only problem was, even though Brian saw through her, we still couldn't tell him anything, because he had to be the one to do it. I put Gus in Brian's arms and managed to sit next to him when he let me go to hold his son.

 

"Why did you break... tell me you didn't want me around?" I asked him.

 

"To keep Lindsay from figuring out that I didn't believe everything she tells me. I also want you safe, not being hurt by the shit that my life brings. I need you to stay away until Mel and I have Gus safely away from her." He tells me.

 

"Has she said anything about me?" Michael asks, because well, he's Michael, no matter how new and improved he is.

 

"She said I should see the kind of friend you really are." Brian tells him.

 

"What does that mean?" Michael asks.

 

"It's what she said when you were all over Justin at the park. She said it should bother me that not only do you expect me to take care of you, but apparently I'm expected to give up anything I want to you because you want it. Implying that Justin was one of the things I was expected to give up, because I owe it to you and Deb to make sure you get everything you want." Brian tells him.

 

"I wouldn't do that to you. It's something you and I never talked about, but it's also something we didn't need to talk about. If one of us loved someone, they were off limits." Michael tells him.

 

Which was a rule Brian and I never talked about either, only it was so ingrained in me that even when I didn't know anything, my brain put a big warning label over the people who were our friends.

 

"What are you and Mel planning?" I ask.

 

"I'm hoping Lindsay will be too distracted by Brian catering to her ass to read the paperwork that Brian and I got prepared. If she doesn't read it, she'll sign away her rights to me, instead of Brian. We want to make it so Brian and I are the custodial parents." Mel tells me.

 

"What happens if she signs?" Michael asks.

 

"I plan to make sure to adopt Gus, which will terminate her rights to anything having to do with Gus. The only issue we have for now is that Lindsay will still have a waiting period to change her mind." Mel tells us.

 

"You really think she'll agree once she finds out she's giving up her rights? I doubt the judge is going to lie for you." I tell her.

 

"No, but I think she won't want to bother with anything beyond signing. She's always left everything up to me when it came to legal matters, and if we play it right, she'll just think it's me taking Brian's rights not hers. She won't bother to come to the hearing, which isn't going to be a huge court case, but something done in the judge's chambers. Brian and I decided to use Lindsay's game against her, she seems to like pitting us against each other, so we play until we get what we need for Gus." Mel tells me.

 

"I need you to do something for me." Brian asks.

 

"What?" I ask.

 

"Prove to me that you really love me, and walk away until this is done." He tells me.

 

"I can't." I tell him.

 

"You won't." He counters.

 

"That too, but I can agree to help let Lindsay believe she's gotten me out of your life." I tell him.

 

"He can stay with Emmett and me... Seriously. I get that Justin is irresistible to you, but well, I'm into older guys. I'm seeing freaking David, so can you chill out." Michael tells him, ignoring the threat to his life in Brian's eyes.

 

"Why would he need to stay with you? He can go home and let Mommy and Daddy live in their delusions that it's just a phase." Brian tells him.

 

"I can't do it. I won't be what makes my dad comfortable. Lindsay can kiss my ass, because I won't hide who I am for anyone." I tell Brian, and once again seeming to awe him with my convictions.

 

"Then stay with Michael. But do me a favor and make Lindsay think you don't give a shit about me." Brian tells me.

 

"That I can do, you taught me well." I tell him.

 

Brian got up and handed Gus to Mel, then grabbed my hand and took me to the bedroom. We stood close and he leaned his head into mine. He kept looking directly into my eyes, and I got what my Brian once told me. You can see when the person you love isn't there, not that I didn't love Brian, but right now he wasn't willing to love me.

 

"I can love." He tells me.

 

"But will you?" I ask.

 

"Figure it out, since you know me so well." He tells me, covering my lips.

 

It felt like he was kissing me so he could keep it with him. I hated this shit, that once again our lives were constantly fighting for what we wanted.

 

"I'm going to marry you one day." I told him.

 

"Yeah?" He asks, rolling his eyes.

 

"Just stay out of Hell, I kind of like you less singed." I said, walking off when he looked confused.

 

Michael and I left, since for now I didn't worry about Brian. We stopped by and checked on Deb, who fed us, since the food Michael brought got left behind. Deb left us to go to bed, before reminding Michael that he needed to call David.

 

"You know why Lindsay isn't playing mommy like before?" Michael asked.

 

"I think it's that Gus is one of the people who changed everything for Brian the minute he was born. Brian still partied and tricked, but when Gus was born he started changing in small ways, to give Gus the father Jack never could be to him. In essence, Gus made Brian want to be a better man." I tell him.

 

"I always thought it was you." He tells me.

 

"Gus was the reason I got the chance to be more than the trick who wouldn't leave." I tell him.

 

Chapter 38 by starlight

MICHAEL 

 

When I called Ma to tell her I'd be over, she started in on me about not being around, and then it was what the hell was I thinking, not calling David. It should have set alarm bells off when she calmed down and told me to be over for lunch, but I'd forgotten this version of her. 

 

As my aunt, she was different, in that she no longer thought she had to run my life, and I stupidly forgot who she was this time. I barely got to the door before she opened it, and great, there was David. I'd been avoiding his calls because the one thing I remember the most about us was he wanted me to be someone I wasn't. As much as he hated Brian in this life, Brian would have fit in with the people David hung around. Only David didn’t want an equal but someone to treat like a prize and show off, which I played into until I realized all he really wanted a wife with a dick.

 

Ma was just about to start in on me, but lucky for me the world froze, which meant I needed to find Justin. Just for old time sake I kissed David’s still lips, and it was reassuring knowing that he was a mistake in my life when the kiss was just like all his kisses. 

 

I dialed the phone to find out where Justin was, only to realize nothing worked when everything stopped. Which meant my car was stuck where it was too. I started the trek that I’d made thousands of times in this timeline, only since I didn’t chase after Brian in our other life, I decided my ass was going to the gym again. Justin should have mentioned how creepy it was to walk around people who were stopped in the middle of what they were doing. By the time I got to the loft, I almost got hit by a car, since I walked right by one that was obviously speeding when it was frozen. I found Brian and Justin in a conversation that likely just made mincemeat of the rules. Of course, my phone started blowing up at that moment, which meant Brian noticing that I was standing there.

 

 

 

JUSTIN

 

My favorite part of this life never really changes, my mother wanted to believe that it was just a phase. My father on the other hand pretty much told my mother that if I wanted to live my life as a faggot, then I lived it outside his home. He didn’t even try to hide it from my mother. I’d made a point of calling him at work and telling him to make it easier by kicking me out, and he could have my trust fund without a fight. He couldn’t use Brian and paint him as a pervert to my Mom, because this time around Brian stayed a secret between him and me. I left with my mom handing me money and telling me she’d do what she could for me. 

 

Michael was over with Deb and Vic, explaining Hunter, so we agreed to meet at his place when I got done. Only I needed information, because my son wasn’t a pawn in anything. Gus’s life was the one thing Brian and I both would protect against Heaven or Hell.

 

One thing that pisses me off in all of this is finding out there were players on the board that stayed comfortable in their closets while Brian and I were fighting shit we were guessing at. While I was sitting there listening to my parents fight, all I could think about was Gus and free will. Here's the thing that bothered me, Brian as he was when Lindsay approached him to have a child, had no reason to give in, yet he did. It didn’t make sense to me, because Brian, if nothing else, was a possessive bastard and wouldn’t just walk away the way his father did to him. Brian knew that about himself, so he wouldn’t have said yes to a child.  Brian for all his self awareness was blind to the fact that he wouldn’t eventually become Jack and that alone would have made him say no to a having a child. 

 

It was in all he said to me after his father died. He told me he never wanted to see the look his mother’s eyes had for Jack, in mine looking at him. It’s why I know he believed he'd be the man Jack was. It was in the life he led; drinking, tricking, and partying like a death wish, but what Brian didn’t seem to get in this life was that he never laid a hand on anyone, something his father did even without the excess for an excuse. Brian didn’t seem to see that, no matter what he showed everyone, in the end he gave a shit, unlike his useless father. 

 

Here's the thing about knowing what I went through with him in this life; he never gave up on anyone, even when it hurt him. He just waited until we came back to him, not making them apologize or even explain why he should still be friends with them. It wasn’t how he was when I came back after leaving him, and I appreciated the fact that he didn’t just forgive me the way he did with everyone else. It wasn’t like he did anything different, just gave me a little of what I did, only he didn’t hide it the way I did. It made me different from everyone else. 

 

Lindsay might be hoping for eternity in hell with Brian, but she never saw Brian for who he was, so she missed that Jack was the one she should have wanted. Granted he was old enough to be her father, but they were two of a kind. They always wanted the things they couldn't have, because they both gave up so easily. They both thought they were better than they were.

 

Jack married Joan, not because he had to, but because he felt superior to her. She might have carried the bible and held her christianity up like a shield but underneath he knew she carried his bruises as a reminder of who controlled everything, which wasn’t the God she prayed to. He wasn’t anything but the black sheep in the family that disowned him. In Joan he got what he wanted, a way to blame anyone but himself for his failures in life.

 

Lindsay was just like her family. She never let Mel forget where she came from. The wedding arrangements were the big clue. I understand wanting to have your dream wedding, but making Mel go with her to get Mommy and Daddy, who didn’t approve of the spouse, to foot the bill didn’t make a lot of sense. Unless it was to show Mel that once again Lindsay gave up her place in life for someone like Mel. Then Lindsay’s use of Brian to show Mel that she couldn’t give her what Brian could. I really don’t get why she bothered with Mel, until I realized she was a way to get Gus, because Brian wouldn’t have wanted to have a child if it was only Lindsay raising it. Strange as it is, he trusted Mel to love Gus, likely because he saw Lindsay as his female counterpart. Underneath it all he knew Lindsay only wore her prude as a cover for the real person underneath. 

 

Which is why I need to talk to Todd, who after talking to me and distracting me with Kira, disappeared. Todd has been elusive, he’s around Michael but for some reason hides when I’m around. I could have wandered all over trying to find him, but I knew exactly what to do to get him to come to me. 

 

“For all the blond sweet angelic looks, you’re really a little shit.” Todd tells me, appearing in the loft as I walked in.

 

Brian was sitting in front of his computer frozen, but I didn’t think Todd would have let me have this conversation in front of Brian.

 

“You can’t tell him anything, he has to make his own decisions without the answers provided.” Todd tells me.

 

“I didn’t plan to tell him anything, just get you to finally show up.” I tell him.

 

“There are days the angels weep at how wrong we are about you,  you were never the nice one.” He says, shaking his head as if upset.

 

I rolled my eyes at his dramatic flair, but didn’t let it distract me. “Understand something, my son will not be a pawn in whatever you and your pals have come up with. Now since you’re here, you need to tell me why we’re still dealing with Lindsay when hell was supposed to be a one way ticket for her. If you try to use free will, you better keep this world frozen because nothing will stop me from telling Brian everything, damn the consequences.” I tell him.

 

“Free will means the choices he makes keeps the game fair.” He tells me.

 

“So his life and mine are some kind of game to you?” I ask, not hiding my anger.

 

“I said it wrong, there is more to this than the love story. Brian was born with the potential to go in either direction. He was given people in his life to keep the odds even. You didn’t like it the first time, not that you remember it.” He tells me.

 

“Is that why I don’t always remember everything?” I ask.

 

“Yes, because it was the only way you could be with him. I didn’t want you involved, but then you’ve never understood the word no, especially when it came to Brian. We didn’t realize you were soulmates when you took off to help him.” He tells me.

 

“What are you talking about?” I ask.

 

“The first time you and Brian met wasn’t in this timeline or any that you can remember. We made a mistake, which is the reason Lindsay got to come back and play.” He tells me.

 

“Why didn’t you mention that?” I ask.

 

“We screwed up, it’s not something we like to admit. When you refused to leave Brian to his fate, we brought you back. The timeline went in a direction it wouldn’t have if we had left it alone. Deb isn’t the only one who believed she knew it all.” He mumbles.

 

“Did we have to redo it then too?” I ask, sarcastically.

 

“No, but we broke a lot of rules changing it back. Like Deb, even we were shown the error in our ways. Our brother was allowed to introduce his minions to the game. Until this timeline, it was more of a nuisance than anything else, because Lindsay and Michael were just casual friends in Brian’s life. In this one, they became people who influenced Brian. Then you were born twelve years later than Brian, which just screwed with Brian’s head. We couldn’t interfere, but we were allowed to watch and guide things.” He tells me.

 

“Free will, or at least free will until you want something, that is what you should really call it. Is that why he said yes to Gus, because you guided him in that direction?” I ask.

 

“If we had our way Mel would have been the mother, but we had you, so the other side got to pick Lindsay.” He tells me.

 

“I don’t get why Lindsay was even willing to have Gus. She lost any chance to mold him into what she wanted when Gus was born.” I tell him.

 

“It wasn’t her choice, she’s Satan’s bitch to do with as he pleases. I’m sure she thinks she can change Gus’s future the way she wants to change Brian’s.” He tells me.

 

“How did she not see that Gus was the one thing that would ruin anything she tried? I know everyone thinks Brian changed because of me, but even though I didn’t know him the night Gus was born, Brian gave up his heart to Gus that night.” I tell him.

 

“Like everyone else, she only saw Gus as powerless, you don’t because people always underestimated you. You also really saw Brian’s love for Gus, the others didn’t because Brian didn’t want anyone to see that Gus was important to him.” He tells me.

 

“He spent time with Lindsay and Gus, so she had to see it too.” I tell him.

 

 

“She saw it as him wanting to see her and please her by paying attention to the child they created. She doesn’t love the way you or Brian do, so she couldn’t see anything but what she believed was the reason he spent time with Gus.” He tells me.

 

“He wants me to stay out of the way.” I tell him.

 

“Justin, when have you ever listened to what Brian says to you?” He asks.

 

“I listen, but I also know he doesn’t always know what’s the best for him. Just thinks he knows what I need, even when it takes me away from him. The only problem is right now I’m dealing with the bullshit that he did to prove to me that he wouldn’t ever be what I wanted.” I tell him.

 

“Then break down the wall, because it’s the only way he won’t push you away.” He tells me, disappearing.

 

“Justin?” Brian says a couple minutes later, looking confused that I was standing in front of him.

 

“I love you.” I tell him.

 

“Sure, now how about you explain how you’re here when I told you to stay away?” He asks, getting up and grabbing a glass.

 

“Why are you at home, don’t you have important deals to make?” I ask him.

 

“Mel and I needed to meet, today was a good day. Lindsay’s mother wanted the family to meet Lynette’s latest victim. So why not take off and play while I deal with the shit that is none of your business.” He tells me.

 

“It must be hard to lie to yourself.” I tell him.

 

“Tell me, is it? Since you’ve been doing that since we met.” He tells me.

 

“Actually I probably was mistaking lust and hormones for love at first. I can admit it, but it’s not why I won’t go away. It’s not why, even when I can see you wish you didn’t say it. I stopped listening to what you said but what you did. If you didn’t feel something then why let me come back over and over? How did I rate seconds and thirds?” I ask.

 

“You were there, willing to do anything, why not?” He shrugs off.

 

“Don’t. There isn’t anyone here to see this and really it’s getting to the point you sound like a broken record. I’m going to give you some advice that someone I love more than my own life gave me; grow some balls. For once admit to yourself that you deserve to be loved the way I want to love you. Stop the bullshit and fucking love me.” I tell him, grabbing the glass and putting it down.

 

“Because if I do, you’ll never be able to run far enough that I won’t chase you to bring you back. I don’t want to be the fucking stalker everyone thinks you are, do you get that? I won’t love you because if I did…” He trailed off.

 

“You already do.” I tell him.

 

“I need to fix my life.” He tells me.

 

“No, you need to let Michael and I help you. We can’t if you don’t tell us what’s going on. Lindsay will use it to her advantage.” I tell him.

 

The loft door opened and Michael came in, causing Brian to scowl and grab his glass only to pour it down the sink. 

 

“I thought we needed to be careful.” Michael tells me.

 

“Apparently the twat wasn’t paying attention.” Brian tells him.

 

“My fault. I told him to meet me here. I was going to come see if you were okay, since Cynthia told me you called out today.” Michael tells him.

 

“Mikey, do me a favor and don’t call Cynthia a hundred times a day.” Brian tell him.

 

“Sorry, I just wanted to warn you that Ma would likely yell at you because I skipped out on lunch with her and David. Which hopefully they forgive me for, when I bring Sunshine to see her.” Michael tells him, dragging me out the door as Mel walked past us. 

 

Chapter 39 by starlight
Author's Notes:

Sorry this took so long for anyone still reading it. It was more that this started with the idea from a one chapter idea, I wrote and I wanted to make sure it was headed I the right direction. 

JUSTIN

 

It’s like every answer just leaves more questions. The first life was one where even Angels didn’t know what I was to Brian? Michael and I got on the bus so we could get Deb to quit blowing up Michael’s phone. We needed to get the Hunter thing settled, even if Daphne’s parents didn’t care. Daphne and Brian running into each other, and her mentioning anything about Hunter wouldn’t be a good thing. 

 

“What stopped everything?” Michael asks, after turning his phone off.

 

“I wanted answers. You knew Brian before I did. Did it make sense to you he would say yes to having Gus? Even when everything was wrong with this timeline, he didn’t always do something because Lindsay wanted it.” I tell him.

 

“I wasn’t really sure why he did it. I know I tried to talk him out of it.” He tells me.

 

“He’s the football.” I tell Michael, thinking over everything past and present.

 

“What do you mean? Remember, I don’t do that thing you and Brian could do later.” He tells me.

 

“What thing?” I ask.

 

“You know, say something but not, and both of you got it, while everyone else didn’t.” He tells me.

 

“From what little Todd would really say, I wasn’t originally brought into Brian’s life to do anything but help him. Todd claims none of them knew we were soul mates, and something they did screwed up the first timeline Brian and I were in. What I don’t get is why this timeline has to be the one we get sucked back into.” I tell him.

 

“I’m still not getting it. What does him being the football have to do with anything?” He asks.

 

“You have two sides who want control of the ball, why does it matter though? Unless there’s a reason that having Brian on one side or the other means more than we know. Todd did say something about Brian could go either way.” I tell him.

 

“Hell, with the fucked up family he got that’s definitely true.” He tells me.

 

“Yet when I picked to have a life different from my own, there wasn’t a fight over it. Like no one saw the possibility for it to do the kind of damage to my life like it did to Brian’s life.” I tell him.

 

“Maybe in your case they knew you couldn’t become... well, evil or whatever.” He tells me.

 

“I’ve never been an angel.” I told him.

 

“You’ve also never hated, disliked, or barely tolerated anyone. You just don’t have it in you.” He tells me.

 

“I wanted to kill Hobbs, even pointed a loaded gun at his head.” I tell him.

 

“In the end you walked away, which proves my point. Why did you?” I ask.

 

“In that moment, by pulling the trigger I would have become him. My life would have ended, the person I am would have been left behind. Living in darkness… Light, why shine the light on me?” I said, thinking about what Uriel/Todd said in the street when he was stopping people from the wrong fate.

 

“Hello, remember me? Not Brian.” Michael says.

 

“Standing under the streetlight, dancing on the stage, even the protest at school. It’s like my life was living under a spotlight of some kind. Brian weaved in and out of it, between light and darkness. Like he couldn’t be one or the other. Why did Todd say you were on the other side though?” I ask him, suddenly confused if Michael was on the other side.

 

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Michael asks.

 

“You’re supposed to be on Lindsay’s side, yet your not.” I tell him.

 

“Justin, I’m not on her side.” He assures me.

 

“But you’re supposed to be, only your not. Do you want to tell me why you’re not?” I ask, puzzled by it.

 

“This is my last chance.” He tells me.

 

“What do you mean by that? What haven’t you told me?” I ask.

 

“I was shown my life in rewind, every outcome. In every one I end up alone, barely remembered by my children. Never having what you and Brian had, because I couldn’t give up on wanting Brian. See, I don’t get to Heaven or Hell. My life gets erased, because I left my soulmate without me. It’s why I don’t want to repeat it anymore. I want a chance to live a full life. After you guys left to come here, I wanted a life where Brian didn’t play the role we kept playing. What Lindsay told me; how to change things, I didn’t want to remember, so I came back without it. My trigger was a conversation that Brian and I had in this life, about Ben’s book. Ben wasn’t even supposed to be in this life.” He tells me.

 

“You ended up practically playing the same role with Ethan.” I remind him. 

 

“I had to prove I could change, without anyone doing it for me. Only Brian brought it all back, and even if I become nothing in the end, at least for once I was trying to do the right thing.” He tells me.

 

“And boys and boys, that’s proof Michael did change.” Todd says, appearing next to us, dressed like Sheba.

 

“Here to play Mysterious Marilyn's role for us?” I snark.

 

“Give her a break, she’s bound by more rules than anyone. I just didn’t want something I said to have you suspecting this Mikey. Mikey played on the other side, yes, but in the end even Hell has standards, and Mikey just couldn’t reach them.” Todd tells us.

 

“I could have been evil.” Michael pouts.

 

“It’s not the time for you to get upset that Hell didn’t want you, remember the goal is staying out of Hell.” I tell him.

 

“Fine, but I wasn’t all good. I did once say you should have died.” He mutters, like the idea of roasting in hell sounded fun.

 

“It’s better than being nothing to some people.” Todd tells me.

 

“Why light?” I ask Todd.

 

“God likes football. And in every game it’s two people fighting to win the game through the portal of a ball, if we use your analogy. Like good, we have evil, and something that stands in between the two so one doesn’t overpower the other.” Todd tells me.

 

“He’s light to Lindsay’s darkness, not Brian’s.” Michael says, looking at Todd.

 

“She wanted it to seem like that, but no, it’s a mirror image to light and darkness. Lindsay isn’t part of what I’m talking about. She worked hard to be everything Justin was, in her head the only thing missing was the one part Brian would require. You asked why she had Gus; it was something you couldn’t beat her at.” Todd tells us.

 

“Fuck you, I’m nothing like her.” I tell him.

 

“She needed to keep you and Michael fighting, wanting to finally win the game. Lindsay wants an end to the balance, because Hell would win. Prince of Light meet the Prince of Darkness. God’s balance sheet has always been you two, only there has to be someone who could be both... Brian.” He tells me.

 

“Look, cryptic shit isn’t helping right now.” I tell him.

 

“Think hard Justin, in this life you did things in order to help other people. The only time you came close to something that would have changed you, you walked away. Because there had to be balance, something you were trained from birth to do. If you hadn’t, a war that’s been going on would have ended, because you would have destroyed the balance your family was responsible for. Just as Michael’s family was the keeper of the Darkness. Think of it like government, both wanting what their party wants, but also willing to work together for the good of all.” Todd tells me.

 

“Wouldn’t that make me evil?” Michael asks. 

 

“It gave you both a way to help Brian stay in between. When Lindsay got a hold of you, you tilted, because darkness craves the sins of the world, but you weren’t created evil. Brian has both sides in him, so he can walk between the two. When you guys went to the new timeline, Brian was shifting closer to light. It’s about balance; they can’t have the referee taking a side, even with Justin at his side for eternity.” He tell me, vanishing.

 

“Did any of that clear up anything?” Michael asks.

 

I sat there thinking, trying to understand what Todd was describing. “Before God created man, there was no sin, envy, greed, or jealousy. Nothing, because there was only Heaven, a place where none of that is. Lucifer fell, because God gave people free will, something Angels didn’t have. Their lives were lived to serve only God. The Garden of Eden was created, only, what happened?” I ask him.

 

“Yeah, apple, snake, woman…” He adds, confused if there was anything else.

 

“So we go from everything good and perfect, nothing that could be done better or worse… When Brian and I went away after the restart of this timeline, I remember watching the sunrise every morning. Every morning was different and new. Nothing was perfect, the way it was in Heaven. I could no longer see a way to make it better, so I stopped creating, even in my head, until I came back. Lucifer fell when his father loved his newest creations more.” I tell him.

 

“Okay, but what does it have to do with the whole light and darkness thing?” He asks.

 

“I’m only guessing now, because none of this is something I’ve ever read in theology. At a guess, light and darkness are the result of free will, beyond that, I’m really not sure. It could be Todd paying me back for making him come to me, and threatening him.” I tell him.

 

“You threatened an Angel, are you nuts?” Michael asks.

 

“No. Just determined to get some answers, so we can get back to the life we want.” I tell him. 


Chapter 40 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Deb was out for Michael’s head for disappearing. Not acting like it was unusual to be standing there one minute and gone the next. I went to sit with Vic while Deb treated Michael like a bad baby boy for not wanting her dream son-in-law.

 

“She doesn’t get that Dr Dave only wants the little woman at home.” Vic tells me.

 

“She always wanted him to find someone who could love him.” I tell Vic, forgetting for a second I was still relatively new in their world.

 

I looked around for Deb’s bible, since I know I’d never read anything about what Todd talked about. I found it in a drawer, next to her rosary.

 

“Looking for divine intervention for Michael?” Vic teases, as I flip at random.

 

“I just heard something that I know I’ve never read in all the classes we took at school.” I tell him.

 

“Maybe I can help, being born Catholic myself.” He tells me.

 

“It sounds more like mythology to me.” I tell him.

 

“Myth came from some form of the truth. What you’re reading is the human race’s interpretation in the end. And not always what I believe God expected of us.” He tells me, not surprising me since Vic kept his depths hidden.

 

“Have you ever heard of the Princes of Light and Darkness?” I ask.

 

“The two sides of the human race. Yes. But it’s not in there.” He tells me, studying me.

 

“Then where did it come from?” I ask.

 

“I honestly don’t really remember. Just that it was something I heard at one time.” He tells me, getting a drink for both of us.

 

“Since I’m here, I’d like to hear what you know.” I ask.

 

“For a paper or something?” He asks.

 

“Something. But it’s just interesting.” I tell him.

 

“It might get a bit out there, but I’ll tell you what I remember. When God created man, in the stages of creating him he wanted them to be different, allowing them the things his angels didn’t have. They would walk between light and dark; in other words, they would have the ability to sin. Only at first, sinning was taking over, and driving light out of his creations. His son, in his jealousy that God was no longer bestowing all his love on him, fell, wanting to punish the creations and not allowing them into the place where only light lived. God didn’t want his creations punished because he loved them, but in the end you couldn’t be in Heaven if you no longer believed in God. He created two houses in Heaven, in hopes to understand why sin was extinguishing the light, which was God’s love. Then he created a third house, with beings who could walk the line between them. The third house would have one of each side, and in essence mediate between the two. The purpose was to decide where a soul went at the end. Each side would be sent to assess where the soul went. God didn’t see sin as the problem, but the loss of faith in him. That’s all I really remember, but I was high at the time, and the guy seemed to get more philosophical the more high we got.” He tells me, winking.

 

“Do you still know him?” I ask.

 

“Nope. At the time I was looking for my next trick, not wanting to talk about Heaven and Hell.” He tells me.

 

“Vic, tell Michael to stop chasing Brian and see that David could be good for him. Sunshine, let me feed you.” Deb says, walking in with Michael who slumps in the chair.

 

“We just wanted to see if you’d be willing to let a kid who needs a place to stay, stay here.” Michael tells them.

 

“What about his family?” Deb asks, grabbing leftovers and putting them in front of us.

 

“The mother was involved in the thing with the cops.” Michael tells her, eating on command like we always did.

 

“Poor kid. But you know, they don’t just let a kid go where he wants.” She tells us.

 

“He’ll go back to the streets if they try to put him in a foster home. A lot of people don’t really get that it’s not his fault, some of the things he did to survive. You and Vic could help him, because you won’t judge him for what he did.” Michael tells them.

 

“Vic?” Deb asks.

 

“Sis.” He says.

 

“Okay, bring him over and we’ll do what we can.” She tells us.

 

Michael got out only after promising to give David a call and actually show up for the date. David told her he wanted to take Michael out. Deb was thrilled that Michael and I were getting along, and Michael jokingly slung his arm through mine, saying we were besties, as we walked, or more accurately, Michael dragged us out. We started down the sidewalk, walking away as Deb watched us.

 

“We seriously need to get back to our timeline.” He tells me, still pulling me with him.

 

“Then we go see Zenny Ben, because this is right up his alley.” I tell him.

 

“Why?” He asked, not really wanting to see Ben.

 

“He probably knows all about what is starting to sound more Mythic than based off religion.” I tell him.

 

“You don’t want to believe we are what Todd said?” He asks.

 

“I guess I just have a hard time believing this as anything else. It sounds too Rage-ish, when you think about it.” I tell him.

 

“Maybe it was why we created it, because it was what we did before all this.” He tells me.

 

Brian pulled up, not getting out but staring at Michael’s arm and mine. “I need a blow job and a few drinks, you coming?” Brian growled at Michael.

 

Michael looked at his watch and while some people went out at six, Brian was really more of... waiting around to make an appearance. “I was going to get Justin settled in at my place first.” He tells him.

 

“Go with him, I’ll deal with Ben. Lindsay doesn’t need any advantages.” I whisper in his ear, making Brian come out of the jeep.

 

“Get in the car.” He tells Michael.

 

“Seriously, get over it. Unlike you, I can be friends with a guy.” Michael said, but got in.

 

“Do not use Michael.” He tells me, backing me up until I hit a tree, and caging me in.

 

“Why, if you don’t believe I have a clue in my little blond head about you, would it bother you?” I ask, not letting him think he for once got to order me around.

 

“Michael can’t have you.” He tells me, staring at my lips.

 

“No doors.” I tell him. “But right now I’m off to find a hunky professor, so Mikey’s safe from me.” I tell him.

 

“He’ll never give you what I did.” Brian says, which was strange.

 

“Who? Mikey or the professor?’ I ask.

 

“Anyone. I made sure you would always remember me.” He tells me.

 

“Be careful, it’s starting to sound like you think I belong to you.” I tell him.

 

The kiss was pretty much possession, but as usual, the minute it was over he was off to prove to himself he didn’t do relationships. Although he made sure I knew they still weren’t better than me.

 

“Let’s go see if I can at least get in the top ten for blow jobs, since number one is being all scholarly today.” Brian tells Michael, getting in and racing away.

 

I got halfway to the bus stop before Ted and Emmett pulled up. “Need a ride, Baby?” Emmett yelled out the window.

 

“I was going to Carnegie, where were you two going?” I ask.

 

“We were going to visit with Deb, at least I was.” Emmett tells me.

 

“I can go with Justin, Deb is likely going to want us to get Michael to stop skipping out on David.” He tells us.

 

“I’m going to see what he can tell me about another new tidbit the angels are trickling down.” I warn Ted, who pretty much just pretended we were joking this whole time.

 

“I can keep Deb from showing up with a naked Dr Dreamboat in Michael’s room and instructing them.” Emmett says, getting out and laughing at us both grimacing at the idea. 

 

“I’m just kidding you two. She’d just shove him into the room naked and hope Michael learned from watching Brian tricking.” He tells us, skipping away.

 

“So what’s the newest?” Ted asks, driving towards Carnegie.

 

“Something that changes everything.” I tell him.

 

“So, nothing new lately.” He says, in that dry voice that was just him.

 

“I need to see if someone we meet later in this timeline would know. He seems to always know about the things of Myth and Legend.” I tell him.

 

“Meeting him now changes things, doesn’t it?” He asks.

 

“I wasn’t really a big part of the relationship he ends up in. In truth, we really never talked much. I just know he’d be the person who could probably tell me how the myth came into being.” I tell him.

 

“If it’s a myth then why are you letting it keep you from what sounds more important?” He asks.

 

“If it’s true, I needed to know exactly how it worked. I’m sure Michael would be thrilled if there was a superpower or two in it too.” I joke.

 

Blake told us Ben had been around during the times we didn’t know him. And it made it easier because he always left his lectures open to anyone who wanted to come. Ted and I sat in the back while he talked about cultural norms, and how it molded us to try to fit into them. The students were too busy looking at the professor. He finally called a halt and everyone woke up... I mean left.

 

When we walked up he smiled, but it wasn’t one of recognition. “Hope I didn’t interrupt the nap.” He tells Ted.

 

“Sorry. It was interesting, just a lot going on in one day.” Ted tells him.

 

“He only came because I wanted to see if you would be a reference for a paper I want to write.” I tell him.

 

“I was headed out to get something to eat if you want to come, and you can tell me what you’re writing about.” Ben tells us.

 

Ted and I offered him a ride and went to a local hangout for college kids. After ordering, Ben asked what I needed from him. I explained what Vic told me, waiting to see what he knew.

 

“It’s close to what I’ve read, but there’s more to it. What you said was the basis of it. There was a story later about how the one in between gets tested, to make sure he could stay unbiased.” He tells me.

 

“Do you know it?” I ask.

 

“Enough to give you an idea. It actually started in Heaven. The two houses, even though they both served God’s will, weren’t happy. As time went on the two opposing houses did what they were created to do. Eventually they were allowed to add to the houses, have children, and lives similar to the beings they watched over. Each house had to train the children to eventually take over for them. The one in between didn’t have the same choice, because they were test living here. It was the only way to teach them about the people who they were going to be mediating over. I know there's more to it, but it’s been awhile since I read it. I can see if I can rack my brain over where it came from, and get back to you, if you like.” He tells me

 

“That would be good, call Ted and he’ll make sure I know.” I tell him.

 

Ben spent the rest of the time asking about what I planned to do after high school. I told him what I did the last time, since it didn’t really matter to me. Ted dropped me off at Michael and Emmett’s apartment. No one was there so I went to take a shower. Deciding I would then see if the internet had anything, since people loved to talk about this kind of stuff. I was lost in thoughts of everything when the curtain was moved and Brian was apparently not out tricking.

 

 

 

Chapter 41 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I didn’t try to act like I usually did anytime Brian and I were naked together. Once again I was faced with how to turn this Brian down, since I couldn’t seem to see him as just Brian. 

 

“I thought we weren’t supposed to be seeing each other.” I tell him, just continuing to shower.

 

“Are you really going to leave this Brian with blue balls?” Brian asks, smirking.

 

“Wait.” I stop him, looking at his eyes. “How are you here?” I ask, yanking him in the small tub.

 

“Todd seems to think I should let you and Mikey live.” He grumbles, grabbing the shampoo, sniffing it and grimacing. “I love you but at seventeen you were a pain in the ass.”

 

“What’s going on…? Shit Brian, I need to tell you what’s going on here…” and then I got lost in the feeling of his hands on me.

 

“Someone missed me?” Brian whispers, running his hands down my chest and wrapping them around the evidence.

 

“I can’t get my head around it, even though I know it’s you. It still feels weird.” I tell him.

 

“Can we deal with the harder problems?” He asks me, kissing me.

 

I needed this, after everything going on, just having him near me would be enough. This was Brian without the bullshit. It was one of the things that bothered me about staying here. The things that didn’t bother me when I lived this life bother me now, because I see what Brian could be like. 

 

“Stop thinking, just feel right now.” Brian tells me, using his fingers to tease me.

 

“There’s just so much I don’t get, and then there’s more being tossed in, changing why this is happening.” I tell him, letting go when he breaches me with his fingers.

 

I just let everything go and just let Brian work his magic on me. Brian could get me out of my head, which usually helped me figure out the answers. It didn’t matter that we were just beginning again. Our souls knew each other in a way our minds sometimes took time to remember. His fingers weren’t enough, and no matter how much I begged he wouldn’t let what came next hurt me. When he took his hand away it was to get down on his knees and let his tongue take over, and it didn’t matter how many times or how many lives we did this in, it never got old. He didn’t stop me when I stroked myself, since we could go a few time without stopping. I came faster than the night he took me to his loft the first time. I didn’t bother to move, knowing I needed more of him. It was never easy to take him, but when he was seated to the hilt he didn’t wait, knowing I loved the pain, because it never lasted and turned to pleasure in seconds. He came almost as fast, removing the condom putting on a new one, and chased our next orgasm. Neither of us wanted to move, but the shower was cold by the time we came again.

 

“How much time do you have?” I ask him, drying him off as he did the same for me.

 

“Until we go to sleep.” He tells me.

 

“We need to go somewhere else, the last thing we need is for you to run into you.” I tell him.

 

Brian and I got dressed and left Michael’s place, finally deciding on the park, since it we weren't likely to run into the Brian from here. 

 

“Brian, I’m starting to think there’s more to this than Lindsay. Have you ever heard of anything about the houses of Light, Darkness, and In Between?” I ask him.

 

“Sounds like something Ben would run around talking about.” He tells me.

 

“Todd started telling me about it, then Vic seemed to know, and then I went to talk to Ben. If I believe Todd; I’m ‘Light’, Michael’s ‘Darkness’, and you’re ‘In Between’. Only, no one seem to know the whole story, and Todd could give Marlynn a run for her money on the mysterious.” I tell him.

 

“Then he offers me a ticket here. Which he probably thought would distract you.” He tells me.

 

“I don’t get why they seem to think having half the facts would help. Only it sounds more like they fucked up and expect us to fix it.” I tell him.

 

“Sounds like the one thing we seem to do in every life. What is the ‘In Between’?” He asks.

 

“You, apparently. In essence, God created man, then didn’t get why sinning became all the rage. So he created a governing body when he was losing too many souls to Satan. That’s the short version of what I’ve been able to find out. My side was light, being the side without sin, Michael’s the dark, and you live between the two. It was supposed to make it so you could see both sides and keep the balance between the two.” I tell him.

 

“The ‘Dark Side’ is in Heaven?” He asks.

 

“God doesn’t see sin as a necessary evil, just as part of his creation. Michael side and my side were together in assessing who St Peter let in or rejected, you were there to keep us fair.” I tell him.

 

“I don’t remember anything like that in the Bible.” He tells me.

 

“Man wrote the Bible, and when you think about it…”

 

“There was no reason God would want people to know that he didn’t have anything to do with what happens to your soul.” He tells me.

 

“Because then who would you worship?” I add.

 

“Not the creator. But the ones who decided where you ended up.” He tells me.

 

“I’m starting to think what caused all of this was me wanting you to have everything you didn’t here. You weren’t skating the line, in the new timeline.” I tell him.

 

“I didn’t in the end of this one.” He reminds me.

 

“But if it’s true, maybe it’s changing the balance.” I tell him.

 

“Why would it matter, when whatever they wanted us to believe, we did? And we don’t anymore.” He tells me.

 

“What if they no longer want us to be on vacation from the roles we were supposed to play in the world? It could be the reason this is happening again, to get us to remember who we are.” I wonder out loud.

 

“Why not just call us back if God wanted that?” He asks me.

 

“Free will. He gave it to his creations, which we are a part of.” I tell him.

 

“We have to want to go back to who we were.” He tells me.

 

“Which is the problem, since you were both pissed at all of us for what we did.” A guy says, sitting on the bench ahead of us.

 

“Gabriel, don’t you have some war to fight?” Brian asks.

 

“Son, I’ve been fighting a war from the day Father created all of you.” Gabriel sneers.

 

“He and Lucifer apparently weren’t big fans of the human race.” I comment.

 

“I have no problem with humans. Just that they caused chaos where there was none at one time. If Father wanted Pets, who am I to judge him the way the Pets do?” He states.

 

“Why are you here?” Brian asks.

 

“I don’t really like playing around, but play we will, because none of us can just give you the answers.” He tells us.

 

“If we say we want to go back…?” Brian asks.

 

“It’s never that easy.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“Then what?” I ask.

 

“We put everyone back in the role that caused everything. Set up the players in the positions they were in; Justin knowing who he is, Michael knowing who he is, and Brian being tested to be who he will be. It’s why this one needs to go back and babysit the two who forgot. While the two in denial do what they were supposed to do. Help Brian past the test.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“How?” I ask, not expecting an answer since they don’t give them.

 

“Why is the better question.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“Because you and your fellow angels did something wrong.” I tell him.

 

“We let you die... and there was no longer light in between.” He tells me, disappearing with Brian.

 

 

 


Chapter 42 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I was walking back to Michael’s, once again confused. Didn’t we fix what happened? I lived a full life with Brian and our kids. It didn’t make any sense at first, until I was walking into Michael’s apartment. It was about a life that we can’t remember. 

 

Michael was sitting on the couch, shaking his head at me when I was about to say something. I didn’t get why until Brian came out of the bathroom and made himself at home, on the sofa I  was going to sleep on.

 

“Guess you didn’t find at least a ten.” I commented going to the kitchen.

 

“I guess you found one.” Brian said.

 

“What?” I ask.

 

“You still haven’t learned to clean up after yourself.” Brian shrugged, making sure Michael didn’t see that it bothered him.

 

“Emmett home?” I ask, ignoring Brian.

 

“He’s busy lowering his standards when he didn’t have to.” Brian tells me.

 

“I’d like to go to bed, since my day is starting earlier than yours.” Michael puts in.

 

“I thought we could hear how it went with the hunky professor.” Brian says, looking at me.

 

“He helped me, but in the end didn’t give me all the things I needed.” I tell him, since it was what he was fishing about.

 

“No one ever will.” Brian says, getting up to leave when he got what he wanted from me. 

 

“It’s why I never bother unless I know it’s going to give me what I want.” Brian says, walking out the door.

 

“He spent the whole night trying to act like it didn’t bother him that you didn’t show up tonight.” Michael tells me.

 

“Did Lindsay show up?” I ask.

 

“Only to watch him, smiling every time he walked into the backroom. So who was the special guest that got Brian’s back up?” Michael asks me.

 

“Our Brian got to stop by. And we need to figure out exactly what our role was, because it sounds like we walked away.” I tell him.

 

“Did you find out why we would?” He asks.

 

“They let me die. And whatever happened after that wasn’t what they expected.” I tell him, guessing.

 

“But you came back and fixed what happened.” He says, remembering.

 

“I don’t think it had anything to do with what happened the last time. We remember that, but not anything about the people they want us to believe we were. Here’s another thing, every time someone starts telling me the story, they only seem to remember parts of it, but can't remember where they read it, or in Vic’s case, the guy who told it to him.” I tell him. 

 

“Why would knowing the story be a big deal?” He asks. 

 

“Because we find out the reason we didn’t want to come back. Gabriel showed up to take Brian back, but told me they let me die and there was no light in between. It sounds like Brian didn’t just go on the way he did in this life.” I tell him.

 

“How could he when he lost a part of his soul, by losing you?” He points out.

 

“Which they didn’t know about Brian and me. Maybe we were never supposed to be soul mates. When you think about it, if I’m the keeper of Light, it means my life couldn’t be lived In Between, with him. Unless there was more than just me who rules the house of Light?” I ask.

 

“I didn’t send him to distract you, just to get your head in the game.” Todd says, making himself comfortable on the sofa.

 

“Why is it important we remember on our own?” Michael asks. 

 

“Rules, rules, and more rules, for angels who needed to remember why they were made.” Todd tells us. 

 

“How can we help Brian if we don't know how to do it?” I ask. 

 

“Aww, it's so sweet to watch you dealing with the mess you made.” A guy appears, floating in front of Todd.

 

Michael stared at the guy as if he was a yummy snack. For me, the guy reminded me of rot and decay. Aesthetically he was beautiful, but everything about him seemed like window dressing to cover something horrific.

 

“At one time, it would have been you wanting me.” He tells me, smiling seductively at Michael. 

 

“I'm available.” Michael says, trying to get closer to him.

 

“Lucifer.” Todd warns, and Michael snaps out of it.

 

“The devil came up to Pittsburgh boys.” Lucifer sings, standing instead of floating.

 

“For what purpose, brother? You know the rules, help us for a reason.” Todd asks.

 

“Aww, protecting your baby still? Too bad you didn't check out why he didn't need protecting from Gabriel’s son. Dad should have let Gabriel rule the underworld, since he hates the Pets more than I do. Well, did, until I saw the possibilities.” Lucifer tells him.

 

“I'm your son?” I ask. 

 

“Lucifer.” Todd says, standing up and changing into body armor complete with wings, light spreading out around me. 

 

“Please tell me I'm not his son.” Michael whimpers, when Lucifer changed into black body armor covered in blood, wings of black, tipped in red. Covering Michael in darkness.

 

“Brother?” Lucifer asks, as if they were just greeting each other.

 

“Holy God!” Emmett squeaks, slamming the door in some guy’s face.

 

“No, Holy Satan, at your service. Stand down Uriel. Believe it or not I'm on your side; the last thing I need is to be overthrown by the In Between.” Lucifer says, changing back into his disguise. “Unlike for you, Dad doesn't make rules for me. Only showed me why he created them.” He points at me and Michael. “I'm not afraid to tell them, since in the end it was your mistake, not mine. In fact maybe they should know. They are the one thing the angels feared more than Father.” Lucifer smirks at Uriel. “See, in creating you three, guess what the angels became?” He asks me.

 

“Nothing.” I answer. 

 

“Exactly, little ball of Sunshine, nothing. They went from being God’s everything, to nothing. No purpose except to serve the wants and needs of the children God created in their image. From being everything they once were, to being the servants of their children in a way. So I guess you could call Uriel ‘Daddy’, but only in the sense that you were created in his image. He performed God’s will, helping people in their decisions, solving problems, resolving conflicts, everything he needed you to do, and no longer needed Uriel for. Gabriel was in charge of life’s purpose and destiny, willing to allow darkness in his life because what is war but darkness, and exactly the kind of image the In Between needed. Now little Mikey here, he got some of me, and a little of Azrael, he had to be able to lead them to heaven or hell, but also be able to serve in Heaven.” He tells us.

 

“What made us not willing to come back?” I ask, tired of waiting for the answer.

 

“You died. Gabriel told you that.” He tells me.

 

“In the life we don’t remember?” I ask.

 

“Exactly.” He says, like it answers anything.

 

“Why would you help us? Lindsay’s here for a reason; your reason. So far the only thing she seems to be doing is trying to make sure Brian is in position to overthrow you.” I tell him

 

“It’s part of the test.” Todd tells me.

 

“He has to show he can navigate both sides.” I said, after thinking about it.

 

“Yes. And the reason you and Michael are here is to show him both sides.” Todd tells us.

 

“Only we stopped, when I died.” I add.

 

“Father hid something from all of us. The house of Light had two heirs, not one.” Lucifer tells me.

 

“Kira?” I ask.

 

“Think harder Sunshine. Todd told you who gave you Kira.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“But only that she was a gift to Brian and me.” I tell him.

 

“He wasn’t giving it to you for leaving, so what other reason would he have?” Lucifer asks.

 

“Don’t turn Raphael's gift to them into something it wasn’t.” Todd tells him.

 

“Then what was it?” I ask, not caring what it was that gave her to us, and then something else jumped in to my thoughts. “Molly.” 

 

“The one who could take your place, but wouldn’t, after my brothers played God with your life.” Lucifer said looking proud of me.

 

“We didn’t know there were two.” Uriel tells me.

 

“You don’t seem to know much of anything.” I tell him.

 

“Rules, rules, rules. They all follow them, only to be blindsided when Father changes them.” He tells us.

 

“Can we break them? Because trickling information only makes me willing to not help either of you.” I tell them.

 

“I’ll break one, then you decide. Instead of letting you survive a certain garage scene, my brothers let you die, and Hobbs got to hell faster than he did later.” Lucifer tells us, disappearing.

 

“Get out.” I tell Todd.

 

“We didn’t know he would expel the light, it’s not a possibility we foresaw.” Todd tells me.

 

“I honestly don’t give a fuck. My life is in constant rewind because you helped him fail. Is that why it changed from a bashing to us being able to get around it? What about all the lives I remembered, are they real or just the way to keep us from questioning this one?” I ask, feeling like I’m about to explode.

 

“Justin, stop what you're doing.” Michael tells me.

 

I looked around and saw lights around us brighter than they should have been, only when Michael touched my arm, they returned to normal. 

 

“So Michael keeps him from going Supernova?” Emmett asks.

 

“And Justin keeps him from a reason Lucifer would want him.” Todd tells us.

 

“Why hasn’t Brian passed whatever bullshit made us keep coming back here?” I ask him.

 

“Brian was given all the answers when you came back again. In this life, he was faced with the obstacles, knowing the end result. So instead of being tested, he found a way around them all.” He tells us.

 

“Vic told me we were being allowed to do it right.” I tell him.

 

“While Father showed us why being jealous of you was wrong and gave you the life you told him you wanted away from your destiny.” He tells me.

 

“What, being God’s messengers wasn’t all you wanted?” I ask, sarcastically.

 

“We were always God’s messengers, creating you didn’t change that. He didn’t create you to replace us, but because we couldn’t see things in the way the three of you can. In our eyes, the minute humans turned their backs on God, it was final. We didn’t give second or third chances. Heaven was emptying, from us not understanding what our Father wanted. When he created the houses, it was to give man a chance to redeem himself. Only, all we saw was it was no longer God’s will, but yours. Brian got sent here to be tested, but why allow you two here to guide him? When it came time for you to go into that garage we stopped Brian from calling out to you.” He tells us.

 

“Meaning he didn’t turn when Hobbs swung.” Michael glares.

 

“And Brian didn’t just break his leg.” Todd said.

 

“And I no longer saw a reason for wanting to serve in God’s house, because he lost his way there too.” I tell him.

 

“But you were still willing to believe in him, and for that he gave you a way to have what we took. Only, now he has to do what he was supposed to do. Help us bring souls back to us.” He tells us.

 

“Since there were so few there, and only the ones we kept bringing back with us.” I tell him, understanding everything.

 

“You kept them on the right path, both of you. It’s why he didn’t forsake you, like we would have.” He tells me, leaving through the door.

 

“Baby, I think you should have asked how you managed to get the sun to shine at midnight.” Emmett tells me, as it starts to get dark again.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 43 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I didn’t sleep and I skipped school, because right now understanding everything was a little more important. I found Marilyn at her place, and waited for her to wake up. I didn’t get what the test was or how Michael and I were supposed to make sure Brian passed. I could tell she didn’t like the questions she could read in my mind, but I have a problem with the fact that Lucifer was the only one willing to tell us. 

 

“He doesn’t lose anything if Brian passes the test.” She tells me, sitting down in front of me.

 

“I don’t understand what the test is.” I tell her.

 

She looked off into space, debating with someone before saying anything. “Brian’s whole life here was the test. Every situation he was put in was a test to see what he would do.” She tells me.

 

“Why did they let me die?” I ask.

 

She blew a huge breath out, before answering me. “You were born without sin. But everything you and Brian did, well it pushed you towards it. They felt like Brian was taking you away from the life you were born to live. When you came here, it was just to watch and see if the darkness was winning in Brian.” She tells me.

 

“Michael was supposed to see that he made the wrong ones?” I ask.

 

“No. Just that Brian could understand why people made the wrong ones.” She tells me.

 

“But they wanted me out of it, which left him to embrace only one side of himself.” I comment out loud.

 

“You balanced him, something they didn’t understand.” She tells me.

 

“How do we help him pass a test, when we don’t have a clue how, or exactly what, the test is?” I ask her.

 

“If you listened to me instead of being angry, you would know.” She tells me.

 

“I’m supposed to stay for years until he passes?” I ask, starting to see what she was telling me for a change.

 

“I don’t think the Big Guy is going to make you live this life all over again. Just get things where they need to be for the other two to come back and take over.” She tells me.

 

“What was prom?” I ask her.

 

“The mistake that splintered this timeline. The first time, you were supposed to survive, just like you did the second time. We were all told to back off and watch what would have happened if no one interfered. He didn’t let you or Brian come back knowing anything, to show the ones who thought they knew better that nothing Brian did would have changed who and what you are. The only reason you’re back now is in hopes that you and Brian are willing to take your places back.” She tells me.

 

“What happens to the life that we were building?” I ask.

 

“Nothing. You can both live it here or in Heaven. The only thing that will be different is that you both know who you really are.” She tells me.

 

“So we live our happy life, but have to make time to do what we were born to do?” I ask.

 

“As strange as it sounds, it’s really that simple.” She tells me.

 

“As long as Brian passes the test?” I ask.

 

“Yes. And one was the night you met. He tempted you, but also took care of you.” She tells me.

 

“The angels didn’t see that?” I ask, starting to feel violated at the idea that there were people watching everything we did.

 

“All they understood was that the Prince of Light was enjoying the darkness that the In Between showed him. One thing you need to understand is that even being who they were, it didn’t mean they were told everything God planned. It’s why they were jealous of you three, they thought he loved you more, and what they were seeing is the loss of sons, the way they lost their brother.” She tells me.

 

“Brian and I talked about it when Uriel let Brian come here, it made sense that no one knew anything about us.” I tell her.

 

“You were both right, and the Angels feared that more.” She tells me.

 

“Gabriel seems more pissed than anything.” I tell her.

 

“Brian is part of him, and seeing what his brothers did is the reason he’s pissed. He’s never been happy about the human race, but only because in everything he did, the wars he fought, and seeing the things humans were given, he never lost his faith in his father. They lost their faith, and let his son be sacrificed for it.” She tells me.

 

“So they really see us as their children?” I ask.

 

“The only ones they could ever have. Uriel didn’t agree for any reason other than the fact that he worried about you.” She tells me.

 

“Sorry, but right now I’m not really feeling like he did anything better than Craig Taylor did.” I tell her, leaving.

 

BRIAN

 

Gabriel stayed at my house, glaring at Justin and Michael. I really didn’t get what his problem was. Gus changed everything when he came stumbling in for breakfast. Gabriel ignored everything but him. 

 

“I never liked the person you and they chose for his mother.” He said, finally speaking.

 

“What about Kira?” I ask him.

 

“I didn’t like why my brother created her, but eventually didn’t care because she was a part of you.” He tells me.

 

“Why would you care about me, remember, I’m one of the Pets?” I ask.

 

“You were created in my image. The Pets call you their children.” He says, smiling down when Gus yanks on his pants.

 

“Jenny’s wet.” Gus tells him, like Gabriel was supposed to do something.

 

“Not any more little one.” He tells him.

 

“Isn’t that cheating?” I ask.

 

“I didn’t sign up for that job.” He smirks at me, which was a bit weird to see when all he ever seemed to do was frown.

 

The frown returned when Justin and Michael came in the house, still bickering about God only knew what this time. I felt like I was just spinning wheels until My Justin returned. It really fucked with my head having to send Justin out of my bedroom every night. 

 

“Why are you still here?” I ask him.

 

“It’s time to bring Kira, the one who can break all the rules, here. Which means you have to get this one (pointing to Justin) to make everyone believe he’s the one they know.” He tells me.

 

“Why can Kira break the rules?” I ask, not liking the idea of my daughter being involved in this.

 

“Father didn’t include her in the group who couldn’t. Loopholes Brian. Learn them and use them.” He tells me, disappearing in front of Justin and Michael.

 

“Dude, seriously what drugs are we on?” Justin asks.

 

How the hell was I going to convince anyone he was the Justin they knew? 

 

“Stay here. Don’t answer the door. And make sure Gus and Jenny aren’t tearing down the house.” I tell them, going to find Ben.

 

I drove around trying to think of where Ben would go. It wasn’t like I really knew that much about what he did without Michael in any life. Eventually I went to Carnegie, since it was the one place he used to go everyday before this life. He was sitting in the middle of campus, just watching the kids walk around. 

 

“I miss this. Being a teacher.” He tells me.

 

“Why did you change this part?” I ask.

 

“At the time, I didn’t know I was changing anything. When I came back, all I wanted to do was stop Michael from fucking up everyone's life.” He tells me.

 

“Being a teacher wouldn’t have changed that, and I think we all underestimated Michael.” I tell him.

 

“Or overestimated Lindsay.” He tells me.

 

“Did you know who we really were?” I ask, not skeptical about any of it. It finally made sense.

 

“What are you talking about?” He asks.

 

“Have you ever heard of Light, Darkness, and In Between?” I ask.

 

“There were myths about it. In fact, it’s where the idea of polytheism started.” He tells me.

 

“Wasn’t Polytheism first?” I ask.

 

“I guess it depends on if you believe in the bible, versus the way we’re taught history. In the beginning and all that. After the Garden of Eden, then we deal with the history of man, not God. Man was given the freedom to believe as they wished, and instead of one God, there were many. The thing you asked about, well it likely caused them to worship more than just God, because their afterlife was no longer decided by God. So they worshiped the sun, Light; the moon, Darkness; even the twilight, In Between. Lucifer became Hades, and so on. Eventually Christianity was born, losing the idea that there were many and returning to the one.” He tells me.

 

“When you think about it, maybe Polytheism wasn’t wrong. Only they lost God and created Zeus in his place.” I tell him, thinking about what I can remember.

 

“And gave power to the three doing God’s will. Which gave them more power in the minds of the people. They worshiped at the altars of the fates.” He adds.

 

“They worship idols, not the gods.” A guy tells us, from behind.

 

“Zain.” Ben whispers, looking like someone hit him with a bus.

 

“Have we met?” Zain asks him, smiling at all that was Ben.

 

“No. Sorry, I saw the name on your backpack.” Ben says, snapping out of it.

 

“My mom is forever acting like I’m still the baby who can’t remember where I put things. Sorry to interrupt you guys, but what you guys were talking about was more interesting than the usual crap about where the next kegger is going to be.” He tells Ben, as he sashays off.

 

“You know him?” I ask.

 

“Not until I leave for Tibet. He never came here.” He tells me. “Why were you asking about all of that?” He asks, ignoring the urge to chase Zain.

 

“It’s why everything has been happening. Light, Darkness, and the In Between were no longer willing to do what they were born to do.” I tell him.

 

“Brian, if any of the stories are true, it also mean souls wouldn’t be able to get into Heaven unless they lived devout lives.” He tells me.

 

“I guess we shouldn’t have left it up to the Angels then.” I tell him.

 

“You, as in you and who?” He asks.

 

“Justin, Michael, and I abandoned our posts, and apparently they want us back.” I tell him.

 

“But you’ve been back, so why would it be a problem?” He asks.

 

“We didn’t come back for the reason we were created.” I tell him.

 

“Justin is Light. Are you Darkness?” He asks.

 

“That would be Michael.” I tell him, letting him guess at the obvious.

 

“Which would make you the most powerful of the three.” He says, not even doubting it a little bit.

 

“Why?” I ask.

 

“They were the watchers. You were the one who made the decisions. There’s also the fact that you were tested for your position, while they were given theirs.” He tells me.

 

“What kind of tests? Think back to my life, and tell me what you would have seen as a test.” I ask him.

 

“Stockwell. You could have handed him the office. And at one point you were willing to do it, only in the end, you didn’t. If you’re the In Between, the reasoning would have been somewhere in the middle of right and wrong.” He tells me.

 

“It was partly me proving to him what happens when you fuck me over. And the other part was that he let a murderer get away with killing someone.” I tell him.

 

“Good and bad in one decision.” He tells me.

 

“Are you going to wait years, or are you going to learn from me and grab your destiny with both hands?” I ask Ben when Zain walks by again, looking at him.

 

“We are supposed to meet in Tibet.” He tells me.

 

“He was never supposed to be here, yet he is. One of the things Justin and I learned through all this was that it didn’t matter where we met, just that we did. Think of all the things you and he can teach each other. Now I’m off to make Justin grow up enough to fool everyone.” I tell him, trying to think of how to help My Justin when I can’t reach him.


Chapter 44 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Michael was at the diner when I walked in, and for once Brian wasn’t here. Michael looked ready to explode, but managed to keep it down and not scream it out for the whole diner when he told me.

 

“We need to stake out the loft. I didn’t think we’d be here that long, but we are, so we might as well find out.” Michael tells me, as if I even get what he’s talking about.

 

“Why?” I ask, not really sure what happened around this time. It took me a second to remember, since nothing was the same as before. “The robbery?” I ask.

 

“I’ve always wanted to know who robbed the loft. With you not living with Brian, if it happens, then he can’t blame you for it.” Michael tells me.

 

“It didn’t happen the last time. Strange, now that I think about it.” I tell him.

 

“You never thought about why it didn't? It still bothers me. I mean, it was the first time I really couldn't condone what Brian did to you.” He tells me. 

 

“I honestly can't remember if I set the alarm.” I tell him. 

 

“It still didn't make what happened your fault.” Michael tells me. “I know there was a part of me that at the time enjoyed the fact that Brian was kicking you out. But not enough to think the way he handled it was right. I thought that at least we could find out the truth this time.” He tells me. 

 

“It didn’t happen again, which was strange.” I tell him. 

 

“Maybe something changed so it didn't.” He tells me. 

 

“Other than that he wasn’t tricking, and pretty much spent all his time with me. He changed his locks and code.” I tell him. 

 

“Maybe it made it so who ever it was never came in contact with Brian the second time. This time, other than him not liking that we spend time together, everything is still sort of what he was doing.” Michael says, trying to soften Brian’s lifestyle.

 

“Well we need him to do those things. I have a feeling it's how they tested him.” I tell him. 

 

“It can't hurt to see if maybe this time they will show up. Then we call and get the guy arrested, call it my sense of justice.” He tells me. 

 

“Hopefully my sister will forgive me for not showing up at her birthday.” I tell him.

 

“Too bad you can't remember if you set the alarm, but then it might not have mattered.” He tells me. 

 

“What do you mean?” I ask. 

 

“Just that the thief still had to get past the locks, so when you think about it, he probably knew he'd have an alarm to deal with, and was prepared for it.” He tells me. 

 

“Have you been thinking about this a lot?” I ask. Since in the end Brian and I made up, I let it go.

 

“It was just one of the mysteries that no one ever solved. None of his stuff was ever recovered, but you don’t rob a place just to keep shit.” He tells me. 

 

“True. Now that I think about, nothing was ever found. Almost like the thief took it somewhere else.” I tell him.

 

“Time to get Zephyr and JT back to watch over Rage.” He jokes.

 

“I think that's what we were supposed to be here for.” I tell him. 

 

“Did you find out anything new?” He asks. 

 

“Enough to get an idea of what this might have started out as, and a clue as to our roles.” I tell him. 

 

“You know, it bothers me what it sounds like mine was.” He tells me. 

 

“I don’t think your role was about being evil, just knowing whether what a person did crossed over to the point that they weren’t redeemable. Thinking about it, it wouldn't make sense to have you and me working together to assess someone. It sounded like we were more two lawyers on opposite sides, with Brian listening to what we thought about the person in the hot seat. I doubt we were brought in if the person wasn’t straddling the line.” I tell him. 

 

“No you weren’t.” Uriel says, waiting to see if I wanted him there.

 

“If your here to distract us, go away.” I tell him. 

 

“I'm only here to help, since you guys know enough now.” He tells me. 

 

“Then answer our questions, not leave us with more.” I say, scooting over.

 

“Why are you being helpful now?” Michael asks.

 

“Gabriel can be a bit apocalyptic where Brian is concerned. Combine that with Brian spreading sin like the black plague if he doesn’t pass the test, and trust me, no one wants to see that happen again.” He tells me.

 

“How did you stop him?” I ask.

 

“By taking our punishment, and by having Father willing to show us what we didn’t understand.” He tells me.

 

“It still doesn’t explain any of you finally helping us.” I tell him.

 

“To deal with the other problems that you can’t this time.” He tells me.

 

“That doesn’t explain anything.” I tell him.

 

“You and Michael are only going to be here to deal with the one test Brian has to pass. After that, you go home. Unfortunately, until the test is over the other two need to be guided to do the job none of you were willing to do anymore.” He tells me.

 

“Why can’t we just say we’ll come back?” I ask him.

 

“When Brian passes the test, then the offer will be given to you. Father seems to like showing us that his faith in you wasn’t as misguided as we were.” He tells me.

 

“Which test was that? Since it seems his whole life here was some test.” I tell him.

 

“Forgiveness. While still not being able to love the person.” He tells us.

 

“His father?” Michael asks.

 

“Close, but Brian managed to deal with him and forgive him in all the time lines.” Uriel tells us.

 

“There’s no way. At least Brian’s father tried. She never did, even when he had cancer.” I tell him.

 

“Did you really think it would be easy?” He tells us.

 

“Actually it might be. Since the other Brian and I visited her. Brian seemed to let go of what she did.” Michael tells me.

 

“We’re dealing with this one.” I remind Michael.

 

“Once again, I’m starting to question your intelligence in all of this. They are one and the same.” Uriel tells me.

 

“This Brian only went near her when he couldn’t avoid it. Even if they are the same person, it doesn’t change the Brian we’re dealing with.” I tell him.

 

“What about Lindsay? Even if Lucifer doesn’t want Brian, it doesn’t change the fact that Lindsay is still going to try to do what she can to get Brian where she wants him.” I tell him.

 

“That’s one of the things we can’t touch. Discourage her, yes. But we have to leave her to try to sway him.” Uriel whispers, as Brian walks in the diner.

 

“From what Lucifer said, he didn’t want that, why won’t he call her off?” Michael asks, not realizing that everyone could hear him, or that Brian was coming towards us.

 

“Likely because Lucifer likes that it pisses off Gabriel.” Uriel whispers. Which didn’t matter, since Brian was already over us.

 

“Interesting conversation. Are Todd and Mikey trying to get you to join a cult with them?” Brian asks, staring at Todd who was sitting next to me.

 

“We were helping Justin with a paper he was looking into writing.” Uriel shrugs, not moving when Brian’s glared, which usually made everyone obey his wishes.

 

“That’s really interesting, since he isn’t at school, but here with you two.” Brian says, sitting next to Michael as if it didn’t matter to him.

 

“Speaking of school, I should get back before they figure out I skipped lunch.” I tell them, getting out of the booth over Uriel, who seemed determined to keep Brian away from me.

 

I managed to get out of the diner, knowing Brian wasn’t about to run after me. Too many eyes and ears at the diner, and they waited around, hoping Brian and I would give them something to gossip about. I only got past the alley when someone yanked me hard enough that I had to either move with them or fall on my face. I didn’t try get away from Lindsay, because there was no one to stop me from making sure she understood exactly who the fuck she was dealing with. One thing she always did was underestimate me. She finally stopped when we were far enough away that no one could hear what was going on.

 

“Get in my way and I’ll make sure that what happens at Prom sounds like a walk in the park.” She says, getting in my face, practically foaming at the mouth as she is threatening me.

 

I can’t even explain to myself what happened. I didn’t really get how it happened when Lucifer showed up. It was like all the anger at the shit we were constantly being pulled into exploded around me. I didn’t even flinch when things started flying away from us. All I could do was feel the rage of not being where I wanted to be; with Brian. And it wasn’t just Lindsay, but all of it hitting me at once. Watching Lindsay panic at what she was seeing only made me want to increase her fear of me, to make her understand exactly how dangerous it was to fuck with my world. With every thought, it was like everything disappeared, and my focus was on destroying anyone who dared to think I wouldn’t protect what was mine. I didn’t hear anything, just watched as Lindsay screamed in pain at whatever it was I was doing. It wasn’t until I felt arms around me, yanking my head to a chest that always gave me strength, and feeling the pain I seemed to cause him by what I was doing.

 

“Go. While I have him, go.” Brian tells her, holding tighter when I tried to turn.

 

“Shit. What the hell was he doing?” Michael asks, sounding winded.

 

It was in that moment that I worried about what I just did, and what would that mean to Brian’s test. I tried to pray.To tell God that if anyone had to be punished, let it be me. Brian kept telling me to stop, holding me to him. Somehow, whatever was happening stopped, and it was then I noticed the lack of noise around us.

 

“He’s coming down.” Brian says, to whoever was standing there.

 

“Uriel, what the hell was that?” Michael asks.

 

“Brian, I’m sorry.” I tell him.

 

“It’s okay. Just breathe.” Brian tells me, pulling my face up to look at him.

 

I looked around, only to see people frozen, except for one guy who seemed to be watching us. He smiled at me, then nodded at Uriel, who stared at him as if he was in shock at seeing the guy. None of us moved as he came closer to us. For some reason I knew to wait for him, without knowing why I stood there.

 

“Metatron, to what do we owe the honor of your visit?” Uriel asked, sounding less confident than normal.

 

“I felt the light. Something I haven’t felt in years. I came to make sure he didn’t wipe the earth of the sinners.” Metatron said, looking at me as if I meant something to him. 

 

“Helping him is more important. Then no one will stop you from doing what you were created for. Rely on Darkness because he feeds off you the way you feed off him, and both of you strengthen the In Between. What you did will not affect what you still have to do. It’s time for me to send Brian back, and hope my brothers see why you and Brian were soulmates.” He says, looking at Uriel.

 

“How do we feed off of each other?” Michael asks, coming closer to Metatron.

 

“If left only in light, Justin becomes less likely to see the good in man, just the sins. You crave the sin, but without Justin, no sin would be eternal damnation in your eyes, because there’s nothing you wouldn’t excuse. Feeding isn’t the vampire you dreamed up just a minute ago, but that both of you don’t condemn based only on what your houses taught you.” He tells us.

 

“So why was I needed?” Brian asks.

 

“To help the watchers and guide the soul to the right place. Only the In Between could take a soul to Lucifer and not be tempted by all the sin he sees. Just as he couldn’t be swayed by any beings in Heaven to hand over an unworthy soul even if Heaven needed them. Now we need to go, but I’ll allow you to say good-bye.” He tells Brian.

 

Uriel and Michael followed him away from us. Brian kissed me like we’d been apart lifetimes, and it felt that way.

 

“I can’t believe I haven’t seen you in a year.” Brian tells me, looking deeply into my eyes.

 

“What do you mean? You were here a day ago.” I tell him, looking at Metatron.

 

“Time isn’t moving at the same rate, Brian has been busy making sure everything is ready when you do what you and Michael need to do.” He tells us.

 

“Brian never lived a life that didn’t include her.” I tell him, willing to believe it to get home to my Brian.

 

“He would do whatever it takes to be with you. His forgiveness also releases him from the pain of wanting something they were never capable of giving him.” He tells me.

 

“Justin, he’s right. I might act like what you wanted didn’t matter to me, but you always saw past the bullshit to the truth.” He tells me.

 

“What are you doing?” I ask, only wanting every second we have together.

 

“Bringing our daughter home.” He tells me, disappearing.

 

Uriel looked puzzled when nothing started moving around us. Only, looking around we all noticed my sonic boom was being repaired around us. When the silence was filled with noise again, it was like nothing happened here. Michael came over and hugged me, shaking.

 

“That’s some scary shit. I don’t even want to know what I could do.” He whispers.

 

“You know, school for you isn’t hanging out in an alley with Michael and Todd.” Brian glares at Michael, who rolls his eyes at Brian’s unending jealousy when it comes to me and Michael.

 

I stopped next to Uriel and whispered in his ear. “No one is going to stop me from making sure she can’t escape her cage this time. Warn your brother from downunder, now that I know how to do what I was born to do.” Then I kissed him on the cheek, just to see Brian come unglued.

 

“Are you done thinking I give a shit who you flirt with, twat?” Brian says, as if he could care less, but yanked me away to contradict himself.


Chapter 45 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Emmett of course, insisted on coming with Michael and me when we told him what we were doing. Ted sacrificed himself to keep Brian occupied while we staked out the loft. To keep my mind off what I did the day before, Michael and I debated reasons the robbery happened, and then didn’t. One of the things Michael mentioned was that Brian was the only one robbed in the building. It was why Michael thought the thief had to be someone targeting Brian specifically. We came up with some odd theories for why the items were never recovered, one being the person wanted things that belonged to Brian for their shrine. Michael swore it wasn’t him, jokingly, saying he only ever had photos, and never once covered his walls with anything but Captain Astro. 

 

We weren’t even sure if anything would happen this time. But I think after what I did, even Michael thought we needed to find something we could do now to feel like we’d accomplished something. Michael didn’t ask what happened in the alley, but eventually I would tell him. Because even changed, Michael still would do just as much as I would to protect Brian. Only, I didn’t know if Michael’s power or whatever it was, worked the same way. I thought a lot about what Metatron said, that the only time I seemed to do what I did, I wanted to decimate someone. Which sounded less light and more dark to me.  

 

We waited around the side of the building, not seeing anybody go in the building after Brian left. It was already after my sister’s party. But I hadn’t come back immediately, so if it was going to happen there was still time. A guy walked to the building, then went in as if he lived there. It was no one either of us recognized. We waited long enough for him to get in and watched as a van drove up, idling at the curb. The engine cut off as the first guy came out with a computer monitor. Michael called the cops, reporting it, while I studied the first guy to make sure they would have a description. It wasn’t until the driver got out that I knew I didn’t need anything to help with his description. 

 

“It make sense now.” I tell Emmett and Michael.

 

“What?” Emmett asks, looking away from the thieves.

 

“Hotlanta was at the loft a few days before the robbery.” I said, wishing I could go back and tell the Justin that left upset, what this trick did for Brian.

 

“Michael was right, he kept saying Brian should have expected it with all the people he let in and out of the loft.” Emmett tells us.

 

We waited around, hiding until the police and Brian arrived, before going to the diner. Emmett made sure not to discuss anything until Ted and Brian showed up a couple of hours later. It was slow enough that no one cared that we hung out there. While we waited, Michael asked about the alley.

 

“Both times, it was like everything that pissed me off was burning to get out of me. I was thinking I wanted Lindsay to pay for everything Brian and I dealt with, to make her scream with pain. I didn’t hear or see anything else around me, all my focus was on her.” I tell him.

 

“What you did was different than at my place, because the closer we got to you, the more it felt my insides were being stabbed. The other night none of that happened.” Michael tells me.

 

“The sun came out, let’s not forget that.” Emmett tells us.

 

“You felt pain?” I ask, remembering thinking Brian felt what I was doing.

 

“Only when we got closer to the tornado of shit swirling around you.” Michael tells me.

 

“According to Metatron, he felt me, and worried I was wiping sinners from the earth.” I remind Michael. 

 

People started coming in and sitting near us, so we just talked about the things like would would in the past. Brian and Ted came in, sitting with us. I waited to see what Brian would say, because in essence he was tricked by his own trick. Which only I would know, since none of the other guys met Hotlanta. 

 

“Brian almost got robbed.” Ted tells us, and we all managed to convincingly act surprised.

 

“Fuckers even tried to take my suits.” Brian growls.

 

“Did you set your alarm?” I ask, because it felt good to ask him what he accused me of.

 

“I always set it.” He says, sarcastically.

 

“Not true. There were a few times we had to go back because you forgot.” Michael tells him.

 

“I called the alarm company and it was set.” Brian tells him, pissing me off. Something I would have to ask my Brian when I saw him next.

 

“So the alarm got them caught?” I ask, just not willing to let this go.

 

“No, the guy managed to bypass it. Since he had the code.” Ted tells us, enjoying outing Brian.

 

“Did he say how he knew it?” Emmett asks.

 

“Yep. Apparently Brian punched it in right in front of him as he was kicking the guy out the other night. I really love this part, Brian gave him the tour of all the things the guy was planning to steal.” Ted says, ignoring Brian’s glare.

 

“Was he taking it back to Atlanta?” I ask, avoiding seeing if Brian picking up on something I wouldn’t know.

 

“Apparently he and his partner work up and down the coast, selling the stuff to people who fence it for them. They’ve been doing this for a while. One goes home with the owner and scopes out the place. One of the guys involved got away, but since he was at the gym hitting on Brian, they got him too.” Ted tells us, having way too much fun with this.

 

“I guess you got fucked and tricked, how does it feel?” I ask, leaving him to deal with it.

 

Michael started to get up but I shook my head. As much as if felt good to know, and as pissed as I am about it, Brian still had a right to be pissed that someone invaded his home. I had a priest to see anyway, and the way Brian seems to constantly find me, meant Michael needed to keep Brian with him.

 

I walked into the church, watching as Tom knelt in prayer. I didn’t get it, why choose the Catholic Church? Especially when the collar didn’t stop him from what his religion condemned. I sat in the second row, letting him have his moment in front of the altar. My reason for being here wasn’t him, but he was the son Joan wished for. Hard not to see the hilarity in that one.

 

Tom (I just couldn’t call someone I once fucked, Father)  got up from his prayers, turning to see me. He tried to hide the interest when he sat in front of me.

 

“If you need to talk, I’m available.” He said, not sounding suggestive, even though the ending could be.

 

“I was thinking about sin.” I tell him.

 

“The Devil's playground.” He says, still checking me out. 

 

“Yes it is, but it's more of a phrase that I doubt Lucifer coined. Hate the sin and not the sinner. To me, they’re one and the same. It sounds like a way to excuse yourself for your deeds.” I tell him. 

 

“Another way to look at it would be that the person the sin affected needs to see a way to forgive the sinner in order to ascend to Heaven with a pure soul.” He tells me. 

 

“Yet the sinner sins, believing the door will still welcome them as long as they keep the faith while sinning. Trust me, it doesn’t work that way.” I tell him.

 

“Why do you say that?” He asks.

 

“I guess I’m worried about your flock, and hope your leadership doesn’t land them in purgatory.” I tell him, since Joan was still there.

 

“I lead as written in the bible. Even with guidance, I can’t always save everyone.” He tells me.

 

“No, not if they don’t see what they did as wrong.” I tell him.

 

“Hopefully their faith will see them through Heaven’s Gate.” He tells me.

 

“Faith will only get them to the Gate. Understanding why it won’t open means they stand outside because they were never absolved of the sin they don’t believe they committed.” I tell him.

 

“Which is why we give them a way to do that here. The Confessional allows them the privacy and anonymity they sometimes need in order to face what they did.” He tells me.

 

“Thank-you.” I tell him, getting an idea of how to deal with Joan.

 

“If you ever need to debate theology, I’m here.” He tells me.

 

“How do you deal with your hypocrisy?” I ask, as I start towards the door.

 

“I don’t understand what you mean.” He says, confused at the question.

 

“According to the Catholic Church, being gay means you shouldn’t be standing in front of the pulpit, and I shouldn’t worship here unless I repent. Is there something I missed in the Bible that says you get a day off for the baths? Let me know where you find it in your Bible, I’d love to debate that.” I tell him, walking out the door.

 

Uriel was standing outside the door laughing his ass off. “How do you plan to get in the confessional with Joan?” He asks, not making me happy that he could read my mind.

 

“Well Dad, I guess I need you, and hopefully Joan’s sherry soaked brain will listen.” I tell him.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 46 by starlight

MICHAEL

 

Brian took off when Mel called him. Which left me wanting to know more about me. Seeing what Justin could do scared me into worrying about what I was capable of doing. I’d been avoiding Ben, since what we had in this life was a trainwreck. Because I wanted Brian, even when Ben tried to be everything I wanted. Ma was still after me to call David and I did, just to blow off his suggestion that we go out to some exclusive restaurant he took me to before, one I didn’t like but pretended to like for him.

 

I sat in the back, watching Ben debate with his students, remembering when I stood up there, trying to talk about comics. Ben, if nothing else, never made me feel like he was just patting me on the head, patronizing me the way David did in front of his friends.

 

“Why would he? You were the best he expected to get.” Lucifer said, appearing next to me.

 

I hated how I wanted to touch him, but resisted when I thought about how in essence the angels were our parents.

 

“Trust me, what you got from me, doesn’t make you anything to me.” He says, reading my thoughts.

 

“Why are you here?” I ask.

 

“Bored. Can you imagine? I mean, normally corrupting souls entertains me, but somehow even that isn’t working right now.” He tells me.

 

“Since you’re willing to spill, what can I do?” Michael asks.

 

“Worried that Justin was the only one with all the cool tricks?” He jokes.

 

“No, I’m more worried that what I can do would be more like a nuclear bomb in comparison.” I tell him.

 

“Not really. Apparently Father wasn’t too happy when I helped the guy create one, so no, nothing so delightfully deadly for you.” He says, looking disappointed by it. “By the way, Ben wouldn’t be able to give you answers either.” 

 

“Why?” I ask.

 

“Everything had to be fair, and the same when you guys help Brian this time. So Ben, Vic, or anyone else who could tell you the history of you was left to forget where they knew anything, after giving you the basics.” He tells me.

 

“Take this any way you want, but why help?” I ask.

 

“Because regardless of the way the Bible tells the story of me, the end of the world wouldn’t benefit me. The Bible got it close, but not right, since Father would allow all souls to ascend to him, not descend down to me. I’d lose the chance to fill Hell, while Father filled Heaven and would likely have made it so his next creation wasn’t one I could play in. Something my selfish little soul couldn’t take, if I had a soul.” He tells me.

 

“So are you going to give me a clue about what I can do?” I ask.

 

“I really wouldn’t have to, just let you near someone who sins all in the name of their faith. While you like sin, your house hates sin mislabeled as anything but what it is. It’s why the ball of sunshine planning to deal with Joan would be better without you. Even if he doesn’t realize it’s why he really wanted to keep you out of it.” He tells me.

 

“Stalling, or just can’t tell me what I can do?” I ask again.

 

“He knows better.” The guy in front of us turns to look at us.

 

“You know, I hate the day you showed up.” Lucifer tells Metatron.

 

“I’m sure you did, but anything that took attention from you, you hated.” Metatron argues.

 

“No. You were always so self righteous, thinking you were something special because Father used you to talk to the Pets.” Lucifer tells him, crossing his arms and acting like a petulant child. It really wasn't fun to see something we shared in common.

 

“Should you guys be talking like this in front of everyone?” I ask. Although, taking a look around, no one even seems to notice us.

 

“I don’t see any reason Darkness can't know.” Lucifer tells him, ignoring me.

 

“Neither do I. But like Justin, Michael has to figure it out himself. Once he does the secrets no longer matter, because they will both remember who they once were.” Metatron says, disappearing, while Lucifer smiled.

 

“There you have the answer as to why they’ve been stingy with the details. Now you asked what would happen when you power up? Easy, he’s the sun, you’re the moon, the world would go dark and the person you target can’t get away from seeing the truth of their sin. And as for what happens, they get to see their sins through the eyes of the person they sin against. Do yourself a favor, stay away from serial killers, those are my domain.” He tells me, vanishing.

 

Lovely, I was like a theater that played ‘this is your life’. Everyone was packing up when I looked around. Ben was smiling at me. I smiled back, wishing him a good life, something he found away from me. There was a part of me that wondered if he had left for Tibet when he planned to, would he have found happiness sooner?

 

JUSTIN

 

As much as we all thought Joan lived in the church, it took a few days before she showed up. I watched as she stumbled slightly trying to get in a pew. Then she bent her head, praying away.

 

“If only she knew she would have done better loving Brian than praying for his soul. The one who decided where hers went.” Uriel tells me.

 

“In the book she lives by, Brian’s life was condemned.” I tell him, not liking that I was defending anything Joan did.

 

“Not everything was wrong, just up to the interpretation of man.” He tells me.

 

Joan got up and went to confession when she was done. Uriel waited until Joan was behind the curtain to encourage Tom to leave, making it easier for me to replace him.

 

“My children are straying from the path. My guidance falls on deaf ears.” Joan was saying as I sat down.

 

“Why do you feel you know what your children should do when you did nothing to protect them? Your guidance was flawed when you left them to whatever fate awaited them behind your door.” Justin asks.

 

“I can’t control what my husband does.” Joan says, as if what she did wasn’t worse.

 

“No. But you can control your ignorance to the sins committed against your children by you. Not honoring you could be excused, since you didn’t honor them as the gifts God gave you to protect. Your faith won’t save you or get you to Heaven, since every sin you commit must be forgiven, not justified or ignored.” I tell her.

 

“I didn’t do anything to them.” She excuses herself.

 

“Other than judge them as if it was your place. Or did you skip that part of the Bible?” I ask.

 

I heard nothing on the other side, other than Joan leaving. Hoping when Brian’s father died, she did what this Brian would need for him to be able to forgive her. 

 

Uriel wasn’t there when I came out, not that I wanted him to be. I left going to Michael’s place, only to find Brian standing there with Gus in his arms.

 

“I need you to keep Gus. If Lindsay calls, you don’t have him.” Brian tells me.

 

“What’s going on?” I ask.

 

“Mel and I managed to get a judge to look over the paperwork. If he signs, we can keep her away from Gus.” Brian tells me.

 

“You’re trusting me with Gus?” I ask.

 

“Of course.” He says, like I should have known better than to ask.

 

Chapter 47 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I wasn’t really sure what Brian was doing, but doubted Lindsay would dare come near me again. Michael came in, smiling when he saw Gus. 

 

“Do you think Jenny will be born in this life now?” Michael asked, sitting next to me.

 

“I think she will. We were planning to adopt her, after finding her with Gus.” I tell him.

 

“What about Mel? I know Ted said something about her and her girlfriend wanting to adopt her.” Michael asks, since he wasn’t in the loop the way he was here.

 

“She backed out when Maryanne changed her mind. We were going to wait, but it’s not like Mel couldn’t be a part of her life.” I tell him.

 

“You and Brian made up for what I wasn’t doing for her. I guess you two always will.” Michael tells me.

 

“Or you could actually be there this time. I have a feeling your life is intertwined with ours.” I tell him.

 

“I found out what I can do, unfortunately Lucifer told me. I also found out that when we both can do what we do, we’ll also remember everything about who we were.” Michael tells me.

 

“We need to get you to do it. That way we aren’t screwing up.” I tell him.

 

“I need someone who doesn’t see their sin as a sin. Well, the way Lucifer told me, basically someone like Joan, or we can try for a serial killer.” Michael says, hoping to avoid the last one.

 

“Because they don’t see what they do as a sin, it makes sense.” I tell him, thinking it was strange that I didn’t want Michael with me when I went to see Joan.

 

“Lucifer told me you were dealing with Brian’s mom.” He tells me.

 

“The only time Brian saw her after we met was at the funeral. Unless he saw her without telling us.” I tell him.

 

“If he did, I didn’t know about it either.” Michael tells me.

 

“How did you get Gus?” Michael asks.

 

“I guess Brian and Mel managed to get someone to agree to review the information they had. He told me not to let Lindsay know I had Gus. Which I’m sure, after what happened at the diner, shouldn’t be much of a problem.” I tells him.

 

“We also need to find someone I can try what I do, on. It would be better to do it at night, since apparently that’s what it will be if what I do works.” Michael tells me.

 

“Hey guys, anything fun and scary today?” Emmett says, coming in and taking Gus from me.

 

“Not yet, but the day isn’t not over.” I joke.

 

We waited for either Brian or Mel to show up to get Gus. Wanting to know what happened today. They came together a couple of hours later, both looking relieved but tired. Mel took Gus in her arms, hugging him. 

 

“How did it go?” I ask.

 

“They agreed to let Brian and I be his sole guardians for now. Lindsay has ninety days to contest it, but they will also require she be seen by a court appointed psychiatrist, since we had enough to show that she’d been neglecting Gus.” Mel tells us.

 

“How were you able to do that?” Emmett asks.

 

“She left him in a car while she was doing whatever she was doing. We were lucky, a cop noticed and took her in, calling me to come when she told him to.” Mel tells us.

 

“Where is she now?” Michael asks.

 

“Her sister got her out when I wouldn’t, so I have no clue. The judge was willing to look at what we had, because of what Lindsay did today.” Mel tells him.

 

“That’s why you took off earlier?” Michael asked.

 

“I needed him, because he’s still Gus’s father on paper. Without him, they could have sent Gus to Lindsay’s family. Brian made sure the judge allowed me to be the other guardian, and agreed that since I’d been the one raising Gus, that it was better for him to say with me. I’m going to get Gus home. Thank-you Brian.” Mel tells us.

 

“I’ll come by later.” Brian tells her, not acknowledging the thank-you. He took her out and helped her get Gus into her car before coming back in.

 

“I’ll pick you guys up later. Drinks are on me.” Brian tells us, then leans down and kisses me, not giving a shit how it looked to everyone. “Never doubt how much I trust you.” He says, leaving me standing there.

 

“Hopefully the guys at Babylon distract him tonight, or we are going to have a hard time getting you away from him.” Michael tells me.

 

“Just bring up that he loves me, and we won’t have to worry about it.” I tell Michael, not even bothered, since it only proved the opposite to me now.

 

MICHAEL

 

When we first got to Babylon, Brian was practically keeping Justin glued to his side. He’d been eyeing the crowd but hadn’t taken up any offers. Instead he was all over Justin.

 

“Well when you think about it, his last trick tried to rob his ass.” Ted tells us, still enjoying it.

 

“I need Justin to come with me, since if I go too far when I try this, it’s likely he can stop me.” I tell them. Not really sure, since it took Brian to stop Justin.

 

“Do you have someone in mind? Apparently Justin didn’t want you near Joan.” Emmett asks.

 

“I thought about Lindsay, but she knows what she’s doing and why, and Justin’s reaction to her isn’t something I want to see again.” I tell them.

 

Brian let go of Justin when he whispered in his ear. Making Brian scowl at what he heard and head straight to the backroom. 

 

“What did you say to him?” I ask.

 

“I said it was sweet of him to show all the guys who he belongs to.” Justin tells me.

 

“We’ll stay here, so get moving.” Emmett tells us.

 

“Yeah. While I can still pretend nothing is going on.” Ted tells us.

 

Justin and I walked out of the bar together, and got the hell out of there before Brian could stop us. I was still trying to figure out who try this on, when Justin suggested we go to the football game together at his school. Like either of us watched it or cared about it.

 

“Why are we here?” I asked him.

 

“Because lust is a sin, something that Hobbs won’t admit his problem with me is; instead he denies it for what it is. Hopefully it’s enough to get you to do what you do.” Justin tells him.

 

“You do realize were going to be fucking with the guy who tried to kill you.” I tell him.

 

“Only when my back was turned, and I doubt he'll be in any shape after you’re done.” Justin tells me.

 

Justin told me to wait behind the bleachers when the game was over, since all the other kids were going to an after party. Which Daphne told him when we ran into her. She was willing to skip out on her friends she came with if Justin wanted her to. Justin told her he was meeting Brian, and that seemed to upset her, until some guy called her name. When the game was over Justin made a point to be where Chris could see him, not leaving the crowd until most of them left the stadium. I watched as Chris got in his car and left, thinking it was a bust, only to see Chris park at the other end of the parking lot and come in the other entrance. He watched Justin and followed him when he came towards me. At first nothing happened, other than me wanting to keep the fucker from Justin. Only, Justin acted like I was the reason he came back here and wrapped his arms around me, nibbling at my neck, which seemed to enrage Chris.

 

I was seeing the thoughts run through Chris’s head. He was angry Justin made him feel the way he felt watching us. Justifying it because he thought faggots should be erased from the earth. In the back of his mind behind the lie he was telling himself was the truth and how he wanted Justin to disappear. Justin let me go, backing away as I saw nothing but denial to the sins of lust, envy, and why he targeted the students he did, before Justin. He was following on the path of everything his father taught him was right. Once again finding a way to justify what he was doing and pushing the blame away from himself.

 

Every inch of me sizzled as I weaved my way through his sins. They were delicious. I wanted to feel everything his sins did to someone. So I ran the memories of his past through him, replacing his victims with himself. Watching as he felt the hate he’d inflicted on the people in his past. I shivered at each one, as if they were erotic touches all over me. As he screamed I took him to the future, wanting to see the blood cover him the way it covered Brian and Justin. Chris was on his knees and it wasn’t enough, I wanted him to feel the pain of every person who had someone like Chris in his life.

 

“Michael. Stop.” Justin tells me, not understanding this was better than anything I’d ever felt.

 

There wasn’t any light around, just my world. Until I felt Justin inching his way past the barrier around me. He covered Chris with it, breaking me away. I looked around and the clouds moved away until the moon was once again shedding light around us. Chris was shivering on the ground and crying. He screamed when Justin took the shield off of him. Justin didn’t help Chris, just passed by him, leading me away from him. 

 

“He’ll never get past Heaven’s gate.” I tell Justin.

 

“He never did. Now I’m ready to finish this.” Justin assures me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 48 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Keeping Michael from exerting his new found power wasn’t fun, since everyone sins and will lie to themselves about it. Hell, his possessiveness of Brian in this life made sense, because although Brian wouldn’t lie to himself, sinning was something Brian had no problem feeding to Michael. 

 

When we left Chris on the ground, the past that was hidden started coming in waves at us. Michael and I didn’t get along, but could function together when we were sent to judge people. It also clued me in as to why I was allowed to come and help people cross over. Even though I didn’t know who I was, I wouldn’t have brought them to Heaven if they weren’t supposed to be there. 

 

Michael and I pieced together how this all started and ended so badly. Unlike us, Brian wasn’t trained from birth, but born on earth. He was given a life where he saw the worst of the human race at home, but was able to see that it wasn’t the only way life had to be. When Michael and I were told we were to watch and guide Brian towards who he would be, I remember not really wanting to do it, not understanding why he wasn’t trained like we were. Only the first time I saw him, my objections disappeared, only wanting to be with him. I spent my entire life not believing there was a reason to sin. While Michael’s life was spent weaving through the sins and looking for the truth; whether they really understood what they were doing and saw the error in their ways. Uriel had to stand by while I went against what I was raised to believe, but to me it also made me less of a self-righteous prick. Something God explained when they let me die. He needed me to see past the sin to the true heart of the person sinning. At the time I was angry at what my death did to Brian.

 

Brian no longer cared about anything, only wanting people to hurt for what had happened to me. Chris didn’t survive the garage either, and what Chris did to me was nothing compared to what Brian did to him. Brian gave in to the part of him that had Michael’s power, and he didn’t need a bat, just the mind of the person he wanted to punish. He could drag someone through their sins and leave them to go insane, reliving what they did to every person harmed by their sins. Joan killed herself to get away from what she let happen to Brian. He repeated it with everyone he knew, eventually to be stopped when Michael and I both walked away from our lives to save Brian’s and the people he was punishing for losing me.

 

God was angry at his angels for interfering, and while I agreed with his anger, I didn’t want my father punished for what he thought he was doing out of love for me. There was only one condition, eventually the test would start again, and when it was over we would be given the chance to resume our path in life, but only if we agreed once it was over for us. Brian only had to past one test, forgiveness for the sins that were committed against him.  

 

Everything was reset, allowing us to live it over without the test, so he could show them there was a reason he put Brian and me together. He bound us together, because Michael, as Brian’s friend and Darkness, liked everything Brian did, where I would show Brian the kind of love and compassion his parents drove out of him. We were doing everything right until Lindsay interfered, and we were allowed to reset again only after Brian died, and showing he didn’t do what he did. We were allowed to live and love each other, raise our family and be willing to do it again, only this time was our time to prove Brian was the right choice for the In Between. Then this timeline would continue, allowing us to go back to where the new life was already in progress. 

 

“Are you going to want to go back to who we were?” Michael asks.

 

“It’s hard to not want to, knowing what we can do, but I also want the life Brian and I had without all of it.” I tell him.

 

“Since I haven’t met Conner, it’s hard for me to care about anything but the feeling I got from what I do. There was a point where I wanted to lash out at you for stopping me, but knowing what Brian did when there was no one to stop him, stopped me. When you covered Chris, instead of the pain I felt when you tried to annihilate Lindsay, I felt warm and cared for.” Michael tells me.

 

“What you were doing ran through me, but didn’t hurt me. It was like you were feeding me the information on how tainted Chris already was and that there was nothing we could do to save him. It’s why I stopped you. He failed his test by not asking for forgiveness.” I tell him.

 

“So we wait again?” Michael asks. 

 

“Only if you want to, I have a few people I want to deal with.” I tell him.

 

“As long as you both play within the rules.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“Are you going to watch over us, Daddy?” I ask.

 

“I might as well, since I really want to kill the both of you slowly after watching the nightmare Brian is dealing with, with you in the other life.” He tells us.

 

“What rules do we play by?” Michael asks.

 

“Anyone you two play with has to be judged before you do anything that could sway them.” He tells us.

 

“Why would it matter?” I ask.

 

“Because they have to go in the direction they were going of their own free will. Anything you do to Lindsay won’t matter because she made a deal with Lucifer, not understanding he created loopholes for anything she would try to use to escape her fate. She had to create Gus, because like Brian, he has to have both in order to live In Between. Each one of you has a successor, because each house was created so the burden doesn’t rest only on the three leading the houses. Eventually they’ll do the same, taking over for each of you when it’s time for them to be tested.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“Gus, Molly, and Jenny?” I ask.

 

“Yes. That is the reason why they were always in a timeline with the three of you.” He tells us.

 

“What about Kira?” I ask.

 

“Kira was originally created to stop Brian. Only Father wouldn’t let Raphel send her. Instead you were given memories of a life that would happen if Lindsay hadn’t influenced you and Brian to give up the life you could have had together with the addition of Kira. Hoping you’d eventually live it and no longer be unwilling to return to what you were created to do.” He tells me.

 

“It sounds like I was being tested too.” I tell him.

 

“There was no need to test you. You were the perfect creation for what light needed. Only they weren’t willing to understand why you could love a man who could walk between the two. None of us were created to love, or be loved. Only, Father didn’t want your lives to be ones of loneliness, the way the angels were. So he gave you the one thing he didn’t give us, the ability to love more than him.” He tells us.

 

Gabriel followed us as we decided we needed food. Which, after what Michael did with Chris, had him devouring everything he could get his hands on, while enjoying all that was gluttony. When we got to the diner, the men were eyeballing everything about Gabriel. Objectively he was everything anyone could want, and ended up getting a few feel ups as he sat down.

 

“I could smite you.” Gabriel said to a guy who tried to feel the corded muscles Gabriel had in spades.

 

“Honey, smite away as long as it’s while I’m riding you.” The guy flirted, as he walked away showing off to the others.

 

I decided my life was being jerked around when Gabriel dragged my ass into his side of the booth.

 

“Scared of the pets?” I ask.

 

“Understanding why the apocalypse wouldn’t be a bad thing.” He tells me.

 

“Wow, where did you find this bruiser?” Deb asks, petting Michael’s head.

 

“He was wandering around lost in the new world of gay men.” I joked.

 

“I’ll order him a double of what you two eat.” Deb says.

 

“I do not eat.” Gabriel informs her.

 

“Honey the boys here only care if you eat them. But me, I feed you before you play, and you will eat what I tell you.” Deb tells him, walking away before Gabriel could close his mouth at her audacity in speaking to him that way.

 

He only stared at the plates of food she delivered later, pulling a fry out when she stood over him. We watched as he put it in his mouth. Then Michael was fighting to keep his food from Gabriel.

 

“Don’t you just love all the things being you denied you.” Lucifer says, bumping Michael over.

 

Justin had to sit on Gabriel when he tried to grab Lucifer by the neck. 

 

“He’s always been a hot head. Remember brother, I didn’t lose any of my abilities just because I fell from grace, but you lost any chance at a sense of humor.” Lucifer says, biting into a burger and moaning so every guy in the diner would willingly fall with him.

 

“They are untouchable for you.” Gabriel tells him.

 

“I only wanted them to use their abilities. My little pet is getting above herself. My son will not be a part of her little game. It’s time to send her home anyway, the test is almost over.” Lucifer tells him.

 

“As in real son, or…” Michael says, putting down his burger.

 

“Yes. He wasn’t supposed to show up until later, and take over when Brian walked away from everything for little Sunshine here.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“Who?” Michael asks.

 

“The one who opens the barn door, but ended up not getting the prize. All for the love of his life.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“He also despises you.” Gabriel smiled.

 

“Children rebelling against all the things we want to give them, but then yours did too.” Lucifer tells him.

 

“Hello, and who are you?” Deb asks, stopping when she saw a new face.

 

“Luc…”

 

“A friend of a friend, Ma.” Michael tells her, cutting him off.

 

“At your service, anytime.” Lucifer flirts with her.

 

“Honey, you couldn’t handle the service I’d expect.” Deb tells him, leaving when the next order was called.

 

“Don’t hit on my mother.” Michael tells him.

 

“Just fun, Mikey. Now will you two help me?” Lucifer asks.

 

“Why would we need to, you should be able to deal with your pet.” I tell him.

 

“Because he stupidly gave his son enough power to override him. Now Brandon is using his powers without realizing he’s doing it. Now his pet is using it to keep Lucifer from touching her.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“Which she’ll understand when she sees the part of hell no one ever wants to see. But in order for that to happen I have to be able to send her there, without killing my son.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“Neither can they, since she was already sent there.” Gabriel tells him.

 

“Yes, but they can distract my son. Something Lindsay has no way of stopping, since she doesn’t have what interests him.” Lucifer tells them.

 

“Brandon was never interested in either of us.” Michael tells him.

 

“You no, but this one, yes. It seems they all want to spoil the innocence he sends out like a beacon, and my son wasn’t immune to it either.” Lucifer points at me.

 

“Lovely, I’m supposed to distract the antichrist.” I say, rolling my eyes.

 

“Is anyone we know normal?” Michael asks.

 

For some reason neither Lucifer or Gabriel bothered to answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 49 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

Lucifer was stingy on the details, but could at least tell us where Brandon was, since he didn’t come to Babylon. I never really thought much about it, but Brandon was only a few years older than me, and his club of choice was BoyToy. Gabriel sneered at anyone who looked at me sideways, apparently worried about my virtue, which was long gone by this point.

 

“Since chatty is clamming up, do you have any idea how Lindsay is using Brandon?” I ask.

 

“My son, as Gabriel says, likes to rebel, and since Lindsay is the current thorn in my side, he let her hang out with him.” Lucifer tells us, licking his lips at a half dressed twink.

 

“Which keeps her safe, how?” I ask.

 

“The same way you kept Michael from driving Chris insane. You shielded the little morsel that brings hours of fun to the truly evil in hell.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“He shields her, but he doesn’t know he does it?” Michael asks.

 

“Yes he does, but distract him and I can get her home.” Lucifer tells us.

 

“Is that all we were here for, to distract him? Because there's a whole club willing to do that for you.” I point out, since Brandon had most of the eyes in the room.

 

“He will not distract your son in that way.” Gabriel growls.

 

“Not in any lifetime.” I told Lucifer.

 

Brandon was playing at the game Brian had already mastered at his age, disinterest. It would have worked if he hadn’t looked at me. I could see why guys wanted him, but he’d never have what Brian had in spades. He didn’t even pay attention when Lindsay handed him a drink, trying to stay as close to him as possible. I didn’t see the problem, until Brandon saw Lucifer. What I saw then looked like a bubble inflating around him and it encompassed Lindsay and a few others close by. 

 

“How does he not know he’s capable of creating that around him?” Michael asks, walking closer until he ended up inside it.

 

“My son hates me, so I sort of left out that he was the antichrist.” Lucifer mumbles.

 

“Why me, when like I said there are a hundred guys here you could use?” I ask.

 

“Because you were the prize for all the tops after Brian not only fucked you, but kept you.” Lucifer tells me.

 

“It’s also that your aura attracts the ones in darkness. Even Michael fought his feelings for you.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“What?” I ask.

 

“It wasn’t like I chased his ass, just thought maybe when we were in bed one time.” Michael scowls.

 

“When was that?” Brian asks, coming out of nowhere.

 

“Brian Kinney, imagine, you gracing us with your presence.” Brandon said, ignoring Lindsay chasing after him, only to stop when she saw me.

 

“Justin wanted to see where the kids hang out and I indulged him.” Brian says, pulling me into his arms.

 

“Or maybe he got tired of indulging you. Why would he want an old man when he could see the advantage of youth.” Brandon says smuggly.

 

“What are those?” I ask, as I watch Lucifer circle Lindsay. 

 

Brandon practically purred when I ran my hands down his chest, and I watched as his shield started closing up, only surrounding me and him. It felt slimy, and everything in my body started revolting. I couldn’t stop the power running through me, trying to break the shield Brandon put around us. I watched as Lindsay ran, not making further than the door before she disappeared. Only, I had a problem. Everything in me wanted to fight being swallowed up in Brandon. I could see everything he hid from the world, and also see he didn’t want to be who he was. In that moment everything shattered around us, my power swallowing his until Brian pulled me away from him. Michael stood in front of me, trying to absorb what I was exploding around us, and Brian held on as if nothing was happening. Somehow he was absorbing everything around us, and I looked at Gabriel to see him watching us. Eventually everything returned to normal, Brian was looking at me confused, before letting me go and staring around us.

 

“What the hell is going on?” Brian asks.

 

“That’s my question.” Brandon says, looking at the people partying around us as if nothing I did happened to them.

 

“Justin was trying to give you what you wanted to renounce your father.” Gabriel tells him.

 

“How did Brian do it?” I ask.

 

“He’s always been able to, just didn’t have a reason to since you and Michael didn’t know anything. Unfortunately he gets to forget for now.” Gabriel tells us, as Brian disappears.

 

“Where did he go?” Michael asks.

 

“He’s home sleeping, where he’ll be waiting for Jack Kinney to arrive, since the timeline just got moved by Justin.” Gabriel tells us.

 

“His Dad is coming tonight? But how did he get here anyway? We never came here.” I ask.

 

“I sent him. Because you were never supposed to get that close to Brandon. It’s why you never did in any of the lives.” Kira says, running to my arms.

 

“Baby, I missed you.” I tell her.

 

“I’m here, well as much as I can be for now. Metatron told me to tell you to stop screwing around with things that won’t matter.” Kira tells Gabriel.

 

“Did you know that was the way I’d react to Brandon?” I ask him.

 

“No, since you can tolerate Brian and Michael. But I needed to know what Lucifer was up to. He’s not the loving Dad he’s trying to make you believe.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“Daddy doesn’t need lessons from you. What happened is not his fault.” Kira tells Gabriel, who backed away from my daughter on a tirade. “If you don’t stop testing him, I’ll never talk to you again.” Kira tells him.

 

“Did he really want Lindsay gone?” Michael asks.

 

“Not really, just to get control of her. He wants the souls she’s been harvesting for him.” Kira tells him. “Uncle Mikey, you need to be ready to help my dad. And Daddy, this time be there when he comes home. Love you.” Kira tells us, disappearing.

 

“What about me? I don’t want to be this.” Brandon says, looking horrified at knowing.

 

“All you have to do is walk away. Just don’t expect the life you have to remain the same.” Gabriel tells him.

 

“It all disappears if you walk away.” Lucifer tells him.

 

“Or does it?” I ask, pushing my power out towards Lucifer, and smiling when he didn’t like it and couldn’t seem to do anything about it. “Are you afraid of Brandon, the way you said the angels were of us?” I ask, leaving Brandon to figure it out.

 

“By the way, Lindsay gets in our way and I’ll see how afraid you are of me.” I tell him.

 

“And I’ll make sure he doesn’t have anywhere to feed the power off to, just to you.” Michael tells him.

 

“I guess we sit and be where Kira tells us to be.” I tell Michael, just ready for this to end.


Chapter 50 by starlight

JUSTIN

 

I didn’t go to the diner to listen to Brian announce his father was dying. I didn’t want to see the way he made it sound like it meant nothing to him. Michael tried to say I needed to be there, but Brian didn’t want me there with him when it happened. He didn’t want anyone there, something I could respect now, because Brian didn’t want anyone to see him falling apart for a man who treated him like shit all his life. Only something changed, because I was sitting on the couch in Michael’s apartment, waiting for my role. I refused to be involved in any more games that didn’t lead to us going back to where I wanted to be. So I sat there, not willing to be used for the angels amusement, which is what it felt like Lucifer and Gabriel were doing. Gabriel appeared next to me.

 

“I wasn’t testing you, it’s not my place.” Gabriel tells me.

 

“Then what was that about?” I ask.

 

“It was time to end the waiting, and what you did sped up time.” He tells me.

 

“Why would it matter how long we were here?” I ask.

 

“It doesn’t, but I can see you’re tired of fighting. You want to be with Brian, raising the family you came back here for. You need to know what the decisions you make if Brian passes will do to that life. You won’t be just Justin and Brian the way you were, but more, if you decided to have it all.” He tells me.

 

“If we do decide to have it all, does that bother all of you?” I ask.

 

“It’s if you don’t that would bother me.” He tells me.

 

“Why?” I ask.

 

“Because it leaves me with no reason to be a part of the life Brian will have with you. If you decide against your destiny, we are no longer allowed to be a part of anything you do. It will be like the life where none of you know about us anymore. You’ll be like the rest of the human race, no longer holding power they can’t imagine anyone having.” He tells me.

 

“You love him that much?” I ask.

 

“You can’t imagine how much I love my son, and if it’s what he decides…” Gabriel said disappearing.

 

If it was what we decided then he wouldn’t be able to see his son, or the life he couldn’t have because of who Gabriel was. It made me wonder if he hated as much as he loved God, for giving him a child, and making him see the life Brian had to live to be what they needed from him. None of us had to pass a test to be who we were, other than Brian. 

 

“It’s why Gabriel is the way he is about humans, because it was humans who hurt his son.” Uriel says, appearing next to me.

 

“Did he feel that way about all of you, with what you did?” I ask.

 

“I’m sure he did, but instead believed in our father, unlike us. All I could see was you turning away from your path, not bothering to believe there was a reason you would need darkness in your life. Only you didn’t thank me for hurting the man you loved. You did the one thing I never would have, you turned your back on all of us to save him.” Uriel tells me.

 

“And I’ll do it again, if what you want from me hurts my family.” I tell him.

 

“I’ll respect whatever you decide when this is over.” He tells me sadly.

 

“I need to be alone. Respect that right now the only thing I want is to be with my daughters and sons. I need the Brian that’s waiting for me when this is over.” I tell him.

 

Uriel nods and gives me what I asked for. When the door opened I almost want to yell that I didn’t need more talks about what everyone expected. Only I stopped when Brian walked in. He didn’t say anything, just came over to where I was sitting and sat at my feet, putting his head in my lap. I ran my hands through his hair and saw the tension leave him. I knew in this moment he didn’t want me to talk. Just wanted me to let him deal with the grief he was hiding from everyone. I felt the tears, but didn’t do anything other than run my hands through his hair. Willing to be what he needed me to be in order to get him through this. I didn’t know why this was happening differently and I didn’t care, because in coming to me, it meant he needed me even when at this point in time he couldn’t admit to it.

 

For the first time I didn’t feel like this was wrong when he got on his knees and kissed me. The kiss was one from the Brian that was mine. He wasn’t doing it to get me in bed, but because he needed to feel me to know he was loved for being Brian. He ended it, closing his eyes and pressing our foreheads together, before letting out a breath. Then he got up held out his hand to me. I took it and let him lead me to his car. When we pulled up to the loft, we got out and went in. Brian didn’t say anything, just started undressing, leaving me to follow him to the bedroom. If he needed to use my body, I would do that for him. Only he didn’t try, instead he got into bed and held the covers up for me to get in, and wrapped his arms around me when I did. 

 

“Why can’t I hate him?” Brian whispered.

 

I didn’t answer because he knew why. For all of Jack’s faults Brian couldn’t let go of wanting the father Jack couldn’t be for him.

“I don’t want to feel like this.” He tells me.

 

“No one does, but we can’t help caring even when they didn’t care about us.” I tell him.

 

“I tried to stay away from you.” He tells me.

 

“Why?” I ask.

 

“I don’t want you to become like me. I want you to believe in everything that I gave up believing in. Knowing you get everything in life is the one thing I can do for you.” Brian tells me.

 

“Letting me in past your walls is the only thing I want.” I tell him.

 

“How can you love me?” Brian asked, breaking my heart.

 

“There’s no way for me not to, no matter what you do. You’re the only one I’ll love.” I tell him.

 

“Why couldn’t they love me?” Brian whispers.

 

“Why do you still love them?” I ask him, knowing that was the real question.

 

“I need you to stay with me tonight.” Brian says, ending the conversation.

 

I stayed as Brian closed his eyes and his body relax, knowing if I left, he wouldn’t sleep. He needed to rest for what he needed to do. Because forgiveness is much harder when the person will never love you the way you want them to. It was something Brian never needed from me, because he loved me the best he could. And tonight he needed me to love him in the way he never had. So he would be able to forgive the mother he loved and hated for not loving him the way a mother should have.

 

“Forgive her, for me and for everything we both want.” I whispered while he slept.

 

I was standing at the side of the bed looking at Brian wrapped around me. I didn’t turn to see why I was outside of my body. I didn’t want to deal with anything.

 

“You might not want to, but it’s time for you to decide.” Metatron tells me.

 

“I thought we had to wait.” I said, turning to see him standing in the doorway.

 

“Each of you has to decide on your own. When it’s Brian’s turn, he makes the decision without knowing what you decided. Life isn’t fair, and you know it.” He says, reading my thoughts.

 

“Did Michael decide?” I ask.

 

“Yes. And I doubt you need to know what he answered.” He tells me.

 

“He wouldn’t say yes unless I did.” I tell him.

 

“It’s cute the way he sees you as the answer.” Metatron said, finding it funny.

 

“What happens if I say yes?” I ask him.

 

“I unravel this timeline and let it be the one you and Brian made it.” He tells me.

 

“What about Lindsay?” I ask.

 

“Is there a reason you worry about her?” He asks.

 

“Look where we are. If she’d stayed where she was I’d be starting my life with Brian.” I tell him.

 

“You and Brian were always going to have to be here, which meant she was here too. After this her fate is sealed, and Lucifer understands the cost if he lets her out again. He really should have kept you away from his son, but then he never understood what would happen if light met the real darkness. I need your answer.” He tells me.

 

“You already know it.” I tell him.

 

“Then what will be will be. None of us understands the way you two love. But then we were only created to love Father, until he created the three of you. For you, Brian would forgive anyone.” He says, leaving.

 

“Just like I forgave all of you for what you did to them.” I said looking at us, before returning to my body.


Chapter 51 by starlight

BRIAN

 

I sat on the couch I hated all my life, listening to my sister wail about Daddy. Like she gave a shit, any more than I did about the old man. Maybe she did, since he didn’t touch the princess. Just me and mommy dearest. I sat there, not sure what to make of my mother, who for once wasn’t looking at me like I was the biggest disappointment in her life. All day she’d been quiet, not demanding we should act like Jack was a saint. I honestly couldn’t figure her out. She didn’t say a word about my friends she didn’t really know being here. And I wasn’t sure what to think when she told me my father’s funeral was taken care of. Claire had a lot to say about it though. She thought I should take care of it, and that it was selfish of me not to save our mother from having to use the money Daddy left to take care of her. 

 

I wanted to not give a shit he died, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to lose myself in everything that I worked all my life to forget. Instead I went where I really wanted to be, to Justin. He did what I needed, just let me deal with my grief. I didn’t know why I went to him instead of Mikey. It just felt like where I needed to be. And it helped in ways I didn’t understand. How did this kid who should have been a trick, wind his way into a place no one else could get. 

 

“Brian, can we talk?” My mother asks, not orders.

 

“About what?” I ask.

 

“I have things I need to say to you.” She tells me.

 

I got up, following her up the stairs, almost turning around when Claire tried to follow us.

 

“Claire, I need to talk to Brian. Stay down there and deal with your children.” Mom tells her, as the demon spawn were chasing each other all over the house, running into people.

 

“I wanted to be there if you needed me to help you deal with him.” Claire tells her.

 

“Deal with John and Peter for once.” Mom demands, loud enough that the people sitting around were staring at all of us. “I’m sure everyone here would appreciate not being trampled to death by your sons, and maybe they’ll feel sorry enough for you to give you attention.” She tells Claire, who looks shocked at my mother not caring what anyone saw or heard in the house.

 

When we got upstairs, Mom shut and locked the door. I’d been expecting her to pour herself a drink, but she just sat down on the bed, letting me decide where to sit. I didn’t want to sit anywhere, hoping whatever she wanted to say would be said quickly so I could get out of the house of my nightmares.

 

“I wish I’d been better to you.” She says, making me stop pacing, since that wasn’t what I expected. “I spent my whole life lying to myself and you about the mother I was, and blaming you for the way your father treated you. I know it's too late, but I didn’t want you to leave here without knowing it was my fault, not yours.”

 

“Are you dying?” I ask. Since it was the only reason I could think she'd act like she ever gave a shit.

 

“It's not even surprising you'd think it would be the reason, but no I'm not dying. I’m not even asking for you to forgive me. I just wanted you to hear it from me, that none of it was your fault.” She tells me.

 

I wanted to hate her for telling me this now, when it would have changed a lot if she’d said it sooner. I wanted to walk away from her the way she had done to me all my life. But I couldn’t because she was my mother, and no matter what she did, I loved her. I couldn’t say it in words so I hugged her, forgiving her for not being the mother I wanted. 

 

“Brian, it’s time.” I heard behind me.

 

I looked around, I was no longer at my parents house, and saw Justin and Mikey standing with three others. “Where am I?” I ask, looking at Justin.

 

“He can’t answer you, until you answer me.” 

 

“Metatron, he doesn’t know what you want.” 

 

“He will in a minute, Gabriel, but he can’t ask Justin.”

 

I started seeing my creation. The things that led to this moment. What I did when they took Justin from me. And how they stopped me. 

 

“This shitty life was some big test?” I as