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Life As We Remember 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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