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.