CHAPTER TITLE: Reservations & Realizations_Eight of One Hundred
RATING: this chapter: PG13
WORD COUNT: this chapter: 1,170
WARNINGS: this chapter: none, Brian POV
NON-CANON: Britin is in the countryside outside of Pittsburgh, not in West Virginia
DISCLAIMER: Nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already? Not mine
Originally Beta’ed by herefordroad, all subsequent mistakes are mine
Story throughout contains excerpts from The Brian Kinney Operating Manual including commentary from the Editors
SUMMARY FROM THE EDITORS: ’Why don’t people understand how much worse it could have been? Seven…fuck, it could have been ten or fifty or even a hundred.’
Brian reluctantly realizes denial can only get him so far.
AUTHOR‘S NOTES: This story projects 59 years into the future and reflects all that that entails, many of the loose ends are tied-up. I dance with POV, I dance with time, in essence, I just dance to the song Brian & Justin sang to me.
Contains: Brian_others, Justin_others. They grow old, they are always together for just as long as time allows, but, ultimately, they will die.
As someone wise once said, ‘In the end, it’s all about Brian and Justin’ and I can only agree
A Time From Now
Reservations & Realizations
Saturday -- Same Week - Pittsburgh
Brian slid into the empty booth, unfolded and scanned through the front section of the Post-Gazette, finding, on page 10, yet another comprehensive article, including seven black&white photographs, about the bombing…the local media’s cause of the month, the year, maybe even the decade. The story would die down periodically but with every new lead, with every new just-breaking news release, it would be back. Back on the front page and at the top-of -the-hour and on the lips of the denizen of Liberty Avenue and of Pittsburgh’s city hall. Always right there, always right in front of them, it would never completely go away. They wouldn’t let it.
He’d managed to avoid the ‘story’ for the most part and that hadn’t been easy. After all, the bomb exploded in Babylon, seven people died in Babylon and Babylon was his so consequently, everyone wanted him to know everything. He’d avoided reading the newspaper and magazine articles, had avoided watching the TV news stories, he’d even managed to avoid the gossip of Liberty Avenue’s general population. They’d start to speak, he’d glare and the words would just die naturally on their lips.
But enough was enough, time to confront his whimpering demons, to ad fuel to the fire, might as well get this show on the road. And they were all waiting, those patient demons, smirking at him from behind those seven black&white photographs as he realized, or more confirmed, that he’d known every one. He recognized their faces from the photographs on page-10 of the morning edition of the Post-Gazette. So when he felt Debbie near him, glancing up to her, smiling his thanks for the coffee she brought him, he was even more thankful for the much needed interruption.
“What’ll ya have, hon?”
“Nothing, Deb,” he murmured distractedly, slightly tipping the mug toward her.
“Just coffee, Brian? Brian look at me. Ya gotta eat, sweetie, you look like crap.”
“Thanks Deb,” he said, again lifting his eyes to her, “but…really, I’m fine.” He flashed her a quick half-smile
“Are you sure? I mean are you sleeping okay? Because you really look like --”
“Thank you, Debbie, I get it, really.”
“No need to get snippy. You…you need anything, you let me know.”
“I will,” and hearing the kitchen’s bell ring, he added, “I think they’re playing your song.”
With a gentle swipe to the back of his head, she left him. He knew she was worried. Glancing up from the paper, he saw the not-so-subtle looks of worry between her and Danny, Liberty Diner’s best short-order cook. And he appreciated they’re concern, but he decided to ignore them for now. Right now, he had other things on his mind.
Like Dusty’s photograph, top row middle, surrounded by the other six. His eyes darted back and forth between those other photographs and hers. It wasn’t from the paper that he learned about Dusty, he’d been at her funeral, but that was where he learned about the others. He remembered when it was four dead, four died that night and that had seemed horrible enough but ultimately it had been seven. Three more had died over the following week. He’d been told their names, enough so that he had them pretty much memorized but now he was able to put faces to those names and those names to a history. To his.
People liked to think he didn’t remember but he did, his assurance he never had the same one twice. He remembered. He’d had three in the backroom; two were quick hard fucks, one a pretty decent blowjob. And he’d taken three back to the loft, two on his own and one with Justin, a kid named Jeremy, He learned it from the caption under his photograph. Jeremy had stayed the night. He remembered being in the kitchen listening to them talk, remembered the kid…Jeremy, confiding to Justin that he wanted to draw anime, telling him how he wanted to go to the Art Institute and had nearly saved up enough money. Justin had encouraged him and the kid had been grateful. Brain remembered.
He shifted, suddenly edgy, not comfortable. He felt itchy in his own skin, kind of closed-in. The kid, he’d had a life, plans and dreams. Dusty, the others…they’d all had lives. And now everyone was asking him, telling him that he should rebuild Babylon where they had died. Why didn’t they understand how much worse it could have been? Seven…fuck, it could have been ten or fifty or even a hundred. It could happen again. He wasn’t convinced. Taking the last sip of his coffee, placing the mug at the head of the table, he waited. And soon enough Debbie provided him with his refill and a gentle squeeze to his shoulder.
“Brian, honey, are you sure you’re alright? You just keep staring at those pictures --”
“I’m fine, Debbie, really. Thanks for the refill,” he said, without looking at her. He knew what she’d see, his fear, his pain, his confusion, reflected in his eyes, the confirmation of all her concerns for him and he‘d like to avoid that little scene, if possible. “Okay?” And his eyes never left the paper spread out on the table before him and she knew well enough to leave him alone. He was thankful. He knew where to find her if, or more like when, he’d need her.
I needed to stop this so I folded the paper, stashing it into my briefcase and instead I looked out the window, watching the passing street-parade of our local citizenry. I knew I had to decide what to do, but it just felt somehow like Babylon was hallowed ground, sacred maybe even if I also knew it wasn‘t. That was where they were buried, scattered across the country. Their families had come and had taken them home. Babylon was where they’d died because of stupidity, because of hatred. Michael told me, kept telling me, I should rebuild so the bastards would understand, we won’t be defeated. Michael and Ted had explained and explained, even Justin had added-in his two cents, and maybe they were right. Maybe I should rebuild as a kind of testament of our ability to survive. As proof we wouldn’t be beaten. Maybe. But I still wasn’t entirely sure, something wasn’t right
When my cell vibrated, I wasn’t surprised to see Ted’s name displayed. “Yeah?”
“Michael and I want to see you, we have an idea for Babylon that might help you get past your reservations.”
“Oh goodie. Well, I’m at the diner now.”
“Well, we’d actually like to meet with you tomorrow, how about around 12:30 for lunch?”
I agreed and after a couple of minutes of mindless small talk, mainly on Ted’s part, we disconnected and I went back to trying to alleviate my another-sleepless-night headache in Debbie’s restorative brew and I wondered. I wondered because, apparently, Michael and Theodore have an idea and I couldn’t begin to imagine what it was.
Next Chapter: Brian with Ted and Michael discuss relevant things having to do with art and business
for original post & additional chapters, please see here