[identity profile] woodys-mod.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] woodys_place
Title: Remember
Author: Xie
Character/Pairing: The gang.
Rating: I don't believe in ratings.
Wordcount: 1,900
Warnings: I don't believe in warnings, but if I did, there wouldn't be any on this story.
Summary: Eight years after the bombing of Babylon…
Author's Note: Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] orlith for the beta.

Brian winced as he signed the last page of the pile of documents Ted had laid on his desk. "Does this mean I can have my hand back now?"

"For now." Ted picked up the papers and moved toward the door.


Ted turned around. "Something else, boss?"

Brian drummed his fingers on the desk. "I haven't heard the pitter patter of Mikey's feet in my office yet, asking for Kinnetik's usual annual donation to the memorial for the bombing."

Ted shook his head. "They decided not to have it this year."

Brian lifted a brow. "What, has Deb gotten so focused on fighting for homo matrimony she decided not to honor our noble fallen dead?" He shook his head. "What kind of fag hag is she?"

"Well, Bri," Ted said, "I guess you could always organize it yourself." He laughed at the horrified look on Brian's face, and headed out the door.

Later that night, Brian was leaning on the bar at Babylon, trying to decide if the new bartender was hot enough to risk a sexual harassment lawsuit to fuck when his phone rang.

It was Justin, his voice echoing a little over the line. "So, what did you decide about the new bartender?"

Brian laughed and moved to a slightly less cacophonous area of the club. "In the negative. Lawsuits are both boring and expensive – not my favorite combination."

Justin sounded amused. "I agree; expensive things should never be boring."

Brian contemplated the cost of his most recent last-minute first class ticket to New York for the purpose of fucking Justin, and silently concurred. "Theodore told me Mikey and Deb aren't going to hold the bombing memorial this year."

Justin was quiet for a minute. "Seriously?"

"Unless Theodore has become a compulsive liar." Brian frowned. "Which is not out of the question, but…"

Justin sighed. "I guess it's been a long time. What is it, almost 8 years?"

Brian found himself walking down the stairs of the club onto the street outside. "Something like that."

"I guess people forget," Justin said. "Eventually."

Brian looked at the street full of cars, the sidewalk full of people waiting to get into Babylon. "I guess they do."


Brian was sitting in the back booth at the diner, laptop in front of him, flipping through a series of images from the latest Brown Athletics photo shoot.

"This seat taken?" It was Michael, grinning cheerfully as he slid into the booth across from Brian, Ben right after him.

Brian sighed. "How am I supposed to get any work done?"

Michael reached across the table and snapped Brian's laptop closed. "By staying at the office?"

"Hey!" Brian objected, opening his computer again. "I was hungry. Man cannot live on seven-figure checks alone." Debbie placed his plate in front of him. "Apparently, man occasionally needs food poisoning as well."

"Hey, boys," Debbie said, forcing Brian to slide over as she sat down next to him. "Fueling up for a night on the town?"

Ben smiled. "A long night grading papers for me, Deb."

Michael patted Ben's thigh under the table. "A long night watching Ben grade papers for me," he said.

Brian was staring at them. "God, kill me if I ever turn into you two."

"Looks like the gang's all here." Emmett let his furred parka droop down on his shoulders. "Can we squeeze in?"

Debbie jumped up, and Brian sighed and moved toward the wall to make room for Ted and Emmett. "Actually, don't wait until then. Kill me now."

Brian listened while Debbie took their orders and everyone else talked, pretending to be engrossed in his laptop again.

After Deb came back, she slid in next to Ben. "So, how about you, Brian? Hitting the clubs, the streets, or the sheets?" Then she laughed.

Brian didn't look up. "Undetermined."

"Jetting off to New York for a booty call at Justin's?" Emmett guessed.

"Going back to the office and plotting ways to make yourself even richer and all our lives a living hell?" Ted offered.

"Trolling the bathhouses for fresh meat?" Michael asked.

Ben just smiled and didn't say anything.

"You know, Deb," Brian said, "if you want to draw a high-end crowd, you need more than greasy fries and free wi-fi. You need a quiet, productive environment for a guy to get a little work done."

The bell sounded, and Debbie jumped up. "Speaking of greasy fries…"

Brian looked at Michael. "So, is it true? You're not organizing the memorial this year?"

Michael shrugged. "Attendance had dropped way off the last couple of years, and you know, people have moved on."

"I haven't moved on," Emmett announced. "It was one of the most traumatic nights of my life."

"Unlike for the rest of us, who had a great time?" Ted asked.

"Sorry, baby," Emmett said, touching his arm. "You, too, baby," he said to Michael.

"Sorry for what?" Debbie asked, putting plates in front of everyone, then sitting down again.

"Brian and Emmett don't think we should cancel the bombing memorial this year," Ben said.

"Leave me out of it," Brian said. "I was just asking if it was true."

"It's true," Debbie said. "Not that I'll ever forget. But with the rally for marriage equality at the statehouse, and the PFLAG benefit, somethin' just had to give."

Emmett sighed. "I still can't believe the police never even caught the guys who did it." He glanced at Debbie. "No offense to Carl, of course. I know he tried."

Debbie shrugged. "He tried, the FBI tried, the ATF tried."

"Maybe it's time to move on, after all," Ben said. "Forgive and forget."

"Forgive and forget?" Ted looked at Ben like he'd grown scales. "People died. Michael almost died."

"I remember," Ben said. "Believe me. But like Tony Kushner said, maybe forgiveness is where love and justice meet."

Brian snorted. "Tony Kushner wrote it, but a fictional black drag queen said it. Which makes it fiction." He looked at Michael. "That means it's made up."

"I know what 'fiction' means," Michael pointed out. "Rage, remember?"

Brian looked confused. "That's not fiction."

"Oh god," Debbie said. Then she stood up. "Look, Brian, every single year you've said you didn't want to remember the bombing, you didn't want to remind people they were dancing on a funeral pyre, you just wanted to forget. But every fucking year, you've signed the fucking check, and every fucking year, you've shown up – don't think I haven't seen you there in the crowd."

Brian shrugged. "It's good marketing to show my support for the community that pays Babylon's bills."

"Your community," Michael said. "Unless you've decided you're not gay anymore, now that we can serve in the army and get married."

"We can't get married in Pennsylvania, the land of our birth," Brian said. "So my homo-cred can remain intact for now." He frowned. "Which is a good thing, as I understand heteros have to fuck women, and I…"

"We know," said everyone at the table at the same time.

Brian pushed at Emmett and Ted until they got up, and then he stood up to go. "I don't care about the fucking memorial. That's ten grand I get to keep in Kinnetik's bank account." He dropped a twenty on the table, and left.

Everyone watched him go, and Debbie shook her head. "I guess he's not going to be donating to the marriage rally."

Ted looked at her as he sat down again. "You never know, Debbie. Brian can be…"

"An asshole?"

"Complicated," Ted replied.

Debbie stood up. "Well, that's true, anyway."


On the eighth anniversary of the bombing of Babylon, just like the year it happened, Brian was in a car on the way to the airport. This time, he was heading for New York, not Sydney, and Justin was waiting for him, not being left behind.

And hopefully no one was getting blown up.

Unlike the first time, Justin answered his phone. "Don't tell me, you missed your flight."

"No," Brian said. "But I was thinking…"

A few minutes later, Brian disconnected the call and tapped on the driver's window. "Change of plans," he said.


Justin walked out to the curb from the arrival area, and got into the back of the car next to Brian. "You're unbelievable, you know."

"I know," Brian said as the car pulled into traffic. And then he kissed him, tasting white wine and salted peanuts on Justin's lips and tongue.

They had the driver let them out a block from Babylon, and walked slowly down the street toward the club. Justin grabbed Brian's hand at the corner. "It's weird," he said.

Brian stopped and faced him. "What is?"

"That night. I remember so many little things. The dust, and your face, and someone crying… "

"I know," Brian said, pulling Justin closer. "I remember them, too."

Justin looked up. "People died, everything was destroyed. And you told me you love me for the first time, right here."

Brian pressed his mouth against Justin's forehead, but didn't say anything. They just stood there like that for a long time.

Finally, Brian pulled away a little, and they walked to the front of the club.

"Do you have it?" Justin asked.

Brian nodded and pulled a votive candle and a lighter out of his pocket, and handed them to him.

Justin knelt down and set the candle on the base of the street light, and lit it.

They stood there watching the flame flicker in the cool air. The music from the club pounded its beat against their ears, swelling and diminishing as the doors opened and closed and opened again.

"Ben thinks we should forgive and forget," Brian said after a long silence. "He said forgiveness is the intersection of love and justice." He paused. "And, I believe, the American way."

Justin looked up at him. "That's bullshit."

Brian laughed. "Especially considering Zen Ben turned into the Incredible Hulk at the first vigil. He basically pounded the shit out of some fundie asshole who was advocating the death penalty for Mikey."

They were quiet for a little longer, then Justin said, slowly, "Maybe he just means we should remember in a different way."

"What, by getting married and moving to the suburbs and reforming the American Dream from the inside?" Brian's voice was bitter.

Justin smacked his arm. "Says the man who went down on one knee…"

"Both knees, if I remember correctly," Brian said.

Justin smiled. "True." Then he shook his head, and gestured at the street. "I'll never forget, or forgive. But I guess it's true, most of us have moved on in one way or another."

Brian kissed him. "What do you say we move on to somewhere with central heating? It's freezing out here."

Justin nodded toward the club. "Like Babylon?"

"Absolutely," Brian said. "Let's dance on the rubble and dust."


The club was crowded, and warm, and the air was full of glitter and noise. All around them, men took off their shirts and danced while the beat throbbed against their skin.

It was almost closing time when Justin pulled Brian back outside, their arms around each other, their lips swollen from kissing.

They started to run down the steps, but Justin's arm came out and stopped Brian before they even got to the sidewalk.

Clustered around the base of the street light were dozens and dozens of candles, the air above them shimmering as they burned.
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