Midnight Whispers
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Brian and Justin try to cope with life apart - with the marriage that did not happen and the love that would not die

"> Timeless by cynical21
Midnight Whispers
QAF Fanfiction - Brian and Justin - SSL Encrypted - Mobile
[ Reviews - 847 ] Printer
Feature Summary:

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Brian and Justin try to cope with life apart - with the marriage that did not happen and the love that would not die


Rated: NC-18
Categories: QAF-U.S. FICTION , BEST FAN FICTION CLASSIC , FEATURED STORY , Brian/Justin , Brian/Other , Could be Canon , Hurt/Comfort , Justin/Other-Relationship , Romance , Violence Characters: Debbie , Gus , Jennifer Taylor , Justin , Lindsay , Melanie
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 61 Completed: Yes
Word count: 784049 Read: 324231
Published: August 28, 2009 Updated: November 18, 2012
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 cynical21 [ Reviews - 66 ] (1490 words)

Author's note:  Unlike so many talented people here, I don't do beautiful banners or photo manips or lovely graphics.  In fact, I'm a major cyber idiot.  I only have one means for expressing my delight in this recently discovered fandom and these exquisite characters.  I write.  That's it.  That's all I do, but I hope that I can do it well enough to spark your interest and make you forget the boring physical presentation.

2. Chapter 2 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 6 ] (1942 words)

Disclaimer:  I make no claim of ownership on Queer as Folk of any of its lovely characters.  No copyright infringement is intended and no profits generated.  I just love to play in the neighborhood.

Note:  I am a complete novice in this genre, but not to fan fiction in general.  In fact, I've been writing for a very long time, probably longer than most of the participants here have been alive.  That makes me really OLD.  I come here from other fandoms, and anyone who might be familiar with my work knows that I just don't do sweet, frothy, happily-ever-after.  I figure life is only worth living if you have to endure a lot of crap to reach your goals, so my characters will - but, in the end, I hope my readers will find the journey worth taking.

3. Chapter 3 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 7 ] (3473 words)

4. Chapter 4 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 8 ] (3680 words)

5. Chapter 5 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 5 ] (4278 words)

Still completing the setting, but the first real action is drawing closer.

6. Chapter 6 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 7 ] (6979 words)

Moving right along . . . dare I resort to cliche and say "The plot thickens."

This is a much longer chapter (they always seem to grow on me as I got along) and contains the first man on man love scene.  I hope you will enjoy it.

7. Chapter 7 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 5 ] (6942 words)

8. Chapter 8 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 6 ] (7943 words)

More blah, blah, blah - but getting there, albeit slowly.

9. Chapter 9 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 9 ] (8381 words)

Growing darker and, I hope, more complex.

10. Chapter 10 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (8803 words)

WARNING;  THIS CHAPTER FEATURES EXTREME VIOLENCE AND IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

11. Chapter 11 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 7 ] (8236 words)

(Slightly) better days :)

12. Chapter 12 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 9 ] (8364 words)

The road back is slow going, but the journey has begun. :)

13. Chapter 13 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 8 ] (10741 words)

Edging toward tomorrow!

14. Chapter 14 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 10 ] (8568 words)

First of all, apologies for not responding to any of your lovely comments during the past few days.  Had a little bout of flu, and simply couldn't summon up the energy.

More important - - before anyone can point it out, I know full well that Congress has only just now passed legislation to make gay-bashing a hate crime, but, for the purposes of this story, that legislation already existed - just as it should.

15. Chapter 15 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 8 ] (9164 words)

Sorry for leaving a bit of a cliffhanger last time.  but I always try to trust my instincts and end my chapters at a logical point, and that seemed to be it.

Also, concerning speculation over who the person might be whom Brian appointed to administer his wishes, I really didn't intend to create a mystery in this.  Several of you have probably already figured it out, but the point was not to keep my readers from knowing, but to make it clear that the characters in the story don't know.  But the unveiling, so to speak, will probably happen next chapter, and I hope it will feel logical and rational within the framework of the story.

16. Chapter 16 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 5 ] (9194 words)

Sorry - not a whole lot of action here.  Still setting the stage, more or less, but getting closer to some dramatic moments, I promise.

17. Chapter 17 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 15 ] (12845 words)

Running true to form, the chapters just get longer, as I find that I have more and more to say.  Sometimes, one just has to keep going until one reaches a logical stopping point.

Anyway, some answers are provided in this chapter, but new questions are raised, and we're still a very long way from the end of the story.

18. Chapter 18 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (11232 words)

Come on now.  All things considered, you didn't really think it would be that easy, did you?  I should probably just start all my chapters with a warning: things almost NEVER work out the easy way, and there's always a shitload of darkness to work through before there's any hint of sunrise in the offing.

19. Chapter 19 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 13 ] (10582 words)

Our cast is almost complete.  There should only be one more major character to introduce before the stage is finally set.  But that doesn't mean that we are anywhere near the end of my own particular version of "War and Peace".  We have barely begun to explore this brave new QAF world.

20. Chapter 20 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 16 ] (11149 words)

Still going through prep stages, and establishing new settings, but getting closer to the action.  Hope it doesn't disappoint, and sorry to be late with it.  It's the holidays, you know.  *g*

21. Chapter 21 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 6 ] (12873 words)

Moving right along.  All characters now in play, except one, who will provide more of a means for exploration than actual action.  Resorting to cliche here, I suppose, but the plot really is beginning to thicken.

22. Chapter 22 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 10 ] (10724 words)

Brian begins to make preparations, and the group begins to get some inkling of what may lie ahead.

23. Chapter 23 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 11 ] (12503 words)

Apologies for the delay.  Holidays, illness in the family, and super crazy days at work.  But better late than never I suppose. We are here approaching the first real indications of the ordeal that Brian will endure, and what it will mean to those around him.  But, thus far, it's barely even a hint of the real thing.

Deepest thanks to those who read along, and deepest apologies for not responding to your lovely comments.  I read and cherish them all, but it is sometimes a choice between finding the time to reply and finding the time to write, and the writing is, for me, the bottom line.

Happy New Year to everyone.

CYN

24. Chapter 24 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 9 ] (14450 words)

Huge apologies for both the delay in posting and failing to respond to comments.  Just too much post holiday uproar and mega-business at work.  But here it is, and it IS quite long, so I hope that will make up, to some degree, for my other flaws.

More stuff going on, more details and more hints for the future.  And just in case anyone has forgotten, I couldn't do pithy or concise if my life depended on it.

CYN

25. Chapter 25 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (12135 words)

My very deepest thanks to everyone who reads and reviews and to the lovely individual who found my work worthy of a blue ribbon.  If life were perfect, I would just spend all my time writing and posting and chatting with my readers, but life, unfortunately, is rarely exactly as we wish it, so writing has to wait until all the boring stuff - like paying the bills - is done.  But the next chapter is finally here, and I hope it doesn't disappoint.  You are a lovely bunch of readers, and I promise to do my best to keep you interested and to be worthy of your kind regard.

CYN

26. Chapter 26 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 8 ] (10768 words)

Please note:  Although I do rather extensive research into details of the settings and circumstances of my stories, I sometimes take liberties in the interest of making the story believable.  Thus, although many of the features I mention concerning Pittsburgh and its environs are real, there is no Reilly Flats in the city.  At least, not that I know of.  It's a total fabrication, a device to emphasize certain factors of the plot.

This chapter does not feature any hot and heavy man action (dammit!); insteady, it is another example of filling in the blanks and setting the stage.  Since I have a terrible obsession for details, I sometimes let myself get bogged down in them.  I sincerely hope it doesn't detract too much from the rhythm of the story.

Again, major thanks for your comments and your support.

CYN

27. Chapter 27 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (17636 words)

My deepest, deepest, ultra-deep apologies for the delay in posting.  This should have been ready last week, but I got side-lined, for lack of a better term, and wound up in the hospital with a stubborn respiratory infection that just refused to go away.  But I hope the fact that the chapter is really, REALLY long will make up for the delay.

I have no idea whether or not anybody is going to be happy with this segment, but it is what it is, and I look forward to your comments.

CYN

28. Chapter 28 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 6 ] (15254 words)

Hello to all you wonderful readers and lovely commenters.  I can't tell you how much your support means to me, despite the fact that I am the world's worst in responding to the incredibly thought-provoking remarks of my readers.  I am asahemed of my failure, but I must usually choose between responding to comments or writing; there's just not time for both.  One day, in the not too distant future, I think (fingers, toes, and legs crossed) that I might actually be able to retire, and then, O'll really have time for all the things I really want to do, like chatting with my lovely readers.

Anyway, here's the next segment of the story; I hope you'll be pleased, and that it serves to advance the plot, but, in truth, I'm never really sure about that until it's posted and I've had time to let it digest a bit. 

Again, thanks so much for your support and your interest.

CYN

29. Chapter 29 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 10 ] (13249 words)

I feel like I should start with a huge "MEA CULPA" and a devout request for forgiveness, along with an expression of gratitude for the patience of my readers.  I promise you that it is unusual for me to take so long to post a new chapter - especially for a story that consumes me as completely as this one does.  But thought the spirit is endlessly willing, the flesh is sometimes weak - as it has been of late.  First I got sick, and then I managed to damage my back, even though I still have no idea what I did to cause the problem.  Anyway, I have discovered, to my dismay, that I'm not one of those mega-gifted talents who aspire to new, previously undreamed of heights of creative success when under the influcence of painkillers.  For me, I just get confused and unable to complete a coherent sentence.  Anyway, I do apologize for the delay, and probably should warn everyone up front that some of this chapter was completed under the questionable auspices of Vicodin, so I can only hope it makes sense to you.  It does make sense to me, but, under said influence, who knows if I'm not just constructing some QaF version of Jabberwocky which only Johnny Depp could understand.

I should also probably apologize that there is no overt Brian in this chapter, although he does, as always, permeate every segment of the story.

Anyway, here it is, and I can only ask for your patience.

CYN

30. Chapter 30 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 23 ] (16166 words)

It seems that I do nothing but apologize lately, for being so slow to post.  I can only repeat that, though the spirit is more than willing, the flesh is still weak, and I'm still having trouble sitting at a keyboard to transfer what's in my mind to the written world.  But I'm not giving up, and the story is still flowing.  In my head.  Hopefully, my physical situation will continue to improve so the delays will be shorter as we go along.

Meanwhile, here it is.  Hope it doesn't disappoint.

31. Chapter 31 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (16954 words)

OK - hey, I got in a little bit under the wire, didn't take quite as long as the last couple of posts, but this one is VEERRRRYYYY long, so maybe that will make up for the length of time.  It's truly beginning to look like this opus is truly going to be another War and Peace - in quantity, not quality.  But for those who enjoy a long convoluted story, this should be right up your alley.  On the other hand, if uber details bore you, you probably will want to give it a pass.

Deepest thanks for the support and encouragement from my lovely readers.  I can't tell you how much your kind comments and willingness to follow my lead mean to me.

CYN

32. Chapter 32 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 10 ] (16078 words)

I am absolutely sure that everybody is getting tired of "setting the stage", but it really IS necessary - which leads me to the admission that we have still not arrived at the moment of the Great Re-Unification - and if you can't guess which one I'm talking about, I think you're probably in the wrong fandom.  I can, however, assure you that we have finally arrived at the edge of the cliff, and the next step (in the next chapter) will be a doozy, encompassing so many intense moments that it hardly bears discussing.  Anyway, here is the final (for now) bit of set-up, and I'm very proud of the fact that it came relatively quickly.  For me.

Mega-thanks to those who read and especially to those who comment.  It always makes a writer feel appreciated when people take the time to speak up, even if I am the worst kind of ungrateful wretch for not replying as I should.  I hope this one doesn't disappoint.

CYN

33. Chapter 33 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (17726 words)

OK - as usual, I'm late.  I frequently feel like that infamous white rabbit.  But, if it counts for anything, this one is quite long, and covers a lot of territory.  Anyway, as always, my deepest thanks to my lovely readers, and special thanks to those who named my story one of their favorites.  Being a neophyte around here, I had no idea how one got listed in the Top Ten section, until readers much more knowledgable than I pointed it out to me.  You are all so very kind, and it really makes an author feel a sense of accomplishment to be greeted so generously.

I hope you will continue to enjoy the trip - which still promises to be very, very long.

CYN

34. Chapter 34 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (16635 words)

I think I've made my lovely readers wait long enough, so . . . the reunion is at hand, but hey - it's Brian and Justin, so it never can go entirely smoothly, can it?  I mean that would just be so out of character, it would boggle the mind.  Therefore, I hope I haven't screwed it up too badly.  Just like all of you, I do want them together, but only on the right terms.

Again, my deepest thanks for your patience and your interest and your support.  This one was a little difficult to write - and rewrite, and re-rewrite, because I was so desperate to get it right, but I'll leave it to you - the true experts - to decide if I nailed it or not.

Many thanks, as always, for accompanying me on this adventure, for listing me among your favorites, and for caring how the journey goes.  But keep in mind that there are still miles to go before we sleep.

CYN

35. Chapter 35 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (16049 words)

Okay, we had a reunion scene, and now, perhaps, it's time to initiate a little bit of payback.  There'll be more as we go along, but I hope this will provide a good appetizer for you all.

BTW, in this chapter there is mention of a Pittsburgh athletic icon - a man who has always been larger than life to many people, Pennsylvanian or not, and I want to make it clear that any part of the story that touches him is all just speculation.  I don't know the man, and I could have substituted any famous name in the role.  It was more for the name recognition value than anything else.

Hope you all enjoy.

CYN

36. Chapter 36 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (15507 words)

OK, here we go.  Comeuppances are fully at hand, but the rest of the plot also thickens.  Don't think I've mentioned it lately, but I don't use a beta so all of the errors you find here are my very own. And I should probably warn you, this chapter is very dialog intense. which may not please everybody.

Still, hope you all enjoy, and mucho, mucho thanks to wonderful Bob, for the lovely pix that illustrate my story so perfectly.

CYN

37. Chapter 37 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 13 ] (15180 words)

Better late than never - right?  My apologies for the delay in posting.  Minor - but very satisfactory - medical procedure got in the way.  But here it is, and I hope it doesn't disappoint.  Just a small comment - a couple of people have asked whether or not it is my intention to write anti-Michael or anti-Debbie in this story.  It is not.  Part of the huge appeal of QaF, for me, is the fact that its characters are all very human, and thus, flawed, and I don't think that addressing some of those flaws equates to anti-anything.  It's just a way of exploring the limits of the story.

OTOH, if anybody wanted to classify it as anti-Melanie, I probably wouldn't protest too much.  I make no secret of the fact that she was always my least favorite character on the show.  At the same time, even she has some small saving graces, which I hope to display as time goes on.  And Ted - Ted is a whole category by himself, as I hope time will reveal.

At any rate, my deepest thanks to all my lovely readers.  You guys make it all worthwhile, and I hope it continues to please you.

CYN

38. Chapter 38 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 16 ] (15687 words)

Sorry for the delay, Dear readers.  More medical stuff that had to be addressed, but I think now it's all taken care of.  Anyway, more exploration of the re-alignment of the dynamics between B&J, and a bit more revealed about the investigation.  We're still a number of chapters away from any kind of resolution, and I sincerly hope I'm not boring the stuffing out of anyone because I can never say anything in one word when three will say it better (which is the gospel according to Me. :))

Anyway, here we go, and I hope it pleases, and another big thank you for those who name me and my mega-long story as a favorite.  All I can say is you're really, really patient and generous.

CYN

39. Chapter 39 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 15 ] (14188 words)

Sorry for the delay.  Real life, again, in all its nasty little details.  One day, I'll really manage to retire and devote my whole life to doing what I really love - listening to my lovely (usually naked) muse and writing down what he tells me.  No lovely, gratuitous sex in this one, I'm afraid, but maybe a little satisfaction gleaned from measures of payback.

Thanks to all who read and comment and accompany me on this apparently endless journey.

CYN

40. Chapter 40 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 12 ] (18303 words)

Delays, delays.  Bet you guys get tired of hearing that, but I truly am sorry.  Sometimes, the job requires unexpected travel, late meetings, and too many hours spent with too little sleep.  But I'm back now, here we go again.  To make up for the delay, it's very long - and there's even a sex scene - so I hope I'm forgiven.

Deepest thanks for those who read, those who review, those who lurk, those who follow, who list the story and/or the author among their favorites.  You guys are just numero uno.

CYN

41. Chapter 41 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 23 ] (16671 words)

Deepest thanks and profound apologies to all who commented.  It's been another one of those periods, filled with business travel and little chance to offer heartfelt responses for all the lovely remarks.  But please know that I appreciate every word, and am endlessly grateful for your support and loyalty. 

No hot boy on boy action this time around.  Sometimes, the sex - sweet as it is - has to wait for other factors to materialize.  Still, it's long, and I hope you enjoy.

CYN

42. Chapter 42 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 16 ] (11065 words)

OK, Friends.  I know it feels like forever, and I won't even try to offer up excuses.  And I also have to point out that it's not quite as long as most chapters are.  And, quite frankly, I'm not sure it's going to please anybody, as it's not heavy on action.  In fact, it's mostly a transitional chapter, heavy on dialogue, and setting certain things in place which will become more important as we move on.

But, at least, it's here; it's written, and if my muse is not exactly shouting in my ear, at least he seems willing to offer subtle little whispers from time to time.  I can't make any commitments about going back to my previous posting schedule, but I do not intend to abandon this story.  There's still so much to tell you - and I do deeply appreciate your willingness to follow along.

CYN

43. Chapter 43 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (16453 words)

Once again, I am forced to apologize for the length of time it took to write this.  No point in going into detail, except to say that, sometimes, real life just sucks.  But these characters - magical, unforgettable - remain the source of great comfort for me, and the story still demands to be written.  It's just that I can't quite turn it out as quickly as before.  Nevertheless, here's the next installment.  It's pretty long, so I hope that makes up for the wait.

And, BTW, just to reiterate, no beta used here.  You surely must have figured out by now that I'm far to obsessive-compulsive/anal retentive to ever allow anyone else to edit my work - which would certainly not bode well for me in the area of professional publishing, if I ever got around to reaching for that pinnacle.  And it's not, BTW, that I don't think I need someone to catch the errors; it's just my own particular form of compulsion.  Hope it was worth the wait.

CYN

44. Chapter 44 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 12 ] (14543 words)

Yes, I know.  Before anyone can point it out, I realize that it's been far too long, and I accept full responsibility for the delay.

Mea culpa.  I won't offer excuses, except to say that the holidays always manage to mess everything up, and that my health is still not all I wish it could be.

Deepest thanks for your continued support and patience.  I will try to do better in the future, and I hope this does not disappoint.

45. Chapter 45 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 11 ] (12797 words)

I won't even bother to apologize, because it's nothing you haven't heard before. But I am still writing, and don't plan to stop until it's done.  And if you want to complain that I should have taken it further, know this: I almost left it with a slightly different conclusion, but then thought that would be too cruel.

Hope you're not disappointed.  Mucho thanks, as always, for your lovely support and interest.

CYN

46. Chapter 46 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 18 ] (13781 words)

OK, dear readers.  Here we go again.  We are slowly approaching a genuine conclusion to this veeerrryyy loonnnggg story, but still have a bit to go.  Hope it's not getting boring or predictable.

As always, thanks for your continued interest and support.

CYN

47. Chapter 47 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 13 ] (17680 words)

Sorry - a slightly longer delay than usual, I know.  A bit of a family emergency sent me flying cross country and kept me focused elsewhere for a few days, but all is well now, and I was able to get back to the important stuff without a terribly great loss of time.

Okay, Friends.  Here we go.  Not too much in the way of plot development, but there are a few small clues herein, and a bit of lovely man-on-man action.  Hope you enjoy, and just be aware that the plot will definitely begin to thicken more next chapter, and even more with succeeding chapters.

As always, my deepest gratitude for my faithful readers.  You are so much better than I deserve.

CYN

48. Chapter 48 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 15 ] (15801 words)

I'm sure you must all be fed up with my apologies by this time.  I really do have a good excuse, but it doesn't change the fact that this is late, so I won't bother to offer it.  I'll just say that I hope it's worth the wait.

I should also mention - since I haven't recently - that all of this is done sans beta - not because I couldn't use the skill and trained eye of a good editor, but because I'm entirely too anal-rententive to let anyone else touch my work - which means I'd make a terrible professional writer.

Anyway, here it is, dear readers.  Hope it doesn't disappoint, and I'll depend on you to let me know.

CYN

49. Chapter 49 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 12 ] (16595 words)

Yes - before anyone can say it, I am EVIL, and I know it, because it is that thing that lots of readers hate more than anything.  It's a CLIFFHANGER.  But it was either that or delay at least another week before posting, because I have a massive project due at work, which will eat up all my time.

So I ask your forgiveness and make you a promse.  The next chapter will not answer every question - but it will answer some crucial ones, and pave the way to answer more.  Probably three or four to go, and I'm going as fast as I can.

One note: haven't said it lately, but should point out that my work is unbetaed so the mistakes are all mine.  I'm far too anal retentive to allow a decent editor within a mile of my writing.  :)

I'll rely on you guys to tell me if I'm still hitting the target or have strayed too far afield.

CYN

50. Chapter 50 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 16 ] (16736 words)

OK - so I hope everybody wasn't driven completely nuts by the nature of the cliffhanger, and I did try not to keep you hanging too long.  I had hoped to provide more answers in this chapter, but I've never been very good at rushing things, so there are still things left hanging here.  But the answers are coming, I promise.  Some of them will be provided shortly.  Others are drawing nearer.  I hope this will at least satisfy your hunger for a resolution of the current crisis.

As always, huge thanks for your support and your willingness to continue the ride with me.  And just to reiterate - no beta used.  Entirely too anal/retentive/compulsive to allow even the best editor (and there are some very good ones) to correct my work, so all mistakes are mine.  And yes, we are approaching the conclusion - but not quite yet.

Your comments are invariably precious to me, even if I'm a complete ingrate for not responding to them all.

CYN

51. Chapter 51 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 18 ] (12958 words)

See - I'm a woman of my word - sort of.  Yes, it's done, and yes, it's here, but I really meant to take it further, to answer more questions this time around.  But time - and real life - just refuse to co-operate.  Anyway, I hope you're not too disappointed.

Though it may seem that there's still much to cover and answer, we really ARE drawing close to the end.  I hope to be able to concentrate on writing now that some of the issues in my job have been resolved - but I can't promise anything, because life doesn't really allow that, does it?

Anyway, as always, no beta.  All mistakes are mine, proudly acknowledged.  I'm far too anal retentive to allow anyone else to dabble herein.

CYN

52. Chapter 52 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 12 ] (15482 words)

Guess it would be really silly of me to ignore the pink elephant in the room.  Yes, I do know that it's been like . . . forever, and I should promise that it won't be that long again.  I wish I could.  Suffice to say I don't intend for it to be that long, but my health is on the iffy side, and I just don't make promises much any more.  Except to promise that it WILL get finished.  Nothing is going to prevent that.

On the other hand, as a sort of compensation for the loyalty and interest of everyone who has hung in there and waited, I have opened this chapter up with what I hope is a sweet, enjoyable love scene.

As always, extreme gratitude for your patience.  I hope it will not disappoint.

Just a reminder, now.  No beta, thus all things - good or bad - are my very own.

CYN

53. Chapter 53 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 18 ] (20547 words)

Well, I don't suppose I can claim to have written very quickly, but - if it helps - I can demonstrate that it is longer than usual.  A product, no doubt, of my undeniable verbosity.

For those who wonder if I'm ever going to shut up, the answer is yes.  I'm thinking that we're only two or three chapters away now.  And yes, I am certain now that - real life permitting - there will be a sequel, but not until I've taken a bit of a break, to take some time to smell the pumpkins. (Hey, it's autumn, and the roses are fading.)

Anyway, here it is.  I hope it doesn't disappoint, and, as always, deepest thanks to those who keep reading.  Your interest and encouragement are unbelievably precious to me.

CYN

54. Chapter 54 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 9 ] (18811 words)

Again, it seemed to take forever to finish.  But this time, it had nothing to do with my health and everything to do with the busy nature of the season.  Is it blasphemy to look forward to January 2?

Anyway, here it is - extra long again.  Hope it doesn't disappoint, and I hope those who have begun to wonder if it will EVER end will be encouraged to hear that this segment of the story should be completed in another chapter or two plus an epilog.

Thanks in advance for reading and sticking with me to the bitter end.

CYN

55. Chapter 55 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 19 ] (16692 words)

I know.  I've been gone so long that there should be Wanted: Dead or Alive posters all over the Web.  I am deeply sorry to keep everyone waiting.  It would be unforgiveable if it were just a case of sluggardly behavior.  Unfortunately, I wound up in the hospital, and yes - before anyone else can say it - this IS getting old fast.

Anyway, deepest apologies, and I've finally managed to get the next chapter ready to post.

At this point, I'm thinking we're looking at one more full chapter and an epilog - but please don't hold me to it.  I never know what I'm going to wind up saying or how long it's going to take to say it, or what else might occur to me along the way.

Again, thanks so much for your patience.

CYN

56. Chapter 56 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 12 ] (14126 words)

I know, I know.  No point in saying how sorry I am, especially since I'll probably do the same thing next chapter.  The truth is that I just can't sit at a computer long enough to complete my work quickly.

In addition, I intended to get a little bit closer to a conclusion with this chapter, but - as usual - there's always moer to say than time and space to say it.  So i will promise that the next chapter will include major plot resolution.  And yet I am forced to remind everyone that this is still Book 1.  The story is nowhere near completed; it's only reaching a stage of transition for Book 2.

Deepeat thanks to all who have waited, and commented and contacted me with best wishes and assurances.  No way to tell you how much it has meant to me.

And - just so you know - I AM better; I'm just not 100% yet, so if you could keep your fingers crossed for me, I'd appreciate it so much.

CYN

57. Chapter 57 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 16 ] (17720 words)

Just in case anyone is wondering, the fact that I managed NOT to take a very, very long time to complete this is evidence of the fact that my sinal problems are getting better.  Not completely cured yet, but much more manageable.

I am now pretty confidant that we will see this story ending within the next couple of chapters, and, although I am still planning to write a sequel, I've decided that this one will not end in a traditional cliffhanger.  That is just too cruel.  So suffice to say that the story arc will be complete, but there will still be room for some between-the-lines action.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to read and waited so patiently for updates.  I hope it will prove worthwhile for you in the end.

Oh, and just to reiterate, I'm much too anal retentive to use a beta.  All mistakes are my very own.

CYN

58. Chapter 58 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 14 ] (15630 words)

To anyone who actually believed that I could tie it all together with just one more chapter - my apologies.  To wrap up all the loose ends, I'd have had to write at least 10,000 more words, and that wouldn't qualify as a chapter; more like a novella.  Also, sorry for the delay.  A slight relapse in my spinal condition made it necessary.  But it appears to be all better, for now at least, and I hope there will be no further delays.

Depending on how long it takes me to address all those dangling facts, there will be at least one more chapter; probably a long one.  There will then be an epilog.

Am still hoping to submit a sequel to this story, but I have decided that it would be cruel and even stupid to leave parts of this plot unaddressed.  Therefore, my readers will be told how this ends - ultimately.  Any sequel would address a period of time which will only be mentioned here, and it will not be necessary to read that sequel in order to determine what the future holds for our heroes.

Quick reminder: far too anal retentive to use a beta.  All mistakes are my own; in a kinky kind of way I love them too.  It's all a part of the writer I am.

Deepest thanks to those who have hung on and stuck with me.  Your support means the world to me.

CYN

59. Chapter 59 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 13 ] (16600 words)

OK - before anyone else can say it, let me explain.  I know I said this would be the last chapter, only . . . there were just too many storylines to tie together, and I couldn't do it without running into a chapter long enough to qualify as a novella.  Even now, this one is longer than many.

So . . . sue me.  The only good thing is that I thing I can promise that the next chapter will close everything out satisfactorily, and then an epilog will be necessary to bring everything from then . . . until now.

Huge thanks to everyone who has read so patiently and put up with my ridiculous inability to close this one out.  I've written looonnnnggg before, but never like this.  I think it's because these characters intrigue me so that I never want to stop delving into the motives and hidden passages of their lives.

Thus, here it comes - truly the last chapter, save one.

CYN

60. Chapter 60 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 11 ] (21824 words)

OK - as always, I must begin with an apology.  More health issues, although less debilitating than prior ones.  Still, it took longer than it should.

BUT - hallelujoh, this IS the final chapter.  There's only a epilog left to do, which should not take too long.

I have to confess that I almost left it to end here, but I thought that would be too cruel.  It IS extremely long - the longest chapter yet - all due, of course, to my usual verbosity.  I've never denied that I always find it hard to just shut up and let it speak for itself.

I won't make any promises; there will be those who are not happy with where it stands now.  I only hope they will be happier when the actual last word is spoken.

Once more, huge thank yous to all who've read for so long and waited so patiently.  You are the sunshine of my life.

CYN

61. Chapter 61 by cynical21 [ Reviews - 45 ] (9486 words)

It is probably a very good thing that most of this epilogue was already written by the time I published the last chapter.  Otherwise, I might have simply let it subside and die its not so peaceful death.

In response to the uproar from various readers, I only have two things to say.

A - anyone who thought that this story was going to end with Brian on his knees begging forgiveness for his sins from perfect, angelic, blameless, innocent little Justin must have been reading a different book, for I thought I had made my opinions clear throughout the story.  Apparently, I was wrong, but will certainly do so now.  I do NOT believe that Brian was the asshole that so many choose to judge him to be.  I found his actions, throughout the series, to be heroic and admirable.  Did he do some stupid things?  Of course, he did.  Who doesn't?  That's part of the human condition, isn't it? But he was perpetually driven by a desire to protect the people he loved, and defend those who could not defend themselves. In my opinion, such an ending would be an injustice to both of these strong, beautiful characters.

And I do believe the quote from Anne Lindbergh which prefaced the last chapter - "Him that I love, I wish to be free - even from me." is the truest, most perfect definition of real love that I have ever read.  I also believe it reflects Brian perfectly.

B. The other point I should make is simply this:  I appreciate every word of criticism, good or bad, and every comment, and I defend every reader's right to find fault or offer commentary.  The one thing, however, that I reserve to myself is the right to write what I see fit to write.  I have spent months - years - on this project, and I did not expect to be glad to see it end.

CYN

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