Brian let out a panicked breath before running a shaky hand through his hair. Even though they weren’t going at a crawling pace, the car Brian was travelling in wasn’t going fast enough. He needed the cab driver to hurry the fuck up. Why was he doing 30 mph in a 60 mph zone anyway?
By the time they were off the interstate and back in downtown Pittsburgh, they were still five blocks away. The smoke was already visible, lining the night sky in thick, dark clouds.
“Can you hurry up?” Brian asked him irritably.
“The roads are icy,” was all the man told him.
Brian suppressed a growl, “I don’t care if the roads are icy! Did you hear the fucking radio? That’s my club! My friends, my-”
Brian broke off suddenly, swallowed around the lump in his throat, and forced himself to calm down.
“I need to get there,” Brian managed to grit out.
He could hear the sounds of the sirens getting louder the closer they got to Babylon.
“I’m doing my best, sir, but what with the bad weather and the emergency services trying to get passed, there’s little I can do.”
Brian forced himself to sit back in his seat. He logically knew that there was little he could do himself. What could he do when he got there? Swoop in to save the day? Doubtful.
But if something happened...if something happened to him...and he hadn’t been able to even get there on time to stop it? It would kill him.
Finally, the club came into view. Fuck, it was worse than he thought.
“Just stop here,” Brian demanded, throwing his money into the front seat. They weren’t going to get any closer, and even if they could, he knew he’d get there quicker on foot.
were pouring out of a giant hole at the front of the club. The sounds of moans, sobs, and screams echoed the streets and, although they were softer than the sirens in volume, the distress from the cries deafened them. Frantically, he looked around. He needed to spot someone, anyone, who could tell him if they had seen Michael, Debbie, Lindsay, Mel, Emmett, Ted…
Forcing himself to calm down a little, Brian tried to clear his head enough to focus. Focus on the people and not on the gaping flaming hole in the front of his building. Of all people, the first person he ended up spotting was Todd. And fuck, Todd was not fine.
Despite his desperation to know where the people he considers family were and wanting to go up to Todd and ask if the guy knew, he couldn't. Not when Todd was sobbing due to his right leg being blown off.
“Fuck,” Brian choked out to himself, clenching his fists.
Despite the terror and commotion around him, Brian started walking slowly through the crowd, almost in a dream like state. It lasted for just a few moments but it was as if his body had found a defense mechanism, because he had gone from frantic to fucking numb.
He was almost grateful for it. It gave him a false sense of calm, which made it easier to identify people. There were strangers, reporters but also acquaintances and men that he had fucked, all alive and well. But they were fucking useless. They just shook their heads slowly, pity appearing on their faces.
But then he saw her. Damn, he had never been so happy to see Mother Taylor in his entire life. She was wrapped in an aluminium blanket, her face black with smoke, her boytoy hovering over her in concern. He could see from the way she was holding her hands that they must have hurt.
“Jennifer?” He called out desperately.
She looked up, and he can see it in her eyes before she even began to speak. “Oh my, God, Brian! Justin is still in there. You’ve got to find him!”
He wished that he could offer her more reassurance that Justin was fine, but he couldn’t talk and he couldn’t fucking stand there. All he could do was rub her arm for approximately half a second before taking off for the ruined building.
“Hey!” A firefighter called out, grabbing his arm, “You can’t go in there - Sir! You can’t go in there! It’s not safe.”
“I’m the owner,” he explained frantically as he pushed his way inside.
The sight in front of him was like something out of a horror movie. Bodies lined the floor, some breathing, others not so lucky. At one point, he saw the remnants of a leg. A sick part of him wondered if it was Todd’s.
He heard cries for help as his eyes dashed around the area before making his way through Babylon. Or what used to be Babylon. He refused to let himself see this place as Babylon now. Because it wasn’t. It didn’t look like Babylon. It looked like Hell.
“Justin?” Brian coughed out, squinting through the smoke, “Justin! Justin! Ju-”
He broke off when he saw a familiar form a few feet in front of him. It wasn’t a familiar blonde but it was a relief to see him, nonetheless.
“Ted?” Brian asked, a bit choked, “Ted, what the fuck happened?”
Ted shook his head slowly, in shock, “I don’t know.”
“Have you seen Justin?” He asked him, worry more than apparent in his tone.
Ted shook his head again, still in a daze. Brian couldn’t be worried about Ted right now.
“Get your date out of here,” Brian ordered him, “Let everyone else know that you’re alright.”
Before Ted could say anything, Brian walked away.
“Justin! JUSTIN!” He called out, even louder.
“Brian?” He heard, and fuck, it was the best sound in the world.
And then the worst sound followed it.
He actually saw the blinding light first, then heard the loud boom, followed by a crack. It made his heart race and, for a moment, his eyes burn. But it went away. The room was dark and filled with more smoke than ever. He couldn’t fucking see because of it. But that’s okay. Because he could hear Justin’s voice and he’s alive.
“Brian?!” Justin yelled out, panicked, “BRIAN?! BRIAN!”
Brian made his way towards the sound, arms partially extended to grab onto the younger man once he got close. He had to get Justin out of here. There was no other option. Jennifer would kill him if he didn’t for one thing but, now that Brian was seeing how the way things were more clearly than ever, he knew he couldn’t leave without him.
“Justin?” Brian called out.
Brian felt Justin’s hands on his shoulders, “I’m right here,” Justin’s voice insisted, closer.
“Justin?” Brian asked more softly, looking around trying to see something, “Is that you?”
“Yeah, Brian. It’s me. You feel me touching you? You see me in front of you?”
“...Justin?” Was all Brian could reply.
Brian lifted his arms and tried to grab onto Justin. He grasped air the first try before feeling what may be Justin’s ribcage with his left hand and his ear with his right.
“Are you alright?” Brian demanded, feeling himself squint with pain, “Are you hurt?”
He felt Justin’s head move but no answer came, which just made him agitated.
“Well, are you?”
“No,” Justin answered him, tremors in his voice, “I’m not hurt.”
Brian nodded, relieved, before bringing him in for a desperate hug. Even though he felt Justin’s arms encircle him, the hug felt tense, like he was holding the younger man wrong. He needed to get outside, where the street lights were. Then he could see Justin’s face and know for sure everything was okay.
Even though Brian knew they needed to get out, he felt that Justin ended the hug all too soon. Pulling away, Justin held onto Brian’s shoulders.
“Brian?” Justin asked, “Brian, I need you to look at me. Open your eyes and look at me.”
Funny. Brian didn’t realize his eyes were closed.
But as soon as he did what Justin asked, his eyes started to burn and throb with pain.
“Fuck!” Brian gasped out, feeling moisture pooling under his eyelids, “Fuck, it hurts!”
“Alright,” Justin choked out, “Let’s get outside. The place could collapse. We’ll get you checked out by a paramedic.”
“You should get checked out too,” Brian insisted, covering his eyes with the palm of his hand.
“I will. I promise.”
Brian couldn’t help but feel grateful for Justin leading him outside. You’d think he’d see a little bit of light coming from the massive hole in the wall but, whenever he tried to open his eyes, all he could see was dense, dark smoke. They ended up finding Emmett on their way, or Emmett found them. Who knew? Through the pain and the panic, knowing that another friend was safe brought relief, even if Emmett didn’t sound like the man Brian had known for over ten years. He had never heard Emmett sound lifeless or in shock. But he was there, even if Brian couldn’t see him.
He could immediately tell when they were outside. The atmosphere was less constricting, the air felt a bit cleaner. But he still couldn’t see. Other than a flashing red and what looked like a shadow passing in front of him, there was nothing there. The realization made his breathing harsh and he can’t help but panic when Justin let go of him and a shadow appeared right in front of him.
“Oh, fuck! Oh, Brian,” Justin moaned, gripping onto Brian’s cheeks, turning the man’s head slowly.
“Justin? Justin, he needs to get to the hospital,” Emmett said worriedly.
“I need help!” Justin shouted, “I need a paramedic!”
The fear in Justin’s voice was a telling sign that Brian was more fucked up than he realized but it didn’t take long until he was ushered closer to the red flashing light. He felt multiple pairs of hands on him, pushing him down to sit onto a cold metal surface.
He had been so on edge, filled to the brim with adrenalin. But all of it just left him. The pain in his eyes became more pronounced and the only thing that was keeping him from gripping his face in agony was the absolute exhaustion taking over his body.
“Brian,” he heard Justin choke out, sniffling, “Brian, it’s going to be okay.”
“We’ve got a male patient, Brian Kinney, age 34, Babylon explosion. Glass and Shrapnel to the eyes with steady bleeding. We’ll be transporting him to UPMC’s Emergency Room immediately.” Brian heard a voice say. A voice over a radio said something in return but Brian couldn’t focus on what it said.
There was a pause right after before the paramedic said more softly, “Are you his partner?”
Despite the pain and the exhaustion, Brian made himself pay attention to the answer of that question.
“Yes,” Justin answered firmly, “I am his partner.”
“Hop in then.”
He felt Justin grab both of his hands in his as two paramedics lifted him onto a stretcher and made him lie down. He managed to hiss out the words to them that he didn’t need to fucking lie down but the statement was futile.
“Justin?!” Brian heard Jennifer yell, “Justin!”
“Mom!” He heard Justin cry out, “Mom, you have to let go. Brian-”
“Brian?” Jennifer interrupted suddenly, “Oh my god, Brian, honey-”
“I’m gonna ride with him,” Justin informed her, “We need to leave.”
“I’ll meet you at the hospital,” her voice wobbled, “Oh, Brian…”
He didn’t get to answer Jennifer before the ambulance doors closed. He didn’t even get to think of one. He didn’t want to think too hard about anything right now. Not after what he heard the paramedic say. Fuck…
He had let himself lay on the stretcher and bit back a cry as the paramedic restrained his hands to keep him from touching his eyes. Trying not to get worked up, he turned his head to look for Justin, only to realize he still couldn’t see anything.
“Justin?” He rasped out, “Sunshine?”
“I’m here, Brian,” Justin soothed, “It’s going to be alright. I’m here.”
He felt both of Justin’s hands grip his left one and the air from Justin’s breath brush against his cheek as he whispered calming reassurances to him.
“We’ll get through this. We will,” Justin whispered.
“Is everyone else alright?” Brian asked, “Did Michael get out? Debbie? The girls?”
Justin hesitated, which worried Brian. He was about interrogate the younger man further but Justin spoke before he got the chance.
“Emmett, Ted, my mother, and Tucker are all okay. I think Lindsay and Melanie weren’t there. Lindsay texted and said that they were running late. Debbie and Carl went outside before it all happened, ” Justin murmured, “There was a lot of commotion going on, Brian. I don’t know if everyone is okay. Fuck, of course they aren’t okay-”
“Michael?” He slurred in pain, only grounded by Justin’s hands on him and the sensation of the paramedic taking his blood pressure, “What about Michael and Ben?”
Justin sniffled but covered up any emotion he was feeling. That wasn’t good. That could mean...no. No.
“I don’t know, Brian,” Justin told him, “I don’t know how Michael’s doing. While I was trying to get up and help Brandon, I saw Michael...Ben is okay. I mean, Ben is okay physically. Fuck.”
“He needs to stay calm,” the paramedic said softly, “His blood pressure is high. It isn’t good for the bleeding and his injuries.”
“Justin,” Brian strained, gasping with pain, “Justin, what about Michael? What aren’t you telling me about Michael?”
“Shhhh…” Justin tried to comfort, “I don’t know what’s going on with Michael, okay? Come on, try to calm down. If I don’t see Debbie and Ben at the ER, I will make some calls when we get there. We’ll find out. Michael’s strong. He’ll be fine. Just try to calm down.”
Brian felt harsh breaths come through his mouth, making his chest heave and the pain worsen. He couldn’t deal with this. He couldn’t do shit. He could only lie there, scared out of his mind, as Justin answered questions about his fucking medical history.
“He’s going to need to be sedated,” the paramedic said, “He’s having a panic attack.”
“I know,” Justin muttered, “Shhh, Brian, it’s alright. Steady breaths, come on-
“Traffic isn’t great and it’s taking longer than usual to get there. With his blood pressure the way it is and the way he’s pulling at the restraints, it could further agitate the injuries,” the man continued.
There was a silence before Justin cleared his throat, “They’re going to sedate you, Brian. It’ll make you feel better and help you calm down. I’m still right here, just try and focus on my voice.”
“How long will it take for the sedative to work?” Justin asked the paramedic quietly.
“Almost instantly. I’ll be giving it to him intravenously so it goes directly into his bloodstream,” the man explained as he inserted a canula into the back of Brian’s hand and placed an oxygen mask over his mouth.
“Brian, you’re going to feel a little light headed and dizzy, but that’s perfectly normal, alright?” The paramedic told him.
Brian immediately felt the sedative dampening his nerves slightly, but his mind was still in overdrive.
“J’stin?” he slurred.
Brian felt Justin’s fingers tighten around his hand. He felt the younger man stroking Brian’s knuckle with his thumb and tried to focus on just that sensation.
“I’m here, Brian,” Justin soothed, brushing Brian’s hair back with his other hand, “I’m right here.”
“Don’t leave,” Brian croaked out as the sounds of the world started to fade around him.
Brian wished that he could see Justin’s face, but he couldn’t. As he started to go into a twilight rest, he thought he felt a breath on his face, a hand brush his cheek, and something wet. But he was too tired to be completely sure.