Brian David Gilbert was a talented, successful young man working as a video producer in New York. An icon to many people, a self made inspiration with a talent for entertainment. He was far from average.
Very far from average.
Born in 1994, the youngest of three siblings. Got a lip scar from a childhood accident. Went to Johns Hopkins, moved from Maryland to New York to search for a job, and eventually got a job working for Polygon. His life story is full and concrete, but only a fraction of it was achieved by Brian himself.
In fact, he had only lived about three years. Completely oblivious to the life he once lived. He didn’t know. He couldn't. But there was someone who knew. Two someones.
Two someones that held a deadly secret, and the strongest hope humanity has ever had.
“And then he farted on all of the curtains, again!”
Lin slammed his fists on the table, crippled with laughter as Justin finished his anecdote, now jokingly reveling in his limelight. Griffin chuckled and rolled his eyes, knowing the extreme exaggerations of the story, all while Travis was busy reading the post- show tweets. They had just finished their New York MBMBaM show, and decided to meet Lin afterwards to catch up over dinner. Seated in a comfortable rounded booth table near a window that looked outwards onto a well decorated back patio, they relaxed in a cacophony of piano music, warm lighting, and the calm chaos of a Tuesday night in New York. A wonderful atmosphere, as the four boys, men, drifted into a conversation about parenting.
Until the atmosphere wasn’t so wonderful.
Without warning, a thin, well dressed figure came crashing through the window, performing a perfect somersault before straightening out into a panicked stance, turning to face the McElroys (and Miranda.) A stunned silence filled the restaurant as shards of glass fell gracelessly to the floor. Lin an Travis remained motionless while Justin pulled a sharpie from his pocket and proceeded to write ‘10’ on a napkin, then raising it above his head. Griffin was the first to speak.
His former co-worker maintained a timid stance, ran his fingers through his long, curly hair and adjusted his glasses before speaking, his voice higher and more panicked than normal.
“Hi… Griffin, Justin,” he cleared his throat before rushing out his words, “other McElroy brother and Tony award winning writer of the outstandingly popular broadway musical Hamilton, Mr. Lin Manuel Miranda, sir, pleasure to meet you, pleasure to meet you both,” as his voice cracked to a whine, he took a deep breath, pressing his hands together against his nose, lowering them as he exhaled, straightened the collar of his button-up shirt and continued. “You should come to the office, uh, there’s a new hire we want you to meet. Please.”
BDG bounced a bit on his leg, hand behind his head, and he gave a pained smile. Justin finally lowered his makeshift sign and shrugged.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place, to the Polygon Alumni Hall of Fame!™ We’ll just finish dinner and-“
Brian’s face morphed into the expression of the polite cat that everyone loved for a few weeks, still bouncing on his toes, now doing it to ‘em but in an anxious manner.
Griffin shifted in his seat a bit, and moved one of his two watches under his shirt sleeve, with the clock face on the rear of his forearm. He exchanged a concerned look with Justin, but Justin seemed pretty chill about the whole situation. In fact, everyone was pretty chill because none of the other patrons or employees said anything about the man that busted through a window, the world around them had resumed as if nothing was wrong, because everyone on Earth understands that you never question the McElroys.
Griffin cleared his throat and looked around the restaurant before standing up and speaking with faux confidence,
“Well, Justin, let’s go! It’ll be nice to see everyone again.” When Justin replied only with a blank stare, Griffin slapped his arm. Justin’s eyes widened and he stood up, bumping the table and quite literally climbing over Travis, who was sitting next to him. Griffin shoved some breadsticks into his pockets because it be like that.
“Cool, I, uh... I’m just gonna climb out of this window, you can go through the front, or not.”
As he finished his sentence he leapt out the window with outstanding grace, and the sound of a motorcycle grew deafening outside.
Justin and Griffin walked out to the back patio, where BDG sat on a dope ass motorcycle with two sidecars. Without question, they jumped in, and Brian drove very badly to the Polygon office.
(Timeskip brought to you by Brian’s incredibly powerful twink energy and my lack of motivation to write shit.)
Once they arrived, things were going on as per usual. Jenna and Simone were cackling at whatever they were editing, Pat was on the ceiling, and Jeff, Clayton and Ross were just kind of chilling. A young man they didn’t recognize was talking to Tara, likely a new hire or intern receiving instruction from the boss. Nothing out of the ordinary. But there was an odd man out.
At a lone computer sat a young man, couldn’t be older than 22. He had neatly cut blonde hair, the beginnings of a beard clinging to his chin, and square glasses framing his freckled face. He was sitting in his chair correctly, with good posture and what appeared to be incredible focus on whatever he was working on. Once their eyes fell on him, every motion stopped on a dime, and he looked up at the three people that had entered the office. A smile grew across his face and he stood up.
“Brian, you’re back! And you’ve brought-“ He stopped and his eyes grew wide, “the McElroy brothers!!” His voice seemed to alert everyone in the office, and suddenly everyone flocked over to them, excited to see their former co-workers in person. But the man stood still, an unmoving island amongst a sea.
After the catching up was done, the man still stood, and walked over to the group of three, his hand extended. “My name is, Joel. I’m a new intern here. I idolize the two of you, it’s a pleasure.” Griffin hesitantly took his hand, but once he shook it, he saw nothing wrong. No suffocating grip, no forceful movements, released at the perfect time, easing his nerves. “Well, Joel, the pleasure’s all mine!”
Brian fidgeted with his nails as he watched Justin shake hands with Joel, and the oldest brother saw nothing wrong with the handshake. Just a socially awkward, hard working kid. Both of them had been one of those before, but Brian’s visible caution was unwavering. Once the introductions were finished, Brian took the brothers deeper into the office with little to no explanation. Justin broke the silence surrounding the three of them in an attempt to puncture the heavy blanket of discomfort that they all felt.
“So, was Joel the one you wanted us to meet? Or was it the other kid?”
Brian, who was walking ahead, turned to look back at Justin “The other kid?” A moment passed before his eyes widened. “Oh, him! Uh, no, I meant Joel. Jo-el.” He slowed the word down as if he was struggling to understand the name.
“Well, who is the other kid?” Griffin began munching on one of his pocket breadsticks as he tilted his head back towards where ‘the other kid’ was standing. He had a gentle face with sharp structures. Warm brown curls fell from his head in every direction, the longest coils coming down to the base of his ears. He brushed a lock out of his face as he conversed with Simone, smiling pleasantly when he noticed the brothers looking in his direction. He never introduced himself to them.
When Brian’s gaze met his, he turned away quickly, coughing when he answered Griffin’s question. “That’s Nick.” Both brothers winced at the name, but BDG continued. “Dominick, actually, but he, uh, goes by Nick, I guess. The name was off putting for people, which is understandable, but I think he’s rewriting our perceptions of the name. He’s been here for about two weeks, but he’s too good to be an intern.” His face grew sour again as he continued, “That’s why we have Joel now.” Again, he slowed down the name. It was like he was trying to speak with molasses on the tongue. “Here, kitchen. I don’t think anyone’s in there.”
They turned through a doorway into a decently large kitchen, considering the size of the office. Brian let out a breath that he seemed to be holding since they walked in the building, tension visibly leaving his body. Justin leaned on the counter and tapped his toes, attempting to break the silence again.
“So, Bri, why’d you want us to meet ol’ JoJo?”
“Justin, please don’t call him that.” Brian stroked his hair as he looked through the fridge. “He’s not… normal. It’s freaking me out, the way he acts, the way he talks, he seems fake. Almost too perfect. But everybody loves him.” He stood up with a single piece of bread in hand and closed the door.
“So, you want us to shit on him with you?” Griffin pulled a chair out from the table, sitting down as he spoke. Brian quickly refuted through his bread-filled mouth, “no, I need your help.” “Well, Griffin and I are only in New York for tonight, then we’re all going back home. The tour is over!”
“Brian, if you really need our help, we might be able to stay for a bit. Hang out in that hotel for a few more days. Right, Juice?” Griffin rubbed his forearm, Justin nodded, and Brian got more bread. But then uh oh.
“Hey, what are you all talking about?”
Brian, head in fridge, hit his head as he jumped from shock. Unaware of how long Joel had been standing there, he tried to play it off, hoping they hadn’t been caught. “Uhh, production! They’re uhh… they’re the experts! Just need some tips! From the pros! Uh, right?!”
The brothers nodded frantically, and Joel shrugged before walking over to the coffee pot.
“You know, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to working with my idols, I don’t know how you do it!” He grabbed a mug from a shelf and began to pour the coffee, slowly turning to the others.
“There must be something very, very… special about you. All of you. Especially you.”
He froze, the only sound seemed to be the coffee pouring.
“Isn’t that right, Brian David Gilbert?”
Silence. Joel tipped the pot back upwards as the liquid reached the rim of the cup, then laughed. Not an evil laugh, a genuine laugh. “I’m just messing around. Well, you’re still special but, well… I just wanted to see how you would react!” He then picked up the cup in one swift movement and walked off, not spilling a single drop. Griffin pulled another breadstick from his pocket and looked at his brother. “Weird kid.”
Brian looked through the doorway, watching Joel turn the corner. The moment he was out of sight, he grabbed Justin’s shoulder and spoke through shaky breaths, “Come with me, now. And run. ”
And so, the three of them tripped down the hallway to a locked door. Pulling a key from a chain around his neck, Brian clumsily unlocked it and held it open as the brothers ducked into the dimly lit room, still confused as to why they were running in the first place.
Brian frantically slammed the door, locking it before covering it with as much of his body as he could, heaving and sweating. Only a small portion of the room was visible with the caged red light over the door. As the McElboys stared into the void, BDG walked into it, he pulled a chain from the ceiling, illuminating the room in its entirety. Cross-string diagrams covered the walls and ceilings; everything from newspaper clippings, papers used in Unraveled videos, used ketchup packets, photographs, aluminum foil, some of the tacks were even connected with guitar strings. Once properly illuminated, the front wall revealed countless equations written in black marker, barely visible on the dark walls. And in the dead center of the back wall hung a whiteboard, almost every string connected, illegible marker writing covering every centimeter. Griffin walked around in a state of astonishment, gently tracing the strings with two fingers, Justin staring at the ceiling and attempting to follow the lines with his gaze.
Justin spun on his heels to look Brian in the eyes, barely able to force out words.
“Brian, what the hell is this?”
“Justin!” Griffin quickly chirped at his brother, twisting around to look at the two others. Brian somehow maintained his calmness (although ‘calm’ for BDG is far from calm.) He ran his hands through his hair and took deep breaths before walking around the room, gesturing at his work as he spoke
“See, I usually use this room to plan Unraveled episodes, but ever since that fucker got hired I’ve been suspicious. So I’m using this room, and my experience in deduction, to prove that there’s something up with him. I don’t have a solid theory yet, but I’m working on it, and with Sonic as my witness, I’m going to find out what’s going on!” He stamped his foot on the ground, almost yelling as he waved his arms wildly in the general direction of the whiteboard. Justin coughed. Griffin sniffed and pushed up his glasses. There was a knock on the door, and Brian’s gaze softened a bit as he walked over to it, barely cracking the door, whispering, before opening it just enough for Pat to lean in.
“I heard yelling, so I figured I’d ask Brian if he wanted tea. He wants tea. Do either of you want tea?”
Justin nodded. Griffin nodded. Brian stood motionless. Pat nodded, then ducked out. Brian closed the door with a gentle touch, as if he was stroking a horse, but he hated horses. Very much so. Seconds after the door clicked shut, Brian marched back across the room to where he stood before Pat’s kind interruption, taking his jacket off and throwing it at the floor with great force, as if he was striking a horse. You shouldn’t hit horses, though, even if you don’t like them. After another deep breath, Brian began speaking again. “I need your help. Everyone here loves you two, they’ll listen to you. They won’t listen to me, I’m still new, they’ll listen to you though. Please.”
Griffin took a breath. “Can I uhh… talk to my brother for a moment? Alone?”
Brian sighed, nodded, and replied “Sure. I’ll go check on the tea.” Then proceeded to leave the McElroys alone.
“Justin, this is bad. ” Griffin pinched the bridge of his nose and began walking in circles. “This isn’t video game shit anymore, this is real life shit. He’s acting like, himself again.”
Justin struggled to find his words. “Ditto, this isn’t something to worry about, he’s an actor , he’s probably just-“
“Don’t use nicknames and childhood brotherly shit right now, this is serious.” He rolled up his sleeve, revealing the second watch he’d been teased about for several years, showing it only for a moment before jerking his sleeve back down and cracking his wrist.
“Griffin, he’s just pissed off at this guy for one reason or another. We know he can’t be a real threat, he got rid of all of the real threats. You know that! I know that! Everyone knows that, wait, not everyone, no, that would be bad.”
“This is what he does when there’s a threat, though. Even if this guy is just an asshole, this is the closest he can get to a ‘real’ threat. Do you get what I’m saying?”
Before Justin could respond, Brian re-entered the room with three bottles of unnamed, unmarked, totally-not-piss tea.
Griffin froze. “I thought Pat was making tea?”
Brian tossed a bottle to Griffin as he spoke, “He was going to, but then Joel showed up, and I wanted to get out of there, so I just got bottled tea.” Griffin caught the tea, as did Justin when his was thrown. Brian took a Big Sipp™ and then put the bottle on the floor.
“So, brothers, what do you say?”
With an exchange of concerned looks, they turned back to the madman, and nodded. Brian’s face spread into a smile, and he put his hands together joyously.
“Let’s get started.”