WAYFARERS

"A Romance of the Old West"

"A Queer As Folk USA Alternative Universe FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter Twenty-five -- "The Incident -- Part I"

The other stories in the "Wayfarers" series.

Features Brian Kinney, William Reynolds, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Reynolds and Brian visit Manhattan. New York City, May 1844.

New York City, May 1844

Brian and Reynolds were walking along Lower Broadway one morning after they had been in the city of New York for about two weeks.

Brian was still more than a little frightened when they went out onto the main thoroughfares. The mass of humanity, the horse-drawn conveyances, the shouting, the mud, the smoke, and the smell of animals, garbage, and unwashed people all reminded Brian of the short time that the Kinneys had stayed in this same city before they moved on to Pittsburgh, and the terror that Brian had felt as a small child still lingered. He took a tighter hold of Reynolds' steady hand as they strolled and looked into the shop windows.

"David!"

Brian felt Reynolds flinch, but he did not stop walking.

"David!"

Yes, the voice was definitely directed at them, thought Brian. He felt Reynolds quicken his pace slightly, urging him along the sidewalk.

"Please! Speak to me!"

A short, stout man in a dark, sober suit cut in front of them, panting from hurrying to catch up with the pair. He had a trim black beard and was wearing a broad-brimmed black hat. He also had sharp blue eyes that reminded Brian of Reynolds' own.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I fear that you have mistaken me for someone else," said Reynolds, shortly. He tried to step around the man, but the sidewalk was narrow and crowded.

The fellow would not be denied. "David, why will you not speak with me?" he demanded. He had a slight accent, but to Brian's ears all the people of New York sounded odd and foreign. "You have no quarrel with me. Let us go some place where it is quieter."

Reynolds merely stared at the man. But Brian could feel that his master's entire body was coiled, as if to spring at any moment.

"You look quite prosperous, David. Are you living in town? At least tell me that," the man persisted.

"I am here on business," said Reynolds, evenly. "And we are leaving soon. Very soon."

The man gazed at Brian, as if noticing him for the first time. "Is this your son? He's a fine-looking lad! What is your name, child?"

"Brian," he blurted out. Reynolds let go of the Boy's hand and put his arm around his shoulder, pulling him closer, as if the man might try to spirit Brian away.

"Brian?" The man frowned and stared at Brian's green eyes. "But that's an Irish name, is it not?"

"His mother was an Irishwoman," Reynolds stated.

"Oh," the man whispered. "I see. An Irishwoman." He stepped back. "Here is my card. Take it, please."

Reynolds took the card reluctantly and shoved it into a small pocket in his waistcoat.

"Perhaps you will call on me? Or write? I can understand that you might not wish to... to see certain other people, but...." The man hesitated, but Reynolds' face betrayed no emotion. The man extended his hand, but Reynolds did not shake it.

"Whatever you may be thinking, I am glad to have seen you today, David," said the stout man. "Believe that. And your boy, as well." Then he added something in German. Brian recognized the language, but he didn't understand the words. Brian knew that Reynolds spoke German as fluently as he spoke English or French. Reynolds owned a book of German poetry and he often read German newspapers when they were available. Brian suspected that he had been born in Germany, but his master was so close-mouthed about his origins that Brian could not be certain. Of course, he could never be certain of anything about William Reynolds. Not even his name.

The stranger turned and walked away, looking back briefly.

Reynolds look a firm hold of Brian's hand and led him back up Broadway, directly to their hotel on Park Row. He said nothing further about the man they had met on the street.

***

That evening Reynolds did something he did only rarely. He got drunk.

He sent the porter out to buy a bottle of rye whiskey and he sat on the settee in the hotel room and drank it down until it was empty, glass by glass.

Brian was at the desk, copying out a long poem by Sir Walter Scott, practicing his script with a new pen that Reynolds had bought him at a stationery store on Broadway. He watched Reynolds out of the corner of his eye, wondering what he was thinking. Wondering what it was he was trying to forget.

The pair had arrived in New York after spending the winter and spring of 1844 traveling up the coastline, through Savannah, Charleston, Washington, and Baltimore. In each place they had paused a few weeks, just long enough for Reynolds to search out the local gaming establishments and make a quick score. Reynolds stuck mainly to poker, easing Brian into his new role as a lure. Brian set up the mark, some sucker who had been waving his money around and who they typically spotted in a saloon, with a sad story about losing his dear old mother's money to a card sharp. "Please, mister," Brian would plead. "Can you help me get it back?"

Brian's tearful face was usually enough to get the attention of the mark, but sometimes Brian had to press a little harder if the fellow seemed hesitant. Moving up against the man. Touching him furtively, but firmly. Catching his interest and making silent promises that Brian had no intention of fulfilling. But the mark didn't know that. What the mark saw was an innocent boy who was in trouble. Who needed rescuing. And who was certain to be grateful -- very grateful -- to the man who retrieved the pretty boy's money from a slick crook.

Of course, Brian led the mark directly to Reynolds, who played him like a fish on a line. At first Reynolds allowed the mark to win a few hands and Brian would lean against the fellow in excitement, putting his arm around him, or placing his long fingers on the man's thigh. And that made it even easier to read the mark's cards and then signal the hand to Reynolds across the table.

It was almost ridiculous how easy it was. The mark was usually so aroused by the time Reynolds pounced on him that he hardly even noticed that he'd been wiped out. But the boy -- he was thankful that the man had tried to get his dear mother's money back! Indebted to him for his kindness. Perhaps the man had lost his money, but the boy would make it up to him. The boy would thank him personally. He would meet him behind the saloon, or in the alley, or upstairs in the hallway of the brothel. In 10 minutes. Or in a half hour. By which time Brian and Reynolds were already back at their hotel, counting up their take. Yes, thought Brian, it was easy as pie.

But in New York Reynolds backed off on this dodge. New Yorkers were more savvy to such tricks, even though Reynolds had taken this old scam and replaced the usual comely female partner with the new twist of the charming, alluring boy. Instead, in New York Reynolds went out each night to the gambling dens and sporting houses to play a few hands on his own, leaving Brian behind in the hotel room. Reynolds felt unsettled in New York and he didn't want to risk making a mistake here. It was easy to make a bad mistake in New York -- a mistake that it wouldn't be so simple to rectify.

Brian watched Reynolds methodically empty his bottle of whiskey. When Reynolds finally set the glass down, Brian stopped up his bottle of India ink, cleaned his pen, closed his book, and stood up from the desk. He steered Reynolds off the settee and over to the bed, pulling off his trousers and shirt, folding them carefully, and putting them away in the dresser drawer. Then he turned down the oil lamp, hung his silk Chinese robe on the bedpost, climbed in next to his master, and pulled the coverlet over them.

Reynolds' breath was ragged, but Brian knew he wasn't asleep yet. Brian could see his blue eyes glittering in the darkness as they caught the light from the window. Their hotel room faced the street and even in the middle of the night there were lights on all over this insomniac city. Brian put his head in the crook of Reynolds' arm and reached across his chest, stroking the wiry hair.

"Billy? Who was that man?" Brian whispered.

"What man?" was the slurred response.

"The one who spoke to you on the street. He knew you."

"He mistook me. I'm not the man he thought I was," Reynolds said, his voice emotionless.

Brian hesitated. "Who did he think you were?"

Reynolds sighed. "Someone who does not exist. A phantom. Don't trouble yourself about that man. We'll never see him again, Boy."

Brian licked his dry lips. "Is he someone who can harm you?"

Brian was still thinking of Pascal Leclerc, the man Reynolds had shot dead in a duel in New Orleans that past January. For many weeks, as they laid up in an obscure hotel in Mobile, Alabama, while Reynolds' wound healed, Brian had lived in fear that one of Leclerc's friends or relatives was on their trail, hot on taking revenge. But no one had come after them -- at least not yet.

Reynolds sniffed. His voice was still heavy with rye whiskey. "No, Boy, that man will not harm me. He's a ghost himself. An apparition from another life. And a ghost can't hurt a living man. He can only remind you of the past -- or warn you of the future. Remember the ghost in 'Hamlet' when we saw that play in Charleston? He was a powerless wraith. He only rattled his chains and then sank into the floor of the stage."

But Brian shivered and held onto Reynolds even tighter. That play had terrified him. The ghost seemed horribly real with his moans and bloody clothes and rattling chains. And at the end of the play all the characters in it lay dead on the stage. Reynolds' literary analogy did not make Brian feel very comforted. "How long are we staying in New York?" Brian asked. He was already eager to leave.

Reynolds shrugged. "We shall not remain much into the summer months. This city is a pest-house in hot weather, breeding all manner of disease. I was thinking that we might travel northward where the climate will be cooler. Montreal is a worthy town and you may practice your French there."

Brian sat up in excitement. "Are we going to cross the ocean after that? You said we might go to Paris! Or London!"

"That would be fresh territory, indeed. And you are almost ready to meet that challenge -- almost. You work the marks like a seasoned professional, Boy. But we do not want to be too hasty. Marks in places like New York or Paris are not country cretins. They are not as easily taken in. You must be as polished as a perfect diamond before we chance the salons of the Continent."

Reynolds hugged Brian close to him. He was still drunk, but he was no longer so melancholy as he held his Boy in his arms.

"Go to sleep now," said Reynolds. "And let me sleep as well or I'll have a devil of a hangover when I open my eyes on tomorrow."

"I don't like this city," Brian whispered.

"There's nothing to fear, Boy," Reynolds whispered back. "I promise you."

***

The next day Reynolds took Brian on a long stroll across the island of Manhattan. They passed through many neighborhoods, some grand and some downtrodden, but all teaming with activity. The streets of New York never seemed to be at rest and that rattled Brian. He longed for the slow and easy-going feel of Charleston or New Orleans, where everyone smiled at you and laughter was heard in the streets. New Yorkers were abrupt and quick to anger. Men spit everywhere, not even turning their heads away from a lady's skirts. Brian's britches and shoes were filthy after a day of walking even though the May weather was quite fine.

Reynolds slowed his pace as they entered a prosperous-looking area. There was a mix of businesses and well-kept stone houses, but the people interested Brian the most. The men were all dressed in black with wide-brimmed hats, like the short, stout man who had spoken to Reynolds on the street. And the women wore foreign-looking scarves and elaborate hats as they walked to market, their arms linked together. There were no saloons or whorehouses in evidence here, but Brian did see one familiar sight.

"Look!" He pointed to a building across the street. "That sign is like the one on the bath house in Pittsburgh! And that one, too!" Brian recognized the slanted letters. There were other signs in English and also many in German, which Brian also recognized but could not read. The many languages and the strange people in this city never failed to amaze the Boy.

"That's a bakery," said Reynolds. "And that other one is a dry goods store. There are a number of bath houses in the area, but they are off the main street."

"Can you read all those signs?" Brian asked.

"Of course," Reynolds sniffed. And he pulled Brian along the sidewalk.

Farther down the street was a more residential area. Children played and people passed by, but it was unlike the more raucous neighborhoods of the other sections of town. A few of the houses here were quite large and impressive, set back from the avenue with black wrought-iron fences and tall gates. Reynolds stopped in front of one of them. The yard was a mass of flowers, mainly newly blooming red roses climbing on trellises. A few of the climbers were curling around the iron fence near the street. Reynolds reached over, pulled off an open bloom, and put it into a buttonhole on his waistcoat.

"That's a beauty!" Brian laughed. "I hope no one sees you take it and chases us away. I picked some flowers for Madame once out of a yard and the man chased me halfway back to the Paradise, yelling at me. But I was too fast for him to catch!"

"I'm not worried. I doubt if anyone in this house would chase me down the street for the price of a rose. Here." Reynolds smiled. He pulled off another rose, this one just a bud, and placed it in the buttonhole of Brian's blue jacket. "Never be afraid to adorn yourself, Boy. Beauty shows off beauty. Someday you will have more roses than you know what to do with. Men will shoot each other to be the first to lay them at your feet."

"What men?" asked Brian, frowning. "You're making sport of me again, Billy. Don't say such foolish things!"

Reynolds gazed at the large house. It was obviously occupied. The grounds were well cared for and curtains fluttered at the open windows of the house, but not another movement could be seen, as if it were inhabited by ghosts. "I never say foolish things, Boy. Especially when it concerns you. See that house?"

Brian nodded. A sudden chill raced through him, but he didn't know why.

"It looks like a comfortable domicile, but what it is is a prison. All such houses are prisons," said Reynolds, fervently. "They are designed to keep a man from being himself. To keep him from being free. Never be tempted to be chained to such a place, Boy. Let other men spend their lives and fortunes on such folly. They may seem content, but they envy men who are truly free -- like us."

"They do?" Brian stared at the house. The black iron fence seemed much more ominous now and the silence of the place eerie.

"Yes," said Reynolds. "A man should never plant his hopes and dreams on such barren soil. If he does, he can never be himself. He can never live as his nature decrees. Others will always hold the key and keep him locked in. The only remedy is escape."

Reynolds put his arm around Brian's shoulders and led him up the street, but William Reynolds kept looking back at the house until it was completely out of their sight.

***

Reynolds had made a large score at one of the gambling parlors in Five Points and he decided to spend a bit of his stake before he and Brian moved on to Boston and then Montreal for the summer months. Brian put on one of his best suits, a dark green light-weight serge worn with a white lawn shirt, while Reynolds was resplendent in his black evening suit, top hat, and cloak. Reynolds also wore one of his most elaborate waistcoats -- blood red silk figured with white roses and green vines in satin thread.

Reynolds looked every inch the sporting blade, thought Brian proudly, as they were seated at a table in a fine eating house near City Hall. There were many other well-dressed men on the town, but none who carried himself with the arrogant ease of his master.

The eating house was louder and by no means as elegant as dining establishments the pair had frequented in New Orleans and Charleston. But the food was plentiful -- large beefsteaks served with potatoes and loaves of fresh bread with crocks of whipped butter. None of the delicate sauces or piquant spices that Brian had savored in the South were in evidence here, but he didn't mind. This eating house was not meant for epicures looking for subtle flavorings. This was a place for monied men of simple, but hearty tastes. These men, and the flashy-looking, bejeweled females who accompanied them, ate a lot and spat with gusto into the brass spittoons and smoked fat black cigars that filled the big dining room with acrid smoke. It seemed to Brian that in New York nothing was ever done quietly or on a small scale, but as expansively and noisily as possible.

After they had finished their repast, Reynolds and Brian went to the Bowery Theater to take in the evening's offering. Reynolds loved the theater and Brian had picked up his master's enthusiasm. But this was unlike theaters that Brian had attended in Savannah or Charleston, and very unlike the Opera House in New Orleans. The Bowery Theater itself was brightly lit with crystal chandeliers and shining fittings, and the pricey seats were upholstered with crimson brocade, much like the theaters down South, but there the similarities ended.

A play was in progress, with scenery and costumes that were colorful and elaborate to Brian's eyes, but hardly anyone was looking at the stage. It seemed that the presentation of a dramatic interlude was secondary to visiting with neighbors, roaming the hallways in search of friends, showing off one's finery, and beckoning to vendors, who trolled the aisles selling fruit and bottles of ginger beer. The pit, the ground floor of the theater, was filled with rowdy young men who hollered at the actors, threw food, and started brawls at the drop of a hat. The boxes, where Reynolds and Brian sat, were the most expensive seats, but even there socializing, eating, and drinking took precedence over actually watching the performance. And in the upper tiers, the cheapest of the seats, Brian recognized the painted ladies of the town carrying on their trade openly, waving to potential customers down in the pit. Brian had never seen anything quite like it.

The drama, such as it was, was interrupted frequently by vulgar musical turns, acrobats in scanty attire, and even a troupe of performing dogs. No one seemed to think this the least bit odd.

"What does this have to do with the play?" asked Brian. There was no use whispering to Reynolds, for everyone around them was talking loudly. So loudly that Brian could barely hear the actors when they did have occasion to speak.

"Nothing whatsoever," sighed Reynolds, lighting a thin Turkish cigarette. "Let us thank God that this is a mere trifle and not a work by the Immortal Bard that is being butchered here tonight, for I do not think I could endure to watch these ruffians throwing peanut shells at Romeo or Marc Antony. The theater in New York is a carnival and not a matter for improvement of the mind and sensibilities. In this city one comes to the theater to idle, argue, and make assignations. In fact, that is what most social gatherings in New York are all about."

"What a strange town this is!" exclaimed Brian, shaking his head.

"Let us go, Boy," said Reynolds, leading Brian out of the box. "This will continue for hours yet."

On the way out a man stopped Reynolds. "My dear fellow! Are you retiring so soon?"

"Yes, Sims. I thought the play would amuse my young ward here," said Reynolds. "But there is only so much profaning of the theater that I can stomach. I follow the Ancient Greeks in seeing the stage as an altar at which to worship Art and not as a bawdy house."

"You ARE a highfalutin' scoundrel and that's a fact!" the man guffawed. "Speaking of bawdy houses, I was just on my way to McHale's place. Perhaps you and the Boy would join me?" Mr. Sims was another sporting man who traveled in many of the same circles, although not on as high a level as Reynolds -- or with as much success. Sims perused Brian with great interest. The famous Boy. He had heard tell of him. And he was as fetching as the rumors heralded. "And your ward might find it instructive."

Reynolds frowned. Silas Sims was not his ideal companion. But Reynolds also wasn't ready to end the evening. Perhaps a few hours at McHale's might be diverting. "Yes, a nightcap might sweeten the evening. And you are not yet fatigued, are you, Boy?"

Brian grinned in response. No, he was far from fatigued. And the mention of a bawdy house always stirred his curiosity.

McHale's was a small but finely furnished building a few streets away from the Bowery Theater. Brian immediately recognized it as a house of assignation for wealthy gentleman. A house of assignation was different from a brothel in that the trade did not live on the premises. It was a place of meeting only. The keeper of the house provided food and drink and let rooms to customers, but that was all. The whores were independent and free to come and go at will as long as they paid a small fee to the keeper for the privilege of meeting congenial gentlemen. And the customers paid only a token price to enter the house and meet these friendly young men. The keeper thus avoided the stigma connected with houses of ill fame and the trade did not have to patrol the street. For in New York the selling of sex in itself was not against the law, only soliciting for customers or operating a disorderly house. In this way Mr. McHale avoided the attention of the authorities as long as his guests were well-behaved and business did not spill out into the street.

William Reynolds was greeted personally by Mr. McHale, a blustery fellow in a well-cut evening suit. Brian looked around the house with interest. It was certainly far superior to Lady Fern's down-scale Jewel Box in Cincinnati, but it also lacked the gaiety and high spirits of Monsieur Henri's boy house in New Orleans, with its mirrored walls, plush carpeting, and lively boys costumed as Greek slaves or harem boys. Instead, McHale's was more like a sedate gentleman's club, with men in evening suits smoking cigars and drinking cognac as they sat and chatted with the young men offering their services.

Reynolds greeted a number of the gentlemen who were in the parlor. That did not surprise Brian. Everyone in the sporting life, no matter what city they visited, seemed to know William Reynolds, either personally or by reputation. That made Brian puff himself up with pride. His master's skill at cards and his fame as a gambler made him welcome and admired everywhere. It was no matter that the places where Reynolds was lauded were saloons, brothels, and gambling dens. Those places were the center of their life. And they were all that Brian had ever known.

"This must be the famous Boy," said one gentleman. He was wearing brightly striped trousers, yellow waistcoat, and a burgundy velvet frock coat. The man grinned, revealing tobacco-stained teeth. He was petting a red-headed young man who lounged next to him on the divan. "I was wondering when you would produce this lad we have heard so much about, Reynolds. Is it true that you bought him in New Orleans from a French Duke?"

Reynolds snorted. "I made my ward's acquaintance much farther up the River almost a year ago. Is that not so, Boy?"

Brian batted his green eyes at the man. "A year next month and that's a fact. And it was from a DUCHESS, not a Duke!" And the gentleman all laughed.

"Get me a glass of wine, Brian," Reynolds requested. He watched Brian move to the bar. A number of the other gentlemen also took note of Brian's lithe form and a few of the young men sniffed in his direction. They understood instinctively that Brian was as far above them as Reynolds himself was above the typical card cheat.

"I thought we might see the lad in action on this trip, Reynolds," said the man in the striped trousers. "I hear you are training him up just grand. That he signals so cunningly that the marks never catch to it." The man glanced over at the bar, where Brian was waiting for the glass of wine. "He's a winning creature, no doubt."

"He is," agreed Reynolds. But he did not offer any more information to the other gambler. That was one reason why Reynolds had not brought the Boy out in New York. There was no honor among thieves in this rough city. A jealous rival might well tip a mark off to the game and that would be a disaster. On Manhattan, the island of Reynolds' birth, he had always relied on his skill to carry him through. It would not do to be revealed here, where his true name might come to light. So in this city Reynolds played straight. And still he walked away from the table with a windfall more often than not.

Another gentleman, very elegantly and expensively dressed, came to the bar as Brian picked up the glass of wine for his master. The man spoke to the Boy softly, coming directly to the point. "You are new here. And so very young. What is your name? And what is your price?"

"I am here with my master, sir," said Brian, politely, but firmly.

"Your master? Who is your master?" inquired the man brusquely. His servant, a thin fellow with dirty blond hair, ordered a bottle of champagne for the two of them.

"Mr. Reynolds," said Brian. "Excuse me now, sir."

The man, Mr. Nathaniel Archibald, watched the Boy return to his master with the wine. He nudged his servant. "William Reynolds. I was not aware that he would be here tonight. Let us see about this interesting new development." Archibald raised his slanted black eyebrows.

"The Boy, you mean?" asked the blond man, who was more than a mere servant, but also Mr. Archibald's intimate companion in affairs of the night. "He's a beauty. A rare beauty."

Archibald nodded. "You know how I have a taste for rare beauty."

The servant licked his lips. "Maybe he'd rent the kid out? Or lend him?"

But Archibald shook his head. "William Reynolds? Never. Jews don't share their prized possessions, but hold on to them tightly. That is how they have survived these thousands of years. By holding on tightly to what is theirs."

"So what, then?" asked the servant, his eyes glittering.

"Let us see what we may see," answered the master.

Archibald and his man approached the gambler, who was taking his ease in the parlor. "Mr. Reynolds, sir. May I sit with you?"

Reynolds assessed the man coolly. Nathaniel Archibald was from a wealthy old New York merchant family and known to have a taste for debauchery. They had played cards together a number of times, always for high stakes. Archibald was a good player, but not a professional. Reynolds noted the man's lover, too, who passed as his valet to the outside world.

"Of course. Archibald," said Reynolds. "I missed you at the Peacock the other night."

"I heard that you cleaned out old Cunningham there," Archibald laughed. "He always bets beyond his ability. But then he can afford to lose. He always has another ship coming in from the Indies to replenish his cashbox."

Reynolds nodded. "It is a pleasure to take money from a man who can lose with dignity. And Mr. Cunningham loses most cheerfully. I would take his money any day of the year if it were permitted."

Brian sat down on the arm of Reynolds' chair. He did not like the way that Mr. Archibald's servant was eyeing him. Archibald himself never gave Brian so much as a glance, but still Brian felt that there was something strange about the pair. That they were sizing him up. And that made Brian nervous.

Brian took the wine glass from his master's hand and sipped the vintage to brace himself. But Reynolds was chatting easily with Mr. Archibald. They were obviously old acquaintances. The blond servant had pale eyes that never left Brian's face. Eyes that reminded Brian of a dead fish. The Boy felt a chill move up his spine.

The two gentlemen talked for a long while, discussing the best eating establishments, the play at the Bowery Theater, and Reynolds and Brian's accommodations at the hotel on Park Row.

"It is a decent area and convenient to Broadway," Reynolds opined. "But I think that the hotel itself has gone into decline since I stayed there last."

"I might suggest the Mason, farther uptown," suggested Archibald. "But Park Row IS convenient. Very convenient. For many things."

Brian saw Archibald's servant smile slightly, still never taking his washed-out eyes off him. And that is when Brian leaned over and squeezed Reynolds' arm gently. That was their signal.

"I must bid you good night, sir," said Reynolds, standing up and motioning to an attendant for his cloak. "It has been a long evening and the Boy is weary. Perhaps we might meet later in the week and dine together?"

Archibald sighed. "Alas, I am leaving the city for my country house on the Hudson. A family gathering upstate. Perhaps next time?"

"Perhaps," Reynolds answered, shaking the other gentleman's hand.

"It was a pleasure, sir," said Archibald. "A great pleasure." And this time Nathaniel Archibald looked past Reynolds and down into Brian's wide green eyes. Brian stepped back, away from this man. Brian was very glad that he was leaving town and that he would never see him or his fish-faced servant again. Mr. Archibald might be a friend of his master, but Brian did not like his gaze. Looking into the man's eyes was like looking into a deep, dark pit.

Brian thought about the two men all the way home in the hired carriage. But then Brian forgot about them back at the hotel room, curled up safely against William Reynolds, and lost in a sound and dreamless sleep.

Continue on to "The Incident -- Part II".

©Gaedhal, July 2004.

Posted July 15, 2004.