AN: So, I should preface this by saying that Brian and Justin are the new loves of my life and they are absolutely my favourite QAF characters.
But, for one reason or another, I really wanted to write this scene. I really like Hunter, and I think he provided a much needed spark of life to the show right when it was starting to get a little depressing. I also think he's woefully underwritten in the world of fanfiction.
This is set between 5.10 and 5.11 from Hunter's POV. So, enjoy!
Hunter Montgomery was in a really good mood. Deanna, the Snow White to his Dopey, had called in sick for the next morning, and his manager had decided there was no point in having seven dwarves running around without the main attraction, so they had been given an unexpected day off. Deciding to celebrate their upcoming day of liberty, he and four of the other dwarves were enjoying a couple of drinks at his favourite bar. They had even managed to convince Cinderella and Minnie Mouse to come with them. And Hunter was optimistic about his chances with Minnie. They were sitting together in adjacent stools at the bar with a couple of beers in hand.
Minnie – her real name was Jessica – had been touching his arm all night, and so, all in all, he considered luck to be on his side that evening.
"So where did you say you were from again, Hunter?" She asked him with a not-so-subtle flutter of her eyelids.
"Uh, Pittsburgh." He said with almost a hint of an apology in his voice. As though he was sorry for being from somewhere as boring and generally shit as Pittsburgh.
"I've never been." Jessica replied. "Is it nice?"
"No." Hunter replied without hesitation. "It's fucking cold."
Jessica laughed as thought that was the funniest fucking thing she'd ever heard.
"I'm from St. Louis." She volunteered the information without his having asked. Hunter tried to muster something resembling interest. "It's super nice. I miss it loads."
"Oh, yeah?" Hunter replied absently. And that was all the encouragement Jessica needed to start rambling in quick-time about the wonders of St. Fucking Louis.
Hunter suddenly found himself in one of the easiest conversations he'd ever been a part of, due in no small part to the fact that he barely had to be looking at her for her to be convinced that they were having a great time. She had even moved closer to him in the time since they sat down, and he'd barely had to string a sentence together.
He was beginning to question how much Jessica had going on upstairs when something far more interesting caught his attention. The TV was set high on the wall behind the bar, and Hunter could have sworn he'd seen Babylon flash across the screen. He studied the screen carefully, trying to figure out whether or not he'd been hallucinating. The bottom left hand corner of the screen told him he was watching CNN, and the sprawling headline across the bottom read: "Explosion at Gay Club a Hate Crime?"
Forgetting all about the fact that Jessica was still talking, Hunter yelled to the man behind the bar.
"Hey, turn up the TV!"
The man standing behind the bar was in the middle of pouring a beer from the tap, and looked irritated at having been interrupted. He glanced up at the TV and then resumed pouring the beer.
"This is a bar. You want to watch the news? Use your living room."
"Fuck!" Hunter swore loudly.
He was starting to feel agitated. He knew that he had no reason to worry. For one thing, he didn't even know that many people who went to Babylon. Most of his old hustler 'friends' stuck to the back alley bars and he knew through the limited contact he'd had with Michael and Ben that they hadn't been to Babylon in ages. And besides that, he couldn't even have been sure that it was Babylon he'd seen on the screen. There must be a million gay clubs in America, what are the chances they're talking about some random dive in Pittsburg? Still, he kept watching the screen to see if the images reappeared. But he was disappointed. Seconds later, they moved on to the local weather. He still felt anxious, but he did his best to convince himself he was being paranoid. He'd just been talking about Pittsburg, thinking about it must have made him imagine things. There was no point, he decided, in jumping to conclusions. He tried to calm himself by gulping down the rest of his beer.
"Umm… are you even listening to me?" Jessica finally asked.
"No." Hunter replied bluntly.
Jessica huffed briefly but quickly got over it.
"Whatever. Do you want to get out of here?" She asked him.
His eyes snapped up to meet hers. Jessica was definitely hot, despite her somewhat questionable personality.
"Yeah, okay." He said as he placed his beer back on the bar and grabbed his coat.
His alarm went off at 6am the next morning, having forgotten to turn it off the night before. He swore in irritation, but after half an hour of trying, he was unable to get back to sleep, so instead he dressed and exited his apartment in search of food.
He'd decided not to fuck Jessica after all. Once they got back to his apartment, he discovered that she was significantly more drunk that he'd realized. More than anything else, he blamed the HIV for the fact that he'd called her a cab mere minutes after he'd let her into his apartment. For most people, it was only mildly amoral to sleep with someone who's a little drunk, but in his case, having sex with anyone meant telling them about the HIV, and he figured there was something far more insidious about making someone decide whether or not to sleep with his HIV-riddled self when they're drunk.
Fuck Ben and Michael for making me honorable. He thought as he slid into a booth in the diner across the street from his apartment. He liked this place: it reminded him of the Liberty diner, only with significantly fewer rainbow flags, and no Deb to smack him around the head when he mouthed off. Still, the waitress had come to recognize him at least, and brought him out a cup of coffee without him needing to ask for it.
"Thanks." He gave his waitress a fleeting smile before she returned to work. As he waited for his coffee to cool down, Hunter picked up the newspaper that the booth's previous occupant had discarded. He'd only begun to flip through it before he saw something to make his stomach drop like lead: "Gay club in Pittsburg being used for political function is victim of lethal hate crime."
It was Babylon.
He read the story as quickly as he could, his anxiety mounting with each subsequent word. He's heard about the function they were throwing, Ben had mentioned it in one of his e-mails. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. They were there. Both of them. The only family he had in the whole world might have been blown up. Hunter pulled his cell phone from out of his pocket and speed dialed Ben. It rang once and went straight to voicemail. Fuck. He tried again with Michael's number. It didn't even connect. Fuck! Hunter was really starting to panic now. Not sure who else to try, he called one of the only other Pittsburgh numbers he knew: Eli and Monty.
After two rings, Monty answered.
"Thank fuck!" Hunter exclaimed. "Someone knows how to answer their fucking phones!"
"Hunter?" Monty asked.
"Yeah it's me." Hunter replied as though that was perfectly obvious. "What's going on over there? I saw the news and now I can't get through to Ben and Michael."
Monty was silent on the other end of the phone. Hunter felt his blood run colder with every moment that passed.
"Monty?" Hunter demanded.
"Yeah, honey, I'm here."
Honey? Hunter thought. Shit, something must really be wrong.
"So are you going to tell me what's going on or do I need to come to Pittsburg to get a straight answer?"
"Hunter, there was an explosion –"
"Yeah I know!" Hunter was really getting upset now. If everything had been okay, Monty would have just said so. But this… Hunter couldn't allow himself to consider the worst-case scenario.
"Look, Monty, just tell me what's going on, okay? Quickly. Like ripping off a band-aid."
Mentally, Hunter tried to prepare himself for what was about to come.
"It's Michael. He, umm, he was hurt, baby. He- I think he's still in surgery. They- umm… they don't know…"
If Monty was still speaking, Hunter had stopped listening. In fact, Hunter didn't even realized that he'd hung up his phone until he was shoving it into his pocket and tearing out of the diner.
In retrospect, when he thought about the following half hour, he would never understand quite what possessed him to do what he did. And later in life, when he was asked about it, he would say that it was his family, but he never offered a further explanation.
Though as it was, he had packed up everything he owned into a duffle bag in minutes, only pausing briefly to leave a note for his landlady telling her to feel free and give away his place. When he was in the cab, he called and quit his job and when he came running up to the ticket agent in the airport, he only asked for a one-way ticket. He didn't know what caused him to abandon the life he had been building in Florida at the drop of a hat other than the simple explanation: It's family.
AN: I know it's far from perfect, but comments and criticisms are highly appreciated. xx