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Doctor Who but it’s Brian and the McElroys.

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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.

 

“Brian?”

 

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-“

“JustinthisisimportantcomenowPLEASE.”

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.

“Well then…”

 

“Let’s get started.”

Chapter Text

“Let’s get started” is a phrase that holds several implications. Let us get started implies that the ‘us’ in question will be doing work, both the speaker and those they are speaking to.

This was not the case for the McElroys, though. It had been nearly eight hours, and though they were sealed in the dim luminance of Brian’s conspiracy chamber, they knew the sun was beginning to rise from behind the buildings of New York. They had done no work, exerted no effort, unless you consider listening to Brian explain his pin board for eight hours effort (which I’m sure some do.) In all the time that they had spent, dear sweet BDG showed no signs of slowing down, an energy that would terrify the brothers if they had any brain function whatsoever at that point. The last brain cell they shared was clinging on to a thread of life that Brian was cruelly teasing at with a pair of safety scissors.

The only other person to witness the madness was Pat, who seemed utterly unphased by Brian’s fuckery as he periodically delivered tea and biscotti to the guests. He never seemed to leave the office, and it was unimportant as to why everyone was at the office so late. Writing is hard, stop bullying me.

Halfway through a lecture about the correlation between Joel’s despicable overuse of condiments and his supposed hobby of punching dogs, Justin began drifting from consciousness, but quickly woke up once he began dreaming about Brian lecturing. There was no escape.

When the chaotic madman stopped to take a drink, Griffin stood with what little energy he had left and stumbled over, laying a worried hand on Brian’s shoulder.

“Brian, what’s all of this really about? You can talk to us. We’re worried about you.”

A soft light showed in Brian’s eyes, pupils widening for just a moment after Griffin’s gesture, before he shrugged the hand away and stepped back.

“Griffin, I’ve been working on this since Joel got here. I only called you in because I thought I had it solved. There’s something off about him. You need to listen to me-“

“Actually, pal, you need to listen to me.”   Both boyes looked over to Justin, who was laying on the floor with an arm over his eyes. “You’ve got to hurry this up a bit because I’m about ready to hop out of this program, can we just cut to the chase?” lifting his hand to gesture, with an uncharacteristically stern tone in his (still somehow cheerful,) voice, he pulled a stunned silence into the room. Brian dropped his confident stance, then in one swift movement he threw his tea bottle to the floor, turned on his heel and began marching to the whiteboard. His shoulders were tense, a mixture of anger and disappointment covering his face, glasses crooked and hair wild. (He still looked like a snacc though ngl.)

 He slapped the board with the back of his hand.

“Do you know what this says?!”

“No.” Said Griffin, still standing in the middle of the room.

“No.” Said Justin, not even moving to see it.

“No.” Said Pat, peeking through the door with a box of biscotti under his arm. Brian shot a glare at Pat Gill, and so he quickly closed the door.

Then opened it, threw the biscotti in, and closed it.

Brian cleared his throat, touching his temples, before saying “Well neither do I!” With wide eyes and a sarcastic smile, making a ‘mind blown’ motion with his hands. “But Joel scribbles it on notepads, napkins, writes it on his hands, if there’s a surface and a Joel, those symbols will appear. But I have no fucking clue what they mean!”  Then his face grew into a confident grin, and with a dramatic point and his classic BDG charm he chirped “And that’s why I spent thirty hours researching ancient languages and symbols ! HA! Joel couldn’t stop me even if he tried!”

After a brief silence, Brian ripped the whiteboard off the wall and tossed it to the side, revealing a chalkboard with more cryptic symbols.

“So I started by translating the original symbols, which match closely with texts of the ancient Sonikian tribes, and working backwards to find out-“

“The chase, Bri Bri.” Justin rotated his hand in the air as he spoke.

A sigh, then a click, then the sound of a chalkboard being thrown to the floor, then another chalkboard hitting the floor, and then Brian revealed his results, carved into the wall. A series of seemingly random, pointless symbols translated into English as ‘Time his watch take, want.’

Justin sat up. Griffin took a startled step back. Brian didn’t seem to notice, and so he continued.

“Now, this means nothing, but looking further into the sentence structure of these ancient languages, and my own intuition, I’ve deciphered these symbols into ‘I want to take his watch minutes.’ So, you know what this means, right?”

When the McElroys were still unable to speak, Brian shook his clenched fists in anticipation, before shouting,

JOEL IS GOING TO PUT ME OUT OF THE JOB!”

In an absurdly comical stance, squatting with open, outstretched hands, Brian looked from brother to brother.

The silence was heavy, but if you listened closely, you’d probably be able to hear the dial-up internet sounds echoing in the brother’s minds as they tried to process the situation. A good ten seconds passed before Justin shot his arms upward.

“YOU COULD HAVE LEAD OFF WITH THAT!!”

Griffin nearly collapsed but managed to steady himself, Brian slowly folded down into a squat with his arms over his head, Justin just sat with his arms up, forming an ‘L’ with his body. 

Eventually Brian stood up, ruffled his hair and pushed up his glasses. After clearing his throat and straightening his clothing he motioned to the door, speaking in a clear, calm voice,

“This concludes our first meeting, I will contact you soon. Thank you for coming.”

Justin didn’t move, so after blinking a few times, Griffin turned and quite literally dragged Justin out of the room (still in the L shape,) letting the door close behind him. Justin finally stood up and dusted his shirt off a bit.

***

“Well, Griffy, I think I was right. I won’t say I told you so, but I did do the thing. That thing. I did.”

Our sweet baby brother sighed and replied, “I know, Juice. But some of that shit came too close for comfort, we can’t just drop this. We, I... I don’t know, I don’t know how this works, I don’t know how he works, all I know is that I have to do what I can to protect him. We made a promise, and he trusted us.”

He pushed up his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“Well, uhh, he hasn’t figured anything out yet, and if Joel is actually some bad dude he didn’t know was out there, mmmmaybe we should have a plan????”

They began to walk out to the exit, looking around cautiously, dropping their voices to a whisper

“Let’s stay in New York for a few days. If he put that much effort into figuring shit out, maybe there’s a piece of left behind that knows something, whether or not he realizes it.” Griffin fiddled with the cuffs of his shirt sleeves, making sure they were long enough, distracting himself. They took the stairs down, knowing they didn’t need the extra stress of an elevator ride.

“God, but where the hell are we supposed to stay? There’s the hotel, but Travis is leaving in tonight and I don’t want us to keep paying for that suite if-“

“Well, what if we tell him?”

Griffin froze at the bottom of a flight of stairs, turning to face Justin, who was a few stairs behind.

“What?”

Half hopping down the rest of the stairs, Justin continued,

“He is our brother. He deserves to know, doesn’t he?”

“And how exactly are we supposed to tell our brother this? ‘Hey Travis, our brother who we dearly love, we have this huge secret we’ve been keeping from you for three, four, no, almost six years! Our friend is a time traveller! And not once did we invite you to come with us!’ Is that what we’ll say?”

“Griffin-“

“Oh, and then, ‘We had to make a super difficult decision and now he can’t time travel anymore and I’m responsible for this super powerful bullshit until he needs to do things again which may be never! And now he’s in danger, and-“

“Griffin!” 

Justin put out an arm to stop his brother, who was nearly running down the stairs while shouting, causing loud reverberations in the stone room.

“Keep your voice down, bud!” He spoke in a tone that was calming but brotherly because the energy I’ve created between these boys terrifies and disgusts me.

“Let's call an Uber, get some time to calm down, we’ll make our decision in the morning. Worst case scenario is Travis gets assblasted and makes us feel a little bad, okay?”

Griffin nodded. “But I already feel big bad.” Justin laughed and patted him on the back, continuing down the last flight of stairs ahead of sweet baby brother Griffin.

 

(Time (and space) skip brought to you by Griffin’s 32 year old angst)

 

“Hey, are you okay, Brian?”

The distressed boy was sitting cross-legged on the counter, a cup of coffee in his hands, held just below his face. He stared intently at a single spot across the kitchen, deep in thought. Pat cleared his throat and spoke a bit more firmly. “Brian?” When his eyes didn’t shift a millimeter, Pat Gill reached a hand to touch Brian’s upper arm, finally evoking a response.

“Shit, FUCK!” He jumped, voice shrill as the cup hit the floor, shattering and splattering. Brian was now curled up against the wall, still on the counter. It was now around nine in the morning, and the last time sweet ol’ BDG left the office was to collect the McElroys at nearly 11 the previous night. Before that, he was in the office for almost three days straight, most of it spent in his planning room. Since he knew Brian well (and everyone else was afraid,) Pat was assigned to checking on Brian routinely. It had been a rough week, but the new hire and intern were making things a bit easier. Brian didn’t seem to enjoy the intern much, but their new editor seemed to have piqued his interest.

During the short periods of time he spent outside of the conspiracy room, most it was spent either furiously taking notes on everything Joel did, or staring gently at “GoodNick™,” as he was called by older members of the Polygon family. Pat dismissed it, already being preoccupied with a mountain of responsibilities he needed to attend to.

“Brian, you need to go home and get some rest. Everyone’s worried about you, y’know. Zuko hasn’t seen you in ages, so take some time off and take care of yourself.”

Pat’s comforting words calmed our dear sweet BDG down a bit, as he slowly began to step off of the counter bashfully.

“You’re right, I just…” Brian sighed, running a hand through his hair, “I’m making good progress on this thing, and I want to keep working until I get somewhere.” Pat grabbed his coworker by the shoulders and spoke sternly, but kindly. “You need to make progress on yourself, Gilbert. This video can wait, whatever it is. If you get yourself into a better headspace, I’m sure it’ll come out amazing.” 

Brian took a moment to process the words, the windows error sound echoing through his brain, before realizing Pat’s ignorance.

“Oh, yeah, video, yeah, another Unraveled… it’s uh, it’s a hard one. It’s got me workin’ hard. Yep. Well… i'll just uh, leave. Tell Tara not to fire me, bye!”

He broke free of Pat’s grasp and hurried out of the kitchen.

“Fuck.” Said Pat, realizing he had to clean up Brian’s broken mug mess.

***

While BDG attempted to run out of the office, but was unpleasantly surprised when he collided with someone in the hall, knocking papers and Brian’s entire body to the ground.

“Sorry, ah, shit, sorry,” He took a moment to analyze his physical damage before scrambling around to pick up the papers. Then, he looked up to see the new employee staring down at him.

“Dominick, Dom… erm, Nick. Nick, hey, sorry, I was just-“

GoodNick (as his coworkers called him) extended a hand to help Brian up off of the ground, smiling.

“It’s no problem, I should’ve seen you comin’. Let me help you with that.” Brian wore a face of confusion while GoodNick helped him up. “Help me with what?” He laughed, and fixed the front of Brian’s suit jacket and tie. “That’s some fancy attire for a casual-dress job, isn’t it?” BDG cleared his throat, adjusting his glasses, “Well, I had, uh, guests overnight, so I wanted to dress nicely.” He flashed a bright, semi-confident smile before bending down to scoop up the scattered papers, handing them to GoodNick. Still smiling.

“Well, I was just, uh, going to the copier and-“

“Oh, oh, sorry! I was uhh, heading out, actually, sorry.” Brian ran a hand through his hair and messed with the sleeves of his jacket. GoodNick smiled. “Well, see you tomorrow, then.”

“See you.” Brian took a deep breath, rising to his tiptoes, and lowering himself as he exhaled, then walked out of the office in a scrambled state of mind.


(Meanwhile, back at the ranch hotel…)


“So you’re staying for a Polygon event?”

Justin nodded at Travis, who was leaning over his suitcase, making sure he had packed everything. “How long is this gonna last?”

Griffin, sitting on the suite’s couch, eating a (very stale and very squished) pocket breadstick, sighed,

“I don’t know, Trav. If this thing runs long, we’ve got some live shows ready to upload, no worries.” Zipping up his suitcase, the middlest brother shrugged. “Well, you’ve already refunded your tickets, (idk if you can do that, shut up I’m tired) so I guess this is farewell for now, dearest brothers!” Justin laughed.

“Well, we’re checking out of the hotel, too. And then checking back in, I guess. We can do the goodbyes when your Uber gets here.”

“Ex-cuse me, Justin, I ordered a Lyft, thank you very much.”

The trio of dumbasses separated when Travis left for the airport, and the remaining two brothers got two separate, small rooms to stay in until further notice.

***

When they headed to their rooms, Griffin froze with his key card in hand and looked over to Justin, who was trying to get his to work on his door, the next room over

“We really did that, didn’t we?”

“Huh?”

“Travis. We knew going in we weren’t going to tell him, but we still hyped ourselves up as if we were gonna drop that bombshell on him.”

Justin got the door to open, stuck his foot in to keep it from closing, and shrugged. “It was the best option we had, Ditto. Don’t beat yourself up. Get some rest, even if it is,” he checked his phone, then slipped it back into his pocket, “Almost ten in the morning.” Griffin laughed, and opened his door. “Let me know if you hear from Brian.”

“Same to you, nerd!” Justin half yelled as the door closed behind him. 

 

Griffin kicked his shoes off, dropped the suitcase and sunk into the twin bed sat against the wall of the room, sleep overtaking him nearly instantly. A moment of peace, the calm before the storm.

Chapter Text

    In the warm, dark cover of night, Griffin slept peacefully alone despite the circumstances. The sound of a knock at the door woke him, though. After stretching and mumbling curses to himself, he walked to the door, opening it to find Brian staring back at him, beaming. Unlike the last time they’d seen each other, he was now wearing a well-fit blue suit, hair styled neatly, the bags under his eyes lifted.

“Griffin, you’ve got to come with me. I’ve got something to show you.” He glanced at his watch, then back up at the sweet baby brother.

“I… W-well, what about Justin?”

Brian waved off the question with a ‘pft,’ leaning forward on one leg. “This is for you. Come on, you’re gonna love this.”

Griffin sighed, slipped on the shoes he’d left by the door, and with only a quick look back into his room, he followed his friend down the hallway and outside, where a blue box stood on the pavement.

 

“So, sir, what did you want me to see?” Griffin attempted to rub the sleep from his eyes as he took heavy steps inside the structure, opening into a massive room. “Did you redecorate?” Brian laughed, pulling a lever mounted to an overhead console.

“First, there’s no need to call me sir . Second, it’s a surprise. Third, yes, I got stuck and had some time to kill, I suppose.”

Sound erupted from around them, and Brian ran around the control panels, pressing buttons and fiddling with instruments seemingly randomly. A loud thud then shook them, followed by a wheezing sound.

 

“You said you like fantasy, right?” Brian half-shouted over the noise to Griffin, who was gripping onto a railing lazily.

“Yeah, I think I said that, I think.” Brian laughed. “That podcast of yours, it’s gonna blow up, I’m telling you. You’ve got a great mind, Griffin. I thought I’d give you some… inspiration!” he half grunted, pulling a cord (Like the ones on a lawnmower) and the room shook violently before settling down, gas hissing.

 

Brian coughed when he tried to steady himself, then walked over to a stunned Griffin, extending a hand to help him up.

“You loved the Pleumons, and wrote them into your narrative pretty well. Some technical errors, but I won't nitpick, although I do love nitpicking.” He moved along energetically, spinning on his toes, gesturing with a spring in his step. “But I thought this’d be a source of inspiration to you as well.” He pushed open the doors with a grand gesture, revealing a pond, nay, an ocean of magnificent light. Small orbs floated gently across the water, playfully moving about with colorful, wispy tails of light drifting behind them. It was quiet, and peaceful, and beautiful.

 

“The omniate pools, what a beautiful place!” He took a big step out of the box, sweeping his arm out in a ‘behold’ sort of fashion. Sweet baby brother looked out in awe, taking shaky steps and shaky breaths outward.

“Woah,” was all he could muster, before swallowing hard, “what are, all of those?” Brian took a few steps closer with Griffin on his tail. “Well, at the surface, they’re an excellent example of non-industrial energy concentration. Though, what’s interesting is where that energy comes from, how it all got here.”

 

He removed his suit jacket, folding it as he sat down on the bank, pointing outwards while Griffin sat down. “Those things, they’re not moving from discharged energy. The motions are just far too, smooth. Intentional. Soulful. And that’s when I got it, that’s when I understood.” He gave Griffin a bright, wide smile.

 

“I’ve been here before. This place. Met the people, seen the culture. And I’ll tell you something I found odd, they don’t believe in a higher power. Now, I know that’s not too out of the ordinary, but there’s an afterlife. It’s quite prominent in their culture, I’ll tell you that. ‘ You will find peace in the great seas,’ someone said to me, I think. And I said, what seas? And they laughed.”

Brian then began to kneel down and touch the water, causing a few of the lights to react. They moved back, some spun gently, some grew closer, nearly meeting his fingertips before he pulled back.

 

“These aren’t things, in this great sea. Griffin, these are people.”

 

He jumped back a bit, still drowsy, confused, unsure of whether he should be amazed or frightened.

“What?”
Brian stood up with his jacket over his arm, gazing at the scenery.


    “When somebody dies here, they’re not… dead. Yet. They have a sort of, an incubation period. They decay so quickly, and all that’s left is, well… Neuronal discharge, I guess. Or a soul, if you prefer. And it just, compresses until it's minuscule. Then someone catches it, and they send it down here. To be free. At peace. And they power the planet. Slowly give off energy until it burns away, painlessly over so many years. It’s beautiful, really.”

Griffin leaned closer to the water. “So, can they hear us? Feel… anything?”

“I’d assume so. It’s a collection of consciousness. But I wouldn’t know how it feels. I never will. But it brings me a bit of peace. With the end.”

Brian stared into the endless depths of the water, breathing gently, calm but concerned. It took a few seconds for him to snap back to reality, laughing awkwardly before he continued.

“I just thought, in a world as rich as yours, maybe this could be a bit of an… an afterlife, just in case.”

“Well, I do my best to keep everyone from dying, but I’m sure someone will kick the bucket.” They both laughed at Griffin’s quip before once again falling into a tense silence.

 

“The entirety of a person’s life. Every thought, every feeling, every experience. So small, and bright, the essence of a being contained as a ball of light and gases. If only we could do the same in the end.” he cleared his throat, kneeling down again to look his friend in the eyes.

 

“Griffin, do you ever think about death?”

 

Then, before anyone could speak, there was a powerful knock. It the two boys and the world around them, which began to slip away from Griffin. His vision faded from the edges until he could see only a foggy gradient. He shuffled backwards, and the feeling of falling overtook him.

 

Then it was bright, and the knocking persisted, and Griffin was sore and exhausted, laying in a single bed in a New York hotel.

 

A muffled voice could be heard through the wall, immediately recognizable as his brother’s. Griffin fumbled around, looking for his glasses and walked to the door, still wearing the same clothes he’d been in for days. To no surprise, Brian was the one standing at the door, Justin by his side.

The youngest McElboy blinked before pushing up his glasses to rub his eyes, groaning. Despite his heavy fatigue, he casually leaned against the doorway.

“Em… what’s up, doc?” He then yawned a very big yawn.

“That’s a bad Bugs Bunny, my brother.” Justin was wearing fresh clothes and it looked like he had showered, overall in a much more functional and joyous state than Griffin. Brian, while still looking like a bit of a disheveled mess, was wearing a button-up shirt and had fixed his hair a bit.

“I’ve made some discoveries, Griffin, I wanted to share them with you, but it looks like you need some time to get ready. Make it quick, though. I have a lot to catch the two of you up on.

 

Roughly 15 minutes later, the three were walking along a New York block, Brian speaking more to himself than the two goobers walking along with him. Justin mouthed something indecipherable to his brother, and when Griffin’s face of confusion proved his attempts fruitless, he walked over and whispered from the corner of his mouth.

How did he do all of this shit in less than a day?” Griffin could only shrug and shake his head, (I’m literally smhing my head rn,) every step down the sidewalk draining exponentially increasing amounts of energy from the McElroys. (Hehe big words.)

 

*  * *

Timeskip brought to you by the coffee I spilled down my shirt while writing <3

*  * *

 

    So back to hell for the brothers McElroy, it seemed. Brian was hardly getting started after an hour of pointless explanations and immaterial details. From the way Joel typed, to his odd ways of speaking, (This is just an excuse for me being horrifically bad at dialogue,) to how he took his coffee black, to his body odor. Nothing was of much interest to the brothers, who were sitting in chairs they brought in. Justin was spinning and rolling around. Brian was just talking at them.

    “I’ve never seen him eat, only ever drinking coffee. He doesn’t react to touch, it’s like he’s being controlled, the way he acts. Like a robot, or some sort of parasite. He can’t function in group settings. Not like social anxiety, he just, freezes when too many people are talking. I don’t think he’s out for my job, I think he’s some sort of… fucking… alien or a robot, or... or something. I don’t know yet, this is all very rough, i’ve never dealt with aliens before.”

 

Griffin put out his arm to stop Justin’s spinning.

“Why do you say that so casually, Brian?” He furrowed his brow, drawing back the arm on his brother’s chair and leaning forward. Brian blinked before forcing a laugh, and running a hand through his hair. “I don’t know! I’m… things have been so weird lately, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if paranormal shit started happening in my life.” Then he laughed again. A sad, defeated laugh, half-collapsing to lean on the wall, then slowly sliding down. “I miss Terry.”

The brothers exchanged a concerned look as Brian took his glasses off to wipe his forehead. “I spent my day off doing all of this, and i’m getting nowhere.” Justin comforted Brian, helping him up, attempting to instill some confidence in the distressed young man.

“Well, you had something figured out with those ancient symbols, Bri. Maybe do some more research on the civilizations they came from, that’ll get the ball rolling.” Brian straightened up (not really though haha joke,) wide eyed, and hugged Justin. He dashed over to a portion of the wall that hadn’t been there the first time, shuffling the several layers of papers around, then aggressively pointed at one.

“Ow.” He hurt his finger by pointing too hard. Nonetheless, he pulled a large binder out of his pants pocket (please don’t aSK) and flipped through it, looking from the papers in the binder to the papers on the wall. Eventually he called out “AHA!” He pulled a paper from it’s plastic sleeve, shoved the binder back into his pocket (again, don’t ask,) and began to sprint for the door.

But he stopped, turned, and walked to the brothers, placing a hand on each of their shoulders.

“You two, come back tomorrow. This is going to take awhile. Thank you both.” He then ran out the door, leaving ⅔ of the McElroy brothers alone.

“Wow, this plot sure does suck. ” Chirped the older of the two. Griffin gave him a stern look, which caused him to settle a bit. “Okay, so, Ditto. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Griffin Ditto shrugged before answering,

“We gotta go get the thing? ” Justin made finger guns. “(In the ‘get that money’ voice) We gotta go get the thing.” They then simultaneously realized they had absolutely no idea how they would get to their hometown and back before the next day. Then they had the exact same idea because the McElroy brothers collectively share a single brain cell. (Travis also had the idea, but he didn’t care because it seemed to be nothing more than an intrusive thought.)

So the two dumbasses left the building on a mission. A very dumb and bad one. But they didn’t care. No power could overcome them.

 

The McElroys do not fear death. (They actually do though.)

Chapter Text

    “JUSTIN PLEASE TURN DOWN THE MUSIC.” Griffin held tightly to the seat in front of him as his brother carelessly drove across the highway. Justin tore his eyes from the road for just long enough to turn down the ear-splitting zydeco that had been blasting the entire time, turning his head slightly to yell back to his brother.

    “W H A T ?” He swerved a bit, causing Griffin to slide out of his seat and onto the floor. “WE SHOULD STOP FOR A REST, IT’S BEEN FOUR HOURS.”He grabbed onto another seat and pulled himself up. “GRIFFIN, WE CAN’T JUST SHOW UP AT A REST STOP IN THIS THING.” Once the younger brother had regained his balance, he pulled out his phone, reading navigation instructions. “YOU’RE THE ONE THAT INSISTED WE STEAL A SCHOOL BUS.

The long, yellow bus screeched to a halt at a red light, sending Griffin over the top of the seat and onto the next cushion of uncomfortable green leather in a quite humorous manner.

 

    The brothers were on a long journey to their hometown to retrieve an important tool. It had been stored in Clint’s basement for several years, with little to no explanation from his sons. He had never opened it, successfully resisting the thrall of its mystery as he had learned to do so that his grandpa dwarf didn’t commit war crimes. This was a very good thing. But now the brothers were on some mission impossible bullshit, having stolen a school bus, now en route to break into their dad’s house. Luckily, all of the police in the areas through which they were travelling were in racism jail. So Justin, who may or may not have a legal driver’s license, was free to fuck shit up on the highways. He just didn’t want to go to a rest stop because judgement. Smh smh.

 

    They were nearly through Pennsylvania, and at that point Griffin wanted nothing more than to go directly to hell, simply to escape the torture of being tossed around a school bus like a beach ball in the wind while attempting to navigate for his older brother, who couldn’t hear a darn thing over the endlessly blasting radio. Justin was mainly driving by his intuition, because ‘he knows these roads like the back of his hand.’ He does not. He does not know what hands are.

“JUSTIN YOU NEED TO SWITCH LANES, WE NEED TO TAKE A LEFT” Griffin hollered over the noise. His brother turned to him and winked, still accelerating and flashed a smile.

“NO WORRIES, GRIFFIN, I KNOW THESE ROADS LIKE THE BACK OF MY HAND!”

He does not.

 

    Griffin tightly gripped whatever he could hold as a hearse with a Papa John’s hat thing on top crashed into the side of the bus, sending it rolling. Fuck physics. It completed three full rotations before landing upright on the wheels, leaving everything in shambles. However. Justin was completely unphased and had remained in his upward sitting position the whole time, hands gripping the wheel, foot on the gas, stone-faced and just a normal lookin’ boy. Griffin was probably in a coma. Despite having been thrown off of the road, the bus continued moving to the destination, functioning poorly. Griffin was on the verge of passing into the poop dimension. To their surprise, the bus began clipping directly through buildings, progressing to their destination in a perfectly straight line.

 

    When Griffin started to regain consciousness, they had passed over the border into West Virginia. Huntington was not far from them now, and he shivered as the bus passed through the wall of a building. Griffin sighed and adjusted his glasses, since this wasn’t even close to being the most absurd thing he had witnessed that week. After running through a mental checklist to make sure all of his bones were still there, he cautiously maneuvered towards the front of the bus, as he had rolled under all of the seats to the very back. Sore, exhausted, and mostly unphased, he sat down in the seat behind the driver’s, where Justin was checking twitter. The bus was driving itself at that point. What a joy. Time itself seemed to have pooped its pants. The world surrounding them seemed unmoving, completely static, but that might just be because they were going very speedily, like Sonic in the movie trailer that had Jim Carrey in it. 

 

Everyone was afraid, with the exception of Justin. So, if you do the math, Griffin was afraid. Not the shrieking, running around frantically and saying goodbye to your loved ones kind of afraid, more like the small people in your brain trying very hard to get you to do the first thing but they’re being overpowered by the white noise of jaded stupidity kind of afraid. In his attempts to clear his mind, he ended up looking and feeling like a sad banjo, I don't even know what I mean by that. Eventually, he settled into a seat and watched the world pass through the window.

 

*  * *

Obligatory timeskip brought to you by my last brain cell <3

*  * *




Both brothers had nodded off when the bus screeched to a stop, throwing Griffin against the window and tossing Justin into the aisle. With a shaking hand, Justin opened the doors to the bus and stood up. They were parked directly outside of their childhood home. Clint didn’t seem to be anywhere near, so they both gingerly climbed off of the bus and onto the road, slowly walking to the house. As soon as the McElboys were far enough, the doors snapped shut and the bus sped off to gourd knows where, leaving them more or less stranded.

 

    Unless…

 

    Justin pushed against the gate leading to their backyard, and it swung open with little resistance, making an unpleasant creaking noise. The yard was well tended, and the back porch was in surprisingly great shape. Griffin stepped towards the back door, lifting up a flower pot to retrieve a key that every house has hidden somewhere. Within a few seconds, both boys were inside, the door locked behind them. The lights were off and the only sounds were those of the fridge and dishwasher humming, but it was still almost exactly as they had remembered it. It hadn’t been too long since they had visited, of course, but with the overcast skies outside and the energy between the two boys, it was familiar. But not too familiar. But not too not familiar. (I’m so sorry, I am legally required to make that joke.) Justin trailed at his brother’s heels as they hurried downstairs, where they would find exactly what they needed.

 

With the flip of a switch, they were able to gaze at the magnificent box of secrets that even they didn’t fully understand, it’s blue paint still in near perfect condition after all the time it’d been down there. Justin impatiently twirled his keychain around his finger, waiting for his brother to move out of the way so he could unlock the box.

 

“Griffin?”
“Yeah?”

“Can you move?”

“Why?”
“I need to unlock it, dumbass.”

“Shut uP”

Griffin slid out of the way, allowing Justin to approach the TARDIS (There I said it are you happy) and gently place the key into the keyhole. The lock clicked quietly, and the door swung open, revealing a wonderful sight for their sore eyes. It hadn’t changed a bit since they last saw it. From gaps in the massive curling pillars, they had hung hammocks and decorative tin cans. Lawn chairs, LED lights, mini fridges, old game consoles, it had been turned into their own personal paradise. 

 

It just now dawned on the brothers that neither of them really knew how to fly this damned thing. They knew the basics of space maneuvering, but not time. Even then, it had been years. Griffin was the first to walk up to the console; covered in knobs, buttons, dials and switches. There was a keyboard plugged into a large vial of bright red goop, and a tube connecting the red goop to bright yellow goop, and a tube between the two connecting the goop into an empty pot, that drained to god knows where. After examining it all, Griffin picked up an Atari 2600 controller and pressed the ‘fire’ button.

   

    With this simple action, the machinery sprung to life. Gears whirred, the air began to flow around them, the lights brightened and seemed to flash in salutations. Justin stood in awe.

 

    “So, how do we get to New York?” Griffin put the joystick down.

“Try the keyboard, maybe? I never got to fly this thing.”

Heeding his brothers advice, Griffin walked to the keyboard and typed in exactly where they wanted to go.

 

    “Brooklyn, New York, USA. 4/20/2020” The text appeared in an MS-DOS esque program on a small screen.

When he pressed ‘enter’ the text began scrambling, encrypting. The goop made a frightening noise. Like every slime ASMR video played at once. Both colors squeezed through the tubes slowly before pouring into the empty container in a blue, liquid form. It then began boiling. The fluid pulsed through ‘veins’ on the console, into the center pillar, pushing hydraulic parts into place. The familiar ‘woosh’ surrounded them, and their eyes widened.

 

    Justin began turning knobs and dials as he had seen his friend do, a calculated series of movements that increased the energy in the space. He pressed a button that seemed to prick his finger and take a blood sample, but the adrenaline masked any pain or concern. Griffin threw the lever to a mechanism resembling a slot machine, getting three letters.

 

“J-O-E”

 

    Things slowed very slightly, and the noise died down.

“Justin, who’s Joe?”

 

    The choking silence lasted only a moment, for when Justin spoke, the TARDIS began rattling at full force.

 

“JOE MAMA!”

 

    Chaotic, overwhelming sound and movement took over, like a thrill ride from hell. Justin screamed with excitement, Griffin was screaming in terror. The TARDIS shook, as if it had been hit by a large object. Panic began to rise in Griffin, he hadn’t put in exact coordinates, they could end up anywhere in Brooklyn, in the middle of a crowded street. In a fancy restaurant. Before the powerful dread could fully set in, they stuttered to a stop. The last of the blue liquid bubbled down into its drain, and the movement slowed. It became quiet with the exception of machine ambience.

 

    Justin clapped his hands. Griffin collapsed. Justin threw up. Griffin entered the fetal position. Things remained this way for what seemed like ages. Once both boys had recovered, they made their way over to the doors.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” Justin nodded towards the door. Griffin paused for a moment, then let out a sigh. “Let’s hope so.”

 

When Griffin pushed open the doors, they were sat in the middle of a school bus lot, the one they had stolen from just hours before. It was a few minutes past the time they’d left their father’s house. With a sigh of relief, Griffin slipped back inside and sat down on the cold metal floor. Both boys were unaware of what their next step would be. But, for just a moment, they had done something right without destroying the entire universe.