QAF FanFic by Morpheus
Intermission - 06
The Competition, Part 2
I never used to answer the phone when it rang late at night, I figured anything important would keep till the next day. But after a few emergencies with Gus and a couple urgent calls from Justin, my wonderful sense of freedom from telephone tyranny has been ruined.
“Yes?” I catch it on the second ring, though I was sound asleep and heavily medicated. I haven’t done E and GHB for a while, and that pleasant grogginess is not so pleasant when you’re dragged kicking and screaming out of a deep sleep.
At first I hear nothing on the other end, and I repeat, more loudly, “Yes? Who is it?”
“Were you asleep?” It’s Justin.
“Did I wake you?”
Glancing at the clock, I answer almost patiently, “Justin, it’s four a.m., of course you woke me. What’s up? Are you okay?”
Rubbing my hand hard over my face, I struggle to make myself more alert, more awake. “Nightmare?”
“No.” He pauses, then laughs. “No.”
Throwing back the duvet, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and sit up. “Where are you?”
“Brian, the thing is, I don’t exactly know.”
This conversation is confusing me. “How can you not know where you are?” There’s rustling on the other side of the bed and a heavy groan. I glance over my shoulder to see Rick pull himself up to a sitting position and rub his eyes.
“What’s up, babe?” he asks, then a yawn splits his head open. Christ, I wish he would not call me babe.
I wave a hand to shush Rick, hoping Justin hasn’t heard him. Apparently he hasn’t, because he goes on, “The thing is, Brian, I went for a walk, and now I’m lost. And it’s raining and I think, you know, there was something wrong with the dope, because I, ha-ha, I can’t figure out how to get home.”
“What dope? I thought you were living the pure monastic life now.” I stand up and walk into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I need privacy, and I need to take a piss.
“It was just a joint, you know, or at least, I thought it was. And a white pill. But I’m kind of feeling panicky, Brian, so just talk to me a minute, okay?”
Why are you panicky, what did you smoke, what the fuck is going on? I want to shout at him, but instead I keep my voice calm and steady. “You’re okay, Justin, no need to panic. I can come and find you, but you need to look around for a street sign or something, can you do that?”
“I don’t need a RESCUE. I don’t need to be RESCUED. Just talk to me, okay. Just talk.”
“I’ll talk to you, but let me get some clothes on and I’ll come find you.”
“Brian, it’s so dark, maybe I’ve gone blind.”
“You’re not blind,” I say patiently, starting to feel a bit panicky myself now. “Find a street sign, can you do that?”
“Okay, I’ll try. Don’t – don’t hang up, okay?”
“Justin, I’m right here, I won’t hang up. Just keep talking to me.”
Quickly flushing the toilet and hurrying back to the bedroom, I grab my jeans off the floor and pull them on, cradling the phone on my shoulder.
“Brian, what the – “
Waving my hand at Rick, I cover the mouthpiece of the phone and hiss at him, “Shh!” He looks pissed but I don’t have time to explain right now.
“Justin, are you there?”
“Yeah. I think there’s a sign right over there. It’s hard to walk, wait.”
“I’m waiting.” Why the fuck is it hard for him to walk? I sit down on the ledge and pull on my boots, then grab a tee from the chest and briefly disengage my ear from the phone while I pull it over my head.
“Yeah, okay. It says Lincoln. Like Abraham, the president, I guess.”
“Lincoln and what? What’s the other street name?”
“Oh, I have to walk around the pole, huh. It’s, umm, it’s Tremont.”
I don’t know whether to scream at him or weep with relief. “Justin, you’re right downstairs. You’re just a block away from here.”
“I am? Oh, yeah. Maybe I am,” he agrees slowly.
“Just stay put! Don’t move!” I’m yelling now, but I force myself to lower my voice. “I’ll be there in one minute, just stay put, okay?”
“Can you stay on the phone with me? Because what if I fall down, or something?”
“Yes, yes, keep talking, keep talking to me. I’m on my way.” I grab a jacket from the closet and shrug it on. Then I cover the mouthpiece again and whisper to Rick, “Look, would you mind going home now? Because I’ve got an emergency.”
Rick scowls and slides out of the bed. “It’s your ex-boytoy, isn’t it? He crooks his finger and you fall all over yourself running after him.”
“Justin,” I say into the phone, “Keep talking to me.”
“Okay. What should I say?”
Christ, I’m ready to grab Rick and throw him down the stairs. Except I don’t want to throw him down the stairs. Covering the mouthpiece again, I shout in a whisper, “Cut me a break, huh? I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Rick’s shaking his head in disgust, but he gets up, he’s getting dressed, so without another look, I hurry out the door and rush down the stairs and out into the street. Justin’s still talking to me on the phone, but he’s not making much sense, so I keep saying “Uh-huh, okay, uh-huh,” while I rush down the block toward the corner. In moments I see him, he’s leaning against a street lamp, and for the merest nano-second, I’m transported back to the night we met outside Babylon.
“Brian, is that you?” he says into the phone, though he’s looking right at me and I’m barely two yards away.
“Yes.” I cover the distance in three steps and pull him into my arms. “You’re safe now, put the phone away.”
“If I do, will you still be here?”
“Yes,” I assure him calmly, though he’s scaring me now. His hair is all disheveled, his eyes are unfocused, he’s not even wearing a jacket and it’s cold, it’s pouring rain. I pull off my jacket and put it on him, he’s not much help, he can’t seem to lift his arms, but I get the jacket on him and keep my arm around him as I walk him back down the sidewalk toward my building. I can feel him shivering and I wonder how long he’s been wandering around in the rain.
Rick’s coming out the door as we approach and he throws an angry glance at me, and another one at Justin, who hasn’t even noticed him, Justin’s looking at his feet, trying to make them move, I’m half dragging, half lifting him along. I give Rick a brief nod and he turns abruptly away, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jacket as he jogs away into the wet night. We take the elevator, and I hold Justin tight in my arms, he’s shivering badly now.
Barely inside the door, I start pulling off his clothes, he’s soaked to the skin and it’s hard to undress him. Leaving a trail of soggy clothing, I move him along to the bedroom, push him down on the ledge and keep one hand on him so he doesn’t fall over as I undress myself, then I hustle him into the bathroom and reach in to start the shower. As soon as it’s warm, I step inside the enclosure, pulling Justin in with me, and his arms go around my waist, he lays his head on my chest, and I take the weight of his body against me, he’s nearly collapsing.
In a few minutes the hot steamy water raises Justin’s body temperature, I can feel his taut muscles relaxing, but his hold on me doesn’t loosen. “Don’t let me fall,” he whispers, and I tighten my grip. “You’re okay, you’re okay,” I keep telling him, and finally he pulls away slightly and looks up at my face.
“You’re okay,” I say soothingly, though his eyes are still unfocused and he’s pale, his face almost paper-white despite the warmth of the water turning the rest of his body pink. Turning off the shower, I pull him out of the enclosure and try to dry us both off with a towel from the warming rack.
“I think I’m going to pass out,” he says, suddenly lucid, and I think he’s right.
“First tell me what you took, what drugs.”
“I don’t know. Various substances. It was a party.”
“What party? Whose party?” Maybe I can find out what drugs he took, I don’t know whether to let him sleep it off or take him to the hospital. But it’s too late, his eyes roll up and his body sags in my arms. I pick him up bodily and carry him to the bed, arrange him comfortably and pull the covers over him, then sit there staring at him, worried and unsure what to do. His breathing is even, and as he lays there, some color comes back into his face. Probably he’ll be all right. I’ll just sit here and watch him, he seems to be okay, he seems to be sleeping peacefully now.
“Mmmm,” I murmur, snuggling closer to Brian, burying myself deeper in his arms, I can feel my lips curving into a smile, this is the best part of the dream, right before I wake up. I try to stay asleep just a little bit longer. I feel his lips on my forehead in a gentle kiss, and my eyes struggle to open, against my will. I don’t want the dream to be over.
My eyes open and I’m staring into Brian’s face. I blink, to make the dream-image disappear, but it stays put. Brian stays put. He’s really here, in my bed. No, no, I’m in his bed, in his arms, and sun is streaming through the big window giving his face the most amazing glow, almost like happiness.
“Brian?” I still don’t completely believe I’m awake.
“Justin?” he gently mimics me, one eyebrow slightly raised.
“Why am I here? How’d I get here?” I pull away from his arms a few inches to glance around the loft.
He pulls away slightly too, puts a hand on my face and uses his fingers to pry my right eye open, then he peers at it closely.
“What are you doing?”
He lets go and drapes his arm over my back. “Checking your eyes to see if they’re still dilated. They are, a little, but I think you’re okay now.”
“Dilated? Is something wrong with me?”
“Yeah,” he confirms with a frown, “You’re a twat. You overdosed on drugs at some party. You called me to come get you.”
“Oh!” I’m surprised. “I don’t remember. . .” Then I close my eyes and I can see myself at the party, it was at Matt’s apartment, Matt’s a guy in my graphics class. I remember a crowd of strangers around me, laughing and talking loudly. Opening my eyes, I tell Brian, “I smoked some dope, but it smelled funny. Maybe it was spoiled, or something. I got really dizzy.”
“It was spoiled, all right, it was probably laced with heroin. Did you even ask? And whose party was this?”
“Heroin!” I’m shocked. “Why would they put heroin in it?”
Brian raises his hand again and turns it into a gun, pointing at my forehead and going “Bang!” The gun turns back into a hand and he caresses my hair, smoothing it off my forehead. “The real question is, why’d you get so hammered? You don’t even like dope that much.”
I have to look away from him then. “I don’t know,” I lie. I can’t tell him that I was so fucking miserably unhappy, I just wanted to make it go away.
After a moment, Brian asks, “And where was your little violinist, why’d he let you get so wasted, why’d he let you wander all over town alone in the dark?”
“You mean Ethan?”
“You have other violinists?”
“Ethan’s in New York. I think. Maybe Chicago.”
“What’s he doing there? Visiting family?”
“He’s on tour.” I pull away from Brian then, sit up in the bed and wrap my arms around my knees. I’m surprised; I thought Brian knew. I didn’t tell anybody but Mom, I haven’t seen anybody since Ethan left two weeks ago. I took a month off my job at the diner, partly to help Ethan get ready for the tour, partly because I’d fallen behind on my assignments and I had two big final projects due. But I assumed people would know, would hear about it, from my mom at least. I was sure Mom would tell Deb, and that’s all it would take for word to spread.
Brian sits up too and I feel him staring, so I have to look at him. “I thought – everybody knew. Ethan won the Heifitz Competition, in Indianapolis last month. He’s on a two-year concertizing tour.”
His face utterly blank and unconcerned, Brian asks, “No, I didn’t know. You’re not going on tour with him?”
I toss my head. “Well, duh, I’m in school. I have my own career to think about.”
Nonchalantly, Brian asks, “And you’re the stay-at-home wife, are you? Keeping the home fires burning?”
“Nope,” I answer him, trying to keep my voice as casual as his. I throw back the duvet and swing my legs over the side of the bed. “We decided long-distance wouldn’t work, so we agreed to end it,” I tell him as I get up and head for the bathroom. He stays sitting on the bed while I take a piss, then I get into the shower.
Why didn’t anybody tell me? Not that it matters. Not that it means anything to me. But nobody told me that Justin had broken up with his fiddler. That his fiddler had gone away. For some reason the information stuns me, like a blow to the head. Wait, that’s a terrible analogy. I just feel. . .amazed.
Gathering my wits, I decide to join Justin in the shower. I take the soap from his hand and begin to wash his body, which is probably my second-favorite activity where Justin is concerned. He has the smoothest, most perfect skin and I love to watch it turn pink under the hot shower spray, and I love making a trail of foamy soap bubbles from his shoulders to his ankles. I ignore his cock and balls, he’s given no indication he wants that kind of attention from me, but I can’t resist soaping up his magnificent bubble butt.
“Brian – “
My hands continue sliding around on his beautiful ass. “You want me to stop?” I murmur, not really sure of his answer.
“No, but – “
“Butt?” I joke, squeezing his butt cheeks with both hands as we stare at each other.
“But, I thought. . .at least Mom said she heard that. . .um, Mom said she heard that you have a boyfriend now.”
I stop squeezing. “I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t do boyfriends.”
“Yeah but, there’s some guy you’re seeing? Mom says Deb told her.”
“I see lots of guys. Especially from the rear.” Pulling my hands away from Justin’s ass, I use the bar of soap on myself, rubbing it over my chest and arms.
Justin’s silent for a moment, watching me, then he asks quietly, “Do you love him?”
My hands freeze on the bar of soap, and I know I have to look at him. I have to, so I do. I look him in the eyes and answer firmly, “No.”
He nods. “Do you not love him, the same way you don’t love me?”
That’s an easy one. “I don’t love him even less than I don’t love you.”
We both laugh then, breaking the tension. I give up and say, “Justin, he’s just a guy, I like him, sure.”
“He’s more than a trick.”
“Look,” I put the soap on the shelf, course my hands through my hair to squeegee the water out. I push open the door and Justin follows me out, first shaking his head like a dog and rubbing his hands over his face. I hand him a towel and take one for myself, and as we’re drying off, I say, “Look, you know I don’t do relationships, but yes, he’s more than a trick. I don’t know what he is, really.”
“What’s his name? How’d you meet him?”
“No third degree,” I insist, wrapping the towel round my hips.
Justin does the same, saying, “It’s not a third degree.” He follows me into the bedroom and we stand facing each other. “Just tell me about him, that’s all.”
“I need a drink.” I head off to the kitchen, Justin on my heels like an annoying puppy, which, of course, is exactly what he is. Jerking open the refrigerator, I pull out a beer, but Justin grabs it and puts it back in the door, handing me instead a bottle of cran-grape juice. “No beer for breakfast,” he insists. With a sigh I unscrew the lid and take a gulp. Justin grabs a bottle of orange juice for himself and we perch on the bar stools facing each other.
“Spill,” he insists.
“His name’s Rick,” I give in finally. “I met him at the Sure Thing a couple weeks ago.”
“The Sure Thing! That’s a jack-off bar for losers, you told me so yourself, when I wanted to go there once.”
“It is, mostly,” I agree. “But it’s also a quick-n-dirty place to get a blow job, if you’re in a hurry. I’ve been too busy for Babylon lately, so I’ve gone there once or twice.”
“So,” Justin takes another gulp of juice. “So, you picked him up there. Is he – is he young? Blond?”
“What an ego,” I say jokingly, but I’m annoyed. “You think I needed to replace you with a clone? Don’t flatter yourself.”
“So he’s young AND blond?”
“Fuck you. He’s twenty-three.”
“Yeah, so what.”
“What does he do?”
“Justin, The End. I’m not going to play twenty questions. He’s just a guy, I picked him up, he’s a good fuck, okay?”
“But you like him. You never like anybody.”
I look over Justin’s shoulder and remember the night I picked up Rick. I was so fucking lonely. Not that I’d ever tell Justin, not even Michael. But I was fucking tired of being alone in the loft, so I brought him home. I fucked him but I didn’t kick him out afterwards. I just wanted somebody sleeping in the bed next to me for a change. I didn’t kick him out next morning either. We had breakfast, Sunday brunch it was, at his favorite restaurant across town. And we talked. He gave me his phone number and I didn’t throw it away.
Nobody was more amazed than me that I actually called him a few days later, we got together for dinner and had sex at his place. He fixed me breakfast next day. He’s a paralegal, taking night classes at the university; he’s going to law school in a year or two. He’s smart, he’s funny, and as I told Justin, he’s a great fuck. That’s all there is to it.
When I look back at Justin, I can see that he’s upset. He has no right to be upset, it’s none of his business. “I should be happy for you,” he says solemnly. “I’ve tried to be, really.”
“There’s nothing to be happy about,” I insist, but he’s not hearing me.
“When I first found out about it, I tried really, really hard to be glad for you.” Then he gulps, his eyes fill with tears, and he jumps down off the stool and heads for the bedroom.
I will not follow him. Staying on the bar stool, I watch Justin get dressed. I’d rinsed out his sopping wet clothes last night and spread them all over the bedroom to dry. He picks up each item and puts it on. By the time he’s dressed and comes back to the kitchen, his emotions are under control. “Thanks for rescuing me – again.” His smile is tremulous, and it’s the smile that finally breaks my steely determination.
Stepping down off the stool, I reach for Justin and pull him into my arms. He gasps and raises his head, and I can’t help it, I can’t stop myself, I kiss his mouth. The remembered sweetness of his lips sends a jolt through my body, and I grip him tighter, suck his willing tongue into my mouth and squeeze him almost tight enough to break his ribs. “Justin,” I breathe, loving the feel of him in my arms once more, the way our bodies fit so perfectly together, the heat of our bodies gluing us together.
Suddenly Justin pulls away, pulls out of my embrace. Looking me in the eye as if daring me to move, he drops to his knees and pulls off my towel. My cock swings free, it’s already rock hard, and Justin leans forward and kisses it and then, ignoring me but speaking directly to my cock, he whispers, “I’ve missed you, the size of you, the smell of you, the taste of you,” and I gasp and grab hold of his head as he takes me into his mouth.
There’s never been a mouth like Justin’s, and I’ve had thousands of lips on my cock, men more experienced, more aggressive, more skilled than this kid, but it’s never been as good with anyone else. He has a way of gripping the shaft and taking my cock between his lips with such wild abandon, with such enthusiasm and even joy, that it’s the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had in someone’s mouth. He can make me come in minutes if I don’t stop him, he’s that amazingly good.
“Stop, wait,” I whisper urgently, pulling away from those fantastic lips, grabbing his shoulders and raising him to his feet. We kiss, our tongues battling each other, pushing and pulling and sucking, his hands are on my head, gripping my hair in tight urgent handfuls, our gasping breathing is loud and almost desperate, and then, and then. . .
And then, bang-bang-bang, someone’s knocking on my door. Somehow they got past the locked foyer and made it upstairs to my door, damn them all to hell. I won’t answer it, I will not answer it, I grab Justin’s head again and attack his mouth and his arms go around my neck, and. . .
Bang-bang-bang. “Bri?” the banger calls, “It’s Rick.”
Justin pulls away and looks intently at me. “You gave him a key,” he whispers.
“No,” I shake my head, also whispering. Then I say, out loud, I refuse to whisper, “No, I didn’t.”
“You’d better answer,” Justin advises me, Miss Manners in the flesh. “He knows you’re here.”
I’m really, really pissed, but at that moment, I’m not sure whom I am more pissed at: Rick, or Justin, or myself. Justin hands me the towel and I wrap it around my hips again, go to the door and pull it open.
“Hey, Bri, did you oversleep?” Rick smiles at me as he crosses the threshold. “You were supposed to meet me at Chez Nous an hour ago, and your cell must be turned – “
“ – off.” He stops abruptly when he sees Justin, who’s resumed his seat on the bar stool and is innocently sipping his bottle of juice. “Hello,” Justin says politely.
“Rick, this is Justin,” I say, unnecessarily.
“Hello,” Rick answers, but no smiles are exchanged. The temperature in the loft drops about thirty degrees before Justin hops down off the stool and takes his empty bottle to the kitchen and sets it in the sink.
“Thanks, Brian,” Justin says, walking behind the counter on a beeline for the door, “For helping me last night, and for the juice. See you later.”
I follow Justin to the door but put a hand on his arm before he goes out. “I’ll call you later,” I tell him and he gives me this big empty smile which hurts like fucking hell. I bend down and kiss his lips – just a small kiss, just a friends kiss, but I don’t want him leaving without it.
“Later,” Justin agrees, then he pulls away and hurries down the stairs.
When I turn around Rick is staring at me, arms crossed over his chest.
“You fucked him, didn’t you?”
No I didn’t, I want to say, but I refuse to be cross-examined by Rick. Besides, if he’d showed up an hour later, the answer would have been yes. I shrug. “I fuck lots of guys.”
Rick nods his head. “Yes, but. This is different.”
“It’s not different.”
Rick begins pacing around the loft, so I resume my seat on the barstool and sit silently, sipping the dregs of my juice. In a moment he’s standing in front of me again, and he exclaims, “It’s not enough that I’m in competition with every other fag in Pittsburgh, now I’m competing with your ex-boytoy too?” When I say nothing, Rick spits out a bitter laugh. “Fuck that, Bri!”
“And what am I?” I shoot back at him, “Some fucking carnival prize? I told you exactly what I told Justin years ago. I don’t do love, I don’t do commitment, I don’t do any of that romantic bullshit. For me, it’s all about sex, and nothing else.”
Rick shakes his head. “You’re a fucking liar,” he says quietly. “You love that little asshole, you probably always will. And I thought you cared about me, too.”
“I care about a lot of people. A few people, anyway. That doesn’t mean I can’t walk away from them, all of them, any time I want, without a backward glance. Nobody has any right to claim me, to depend on me.”
“You are so full of shit, and you know it. All that kid has to do is wink at you, and you’re all over his ass.” Rick’s calm, not shouting, but I hate fucking scenes like this. I need a cigarette but I know there’s none in the loft, and I refuse to ask Rick for one. I stand up and when Rick opens his mouth, I hold up my hand.
“Enough, that’s enough. Are we going to breakfast, or not? I’m starving.”
Rick stares at me like I suggested jumping off a cliff. “No,” he says quietly, “We are not going to breakfast.” We stare at each other for a moment, then he adds, “Bri, I can do an open relationship, I’m cool with that. But not if – he’s in the mix. So make up your mind, and if you agree, you can call me, and we’ll talk.”
Rick turns on his heel and walks to the door. And I have apparently lost my mind, because I follow him and grab his arm, a duplication of my exit scene with Justin moments before. “Don’t over-react,” I insist. “I want to see you, but I don’t do ultimatums.”
Shaking his head, Rick looks away. “I don’t know. I just don’t know, Bri.” When I say nothing, he pulls away and heads off down the stairs. I watch him go, then pull shut my door, and lean my forehead against the cool metal. Could I be more fucked?
Grabbing my juice bottle from the counter, I turn on the faucet and rinse both bottles before putting them in the recycle bin. Then I glance at the clock over the sink. How long will it be, I wonder, before I pick up the phone and call Justin?