QAF FanFic by Morpheus. Summary of Part 3: Brian’s mother discloses some shocking information, sending Brian into a tailspin. After an evening of Pain Management, Brian winds up in jail and Justin is left not knowing his whereabouts. Once reunited at their hotel, Brian refuses to explain. They maintain an uneasy truce for the rest of the weekend and head for home late Sunday night.
Part 4: BEST FRIENDS
Justin wakes up as I take our exit off the highway and drive the ‘vette through quiet streets toward home. It’s late, there’s little traffic, he’s been sleeping the last half hour of our journey.
“Sorry I fell asleep,” Justin apologizes, before he groans a huge yawn, then stretches his shoulders a few times to unkink them. “I should’ve been talking, to keep you awake.”
Taking one hand off the wheel I reach over and rub his neck. “Your snoring kept me awake, so don’t worry about it.”
“I don’t snore!” He’s indignant. “I don’t!”
I’m teasing, he really doesn’t snore, but he does moan and groan and talk in his sleep. In the months after the bashing, when Justin was having bad dreams nearly every night, he’d sometimes say terrible things, agonizing things that ripped my heart out. “Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!” he’d cried more than once. And a few times he’d screamed, “Help me, Brian – help me!”
Christ almighty, I do not need to remember that shit. It’s over and done with. So I remind myself that now, when Justin talks in his sleep, he says funny things, or babbles meaningless words or phrases. Sometimes he even talks dirty, and once I woke him up laughing out loud at something he’d mumbled while he slept in my arms.
I laugh now, just thinking about it. “Remember that time you were talking in your sleep, and you asked me to fuck you on the steps of your school, St. James?”
“No, I don’t remember that.”
Still smiling, I run my hand up the back of his neck, twist my fingers in his curls. I like his hair long like this. The buzz cut he had for a while was pretty hot, but I missed being able to run my fingers through the silky softness of his beautiful hair, I missed the smell of it and the taste of it when I’d grab a mouthful and pull hard while I was fucking him.
“Oh,” I groan, removing my hand and using it to rub my stiffening cock. I’ve made myself horny just thinking about Justin’s hair. Probably that should worry me. I mean, if just the thought of Justin’s hair gets me hard. . . “Let’s drive over to St. James right now, I’ll fuck you on the steps like you’ve always wanted.”
“I’m sure you made that up,” Justin insists. “Anyway it’s late and I’m tired, let’s go home and fuck in our own bed.”
“You are so vanilla,” I chide, pulling the ‘vette into the parking garage and into my stall. Justin doesn’t answer, merely yawns again, so we get out and unload our bags and wordlessly ride up the elevator and drag everything into the loft, pull the door shut and lock it. Justin drops to his knees beside his duffel bag and unzips it, but I grab his arms and urgently lift him to his feet.
“Leave it for tomorrow,” I insist, “I want to fuck you right this minute.” He laughs and wraps his arms around my neck, I grab his ass with both hands and lift him in the air, dropping him gently on the edge of the bed, then playfully I push him down on his back, unbutton his pants and roughly pull them down his legs and off his feet. His shoes come off with them and I throw the bundled clothes over my shoulder.
Meanwhile Justin has divested himself of his shirt and he’s sprawled naked on his back, his pale skin contrasting starkly with the new dark brown silk bedspread. I kick off my shoes and peel off my own clothes, unable to take my eyes off him. Christ, he’s beautiful. Then I take a flying leap on top of the bed, landing carefully with a knee on either side of his hips, grabbing his hands and spread-eagling them above his head.
“I’m going to plow your smooth tight ass,” I growl.
“Mmm, plow me, baby,” Justin agrees, then we both laugh out loud and I collapse on top of him.
We roll around for a minute till our laughter changes to moans, and then our mouths connect and we devour each other with burning hot wet kisses. I roll onto my back and open my legs wide so that Justin lies between my thighs, our chests are pressed tight together, our cocks rub against each other in eager anticipation.
“Brian,” Justin gasps, and I know what he wants, of course I know exactly what he wants, but “No,” I tell him, “Not tonight.”
I know I’ll have to give him a turn soon. Justin loves to top and he’s damned good at it too. Well of course he is, I taught him myself. “Soon,” I promise rashly, “But not tonight.”
“Okay,” Justin breathlessly acquiesces, and when I murmur, “Roll over,” he does, lifting his ass high in the air.
Justin’s excitement absolutely takes my breath away. Then thoughts dissolve into nothingness as sensation consumes my mind and my body, and I lose myself in the unbelievable pleasure of covering Justin’s naked body with my own, pushing him hard against the sheets, holding him tight in my arms, my cock deep inside him and my face pressed into his soft sweet-smelling hair.
As soon as I storm out of Professor Grant’s office, I grab my cell and punch in the number for Brian’s private line. I’m still inside the building and the phone refuses to connect, which is lucky really because by the time I get outside and take a few deep breaths, I reconsider calling him. I remember that he told me his schedule was jam-packed today and that he’d promised to visit Michael after work. Ben’s teaching an evening class tonight and it’s been a couple weeks since Brian’s spent what he called – tongue in cheek – “quality time” with Michael.
Fumbling in my cargo pants for my pack of cigarettes, I light up and walk slowly across the lawn. I need to calm down before I go back inside to the studio to gather up my materials and my backpack. I’ve been fighting with Mr. Grant since the term began three weeks ago and I’m thinking seriously of dropping his class. But I need the units, and what I don’t need is another lecture from Brian about finishing school. And most of all, I need Grant’s recommendation to include with my application for the Techno/Vision job. The application deadline is in two weeks.
Grant is one of the few really inflexible teachers I’ve encountered at the IFA. Till now, everyone’s been willing to accommodate my need to use computer software for some elements of drawing and design. The flexibility of my hand continues to improve slowly but it still turns into The Claw when I overdo it, which happened a lot in California – though I never mentioned that to Brian of course. And I knew this Advanced Elements of Illustration class would be tough, all the upper division classes are demanding, but the quantity of required hand detail work is a killer. It’s hard on all the students, but with my fucking limitations, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the assignments.
Finally today I forced myself to speak to Mr. Grant in his office, I asked for special dispensation to use my computer on some of the assignments, and he flat-out told me no. “No exceptions,” he’d said brusquely, turning away from me to speak to the next student waiting to see him. I walked away fuming, but also feeling embarrassed and ashamed. People don’t realize how hard it is to admit that you’re not normal anymore, that you can’t do all the things other people take for granted.
After finishing my cigarette, I plod back into the building to collect my stuff. In a way I’m glad Brian won’t be home tonight, I don’t want to inflict my angry mood on him. Besides, I’d have to explain about the Techno/Vision job I’m going for, and I’m not ready to discuss that with him yet. I haven’t told anybody about it, except Daphne. So instead of going home, maybe I’ll kick back in my studio at school, I can call Daphne for a long bitch session, we haven’t talked for several days. We’ve been best friends so long that I know she’ll take my side about the fucking teacher, and we can commiserate about our courses. And our boyfriends.
I wasn’t going to tell him. Mom asked me not to tell anyone, but being around Michael, especially when I’m stoned and troubled, causes me to confide things in him as I’ve done, as we’ve done with each other, most of our lives. Michael’s just about the only person who loosens my lips. It’s easy to blame him for that but of course it’s my own fault. Sometimes I’m sorry later, and I have a feeling this is going to be one of those times.
“What? Your mother said what?”
“Shh!” I hiss. We’re at the comic shop, he’s ready to close and there’s only one customer – a pimply teenager with his nose buried in the back-issues bin at the rear of the store. I’m leaning on the counter speaking softly. Michael is in the process of counting the till when I deliver my bombshell; he stops and stares at me over the little piles of money, he’s wide-eyed and his mouth is slack with surprise.
“Shh,” I repeat. “Do I really need to say it again?”
“I’m just – Brian, I just can’t believe it!”
“Hunh,” I nod, “How d’you think I feel?”
Then I stop speaking abruptly, the customer approaches the counter with a handful of comics. He engages Michael in conversation about the exploits of Plastic Man and I turn away, study a display of Spiderman toys, my brain weaving its own tangled web. As soon as I realize that I’m thinking in metaphors, I immediately stop and turn back to the counter, impatiently waiting for the fucking kid to pay his money and get out.
Michael follows the boy to the door and locks it, turns over the Closed sign. He walks back slowly and hikes his ass up on the stool behind the counter, all the time staring at me, shaking his head. “Brian,” he says at last, “I can’t believe it! Do you believe it?”
“Yeah,” I shrug. “I guess. Why should she lie about it? She’s ashamed, she says. She thinks it’s her ‘sin’ that made me homosexual. She thinks she’s going to burn in hell for it. And me along with her, of course.” I look away, try to laugh, but there’s a bad taste in my mouth.
Michael’s silent for a moment and when I look back at him, I can almost see the wheels turning as he works something out. “Wow,” he breathes at last, “You know what this means, don’t you?”
“Yeah. It means that Jack Kinney was not my dad.”
“It’s great!” Michael exclaims, spreading his arms wide, his eyes practically bugging out, “Brian! Jack always hated you and now you know why – it’s fucking great!”
“What?” I’m confused. “Why is that great?”
“Because!” he leans over the counter and enthusiastically punches a finger into my chest. “Because now you know it had nothing to do with you, he just hated you because you weren’t his kid. So now you can forget all about him.”
I take a step back from the counter, recoiling from the finger poking me, recoiling from the excitement in Michael’s eyes. He doesn’t get it.
“I forgot about Jack after he died,” I remind Michael. It’s almost the truth. Then I add quickly, “Not that I thought about him much when he was alive.” That’s almost the truth, too.
“You hated him, Brian. All your life, you hated his guts. Now you know he was nothing to you.”
Jack Kinney was nothing to me.
I feel sick. The multiple shots of JB I had at Woody’s after work, the joints I smoked in the car when I parked behind the shop and came to the decision to tell all to Michael, they’re now making my head spin, suddenly I feel dizzy and sick to my stomach. “I’ve got to go,” I say urgently, swerving away from the counter and heading for the door. The room whirls around my head and I feel Michael’s hand on my arm, steadying me.
“Brian, wait,” he insists, “Where are you going?”
“Home,” I mutter, shaking off his hand. “I need to go home.” I pull myself together, stand up straight and fix my eyes on Michael’s face. “I’m okay,” I tell him, “I’m just a li’l stoned. I’ll call you later, ‘kay?”
“We were going to spend the evening together. Why’d you have to get messed up so early?”
Far gone as I am, I can still read the disappointment on his face. “Another time,” I offer. “Tomorrow?”
“Can’t.” Michael sighs. “That’s okay, Brian.” When I turn away and lurch toward the door, he grabs my arm again. “God, I didn’t realize you were so out of it. Let me lock up and I’ll drive you home.”
I don’t want to, I really don’t want to, but the tiny part of me that’s still rational acknowledges that he’s right, I can’t drive like this. So I nod, and I lean against the door frame. “Hurry,” I mutter, then I close my eyes and wait.
In a minute or an hour, Michael’s back beside me, he hangs onto my arm as we go out the door and he locks it, then he guides me around the building into the alley where I’ve parked the ‘vette. He takes my keys and helps me into the passenger seat, and I think I’m going to pass out but I don’t, I just watch the scenery swirl past the side window till we swing into my garage and Michael parks in my stall.
I get out of the car unaided and stand up straight. “I’m better now,” I tell Michael, staring at his scrunched-up, worried face. “Don’t come up with me.”
Justin might be home.
“Brian - ”
“I’ll call you later,” I promise, giving him a sincere look, reaching for my keys. “Thanks for driving me.”
“Are you sure you’re okay? Because - ”
“I’m fine.” I turn away and add, “Thanks again.” I feel Michael’s eyes on my back as I walk as steadily as possible toward the elevator, but I don’t turn around.
The loft is dark, which is a relief. I don’t get messed up like this very often anymore, especially not so early in the evening, and I don’t feel like answering questions about it. Leaving the lights off, I head for the shower, glad that I have time to sober up before Justin gets home.
But instead of reviving me, the hot water has a soporific effect, and I sway on my feet, grabbing the door of the shower stall to keep from falling down. Twisting off the faucets, I dry myself haphazardly with a towel, then drop it and stumble to the bedroom, almost collapsing onto the bed.
I’ll sleep for an hour or two, then when Justin gets home we can order some take-out. That’s my last lucid thought as I drift away into la-la land.
It was great talking to Daphne for hours, we caught up on each other’s life and then turned our conversation to the really important stuff: Boyfriends. She’s going through a honeymoon period with her new guy Robert so she doesn’t have a lot to bitch about yet. And while she listened to my long list of complaints about Brian, as usual she ended up taking his side and urging me to cut him a break. Sometimes I think Daphne’s half in love with Brian herself.
“You know that he loves you, right?” she asked at one point.
“Well yeah. But he’s still not sharing the important personal stuff that he’s feeling.”
“He’s gotten better though, hasn’t he?”
I had to think about that for a minute. Taking a drag from my cigarette and trying unsuccessfully to blow a smoke ring, I coughed, cleared my throat and then admitted, “Yes. Once in a while. But maybe not the really important stuff.”
“Like whatever happened this past weekend. Whatever made him go off on a bender and end up in jail. Daph,” I groused, “He called Michael to come rescue him, not me.”
“Well, you said you didn’t have a car, and do you even know how to post bail?”
“No,” I admitted, “But I could’ve figured it out. I just – Daphne, I just feel like he totally shut me out!”
“Don’t be a such drama princess,” Daphne scolded, with the brutality only best friends tolerate. Then she added more gently, “Brian came back to you afterwards, you know. He didn’t go home with Michael, he came back to you.”
She’s right; Brian did come right back to me as soon as he could. That’s comforting, but it doesn’t totally mitigate the anxiety I felt when he was missing, and more importantly, it doesn’t explain why Brian couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me what pushed him to go off alone and get plastered. I’d already explained all that to Daphne so I didn’t repeat myself, just changed the subject. We made plans to get together when she comes home for her mother’s birthday next month and then we said goodbye.
I don’t check the garage for Brian’s car so when I push back the door of the loft, I’m surprised to discover that he’s home already. In fact his snores greet me when I let myself into the loft. All the lights are off so I leave them off, I won’t disturb him. The loudness of the snores tips me off that Brian is probably wasted, that’s the only time he sleeps so noisily. Maybe Michael had to cancel and Brian ended up at Babylon. But it’s only nine-thirty.
I change into sweats, being quiet but not silent; I take a piss and flush the toilet. He’s still asleep. I’m not going to bed this early, so I move to my desk in the corner behind the dining table and sit down to work on an assignment due Thursday in Professor Patterson’s Image and Text Art class. At least Patterson allows me to complete some assignments on my computer, in fact he’s interested in the software I use and asked me to demonstrate it for the class sometime.
It’s kind of restful sitting in the dark, the only light coming from my computer monitor. About ten I scrounge in the fridge for a snack, we haven’t shopped for a while so the cupboard is bare. I settle for one of Brian’s yogurts – I’ve convinced him that the tasty fruity kind is just as healthy as the plain stuff, or at any rate he buys that kind now, and I eat it too sometimes. I settle down again and get really caught up in my drawing, so a bit later the rhythmic beeping of Brian’s cell phone doesn’t get my immediate attention. When my concentration is finally broken and I turn around in my chair to glance up at the bedroom, I see that Brian is awake, he’s flipped on the new light over the bed. Perched on the side of the bed, he’s got one hand clutching the phone to his ear and the other hand’s rubbing his face.
“Yes, I’m fine now,” his voice is groggy, he sounds annoyed, “Did you call to check up on me?” After a pause, he says, “No, he’s not home.”
Brian must not have seen me sitting here in the shadows. I start to stand up, then sit back down abruptly when I hear Brian say, “No, he doesn’t know. I haven’t told him. Don’t you dare tell him anything, understand?”
Oh, God. Who’s he talking to? Is this – the guy? The mystery guy that I’ve convinced myself Brian has fallen in love with?
I really have to stop eavesdropping, I have to move, I need to walk over to Brian and let him know that I’m here. But I’m paralyzed, I’m frozen in place, listening helplessly to his side of the conversation.
Then Brian growls, “Just shut up, will you, Michael?”
It’s Michael! I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. It’s not the mystery man after all. Maybe there is no mystery man, maybe I’ve been totally imagining that something’s going on with Brian since I came back from LA.
Now I’m released from paralysis, I stand up and take two steps toward the bedroom when I hear Brian say, “Mikey, I’m going back to the hospital tomorrow. I don’t know what will happen after that, but you can’t tell anybody about this, do you hear me? Not Justin, not anybody.”
A sound escapes me, a gasp or a whimper, and once again I’m frozen to the spot.
Brian hears me, I see his head whip around and he squints through the shadows where I’m standing stock-still in the near darkness, unable to catch my breath.
“Later,” Brian says into the phone, then he throws it on the bed and comes hurrying down the steps and across the floor to my side.
“Justin,” he demands, “What the fuck are you doing here in the dark?”
I still can’t speak but I stretch out my hands and reach for him, I need to touch him, I need to hold him. I’m so scared, I just need to hold onto him or I’m going to fall down.
“What?” Brian demands, closing the space between us. “What’s the matter?”
“You said - ” I manage to gasp, “You said – don’t tell Justin about the hospital.”
He understands immediately, he grabs my hands and squeezes them tightly in his. Bending his head, looking directly into my eyes, he says loudly, “NO, Justin. No, it’s not me, I’m okay.”
“No,” he repeats, speaking more softly, releasing my hands and grabbing my shoulders. “No, it’s not the cancer again. It’s not even about me. It’s – it’s somebody else, somebody else in the hospital.”
“Oh, God,” I mutter, throwing myself onto Brian’s chest, almost collapsing. His arms go around me then and hold on tight.
“Shh,” he murmurs, “It’s okay. I’m okay.”
In a minute my body begins to relax, I ease my stranglehold on Brian and take a step backward so that I can look up at his face.
“Who’s in the hospital, Brian? Why don’t you want me to know?”
“Nobody.” Then Brian grimaces and says, “My mother.”
“Why is that a secret? Why did you say, Don’t tell Justin?”
“You told Michael, but you don’t want me to know?”
Still Brian doesn’t speak. “He’s your best friend,” I say it for him, keeping my voice level.
“You don’t understand,” he answers shortly. “Michael - ”
“Michael is your best friend. I’m only your partner.”
Brian frowns and turns his back, walks off toward the bathroom. I follow him there and stand in the doorway while he takes a piss.
“Brian.” Our eyes meet in the mirror and I tell him, “I do understand. I don’t like it, but I do understand.”
And I do, too, it’s the truth. After all, I told Daphne about the Techno/Vision job and I haven’t even mentioned it to Brian.
After flushing the toilet, Brian washes his hands; he’s still watching me in the mirror. “Let’s get something to eat,” he suggests. “You hungry?”
“Yeah.” I watch as Brian pulls on jeans and then I follow him into the kitchen.
Grabbing the take-out menus from the drawer and dropping them on the counter, Brian gives me a long look as I hitch myself up onto a stool and fold my hands on the formica top.
Sighing and shaking his head, Brian says, “Okay, Justin, I’ll tell you. It’s just – it’s kind of complicated.”
“You don’t have to tell me anything.”
“No, but I want to.” Brian smiles ruefully and adds, “Actually, I want to. Strange, isn’t it? I really want to tell you.”
I wait until I've ordered some food, luckily Justin enjoys Chinese as much as I do so that's always an easy choice. Then I hang up the phone and take the stool next to him, clear my throat and start telling him about my mother - about her visit to the loft, about her announcement when I saw her in the hospital on Saturday. Justin doesn't know much of my family history and I brace myself for a bunch of questions I have no intention of answering, but he doesn't interrupt, he just sits watching my face and listening to my words.
When I finish, I shrug my shoulders carelessly and spread my hands wide, adding, "So you see, it's not really a big deal or anything.” Then I repeat Michael’s words: “Jack Kinney was nothing to me."
"He was your dad."
"Weren't you listening?" I hear my tongue wrap around the edge of sarcasm and consciously bring my voice back to normal. "I just told you,” I repeat – patiently, for me. “He was not my father."
"Biology isn't the only thing that makes a dad," Justin contradicts, leaning forward and adding earnestly, "He was there all the years you were growing up. No matter what, Brian, in some ways he'll always be your dad."
I want to deny it. I want to say no, I want to say that Jack hated me - and it was mutual. But looking into Justin's eyes, I can't say it. Because I'm always honest, and it's not entirely true that I hated Jack Kinney. Not always.
Suddenly I realize that Justin gets it, he understands. I have to glance away from him, I can't keep looking into those beautiful blue eyes almost brimming over with empathy. "Don't get sentimental on me," I warn him, my voice sharp.
“No,” he agrees, his voice level and unemotional. “I won’t. Let’s be practical instead.”
“Practical?” I swing my head back again, surprised.
“Yeah. You told Michael on the phone that you’re going to see your mom again. Are you going to ask her about your real father? Do you want to know who he is?”
“What?” I ask, my voice thick with stupidity and shock. “Why the fuck would I want to do that?”
“Lots of reasons, Brian. Maybe you could find him, maybe you could meet him. Maybe he’d like to meet you.”
“No.” Fuck no. “That’s a stupid idea.”
Justin shrugs. “There’s other reasons. Like, genetics. There could be important medical history on his side that you should know about. Maybe there’s a family history of testicular cancer, for example. Stuff like that.”
“I’ve already had cancer,” I’m frowning, my lips tightly compressed. “So what difference does it make?
“What about Gus? Maybe it will be important to know things like that, for Gus.”
For a long silent moment we stare at each other. I want to repudiate Justin’s suggestion, but I can’t do it. Finally I have to look away from that intense blue gaze as I consider his words. And then I’m forced to admit that maybe he’s right. For the sake of my son, maybe Justin’s right.
Fuck me. Shaking my head, I look back at Justin now with a new measure of respect. But I shouldn’t be surprised, not really. He’s a smart little fucker.
2/8/05 Revised 3/2/05