Queer As Folk FanFic by Morpheus
Summary of Part 2: Wilderness Adventure. Brian and Justin begin the long drive from Pennsylvania to California. Their first stopover is in Oklahoma City, where they take time to tour the Memorial site. Brian sees a photograph of a boy who died in the explosion and the child's resemblance to Gus upsets him and makes him think about what he calls "the Kinney Curse." At first he rebuffs Justin's attempts to comfort him, but later they pull off the highway into what city-folk consider the wilderness, for a talk and for (Justin's idea) an al fresco fuck. Brian's worst fears are realized when not one but two snakes appear - one of them a human snake in the guise of a farmer. But all's well that ends well and Justin has a wilderness adventure to write about in his travel journal.
Part 3: Shake and Quake
"What time is it?"
I pull myself upright and lean over to peer at the dashboard clock. "It's not late, it's fucking early. Almost four a.m.!"
"It's late - we're late, we're almost to Phoenix and we're fucking late, we were supposed to be there hours ago."
"My fault, for staying too long in Oklahoma City. And my fault for our wilderness adventure."
"Don't get pissy. I don't have the energy to deal with histrionics tonight. This morning."
A yawn splits my head open and I rub my hands hard over my eyes. "You're exhausted. I told you - "
"I am not fucking exhausted," he contradicts. "Just a little tired."
"Well, I am fucking exhausted and I haven't even been driving that much. Let's stop pushing so hard, okay?"
"Justin, we're almost there. We'll sleep a few hours in Phoenix and be in LA tomorrow afternoon. I mean this afternoon."
Brian cranks his head around sharply to look at me. "No?"
"Let's spend the day in Phoenix. We can sleep in late today and get an early start tomorrow."
Now it's his turn to be terse. "No."
"Brian, yes. You told me to stand up for myself, and that's what I'm doing."
He shakes his head. "I knew I'd be sorry for that. You remind me every single day."
That's a ridiculous exaggeration but I don't correct him, he's bitchy enough already. We ride along in silence for a few minutes, then he says, "What thrilling adventure are you planning for us in Phoenix?"
"It doesn't matter now, I'd much rather just sleep in and spend the day laying around the pool. Our hotel has a pool, hasn't it?"
“How should I know? You made the reservations. We’ll be there in half an hour.”
I wait for a moment, then can’t resist asking, “You’re not going to argue? You’re not going to tell me I’m a wimp and a weakling and you’re tempted to dump me in Phoenix and go on to LA alone?”
“Why bother telling you anything, when you’re so good at reading my mind?”
He’s joking but he doesn’t laugh, and it’s funny but I don’t laugh either. We’re both fucking tired, we need a relaxing break tomorrow. I mean today.
It’s noon before we wake up and I’m secretly glad he insisted on staying in Phoenix, I really am more tired than I expected. Not that I’ll tell him of course, I don’t need to give him any more reasons to push my buttons. I’m awake first and I feel him approaching consciousness; he stretches slightly, rolls over and slips his arms around me. He does that in his sleep all the time and each time I find it somehow. . .I don’t know, moving. Or something stupid like that.
“Mmm,” he murmurs without opening his eyes. “Time is it?”
He laughs softly and snuggles closer. “For Brian Kinney, it’s always fuck time.”
“This is news to you?”
He still hasn’t opened his eyes but that doesn’t stop me, I roll him over on his back and slide on top of him, keeping my weight on my knees as I give his belly a tongue-bath, ignoring his morning woody and instead moving north, slip-sliding up his chest one rib at a time, circling his nipples and pausing to nip almost-hard on the right one. Sometimes I miss his nipple ring. As much as I pretended to disparage it, I enjoyed flipping it around with my tongue, sucking it and clanking it against my teeth. Moving upwards again my tongue caresses his neck, the side of his jaw. When I reach his mouth his lips open under mine, a moist warm welcome awaits my tongue, I love how he goes “mmm-mmm” as if my kisses taste delicious in his mouth.
After a room-service breakfast – or rather lunch – I change into my swimsuit and wrap a hotel-provided white terrycloth robe around myself.
“Brian, come on, let’s go for a swim.”
“Later,” he answers absently; he’s plugged in his laptop and he’s checking e-mail.
“Well, I’m going down now – promise you’ll come join me soon?”
“Mmm-hmm.” He doesn’t even look up.
Shaking my head in mild annoyance, I close the door behind me and head toward the elevators. I wish he’d come with me, come get some fresh air and have a relaxing swim, lie in the sun for a while. French doors in the lobby lead out to a large swimming pool, the water sparkling turquoise blue. Small flowering trees in pots and a dozen scattered lounge chairs surround the pool. A hairy old man with a pot belly is asleep in one of the chairs, and there’s a young woman with a toddler playing in the shallow end of the pool. A dark-haired guy is swimming laps, I see his head bob up and down as he does the breast stroke toward the other end. I guess we have the place to ourselves, the other hotel guests must be out doing business or sight-seeing.
I jump feet-first into the pool, enjoying that all-or-nothing feeling of committing my body into the deep, and when I rise to the surface and my head breaks through the cool water into the hot air, I gasp a deep breath of pure pleasure, laughing out loud as I shake my head hard to clear water from my ears.
I don't register at first that someone is talking to me, I'm bobbing gently up and down in the deep end, squeegeeing my hands over my face and blinking drops of chlorinated water from my eyes.
Turning around quickly I see a figure close by me in the pool but the sun's in my eyes, I blink some more and hold a hand to my forehead, a visor to block the sun. It's the guy who was swimming laps.
Oh my God.
"It really is you!" he exclaims, "I can't believe it!"
Oh my God.
He smiles broadly and demands, "What are you doing here?"
Trying hard not to sound as flabbergasted - and dismayed - as I feel, I echo his question. "What are you doing here?"
Ethan runs a hand through his hair, which is longer, dark wet curls wrap tightly around his face and neck. "I'm on tour - you know that. I'm playing with the Phoenix Symphony tonight."
"Great," I stammer, "That's, um, great."
"I can't believe you're really here!" he laughs, "What on earth are you doing in Arizona?"
Stalling for time, I clear my throat. "We're - I'm on my way to Los Angeles. This is just a stopover, a rest stop."
Ethan laughs and reaches out a hand to flick my shoulder. "Come on - you checked my itinerary and planned this, didn't you? Oh, don't make that face, don't be embarrassed!" he laughs again, "I'm cool with it, very cool, I'm happy to see you. Can you come to the concert tonight? Or maybe you have a ticket already!"
"No, I don't. Of course I don't!" I'm getting more and more annoyed, what an ego. "I had no idea you were here."
Or I sure as hell would have picked another destination for our rest stop.
"That's okay, I don't think the concert is sold out, I'm sure I can comp a ticket for you."
"No thanks." I realize that I'm probably being rude, which shouldn't matter, why should it matter?
"Are you traveling alone? If you're with a friend, I can get two tickets. Is Daphne with you? Or - maybe you have a new boyfriend?"
I don't want to answer him, it's none of his fucking business. More than anything I want to get away from Ethan, climb out of the pool and hurry up to our room. Before Brian comes down. I hesitate, and in that moment I glance at the lobby doors, just in time to see Brian walk through.
Ethan's eyes follow my glance and I hear him mutter, "Fuck." When still I say nothing, he goes on, "I might have known you'd run back to him. Big surprise."
I'm paralyzed in the pool, treading water, thinking quickly, wishing Ethan would suddenly submerge and drown, sink to the bottom out of sight. I don't want to play this scene with Brian. And he's here now, by the side of the pool, he hasn't noticed the guy beside me. Ethan and I wait silently, unmoving, he's as nonplussed as I am myself.
Brian sheds his robe, throwing it toward a lounge chair, then swings his legs over the edge and sits down on the side of the pool.
"Hey," I manage to say finally, keeping my voice nonchalant. "Look who's here."
Brian glances at Ethan and does a classic double-take, then the shutters roll down quickly over his eyes, too fast for me to read the expression on his face before the mask of indifference is in place.
"Ian!" he says, pasting on a big fake smile, "Fancy meeting you here."
"I'm performing with the Phoenix Symphony tonight," Ethan tells him. "I just invited Justin to come - you can come too, if you want."
"Not my thing," Brian says casually; he's rubbing his hands on the edge of the pool ledge, his feet dangle motionless in the water. Finally I'm released from paralysis and move towards him, hoping that Ethan stays put or better yet, swims away. No such luck, he follows in my wake.
"So," Ethan says, as we get closer, "You got Justin back. Of course I knew that's what you were after, all along."
"Did you?" Brian smiles enigmatically, looking Ethan up and down, or as much up-and-down as he can see with Ethan half-submerged in the water. "And are you planning to lure him back to you again?"
I jump into the conversation then. "Stop talking about me, I'm right here. And nobody lures me anywhere, I make my own decisions."
"It was your decision to stop in Phoenix," Brian notes dryly, leaning back a bit, resting his hands on the cement behind him and looking down his nose at me. "So I’d say your intentions are open to interpretation."
"Coincidences do happen, Brian," I stare up at him defiantly, starting to get angry. Maybe I have no right to be angry, maybe I have no right to expect Brian to trust me yet, but still I'm pissed that he’s so quick to doubt me.
Ethan laughs then. Brian and I have been staring at each other so intensely that it almost comes as a shock to realize that Ethan is still there. We both turn to look at him and he laughs again.
"Wish I could be a fly on the wall of your room, I'll bet you're going to have a big fight over me." He's smirking, the bastard.
"Not at all," drawls Brian, "We only fight about important things. An occasional meaningless fuck is no big deal." When neither I nor Ethan say anything, Brian continues, "Go ahead, Justin, fuck him if you want. You can tell me about it later."
"Brian - "
Before I can answer Brian pulls his legs from the water, turns away to grab his robe and moves off toward the lobby door. He moves exaggeratedly slowly as if to prove he hasn't got a care in the world. I wait for a moment - I don't want to feel like I'm running after him - then I pull myself out of the pool and grab my towel, dry off quickly.
Ethan has moved to the side of the pool and leans his arms on the ledge, watching me wordlessly. After a moment he says, "I knew he was lying when he told me he didn't want you back."
I remember the time he's talking about - it was when Brian urged Ethan to sign the agency contract, when Brian told him there was nothing honorable about being poor. Ethan had shared that conversation with me, he'd told me back then that Brian had denied wanting me back.
I believed it - for a while. Until I recognized that all of Brian's actions after I left him were the actions of someone who cared about me, someone who went out of his way over and over again to help me - with the school loan, with the computer, giving me jobs like the Carnivale poster to earn extra money. People say, 'Actions speak louder than words.' Eventually Brian's actions convinced me that he was still in love with me, and gave me the courage to go after him when I acknowledged to myself that Brian was all I wanted, all I'd ever really wanted.
"You never stopped loving him, did you?" Ethan asks me now, his voice at once bitter and yet somehow wistful. Or maybe that's my imagination, maybe it suits my ego to believe Ethan's still sorry that I walked away from him.
"No." Perhaps I should sugarcoat the truth, but I can't deny it. "I never really stopped loving him." Pulling on my robe I smile slightly at Ethan before turning away. "And I never will." Turning away, I throw over my shoulder, "Good luck tonight," as I hurry across the hot cement and head back into the hotel.
"Good luck to you too," he calls after me, and I choose to believe that he means it.
I'm surprised at myself really, surprised at my body's physical reaction to seeing my nemesis, my arch rival, the little doe-eyed waif violinist bobbing around in the pool like a half-drowned water bug. When I recognize him I feel my insides turn to ice, I literally freeze up and am rendered almost speechless. When I see their heads close together in the pool, one blond, one brunet, I'm remembering watching them kiss on the dance floor in Babylon right before Justin turned and walked away from me.
I make myself sit still and pretend to a calm I am far from feeling. Justin denies knowing that Ethan would be here, and rationally I can believe him - rationally I can tell myself that I believe it's a coincidence, running into Justin's ex in a hotel in Phoenix. But my gut reaction is not rational. When I get up to leave I force myself to move slowly, when what I really want to do is get the fuck away from the pool as fast as possible.
When I reach our room I throw myself down at the desk and log onto the computer. I need to focus on something, to take my mind off the vision of the two of them. I've never been a jealous man and I'm not jealous now. Not really. Not essentially. What I'm really feeling is - is just, I don't know. I really don't know. Just kind of loose. I'm just feeling kind of un-anchored and loose.
The violinist said he wished he could be a fly on the wall of this room. I'd like nothing better than for that to be true. If he were buzzing around in here I could roll up a newspaper and knock him to the floor, step on him with my size-thirteen shoe and grind his slimy guts into the thick beige carpet.
Brian's on the computer when I come into the room, he doesn't look up but murmurs, "Finish your swim?"
"I couldn't," I answer, crossing the room to stand next to his chair. "The pool was contaminated."
There's silence for a few moments, Brian's hands jiggling slightly on the keyboard. Finally I have to say, "Brian, I honestly had no idea he'd be here. I swear it."
"It doesn't matter."
"Of course it matters!" I'm getting annoyed again, "Brian, of course it matters. I promised you 'no more violin music,' and it's a promise I intend to keep. Forever and ever."
Then he does look up at me. "Don’t promise. Promises are meaningless."
"They are not!"
"Anytime you want to mess around, just do it. We haven't exchanged rings or anything ridiculous like that."
"I would if you asked me to."
Brian laughs then. "Don't hold your breath, sonnyboy, that's never going to happen."
I return his look but I don't laugh. "Maybe not," I agree. "Probably not. But you never know. . ."
"Let me finish," I insist seriously. "You never know, I might ask YOU. I might ask YOU, Brian."
"Oh yeah?" He laughs again. "And what do you imagine my answer would be?"
I take a deep breath and look into his eyes. "We'll just have to wait and find out."
Brian smiles for real then, a real Kinney smile, not the cynical kind, not the keep-away-from-me kind. He pushes back his chair and reaches for me, grabs my arms and pulls me forward, spreads his legs apart and pulls me to stand close between them. "Are you prepared to wait till Hell freezes over?"
"Yeah," I murmur, “For you? Yes." I lean against him then, slide my arms around his neck and bring our mouths close together. "Yes. Yesyesyes." And I kiss him. His lips open and he snakes out his tongue, slides it into my mouth and hooks my own tongue, sucks it into his mouth and pulls it halfway down his throat. A groan escapes me, desire for him explodes within my body, it’s that quick, it's always that quick.
Our hands jumble together, quickly pulling off each other's terrycloth robes, throwing them aside, hands grasping swim trunks and ripping them off, the urgent need to rub naked skin on naked skin making us both shiver with anticipation. After kicking off his trunks, Brian plops back down on the chair and pulls me roughly forward till our rigid dicks slap against each other, whap-whap! "Come here," he growls at me then, his voice rough with desire, "Come here and sit on my cock."
"You're sure you don't mind?" I move my hand from the gearshift and slip it between Justin's thighs.
Justin's fingers squeeze my hand and he answers quickly, "No, not at all, I'm fine. As long as you'll be okay driving in LA traffic at night when you don't know where you're going."
"I know perfectly well where I'm going." I withdraw my hand and slap it lightly upside his head before returning it to its favorite resting place. "And anyway, you're the world-famous navigator, it's up to you to read the map and steer us in the right direction."
We've decided to push on to Los Angeles today after all, we'd had a long sleep this morning and then a couple-hour post-fuck nap this afternoon; we agreed we were rested enough to make the final leg of our cross-country trip so we can be in LA tonight. We had a late lunch or early dinner at the hotel and headed out of town about four o'clock. Some rush-hour traffic - or what passes for rush-hour traffic in Phoenix - slowed us down a bit, but now we're on the highway west, moving along about seventy miles an hour, making good time.
"We should be there about ten or eleven," Justin tells me, consulting his clipboard documents, "Depending on if we make any stops. We'll probably need gas, and we might get hungry sometime."
"Brian, you always give me a hard time but guess what, you eat too, I've seen you."
"Occasionally," I admit. "Especially when I'm clean and sober. Two days without a drink. Almost three."
"Or any other toxic substances," Justin agrees happily. "Is that a record?"
"Fuck you." I'm slightly annoyed but I recognize the kernel of truth in what he's saying. It is a record for me - or anyway, I can't remember the last time I went three days without drink or drugs.
Suddenly my mood shifts downward; it's not pleasant to acknowledge that just maybe I've been overdoing the chemical substances. "Hi, my name’s Brian," I murmur mournfully, "And I'm an addict."
"No you're not." Justin's voice is emphatic, he's squeezing my fingers. "If you were, you'd be de-toxing all over the place by now and you're not, you're perfectly fine. No shakes or quakes."
No shakes or quakes. "Don't say 'quakes,' we're almost at the California state line." He's right though, and I'm immediately cheered up. If I were really an alcoholic or an addict, there'd be plenty of shaking after a three-day cleansing purge.
In the back of my mind I think I've been telling myself that I'll need to be completely clean and sober in LA, at least for a while, as I attempt to make a rep for myself at Bradford and Slate. I'll need all my wits about me; plenty of time later for revelry. So maybe it's a good thing after all that Justin is with me; with a live-in lover I won't be so tempted to go roving around West Hollywood.
The condo's near WeHo, halfway between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevard in the gay ghetto. It's a fairly upscale neighborhood, at least the brief glance around the blocks near the condo revealed well-kept houses and apartment buildings. I didn't have time to scout around WeHo when I was interviewing for the new job, and I've only been in LA a few times before on business, hurried trips that didn't allow for much play time.
Justin’s been researching West Hollywood on the internet, taking notes and describing some of the nightlife, the bars and restaurants that make up a large gay-centric neighborhood in greater Los Angeles. Naturally he’s excited about experiencing what gay life is like in a big city. But Justin’s not much of a party boy, he’s not really a club kid. He always liked hanging out with me in Babylon and in Woody’s, but I don’t think he’ll spend as much time partying if I’m not with him.
Or anyway, that’s what I imagine will happen in WeHo. In fact, I realize that’s what I’m hoping will happen. When I start remembering all the trouble Justin got himself into in our little Pittsburgh backwater, I shudder to think what he might get up to in WeHo.
Shit. Why did I bring him along with me? He’d be a hell of a lot safer if I’d left him back home.
“Why’d you get so quiet, Brian?” Justin interrupts my reverie.
“I’m having an epiphany,” I answer honestly, though I’ve no intention of explaining myself. “Practically a religious experience. Leave me alone with my thoughts for awhile, will you?”
“Sure,” Justin agrees readily. “Would you like me to step out and run alongside the car for a while?”
“Bri-an,” he whines then, “You can’t have an epiphany without me! Tell me what you’re thinking!”
I consider resisting but almost immediately I capitulate, he’s capable of whining all the rest of the way to LA.
“Okay, you asked for it.” Taking a deep breath and keeping my eyes on the road, I tell him, “I’m suddenly realizing that you’re a walking time-bomb of trouble. I’ll be constantly rescuing you from one disaster after another in LA. Then your mom will come out here and shoot me dead.”
“What an imagination! Maybe you are de-toxing after all – you’re acting majorly bizarro.”
“I think maybe you should go back home, for a while,” I tell him seriously. “You can come join me later, when my job’s secure and I have more time to look out for you.”
“Look fucking out for me?” his voice screeches. “You don’t need to look out for me! I’m not some kid - I’m twenty years old. Besides,” he adds urgently, “I’m going to be looking out for YOU!”
I knew that wasn’t going to fly. “Okay, but I think we’ll need some rules. Yeah,” I shake my head determinedly. “Rules.”
“Like, no doing drugs without me.”
“Well, I don’t mind that. I’m not as familiar with drugs as you are.”
No shit. “And,” I add, “No picking up tricks without me.”
“Jesus, Brian - you want us to be monogamous?”
“Fuck no!” That’s a horrifying thought. “Just not,” I hesitate, then plunge onward, “Just no picking up guys if I’m not with you. You’re a terrible judge of character.”
“And you’re so great?”
“And a curfew,” I add staunchly.
“We had a curfew before – three o’clock. It can be the same.”
“No,” I disagree, “That was Eastern time. This is Pacific time – so the curfew is midnight.”
And I don’t give a fuck if that doesn’t make sense.
“For you too?” Justin demands.
“I’m not coming home by midnight!”
“Then I’m not either.”
We ride along in silence for a couple minutes, then I hear Justin exhale a deep sigh. He releases his seatbelt and leans over to slip his arm around my waist. “I’ll be good,” he whispers, laying his head on my shoulder. “I won’t get in any trouble whatsoever. I promise.”
“Brian, tell me something. Will you?”
“Tell me you’re glad that I came along. Tell me you’re glad that I’m with you.”
“Justin. . .whatever.” But I can’t help this feeling of deep foreboding that washes over me.
“You’re just worried because you’re tired.”
“And also,” he adds ingenuously, “You’re fucking scared of my mom.”
Understatement of the year. If anything can make me shake and quake, it’s the icy glare of Mrs. Jennifer Taylor.
“Put your seatbelt back on,” I order him, “And check the map – I think we’re getting close to the state line. That’s about the halfway point from Phoenix to LA.”
Cheerfully whistling ‘California, here I come’ under his breath, Justin fishes beneath the seat for his clipboard.
Yeah, okay, so I’m glad that he’s with me.