COUP DE GRACE
Just as Brian expected, Lindsay’s home, when not subject to influence from Melanie, confirmed that all the bad taste in their shared cottage was attributable to Lindsay’s former partner. Most of it, anyway. This home she made for herself and for Gus was too cluttered for Brian’s tastes, but the clutter hung together to form a coherent design scheme, which was more than could be said for the house she shared with Melanie. He was paying for part of the rent, here, of course, through the support payments he made for Gus, but he didn’t begrudge any of that money. Not only did it ensure Gus had a good place to live, but Lindsay was much more like her old self, sunny and happy, since shedding the bitch on wheels to whom she was shackled.
Lindsay had begun dating other women, her sidetrack with dick more of a frolic and a detour than a long hidden desire. Just as Brian suspected it would be. So far, she was playing the field, which he advocated. She had been locked down for too long to fall into another relationship too soon.
They sat together on the couch, watching Justin and Gus play with Gus’s elaborate racecar track. Hard to tell which of the boys was enjoying it more. Brian enjoyed seeing the two of them making happy together, and Lindsay enjoyed the look of happiness on Brian’s handsome face. She reached over to squeeze his hand.
“How do you feel, Brian?”
“I feel like I wish people would stop asking me how I feel.”
“I got it, but it just reminds me, okay? I’m fine.”
“Good. You be careful on this drive of yours. Can’t believe you guys are doing this. You’re going to be so grumpy and Justin will be antsy, being trapped in that little car with a grumpy lover.”
“I don’t do grumpy. He’s my least favorite dwarf.”
She laughed. “Riiight. Aren’t you proud of Justin? Such a huge accomplishment, this movie!”
Brian nodded. “Of course I am. He worked so hard on it, I hope it turns out to be everything he wants it to be.”
“You were great, encouraging him to travel out there when he needed to, not making him feel guilty about being away. Being there for him when he came home. You turned out to be a damned good partner, Brian. Who knew?”
He glared at her. “Shut up.”
“Take a compliment, for once.”
“Give me one I can swallow. We aren’t lesbians, Lindsay. I didn’t sit at home and knit while he was away. We have lives that are separate as well as together.”
She shook her head as she beamed at him. “You are so full of shit. You so love him.”
His response was a glare. “You ever see Mel and Mikey’s demon spawn? I mean, does Gus get to see her?”
“Rarely. I suppose that’s my biggest disappointment, Brian. After all the hell Melanie put you through, put me through, to get parental rights to Gus, she’s just written him out of her life, along with me. She has hers and I guess Gus is mine. That’s so wrong, and it hurts so much.”
Brian patted her hand. “I always suspected it was a power play with Melanie. She’s all about power. Look, he’s mine, too. You aren’t alone in this. You know I love Gus every bit as much as Mikey loves his kid, I just don’t gush about it until everyone around him wants to vomit.”
“I know that, Brian. And Gus adores you.”
They both cast their gazes on the boys again and Brian stood up and swooped Gus into his arms, causing the child to giggle as he swung him overhead.
“I hope he hurls on you,” Justin teased and Brian laughed.
“Yeah? You’ll be smelling it all the way to St. Louis, then.”
“Whoops, I retract that statement.”
But Gus didn’t hurl. Instead he wrapped his legs around Brian as he straddled his hip, and rested his head on his shoulder. “Daddy, don’t go.”
“Just for a few days, and we’ll get you something everywhere we stop. You and Mommy are going on the airplane and we’ll see you in California.”
“Mickey Mouse!” Gus said with a delighted squeal and Brian winced. In a weak moment, he promised to take Gus to Disneyland while they were in the vicinity.
“Yeah, yeah, Mickey Mouse.” He was hoping to hand that duty off to Lindsay and Justin, but suspected Gus had other ideas. He was too young to see the movie, but not too young to make the trip. Brian bought first class tickets for them both, wanting the travel to be special for his son and wanting to treat Lindsay, who had been through a lot. Why not? His business was going gangbusters, he could afford it.
“Daddy, don’t go,” Gus repeated. In the last few months, Brian and Gus had grown much closer, due in no small part to Brian’s determination to be a presence in the life of his child. He would never have another, the cancer doctors had seen to that. Even if he wanted to, it was no longer a physical possibility. He liked to say not only was he hung like a mule, but he was as sterile as one, too. Gus was it for him, and he wanted to make it count. Lindsay intervened, prying Gus out of Brian’s arms. When the tears started, Brian kissed Gus, kissed Lindsay, gathered Justin, and made his escape.
“I hate it when he cries like that,” Brian admitted, lighting a cigarette as they walked to the car.
“He stops as soon as you’re gone. It’s just something little kids do. Separation anxiety.”
“Thanks Dr. Freud.”
Justin laughed. “You know I’m right.”
“Tell you what. You drive. You wanted to share the chores, go for it. I’m a little tired.” The simple fact was, Brian still got tired more easily and more profoundly. He was a long way from his initial depletion, but it took time to recover from the radiation and the drugs, and only now was he able to work out with no restrictions. Building back muscle and endurance took time. Justin knew to let him call his own schedule, but when he admitted to being tired, Justin ran with it, encouraging him to rest.
In the tightly packed car, they went over the checklist on the directions and Justin pushed in the CD Ted burned for Brian. He adjusted the seat to accommodate his own height and smiled at his lover. “This will be fun.”
“Can you get us started without getting lost?”
Justin glared at him. “Liberty Avenue to I-279, to I-79 to I-70. Yeah, I think I can manage it, Brian.”
“Don’t speed. We have plenty of time and a Vette is a cop magnet.”
“If you don’t shut up...”
Brian held up his hands in surrender and hunkered down in the shotgun seat, eyes closed. Within minutes he was asleep, until...
“Going my way?” Vic Grassi’s voice filled the car, above the music and the sound of the highway traffic.
Brian glanced at him over his shoulder and groaned. A dog couldn’t fit in that space behind the seats, let alone a man the size of Vic, but when you’re a ghost, space loses its limitations. Vic wore a Hawaiian shirt, which seemed to be his eternal wardrobe. Vic was a frequent visitor in Brian’s dreams, and Brian suspected it was always more than a dream. Vic had become his spiritual guide. Thanks very much, but who asked him to?
“Are you going to bug me this whole trip?” Brian asked and Vic laughed.
“What’s wrong? Didn’t you miss me? I haven’t been here in weeks.”
“I thought you found someone better to haunt.”
“Better than you? Surely you jest. Who could be better than you? Who needs a guardian angel more than Brian Kinney?”
“Is that what you think you are? An angel? Jesus, just my luck. My angel’s an old queen.”
“Hey, we don’t use the J-word where I come from, it’s very déclassé.”
Brian laughs. “I’ll bet. Is he gay, too?”
“Shut your mouth, you bad boy. So, a long road trip with your lover. Is this wise?”
“You tell me, oh great oracle.”
“Interesting, if not wise. We’ll see.”
“And by ‘we’, do you mean you’ll be hanging around?”
“If the mood hits me. You know I only show up if I have something to say.”
“Which, in your family, is constant.”
“Isn’t it time, Brian?”
“Time for what?”
“To tell him how you feel. To put in words what you both know to be true.”
“If we both know it, why do I have to say it?”
“Because he deserves to hear it.”
“But he still deserves to hear it. How do you feel when he tells you he loves you?”
Brian shrugs. “Skeptical.”
“Okay, it’s nice to hear, I admit it.”
“Spoken with all the wisdom of a man who was buried wearing a Jimmy Buffett shirt.”
“Hey, this is Tommy Bahama, one hundred per cent silk.”
“Look who’s talking. Brian, you have a special gift in that young man’s love for you. And in your love for him. It’s not a sign of weakness to tell him how you feel.”
“Sometimes I want to, but when I start to say the words, they get all caught up in my throat and something else comes out,” Brian admitted.
“Hum. Start slowly, wait until you’re in the afterglow and just whisper it to him. Let him wonder if he heard you correctly.”
“Now I’m supposed to take romantic advice from a shade?”
“Someone needs to tell you. Why not me?”
“Vic, go away.”
“Okay, but I’ll be back.”
Brian sighed. “Yeah I know. Bye Vic.”
“Brian?” Justin’s voice, Justin’s hand on his arm. They were stopped at a service station. Brian had no clue where they were, still groggy from the dream. “You said something about Vic.”
“I did?” He had stopped talking about these dumb dreams of his. He felt they made him look nuts. “No, I didn’t. Where are we?”
“I have to pee, and we need to fill up the tank. Want to stop for the night? Get a fresh start?”
“No, let’s go straight through to St. Louis. I can drive now. I’m rested.”
They began filling the tank, leaving it pumping as they walked to the john together. Justin looked dubious.
“You’re still tired. You only slept a couple hours and you were very fitful.”
The bathroom was less than clean, but they both took a piss and then Brian reached for him. “I’ll show you how tired I am.”
“Here?” Justin sounded uncertain and Brian kissed him hard, then said,
“Sex in a public john has a lot to recommend it.”
Justin smiled, groped Brian’s crotch and decided he was right. The surroundings didn’t matter and he gripped the sink with both hands, watching their reflection in the grimy mirror above it as Brian entered him, always equipped with a condom and a throwaway packet of lube. Brian may not be a Boy Scout, but he was always prepared. Someone banged on the door to get in, and Brian told them to wait, and then as Justin blew his wad against the porcelain, Brian let go with a howl of delight.
Cleaned up, zipped up, they smiled as they walked past the disgusted face of the trucker who had been waiting to get in. He knew and they didn’t give a shit about his knowledge. “Eat your heart out,” Brian tossed at him as they went and Justin giggled.
“You are so going to get us killed.”
“Live fast... you know the rest.” Brian responded as he topped off the tank and slid in behind the wheel. As he turned the engine over, he asked, “Where are we?”
Justin laughed, reconciled to a long night.
|Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
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July 25, 2004