BETWEEN THE SESSIONS
Guys, here is part II of the Between the Sessions from the session 7 with Brian and his mom. Please read the first part of this BTW before you read this or it will make no sense. I won't often do two parts of these between the sessions stories, but this one had a lot of critical transitional information. With Paul out, MANY THANKS to my MYSTERY BETA, who shall remain nameless! Enjoy the angst, guys.
When he opened the door to the loft, Brian heard the unexpected sound of jazz on the sound system, something that he seldom heard unless he put it on himself, usually when Justin was out. Justin was lying on the couch, wearing Brian's navy silk robe, his skin still damp from a shower. When Brian tossed him the bag containing the sub and fries, Justin peered into the sack then sat it on the floor.
"I've eaten," he said coolly, and Brian nodded, walking into the bedroom where he undressed and pulled on a pair of sweat pants. Justin's anger was heavy between them, outweighed only by Brian's guilt.
Brian opened a bottle of water from the refrigerator, then went over to his computer, logging on, his back to Justin. He could feel Justin's eyes boring into his back. "Thanks for abandoning me with the hydra."
"I just couldn't take her shit tonight, Justin," he said without turning around. "I'm sorry."
"Where did you go?"
"Does it matter?" He logged onto his email and saw he had fifteen messages. He opened the one from CPTASTRO first. That was Mikey's email moniker. It read:
Get out your red carpet! And kneal on it, LOL!!!!! (Mikey could never spell.) I know how well you do that, or so I've HEARD! I think I may be coming to the Big Apple soon for a Comics vendor convention. KEWL! Of course I plan to stay with you and J and save money, it that's ok. Or even if it isn't! LOL! Promise to look the other way when U 2 start pawing each other. RETCH! Ben is not coming with me, has to work. I expect you to show me the very hottest clubs in town while I'm there even if you are a boring old couple! CALL ME ASSHOLE!! You owe me a call. M.
M, ASSHOLE. You said to call you ASSHOLE, so I just did. The keyboard has a comma, Mikey. Use it. You know you are always welcome to stay with me, but can you give me a better idea of when than SOON?! As for the clubs, we'll see. I've kind of outgrown that scene, believe it or not. But I can tell you where to go, as I have been doing for YEARS. Tell Ben and Vic and your Mom and the others hello. Guess who visited my home today?? The WARDEN. Kill me now. B.
He trolled through the ads for Viagra and porn and penis extenders, wondered why his spam filter wasn't working and what the hell kind of lists he was on, then paused at one from a sender who called himself, DocWalk. Dr. Jeffrey Walker. "Hi Brian, this is Jeffrey. If this is not Brian Kinney, please delete. I had to recall this addy from memory, so here's hoping. Brian, do you want me to be the first to say it? Jeff" Brian hesitated, then responded: "To say what? B." An icon glowed in the corner of his screen as a message came back telling him Jeffrey wanted to chat with him. He accepted the message and a new screen popped up.
Jeffrey wrote: What do you mean? To say what? You know what!
Brian: What is what?
Jeff: You know what.
Jeff: Goodbye??! AARRGGHHH! Do you have any ego at all??!"
Brian: Some people tell me I'm all ego.
Jeff: Some people don't know you. Can you call me?
Brian: Not right now.
Jeff: Understand. Ok, here goes. Last chance.
Jeff: To stop me.
Jeff: Saying it first.
Brian: Maybe, I don't know what it is.
Jeff: Yes you do. That's why you're scared.
Brian: Quit saying I'm scared! I'm not scared, I'm confused!
Jeff: Are you really confused or are you trying to put me off?
Jeff: Ok, here goes. I love....your eyes. Muddy green. Great eyes. Great eyelashes.
Brian: LOL! Shut the FUCK up!
Jeff: I love...the way your lips part and you look like a mouth breather when you start to get a little turned on.
Brian: I'm warning you...
Jeff: I love...the way you kiss.
Brian: Yeah? What do you love about the way I kiss?
Jeff: Your tongue, your lips, your passion.
Brian: Keep going.
Jeff: I love...your long, bony fingers.
Brian: That's not the long bone you love.
Jeff: Promises, promises.
Brian: Yeah? Don't believe me? I can get affidavits.
Jeff: I believe in a more direct evaluation.
Brian: Promises, promises.
Jeff: I love...your fashion sense.
Brian: Good. I spend a lot of money to be loved for my fashion sense.
Jeff: Ok, here goes. Brian, I love...
"What the fuck are you doing?" Justin asked. Brian immediately sent the computer into sleep mode, losing his screen.
He swiveled to face Justin, his heart hammering. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"
"Why are you so jumpy? Like I care if you're on a porn site or something?"
"I wasn't on a porn site." Brian stood, walking over to the kitchen, wondering what the last words were that Jeffrey was typing. "Don't interrogate me. I'm not in the mood."
"First you leave me with your bitch mother, then you stay out, then you come back after a nice dinner without me, and don't deny it, you reek of garlic, and as soon as you get home, you bury yourself in your computer and ignore me. What the fuck is going on? Where did you go?"
"Out," Brian said coolly. "OK? Out."
"Did you see Jeff?"
Brian picked up a green apple and bit into it as he walked past Justin and turned on his treadmill, fast walking while he ate. "I haven't seen Jeff in a week."
"Yeah, ok, until tonight."
"Why not, Justin? He's a friend."
"Did you call him?"
"I went to the hospital. His service said he was there. We decided to get a bite to eat in Little Italy. Is that alright with you?"
"Not really," Justin stopped the treadmill, and Brian rode it backwards and then stepped off, sitting down heavily on the sofa and finishing his apple.
"Not when I'm stuck here alone, knowing you're upset and not knowing where you went. And then I find out you ran to HIM. How is that supposed to make me feel?" Brian sighed. "I came home to you, didn't I? We just had dinner, Justin. That's all. Dinner, and we talked."
"I want to be the one you talk to when you're feeling bad, Brian. I want to share that dinner with you. I'm your lover. I want to share your life."
"You live with me. You eat all your dinners with me, every night. You fuck me. You shower with me. You send me off in the morning and you call me ten times a day at my office. Don't smother me. Allow me to have a friend."
Justin sighed and walked over to the bedroom, dropping the robe and climbing under the duvet. "I'm not worried about your having a friend, Brian. I'm worried about that friend being Jeffrey. Because whether you admit it or not, he's a hell of a lot more than a friend to you, and we both know it. I don't know if you're lying to me or lying to yourself, but you better figure it out before this whole thing turns to shit." Brian frowned and walked over to the bed, staring down at his prone figure. "What does that mean? Is that some kind of threat?" Justin raised himself to one elbow to look up at him. "No, Brian. That's the likely outcome, isn't it?"
"This whole thing is pretty funny, considering what you did to me, to our relationship, while I just played the stupid fuck and let you fall for someone else," Brian said bitterly. "How long are you going to punish me for that? Because if that's what this reconciliation is about, we're doomed." Justin retorted. Brian combed his fingers through his hair and sighed. He stripped off his sweatpants and climbed in beside him, stretching out next to his body, feeling him tense.
He put one arm over him and Justin turned his back to Brian. Brian frowned and fell back on his own pillow as he said, "I hate angst."
"Why? You do it so well."
"Fuck you," Brian said with a chuckle, and Justin sat up to glare at him under the glow of the blue neon.
"I'm serious. When we were together the first time, it was other men and never telling me how you feel about me, and making sure things never got too romantic. Then, when we broke up, it was the big move to New York, and then you couldn't sleep, followed by late night phone calls and misery. So I came back. Now its perfect doctors with perfect looks and perfect lives and perfect ages and perfect kids and a perfect condo on Fifth Avenue. You're a drama queen, Brian. You thrive on conflict. You're like Goldilocks. Nothing is j-u-u-ust right." Brian sat up, lit a cigarette, shook his head. "You're calling me a drama queen? I am the least dramatic person you will ever know."
"Don't confuse your image with the real you. I've learned the difference. Why can't you?"
He glared at Justin. "Maybe that's why I'm going to Lydia."
"Not a moment too soon."
"Why are you being such a little twat?"
"I love you, Brian. Look at me. I'm here. I'm yours. Let it happen."
Brian shook his head. "I thought it was happening."
"Is it? I think you're still running, only this time your game is a lot more dangerous than before. Before it was always running after a piece of ass. The piece may change, but it was always sex. This time, you're toying with love, with someone's heart. As well as mine and your own. You got the sex thing down cold, Brian. Hat's off to you, you're a genius at it. But when it comes to love, you're a rank amateur, so you better be careful or you'll ruin everything and yourself in the process."
"I'm not looking for that, Justin. I just...I don't feel safe with you yet."
"Safe? Did I give up everything to come here and be with you? Did I take that chance? Did I break someone else's heart to heal yours? Yes. Why? Because I love you. What more security do you need?"
"Justin, I don't know," he said softly. "If I knew, it wouldn't be a problem."
"Is it because I left you?"
"Yes. You have no idea the damage that came from that. I'm not placing blame, I'm not saying you were wrong and I was right. I'm just telling you, I took a serious burn over that, and the scars are still fresh."
"And the good doctor has some kind of miracle cure for that, does he?"
Brian fell back with a groan, covering his eyes with his forearm. "This is not fucking about Jeffrey!"
"No, I agree with you there. It isn't about Jeffrey. It isn't even about me. It's about you. It's all about your figuring out what the hell is important to you and why!" Brian got up, pulling on clothes as he encountered them. His sweatpants. Justin's discarded t-shirt that fit him like second skin, his socks and Prada boots. He topped it with his leather jacket and grabbed his wallet and cigarettes. "What the fuck are you doing now?" Justin insisted as Brian crossed the room and paused at the door.
"I'm going out."
"Dressed like that?"
"Fuck it!" He slammed the door closed behind him, and Justin sighed and shook his head."
"The Queen Mum is dead," he murmured. "Long live Brian."
Joan Kinney hesitated when her phone rang, noticing by the clock on the television that it was almost eleven.
When a man's hoarse voice said, "What's your room number?", she was appalled.
"How dare you!" She said, and then he cut in with, "Mom, it's Brian, give me your room number!"
Minutes later, she was tying on her robe as she went to answer the incessant knocking at her door. She looked through the peephole to confirm his identity and was surprised by how shabby he looked, so unlike his usual perfection. He walked past her, opened the blackout shade to see her view of the neon of Times Square, and then crouched before the mini bar, removing a tiny bottle of Jim Beam. "Brian! Do you know how expensive that is?"
He threw a twenty dollar bill on her bed and sucked the bottle dry before leveling a glare at her. "That ought to buy me a couple belts."
"Are you drunk?" She asked, watching him seek another bottle and empty it just as rapidly.
"Not yet, but I plan to be." He shrugged off his jacket and then reached towards her to guide her into the chair. She flinched as if he was going to strike her and he withdrew. "What's wrong with you?" he insisted, wondering at her skittishness. She met his eyes in silence and then sat down on the chair, saying nothing. Brian sighed. He knew at that moment her claims to have been the victim of his father's violence were true.
"Mom, I'm not Jack. I don't hit."
"I never thought you did."
"And I'm not drunk." He sat on the edge of the bed, facing her. He looked down at his too tight t-shirt and grimaced, futilely tucking it into the waistband of his sweats. "I had a fight with Justin. I need to talk to you."
"Because, for better or worse, you're my mother." She looked at him and for just a moment, saw a child version of Brian. The messy hair did it. His hair always gave in to cowlicks. She used to fight a continuing battle to keep it tamed. She thought he had overcome it, but now she realized it was just an expensive haircut and one windstorm away from chaos. He always had those large, Keene painting eyes, soulful and riveting, even as a boy. He could express volumes without speaking, and he still had that ability to wear his emotions in his gaze. All he lacked was a spray of tanned freckles and a band aid covering some latest scrape or scratch. She resisted the urge to smooth his hair off his forehead and tell him everything would work out as she fed him a favorite chocolate- chocolate chip cookie. Unfortunately, he was long past the age when he could believe such advice, or be placated by sweets. Looking back, even as a child, he had a sad, cynical air.
"Why did you never love me, Mom?"
"How can you even ask me that, Brian? I've always loved you."
He shook his head, looked wistfully at the minibar, decided not to seek out more alcohol. "That's not true. That's just what you think you're supposed to feel."
"Brian, you've managed to block out certain truths as you built your case against me. I've thought long and hard about what you said to me at your apartment. Some of it, if not all of it, is valid. But it's only part of the picture."
"Fill in the blanks."
"It's true that your father never wanted another child. He viewed himself as a Peter Pan, handsome, virile, never growing old and burdened with responsibility. Sound familiar?"Brian shifted his weight uncomfortably as she continued. "He used other women to validate that he was still a contender, and he used alcohol to blur the truth. But when I became pregnant with you, I was glad. I wanted Claire to have a sibling, and I thought a child might ground Jack. I was wrong about that. He only got worse. But from the moment they handed you to me in the hospital, and I looked down into that beautiful face, I knew you were special. Claire was such a homely baby, difficult delivery, misshapen head, red and bawling. You were quiet, like a little old man, and perfect in every detail."
Brian thought of Gus. How perfect he seemed when he first saw him. He urged her to continue, without saying anything. "Jack accused me of favoring you, and I suppose I did. You were easy to favor. You were a gorgeous child, smart, well behaved and solicitous. Everywhere I went with you, people stopped me to comment on your beauty and your sweet nature. I said you were a gift from God, and I meant it."
"When did it change?"
"It never really changed, Brian. But Jack said I was spoiling you, turning you into a sissy. When you were old enough to play sports, he suddenly took an interest in you. You had a natural grace as an athlete, something he lacked and envied. You accuse me of never going to your soccer games because I was working at the church. The fact is, I never went because Jack would be there, and I couldn't stand to hear him yelling at you, berating you in front of everyone, even when you were the star. Your best was never good enough for him. If I complained, he hit me. Even worse, he would often hit you."
Brian winced, remembering his shame and horror when his father would stand on the sidelines of a game and loudly criticize his every move. "Why did you let him hit me? Hit you?"
"Because I was brought up to accept that kind of behavior as the norm. I saw my father do it to my mother and to my brothers. I believed it was what it meant to be married. And I believed in the absolute sanctity of the marriage union. There was no escape from it."
Brian never knew his mother's father, dead before he was born. He faintly remembered his maternal grandmother as a frail, silent specter. He thought of his father's parents and their peaceful farm in Amish country. If Joan learned to be a doormat from her parents, did Jack learn violence from his? Brian grimaced, unable to imagine the grandparents he adored ever raising a hand to their son in anger. "You never did anything to stop him, Mom."
"That's not true. I threatened, I cried, I fought back. I spoke to the priest about him. I even locked Jack out of the house more than once when he was very drunk."
"He hurt me, Mom."
Her eyes filled with tears. "Brian, do you remember your fifth birthday?" He shook his head, too emotional to trust his voice. "I had a little party for you. All of your friends from school and church were there. Your father came home drunk. He raged about spending so much money to celebrate your birthday when you should never have been born. You ran and hid, in terror, and I had to get everyone out. He threw your cake against the wall, and kicked around your gifts. He told me I was a bitch for rubbing it in his face that you were born. After that, I was terrified of celebrating your birthday. I never knew what Jack might do. And if we couldn't celebrate your birthday, we weren't going to celebrate anyone's birthday, so I established the rule that we only celebrate achievement. Even then, I was cautious with you, because of his rage."
"I never knew that."
"You were too young to remember."
"He hated me that much?"
"It wasn't hate, Brian. It was envy. You were so clever, so attractive, you were going to be everything that Jack thought he should be, but wasn't. He envied you for that. Envy is a terrible, terrible thing."
Brian stood, paced, reconsidering this version of his family dynamics. He recalibrated and reapportioned blame, like correcting pie charts in a presentation to a client. "You didn't make me queer, Mom. It wasn't your spoiling me, as Jack put it, or being cold to me, as I remember it. It wasn't even being fondled by my uncle, the faggot priest. If you feel guilt over that, forget it."
"What did, Brian? It wasn't that you couldn't have a girlfriend. All the girls were crazy about you."
He smiled slightly and opened the drapes, leaning his back against the cool glass. "I know."
"When did it happen?"
"It didn't 'happen', Mom. It always was. I tried it with girls. I wanted to be 'normal'. But that's not 'normal' for me. It felt very abnormal and wrong. The only thing that felt right was for me to be with other men."
"Do you think it has anything to do with trying to find a man unlike your father to love you?" He smiled slightly. "I doubt it."
"Was it that Novotny boy?" Brian laughed and lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply. "Mikey is my friend, Mom, not my lover. Never was, never will be."
"I just don't understand, Brian. Sex was always so difficult for me with a husband. I can't imagine being...different."
"For me, it isn't 'different'. It's the only way."
"What about AIDS?"
"What about it? I'm negative. I test twice a year, even though I don't engage in unsafe sex."
"But you are promiscuous, are you not?"
"Who told you that?"
"Does it matter?"
Brian inhaled the last puff from his cigarette and stubbed it out, smiling as he solved the mystery. "Of course, it was that fat little sissy boy, Kent Loomis. His mom, Barbara, told you, didn't she? He told her he saw me in the clubs. Well, I saw Kent too. He may as well have worn a sign that read 'Leper'. No one came near him. So he hooks up with some other loser and they become the poster couple for ugly homos. I won't lie to you, Mom. I've been promiscuous, if you want to label it that way. I've had plenty of one night stands. Before I met Justin, that's all I had."
"Because I liked the hunt, the conquest. Because relationships are hard and boring. Sex is easy and fun. Because I believed no one could ever really want me for more than my body and my sexual expertise, since I had no emotion to offer them. I knew I was incapable of love."
"I met this blond kid one night, and he changed my worldview. Not all at once. It was a very painful transition. I'm not even sure when it happened, but we went from lovers to being in love, and while I still fooled around, it was with a lot less enthusiasm and frequency."
"You fell in love with him?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, I guess that's what it is. As close as I'll ever come to it, maybe."
Joan smiled slightly and stared up at him. "He adores you, Brian. After you left tonight, he read me the riot act."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, he very politely but firmly, explained to me how damaged you are by your childhood and how you're paying for it now, and so is he. He told me how you were his hero, the bravest man he has ever known."
"He said that?"
"There's more. He said you were the moral voice of your friends in Pittsburgh, that you never judged, but you did call them on, what he called their 'bullshit', and told them they were fooling no one. He said your cynicism about the straight world has not prevented you from beating them at their own game in business, and how hard fought your financial success is, in part because you are openly gay."
He shook his head slightly, his guilt returning in a rush. "Justin is the brave one."
"Don't lose him because you can't let yourself love him, Brian. He's perfect for you."
He looked at her, shocked by that statement. "Why do you say that?"
"I'd prefer that your perfect mate be female, of course, but if that's never happening, Justin is an ideal man. He's sweet and beautiful, but more than that, and essential for you, he's strong and he's loyal and he's devoted to you. You need someone who will tell you over and over and over again that he loves you, no matter how often you test him. Eventually, you may begin to believe it. But even someone as loyal as Justin can be pushed too far. Don't do that, Brian. Don't sacrifice your happiness because you don't think you deserve it. You DO deserve it. In fact, it's long overdue."
Brian turned towards the view of the Square as his eyes brimmed with tears. He tensed when he felt her hand on his back, rubbing slow circles, and he finally turned and took her into his embrace, holding gently to her for a long and silent moment. He backed off reluctantly, regaining control, and removed something from his wallet that he left on her dresser. "Lion King tickets, Mom. Have fun. You kept your end of the bargain. This is mine."
"Can we get together for dinner before I go back?"
He smiled and nodded. "Sure, I'll set something up and call. I'll take you somewhere fancy that you can brag about for weeks."
"I love you, Brian. I pray for you every day."
"Okay, Mom, if that makes you feel better. But I'm still gay at the end of your prayers."
"And I'll pray for more understanding of that fact on my part."
"That's all I can ask." He hesitated, then impulsively kissed her cheek, smiling as she spread her fingers on his cheek, still feeling her gentle touch right where his father often struck him as he left her room and went back out into the night.
Justin moaned as Brian awoke him with cold fingers on his warm skin. He turned over, squinting up at him. "How's Jeffrey?"
"I went to see the warden, Justin." Awake now, Justin watched Brian peel off his clothes and asked,
"Your MOM? Why?"
"To set a few things straight."
"And did you?" Brian nodded, naked now, as he crawled into bed. He took Justin's penis between his thumb and forefinger, gently stroking the flap of skin beneath the head, then rubbing the flat of his thumb over the tip, feeling him stiffen. "Touch me, baby," he whispered into his ear, and Justin reached for his cock, not surprised to find it was already hard. Justin met his eyes and smiled, turning on his stomach at right angles to Brian's body as he took his erection in his fist and began sucking it vigorously. Brian closed his eyes, giving in to the bliss that was unique to the intimacy they shared.
Sated, Justin slept soundly, looking like a child against the pillow, as Brian quietly left the bed and pulled on his discarded navy silk robe. He went over to his computer and turned on the monitor, watching the flat screen come back to the last box viewed when he shut it down. He picked up his chat with Jeffrey, now frozen in time. At the top of the box, he was reminded that DocWalk was offline. He could send no further messages to this chat. But he could read what Jeffrey last wrote. Brian had said, "Good. I spend a lot of money to be loved for my fashion sense." Jeff responded: "Ok, here goes. Brian, I love..." that was when Brian turned off the screen. Now the whole sentence became clear. "Brian, I love you." He winced, leaning back in his chair as he felt a combination of joy and fear over that proclamation. He then saw that Jeff wrote: "Brian? Did I scare you off?" This was followed by, "Brian? Don't make me feel like a fool. At least say something." Finally, his last entry was, "I guess I can take a clue from your silence. Sorry, I didn't think it would be such a surprise. Well, have a good life anyway. Goodbye, Jeff."
Brian started to send an email, then sighed and pressed his palm flat against the screen, his eyes closing as he imagined how rejected and embarrassed Jeffrey felt. He would have been devastated by a silent response to such a brave declaration. As he turned off his computer, he wondered how a man like Jeffrey could love him, and why he felt such an overwhelming desire to ensure Jeffrey understood exactly why he didn't respond.
|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