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by Randall Morgan

FINALLY!!!!! First, thanks to all of you who hung in for the very end, I appreciate your time and your loyalty. Thanks to Paul for his encouragment, help, patience and for giving up our time together while I worked. Thanks to Lady J for her incredible analyses that inspired me and delighted me. Thanks to Aliki for her fascinating insight and Greek history lessons (including the reference to 'political death'). Thanks to La Monica for her mantra, which I hope you see used in a slightly edited way. SPECIAL BIG THANKS to Darren and Alan for all the hard work and odd hours in editing my raw sewage. I hope you guys enjoy it. I'm exhausted!!!! Randall

BETWEEN THE SESSIONS, After session 18

Brian was as nervous as a boy meeting his prom date at the door. He was finally going to get to see Molly! Dressed in gown and protective mask, he was being admitted to her isolation room because her blood levels were up, and because he was leaving town. He had even brought a gift for her that had been cleared by her medical team. He kept it behind his back as he walked in with Justin, blowing her a kiss through the mask after she blew him one. Hugging or kissing was not permitted. Molly was frail, but she was very aware of things as he pulled a chair up to her bed and looked at her grave little face.

"You can't tell with this mask, but I'm smiling," he said and she giggled. The sound was like silver bells to him.

"Because they let you come in?"

"Yes, and because you're so much better."

"I still feel crappy."

He laughed. "Is that a word princesses use in your kingdom?"

"It is if they feel crappy," she said reasonably. "You're going away, aren't you?"

"Just for awhile. I'll be in New York, it's not far."

"Brian, thank you for being my prince. For being there at my door every time I woke up. I would feel so scared, so certain something awful was going to happen, but then I would see you there, watching me, and I'd relax. Because I knew you would keep the bad things away."

He rested a hand on the covers above her bony knee, recovering his voice with some difficulty. "I always will, Molly. No matter what."

"I know. I believe you."

"I want you to get well more than anything in the world."

"I know. I'm trying."

"I know you are. Hey, with your brother's big strong bone marrow, how can you miss? Think you'll be able to draw when you're better? Like he does?"

She giggled again. "I wonder if you would love me more, like you love him?"

Brian sighed. "I couldn't love you more than I already do. It's not possible."

"Yes it is. You could marry me."

He laughed. "You're too short for me."

"Too bald for you, you mean."

"No, I like a girl with no hair. She takes a heck of a lot less time to get ready."

Molly groaned at his joke. "That sucks!"

"More princess talk?"

"Brian, are you gay?"

Brian heard Justin clear his throat, but he just shrugged. "You know what that means?"

"Yes, it's when boys like boys and girls like girls. I used to hear Mom and Daddy fight about Justin."

"I see. Yes, Molly. I am gay. I love your brother."

Justin came over and rested his hand on Brian's shoulder. "And I love Brian, Mol."

She looked from one to the other, and nodded solemnly. "If I can't have Brian, I'm glad you do, Justin. At least he's in my family."

Brian smiled. "Thanks, kid."

"But don't let him go, Justin, or I'll be really mad."

The two men exchanged a meaningful look. "Never," Justin said quietly, while Brian winced.

"They aren't going to let us stay, Molly," Brian told her. "We aren't supposed to tire you out. But remember when I met you that day in New York with your mom?"


"You told me you were looking for the prince with the glass slipper?"

"I said you were the prince with the glass slipper."

"No, I'm just his friend. I'm here to hold his place in line until you're grown up enough to see him. But he asked me to give you this so you never lose sight of the fact that he's out there waiting, and never settle for anyone less than the man who is perfect for you." He handed her a crystal slipper, small but perfectly formed from hand blown glass. It had a high heel and a bow across the toes. She reached out and carefully took it from him, her small hands caressing the smooth surface as she took in the wonder of what she held.

"Oh Brian, it's BEAUTIFUL!" she exclaimed, reaching out to hug him. Instead, he took one of her hands and pressed it to his lips, impeded by the mask.

"So are you, Molly. And don't you ever forget it. And don't forget what that slipper means."

"I won't. Not ever. I knew you would give me a glass slipper. I just knew it!"

"Now you get some rest. We should go."

"Brian, you will come back to see me sometime, won't you?"

"Of course, honey," he blinked back unbidden tears. "I'll dance at your wedding."

"Don't wait that long," she insisted and he nodded, reluctantly getting to his feet.

"Next time we meet, I want a big hug from you," he requested. She nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks as he waved a sad farewell, and left her room. Brian walked straight out of the hospital, still wearing the mask and gown, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, unaware that Justin followed. In the courtyard, his hands shook as he tried to light a cigarette, and Justin took it from him, lowered Brian's mask, and slipped it between his lips, then lit it for him. Brian inhaled sharply, exhaled, inhaled again, and blew it out. The nicotine calmed him.

"I don't want to go. I don't want to leave."

"Stay," Justin urged him. "Molly's better. Just stay and let him go. Fuck him."

Brian pulled Justin into his arms. "I can't. It's fate, baby. I can't trick fate."

"Bullshit," Justin insisted. "No such thing." He remembered the plan. He didn't push it. "We'll be together, Brian. Don't worry about that. We will be. This is just a temporary setback."

"Yeah," he released Justin from his arms. "Sure it is, Sunshine. I know," he didn't sound convinced. "But I have to leave now, pick up Jeff at the hotel and then head for the airport."

"I know."

"How can you be so brave about it?" Brian asked.

"Because I'm not the one going with that freak, and because I know it will work out. Maybe sooner than you think."

"I wish that were so."

"It is so, Kinney. Have some faith."

"Don't give up on me."

"Never," Justin said firmly, reaching up to kiss him. Brian let the kiss linger for a long time, as if afraid he would never kiss him as a lover again. Then he turned and walked away, unable to speak. Justin wanted to follow, but he forced himself to stand pat. They had a plan. He had to play his part. But it was excruciating to watch Brian walk off that way, full of dread and feeling utterly defeated. Justin sat down heavily on a bench, searching for strength he didn't know he had.

"So we'll change at my place and leave from there," Jeffrey said as the limo drove Brian and him from the airport into the city. Brian said nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing. He was as numb as a corpse. "Are you listening to me?"

"Drop me off at my loft."


"For one thing, I need to pick up my tux."

"Oh. We'll wait at the curb."

"No, Jeff. I want to go into my office for a couple hours. Find out if I still have a job. I'll be at your place in plenty of time."

"I'll give you something to pick you up when you arrive," Jeffrey insisted. "A little jolt. That ought to improve your personality. It's a party, Brian. Everyone will be there. I don't want to show up with a zombie."

"I'm just tired."

"You're more than tired. You're fried. You're not seeing that woman are you?"

"What woman is that?"

"That African female shrink."

"You mean African American? Lydia?"


"Does it matter?"

"If you want to see a shrink, I'll refer you to a real doctor, Brian. Not some witch doctor. Or should I say BITCH doctor?" Jeffrey chuckled at his little joke.

"Lydia is one of the most respected psychiatrists in this city. What is WRONG with you?"

"With me? Are you telling ME who is well respected in the medical community? Aren't you the guy who sells dog food and douche?"

"Yeah, I sell dog food and douche. Why would you want to be seen with a guy like that, anyway?"

Jeffrey leaned over and kissed Brian on the temple. "Because you're such a pretty boy, darling."

Brian cringed, leaving the car as soon as it pulled up to his building. He waved off Jeffrey as he called out a time to him and escaped to the temporary sanctuary of his loft.


Doctor's Notes: Brian arrived at my office, as pre-arranged, just before five. No matter what turmoil he had been through in the last few weeks, he looked like a movie star in his black, shawl-collared tux and pleated white shirt with black jade studs and cufflinks. He sat down in the chair, resting a polished dress slipper against his opposite knee.

Excerpt from transcript:

Doctor: You look mighty spiffy.

BK: Thanks. I wish I felt spiffy.

Doctor: How do you feel?

BK: Like the cow in the chute just before they bring the mallet down on its head.

Doctor: That's descriptive. This is all for the Winterfest party?

BK: More than that. This is my debut in New York society as Dr. Jeffrey Walker's new bit of cooze. He's getting an award tonight, he wants to show off his latest scalp.

Doctor: Is that how you feel about it?

BK: No. I feel much worse than that about it.

Doctor: So why are you going through with it?

BK: You know why.

Doctor: I thought you said on the phone that Molly has improved.

BK: Fate, Lydia. I can't trick fate.

Doctor: Bullshit.

BK: (Laughs.) That's blunt.

Doctor: Snap out of it, Mary Sunshine. You didn't cure her by bargaining with fate, nor will you kill her if you make fate angry. You may succeed in killing yourself, however.

BK: What does that mean?

Doctor: It means you're severely depressed over this capitulation of your basic self to the utter control of a psychotic. You're turning away from the person you love, you're prostituting your body, you're in abject misery. You can't do this and expect to survive, Brian.

BK: I'm tougher than you think.

Doctor: No, you're really not. And I believe you're in no small danger. I think Dr. Walker is incapable of withstanding humiliation, and by this time Monday, he will be humiliated in front of his peers.

BK: What do you mean?

Doctor: I'm filing my complaint. Don't try to talk me out of it, Brian. It's my obligation as a physician. And I intend to inform the authorities that you are endangered by this man.

BK: You can't do that.

Doctor: I am doing that.

BK: We have a privilege, my privilege, to protect!

Doctor: If I fear you're in imminent danger, my obligation to protect you trumps that privilege, and I do fear that.

BK: Jeffrey would never kill me. He may be a freak, but he's not a maniac.

Doctor: I don't agree with the word "maniac", but I disagree wholeheartedly with your assertion that you aren't in danger.

BK: I'm a big boy, Lydia. I can take care of myself.

Doctor: See, that's what worries me. You believe that and yet nothing you've done lately would suggest it's true.

BK: Please don't do this. The whole thing with Moll, I just can't risk it. Please. She's only now doing better. I won't support your claims and you can't prove anything without my cooperation.

Doctor: Brian, I lunched with an old friend of mine. He's a vastly respected pediatric oncologist at the hospital where Jeffrey did his residency. He was chief of that practice at the time Jeffrey was there. Would you like to know how he described Jeffrey?

BK: (Silent.)

Doctor: I'm telling you anyway. He said Jeffrey struck him as a driven perfectionist who viewed cancer as "untidy" and against the natural order, so it had to be eliminated. He fought the disease with creativity and from multiple angles, and he seemed to care about his patients.

BK: See? That doesn't sound bad.

Doctor: But if the patient failed to prosper under a regimen, or the parents failed to see the merits of his protocol, Jeffrey reacted as if they were trying to make him look bad. The loss of a patient to the disease wasn't so much a personal loss as it was a loss of internalized prestige. He worried that Jeffrey's ego and personalization of the disease would not serve him well in a specialty where compassion and empathy are so important. Where the whole family has to be addressed. He thought Jeffrey was the perfect surgeon, but was not suited for the specialty he chose.

BK: I guess Jeff proved him wrong. He's been extremely successful.

Doctor: Yes, and my friend said he believes Jeffrey has developed some compassion towards these children, but that he's still myopic in his belief he's the only one with the clear view of what needs to be done. And he believes Jeffrey has a dark and volatile temperament.

BK: What's the point of all this? You have no proof and I have no choice.

Doctor: Brian, we always have choices. They may seem impossible, but they are still choices. I've made the choice to uphold my ethical code and file a complaint against Jeffrey. Even if he uses all of his power and his reputation to defeat me and to make me look foolish or vindictive, I'll always know I tried. I did the right thing. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't even try.

BK: Even if I won't verify your claims?

Doctor: Even if.

BK: He could ruin you.

Doctor: I suppose he could.

BK: Why would you take that risk?

Doctor: I take my ethical obligations very seriously. And I care what happens to you. I don't want you to be the victim of his narcissistic compulsion. Nor do I want anyone else to be. This is not a man who should be practicing medicine.

BK: Even if everything you said is true, think of all the kids Jeffrey saves from death. If he rode me into the ground, even killed me, and yet he saves fifteen kids who never had a chance otherwise, where is the ethical choice in that?

Doctor: I love the smell of burning martyrs in the morning, Brian. You're being melodramatic and are caught up in your self-image of Brian as savior. You saved Justin from the bashing, you saved your friends from their ups and downs, you saved your mother from loneliness, you saved Molly. Doesn't matter what it costs you so long as you can play the hero.

BK: That's crap.

Doctor: Yes, it is crap. But it's also true.

BK: Lydia, I don't know what to do.

Doctor: Leave him. Don't go to this party, don't pass go, don't collect your two hundred dollars, just GO. Slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. By Monday, be distant from him and promise me you won't let him near you, or the police will be called into it. By me.

BK: (Sighed.) What happened to keeping your distance? Aren't therapists supposed to stay emotionally remote from their patients? Aren't you a little too caught up in it? Protective?

Doctor: Strangely, it's not personal, Brian. I know it seems that way to you, but it's his psychosis I'm fighting, not the man. I'm stopping him before someone gets hurt. It may not be you he hurts, but it will be someone if this train isn't stopped.

BK: If you do this, I'm not coming back.

Doctor: I understand, Brian. But as I said, I have to do what I know to be right. And I only hope you will see someone, if not me. Because we've made such progress, and I don't want you to have a setback. Not for any reason. You've come too far.

BK: (Shook head, sighed.) Don't make me leave, Lydia. There's no one else I can talk to like I can talk to you. First I lose Justin, now you? You're right. I am depressed.

Doctor: Both of those losses would be your choice, Brian, not ours. Think about that. Your motives may be laudatory, but the end effect is the same. You'll have isolated yourself and bricked up your emotions.

BK: What else can I do?

Doctor: Overcome your irrational fears and tell Jeffrey you appreciate all he's done for Molly, but it's over. Make sure someone else is there with you, if not in the room, in the house. And then... leave.

BK: I don't have the balls.

Doctor: I think you do, Brian. I think they may have retreated into your abdominal cavity a bit, but they're still there and still pumping testosterone. Let them drop and do what has to be done.

BK: I'm afraid.

Doctor: Truthfully, Brian, so am I. My career may well be on the block, and I fought very hard against impossible odds for this career. I don't threaten it lightly. You think you're risking Molly's health, but you're not. You need to reach back into your rational self and come up with a solution.

BK: (Stood.) I have to go. It's been great, Lydia. You've helped me. I appreciate that. I just wish...well, I know you'll do what you need to do.

Doctor: If you tell him before I file, I think I may be in danger myself, Brian.

BK: (Looks shocked.) Really?

Doctor: Yes, eliminate a threat. It fits his profile.

BK: I would never tell him. I would never let him hurt you.

Doctor: Thank you. Hero, again. I hope you consider what I said and leave him now and we continue as we have before. But if you can't see coming back here, I'll leave the names of several colleagues on your machine. Any one of them would serve you well.

BK: You ripped me open, emotionally, and I despised you for it, but now I understand why. I may not like feeling things so deeply, but I appreciate having the chance to feel. I owe you.

Doctor: Then listen to me, Brian. I have nothing to gain by leading you wrong. If you've never listened to me before, listen to me now. You have to get away from him. Immediately. In any case, before Monday.

BK: (Nodded. Paused at door, smiled sadly.) Goodbye Lydia. Thanks.

End of transcript.

Doctor's Notes: BK is now fully informed of my plan to file a complaint against Jeffrey. I told him I would go to the police if he is still with Jeffrey on Monday, and demand protection for him. I also told him he should leave immediately. He reacted predictably. He said he would never come see me again, and that he could not leave Jeffrey. He fears "tricking fate", meaning causing a downturn in Molly's condition. I've made a strong effort to get him to understand that his magical thinking is delusional and unrealistic. I have made no progress in that area. I also hope that if he is unable to return to me for therapy, he sees someone else. He is in a desperate phase of his treatment and needs professional help to weather these emotional storms. I truly believe BK is in mortal danger, either through long term drug abuse by Jeffrey's illegal prescriptions or a more direct route when Jeffrey is informed of my complaint. I dread the idea of placing BK in danger, and will consider it over the weekend before I make my move. But, like BK, at this point in time, I see no way out.


Brian refused Jeffrey's strong offer of drugs. As miserable as he felt, he didn't want to dull or even enhance his reactions. The event spanned two nights. The first evening was dinner and dancing, with a special award for Jeffrey Walker. The second was a program of entertainment by up- and-coming artists as well as some well-known names. Many of these celebrities would also be at the dinner. Towards the end of the first evening, the program called for several of Jeffrey's friends and colleagues to give brief presentations about his humanitarian contributions to society, and then the Chairman of Winterfest would present the award and Jeffrey would give his acceptance speech. Brian was one of the speakers. Jeffrey wanted people to notice how clever, as well as how beautiful and successful, his lover was.

He wanted them to leave the event envying Jeffrey's professional success, humanitarian actions, but also his ability to pull the best men. First a well-known model, now a high flying advertising executive who LOOKED like a model. He and Brian had rehearsed what Brian would be saying, honing his remarks into a succinct, witty, affectionate homage. In the limo on the way over to the event, Jeffrey stared at Brian's classic profile.

"Are you ready for this?"

"Yes," he responded without looking at Jeffrey.

"Many of the people in that audience are CEO's of huge companies to whom you may well want to market your firm. You need to make a good impression."

"I'm a more than adequate public speaker, Jeff. Relax."

"Let's hope. If you make an idiot out of yourself, we'll both look bad."

"Why would I make an idiot out of myself?"

"I don't know, but I'd feel better if you'd let me give you something to remove that edge."

"I like my edge just fine," Brian insisted, slouching lower on the seat as he slipped back into silence.

Leo Chang and his partner, Bill, were alone at the large round table when Jeffrey and Brian joined them after cocktails. Table assignments were prearranged, and Jeffrey was at the lead table, nearest the podium. There was a cleared space for dancing and a live band was setting up.

The huge ballroom had been transformed into a winter wonderland. Small trees with bare branches were painted white and strung with white fairy lights. Gauze panels were draped from the ceiling and lit from within to give the appearance of a soft wintry light. The linens on the tables were white, edged in silver, and the floral arrangements were white and ivory. Even the candles were white, providing a soft amber glow.

Female guests traditionally dressed in white gowns, while their male companions were like formal penguins in their dark tuxes and white shirts. Brian had been to a lot of benefits and award ceremonies, but he had to admit, this one was well done.

"Where is everyone?" Jeffrey insisted to Leo as he noticed all the other tables were almost full already, while his was mostly empty. Leo shrugged.

"Can't imagine. Still drinking, I suppose."

"I left this part of it up to you, Leo, while I was preoccupied in Pittsburgh. You'd better not let me down. You had my list of who should be at my table. How hard can it be to arrange seating?" Jeffrey demanded.

"Not hard at all," Leo responded. "Relax, Jeff, they'll be here."

"They'd better be. It would be humiliating to have my table be the only one with vacancies."

Leo smiled broadly. "Yes, it would be, wouldn't it?"

Brian wondered at their exchange, anxiously awaiting the pouring of wine by the wait staff. He looked up and saw a lush blonde woman enter the room. Her clingy white gown was worn with a bolero jacket trimmed in white fox. Her fair hair was swept up in a chignon. The petite brunette accompanying her wore a white velvet two piece pants suit, cut low in the back. His eyes grew wide as they walked up to the table. Lindsay kissed his cheek and said, "Sorry we're late. Traffic was a bitch."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Brian insisted.

"Miss a party? Us? Never!" Melanie smiled and sat down across from Brian as Jeffrey coolly informed them, "Sorry, but these seats are spoken for. You'd better check the seating chart to find your table."

"No," Leo said with a droll smile. "They are part of the entourage for this table. It's fine, Jeff. You didn't want an empty table, remember?"


"Where's Gus?" Brian insisted, and Lindsay smiled.

"Holding down the fort in Pittsburgh with my parents. Isn't that great? They actually volunteered to watch him."

"If you call having their arms twisted and boiling oil held over their heads 'volunteering'," Melanie added, causing Brian to smile.

Lindsay was in the art scene, after all. That was how Brian reconciled their presence to himself. This was probably arranged through the university where she taught. Then Ted, wearing a plain tux, entered the room. He was with Emmett who glistened in a white tailcoat and trousers, his shirt sprinkled with silver stars. He drew stares as he passed. Emmett rushed over to Brian, kissing him firmly on the cheek. He then kissed Lindsay and Melanie and gave Jeffrey a little wave. Ted's greeting was more subdued and Brian stared at Emmett as they sat down on either side of the girls.

"What are you doing here?" Brian asked, and Emmett smiled broadly, smoothing his star-drenched shirt.

"Someone told me it was a dress up party where the girls all wore white and well... come on, honey...how often do I get a chance to wear this FABULOUS outfit?"

"Once is too many," Ted groused good-naturedly, then waved to Michael and Ben who just entered the room. Both were wearing traditional tuxes, and Jeffrey glared first at Brian, then at Leo.

"What the FUCK?" he insisted, and Leo's smile grew colder.

"Relax, Jeff. It's either this or empty seats. Did I forget to mention that I slightly edited your guest list?"

"Did you know about this?" He demanded of Brian, who shook his head in wonder, getting to his feet to embrace Michael in a bear hug, then give a less intense embrace to Ben.

"He knew nothing about it," Leo insisted. "It's as much a surprise for him as it is for you."

"So, Leo, is this your way of saying you never intend to sell another piece of art in this town? Because I assure you that's the effect of this stupidity," Jeffrey threatened him. Leo just shrugged.

"Confucius say, 'the gold in one's heart is far more precious than the gold in one's purse'. I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out, Jeff," Leo said with a deliberately inscrutable smile.

"What's going on?" Brian asked Ben. Ben shrugged and leaned in to whisper, "We're here for you, Brian. Your friends. We won't let you down."

Brian looked from Ben to Michael, feeling emotion squeeze his throat into a tight stricture as Michael smiled and reached up to kiss him. "Did you think we wouldn't care?"

"Nothing you can do," Brian said hoarsely, and Ben just smiled.

"Let's see, shall we?" He escorted Michael to a seat. There were only four empty chairs at the table now, and two of them were about to be filled by the two women who entered together. Debbie was resplendent in white lace, embroidered with rhinestones and seed pearls, an amazing combination of lace curtains meets the bride of Frankenstein. Keeping the winter theme in mind, her hair was decorated with silver tinsel, woven among her crimson curls. Brian felt certain radio signals throughout Manhattan were being scrambled by that mass of metal. In contrast, Joan Kinney wore simple white crepe and the diamond stud earrings Brian had once given her for Christmas.

He stood for them, accepting Debbie's strong embrace with an "oof" of expelled air, and then his mother kissed his cheek and told him he looked very handsome.

"Vic wanted to come, but he got a cold and didn't want to infect everyone," Debbie explained, taking her seat. Brian looked wistfully from the door to the two empty chairs, but Justin was nowhere to be seen. His absence spoke volumes to Brian. Dinner was served in courses, and the talk around the lead table was loud and animated. Brian participated only marginally, still in shock. Jeffrey was as silent as a tomb. Leo and Bill were having a great time with the guests from Pittsburgh, while Jeffrey plotted his revenge.

By dessert, Brian was more in tune with the party atmosphere, his disappointment over Justin's absence mitigated by the comfort of being around his closest allies. He was even laughing, until the band started playing and people began to dance. As soon as tango music began, Jeffrey stood and motioned to Brian to stand up. He shook his head, but Jeffrey's gaze was unyielding.

"Let's dance," he insisted. He wanted to rivet the attention of the audience with a sensual dance with his beautiful lover. That ought to divert the gossip from the embarrassing rubes who populated his table. Brian reluctantly stood and allowed himself to be led to the dance floor. He automatically went into the moves as Jeffrey led him through a tango. Just as Jeffrey predicted, heads turned to watch the two tall, elegant young men glide together in perfect harmony. Brian began to lose himself in the beauty of the dance. He had fond memories of when Jeffrey taught him the basics, and wasn't this the same man?

He had to make the best of it; what other choice did he have? He closed his eyes, forgetting that his mother and his friends were watching, and surrendered to the rhythm. He forced himself to remember the good times they had, the cabin in the middle of nowhere, the museum, the clandestine meetings. But even those happier memories were contaminated by the guilt he felt over Justin, and the strong pull in his heart towards the man he loved.

But Molly...little Molly. She would be dead now if not for Jeffrey. How could he ever repay that kind of debt? And Justin had obviously decided to write Brian off or he would have come with the rest of them. If Justin was moving on with his life, why should Brian even consider tempting fate?

As Brian examined his options while dancing with Jeffrey, Ben made his way over to the band. As part of his war plan, he had investigated who was playing at the event, and then looked into the members of the band. He communicated with the leader by phone and by Internet, so the man was prepared for him when Ben approached. Ben had represented the song as a particular favorite of Jeffrey's, the guest of honor. Since Ben had sung with choral groups most of his life, he was more than prepared to take over the lyrics.

Michael and the others watched Ben with great anticipation as he picked up a handheld microphone. When the song changed, so did the lights. The spots became a soft blue, emphasizing the wintry atmosphere. Ben's voice was clear and deep as he sang,

"You can dance every dance with the guy who gave you the eye, let him hold you tight..."

Brian bolted into alertness. Jeffrey stopped, trying to adjust to the new beat, but Brian wasn't moving at all. His tension was evident.

"You can smile every smile for the man who held your hand beneath the pale moonlight..."

Brian was shocked by Ben's cruelty for choosing that number. How could he do this to him when Brian felt so vulnerable? How could he force him back into a memory that was so incredibly painful to bear? Remind him of everything he had lost in front of a crowd of people?

"But don't forget who's taking you home and in whose arms you're gonna be..."

Jeffrey looked at Brian, and then they both turned as someone intervened. The intruder tapped Jeffrey's shoulder. The crowd was entranced by the young blond man in the tux who had quietly entered from the back and made his way up to the star couple on the dance floor. Jeffrey glared at Justin with heated fury, but he knew he couldn't make a scene in front of everyone, so he forced a smile and stepped aside. Justin locked his gaze with Brian's. Brian couldn't move, couldn't speak, watching Justin remove a pristine white silk fringed scarf from over his lapels and drape it behind Brian's neck. He spoke these words as Ben sang them,

"So darlin', save the last dance for me."

Brian stared at him as he automatically moved into a dance stance, and began to sway with his lover. "Do you remember...?" Brian asked in a whisper, and Justin beamed as he responded,

"All of it. Every minute of it."

"But... since when?"

"Does it matter?"

Brian smiled broadly and began to recreate that moment, this time with Justin's complete involvement, as Ben sang, "Oh I know that the music's fine like sparkling wine, go and have your fun..."

The audience was as hypnotized as the kids at the prom had once been, drawn by the genuine heat and irresistible grace shared by Brian and Justin. Brian led Justin into a spin and focused only on his lover. The others on the dance floor stopped to watch, giving them room to operate.

"But while we're apart don't give your heart to anyone. And don't forget who's taking you home and in whose arms you're gonna be..."

He lifted Justin slowly, off the ground, Justin's hands on his shoulders, their eyes on each other, their smiles intended for no one else.

"So darlin', save the last dance for me!"

Ben moved into the bridge of the song. "Baby, don't you know I love you so? Can't you feel it when we touch?" Justin whispered in Brian's ear, the line Ben sang, "I will never, never let you go..."

Brian responded with the lyric, "I love you oh so much!"

They kissed, a long, passionate, impossible-to-mistake caress that brought all but one person at the lead table to their feet with a rousing round of cheers and applause. The noise didn't penetrate the spell cast between the lovers as they held the kiss through the last chorus of the song, barely moving to the beat.

When the song ended, the whole audience applauded. Being an artistic crowd, either they were homosexual or they supported the arts that were heavily populated by homosexuals. No one was so uncool as to be judgmental based on the shared gender of the lovers. Brian and Justin were strangely unaware of the applause, still enraptured with each other. They held hands as they walked off the floor.

"Ridiculously romantic," Brian said, and Justin beamed at him.

"The best night of my life."

Only when they reached the table, did Brian allow anyone else into his world. He congratulated Ben as Michael kissed his lover on the cheek and hugged Brian, and then Justin. "Ben E. King has nothing on you, man," Brian teased Ben, who laughed.

"Believe me, I know the only thing we share is a first name. He has a beautiful voice."

Brian glanced at his mother, unsure of what her reaction would be to her son's public declaration of his love as well as his sexual orientation. But Joan Kinney had been the victim of an imperfect romance. She embraced the fantasy of the romantic illusion, and was pleased to see it was personified in her son's relationship, even if his love match was another man.

It was then that he turned and saw the look Jeffrey was leveling at him. Poisonous, silent, deathly still. It gave him a chill. He reflexively placed Justin slightly behind him as if to protect him from harm. The master of ceremonies was at the podium, beginning the process of anointing Jeffrey as the great humanitarian that he was. Brian sat in the empty chair next to Justin rather than by Jeffrey, their hands clasped on Brian's thigh as Jeffrey stared pointedly at the podium, a fixed mannequin-like smile frozen on his handsome features.

Brian felt as if he might explode from the stress. He had the incontrovertible joy of reliving a key moment in his life with Justin, their love rekindled even when it already burned bright. And yet, he had the cold disdain of Jeffrey, unsure what he would do to exact his revenge, coupled with the danger of tweaking his nose at fate. He didn't know what to do, not even hearing the praise others were heaping on Jeffrey as they came and went at the podium. And then he heard his own name being spoken by the emcee.

"Brian Kinney is a partner in the Madison Avenue advertising firm of BGGD&L. He has won numerous CLIO awards for his advertising campaigns and is a relative newcomer to Manhattan. Already, he's become an avid supporter of the arts. He is Jeffrey's partner, and he would like to say a few words about his close friend. Brian?"

Jeffrey glared at him across the table. Justin squeezed his hand. His mother smiled tensely. "Fuck him," Debbie mouthed the words, and Michael looked like a suddenly sick puppy. Lindsay shook her head as if to say don't do it, while Mel smiled, secretly pleased to see Brian facing an ethical and moral dilemma. Ben leaned across the table and closed his hand over Brian's as he said, "With deference to Leo, I'd like to quote one of my favorite Confucian wisdoms: 'By keeping silent when we ought to speak, much may be lost. By speaking when we ought to keep silent, we are wasting words. The wise man is careful to do neither.'"

Brian met his eyes and smiled slightly. He stood, noticing the nervous twitter that spread through the audience. After all, they had just witnessed his dance with Justin. No one could doubt the depth of their affection. And yet he had been introduced as Jeffrey's "partner"? They were confused and slightly amused by the subterfuge. Jeffrey grabbed his arm as he walked by. He kept his expression serene as he stood and whispered, "You fuck this up, you embarrass me, I swear to God everyone you know will live to regret it."

Brian flared at that threat, then forced a smile. He walked up to the podium, taking his notes from the pocket of his jacket. He stared out at the glittering crowd, deliberately avoiding the table of his friends as he began. "Jeffrey Walker is a brilliant doctor and a true humani... uh, humanitar...humanitarian," he cleared his throat. "Sorry. When I met Jeffrey, I was struck by how close he was to his daughter, Hannah," he paused again, shook his head. He coughed. A woman walked up and handed him a glass of water. He took it gratefully, then his eyes widened as he saw that the woman was Jennifer Taylor. He hadn't seen her looking so glamorous in so long, he hardly recognized her. She wore a heavily beaded white gown that conformed to her slim shape and her blonde hair was freshly coiffed. He stepped down, away from the microphone and asked,

"Who's with Molly?"

"Her Daddy. And Vic. He's not sick. The truth is, he's helping Craig babysit. She's just fine without me, Brian. I would really like to say a few things about Jeffrey, if you'd let me."

He nodded, stepping aside and standing behind her as she lowered the microphone to her height. Brian noticed that Jeffrey looked thrilled to see this lovely woman standing there, ready to tell her heart-felt story about how he saved her daughter's life, especially after Brian's bumbling start.

"My name is Jennifer Taylor," she said in a strong, calm voice. "That was my son, Justin, we all saw dancing with Brian earlier. I watched them from the back and I thought how lucky I am to see my son so healthy, so vigorous, so bravely in love. Because I almost lost him a year ago to a vicious gay bashing that Brian Kinney rescued him from, thus saving his life. Thank you, Brian, from the bottom of my heart."

He shook his head, wincing, as the audience applauded, spurred on by Justin's enthusiastic two fingered whistle.

"If there were ever two men who should be together, it's my son and Brian. They've been through hell and back, but I think we've all seen the true definition of love in the form of a simple dance earlier tonight."

Another round of applause. Jeffrey's wide smile began to fade. Jennifer continued, as Brian stared at her in wonder.

"But we aren't here to celebrate my son's recovery or the love two people share. We're here to talk about the miracles a man can work to save a child from what appears to be a certainty of doom. My daughter Molly was diagnosed with acute leukemia recently. Molly was a normal ten year old dynamo until that time. She had long strawberry blonde hair, freckles on her nose and a fascination for fairy tales and horses. Her cancer hit my family like a tsunami. We were all too shocked to be thinking clearly about her treatment. Nothing seemed to be working. She was sinking, fast, despite all the wonders of modern medicine." Jennifer paused, looked over at Jeffrey's table and smiled.

"Our good friends, many of whom are here tonight, shored us up, but it was one man who made the difference. One man questioned her treatment protocol. One man saw past the disease to the child, and nurtured her soul and gave her hope and even joy, when she was at her lowest ebb. One man sacrificed his home in New York, his work, his time, his love, to put Molly's recovery over everything else. Especially over his own needs and happiness."

Jeffrey preened as several people turned to acknowledge him. Brian tried to leave the podium, but Jennifer stopped him by placing a hand on his arm. "Please stay," she said off-mike, and he sighed and nodded.

"My son went through the pain of donating his marrow to give his sister a chance at life. For that, he will always have a special place in her heart and in mine. Not to mention a place of honor in her bones," there was laughter at that remark, and Justin blushed as Debbie leaned over to kiss his cheek. Jennifer continued.

"But for anyone who has ever battled leukemia or any other cancer where a bone marrow transplant was indicated, you know the big struggle is after the procedure. Molly has struggled mightily. More than once, we feared we would lose her. But he was always there, and he never gave up on her. He saw to it that she had the very best that modern medicine had to offer, no matter what he had to do to get it for her. He was tireless. He was tyrannical with the staff when he believed she was not being treated appropriately. He was questioning results when the rest of us were too tired to think clearly. And he not only took care of Molly. He took care of me. He took care of her brother. He took care of everyone but himself."

Brian looked up, a slow ray of knowledge breaking through his confusion. Jennifer went on. "I'm pleased to say that Molly is better. She still has a long way to go, but we are hopeful that the worst is behind her now." She acknowledged their applause with a smile. "When I told her I was coming here tonight, to tell everyone how much we appreciate the dedication and devotion of this man, she asked that I give him a little gift from her." Jennifer opened her beaded bag and withdrew a plastic figure of the Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. She held it up and said, "As you can see, this guy has a very convincing camouflage. He looks gruff and forbidding, as if he either has no heart or his heart is impenetrable. But voila," she pulled off the costume that slipped over the beast's head and shoulders. Underneath was the handsome image of a prince. "It's all one big hairy act. Underneath it all, he's a prince of a guy. He's Molly's prince, he's my prince, and most of all, he's Justin's prince. Brian, for everything you've done for my family, my children, my daughter, this prince is for you."

She handed him the doll, and he took it from her, then hugged her tightly as the audience overcame their surprise and found themselves applauding a man they didn't know, who was given an homage they didn't expect, but that he seemed to greatly deserve. Jennifer smiled, as she turned back to the podium. "I promise I'm almost through. I know we're here to honor Jeffrey Walker. He was one of the doctors who treated Molly. I have one thing to say about that fact. Jeffrey, you're fired. If you come near my daughter or try to influence her treatment in any way, I'll have you arrested."

Nervous laughter and then a pall of silence fell across the room as it became obvious that she was serious. Jennifer cut her glare from Jeffrey's furious face to the crowd. "Thank you for your patience. Good night." She left the podium as Brian stepped up to the microphone, his composure regained. He looked at the doll and smiled. By firing Jeffrey, Jennifer took the sting out of Brian's fear of a tricked fate. Fate would follow its own course now, because it was beyond his control. If she had no intention of letting Jeffrey near Molly, then Brian had no reason to continue with this false friendship.

"Just my luck," he said into the microphone. "My one award and it's fully clothed," the laughter was a release of tension, and Brian smiled in Jeffrey's direction. "I can't fire you, Jeffrey, because I didn't hire you. I want to thank you, though. Thank you for the positive work you did with Molly. I believe you made a difference in her recovery. I believe you're a very talented doctor. I believe that makes it all the more tragic that you're also a psychotic sack of shit. You used drugs and extortion to get me to sleep with you and stay with you, threatening to stop treating Molly if I refused to cooperate. You knew I was in love with another person, but you would stop at nothing until you had me. And you used the tenuous life of a little girl as your bait. Killing's too good for you, Jeffrey. Too quick. I want you to suffer the humiliation of ostracism, socially and professionally. I want you to know the pain of a 'political death' as the ancient Greeks called it. And I want your money, so I can start a fund, to be named after Molly to help kids with cancer who don't have the means for the best treatments. You won't need it anyway, because the way I hear it, you're going to be in jail for awhile. See how well your mind games work in Oz," he walked over and picked up the crystal award that was to be given to Jeffrey and placed it on the podium.

"Don't forget this when you leave, Jeff. I want you to look at it everyday and remember: 'This was the night my life as I knew it came to an end'."

Jeffrey stood, slightly unsteady and felt the cold, inquisitive gazes of all the other guests. He forced a mask of calm, even smiled. He considered going up to the podium and rebutting these character assassinations. He had never felt such fury, but beneath the anger was an emotion that made him feel much worse, much more desperate. Beneath the anger was a dreadful slimy coating of humiliation. He felt ill, he felt like killing someone, he felt like hiding in a cave. People were smirking at him, whispering behind raised hands. He didn't deserve this treatment! He was a doctor for chrissakes! And a brilliant one! Who were these trashy people from Pittsburgh to ruin his event? To embarrass him in front of his friends? How dare them!

Jeffrey decided the people in this room didn't deserve his rebuttal. If they chose to listen to trash rather than depend on what they knew about him personally, then fuck them! No one tried to stop the bitch or even Brian. No one spoke up for him. These people didn't rate his presence and support. Let them come crawling to him for his forgiveness. He turned on his heel and left the ballroom at a brisk pace. A murmur spread through the crowd, and Brian silenced them by saying, "That concludes the award portion of our program," he turned to the band. "Maestro, put on your red shoes and dance the blues."

Brian left to a round of applause, returning to the table as the music began. The others engulfed him. He cut through them and sought out Jennifer, whom he kissed on the cheek. "Thank you."

She stood and wrapped her arms around him. "Thank you, Brian, and I'm sorry for being so blind."

"You saw what was important. Did you guys plan all this?" He looked from her to Michael to Ben as Justin hugged Brian tightly.

"We all played different parts," Michael responded. "Ben was the brains behind the plan, of course. Lindsay used her art contacts to get us tickets and of course Justin was the link to Leo. Leo got us the table assignment and the low down on how the program would line up. Mel researched the legalities before talking to Jennifer. Didn't want the evil doctor to sue us for libel, or is it slander? I found that extremely collectible doll that Molly wanted to give you, through my contacts in the biz," he beamed at Brian. "Emmett got us the tuxes through his rag trade contacts, and Ted found a deal on the airline tickets and negotiated them down. Mom kept everyone fed and from squealing to you. And she made her own dress, of course."

"I told them I'd make them work one of my shifts at the diner if they squealed," Debbie boasted to Brian, who laughed.

"And your mom, Joan, helped Jennifer understand what had been happening with you and with Walker. She also spoke to Lydia about how worried we all were."

Brian went over to hug his mother and she smiled and patted his cheek gently. He then glanced at Michael. "Where's Dorothy and her little dog Toto, too?"

"She must have left when the wicked witch made his exit," Justin quipped.

"That's DOCTOR wicked witch to you," Brian teased.

"Not for long," Debbie insisted and they all laughed.

"Look at us, we're all beautiful, we have limos, let's get the hell out of here and go to a real club!" Emmett pleaded and Brian sighed.

"Let me think of a club where the Pittsburgh Queens and my mother could feel equally comfortable. Nope, nothing springs to mind," Brian mused.

They all decided to go eat instead, the official dinner largely unfinished due to the tension. Brian found it easy to recommend some good restaurant choices. They settled on one. As they left the ballroom, they began to split up and pour into limos. Brian stopped Justin from getting inside the car. Justin looked confused, then Brian leaned in the open doorway and said, "Justin and I are going to go home and boil an egg. You guys have fun. We can meet for brunch before you fly back tomorrow."

No one protested, because no one was surprised. Brian watched the limos pull away, then waved down a cab and gave the driver the address of his loft. In the back seat, he pulled Justin close and kissed him deeply.

"Boil an egg?" Justin teased and he shrugged.

"It seemed an easy thing to cook."

Justin leaned his shoulder against Brian's in a casually affectionate gesture that spoke volumes. "What if I don't want an egg?"

"Then I guess you'll have to settle for some ass licking, cock sucking, butt fucking, pelvis grinding, jism soaking, tongue slurping, tit tweaking, nose bleeding, heart stopping makeup sex."

Justin bit into his inner jaw to keep from laughing as midtown Manhattan merged into the Village and finally Soho. "I can get into that," Justin mused. Brian paid the cab and once they were on the sidewalk in front of the loft, Brian pulled Justin into his arms, moving him to a rhythm in his mind as he softly sang, "Baby, don't you know I love you so? Can't you feel it when we touch?"

Justin smiled and moved with him, responding, "I will never, never let you go. I love you oh so much."

"Hey, guys, save the last dance for me!" A man called out as he walked past them and Brian beamed at him, watching Justin punch in the code to the door.

"Sorry," he said to the stranger. "Our dance cards are full."

With that, they disappeared into the building together, and the door closed on the rest of the world, locking with a satisfying click.

DECONSTRUCTING BRIAN, Session 20 (Epilogue)

Doctor's Notes: BK showed up on time for his regularly scheduled session, dressed casually in jeans and a rugby shirt. He looked rested, healthy, tall cups of chai in each hand, one for each of us.

Excerpt from transcript:

Doctor: (Accepted tea from him.) Not working?

BK: Nope. We're leaving tonight.

Doctor: Leaving? Who is we?

BK: Justin and I.

Doctor: Where are you going?

BK: Florence, Rome, Venice, Amalfi Coast, Portofino. The whole Italian thing.

Doctor: Wonderful! For how long?

BK: Three weeks. If we don't kill each other after that much togetherness, I guess we can make it as a couple.

Doctor: My money's on the two of you. Of course, it sounds as if you might want to take along your old pal, the shrink. What do you say? Portofino should be a nice break from this wintry weather.

BK: (Laughed.) If I have my way, the most we'll see of any of these places is when we come up for air once a day. I plan to spend the bulk of the time between the sheets.

Doctor: And by that, I hope you mean sleeping as well as the obvious. You need to sleep off a serious deficit.

BK: Yeah, sure, Lydia. I'm sure we'll sleep...occasionally.

Doctor: I hope you two have a wonderful holiday. On a less bright note, I understand you filed a criminal complaint against Jeffrey yesterday.

BK: Yep, the process servers should've been at his door all day, between your ethical complaint and my criminal charge. And I have a lawyer working on a civil suit. I intend to file when we get back from Italy. I want his goddamn money. I want to set up a fund for sick kids with his cash.

Doctor: I hope he's seeing a shrink. He'll need help to get through this humiliation.

BK: Don't feel sorry for him, Lydia. He's a monster.

Doctor: It's not about sympathy. It's about psychosis. He needs serious professional help. As you know, its very difficult for people with narcissistic qualities to seek assistance. Especially doctors.

BK: Yeah, well, Hannibal Lecter was a doctor, too.

Doctor: Your resentment is natural after all you've been through, Brian. But it's far more harmful to you than it is to him, so we need to help you get past it.

BK: I'll leave it behind somewhere over the ocean on my way to Italy. I don't intend to have Jeffrey in a gondola with us in Venice.

Doctor: Your reservations about Justin's sincerity...gone?

BK: He couldn't have proved his love any more vividly if he walked burning coals and drank acid.

Doctor: That sounds convincing. Good. He had a complete recovery of his memory of the prom?

BK: (Leaned back, smiled. Crossed legs and rested folded hands over his knee.) No way.

Doctor: But on the phone...

BK: He was standing there. I had to say it. He wants me to believe him, so I do. But between you and me and the apple tree, he isn't being honest. I think he remembers a little more, flashes, but not the whole thing. Maybe he never will. But I don't care anymore.

Doctor: First, why do you suppose he's telling you he remembers if he doesn't?

BK: To please me. He knows how much it means to me.

Doctor: I see. But it's not so important to you now?

BK: (Shrugged.) Nope.

Doctor: Why not?

BK: It was not about the dance, Lydia, it never was. It was about love. It was to show him how much I loved him, even then. It was to prove an emotion.

Doctor: Then why is it less urgent now than it was awhile ago, Brian?

BK: Because we found a different way to prove that proposition. There is no way Justin can doubt my love for him now, nor can I doubt his.

Doctor: I see.

BK: (Grinning.) Besides, we have a new dance to remember. Same old song, but different audience and very different resolution, thank God.

Doctor: Don't attach too much to a dance, Brian. It's just a symbol. But never forget the emotions you are feeling right now. They'll get you through a lot of adversity.

BK: I won't. Burn me once...you know the rest. I'll be back in after we return. I know I still have big issues to work through with you, Lydia.

Doctor: Good, and yes, you do.

BK: Should I still take the anti-depressants?

Doctor: Absolutely. Brian, how are you feeling about leaving the country while Molly's in the hospital?

BK: We discussed it with her medical team. They're moving her out of isolation at the end of the week, and if she continues to improve, she can go home in two weeks. Once she goes home, she still has to avoid crowds and take it easy. After six months, presuming she's stayed healthy, she can resume most of her normal activities. We can't continue to hover over her.

Doctor: That's great news, and a logical response.

BK: Don't get me wrong. I intend to see her often. We're flying to Pittsburgh when we get back to spend a couple days with her. (Paused.) She's my family now.

Doctor: And your mom?

BK: (Laughed.) Yeah, she's family too. Seriously, I think she and Jennifer have formed a strong friendship. It's made a big difference in how she views Justin and me.

Doctor: Excellent. While you're gone, if you get anxious, or feel yourself slipping into a funk, call me, Brian. I ask that you be sensitive of the time difference, but do call.

BK: I'll remember that. I need to go, Lydia. I have to pick up Justin at the passport office. He did an emergency walk through to get his passport in a timely manner. But first, I have something for you.

Doctor: You pay me for my time, Brian. No gifts, please.

BK: You won't worry about this one, believe me. (Handed me a small card. It's a frequent buyer card from Starbucks. All of the boxes are stamped except one. When it's stamped, the bearer gets a free coffee or tea.)

Doctor: You can use this when you get back.

BK: I want you to have it. I want to think of you drinking chai while I'm gone. You can't help but think of me, and that will be nice. I'll sit at a sidewalk café in Florence, sipping espresso, and you'll be here with your chai. I won't feel quite so disconnected.

Doctor: Brian, you're a dangerous romantic commodity. You could cause a table to fall in love with you.

BK: (Leaned forward, squeezed my hand briefly.) If I were a few years older, and straight, I'd show you dangerous. And to hell with all those ethical things about doctors and patients.

Doctor: (Laughed.) And if I were an elephant, I could lift a telephone pole with my nose. Go. Have a wonderful time and call me when you get back.

BK: (Stood, paused at the door.) Lydia?

Doctor: Yes, Brian?

BK: Thanks.

Doctor: You're very welcome.

BK: (Winked slyly, smiled, left.)

End of transcript excerpt.

Doctor's Notes: BK is on his way. On his way to Italy, on his way to self-awareness, on his way to true love. He still has issues, resentments, fears to work through, but the crisis is past, and he survived, stronger than before. He made rational judgments when forced to do so, and has had important support from people about whom he had ambivalent feelings. This proof of love is very important to a man with BK's insecurities, and was wisely planned and delivered. There will be tension as he and JT put their relationship together, but I am hopeful that it will go well for them both. I expect to hear from him upon his return, and not before. His vacation plans don't include therapy sessions.

Lydia cut off her recorder. She placed the tape in her desk and locked the drawer. Later it would be transcribed and filed with the rest of Brian's sessions. She stretched and went over to the window, staring out at the late afternoon traffic. She glanced across the street to where a man was standing in the shadows. He was staring at her building, at her window. Or was he? She felt as if he was. She tried to place the face, then inhaled sharply as she realized the man was Jeffrey Walker. Dressed in jeans and an oversized parka, he hardly looked the elegant socialite, but then, that image had been attacked soundly on multiple fronts in the last twenty-four hours.

A truck passed between the man on the street and her line of vision. When she looked back, the man was gone. Lydia looked up and down the street, but saw no sign of him. She sighed. She was probably wrong about his identity anyway. Walker had been on her mind so much for the last week or so. She was probably projecting her anxiety. Or was she?

Brian had been her last patient, and she picked up her purse and pulled on her coat, pausing to give her assistant a few last minute instructions before taking the elevator down to the garage. When the doors opened, she hesitated, remembering the man on the street. Steeling herself, she looked around. Seeing no one, she walked briskly to her car. She was embarrassed by her own uneasiness.

Safely ensconced in her locked Mercedes, she pulled out and started towards the exit. As she entered the traffic on the street, the increased lighting illuminated the glint of a CD jewel case on her passenger seat. She didn't recognize it, noting it was a homemade recording or re-recording. Lydia immediately thought of her teenaged daughter, who frequently burned her own CD's.

She slid it into the sound system, listening to Ben E. King sing, "You can dance every dance with the guy who gives you the eye beneath the pale moonlight..." Lydia knew this was not a CD burned by her daughter. It wasn't vulgar and discordant, the two hallmarks of the music she seemed to favor.

She listened to the soothing music as she drove, concerned about where it came from and why, but finding the song selection soothing and melodic. The lyrics were nice, unthreatening...but something nagged her about it. How did it get in her locked car, anyway? She never failed to lock her car in the garage. Who would break in and leave a CD of nice music? Why? When he sang "save the last dance for me", Lydia thought of Brian and his fixation with his dance with Justin. Did he ever tell her what song was playing when they danced? If it was this song, could Brian leave it for her? She thought not. That was a creepy thing to do, and he was very positive and upfront with Lydia.

She thought of the man on the street, the man who looked like Jeffrey. Suddenly, the words "last dance" seemed far from romantic. Suddenly, Lydia felt very afraid. Not just for herself, but for Brian and Justin. She glanced at her watch, hoping they were boarding a plane by now, leaving the country. They deserved a little happiness, she thought with a hint of anger. And Jeffrey, well, Jeffrey deserved what was coming to him and she was determined to see that he got it. She refused to be deterred by his evil little games.

"You've met your match, doc," she said aloud, turning up the volume of the CD and wailing along with Ben E. King, reclaiming the song for the love ballad it was meant to be.

The End

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