Thanks to my two betas, Darren and Alan. Interesting, when they both beta, they each pick up different errors! I guess I write badly enought to keep an army of betas busy! LOL!!! Here it is. Enjoy. R.
Michael and Brian sat on one side of a booth in the diner, the boy on the other side. They both wanted to watch him as they talked, but they also wanted to avoid what was his overly ripe scent from too many days in the same clothes, with too little access to warm water. He ate a huge breakfast without stopping for air, and then asked for a donut and coffee. Brian smiled skeptically.
"You think you may explode if you keep shoveling it in like that?"
Mick looked up and shrugged. "It's my metabolism. I can eat an elephant and never gain an ounce."
"Give it a few years," Brian smirked. "I used to be like that too."
"You're still thin."
"I have to work at it."
"So which one of you guys snagged my mom back in the day?" Mick insisted bluntly.
"I think you should ask your mom that question," Brian responded, ignoring Michael's intense glare. He realized how "out of it" he was when he wondered if snag was the new slang for shag. He felt even older when he thought Justin would know the answer to that question.
"I did. She told me it didn't matter who donated the sperm that ended up in my conception. She said what matters is what I do with the life I was given."
"Sounds like good advice to me. Why are you so sure it was one of us? Lots of men in the world," Brian reminded him.
"My Mom is not a slag," he said defensively and Brian sighed.
"No one is saying she is."
"She obviously got snagged when she was very young. Still in school. Still living in Pittsburgh. That narrows down the list, wouldn't you say?"
"That still doesn't mean it's Brian. There were lots of boys in our class, and most of them noticed your mother. She was very pretty," Michael defended his friend.
"Yeah? Maybe you noticed her. Your name is Michael. My name is Michael. Coincidence?"
"I don't know," Michael quipped. "Let's go ask some of the millions of 'Michaels' in the world to see what they think."
"Let's take a step back from your problematical parentage, Mick," Brian pleaded for order. "Does your mother know you're here?"
The boy shifted his weight uncomfortably, and met his gaze with a look that was shockingly familiar. Unwavering, mock invinciblity. "No."
"Don't you think she"ll be worried?"
"I can take care of myself."
"By living under cardboard in an alley and eating out of dumpsters? It's still warm here, Mick. How much insulation do you think you'll get from cardboard when the temp is around fifteen above. How about ten below? You'll be one of those icicles they bring into the morgue after every hard freeze. That is, if you're lucky and some crazed perv doesn't cut you up first."
The boy looked scared. "Why do you say that?"
"They discovered a body in the dumpster behind this place," Michael explained. "Never found the guy who did it. And that wasn't so long ago."
The boy wrinkled his nose. "Who are you guys? The hosts of 'Scared Straight'?"
Brian laughed. "No, we failed that audition."
Michael leaned an elbow into him. "Shut UP. I'm serious."
"You have to let your mother know where you are. If you don't, I will," Brian challenged him.
"You don't know how to get in touch with her," Mick returned the challenge, and Brian shrugged.
The boy looked worried. He obviously thought Brian was up to the task. Michael shifted the subject again. "The fact that Brian and I are in some old photo with your mother means zip. So we knew her in school. So what?"
"It meant something to her. She always had that picture in a frame in her bedroom. I took it when I left. I wanted to use it to identify you guys. Since neither of you ever left your home town, you weren't that hard to find. I always knew one of you was my old man."
"Did she tell you that?" Brian asked and the boy shook his head.
"No, but it makes sense."
"Not if you knew the whole story," Michael assured him. "I'm gay. And so is Brian."
Brian glared at Michael, not appreciating this preemptive outing. He then focused on the boy, who looked suspicious. "You mean you two are a couple?"
"A couple of WHAT?" Brian said with a laugh. "Faggots? Yeah, we're a couple of faggots. Lovers? No. Friends. See how that can happen? Friends without sex."
Michael forced himself not to react to a subject of longstanding angst with him. "So you see, you read way too much into that picture."
The boy was quiet, contemplative, then reached across the table and rested a fingertip on Brian's nose. "What about this?"
Brian leaned back, out of reach. "What about it?"
The boy touched his own nose. "Look familiar? High bridge, thin, little cleft at the tip? This is no black man's nose, man." He rubbed his forearm. "And this almost white skin is no black man's genetics. And this hair...the color of it, the fact it's wavy, not nappy, where did that come from?"
"For one thing, your grandfather is white," Brian said coolly. He remembered Dee's parents well. Her father was from a rich family who lived on the Philadelphia main line. He taught literature at Carnegie and wrote books. Her mother was a beautiful African American woman who sang with the Pittsburgh Symphony and also taught at Carnegie, her specialties voice and opera. They were a glamorous couple, both attractive and sophisticated. They lived in a townhouse in the city with a view of a park, and Brian had always envied the gentility of Dee's life.
"My grandfather didn't give me this nose. You did. You don't even look or act like a fag! How do I know you aren't just telling me that to shut me the fuck up?"
Brian leaned his elbows on the table, and stretched towards the boy. "Come a little closer and I'll show you."
Mick flattened himself against his seatback, his expression horrified. "I am NOT a fudgepacker!"
"Well, I am," Brian said with a smirk, leaning back again.
"You are what?" Justin joined them, glazing the shabby young boy with a glance and then kissing Brian sweetly on the lips.
"A faggot," Brain responded, patting Justin's butt gently, for emphasis.
"Duh," Justin responded, sliding in beside the boy. He winced and waved his hand in front of his face. "Dude! Bath?"
The boy looked embarrassed and Brian glared at his lover. "Mick has been living rough, Justin. Mick, this is Justin, my partner. Justin, this is Mick, my foundling."
Justin laughed and ordered from a harried waiter. Mick took the chance to order yet another donut. "What's a foundling?"
"You have a teenybopper for a partner?" Mick said with a scowl, and Brian shrugged.
"What can I say? He's older than he looks."
Justin grinned. "Not MUCH older, but whatever. So, what's a foundling?"
"Mick thinks he may be my long lost son."
Justin looked carefully at the boy's face, and the boy met his gaze with a silent glare. "Well, he does have your nose."
Brian rolled his eyes. "What is so unique about my fucking nose?"
"It's pretty, baby," Justin teased, leaning over the table to kiss it. Brian laughed and thumped him on the forehead with his thumb and index finger.
"Sit down and shut up, you twat. Don't encourage his fantasies."
"What's wrong with you?" Mick confronted Brian. "You embarrassed to have a son who's not all white?"
Brian laughed. "I have one who's white chocolate. A little milk chocolate might be a nice bookend. I don't play the race game, Mick, so don't even go there."
"You have a son?" The boy was amazed by that news and Brian nodded. "Then it's bullshit about your being gay."
"No, don't be so narrow, Mick. He was born via artificial insemination. I jerked off into a cup. Far as I know, the cup had no gender."
"That's none of your business, is it?"
"Maybe it is if I have a brother somewhere."
"Half brother, even if your suspicions are right. And he's a baby, he wouldn't be much use to you."
"So, is Mick's mother one of the girls you had sex with, Brian? One of the other four, besides Linds?" Justin asked innocently as he cut into a stack of hot pancakes. Brian winced.
"Four other women?" Michael stared at his friend's impassive profile. "You've had four other women besides Linds?"
Brian held up his hands in surrender. "I was a fucking machine, Michael. I could get hard for a slice of bologna. So I tested the waters a little, so what? Most gay men do at some point in their lives. Not all of us are purists, like you. Hell, even Justin's banged a broad."
Justin wiggled his eyebrows at Michael's horrified expression, while Mick looked from one man to the other. "So being queer doesn't mean you couldn't have fathered a kid," he concluded. Brian sighed, and then cast a withering glance at Justin, who winced apologetically.
"Not absolutely, no."
"Who are these women and why did you never tell me?" Michael was fixated on that part of the discussion and Brian turned to him.
"Was I supposed to call in and report where my dick has been? This would be your business because...?"
"Because I'm your friend. Because it's fucking WEIRD. Because I want to know who they are."
"Well, you're not going to know who they are, Mikey. It was a long time ago, and it doesn't matter. I was a kid, still trying to figure it all out. Women have always made it easy for me. It was before I knew how to sense the approach of a seduction and head it off. You just get in stupid situations sometimes, especially when you're a kid."
"Is that what my Mom meant to you? A stupid situation?" Mick looked upset as he tried to get past Justin and out of the booth, but Brian stopped him and slammed him back down with a firm hand.
"Your Mom was my friend. Sit down. You want a story? Here," he fished his mobile phone out of his pocket and handed it to him. "Call her and tell her you're ok. Where you are. I'm not telling you a god damned thing until then. After you talk to her, hand me the phone and don't hang it up."
Mick reluctantly dialed a number. They all listened intently to his side of the conversation. "Hi, Mom. Yeah, it's me. I'm fine. Mom, don't cry," Michael and Brian exchanged a look. "I'm in Pittsburgh. Because I want to find my dad. I know what you said, Mom, but I'm sick of hearing that crap. Yes, I took it. Because I wanted to use it to identify those two guys. Because I believe one of them is my dad. I know, I know, but I don't believe you. I rode the bus. I'm doing ok, I'm fine. I don't care about school. No, Mom, I didn't hitchhike and yes, I know all the horror stories. I'm using someone's mobile phone. No, I'm in a diner, having breakfast. I don't want to come home. Not until I find my father. No, don't do that, Mom. I don't want to see you. Because. I'm staying..." he hesitated. "With some friends. Just guys I met. No, they're cool. Mom, no I... hold on a minute." He placed his hand over the receiver and glared at Brian.
"Now she says she's gonna call the police to make sure they take care of me until she can get here. What am I supposed to do?"
Brian motioned for the phone, took it from him, instructed Michael and Justin to see that Mick stayed put, then walked out of the diner before he answered. Steeling himself, he leaned on the window sill, under the awning and said, "Hi, Dee. It's Brian Kinney."
She hesitated. "Brian?"
"Yeah. Remember me?" He lit a cigarette. Her voice flooded him with memories. Even the tears in her inflection reminded him of the last time they talked. He tried not to remember, struggling against bitterness. "I guess that promise to call me took, oh how long has it been, now? Sixteen years? Seems like yesterday," he lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply.
She sighed. "This isn't about us. This is about a troubled young boy. Mick has been sheltered his whole life, Brian. He doesn't know anything about living on the street or on his own. I've been TERRIFIED since he left! How is he?"
"A little dirty, a little smelly, but fine. Are you coming to get him?"
"Yes. Can you keep an eye on him until I get up there?"
"I'll do my best, but he's asking me a lot of questions, Dee. Questions I can't answer because I don't know the answer. Such as, am I his father?"
She paused. "I'm sorry, Brian. Sorry you're being put through all this. I never wanted anything like this to happen."
"Like what? Like this kid to confront me? Like this claim to be made? Like your getting pregnant and having a baby without ever telling me anything? Like your disappearing from the face of the earth without sending me a single note or calling me even once?" He sighed, not having intended to let any anger break through. He regretted it instantly. He inhaled again, relying on the nicotine to calm his nerves.
"Brian, I have to call and see what flights I can get. Can I reach you at this number? I understand your feelings, but we'll have to talk about it later. Right now, all I ask is that you take care of my son until I can get there. Please. Please do that for me and I'll be forever in your debt."
"I don't want you in my debt, Dee. I want you to tell me the fucking truth."
"Ok, it's a deal. But Brian, think very hard about that request. Once the truth is out, it can't be stuffed back in the bottle and it may not be exactly what you want to hear."
He stared out at the busy street, full of Saturday shoppers and brunch seekers, many of them same sex couples, along with a few singles. On the gay side of town, you didn't see many men with forty-two inch waistlines and Dockers. You didn't see the harried dads in their vans or king size SUV's transporting various kids to various practices and games. You didn't see men who may have been handsome once going to fat and to seed, looking quietly desperate as they sat in silence across the table from some broad-beamed woman who used to be pretty. He wondered how different his life might have been with just a couple twists in another direction.
He gave Dee his address, telling her he would keep Mick there, and asking her to call when she had her arrangements made. He hung up, but didn't immediately go back into the diner. He wanted to finish his cigarette. He wanted some time to regain his equilibrium. He wanted to stop thinking about Deidre and remembering the past.
Brian noticed her on the sidelines, and he subliminally took into account that she was watching his every move on the soccer field. Rather than improving his game, it made him feel self-conscious and awkward. He wished he played striker, driving to the goal with dramatic flourish, rather than stopper, charged with halting the progress of his opponent's strikers. He didn't realize that one of the main reasons the girls came to these games was the same reason Mikey attended: watching Brian Kinney run around in shorts, displaying his long, muscular legs, his jersey glued to his torso with sweat. His blondish brown hair floated with each stride, and the game lost all meaning to his audience.
Dee Anderson was different. She prowled the sidelines, often sprinting the length of the field to follow the ball, shouting encouragement to the team. She didn't care if the girls in the bleachers were giggling at her enthusiasm. She was there to see a game. When Brian gave her a questioning look, she called out, "Keep your eye on the ball, Kinney!"
He laughed and returned to the play. After the game, he stripped off his jersey, using it to mop his face and scrub through his damp hair, as the girls in the bleachers applauded gratefully. Dee walked up to him and smiled. "Good save on that final drive."
"They didn't expect it. For good reason. The bicycle kick is not one of my better moves. But it got the ball out of danger."
"Want a ride home?"
"We were going to walk home together," Michael reminded Brian as he came up to them.
"Plenty of room," Dee invited.
"Kinney! Quit flirting with the girls and get your butt into the locker room!" The coach said, including Michael in that characterization. Brian told her where to meet him and trotted off with his team.
Dee drove a Mustang, an old one, cherry red with white leather interior and rag top. She slid over to let Brian drive while Michael was cramped in the small rear seat. Brian loved this car, despite the fact it was older than he was. It was in perfect condition and he envied Dee her wealthy and indulgent parents. He shoved it into gear and they left a strip of rubber on the road as they drove to the river. There was a perfect spot, secluded from the main thoroughfares, but giving them a wide perspective of any approaching cars.
They sat on boulders overlooking the water, sheltered by trees, passing a single joint between the three of them. Brian suddenly got up and walked along the outer edge of the rocks, perilously close to a fifty foot drop into shallow water, nimbly traveling from stone to stone, his balance unaltered by his smoke. Music from the car gave him a beat to dance to, moving his hips in a wave like motion as he wove his feet along the ledge. Dee watched the handsome young man move with such grace and confidence, and felt delighted by his exhibitionism, while Michael winced, and told him to move away from the edge before he fell.
Brian leapt over a boulder and grabbed Michael by the shoulders, kissing him firmly on the mouth. "Whazzamatter, Mikey? If you don't risk your safe little world every once in awhile, are you really alive?"
"Not only are you alive, but you have a chance to stay that way!"
"Brian! Look at me!"
Dee stood on the precipice over the river, balancing in one place as she ground her hips in a slow circle, and moved her hands up her torso and above her head. She turned to give him a view of every side of her body, lifting her hair on her arms in a sensual gesture, thrusting her chest in his direction. Brian watched, transfixed, as Michael glared at her. Michael resented the way she showed off around Brian, and even more, how Brian responded to her displays. He seemed to feel things Michael never felt, and Michael didn't know where Brian got those feelings for this girl.
Brian smiled and joined her there, his arms around her waist and face pressed to her neck as she moved against his body, her back to him, her gaze fixed on Michael with a look he found all too triumphant. Michael saw Brian's hands move up her ribcage, cupping the full rise of her breasts. When he did that, he dipped his pelvis forward, as if to press his penis to her ass.
"We should get back! It's getting dark," Michael complained. He wanted to interrupt this scene. The emotions he was witnessing from his best friend confused him.
"You turn into a pumpkin in the dark, Mikey?" She asked, slipping a hand over Brian's side to rest against his hip. He smiled and nibbled at her earlobe.
"You know how Mom is, Brian!" Michael deliberately ignored her.
They reluctantly left and when they reached Michael's house, Brian made no move to get out of the car. Michael looked curiously at him. "Aren't you coming in?"
"No, I have a home of my own, Mikey."
"So? You're never there. You promised you'd help me move that desk out of the guest room and into my room."
"Do we have to do that NOW?"
"You promised," Michael whined and Brian sighed. He leaned over and kissed her cheek, then followed Michael into his house and up the stairs, pleased to smell lasagna baking, knowing Debbie would include him in dinner.
Once they were alone, Michael turned on him. "Would you tell me what the fuck you're doing?" he insisted as Brian stretched out on his bed, casually thumbing through a comic.
"Reading about the adventures of Captain Astro, faggot superhero?"
Michael grabbed the comic from his hands. "I mean with Dee! You act like she's your girlfriend or something!"
Brian groaned and plumped the pillow under his head. "I don't do girlfriends."
"Then what is she?"
"A friend who happens to be a girl? Mikey, am I only allowed to have you as a friend? Is that it?"
"It's about the fact I thought you didn't care about girls like...like the way you were with her. Like you wanted to fuck her."
"I did want to fuck her. I do want to fuck her. Who wouldn't?"
"You've never been curious about it, Mikey? You've never stroked off to Playboy? You've never gotten a woody staring at some girl's tits?"
"NEVER!" Michael confirmed with a grimace. "You have?"
Brian shrugged. "I get turned on by anything sexual. Just because I want to fuck Patrick Swayze and sucked off the coach in the shower doesn't mean I don't feel other things too. I don't want to die without knowing what it's like to fuck a girl."
Brian stared at his friend in wonder. "Look, Mikey, we're different. I like to walk on the edge of the rocks, you like to sit back far from danger. I want to know all of it, you're afraid to go after even the small part of it that you do want."
"Do you love her?"
Brian laughed. "I like her. It has nothing to do with LOOOOVE. It has to do with this," he cupped his package. "She makes me tingle. I like that feeling."
Michael knew that feeling very well. Brian made him feel that way, and it was frustrating not to be able to pursue it. "What are you going to do about it?"
Brian shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe more than nothing. Who knows?"
"She'll make you regret it later," Michael warned.
"Brian, are you listening to me?" The present day Michael called him back from his reverie. Brian looked down at him and shook his head.
"No. What did you say?"
"The kid is threatening to leave. What are we going to do?"
"Take him to my place. Dee is on her way."
Michael met his eyes. "What was it like to talk to her again after all this time?"
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Mikey," he put his arm over Michael's shoulder. "Let's go corral the kid. Justin can't handle him alone."
"Did she tell you if he was yours?"
"Do you think he is?"
"I don't know, Mikey. Maybe."
"So you did fuck her. I knew it."
"Let it go," Brian insisted. "Ancient history."
"I told you she'd make you regret it," Michael reminded him. Brian said nothing. The fact was, except for the pain at the very end, he regretted none of it. Not one fucking minute of their whole short-lived and tumultuous romance.
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July 25, 2004