The Phantom speaks: Accidentally popped up in wardrobe. OH MY! There was Patrick, dressing all these BEEEYOUUTIFUL boys for their dance sequence at Babylon. While he was otherwise occupied, I found the rack of clothes holding Mr. H's wardrobe. Ohhhh, the ostrich skin pants from the party, ahhhhh, the Prada and Armani, ooooooooo, the navy silk robe, siggggghhhhh, the tux from the dance....heaven! I'm in heaven! "You're creeping me out, Phantom," Patrick interrupted. "And you're drooling on Gale's clothes. Do you mind?" I asked for a teeny little souvenir to take back to my lair. He tossed me the itty-bitty thong underwear Brian wore in the first show. Have I mentioned how much I love Patrick???
Last week on Transitions:
Brian drops off a CD at Justin's apartment with a song that he feels explains his feelings. Ethan is furious when he discovers Justin tried to hide the fact he called Brian. He gets physical with Justin, who retreats, his reaction intensified by his trauma with Hobbes. Brian and Trevor are at the resort, their business relationship becoming more complex with personal overtones. Vic reads Deb the riot act over Brian.
Scene 1: outside Brian's loft.
Debbie and Vic were able to enter the building on Tremont because Debbie remembered Brian's door code: 666. Very droll. Upstairs, they saw a sticky note pressed to the metal door. The handwriting was girlish. "Brian, Justin is really sick. Won't let me call Ethan. Pls call, Daphne". She left her number. Debbie wrote it down and tried knocking on Brian's door, even though the presence of the note suggested he wasn't home. When there was no answer, they left.
"What do you plan to do with that number? The note wasn't to you," Vic said and she shrugged.
"If Sunshine is sick, it's my business. I plan to call Daphne just as soon as we get to a phone."
Vic rolled his eyes. He knew better than to try to stop his sister's meddling. He just regretted Brian wasn't there to receive that message himself.
Scene 2, Salt Spring Resort
It had been a long day and evening, and only when Brian was alone in his room following dinner did he listen to his messages on his mobile. The one, from Daphne, spurred him to action. She said;
"Brian, it's Daphne, Justin's friend. Listen, not sure where you are, but he's really sick. Migraine. I took him home, but he's not a lot better. He wouldn't let me call Ethan or Jennifer. What do I do? Call me."
She left a number that Brian immediately punched in. After a couple of rings, Daphne answered. He responded, "It's Brian."
"Thank God! Are you home?"
"No. I'm out of town on business."
"Justin came down with a terrible migraine at lunch today. He's thrown up a couple times and he's still miserable. He said things like aspirin won't do any good. He won't let me call Ethan or his mom. I didn't ask about you, because I knew he would say the same thing. What do I do?"
Brian frowned. Justin hadn't had a migraine in months. "If he's not responding to dark and quiet, if he's still nauseated and in pain, you have to take him to the hospital, Daph. Migraines can be severe enough to cause a small stroke. They'll give him a prescription he should keep with him all the time. He's supposed to take it at the first sign of a headache. If he waits, it won't do him any good."
"I don't think he'll go to the hospital."
"Oh, he'll go, alright. Put him on."
"He can't talk, Brian."
"Just hold the receiver up to his ear."
Daphne carried the receiver to the bed and sat beside Justin, who was on his side in a fetal position. "It's Brian," she said softly. "Just listen to him. Go ahead, Brian." She placed the receiver gently against his ear and Brian said,
"You're going to the hospital. No bullshit about it. Just let her help you to the car and shut up."
"Nooo," Justin moaned and Brian sighed.
Daphne took back the call. "He's not happy about it."
"Daph, call me on my mobile, no matter how late it is. Let me know what they tell you."
"I'm really sorry to bother you, Brian. I know you two aren't...well...but I didn't know who to call."
"I'm glad you did. Call me. Promise?"
"Promise. There's my other line. Later."
As Daphne got off the call with Brian to take a call from Debbie, Brian hung up and fell back on his bed, wondering what could have triggered this reaction in Justin. The rare migraine he suffered after the bashing was usually due to a flashback to the horror of the event. Brian wondered if something reminded him of that night, and if so, what was it? He had his own horrible flashbacks to the bashing, and he refused to allow himself to linger over those images. He thought about driving back into Pittsburgh, but what good would that do? They'd knock Justin out at the hospital so he wouldn't even know Brian was there. If Ethan showed up, as Brian felt sure he would, there could be an unpleasant scene. No, he had to start letting go. He flung his arm across his eyes, blocking out the light and waiting for the call.
Scene 3, Pittsburgh City Hospital
Debbie, Vic and Daphne waited nervously for the doctor to emerge after Justin was taken into a treatment cubicle. Debbie had called Jennifer, despite Justin's protest, and they were awaiting her arrival. Sometimes the mother could get better information than could friends. No one called Ethan. On that point, Justin was adamant.
"Are you Brian?" the nurse emerged, addressing Vic, who shook his head.
"I wish. Why?"
"He was asking for a 'Brian'. Is he here?"
"He's out of town," Daphne said and the nurse shrugged and went back inside. Daphne sighed. "I'm glad Ethan isn't here to hear that. I mean, Justin can't help it, he's totally out of it, but I know it would hurt Ethan's feelings."
"Tells you where his thoughts are, doesn't it?" Vic insisted as his sister glared at him.
"It doesn't mean that, Vic. As Daphne says, he's out of it."
Jennifer ran up, trailed by a sullen Molly. "Couldn't find anyone to stay with Molly. Is he okay?"
They caught her up and Daphne escorted Molly to the vending machines to give her something to do. When the doctor emerged, they all gathered around him, except for Molly, who was involved with segregating her M&M peanuts by color. Jennifer identified herself as Justin's mother and the doctor addressed her. "He has suffered a severe migraine, with collateral nausea and disorientation. He's been sedated. We'll keep him here a few hours and make sure there's no intra-cranial bleeding. He'll feel a little hungover for a day or two. I'm going to give you the name of a doctor who specializes in pain management. She's also a neurologist, so she knows all about migraines. There are things he can do to stop it before it goes too far. Once it's full blown, all he can do is ride it out."
"What caused it?" Jennifer insisted. The doctor shrugged.
"I can't tell you that. Due to his prior severe trauma to the brain, it could be a variety of triggers from food sensitivity, to stress, to minor injury to unknown. The neurologist might help pinpoint a cause."
"May I see him?" Jennifer asked and the doctor nodded.
"Sure, but he's sleeping and he will be for awhile. He'll be fine. Just let him rest and then take him home. Plenty of fluids to ensure no dehydration. We have him on IV now to plump him up."
Daphne agreed to keep an eye on Molly while Jennifer went back to see her son. "I need to call Brian," Daphne insisted. "Can you watch Mol, Debbie?"
"Sure, but Brian? Why Brian?"
"He's the one who told me to bring Justin into the hospital. He wanted me to call and tell him how he was."
"Where the hell is he? I haven't been able to reach him."
"Out of town on business."
"Let me talk to him when you're through."
"Okay," Daphne dialed Brian's mobile as Deb turned to Vic.
"Am I the only one who finds it odd that Brian, not Ethan, is involved in this? And that Justin asks for Brian?"
"Old habits, maybe," Vic responded, keeping to himself another thought: or maybe true love.
Brian answered immediately. "Daphne?"
"Hi. The doctor sedated him. He's keeping him here for awhile. Said he'll be fine and recommended a doctor to consult about the headaches."
"Good. He needs to do that. Nag him."
"Okay. Jennifer is with him."
"Yeah. Don't let Ethan know you're talking to me, I don't want to cause trouble."
"Ethan isn't here."
"Justin didn't want me to call him, remember?"
"Justin asked for you, Brian," she paused. "Are you there?"
"I'm here," he said quietly. "Tell him I'm thinking about him and to get his pink ass to that doctor."
She giggled. "I will. Oh, hold on. Deb wants to talk to you."
Too late. She handed the phone to Debbie. "Brian? Did you get my message?"
"Yes," he said coolly.
"And Michael's messages and I'm sure a message from Lindsay? And from Vic?"
"I got them."
"You're just ignoring them, is that it?" She glared at Vic as he tried to change her tactic with a shake of his head. Brian was silent. "Okay, we fucked up. People fuck up. You fuck up, too. I'm sorry. Believe it or not, I would never deliberately hurt your feelings for the world."
"You didn't hurt my feelings," Brian lied.
"Don't give me that shit. Of course we did. Unintentionally, but we did. I saw the way you looked. Honey, don't do this. You need us now. Let us make it up to you. Don't withdraw into your lair and lick your wounds the way you always do."
"I shouldn't have barged in uninvited."
"Yeah, Brian. It's all your fault. Stop it. You know how I feel about you, now don't you?"
"Yeah, Deb, you've made yourself clear on numerous occasions. I'm that tall dose of trouble that entered Mikey's life and never left."
"Fair enough. But I love you, Brian Kinney, and you know that too. You're one of mine. Warts and all. When you come back in town, you have a penne and sausage dinner waiting for you."
He sighed. "Okay, Deb. Thanks."
"Okay, honey. Sorry."
"Take care of Sunshine."
"You know we will. Take care of yourself."
He hung up and Debbie handed the phone back to Daphne. Vic smiled and hugged his sister gently. "Good girl."
"He sounded so sad, honey."
"He is sad, Deb. He needed to hear that from you."
"I feel worse than ever."
"But maybe he feels a little better. That's what matters."
"He still loves that boy."
"Of course he does."
"Oh Vic..." she went into his arms, giving in to a little emotional release and he held her gently, his thoughts with Brian.
Scene 4: Daphne's apartment, the next day.
Daphne was not surprised to find Ethan on the other side of her door holding a small bouquet of flowers. Whatever happened with Ethan, Justin wouldn't say. She exchanged a conspiratorial look with the young man and left him alone with his lover, closing the door behind her after motioning that Justin was in the living room.
"Hi baby," Ethan extended the flowers to him. Justin flinched and made no move to take them. Where was Daphne, he wondered? He was afraid to be alone with Ethan. Ethan seemed to read his thoughts.
"She left us alone. She's a good person. I would have been worried sick if Daphne hadn't called me. She said you told her not to do so, but she thought you were out of it and didn't really know what you wanted. She thought maybe you just didn't want to worry me."
"I don't want you here, Ethan," Justin said softly. A numbing sensation was overtaking him.
"Don't be like that, Justin. Look, I brought roses. Your favorite flower. I barely have enough money for food and I'm spending it on flowers for you because I love you so much."
"I'm sorry I was so angry the other morning, baby. It really wasn't my fault. You know that. It's all because of the bashing, you overreacted to a little disagreement. I love you. I couldn't sleep last night, worrying about you. Come home with me."
"I don't want to go home with you." Justin still felt disoriented and vague, a hangover from the migraine and the medication. The best argument he could muster was childlike and listless. Ethan went down on one knee in front of him. He gently cradled Justin's hand between his own. Justin didn't try to pull free, afraid he would enrage Ethan if he did.
"Don't you know how much I love you, baby? I couldn't stand the thought of your sneaking behind my back to talk to Brian or any other man. That's why I snapped. You provoked me, Justin. It won't happen again. You wouldn't be that reckless. We have to be honest with each other. Forgive me, baby. It was all because I just love you so damn much," he rested his cheek against Justin's thighs. Justin sighed, remembering how often he wished he could hear such words of devotion from Brian. Why did they sound hollow to him now? Yet he was touched by Ethan's show of misery over making him so unhappy. The victim in Justin saw it as proof of how much Ethan loved him. He reached down to stroke his fingers through Ethan's dark, tousled hair. Ethan looked up at him with hopeful expectation.
"You swear you'll never hit me again?" Justin asked and Ethan nodded vigorously.
"Yes. I promise!"
"Then let's go home."
Ethan smiled and helped him stand. Justin let him kiss him, but he had nothing to give back at that moment. Justin took the flowers and Ethan held tightly to his free hand as they left Daphne's apartment together.
Scene 5, Salt Springs Resort—late night. Brian's suite.
"Ok, let's recap," Cynthia sat cross-legged on Brian's king-sized bed while he leaned his back against the headboard, his long legs stretched out before him. She wore flannel pajamas that featured a print of breakfast dishes and cups of coffee against a pink background. Brian was slightly more elegant in black silk drawstring pajama bottoms and a matching black silk kimono styled robe.
"Do those pajamas work for you?" he teased, interrupting her thought.
"Stark naked wouldn't work on you, Brian, so why bother trying?"
"You got me there."
"Besides, my room is cold. Look, this is how I see it so far. Our team, spearheaded by you, beat Trevor's team, spearheaded by him, at tennis, golf and even that horrible team trivia game we got roped into at the hospitality suite."
"The last one was not my fault. I lack the fag gene for trivial knowledge. You guys kicked their asses in that match."
"True, but the only reason you didn't participate more, was because you were busy finding a way to score Henri, our cute French waiter. Which apparently you did, because after your break to take a 'phone call'," she made the quotes with her fingers. "You came back like the cat who ate the cream."
Brian smiled. "Aptly put. Is there a point to this?"
"Tell me again how kicking his ass is going to help us win Trevor's account?"
"Trevor is a fierce competitor. He'd know if I were throwing a game, and he'd resent it. What we came here to do, is to open a strong dialogue with his team, and we've succeeded at that. It doesn't matter who wins these little games. You did a great job of setting this up, Cyn. You've been the Pearl Mesta of Salt Springs Resort. Trevor thinks you're fabulous. Don't obsess."
She sighed. "Promise me something, Brian."
"I hate promises."
"This is one I deserve. If we land this account, I want a promotion to junior ad executive. I've been a creative assistant long enough and I think I've proven my value to you and to the agency. I want to be on your team, of course, one of your account exec's."
He smiled wryly at her. "You think you're ready?"
"I'll think about it, Cyn. But no promises."
When there was a knock on the door, she went to answer it, finding herself facing Trevor Rainer. He was dressed in sweats, holding a bottle of chilled champagne and two crystal champagne flutes. Trevor glanced at her apparel, then past her to where Brian reclined on the bed. He look confused. "Am I interrupting something?"
"It's not what you think, Trevor," she said quickly and he smiled.
"I'm not sure what it is I'm thinking, Cynthia. Elucidate."
"We were just..."
"Say goodnight, Cyn," Brian interrupted her, and she escaped through the connecting door to her room as he got up to invite Trevor inside. They sat on the sofa as Trevor held up the bottle of Cristal.
"Consider this a bribe," he said and Brian smiled. His favorite champagne.
"For ceasing walloping my team. I'm afraid they've become quite demoralized."
"We still have sailing tomorrow, Trevor. Maybe you can beat us there."
"I'm an excellent sailor."
"And I'm not, so here's your chance to kick my ass."
"I just might. Shall we share a toast? Even if it's not a bribe?"
Trevor popped the cork and poured the champagne. They toasted to a successful weekend and to friendship. Brian sipped it slowly, savoring the smooth flavor. "Is Cynthia your mistress?" Trevor asked suddenly, and Brian smiled.
"In case you failed to notice, Cynthia is a girl."
"I noticed, but not all men are so limited to prefer only one gender, Brian."
"I'm that limited. If she were my mistress, you think she'd be wearing those ridiculous pajamas?" They both laughed. "I rely very heavily on her and I consider her a good friend. That's enough. Do you like women, Trevor?"
"Like them? Oh yes, some of my best mates are women. Sleep with them? No. Only the usual experimental stuff when I was younger."
"Yeah, I went through that phase myself."
"You came out of it unscathed. Your talents on the other side of the fence are daunting. Just this weekend there's been the tennis pro, Henri, the caddy master...leaving anyone out?"
"There was a hot guy in the spa. A newlywed, I think. That marriage won't last."
Trevor shook his head slowly. "Is this some twisted form of pain management or are you always this driven?"
"I don't know. I guess I've always been this way."
"The chase still does it for you?"
"The catch beats the chase. Look, I like sex. I do it well. It's the rest of it is where things get murky."
Trevor refilled their champagne flutes. "How do you mean?"
Brian had a pat answer, but he reconsidered it and sighed. "I've been in advertising too long, Trevor. I took a look under the façade this weekend and realized I've been blowing smoke up my own ass, for a change."
"Interesting visual. Why is that, Brian?"
"It's the Justin thing. I took a long, hard look at that relationship."
"And what did you find?"
"That I've bullshitted myself for too long. Can I tell you this? There's no one else I would tell."
"Please do, Brian."
"I convinced myself I was the selfless older lover pushing the little bird out of the nest. Yes, it was painful, but it was for his own good. He had to learn how to fly and how to feed himself in order to survive. Let him go with someone closer to his image of the ideal lover, force him to make the hard decision. All for his own good, and I would get over it."
"Sounds a bit drama queenish."
"Doesn't it? Well, it's also utter bullshit."
"In what way?"
"It wasn't about any of that crap I just said. Maybe subliminally, some of it was in play, but it wasn't the focus. It was about striking first to preserve my ego."
"You mean before he left you?"
"Yes," Brian met Trevor's eyes, his expression haunted. "I was his hero, once. He had such a crush on me. But then, as he got to know me, he saw all my flaws and he hated them. I went from being his hero to being resented by him. Do you know how it feels to be resented by someone you...someone you...you love? It's terrible. It rocks you to your foundation. Other people can judge you and you don't care, but not this one. He became contemptuous of the things about me that he once found interesting."
"No, let me say this. I really need to hear it myself."
"The signs were all there. In the old days he couldn't get enough of me, sexually. But that changed. He would turn me down, fairly often. Usual excuses, school, tired, whatever. If I pushed the issue, he would stoically let me do it, but I saw the roll of the eyes, the exasperated sigh, the whiney, 'don't you ever get enough?' Once, he even went to sleep while I was rimming him. And I'm pretty good at rimming. He was getting tired of me. He was tolerating me."
"I never felt worthy of love, not even as a child. I got accustomed to that fact early in life. Then I met him, and I realized, eventually, that he loved me. I thought to myself that can't be right. Not me," Brian laughed softly, at himself. "Then I thought, what if he really does love me? What would happen if I loved him back? But soon, I found out I was right the first time. I wasn't worthy of love. Not gonna make that mistake again. I'll trust my instincts."
"Brian, may I ask what the main problem was?"
"He'd tell you it was my fucking around. Or my inability to be romantic, to commit. Which is not really fair. The second part of that accusation anyway. I was romantic, he just doesn't remember."
"How can that be? One partner forgets?"
"Yes, but it's not his fault. It's all part of the injury he received. When I turned thirty, I granted his wish and showed up at his senior prom. I can't tell you how much nerve it took for me to go there. I was feeling like my life as a young man was over, and there I was in a roomful of chickens. I didn't even go to my own senior prom, I was so turned off by the ritual."
"Our rituals were different in the UK. Of course, I went to an all male school so the concept of a prom may have been fun!"
Brian smiled at him, the champagne and camaraderie relaxing him. "Anyway, I dressed up and I went there and I walked into that room like a deer into the headlights of a Mack truck."
"I'll bet you were beautiful."
"Yes, for a CHAPERONE. Anyway, he was thrilled. I led him into a dance. What a dance. It seemed to express everything I hadn't been able to say. He heard every silent word. We were magic together. The whole room watched, it was fucking beautiful."
"Very brave, as well. What happened?"
"As Justin walked me to my car, this kid who had it in for him, a mixture of blind rage and gay panic, viciously attacked him with a baseball bat. I don't want to talk about that part of it. But as a result of his injuries, the dance was obliterated from his memory. The most romantic thing I have ever done was simply gone."
"I'm so sorry, Brian. For you both."
"Yeah. I was so pathetic, I tried to recreate it for him once he was on his feet again. Nothing. He even laughed at me and ridiculed the music. It...hurt."
Trevor reached over to massage his shoulder gently. "Of course it did. Maybe it was a defense mechanism, considering his injuries. Remembering the dance or the night might terrify him on some deeper level."
Brian wrinkled his brow, considering that possibility. "Maybe. Anyway, I gave up trying to recall the beauty of the dance. I let it go. He stuck around while he recuperated. He felt safe with me and that was important. We even tried to craft a relationship that incorporated elements of things we both found essential, like freedom and individual accountability on my side and romance and being a couple on his. It was a disaster. The erosion started."
Brian winced, sipped more champagne, and Trevor gave him time to recover. "His attitude towards me changed. He was furious when I had to give up a trip we had planned because my job was in jeopardy as a result of the agency changing hands. I was given a week to prove my value to Vance. I couldn't do that while snowboarding in Vermont. Soon after that, he started seeing Ethan behind my back and in violation of the rules of our so-called 'understanding'. He'd come home smelling of him, lying to me about where he was and with whom. I was so furious, and so helpless."
Trevor stroked the back of his neck. "Of course you were. Who wouldn't be?"
"In an open relationship, I don't think outrage over infidelity is permitted. Anyway, this was different. He was going to leave me. He was leaving me for the oldest reason in the world."
"A new love?"
Brian topped off his flute and leaned back with a sigh. "Not really. Because of the simple fact that Justin no longer loves me. He fell out of love with me about the same time I fell in love with him. Isn't that ironic? I forced the issue, because I couldn't live with the truth. But now I know that truth can't be escaped. He doesn't love me. That's not something that can be fixed," he tapped his glass to Trevor's. "Here's to love. Let it darken someone else's door."
Trevor rested his hand on Brian's shoulder, unable to think of anything to say. And so he said nothing. Instead, he leaned over and kissed Brian gently on the lips. Brian let him. He kissed him back. Sometimes gestures defeated words. At that moment, a gesture of affection was exactly what Brian needed. He was shattered by the truth he had just confessed. Hearing himself say it made it hopelessly real. Justin didn't love him anymore. Where was the medicine for that wound? What movie star would host the telethon to save the poor, pathetic Brian Kinney from his bed of nails? He placed his crystal flute on the table and pulled Trevor closer by the lapels of his robe, going for his own analgesic against the pain.
Trevor sighed and leaned back, placing a hand on Brian's chest to stop his forward assault. "Don't think I wouldn't like to take advantage of your vulnerability right now, Brian, but I wasn't raised that way."
"I want you to."
"You don't, really. What you want is a caring heart to listen to you and someone neutral to be your friend while you work through the damage left by your first love. You can get the rest from the tennis pro and Henri and the hot newlywed in the spa."
Brian leaned back with a sigh. "First and last love. I learned that I was right. I'm not worthy of it and I don't want it."
Trevor smiled sadly as he focused on Brian's profile. They were both feeling a little giddy from the champagne. "Let's watch every movie they have on pay per view. Make Gardner Vance pay for it!"
Brian grinned at him. "Even the straight, soft core porn?"
"We'll start with that!"
"You bring the rest of the bottle and I'll man the remote control," Brian said, weaving over to the bed and flopping down on his back, tucking a pillow behind him. Trevor did the same, close enough to loop one heel across Brian's shin, more friendly than flirty. "I think we need another," he said, emptying the bottle into their glasses before he picked up the phone. "And this one is on my firm."
"Get some snacks too," Brian suggested, suddenly hungry, and they settled in to enjoy the rest of the night as the friends they were becoming.
Next week on Transitions:
Trevor and Brian have dinner at Trevor's penthouse when they return from their retreat. Brian invites Trevor to go to Babylon with him, but Trevor refuses. Brian sees Michael at Babylon, and they argue. Justin and Ethan have a tense conversation about Brian.
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July 25, 2004