The Phantom speaks: Gale finally spoke. "You don't think living in a basement and tunneling into trailers is wacky behavior?" "Maybe, but harmless." "Maybe, but why would I know that?" "I see your point." "Listen, Phantom, all I ask is that fans respect my privacy and give me my space. I'll be happy to talk to people when the time is right, if they give me my space when the time is wrong. You understand? We have lives too. No one likes being stalked." SIGH. "I'm not stalking you." "Well, then I guess that's it, right? My trailer is safe?" "No, one more thing. I want to thank you on behalf of gay men everywhere for creating the first gay superstud to show up in a television series who is a multi-dimensional character with flaws and goodness and pettiness and sexiness and all sorts of things rolled into one, just like real people. Brian is truly a phenomenon. So much of that is directly because of your persuasive power as an actor. Thank you for that." Gale was quiet for a moment, and then he smiled.
Last week on Transitions:
Brian FINALLY meets up with Justin on the plane to Atlanta. They go to a hotel and have a hot sexual and emotional reunion. Brian explains "a ghra mo chroi" means "the love of my heart". Justin tells him all about his experience with Ethan. They both speak with Deb. But when they come home, Justin is arrested at the airport. Brian blames Deb until Justin explains he turned himself in. He didn't want Brian to be in trouble for aiding him.
Scene 1: Horvath's car.
"How did you find out we were coming in?" Brian asked Deb, leaning his forearms on the back of the bench of the front seat, feeling like a small child in the car with his parents.
"I told her," Horvath confessed. "Police work is like a small town. We all know what's going down. I knew she would want to be there. It was wrong for me to do it, but fuck it."
Brian had already arranged for his lawyer to meet Justin at the detention center. Now he leaned back against the vinyl seats in the oversized sedan. "They'd better not lock him up in a tank," Brian said softly. "He's got such fear issues, and he's a young, gay, blond twink. He'd be terrorized and abused."
"Son, they'll put him in a holding cell, by himself, under suicide watch. It's standard procedure. He'll get a bail hearing within twenty-four hours and a probable cause hearing within the week. With his clean record and voluntary return, they'll grant bail and he'll be on the street in no time. Of course he has to have the money to bail out with."
"He'll have the money, don't you worry about that. It's that fucking Ethan they should be prosecuting, not Justin. He beat the shit out of Justin, raped him, poisoned him, and Justin is in trouble because he finally fought back? Bullshit!"
"He'll get his chance to explain."
"Yeah, after what happened with Hobbs, pardon me if I have no faith in the fucking judicial system when it comes to queers. Are you sure they won't lock him up with others?"
"I'll make sure, Brian."
"You need to be brave for him, baby," Debbie counseled. "He needs to know you're not worried."
"I'm not worried," Brian said firmly. "So long as Ethan stays away."
Debbie exchanged a look with Horvath that Brian didn't see.
Scene 2: The Loft
It was after eleven when Brian finally returned to his loft. He stripped to his jeans and lit a joint, trying to relax. Morphine played on the sound system, a jazzy, edgy band but Brian was so agitated, he could barely sit still. He couldn't get out of his head the image of Justin, incarcerated, scared, alone. It was as if their brief interlude in Atlanta was just a dream. Despite the reassurances from Justin's attorney, Brian feared they would be separated for a significant time. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to tolerate that separation when they just now put it back together. A knock at his door interrupted his spiral into despair.
"Who is it?" he demanded before he would open it.
"It's Vic, kid. Let me in."
Brian slid the door open to find Vic standing there holding a large plastic trash sack and a basket. Brian took the heavy bag from him while Vic sat down on the couch, still clutching the basket. "Those fucking stairs are killer!" he said between heaving for breath.
"You used to trot up the stairs in New York," Brian teased him, remembering his elevator was out of service. Again.
"I used to be thirty-something, like you, and healthy."
"Time is cruel. Is there a reason you brought me a sack of trash, Vic?"
"Not trash." Vic unfolded the flaps of the basket to reveal a curled up cat that was sleeping peacefully. Brian gave it a quizzical glance and then looked at Vic.
"What the fuck?"
"It's Ethan's cat or, more to the point, it used to be. Deb and I sprang it from the pound. Good thing too. It was scheduled to be gassed that same day."
"What kind of fuckhead would leave a live animal behind in an abandoned apartment?"
"The same fuckhead who would abuse a boy like Justin the way he did. And who is now in terror for his own life."
Brian frowned. "Don't go there."
Vic reached over and took his chin in his hand. "Look at me, Brian."
"What?" Brian asked, meeting his gaze squarely.
"I know you love Justin. I know you want to help him. But don't throw away your freedom and your god damned soul to help him beat a rap he will by rights win on his own. I know you. I know how it would eat away at you until you were no longer the man you are today. Don't sacrifice yourself in some futile, romantic gesture."
Brian pulled free of his grip and leaned back on the couch. "I don't know what you mean."
"Don't bullshit me, boy. I've known you too long and too well."
Brian sighed. "Stay out of this one, Vic."
"If you're in it, I'm in it."
Brian reached over and laced his long fingers through Vic's. "I'm so fucking scared for him, Vic. I feel so responsible."
"Stop it. Brian, will you do something to make an old man happy?"
Brian cut a glance in his direction and smirked. "Why, Vic! I thought you'd never ask!"
Vic laughed and bopped the back of Brian's head with the heel of his hand. "I'm serious. I want you to promise me that when this is over, you'll get some counseling. He obviously needs it, but so do you. And if you boys are going to make it as a couple, counseling is key. Not just for the trauma, but for your longstanding issues created by your childhood. Promise me?"
"I promise to think about it."
"Stubborn little mick."
"Old perv," Brian teased. "What are you going to do with that cat?"
"He's yours now. Well, yours and Justin's. His litter box, a bag of litter, food bowls and food are in the trash sack."
"I'm not keeping that cat," Brian said simply.
"Yes you are. It's important to Justin. The cat isn't evil. It was a victim too."
"You keep it."
"Give it to Jennifer."
"Molly has a dog. Don't list everyone you know. It's yours, now, Brian. It's the least you can do."
Brian grimaced. "I don't even like cats."
"Do it for Justin."
As if on cue, the cat climbed out of the basket, sniffed Brian and promptly curled up on his lap to sleep, purring softly. He sighed. "What's its name again?"
"How pretentious. It's Wolfie from now on. Vic, will you sleep over? I don't want to be alone. I promise not to jump your bones."
"Then why stay?" Vic teased. "Sure honey, we'll watch an old movie and smoke dope."
"Swell, a fag's idea of nirvana." He rested his head on Vic's shoulder, pleased to have the company of man and beast.
Scene 2: The Law Offices of Charles Winspear.
Justin's bail hearing went as planned. Thanks in part to the smooth argument of Charles Winspear, Justin was bailed out with little objection, greased by the money Brian had raised. Following the hearing, they met in Winspear's office where he spoke with Brian, Justin and Jennifer.
"I think your chances at the probable cause hearing look very bright. If Gold doesn't show up for it, I believe we'll win at that stage of the proceedings."
"He won't," Brian said firmly, drawing a glance from Justin. Winspear continued. "Even if we lose this one, the trial will be a cakewalk. I've had photos and video taken and a complete medical examination to document your current bruises. I may need you, Brian, to testify to having seen prior evidence of bruising. And your friend Michael too."
"That's not a problem."
"I'll have Justin's medical records, including the records from his bashing by Hobbs. A noted psychiatrist will meet with you between now and the trial, if there is one, and will be prepared to testify to the effects of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from which you obviously suffer. You may need to testify as to that attack, too, Brian."
Brian winced. "If it would help."
"It will. We'll have character witnesses, academic records, Justin makes a very attractive defendant. But I will warn you. The relationship between you two will inevitably be revealed."
Brian chuckled. "Neither of us lives in a closet, Charles. And we've been talked about in print and on the streets since the prom. We're like soap opera stars in this town."
Justin giggled and leaned over to kiss him. Brian kissed him back. Charles did not react to that intimacy, but said, "If it came out that Gold were being paid to stay away, that could be a very bad fact."
Brian met his gaze with a raised brow. "I haven't paid him one thin dime."
"If he beats the main rap, what about the charge of fleeing?" Brian asked.
"It's subordinate. They'll dump that one. I think we're through for now. Keep your nose clean and your head down, Justin. Give no interviews, say nothing to the press."
"Mrs. Taylor, may I speak with you alone for a moment?"
The other two men left her there and waited in the elegant reception area. "Wonder why he wants to talk to my mom?" Justin said to Brian who shrugged.
"I dunno. Maybe he's trying to date her."Justin groaned and Brian laughed at him. "She's pretty hot."
Jennifer came out, smiling meekly at them. She headed straight for the elevator. "And so?" Justin demanded.
"Nothing," she turned bright red.
"He asked me to dinner," she said as they entered the elevator. Brian mimicked sinking a basket and scoring two. Justin glared at him.
"Isn't that unethical? Dating a client?"
"I'm not his client, honey. You are."
"Oh, Justin, your new daddy could be a rich lawyer! At the rate you're going, you may need a lawyer in the family," Brian quipped. "You juvenile delinquent."
Justin laughed. "At least my mom goes out with earthbound men rather than sucking up to God the way your mom does."
"Did you say my Mom sucks God? You heretic!"
"Cooze," Justin said with a giggle, and Brian retorted,
"BOYS!" Jennifer insisted with a grimace, but she was secretly pleased to see the genuine affection beneath their banter and to realize how happy her son was with Brian.
"I want to walk back to the loft," Justin said when they reached the street. "The day is beautiful and I'm all antsy after being locked up. It's not far from here."
"I'd walk with you, " Brian offered, "But we came over in the Jeep and I have to take your mom home."
"I'm not a baby, I think I can cross the street alone," Justin teased.
"I could go with you," Jennifer suggested and her son laughed and waved them off. After walking a couple steps, he paused and looked over his shoulder, flashing Brian a blazing grin. As Justin left, Brian felt the scenery swim. He grabbed Jennifer to steady himself and she helped him sit down on the ledge fronting a decorative flower garden.
"Brian? Are you alright?"
He leaned his face down towards his knees to return the blood to his brain. Jennifer rubbed the back of his neck, and slowly his color revived. "Are you ill?" She asked nervously and he sighed and shook his head.
"I'm sorry. It's just...just give me a minute." He lit a cigarette with shaking hands. Jennifer sat beside him. Finally he spoke. "The night of the prom, we kissed goodnight at my Jeep. As he walked away, he turned and looked over his shoulder at me and grinned, exactly like he did today. A minute later, he got bashed in the head with a baseball bat."
Jennifer squeezed his shoulder gently. "He's fine, honey, look. See? He's just now turning the corner." It was the first time she saw clearly how damaged Brian was by the violence committed against her son. "Brian, I haven't had a chance to thank you properly for all you've done. Finding him, bringing him home, hiring an attorney, paying his bail. You have a loving heart, Brian. I hope you and Justin can find happiness together. You both deserve it."
He sighed and ground out his cigarette, carefully getting to his feet. "Thanks. Let's go. Jennifer..."
"What did you say to Winspear?"
"Your dinner date."
She laughed. "I said yes."
Brian smiled. "Good for you! Bring it on!"
She laughed as he helped her into his Jeep, and they drove away together.
Scene 3: The Sons of Eire Benevolent Society Meeting Hall
Justin entered the cavernous former armory, taking a moment to adjust to the smoke and the noise. A bunch of old men played cards or dominoes while others sat at the bar and drank, despite the early hour. The crowd was smaller than the night time attendance, the numbers swelling as shifts ended and younger men wandered into the hall.
"Excuse me," Justin said to the bartender. "I'm looking for Danny O'Malley. Is he here?" He had done his research the easy way, with a call to Daphne while they were still in Atlanta. His attorney was his conduit. Winspear had no idea about the import of the written instructions she provided for Justin in a sealed envelope. Nor did Daphne know why Justin was asking about this notorious character. But it was easy to find references to him online, and the book mentioned in the listings provided this address.
The bartender looked at the young blond and smirked. "Danny ain't interested in buying your Cub Scout cookies, little man. Shove off."
"I'm a friend of Brian Kinney's. He'll see me. It's important."
The bartender became more interested. "You're a friend of Brian's? Hold on," he picked up the phone, talked briefly then hung up and said to Justin, "Wait here."
One of O'Malley's huge bodyguards came over and gave Justin a gruff glare. "What ya want with Mr. O'Malley?"
"It's a private matter," Justin insisted.
"Don't give me no bullshit, boy."
"Says he's a friend of Brian Kinney's, Sean," the bartender intervened.
"Wait," the big man said and walked away. Minutes later, the phone in the bar rang and the bartender answered. Hanging up, he pointed out the stairs to Justin. Justin walked over there, undergoing the same inspection for wires or weapons that Brian endured. When he was shown into O'Malley's office, he couldn't believe the diminutive size of the man so widely feared.
"Taylor, Taylor," the little man said without rising from the chair behind his desk. "Not much of an Irish name, is it? More like a fookin' Brit."
Justin shrugged and sat down as O'Malley gestured towards a chair. "It's American. But my grandfather on my mother's side is Irish. His surname is Poteet."
"I knew a Poteet from Cork," O'Malley said. "Nasty bugger he was. State your business, ladub. I'm a busy man. Is it somethin' ta do with that shiner you're boasting there? Quite a good one, it tis."
"It's nothing. I'm here about Brian Kinney."
"And how do ya know Brian?"
"Friend, is he? Or more than friend? Are you his punch?"
Justin tensed. "W-what do you mean?"
"He your back door man?"
Justin lifted his chin and said firmly. "He's my lover."
"Aye," O'Malley responded with a wry smile. "Tis always about love with men of a certain tender age. Even among your kind, I suppose. "
"He calls me 'a ghra mo chroi'."
O'Malley smiled, pleased to hear the Irish. "What ya boys do is of no interest to me, but I will say ya make a pretty pair to be doin' it. What is it about Brian that brings ya here? He send ya?"
"God no! He'd kill me if he knew!" Justin winced at his choice of words. O'Malley just grinned at him like a deranged ventriloquist's dummy. "Mr. O'Malley, I don't know what Brian asked you to do, but I want you to stop it."
"You're talking shite, lad. Make sense."
"Ethan Gold. He did something to Ethan, or rather asked you to do something. Scare him away or something like that. Maybe worse. He did it for me. I want it stopped."
"You soft on this Gold fella?"
Justin touched his bruised face. "I hate him. But I love Brian more than I hate Ethan. He can't do this."
O'Malley nodded. "I see. And if this bad penny turns up again, what could happen to ya?"
Justin shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe I would go to jail for awhile, worst case scenario. But how am I supposed to enjoy my freedom if Brian traded his soul for it?"
O'Malley leaned back in his chair, weaving his skinny little claws together. "I don't trade in souls, lad. Leave that to the devil and the Almighty." He took a bottle of whisky from his desk and poured two glasses. "So now we'll share a drink and I'll tell ya a little story."
Justin hated straight whisky and was in no mood for a story, but he knew better than to refuse the hospitality of Danny 'Two Roses' O' Malley.
Scene 4: The loft.
When Justin entered the loft, Wolfram ran up to greet him. "Wolfie!" He scooped up the cat, stroking its fur as he zeroed in on Brian who was glaring at him from the chaise.
"Where the FUCK have you been?"
Justin sat down on the couch, stroking the cat as he beamed at his lover. "Worried?"
"Yes, you little shit! And get that shit-eating grin off your fucking face! It's not funny!"
"Go n'ithe an cat thu is go n'ithe an diabbal an cat," Justin responded in Irish, holding up Wolfram and pointing him towards Brian as he said it. Brian looked shocked. "Know what that means?"
"Yes, Justin, it's an old Irish curse. 'May the cat eat you and may the cat be eaten by the devil.' Nice sentiment. Since when do you speak Irish?"
"Since never. But a man taught it to me, to use on my enemies," he reached in his pocket, removed something and tossed it to Brian. Brian caught it, turning the plastic disk containing a four leafed clover over and over in his hand.
"Where did you get this?" Brian said coolly and Justin smiled.
"From the same man who taught me the curse. I like him, by the way. He's a character."
"You went to see Danny O'Malley?"
Justin nodded and Brian threw the disk at him as if it were a weapon. "Are you NUTS?" Wolfram ran to hide at the sound of raised voices. He was from a violent home. He didn't know humans could argue without coming to blows.
"I had to. I couldn't let you make that sacrifice for me, Brian."
"What sacrifice? What did you say to him?"
"We had a lovely chat about how crafty Irishmen can be."
Brian sighed. Justin's courage in facing 'Two Roses' didn't surprise him. Anyone who thought Justin's tolerance of Ethan's abuse was due to cowardice understood neither Justin nor PTSD. He wanted to be mad at him, but he just couldn't sustain it.
Justin was removing his courtroom coat and tie, as he told Brian the story. Brian sat on the edge of the bed, watching and listening. What a gorgeous young thing, Justin was, Brian thought. "And he's all mine..." was how he ended that line of reverie.
"Are you listening to me?" Justin demanded, and Brian smiled.
"I'm listening. We're crafty, we Irish."
"He talked in riddles. I had a hell of a time keeping up with him."
"Naturally. You're not Irish."
"Whatever," he eluded Brian's hands as he reached for him once he was down to his underwear. "I want you to hear this. We have plenty of time for that."
Brian rolled his eyes. "Continue."
"This is the gist of what I heard," he said, slipping into sweats. "First of all, you never hired him to do anything to Ethan."
Brian shrugged. "Like he'd tell you if I did."
"I thought of that, and maybe not, but we would have had a very different conversation. Admit it." He stretched out on his side on the bed, facing Brian, who stretched out on his side, facing Justin. Wolfram re-emerged and curled up on the bench at the foot of the bed, watching for signs of tension between the two men.
"Admit I didn't hire a murder? Yeah, I admit it. I'm not a total moke."
"Ah, but you didn't hire him to do anything. Right? Not even scare him."
"What exactly is it that you think you figured out, Sherlock?"
"That you're a diabolical fiend," Justin said, running his fingertip down the straight, narrow bridge of Brian's nose before pressing it to his lips.
Brian kissed it as he felt his dick stir due to Justin's intimate proximity. "Is that news to you?"
"Not really," Justin moved closer to him, wanting to feel the strength of their sexual chemistry as it combined. He insinuated his calf between Brian's legs and Brian trapped it tightly.
"Somehow you made Ethan BELIEVE you hired Two Roses to waste him, if he testified, but you really didn't. Ethan runs for his life, and your mission is accomplished without really endangering him. Am I right?"
Brian rolled over on his back, smiling up at the ceiling. "Now, how would I do that?"
"I'm not sure. But I suspect you found a way that would leave no trail, or if it did leave a trail, nothing you did would be illegal."
Brian chuckled. "All I did was send a sick friend some flowers and a book. A perfectly natural thing to do when someone is recuperating."
"Let me guess," Justin crawled on top of him and stretched out, resting his cheek against Brian's neck. "You sent two long stemmed roses, wrapped with clover."
Brian smiled, letting his long fingers wander Justin's back. "One flower seemed too personal. Kind of like the old 'perfect rose for a perfect rose' straight boy bullshit. Two was more...well...friendly. "
"Friendly," Justin repeated, raising himself on his hands to peer down at Brian who rolled his tongue along the inside of his jaw to keep from smiling.
"I can see that," Justin rubbed his erection gently against Brian's crotch, feeling an answering stiffness. "And let me guess. The book you sent? Portrait of Evil? That story about O'Malley that was written by the now infamously missing journalist?"
"Sure," Brian pushed Justin's shirt up and unbuttoned his own shirt so he could feel skin against skin. "Local color, lots of action, interesting characters, perfect yarn for a shut-in."
"Very considerate of you," Justin allowed, reaching down to open Brian's fly and free his dick. "And if Ethan put the two together and thought he was being targeted by O'Malley who was being paid by say, some disgruntled Irish fag, that would just be his overly active imagination, right?"
"What else?" Brian said with a moan, as Justin's knowledgeable hand stroked him gently. "Guilty conscience, maybe." He pulled the waistband of Justin's sweats lower to give him access to his lover's erection.
"Sounds reasonable," Justin began dragging kisses down Brian's chin, neck, torso. "But one flaw to this plan, brainiac."
"What's that?" Brian pushed Justin's head lower on his body, towards the perfect destination that strained towards the young blond's mouth.
"What makes you think he'll stay gone?"
"Well, I'll tell you, Justin. I felt so bad about his little injury that I thought I should keep up with him, just to make sure he was okay."
"Make sure he was okay," Justin repeated, softly smoothing Brian's cock across his cheek.
Brian shuddered with pleasure. "That's right. So, I had him tailed. And I'm such a sweetheart I had roses sent to his new address. If he moves again, he'll get roses to that address, and so on until the trial is over. I mean, after all, a man's gotta have a cut off, am I right? I'm not made of money."
Justin grinned at him, letting his tongue wander slowly up Brian's phallus and down again. "So I guess that song 'I Won't Send Roses' no longer pertains."
Brian laughed. "Maybe it's better that I don't send them, if you get my point."
"And the roses are supposed to say?"
"We know where you are. We're watching you."
"Where is he?"
"None of your concern, Justin. Just know he won't be testifying, okay? Nor will he ever come near you again."
"You Irish ARE a crafty lot," Justin teased and Brian smiled as he slipped Justin's sweats down his hips.
"You talk too much," he said with a smile. He flipped Justin back on the bed, and sucked down his erection in one hungry motion. Justin groaned as desire, love, security and affection flowed through him like river rapids. At last, he was finally home and he knew he would never leave again.
"I love you, Brian Kinney," he said softly and whatever Brian said in response was lost since it was true that you should never talk with your mouth full. Justin didn't care. Words had lost a lot of their power for him. Ethan had taught him that pretty words and empty romantic gestures were meaningless and even deceptive. Now Brian had said it to him, and that meant a lot. But more importantly, Brian had proved it to him, and that fact was incontrovertible.
Justin knew he had found his partner for life, or at least for as long as they could stand each other. He now believed that Brian felt the same way. It wouldn't be easy, but it was worth the effort. As Justin neared orgasm, he closed his eyes, imagining he heard Brian purr. But then again, maybe it was just their cat.
|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