BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Page 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 101 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Bringing It All Back Home -- Part 2", the first page.

I arrive exactly at 11:30 at Ryder Associates and wait in a plush room that looks more like a fancy hotel room than a waiting area. A few very well-dressed people are sitting there and I'm glad I dressed up a bit. I have on one of Brian's silk shirts and an old Armani jacket that Brian left behind. For Brian 'old' means from two years ago, but the Armani is still gorgeous. The pants of the suit don't fit me, of course, but the jacket is passable and it's really beautiful on its own. I also have on the black silk pants I wore last night at the gallery and the new black boots. I'll have to get Emmett to come over and help me alter some more of Brian's pants -- if we can find some other pairs that will fit over my ass!Cynthia comes out about fifteen minutes later. She looks very business-like in a burgundy suit and heels. Her blonde hair is up and she seems very no-nonsense. "Justin! Would you like to see my office?"

"Definitely!" I'd only been in Brian's office three times before, always when I was delivering something that he'd forgotten at home. Brian didn't believe in having me hang around there too much. "It's bad enough that your mother invades my work space -- I don't need YOU thinking you can drop by whenever you feel like it!" he told me. But he also gave me his number and told me to call whenever I needed to.

I remember the first time I talked to Cynthia. It was right after I moved into the loft that first time. Brian was still suffering the effects of both a concussion and being sucker punched by my dad and he'd forgotten the pain pills the doctor gave him. So, I called and told Cynthia that I would bring them down. I skipped out of lunch period at St. James and took the bus to Brian's office.

Cynthia met me at the door. She was literally gawking at me. I know now that she couldn't believe Brian had someone living with him and wanted to get a good look at me. And when she saw me in my fucking school uniform, looking like I was fourteen, I must have seemed like some dirty old fag's porno wet dream! No wonder she was staring! But I was clueless at the time. Totally clueless!

And now that same office is hers. She has her own assistant sitting at her old desk. And the first thing I see when she ushers me into her office is one of my watercolors hanging behind the desk. It's actually of Brian and I fucking under the blue lights, but it's kind of abstract, so it mainly looks like a lot of interesting dark blobs illuminated with blue. I was just learning how to do watercolors then and that was one of the first ones I finished. I wonder if Cynthia even knows what it's supposed to be. I kind of doubt it.

"Where did you get that?" I say, amazed to see it hanging there. "I painted that!" I didn't know that Brian had any of my pieces at the office, let alone hanging on his wall. And I smile, thinking of what Ted said last night about brian being happy back then. Because at the time I painted it, he was still denying vehemently that we even had a relationship. But at the same time, he brought a part of me to his office. He must have sat at this desk and looked at that watercolor of us fucking every day and laughed to himself about it!

"I know, Justin. It was on the wall over there," she points across the room. "I inherited it, I liked it, so I decided to keep it. If it's valuable some day, Brian will have to sue me to get it back!" And then she laughs. Cynthia seems happy and it's apparent that she's doing really well at Ryder. The office has all new furniture and she's made it look a lot more homey than Brian's very modern office. I doubt that Brian would have photographs of his cats on his desk -- if he had cats.

Cynthia takes me to a small Italian place not far from the office for our lunch. She knows how much I like Italian food. She orders the house salad and I order the day's special, and then we sit, looking at each other for a minute before we burst out laughing. We both have come a long, long way -- thanks to Brian!

"So, how IS the Man?" she starts.

"Getting ready for the big publicity push for the film. He faxed me his television schedule -- it's pretty packed. All the big shows. I'd be scared shitless! But I guess it doesn't faze Brian."

"NOTHING fazes Brian! At least, he likes people to think that. We know better, though, don't we?"

"Could be," I reply. I really like Cynthia. We both have the same obsession -- Brian!

"Send me a copy of that, please, Justin," she says. "I want one - and I want to give my mother one. She LOVES hearing about Brian! And she and the ladies at her hairdresser's will go wild following Brian's climb up the ladder of stardom!"

I laugh. "That's funny, MY mother likes NOT hearing anything about him!"

"I'm sure that isn't true, Justin. Your mother is just being... a mother. Maybe she's a little protective, but you've been through a lot. And Brian is... Brian!" Cynthia knows a lot about the situation between Brian and my mom over my bashing. She saw Brian every day during that time and is one of the few people who knows how he was truly suffering then.

"I know. And she and Brian do get along much better now than they used to -- when he's in town. It's hard to get them to an understanding when he's gone so much."

"It must be rough on you."

"I try to reconcile them, and it works for a while. But then... stuff keeps happening!" I say, as the food starts arriving. "My mom is so afraid that Brian will 'hurt' me that sometimes SHE ends up hurting me more. But let's move on to something better -- like this antipasto platter!" And now I'm hungry. Really hungry. Cynthia and I dig into the food and it's very good.

Once I get some food into me, I ask Cynthia the question I've been dying to ask her since she mentioned it at Woody's the night of the Promo Party. "So, what's the story with Kip?"

"Ah, Kip Thomas." Cynthia takes a deep breath and launches into her story. About how when Brian was suspended she went into overdrive, digging up dirt on Kip. And how she actually found some. About how when he was in college he'd accused a professor of sexual harassment when he didn't get the grade he wanted. And how the professor had, like Brian, been suspended and almost lost his job. But in the end the charges were dropped and Kip ended up getting the higher grade. The university capitulated, basically, and the professor was left with a black mark on his record. And Kip got what he wanted and got away with it.

"Gosh, Cynthia. No wonder Kip thought he could get away with that shit with Brian!"

"Definitely. And I was in the middle of tracking down more dirt on the little bastard when he suddenly dropped the suit. So I stopped my little Nancy Drew sleuthing. But I've kept a whole folder with all the information in it -- just in case Thomas rears his ugly head again."

"Amazing, Cynthia." And I can almost feel Kip's slimy hands on my dick. I shudder. And Cynthia notices. Cynthia notices everything. No wonder Brian couldn't function without her at Ryder!

"But there's one thing more, Justin. Something rather interesting. Kip Thomas left Pittsburgh and went to Philly and got some job there. But he must have kept in touch with someone at Ryder -- or else he still had a lot of connections in town. Because when you were hurt last year, Justin, he came back to town and took a meeting with Marty Ryder."

Now I'm feeling a little ill. Because I look Cynthia in the eye and I know what's coming next.

"Thomas claimed that HE had been blackmailed into dropping the suit against Brian. Blackmailed by some underage kid who seduced him and then threatened to call the cops and have him arrested -- unless he dropped the charges. And when he found out exactly WHO that kid was... Do I need to go on, Justin?"

I look down at my plate of penne with sausage. What am I supposed to say? Cynthia knows -- has known for over a year! SHE and Marty Ryder knew! And they never told Brian. "Why didn't you tell him, Cynthia? I mean -- Brian didn't know anything about it at the time. I didn't WANT him to know what I did. Obviously. I never told him a thing until we were in England this summer. That's when I finally let him know what I did. But never before. But you could have told him long before that!"

"I realize that, Justin. And I didn't tell him because I didn't think it was something he needed to know." Cynthia is eating a salad with all sorts of Italian greens and bits of salami and other goodies in it. She pokes her fork in it and moves the greens around, thinking. "I had worked for Brian for over five years by then and I knew when he was telling the truth about something and when he was... stretching it a bit. And when he said he didn't know the reason Kip Thomas ended the lawsuit, I believed him. And so did Marty Ryder."

"Brian didn't know! He really didn't!"

"I understand that, Justin. Both Marty and I know instinctively when Brian is telling the truth, I think. So when Kip came in crying about a 'conspiracy' orchestrated by Brian -- I pulled out my little Nancy Drew file. And Thomas slunk back into his hole. But I didn't think that Brian needed to know who had really orchestrated the 'blackmail' -- or how he'd done it. Because I knew the reason it had been done. Out of real love. And that when you felt that it was time to tell him, Justin, that you would tell him in your own way."

"Jeez, Cynthia. I don't know what to say."

"There's nothing to say, Justin. I was the one who had to see Brian every morning during that time. You were still in the hospital then. You were out of the coma, but no one had any idea whether you'd ever be able to function normally again. I used to watch Brian try to pull himself together, day after day, with hardly any sleep and almost no food, and go in and do brilliant work. Dazzle some client with his charm and his line of patter. That's why it doesn't surprise me that he's a good actor. He's been 'acting' all his life!"

"And he still is," I whisper, more to myself than anyone else. And I had no idea what bad shape Brian was in back then. According his so-called friends, it was 'business as usual' -- drugging, drinking, tricking. I never realized what he'd gone through until much later. Maybe even now I still don't understand the extent of his pain -- and the effect it still has on him. On us.

"Then Brian would completely collapse for a couple of hours -- or even a couple of days." She sets down her salad fork and takes a sip of the Chablis she's having with it. "And THAT'S when Kip Thomas attempted his little coup. And it made my blood boil to think how he'd make up such a nasty story about such an innocent boy as the one I knew Brian was seeing. The one who was in the hospital that very minute." Cynthia looks up at me and raises one eyebrow. I wonder who she learned THAT from? "So Marty Ryder and I felt there was no reason to bother Brian with the information at that time. But I thought it might be important to you, Justin. At least, I thought you'd like to know the whole story now."

"I'm glad you told me," I say. And I AM glad. Because I get depressed sometimes thinking that people are against Brian. Against ME and Brian. And it's nice to know that he has someone like Cynthia -- and even Marty Ryder, too -- who care about him and are doing things for him. Even when he doesn't know it. But it's good that I know it. That I know everything about Brian and his life. And Cynthia is a good source of that information.

But there's one more thing I'm curious about. "Cynthia, who gave Brian his bracelet?"

"What? His bracelet? You mean the one with the shells?"

"Yes, that's the one. Do you know who gave it to him?"

Cynthia just peers at me over the table. "Justin, I thought YOU gave it to him. You mean you didn't?"

"Uh uh. He was wearing it the night I met him. The same night Gus was born. I... I thought he'd been wearing it for years. He almost never takes it off. And I wanted to know... if there's some meaning to it."

"Why don't you ask Brian?" she says. But she already knows the answer -- you don't ask Brian questions like that. That may cause him to have to explain himself or show that he has an emotional or sentimental side. "Silly question," she adds.

"So, it doesn't have some deep meaning at all? That you know about?" I'm disappointed. I've always thought it was some key to Brian's life. Some person I've never guessed at. Some event I don't have an inkling of.

"Really, Justin, I thought that YOU had given it to him. I noticed him wearing it around the time I realized that you were in the picture. I guess he could have bought it when he was in Provincetown that August. But he certainly didn't have some big romance with anyone who might have given it to him. I would have noticed something about the way he was behaving. Just like I noticed immediately when you came into his life, even before I had any idea of your name. So, maybe it's just a coincidence that he was wearing the thing that night, because Brian never wears jewelry. You know that he hates even to wear a watch! But that funny bracelet!" Cynthia wrinkles her nose at me. "I'm afraid I can't give you the answer you're looking for."

"That's okay, Cynthia. It was only a thought."

"Except," she adds. "That Brian, against all expectations, is as superstitious as any caveman! If he thought that something he was wearing brought him two incredible bits of luck in the same night -- he might keep wearing it. Just in case he was right! You might try asking him, you know. I mean -- if not YOU, Justin, then who could?"

I laugh. "Maybe some things are better left a mystery."

And even after two years, Brian is still a huge mystery that I'm not yet tired of trying to solve.

Continue on to "Bringing It All Back Home -- Part 3", the next and fianl section of the chapter.

©Gaedhal, November 2002

Updated November 18, 2002