This is Chapter 69 of the "Queer Realities" series.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Tim Reilly.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Back at the loft. Pittsburgh, May 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.
"Somewhere deep inside
Something's got a hold on you,
And it's pushing me aside,
See it stretch on forever.
I know I'm right
For the first time in my life,
That's why I tell you,
You'd better be home soon.
Stripping back the coats
Of lies and deception,
Back to nothingness
Like a week in the desert.
I know I'm right
For the first time in my life,
That's why I tell you,
You'd better be home soon...."
I can't remember leaving the building. Or getting into the Jeep. Or turning the key.
But now I'm driving, my hands clenched around the steering wheel. My eyes riveted to the road. I can't look around right now. Can't look at him.
"Not now," I say.
"Wait until we get to the loft. Then you can talk your head off!"
We get to my building in record time.
In the elevator his fingers dig into my arm. We're both holding our breath.
When I saw Tim Reilly standing outside my loft yesterday all I could think of was that it was good thing I was getting the fuck out of the Pitts. It felt like the past was biting at my heels like a pack of wolves. Everywhere I went were places Justin and I have been, reminding me of things we'd done together -- Liberty Avenue, the diner, Woody's. Even just sitting in the fucking loft made my mind work fucking overtime. I couldn't escape. And everyone I saw reminded me of the past, too. Michael getting on my fucking case. Emmett smirking at me at Woody's. Jennifer calling and leaving messages about showing the building. Lindsay wanting me to spend time with Gus. My goddamn mother and sister still spitting out the same old fucking cliches and recalling the golden days of my childhood.
And now here was Father Tim. On my fucking doorstep.
I never know what to think when I see Tim. I know that I had strong feelings about him a long time ago. Both love and hate. Gratitude and resentment. He helped me, but he hurt me, too. And in the end he fucking abandoned me. Just like everyone else in my fucking life. He turned his back and walked away. I was too much trouble. He may have had feelings for me, but in the end he'd had what he wanted from me. He fucked me. Then the guilt set in and he bailed. What a surprise. Well, fuck you, Father Tim!
He wanted to talk about Justin.
Fuck that! Words are bullshit. What more could be said?
"What difference would it make? It's already too late."
But Tim was adamant. "No! Not if you still love him! If you do, then let me in. Hear me out. Then I'll leave and it'll be up to you. You can go to Los Angeles and never come back here again. Or...."
Or... what? Live with the fucking regret the rest of my pathetic life?
"I'll give you ten minutes to say your piece. And that's it!"
It actually took less than ten minutes for Tim to tell me what I needed to know. To tell me about Justin's confusion. His guilt. His despair. And what that smug fucker Dylan Burke had done to him.
"I'd kill that fucking bastard if I could get my hands on him," I mumbled. I thought about Dylan Burke's smug, arrogant expression as he faced me in the loft and told me that he and Justin were fucking.
"And what good would that do?" Tim cautioned me. "The one thing I know about you is that you're not a violent man."
"No," I whispered. "I'm a fucking pussy! I let Justin get bashed in the head. Then I let Ron kill himself. And I left Justin alone to get preyed on by some fucking asshole! While I was sitting in Group Therapy, jerking off about my fucking 'feelings'!"
"You can't blame yourself for all that, Brian," Tim said firmly. "It wasn't your fault that Justin got bashed. And it certainly wasn't your fault that Ron killed himself. No matter how much you want to believe that you can control everything, you can't. As for what Dylan Burke did to Justin, you weren't even here. You were in rehab getting sober and trying to understand yourself. That was something you needed to do for yourself."
"I should have been able to do... something!" I feel as blindsided by Tim's news as I did when I confronted Justin in the loft. But then I wouldn't listen to him. I didn't want to listen.
"Justin is not a child," Tim reminded me. "He's a man. But what happened to him could happen to anyone -- as you well know. He confided in me because he knew he needed help. Then he stopped coming to see me and there was nothing more I could do. I can't force a person to seek therapy. Justin still needs professional help. But he also needs you. And you need him. You two can work out the details later. You can urge him to get some treatment. But you're the only one who can do it, Brian. You're the only one he trusts enough." Tim paused and looked me in the eye, challenging me. "Or you can walk away. You can both go in opposite directions, telling yourselves that it doesn't matter. You can close your hearts. Perhaps one day you'll be able to open up and let another person inside. Perhaps you'll allow yourselves to love again. But why wait? Don't waste your life, Brian. And don't let Justin waste his."
I looked at Tim. Yes, he's still a handsome man, but I could see his age clearly. The lines around his blue eyes. The gray in his hair. He's HIV+. He's on a lot of meds and that brings you down. I think he's happy with Vic, but who the fuck really knows?
"Have you wasted your life, Tim?" I asked. Because I wanted to know. So many people close to me have wasted their fucking lives. My father. My mother. My sister. Ron. Maybe even me.
"In some ways," he admitted. "I have a lot of regrets in my life. I regret that I betrayed my vows. And I regret that I betrayed you when you were vulnerable. But I also betrayed myself. Betrayed my own heart. I've spent my entire life trying to help others because I often couldn't help myself. But I've found peace, Brian. I truly have. And now I want you to find your peace. That's the only reason I'm here."
Then Tim left. Left me to sit up all night in the loft, smoking and thinking. Reflecting on my entire life and trying to understand what it was I wanted.
But I already knew the answer. What has this always been about? Finally knowing what I wanted. And knowing how to allow myself to accept it.
I went to the Video Festival. The flyer was in the pocket of my jacket. I'd picked it up at the diner last week. I knew they'd be showing Justin's video. I wanted to see it. And I wanted to see him. So I went.
I slipped into the back of the auditorium and watched the videos. Most were pretty bad. Out of focus. Shaky camera. Weird, pointless visual effects. A couple looked okay. Something that wouldn't have been too out of place on MTV.
Finally the professor introduced Justin's video. I looked around, but I couldn't see him in the audience. It was too dark. He could have been sitting anywhere.
Watching the video hit me right in the gut. It was good. Really good. But it was hard to watch. Seeing the two of us, holding each other, kissing each other, was almostmore than I could take. The video ended and the screen went dark. I suddenly felt like I'd lost something.Like the end of the video was also the end of me andJustin. The end of our relationship. So why the fuck did I come? What was I expecting to find? Some kind of answer? Some fucking revelation? I couldn't even find Justin in that auditorium. In that dark space.
I needed a smoke, so I went outside and stood on the front steps. My hands were shaking as I lit one. I'm supposed to be cutting down on the cigarettes. It's another filthy habit, but there are worse ones, I guess.
Some snotty girl walked by the theater and yelled at me: "No smoking on campus!" Cunt. So I walked down the steps and around the corner of the building behind some bushes where I could ruin my health in peace.
A few moments later Justin came out, looking for me. Yelling at me. "At least have the balls to talk to me!"
And he was right. I was a coward. I listened, lurking in the shadows, but I didn't answer him. I just hid there, holding my fucking cigarette, not knowing what the fuck to answer.
"We're the only two who matter!" he cried. "I still believe that. And I still love you." And then he went back inside.
I stood for another minute, the cigarette dangling between my fingers. Then I let it drop. I knew what I had to do. What I had to say to him. I walked back into the theater. They were giving out the awards. I waited until they handed out the last one. Then I walked up on the stage.
I don't recall what I said exactly. Something about the videos. Something about everyone looking at my ass. And something about Justin. I opened up my mouth and words came out. Words that aren't easy for me to say in private, let alone in public. Partner. Love. Something about not losing faith. I turned and saw Justin standing just off stage.
And I walked to him. Held him in my arms.
It seemed like such a simple thing. But I felt like I had just saved my own life.
The loft looks empty. So much is packed in boxes -- including the ones with Justin's name on them.
I take off my jacket and toss it over the back of the sofa, while Justin slips off his own jacket. The air mattress is right there, sheets and pillows askew, and he lays his jacket on top of it.
"Has Gus been here?" he asks. Gus always sleeps on the air mattress when he spends the night. He thinks he's camping out.
"No. He's coming this weekend," I say. "Before I leave for L.A."
"Then who's been sleeping here?" Justin frowns.
"I have." Why lie? The time for lies is over.
"Why would you sleep on this when you have the bed?" he questions. But then his face changes as he realizes something. He walks over to me and puts both hands on my arms, looking straight into my eyes. "I know you won't believe me, but... we never! I mean, Dylan and I. Yes, we fucked, but never here! Never in the loft! And never in your bed! Dylan was only here because he got beaten up by his roommate and needed a place to stay. He was here less than a week. But he wasn't sleeping with me, Brian! He slept on the sofa. By that time I could hardly even stand to look at him. All I could think of was that you were coming home from Springhurst!" He squeezes my arms. "But it got all twisted. You believed him and not me. I know what it must have looked like, Brian. And what Dylan must have told you. If you don't believe anything else, please believe this -- we never did anything in our bed! Ever!"
And I believe him. Two days ago I wouldn't have. But after talking to Tim, I know who to believe. I understand what a fucking liar Dylan Burke is. How he wanted to come between us. And what he did to Justin.
"I do believe you," is all I can say. And I put my arms around him. It's a fucking relief for both of us. I feel the tension going out of my entire body. And I feel Justin nodding, his face pressed against my chest. Yes, thank God! Yes.
I lead him up to the bedroom. We stand next to the bed. Justin starts to unbutton my shirt, but I stop him. "Not yet," I say. "We have to talk first."
"Talk? Why?" he breathes. "Brian, let's just do it! Now! I don't want to talk and ruin everything! I just want you to fuck me and make everything all better!"
"That's why we have to talk," I assert. "If talking is going to ruin things between us, then things are already too far gone to fix. Listen, I want to fuck as much as you do. I haven't had another guy's hand on my dick since our last night at Springhurst, after we finished the video. Hey, I'm about to explode here, too, but we need to make a few things clear before we do this. Fucking is not the answer to our problems."
Justin chews his bottom lip nervously. I know why he doesn't want to talk about anything, but we have to. Gorowitz said that the root of most of my problems with Justin is that we never talk about what's the matter between us. We just fuck it out and let it go. We can't keep doing that. Not anymore.
Justin nods. "So... let's talk. Have you really not fucked anyone else? No one?"
I snort. "Who the hell was I going to fuck at Springhurst? Walker Talmadge? Dr. Gorowitz? Or Sylvia? Be serious!" I put the hot, but super-straight Dr. Henry Mason out of my mind. He was never really an option anyway.
"But you've been back in town for a week and a half!" says Justin, watching me closely. "And you haven't....?" He lets the unfinished sentence hang.
"Have you?" I counter.
"No!" he declares. "Not since that night at Springhurst. The same as you."
"Not even with... Dylan?" I have to ask the question.
"I wouldn't!" His voice is shaky. "I fucking hate him! He... he keeps calling me. Saying things to me. But I delete his messages. He f...fucked me over, Brian. I thought you'd never speak to me again because of him. I thought that...." He pauses and shakes his head. "I thought we were over forever."
"So did I," I say. "But I was wrong. I was wrong about everything." I take a step back from him. "Take off your clothes."
He frowns, but then he says, "Okay," and pulls his shirt off over his head. And I take off my shirt. My tee shirt. Kick off my boots. Take off my jeans. He pushes down his own jeans and steps out of them. Then he strips off his white Jockeys. We both stand there, staring at each other.
"Are we coming or going, Brian?" Justin asks with a shy smile. Always the smartass brat. Even now.
"I'm staying -- and so are you, I hope," I say seriously. "I've undressed in front of hundreds of guys. And millions have seen my ass on the big screen. I've never hesitated to take off my clothes. I moved beyond being modest a long time ago. But I want you to look at me. Like you looked at me that first night."
Justin takes a deep breath. "I'm looking."
"A lot of people have seen me without my clothes, but only a few people have seen me naked. Truly naked. Do you know what I mean, Justin? Do you understand the difference?"
"I think so," he whispers.
"Michael has seen me naked," I say. "And Ron, when I was 16. Tim Reilly caught a few glimpses. And so did Lindsay. But they never saw me completely. I always held something back. Always. And it's been the same with you. I never showed you my full self, even when I knew you were showing me all of yourself. That you weren't holding anything back, while I was holding back almost everything."
I pause. Justin doesn't say anything. He waits, his eyes never leaving my face.
"Those two guys in London...," I begin.
"You don't have to tell me, Brian!" he interrupts. "I already know what I need to know about that. You don't have to say it!"
"Yes, I do have to say it. If not for you, then for me. I have to." I close my eyes. "It wasn't the first time it happened... that some guy forced me. But it was the first time since I've been an adult. The first time since I felt I was in control of my own life. In control of what happened to me. But I was wrong. You're never completely in control. Some things are out of your fucking hands and you have to accept that. Sometimes you see a guy with a bat... but you can't get to him in time. You can't stop him, no matter how much you want to."
I open my eyes, but Justin hasn't moved. He's standing there, listening. Waiting.
"When you go looking for trouble, when you go looking for a rough, dirty time, sometimes you get more than you bargained for. Sometimes you find two guys who don't know where to draw the line. Or maybe their line is different from yours. Maybe their line is exactly how much they can get away with, no matter what it does to you. Those two guys in London... they could have killed me in that alley. Maybe they meant to kill me. But they didn't. They beat me. They hurt me. They... they raped me. But I'm alive. I survived being raped when I was 16 and on the streets, and I survived it when I was 31 and should have known better. When there's nothing else you can do, you just have to survive. And that's what I did. Just like I didn't think I'd survive when you were bashed, but I did. And so did you. Ron didn't survive because he didn't want to continue with this life. That was his choice. And this is my choice. Not to kill myself, inch by inch, but to figure out why I really want to live -- and then to do it."
I hold my hand out to Justin and we both lie down on the bed. That's all we do. Lie there, holding each other. Still waiting.
"I was at a party," he finally says, his voice quivering. "I went into a room with Dylan. I'd had some beer and he gave me a tab of E. But... it wasn't just E. There was something else in it. I don't know what. It felt like I was tripping. Everything was all distorted. We were fooling around. Touching each other. Then sucking each other. And then... he... he started fucking me. I told him to stop, but he didn't. I struggled to get away, but I couldn't. I couldn't move. I couldn't stop him. He fucked me and there was nothing I could do. I never wanted anyone to fuck me but you, Brian. I know that's stupid. I know it's something that shouldn't matter. But it mattered to me. And it mattered that it wasn't my choice. And after that I... I couldn't admit to myself what had happened. So I let Dylan do it again. I let him fuck me." His voice is almost inaudible. "And I let other guys do it, too. In the backroom at Babylon. I don't know why I let them. I don't understand it. But it happened. I felt like I wanted to die. But I didn't die. I'm alive. And I'm here."
"And so am I. I'm here," I tell him, holding him tighter. He must sense that I already knew what Dylan did to him, but he doesn't question me. Not now. "I've done things and let things be done to me that you can't even imagine. Sometimes it was because I was curious. Sometimes it was because I was trying to survive. And sometimes it was because I only wanted to lose myself in sex. Just to make myself feel something. Anything. Even if it was pain. Even if it was nothing but physical sensation, with no fucking meaning to it. And I didn't die, either. I got through it. We both got through it. We can get through anything -- if we want to."
"I want to," he says. "The two of us."
"I'm only going to ask for one thing," I say. "Don't change your mind tomorrow and walk away. Don't. I have to know you'll be there for me, no matter what. I know it's a lot to ask, but I'm asking it anyway."
"I'll be there," Justin swears. "Just try to get rid of me! I've never wanted anyone but you since the first time I saw you. I'm not going to change my mind. Not now. Not ever. Not in this life." He pauses. "Not in this Stream. This is my Fate. I know it is. And you know it, too."
"You almost make me believe all that shit," I murmur. I put my own vision of my so-called Alternate Stream out of my head. He's right. That doesn't matter here. Nothing else matters but now.
"I do believe it, Brian," he returns. "I've seen it. I know. And now I have to ask you for something, too."
"All right. That's only fair." I press my lips against his neck. "Ask."
"Never shut me out again, Brian," he demands. "Emotionally or physically. Never turn your back on me. Never hide behind that wall and tell me I won't understand. Let me inside. Give me a chance to understand. Always. Agreed?"
"Agreed." I rub my rough cheek against his. I feel the light drift of blond hair along his jawline. Neither of us shaved today. Or yesterday. "One more thing."
"Jesus, Brian!" he cries. "Can't you fuck me and we can talk more later?"
"This is important," I insist. "Look at me."
He turns his face towards mine. "I don't see anything else here to look at."
"I'm going to fuck up," I state. "I don't know if it's going to be tomorrow or ten years from now, but it's going to happen. I'm going to fall off the wagon. I'm going to smoke a joint. I'm going to trick with some faceless guy. I'm going to go on a bender and feel like shit afterwards. And you're going to fuck up, too, Justin. I don't know how or why or when, but it'll happen. I can't promise that I'm never going to make a mistake, and neither can you. So I won't make promises I know I can't keep, and I don't expect you to, either. We're not some starry-eyed married couple. We aren't a pair of dickless fags. We're human. We're men and we're queers. I know we made those stupid 'Rules' a long time ago -- rules we knew we couldn't keep -- and I don't want us to make that same mistake again."
"I know," he nods. "I broke them. You broke them. Making rules was useless."
"But we did it because we wanted to make some kind of commitment," I remind him. "And that was the only way we knew how to do it at the time. But we set ourselves up for failure. I don't want to fail this time. You know how I feel about you -- that's the biggest commitment I can imagine making in my life."
"Then say it," he demands. "Say it and I won't need anything else."
I breathe in his hair, his skin. A sharp smell, slightly sweet, slightly acid. "I love you." Then I remember what he asked for before. "And I won't shut you out. That's my commitment."
"I shut you out, too, Brian," he confesses. "I should have told you how hurt I was by that interview you gave to 'The Advocate.' How hurt -- and how angry. But I didn't say anything. I let it fester inside me. I think that's one reason I turned to Dylan in the first place. He said so many things to me. Telling me that you were a jerk who didn't deserve me. Telling me that he... he loved me. And I listened to him. Until...." He shakes his head in dismay.
"I sent you those roses right after we were in the cabin." I remember it now. Leslie calling to warn me about the interview coming out. But I dismissed it. Just another meaningless interview -- except to Justin. "That's when the magazine came out. I know I said a lot of stupid shit, Justin, but it wasn't directed at you! I never meant to hurt you -- or insult you. I was angry at Ron when I gave it. I was never angry at you."
"I know that now," he says. "But that's how it struck me. That you were trashing our relationship. That you were trashing me. That's what it felt like. And then I got your roses... I'm sorry, Brian! I opened them and immediately started sneezing! So I trashed your roses. But it wasn't the flowers -- it was me! I was confused and angry and I reacted without thinking. I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could take everything back."
"There are things in my life I wish I could take back, too," I tell him. "But I can't. And you can't. We can't alter the past. We can only go forward."
"I love you," he whispers. "I'll never let you forget that -- or give you a reason to think it isn't true. Nothing else really matters." He holds out his hand. "Shake on it?"
"Whoa! That's pretty butch!" Now I'm laughing. But then I take his hand and squeeze it. "It's a deal."
"Deal," he repeats. Then he kisses me.
I lie back on the pillow and let him take charge. Let him work his tongue all over my lips and inside my mouth. As he sucks on my tongue I can feel it in my dick, which hardens like fucking iron.
I love getting my cock sucked. It's taking pleasure in its purest form. And when you have someone who knows what he's doing -- and since I taught Justin everything I know about cocksucking, he definitely knows what he's doing -- there's nothing like it. But it's also the most disconnected of sex acts. Maybe that's why it's what I prefer to get from strangers. Letting them worship my cock. That's how I think of it.
But when Justin does it, it moves to a different level. It has a meaning to it. And it feels different than when a trick blows me. More intimate. More sensual. It's never boring with Justin, while I'm often bored or impatient in the backroom with some guy who doesn't know what the fuck he's doing. Maybe that's my delusion, but I'm sticking to it.
Bored. That's what I said to Michael a few minutes before I first saw Justin. That I was bored. I remember the lousy trick who was mauling my dick that night. He'd looked so promising on the dance floor, but once I got him into the backroom he was pathetic. Yeah, and I was pathetic. Bored. Spinning my fucking wheels. That defined my life back then.
Until I stumbled across Justin. Leaning against that lamppost like he was posing for an ad for 'Twinks R Us'! Who the hell knows why I walked over to him? Because I was bored with my usual fare? Because the one thing I can truly say about my life with Justin is that it hasn't been boring. Orgasmic. Traumatic. Frustrating. Desperate. Satisfying. Yes to all of those. But not boring. I never would have thought that I wouldn't get tired of fucking the same guy over and over again. Even look forward to it. Revel in it. Love it.
Love him. What the fuck? It's the truth.
It doesn't take me long to come.
I run my fingers through Justin's hair, holding his head in place as my cock releases into his mouth. "Shit!" I gasp. "That was fucking amazing!"
Of course, he's smug. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "See why you need me around?" He moves up against me and slides my arm around his shoulders.
"Yeah," I say. "Next thing you'll want a gold ring around my dick to go with your name on my ass."
"That was your idea, Brian," he reminds me. "I wanted a tattoo, but I never expected you to get one, too."
"I was drunk," I say. "That's my excuse."
"You weren't drunk!" he laughs. "But if that's what you want to tell people, it's okay with me. People always claim they were drunk when they get an embarrassing tattoo!"
"No, I wasn't drunk," I admit. "And I'm not embarrassed." Justin's hand is on my cock, stroking it. "But I am getting hard again."
"I know," he says. "We aren't finished."
"Not finished," I add, putting my hand over his. "Just beginning."
Justin stares up at the rafters. At the shadows there. We didn't bother to turn on the blue neons, so it's dark in the bedroom, especially in the far corners. "I want us to fuck here, in our own bed. Then I'll really know it's true. That we're home."
"It's not the bed," I say, rolling over on top of him. "It's here. This."
"I know," he sighs. "Now make love to me."
"So don't say no, don't say nothing's wrong,
'Cause when you get back home maybe I'll be gone.
When the nights go down,
When you've had your fill,
When there's nothing left.
It would cause me pain
If we were to end it,
But I could start again
You can depend on it.
I know I'm right
For the first time in my life,
That's why I tell you,
You'd better be home soon --
That's why I tell you
You'd better be home soon."
Continue on to "I Can See Clearly Now".
©Gaedhal, April 2006.
Posted April 17, 2006.