This is Chapter 20 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to "Queer Theories" for the very beginning of this saga.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Sylvia Schacter, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin encourages Brian to get involved in rehab. Springhurst, McKinley, NY. February 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"That was great," I sigh.
I'm lying on top of Brian, stretched over him like a blanket. That way I'm touching him with the most amount of my skin. Getting the most contact with Brian. I can never get enough of that. As usual his body radiates heat like a fucking furnace. It's February and very cold outside of this little room in Springhurst Rehabilitation Center. But right here, in bed, it's nice and warm.
"Of course it was great," says Brian, without any irony. No, he just keeps kneading my ass. "I'm always great. Which part did you like the best? The rimming, the sucking, or the fucking? How many stars would you rate this particular performance?"
"You actors!" I grin. "You always want a review. The critics rave: 'All Aspects of Mr. Kinney's performance were superb! This is an experience that should not be missed! Five stars: Highly recommended!'" I quote from some of the reviews of 'The Olympian' that I can remember and punctuate each one with kisses.
"What about 'Oscar-caliber achievement'?" Brian's eyebrow raises. "You forgot that one."
"Okay," I agree. "'Oscar-caliber.' How's that?" When Brian needs his ego boosted, I'm not averse to boosting it.
"Good," he replies smugly.
I glance over at the clock on his bed table. "We just have time for a shower before dinner."
Brian frowns. "Let's order a pizza. Then we don't have to leave the room."
"A pizza?" I exclaim. "You want a pizza delivered to rehab?"
"Why not?" Brian shrugs. "I'm not in Springhurst for over-eating. I've seen guys delivering food here. There are even menus tacked up on the bulletin board in the recreation room."
I stare at his face and he looks away slightly, avoiding my gaze. "Why don't you want to go to the dining room, Brian? Don't you want anyone else to see me here?"
"Of course not!" he snorts. "Don't be silly. It's just that I want to keep you for myself. And I don't like the fucking dining room. We can eat in here and listen to some CD's and have a little bit of privacy instead of having a bunch of gawkers watching us eat."
"We don't have to be down there long, Brian," I press. "We'll just eat dinner and then we can bring in the stuff from the Jeep and listen to some music and... well, take it from there. I'm going to be here for the whole weekend, after all."
"That's only two fucking days," he pouts.
I know. Only two days. "We'll make the most of it, Brian. Come on!"
There's a knock on the door and I realize that my bare ass is exposed to anyone who might decide to walk right in. I scramble under the covers while Brian laughs.
"Brian? Can you hear me in there?" says a woman's voice.
"I hear you, Sylvia," Brian calls out.
"I'll see you two at dinner, okay? In 20 minutes. I mean it!"
"I don't think that...." Brian begins.
"Brian!" says the voice, louder now. "I'll see you there. BOTH of you. No excuses!" Then there's silence.
"Was that your counselor?" I ask, finally. "Sounds like she means business."
Brian rolls his eyes. "She only wants to get a good, long look at you. They ALL do."
"All who, Brian?"
"The people in my fucking Group, that's who!" he gripes. "They all know you're coming."
"What's wrong with that?" I say. "I'm sure they're curious about your partner. But how did they know I was coming this weekend?"
Brian rolls over and pushes his face into the pillow. "I might have said something about it in Group. A couple of times."
"What did you say?" I ask quietly. I'm surprised that Brian has talked about me in Group, especially after what happened at Haven of Hope and what they said about me there.
He mumbles something into the pillow.
"What was that, Brian?"
"I said that maybe I missed you!" he grunts. "And that I couldn't wait until you got here! Satisfied now? Is that fucking lesbionic enough for you?"
"I don't think saying that is lesbionic, Brian. Not if it's true." I take a deep breath. I'm still trying to process this information. "Because I missed you. I'm not ashamed to say that I did. And I'll tell anyone who asks that I missed you. It's not a fucking crime to miss somebody."
"I guess not." Brian rolls back over to face me. "I just don't like missing someone so much. Needing someone so much. It feels... weak. It's not about you, Justin. It's about my own fucked up fears. Because what if... what if you hadn't shown up? Then I'd look like a fucking fool! And I'd feel like... like I was fucking worthless."
I run my hand over his face. Sometimes I can't stop looking at him. I never get tired of looking at him. "But I AM here. You knew I would be, Brian."
He sighs deeply and closes his eyes. "Someday you won't be."
I blink at that. "Huh? What do you mean?"
He opens his eyes. "Just what I said. The day will come when... when you won't be here. When you won't be with me. I don't know when that will be, but it'll happen. And when it does, I don't want to miss you so much that I won't be able to deal with it. That's all I mean."
"You get the stupidest ideas in that thick Irish skull of yours, you know that, Mr. Kinney? I thought YOU were always the one running off somewhere and I was always the one who was sitting around missing YOU? Remember? You're stuck with me, so get used to it!" I reach over and touch the red heart on its gold chain lying in the hollow of his throat.
Brian doesn't have an answer for that. Because he knows that I'm right. I would never leave him. The whole notion is ludicrous. After I spent so much of my fucking time and energy roping this guy in and getting him right where I wanted him, he thinks I'd throw it away? Brian gets the craziest ideas sometimes.
I smack him on the shoulder. "Let's go and try out your shower, Brian. We'll see if it's big enough for two in there."
I get out of bed and head for the bathroom, shaking my ass at him as I go. Sure enough, Brian follows. You just have to know how to play Brian. And I know how. I really do. It's easy as shaking your ass.
It takes a little longer than 20 minutes for us to get to the dining room. Certain things had to be taken care of first in the shower. I kept dropping the soap. But we aren't really late. The dining room is buffet-style; you go up and help yourself to the food whenever you come in.
"Who do you usually eat with, Brian?" I ask as we stand in the doorway, glancing around.
"Eat with?" says Brian, like it's a strange concept.
"As in sit down at a table with other people and eat food," I say. "What's the drill?"
He sighs. "I come in here. I get some food. I sit down over there." Brian points to a small table by the window. "I attempt to eat whatever shit they're serving. I leave."
"Jesus, Brian, that's depressing! You sit by yourself at every meal?"
But he shrugs. "At least I have good company that way. And I don't have to answer a bunch of fucking questions."
"You're a real misanthrope, you know that?" I pull Brian by the arm. "Come on. It's time to join your fellow losers."
Brian balks. "Thanks a fucking bunch! After I fucked you this is how you repay me?"
"No," I explain. "This is how YOU repay ME. So tell me -- who do you know in here? Where's your counselor?"
"I don't see her." Brian rolls his eyes. "I know some of those people." Brian nods to a table near the far wall. "They're... kind of...." But he's mumbling again.
"What?" I poke him with my elbow.
"Those are the people in my fucking Group!" he says loudly. Some women at the nearest table turn around to stare at us. Brian glares at me.
"All right then. That's a start."
I grip his arm firmly and steer Brian over to the table. "As the Master once told Mikey, 'You go, you eat, you talk' -- what's the big deal?"
"The Master didn't know what the fuck he was talking about," Brian grumbles. But he lets me lead him to the table. I think he really wants to sit with someone. Brian isn't as much of a loner as he likes to appear, he just doesn't want it to look like he's making the effort to be friendly. Brian detests 'friendly' people. Except for me, of course. So integrating Brian into the simple niceties of human interaction is one of my jobs. Especially here, where it's going to help him make progress in his treatment. That's one of the things Group is for. They meet every day and the members of the Group are supposed to 'bond' and share their feelings with each other. That must be pure torture for poor Brian, who hates to talk about his feelings even with me, let alone with a bunch of strangers. Not to mention that Brian also hates to be a part of any kind of organization. Brian is like Groucho Marx, who didn't want to belong to any group that would have someone like him as a member.
Tim Reilly had a long talk with me a few days ago. He called me to talk about Brian and he explained a little bit about Group Therapy and the whole idea of sharing your feelings and all of that stuff that makes Brian crazy. Brian had such a lousy experience at Haven of Hope that I can understand why he doesn't want to deal with these people, but Springhurst is such a different place that he should at least give it a chance.
Tim started off talking about Brian, but we actually ended up talking mainly about me. About what I'm feeling and what I've been through with Brian and the bashing and all that. I know that I need to talk about that stuff with someone, but I don't know if that someone is Tim Reilly. He was encouraging me to see a therapist myself, but I've been as bad as Brian about that. I know I have. Before I didn't want to deal with it and now I don't want to dig it all up again. And I told that to Tim.
Besides, I still have a load of issues with Tim Reilly, not the least of which is his tangled history with Brian. Brian just passes it off. He claims that Tim is nothing but an old fuck he barely remembers, but I know that's a lie. I suspected there was something more between them when I saw Brian and Tim looking at each at the dinner at Papagano's last year. You could feel the tension -- and the vibe -- between them. I can always feel that tension between Brian and any of his old tricks. It's just something that I can sense, like a cat can sense a snake. That's also how I kind of knew there had been something between Brian and Ben the first time they met -- supposedly -- at Babylon. There was a look that passed between them that said it all. Of course, Michael was oblivious to it and Brian hustled me away before I had a chance to open my big mouth and give it away.
But I really knew that something intense had happened between Brian and Tim when Tim came to the loft after Brian got back from England last fall. When he wanted to 'apologize' to him or whatever the fuck that was all about. Brian just freaked out. And I don't blame him for freaking out. I mean, Tim Reilly was a priest! I know that priests have sex lives, especially gay priests. Brian and I had a four-way with Father Tom and some other guy at the Adonis Baths before Brian found out that his trick was the new priest at his mother's church. I guess even really religious people like a fuck occasionally, even if they don't like to admit it!
But it was different between Tim and Brian. Or it should have been. Tim was supposed to be helping Brian, not fucking him! So I have big issues with Tim Reilly. And now he wants me to come to his office to have a heart-to-heart talk. I admit that it felt sort of okay talking to him over the phone, but I keep thinking that Tim only wants to get rid of some of his guilt over Brian and he's using helping me as one way to do it. But he did steer me to Ben and his friend, Dr. Gorowitz, so I do have to thank Tim for that. I don't know. I have to think this whole thing through before I start confiding in Brian's old lover, the former Father Tim.
In the dining room the people at the table see me and Brian coming towards them and they all sit up, expectantly. I feel Brian tense.
"Do you mind if we sit down?" I ask one woman. She's in her late twenties and has a round, friendly face. She looks like a regular housewife. It makes me wonder what she's in Springhurst for.
"Sure, sweetheart!" she says, pulling out a chair. "I'm Bobbie Jean. Sit down and take a load off."
I hang on to Brian before he has a chance to bolt. "I'm Justin. You all know Brian. He's in your Group -- right?" And they all nod and murmur. Brian is glaring at me. "I'm starving. We're going up to get our food, but we'll be right back!" I tug at Brian's arm and we head for the food line.
"You're really pushing things, Sunshine," Brian huffs in my ear.
"I don't like the thought of you sitting alone in this place every day. That's depressing. You're never going to make any progress if you won't talk to people!"
Brian sniffs. "I talk to Dr. Gorowitz. He's the only one who matters."
"They wouldn't have Group here if they didn't think it was important, Brian. These people don't seem judgmental. This is NOT Haven of Hope. At least give it chance, okay?"
Brian shrugs, but his face is set. "You're going to pay for this, you little twat."
"You can take it out in trade," I say, picking up a tray. "Let's see -- there's fried fish, vegetarian lasagna, and chicken."
"Yum," says Brian.
"Don't be a grump. The food doesn't look half bad."
"Which half?" asks Brian. But he takes a piece of chicken and puts it on his plate. I add some green beans, mashed potatoes, and a lot of gravy on top. "Are you trying to kill me with all that gravy?"
"Eat it!" I order. And I take a piece of chicken, potatoes, green beans, and a big chunk of the vegetarian lasagna. Then I take salad for both of us.
The lady serving the food looks at my visitor's pass and grins at me. "Fill up your plate! And you can come back for seconds, hon!"
"Thanks!" I grin back.
"Everyone loves little Sunshine," Brian bitches. "Gag me."
"Bite me," I tell him.
"You can count on it," he replies. "Later."
Back at the table Brian stares down at his food instead of at the people in his Group. I try to imagine what they talk about every day. What does Brian say in Group -- if anything? At dinner they are all chatting like they know each other really well. Talking about the weather (cold and snowy) and the food (better since they got a new cook last month), and gossiping about the staff and the other patients. I guess that Brian is usually a pretty big topic of conversation, but they can't very well talk about him when he's sitting right here. And now they'll be able to talk about me, too.
"This is my first real visit to Springhurst, but I'll probably be here every weekend to stay with my partner," I volunteer.
The members of the Group exchange looks, like they don't really believe that. The same round-faced woman -- Bobbie Jean -- nods. "That will be nice, um... sweetheart."
"Justin," I remind her.
"Sure, Justin, sweetheart," says Bobbie Jean. "Don's wife comes about once a month and stays for a day or two. I mean, when she's got the time."
An older man with glasses frowns. "She only wants to check up on me."
"You need someone to check up on you, Donny!" giggles another woman with bleached blonde hair in a big, puffy hairdo. I keep wondering what all these people are in Springhurst for. This woman looks like a pill-popper to me. Or maybe she's a sexaholic! "I'm Gloria, by the way."
Brain makes a noise in the back of his throat. I know this kind of chitchat is agonizing for him. And with five women in the Group and only two other men, both totally unfuckworthy, it's even worse. No wonder he doesn't look forward to meals.
"So what else goes on here on the weekends?" I ask.
"Tomorrow there's a trip into Buffalo to go to the big mall there, the Galleria," says Gloria. "But... you have to be cleared to leave first." They all look at Brian. He's obviously not cleared to leave Springhurst yet. Like he's still on probation or something. I'll have to find out from his counselor when he's cleared to leave and we can go out somewhere.
"Maybe we can do that next week," I suggest. "I have a Jeep. How far is Buffalo?"
"A little over an hour," says the other man in the Group, Doug. He's in his thirties, thin and nervous. Maybe he's a crystal meth addict; they're usually skinny and wired. "There's other stuff to do, but...." He glances at Brian. "Probably nothing you two guys would be interested in."
"Like what?" There has to be something we can do. I mean besides stay in the room and fuck. Not that I don't want to do that, but that's not the idea. I'm leaving in a couple of days and after I'm gone I don't want Brian spending all of his time hiding in his room, trying to call or e-mail me every hour of the day and night.
"Well," says Gloria, hesitantly. "Tonight is Bingo Night."
"Oh, yeah?" I say. Then I smile at Brian.
"Justin!" Brian looks at me in horror. "No fucking way!"
"We'll see," I answer.
In the recreation room there are tables set up and a lot of people -- mainly women -- are already sitting at the tables, spreading their Bingo cards in front of them. In one corner of the room is a podium and a chalk board, and on the table next to the podium is a small wooden drum.
"All you have to do is sit with me while I play," I tell Brian.
"You're totally nuts, you know that?" he informs me. "We could be back in the room, fucking our brains out!"
"Brian, we fucked when I got here. And we fucked right after dinner. And I know we're going to fuck all night," I remind him. "Think of this as a breather between rounds."
"This must be Justin." The dark-haired woman with the clipboard comes in behind us. "I saw you two at dinner, but I didn't want to interrupt your meal."
"You should have," says Brian. "It was fucking excruciating. This is Sylvia, by the way. And Sylvia, this is Justin. But you've obviously figured that out already."
"I think I did." The woman smiles and shakes my hand. "Hello, Justin. It's nice to see you getting Brian to interact with people. It's not healthy for him to think that he doesn't have to deal with regular people because he's a big movie star. It isn't good for his self-image."
"Oh," I reply. "Brian was like that before he was famous. In fact, he actually was worse before he was famous. He was a lot ruder then. Brian doesn't really like people. Except for me, of course."
Brian rolls his eyes and Sylvia laughs. "I can see that. And you two must have quite a time together."
"We manage," Brian says shortly. Then Sylvia goes over to talk to one of the other counselors.
"She's nice, Brian," I say as we find a table and sit down.
"Sylvia's okay," Brian admits. And that's huge for him. Because I can tell that he likes Sylvia. He just doesn't want her to know it.
I go over to the front table and get a handful of Bingo cards and some wooden markers to put on the numbers when they call them. I was just going to take two, one for me and one for Brian, but I notice that most people have a bunch of cards. I guess that makes for a better chance to win. I spread my cards out on the table.
"Are you going to play all of those Bingo cards?" Brian nudges me.
"Yup," I nod. "That way I'll win faster!"
One of the female counselors conducts the game, spinning the drum, calling out the numbers, and then writing them on the board. When someone wins she hands them a small prize. I have a lot of cards to look at and some of the women sitting up front are really fast. They have even more cards than I do, but they scan their numbers much quicker. It isn't very long until the counselor calls, "G-55!" and one of them shouts, "Bingo!"
"Shit!" I say.
"I can't believe I'm sitting here. Someone wake me up, please!" Brian prays. "You know that I wouldn't do this for anyone else in the fucking world, don't you?"
"I had FOUR of those numbers, Brian!" I point to my cards in frustration. The woman wins a phone card to make calls from the recreation room pay phone. "I'll get it next time."
"You have a cellphone, Justin," Brian points out. "You don't need a fucking phone card."
"I don't care! It's winning the game that matters, not the prize!"
But another woman sitting in the front takes the next game. She wins a package of cookies.
"I wanted those cookies!" I complain.
"Jesus! I thought you said the prize didn't matter," says Brian. "Remind me never to take you to Vegas. I'd have to carry you home in straightjacket."
I lose the next game. And the next. And the next, too. "I think these cards are jinxed, Brian. I'm going to get some more."
"You already have more cards than you can play." Brian reaches over and rearranges the cards in front of me. "You're missing half of the numbers because you aren't finding them fast enough. Those females are a bunch of Bingo sharks. My Old Lady used to play Bingo with her pals at St. Theresa's every Wednesday evening. She said it wasn't gambling as long as Jesus and Father Harrigan were running the game. There's no fucking way you're going to beat these women."
Sure enough, I lose the next two games. "Double shit!"
"You missed another number, Sunshine." Then Brian laughs. "Having fun?" Brian leans over and rubs my crotch under the table. "Relax. Memorize the numbers on your cards, then you won't have to keep looking at them when she calls out the numbers. You'll know immediately if you have the number."
"That's easy for you to say, Brian," I huff. "You're only observing!"
"Watch this," he says. He stares at all the cards, memorizing them. Then, when the counselor starts calling out the numbers, he puts the markers on the cards almost without looking at them. And he's fast, too. A lot faster than I am.
"Bingo," says Brian, putting his finger on one of the cards. Sure enough, he has all five numbers. "Bingo!" he says, much louder. "Fuck. I won."
I throw my arms around him and give him a big kiss. "I knew you could do it!"
Brian wins a gift certificate for a latte and a muffin at a coffee shop in the village. "That's actually something I might use -- if they ever let me outside this joint."
Sylvia comes over to our table. "Congratulations, Brian. And if you want to, you can go into McKinley and redeem your prize."
"You mean that Elvis can leave the building?" Brian raises an eyebrow.
"Yes, Brian. You're off probation as of tomorrow," she says. "Oh, and Brewed Awakenings has very good muffins. Enjoy yourself."
Brian pulls me to my feet. "The first rule of gambling is to quit while you're ahead. Good night, Sylvia." We walk back to Brian's room. "You know, I never won anything before."
"Sure you have, Brian! You did sports in high school. And you won all those advertising awards. Not to mention the stuff you've already won for 'The Olympian.' And all your nominations for Best Supporting Actor!"
"But not something like this. Not a game where I got a prize." Brian smiles. "Those were your cards, Justin. I was just helping you. So you were really the winner."
"What if you give me my share of the prize right now?" I say as Brian opens the door of the room. "That way you can have the gift certificate all to yourself."
"That's exactly what I was planning." He pushes me inside and closes the door behind us. His arms wrap around me from behind and he bends down to run his tongue around the edge of my ear. "You said something about fucking all night? Because I think that can be arranged."
"Sounds like a good way to cap off a winning evening," I whisper, undoing my pants and sliding them down. "Let me congratulate the winner personally."
"Bingo!" is all Brian says as he holds on to me tightly. "Bingo!"
Continue on to "Open My Eyes".
©Gaedhal, June 2004.
Posted June 29, 2004.