THINGS HAVE CHANGED

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 1 of Chapter 108 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Humpty Dumpty -- Part 3", the previous chapter.

The narrator is Brian Kinney, with Dorian Folco, Inspector McCain, Dr. Armstrong, Sister McGinn, Kenroy Smith, Harry Collins, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian is in deep denial about what has happened to him. London, October 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.

"Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose.
Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose.

People are crazy and times are strange.
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed."

"Things Have Changed" by Bob Dylan.

***

I wish everyone would just leave me alone.

Leave me the fuck ALONE!

Especially Dorian. I mean, I know he means well, but he's always THERE. Watching me. Watching OVER me. It's fucking driving me crazy.

Yes, I know that Dorian feels guilty about... what happened. I fucking KNOW that! But doesn't he know -- isn't it OBVIOUS? -- that it isn't HIS fault? It isn't anyone's fault. Except my own. Dorian couldn't have done anything to stop me from going out. No one could have stopped me from doing what I was going to do... well, almost no one. But Dorian must know that he could never have stopped me. Couldn't have helped me. I was determined to get fucked up -- and I got fucked up. End of story. Now leave it! Forget it... Please.

And now Dorian is trying to make up for it by hovering over me. He hasn't been out of this room for more than five minutes at a time in the last two days. He sleeps here. He eats here. He pisses here. He makes his phone calls here. He has that creepy Ivan bring him clean clothes and he changes here! I mean, GO HOME, Dorian! Please. Just go home.

Between Dorian and the doctors and the fucking cops, I swear I'll jump out the window if I have to stay in this place one more minute.

That plain clothes inspector and his uniformed sidekick have been here four times. Four fucking times! Asking me the same fucking questions over and over again. Showing me photo albums of their favorite limey scumballs. Trying to get me to identify someone. Anyone. Fucking forget it! I've really had it with all that! I told this cop about a hundred times that I don't remember anything! I didn't see the guys that... attacked me. I... I didn't see anyone! I just remember... falling down. Trying to catch myself. And not being able to.

And that's IT.

There isn't anything else. There can't be anything else.

So, fuck it! Leave me alone. Just....

"Is it this one, Mr. Kinney?" the plain clothes cop says, pointing to one of the mugs in the book. They all look the same. Shaved heads. Pudding faces. No necks. They all look like those two scumbags... the same. Just the same! What more do they want?

"No! I mean, how should I know?" I sigh. "I... don't know." My eyes ache from looking.

"What about this one, sir?"

"No. I can't remember," I insist. "What's the point of this, anyway?" Why does he WANT me to remember? Just to satisfy himself? What about ME? What the fuck is it all about?

"Perhaps your memory will be jogged a bit by looking at these photos, Mr. Kinney," he replies, staring at me. Willing me to spill something. Anything.

"Pointless," Dorian mutters, from his chair in the corner.

"I'm simply doing my job, Mr. Folco," says the police inspector, glancing over at Dorian. "Let's look at this book once more, Mr. Kinney, shall we?" And he starts at the fucking beginning.

"That guy just wants to torture me, Dorian!" I plead, after the inspector leaves late Thursday afternoon. "Can't you just get rid of him?" Please, Dorian! Just get rid of this guy!

"Brian, he's right. The man is just doing his job. He's... trying to find the criminals who... who robbed you." And Dorian looks away. He can't look me in the eye. He can't face this whole thing anymore than I can, so why does he even pretend?

"I... don't care about finding them, Dorian," I say. I'm fucking shaking every time those guys show up here! I... can't deal with their questions anymore. "I don't care. Just make them go away."

"I can't, Brian. I can't," he answers. And he still can't look directly at me. He can't. Or he won't. Dorian knows. He knows what really happened. He knows everything. They all know everything, but they keep up this fucking charade! Waiting for ME to say something. To say that I....

I can't! I fucking fell down. There isn't any more.

And then the cops come and we go through the books once more.

At least I haven't seen that one doctor again. That guy who was in charge when I got here. I'm still pretty fuzzy about that first day, but I remember HIM. Fucking homophobic prick! I remember what he was saying. What he was asking. I know Dorian and Sir Ken both chewed him new assholes, but it didn't seem to faze the bastard. Then Dorian brought in his own doctor, who called in another guy on the staff, Dr. Armstrong, to take over. This doc is okay. He doesn't have that attitude. He doesn't treat me like I'm the fucking one on trial.

Sir Ken has been here every day, too. I remember that he was here when I woke up. No, I think I was awake before I saw him. Wednesday morning. Right. Dorian was here. He was here from the beginning. Then Sir Ken was here later. Shit! It makes my head hurt! Makes it hurt trying to think. To remember....

Friday morning the new doc comes in and checks me over. Dorian is asleep in the chair with a blanket over him. That Irish nurse fusses over him almost as much as she does over me. Joking around with him. Bringing him blankets and pillows. Snacks. Those hard ginger cookies and tasteless crackers. Biscuits, they call them. And always making tea.

"Here you go, deary," says Sister McGinn, giving a little wake up nudge. "A nice cup of tea will make you feel right as rain, won't it? That's a good boy. Drink it all up."

Which is great. Except she's talking to Dorian, not me.

Better that she has HIM to flutter over. He's much more personable. She can get Dorian to chat with her. And he's grateful for her little attentions. Yes, better she fidgets all over Dorian than me. Because then I can close my eyes and rest and not have to think or answer any questions. Do nothing. That's all I feel like doing. I shut my eyes again. For about three minutes.

Then Dr. Armstrong bounds in. He's chipper early in the morning. So chipper. I bet he gets up and jogs five miles in the rain like that fucking Dr. Dave!

"You are looking much better, Brian," he says, touching a scratch on my forehead.

"Am I ready for my close-up, then, Mr. DeMille?"

"Perhaps not quite that," he replies, not getting the reference. Jesus. I really did spend too much time around Ron if I'm making 'Sunset Boulevard' jokes.

He checks my wrist. My side. He shines his little penlight into my eyes, looking deep into my brain, I guess. He looks at those cuts all over my body. They aren't so bad. Most of them are hardly even scratches. It's just that they bled so much. That was the thing. And those scrapes on my face that were so raw. That's what made it all seem so much worse than it really was.

Because it was all nothing. Nothing at all.

I keep telling them that. Fucking telling them! But no one will listen. No one....

"The tests came back," says Dr. Armstrong, peering at the chart in his hands.

Dorian sits up suddenly, almost knocking his tea on the floor. "The tests?" he says.

"Yes," says Dr. Armstrong, turning to him. He pulls Dorian over to the side. "The tests of the semen samples from the kit were all negative. They seem to be clean of any virus, which is what we hoped for. Of course, he should be tested in three months, then at six months again for any sign of HIV. That's a given. You don't want to take any chances. I've prepared a copy of the report for Inspector McCain. He'll want that for his case records."

"But they were really negative?" Dorian repeats, as if he can't believe it.

"Yes. For now," Dr. Armstrong responds. "Which bodes well for down the line."

"You know that I can hear you," I say. "I'm not deaf. I hate when people talk about me like I can't understand English."

"Sorry, Brian," says Dorian, walking over to the bed. "I thought you were sleeping."

The doc turns to me. "You are quite lucky, you know that, don't you, Brian?"

"Sure. I'm the luckiest prick in town. Always have been," I reply, sarcastically. "Always will be."

"Brian...." warns Dorian.

"What the fuck, Dorian. What difference does it make?" I say. And I look away.

"Quite a bit of difference, Brian," answers Dr. Armstrong. "I think you know that. You may present a brave face, but I think you understand just how this might have truly been a tragic situation. How it STILL might be."

"I've already heard the lecture, doc," I say. "From that first guy. And from Dorian. And from that cop. And from Sir Ken. I know the drill."

"Yes, but knowing it and truly acting as if you understand the consequences of it..." The doc pauses. "Please, Brian. Don't turn away from people who have your best interests at heart."

"Right. My best interests."

"Doctor, what about discharging him?" asks Dorian. "Because he's not terribly comfortable here."

The doctor raises his eyebrows. "Mr. Folco, a hospital isn't meant to be a vacation resort. It's not about comfort. It's about healing. Evaluating. Testing."

"I know, but you've been doing that for almost three days," Dorian questions. "And if the tests are negative. And if Brian is all right to leave here... wouldn't he be better off at home?"

"Possibly," answers Dr. Armstrong. "As long as I know that there's someone to care for him there."

Great! Just the ticket! "I don't NEED anyone to fucking take care of me!" I say. "I NEED for people to leave me the fuck alone!" But they just ignore me. Dorian and the doctor talk around me. Always. Everyone thinks that I don't know what's best for me. That I'm too stupid or too fucked up to take care of myself. Why don't they just turn me over to Ron and have done with it?

"Oh, I'll make certain that there's someone with him at all times, doctor," Dorian assures him. "He'll be well cared for."

That's all I need to hear. Someone with me ALL the time. Hovering over me. Like Dorian is doing. Or that creepy Ivan sitting and watching me. "Why don't you guys just chain me to the bed and wheel me from room to room?"

"Be quiet, Brian," says Dorian. "Don't be a troublesome patient. I'm trying to talk to the doctor."

Yes, I fucked up. I admit that. But no one deserves THIS kind of punishment! Please! Dorian is acting like he's my goddamn mother. And that's the last thing I need -- another mother. I don't even need the one I have. And she sure as hell doesn't need ME!

"I think that I can prepare the release papers, Mr. Folco. But Inspector McCain will be coming again early this afternoon and he'll want to speak to Mr. Kinney at least once more."

Dorian huffs away. "But I was planning to take him out of the city for the weekend for a little rest! Once his solicitor releases his statement at 5:00, then they will all want to speak with Brian. All the reporters. And I want him out of town before that happens!"

The doc tilts his head at Dorian. "I can't guarantee that the police will allow him to leave right now, Mr. Folco. Perhaps you should postpone this statement."

Dorian sighs. "We've already held off for two days, doctor. I don't think we can let it go much longer. Reporters -- and other people...." Dorian glances at me. "Are already calling my office AND my house because they've gotten wind that we have canceled Brian's television appearances. So they know something is up. We have to make a statement or else they will start printing their speculations. And things could get out of control from there! Gossip. People saying things to the press."

"No physicians from this hospital will release any information to the press, I can assure you, Mr. Folco."

Dorian frowns. "Not even... Dr. Reid?" I know that Dorian wants to call him by the name we all know the man by -- Dr. Arsehole.

"He had better not, because he's already had your complaint and Brian's lodged, as well as one by Sir Kenneth Fielding. So Dr. Reid is playing it very close to the vest. I think that he realizes that any idle talk coming from this institution will be assumed to have come from him. Which is why I don't think he will say anything."

"Faint hope," mumbles Dorian.

"Does that mean I can get the fuck out of here, doc?" I say, finally able to get a word in.

"Yes, Mr. Kinney -- you may 'get the fuck out of here' -- if you wish."

"Thank God," I say.

Dr. Armstrong smiles at me. He's an arrogant SOB like all the other doctors around here, but he's not really a bad guy. He even acts like he doesn't think I'm the world's biggest idiot -- even if I am. Then he picks up his chart and strolls out.

Sister McGinn comes in. I like her best of all the nurses, even if she is a little too fond of Dorian. She reminds me of some of my female relatives when I was a kid. Same weird sense of humor and same bossy personality. Like she's spanking you and making a joke about it at the same time. I can relate to that.

"Brian," says Dorian. "I'm going to call Kenroy Smith and then Harry to let them know we are definitely coming down to Sussex for this evening."

"Sure, that's okay with me. I guess." I know I don't sound very enthusiastic.

"And I must call Ivan and tell him to get all your things packed so that Mr. Smith can pick them up."

"Listen, Dorian...." I pause. I know Dorian is trying to do something nice by taking me out of town, but I don't know how I feel about going to Harry Collins' house again. The last time I was there was when Justin and I went riding and had our picnic by the river, and.... I don't know. I don't want to think about that. Being happy seems so fucking far away. I don't want to remind myself of how far away.

"What?" he asks, expectantly.

"Nothing," I reply. "Nothing at all." And Dorian goes out, clutching his fucking cellphone. That thing is never out of his hand.

The Irish nurse immediately goes over and folds up the blanket that Dorian had over him and sets it and his pillow in the cabinet. "Are you leaving this afternoon, dear?"

"I hope so, Sister," I say. "Doc says it's a go."

"That's wonderful. You'll be much happier when you get home."

Right, I think. Whenever THAT will be. "Sure, Sister."

"Your friend has been so devoted, staying here 'round the clock here with you. He's been so worried. He's hardly slept or eaten. And he was very upset at Dr. Reid. I can see that Dr. Armstrong is much more satisfactory for you both."

"Yeah, I know. He's a good friend, Sister." And I feel like a shit for being annoyed at Dorian. "But Dorian is just a friend. That's all." Christ, why do I care what she thinks of me and Dorian? Why does it matter? Especially now.

"I hope your friend is bringing you some fresh clothes. And I'll give you a nice bath before you leave!"

Oh, fine! "Listen, Sister, do you think I can take a real shower around here somewhere? Not that I don't... um... enjoy you ladies washing me and everything, but I HAVE to take a shower! I can't stand it anymore." I can't stand myself, really. If I could only get clean. Really clean.

She shakes her head and giggles. "Now dear, with your wrist and your side all taped up -- you wouldn't want to get your wrappings all wet, would you?"

"Maybe you could take them off -- and I could take a shower -- and then you could put them back on again? Maybe?" I try to give her an appealing face. Why can't I just give her that look Justin gives people that makes them do whatever he wants?

And she laughs at me. Which means she's going to come around with that bucket again and soap up my dick. I never thought THAT would be something I'd dread. Haven't they ever heard of male nurses in this hospital? Jesus!

One of the younger nurses brings in the food tray. If British food is unspeakable, you can just imagine what British hospital food is like. This is real National Health cuisine, courtesy of Her Majesty's government. Fucking socialized medicine and socialized food! Give me good old over-priced American health care and bad American food any day! I can't even identify half the stuff on the plate, let alone eat it. At least if we do go out to Firelands this weekend I'll get something decent to eat. Harry Collins' Welsh cook can make even Yorkshire Pudding taste like something more than just burned batter.

"Will you be going back to the States soon, dear?" Sister McGinn asks me while I'm trying to sort out the eggs from whatever the white stuff next to them is.

"I... I don't know," I say. "I do want to go back home. To my real home. But I suppose it depends on if I can salvage any of the stuff I was supposed to do here. Some of the interviews, maybe."

"I think Mr. Folco intends for you to have a bit of rest -- and not to be running around doing interviews and things."

"But that's why I came to England, Sister. To publicize my movie here." Yes, otherwise Terra Nova Studios will probably insist that I go back to Los Angeles and wait there until the beginning of November when I have to head for New York with Jimmy and do all THOSE television appearances. Shit. That's less than a week and a half away. What a time to fuck up my face! Maybe a little make-up can cover up the worst -- if it isn't mostly healed by then.

"What about Justin?" Sister McGinn says all of a sudden.

I look up. "What did you say?"

"Why don't you go and stay with him back in the States? With Justin?"

"How the fu... how do you know about Justin, Sister?"

"Weren't you after asking for him when you came in here the first day? And then a bit later on, too," she says with Irish determination. "Don't you remember that, dear?"

"No. I... I don't. I don't remember that at all."

"Mr. Folco said that he's in the States. So perhaps you might go there and be with him. Is that where home is? Is he waiting there?"

I don't know what to say to the woman. I know that Dorian called Justin that first day to tell him about what happened to me. Or at least the abridged version. And I talked to him myself for about fifteen minutes later that night, letting him know that I was okay. Dorian dialed the number for me on his cellphone and held it for me to talk to him. But when I tried to call him again last night, I got the machine. I must have gotten the time all fucked up. He must still have been at class. I can try to call him again tonight from Harry's. I won't be so messed up on the painkillers then, like I was Wednesday. I can be more coherent. I can make him believe that nothing really happened. That nothing is wrong. That I'm really okay. Really! That....

"I said, do you think you will, then?"

"Think I will what, Sister?" I reply, completely confused.

"Go to the States to see your friend?" Sister McGinn says, patiently.

"I... don't know, Sister." And I don't. How can I face him? Especially when he finds out the whole story? The whole truth about what happened? About what I've done to myself? How can he even fucking LOOK at me? I can't even look at myself.

I push away the tray and she takes it away. She doesn't even try to coax me to eat it.

I just sink back and close my eyes. I feel like I'm falling down. Again.

Continue on to "Things Have Changed -- Part 1, Page 2", the next page of this section.

©Gaedhal, February 2003.

Updated February 3, 2003.