This is Part 2
The other sections in "The Angel Stream".
Pittsburgh, December 2004
Babylon on Christmas Eve was loud, gaudy, and hot.
The go-go boys were dressed in red and green g-strings and Santa hats and silver Christmas trees decorated with plastic balls dotted the main floor.
Brian immediately went to get a drink, but he turned up his nose at some of the disgusting concoctions they were offering for Christmas. Eggnog Cosmos sounded horrible and Candy Cane Cosmos looked even worse, but guys were downing them left and right. Brian sneered and ordered an Absolut.
Emmett and Ted were leaning against the stairs, watching the dance floor. Theodore's arm was around Emmett, which meant they must be 'on' again. Their up-and-down relationship had been a running joke for the past three years. They'd be hot and heavy for a few months and then have a big blow up and not speak to each other for weeks. Then, just as suddenly, they'd be back together again as if nothing had happened. Their last break-up had been a few months before, something about Emmett breaking one of Ted's rare Renata Tebaldi records. But now they seemed happy as clams. The two of them made Brian want to puke.
"Hey, Bri!" Ted called cheerily. "We wondered when you'd get here."
"I was at Lindsay and Mel's watching Gus open his presents," Brian offered.
"That is SO cute!" gushed Emmett. "Mel brought Gus and the baby into the diner the other day when I was eating lunch and I was having the best time with them!" Em fluttered his eyes at Ted. "Makes me want to have one of our own. Right, Teddy?"
Ted grimaced, but then he said, "Maybe, Em." He took a big gulp of his drink -- one of the Candy Cane Cosmos. "Someday in the far, far future."
"But we'll have plenty of room!" Emmett countered. "Did Teddy tell you that we're buying a house, Brian? One with a white picket fence and a nice big backyard! And a swing set!"
"Congratulations," Brian deadpanned. "Are you knocked up yet?"
Ted turned a lovely shade of green, but Emmett only giggled. "I think a surrogate mother is the way to go. That way the baby will really and truly be ours. Although those Chinese babies are AWFULLY adorable!"
But Brian didn't smile. "Having a kid isn't like picking out a puppy at the pound, Emmett. In fact, maybe getting a dog and seeing if you two idiots are capable of taking care of one without killing it might be a good idea before you drag some poor baby into the picture!"
"You're such a fucking bitch, Brian!" Emmett huffed.
"Yeah, but at least I don't live in a faggot's dream world!" Brian downed his Absolut. "Where the hell is Michael?"
Ted pointed to the dance floor. "He and Ben are out there. But they aren't staying long. They don't want to leave Hunter alone on Christmas Eve."
Brian snorted. "That kid is fully able to take care of himself, even on Christmas! They'll probably go home and catch him giving Santa a blowjob."
Ted rolled his eyes and Emmett glared at Brian. "Is nothing sacred to you?" Emmett demanded.
"Not really," Brian shrugged. "Why should it be?"
"Brian!" Michael called, pushing through the crowd. "We were just about to leave, but I didn't want to go without seeing you!"
"So? You're seeing me," Brian grumbled. "Hey, Ben." He eyed Michael's partner. Ben always looked away whenever they saw each other, as if he felt guilty about something. But they'd fucked long before Ben ever met Mikey, so what was his problem?
"Are you coming to Deb's tomorrow for Christmas dinner, Brian?" asked Ben.
Brian shook his head. "I don't think so. I might stop at Lindsay's in the afternoon and see Gus, but I don't feel like doing that whole holiday charade. It's a pain in the ass."
"But it's Christmas, Brian!" Michael insisted. "It's only once a year. And Ma is expecting you!"
"I said that I don't feel like going!" Brian snapped. "So give it a fucking rest, Mikey! Holidays are nothing but bullshit. It's fine if you're four years old, but a bunch of adults making a fuss over a stupid holiday is majorly fucked up!"
"But since Vic died...." Michael went on.
Brian winced at the mention of Vic's name. Vic's death and Brian's cancer diagnosis had happened almost simultaneously and Brian still had troubling dreams connecting Vic's demise with his own illness and loss of perfection. The last thing he wanted to be reminded of tonight was death and the ominous shadow that Brian felt was hanging over his pathetic life.
"Why don't you shut up, Michael?" Brian blasted, setting down his empty glass. "Go home and read fairy tales to your Sonny Boy and leave me the fuck out of it!"
Brian pushed past his oldest friend and headed for the dance floor. In earlier years Brian would already have picked out a trick and begun the process of cutting him from the herd. There would be a quick trip to the backroom and then the cycle began again until Brian felt satisfied.
But there was no longer a backroom in Babylon. Mayor Stockwell had shut it down as part of his 'Family Friendly Pittsburgh' campaign, along with all of the bathhouses in the area. Even a few of the bars on Liberty Avenue had shuttered, unable to afford the fines levied against them for 'immoral behavior' by their patrons. Meathook had been the first to close, then Boy Toy was shut for serving minors. The atmosphere on Liberty Avenue after Stockwell's victory and then the 2004 election was one of general resignation and retreat.
Brian cruised the perimeter of the dance floor, looking for someone. Someone likely. Someone new. But there were few new faces. The Pittsburgh pool of gay talent was a finite one and Brian had already had most of the hottest guys available. He'd even started to do repeats occasionally, but only if the guy was an especially good fuck.
Brian saw a slightly familiar face nearby. He'd had this guy a while ago. Picked him up in Woody's and taken him into the bathroom there. He hadn't been bad. It was too cold to fuck in the alley, so maybe he'd invite the guy back to the loft. It was getting late and Brian didn't want to concede to himself that he was tired. Or that what he wanted more than anything else was his own warm bed. After all, Brian Kinney had an image to uphold. The Stud of Liberty Avenue, now and always.
Brian moved onto the dance floor and worked his way up to his prey. He was better than Brian remembered. About 25, good pecs, dark hair, nice ass. He'd had a hot mouth, too. The guy had only blown him in Woody's, so Brian was excited at the prospect of getting into his firm ass.
The guy acknowledged Brian with a smile. His shirt was open and Brian ran his long fingers up and down the trick's chest. Brian felt his dick get hard. Very hard. Merry fucking Christmas, Brian thought. Maybe this night wasn't going to be a total loss after all.
Justin parked his mother's car on a side street off Liberty Avenue and got out. There were bars scattered up and down the street and a big, loud club -- Babylon -- just down the way.
Justin hesitated. A bar was too small. He might be too obviously a newcomer and some guy might single him out and say something to embarrass him. But the club was large. He could observe things there. Melt into the scenery. Justin suddenly wished that he'd waited until after Christmas and taken Daphne with him. That way he wouldn't feel so alone and exposed.
Justin was carded at the door of the club. He was used to that. He knew that he looked very young, even though he had turned 22 a few weeks before. The bouncer examined his Dartmouth ID and his driver's license carefully. Stockwell's goons were constantly trying to close the club down and they couldn't afford to make a mistake. But this one looked legit. Justin paid a membership fee and a cover charge and was admitted into Babylon.
It was loud inside. Really loud. Really, really loud. Justin blinked his eyes, trying to find his way around. The corners were extremely dark, but the dance floor was awash in flashing lights. Strobes swept the dancers. Go-go boys, who were almost completely naked, writhed on platforms.
"Excuse me! Sorry!" Justin kept bumping into people. Or they kept bumping into him. Then one of the guys who bumped into him squeezed his ass and Justin realized that the bumping wasn't an accident. They were feeling him up!
The squeezing guy grinned at him. He was very muscular with tattoos on his arms and a shaved head. This was definitely not the man of Justin's dreams. In fact, Justin was afraid of him. He looked rough and mean. Justin stepped back, tripping over another man behind him.
"Whoa there, sweetie!" said the tall, thin man. He was wearing a silver shirt tied up to bare his midriff and he had a Southern accent. "You almost spilled my drink!"
"I'm sorry! Can you tell me where the bar is?" Justin managed to say.
"That way." The thin guy pointed.
Justin mumbled his thanks and blundered in the direction of the bar. Most of the men were drinking something that looked like eggnog in a martini glass, but Justin didn't think he could stomach that. Instead, he ordered a beer and the bartender carded him again. Justin sighed and showed him his license.
This was such a fucking mistake, Justin thought. He had rushed out of the house after that blurted admission to his mother and ended up here, in the middle of Gay Pittsburgh. But Justin didn't feel in the mood to dance or even to drink. He felt like his life was already at a dead-end and he hadn't lived at all yet!
Justin remembered when he'd been a cocky and self-confident boy, but that seemed a long time ago. What had happened to him? Why had he caved in to his father? Why hadn't he told his mother the truth about his sexuality ages ago? Because he was scared, that's why. He was a big pussy. Justin looked around at all the men, drinking, dancing, touching each other, kissing each other. That's what he wanted to do, too. But he was still afraid. Yes, a fucking pussy boy!
Justin walked around the edge of dance floor, watching. Looking for... for what? A person? Yes, the man of his dreams. Or someone like him. But all of the bodies blended together in the surge of flesh. He couldn't make out faces. He couldn't see their eyes. And he had to see their eyes. That's how he would know the right one. By his eyes. One look would tell Justin all he needed to know.
Someone grabbed Justin from behind and pressed his stiff cock up against Justin's pants. An arm reached around and held him tightly. "Come on, sweet stuff. Let's dance." The man's hot breath was at Justin's ear.
Justin turned around. It was a blond, shirtless man. He had a tattoo of a sunburst around his left nipple. He was smiling like he was high. He held out his hand and offered Justin a pill. "Have some 'E.' The first one's on me."
But Justin pulled away. He was allergic to almost everything and he often had a bad reaction to unknown drugs. He'd smoked a lot of weed in high school and occasionally in the dorm at Dartmouth, but he usually drew the line at anything stronger.
"I'm not into that," said Justin.
"Come on!" the man insisted. "It's Christmas!"
Yeah, thought Justin. It's Christmas. What the fuck am I doing here?
He turned around and walked through the crowd, looking for the door. Finally, Justin found the exit and pushed his way outside into the freezing air.
It was just beginning to snow.
Justin's hands were shaking as he lit a cigarette.
It was starting to snow, but he'd forgotten his scarf and his gloves in his hurry to leave the house. Justin pulled his collar up around his neck, shielding it from the cold.
Two men just outside the exit of Babylon were kissing and groping each other. One was taller and looked a little older than other guy, who was slim and blond. The shorter guy leaned his head against the taller man's chest, while the taller one smiled.
"Move on! Move it now!"
A pair of cops from Mayor Stockwell's Vice Patrol shoved the two lovers along the sidewalk. The cops were dressed in black leather coats and carried batons, leading most of the denizens of Liberty Avenue to refer to them as the Stormtroopers.
"Don't touch me!" the shorter man bristled.
"Don't block the pavement or we'll run you in, pansy!" barked one of the cops.
The taller man took his boyfriend's arm and pulled him away. Neither one of them wanted to spend Christmas Eve in the Pittsburgh PD's infamous 'Queens Tank.'
Justin stared at the little drama in dismay. Then one of the cops noticed him. "You move along, too, faggot! Go home where you belong and don't clutter up the streets!"
Justin backed away as the Vice Patrol continued their circuit of the streets. Yes, that's what he was, Justin thought. A faggot. There was no doubt. There was no hiding it anymore. Maybe he would spend his life being hated. Or maybe he might even find love someday. But he couldn't deny what he was. He was just like the two men who had been pushed along the sidewalk. Except he was alone.
It stopped snowing. Justin clutched his cigarette. He felt a little dizzy and the pavement was slippery. There was a streetlight a few feet away. Justin stumbled over to it and leaned against the metal pole, trying to get his bearings.
Brian danced with the trick for two songs, but it was getting late. It had been a long day and his dick was hard. Let's get this show on the road, Brian thought.
"Come back to my loft," said Brian in the trick's ear. "I want your ass to get a taste of my 9 inch cock!"
Ordinarily, those were the words that sealed the deal. Brian took the trick's hand and began leading him off the dance floor.
But the guy stopped in his tracks. He pulled his hand out of Brian's grasp. "I don't think so," said the trick. "I've already had you."
Brian blinked. "What did you say?"
The trick shrugged. "I said that we've already tricked. Last summer, remember? At Woody's. You were okay, but I think that I can do better tonight."
"Oh, you think so?" said Brian, his face red.
But the trick only stared at him. "Yeah, I think so. I know you're Brian Kinney and you're supposedly hot shit, but aren't you a little old for this game? You must be at least 35! I'd like to pick up someone a little younger and hotter for Christmas. That's my Christmas present to myself."
"I'm 33," Brian countered. He'd been insulted before, but this one really threw him. "And fuck you!"
"Whatever," said the trick, indifferently. Then he moved back onto the dance floor.
Brian walked to the cloakroom and retrieved his jacket. He saw Ted and Emmett waving him over to the bar, but he ignored them. Michael and Ben had already gone home.
Brian walked out of Babylon. His hands were shaking.
The trick was right. What the fuck did he think he was doing? He wasn't the same as he'd been. He wasn't as hot. He was no longer the perfect stud, the ultimate fuck. Men could sense that he was diseased and it would only get worse from now on. The trick had thought he was 35! That really hurt! Cancer and radiation and a slow, painful recovery had obviously aged him. Brian didn't feel the same and it showed.
Merry fucking Christmas!
Brian looked up and saw a young blond leaning against the lamppost right outside of Babylon. He was finishing a cigarette and glancing around at the men passing by.
Brian's heart gave a lurch in his chest. Here was everything he once had been. Young. Beautiful. Sexy. Confident. A few stray flakes of melting snow clung to the young man's golden hair and Brian longed to brush them away with his long fingers. Longed to brush his own lips against the blond's plush, pink lips. Put his arms around this young man and feel his warmth, his vitality.
But it was useless. Brian suddenly saw a picture of his own bleak future. He saw a lonely man who had once been beautiful, but who was now sick and ageing. A bitter man who took little pleasure in the things that had once obsessed him. The thrill of the chase. The taste of good liquor. An awesome high. A tight, eager ass to fuck. Brian saw a man who was reduced to standing on the sidelines, picking up strays at the end of a long night, or paying a hustler to tell him that he was still beautiful, still desirable. Someone who was truly pathetic. Someone his friends whispered about behind his back, wondering what they could do to help poor old Brian.
Fuck that, thought Brian. I won't let it come to that. I can't let it come to that!
He still had control over his life. That, at least, still belonged to him. And his life was his to do with whatever he thought was best.
His affairs were in order. His will, leaving everything in trust to his son, Gus, was air-tight. His shrew of a mother and his whining sister couldn't break it -- he had made certain of that. Gus would have money for his schooling and a nice inheritance when he turned 21. Maybe Gus would stop once in a while and wonder about the man who had left it to him. Or maybe it was better that Gus simply forget the man who had been his father for a few short years.
Better that they all forget. That's the way he wanted it.
Brian knew what he had to do. It would be quick. It would be easy.
He walked past the lamppost on his way to find the Corvette and return to the loft. Weariness overwhelmed him, but he'd soon find rest. And peace, finally.
A hand reached out and touched his arm.
"Excuse me?" It was the young blond man. "Please?"
But Brian didn't look up.
He walked on into the darkness.
I need to go home now, thought Justin. It was cold and his head was aching. He steadied himself against the streetlight, but the slick metal of the post was freezing.
Then Justin looked up.
There was a man walking towards him.
Justin stared, his mouth falling open. He reached out and touched the man's arm as he passed by.
"Excuse me?" Justin cried out. He didn't know what had possessed him to touch this stranger, but he knew that he had to. "Please?"
It was the man Justin had been looking for. The man from his fantasies. Justin knew him in an instant. Knew his tall body. His dark hair. His beautiful face. And his sad, haunted eyes that looked directly into Justin's heart. Justin knew the man as if he had known him all of his life. Or in a hundred different lives.
The man was wearing a leather jacket and a long black scarf. He had just come out of Babylon, but he was alone. Justin wondered why such a hot man would be leaving the club alone.
But the man kept walking. He didn't even turn to look at Justin when his fingers brushed the man's arm.
"Wait!" Justin called urgently. "Don't do it!"
Brian stopped, startled. Then he turned around. How did this guy know what he was thinking? How did he get into his head? And what did he want?
"Why did you say that to me?" Brian demanded, walking back and confronting Justin. "Who the fuck are you anyway?"
"I..." Justin stared into the man's eyes. They were dark green with golden flecks and he had long black lashes. Justin felt as if he had looked into those eyes a million times. "Do you have a light?"
Brian sighed. "You have a lit cigarette in your hand."
"Oh, right," said Justin. The cigarette dropped out of his hand and into the slush at his feet.
"Where were you headed?" Brian asked. The kid looked young, but not as young as Brian had first thought. Maybe 20 or even 21. Brian wasn't into twinks. But this one looked lost. As lost as Brian felt.
Justin shook his head. "No place special. I... I just left Babylon. I couldn't stay there. Not on Christmas Eve."
"I couldn't either," Brian admitted. They stood in uncomfortable silence for another long minute. "Well," said Brian. "See you."
Justin took a deep breath. He suddenly felt as if this meeting should have already happened. That the two strangers were playing out a scene that should have taken place years ago, but somehow they both missed it, like a connection you never make that changes your entire life.
"Take me with you!" Justin's voice sounded shrill in the frigid air. "It's cold and I'm sick of standing here!"
Brian recoiled. "Are you a hustler? Because you don't look like a hustler." The kid was too well-dressed and he didn't have the anxious, desperate bravado of a whore. That was one thing Brian knew about from the inside.
"No," Justin asserted. "I'm not a hustler. I'm just looking for...." He shrugged. He didn't know what to say. Didn't know what words to use to make it all sound right.
"Looking for what?" asked Brian, suspiciously. "A meal? A lift? A fuck?"
This was the strangest pick-up Brian had had in a long time. The snow began to flurry down again, this time harder. And this young man, his golden hair reflecting the light from the lamppost, the snow landing on his face and shoulders, looked like an angel.
"For you," Justin said simply. And he knew that it was the truth. "I was looking for you."
Brian coughed cynically. "What the fuck are you? My Angel of Mercy? Come to save me from myself?"
"Yes," said Justin.
Then Justin reached up and did what he had been so longing to do. He touched the man's beautiful face. It was slightly rough along the jaw where his beard was beginning to grow back. Touched it gently. He felt the man shiver and it wasn't with the cold.
"Please?" Justin asked.
Brian put his arms around the young man and kissed him there under the streetlight. His soft face was cold, but his full lips were warm. And his tongue was hot. They breathed into each other, eyes closed.
"What are you?" Brian whispered. "Are you really an angel?"
"I'll be anything you want me to be," Justin whispered back. "If you'll be everything I need you to be."
Brian swallowed nervously. If he took this kid home it would be something different. He could feel that. And it frightened him.
Maybe Brian had already crossed the line. Maybe he had already died and this was what came afterwards. Maybe that was where he was really going. Away with this beautiful young man. Into whatever came after his pathetic life was finally over. Angel of Mercy, indeed.
"We can't stand around on the sidewalk or Stockwell's Stormtroopers will haul us off to jail," said Brian. "Do you want to come back to my loft?"
"Yes," said Justin. This was what he had been waiting for. The inevitable step. There was no turning back now. "More than anything."
Brian put his arm around the young man's shoulder. He felt real. Solid. He wasn't going to melt away like the snow. Or float up into the air with the winter wind.
"I'm Brian. I don't live very far."
"My name is Justin." Justin slipped his arm around Brian's waist. It didn't feel odd to hold this man. It felt right. The rightest thing that Justin had ever done. "And I don't care how far away you live. Take me there. That's all I ask."
"Then let's go," said Brian. He felt something change inside him, but he wasn't afraid anymore. He tilted his face upward and felt the flakes dotting his cheeks and nose.
Justin rubbed his own face against Brian's jacket, smelling the leather and the smoke and the sweat of the man who was going to make love to him for the rest of his life.
And the two walked off together as the snow came down around them and the night changed from Christmas Eve into Christmas.
Continue on to "The Angel -- Part 1".
©Gaedhal, December 2004.
Posted June 8, 2005.