"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 43 of the "Queer Realities" series.

The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Gus Peterson-Marcus.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian feels happy again. Pittsburgh, March 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.

It's time to get up, but I don't want to.

I don't want to get out of this bed, out of this room, out of this loft.

Because the fucking world is outside.

That's the trouble with being at Springhurst. It's like a cocoon. You're safe in there. But it's also a prison, too. You get used to being told what to do, when to eat, when to sleep.

It's like being a kid again, only instead of the reality, it's an old sitcom. 'Leave It to Beaver.' 'Father Knows Best.' Dad is stern and he sits behind his desk and listens to how you've screwed up, but he's also fair and doesn't let you get away with bullshit. And Mom is a nosy pain-in-the-ass, but she's also nurturing and kind. You know that they both care.

Unlike your real parents.

Unlike the rest of the fucking world.

With a few exceptions. But only a few.

And one is right here. The main one.

But I don't want to feel like this. Like I give a shit. It's hard. It hurts. It feels sometimes like my guts are being ripped out. Like someone is probing an open wound and I have no anesthetic to numb it. Because I don't have that pain management to fall back on when things get too real, too painful, too intense. I can't use what I've always used. Because I know it's killing me.

And for the first time in a long, long time I don't want to die. Not now. Or tomorrow. Or when I'm 40. Or even when I'm 65. Of course, I don't want to picture myself then. An old man. A doddering geezer. When I get to that point I probably won't give a damn about the way I look or about being hot. But I bet I'll still look fucking good, fucking hot -- for my age. Whatever that means.

And so will Justin. I imagine that even when he's 50 he'll look like a kid. He was born to be a kid all of his life. Just like I feel I was born already old. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I'm almost shocked not to see a worn out old man staring back at me.

I remember seeing that old film version of 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' when I was a kid and being horrified by it. Godzilla and King Kong and Frankenstein -- none of those monsters could scare me. Hell, I had worse monsters living in my own home! But 'Dorian Gray' -- that fucking haunted me. Maybe it was the queer subtext that I couldn't really understand yet, but must have felt deep in my bones. Or maybe it was the creepy, aesthetic beauty of the actor who played Dorian Gray. Or maybe it was the fantasy of being always young, always beautiful. Forever. But at what price? The thought of that portrait, locked in a room somewhere, ageing a little bit every day until it was hideous, gave me bad dreams for a long, long time.

Fucking bad dreams. Nightmares.

Justin says that his old nightmares are back. He's waking up shaking and sweating. Waking up with his blue eyes wide, blinking at some horror that no one else can see. It must be the stress. It's too much for him to have to deal with alone. And that's why I'm not going back to Springhurst. Justin needs me here.

He needs me. I know he does. Needs me almost as much as I need him. But I can't tell him that.

Justin stirs. He opens his eyes and for a moment it's like he doesn't know where he is. But then his face relaxes in relief. "Brian!" he sighs.

"Good morning, Sunshine. Who were you expecting?" I joke.

And his face changes. Darkens. "No one else. I... I was dreaming again. Weird dreams. And... and...." He swallows.

"The nightmares. I know." I pull him against me. "They'll stop now that I'm here. I promise."

"Please, Brian," he pleads. "I feel all fucked up! Make it better!"

"I will," I promise. "I can do it, Justin. I can make everything better." And I know I can. I won't fail this time. I won't run away. I won't be an idiot and fuck everything up this time.

"It's not you, Brian," he whispers. "It's not."

"Yes, it is," I tell him. "But things will be different now. I'll be different. I'll try not to be an asshole about things. I've been learning to control myself. And that means no more pain management. No more crashing through life like a fucking bull in a china shop. No more treating people like... like they have no feelings. As if they are as emotionally constipated as I am."

"You aren't emotionless, Brian," says Justin. "You protect yourself, that's all. From... from being hurt. That's natural. I wish that I could... could stop all of my feelings. Stop them from overwhelming me. Just... just make everything stop inside my head!"

"Don't say that, Justin." I press him closer to me. Until our bodies are melting together. "Never cut yourself off like that. Never let yourself get like I was. Afraid to feel anything. Afraid to give myself to anyone. Afraid that once someone knew what I was really like, they would turn away. Afraid to be alone, but always by myself. Afraid of the dark, but always in the shadows. That's no fucking way to live. It's only a way to die."

And then Justin starts to cry. Really openly cry.

That surprises me. Justin may be a drama queen, but he's not weepy. He gets emotional, but he doesn't burst into tears over every little thing. Especially since he was bashed Justin tries to hold his emotions in -- at least in front of me. So I guess he's been more upset by what's been happening than I had realized. Being alone in this fucking icebox of a loft, having nightmares, trying to keep up with his schoolwork, and getting ready for the exhibit at the Warhol Museum. It's all been too much for him to handle alone.

I have to make it up to him. And I will. "Don't, Justin. You don't need to do that."

"I'm sorry, Brian!" he gasps. "Crying like some little faggot!"

"Welcome to the club," I remind him. "Because I've cried plenty of times. That doesn't make you a little faggot. And it doesn't make you some fucking macho man not to cry. All of those labels are bullshit. If you feel like crying, then do it. I don't mind. Never be afraid to show me anything, Justin. I've seen you happy and sad. I've been inside of you -- and you've been inside of me. I've seen you on the best and worst night of both of our lives. And I've seen you almost die right in front of me. So a few tears aren't going to freak me out. Not anymore. And if I do it myself, I hope my tears won't freak you out."

"I hope not, Brian," he sniffs.

"Good," I say. "Let's get up and take a shower. Then we'll go to see Lindsay and the baby. And we promised to take Gus this afternoon. And we have plenty of other things to do before we leave for Los Angeles on Friday. Okay?"

He nods. "Okay, Brian." Then he gazes at me. "Everything WILL be all right, won't it?"

"Sure," I say. "Everything. Always."


Justin is still in the bedroom getting dressed while I prowl around the loft, restlessly.

This is my home, but it somehow seems strange. I have to get used to it again. The feel of it. The smell of it. My lair. My fuck-pad, as Jennifer Taylor has referred to it.

Except now it's Justin's home as much as mine. In the past year he's lived here more than I have. And he's put his mark on it. Moving things around. The portable TV in the bedroom. His CDs piled next to my Bang & Olufsen sound system. A copy of 'Yellow Submarine' lying on the DVD player. His sketchpads and pencils on the table. His favorite foods in the fridge. His shampoo in the shower.

I go over to my desk and see that he has a large storyboard laid out there. I assume it's for Michael's comic book, but then I remember that they've had some little falling out over 'creative differences.' So I look closer.

It's for his projected music video. Some of the students in his Multi-Media class are having an informal competition to see who can make the best music video. Justin had told me before that he didn't think he had time to do it, but now he's changed his mind. He has written 'Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House' across the top in block letters, and then each panel shows the progression of the images that will illustrate the song.

"What are you doing?"

I look up. "Checking out your video." I tap the cardboard. "This looks pretty complex. What kind of equipment do you have to make it?"

"PIFA provides the film, the cameras, and the editing equipment." Justin seems embarrassed that I'm looking at his storyboard. "It's only a few ideas. I can picture exactly what I want to see in my head, but whether I'll be able to do it...." He shrugs.

"Sure you can do it," I say. "You can do anything you put your mind to, Justin. Do you need any special cameras or editing stuff that PIFA doesn't have? Because I can see that you get whatever you want. Are you going to make it in color? Who's going to be in it?" The more I think about it, the more excited I get about it. Justin has a wonderful eye. Maybe he could be a director. Maybe Dorian will let him be an assistant on 'Red River' and learn things right on the set.

Then I have to stop myself. I'm letting my head run away with reality. As far as I know Justin isn't the least bit interested in film. Except animation. He's talked about that in the past. But this is only a project for PIFA. I shouldn't get carried away about it. This is Justin's video.

"It looks very interesting," I say, pulling back.

"It's a... a love story," he explains. "A mini love story."

"With a music video it couldn't be much more than mini!" I laugh.

"No, but it's more than that. It tells the story of a relationship. Or at least the beginning of a relationship. Hold on a minute." Justin goes to the sound system and picks up a CD that's sitting on the top. He slips it into the player and hits the remote. The song he's been illustrating comes flowing out of the speakers.

"There is freedom within, there is freedom without,
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup.
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost,
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with me.

Hey now, hey now,
Don't dream it's over.
Hey now, hey now,
When the world comes in.
They come, they come,
To build a wall between us,
We know they won't win."

Justin pauses the song and points to the storyboard where the lyrics are inked in above each panel. "The words underline the action. Two people -- two guys -- are alone at the beginning of the song. One is a man. He's in a dark room all by himself. Lying on a bed. He doesn't believe in love. He doesn't believe he can ever be happy. He feels that he has nothing to live for. The lyrics say, 'There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost.' That's what he's thinking of -- all those lost battles in his lonely life."

"Sounds familiar," I say. On the storyboard the guy in the dark room looks exactly like me. Of course.

"Then the man hears something. He hears the song and he goes to the window." Justin's finger touches the drawn figure, standing naked at a window. "He opens the window and the sun comes inside. This is when the lyrics of the song say, 'Don't dream it's over... When the world comes in.' He didn't want the world to come in -- but it did anyway. Then the camera moves out of the window and pans down across the little town to where another guy -- a younger man -- is sitting in the grass, drawing in his sketchbook." Justin touches the panel with a blond boy bent over a pad. It looks like a self-portrait. "You can't see it in the storyboard, but he's drawing the man from the room. The man from his dream or his fantasy. Then he looks up because he hears the music, too. Calling him. Telling him, 'Don't dream it's over.'"

"Calling him where?" I ask gently.

"To his destiny. His fate. Whatever you want to call it." Justin clicks the song back on.

"Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof,
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof.
In the paper today tales of war and of waste,
But you turn right over to the T.V. page.

Hey now, hey now,
Don't dream it's over.
Hey now, hey now,
When the world comes in.
They come, they come,
To build a wall between us,
We know they won't win."

Justin pauses the song again. "Here's the man walking through the streets," he explains. "He's wearing dark glasses and his head is down. He doesn't want to look at anything. He passes stores, a newsstand, other people, but he doesn't seem to see them -- 'In the paper today, Tales of war and of waste.' Then we cut back to the boy. He stands up right here." Justin moves down the row. "He leaves his sketchbook behind and you can clearly see that it's the same man. The boy is smiling because he knows what he's going to find -- and who he's going to meet. Because it's fated. And that's when the man looks up and sees the sky. Sees the sunshine. There's an instrumental section here and I thought I'd intercut between the two of them from above, walking towards each other."

"You'll need a crane for that," I caution him. "To get an aerial shot."

"Maybe," says Justin. "This is just the rough idea."

Justin turns the song back on and lets it play out to the end.

"Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum,
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart.
Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief.

Hey now, hey now,
Don't dream it's over.
Hey now, hey now,
When the world comes in,
They come, they come,
To build a wall between us
Don't ever let them win."

"Here the lyrics are, 'Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum, And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart.' That's when the two lovers meet. Suddenly the boy is walking right beside the man, in perfect step with him. And here is the close-up of their hands coming together, their fingers intertwining. The words say, 'Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief.' That's when the man takes off his dark glasses and tosses them away. He shows the boy his eyes for the first time. And they're beautiful. 'They come, they come, to build a wall between us, We know that they won't win -- Don't let them win.' It's a warning -- and a plea. That's when the two of them embrace while the camera circles around them. They kiss and keep kissing as the camera pulls back and pans up to the sky. Then the song fades out. And that's it." Justin stares down at the storyboard, tracing the last panel with his finger.

"Wow," is all I can say. I'm impressed. I look at the storyboard and then at Justin. He truly is talented. "That's fucking amazing! But the drawings of those two guys look kind of familiar. Do you have a particular cast in mind?"

"I don't know," Justin replies. "Do you know any unemployed actors?"

"I might know one who's between jobs right now. And another guy who isn't an actor, but who might be perfect for the younger blond." I smile at him. "When were you thinking of shooting this video?"

Justin licks his lips. "In April, when the weather gets nicer. It has to be finished before the Video Festival where all the projects are going to be shown. That's on May 9, at the end of the semester at PIFA. Which means I have to get organized if I'm really going to do it."

"All you have to do is ask me, Justin," I remind him. "If there's anything you need."

He looks up at me. Then he hugs me. "Thanks, Brian. For everything."

"Are you okay now?" I ask very softly. "I mean, after last night and this morning?"

"I'm just a little emotional right now. I'm overwhelmed by everything that's happening," Justin admits. "You coming home. The baby. Everything."

"So am I," I confess back. "We need to get moving. Lindsay's friend Dusty is bringing Gus to the hospital and then we have him for the night."

"That's great!" Justin grins. It's wonderful to see him smile. Really smile. Like the darkness is finally draining out of him.

I put on my jacket while Justin gets his bookbag and puts a little wrapped package into it. A gift for the baby.

"Shit," he says, suddenly. "My cell." He takes it out and looks. Then he shoves it back into his pocket. "It's no one, Brian," he says. "Let's go."


Sure enough when we get to the hospital there are a few photographers waiting outside the main doors. We avoid them by pulling around to the back parking garage, where the security man from yesterday is waiting to direct us to an underground entrance into the hospital.

"Those reporters are going to want a statement, Mr. Kinney," says the security man.

"They may want a statement, but I'm not giving them one," I say stubbornly.

"Maybe if you talk to them, then they'll go away?" Justin suggests.

"You don't understand the press, Justin. They never have enough. And they never go away!"

The security man and a uniformed guard escort us up to Lindsay's private room on the Third Floor. She's sitting up in bed, while Melanie sits on a chair holding the baby.

"Bri!" Lindsay exclaims. "Did you see this!" She has a magazine in her hand and she shows it to me. "Mel bought it downstairs this morning! Did you know it was coming out?"

Fuck. It's the April issue of 'Vanity Fair.' The Hollywood Issue they have every year at Oscar time. There's Jimmy Hardy. And Tom Cruise. Jack Nicholson. Harrison Ford. Jude Law. Hugh Grant. Matt Damon. Ewen McGregor. All the 'Leading Men' of Hollywood. And then there's me. Standing there like a fucking dope. Right on the front cover, directly behind Jimmy Hardy, 'America's Boy Next Door.'

"Two times on the cover of 'Vanity Fair,' Bri!" Lindsay giggles. "I guess you're a real movie star!"

"Yeah, I'm a real something all right," I snark as Justin grabs the magazine and begins to leaf through it.

"I was there at the shoot back in December, right before we left for England!" Justin says in excitement. "It was amazing! And Brian was the best looking guy there -- no contest!"

"Can I see my daughter, please?" I ask Melanie. She makes a face, but she sits me down in the chair next to Lindz's bed and then puts the baby in my arms.

"The phone hasn't stopped ringing all morning!" says Lindsay. "And look at all these flowers!"

"I hope you took your allergy pills," I warn Justin. "Jesus, Lindz, this room looks like a fucking florist shop. Who are they all from?"

"Debbie, Vic, and Michael sent this large arrangement. And these violets are from Emmett and Ted. Ben send the jade plant. These daisies are from Dusty and the Lesbian Mothers' Group. And that huge thing over here," Lindsay points to something that looks like it belonged around the neck of Secretariat after he won the Kentucky Derby. "That's from your friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Hardy of Hollywood, California!"

"Christ!" I cry. "How the hell did Jimmy know that the baby was born?"

"Probably the same way the photographers outside know," Mel replies. "Everyone knows everything!" she frowns. "I had to elbow a couple of the bastards out of my way when I came in this morning. They seemed to know who I was and they tried to take my picture!"

"Great," I moan. "Every time we turn around they'll stick a camera in our fucking faces!" Then I remember something. "What about Gus? When is that Dusty woman bringing Gus?"

"I already warned her, Brian," Mel answers. "The security guards are going to bring her and Gus in through the underground garage and try to avoid the photographers."

I hold the baby while Lindsay and Justin look at the pictures in the 'Vanity Fair.' Reporters. Photographers. Fucking paparazzi! It never ends!

One thing I definitely notice is that Melanie and Justin are more than a little distant with each other. Justin told me that he and Mel had a slight confrontation at his Warhol Museum opening, but he didn't go into the details. Mel probably made some crack about me, as usual. Justin is my fucking pitbull! I can always count on him to defend me.

But Justin is also on the outs with Michael and that worries me. I'm still not certain what that's about. It isn't like Justin to be so touchy with people. That shows the kind of stress he's under.

"Damn," says Justin. He takes out his cell and looks at it. "Not again." He looks up at me. "I better take this call." And he goes out into the hallway, clutching the cellphone.

"Justin seems in a better mood now that you're back in town, Bri," says Lindsay. She reaches for the baby and I hand her over.

"Cut Justin some slack, ladies. Please?" I ask them. "He's been dealing with a lot of shit recently, most of it my fault. He told me about having a spat with you at the opening, Mel."

"Yeah," Melanie admits. "I should have kept my big mouth shut. But Justin knows that I love him." Mel smiles -- sort of. "It's YOU who I'm not so crazy about!"

"Ditto," I reply. But it's all good-natured. I really don't hate Mel. Much. She's good to Gus and I know she'll be a great mom to the baby. Charity. I'm still not certain about that name, but it's better than Brianna. Charity. I guess I could get used to it.

That's when Dusty walks in with Gus. I hold my fucking breath. The last time Gus saw me it was a disaster. He cried and only wanted Justin to hold him.

But Gus sees me and his face lights up. "Dada!" he screams. And he runs into my arms. "Dada! Dada!" he repeats. "Dada's here!"

"Hey, Sonny Boy," I say, picking him up and hugging him. "Are you coming to stay with me and Justin at the loft?"

"Yeah!" he cries. "Dada's loft!"

"And we'll order pizza and watch 'Yellow Submarine,' okay?" I tell him. "You want to see your sister?" I carry him over to the bed and he kisses Lindsay. And he stares at the baby.

"What do you think, Gus?" asks Lindz. "Isn't she pretty? Her name is Charity. Can you say that? Say 'Charity,' honey."

Gus shrugs and I feel his body stiffen. The sibling rivalry begins. He sticks his finger in his mouth and holds tighter to me. He refuses to say the name no matter how much Lindsay coaxes.

"Come on, sport," I say. "Let's get Justin and we'll go get lunch at the diner, okay?"

"Okay!" Gus brightens. "Go get lunch!"

"Thanks, Bri," Lindsay says sincerely. "I appreciate this."

"What the fuck? It's my pleasure, Lindz." And as I say it, I realize that it IS a pleasure. I'm looking forward to being at the loft with my son and my partner. Eating pizza and watching TV. I am now officially a dickless dyke! And I don't really mind.

I carry Gus out of the room. I see Justin standing at the end of the hall. He's talking into his cellphone. His face is red and he sounds pissed off.

"Don't!" he says into the cell. "I mean it. Stop calling and stop leaving messages!" Justin pauses. "Don't you dare! If you come over I'll... I'll call the fucking cops! And I'm not kidding!"

Justin slams his cell shut and turns around. He's startled to see me and Gus standing there.

"Stalker trouble, Sunshine?"

He inhales raggedly. "Sort of." Justin swallows. "Some guy from school. He's always bugging me to... to do stuff with him."

"Is it that guy from your class? Marshall?"

Justin shakes his head. "No. Marshall is okay. It's someone... else. No one important."

"Good," I smile. "This young man is hungry -- and so am I! Are we ready to evade the paparazzi and get some lunch?"

"Get lunch!" cries Gus. He's certainly got a one track mind.

"I'm ready, too," Justin agrees. "Ready to get out of here, Brian. Now."

"It's only lunch, Sunshine!" I laugh.

Justin walks over and puts his arms around me and Gus, squeezing us both tightly. "No, it's everything. We need to go, Brian. Get out of the Pitts. I need to get away from here . With you."

"Soon, Justin," I tell him. "Very, very soon. We'll both escape. And then we'll be safe. Safe and sound."

And by the look on Justin's face that's exactly what he wants. To be safe and sound. And it's what I need, too. More than anything else in the whole fucking world.

Continue on to "Sugar Mountain".

©Gaedhal, April 2005.

Posted April 29, 2005.