HAMBURG

"A Queer As Folk USA Alternate Stream FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part VI of a "Beatitudes" Alternate Stream story.

The other sections in "Beatitudes".

Features Justin Taylor, Brian Kinney.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian comes back to Paris. Paris, November 1960.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.

Paris, November 1960:

Justin had been at the Katz Gallery going over instillation plans for his show when Pierre Katz, the owner, came in with Louisa Phelps Walters, an American art critic. She was thinking of writing a piece about Justin for 'Art Avant,' one of the cutting-edge art journals, and she wanted to meet the young painter. Katz was taking Mrs. Walters to dinner and he invited Justin to come along. Of course, Justin jumped at the chance to make a good impression on the influential critic.

Dinner was a success. Justin turned on all his considerable charm and the three ate and drank and talked about the art scene in Paris versus the art scene in New York. Mrs. Walters went away with a very favorable opinion of the young artist and Justin went home smiling to himself, sure that the 'Art Avant' article would be extremely positive.

Justin walked into the flat and saw Brian's coat draped across the chair and his portfolio lying on the coffee table. His heart sank when he realized that he was supposed to meet Brian's plane.

Justin found Brian in the bathroom, drying off from his shower.

"Where the fuck were you?" snapped Brian. "I thought you were going to pick me up at the airport? Or did you forget that I was coming home today?"

Justin felt terrible that he'd left Brian high and dry. "I'm sorry, Brian! I was at the gallery and this writer came in with Pierre and they asked me to dinner. I completely forgot about the time!"

Brian was clearly in a bad mood. "I stood around waiting for a fucking hour and then I took a taxi."

"I said I was sorry, Brian," Justin returned. "It's just that I've been so busy lately with the show coming up and trying to finish those canvases and...."

"Yeah," Brian snorted. "Whatever. You're busy. I'm busy. Everyone's so fucking busy!"

"Can I get you something to eat?" said Justin, trying his best to smooth Brian's ruffled feathers.

"I thought we were going to eat after you met me at the airport, but you've already eaten... obviously!"

Justin swallowed. "I'll make you something now."

Brian turned his back on Justin as he dropped his towel and slipped on his blue silk robe. "I'm not hungry."

Justin slid his arms around Brian's waist and rubbed his cock against Brian's firm ass. "Why don't you relax on the bed and I'll give you a massage? You'll feel better after I work my magic on you," Justin purred.

"I'm tired," said Brian, shaking Justin off. "I'm going to bed. I have work to catch up on tomorrow, too. You're not the only one who has important things to do."

"I know," Justin replied. He watched Brian get into bed and roll over, shutting off any further conversation.

Justin walked out of the bedroom feeling extremely dejected. It was unlike Brian to be so tired, even after coming home from a trip. Justin hoped that Brian wasn't getting sick again. His lungs always started acting up when the weather got colder and it had been a very chilly and rainy fall. Justin vowed to go through Brian's pockets, find Brian's cigarettes, and toss them away. He knew that Brian would simply buy more, but at least Justin would have made his point.

Brian hadn't said anything at all about the trip. Or about how the readings and workshops had gone. Brian usually had a lot funny stories about the people he had to deal with when did these things. But even in their brief phone calls while he was away, Brian had said very little about what he was doing in Hamburg. Maybe tomorrow, when he woke up after a good night's sleep, he'd be more forthcoming. At least Justin hoped so.

Justin noticed that Brian's poetry portfolio was sitting on the coffee table. He must have been too tired to take it into his office and set it on the desk. So Justin picked it up.

Justin wasn't usually a snoopy kind of guy. Well, maybe he WAS a little snoopy, but only when it came to Brian. Justin knew that when Brian was on a trip by himself he often wrote a number of new poems. Separations from Justin made Brian introspective, and hours of sitting alone in a hotel room in a strange city often made him reach for his pen and begin scribbling. Now Justin was curious to see if Brian had written anything new while he was away.

Justin opened up the portfolio and pulled out the sheets of paper. The older poems -- the ones Brian had taken to read in Hamburg -- were typed and fastened together with a large paperclip. But there were newer poems on top. Handwritten on the legal paper that Brian always used for his first drafts. There were quite a few of them, some merely fragments, but others that looked nearly finished, with additions and corrections in red ink.

Justin read one random line aloud. "'Your eyes golden honey'?" He frowned. That didn't sound like Brian's usual imagery, especially for a love poem. Justin's eyes were famously blue. So Justin read the entire poem, copied out in Brian's looping handwriting.

'Orpheus'

My tongue travels down
Your young body
A cat lapping
At the milk of your skin
No one has ever touched you here
Again and again
No one has possessed you
The way I now own you
Your eyes golden honey
Framed in lashes so black and thick
That your lids are heavy
with their fateful allure
The midnight of your hair
The milk of your skin
The honey of your eyes
A feast fit for the gods
You make me feel like a god
As I bury myself inside you
Again and again
You renew me
When I fade
You resurrect me
When I have missed my power
You bring me to new life
You bring me to a new voice
I feel that I can sing
Again and again
When I was mute
When I had misplaced
My passion
Again and again
I thought at first
That I possessed you
But I find I am mistaken
I am the one possessed
You occupy my soul
Beautiful One
Forbidden Boy
I cannot stop myself
I have lost myself
In the honey of your eyes
The milk of your skin
The midnight of your hair
Again and again
There is no turning back
Like Orpheus
I am torn apart.

Justin set the sheet of paper down on top of the others. His whole body was cold and his hands were shaking. This was a love poem, definitely. But it wasn't about him. This was not about the 'White Gold Angel.' This was someone else. Someone with dark hair and black eyelashes and honey-colored eyes. Someone forbidden. Someone who Brian was in love with.

Justin shuffled through the other sheets of paper. Poem after poem in Brian's distinctive hand. The same imagery. The dark hair, the milky skin, the honey eyes. Brian touching him. Tasting him. Fucking him. Listening to him sing, his young voice high and soft and sweet. Brian putting his arms around him. Kissing him. Loving him. Brian feeling alive again in his arms.

At the bottom of the portfolio Justin found a snapshot. A black and white picture. This was the boy. It had to be. He had large, lazy-looking eyes, with long, curling black lashes. And a shock of unruly black hair. He was wearing a black turtleneck jersey and a leather jacket over a pair of jeans. He looked very, very young. He smiled at the camera. Shy. Coy.

Justin wanted to rip the photo to shreds, but he didn't dare.

Instead, he put everything back in the portfolio and left it where he had found it on the coffee table. Then Justin put on his coat and walked out of the flat into the freezing rain. He didn't know where he was going, but he didn't look back.

***

Justin walked a long time in the cold drizzle. Then it began to rain harder and he took shelter under an awning.

He watched a few cars go by, the rainwater spraying up against the high curbs. And he watched people pass, hurrying in the rain to reach their destinations.

But one couple was walking slowly. A man and woman laughing and kissing under a large umbrella.

Justin tried to remember the last time he and Brian had done that. Walked in the rain. Held hands. Kissed and laughed so easily. So naturally.

He couldn't remember.

That said volumes.

Justin thought about how you take certain things for granted. That the sun is going to come up every day without fail. You depend on it. You stop thinking about it. Until one day the sun doesn't come up and you're sitting in the dark. Alone.

Justin felt like he was sitting in the dark. Alone. Very alone.

Brian had been trying to tell him this for a while now, but he hadn't been paying attention. He'd been so caught up in the excitement of being successful. Of having money. Being fawned on by people. Flattered. Written about. And working like a demon, too. Justin had never gotten so much work done as he had in the last year. Achievement spurred him on. Brian's pride in him spurred him on. But he had lost sight of why he was doing it. Who he was doing it for. They both had.

Justin remembered how Brian had wanted him to go to Hamburg with him. To keep him warm through the cold German nights. But it had been impossible. He had to stay. He had obligations. He had work to do. Very important work.

And so did Brian. So he went to Hamburg alone. Justin remembered the late night phone call after Brian's first reading there. It was less than a week ago, but already it seemed a lifetime. Brian had practically begged Justin to come to him. To drop everything to be with him. Pleaded with him. But Justin had dismissed him.

"Kiss your pretend boyfriend good night for me, Brian," Justin had told him before he hung up the phone and went back to sleep. And he had laughed.

Justin wasn't laughing now.

Because Justin knew that the boy in picture, the boy in all those new poems Brian had written in Hamburg, had been in bed with Brian even while they spoke on the telephone. The fantasy boyfriend. The virgin boy with the black hair and the honey eyes. That boy had been there where Justin was not.

"You renew me
again and again
When I fade
You resurrect me
When I have missed my power
You bring me to new life
You bring me to a new voice
I feel that I can sing...."

It was a beautiful poem, Justin had to admit. Justin hadn't inspired a poem like that in a long, long time. A new life. A new voice. Maybe that's what Brian really needed. What he wanted. So that he could sing again. With someone else.

Justin found himself weeping like he hadn't wept since Brian had been so sick with pleurisy that first horrible winter they were in Paris. Brian's lungs had always been bad, but that had been the worst. There had been almost no money to pay the doctor or to buy the codeine syrup to stifle Brian's violent cough. So Justin had scrambled to get that money. He'd done things that he had never told Brian about, still hadn't told Brian about. Because Justin knew that if Brian found out where Justin was getting the money for the doctor and the medicine, he'd get out of bed and kill himself trying to pretend that he wasn't sick.

That cold, empty flat where they had lived then was now Justin's studio. Every time Justin turned up the heat while he was painting he remembered when there had been none. When they had clung to each other, shivering on the mattress. When he had listened to Brian coughing all night long until he fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. They were both terrified, but they had had each other. Justin had never doubted Brian's love and knew that Brian never doubted his.

That wasn't all that long ago, Justin thought. Not long ago at all. Only two years. Justin had been so afraid that Brian would die that winter that he would have done anything he had to do to make certain that didn't happen. To make certain that he didn't lose Brian. Anything.

And now he might lose Brian anyway.

They could be one of those couples who drift away from each other slowly until one day they no longer care that one of them is packing his bags and leaving because they both know that it was over a long time ago.

But that wasn't Brian's way. Justin knew that. More likely Brian would tell Justin point blank that he didn't love him anymore. That he wanted him gone. The boy with the honey eyes might well be waiting around the corner. Waiting with his suitcase to move right in. Waiting for Justin to give up and go away. Waiting this very minute.

Justin wiped his eyes.

He'd be fucked if he would give up! Not without a fight!

It had stopped raining. Justin thought about how romantic Paris looked, even when it was wet and cold. And how ironic that was.

Justin began to walk back to the flat. Back to Brian.

***

The flat was silent when Justin walked back in. Brian's poetry portfolio was still lying on the coffee table. Everything was exactly as he'd left it.

Nothing had changed. Or everything had.

Justin went into the bedroom. It was dark and Brian was snoring softly. It had started raining again and Justin could hear the rain hitting against the bedroom window. He went over to the window and lifted the shade halfway.

He had always loved the view from this window. Had always loved his life in Paris. But now Justin wanted nothing more than to get away. For both of them to leave this city and go home. Wherever THAT was. The States. Pittsburgh, maybe. Somewhere else. Anywhere else. Before it was too late.

If it wasn't too late already.

Justin took off his clothes and climbed into bed. As usual, Brian gave off heat like a furnace. Justin moved up close to him, warming himself against Brian's broad back.

Brian stirred. "You're fucking freezing." He turned over to face Justin. "And you're all wet."

"I went out. Just up to the corner," Justin said.

"Out? In this weather?"

"Only for a minute," Justin lied. "I wanted some air."

"You feel like an ice cube. Here," Brian pressed Justin against him, rubbing him all over. Warming him up. "If you get pneumonia, don't blame me."

"I won't," Justin replied. "I never get sick."

Brian snorted. "Tell me that again when I'm spooning chicken soup into you tomorrow."

Tomorrow, thought Justin. He's still thinking of being here tomorrow. That I'll still be here tomorrow.

"You know, Justin, I've been thinking," Brian said. "About us. And... some things."

Justin's entire world stopped.

"I'd like to take some time off after the Holidays," Brian continued. "Get away for a while. I'm sick of dealing with shit all the time! It's nothing but a rat race. I feel like I'm turning into some kind of fucking businessman when I should be acting like a poet. I should be focusing on writing and not all this other stuff. I should be looking for ways to rekindle my inspiration instead of chasing after a bunch of fucking money. I need to do that. I have to -- or I'm going to go crazy."

Justin tried not to panic. Tried not to let his fear show through. "I... I know what you mean, Brian. Sometimes things happen. You forget about what's important." Justin swallowed. "Or sometimes what's important to you might change. You might... might love something one day and hate it the next. You might... might just want to say 'fuck it' and walk away. Walk away from it all." Justin shivered.

"You're still cold." Brian rubbed Justin's back. "So you feel that way, too? Like you want to run away from all the crap? Just say 'fuck it all'?"

Justin couldn't stop shaking even though Brian's body was hot against him. If Brian really wanted to go, what could Justin do? If Brian wanted to leave Justin behind and find new inspiration with another boy, how could Justin stop him? Would Justin even want to stop him? Would Justin want Brian to sleepwalk through each day, knowing that he didn't want to be there? Knowing that he was thinking of someone else? Writing poems about someone else? Knowing that Brian was in love with someone else?

"Sometimes... you have to know when to... to go," Justin whispered. "When to... leave. And when to let go."

Brian sat up in bed. Light from the window caught him, illuminated in the dark. Brian looked like he was all made up of shadows. And Justin could see a fresh mark on his neck, where someone -- not any someone, but that boy in Hamburg -- had bit or sucked him hard.

"Then let's do it!" Brian said excitedly. "Take a month -- fuck, take SIX months! We have plenty of money already. We don't need more. We don't need to live like bourgeois pigs and always go First Class! Shit, we could take a knapsack and hitch down to Greece or Spain. Sleep on the fucking beach! See some new things, live like it really MEANS something! If we run out of money, we could pick up jobs for a day or two and then move on."

"You want to leave Paris?" Justin breathed. "Leave everything behind and just go? Both of us?"

"I know your exhibit at the gallery is important, Justin. Important that it be a success, but THIS is important, too! After your show is over... maybe you could think of going with me? Maybe... you could find the time?"

Justin couldn't even look Brian in the eye because he was afraid that he'd break down. "Brian, I... I... don't know what to say...."

But Brian grabbed Justin by the shoulders and shook him. "Don't say 'no'! Don't say that you're too fucking busy! Please, Justin." Brian's voice broke. "Don't make me beg this time! Don't make me go... by myself. Don't make me leave without you!"

"You don't have to beg, Brian," said Justin, putting his arms around his lover. "I'll go with you. Because that's what I want, too! We've always wanted the same thing. To be together, no matter what. And we always will be. I know we will. It can't be any other way!"

"No," Brian agreed. "It can't be. And I don't want it to be any other way. I know I can be an asshole a lot of the time. Sometimes I don't know how to deal with my fucking emotions. Maybe that's why I write poetry -- to try to put into words what I can't articulate any other way. Because it's too much for me to say -- I'd never be able to say it all if I lived for a hundred years. Never be able to tell you how much I love you."

"You don't have to say it, Brian," Justin sighed and kissed him. "Because I know. And I'll try never to forget it -- or to doubt it -- again."

And then Brian recited a new poem, one he starting thinking about on the plane from Hamburg:

"I wait in darkness
for the dawn
I wait in darkness
for the day
White Gold Angel
wrap me
in your perfect wings
carry me
away from pain
away from fear
away from Earth
Your eyes
like Heaven
Your hands
like Home
Hold me
Uphold me
enfold me
accept me
let me rise
like the sun
White Gold Angel
until the end of my life."

THE END

©Gaedhal, August 2004.

Posted August 17, 2003.