I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 70 of the "Queer Realities" series.

The narrators are Jennifer Taylor and Justin Taylor, and features Molly Taylor, Brian Kinney, Cynthia Llewellyn, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Coming out into the light. Pittsburgh, May 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way,
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind,
It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone,
All of the bad feelings have disappeared.
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day..."

***

"Molly, go and put your dance bag in the car," I remind her. "You have ballet after school today."

She rolls her eyes. "I know, Mom! I have all my stuff right here!" She hoists up the pink bag to show me. "I'm going to need new toe shoes pretty soon. These are getting tight."

New shoes. It's always something. Molly is growing like a weed and I can hardly keep her in clothes. I also need to call Craig and talk to him about Molly's camp this summer. She wants to go to an arts camp and that's expensive.

Molly goes out to the garage while I put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. But she's back a minute later. She makes a face at me and sighs loudly.

"What?" I ask.

"The car's gone," she states.

"What do you mean, the car's gone?"

"Duh!" she huffs. "It's not there, Mommy! How am I going to get to school?"

My mouth is hanging open. Then I remember. Justin took the car last night to go to the Video Festival. He's asked to take the car for the evening a number of times since he's been living here, but he's always been back before midnight. I run upstairs to check Justin's room. His bed hasn't been slept in. This isn't good. I don't know whether to be angry or worried sick. This isn't like Justin at all!

I go back downstairs. "Let me call Mrs. Bailey," I tell Molly. Lisa Bailey lives around the corner. Her daughter, Kari, is in Molly's class. I call her and she says that she'll be happy to pick up Molly and take her to school. "Thanks, I owe you one," I tell her.

I make sure Molly gets off to school, thanking Lisa Bailey once more. Then I call Justin's cellphone. It rings. And rings some more. Justin, please pick up!

Finally, I hear a sleepy voice. "Mom?" he says, tentatively. "Is that you?"

"Justin! Thank God!" I say with relief.

Now that I know he's safe I'm really annoyed. I told Justin that if he stayed here he'd have to follow a few rules. This isn't Brian's loft, where he apparently came and went as he pleased. After all, I'm not running a hotel!

"Where are you?" I say sharply. "And where is my car? I need to get to work! "

That wakes him up. "Oh my God! Your car. I'm so sorry!"

"You better get my car back over here as soon as possible," I inform him. "I know there was a party after the Video Festival, but I never expected you to stay out all night, especially when you know I have to work and Molly has to get to school!"

"You're right," he replies. I hear someone's voice in the background. Whispering to him. "This will never happen again."

"You bet it won't!" I say firmly. "I'm disappointed in you, Justin. I know you're a grown man and that you have your own life, but I thought you had better sense than to stay out all night like this without even letting me know!"

"I said I was sorry, Mom," he says contritely. "I... I totally forgot about your car. It's still in the parking lot at PIFA."

That means I'm certainly going to be late for work. "I hope whoever you're with will at least drive you over there," I say icily.

"I know what you're thinking, Mom," he says. "But it's not like that!" He pauses, as if trying to decide what to tell me. "I'm here at the loft."

That stops me cold. "The loft? You mean that..."

"I'm with Brian," he states. "We're back together. For good, this time."

Brian. I should have known. For Justin, all roads lead to Brian.

"Oh, Justin!" is all I can manage to say.

"Don't say anything more, Mom," Justin says defiantly. "We'll be over there with your car in a few minutes."

A few minutes turns out to be more like 45. I look out the window and see my car, with Justin behind the wheel, pull into the driveway, while the Jeep stops on the street in front of the condo. Justin gets out and waits for Brian to join him. I watch as Brian puts his arm around Justin's shoulder possessively and they walk up to the front door together.

That possession. Brian's sure ownership of my son. That is something I will always have a difficult time accepting.

I know that Justin is still completely enamored of Brian. I understand it, in a way. Brian is handsome and glamorous and his lifestyle was dazzling to an impressionable boy even before he became a movie star. But he's also done so many things to hurt Justin. And I don't only mean the bashing. Leaving him to go to California. His inexplicable relationship with that director, which broke Justin's heart. Those horrible photographs of the two of them having sex on the cover of every tabloid. This constant push-pull, love-hate, breaking up-making up. I swear I'm exhausted from trying to keep track of the two of them and their relationship!

But while I can see Justin's infatuation, the thing I've never really understood is why Brian keeps coming back. I know Justin is a beautiful and talented young man, but, if the stories are true, Brian has known hundreds of men in his life. He could have any man he wanted. So why MY son? Why Justin? Why can't he leave Justin alone?

Not long after Justin was released from the hospital, I asked Brian to stay away from him. To never see my son again. He told me then that he cared about Justin. I suppose that's the closest he could come to admitting that he loved him. In many ways I feel sorry for Brian. I know that he had a horrible childhood and many other traumatic events in his life that make it hard for him to show his emotions. But he's such a damaged man. It would be so much easier if Justin could be with someone with less baggage. Someone closer to his own age.

There's a boy who keeps calling here, Dylan Burke. His family used to live in the neighborhood and he was on Justin's Little League team. His mother was a lovely woman. Then they moved away. Now he's going to school here in Pittsburgh on some kind of athletic scholarship. He's come over a few times, looking for Justin. I think they became friendly again while Brian was in rehab. I know how lonely Justin has been and I think he and this boy may have had a fling of some sort. Outwardly he seems perfect for Justin -- he even looks a little like a younger version of Brian. But then something happened between them to make Justin turn against him. I've asked him about Dylan a few times and Justin snapped at me that he didn't even want to hear his name. That Dylan had betrayed him in ways he couldn't -- and wouldn't -- explain. I walked in on the two of them right after Justin moved back in. They were arguing about something, but I only caught the end of the conversation, so I'm still not sure what really happened between them. But it was something that upset Justin -- something be refuses to talk about.

But if only Justin would find a nice boy his own age! I know it's crazy to hope. He has another friend, Marshall, who's a sweet boy. And that Richard who worked with him on his video is very nice. There are so many boys who'd be so much more suitable... but they aren't Brian. No boy Justin goes to school with or meets at a club is ever going to compare to Brian Kinney. And I suppose I have to accept that. Even if it means more never-ending melodrama.

I open the front door and walk outside.

"Sorry, Mom," says Justin, handing me the car keys.

"I'm late for work," I say. "But this can't happen again, honey. We'll have to talk when I get home."

Justin glances at Brian and then at me. "I won't be here when you get home. I'm going to get my stuff and take it back to the loft. I'm moving back in with Brian."

I have to close my eyes and count to ten. "Justin, I wish you'd think this over before you jump back into a relationship that seems to be on such shaky ground! No offense, Brian, but the two of you can't seem to go for any length of time without some blow up. Justin comes running home and there's a huge upset. Then you two rush back together as if nothing happened -- until the next conflict and the cycle starts all over again! So excuse me if I'm dubious about the whole thing."

"You never want to give us a chance, Mom!" Justin challenges. "It was all a big misunderstanding. But we talked things over and cleared it up. Everything is okay now. Really!"

I shake my head. Justin will never give up on Brian. He'll always find a reason to believe things will be all right. "Whatever you say, honey. I have to go now. I'm showing a house to a client."

"That reminds me, Jennifer," says Brian, his arm still wrapped around my son. "I'll be taking my building off the market. I've decided not to sell it after all. I'll still pay you for the work you've already done. Whatever you think is fair."

I walk by the two of them, opening the door of my car. "That's fine. But if you change your mind next week, Brian, please call another agent."

"I won't change my mind," says Brian. "I apologize for any inconvenience."

I don't say anything else. I just get into my car and head to the office. I need to get to work and stop thinking about Justin and Brian. Stop worrying. Stop trying to understand what they're all about.

But I doubt I'll ever truly understand the two of them. Or ever completely embrace their relationship. So I'll just have to learn to live with it.

***

"Your mom was really pissed off," Brian says matter-of-factly as her car disappears around the corner.

"I can't believe I totally forgot about her car!" I say as we walk into the condo. "Now she's late for work. No wonder she's mad!"

"You had other things on your mind," Brian says with an evil smile. "You were in no position to call your mommy."

"You don't have to remind me!"

Brian follows me up the stairs, looking around as he goes. "I've only been in here a few times. I feel like the wolf in the sheepfold."

"I'm hardly an innocent little lamb," I laugh.

"Not anymore," Brian smirks. "But I'm sure your mother would beg to differ. And your father, too."

"I knew what I was doing when I went to Liberty Avenue that night," I sniff, pushing open the door of my room. "I wanted to get laid. The thing I didn't expect was that I'd fall in love."

Brian makes a face. "You'll always be a hopeless fucking romantic! You didn't 'fall in love' that night, whatever the hell that means. I rimmed you and sucked you and fucked your little blond brains out. I was amazing, I admit, but it wasn't love."

"Whatever you say, Brian," I tell him. "You can believe what you want to, but I know what I felt." I open the closet and drag out my large suitcase. "Most of my stuff is still back at the loft in those boxes. I mainly brought the clothes I'd need for school. I was just shoving things into the bag."

"I didn't give you much time, did I?" Brian says softly. "I'm such a fucking asshole."

"No," I say. "You're Brian Fucking Kinney! Besides, I didn't give you much reason to believe me." I think how close we came to really breaking up for good and shudder. But then I turn to the task at hand. "I won't need a lot of sweaters or heavy clothes in L.A."

"Or in Texas and Arizona," Brian reminds me. "We'll be in a trailer out there. I doubt if there will be much room for an extensive wardrobe."

"I didn't think about that," I concede. "I was only thinking about what to take to L.A."

Brian prowls around my room. He stops at my desk and touches my old iMac. "Your computer is boxed up and sitting in your studio. I was really pissed off when you didn't take it. I was going to send it to you after I left town. That way you couldn't bring it back."

"You think of everything, Brian," I say, smiling at him.

"Hardly!" he exclaims. "You know, we haven't really talked at all about you going to L.A."

"I know. Everything's happened so fast. Twenty-four hours ago we weren't even speaking."

"Or fucking," he smirks. "Decide what you want to take and let's get out of here. I feel like your mom is going to walk in here any minute and start reaming me out."

I pull some shirts out of the closet and toss them on the bed. "She won't be back anytime soon -- she's at work. If you aren't going to help me, why don't you take a shower?" We had to drive over to PIFA to get Mom's car before we came over here, so we just threw on some clothes and left without getting cleaned up. Brian gets cranky if he misses his morning shower -- especially after a long night of hot and sweaty sex!

"Could I?" Brian raises an eyebrow.

"The bathroom is down the hall," I say. "Get a towel and go for it."

He walks out of my bedroom and a few minutes later I hear the shower turn on. I put some underwear into the suitcase. And some socks. But all I can think about is that shower.

I need a shower, too.

So I strip off my clothes and pad down the hall to the bathroom. Thank God my mother can't see this -- me walking naked in her hallway!

The bathroom is hot and steamy. Brian's clothes are in a pile on the floor. I push the shower curtain aside.

"I was wondering how long it would take for you to get in here!" he laughs, pulling me into the tub.

"There isn't a lot of room. It's not like in the loft."

"We'll just have to make do." Brian begins to lather my chest with my mother's pink soap. Then his hands move around to my ass, which he massages slowly and steadily. "There's one thing we don't have."

"No condoms." I close my eyes as he rubs me. That feels great. "I could go back to my room and get one. Or...."

"No," says Brian. "I'll jerk you off. That's enough for now. We're supposed to be getting clean, not fooling around."

"Fucking details!" I sigh, turning around. I lean back against him and let his hands work my cock. I close my eyes and get lost in the sensation. The feeling of Brian's body against mine. The warm water cascading over us. And the thought of what my mom would say if she walked in right now... Jesus! I'm so fucking excited that I come with a rush.

"Good thing we're already in the shower," Brian laughs. "Or we'd have quite a mess to clean up here."

We rinse off and get out of the tub. I blow Brian while he slowly dries his chest with one of my mother's big fluffy towels. It doesn't take him long to come, either.

We get dressed and carry my stuff down to the Jeep. That's when Brian's cell rings.

"It's Cynthia," he says, taking the call. "What's up, Cindy-Lou Who?"

"Christ, Brian," I snicker. "You've turned into such a dyke!"

"Shut the fuck up! I'm trying to talk." Then his face turns serious as he listens to what Cynthia is saying. "I guess we could do that. Yeah, me and Justin. Yes. Yes! Don't say 'I told you so'! Okay, we'll meet you at 12:30. See you then."

He flips the phone shut and climbs into the Jeep, while I get into the passenger's seat. "What's at 12:30?"

"Lunch," he says. "Cynthia has big news. We'll find out when we get there."

"I bet she's getting married," I guess.

"Obviously, since she's engaged to that actor," Brian reminds me. "It has to be something more."

"Maybe she's pregnant?" I try again.

Brian rolls his eyes. "What is it with women and babies? They just won't stop having them!"

"Because they can?" I suggest.

Brian shakes his head and we drive back to the loft. We both change our clothes before we go back out to meet Cynthia -- our clothes from last night are more than a little funky by now.

We stroll into the restaurant at 12:35 -- Brian's small attempt to be fashionably late. But Cynthia isn't there yet. The hostess seats us in a corner table and fusses over us until Brian finally waves her away.

"It's not every day that Brian Kinney eats lunch in here," I tell him.

"Funny, I used to eat here about twice a week when I was at Ryder and that fucking woman never looked twice at me. I think she's a friend of Melanie's." Brian opens up his menu. "In fact, I ate here with Melanie once."

"You had lunch with Melanie Marcus?" I can't picture it.

"It was a while ago. Some legal issue she was advising me on," he says vaguely. "Anyway, I'd stick with the salad. The last time I got a steak here it was overcooked."

Cynthia shows up a few minutes later. She's flustered and immediately calls the waiter over and orders a vodka martini. Both Brian and I stick to Perrier.

"What the hell is going on?" Brian gets directly to the point.

"Marty called us all in first thing this morning and announced that he's sold the agency. He's leaving almost immediately and a new management team is coming in." Her hands are shaking as she picks up her menu. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they were there by the time I get back from lunch!"

"Shit," says Brian. He's definitely surprised. "Who did he sell to?"

Cynthia takes a deep breath. "Gardner Vance."

"Vangard." Brian bites his lip. "Double shit. Vance will take a big broom and sweep the entire place clean!"

"I know!" Cynthia asserts. "This has really hit everyone hard, Brian. When I left half the staff were in their offices crying and the other half were typing up their resumes! It's like a tornado ripped through the building, let me tell you. Luckily it's not so bad for me personally..." She pauses and smiles broadly. "I was planning to leave Ryder this summer anyway. I'm moving to New York! Scott and I are getting married in August!"

"Oh my God, Cynthia! Congratulations!" I tell her, leaning over the table to give her a big hug. And I mean it. I really like Cynthia and I think she'll be happy with this actor, Scott Judson. He seems like a nice guy.

"Christ," Brian grumbles. "Another one bites the dust!"

"Shut up!" I say. Then I ask Cynthia, "Where's the wedding going to be?"

"Here in Pittsburgh at the church my mother goes to." The waiter brings Cynthia's martini and she takes a long sip. "Ah! I needed that! Anyway, all my family is here. We're only planning a quiet ceremony with a small reception. Maybe about fifty guests."

"So what about work?" Brian asks, steering her away from more wedding talk. "Obviously, you don't need to do a big song and dance to impress Gardner Vance if you're leaving anyway."

"That's why I wanted your advice," she says. "I was going to wait until after we get back from the honeymoon to start looking for a job in New York, but this Vance thing has thrown off all my plans. Now I need to start sending out resumes as soon as possible, so I want to know if I can use you as a reference. I'm sure Marty will write one for me -- if he hasn't decamped to the Bahamas or Costa Rica before I get the chance to ask him! But I think your name has a lot more cache, Brian." Cynthia bats her eyes coyly. "That is, if you don't mind?"

Now Brian is really self-satisfied. He loves being asked to do things for people. And I know he's glad to do something for Cynthia, who's been his right-hand-woman for years. He sits back in his chair and smiles smugly. "I'll do better than that. You tell me where you really want to work and I'll call the CEO personally and make the pitch. That way you're sure to get the job."

"After all, who can resist the Kinney Charm?" I add, giving Brian my own smug look.

"Not you, apparently," he deadpans.

"Point for Brian," I mutter.

"Oh, Brian, that would be wonderful! Thanks so much!" Cynthia gushes. "I could just kiss you!"

Brian holds up his hand. "Please, no embarrassing hetero-type displays of emotion. This is a public place!"

"Sorry," Cynthia replies. "What was I thinking?" She glances at me and we both burst out laughing.

"I'm glad you two are having so much fun," Brian grumps. "Let's order."

Brian has the House salad and so does Cynthia. I get the steak. Medium rare. It's cooked perfectly. While we eat lunch, Brian and Cynthia discuss what's been going on at Ryder.

"I think Marty just burned out," Brian decides after listening to Cynthia describe the last few months. "He was never the creative force in the agency. And once I was gone..." He shrugs. "Maybe it was too much work. And Vance has deep pockets. I'm sure he offered Marty a bundle to sell out."

"Will Gardner Vance really fire everyone?" Cynthia asks.

"That's his pattern," says Brian. "Unless you can prove to him that there's a good reason to keep you. Which means that most of Marty's execs are fucking doomed!" Then he laughs.

"It's not funny, Brian," Cynthia chides him. "People are going to lose their jobs!"

"He'll probably keep the best of the Graphics staff," Brian continues. "Murph and Delmore are probably safe. I don't know about the people in Accounting. And he'll need the secretaries -- they're the ones who really know what's going on in any office. But everyone else..." Brian pauses and taps his fingers on the table. "Listen, when you go back to the office, immediately download all your files to your laptop and take home anything else you think you might need in a job search. Lists of clients you brought to the agency. Proposals you've done. Campaigns you've worked on. Concepts you've developed. Don't leave anything important behind. I'm not kidding."

Cynthia's eyes widen. "You think it'll be that bad?"

Brian nods. "Gardner Vance has a reputation as a hard ass. When he buys an agency, he buys everything down to the last paperclip. So if you want to be left with anything to show for your time at Ryder Associates, grab what you think is yours." Brian takes a sip of his Perrier and then gazes at Cynthia with a serious expression. "This is a good time for you to leave. I mean it. Get your resumes out today if possible. The sooner the better. And keep me posted on who to contact."

"But aren't you going to be filming in the middle of the desert for most of June?" Cynthia looks worried.

"I'll still have my cellphone on location," Brian soothes. "And my laptop. I can call or fax from anywhere, my dear. This is the 21st Century, in case you hadn't noticed." Then he puts his hand on my shoulder. "And my personal assistant will be available to handle things as well. Won't you, Personal Assistant Justin?"

"You bet!" I agree. And I lean over to give Brian a kiss on the cheek.

"You two! Now who's into embarrassing public displays of emotion?" Cynthia laughs. "God! I feel so much better than I did when I came in here. Believe me, I had a panic attack when Marty made the announcement -- and I wasn't the only one."

"Uncle Brian will take care of everything." Brian reaches across the table and pats her hand.

"And that reminds me of one other thing I wanted to ask you," says Cynthia. She winks at me, like she's also including me in her plan. "It's about my wedding."

"I can't be your Maid of Honor," Brian says quickly. "I look hideous in pink and I detest chiffon."

"My sister is taking on that job," says Cynthia. "But there's another thing you could do for me. That I'd love for you to do." Then she hesitates.

"Out with it," Brian demands. The waiter brings the check and he grabs it before Cynthia can protest. "What horrible breeder thing do you want me to do?"

"I want you to give me away," she says. "My father died years ago and I barely know my only uncle. You're the most important man in my life, Brian -- besides Scott, of course -- so I really want you to do it. Is that too 'breeder' for you?"

Brian frowns. He wasn't expecting this. "I don't know...."

"Do it, Brian," I urge. "You'll get to buy a new tux!" When in doubt, remind Brian that shopping will be involved.

"In August, huh?" he pokes his tongue against the inside of his cheek like he always does when he's thinking something over. "What the hell? I'll do it."

Cynthia is delighted. When we stand up to leave she gives Brian a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Chief!" she says. And then she hurries back to the chaos of Ryder Associates.

"It'll be fun," I say as we walk back to the parking lot to get the Jeep. "And maybe Cynthia will return the favor and be the Matron of Honor at OUR wedding!"

Brian stops in his tracks and gives me a sickly look. "Shut up! I just ate, you little twat!"

"Whatever," I reply. But I squeeze his hand. "I'll shut up -- for now."

***

"Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies!
Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies!

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way,
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind,
It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day."

(Johnny Nash)

Continue on to "The Air That I Breathe".

©Gaedhal, April 2006.

Posted April 17, 2006.