This is Part 4 of Chapter 116 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Inside Out -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Ron Rosenblum, Jimmy Hardy, Tess Hardy, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian must steel himself for the London premiere of 'The Olympian.' London, December, 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.
My head is still spinning when we get back to our suite. Tess is waiting there, knitting some huge scarf that mainly seems to be an excuse to do something with her hands. When we walk in, she immediately drops the knitting, stands up, and goes over to Jimmy. "Well?" she asks.
Jimmy just shakes his head and heads to the minibar to pour himself a drink.
Brian hasn't said one word to anyone since we walked out of the press conference. He heads directly to our bedroom and shuts the door behind him. Ron does the same thing, except he SLAMS his door.
"THAT must have gone just swell!" says Tess, turning to me.
"It was so painful, Tess," I tell her. "I'm glad you weren't there. It got vicious at the end."
Tess winces. "I imagine I'll read all about it on the front page tomorrow," she sighs. "Where's the rest of the crew?"
"I think Dorian went home. He looked a little green after the press conference. And Howie Sheldon is still down there, talking to some people from the studio." I pause. "Tess, let me warn you -- I think Jimmy and Howie Sheldon made plans for you guys to go out tonight to some fancy restaurant in Kensington. Sheldon asked Brian and me, too, but you can imagine what Brian had to say about that!"
"Yes, I CAN imagine," says Tess. "Poor Brian. He's not used to living in the public eye where everything he does is open to scrutiny. But I want to know how are YOU holding up, Justin? Because this has to be as hard for you as it is for him. Maybe harder, because you never asked to be in the spotlight."
"I'm shaky, but I'll survive," I reply. "My whole career isn't on the line like it is for Brian. I don't have as much to lose as he does. Let's face it, Brian is a strong guy and he usually doesn't give a damn what other people think, but this is hitting him in all of his most vulnerable spots, Tess: his past, his family, his sex life, Ron -- and me. If it were just his career that was at stake, he'd probably say 'fuck it' -- but it's more than just that. So much more than that!"
Tess reaches over and hugs me. I mean, she really squeezes me tightly! "I'm so glad you're here, Justin. You can never know just glad. You take care of Brian, and I mean that -- he needs someone to take care of him now. And you are the only one who can do it."
I swallow. Because Tess is wrong -- I DO know just how glad she is that I'm here. Because I know all about Jimmy and Brian -- in fact, I know a lot more than I want to know. Like that Jimmy is still completely infatuated with Brian. It's so obvious in everything he does. At least, it's obvious to me, so it must be obvious to Tess, who is so smart and observant. But she still cares about Brian because he's her friend. And now she cares about me, too, and about helping me stay strong throughout this ordeal. So I don't want Tess to see me wimping out at all. "I can do it, Tess. I really CAN take care of Brian -- and I will. I promise."
Tess pats me on the shoulder. "I'd say 'good boy,' Justin, but you're not a boy any longer. You're 20 years old now and more of a man than anyone else around here, so I'll say, 'good man.' And you ARE a good man with a very good heart. But I think you already know that. And Brian knows it, too. If you need any help -- with anything -- just let me know." And then Tess goes over to the minibar to make certain that Jimmy doesn't have more than one drink. I guess he tends to overdo it whenever he's under stress. Gee, what a surprise!
I go into our room. Another big surprise -- Brian is lying on the bed, still fully dressed, with the curtains drawn and all the lights off. The first thing I do is lock the door. I'm pretty sure we won't be going out anywhere tonight and I want to make certain that no one -- like Jimmy or Ron -- comes barging in. Then I turn on the light in the bathroom, which gives me enough light to see what I'm doing without giving Brian a reason to bitch. Then I go over to the bed and begin to undress him.
"I can do this myself, you know," he mutters, his face burrowed deeply into the pillow.
"I know you can Brian, but you haven't. And I can do it for you -- if you'll let me," I answer, pulling off his boots, then unbuttoning his pants. He sighs and sits up, taking off his jeans and then his shirt and tossing them across the room. They land somewhere near the suitcase, but Brian doesn't seem to care. He flops back down and buries his head back in the pillow.
I get undressed myself and then pull back the covers. "Get under," I order. I'm a little surprised at how easily he just does it, but the room is very cool and I can see that he's shivering. But maybe it isn't from the cold. So I get into bed and move as close to him as I can get. As usual, his body feels hot -- Brian radiates heat like a fucking furnace -- so I know for certain that it isn't the December chill in this hotel room that is making him shake. So I just wrap my arms around him and finally Brian turns to face me and clutches me tightly.
"I had this weird dream last night, Justin," he says. "We were on the boat. No, not on 'La Diva'! It wasn't a dream about THAT! We were on 'The Colleen' up on the Island. It was summer and just the two of us. I was wearing an old pair of faded jeans and you had on your blue Speedo and that silly 'First Mate' shirt and that's all we owned. Just that and the boat. And we were cruising along and we were so happy.... I know it really is true that we were up there on the lake, but it seemed like something I only dreamed and that never actually happened. It seemed like something that was gone and could never return. And that's why I was dreaming it, because that kind of happiness has moved off only into the world of dreams. It can never happen again. Because I ruined it forever, Justin! I did! We'll never be happy again! Or have any privacy or live a normal life! No fucking way! I've seen to that with my fucking stupidity."
"That's not true, Brian!" I reply. "You're just being a drama queen."
"No! It IS true! A year ago I had everything I needed to be happy. I had my job, my loft, my Jeep, my friends, my son, and enough money to indulge myself like a spoiled brat whenever I felt like it. There was no need for me to change or to grow up. And I also had you -- to fuck and to dance with and to talk to and just to hang out with. But that wasn't enough for Brian Fucking Kinney! No! I had to fuck myself over looking for some fucking fantasy from my past! Looking for something that was never real. Something that I'd idealized so much that nothing and no one could ever live up to that ideal. And I threw away everything that WAS real -- all for nothing! All for this fucking nightmare!"
"Brian, it isn't as bad as you think," I reassure him. "It really WILL go away eventually. And then we'll go back to our regular life. Really."
"No, Justin. It'll never be like it was. Because I fucked up -- again. Always!" he whispers. "Why can't I EVER do anything right? I try -- I really fucking TRY, Justin, but it's never any good. And this is my biggest fuck-up EVER! Now I have to figure out some way to make this up to YOU. To make this up to everyone! Some way to fix all this! I have to! There must be some fucking way!"
"You know, Brian," I say, quietly. "You don't always have to fix everything. You don't always have to take care of everyone. You don't. I know you automatically go into major 'fix-it mode' whenever someone you care about has a problem. You've done it again and again for Michael, with school and his store and probably a million other things I don't even know about. And you paid off Deb's mortgage and all her debts and also made sure that Vic's health care is always the best. And you've performed your fix-it magic for Lindsay and Mel, even if they don't always acknowledge it. You've even helped out Ted, although he can be such a bitch to you. I even know how you saved Emmett from getting beaten up at Babylon that time when he was just new in town."
Brian lifts his head up. "Who the fuck told you about THAT?"
"Emmett, of course! Who else?" I wait a second before I continue, but I just have to ask because I've been dying to know. "Brian, I won't tell anyone else, not even Em, but I just HAVE to know the truth! Did you really fuck Emmett that night? I mean, he doesn't remember a thing because he was so high on crystal, but... did you?"
I hear Brian snort into his pillow. "What a fucking question!"
"I know it's really rude for me to ask you, but...."
"No, Justin," says Brian turning his face towards me. "I mean, what a RIDICULOUS question! He was some nameless twink, I took him home, he wakes up in my bed, I tell him to get the fuck out in the morning... What do YOU think?"
And I have to laugh at Brian's description of his old method of operation. "So, you DID fuck Emmett! Thanks for telling me. I've always wondered. But I promise I won't tell anyone."
Brian snorts again. "Believe me, Emmett is only pretending not to remember! No one gets fucked by ME and forgets it -- I don't care HOW high they are!" And he buries his face back in the pillow. "So why don't you just let me alone now to wallow in my misery? I'll call you in a couple of weeks when I'm feeling better."
"Brian!" I sigh. "I'm only trying to point out to you that you always think you have play 'Daddy' and try to fix everthing. We all love you, Brian, and we'll continue to love you no matter what you do for us. But you don't have to do everything for everybody ALL the time, EVERY time. Let someone else do it once in a while." I pause for a moment and take a deep breath. "Let ME do it for you, Brian, just for a change. Let me take over a little of that load of responsibilities you feel you have to carry around. Admit it, you're going to have to let me take over at least a little bit of your angst if we're going to be partners for real. That's the way it works."
"But THIS is MY fuck up, Justin! You can't fix THAT!"
"I seem to remember that there were TWO people in those pictures, Brian," I remind him. "So I might already be slightly involved in this little fiasco."
"But Justin, there is more to this than just us! So many people are depending on ME! Ron. Jimmy. The whole fucking studio is depending on me! If this picture tanks, it will be ALL my fault! Ron put 10 years of his life into getting 'The Olympian' made -- and he warned me not to do anything that would screw it up! But I just blew him off!" Brian closes his eyes. "And this is going to affect Gus! And it's already affecting your mother and sister, too! Jesus Christ! And Michael and...."
"Brian, stop!" I tell him, putting my hand over his mouth. "You're panicking and that isn't going to do anyone any good. We've gotten through the worst of it. All that shit about us and the photos and everything -- that's all out there already. Now we just have to go on from there and deal with it. We have to just LIVE, Brian, without you always thinking you can fix everything. I know you want to so badly. And you've done it so many times in the past that maybe people have come to expect you always to be there to save them, like some kind of beautiful queer superhero!"
"Now you sound like fucking Mikey and his stupid comic book!"
"I know. I'm illustrating that 'stupid comic book' -- remember? And you're the model for our hero, of course. Who else?"
"Some fucking hero!"
"Yes, definitely some fucking hero, Brian! To ME you are! And that's exactly what you were at the press conference. A big, beautiful, larger-than-life, out and proud queer superhero. And they all could see that's what you were. And some people were scared shitless by that. But others will be inspired by it. I know I'm inspired by it. Always."
"Yeah, sure," he mumbles into the pillow.
I run my hand along his neck. There's something about his long neck and his funny jaw line that I love to touch. I love drawing it, too. "You don't HAVE to try and fix everything ALL the time Brian. Because you're a superhero just by being yourself and surviving and showing them all that they can't get to you. That they can't get to US. Because in the long run it all comes down to you and me. Yes, even with all our fuck-ups -- yours AND mine! -- we STILL want to be together. We still know we belong together. We'll get our privacy back, eventually. Maybe things won't be exactly the way they were before, but things will be good again. And it doesn't matter whether you're a movie star or an ad executive or a queer superhero -- or just a guy bumming around on his boat with his boyfriend. That's okay with me."
"Right! Now you really want to live on the boat? Like Larry the fucking Hippy?"
"Why not, if it makes you happy? It doesn't matter to me whether we live on the boat in Los Angeles, or in a townhouse in London, or in your loft in Pittsburgh -- or in a tent by the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It doesn't matter, Brian. As long as we're together."
"Oh, Jesus!" Brian groans. "I just had such a fucking moment of deja vu! You, standing in the loft, saying those exact words right after I came home in a rage with a duffle bag full of your fucking underwear and the worst headache of my life! 'As long as we're together'! And I said to you, 'We're NOT together!' What a goddamn bastard I was to you! And that was only one crummy time out of a thousand instances when I was a complete shit! Why the fuck are you STILL here, Justin, after all I've put you through?"
I shrug, which is hard to do when someone has his arms around you so tightly and is pressed against you like paint on a wall, unwilling to let you go. "Because I love you, that's why, Brian. It's pretty simple. I remember that moment, too. I was a whining little brat and I don't know how YOU had the patience to put up with me, so you must have liked me, at least a little bit! So we are even on that score. But what that memory proves is how much we've BOTH grown up. And that's progress. It really is!"
"But I've been SUCH a fucking prick all these years that...."
I have to laugh at that. Of course Brian is a prick! And a selfish asshole. And also a caring lover, friend, and father. He's also a frustrating bundle of insecurity and rampant ego. That's what makes him Brian! "That 'poor little me' crap doesn't work with me, remember? I'm the one who's on to you. I've always been on to you. I don't buy that pitiful pose, so you better knock it off right now. And you can't push me away or off a fucking cliff, either, so don't even try. That 'killing you with kindness' thing? I think it still works. Especially right now. This is when you need it the most. And I'm the one who can give it to you! So... now we're going to do something REALLY out of the ordinary," I say.
Brian pulls himself up higher on the pillow. "All right. I've got this new lube I bought in West Hollywood. I've been saving it for a special occasion! It's called 'Elbow Grease' and it's supposed to be ideal for fistfucking! At least that's what they say." And he has this very innocent expression on his face.
"So, let me get this correct, Brian. You want to end this 'perfect day' -- the day you had to bare your soul in front of a couple hundred reporters, television cameras, and an audience of millions -- you want to END this day by taking ME to the Emergency Room with your FIST stuck up my ass? That's your idea of a good way to conclude all this?"
"Well...." he says. And then he bursts out laughing. It's great to hear that laugh. He looks so un-Brian-like when he's laughing. Like the mask is finally lifted and you can see the Real Brian -- the funny, adorable, undamaged Brian he should be all the time. The one I'm going to encourage him to be all the time from now on!
"No way, asshole!" I say, punching his arm gently. "I mean something really out of the ordinary FOR US."
Brian stops laughing and gets a panicked look on his face. "Justin, we've had this discussion before -- and I just can't right now! It's not that I don't want you to fuck me, it's just that... that... I just can't, Justin! Not... not yet."
"That wasn't what I was going to suggest," I tell him very softly. I know he has a lot of issues about bottoming and has had them ever since those two guys fucked him over the last time he was in London. We've talked about it before and even tried to doing it once, but it was like when I couldn't let him touch me after I was bashed. So I didn't push it. "Brian, I only want you to relax and go to sleep and I'll hold you. That's all. No pressure. You don't have to do anything or think about anything -- not even fucking. And when you wake up, we'll go on from there. Our new life. Just the two of us. Okay?"
He looks at me. Really looks me straight in the eyes. "Okay," he answers, sniffing slightly. And that's what we do.
"I'm NOT fucking going!" he yells, throwing the trousers of his Armani tuxedo across the room. "And I don't want to hear another thing about it!"
"Fine," I answer. "But I came all the way to England to go to the premiere of your picture, Brian -- and I'm going!"
"Well, fine then," he says. "Go and have fun!"
"Okay, fine!" I reply. "I WILL!"
There's a knock on the door. "Hey, guys, do you want me to call for Dr. Phil or Jerry Springer to referee this bout?"
"Shut the fuck up, Jimmy! You're NOT the least bit amusing!" yells Brian.
"Well, whichever you decide, you two better get a move on, because the limo is going to be downstairs in 20 minutes to take us over to Leicester Square," Jimmy says.
Brian pulls the bedroom door open. He's standing there in his skimpy 2(x)ist jockstrap and his tuxedo shirt because he's changed his mind about 10 times already about whether he's going to the premiere or not. I just keep getting ready and reminding him of the time, because I assume that when push comes to shove Brian isn't about to NOT show up at the premiere and let Jimmy and Ron take all the bows. Brian might be terrified of the crowds and embarrassed by those photos, but his ego won't allow for him to completely wimp out on this occasion. At least, I don't think so.
"I'm NOT going! And that's final!"
Jimmy cocks his head and smirks. "Come on, Bri! Don't be a baby! The worst of the nutty crap is over! Tonight is all about the good stuff! The fans! The picture! The party...."
"The press!" Brian spits. "Like I said -- I'm NOT GOING! Why won't anyone fucking believe me?"
Ron comes out of his room. He's all dressed -- he's even tied his own bow tie -- and he looks pissed. "Go and finish getting dressed NOW! And I mean it, Brian! You aren't blowing off MY premiere! It was your own idiocy that caused all this bad publicity for MY film -- and you aren't going to add to it by not showing up tonight! So get your ass in there and get ready!"
"You can't order me around, Ron, so don't even try it!" Brian storms. "I'm not your fuck toy anymore -- and I don't have to listen to you OR do anything you tell me to!"
I'm standing right behind Brian, so I can't see his face, but I CAN see Ron's face, which is purple with fury. "You may think you're a big man, Brian, but you're still just a little foul-mouthed punk! And when you ACT like a grown man, then I'll treat you like a grown man -- but until then and while you're STILL connected with this picture you WILL do what I say! I'm the director! That fucking Julian Brithewaite was right about one thing -- you wouldn't even BE here if you weren't a good fuck because your acting wouldn't get you a dog food commercial!"
Tess comes out of her room and stands there in her long red Vera Wang gown, clutching her hairbrush in her hand. "Jimmy!" she orders. "Do something!"
Jimmy sighs and moves forward, grabbing Ron's arm. "Ron, you know that isn't true! You've told me a hundred times how good an actor Brian is. So WHY do you say shit like that now? You're upset and that's only making things worse!"
I can see the muscles in Brian's neck go all taut. I try to reach over and grab Brian's arm, too, but he steps forward too quickly, right up into Ron's face. "At least you agree that I'm a good fuck, Ron. Although how YOU would know what a good fuck is is beyond me -- since you haven't had sex with someone you didn't have to pay for in the past 15 years! When the guy has the cash in his hand, you ALWAYS tell him how great he was! You ought to know ALL about THAT! Right, Ron?"
Ron yanks out of Jimmy's grasp and smacks Brian right in the face. But it's almost as if Brian is expecting it, because he flinches, but he doesn't step back. He just stands there, staring at Ron. Ron is only slightly shorter, so they are practically nose to nose, glaring. But Brian doesn't raise his hand. Ron stands there, like he's waiting for Brian to hit him back. But I know -- and I think we all know -- that Brian will never hit Ron. Ever.
I see Ron lift up his hand to hit Brian again -- and something snaps in me. Suddenly I'm in front of Brian, pushing Ron as hard as I can. He's taller and heavier, but I'm younger and quicker -- and he doesn't expect me to be there.
Ron stumbles back and Jimmy catches him. "You fucking little asshole!" he screams at me. "I should kick your big rear end out that window and all the way down Park Lane!"
"Just try it!" I scream back. I can feel my face all hot with anger. "Brian may not strike back, but I WILL! I might not win a fight with you, Ron, but you'll know that you've been in one when we're finished!"
And everything just stops right there. I can see Ron hesitate. He knows that what I'm saying is true. I've been in a fight or two in my time -- I'm not some little untouched princess and I have the fucking baseball bat scars on my head to prove it! Then I feel Brian's hand on my shoulder, pulling me back, gently. Ron tosses me one last hateful look and then he marches back into his room, slamming the door.
Brian turns me around slowly and ushers me back into our room, closing the door behind us. He puts his arms around me and touches his forehead against mine and we stand there for about a minute, just staring into each other's eyes in silence.
"Well," Brian says, finally. "I guess I better get dressed for the premiere."
For security reasons we all go over to the movie theater on Leicester Square in the same limo, which makes for a rather tense ride. Jimmy is chattering away nervously, while Tess sits, gripping his hand tightly and looking as worried as I've ever seen her. Ron has wedged himself into a corner, just like on the chartered airplane, and he won't even look at anyone. In any other circumstances I'd feel sorry for him, but not after all that stuff he said to Brian! THAT I can't forget about!
And Brian sits, staring straight ahead and doing all of his little anxious gestures. Poking his tongue into the side of his cheek. Squinting up his eyes. Biting his nails. Fluffing his hair. Clenching and unclenching his hands. He says something to Tess about the chilly weather and his voice breaks in the middle of the sentence, shooting up a full octave. I think it's so cute when that happens but Brian looks horrified -- I know he's now afraid that he'll do it again the minute anyone points a microphone at him and asks how he's feeling!
I take hold of his right hand and give it a strong squeeze. He really does look impossibly gorgeous tonight. Why is it when he's having his worst, most angst-ridden days, that is when he always looks the most beautiful? Maybe that's Nature's way of making up for all the grief!
Leicester Square is so packed with people it looks like Time's Square on New Year's Eve. The security people there ask who is in our car, then tell us to wait while a few other limos go ahead of us. I think they are making sure everything will be ready when Brian finally gets out of the car and faces the masses!
Our limo idles for a few minutes, then a couple of cops motion for it to go forward.
"Here we go, kids!" says Jimmy, gleefully. "Tess and I will get out first. You guys wait until we're already ALL the way up the red carpet before you get out, okay Bri?"
"What about ME?" says Ron from his corner. "Or am I just supposed to stay in the car and drive around London all fucking night?"
Jimmy shrugs. "Get out whenever, Ronnie. Nobody here knows who you are, anyway. They aren't here to see the director, you know THAT!"
The way Jimmy puts it is true, but also so devastating to Ron -- you can see it in his face. And Jimmy is supposed to be Ron's best friend! Some friend! It's a fact that Ron spent 10 years of his life getting this movie made, but Jimmy has to point out the awful reality, which is that the public really doesn't give a shit about Ron, no matter how much he made 'The Olympian' possible. It's now all about Brian. Even Jimmy understands that, which is why he wants to get his stroll down the red carpet finished before he's overshadowed by Brian's big entrance!
The limo pulls up to the theater and stops and the doorman opens the door. Jimmy is out like a shot, then he turns and helps Tess out of the car. She looks beautiful in her Vera Wang dress -- the deep red color makes her long, curly dark hair really stand out. The crowd goes nuts, of course. Jimmy Hardy may be a lot of things, but he's always a crowd-pleaser. I guess 'America's Boy Next Door' includes England, too, because he's hugely popular over here. He and Tess wave and smile and Jimmy makes a little bow to the fans -- and to the photographers, of course, making sure they get his good side! Ron climbs out just behind them, trying to look inconspicuous.
After Jimmy has had enough adulation from the masses -- at least for now! -- he escorts Tess up the red carpet to where the big commentators from the BBC and the other British and American networks and entertainment shows are standing with their video cameras and mikes. I recognize Bill Brenner from 'Access Hollywood' right up front. Ron trails along behind Jimmy and Tess, but not that many people notice and no one asks him any questions at all. Meanwhile, Brian and I sit in the limo, waiting for the roar to die down, giving Jimmy his big moment.
Brian looks at me. "Do you want to get out first, or after me?"
"Whatever you think, Brian. But they're here to see YOU -- not me!" I smile.
"Don't be too certain, Justin. You're a celebrity, too, now. You probably have your own fans!" He smirks at me. "I bet you have your own fan website -- 'BeautifulJustin.com'!"
"Come on, that's dumb!" I say. But I know I'm blushing.
"You still haven't seen 'Hammersmith,' you know," Brian says. "I wanted you to see it on a big screen. To see yourself and how great you look. I mean it, Justin -- you should be the star, not me. You would know how to handle all this Fame shit with a little grace and not be a clueless idiot like me."
I lean over to kiss him. "I seem to like clueless idiots. And heartless assholes. And selfish guys who only want to get their dicks sucked. And... I know I'm missing a lot of your fine attributes, Brian. You'll have to fill in the blanks yourself."
The doorman pulls open the door of the limo again and gestures for us to get out. I step out first because I'm sitting nearest the door -- and there's a huge roar from the crowd. I turn and smile at them -- and they start cheering! It's so weird! I guess they recognize me -- and I have ALL my clothes on, too!
Then Brian gets out and the place goes into total chaos. There are girls trying to throw themselves over the barricades, photographers fighting with the cops and security guards to get closer to the red carpet, and just a total wall of noise and confusion all around us. Brian looks stunned. I think he would like to bolt back into the limo, but it's pulling away. So there's nothing else for us to do but march up the red carpet.
But first, he turns to me and leans over and gives me a big kiss, right on the lips. It feels like a nuclear explosion, because so many flashes are going off and there is so much screaming. Then Brian reaches over and takes my hand and we slowly walk up the red carpet together. And it's as simple as that.
Continue on to "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2003.
Updated August 4, 2003.