I THINK IT'S GONNA RAIN TODAY

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 64 of the "Queer Realities" series.

The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Jennifer Taylor, Ted Schmidt, Dr. Julius Gorowitz.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian makes plans. Pittsburgh/Springhurst, April 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.

"Broken windows and empty hallways,
A pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles,
The frozen smiles to chase love away.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Lonely, lonely.
Tin can at my feet,
I think I'll kick it down the street.
That's the way to treat a friend...."

***

Sixty-seven hours and fourteen minutes.

Fifteen minutes.

Sixteen.

Too fucking long to be sober.

The minute I walked out of Springhurst I should have headed for the nearest fucking bar. Then I should have found the nearest bathhouse, even if I had to drive to Buffalo to find it.

Buffalo. Do they have bathhouses in Buffalo? Do they even have queers there? They must. We're everywhere. And if there's a fag somewhere -- anywhere -- I can find him. And fuck him.

That's what I should have done. A sixty-seven hour binge. I'd just be waking up now. Or maybe not. Maybe I'd never wake up. Does it fucking matter?

But I'm awake. I'm alive. And I'm sober.

I came back to the Pitts instead. Back to the loft.

Back to....

Why the fuck am I sober? Why the fuck aren't I high?

I don't understand it. I could still go and get fucked up. It would take me ten minutes to find some dope. Five minutes to find some booze. Two minutes to find a piece of ass. One minute to blow the past four months straight to hell.

Then I could start all over again. Or I could just go ahead. Like the last three and a half years never happened.

Never. Happened.

After I left Lindsay and Mel's House of Happiness I drove around for a while. Drove by all my old favorite places. Woody's. Babylon. The baths. The old movie palace, which is now a parking lot. The park where I could always find someone to blow me. The building where Ryder Associates still lurks. The restaurants where I used to take my clients. My favorite clothing store.

I even drove by the entrance to PIFA. I saw students walking around on campus. But I looked away. I didn't want to see him. As if I'd see him. As if he'd be there on a Saturday afternoon when the fucking sun was shining in the late April sky.

It feels strange to drive the Jeep. Like it's not mine anymore. I guess it's not. Well, it'll be gone soon. All this will be gone soon. Part of the past. Maybe that's what I was doing -- saying goodbye to that past.

Goodbye.

I parked the Jeep and walked up and down Liberty Avenue. I felt like a fucking ghost. People saw me, but they only stared. No one stopped me. No one spoke. I'm encased in ice. They can't get near me.

I went into Babylon. What do you do in a place like Babylon when you can't drink, can't get high, and can't fuck? And you don't want to dance. Fuck dancing. Never again. What would be the point?

I heard the whispers. They wanted me to hear them. Not sentences. Nothing complete. Just words. Names. Images. Drifting towards me in the heavy air.

Justin. The backroom. Dylan Burke. Brian Kinney. Fucked up. So fucked up.

That's fucking funny. So funny! It would be so much easier if I really were fucked up. If everything weren't so clear.

But it is clear.

Finally, one of the bartenders leaned over the bar to me. He was hot. I'd fucked him once in the storage room.

"You want your usual, Brian?" he asked, like I'd never been away at all.

My usual. What is my usual? Nothing is usual anymore.

"No," I said. "Information. That's what I want."

"Information?" He frowned. "What kind of information?" He knew what I wanted to hear, he just didn't want to be the one to say it.

I stared him down. But he walked away from me, down to the other end of the bar.

So I went into the backroom to see for myself.

Brian Fucking Kinney returning to his domain. His filthy little kingdom. To the scene of the crime. So familiar. The smell of it. The heat of it. I felt my dick twitch. The body will always betray you in the end. As I wandered through the backroom, hands reached out to me. Beckoned to me like dark, hard sirens. Touched my arms. My hair. My dick.

But they were all strangers. No sign of....

He wasn't there. Of course not. Why would he be here when he knows I'm in town? He knows I'd come here. Where else? He and that smug bastard are together somewhere else. Not here. But at least they aren't fucking in my loft. In my... No. Not my fucking bed. Never there!

But I slept on the sofa Friday night. And Saturday night. Last night, too. I couldn't make myself get into that bed. Stupid, I know. But I couldn't.

I left the backroom. For the last time. Another goodbye. Farewell, faithful come-stained floors!

That's when I saw Theodore. He was with a bunch of tweakers. You can tell the tweakers by the glazed look in their eyes. The slack, open-mouthed smile. That twink he was fucking a while back -- Blake -- he was there, too, hanging on Ted's arm. Theodore looked horrible. Thin and wasted. His fucking hair is falling out. Couldn't happen to a more pathetic guy.

"Brian," he mumbled. "What are you doing here?"

"Not looking for you," I said sharply. I know it sounded mean, but I don't give a fuck about Ted. If he's doing crystal, then he's a bigger lost cause than I thought I was.

But I'm not. I'm not a fucking lost cause. That's when I realized it, looking at Ted. Looking at him going down for the count. Once a loser, always a loser. That so easily could have been me. WAS me. But I'm not a loser. I've come too fucking far. Survived too fucking much.

I can survive this. I know I can. I won't let the booze, or the dope, or the backroom take me down again.

And I won't let Justin take me down, either. I fucking won't.

Ted gazed at me through blood-shot eyes. "Looking for Justin?" he bleated. "Did Emmett tell you what he's been up to? Did Michael? Justin's always been so fucking self-righteous! He knocked me down once in the diner. Did you know that? A sucker punch! That's what it was! Little Blond Riding Hood defending the Big Bad Wolf! Well, fuck him!"

"Shut the hell up, Ted," I warned him. But it's useless. He can't really hear me through the crystal. He can't hear anyone or anything.

"Ask Emmett if you don't believe me!" Ted mumbled, wiping his runny nose with his sleeve. "Ask Em how many guys your perfect boytoy lets fuck him these days!" And that fucker Blake and the other tweakers snickered.

I could have killed Ted right then, but what would have been the point? He's killing himself. He doesn't need me to help him. So let him do it. I walked away.

I walked out of Babylon. A fond adieu. Then I went home and sat on the floor of the loft and stared into the darkness. Stared until I finally dragged myself onto the sofa and fell asleep. I didn't wake up until it was Sunday afternoon.

In the evening I went looking for Emmett. He wasn't hard to find. He was at Woody's, where else? I told him to keep his fucking trap shut. I told them all. And then I left. Another goodbye. It's almost done. Only a few more loose ends to take care of.

Which is why I'm sitting here in the Jeep at 9:00 a.m. Waiting in this parking lot. For...

I see her pull up and get out of her car. She looks very smart and business-like in a dove-gray suit, gripping a stylish briefcase. That's good, because this is all about business. Only business. She goes into the Kramer Realty office. I follow her inside to the lobby.

"Jennifer."

She whirls around, eyes wide. "Brian! You scared me!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." There's a receptionist at a desk and two other real estate agents shooting the breeze. "Can we go into your office and talk?"

"Of course," she nods. She's regaining her composure. That's good. We should both be composed. Low-key. That's the way I want it.

Jennifer takes me into her office and shuts the door. It's a small office, but she's made it her own. Blue curtains at the window and a painting on the wall. It's one of Justin's watercolors. I recognize his style immediately. She has some photos of Justin and his little sister in frames on her desk. Justin when he was about 12, his hair almost white-blond, and another more recent picture. He's smiling in both of them.

"Please have a seat, Brian," she says, sitting behind her desk. "I'm glad you came to see me this morning. Because I know that you and Justin...."

But I hold my hand up to stop her. "There is no 'me and Justin.' I know that now. I'm sure Justin told you some kind of horror story about my behavior Friday night. Well, whatever he said is true. But I... I wasn't expecting to have everything blow up in my face right there, right then. I guess I should have expected it, but I wasn't paying enough attention."

"Justin didn't tell me anything about what you did or said, Brian," Jennifer says slowly. "I know something happened between you two, but Justin isn't talking about it. Frankly, he's hardly left his room since he showed up at my house on Friday night in a taxi."

"Then it doesn't matter," I say. "Whatever Justin decides to tell you is the truth. If he wants to blame me, that's all right. I'm a fucking asshole and it's always my fault in the end, anyway, so fuck it. But that's not why I'm here." I take a sealed envelope out of my pocket. "I'd forgotten that this was the last week of classes at PIFA until Lindsay reminded me. Justin left without taking his computer and the stuff in his studio. I'm sure he'll need it for his final projects, or exams, or whatever." I put the envelope on the desk and push it towards her. "The keys and codes for the building are all in here. I only ask that he call beforehand and leave a message letting me know when he's coming to get his things. That way I can get the hell out of there until he's finished."

Jennifer picks up the envelope and weighs it in her hand. There isn't much inside -- except an entire life that's now defunct. Then she looks at me, her eyes full of concern. "Brian, is this really necessary?"

"Yes," I say more abruptly than I'd intended. So I take a deep breath and speak more softly. "I mean, it's necessary for me. I know there's still some of his clothes and books in the loft. I'll sort it out and pack it and he can pick it up later. I'll be going through all my junk, but I need a little time to do it. But it won't be very much longer, I promise. Which brings me to the second part of why I'm here."

"Second part?" Jennifer blinks.

"I want you to list my building. When it sells, you should get a nice commission out of it. The area around Fuller and Tremont used to be lousy, but now it's a trendy place to live. Real estate in the neighborhood is booming, as you undoubtedly know."

Jennifer looks almost as surprised as Lindsay did when I told her. "You want to sell your building? But why?"

"Because I'm planning to leave Pittsburgh for good and I want the cash to put in trust for Gus and the new baby. The building is about 50 years old, but it's in good condition. The ground floor is empty, the second is rented out -- the guy still has about 8 months on his lease, I think. The third floor is -- was -- Justin's studio. My loft is on the top floor. I'll throw in most of the furniture, too. I won't need it in L.A. I just had the house out there remodeled." I smile at the irony. "I had the poolhouse redone as an art studio. Had them put in big windows and skylights so the place would be filled with light. Maybe I'll take up painting and get some use out of it."

"Brian, I...." she begins.

But I stand up quickly. I need to leave right now if I'm going to make my next appointment on time. "That's it. If you're going to start showing it right away, let me know. The sooner the better. I'm only planning to stay in town another two weeks or so, just to wind everything up. After that you'll never have to see my face again -- unless you buy a ticket to one of my films!" I pause, but she only stares at me. She's got that same stunned stare that Justin has when he can't think of what to say. It must be hereditary. "That was meant to be a joke. A bad one, I guess. Have the contract drawn up and I'll stop by tomorrow and sign it. Thanks." I hold out my hand for her to shake it. Then I can get the fuck out of here.

Jennifer stands up slowly. But she doesn't take my hand. Instead, she gazes at my face, like she's trying to read me. Trying to understand where it all went wrong. "Brian, you and Justin need to talk to each other."

No. I'm not getting into this with Justin's mother. No fucking way!

"That's not why I came here," I tell her, gritting my teeth. "This is business. If you don't want to handle this sale, say so. But don't try to play marriage counselor, Jennifer. It's too late for that. Justin's made his decision and I'm trying to accept it. But that doesn't mean I want to discuss it."

"Brian," she says more forcefully. "Justin hasn't made any kind of 'decision' that I know about! But if all of this is about that Dylan, then...."

I shut my eyes. I feel like I'm about to throw up. But I manage to keep my stomach in check.

"Jennifer, you should be asking Justin about this, not me. I'm only trying to get the hell out of it without going out of my fucking mind! I'm only trying to save a little of my shredded dignity." My voice drops almost to a whisper. "If there's any dignity left to save. But I'm sure you'll love this Dylan. He's exactly what you've always wanted for your son. What everyone's wanted for Justin! Dylan's young. He's hot. And he isn't trailing a rap sheet of bad behavior as long as my dick! He's what Justin wants and what Justin needs. And what I need right now... is to leave."

I barrel out of her office and out the door of Kramer Realty, Jennifer calling after me as I go. But I ignore her. I've already said too fucking much! I get into the Jeep and peel out of the parking lot, almost hitting a fucking SUV in the process.

I have a feeling Jennifer isn't going to take this job. I'll have to call Cynthia and ask her to find me another real estate agent. Too bad. That building is going to sell for a mint. If she doesn't want that commission it's her own fucking problem.

I have other problems to deal with myself.

***

"Why do you think you've remained sober, Brian?" he asks.

I shrug. "How the fuck do I know?"

"Don't evade the question," Dr. Gorowitz demands. "Answer it." Gorowitz's eyes are like fucking lasers, boring into me.

"Because I have to," I reply. "I have to... or I'll fucking die." I think of seeing Ted at Babylon on Saturday night. His empty eyes. "I'll end up a loser. A pathetic loser. And I'm not a loser." I look the Doc directly in the eye. "I'm not lost yet. And I don't plan to be. I can't let the fuckers win."

"What fuckers?" he asks.

"The ones who want to see me fail. The ones who'd love nothing more than to see me alone. Fucked up and mindlessly dancing my life away in some club. Unable to change. Unable to move forward. Unable to be anything but 'Brian Fucking Kinney.' That's being a pathetic loser. That's being unable to recognize when it's time to... to grow up and be a man." I pause, almost unable to go on. But I have to. "To know who I am and what I really want to be. And not to end up like my Old Man. Regretting at the end every choice he ever made in his pathetic life. Dying unloved and virtually alone."

"And that means you want to live?" Gorowitz asks softly. "You see a future for yourself?"

"Yes," I admit. "I fucking want to live. I have two kids now. I want to be there for them. I want to see them grow up. I don't want them to think about me the way I think about my own father, only remembering all the painful moments. Only remembering how I didn't want to follow in his footsteps -- and almost ended up doing exactly that."

"And what about your partner?"

Gorowitz won't let anything slide. He just won't.

"He's made his decision. You called it before I did, Doc. I need to rely on myself and not on Justin. I could never live up to his expectations. So it's better for him to find a future with someone who gives him what he's looking for. And if that's this new guy -- this Dylan Burke -- then he should go for it."

"But he hurt you, Brian," says Gorowitz.

"No shit!" I huff. "But I hurt him, too. Hurt him so many fucking times. I can't go back and erase those mistakes, Doc. Those mistakes add up. Justin obviously hit the breaking point and finally gave up. And I don't blame him for that."

"But you're still angry at him." Julius Gorowitz states the fucking obvious!

"He lied to me," I answer carefully. I don't want to lose it in front of the Doc. "He used me. He wanted to have it both ways. He wanted his new boyfriend, but he also wanted what I could give him. My loft. My Jeep. My... my fame, I guess. He must have been so pleased with himself that he pulled it off for so long. That's what makes me angry. And what hurts so much. More than Justin fucking -- or getting fucked -- by someone else. That's only sex. It's the fact that I trusted him. I... I told him I loved him -- and he used that against me. He counted on me loving him so that he could betray me. That's what I can never forgive."

Gorowitz frowns. "Are you certain that's what he did? Are you sure that's the way it happened?"

"Of course." Gorowitz should have been a fucking lawyer! He asks too many questions. "That's what happened. And I fell for it. I'd probably still be falling for it if I hadn't walked in on Justin's fuck pal standing in my loft, ready for a 'romantic' evening. Candles. Wine. Even flowers. Talk about feeling like a fucking fool! They both played me, Doc. And I won't be played."

"Did you sit down and talk to Justin about all this, Brian?" Gorowitz taps his finger on the desk. He does that when he's unconvinced about something. Tap tap. Tap tap. "Did he admit that's what was happening? Did he explain why he did it?"

I shrug. "We talked. Sort of. I was pretty upset -- and so was Justin. But he didn't deny what I could see with my own eyes. He never denied it."

I keep thinking about the roses I sent him. And how he threw them away. That whole weekend at the cottage was a sham. A fucking sham. And the real reason he didn't want me at the Warhol Museum. He told me it was because he didn't want me to usurp his moment of glory. And that hurt me, even though I understood it. But that wasn't the reason at all. It was because Dylan Burke would be there. Because he wanted to share that moment with someone else. Because he's in love with someone else.

"I can't force Justin to love me when he no longer does," I say. "The same way that Ron couldn't force me to love him when I didn't. I tried to do it, but it didn't work. It would have been so much easier if I'd been able to love him and only him. But I couldn't let go of Justin. Couldn't forget about Justin. If I'd been able to do it... maybe things would be different now. Maybe Ron would still be alive. But I can't go back and change the past. I can't forget how I felt then. And I can't bring back the dead. The only thing I can do is move forward."

"And how are you doing that, Brian?" Gorowitz stops tapping his finger on the desk. Thank God. He was making me fucking nervous.

"I'm going to leave Pittsburgh for good. I'm putting my building on the market. I'll probably give the Jeep to Michael. Unless his lover, David, won't let him have it. Good old Dr. Dave hates my fucking guts. In that case, I'll sell it. I have my house in L.A. -- Ron's house. I'll live there. I'll make 'Red River.' Then I'll decide the next step. I have a screenplay I want to produce. My friend Dorian is interested in directing it. A low budget, independent picture. After that -- who knows? I might go to London and spend some time there. See what comes up."

"Sounds a bit random, Brian," says Gorowitz.

"That's the nature of acting, Doc," I inform him. "You go with the flow. 'The Olympian' was a critical success and it made some money, but it wasn't a blockbuster. I'm no Jimmy Hardy who can write his own ticket in the business. And I'm openly gay. That's not exactly a plus for an actor. But I'll survive. If 'Red River' is a huge hit, that might change things. But I'm not counting on anything."

"And what about relationships?" Gorowitz's has his poker face in place.

"I'm finished with that," I proclaim. "No boyfriends, no partners, no commitments. I can't very well pick up random tricks anymore because they'll all go straight to the fucking tabloids. But there will always be guys I can fuck. Fuck buddies. Guys who know the score. Guys who won't run to the press to tell all. Maybe one day I'll find someone who...." I stop. All I can see is Justin. Justin Justin Justin. "Who I can have some feelings for. But not right now. I can't take the fucking chance. I have to get used to being by myself again. But I can do it. I'll be okay."

Gorowitz is silent, watching me. Then he sighs and glances at his watch. "I think our time is up, Brian. And you have a long drive back to Pittsburgh."

He stands and I stand up with him. I feel awkward. Like something important is ending here, too. Gorowitz is telling me I'm really finished with rehab. It's all up to me now.

"Thanks, Doc." I take his hand. "Can I come back? I mean, if I need to?"

"You know the answer to that," he says, squeezing my hand firmly. "Always remember that there's no such thing as a 'last chance.' You can always help yourself. There's always another opportunity to get it right, Brian. And I don't mean only your sobriety."

I know he means Justin. I know he means love. But I can't think about that now.

I can only take it day to day. Minute to minute.

I walk out of Springhurst. I look up at the sky.

I think it's going to rain.

***

"Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Lonely, so lonely.
Tin can at my feet,
I think I'll kick it down the street.
That's the way to treat a friend.

Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

(Randy Newman)

Continue on to "Voicemail".

©Gaedhal, February 2006.

Posted February 1, 2006.