WHEN I PAINT MY MASTERPIECE

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Page 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 114 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to Page 1 of "When I Paint My Masterpiece -- Part 2".

The director finally lets go of my arm and I race over to the set like I'm on fire! "Brian -- are you okay? Brian?"

He smiles at me. "I'm fine, Sunshine. Just fine. Can I get some more water?" He wipes at his forehead with the back of his hand. He's sweating again. I turn around and yell for someone -- anyone -- to bring over a bottle of water.

"Great show, Jimmy," says Larry as he leaves the set. "You, too, Brian." Jesus! I think -- what show was HE watching?

"Hey, Baby Blue. Great show, huh?" says Jimmy to me brightly. He stands up and stretches like he's totally unconcerned.

"Shut up, Jimmy," I breathe. "You're a fucking asshole."

"Oh, that's no way to be, Justy!" says Jimmy, trying to put his arm around me. "Be a good boy."

"Let go of me, Jimmy," I say. "And I'm NOT a boy, so give me a fucking break!"

Suddenly Debbie is there with a bottle of water. "Here you go, honey," she says to Brian, gently. She glares at Jimmy. He frowns at her. He's not used to people not loving him all the time.

"Thanks, Deb." I unscrew the cap and hand the bottle to Brian, who sucks the water down like he's parched.

"How are you doing, kiddo?" says Debbie, putting her hand on Brian's shoulder. But he just shakes his head. Like he's trying to clear out the fog. He's trying.

"Deb, could you stay here with Brian for a minute?"

"Of course, honey," she says, patting my face.

And I take Jimmy by the elbow and lead him over to the side of the set. "Whoa, there, Baby Blue!" he says. "Where are we going?"

"Stop calling me that, Jimmy," I reply, trying to keep my voice even. "You're acting like a total jerk. And I want to know what you fucking gave Brian before the show? And I also want to know why. Why, Jimmy? Tell me that much."

"Come on, Justy. What are you doing to me here?" says Jimmy, avoiding my eyes.

"Trying to get the truth," I reply. "I think you owe me that much, Jimmy. The truth. Or whatever passes for the truth in your own fucked up brain."

"Justy...."

"Jimmy -- why?"

Jimmy sighs and shrugs his shoulders. "He was a nervous wreck! What can I say? He needed some calming down."

I guess my face shows how I feel about THAT answer because Jimmy winces. "And you see what the result was, Jimmy," I reply. "A zoned out Brian who couldn't even concentrate long enough to put together two complete sentences. You think THAT was a good interview? You think THAT was better than Brian being a little nervous? Really?"

"I thought it would help him! I really did!" says Jimmy. He's squirming now. He keeps looking over at the set. Brian is still sitting in his seat at the desk, drinking water and trying to collect himself. Debbie hovers over him, daring any of the production people to move him until he's ready to go. And he's definitely NOT ready to go yet.

"So, what did you give him? Xanax? What else?"

"Shit, I don't know!" Jimmy answers, running his hand through his hair. I notice that Jimmy's dark hair is beginning to thin. Up close he looks old -- not like 'America's Boy Next Door' anymore. Now, under my scrutiny, Jimmy is looking more nervous than Brian did before the show. Then Peggy comes over and stands next to us, glowering. She's always glowering. "Peg, give me that pill bottle or whatever Ron gave you."

"Ron, huh?" I say, ready to explode. "It figures. Ron gave you pills to give Brian? You KNOW that is fucked up, Jimmy! You KNOW how obsessive Ron is about Brian. How controlling he is. And you know that Brian has been trying to stay clean for months! What did you think you were going to accomplish by giving him that shit?"

"I know, Justin! But... what the hell?" Jimmy whines. Peggy takes the pill container out of her bag and I snatch it out of her hand. Yes, another prescription written by the ever popular Dr. Hall. I need to talk to that new lawyer of Brian's about bringing this quack up on charges of writing phony prescriptions. He's a fucking menace!

"What else, Jimmy? This isn't all he took."

"Nothing!" Jimmy insists. "I swear to God! If he took anything else, I didn't give it to him. Believe me, Baby Blue! Whatever it was, I didn't do it! Just the Xanax. And he's been taking these things forever! I don't know why it's such a big goddamn deal."

"These things are like poison to him, Jimmy!" I say, and I feel like strangling him right then and there. "You ought to know that, having lived in Hollywood for so long. You want to see Brian end up some sad rehab case? Is that what you want to see, Jimmy?"

"I know! I know that you're right, Baby Blue -- but...." Jimmy glances over at the set. Brian finally stands up and waves Deb away from him. He steps down from the platform and begins to walk over to me and Jimmy, Debbie following right behind him. His walk is steady, but his eyes... his eyes have that weird gleam in them. I'm convinced that he's taken some kind of 'E.' I know the look -- and the feel -- of that drug all too well -- from both sides. Maybe Jimmy didn't give it to him, but someone did. And it could have been anyone on this set.

"Hey guys -- what's going on? I'm missing the party here." Brian smiles slowly and drapes his arm over my shoulder. "Sorry you couldn't be on the show, Sunshine. Like on 'Letterman,' huh? That was cool." Brian leans down and kisses me. Then he looks around. "Where's Mikey?"

"Michael and Ben are over there with Vic, hon," says Debbie. "I think we should go and get you some dinner, okay, kiddo? I know all you boys must be starving."

"Then you're ALL going out with me! My treat!" Jimmy says brightly, slipping back into his Party-Boy persona.

I take a deep breath. "I don't think so, Jimmy. I want to get Brian home. I think he needs to rest up and recuperate before the premiere tomorrow night."

Brian pulls me closer to him. "Oh, come on, Sunshine! I'm not tired! The night is young, right?" Brian sees Michael and Ben and Vic and he waves them over to where we are standing. "You guys want to party, don't you? It's Los Angeles! It's Hollywood!"

Michael's face is furious and Vic looks very concerned. And Ben -- he doesn't seem to know what to think. "Brian...." Michael begins.

"You're all going to dinner -- with me," Jimmy interrupts. "Brian and I are going to be the hosts. Peggy -- get out your phone and call Mr. Chow's and tell them that Jimmy Hardy is bringing his pals over for the full blow out."

"Jimmy -- please stop. I just want to get Brian home," I say. Brian has his arm wrapped around my shoulder and is hanging on like he's afraid he's going to fall. Michael comes around his other side and stands there, waiting in case Brian can't keep himself up. I keep forgetting that Michael has seen it all and spent years propping him up and cleaning him up and sobering him up. He's been doing it for almost as many years as I've been alive. Michael's face is grim.

"He just wants me back home because he wants me to fuck him all night, right, Sunshine?" says Brian, giggling. "He wants to start right away? Huh?"

"Brian! Please!" I say. "Shut the fuck up!"

"Mr. Hardy," says Vic, stepping forward. "I'm Victor Grassi and I'm sort of the unofficial head of this little family and as such I think that it's best if Justin took Brian back to his place and that the rest of us go to the hotel and get some rest. The boys just got in from Pittsburgh and they haven't even had time to check in and unpack. I think it's best if we take a rain-check on dinner for the time being. But it was a generous offer. Thank you."

Jimmy cocks his head. "And you're Uncle Vic? I've heard a lot about you from Brian. Well, Vic, my man -- I'll bow to your seniority here," says Jimmy, finally backing off. He can see that he's outnumbered. He tosses Peggy a look and they begin to retreat. "Tomorrow after the premiere -- I want all of you to join me for a drink at the party. That's a promise, right?"

"Certainly, Mr. Hardy," says Vic, shaking Jimmy's hand.

"It's Jimmy. Always Jimmy! And I'll see all of you folks at the Big Show tomorrow!" And then Jimmy and Peg high-tail it to their limo.

"Now, how do we get home?" asks Deb. One of the studio men who has been following us around, points the way out of the building to where the driver has our limo. We all pile in, with Vic sitting up front with the driver, Ramon. He stops first at the Beverly Palms Hotel.

"Honey, are you going to be okay?" says Deb. "Because if you want Vic or Michael to go with you...."

"I'll be fine, Debbie. I can handle Brian. If I can't, then no one can."

"All right, Baby," she says, hugging me. "I'll see you tomorrow. Both of you." I shrug. But Debbie smiles. "Everything will be fine. You'll see. Better than fine! We're all going to a Hollywood premiere! For a movie that BRIAN is starring in! It's going to be fantastic! Woo-woo! Wait until you see my dress!"

I have to smile. "I know you'll look super, Deb."

"You bet your boots, hon!" And Deb throws back her head and leads the rest of her family into the hotel, leaving me and Brian in the limo.

It seems a long drive out to Brian's apartment. It's at Marine del Rey near where his boat is docked. And that's also near Venice Beach, which is supposedly a big gay hang-out. He told me that Ron had a cow when he heard that Brian was going to be living down there. I guess he assumed that Brian would be on the beach, fucking everything in sight, but he hasn't been. I know he hasn't.

Brian doesn't say much in the car. He doesn't say much because he's too busy groping me. He wants me to open up my pants so he can suck me off, but I don't want to do it in this car, especially not when Brian is so out of it. It reminds me of the first night we met, when Michael drove us back to the loft after Gus was born and Michael tried to convince me that he should take me home. But I only wanted to be with Brian. It seemed exciting back then -- Brian being so high and me being half-terrified and half-delirious with lust. But now it's not so exciting. Because this is our LIFE and not some sex-fueled fantasy. Brian can't only be that Beautiful Demon right now. I want to make sure that he's all right. I want him to be able to function in this insane world he has to live and work in. Now I just want to get some coffee into him. And maybe get him under a cold shower to shock him back into sensibility.

When we finally get to Brian's place, it turns out to be a nondescript building facing the ocean. Ramon carries up my bags and I fumble around with Brian's keys as we stand at the door. Brian smirks and takes them back from me, opening the door.

"Do you need any help?" Ramon asks. He's eyeing Brian, who is pulling at his shirt, trying to unbutton it and not having much luck. I think he wants me to invite him in! I don't fucking think so!

"We're both okay, really." I just want the guy to go now. To leave us alone so that I can take care of Brian. I just want everyone to leave me alone so that I can take care of him! And then Ramon gets the message and leaves.

I look around the apartment and I'm a little stunned. Because it's so... not like Brian. There's a plain-looking sofa and coffee table in the middle of the room and a large television with a DVD-player hooked to it on the opposite wall. There are cardboard boxes full of stuff piled in the corner. And Brian's laptop is sitting on the coffee table. But there's not even a chair. Or a dining room table. Or a dining room, really. There's an attached kitchen and he has some stuff piled on an old TV table. There's a microwave oven and a toaster and a juicer sitting on the counter. And that's about it.

The whole place just looks like no one is really living there -- and certainly not Brian. I never pictured him living in a place like this. I thought he'd get something cool, like the loft -- modern, spartan, immaculate. And big. This place sure isn't big. There's only one bedroom --- and it contains a bed, a small dresser, and a bedside table. And more cardboard boxes. And a couple of Brian's suitcases, open and spilling out with clothes. And hangers on the floor. A huge hamper of dirty laundry. It's like he just moved in yesterday -- but he's been living here for weeks. Sort of. I know he's been traveling, but this place is a fucking mess!

And on the bed -- it must be Debbie's quilt. That quilt was the worst-kept secret on Liberty Avenue! Vic kept giving us all updates on how it was coming -- and how Deb was afraid that she wouldn't finish it before they had to leave for the premiere. But here it is. And the other thing I notice is that although the walls of the living room are bare, there's a large print hanging on the wall across from the bed. It's my 'Warhol Variation' print of Gus. And I see a photo in a frame on the bedside table. Me and Brian and Gus up on the Island. One of the photos that Lindsay took up there. So there are a couple things that tell me that Brian really lives here. Or whatever he does here. Sleeps and changes his clothes. But this is not a home. No fucking way! I can't understand it.

I turn around and Brian is standing in the doorway. His shirt is halfway unbuttoned. "Brian, let me do that...." But before I can, he just rips it open and the buttons scatter on the carpet. "Jesus, Brian -- that was a Paul Smith shirt!"

"Fuck it, Justin!" he says, tossing it on the floor. There are a couple of shirts and some trousers already on the floor. I bend over to pick them up, but Brian grabs me. "You're not the fucking maid."

"Brian -- this place... it's...."

"I said fuck it! Because I want to fuck YOU!" And he pulls me over onto the bed. "Hold it. I promised Deb." And Brian tries to turn down the quilt -- with me still on top of it.

"Here -- let me do it." I stand up and fold down the quilt, running my fingers over the names embroidered together in one corner. Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor. "There," I say. "That's better."

"Yeah, that's better. Much better." And Brian pushes me down on the bed and falls on top of me. "Timber!"

"Brian, let me get my pants off first." He's rolling around on top of me, trying to drag down my pants -- but he won't let ME do it. "I can do it faster. Get OFF me for TWO seconds!"

"Well, hurry the fuck up!" he replies, reeling. "Because if you don't put your hands on my dick RIGHT NOW I'm going to get on the phone and call Ramon to come back here and do it! Because I'm about to blow my fucking top!"

"Brian! For godsake!"

"Justin -- when did you leave New York?" he asks.

"Ah -- a week ago yesterday?" I reply.

"Well, that's the last time someone other than me touched my cock, so you better get to it or I'm not going to be responsible for my actions!"

I can see that he isn't kidding. And I can also see by his eyes that he's not as high as he was before. He stops. He's looking straight at me. He's holding on to me like he's going to fall, even though we are lying down flat on the bed. The world must still be spinning in his head. Spinning out of control. "Brian -- why? Why did you take that shit?"

"I can only hang on for so long -- and I'm fucking on the edge, Justin. I'm on the edge," he whispers, desperately, clutching me tighter.

"I'm here," I tell him, clutching him back. "And I'm not leaving. I'm never leaving, Brian. I'm here -- for good."

Continue on to "When I Paint My Masterpiece -- Part 3".

©Gaedhal, May 2003.

Updated May 15, 2003.