IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

"A Queer As Folk USA Alternate Stream FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 3

The other sections in "The Angel Stream".

Pittsburgh, February 2005

Brian stared at Jim Stockwell. The man he had helped put in office.

The man who was now doing everything he could to harass the gay population of Pittsburgh. Who had endorsed anti-gay legislation. Who had vowed to make the city into a "Family Friendly" bastion -- while completely ignoring the fact that queers also had families. Had partners. Had children. Had homes and businesses. Had lives that they deserved to live in peace and safety.

"Take me back downstairs," Brian said to the cop who had retrieved him from the pens. "I'll wait my turn to see the judge."

"Brian!" Stockwell said in irritation. "Stop being so goddamn stubborn!"

"And YOU stop being a fucking liar and a homophobe!" Brian retorted.

The cop bristled. "You can't speak to the Chief that way! Apologize to His Honor!"

"'His Honor' can kiss my queer ass!" said Brian. "And so can you!"

The policeman grabbed Brian roughly and began taking him back down the stairs. But Stockwell stopped him.

"I need to talk with Mr. Kinney, officer," he said. "If you would please step in here." Stockwell indicated an empty office down a gray corridor.

Brian took a deep breath, but allowed himself to be directed into the room.

"That will be all, officer," said Stockwell, dismissing him.

"But Chief!" the cop protested.

"I said that will be all," the mayor ordered. "Please shut the door behind you."

The policeman left the room reluctantly, leaving Brian to face his former client alone.

"If you missed me that much, Jim, you should have sent flowers," Brian snarked.

"Why do you do these things, Brian?" Stockwell asked. "You're a smart guy. You have a good job. And you know your business like nobody else in this town. I owe you a lot. I admit that. But you make it very, very hard for me. Your personal behavior is a disgrace."

"I wasn't aware that my personal behavior had anything to do with you, Jim," Brian returned. "I told you once before that unless you're sucking my cock, then my personal life is nobody's fucking business -- especially yours. But you see, you've made my personal life your business, Mr. Mayor! By targeting queers all over town. By closing bars and clubs. By persecuting people who aren't hurting anyone. Like me."

"You were picked up for lewd and indecent acts in a public place, Brian," Stockwell stated with disgust "That's against the law! And enforcing the law IS my business. Protecting law-abiding citizens. That's what I was elected to do. Elected by the people. All of the people -- including being endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Center, in case you've forgotten."

"Yes, the Gay and Lesbian Center," Brian nodded. "Little did they know what the fuck they were doing when they decided to dance with the devil. And little did I know exactly how that devil would turn around and bite me in the ass!"

"You were breaking the law, Brian!" Stockwell shouted, at the end of his patience.

"I wasn't standing in front of City Hall at noon, Jim," said Brian. "I wasn't doing it next to a school or a fucking church or on the 'Six O'Clock News.' I wasn't scaring the horses in the street. I was getting blown in an alley, in the dark, behind a gay bar. So fucking arrest me! Charge me! Arrest every queer in town! But that won't stop it. It won't stop me from wanting to get my dick sucked. It won't stop anything!"

"You are known to have been a key member of my election campaign, Brian," said Stockwell. "I stood up in public and acknowledged that you were a close, personal friend. And you don't think that this is an embarrassment to me? And to my Administration?"

"I don't give a shit about your embarrassment, Jim. Or about your Administration!" Brian spat. "You and your fucking Administration can go to hell for all I care!"

"That's not a good attitude to take, Brian," Stockwell replied. "It's an unfortunate attitude. This isn't the first time that you've been taken in by my men, Brian." Stockwell picked up a folder from the desk and opened it. "You were arrested just before Thanksgiving in a raid on an illegal bathhouse. And you were also brought in last summer for performing indecent acts in a public restroom. Before that it was in a park near Liberty Avenue. All of those times you were let go and your case was never brought before the judge. Why was that, Brian?"

Brian closed his eyes. "I don't remember."

Stockwell went to the door of the office and opened it. "Detective Horvath, would you please come in here?"

Stockwell stepped aside and Carl Horvath walked into the room. He looked tired and worried. He glanced at Brian grimly.

"It's always nice to have a friend on the Pittsburgh PD, Brian," Stockwell said. "But that's over now. If you are brought in again, for any reason, then you'll pay the price. No more having the good detective here riding to your rescue. One of my men recognized your name when you were brought in last night and he called me. One of Detective Horvath's friends also recognized you and called him. But I was quicker. I'll always be quicker. I'm the mayor of this city -- and don't you forget it, Mr. Kinney." Stockwell turned to Carl. "And don't you forget it, either, Detective. Because if you do it again, I'll have your badge. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Your Honor." Carl stared down at his feet. "I understand."

"Good," said Stockwell. "Good day, gentlemen." And Jim Stockwell walked out of the office.

"I'm sorry, Carl," said Brian.

"How could such an intelligent man be so fucking stupid?" Horvath asked. "That's what I'd like to know?"

"I said that I was sorry!" Brian replied. "What more can I do? Kill myself?"

"Isn't that what you're doing, Brian?" said Horvath. "Killing yourself inch by inch? I know you've spent most of your life angry at the world, but you aren't hurting bigots like Stockwell this way. You're only hurting yourself. And you're hurting the people who love you. What about your son? And Debbie? She was crying when I left the house, she was so upset."

But Brian only shook his head.

"And what about that guy you were seeing over Christmas?" Horvath asked. "How would he feel if he found this out? You don't think that he would be hurt?"

"I don't know," Brian whispered.

"Yes, you do know." Horvath reached into his coat and pulled out a large manila envelope. "Here's your stuff, Brian. Your wallet, cigarettes, keys, and your cellphone. You're free to go now."

"Thanks," said Brian, taking the envelope.

"But you heard the mayor, Brian," Horvath warned. "This is the last time. I can't do it again. I can't risk my job and my pension for you. I have a wife to think about now. I have my own responsibilities. And so do you."

Brian stepped outside and immediately pulled out a cigarette and lit up. His hands were shaking. It was morning rush hour and the streets downtown were full of cars. He'd have to find his way back to Liberty Avenue and pick up the Vette. And he'd have to call in to let Cynthia and Gardner know that he'd be late for work.

He walked down the sidewalk, trying to get away from the police station as fast as he could. He looked for a cab, but didn't see one. Maybe he should call Mikey to come and get him. Maybe....

Brian took out his cellphone and stared at it. Then he hit a number. But it wasn't Michael's.

"Hello? Justin? I know you're probably in class, but I... I only wanted to hear your voice," Brian said. "That's all. I only wanted to... No, that's a lie. I'm in trouble. And I don't know what the fuck to do. Please call me back when you can. If you can. Please, Justin. Help me."

***

A large joint and a half a bottle of Jack Daniels had not knocked Brian out the way that he had intended them to.

Instead they left him hanging between two worlds -- drunk and depressed, but also still wide awake and thinking. And thinking was always a bad idea

Thinking about how fucked up he was. How his life seemed to be falling apart just when it should be coming together. He had money, a prestigious job, a beautiful loft, an expensive wardrobe, and a classic car. And he was hot. Still in his prime. Able to fuck any guy he met into the mattress -- even with only one ball.

Brian Kinney was on top of the fucking world!

Except for the fact that he was miserable.

He glanced at the clock. It was almost 2:00 a.m. Already Friday morning. Twenty-four hours before he had been in the Queens Tank downtown and he'd slept better in there than in his own fucking bed.

That was the story of his life.

Stockwell had reamed his ass. Then Carl Horvath had reamed his ass. And then Gardner Vance had reamed him AND read him the fucking Riot Act when he finally stumbled into work at noon on Thursday.

"This is not appropriate, Brian," Gardner had lectured him sternly. He sounded like a fucking prep school headmaster with his phony British accent! "You are a partner in this firm and your behavior reflects on Vangard. Advertising is all about image, as you well know. So how would it look if you, our senior ad executive, were to be splashed across the front page of 'The Pittsburgh Clarion' after being picked up in a gay sex sweep? How would your clients feel? Brown Athletics? Or Eye-conic Optics? Or Open Fire Steakhouses? Is that the man they want in charge of their accounts? A sex criminal?"

"I'm not a fucking sex criminal, Gardner, and you know it!" Brian huffed. "That's not fair!"

"Mayor Stockwell has already spoken to me," Gardner continued. "He tells me that this is not the first time you have had a run-in with the police. In fact, you've had quite a storied career, Brian. But it seems that you have either wiggled out of any serious charges or else managed to get them dropped through certain 'connections' on the force." Vance glared at his partner. Brian was one of the best ad men in the business, but he was getting to be more trouble than he was worth. "And don't forget that Marty Ryder advised me about the sexual harassment lawsuit that you were involved in a number of years back. You were lucky that your assistant, Cynthia, did a bit of research and found out about the professor that the young man in question had threatened over a grade when he was in college. But what if he had not been convinced to drop his suit? Then what? Then where would you be, Brian?"

"How the fuck should I know, Gardner?" Brian answered wearily. "It was my word against his. But of course no one would ever believe me, right? Because I'm such a sexual predator! Such a fucking outlaw! I'm only trying to live and be left alone!"

"You may well find yourself alone -- AND out of a job, Brian," Gardner had said before dismissing him. "Go home for the weekend. Think long and hard about what you are doing. And come back on Monday morning with a different attitude."

"What about my appointments for today and tomorrow?" Brian asked angrily.

"We'll take care of your clients. Go home, Brian," Gardner Vance had commanded. "Now!"

Justin had called Brian back later that day, but by then Brian was back at the loft and had had time to cool off. So Brian blew off Justin's concerns and told him that it had been nothing. A momentary queen out. That Justin should go back to class and not to worry about him. Brian was okay. Everything was okay.

Michael had stopped by earlier on Thursday evening with food from Debbie. Debbie was always sending over food. That was her cure-all for everything. A plate of lasagna or a pot of soup.
Michael had sat with Brian on the futon and ended up eating most of the food himself while he chattered on about his comic book store and something that Hunter had done in school and a new class that Ben was teaching.

But Brian was only half listening to Michael. He found himself doing that a lot lately. Half listening. While his thoughts were somewhere else. Somewhere north and to the east, hundreds of miles away.

The buzzer roused him from his semi-stupor.

Who the fuck was at his door at 2:00 a.m.?

Brian dragged himself out of bed and limped across the loft. He had hurt himself more than he wanted to admit during his little tango with Stockwell's Stormtroopers. At least they hadn't taken out the one good ball he had left! Thank God for small miracles.

"Mikey? Is that you?" Brian yelled into the intercom. Michael was the only person who would barge in at this fucking hour. Except that Michael had his own key. He'd let himself right in. "What the fuck do you want?"

"Brian! Open up!" said the voice. "Please? It's cold out here!"

Something made Brian's heart stop for a second. Then he hit the button to release the downstairs lock.

Brian had the heavy loft door open before Justin had run even halfway up the stairs. He hadn't wanted to wait for the elevator, even though he'd walked all the way from the bus station in the snow.

Justin's face was flushed and frozen at the same time. He dropped his backpack on the floor and was in Brian's arms before either of them said a single word.

Brian held on to Justin as if it were the last thing he would ever do in his life.

"Your hands are fucking cold!" Brian breathed.

"I know," whispered Justin. "Can you think of a way to warm them up?"

"I'll think of something," said Brian, pulling at Justin's clothes frantically. Brian was only wearing his jeans and a tee shirt, but Justin had a heavy coat, thick cords, and a couple of layers of sweaters to be stripped off.

"Here," said Justin. "Let me help." He reached down to unzip his pants.

"No," said Brian, brushing his hand away. "Let me do it. I want to do it all."

And Brian uncovered every inch of him, discarding Justin's garments one piece at a time. Warming up the cold areas of Justin's skin with his hands. Cooling the hot areas with his tongue.

Somehow they reached the bed, although neither of them was aware of moving. They were simply there. Simply naked. Simply together.

And then simply joined under the glow of the blue lights.

***

A fucking miracle.

That's what Brian had needed more than anything else.

And that's what he got.

Usually with sex Brian tried to lose himself in it as completely as possible. No reflection. No holding back. And no real thought to anything, but especially not to his sex partner.

The other guy had always been more of a challenge than an actual person. A puzzle to be figured out. What could he do? How long could he last? How far would he go? If the guy balked or hesitated, then Brian only pushed harder. The guy claimed that he didn't kiss? Then he'd be kissed until his lips bled. He said that he didn't take it up the ass? Then he'd get fucked into oblivion. A guy who talked too much got a gag in his mouth. A guy who moved around got tied up. A guy who wanted to linger was booted out the door before he got his pants zipped back up. A trick's wants or needs were beside the point, along with his name, address, and life story.

Because Brian didn't give a fuck. He never gave a fuck.

Until now.

"Justin, Justin, Justin!"

Brian couldn't seem to stop saying the name. Couldn't stop himself from asking what he could give, not what he could take.

"Justin, tell me what you want! Tell me what you need!"

"Brian!" Justin demanded. "Fuck me! Harder! Harder! More!"

"More of what, Justin? What?"

"You. I want you. Brian! You, you, you!" Justin gasped and dug his fingers into Brian's hot flesh.

But then Brian did something that he'd never done before. He stopped. Stopped in the middle of a fuck, with his cock deep in Justin's ass.

"Brian? What's wrong?" Justin asked, blinking convulsively. "Why did you stop?"

Brian took a deep breath. "What do you really want, Justin? My dick? Is that all? All there really is to it? All there is to us?"

Justin sat up a little and put his arms around Brian, hugging him tightly. "No, Brian. That isn't all there is to it. Not for me."

"But you still want me to fuck your tight little ass?"

"Yes, please." Justin closed his eyes. "I want you to fuck me. But you know that isn't all, Brian. Ever since I left Pittsburgh and went back to school the only thing I've thought about is you. Not just your dick, but YOU. All of you. And all of the things we did for that week we were together. Watching movies here in the loft. Playing with Gus. Going to the dinner at Debbie's. Stopping at Michael's comic book store. And dancing at Babylon on New Year's Eve. Yes, the sex, too. But that wasn't only about sex. It was about love."

"You mean that, Justin?" Brian asked. "Or are you just saying that because I still have my dick halfway up your ass and you want me to finish what I've started?"

"Not finish, Brian," Justin whispered. "But continue. Because this isn't going to end here. Is it?"

"No," said Brian. "It's not going to end here. So, I'll continue."

The bedroom was cold -- it was always cold and drafty in the loft -- but Brian and Justin were drenched in sweat after they'd both come. They were lying together under the duvet with their arms still around each other. Brian couldn't stop caressing Justin's golden hair. His poreless pale skin. His thick, blunt dick, now slack with satisfaction. And Justin was breathing in Brian's essence. His strong male smell. The whiskey and weed on his breath. The aftertaste of his come in Justin's mouth.

But it really was more than that. Both men felt safe for the first time since they had been apart. Justin smiled and snuggled closer. And Brian leaned his head against Justin's shoulder.

Never before had Brian wanted anyone to stay with him. Sleep with him. Or live with him. He couldn't get that idea out of his head.

Living with someone. It was such a foreign notion to Brian. He had always been proud of not needing anyone. Not wanting anyone. The lone wolf. The cat who walked by himself, as Kipling had written. He had Mikey and Lindsay and Gus and even Deb for his emotional needs. Had them to turn to. Even to cry to at times. But Brian was always able to walk away whenever he wanted to. To shut the door of the loft and lock out the world.

Brian wanted to shut that door again and lock out the world. Only now there were two people inside, not one. He wanted to lock himself in with Justin.

"What happened the other day, Brian?" Justin finally asked. "You can tell me. You can tell me anything."

There it was. Brian actually believed him. He could tell Justin anything. And he wanted to tell Justin everything.

"I freaked out and called you. I didn't mean to scare you, Justin. But... I only wanted to hear your voice."

"You wanted me to help you," Justin reminded him softly.

"I was arrested." Brian's mouth felt as dry as cotton. "But Stockwell and Deb's husband, Carl, got me out before I was charged."

Justin inhaled sharply. "Was it DUI? Were you stoned and driving?"

Brian shook his head. "I was getting sucked off in the alley behind Woody's. I picked up a trick and I didn't want to bring him back here. It was the first time I'd done it in a couple of weeks. But... but I was lonely. Horny. I only wanted to forget about how... how lonely I was. But Stockwell's Goons got us. They were doing a sweep that night. They ran in six guys from that alley and more from all around town. They filled up their van with queers. And I spent the night in the Queens Tank."

"Is that where you got this?" Justin gently touched a small bruise over Brian's right eye.

"Yeah. One of the cops pushed my head against the bricks a little too hard." Brian laughed shortly. "I also took a couple of good kicks in the shin. Those guys wear some heavy fucking boots!" Brian held Justin tighter. "But it could have been a lot worse. They've done worse to queers down in the Queens Tank. I've heard stories. And... I've seen things, Justin. That wasn't the first time I've been arrested. I won't lie to you. But I'm hoping it'll be the last time."

"You really might have been hurt!" said Justin in dismay.

"No, they can't hurt me," Brian assured him. "They can only damage my body a little. Only one person has the power to really hurt me -- now. So... do you hate me, Justin? And are you going to hurt me?"

"No, Brian, of course not! I don't hate you. And I won't hurt you." Justin looked into Brian's eyes. "Yes, I'm angry, but not at you. I'm angry at them. Angry at everyone who hates us and wants to drive us underground. I know what's happening here, Brian. And what's happening in other places. In too many places."

"I'm angry, too. I'm furious that a bunch of bigots are trying to control my life -- OUR lives, Justin. But... I'm also tired. So fucking tired. Sometimes all I want to do is hide myself away." Brian paused. "But I want to hide myself away with you. Funny, huh?"

"Not so funny, Brian," said Justin, seriously. "I think about that myself. I thought about it a lot when I had to go back to Dartmouth right after the New Year. I thought about saying fuck it to school -- and to my father -- and not going back. But I knew that I had to go back. I'm too close to the end. Only two terms to go. I have to finish my degree before I get out of there."

"You do, Justin," said Brian. "It's the first step in being your own person. When I had that diploma in my fucking hand I knew that I'd never have to rely on my old man again. I knew that I'd accomplished something that was mine -- and no one else's. But after that...."

"Yeah, after that... I have to think about that soon, Brian," Justin admitted. "But not now. Now I only want to make love again. Right here. Where Stockwell, and his Anti-Sex Goons, and my father, and all of the creeps and bigots in the world can't get at us. In this bed. OUR bed!"

And Brian laughed loudly and freely for the first time in weeks. "You possessive little twat! You're already figuring out where all your shit is going to go when you move in here, aren't you?"

"Of course," said Justin, matter-of-factly. "Where else?"

"But there's one thing we better do first," said Brian, raising his eyebrow. "The door of the loft is still open."

"Oh, shit!" Justin cried. He sat up and looked across the loft. Sure enough, the metal door was wide open.

"I was so busy ripping your clothes off that I forgot to close it. Which means that anyone could walk right in and watch us fucking."

"Like Mikey did on Christmas Day?" Justin snorted. "Let him watch! Maybe he would learn something."

"Maybe he would at that," Brian laughed again.

But he also got out of bed and shut the loft door. And locked it.

Continue on to "In the Bleak Midwinter -- Part 4".

©Gaedhal, March 2005.

Posted June 9, 2005.