This is Part 11.
Other recent stories in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Nowhere Man -- Part 10.
Features Brian Kinney, Michael Novotny, Emmett Honeycutt, Ted Schmidt, Others.
Rated R for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian meets some of Michael's friends at Babylon. September 2000.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Wednesday, September 6, 2000, continued:
Brian followed his old friend out of the diner and back onto Liberty Avenue. The street was even more crowded than it had been earlier in the evening. Michael paused on the sidewalk and lit a cigarette. He offered one to Brian.
"No thanks, I don't smoke. You know as I was coming over here a couple of guys stopped me and asked me for a light."
Michael snorted. "I bet they did."
"But that's how clueless I am -- I thought they really wanted a light!"
Michael eyed his handsome friend. "But?"
"I finally figured it out when..." Brian blushed. "When this guy grabbed me! I mean, right on the street!"
Michael frowned. "This is Liberty Avenue. If you're HERE the assumption is that you're cruising. But some people have no subtlety at all. Just stick close to me -- I'll make sure no one bothers you."
Brian smiled at the role reversal. Mikey was going to protect HIM! But, looking around at the parade of guys, Brian thought that he probably did need a little protection -- if only to save himself from embarrassment.
Michael took Brian by the arm, as if he thought he might be grabbed away from him by someone else seeking a 'light,' and they wove their way through the crowd and up to the entrance of Babylon. Michael was a regular, so he just flashed his card at the doorman. For Brian, he asked for a guest pass. Brian got out his wallet.
"No, let me take care of it -- you're MY guest." Michael looked at the doorman pointedly. "He's with ME."
The man nodded. "Not too bad, Mike. Been trolling in a better pond?"
"Shut the fuck up! Asshole," Michael mumbled. And they went through the archway and into the club.
Brian's senses were immediately assaulted by a combination of sights, sounds, and smells. Flashing lights and pulsating music overwhelmed him, and he was also aware of the strong scent of sweat and cigarettes mixed with the sickeningly sweet aroma of marijuana. And although it was a large, cavernous space, the atmosphere felt claustrophobic. Brian shrank back and almost turned around and headed back out the door, but Michael, who had a firm grip on his arm, propelled him forward.
"Wait until you meet my friends," said Michael, raising his voice to be heard above the din. "Ted's an accountant. He's great. We met a couple of years ago at the gym, but he's not a gym bunny or anything -- he's just a regular guy."
"Oh," said Brian. "Ted." Brian liked to repeat everyone's name in his mind. Repeating helped him to remember and Brian prided himself on his ability to remember names. With all the students who passed through his classes, all the faculty members he had to deal with, and all of Ron's friends and colleagues, it was beneficial to know everyone's name right away.
"And Emmett. He works as a waiter downtown, but he's trying to get into retail because he's a real clothes freak and a total fashion queen!"
"He should work at that store I saw out on the street," commented Brian. "Torso? There were some pretty wild clothes in the window."
"Well, that's a long story. He'd love to work there, but he can't."
"Why not?" Brian found himself leaning down closer to Michael in order to hear him.
"Because he's got a couple of shoplifting convictions -- so they won't hire him."
"Oh, right," said Brian. "Emmett." Shoplifting convictions, huh? What had Brian gotten himself into?
"But he's a great guy, too. He had some issues with drugs for a while and that's when he got into trouble."
"Oh." Well, Brian couldn't very well turn up his nose at the man, not with Brian's history. He'd have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.
"Yeah, crystal meth. That one's a real bitch. But he's clean now. I met him when..." Michael hesitated. "When we shared a lawyer a couple of years back. But that's all water under the bridge, you know what I mean?"
"I guess so," answered Brian, not really understanding at all.
"The first thing Emmett will want to do is undress you!"
"What?" cried Brian.
"I mean that he'll want to take away all your clothes and burn them and then re-dress you the way HE thinks you should look. But don't take it personally -- Em does it to everyone."
"Why? What's wrong with my clothes? Really?" Brian looked down at his Dockers.
"Nothing, I guess. I mean, on YOU that nerdy stuff looks good. Really, like I said, don't take it personally or anything, Brian," Michael added quickly, hoping his friend wouldn't be insulted.
"Well, when I got dressed I didn't know I was going to a club," admitted Brian, a bit defensively. "I don't own a lot of 'disco' fashions. There isn't a lot of call for them on my campus in Indiana!"
"I guess not." Michael shrugged. "Don't worry about it. You look fine." But, thought Michael, I'd love to see this guy in something that showed him off a little. He's really a fucking babe in the woods! And the idea of Brian's innocence excited Michael even more. He could hardly wait to get him back to the apartment!
Ted Schmidt and his buddy, Emmett Honeycutt, had been leaning on the bar on the main floor for about a half hour waiting for the third member of their regular group, when Mike finally appeared, a tall and beautiful, if strangely dressed, creature in tow.
"Yowsa!" exclaimed Emmett, standing up straight. "Hello, Gorgeous!" And he put his hand out to the stranger, as if expecting it to be kissed.
Brian shook it tentatively. "You must be Emmett," he said.
"I MUST be!" Em crowed. "And YOU?"
"Guys, this is Brian." Michael was beaming. "He's visiting from Indiana."
Ted grimaced as he looked at the newcomer. He'd always had a thing for Mike and felt a pang of jealousy. Often if they both didn't hook up with anyone else, they went home together, but Ted was well aware that he was always strictly a second choice. Still, Ted was always hopeful. But tonight looked like one of those hopeless nights.
"And you must be Ted. The accountant." Brian held out his hand. "Michael told me about you guys."
"Hi, how ya doing?" Ted said, grudgingly shaking his hand. At least he was polite. This guy seemed nice. Not the usual loser that Mike picked up off the street. No, not at all. But where DID he find this tall, dishy pretty boy? He wasn't at all Mike's type!
While Brian was exchanging greetings with Ted, Emmett was assessing the new trick's clothes. How in Hades, he wondered, could such a body have gotten itself trapped in such boring threads?
"Can I get you a beer, Brian?" asked Michael eagerly. "Or something stronger? How about a shot?"
"I don't really drink much," answered Brian, leaning back against the bar. "Well, maybe a light beer or something like that. That should he okay."
"On the wagon, honey?" inquired Emmett.
"Not exactly. But I had a problem a while ago -- quite a while ago, actually, so I try to avoid most substances." Brian smiled. "I guess I have an addictive personality."
"I can see that, honey. Mike seems addicted to you already!" Emmett laughed.
"That's not what I meant," answered Brian. This guy was screwing around with him.
"I know, gorgeous! Was it a fatal passion for drink or drugs? Because I know something about THAT, believe me!" Emmett confided. "I hope it wasn't to sex!" he added loudly. And Brian blushed deeply. "You are so cute when you do that! Isn't he the cutest, Teddy?"
"Right," said Ted, glumly. "The cutest."
"Maybe that, too. A little," Brian offered, shyly. "Way back when. But I'm in a monogamous relationship, so it isn't something that comes up much anymore." The moment Brian said 'monogamous' he felt a twinge inside. A painful twinge. But he still believed in it. Monogamy. He told himself he did. When -- if -- you loved someone....
"Monogamous! How romantic!" exclaimed Em. "Do you mean ALL the time? Or does the three hundred mile rule apply?"
"Oh, honey, you ARE kidding me? Don't you know the three hundred mile rule?"
Brian shook his head and Michael cut in between them, handing Brian a bottle of Miller Lite. "Em -- I don't think that this is the time or ...."
But Emmett ignored Michael and plowed right ahead. "The three hundred mile rule says that if you are further away from your lover than three hundred miles, then it doesn't count! You are home free -- so to speak!"
"Well, I've never heard of that," admitted Brian. "But I don't think it would apply to me anyway."
"Of course it applies! Especially at Babylon, honey! Everyone here is free and easy and looking to get laid -- and I'm sure YOU are no exception!"
Brian took a small sip of the beer and tried not to laugh at Michael's over-the-top friend. "Sorry, but not me. I only came here because Michael invited me. He's an old friend from high school."
"High school?" Ted asked, dubiously.
"Yes. It's true, Ted. Wanna make something of it?" said Michael, bristling.
"No, Mike, I just never heard you mention any friends from high school. Except that guy you were so in love with who...." Ted stopped and closed his mouth. He looked at Brian. "Shit!" he breathed. THIS was the guy! Ted stood and stared at the man, taking him in completely, while Brian picked at the paper label on his beer bottle, trying to pretend he hadn't heard Ted's comment and trying not to look over and meet Michael's eyes.
Mike had talked about this man a number of times to Ted, usually when he was drunk. Brian. Yes! This guy was the first person Mike had come out to, way back in high school. He had been Mike's first lover, too. Just hearing Mike go on and on about him had made Ted incredibly jealous. And Ted also remembered some of the seemingly impossible stories Mike told about Brian's sexual prowess, his beauty, his amazing cock, what they had done together and how many times. Yes, Ted had heard it all and assumed that Mike was making it all up. But seeing this guy now -- yes, it WAS possible. This Brian was dressed pretty conservatively, but, as Ted knew, sometimes the quiet guys were the wildest in bed. And he was certainly just as good looking as Michael had said. Maybe even more so.
But -- and this was a big 'but' -- Brian was obviously also in a long term relationship. Even if Emmett hadn't interrogated him on that point, the large diamond ring he was wearing on an extremely symbolic finger of his left hand would have told the tale. Of course, a lot of married guys fooled around. But looking at Brian, Ted didn't really think Mike had much chance of an old-times-sake fuck. The guy just wasn't the type. But he WAS beautiful, Ted had to admit, gazing at him.
"I cannot believe that just because you have a 'relationship' that you are going to keep ALL that good stuff to yourself, honey!" Emmett griped, pretending to give Brian a little pinch on the tush. "Because we sure could use some new blood in this tired old Pitts!" Emmett was eyeing not only Brian's ass, but also his basket. The pants were ridiculously ill-fitting, but Em's practiced eye discerned some hidden wonders in there.
"I don't think my partner would agree with you about that," Brian said, looking away.
"Keeps you on a short leash, does he, baby?"
"Em!" Michael barked.
Brian glanced at Em and smiled slightly. "In a way."
"How long are you in town?" said Ted, cutting Emmett off. Sometimes Emmett didn't know when to quit and Ted could see that Michael and Brian were both uncomfortable with Em's line of questioning.
"Just a few days. I have to get back this weekend. I have work and everything. And Ron...." Brian paused and blinked a few times. "He wants me to get back as soon as possible." Brian avoided the look of disappointment on Michael's face.
"I bet he DOES! You are SO gorgeous, honey! I'd want you back as soon as possible too!" Emmett couldn't resist reaching over and squeezing Brian's arms. "Just let me see something? Please?" Em batted his eyes and began slipping off Brian's corduroy jacket.
"Wait a minute now...." Brian tried to step back, but the bar was against his rear end, blocking his escape.
"Don't mind ME. I'm just satisfying my curiosity, baby," said Emmett. He shook out Brian's jacket and set it on the bar. Then he methodically groped his way up Brian's long arms. "How long has THIS been going on, as Mr. Gershwin asked! Honey, you have biceps to die for! Why aren't you flaunting them?"
"Um, I...." Now Brian was truly confused. "I don't know. Why should I?"
"So you can attract all the hot guys, of course!"
"But I'm not here to attract any hot guys," Brian stated simply.
"Are you really THAT exclusive? Admit it to Aunty Em, now -- how long ago was the last other guy you were with? Don't worry -- I won't tell Don!"
"Ron," corrected Brian. Well, thought Brian, Emmett's question was actually easy to answer, since he'd been thinking about Adam just that afternoon. "Seven years."
Emmett blinked and Michael bit his lip. "Seven YEARS?" Emmett exploded. He didn't know whether to be impressed or horrified. "You've only fucked ONE person for seven years! I don't believe it!" And Emmett continued feeling his way up and down Brian's arms.
"Yes. And please stop doing that," said Brian, detaching Emmett's hands from his sleeves.
"Yeah, Em. Back off." Michael was now in a surly mood, as his hopes of getting his friend in bed seemed to be dimming.
"Why, I think that's remarkable that you've been monogamous for seven years," said Emmett. "Sick, but remarkable."
"I don't see what's so sick about it. If you make a commitment...." Brian's voice trailed off. He didn't want to sound preachy to these guys, especially when, for all he knew, his 'exclusive' partner was in bed with his hideous research assistant at that very minute. Brian suddenly felt very ill. He set his beer down on the bar. "Actually," added Brian, almost to himself. "It's really more like twelve years. But who's counting, right?" He stood there, twisting his diamond ring compulsively.
Of course, Emmett noticed immediately. "And that rock! It's gorgeous! Now this proves that good jewelry DOES have meaning! Diamonds ARE a boy's best friend!"
"And they make a good investment, too," put in Ted, like a good accountant. "What does your partner do, Brian?"
"He makes films. Documentaries. He's won a lot of awards. He was up for an Oscar about five years ago."
"Really?" said Michael.
"Yes, for a film about AIDS in Africa. 'The Monkey Puzzle.' But Ron didn't win."
"I think I saw that," said Ted. "On PBS!"
"Probably," Brain replied. "They've showed it a lot. It's an excellent film."
"The OSCARS! Oh, my God! Did you go to the ceremony in Hollywood?" Emmett was almost hyperventilating.
"Yes, we went." Brian shook his head. "When Ron lost he almost punched someone out at one of the after-parties. He was so upset. He's not a very good loser." Brian smiled a little sadly.
"At least he's honest, honey! Most of those bitches smile and pretend they are delighted for the winner -- and you KNOW they want to kill them! So," said Em. "Dish! Did you see loads and loads of stars?"
"We saw some. They look pretty normal close-up. I met Jimmy Hardy and his wife. They were quite nice."
"Well, I am pea-green with envy!" Emmett said, grinning. "But what is it that brings you to the Pitts, anyway?"
So Brian related the story of his father's illness and treatments as briefly as he could. But he left out all the stuff about Ron and the picnic and Lowell. Obviously. "So, you see I'm only here for that. And I have to go back this weekend." Brian turned to his friend. "I'm sorry, Michael."
Michael's large brown eyes were already reflecting his disillusionment. "I knew you were only visiting here, Brian." Michael gazed at his tall friend. "But you'll be back. I know you will. You'll probably have to be here regularly. For your dad, I mean."
"Probably," Brian agreed. His voice was tinged with pain as he thought about his father at the medical center.
"So, you are just lighting here for a moment and flitting on, like a will-o'-the wisp!" Emmett said lightly.
But Michael clutched his beer and turned away. Brian put his hand on Michael's shoulder. "You know I never said I was here for longer than a few days, Michael. I didn't want you to get the wrong idea. I mean, about us. I probably shouldn't have even come here tonight...."
"No! I wanted you to, Brian! You're still my friend, even after all these years. I know you are!"
"Of course I am, Mikey," he replied, using the old nickname. "Always your friend."
"I just thought -- hoped even -- that your showing up here, out of the blue, that it meant something. Like it was Fate that you walked into the diner and met Ma -- and me. I mean, like it was meant to happen. Us, I mean." Michael leaned into Brian, closely. Almost desperately.
Brian sighed. And Brian thought about Fate, and how Ron was always saying that THEIR relationship was 'fated.' That there was something inevitable about it. About THEM. Something that Brian shouldn't try to question or fight. And now here was Mikey, giving him that same line! "Us as FRIENDS, Mikey. But that's all. Really. Believe me."
Michael pushed closely against him. Brian could smell the odor of sweat and grease from the diner mixed with some lemony cologne. He could also feel the other man's hardness pressing against his leg. "I never stopped thinking about you, Brian," he breathed. "Never. Since the night you disappeared. I thought of you almost every day. Never stopped loving you...." The smaller man blinked back a tear. "I guess it was stupid. Just a stupid dream."
"I'm sorry, Mikey," said Brian, softy. "Whenever I'm in town. I'll call you." He moved back slightly, so Michael wasn't touching him quite so intimately. "We can go to dinner. I'll stop and see your mom. Like old times, huh? You still like comic books?"
"Yes," said Michael, shortly. He turned away from Brian abruptly.
"You could teach me about them a little. I might be doing a course on popular culture and I want to include some comics. You could advise me. Give me some input. I'll give you my e-mail address." Brian took out his pen and jotted it on a coaster.
"Sure. Fine." Michael now avoided Brian's gaze. "Thanks," he said, taking the address and shoving it in his pocket.
And both Ted and Emmett were facing away, pretending they weren't listening to every word of the exchange between the two old friends. Pretending that they weren't witnessing what was probably the last time the two would ever meet.
Continue on to "Nowhere Man -- Part 12.
©Gaedhal, November 2002
Posted November 8, 2002