This is Part 21.
Other recent stories in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Nowhere Man -- Part 20.
Features Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, Emmett Honeycutt, Ted Schmidt, Debbie Novotny, Michael Novotny.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian gives Justin a gift -- and Justin gives one back. 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.
Thursday, September 7, 2000, continued:
"Go ahead -- open it."
Justin looked at the package and then looked at Brian, who was reclining on the bed. "Is this really for ME?"
"No," laughed Brian. "I bought it for myself and decided to have it wrapped up in a box with pretty paper and a big bow!"
"But it isn't my birthday or any special occasion -- or anything!" insisted Justin. He was sitting, naked and crossed legged, on the bed next to Brian.
"Isn't it?" said Brian, leaning against him.
Justin looked at the package and then looked at Brian, trying to make up his mind whether to open the present or drop it and jump on top of the man. Again. Because since Brian had picked him up at the end of his street just after 7:00 and brought him back to the motel, they had made love twice -- once up against the door of the room because they couldn't wait to get to the bed. On the INSIDE of the door, of course. And then on the actual bed. Justin would have preferred doing it again. Immediately. But then Brian produced this fascinating package....
"If you don't open it now, I'll take it back!" said Brian, sternly, reaching to grab the present.
"I'm doing it! Right now!" And Justin ripped the shiny wrapping off the Kaufmann's box and lifted off the top. He pushed the tissue paper out of the way and pulled out the blue gauzy shirt, holding it up. "Brian! Is this really for me?"
"It better be, because it won't fit me," said Brian, lying back against the pillows. "I saw it when I went on my buying binge this afternoon and it reminded me of someone special. I kept thinking of blue eyes for some strange reason. So I had to add it to my purchases."
"I can't believe you bought me a present." Justin felt the delicate material with his fingers. He was almost afraid because it seemed like it would melt at his warm touch.
"Why not? Don't you deserve it?" Brian reached out and stroked Justin's pale back.
"I don't know. I mean, no one ever gave me anything like this before. No one who I... I love. Not like THAT. I mean, my parents have given me gifts for my birthday and Christmas and stuff. But this is... I don't know what!"
"It's a love gift."
"What's that?" Justin said, turning to look at Brian.
"Just what it sounds like. I bought it for you because I love you," said Brian, touching the blue sleeve and comparing the color to the eyes gazing at him. "And I'd love to see it on you. Put it on."
Justin shook the filmy shirt out and slipped it around his shoulders. He started to button it up. The buttons were tiny and fragile, like little pieces of shell.
"No, don't button it," said Brian. He sat up and arranged the shirt around Justin's torso. "Tie it around your waist, like this." He tied a loose knot right in front of Justin's tight navel and straightened it. "That way you can undo it while you're dancing and let it fly free. How's that?"
"Let me see!" Justin jumped off the bed and stood in front of the mirror over the desk, turning and preening. He felt Brian's eyes on him and his dick began to harden. "What do you think?"
"That's a good look for you -- a transparent shirt and no pants at all. And a nice, firm hard-on! Should be a big hit at Babylon!"
"Brian! My cargo pants aren't going to go with this beautiful shirt! I need something... nicer!"
Brian got up from the bed and put his arms around the boy from behind, looking over his shoulder at him in the mirror. "You'll look fine. No one will be looking at your pants. No one will be looking at your new shirt, either, if you want to know the truth. They'll be looking at YOU and trying to get near you." Brian's right hand stroked its way down Justin's waist until he took hold of his swelling cock.
"Don't lie!" Justin gasped.
"I'm not. I probably won't even get to dance with you. All the hot young guys will knock me out of the way and I'll end up brooding in the corner, completely forgotten!"
Justin turned around and threw his arms around the tall man, pressing against him urgently. "Don't say that! You're the only I one I ever want to be with! I would never forget you like that, Brian!" Justin was hoping that there was time to make love once more before they left for the club.
But Brian told hold of Justin's shoulders and held him away just a little. "Let me record those words so I can play them back to you someday," Brian said sadly. He was thinking of words he'd said himself to Ron, many times. Words that now seemed meaningless, but which he had meant so sincerely -- once. Words he never thought he'd ever take back. But he'd been young then. Like this boy. And love seemed like it could last forever. Brian knew better now. And he would be grateful for whatever time he could grab with him before this beautiful boy careened onward into his life, leaving Brian behind.
"You won't have to! I promise! I love YOU! And we'll be together -- forever and ever!"
"Don't make promises you can't keep, Justin. Or promises you might not want to keep. Forever is an awfully long time -- too long for someone so young and beautiful," said Brian. He stepped back and turned away. Watching Justin admiring himself in the mirror hurt his eyes, like looking directly at the sun.
"No, NOT like me, Justin," said Brian, his voice low. "Like you. And that's the reality of that."
"I wish I had something to give to you," said Justin, still turning around and around before the mirror.
"You don't need to give me anything -- except a guarantee that you'll have a good time tonight," said Brian, slipping on his new black 501's.
"But I want to give YOU something, too! A 'love gift' that I...." Justin paused. He was wearing a bracelet that he had bought that summer. He had put it on before slipping out of the Taylor house and running up the block to meet Brian. Justin untied the black cord of the bracelet and held it in his hand. "Brian -- I want to give you this. It isn't fancy, but I want you to have something from me, too! Please?"
"What have you got there?" Brian came over and examined the bracelet in Justin's hand. It was a line of white shells tied together with a braided black cord. "Justin, that's your bracelet -- you were wearing it tonight while we were 'fooling around'!" Brian wrapped his arm around Justin's neck and pretended to wrestle him away from the mirror.
"Brian! Stop!" said Justin, pulling the tall man around to face him. "I bought this bracelet the first time I ever went down to Liberty Avenue. I'd been wanting to go there for a long time. Ever since I'd heard that it was a place where... queers could go and be themselves. It sounded like a place where I could... Well, I wanted to see for myself what it was all about." Justin sat on the bed and Brian sat down next to him.
"And what did you see?" Brian smiled, thinking of his own conflicting impressions of Liberty Avenue the night before.
"A lot of guys," answered Justin. "I went with Daphne. It was a Saturday afternoon. We drove down in her parents' car and walked around. I had never seen guys... kissing before. Holding hands. Strolling around like it was... okay. Not afraid or ashamed. Daphne was a little freaked out and she wanted to leave. But I wanted to stay forever! Just looking at all the gorgeous men, walking in the sunshine. We went into one of those little stores where they sell cards and jewelry and Rainbow Flags -- the one right next to the Massage Therapy Center? And Daphne bought a little Rainbow sticker to put on her notebook. And I bought this bracelet. It was only five dollars -- but I liked it."
Brian turned the bracelet over in his hand. It still felt warm from being on Justin's wrist. "It isn't the cost of the thing, it's the meaning. And this bracelet has meaning to you. And that means it has meaning to me, too. So, you got this on the day you decided to be a queer, huh?"
"Oh, I already knew," replied Justin. "For certain. I mean. I didn't have any doubts at all! I haven't for a long time. And the whole time I was there all I could think about was when I'd be able to come back to Liberty Avenue at night and REALLY see what was going on!"
"Well, you sure did that," said Brian, pressing his lips to Justin's cool neck.
"But when I came home and was wearing the bracelet -- my dad saw it and hit the roof! He said it looked... faggy. He told me to take it off and throw it away." Justin looked down, his lower lip trembling. Brian stroked the back of his neck, soothingly. "I ran upstairs and hid it in my drawer. I was... scared that if I wore it then everyone would know! I was scared of that... then." Justin looked up at Brian. "But now I'm not afraid! That's why I put it on tonight before I left home. Because being with YOU makes me feel safe. Like I could walk down Liberty Avenue and hold your hand -- and even kiss you -- and no one would say anything bad to us!"
"No one will, Justin. I won't let them."
"That's why I want YOU to have this bracelet, Brian," Justin said, looking directly into Brian's green and golden eyes. "You don't have to wear it or anything -- not like I'm going to wear this great shirt you bought for me. But I want you to keep it. Just so you'll have something of mine. In case you... need to remember me. Please?"
Brian looked at that face and tried to imagine ever saying 'no' to it. "Here," he said, sticking out his right hand. "Tie it on. Good and strong."
Justin smiled and tied the bracelet with the shells onto Brian's wrist. "The man at the store said that in some places in Africa these shells are like money! So you'll never, ever be broke while you're wearing this -- in Africa, at least. How is that?"
Brian held out his arm. Somehow it seemed like the bracelet had always been there, a part of him. "Looks nice. Better than nice, actually. It looks cool. Do they still say that? Cool? Or am I dating myself horribly?"
"They still say it, Brian! And you are NOT old! God! You're much younger than my parents and they aren't old!" Justin paused. "Not really!"
"That's a relief!" Brian smirked, admiring his new bracelet. He raised one eyebrow at Justin. "So, yes, it looks very cool. And it better -- because I'm never going to take it off," said Brian, adjusting it on his wrist.
"What do you mean? Never take it off?" Justin laughed.
But Brian wasn't laughing. "I'm not kidding. Unless YOU want it back and tell me that -- it's on here for good. Okay?"
Justin eyed Brian, trying to gauge him. Was he serious? "If you say so, Brian."
"You'll see, brat!" Brian pushed Justin off the bed and glanced at the clock. "We better get ready. We are supposed to meet Emmett and Michael and Ted at the diner before me go over to Babylon. So get your ravishing bubble butt in gear! And put some underwear on before you put your cargo pants on! "
"Yes, sir!" said Justin, saluting. He reached down on the floor to retrieve his grey Jockeys from where he'd dropped them earlier on the way to the bed. Justin didn't point out that Brian hadn't put any briefs on before he put on his own jeans. But Justin thought that would only make for easier access in the car. And maybe even at the club. Justin had heard Emmett and Ted talking about the Babylon backroom at the diner. He wondered if Brian would take him in there and fuck him. He hoped so. That might be very, very hot!
Brian was in the bathroom, shaving again. He wanted his face to be nice and smooth when they went to the club. He didn't want to look scruffy next to all the cute guys Justin would see there. And Brian also fussed with his new, shorter haircut. It looked pretty good. Even his old man had been approving.
Brian slipped on the new red silk shirt that he'd bought that afternoon. He'd shown Justin all his purchases and Justin had definitely agreed that the red shirt was the best one. What had Marcus said in the store? It looked like power. Yes, that's how Brian wanted to feel. Empowered.
"Brian, you look great. I love your new clothes," said Justin, gazing at him. "I mean, you always look great, but now you look -- hot!"
"And how do you know how I always look? I always look like a dweeb! That's the real truth!" said Brian, tucking the silk shirt into his tight black jeans.
"You don't!" insisted Justin. "Last night, when I saw you come down the street, all I could think about as how beautiful you looked. And how much I... I wanted to be with you."
"Then your 'type' must be clueless nerds in Dockers! I don't think there will many of THOSE at Babylon tonight -- so you'll be stuck with me!" Brian laced a black leather belt through the loops and buckled it in front.
"Okay! I'll be stuck with you! If you wanna be stuck with me?" said Justin, coyly.
"I'm stuck ON you, and earlier in here I was stuck IN you! And we had better go NOW -- or we'll never get out of this room!"
To finish off the dressing ritual, Brian let Justin squirt a tiny amount of cologne in the hollow of his neck. "You don't really need another smell, you know, Justin. Your own smell is intoxicating enough," Brian said, sniffing.
"I'm surprised I smell like anything at all. I've taken more showers in the past twenty-four hours than I usually do in a week!"
"Yes, but most of those showers weren't only for cleaning purposes! Get moving!"
Brian grabbed his new leather jacket and pushed Justin out of the motel room and over to the Volvo, locking the door behind him. Justin jumped into the passenger's side and Brian slid into driver's seat. They both automatically leaned toward each other and kissed over the stick shift. It almost felt like they'd been doing it forever -- getting into the car together, going out somewhere, smiling at each other. It was impossible to believe that only one day ago they hadn't even known each other.
And both tried not to think that in two days Brian would be gone from the city, unsure when he would return. They had talked about that a little in the car on the way over to the motel earlier. Brian felt he had to be honest with Justin. Tell him when he had to leave and why. But also tell him how much he wanted to stay. And how hard he would try to get back to Pittsburgh as soon as he could.
While they drove to Liberty Avenue, Justin began thinking about Brian living in town full time. Not at a motel or at his parents' place, but in his own apartment. Justin could help him decorate it. Hang pictures on the wall. Maybe Justin could give Brian one of his own drawings and Brian would have it framed and proudly put it on the wall and tell everyone, "My lover drew that! Isn't it wonderful?" And Justin could cook dinner for Brian -- Justin was a pretty fair cook and he was learning more recipes from his mother all the time. Brian needed to eat more -- he was so thin. Justin would fatten him up -- but not too much!
Then Justin could stay over and sleep all night in Brian's very own bed -- not a motel bed -- with his own pillows and sheets. Maybe satin sheets! And Justin could keep his toothbrush there and some extra clothes, almost like he lived there. And when he was old enough to leave home and tell his parents that he was gay -- then he could live with Brian all the time! For real!
These seemed like such simple fantasies to Justin. Simple things that people did all the time. So why did they seem so impossible? So very difficult to imagine really happening. There were just so many obstacles! Justin's parents, for one. And Brian's job. And Brian's boyfriend. Or partner. Or whatever he was. Brian wasn't talking much about him, about Ron, except that Brian had gone away from him after he'd done something very bad and hurt Brian terribly. Justin saw that hurt as Brian listened to the voicemail messages that Ron left -- and as he deleted them, one by one, without calling him back.
Brian found a place to park the Volvo not far from the Liberty Diner, and he and Justin walked over there, holding hands. It was a warm night, with just a touch of late summer humidity in the air, but Brian knew it would be stifling in Babylon. He wondered if he was foolish for wearing the leather jacket. But then he recalled that the jacket wasn't for the weather, but for his new image!
"Here they are at last!" called Emmett as the pair pushed open the diner door. He and his friend Ted were in the same back booth where they had eaten breakfast that very morning.
"Whoo-hoo, Hon! And Sunshine!" The red-haired waitress -- Debbie -- waved from behind the counter.
"Hi, Deb!" Justin waved back. He felt like he really belonged there. This lady remembered him! She even had a nickname for him! And the guys -- Brian's friends -- liked him, too. Except for Mikey -- but that was understandable because Michael was hopelessly in love with Brian. Justin could relate to that well enough -- and forgive the other man.
"Oh, my Gawd! Brian!" breathed Emmett, jumping up. "That outfit is TO DIE FOR! Turn around!" Emmett gestured for Brian to rotate so that he could examine every angle. The new black 501's hugged Brian's shapely ass. And the silk shirt just screamed 'sex' like a flashing red light. "Emmett approves, Baby! Teddy -- is THIS an improvement from last night or what?"
"Very nice," offered Ted. He was wearing his usual slacks and button-down shirt, not unlike what Brian had been wearing the night before. But Emmett never seemed to notice what Ted was wearing. Maybe he realized that Ted's fashion sense was and always would be that of an accountant. But something shining from deep inside Brian had shouted 'Prize Pupil' to Emmett -- and Brian had more than fulfilled that promise.
"The jeans, the shirt -- all tres chic! But that leather jacket tops everything. I mean, a leather jacket is SUCH a cliche for most guys -- but on YOU, Baby -- Yummy!"
"I think it's great!" said Justin.
"Then you have perfect taste, Cinderella!" exclaimed Emmett. "Did YOU dress this hot man tonight?"
"No -- but I watched!" laughed Justin.
"The next best thing!" said Emmett, his eyes sweeping Brian from top to bottom. He was imagining Brian slipping those tight jeans over his slender hips -- and over the delectable cock that Emmett had seen the previous night.
"He mainly got in the way -- and tried to distract me," Brian added. "Not that that's a bad thing. But it's also why we're late." Brian shot Justin a sly look.
"These are SO much better than those boring clothes you were wearing last night. I would just BURN those, Baby! And your new haircut -- fabulous! Let me guess -- Antoine's? Down the street?"
"How did you know that?" said Brian, amazed.
"Oh, a haircut is like a fingerprint," said Emmett, knowingly. "At Antoine's they always do those sexy little pointed sideburns. Did Andy do it himself?"
"No. A guy named Barney." Brian thought of Barney, a pudgy guy with bleached highlights and an contagious laugh, slipping his phone number into Brian's pocket.
"He did a lovely job. I'm sure that having YOU in his chair brought out the best in him," said Emmett. "I knew you were gorgeous, but now, Baby, you are a KNOCKOUT!"
Brian couldn't help but blush. But he was secretly pleased that Em liked his new look. Before it had always made Brian uncomfortable when people commented on his clothes or his looks. It made him think they were making fun of him, somehow. No one had ever told him he was handsome or that he looked good when he was a kid. Certainly not his parents. Not his father, who mocked him if he looked at himself in the mirror or stopped to comb his hair or straighten his clothes. Like 'real men' didn't do things like that.
No, no one had ever mentioned his looks -- except Mikey. But Mikey didn't count, because everything about Brian was extraordinary to Michael.
And then Brian went to New York. Where his beauty became a 'selling point.' Brian had been filled with shame every time Stan touted him to some john as 'A real BEAUTY -- and I ain't shittin' you!" And no one had ever complained or contradicted that sales pitch.
And then later Ron had said it to him, again and again. So much so that Brian feared that was the only thing he had to offer. His supposed beauty -- which he could never see himself. When he looked in the mirror, Brian only saw an uncertain boy who was now an insecure man. Especially in more recent days when Ron never said Brian was beautiful at all anymore.
"I think we should get a move-on!" said Emmett, pulling Ted to his feet. "Michael!" Em called, and the final member of their party came out from the back of the diner. "Are you coming?"
"As soon as my shift ends at 11:00. Then I'll come right over." Michael looked at Brian in his new clothes, especially the red silk shirt and the leather jacket, and practically licked his lips. This was the way he had been picturing Brian all these years. Looking so hot! "You look really good, Brian. I... I mean it."
"I'll save a dance for you, Mikey," said Brian, smiling. Brian was feeling expansive. He was feeling that everything was so right tonight. He looked good -- so they all said. But he couldn't forget when Mikey had been the only one to think so. And he felt good, too. After all, he had Justin. Brian could afford to offer a little bit of himself to his old friend, even if it was only one dance. He owed him one. And Michael smiled back at him.
Michael nodded to Brian in acknowledgement before he retreated to the back of the diner to finish his shift.
"Aren't you boys going to eat anything before you go?" said Deb, getting out her pad. "You need to keep up your strength at Babylon. Especially YOU, Sunshine." Debbie cupped the boy's face between her hands. That face -- there was something about it that made the waitress want to squeeze it. Put it in the pocket of her apron and bring it home so she could take it out and look at it if she was ever feeling down. Because that was a face that looked like it had never known pain or hunger or hate or any kind of disappointment. It made Debbie almost afraid for him. For his innocence. And for his openness.
Debbie glanced at Brian, leaning against the counter, watching Justin and smiling. She was glad that this man was big and smart and careful. If anyone would see that this kid was protected from all the hurts that could be directed at a young gay boy, it was Brian. He seemed so steady and level-headed compared to the other guys. Compared to Michael, definitely, but also Emmett. And even Ted. They lived for the moment. Different guys every night, different thrills. Brian wasn't like that at all. He would watch out for Sunshine. He would keep him safe.
"I'm hungry!" said Justin, firmly.
Brian rolled his eyes. "He's always hungry!"
"As well he should be," Debbie said. "He's a growing boy. Sit yourself down for another ten minutes, fellas, while I get this kid something to eat. How about the special? Turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes?"
"Yes! Thanks, Debbie! With lots of gravy!" said the boy. And the waitress went to put the order in.
Justin slid into the booth, and Brian pushed himself in next to him. Emmett sighed heavily, and he and Ted sat back down on the other side of the booth.
"So, are you ready for your Coming Out Party, Cinderella?" Emmett asked, playing with a sugar packet.
"Yes! What do I have to do?" asked Justin, eagerly.
"Just have a fabulous time!" instructed Emmett. "And let Nature do the rest!"
"That's for sure!" piped up Ted. He glanced at Emmett knowingly.
Brian frowned. There was something about the sound of this he didn't care for. "What does THAT mean?"
"It means, Brian, that our new twink should be quite popular tonight," Emmett bragged. "I've told a couple of friends that we were bringing 'New Meat' with us to Babylon -- and he's so cute and juicy that he's sure to get plenty of attention. You too, Brian," said Emmett, leaning across the table in a confiding manner. "You made quite an impression on a number of people last night and they want to get reacquainted."
Now Brian was doing more than just frowning. He was glaring across the table at the other two men. He seemed dangerous with that pissed off look on his face, particularly with the leather jacket. Emmett felt his cock twitch. He liked dangerous men.
"Then maybe it would be better if we didn't go to this club tonight at all," said Brian, his voice icy. "Because I don't want a repeat of last night -- and I mean it." Brian put his arm around the boy defensively. "Justin is with me tonight and I don't want him exposed to that kind of shit! It was bad enough that those guys were... were bothering me," said Brian, but then he paused. He didn't want Justin knowing how helpless he'd felt in that backroom. Or how he had let himself be taken over by the pure sensation.
"But Brian...!" Justin started to protest.
"And I especially don't want a bunch of creeps pawing him -- OR me! Because if that happens, we're leaving -- immediately!"
"But Brian!" Justin gazing up at Brian, pleading. "I want to dance! And show off my new shirt! Brian bought it for me," he explained to Emmett.
"And it's totally mouth-watering, honey, just like you. Perfect color for you," Emmett soothed. "See, Brian -- you HAVE to go! You don't want to disappoint the child, do you?"
"No, I don't want to disappoint him," continued Brian, sternly. "And he's NOT a child, Emmett. But I'm responsible for anything that happens to him while he's with me. Anytime he's with me! And I want to make certain that nothing DOES happen to him."
"Seems like it's a little too late for that," mumbled Ted into his water glass.
"What the fuck do you mean by that remark?" Brain said, reaching over and gripping Ted by the wrist. His right hand was like a vice.
"Nothing at all. I only meant that, well, you DID pick the kid up last night and...." Ted felt the sensation leaving his hand as Brian squeezed his wrist even tighter. Ted noticed that Brian was wearing a shell bracelet on that hand. The shells were quivering with the tension in Brian's flexed arm. "Nothing at all. I didn't say a word."
"Then watch your mouth. And I mean THAT!" Brian let Ted go and then gazed at Justin's expectant face. Taking Justin back to the motel and making love to him was something completely different. It wasn't the same as those faceless men who grabbed him at Babylon, gave him drugs, and sucked him off in the dark. Brian and Justin hadn't been looking for the same thing as the other men cruising Liberty Avenue, searching for an easy fuck.
Justin reached over and grazed Brian's hand, rubbing his thumb against one of the shells on the bracelet he'd tied onto Brian's wrist. Justin's touch made the hair on Brian's arms rise up, like static electricity.
No, he and Justin were NOT like those guys in the club or on the street. This wasn't just a one night stand. It couldn't be, thought Brian. There WAS something deeper there. A connection between them that both could feel, even after only one day. A connection that could never be broken, as tightly laced as the little shells braided to the black cord on his wrist.
And as Brian turned that thought over in his head, he knew in his heart that it was true.
Continue on to "Nowhere Man -- Part 22.
©Gaedhal, December 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your comments on "Nowhere Man." Without your feedback I don't know if you are enjoying this series!
Posted December 18, 2002