OPEN LINES I

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 8 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Expense Accounts" , the previous chapter.

The narrators are Brian, Lindsay, Justin, Daphne, Emmett, and Michael.
Rated PG for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: A busy morning on the phones: reach out and touch someone! Takes place in February 2002, directly after "Expense Accounts."
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.

"Hey."

"You're awfully late this morning. I'm just getting ready to leave for class."

"Sorry. I had a hell of a night. I'm just emerging."

"Why do I have trouble feeling much sympathy for your predicament?"

"Not so loud -- please!

"Now I'm REALLY not in sympathy. What's the matter, Brian, did you break a nail last night?"

"Funny. You should come out here and do the comedy clubs. Give Ellen and Rosie a run for their money."

"You should have spent the morning the way I did! Gus had the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums when he didn't get his own way about something and the screaming went on for the better part of an hour. So you should have THAT ringing in your ears."

"I warned you not to choose me as the father. The drama is in the DNA. And now it's too late."

"I'm beginning to realize that in a big way. You know, Brian, if you are just going to call every day and complain about your latest hangover, there's nothing I can do about that and, frankly, it's getting boring. If life there is so bad that you have to get drunk every night and then bitch about the after-effects, then maybe you better just come home."

"When I got drunk in Pittsburgh you never suggested that I cure the problem by leaving town."

"I don't remember you getting wasted quite this much when you were here."

"Because you didn't talk to me every morning, that's why."

"Come on, Brian. You couldn't have done your job as well as you did if you were hung over EVERY day!"

"Which makes the feat that much more amazing."

"Listening to you go on, I'm really starting to feel truly sorry for Ron, instead of seeing him as the villain of this whole ridiculous interlude."

"Villain? What are you talking about? Who says he's a villain?"

"Oh, aren't we supposed to perceive him as the evil mastermind of your Great Escape? Didn't he drug you or force you to leave at gunpoint or blackmail you with some secret too horrific for even you to have revealed?"

"The only thing that Ron has ever done is try to help me out. He doesn't strong-arm me. He doesn't browbeat me. He doesn't second-guess me. He gives me my space and I give him his."

"Yes, but ALL that supposed space is HIS space. It's his place, his friends, his money...."

"Now who's making assumptions?"

"Here you have your own life...."

"Oh, I had my own life there? With everyone under the sun telling me what I should do and how I should live and what was 'good' for me and what was 'bad' for me -- THAT is letting me live my life? Only when I'm living it the way YOU want me to live it, Lindsay? Or the way Deb wants me to live it. Or the way... other people want me to live it."

"I've always wanted you to be yourself, Brian. I wouldn't love you any other way!"

"Don't lie, Lindz. You bitch and bitch and bitch about 'relationships' -- but you want me to have the 'relationship' YOU want me to have...."

"I never...."

"Please! I told you once before that if I stayed in that fucking town I would go nuts. That I'd become something I didn't want to be, something I wouldn't recognize...."

"And you 'recognize' yourself better now? I get the feeling that if I passed you on the street, I wouldn't know who you were!"

"Yes, you would -- just look for the best-looking and best-dressed thing in town."

"Now THAT attitude I do recognize. And it's not one I think you should be cultivating."

"Now who is telling who what to be again? If you can't just cruise on charm and good looks out here, then I don't where I could manage it."

"But Brian, you are a successful man on your own terms! You're just risking your job and trashing all your accomplishments -- just like that? To hitch yourself to some fabrication?"

"This 'fabrication' feels pretty real -- just like this headache. And my so-called 'accomplishments' didn't feel like all that much. I lost the chance at that job in New York. Marty Ryder has been on my ass since the thing with goddamn Kip. Work has been a nightmare since... last spring. And all my awards? Pieces of fucking paper. That's all they mean."

"If you really felt that you need an 'out' -- an escape -- why this way? Why turn yourself over to a virtual stranger and let him run your life?"

"He may be a stranger to you, but he's not to me. And he isn't running my life."

"Brian, be real! You can't have thought this whole thing out before you left! You can't have thought about what you were giving up...."

"Don't believe for a minute, Lindsay, that I'm not exactly where I want to... where I am by my own choice."

"But not necessarily where you really want to be, hm?"

"Who is really where they want to be? Or even knows where they want to be? Do you, Lindsay?"

"Of course. I'm exactly where I want to be."

"Tell yourself another one -- maybe you'll start to believe it."

"I think it wouldn't bother me so much if I wasn't so distressed at just how insensitive you are being to poor Justin -- I know, I know -- if I say the name, you'll hang up. And that's because you don't want to face an unpleasant truth."

"What if I said that I was doing this for HIS own good? At least partly."

"Then I would say you are seriously screwed up, Brian. Seriously."

***

"Daphne! I am SO fucked!"

"What now?"

"I freaked out. I mean really freaked out."

"What the heck happened?"

"I'm too upset to talk about it...."

"If you are too upset to talk about it, then why did you call me up at this hour?"

"Because I wanted to talk about it?"

"What is the matter with men, anyway?! Are you ALL born crazy or do you get that way somewhere between birth and puberty?"

"Daphne, I think I might get arrested."

"Arrested? For what?"

"I beat someone up. At the diner."

"You? Beat someone up?"

"I'm not kidding. I really did. I... I couldn't stop myself."

"My God, Justin! What happened? Who did you beat up?"

"You know that friend of Michael's? Ted?"

"Kind of an older guy? Nerdy?"

"Yeah. He has this porno website business now. Him."

"You beat HIM up? Why?"

"I was just ending my shift at the diner and he and Michael and Emmett came in for breakfast. He started saying... things... about Brian."

"I should have known!"

"If YOU start I'm going to hang up!"

"I'm listening. But I'm not understanding."

***

"Michael?"

"Emmett."

"Are you going to hang up on me again?"

"Are you going to talk about Ted again?"

"Michael, I think that you HAVE to talk to him about... Michael? Michael!"

***

"Brian, I'm concerned about the money you are sending me for Gus. I wanted to talk to you about this the other day...."

"What? Isn't it enough?"

"No, it's more than generous. But you aren't working, Brian. I remember what happened when you were on suspension last year -- over that lawsuit? How long can you meet expenses here in Pittsburgh, not to mention the fact that you must be spending SOME money out there. AND giving me money for Gus?"

"I don't think it's your concern, Lindsay."

"But it IS my concern. I don't want you to bankrupt yourself over some whim that you are following out there. One that might leave you in real financial difficulty."

"Is that what I'm doing? Following a whim? Let me write that down in case someone asks me."

"Can you be serious for two minutes, Brian?"

"Not particularly. This place isn't very conducive to 'serious'."

"You see? That's what I'm afraid of! Don't you think you might need a little 'serious' at this time of your life?"

"Why?"

***

"The three of them came in for breakfast. I was just finishing up my shift and everything was just going normally...."

"So, what happened?"

"I don't know, exactly. Michael and Emmett were talking about Valentine's Day and then, for some reason, Ted started talking about Brian."

"Why would he start talking about Brian in connection with Valentine's Day, of all things? I didn't think Brian 'did' holidays? And especially not Valentine's Day!"

"He doesn't. I mean, he didn't... I mean... Ted just started saying things. I won't repeat them. I can't repeat them! HE has the fucking nerve to say things about Brian! While he's running a website that does nothing but cater to a bunch of old perverts! That's how HE makes his living! He's as big a hypocrite as that Bellwether, his fucking idol!"

"My God! Did you really hit him?"

"I didn't just hit him, Daphne. I knocked him off his seat. And I kicked him. Just like my father kicked Brian! I couldn't stop kicking him! You know when they say 'so mad you see red'? That's what I saw! Red!"

"Oh my God, Justin!"

"He could have me arrested! Just like Brian said he was going to have my dad arrested! He had the legal right. But he didn't... because he knew it would upset me...."

"Yeah, because he didn't want to get in trouble himself because you were only seventeen is more like it."

"I was past the age of consent -- I looked it up. Good thing that idiot Kip didn't know the law in Pennsylvania."

"But that won't help you if Ted decides to press charges! Did you really hurt him?"

"I... don't know. I don't think so. But I wanted to. I really wanted to! It was like he was... Chris Hobbs and that Bellwether and my fucking teachers at St. James and everyone who I've ever wanted to take a swing at...."

"Justin, you really need to talk to a therapist...."

"No fucking way! My mom tried that and it was sooo stupid."

"It's not the worst thing, you know. Even I've been to a psychiatrist."

"Come on!"

"It's true. A couple of years ago -- my parents were having some trouble and I was... well, I was bulimic. So I saw a shrink."

"Daphne!"

"I got over it pretty quick, but I saw the doctor for about six months. It wasn't that bad! I sort of liked talking to her."

"Well, I'm not talking to any shrink!"

"Justin, you've got some major anger issues. Besides what happened at St. James and at the prom and all of that, I think you might be punching out Ted -- but HE isn't the one you are REALLY angry at and you know it!"

***

"Michael?"

"Emmett."

"If you will take JUST five minutes of time to listen to what I have to say? Please, Michael? We've been friends for four years, for heaven's sake!"

"Okay. I'm listening, Emmett."

"Ted thinks that... Michael? Michael? Michael, damn it!"

***

"I have to get out of here, Brian, or I'm going to late for my first studio."

"And I'll be late for my appointment with the day's first Bloody Mary."

"Before I have to hang up, I just want to tell you about a little -- altercation, I guess you'd call it, that happened yesterday at the diner. It's so interesting that you can cause such a ruckus even when you are thousands of miles away!"

"I can? I'm a completely innocent party in this, I swear! I have at least two witnesses who can testify that I was nowhere near the diner yesterday. Of course, one of them doesn't speak English, but she can identify me 'en Español' -- if the need arises."

"Brian, this is serious!"

"That word again. I banish 'serious' from your vocabulary as of this moment!"

"Are you going to listen to me?"

"I'm listening. Make it interesting, because I'm about to take another nap here."

"Well, screw you, Brian! I just thought you might want to know that Justin punched out Ted in the diner yesterday."

"What?"

"Yes. Apparently, Ted couldn't resist sniping at YOU for some unknown reason. I got the information second-hand from Melanie, who got it from Ted, so I'm sure it was in somewhat edited form. But I guess he said some... not very kind things about you. They might even have been some very legitimate things, if the truth be told, but that's another story."

"What happened to Justin, for chrisakes?"

"Nothing at all. He knocked Ted down... Anyway, Justin, the little lamb, turned into a lion and Ted got the brunt of it."

"He didn't really punch him, did he? With his bad hand?!"

"I don't know if he punched him or pushed him, but Justin got Ted on the floor and kicked the hell out of him. Ted told Melanie that it took five or six people to restrain him. Oh, he also trashed the diner -- smashing dishes and throwing trays against the walls. Are you listening, Brian?"

"Shit. Fuck!"

"I thought that might impart a little 'serious' back into your sunny little fantasy world."

"You are a bitch, Lindsay."

"Oh, and after that little spectacle, he's not working at the diner anymore, so he'll need to find another job if he's going to stay in school. Maybe he can take a cue from you, Brian? You've always wanted him to emulate you in everything, isn't that it? I'll talk to you tomorrow -- perhaps. Bye."

"Lindsay -- wait a second! Lindsay! Wait!"

Continue on to "Looking for This My Whole Life", the next chapter.

©Gaedhal, May 2002

Picture of Thea Gill and Gale Harold from Showtime.

Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.

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Updated May 10, 2002