This is Chapter 63 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "In the City -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, featuring Brian Kinney, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh, Gerard Milton, Tony, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Sir Ken gives a party for Brian. London, July 2002.
Author's Note: Susan -- yes I DO know these people! Really. Thanks for the beta.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"I really like this bathtub. We should think about putting one in the loft." I am enjoying lying back and soaking in the old fashioned tub at the Chatterton. I put a lot of bath oil and bubbling granules in and turned the hot water up as strongly as it would flow, so it got good and sudsy.
"WE should, should we?" Brian stands at the mirror, messing with his hair, as usual. He's been out of the shower for a while, but is still naked. Not that I'm complaining.
"Yes, WE should." I blow some of the bubbles in Brian's direction, trying to hit his bare butt. He's strictly a 'shower man' -- but the tub is awfully nice.
"It really smells like a French whorehouse in here now. Good thing it matches the rest of the decor."
"I think it smells nice. Better than that horrible aftershave you bought."
Brian looks around. "What's wrong with my aftershave?"
"It smells like bug spray."
"It's a 'modern scent with citrus undertones.'"
"Don't read me the copy -- that's a description of bug spray. It smells like those big candles you light to keep the mosquitos away."
"THAT'S the stuff! Yuck."
Brian comes and stands over the tub. "And I won't go into what YOU will smell like when you get out of that tub. Or how wrinkled up all your appendages will be if you stay in there much longer."
I poke my foot out of the suds. "Why don't you check on them right now?"
"I'm not falling for that one," he says, pushing my foot back under the water. I poke it right back out at him.
"After you check out my foot, I have other parts you can investigate."
"Be good. We have to get dressed and go to that party at Sir Ken's."
"Yeah -- in an hour." I poke some other things out of the suds, but Brian ignores me, turning back to the mirror and his hair.
"You may be able to hop out of the tub and go happily on your way, but I have to prepare myself. It takes a lot longer."
"Brian, you could go dripping wet, with a towel around your waist, and still be the hottest guy there."
Brian gazes at himself in the mirror some more, examining his skin. "But I want to be MORE than just the hottest guy at the party."
"What more IS there than being the hottest guy in any room, Brian?"
"There is a lot more to existence than hot guys, you know, Justin."
"Since a long time. There's being the smartest guy. Or the best actor. Or even the kindest person in the room."
"Or having the greatest cock?" He's NOT smiling at that one. "Brian, is this the beginning of that mid-life crisis stuff I've been reading about? Because you're too young for a mid-life crisis. 'Cosmo' says that a mid-life crisis doesn't begin until you're at least forty." I start rinsing off the bubbles with the washcloth.
"Who is too young? And I'm going to kick Emmett's butt if he keeps giving you 'Cosmo' to read. If I find those things next to the bed again I'm going to toss them in the trash."
"You're just crabby because you failed the 'What's Your Cosmo Love Quota?' quiz."
"THAT quiz was BULLSHIT! There's nothing lacking in my 'Love Quota'!"
"That's what YOU think," I mumble.
Brian picks a large, fluffy towel off the warming rack and holds it up. "Out. Now."
I stand up, trying not to slide around in the slippery tub. Big puffs of suds are still clinging to me here and there. I try to climb out of the tub without killing myself. Brian reaches out and helps me onto the bathmat.
"I told you bathtubs are screwed. If I wasn't here you'd still be trying to clamber out of there."
"The sides are really high. And the bottom is slick."
"Let me see." He turns me around and runs his hand down the crack of my ass, wiping the bubbles away. "You're right -- it IS rather slick back there."
I lean in to him and press my wet, soapy body up against his dry one. I don't smell that awful aftershave at all -- just the heady smell of Brian's warm skin as I lick at his nipples, his neck, his mouth....
"We are supposed to be getting dressed...." he starts to protest. But he feels down to where the suds are dripping down my ass, my balls, my cock. "But fuck that."
Brian turns me around and bends me over the edge of the tub, running his hands up and down my sides, my chest, down to my dick, which he seizes and begins stroking. His own cock presses against me from behind, the oily bubbles sliding it up against my eager asshole. I push backwards and feel his cock begin to slip up inside.
"Wait!" Brian begins to pull away, but I keep pushing backwards. "I said STOP! Right now."
"Don't fucking stop NOW!"
But his dick is already inside me -- and I move myself back against him as hard as I can once, then twice, before he pulls out of me, his dick still hard and red.
"THAT was really fucking STUPID!" he says. "I've TOLD you about this before!"
"You wanted to do it," I say, staying in position. "You didn't come, I didn't come. Just get a condom and finish the job. Please!"
"I'll finish YOUR job, you little idiot!" He smacks me across the ass really hard. He's not playing now. "It's my fault. I should get my fucking head examined!"
"Get dressed," he snaps.
By the time Kenroy Smith arrives with the Rolls, Brian still isn't speaking to me. Things were going so perfect and now I'm feeling just fucked! This evening is just starting out and already it's a disaster.
"Fuck me, but I KNOW that chap!" says the man who just entered the party, late. He pours himself a large glass of sherry and sits down on the sofa next to Sir Ken.
Sir Kenneth's house in Chelsea is really beautiful. It is full of antiques and decorated with the kind of good taste lacking at the Chatterton. But the party is boring. The music is old and dull, the people are old and dull. They are mainly men, of course, all connected with the theater. All old friends of Sir Ken's. Everyone is drinking sherry and eating 'nibbles' -- which seems to mean prissy little sandwiches made out of cucumbers and olives and other things no one in his right mind would make a sandwich out of.
Sir Ken's boyfriend, Hughie, is sitting in the corner, sighing so loudly he sounds like a broken accordion. I'm supposed to be 'keeping him company,' as Sir Ken said when he introduced Hughie to me shortly after Brian and I arrived. But Hugh has nothing to say to me, even though he's also an art student and we should have a lot in common. Instead, he just rolls his eyes at me from across the room.
"That's Brian," says Sir Kenneth. "He's co-starring in that new film with James Hardy and he's doing the rocker in my picture. I'm giving this party to introduce him 'round."
"Brian," muses the new man. "That WAS the name, surely! I DO know him."
I turn to get a better look at the man speaking. He's not at all the kind of hot guy I was picturing when I thought of London. There are no Jude Law or Ewan MacGregor clones at THIS gathering. This guy is well-dressed, like all the men here, but he isn't very tall or handsome. He looks decidedly middle-aged and squishy around the stomach. Not many of the men I've seen at this party look like they work out much -- or at all. Maybe it's an English thing. Not one of them would even get the attention that Ted Schmidt gets on any slow night at Babylon. No wonder they are flocking around Brian! And he's basking in their attention.
And ignoring me, to my misery.
I watch Brian in the middle of a group of admiring guys. He's barely looked at me all evening, keeping his distance. He's still angry about the 'incident' at the tub. Maybe it was a dumb thing to do, but it's not like I planned it or anything! It really was an accident! It just happened! But Brian won't let me forget it. He's so fucking paranoid about being 'safe' and 'careful' -- he makes ME feel guilty -- me who, outside of those two seconds, has never been fucked without a condom in my whole life! And Brian ought to know that since he's the only one who has ever fucked me. I sometimes wonder if he even believes it?
I sit and rub on my brass bracelet, wishing I could turn back the clock -- but to when? To this afternoon, at the cafe? To before I walked into Ron's office and started watching that fucking video? I sink down in my chair.
"But Gerry, are you certain you know him?"
"Of course, Kenny! Who could forget those lips? And those eyes? Even after -- Good Lord! -- it must be ten years at least. He was a student and I was at RADA. But he hasn't changed at all. Not a jot."
I feel a little chill, thinking that this guy was one of Brian's tricks from way back when he was on his year abroad. He told me that he had been addicted to young, hot actors and this guy is an actor. RADA -- that's the big drama school, the Royal Academy, that Brian hung around. But Gerry's definitely NOT hot -- not in any Queer Universe I'm familiar with!
"He must have been quite the shopgirl's dream to catch your fancy, Gerry," says Sir Ken.
"Oh, he was -- he assuredly was. And you say HE'S your co-star? But he never was an actor. He was doing some business course or some such tedious thing. Tell, me, how IS he at acting?"
Sir Kenneth leans over, confidentially, but I can still hear him loud and clear. "Well, dear heart, he'll never play King Lear -- but with that body he doesn't have to!"
They both giggle like a couple of old ladies!
"Lucky for you, Kenny! Lucky for YOU! NO ONE would pay hard-earned money to see your naked flesh! YOU actually have to depend on good acting!"
I don't like the way they are talking about Brian at all. They sound good-natured, but they are still mocking him. They talk all polite and high-toned, but they are as rude as a couple of alley scumbags. Even Sir Kenneth, and I thought he was a nice guy. But he's 'dishing the dirt' along with the rest of them. That really disappoints me about Sir Ken.
Brian says that's just their way. Their British 'humor.' Campy. Putting people down all the time. Putting people -- especially Americans -- in their place. Brian thinks it's amusing. But I don't like it. I guess I'm just too fucking literal, but it bothers me to listen to these guys, who obviously lust after Brian, ripping into him because they know they can't have him. At least, that's the way it seems to me.
"Yes," says Gerry, watching Brian like a hawk. "I'm glad old Harry is out at the country house this week. He could be a bit of an obstacle, if you take my meaning."
"Er," says Sir Kenneth, clearing his throat. "You might want to watch it, Gerry. See this baggage on the chair here?" They point right at me as if I'm blind and talk about me as if I'm deaf. "That's the bit of fluff he's imported to keep him amused here in London."
"Why, whatever for? Don't tell me he's brought his own little rent-boy all the way from the States? Why we have plenty of them here -- and so much cheaper, too!" This Gerry looks me up and down, curling his lip in distaste. Like he's some kind of prize and not a balding guy with bad teeth who MIGHT have been hot for five minutes about a decade ago. Or else Brian wasn't as choosy back then.
"I'm NOT a rent-boy." Why is everyone thinking that lately? First Philip at the airport lounge, and now this jerk. I've always pictured myself as the well-scrubbed, innocent type. Maybe I'm hotter and nastier than I thought? That could be cool. But it's NOT cool with me for this guy to be joking about it.
"Oh, it TALKS, does it?" says Gerry, glaring at me.
"Of course you're not a rent-boy, my dear," says Sir Ken, trying to appease me. "Gerry's only trying to take the mickey out of you. He does that to everyone. He thinks it's a sign of his grace and favor."
"Well, I don't care for that kind of humor -- especially from people I don't know."
"Oh, he's a sensitive one, isn't he, Kenny? Are you a pampered little princess?" says Gerry, looming over me. "Not used to anyone who doesn't fall all over your sweet little ways, is that it? Cheer up. You'll just have to get used to it over here. Certain persons are meant to be seen and not heard -- and you're certainly one of those persons, ducky."
"Brian doesn't think so. And he wouldn't think the way you talk about him -- or me -- is very funny. Not at all."
"Oh, the lad can chat, can he?" exclaims Gerry, turning to a small group of men sitting nearby. "He allows you to chatter on, does he? I have a parrot I allow to do the same thing -- to about the same effect." The men in the corner all laugh at Gerry's supposed witty remarks at my expense. I don't get it at all.
"Gerry, you ARE the one," says another man. This Gerry must be an important guy in their circle, because they are all flattering him.
"Now, ducky, why don't you skip off somewhere, hm?" He says, then turns his back, dismissing me completely. "Now, Kenny -- lead me on to the main course," he says. Meaning Brian. The fucking main course! Is this what this party has been all about? Was this the purpose all along?
Sir Kenneth laughs and then leads Gerry right over to Brian. Gerry has a predatory look on his face. It's sickening.
"Brian. I have someone here you may know. Unless he's completely delusional! Our Great White Hope for the Theater, Gerard Milton."
Brian looks at him closely, something dawning on his face. "Gerry Milton? Hell, yes! How could I forget that red MG Midget?"
"Oh, my GAWD! Don't tell THAT story! I have to WORK with these people! They have to respect me in the morning." Gerry is flirting with Brian so hard he's practically turning himself inside out. Brian looks bemused.
I feel a pull at my arm. It's Hughie.
"Let's get the fuck out of here. We could go to a club. You game?"
I look over at Brian, surrounded by a crowd, Gerry Milton whispering in his ear.
"Sure. Why the fuck not?"
Hughie takes me to a large club that seems to be under some kind of subway or train station. There are multiple floors, all playing different styles of music. Even on a Monday night it's teeming with men.
The style on the main floor seems to be a kind of post-punk. I see a lot of guys with shaved heads, or buzz-cuts dyed blonde or orange. A lot of tattoos on arms and chests. They look tough, and much older than I know they must be. They also look a little scary to me. Skinheads. Bootboys. Soccer hooligans. Brian warned me to be on the lookout for that kind of trouble while we are here, but I didn't expect to find those kinds of guys at a gay club.
Hughie, with his dark hair flowing to his shoulders, lacy shirt, and velvet bell-bottoms, and I, in my American khakis and red and white pullover, stick out like a couple of sore thumbs.
"I usually go to the clubs with Brian. Don't you ever go out with Sir Ken?"
"Are you joking? Even if he wanted to come out to a club -- which is unlikely because it's too late and too loud for him -- I wouldn't bring him."
"What, are you a nutter? I'm meeting my boyfriend at the club, you berk!" Hughie stares at me like I'm completely dense.
"Your boyfriend?" I guess my mouth is hanging open.
"Of course! What do you think?"
"I didn't know -- I didn't realize...."
"This is a good club. You can find yourself a boyfriend easy, too, at least for while you're here in the city. Then you can go out together with us, Tony and me. Meet us at the clubs."
"But I don't want to find a boyfriend! I HAVE a boyfriend! Brian!"
"I mean a REAL boyfriend. Not just one that you've pulled for the perks. Not your bleeding keeper. It'll be easy. They'll be all over a cute American like you. They like Yanks."
"But you aren't listening to me, Hugh. I don't want another boyfriend! I don't want someone to fuck around with at the clubs! It's taken me long enough to get this far with Brian! I'm not going to jeopardize that."
"Well, he is quite nice looking. Dishy, even. But he's older than you."
"Older?" This from someone who is fucking a guy old enough to be his grandfather! "Brian is older than me, but he isn't old!"
"Well, he seems old to me. And he's too femme for my tastes. I like more macho blokes."
"WHAT!?" I practically yell this out over the loud music, I'm so incensed. "You've got to be fucking kidding!" Hughie, the guy saying this, has hair down past his shoulders and is wearing a pantsuit that looks like it came out of Cher's closet. He DEFINES the word 'femme'! "No guy in this place could match Brian for sheer balls. 'Macho' is total horseshit, Hughie!"
"Well, he's one of THEM. He's keeping you. Therefore, you need a boyfriend of your own. It's just common sense."
"That's just bullshit, too, Hugh!"
"No, it's not. It's something that's your own. I'm certain Kenny wouldn't mind me having Tony -- if he knew. Your bloke wouldn't mind, either, I'm thinking. He'll fuck anything that isn't nailed down. That's what everyone said about him out in Hollywood when we were there -- and it's true. He did Kenny -- he told me about it. And his co-star, Jimmy Hardy. He's a total slut. So, he can't begrudge YOU a bit of fun."
I just stare at Hugh. "That is SUCH a lie! You fucking take that ALL back!"
"All right. If you say so," Hughie shrugs. "But it's still the truth. Even you can't deny that."
"Fuck YOU, Hughie!"
I stalk over to the bar and get a beer. I remember to ask for an Australian lager, like Brian told me, and they give me a cold bottle instead of a warm glass.
A muscular guy with a shaved head and black wife-beater comes and stands next to me. He's checking me out, but I'm not interested. I'm mad at Brian and I'm mad at Hughie, but I'm sure not interested in this guy. He says something to me, but I can't understand a word.
"Blah blah blah, blondie," the skinhead mumbles. That's all I can decipher.
"I'm sorry. I really don't know what you are saying."
"Fook it!" THAT I understand. And he grabs me and yanks me onto the dance floor. His fingers are digging into my upper right arm. It really hurts.
"I don't think...." I try to pull away.
But this guy isn't taking 'No' for an answer. He's still digging into my arm. He's fucking strong and he smells like sweat and hot beer. He's dragging me around the floor like I'm a doll. The music is so loud and the guys are packed in so tight, this guy is crushed up against me, still hanging on to me tightly. He begins slobbering in my ear, whispering. I still can't understand him.
"Please let me go a little. That's my bad arm and it hurts."
He says something, but fuck me if I can figure out even one word.
"Ah, right. Uh huh." I don't know what I'M saying, now. But I start to figure it out as he drags me off the dance floor and into a dark area by the toilets. He pushes me against the sticky wall.
"I don't think so," I say, trying once again to pull away. I look around for Hugh. He's at the bar with a big, dark guy, muscular, with short clipped hair. That must be Tony. The guy has his hand casually stuck down the front of Hughie's velvet trousers.
Now the shaved-head guy is trying to stick HIS hand down the front of MY trousers. He squeezes my dick through my pants. Squeezes it hard. "Watch that!" I say, struggling to get loose. But I'm not going anywhere and he knows it. He's so much stronger than me that I'm starting to panic.
"Hugh!" I try to call to get his attention, but the music is too loud and he's too wrapped up in Tony to pay any attention to me.
The guy grabs at my top, shoving it up. When he sees my pierced nipple he goes right for it, biting hard until tears come to my eyes. He slams me back against the wall. Now I'm afraid. Really afraid. Because this guy is going to rape me right in the middle of this club and not one person is going to do a fucking thing about it!
"Hughie!" I yell, uselessly. Then, "Brian! BRIAN!"
And suddenly Brian is standing there. His face is bright red and his hair is disheveled and he looks like an avenging Fury. He grabs the skinhead by the back of his collar and jerks him away from me. Brian has about five inches of height on the guy, who looks up at him in disbelief. Brian has him by the throat now, shaking him the way a dog shakes a rat. The guy's head bobbles like a broken doll's. Now HE gets slammed against the wall.
Brian releases him and then picks me up from where I've slid halfway to the floor. My nipple is red and aching and my right arm is numb. Brian gathers me up against his chest and glares at the skinhead. He takes hold of my wrist and points to the brass bracelet.
"See THIS," he says to the guy, who is retreating rapidly. "That's MINE! Get that, you stupid fuck? And don't forget it!"
Brian pulls me toward the door with a grip like iron. He leans down at my ear. "Don't YOU forget it, either!"
"I thought you and that Gerry would hit it off. He and Sir Ken acted like it was a done deal. When Hugh wanted to go to the club, I just went."
Brian is lying with me in our room, under the big tent, smoking a cigarette. That proves to me just how upset he really is. He's pretty much given them up except in moments of real stress.
And me -- I've only just stopped shaking. I've been glued to his side ever since we left the club, flashbacks of Chris Hobbs and -- although I can't admit it to Brian -- flashbacks of Ron flying through my head at top speed.
"Gerry Milton is an ass. He was an ass back in '91 and he's an ass now. Only now he's a well-known ass AND a pretentious actor/director at the Royal Shakespeare Company. That's why they kowtow to him. That's why even Sir Ken cultivates him. He's got real power in this little world of the West End theaters. Back when I knew him he was just a pretentious drama student with a cool red car. Shit."
"I got the impression that he was making a prior claim on you, Brian."
"I don't think so. What is it with guys who fuck around with me a couple of times and then come back years later thinking that they own me? Are YOU going to show up in 2030 and want to drag me off in my wheelchair with you?"
"I won't have to, Brian, because I'm not GOING anywhere."
"I can believe that. You ARE like a fucking pitbull." Brian scratches at his mop of hair, which is still all in disarray. "I can't get over that Gerry. He was so certain that I would fall all over him. Plus, he's got a live-in lover. Some guy who is in a big soap opera here. Harry something. That didn't stop him for one instant! Whatever happened to fidelity, huh?"
I almost have to laugh at Brian being outraged at guys cheating on their lovers. But it isn't the fucking that bothers him -- it's the dishonesty.
My own stomach is gurgling and flipping with anxiety. "I don't like the whole attitude of all these guys, Brian. It's so two-faced. Gerry talked to me like I was nothing. He called me a rent-boy -- and Sir Ken went right along with it, laughing. To humor Gerry, I guess. I know he doesn't like me."
"It's an insular world, Justin. They don't know you -- you aren't part of their little circle. It's just like Liberty Avenue is an insular world. Outsiders have a hard time. Think of the way some people there treated you at first." I know he's thinking of Michael. And maybe the others, too. They only tolerated me because Brian -- and then Debbie -- made them accept me.
"I know," I say.
"But there's more to life than just that, isn't there? Isn't there more than just dishing people? Or picking people apart? More than trying to convince everyone else that you are worth something more than just what's on the fucking surface? I don't know." He says it like he's trying to convince himself.
"I hope so, Brian," I whisper.
"You didn't tell me you were leaving. You shouldn't have done that."
"I know. It was foolish."
"It's a good thing Sir Ken knew where the hell you and Hughie went. And that I knew where that club was. I used to go there ten years ago! Some things never change. That place is one of them. It was a fucking dive then and it's worse now! Kenroy drove me right to it. When I walked in and saw that guy manhandling you I blew my fucking top!"
"He was holding on to me -- I couldn't get loose! Really!"
"I know. I could see that. I don't blame you. Shit happens."
"Hughie is cheating on Sir Ken, Brian. He's blatant about it. He doesn't even give a shit! Everyone is so fucked up."
"That doesn't have anything to do with you. You're not like Hughie. You don't lie to me. I don't lie to you."
I can't answer him. I feel too much of a coward. If I really trusted Brian -- trusted myself, I'd tell him everything. About what happened with Ron. But I can't.
"It's completely my own fault. I was pissed off at you for what happened earlier. You don't know how that infuriated me."
"I'm sorry! It... was an accident. Really."
"I know, Justin. But you were all too eager to go along with it when it did happen. Too willing to take that risk! It isn't fucking worth it!"
"But with you...."
"Especially with me! An asshole like ME! Barebacking will NEVER be safe, because I'LL never be safe. Never. So don't even try to romanticize it." He turns over and puts the cigarette out in the ashtray next to the bed. But he stays turned over. "You can't trust me. Ever. You should know that by now."
"I don't believe that."
"Believe it. Ask Vic. Ask Ben. Don't trust ANYONE, Justin. Especially me. Especially me...." He looks around at me, a fatalistic expression on his face. "Never fall into that trap -- of thinking it's okay because you are in...." He pauses. He just shakes his head.
"I'm sorry." I don't know what else to say. I want to let him know how much I DO trust him. I DO believe in him. I do love him.
"I...." I stop. "Brian. I have to tell you something. Ron...."
"Jesus, don't mention HIM! Not NOW!"
"Quiet!" Brian is reaching around on the nightstand behind him. Then he moves me around to face him. "This time I AM prepared," he says, ripping the condom package. "It was all my own lapse before. But now I...."
"Shut the fuck up!" I say.
"I said 'shut up'!"
"Oh, yeah?" He raises up that quizzical brow.
"Yeah," I put my hand over his mouth before he can protest. "THAT might be yours," I say, holding up my wrist and showing him my brass slave bracelet. He reaches over to stroke the metal that's warm by being close against my skin. He's grinning at me.
Then I take the condom right out of his hand. "But THIS one is MINE! Get it?"
"Yes, Master," he says, laughing as he rolls over.
Continue on to "Working Out -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated August 5, 2002