I SHALL BE RELEASED

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 3 of Chapter 119 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "I Shall Be Released -- Part 2", the previous section.

The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Joe, Jimmy Hardy, Others.
Rated R and contains a warning....
Summary: Justin gets a phone call. Los Angeles, December 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.

All night long while I toss and turn in the little cabin of 'La Diva,' I have dreams of Brian being shot. Of Ron, his eyes all crazed and glowing, raising up the gun and firing. Of Brian, in despair, shooting himself. Or of some faceless, unknown person lurking in the dark and shooting him from the shadows. And -- the worst of all -- I dream of myself holding that black revolver. Aiming it at Brian, my own face cold and relentless. Shooting point blank. Destroying him in one moment. Destroying myself. That one wakes me up, sweating and crying in the narrow bunk.

It's sometime just before dawn. The sleeping bag on the other bunk hasn't been slept in at all. I get up and use the tiny toilet next to the galley, then I walk out onto the back deck. Brian is sitting on the deck chair, smoking a joint and staring out at the murky water. The showers have stopped and everything is wet and chilly. Brian is wearing only his jeans and dark blue tee shirt, which are sodden with the rain, but it seems like he doesn't feel the cold. Like he doesn't feel anything at all.

As I look at him I know that I love him. I really do -- and nothing can change that. But the real question is can I live with him? Be with him? Does Brian love me enough to stop hurting himself? To stop hurting US. And I don't know if he can. Or if he wants to.

"Brian?"

"Huh?" He looks up as if I just roused him from some shadowy dream. "Go back to sleep, Justin." Then he looks away.

"Brian, please don't turn away from me," I say. "What I said yesterday -- I meant every word of it, but not the way it sounded -- I didn't mean to be so harsh." I kneel down on the wet deck and squeeze his arm. "It's just that I'm so fucking frustrated, Brian! I love you so much, but I had to vent. I had to say something about what I was feeling! To make you see what you're doing to yourself! To make you see how you're injuring yourself. It hurts me so much when you do that." I curl my hand around his arm. "We can't keep doing this, Brian. I can't continue like this! Do you understand that? Brian? Do you?"

He takes a strong pull on the joint. "I understand, Justin. I've always understood." He turns his beautiful head and looks at me. "You deserve so much more. You always have. That's one of the reasons I left a year ago -- so that you could have a chance to find something better. To give you that space to breathe. So you could discover what you really needed. I wanted you to do that, Justin. To have that. And not waste your youth, or your whole fucking life, on something that wasn't worth shit. Because you DO deserve more than a partner who is nothing but a piece of shit." He blinks and looks away from me. "You deserve more than me. More than I'm capable of giving you."

"That is so not true!" I tell him. I want to pick him up and shake him! Shake some fucking sense into him! "You ARE capable of doing it! Of giving me the kind of... of love I need. You CAN do it, and you DO do it -- sometimes! But you have to TRY. It doesn't just happen. You have to have a little faith in yourself -- and in us! You can do anything, Brian. You can work miracles, remember?" I hold up my right hand to show him. I clench my gimp hand into a fist to show him how strong it is now. How steady. And to show him my slave bracelet on my right wrist. To show him that I'm still wearing it. That I'll always wear it, no matter what happens between us. That I mean it. I'll always mean it. "See? All that jerking off DID pay dividends!" I try to make a joke but it feels flat. The whole world feels flat.

Brian doesn't even crack a smile. "I had nothing to do with that, Justin. With your hand. YOU did that."

"But I couldn't have done it without YOU, Brian!" I insist. "Don't you see? I couldn't have. I almost gave up so many times, but you wouldn't let me. I kept fighting because of you. You know that, Brian. You MUST know that! And you can't give up, either!"

He shakes his head. "I can't fix things, Justin. You were right yesterday. Everything you said to me was right on the money. I don't listen to you. I don't value your opinion enough. I ignored your warnings about Ron. I only think of myself and my own needs -- always. My life is centered on my dick and that's all that matters. There isn't anything else to me, Justin. And that's the truth. I'm all surface, a mile wide and an inch deep. Like Gertrude Stein said, 'There's no THERE there.' That's me. You called it. You were right about that."

"But that isn't everything, Brian!" I cry. "There's so much MORE to you than that! So much more to US! You're NOT all surface. You're a human being who needs help. Who needs a partner who is really a true partner -- and not just a fuck buddy. And not someone who only wants to use you. Who only wants to manipulate you."

But all he keeps whispering is, "You were right, Justin. You were right."

"Brian, listen to me!" I feel like screaming -- as if it would make any difference! "I'm at the end of my fucking rope here! When I saw those bullets in Ron's gun I got so fucking terrified! That you think so little of yourself that you put yourself where HE wanted you to be. That you walked right into Ron's hands when you knew that you shouldn't! Because you know that Ron isn't right in the head!"

"I know," he says, in a defeated tone. "You were right about Ron, Justin. He's a sick man. I DO know that. I've always known it, really. Even back in New York." He's still smoking the joint. The trail of pot smoke is curling up and catching in the cold air, moving in dizzy directions. "I guess that makes me fucking sick, too. I know it does. I guess we must deserve each other, me and Ron," he says. He isn't looking at me. He isn't speaking to me at all.

"Brian, please look at me," I say desperately. "I realize that you feel sorry for Ron. That you have feelings for him, still. Feelings that are all screwed up in your head. I... I recognize that and I'm trying to understand why you feel that way. Maybe I can never understand completely -- maybe no one can. I'm trying, Brian! But if something happens to you, if you get hurt, if Ron... does anything to you...." I have to stop, because I have that picture in my mind from Brian's vision -- of Ron pointing the gun directly at Brian's face. Of Ron pulling the trigger. And it hits me with a jolt. An explosion. Blowing Brian's face apart. I have to steady myself against Brian's deck chair. "If Ron does anything to you, Brian -- no matter where I am, no matter what is or isn't going on between us -- I'll kill him," I tell him -- and as I say it I know that I mean it. If Ron ever hurts Brian, I WILL kill him.

"My little pitbull," Brian says. He strokes my cheek with his finger absently. "I think you should go back to bed now. Because I have a lot of thinking to do, Sunshine. I... I have to figure out what I'm going to do now. Because what you said IS right, Justin -- I'm a bastard. And if things don't change -- I don't know what will happen to me."

"Change? Change how?" I say, suddenly alarmed. Because whenever Brian begins making decisions out of his depression it's always a fucking disaster! "Brian -- don't start planning something all by yourself. Please! I fucking mean it! What I said yesterday was out of frustration and fear! Because I love you more than anything! That's the only thing I know in my life that's really true! We can get through this together, Brian! You and me!" I press my face against his leg. His jeans are soaking wet, as if he's just been sitting all night in the drizzle, not even feeling it. Or not even caring. "Sometimes you don't know what's important until you almost lose it. Right, Brian? Right?"

"No, Justin. What you told me yesterday -- it was what you really feel. I know that. It was from your gut -- and from your heart. I just have to figure out a way to deal with it." The joint goes out and Brian holds it in his hand and looks at it. As if the weed he's smoking holds some kind of answer.

"Deal with it? By not even trying? By cutting me out completely? By just giving up? On us?" I say, my voice rising to a panic. "Is that it, Brian? Is it?"

"Go back to sleep, Justin," he sighs. "Go inside. You'll catch cold."

So, that's it then. Brian is being Brian. He's shutting himself up in his shell and retreating from me. Again. Like the old Brian. Not like the new Brian who wasn't afraid to say that he loved me! The Brian who promised to be only with me. But that Brian has been shoved aside. He's going backward instead of forward. Without me. I stand up slowly and go back into the cabin. It starts to rain again, but Brian just sits there, letting it fall on him.

***

All morning I creep around the boat, trying to act like everything is normal. I feel like I'm sleepwalking. When he sees that I'm up for good, Brian finally goes into the cabin and lies down on the bunk. I follow him and pull off his soaking jeans and tee shirt. He lets me, but he doesn't say anything. His skin is freezing cold and I make him get into the sleeping bag to warm him up. Then he rolls over and is quiet.

The rain has stopped a little, so I decide to walk up to the pier and get milk and more sugar from the convenience store not far from the docks. If I make some strong, hot coffee Brian is sure to drink it. I also buy a newspaper -- I realize that I still don't know what happened with the Golden Globe nominations. I've had my cellphone off and I don't even remember where Brian's is -- probably still sitting on the seat of the Jeep. I think about Ron's gun in the glovebox and try to consider what we should do with it. The only person I can think of who would know best is Brian's lawyer, that sleazy cousin of Diane's. He'd know how to get rid of the thing.

"Hey, Justin!"

I look up. It's Joe, Brian's boat guy. He looks like he's coming from breakfast and heading for his boat, a cooler in one hand and a plastic bag in the other. "Hi, Joe. I'm just checking the newspaper."

Joe smiles at me. "For articles about Brian? Wouldn't that be swell if he won that award?"

My eyes widen. "Did you see the announcement? About the Golden Globes? Did Brian get nominated?"

Joe nods. "Didn't you know, kid? The whole damn movie got nominations! My old lady and I watched it on 'Entertainment Tonight' last night. Brian and Jimmy Hardy and that director, too -- a bunch of nominations."

"We were out on the boat, Joe, and completely forgot about the announcement. That is so incredible!" I walk down the dock with Joe and we talk about how great this is for the film and for Brian's career. "Even if he doesn't win, it's amazing for him to get nominated for his very first movie. But I know he's going to win! He HAS to win!"

Joe laughs. "All I can say is good luck!"

"No!" I instruct him. "You never say 'good luck' to an actor. You have to say 'break a leg'!"

Joe laughs again and heads for his own boat, while I climb onto 'La Diva.' I go over to my bag, pull out my cellphone, and turn it on. It begins buzzing almost immediately, so I flip it open.

"Justin!" says a frantic, familiar voice. "Where the FUCK have you been? I tried calling both you and Brian yesterday about the Golden Globes! But yours was off and Brian wouldn't answer his! Where the fuck are you guys right now?"

"Hi, Jimmy," I reply. "Brian left his cell somewhere and I forgot to turn mine on. We're at the boat." I set down my little bag of groceries on the galley counter.

"Justin, please listen to me. I want you to do exactly what I say, okay? OKAY?" Jimmy sounds freaked out.

"Jimmy, what's the matter with you? Where's Tess?"

"I'm over at Ron's. I want you to get Brian over here -- STAT!"

Over to Ron's house? I don't think so. "Brian is in bed, Jimmy. And I don't want to wake him up. He didn't get much sleep last night."

"I don't give a fuck, Justin!" Jimmy shouts into the phone. "Get both of your asses over here -- NOW!" And Jimmy's voice breaks.

I'm suddenly afraid. "Jimmy, what's going on? What's happening? Tell me!"

Jimmy sniffs on the other end. "When the Golden Globe nominations were announced I called Ron, but there was no answer. So I kept calling. Then I started calling around, looking for him. He ordinarily would have called ME two seconds after he heard the word. But... nothing."

Now I'm fucking scared. "Are you... at his house?" I think of Brian over there. And the gun.

"I finally came over when I got up this morning and still hadn't heard form Ron. I... I was worried." Jimmy stops. "Get over here, Justin. Don't tell Brian that... that anything is wrong."

"Jimmy!" I breathe, panicking.

"Just do it! Come as quickly as you can." And the line goes dead.

If I was cold and anxious earlier, now I'm like ice. Brian is sleeping on the bunk, his mouth slightly open, wheezing softly. "Brian," I say, shaking him gently. "You better wake up. Right now."

Continue on to Page 2 of "I Shall Be Released -- Part 3".