This is Chapter 58 of the "Queer Realities" series.
The narrators are Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor, and features Sylvia Schacter, Dr. Julius Gorowitz, Dorian Folco, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Justin look for a safe place. Springhurst/Pittsburgh. April, 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Read the stories and enjoy.
"There is a place within all of us,
It is sacred, so free of judgment,
And this is yours to share with who you wish.
This is your sanctuary,
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary,
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary.
There is no boundary, no rule to adhere,
There is love, there is hate,
There is want, there is need,
There is greed.
You can laugh, you can cry,
For you are free on the inside.
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary,
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary...."
I wake up and I can feel that something has changed.
I don't know if it's me, or him, or the whole fucking world -- but everything is different now.
"You know how to be happy, Brian," Ron said in that dream I had out in Los Angeles after Justin walked out on me. "You just refuse to believe how easy it is. You think there's some trick to happiness. But there isn't. All you have to do is live and let it happen. And do what you need to do."
Now I know what Ron was talking about. I know what he meant when he told me that I should do what I have to do. That I should let it happen and live my life. MY life, not anyone else's. It's so easy. And fuck anyone who doesn't like it.
I run my hands down Justin's slender body. He's surprisingly hairy, especially his legs. It's so incongruous when compared to his youthful blond smoothness elsewhere. But I like it. I like the feel of it against my hand. I'm kind of hairy, too, these days. I usually don't like that look, but Dorian says there were no waxed cowboys in Texas in the 1860's, so I'm going wild. I notice that the dark forest around my cock is especially dense. I guess I could trim my bush, but there are no nude scenes in 'Red River,' so what the fuck?
Justin stirs in his sleep and moves against me, wrapping his arms around my waist. Yeah, he's a snuggler, but I don't mind. I don't mind it at all.
He opens his eyes slowly and blinks.
"Hey, Sunshine," I whisper. "What's up?"
Justin yawns. "Brian," he says with satisfaction. "I had the weirdest dream last night."
I have to smile at that. "Did Ron pay you a visit and give you relationship advice?"
His eyes widen. "Ron? Pay ME a visit?" Justin sniffs. "Hardly! That wouldn't be a dream, it would be a nightmare!"
"Not necessarily," I say, lying back on the pillow. I still miss having a cigarette first thing in the morning. And also after a good fuck. I know I'll start smoking again after I leave this joint, but maybe I'll pick and choose when I smoke instead of grabbing a cigarette every time I turn around, simply out of habit. "So -- what was your dream?"
Justin sighs softly and bites at his lower lip. "Remember when we were on 'The Colleen' up at the Islands last year?"
"Of course," I reply. "Who could forget that little blue Speedo?"
"Shut up!" Justin laughs. "This is serious!"
"Oh, serious," I breathe against his pink ear. "Pray continue, then."
Justin wriggles closer to me. "We were driving in the boat on Lake Erie and you asked me if we should just keep going, right into the sunset, and never come back. Do you remember that, Brian?"
"Yeah," I shrug. "I guess so. I must have been stoned."
"No," says Justin. "You weren't. Well, this dream was kind of like that. Except we were in 'La Diva.' And we had the entire ocean in front of us. The sun was setting in front of us and I was driving the boat -- and we sailed into it. That was all. That was the end of the dream."
"Like I would let you drive my boat!" I huff. "Sounds like you need a vacation. Maybe after 'Red River' finishes shooting we can finally take 'La Diva' on that trip I've been thinking about. Would you rather go up the Coast, towards San Francisco, or down to Mexico?"
"Either way sounds great to me," Justin sighs. But he's very quiet this morning. Subdued. This whole reunion seems to have put us both in a reflective mood. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
"Is there something about that dream you aren't telling me?" I pry.
"Not really," Justin admits. "Only... it seemed like more than just a dream, Brian. We were both older. A lot older. It seemed more like the ending of something. But I don't know what."
"That proves it was only a dream, Sunshine," I return. "Because I'm never going to get any older. 'Brian Kinney -- Always Young, Always Beautiful.' That'll be my catch phrase."
"It's better than 'America's Boy Next Door,'" Justin agrees.
"Damn straight," I say, reaching for Justin's dick.
But before we can get very far there's a brisk knock on the door. "Brian!" comes the stern voice.
"Shit!" I whisper. "Busted." I put my lips up to Justin's ear. "Don't say anything. Maybe she'll think we're not here."
"Brian? I know you and Justin are in there. Can you hear me?" Sylvia says more sharply. "Justin? One of you answer me!"
"How does she know I'm in here?" Justin asks.
"Sylvia knows everything," I tell him. "She was watching the two of us all Friday. She must have figured it was inevitable that you'd end up in here with me before the weekend was through. Besides, there are security cameras at all the entrances. Just because we didn't see anyone at the front desk doesn't mean that no one saw us."
"Then you better answer her, Brian," says Justin, rolling over with a groan.
Fuck! I have to get out of this goddamn place. WE have to get out of here and back home!
"What, Sylvia?" I yell. "What the fuck do you want?"
"Brian, it's already noon. You've missed breakfast and you're about to miss lunch." Sylvia pauses. "And Dr. Gorowitz wants to see both of you. STAT!"
"She sounds like she means it," says Justin, smoothing down his ruffled hair. "We better get up."
"Why do I fucking do these things to myself?" I ask no one in particular.
"Don't worry, Brian," Justin smiles. "I'm going with you."
After a quick shower we make it to the dining room just in time to catch the tail end of lunch. Justin scoops up a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans, while I take a little salad and black coffee.
Sylvia saunters into the dining room and makes a beeline for our table. "I guess that the video shoot must have ended well," she remarks, crossing her arms and glancing pointedly at Justin.
"It went fine," I say shortly. "We got everything done before the rain washed us out."
"We're going to edit the video this week," Justin adds, giving her one of his ingratiating smiles. "Richard and Heather are Film Majors and they're helping me. The video should be pretty amazing when it's finished."
Sylvia softens a bit. Who the hell can be mad at Justin for more than five minutes? Especially what female? "I'm certain it will be very good," she says grudgingly. "I bet it'll win a prize in that competition."
"No," says Justin. "I'm not going to enter the video competition. But I am going to turn it in to my Media Arts class for credit. That means they'll show it during the Video Festival. However, I got too much help from Dorian and Richard and the others to totally claim it as my own. Using that crane was what really made the difference in the video, but it's not the same equipment the others had available, so it wouldn't really be fair."
"Making a film, even a three minute one, is a collaborative art," I remind him. "I'm sure the others who did videos got plenty of help, too. You use what you need to get the job done. That's what a real director would do."
"Probably," says Justin. "But I'm not a real director, Brian, I'm only a student. If I actually won a prize, I wouldn't want any of the other students saying that Justin Taylor won because he got extra help from a professional, or received special treatment because his boyfriend is a movie star. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yeah," I concede. "I know exactly what you mean." And that brings me up short. Maybe all the help I offered -- getting Dorian involved and everything -- fucked up Justin's chance to win a prize. Maybe I should butt out of it altogether. But he doesn't seem upset. And he knows he has footage for a really good video. That's much more important -- an excellent final product.
"I hate to be pushy, boys, but Dr. Gorowitz is waiting in his office to talk to both of you," Sylvia states bluntly. "I would get over there as soon as possible. He's a bit out of sorts today." And she stands there as we both stand up and skulk out of the dining room like a pair of outlaws on the lam.
"Why do I feel like I'm heading for the Principal's Office?" I ask Justin as we approach Gorowitz's door.
"It's me he's going to ream out, Brian," Justin asserts sadly. "After I promised him that I'd be here every week, after I assured him that... that I could handle everything -- I wasn't here! Dr. Gorowitz didn't think I could do it, he thought I was too young and he told me so! And I fucking proved him right."
"It's not your fault," I remind him. "I was the one who fucked up out in Hollywood, that's why you left. But that was a wake-up call for me. I won't make such a stupid mistake again. I fucking promise."
Justin squeezes my hand as I knock on the Doc's door and he tells us to come inside.
Gorowitz is sitting behind that big desk like a fucking judge -- and I feel like I'm on trial. Which is totally fucked up because for once I haven't done anything wrong! In fact, things haven't been so right since I landed in this joint. I'm sober, I'm almost ready to be sprung -- and Justin is here with me. So I have no idea what bug is up the good doctor's very tight heterosexual ass!
"Brian, please sit down. And you too," he says to Justin, his voice like ice. "I'm pleased that you were able to make it, Mr. Taylor. Finally."
Justin swallows and tightens his hold on my hand. "I... I've been really busy, Dr. Gorowitz."
"So Brian tells me." Gorowitz's face is carved of unyielding stone. He's determined to put poor Justin on the hot-seat today. And just because he missed a few weekends! Just because I was an asshole out in Los Angeles and almost fucked it up between us!
"Listen, Doc," I interrupt. "It's all my fault that Justin wasn't here. You know that! I'm the one who screwed up out in Los Angeles by getting smashed. I admit it readily. But Justin and I are working things out in our own way. It's this long separation that's mainly to blame. It's put too much pressure on both of us. But I'm getting out of here soon and that won't be a problem anymore. We're ready to go ahead -- together. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, Brian," says the Doc. "I do know what you mean. But now I want to know what Mr. Taylor means. I want to know how he feels about this relationship. Because we haven't seen him here at Springhurst since..." Gorowitz pauses and glances at a calendar on his desk. "Since the beginning of March. You two were supposed to meet with me for a session on Sunday, March 2. However, Mr. Taylor left Springhurst early that day before our scheduled meeting and hasn't been back since. That was seven weeks ago." Gorowitz turns his laser-like eyes on Justin, who is fucking squirming in his chair. "That is not the kind of commitment you promised you would give to your partner when he entered Springhurst, Mr. Taylor. It seems that as long as things were quite easy, you were willing to come here and work towards Brian's recovery. But the minute it was no longer convenient for you, you could not be bothered."
That fucking tears it! "Hey! You have no right to speak to Justin that way!" I snap. "This whole thing wasn't his fault. It was MY fuck up! So blame me!"
"I am addressing your partner, Brian," Gorowitz replies firmly. "And I would like to hear his answer. Where were you between the time you left here at the beginning of March and the end of that month, when Brian was allowed to go to L.A.?"
"Justin was getting ready for his exhibit at the Warhol Museum!" I retort. "He was working and studying! He's a student and that's what he's supposed to be doing!"
"Excuse me, but I would like to hear what Justin has to say, Brian," Gorowitz admonishes. "You have been going through intensive treatment and therapy here -- and he has been missing during most of that time. So I would like an explanation. Simply that."
I turn to Justin, who's sitting next to me with his mouth open, his face ashen. "You don't have to apologize to anyone, Justin," I inform him. "I'm the one who fucked up."
Justin looks at Gorowitz and then at me. His eyes look haunted. "I... I don't have an explanation, Dr. Gorowitz. I... I'm sorry I wasn't here. But I'm here now. Isn't that what matters?"
"Yes!" I say.
"No," Gorowitz counters. "Brian, much of your reliance on 'pain management' and addictive behavior centers on your emotional state. And your current emotions are tied to your need for your partner. However, this relationship is causing you a great deal of stress. You don't seem to know your partner's true feelings for you -- whether he loves you or does not love you, whether he's committed to you or not. The main problem is a distinct lack of communication on both sides. Neither partner seems willing to be totally honest with the other. Both of you seem afraid to tell the truth -- and I mean emotional truth as well as actual truth. To my mind, that does not bode well for a positive relationship once you are released, Brian. You are going to face many, many obstacles once you leave the sanctuary of Springhurst -- and I fear that this relationship is merely another obstacle to your recovery."
"Bullshit!" I cry. "Tell him that he's full of crap, Justin!"
But Justin puts his head down and doesn't say a word.
"Brian," Gorowitz continues. "If you are going to leave rehab soon, you need stability in your life. Your partner promised to help give you that stability during your stay in rehab. Instead, he has been the center of most of your anxiety over the past month and a half. You have invested all of your emotional capital in your partner -- and so far I have yet to see that he's made the commitment that will allow you to stay on course in your recovery once you leave here. Instead, he seems to be there for you when you go on trips to Hollywood or cozy weekends in the country. But the reality of a relationship is in the day-to-day. I'm not convinced that Mr. Taylor is ready for that daily commitment. Or that you are, Brian."
"Then you don't know a fucking thing, Doc!" I blast. "Justin and I had a slight misunderstanding -- which was all my fault! But it's okay now! We worked things out last night."
Gorowitz's face darkens. "Did you, Brian? Did you really work things out? Or did you simply have sex? Sex is NOT a panacea for your problems, as you should know by now. Springhurst is not a motel for you to bring your 'tricks' in order to relieve your sexual frustration. This is a facility for the treatment of addiction -- and a place where partners help each other to that end. Perhaps you and Justin are 'together' in that you enjoy having sex with each other. But as far as I can see, you two have yet to have a real discussion about your relationship and what you both want from it. And, if I'm not mistaken, you have not yet seriously discussed your separation or the reasons for it. Until you are able to do that without hesitation or fear, then I cannot believe there is any future for your partnership."
I want to jump over that fucking big desk and throttle the Doc! He's so fucked! After all I've discussed with him, this is what he says? This is how he fucking insults Justin to his face!
"I think I'm ready to leave here," I say. "As soon as possible!"
Gorowitz doesn't seem surprised. "I assumed you would say that, Brian. It's a mistake, but it's your choice in the end. You've always had the right to leave. But I had hoped that when you did, it would be because you were in a stable and secure place in your life, and that stability would allow you and your partner to support your continued sobriety and recovery. But I don't see you as being there, Brian -- not yet."
"That's it!" I stand up. "I'm leaving today! That's for fucking sure! As soon as I can get packed!"
Justin tugs at my hand. "Brian, don't do this just because you're angry! That's not the way to do it." He pulls me back down into my chair. "Dr. Gorowitz is right. We... we haven't talked about... things. I don't want you to go storming out of here before you're really ready to go. I don't want you to leave here with a chip on your shoulder, like you did from Haven of Hope."
"Then when?" I ask. "I have to get out of here! Every day we're apart is fucking us up!"
Gorowitz clears his throat. "This is Sunday, April 20th. You are scheduled to be released from Springhurst on the 1st of May. That's a little over a week and a half, Brian. That gives us a bit more time to resolve some issues in your recovery, as well as next weekend for Justin to come up here and have a long and serious session with me to prepare both of you for your imminent release. I think that's the least you and Justin can do. Is that agreed?"
"Another fucking week and more!" I grumble. But Justin nods at me. "Okay, Doc," I say. "The First of May. But that's when I'm leaving! Period!"
Gorowitz makes a note on his calendar. "That's the day, then, Brian. But you have a lot of work to do between now and then. Both of you!"
I look over at Justin and his face is frozen, like he's scared. "Hey, this is what we've been waiting for, right?"
"Yes," he whispers. "This is it."
I feel numb as Brian and I walk out of Dr. Gorowitz's office.
Brian is getting out in a little over a week.
This is what I've been waiting for. What I've been hoping for.
But... Dr. Gorowitz knows. He knows that something isn't right. And he's determined that he's going to get to the bottom of it. He practically accused me of lying to Brian! He wanted to know where I've been. What I've been doing.
Of course, Brian came to my defense, taking all of the blame for our separation. And I just sat there and let him do it. Let him take it all on himself. He thinks it's all about him and his fuck-ups.
Brian has no fucking idea.
It was like the doctor was looking right through me. Like he could see Dylan and I fucking in front of him. And I couldn't meet his eyes. When he said that I had promised to be there for my partner -- he was right! I made a promise and I didn't keep it. I wasn't there when Brian really needed me. I bragged that I was Brian's partner and I'd help him in his recovery. But I wasn't there for him. I fucked up. I did.
But I'm here now! I am! This is where I want to be and no place else. With Brian. Always!
As we walk past the front desk, Dorian is standing there, waiting. "Brian!" he calls out.
"Dorian!" says Brian. "What's up? I thought you were leaving this morning to go back to L.A.?"
"My flight is this evening," Dorian says. "There were a few things I needed to finish up." He smiles slightly as he says this and it makes me wonder if Richard was one of the things he needed to finish. "I hired a car to take me to the airport in Buffalo. But I wanted to take my leave of you in person. And also to thank Justin for allowing me to sit in on his video shoot. It was great fun."
"I really appreciate you taking the time to come here, Dorian," I tell him. "I learned so much from you. Making a video is a lot harder than I thought, so I have new admiration for you movie directors!"
"Wait until we get on location for 'Red River,'" says Brian. "All those horses and cows and stunt men and insane heat and dust... that's when you'll see a logistical nightmare!"
"Thank you for reminding me of what is ahead, Brian!" Dorian laughs.
"Hey, it won't be your ass on a wild-eyed horse in the middle of a stampeding herd of cattle!" Brian says, pretending to be angry. But he's grinning. "The Doc just gave me the word -- I'm officially sprung as of May 1st."
Dorian puts his arms around Brian and hugs him tightly. "Wonderful news! Production officially begins on the 19th, but we won't need you to be in Texas at the location for Cowboy Camp until May 24th. All the principals will need to work with the wranglers and stunt coordinators before we begin the location shoot. I want all the actors to be familiar with the horses and comfortable with the stunt scenes." Dorian turns to me. "Are you going to come on location, Justin? You're welcome to attend Cowboy Camp -- or you can merely be a bystander if you'd rather."
"Yes! I'd like to go to the Cowboy Camp with Brian!" I smile at the thought. I can't wait to get on a horse again! "But will we really be camping out? Like in sleeping bags? I'm trying to imagine Brian sleeping on the ground!"
"Yeah, I'll be camping out in a very large RV with a double bed, a shower, and air conditioning!" Brian cracks. "That's as much roughing it as I want to do!"
Brian and Dorian discuss some details of the filming for a few more minutes, but then Dorian has to go. "My driver is waiting," he says. "I'll call you when I get back to the West Coast, Brian."
"Thanks, Dorian," says Brian. "Things are working out great. I'm looking forward to the shoot. Justin and I will report for duty all ready to go!"
"I know you will," says Dorian. "And Justin, don't forget to send me a dub of the video once it's edited."
"I will, Dorian," I say. "Thanks again."
After Dorian leaves Brian and I head back to his room. "I need to go and check out of the motel, Brian. And I need to get my stuff. Richard and the others have probably already left to go back to Pittsburgh in the van."
"Get your shit and then get your ass back here, pronto!" Brian orders. "You can drive back to the Pitts tomorrow morning. Because I have plans for tonight. Big plans."
"Yes," I reply. "Plans. Then I'll be back as soon as I can next weekend."
"You bet your ass you will!" says Brian. "No more fuck-ups -- for either of us!"
I've already missed my Monday morning classes, so when I get back to Pittsburgh I head directly to the loft. I was planning to get up early and leave so I'd make it back in time for class, but once we woke up Brian had some other plans. Yes, more plans I could go along with. So I finally pull up in front of the loft and drag my tired ass out of the Jeep at around noon.
I turn around. And everything goes cold.
"Get out of here, Dylan," I say. "I'm already late."
"Back from your little video shoot?" he asks. "Everything go okay?"
"It went fine." I drag my suitcase out of the Jeep and roll it up to the door of the building. "Not that it's any of your fucking business."
"I thought you'd be back last night," he says. Dylan's voice sounds hoarse. Strange. I stare at him and he looks messy. His clothes are all rumpled and he hasn't shaved. "I... I've been waiting for you, Just."
"What the fuck for?" I say. "Listen, Dylan -- I told you that I don't want to see you. I don't want to talk to you. And I don't want to be your friend. That's finished. Brian and I are back together -- for good!"
"I know," he whispers. But Dylan seems so subdued. Something is definitely wrong. Then I notice that he has a bruise on his face, just above his right eye.
"What happened to you?" I ask.
He touches his face as if shielding the bruise from view. "My fucking roommate, Nate, and a couple of his friends. They came in drunk last night. They started baiting me. Calling me a faggot. Asking where my blond piece of ass was. Saying that they knew I'd been bringing you back to the dorm while Nate was gone for the weekends. One of the guys on the floor told him. Nate was shit-faced and he was pissed."
"It's your room, too, Dylan," I remind him.
"But Nate warned me at the beginning of the semester that he'd beat the shit out of me if I did any fag stuff in HIS room!" Dylan laughs grimly. Then he coughs painfully.
"Are you really hurt?" I say. Now I'm concerned. I don't want to sleep with Dylan anymore, but I don't want him to get beaten up, either.
"I got a couple of good punches in, but there were three of them," says Dylan, wincing. "Then they threw me out of the room. I knocked on the RA's door, but he wasn't there. I was going to sleep in the lobby of the dorm, but the security guard wouldn't let me. So I walked over here last night. I pressed the buzzer, but there was no answer. Then I remembered that you were on that video shoot. So I slept in the doorway and hoped that you'd be back for class this morning." Dylan runs his fingers through his limp hair. "Pretty pitiful for a big jock, huh, Just?"
"That's shitty, Dylan," I say, opening the door of the building. "Maybe you should go to the Health Center at Carnegie Mellon and get checked out?" But Dylan shakes his head. "Then you have to go to the Dean's Office and report Nate and his asshole friends. They can't beat you up and get away with it!"
"Oh no?" Dylan replies angrily. "Straight guys can bash queers all the time and get away with it. You ought to know that better than anyone, Just."
I swallow, a sick feeling deep in my gut. "Yes, I know that better than anyone."
"Can... can I come in?" Dylan asks hesitantly. "I can't go back and stay in that room! Not right now. Maybe I could stay in the loft for tonight? Or for a couple of days? Until Nate calms down. Or until I can get transferred to another dorm. You have so much room up there, Just. And I... I promise I won't bug you. You'll never even know I'm there."
I stand there in the open door. I don't want Dylan in the loft. I need to get everything ready for when Brian moves back in next week. I also have to edit my video this week for it to be ready for the Video Festival. The last thing I want is Dylan and his melodrama distracting me. But Dylan really looks like hell. His fucking roommate and his friends really did a number on him. And Dylan came to me because he knows that I understand what it's like to be bashed. Yes, I know all too well.
"Okay," I tell him, pulling my suitcase inside. "But only for a couple of days. I mean it. That's all."
"That's fine, Just," says Dylan, smiling slowly. "That's all I need. A couple of days. Then everything from then on should be sweet."
"Take this light, hold it high, feel it shine
I know now that here inside,
This is mine,
This is yours,
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary.
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary.
This is mine,
This is yours,
This is your sanctuary, sanctuary.
This is your sanctuary.... sanctuary."
Continue on to "Black".
©Gaedhal, September 2005.
Posted September 8, 2005.