This is Part 1 of Chapter 109 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Things Have Changed -- Part 4", the previous "Queer Theories" section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, with Brian Kinney, Fiona Stewart, Kenroy Smith, Dorian Folco, Travers. Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin deals with the aftermath of Brian's encounter with Fiona. England, October 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.
I wake up very early after a night of having one strange dream after another.
Actually, I've been having strange dreams for a long time. Even before I saw my vision last summer. Ever since the bashing, really. It was mainly nightmares then, but since Fiona showed me my Alternate Stream and made me understand where I truly belonged, the dreams have been more and more about us. About me and Brian.
I've really only told Brian about one of them. The alley in New York. But there have been others. Lots of others. Sometimes just with me. Other times just with Brian. But mostly with us together. At all different times and places. And now I understand that they aren't simply my dreams of what I'd like to happen. Or even what I imagine has happened. Sometimes they are the two of us, in different lives. Different streams. Now I understand -- that is what I've been seeing.
I get up and get dressed quietly. Brian is sleeping so soundly. I know he's exhausted. Dorian told me how restless and miserable he was in the hospital. This is probably the first time he's slept through the night in a long time. So I don't want to disturb him.
I go down into the dining room. Even this early, I know breakfast will be ready. And I immediately see Kenroy Smith, sitting at the long table, drinking tea and reading the 'Sunday Times'!
"Justin!" he says, looking up.
"Kenroy!" I rush over and hug him. "What are you still doing here?"
"It was quite late last night when you finished, so Mrs. Stewart decided to stay. I'm driving her back up to London after church." He's smiling at me. But then his face goes serious. "Justin -- I'm so sorry. For what happened. I feel it's my fault...."
But I stop him. "Kenroy, I've already had Dorian apologizing. And Brian. Not you, too. It isn't anyone's fault. Things... happen."
"But I promised you that...."
"Please! No. No one is to blame. Especially not you, Kenroy. And I'm so glad to see you."
Now he smiles broadly. "You would have seen me tomorrow anyways. Aren't I drivin' you and the Man to the plane?"
"I guess so," I say. And as much as I love it here in England, especially at Firelands, it's really time to bring Brian home. "Thanks for everything that you've done for us, Kenroy."
"That's what I'm here for."
"Justin," says another voice. I turn around and see Fiona. She's dressed in a purple suit with a little hat on her head and carrying a matching purple purse, like the Queen. "Good morning, my lad."
I go over and hug her. "Thanks for what YOU did, Fiona."
"I'm glad you are thanking me and not cursing me, young man." Fiona raises her eyebrows.
"No, it... had to be. Brian had to see," I say.
"Still, I don't think I am the person he would like to behold first thing this morning. Which is why Mr. Smith is taking me to church."
"That little church in the village?"
"The same," she replies. "Would you like to ride along with me, Justin? Perhaps we might chat in the car? Unless you don't want to miss breakfast."
I look at the sideboard piled high with food. "There will be plenty when I get back. There's always plenty of food at Harry's house. Yes, let's go."
Kenroy finishes his tea and then goes and brings the Rolls around. He opens the door and Fiona and I get in.
"Justin," Fiona says as we move down the long driveway of Firelands. "I wanted to speak with you before I leave -- and I mightn't get another chance."
I swallow. "About Brian? About what we saw?" She nods. "You were trying to warn him, I know. About Ron."
"Yes, dear, but I also wanted to talk about YOU, Justin," she says. "You are very sensitive, you know. You have an empathy. It's a kind of Gift."
"A 'Gift'? I do?" I say. "Like what kind of empathy do you mean?"
"You can draw people into yourself, lad. They trust you, instinctively. And you can help people to understand themselves. That can be a powerful thing."
"It is?" I tilt my head at Fiona, very unsure.
"Yes, Justin, and important. You can help people -- and not only Brian, as you did last night. But many people. You already have changed people's lives. Changed the way the they think and behave. I see your family and your friends who have been profoundly affected by your courage. Your mother, for instance, who has been inspired to make her own life and her own choices."
"I don't know -- my influence on my family has been pretty... negative." I think of my parents breaking up. My mother torn between me and my dad. Molly having nightmares....
"Not all painful things are always bad things. And not all easy things are good, Justin. But there are others who have been touched as well."
"Touched in what way?"
"Think, Justin. I see people in your school -- students, teachers."
"I don't know, Fiona," I say, shaking my head. All I can think of at school are the guys who harassed me. The teachers who allowed it to happen. The other students who turned a blind eye.
"But you have made a difference in how they think, whether you know it or not. And people who heard and read about the attack on you and about the way Justice was NOT done in your case -- you have affected them, too."
"I have? Really?" But then I remember Wade and how he told me that he was afraid to come out after I was bashed. "Yes," I say. "And not always for the better."
"Don't be too certain, Justin. It takes time to change people's hearts and minds. But you have planted seeds that already are growing. And you will do even more with your talent and your art. Always believe in your art because it is important." She pauses and looks at me closely. "When I first saw you at Firelands last summer I felt that you had this Gift of empathy. I was drawn to you because of it and I felt that I could help you. But when I realized last night that YOU could see what Brian was seeing, that you were sharing his vision, I was quite amazed."
"You were? I thought you intended that!" I assert. "I thought I was supposed to see all that along with Brian!"
"No, Justin." Fiona shakes her head. "I didn't intend that. It never crossed my mind that you, too, would see what Brian was seeing. It's... very unusual. It indicates a very powerful connection between the two of you. And a long connection, through many lives and many streams."
"I know," I reply, quietly. "I've seen them. Those other lives and streams, I mean."
"You have?" She glances at me in surprise. "When?"
"In my dreams," I say. "Brian said to me when we first met that I'd see him in my dreams. He was being flip, as usual, but it turned out to be true. So true. I've been dreaming about us constantly ever since I was bashed. I was in a coma for almost two weeks, did you know that?"
"Yes, my dear, I know. Harry told me about it and the aftermath later. I felt badly that you were upset. But that also made clear in my mind some of the other things I was seeing about you while I was showing you your Alternate Stream. It was your attack I was reading in your thoughts. And then I understood why Brian was so distressed and so protective of you."
"Yes," I say. "Brian feels guilty about it. About the bashing."
"Guilty? For saving your life? Because that is what he did. Saved your life -- and his own, as well, although he may not realize it."
"I keep telling him that he saved me, but he doesn't like to talk about it. My bashing is too traumatic. Just like his own... attack is too traumatic for him to face. At least not yet."
"Then YOU must help him face it, Justin. You are the only one who can help him."
I think about what Fiona is saying. How it's what I really feel -- that I'm the one who CAN help Brian. If he'll only let me. "When I was having those weird dreams, I didn't understand what I was seeing then. I was doing things with him that we'd never done, in places where we'd never been. But I think I understand now. They're telling me about my deep connection with Brian."
"Of course," Fiona answers. "You often 'feel' something long before you understand it intellectually. And you are a sensitive lad. Sensitive to people's emotions. And you must know that Brian himself is very sensitive, as well."
"Brian?" I say, dubiously. "I don't think so. You must be mistaken, Fiona."
"No, Justin, it's true. It may be in his family. It is in many Celtic families, like it is in mine. Perhaps his grandmother or great-grandmother had it. And even further back."
I have to think. "Brian mentioned a crazy grandmother once. His father's mother. That she was always predicting things and making weird statements. Brian says they just all thought she was nuts! But Brian doesn't have any psychic powers, Fiona! That's definite!"
Fiona laughs. "Crazy grandmother, indeed! I'm certain he thinks that I am 'nuts' as well! No, Justin. Having 'The Sight' doesn't manifest itself in men, no matter what their lineage, my lad. That's not what I'm saying at all. Of course, Brian is not the run-of the-mill man. And neither are you, Justin." She smiles at me. "No, Brian doesn't have 'The Sight' -- his sensitivity is a powerful way of feeling and connecting with people. People are drawn to him -- especially men! -- almost against their will. Like magic. Having 'charisma,' you might say."
"That's not magic, Fiona! That's Brian's sex appeal!" Now I really have to laugh.
"It the same thing. The very same thing. He radiates it. It causes people to react to him with extremes. Extreme love -- and extreme hate. But he feels very powerfully -- don't doubt that for a moment."
"Well, it's certainly true about our friends," I respond. "They all have extreme feelings about Brian! They either adore him..." And I think of Michael and Lindsay, always fawning over Brian. "Or they detest him..." And I picture Melanie and Ted, sniping at Brian over every little thing. "But as to Brian's feelings... I don't know, Fiona. Brian can barely even articulate his own feelings! And that's just the truth."
Fiona leans over to me and nods. "But articulating those feelings and actually having them are two entirely different matters. Brian has been greatly hurt, Justin," she answers, softly. "And not only in this life, this stream. Many times, in many lives. His mind blocks that sensitivity -- blocks those visions such as you have been having -- just as he blocks his own feelings. That often makes it seem as if he's hard or uncaring. But you know all too well how untrue THAT is. It is that emotions are far too painful for him to allow. Feeling hurts too much. Which is why it is important that YOU reach those emotions. Love him and help him to love you. Because then you can help him in all of his other streams. And in his other futures. YOUR futures."
"Geez," I breathe. "That's a lot to think about. And a big responsibility."
"Don't you think you are up to the challenge, my lad? We have a saying here in England -- 'Who dares, wins.' And I think that applies. If you don't dare it, then you can never win your heart's desire."
"I guess so," I say. It's very confusing. And maybe a little too deep for me! But I want to help Brian in any way I'm able to.
"But the other thing, Justin," Fiona adds. "What you both saw. The last vision. You understand what I mean?"
"Ron," I reply. Yes, it's always Ron.
Fiona suddenly grips my arm. "Brian will not protect himself. He will never believe himself in danger from that man. Never. That is obvious. So YOU must watch out for him. Protect him." Then Fiona lets me go and sits back in the leather seat of the Rolls. "I know you think that Brian is YOUR protector, Justin. And he has been. Many times. But it goes both ways. In all lives and streams, your roles have been as EQUALS. Always. Never one dominating the other. Which is the way it should be."
I consider this. "I can see that in our life together. I feel many times that I need to take care of Brian. Like now."
Fiona takes my hand gently. I feel that little current, like a shared energy, passing between us. She turns and looks deeply into my eyes. "As he cared for you when you were injured. I can see that clearly now. He watched over you in hospital. Even though you didn't know it consciously, you knew it in your heart. In your soul. That he loved you, even then. Which is why you didn't reject him when everyone else wanted you to. Your friends. Your mother."
"That's true!" I say. "My mother told Brian to stay away -- and I freaked when I found out what she did."
"But even SHE understands the two of you in her heart of hearts, Justin. Your mother only wants to protect you. She only wants what is best for you, as a mother should. You have to help her to believe you two belong together. And make your other friends see it, too."
"Our friends!" I sigh. "That's hard, Fiona. You don't know how hard!" Yes, sometimes I think that our friends sabotage us almost more than anyone else.
"But not beyond YOU, my dear! Nothing is beyond you," Fiona laughs.
"But Ron," I whisper. "I'm afraid of him."
Fiona is silent for a few moments. "You should be afraid of him, Justin. He's a driven man, always. In all streams. A damaged man. And his obsession with Brian is not new. And not only in this life. Which is why he cannot let it go. But...."
"But what?" Now Fiona is really frightening me.
"You MUST keep them away from each other. As long as you stand between them...."
"But Ron hates me, Fiona! He might... hurt me," I say, feeling like a coward.
"No, Justin. He won't injure you. Not you. You are not his obsession. To him, you are inconsequential. Brian is all that matters. Fear what this other man can do -- but not to you. Be the protector you need to be." And a chill goes up my spine.
The Rolls pulls up to the little church where I went with Gerry Milton's sister, Sybil, and her husband last summer. Brian went with us then, but he wouldn't go inside the church. He stood outside with Kenroy, smoking and brooding. But I went in. I wanted to. And it felt good to be there. I'd do it regularly if I didn't think that Brian would rag me unmercifully.
Fiona and I go into the church, along with the local families, and sit in the back. And I really feel something. Not a vision or 'The Sight' -- nothing so dramatic. But a feeling. A peaceful feeling. That I know what is right. And where I belong.
Kenroy drops me off in front of the house and then drives off with Fiona back to London. But he'll be returning tomorrow to pick up me and Brian and take us to the airport because we are going back to Pittsburgh. Which means I need to follow Brian's advice and call my mother to explain where I am and what's really going on. To begin having that talk with her about me, and Brian, and our future. And I need to call Cynthia to pick us up at the airport when we get home.
I go into the dining room to have some breakfast before I head back upstairs. Dorian is sitting in there, reading the same paper Kenroy was looking at earlier. He has a cup of black coffee in front of him and an exhausted look on his face. He's also smoking one of those dark brown cigarettes.
I don't know what I should feel about Dorian. In one way, he's been a friend to both me and Brian. He called me when Brian was in the hospital and then he helped arrange for me to come over here. And he's been fending off Ron, too, which I'm grateful for. Harry told me all about that. Sometimes I almost feel like Ron is ready to swoop down on us and carry Brian off like one of those giant birds in the prehistoric movies. Dorian is working on not letting that happen.
Dorian has managed to calm the whole situation by putting out the rumor that Brian went to Scotland after he was 'mugged' -- that was the story in the statement that Brian's lawyer released and the one that the press are going with. Harry even showed me an editorial in one of the tabloids yesterday bemoaning the fact that even celebrity visitors to London are no longer safe from street crime and that the police had better get busy rounding up criminals! So, Dorian and Sir Ken spread the word among their friends that Brian was up at a castle in a remote area of Scotland. I guess Dorian knows a man up there with an actual castle who is helping make it seem that Brian's really there. That way, if Ron or any reporters try to track Brian down, they'll be in the completely wrong country!
But the thing that isn't so comforting is that I can see how much Dorian likes Brian. Really likes him. Which is nothing new. Every guy Brian meets likes Brian! Lusts after him. Wants to have sex with him. And for a while there it seemed to me like every one of them DID! That 'charisma' Fiona was talking about at work! But Dorian is different because I can tell he's serious about his feelings.
Dorian tries to pretend that he's very sophisticated and doesn't believe in 'relationships' and that kind of thing. He tries to be very 'European' about the whole thing. It reminds me of Brian's old credo -- "I don't believe in love, I believe in fucking." Thank goodness Brian doesn't believe in it anymore! Dorian pretends that he still does believe in it. But I can see through his 'sophisticated' pronouncements. It's different than last summer, too, when Dorian obviously made his play for Brian and was rejected -- mainly because I was with Brian and Brian was being 'good'! But Dorian shrugged it off and stayed friendly. Which is natural because Brian IS the star of his movie. So, Dorian didn't get weird or turn into a jealous loony or anything. And that was good.
But this whole incident with the attack has really thrown Dorian for a loop. I can see it in his face. The attack must have brought Dorian's feelings for Brian into sharp focus. He's more concerned about Brian than just as a friend. It's so obvious. But he's trying to hide it. And he's trying not to get in my way. So I suppose I feel sorry for Dorian. But I'm also keeping my eye on him, too. Just in case.
"Good morning, Justin," Dorian says. "You've been out early. Not riding, certainly?"
"Nope," I reply, sitting down with the plate of sausages and eggs I filled from the sideboard. "I went to church."
That surprises him. "Oh," he says. "I see." But he doesn't.
"I went last time I was at Firelands, too. It's a nice little church in the village."
"Well, that's... um, splendid," Dorian says, puzzled. He puts down his newspaper. "Is everything all right? After last night?"
"Seems okay... so far. But with Brian... you can never be sure of anything."
"Quite," says Dorian. "Clive has made your arrangements for the return. A bit convoluted, but it should keep you away from any prying eyes. We'll be leaving from one of the regional airports -- Mr. Smith will drive us -- and flying into Dublin. Then it's on to Boston, and then your final destination -- Pittsburgh."
"WE will?" I ask. As in me and Brian -- and Dorian? I'm not sure about that!
"I'll accompany you both as far as Dublin. In order to make certain that all goes smoothly. Then I must return to London." Dorian sighs. "I have a lot of work to catch up on."
"Oh. Okay. Geez, Dorian -- Ireland!" I say, excitedly. "We're going to Ireland!" Brian and I talked about going there and renting a car after our drive around England worked out so well last August.
"Only to change planes," answers Dorian.
"But that'll be another country for my list!"
"Yes? Do you have many?" Dorian smiles for the first time.
"No. Just England. And Canada, too, when I was much younger. But that was with my parents. So Ireland will be my third country! But I hope to add a lot more in the future."
"I'm certain that you will, Justin." Dorian fumbles with his coffee cup. He likes that strong Italian coffee and I can smell its aroma from across the table, but it must be loaded with caffeine that makes him a little nervous. "You MUST travel if you wish to be an artist. Especially the European cities. Italy, of course. Madrid and the Prado. Paris. And the Eastern capitals. Vienna and Prague, certainly. And The Hermitage in St. Petersburg."
"I know," I sigh. "But right now I'm stuck in the Pitts. Literally AND figuratively!"
"Not for long, perhaps," says Dorian, a faraway look in his eyes. "You must discuss this with Brian. He seems to think that your studies are mainly about reading a book and listening to a lecture. You must convince him that schooling is only a small part of the education of a true artist. Experiencing the world is much more important. Let him know that, Justin." Dorian turns and stares at me intensely. It's a little unnerving, but I can see that he's sincere about what he's saying. I trust Dorian in a way I usually would never trust someone who was obviously my 'rival' for Brian's affections. Except, I don't have any doubts about where Brian's affections really lie. Not anymore.
"I'll try, Dorian, but Brian thinks he knows what's best for me. He's convinced he knows, in fact!"
"Perhaps things have changed, now, Justin. We shall see," and Dorian goes back to reading his paper, drinking his coffee, and puffing on his dark, smelly cigarette.
I finish my breakfast and head back upstairs. I bring a large cup of coffee with me -- with plenty of sugar poured into it -- for Brian. But he's still sound asleep in the bed. I set the coffee down on the bedside table.
And I decide to take a bath. A nice, hot, bubbly bath. I really loved taking them at the Chatterton. That was a great old bathtub! Brian said it looked like it belonged in a French whorehouse, but that's okay. I'd like to be an artist in a French whorehouse, like in 'Moulin Rouge'! Drawing all the girls. Staying up all hours and carousing. Like Babylon, only with fancier clothes! As I fill the tub I can see myself so clearly actually doing this. Except it isn't in Paris -- it's in San Francisco. Sometime in the 19th Century. In a saloon. Like in a Western movie. As I soak in the tub I have this little daydream that seems so vivid. Maybe it's one of my past streams. I think I've dreamed this before, because Brian is there, too, tall and unshaven and very sexy in a black leather outfit, like a gunslinger. Those are the kind I usually remember!
I'm smiling to myself, when I suddenly look up. Brian is standing in the doorway of the bathroom, smirking at me.
"Howdy, Pardner," I say. Because that's what Brian is in my little daydream. My 'Pardner.'
"Pardner, huh?" he snorts. "I wake up to take a piss and find YOU in here splashing around with a goofy grin on your face. Go ahead, rub it in because I can't take a bath -- or even a real shower!"
"Sorry, Brian, but that's what the doctor said."
"Bullshit. I probably smell like a ditchdigger," he pouts. He goes over to the toilet and turns away from me while he pees.
I sink back in the suds and close my eyes. It's nice and steamy in the bathroom. And the bath salts and soaps that Harry has for his guests smell like lavender. It's a little prissy for Brian's taste, but I like it. I think I'll ask Harry if I can bring some back for my mom.
Then, suddenly, the tub starts to rock. Actually, it's the water in a turmoil, heaving and spilling over because Brian is climbing into the bathtub with me.
"Fuck it," he says.
"Brian! You'll ruin your tape! And your wrist wrap!"
"Then I'll have to get new ones, because I'm getting in here! Now!" And he eases himself down, facing me in the tub. The look on his face is blissful. "Jesus! That really feels good!"
I have to smile. "Feeling better, huh?"
He pulls off the soggy wrapping from his wrist and tosses it away. Just his cowrie shell bracelet is left, clinging to his wrist, just the way it should be.
"I kept telling those idiots at the hospital that a nice shower would be better medicine for me than a whole packet of their stupid drugs," Brian insists. "But they wouldn't listen. And a bath isn't too bad. It's probably the best thing for all these aches I've still got." His legs are too long to fit all the way into the tub, so they poke out of the bubbles. He sniffs the suds. "Even if I will smell like someone's fucking grandmother. What is this stuff, anyway?"
"English Lavender," I say. And Brian rolls his eyes.
Just then the door of the bedroom opens and, right on cue, in comes Travers, the butler, with his pile of clean towels. I knew I should have locked that door when I came in.
"Fresh towels, sirs," he says. "And I'll stoke up the fire a bit to warm the room. Would you like anything else?"
I see the look on Brian's face and for a moment I think he's going to say, "Sure, bring me a condom and a new tube of lube," but he doesn't, thank God! "Nothing else, Travers. Thanks for the towels," Brian says instead.
"Very good, sir," he replies, and goes in to poke at the fireplace.
"Brian," I add, keeping my voice low. "You should have told him to change the sheets while he was at it."
"Butlers don't change sheets. That's the chambermaid's job. Besides, we're just going to mess them up again in a few minutes. Aren't we?"
"Oh, yeah?" I say. "Well, that guy is ALWAYS walking in here while we're... doing something! Last summer, we were in bed -- fucking. And now, we're in the bathtub! It's embarrassing!"
But Brian doesn't even blink. "We aren't doing a thing. Except taking a bath. What's wrong with that? Americans are very sanitary people, Justin. Even the Brits know that. They make jokes about it."
A few minutes later the bedroom door opens and closes as Travers leaves.
"Come over on this side," Brian says, pulling me between his legs, with my back against his chest. Then he turns on the faucet to put in more hot water. "Good thing these silly faucets are on the side of these old tubs. They get in the way when they're at the ends."
"In the way of what, Brian?" As if I didn't know.
"Of YOU washing me," he says. "And me fucking you. So get to it."
"But what about...." I begin, but Brian reaches way over to where he's stashed the condom packets and the lube on a little stool, under some magazines. He really must plan these things ahead!
I can tell he's still very achy, but we manage to play around quite a bit in the water, mainly with me soaping up things and then rubbing them clean. Very clean. But then I begin to feel cold. And wrinkly. Brian is feeling it, too, I can tell. The tub really isn't at all like the shower in the loft -- it isn't very conducive to fucking, but I do manage to ease myself onto Brian's cock. Very slowly, because the bottom of the tub is slippery and Brian can't hold me up too well with his bad wrist and sore ribs. So, I grip the sides of the tub and hold myself steady. I can feel the bubbles squishing around inside my ass and it gets me excited. I'm able to come right away, but Brian takes much longer. I can tell it's difficult for him -- and that's a new experience for both of us.
Finally, I climb out and then help Brian out. I can see he's hurting, but he won't admit it. The tape on his side is all wet and I pull the rest of it off. He winces. The skin underneath is mottled with bruises. I really want to cry when I see it, but I don't. I can't or I'm afraid I'll lose it totally. So, I simply dry him off, very matter of factly. That's the only way he can even deal with anyone helping him.
Then I march him back over to the bed and gently assist him in. Then I go over and LOCK the bedroom door. No more unexpected visitors!
But by the time I get back to the bed, Brian is out like a light. He's sound asleep -- again! I guess the bath was a little too relaxing. Or else Brian is still exhausted from everything he's been through. Whatever the case, I get into the bed, too. I move close to him, laying my hand on his hip. Instinctively, he reaches around his arm around my waist and pulls me against him. I can hear him sigh, but I know he's in a deep, deep sleep.
The room is warm from the fire and we have absolutely nothing to do until dinner time. I'll call my mother after we eat. Maybe have a long talk with her about a few things. A talk that we are way overdue for. And then Brian and I will pack to go home. So, I might as well just spend the rest of the day in bed with Brian. He'll probably wake up in an hour or so and we can proceed from there. Or I'll wake HIM up. We can then make love again or we can just lie in bed and do nothing. It doesn't really matter.
Because when I think about it, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing just now. Just being. And being here. Together.
Continue on to "Something So Strong -- Part 2", the next "Queer Theories" section.
©Gaedhal, February 2003.
Updated February 20, 2003.