This is Part 2
The other sections in "The Angel Stream".
Pittsburgh, Christmas Day 2004
"Michael," said Ben. "Are you coming inside? Or are you going to stand out here in the cold like an ass while everyone else is having dessert?"
"I'm not standing outside like an ass!" Michael insisted. He crossed his arms over his chest defiantly. He was fucking freezing, but he wasn't about to give Ben the satisfaction of knowing he was cold. "It's stuffy in the living room. I'm getting some fresh air."
"Yes, fresh air," said Ben. "That's why you're shivering and I can see the air that you're breathing." Ben huffed out a large white cloud of vapor in demonstration.
Michael sniffed. "Go back inside, Ben. I'll be there in a minute."
Ben put his large hands on Michael's shoulders and squeezed. "Michael, I know this is about Brian and that new guy, but you have to get over it. You're making yourself look foolish." Ben paused. "And you're making me very unhappy."
"It has nothing to do with you, Ben!" Michael insisted. "It's just that... that this whole thing with Brian and that kid has thrown me off balance!"
Ben took a deep breath. "Michael, listen to me. We have a marriage. I know it isn't legal in this state, but it's still a real marriage. At least it is to me. And we have a son. We have a life. That means something to me. And I thought it meant something to you, too."
"It does, Ben!" Michael cried. "It means everything to me!"
"Then stop acting like a pouting, jilted lover just because Brian brought a boyfriend over for Deb's Christmas dinner!" Ben was trying not to shout, but he was sick of this. He was sick of Michael acting like he could have it both ways. A stable marriage and family with Ben and a fantasy romance with Brian. Because that's all it was and all Michael and Brian had ever been -- a fantasy that existed in Michael's imagination and nowhere else.
"That guy isn't Brian's boyfriend!" Michael snapped. "Brian doesn't do boyfriends! He's never had a boyfriend!"
Ben stepped back. He knew that Michael's last serious relationship, with a doctor who now lived in Oregon, had broken up partly because Michael couldn't let go of his feelings for his oldest friend. Ben had always tolerated Michael's meddling in Brian's life because he was certain that Michael really loved him and that Brian was only an adolescent crush that had never died. But now, seeing Michael boiling with jealousy over the young blond Brian seemed to be besotted with, Ben wasn't so sure.
"I don't know what Justin is to Brian, Michael," said Ben. "But whatever he is, it has nothing to do with you. Unless you push it." Ben pressed his lips together tightly. "And then it's not about them anymore. It's about us."
Ben went back into Debbie's house and sat down next to Carl. The entire gang was sitting in the living room eating cannolis and vanilla ice cream.
Brian and Justin were on the purple sofa and Justin was trying to spoon ice cream into Brian's mouth. "You're too skinny! Have another bite!" Justin insisted. "Only one more!"
"No!" Brian laughed. "I'll have to spend an extra 45 minutes on the Stairmaster if I eat that!"
"I can think of other ways to work it off!" said Justin, slyly. And he slid the spoon between Brian's lips.
Ted poked Emmett with his finger and they both raised their eyebrows. They had seen Brian Kinney angry, mocking, sullen, high, drunk, and in fully rampant sexual flight, but they had never seen Brian Kinney playfully bantering with... with whatever Justin was. A boyfriend? Perhaps. Justin looked like a boyfriend, and talked like a boyfriend, and spooned ice cream into Brian's mouth like a boyfriend, but who knew what that really meant in Brian Kinney Land?
"More ice cream, boys?" asked Debbie, coming in from the kitchen with the carton. She couldn't stop smiling at the two of them. They were so fucking cute!
"Don't give him any more, Deb!" Brian groaned. "He's heavy enough." The kid was practically sitting in Brian's lap, but Brian didn't seem to mind. In fact, the two of them were all over each other.
You could have knocked Deb over with a feather when Brian sauntered in with his arm around this blond-haired kid. Michael had already regaled them all with the story of walking in on Brian doing what Brian does -- fucking a trick. How Michael had told the young, blond trick to get lost and then ordered Brian to be at the house at 6:00 sharp for dinner -- or else!
Then, at five minutes to 6:00, they walked in together. Brian and his friend, Justin. The blond trick. Only he definitely wasn't a trick. Brian wouldn't bring a trick to dinner with the family. Or over to see Gus, which was where they had been earlier. And then to the not-a-trick's house to drop off his mother's car and to have a tearful confrontation with her in the driveway while his father was inside watching 'A Christmas Story,' completely oblivious to the drama playing outside. Justin had told them all about it in the first five minutes he was in the room, before he had even taken off his coat. The words poured out of him like a torrent and then Justin stopped and grinned at Debbie while Brian put his arms around him, possessively.
"You are such a ray of sunshine on this cold day, honey!" Deb cried. And then she hugged both boys to her more than ample bosom.
That's when Michael blew a fucking gasket! He bitched and queened out all through dinner until he finally stormed outside to 'get some air.' Debbie rolled her eyes thinking about it. Well, Michael would have to get over himself. It was high time Michael and Brian grew up -- both of them!
"What do you... um... do, honey?" Emmett asked Justin. He couldn't get over Brian and this new guy! Justin had dropped the spoon and he and Brian were trading spit like there was no tomorrow.
Justin looked up. "Me? I'm a senior at Dartmouth."
"Dartmouth, huh?" said Carl, finishing another cannoli. "That's a good school. What are you studying?"
"Business," said Justin. But he made a face when he said it. Dartmouth felt like a whole world away and Justin had changed since he'd been in that world. He could feel the change in himself so strongly. "But I'd like to work in something related to art. Maybe manage a gallery. Something like that."
"You should talk to Lindsay about that," said Brian. "She works in an art gallery downtown. She also teaches drawing classes at the Gay and Lesbian Center. The Center is bullshit, of course, but you might want to look into it."
"I'd like that," said Justin. "The Business stuff was all my dad's idea. He's into doing practical things that make a lot of money, but...." Justin paused and looked around the room. He didn't know any of these people, Brian's friends, but he felt comfortable with them. All except Michael, of course, who seemed to have taken a dislike to him. But Michael's mother had made him feel welcome and they were all really nice to him. They were all very curious about him and Brian, but nice about it, too. All the men, except for Debbie's husband, seemed to be gay and they didn't think Justin was some kind of freak, the way his parents' friends would. "Business isn't what makes me happy. I've always wanted to be an artist."
"Then that's what you should do," said Brian, quietly. "Don't waste your life doing what other people expect you to do or acting the way other people expect you to act. That makes for a miserable fucking life." Justin felt Brian's arms tense. "Don't make that mistake, Justin."
"I only have two more terms left and then I'll graduate," said Justin. "Then I'll be free. At least, I'll be able to live my own life. Or I hope I will."
"That's the spirit, Sunshine!" Debbie cackled. "If you want to know about living your own life on your own terms, just ask Brian. He's the master of doing his own thing!"
"Yeah," Brian sighed. "Doing my own thing." He stirred and then stood up. "I'll be right back. I need a smoke."
Brian walked out the back door. Michael was still standing there, leaning against the doorframe and shivering violently.
"Christ, Michael, you're a stubborn fuck. You'll catch pneumonia out here!" Brian took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one. "I'd offer you a smoke, but I know the Professor doesn't approve of his wife smelling like an ashtray."
"What are you doing, Brian?" Michael asked. "With that kid?"
"I don't know, Mikey," Brian replied. "But give me a chance to figure it out, will you? Everyone is always telling me to grow up and settle down and stop acting like I'm still 25. Maybe it's time I started doing that."
"With that fucking kid?" Michael said, his voice rising. "You hardly know him!"
"I know." Brian blew out a stream of smoke. "But I want to know him. Maybe I'll fuck it up. I probably will. I don't have a fucking clue how to... to be with someone. I've spend most of my life trying not to feel anything for people. But I can't keep on the way I'm going. I was almost ready to kill myself last night, Michael. And I'm not kidding."
Michael turned and stared at Brian. This had always been his greatest fear. That Brian would suddenly reach a dead-end and decide that life was no longer worth the effort. And that there would be no one who cared enough to stop him.
"That's why I came over this morning!" said Michael. "I was so fucking worried about you, Brian! And you blew me off. Because all you were thinking about was your dick -- as usual!"
Brian took the cigarette out of his mouth and looked at it. Turned it around in his hand and then tossed it into the snow.
"Something happened to me last night, Michael. I don't know what it was exactly. I wasn't drunk or stoned enough to be imagining it. But something happened. Something connected with Justin. I... I saw him and he saw me and then... I can't explain it. I know it sounds stupid, especially coming from me, who doesn't believe in any kind of mumbo-jumbo or romantic horseshit, but I feel different. Like I have to catch up with something I've been chasing without knowing it. Something I've been missing for most of my life." Brian turned and looked into Michael's huge, sad eyes. "Don't stand in the way, Michael. Please don't. Be my friend, yes, but let me do this. I know it won't last. Nothing in my life ever lasts. But let me have it for as long as it's here."
Michael put his arms around Brian and felt the tears flowing down his cheeks as he held onto him. He'd loved Brian since he was 14 years old, but he always knew that Brian didn't feel the same way about him. Still, it was hard to let go. Especially hard to stand back and let some kid, some stranger, stand next to Brian and kiss him and go home with him. Love him. And maybe more. That was hard. Almost too hard.
"Brian? Michael? Are you guys out here?" Justin pushed open the back door and came out to stand beside them. "Michael, Hunter was asking if you guys were going over to Woody's for the Christmas Party tonight? Ben said that Hunter could go, too, as long you didn't stay too late."
Michael wiped his eyes. It was getting colder and the tears were starting to freeze on his eyelashes. "I better go inside."
Brian and Justin watched Michael leave and then they stood for a few more minutes.
"You want to go to that party, too?" asked Brian. "I'm sure Emmett and Theodore are going as well. They're having Christmas Carol Karaoke and Emmett never misses a chance to embarrass himself with his off-key singing in front of every guy on Liberty Avenue."
"Not really," said Justin. "But whatever you want to do is fine with me, Brian."
A few snowflakes started to fall. One landed on Justin's nose and Brian brushed it off. "Good," Brian said. "Let's go home."
It was quiet in the loft.
Brian had put a CD on the system, but it had ended a while ago and since then the only sounds had been of bodies touching, mouths meeting, and the big mattress creaking.
The neon light over the bed threw a blue incandescence over the two men as Brian sat on the edge of the bed and Justin rode his cock. Justin bounced up and down, his arms and legs wrapped around Brian. It was chilly in the loft, but they were both sweating with the exertion of the act.
"Brian," Justin whispered. "I want to come with you on top of me."
"Okay." Brian turned Justin carefully, trying not to disengage his cock from Justin's clenched ass.
Justin lay back on the bed and lifted his legs up as Brian repositioned himself inside him. This is the way he loved to fuck. With Brian's face against his. With Brian covering him. Owning him. Occupying him like a conquering army.
They had only been together for twenty-four hours, but it seemed like years. That was the funniest thing. Justin couldn't understand how you could know another person's body so completely in that short a time. How you could feel that body was the same as your own. How you could know when to move, when to retreat, when be hard, and when to be gentle. But Justin knew. They both knew. And neither of them could get enough.
Justin pressed his lips against Brian's shoulder and sucked on his salty skin. This would end soon. Justin knew that it would. It had to. Justin would go back to Dartmouth and that would be that. Justin had been listening to the guys talking at Deb's dinner. About how Brian fucked a million guys and had a different trick every night. Once Justin was out of his sight, Brian would forget about him. After all, he had his pick of all the hot guys in town.
Don't come yet, Brian said to himself. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Don't let this end.
But he had to come now. He felt the tightness in his groin and then the release. He gasped and pushed against Justin. Murmured stupid things as he came. Things that didn't make any sense at all. Or things that made all the sense in the world. He wasn't sure if Justin could even understand what he was saying.
Then he collapsed on top of Justin. They held each other in the cold silence.
"Brian? Can I ask you something?" Justin said as he watched Brian pull out slowly and then discard the bedraggled condom in a tissue.
"What?" Brian sighed. Justin liked to talk after sex. Actually, he liked to talk all the time. Justin liked to talk and Brian liked to listen.
"Who was the man they were talking about at Debbie's? The one who died?"
"You mean Vic? He was Michael's uncle and Deb's brother. He died almost a year ago," said Brian.
"From AIDS? Is that what killed him?" Justin thought about all the condoms they had ripped open in the time they'd spent in the loft. Of all the condoms Brian must have ripped open in his life. And how many Justin would also use now that he was really a gay man.
Brian winced. "Sort of. It was a side-effect of his meds. But Vic was doing very well up until then, especially considering that a few years ago he was on his fucking deathbed." Brian sat up and reached for his cigarettes. "Why do you ask about Vic?"
"I was curious," said Justin. "Debbie was talking about how much Vic loved Christmas and about a Christmas party she had for him and how weird it seemed that he wasn't there."
Justin swallowed. He didn't know anyone who had AIDS, let alone anyone who had died of it. But now he was part of the gay world. He'd been very aware of Brian putting a condom on the first time they'd made love, and then showing Justin how to put it on him and warning him never, ever to fuck without one. Because of AIDS. That was the reason for the condom. To be safe. That would be his reality for the rest of his sexual life.
And Vic had died of it. Justin had never known Vic, but he felt sad for him. "Did you know Vic very well, Brian?"
Brian shrugged. "As long as I've known Michael and Deb. Since I was about 13 or 14. Vic didn't live with Debbie until he got sick, but he was always visiting. He was the first gay man I really knew. He was a real hot guy when he was young. And Vic made the most of it."
Just like I have, thought Brian. Except that I dodged the bullet. Somehow. Against the odds, probably. Until....
"Justin, I wanted to ask you something, too. Have you been, well, wondering about my scar?" Brian said.
Justin looked into Brian's face, searching. "Your scar? What do you mean?"
"My scar." Brian hated to be blunt, but he wanted to know if it bothered Justin. If Justin thought less of him because Brian was less than perfect. Because he'd been sick and might someday get sick again. Like Vic had been. Vic was often in Brian's mind and in Brian's dreams. Brian lifted the dark blue sheet and touched the scar on the left side of his groin. "This."
"Oh," said Justin. "I thought it was an appendix scar or something. I didn't really think about it. It's hardly noticeable, Brian."
"Bullshit!" Brian huffed. "How could anyone miss it?"
Justin frowned. Why was Brian bringing this up? Because he had mentioned Vic, the guy who had died?
"I'm not lying to you, Brian. You can barely see the thing!" Justin touched Brian's hand. Something else was going on in Brian's head. "What's wrong? This isn't about that scar. What's it really about?"
Brian looked away and Justin felt a shudder go through him. Maybe he shouldn't have mentioned Vic. Maybe Brian was also.... But he couldn't be! Brian would have mentioned it! He wouldn't have fucked Justin without telling him that extremely important truth.
Brian turned to look at Justin. He was bathed in blue, like an unearthly creature. Maybe Justin wasn't real after all. Maybe this was all a dream. Maybe Brian wasn't alive after all and Justin was part of that existence beyond life.
"I had testicular cancer. I was diagnosed last winter, right after Vic died. I was sure I was going to die, too. Why should I live when Vic was dead? Everyone loved Vic. He had a boyfriend and he loved life. He'd already been through so much and he was getting better. And then there was me, who didn't know what the fuck love was and who didn't give a shit about anyone but myself. It didn't seem right."
"Brian, people love you," Justin said softly. "All those people at Deb's tonight. And I know you love them. I can tell."
"No, not like people loved Vic," Brian insisted. "I know I've been a shit all of my life. And I've been afraid of pain and disease and getting old and not being perfect. The doctor told me that I'd have to lose my ball, so I thought about killing myself rather than have the operation and undergo the treatment. That wasn't the first time I'd thought about suicide, either. But I couldn't do it. I was too much of a fucking coward. So I had my ball removed." Brian showed Justin his left testicle. "There's a prosthetic ball in there. It's plastic, but it feels like a fucking rock. I guess you can't see the difference, but I can feel it every minute."
Justin stared at Brian's balls. He'd touched them, fondled them, even licked them many times in the past 24 hours and never imagined that there was anything odd about them. He cradled them in his hand. "They look fine to me, Brian. They look perfect to me. They ARE perfect." And then Justin kissed the left one and he also kissed the faint scar on Brian's groin.
"I've been sick, Justin," said Brian, watching him gently touch his damaged body. "I want you to know that. I'm not the same as I was. I... I couldn't even get it up for a long time after the biopsy and then my radiation treatments. I'm not what you think I am, Justin. I used to be the hottest fucking guy in this lousy burg, but I'm not anymore. And I could get... get it again someday. My old man died of cancer a few years back. Then Vic died. Sometimes I feel like I'm next. That I'm doomed."
"No, Brian!" Justin asserted. "You're great! You're exactly the way I imagined you. I don't give a fuck about some little scar or a plastic ball. I love you!"
Brian smiled sadly. "You do? How do you know you love me? Because I rimmed you and sucked you and fucked your brains out?"
"No! Because I know, that's all," Justin said. "I knew you were the one the second I saw you on Liberty Avenue. And then you walked right past me. But I couldn't let you go. So I called out to you. And you stopped. You came back."
Brian felt a chill and he pulled the duvet up around the two of them. "You said, 'Don't do it.' What did you mean by that?"
"I don't know," admitted Justin. "The words came out and you stopped. That's all that matters."
"I was so fucking depressed when I left Babylon," said Brian. "I was having some of those... those gloomy thoughts. About being sick and about ending it all. That self-pitying bullshit. Seeing you standing under that streetlight, looking so fucking young and beautiful, made me feel worse. It made me see how truly pathetic I am. I still don't know why I took you home. You aren't at all my type, you know. I'm not into twinks," Brian snorted.
"Well, you are now," Justin replied matter-of-factly. "I was supposed to be standing there, Brian, under that light. I know I was. I was supposed to see you and you were supposed to take me home. And you were just like I'd imagined you. That's how I knew it would be all right."
"You keep saying that you knew who I was," said Brian. "Did you have dream or a vision or something? About me? That I was your fucking knight in shining armor? Because I'm not, Justin. I'm far from being anyone's ideal."
"It was something like that." Justin closed his eyes. "Many dreams. But I'd always wake up before we made love. So when we finally did make love, I knew it wasn't a dream anymore. It was real. And you are my ideal, Brian. You may not believe it, but it's the truth. Plastic ball and all!"
"You're such a fucking romantic," Brian sighed. "I don't know if I can live up to all of those kinds of expectations. What I seem to do best is to live down to people's expectations of me. So I'm afraid you're in for a big, fat, fucking disappointment, Justin."
"I don't think so, Brian." Justin leaned over and kissed the side of his face. "You're the one who is afraid of being a disappointment. I thought you were the Stud of Liberty Avenue? You don't seem to lack any self-confidence when we're fucking. Then you seem to know exactly what to do!"
"I can fuck with my eyes closed! And I've had plenty of practice since I was 16 years old!" Brian smiled. "But I don't know how to do all that other stuff. Being a fucking boyfriend and bringing flowers and all that crap. I've never known how to do it. It's such bullshit, isn't it?"
"That's not what love is all about, Brian, and you know it," said Justin. "There aren't any rules. I'm not the Prom Queen and you aren't the Big Man on Campus or whatever they show as 'True Love' in the movies. I only know what I feel. And what I think you feel." Justin took a deep breath. "That is -- if you really meant what you said just now. When you were coming. When you said, 'I love you.'"
Brian shook his head. "Guys say a lot of goofy things when they're shooting inside a prime piece of ass."
"Is that all I am, Brian? A prime piece of ass?" Justin asked seriously. "Because if that's all it is, then I'll be glad for that and I won't expect anything more from you than a great fuck. But I don't think that's all it is. I can't believe that you say 'I love you' to all of your tricks, no matter how prime their asses might be!"
"No," Brian whispered. "I don't say it to tricks. And you know you're more than a prime piece of ass, Justin -- although you certainly are that, too. But I don't know what I feel yet. I only know that I feel something. I don't want to ignore that feeling because I might never get another chance to feel it. But I need to work on it. I'm not used to all this fucking talking. I'm more into action."
"I don't mind you practicing on me, Brian. Feelings or action or whatever you want to try. I'm a willing pupil."
"Thank God for that," said Brian. His dick was getting hard again.
Justin stared up at the rafters above the bed. The glowing neons and the recessed lights that were scattered around the loft cast weird shadows all over the walls and the ceiling. "That shadow looks like an angel. See, Brian? You can see the wings."
"I don't know anything about angels." He buried his face against Justin's neck. One thing he definitely felt was that he was alive. Absolutely alive. "You'll have to teach me, Justin. You're the only one who can do it."
"I will, Brian," Justin breathed. "It'll be my pleasure. Always."
Continue on to "In the Bleak Midwinter -- Part 1".
©Gaedhal, December 2004.
Posted June 8, 2005.