VALENTINE'S DAY

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 11 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Sugar Daddy", the previous chapter.

Narrated by Michael Novotny, Ted Schmidt, Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor.
Rated PG and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: The holiday from four perspectives. Takes place on Valentine's Day, 2002, after "Looking for This My Whole Life".
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'm glad I took Ben to dinner.

Yes, it's sappy, but I'm a sappy guy at heart. I admit it.

Maybe it's the Italian in me. Sentimental. All that romantic music. I think the Italians pretty much invented romance, didn't they? I mean, Venice and gondolas and Romeo and Juliet? So, I'm really allowed. In fact, it's a requirement.

It's something that feels good to me, even when it's a little embarrassing. I was always afraid to be overly emotional when I was a kid. To let my feelings, which were on the surface enough, God knows, show through. I thought it was sissy. It meant you were marked in some way.

Real men don't cry at movies.

Unless John Wayne dies. Then it's okay.

We won't even talk about 'Bambi' and 'Dumbo.'

My mom had to take me out of the theater during 'The Fox and the Hound' because I was crying so hard.

And 'E.T.'

And 'Tootsie.' I knew that something was wrong after that one.

Now I don't give a shit.

Life is too short to pretend you aren't feeling what you're feeling. I spent too many years on that treadmill.

So, I wanted Ben to know. And I think he was pleased.

I'm not a fancy guy with fancy tastes, but Ben doesn't seem to care. I don't have to 'keep up' the way I felt I had to with David. I don't have to turn myself into someone I don't recognize.

And I also don't have to put up with shit from certain people just because they are my 'friends' and think I should overlook their faults so that they can broadcast other people's faults freely.

I don't see it that way.

I still love Ted. I just don't like him very much right now. And I still love Emmett, period. But I can't listen to his rationalizations, either.

And I still love Brian, no matter what. I can't change that. I wouldn't, even if I could. It's something that no one else can understand, because they weren't there. They didn't live through it. So they can't know.

And Ben -- he's cool with it. He makes his living trying to see through stuff and find the meanings underneath.

I hope he doesn't have to try very hard to see through me.

***

I've always been one of those people who hated 'holidays' like Valentine's Day. Created by greeting card companies, basically, to sell stupid products to desperate people.

And I only desperately wish that I had someone to buy their stupid products for.

Especially this year when I feel like I've never been more outwardly successful -- or more inwardly miserable.

A year ago, I was with Blake. I remember buying that bouquet for him after coming back from the 'funeral from Hell' at the Kinney residence. God, what a nightmare! And Emmett was so fucking judgmental about Blake. And so fucking right about him. I guess that's the worst: when people are right about things. Things you so desperately want them to be wrong about.

And the most horrible thing of all is that I really, truly believe that Blake had feelings for me. That he wasn't just playing me, using me, sponging off me. Emmett didn't see him when he was just at home, watching television with me, or cooking something -- nothing fancy, just plain, real food -- or getting so excited over going to his new job, he was like a kid. Or making love with me. Emmett and the others didn't see that. Wouldn't see that part of him. The part that just wanted to belong somewhere -- who wanted to belong to my life. At least, I believed he did.

And that's the part that hurts the most. The not knowing. Not knowing if he was sincere. Not knowing why he left. Not knowing where he is. It's the empty places that can break your heart more than the ones filled with known anguish. And I've searched those empty places more times than I care to imagine in the last year or so. It doesn't get any easier.

And then there's Michael, who I have considered one of my best friends for years. Even more than a best friend, at least in my own mind. He isn't speaking to me. And it looks like that situation is likely to continue for some time.

Thank God for Emmett. But I can tell even he is beginning to feel uneasy at being in the middle of this 'feud' -- if that's what you want to call it -- between Michael and me.

Now, Michael's moved out of his and Emmett's apartment and into the loft -- or as I call it, 'the penthouse of doom.' Emmett is not happy with Michael, but he isn't too happy with me, either.

Okay, so I have a big mouth! So, everyone knows that! A lot of people around here have big mouths. Emmett, for one, so he shouldn't point the finger. And Michael can mouth off plenty, let me tell you.

And that kid, Justin -- he plays the sweet little twink, yes. But he's got a mouth on him, too. And a temper. Don't I know it! I'm still feeling the effects in my ribs and on my rear end. That kid sucker punched me like I've never been punched before. I mean, what a humiliation to add to all the others: Ted Schmidt, beaten up by a teenaged boy with a damaged hand! Could anything be more depressing?

And who is to blame for all of this? The master of these revels? The founder of this feast? The evil genius behind all of the ills that plague us? Yes, the diabolic, the depraved, the malevolent -- and the also the not here to blame it all on -- Brian Kinney.

How he would so enjoy all this uproar in his name.

He's probably basking in some sun-drenched orgy about now. Hanging out with the Beautiful People, of which he thinks he's the most beautiful. Why does the shadow of Brian Kinney constantly hang over my head, even when he's no longer in the picture? Why is he my bête noire?

Because he's everything that I wish I could be, but don't have the looks, or the balls, or the arrogance to even try to pull it off? How disheartening is that? He's my anti-hero, my subversive role model, my demonic alter-ego. My God, how I despise and venerate him at the same time! And how fucked up is THAT?

Sometimes I would watch the way he played Michael. Casting him off and reeling him in, like a master angler. And you never saw a fish so happy to be played! And that Justin is the same way! It's maddening. Of course, I was never in love with Justin, so the twists and turns of that little alliance was never anything more than an amusing spectacle to watch.

But Michael was a different story. That night of his 30th birthday party -- my emotions were never on such a roller coaster -- until Blake, of course. And then, along comes Kinney -- honing right into my psyche like a laser, laying it all on the line. And ten minutes later, exploding poor Michael as easily as he popped that big balloon he was playing with. You have to wonder what drives someone like that? I have to wonder. I have to know....

I hope he's enjoying himself out there. And all the world is his big fucking Valentine. It would be, wouldn't it?

***

One fucking year in the ground. My old man. It doesn't seem possible.

What's that thing about a year and a day and the dead can speak? Well, he better not come around here tomorrow and try to say anything to me, because I'll show him the door and slam it behind him so hard he'll bounce all the way back to Hell.

Ghosts? Who could possibly be afraid of ghosts when you've seen the live things that I've seen? A ghost would be a fucking relief!

So what if I'm drunk again? Who cares? Isn't this a fucking time to celebrate? Love! Oh, my. Let me get out my hearts and flowers.

Who invented this shit? Who sells it to people? Fluffy sentiments for fluffy minds?

Oh, wait a minute. That would be me. I'm the one who spent my days planning out ways to sell stupid people on stupid concepts, stupid products, stupid services. Things they didn't need, didn't want, and couldn't afford. But here it is anyway, folks! Wrapped up in a red bow and a red ribbon, covered with sentimentality and all the mawkish emotion you can muster without puking. Shovel it up! And they give me an award for all that shoveling.

Well, no more. I'm out of the bullshit business. Let Ryder assign Bob and Brad and Beau and Brent and all those guys who are wrangling to take my place the task of making the public think that they want what they don't want, feel what they don't feel.

Because I'm finished. I'm fucked. I'm really, really wasted.

What a fucking surprise.

Now I can do what I do best. Being fabulous. Isn't that obvious? Isn't that the be all and end all?

I think I don't feel so well.

Hey, Pop? I bet they have some good shit down where you are. Since all the drunks are down there, they better. You wouldn't want to have to deal with all the complaints. Why the Kinneys alone would have them scrambling to meet the demand.

What's to wonder about? Another drunk in a long, long line of drunks. Another bastard in a long, long line of bastards. A fine old family heritage. And who am I to break with tradition? Not me! I am an upholder of all those fine values? Right? Right?

So, here's a toast to -- what is it again? Valentine's Day! Right! Love and all that shit. I get it.

It's like a language I never learned, you know? How can you understand it, if you can't make out the meaning? You can't translate it because you don't have the key.

How can you say it, if you never heard it said?

Thanks, Pop! Thanks a bunch. I'll always appreciate it -- from you to me. With love.

***

When I was a kid -- Ha! Like I'm not still a kid now, although God knows I pretend not to be! -- my parents were always big on the established holidays with all the trimmings. Christmas. Thanksgiving. Easter. Fourth of July. Halloween. Valentine's Day. All the official emotions with all the official trappings.

My dad, especially, always went all out. The grand gesture. The biggest turkey. The biggest tree. The biggest assortment of candy to give out. The greatest toys for me and then my sister on Christmas and our birthdays. Bikes and games and footballs when I was smaller, then computer stuff and CDs and books and art supplies when I got older and could let them know what I wanted. There was never a lack of 'stuff' at our house, always top of the line.

And, always, the biggest Valentine's Day card for my mom, with all the candy and the huge bouquet of red roses and everything that goes with it.

That's the way I always thought it should be done.

That's the way I always wanted it done for me.

But some people don't do that sort of thing... Didn't -- it's hard to use past tense and suppose it's for real, it's forever -- do that kind of thing. Didn't believe in it. In the emotion. In the sentimentality, I guess. And that's hard to accept when you grow up thinking that what's on display is what is important. Is what makes it a real thing.

Is the proof of somebody's love.

But my parents' love, for all the flowers and candy and big, fancy cards, didn't last. It turned to a kind of hate. And there's no holiday for that. No card. No box of chocolate that proclaims: I'll Hate You Forever.

No little token that you can give your son when you decide that you never want to see him again. That's the card that Hallmark hasn't come up with yet.

So what did it all mean, in the long run?

A bunch of stuff, lying in the trash when a family leaves their house, never to be a family again?

A bunch of cards, tied with a red ribbon, tossed out? All the gushy words have been taken back, like you never meant them at all. Ever.

And all that proof that you wanted all along. That was there all the time, but you were too dense to realize it. Too stubborn to just accept what was a real gift, something rare because it couldn't be put in a box or contained in a cheap card that anyone could buy who had a dollar and a half.

This was something that wasn't for sale.

But you couldn't believe it unless you could hold it in your hand. Wave it in someone's face. Exhibit it to the world.

Just having it for yourself wasn't enough.

So, you don't really deserve much more than this -- this silence.

This card that can never, ever say what you really feel.

This word that now you'll never hear.

This phone that's never going to ring again.

And that's what it all means. From the heart.

Continue on to "Shoot the Moon" , the next chapter.

©Gaedhal, May 2002

Picture of Hal Sparks and Randy Harrison from Showtime.

Updated May 13, 2002