VANITY FAIR II

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 50 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Father's Day", the previous chapter.

The narrator is Lindsay Peterson, and features Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, Carmel and Maria, Gus, Ron Rosenblum, Eugene, Ellen Tasko, Others.
Rated PG for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Lindsay and Justin go on a photo shoot with Brian. June 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 had a wonderful night's sleep after the brunch and swimming and sleeping with the balcony door open and all the cool night air. Gus woke me up early and I took him down to the kitchen. Carmel and Maria were already up and making breakfast. The minute she saw Gus, Carmel made a bee-line and claimed him from me.

"I will have his cereal ready soon. You sit here, Miss Lindsay. Or do you want your breakfast by the pool?"

"Ooh -- that sounds lovely."

"Coffee? Some toast? Or bagels, maybe? You like the cornflakes with fruit? Or you want something hot?"

"No, Carmel -- cornflakes sound fine. And fruit. Fresh fruit. Coffee, with cream and sugar?"

"I'll bring it out to you."

As I was walking out to the pool I ran into Ron. I imagine he has to be in his office early on a Monday morning doing movie things. He looked tired and not very pleased.

"Morning," he mumbled, and went right by me. Not a very happy host.

I sat in one of the pool chairs and pulled a little cast iron table up next to me. Yes, I thought, I could all too easily get used to this kind of life. The lady of the manor. My maids bringing me my coffee. Feeding Gus, changing him, dressing him -- and then bringing him out for me to play with all sweet-smelling and gurgling. Then spending all day in my lovely, sunlit studio, painting. I looked at the poolhouse and imagined how it might be remade. The morning light would come through the trees and right down on top of the cottage. Some large glass panels set into the roof would flood the inside with light. Yes, that might be perfect.

My little reverie was interrupted by Ron.

"Sorry, but I have to leave for the studio." He looked so dejected I had to melt a bit.

"Oh, Ron. Don't apologize. I know you have to work. I just hope that we aren't intruding too much."

"No, not at all. You're very welcome. I'm glad that you are here, in fact."

To my surprise, he pulled up another chair and sat down next to me. I felt so awkward. I wasn't sure exactly what to say to Ron. I didn't really want to like him, but I was beginning to feel so sorry for him. He had the desperate air of a man watching his house being picked up by a flood and carried down a rushing river out to sea. I understood the feeling, having been there myself.

"You've known Brian a long time."

It wasn't a question, but a statement. They had obviously talked about me, about Gus, but I had no idea about what or how much.

"Yes, since we were in college."

"He must have been very different then."

"Well -- not so different. Brian is Brian. He was younger and perhaps not so... set in some of his ways then...." THAT was an understatement! "But he had the same sense of humor. The same cynical outlook. The same... sadness."

Carmel brought out my coffee, cereal, and a plate of toast on a tray and set it on the table.

"You should eat something, Mr. Ron. Get some food in your stomach!"

"No thanks, Carmel."

"You are getting to be as bad as His Highness. Miss Lindsay -- have you ever heard of men who eat NO FOOD? It is not natural!"

"It isn't good, I agree, Carmel."

She walked back to the kitchen, muttering to herself.

"How long have they worked for you?"

"Maria and Carmel? I don't know -- eight or nine years? Forever, it seems. I'm hopeless, domestically. If I didn't have them to feed me and clean up after me I'd probably just fade away and they'd find the remnants months later in a pile on the kitchen floor." He actually smiled.

"I'm sure you're not that bad."

"I am, truly. The girls sort of came with the house. They worked for the previous family that lived here. When I bought it, they were part of the deal."

"How convenient." I sipped my coffee. "Would you like some of my toast, Ron?"

He shook his head. "So, except for the girls, I've been here by myself -- until Brian."

Okay. Now we were moving into iffy territory. I didn't really want to be commiserating with Ron, empathizing with his problems, especially when I'd brought Justin out to California in order to lure Brian back to Pittsburgh where he belonged. It felt hypocritical even to be sitting here and talking to him about this. I kept looking over at the poolhouse.

"Listen, Ron. It's hard for me to discuss Brian with you. Because it's so hard even to imagine that he is..." I wasn't even certain how to say it. Even the concept of Brian in a 'relationship' with this -- stranger -- it was totally alien. "Ron -- I'm not the person to talk to. I don't know anyone who is."

"But if I can just understand a few things, I'm sure that I can make everything all right. If you would speak to him and find out...."

"Ron. Stop. Please don't ask me, because I wouldn't know what to say. There is no magic word in the universe that can easily and safely unlock the key to Brian Kinney. I don't even know if that's a place that is accessible to anyone, no matter what you do." He was trying to enlist me. Whatever the trouble he was having with Brian -- and I could envision a long list of possible troubled areas -- it was serious. More serious than I had imagined.

He turned away from me. "Well, thanks anyway." He stood up.

"I'm sure everything will work out." Why was I saying that when I so hoped that the opposite would be true? But he looked so haunted.

"Whatever," was all he said and he left me sitting by his beautiful pool at his beautiful house, enjoying a beautiful morning. But everything seemed to have a pall cast over it now.

Two minutes after he walked out, the door of the poolhouse opened and Justin peeked out.

"Is he gone? I mean, really gone?"

"He's gone, Justin. Come over and have some breakfast."

Justin took the seat that Ron had vacated. He shoved a piece of toast in his mouth. "I'm starving! But I wasn't about to come out while he was lurking out here. He gives me the creeps!"

"Don't be silly, sweetie. He's just a little abrupt. Good heavens, you are used to Brian -- no one is more abrupt than Brian is!"

"No, it's different. Ron hates me. I can tell."

"He doesn't even know you, Justin!"

"I don't care! He looks at me like -- like he's seen me and Brian together. Like he can see inside of me. It freaks me out!"

Justin truly WAS a drama princess, especially on the subject of Ron.

"Why don't you go in and Carmel and Maria will make you a nice breakfast. You'll feel better after you eat. I'm sure Brian won't be down for a while...."

But I'd only just said the words when the man himself stumbled out from the house, wearing his dark blue robe and looking like he'd gone a few rounds with Lennox Lewis. Or was that Oscar de la Renta?

"Hey," said Justin.

"Hey," he croaked back. "Morning, Lindz. Where's my son?"

"Being force-fed like one of those French geese by Carmel, probably."

"Justin -- can you get me some juice? Fresh -- if she isn't saving it all for Gus."

"Sure. Are you okay?"

"Not really." He winced.

Justin hesitated, then went into the house.

"Isn't this early for you?"

"Not when we were shooting. But this is the morning of that fucking photo thing. I'm supposed to be at the photography studio at 10:00 a.m. What time is it now?"

Brian never has a watch. I glanced at mine. "Almost 8:35."

"Fuck. Do I look as bad as I feel?"

"You look just lovely," I lied. "Are we invited to this shoot thing? Would it be interesting?"

"Only if you like to see me tortured."

"Then how can we miss it?" Actually, it sounded exciting. I knew it was for 'Vanity Fair' magazine.

He groaned. "My fucking head!"

"And you didn't even have one of those big, sweet drinks at the Hawaiian place, Bri! Whatever is the matter?"

"My fucking life!"

Justin came out with Brian's juice in his hand, followed by Carmel with another tray piled with scrambled eggs, bacon, bagels, and more cereal. Justin pulled up another chair and prepared to dig in.

"You aren't really going to eat ALL of that food?"

"Why not?" Justin was already laying it on his plate.

"Yes, why not?" said Carmel. "This boy must eat something to be strong! He can't live on those little cans of powder and some water like you do!"

"It's protein powder. It's good for me."

"A plate of bacon and eggs would be better."

"All that fucking cholesterol? You ARE trying to kill me, Carmel!"

She snorted. "It will take more than a strip of bacon to kill you, Mr. Brian! I know THAT from my experience!"

"Bite me."

She stomped back into the house. Brian drained the glass of juice.

"When did Ron leave?"

"Just before you came down."

He shook his head. "Bad fucking news. Always."

"Brian, I...."

"No questions, no lectures, no explanations. Please, Lindz."

"Okay, Brian. It's your life."

"Can you guys be ready by about 9:15? If you want to go to this photo shindig?"

"I wanna," Justin said, his mouth full of the last of the bacon. He'd vacuumed down the eggs and cereal and was also working on a half of a sesame bagel. Brian reached over and took the other half and bit into it. He chewed slowly and sighed. "Fuck it all."

He finished the bagel and stood up, stretching. He was naked under the robe and didn't bother to hide it from either me or Justin. What was the point?

"So, I'll meet you in the kitchen around 9:15 -- with the traffic we'll need at least 45 minutes to get there. Are you going to bring Gus?"

"Why not? He might enjoy the outing. He was so good yesterday."

"Okay, then." And he headed back upstairs.

Justin wiped his mouth on his napkin. "I -- I have to ask Brian a question," he said, and scampered after the Big Man.

I stopped in the kitchen and asked Carmel to have Gus ready to go. Then I climbed the stairs and knocked at Brian's bedroom. I heard a little scrambling inside and then the door finally opened. "What?!"

"Gus and I will meet you two downstairs in about 40 minutes. So -- get cracking. And don't forget to shave."

"Smart bitch. And they told me NOT to shave. They want that just-got-out-of-bed look"

"I can't think of anyone more able to give them that look than you, Bri."

"Sure." He started to close the door.

"Oh, and Brian...."

"What the fuck now?"

"You watch your ass."

"Right." He shut the door and locked it.

Poor Ron.

***

He was dressed in a faded pair of jeans, an old tee-shirt, and his work boots, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He'd barely even combed his hair, which was still wet from the shower. Justin's hair was wet, too.

"You don't look ready for 'Vanity Fair,' Brian."

"That's THEIR fucking job. I just show up."

The studio was bustling with activity. They seemed a bit taken aback by Brian 'entourage' -- but they welcomed me and Justin and brought a chair for me to sit in and hold Gus. Justin immediately began following the photographer around, asking questions. The man, who was in his late thirties and rather attractive in an Al Pacino way, didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, he was flirting with Justin.

"Are you interested in photography?"

"I don't know much about it. But I'm a student at Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Arts."

"You should take advantage and do a class in basic photography. Learn from the ground up. Get a simple, but good camera and learn how to focus, how to shoot, and how to develop your own pictures."

"Sounds hard."

"It's the only way. These new cameras that do everything take all the creativity out of it. You have to work the camera like you'd work your clay or your paint."

"Wow." Justin was getting into it.

"Do you do any modeling?"

"Me? No. I'm just here with my friend."

"Hmn." The photographer -- Eugene -- was looking Justin up and down. "Perhaps you'd like to pose for me. I could give you some proofs for your portfolio if you decided to try some modeling. You're too short for Fashion -- but you'd be about right for Juniors."

"I don't think so."

"I'm sure you've taken your turn posing for your life study classes? Nude? It's much easier in photography -- you don't have to hold the pose as long." He lifted Justin's chin with his finger and turned his head left and then right. "Not bad."

"Oh, Justin?" I called. 'Could you help me with Gus, please?"

"Sure, Lindsay. Excuse me."

And he trotted over. "Was that guy putting the moves on or what?" he said. "They sure are direct out here."

"Well, don't let Brian see that. He's liable to squash that guy like a bug. And there will go his chance to be in 'Vanity Fair.'"

A woman in very large glasses and a Chanel suit walked in. "Mr. Kinney? Is he here yet?"

"He's in there." I pointed to a curtained off area where they were holding clothes up to Brian and trying to put make-up on him. Every few minutes we could hear his curses and things being thrown around. "I think he'll be right out."

"I'm Ellen Tasko. I'll be writing the profile of Mr. Kinney. I wanted to be here to greet him, but I'm running late."

"Profile?"

"Yes -- to go with the photos."

"I thought it was just pictures."

"Well, it was -- but Jimmy Hardy convinced our editor to do a full profile. Photos. Interview. The works. Mr. Hardy promised he would give us a full treatment if we did the same for his co-star. And of course, if Jimmy Hardy wants something...."

Oh, this could be sticky. I wondered if Brian knew he would be expected to answer a bunch of questions. And here WE were, as well. I decided we might as well put the best face on things.

"And you are?"

"Lindsay. And this is Gus. And Justin."

"Are you Mrs. Kinney?" Ellen whipped a pad and a tape recorder out of her leather tote bag.

"Uh -- no. I'm Gus' mother. Gus is Brian's son."

"Oh, well. Hello, Gus. Have you two been together long? Do you live out here in California? I wasn't told about a family. In fact, when I spoke to Mr. Rosenblum, he didn't give me much personal info at all."

"So you spoke to Ron already?"

"Yes. He's the director. I wanted some background on the film. He's arranging for me to see some finished clips this week."

"Ms. Tasko...."

"Ellen."

"Ellen -- understand that Brian is a very private person. VERY. And I'm not sure he would want ANY information about me or Gus to appear in print. He's very protective of his son."

"I can understand that -- but people are interested. They want to read about their stars. And if this film is as successful as it has the potential to be -- well, the concept of privacy will have very little meaning. I'm just being frank, Ms....?"

"Just Lindsay, please."

"Okay."

At that, Brian came out from behind the curtain, His tee-shirt was off and his jeans were unbuttoned and he was barefoot. He looked pissed and dangerous. Also very sexy.

"Who the fuck is in charge of this shit?"

Eugene strode over and tried to smooth over the situation. He was apparently trying to sweet talk Brian the way he'd sweet talked Justin. But Brian just glowered at him.

Ellen, the writer, walked over and introduced herself. That didn't improve his mood.

"No fucking way!"

"But Mr. Kinney -- it's been arranged. By our editor and Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Hardy. They said you'd be happy to do it to promote the film."

"Tell them to shove their fucking magazine up their ass! I thought someone was going to get me some coffee?"

"Here, hold Gus." I handed the baby to Justin and walked over. "Brian -- not cooperating will just make you look bad. We're already here. Let's just get it over with and we can have the rest of the day to take Gus and Justin out somewhere. Maybe the beach? Hollywood? Something fun? While you are arguing with them, you could be doing it and getting it over with."

"Shit." He ran his hand through his hair. "Okay -- let's go."

The set was made up to look like a flophouse bedroom. I guess they had decided to promote Brian via the sex approach. Since he refused to put on any of their 'fashions' -- which really did look like nothing he would ever wear -- they used his own clothes. Or lack of them. The stylist smoothed his hair down a little -- but just a little -- and powdered the sweat off his chest. His beard stubble stood out in contrast from the smooth skin of his beautiful face. They sprawled him on the bed, on the floor, pulled off the sheets and tumbled him around in them. It was silly, but I could see what Eugene was trying to capture -- Brian's basic sexual, angry, feral nature. I could see how it might work.

Eugene had a large camera set up, but he kept calling for his smaller hand-held cameras. "These have black and white film in them. I want to alternate the look. Like candid snaps," he told Justin, who was hovering on the edge of the set.

"What about a few shots, Ms....?"

"Lindsay. No, please."

"No -- I don't want her to have to deal with this shit. She's a private citizen."

"Well -- what about the baby? Would you mind?"

"Yes!" he growled.

"No, I wouldn't mind if Gus was in a few shots. Come on, Brian. Some day you can show him the pictures of the two of you. It will be sweet."

"I promise to give you proofs of the photos -- even if we don't use them." Eugene held my hand, blessing me silently.

Justin and I undressed Gus to his diaper -- which was clean, thankfully -- and Justin carried him to the set. It was amazing how Brian's demeanor changed immediately. He smiled. He rolled Gus around on the prop bed. Held him up. Justin stood just out of camera range, helping to position Gus and holding up toys to get him to look in a certain direction.

"You -- do you mind if you're visible in a few of these shots? It might make an interesting contrast." Eugene moved Justin closer to the bed.

"I don't mind."

Justin was wrestling with Gus a bit on the bed while Brian watched them. The look on his face was ecstatic. I saw that Eugene was shooting and Brian wasn't even aware of it. I knew these would be the best shots -- I just felt it.

"What if you shave here in the sink -- with the baby watching?"

"Why not? I have to wash up anyway before I leave here, you have me so covered with this powder and shit." Brian stood up and dropped his jeans to the floor. Of course, he was naked, but completely unconcerned. Ellen raised her eyebrows. "Well!" she said. And she made some notes on her pad.

One of the stylists handed him a towel and he washed himself down at the studio sink, while Justin bounced Gus in his arms. He dried himself and then wrapped the towel around his waist and shaved his face. Justin leaned Gus on the edge of the sink and Brian splashed some water at them. Gus laughed, Justin laughed, and Brian smiled in a very sexy manner. This was the most mundane little scene I could imagine, but it was strangely erotic.

"Is that it?" Brian wiped the shaving cream off his face. "Finally?"

"Please -- one more?"

"And then we can go?"

"Definitely."

Brian and the photographer conferred for a few minutes. Then Brian shrugged and walked over to the bed, dropping the towel. He lay back against the messed up pillows and sheets and Justin brought Gus over. Brian moved him around, positioning Gus here and there, usually to cover his cock, but not always, and finally cradling him against his face for the final close-ups.

"That's really IT. No more. Right?"

"Beautiful, Brian! Just beautiful." Eugene had abandoned Justin and now had eyes only for Brian. The assistants were scurrying around, gathering up equipment. One of the stylists brought Brian his clothes and he nonchalantly climbed into them. I swear, he is the least modest person I have ever known in my life.

Ellen, the writer, was furiously making notes. "That was quite a session! And I've done a ton of these profiles and sat in on a lot of photo shoots. But THAT was definitely different."

"Well, Brian is a different kind of guy."

"What's the boy's name? He came in with you? Is he your brother?"

Why is everyone always assuming that? "He came here with me. He helps me with Gus."

"He's a doll. Those photos will be fabulous. I know Eugene's work. He's a master." She put her pad away. "I have to rush. I'll make an appointment to interview Mr. Kinney in depth later. Should be very exciting."

"Should be." Yes, I thought, if you can get Brian to say two words to you, ma'am!

We went out to the Mustang. The mid-day sun was hot and brilliant. Brian had installed a childseat for Gus and I strapped him in snugly.

"Do you think Gus'll scream if I put the top down?" Brian put his hands on his hips and surveyed the situation.

"I doubt it. He might like the feel of the wind in his hair. I know I do!"

"Yes!" cried Justin. "I wanna cruise like the Beach Boys!"

"Let's do it then!" Brian put the convertible top down. I climbed in the backseat next to Gus, while Justin rode shotgun.

Brian began laughing as we pulled out onto Hollywood Boulevard. "Wait until Ron sees shots of my dick all over 'Vanity Fair'! It was all worth it just for that!"

And he let the Mustang rip.

Continue on to "A Natural Woman", the next chapter.

©Gaedhal, July 2002

Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.

Updated July 15, 2002