VOICEMAIL

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 65 of the "Queer Realities" series.

The narrators are Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor, and features Lindsay Peterson, Gus Peterson-Marcus, Marshall Meyers, Wade Anderson.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Trying to move on is harder than it seems. Pittsburgh, April, 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.

Voicemail for Brian Kinney, Tuesday, April 29, 2003.

Message #1:
"Hey. It's me. Thanks for letting me get my stuff from the studio. I... I appreciate it. My mom told me about you selling the building and everything. I hope it's not because of me. I mean it, Brian. I'll stay out of your way while you're in Pittsburgh! I promise! You don't have to leave town. Not that you give a shit about what I think... Not that you care... Fuck it! Anyway, I'll be over this afternoon around 2:00. I'll try to be as quick as possible. Thanks again... and... I'm sorry."

Message #2:
"Bri! Hi! It's Lindz. I was so glad to get your message. I'd love to bring Gus and the baby over today. You said something about the park? I think that's a wonderful idea! Gus is always so excited to see his daddy. I'll come by at 1:00 and pick you up. This is so nice, Brian. I'm looking forward to it! See you soon!"

Message #3:
"Brian? It's Sylvia. I'm just checking up to make sure you're all right. You looked a little befuddled yesterday after your session with Dr. Gorowitz. That's to be expected, you know. It's traumatic to go from our safe little cocoon here at Springhurst to the realities of the Big Bad World. But I have no doubt you can handle it. You're a strong person. And remember that I'm only a phone call away. Any place, any day, any time. I'm still your counselor, no matter where you are. Good luck, Brian. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers."

Message #4:
"Brian -- Michael here. You haven't called me back. I'll keep leaving messages anyway. I know you're pissed at me, but it's not my fault! It isn't. Don't blame me for what Justin did to you! Please call me. PLEASE! I have to go now. David's on the other line."

"Message #5:
"Guess who? Ha! Come on, Bri Baby, give me a call once in a while! Throw me a bone here! I need to hear your sexy voice. I'm counting the days until you're back in Sunny L.A. Have you been missing me? Have you, Babe? Hey, why don't we kick back on the boat before you have to leave for Arizona? That'll be fun. I'll bring the martinis and the dope and you bring your big, beautiful cock! I'm still waiting for you to give me the word, Bri. I'm ready to do that interview. Tess is being a bitch about it all, but what else is new? She says that if I come out publicly, she'll put my ass in a sling! Pretty funny, huh? And Lew says that if I want to fuck myself over with this 'faggot shit,' then I can go ahead, but he won't be my agent anymore. And he'll drop you, too, Babe! Do you believe all the homophobia WE are faced with? Who needs Lew Blackmore! We can't let jerks like him stop us, right, Bri? Gotta go now! Call me! Love ya!"

***

I roll open the door for Lindsay and the kids and Gus is wrapped around my legs in a second.

"Daddy!" he squeals.

I sweep him up into my arms and hug him. Hold him. "Hey there, Sonny Boy. What's up?"

"Gus up!" he crows. And I lift him high above my head. "Jesus, Lindz! He's heavy! What are you feeding this kid? Cement?"

"Brian!" Lindsay laughs. "I told you he's a growing boy! And he's going to be tall. His pediatrician says so. He'll probably be taller than you. He already looks exactly like his daddy."

I sniff as I set Gus back down. "As long as he doesn't take after me in other ways, I don't care what he looks like." I smile at Gus and he smiles back. Does he look like me? Was I ever so fucking innocent and cute? And so happy? "As long as he's hot."

"What a thing to say about our son!" Lindsay chides me gently. "There are more important things in life than being hot."

"Maybe," I admit. "But being hot never hurts. And it's a lot more fun than the alternative."

"What about our daughter?" Lindsay holds up Charity for me to kiss.

I wince at the way Lindz says OUR daughter. And OUR son. Thank God she's in a relationship or she'd be at my door every fucking day, wanting us to be a 'family.' I mean, like a fucking breeder family, with me as Pa and her as Ma. I don't know where the hell that leaves Mel. Probably as some spinster aunt that Lindz fucks on the side.

It's my own fault. I gave in to my basic weakness about Lindsay when she wanted Gus, but it was pure vanity when it came to having Charity. Gus is such a fucking amazing kid that I guess I couldn't resist having another one. I mean, helping Lindsay have another one. Jesus, I'm getting possessive about my kids! It's probably a good thing that I don't live in the Pitts where I could see them every day. I'd start getting way too involved. I wouldn't be able to stop myself from interfering in their lives. Then Melanie would really fucking freak out!

"She's a heartbreaker," I say, gazing at her little face.

Charity really is a beautiful baby. Her eyes are large and golden brown, her hair nothing but pale fuzz. And her skin is almost translucent. You can see the delicate blue veins underneath. I try to picture her as a toddler, chasing Gus around the house. And as a little girl with a doll, looking at me with that coy expression Lindsay has when she wants something. Then as a teenager, sassing back to Mel, slamming the door of her bedroom and sulking in there when she's mad. And as a grown woman. It's harder to see that. Will she be like Lindsay? Full-bottomed, soft-voiced, and blonde? Or like my sister, Claire? Shrill, tired-eyed, and whiny?

I also think about my mother. I still remember when she was younger. She was a beautiful woman then. Thin, with high cheek-bones, like a model, although not that tall. And she had beautiful auburn hair and bright green eyes. She wasn't the beaten-down, gray-haired harridan she is now. She told me once that she remembered when we were close. I denied it at the time -- I was angry at her and her self-righteous Catholic bullshit -- but she was right. We were close when I was small. I remember how good it felt when she put her arms around me after the Old Man had lit into me for some stupid mistake I'd made. How she'd wipe the tears from my eyes with the edge of her apron and then give me a piece of double chocolate chip cake.

Mom.

Fucking stupid memories.

"I thought we could go to that park by the university. They have swings and slides and plenty of benches so we can sit and have a nice chat," Lindsay says, bouncing the baby on her hip.

"That's fine. Wherever." I escort her over to the sofa. She sits down and places the baby on the cushion next to her. "Um... you're not planning to change her dirty diaper on my white sofa, are you?"

Lindsay rolls her eyes. "No, Brian! I won't get baby poop on your precious sofa! But I will need to change her before we leave."

"I want to get going soon." I glance at the clock. It's 1:15. "I need to be out of here well before 2:00."

"What's the big hurry?" Lindsay asks. She holds a small, pink stuffed bear over Charity's head and the baby grabs for it.

"Justin is coming over to get his art projects from the studio." I look away. Gus is making vrooming noises and rolling a toy car along the hardwood floor. "What've you got there, sport?"

"My car!" he says proudly. And he shows me the Matchbox Mustang I gave him on Saturday. "Like Daddy!"

"I thought Mel took that away from him," I say to Lindsay. "Looks like he hasn't choked on it yet."

"You know it was never about the car," Lindsay reminds me.

"No, it was about me." I watch Gus play with the car. He spins it across the floor and then chases it. Spins it again, and chases it again. "It's always about me. Well, Melanie Marcus won't have Brian Kinney to kick around much longer."

Lindsay's face changes, her mouth twisting in distress. "You're really serious about leaving town?"

"I'm putting the building on the market. I talked to Jennifer Taylor yesterday morning. Her real estate agency is listing it."

I follow her eyes to some cardboard boxes stacked next to the computer desk. They're empty now, but soon they'll be full. I'll sort out Justin's stuff first, then mine. I won't be taking everything. Mainly my clothes, computer, photos, books, and CD's. The few pieces of art I own. My favorite Philippe Starck juicer. Things like that. The rest is superfluous. I'll either put it in storage or give it away. Maybe I'll give the big screen TV to Debbie. Except I don't think Deb has a wall big enough to hold it. Whatever the fuck. I'll let her and Mikey figure it out.

"You said Justin is coming over at 2:00?" asks Lindsay, hopefully. "Then you've talked to him?"

"No," I say flatly. "He's just getting his shit from the studio downstairs. He needs it to finish up his classes. He can get the rest of his things from the loft later."

"You should talk to him...." Lindsay begins.

"Forget it!" I hold up my hand to stop her. "I don't need a fucking marriage counselor. Save all the touchy-feely lesbionic bullshit for your sessions with Melanie. The two of you need it more than I do. I already have Julius Gorowitz and my treatment counselor, Sylvia, to remind me what a fuck-up I am."

"I know you don't want to hear this," says Lindsay. "But you love him. And he loves you! Isn't that all that matters?"

"Apparently not," I reply. "I thought it would be. But I was wrong. Justin needs more than I can give him. And he deserves to have what he wants, whatever the fuck that is. If it isn't me, then I'm not going to twist his fucking arm to make him change his mind." I close my eyes and see Ron's face. Hear his voice. Pleading with me. Begging me to feel the same way about him that he felt about me. But I didn't. But by then it was already too late. Too fucking late! "That never works. It only destroys any love that might have been there in the first place. And that's the last thing I'm going to say to you on this subject."

"Daddy!" Gus yells. He's playing with his Matchbox car in the corner of the living room. He stands up and runs over to me, clutching something small in his hand. "Look!"

"What did you find, Sonny Boy?"

Gus opens his hand and I see a little red heart. "Pretty?" he asks.

"Yes, Gus." I touch his dark, silky hair. "Pretty."

"Can I keep?" Gus looks up at me.

"No, Sonny Boy," I say. "Can Daddy have that?"

He hesitates for a moment, uncertain. It's red and shiny. He wants it. But it's not his to keep. He hands it to me solemnly. "For Daddy."

Lindsay comes over, ready to take the baby up into the bedroom to change her. We need to leave soon. To go to the park. To get the fuck out of here before 2:00. "Isn't that from the necklace Justin gave you?"

I nod. "It was. But now it's broken."

"But it can be fixed, Bri," Lindsay says softly. "The heart is still intact. A new chain will make it as good as new."

"Some things can't be fixed that easily," I tell her. "Some things are better left broken."

Lindsay sighs and carries Charity up to the bedroom to change her, Gus following along behind.

I stare at the red charm in the palm of my hand. She's right. The chain can be replaced. And the little enamel heart is still whole. Still perfect.

So why does it feel so fucking broken?

***

Voicemail for Justin Taylor, Tuesday, April 29, 2003.

Message #1:
"2:00 is fine. I'll stay out of your way."

Message #2:
"Hi, Justin. It's Marshall. Yeah, I can go with you to get your projects out of the studio, but you'll have to pick me up. I want to tell you that I think it's really shitty what's going on. I mean, from what I've heard. Not that I've heard anything bad. But... I guess if you want to talk, you'll talk. If not, always remember that I'm your friend. You said you don't have the Jeep anymore. Are you going to use your mom's car? Because I don't know how much will fit in the trunk and the back seat. I wish I had a car, but I don't. Why don't you call Wade? His family has a big, ugly SUV and we can get a lot into it."

Message #3:
"Justin? Honey? It's Em. Please call me. We need to talk. Seriously. I know you've been avoiding me, but this is SO important! If you won't talk to me, then you have to talk to someone! I'm not kidding, sweetie. I saw Brian at Woody's on Sunday night and he was freaking out. He still loves you, hon. Never think otherwise. Justin? Don't hide! Bye now."

Message #4:
"Wade here! I got your message. What's going on over there, Justin? Are you moving out for good? I know you're going to L.A. as soon as the semester is over, but I didn't think you and Brian were leaving the loft. Or are you guys just storing some stuff at your mom's place? Hey, what happened to your Jeep? I guess you'll tell me when you see me. Well, anyway, my mom says we can use the Aztek. It's no problem. I'm a senior, so I can take off this afternoon without anybody having a fucking shit fit. Besides, I've already been accepted at PIFA for next year, so I don't give a fuck if they do have a fit! I'll pick you up at 1:30 -- is that okay? Then we can swing around and get Marshall at the dorm."

Message #5:
"Just, I'm leaving you another message. This is the tenth fucking message I've left for you since Friday! I know because I've been keeping track! And I'm going to keep calling until you fucking answer me! Don't do this to me, Just! I know you're angry about what happened with Kinney, but give me a fucking break! It wasn't ME who threw you out -- it was HIM! You know how I feel about you! I fucking love you, Just -- and I know you love me! That's the truth. I mean it. I'd never lie to you! I know you miss me. Don't you? Because I miss you. It's all right! Really! We can be together now! Call me, Just. I'll pick up right away, even if I'm in class. I'll be waiting."

***

Wade pulls his mother's Aztek up in front of our building. I mean, Brian's building. Not mine any longer.

"Is it okay to leave it here?" Wade asks, turning off the SUV. "I don't want to get a ticket."

I nod. There's no reason to park it in the garage behind the building. "Yeah, it's okay. We're only going to be here for about an hour. No more than that. I don't think there's that much stuff to move."

I take out the key and the slip of paper with the new codesthat my mother gave me. Brian wasn't kidding. He really did have all the locks and codes changed. Not that it matters now. I wouldn't have come back here unless I had to. And I have to get my projects. Print out some material on the computer. Pick up my paints and canvases and whatever else I might need to finish up the semester. Because I doubt I'll be coming back here again.

I punch in the new code for the front door and hear that familiar buzz. The door releases and I open it.

"Are you going to go upstairs and talk to Brian while we're here?" Marshall asks me as we get into the elevator. He's carrying a large cardboard box. Wade is still outside, getting more boxes out of the back of the Aztek, so Marshall and I have a few minutes alone. Marshall knows what happened -- sort of. The story of our break-up has made the rounds of the Gay Grapevine like wildfire. Or versions of the story. Only Wade still seems fairly clueless. But that won't last long. The next time he fakes his way into Babylon or BoyToy or sneaks into a college party over at CMU, he'll hear plenty. What the fuck does it matter that most of it will be fucking lies? No one cares about the truth, anyway.

No one fucking cares. Not even Brian.

"No. He's probably not even up there," I reply. "He said he'd stay out of my way. That probably means as far away as he can get from here without actually leaving town."

"I'm sorry, Justin," Marshall says quietly. But I shake my head. I know he means well, but I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I'm fucking sick of people feeling sorry for me. Poor Little Justin! Fuck that! I know everyone will blame Brian and see me as some pathetic little victim, even my good friends. But they don't know what really happened. They don't know shit.

"There's nothing to be sorry about," I say, keeping my voice steady. We get out of the elevator and I open the door of the studio. The air is stale, heavy with the odor of paint and thinner. I look around. Nothing has been touched since the last time I was here, less than a week ago. A fucking lifetime ago.

"So -- where do we start?" Marshall asks, setting down the box.

"I guess with my supplies." I show Marshall where I keep my paints and brushes. But as I show him, I realize that there's more stuff here than I had thought. All the junk you accumulate over a year of working in a space. The storyboards for my video and for Michael's comic. Rolls of canvas and stretchers. Paper for the laser printer. Unfinished projects. Art books. Piles of magazines to make collages. Old clothes to work in. Odds and ends. But it all has to go. "I'll wrap up my finished canvases myself. Those and the prints are the most important things. Whatever we can't fit in the Aztek, we'll just have to leave behind."

"What about the computer?" Marshall walks over to the desk and touches the computer Brian got me. I think about the first thing I ever made on it -- a drawing of Brian eating an apple. What else? It's always Brian. "We'll have to be careful carrying it down. And the laser printer looks kind of heavy."

"I'm not taking the computer," I say, turning away. "I have everything backed up, so I'll just take the diskettes after I print out my stuff for class."

"What do you mean, you aren't taking your computer?" Marshall stares at me in disbelief. "You need it! You do most of your work on that computer!"

"This is Brian's computer," I say firmly. "He bought it for me to use, but we're not together anymore, so I don't feel right taking it. I'll use some of my trust fund money to get another one."

Marshall walks over to me. "Justin, come on! What is Brian going to do with another computer? He has his own computers! This one is yours! Do you know how much it's going to cost to buy another one just like this? Or to replace all that special graphics software?"

"I don't care. I told you that I'm not taking it!" I walk away from him purposefully. Marshall doesn't get it. He just doesn't get it. When something is over, it's OVER! "You can get my art supplies sorted out and I'll get the paper and wrap my finished canvases."

That's when Wade comes in with some smaller boxes. "Hey, Justin! Where should I put these?"

"Leave them right there and go down and get the rest of the boxes," I tell him.

"Okay." Wade grins at me. Then he glances around the large room. "This is such a great studio! But I bet the one you're going to have out in California will be even better!"

Marshall gapes at Wade and then shakes his head, as if to say 'fucking clueless'!

Yes, fucking clueless. But that doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters but getting this done. I tear off long sheets of brown paper and start wrapping my canvases. Carefully. Methodically.

Focusing on one thing at a time. No thinking. No feeling. No fucking explaining.

It's not all that hard to do. I make myself blank. Like one of those empty canvases. Like all that spotless printer paper. My untouched sketchpads.

I haven't been able to draw or create anything new since Brian threw me out. I try, but there's nothing in there. I can't see anything. I can't imagine anything. Everything is a blank.

One day, there will be something inside me again. Just like one day there might be something on those empty canvases. Or on this printer paper. One day. When I can bear to look inside myself again. When I can stare at myself in the mirror without wanting to smash it. Then maybe I can understand myself. Know what I really want and what I really need. Then maybe I can pick up a pencil or a brush or the stylus of a computer and make the images in my head come alive again. Maybe I'll be able to see something else in my fucking heart other than Brian's face. The face of God.

One day.

But not today.

***

Voicemail for Justin Taylor, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"Justin! You didn't take your fucking computer! What the fuck are you trying to prove? If you don't come and get it before I move out of here, I'm throwing it out the fucking window! Then you can pick up the fucking pieces from the fucking sidewalk!"

***

Voicemail for Brian Kinney, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"I'm sorry, Brian. I don't need the computer. I'll get another one. Thanks, anyway."

***

Voicemail for Justin Taylor, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"You'll get another one? You already have one! Don't be such a fucking drama queen! What's the problem? Is your fucking boyfriend so fucking insecure that he won't let you have it? I thought you had bigger balls than that, Justin! I guess I was mistaken!"

***

Voicemail for Brian Kinney, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"Dylan has nothing to do with it! I told you before, Brian, but you wouldn't believe me! Dylan is NOT my boyfriend! He isn't anything to me! So just forget about that shit! Because it's not true! It's only what YOU want to believe!"

***

Voicemail for Justin Taylor, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"Don't fuck around with me, Justin! And don't tell me what to forget or what not to forget! You don't have me by the dick anymore. No, you don't... not... not anymore.... Listen... you're right. Forget it. Just fucking forget it! I don't need this conversation. I need to get the fuck on with my life. And so do you. So I won't bother you again. Goodbye."

***

Voicemail for Brian Kinney, Wednesday, April 30, 2003.

Message #1:
"Brian? It's me again. I don't want to fucking forget it! I don't want to forget anything! Please pick up the phone and talk to me! Brian! Please, pick up. Brian -- Please! For fucksake... please?"

Continue on to "I Will Remember You".

©Gaedhal, February 2006.

Posted February 14, 2006.