"Ice, Brian, Ice"
The ringing of his cell phone woke Brian. The tune, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy.” alerted him to the caller’s identity. That was the only reason he reached over the trick currently occupying his bed and grabbed his phone. Justin was calling. In the middle of the night?
“Yeah?” Brian answered, still trying to wake himself up. He glanced at the man still sleeping in his bed – should have sent him home when they finished. He must be getting soft in his... Brian’s mind stopped right there. Two bad words in that thought – soft and old. Not going there, not as long as he still looked as good as he did ten years ago.
Brian’s thoughts were interrupted by a strange voice asking, “May I speak to...Brian?”
“Who the fuck is this? How did you get that phone?” Brian sat up abruptly. He glanced at the phone’s screen. It was definitely a call from his number.
“I’m sorry to bother you this late but my name is Carl Irving, Sergeant Carl Irving, with the NYPD...”
“What the fuck?” Brian ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up even more than it already was. “Has there been an accident? Where’s Justin?”
“Justin. Would you be able to tell me the young man’s last name? I assume this is ‘Brian’?” The voice at the other end of the line stayed calm. But he didn’t answer Brian’s question.
“Taylor. Justin Taylor. Would you please tell me what the fuck is going on? Why does the NYPD have Justin’s phone and why are you calling me?”
“We have a John Doe who was brought in by the EMT’s. He’s unconscious, and other than his phone, had nothing on his person to identify him. You’re his ICE person.”
“Ice person? What the fuck does that mean? And what happened to Justin? Why is he unconscious?” Brian was getting frustrated. Getting information out of this guy was next to impossible. He got up and walked over to his dresser for some clean clothes.
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you about Mr....Taylor’s condition, sir. But I can tell you that your number was his ICE call–In Case of Emergency, you are designated as the person to call. Would you be able to speak to the doctor treating him and provide some basic medical information? They may ask you to come here or put us in touch with a family member who can....”
Brian interrupted him. “Sure, yeah, sure. I know the information they’ll need, and I’ll get there as soon as possible, just give me the name and address of the hospital. Can’t you tell me anything more? I’m in Pittsburgh; it will take me a couple hours to get there.”
“I’ll have his doctor call your number as soon as he can. In the meantime, the nurse will be getting on to take down the information they need.”
“Jesus Christ,” Brian whispered, wondering what the hell had happened. Justin unconscious in a hospital? He would almost think this was just a nightmare, certainly it had many of the markings of his worst one. But – he didn’t know that term, ICE, and he sure as hell didn’t know he was Justin’s emergency contact. Not that he minded, on the contrary, but he wished he were better prepared. He nudged the trick with his foot as he waited for the nurse to get on the line. The guy rolled over and smiled at him invitingly.
“You’re leaving,” Brian told him, his voice cold.
“Sooner if you can manage it.” Brian turned his back to the man. He had more important things to do than talk to him.
“Is this Brian?” A female voice was on the line finally.
“Yeah, how is Justin?”
“Stable. I can’t say more right now but I would appreciate it if you could give us some information. His full name and age, please.....
Brian strode quickly through the corridor of the hospital where Justin was. It had been four years since he left to find fame and fortune in the Big Apple. He had stayed in touch with Brian, calling at least once a week and emailing most days. But, the few times Justin had made it down to Pittsburgh to visit his family, Brian had been out of town on business or off on vacation, usually to Ibiza. Brian had been to the City on business a handful of times but his schedule never jived with Justin’s. He might have been able to do something about that if he’d tried harder, but he always reasoned that there would be other trips, other chances to get together.
Went to show how wrong a man could be. The doctor had given him little concrete information, but said enough to make it clear that Justin was in bad shape. He’d been hit by a car that had run a red light. He’d been unconscious since the EMT’s had gotten to him. He hadn’t woken up since then.
Brian rang the buzzer that would open the doors to the ICU. He tapped his fingers on the wall impatiently while he waited for someone to buzz him in. He had to get to Justin, see his condition with his own eyes.
Finally, the door swung open. He headed directly for the nurses’ station.
“May I help you?” A tall, hot looking nurse came up to him.
“I’m here to see...to see Justin Taylor. He was brought in last night.”
“Ah, our little John Doe. I’m Adam, his nurse. You must be his ICE person. Brian Kinney, right?”
Brian nodded. He wasn’t in the mood for any chit chat. “May I see him?”
“Dr. Larson asked to be told as soon as you arrive,” Adam said, but quickly added, as he saw storm clouds appear on the handsome face in front of him, “but I see no reason why you couldn’t wait for him in his room. I was heading there when you buzzed and guessed that you might be the man we were waiting for. Come on.”
Relieved that there wouldn’t be any more delay, Brian followed Adam to a room halfway down the hall. It was the standard ICU room, a window starting at waist level, enabling the nurses to keep an eye on the patient. A computer station sat between every two rooms, providing information on the patients, Brian guessed. He tried to quell the anxiety that peaked as he drew near the window that was far too reminiscent of that other ICU window he’d spent so many hours at. A long time ago now, seven years, practically a lifetime. Or more than a third of one.
Brian looked in, and there he was. As pale and lifeless looking as he’d been at seventeen. After the prom. For one terrible moment, he actually considered leaving. Heading out of the hospital and going straight to the nearest bar to get plastered – it was a great idea and once upon a time he would have done exactly that. But not now, not when he was the one, the only one Justin was counting on to help him, in case of an emergency. Taking a deep breath, he went in.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Adam said softly. “I’ll hunt down Doctor Larson.”
Brian took a chair near the wall and moved it closer to the bed. The machines monitoring Justin all whirred and beeped reassuringly. No alarms going off to indicate a crisis. That had happened a couple of times – before.
“Hey, Sonnyboy, wake up. You didn’t really have to go to all this trouble to get me up here. All you had to do was ask.”
Nothing. Brian mocked himself for actually believing that all it would take was one snarky comment from a long lost...love...to bring him to full consciousness.
“Well, it would have been nice. You’d wake up and we’d ....” Brian’s monologue stopped at that point. Seeing Justin like this, he knew that his feelings were as strong as they’d ever been. He cursed himself for letting so much time be wasted. Four whole years. He knew how this scene would continue, once Justin woke up. He wouldn’t let any more time be wasted.
“I guess you aren’t going to make this easy for me, are you? Don’t blame you, really. I should have gotten up here sooner. I realize that now, but...you know how it is. Time gets away from you. There’s always tomorrow. I’m here now. And...I’m sorry. You don’t want to miss me saying it now. Can’t say when it will happen again, but right now, at this moment, you’re getting both an apology and a regret.”
Justin’s blond hair was partially obscured by a large bandage. Still, enough showed to tell Brian that it was still pale gold, long and silky.
“Fuck, Justin. Wake up...please.” Where was that doctor? What could be more important than a patient who wouldn’t wake the fuck up? Brian hated this. Hated it with a passion.
“I didn’t know I was your...what did they call me? Your ice person. I’m glad, of course. I have that list of medicines that you’re allergic to memorized. Good thing, huh?”
He got up and walked around to the other side of the bed, the buzz of the machines on the first side making him crazy. He ran his hand through his hair.
“Sonnyboy...I need you to wake up. I can’t stand this. I really can’t stand this.”
He kneeled by the side of the bed.
“Please...baby. You’re the most important person in the world to me. I love you. I’ve never stopped. I must still be important to you, I’m your ice man. You can’t go naming someone your ice man and then not talk to them when they rush to a hospital to see you. It’s not polite. And you’ve the best manners of anyone I’ve ever known.”
Brian put his head down on the bed, near Justin’s hand. A second later, he felt a touch to his head. He lifted his head
Justin’s eyes were open and he had a faint smile on his face as he said, “Thank you.”
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