Be Careful What You Wish For
* * *
Justin sat in the chair beside Brian's hospital bed. He watched the man sleep, wondering what Brian's words had really meant.
"Don't go," Brian had said when Justin was about to walk out of the hospital room and go back to Chicago. That would have given Brian all the space he needed, but Brian had told him to stay. He hadn't promised much, just that he didn't want to be alone, and the person he wanted not to be alone with was Justin.
Justin smiled slightly. It was a step, a tiny one, but a step nonetheless. The question was, would that be all that he got from Brian? Their whole relationship had been about this push/pull that Brian seemed inclined to play on Justin. One minute Brian wanted him and they were so close, and the sex was phenomenal, and the next minute Brian was stating that he didn't believe in love and was packing up to leave.
Justin frowned. He wasn't sure how much of this he could stand. He'd been through the contradictions of a relationship with Brian Kinney already, even though it had been a pretend relationship, and he didn't much like what happened to him at the end of it. But, could this time be different? Justin supposed that's why he was sitting in this chair watching Brian sleep, because he hoped that this time would be different.
He thought he had heard something different in Brian's voice when he asked him to stay. He hoped he wasn't fooling himself into thinking that. Brian was sick and maybe he just wanted someone to look after him. Maybe Justin was making assumptions that weren't really there. Justin ran his hand through his hair wondering why he had agreed to stay. After all this time he still wanted Brian Kinney, still loved the cantankerous and sometimes cruel man. Loved the kind and sweet side of Brian Kinney that he had witnessed and felt when Brian had held him and comforted him after John's death. Loved the broken little boy that he had seen when Brian opened the long lost presents from his uncle. Loved the man he had seen with Gus, a father and a gentle man.
But was any of that enough for him to finally make a relationship with Brian, a real one, not a pretend one. Justin shook his head. He just didn't know. Brian could turn back into the man who walked out of his life months ago in the snap of a finger. Justin had to wonder which Brian would be laying in that bed when the man woke up.
"Hey," Brian's voice drew Justin out of his reverie.
"Hey," Justin said gently. "You're supposed to be asleep."
"I could hear the wheels turning in your head."
"Oh," Justin blushed slightly.
"What time is it?"
"I guess I did get some sleep," Brian said with a yawn. "I didn't think I was so tired."
"Your body has been through a lot. It needs sleep to recover." Justin watched Brian stiffen at his words.
"Thank you, Dr. Taylor," Brian snarked.
Justin cringed. There was the old, sarcastic side of Brian. He was back; the man who didn't think about how his words affected the person he said them to. "I guess I should get going," Justin said hastily. "They'll be in to take your vitals and bring breakfast."
"I I thought you were going to stay," Brian said hesitantly.
"I did all night."
"Did you get any sleep?" Brian asked.
"Not really, but I'll be fine." Justin stood up ready to leave.
"Justin, I think we need to talk."
"Really? I thought you were better at action than conversation."
"I I used to be."
Justin frowned and looked into Brian's eyes. What was it that he saw there? He wasn't sure, but he didn't like it. "What's changed?" Justin asked warily.
"I've changed. The cancer has changed everything."
"How? You're going to be fine if you take care of yourself. That's what the doctor said."
Brian shook his head. "I I can never be the man I was before," Brian said closing his eyes as if to block out the whole image of the new and desecrated Brian Kinney.
"Of course you can," Justin said, daring to take Brian's hand. He allowed himself to sit back down, wondering once again if he was making a big mistake, or taking a step towards something important.
"No, you don't understand," Brian whispered.
"Then help me understand."
"I I'm less of a man," Brian said in a voice that was barely audible.
"I know you feel weak, Brian. Radiation will do that to you. You've been sick and you've lost a lot of weight, but you can gain that back. You'll be better than ever."
"This isn't about me looking like shit, which I know I do," Brian said harshly. "This is about them cutting out one of my balls. I can never be what I was."
"Is that such a bad thing?" Justin asked staring at Brian.
"Huh?" Brian said not understanding how Justin could be so cruel.
"Did you expect to be the stud of Liberty Avenue for the rest of your life?"
"Yeah, I guess I did," Brian said sheepishly.
"Well, grow up and face facts. You can't be a club boy forever. You're thirty-five years old. In the gay world that's ancient not so young," Justin amended.
"Thanks for the pep talk. I feel so much better."
Justin had to chuckle. As much as it annoyed him sometimes, Brian's snark was also a source of entertainment. "Any way that I can help," he offered with a grin.
"You have already helped," Brian admitted seriously. "Just by being here. Thanks for staying last night. I I didn't want to be alone."
"Why are you here, Brian? Surely they must have warned you about flying. You look like a good wind would blow you over, so why make all the effort to come to Denver?"
"Business," Brian stated.
Justin looked at him. He knew somewhere deep inside that that couldn't be all there was to it. "Of course, business," he said after a minute.
Just then the nurse came in to take Brian's vitals and get him ready for the day. Justin went out to get a cup of hospital coffee while all this was taking place. When he returned, the doctor was talking to Brian.
"All right, I'll release you if you promise to take care of yourself. No flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Stay on the ground for at least a couple of weeks, and for God's sake start eating something."
"I'll see that he does," Justin said as he moved closer to the bed. "You're coming back to the mansion with me, and Maggie will fatten you up pronto." Justin wasn't sure why he made that declaration, but he knew that he and Brian still had unfinished business, always had. Maybe if they were stuck together for a week or two they could actually get things out in the open and come to some kind of resolution, whichever way that might go.
Brian hesitated. Justin would look after him; he knew that. But, Justin might also expect them to sleep together. How did he tell his young lover that he was impotent? "I can just get a hotel," Brian said lamely.
"We had this discussion before, and you are coming to the mansion. No further fucking discussion!" Justin declared.
"Okay, okay," Brian surrendered. "I just want to get out of here."
"I thought you liked my company," Dr. Robinski laughed. "Justin's right. It will be much better for you in a home with people who can look after you. Do as Justin tells you."
"Thank you for that, doctor. He's not the easiest patient to handle," Justin laughed.
"Tell me about it," the doctor said. "I'll go get them started on your release forms."
"You don't have to look after me," Brian said raising his eyebrow. He studied Justin carefully. He didn't want pity, no matter how much he wanted to be around Justin.
"I know I don't have to. Did it ever occur to that thick brain of yours that I might want to take care of you?" Justin demanded.
"But why would you? I didn't treat you all that well before."
"And don't think I don't fucking know that!" Justin told him. "But I can also be compassionate. I've told you before that I love you."
"Still?" Brian asked, somewhat amazed that Justin would say such a thing, especially after all they'd been through and the way they parted.
"Yes, asshole!" Justin replied, but his affectionate tone lessened the sting of his words.
"I I didn't tell the whole truth a little while ago," Brian said suddenly.
"What what do you mean? You are all right, aren't you? They did get all the cancer?"
"Yes, they did. That isn't what I lied about."
"Then what ?" Justin frowned.
"I said I came to Denver for business, but but there was more to it than that. Some part of me was hoping I'd see you."
"All you had to do was call and ask," Justin said simply.
"I I couldn't. I didn't want you to see me like this, but I thought maybe I could see you from afar."
"From afar?" Justin chuckled. "That sounds like some old Victorian romance novel. Lovers looking longingly from afar." Justin laughed and Brian smiled.
"Twat," Brian said affectionately. "I would never liken anything I do to something in a Victorian novel."
"I bet you could have set those Victorians straight about a few things."
"Or bent them," Brian chuckled. He couldn't remember when he had last genuinely laughed. Trust Justin Taylor to make that happen. "I guess I should get dressed," Brian said sitting up.
"Let me help you," Justin said going to the closet to find Brian's clothes.
"I can do it," Brian said swinging his feet out of the bed and standing up. He swayed slightly and sat back down abruptly.
"Hey, take it easy," Justin said bringing Brian his clothes. "Move slowly until you've regained some of your strength.
"Yes, Doctor Taylor," Brian said grabbing his trousers. He pulled them up under his hospital gown. He didn't want Justin to see his balls, how they had carved him up and then fried him for dinner. He pulled off the gown and grabbed his shirt. He could feel Justin's eyes on his body, and he knew he was nothing more than skin and bones. Justin could never love him when he looked like this. He quickly buttoned his shirt.
The nurse arrived with the release forms as Brian was trying to get his shoes on. Justin had knelt on the floor to help him and Brian had realized that if he bent over to put them on himself he might topple off the fucking bed. He signed the papers and was told that an orderly would be along shortly to wheel him outside. He was almost glad of that because he truthfully wasn't sure just how far he could walk.
They made their way out to the front where they saw Robert waiting with the limo. Brian looked at Justin. "I would have thought you'd have gotten rid of the limo," he said curtly.
"That would mean getting rid of Robert, and John wouldn't have liked that," Justin explained.
Brian eased himself into the back of the limo, letting out a long sigh as he melted into the soft leather seats. "Maybe I could just take up residence here for the duration," Brian mumbled as he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the headrest.
"This isn't a prison sentence," Justin said testily. "Just relax and rest till we get you home," Justin said settling beside Brian and twining his fingers through Brian's.
'Home,' Brian thought. That had a nice sound to it.
The ride to the mansion didn't take long. Brian managed to get out of the car under his own power. Margaret met them at the front door and told Brian that he should get right to bed.
"Yes, Margaret," Brian said contritely, letting himself be led slowly up the stairs.
"It's about time you started calling me Maggie," Margaret stated.
"Yes, Margaret," Brian replied, earning a small grin from all concerned. Brian could always be ornery even when he wasn't feeling well.
Justin helped Brian undress and get into bed. He was propping Brian up with a pile of pillows when there was a knock on the door. Justin opened it to reveal Maggie with a tray holding some crackers and a bowl of soup.
"This is my special chicken soup, full of vegetables and other good things. I want you to eat every bite," she said as she handed the tray to Justin.
Justin nodded and Maggie closed the door behind her as she left. "You have your orders," Justin said as he put the tray on the nightstand. He picked up the bowl and held a spoonful ready for Brian to eat.
"What? You're going to feed me?"
"It's part of the deluxe service," Justin grinned.
"Then I better take advantage of it while it lasts," Brian replied as he ate the first spoonful.
"Damn right," Justin averred as he fed Brian another spoonful. "But the service will last as long as it's needed."
Brian looked into Justin's eyes and he could see that his pretend partner meant every word. How was he ever going to get through this? There were so many things to be dealt with.
While Brian was thinking, Justin kept spooning the soup into him with a cracker bite here and there. Before either of them knew it the bowl was empty.
"Maggie will be very pleased," Justin declared.
"Anything to keep Maggie happy," Brian yawned.
"Sleep, Brian. You'll feel better when you wake up."
"Hmm," Brian managed to reply before he drifted off.
"What am I going to do with you?" Justin whispered as he brushed Brian's hair back from his forehead. Brian didn't feel hot, so he wasn't feverish. He just needed to rest and eat and get better. Justin decided that Brian was not leaving Denver until all of those were accomplished.
* * *
Brian awoke to a dimly lit room. He realized the curtains had been drawn, but it was still daylight outside. He wondered how long he had been asleep. He turned his head to look at the clock on the nightstand, only to see Justin curled up in the armchair in the corner. He was sound asleep.
Poor kid, Brian thought. He had a big job looking after Brian fucking Kinney. He'd have to see what he could do to make it easier on Justin. Brian smiled to himself realizing that was probably the first time in his whole life that he had had such a thought. Usually he tried to make life difficult for people. It kept them on their toes or back on their heels waiting for the next penny to drop.
Maybe it was time for a change. Justin had asked him if he intended to be a club boy for the rest of his life. His flippant "yes" was not really the truth. Since he had been back in Pittsburgh he had found that life less and less attractive. And now that he was no longer physically perfect, he could never go to the backrooms. So what was he doing here? Using Justin as his fallback plan now that things had crumbled around him? That was hardly fair to Justin.
And for the first time Brian began to realize that he did want to be fair to Justin. That had never really occurred to him before. They had had a deal back when they were pretending to be partners, and it had suited Brian just fine. He got all the hot sex he could handle, as well as the money his uncle had promised. He had his own company now and it was all largely due to Justin. He had never even thanked the man for what he had done. He had simply taken Justin for granted. He had used him and then tossed him aside when he had gained what he was after. Some part of him had always known that what happened between them meant a lot more to Justin than a mere subterfuge would have meant. But he had refused to face that fact. He had hidden behind all his patented bullshit lines about not believing in love and having no use for relationships. And then when he had gone back to Pittsburgh, he had discovered how truly alone he was. And it didn't seem half as attractive as he remembered it being.
What the fuck was he going to do? Now that he had made these realizations, how could he possibly ask Justin to take him back? He was sick and diseased and impotent. Justin might even accept him that way. He knew the man meant it when he said he loved Brian. But after a while if Brian couldn't get it up, Justin would have to go elsewhere for satisfaction, and Brian knew he could never stand that. He couldn't stand the pity that would be in Justin's eyes either. Pity made his dick soft, as if it could get any softer than it was at the moment.
Maybe it would be best for them all if he just walked away again. He wasn't sure what he had been thinking when he had started this fucking trip to Denver. Whatever it was, it wasn't working. He should go back to Pittsburgh, and try to find some sort of life. He could work himself to death and die rich and lonely. That sounded like a suitable fate for someone as stupid as he had been. Why couldn't he have recognized what he had with Justin when it was within his reach? Stupid! Yeah, that was the only word for him.
"Hey," Justin's voice broke into Brian's thoughts.
"Did you get some sleep?"
"Yeah, although my back doesn't think so," Justin said, trying to stretch and get the huge kink out of his back.
"Some night soon you should try sleeping in a bed," Brian smirked.
"Is that an invitation?" Justin asked with a gleam in his eye.
"Um no. I don't think I'm up for anything like that," Brian said hastily.
"I could just keep you company."
"I thought I was supposed to rest and eat," Brian said, changing the subject to something less full of potential danger.
"Are you hungry?"
"I guess I could eat," Brian replied. He actually did feel a little better. That soup had been good. Maybe Margaret would have something equally as nutritious for dinner, and then he could get back to Pittsburgh that much sooner.
"I'll go see what I can rustle up," Justin said. "You stay put and rest."
"What else do I have to do with my time?" Brian asked as Justin disappeared out the door.
Brian debated getting up and putting on some clothes. He might make it to the airport if luck was on his side. But he didn't really want to fly. He couldn't stand another bout in hospital when he got back to Pittsburgh. He'd had enough of hospitals to last him the rest of his life.
Brian swung his legs out of the bed. He still felt a little woozy when he moved too fast. Slowly he stood up knowing he needed to pee. He took a step towards the bathroom and felt Justin's arm come around his waist to steady him.
"Where do you think you're going?" Justin asked.
"I have to piss."
"You need to wait for me," Justin admonished as he walked Brian to the bathroom. "I'll help you. We don't want you falling."
"Are you going to hold it for me too?" Brian asked sarcastically, hoping to push Justin away.
"I will if you need me to."
"Fuck! I can do it myself," Brian said whipping it out of his underwear. He peed a long stream into the toilet.
"Ready to go back?" Justin asked.
"Do you mind if I wash my hands?" Brian snarked.
"No, go right ahead," Justin said not fazed by Brian's sarcasm. He watched Brian wash his hands. Immediately as Brian finished, Justin stepped forward and put his arm around Brian's waist. They walked back to the bed. "Margaret will be right up with some dinner."
"I can hardly wait," Brian said sarcastically as he got back under the covers.
"You better not talk to her like that or she'll poison your food."
"A long slow death, nothing more than what I have now," Brian said with a sigh.
"Brian, don't talk like that. They did get all the cancer? You said?"
"Yeah, I'm just in a mood."
"So I see."
Margaret brought more soup with a crusty roll and some tea for Brian's dinner. He enjoyed the soup almost as much as he had at lunch. Having Justin feed him was something he could get used to. He polished off the soup and ate the roll. He had a bit more trouble with the tea, but Justin kept telling him that it was good for him, and finally he finished it.
When Justin went downstairs to take the empty dishes back to a very happy Maggie, Brian had more time to think. He didn't know what the hell he was going to do. He liked Justin looking after him, but he knew that Justin was already getting more attached to him than he had been before. And what was worse were the feelings that Brian knew he was rekindling towards Justin. If he didn't get out of there soon, he might never be able to leave. But he couldn't leave, because he could barely walk to the fucking bathroom, let alone fly to Pittsburgh.
He closed his eyes to hold back tears. He had no idea what to do. He felt the bed dip as Justin's weight slid in next to him.
"It's all right, Brian. I'm here. I'll take care of you." Justin settled up against Brian's back. Brian felt Justin's hand run along his arm and the warmth of Justin's body pressed against him. "Go to sleep, Brian. Don't worry about anything. Just rest and relax. I'll look after you."
Brian fell asleep knowing that Justin would look after him, but who would look after Justin when this all blew up in his face?Return to Be Careful What You Wish For