Promise Not To Tell
Justin threw his leg over Brian the way he did most nights
when they were ready to fall asleep, spooning himself and his spent, semisoft
dick closely against his backside. Sighing contently into his pillow, an equally
spent Brian felt the arms of an angel tightening around him. To live without
them, he soundly concluded, would surely be hell.
Soon condemned to that fiery fate by his own mother, Brian quietly chose to show mercy on the one person who'd spared no mercy for him, his maverick character indelibly infused with a decency upon which all else rested. Living hard and playing harder, the enigma of a man shared his joyride through life with his cherub-faced boyfriend, few grasping the vastness of his heart or the complexities of his soul.
He liked it that way.
"I haven't seen Brian," Emmett remarked, searching high and
low across a jam-packed Babylon for the MIA. He hadn't been conspicuously
traduced in at least a week, now.
"He's with Justin," Michael dramatized. "It's date night!"
The Liberty Baths, out on the seamier end of Liberty Avenue,
provided a welcome diversion from the more familiar breeding ground of Babylon's
back room: different setting, different guys, different kink.
Brian knelt behind his trick and asked himself why he didn't do it doggie style more often, only one enhancement missing from the better than average fuck. The gold cross dangling from his doggie's neck, he turned his face sideways, reading in Justin's eyes that he wanted it, too. Wearing matching expressions that tattled on their utopian world, the virile duo leaned their upper bodies toward each other and started to kiss.
Justin's trick, down on all fours beside Brian's, lurched under him.
"I tell you, Brian, she's driving me out of my mind since
"Why don't you kill her?" Brian reclined comfortably in his contoured leather chaise, his sister flitting about the loft anxiously. "No jury on earth would convict you. They've got mothers of their own."
"She's your mother, too. You can't just stick me with her."
"It's worked so far." Checking the time, he wished to fuck she'd get the hell out and that Justin would get home from his class.
"Well, not anymore. Either you help me out or, I swear, she's yours. All yours!"
He didn't bother to get up when Claire collected her bratty sons, herding them out of the loft. Why couldn't humans just fall to earth from the sky with no family connections?
Showing up at his mom's house the next Sunday morning, Brian
encountered a slightly tipsy, well dressed woman. She was grayer than he
remembered, yet some things never changed. "Isn't it a little early for that?"
He nodded at the cordial of sherry she'd plopped on the counter.
"It's just something to calm my nerves. When was the last time I saw you?"
She thought back a few months. "You stayed for an hour. Brought me flowers." Tipping her sherry, she neatly polished it off. "We better go. We don't want to be late."
"Church. Claire said you'd take me."
"I never said that."
"We have this wonderful new minister. Are you coming?" she asked impatiently.
"Well, that's fine. I don't need you to take me. I can get there myself." When Joan Kinney walked over to the kitchen table to get her purse, the chair she stumbled into screeched across her freshly waxed floor, her son contemplating how much time he'd do for strangling his sister.
Brian could hardly recall the last time he'd set foot inside
of St. Cecelia's Catholic Church. It must have been as a young boy, he guessed,
when his mother was still dragging her two children with her to mass every
Sunday. Following her into a pew near the front of the nave, they stood with the
rest of the congregation for the opening procession of the priest to the altar.
If there's one immutable truth to be told of Brian Kinney thus far into his life, it's that he undoubtedly erases the memory of his insignificant tricks as soon as they've served their purpose - unless they come back in the form of Spiritual Leader. Then, he remembers every lip-smacking tidbit. He glanced over at his mom as they sat back down for the first reading. She was so devout.
"Wasn't he wonderful? I want you to come and say hello." Joan had taken Brian's arm as they'd filed out of the church. "I've told him all about you. How successful and good-looking you are. He's just dying to meet you."
"I bet he is," Brian deadpanned, he and his mom waiting their turn to speak to the relatively young, attractive clergyman.
"Brian, this is Reverend Tom Butterfield," Joan finally made the introduction, the priest clasping her hand and greeting her warmly.
"Reverend Butterfield." Brian beamed his gorgeous smile. "My mother's told me so much about you," he wisecracked, extending his hand toward Almost Forgotten Trick. "It's uncanny. I feel as if we've already met."
"Oh, there's Ruth. Excuse me for a minute." Leaving him alone with Bathhouse Frequenting Minister, Joan wandered off to catch up with her friend.
"Great service," Brian said to his uncomfortable new acquaintance.
"I'm glad you enjoyed it." Reverend Tom had spent long hours on his sermon.
"I meant at the baths."
That's what Reverend Tom thought he'd meant. "I'd appreciate it if you'd keep this between us," he said under his breath.
"You think I'm gonna tell my mom? She doesn't even know I'm gay." Brian took his cigarettes and lighter from the pocket of his leather jacket. He didn't lower his voice but, luckily for the priest, no one else was waiting to speak to him. "And I haven't talked to your boss in years. So, don't worry, Rev," he joked. "Your secret's safe with me."
Not only did Joan Kinney possess no knowledge of her son's
private life, but her husband had also been in the dark until shortly before his
death the previous year. Brian had made the disclosure to his father in person
for the sake of - of - exactly what, he hadn't been sure, but it had just seemed
wrong to let the man die in peace.
His mother could have retained her blessed ignorance for years to come, if only she'd left well enough alone. But what did she decide to do that Sunday afternoon? She decided to bake.
"So, you fucked your mother's minister?" Melanie reiterated,
Brian regaling the brunch set with his unbelievable story. He, Justin, Emmett,
and Ted had all been invited to sample Lindsay's considerable culinary talents.
"Uh huh! You should have seen it! It was totally hot!" Justin piped up, chomping on a piece of bacon.
It was the type of tale Ted would have loved to have heard, but he missed it. He was standing outside on the front porch.
"Oh, that's me!" Emmett giggled, his phone vibrating in his pocket. "Teddy? Where are you? What do you mean, you're on the front porch? What do you mean, you can't come in?"
"Just come out like you're gonna check on the weather," Ted whispered into his phone. "But don't let the others come with you!" At this point, he hadn't even needed his phone, seeing as how the door had been swung open and five and a half people were staring directly at him. (Melanie balanced Baby Gus firmly on her hip.)
Wrapped in his beige trench coat, sporting a serious tenting problem, he was a bit overdressed for the mild spring day. "I took your Viagra last night!" he announced to Emmett, clearly distraught. "It's been eighteen hours and it won't go down! You said it would last for a couple of hours! What am I gonna do?"
Ted's friends fought amongst themselves, laughing, for an unobstructed view of his catastrophe. They offered what help they could.
"Have you tried soaking it?" Emmett asked.
"How about a cold shower?" Lindsay came up with.
"How about scaring it?" Brian suggested.
Justin eyed his whacked out boyfriend. "That's hiccups." You moron, he thought.
"Boo!" Brian shouted at Ted's problem.
"Thank you all for caring." Ted shook his head, a healthy dose of panic setting in. "I've gotta do something!" Yanking the bottle of pills from his pocket, he handed it off to the nearest person, as if getting rid of it was his magic solution.
Justin was now its new owner.
"What about something that would absolutely turn you off?" Melanie asked.
"That's a great idea!" Brian ran with it. "Why don't you two show him your tits?" He stared at Lindsay and Melanie.
"Brian!" they yelled at him in unison.
Justin held up the vial of pills, peering into it. "Maybe you should take some," he said to Brian. "Our sex life isn't what it used to be."
Everyone lost interest in Ted, transferring his or her focus onto Justin.
"Well, we're down to like four times a day," he explained.
Emmett went with Ted to seek medical attention, the rest of the insanity traipsing back inside. The food was cold, yet Justin finished his before helping Lindsay clear the table.
Picking up his glass of orange juice and the pill bottle Justin had left near his plate, Brian was curious. He'd never needed any supplemental help before, and didn't then, but he'd always been game for something new. Popping a couple of the infamous little blue pills - it might have been more than two - he wondered what effect they'd have on him.
Thirty minutes later, he gave Justin The Look. It was time to go.
"I can't believe you're . . . fucking me . . . again!" Justin
managed to utter between impacts, his heels over his head and his arms clinging
onto Brian's body for dear life.
Brian simpered at his boyfriend. "Well it was your . . . idea . . . to steal . . . Ted's . . . VIAGRA!"
Head and shoulders shooting up from the pillow, Justin crushed Brian to himself upon explosion. Frozen in euphoria, they held each other tightly - until they were rudely jarred by a knock at the door.
Brian relaxed his tense muscles, lying down on Justin's chest. Slipping his legs from Brian's shoulders, Justin slowly straightened them out, lovingly caressing his back with his fingertips.
"Are you gonna answer it?" he wondered, another knock interrupting their private moment.
"They'll go away." Brian willed it so. When the pounding on his door became louder and more aggressive, he dragged himself out of bed, throwing on a pair of flimsy sweatpants. Not bothering with shoes or a shirt, he again gave Justin The Look. "Don't go anywhere."
Justin wondered what the hell was in those pills.
"Mom." Only sliding his door open about a foot, Brian had planned to hastily turn away whomever the intruder might be.
"I'm sorry. Is this a bad time? I baked your favorite . . . chocolate chocolate chip." Betty Crocker's arms were weighted down with her large homemade cake, going in the only plan on her mind.
Brian, who couldn't wait to get back to his real favorite in the bedroom, sighed with profound anxiety, reluctantly opening his door all the way. He watched as his mom marched into his kitchen.
"It's just my way of saying thank you for going with me to church."
"Yeah. Let's do it again," he retorted, dripping with enough sarcasm to choke a horse. "Soon."
The chocolate chocolate chip cake was placed carefully onto his breakfast bar. "I know you don't mean that. I probably won't see you again for another six months." Joan Kinney looked to her son and awaited his assurance that nothing could be further from the truth, his kitchen growing so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
A liar he could never be called.
And then - the dead silence was perforated by a third voice. "Brian? Are you coming back?"
Brian's mom looked toward the sound of the voice. "I didn't know there was someone else here."
Justin hobbled down the bedroom stairs, barefoot and shirtless as well, having haphazardly thrown on his own pair of gray sweatpants. His ass felt as if it were on fire; he could have sworn Brian's Viagra-hardened cock was still shoved up there. Padding toward the kitchen, he didn't even realize that his fingers gingerly picked at his wedgie.
He stopped on a dime when he spotted their visitor.
Becoming rather nauseous, Brian procrastinated for as long as possible. "J - Justin," he let out a long breath he'd been holding unconsciously, "this is my mother. Mom - this is Justin." He looked her in the eye as he faced the music.
Justin raised a hand awkwardly in a stunted sort of a wave. "Hi," he said, like the courteous young man he'd been raised to be.
Joan Kinney stared at a disheveled blond teenager and then back at her rumpled son: hair tousled, bare-chested, athletic pants slung low on his slender hips. Reality hit her with blunt force.
Walking out of Brian's loft without a word to either of them, she leaned heavily on the elevator button, closing her eyes against both her tears and the indelicate situation. She would have given everything she owned to have been anywhere else in the world at that particular time than where she was.
"What? You're not going to talk to me?" Brian had followed, lingering in his open doorway, needling her just seeming to be mandatory right then.
Still jamming her finger into the button with her back to him, she quietly revealed her stance. "I hope you know it's a sin."
"That I fuck guys, or that I didn't tell you?"
A suddenly weary woman raised the slatted side of the elevator and stepped inside, Brian's irreverence giving her the strength to turn and face him. "You can make all the jokes you want." Her somber expression was scary. "The bible makes it clear. You're going to hell."
They went to Woody's instead.
Emmett and Ted were already there. Michael walked in and joined them, the five musketeers drinking their beers and listening to people sing karaoke badly.
"I need a stiff one," Ted announced, a horrendously sour note resounding throughout the bar. Picking up his beer bottle, he rolled his eyes when his four friends checked out his lap. "Not that kind!" he snapped at them.
Emmett patted him on the back reassuringly. "You heard the doctor. It'll go down."
"Mine did," Brian stated dryly.
"Yeah. Thanks to your mom." Justin narrated the disconcerting yarn in minute detail.
Emmett laughed at the mental picture. "She just needs time to get used to the fact that her baby boy fucks guys!"
"Don't worry," Michael consoled. "God still loves you, no matter what."
Brian killed his third beer, lining the bottle up with the others. "Like I give a fuck what God thinks about me," he said offhandedly. "He better be worried what I think about Him. In all this cold, dead universe, we're the only ones who know He exists. Without us, He's nothin'."
Halfway through the next week, the incongruity of it all drove Brian back
to his mother's spiritual leader. "Hello, Rev," his voice echoed through the
empty church from his pew up toward the altar, where Reverend Tom had appeared
to collect his notes from the lectern. "I just came in for a few minutes of
"Well, don't let me disturb you."
"You see, I have this terrible burden," he confessed, fully intending to disturb Reverend Tom.
"And what is that?"
Rising from his seat, Brian walked toward the priest. "My mother recently discovered that I'm a homosexual, and she thinks I'm going to hell." He stepped up onto the altar, facing a human being to whom he felt equal.
"That is a problem," Reverend Tom acknowledged.
"But what she doesn't know is that so's her minister," Brian cut him down to size. "What would she say if she knew her man of God was at the baths, down on all fours, taking me up the ass?"
"I spend time with your mother now that she's alone," Joan Kinney's man of God interjected quickly, desperate to curtail his foulmouthed troublemaker. "I try to offer her comfort."
"By telling her that I'm going to burn in hell?" Brian was irate.
"I don't teach that lesson." The reverend shook his head from side to side. "I teach love. I teach truth."
"The truth is you're a liar!"
Reverend Tom now spoke through clenched teeth, making a concerted effort to tamp down his temper. "Brian, if you want to betray me - if that's what you need to do - then you do it." His forefinger waved back and forth in front of Brian's face. "But I know who I have to answer to, and it's not you." He'd done a pretty respectable job of controlling himself so far.
"Now get the fuck out of my church!"
Hey, even priests lose it now and again.
It wasn't so much that he needed to betray anyone; it was just that his
mom needed to know the truth. How faithful would she be once she learned her
favorite priest would be carpooling to hell with her son?
Waiting a few more days, Brian decided it was time, finding her in the most likely place: kneeling in private prayer in an empty St. Cecelia's Catholic Church.
"Mom," he interrupted her, mid-Hail Mary.
She looked none too happy to see her sinning son. "What is it, Brian? I'm praying."
"For my soul?" The irony made him ill.
"I always include you in my prayers. I hope you've come to ask for forgiveness." Joan sat back in the pew, surprised to see him joining her. "It's the only way."
"Not exactly." Brian took in the large wooden crucifix on the altar - Jesus, dying on the cross for his sins. He knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that his inherent nature wasn't one of them.
"You've always thought you were so clever," Joan preached, her eyes fixed firmly straight ahead. "Well, all the cleverness in the world isn't going to help you."
"Save it, Mom, for your fag-free afterlife."
"Go ahead. Mock me. Mock my faith. You're just like your father. He used to mock me, too," she said, reflecting on her long joyless marriage and the sot who'd caused her years of misery. "Well, it's hard to love a man who's never given you a kind word in thirty years. Who'd rather spend his time drinking with his friends than with me. Who never cared about his family." Brian's mother finally turned her head, confronting him directly. "Who never wanted me to have you," she tacked on hurtfully.
"I know the story." The degree of dysfunction with which he'd grown up affected every aspect of his adult life and was not unknown by Justin, yet Brian learned more that day about his snarled roots than he ever cared to know. Once she'd begun, his mother was like a bubbling spring who couldn't be stemmed.
"You may have heard the story," she went on, "but you don't know it. You don't know how I had to put up with the abuse. How I had to protect you from him. How I had to let him hit me instead of you."
"I don't want to hear that."
"Of course not. Because you're selfish."
Another sin he knew from the bottom of his heart was not his. "That's not true."
It's shocking just how little a mother can know about her own son. Would a selfish person withhold the information he'd come to disseminate that day?
"I could never count on your father, but there is someone I can count on. No matter what."
"Let me guess. Reverend Tom?"
"God. God will always be there for me. God will never let me down. Who can you say that about?"
Let's see. The angelic figure who'd never let Brian down? Who was never far from his thoughts or his heart at any given hour of the day or night? Without whom it was growing increasingly tougher to imagine his life? It's safe to say that Brian's angel had accompanied him to the crossroads at which he'd just arrived, and that the counterpart to his mother's omnipresent God had definitely factored in to her getting to keep Him.
All he knew - sitting there on that hard backed bench beside his God-fearing mother, not taking Him from her - was that he was doing the right thing.
Joan Kinney's God smiled down upon her homosexual son. He cared what Brian thought of Him.
"Two double Jim Beams."
"Coming up." Babylon's bartender reached overhead, grabbing two tumblers.
Brian went for his wallet, desiring nothing more than to get back to his angel out on the overcrowded dance floor. He'd grinned when Justin had requested that he return from the bar with doubles, giving in to the notion that he liked to make him happy whenever possible.
"Let me get that."
Turning toward the sound of a familiar voice, Brian found Reverend Tom Butterfield smiling up at him from a nearby bar stool. "That's a first," he didn't miss a beat. "A clergyman buying someone else a drink."
"Your mother tells me you paid her a visit," Reverend Tom casually brought up, his downright jovial spirit screaming out to Brian as needing to be rectified. Immediately.
"Yeah, well, not for the reason you think."
"Whatever the reason, thank you."
"Not saying anything."
Brian didn't want him to get the wrong idea. "I didn't do it for you."
Reverend Tom already knew that. "You're a good son."
"Promise not to tell?" Brian took his two double Jim Beams from the bartender, Tom Butterfield feeling an attraction to the handsome, humorous, channel of the Lord. He looked out onto the dance floor at Justin, who was bopping up and down and throwing his arms about in time to the hypnotic thumpa-thumpa. "Now, if you'll excuse me," he quipped with a nod in his boyfriend's direction, "I'm going to hell."
Joan Kinney's man of God tracked Brian as he wove his way through scores of gyrating bodies with a drink in either hand, noting when he'd stopped in front of his adorable boyfriend. Watching them clink their glasses together before draining them dry, he got a kick out of said adorable boyfriend affectionately dabbing at the front of Brian's neck where a few drops of whiskey had spilled. Obviously, they had a beautiful bond.
Lifting his face upward, Reverend Tom couldn't help from indulging in a bit of introspection. Divine intervention couldn't have made his thoughts any clearer. How could a loving, committed relationship between two males be considered immoral, or worse yet, guarantee eternal damnation?
He'd never felt more strongly that when his judgment day arrived, his God would smile upon him, too.
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