It's Only Time - Gusmas Drabbles 2012
Warning: Lindsay and Melanie aren't exactly my favourite people which kind of comes across in this story.
Nov. 25: Red
Justin wonders if it was the legacy of a bat to the head that causes the tinge of red that often permeates his vision, or if it’s just a natural reaction to the fucked up idiocy he has to deal with everyday. Between Michael’s whining, Deb’s nagging, Mel’s bitching and Lindsay’s smug saccharine sweetness, he’s constantly seeing not just red, but scarlet and crimson and ruby and rose and every other fucking element in the red part of the spectrum.
But what annoys him most is the way that Brian just shrugs it all off as if it doesn’t matter.
Nov. 26: Life isn't fair
Because it does matter. Their fucking carry on hurts Brian and that matters, damn it! More than anything else, Justin hates the fact that Brian has been taught by life that it’s somehow okay when people hurt him – whether through stupidity or carelessness, lashing out or in plain cold deliberation. He hates with a passion the fact that while Brian readily accepts that he is going to have to pay to the last scruple for anything he fucks up, he also accepts that everyone else gets a free pass when their fuck ups cause him pain. It’s just not right.
Back when he’d been living in New York, Justin
had gone to see the revival of Les Miserables. Sometimes the attitudes of some
of their “friends” to Brian reminds him of the way Javert saw Jean Valjean. Mel
in particular has that same self-righteous certainty that she is always
absolutely right and Brian is always absolutely and completely in the wrong.
Justin tries not to hope that she’ll have the same cataclysmic awakening to her
own ‘wrongness’ as Javert had suffered.
Failing that, there are times when Justin is seriously tempted to slap her so hard she’d see stars, alright.
Nov. 28: "Here in town you can tell he's
been down for a while,
But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles..."
Lindsay has brought Gus to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. That’s a good news/ bad news thing. The good part is obvious; the bad is more complicated. It triggers a whine-a-thon monumental in both intensity and duration from Mikey and Deb because there’s no JR. But the worst part is that it lets them see first hand how unhappy Gus has been. It’s there in the shadows under his eyes and the too-thin look of his face. Even when his son’s smile (like Justin’s) lights up Brian’s world he knows in his heart that it’s a smile that doesn’t happen often enough.
Nov. 29: If at first you don't succeed...
Brian and Justin make yet another attempt to try to pry out of Lindsay what is really holding them in Toronto. It’s clear Gus isn’t happy there; Lindsay doesn’t seem all that happy herself and Mel has never stopped bitching about the fact that Canada won’t recognize her law degree (never mind that they have a completely different legal system), so why don’t they just come home? It’s not the first time they’ve had this conversation. It probably won’t be the last. They just have to keep hoping that sometime, against all previous patterns, Lindsay at least will see sense.
Nov. 30: Jet lag
In the end, Lindsay bursts into tears and blames it on jet lag; from a flight lasting less than ninety minutes. Justin isn’t having any. He’s tired of this bullshit. The women, including Molly are in the kitchen; the men (including Hunter, Drew and a reluctant Michael) are watching the game and Brian is occupied with Gus. Justin takes his opportunity and corners Lindsay in the bathroom to read her the riot act. If she won’t get her head out of her ass and come home, then they should at least let Gus come to see his father more often.
He’d like to tell her that if she and Mel
don’t stop whatever fucked up games they are playing with Gus’s life, he and
Brian will sue for custody, but it’s not yet time for burning bridges. He wants
to try to build them instead; or at least, to strengthen the sometimes tenuous
ones between Brian and the son he’s never been allowed to really claim as his.
Justin wonders how Gus feels about his father’s ‘guest appearances’ in his life.
He wonders if Gus knows that Brian is as hurt and frustrated by them as Justin
suspects Gus is.
Dec. 2: Such a shame
Not for the first time, Justin wants to shove something large, and preferably spiky, in Deb’s big fat mouth. “It’s such a shame,” she bemoans, “that Mel couldn’t come and bring JR.”
She pauses to glare at Brian, because of course it must be his fault, and seems oblivious to the fact that she’s not just making Lindsay feel uncomfortable, she’s clearly upsetting Gus. Justin wonders what it’s like to be that self-absorbed, to be so wrapped up in your own little view of the world that you’re completely oblivious to the effect your words and actions have on others.
Dec. 3: Mine and yours
He knows he’s not in any recognized sense Gus’s father. He doesn’t even have the tenuous claim that the blood bond gives Brian in the face of the legalese that Mel never fails to wave in their faces. But he and Brian really have reached the ‘what’s mine is yours’ stage; they have joint bank accounts, joint ownership of both the loft and Britin and their names are both on the papers for their cars. The only place they make a distinction between ‘mine’ and ‘yours' is in their work life. Brian owns Kinnetik, Justin has his increasingly profitable art.
Dec. 4: On the outside, looking in
Sometimes he feels like he’s on the outside looking in where the intricacies of Brian’s relationship with the women, and therefore with his son, are concerned. But that distance gives him, he feels, perspective. And that perspective shows him things which just aren’t healthy. Like the way Mel, now JR has come along, is only really interested in Gus when she can use him to piss off Brian. Justin suspects that’s the reason that Mel insisted on moving to Canada in the first place, and the reason that she refuses in the face of all logic, to come back home.
Dec. 5: Smells like snow
But meanwhile Gus is suffering, so when Justin finds him watching the weather channel, he takes the chance to see what he can do to try to explain to the boy who is older and taller now, but still just a child for all that, how much his father would love to see him more often but how difficult that is; without resorting to denigrating the poor kid’s mothers. But Gus is totally absorbed in the broadcast and when Justin hears the predictions of heavy snow storms for the Toronto region with the possibility of airport closures, he understands why.
Mel’s voice over the speaker phone reminds
Justin of an icy river: biting cold laced with rocky outcrops of pure spite.
She’s demanding that Linds and Gus take a train or a bus or fucking hitch-hike,
anything to get back to Toronto by Sunday evening. She must know this is fucking
stupid; that if the airport is closed, then road travel is out of the question
and going by train, supposing that the trains were running, would take over 12
hours from New York and first they’d have to get to New York. But rationality’s
never been Mel’s strong point.
Dec. 7: Losers
Justin has to quite literally bite his tongue to keep himself from screaming at Lindsay for trying to appease the stupid bitch. Fortunately the appeasement phase doesn’t last long and before he can quite get his head around it, Linds is biting back in typical passive-aggressive fashion suggesting that if Mel thinks it’s so easy she can come and get them.
That turns into water-works on both ends of the call, and Justin can only regret that Brian even allowed himself to be inveigled into a parenting trio with such a pair of losers. He fetches the tissues and waits.
Dec. 8: Just stay in and watch TV
So they’re stuck in Pittsburgh for a few extra days and Linds is driving the men-folk (Gus included) totally crazy. She doesn’t like to borrow the car because it’s such a long drive back to the city and the roads are slippery with ice. She doesn’t want to ride with Brian because he leaves too early and comes back too late. She doesn’t want to bother Justin just to drive her around. What can she do? In the end, Justin takes Gus to the skating rink down the road and leaves Linds with the widescreen TV and the remote control.
Dec. 9: The hand you were dealt
It’s the endless sighs and moans that get to Justin. He wonders if he was like that back in the day when he was besotted with a totally unfetterable Brian. He suspects he was, and in retrospect admires Brian’s restraint. He truly doesn’t understand Lindsay’s problem. If she doesn’t want to be with Mel, or is sick of being in Toronto, then she should just leave. She’s not a child, like Gus. When you’re a kid you’ve got no choice but to play the hand you’re dealt. When you’re an adult you get to make choices, shape your own life.
Dec. 10: The last one to know
It’s almost funny when it happens, when it finally dawns on Lindsay that Brian is, to all intents and purposes, a married man. She’s whining again (however refined, it’s still whining) about how far they live from the city and wondering how they get home from Babylon.
“Do you have a driver?” she asks. “Or do you stay at the loft?”
Brian just shrugs, but Justin enjoys answering, “Oh, we haven’t been to Babylon for ages. I think we went for Em’s birthday back in August, but probably not since then.”
He thinks her head is going to explode. Seriously.
Dec. 11: Do you wanna hold me?
The extra time has lessened some of the awkwardness between Gus and Brian. Brian is a very tactile person; he likes to touch. Even with Ted and Emmett, he’s always finding reasons to jostle them, giving little flips to Emmett’s fingers if they stray in Justin’s direction or muss Ted’s hair. But with Gus he’s been painfully self-conscious, all too aware that they’re almost strangers. But tonight Gus sits next to his father and nudges up against him. It really is like father, like son, because Gus is asking for a hug without ever being able to say the words.
Dec. 12: Torrential downpour
Justin wonders if Mel is going to totally lose it. The blizzard has moved on from Toronto, but here in Pittsburgh there’s a torrential downpour. It’s been coming down heavily for hours, not just rain, but sleet and hail. Flights are being canceled and it looks like Gus and Lindsay are going nowhere fast. In fact, Justin suspects that they may not even be able to get back to the city, because the road down the hill tends to flood when they get really heavy rain and even the Jeep may not make it through. The men-folk think it’s wonderful.
Dec. 13: You love me so much
Brian has tolerated all of Lindsay’s bitching, moaning and crying without response. He’s even put up with Mel’s frantic and frequent calls demanding if the weather is clearing. He’s suffered in silence the blame both women heap on him for luring Lindsay to Pittsburgh (as if he’s struck some devil’s bargain with the weather gods) and he doesn’t retaliate when Lindsay accuses him of always undermining her relationships.
It’s only when she starts on Justin that he bites back, vicious and implacable.
Lindsay can’t believe it’s happened and Justin suddenly feels like a schoolboy again.
“Brian Kinney gives a shit.”
Dec. 14: History repeats itself
They’ve just rescheduled the flights again when the door-bell rings. Justin remembers that he’d invited his agent to dinner. Brian and Gus are holed up in the media-room. After introducing Lindsay, Justin goes to see what he can serve.
He throws ingredients into a pan to simmer into some kind of sauce, puts on some pasta then heads back to entertain his guest.
There’s no sign of him; when Justin first hears the grunts and cries coming from the bathroom, for one moment his mind travels back to a time when that would have been Brian.
But Raymond is straight.
So the munchers’ relationship has pretty much
gone down in flames again. Seems like Lindsay met Raymond back in her gallery
days and there had always been some kind of attraction. Justin figures that
she’s the worst lesbian ever. From what he can tell, she’s been hot for far more
men than she has women; it’s the world’s worst kept secret that she’s always had
the hots for Brian.
He wonders what the fuck she’s going to do now.
But when he asks, all he gets are tears and the inevitable “you just don’t understand”.
Well, she’s right about that.
Dec. 16: Hanukkah
Justin almost wants to feel sorry for Mel. It’ll be Hanukah soon, which should be a time of quiet celebration and instead her world is falling apart and she doesn’t even really know it. But it’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who keeps interrupting every fucking meal with calls that wind up with her shrieking her frustration down the phone.
He wonders if Gus is missing all the ritual preparations of this time, but he doesn’t like to ask because that might just remind him and make him feel worse.
Meanwhile, Gus seems content just to be with them.
Dec. 17: Cars, trains, buses, and planes
Finally, the rain eases and they can forget buses and trains and just drive to the airport and get on a plane.
Brian doesn’t want Gus to go, but there isn’t anything he or Justin can do about it.
Justin tries to get Lindsay to commit to bringing Gus back for Christmas, but all she’ll say is that she and Mel have to “talk”.
Both of them try to keep it together for Gus, but the drive home is tense and as soon as they arrive Brian starts drinking. Justin wants to join him, but instead he calls a lawyer.
It’s that red tinge to the vision thing again.
The lawyer basically tells him that he doesn’t think there’s anything they can
do; which is just bullshit. There must be something. So Justin calls another.
And another. Then finally he calls the one he’s been avoiding. The one who has
the reputation as a hotshot, both in the courtroom and in the backroom. Brandon.
He knows Brian will likely go ballistic, but they can’t trust either of the women to behave rationally in this situation and for all they know Mel could just take off somewhere with both the kids.
Dec. 19: Somehow I always knew this would
Brandon gloats, of course; spouts some bullshit about he always knew Brian would come wanting something from him one day. But even Brian doesn’t give a shit about that because by the end of the day, Brandon has been in touch with a law firm in Toronto and they’ve filed an injunction in the Canadian courts to prevent Gus being removed from Toronto without Brian being advised of it and giving his consent.
They both know that Mel will go ballistic.
But in the end, it’s not Mel who causes them to almost lose their minds with worry.
Dec. 20: The gap between concept and
Brandon explains it as a ‘snafu’ – some kind of gap between when the injunction was filed and when notification was circulated. In that gap, Lindsay has taken Gus and apparently disappeared off the face of the earth.
Brandon’s investigators can’t find records of her catching a plane, a train or even a fucking bus.
But Mel swears that she’s left Toronto. She says Lindsay packed a couple of cases and told her that she was leaving Canada. Not that she was going home, just “leaving Canada”. That’s what scares them silly.
She could be anywhere. With Gus, with Brian’s son.
Dec. 21: Solstice
Solstice: shortest day, longest night. Well, it’s the longest night that either Brian or Justin has ever known; a dark night of the soul that lasts for over a week.
It ends, dawn beginning with a tiny splinter of light, when Gus calls.
They’re in New York.
With fucking Raymond.
Justin wants to kill him. Partly on his own behalf, but mainly so that Brian won’t have to. Gus needs to have one parent who’s not either crazy or in jail.
They get on a plane to confront Lindsay and her new lover.
And to bring Gus home for Christmas.
Dec. 22: "I wanna feel you from the inside"
It’s not that simple, of course. Nothing involving Lindsay is ever that simple, but she has a problem. Her current squeeze would infinitely prefer it if Gus wasn’t around.
While she is doing her best to play clinging mother of the year, Raymond keeps distracting her, stroking her neck and licking her ear. At one point Justin hears him murmur, “I wanna feel you from the inside” and nearly barfs.
He’s only saved from that when he catches Brian’s eye and the nausea turns to amusement.
It turns to something else later when Brian slithers those words into his ear.
Dec. 23: Bigger, brighter, better
Deb is still moaning about JR’s absence, Mikey is whining, Ben is being patient so loudly it echoes and Hunter is just being obnoxious. But as far as Emmett is concerned (aided and abetted, however reluctantly by Ted), with Gus in town, Christmas is going to be bigger, better, brighter than ever.
“Just trust me.”
They don’t really have a choice. It’s not like either of them know how to go about creating Christmas from scratch.
But before they know it there’s a house full of greenery, enough lights for a small town and a decorated tree complete with gifts.
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
To give her credit, Mel calls on Christmas Eve and manages not to upset Gus. Lindsay calls as well, but not till after nine and Gus has already gone to bed. It’s clear she’s been drinking and Brian refuses to wake his son to have him deal with a drunken mother. He’s done enough of that for both of them.
He hands the phone to Justin and goes to check on his son.
Justin tells her that if she wants to speak to Gus, she can call again in the morning when she’s sober. Then he switches off the phone.
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
His Mom and Molly put their own plans aside to help them celebrate Christmas with their son.
He suspects his Mom is mainly coming because she doesn’t trust him to do the whole turkey thing, but Justin’s smart enough to be grateful.
Anyway for him, the celebration is totally about the fact that he’s become a father.
He thinks that Gus’s card written “to my uther Dad” is the best Christmas present he’s ever going to get in his life.
Although he wonders what they teach kids in Canada and if he should be worried because his son can’t spell.
Dec. 26: Kwanzaa
Daphne visits with Kwanzaa gifts, and she totally gets it like he knew she would.
She squees over the card the way he’d wanted to but couldn’t, partly because he’d had to fight so hard not to burst into tears like some pathetic little faggot.
Then she hugs him and tells him that she thinks he’ll be like the coolest father ever – “except for Brian of course”.
Then she sits quiet for a while, holding his hand till she kisses his cheek and says, “I’m so happy for you, Jus.”
He hopes she knows how much that means to him.
Dec. 27: Fuck the phone
Brian has decided that if Lindsay wants to talk to Gus she can get her ass on a plane to Pittsburgh.
She’s called four times; three of them late at night after Gus had gone to bed, and once on Christmas Day when she made him cry because she’d said he couldn’t love her and have a good time at Christmas without her.
Justin isn’t going to forgive her for that one in a hurry, and apparently neither is Brian, so Britin has become a phone-free zone.
Lindsay isn’t happy, but for once she’s not the one calling the shots.
Dec. 28: Bed of roses
Of course, suddenly having a kid around on a full time basis is not a bed of roses.
They can’t sleep in. Someone has to get up and get Gus his breakfast and generally be there with him.
They can’t fuck anywhere, anywhen, the way they have ever since they’ve lived together.
Worst of all, they have to be parents all the fucking time. They have to watch their language and have regular meal times and not get drunk, or worse, wasted.
But if that’s the price to be paid for Gus’s smiles, and Brian’s, Justin figures it’s a bargain.
Dec. 29: Drunk and disorderly
While they’re behaving themselves so impeccably that it actually surprises Justin a little, Lindsay turns up on the doorstep at Kinnetik clearly having had one or five too many.
She starts with tears, but when they don’t win her any favors, becomes belligerent.
Fortunately, Ted takes charge. He’s talked with Justin over the Holidays and knows just what’s going on with the other blonde in Brian’s life.
Lindsay demands drunkenly that Brian be summoned to Kinnetik but leaves when Ted threatens to call the police.
He wonders if she’ll try to get to Britin and calls Brian just in case.
Dec. 30: It's only time
Later that day, Brandon calls. Lindsay’s lawyer wants to discuss a formal custody arrangement.
“She has a whole list of demands in return for ceding custody to you,” Brandon explains. “She wants a down-payment on an apartment in New York. She wants to see Gus every month. She wants this, she wants that. But basically, she wants a deal. From here on it’s just a matter of time.”
‘It’s only time,’ Justin thinks. That phrase has been lucky for them in the past.
They work out what they’re prepared to offer and leave it to Brandon to do the negotiations.
By the New Year, it’s pretty much settled.
Raymond has helped Lindsay get a job at a gallery in New York, and she’s buying a "bijou" apartment there, courtesy of Brian’s deep wallet.
Mel has also decided to return to the States but has found a job in Chicago, so she won’t be back in Pittsburgh. She’s accepted a down-payment on a small house in return for giving up any claims to Gus.
Justin thinks there are probably moral issues regarding “buying” a child, but while Gus and Brian are both smiling at him, he just doesn’t give a fuck.
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