Complications of the Mind
Brian tensed as he walked into the hospital with Justin. It wasn't the first time he'd been in the hospital since the incident but it still caused a slight burn in the pit of his stomach, followed by the rattling of nerves. He saw his sister at the registration desk with her two sons and reluctantly left Justin's side to go join her. A hero's job is never done, he thought wryly.
He approached as the clerk looked up and asked him his relationship to the two kids. "I'm their maternal uncle," he said, glancing at Claire. "Brian Kinney." She nodded, handed Claire some paperwork to fill out, and then made a notation before handing the boys two medical bracelets with their names, time, date and social security numbers. Claire and the boys took a seat across the aisle from Brian and Brian sat down next to Justin.
"You okay?" he asked quietly. Brian looked far away, like he was lost in another time and place. For all Justin knew he was. He took Brian's hand and waited tensely as he saw an older man look at them with a scowl on his face and then pointedly look away.
"I just wish the universe would stop fucking with me and mine," Brian responded. "It's enlightening to see Claire pulled out of self-denial but I wish it didn't have to come at the cost of the boys." He shook his head and looked down at stained linoleum. He hated this.
For the moment, LA and their own problems were forgotten in light of the trials of his nephews. His thoughts were focused on the plight of his nephews. "It'll be okay," Justin attempted to reassure him.
"I wish I had your faith, Sunshine. But I don't and I've been smacked down too many times to believe in happy endings."
Justin started to say, "What about us?" but saw the bleak expression in his lover's eyes and knew now wasn't the time.
They sat there in companionable silence until Brian heard the names of his nephews called. Claire glanced back at him as she walked with the two boys into triage. It was a few minutes later that she returned and spoke directly to Brian. "They recommended that a man go in with the boys, thought they might be more comfortable with you than me. Do you mind?"
Brian shook his head. He'd known this would probably happen and he'd been prepared for the inevitability. "Are they okay?"
She shook her head and began to cry silently. "They're a little shaken up, of course, and blame themselves. I feel like such a failure, Brian. How could I have not known this was happening to my kids?"
Now wasn't the time for self-pity, he thought, but he could still feel a twinge of compassion for his sister. He took her hand and said, "Claire, it'll be okay. The boys will be fine. They need you to be strong, not lose it." Left unsaid was like she had done at their dad's wake.
Justin watched Brian disappear into the swinging doors of the emergency section and was surprised when Claire opted to sit next to him. "I can't believe how calm he's been throughout this," she said. "I'm a nervous wreck."
Complete with hand-wringing, Justin thought as he watched her. "Want me to get you some coffee?" he asked, not quite sure how to deal with Brian's sister. Their few encounters had led to bitter comments, accusations, and recriminations. He had no wish to cross swords with her now.
"I'm fine, thank you. Justin, is he always like this? So cool, calm, and rational?"
He smiled slightly. It was amazing and more than a little sad how little Brian's sister knew about her own brother. "Yeah, usually," he responded. "He lets down the emotional barrier sometimes. It's just that he's been taught over the years that showing emotions was a sign of weakness."
"Our father's legacy," she said quietly. "Brian always was the child who succeeded. Great grades, good looks, success in sports, and other things." She realized belatedly that she sounded jealous of her younger brother. But it was true that Brian had inherited all the things she lacked, including a loyal and loving partner, it seemed.
Justin wondered briefly if this would force a sort of uneasy détente between brother and sister. With John, Sr. out of the picture, there was certainly a lack of positive male influences in John and Peter's lives. They could do worse than having Brian at their back but that was assuming he'd even want any further involvement. "It hasn't all been easy, Claire. He's gone through a lot of shit, a lot of it with me."
Claire thought about that for a moment, remembered reading an article about the young man who'd survived a vicious attack at his prom, and said, "But somehow you ended up back together. Brian has you. I don't pretend to understand my brother's lifestyle but I'd rather see him happy than miserable. I guess you probably don't believe that but it's true. I don't hate him. I've just spent a lot of years envious, watching him from the periphery, because he's never allowed me to get close. I watched him get all these accolades and money and I'm sitting there struggling to feed myself and my two kids." She paused, suddenly seeing how she must sound to Justin. It certainly wasn't a very Christian attitude, she thought.
"He's been lucky," Justin said, reluctant to say anything more. He was never sure how much he could trust Claire and since Brian didn't seem to trust her any farther than he could throw her, he became silent again. He wished he had a sketchpad or something but he'd forgotten to grab anything on their hasty departure from the loft. More important things had been on their mind.
Claire started to respond to his comment when they saw Brian emerge. She stood and went to meet him. "Are they okay?"
Brian's face hardened as he looked at his sister. Such a stupid fucking question, he thought bitterly. Of course they aren't okay. He wasn't sure they'd ever be okay again. "It appears as though there was some trauma to John's anus. It appears to have been stretched and anal intercourse was definitely involved. Claire, he's been abused and over a period of time."
Feeling another surge of guilt, Claire did what she did best. She lashed out at him. "I guess you'd know."
Brian started to snap back at her and then remembered this had to be difficult for her as well. A demonstrable example of her failure as a mother; a legacy passed down by Joan. "Yes, I do know. I know that Peter's lucky. There don't appear to be any signs of anal intercourse. So he was lucky, Claire. I'd be more concerned about John if I were you. The kid's been through hell and he needs his mother, not another fucking martyr to the Catholic Church. Whatever you do, you need to make damn sure that it's clear to him that you don't see this as his fault. He's a victim not the reason."
Claire took a deep breath and looked at her brother. "Brian, I'm sorry." The words sounded hollow even to her but she had to make the attempt. Brian was wary. His sister could be a wolf in sheep's clothing. "I didn't know. It's not as if the boys ever want to talk to me. They're always closeted up in their rooms. Can I go in now?"
"Yeah. The cops and CPS have been called. They'll take a statement from you and then from the boys."
"What about you?"
Taking a deep breath, he slowly exhaled. "If the cops want to take my statement, I'll go downtown tomorrow. With legal counsel."
It only took a moment for the implications of his comment to register with Claire and she had the grace to look apologetic. "I know you didn't do this to them," she said. "You haven't had any contact with them for over a year. There is no way you could have been involved in this. I'll make that clear to the police officers."
"Justin and I are going to get out of here. He hates hospitals more than I do."
She smiled and said, "You're lucky to have him. He seems to be a great guy."
Brian nodded. "If you need me call me on my cell phone."
They were silent as they got into the car and it was only when he'd pulled out onto the main feeder road that Brian spoke quietly. "You know how I got pissed at you for saying the coach raped me when I was fourteen?"
"Yeah, you were furious when Miranda suggested the same thing. You insisted that it was consensual."
Brian stopped at a red light, noticing an empty parking lot for a Super Foods up ahead. He cruised through the green light and then turned into the parking lot. He put the car in park, turned off the engine, and turned to Justin. "I think you were right. It didn't matter that I was the aggressor, he was still the adult. He could have put the brakes on after I blew him but he didn't. Instead, he played on my sexual naivete and my need for attention and used that to begin a sexual relationship with me. A relationship I later found I didn't really want." He began to idly rub his right wrist, and Justin reached out to gently still his motions, feeling the fine hairs on the wrist. He was surprised when Brian pulled him against him, the gear shift digging into his belly. Brian buried his nose in Justin's hair as he held him. They sat there for a few minutes until Brian regained his composure. He pulled away and said ruefully, "God, I'm so fucked up. Why are you with me?"
It was an oft-asked question and Justin let the silence answer for him. He hoped that his mere presence would be enough of a comfort for Brian. As Brian eased out into the main street again, he flipped on the CD player and was surprised when he heard Frank Sinatra pouring out of the speakers. Learn something new every day, he thought. "I didn't know you liked Ole Blue Eyes."
"When you left I listened to a lot of Sinatra," he admitted. "I had a hard time. And there's something about his voice that is soothing. It goes without saying that you are not to breathe a word of this to the guys or I'll tie your balls up."
It made him feel better that Brian was able to tease him. Then he considered that for a moment and wondered if he was in fact teasing. Promises, promises. "I'll file it away."
Brian slanted a look in Justin's direction and asked, "Doesn't it bother you that I kept the reality of that experience buried and denied it for so long?"
He shook his head as another song began. "You needed time to accept the experience."
"I'll never have your patience. I guess I hated the thought that something like that could ever happen to me regardless of whether or not I was the instigator."
"You were fourteen, Brian. Cut yourself a break. You were a horny teenager and an adult took advantage of you."
"You were seventeen," he pointed out, "and an equally horny adult took advantage of you."
Intensely frustrated by the idea that Brian, on any level, still felt that way about their first time, Justin said, "I think we wore each other out that night. Our experience doesn't compare to yours or your nephews. What we did that night and the nights following was completely consensual. You blew my world apart that night."
"I think I blew a little more than your world that night," he said with a smile. "I get your point. Our lives changed that night."
He turned onto Fuller and Justin asked, "Do you ever think about that night?"
Brian was startled by the question. He nodded as he pulled into the parking place. It took him a moment to gather his thoughts and recover his composure enough to answer without feeling like a sappy fool. "Yeah, I do. I remember turning to you in the hospital and asking you what you thought about Abraham. I was so fucking relieved when you said that you liked the name Gus. It should have hit me then that you were different. That what I felt with you was different. Why do you ask?"
"Just because I felt like I'd seen the face of God that night. I said something to Daphne about it. I can't believe nearly four years have passed. In October," he pointed out that little fact.
"Buttering me up for an anniversary gift?" Brian asked, opening the door to the loft. He'd become accustomed to doing small things for Justin, deriving great pleasure from seeing the look of anticipation on his face. And then that smile, well that smile did things to him that he'd never imagined possible. He'd miss that smile, he realized, unaware that his expression subtly transformed as it did when he was deep in thought.
The first thing they noticed was that the loft was suspiciously empty. Of course, the absence of a certain redhead and a little boy could have been the first clue. "What the fuck?!" Brian asked, as Justin calmly went to the counter and picked up a piece of legal paper.
"Calm down. Deb left us a note. She said Mini-Me woke up and was upset. She took him home with her. She says that she has a rare day off tomorrow and one of us can pick him up in the morning."
Brian felt his heart-rate settle as he heard that. Then he looked at Justin and offered a cocky smile, his intent as clear as if he were wearing a sign that read, "We can fuck now!" Brian leered at him suggestively and Justin asked, a little surprised, "You're horny?"
"Always," he quipped. "Never enough." He gauged the expression on the blond's face and asked, "What, you'd rather sleep?"
A little ashamed and more than a little irritated, Justin nodded. "I'm a little tired, " he admitted honestly.
"Justin Taylor turning down sex. I can't believe it!"
"Fuck you, Brian."
"I was trying to," he responded patiently. "But if you're not in the mood-" he let his voice trail off.
"It's not that. It's just that it's been an emotional day. I always want you, you know that. But can't we just be close tonight?"
"You want cuddling?"
Justin knew he probably looked like a child to Brian but it wasn't a crime to want tenderness from his lover and whether Brian admitted it or not, sometimes he was the one who needed it. So why the hell was he giving him shit for it now? "Forget it, Brian. Let's just go to sleep." He wasn't quite sure where his sudden dark mood had come from but knew it wasn't fair to blame it on Brian.
Cutting his eyes at the emotional blond, Brian thought he understood where he was coming from. Still it bothered him that Justin was caught up in his emotional entanglements. "Sunshine," he began. "You can't fix the problems of my past. You weren't the one who caused me to have these fucking problems. I go see Miranda so she can help me to deal with them. Through her, I'm learning to become a better person and how to handle it constructively when I think I can't."
"I wish you'd come to me. I wish you'd trust me with some of those secrets and memories. I'm not going to use them against you."
Brian didn't necessarily believe that. "I need someone to talk to when you're not around!" Startled by the force of his own emotions, he walked up the stairs to their bedroom and bodily turned Justin to face him. "You're leaving, Justin. I'm fucked up and I won't have you to lean on. Michael's going through something and he's not very supportive right now. You can't blame me for wanting to have one safe emotional outlet, one person who isn't secretly or openly in love with me. You view me a certain way and that casts everything we do together in a certain light. Don't take it so goddamn personally. I don't shut down to hurt you."
"Enough emotional drama. I'm calling time," Justin said. He looked at Brian and said deliberately, "I'm not rejecting you, Brian."
"I know, drama princess. I keep thinking about what's going to happen four weeks from now. You're going off to have your own experiences and adventures and it's our first separation since we got back together. And I'm not counting the break after my surgery."
"A lot of people have bi-coastal relationships, Bri."
"Those people aren't us, Justin. I don't begrudge you this opportunity. I think it's fucking fabulous that it was offered to you at such a young age. Can you understand why this might be difficult for me?" He absolutely hated being so nakedly vulnerable with Justin but he felt that he had to say this to him.
"It's not easy for me either, Brian. You think it won't be difficult for me to walk down that runway away from you? I feel like I'm tearing my heart out, that I'm cutting each individual artery one by one. We can make this work. And no cliffs in sight."
"No, kiddo, we have to make this work," he said quietly. "The price if we don't is too high for either of us to pay it."
Justin stared at him in silence, the implications of Brian's words coming in fast and hard. He'd never been so scared in his life, not even when he had put the trigger into Chris Hobbs' mouth.
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