Shit, it’s been a hard week. By the time I get home Friday night I’m exhausted. I really hadn’t needed the hassles I’d had on the way home. I hope Brian’s here. Or maybe not. Maybe I need a bit of time to get myself together.
I suppose he’s going to want to go to Babylon tonight. Fuck!
I am so tired. I just need some down time, especially after this afternoon. But if I don’t go …
He’s promised ‘never when I’m around’. But if I don’t go tonight, and he has a few drinks, and probably even a bump or two, there is no way that he’s going to … or rather not going to …
It’s stupid. I don’t really mind him tricking. I don’t. But just knowing that it’s been two weeks now since he’s been with anyone else … it means something to me.
Tough shit, Justin. If you go out tonight, you’re going to be wrecked tomorrow. And you are so going to have to study this weekend. Which is okay, because Brian is probably going to be working as well.
At least I know that I can safely walk into the loft without having to check for tricks first. That’s not a small thing to me. I pull back the door, which isn’t locked, so hopefully Brian’s home.
He’s home alright, standing in the middle of the room, right there with the guy in the tight tee and the jeans worn in all the right places.
I nearly lose it. Vaguely, I take in the boxes piled on the floor, but I’m too intent on my mission to heave that intruder’s ass out of here and have it out with Brian. A week! It’s been a fucking week since he made that promise, and I …
I feel my allergies attack. On top of this afternoon’s adventure it’s just too much. Then Brian looks up and sees me.
“Fuck! What happened to you?”
I’d hoped he’d be here. I needed him. But …
Then the guy turns round and my gaydar goes peung! and I realize that he’s a total breeder. I see the clipboard in his hand and realize he’s just here to deliver whatever’s in those boxes. . By the look on his face as Brian comes to me, he’s also a fucking fag hater, which is the last thing I need right now.
Then Brian’s arms are around me and suddenly the world looks a lot better, and feels a lot safer.
“It’s nothing. I’m okay.”
I don’t want to go into it. Not right now. Not with that guy in the room glaring at us with contempt.
Brian turns and catches the guy’s look. For a moment he’s silent, then he steps in front of me protectively.
“You’ve got a problem?”
The guy looks at him for a moment, and starts to sneer. Then he really looks at him, at his taut body, and his height and reach, and thinks better of it. He shrugs.
“I just need to get this signed and I can get out of here.”
“Not yet, you can’t. I paid to have this lot installed as well as delivered.”
“Well, I don’t have time. I’ve got other deliveries to make. Maybe tomorrow someone can come out and …”
Brian steps towards him and his voice goes very quiet.
“You set it up, and get it all working to my satisfaction or you can take it away and explain to your boss why you lost the sale. While I go to another company that will do what’s agreed.”
He paused for a moment to let that sink in.
The guy heaves this great put upon sigh, and starts ripping open the boxes.
“Where do you want it all to go?”
“Over there - all the connections you need are along that wall. Now you get on with it, while I look after my partner.”
The guy gives some sort of snort at the word, and I nearly choke.
Then Brian is touching my face. He seems to realize that I don’t want to get in to it while the guy is only a few feet away, because he ushers me up the steps and into the bathroom.
Brian props me against the sink, and opens the medicine cabinet.
“Brian, I don’t need anything. I’m fine.”
“What happened?” His voice is soft and his hands are so gentle as they undo my jacket and help me ease it off.
“Just a bit of pushing and shoving. Nothing really.”
To my horror, I hear my voice waver.
Brian just nods.
Gently, he checks me over. I have a bruise and a red scrape on my face where it hit the wall, and sundry other bruises on my ribs. He gets out some antiseptic and bathes the scrape, then puts something on it which stings a little at first, but then feels cool and soothing.
“No headache?” he asks. I shake my head.
Then he notices my hands. I have cuts and grazes on the knuckles, and he raises an eyebrow.
“What? Do you think I was going to let them beat the shit out of me without fighting back?”
I can tell he’s hiding a grin at the thought of me putting up my fists, and I punch his shoulder. Then I regret it.
He wisely doesn’t say anything else, just bathes my knuckles and puts more of the cream, whatever it is, on them.
“You want to talk about it?”
“I missed the bus, so I walked over to the other side of campus to take the other route.”
“Don’t. Don’t say it. I know. But shit, Brian. It was broad daylight.” My voice wavers again and he touches my face. The unbruised side.
“So … some thugs jumped you,” he says matter of factly.
I nod. “Only two of them. They were making comments, and when I didn’t respond, they grabbed my bag. I wouldn’t let go, and that’s when they started pushing me. They shoved me into the wall, and punched my ribs a couple of times.
I gulp in some air, and as I go on, I feel my voice get stronger. “But I stamped on one’s foot, and that surprised them and they both let me go. I punched the other one in the mouth and then grabbed my bag and swung it at them. It hit one of them in the head and then I saw the bus coming so I ran and caught it and … that’s all. I’m okay.”
I could only stand and stare at him.
He is so fucking amazing.
No wonder they let him go when he started to fight back. They probably got the shock of their fucking lives. They must have thought he was such an easy mark - a delicate little pansy boy. And then they realize they’ve taken on a fucking tiger.
He never ceases to fucking astound me.
I don’t know which emotion is stronger, my pride in him, and the desire to it shout out to the world.
The desire to pull him into my arms and never, ever let anything threaten him again.
Or the desire to fucking pulverize the assholes who dared to touch him. Dared to threaten him. Dared to try to put him back into the fucking hospital.
Dared to try to take him away from me. Suddenly I start to shake. He realizes that, and puts his arms around me.
“Brian, I’m okay.”
Fuck! He’s the one who gets beaten up and he’s comforting me. How fucked is that?
I press my forehead against his.
“Why don’t you take a shower, and maybe lie down for a while.
He looks as if he’s about to argue, but then I guess he remembers the asshole in the other room and nods. “Okay.”
I touch his face again.
“You know you’re fucking incredible, don’t you?”
His eyes light up then, and he gets that look, like a kid who’s just been given the greatest present. Shit! it is so easy to make him happy. Why the fuck was it so hard before?
I have to kiss him now. So I do. And then we hold each other for a while.
I guess we should call the police. That’s what Deb would say. Hell, she’d fucking demand it. But this is real life for faggots. Sometimes we get beaten up. Occasionally we die from it. That’s how it is. It’s not right. And it does make me fucking angry. But it’s still how life is.
I help him to get undressed and then go to check on our not-so-friendly delivery guy.
He has the TV set up now, and is hooking up the DVD and video.
Justin will probably have my ass for getting this stuff so soon, but hell! We no longer have to live like a couple of paupers, and he loves to watch TV. Fucking Powder Puff Girls and all sorts of shit.
Besides. I didn’t really want to go out tonight. We’ve hardly seen each other all week except to fuck and sleep. I just want to lie around with him, order in some food so neither of us has to cook, and relax. Maybe a DVD. Okay, definitely a DVD. I bought him The Two Towers. He loves those movies. He’ll talk for hours if you let him about the designs, and how the director mixed live action and models and CG and shit. He’s already got the first one, but when this came out we couldn’t fucking afford it. We fucking can now, so I got it for him.
But he can’t watch it without a player. And it would be fucking useless on that tiny piece of shit we’ve been peering at, so …
But he’ll still have his say about it, no doubt.
The guy looks up at me and then asks, “Is he okay?”
I shrug. I don’t want to go into it with this breeder, and I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to feel the anger. Or the fear. I just want to have a good night with Justin.
I’m ready to lose it. This guy is probably just like the fucking assholes who jumped him, who … I feel the shakes start again, and go over and pour myself a Beam.
Then I turn back to the guy. He fucking wants to know? Fine.
“Some fag hating fuckers jumped him and tried to fucking punch him into next week. But they picked the wrong faggot this time because he took them on.”
He gave me a look. I guess he didn’t believe me. Well, I can understand that, I suppose.
“What? You think a little fairy like that would just curl up and let them kick the shit out of him? You want to see his knuckles?”
The guy’s face changes and I can see a look of something close to admiration come into his eyes. Fucking right!
“But he’s okay?”
I nod. “This time.”
He looks at me.
Then for some reason I say, “This time one of them didn’t have a baseball bat.”
I pour myself another drink. Then stop. Justin will not be happy if I get pissed. I don’t want to leave it there, and I don’t want to look like a fucking twat by pouring it back into the bottle, so I offer it to the guy.
He looks surprised, but he takes it.
“Todd,” he says.
I look at him. I care what his name is? Then I figure, what the hell? “Brian.”
He takes a sip and squats back down to hook up some more fucking cords.
“Someone hit him with a baseball bat?”
He sounds … he sounds shocked. He looks up at me, and I see it in his eyes. He is shocked. He’s fucking appalled.
He should be.
I nod. “He was in a coma for three days. Therapy. Damaged the motor center of his brain. Nearly lost the use of his right hand.”
I stop for a moment, and then it comes out.
“He’s an artist.” My throat is tight and I can hardly get the words out.
Because that had been the worst. The fucking worst. Worse even than the fact that he can’t remember the one fucking romantic thing I ever fucking did for him.
Because this was like losing himself. His soul. And all I could do was watch while it tore him apart.
He looks up at me again, and this time the admiration is plain.
“He must be a brave little fucker.”
I meet his eyes, and I nod proudly.
“Yeah. He is. He’s fucking incredible.”
He smiles at me. “I’m glad he’s okay.”
I nod and have to turn away. It must be all the dust from the packing or something because my eyes are stinging.
Then I hear the TV come on and I turn around.
He’s got it all set up and he flips through the channels to make sure the TV is working and then tries out the video, and the DVD.
He stands up, and dusts off his hands.
“All set to go.”
I nod as he packs up. “Looks good. Thanks.”
He turns back to me. “Sure. If there’s any problem, my cell number’s on the delivery sheet, just give me a call. I’ll be around all weekend and I can come over and fix it.”
I meet his eyes. “Okay. Thanks. I will.”
He moves to the door and then stops. “Ah, Brian …”
He breaks off and looks awkward, “I’m sorry about your … friend.”
“Partner. He’s my partner.”
He grins self consciously as he says, “Your partner. I’m glad he’s okay. I hope they find the pricks who roughed him up.”
I laugh harshly.
“What would be the point? The fucker who hit him with the baseball bat and damned near killed him got community service.”
Now he really looks fucking shocked. “That’s terrible. What the fuck’s that about? Jesus, you’d think that the courts would have at least thrown his ass in jail for a while. If it were up to me, I’d let fuckers like that rot. Who needs them on the streets?”
I walk him to the door, nodding in agreement. Somehow having this breeder getting angry on Justin’s behalf made me feel better.
We shake hands at the door, and I lock it behind him. For tonight, at least, anything that can harm him is on the other side of that door. In here, he’s safe. And we’re together.
I don’t go to sleep. Just drift. I can hear Brian actually talking to that prick. I’m not really listening but suddenly I hear “baseball bat” and my heart starts thudding and I feel my palms go sweaty.
He’s telling that fucking prick about that. Why would he do that?
I’m listening now, all right. I’m angry. I don’t want every fag hating fucking breeder to know ...
“He’s an artist.”
I hear the pain in Brian’s voice and it almost brings me undone. I remember him giving me the computer, trying so desperately to help me. And I remember what I total shit I was.
“… a brave little fucker.”
I find myself grinning a little. Well, maybe. Or maybe just stupid. But I had hit the guy, at least.
I can not believe how Brian sounds. Like … like he’s so proud of me. And he’s saying this to a total stranger. A straight stranger at that.
Then I hear other noises and at first I’m confused, but then I realize. A TV. He’s bought a fucking TV.
I don’t know whether to laugh or get up and hit him.
Less than a week away from total penury and he’s bought a TV. Not a table and chairs so that we can actually sit down to a meal. Not a decent couch, so we can get rid of that moth eaten thing Mom leant us. Oh, no. A fucking TV. At least it’s not a new fucking suit, I suppose.
He doesn’t even watch TV. Well, the news sometimes.
Then it hits me.
He hasn’t bought it for him.
I get up and pull on some sweats and go into the bathroom to wash my face, because I don’t want him to see me with my eyes all swollen from those damned allergies.
When I come out, the guy is gone. Brian is just closing the door.
He locks it and sets the alarm, and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief.
He looks over to me and smiles as he walks toward me.
I come into his arms and we kiss for a long long time. Then he grins, and turns me towards the TV. That’s when I realize that he’s bought a whole entertainment system. Huge flat screen TV, video, DVD, and monster speakers.
I just stand and stare at it.
He walks over to the kitchen counter and picks up a couple of menus.
“Thai or Chinese?”
“Pizza?” I ask hopefully.
He gives a huge sigh. “Okay, pizza. Just this once.”
I grin at him. He picks something else up and holds it behind his back as he comes to me.
I go to put my arms up around his neck, but he pulls back and instead waves something in my face. Then I take in what it is.
“Brian!” I hear my voice squeak, but I don’t care.
I reach for him again and this time he comes into my arms. I hug him fiercely.
“Thank you,” I say, and I hope he knows that it’s not just the things he’s bought that I’m thanking him for.
He presses his forehead against mine, and for a while we just stand there and hold each other. And it’s okay. It really is okay.
Later, we’re sprawled together on the futon, backs propped against the couch, as the film finally gets close to the fucking end.
“What can men do against such reckless hate?”
For a moment the words seem to echo round the whole fucking loft..
“Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.”
We say nothing, but our eyes meet, and we know. We both know that’s the answer. You have to take a stand. Each time. Every time.
He took his today, and I am so fucking proud of him. I took a different stand with Todd, and maybe that built a bridge or two.
I’ve got a meeting with Senator Baxter on Monday.
Maybe it’s time she thought about her stand on hate crimes.