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Chapter 3 - Heading Home.



I was almost grateful when my phone rang halfway through the silent trip from the hospital to my apartment. I’m not sure if Brian was pissed off at me, the doctors, the hospital, or the world itself, but I knew better than to get in front of the boiling ire that was pouring off him. So we just sat together in the taxi, saying nothing, and not even talking. Needless to say, when my phone rang I was happy for the distraction, even if the caller ID said it was Lindsey returning my earlier message. 


“Hey, Lindz. Thanks for calling me back. Sorry to leave such a cryptic message before,” I said after accepting the call. “I didn’t want to alarm you, but Brian and I had a bit of a hiccup this afternoon. Luckily, it turned out to be nothing and we’re already on the way back to my place, but I didn’t know that’s how it would turn out when I was calling and I thought you’d want to know we were at the hospital.”


“What? The hospital? Are you both okay?” Lindsey’s incipient hysteria was so loud that I had to pull the phone away from my ear or risk permanent hearing damage.  


“We’re both fine, Lindsey. You don’t need to panic,” I rushed to assuage her fears. “Brian had a minor run in with an NYC motorcycle and came out a little worse for wear. But, except for a broken wrist, he’s okay.” 


Of course, that didn’t placate her. Lindsey kept spluttering in my ear without letting up long enough for me to explain. Just then the taxi pulled up to the curb in front of my apartment building and I watched as Brian handed the driver his credit card. Since we were getting out anyway, I decided to put the call on speaker so Lindsey could hear Brian’s voice for herself; nothing else would convince her that he really wasn’t on death’s doorstep. 


“Hang on a sec, Lindz, and I’ll let you talk to the man himself.” I tapped the icon that would engage the speaker function and held the phone out towards my partner. “Brian, please tell Lindsey you’re okay.”


“I’m okay. Now, please, stop screaming. You’re traumatizing all of New York,” Brian growled in the direction of my phone as I trotted along, trying to keep up with him and his ridiculously long legs as he strode down the sidewalk. 


“Oh, thank goodness,” Lindsey’s tinny voice came through the phone speaker. “What happened? Justin said you broke your arm? How bad is it? What can I do to help? Should we fly down there?”


“Fuck no! Do NOT fly out here,” Brian ordered brusquely. “I’m fine, Lindz. It’s just a broken wrist. I’ll be in a cast for six weeks and then it’ll be good as new. And if your plan is to fly out here and bug the shit out of me over this, then I’m taking my broken wrist and flying off to Ibiza where I won’t have to deal with your nagging. So you might as well stay put.”


“Well, if you’re sure, Peter,” Lindsey simpered, sounding like she still wanted to argue the point. 


“We’re sure, Wendy,” Brian replied. “I’m in good hands; I promise. And, as soon as we get home, I’m going to make Sunshine play naughty male nurse to distract me from the pain.” He offered me a wolfish grin that I returned. 


Lindsey laughed, “I guess your libido wasn’t injured, at least.” 


Then there was a noise in the background on Lindsey’s end of the call and a smaller voice interrupted. “Is that Daddy? Can I talk to him?” Rustling noises followed and Gus’ voice came over the speakers much more clearly. “Hi, Daddy!”


“Hey, Sonny Boy! How’s things up in the Great White North?” Brian asked and I hoped that his son could hear the way the doting father’s face literally lit up when they were talking. 


“You’re silly, Daddy. It’s not white in Toronto. It’s May. The snow that makes it white sometimes is all melted already,” Gus lectured his mistaken father. “Mama’s flowers are all blooming and, on Friday, it was warm enough that Mommy let me wear shorts to school even.”


“You sure it’s not snowing? Every time I come up there to see you it seems like it always snows,” Brian kidded.


“I’m sure, Dad. There’s no snow left. Sheesh, it’s almost summer already,” Gus ensured before harring off on a new, only semi-related topic. “I can’t wait for summer. I want to take swimming lessons at the pool with my friend Eric. And we’re going to come to Pittsburgh to see you and Grandma Debbie and Uncle Mikey. Annnnd, Mama said I could go to this really cool camp this summer where I get to sleep in a cabin and we’ll get to play soccer all day and there’s a lake and we get to go on trips to other places some days and it’s going to be so fun and my other friend, Anthony, went there last year - he’s seven so he already knows all about it - and he loved it so much and I can’t wait to go this year . . .” 


Gus was still happily prattling on when I noticed that Brian had continued walking right past the entrance to my apartment building without stopping. At least this time I noticed in time to grab him and pull him to a stop before he walked out into traffic again. When I grabbed hold of his sleeve, though, Brian flinched away from my touch with a little mewl of fear and attempted to pull out of my grip. What the fuck? What was it about that damned soccer camp; the second the topic was even mentioned, Brian seemed to lose it. I was now officially wigged out by whatever the fuck was doing this shit to my boyfriend.


“Hey, Gus, we’re about to get into the elevator at my apartment building now,” I said, interrupting the child who thankfully hadn’t noticed that he’d lost his father’s attention about two minutes back. “We’ve gotta go. I’ll have your dad call you back later to talk about your summer plans. Okay?”


“‘Kay! Bye, Dad! Bye, Justin! Love you!” Gus burbled jovially.


I said goodbye as well and terminated the call before turning to deal with my clearly disturbed partner. “Brian? You okay?”


“I want to go home,” Brian whispered, again with the creepy little-boy voice that didn’t sound like him at all, making my skin crawl. 


“We are home, Brian.” I gestured upwards at the facade of the building I’d lived in for the past two years. A building that Brian had visited a couple dozen times at least. “How ‘bout we go upstairs and let you lay down or something, huh? Maybe you’ll feel better after you rest a bit.”


Brian complied - or, I should say, this vacant semblance of a Brian complied - allowing himself to be led inside, across the lobby, and into the elevator, but all the while his eyes kept darting around like he was just seeing the place for the first time. He clearly didn’t recognize where he was. Not a good sign. And I’d thought that he seemed back to normal again just a few minutes earlier. As soon as Gus had brought up the topic of that stupid soccer camp, though, he’d gone all blank on me again. This shit was seriously fucked up. 


Brian was silent and disconnected all the way up in the elevator. When we got off on my floor, he started to walk the wrong way down the hall. I had to grab him by the hand and physically guide him the other way, then pull him to a stop at the correct door, dragging him into the apartment behind me. When I let go of him long enough to relock the door behind us, I found my partner wandering around the living room, touching random items - a lamp, art books that I had piled on the kitchen table, a small sculpture that he’d bought for me the last time he came to visit - and looking at them like he didn’t understand what they were. All the while he kept nervously looking around himself as if he expected something or someone to jump out unexpectedly from behind the furniture. I could tell, by the way he was biting at his lower lip, that he was anxious, an emotion that Brian Kinney rarely exhibited outwardly even when he had a reason to be anxious. Only, here, in the safety of my apartment, I couldn’t figure out what he had to be anxious about.


“Are you looking for something, Brian?” I asked, trying to unlock the secret to whatever was bugging him. 


“I don’t . . . I don’t know,” Confused Brian responded, swallowing nervously as he continued to look around himself. “I just . . . I want to go home. Please . . .”


“So, we’re back to that, huh?” I muttered, dropping my messenger bag so I could rub my face tiredly. “We ARE home, Brian. This is where I live now; at least, while I’m in New York. Don’t you remember that?”


“No, I . . . I don’t . . . Don’t . . .”


“Fuck, Brian. What the hell is going on?” I felt like crying now myself. I rounded the couch so I could reach him, ignoring the way he retreated from me as I approached but, when he flinched out of my grip again, finally giving up. I flopped down on the sofa instead. “Please come here, Brian. Sit. We need to figure out what’s going on because you’ve got me worried out of my fucking mind here.” He shuffled closer a few inches but then hesitated before sitting next to me. “You’re okay. I promise. I just want to talk.”


He watched as I patted the sofa cushion next to me before tentatively lowering himself till he was perched on the very edge of the couch. He was determinedly NOT looking at me; instead, he was scanning the apartment like he was looking for an escape route or something. I felt almost as confused as he was acting. This was clearly another one of those ‘dissociative’ episodes, like the doctor had warned me about. But I was all alone here and didn’t have a friendly psychiatrist to help me figure out what was causing my partner to lose it or to give him a sedative if he went bonkers on me. I was going to have to solve this latest crisis by myself. 


“Brian, please, tell me how I can help you,” I pleaded, feeling lost. “I can see that you’re upset. I know there’s something wrong. But I don’t know what to do. What do you need?”


He looked around again, his gaze not focusing on anything. He seemed sort of dazed; slow and unsure and spacey. For about half a second I started to wonder if maybe the pain meds they’d given him for his broken wrist were too strong or something. Or maybe he’d slipped a couple of tabs of Ecstasy on the cab ride home. Who knew? All that was certain was that my Brian wasn’t all there. 


“I just want to go home. Please. I want to go home,” he repeated again in the plaintive voice that made me want to do whatever it took to protect him.


“Okay. We’ll go home,” I conceded.


I pulled out the emergency credit card that Brian had given me back when I first left for NYC and used it to reserve a rental car; it was already late and even if we could have got a flight out that night, I didn’t know how THIS Brian would react to a crowded airport full of strangers, so driving seemed to be the best option. Then I packed a bag for myself, repacked Brian’s suitcase that he’d only just unzipped the night before, and left a note for my roommate to let her know what had happened to me. Brian, meanwhile, wandered aimlessly around my apartment until I told him it was time to go. I closed the door and locked it behind me just as my phone chimed to let me know the ride share car I’d ordered had arrived. 


When I looked at my phone it was just after ten. If I drove all night, we would reach Pittsburgh - aka ‘home’ - just about when the sun would be coming up. I only hoped that Brian would be back to himself as soon as I got him back to familiar surroundings.



Looking at Brian, asleep in bed next to me, everything seemed perfectly normal . . . Except for the fact that he’d been unconscious for more than twenty hours by that point.


Despite sleeping for most of the drive back to the Pitts, Brian had still seemed ready to drop and only partially aware of what was going on around him when we pulled up to the loft just around five am. Granted, I had been pretty out of it myself after the all night drive, so I probably wasn’t a great judge of anyone’s mental state. We’d stumbled off the elevator together, dumped our bags just inside the door, and collapsed on adjoining stools at the bar. I only just managed to find enough energy to scramble some eggs and pop some bread into the toaster for breakfast. But, as soon as we’d eaten, and Brian had popped another pain pill for his broken wrist, we both collapsed again in the bed. 


I hadn’t awakened until around dinner time when my growling stomach refused to be put off any longer. Since Brian was still snoring away, I decided to leave him be. I ordered myself a pizza and devoured all but one slice while channel surfing on Brian’s brand new, seventy-five inch, Samsung Q900 series, super high definition, television. I somehow got caught up watching this fascinating documentary on the History Channel about all the stolen art in the British Museum, which kept me entertained until about nine. After that, though, there was nothing to keep my interest on the boob-tube so I gave up that pursuit.


Without anything else to do, I crawled back into bed. Unfortunately, Sleeping Beauty had remained lost in dreamland, meaning that I wouldn’t be finding any entertainment with Brian in his bed. No fun there for a horny blond boy toy. 


Even as I cuddled up closer to the warm body next to me, I was a little worried by how long Brian had been sleeping. I know he’d been banged around in the prior day’s accident, so I guess it was understandable that he’d be a little tired, but this seemed excessive. 


I once more started to wonder if maybe Brian hadn’t hit his head; the CT scan had been clear, according to the doctors, but a concussion would have at least explained his memory lapses, personality fluctuations, and even the excessive sleeping. And if he did have a concussion, wasn’t too much sleeping a bad thing? I vaguely remembered something about waking concussion patients up every few hours to make sure they were okay. Or was that something they only did on television? Besides, the doctors had seemed pretty sure that it wasn’t a TBI that had been causing Brian’s strange behavior. But this much sleeping still seemed weird, right? The question was, was it weird enough to necessitate another trip to the hospital or was I just being a wuss and freaking out over nothing?


In the end, I fell back on my mother’s advice about how rest was the best medicine and decided to let the man sleep.


But, when I woke up the next morning around six am - unable to sleep any longer after getting more than eight hours of sleep myself - and discovered that Brian was still pounding out the zzzz’s, I started to wonder if I’d made the right call. I’d never, in all the years I’d known him, seen Brian sleep that long. Hell, insomniac that he was, the man rarely managed a full eight hours of sack time. For him to sleep for almost an entire day was unprecedented. I was almost more frightened by that than I’d been while watching his accident back in New York. If it weren’t for the fact that I could clearly see his chest rising and falling with each breath he was taking, and hear the adorable little wheezing noises he made because of his deviated septum, I might have totally panicked and thought he’d slipped into a coma or something.


However, just when I had worked myself up to the point that I was ready to call for an ambulance, Brian’s alarm clock went off and the snoring beside me sputtered out. The man lying next to me stretched, rolled my way, close enough to deposit a tender morning kiss on my cheek, and then reached over to shut off the alarm. With another yawn, he rose from the bed and shuffled off towards the bathroom just like he would have on any other Monday morning. Curious, I threw off the covers and sprinted after him, pausing in the doorway to the bathroom long enough to watch my partner finishing at the toilet before heading over to turn on the shower. 


“Morning, Sunshine,” he greeted me. “Aren’t you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning? Usually it takes me a good fifteen minutes to lure you out of bed with my cock but look at you. Guess this means we have time for more than the standard shower blow job this morning . . .” He grinned wolfishly and waggled his eyebrows at me as he gestured for me to precede him into the shower enclosure. 


“You sure you're feeling up to that?” I questioned, hesitating just inside the door. “You’re not in too much pain or anything?”


“What the fuck are you talking about? Since when have I ever not felt up for a blow job?”


“Well, it’s just, after the accident and all, I thought . . .” I didn’t really know what I’d thought so I didn’t bother to finish my sentence. 


A flash of confusion sparked in Brian’s eyes but then he frowned, shook his head as if to clear out any random thoughts from his mind, and ignored my comment. “You thought wrong, Sunshine, because, as long as my dick is still in one piece, I’m always going to be ready for you to suck it. So, get your creamy, white ass in here and we’ll get started,” he directed with a tilt of his head towards where the thick, warm steam was now pouring out of the shower stall. 


Okay! Nothing dazed or weird or distracted about that. A Brian Kinney demanding a blow job was something I could definitely handle. This version of Brian was acting a lot more like the man I knew and lusted after. Maybe all that rest really had helped? 


Just as I was starting to get into the shower, though, I noticed that the hand Brian was using to hold the door open was the one in the cast. “Oops. We’d better wrap that before we get in,” I warned as I retreated from the shower again. “I’ll get the plastic wrap. Be right back.”


I streaked nakedly through the loft to the kitchen, rifled through the drawer under the sink where Brian kept crap he didn’t know what else to do with, and eventually emerged with the roll of plastic wrap in hand. When I returned to the bathroom, I found Brian still standing there, in front of the open shower door, the entire bathroom filled with steam to the point that beads of moisture were dripping down the face of the mirror. He was staring at his own wrist as if it were some alien body part. And, for a moment, I flashed back to this movie I saw a long time before where a woman had this disease - I think it was called ‘body integrity dysphoria’ or something like that - that caused her to try to amputate her own arm because she was convinced it belonged to someone else. 


“Brian?” I spoke his name quietly, trying not to startle him. “Is your wrist hurting you? I can get you a pain pill. You’re definitely overdue for your next dose.”


“Huh?” 


He looked up at me as if he didn’t remember I was still in the loft. 


“Your wrist? Is it hurting?”


He had to think about it for ten seconds before he spoke again. “A little, I guess,” he replied.


“Let me wrap it with this, so you can take a shower, and then I’ll get you another pill,” I suggested, holding the plastic wrap out in front of me as I approached slowly. 


He was still holding his wrist out like he didn’t know what to do with the cast, so it was easy for me to pull out the free end of the roll of cellophane and start wrapping. Brian didn’t say a word as I wound plastic around and around his arm. He just continued to stare at his arm in silence. And when I was done, he still held it out, away from his body, at an awkward angle. I waited a few moments, trying to discern if he wanted me to do something more; if he wanted me to add more wrapping or something. When he continued to just stare mutely, I finally remembered the pain pill, and turned to get the prescription bottle out of the medicine cabinet. 


“Here you go.” 


I held out the pill. Brian started to reach for it with his right hand - which wouldn’t work because cast and plastic wrap up to the elbow and all - but since it was his dominant hand it was kind of understandable. The fact that, instead of reacting by holding out his other hand, he just continued to stare at the injured limb was what concerned me. It was like he didn’t know what to do with it. I had to use one of my own hands to grab his left, gently prying open the fingers until there was enough room to leave the pill in his palm. Luckily, by the time I’d turned around to fill a glass with some water, he’d managed to get the pill to his mouth on his own. 


After that, the rest of the shower went more smoothly, although he still seemed confused by the broken wrist and kept trying to grab things with it. He even, accidentally, knocked me in the side of the head with the damn thing when I was on my knees in front of him about to swallow his cock. But, after he cursed at himself in lieu of an apology, and I went back to my work, the rest of the blow job went much more smoothly and he remembered to only run his left hand through my wet hair as I sucked him off per our usual showertime fun. By the time we finally climbed out of the shower, squeaky clean inside and out, Brian was in a much better mood once again. 


Of course, that’s when things went and got all strange again. 


“Why are you putting on a suit?” I asked when I came out of the bathroom to find my partner suiting up in his Armani best. 


“Because, if I go to work in the buff, Cynthia will yell at me for sexually harassing the interns,” Brian quipped. 


“Why are you going to work, though? It’s only Monday. You weren’t even supposed to be back here in Pittsburgh until Wednesday night? You’re technically still on vacation.”


He paused for several heartbeats, his hand hovering over the row of hangers filled with dress shirts of every fashionable color and style, but then shrugged and continued, explaining, “I’ve got a meeting I can’t miss.”


I froze in place, the damp towel I’d been drying my hair with dangling from one hand. 


That was a bald-faced lie. He couldn’t possibly have a meeting scheduled this morning. Brian was supposed to be in NYC, with me, today. Cynthia wouldn’t have scheduled a meeting this morning. Hell, nobody even knew we were back in Pittsburgh yet. I hadn’t told a soul about our return and Brian couldn’t have called anyone since his broken phone was still waiting in the bottom of my messenger bag. And that’s even assuming he’d somehow woken up from his day long catatonia long enough to make a phone call without me knowing. So, clearly, Brian had to be lying; something he’d never done before. 


Yet another indication that something was seriously wrong.


“Hey, Brian, how about you just stay home today, huh?” I pleaded. “I think you’re still a bit shaken up by your accident. And, with your wrist like that, you won’t be able to do much work anyway. Especially not once that pain pill kicks in. Don’t you think you could, maybe, take the day off?” 


Brian completely ignored me as he selected two ties to compare, holding each up in turn while admiring the effect of a stripe versus a floral pattern in the mirror. He decided on the one with the small pink roses - a favorite of mine - and tossed the reject at my face in a playful gesture. Then he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on his socks and shoes. I still didn’t really understand what was going on so I just stood there, like an idiot, watching the Brian-Gets-Dressed show in silence. 


Rising to his feet with shoes in place, he grabbed his suit jacket and goosed me as he passed by. “Later, Sunshine.”


He was gone before I’d collected myself enough to figure out what I could or should do. Despite Brian’s seeming return to ‘normal’, I couldn’t help thinking that something still wasn’t right. He continued to act off. Erratic. Inconsistent. Strange. I still didn’t know what the fuck was causing him to behave so mercurially. Not even his show of going to work like it was a normal Monday had been enough to allay my fears. I just knew that he wasn’t doing as well as he was pretending. The staring at his wrist thing earlier hadn’t been at all reassuring. 


But I knew Brian Kinney. I knew all about his standard coping mechanisms. First, he’d try to ignore anything that was bothering him and hope the problem would just go away. When that inevitably didn’t work, he’d try to drink or drug himself till he was too stoned to care. And if even that didn’t work, and whatever was causing him to act out continued, he’d resort to semi-dangerous sexual encounters. None of which I wanted to have to watch. Which meant that I was going to have to figure this out myself in order to head off the worst of the possible repercussions. 


Back at the hospital, Dr. Kajiwara had suggested that I look more closely into my partner’s past. He’d mentioned childhood trauma as being the most likely cause of Brian’s dissociative moments. Moments, perhaps, like what had happened just a little while past when he’d been staring at his arm in confusion, I wondered? 


The only problem was that I knew virtually nothing about Brian’s childhood. He hated his parents and almost always refused to talk about them. I was aware, more through family gossip than from anything Brian had told me directly, that his father, Jack, had been an abusive drunk and his mother, Joan, was an emotionally distant ice queen. But, other than that, I didn’t have much else to go on. I didn’t know even the basic facts about Brian’s earlier years, let alone any trauma he might have suffered. I was going to need help if I wanted to figure out what was happening to my partner. 

 

The only person I knew who had any insight at all into Brian’s childhood was Michael.

Chapter End Notes:

 

5/31/21 - Thank you to long weekends that provide me with extra time to write! Pardon the slow build up here... I promise this is going somewhere. Really. TAG

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