CHAPTER 12: DISCLOSURE
When they arrived at the loft a short while later, they were surprised that Brian and Justin already had company. Vic and an older man, as well as Cynthia and a younger woman were there. Justin wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Ted was the first to notice.
“Where is he?”
Brian sighed. “He’s resting right now. He had a motherfucker of a headache and it wasn’t until he had a meltdown that he told me.”
“Any idea what brought it on this time?”
“Frustration, I suspect. Miguel suggested using a pottery wheel for his therapy…”
“That was excellent thinking. I heard they can do wonders for fine motor skills.”
“That’s what he said. How did you know that?”
Ted looked sheepishly at Brian, before standing tall and looking at the intimidating brunet dead-on. “I’ve been trying to think of ways to help him, Brian. I know I sit and talk with Justin and play Scrabble with him but I feel… well I feel like I need to do more. I want to do more for him, especially after today.”
“Today? What about today?” At the continued silence and even some guilty looks, Brian crossed his arms over his chest. “Alright, spill it.”
“Brian, maybe we should talk about this another time, like when you’re not… here,” Debbie said. Her misplaced guilt evident on her face.
“No. I want to know what the fuck is going on. And I want to know about it now!”
“Brian… I…” Ted stammered.
“Alright Rosencrantz and Guildenstern what the fuck happened? At no time ever, were you two able to keep your mouths shut, whether anything was in them or not. Don’t start now. What has Michael done?”
Emmett gasped and asked, “Who said Michael did anything? I didn’t. Did you Teddy? I know Debbie and Mel didn’t say Michael did anything.”
“Which tells me he did,” Brian said sternly. “So what the fuck do I have to fix this time?”
Ted stepped directly in front of Brian, raising his eyes again to meet the angry hazel ones. “Nothing Brian. You have absolutely nothing to fix for Michael. He does.”
Brian regarded the shorter man, reading his eyes. He was surprised to hear the scathing sternness of Ted’s statement. Brian was actually taken aback by the annoyance looking back at him, but it wasn’t directed at him. “What did he do Ted?”
He sighed before answering. “Howard Bellweather’s book came out today.”
“So? I can’t believe that you actually read his drivel, but that’s you. What does that have to do with Mikey?”
“I’m getting to that. Anyway, I went to the signing...” Brian shuffled his feet and Ted knew that he had a limited amount of time before Brian yelled at him. He decided to get it over with. “Michael gave the asshole an interview about us and the fucker printed it in his book.”
“That’s still not telling me very much Ted. So Michael gave an interview. He probably feels like some big shot now that he’s met someone famous.”
“That’s true Brian but it’s what he said in the interview…”
Melanie cleared her throat. “Oh for crying out loud Ted! Look Brian, here’s what we know. The reason that Michael came back here is because his and David’s relationship is on the rocks. The reason that is, happens to be because Michael ran his big fat mouth about you and Justin to a reporter who was doing a piece on the bashing. If that wasn’t bad enough, he spoke to Howard Bellweather about all of you, including Justin, who he was his usual surly and derogatory self about. Needless to say that Ted took offense when he read it. We just came from bailing him out.”
“Who?” Brian asked.
“Yeah Brian, Ted! He went ballistic on Howard Bellweather for printing the bullshit Michael spouted about all of you.”
“Brian, he did,” Debbie confirmed. “Even before Ted read it, I found out about it this morning. David is in Pittsburgh. He came looking for Michael and he brought the Portland Times with him to show me the article. That is the real reason he and David are- were- having problems. David may not like you, but he does believe in fairness to a degree. My idiot son had no business speaking about the relationship between you and Justin as he sees it to a fucking soul. But he did. I’m so sorry kiddo.”
Brian stood there listening to Debbie in shock, feeling as if a knife was stuck in his gut and twisted. Against anyone else, Brian could have argued that they got Michael’s motivations and actions wrong, but Debbie… No, Debbie was always defending Michael for something he did or placing blame on Michael’s environment or on him. But this time she wasn’t. “I want to see them.”
“Brian I don’t think…”
“No Emmett… you all are telling me this but… I want to see it.”
Melanie went over to the dining table, reluctantly opening her briefcase. Admittedly, any other time she would have taken joy in causing Brian Kinney pain. He had been the bane of her existence for so many years where Lindsay was concerned. Anytime she was able to metaphorically spit in his face was okay with her. But this was different. Not only because she was handling the civil cases for Justin, but because she could see the changes Brian was making for Justin; could see him struggling and rising to the occasion for Justin’s sake, where he may not have done it for anyone else. The man was a fucking hero in her eyes for so many reasons, especially in how he was putting Justin’s needs before his own. This was a side of Brian Kinney that she never knew existed. No one knew… but Justin.
She passed him the newspaper Deb had given her earlier, and a copy of the novel she was intending to read later, motioning for him to sit in the chair at the table. Then she ushered everyone else into the living room area to await the explosion. She practically had to drag Cynthia away from her boss and close friend.
“How bad is it?” Cynthia whispered to her, once Mel finally convinced her to leave the area.
“Trust me. You don’t want to be anywhere near him when he reads Michael’s words, Cynthia. What are you doing here anyway?”
“Gardner is threatening Brian’s job. I told the fucker he was covered under FMLA and that if Brian walked, so did I.”
“I bet that went over well,” Mel said. She knew all about Vance, and she didn’t like the fact that the man was going to now be Brian’s boss. The idiot was a first rate bigot who divorced his first wife because she refused to disown her lesbian sister, who had worked with Mel at the time. It was a well-kept secret that the way Vance found out about the sister was because he had attempted to climb into her bed in the middle of the night and found Cassandra Martin with her long-time lover, Evelyn. Melanie hated the man.
“It didn’t but I found out something from his assistant Marcie, who used to be the executive assistant to Ryder.” Cynthia went on to explain the deal between Ryder and Vance in order to force Brian out of the company. “I’ve been accumulating the client list for Brian for a few years now- those he brought in and those we were going to go after. I just finished telling him that I think it’s time to start our own company. He’s fighting me on it.”
“Why? Even though I can’t stand him on most days, I have to admit that Brian is damn good at what he does. When the law firm went with Ryder under Brian, our clientele grew to include some of the elite. As a result, we had to move into another building and hire more staff to accommodate the masses. After the whole Kip Thomas debacle, I tried to urge him to sue for lost wages based on a false report, but he said he just wanted to get back to work. I suspect it had more to do with the fact that Justin was living with him at the time and he was taking care of things financially for him.”
“Not only him,” Cynthia said, then closed her eyes. She tried to cover but Mel saw it.
“What do you mean?” Cynthia shook her head but Mel wasn’t having any of that. “Don’t give me that Cynthia. You and I have always been straight with one another, even if our dealings have been minimal. So if you know something…”
“Fuck! Okay… Okay, Lindsay has been hitting Brian up for extra cash before and after your temporary split. The five grand she got from him during the whole Kip episode was just the beginning of the new wave of cries and pleas.”
“But that doesn’t make sense. All of our expenses are paid up. Gus is well taken care of, especially since she went back to work teaching part-time. We trade babysitting with our neighbors Dusty and Marie instead of paying in cash. I changed my health plan to include both her and Gus listing them as dependents; Ted helped me do that. So what could she possibly need extra cash beyond the five grand for?”
“That’s for her to know and for you and Brian to find out.”
Cynthia’s caustic tone told Mel that Cynthia knew more of the situation regarding Gus than Mel would have liked. But she said nothing as the other woman brushed past her and took a seat, looking over at the table for any sign of what Brian was finding in that cursed reading material. Mel took the other seat in the living area, wondering if she was going to have to put on her attorney hat again tonight.
“So George, were you able to speak with Brian?” Emmett asked the older man.
“Yeah, but not completely, Em. He doesn’t quite know my connection yet. Vic was about to explain it all when you walked in.”
“What? What was he about to explain?” Deb asked.
“Deb, keep your voice down,” Vic admonished. “As for what I was about to explain to Brian, George is one of my and Em’s clients. We’re doing his daughter’s wedding at Brian’s recommendation. This visit though is more personal than that. You see…”
“Uncle George?” Justin stood at the top of the steps leading to the bedroom, dressed in a pair of sweats and oversized shirt that were obviously Brian’s.
Brian set aside the papers at once and went to stand by Justin’s side. “Sunshine, I thought I told you to rest.”
“I- I was, but I heard voices and woke up. I thought… I started dreaming and the voices woke me up. I- I…”
“It’s okay Justin. Are you hungry?”
Justin shook his head no, looking impossibly young. The action still hurt him; Brian could tell. “Can I have a cup of coffee?”
Brian looked at the clock, noting that it was too soon to take another pain killer. In fact, it was really too soon for Justin to be awake at all. He cleared his throat. “Do you want to join everyone?”
“Will you… will you come with me?”
“Sunshine, you’re safe. Your uncle’s here. I have to finish something over at the table and I’ll join you shortly but let me get your coffee first, okay?” He held Justin’s eyes with his own, reading the fear in them but not a trace of doubt that Brian would do what he said. That was an improvement over the skepticism he’d been seeing at various points through this whole healing process. He hoped that Justin was learning to trust him and himself by now, but Bethany had told him it was going to be a slower process due to the nature of Justin’s injury. The memory loss was causing Justin to question everything he once believed, and believed in. Brian was one of those things right now. “Come on Sunshine. No one is going to hurt you here.”
Brian gently led him over to the group, watching as the trepidation mixed with the side effects of the medication made Justin’s footsteps a little unstable. Once he settled Justin into the Barcelona chair and handed him a throw blanket, Brian strode over to the kitchen to get Justin’s coffee. He knew the jolt of caffeine would keep Justin awake but also take the edge off of the current headache. As far as Brian was concerned, it was an easy payoff if it got Justin out of pain.
“Uncle George, what are you doing here?” Justin asked the older man.
“I came to see my favorite nephew Justin. I had lunch with Jennifer and she told me what happened, son. Imagine my surprise to find out that the man who introduced me to Vic and Emmett was the man who you were…”
“Fucking. You can say it Uncle George. It isn’t like anyone here doesn’t already know that. Brian is…”
“It’s okay Justin. Brian is just Brian. And he’s the man who’s helping you to get better. That’s all that matters to me; is that you get better, okay?”
Justin smiled a small smile. “Thank you.” He saw Brian’s approach out of the corner of his eye with his coffee. As Brian placed the hot beverage into his left hand, he also pulled the blanket up over Justin’s right.
“Keep it warm, okay?”
“I’ll be right over at the table.”
“I know. I’m safe here.”
“You remember that, okay Twat?” Brian smirked at him and in return received one of Justin’s real smiles since earlier in the day.
“Yes Brian. I- I’ll be okay.”
Brian looked deeply into Justin’s eyes for confirmation of that statement. He would have stayed there with Justin but he really wanted to get back to reading the bullshit Michael had spouted. He was angry and hurt that the man would put his business out there like that and at all of the disparaging comments he’d made about Justin. He would have thought that David had made all of the remarks since they were so sanctimonious and judgmental, except that there were things written that only Michael- not even David- could have known, such as details about the night Brian met Justin, and a host of other instances that occurred before Doctor David Cameron had even become part of their vocabulary.
With a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, Brian opened “The Gay Gauntlet.” After looking in the Table of Contents, Brian turned to Michael’s interview with the supposed Gay Conscience of Pittsburgh. Brian sat there, reading each account of how Michael saw himself, his friends, but most of all, Justin. The more he read Michael’s words, the more he began to replay times in his mind when Michael had voiced the fucked up thoughts aloud. It incensed Brian, but it also made him feel guilty for not defending Justin. Sure, Justin could’ve taken care of himself, but the point was that he shouldn’t have had to, especially when dealing with a supposed adult as Michael. Calling Justin a gold-digger was especially wrong because Justin never once asked Brian to pay for anything. In fact, he was still working at the Diner to pay off Brian’s credit card, handing Brian every red cent outside of twenty dollars to put towards his debt. Michael owed Brian money from ten years ago, and Brian hadn’t seen a fucking cent of that money. Nevermind that Brian had lent the asshole more since then.
Michael went on to detail Brian and Justin’s sex lives, calling it a revolving door of tricks; calling Justin a live-in trick for slow nights at Babylon. That really pissed Brian off. It made it sound like the only reason Brian kept Justin around was to fuck, when in reality he kept Justin around because he was smart, unique, and an accomplished conversationalist, beyond talking about comics and fucking. The boy- young man- was fucking brilliant, whereas Michael was an imbecile at the best of times. It was strange that reading how Michael tried to be and sound intelligent during the interview, only served to point out the differences between his best friend and a young man who worked hard, played harder, and got bashed for doing both successfully.
“I’ll fucking kill him!” Brian rose out of his chair, not realizing that his raised voice had sent Justin, who was having a pretty good time, to the corner, huddled into a tight ball. “I’m going to find that little bastard and kill him! How dare he?! HOW FUCKING DARE HE?!!!!! I’m going to find that bastard right now!” Brian’s rage at Michael’s words had him shredding the paper and book with his bare hands while the others tried to stop him. All except George and Vic, who were trying to coax a panicked and shaking Justin from the corner.
Ted, Emmett, and Melanie tried their hardest to block Brian’s path to the loft door, knowing exactly what and whom Brian was going to look for. Michael had gone too fucking far this time, and they all agreed. But Justin needed Brian, so they knew they had to stop him.
“Brian, you have to stop,” Cynthia tried. “You can’t have a felony assault on your record. Come on Brian, Justin is over there in the corner, panicked right now you pain in the ass! Get a fucking hold on yourself!” She pushed into his chest, trying to bring the mountain of angry male back to reality. She had seen Brian angry before but not like this. He usually simmered with the hostile emotion but this… this was Brian in a very dangerous mood.
“Brian! Brian, you have to fucking calm down. You’re scaring Sunshine!” Debbie screamed at him, but Brian ignored her. She understood what he was feeling since she had been feeling it herself all afternoon. She was pissed at Michael- God knew she was pissed- but he was still her son and she couldn’t let Brian kill him or hurt him in any way. “Fucking asshole, stop it! STOP IT!” Debbie slapped Brian across the face, shocking everyone, including Brian. He looked at her, tears welling in his eyes that he refused to let fall. “Brian…”
“Don’t…” he began, just as he heard the wailing coming from the far corner of the loft. Brian turned to look for the sound, knowing it all too well. “Everyone, get the fuck out. NOW!”
Brian saw where George and Vic were on the floor, trying to get through to Justin, who was rocking himself back and forth while huddled. Everyone watching Justin in that state couldn’t help but feel the fear and pain assailing that young man who was mumbling, ‘I’m sorry. Please don’t hurt me’ over and over again, tears streaking down his face. Justin buried his face in his hands, trying to block out whatever imaginary images were assaulting him. Seeing Justin in that state, Brian knew that whatever he felt towards Michael at the moment had to take a backseat; he just needed to take care of Justin.
Leaning over, he placed a hand on each of the older men’s shoulders, squeezing gently. “I have him. Thanks for… I got him.”
“Brian, if you need any help…” George began, but Brian stopped him.
“I know George, but I have him.” After helping the older gentlemen to their feet, Brian took their place on the floor next to Justin. Pulling the young man into his lap, he cradled the shaking young man. “It’s okay Justin, I’ve got you.” He couldn’t help but feel responsible even though reading that bullshit, his explosion couldn’t be helped.
“Call me tomorrow and let me know how he is. Please?” George asked as he and the others headed out of the loft door.
While holding Justin, crooning softly to him every now and again, Brian made plans. First, they had to deal with everyone legally responsible. Secondly, Brian had to deal with Vance. Then he would personally deal with Michael. He pulled Justin tighter against him.
It was going to be a long night.