Chapter 5: RESEARCH and RECOVERY
One Week Later...
Blaming the Victim
The Court Reporter typed in stunned disbelief, her mirroring the family of Justin Taylor even as she recorded the words flowing effortlessly from Judge Roy Russo's mouth. For the past two weeks she had heard the young man's character assassinated by those who were supposed to be unbiased in relating events leading up to the defendant's trial.
Dr. Mitchell Perkins: "I have known both Chris Hobbs and Justin Taylor for a little more than six years, since I took over as Headmaster of St. James Academy at that time. Both young men were considered leaders of the class-- Chris as an outstanding athlete and Justin Taylor as a star student. He was supposed to be the Valedictorian of this year's graduating class.
Mr. Palmer, Chris Hobbs' defense attorney: "When did that change, Dr. Perkins?"
Dr. Perkins: "I'm not exactly sure but suddenly Justin Taylor was gay and things kind of went from there. All of a sudden, he became unruly, cursing within the classroom at Mr. Kevin Dixon-- one of our most successful teachers-- and causing disturbances within the locker room with the defendant. He had to be reprimanded for his behavior several times this past school year which often resulted in suspension."
Mr. Palmer: "Were you aware of the incident in the equipment room with young Mr. Hobbs?"
Dr. Perkins: "No I wasn't. Had I been aware the crime Christopher is accused of would never had taken place."
Mr. Palmer: "And why is that?"
Dr. Perkins cleared his throat before answering. "Essentially what Mr. Taylor is being accused of constitutes rape which is not only punishable by law but would have resulted in Justin's expulsion."
Next she recalled the abject bigotry spewing forth from the victim's own father. A more disgusting account of ‘blaming the victim,' she'd never heard.
Craig Taylor: "My son deserved everything that befell him. He was defiant and a deviant."
Mr. Palmer: "So you are saying that Justin got what he deserved."
Craig: "In my opinion, Justin deserved MORE. But I don't blame him. I blame the man who corrupted my son and seduced him into his disgusting lifestyle."
Palmer: "And who is that man, Mr. Taylor?"
Craig: "That child molester, Brian Kinney-- the man who danced with Justin at the prom."
Mr. Palmer: "Those are pretty serious allegations, Mr. Taylor. Can you prove that Justin and Mr. Kinney was involved in a sexual relationship prior to his turning 17 years of age?"
Craig straightened himself on the stand. "No I can't, other than what Justin has bragged to me and the fact that the asshole walked into my house demanding that Justin either choose him or family loyalty. The bottom line is that we-- Jennifer and I-- are Justin's parents and should have been obeyed. So he brought Christopher's actions upon himself by hanging out with faggots. Birds of a feather and all that," Craig waved his hand to punctuate his words.
"So really Justin isn't to blame but the influence of an older, more experienced man. Is that what you are saying?"
Craig: "I already told you, Justin deserved what he got, Mr. Palmer. He's a fucking faggot and they deserve whatever punishment is meted out because of it. Unless Justin will change his wicked and disgusting ways, I no longer have a son. He can and will burn in hell all for the sake of having his ass rammed. And honestly, good riddance. If he can't obey the rules of MY house, then he has NO PLACE in MY family."
She could tell from the different gasps and looks of disgust from Mr. Palmer himself as well as others during and after that particular testimony, that Craig Taylor was possibly the most hateful and hate-filled man anyone in the courtroom had ever encountered. When she snuck a look to Judge Russo and to Samuel Hobbs, she also noticed some kind of silent communication and looks of satisfaction upon their faces. She knew then that there was something incredibly fishy going on but she still held out hope that a terrible wrong would be righted.
When ‘Regular Roy' adjourned the court for ten minutes before rendering his verdict, she resumed her musings hoping to make sense of that which she had recorded thus far in the trial.
District Attorney Peters: "Mrs. Taylor, do you agree with your husband's sentiments regarding Justin?"
Jennifer Taylor: "First, please call me Jennifer. The further I can distance myself from my soon-to-be ex-husband, the better I will feel. As to whether I agree with him, that would be a huge NO. Yes, my son is gay. At first it took me awhile to put that into perspective. However, Justin is still my son-- still the intelligent, strong, brave and compassionate young man he's grown to be. If I am ashamed of anything at all, it is that I married Craig Taylor who is the most hateful kind of bigot-- the kind whose brand of love is in reality a complete web of lies. As long as you do what he wants and hold to HIS ideals, he ‘loves' you; it's completely sacrificial on YOUR part. Unfortunately my son learned that lesson the hard way. The fact that he is even here justifying the amoral behavior of Chris Hobbs is appalling in the extreme."
DA Peters: "Do you, like Mr. Taylor, hold Justin responsible for Christopher Hobbs' actions?"
Jennifer Taylor: "Not at all. Regardless of the character assignations and smoke screens the defense is trying to put up, Justin couldn't have gotten into Christopher's pants without his permission. My son is several pounds lighter and at least five inches shorter than the defendant. He's a football player for godsake; it did NOT require a bat to the head. And another thing, Dr. Perkins was full-on AWARE that Chris Hobbs and his cronies had been harassing Justin throughout the school year. We'd even had a meeting in his office after the contents of Justin's locker was burned to a crisp with the words ‘FAGS DIE' written in red letters. It's not rocket science to figure out who was responsible for that, now is it?" She looked directly at Chris Hobbs who had a terrible time keeping his face devoid of glee and his eyes from sparkling in remembrance.
DA Peters nodded. "What would you like to see happen to Christopher Hobbs, Jennifer?"
Palmer: "Objection. Calls for speculation."
Judge Russo: "Sustained. The Reporter will strike that last question from the record."
She had done what was expected of her although she wished like hell she hadn't. It was obvious to her that the defense was railroading the victim and deflecting culpability from the defendant. And the fucking judge was letting them get away with it. She went onto reflect over the testimony given by the doctors attending Justin Taylor.
DA Peters: "Dr. Mueller, you're the Chief of Neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital and was the surgeon who operated on the victim in this case. What was the condition of Justin Taylor when he was brought into the Emergency Room on June 12th?"
Dr. Harris Mueller: "Unconscious, bleeding profusely from the head."
DA Peters: "Was it an uncommon amount of blood loss?"
Mueller: "Head wounds generally bleed more than- let's say- an arm wound. However, in Justin Taylor's case, it was a lot more severe than average."
Peters: "How so?
Mueller: "In Justin's case, the blood flow was blocked by a crushed frontal lobe."
Peters: "What does that mean in terms of velocity and speed of the bat connecting with his skull?"
Dr. Mueller smirked at the question. He knew what the defense was trying to do and had not liked the allegations and implications that were flying back and forth from the defendant, courtesy of Mr. Palmer. As far as he was concerned, and he'd be willing to bet that any other reasonable, law-abiding heterosexual men would agree, there was no justification for this kind of crime. So he decided to answer the District Attorney's question as candidly as he dared. "If Justin Taylor had died, it would have been ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma. The action was deliberate and methodical, no matter that by witness accounts Justin turned around suddenly after hearing his name being yelled by Mr. Kinney. Had he been hit in the back of the head, his death would have been imminent. Then the necessity of determining ‘Simple Assault' and the accountability of who was at fault wouldn't have become an issue."
Peters: "I understand you had to tend Justin several times during the night. Can you give us an account of the surrounding circumstances?"
Mueller: "Without going into too much detail to protect my patient's privacy, I can tell you that the initial procedure of draining the blocked blood took about six hours to do without damaging the brain further. There were also several instances where Justin required the defibrillator during the night-- three in total. Although he remained unconscious, we also had to put him in a medically induced coma to allow his body to heal and recover. Surgery in any form is hard on the body but brain surgery is especially hard since it is essentially the control center."
She moved mentally to further testimony given by Dr. Vance Marrow, who was Justin's acting neurologist.
DA Peters: "Dr. Marrow, when were you given Justin Taylor's case and under what circumstances?"
Dr. Marrow: "The morning after the incident Dr. Mueller approached me personally about attending Justin since I have an extensive background in frontal lobe injuries."
Peters: "And how have you obtained such experience?"
Marrow: "I have been the consulting physician on 264 cases, including Justin's. I have also been working with other neurologists throughout the country on researching why some portions of the frontal lobe are affected but not others especially in terms of Justin's injuries."
Peters: "Does that mean he is a case study?"
Marrow: "I would be lying if I said that I didn't have a vested interest in this case. This is one of the most difficult cases I have encountered in a long time but Justin is far from a ‘case study' to my mind. He is an unfortunate young man with a long, difficult road to recovery ahead of him."
Peters: "By your observation, how has the actions of Christopher Hobbs affected Justin?"
Marrow: "Prior to Justin waking up fully, once we removed him from the medically induced coma, he still stayed in a natural one for several more weeks. When he awoke, he was confused, disoriented and fearful. As of yet, he cannot remember the more recent events. He can only remember up until three weeks before the incident with Mr. Hobbs. He also suffers from a significant form of PTSD which includes night terrors and the fear of people, even those he has been in close relationship with for most of his life especially Jennifer Taylor and his sister. There are only three people he will let near him. The only way I am able to examine him is if one of those three people remains in the room. He is abnormally angry due to the damage of his motor skills-- specifically his right hand. By all accounts Justin is an artist who was to scheduled to attend the Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Arts in September. Although he is ambidextrous, he predominantly uses his right hand for writing, drawing and other common motor skills. It's automatic since he grew up in a house full of right-handed people. Ideally he is used to having things placed within reach of that extremity. According to his Occupational Therapist, Miguel Rodriguez, it will take extensive and intensive therapy to regain the strength required to pursue his chosen field of study. His emotional well-being and ability to make decisions could possibly be impaired permanently. Since the mind is a tricky instrument, it is hard to tell. No matter what happens, the young man has a hard and long road ahead of him."
She had fought back tears as she listened to both the Neurosurgeon and the Neurologist's testimonies but nothing could have prepared her for the Chief of Psychiatry's account and insight into Justin Taylor.
Bethany Colbert had taken the stand, barely able to keep her emotions in check as DA Peters began his questioning. It was evident that she was more than angry; she was saddened that the ‘God-fearing People' had basically put her patient on trial simply for being gay.
DA Peters: "Dr. Colbert, how long have you been treating the victim in this case?"
Colbert: "For the last week... more accurately since he awoke from his coma."
Peters: "And what was your impression of Justin Taylor?"
Colbert: "I'm not sure what you mean."
Peters: "I mean what was his disposition like. Did you find him threatening? Belligerent? Unruly? Non-compliant? Unmanageable? In short, any of the descriptions the defense has used to describe Justin Taylor thus far."
Palmer: "Objection, your Honor. Calls for speculation."
Peters: "I beg to differ, Judge Russo. Who is there better qualified to answer this particular question than the medical professional responsible and to give an update on patient's overall disposition since he emerged from his deep sleep? The others gave reactionary explanations for Justin Taylor's behaviors in finding out that his right hand does not function as it ought. However, Dr. Colbert will have more insight into what he's thinking, feeling and experiencing as a result of this heinous and egregious crime."
She along with everyone else in the courtroom was appalled that he had actually seemed to be thinking about it instead of just overruling the objection. The meaning of the secret looks became all too clear to her in that moment. She could only hope that someone else had noticed. So she was surprised when Russo had done what he ought to have done in the first place. Had he known the damning outcome of the testimony about to be given, he might have ‘sustained' the objection after all.
Once the decision had been made, DA Peters continued. "Do you need me to repeat the question, Dr. Colbert?"
Colbert: "No need and I'll be more than happy to answer this question. When Justin is in a calm state, he is a bright, intelligent and engaging young man. He displays a wisdom and a truth about himself rarely found in most of my adult patients. His smile is able to light up a room-- when he does smile that is."
Peters: "When is that exactly?"
Colbert: "When talking about his family with the exception of his father. His mother, surrogate mother, sister, two best friends and his partner are the main sources of his innate happiness right now."
Peters: "You excluded his father, why?"
She scoffed at that question. "I think we all know the reason ‘why,' Mr. Peters but let me put this all in perspective for you. Using Craig Taylor's very blatant stipulation in regards to Justin living within his home as a basis, Justin was kicked out of his childhood habitat. Mr. Taylor wanted Justin to deny what he thinks, who he is and how he feels in order to remain a part of HIS family. How could anyone be expected to live under such stringent conditions?"
Palmer: "Objection, Your Honor. Move to strike the last portion of the witness' statement since it calls for speculation.
Russo: "Sustained. Please just answer the question given, Dr. Colbert without the commentary."
DA Peters cleared his throat before asking his next question. Although once again the court reporter was ordered to remove key testimony from the record, she did not.
Peters: "Has Justin mentioned the bashing at all?"
Colbert: "He does not remember the incident, only a series of events leading up to it."
Peters: "Such as?"
Colbert took her time in answering. "There were several incidents of harassment on Mr. Hobbs' part beginning the day after the handjob. Without disclosing too much and only revealing what is relevant about the event itself, I can honestly say that Chris Hobbs was a willing participant in the actions which resulted in his ejaculation into Justin's palm. It was an experiment on the part of both young men, however, it is apparent that Mr. Hobbs has some deep-seated issues of his own as well as some preconceived notions which he acted on repeatedly throughout the school year."
Peters: "Is it true that Justin revealed the handjob in the middle of Liberty Avenue in front of his fellow classmates?"
Colbert nodded. "That is correct but there were extenuating circumstances involved."
Peters: "Can you elaborate on those for the court?"
Colbert: "According to Justin, the day began with him being suspended. Kevin Dixon, a teacher at St. James Academy, did nothing while he was taking attendance and Chris Hobbs yelled out an offensive term in reference to homosexuality when Justin's name was called. Prior to that, Mr. Dixon walked in on a slight altercation involving Chris Hobbs and Justin because of yet another student Mr. Hobbs was harassing about being ‘queer.' When Justin demanded that Chris leave the other student alone, Chris' words were, ‘What is this? A faggot convention?' Needless to say that Justin defended both himself and the student who sat in silence as he was shoved and bullied. For a school with a ‘No Bullying' policy, there seemed to be a lot of it from the authoritative figures and spread copiously throughout the student body. The ‘outing' came about as a result of Justin being suspended from speaking his mind to Mr. Dixon and Chris Hobbs-- by Justin's account and my professional opinion, a closet case of the worse kind-- being on Liberty Avenue with his entourage. Chris committed an assault by shoving Justin that night as well, which was stopped by Brian Kinney who is Justin's life partner."
Peters: "He remembered all of that?"
Colbert laughed but there was no humor in it. "Since it happened three weeks before Justin was attacked at the prom, his memory of the incidents are as clear as if it happened just now. There were other situations regarding Chris Hobbs and Mr. Kevin Dixon but I assure you, Justin was NOT the aggressor during those events, including the harassment which again resulted in Justin being suspended-- not Chris Hobbs. Justin's nipple piercing was only visible due to changing his clothes from gym and NOT that of ‘flaunting himself' the way Craig Taylor surmised before threatening to withdraw him from St. James Academy and send him to military school. Justin was slapped in the face by his father- and I use the term ‘father' loosely- for his trouble when trying to explain the situation to the overbearing man. Yet he isn't the one standing trial. Apparently, Justin is."
Peters: "Why would you say that, Dr. Colbert? Chris Hobbs is the one on trial."
Colbert: "Not from my perspective or that of his family, Mr. Peters. All I have heard and seen is how it is Justin Taylor's ‘fault' that Chris Hobbs hit him in the head with a baseball bat and that he deserved it for dancing with his PARTNER at what is considered a rite of passage for EVERY high school student. Why would a FOOTBALL player have a baseball bat at the prom which was held at the Fairmont Hotel? That question has yet to be asked or answered."
Palmer: "Objection. Move to strike Dr. Colbert's last comments from the record. Again with the commentary, Your Honor?"
Russo: "Sustained. The court reporter will in fact disregard the question and resulting comment from the record."
The court reporter decided once again that due to the nature of the case, she would leave that information there in the record in case there was a need for it later which she secretly hoped there was. She made all of the necessary movements to look as if she was in fact following instructions but she wasn't. The case and all of the information given by the psychiatrist was far too important to ‘disregard' and she had a feeling that everyone in the courtroom during Dr. Colbert's testimony knew that, especially the defense counsel.
Amazingly at the time, she had still felt that the verdict would render justice on behalf of Justin Taylor to Christopher Mark Hobbs since he was definitely responsible for the hospitalization of the young man regardless of the antagonistic relationship between the young people. She herself had a gay son-- one the judge in this case never failed to ask about-- so she thought that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Judge Russo would still be fair and impartial in his ruling. When the verdict of 500 hours community service was rendered she felt every bit of the family's anguish at having been denied justice for their loved one. Listening to Judge Russo's reasoning in favor of his ruling made her sick to her stomach causing her to fight the rising bile burning her throat even while she typed. Statements like ‘It is understandable that Chris Hobbs, with his fine moral upbringing blah, blah, blah' made her glad that for once she followed her conscious about Dr. Colbert's long ago forgotten and disregarded testimony in light of Judge Russo's verdict that ANY parent with child who was attacked would find appalling and disheartening in the extreme. She was absolutely appalled and ashamed that she worked for such a bias system, where someone could honestly be guilty but it was all the victims fault for almost being killed. The verdict made it seem that such violence was okay as long as the homosexual victim hadn't died and that defendants such as Chris Hobbs could be absolved and exonerated of any wrongdoing, or at the most slapped on the wrist as a gesture of justice served, based on a bigoted heterosexual's ideal.
As the tears rolled down her face, she resolved that as soon as she returned home, she would hug her sixteen year old tight and thank every god known to man that her boy was safe and sound and to withdraw him from St. fucking James Academy immediately regardless of his father's opinions. The bigoted hate spewed venomously from Craig Taylor alone had made THAT decision. She would find a way to help the Taylors-- Justin and Jennifer-- and his partner Brian Kinney make the powers that be pay for the slight and denying that young man justice.
The man in question, Craig Taylor, was smiling victoriously as he shook hands with Samuel and Chris Hobbs as well as their defense attorney stating that it had been a job well done.
"Let this be a lesson to those fucking faggots that they cannot expect to have the right to protection under the law. God has clearly smiled on us today," Samuel remarked, trying to appear pious in front of the deviants situated across the courtroom.
Craig nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry for the trauma Justin caused you and your family. Had I known that he would try young Chris here, I would have shipped his ass off to military school long since."
"Oh I understand, Craig. There's a saying: Happy wife, happy life. I imagine that Jennifer wouldn't have been exempt from that adage. But you should definitely remind that boy who's in charge at your first opportunity."
"I have to wait until he's released from the hospital to do so but I certainly intend to. Justin got what he deserved...actually much less, truth be told. It's time he be reminded that actions have consequences."
"Why wait, Craig? Someone has to tell him that his attempt on a fine, upstanding young man like my Christopher, would not be tolerated and that the next time, he may not be so fortunate. People like him and those godless bastards over there should die," Samuel was adamant.
"Jennifer had me banned from seeing Justin." He would not tell him that Justin's ‘molester' was the one really in charge. That was still a sore point with Craig. It was already bad enough that Jennifer was embarrassing him by publicly divorcing him. He did not need to be made to look like an even bigger fool in the Hobbs' eyes.
"How is that even possible? You are his parent just as much as that woman is. Maybe you should speak to our attorney. I heard she is hellbent on divorce. If he could get Christopher here a reduced sentence, then perhaps he can help you when it comes to your wayward wife," Samuel said.
"I have retained an attorney already but thank you for the offer," Craig said noncommittally. Although he and Samuel had been friends since college, he wasn't comfortable talking with him about his marriage to Jennifer. Whatever happened between he and his wife was already common enough knowledge but with Samuel's access to his business through his attorney, there wouldn't be any secrets left within his personal life.
Craig looked at his watch, inwardly smiling at the time. Jennifer should be at work since she wasn't present inside the courtroom. Also notably missing was Justin's ever-present watchdog. Although Brian Kinney had been there for the proceedings, he was now nowhere in sight. Craig had noticed the expensive suit the man had on when he walked confidently into the courtroom earlier. It made him sick to think that the biggest gay whore in all of Pittsburgh could afford an Armani suit while he was stuck wearing threads of a lesser quality. He vowed that he would get even with Brian Kinney, but first... it was time to visit HIS son and no one would be there to stop him this time.
Bethany Colbert looked in on her patient as he attended his third Cognitive Therapy session with one of the best on her staff. Dr. Nicole Banks was usually dedicated to seeing results with her patients but as with everyone else on this case, her work with Justin Taylor was more than that. The ordinarily stoic countenance smiled at the blond as he finally remembered a sequence of events displayed on the custom made set of flashcards. It warmed Bethany's heart to see Justin focusing and displaying a determination which had seemed to disappear under the weight of Judge Russo's biased verdict.
She would have liked to think that she and her staff were so amazing that Justin couldn't help but respond to their tried and true methods-- something that may have been true to a small degree. But if she were totally honest, it was because of his relationship with his partner. Brian Kinney was nothing like what she had heard from various members of the hospital staff. ‘An Alpha gay male without a heart who will say anything, do anything and fuck anything,' was how she had heard him described. In retrospect, she believed that there was some jealousy embedded within those disparaging comments. For her part, all she saw was a man wholeheartedly dedicated to the care of Justin Taylor.
After she'd arrived back at the hospital last week from hearing the verdict, she had expected Justin to be in such an unmanageable state that she was tempted to request the sedative even before speaking with him. Based on the whirlwind his hospital room was, Hurricane Justin had hit and nearly demolished everything in its path. But when she fully walked into the room, she was deeply moved by the scene which greeted her. On the bed, cuddled next to a whimpering but sleeping Justin, was Brian Kinney. His Armani suit was rumpled and his closed eyes were leaking silent tears as he stroked the overlong blond strands of Justin's hair. She couldn't imagine what the whole situation was doing to him; she already knew what Justin was feeling because of their many conversations so far into his therapy sessions. But Brian was the one who had to pick up the pieces of Justin's former life and rebuild it, even as she was the one to pick it apart. No, she couldn't reconcile what people-- even sometimes those he considered family-- said about Brian Kinney to the man she was coming to know through his actions.
Shifting her attention back to the semi-joyous scene before her, she smiled at Justin's bent head. The slight wrinkle of his brow showed that he was really making an effort and concentrating on the task before him. Nicole had set out a series of puzzles for Justin to put into order. Bethany knew the exercise well as she had used them herself on patients with Justin Taylor's level of intelligence many times. The pieces were jumbled but when put in their correct order they would make 3D pictures of famous monuments. After consulting with Miguel, the Occupational Therapist, it was decided that this was an excellent way for Justin to work his fine motor skills, recover his artistic ability without being able to draw and exercise his brain function at the same time. As a result, Nicole and Miguel alternated their days or held sessions together. The major surprise was that Justin loved Scrabble and Taboo. Brian had divulged that information when she was trying to coordinate his services to include the things Justin loved doing, not just the standard textbook methods. Brian had also brought in their friend Theodore Schmidt who was quite the word smith in his own right. Playing the games seemed to help Justin not only calm down but focus especially during Taboo since word association was a big part of Cognitive Therapy. They tied a bell around Justin's left hand and advised that he'd lose points for every time he used his left hand to pick up the small tiles used in Scrabble therefore it made Justin focus and exercise his right hand. Three things she had learned about Justin Taylor was that he was a determined young man, he hated to lose by his own merit and that he was a tough-as-nails opponent.
As she watched, she saw the bright smile grace his beautiful face. He often reminded her of the cherubs she'd seen gracing the ceiling of the local catholic church of which she used to be a member. His blue eyes shone brightly at whatever was being said within the confines of the room. His bangs covered his forehead which made him look more mature than his eighteen years but didn't take away from his look of innocence. In fact it enhanced his natural beauty. His resilient nature was once again evident as he bent his head again, working extra hard at picking up the next piece of the puzzle. She decided to see firsthand how he was doing. He was fast becoming her most favorite patient...ever.
"Good Afternoon, Justin. How are you doing today?" She absorbed the smile which was like the sun-- warm and bright.
"I think I'm doing okay today. Nicole? Am I doing alright?"
Dr. Banks smiled back at the young man. "You are doing excellent today, Justin. I am proud of you."
"Well I'm proud of you too," he answered still smiling. "You haven't kicked me out for making dirty jokes yet."
Bethany couldn't help but laugh at that. "Oh? Are you indulging inappropriate thoughts when you should be concentrating?"
Justin looked a little shamefaced before he registered Bethany's smile. "Have you seen Brian? I kinda can't help but think those thoughts."
"Where is Brian today?"
Justin answered without thought which surprised both Bethany and Nicole. "He's at work. Chances are there's another big campaign that requires his attention."
"Did Brian tell you that he was going to work?" Bethany asked.
Justin scrunched his nose in thought, trying to remember if Brian had in fact told him that. "I can't remember if he told me, but usually when he isn't with me, either he is at work or I am. Or I am at school or we are at Babylon or Woody's."
"Brian lets you go to those places? Aren't you a little young for the local gay bar?"
"Age is relative." Justin laughed. "I'm probably the most mature person he knows."
"Has he told you that?" Nicole asked.
"No. I remember telling him that, but I can't remember why right now."
Bethany nodded. She was happy with Justin's progress thus far, and he was beginning to remember important conversations. It was a major step in his recovery-- although still small. The mind is funny that way though. She checked her watch before saying, "Hey Justin, it's almost dinner time. Are you ready to go back to your room?"
"I kinda wanted to finish this today but I suppose I should," Justin sighed.
Nicole put an arm around the young blond. "Don't worry, Sweetheart. I'll see you in a couple of days and we'll work on it some more. In the meantime, why don't we put what you've done so far over on the shelves so that it's ready for your next visit. Would you like some help today?" Nicole had learned during the first session what an independent creature Justin was. He wasn't keen on asking for nor accepting help but he was making progress.
It took a few moments for Justin to process what he was asked but eventually nodded. "Yes please. My hand is a little tired and I don't think I want to drop all the pieces. That's an awful lot to have to pick up."
"Okay Darling. Let's get to it and then we can feed you."
"A bacon cheeseburger?"
Both Nicole and Bethany laughed but it was Bethany who answered. "Well we know what you will be eating the minute you're able to blow this popstand. I'll tell you what... you continue to make progress and we'll evaluate you next week for release and see if we can set you up with some home services. Sound okay?"
"Does that mean I would have to get used to new people?" Justin's voice had suddenly become small and he tried to hide himself.
"Does the thought of new people frighten you, Justin?"
The young man couldn't seem to answer verbally but was able to nod his head in response. Both of the women held back the tears that were forming. One minute Justin was outgoing and confident; the next second he so fearful that the tremors he tried to still within his slight form became visible.
Bethany stood next to him, careful not to touch him at the start of his sudden panic attack. They were still working on ways that would help him learn to control them but they hadn't gotten there yet. "I don't want you to worry about anything right now, Justin. We'll work everything out when the time comes okay, but right now I want you to empty your mind like we've been practicing. Inhale and hold for five seconds and exhale for five," she said soothingly, praising him as he followed her directions. She watched as Justin's trembling form began to regain its control. She once again cursed everything and everyone that had hurt the precious young man, even as she continued to calm him down. When the tremors had finally subsided sometime later, she smiled at him. "See Justin, you've done so well. I knew you could do it you know. Now, how about we get you a quiet stomach to go to along with your newly quiet spirit."
Justin's stomached growled loudly causing the young man to laugh out loud. "Just like a german train."
"What do you mean?" Nicole asked.
"All of my appetites always come in on time." He wickedly wiggled his eyebrows causing the ladies to laugh. The innuendos were not lost on either of them. Still conversing, although a little more tame, the three of them left Nicole's office in search of some edible nourishment for the hungry teen.
Across town Michael and Debbie were gearing up for their own therapy session. The Gay and Lesbian Center was packed, it had taken them forever to find a park. Debbie was practically running toward the building.
"Michael, hurry up. I don't want to be late."
"Really? Since when?" Michael answered her, not at all sure that it was a good idea for them to be going to the fucking GLC for counseling.
Debbie stopped short and turned to look at him. "What exactly is your problem, Michael? You need it! You witnessed a traumatic event and that is not to be taken lightly. David said that you've been having nightmares every night."
"When the hell did you speak to David?" Michael asked unable to keep the petulance from his voice. Michael had barely spoken to David himself since he had returned to Portland from visiting Pittsburgh two weeks ago. And he had no intention of doing so now that he was back in Pittsburgh again.
Honestly, when Michael was there, he couldn't wait to get away from his partner again. David was always hovering and demanding to know what Michael was thinking about. If it didn't match what David thought should be in Michael's head, there was always a fucking argument. As with many aspects of David and Michael's relationship, everything had to be done on David's time and there was no room in Michael's heart and mind for anything that interfered with David's agenda... or at least that was the way David demanded that it be. So when his mother suggested they attend therapy together, Michael literally jumped at the chance, barely bidding David goodbye. The man was becoming such an asshole, and nothing like the man Michael had fallen in love with enough to consider moving away from Pittsburgh in the first place. It was time for Michael to seriously reconsider what HE wanted. Of course, he could really use Brian's advice on the matter but his best friend was currently dealing with a ‘twink crisis' of his own.
"I spoke to him this afternoon, Michael. By the way, what's going on with you two? He said you haven't called him since you came back here."
"Ma, leave it alone."
"You're gonna fuck it up, Michael. A doctor doesn't come around everyday."
"I get that Ma and I don't need you to tell me that, or should I say remind me of it. You've told me that so many times already that I've lost count. I also don't need you blaming shit on me. Doctor David Cameron is FAR from perfect despite what you think." Michael folded his arms as he moved passed Debbie into the building, grumbling about nosy mothers and idiotic partners; about what a fucking mistake it was to leave in the first place.
Although Debbie pretended not to hear, she heard every word, and wondered, not for the first time, why Michael seemed so fucking unhappy. She knew the situation with Justin had gotten to him. Hell it had gotten to EVERYBODY but there were moments when Michael would just stare off into space or look at her like he wanted to tell her something important. The last time he was in town she could have sworn David had called the house phone to ‘check up' on Michael and confirm his whereabouts. The comments and conversation between the two men seemed so stilted that even Vic had asked her later if she had any idea what was going on. Yes Michael could be sneaky and secretive, but never when it came to her. She could read him like an open book and he was clearly NOT happy. The only question was WHY.
Catching up to her son, Debbie moved in place beside him as he continued to walk to the appointed office. "Michael, honey, I only want what's best for you."
"Well then you have to let me decide that, Ma. David is already doing that very thing... deciding FOR me. I swear sometimes I think he just has me there as his fucking trophy, especially since Hank is there now. He wants the model of the perfect fucking family. Meanwhile, I can't find a job and I don't have any friends. They're ALL David's. We had decided that I would go to school to further my education only the courses that I wanted to take don't fit in with HIS standards and he wouldn't pay for it." Michael blew out an exasperated breath. "You know what... this isn't your problem and I'm tired of talking about this shit so let's just forget it, okay?"
Debbie was speechless for a moment. Could it really be that bad? Could Michael really be that miserable? Or is it simply because Brian isn't around? She glanced over at Michael as they headed down yet another corridor leading to the offices for counselors. She had never seen Michael so low, not even when Justin entered their lives. Up until now, Michael's sniping and griping with the youngest member of their family could have been written off as simple jealousy-- the unrequited love of Brian Kinney that would never be returned in a million fucking years. But looking at Michael now, she knew that the circumstances had less to do with Brian and more to do with Michael's own expectations. She recalled Brian telling her before that Michael lived in a world full of ‘superheroes' and that when one of them failed to meet his expectations, Michael became angry at everything that entered his path. At first, she downplayed the moment to them being high on his good weed, having a beer and an overload of tuna noodle casserole but now looking at her son, she had to admit that there may have been some truth to what Brian had said.
"Michael, my advice-- and I know you didn't ask for it but listen anyway-- my advice would be to take advantage of this free counseling."
"Ma, I don't--"
Debbie held up her hand. "Baby, I think you do and not just because of the situation with Justin but for yourself. I know that you are not happy with David but you have some major decisions to make regarding that. Perhaps the counselor can help you put everything-- not just your relationship with David-- but EVERYTHING into perspective. Sometimes it just takes an unbiased listening ear and a talk, for one to put things in their proper order of importance. I want you to promise me that you will give it some serious thought."
Michael looked at Debbie, blankly at first but then registering what she was really trying to tell him without ordering him to do it. He smiled a little at the thought that for the first time his thoughts were heard and understood by his mother and that she was allowing him to come to his own conclusion instead of what she thought it should be. All of a sudden a grip of nervousness assailed Michael as he realized what it could mean if he made the wrong choice for himself. He wasn't used to having to weigh his options-- none this big at any rate. But it was his life and pass or fail, he had to make the decision of whether he thought his partnership with David was worth saving. He looked her in the eye, immediately assured by the steadiness he saw there. "I promise to give it a shot, Ma," said Michael, holding her hand.
"Good baby," Debbie said smiling. She leaned over a smooched his cheek and then carefully wiping the red lipstick stain away.
"Well let's get to it then, Ma. Now that I've made up my mind, I'm kinda anxious to talk all this stuff out.
As they opened the door, both stopped dead in their tracks, and their mouths dropped open, looking at the veritable god before them. He was about 6'2", muscular build and reminded Michael immediately of Superman. The gorgeous healthy-looking brown hair and glasses added to his sexiness in a naughty librarian sort of way and Michael was awestruck. Debbie recovered first when the man spoke to her in a low tenor.
"Hello, I'm Ben Bruckner. Are you the Novotnys?"
Debbie blinked twice as Michael still just stood there, apparently struck dumb by the man who was moving toward them. She gave herself a little shake before extending her hand in greeting. "Hi, Mr. Bruckner. I'm Debbie and this is my son Michael." She looked over to her usually over-talkative son and almost snickered aloud. "Forgive him. Usually it takes a mouthful of food to shut him up and even that doesn't always work. You apparently are already a miracle worker."
"He speaks so I guess I can take the title of ‘miracle worker' to heart then. And please Debbie and Michael, just call me Ben. I run my sessions pretty informally so there is no reason to stand on ceremony." He shook Debbie's hand first before taking Michael's sweaty palm into his own. The shock was almost immediate causing Ben to almost jerk his hand away. Instead he smiled at them and almost laughed aloud to hear the slight gasp emit from the brunet. Ben's gaydar was pinging in ways it hadn't for a long time but he wouldn't act on it...not now. These people were putting their trust and faith in him so he wouldn't sacrifice that just to have the tasty-looking brunet beneath him.
Debbie broke the silence as she took one of the empty seats in front of the desk. "So Ben, do you know why we're here?"
He seated himself behind the massive oak desk dominating the office. "I've read the initial report but I would like to hear the summary in your own words."
"My son witnessed something horrific, but the act has affected our whole family. I'm not sure if you watch the news but a very close friend-- a member of our little makeshift family-- was brutally attacked with a baseball bat a few weeks ago."
Ben nodded. "I was so sorry to hear about Justin Taylor. How is he doing?"
"Wait...you... you know Justin?" Michael asked beating down a momentary feeling of jealousy although he didn't understand why.
"Yes I know him. We met here a little over eleven months ago at the fundraiser. Since then I've gotten to know the young man pretty well since he's been teaching art to the preschoolers of gay parents. He's a remarkable young man, patient and kind even with the most unruly of the bunch. Several of the parents are getting together to do something nice for him."
"Well that's just great," Debbie said. "Our Sunshine is a special one, he is."
"Yeah...great," Michael echoed although his tone and posture displayed anything but.
It didn't escape Ben's notice. "Do you have a problem with Justin, Michael?"
Michael fidgeted in his seat under the watchful eyes of both Ben and Debbie. He cleared his throat, which had become tight all of a sudden, before answering. "I wouldn't say that I have a problem with him per se."
"Well what is it then?" Debbie demanded.
"Jesus Christ, Ma! Okay so I didn't like him. I wasn't hanging off his balls since the first time I met him like everyone else, including Brian. He's opportunistic and a pain in the ass in a variety of ways-- none of them good," Michael exploded but then tempered his voice and sighed. "But he didn't deserve what happened to him; nobody deserves that. Chris Hobbs should be rotting in jail for what he did but like all gay bashers he's free with nothing more than a slap on the fucking wrist. Meanwhile Justin.... Justin has had to fight for his life even before fucking Hobbs. First Craig puts him out, then he's bullied at school and now this. At least when I was bullied, I had Brian to protect me. Justin had Brian in a different way but it still didn't protect him."
"There but for the grace of God go any of us, Michael," Ben said sanguinely. "So where does all of this leave you and your feelings for Justin?"
"First, let me say, I have feelings ABOUT Justin, not for him. There's a big difference and I just wanted to point that out. As for if he and I can ever be friends, who the fuck knows? I've said some pretty mean shit and he's no fucking angel either, as much as he looks like one. But I do feel sorry for the kid, the way I would feel for anyone in this situation. Does that make me a bad person?"
"I don't know since I'm just meeting you, Michael. That is a question you would have to answer for yourself. But answer this for me: is it that Brian is with Justin that bothers you or that Brian is not with you that makes you feel apathetic toward Justin before and beyond the bashing?"
"I don't follow. Justin is just the trick who stayed too long; the one that wouldn't go home."
"Michael! That is NOT true and you know it," Debbie interrupted what was sure to result in a long diatribe about how Justin is only there for Brian's money and how Brian will never change. She's heard it a million and five times all with the same response from her, ‘It's none of your fucking business; Brian is a big boy and can handle Justin.' From what she had seen between Brian and Justin, the feeling was certainly mutual. Sunshine could give as good as he got when he chose to trade insults with Michael but she kept that to herself and would continue to do so until asked.
"No we all know that it's true, Ma. You only see what you want to see regarding Justin."
"The same could be said about you, Michael."
"But it isn't. Ted and Emmett see it too."
"Who are Ted and Emmett?" Ben asked wanting to get a clearer picture of Michael's gripe with the young blond. So far, Ben couldn't reconcile Michael's opinion of Justin Taylor and Brian Kinney's relationship within his own mind. He'd seen the two together on more than one occasion especially when they thought they weren't being observed. Ben had never seen a hotter pair of queers, equal in every way except age. Their interactions spoke of something more than the common lust Brian Kinney was known for on Liberty Avenue.
"Ted and Emmett are my other two good friends... well mine and Brian's. They were there the night Brian met Justin too. And they agree with me that Justin should have been sent back to his playpen a long fucking time ago."
"That isn't true and you know it, Michael," Debbie said again. "If there is one thing that you and I seem to have in common, it's that we BOTH see what we want to see regarding Justin. The only difference is that my vision of him is clear whereas yours is clouded by jealousy."
"What the hell...Ma, why would I need to be jealous of Justin Taylor?" Michael huffed, folding his arms petulantly, as he usually did when he felt he was being misunderstood.
"Would you like me to write a fucking list or just mention ONE thing?" Debbie asked her son. When he continued to be silent, Debbie shook her head and then addressed Ben. "You see, my son and Brian have been ‘best friends' since they were fourteen. Michael has always wanted...more than what Brian was willing to give. Brian loves Michael as a kid brother or as a best friend-- which they are. Michael, however, still holds out a little hope that they could be more someday. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that spark will never completely diminish no matter how old either of them get. In the meantime, Brian is Justin's partner."
"He is NOT Justin's partner," Michael spat out.
"Yes he IS," Debbie answered through clenched teeth. "The sooner you accept that, the better off you will be. Brian and Justin are together and they will remain so until such a time that their relationship-- and don't give me any fucking Kinneyisms about the ‘r' word-- now again Brian and Justin are partners until their relationship no longer serves them. In the meantime, I think it's time you address your concerns about your OWN relationship."
Ben winced a bit. He couldn't deny that he'd entertained the thought momentarily of having a situationship with Michael Novotny. But in the few brief seconds of Debbie's revelation, Ben's fantasy was rendered impossible to fulfill. Schooling his features from disappointed to impassive yet interested, Ben asked, "So Michael, what's going on in your relationship that bears scrutiny according to Debbie?"
"I don't think this is the time and place for this discussion," Michael tried to curb the whine in his voice but with the added stress of the session it was more pronounced.
Debbie sucked her teeth in response to Michael's behavior. Grown man indeed. Well she wasn't letting him leave here without at least agreeing to voice some his own unhappiness regarding David. The conversation about superheros she'd had with Brian rose in her mind again. "Nonsense, Michael. This is the perfect time and place for the discussion. You promised me you would try. Remember?"
"Of course I remember, Ma. It's just...it's just that...well it's just you probably shouldn't hear a lot of what I have to say. You're my mother for fuck's sake."
"Yeah. I remember that I am your mother. I was there." Debbie rolled her eyes but agreed, "Okay, I'll let you have your private moments with Ben after our own therapy sessions. When are you due back in Portland?"
"A week from today," Michael said in a voice so low, both Ben and Debbie had to lean forward to hear him.
"Michael, if you're free, I could see you tomorrow at around twelve. I have a two-hour break between classes tomorrow."
"Classes? What do you teach?"
"I teach Gay Studies and also Literature at Carnegie Mellon. Tomorrow is one of my lighter days during the week. So if the time works well with you..."
"The time is fine, Ben. Would we be meeting here?"
"Closer to the campus would be more convenient for me, if that's not too much trouble for you," Ben said. From a clinical standpoint, he was very interested in Michael Novotny's problems. The human psyche and disposition continued to be a fascinating topic for him to explore. From a personal standpoint, he was also interested, but that didn't matter much since the man was in a relationship. Ben didn't foresee a problem keeping things professional.
"That would be okay. I could meet you in front of the English Lit building if you want."
"That would be perfect. Are you familiar with the campus? Did you graduate from there?"
"No but I've been there a couple of times. Brian did his undergrad there when we graduated high school. He was on Soccer scholarship."
"Oh I see. And where did you go to college?"
Michael blushed. "I only did three semesters at Allegheny Community College. I've been thinking about going back."
Ben smiled serenely before saying, "Well it's never too late to go back and start again, Michael."
Debbie watched the dialogue between the two men. In that moment, she wished like hell that she had never endorsed David Cameron for her son. Brian had told her it was a mistake but she didn't want to believe him; thought it was just some ploy to keep Michael under his thumb. In hindsight, she realized that keeping Michael from growing up was never Brian's goal but seeing Michael happy was. She owed Brian a big fucking apology but she wouldn't tell him that. Brian never said ‘I told you so' but his smug looks sure as hell did. As she watched Ben speak softly to her son, she could tell that the Professor was more than interested. But she could also see that he was a man of integrity who already respected Michael. It was very different than the way things were with David. She saw that now but in any event, she would warn Michael about letting the metaphorical heat out of the house, meaning keep his ass hole reserved for David until he officially made a decision regarding their relationship. There was nothing worse than letting a fire burn out of control, and she could tell that if Ben and Michael were allowed to burn before Michael and David were officially extinguished, there was bound to be an explosion-- one Michael couldn't handle or get out of. Better to curb the problem NOW than have to clean up the mess in the very-near future. As Michael led her out of the office with a smile on his face, she wondered how much time she actually had before the shit hit the proverbial fan. God, is there any wonder why I gave up the idea of marriage? Geez what a fucking mess!
Options- the Aftermath of the Hobbs Trial Part 1
It was a busy time within the office of Kurtzman, Vasquez, Kushira and Marcus as they dealt with fallout from the Chris Hobbs' sentencing of 500 hours community service. To say that Melanie Marcus, a partner within the law firm, was pissed off would be an understatement to how she really felt. Not only was she angry as Justin's friend, she was a lesbian lawyer making a name for herself in what was already considered an old boys club, an enviable position among women but not without its own brand of pitfalls and bullshit. All of the legal briefs and the accompanying police reports that Carl Horvath had forwarded to them upon hearing the verdict, littered the conference room table as she and Charles went painstakingly went over every single detail of the Hobbs trial trying to find a common thread. After speaking with Justin, Brian and Jennifer, they decided to file several civil suits against Christopher and Samuel Hobbs, Craig Taylor and the State.
"Melanie, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but it seems like even with all this, we can't fight the Hobbs Machine," Charles said in a matter-of-fact tone.
"I'm not accepting that Charles. The bottom line is that Justin Taylor's civil rights were violated. They were royally fucked by the same system that was supposed to protect him and give him justice. For all that poor kid has gone through, it is the least I can do to see he comes out on top of all this. No matter how much fucking money a person has, no one should be ABOVE the law. Samuel Hobbs and his cronies seem to have forgotten that. It's time we make them fucking remember," Melanie said as she combed through the documents on her desk again. She was struck by an idea which for some reason hadn't occurred to her before, but now it was plain as day. "Charles, I need you to pull up Judge Roy Russo's resume. It should be within the public file since he is a judge with the county."
Charles smiled catching what Melanie was going for but not saying. "I love it when you go all bull dyke on me, no matter that you're wearing $400 Manolos."
Mel laughed. "If I didn't know better I would swear you were gay for knowing that."
"Not a fucking chance, but my wife would probably be best friends with Brian Kinney if he ever needed a shopping buddy. By all accounts, his wardrobe and hers could feed a small country in the most obscure part of the world for over half a century."
Melanie laughed again even as she was calling for the person knocking on the door to enter. At the entrance to the elegantly decorated space stood a short-statured woman with fiery red hair. The green of her wide eyes looked kind of shell-shocked but upon further scrutiny, Melanie could see they were also intelligent. The smattering of freckles across her nose and cheekbones was even more pronounced against the peaches and cream complexion of her face. She reminded Melanie of the pictures of Pixie dolls she'd seen as a child.
"I'm....I'm sorry to interrupt but I.... I thought I could help you. That is, if you're planning on still helping Justin Taylor," the woman stated in a soft-spoken voice.
Charles sat up straight in his chair, his eyes studying the petite woman who continued to stand in the doorway. Her big tote bag literally looked as if she herself could fit inside it. Charles grinned crookedly at the woman before darting his eyes to Melanie. "I KNOW she can help us, Mel. This lady is the court reporter who was on duty during the Hobbs trial." He rose from his chair upon hearing the woman's sigh of relief for being recognized. He crossed over to her, extending his hand. "I'm Charles Sands, attorney for Mr. Taylor and his partner, Mr. Kinney. This is Melanie Marcus, a partner in the firm and also a close friend of Brian and Justin. Please come in and have a seat."
"I can't stay long. I have to be back in court this afternoon but I bought you something." She lifted the tote bag as high as she could which wasn't very much. Charles happily relieved her of it and placed it onto one of the chairs around the long white table. "I really hope that helps. It's all of the notes from the trial including some testimony that was ordered to be removed from the record. The notations of which comments Judge Russo wanted removed are there. I transcribed all of the notes myself; I didn't trust anyone else to do it correctly or to keep the secret." She bowed her head, looking at the floor partially in shame at her actions.
"What's your name?" Melanie asked.
"Claudia...Claudia Jefferies, Ma'am."
"Well Claudia, regardless of what is in those documents, I'm sure Brian and Justin thank you. Charles and I were just trying to figure out how to tie all of this in together. We will definitely be filing a few civil suits due to the biased ruling."
Claudia nodded. "I have a gay son myself so please, if you can use any of it, do it. There hasn't been a precedent set yet for this type of case and personally I am tired of gay bashers getting off with community service due to some homophobic prick. No queer with good taste would want any one of their asses." Realizing what she just said, Claudia clammed up and dropped her head again.
Melanie and Charles laughed but Melanie spoke to the woman. "Hell the way I see it, their wives must have been desperate to accept them. That or forced, either way, these men won't get away with what they've done to Justin. You have my word."
For the first time, Claudia stepped further into the room, gripping Melanie's hand even as silent tears ran down her face. "Thank you, Ms. Marcus. I can't tell you what this means to me. Sitting there day-after-day listening to them justify Christopher Hobbs' actions made me clearly sick to my gut. Just so you know, there are other connections here that may benefit your case."
"There are?" Charles asked. "I was just looking for one but if you can give me a clue as to what I am looking for, I would greatly appreciate it."
Claudia took a deep breath, knowing what she was about to impart was risky but it was also the truth. "The funny thing about being considered ‘mousey' is that I am rarely noticed. As a result, I can tell you that if you pull up the resumes of Samuel Hobbs, Dr. Mitchell Perkins, Chief James Stockwell, Craig Taylor, Judge Roy Russo, Mr. Palmer and DA Peters, you will find that they ALL attended Dartmouth College at the same time perhaps a year or two once removed. Judge Russo, DA Peters, and Mr. Palmer all attended Harvard Law School together-- again a year or two removed. They play golf at the country club at least twice a week and have been doing so for many years. Jennifer Taylor, Kevin Dixon, my ex-husband Gregory and I all graduated from Dartmouth in the same class which was a year behind Craig Taylor."
"Holy shit! Holy fucking SHIT!" Melanie exclaimed as she took the nearest chair and flopped down in it. "You just busted this case wide open, Claudia."
The court reporter smiled brightly for the first time, transforming her features attractively. "I am happy to do it. One more thing and then I have to go before I am late. Get the depositions to Judge Lisa P. Lano. It is the only way you'll be guaranteed fairness in this. She's not part of, related to or married to anyone in the WASP nest."
Charles shook Claudia's hand. "Thank you so much, Claudia. I can't tell you what you've done."
"It was my pleasure to do it. My ex-husband is also a part of that club. This is my way of not only sticking it to the bigots that were in that courtroom, but to him as well. Good luck." And with that she was gone as quietly as she'd come in.
"Charles, it looks like it's going to be a late night. After we accumulate everything and put it into order, we have to head over to the hospital to meet with the family. We have to get a sworn affidavits from Daphne, Vic and Debbie to attest to the constant harassment from Hobbs toward Justin, as well as Daphne's witness account of the prom incident. Brian and Justin want to sue Craig Taylor for defamation of character which they are sure to win. In addition to that, until the divorce is finalized, Craig still has control over Justin's college fund left by his grandfather so there are two options there. Justin can either wait for the divorce proceedings to be final or he can sue Craig for every red cent now. I opt for the latter because any man that would betray his son like that asshole did, wouldn't hesitate to spend or withdraw every fucking penny rightfully belonging to his gay son. And there's no guarantee anything would happen to him at all considering who his ‘friends' are. You'd better call the wife."
"You'd should do the same, Mel. I think Lindsey will be a helluva lot more to deal with than Dawn."
Melanie sighed knowing Charles was right. "Then it would be best if I got the bullshit out of the way so I can concentrate on this. But first I need to call Jennifer Taylor to freeze Craig's access to Justin's college fund immediately. Whatever Lindsey's issue with this whole thing, she's got a lot of self-inventory to take."
Magic Moments/ Options Part 2
After Brian left the office, he went home, changed and headed straight for the hospital to see his favorite blond. He couldn't be sure why he was doing so much for Justin-- whether it was that he felt responsible, or if there was more-- but he wouldn't change any of it. That, in and of itself was telling. Lindsey constantly reminded him that he couldn't change what happened; that there was nothing he could do. He supposed she was right, but it was reassuring to Justin when he awoke from one of the night terrors to find that Brian was right there, holding him and guiding him through it. That had to count for something.
As for Michael's behavior, he supported Brian but there were definite conditions to that ‘support.' When Hobbs first bashed Justin, Michael was either there with Brian in person or he was on the phone constantly. Since Justin had emerged from his deep sleep he was lucky if he'd gotten two phone calls a week. He supposed that was David's influence; Mikey always did follow the lead of his lovers, but it still rankled a bit. The unwavering presence of Deb, Vic, Emmett, Daphne, and Ted had gotten Brian through many moments of blaming himself, although he hadn't said anything aloud. And Jennifer Taylor... that was another strange thing for the man who was not used to having back-up, so to speak. She had been there, and although Justin was her son and it was expected of her, Jennifer never failed to check on Brian, to keep him encouraged and sane throughout the whole process. She had advised him to speak to someone to process all of what had happened, before he internalized something that really wasn't his fault. As he waited at a traffic light in route to see Justin, he remembered how that conversation had gone the day after the farce of a verdict had been rendered.
"Mother Taylor, how are you?" Brian asked politely as she handed him a cup of coffee.
She rolled her eyes before she could catch herself which caused Brian to laugh. "That's a nice sound." When he looked at her puzzled, she continued. "Your laugh. It's nice to hear, Brian. You should do it more often."
"Yeah well, I haven't had very much to laugh at lately."
"Don't I know it. How is he today?"
"Existing, breathing... alive, so I guess he's doing okay," Brian answered.
They lapsed into a brief silence; a show of solidarity in remembrance of past weeks when they were on pins and needles, praying that Justin would pull through. Jennifer grabbed Brian's hand, causing him to look at the dainty extremity before meeting her eyes.
"Brian, I know how you feel about therapy, but I think you should speak to someone. You're internalizing something that clearly wasn't your fault and it hurts to watch."
At first he just stared at her. She and Justin shared so many features: both natural blonds with an aura of innocence. With that in mind, he chose his words with care when addressing her concerns. "Jennifer, all therapy is bullshit. The question they always ask is ‘and how does that make you feel?' How the hell do they think I feel? Justin laid in a coma for weeks; one he should have never been in, just because I did what I shouldn't have done."
"What? Made him happy?"
"Yeah well, making other people happy can be hazardous to both of you."
"You can't possibly believe that, Brian."
Brian shook his head before answering her. Nodding toward the window of the room housing a slumbering Justin he said, "Jennifer, look at him, so small and still. From the moment I met him the only time I'd ever seen him still was when he was sleeping-- and not even then. Did you know he's a bed hog? I have to sleep on a corner of the bed unless I hold him. I can't tell you how many times I almost ended up on the floor. He shouldn't be in that bed, Jennifer. He should be in mine...OURS. I never thought I would ever say that. I tried to keep him out of it so many fucking times, but that little tenacious twink always had his way in the end."
Jennifer smiled softly in response. "He always does, Brian. I remember when he was learning to ride his bike. He kept falling, over and over again. Even broke his left arm but cast and all he was determined to master it. It's a different context but he'll overcome it."
"How can you be so sure, Jennifer? This is so much more than a bike ride," Brian said as he pushed himself from the window facing into Justin's room.
Jennifer chuckled softly. "Hello, have you met Justin Taylor?" she shook her head. "I didn't just meet him yesterday and whether you admit it to yourself or not, neither did you. He sees something he wants and fearlessly drives himself to achieve it."
"He got you didn't he?" She crossed back over where he had once again seated himself. "Brian, you have to believe in him. Regardless of what I think or feel about it, your opinion matters to him. You drive him to want to be better."
"We drive each other," Brian said, his voice soft and reflective. He remembered the many conversations he and Justin had when it was just the two of them. Either in bed or out of it, he finally admitted to himself what those talks meant to him. No one ‘got him' or could read him like Justin and vice versa.
Jennifer watched the emotional play on Brian's face in one of the few unguarded moments she'd ever seen the older man have. She decided to give him another little push not only for Justin... but for himself. "Brian, talk to someone, please. If not for me or for yourself, do it for Justin. He's going to need you whole and focused when he gets out of here. Once he and I reconnected, he told me how strong you are and he wasn't talking about physically. If I have learned one thing about my son, it's that no matter how good you look physically, if he isn't attracted to your mind and heart, he would have left you after that first night of fucking and never looked back. You would have told him to leave and he would have; he was never one to stay where he wasn't wanted. But you, he chased after no matter how many times you turned him away. He's like a sponge when it comes to you, soaking up information about you, your courage and your wisdom about life.That has to mean something."
He looked at her full-on, not batting an eyelash when he spoke. "I care about him, you know."
She smiled and it reminded him so much of Justin in that moment. "I know you do, Brian, which is why I know you'll do the right thing by yourself. By doing right by you, you'll also do right by him. That's what partnership really means. You take care of each other indeed, but it also means taking care of yourself so that you can take care of him. Promise me you'll do that?"
Brian folded his lips in, thinking about it. Did he really want to make a promise to this woman-- one that he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to keep let alone could? "I promise."
"Good, that's settled. Also settled is that you are going to return to work effective Monday morning," Jennifer said sternly.
"No buts, Brian. You have been at this hospital and working from home long enough during this process. Who knows how many days you'll have to take off to take care of Justin when he's released? It's better to be safe than sorry in this respect and I for one would like to visit with you someplace other than here."
"I can't leave him too long, Jennifer."
"Yes you can-- at least during work hours. We could have lunch sometime. Justin will be alright. You'll see. And he has to get used to other people again."
"Okay," Brian surprised himself by saying. He was never one for letting other people tell him what to do.
Jennifer noticed and laughed. "You have two mothers now between Debbie and me. Get used to it."
Brian couldn't help the snicker which escaped him. He never thought in a million years that he would like Jennifer Taylor, but the more he got to know her, the more he did. He couldn't help but admit that Debbie was a great influence on the WASP. She was no longer afraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself. He could almost feel sorry for Craig Taylor by the time Jennifer got through with him...almost. They had talked a few more moments before she went in to see Justin who was awaking from his nap.
Moving his mind back to the matter at hand, Brian took a peek into Justin's room then looked at his watch. He figured the missing patient was with his Cognitive Therapist although if it were Brian, he probably would have left the hospital altogether. He would have to ask Justin's doctors about that--whether it was a natural occurrence or a side effect of the PTSD Justin still frequently experienced. He turned to take a seat and was surprised to see Emmett there. He flopped into the chair next to him, bumping his shoulder and bringing Emmett out of his daydream.
"Emmy-Lou, what's up?"
"Hey Brian," Emmett responded distractedly which puzzled Brian.
"Okay who is he and how big was his dick?"
That made Emmett laugh. "No one and no dick, thank you very much. Not everything is about sex, Brian."
"Then why is the most Ho-Ho-Homo I know sitting here in the doldrums? Where's that fabulous flame I associate with you Honeycutt?"
"It's still here just tempered a little. And DON'T call me Honeycutt."
"Nice to see that you're normal," Brian said nonchalantly. "Seriously, what's eating you since it's not a ‘who?'"
Emmett took a deep breath and sighed behind it. "I'm going to be a father."
"No fucking way. I knew they were making strides in science but this..." Brian shook his head in disbelief. "So what guy did you knock up? Or did you jack off in a cup?"
"Neither you idiot." Emmett laughed. "My daughter was begotten the old fashioned way."
"You? Knee deep in pussy? I guess Joan was right and hell DOES exist," Brian snarked. When Em looked at him puzzled he said, "The visual of you fucking a man is bad enough but visualizing you with a woman is a fucking nightmare." Brian shivered for effect.
Emmett laughed. "Fuck you, Brian."
"Not while you're awake or sleeping. So who is this broad."
"Well remember when I was trying to go ‘straight?'"
Brian thought back for several moments before realization dawned clear in his hazel eyes. "That bull dyke? The one with the strong features but not as strong as Dusty's. Jesus Emmett!"
Em nodded. "Heather told me a few weeks ago. Ted was there and now I'm telling you."
"Well congratu-fucking-lations, Emmy-Lou. You'll make an alright dad."
"Thanks Brian for saying so." Emmett smiled. "I'm nervous as fuck."
"Why? She'll be doing the raising." At Emmett's silence, Brian questioned, "Right?"
"Wrong. Heather is leaving for Abu Dhabi the week after the baby is born. She's already signed over her parental rights."
"What the fuck?"
"The teaching position she applied for a year ago came through a few weeks ago. The day Horvath came to question you about the attack on Justin, Ted and I had gone down to the cafeteria to get some coffee and ran into her. We talked and I told her that I didn't want to deal with the bullshit of her coming back and reclaiming the baby. So I asked her to sign over her rights which she readily agreed to."
"Well good for you, Em. I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns on that matter. And she won't be hounding you constantly and..."
Emmett knew he was talking about Lindsey and Melanie. He'd never agreed with Brian signing over his rights to the Munchers but there wasn't much he could say or do to stop it. Brian had done it so that Mel and Lindz could get back together and raise Gus as originally planned. But Brian was a great father even though Em would never tell him that or he'd run screaming. Anything Mel and Lindz said they needed Brian was always available with a check, or parenting Gus when they needed a sitter. Emmett remembered the weekend of the Leather Ball when Brian had agreed to take Gus so that Melanie could visit her mother and Lindz could attend a teacher's conference before returning to work. He left Gus with Justin for a few hours to clear his head about Jack Kinney's impending death. But after those hours were up Brian hurried home to be with his son. No matter what anyone thought of Brian as a person, Emmett could see how much he loved his son.
"What's it like to be a dad, Brian?"
"How the fuck should I know?"
"Because you ARE a dad, Brian, no matter what anyone else thinks, including you."
"Uncredited guest appearances don't count."
"It's more than that and you know it, Brian. I've seen you with Gus; seen how fast you react when he cries or how your eyes light up when he does something new. Now you may talk yourself into believing that it doesn't matter but if I were to ask Gus I'd bet he would say it means the world."
"Well it's a good thing he can't talk then." Both Brian and Emmett laughed. Then Brian grew serious. "You're going to do fine, Em. You'll learn on the job just like everyone else."
"Like you did?"
Brian smiled one of the rare genuine smiles only few have seen. "Exactly. Had it not been for Justin... well let's just say that Gus and I have been lucky."
"Jesus, being a full-time dad is going to fuck up my social life."
"No more than being a part-time dad has bitten into mine, Emmett. You'll have plenty of help from Debbie and the munchers. Quit worrying so much. Your fretting for no reason is making my dick soft."
Emmett laughed. "Well we can't have King Stud put out to pasture no can we?"
"It wouldn't be good for mankind", Brian snarked.
"Hey," Justin said coming upon Brian and Emmett. Brian couldn't help but smile looking at the blond.
"Nice scrubs. Sunshine," he said. It was nice to see Justin in something other than than the gowns he'd had to wear for the many weeks he's been in the hospital. The constant click-clack of high heels on the hospital floors caught his, Emmett and Justin's attention. Melanie and Jennifer came rushing up to them followed by a very winded Charles Sands bringing up the rear. Justin had instinctively moved closer to Brian as the brunet nearly growled at the newcomers, "What the fuck is wrong? You three are about to scare Justin to death."
"Sorry Brian," Jennifer said feeling bad for not realizing how their approach must have looked to Justin. "It's just..."
Melanie cut in directing her words to the blond. "I don't know if you can do this Justin, but I need your signature on a few documents." Addressing the group as a whole she said, "Charles and I received a visit from the court reporter who worked the trial. Now what she told us is privileged information so I need you all to keep your mouths shut if asked."
Brian held up his hand to stall the rest. "Justin, you've been up a long time. Come on, I'll tuck you in and then you can sign whatever Mel needs you to, okay?"
Justin knew why Brian was suggesting that Justin not stand there and hear what the court reporter said. His cognitive filter was still messed up. Knowing what to say and what not to had been a problem for Justin since he'd woken up. Although he was angry at the situation, he was grateful that Brian had cared enough about him to not put him in a position that could ultimately be harmful. "Thanks Brian. Mel, whenever you're ready okay?"
The brunette smiled softly at him. "Okay Justin. Just give us a moment and then I'll send Brian back in with the documents after he gets you settled and I've filled him in on some stuff."
Justin nodded and allowed Brian to lead him to the bed. "I know that I can't know everything Brian but will you at least tell me what I'll be signing."
"Of course Sunshine. But that's it okay? Can you live with that?" The hazel eyes searched the lucid blue ones. He almost breathed a sigh of relief aloud. Usually after Justin's therapy sessions the blond is completely wiped out and would either fall asleep immediately after returning to his room or he would retreat into himself, staring blankly at nothing. Justin wasn't doing any of those things so it was a rare moment of relaxation for Brian.
"I can live with that for now, Brian. But please tell Mel to hurry up. I feel tired but I want this done."
Brian reentered the hallway. "We have to make this fast. Sunshine will probably drop any moment and then whatever this emergency is will have to wait again."
Melanie wasted no time getting to the business at hand. "Charles and I had a visit from the court reporter present during the Hobbs trial. She brought the official transcripts to Charles and I but what's amazing about the documents themselves is that although ordered to strike a comment from the record, she only did that with two sections of testimony."
"So what does that mean exactly?" Brian asked.
Melanie smirked. "It means that we need you and Justin to sign this paperwork so that I can get them into Judge Lano's office tonight. With those transcripts, we can hold everyone involved with the trial accountable for the fucked up verdict. It shows that Judge Russo allowed key testimony to be suppressed when the defense raised objection after objection; the prosecution only disputed one of them just to save face but it was the wrong one. It came from Bethany Colbert and detailed the events leading up to the bashing as told in Justin's own words. A lot of alliances were made and palms greased during this case. All the major players, including the witnesses Dr. Perkins and Kevin Dixon, all graduated Dartmouth within years of each other and remained friends. Not just friends but golf buddies, country club cronies and the like. Brian we have a fucking case and will sue every-fucking-body connected with this shit beginning with Craig Taylor and Samuel Hobbs. Craig is sitting on Justin's trust fund that was left to him by his grandfather. We have to stop him from withdrawing the rest of it especially since we all suspect he's been siphoning off the top for years. There's no telling what's left. First we need to formally request that the account be frozen-- Jennifer has already signed the request for Molly's money-- and then Justin is going to file a suit for the balance of the money that has already been used. That coupled with the defamation of character suit and the divorce proceedings which are already underway would be more than enough to teach him about siding with the men who would have murdered his son if they could have."
"Which bank is the account with Jennifer?"
"Pittsburgh Fidelity Bank and Trust."
Brian pulled out his cell phone. Mindful that he wasn't supposed to use it inside the building, he moved over by the sliding doors directly across from Justin's room which led to the enclosed patio area. "Ted, it's Brian. Listen who do we have at the bank PFBT that we can trust?"
"I only deal with Alfred Schultz, Brian. Why?" Ted asked.
"Do you think he could freeze an account for us. The paperwork is on its way but it's kind of an emergency. Craig may try to steal the rest of Justin's inheritance especially since we're going forward with the civil lawsuits."
"I'll call him right now and make him aware of everything."
"Let me know how much it's going to cost and get back to me fast, Schimdt."
"Will do Brian."
Brian moved over to Melanie even while checking on Justin through the window of his hospital room. "Let me have the papers so I can get them signed. Hopefully by the time Justin's able to finish these, Ted will have called me back." He handed his phone to Emmett. "You already know who to answer for and not to. Add Michael to that list for at least tonight, okay?"
Once Brian entered the room with the documents, Melanie turned to Emmett. "What did he mean? Who is he avoiding?"
Emmett shook his head before clearing his throat to answer. "Your wife."
Instead of the explosion Emmett was expecting, a look of understanding and sympathy passed over her face as she watched Brian talking to Justin. It was then and there that she decided it was time to have a very long-overdue talk with Lindsay.