Summary: Same universe as "The Incredibly True Adventures of Stickman
Disclaimer: All characters and situations from Queer as Folk are properties of Russell T. Davies, Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, Showtime, and others. No copyright infringement is intended.
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(The Devil Went Down To Georgia)
Brian sees them, Ethan and Justin, the weight of Johnny fiddler's triumph landing somewhere to Brian's left, to Ethan's right, landing on Justin, silly rabbit, tricks are for kids. Justin's new fuck-toy thinks he's won, believes for some asinine 21-year-old reason that he's even in the game, while the layers of Justin's face peel away in broadsheets of Come after me and Your move, and other things too subtle for boys who play with wax and strings. Justin's sacrificed his knight, is waiting for Brian to take it.
Sorry, Sonny Boy, not tonight. The mask comes down, he plays some pawn on the dance floor, and when he next looks, Justin and his fiddler are gone. It's Brian's move, again.
"Who was that?" asks the plastic man, referring to Ethan, because everyone knows who Justin is, even if the boy himself won't admit it: Justin's the guy Brian Kinney fucks more than once.
"Nobody," Brian answers, not an answer at all, and reels in the trick. "Let's fuck," is an answer, just not one the man would understand, and that's fine, just fuckin' fine, thank you. Dandy, even.
He's icing over, the cool, comforting shell of rage a crystalline bell-jar between Brian and everything that pisses him off, which is everything. Rage drags the trick back to the jeep, into the loft, nails his so-so ass and sends it home at 2:58, "call your own fucking taxi."
Brian wakes up alone for the first time in God has it been a year already? Lets go of the pillow that he wasn't holding, the one that definitely does not smell like a blond schoolboy, because Kinney doesn't cuddle. Right.
He showers alone, the water hotter than he (Justin) likes it, gets dressed without comment from the peanut (Justin) gallery, doesn't remember how long it's been since he's taken care of his morning (Justin) hard-on by himself.
Routine is essential to the game. It's important to do exactly what one's opponent least expects, and for once Brian is innocent, the wronged party, a white bishop rising nobly above the fray. He practices in the rear-view mirror: red, bland indifference, green; stop, bemused pity, go; red, fond indulgence, green, and after all that, the kid is late for work. Kids these days, no work ethic. Predictable, so indifference it is and Justin's move.
A week of "hey" and "hey yourself, more coffee?" and Mikey sliding into his booth as Justin walks away. Justin hasn't been late again, more's the pity. He pours coffee, studied, steady, casual. Brian plays with his cup, considers Justin's posture, asks Mike, silky and not quite too loud, "Princess looks a little tense, don't you think?" an innuendo in the form of a question.
Michael is dependable, a rock, "What do you mean?" not adding that Justin might be a tiny bit pissed.
Smiling, sipping coffee, Brian watches Justin's shoulders twitch with wicked eyes. "Sunshine's a growing boy, needs his protein and plenty of exercise," guileless and oh, yeah, twitch, he's good.
"Brian," Michael sighs, warns, rebukes, remonstrates, and Brian may never forgive Justin for that fucking vocab review, never mind what the little shit got on his verbal.
Mike leans forward, confidentially banal, typically clichéd, whispers, "how many times a day did you two go at it, anyway?" ready to be titillated.
Too easy, really, but Brian's not a saint, just a bishop with a taste for blond boy ass, so he leans back, frowns with transparent glee, coos, "Sunshine..."
Justin turns, sulky and grim, and does he have a stick up his ass these days or what? "What?" and maybe the kid does need to get laid more after all, wouldn't that be ironic. A nice moment of convergence in any case, although the attitude could use some adjustment, as if the attitude wasn't 90% of why they'd gotten along in the first place. Brat.
"Mikey wants to know how many times a day we fucked," he relays, watches Justin decide which is more fun, needling Mikey or flouncing off in a huff, is rewarded with a sly smile and slinky hip-shot Twinkie on a stick.
"Each other, or in general?" arch words followed immediately by a flounce that's not huffy at all. Michael sprays coffee and Brian has to move faster than is really dignified to protect his tie.
Debbie thinks it's funny, "you tell 'em, Sunshine!"
(A Fine Romance)
The fiddler takes to showing up at the diner, although he doesn't eat. He hovers, turning up his sensitive musician nose at the polyglot menu, as if man could live on chocolate and candlelight alone, gradually alienating Debbie "can I get you boys something?" Novotny. Justin's shift-meals become massive pile-ups of food, obediently scarfed during his half-hour breaks. Justin attacks every meal as if it's his first and last, and always has.
Brian pays in fifties for a cup of coffee, "keep the change," but somehow never when the fiddler is around, and they all call him that, now. After the first pro-forma protest, Justin pockets the money, balancing on the fine line between principle and expedience.
Ethan is under the impression that he's guarding his territory, and the family lets him, Lindsay leaning over the back of the booth one morning to whisper "you devious bastard" in Brian's ear and kiss him on the cheek.
He gives it six weeks, and Brian's never wrong.
Daphne and Jennifer used to worry that Brian was a bad influence, and maybe he was, but Ethan made him cry, and it's possible that Justin needed to grow up, but just a little.
Post-Ethan, he's quieter and doesn't smile as much, but he smokes a lot more. Daph watches him change before her eyes, living a quiet month per mostly solitary day, and says so.
Justin grants her one of his now rare smiles, "it's the cigarettes, they cause premature aging," goes back to blowing smoke rings at the ceiling. He reads a lot, works on projects, goes out one night and stays out late, at which Daphne crosses her fingers, but the next day he's more morose than ever, if that's even possible.
She's elated to finally find out why, relieved in ways she's too smart not to examine. Daphne is a practical girl and romance doesn't pay tuition, or turn a boy into a man, and she looks at the hand that wore Ethan's ring for less than a week, the hand that still tremors when Justin is stressed or tired. She doesn't have to hear it to know that Justin is thinking the same thing, that romance makes promises it can't keep.
It's agreed that suicide is painless, but stalking is more efficient. Daphne betrays a gift for logistics, which -when combined with Justin's knowledge of their target- results in a plan to rival Napoleon's march into Russia.
They hadn't counted on Justin getting fired, but the best-laid plans are flexible. Justin girds himself in burgundy wool, tousled hair, blow-job mouth, and twenty-four hours later they're setting up Justin's computer in the loft while Brian lounges on the sofa, pretending not to watch.
Justin makes a point of bending over more than is absolutely necessary, and when they're done, she pecks Brian on the cheek and flees for places less likely to suddenly feature Justin's bare ass.
She can hear Brian's laughter roll out after her, Justin's happy squeal, and god! he's such a girl, sometimes. Back in her room, she'll call Jennifer, let her know that Justin's okay, sure that Justin is really going to be all right this time, or at least until the next drama.
"True liberty is not defined by a relationship between desire and its satisfaction, but by a relationship between thought and action: the absolutely free man would be one whose every action proceeds from a preliminary judgment concerning the end which he sets himself and the sequence of means suitable for attaining this end." ~ Simone Weil