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Chapter 7 - Nobody’s Sane in the Sanitarium.


<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Good morning my sweet Prince Hal," I whisper into the perfect little shell-like ear as soon as My Hal's eyes flutter open.

He gives me a small hint of a smile, the kind where only the very tips of the corners of his lips curl up ever so slightly so that you might just miss it if you're not watching closely. I'm always watching him closely, though. I can't get enough of looking at him. I could take all the time in the world and never get tired of just looking at him. So we just lie there together in bed, each looking into the other's eyes, and I'm amazed at the overwhelming sense of peace I feel.

Why didn't I ever do this before? I know that out there in the world it's hard to make the time. It's hard to open yourself up. It's hard to find the peace and quiet to just be like this. But, fuck, if I'd known what this could feel like, I would have tried harder. I should have tried harder.

Sometimes I wonder, if I'd tried harder, if I'd taken the time to savor those now lost moments, would it have made a difference? Did I waste my only chance? Would it have been enough to save Him from all this pain?

My Hal uncurls himself from around my frame and stretches languidly. His movement breaks me out of my melancholy moment. What the fuck am I thinking being all sad when I've got the perfect boy hallucination here in my arms right now? Carpe diem, right?

It's still too early for any of the other residents of the ward to be up. Luckily both My Hal and I tend to be early risers. Well, of course, who wouldn't be an early riser when they force us to go to bed before ten every night. But whatever. No use griping about it. Instead, I think I'll put our precious time alone to good use.

Trying to move as quietly as possible while leading a barely ambulatory patient through the still sleeping ward of a mental hospital, I tow My Hal after me, out of the room and into the men's bathroom. For once we're up before everyone else, we have a little privacy and no one's used up all the hot water yet. It's the perfect time for a private shower with My Hal.

I lead him to the furthest shower enclosure and turn the tap on so the water will warm while I undress us both. My Hal seems so alert and happy this morning, it's like he's really all the way here with me. Even the weak early morning winter light seeping through the small privacy windows in here, illuminate My Hal's beautiful golden hair. The glorious sight makes me feel all gushy and poetic inside - and this time we're talking iambic pentameter poetry, not Cat-in-the-hat poetry for once.

As I fill the palm of my hand with shampoo from the dispenser affixed to the wall, I try to think back to that Shakespearean Literature class I took my freshman year of college. What was that one sonnet I liked so much? Ah, yes, I remember:

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate . . ."

Another benefit of getting tossed into the nut house - nobody gives you shit when you get the urge to act ridiculously romantic!


<~> Justin's POV <~>

Brian Kinney watching - my new favorite hobby.

Okay, it's not really a NEW hobby. I've been an avid Kinney watcher from that first night I saw him. Of course, back in the old days, he was an elusive creature and I often had to stalk him for days to get even a brief sighting. Over the intervening years he must have become a bit tamer. Lately, I see him all the time, and I get to indulge my Kinney watching fetish without the stalking.

He's still so incredibly sexy - it's like a fucking feast for the eyes - even though I do notice a lot of subtle changes. Gone is the arrogance, the brash self-confidence, the vanity and narcissism. Instead I see more of the tender, caring, protective side he usually kept hidden except for those rare moments when we were alone and he let down his guard.

I have to say, I like the new and improved version a bunch. I still have no idea what Brian's doing here or what caused the changes. Everything is so jumbled up in my mind and I'm confused almost all the time these days. So, it stands to reason that this new Brian would stump me too. I mean, shit, a silly, romantic Brian Kinney? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron?

I'm pretty sure, though, in spite of my continuously dazed and confused perspective, I'm currently watching Brian Kinney tenderly washing me in the shower while reciting sonnets in my honor.

Really, what's not to like about this?



<~> Brian's POV <~>

"Brian, I'd like to talk to you for a minute," Lily pulls me away from the lunch table right after I get My Hal seated.

She seems serious but still has a smile on her face so I follow her over to the corner without worrying too much.

"I just want you to know, Brian, that I talked with Dr. Jerome this morning about Just . . . sorry, about Hal's meds," Lily states as soon as we're out of earshot of the rest of the diners. "He thanked me for bringing the issue to his attention because, for some reason, those prescriptions hadn't been reviewed for close on two years now and it was long past time to revise them. I told him that it wasn't me who'd noticed the discrepancy, but you, and he told me to convey to you his thanks. You WERE right about Hal's meds, Brian."

I suppose gloating, executing a victory dance around the perimeter of the dining hall and yelling 'I told you so', wouldn't be considered appropriate, but I still thought about it for thirty seconds or so.

"Although 'Hal' did have severe panic attacks and episodes of uncontrolled violence in the past, those symptoms haven't been apparent in a very long time. More than two years, actually. Based on that, Dr. Jerome agreed that the high dosage of sedatives and the anti-anxiety meds needed to be cut way back. Also, he's completely discontinued the migraine meds."

"Now, I want you to know, Brian, that this isn't going to be a cold-turkey thing. The meds will be gradually reduced in order to avoid any complications, but, the doctor IS hopeful that some of Hal's more debilitating symptoms, like the catatonia, will be allieved or at least improved as he's gradually weaned off the more serious meds."

"Yes! Less pills means less ills! Thank you, Lily! Thank you!" I whoop loudly, startling several of the diners into spilling their tomato soup, but I don't care. "I KNOW this will help My Hal, Lily. I know it! We can fix him, you'll see! Yes!"

"You did good, Brian," Lily gives me a big hug and I even let her without flinching at the uninvited touch since I'm so thrilled with this news. "It's a good thing you were so persistent about this issue. It's also a good thing that your friend, Mr. Schmidt, had your back. Please tell him thank you for me next time you see him."

"Now My Hal will be all better," I insist, looking over to the hallucination in question as if expecting an immediate change.

"You do realize there won't be any overnight miracles, Brian? It will take a few weeks for the reduced medication levels to have any effect. So don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate changes. Okay?" Lily tries to warn me to be reasonable and patient, but I'm too happy for all that shit.

I boldly announce the big news at the top of my voice to everyone present this morning. "Good news, My Hal! The doctors finally pulled their heads out of their asses and saw reason. I got them to fix your meds. Now you'll be perfect in no time!"

"Oh, Brian," Lily is shaking her head at my excessive exuberance, but I'm too happy to care.

I think it's going to work. I can fix My Hal. I'll be able to take care of him and protect him better than ever. And I'll never let anyone hurt him again.

Maybe, I think, I can even fix Him.



<~> Ted's POV <~>

Emmett is already waiting for me at the bar and sipping away at his first Cosmo of the night when I arrive at Woody's.

"Teddy! You're late, honey. You better sit yourself down and have a beer right quick so you can catch up with me!" Em greets me with all his customary exuberance.

"Hey, Em," I reply in my own customary laconic way.

We drink and catch up with each other, exchange all the latest gossip and compare stories about who we went home with last Saturday night. Then Emmett looks over at me with concern evident in his eyes. After a thorough examination, though, he apparently still hasn't uncovered the cause of his concern.

"Why so quiet, Teddy? You're not your usual ironic self tonight. Something bothering you, Baby?"

"Kind of, see I went to see Brian yesterday, and . . ."

"Oh no! Don't tell me Brian is getting worse? That poor man! That's terrible news, Teddy," Em immediately assumes the absolute worst.

"No, Em. No. It's not that. Brian's actually doing much better lately," I interrupt and derail his train of worries. "In fact, the last few times I've seen him, Brian has been really great. He seems much happier at this new place. You'd be amazed how much better he's doing. The depression, the paranoia, even the OCD tendencies and his phobias all seem less pronounced since they moved him. I mean, he's not back to being the old Brian Fucking Kinney we used to know, but overall he seems like a much happier person. I might even go so far as to say this Brian is an improvement."

"Well, well, well. That is good news. Although I'm not sure how I'll relate to a happier Brian Kinney. That just sounds so . . . wrong," Em laughs at himself, making the comment less harsh, but I know what he means.

"I know what you mean," I admit. "I'd actually become almost inured to his razor-sharp witty comments and the insults that practically bit your head off. The new Brian Kinney isn't like that at all. He's sort of . . . well, he's funny."

"Do tell! A funny, happy Brian Kinney? This I simply HAVE to see, darling," Em declares," playing right into my plans.

"Good. That'll work out perfectly, because I told Brian about your little decorating tip regarding the color orange and he was thrilled at the idea. So you, my dear Emmett, can help me locate the orangiest orange thing we can find and then you can come with me next week and give it to him personally."

"Oh, I don't know, Teddy," Em back peddles. " I haven't seen Brian in so long and it just broke my heart the last time . . ."

"It'll be fine, Em. I told you he's doing much better. Plus, he asked for you in particular. After all this improvement I wouldn't want to set him back if you refused to visit," I'm practically pleading here.

Emmett scrunched up his face, looking like a little kid being force to do something disgusting like eating cauliflower, but then he shrugs. "Okay. I guess it'll be all right. I can hardly refuse a command performance. Besides, I really am curious about this kinder, gentler, 'funner' Brian," Emmett relents good naturedly.

"Good. It's a date! Brian will be really pleased to see you, Em," I check that little item off my mental 'To Do' list. "Now, if I could just figure out how to work the other thing Brian asked of me . . ."

"Well, if Brian's fine, and I've already agreed to come with you for your next visit, what, pray tell, still has you all pensive, Teddy?"

"The other thing Brian asked me to do was to find out about Justin," I tell him, watching as Em's face falls almost on cue.

"Shit. That's a name I haven't heard in years."

"That's the problem, Em. Nobody's heard anything about Justin recently. Debbie said she hadn't talked to him or Jennifer since Brian OD'd and they had that big fight about whether or not to tell the kid. I haven't been able to find out anything at all about him. I can't even find Jennifer Taylor to ask her, since the phone number Deb gave me for her has been disconnected."

"Well isn't this your lucky day then, Ted Schmidt!" Em claps his hands, bouncing atop his barstool with excitement. "Auntie Em is here to save the day, Sugar! It just so happens that I ran into someone last weekend at that Country Club shindig I did who can probably answer ALL your questions."

"You did? Who?"

"Remember Justin's little gal pal, Daphne? Well, it just so happens that SHE was at that party. Seems she's dating this utter dreamboat - I think he was one of the ushers or something, and fuck was the guy hot," Em briefly zones out, thinking only of the most recent hottie he'd lusted after. "But I digress. I only got to talk to Daphne for about half a second before the caterer drug me off to deal with another crisis, but, you'll be thrilled to hear that I DID get her phone number and I promised to call her!"

"Really? That's excellent, Em! I guess I shouldn't have wasted my time by going to Debbie with this. I should have known to go right to the source of all things gossipy from the start."

Emmett is bowing and acknowledging the compliment, even as he's already scrolling through the contact list on his phone. Twenty seconds later, the man has dialed the number, ordered another Cosmo and is already gushing his hellos to Daphne. That's Emmett 'The Grapevine' Honeycutt for you.

"Daphne? Hi, sweetie, it's Emmett! It was so nice seeing you last weekend. How are you? Un huh? Really? That's great! . . ." I sit and patiently listen to the one sided conversation for about ten minutes until all the preliminaries have been taken care of before Em gets to the meaty stuff. "So Daph, I mentioned I'd seen you to Teddy, and of course it brought up the fact that none of us have heard anything about Justin in forever. If it's not too tacky of me to ask . . ."

From the responses Em's giving to whatever is being relayed on the other end of the conversation, I can already tell that the news isn't good.

Damn! I'd really been hoping to have something encouraging to tell Brian.



<~> Daphne's POV <~>

I'm sitting here wondering how I can kill Jennifer Taylor and get away with it.

I'm not having much luck. I can't seem to get beyond my desire to punch her face in with my bare fists and then strangle her. It would be so satisfying, but I worry that it's too messy and there'd be too much evidence left behind. Maybe I watch too many of those crime scene television shows?

But seriously, I think that even if I WAS caught, I could get off once the jury found out what a completely manipulative fucking bitch she'd been.

I can't believe what I found out when I talked to Emmett earlier tonight. I guess the lame sex I had with that dork who took me to his cousin's wedding last weekend was worth it seeing as it put me back in touch with Em and the gang. Or maybe I'd have been better off NOT knowing what I just found out.

How could Jennifer have hidden the information that Brian had OD'd from Justin and me? She knew how fucking upset Justin had been when Brian disappeared after they talked that one night. She knew that Justin was devastated when Brian never returned any of his calls and then simplyvanished. I was there when the doctor told Jennifer that most of Justin's symptoms were related to his depression - that many of his insecurities were due to the fact that he thought Brian had rejected him.

But that wasn't ever the case. Emmett told me that Brian had OD'd that very night after he left Justin back at his mom's condo. After that, Brian had been in and out of the hospital and apparently still had some problems. No fucking wonder Brian didn't return Justin's calls or manage to come see him. Brian was too busy trying to fight off his own bashing-related issues. It had NOTHING to do with him rejecting Justin!

And that fucking cunt Jennifer knew about it the whole time but said nothing?

This explains why Debbie and the rest of the Liberty Avenue gang simply stopped coming to see Justin - according to Emmett, Jennifer actually ordered them to stay away! All those times I had to sit and listen to Jus bemoaning the fact that all his friends seemed to have abandoned him and his fears that they'd never really been his friends after all. Justin truly thought they had just been putting up with him to humor Brian.

And it turns out that it was all because of Jennifer's stupidly mistaken belief that she needed to protect Justin from 'those people'?

How could she have been so blind to the hurt and doubt Justin suffered because of her lies? If Justin had known what had happened to Brian he would have immediately rushed to Brian's side. Justin would have moved heaven and earth to help Brian. And it would have gone a long way toward helping Justin to heal too. But, no! Instead, Jennifer hid the truth about what had happened to Brian, let her son think he'd been dumped by his lover because of the bashing and condemned both men to struggle alone with the repercussions of that fucking Homophobe, Chris Hobbs.

I'm going to kill Jennifer Fucking Taylor!